ARC Review: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone + My Loose Ends List


Title: The Loose Ends List
Author: Carrie Firestone
Pages: 352 pages
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Source: ARC from TheNOVL
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 4/5 stars
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.
 

Preorder now!

**Thank you Little, Brown for sending me an advanced copy. This has not affected my opinions for this book**

I thought I would pick this up after the publishers so kindly sent me an unsolicited advanced copy. I must say, the cover is the most stunning thing I've ever seen but what's underneath is even more glamorous. The synopsis sounded promising, filled with love, laughter and loss.

Maddie's summer is about to be completely turned upside down when her grandma announces that she's terminally ill and wants to spend the entire summer with the family on a 'death with dignity' cruise ship, the Wishwell. She's doomed to spend the next eight weeks with her not-so-tight-knit family to bid her grams adieu. What she doesn't expect is getting closer to the members of her family and meeting a boy who's also going through the same thing - saying goodbye to a dying family member on the cruise, that is. SO maybe this wasn't the summer Maddie was expecting, but is it that bad in comparison to what could have been?

The family in this book is very different, to say the least. When the synopsis said over-the-top I was thinking over-the-top as in a family that likes to humiliate and prank each of its members. In no way was I thinking straight-out-of-the-loon-bin-over-the-top. This family is seriously CRAZY, but for the best of course. I'll admit I thought they were a tad obnoxious in the beginning, but they really begin to grow on you like moss on a tree. They aren't so tight-knit but we see as the each day on the cruise passes, they begin to appreciate their quirks and even the members who don't see eye to eye begin to look past differences.

But I'm also not just talking about Maddie's family, I'm speaking for everyone. All the Wishwellians- those are, people who attended the cruise. Loss and tragedy, that's expected. So you could sort of see the appeal in meeting a new character after someone passed away. For some reason, it felt right (and in no way am I saying dead is right).

Maddie's grandma was a character that I appreciated. She was not only a wise role model for Maddie and her family, but for me as well. Her take on life was what I valued the most. Sure, she knew she wasn't going to make it off the cruise alive but she took life by the balls and said, "I'm not spending the last weeks of my life strapped up to an IV in a white room." Let's just say she's not your average grandma and it gave the book that wow factor. The fact that this old woman who's about to die is so happy about life just makes you want to get up every morning to see what you're missing.

The humor played a huge role in keeping me on top of my reading game, and I found myself wanting to jump into the story when I was preoccupied by other less interesting things. It's hard to find humor when you're on a boat of people who are going to die soon but Carrie Firestone somehow made that very possible.

The whole point of the cruise wasn't just a way for family to say goodbye and have their last hurrah, but it was also the beginning of their lives. They would leave the boat knowing they had no regrets with the ones they loved. Maddie's grandma made sure of that. It's a message I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

The one thing that I couldn't handle though was the ending. I felt it was a bit unfinished and it left a huge gaping hole in my heart. Yes, going into this book I knew there was going to be heartbreak but the end really leaves me to question whether the author plans to write a sequel a few years into the future of Maddie and her family's life.

Sure knowing your expiration date may be scary, but it pales in comparison to knowing and not spending the last of your days doing the things you've longed to do with the people you love. Don't take life of family for granted because just like that, it can end just as quickly as it began.

Arena by Holly Jennings | WARNING: I CURSE ABOUT I MUCH I LOVE THIS BOOK


Title: Arena
Author: Holly Jennings
Pages: 336 pages
Published: April 5th, 2016
Source: ARC from Ace publishing
Genre: Science Fiction, New Adult, Dystopia
Rating: 5/5 stars
A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...
Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.  She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside...

Buy it now!
Based on previous experience with books about virtual reality, I was quick to reach out to ACE publishing to request this stunning debut. And in short, this book did nothing but impress me. Arena brought the best of Ready Player One's thrilling and action-packed fight scenes and the snarky romance of any well-written New Adult contemporary.

Arena takes place in a society where virtual gaming has dominated and has become a well-recognized trend. Among the many virtual reality games, there are the RAGE tournaments where competitors compete in teams of 5 in combat to the death with weapons. Kali Ling, along with her teammates, love the rush that any VR game brings them. That is, until one of them overdoses, dies and Kali is appointed the new leader of team Defiance- one of the top teams in the industry. They've also got a new team member, the handsome Rooke who Kali can't seem to keep her mind off of. They must learn to work together as a team and possibly win it all in the championships. However with Kali relying so much on the VR world, she may not realize that she's loosing her grip on reality.


