Book Review: “I Was Here” by Gayle Forman

Book Reviews

Cody and Meg were inseparable…
Until they weren’t.

When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com

I generally don’t read what is “popular” or “well-received by the critics” when it comes to my novels of choice. It took me quite a long time to get up the nerve to read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. So it was with Gayle Forman’s novels. Known by her novel duets like, “If I Stay” and “Where She Went,” and “Just One Day” and “Just One Year,” Gayle Forman is a master of bitter and sweet. The “Just One Day” duet novels were easily some of my favorite reads of 2014.

She has dealt with a lot of hard issues about growing up in her prior books, and “I Was Here” dealt with one of the hardest issues a person can deal with: suicide. And being the one left behind.

Suicide has touched so many lives, and broken so many families. It certainly is one of the hardest things to experience, and leaves the brightest scar.

Like so many others, I’ve been one of those people left behind when someone has decided to end their life. Going through the journey of “I Was Here,” for me as a reader it was cathartic and left me with so many questions—and answers— about the suicide that affected my life several years ago.

This novel is classified as a mystery, but that is only a small portion of the overall story arc. Poignant and bittersweet, this is probably Gayle Forman’s grittiest book yet. She is an excellent wordsmith, and one of the finest young adult writers of this generation.

"I can keep picking small fights, or brave the big one."-Gayle Forman, #IWasHere

For more information about Gayle Forman, visit:

http://gayleforman.tumblr.com/

So You Want To Be A Writer: Harvesting Inspiration

So You Want To Be A Writer, Weekly Features, Weekly Novel Writing Inspiration

I usually post a photography feature for novel writing inspiration, and I would like to share my thoughts on how inspiration in the form of a snapshot can become a window into something spectacular.

todays pick ... hot off the bench ... upscaled vintage bottles

There are countless ways to bottle inspiration. Reading a Jane Austen book, going for a walk along the Seine, watching an Italian film, or a whirlwind romance with a handsome stranger you met in Trafalgar Square. I’m asked quite often, “Where does inspiration come from?”

My answer, “I harvest it.”

Surrounded for Illuminations

That usually stumps the inquirer.

eloise

Many writers are faced with this question daily. Where does inspiration come from?

Lion

Can you buy it in a store, like bread and eggs? Is it a commodity to invest in? Or is it simply a far away muse that can only be tapped into if the diva allows it?

Umbrella

Inspiration for writers, both young and old, is not tangible. It is different for each person. We experience the world through a pair of eyes, and a pair of hands. Photography has provided a glorious window for a moment in time to be captured, and many authors will say a certain photo grabbed them so intensely that they wrote an entire book trying to explain it all.

The flea

Lois Lowry, who is most famous for writing “The Giver” was inspired by bunch of unwanted photos in an antique store, that she purchased them all and wrote a book surrounded the exact photos she’d found. That book became “The Silent Boy.” And although inspiration, like love, can’t be bought, but it can be found in the strangest of places.

Estudio Domus

Where would J.K. Rowling be if she hadn’t ridden on that train and found the nucleus of the Harry Potter series dropped into her lap?

It all ends.

Where would Stephenie Meyer be without the dream about an ordinary human girl falling in love with a vampire?

Haha

Where would most of the publishing world be without these tiny sparks of inspiration?

Fairy Tales

Photography allows me to “harvest” inspiration in the forms of little scenes, captured in time. One day, it may be the right time, the right moment, when a pretty picture could spark the beginnings of a book idea.

Lady Bannon of Berwick

Harvest your inspiration like you harvest love.

Sow the seeds and search out your inspiration in the beautiful world out there, and you’ll reap inspiration in the most unlikely places.

:)

Review: Unsinkable by Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway

Book Reviews

Unsinkable: A memoir

Debbie Reynolds

and Dorian Hannaway

Library Copy

Grade: ***

Unsinkable: A Memoir

“Unsinkable is the definitive memoir by film legend and Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds.

Actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer Debbie Reynolds shares the highs and lows of her life as an actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, anecdotes about her lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and her experiences as the foremost collector of Hollywood memorabilia, and intimate details of her marriages and family life with her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.

A story of heartbreak, hope, and survival, “America’s Sweetheart” Debbie Reynolds picks up where she left off in her first memoir, Debbie: My Life.

Unsinkable is illustrated with previously unpublished photos from Reynolds’s personal collection.”

—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com

This memoir was highly anticipated for me. Having read Debbie Reynolds’s earlier memoir from the 1980s, I didn’t believe she could write much more on her life—having had quite a full life already!

From her earliest days at the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios, she was that “cute” kid with the really high voice that could do impersonations of famous actors. She had been through several divorces, multiple scandals, earned and lost millions, and worked with some of the most legendary stars of the silver screen. My first encounter with her acting work was in “Singin’ in the Rain” starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.

