Review: Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson

Book Title: Placebo Junkies
Author: J. C. Carleson
Published Date: October 27th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Going Bovine meets Trainspotting in this gritty portrait of at-risk teens gaming the prescription drug trial system.

Meet Audie: Professional lab rat. Guinea pig. Serial human test subject. For Audie and her friends, “volunteering” for pharmaceutical drug trials means a quick fix and easy cash.

Sure, there’s the occasional nasty side effect, but Audie’s got things under control. If Monday’s pill causes a rash, Tuesday’s ointment usually clears it right up. Wednesday’s injection soothes the sting from Tuesday’s “cure,” and Thursday’s procedure makes her forget all about Wednesday’s headache. By the time Friday rolls around, there’s plenty of cash in hand and perhaps even a slot in a government-funded psilocybin study, because WEEKEND!

But the best fix of all is her boyfriend, Dylan, whose terminal illness just makes them even more compatible. He’s turning eighteen soon, so Audie is saving up to make it an unforgettable birthday. That means more drug trials than ever before, but Dylan is worth it.

No pain, no gain, Audie tells herself as the pills wear away at her body and mind. No pain, no gain, she repeats as her grip on reality starts to slide….

Raw and irreverent, Placebo Junkies will captivate readers until the very end, when author J. C. Carleson leans in for a final twist of the knife.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This one looked interesting from the moment I saw it on Goodreads. I requested it and totally forgot about it. So when I got the approval email, all I felt was nerves. I wanted this book to be awesome and I was so worried that all the hype I had built up for it was going to be unwarranted.

I loved, LOVED this book. It was an insane mind-fuck that had me questioning the entire book and wanting to know exactly what was going on. It took me a long time to realize that things weren’t as they seemed. Maybe I should have picked up on that sooner. Oooops. It was a book that has been flying under the radar, but it’s a book that all YA Thriller enthusiasts should read.

It’s been a long time since I loved a protagonist like Audie. She was hilariously funny, un-apologetically blunt and through it all, it was clear she had a good heart. She wanted so badly to make memories for her terminally ill boyfriend, Dylan.

Audie even writes a blog, trying to help other people who are just stepping into this guinea pig thing. Her blog entries are insanely funny, and as someone who has a long history with pharmacies, hospitals and doctors, I found myself laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

She was good to her roommates, Jameson & Charlotte. Especially Charlotte. Charlotte didn’t talk about her life before. She kept herself very guarded, not trusting many people, and especially not trusting men. It was hard for Audie to see that because she had such a loving relationship with Dylan. She couldn’t understand why Charlotte didn’t like him.

“Because of the life she’s had, she just has no concept of genuine un-fucked up love.”

As the book continues, things go from bad to worse. Audie starts losing chunks of time. Her memories start to become cloudy and she struggles with knowing what’s real and what isn’t. She doesn’t want to bother Dylan about this because his life, unlike hers, has been normal. She keeps what she’s doing to herself, just like she keeps her past to herself. She doesn’t want to burden Dylan with why she’s not in school, why she’s got no family around.

“Sometimes people cause themselves harm just to prove to themselves, and perhaps the rest of the world, that they can.”

I found The Professor to be very interesting. I am still unsure as to what his actual position in the story was, but I kept thinking that he had to be central to the story. He had to be around for a reason. I do wish we had seen more of him though.

“It’s more like a feeling of being simultaneously dead and alive, like a furless version of Shrodinger’s cat.”

Audie’s descriptions of her feelings while on the various drugs were really awesome, and surprisingly funny.

Things just got crazier and crazier as the book continued. I started to question so many things about the drugs, and about the characters in this book. I started to realize that something was off. Aside from the morally decrepit Audie. I felt like I was missing something. Something was going to smack me in the face.

“Because the truth is whatever you say it is.”

This book surprised me in the best way possible. I hadn’t heard much about it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with it. But I loved it. I love mind-fuckery and having them in books only make me happier. This book was awesome and I highly, highly recommend it to people who love YA Thrillers because that’s exactly what this one was. I am giving this one 5 stars.

