A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}

A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}

A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}Title: A Little Too Hot
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Series: A Little Too Far #3
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on January 21st 2014
Format: eARC, 284 pages
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
5 Stars
The sum up

Steamy, sexy and romantic, this novel has everything I’m looking for in a New Adult romance.

Summary

If you play with fire…

Tossed out of college and cut off by her parents, Samantha West is in pretty dire straits. So when her rocker best friend hooks her up with a job dancing at a gentlemen’s club, who is she to turn it down? Plus, there are rules to dancing at Benny’s: No touching, keep your clothes on at all times, and never get closer than three feet. Unfortunately for Sam, her first private client makes her want to break every single one of them.

Harrison Yates is scorching hot, but he’s got a past that involves being left at the altar not too long ago. Sam is determined to make him forget about his ex, but when she makes her move, it flings her life into a spiral of chaos she never saw coming.

Because Harrison Yates isn’t who he seems to be. And his secret will probably get her killed.

My thoughts

Sam is having a shitty month. She got kicked out of school for skipping classes, her mother kicked her out of the house and she’s no longer welcome at the friend’s house she was staying at. She turns to ex-lover and close friend Jonathan, who lets her crash on his couch and gets her a job as an exotic dancer at a club.

I can’t say a lot about this book without revealing any spoilers, so this will probably be a short review, but I’ll try to hit the highlights.

I loved this book even more than the first one in the series (which I absolutely adored). The characters were wonderful and full of quirks and subtle little personality traits that made them feel real. Sam was bull-headed but also a little broken. She felt like she had almost nobody left she could trust, but she was grateful for Jonathan. She wasn’t crazy about becoming a dancer, but she knew she needed a job to get off of his couch.

I was drawn to the characters and wanted to know what their next step would be, how they would face the consequences of their actions, how they would handle each setback.

Speaking of Jonathan, I loved him to pieces. He was a total horndog, making out with everyone he could, while trying to stay faithful to his girlfriend. He was honest and sweet and you could tell he really cared about the people in his life. Harrison was definitely hiding a lot from Sam, but he was a decent guy who cared. He made mistakes, but he owned them.

The plot was predictable; I knew everything that was coming and wasn’t surprised once. But, the characters and the writing more than made up for that. I read this in one day, and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I was drawn to the characters and wanted to know what their next step would be, how they would face the consequences of their actions, how they would handle each setback. And for the love of pete, I needed to keep reading so I would know when they finally did the deed! It took FOREVER. Talk about sexual tension. This book was full of it.

The sexy times were graphic, but not nearly as explicit as other books I’ve read recently. It was actually kind of a nice relief. There’s only so many times I can read different words for genitalia without rolling my eyes.

This book is part of a series, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. The characters from the previous books made an appearance, and we learned how they’re doing. It was nice to get a little update from the previous couples. Of the three books in this series, this one is my favorite, and I highly recommend it. I hope Lisa Desrochers comes out with more New Adult books soon, because she’s been added to my auto-buy author list.

About the author


Lisa Desrochers is the USA Today bestselling author of A LITTLE TOO FAR , courtesy of HarperCollins, and companions, A LITTLE TOO MUCH (Nov 12, 2013), and A LITTLE TOO HOT (Jan 21, 2014). Also in stores is her YA PERSONAL DEMONS trilogy (Macmillan).

She lives in central California with her husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise.

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Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}

Unhinged by A.G. Howard {Review}Title: Unhinged
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Splintered #2
Publisher: Amulet on January 7th 2014
Format: Paperback, 387 pages
Source: Traveling ARC
4 Stars
The sum up

This is a solid follow-up to Splintered. I really enjoyed it, and it left me eager for the next book in the series.

Summary

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

My thoughts

Alyssa is glad to be back to her normal life. Her mom is home from the asylum, and even though she’s gone overboard on the mothering thing, Alyssa’s still glad to have her back. She and Jeb are getting along great, and he’s forgotten all about Wonderland and everything that happened there. When Morpheus starts appearing, telling Alyssa she must come back to Wonderland and defeat Queen Red once and for all, it’s annoying at first. But then he gets more insistent, and signs of Queen Red start appearing in the human world.

