Tag Archives: Cruise gone wrong

The Loose Ends List – an awesome YA about loving life and letting go

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The Loose Ends List – an awesome YA about loving life and letting go

Half of this book will have you snorting with laughter, and the other half will leave you searching for tissue.  Seriously.  It’s a feelings read, and even the hardest hearts (me, for instance) will find it hard to resist the cast of vivid characters and their collective journey.  I liked the world travel and the ridiculous antics, but I also liked the lessons about dealing with the hard things in life.  I gave this book five stars.

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Goodreads Summary

First loves. Last Wishes. 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.

My Thoughts

First, and foremost, this is a book about love, and sometimes it’s about finding and reveling in love, and sometimes it’s about letting go of the things you love.  This lesson comes at a pivotal time in the narrator’s life and is the right mix of levity for young adult readers who are probably facing some of the same heartbreaking and breathtaking experiences.  Older readers will draw from the story in a different but equally compelling way.  The characters are rich, the plot is unexpected, and the culmination is absolutely worth your time.  I want it for my high school classroom library because it is the equivalent of hiding the broccoli in the cheese – so good that the kids won’t even notice the important messages they are also getting.  This book does take a stance on assisted death, and there are some pretty frank (and hilarious) discussions about sex as well as a few scenes of sensuality, so it isn’t for everyone, but I think it is appropriate for mature high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill – what can go wrong when you combine competition, band geeks and a cruise ship? So much. So very, very much.

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The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill – what can go wrong when you combine competition, band geeks and a cruise ship?  So much. So very, very much.

There is a part of me that I am deeply ashamed of but that I can’t deny.  I am incredibly competitive.  Not about important things, like earning the most money or being the best human or whatever.  I’m competitive about the small stuff.  My son calls it Momster because he is the one who really gets a good look at it . . . Her . . . the other side.  Literary character costume contests, science fair displays, pumpkin carving competitions – these are the things that drive me.  I’ve been competing with the other moms (unbeknownst to them) since my son brought home his first project in Kindergarten.  It’s a little evil, but I just can’t get past the feeling that I walked away the superior mom in a competition.  All this is to say that I got this character.  Competition can blind you (to the fact that your ten year old doesn’t want to dress up as a The Little Prince even if it’ll mean a slam dunk) and it can make you a little crazy (pushing old ladies out of the way to get the last two orange fuzzy bath mats that are going to be the envy of the Dr. Seuss costume competition after a few hours plotting and sewing).  But competition, when it means so much to someone or something you love, is something I can understand.  So, despite the fact that I didn’t love this book, I got it.

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Goodreads Summary

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

My Thoughts

I really liked Meant To Be, this author’s other book, and many of my students enjoyed it as well. I just knew I would be a fan of this one, but, funny thing, it reads like a washed out version of Meant To Be. The characters are less vivid, the situations are not as funny, and the romance is much less engaging.

The romance was probably the biggest disappointment for me.  It suffered from the pacing.  Lisa spends most of her time eating, practicing, and then going to her cabin.  There just wasn’t a lot of opportunity for relationships to blossom believably.  I wasn’t surprised or unhappy with the ending, but I was sad that the journey wasn’t as good as the destination.

The strongest part of this book was its theme of friendship, and the way that Liza kind of gives herself over to the evil competitive side we are all suppressing most of the time.  I will say that the final competition was well played.  It was unexpected and pretty perfect.

Overall, this book was a fast, fun read. I think people will be drawn to the cover, and they will probably enjoy the book.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades seven and up.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 So You Thought Your Vacation Sucked . . . until you read Emmy Laybourne’s Sweet

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 So You Thought Your Vacation Sucked . . . until you read Emmy Laybourne’s Sweet

So, I went on a cruise to Mexico last year and had a great time despite the fact that I dislike most people and “adventure” is a dirty word if it has to do with real life and not a book.  I barely speak Spanish, my husband booked it twenty four hours before departure, and who takes a toddler out of the country, especially a drama queen toddler like mine?  (Seriously, she threw a fit when I wouldn’t let her pet the drug dogs when we disembarked in Mexico and then the guards wanted to let her pet them because she looks like the saddest human ever when she cries — it was ridiculous).  Anyway, this is one of the two cruise disaster books I’m covering this week, and it is my idea of a PERFECT beach (or cruise) read – a light, funny, fantasy romance with some violence thrown in for good measure! It would be an epic Bon Voyage gift to any YA reader who is headed out on the high seas this summer, and if you liked Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, snap this one up asap!

