Without Merit- Colleen Hoover

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Summary:

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.

Thoughts:

I’ve had the biggest reading rut for awhile now.

It doesn’t help that  I’ve been swamped with stuff for grad school and work (work starting back in August was a whole other mess in and of itself to be honest). So, reading hasn’t been a huge priority at all.

With that said, I knew the new Colleen Hoover book would still be on that I zoomed through. I’m serious though, it was the first book I finished in awhile.

I went into Without Merit without knowing much at all about it. I didn’t even really read the synopsis before preordering it. That’s just how much I usually enjoy Colleen’s books.

This one was a little different for me than her others as it focused more on a family rather than mostly romance. I think I would like more from the Voss family even though I know it is not likely to happen. However, it would be good to see what happens after this book and how the family learns and grows.

Again, this is quite different from Colleen’s other books, but it is still highly recommended just the same.

-M

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Blog Tour: Bad Girl Gone

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Welcome!

Welcome back! Today I’m featuring next week’s release (8/8/17) Bad Girl Gone. This book begins with an awesome cover and continues with lots of good twists and turns throughout.

Check out the excerpt below and pick up a copy next Tuesday!


Excerpt:

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When I tried to remember exactly how I came to be lying in the cold black room, my mind couldn’t focus.

I could feel myself slowly climbing upward, clawing my way out of the clutches of a nightmare. This was usually a good feeling, because you knew you were just dreaming, and the nightmare was over. Except this time it wasn’t. My hands felt clammy. I gripped the sheets until I knew my knuckles must be white. Help me, I thought. Somebody please help me.

I had no idea where I was, and for a terrifying second I couldn’t even remember who I was. But then I remembered my name. Echo. Echo Stone. My real name is Eileen. When I was a toddler, I waddled around repeating everything my parents said and they called me “Echo,” and it just stuck.

Remembering my name and how I got it kick-started my brain. I knew who I was. I remembered that I was sixteen years old and lived in Kirkland, Washington, with my mom and dad. It was all coming back to me. Mom was a dentist and Dad taught middle school English. Good, I could remember parts of my life. But I was still in a dark, cold room and had no idea how I got there. I held back a scream, my chest tightening. Don’t lose it, Echo, keep it together, I told myself. Calm down, think good thoughts.

I pictured Andy, my boyfriend. Six feet tall, broad shoul- ders, blue eyes, and long golden-brown hair. He loved to feed me cookie bites and called me his rabbit. I called him Wolfie. Sometimes he got the hiccups for no reason at all and usually laughed them away. Thinking of Andy momentarily made me feel warm inside, even though the room was freezing.

Where was I? I was shivering and yet also bathed in sweat, my skin slick with it. I clutched for my trusty Saint Christo- pher necklace. But it wasn’t there. Mom gave it to me to protect me when I traveled. Would it protect me now? I would never have lost it. The chain must have broken. And then I had an ugly thought. What if someone had ripped it from my neck? I shuddered. Where are you, Andy? I need you!

I opened my eyes as wide as I could. It was pitch black. My pounding heart told me, This isn’t some nightmare—it’s real. I hugged myself and breathed deeply, trying to calm my nerves. My shoulders were tight. I rubbed the sheets beneath me. The ones at home in my bed were soft. These were stiff and coarse. I was somewhere completely and painfully foreign. In my head I was talking to myself in a rapid voice, my fear voice: What isthis?—what is this?—what is this?

Someone nearby was crying. I had a knot in my stomach and my throat hurt, like I’d screamed for hours. My head hurt, too, and I guessed I must have fallen, or maybe something heavy fell on me. I explored my scalp, gently at first, then more bravely,

 

moving my fingers, searching for a lump. I found nothing . . . no lump, no holes. My skull was intact, though my long auburn hair felt tangled and greasy. I inhaled through my nose, search- ing for familiar scents. Mom’s cinnamon rolls, Dad’s after- shave. But nothing smelled even vaguely familiar, and the odors that did find my nose were horrible. Smoke. Vinegar. Sulfur.

I reached for my bedside lamp—but my fingers touched something damp and stringy. Oh god. The knot in my stomach tightened and I yanked my hand back. I willed my eyes to ad- just to the dark, but as I blinked, strange pulsing figures leapt out at me. It must have been my mind playing tricks. Right?

