Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

Blog Tour: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

I’m lucky enough to be included as a stop on the blog tour for Courtney Summer’s new novel, All the Rage!  Thanks for stopping by!  You’ll find a brief interview with the wickedly talented author below AND a giveaway!  This novel really tackles some hard hitting topics, and it couldn’t have come at a better time in the midst of rape-culture debates and protests.  Thank you to Courtney Summers for this novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK

alltherageThe sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact.

Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won’t now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm.

Visit Courtney’s Social Media:
Website|Tumblr|Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

INTERVIEW

1. What made you want to write a novel with such heavy subject matter? 

All of my books explore heavier subjects and All the Rage is no exception, but I think it’s my heaviest novel yet. I wrote it as a response to rape culture, victim-blaming and the way we fail victims and survivors of sexual violence. I wanted it to be part of that larger discussion about rape culture, because if we don’t talk about these things, they don’t change.

2. Was this story inspired by any specific news story?

No, it wasn’t inspired by a specific news story.

3. What would be your advice to girls struggling with deciding whether or not to speak up? 

I think it’s always important to realize speaking up can be complicated and that the circumstances surrounding the girls struggling with this decision will be unique to them—not everyone has access to the same resources. That’s why foundations like RAINN, https://www.rainn.org, are so important. They offer confidential crisis support for survivors who need to talk and need help figuring out what their next steps are. I would encourage them to visit the site or call 1-800-656-HOPE. RAINN also offers a list of International resources for survivors outside the United States: https://www.rainn.org/gethelp/sexual-assault-and-rape-international-resources

Thanks for having me on your blog!

BUY THE BOOK

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Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

openroadsummerAfter breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

Taylor-Abigail-467

Taylor and Abigail

It was absolutely impossible for me to not draw some kind of comparison between Dee (Lilah) and Reagan’s friendship and what the media knows about Taylor Swift and Abigail’s relationship.  I mean, both Reagan and Abigail are mentioned in their respective best friend’s tunes, and they attend award ceremonies as their best friend’s dates.  So yeah, I imagined them as Taylor and Abigail at first.

However, Reagan, as a character, defines herself fairly early on.  She is an individual who is completely rough around the edges, which is partly from her life experience but also from walls she has constructed for herself.  Dee, on the other hand, I would describe as kind of a circle with a few dings taken out.  Dee is strong in another sense, but is definitely more well rounded and adjusted than Reagan seems at the beginning of the novel.

I’ve seen a number of reviews of this novel that mention the negative attitude that Reagan takes toward other female characters (other than Dee), and I’d like to comment on that.  Reagan reveals that her mother left her as a child.  Not only does this realistically provide an intrinsic distrust of other females, but it does explain the origin of her trust issues as well.  It would be natural for a person in her shoes to dislike a lot of females and I think that Lord portrayed this realistically.  I do understand that in today’s world it is absolutely necessary for women to uplift other women, but since this is a novel set in reality, we have to think realistically.  Not all teenagers are in that frame of mind yet and Lord depicts it.

Lord is practically my narrative godmother at this point, because both Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You are so well paced and structured that they kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more, while also having satisfying endings.

The romance aspect of Open Road Summer is much more pronounced than in The Start of Me and You, and I think that it works both ways for Lord as a writer.  I absolutely adored the slow smolder of obvious attraction between Reagan and Matt in Open Road Summer, but I also loved the sudden realization of love between Paige and Max in The Start of Me and You.  Since I mentioned Matt I think it is only fitting to say that if you do not swoon over this wounded character at least once or twice throughout the story then I think something is wrong!

Lord also did a phenomenal job with writing song lyrics to accompany the story, and each one I could almost sing along with in my mind.  Can someone sell these to a singer so we can have some of these on our iPods?

Going home to my guitar now. 4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

BUY THIS BOOK

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.

Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?

Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.

Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.

Book Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

the start of me and youIt’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Wow.  Brilliant.  Wonderfully real.  Emotional.  I firmly believe that Emery Lord struck gold with this novel.  I cannot even think about this story without it bringing tears to my eyes.

This novel is first and foremost about grief.  Lord does a phenomenal job at showcasing the struggle that people go through when trying to move past such a defining moment in life, and how detrimental it is to handle it with the utmost care.  Paige’s grief has manifested itself in an intense fear of water and drowning, nightmares, and isolation.  She has isolated herself from a social life in high school and has alienated herself from herself.  That sounds a bit confusing, but she has started to also define herself as the girl with a dead boyfriend, rather than moving past it.  That is what is so brilliant about Lord’s portrayal of Paige.  Paige wants more than anything to get out of that rut and begin to define herself again.  It provides an excellent narrative arc that also allows the reader to struggle along with Paige.

