Wednesday, December 28, 2011

REVIEW: Fury by Shirley Marr

by Shirley Marr (website)
Released: 05.01.2010
277 pages
Publisher: Black Dog Books (website)
Source: received on loan from Go Aussie Book Tours/The Unread Reader and Irresistible Reads
Note: This is an Australian title not released yet in the U.S.  Please don't confuse it with the Elizabeth Miles book with the same title.  Both covers have a similar color scheme.

Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

Gripping, funny, dark and shocking.  Welcome to the mind of a modern Furious girl (from GoodReads).

REVIEW: Oh, how I love me a good YA that's not afraid to 'go there'.  The Land of YA Go There is a brilliant place made of intelligence, intrigue, and things lost, protected and avenged.  It's the place where the stories are self-contained but also relate to societal issues at large.  It's the fabled destination that provokes reaction and conversation. Written with sarcastic wit and caustic observation, Shirley Marr's darkly humored and timely Fury is one of the most memorable and sophisticated YA offerings I've read in 2011.

Welcome to the Real Housewives of the O.C., Adolescent Aussie Edition.  Eliza Boans is a rich, snobby, high school alpha female, and she makes no bones about it.  She lives in a uber wealthy, uber exclusive, gated enclave.  She has the best of the best of everything and knows it.  And she positively oozes with sarcastic observations about her world and herself.  Consider:

 "I'm the last person that anyone would have suspected.  I'm just Lizzie, typical teenager.  I'm all about angst, attitude, designer labels and cupcakes.  I want to grow up and do something cool with my life, such as build an orphanage in a third world country like all those saintly Hollywood celebrities.  That or, like, cause a scandal and become megafamous.  Everyone knows that's how you get noticed these days."
-page 2

Her detached but spot-on observations about things are really what made me like her.  While not a likable character in the 'girl-next-door' sense, her intelligence, brutal honesty and fierce loyalty for her friends will coax your admiration for her.  Her brattiness, arrogance and territorial tendencies will leave you exasperated.  As you read more, you may even feel some degree of compassion for her, but the worst of her actions might leave you shocked.  Straight up, she's a killer.  And she doesn't regret it.

The plot is gourmet.  Eliza's voice hooks you from the beginning and takes you through a series of present conflicts and past reflections that reveal a complex story of family history, grudges and regrets, fierce loyalties and bitter rivalries that teenage female friendship uniquely produces, and the highs and pitfalls of wealth and influence.  You could read this book a number of different ways but you would be doing it an injustice if didn't acknowledge its satirical observations on status and celebrity.  Whereas Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games offers commentary on our modern world through dystopian violence, Marr does it with moody humor and vengeance.  Marr has a real knack for playing characters off one another, effectively using flashback, and incorporating both minor and major twists.  There is a great quid pro quo competition between Eliza and the shrink assigned to handling the murder case that will have you think, "Who the hell is in charge here?"  And you know what?  The events leading up to the murder. . . I never saw it coming.  And I completely get where Eliza is coming from.

A delicious and heartbreaking mix of loyal friendship, vengeance, gossip, entitlement, and the surrealism of status and wealth.  Fury incorporates all these into a fast-moving, intrigue-laden stew that will have you saying, "I want more."

TO PURCHASE: Fury is an Australian copy not available outside of Australia.  Please go to to purchase a copy with FREE SHIPPING!

***In mythology, furies were goddesses of vengeance.

"I remembered the first time I heard my parents arguing.  As a five-year-old. standing right where I was right now.  That's when my mother started drinking.  That's when my dad starting coming home less, until one day he never came back at all."
page 103

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

GIVEAWAY: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Hey Everyone!  Today is the paperback release of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  It's book one of the All Souls Trilogy (book two, Shadow of Night, is set to publish in the summer).  This book got huge buzz when it first released in hardback back in February and debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list (Warner Brothers has also acquired the screen rites).

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism  (from GoodReads).

I have not read this book just yet (but I will be!), but here are links to Ms. Harkness's website (love that name) and to the reviews on GoodReads.  Also, check out this fabulous video of Ms. Harkness giving a walking tour of Oxford and talking about her inspiration for the book:

The fine folks at Penguin have offered a brand spanking new paperback copy of the book to one lucky reader.

