Review | Sleeper by MacKenzie Cadenhead

Title | Sleeper
Author | MacKenzie Cadenhead
Pages | 336
Series | None
Publisher | Sourcebooks FIRE
Release Date | August 2017
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

Sarah’s dreams are everyone else’s nightmares in this thriller that perfectly combines Inception and Heathers

As a sufferer of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Sarah acts out her dreams. Usually she’s only a danger to herself, but when she almost breaks her best friend’s neck at a sleepover, Sarah becomes a social pariah. Luckily (and stangely), Wes, a guy she’s only seen in her dreams, turns up at school and the two become inseparable.

An experimental drug offers a cure, but she and Wes soon realize that not only are they sharing the same dreams, they can now alter other people’s dreams. It’s clear that this new drug is offering a lot more than just sleep. Will Wes and Sarah choose responsibility…or revenge?

Admittedly, I have not been in the reading state-of-mind since before Christmas now. That’s a whole four months of inactivity and wishful thinking when looking at all the fabulous YA literature that has been released recently. So Sleeper had a lot to live up to in order to bring me out of the reading rut I’ve been in for so long. I must admit, this book was definitely out of my comfort zone. However, the fact I have finished the book – something I have not done for a while – is an achievement on its own. Perhaps I could describe Sleeper as interesting. Yes, let’s start with interesting.

In other words, don’t be an idiot like me.

What I adored about Sleeper was the sheer thrill of the whole story. The wonderful concept of a drug which enhances Sarah’s REM Sleep Behaviour Order was absolutely brilliant – and truly original. Pitched as a combination of Inception and Heathers (both things I haven’t got a bloody clue on), the book was a pleasant retreat away from the modern YA literature based around romantic adolescent adventures. Sleeper is gripping. The first chapter is a hook, and like a fish on a line, you are sold into what is going on. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll understand this is something I adore in literature.

I would also like to shine a line on the tone of the novel. It was an incredibly easy read, and had it not been I probably would have struggled to read it all the way to the end. Despite having no communication with books over the past four months, I kept to my usual time of six to seven hours. There was no difficulty in reading it, making it a perfect read to give to a younger, more mature reader. Sleeper is also incredibly fast-paced. I like that. MacKenzie Cadenhead did not drag out any part of the book, and all chapters were relevant and interesting to read. This is a rare trait to find within a story, as there is so much emphasis on the building up on specific events.

”I mean it, Sarah. This is way better than a sex tape.”

Ah, that wonderful point in my review where I can mention characters. Sarah is ultimately a flawed character. I had a deep sympathy for her at the beginning of the story – partly because she has absolutely no control over her actions or the consequences. But as the story developed and she found power, the consumption turned her into a creature which did sicken me. Her actions were despicable, no matter how much they could be justified. The world would be a horrible place if we lived by the idea of ‘an eye for an eye’. I’m hoping that Ms Cadenhead was going for this affect. Of course, every character in the wrong seeks redemption, but I found it hard to award it considering her foolishness and behaviour.

Wes was a much harder pill to swallow – and yet, was a refreshing addition to the plot. There is a very British swear word I would love to use in describing Wes. But I’m above that, at least orally. The bad vibes were incredibly strong – intention, I know. And while I really, really, didn’t like Wes, it was nice to see the main guy not seen as some kind of hero. His flaws are laid out on the table, and are tackled quite maturely. Hats off Ms Cadenhead!

I want to know the instant he comes back to life. Because sooner or later, he will.

Summarising Sleeper, it was definitely an odd book. It has pulled me from my hangover (both book and physical) and has surprisingly given me a lot to consider. While I still feel quite unsure as to whether this was a book for me, I do still feel it deserves high praise. For its originality, plot and story-telling – as well as all-around fabulous-ness – the book earns a four out of five!

A massive thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of the book!

❤ MacKenzie Cadenhead ❤

MacKenzie Cadenhead was born and raised in New York City, where she mastered her driver’s ed lessons in Chinatown, but somehow never learned to ride a bike. After trying her hand at a number of odd jobs—holiday gift wrapper, tour guide, pizza delivery person—she spat in the face of employability by delivering the one-two punch of a BA in English.

These days she writes children’s books and reads them to her family, most notably her dog, Smudge.

Twitter: @passionchildUK
Instagram: @childishlypassionate

Giveaway | The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler

Hello blogosphere! Long time, no post!