This book is a nod to the YA diversity that I have been dearly missing and not only with a female protagonist. She is also half Chinese! There are many cultural aspects as the book takes a deep dive into talking about Taoism. I appreciated the inclusion of an LGBT couple. It seems like there was an influx of diverse topics and characters, And although these aspects may seem really out of place together, they were seamlessly woven into the story that it felt effortless.

I don't think I've ever connected to a character more than I did with Kali, and not just because she's Asian. She is deeply flawed to the bone and doesn't realize it till halfway through the book. It's not to say that I loved her from beginning to end, considering I did have a problem with her when I first met her. She was this overconfident and cocky player who thought she was better than everyone else and acted a little bit too much like Celaena Sardothien-y. But not to fret, she grew away from that and it's because of the inner battle she fought that made her character all the more alluring. The whole time you're reading the book you realize that if she wants to get rid of her problems, it's all up to her and no one else. Kali was not afraid to embrace her ethnicity and race, which is something I've seen less and less in books with diverse characters. Plus she's a girl gamer, so she can kick some real ass. She's just so fucking amazing.

What may turn a lot of readers off, however, is the mention of it being in the genre of New Adult. Or it might turn people on, hey, you never know. For me, it was an automatic yes since NA is a genre I want to explore. What to expect? Profanity and lots of it. Sex, drugs and clubbing. Honestly it wasn't even that bad. I know for some people when they think of NA they think erotica. At least, that was always what I thought. The sexually explicit scenes were nowhere near erotic and are comparable to those in any other science-fiction YA books. So if you're worried about this book being 'too NA', for a lack of better words, then please don't be.

Holy shit. The romance was so fucking beautiful. This book made me feel so sexy. Wait no, scratch that. That sounds weird and so not platonic. I think the one thing that totally buys readers over when it comes to romance is snark and the classic trope of enemies become lovers. I really enjoy that trope when it's well done and Holly Jennings couldn't have done it better.

Looking for humor? This book's got it! I just about ate up all the dirty jokes and creative comebacks. LIKE WHAT ARE YOU HOLLY JENNINGS? A FREAKING COMEDIAN?

What more can I say to make you read this book? The lovely people at ACE/Penguin were nice enough to send me an ARC but me, being a complete idiot, just recently picked it up and now I regret not picking it up sooner. Arena is not a story, it's an adventure- filled with mystery, darkness, virtual gaming and smutty romance! Pick up this book and press start because I did, and I'm never looking back.



The Last Star by Rick Yancey -- Expectations, Theories and Predictions

NYT Bestselling Author Rick Yancey's final installment is soon to release and with it, the prediction of what's going to happen to an amazing cast of characters and a thrilling adventure. One can only hope to guess what will happen with Cassie and gang. We hope for the best but the end of the world is impossible to predict. Working with Penguin Teen to celebrate its release, I'm here to tell you what I think is going to happen in the third book (and I hope I'm right).

**Please refrain from reading on to avoid spoilers**

What happened: The Infinite Sea? **important info

  • The book picks up a few days after Cassie and the gang have escape Vosch's camp, but Evan wasn't able to make it out to meet them. Cassie is now reeling over the realization that he may not have made it out of the blast alive. 
  • Ringer and Teacup get separated from the group and captured back with Vosch.
  • Turns out, Evan got out safe and he is rescued by another enhanced being named Grace, who is just like him. Grace also has some inquiries about her existence and the foreign meaning of love. He soon escapes from her and meets up with Cassie and Ben.
  • Vosch decides to experiment on Ringer and gives her an enhancement serum. 
  • He reveals to Ringer that there were never any aliens. Evan and Grace have just been enhanced by other humans and were thought to believe that they were aliens. 
  • While Ringer is captive she meets her caretaker, Razor. Razor tells Ringer he is going to help her escape but tricks her when she comes to realize that she is meeting Vosch again, who has Teacup. Vosch leaves Ringer with Razor. The two fall in love. 
  • Ringer, who is so keen on saving Teacup, goes back to Vosch to get her. Vosch wants Ringer to become his secret weapon and he threatens her by saying he'll kill Teacup if she won't. Razor shoots Teacup and tells her to run. Vosch shoots Razor. 
  • We're back with Cassie as she and Ben discuss a plan to end this once and for all. 