So, if you'd like the chance to enter the GIVEAWAY, here's whatchuhavetodo:

  1. Leave a comment with your email address
  2. If you'd like to tweet for an extra entry, please leave a direct link.
That's it!  No follow necessary!  The contest will close on Wednesday, January 4th at Noon EST.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Weekly News Roundup ~ 12.22.2011

In Memoriam
Blog Posts To Note

TV & Movie News
E-reader News

Response to the Amazon Price Check Issue
Other News
And a special thanks to Shelf Awareness for finding and sharing this little jem:

The Elements of Style from Jake Heller on Vimeo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: On A Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: 
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 
I'm finishing up reading an e-galley of On A Dark Wing by Jordan Dane, which releases on 12.27.2011.  I cheated a bit and included four sentences, but. . .  you'll see why.

"She looks ten years younger, don't you think?
I swear, I don't know why people say that.  When someone is seventy-five, does ten years really make a difference?
"Yeah, she looks. . . better." I lied.
How could someone look better dead than alive?

Monday, December 19, 2011

REVIEW: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
by Cath Crowley (blog | website | twitter)
Released: 08.21.2010 (Australia) /will be released: 02.14.2012 (U.S.)
244 pages (AU)/224 (U.S.)
Publishers: Pan Macmillan Australia/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Awards & Recognition: Winner, NSW Premier’s Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature); Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award (Young Adult Fiction)
Source: Go Aussie Book Tours @ The Unread Reader
Pre-order it on Kindle | Hardback

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes (from GoodReads).

REVIEW: Every once in a while a book walks in with magic dancing in almost every sentence:

"'Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?'

In me. Under my skin."

Oh damn, Lucy.  You just made go and miss high school.  I remember that feeling, that one of anticipation, the one you have on a night when anything is possible. 

Right from go, Cath Crowley's language in Graffiti Moon is nothing short of hypnotic.  I haven't seen original descriptions like this in. . .  well, let's just put it this way: I don't think that I have.  You can find quotes you want to write on slips of paper and keep in your pocket for when you need them in almost every chapter.  The language is written in bright colors and secret corners, just like Shadow's art.  The prose is absolutely lyrical and delightful to read.  Do you ever feel like you can reach out and touch a story, like its a painting?  That's Crowley's gift.  You can feel every brush stroke, every painted layer, every single draft as Lucy and Ed breath deep and try to make it through their night together.

The story centers on these two, but it's a six pack as both bring along two sidekicks: Jazz and Daisy for Lucy, Leo and Dylan for Ed.  And, of course, Shadow - we can't forget him - the holy grail of crushes that holds Lucy's heart, and her quest for him is what slides the story along its track, until it Ed forces her off the trail (or did he just help her find another path?).  Early in the night, the two groups inadvertently meet up - Daisy and Dylan are an item, and Jazz has a thing for Leo.  You'd think they'd all be friends, but no, Ed and Lucy are anything but, and Daisy has doubts about Dylan.

Sounds easy, right?  Sounds high school.  Friends, I don't exaggerate when I write that it's so much better than that.  What I particularly like about Crowley's writing is that she incorporates a lot of different versions of love and relationships, of how it changes forms and develops as two people move and grow with each other.  Of how it can become a poison if it's not nurtured and protected, or if it was never really love in the first place.  While primarily a story of two young, talented and wonderful people finding their way through one night with each other, this also is a story that incorporates how families, friends and other loved ones affect us.  The weaving in and out of Ed, Lucy and Leo's narratives is packed with hopeful longing and wistful regret, of certain things viewed in the shadow and then again in the light.

This almost is a perfect book for me.  There is a 'big deal' situation involving Leo, which brings Ed into the fold.  The events leading up to it are well-written, but 'the event' itself felt slightly off to me.  I also was amazed that all six, including the two that came off the least sharp (Daisy and Dylan), seemed so witty.  I kept thinking, "I would have killed to have conversations this good all the time in high school."  As enjoyable as it was, I kept thinking that the perfection and timing of the conversations seemed too perfect at times.  I actually feel a little guilty for even pointing these things out, because Crowley's prose is so incredible that it far outweighs any minor things I noticed.

Three girls, three guys, one night.  That's the story.  But in one night, you get such a full richness of who they are that you'll be racing back through the pages once you're done, picking out your favorite passages. . .  just to catch one more breath of that magical feeling and holding it.  Read this one - it's a true delight.


