Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

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Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.
Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start.And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .

***GIVEAWAY BELOW***

As a reader who devoured Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for her first foray into young adult literature.

Kinsella has expertly tapped into the growing contemporary corner of young adult that focuses on teens dealing with mental illness.  There are a number of narratives out that deal with depression and suicide, but Kinsella takes on the equally complex social and generalized anxiety disorders.

The characterization of Audrey’s family is really a shining point in this story.  I absolutely adore how Kinsella has explored how different parents and children are in relation to technology.  Granted, a lot of this is exacerbated by Audrey’s mother’s obsession with the Daily Mail.  As an American a lot of my knowledge of the Daily Mail comes from my roommate, who is British, and John Cleese.  Both of them hate the Daily Mail and consider it trash news, which is exactly how it is portrayed in this story so it really just firmed up my belief that we shouldn’t read the Daily Mail.  It’s kind of sad that Audrey’s mother is so wrapped up in believing what some article tells her that it dictates what she does in relation to her children, but it isn’t wholly unbelievable or unrealistic.  It makes her a bit ridiculous and endearing at the same time which is why it is brilliant.

Audrey is such a wonderfully complex character.  Her voice is distinct and witty, but still reserved at the same time.  In fact, her voice is one of the things that sets her apart and exemplifies her anxiety almost as well as the situations she describes.  I also enjoyed the breaking of the fourth wall in certain parts of the story.  Frank was what I would consider a typical 13 year old boy to be.  He is obsessed with playing a World of Warcraft type of game and aspires to do that as an official job.  I mean, I think that is a dream job for a lot of gamer kids.  He is snarky, stubborn, and just a bit insufferable.  Frank was an excellent character. The other two family members, Audrey’s father and youngest brother Felix, are the least developed, but it definitely didn’t take away from the narrative.  I actually quite enjoyed the father’s befuddled and somewhat absent-minded attitude.

There is an adorable first love situation going on in Finding Audrey and it is just everything I wish I could have had at 14.  It’s realistic and awkward and really well done.  The synopsis kind of makes it seem like Linus is the whole reason for Audrey being able to start down the path to recovery, but I think that Audrey just needed that little push.  Linus was just a side effect of the push, a good side effect.  Kinsella did such a good job of explaining how recovery and learning to live with mental illness really is like a jagged graph.  There will be highs, lows, stable days, completely messed up days, and everything in between.

Overall I think that Kinsella kicked off the young adult aspect of her career very strongly, and I hope she will continue to contribute to the genre.

4.5 Bards

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Book Review: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

GetEvenBree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

I’m yet to  be disappointed by any of Gretchen McNeil’s novels.  I really should read her novels as soon as I get my hands on them, but for some reason they always get put on the backburner.  I blame the fact that I have two bookshelves in two different rooms, and the ‘M’ books are in the other room.  Anyway, I’ve had a copy of this since May 2014 and I’m so bummed I didn’t read it before now.

I’m a sucker for a good private school story, because it really does create an isolated world for which all of the crazy drama can occur.  Get Even did NOT disappoint in this category.  I really love how McNeil creates so many individual characters within this story.  Not only do the four main characters stand out individually from one another and have their own unique voices, but even the secondary and supporting characters are so vividly created that the novel just flies by and it almost felt like I was watching a much more devious episode of The O.C. (am I showing my age here? The O.C. was AWESOME.)

I’m torn between really liking what the don’t get mad girls do in the story and thinking that it is still a form of bullying.  Essentially the main four are absolutely 100% against bullying and only choose targets that have somehow done something to deserve their punishment.  But again, I struggle with the fact that they are bullying the bullies to some extent, which really kind of makes the cycle repeat.  However, McNeil is such a strong author, I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t intentional.  I still found all of the members of DGM pretty relatable and I think that each character has a little bit of everyone in them.  There is always the rebel, the shy one, the overachiever, and the dramatic one.  It isn’t as black and white, of course, but there is a little bit of each girl in a lot of people I know and went to high school with.  So again, the characterization was spot on.

WHY didn’t we get to see who the killer was at the end?! See, I can’t even say SPOILER ALERT, because it isn’t a spoiler!  It is a cliff hanger, and a major one at that.  I am going to be waiting impatiently for Get Dirty, and while we wait, you should check this book out too!

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Amazon| Flyleaf Books | Barnes & Noble

4 Bards

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Book Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Release Date: June 3, 2014

I will say that the first thing that I noticed when reading this novel was how frequently the Point of View shifted.  Pretty much every other chapter was one of four people’s points of view.  Now, when done well this can be extremely helpful for the movement of the plot, so I have no problem with it.

That being said, I totally understand why Mathieu chose to do this for her novel because it really helped express how deep the rumors and gossip concerning the main character went in their small town.  There was the popular girl, the school nerd, the closeted best friend of the quarterback, and the former best friend of the Alice in the title.  My problem with the point of view shifts in this novel?  While they did help inform the reader about the intricacies involved with the rumors that ruined Alice, each point of view was only distinguishable by the titles at the beginning of each chapter.  Each character’s voice sounded the same.  Hence the major problem with utilizing multiple point of views, there has to be a way for each of those voices to stand out and be original to the story. Also, I really hated all of the voices except Kurt.

Other than that major problem, the story was constructed well and it was an excellent foray into the damage that rumors and vicious lies can cause for high school students, or well, anyone being the victim of this.  I think that this story is important to remember when there are a lot of stories about bullying in schools and online.

The only other thing I disliked about this novel was how abrupt the ending was.  All of the sudden the character of Alice speaks up and then the story ends.  It really just felt like there wasn’t enough resolution for me in the end.  There was so much build-up through the different point of views and then the resolution was so short and sudden.

3.5 Bards (-1.5 for POV shifts, and the abrupt ending)

3.5bards

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