Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray is Pos-i-toot-ly Fabulous

7728889Synopsis:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

 

Review:

The Diviners was one of those books that I had a difficult time putting down after I started reading. The premise of it immediately hooked me- a young girl with unexplainable secret powers being sent to live in Manhattan with her Uncle, while terrifying murders are being committed. It made me want to skip work and stay awake until I finished reading

The setting is what first struck me. I haven’t read many contemporary YA books that are set during the Roaring Twenties. But Libba Bray pulled it off and wrote an intriguing book that shows just how good she is at doing her research. Even the 1920s lingo is sprinkled throughout the novel.

I found both the plot and the characters to be fascinating. While Evie O’Neill and her “lingo” annoyed me at times, I realize that to have a believable story set in the 1920s the language needs to be consistent. I loved how independent, smart, and sassy Evie was (even if it did get her into trouble at times). She could also be a stubborn and selfish character, but Bray has created a multi-dimensional and believable character that overall is very likeable. I enjoyed reading the backstories of all of the main characters and learning about their motivations and pasts throughout the novel, especially that of Theta who remains a bit of  a mystery to me. I hope to learn more about her and am excited to see how each of these characters will grow as The Diviners Series progresses.

Not only did The Diviners have excellent protagonists, but the antagonist was absolutely terrifying. Without giving anything away, he was enough to give me some pretty creepy dreams. However, he was original, unique, and interesting. I haven’t read another novel that had an antagonist quite like him.

I didn’t have many complaints about this novel. There were points that dragged a bit but they didn’t last long. I made myself look past all of the pos-i-toot-lies and allowed myself to get dragged into the story and into the horror. This might not have been the light summer read that I was looking for but it was fabulous.

The Diviners was a thrilling blend of the paranormal and historical fiction. It was a page-turning adventure that made me race to the end to find out what happened to Evie and her friends. I highly recommend it to both young adult and adult readers, especially those who like getting the creepy-crawlies while reading.

LibbaBray

Find Libba Bray Online

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Libba Bray’s Website and Fabulous Blog

Website for The Diviners Series

Throwback Thursday- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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This week’s Throwback is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. These twisted and creepy tales were a huge part of my childhood. My best friend and I loved to sit around and read them to each other during a sleepover and be scared out of our minds. After reading them we jumped at every creak and groan that a settling house makes during the night. These “Scary Stories” and their even creepier illustrations were fun, they were scary, and that is why I was so happy to find these books prominently displayed in my local independent bookstore the other day.

While the Scary Stories books have met some criticism and have been challenged or even banned in some instances, they contain wonderfully gruesome urban legends and folklore that will scare children silly. And what kid doesn’t love that? I did (even if they did give me nightmares).

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Update and Book Haul

In this video I talk  about what you can expect in the next couple of weeks from Amanda’s Nose in a Book.

I also talk about the books that I bought the other day at the River’s End Bookstore (which I am very excited to read and tell you all what I thought).

I think I need to start doing my videos on a different computer. My crappy laptop can’t handle it very well.

Why Richard Swier's Attack on Speak is Detrimental to Society

Why Richard Swier’s Attack on Speak is Detrimental to Society.

via Why Richard Swier’s Attack on Speak is Detrimental to Society.

 

 

Bray and Books defends Speak and explains how Swier’s attack on it perpetuates rape culture. This is a wonderful post and gives readers a lot to think about.

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak gives hope to many teens and adults

Speak_1st_Edition_CoverLast week I read something about one of my favorite books that really angered me. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I feel that this guy’s comments were ridiculous and out of line. He called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson “child pornography” and said it promotes violence and sex in under-aged students and that the result is child abuse.

My response to this (minus the obscenities) was that he could not be more wrong.

While this guy goes through and cites all of the places he finds offensive in this book he has failed to see Speak‘s true message. Yes, this book has been challenged and/or banned in different schools, districts, etc. around the country for it’s subject matter, but it sends out a much more important message to children and adults, men and women alike.

Speak, if you haven’t read it, is about a young girl who is sexually assaulted at a party before her 9th grade year. She calls the police on her attacker and as a result loses all of her friends because they see her as a snitch. She is forced to attend school with her attacker and is bullied by her former friends and her peers. Her family isn’t supportive of her and she has no one to talk to about her horrific experiences, so she stop speaking all together. She finds solace in an un-used janitor’s closet and in her art work, which finally gives her a voice.

Yes, it is about a tough and touchy subject. But it is an important subject to teach children about.

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, responded to this guy’s accusations with this  “SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.”

This book teaches children if they experience any of these things to speak up about it. There is help for them. Other people are experiencing or have experienced similar things. It shows them that they are not alone.