". . .  and I took off across the night.  Took off under a sky bleeding out and turning black.  Left Dad sitting outside his shed yelling, "I thought you weren't meeting Jazz till later.  Where's the fire, Lucy Dervish?"

In me.  Under my skin."
-Lucy, page 1 (I knew I would fall for the this book after reading that on the first page)

"It isn't the smallness of this place that bothers me.  It's the grey that's worked its way into the walls.  It's the stains on the carpet from some other life that came and left before ours.  Bert always said he'd give me a good deal on paint but some places take burning down and rebuilding to make them shiny."
-Ed, page 10

"Every time he looked at me I felt like I'd touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. In Art class I'd watch him lean back and listen and I was nothing but zing and tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I had nothing in common with a sheddy like him, but a girl doesn't think straight when she's that close to electrocution."
-Lucy, pages 26-27

"First piece I ever did was for her.  A girl with roads and rivers and deserts running across her skin.  Highways on her neck that went all the way cross-country.  Off to the side of her was a guy with the hood of his car up and smoke pouring out of the engine."
-Ed, page 38

Love doesn't make the world go round
Sex makes it spin for a second or two
If you're lucky
So do chips, sausage rolls and girls in short
Lays its fingers on your heart
And holds it
Under water
Remember that
When the next girl smiles"
 -Leo, pages 97-98

"I close my eyes and let the movement take me somewhere else, let walls drop into my head the way they do when I feel space around me.  Maybe later I'll go somewhere and paint the dark that's sitting behind my eyes.  A dark filled with the sounds of the city and her breathing."
-Ed, page 120

Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow Friday!

Question of the Week: When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

I actually haven't done a 'Follow Friday' in a while, but I thought this question was a really important one!  Despite my blog's name, I am not a book hoarder.  I don't like 'stuff' hanging around my house that isn't being used.  I think it's wasteful.  The books I keep are the ones which are precious to me.  Otherwise, I am a clutter-free kind of girl.  I believe in borrowing and giving to my local library.  It's only 10 minutes away from me, and that way, everyone can enjoy the book, me included!  Like, Alison, I also am reluctant to spend money on a book unless I am certain that I'll like it (I married an accountant - we are big on financial literacy and responsibility at my house).  In fact, most of the books I buy are ones that I've borrowed from my library and fell in love with (ex: Saving Francesca, If I Stay, Revolution, The Piper's Son)!  I just ordered a slew of books from Australia because I loved the copies I borrowed off a dear friend (thanks, Missie)!  Otherwise, all the books I buy are for my giveaway pile.

Happy Friday, and thanks to Alison and PJ for the great meme!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Weekly News Roundup ~ 12.15.2011

A Good Cause

  • Help support the endeavor 'Reading is Fundamental' by buying this 'YA Saves' t-shirt designed by author Maureen Johnson.  Johnson is contributing 100% of her profits to the program whose mission is 'to motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8."

Kindle Fire Issues

Amazon Price Checking Issue

Movie & TV News

General News

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (25) + Survey Request!

Hello All!  I know I've been out lately, but please know that I will be retuning to regularly scheduled posts starting the last week of December.  Had a lot of things going on this Fall, and I decided to take a hiatus in order to give priority to them.  Stay tuned - I have reviews coming your way on some awesome Aussie titles, Jenny Downham and more!

Please also consider taking a moment to take my SUPER quick survey at the bottom of this post - it'll help me run a better blog for you!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren with inspiration from Pop Culture Junkie.

This is a great event where we share all the great books we've picked up to read for the week! Please join us in getting to know one another and sharing great reads!  Here's what I got this week . . .

For Review

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
by Alex Gilvarry
(thank you, Penguin/Vikng)

One of the things I realized during my hiatus is that I miss reading a variety of different genres and groups of books.  While my blog will still focus on young adult fiction, I will also be sharing my reactions to different genres of adult fiction, nonfiction and whatever else catches my interest.  To that end, I am looking forward to reading this work by a debut author.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

"High fashion and homeland security clash in a masterful debut.

Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. With dubious financing and visions of Fashion Week runways, he sets up shop in a Brooklyn toothpick factory, pursuing his goals with monkish devotion (distractions of a voluptuous undergrad not withstanding). But mere weeks after a high-end retail order promises to catapult his (B)oy label to the big time, there's a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic Boyet is brought to Gitmo, handed a Koran, and locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot. Now, from his 6' x 8' cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his belief in American justice begins to erode.

With a nod to Junot Diaz and a wink to Gary Shteyngart, Alex Gilvarry's first novel explores some of the most serious issues of our time with dark, eviscerating wit."

Please take the time to fill out my survey on how to make a better blog for you:


Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Post at Reclusive Bibliophile

Hey Everyone,

Ever thought, "If I'd only known then what I know now?"

I got the opportunity to to just that when the wonderful Melanie at Reclusive Bibliophile asked us, ahem, older YA bloggers to participate in her  'Dear Twenty Something Me' series over at her blog.  I just turned 31, and the letter I wrote to my younger self posted today - go over and check it if you get the chance, along with all the other lovely letters.

A warm thanks to Melanie for letting me participate!  And for putting up with my horrible, last minute edits!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox (24)

Hello All!  I know I've been out lately, but please know that I will be retuning to regularly scheduled posts starting the last week of December.  Had a lot of things going on this Fall, and I decided to take a hiatus in order to give priority to them.  Stay tuned - I have reviews coming your way on some awesome Aussie titles, Jenny Downham and more!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren with inspiration from Pop Culture Junkie.

This is a great event where we share all the great books we've picked up to read for the week! Please join us in getting to know one another and sharing great reads!  Here's what I got this week . . .

For Review

 Thumped by Megan McCafferty (thank you, Megan)

Thumped is the sequel to Bumped, which was released in April.  Can't wait to see what happens to Melody and Harmony!

 On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane (thank you, Harlequin Teen & NetGalley)


Signed copy of If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I also was lucky enough to see Gayle Forman in person when she came to speak at the Carnegie Library here in Pittsburgh.  I already own my beloved copies of If I Stay and Where She Went, but I purchased another copy for a future giveaway!

P.S. Her talk?  Informative, beautiful and poignant.  I highly recommend that you go and listen to her speak if you ever get the chance!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Into the Past with "Frost" Author Marianna Baer

Hey Everyone!  I am always happy to host an author, and today we have Marianna Baer, author of Frost, joining us to talk a bit about what she' read throughout the years!  Due to a USPS glitch, I wasn't able to read Frost, but the synopsis makes it sound fabulous, doesn't it?

by Marianna Baer (website)
Released on 09.13.2011
400 pages
Publisher:  Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins (website)

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night? (from GoodReads)

And here we go into the past with Marianna!

Respect thy elders.
Age 5:
My mother read to me and my sister every night when we were little, and the books I remember loving the most from that time are the Little House on the Prairie
 books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I hate to admit that my favorite book in the series was the one where Mary went blind from scarlet fever. A sucker for tragedy even then, I guess!

Age 11:
So many to choose from! One that stands out -- considering the type of book I’m writing now -- is Jane Emily by Patricia Clapp. It’s the most terrifying ghost story, but also has extremely appealing characters, romance, and dark family secrets. I highly recommend it. And I can’t not mention Judy Blume! I loved everything by Blume, especially Then Again Maybe I Won’tAre You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Deenie. I practically memorized those books. (I’ll forever be on the lookout for a nightgown like the one Deenie’s friends gave her, that could sort of change color from pink to purple.)

Age 16:
Hmm… if we’re talking about pure reading enjoyment, I’d probably choose Jane Eyre. (Or, to be honest, Scruples by Judith Krantz.) But reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov blew my mind. I’d never read a book that was so stylistically complex; it completely expanded my idea of what a novel could be. And I loved how subversive it felt to be reading it for English class. I remember reading this one particular passage and thinking, “Wait a minute. Is he really saying what I think he’s saying??”

Age 20:
I’m going to cheat a little bit here and skip forward a couple of years to when I was out of college and pick The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This book had it all for me – murder, relationship drama, twisted characters, secrets. I’d love to read it again for the first time and am jealous of readers who still have it ahead of them!

