Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak

51hst95rbtl-_sx330_bo1204203200_Title: Wild Blue Wonder
Author: Carlie Sorosiak
Date Started: September 13
Date Finished: September 19
Format: Hardcover from a subscription box

There are two monsters in this story. One of them is me. Ask anyone in Winship, Maine, and they’ll tell you the summer camp Quinn’s family owns is a magical place. Paper wishes hang from the ceiling. Blueberries grow in the dead of winter. According to local legend, a sea monster even lurks off the coast. Mostly, there’s just a feeling that something extraordinary could happen there. Like Quinn falling in love with her best friend, Dylan.

After the accident, the magic drained from Quinn’s life. Now Dylan is gone, the camp is a lonely place, and Quinn knows it’s her fault. But the new boy in town, Alexander, doesn’t see her as the monster she believes herself to be. As Quinn lets herself open up again, she begins to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined.

Okay. This book was cute and I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much when it came to Wild Blue Wonder, the last subscription box book for the month was somewhat of a disappointment. But this one was definitely special. The alternating chapters from different parts of Quinn’s life – right now and what happened last summer – took a bit to get used to, especially the last summer chapters since it took me a few minutes to figure out that Quinn was writing to Dylan – the ‘you’ – and once I understood that the chapters seemed to flow better. I loved Quinn as a character, because you got to see what her life was like that summer, and how she was trying to get over it now (spoiler alert: not well). But it isn’t until the new guy walks into her life that things seem to get a little bit better one day at a time.

And yes, I did love Alexander and Hanna too. These characters are just so…wow. I mean, Hanna was barely introduced and she already seemed to float right off the page. I could see her a real person with all her crazy quirks and I loved that she was in this novel so much. Alexander was the same. I seriously want to know what was with the blue suede shoes at the beginning of the book, and I’m really disappointed that we didn’t get an answer. Was it just part of his style in London? But at the same time, who wears blue suede shoes other than Elvis?

It broke my heart as I was reading this book though when I saw how Quinn’s relationship with her brother and sister used to be. Their reconciliation at the end of the book actually made me melt a little bit more than Quinn’s relationship with Alexander. And Dylan! You know, it’s a testament to a writer when she writes this character and you completely forget that he doesn’t make it to the end, until you read his death scene and completely lose it.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. This was such a fluffy story despite the tragic event that occurs in it. I’m really glad that this was a pick for my book subscription box. I loved these characters. I loved the quirkiness of Quinn’s parents and grandmother. And I even loved the small town in Maine (even though I would probably really hate living there because of the cold. Snow for Halloween? Yikes).

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

81e0u02byqtlTitle: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Date Started: September 18
Date Finished: September 19
Format: Hardcover from local library

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness. 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.

Oh, this was a messy, messy book. At first it started out great. Merit is an angsty teenager, who meets this guy randomly at the antiques store while she’s searching for her next trophy. He follows her out and talks with her and then they’re kissing. It’s random and perfect, but it’s mind blowingly wonderful. But then his phone rings and he realizes that he’s kissed the wrong sister. That’s right, Merit has a twin named Honor and apparently this guy – Sagan – and her know each other. Merit automatically assumes that they’re dating, and I was kind of hooked.

But then the messiness starts. There’s a hitch hiker that Merit runs into at the pet supply store, she offers him a ride and he turns out to be her step-mother’s brother, Luck. Despite his rash ways and his irritable tries at conversation, Merit can’t help but like Luck. She kind of gets him and that’s when she decides that at seventeen, she just wants to get losing her virginity out of the way and what better way to do that then with Luck who’s slept with over 300 people?

Yes. Her kind of step-uncle. Thankfully, they don’t actually end up doing it. Luck stops because she reminds him too much of Moby, his nephew.  Like I said. Messy. And unfortunately it only gets messier from there. There’s more infidelity. One of the siblings does end up sleeping with the step-uncle. Merit pretends to be Honor and kisses Sagan. Necrophilia is somewhat mentioned. Attempted suicide. Depression. A letter that exposes all of the Vosses’ family secrets. And yes, even the Syrian refugee crisis is mentioned. There was just too much happening in this book and you know what? If all this had happened to me, I probably would have gone off the deep-end too.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. I’m kind of disappointed with this novel. It was kind of interesting – I did read it in only eight or so hours. But there was just so much going on that with each new thing I just wanted to throw up my hands and say “THIS IS TOO MUCH. PICK TWO TRAGIC/CRAZY THINGS AND STICK WITH THEM!” But alas.

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A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

24397040Title: A Whole New World
Author: Liz Braswell
Series: Twisted Tales
Date Started: September 15
Date Finished: September 17
Format: Hardcover from local library

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war. What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Why this book series hasn’t crossed my path sooner is a complete mystery to me. You would think something like this would have been on my radar years ago, but alas it wasn’t until I was browsing the book tag on Pinterest that I kept seeing these different book covers that looked like the classic Disney tales just reimagined. I read the summary of the first one and thought that I could at least try it to see if I liked it.

