Review: Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett

Review: Starry Eyes – Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse
on April 3, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

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?

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

I fell in love with Jenn Bennett’s YA books last year when I read Alex, Approximately. The story and writing was exactly what I love in a realistic contemporary. When I finished Alex I moved on to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. Same writing and story vibe that I love. Bennett seems to just click with what I love. So when Starry Eyes was announced I was beyond excited. And although it I wasn’t as in love with it as I was with her other two, it’s up there with some other favorites.

Starry Eyes is about Zorie, a girl with a plan. No, seriously, she has a plan for everything! And her plan fo the summer is to work, see a meteor shower, and to stay away from her former best friend Lennon who broke her heart. Unfortunately life doesn’t go according to plan. Suddenly Zorie finds herself abandoned in the woods with only Lennon to rely on to get them home. When plans are no longer an options Zori starts to learn things she never knew and has to deal with the aftermath of it all.

My favorite part of Starry Eyes was Zorie and Lennon’s relationship and history. It’s clear early on that there are things about their relationship that is a mystery to both of them. Honestly they are both missing parts of their own story. Reading as they delve into the past and see what went wrong really endeared them to me. It showed just how teenager-ish they were. Instead of talking they shut out. It was pretty perfect. And Bennett unfolded there story in a way that was paced perfectly.

Like I said, I didn’t love it as much as the first two Bennett books I’ve read, but I think that’s a me thing. I’m an indoor girl so the extended woods part was a tad too much for my city girl loving heart. But with that aside this book was really great. It shows friendships changing, parents failing, and character growth. Definitely one to get on the TBR.

Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s books? Alex, Approximately is still my favorite!

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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
on April 30th 2013
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on November 8th 2016
Amazon, 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.

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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Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina Ciocca

Review: A Kiss in the Dark – Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Published by Simon Pulse
on March 6th 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon, Goodreads

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.

Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.

Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.

But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

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

The first time I read a book by Gina Ciocca was her debut, Last Year’s Mistake, in 2015. I enjoyed the book a lot. I really clicked with the writing. So when I saw Gina had another book, Busted, coming out in 2018 I was beyond excited. Read and loved that. And then there was A Kiss in the Dark. A book that sounded like equal parts romance and mystery mixed with a lot of teen angst. I was dying to get my hands on it. And when I did…loved! It was really everything I had built it up to be in my head and I’m so happy.

This book was the perfect mix of mystery and contemporary romance. As a reader what I loved is that I didn’t have the whole story from the beginning. You know that something happened. You know that friendships ended and hearts were broken, it you didn’t know why it happened and who was involved. All it took was one unforgettable kiss in the dark for Macy to go back to that year and unravel just what lead to it all falling apart and to figure out who kissed her and why. It was done really well. I had no clue what happened and how it lead to all the destruction until I was about 70% done, although I figured out the kiss early on.

On top of loving the mystery/romance aspect it helped that I loved the three main people involved, Ben, Joel and Macy. All three played a part in the mess that was their lives and it took a year for them to face it and to try and fix what they broke or missed completely. I highly enjoyed seeing their story unfold and the secrets they were hiding. Plus I admit to being a tad smitten with Ben. Sue me, he’s adorable.

All in all I think this was my favorite book by Gina Ciocca. There is something about her books that I just click with. Her writing style just gets me and I need more of her stories in my life. This is an author you need to check out and this is a book you need to read!

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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
on April 24th 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on January 30th 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on April 24th 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on January 2nd 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on March 6th 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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
on April 3rd 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

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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