DNF Review: Placebo Junkies by J.C. Carleson

Placebo JunkiesAuthor:  J.C. Carleson

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

304 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers for letting me read this!

Unfortunately, I had to DNF Placebo Junkies. After a few days of not reading it, I had no desire to pick it back up. It’s not that the book isn’t good, because the concept is super interesting, but I didn’t care about any of the characters. I don’t think pitching the book as being similar to Trainspotting was a good idea either – possibly because that’s such a classic or because it just didn’t feel like that book to me. Placebo Junkies was confusing. I do think there will be some people who like this one, but I’m just not one of them. The book felt like it tried too hard in parts, and I didn’t relate to Audie nor any of her other lab rat friends. A lot of what I read also felt really unrealistic.

The bottom line: Not for me at all, but I wouldn’t rule it out if it sounds interesting to you.

Blog Tour | Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew & Giveaway

Hi, guys! Today I’m super excited to be hosting Sheila Agnew, author of Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan for an interview and guest post as part of the Evie Brooks Blog Tour. Check out my interview with Sheila and her guest post about her love of travel and then enter to win a hardback copy of the book (US only – sorry!!). But first:


Pajama Press / March 3, 2014 / 219 pages

Evie Brooks is Marooned in ManhattanAfter Evie Brooks’ mother dies, her American uncle Scott, whom Evie barely remembers, arrives in Dublin. Much to Evie’s dismay, she’ll have to go and live with Scott in New York City.

Having never owned a pet more substantial than a goldfish, Evie is intrigued by her uncle’s NYC veterinary practice. Scott engages Evie as an assistant in the clinic. Thus begins a series of light-hearted adventures with lovable animals and their sometimes lovable owners.

At the end of the summer, Evie has to make the choice of whether or not to return to live in Ireland with her godmother, Janet…


Describe yourself in 3 words.
Funny. Serious. Compassionate.

Describe your book (or the series) in 3 words.
Funny. Serious. Compassionate.

What is the best memory from your journey to becoming an author?During a school visit a boy told me that he wanted to be a writer but that his teacher said that he wasn’t good at English. I told him how Roald Dahl’s teacher said that his writing efforts reminded him of “a camel.” The boy asked, “Did the camel have one hump or two?” I thought that was hilarious and I think that he definitely has the imagination to be a writer!

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I get an idea for one scene and I just run with it. I don’t normally outline except I had to do an outline for the second Evie book under my contract. So I sat down one Sunday and wrote an outline of about twenty pages detailing every chapter. The publishers were basically like, umm, thanks but we didn’t need anything like this much detail. I never looked at the outline again. I should pull it up someday and see if the book as written actually resembled the outline.

As I know you’ve traveled extensively, what’s your favorite place in the world?
Ireland. It took Dorothy a whole book to realize that there’s no place like home.

Have you ever worked in a veterinary clinic? What made you choose that as Uncle Scott’s profession?
No. But I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with animals especially horses. I just love the presence and smell and feel of horses. It gives me that “all’s well with the world” feeling. And I got my dog, Ben, ten years ago. I just threw him straight into the Evie books exactly as he is. He’s the only non-fictional character.  I knew straight away that Scott had to be a vet because I wanted the animals to help Evie deal with the loss of her mother. Animals have so much to teach us. And there’s a lot of scope for humor!

Who’s your favorite fictional character?
That’s a really tough one. When I was a child, I loved the book, “I am David” by Anne Holm. It is about a twelve-year-old boy who escapes from a concentration camp and travels through Europe looking for his mother. I still think that David is one of the most beautiful souls ever written. But I think I’d prefer to have dinner with Oscar Wilde’s characters.


As a seven-year-old, I was already a highly experienced traveller because I’d gone all the way to Narnia and back six times. C.S. Lewis’s chronicles of Narnia will always remain irreplaceable in my affections. One of the great joys of reading is the ability to travel not just everywhere in this world, but to other worlds as well. I think that readers are born travellers (and time travellers too.)

My writing has been greatly influenced by my travel experiences. Sometimes I’ve found a detail or a character for a story, and other times, the story itself. My books were conceived in far-flung lands . . . and much closer to home. About five years ago, I went to live in an isolated cabin in the woods in Connecticut for a couple of months. One afternoon while I was reading out on the deck, my dog, who had been sleeping inside, flung himself through a hole in the mosquito screen, barking so furiously at something behind me that white foam dripped from his mouth. I turned around. A few feet away stood an enormous black bear. I will never forget my prehistoric, cave girl fear in that moment; a deep primal fear of being eaten alive.