And when I first started A Whole New World it looked like I wasn’t going to. It was a carbon copy of the movie, sure a few small details were different, but it was pretty much the same tale. I was sitting there going is this really a twisted tale? It wasn’t until Aladdin gets the lamp for Jafar and falls back into the Cave of Wonders that things started to pick up. Abu never steals the lamp back from him, and Jafar goes back to Agrabah with it and causes all kinds of havoc. The way Braswell wrote Jafar was actually quite…well, wicked. You really got to see just how much the power goes to to the grand vizer’s head. There was a moment during the novel where I actually had to double check to make sure that this was a YA retelling, because there was a scene that got really graphic – my stomach really churned!

I also liked how it was a rebellion headed by Jasmine that caused Jafar to fall. Talk about bad ass. I mean, yes, Aladdin had a small roll in it, but it was mostly thanks to Jasmine and the other street rats that Jafar’s evil was put to an end. Although that ending was definitely something else. I think it was actually Braswell’s way of getting out of writing two additional sequels in the Aladdin world – not to mention saving a really bad plot line of Jafar becoming a genie.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I was really entertained with this twist of the Disney tale. Jasmine as a rebel leader. Jafar as a mad dictator. Aladdin who has friends other than a monkey. I just wish that the Genie had had a better ending. Also I’m a little miffed at the design team. The back cover and inside front flap both have the tag line “What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?” But Aladdin DID find the lamp he just didn’t keep it! Talk about misleading!

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Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh

31394243Title: Smoke in the Sun
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Sequel to: Flame in the Mist
Date Started: September 11
Date Finished: September 13
Format: Hardcover from local library

For weeks, seventeen-year-old Mariko pretended to be a boy to infiltrate the notorious Black Clan and bring her would-be murderer to justice. She didn’t expect to find a place for herself among the group of fighters—a life of usefulness—and she certainly didn’t expect to fall in love. Now she heads to the imperial castle to resume a life she never wanted to save the boy she loves.

Ōkami has been captured, and his execution is a certainty. Mariko will do what she must to ensure his survival—even marry the sovereign’s brother, saying goodbye to a life with Ōkami forever.

As Mariko settles into her days at court—making both friends and enemies—and attempting Ōkami’s rescue at night, the secrets of the royal court begin to unravel as competing agendas collide. One arrow sets into motion a series of deadly events even the most powerful magic cannot contain. Mariko and Ōkami risk everything to right past wrongs and restore the honor of a kingdom thrown into chaos by a sudden war, hoping against hope that when the dust settles, they will find a way to be together.

When it comes to books like these – where the predecessor came out over a year ago and I read it over a year ago – I go back and read my review to help stimulate my mind about what exactly happened. For Flame in the Mist, though, I slightly cracked up because my review was ridiculously vague – something about murky plot lines and a mystery in the last thirty pages – but one of my last sentences has me tickled. “Although if I remember anything that happened in this one it will be a miracle.” And unfortunately, past me was 100% correct. I didn’t remember anything.

Although that might not be quite true. I did remember that Mariko disguised herself as a boy because her transport was attacked on her way to the palace where she was to wed one of the princes of the kingdom. She fell in with a rebel clan and ultimately fell for the leader. But that was kind of all I remembered. I didn’t remember Raiden – the prince she was supposed to marry – coming to her rescue and I didn’t remember the emperor being murdered. But thankfully, none of those details really seemed to matter with Smoke in the Sun.

And you know what’s really crazy? While Flame in the Mist was hard to follow, Smoke was really easy and the plot wasn’t as convoluted as its predecessor. I really like Mariko more here, and the relationship with Ōkami was something really sweet. I even liked that she formed some kind of kinship with Raiden. And even the villain of Roku was something to behold. In fact, Roku reminded me of someone in today’s political spectrum, which is really scary when you think about it. I am still a little mystified by Raiden’s mother and Roku’s too if I’m being honest. The whole shadow/spirit thing was a little bit confusing, but did add some interest. I really wished that had been explored more especially since Ōkami also has that ability.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A very nice conclusion to a duology. Mariko really grew as a character from her whiny self in the first book. And I really liked how Roku’s slow descent into madness was shown.

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A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter

51ysjc9-iul-_sx330_bo1204203200_Title: A Mad Zombie Party
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Alice in Zombieland
2. Through the Zombie Glass
3. The Queen of Zombie Hearts
Date Started: September 5
Date Finished: September 11
Format: Kindle book from my collection

The battle rages on.Ali Bell and Cole Holland’s crew of zombie slayers thought they’d won the war against Anima Industries, the evil company responsible for capturing and experimenting on zombies in an effort to discover the secret to immortality. In the last epic clash, the slayers lost many of their crew and closest friends. But Frosty, the ice man himself, has not recovered from one casualty in particular—the love of his life, Kat Parker.