This memoir was a bit jumbled in its presentation, beginning with what happened since her last memoir, then working from her beginnings at MGM to her most recent movie. I loved the little anecdotes that were missing since the first memoir, but all in all it seemed like a very long-winded rant on how she has been wronged by all her ex-husbands, and is a bit boastful on how “she came out on top” but everyone should still feel sorry for her because she lost all of her money. I get it. Her marriages were not the best. But using that as the only fuel you have to write another memoir doesn’t make for an excellent tome of your life.

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Reviews

The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater

Library Copy

(****)

cover, young adult, series, fantasy books

Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble.

—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.

The Raven Boys, like every other Maggie Stiefvater novel, was highly anticipated by librarians, readers, and booksellers alike. I knew next to nothing about it, but requested it at my library nonetheless. I hadn’t liked her last book, The Scorpio Races, very much even though the premise was wonderful. With The Raven Boys I enjoyed it far better, as the pace wasn’t muddled and the plot lines were much clearer.

As with all of Maggie Stiefvater’s writings, again with this one I felt “something” was missing from the prose. I have yet to pin down exactly what that “something” is, but I had noticed that it was missing when I read the Shiver series, and again with the Scorpio Races. The closest that I could possibly say that “something” would be is a fullness of character, and character settings. Like there are only four or five characters in the entire world throughout each book, and no other life exists outside of this little world inside the book. Where in their world there are no grocers or bankers, or families or other friends in school, or secondary characters that might add a fuller sense of place.

The one book of hers that I noticed had a bit more fullness than the others was Linger, and mainly that had to do with Cole St. Clair’s storyline adding to the Grace and Sam storyline.

The premise of The Raven Boys was unique, and not something you usually see in today’s Young Adult Fiction market. With that being said, I cannot wait for my copy of The Dream Thieves, the second book in the Raven Cycle.

Review: Phantom by Laura DeLuca

Book Reviews, Writer Wednesday

Phantom

Laura DeLuca

Advance Review Copy

Grade: *

Grading Scale: 1 (*) – 5 Stars (*****)

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.
 
Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.
Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.
—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.

This book had a lot of potential. There was a potential for a great interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera, but the way it was carried out was a bit clumsy, and a little too reverent to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of the story. When they referenced the musical, or were singing from the musical, none of the song lyrics were from the show at all. I’m guessing they were excerpts from the original story by Gaston Leroux, but it felt…off. I can understand from a business standpoint why an independent press might not want to take on the financial aspect of using lyrics from the copyrighted show. I felt that should have been taken into consideration when referencing the show almost exclusively in the text. Using made-up lyrics when Becca and Justyn are singing for example, Point of No Return, was something that should not have happened.

“Lord Justyn” only had one or two good lines in his dialogue, and the rest seemed pretentious and overbearing, like he knew he was trying too hard to be a Byronic-style hero. He was a brooding, stereotypical Goth high school student, who practiced Paganism and wore only black. I wanted a little bit of a variation from this stereotype, and truly wanted to like Justyn. But he was too flat and one-dimensional to be relatable, and his lifestyle as a Pagan was one-dimensional as well. Instead of showing the reader that Paganism wasn’t all black cats and pentagrams, it seemed to do the opposite in my opinion, by seeming a bit comical.

Becca, the heroine of this novel, reminded me a bit of Bella Swan from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. She had her good moments, but those didn’t outweigh the terribly cliched areas of her character.

The plot had an interesting twist near the end, and that justified some of the moments that dragged, but I really wanted to like this interpretation more than I had. I felt that the publishing company could have presented this novel in a better way and might have possibly hindered any sort of positive reception to the book by their choice of cover and cover artist in the edition I received. I had to use a black book cover over the design because it was so distracting. A reader’s first impression of a book is always the cover, and this one wouldn’t have made me pick it up off the shelf if I saw it in a library or in a bookstore.

Even if this interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera wasn’t what I expected, I think I would give this author another try anyway.

Visit Author Laura DeLuca’s Website

http://authorlauradeluca.blogspot.com/

Review: “Beautiful Days” by Anna Godberson

Book Reviews

Beautiful Days: A Bright Young Things Novel by Anna Godberson

  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • Source: Library Copy

For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.

After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.

Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.

Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the second book in an epic series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

—Summary Courtesy of Amazon.com

I love the premise of this series: the roaring twenties, booze, jazz, and flappers in New York City. It’s a refreshing view of a time gone by and one that isn’t addressed to often in Young Adult fiction. What I didn’t like, however, was something that could have been avoided:

I get the story lines of the Bright Young Things series mixed up with The Flappers series by Jillian Larkin. Why? The story lines are so similar, I don’t know which character was disgraced and humiliated at which party or who was the daughter of a bootlegger or which one is an aspiring night club singer. Because the story lines from the two series are so similar, I don’t feel each one will get the due that they deserve.