Paige has an amazing support system throughout The Start of Me and You.  Her three best friends, Tessa, Kayleigh, and Morgan are the absolute best example of how friends can really help you through the toughest times.  No lie, it really made me miss my two best friends from high school, because we are scattered through the east coast now!  All of the girls were also well written as individuals that function as a part of a whole unit.  I loved that these characters could stand on their own with their differences, but they worked better as a friend group.  Paige isn’t the only one who has problems, but they continually step up to help one another through anything.

As for the two main male characters, Max and Ryan, I think that Lord concocted a very interesting juxtaposition between them, especially since they are best friends.  Ryan is described as being bright blonde and blue eyed, while Max has darker hair, green eyes, and glasses.  Ryan is the hot guy jock and Max is the adorable, gangly nerd. The novel immediately sets up Ryan as the main love interest for Paige, but Lord does a good job of displaying how Paige and Ryan would not fit, regardless of how stubborn Paige is in her crush.  While Max sneaks up on Paige and her heart, it was clear to me from the beginning that she would end up with him, but that did not deter me at all.  As Max says in the story,

Max's Post Secret (Made by Me)

Max’s Post Secret (Made by Me)

“Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.”

Lord really outdid herself with the relationship between Paige and her Grandmother.  Not only was Grammy struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but she suffers from two strokes as well.  Paige is extremely close to Grammy and considers her the only person she can share secrets with.  They have such excellent conversations, and the dialogue in these scenes is on point.  Lord made me cry a number of times during the scenes with Grammy, as it really reminded me of my relationship with my Mawmaw, who passed on a few years ago.

This novel really hit home with me, and I hope everyone will pick up a copy and read it.

5 Bards.

fivebards

Review Repost: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

I’ve had this novel since it was released in late 2011, but for some reason it kept getting bumped down in my To Be Read pile! Now I really regret not reading this novel sooner, because I really enjoyed it!

As most story workshops go (at least in my creative writing courses), we always discuss the strengths of a narrative first. I’m not even sure where to start, because there are so many strengths in McNeil’s debut novel. So I guess I’ll just list them in the order I have them written down in my notes: Characterization, Subject Matter, Love Story, Plot.

So, Characterization. I have to say that I really respected Bridget as a character for being strong willed and for not readily accepting her abilities. Since religion has a large part in this story, we learn that not only does her ability have to do with the entities within Heaven and Hell, which proves to Bridget that God, in fact, does exist. She had previously renounced God after her father’s murder. So her slow acceptance of her fate coincides with her acceptance of God and religion.

I want a gay best friend like Hector. He was extremely well developed for a secondary character that isn’t privy to Bridget’s secrets. I just really loved his and Bridget’s relationship, even though it was strained through part of the story. Oh, Matt Quinn. He is the resident sexy boy who has the hots for our main character. Matt managed to surprise me throughout the story with his loyalty to Bridget, which I can owe to McNeil for making me dislike him because Bridget did. Their relationship developed organically (more on this later).

Subject Matter: In my opinion, the subject of demonic possession really hasn’t been overused in YA lit, and the use of Catholicism in Possess is extremely realistic and very well done. In a time where the Catholic church is criticized almost constantly for some of its amoral actions with choir boys and acolytes, or even its stance on gay marriage, it is really great to see the Catholic Church, a Catholic heroine, and the Vatican as heroes. I have to say that it really surprised me.

Simple statement: THE LOVE STORY DID NOT OVERPOWER THE PARANORMAL STORY ELEMENTS. Hallelujah. Thank you, McNeil, for not allowing the budding friendship/relationship between Bridget and Matt to come to the forefront when the major dramatic question was about the possessions. THANK YOU.

The final strength I want to mention is the Plot development. The pacing of Possess was great, and there wasn’t a spot where I felt like I could skip some chapters and still be able to finish the story. There were a few places that were somewhat obvious to me (with the plot twists) because I saw it coming, but it still didn’t take away my enjoyment of reading this novel.

Weaknesses: Okay….the only thing that really bothered me was the amount of current pop culture references spread throughout the novel. I just feel that these references (Ke$ha, Jersey Shore, and Mean Girls) can really serve to date the text. This means that some future generations that might want to pick up this book won’t really know what those references are.

I really enjoyed Possess, and cannot wait until the release of McNeil’s second novel, Ten.