I took five good, long breaths, sucking in through my nose and exhaling through my pursed lips, just like my grandma Tilly taught me years ago. But five breaths weren’t enough. So I took ten, and finally my heart rate slowed from a galloping panic to a steady, cautious thudding. Soon I was able to distin- guish shapes. Was that a girl in a bed next to mine? Her hair was impossibly thick and long, spilling down her back. Her sweaty hair. That’s what I must have reached out and touched. My heart returned to its punishing rhythm, a fist clenching and unclenching in my chest. The nearby crying stopped. But then it was replaced by something worse, a ripping sound, like bone being cut by a rusty saw. And then a gurgling . . . followed by a low, feral growling noise. Faraway cackling laughter. What thehell was going on?

I was terrified and breathing so loud I was afraid I’d wake up the sleeping girl. Something told me I should lie still and keep my mouth shut. Stupidly, I ignored it. My voice was raspy, my throat aching . . .

“Mom? Dad?” Nothing. “ANDY?”

The words sounded weak in the stony silence that followed. My ears strained for the comforting sound of my parents’ familiar footsteps—but I was met with more cruel noises drift- ing through the blackness.

I heard a faraway clock ticking and an odd whimpering, and then a cough. But it wasn’t Mom’s or Dad’s cough; it was the cough of a child—a girl, I think. I desperately wanted this to be a nightmare. So I closed my eyes and tried to float back to sleep. But the terrifying sounds continued: the soft, almost melodic crying; the rhythmic, persistent coughing; the howls and metal- lic noises; the rushing water. I couldn’t take it. I opened my eyes again.

“DADDY?”

An echo from the darkness. Distant. Haunting. Mocking.

“Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”

I sensed something under my bed. The hair on my neck prickled. I imagined dangling my fingers over the side of the mattress, envisioned them being latched onto, bitten by some creature that would drag me down into its fetid pit. I held my breath and listened. There it was. Someone, or something, was breathing beneath me.

I slid to the edge of the bed and then slowly lowered my head, my irises widening. I peered into the shadows—and saw a pair of feral eyes peering back at me. Acid panic flooded my veins as I jerked back, thinking, Please don’t kill me. If you touch me, my boyfriend will hunt you down and beat the living shit out of you!

I heard a rustling sound, then footsteps. I saw the creature leap out from under my bed. Its eyes found me, then it scam- pered out of the room, on two legs I think, a flash of white. It looked human, but it could have been something else. What- ever it was, thank god it was running from me. Or wait! Maybe it was going to gather more of its kind and they’d come back for me in a pack. My skin crawled. Get out!

I couldn’t stay in this room. I had to get up and move. My bare feet hit the cold, wood plank floor. I took tentative steps into the shadows. A floorboard creaked beneath my feet and I froze. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I could make out shapes. Up ahead I saw a shallow pool of light. I moved toward it.

I walked slowly, taking tentative steps, my eyes darting back and forth. The hallway felt like a perfect place for an ambush, so I was alert, my muscles taut.

I passed a closed door on my right, another on my left. I caught a scent of smoke. I heard a splashing sound, as if some- one was taking a bath right above my head. I kept my gaze fixed on the pool of light that was spilling out from under a large door at the end of the hallway. As I drew closer, I could see that the door was built from thick oak planks and looked like it weighed a thousand pounds. On it hung a thick brass ring. On my right was a tall, old grandfather clock, ticking away like a metronome but with no hands to tell time with. It made me afraid and angry. What was I doing in a place with a clock with no hands?

I stepped closer to the thick door. My stomach tightened in fear. Something was terribly wrong. I was lost, adrift, not only in the wrong place, but I felt as though somehow I was the wrong me. I was jolted by a terrible thought. What if I never saw Andy again?

I raised my hand to grasp the knocker but stopped. Because I felt someone behind me.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” said a voice, barely above a whisper.

I turned and saw a slight boy, thin as a reed with long, snowy hair, eating a red candy apple. The hair on the nape of my neck rose.

“Wow. You’re a pretty one,” he said.

I might have blushed. I’d never thought of myself as pretty. My nose is crooked, and ever since someone told me my eyes were too far apart, I’ve been convinced of it.

“Want a bite?” he asked, holding out the apple

Final

Bad Girl Gone releases NEXT WEEK, so check it out and get a copy!

Review: Lucky in Love

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Summary:

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Thoughts:

Look, guys. Kasie West is an instant-buy for me…easily. Her books are always adorable and this isn’t any different.

I was worried going into this that it was going to be exactly like Jennifer E Smith’s Windfall, but they were different enough for me. Still both about teens winning the lottery, but different.

I will say that I didn’t like Maddie, but I think I didn’t like her because she was frustrating. Then again, I guess she was acting like anyone else who won the lottery would act, so I don’t judge this very harshly.