Today I bring you a fabulous giveaway for all my amazing US followers – having teamed up with Sourcebooks Fire, who have recently launched the fabulous The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler, we are bringing you a wonderful giveaway to win yourself a fantastic copy!

The book was an absolutely amazing read, and I hope to get around to writing a review for it at some point. Yet it must be pointed that this book is one with so much relevance in today’s society as it not only a true story, but still a reality for many teens.

branch and berry

For readers of Girl Interrupted and Tweak, Cyndy Etler’s gripping memoir gives readers a glimpse into the harrowing reality of her sixteen months in the notorious “tough love” program the ACLU called “a concentration camp for throwaway kids.”

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”

branch and berry

But don’t just take my word for it – YA author Kathleen Glasgow had this to say about the book :

Mika @ Mxcareyes says “Overall, I like this memoir. I like the courage that Cyndy displayed both on what happened to her and in writing this story, her story.”

The Reading Lodge says “The Dead Inside is thought-provoking, and gripping.”

A Darker Shade of Seelie says “I’m proud of how far this author has come.”

branch and berry


a Rafflecopter giveaway

branch and berry

Cyndy Etler 

At 13, Cyndy was homeless. At 14, she was locked up. At 15, she was suicidal. At 30, she was teaching tough teens at an alternative school.

Today Cyndy is a young adult author. Her YA memoirs are honest and raw, taking readers into the real-life experience of a kid who will do anything to feel accepted.

@cdetler |


Twitter: @passionchildUK
Instagram: @childishlypassionate

Series Review | Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

It’s been a very exciting few years of E.L. James, author of the world sauciest book series. After becoming a household name with her cheeky romance trilogy, the good news just kept coming for the author with the buying of rights to the movie franchise. Whether you love the Fifty Shades of Grey series, you must give your applause to Ms James, as her success has been phenomenal.

I first read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy when I was about fourteen or fifteen years of age. Fair to say that I giggled immaturely at the sex scenes, but the romance story between the billionaire-bachelor Mr Christian Grey and university student Ms Anastasia Steele has been a story that has stuck with me – for all the right reasons.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images

While the books do have their saucy moments (which is completely obvious for an erotic novel, by the way), the raw relationship and emotional roller-coaster the story of Christian and Ana takes you on is something magic. The books are a lot deeper than the simple BDSM story the media love to highlight.

I’m not quite sure what is was that made Fifty Shades of Grey such a hit with the public in the first place, but when I began to read the story, I was immersed into Ana’s world. Sure, the writing style is pretty basic and that is shown throughout the novel, but it doesn’t pretend to be something its not.

It was adorable seeing how Ana could fall for Christian despite his preferences and needs. As the first book establishes the romance, its definitely a necessary read. Yet it is fair to say this is not my favourite Fifty Shades book.

I have no shame in admitting that Fifty Shades Darker is my favourite book out of the whole series. There’s so much more action, so much more romance and it sets the tone perfectly for the third and final instalment (not including the recently released Grey), Fifty Shades Freed.

Again, there is so much more emotion and love put into this story. The twists and turns of the second book had me in plot heaven, because not one bit was predictable.

Which of course, is why I’m SUPER excited for the film release on Friday! The hype around this is massively, and justified in being so. You can check out the trailer just below this writing!

The third and final instalment in the series was just as good as the first two. It’s amazing to see how Ana and Christian still are, despite all the trials and tribulations thrown at them. I refuse to give anything away, so all I’m saying is that the ending is adorable.

Plot | 8 out of 10 | Adorable! A real test of love.
Theme | 5 out of 10 | Erotica isn’t my thing, but romance is!
Characters | 8 out of 10 | Honest but can be annoying.
Romance | 10 out of 10 | Insert heart-eyed emoji here.
Tone and Pace | 4 out of 10 | Quick moving, easy but basic.
Cover Art | 2 out of 10 | Linked to the book, but needs more.

Overall Series Reading | 7 out of 10 | My go-to books when needing to read!

So in a conclusion, I must thank you E.L. James. I can’t wait to see the next movie!


