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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Strange The Dreamer is a rare, precious gem. Every word is a part of a stunning masterpiece of one of the most unique, imaginative stories I’ve ever read. Get swept away in a magical fairy tale filled with romance, monsters, myths, friendship, betrayal, and the most fascinating flawed heroes and heroines. Be prepared to savor it, then crave the next book the second you reach the last page.
Strange The Dreamer is a work of wonder, one that will leave you breathlessly awed by the incredible imagination and storytelling skills of the brilliant Laini Taylor.
Don’t miss it!
I received an ARC of Strange The Dreamer from Little Brown!
View all my reviews
How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.
For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.
Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.
Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.
What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?
In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.
Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the “only one who understands me”, and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.
Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!
The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
THE YOU I’VE NEVER KNOWN is filled with emotional punches, and it’s impossible not to be deeply effected by them in the best way. This story is brilliantly woven into a slow revelation of personal as well as sexual identity. Themes of friendship, love, loyalty, teen pregnancy, and family are key elements. Who am I? Who loves me? What does it mean to be loved? What IS love?
Abuse also comes into play, explored and revealed so that the victim comes to realize what she thought of as love was really anger, control, hate.
——Deep breath. This book. So much emotion. So many powerful messages. So important.
Once again, Ellen Hopkins pens characters who feel so real, it take imagination to believe that they don’t really exist, that you’re reading about them in a novel, not a journal of their life. Ariel is at the center of this story and readers will feel her confusion, her attraction, her sense of loyalty, friendships, love, fear. Her father is a despicable person. I have so many emotions wrapped up with him that I may need to amend this review later as I process my emotions.
From Monica to Zelda to Gabe to Hillary, I love each of these secondary characters for different reasons. Each one has a very special role in Ariel’s lives. They change her profoundly. You need to read this novel to understand each one’s impact.
And then there’s Maya’s story—at first separate, but then it converges into Ariel’s. PAINFUL! POWERFUL! DEEPLY MOVING! Sad. But then again, HOPEFUL.
Ellen Hopkins never shirks away from the tough topics. Be prepared to think. I highly, highly recommend this novel and all of her novels.
1/23: Such A Novel Idea – Review
1/24: Megnificent Books – Character Closet
1/25: Who R U Blog – Review
1/26: Wandering Bark Books – Playlist
1/27: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review
1/30: The Irish Banana Review – Fast 5
1/31: Actin’ Up With Books – Review
2/1: Red House Books – Top 10
2/2: The Book Return – Review
2/3: Bookiemoki – Q&A
Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.
LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound
Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.
Today Clara is a RITA© Award-winning author of dark fiction for young adults. Her super-romantic psychic thriller series, Run To You, was named an RT Magazine Editors Pick for Best Books of 2014, and Run to You Book One: Deception So Deadly, is the winner of the prestigious 2015 RITA© Award for Best First Book.
Clara’s latest release is Aftermath, a dark, ripped-from-the-headlines YA contemporary in the tradition of Roomand The Lovely Bones. Aftermath is on Goodreads’ list of Most Popular Books Published in November 2016, and Young Adult Books Central declared it a Top Ten Book of 2016.
Clara’s favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.
Aftermath by Clara Kensie
FYI: There’s a Goodreads giveaway going on now for 3 annotated copies of AFTERMATH! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/sh…
This book!!! It’s powerful, emotional, gripping, hard-to-put-down with lots of twists and turns you won’t predict. AFTERMATH will leave the reader thinking about these characters and the choices they made. How well do you know your community? How well do you know your brother? What would make a “seemingly normal” person kidnap a young girl and hold her prisoner? What happens afterward?
I read this book in a day. Three weeks later, I’m still thinking about this family—how each one found different ways of coping with the kidnapping and everything that came from that. The choices they made, the before and after. Human beings can endure a lot, but this…it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Yet through the journey, readers will find hope. It’s a lifeline we all need.
Beautifully written, I still have images of the cage, the house, the school, and “home” in my head. Scenes will stay with you and there are moments that will make you gasp and may even bring you to tears. Have some tissues ready, just in case, but whatever you do, don’t miss AFTERMATH! It’s a must-read.