Okay, so Marianna just added about three or four books to my TBR list!  I want to thank her for joining us today, and I look forward to reading Frost!  To check out other stops in the {Teen} Book Scene tour, go here!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WINNERS ANNOUNCED for Kirsty Eagar's "Raw Blue" & "Saltwater Vampires"

 Hey all!  A huge thanks to those of you who entered my giveaways for both Raw Blue and Saltwater Vampires!  First, up. there was a grand total of 181 entries for Raw Blue.  Number 16 was pulled by, which means the lucky winner of a signed copy of Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar is:

DONNA, from the wonderful blog, The Happy Booker!
Congrats!  I will be contacting your shortly!

Now, onto Saltwater Vampires, which had a total of 118 entries.  The winning number was 71, which means the winner is:

RUMMANAH, the fabulous blogger behind  Books in the Spotlight!

Congrats!  I also will be contacting you shortly!

If you didn't win a copy, fear not!  Even though the publishers here in the States haven't picked up Kirsty Eagar's brand of awesome, that doesn't mean you can't read them!  You can by an e-reader version of Raw Blue here and Saltwater Vampires here.  You can also buy from - looks like free shipping!

"To those who haven't read Raw Blue yet: Find a copy immediately. I know it's tough, being an Australian release and all. But don't let that get in the way. Spend your savings on a plane ticket and buy it from one of our nice Aussie bookshops. Alternatively, you could order it online or coerce an Aussie buddy to mail it to you. The moral of the story - read. this. book."
 Need more convincing?  Check out Carla's recent review of Raw Blue at her blog, The Crooked Bookshelf.  She went ahead and purchased the e-book and read the whole thing in one sitting.  And I quote, "I can tell you guys right now this is probably one of the most intensely beautifully written books i've ever had the pleasure of reading.  I'm going to hit it while it's hot and say it's without a doubt, one of the best books I have EVER read.  EVER. Happy to see this book has an advocate in the U.K.!  And she's not alone!

If you live in the U.K. and want to read Raw Blue, please check out Lesley's blog, My Keeper Shelf.  She has a copy that she's willing loan out to those interested in reading Carly's story (and her review is fabulous)!  If you live in the U.S., the Book Harbinger has some spots left on her tour for Raw Blue (and Six Impossible Things - another only-published-in-Australia book).

For more Raw Blue review goodness, check out the others bloggers' reviews below.  If you like what you read, and you want to advocate for Raw Blue being published in the U.S. (or EVERYWHERE), please grab 'The Case for Carly' code and display the badge on your sidebar:

Thanks, everyone, and happy reading! 

Raw Blue Reviews

"Remember how I said contemporary fiction wasn't my thing? After reading Raw Blue, I can honestly say that this is the epitome of what the genre should be. I've read a lot of books, but Raw Blue is in a league of its own. Raw and real, Kirsty Eagar bottled heartache and let it spill over into the pages of her book, letting the words spin a story that's mesmerizing, heartbreaking and wholeheartedly touching. . .  I give it a firm 5 out of 5, hands down, and I have to say it's probably the best contemporary fiction I've ever read."
i swim for oceans
" Kirsty Eagar does such a fine job of pacing the story and allowing the reader to really take the time to get to know Carly, her past, and what makes her tick, before introducing new characters and new elements. The result was that I was thoroughly on her side for the long haul. . .  Definitely one of the best reads of my year so far."
 "It. Was. Fantastic. The writing, characters, plot, setting, imagery… everything was pure gold and why this isn’t published in North America yet is beyond me. If you ever get a chance, don’t miss out on this one, it is gourmet."
holes in My brain
"I was only a fifth in when I was startled to discover that Carly had gotten under my skin in a way that a literary character hasn't for a very long time. I was crazily invested in her and felt all ripped up and torn inside-out as the novel progressed. I so wanted her to be okay."
"When Eagar’s talent for stunning prose meets a protagonist whom we love despite her best attempts to dissuade us, the result is a beautiful and lingering story that reinfuses life into us. I finished RAW BLUE with an optimistic sense of the immensity of the world, of all the little things that we don’t stop to think about that can impact our lives forever."
Steph Su Reads 
". . .  I'm astounded by the phrasing and poetry of words that this author can write.  We all speak English, at least the books I read, and yet the way Kirsty Eagar puts words together is like hearing them for the first time or painting a picture with new colors you've never seen before.  It amazes me to find an author like that.  And Kirsty Eagar is one of those authors.  But it isn't just about the way she has with words.  It's the story and the characters and the surfing and the ocean.  It's the whole damn book.  It's everything.  I can't pick one thing out of it that I like the best." 
Buried in Books 
"And let me tell you now, you will read this book holding your breath – just hoping – to see a glimpse of the actual Carly. I really feel like she is one of the best written characters I’ve come across."
The Allure of Books
"With its clear, evocative prose, distinctive characterization, and unforgettable imagery, Raw Blue hooked me from its portentous beginning to it’s chillingly perfect and poignant ending. Highly, highly recommended. Now if I could only buy a hard copy."
Book Harbringer