I liked the growth that Alyssa showed from the previous book, with her mother, Jeb and even Morpheus. She has become stronger and more secure in herself, and what she wants. Jeb was just your average nice guy, but he was ignorant of Wonderland, so it’s hard to hold that against him. He did the best he could with Alyssa, without knowing her whole story. Luckily he had the chance to flex his personality quite a bit in the second half of the story, and I liked seeing that new aspect in him. Morpheus again appeared selfish, but you could see how he really cared for his world. He didn’t want anything to happen to it, or the creatures in it.

There was more romance in this book than the previous one. I struggled to find the chemistry between Jeb and Alyssa, though there was one particular scene near the end that was so fantastic, I might even suggest you read the book just for it. I’ve never been a fan of Morpheus as a romantic interest for Alyssa, but we learned more about him in the book, and some of the reasons behind his motivations. And if you’re a fan of the love triangle, you’ll be pleased with this one.

Howard continues with her gift of making even the craziest scene or setting so realistic, they’re easy to picture. The blood artwork, the spider-like Queen Red, the bony Rabid White, the talking flowers, all of it is rendered so descriptively, it’s amazing. The scary scenes are very scary, and I may have even gasped a time or two.

About the author


A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Her debut YA fantasy, SPLINTERED, a dark Alice in Wonderland spinoff, is now available from Amulet Books. The sequel, UNHINGED, is due to launch January 2014.

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On Dublin Street by Samantha Young {Review}

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young {Review}Title: On Dublin Street
Author: Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #1
Publisher: Penguin Audio on January 24, 2013
Format: Audiobook, 10 hrs and 48 mins
Source: Purchased
3 Stars

Summary

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare…

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core.

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached.

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.

My thoughts

Joss (as she prefers to be called) never faced the devastating events of her childhood, and has lived with a wall around her heart ever since. When she moves in with Ellie, that wall begins to crumble. When she meets Ellie’s hot brother Braden, the walls are shattered.

Poor Joss really has had it rough. She lost her entire family in one fell swoop, then not much later lost her best friend. Deciding it was better to not feel anything than to get hurt again, she hadn’t let anyone close in a long time. She had friends, but nobody she would call family. It was not hard to understand why she’d done that, I can’t imagine the pain she must have felt. On the other hand, I recognized that it wasn’t healthy and she needed help. Braden was also damaged, but not nearly as much as Joss. He’d had his heart broken by his ex, and had been content to play the ladies man ever since.

I loved Ellie, she was sweet, but kind of dense when it came to men. She was clearly in love with someone who was clearly in love with her (I’m not spoiling anything, it’s obvious as soon as you meet them), but they were both too stupid to do anything about it. She was an awesome friend to Joss, and really was the first step in getting Joss back to normal. Her subplot, however, was predictable and convenient.

He was what some might call an alpha male, but I would just call a dick.
The sexy scenes were extremely sexy. Lots and lots of hotness. They were very graphic, so if that’s not your thing, this is not your book. While I thought it was sexy, I can’t say it was romantic, but only because of how I felt about Braden. He was what some might call an alpha male, but I would just call a dick. He was cocky, arrogant, possessive and demanding. Luckily, Joss thought those were  endearing qualities and called him “caveman.”  And really, more than once I half expected him to knock her down and drag her around by her hair or lift his leg and pee all on her to mark his territory. That kind of male attitude just doesn’t do it for me. More than once, my jaw dropped and I waited for Joss to tell him where he could stick it. But no, it just turned her on and they had sex again.

While I had my problems with Braden, he did have a few likable qualities. He was quite sweet when he wanted to be, and he was protective of, and very generous with, his sister Ellie. While he was aggressive about it, he also managed to get through to Joss, help her see the way she was living wasn’t healthy for her. He had good intentions, at least.

