Book Review | Girls With Sharp Sticks

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Girls With Sharp Sticks

Author: Suzanne Young

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 393

Categories: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Suspense

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is a really interesting book and I don’t say that just to say something about it. It’s a book that made me think a lot after I read it, because of the some elements to it (and yes I’m trying not to spoil it 😅).

Philomena “Mena”, and her friends are students at a boarding school called Innovations Academy. They are all very beautiful girls with perfect bodies and looks. Something small like having a scar devalues a girl’s beauty. They attend classes and learn subjects to assimilate into society but they aren’t allowed independent thoughts. Thinking is a bad thing. They aren’t allowed excessive emotions, like regular girls, and take vitamins every night to keep them functioning the way the Academy wants them to.

The further into the story I got, it just made me feel creeped out because the way the men treat these girls is just wrong. And when I say men, I’m talking about their professors, their Guardians, and the administrator, Anton. They threaten, then smile at them, blame them if they don’t “obey”, and then praise them. And then if they really do something bad, they get impulse therapy. Ugh. They are grooming these girls, but for what? Apparently for investors interested in them- but we don’t know what they need them for. It reminded me of The Stepford Wives and when I mentioned the premise of the story to my husband, he said it sounded like Westworld.

One by one the girls start to “wake up” and then we find out what’s really happening at this school. The story kept me interested enough but it is slow going because we keep learning about the girls’ regiment and their life at the Academy. It unfolds like a mystery actually and hardly anything happens outside of the Academy. Mena is a daydreamer, kind of bland, but I see why since she wasn’t woken up yet. She loves her friends very much though – but emotion as well, isn’t something appreciated as a quality for these girls.

The meat of the story is at the end. There is action, a plot twist, questions and some answers but I’m hoping a lot more will be answered in the second book.

If you read the book and feel creeped out, it did its job. The book is supposed to make you uncomfortable like how girls or women feel when boys and men treat females a certain way. The grooming, the abuse, the assault, the constrictions, the expectations and rules placed on these girls is wrong. It is a book for right now with all the issues we are presently dealing with in society.

I wanted the pacing to pick up a bit more because I wanted the girls to start fighting back. Like, enough of this treatment! Let’s kick these guys’ butts already, I was getting so mad. 😤 But I was also getting mad because I was afraid for these girls, they needed help and there seemed to be no one they could turn to. The ending was gripping and it makes me curious as to what will happen in book two. Let’s hope the pacing in book two is quicker and Mena and the girls are equipped with more than just sharp sticks to fight back.

So be a girl to make them proud afraid.”

Girls With Sharp Sticks by. Suzanne Young

Get it here: Amazon

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fierce Female Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl – definitely check out her awesome website.

This Top Ten Tuesday was a free topic about Characters. I had such a hard time picking a topic. 😫 But eventually I ended up with this one to celebrate some of the badass female characters I’ve read throughout the years. I’ve read SO many books over the past thirty years that I chose the ones at the top of my head. Now this list is mostly from YA Books because it’s what I read most of lately. But this is a super short list folks, and not listed in any ranking at all. There are so many fierce female characters that I love and I keep adding to my mental list.

Feyre Archeron from A Court of Roses and Thorns Series. The first chapter where we meet Feyre, I was like, YASS..this is going to be good. She’s starving, hunting her next meal and dealing with family that don’t appreciate her. She’s a survivor and fighter from beginning to end.

Caelaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass Series – Now before ACOTAR there was Throne of Glass. I thought TOG, the first book was just okay. Wasn’t totally in love with it, thought it was a light fantasy read but the sequels after were pretty amazing. Caelaena is a beautiful, fierce assassin.

MacKayla Lane “Mac” from the Darkfever Series. This one is not YA but Adult Urban Fantasy. Years before any Feyre, Caelaena and anyone on this list came along I was obsessed with Mac. On the chase for her sister’s killer, Mac meets enigmatic Jericho Barrons and she gets introduced to the Fae world. I think Mac’s appeal was she was this Barbie girl who loved bright colorful clothing and she gets thrown out of her comfort zone into this world with Fae and Alpha Males. She learns to fight but still keep her love of all things pink. She’s fierce and still a girly girl and there is nothing wrong with that!

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series because she’s like a dream. When I first read this book years ago, it transported me to a magical world with angels and Chimeras and other creatures. Karou was like a unicorn to me with her blue hair, sketching all the time and living in Prague. All of it: the setting, the characters, the wishes, the story was just MAGIC. And Karou was the perfect centerpiece.

Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince Series. I can’t make this list without Miss Jude Duarte! What can I say about Jude? I love her. She isn’t charming, she’s flawed, she’s bold and brave too. I like how committed she is to her task no matter what happens, she is cold as ice sometimes! She’s smart and fierce and I’m addicted to her and Cardan!

