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Friday, April 29, 2016

EVERY EXQUISITE THING by Matthew Quick \\ Quick But Powerful Read...

Review by Sara...


EVERY EXQUISITE THING
by Matthew Quick
Grade Level: 10 and up
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown (May 31, 2016)
Language: English

Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens. 

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

WOW. What a book. This one pleasantly surprised me. I enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook but it was not one of my all time favorite books. It was a tough story to read. Matthew Quick keeps true to form and does not shy away from hard topics.

This is the story of Nanette O'Hare, a high school teenager simply going through the motions of her life, drifting through each day doing simply what is expected of her. One day, out of nowhere, one of her favorite teachers gives her a copy of a cult classic book, The Bubblegum Reaper. This book ends up changing Nanette's life. She becomes obsessed with finding the author and when she does, they become immediate friends. Nanette also meets a troubled poet and she starts on a journey towards discovering who she really is and her place in the world.

Quick has an uncanny talent for writing and developing amazingly complex and beautiful characters. The characters in this story are what make this story stand out. Nanette is such a misfit and difficult character that I fear not everyone will connect with her. She had so many expectations placed on her that it was suffocating. She had to come out of her shell and figure out what she wanted for herself.

The fact that Quick explored the additional topics of teen bullying, grief, family breakdown and social dynamics and isolation were incredibly refreshing. He talked about privilege being a type of weight around Nanette's neck, constantly being held over her. I can't remember the last time an author chose to take on that topic.

Overall, Quick hit it out of the park with this book. This was a 4.5 star read for me. It was a quick read, but a powerful read. I hope everyone adds this to their TBR if it isn't already there.


@gingerlyreview

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston \\ Positive Story About An Amazing Support System..

Review by Kaitlin...

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR
By E.K. Johnston
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (March 15, 2016)
Language: English

“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.


Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.
 

Exit, Pursued By a Bear started off calmly. The first 45-ish pages helped add some early development for the characters and I was able to get a feel for their personalities. For one thing, Hermione's love for cheerleading and dedication to her team was apparent. There was an early look at her and Polly's strong friendship, too. I really liked seeing this "before" part of Hermione's life! It was so normal.

Until it wasn't.

The book became so heartbreaking when Hermione was raped. (It happened off page, so there's scene depicting the assault.) I cried with the characters! The first hospital scene was a stark contrast to the first part of the book, which was kinda the point. Normalcy can be yanked away at any moment and you have to work your way back to a new sense of normal. And not just for one person. This book showed how deeply people are affected by rape--not just the person that was assaulted, but parents, friends, classmates, police officers, nurses, and many more. This seems like a no duh sort of thing because of course it does, but I really liked how the book showed this. A lot of people's reactions as well as Hermione's reactions to those were showcased. More than just the core group of characters reacted. Sometimes it was a small reaction, but nevertheless, it added something extra to the story.

Hermione received a ton of support. It was amazing! She was surrounded by it! As the author wrote in a note, "This is not standard procedure. Many rape victims are isolated, unable to ask for the help they need much less receive it." The fact that Hermione wasn't highlighted makes the story even more important to me. I've noticed the isolation that characters have felt in other books and it's nice to read a book that focuses so much on support. It's important to read stories where characters felt isolated, were surrounded by support, and everything in between.

All that support wasn't the only thing that made this book a positive one (despite the heartbreaking scenes). Religion was touched on. There was a LGBT element. Abortion and options were also highlighted in a very positive way. AND THERAPY. There was an openness and willingness to it that was refreshing to see. The cheerleading focus added even more positivity since it was such a big part of Hermione's life and the story. I was really happy with how much good I found in this book. Even though it is heartbreaking, all the positivity made it heartwarming as well.

