Blog Tour: Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

nakedmoleratsavestheworldblogtour

Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for an upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers. Below, you can find some basic information on the book and the author as well as an exclusive early excerpt from the book itself. And if you like what you see, make sure to check out the novel when it releases on October 15th!

Book Info:

nakedmoleratsavestheworldNaked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen Rivers

Date Published: October 15th, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 304 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Can Kit’s super-weird superpower save her world?

Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.

It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.

A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?

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Book Excerpt:

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KIT’S MOM HAD A TATTOO THAT WOUND AROUND HER LEFT WRIST.

The ink was faded like something that had been washed so many times it had gotten thin and holey and was now just a blurry memory of black.

If you looked closely at the tattoo, you could see that the leafy, twining ink wound its way around three tiny, fancy letters—k and i and t—which stood for keep it together. It also spelled kit’s name, which was kit, not Kit, because when kit was a baby, her mom said she was much too small for capital letters. Back then she fit inside her mom’s two hands, a funny wrinkled thing that looked not-quite-ready to be alive, more like a hairless baby animal than a human being.

“My little naked mole rat,” her mom would say every time she saw the first photo ever taken of kit, which had been stuck on the fridge for most of kit’s life. Then she would put her hand on her heart.

One day, kit took the picture down and slipped it into a drawer and her mom didn’t say it as much anymore, which was good because it didn’t exactly feel like a compliment.

Kit’s mom had had the tattoo for years before kit existed at all.

“Because I knew you were coming,” she said.

Kit’s mom often told people that she was searching for kit for her whole life and the tattoo was the map that she followed to find her. She said that when she found kit, she was saved.

Found made it sound to kit like she was not someone who was born, but instead someone who just appeared, maybe in a box on the doorstep. Even though kit knew this wasn’t true, she sometimes dreamed of scraping her fingernails against cardboard walls, scrabbling to get out.

She also thought that being responsible for saving her mom was an awful lot of pressure. Not that she’d ever say anything; she knew her mom loved that story and the way she told it made kit feel things she didn’t usually feel. It made her feel heroic and kit normally had a pretty hard time imagining that she’d ever be able to save anyone from anything. She was too small to be a hero.

She could still sometimes fit into clothes labeled 6x. That’s how small.

“The size in your shirt should be the same as your age,” Clem told her once when they were shopping at the Brooklyn Flea, which was the best place in the world to find stuff you didn’t know you needed, and kit had felt worse than if Clem had reached over and punched her right in the nose.

Clem was also small, but not nearly as small as kit. She was normal-small. Like kit, Clem and her twin brother, Jorge, had been born too early. But unlike kit, the only fallout for them was that Clem had super bad allergies and Jorge had had to wear glasses since the age of two.

Small-ish and small were two  different  things. That was the day kit had bought her favorite hoodie, the black one with the small rainbow star on the front and the bigger rainbow star on the back. The color was as faded as kit’s mom’s tattoo. It had cost $5, which was the exact amount their moms gave them each to spend. “That looks . . . comfortable,” Clem observed, but she meant, “That looks old.”

Kit didn’t care that Clem didn’t like it. It was big and soft and as soon as she saw it, it looked like it belonged to her. It was already familiar. The fact that it was way too big only meant she wouldn’t grow out of it anytime soon. Clem had spent her $5 on a small glass turtle. “It’s not a very turtle-y turtle,” she said. “Don’t be such a turtle!” she told it.

A lot of what Clem said didn’t make sense, but it was funny anyway or maybe it was just funny because it didn’t make sense. They had both laughed so hard that they had to sit down, right there on the pavement, the crowd parting around them. Clem clutched the non- turtle-y turtle, tears running down their cheeks, while Jorge looked dreamily off into the distance, not quite paying attention to what was so funny. Jorge was like that. There, but not always entirely there.

“He has a rich inner life,” Clem said, which made kit picture a whole miniature world existing inside Jorge. “But his outer life needs work.”

Then she laughed.