4.5 Bards!

four.fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 22, 2015

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

Top Ten Tuesday: April 7

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Characters You’d Like to Check in With

 

1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy
You know you want to know what happens after the end of Mockingjay.  All we get is a glimpse into Katniss and Peeta’s personal future, but what about everyone else?  Does another dictator step in and take over?  Do they form a democracy?  Is it anarchy?  So many questions!

2. Aysel and Roman from My Heart and Other Black Holes
What happens after they (spoiler alert) don’t commit suicide?

3. Alyssa from the Splintered trilogy
I just want to know what her life is like in Wonderland with Morpheus!  It does look like I’ll be getting my wish though, as a novella was announced as a follow up!

4. Laurel from Love Letters to the Dead
Laurel really went through a lot trying to find out the secret behind May’s death and I’d like to see how her therapy helps her.

5. Cadence from We Were Liars
Talk about this character going through an emotional roller coaster.  I just want to know that she is okay and coping well!

6. Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby 
I want to just see them where they are now in their relationship, and hopefully they are still very happy together!

7. Sarah and Linda from Lies We Tell Ourselves 
Such a tumultuous time in history for civil rights and for a bi-racial lesbian couple.  I’d love to see how their story continued.

8. Young Catherine and Hareton from Wuthering Heights 
Sure, Bronte gives us the hope that the cycle is broken, but I really would like to see these characters get the happy ending that Catherine and Heathcliff never did.

9. Death from The Book Thief 
I know that Liesel changed Death, so I’d just like to see if any other encounters changed or influenced Death as well.

10. Helen and Lucas from the Starcrossed Trilogy
Much like with Romy and Dexter, I just want to see their happy ever after!

 

Who are some characters you want to check in with?

 

 

 

Book Review: Boarding School Girls by Helen Eve

boardingschoolgirlsWorshipped, envied, desired, and feared by all, Siena Hamilton reigns over Temperley High, the embodiment of the Hamilton legacy. She and the Starlets may still be healing from the unfortunate and horrible events of that night, at the end of last year, but nothing can shake her place as the head of Temperley’s elite any longer. The Starlets are nothing if not adept at dealing with traitors, and Siena is her mother’s daughter: she knows how to be perfect, and she will not disappoint. There is only one person who could possibly get in her way…

Romy, former Starlet, is back—back from a mutually-agreed-upon term away, in France—and no one is happy about it, least of all herself. She’s changed now, though. She’s trying harder to be normal, to dress appropriately, to blend in, to keep her head down and keep the secret of what really happened that night safe and hidden. But when your former best friends are untouchable, and you’ve betrayed them, you don’t just get to come back—even if you’re beginning to think they might not have been your friends in the first place.

Boarding School Girls is a book that I wasn’t expecting.  This lack of expectation is twofold: on one hand I had no idea that Eve was working on a novel that would give us the full story of Stella’s older sister, Siena, who was such a looming presence in the initial novel, Stella (Click the title to check out my review). On the other hand, since I found the first novel to be somewhat average in its story telling and character development, I wasn’t expecting Boarding School Girls to be any different. I was wrong.

Almost immediately it is evident that Siena is a much more sympathetic character than Stella.  I think that was one of my main issues with the first novel, as I just couldn’t really sympathize with her.  I do completely agree that we need unlikable characters and heroes/heroines in YA Lit, but for some reason Stella just got under my skin.  Siena, however, was so endearing to me from the beginning.  I think that maybe Eve just did a better job of developing her character than she did with Stella.  I also think that the rest of the Starlets were better developed as well, because I couldn’t even remember any of the names that were involved in Stella’s Starlets, but I can’t imagine forgetting Libby.

I also liked Romy much more as a opposition character than Caitlin.  She had her reasons of struggling with her ideals as a Starlet and keeping the secret of Libby’s fall from the stairs, and they were just.  Romy was definitely the most sympathetic of all the characters, and she was almost as likeable as the youngest Hamilton sister, Syrena.  Who, by the way, I would love to have another novel about.  I’d love for the Hamilton curse to break with her.

It was hard going into this novel knowing that Siena dies at the end.  She’s dead in Stella and her death was outlined as much as it could have been.  That being said, I still stand firm in the fact that this novel is worth reading.  There is so much more to Siena than was ever let on in Stella, and her story is as interesting as it is heartbreaking.  I do think that the ending felt rushed and very abrupt, but overall the narrative was strong.

4 Bards.

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: June 2, 2015

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. When she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

As she’s thrust into the world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and all-too-handsome healers, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, and of love and hate.

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