Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: As I Descended

Title As I Descended
Author Robin Talley
Release Date September 6, 2016

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28218948-as-i-descended
Review

I wasn't sure that I wanted to write a review on As I Descended. I always have a harder time writing about books I like. I'd much rather just shove the book in your hands and say, "Here, read this! You'll understand why afterwards." Not a very effective way to spread the book love.

As I Descended is a modern day re-telling of Macbeth. It was queer. It was diverse. It was creepy. It was awesome. Robin Talley totally nailed it. This was seriously everything I wanted in a book that I didn't know I was missing.

So that's my totally not a real review for this book. Read it. It's worth it!

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: One Was Lost

Title One Was Lost
Author Natalie D. Richards
Release Date October 4, 2016
ISBN 9781492615743
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

While on a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts off Sera and three classmates from their group with no way to call for help. But they’re not as alone as they thought…

Someone is stalking them through the woods. Someone who drugged them, stole their supplies, and wrote on their skin. Is it a judgement? A warning? If Sera doesn’t uncover the truth, it’s only a matter of time before the hunter finds her.

After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her third novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28321033-one-was-lost

An Excerpt


No one said anything about rain in the brochures. Not that there were brochures. There was a handwritten sign-up sheet in the cafeteria, followed by permission slips recycled from ghosts of field trips past. I’m not really sure why I was expecting a world-class production. Must be the director in me. I stumble under the weight of my pack, sloshing through a puddle. Cold water oozes through my boots and socks. So much for Mr. Walker’s plastic ponchos keeping us dry. I guess after six straight hours of rain, dry is relative anyway. “I hope you packed your dirty clothes in the plastic bags I handed out last night,” Mr. Walker booms from the front of the line. “They might stink, but they’ll be dry.” The other girls cringe a little at the idea—all except Ms. Brighton, our younger, cooler teacher guide. She’s very Zen about these things, nodding along in her crystal earrings and mud-dyed Gaia Mother T-shirt. I’m in the last half of the group, behind Jude with his ever-present earbuds and imperious gaze. Since I’m five-two, the back of his poncho is about all I can see, but it’s better than looking at Lucas. Anything’s better than looking at Lucas.

Even behind me, I can feel him. Looming. Everyone’s tall measured against me, but Lucas is ridiculous. He towers. If there were actually a sun to be found in this Appalachian monsoon, his shoulders would cast a shadow you could hide two of me in. I have no idea what you have to eat to grow like that. Corn? Eggs? Small children?

I trudge onward, slowing to shift my backpack. The right strap is digging a painful trench into my shoulder, and I can’t find a way to move it. My poncho slips with the effort, and a river of icy water slithers down my back.

“Holy crap!” I say, arching in a futile effort to escape.

“Keep moving, Spielberg,” Lucas says behind me.

I grit my teeth and walk on. If I respond, I might have to look at him, and I’ve worked very hard not to do that. I’ve not looked for sixty-two days. It’s a pretty good track record. I’m not going to wreck it just because he ended up on my Senior Life Experience Mission. At the last possible minute, no less.

“Is this really top speed for you?” he asks, sounding like he’s on the verge of a laugh.

I stare at the line of backpacks and ponchos ahead of me, resist­ing the urge to snap back at him. I need to be the bigger person here. It’s not like I don’t know why he’s picking at me.

“Still sticking with the silent treatment?” he asks. “Gotta give it to you, you’re committed. Slow-moving as shit but committed.”

OK, I’m bigger personed out.

I whirl around. I shouldn’t—I know I shouldn’t—but the words blurt out. “Newsflash, Lucas! I’m moving as fast as I can. Not all of us are loping around with giraffe legs like you, so if you’re in such a rush, feel free to move ahead.”

He steps closer, and it happens. I see him. Really see him.

Fricking crap.

He tilts his head until his face is visible inside his plastic hood. How does he do it? He’s just as wet and miserable as the rest of us, but somehow, he’s owning the hell out of a poncho that makes me look like I need a zip tie and a trip to the curb.

I should walk away, at least look away. Lucas is all sharp lines and hooded eyes, and I should have learned my lesson. Because standing here brings me right back to that night on the porch. My ears go buzzy with the memory of crickets singing and the backdrop of the cast party inside. My face tingles because I remember other things too—his scratchy jaw and soft mouth and my heart beating faster than it ever should.

My gaze drifts to his smirk and lead pools in my stomach. That’s what I’m really mad about. It’s not his teasing or the rain or anything else. It’s the fact that he turns me into the same flut­tery mess I was all summer. He still turns me into my mother, and I hate it.

I try to move away, but he catches the edge of my poncho— keeps me facing him. “Huh.”

I cross my arms. “Huh, what?”

“Look who suddenly remembers me,” he says softly.

“Don’t.”

