I apologize for the slight vacation in posts. My husband took a weekend vacation and took my computer desk with him (it’s one of those white Wal-Mart folding tables), so I didn’t get everything reassembled until last night.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Genre: YA Dark Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Releases March 26th, 2013
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND … A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys. Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go … a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
I don’t usually review books this far in advance, however If You Find Me is pre-order worthy. As a child, Carey believed every word her mama told her. Carey raised her little sister without electricity, water and sometimes food; because her mama told her that there was a bad man out there looking for them. When this bad man arrives with child protection services years later, Carey knows that her mother will come and save them again. Then, she reads the note her mother says relinquishing her custody of both girls and Carey starts to doubt the stories her mother told her.
This debut novel is written from the POV of a missing child that didn’t know she was missing. The brilliance of the novel is the contrast between Carey’s version of truth and her father’s version of the truth; the former we learn initially and the latter we learn over the course of the novel. The truth behind why Carey ended up in the woods with her mother isn’t revealed until the very end.
This would of been an okay story if it transcribed Carey’s reintroduction with her father, but it’s a compelling story when Carey’s mute younger sister, Janessa, is stitched into the drama. Janessa’s father was someone their mother screwed for a hit of meth and neither girl has seen that man since. Janessa’s unwillingness to talk spawns from something that Carey did a year ago and as the horrors of both girls’ past unravels I really wondered what Carey could possibly do to top everything else they had experienced. It was a relief when her secret was finally revealed and it wasn’t a disappointment.
I have a little sister myself, so the relationship between Carey and Janessa reminded me of my sibling bond. It’s refreshing to have siblings in a YA story that are so genuine, you wonder if they’re fiction. I was a less impressed by how pigeonholed Delaney was as a mean stepsister. Compared to the other characters, Delaney was very underdeveloped and her motives questionable.
I was also slightly discouraged by the opening chapter, as it was written with a “backwoods” accent. The accent disappears from the narrative after the first couple chapters, so don’t let the opening dissuade you. Once the hickish accent faded from the pages, there is nothing that could stop me from finishing. This is a book that I will recommend to friends and I think they will both love and hate me for making them read a book so poignant and real. If You Find Me is a reminder that when a child goes missing, their story doesn’t end with being found.
(I received a copy from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have also pre-ordered a personal hardcover copy as a result of this review.)
(Information and picture borrowed from Goodreads.)
Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There’s never a time she’s without a book. Her debut novel, If You Find Me, will be available from St. Martin’s on March 26, 2013 and from Orion/Indigo UK on May 2, 2013. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert’s tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing. Emily’s other passion is saving equines from slaughter. She uses her writing to raise awareness of this inhumane practice, with the goal of ending the slaughter of America’s equines through transport to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. She offers sanctuary to abused and slaughter-bound equines who dazzle her every day with their forgiving nature and gratitude in exchange for security, consistency, food and love. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Emily hopes her penchant for writing will do just that. All-in-all, she’s a lefty in a right-handed world, writing her way through life and smearing ink wherever she writes.Read More
Welcome to This is YOUR song
a brand new book meme hosted by Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.
Meme name is inspired by the Elton John song. Here, I find that perfect song to fit some of the most popular books. I’ll pick 5 books from different genres or age groups and match them with the song that I think describes the book the best.
1) Representing contemporary books, Slammed by Colleen Hoover.
Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.
Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.
Song Match: Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette
Lyrics: Don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are / I couldn’t help it / It’s all your fault
Reason: Poetry in music. Layken thinks that Will set her up for loving him. This song would fit in perfectly at one of their slammed sessions.
2) Representing erotic books, 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James.
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.
This book is intended for mature audiences.
Song Match: S & M by Rihanna
Lyrics: Sex in the air / I don’t care / I love the smell of it / Sticks and stones may break my bones / But chains and whips excite me
Reason: Not like it has a plot or great characters. It’s all about the latex and bondage.
3) Representing paranormal romance books, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter.
She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I’d tell my sister no.
I’d never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I’d zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I’d hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I’d tell them I love them.
