2.5 stars

Review: The Program

09:00

The Program
By Suzanne Young

Source: Personal purchase, e-book
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Mental Illness, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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 review:

I expected this book to be amazing. The concept was really promising for a heart-breaking and gritty dystopian, that could have been painfully relatable to today’s society. Although it was scarily similar to today, I was disappointed. It was a love story first, dystopian second. Some may find it beautiful and heart-wrenching, but I just got a bit fed up with the book. It was a bit repetitive, and I thought it had the potential to be so much better.

My main problem with the book was the focus on romance. I was disappointed with the lack of world building and the description of the dystopian setting. I know some will really enjoy this book, but it just wasn’t for me at all.

It got a little repetitive and slow moving towards the middle too. Sloane was a very annoying lead, so I got tired of her ‘mourning’. I feel like she could have done more to change her situation (because she obviously wasn’t happy with it), instead of just thinking about herself, and how she was feeling at the time.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I feel it has too many flaws for me to continue with the rest of the series. The ending was very inconclusive, but not much was left to happen, so I think this would have worked as a stand-alone too. I know that fans of romance will really enjoy this, so I would recommend it to fans of Shatter Me, though the writing style isn’t as poetic or beautiful.


Rating:

3 Stars

Review: Fans of the Impossible Life

12:37

Fans of the Impossible Life
By Kate Scelsa

Source: Netgalley, ARC
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, LGBT+, Romance, Mental Illness, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby. 

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye. 

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives. 

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.


My review:


received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley


I expected this book to be amazing. From the first line of the synopsis (This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them), I expected there to be a bisexual love triangle with lots of romance. I was disappointed because there was barely any romance - more friendship and self-discovery. I enjoyed the characters, and the plot was okay, but the writing style really let this book down for me.


The characters were all instantly likeable. Everyone was funny and charming on the surface, yet were well developed and had lots of depth. They all had their own private problems, and were all fighting their own personal battle.


I liked the dynamics between each character. They all had different relationships - my favourite was Mira and Sebby. The author had captured the essence of being best friends so it felt very realistic. Their relationship was unusual yet very special.


My main problem with the book was the writing style. It was very disjointed and chucky because it constantly switched between Mira (3rd person), Jeremy (1st person), and Sebby (2nd Person). It got a little confusing at times - I would have been able to enjoy the book much more if everything was in 3rd person.


This book tried so hard to be meaningful and beautiful, but in my opinion, it really wasn’t. There were too many themes explored (bullying, suicide, depression, mental health, homophobia, drugs, friendship), and I thought it got too crowded. Because it was so busy, it wasn’t able to fully explore most of these themes. This made me feel like the book wasn’t as important as it would have been, if it delivered a strong and poignant message about just a couple of themes.


I found the ending frustrating. It didn’t give enough closure, and I was left feeling confused. I really cared about the characters, so I was very disappointed for it to leave us wanting more. It was too ‘poetic’, and tried too hard to be beautiful, and left to the reader’s interpretation. Just a few more pages would have rounded off this book so much better.

I thought this book was a very fun contemporary. At many points, I was smiling and laughing with the characters: I enjoyed the book a lot. The writing style mainly let it down for me, and the way it tried too hard, but it definitely had potential to be a very important book. I'd recommend for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or I'll Give You the Sun.


Rating:

4 stars

Review: Vicious

10:00

Vicious
By V.E. Schwab

Source: Library, paperback
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch nemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

My review:

After reading V.E. Schwab’s other book, A Darker Shade of Magic, I knew I was going to enjoy this one. It had a really original concept that I instantly became intrigued by, even though I’m not a huge fan of comics or superhero films. It was fast paced and really addictive, so I constantly wanted to read on.

I found the relationship between Victor and Eli so interesting to read about. The way they had turned from best friends, to rivals, to arch enemies, made the book so much more unique. They both changed a lot through the story, and to experience that, along with the constant action and nerdy science-fiction explanations and ideas, made this book so much more original.

I also really enjoyed the themes woven through the book. The jealousy and rivalry between Victor and Eli made this book stand out, because of the way this is something that is explored so little. I also really enjoyed the way the line between being a hero and being a villain is shown, and the way that the book questions the difference between heroes and villains.

The plot was also really enjoyable. It was original and unpredictable, so I was constantly gripped. It ha so many twists and turns, but they were perfectly paced and explained so I was never confused. The flash-backs never became boring either, as it was obvious they were going to become important later in the story.

Although this book was a little slow to start with, as soon as I got into it, I enjoyed it so much. Everything explored was really original, meaning the book was never predictable. I’m now super excited for the sequel to be released (as I think the author announced she was writing one) - I found the ending to round off the book well, but there is definitely area for a sequel. I know I’ll definitely be reading it!


Rating:

3.5 stars

Review: Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)

08:00

Blood Promise
By Richelle Mead

Page count: 504
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. 

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters ... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved? 

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?