1/2: The Irish Banana Review – Review
1/3: Bibliobuli YA – 2 Truths & A Lie Post
1/4: Swoony Boys Podcast – Character Interview
1/5: Novel Ink – Review
1/6: Fiction Fare – Q&A
1/7: Actin’ Up With Books – Review
1/8: The Story Sanctuary – Review
1/9: Who R U Blog – Review
1/10: Lisa’s Loves – Dream Cast
1/11: Gabriella M Reads – Q&A
1/12: Novelgossip – Review
1/13: Such A Novel Idea – Playlist
1: A “Do It Double” Aftermath tote bag from Blu Bear Bazaar (photos attached). Inspired by Aftermath‘s message to “Do it double, because some can’t do it at all,” Blu Bear Bazaar designed beautiful artwork for it and printed it on tote bags and throw pillows. Blu Bear Bazaar is generously donating a portion of all Aftermath product proceeds to RAINN and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Click here for more information.
2: Choice of TWO books from Clara’s collection of YA novels. Clara will give the winner a list of the YA novels in her collection, and the winner can pick two. Some of the books are signed by the author.
*US/CAN for the above prizes. If the winner is international, the prize will be substituted by a book from Book Depository up to $18.00, winner’s choice.
Good luck, and happy reading!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Mention blood, and I get woozy. Mention needles, and there is a chance I’ll need to get horizontal before I pass out. But for some glorious reason, I wasn’t bothered one bit from all the blood and gore and even needles mentioned in THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. As a matter of fact, I became completely wrapped up in listening to this audiobook that I decided to take a long afternoon drive to enjoy the fall colors in the country and listen to the novel. After I returned home, I dragged an old CD boom-box in from the garage just to finish listening to it while I cooked dinner, and then folded laundry.
I freakin’ loved a novel about VAMPIRES!
Listening to a novel is most definitely a different experience than reading it. Christine Lakin’s performance took Holly Black’s rich, detailed, vibrant story and brought these characters to life. The key to this book is buying into the fact that vampires are real. (Yes, I know they are not real.) They’re out there and if you’re bitten, then you’ll be infected. Once infected, the only way to not turn into a vampire is isolation for eighty-eight days. There is a near unquenchable thirst for human blood and if the infected give in to that thirst, they’ll turn into vampires.
The story opens with Tana waking up in a bathtub at a farmhouse where she attended a party. Soon, she discovers that almost all of her friends were massacred by bloodthirsty vampires. She finds her ex-boyfriend Aiden still alive, but infected, tied up in a bedroom. Across the room is Gavriel, a vampire in chains. Tana decides to rescue them both.
Tana’s journey with Aiden and Gavriel is absolutely fascinating, dangerous, and unapologetically violent, but not over-the-top scary. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN will make readers think about the power of TV and the Internet and how some sensationalize and embrace the underworld. Vampires were revered by some in a sick, fascinating, cultish way. YA blogged about them, emulated them, wanted to become them. With this desire, the reality and fantasy were too different worlds and Holly Black did an exceptional job of showing the two.
Tana is a heroine of heroines. She’s imperfect, struggles with her own demons, loves those who may not deserve it and goes to extraordinary lengths to protect the people she cares about. Sometimes she succeeds. Sometimes she doesn’t.
THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN was my surprise read of the year. I never expected to love it. I did! I never expected that it would make my “top reads list for 2013.” But it did.
Thank you so much, Holly for writing such an unexpected and gripping vampire novel!! And thank you Christine Lakin for a captivating performance that brought Holly’s characters to life.
ABOUT THE MEMORY BOOK:
They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.
So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.
Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.
ABOUT LARA AVERY:
Lara Avery takes her role as a young writer very seriously; she enjoys wandering the world notebook in hand, making her living off of odd jobs. One of those jobs happens to be publishing the novel Anything But Ordinaryjust two years after getting a degree in Film Studies from Macalester College.
When Lara left home armed with nothing but a basketball scholarship, she told everyone she was going to law school. Then, when she started interning at The Onion and publishing pieces of fiction in national anthologies, she realized her secret plans to be a writer all along.