I was not a fan of the audio version of the book. I liked Paula Costello’s voice, and she did a pretty good job with the accents, but she kept chuckling at inappropriate times. She would kind of say a sentence with laughter in her voice, like she thought Joss would say it. But I didn’t think Joss would laugh in a lot of those instances. It just came across as kind of awkward. Also, I had a hard time telling when Joss was thinking something to herself and when she was speaking out loud. The narrator could have done a better job of delineating which was which.

The sum up

Sexy with a side of sweet, this is perfect if you like your men large and in charge.

About the author

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author from Stirlingshire, Scotland. She’s been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for her international bestseller ON DUBLIN STREET. ON DUBLIN STREET is Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance and has sold in twenty-five countries.

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Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols {Review}Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on July 16th 2013
Format: eARC, 273 pages pages
Source: Mundie Moms Blog Tours
3 Stars

Summary

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

My thoughts

Bailey and her sister were once a very popular duo, but Bailey is dumped by her parents and sister when a big studio requests Julie as a solo artist. Bailey starts acting out in anger (cutting and dyeing her hair, hanging out with the wrong crowd, taking it a bit too far with the boys…) and winds up barely bruised when her high boyfriend crashes the car in a lake. That’s enough of a wake up call for her parents to send Bailey to live with her grandfather. Of course, she is sent with the instructions to disappear, as having a left-behind sister wouldn’t look well for Julie’s new career.

Man alive, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a set of parents as much as I did Bailey’s. They were simply awful. The second someone saw a star quality in Julie, they hitched their wagon to her and literally dumped Bailey. The ignored her until they needed her to convince Julie to do something. They took away her online presence and basically told her to shut the hell up. It was awful and I felt so sorry for Bailey. I was amazed at how well adjusted she was, all things considered. She had her issues, as expected, but she also had her head on straight.

Sam, the love interest, was not a very likable character (more on him in a minute). He was a bit of a player, and he was hell-bent on using Bailey for her contacts. On the plus side, at least he wasn’t sneaky about it; he was very upfront about what he wanted from her. His bandmates, Ace and Charlotte, weren’t quite as complex as I would have liked, but at least they weren’t completely flat.

The plot was interesting, and I really enjoyed all the music information. There was a lot of it, including keys, instrument parts, music notes and trivia. Not enough to be boring, but enough so that it was clear Jennifer Echols knew what she was talking about.

I enjoyed the story overall, but I had a problem with the way some of the characters behaved. I thought Sam was sweet at first, but he kind of turned into a pushy, stubborn jerk. And while I appreciated how Bailey stood up to him in the beginning, she kind of rolled over and let him have his way, which irritated the hell out of me. I can point to at least 2 instances in the story where I would have told Sam exactly where he could put his guitar. But it turned out Bailey was much more forgiving than me.

This is my second book by Jennifer Echols, and while I liked it well enough, I wouldn’t consider her an insta-buy author.

The sum up

If you like country music and/or family drama, this is your book.

About the author

Jennifer EcholsJennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi {Review}

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi {Review}Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Publisher: HarperAudio on January 3, 2012
Format: Audiobook, 9 hrs and 39 mins
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
Summary

WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

My thoughts

Sometime in the future, everyone lives in completely enclosed spaces called pods where everyone looks basically the same and dresses exactly alike. Everything is done by computer, including socializing. The air outside is toxic and the pods protect them from not only the aether storms, but the diseased savages who scrape by living off the land. Aria is perfectly content until the communication link with her mother, who is in a separate pod miles away, goes down. In her effort to find out what happened to her mother, and why the link isn’t getting fixed, she ends up alone outside the safety of her pod. There she meets Perry, an outsider, who agrees to help her find her mother in exchange for her help in finding someone he’s lost.

I know I’m the last one to the party here and I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book, but I am so glad I finally did! I think I was a bit scared of the hype and I’ll be honest, it didn’t sound like it would be all that interesting. Luckily I was wrong.

The world-building here is phenomenal.
Veronica Rossi has created a whole new world set in Earth’s future, where people are separated by giant pods. The people in the pods are instantly cured of any illness, never want for anything and spend almost all of their time in the virtual world where they can travel anywhere, look any way and feel anything. Anything. The story spent more time outside the pod than inside, but we still had a chance to get to know “both sides of the pods” pretty equally. There was just incredible detail and description throughout the book. I could picture every scene, every building and cave and character.