"I don’t know why but I find it so hard to write reviews for books I love. I have been struggling with this review for days now and I don‘t think I will do it the justice it deserves. . .  It was intense, honest and beautiful. It is still lingering in my thoughts."
Irresistible Reads
" Raw Blue can be described in one sole word - powerful. It's a book that examines the tough elements and people in life with a roaring crash tackle. . .  It's a truly impressive debut work - dark, full of turmoil with the occasional cloud break - just like the ocean."
Persnickety Snark

 "It was easy to develop a crush on this book, what with the hotness and the surfing, but as it slowly allowed me into its world, my feelings turned to full-blown love. This book is real and honest with me, and that’s how I know that this isn’t just a summer fling, it’s the real deal. I had to earn this book’s trust, and now that I have, I think we’re ready to spend our lives together under the Australian sun."
Forever Young Adult 
"On page 212 I read the most romantic and sweet thing E.V.E.R.! It is so sweet and simple and real…I wish I could share it with you, but if you haven’t read it I’m hoping this is a push to get you to do so! I literally stopped reading, updated Goodreads, and sat there staring at the page for a few minutes while crying."
The Reading Housewives of Indiana

"Raw Blue is a story that contains a torrent of emotional conflict between its pages, one that handles personal anguish in a delicate and unassuming way so we don't even realize the strength of the connection we've developed with Carly and Ryan until we find ourselves unable to let them go. . . "
Supernatural Snark
"There isn’t a rating to really convey how much this book destroyed me. In the best possible way. My muscles physically ache because of how still and tense I was reading the last half of this book.
There aren’t many books that I can say make me feel like that."
Wear the Old Coat (one of the most unique reviews I've read)

"Raw Blue is full of emotion but I was never overwhelmed because it’s not all pointless teenage angst. You can feel Carly trying to hold everything together and how hard it is for her when things fall apart."
Chachic's Book Nook 
". . .  a part of Carly had seeped into me. She became the type of character I know I will always carry with me. Her bravery, when revealed, was silent, but it was hers and it was full of heart and hope."
The Unread Reader

"Eagar sensitively explores Carly’s pain without exploiting it and as Carly begins to move forward, the author never forces the recovery. It is this visceral realism that engages the reader."
Book'd Out 
"A novel I’m going to recommend to anybody and everybody, Raw Blue will leave readers with a lasting impression and the indelible gift of hope."
Musings of a YA Reader 
". . . it's one that I don't think is going to leave me for a long time. It makes you think, makes you wonder, makes your insides bleed, and then, somehow helps you up, washes your face and makes you stronger and better able to face the world."
Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing 
"The characters were all well-developed. Ryan wasn't the unrealistically perfect love interest you see in a lot of other YAs nowadays, but a real guy, complete with necessary character flaws."
In The Good Books 

"There are a number of vividly painted characters throughout the book, especially some that I personally wouldn't want handling my food in a cafe, ever.  Hannah and Danny are definite faves of mine though.  There were parts in the book where I just cracked up laughing at the dialogue of these pair.  It helps to ease up the darker quality the book slips into."
Spellbound By Books

"So awesome that I can not find the right words to describe this book. This book had so many emotions and so many good characters that I fell in love with it quickly. It also hurt to read the book. Raw Blue is raw. It cuts into your very soul so deep that you can not get out."
Books with Bite 
"Sometimes the descriptions were painfully beautiful, the characters were delightfully flawed, and the dialogue was almost always spot-on." 
The Readventurer

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

REVIEW: Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Blood Wounds
by Susan Beth Pfeffer (website)
Releases on 09.12.2011
256 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (website)
Source: received on loan from Banned Book Tours
Read the first two chapters here.

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.

Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart (from GoodReads).