My only complaint is that I wish I learned more about the supporting characters. The book would've felt more full if they stood out more. I don't have much to say about them! Polly and Hermione were GREAT, though. I loved how Hermione confronted people about their reactions to her. And Polly is just plain awesome. Not only was she always there for Hermione, but because she had a great personality. I really loved their friendship! It did change a little, but that was because it was their senior year and that happens. It stayed strong, though.


Overall, Exit, Pursued By a Bear was a positive story about the amazing support you can find from friends and family that surround you. Yes, it's also about sexual assault, but support, love, friendship, growth, and healing all had a larger emphasis. I loved this one and I highly recommend reading it! 4.5 pieces!



Kaitlin

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

THE ROSE & THE DAGGER Release Day Blitz + A GIVEAWAY


I am so excited that THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Renée Ahdieh, be sure to check out all the details below, and if you're desperately waiting to hear if it's as good as The Wrath and The Dawn, check out Andye & I's review from last week!

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN and a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER and an awesome candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only!  So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


Title: THE ROSE & THE DAGGER
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks 

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Praise for The Rose and the Dagger:

“Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love… In a story about stories, love is ‘the power to speak without words.’ Thrillingly full of feeling.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fiery romance, a spirited heroine, shifting loyalties… With more than a few heartrending twists and turns.”—Booklist 


Excerpt:







About Renée:
Renée lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, she likes to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.

She’s also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of theScience Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.












Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN, a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER, and a His Calipha candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only.


Ends on May 3rd at Midnight EST!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN \\ Excerpt and Q&A with Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen 
by Roshani Chokshi
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (April 26, 2016)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.
“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones”


Q & A with Roshani Chokshi

What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why? 

For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales? What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? 

Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.


Let's talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more? 

The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.

What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write? 

Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.

Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song? 

Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”

What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED? 

LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.

What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel? 

Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.

How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED? Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks! 

Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.

What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED? 

I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.

What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with? 

I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.

About the Author

ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at www.roshanichokshi.com.


Monday, April 25, 2016

DOWN WITH THE SHINE by Kate Karyus Quinn \\ Top 10 Author Wishes (with GIFs) + A GIVEAWAY

By Becca...


Today, I welcome Kate Karyus Quinn, author of Another Little Piece and her upcoming book DOWN WITH THE SHINE, on the first day of Irish Banana's Down With The Shine Blog Tour! Thank you so much Hannah and Kate! This was such a fun post to collaborate on, and I'm excited to persuade EVERYONE to read this epic book! Check out Kate's guest post below, where she lists her TOP 10 AUTHOR WISHES (with GIFs), a la Down with the Shine style, and then stick around for an awesome giveaway!


DOWN WITH THE SHINE
by Kate Karyus Quinn
Age Range: 13 and up
Grade Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Teen (April 26, 2016)
Language: English

There's a reason they say "be careful what you wish for." Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for "balls of steel" and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it's too late-after she brings some of her uncles' moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn't mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles' moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their "important family legacy," she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can't be unmade... 



ABOUT KATE KARYUS QUINN: Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol chapstick addict. She has lived in California and Tennessee, but recently made the move back to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, with her husband and two children in tow. She promised them wonderful people, amazing food, and weather that would... build character. Another Little Piece is her first novel.


TOP 10 AUTHOR WISHES...

I wish that...

1. ...everyone will read and love all of my books.



2. ...the words for new stories will come quickly and easily.


3. ...my dog will learn to be my receptionist so I don't have to be bothered by pesky phone calls.


4. ...a Starbucks will open up in my kitchen. In return for allowing them to stay, I get free lattes for life. 


5. ...my house will magically clean itself.


6. ...I'll have tons of time to read lots and lots of other books.


7. ...every single one of my new book ideas will be amazing.


8. ...all the non-readers in the world will suddenly realize the addictive page-turning awesomeness that can be found inside a book and become huge book nerds.


9. ...my books will truly touch or move someone, the way other books have touched me.


10. ...I'll get tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway. Okay, this isn't actually related to being an author. I just really really really want to see Hamilton.