The world building is incredible here.Speaking of characters, I wasn’t too fond of Aria in the beginning. She was entitled, as I guess everyone in the pods was, but she was childish and so naïve. Mostly in the beginning, before she ended up outside, I knew what was going to happen and almost thought she was kind of stupid for not figuring it out. She needed to be rescued from herself more than once. But, as she spent more and more time outside with Perry, she became more mature and stronger, and I started to like her more. Perry was grumpy and tough and didn’t give Aria any slack. He really grew on me, too. I also liked the other characters, including Roar and Liv, who have their own novella in the series.

An unexpected aspect of the story was the powers that some of the characters had. Basically, one of their senses was super hyped up. Perry had the ability to taste people’s emotions, which made for an interesting character quirk. It also made it harder for people (including Aria) to hide their feelings from him.

I admit, the narrator didn’t appeal to me at first, but that’s another thing that grew on me. Bernadette Dunne Flagler’s voice was very gravelly, and bordered a bit on annoying when she tried to lower her voice even more for the male speaking parts. Luckily, by the 4th or 5th chapter, the story was enough to make me forget about the voice I didn’t much care for. I was pleasantly glad to see she is not the narrator of book 2 (which I have already purchased!).

The sum up

A fun and creative take on the dystopian genre.

About the author

Veronica Rossi is the author of post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults. Her debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, is the first in a trilogy. Released in January 2012, it was deemed one of the Best Books of Year by School Library Journal. The second book in the trilogy, THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, debuted in January on the NY Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. The final book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, is expected to release January 2014.

Foreign rights to the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy have sold in over twenty-five territories to date and film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros.

She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people.

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A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}


 
A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers {Review + Giveaway}Title: A Little Too Much
Author: Lisa Desrochers
Series: A Little Too Far #2
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse on November 12, 2013
Format: eBook, 416 pages
Source: Mundie Moms Blog Tours
4 Stars

Summary

In the follow-up to Lisa Desrochers’ explosive New Adult novel A Little too Far, Alessandro Moretti must face the life he escaped and the girl he loved and left behind.

Twenty-two year old Hilary McIntyre would like nothing more than to forget her past. As a teenager abandoned to the system, she faced some pretty dark times. But now that’s all behind her. Hilary has her life on track, and there’s no way she’ll head back down that road again.

Until Alessandro Moretti—the one person who can make her remember—shows up on her doorstep. He’s even more devastatingly gorgeous than before, and he’s much too close for comfort. Worse, he sees right through the walls she’s built over these last eight years, right into her heart and the secrets she’s guarding.

As Hilary finds herself falling back into love with the man who, as a boy both saved and destroyed her, she must decide. Past or future? Truth or lies?

My thoughts

Alessandro is the character I fell in love with in A Little Too Far. I was not happy that Lexie chose her stepbrother over the obvious awesomeness that was Alessandro. Big mistake, Lexie. However, thanks to her stupidity, Hilary gets a chance with the one who got away. Hilary and Alessandro (and his brother Lorenzo) spent time together at a group home many years ago. They connected, but circumstances tore them apart and they lost touch. Now that Alessandro realizes entering the priesthood isn’t the way to atone for his past, he goes to New York to find Hilary and make things right. But she’s not the same girl she was when he last saw her. She’s got big dreams and an even bigger wall around her heart.

As you may have guessed from the above summary, I loved Alessandro. He was pretty much perfect in every way, and I was glad to get a chance to read more about him. He had his troubled past, which only served to make him sexily tortured, and he was kind and gentle and so sweet. He had a great sense of humor and was always willing to try something new or go outside his comfort zone for someone else. And, as an added bonus, he looked amazing. Hilary was an arm girl (as am I) and she admired and described his sexy cut arms many times, which was quite nice.

He was able to look past Hilary’s flaws and appreciate her for who she was. And he never sugar coated that he had been in love with someone else recently (the stupid Lexie). I thought that was nice, how he didn’t try to shy away from the facts. He always told the truth, but in a nice way.