Allison Sekemoto from The Immortal Rules Series. Some characters just stay with you and in a time when vampire stories were about dying out in popularity, Julie Kagawa published this book. This story blew me away – it was a vampire dystopian story and Allison Sekemoto wasn’t only an Asian character I could fangirl about, but she carried a Katana. I mean…YES, please! She’s an Asian vampire who is gritty, snarky, means business and oh so fierce.

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series. The series that started my love of young adult dystopian novels. Katniss had a unique name, so I already knew she was going to be special. How can you not love a character who will take her sister’s place in an event where most people don’t survive? She’s a survivor until the very end.

Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy Series. Speaking of vampire stories, I was obsessed with the Vampire Academy series! Rose isn’t a full vampire, which was nice – she’s a Guardian, basically a bodyguard for vampire royalty. She got some butt kicking skills, and it helps to be trained by a hottie, right? 😅 Rose is fun, brave and totally fierce.

Tea from The Bone Witch Series because a necromancer like her has to be mentioned as a fierce character. And yes she had the power to raise the dead and bond with scary creatures but what was super fierce about her was her love for her brother. Even just thinking about it breaks my damn heart. UGH. 😭💔

Roselle St. Sismode from Secondborn Series rounds up this list. What a fighter in this sci-fi/fantasy world. I love her and though she’s a badass with a fusion blade, she suffered from anxiety as well. Killing and seeing death is traumatic and I liked that she shows vulnerability because we all break down sometime, right? But no matter how many times she gets beaten down she gets back up and keeps fighting.

And that’s my list *whew* that was hard! I love so many characters!

Have you read any of these series? What fierce female characters do you love? Leave me comment below!

Friday Five: 5 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Book Series – I Read On Kindle Unlimited

I’ve been meaning to do some fun Top 5 or Top 10 list post and sometimes I just don’t have the time! How do you awesome bloggers do it? 😘

So Kindle Unlimited – let’s talk about it. For a monthly subscription you get to read unlimited books in the Kindle library. When I had no kids, I bought books like crazy! When we moved into a small house, I had to donate my books, keeping only a few. When I had kids, and a bigger mortgage – I had to be on a budget! Thank goodness for libraries!

I tried out Kindle Unlimited because of one author, Christi Caldwell. I was looking for new romance authors because it was my favorite genre but I was having a hard time finding ones that appealed to me. I read one of her books and wanted more so I got a subscription. But because it’s a monthly subscription, there were times I was in a reading rut trying to find something good there – and cancelled. I joined again, cancelled and joined again! 😅 Then I tried some of the fantasy ebooks…and I’ve had a steady subscription since. So here are my 5 fantasy/sci fi (mostly fantasy) book series I’ve found on Kindle Unlimited that I’ve enjoyed so far!

The Spoken Mage Series by. Melanie Cellier

This series is pretty good. I enjoyed seeing Elena, the spoken mage, learn, grow and fall in love. My favorite thing though is the friendships she’s made along the way. I’m going to be finishing up the series soon, so hopefully it ends on a good note.

The Tainted Accords Series by. Kelly St. Clare

I read this series last year and really enjoyed it! I was transported to a fascinating fantasy world. Princess Olina has worn a veil over her face since her infancy and watching her transform from a girl with a veil to one without is pretty awesome.

Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles by. Elise Kova

I should feature the Air Awakens series but honestly it’s been four years since I’ve read it. So instead I’ll talk about Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles, the re-entry into Elise Kova’s fantasy world filled with magic and political intrigue. I’ve only read book one, and will get to book two eventually when I get this TBR list down a little. 😅

The Culling Trials by. K.F. Breene & Shannon Mayer

These academy books always get me! I’m serious! Haha – but this series is very addicting. I’m in the middle of book three right now and can’t wait to see how it ends. Sometimes these indie book are so short, they could have mashed these three books to make one book! But I don’t mind the short wait between the books. In this series we have a very strong female character who is surrounded by vampires, necromancer, goblins, magic users and assassins. It’s so fast pace and fun! It’s a wild adventure throughout the whole series. Speaking of “Wild” that’s our character’s nickname and I can see why! Loving this series so far!

Secondborn Series by Amy A. Bartol

I am not a big sci-fi fan. Actually this was the series that got me saying, oh, okay maybe I like sci-fi, maybe… I love Amy A. Bartol’s stories because they are creative even if they go off a bit tangent and wild, there is something about them that is addictive. Secondborn is cool, Traitor Born is my favorite and Rebel Born – though I gave it 4 1/2 stars because the romance part came together the way I wanted and I’m obsessed with Reykin haha, this book goes almost into another dimension diving into sci-fi/mythology/fantasy it made my head spin. It works for some people and others hated. I actually understood what the author was trying to do – but there was a lot of info dump about parallel universes, mind control and then add the mythology…it’s a whirlwind. It would have played out better if we had hints of these things in book one and two for sure! I still love it though. 😬

Have you read any of these books? Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Reading! 😘