Stacking The Shelves #83

581bc-stsThis feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Well, this is what happens when I move this feature to once a month and in that month Harper does multiple e-galley drops onto Edelweiss.

I end up with just about 50 books.

Granted, not all of them were review books, but 27 of them were. 23 from Edelweiss, 4 from NetGalley, I got an e-galley of a book for a blog tour, I got an e-galley of a book for an upcoming Sunday Street Team event. 12 were library books. I bought 5 books. One was a trade & three were from my Secret Sister.

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone #1) by Elle Cosimano
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Received for Review

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray
Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Flamecaster (The Shattered Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers
The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire #1) by C. J. Redwine
Harmony House by Nic Sheff
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen #2) by Jodi Meadows
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr (No cover yet)
The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan
Other Broken Things by Christa Desir
Consent by Nancy Ohlin
Shade Me (Nikki Kill #1) by Jennifer Brown
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang
Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
Placebo Junkies by J. C. Carleson

Blog Tour

The Body Institute by Carol Riggs

Sunday Street Team
Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
When We Wake (When We Wake #1) by Karen Healey
When We Run (When We Wake #2) by Karen Healey
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Joyride by Anna Banks
Return to the Dark House (Welcome to the Dark House #2) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea by Johnathan David Kranz
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Accident Season by Maria Fowley Doyle
Rebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics #1) by Shanna Swendson
Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) by Tamara Ireland Stone

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols
Eve (Eve #1) by Anna Carey

Received via trade
The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1)

Thank you to everyone who helped make this haul so big. If you’ve read any of these books or if you plan to, please let me know.

Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Published Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change—starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

It was no secret that I was insanely excited for this book. I had repeatedly told fellow bloggers that it was one of my most anticipated fall reads. I was super nervous about reading it. I really didn’t want it to let me down.

Thankfully it didn’t.

This book blew me away in the best possible way. I finished the book totally and completely in love with it. It’s been awhile since I fell this hard for a book. It’s unlike a book I’ve ever read before.

I love books about illnesses and I’ve always been fascinated by Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease. So as soon as I saw this book up on NetGalley, I KNEW I had to request it. When I got the email that my request was approved, I kinda screamed a little bit. Okay maybe more than just a little bit.

I read it last week and finished it in basically a day. I devoured it at rapid speed. I cannot say enough about Madeline and Olly’s romance. It was perfect, shippy and all kinds of adorable. God, I loooooved watching them fall in love. It was so much fun to watch/read. Now theirs is the kind of love I can root for.

Sweet, sweet Olly had a crappy home life and I’m happy about how that was handled. I wanted to hug Olly so much during certain parts of the book.

I feel like Maddy’s nurse, Carla is going to be overlooked, but she was really awesome. She was there for Maddy when she needed someone. She knew how Maddy felt about Olly even before Maddy realized it herself. Carla really was Maddy’s best friend and I loved Carla for how wonderful she was to Maddy.

There is a twist in this book, and it’s one I never in a million years saw coming. If you’ve read it, I’d love to know if you saw it coming. It made this book even more amazing to me.

Needless to say, I loved this book. I’ll be giving this book the full five stars. It was amazing, and I absolutely loved it. It is firmly on my favorites list for 2015. I’m thrilled that this book lived up to the hype.

Stacking the Shelves #78

 This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and it’s a way to show what we’ve added to our shelves recently.

Wow, this is my first official Stacking the Shelves post from my new home. Well, new home as in, the blog is now on WordPress, but you all know I’ve been blogging for 2 years.

This week, I added one book that I preordered and 2 books I got from the library that I’ve been excited about (Already read & reviewed Saint Anything!)

I added two books from Edelweiss & one book from NetGalley.

I also got one of my favorite books from 2014 from my Secret Sister.