On the path to self-annihilation, Frosty receives a message from beyond—Kat’s spirit returns, insisting he partner with rogue slayer Camilla Marks. Frosty will do anything for Kat. Except that. Camilla is the one who betrayed them all, leading to Kat’s death. But when Anima rises from the grave to become a force the slayers may not have the strength to overcome, Frosty, Camilla and all the slayers will have to work together to survive. And one broken slayer will learn that sometimes, the line between hate and attraction is blurred…and the road to redemption isn’t through revenge, but in letting go of the past and grabbing hold of the future.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand it was fun to go back to this world and visit with some new characters – even if I think the relationship between Frosty and Milla was a little bit rushed and predictable – but at the same time after everything Ali and the others went through in the previous three books to have Anima still be kicking was kind of a let down. I mean, I think Ali and the others should have known better than to put Rebecca Smith back out onto the streets even if her memories had been wiped. Ali was able to get back her memories after all, it would not have been hard for Rebecca to do the same.

Anyway, I digress. I think my big issue with this book was that it centered around Frosty and Milla. I knew Frosty was going to be a mess after Kat’s death, but I didn’t really need to see the nastiness of his grief at the beginning of this novel. And then to try and throw him together with Milla – River’s sister who betrayed Ali and the others in book 3 – was just kind of annoyingly predictable. Of course things were going to get hot and heavy between the two of them. They spent every waking hour together because Milla is supposed to save Frosty’s life. Add in the craziness with the flames and I just…can’t with this book.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Another thing that annoyed me is considering this huge journey we went on with Ali and Cole and all their emotional ups and downs I would have loved to seen Cole propose to Ali in her freshman year of college. Instead I get a letter set in the future where she sums up what’s happened to everyone. Thanks for nothing.

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

18081809Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date Started: September 4
Date Finished: September 10
Format: Kindle book from my collection

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble;it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . . Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

My thought process with this book. When I first heard about it – oh it’s by Rainbow Rowell. I really loved Fangirl. I’ll probably like this too. When I read the summary – oh, it sounds like The Lake House, just with a telephone instead of a mailbox and both parties aren’t aware of said time travelling aspect. As I was reading Landline – what the actual hell is this crap? No, really. Georgie McCool is anything but cool. She’s over obsessive, but at the same time she’s also naive. This book really focuses more on what Georgie goes through those days leading to Christmas, and each day I couldn’t wait until she got back on the landline with her husband’s past self.

Although, in reality, that was the real problem with Georgie. She has a complete meltdown as she realizes the startlingly truth that the yellow rotary phone in her childhood bedroom is calling her husband in the past when they were still dating and they had kind of sort of broken up before Christmas. She doesn’t believe it. She spend a lot of time denying that it’s happening and not enough time wondering why. What is so pivotal about that Christmas that this phone would decide that she needs to talk to Neal in the past now? As it turns out that was the Christmas that Neal proposed even though they had broken up.

And goodness does it hurt my head to think about the timelines and everything. It really does.

Final Rating: 2 out of 5 stars. I’m guessing there was a good story in these pages somewhere. Probably? Maybe if I liked time travel. Maybe if this book had a couple worthy of rooting for. *sigh*

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Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter

35238072Title: Not if I Save You First
Author: Ally Carter
Date Started: August 31
Date Finished: September 5
Format: ebook from the digital library

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. No phone. No Internet. And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full. Until Logan shows up six years later . . . And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly. Maddie still really wants to kill Logan. But she has to save him first.

Why is it whenever I read a book by Ally Carter that I think is going to be serious and suspenseful, it turns out to also be incredibly funny? I’m not complaining about that, but still. I guess I should know better by now, shouldn’t I? Anyway, Not if I Save You First is a wonderful story that kind of reminds me of Olympus has Fallen – minus the crazy terrorists – and First Daughter – with a First Son instead – all mixed up into one crazy ride that takes place in the middle of nowhere, Alaska. I was not expecting for this book to start six years before the actual main event, but I’m really glad that it did. We get swept into the mystery as to why Maddie and her dad go to live in Alaska and how it is that Maddie knows Logan so well.

However, I did feel that some of the events happened a little bit too quickly with not a lot of explanation. Like for instance the attempt to kidnap the First Lady that started this book? Wasn’t really explained. Who were these guys responsible and why were they trying to do it? And sure, later on in the book you get a half explanation, but it’s not really satisfying.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I always like Carter’s strong female leads, and Maddie was no exception. Logan was interesting, and I really wished that he had been fleshed out a little bit more. But overall, a really good read.

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