The Loose Ends List

The Loose Ends List

The Loose Ends List

by Carrie Firestone

Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: June 7th 2016
by Little, Brown Books




Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect summer with her best friends. 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.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. 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.


I was really looking forward to The Loose Ends List because I absolutely adore books set on cruises, but, unfortunately, it failed to live up to my expectations.

17-year-old Maddie’s fantasy of a perfect summer break is shattered when her grandmother suddenly announces she has cancer. And, instead of getting treatment, her grandmother has decided to take the entire family on a cruise where all the passengers are terminally ill.

Unfortunately, Maddie is an extremely hard character to like. She is selfish, spoiled and only cares about two things: herself and boys. In fact, when she steps on the cruise and sees a hot boy all she can think is:

“I’m so excited. I never thought I’d be hooking up on this trip.”

She’s so self-absorbed that she doesn’t even think about the fact that her grandmother has cancer.

Furthermore, I didn’t find Maddie’s grandmother to be realistically portrayed. I understand Carrie Firestone wanted to portray her as “hip” and “trendy”, but the comments that Maddie’s grandmother made felt completely contrived and unrealistic:

“Wow, your breasts are perky.” She squeezes my boob. “Poor Janie inherited my big bosom.”

(Reminder: this is a grandmother talking to her granddaughter…)

I found out this morning that the reason Gram keeps disappearing isn’t to bang Bob Johns five times a day, like she claims.

Lastly, the romance is filled with instalove. Maddie sees the love interest once and instantly declares that she is “in love with him.” The first time they meet, they immediately begin kissing.

Ultimately, the combination of Maddie’s selfish character and the instalove just didn’t work for me. It’s a shame because the concept and the setting had so much raw potential.


74 thoughts on “The Loose Ends List

    1. It’s a shame because the premise was so interesting! 🙁 Sorry this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea either Hannah.

  1. Ughhhh. You are the second person I’ve heard who didn’t like this at all, and I’m 100% steering clear. I can’t stand protagonists like that. They come across as really shallow, honestly? And this is SO SAD because a) I love lists and b) I was really looking forward to a book with grandparents featured. 🙁 *scratches off TBR and runs away screaming*

    1. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to it too (the premise was what got me too), but the execution just didn’t live up. 🙁

    1. Sorry this one doesn’t sound like it would be your cup of tea either Adaline. 🙁 Thank YOU for the lovely comment! <3

  2. You mean . . . this book isn’t a complete joke? This literally sounds like it could be satire. Those quotes are just . . . what?

    What a shame. And it has such a cute cover, too.

    1. I honestly don’t know. It is SUCH a shame because the premise was brilliant and, like you said, the cover was super cute. 🙁

  3. Oh bummer! I had this one to read but I really don’t know if I’ll try it now. I think Maddie would annoy me a LOT and that grandma sounds more “creepy” than “cool.” haha


    1. Sorry this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea either Lauren. 🙁 Yeah, the grandma and Maddie’s attitude was what put me off as well. It’s a shame because the premise was amazing!

  4. Ohhhhh. Well. No. I had just heard of this one and was excited because it sounds so cute! But, the grandmother is what sold me? So, if she’s not paying her grandmother any attention then I’m not interested.

  5. OH DEAR, this does not sound good at all. And I was really looking forward to it as well! But insta-love is something I really cannot deal with. And the grandma sounds like an extreme version of Mia’s Grandmere in The Princess Diaries haha (books, not movies)

    1. It’s a shame because it had so much potential. 🙁 And yeah, if you’re not a fan of instalove this probably is something you’d want to stay clear of.

  6. NOOOO ::sobs:: I was SO excited about this one, so this is a real bummer. I don’t know that I can handle the selfish MC, that is not good. Ummm is it bad that my grandmother would have totally said something that awkward? And not like “oh, she’s old and senile”, just… that is how she is hahha. So that part I might have an easier time with I suppose 😉 But seriously, a crappy character AND insta-love… my eyes are rolling, and this just moved WAYYY down on my TBR sadly. But thanks for the great review! I hope your next book is MUCH better!

