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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Summary

“Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R.R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting this at all. I’ve been seeing A Court of Thorns and Roses all over Instagram recently with some amazing photos of the book and it really caught my attention. Then it kept showing up on my feed and I just had to see what everyone was talking about and I am so glad that I did.

I honestly hadn’t heard anything about this book until I saw it on my timeline so clearly I’m living in my own little bubble because how could I have missed this?! I read the entire book in about 4-5 hours, with a small break for dinner, but just couldn’t put it down. It was so addictive.

First of all, the cover is beautiful! Just look at all that red and thorns and just, yes. Red covers always seem to catch my attention.  Of course I had seen some beautiful covers of it on Instagram as well. I will definitely be finishing the series after I finish my currently reading book.

The story was unique which was nice. The fairies in the book weren’t little things that were all adorable. They were badass and could kick some serious butt. It was more of a mature YA book because of that too, there was blood, violence and sex. The sex wasn’t explicit but it was enough to push it to be more mature and there was a decent amount of blood as well.

Team Rhysand
From Redbubble

Now, as for the story, the first book ended quite well in a nice neat package so you don’t have to finish the series I guess as it did finish the book quite well, but there were some things not answered and I just want to see what happens next! And the two teams to choose from; Team Tamlin or Team Rhysand. I don’t know which team I am on yet. I was Team Tamlin, but Rhysand though….

 

I mean this book was just so good and I cannot wait to be able to read the next one. It is a best-seller on Amazon which clearly shows that it is liked by many.

Team Tamlin
From Redbubble

Have any of you lovelies read this series yet? Or just this book? Whose team are you on and did you like the series?

Happy Reading!!!

 

 

 

 

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Riven: My Myth Trilogy, Book 1 [BOOK SPOTLIGHT and INTERVIEW!]

Riven Cover

Imaginative Heroine Uses Fantasy as
Salvation from Abuse in Issue-Driven
YA Psychological Thriller, Riven

Coppell, TX – In Jane Alvey Harris’s award-winning debut psychological thriller, Riven (ISBN 978-1944244163), readers are swept inside the fantasy world created by a teenager who finds the trauma and abuse she has endured to be vastly more than she can handle. The novel is the recipient of the 2016 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal for Best E Book, Young Adult Fiction and the 2016 BookLife Prize in Fiction in the Young Adult category.

Told in the first person, Riven opens with seventeen-year-old Emily in the unenviable position of parenting herself and her younger brothers and sister. Her father is in prison for securities fraud, and her mother is strung out on pain meds. Emily thinks she has her life under control until a few weeks before her dad’s release, when she begins hearing voices. Then Gabe, the attractive lifeguard at the pool, notices strange markings engraved on her arm. Emily doesn’t know what these symbols mean or how they got there. All she knows is that they appeared overnight and are becoming infected.

Filled with anxiety, unable to sleep and driven to self-medicate, Emily’s childhood nightmares begin resurfacing. They are commandeering her consciousness even when she’s awake. The fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help.

Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser, unable to cope with reality and desperately in need of refuge, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She wants to stay here, to lose herself in enchantment and romance, but something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Before long, Emily discovers her demons have followed her inside her beloved fairytale. They are hunting her.

“I wrote this story to document how victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse often use fantasy as a coping mechanism for their trauma,” said Harris. “I also wanted to show that the essential first step taken by those who wish to thrive in spite of their abuse is self-acceptance.”

Jane Alvey Harris has a humanities degree from Brigham Young University with emphases in art history, Italian, and studio art. She is fascinated with the visual and performing arts and enjoys playing classical piano, painting, sketching, singing, acting, and writing poetry and prose. Nonetheless, her real passion is people; she loves to watch and study human beings. An unabashed dreamer, her favorite activity is to weave together sublime settings and stories for characters to live and learn in, herself included. Jane currently lives in an enchanted fairy-princess castle in Dallas, Texas, with her three often-adorable children and their three seldom-adorable cats.

For more information on the author or Riven, please visit www.JaneAlveyHarris.com.


Q&A with Jane Alvey Harris

Jane Headshot

  1. What inspired you to create Riven and the My Myth Trilogy series?

Honestly, when I began writing Riven, I was just looking for relief. I was struggling through a really dark time in my life and was doing therapy with an amazing counselor who encouraged me to write. I didn’t have a synopsis or even an outline; I was just writing scenes from my head and connecting them together. It took me a couple years to get the first draft out and even longer to realize what the story was really about.