I have no idea how long I stood there, staring at the bear staring at me. At some point, I got it together, grabbed my dog, rushed us both inside and locked the door. Then I remembered that the other door to the cabin was open. I ran around like a lunatic and locked that door as well. Through the window, I watched the bear, now on all fours, circling the cabin. I grabbed my iPad, and googled, “Bear outside cabin, what should I do???”

Google told me to call my local police station. I reached a rather apathetic member of the force called Mary.

“There’s nothing we can do,” she said.

“There must be something you can do,” I wailed. “I can’t stay here for the rest of my life waiting for the bear to look elsewhere for a snack.”

“Oh,” she said in an interested tone, “is the bear attacking you right now because if he is, I can send a patrol car.”

Was Mary insane or was she being sarcastic? I wondered. I still don’t know. What I do know is that I made the episode a chapter in the second Evie book, Evie Brooks in Central Park Showdown. I barely had to change a thing.

One of my favorite places in the world is Argentina. From the second I arrived at the airport in Buenos Aries in 2011, I felt a strong sense of being at home. It’s funny how we often travel to try to find a place that feels like home. I spent almost as much time in Chile as I did in Argentina. And yet, while I appreciated Chile and its people very much, it wasn’t the same feeling. Even if I lived in Chile for a thousand years, we would never be in love. Whereas, for me and Buenos Aires, I guess it was love at first landing.

I’m very grateful for my experiences in South and Central America and in The Dominican Republic. Without those, I doubt if I would have had the confidence to write my YA thriller, The Exclusion Wars, which is narrated by Mateo, a fourteen-year-old Latino in hiding in New York in the year 2025.

SheilaHeadshotTravel hasn’t always lived up to my expectations. Between college and law school, I spent a few months working in Grand Cayman. I had responded to an advert for a job in “the British West Indies.” I thought that sounded so exotic and glamorous and mysterious. To my disappointment, Grand Cayman was none of those things. But I did have fun and enjoyed making new friends.

I think that we have to try and take as many travel chances as we can. Sometimes that means reading in a genre outside our comfort zones, a new potential world to explore. Maybe we will fall in love, maybe not. But it’s nearly always very interesting!

Thanks very much for having me on your blog.  Please visit me on the Web any time. http://sheila-agnew.com


Click on the link below to be taken to Rafflecopter and enter the giveaway. It will run from December 9 – December 22 at midnight. US only. One winner will receive a copy of Evie Brooks is Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew.


Check out the other stops on the tour:
Review, interview, and giveaway at Geo Librarian
Guest post at The Roarbots

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

I’ve decided to exclude 2015 debut authors for this list because they’d make up more than half of it. I’m going with authors who’ve written several books, but I read them for the first time this year. Titles either linked to my review or to Goodreads.

Kirsty Logan
What I’ve read: The Gracekeepers | A Portable Shelter | The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales

Marissa Meyer
What I’ve read: Cinder | Scarlet | Cress | Fairest | Currently reading: Winter

Andrew Smith
What I’ve read: The Alex Crow | 100 Sideways Miles

Sarah J. Maas
What I’ve read: Throne of Glass | A Court of Thorns and Roses

William Ritter
What I’ve read: Jackaby | Beastly Bones

Holly Black
What I’ve read: Doll Bones | The Darkest Part of the Forest | The Iron Trial

Emily Winfield Martin
What I’ve read: The Wonderful Things You’ll Be | Dream Animals | Day Dreamers

Authors who’ve written more than one book, but I’ve only read one SO FAR

Leigh Bardugo
What I’ve read: Shadow and Bone

V.E. Schwab
What I’ve read: A Darker Shade of Magic

Jandy Nelson
What I’ve read: I’ll Give You the Sun

What new-to-you authors did you read this year?

ARC Review: The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

The Trouble with DestinyAuthor:  Lauren Morrill

Genre: Young adult, contemporary

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: December 8, 2015

272 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Delacorte Press for letting me read this!

This is a hard one to review. It’s cute – for sure. But is it original? No. It’s pretty much got every stereotype in it – from the love triangle to the evil-cheerleader-ex-best-friend to the drama fueled fight with her current best friend. It was rather predictable since I guessed how everything was going to turn out from pretty much the first page. Liza, the MC, isn’t really likable because she’s pretty judge-y and high-strung. The book is kind of…generic? I hate to use that word, but it was.

