Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #50: Favorites of 2015


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015


        

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Angelfall by Susan Ee
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge


        

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Ensnared by A.G. Howard
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner 
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: The Program by Suzanne Young


Title: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 405
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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.

The Program immediately caught my attention with its eye-catching cover and description. I love reading about conspiracy theories in my free time because I'm a nerd with nothing better to do, so when a book comes along that sounds like it might be up that alley, I'm definitely going to take notice! I didn't really know much about this going in other than what was on the inside cover, but I had high hopes for a conspiracy laden novel in the same vein as The Twilight Zone!

Sloane is the main character in The Program. She and her boyfriend James are navigating their lives and trying to survive without getting flagged for The Program, where people inevitably come back as shells of their former selves, memories missing. Anything could send them there - even crying - as the country panics to save their young adults from the suicide epidemic. And so, Sloane doesn't allow herself to show emotion except when she's with James. As her life falls apart around her and one by one her friends are either taken into The Program or "terminate" themselves, it's obvious that it's only a matter of time until she ends up in one of the two categories.

I liked Sloane for the most part. She fought like a champ, refusing to give up and lose her memories, and never stopped fighting even to the last page. I could definitely admire her will to survive The Program and come out in tact. It felt like I was there with her as she experienced the hopelessness of knowing she was really at the mercy of those around her. I didn't fully understand the decisions she made in every instance, especially when it came to Realm, but I still liked her.

The two love interests (you knew there would be a love triangle) were James and Realm - James from before and Realm from The Program. I didn't fully love either of them, and if I had to pick one of them to "win" I'm not sure who it would be. Both cared about her deeply, although Realm did some pretty reprehensible things. James was obnoxious and arrogant, but Sloane seemed to find that endearing. Either way, I enjoyed both of them and the love triangle actually made sense in this story rather than detracting from it.

I also enjoyed the more minor characters of Lacey and even Miller. The parents in every case really got under my skin. They all seemed incredibly weak and deluded. It makes me wonder how people might really react if something like this were to occur.

Suzanne Young did a great job of bringing this not-to-distant-future world to life! There weren't many locations featured, but the Program facility especially seemed to come off the page in a totally creepy way. I could definitely feel the dread of the characters as they roamed the stark white halls and smelled that hospital scent. I felt like I was right there sneaking around with Sloane and Realm (or James) throughout the book.

The other setting I felt was really well-done was the river. It was written in such a way that I could understand the peace that came over Sloane when she was there, especially when the rest of her life is so chaotic and depressing.

Speaking of depressing, that's what this book is. Granted, it's about a world with a suicide epidemic among young people. Still, I didn't realize just how bleak a world I'd be diving into with The Program. There are brief moments of happiness here and there, but for the most part I felt like I might get flagged while reading this book!

Perhaps that feeling is part of the originality of The Program, or maybe it's just because I usually steer clear of anything that's not going to give me the warm fuzzies at the end. I'm not quite sure if there's supposed to be some deeper commentary on problems in the mental health system, but I wasn't really in a mood to contemplate that much further. Please fill me in if you know something I don't!

In any case, The Program is pretty unique, at least among the books that I've read. The story, though bleak, did draw me in and make me want to find out what was really going on! Unfortunately, I didn't find out. I felt like there needed to be more backstory - more answers about what caused the epidemic and where The Program came from. There was one (what I assume was supposed to be) big twist, but it was actually quite predictable, although I'm still at a loss of whether or not the epidemic is something deeper and more sinister. The ending was satisfying though, and didn't end on a huge cliffhanger.


  In Closing 
I really did enjoy The Program even though I'm a little hung up on the depressing nature of the book (about an epidemic of depression and suicide). I'll definitely read book two to find out what happens next, although I don't feel a huge rush to do it right this second.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

#Read-o-rama read-a-thon TBR



I just found out about this today, so I guess I'll be almost a full day behind, but I'm hopping on board the read-o-rama train anyway! This is so exciting! I'm dubbing this the summer of read-a-thons!

The goal: Read 7 books

There are goals for each of the six of the seven books: a middle grade novel, a fantasy, a book with blue on the cover, re-read a book, R-A-M-A in the title/author, read an ebook. Here's my list of those six in order:

      
    

(note: I can only read Stargirl if it shows up at the library)

Because it's very unlikely I'll read 7 books in 7 days, I'm also including books that I've started but haven't finished, as well as audiobooks. It's okay, you can call me a cheater! ;) I'm leaving my 7th spot open because I'm terrible with TBR lists as it is, so there's really no telling what could happen!

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Weekly Recap: 6/21 - 6/27




My Super Exciting Life 

This week, shockingly, was pretty uneventful... Although a couple of exciting things DID happen! I cemented plans to go to YALLFest in November and booked a cruise for next May, so that's definitely not nothing! The giveaway for the Horror Reading Challenge also started this week (you can find it in the sidebar) and has a few entries so far, but not quite what I'd hoped for. Definitely go check that out if you haven't already!

And... you know? I think it's time I shared something semi-embarrassing with all of you. For starters, I'm 27, which you may have already known depending on how much of a stalker you are. My point is, I'm not in high school anymore. HOWEVER, when I was in high school (and middle school) I was totally, 200% obsessed with the Backstreet Boys. Oh yeah, I was Team BSB. No time for that N'Sync garbage. So... I found out there was a BSB documentary that came out earlier this year and that it's on Netflix. So I watched it and thought I was 13 again! Oh my god. I can't with these guys! And I have to tell all of you, I think I've finally grown all the way up. I've become a Kevin/AJ girl. Yep, I've left Team Nick. Honestly, that guys kind of a total jerk. And he's really not that hot. What was teenage me thinking?! You don't even want to know about all the Nick Carter posters I had in my room. I also discovered that AJ released an amazing solo album a few years ago that's, well, way better than any of Nick's...  (check out one of his videos) Finally, they do a BSB cruise every year! The 2016 sailing is sold out, but who's on board (pun intended) to go with me in 2017?! I can't be the only one, guys.


Okay, I'm done...

Last, but not least, who is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month? Because I'm looking for a cabin and I'd much rather be with people I know! Let me know in the comments! :D



New Books

This week I made an impromptu trip to the local thrift shop and picked up 
a couple things! I found a signed copy of Love, Stargirl for 50 cents! I also got a 
copy of The Brief History of the Dead,which has been on my TBR list for quite 
awhile. And... then I made two trips to the library. I think I'm addicted! 

  



In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of Snow Like Ashes
The topic was favorite past topics for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Return to the Dark House for Waiting on Wednesday
On Thursday I posted the Horror Challenge update & giveaway
The topic was required school reading for Feature & Follow Friday
On Friday I also posted my Audiobook Challenge update
Saturday audiobook review of Seed



This Week I Read

  


Upcoming Reviews

  



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Audiobook Review: Seed by Ania Ahlborn


Title: Seed
Author: Ania Ahlborn
Narrator: Eric G. Dove
Publication Date: May 28, 2011
Publisher: 47North
Add to Goodreads

With nothing but the clothes on his back—and something horrific snapping at his heels—Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was still just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever. But years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.

When Jack, his wife Aimee, and their two small children survive a violent car crash, it seems like a miracle. But Jack knows what he saw on the road that night, and it wasn’t divine intervention. The profound evil from his past won’t let them die…at least not quickly. It’s back, and it’s hungry; ready to make Jack pay for running, to work its malignant magic on his angelic youngest daughter, and to whisper a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.

Country comfort is no match for spine-tingling Southern gothic suspense in Ania Ahlborn’s tale of an ordinary man with a demon on his back. Seed plants its page-turning terror deep in your soul, and lets it grow wild.

Around this time last year I was reading The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn and being completely BLOWN AWAY by it! The obvious next step would be to locate every other book she's ever written, but for some reason I just now got around to reading (listening to) Seed. The premise sounds sufficiently spooky and i needed another read for my Horror Reading Challenge, so I went into Seed prepared to love it! Unfortunately, it wasn't everything I'd hoped for.

Seed is a possession story, plain and simple. It doesn't take very long for the story to pick up and this to be made clear. It still came as a shock though when I discovered that the one being possessed was a six-year-old little girl. (Why is it always the girls, by the way?)

Jack, the dad in the story, has a past that is not made clear for much of the book. He seems like a good father and husband, never doing anything to make the reader seriously question his character. But as he slowly starts unraveling throughout the story and his past starts to come to light, it becomes obvious that he's not the most upstanding of citizens. I actually really liked Jack as a character. Seeing things unfold through his eyes and living with his secrets really made the feelings of dread that much more tangible.

His wife, Aimee, was an okay character, and it was almost painful to see her go through the events of the book completely in the dark. And then there's Charlie...

I'm not sure whether I loved or hated her. She dripped evil, which is impressive from a six-year-old character, and really makes me wonder how her mom was so oblivious. I guess people see what they want to see.

The southern gothic setting was actually kind of perfect for this story! I don't know much about Louisiana, but this book made me want to avoid it a little... The backwoods towns alone are enough to keep me out! But seriously, Ania Ahlborn did a great job of setting a creepy deep south mood for this story.

The demonic possession in this book, while pretty creepy, was not the absolutely terrifying ordeal I had been hoping for. This book was really more of a slow burn horror novel than a collection jump-scares. While it was okay, it just wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. The tension builds very slowly from page one and it all culminates at the very (very) end. And honestly, the ending wasn't as shocking as I thought it might be. It had become pretty obvious what would happen by then time the big finish occurred.

Overall, I did enjoy Seed. It was a good, slow-burn horror novel and I would recommend it to people who are a fan of horror, or maybe those who want to start with a lighter horror novel before jumping right into Stephen King!



°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
Truthfully, I didn't love Eric G. Dove as a narrator. His voice was a little... bland. But I'm honestly really picky when it comes to male voice actors.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Audiobook Challenge Half-way Update


Yay! I made it halfway through the 2015 Audiobook Challenge and I'm way over my goal! I originally signed up for Weekend Warrior (5-10 books) but since I've already listened to 13, I've decided to officially raise my goal to Socially Awkward (15-20 books)! Wish me luck!! Here's my progress so far (click image for review):


Five Star Books

  


Four Star Books



Three Star Books

    


Two Star Books

    
    


Review to Come

  


Currently Reading

    


Unfortunately, most of the books I've read so far have been 2 star books. I wonder if this has more to do with some of the narrators than the books themselves... Still, I've read a few that have been really good! And all my currently reading books seem very promising so far!


How's everyone else doing? 

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #53: Required reading



Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.


This Week's Question: 
Is there a book that you were required to read
in school that you actually loved? 


YES!! I actually did a whole post on this right after I started my blog! You can check out the full post here, but here's the answer in images:

      

    

Coincidentally, I'm giving away two of these in my Horror Reading Challenge giveaway (in the sidebar)! It's for participants only, so make sure to sign up if you want a chance at the goods!

What were your favorite school required reads? 

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