Somewhere in the middle of undoing myself in therapy, the narrative in my writing transformed. It matured from a pretty fairytale to a hard-hitting, issue-driven documentation of a survivor’s journey to make peace with her wounded egos and achieve self-acceptance. It was dark, but it felt important. More than that, in the act of weaving my tale I realized I was laying my hands directly on the tattered pieces of a buried map leading to rich interior landscapes I’d never acknowledged or explored before, because I considered them ugly, worthless, and humiliating.

It was about this time that other people in my life began sharing their long-guarded accounts of abuse with me. I was overwhelmed by sorrow at their suffering, but also inspired by their confidence in me, which helped me understand I wasn’t alone. With the help of my therapist and my editor, who both prompted me to dig deep and tell the real story, I gained new purpose, new confidence. I learned that I was brave, that I was strong. I realized that my writing might actually help others who struggled.

  1. Your main character, Emily, is a seventeen-year-old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. What is her situation in the story and how did she get there?

The story opens at the end of July, the summer before Emily has to repeat junior year of high school. Her dad’s been in prison for ten years, and her mom, a school teacher, becomes increasingly dependent on prescription pain meds. She loses her job and basically stays in bed all day, relying on Emily to parent her two younger brothers and younger sister. Still, Emily thinks she’s got things mostly under control. But as the date for her dad’s release from prison gets closer, Emily’s stress levels increase exponentially. She finds herself unable to cope with her reality and slips into a fantasy world she created as a little girl.

  1. What are the main themes in Riven and how are they developed in the story?

Riven is all about hard hitting social issues, including mental illness, feminism, and rape culture, to name a few. But the main theme is one of self-acceptance. My goals were to illustrate the damage that buried guilt and shame have on the psyche and demonstrate how acknowledging personal truth is the first step in healing from trauma.

  1. There are a number of fantastical elements to Riven, including the imaginary world of the First Realm. What role does fantasy play in the story, and how is important to the development of the book’s characters?

Okay, this is juicy stuff. First, like Emily, many victims of childhood abuse use fantasy to escape a reality they can’t cope with. Not only is it key in the backstory, as a plot device, and in Emily’s growth throughout the book, it also adds layers of depth which engage readers on different levels.

Fantasy keeps the readers on their toes, too. Emily is an unreliable narrator, to say the least. She questions her own sanity, and as her stress increases throughout the first half of the book, she starts to self-medicate. At times, she’s unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The reader experiences this fracturing along with her, catching glimpses of the past, and is sometimes plunged into the fantasy First Realm without warning. Ultimately, it’s up to each reader to decide what is really real.

Mixing fantasy elements with gritty contemporary realism also adds action, adventure, and gave me the perfect opportunity to play with some really gorgeous settings. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. On one hand, fantasy is whimsical and innocent. It lightens some of the darker themes of Riven. On the other hand, juxtaposing the ethereal with horror heightens poignancy of tragedy and psychological distress.

Most importantly, it is through the world of imagination that Emily is able to envision herself as a powerful individual. She creates a Realm where she’s able to accept and forgive herself.

  1. Much of Riven is based on your own real-life experiences. How does your personal story inform the novel and, more-specifically, Emily’s character?

Well, Emily basically has my personality. The book began as a love story to my three children, (Jacob, Aidan, and Claire, who you’ll meet in the book) at a time I was very vulnerable in my life. So, if the strength of the sibling relationships seems super-real, it’s because that’s really them, and Emily is really me. Lots of the dialogue I’ve taken directly from real life. While I don’t claim all of Emily’s experiences, I will say they are true, a combination of stories and experiences which have been shared with me, along with a healthy dose of my dreams and imagination.

  1. Riven deals with serious issues for teens, including abandonment, drug use, cutting, and sexual abuse. How do novels like yours help survivors and supporters with awareness and solutions for these issues?

Issues like these continue to be such a huge problem, because they make people uncomfortable and because they’re difficult to talk about. It’s easy to sweep the topic of childhood sexual abuse, and the many destructive behaviors which result from it, under the rug, because it just isn’t comfortable. The vast majority of survivors never reveal their experiences because of guilt and shame. How can we heal if we hide? My hope is that telling this story will help to normalize people. Not just victims of abuse, but anyone who struggles with negative self-image.