    1. It’s a shame, because the premise and the cover were both so amazing. 🙁 The instalove and the selfish MC were what angered me the most to be completely honest. Thank you! <3

  7. Whooaaa, just from the quotes alone I’m going to stay clear of this book. The cover is so pretty too! That sucks it’s not actually good :/

  8. Umm, yeah, I wouldn’t touch this one with someone elses ereader. It sounds horrendous. Even sadder that it could have had so much potential, a loved one waiting to pass from a terminal illness and learning about her life lessons, something very few of us would ever experience and instead it’s about picking up guys? Seriously, it sounds like she started with the est intentions but it quickly morphed into The Love Boat. No thanks. I’m sorry this one wasn’t your thing Zoe, but brilliant review nonetheless <3

    1. That’s what makes me even more disappointed Kelly – like you said, the premise and the concept had so much potential. 🙁 It really is a shame. Thank you! <3

  9. Nooooo this is such a shame to hear! This book seemed like it had so much potential to be a thoughtful, or at least interesting story but it seems to not be the case? (I already have a ‘stay away’ sign popping in my brain from those quotes. LOL. ) So sorry to hear this was such a disappointment for you, Zoe, but loved the review. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s what makes me even more disappointed Analee – the premise and the concept had so much potential. 🙁 It really is a shame. Thank you for your kind words! <3

    1. Sorry to take your excitement away Rachel. 🙁 Definitely let me know if you do decide to give it a try – I’m curious to know what you think of it if you do end up reading it.

  10. I actually read your review on Goodreads, but, oh my. The cover is really pretty but this book sounds slightly disturbing from just reading the quotes in your review (and others I saw on GRs). Like who says that to her granddaughter?? 😮 And it’s so strange that so many readers that got ARCs loved this book… I’m glad I read your review though; I’m definitely not picking it up because I’d probably have the same problems as you did. Anyway, lovely review, Zoe! 😀

    1. The cover is what drew me in too – haha. And I understand everyone having their own opinions, but I really cannot find anything redeemable about this. I just wish I liked it as much as everyone else.

  11. Oh wow, that sounds like quite a bad book, and a protagonist I wouldn’t like, AT ALL… Thank you so much for sharing this review! I was quite attracted by the synopsis, and the cover looks beautiful, but it’s so bad that it didn’t live up to its potential. And wow, that grandma quote, well… that’s definitely a bit shocking, haha, WHY would she say that?!
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

    1. Sorry this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea either Marie. 🙁 (Although I don’t blame you haha). It really is disappointing because, like you said, the synopsis and the cover are both so amazing. Thank YOU for your lovely comment! <3

  12. Oh man, this one sounds like my worst nightmare! I can’t deal with selfish, unlikeable characters — nor with insta-love. And also… that grandma?? What??? I think I’d have a heart attack if my gran spoke to me like that — and I wouldn’t call her particularly traditional. I’ll definitely be avoiding this one.

    Thanks for a great review! ^_^

    1. If you’re not a fan of selfish MCs or instalove, this probably wouldn’t be for you either Shauna. 🙁 And I think I would probably have a heart attack too! Thank YOU for the lovely comment. <3

  13. Yiiikkkessss… I’m super bummed you hated this one because I was really anticipated its release plus the cover is so beautiful. But I can see why you rated it so low–main characters are definitely a HUGE part of the story so when the MC is unlikable, everything follows suit. I hope you like your next read better!

    Thanks for stopping by Princessica of Books!

    1. Thank you Jess! I was really anticipating it too, so make that a disappointment for both of us. Yeah, when you don’t like a main character the whole book becomes a bit difficult to enjoy.

  14. What a cute cover! Sorry to hear that this one was so disappointing Zoe, it’s annoying when you have a combination of bad characters, instalove and plot points that create a bad read. Maddie sounds soooo annoying! Hope you next read is much better, thanks for the honest review lovely! x

  15. Blech…this sounded so cute from the blurb, but apparently it’s a nightmare! I hate, hate, HATE instalove–it just ruins a book for me. And this girl sounds way too shallow and self-centered for me to tolerate her for more than a few pages. :/

    1. If you’re not a huge fan of instalove or selfish MCs, this probably wouldn’t be for you either Martha. 🙁

  16. I am so sorry to hear that this book didn’t meet up to your expectations. I hadn’t heard of The Loose Ends List but I think I can safely say I’ll be avoiding this book. From the quotes you provided I can tell I will not like the main character and I can rarely tolerate instalove these days.

