This Chick Read: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Indie rock star, Greta James, breaks down on stage after the death of her mother, the world catching it on camera and making her grief go viral. Pushing back the launch of her sophomore album, Greta takes her mothers place on a 40th anniversary cruise to Alaska with her father, a man that she loves but that she’s always had a rocky relationship. Maybe this trip will help bridge the gap and keep her from losing both of her parents. While cruising she meets Ben Wilder, a guest speaker about a novel he’s written based upon The Call of the Wild. Ben is also going through personal loss, his broken marriage and missing his two little girls. In each other they find something that connects them and may help them overcome their trauma.

I have read two other books by this author and have loved them all. She balances drama and happiness so deftly and takes me on a journey that stays with me for awhile. Greta was an interesting character. Her first love is playing the guitar and everything in her life has taken a back seat to her commitment to be the best. Her father has spent her life worrying that she is choosing something that is doomed to bring her heartbreak, and despite her success he can’t help but lecture and push her to take a safer route. It’s actually kind of sweet if you think about it, but super frustrating as well. When she meets Ben, he becomes a safe place for her to escape from her complicated emotions surrounding her mother’s death and her feelings for her father but as the days pass she realizes that he is going through his own mixed up life and their vacation romance may be just that.

One of my favorite side characters is a young girl on the ship who idolizes Greta. She makes a great contrast to where Greta was in her childhood and where she is now in her own life. By helping this girl with her own guitar playing she gives her something that she never received in return. I thought that was a really neat circle of life moment that tied the drama in the book together really well and added moments of joy that I can’t say were missing but were only sprinkled sparingly through the book. It’s funny how having those brighter moments makes the contrast that much greater, isn’t it?

This was a very well planned, well executed novel. I really need to go back and read through Jennifer E. Smith’s backlog of books. I bet there are quite a few other nuggets of gold to be discovered.


I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

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Friday YA: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Hugo is all set for leaving his six siblings behind for his vacation in America with his girlfriend Margaret Campbell, but then gets dumped. His girlfriend very graciously gives him the trip anyway but there’s one problem. She was the one who booked it so unless he can find someone with her exact name, he won’t be able to use the trip. With his brother’s help he puts out an ad online for a Margaret Campbell who’d like a little adventure taking a cross country train trip with a stranger. Surprisingly, he gets a lot of responses! No surprise though, he ends up going with a girl his age, named Mae. Field Notes on Love ended up being a journey of discovery for both of them. They learned a lot about who they are singularly, but also who they were together.

This novel really took me by surprise! Hugo, the youngest of sextuplet siblings, he has always been a follower, going along with whatever plan his siblings have made. This vacation is the chance for Hugo to venture off on his own and make some discoveries about himself. Mae was the exact opposite. She made things happen, but when her life’s plan falls apart, she is adrift. She takes this cross country adventure as a chance to prove to others that she can shake things up and gather life’s experiences. Through getting to know each other they find out a lot about themselves.

My favorite thing about this novel was how Mae and Hugo interviewed their fellow travelers about the meaning of love. As we heard each person’s story we’d learn a little more about Mae and Hugo’s lives. Those intertwining moments really set this book apart from other YA contemporary novels and made it special.

This is my second novel by Jennifer E. Smith, having read Windfall and been equally charmed by that story. She has a knack for gently leading her readers in a direction and then “thwack’! hitting them over the head with the power of her words. I like that a lot and will keep coming back for those gentle smacks. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Smith is excellent at writing charming, sweet, lovely romances, though. And this hit all the notes. Hugo and Mae were endearing and sweet, and I loved the cross-country train trip, which was something a little different. It’s completely unobtrusive and utterly delightful.” The Book Nut

“This story doesn’t seem to broach into tough aspects in life, just a few problems that can be solved if one knows how to approach it. So, I find that it made my reading process easy and breezy. It was a story where I can forget about reality, go on an adventure and just unwind in these characters and what they have to say. It really felt as though I was there with them, boarding on trains all across America.” Legenbooksdary

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Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

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This Chick Read: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

What would you do if you won the lottery? We’ve all asked ourselves that question, haven’t we? Jennifer E. Smith writes a realistic story about three teenagers, Alice, Leo, and Teddy. Teddy is turning seventeen and is legal, at least for the buying and winning of lottery tickets. Alice, who has liked Teddy for years as more than friends, buys him a lottery ticket for his birthday and against all odds, those numbers she chose makes him a winner. The winning of that ticket sidetracks her plans of finally telling him how she feels.

Some of this book is pretty predictable. I mean, what would you expect of a teenage boy who wins the lottery? Yep, he goes crazy with the money, buying everything in sight and treating all of his friends. What makes this story unique are the intricacies of these kids personalities and back stories. Alice had been adopted by her Aunt and Uncle at age nine after her parents death. She struggles with feelings of self worth, wanting to please the memory of her parents with everything she does, that you begin to wonder who Alice really is and what Alice really wants out of life. Leo is gay and is going through a long distance relationship with his boyfriend who is a year ahead and has already gone off to college. Teddy, the winner of the lottery, is actually the son of an addicted gambler who abandoned he and his mother stealing all of their savings. Funny enough, Leo has the most normal storyline. One that quite a few of us have gone through and can relate with. It’s Alice and Leo’s story that drives this book and Ms. Smith did a good job of taking a big subject like winning the lottery and intricately weaving emotion, heart, and heartbreak through the glitz and glam of Teddy’s prize.

If you are a fan of YA contemporary romances then you need to pick up this book. It is chock full of emotions but I’d rate it PG in physical contact, safe for any audience. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click the link to purchase! Windfall

Copyright 2017 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

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