Though Lara sat down to write Anything But Ordinary everywhere from a 110 degree apartment in Kolkata to a hostel in Berlin, she always felt at home in Bryce’s story. Writing currently from St. Paul, MN, she hopes her debut novel will be the first of many.
LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook
OH MY HEART! It’s aching right now! How do I possibly describe this book? How does one sum up a future unfulfilled, dreams extinguished, love found better late than never, a body ravished, memories stolen, the devastation of a disease?
I need to hug Cooper.
This is a beautiful, heart wrenching, special book, and I loved
Even the ones
my heart into m i l l i o n s
GIVEAWAY: 3 FINISHED COPIES (US ONLY)
Jeff Zentner, photo credit: J Hernandez
In this emotional story, the son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee, without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Drawing from his own roots growing up in the south, Zentner’s debut is haunting, heartbreaking, and hopeful, and is in the vein of beloved novels The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, and Eleanor & Park.
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Fascinating, painful family dynamics. The power of friendship and love. Self-discovery, courage, and daring to bet on oneself.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Wow! WOW! WOW! Sob. Sob. Sob. Someone give me a hug! Sigh. YES! Swoon! Ahhhh! I love this book!
Okay, so I never imagined that one of my new favorite books would be about Gill, an eighteen-year-old boy whose father had been a snake-handling preacher and Lydia, a quirky girl who had a popular fashion blog and their best friend Travis, who’s obsessed with a fantasy series. But these characters were so unique, so interesting, so revealing and real that I couldn’t help but be swept into their story and fall in love with each of them. They found strength and courage from one another. They found ways to break out of their small town life and family history.
I love this quote: “I’m tired of many things,” Mr. Burson said, fighting for composure… “I’m tired of watching children perish. I’m tired of watching the world grind up gentle people. I’m tired of outliving those I shouldn’t be outliving. I’ve made books my life because they let me escape this world of cruelty and savagery. I needed to say that out loud to somebody other than my cats. Please take care of yourselves, my young friends.”
Things I loved:
1. Travis and how comfortable he is in his own skin.
2. Lydia and her kick-ass attitude, her relationship with her parents, and how to pushes Dill and Travis to be more, yet also loves them for who they are.
3. Dill and how he has such a HUGE HEART!
4. Lydia’s parents, especially her dad.
5. Lydia’s fashion sense.
6. Walmart reference.
7. Music references.
8. I’m terrified of snakes but this didn’t freak me out.
9. Dill’s struggles and the strength he finds to follow his own path.
10. The romance.
11. The hopeful ending!
Bravo and congrats, Jeff! THE SERPENT KING is definitely on my 2016 favorites list.
One of Paste Magazine’s “10 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016”
“Zentner’s prose wraps you up like a warm, Southern hug and packs the punches of a sweaty country brawl…The Serpent King is a debut you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern Boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.”
—John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and William C. Morris Award
“The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity.”
—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author
“[T]his sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. Zentner explores difficult themes head on—including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness—while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship.”— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends . . . Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.”— School Library Journal
“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.”— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn’t driven by romance—though it rears its head—but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one’s own path. A promising new voice in YA.”— Booklist
“A moving debut novel of friendship and forgiveness that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it, I’m calling it now… The Serpent King is already one of my favorite books of 2016.”— Eric Smith for BookRiot
“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.”— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
I asked Jeff to share some behind-the-scenes details about his novel. Information you wouldn’t know just from reading the novel! His answers add some great insight into the workings of this book. Enjoy!!!!
Sock Sunday! Jeff knows how to wear ’em!
Here are some random facts about me. I collect vintage cast-iron skillets. I have one from 1917 that I still use. As I was thinking about where to go creatively after music, there was actually a period where I was thinking about getting hard core into cooking. I’m pretty decent at it. I was thinking of taking classes and everything. But ultimately, I love to create art for a mass audience and it’s hard to do that as a cook unless you open a restaurant, which, nope.