  
Goodreads Summary

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.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong. 

My Thoughts. 

I thought this was awesome, but I have a sick sense of humor.  Lots of people on Goodreads got bent out of shape because it was unrealistic and shallow – duh!  This isn’t War and Peace, folks, and it wasn’t meant to be, so if you are looking for a serious summer romance, keep looking.  If you think that people are ridiculous and shallow and fun to look down upon but you are sometimes secretly convinced that Leonardo Dicaprio would pick you from a crowd of bimbos because of your superior intelligence and humanity, pick this up.  It is fun.  

Now, for the real details, the alternating narrative structure allowed me to connect with Laurel and gave a lot of insight into the character of Tom, the hunky celebrity host. I thought the pacing of the romance was too fast, but there was a time constraint because the setting is a seven day cruise. Ideas about body image and moral responsibility attempted to add some depth to the book, but ultimately this is still a fluff read (which is okay — again,  no one wants to read War and Peace on the beach).  Be prepared for snotty rich folks, celbriskank mean girls, and blood and guts.  Good times!

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan is one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and with good reason.

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Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan is one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and with good reason.

Carrie Ryan is a writer who I depend on for pitch perfect prose, careful dialogue and complex characters who feel so conflicted and so real. When I began reading Daughter of Deep Silence, I instantly relaxed. I was once again in the hands of a professional. Until I couldn’t relax because that complex and conflicted character nearly made me lose my mind with every terrifying, deadly risk she took. I literally put the book down half way through and didn’t pick it up for a month. That isn’t me. I devour books in a day! I finish what I start! I did finally psych myself into continuing this read, and the distance that time gave me allowed me to finish without the aid of anxiety medication, but this book was intense. While this is nothing like When We Were Liars, the smart and twisty nature will appeal to fans of that book.

  

Goodreads Summary

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.

I’m the friend of a dead girl.

I’m the lover of my enemy.

And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose. 

My Thoughts

This is a revenge book.  A powerful man used a ship full of people in a terrible way and ruined a lot of lives, and Libby (Frances Mace’s adopted persona) is going to make him pay. Libby has basically become so hyper focused on the mission that she has become a shell of a person, a girl who never takes off the mask.  She has shoved down every scrap of humanity that was ever in her and plotted coldly, placing all the costs and rewards in neat rows.  Except she couldn’t factor in the way it would feel to kiss the boy she lost so long ago.  She couldn’t know that the girl she buried is still waiting for a fighting chance at freedom.  This is beautifully written and thoughtfully plotted.  Libby has an inner life that makes her feel as real as any person I’ve ever known. She also still feels like a teen, albeit a more sophisticated one than I was.  Clearly, I thought the ever present threat and danger inherent in taking revenge on powerful people was believable.  There are twists I didn’t see coming, and in the end I was pretty stunned by how it all went down.  I do have to say that after all of the buildup about what motivated the takedown of the Persephone, the answers were a little anticlimactic, but, hey, they made sense.  I would have liked to puzzle it out as a reader, though, and this answer had to be explained by a character who had info readers didn’t have access to.  I understood that the point of the book wasn’t really the mystery so much as the character’s journey, but, it felt a little like cheating when I got the answer handed to me in a few sentences.  I also wasn’t quite satisfied by the ending, but Ryan’s books always leave me feeling that way – they aren’t the endings I want, but they are the endings I think the characters probably would get in the real world, so I accept them. Overall, I think this is a book that will find a wider audience than The Forest of Hands and Teeth series.  Zombies scare people off, though they really shouldn’t, but this form of the living dead is a lot more approachable for most readers.  

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.