I spoke with a woman last week about how Speak helped her. She stated “I read the book in 9th grade. A year before then I had been a victim of sexual assault. This book was incredibly moving for me because I knew how she felt, it was like I was reading about me in a way. It really helped me cope with how I was feeling at the time. It helped me move on and realize that talking helped. It showed me that if you dont SPEAK then nothing can change or be resolved. Pornographic is not a word I would use to describe SPEAK . Deliverance has a scene which is certainly more pornographic and violent than anything this book touches on. I found it uplifting and motivational and triumphant as she confronts her attacker and her emotions. A superb read.”

Children younger than the 8th-10th graders who may read this book in school see things that are just as violent and/or sexual (or more so) than Speak on television. They hear worse language on the bus, in the hallway, and at home. Why are parents, administrators, and others getting so worked up over children reading a book about sexual assault and bullying? They are trying to shelter their children from the world that they live in, in the hopes of protecting them from society and things that are going on. However, sheltering your children from these subjects often does more harm thanlaurie good.

Unfortunately, children are experiencing terrible things at young ages. This isn’t new. It has always happened. It’s just that young adult authors, like Laurie Halse Anderson, are starting to write about these difficult subjects from the point of view of the children experiencing them. And as a teacher, I realize that children (and adults) need these books. You would be amazed to know how many children are bullied, are depressed, or have been sexually assaulted. Even if they haven’t they need to know these things exist. They need to know that if it does happen to them that they have to speak up about it. They need to know that if they have a friend, a peer, or a family member that has had this happen to them that they should remain supportive and encourage them to get help.

If your child is reading Speak and you are unsure if they should be reading it, please do yourself a favor and visit your local library or bookstore and pick up the book yourself. If you can, read it while your child is reading it. Parents and their children can have great discussions about it. The book itself might upset you from time to time— it is a very hard subject to read about— but please finish it. You will be glad that you did.

In my opinion, Speak is a masterpiece. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written from the point of view of a teen who has experienced terrible things. Speak gives hope to victims of sexual assault. If it were in fact “child pornography” it would not have the positive effect it does on so many.  It gives hope to those who feel alone and who feel like they have no one to turn to. As an adult who has had these experience in the past, it still gives hope to me.

Lastly, Laurie (if you ever happen to run across this post), thank you. Don’t let comments like this jerk’s stop you from writing your books. There are teenagers out there that need them. There are adults out there that can still relate to them. You are helping more people than you know. You have inspired countless teens to speak up. You have inspired many writers (both teens and adults) to write about the things that they have seen and experienced in their lives. Thank you so much.

Read Laurie’s response to Richard Swier’s attack against Speak here

 

If you’ve read Speak, I would love to know what you thought and how it effected you.

Review: Death's Awakening by Sarra Cannon

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Synopsis:

For sixteen-year-old Parrish Sorrows, life is about to become a nightmare.

This is the night she’ll wake up to her mother’s convulsions. The night she’ll lose contact with her father and sister in New York. The night 911 will stop answering the phone.

This is the night a mysterious supernatural virus begins its deadly rampage across the globe, killing billions in a matter of days. And just when things can’t get worse, the dead begin to rise.

Parrish must embark on a perilous journey to find what’s left of her family. Along the way, she’ll team up with the gorgeous boy next door she’s always been drawn to, the snobby ex-bff she’s hated for years, a genius computer nerd, and a young boy who never says a word but is somehow a kindred spirit.

Review:

Recently, I read The Trouble With Goodbye, Sarra Cannon’s debut new adult novel. When I learned that she wo922777_593070934071129_2115761656_nuld also be releasing Death’s Awakening, a young adult paranormal thriller, I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait to read it.

This novel chronicles the lives of three teenaged neighbors: Parrish (one B-A chick who easily became one of my favorite characters), Noah (the adorable boy next door who has a heart wrenching past), and popular cheerleader Karmen (who’s character I cannot wait to see develop further). We also meet Crash, a young man who is beyond prepared for the apocalypse and a young boy who is out on his own in a big city. Sarra Cannon has created a cast of very diverse characters whose secrets and desires are revealed over the course of the novel.

Death’s Awakening changes perspective quite often throughout the book. When I first began reading, this was slightly confusing as I was so drawn in by the prologue that when it switched to a different perspective it threw me for a loop. As more connections were made and as we learned why other characters were connected to this story I found the multiple perspectives to give a complete and cohesive view of the terrors that were going on in the story.

While reading this novel, I was constantly surprised. There were so many twists and turns that I wasn’t even remotely expecting. This book has everything that a young adult (or adult) paranormal thriller fan can want: a terrifying virus that has the whole world suffering, romance, mysterious witches, great characters, and so much more (I don’t want to give too much away). The pacing of the whole story was great with plot twists and character/plot development. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and finished this book wanting to know when the next one will be out

Sarra Cannon has once again made me a huge fan of her writing. She is an extremely talented writer and she is self-published which is a feat in and of itself. After reading two of her novels, I highly recommend Death’s Awakening (or any of her other books).