I speak Portuguese fluently from living in the Amazon region of Brazil, where I owned a pet sloth for several months before I released him back into the wild. I’ve eaten piranha, crocodile, and boa constrictor. I’ve lain on the roof of a boat going up the Amazon at night and let me tell you, you can see some stars. I spent two years there with no TV, no radio, no movies, no music, and only sporadic electricity and running water. I came back to the U.S. and knew almost nothing about what had gone on (impeachment of Bill Clinton, Columbine, war in Bosnia). To this day, mid-1997 to mid-1999 are lost years for me. I know a lot about what went on in the jungle. That’s it.
Oh, and the country star Vince Gill used to own my house before he was famous.
And now some random facts about how The Serpent King came to be. In the mid-2000s, I played with a band called Creech Holler. We played electrified versions of old Appalachian songs and murder ballads. Our bass player was from a part of Eastern Tennessee where snakehandlers were active. He said that we sounded like the music from the snakehandling churches. So we began to use snakehandler imagery in our songs and band’s persona. Our first album was called “With Signs Following,” referring to Mark 16:18, where it says that signs will follow the faithful, including that they’ll be able to pick up snakes and drink deadly things without being harmed. I started really studying these snakehandling sects. One of my main sources was a book called Salvation on Sand Mountain. I highly recommend this book to anyone, by the way.
When I went to write The Serpent King, I wrote it as I write all of my novels, which is to take everything I was interested in and cram it into one novel. I was interested in faith, so I created a character who struggled with faith. I was interested in writing about rural Tennessee, so I gave that character a faith unique to rural Tennessee and not written about much in YA. To further make sure I got the details of snakehandling right for the book, I talked with my buddy Jarrod (his wife Stephanie Perkins wrote Anna and the French Kiss) who had attended services at a snakehandling church. He helped me get little details right, like the sort of boxes they keep the snakes in.
At the time I was getting ready to write The Serpent King, I was also interested in teens who use the Internet to be part of the national conversation. That was the inspiration for Lydia and her fashion blog. I started reading a bunch of fashion blogs (primarily Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie). And I started following a bunch of teen fashion bloggers on Twitter so that I could be a fly on the wall to their conversations. That’s how I developed Lydia’s voice.
To research Forrestville, I made several visits to Sparta, Tennessee, the model for Forrestville. Why invent a town instead of just using Sparta? Because Sparta is in the perfect location—an hour and a half from every major city—but it’s a really nice little town. I wanted my setting to suck more. But just like in Sparta, there’s a little bookstore in Forrestville called Riverbank Books. The last time I was in the real Riverbank Books, a kid came in and started talking about the Game of Thrones books with the store owner, just like Travis talks about the Bloodfall books with the owner of the fictional Riverbank Books. I was freaking out.
Before I ever started writing The Serpent King, Dill, Travis, and Lydia took up residence in my brain and started having conversations. Only a fraction of their interactions ended up in the book. There was going to be a fourth member of their crew, but he would never tell me his name or anything about himself, so he never made the book. Maybe he ended up in my second book? By the time I finally started writing, they’d been talking to me for months. Because of this, the first draft of The Serpent King took about twenty-five days. That’s how all of my books go. Months of thinking followed by a furious one or two months of drafting.
While I was writing The Serpent King, during the times when I wasn’t writing on the bus, I’d keep several books at my
Jeff writing on a bus.
elbow, which I’d dip into for inspiration. These are books I could open to any page and find something I loved. They included: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and Just Kids by Patti Smith.
One final random fact about The Serpent King. There are passing mentions to one of Lydia’s friends named Heidi. That’s Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere. My editor emailed me one night and gave me about a half hour to write Lydia some other past friendships, since she was concerned that there were no allusions to her having had any friends other than Dill and Travis. I tweeted that the first woman who liked my tweet would get her name in my book. Heidi won.
Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.
Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.
He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.
1. The main characters, Kestrel and Arin, come alive.
Forbidden love you can’t help but cheer for! They’re strong, they go through so many trials and tribulations that you’re often holding your breath, nearly going crazy to find out what is going to happen next.
2. Extraordinary world building.
Marie makes this fictional world come alive.