On the other hand, I didn’t like Hilary as a character as much as I did Lexie from A Little Too Far. There was no logical reason, I just didn’t click with her. She was nice enough with her friends, but not overly friendly with others. She was in a relationship of convenience, without emotional attachment, and while I think that works fine for some people, that’s just not my thing.

One thing I had to wonder about was why Hilary refused to see how perfect for her Alessandro was. We find out later why (more on that in a minute), but still, she resisted much longer than I would expect anyone to. It was kind of frustrating, I kept thinking “Just kiss him, already!” and “Why are you still denying how great he is?” I didn’t understand the reluctance.

Hilary’s bestie, Jess, was super cute. She was also an actress and we didn’t spend a lot of time with her, but she was genuinely nice, which I always like to see. The boyfriend was fairly likable, considering he was only with Hilary for the sex. They lived together, though, and he was faithful to her, plus he did what he could to help her career. Of course, he turned out not to be quite so charming in the end.

Hilary had a dirty mouth and the f-word was slung around a lot. And there was a fair amount of graphic sex. The build up before the big moment with Hilary and Alessandro was nice; lots of heavy breathing and lip biting. But it still wasn’t as romantically sexy as it was for Alessandro and Lexie. Maybe I’m always going to compare those two couples…

One of the themes in the book was discovering the New York that nobody else knew about and that was fun. We learned a bit about different New York “attractions” that are under-appreciated by the everyday people who live there. In fact, one or two of them sound interesting enough that I might check them out if I ever go back to the city.

There was a big twist about 2/3 of the way through the book, however, I knew it was coming. I’m not sure if it was a lucky guess, but after reading the preview bit at the end of A Little Too Far, I immediately knew what the big event was going to be, and I was right. It’s a big one, but it’s not easy to figure it out as you read. I’m not sure if I would have felt any differently about the story if I hadn’t known what was going on. I think it would have been a big surprise, and I might have been less frustrated with Hilary’s actions.

At any rate, I enjoyed the book and will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

The sum up

Steamy and dramatic with lots of angst, this is an older “new adult” book perfect for romance and drama fans.

About the author

Lisa Desrochers is the USA Today bestselling author of A LITTLE TOO FAR , courtesy of HarperCollins, and companions, A LITTLE TOO MUCH (Nov 12, 2013), and A LITTLE TOO HOT (Jan 21, 2014). Also in stores is her YA PERSONAL DEMONS trilogy (Macmillan).

She lives in central California with her husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise.

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The Program by Suzanne Young {Review}

The Program by Suzanne Young {Review}Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Simon Pulse on April 30th 2013
Format: eARC, 408 pages pages
Source: Publisher
5 Stars

Summary

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

My thoughts

Sloane lives sometime in the near future when science has declared teen suicide an epidemic. Luckily, science has found a cure – The Program. Kids who show signs of depression can be forcibly admitted into The Program. Once the kids come out, they’re happy and without care. But they also can’t remember things from their past, even their friends. Sloane, who has already lost her brother to suicide, spends all her time with her boyfriend James, who was her brother’s best friend. The two of them are just trying to stay “happy” until they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for The Program.

Sloane was an amazingly strong female lead character. She knew she had to remain stoic, but it was hard for her; not only was she still upset from her brother’s suicide, she was scared of being taken away. She had James to lean on, but only in private, when nobody else was around. He was also strong; not only was he carrying guilt for not having saved his best friend, but he had made it his personal mission to take care of Sloane and their small circle of friends. That’s a lot of weight on such young shoulders.

There were other characters: friends, classmates, doctors and her parents, who added their own thing to the book. There were a few special ones whom I can’t call out specifically for fear of spoilers, but I will say I enjoyed them all (except for the really bad guy). There were some sexy times, but it was not at all graphic. Boo.

The story was incredibly suspenseful. The tension was just amped up over and over until I didn’t think I could take it anymore. The kids were afraid to show any emotion at all, and you know keeping it inside wasn’t any good for them at all. They couldn’t have a bad day or get in a simple argument without fear. Every time they saw a handler from The Program, they were scared to death that they were next. And since they knew what would happen, some felt suicide was the better option.