My review:


After the way Shadow Kiss ended, I was desperate for Blood Promise. I expected it to have the same excitement and pace that Shadow Kiss did, but instead I ended up highly disappointed. It had a slow start (for the majority of the book, not much was happening), and I was disappointed with the direction that it took.


I found Rose to be a lot weaker in this book. In some parts, she was pretty pathetic and had no self control, and I found it was as if all of her training practically went out the window (she hesitated and could barely throw a punch). I didn’t like how she took a while to think of a plan (it just made the story drag) and do something for herself.


Though I enjoyed the new characters, I didn’t like Lissa. She was really selfish and unpleasant to everyone around her, especially to Rose through the bond. I didn’t like her in Shadow Kiss, but I hated her in Blood Promise. Everything she did was pretty pathetic, and she made really irritating decisions.


The book got a lot better towards the end. Like all of the books in the series, the ending was really exciting. There was much more action, and although Rose still made a few stupid decisions, she was much tougher. I liked how she was able to (somewhat) save the day, as at the start of the book she was a bit rubbish.

Because the book took a different direction compared to the rest of the series, it was obviously setting up for next books in the series. I’m hoping everything will come together, and everyone will be really important, and play their part. Everything will have mattered, and there will be a truly epic conclusion. Most of this book didn’t go anywhere and was repetitive, so I’m hoping the rest of the series is going to continue with the fast pace of Shadow Kiss, and go back to being a truly awesome series.


Rating:

4 stars

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

20:29

The Wrath and the Dawn
By Renee Ahdieh

Source: Ebook
Page count: 388
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?


My review:

I knew I was going to like this book, but when I picked it up, I didn’t realise I was going to adore it as much as I did. It had a really intriguing concept, so I knew as soon as I read the synopsis that I just had to read it. The cover is beautiful too (even though I read it as an ebook), so I knew that it had to be mine.

The writing was stunning. The descriptions were rich and vivid, so I could imagine every scene perfectly. It was never got tiresome because of the way everything was so perfectly described. The world building was never boring; instead so magical and interesting.

All of the characters were done perfectly. Although I would have liked to see more depth and development in Khalid, the boy-king, I loved Shahrzad so much. She was funny and compassionate at times, yet could be witty, a badass fighter, and very independent. She made such a good lead so I really cared about her for the whole book.

I actually really enjoyed the romance. My usually-cold heart melted at the enchanting love story, which is definitely a first! Usually - in my opinion - romance and sex is done really badly (especially in YA books), but The Wrath and the Dawn did it so well. It was slow-burning so I had time to want Shahrzad and Khalid to actually be together, yet there was enough romance so I didn’t get bored, or feel it was pointless.

Overall, I really liked this book! I was gripped throughout the whole book because everything was done so well. I loved discovering a whole new world, and I found the court politics especially interesting. I’m now really excited for the next book to be released - The Wrath and the Dawn left us on a real cliffhanger too! I would definitely recommend this book for fans of An Ember in the Ashes.

Rating:

3.5 stars

Blog Tour: Becoming Death

09:00

Becoming Death
By Melissa Brown

Summary:
Ever since her father's demise, Madison Clark knew death had her number. After losing her first job, she is ushered into the cryptic family business. Little does she know her family is hiding a dark secret; they are grim reapers, custodians of souls on their journey to the beyond. Madison expects her historic legacy to have benefits beyond immortality. What she doesn't expect is to still be struggling for cash while reaping souls on the side.

As if being Death's minion wasn't strenuous enough, Madison finds herself back at school with her worst enemy studying the ancient rules, methods and paperwork of her vocation. In a cascade of life changes: her best friend admits he’s in love with her and she starts a new job as a professional mourner, but she can’t help thinking her family might have other secrets.

Just when things are finally starting to feel normal again Death throws her a curveball: her next victim is her best friend. Madison must find a way to overcome the strict guidelines of being a grim reaper in order to save his life.

Information about the book
Title: Becoming Death
Author: Melissa Brown
Release Date: June 12th 2015
Genre: Paranormal YA
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: Paperback and E-book

My review:
I enjoyed this book. It had a really cool concept - grim reapers and killing people with their mind, so I knew it had the potential to be a really original story. I was surprised at the direction the book took (it wasn’t as dark as I thought, and it took more of a realism / black humour direction), but I still liked it. It was really well written, and I was instantly hooked.

All of the characters were really likeable. I felt like they were all really well developed, and I actually cared about all of them. Madison (the protagonist) was really interesting to read about because she was realistic and relatable. I also really liked the strong group of women in the book (Madison’s family), which always makes me enjoy the book more.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the romance. Though it did grow on me, and though I did like it much more towards the end, I would have much preferred for Madison and Aaron to have stayed friends (the ending would still have worked anyway). It didn’t add much to the story (the romantic scenes weren’t my favourite), but by the end of the book, I quite liked them together.

There were lots of nice touched which really updated a traditional story. Grim reapers aren’t really modern, but original touches like having mobile apps to find targets made the story darkly funny. At first I feared they would become a little boring and cliche, but once I got into the story and used to them, I found them original and inventive.