3. The writing is exceptional, beautiful, lyrical.
4. Edge-of-your-seat action.
5. Fantasy at it’s absolute BEST!
The writing is incredible. The story will have you turning the pages faster and faster and faster to find out what happens. You’ll be craving the next book, and after you read it (The Winner’s Crime) you’ll be screaming for the next book.
Bottom line: Don’t miss this series. Fantasy at its best. What a world Marie created. Amazing, unforgettable characters. Kestrel and Arin are strong-willed, have fantastic chemistry, know their strengths and weaknesses (often each other), and turn the world upside down.
This series is a gift for readers to cherish. I most definitely am cherishing it! Standing ovation for Marie Rutkoski!
From start to finish, it’s edge-of-your-seat action! Breathtaking, heart-stopping AMAZING! The writing, the story! Incredible. *Flail*Hug*Cry* If you need a support group after you finish reading THE WINNER’S CRIME, I are here for you!
Without any doubt, I know that I’m going to absolutely love this novel. I trust Marie Rutkowski wrote the story that has been in her heart since this trilogy was a germ of an idea. Writing an outstanding story takes tremendous work, dedication, and passion for the craft. Marie has it in spades. Her storytelling skills are masterful, taking readers on the best kind of emotional roller coaster. It’s her characters, world building, cadence (lyrical) writing that captures the reader from page one. For those reasons and many more, The Winner’s Trilogy is one of the best YA fantasy series of all time. I can’t wait until THE WINNER’S KISS is in my hands. Marie Rutkowski and this series is worthy of ALL THE PRAISE! A best book for 2014, 2105, and I have no doubt for 2016! Cheering you on, Marie!
Grieving the death of her godfather and haunted by her cousin Cassie’s betrayal, Barrie returns from a trip to San Francisco to find the Watson plantation under siege. Ghost-hunters hope to glimpse the ancient spirit who sets the river on fire each night, and reporters chase rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold that may be hidden at Colesworth Place. The chaos turns dangerous as Cassie hires a team of archeologists to excavate beneath the mansion ruins. Because more is buried there than treasure.A stranger filled with magic arrives at Watson’s Landing claiming that the key to the Watson and Beaufort gifts—and the Colesworth curse—also lies beneath the mansion. With a mix of threats and promises, the man convinces Barrie and Cassie to cast a spell there at midnight. But what he conjures may have deadly consequences.
While Barrie struggles to make sense of the escalating peril and her growing and forbidden feelings for Eight Beaufort, it’s impossible to know whom to trust and what to fight for—Eight or herself. Millions of dollars and the fate of the founding families is at stake. Now Barrie must choose between what she feels deep in her heart and what will keep Watson’s Landing safe in this stunning addition to a series filled with “decadent settings, mysterious magic, and family histories rife with debauchery” (Kirkus Reviews, on Compulsion).
Hi Liza! YAY! I am so honored to be here with you. It’s fun to get to hang out with you on your blog—mostly because you’re fun to hang out with any old place. : ) I’m afraid that your questions were so good that I went on and on and on about them. Sorry in advance!
1. Barrie hates that Eight knows how much she needs and wants him to stay on Watson Island. Because he’s compelled to fulfill her desire, it’s hard for her to trust his feelings for her. What is important for readers to know about this relationship???
That’s a great question. It would be so easy for Barrie to just accept how Eight feels for her at face value. She’s already had to come to terms with questions about how much Eight’s ability to know what she wants allows him to manipulate her into falling in love with him, but it’s easier for her to believe that he’s worth loving than it is for her to see the same quality in herself. Part of that has to do with the fact that your parents create formative relationships in your life. When she isn’t sure that her own mother could love her, it’s hard to believe that someone like Eight would do so.
It quickly becomes more than that, though. It becomes a question of free will versus compulsion. Eight is changing his life for her—putting aside something that she knows has been a long-time dream he’s worked hard to achieve. Because she loves him, how can she let him do that if he isn’t doing it of his own free will?
While she’s thinking about that, the situation becomes complicated by Obadiah and Seven, who essentially make her have to choose between giving up her magic or giving up her relationship with Eight. She refuses to accept that choice, and she struggles to find an alternative solution—and the only way to do that, as she sees it, is to keep a secret that she probably shouldn’t keep.