Death’s Awakening was a wild ride and I look forward to reading the rest of the Eternal Sorrows Series as it’s released.
4.5/5 stars

Read my review for The Trouble With Goodbye by Sarra Cannon here!

Interview with Robin Stephen, author of Another Year or Two

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by author, Robin Stephen, asking me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her novel, Another Year or Two. Of course I said yes and I am glad that I did. Robin was a pleasure to work with and talk to and I can’t wait to read more of her Turnpost stories as well as The Pegasus Trilogy. Make sure to read both pages of our interview and check Robin out on her social media sites!robinstephen

Amanda: Hi Robin, I really would like to thank you for contacting me! I loved reading Another Year or Two and was excited to see that it was such a multi-layered, realistic story.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Robin: I’m in my early 30s and live in Iowa City with my husband. My ‘day job’ is running a small web design and front-end development firm, and my husband and I also ride and train horses.

I grew up in rural Southwestern Arizona, living on a few acres of land tucked up against the foothills of the Catalina mountains. My dad is an archaeologist, and he was born in England. We were lucky as kids to get to travel internationally quite a bit in conjunction with projects he was working on. We spent five summers in France. In college, I lived in Wales for a year. Until I was in my late 20s, I’d been to more foreign countries than states in the US. I like to write about the different cultures and environments I’ve spent time in. The second book in my upcoming trilogy is set in England.

Amanda:  What is your writing process like? Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Robin: I write first thing every morning. Typically I write a rough draft in one big chunk, usually with very little planning or mapping of the story. Then I leave the story and write something else. I make sure to take at least six months away from a work. Then I rewrite, sometimes ending up using none of my original writing, sometimes using a lot of it. I rewrite books until they feel they are in their ideal form (or as close to that as I can manage. :)) Sometimes this takes several rewritings.

My inspiration comes from all over. My Turnpost stories draw heavily on my life with horses and the ranching tradition my husband and I aspire to emulate. My fantasy works are just my imagination going haywire. I actually dreamed the prologue of The Teardrop Game. The next morning I woke up and realized it was a great story and I should write it down.

Review: Another Year or Two by Robin Stephen

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Synopsis:

Lara lives in the small town of Turnpost, South Dakota. She’s not sure why she started writing a blog. In 2002, it’s just the thing to do. She’s not the only one blogging. Follow five characters in different walks of life as their paths overlap (or just miss each other) in a variety of ways. A story about unexpected connections and the difficulty of change, “Another Year or Two” is a charming, multilayered glimpse into the thoughts of people who have no idea who is reading what they post.

Review:

Another Year or Two is a very unique novel with an interesting premise and format. The author Robin Stephen chose to write this novel in the form of blog posts by 5 different characters. When I first started reading the novel, the constant change in perspective took me out of the story and made it difficult for me to get to know the characters. However, I soon began to see many the layers of connections between each character in the story. Once the novel began to flow and the pace began to pick up I really enjoyed that it was told in multiple perspectives. This format made it easy to see how characters can see and experience the same event differently and see how each character relates to the others.

The thing that I liked the most about Another Year or Two was that it was very character-driven. Since there were 5 main characters whose point of view we saw throughout the novel, I was able to see each character as they grew and developed throughout the story. Each character was extremely realistic. I could even see a little bit of my high school self in Lara, my least favorite character through the majority of the novel. My favorite character, Madison, like me was a twenty-something substitute teacher who was unsure where to go with her life. Robin Stephen has successfully developed a novel where both teenage and adult characters share stories that overlap with each other.

While this is not the type of novel that I would usually pick up and read, I enjoyed reading it and it went very quickly for me. I look forward to reading more by Robin and hope that some of her future stories contain some of the same characters as Another Year or Two.

Rating: 4/5 stars. I recommend this novel to both adults and teens as they both can find a character or characters they they can relate to.

Stay tuned for my interview with author, Robin Stephen- coming soon!!!

Throwback Thursday- Harriet The Spy!

ImageHarriet writes down everything that she sees and hears in her top-secret composition notebook.  She practices for her future career as a writer by peeping in windows and overhearing conversations. Unfortunately, being a spy has consequences. She sees the negative sides of people and finds flaws in her friends and writes about them in her notebook. When Harriet’s private thoughts find their way into the wrong hands, her friends find out what Harriet really thinks about them and she finds herself alone.

I loved and greatly related to Harriet when I was younger. While her character could sometimes be nasty I feel that overall she was a very lonely girl trying to make her way in the world by writing about it. I found this book in a huge box of books that my mom picked up at a yard sale and was ecstatic. I carried this book and my own spy’s notebook with me every day. Thinking back on it, I made a terrible “spy” and Harriet would be thoroughly disappointed in my skills because I always managed to get caught.