While I wrote Riven to be as entertaining and immersive as possible, my main purpose was to shed light on darkness and ugliness that don’t have to be life sentences of suffering. There is hope. There are resources. There are networks of supporters waiting to help. My dream is that Riven and the My Myth Trilogy will spark discussion and help people heal, while calling the rest of us to action as supporters. If we educate ourselves and abolish buried guilt and shame, we can end the cycle of abuse.

  1. Are you working on the next novel in the series and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, and I’m SO EXCITED! The second book in the trilogy is called Secret Keeper. While Riven deals with the nature of legitimate victimhood, Secret Keeper is all about what comes next. Self-acceptance is just the very first step in recovery; Emily still has to do all the work of telling her truth in the real world if she wants to protect her siblings. And what happens when you speak that kind of truth? How do people react? How do you stop being a victim? How do you protect yourself from repeating the cycle of abuse? The pendulum swings in the completely opposite direction from victim in Secret Keeper, though not necessarily in a healthy way. There’s a lot of bad-assery afoot. I’m having a blast writing and meeting new characters, and I know readers will love them!

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Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

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From Amazon.com

Summary

“The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver-deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can’t, and there’s nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school-Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she’s ever experienced. When Ben reveals he’s a werewolf, Avery still trusts him-at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she’s not the only one who can’t remember the night her parents died.Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moon is a must-read for teen paranormal fans. As breathless as Twilight and as spooky as Shiver, this is a book to be devoured in one sitting-by an acclaimed YA author making her paranormal debut under the pseudonym Ivy Devlin.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

So I received this book as a gift from someone so naturally I just had to read it, quickly. Getting a book from someone is the best thing ever because I love to read, so who needs jewelry. Give me a good book and I’m set.

In all honesty, I read this book in about 2-3 hours as it’s not a difficult read at all. I would classify it as younger YA as the story is much more simplistic, the writing is simple, and there are not tons of words on the page. Meaning it’s not written like Shōgun where the font is really small and so is the spacing – it is larger font and more space between the words.

One thing which I thought was really cool about this book was every time the word ‘moon’ showed up, it was written in red. I haven’t seen that before really, or not that I remember, so it was quite a nice touch and added an effect to the story.

As for the actual story itself, it was quite simple and there was some character development but it wasn’t terribly deep. This is, of course, because it was a younger YA book so the stories are not as complex as books for older readers but it still had a good story. Werewolves are always kind of interesting to read about. The ending took a turn I was not expecting and that was nice as well. I had this horrible feeling that the ending would be a little bit predictable but it definitely wasn’t.

The story, as a whole, was a good story and for a YA book it was good. As I am an older reader, I would really have liked to see a little bit more going on with the story such as some more explanations, maybe some more detailed interactions, less of the whole ‘I just met this cute boy, I’m 15 years old, and I’m hinting at sleeping with him but I’m not going to…or am I…”. It sometimes bugs me when that happens. I mean the character is not always clearly 15 or 16 or so because of things that happen so you could see them as being older, except during these moments of passion when she would think to herself how young she is and I’m here like “NO…STOP THE TRAIN!!!!!!! 15 YEAR OLDS SHOULD BE PLAYING OUTSIDE…NOT WANTING TO SLEEP WITH A BOY THEY MET 5 DAYS PREVIOUSLY!!!” I mean, I know it isn’t such a big deal, but it feeds into the constant culture that it doesn’t matter how long you know someone, sleeping with them is okay if you feel like you truly love them. Like come on, 24 hours ago Avery didn’t even think Ben would kiss her and then he did and then suddenly she’s ready to sleep with him. I did want to smack the character over that. That’s the only kind of aspect that made it maybe a little bit more older YA. They didn’t sleep together, but they kept hinting at it. And no 15 year old should be getting these ideas into their heads.

Overall, it was a decent werewolf YA book and I would recommend it. Would I have liked more from the story? Yes. But for a younger reader this would suit them perfectly. I haven’t been reading many YA books recently so it took me a while to adjust back to that writing style with the simpler story lines, but for the book it was good.

It had a beautiful red cover and caught my attention as soon as it was given to me.

Do check this one out (purchase it here) and let me know what you think.

Until next time, happy reading!

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd

a_monster_callsSummary

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

Holy…moses. This book was….wow. First off, you have to read this book in one sitting. It isn’t terribly long and isn’t a hard read at all, but you really can’t put it down because of what the book is about. It is not a book you can start and continue reading later because you always have questions and need to know what comes next and then the book just loses the power it has over you if you stop reading it half way. It HAS to be read at once and it will only take two hours of your life, so do it! Trust me.