I really wanted this relationship, and this entire book, to make people give some thought to the lies we tell, the secrets we keep, and the fine line between persuasion and compulsion.
2. I found the Civil War scenes very powerful and heartbreaking. What research did you do to bring the horrors from the past into your novel?
I did a ton of research. In addition to working with an archeologist and professor of anthropology on the trilogy overall, I spent months poring over and often crying over, the stories that I found in diaries and personal accounts. In some ways, though, the “official” records were far worse—the official records that I found and the ones that simply don’t exist.
There’s a myth that the Civil War was somehow “civil” when it came to women, that there wasn’t as much rape as there has been in other wars. There are two reasons for that—one is that the general stigma of rape was even worse back then than it is today. According to the Department of Justice, even now only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults are reported—and the reason those are reported is the hope of bringing the perpetrators to justice and preventing future victims. In war, neither of those outcomes is likely. White women were therefore unlikely to accept the shame of publicly admitting to having been raped. Crimes against black women were not reported either. The reasons for this were so horrifying that I felt almost paralyzed writing about it. For one thing, the rape of black women was most often reported as a property crime by slave owners rather than a sexual assault, and even more horrifyingly, female slaves were frequently forced into having sex.
The scene the night the mansion burned was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. It’s actually based on an account about a ten-year-old child that I read. The situation was so awful that I had to tone it down to write the first draft, and then I toned it down again, because had I left it in, it would have overshadowed the entire book.
3. You blend the past and the present seamlessly. Past is the present as Cassie, Barrie, and Eight see the forces of the Civil War unfold right in front of them. What can readers learn from what they went through as witnesses to this horror?
I was researching and writing Cassie’s story at the time that Boko Haram took the school girls hostage and the extent of the slavery crisis across Africa and the rest of the world began to be more widely reported. Having spent so much time speaking to sexual assault and PTSD victims, I was deeply affected by what the girls I read about or spoke with had gone through or were going through. More than anything else, it gutted me to realize the extent to which we are going backward rather than forward. How can we, in 2015, have 30 million slaves in the world? Because most of them are women and children. Because most come from poor nations. Because . . . There are innumerable reasons and excuses. But slavery is just the extreme example of what are still staggeringly high statistics of crimes against women. We talk a lot about the “rape culture” in this country. That doesn’t exist just in the United States.
The problem isn’t just with men. It’s with anyone who allows the lines between free will, persuasion, and compulsion to get blurred by their own self-interest or desire. Force isn’t the only tool in the arsenal used to diminish, marginalize, or overpower women. Subtle pressure, bullying, blackmail, and threats of various kinds can be almost as, if not just as, damaging.
You know the saying—the best villains don’t know they’re villains. This was true with slave holders in the Civil War, and it’s true of those who enslave, rape, date rape, or abuse adults or children today. Somehow, they manage to convince themselves that they’re not really doing anything wrong.
The answer to this, I believe, has to start with empathy. The first thing we have to realize is that the people who do these horrible things, the people who did them in the past, and who are doing them in the present, are often kind or productive citizens in other respects—and that they use that fact to excuse their own horrific acts toward those weaker than themselves.
The interweaving of past and present in Persuasion was a very deliberate way for me to try to raise awareness of the problem of violence against women in all its different guises, both as a societal issue we need to repair here in the United States, but also as an act of war all around the world. And it’s my hope that girls who read this book might consider, even if only on a subconscious level, their own definitions of the line between compulsion and persuasion. It breaks my heart that one in three girls will be raped in the US before they are 19. Or when I see statistics that show 41 percent of 6th to 9th grade girls and 51 percent of boys think it’s okay for a man to force a woman to kiss him if he’s spent money on her. Or that 47 percent of the girls and 65 percent of the boys think that forcing sex on a woman is okay if they’ve been dating for more than six months, and this shoots up to 79 percent of girls and 87 percent for boys who think its okay as long as the couple is married. WTF?