Hi, my name is E L James and I’m the author of Grey and the Fifty Shades Trilogy.  At the moment I’m writing Fifty Shades Darker from Christian’s point of view and I hope to have that published sometime in 2017. We are also completing post-production on Fifty Shades Darker the movie which will be out in February 2017.

goodreads | website
twitter | facebook

Photo Credit: Rob Kim/Getty Images

Series Review | After by Anna Todd

Despite all the hate I often see reviewers giving, I believe it has produced some pretty damn good authors to date. The online writing website has seen the rise of writing legends such as Jordan Lynde, Natasha Preston, Kirsty Moseley and the very fabulous Bella Johnson. And now here I am, introducing the wonderful Anna Todd to you all!

The impeccable writing of the American author touched hundreds of millions of hearts on Wattpad, racking up an amazing four-hundred and eleven MILLION reads* simply on the first novel! This is incredibly amazing for a beginner and highlights the skills and talent Ms Todd possesses. Therefore, I feel it is only fair to introduce you all to the wonderful romantic series that will have you laughing, crying and wanted absolutely more!

The four-part series After follows the romantic story of Tessa and Hardin. The plot to the story was absolutely amazing, and despite the clichéd good-girl meets bad-boy, I could not put the book series down. I adored how I felt the urge to pick up the next book straight after. The pull of the story and the growing need to follow #Hessa right to the end of their journey is something I only rarely see in today’s young adult market. The After series deals with some very sensitive issues, and it is interesting to see how the two protagonists struggle to balance each other and their problems at the same time. Yet Ms Todd deals with the issues incredibly well, giving the story more reality.

As for the writing style of the book, fluid is not the word. The flow of the writing eased you from chapter to chapter, and then from book to book. My disappointment in finishing the series was not due to the way the story ends, but as to the actual ending. A part of me wanted the After adventure to continue forever. But all good things must come to an end. The laid back style of the writing allows anybody to easily focus into the story, and this would make a perfect holiday or light-reading pick!

I only have incredibly high praising for Ms Todd and her work. I expect a great deal from her in the future. She is definitely a one to watch!

* Current total was reviewed on the 04.02.17

The After series was split into four novels, and a fifth including prequel Before.


The first book in to the series, and one that I did have the most of a struggle with. The story is a bit slow getting off the ground, and for those who didn’t enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey, this book may not be your thing – as many have branded it as abusive. (Personally, I think people are being picky.)

Despite the struggle of this story, Tessa and Hardin are absolutely adorable and it is wonderful seeing their relationship develop. With the ending of this book, I knew I had to try the second – SO DON’T GIVE UP ON THIS ONE!

Book rating – 6 out of 10.

After We Collided
The second instalment was much better, and the real depth of the characters began to set in.  The relationship develops so much more and you begin to learn the back stories that have led up to the present.

A strong novel from Todd, this book did sway me to finish the rest of the serious. This was, ultimately, the one that hooked the story for me. So if you do make it to the second book, I doubt you’ll be disappointed 😉

Book rating – 7 out of 10.

After We Fell
From this point on, anything I say runs the risk of spoilers. This isn’t something I want do. What I do expect is that you GO READ THIS! Ms Todd got a lot of controversial reviews on this – a mix of both good and bad.

So go get the series and make up your own mind.

Because mine is set that this series was a brilliant romantic tale between two people who needed each other to invoke a change.

Book rating: 7 out of 10.

After Ever Happy

In concluding this series review, all I can say is that I do adore these stories. They’ll be something I adore re-reading over and over again. In fact, I might go read them again now!

Plot | 7 out of 10 | Cute and romantic!
Theme | 5 out of 10 | Fairly cliche, must admit.
Characters | 8 out of 10 | Deep, but ridiculous at times.
Romance | 9 out of 10 | One word: #Hessa
Tone and Pace | 10 out of 10 | Quick moving, easy read!
Cover Art | 4 out of 10 | Fairly basic…

Overall Series Rating | 7 out of 10 | A great little love story.


Copyright @ Elizabeth Weinberg, NY Times

ANNA TODD is a first-time writer spending her days in the Austin area with her husband, with whom she beat half the statistics by getting married one month after graduating high school. Between her husband’s three deployments to Iraq, she worked odd jobs from a makeup counter to the IRS processing counter. Anna was always an avid reader and boy band and romance lover, so now that she’s found a way to combine the three she’s enjoying living a real-life dream come true.

website | goodreads | twitter | facebook

Series Review | Embassy Row by Ally Carter

Ally Carter: Embassy Row | Book One: All Fall Down | Released February 5, 2015

A brilliant novel including suspense,mystery and a female heroine you can’t help but adore. When I first read this book back in 2015, I knew that Carter was onto a winner. Grace’s introduction into the novel was stellar, and she made a fantastic protagonist. Her struggles and demons that she must encounter during the novel make the story so much more real, so much more deep than ever. It was clear that this was some of Carter’s very best work.

