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Monday, May 23, 2016

THE LOOSE ENDS LIST by Carrie Firestone | Who Needs a Bucket List?

Review by Jackie

The Loose Ends List 
by Carrie Firestone
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Published by NOVL one June 7, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon

A refreshing, funny, and moving debut novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
Death, friendship, love: they’re all a part of life. They’re good and their bad. Sometimes they disappoint. Sometimes they’re all you’ve got left. When Maggie’s Gram announces she wants to take her family on a death with dignity cruise after being diagnosed with a terminal form of pancreatic cancer, those three parts of life come crashing into her. On this around the world boat trip, there’s amusing humans also facing death, as well as a certain beautiful boy with a hella swoony accent who may just be a Great Love.

The Loose Ends List is such a good book. I sat down the Saturday following my first week of IB testing and read this book. I mean, I prepped for mother’s day and finished up my article for HelloFlo, but then I sat down with this gorgeous book and read and read and finished it. Besides this being the prettiest book on my shelf, it’s also one with a totally swoony main dude. He definitely joins the ranks among Etienne and The Warden. Enzo, Enzo, Enzo. You, sir, are adorable and that accent. Ugh. Disgustingly attractive. The characters in this book really made the book. I mean from Enzo to Gram, to the rest of Maggie’s family: they were all fun to read about. At times I found them overwhelming and insane. I mean that in the best way.

Isn’t that family? Insane and beautiful and chaotic? This book nailed the family relationship to a tee—even it was a big more expensive, and a bit eccentric than the majority of families out there.

Let’s talk a little but more about plot itself, and how the book involves the characters and life so wonderfully. As I said before, they’re on a cruise where all the patients go with the intention of this being their last big adventure. Maddie makes a Loose Ends List. This is the inspiration for Gram’s adventure. This book follows that last big adventure. All feels and romance and last words. It’s gorgeous and amazing.

I want to talk about the idea of a Loose Ends List versus a Bucket List.

First off, the whole idea of tying up loose ends applies to everyone; you want to do thing before you graduate college or high school. Maybe you have things to finish up before you’re married. It could be as simple as some things you want to do before summer is over. On the other end of the spectrum is a Bucket List. This concept has been around forever. It’s a list of things you do before you kick the bucket. Things to do before you die. The loose ends list is a much happier approach to the end, whatever that end may be.

It’s pretty obvious, I bet, that I really like the idea. I’ll be adopting it.

I really liked the characters, I loved the plot, and the Loose Ends List sold me. I think everyone should read this. When your finished, go ahead and ooh and aah over the beautiful cover. It’s worth it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Giveaway of the New Paperback of SWEET by Emmy Laybourne (US)

by Emmy Laybourne
Goodreads | Amazon
People would kill to be thin.

Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.

But will they die for it, too?

Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.
I'm so in love with this new cover! What do you think? Have you read this book?

  • 13 years or older
  • US only
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CIRCLE OF JINN (Becoming Jinn #2) by Lori Goldstein \\ More Like Circle of Questions..

Review by Sara...

(Becoming Jinn #2)
By Lori Goldstein
Age Range: 12-18 years
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (May 17, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Being Jinn is Azra’s new reality. As she grants wishes under the watchful eye of the Afrit council, she remains torn between her two worlds—human and Jinn. Soon, secrets spill. Zars are broken. Humans become pawns. And rumors of an uprising become real as the Afrit’s reach extends beyond the underground world of Janna.

Straddling the line becomes impossible. Aware of her unique abilities, Azra must not just face but embrace her destiny. But when the role she must play and those she must protect expand to include a circle of Jinn greater than her own, Azra will be forced to risk everything. A risk that means there’s everything to lose, and at the same time, everything to gain—for herself and her entire Jinn race.

In this dramatic sequel to Becoming Jinn, Azra’s story comes to a heartfelt and thrilling conclusion.

Oh Lori, how much I adore you and your writing. The end of book one hooked me, then book two was full of answers to the questions I had lingering.

This story is the continuation of Azra's journey into becoming a true Jinn and granting the wish of someone close to her. As Azra moves along, the world that she has always known is turned on its head. Secrets are revealed and Azra will be forced to accept her true destiny, one that is much bigger than she realized.

This book kept me on my toes, that is for sure. There are great plot twists and very well done character development.Where in the first book Azra came across as a spoiled 16 year old entitled brat, she has matured into the Jinn she needs to be and faces her problems head on. It was really great to read her actually grow up the way she needed to. Now that is not to say that people don't have their secrets but they do and not all of them are pretty.

There is a lot of  focus put on Azra's relationships with those she cares: her Zar, Henry, Nate, her family. She finds out more about her family and her true destiny, which is a lot for anyone. Thankfully Azra was written as a character that processed all of the new information with maturity. 

I did enjoy the actual plot of the story but there were times it felt as if there were too many sub-plots going on at once. It all felt like too much. That caused the story to lag in some spots, and rush through in other areas. It felt like a lot would happen at once and the reader was left thinking, "What just happened?"

Overall I enjoyed this book, but as I mentioned, certain parts felt rushed when they should have been slowed down and explained. It did have a great theme of accepting yourself and others. It does wrap up Azra's story with just enough unexplained to let the reader try to imagine what happens to everyone in the future. I gave this story 3 stars because of the issues with the plot. If the plot cannot stay at an even pace, I fear many readers will stop reading or force their way to the end and not be happy.


Friday, May 20, 2016

THE LAST STAR (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey | Heartbreakingly Awesome | Book & Audiobook

Review by Leydy

The 5th Wave #3
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 17 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Listening Library
Scheduled Release Date: May 24, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

Following the major motion picture release starring Chloƫ Grace Moretz, the heart-stopping finale to the New York Times best-selling 5th Wave series

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us. They're down here, they're up there, they're nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth's remaining survivors will need to decide what's more important: saving themselves...or saving what makes us human.
"Let no one despair, even though in the darkest night the last star of hope may disappear".

