Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks – Suzanne Young

Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks – Suzanne YoungGirls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: March 19, 2019
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five-stars

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Since coming across The Program in 2013 I have been a fan of Suzanne Young and her books. There is something about the way she tells a story that sucked me in from the get go. I swear every time I need a new book by her I don’t think she can write any better than she has and yet she constantly proves me wrong. But I can confidentially tell you that Girls with Sharp Sticks is 100% her most brilliant masterpiece yet. When I tell you that I loved this book, I mean it more than I can accurately explain. It is just such a memorable reading experience you truly won’t be able to find the words to describe your feelings.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is about Mena, a girl that goes to a school where she is taught how to be the ‘perfect woman’. The girls are told how to dress, how to act, and how to behave in order to please the men in their lives. They are conditioned to behave and be ‘proper’ and to obey. But when strange things start happening Mena starts noticing how unusual the school is and how sheltered the girls actually are. With the help of a new friend from outside the school walls, Mena opens her eyes and sees what’s really going on at Innovations Academy and she isn’t going to let it continue. When all the girls ban together the men of Innovations learn what the tag line says: Some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

This book was hardcore! And epic! And amazing! And fantastic! And any other adjective you can think of to describe such an unexpectedly powerful book. I was completely creeped out and disgusted reading it. These men were so vile and gross and 100% taking advantage of these girls to suit their needs. I swear I wanted to punch them all in the face so many times. But these girls, Mena, Sydney, Annaliese, Marcella, Brynn and Valentine (not a name a few), were actually what these men feared. These women together held all the power. They were the ones that were able to stand up for themselves and say ‘no, enough is enough’, and I loved every minute of it.

I want to say so much about this story. I want to tell you every detail and small thing I loved. But I refuse to ruin this experience. I strongly feel this is a book that everyone should read and will love. It is so unexpected and brilliantly done. I really can’t say any more than that. If you have trusted my book judgement in the past then trust it now. I swear it is worth it!

Now bring on Girls with Razor Hearts!

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New to You (5): Lillian Reviews The Program by Suzanne Young

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Lillian from Mom with a Reading Problem. For a while now I have been planning a readalong for Suzanne Young’s series The Program. The final book in the series comes out in April (Spoiler alert…it’s AMAZING) and I wanted to bring this amazing series to everyone’s attention. When Lillian signed up and wanted to read The Program the timing was perfect. More info on the readalong will be posted on 3/16, but for now, check out Lillian’s review below and find out what she thought!

New to You (5): Lillian Reviews The Program by Suzanne YoungThe Program by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #1
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: April 30th 2013
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five-stars

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.

Why?! Oh, why did it take me so long to pick up this book?!?! Thank you goes to Andi for putting it back on my radar and hosting this feature so I finally could get my hands on it. My heart hurts y’all! The Program by Suzanne Young is a YA dystopia that will leave you heart sick and hopeful all at the same time. I could not sit it down! The author took me through a range of emotions from euphoric to rock bottom depressed to hopeful and aching. Sloane’s journey in the book will rip your heart out and tear it to shreds….you know, in a good way 😉

The Program is set in a not too distant future where an epidemic is rising among the teens of the world. The epidemic: suicide. Suicide in itself is a touchy subject, but I found when placed in a dystopian society such as this one, it is downright horrific. Suzanne Young does a beautiful job of describing not only the depression that brings someone to the brink of ending their own life but also the heartache for the loved ones left behind. This book needs a big warning label on it: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Seriously y’all, I cried my eyes out, and when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any tears left, I cried some more.

The teens in this story live their lives in fear. They are not allowed to show any emotion outside of being happy. Why? Because the Program will take you if you show ANY signs of depression (crying, anger, etc.) to prevent the epidemic from spreading. The Program is meant to save your life, prevent you from committing suicide and succumbing to the epidemic. But the “returners,” those who have completed the program, are not what you would expect. Think Stepford wives. These returners have been wiped clean so to speak, having little memory of life before the Program.