The book gripped you until the shocking ending, where the conclusion left you panting and uneasy. But worse, it left you gagging to read the next instalment – something I’d have to wait a year for! Ally Carter had me hooked from book one, so well done!

Ally Carter: Embassy Row Book Two: See How They Run Released January 14, 2016

As soon as I got my hands on the second novel in the series, i knew that this would outrank The Gallagher Girls and have me hooked for more. Again, the plot had me tied to the book, unable to put it down for hours. I don’t normally read a book in the bath, but i made an exception for this one.

Knowing so much more after reading the first book, the second one seems a lot more hectic and a lot more explosive. The action is absolutely crazy – crazy good of course! I was in heaven reading how Grace was dealing with everything, coming to terms with her life now she knew the truth.

Book two also began my Grace and Alexei romance hunt. Like i woman possessed, I was screaming at the book for the two characters to get to-bloody-gether. They’re an amazing couple no doubt, if not my most favourite book couple ever.

Of course, this being an Ally Carter novel, she has to pull the rug out from under you and make you feel absolutely mad at the fact you have to wait a year (AGAIN) for the next and last instalment. Lemme admit, that the twist at the end of the second book was not something I was expecting. At all.

Ally Carter: Embassy Row Book Three: Take the Key and Lock Her Up Released January 26, 2017

Happy release date to Take the Key and Lock Her Up! My euphoric state to this news is shattered by the fact that this is the FINAL instalment to the series. It’s literally the end of the world. Or the end of Grace and Alexei’s anyway. Of course, I was blessed to read this story and I cannot think of a more perfect way to end the book.

Ally Carter needs to take all my money right now. Not that I have any, but still. This book was the stuff that dreams are made of. It perfectly concluded the story, as well as throwing in a lot of historical context and answers. Grace’s character exploded like a beautiful firework, and I felt like I’d just sent my first-born child off to university.

The novel does not end the way I expect it to end, but I finished the book with a grin and a heavy heart. Out of all the series Carter has written, I would adore this one to be made into a film adaptation. Can Carter out-do herself on her next book series? I sure so, because then she would be one of the greatest YA writers ever.


Plot | 10 out of 10 | Perfectly gripping, haunting and thrilling.
Theme | 10 out of 10 | Secret societies, murder and secrets, yes yes yes!
Characters | 8 out of 10 | Grace was a babe, always and forever.
Romance | 9 out of 10 | Grace and Alexei are romance goals – #adorable!
Tone and Pace | 10 out of 10 | The grown-up, mature approach made me feel great.
Cover Art | 7 out of 10 | Pretty damn fine work there!

Overall Series Rating | 10 out of 10 | They can’t get any better than this!

Blog Tour | The Witch’s Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (+ Guest Post!)

Hello my lovelies! I hope January and the new year has been treating you absolutely fabulously. For me, it’s not been a very great year so far, but lets start by turning that around right now!

A few months ago I reviewed the fabulous The Witch’s Kiss by the even more amazing sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. As a thank you, they sent me a signed paperback of the book, for which I am eternally grateful. Well … now they’re back with an amazing sequel to the first book, and I could not be be more thrilled.

Now I’m thrilled to announce that they are currently blog touring – and the next stop is here!

That’s right! The long-awaited sequel to The Witch’s Kiss is being released and the two authors have written a lovely little post for you guys! I highly advise you to read this series, because while I have little interest in the whole fantasy genre, these books have turned that around for me!

I’d like to give a big shout-out to Andrew @ The Pewter Wolf who kicked off this tour and who I had the pleasure of meeting at an HarperCollins event in London. You can go and read his post here!


Now, over to these wonderful ladies who are here today to discuss:

Witch vs Wizard: gender in magical worlds

One of the things we wanted to do in The Witch’s Tears was to explore in more detail the magical background of Merry’s world; in particular, the relationship between witches and wizards. In the most well-known modern fantasy – Harry Potter – ‘witch’ and ‘wizard’ are simply gendered words used to refer to practitioners of magic. Witches are girls and wizards are boys, but there’s no difference in what they do or how they are taught. However, there are other magical worlds where that isn’t the case.