But…Seth. Seth is precious and just the type of male lead I like to see in a Kasie West book!

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick, fun contemporary book, then look no further!

Huge thanks to Scholastic for the review copy that was sent to me!

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (aka cutest contemporary in ages!)

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Summary:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


My Thoughts:

This. Book.

This might be the CUTEST contemporary I’ve read in awhile! I was grinning so much over how fun it was!

First of all, I was ecstatic that my Secret Sister through the OTSPsecretsister project sent me this book because I’d been looking forward to it. (If you’re reading this then THANK YOU again!) That package actually arrived right before I was about to leave for the beach in June and I thought, “you know what. I have lots to read for school, but I’m going to take this and read fun stuff this weekend!” I actually read another book first and then started this, but both were amazing beach reads!

I never could have imagined a book like thisbut I’m so glad that I found it. This is a book that, while it might look lengthy to some, will end up being a quick read because of how adorably captivating the story is. I do not know of another young adult book that discusses arranged marriages, but this provides any interesting look at Indian culture that is rare in books. While this is a fun, light contemporary romance, it also does a great job of providing representation to several groups, both culturally and through personalities and interests displayed in the characters.

I can’t wait to read more from Sandhya in the future after enjoying this one so much!

-M

 

The Upside of Unrequited

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Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is.

Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

My Thoughts:

I think I put off reading this because I was worried that I wouldn’t like it as much as Simon.

Man, I was wrong.

First of all, Molly was completely relatable. I found myself understanding exactly where she was coming from all throughout the book. I don’t feel like I relate to main characters often, but I totally got Molly.

Next, the cast of characters as a whole was SO diverse! There were so many groups represented and, from what I can tell, represented well. That’s huge for YA as we need more of that all the time.

I can honestly say that I can’t come up with a single complaint for this book. I read it fast and basically devoured the entire story. It was so cute, but also full of some good truths about relationships (both romantic and family) that everyone, not just teens, needs.

Spoiler- There’s also cameos from Simon and some of his friends in the book even though they don’t live in the same place, so that was great and a good treat.

Upon finishing Unrequited, I was kind of lost wondering what on Earth I should read next as it was such a great book. With that said, I cannot recommend this one enough and look forward to seeing what Becky does next!

-M

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

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Summary:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

My Thoughts:

First of all, yes- this book is super predictable as far as the story goes.

That said, it is also a cute story that I got completely immersed in and could not put down.

I’d had an ARC of Windfall for MONTHS and finally decided to read it since it was close to the release date. The next thing I knew, it’d been a few hours and I was halfway into the book. I finished the second half two days later (I’m busy, y’all!) and it held my attention just the same way.

So, sure, the story of winning a lottery ticket might be  predictable in its aftermath, but I still loved the journey just the same.

There was a secondary love interest that I almost wish had not even been in the story because there was so little development to that. In fact, at one point I thought he’d show up again, but nope…never to be heard from again.

I did love Alice’s struggle of finding her place and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life amidst the drama of her friend, and crush, Teddy winning the lottery. Alice had a rough childhood, so I was almost more interested in how she was going to turn out than I was in what was going to happen between her and Teddy.

This was only the second book I’d read from Jennifer Smith, but I definitely intend to read more soon.

Windfall releases tomorrow (May 2, 2017), so go ahead and order it for your fun read for summer.

Hello to Goodbye Days

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Summary:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


My Thoughts:

I loved Jeff’s first book Serpent King last year and was still in no way prepared for Goodbye Days.

With that said, I went into this book with HIGH expectations and absolutely was NOT let down at all!

I was tearing up within the first 3 or 4 pages, so I knew I was going to be in for a ride, much like Serpent King was a rollercoaster of emotions.

Most importantly, Goodbye Days has two very important messages in it.

First- obviously- the dangers of texting and driving. Carver’s life gets all mixed up due to sending his friends a simple text. Did he mean for something bad to happen? Absolutely not. But something happened anyways.

Second- Live everyday to the fullest. The people in Carver’s friends’ lives relied on Carver to imagine what they would have done with the deceased friends’ last days. That’s never something a person wants to imagine, but it teaches us to treat each day importantly.

Jeff has a way of creating characters that are real and easy to relate to for any reader. I may be several years older than his characters, but I find myself thinking, “man, I wish I could’ve had friends like this when I was that age.” Heck, I wish I could have friends this fun now even.

Overall, Zentner has yet again knocked it out of the park and I find myself anxious to see what he does next after loving his first two books. He has definitely earned a place as an insta-buy for me.

Goodbye Days is out NOW, so go grab a copy and always make the most of the days you have.