And this is how the story begins, with Sloane and her boyfriend James and best friend Miller. Sloane is an average 17 year old girl, at least her thoughts appear that way. Yet she lives in fear of being taken by the Program. Her brother is dead, having committed suicide previously and her home life is less than stellar. She isn’t permitted to show her grief to anyone except James. James is her rock and the only person who truly knows her. When Lacey, her childhood best friend is returned blank, it sets in motion a downward spiral for Sloane, James, and Miller that can only be described as heart-wrenching.

The plot revolves around Sloane and her downward spiral. As I’ve already mentioned, the author’s ability to pull the reader into Sloane’s depression, her resistance to the Program, and her feelings toward the people in her life is astounding. I felt what Sloane felt. I ached for her and James. I cried for all she lost and gained. The intricacies of the Program are interesting and slowly revealed as Sloane experiences them. I found myself intrigued and wanting to know more immediately about this secretive cure for the epidemic the teens faced.

I fell in love with The Program! I loved Sloane and James, Realm (who is introduced later in the story) and the dystopian world. And the epilogue….mind blown! I’ve already purchased book two The Treatment and hope to start it soon. I highly recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of YA dystopia. It doesn’t disappoint!

About Lillian @ Mom with a Reading Problem

I’m a thirty-something Southern girl, currently living in the mountains of East TN. I started blogging in 2014 on a dare from my husband after I became a stay-at-home mama to our little man and haven’t looked back. When I’m not blogging or reading, I’m a superhero or a Jedi and sometimes I’m just Mom.

Website: http://www.momwithareadingproblem.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/momwithareadingproblem
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lillian_mccurry
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mom_with_a_reading_problem
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lmccurry286

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Thanks Lillian for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved The Program. I hope you stop by and join the readalong for The Program!

Have you started The Program series? If so how many have you read? Will you be joining my readalong?

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New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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First up is Lauren from Bookmark Lit. She came to me with the book she wanted to read because I have been talking about it for years. 🙂 So without further ado, here’s Lauren’ thoughts on All in Pieces by Suzanne Young. (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}All in Pieces by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: November 8th 2016
Buy on Amazon
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four-half-stars

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

I’m already a huge fan of Suzanne Young’s books, but for some reason I kept putting this one off… even with Andi’s frequent recommendation. I jumped at the chance to read this for her blog because I knew that I’d finally have to do it – no excuses! I think the biggest thing that was deterring me is that I don’t really do heavier contemporaries. I like fluffy romance and don’t spend a lot of time being sad during books anymore. Well, clearly something worked with this book because I sat down and finished it in one sitting on a Sunday morning.

The premise of the story is that Savannah assaults her ex-boyfriend when he insults her younger brother. She spends most of her time taking care of Evan, going to her new school to deal with her anger management issues, and hanging out with her best friends. Her ex, Patrick, is still after her, looking for an apology, when she starts spending time with someone else from her class. Cameron is gorgeous and sweet and I totally fell in love with him. Savannah starts to open up again and soften her hard exterior. I loved her friendship with Retha and Retha’s boyfriend, Travis, even if it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest. There was a decent amount of girl-hate and judgement, plus dealing with their problems through violence, but I still felt myself drawn to them and understanding where some of their anger came from. Savannah was not a perfect character by any means. She was stubborn and unwavering in her support of her brother, even if it wasn’t always what was best for his future. I always appreciated where she was coming from even if I wanted to shake some sense into her almost every single chapter.

I don’t want to spoil too much about what happens, plot-wise, but I will say that everything comes to a head later in the story and it broke my heart. It’s a really hard story, but it’s one worth telling. I adored the last few chapters of the book and am really happy to note that it was relatively drama-free (at least romance-wise), which I love. I learned that I should absolutely never sleep on a Suzanne Young book, even if it doesn’t seem like a ~me~ book. The only reason this doesn’t get a full five stars from me is because of the frequent frustration with Savannah and the way some problems were handled, even though the constant fighting did make me smile way more than something like that should have! The moral of this story is to always listen to Andi when she yells at you to read a book, especially if the book is by one of your favorite authors and you have no excuses!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 1, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Lauren for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved it. Fills my heart with joy!