    1. I don’t blame you for avoiding this. From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound like it would be your cup of tea either. 🙁

  17. I can definitely see why you didn’t like this book and am cringing at the character and grandma right now. I understand wanting to write hip and trendy grandmas but not entirely sure this relationship (based on the quotes) would work out that well? Also shallow mcs are so HARD and it sounds like the book really doesn’t deal with grief the way you might expect given the synopsis 🙁

    I am sorry this didn’t work out for you, Zoe!

    Lovely review as always <3

    1. Exactly Rashika! I don’t mind a hip or trendy grandma, but there are probably better ways for that to be portrayed. This portrayal just didn’t really work for me. 🙁 Thank you! <3

  18. I pretty much had the same exact experience with this book. It had SUCH a promising premise, but I found it to be really crude in its humor and not take advantage of the unique and heavy plotline. I DNF’d about 80 pages in, and was so bummed because I had it so high up on my 2016 wish list!

    1. Phew! Someone who understands where I’m coming from! Sorry you didn’t like it either Cristina. It really did have such an awesome premise so it’s a shame that we both ended up being so disappointed. 🙁

  19. Aarrghhhh okay the cringing is real. Seriously? Surely there are better ways of subtly dropping hints that the grandma is hip and cool apart from having her squeeze her granddaughter’s boob. *wince* I, personally, really enjoy reading about anti-heroes, or protagonists that are not your generic good guy, but when done incorrectly, they get really annoying and can just turn into a bitch. Looks like that’s what’s happened here 🙁

    1. EXACTLY! There are so many different ways that the grandmother could have been portrayed as “hip” or “cool”, but that was probably not the best way. 🙁 And I love antiheroes and realistically flawed characters too – but, like you said, this kind of just went a step too far. Thank you for the wonderful comment Paul!

    1. Aww…I’m sorry to disappoint Brittany. 🙁 I was looking forward to it too, so we can both be disappointed together. And icky is right!

  20. Geez this sounds ultra painful. I don’t usually read contemporaries to begin with but now I know to steer clear of this one. I wish people would portray the elderly population in a way that feels real instead of these quirky stereotypes ala Betty White that they think people want

    1. It is rather painful Liselle! Definitely stay clear of this one – especially if you’re not a contemporary fan.

  21. I’m sorry this one doesn’t work for you! I’ve read some reviews that said her grandma is really cool, but reading that quote… well it’s too much for me! If my grandma talk to me like that I don’t think I’ll be near her anytime soon!

  22. Oh, yiiiikes. It’s such a shame, too, because this had EVERY POTENTIAL to be good. It’s beautiful, it was well-marketed, and it takes place on a cruiiiiiise. But most importantly, as someone who lost a grandmother to a terminal illness, I would have gone in expecting to relate to the protagonist, and the situation.

    Apparently not.

    Thanks for taking the bullet for us on this one, Zoe. 🙁 I wish you’d have enjoyed it more.

    1. My thoughts exactly Lexie! The premise had so much potential, which made it even more disappointing that it didn’t live up to my expectations. 🙁 Thank you Lexie! <3

  23. Ugh, ugh, ugh. When I first heard about this one and saw that cute cover, I thought it might be a fun summer romance. But now I have zero plans to pick it up. I get annoyed by characters who only care about boys no matter what, but in the face of an impending family death? No thanks. And that grandmother-granddaughter dialogue sounds awkward, uncomfortable, and contrived. Thanks for letting me know I should definitely stay away.

    1. Sorry that it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea either Emily. 🙁 (Not that I blame you.) I was excited for it for the same reason – thinking it was going to be a cute, light summer read. It’s a shame that it didn’t live up.

  24. Oh no! Insta-love?! None of this sounds promising. I was curious about this one because that cover is so cute, but I may have to re-think it now. 🙂

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