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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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: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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Summary:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure that Kasie West can do wrong when it comes to a contemporary romance.

This was my 3rd Kasie West book to read and I think it’s my new favorite so far (This one, PS I Like You, By Your Side–in that order). I’m anticipating reading her future as well as the other older titles I still haven’t read.

Anyways, one thing about Kasie’s books is that the synopsis never makes them seem as good as they really are. For example, the synopsis for this sounds super cheesy. Not even going to lie about it.

Either way, I thought the concept was cute even if the synopsis sounded cheesy, so I was glad it ended up working out in my favor.

I don’t want to say much for the sake of spoilers, but the character development for Gia was great for me. I loved seeing how she grew and changed as a person.

Her ending was almost exactly what I wanted. My only complaint is that I wish there was an epilogue. Maybe something telling what happens over the summer or once she gets to college. However, I get that it was probably best left the way it was.

This would be a great summertime beach read because it reads quickly, but I’m glad that I didn’t wait that long to read it. I own two of her older books and haven’t read them, so I’m looking forward to getting to them soon as well as her upcoming book in July, Lucky in Love.

-M

Spring Break TBR!

It’s FINALLY here!

I’d be lying if I said that the schedule isn’t a perk of my job as a school librarian.

Like…it’d be  BIG lie.

That said, Spring Break is finally here next week!

I originally planned to go to Universal in Orlando and experience the World of Harry Potter, but I kind of kept dragging around on planning and never booked that trip.

Sometime early last week my favorite band, The Avett Brothers, sent out an email to fan club members announcing an opportunity for the first 250 members to respond to an email and join the world premiere screening and a Q&A for their upcoming documentary (directed by Judd Apatow!!) at South by Southwest. This also includes a performance at the Moody theatre later that evening. I was about an hour after it went out replying, but figured I’d give it a shot knowing this would occur and then the next day I found out…I’m headed to AUSTIN!


So.

Where I live to Austin is about an 8 hour drive, so I should have plenty of time for reading.

That said, here’s three books that I hope to read over Spring Break!


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Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I’ve been meaning to read Heartless FOREVER and I got my friends to pick it for our book club selection this month so that I’d finally stop and read it. I’m a big Marissa Meyer and Alice in Wonderland fan and anticipate that I’ll like this one.


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Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

Okay, so I’ve never read a Morgan Matson book even with as much as I like cute contemporaries. I was recently gifted this from my sister sister in the #otspsecretsister program and am looking forward to reading it. What better time to read a roadtrip book than on a roadtrip, right?


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I started it the day it was released in October and hit a reading rut and I think I’m ready to tackle it again. Enough said? I know that I’ll love it. I’ve heard it’s even better than Illuminae was, so I’m looking foward to it.


I obviously hope that I can read more than just these 3, but these are where I plan to start!

What’s on your TBR right now or have you read any of these 3 books?

ALSO! I’m open to any suggestions for when I’m in Austin for food or cool things to see!

-M

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.

Love for The Hate U Give

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

My Thoughts:

    I don’t even know where to begin with THUG.

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I read THUG late last year, I believe in early November. I was already excited for it after hearing author, Angie Thomas, read from is at Mississippi Book Festival in August. I was sold and knew this was a book that I wanted to read.

Boy, was I….RIGHT.

I was completely blown away  by Starr and her situation. The writing was real and I could easily (I say easily lightly, because painfully is a better word.) see the story play out. I couldn’t quit reading because I had to know what was going to happen next in Starr’s world.

More importantly, sure, the book is great and  teens (EVERYONE) will love it for what it is, but it is so TIMELY and important with the message it sends out.

The biggest part is that it helped me further understand the kids that I work with everyday. I’m in a small town, yet urban setting with lots of low income families. I graduated 10 years ago from a high school about 30 minutes where I’m now a high school librarian, but 2017 in my school’s community is a whole other world from 2007 in the school and world I graduated in. It honestly helped me “get” where some of these kids are coming from and to understand some of their actions that I see on a daily basis.

That’s because of just how real the writing it. It’s also why I feel like young adult literature NEEDS more own voices books. Kids need to be able to see themselves and their communities. I didn’t intend to write this review on the day that I did, but the need for diverse and own voice books has especially hit me today because a Hispanic girl came to return a book today RAVING about how much she adored what she’d read because “It was so different. So many books are about pretty, white girls- and that’s okay too, Ms. Hays, don’t get me wrong!- but it was neat to have something different even if it wasn’t a Hispanic girl in this book.”

That kid struck a chord with me like she wouldn’t know because the importance of DIFFERENCES is one thing I try hard to push for the kids in my library so often. Sure, read the stuff that’s popular. That’s awesome, but read diverse books and see yourself, your peers, and other aspects that you don’t typically see.


This ended up going on way longer than I intended, but, honestly, I cannot speak highly enough over this book at all. I can’t wait until I’m able to order more books for my library next school year so that I’m able to share Starr with the kids in my school. They’ll love knowing that Starr was living in a neighborhood based on one not too far from where they live.

February 28…GO GET IT. You will not be disappointed in the slightest!

-M