In Le Morte D’Arthur, for example, Merlin (a wizard) is Arthur’s trusted adviser, even though not all his ideas are especially brilliant. Morgan le Fay, a witch, spends most of her time trying to disrupt Arthur’s court, destroy Guinevere and get Lancelot into bed. Some modern depictions of the King Arthur story have stuck with this contrast.


And she’s cruel to tiny birds too.

Meanwhile, over in Narnia, witches get a similarly bad press compared to wizards. In The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, Coriakin (a wizard and former star) is shown as a wise ruler of the Dufflepuds. Andrew Ketterley (the would-be magician in The Magician’s Nephew) starts the book obnoxious and selfish, but ends up a reformed character. In contrast, the two witches of the Narnian world – Jadis, the White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Lady of the Green Kirtle, from The Silver Chair – are evil through and through.

Shakespeare also seems to prefer wizards. Compare Prospero in The Tempest – devoted father, forgiving brother and educated seeker after the eternal mysteries – to the three witches in Macbeth: ‘secret, black and midnight hags.’

None of this is particularly surprising. There was no female equivalent of John Dee, Elizabeth I’s astrological adviser and researcher into the occult. A small percentage of the victims of the seventeenth century witch hunts were men, but they were put on trial and condemned as witches, not wizards.

So, against this background, the witches and wizards in Merry’s world are not friends. With a few exceptions, witches don’t trust wizards. Wizards look down on witches. And a darker past is hinted at. After all, Merry and the other coven members live in a facsimile of the real world, with all its antagonisms around gender, race and class. Why would magical society be any different? Merry has to deal with two strangers in The Witch’s Tears, both claiming to be wizards, both asking her and Leo to trust them. How does that turn out? You’ll have to read the book….


 If you feel like following the tour and the buzz, head over to – or check them out on Twitter (@lizcorr_writes@katharinecorr)

Review | A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Bernard

Title | A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author | Sara Bernard
Pages | 320 pages
Publisher | Macmillan
Series | None
Release Date | January 12, 2017
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.


So the highly anticipated second novel of Sara Bernard hits all leading booksellers this week, but I’ve had my hands on a copy since November. My thoughts in the time period between then and now however, have not altered. This book was absolutely brilliant. Moving, heartwarming and just a little bit cheesy, the love story of Rhys and Steffi will go down in the history of Childishly Passionate as one of the greatest I’ve ever encountered.

As soon as Sara Bernard’s Beautiful Broken Things was awarded with being one of Zoe Sugg’s ‘Zoella’s Book Club Picks’, it was clear that great things would arise from this author. Perhaps leading the UKYA wave right now, Bernard has delivered with her second novel, A Quiet Kind of Thunder and has succeeded in earning herself on the ‘authors to watch’ list. Here at Childishly Passionate, we live and breathe for the leading UK young adult authors, and Sara Bernard is very clearly one of them.

With a clear and fluid writing tone, you feel as if you’ve stepped into Bedfordshire with Steffi. You’re not watching in on the kindling romance, you’re there – besides Steffi urging her to give her heart to the boy with brown hair. The ability to immerse your readers into your novel is an amazing feat, worthy of praise and award. The pace of the novel could have been quicker, but in retrospect, this would have reduced the reality the novel provides.

There are times when a girl just needs to read a cute romance novel. A Quiet Kind of Thunder fits the bill. However, Bernard put a great deal of effort into highlighting themes that still get labelled negatively in society. Aside from Natasha Preston’s ‘Silence’ and ‘Broken Silence’, I have never come across a book that discusses mutism. The stigma that sits beside the label of ‘mute’ is unjust in society, and quite frankly uncivilised. I adored how A Quiet Kind of Thunder placed a spotlight on the real side of mutism, breaking down those negative ideas and replacing them with the truth. Similarly, the theme of anxiety can lead to certain labels that may be hard for a person to shake. Bernard puts all the myths and ideas to rest with her story, and instead highlights the real struggle that sufferers have to go through. Also, in dealing with the theme of disability, Bernard excelled massively. Rhys was not held back by his inability to hear – a thought that many may have when meeting a deaf person in society. A Quiet Kind of Thunder helps break down these barriers and can be really admiring to read – especially when influential teens read this story.

I don’t think I have anything bad to say about this book. While I wasn’t a massive fan of the beginning of the first book, this one has made me seriously reconsider shelving the first. I think a visit to Beautiful Broken Things is in order.

5 stars