Received for Review
Stacking the Shelves #78 CBTM
Underneath Everything by Mary Beller Paul
Come Back to Me by Mila Gray

Stacking the Shelves #78

No Such Person by Caroline B. Cooney


Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan


The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Stacking the Shelves #68

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.
This week was a light week for me. I added three books to my shelves and they were books I won from a giveaway. Super excited about all three of these books and since they are May releases, I hope to have reviews up for them soon. I also added one review book to the pile. Thankfully it’s a July release so I won’t read it for awhile.
I’ve been reading a lot quicker this week, and I think I can safely say that my reading slump is over. Thank goodness!
Check out what I added to my shelves this week.
Received for Review

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

NIL Unlocked (NIL #2) by Lynne Matson
The Fill In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Heat of the Moment (Moment of Truth #1) by Lauren Barnholdt

I hope everyone has an awesome week!

Review: A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

Book Title: A Matter of Heart
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Published Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by a fellow blogger.

My feelings about this book are really complex because I’ve had heart problems since birth and so I’ve always known I would never be able to do competitive sports or allow my heart rate to go too high with exertion. 

For Abby it’s different. She’s been the picture of health since she was born and now, out of nowhere, she has developed a potentially fatal heart condition called Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM. So she definitely struggles with the diagnosis. She struggles with the knowledge that she will not be able to compete at the level she has always competed at. She struggles with the fact that a medication called a beta-blocker must be taken every day to keep her heart rate low.

I know several people had issues with how she handled things and how much she fought her own body. I totally understood it though. She longed to control something that was out of her control. At one point, she chooses to stop taking her medication. That was her way of attempting to assert control over the situation. About ten years ago I began having issues with abnormal heart rhythms and had to stop drinking coffee and eating chocolate and that was tough on me. 

Eventually my cardiac team and I realized that my chocolate & coffee consumption did not effect my arrhythmias & that I was still having arrhythmias even when I was not drinking coffee or eating chocolate. I decided to make my own choice in the matter and I felt like it wasn’t a big deal for me to eat chocolate & have coffee. Should Abby have stopped taking her medications? Of course not, but as a teenager who once wanted nothing more than to be normal, I sympathized with her. 

Even when she makes the decision to keep swimming at a competitive level despite her doctors warnings, I understood. She didn’t want to quit. She didn’t want to be a failure and she was scared that if she did quit, she would be a failure to her coach and to her father. Her father was the one she was really scared of letting down, and her father wasn’t ready for the dream to be over. I do think her father realized his mistakes by the time the book ended though. He knew he needed to stop pushing her or the worst would happen.

I was so thankful that she had Jen. Jen was her best friend and she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. As teenagers, friends become more important & influential than parents. I hoped that Jen would be Abby’s voice of reason. Keeping friendships when you have what is often considered an “invisible illness” is so important and often overlooked.

I wanted to string Connor up on a tree. He was beyond repair and I found myself so angry with him. He basically showed that he was terrified of Abby’s heart condition and that was painful to read because I’ve been interested in guys who pretty much wouldn’t touch me when they found out about my heart. So I was pissed that he was too afraid to kiss her or be intimate with her at any level. 

I was relieved when that relationship ended because I loved Alec. He was concerned about Abby and Abby’s heart, but he wasn’t afraid to kiss her. He wasn’t afraid of her illness which really made me happy. Alec had his own stressors that centered around swimming just like Abby. He’s got a great sense of humor which was something I didn’t really see in Connor.

“I’ve always had a thing for girls on beta-blockers.”

Alec also reminds Abby of something else. The simple fact that swimming wasn’t always about winning. As children, swimming had been something they had done for fun. Abby still had a chance to remember that and to help the younger kids that she coached, remember that as well. She tells Alec of something she experienced during a near death episode, something that I wasn’t sure she’d ever express.

“Alec, listen to me. When I woke up in the gravel, I though of everything that I’d nearly lost. Everything that mattered. And I never once thought about a medal or the shelf or even a swimming pool. I thought about my parents and Jen. I thought about you.”

I didn’t realize how much of an impact this book had on me until I started writing the review. I think it was a really good book, and I think a big part of me liking it was that I understood where Abby was coming from. I too am very competitive and I cannot say I wouldn’t have done the same thing she did if I got the same diagnosis at her age. Her choices were questionable, but unless you’ve been in a similar position you will not understand her reasons for making these choices. I will be giving it 4 stars, and I will likely pick up a finished copy of this book.

Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Book Title: Denton Little’s Deathdate
Author: Lance Rubin
Published Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been morbidly curious about death. I gotta say that if I got to find out when I was going to die, I’d be relieved. I mean as of right now, we don’t know when our time will come. So, in that way, I was envious of everyone living in Denton’s world. They all knew when they’d die.
The beginning of the story started off really interesting. We meet Denton the day before his deathday where he will attend his funeral and then the sitting, where everyone basically sits around and waits for the person to keel over.
Quickly, we realize that there’s a lot of drama going on. Apparently Denton had sex the night before, for the first time. That in itself isn’t drama filled, but the fact that it was with his best friend’s sister is. Denton’s been dating the same girl for awhile, but she isn’t the one he had sex with. So there ya go, typical teenage drama right from the start.
Denton is quirky and unique, but as the book goes on, things continue to go from just odd, to absolutely outrageous, and inconceivable. Normally reading books about how shit hits the fan unexpectedly is at least mildly interesting to me. But this time it was just too much and too fast. I barely got over one surprise in the book before another one showed up. 
I liked Denton, his girlfriend and his best friend, they were usually pretty funny, and to be honest, they saved the book for me. The other characters felt very flat to me, which really bummed me out because that tells me the author didn’t flesh them out enough.
The pacing was very uneven. Sometimes things would be going at a decent pace and then shit would hit the fan and it would speed up, only to slow back down a chapter or two later. I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, but I was overall very indifferent to it. So I’m going to give this book 3 stars. I’m not sure I’d recommend this book.

Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Title: All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published Date: January 6th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I was so, so excited for this book. I loved the synopsis and was so confident that this book would be a new favorite of mine. I hate to admit it, but I was wrong. I think I was hit by the hype-monster and unfortunately this book didn’t work for me.

I love well developed and interesting characters, but neither Violet or Finch was very interesting to me. I didn’t care for either of them all that much. They weren’t awful characters necessarily, but they definitely should have been developed more extensively. To me, it didn’t feel like the author took the time to delve into their characters. We know them on one level, but I truly feel like every character could be like an onion and if developed well, the readers can see that as they are reading.

Normally I don’t mind dual POVs, but in this case, they didn’t work for me. I couldn’t differentiate the different characters. Both Violet & Finch’s voices sounded very similar, which really bugged me. To do a dual POV well, the characters voices have to be different and they cannot sound the same or else it doesn’t seem realistic.

Now, I did enjoy the writing. It was very pretty, and the writing was the main reason I even stuck with the book. I don’t know how to describe the writing. Saying it was pretty doesn’t seem like enough. 

 I was hoping the book would improve for me and I’d fall in love with it like everyone else has.It kills me to say that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I didn’t. In a book like this, characters are so important and when they aren’t developed well, that generally ruins a book for me. Unfortunately, I have to give this book 2 stars. It just wasn’t for me. Lots of other people have loved it, so I would still recommend it. Maybe you will love it.

Stacking the Shelves #61

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Hi guys! Finally getting things back together on the blog. It’s been a rough month or so but I think I’m finally on my way back up.
This week was hopefully going to be the week of small hauls. But it wasn’t. I got 6 books for review, and then I picked up six at the library. Now some of these I had checked out from the library previously, but didn’t get to them in time before they had to go back. Hopefully I have better luck this time around.
Let’s see what landed on my shelves this week.
Received for Review


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

Finding Paris by Joy Preble

-From Publisher-
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter
The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1) by Michelle Madow
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Something Real by Heather Demetrios
The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
As always be sure to let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you are planning to. Also, leave me the links to your book haul posts or vlogs.

Stacking the Shelves #58

This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews
I didn’t have anything to show you guys last week, which worked out because my computer unexpectedly died on me last week as well. This week, I got some good books and I’m super excited to show them off to you guys. I got two books from NetGalley, picked up 3 books from the library & I had won a book from the ladies of Epic Reads.
Received for Review

For Real by Alison Cherry
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Astray (Gated #2) by Amy Christine Parker
The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (The Girl of Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Guys, let me know if you’ve read any of these or if it’s on your TBR. If you did a book haul post this week, leave the link in the comments so I can stop by. Have a great week, everyone!