Here’s my review of All in Pieces.

Have any of you read All in Pieces?

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Book Love – All in Pieces Paperback Release

When I fall in love with a book I fall hard. If I love it I want you to love it too. I like to get the word out for it, I like people to know it exists, I like suggesting people pick it up and read it. It’s just who I am as a reader and a book lover. Actually I’m like that with anything I love. I like to push and if I get even one person to fall the same way then I feel like I have accomplished something. That’s my goal today.

About a year ago Suzanne Young released a fabulous book, All in Pieces. I was lucky and I got to read it in August of 2016 and I was blown away buy it’s beauty. I loved it so much in fact I read it twice before it was even available on shelves. You all know I’m a rereader, but that was pushing it even for me. But honestly it was that amazing and I needed to return to that feeling and emotion I got. I loved it so much I have since read it a 3rd time and plan to read it a 4th time. I also have done numerous posts on my blog for it:

Guest Post – Riveted Lit Q&A with All in Pieces author Suzanne Young

Review: All in Pieces – Suzanne Young

The Book Push – All in Pieces (Suzanne Young)

So why am I talking about it again? Well it’s out on paperback today and it is the perfect opportunity for you to go and pick up a copy to see what I love so much about it. And if you have already read it and reviewed it? Today is the perfect day to put that review on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

Book Love – All in Pieces Paperback ReleaseAll in Pieces by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

Now I ask, have you read it? Have you posted your review?

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Waiting For…

I’m aware it is only July of 2017. In my mind I know there are plenty of books coming out in the next months that I am desperate to read. But if I’m honest I keep looking at my 2018 book list on Goodreads and getting all the book envy. There are so many books coming out in 2018 and I’m dying for them all. I mean there is the given, the 7th book in the Throne of Glass series and the announce 4th book in the ACOTAR series, plus the Meet Cute compilation, but there are some series that are starting and ending and plain old books by authors I love. Really, is there anything wrong with being excited for 2018 and all the amazing books that will be released? I think not.

Currently I have 28 books on my 2018 TBR, but I thought I would showcase the 6 I’m super excited for:

 

Waiting For…Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington
Published by Tor Teen
Published: April 24th 2018
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It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.

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Waiting For…Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Published by Bloomsbury
Published: January 30th 2018
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Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

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Waiting For…The Complication by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: April 24th 2018
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How do you go back to a life you can’t remember? Find out in this sixth novel in the New York Times bestselling Program series from Suzanne Young.

Every cure has a cost.

Tatum Masterson learned this after years of being monitored by The Program. She witnessed it when her boyfriend, Wes, came back changed, erased. And now, even the newest “cure” has a heavy cost—one she and Wes paid.

The Adjustment came into Tatum’s life just when she thought she needed it most, a promise for Wes to get back his forgotten memories. But when the procedure went wrong, a revelation shattered everything Tatum thought she knew.

Now, with no one left to trust, Tatum must find out what really happened last summer. And with the help of the boyfriend she lost, Tatum will have to dig into the past and future of The Program and its handlers.

And discover the true cost of a cure.

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Waiting For…Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Published: January 2nd 2018
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The riveting conclusion to the Kingmaker Chronicles, available January 2018!

Who is Catalia Fisa?With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step--reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger...we hope.

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Waiting For…More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury Children's
Published: March 6th 2018
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From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a heart-wrenching story of two teens with big secrets and a love that could set them free.

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

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Waiting For…Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: April 3rd 2018
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In this romantic dramedy from the author of Alex, Approximately, a teen girl’s way-too-ordinary life is driven off the beaten path when she’s abandoned in the wilderness with her worst adversary—the boy who broke her heart.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

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Are you excited for any of these in 2018? What books do I need to have on my TBR that may be an Andi book?

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