Clem was someone who was almost always laughing, at least back then. At first, kit had been friends with Jorge because she was friends with Jackson and Jackson was friends with Jorge. It had been the three of them. Clem had bugged her, with her always laughing thing. But after not very long, kit started to find the same things funny that Clem did, and soon kit and Clem were the closest friends. Their friendship grew to be the biggest and the best. So even when Jackson and Jorge were busy—Jackson with his sports and Jorge with his “rich inner life”—Clem and kit were either together or talking on the phone.

Clem was the most important person in kit’s life, other than her mom.

And Clem got it. She understood what kit’s mom was like. She knew what kit’s life was like and that kit had to look out for her mom because her mom had issues.

Kit’s mom’s main issue was that she was afraid. She was scared of cancer and bad guys and fire. She was terrified of traffic and heights and crowds. She was afraid of spiders and germs and blood. The list was pretty long and always growing.

“K.i.t., keep it together,” kit would say, and her mom would put on her brave smile and hold up her wrist so that kit could see she was trying.

Sometimes, kit and her mom would go in the bathroom and perform magic over the tub or sink so the oils and “potions” didn’t spill anywhere that couldn’t be easily cleaned up. They had a whole glass shelf of bottles and jars, labeled with things like bravery and truth or rosemary and sage.

Kit’s mom owned a hair salon. She was a hairdresser, not a witch, but kit thought her only employee (and her best friend), Samara, might be both. If you didn’t know Samara, you’d think she was just a nice, funny person— she loved riddles—but once you got to know her, you’d find out that she also believed in magic the same way kit did. She believed in spells, believed they could give them courage or love or money or luck, believed in the possibility that herbs and oils and words could really and truly fix any problem.

Mostly it seemed to be luck that kit’s mom was conjuring, but kit thought she should specify whether she wanted good luck or bad. Everything was either one or the other, if you thought about it.

And anyway, details mattered.

“You’re as small as a detail and the details tell the story. You are the best story of all,” kit’s mom liked to say. “I’m not a story!” kit used to always say back, but now that everything had happened, she wasn’t sure this was true anymore.

After all, everybody has a story, even if the story doesn’t feel like a story when you are the one who is living it.

It’s only afterward, in the telling, that it becomes the thing it was meant to be all along.

Author Bio:

Rivers_Karen_Kelsey_Goodwin

Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usu­ally be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at karenrivers.com and on Twitter: @karenrivers.

Reviews:

“Rivers realistically portrays the challenge of living with anxiety and the pressures of family responsibility. Complex and moving, this story takes an unvarnished look at what it means to be true to oneself as well as loved ones.”
Publishers Weekly

“Rivers threads rich veins of metaphor and personal transformation into this tale of preteen trauma and recovery . . . Along with folding in this whiff of fantasy (kit’s not the only character here who, at least seemingly, has an animal alter ego), Rivers handles all the domestic and interpersonal drama with a light touch that keeps things from turning soapy . . . Readers will come away admiring her knack for resolving issues and conflicts.”
Booklist, starred review

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Blog Tour: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for the recently released middle grade novel, The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz. Sarah is a wonderful author that I have been a massive fan of for quite a while and this newest novel is her most fun and enchanting one yet! Below, you can find some basic information on the book and the author, as well as an exclusive excerpt from the book itself. And if you like what you see, make sure to check out the novel which just released on October 1st! My full (spoiler-free!) review of The Dark Lord Clementine will be up later in the week!

Book Info:

thedarklordclementineThe Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Date Published: October 1st, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 336 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Algonquin YR

The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.
 
Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all?

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Book Excerpt

NOT. CHIPPING.

Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose.

This was not exactly unexpected. Several mornings previously, the Dark Lord Elithor Morcerous had greeted her with slightly less nose than usual, and a bit of a weaker chin. The difference was so small that Clementine, who was quite small herself, barely noticed it. She did notice something different about him—he was her father, after all—but she thought perhaps he had gotten a rather unflattering haircut.