“I won’t,” he says, though his grin needs a parental advisory label. “I didn’t then, did—”

Lightning flashes, bright enough that we both jerk.

One Mississippi.
Two Mississ—

The sound that follows is like the sky being torn in two. It ends with a bone-deep rumble that rattles the ground and bunches my spine. I close my eyes and take a breath, yoga-slow. It doesn’t cleanse anything, so I try another.

Across from me, Lucas is searching the sky. I take the oppor­tunity to turn and bolt ahead on the trail. Not that there’s anywhere to go. Away from him is good enough.

I plow into Jude’s back in my eagerness to escape. He spares me one millisecond of irritation, and then he’s back to pretending we’re all part of the scenery.

The trail widens here, or maybe the forest is less dense. Who knows? It gives me enough room to move past Jude until I’m next to Emily, my tent mate for the last two nights.

Emily looks back at me—a sparkle of dark eyes under her poncho—and her mouth twitches. Is she smiling at me? That’s new.

“Some trip, right?” I ask.

She ducks her head. And that’s as close to a conversation as we’ve gotten. I sigh. We have three more days of awkwardness in the woods. Three. More. Days.

“Hold up.” Mr. Walker is ultra-alert. “Everybody stay right here. Don’t move.”

Pre-Order Links


Letter from Natalie Richards

Dear Reader,

It’s hard to believe One Was Lost is finally here. It feels weird to admit that I’ve been desperately looking forward to scaring you all and keeping you up way past your bedtimes, but it’s the truth. And now that it’s finally out in the world, I just can’t wait to hear what you all think! I mean, after you get some sleep of course. I’m not that impatient.

As a writer with my fourth book hitting the shelves, I can say each new release has its own special brand of excitement. Each story has elements that you cherish and characters you love. But One Was Lost wasn’t like any of my other books. Writing this book was a whole new ball game.

The truth behind One Was Lost is that my father died a few months before I started writing it. He was my inspiration for writing as a child and easily one of my closest friends throughout my life. Losing him was like having my foundation knocked sideways. My grief felt oceans deep and I was lost in the roll of every wave. It was brutally difficult.

For anyone who’s met me and knows what a class clown I am, I’ll confess 2015 was one of the least funny years of my life. Still, when I sat down to write One Was Lost, I knew I had something special. These characters were speaking to me like characters never had. This story was at a roiling boil in my head—but, could I really write it?

Doubt plagued me in those first days. Could I still remember how to get lost in a story? Could I get it right when I was still struggling so much? Most importantly, could I still be the writer I used to be?

The answer was quick and a little terrifying. No.

I couldn’t go back to the writer I was before. Losing someone incredibly important to you changes you. There is a new normal you must adjust to, and that new normal doesn’t fade away after the funeral is done and over.

My new normal proved to be a very powerful force in my writing life. One Was Lost forced me to face fears I might have danced around in other books. I had no choice but to dive more deeply than ever before. My new perspective had me spend more time than usual learning about these new characters. Trying to understand them. Hurting with them and fearing with them.

I didn’t just lose myself in One Was Lost, I drowned in it. I fell so deeply into this book that at times it was difficult to resurface to do normal, mundane not-lost-and-terrified-in-the-forest things. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more in love with characters in any of my stories, and I’m absolutely sure I’ve never been happier with the way a book has turned out.

It is my dearest hope that you’ll all get a little lost in this book too. Sometimes even the scariest things can bring out strength and goodness we never believed possible. And it is just that reason that One Was Lost is a book I’m so particularly proud of and excited to share with you.

Happy Reading!
Natalie


About the Author

After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her third novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.

Author Links

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Giveaway

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Shelter from the Storm

Title Shelter from the Storm
Series Ikana College, book 2
Author J. D. Brick
Release Date April 19, 2016

The epic love story that began in Tangled Up in Blue (Ikana College #1) continues in Shelter from the Storm:

​​College students Keegan and Blue find themselves at the center of a storm of their own making.​ Blue ​is called to account for his actions ​when he w​as a soldier in Afghanistan. He tries to do the right thing. But almost overnight​, he is enveloped in a raging controversy that threatens the well-being of everyone close to him, especially the girl he so desperately loves.

As their relationship is put to a thunderous test, Keegan and Blue take comfort in each other. Every choice they make, though, comes at a cost. Lies are exposed. Vengeance is taken. But the demands of justice and the merciless machinations of fate seem to offer no escape.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29968273-shelter-from-the-storm
Review

I enjoyed this book more than Tangled Up in Blue. It was certainly a satisfying conclusion to Keegan and Blue's story.

This time around Keegan and Blue's story felt less sickly sweet, instalove-like. It felt like an improvement to me. Things still felt intense between them and they felt very much in love, but it felt more solid and realistic than before.

I really enjoyed seeing everything come to a head in Shelter from the Storm.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 stars