The Summer of Chances

Synopsis: Donovan Jordan is a young and handsome Jazz Band director navigating a career in education in a new and challenging city. Yearning for change (and a few extra dollars), he forms a Jazz/R&B band with his friends. Managing the band, his career and love life with an “on again off again” girlfriend gets intense when a strikingly beautiful co-worker makes her intentions known. Will Donovan realize his purpose through faith and perseverance or choose to play it safe?

Stars: DNF

Genre: Fiction – Contemporary

When Tracey Jackson reached out to me about reading and reviewing her novel, I was excited by the synopsis and the opportunity to support the work of a fellow black woman. As I tried to read The Summer of Chances, I found myself struggling to feel the same excitement with the writing as I did with the initial synopsis. The writing felt forced as if the author was so focused on setting the scene that adjectives became a requirement instead of thoughtfully placed. As I was reading the first few pages, it felt more like a student trying to meet a word limit on a book report than an author trying to build the setting. I also struggling with the balance of internal monologue, dialogue, and setting description. In the bit that I did read, it felt like each was fighting to be the priority rather than the story itself. Ultimately I didn’t not finish this read. Maybe I’ll revisit it in the future, but right now I just don’t feel the motivation to work through it. I can see the framework of the story being interesting and for readers who read with a less critical eye, this would be a great summer read. It’s only 250 pages so its not intimidating in size and the story isn’t too niche so I can see it reaching a wide audience. Ultimately, I wish Tracey the best of luck as she continues this series. 

Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda

I know I’m a million years late, but I finally read Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda by Becky Abertalli and I fell in love instantly. It’s the feel good novel I was looking for. I gave it a 5 star rating, partly because of the post-read high and partly because Goodreads still doesn’t allow for half stars in the rating system. My true rating would be 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed the plot development and that the I was genuinely surprised when Blue was revealed. I also liked that the side characters weren’t fully developed, but they weren’t entirely flat either. There was a healthy balance of knowing just enough to understand their perspectives when they would give advice or comment on something, but a limited amount of time was spent on them to ensure we weren’t detoured from the main story line. I find this to be really important when parents are apart of YA stories. If we don’t know much about them, it’s hard to understand why the main character is reacting in a certain way, but I felt like Abertalli did a great job of developing the Spier family so that we could understand their dynamic without need a full biography.

I’d like to commend Becky Abertalli on her ability to make a 300+ page book feel like it’s 150 pages. She kept the chapters short, the e-mail portions relevant, and kept the story pace at a good tempo. I felt like I could’ve read the book in one sitting, but I also found that it was easy to figured out when a moment or event was over so I could pause at the right spot. I long for the days when I was able to sit and read for hours a day, but as a person with a full time job and school, I find myself having to put books down because I have to, not because I want to. 

After the wonderful experience of Simon vs., I think I’m going to jump into Leah on the Offbeat next followed by The Upside of Requited. If you’ve read Simon vs or any of the other Creekwood books, let me know your thoughts!

– Rebekah

* I do not own the rights to the featured photo