An unflattering haircut could not explain the next few days, however, as the Dark Lord Elithor’s nose became skinnier and skinnier, and his chin weaker and weaker. It could also not explain why his skin took on the raw-looking texture of freshly chopped wood, or why the ends of his fingers sharpened first into long points, and then shorter and shorter ones. It was as if every day, something were eating away at him—chipping away at him, Clementine’s mind helpfully suggested—but the Dark Lord carried on as if nothing were the matter, even when the tip of his finger snapped off as he was ladling out the pea soup at dinner.

It was so light it barely made a plop as it landed in the tureen. They ate the soup anyway.

Clementine Morcerous knew that if the Dark Lord Elithor had three gifts in this world, they were:

  1. The invention and implementation of magical Dastardly Deeds
  2. Math
  3. Not Talking About Anything

But the day she sat down to breakfast, rubbed the last bits of sleep from her eyes, and looked up to see her father sitting across the table from her, quite alarmingly nose-
less . . . well. Clementine decided that was the day they were going to Talk About Something.

“Father,” Clementine said as she watched him spear a piece of melon on the tip of his pointy wooden finger. “I do believe you have been cursed.”

The melon cube paused on its journey to his poor thin lips.

“Ah,” said her father, his thick eyebrows rising. “Do you?”

He then returned his focus to his plate, as if she’d merely made a comment on the weather. His finger had sliced through the melon cube. He picked it up again with some difficulty.

“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?” demanded Clementine. “Something is . . . well . . . chipping away at you!”

Clementine regretted using the word “chipping” as soon as it was out of her mouth. Yet a consequence of Finally Talking About Anything is that words, once set free into the world, aren’t in the habit of going back where they came from.

The only sound in the room was the Dark Lord’s labored breathing, a thin whistling from the two tiny slits left in his face where his nostrils should’ve been. His eye- brows threatened to meet in the middle. He looked down at his plate again, and even the melon seemed to turn a paler green under the force of his glare.

“No . . .” he said softly. “Not. Chipping.” He spat out the words like they were curses themselves and finally looked up at a very concerned Clementine.

“Whittling.”

Author Bio:

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Sarah Jean Horwitz
is the author of the middle grade fantasy series Carmer and Grit and the recently released The Dark Lord Clementine. She grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairytale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston, MA. Find her on Twitter, @sunshineJHwitz
Instagramher Goodreads page, or at sarahjeanhorwitz.com.

Review Quotes:

“Horwitz primes readers to expect the unexpected—and delivers. . . .Horwitz’s ingenuity for bizarre enchantment and characterization proves boundless . . . In a wry, satisfying ending, Clementine hints at future enchantments ahead.”
Publishers Weekly

“The descriptions of magical beings are fittingly awe-inspiring  . . . this inventive fantasy twists conventions while involving readers through good storytelling laced with irony and wit.”
Booklist

“After luring readers in with wordplay and tongue-in-cheek, genre-savvy humor, the plot takes an emotionally rich thematic turn, dwelling on community and forgiveness—all the while building toward a mythical, mystical arc involving the unicorn. The few action sequences are mined for utmost impact, as are the slice-of-life scenes and flashback vignettes . . . Absolutely delightful.”
Kirkus Reviews

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Review: His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler

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hishideousheartHis Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: September 10th, 2019

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 480 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “The Cask of Amontillado”. “The Tell-Tale Heart”. “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Filled with love and loss, vengeance and regret, the dark, chilling stories of Edgar Allen Poe have haunted us for over 150 years. Now, thirteen of YAs most celebrated writers reimagine Poe’s stories for a new generation.

These contemporary retellings will grab readers by the throat and drag them along to surprising and unsettling places, whether they are Poe aficionados or new newcomers to these classics. Tiffany D. Jackson, award-winning author of Monday’s Not Coming, transports “The Cask of Amontillado” to the streets of Brooklyn during the present day West Indian Day Carnival in Brooklyn. Poet amanda lovelace finds new meaning in the classic poem “The Raven” by blotting out words from the original lines. And Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series, gives the unreliable voice narrating “Metzengerstein” a contemporary edge.