I wish… Yeah, I wish
Song Match: Alice (Underground) by Avril Lavigne
Lyrics: I found myself in Wonderland / get back on my feet again / Is this real? Is this pretend? / I’ll take a stand until the end
Reason: This song matches what the actual book is about (not what the title and blurb allude towards). This song is about a girl overcoming an event that turned her life upside down. The literal Alice connection is just an added bonus. That part connects with the “are zombies real” or “are zombies in my head” part of the book.
4) Representing controversial books, I have Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt (Can you BELIEVE there’s a sequel!)
Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she’ll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she’s cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden’s coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she’ll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her “adopted aunt” Emily Dickinson.
Song Match: Chocolate Rain by Tay Zonday
Lyric: Chocolate Rain / Say it publicly, and you’re insane / Chocolate Rain / No one wants to hear about it now / Chocolate Rain / Wish real hard it goes away somehow
Reason: The song is about how society insists that racism no longer exists in the US, despite the in-proportionate amount of minorities in prison. The book is racist, despite the author insisting it is about finding the beauty within one’s self.
5) Representing Science Fiction, I have Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
Song Match: Reflection by Christina Aguilera
Lyrics: Must I pretend that I’m someone else for all time? / When will my reflection show / Who I am inside?
Reason: Cinder hides the fact that she’s a cyborg to the prince. She’s afraid that if she reveals her true nature that he won’t like her anymore.
What do you think about my choices? Would you have matched different songs to these books?Read More
The Legend of Rachel Petersen by J. T. Baroni
Genre: Paranormal (But it’s hard to stick this book in one genre)
Publisher: Damnation Books
Released November 23rd, 2011
Did his book raise the dead? Outraged when The Post Gazette overlooks him for a promotion, thirty-nine year old sports writer, Christian Kane quits and moves to the country to write fiction.Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods. He compiles The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating story revolving around the dead twelve year old girl lying beneath the weathered tombstone. His book becomes a Best Seller; then Hollywood makes it in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but only to have Rachel rise from the grave to seek revenge on him for slandering her name.
Even as I write this review, I’m torn as to how to rate The Legend of Rachel Petersen. This book is completely “outside of the box” and spans several genres throughout the course of the novel. The main story reads mostly as a contemporary novel, but has a paranormal twist. Not a fan of contemporary novels, this part dragged for me. The characters were well-developed, the plot was sound, and the writing was great. I’m just not a fan of contemporary novels.
The story within the story I absolutely enjoyed. Christian Kane writes a novel about two boys who stumble upon a gravestone in the woods and awaken the ghost of Rachel Petersen. Had the novel been the story that Christian Kane wrote and not the story of Christian Kane writing the story, I would have gave it a solid four stars, because Christian Kane wrote a compelling ghost story.
But regardless of how I felt about the outer story, which was about Christian Kane’s midlife crisis, I have to applaud the author on writing a story within a story through three separate time periods and not once confusing the reader. Each time period felt authentic and the characters well-rounded.
The Legend of Rachel Petersen bounced around several genres. It switched from horror to paranormal to contemporary with no regard to genre expectations. This cross-genre approach definitely told one hell of a story, however it might test the comfort limits of some readers.
I’m torn on my rating, because I simply haven’t figured out whether I like the ending or not. I can’t decide whether I feel cheated or out-played. The double twist at the end was definitely not predictable, despite the very revealing blurb. Solely on the fact that The Legend of Rachel Petersen is haunting me long after I finished it, I can’t give this book any less than 4 stars. (B-)
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
Normally, I don’t publish press releases with my reviews, however, I decided to share this one since it refers to the inspiration behind the story and mentions that portions of the book sales go to a non-profit organization. Double awesome. Press release and photos provide to me via J.T. Baroni. Check it out here:
Read a Spooky Story and Help Sponsor A Leader Dog!
J T Baroni’s paranormal tale, The Legend of Rachel Petersen, has been released through Damnation Books, an epublisher based in California, and the writer plans on donating a portion of his book’s proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been training Leader Dogs and placing them with blind people, free of charge, since 1939, and they have achieved this amazing feat all from donations.Baroni knows all too well, both their generosity and the impact of their invaluable services.
