Review - Colonial Madness - Jo Whittemore

Colonial MadnessTitle: Colonial Madness
Series: N/A 
Author: Jo Whittemore
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: February 10th 2015, Aladdin
Pages: 240 Pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Edelweiss for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!
A mother-daughter duo take part in a bizarre family challenge in hopes of winning a fortune in this hilarious novel that Gilmore Girls meets The Westing Game!
Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it's awesome. Not many girls have a mom who takes them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world's biggest sundae. But as much as Tori loves having fun, she sometimes wishes her mom would act a little more her age. Like now.
Thanks to her mom's poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in the form of a bizarre type of contest put on by an eccentric relative: Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family's colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period.
Tori thinks it's the perfect answer to their debt problems, but she and her mom aren't the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor and it doesn't help that Mom doesn't seem to be taking the contest seriously. Do they stand a chance?

*Quotes are taken from the ARC so they are subject to change*

When I saw this book available to download on Edelweiss, I jumped at the chance! I absolutely adore middle-grade novels of any kind, especially ones that have a unique plot line, family bonding and a fun competition of some kind! This book was the perfect contender and it lived up to and even surpassed my expectations. The characters felt real, the writing was addictive, the pacing was perfect and the snark, oh the snark! It was absolutely glorious.

Colonial Madness features Tori and her lovable - if irresponsible - mother who live in an apartment above the dress shop Tori's mom runs. However, they are in danger of losing their home and the business due to Tori's mom's lack of handling her finances - but then a wonderful opportunity comes up! In the late Muriel Archibald's will, she gives certain family members a bizarre, unique challenge where the winning member will gain possession  of the Archibald Family's colonial manor. The challenge? To live as if they were in colonial times for two weeks. That means no technology, no bought food and absolutely no modern conveniences. For Tori and her mom, this is the perfect chance to get money to pay the bills and save their property. However, will they be able to win against their competitive family members and will Tori's mom take this seriously enough in order for them to gain possession of the manor? I highly suggest that you pick up this book and find out!

I adored this book. Seriously, it was so much fun to read! The characters were perfect, the story line was perfect, the pacing and writing was perfect, basically everything was perfect.

The characters were fantastic. I absolutely adored Tori! She was nerdy, she was snarky, she was adventurous, she would do anything to help her mom, she was courageous and fair and I just utterly adored her as I could relate to her a lot. She's honestly a character I would love to hang out with as I think we would get along famously, bonding over books and research and exchanging witty banter back and forth. Seriously, you guys will love her!
'This was a serious, adult manner, I decided to handle it in a serious adult voice. Which, for some reason, also happened to be British.'
'"Well aren't you just a fountain of information," said Mom, changing into her own costume.
"It's called reading," I said. "You should try it."' - Tori gets us.
I also really liked Tori's mom. She was irresponsible and quite careless but she was fun and you could see she really loved her daughter and truly wanted the best for her! I felt sorry for her as you could see how disappointed she was when Tori thought that she wouldn't be able to complete the challenge, but I admired how that spurred her on to do her best in order to make her daughter happy.

Their mother-daughter relationship was truly a spectacular thing to read about. I loved how (most of the time) they supported each other and how they were both willing to do everything for the other. I loved their witty conversations and the shenanigans they would get up to! I also loved the tender way in which Jo Whittemore handled a mom and daughter's alternative viewpoints and their differences. It was a truly wonderful bond and I would suggest to a lot of moms with tween daughters that this would be a splendid book to read together, so that mothers and daughters alike can understand the other one better. I loved their relationship and the dynamic duo made me guffaw several times.
'"Who's Muriel Archibald?" I asked while Mom read the letter."Your dad's great-aunt who...apparently passed away last week," said Mom, wrinkling her forehead. "I'm surprised it took so long.""Wow," I said. "So, obviously, you were close?"Mom made a face. "Don't get smart."'
'"Tori!" she rushed over. "Is everything okay?"
I shook my head. "I...need..."
"What, darling?" Mom clasped my face between her hands. "Air? Water? For us to really exercise at the gym?"' - After Tori comes rushing in from outside. 
'I stomped toward my bedroom as loudly as possible. My phone chimed with a text message, and I stopped to check it. It was from Mom. You're going to make an excellent ballerina. So light on your feet!' 
From the video Muriel sent to them about her will before she died, I could tell she had a hilarious sense of humor and that she was even more sarcastic than Tori. I would've liked to see interaction between her and Tori as I think that would've been quite enjoyable! *Spoiler*When Muriel wasn't dead after all that was quite a surprise, but I LOVED that I got to know her better as from the beginning I knew that she was somebody I wanted to know more of - I'm so glad I got that opportunity. It would've been nice to see more interaction between Muriel and Tori as I think the banter would've been fantastic, but it didn't decrease my enjoyment of the story at all.*Spoiler*
'"Hello, nincompoops," said Great-Aunt Muriel in a deep, commanding voice. "If you're viewing this, then you've managed to outlive me. What a pity."'
"But Charity [Muriel's horse] cannot appreciate the grounds of my estate nor its proper manor in the proper manner." Great-Aunt Muriel frowned and spoke to someone off camera. "That sentence was appallingly cute."' 
Then there was Caleb, the son of Eli, the man hosting the challenges. I really liked Caleb! You could see that he was a kind, loyal boy and I loved how him and Tori could bond over being quite geeky as well as their difficult home situations. Their time spent making leather bracelets and earrings in the forge while getting to know each other was lovely to read about! The romance was innocent and sweet, perfect for a middle-grade. I like how the author captured the feelings of first love and I thought it was extremely realistic, especially when Tori started crushing from Caleb nearly as soon as she met him as that's generally what a lot of young teenage girls experience. It was an adorable romance!
They reference The Hunger Games:
'"Can I give you some advice?" he asked. "My dad has nothing against you personally, but I can tell he's really excited for this witch trial. The odds aren't in your favor." I frowned.
"How very Hunger Games." 
Which is pretty awesome.

The other cast of characters were diverse too! There were Angel and Dylan, Tori's two cousins. As well as their parents: Angel's hippy parents, Uncle Deke and Aunt Zoe, and Dylan's cowboy dad named Uncle Max. I found them all interesting and they all felt very real to me. I really liked Angel but I was quite disappointed in her at one stage in the book, but I could kind of understand why she did it and I still liked her all the same, although I had lost some respect for her. Each characters had their own personality and I could always distinguish between them.

The story line of this plot was fantastic! I loved the different challenges and I loved how they had to go without modern conveniences, although I  think it would've been more realistic if more emphasis was put on the struggles they faced without modern conveniences, but that wasn't even an issue and didn't make me enjoy the book any less!

Overall, Colonial Madness was a delightfully charming, unique read! I absolutely fell in love with the diverse cast of characters and once I'd closed the book, I felt as if I'd lost a friend! The humor was utterly perfect and I caught myself chuckling out loud on several occasions. The writing was fabulous, as well as the plot and I wasn't bored for a single moment - in fact, I read most of this book in one sitting! I would highly recommend this as it's a fantastically fun book to lose yourself in. I shall definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

I give it: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!