With the original stories printed in the back of the book, HIS HIDEOUS HEART offers up a fun way to meet Poe for the first time, or for readers to revisit old favorites with fresh eyes. His work reminds us why we love to be scared, whether we get that thrill from watching the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, visiting a haunted house at Halloween, or by reading Poe’s spine-tingling stories.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

“Once upon a midnight dreary,
I received a review query,
About this very quaint and curious volume of Poe’s retold lore…”

First off, I have to start by saying I was incredibly tempted to write this entire review as a poem in the style of “The Raven” but, unfortunately (…or perhaps fortunately), I think that far exceeds my creative writing talents.

I know I am pointing out the obvious at this point, but this is a collection of thirteen YA authors’ contemporary retellings of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works. The authors have taken these chilling stories and reimagined them for a new generation of readers. These modernized versions are hauntingly unique yet still retain much of Poe’s signature tone and style while paying homage to the beloved originals. Thrills and chills, love, heartbreak, and revenge can all be found within these pages, forming a collection that further immortalizes these classic tales.

As a lover of all things dark and creepy, I immediately fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe’s work when we first studied him back in middle school. So when I heard about this collection, I absolutely had to give it a read—and I was not disappointed. As with any anthology with multiple authors, you’re going to have some hits and some misses. However, I found that the focus here on Poe retellings helped to unify the stories quite a lot more than other short story collections I have read. Each story possesses the vividly eerie, peculiar, longing, and vengeful qualities found in the originals and stays very faithful to Poe’s visions for them.

My favorite stories from the collection were:

Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton
Lygia by Dahlia Adler
The Oval Filter by Lamar Giles
A Drop of Stolen Ink by Emily Lloyd-Jones
The Glittering Death by Caleb Roehrig
The Fall of the Bank of Usher by Fran Wilde

Now, I’ll go into some specifics about each of the individual stories and my thoughts on them.

She Rode a Horse of Fire by Kendare Blake (3.5/5)
Inspired by “Metzengerstein”

In this story, we follow a girl who works in a mansion. The young master of the estate, Friedrich Baron, loses his most recent girlfriend in a fire on his property. It turns out that she was the daughter of another wealthy family who has a centuries-long feud with Friedrich’s. Then, out of nowhere one day, a young woman appears and Friedrich begins to spend all his time with her. And, somehow, this young woman has a striking resemblance to a figure in a mysterious tapestry found in the Baron estate. Though it was an interesting story, it just felt like it needed something more. I would have liked a little more clarity about who the characters are—particularly the main character—and what their relationships to each other were. The way the story is told, it makes it seem necessary to have a few more of those details. Other than that, it is a splendid update of the original story—very faithful to all the elements of the plot with a more modern twist to them!

It’s Carnival! by Tiffany D. Jackson (3/5)
Inspired by “The Cask of Amontillado”

In this story, a girl named Cindy plans to get her revenge on a man named Darrell using Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Carnival to cover her tracks. It is clear that Darrel has been harassing her and her family relentlessly for years, though not much detail is given. The Cask of Amontillado is one of my favorite Poe tales and I felt that this was a pretty accurate depiction of the general idea of the story. It unfolds in much the same way as the original and that holding back of details is similar to how Poe tells his version. I think my only real issue was that I couldn’t quite get into Jackson’s writing style. It just didn’t click with me and I felt like there was a little something missing, but overall, it is an accurate retelling.

Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton (5/5)
Inspired by “Annabel Lee”

Gratton transforms this classic poem into a short story about lost lovers. A young lady tells of a girl she loves who has tragically fallen ill and passed away. The narrator mourns her Annabel Lee, reminisces of better times, and feels anger at the intolerant whispers of the locals in this beach town. This was my favorite story in the whole collection—I absolutely adored it. It is both beautiful and utterly heartbreaking and is such a brilliant take on the original poem. Gratton did an amazing job of capturing those feelings of loss and longing that emanate from Poe’s writing. A wholly unique and imaginative retelling!