The book honestly was nothing like I thought it was going to be. It was amazing, and powerful, and beautiful and holy shit did I need a box of tissues at the end. Just a warning. It’s not a happy book like many books are with a neat ending that makes you go ‘wow, that was such a good book’. This is the type of book that has you sitting there crying and questioning everything you know going ‘wow….that was…..SUCH a good book’. Just trust me when I say that you need a box of tissues handy and an empty room to cry in after.

The story was amazing! LIKE WHAT?! It is YA but I would classify this as older YA and honestly almost put it into the adult category because of the story and the kind of emotional levels it was operating on. Someone 16 may not understand everything going on emotionally but they would get the story while a 50 year old would completely be able to connect with the little boy in the book.

I thought The Monster was the coolest character as well. Think of like the BFG but instead of it being in a fantastical world, it was based in the real world and The Monster was…well it is just too hard to explain. Read it and it will all make sense to you.

I probably would have never read a book like this, or really noticed it because of the simple cover, but because the movie is coming out soon, I had to give it a read and I am so glad I did.

The cover of the book is beautiful and simple and that is one thing I really like about the book. There are illustrations within the book but instead of them being all colored and fancy, they are very simple and black and white. It just adds this kind of dream quality to the book!

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It was just something I had never experienced before and has me sitting there in awe of what was done with the book. The idea was created by Siobhan Dowd, who is a very impressive woman. She spent 20 years as a human rights campaigner for PEN as well as Amnesty International but she passed away at 47 years of age. Patrick Ness was then asked to write this book which was her idea and he did such an amazing job.

There is so much character development and you connect with Conor so well and are able to feel his pain.

Would I read this book again? Not for a few years probably as this is the kind of book you cannot read over and over again. Maybe you get a different message from it every time or find something new in it but it isn’t like a book you can pick up and just read. Besides the emotions which this book brings up, you just need time between readings.

I absolutely loved this book and cannot rave highly enough about it and you MUST check it out, especially before the movies comes out. The movie looks amazing and looks like it will stick extremely close to the book, which I am very happy of, but you have to read the book first.

The trailer is below, but keep in mind there are a few differences and you may think that the movie trailer looks a little Hollywood-ized, like they made it bigger and such. But in all honesty, it looks pretty damn close to the book and I’m very impressed.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Purchase the book here.

Happy Reading!!!!

Don’t forget the tissues.

 

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Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol

Summary

“Diary of a Madman is a farcical short story by Nikolai Gogol. Along with The Overcoat and The Nose, Diary of a Madman is considered to be one of Gogol’s greatest short stories. The tale centers on the life of a minor civil servant during the repressive era of Nicholas I. Following the format of a diary, the story shows the descent of the protagonist, Poprishchin, into insanity. Diary of a Madman, the only one of Gogol’s works written in first person, follows diary-entry format.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

So, I don’t think I would have ever read this short story but I had to read it for school and I have to say, that I really did enjoy it. While it definitely was a little confusing in a few places here and there, overall, it was quite enjoyable and a nice read.

During the beginning of the short story, it seemed pretty normal with everything which was happening. Poprishchin seemed like an average guy working in a really horrible job (even though he thought it was kinda decent) but as soon as he was heading to work, a few pages in, that was when reality started to get distorted and you realized that something was up. Dogs talked and he was able to understand them with ease and it seemed that not only did they talk, but they wrote as well, and wrote letters.

From that moment on it slowly started to show that the main protagonist was slightly off his rocker as he thought that he had a change at getting together with his bosses daughter though she was much younger than him and in a much higher societal class and he was much older than her and in a low societal class. As the story wore on, it became clear that the main character developed some mental disorder of some sort because things he believed and said clearly weren’t that of a normal person who knew where they stood either in society or knew about themselves and how they worked.

Almost towards the end, Poprishchin believed that he was the King of Spain due to some events and that was the turning point in the short story. I won’t say what happened in the end, as you have to read it, but it definitely ended quite interestingly.

It is a fairly quick read so sitting down and just diving into it shouldn’t take too much of your time, an hour, maybe two tops. I do recommend it as it was quite good and overall thought that it was one of the better reads that I’ve had to do for English class. It did have moments of being a little confusing with his thoughts as it was written in journal style, but not so much so that you couldn’t follow it.

Click here to read it online and enjoy! (Yes the link says Memoirs of a Madman but the official title is Diary of a Madman)

Let me know what you think.

One of the many covers offered.