Furthering that statement, he also understands first handedly how strongly the visually impaired faithfully depend, trust, and rely on their dogs, whereas his older brother, Gene, has been blind since birth and is on his third canine companion. “As kids,” Baroni fondly recalls, “My brother and I were constantly hand in hand. We went everywhere together. I was, in fact, Gene’s first Leader Dog!”The two brothers don’t get to visit each other as often as they would like, since Gene resides three hundred miles away in Philadelphia. However, the times the author has visited his brother, he was impressed on how well Gene’s dog guided his blind master through the streets in The City of Brotherly Love.
Living in rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and being an avid outdoorsman, Baroni spends a great deal of time in the woods, mostly within walking distance of his home. Last year, he came upon a lone grave in the woods, which inspired his book.
Ironically, and eerily enough, Baroni’s story revolves around 39-year-old sports writer Christian Kane, who becomes outraged when The Pittsburgh Post Gazette overlooks him for a well-deserved promotion. Kane quits the Paper and moves to the country to write fiction. Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods. He is then compelled to pen The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating and horrific story based on the dead twelve-year-old girl laid to rest beneath the weathered tombstone. His book quickly climbs the Best Seller lists; then Hollywood makes it in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but only to have Rachel rise from the grave, seeking revenge on him for slandering her name! Or does she?
The Legend of Rachel Petersen is available as a download, or as a paperback at your favorite on-line bookstore, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. So far, his book has received seven five-star reviews, however, the writer warns any potential readers, “I wrote this book with a mature audience in mind; it does contain adult content, and one scene in particular, is rather brutally disturbing.”
The author also thanks everyone who helps support his cause, emphasizing that raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely expensive, averaging forty five thousand dollars per dog.
JT Baroni lives in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small town east of Pittsburgh. As long as he can remember, he has been an avid outdoorsman, and has always had a fondness for word games and great story-telling literature. His older brother, who was born blind, taught him the game of chess at an early age; consequently, he plays a mean game.
Along with his wife Becky and Son Skyler, Baroni shares their cozy home with a psychotic dog, a full-blooded boxer they christened ‘Butkus’. When he is not on the job as a transformer repairman with the local electric company, you’ll find him either hunting, fishing, or rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Baroni has also penned several song lyrics, which have been professionally put to music and are currently signed with a music publisher.
Flawed by Kate Avelynn
Genre: YA Dark Fiction
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Released January 22nd, 2013
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago — James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.
Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.
Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realizes James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . ..
Warning: Flawed includes incest, domestic violence, and characters that you will hate more than any other characters in fiction.
As someone who grew up in a dysfunctional home, Flawed caused me to remember some things best left buried. This story might be too taboo for some readers, but if you’re like me, it’s a good reminder that there are people who come from more f*ked up lives that our own and still have a chance to turn out okay.
I was so drawn into the story that I actually wrote zero notes for Flawed. It was finished in one sitting. The characters were realistic to the point where I felt like it was a non-fiction narrative. My oldest brother was my idol growing up and he was there to help me with things that my parents should have. Likewise, James is Sarah’s idol. James is the only one to propel her from one day to the next when a normal girl in her situation would break down and give up. The tension comes into play when Sarah decides to try to live a normal life. She develops feelings for one of James’ friends and makes plans for the future. James isn’t able to adjust from surviving in a dysfunctional house to normal life. He’s afraid of losing Sarah and tries to keep her with him at any cost.
The ending and continuous plot twists took me completely by surprise. I can’t say that I’m satisfied with how the book ended (plot wise), but Sarah’s story did have closure at the end. All I ask is that the author does not write a sequel to Flawed. No girl should have to endure was Sarah did two-fold!
This is not an erotic tale of two siblings. There is no romance between them and no porn scenes. It’s a tale of two siblings who have been wronged by everyone else and have become codependent on each other. There are scenes in this book that will make you cry. They will make you question your own morals. Not all young adults are lucky to be born into a family with loving parents. I strongly recommend this book to any teen or adult that had to “survive” instead of “live” their teenage years. (A+)
(I received a copy from Netgalley/publisher in exchange for my honest review.)
(Images and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
When not devouring books, holding down her editing gig, or attempting to coax life out of the weed patch she calls a “garden,” Kate Avelynn writes dark contemporary YA and NA that blends first love, betrayal, and danger.Read More
Everything that happens in life happens for a reason…
Guest Post By Fleur Philips
Each time I’m asked the question regarding how I came up with the idea for I Am Lucky Bird, I have to go back some years and try and remember. And each time I do, I discover another moment that assisted me in the development of the book.