However, don’t get me wrong – there are A LOT of teen girls I know who would be gaga over The Trouble with Destiny. It’s got the romantic setting and the cute boys and the drama. Maybe I’m just a bit too old for this one. It was still an okay read. My main issue with the romance isn’t even the love triangle – even though it’s not quite your typical love triangle. It was the fact that it took so long for the romance to play out. I won’t give too many details that might spoil it, but you kind of just wanted to slap Liza in the face and yell, “OMG. Come ON!” I wanted some more swoony moments between Liza and the boy.

I did really enjoy the musical aspect of the book though. I was in band for a couple of years and then I transitioned to color guard, so I could really relate to those scenes. I think the author did a great job of bringing those scenes to life while not getting overly technical – it’s hard to represent music well in books because it can be difficult to picture and hear, but the scenes when the band is playing had me bobbing along – especially since my band actually did a Pirates of the Caribbean theme one year.

The bottom line: A fast, fun contemporary that read a little young for me – maybe I’m getting old when it comes to cutesy books. But I enjoyed the musical side of the book and when the romance finally did play out, I was definitely grinning. I still liked this reading this one overall.

Rating: 6 – good, but not great

Cold Weather Happiness #5: Look forward

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

Sometimes it’s okay to struggle

You might’ve noticed the missing Cold Weather Happiness posts from the past two weeks. You also might’ve noticed that I’ve been a little MIA on the blog for the past week or so. I posted a TTT and WoW, but those were both scheduled a couple of weeks ago.

What I’m trying to say is that I have had a really hard week this week. I’ve been really struggling to find things that make me happy. Honestly, I’m even struggling to write this post. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I want to say anything.

So what I’m going to do is share some of the things I’m really looking forward to that are coming up soon:

  • December 7 (TOMORROW!) – I’m going to see Eddie Izzard perform in Meridian, MS. A perfect way to inject some humor into my life and get me smiling.
  • December 9 (WEDNESDAY!) – I’m going to Nashville with someone I love to be around to see Eric Hutchinson live for the second time. Road trip with one of the people that’s guaranteed to make me smile and some live music are surefire ways to make me feel good.
  • December 20 – Skype time with one of my best friends, Jo! She is pretty much the one person who gets me without me actually having to say anything. She always makes me feel better – pretty much just by us having a conversation.
  • December 24-27 – I have four days off for Christmas! Plus I finally get my Erin Condren planner so I can start planning a better 2016.

I’m sorry I don’t have more to say right now, but I’m working on it. I love this blog, and I’m going to use it to find my passion again. If I don’t respond to your comments right away, know that I will – it might just take me a day or two longer than normal.

I think what I mean by this post is that I’m telling myself it’s okay to struggle as long as you keep fighting and keep looking forward. And I am. Trust me.

Waiting on Wednesday: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Bookishly Ever AfterPublisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

Author: Isabel Bandeira

Release date: January 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Why I’m excited: IT’S A BOOK ABOUT ALL OF US BOOK NERDS. WHAT ELSE COULD I WANT? I mean, seriously, a book about a girl who loves books. HELLO. Phoebe sounds like all of us, and I cannot wait to read this book. Plus, Phoebe is channeling her favorite YA heroines, which, honestly, isn’t that what we all do every day? I mean, I do. Can’t wait!

Top Ten Tuesday: Debut Novels from the Beginning of 2016 I’m Looking Forward to

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten 2016 Debuts Novels We Are Looking Forward To

UGH. Could this topic BE any harder? Seriously, I already have 72 books on my 2016 releases shelf on Goodreads, and most of those are from the first half of the year! But I’ll try. I’m not including one of my most anticipated 2016 debuts because I’ve already read it, but I want to mention THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner, because you should ALL add it to your TBR. It’s fantastic.

So this was way too hard to narrow down for the whole year, so I’ve limited it to ten books from the first four months of 2016 – January to April. They are in publication date order. All titles linked to Goodreads so you can add them to your TBR too!

Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira // PUB DATE: January 12

The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry // PUB DATE: January 26

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto // PUB DATE: February 2

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin // PUB DATE: February 2

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman // PUB DATE: February 9

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig // PUB DATE: February 16

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor // PUB DATE: March 1

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton // PUB DATE: March 8

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter // PUB DATE: March 15

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw // PUB DATE: April 19

Are you looking forward to any of these debuts? Any I should add to my TBR?