Beautiful Days could have used more of a climactic ending than the one that was written, but the characters are interesting in all of their 1920s glory. The character voices would be more realistic if they evolved into individual voices, because the alternating chapters all sound and read exactly the same. I would love to see how Anna Godberson pursues this series and if so, how differently it will turn out from The Flappers series.

Book Trailer Thursday! “Struck” by Jennifer Bosworth

Book Trailer Thursday, Weekly Features

Once Upon a Twilight

Book Trailer Thursday is a weekly feature started by Once Upon A Twilight, and features a book trailer for a new or upcoming release! Please post links to your own BTTs in the comments!

 “Struck” by Jennifer Bosworth

Book Trailer Thursday!

Book Trailer Thursday, Weekly Features

Once Upon a Twilight

Book Trailer Thursday is a weekly feature started by Once Upon A Twilight, and features a book trailer for a new or upcoming release! Please post links to your own BTTs in the comments!

“Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue

Interview with Jus Accardo, Author of “TOUCH”

Author Interviews

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, TOUCH and what
compelled you to write this particular story?

TOUCH is about a seventeen year old girl who lives to piss off her cold
and distant dad. She brings home a guy she meets after a party one night
in hopes of getting her dad’s attention–and it does. Just not the way she
expected.

As for what compelled me…nothing particular, really. My brain just spits
random ideas out. I was sitting on line, waiting for coffee, and got this
image of a girl being chased through the woods. She’s barefoot and the
ground dies as she runs.

What first drew you to writing paranormal romance?

I’ll read anything with a good story and compelling characters, but my
first love is paranormal. It seemed like a natural fit.

If you could cast your characters for the movie version of TOUCH who
would you pick to play Kale and Dez?

Dez would totally be Avril Lavigne and Kale… When i was writing TOUCH I
pictured him as a young Ben Barnes, but after seeing the cover, I want
that guy. Whoever he is, he’s perfection!

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

I usually sit down to work between 6 and 7 a.m. I’ll write most days until
12 and then take a break to run errands. I’m usually back in front of my
machine by 3 and I stay there till midnight at the least. On a normal day,
I average between 4 and 10 k a day give or take.

What are some of the other projects you have written?

Well, I have some early things that aren’t fit for my dogs to read, and I
have some later books–the trilogy that Denazen and Marshal Cross were
actually born from–that I’d love to revisit and rewrite. I’m also working
on the first book in a new paranormal series, but it’s too early to talk
about that yet 🙂

Are there any scenes in  that were inspired by true events?

There’s a bear scene that was inspired by real events. Other than that,
there’s none I can think of. There were a few scenes inspired by music,
though.

How do you feel about the yearly tradition of NaNoWriMo? Have you ever
participated in it and do you have any advice for those currently in the
early stages of it?

I usually do it. I’m going to try this year, but things are a little
crazy. My advice would be set yourself a schedule and stick to it. Every
word counts (There are NO small word counts!). Each one brings you closer
to your goal. So you only got 200 words today? So? Who cares? That’s 200
closer you are to 50k. Keep moving forward! And good luck!

Were there any books you read as a child that affected you directly as a
writer today?

All of S.E. Hinton’s books and Mary Stanton’s The Heavenly Horse From the
Outermost West were the big ones.

Do you have plans for a sequel to TOUCH?

Oh, hell yes 🙂 TOXIC, the second book in the series is with my editor
now. I’m planning to start book three in a few weeks.

What would you say to any potential readers out there that are interested
in reading TOUCH?

If you love a strong heroine who doesn’t need to a white knight to swoop
in and save her, and a hero that’s both sweet and innocent while being
utterly badass at the same time, TOUCH is for you 🙂

—————————————————————————————-

Author Bio:

Jus Accardo is the author of YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy
fiction. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her
husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald. Her first book,
Touch, is due out in November 2011 from Entangled Publishing. She is
represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Touch Blurb:

“When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet,
seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity
to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue
eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower,
is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll
turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up,
wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez
realizes there’s more to this boy – and her father’s “law firm” – than she
realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation – an organization devoted
to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons –
his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. Dez and Kale team up
with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re
caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez
has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.”

Title: Touch by Jus Accardo
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
ePub ISBN: 978-1-937044-44-2
Print ISBN: 978-1-937044-45-9
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Buy Links:

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Denazen-Novel-Book-1/dp/1937044459/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320098205&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/touch-jus-accardo/1105812249?ean=9781937044459&itm=1&usri=touch%2bby%2bjus%2baccardo

Website: http://www.jusaccardo.com/

Blog: http://www.jusaccardo.com/category/blog/

Book Trailer Thursday!

Book Trailer Thursday, Weekly Features

Once Upon a Twilight

Book Trailer Thursday is a weekly feature started by Once Upon A Twilight, and features a book trailer for a new or upcoming release! Please post links to your own BTTs in the comments!

“Forever” by Maggie Stiefvater