Several times, I found myself holding my breath, wondering if it was the end of Sloane, or someone else we’d gotten to know.
Several times, I found myself holding my breath, wondering if it was the end of Sloane, or someone else we’d gotten to know. The people from The Program were always lurking around the school, waiting for someone to look sad so they could scoop them away and erase their memories. And there’s no running away, The Program would just track them down and drag them back. It’s no surprise that some chose suicide as their only option.

In the beginning, I wondered why parents would voluntarily send their kids away to a place like that, I just knew that Sloane’s parents were going to be there for her and let her be unhappy, at least in the home. But no, they were pro-Program. And after a while, I could almost see it. If you had already lost 1 child to suicide, wouldn’t you do basically anything to keep from losing the other one, even if it made them unhappy?

I just went from reviewing the book to discussing the ethics of The Program, so let me get back to the former.

I can’t imagine how it would feel to be in the situation these kids were in, but thanks to Suzanne Young, I absolutely felt the terror and fear Sloane, James and their friends did. Young created a not-too-distant place where a government-mandated non-voluntary treatment for suicide prevention was totally believable. I was caught up in the story and lost myself in it many times. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the sign of an excellent writer.

I was left with a few unanswered questions, and though I think this was originally going to be a standalone, I was very pleased to find out that a sequel is due next year.

The sum up

Believably realistic and surprisingly romantic, this is an excellent entry in the dystopian genre. I can’t wait to see what happens in the follow up.

About the author


Originally from New York, Suzanne Young moved to Arizona to pursue her dream of not freezing to death. She currently resides in Tempe, where she teaches high school English. When not writing obsessively, Suzanne can be found searching her own tragic memories for inspiration.

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Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles {Review}

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles {Review}Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Series: Wild Cards #1
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers on October 1, 2013
Format: Paperback, 342 pages
Source: Book Divas
3 Stars
Summary

After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

My thoughts

Derek played an (awesome!) prank at graduation and ended up getting kicked out of his exclusive private school as a result. Since his dad’s away on deployment, his young stepmother takes Derek and moves back home with her father and younger sister. The younger sister just happens to be a cute teenage football all-star who drives Derek nuts.

I liked both of the main characters, they were fully fleshed-out, though Derek was by far my favorite. I’m not sure why, but Ashtyn seemed to grate on my nerves a bit. Derek was a cutie, though he had some attitude. I felt sorry for him; missing his father, getting kicked out of school and having to move to a new place all at the same time. Ashtyn had the advantage, she was on her home turf. Her boyfriend didn’t seem like a very good person. He was cute, popular and a good ball player, but he just didn’t seem very nice, even before he turned into a real ass.

Derek and Ashtyn had chemistry and it was delicious, but it took too long for them to finally get together. By the time it happened, I felt like the chemistry was gone and I was barely interested in them as a couple anymore. I liked the snarky attitudes they both had, I find that sort of thing highly entertaining.

I kind of look at this book as split into two halves: the first half had no real purpose, other than introducing us to Derek and Ashtyn and having them not get along. More “stuff” happened in the second half of the book, but it seemed to be missing the spark or personality that the first half had. It also felt rushed; the first half was slow and steady, but the second half zoomed to the conclusion. (Also of note, I spotted at least three typos in the last third of the book.)

Speaking of the conclusion, I was disappointed. Everything was solved nice and neat, and a little too quick. One of the characters was acting like a complete douchcanoe throughout the entire story, then simply turned into a nice (even helpful) person with no warning or reasoning.

Simone Elkeles can definitely write, and she perfectly captures the angst and everyday drama that teens experience. One of her specialties is the switching point of views, between the male and female characters, and she does a fabulous job of it. I tend to like a female main character, just because I can relate to a female better than a male, but Simone makes it easy to get in the male’s head and appreciate their point of view.

The sum up

Great first half and a so-so second half equal a 3-owl read. I disliked some parts but found it overall enjoyable.

About the author

Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.

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