Life goes on. You get sick, you get better, but life goes on. This is not what happens in this series. Everyone must die, and if you survive, the Others will get rid of you. That is the mission and it must be done. Whether they, themselves, kill humanity or have human kill themselves. It must be done at the end.

Not to give any spoilers but this book left me speechless. From the very first words, I should've been prepared. Rick gives you clues and if you put them together then you should know the outcome. Regardless, if you put these together or not, the ending is still devastating. Just remember this is not a love story, not that kind of romance type of book. No, this is a battlefield story and in a war there must be sacrifices. Whether you like it or not.

Now, since I won't be giving out spoilers, I will tell you Rick Yancey will answers your questions in The Last Star. Yes, you will learn more about Ringer. You will still cheer for her and her bravery. She will lie, oh the lies, but she will be her best. She will fall thousands of feet, she will fight, she will be used as a weapon, she will surrender, she will endured and she will get her revenge. Cheers to you, my brave friend.

"You're the thing worth dying". Oh Evan, why must you make us swoon? Stop with your cuteness. Stop smiling, stop making us fall in love with you. So many sweet moments from the very beginning of this book. From the whole "it's your fault Sam is dirty" to doing everything in your power to help others. Between Evan and Cassie, these two will make you swoon but also laugh.

As for Cassie... She's more sarcastic, protective and braver than ever. I loved her, and I loved her cleverness. She is humanity and she's proud. In the mist of darkness her hope lit up the world. She is the last star, she is humanity and she's willing to do everything to keep Sam safe. She's an amazing role model and I applause her for her courage.

Although the ending left me shocked, I somehow expected this to happen. It makes sense in this story... even though I was worried it would end this way, once I read it, I was at ease. It was easy (still heartbreaking) to accept it because again, it makes sense. As I mentioned before, this is not a romance story but a war. A war to fight for humanity and survival. A story of hope and sacrifices.

Overall, I loved the audiobook. It was so easy to follow these characters and the story. I enjoyed how these narrators mimic some characteristics of each the characters, specially Cassie. I pictured Chloe reading this to me, as she was great as Cassie. The way they narrated this story was done so SO well. Their voices are not the types you tune out, but the opposite. You pay attention to every word they read.

As for the story itself... gosh, I'm still trying to process everything! So many things to think about and the hope it brings... The ending may be sad but realistic. When one sees a love one suffer, one will do the unimaginable and will sacrifice everything to ensure the other person's happiness.

"Forgiveness is born out of love".

THE BLOOD BETWEEN US by Zac Brewer \\ I'm (Not) All About It....

Review by Sara...

By Zac Brewer
Grade Level: 8 up
Hardcover: 274 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (May 3, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Growing up, Adrien and his sister, Grace, competed viciously for everything. It wasn’t easy being the adopted sibling, but Adrien tried to get along; it was Grace who didn’t want anything to do with him. When their scientist parents died in a terrible lab fire, there was nothing left to hold them together.

After years apart, Adrien and Grace are now forced to reunite for their senior year, at the elite boarding school where their parents were teachers. Being back around everyone he used to know causes Adrien to examine the person he’s become, even while being back around Grace turns him into someone he doesn’t want to be. But all of those questions are cast aside when Adrien starts to suspect that Grace might be stealing their parents’ research and claiming it as her own—or worse, that she had a hand in their deaths. Suddenly, the only questions that matter are whether she’s guilty and, if so, what Adrien is going to do about it.

I went into this story rather blind and I have to say that may have worked in my favor as I did not have super high hopes.

Adrien is the adopted son of two respected chemists that die tragically in an accident. Adrien's sister, Grace, is the model of perfection and never does anything wrong. She loves reminding Adrien that he has been adopted and not really her sibling. After the tragic loss of his parents, Adrien moves to a new boarding school in hopes of starting over... without his Queen B of a sister, Grace. After four years, more heart breaking news shatters what is left of Adrien's family and he goes back home to tend to matters. Along the way, he starts receiving cryptic texts from someone he doesn't know, telling him that Grace is up to not good and may be responsible for their parents' death. Adrien quickly spends all of his time trying to solve the mystery of what really happened on that fateful day and if Grace really did have anything to do with the death of their parents.

The first few chapters of the book hooked me. They were gritty, intense, and full of mystery. Sadly, that momentum did not hold up as the book progressed. Instead, the pace slowed to a crawl and it became frightfully boring. The interactions between Adrien and the other characters soon felt forced and awkward, like two strangers trying to rehearse a love scene after meeting for the first time. None of it felt believable or honest.

My opinion of Adrien changed as the story went on. I started out really cheering for him, but soon felt he was the biggest jerk on the planet. His actions were arrogant while his inner monologue made him appear to be a different type of character. I had a hard time trying to figure out exactly what type of character he was supposed to be: broken and suffering boy or arrogant, privileged son? Don't get me started on Grace and the other characters. They all felt flat and lifeless, as if they were written on the extreme side of their personas. Meaning, they were just too much and none of them relatable.

There were tough topics within this book that I was not prepared for: underage drinking and wild sexual behavior. Now granted, these are not new to the YA genre, but it felt as if the author was trying to use this forum - his book - to discuss the problems with these topics and how they should be addressed more in real life. Uh.. okayyyyyy... I agree but it did not need to come across as preaching in the book.

I wanted to enjoy this story more than I did, but it just was not in the stars. I wish there had been more tension and mystery, more suspense. I gave this story 2 stars because it was a quick read, but it was not a solid read.