**Taken from RT Book Reviews

Thoughts + Predictions

  • Evan will die in the next book. Sorry Evan-shippers but if we learned one thing in The Infinite Sea, it's that Rick Yancey has #noregrats when it comes to killing characters. We did, in fact, see many character deaths in the 2nd book and all very hard and painful to read. 
  • Ben will die. POINT IS, SOMEONE WILL INDEED DIE. I pray to the book-gods that Ben won't be the one to die. 
  • Ringer will be the one to kill Vosch. After reading TiS, it's clear that Vosch sees something in her. He sees her determination to keep her friends safe and loyalty, it's admirable. Vosch might even see Ringer as a leader and a good candidate of brainwash. If Ringer is feeling anything from being held captive by him, it's hot, seething anger for him. After all, he did kill Razor. 
  • Let's hope for a Ben + Cassie ship but I doubt it at this point. Now that Razor's gone, Ringer will need someone to learn on. And we all know who that will be...
  • Evan remembers what happened to him before being brainwashed by Vosch and taking the enhancement serum. It'd be most helpful if Evan could recall all that happened to him. He could explain it Cassie and Ben.

MY THEORY!

  • Here's how I imagine the whole story going down: These sadistic and sick scientists (Vosch included) had a dream of making humans smarter, faster, stronger and better. So they made this enhancement serum to test it on human subjects. What better way to test a human's ability to survive than with an apocalyptic disaster that would wipe out everyone but the strongest players? What Vosch and his sick scientists didn't work out is the aspect of love. Love conquers all and it's one thing they'll never have over the humans because enhancing someone doesn't mean you take away their ability to love. It only enhances it.  
To read an extended sampler for the final installment, click here


Will happen in The Last Star? Find out May 24th! 


Cover Reveal: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Thoughts

I think the cover reveals are just as exciting as the actual book release, or even more. Today Sarah J. Maas unveiled the cover for the fifth installment in her most well-known series, Throne of Glass. Unfortunately I couldn't be at BEA to celebrate the release as so many were but I still want to talk a little about how I think the cover looks and my excitement for the upcoming installment. 

**PLEASE REFRAIN FROM READING TO AVOID SPOILERS FOR THIS SERIES**

And the cover is...



Title: Empire of Storms
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Pages: 704 pages
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Preorder it now! 
 
Honestly though... 704 pages?!?!? I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing because I did have trouble getting into reading Queen of Shadows. By the time the series is over, there will have to be an entire shelf dedicated to this series. I can just imagine when the sixth book comes out. I'll be so screwed because I have to read the entire series over. I'm not the type of reader that remembers everything she reads after taking a long break from the characters and the world-building, especially this high, epic fantasy.

But can we like just talk about this cover for a second... The cover gods have just blessed Mrs. Maas and her wonderful series. I don't know if I'm the only one who notices this but this but the cover is reminiscent of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Coincidence?? I THINK NOT! After all, Maas and Dennard are the besties of both worlds.
The only thing I'm concerned about is the major spoiler on the cover. Notice it yet? I'm going to give you a moment to take it in. 

Okay so from what I vaguely remember from the ToG series (since I haven't been in that realm for a while now) is that Celaena doesn't start out with any magic. All we know is that she's as assassin, who is entering a contest to become the King's champion. In the second or third book we know there is this lost queen who is supposedly ruler of this large kingdom and... SHE HAS POWERS. But wait, we're not supposed to know who it is yet. Just the fact that the cover shows Celaena wielding a fireball makes me wonder if people who haven't read the series yet are gonna assume she has powers. And even if they don't assume that on the get-go it'll be pretty clear when they get to book two or three. So yeah,,,, major spoiler there :P 

Other than that I think the cover is stunning, and I'm so glad I decided to start this series early instead of having the burden to read through give chunky books. To the continuation of one of my favorite series *brings glass up to clink with others* LONG LIVE THE THRONE OF GLASS series. 

Also tell me down below because I want to know... Do you think this series is getting too long and just dragging? 

What are your thoughts on this cover?


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