This has to change. But we all know it’s not going to change by screaming at people. I truly do feel that fiction has a role to play here. Fiction builds empathy, and empathy is our hope for the future. Not everyone reads—and even fewer people read “issue books.” I wanted to write about the issue in a way that might reach readers who normally don’t read about issues. Fingers are crossed!
Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?
Vacation spot: big city, beach, nature preserve?
Snack food you have a “compulsion for?”
What terrifies you more: snakes, spiders, mice?
Snakes. So much!
Would you rather be a Watson, a Beaufort or a Colesworth?
Watson. : )
Persuasion by Martina Boone
Cover: Absolutely GORGEOUS! ❤️❤️❤️
We have kissing like THIS:
Hold on to the edge of your seat, because PERSUASION takes you on a ride that will leave you breathless. Martina Boone does an extraordinary job weaving together history, magic, mystery, and modern times. She unspools questions like the Fire Carrier unspools his ball of flames across the river. Readers will swoon over Eight and Barrie, pray that they’ll make it as a couple. Is Eight with Barrie because she wants him and he wants to give her whatever she wants? Is their love for each other real? Or is it because of the magical gifts each one has: Barrie’s ability to find things and his ability to know what other people want.
The questions won’t stop there. Readers are introduced to Obadiah and his magic. Who is he? Is he evil? What is his connection to the curse plaguing Cassie? And what is going on with Cassie? More games? What kind of persuasion is influencing these characters? Why did Seven break up with Pru years ago, when clearly he loves her? Why is Seven keeping secrets from Eight? Can the curse be broken? Will Barrie get to keep her gift? Will Eight be burdened by his??? Will the archeologists find the missing gold or something unexpected, perhaps evil, on the Colesworth estate?
The biggest question of all? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!
So, take a breath . . .
Get comfort where you can . . .
And be patient. OKAY, I CAN’T BE PATIENT!
I absolutely, positively MUST have the third book in this series!!!!!!!!!!!
If you haven’t read COMPULSION, get it now!
Fall in love with the history, Southern charm, romance, magic, mystery, rich scenes, clever, smart writing, and all those questions. (Oh! And I forgot to mention the food references!!!!!! I will be searching for recipes, just like the amazing COMPULSION Woopie pie cake Heidi from YA Bibliophile made for our Novel Cuisine Luncheon http://www.whorublog.com/2014/12/16/t… ! – which is once again mentioned in PERSUASION! Drool!)
Without any doubt, PERSUASION will be on my top-reads list of 2015!
Thank you so much to SimonTeen and Martina Boone for the advanced copy.
Reid Alexander is used to getting what he wants – and what he wants next is his newest costar, Emma Pierce. The universe is lining up nicely to grant his wish, until he’s confronted with two unexpected obstacles on location: a bitter ex-girlfriend and a rival for Emma’s affections.
Emma Pierce just got her big break after years of filming commercials and made-for-TV movies. Winning the lead role in a wide-release film – opposite the very hot Reid Alexander – should be a dream come true. But Emma’s heart is hiding a secret fantasy: she wants to be a normal girl.
Graham Douglas doesn’t do romantic relationships, but he was knocked for a loop when he met Emma Pierce on the set of his last film. As they grew closer, he did everything in his power to keep from falling for a girl being pursued by superstar Reid Alexander. Now home in New York, his life is once again under control, until Emma appears and shows him how not over her he is.
Emma Pierce is forsaking an up-and-coming Hollywood career to embark on a life she’s only dreamed of—the life of a regular girl. After spending months burying her feelings for the two night-and-day guys who vied for her heart while filming her last movie, a twist of fate puts her in a coffee shop in the middle of Manhattan with the one she still misses.
Brooke Cameron was a fresh-faced Texas girl when she arrived in LA. Now she’s a beach sitcom star turned conceited heiress on the big screen. Having just survived three months on location with her ex—Hollywood’s reigning golden boy—she’s older and wiser and has set her sights on her close friend Graham. The only thing standing in her way is the girl he can’t forget.
Reid Alexander can sum up his life in one word: boring. Between film projects, there’s little going on outside of interviews, photo shoots, and the premiere of the film he finished last fall. The next-to-last thing he expects is to get a second chance with Emma, the girl who rejected him. The last thing he expects is for his still-bitter-ex to be the one to offer it to him on a platter.