The book was very short, so I found somethings to be a bit rushed. This meant it was fast paced, and never slow, but made me think that Madison and Aaron’s relationship was a little rushed. I think it could have made a great duology - this way, we would have got to see more development in their relationship. Also, I would have liked to see more of Madison’s grim reaper duties, which I found really interesting.

Overall, this is a short, light paranormal that many will enjoy. I would recommend to new fans of the genre because it’s not too creepy, and it’s not too heavy. It was well written, and had some perfectly executed (excuse the pun) black humour.
My rating:

About the author:
Melissa Brown an American author that lives in Norwich, England. She is a teacher in ICT skills, English and creative writing. In 2014, she was shortlisted for the IdeasTap Inspires: Writers' Centre Norwich Writing Competition and longlisted for the Nottingham Writers' Club's inaugural National Short Story Competition. She was also a featured poet at the Norwich: City of Stories launch event, where she did a live reading of her poem 'The Library.'  She enjoys films, books, comics, fangirling and subscription boxes. She blames her love of the written word on her hometown library and fanfictionShe lives with her partner, Kris, and her awesome cat, Hailey.
Author Links

Follow the tour:
Monday 17th August
Tuesday 18th August
Wednesday 19th August
Thursday 20th August
Friday 21st August
Saturday 22nd August
Sunday 23rd August
Monday 24th August

Tour wide giveaway
There is also a tour-wide giveaway!
The prizes are:
5 necklaces inspired by Becoming Death
2 copies of Becoming Death
This giveaway is open to UK participants ONLY.
Rafflecopter Link:

4 stars

Review: First Year

19:06

First Year
By Rachel E. Carter

Source: E-book
Page count: 278
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal

Goodreads Synopsis:

For 15-year-old Ryiah, the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead -the realm's most notorious war school for those with magic. 

Yet when she arrives, Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every "first-year" is given a trial year to prove their worth -and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail -and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived. 

When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship, she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve -and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat... Still, nothing is ever as it seems -and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in -herself. Will it be enough?


My review:

As soon as I read the synopsis on this book, I knew I was going to love it. A magical boarding school, a badass heroine with caring friends, and a swoon-worthy prince - yes please! I loved every minute of this book. It was easy to get into, and generally a light read, yet it was a powerful story with a compelling style.

My favourite element was the action. It was fast paced, so although we weren’t constantly bombarded by fight scenes (which would get a bit tiring), we were never bored. Even though the school was essentially a school for magic, lots of the training scenes were physical, which I liked because it made the book different from other magic-school books.

I also really liked Ryiah. When she came to the school at the beginning of the book, she was one of the worst in the class, but she was determined and worked her way to the top. I liked this especially because of all her hard work - it made her feel more real, and she was someone to aspire to be like. She was flawed, but it just made her more likeable.

I was surprised to enjoy the romance so much. Arrogant love interests aren’t usually my thing, but I liked reading about Darren and his slow-burning relationship with Ryiah. The reason I liked it so much was because the romance didn’t take the attention away from the main storyline. There were romantic scenes, but in the other scenes, Ryiah was still herself.

I really enjoyed this book. The elitism and dynamics of the school were really interesting to read about, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I liked how it focused on the physical side of training, so wasn’t too similar to Harry Potter. Though this book is so much better than Harry Potter (I see the mob of angry fans trying to kill me for hating Harry Potter, and throwing the rest of the series at me, in attempt to get me to read them (never!)). I would really recommend!



Rating:

5 Stars

Review: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)

22:34


Shadow Kiss
By Richelle Mead

Source: Library
Page count: 443
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires, Romance,

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires - the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

Rose knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa - the last Dragomir princess - must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken...

Then a strange darkness begins to grow in Rose's mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy's iron gates. The immortal undead are closing in, and they want vengeance for the lives Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most... but will her choice mean that only one can survive?


My review:

I loved this book so much. From giving the previous book only 3 stars, I was really surprised to find myself liking it this much. I knew I was going to really enjoy it, but not as much as I ended up doing. The pacing was perfect, so I constantly wanted to read on. It’s definitely my favourite book of the series so far!

The romance in this book was perfectly done. It had already been slow-burning throughout the other previous books in the series, so it didn’t feel at all like insta-love. This meant that we also had time to want them to be together. It didn’t take away focus from the main plot too, so we had some of romance focused scenes, but a lot of action too.

I really liked all the action scenes. They were perfectly done so we weren’t confused, yet the choreography was done really well do we could clearly picture the scenes. Towards the end, there were lots of action scenes with I really loved. The plot was unpredictable and had lots of twists.

Rose developed so much again throughout this book. She was still very mature, yet badass throughout the whole thing. It was amazing to see how well she could fight (it made the action scenes much more exciting!) and how far she had come as a character. Her opinions towards political ideas had changed, so the overall themes of the books changed too, and they were really interesting to read about.

I really enjoyed this book. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series now, and I just know that I won’t be able to read another book until I get Blood Promise (the next in the series)! I loved literally everything about this book, so it’s really worth reading the series, even if the first two books aren’t amazing.

Rating: