Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert.

Life in the center is regimented and intrusive, a nightmare come true. Nurses and therapists watch Stevie at mealtime, accompany her to the bathroom, and challenge her to eat the foods she’s worked so hard to avoid.

Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she ecaused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

Paperweight is a touching and charming debut novel dealing with eating disorders and growing up, but it definitely lacks the lilting beauty that make other books by authors such as Ellen Hopkins so successful. This book tells a gripping and painful story of a girl who is going through some serious issues and can only deny them. She doesn't want help and she doesn't think she needs to be in the treatment centre, like so many main characters in books like this. This story tells of her healing and her treatment and her overcoming of her problems as we dive into Stevie's past to find out why she is the way she is.

It's a story that has been told hundreds of times in books with almost exactly the same theme, however it's a story that always needs to be told. I just don't feel like Paperweight really stood out to me in the mass of similar books.

Meg Haston does have a way with words and characters, she knew just how to make Stevie an irritating character that despite disliking, I couldn't help but sympathise with. She knew how to keep me gripped in her life and death story, in finding out what happened in Stevie's past. She knew how to make me care about some of the other characters, like her ditzy roommate, and dislike other's like ex-best friend Eden.

That being said, I did feel like I was so much more absorbed in Stevie's past than I was her present, and the treatment center bits paled in comparison to the flashbacks. I feel like her shrink was too much of a shrink and, although likeable, she just didn't shine to me. I think for this to fulfill it's potential the book needed to immerse me into both the past and present, and it failed on that front, so I can only apologise and say that for me, Paperweight just didn't stand out. By no means was it a bad read, but it fails to shine in an overpopulated market.

Book released 7th July 2015 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Cage by Megan Sheperd

The Cage (The Cage, #1)

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?
The Cage is super annoying because it's one of those books that had all of the elements that should have made it an amazing, asskicking book but it concentrated on all of the wrong bits and totally lost out on that opportunity. The premise sort of reminded me of The Maze Runner because of the whole teens being stuck in an arena of sorts being tested on something that they don't know. The whole aliens bit was unbelievable but I guess it worked in context, but I would have loved more explanation because we're told things but they aren't explained well - as far as wordbuilding goes I feel like The Cage was a bit of a let down.

Now lets get to the romance - ignoring the human boy Lucky who isn't actually all that relevant despite his place in the love triangle I have to say that I was a little bit creeped out by Cassian's obsession with Cora and how Cora fell for the creepy alien guy who was holding her hostage. Sure, he comes across as sympathetic but it was just... Creepy to me. Not swoonworthy and nothing that I could really care about.

The other kids stuck in the cage were pretty forgettable - I guess they were annoying more than anything. There were so many petty arguments and stuff that really just pulled me away from the story in itself and that was pretty annoying for me, I felt that without the little teen arguments and romances this book would have been much better. Either that or more development on the sex and reproduction side of things, so more of a higher age group.

Finally, I found the pace pretty weird. At some times the book moved at a glacial pace and at some it moved just way too quickly.

Overall, I feel that The Cage was a great premise that fell flat in pretty much every other area. It could have been much better book but I feel like the focus was on the exact opposite aspects that it should have been.
Book released 26th May 2015 by Balzer+Bray
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Lola Carlyle''s 12 Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance

Lola Carlyle is lonely, out of sorts, and in for a boring summer. So when her best friend, Sydney, calls to rave about her stay at a posh Malibu rehab and reveals that the love of Lola’s life, Wade Miller, is being admitted, she knows what she has to do.Never mind that her worst addiction is decaf cappuccino; Lola is going to rehab.

Lola arrives at Sunrise Rehab intent solely on finding Wade, saving him from himself, and—naturally—making him fall in love with her…only to discover she’s actually expected to be an addict. And get treatment. And talk about her issues with her parents, and with herself. Plus she has insane roommates, and an irritatingly attractive mentor, Adam, who’s determined to thwart her at every turn.

Oh, and Sydney? She’s gone.

Turns out, once her pride, her defenses, and her best friend are stripped away, Lola realizes she’s actually got a lot to overcome…if she can open her heart long enough to let it happen.

Ugh! This book! How do I feel about this book?

I somewhat enjoyed it, reluctantly though. The start was so annoying and I thought I was going to have to DNF this book at 10% but I persevered even though it was stupid. Why would Sydney, Lola's friend, practically convince Lola to go to rehab because it's so great and then sign out before Lola got there? Why would Lola go to Rehab? Like, she practically faked addiction to get into rehab.

Sure, it's clear from the start that Lola is the child of famous people, so she has never had to live in the real world. Everything is all sunshine and happiness, the thought that people in the world have problems isn't something that Lola has ever had to think about which means that she is a whiny, annoying bitch at the start. She doesn't want to face up to the problems that she does have so she rubs her 'perfect' life into the other patients at the rehab centre. She doesn't realise how that will hurt other people. Sure, she did develop later on in the book and she grew up a whole lot, so when that started happening I started to get more into the book.

None of the other characters had much depth though. I mean, Adam was lovely and nice but I didn't really get much else from him. The other characters were utterly forgettable.

Overall, Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance was a fun book but it didn't have a whole lot of depth to it. It was okay, but this book won't be memorable in the long term.

Book released 5th May 2015 by Entangled Teen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

Oh gosh, what a surprise this book was. It's exactly what I have been waiting for after a run of pretty bad to average books. I have never read anything by Jennifer Estep before though I have heard great things about her other series and I have to say that Cold Burn of Magic did not let me down. From the first page I was invested in Lila's story and from then to the very end I was so gripped in the story.

Lila was such a strong character. She was witty, she admits when she makes mistakes and she was absolutely just a likable yet bristly tough gal. Sure, this did mean that I was sort of upset when she fell head over for heels with Devon without really having much to do with him. That being said, I liked Devon enough that I totally got it - he was swoonworthy - actually, I think that Devon is the first love interest in such a long time where I really understood why the main girl fell for him. He was lovely! Sure, Devon could sometimes be a bit cold but he was just a nice guy most of the time. The love was a little bit too fast, buuuuut there was no love triangle which I loved because it seemed like there was going to be one.

One thing that pretty much blew me away was the worldbuilding. The setting was a typical American tourist town, except the tourism is because the place is the most magical place in America. The world was so amazing, the magic was the forefront - this happy, bustling town - in the background is the magic gangs.

I really can't wait for the next book in the series, Lila is so far one of my favourite heroines in YA in 2015 and I am so excited to find out where her story goes from here.

Book released 28th April 2015 by Kensington
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Perfect Timing by Robin Mellom

Perfect Timing

After a break-up with her boyfriend, Tori Wright decides to get her mind off the guy and takes a job running errands for an eccentric couple. Suddenly she finds herself involved in the crazy world of LA nightlife--nightclubs, palm readers, movie stars, and a roving pack of paparazzi. After a misunderstanding lands her in jail, she has one night to clear her name, help a movie starlet avoid the paparazzi, and find Adam...the coworker who is quickly stealing her heart.
As she makes decisions that can change the course of her life, Tori discovers just how far she'll go to set the record straight.
But is she too late?

Perfect Timing reminded me of those Disney Channel Original Movies, about normal teenage girls getting mixed up in some big showbiz drama and learning lots of new things about herself along the way - that's actually exactly what this book was, and I think it would have translated much better into a movie than a book. As a book, I think Perfect Timing lost the point a little. To start with, I thought we were going to get an inspiring, fun teen romp about a heartbroken girl realising there is much more to life than guys. Instead I got a far-fetched teen romp that stated that it's all about finding the right guy.