Reid Alexander’s celebrity life is an open book. Every relationship, every error in judgment is analyzed by strangers. His latest mistake totaled his car, destroyed a house and landed him in the hospital. As his PR team works overtime to salvage his image, one thing is clear—this is one predicament he won’t escape without paying for it.
Dori Cantrell is a genuine humanitarian—the outward opposite of everything Reid represents. When his DUI plea bargain lands him under her community service supervision, she proves unimpressed with his status and indifferent to his proximity, and he soon wants nothing more than to knock her off of her pedestal and prove she’s human.
Counting the days until his month of service ends, Dori struggles to ignore Reid’s wicked pull while challenging him to recognize his own wasted potential. But Dori has secrets of her own, safely locked away until one night turns her entire world upside down. Suddenly their only hope for connection and redemption hinges on one choice: whether or not to have faith in each other.
Everyone has secrets.
Some are buried so deep, their existence is forgotten.
But a secret never told can turn into a lie.
And in love, a lie is one thing:
Reid’s in love with Dori, though she hasn’t told her parents that she’s fallen hard for the guy they’d forbidden her to see. Now she’s leaving for college, and Reid’s promise not to push her to go public is wearing thin, especially when she can’t – or won’t – return those three important words he wants to hear.
Five years ago, Brooke and Reid were a Thing. That relationship is long gone, detonated amid allegations of cheating – but they still share a secret that would stun everyone they know and alter public perception of them both if it ever comes out. And it’s about to do just that.
Here Without You is the fourth, final installment in the Between the Lines series, which includes: Between the Lines, Where You Are, and Good For You.
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.
In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.
This Side of Home by Renée Watson
An eye-opening view of a predominantly African American community going through transformation. Race relations and honest portrayal and perspective in an beautifully written story of two sisters as they navigate through their last year of high school. A must for all classrooms and libraries, as long as teachers and librarians make an effort to book-talk, promote, and discuss it with their students.
Cover: Fit the novel well with the neighborhood and the girl. I love the smile on her face, which after reading the novel I would interpret as something more than just a smile, but a wonderful sense of pride.
I haven’t read any novel that addresses race relations in quite this way. This book is needed in every classroom, every library. It needs to be book-talked, encouraging young adults to read it, and then discuss it.
I hope that Renee’s book gets a lot of attention. I love that seventeen-year-old Mia says that Black History is OUR history, meaning it belongs to everyone and that everyone should learn it. It should be honored, respected, taught, and shared. As we approach Black History month, there is a tremendous amount to learn, and it’s rich and deep and fascinating and eye-opening. It encompasses so much. I love that that Mia’s parents (and Nikki’s) are community advocates. It just shows that we can ALL be advocates. That it’s important not to stand back and let others be our voice. It’s important to join in.
Reading this book once again shows the divide. I found my heart aching. I found that I was frustrated over the unfairness of cultural division. I found myself cheering for these characters as they succeeded in achieving their dreams. Many things that they endured, I could relate to. On the other hand, try as I may, everyone’s experience is unique and to learn about some of Portland’s Black history, the horrific discrimination, the very real disparity between neighborhoods and educational opportunities, community services, and media attention is, frustrating. Frustrating because we live in a world where this happens ever second of the day and few people do anything about it.
There was a lot to absorb in this novel. Mia brings out an extremely valid point: Why can’t the media report on the fantastic things going on at our school? The media doesn’t hesitate to point out all the bad, but there also doesn’t seem to be room for good. (In this novel, I question the handling of this by the principal. He had the opportunity to show the world the successful graduates, but seems to cancel the media, since they don’t show up.)
What I love about this novel is that it’s an opportunity for dialogue. We need diverse books. The more that become available and students are encouraged to read within classrooms, the more we bridge a space for communication and understanding.
This book hits on some tough issues. Black and White relationships, poverty, violence. It’s a critical step. But let it have meaning and purpose. Share it, discuss it. I’ll be recommending this to everyone!
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing the ARC.