REVIEW: Willa's life in the beginning is awesome.  A freaking holy grail of a blended family.  Particularly with her stepfather, Jack, and his ex-wife, there seemed to be a real sense of 'do what's best for the girls', the 'girls' being Willa's two stepsisters.  I was actually really happy to see that kind of compatibility for a blended family happen in a book.  Made me think it could be real.  

Too bad it was a setup. 

Blood Wounds, in case you can't tell by the mugshot cover, is not a happy times book.  In fact, I'm surprised that Willa is Miss Mugshot on the cover, because frankly, she's one of two, maybe three, characters who acted with any decency, and the other two were minor characters.  Unless the mugshot is supposed to represent how she consistently gets trapped and bullied by the horrible selfishness of her family.  And for the record, her family is a great big ball of 'you people suck', and that goes for both her blended family and the one she never knew on her biological dad's (and mom's) hometown of SmallTown, Texas.  There is a lot going on in this book, but most of it is undercurrent until about halfway and then it steadily reveals itself all the way through to the end.  You will not get what this book is really about from the synopsis - I thought I'd be reading a book about a girl and her mom on the run from her crazy father for the entire book, with Willa learning family secrets from her mom and facing hard truths along the way.  While they do go into hiding for a short section and while Willa does do the latter in a sense, it's not in the way you think it'll happen.  It's much more about Willa making her peace with a family she never knew, finding her own voice within the family she grew up in, and trying to figure things out by confronting the her mother's past and the facade of perfection that her blended family exudes. 

The plot is steady the whole way through.  There is a moment of anxiety when the cops show up at Willa's house and no one seems to know where her mom is; but otherwise, the plot is pretty even keel and flows on a diet of Willa coming to terms with who her parents are/were, and how she fits into the many family dynamics she has to contend with.  You may have noticed my temper flare a wee little bit in the paragraph above.  That's because I really do not like her blended family.  I get family loyalty, but there was this sneaky sense of, "If you really love me, you'll do things my way" that was always present in conversations and influencing actions.  For the record, such emotional manipulations are not 'love'; they are bulls%$#.  In particular, I really don't like Willa's mother.  To be fair, I didn't really dislike her until the end, and she's an extremely complex person.  Actually, I wouldn't mind reading an 'adult' fiction novel with her as the protagonist.  As much as I didn't like her, she's seemed to have had a difficult life caused both by her own crappy decisions, as well as consequences beyond her control.  I feel like her story and own 'coming-of-age' could be just as significant as Willa's, I didn't really see her come full circle.  Truthfully?  I'm predicting splitsville for her and Jack.  I feel like their entire family was based on a pyramid scheme of emotional usury. 

I read the entire book pretty quickly, it flowed at a steady pace, and Willia has a decent voice.  I really admired who she became at the end of the book.  She really handled herself, and if she were real, she'd grow up to be someone you'd be proud to know.  However, Blood Wounds wasn't a stellar read for me.  This is a tough review for a book with tough issues, but there was something 'off' for me.  Typically, I L-O-V-E a good 'issues' book.   Blood Wounds has decent writing, but there was a little too much crazy in the plot for me to handle.  I really wish it had either been about just Willa coming to terms with what her father had done and the family she never knew -OR- had been about her blended family situation (and her unhealthy way of dealing with it).  There was certainly enough dysfunction to support the latter.  I think in the end, Willa had so much dysfunction in her life that it made be feel like there was no support for her or the book itself.  I need a little hope or some redemption with my stories, and in the end, I just don't feel like I had enough give me that.

This one didn't work for me, but here are two bloggers who did like it - be sure to check out Jen's review at I Read Banned Books and Melissa's at i swim for oceans.


"And then there was Jack with his college degree, a career he loved, two remarkable daughters, and an ex-wife rapidly rising up the corporate ladder.

Mom had a high-school diploma, a brother in a cult, a violent ex-husband named Budge, and parents who died from drunk driving.

For the first time in days, I felt something there than resentment and anger.  I felt sorry for Mom, sorry for where she'd come from and what she didn't have."
-page 118

"'I never saw anyone cry like you did today, ' Faye said.  'It was like you were crying for the whole world."
page 160 

"Faye snorted.  'Families my ass,' she said.  'Families fight.  Wives fight.  They don't just say 'Yes, Jack.  Whatever you think, Jack.'"
page 162