I think Tori was a fun character, she was headstrong and determined... At the start. I feel like after she met Adam and realised her feelings for him she lost that strength which was super annoying because that is where the story started to go downhill for me. The story lost the fun vibe that comes with the paparazzi and the Hollywood life and just becomes Tori crying over her love life and that annoyed me, because this book - up until then - was great.

I feel like I also didn't connect much to the characters, aside from Tori I didn't feel like any of the characters had much to them and Adam for me was too weak to be a main love interest, he could have done with my emotive writing as opposed to just descriptive. I also feel like the book was just too far fetched for me, like the fact that Tori is this romance guru at sixteen, and the fact that her mother doesn't realise what Tori is really up to. That's just messed up and unbelievable and it stopped me from 100% enjoying this book.

I'm not saying that Perfect Timing was bad - it was fun and it kept me reading and I did for the most part find it good, I just struggled to find it great at any point and that's disappointing because it could have been great.

Book released 1st March
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Seed by Lisa Heathfield


Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.

Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it's too late

I hadn't heard anything about Seed until I requested on impulse from NetGalley, since then  I have seen it pop up in my local bookstores and heard a lot more buzz surrounding it. I still only managed to get around to reading it recently and actually I was surprised. It was a nice little read that didn’t absolutely blow me away or put anything new into the genre but I definitely enjoyed reading Pearl's story.

The story starts out in a way that gripped me, with Pearl getting her firstly monthly bleed and becoming a woman, that means that she can now become the companion of the cult leader Papa S. Pearl is young and innocent and they get no education in Seed, so she doesn't actually know what being Papa S's companion actually means.

Enter Ellis, the obligatory love interest/the guy who comes in and mixes things up. He's from the outside, so he finds the innocent beliefs of those at Seed absolutely hilarious to start with. Then he realises that things are more creepy than they appear and he tries to warn them, but the kids at Seed have been well and truly brainwashed.

The pace of Seed was glacial at times, letting us see tiny bits of Pearl's beliefs changing, Ellis and Pearl's relationship developing and things moving along slowly. That made the ending pretty annoying because that moved super fast and I think it could have been extended a little - no need for the rush.

The events of the end were still great though and really went to prove our thoughts on Seed and Papa S. I wanted a happily ever after, but it was never going to e 100% happy. Still, it ended with hope for Pearl no matter how much heart ache she went through.

Overall, Seed was a great book which followed a pretty typical arc but still managed to keep me interested, despite the slow pace at times. I would definitely read more books by this author.

Book released December 2014 by Booktrope publishing
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katche

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

I am a fandom kind of girl. I am a binge-watching, roleplay-playing, fanfiction-writing nerd. I thought that I would relate to Ana or Zak, I didn't but they were still both absolutely amazing characters. Sure,, Ana as a little uptight and super annoying at the start - I really didn't think that I would start to like her at all but she definietly grew on me. Zak's thought process was so about Ana and it was authentic (Katcher is a guy, it is so rare to find a male writer writing contemporary YA so I loved that) but I did find it difficult to connect with him at the start. That being said, both characters definitely grew on me throughot the book. There was a lot of character growth throughout the book for both of them so I really appreciated that.

Clayton was still my #1 though, he was such a cool kid. I don't think he acted thirteen, more like ten, but it was so fun how he kept avoiding Ana and Zak - little rascal. It was such a fun story and whilst not entirely realistic, with scary vikings and fires and angry fandom people and Zak ending up  with a gun pointed at him. Very mad, very unrealistic but it was so fun.

I'm not sure whether we can class the romance as insta-love because Ana hated Zak at the start, but when they got to the connvention it did develop a bit too quickly for my liking. That being said, this was just one of those easy going, fun, drama-free (mostly) books that the lack of development sort of worked with. Still, I personally would have a like the romance to blossom a little, more than explode.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, it had a few weak points but it was just a really good book for escapism - I really got into the book and it ahd me smiling throughout. A great book for fans of rom-coms like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight mixed in with the quirkiness of John Green.

Book released May 19th 2015 by Katherine Tegan Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review