One of the major themes in I Am Lucky Bird is that everything that happens in life happens for a reason. Marian even tells Lucky this not long after AnnMarie’s disappearance. In my own life, I firmly believe this to be true. There are no accidents.
I’ve had a fascination about this concept for years. I heard a story once about an 11-year-old boy who left his house and jumped on his bike to go down the street to play with a friend. As he veered around the corner, he was hit head-on by a truck and was killed instantly. When his mother was later interviewed, she said she’d called out to the boy just before he ran out the door, telling him to come back and grab his coat off the chair in the kitchen. He responded saying he didn’t need it. If he’d gone back to get his jacket, he would have saved himself a minute, or even just a few seconds, but maybe enough time to allow the truck to pass that deadly spot.
I remember thinking to myself, if he’d only just gone back to get his jacket, he’d be alive today. His parents wouldn’t be grieving over the loss of their son. It’s these kinds of stories that make me believe there are no accidents in life. There’s not always an explanation. And in the case of the boy in the story above, the things that happen to us are not always good. But for me, by believing we have no control of our destiny—that we can only tweak it a bit in the choices we make about how we want to live our lives—I can draw some strength in knowing there’s a purpose to everything, even though we may never know what that purpose is.
For Lucky Bird, Marian’s words ring strong and true until the very end. Why did she stop to pet the mares on the other side of the fence? Why did she break her bedroom window when she did? And most notably, why did she choose to stand at the edge of the Clark Fork River on the very night Jason Colare was taking his dog for a walk?
As a writer, I have complete control of what happens to my characters. I’m the one who gets to choose whether the boy returns to the kitchen to retrieve his jacket, and it’s a wonderful feeling. But in the real world, life is a set of dominoes, and I believe the path in which those dominoes fall is already predetermined. We just have to have faith in that path, even when one of our dominoes tumbles off the edge of the table.
I am Lucky Bird by Fleur Philips
Genre: Contemporary/ Dark Fiction
Publisher: New Dawn Publishers
When her mother mysteriously vanishes from the small town of Plains, Montana, 12-year-old Lucky Bird’s childhood comes to an abrupt end. Left to defend herself against her suddenly abusive grandmother, Marian, and forced to endure the twisted predatory games played out by Marian’s lover, Lucky soon finds herself trapped in a nightmare.
Even when she manages to escape, the outside world can’t take away the brutal images of her past. Still haunted by her mother’s disappearance and the trauma that followed, Lucky is easily led down a path of self-destruction—a path that only the intervention of a young stranger and his family can guide her away from. But first, Lucky will have to confront her demons, and the dark truths kept hidden.
I rather liked I am Lucky Bird, although I thought the title was actually I am a lucky bird, so I was shocked to find out that the lucky bird was actually the name of the main character. Lucky Bird has the life of nightmares. She grew up without knowing real love and had to go through the worst life had to offer before she was given a reprieve.
When the book was dark, I enjoyed it. When the book was hopeful and inspiring, I grew bored. I think that my boredom was more linked to my taste of books then the quality of the book. The narration was seamless and fast pace. It was only when the POV shifts that I found something to complain about with I am Lucky Bird. The shift into Marian’s POV near the end of the story only confirmed the obvious and the repetition of events bored me. I don’t think that any of the alternative POV chapters were necessary and the whole book could of easily been told from Lucky’s POV.
There are quite a few disturbing happenings in this book that will offend the easily offended, but otherwise you will be like me…engrossed in the traumatic and dark but somehow entertaining life of Lucky Bird. Fans of dark contemporary novels will enjoy this book.
(I received a copy of this book as part of the blog tour by BookSparksPR in exchange for my honest review.)
Fleur Philips is a graduate student at Antioch University in Los Angeles, pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She attended the University of Oregon in Eugene where she was awarded placement in the Kidd Tutorial Creative Writing Program. After a short-lived acting career (she was a “featured extra” on Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can), she completed three manuscripts. I Am Lucky Bird is her first novel and was selected as a general fiction finalist for the 2011 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. She’s currently working on her second novel which will be released in the summer 2013. She lives in Upland, California, and when she’s not writing, she’s cheering for her son in his athletic endeavors.