The Glittering Death by Caleb Roehrig (4.25/5)
Inspired by “The Pit and the Pendulum”

In this story, a young girl is captured by an infamous serial killer named “The Judge”. He is going to kill her because he believes she has committed many sins and he wants her to confess them before her time comes. While trapped in a cage in his basement, she realizes she will have to determine how to beat him at his own game if she wants to get out alive. This is just begging to be turned into a full-length psychological thriller novel! The one thing I felt it was lacking was a bit more backstory for the main character. There were a number of plot points, specifically about her relationships with a couple other characters, that were only vaguely touched on. The fact that these plot points were brought up in the first place made some more detail necessary in order to fully develop the story.

A Drop of Stolen Ink by Emily Lloyd-Jones (4.5/5)
Inspired by “The Purloined Letter”

In this story, society has reached a point where our entire identities are written in a tattoo on our bodies that can be scanned whenever our details are needed. This makes it nearly impossible for a person’s identity to be stolen. However, that very thing has happened, and it is up to our main character to find the missing tattoo. Classic mystery/thriller style plot meets futuristic tech? Sign me up! I absolutely loved this story—it was definitely my kind of thing. Once again, this is another story that I would absolutely love seeing turned into a full novel!

Happy Days, Sweetheart by Stephanie Kuehn (2/5)
Inspired by “The Tell-Tale Heart”

In this story, we follow a girl who is dealing with a lot of pressure from herself to be the best but is struggling with being a minority in her school. She continuously loses out to a rich, white boy who does not put the same effort into things as she does. As the end of senior year approaches, she will do anything to become valedictorian. The Tell-Tale Heart is another one of my favorite Poe stories. However, I ended up not really liking this retelling. I do think it was very accurate and featured many of the important plot elements from the original. And, while I definitely understand the message Kuehn is trying to convey, I feel that this particular story is just not the right one to use in order to do that. I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about this one.

The Raven (Remix) by Amanda Lovelace (N/A)
Inspired by “The Raven”

This is a blackout poetry version of “The Raven” (one of my favorite poems of all time). Essentially, Lovelace takes the original poem and blacks out portions of the text in order to reveal a new poem that she has created from Poe’s words. Unfortunately, there was an error here with the digital ARC and nothing was blacked out, so I cannot give a rating or review on this one. However, I absolutely love Amanda Lovelace and her poetry is always so beautiful and creative. I am certain I will enjoy reading this when the collection officially releases.

Changeling by Marieke Nijkamp (4/5)
Inspired by “Hop-Frog”

In this story, the children in society who are deemed “crippled” are either being treated unfairly or just left to fend for themselves. There is a tale of the fae coming to gather these children and bring them to a better life that many of them are hopeful is true. We follow a character who was once found and taken in by the fae and who now does the same for others—while also aiding them if they wish to take revenge on those who have wronged them. This one felt like a dark fairytale and I loved that. It was definitely an interesting and unique take on the original story.

The Oval Filter by Lamar Giles (5/5)
Inspired by “The Oval Portrait”

This is the story of a guy named Tariq whose girlfriend has recently been murdered. Suddenly, she is haunting his Instagram feed, her constantly changing image in the oval profile picture helping lead Tariq to discover who has killed her. I had not read The Oval Portrait prior to this but I ended up absolutely loving both versions. Giles definitely captures the highly unsettling nature of the original work using our modern-day portraits—profile pictures. The changing image in the oval filter is described so vividly and the way it is used is truly creepy. Giles did a fantastic job of setting a clear and intense tone and atmosphere in a short amount of time.

Red by Hillary Monahan (2/5)
Inspired by “The Masque of the Red Death”

Despite being familiar with and having studied The Masque of the Red Death, I was honestly quite confused by this story. I couldn’t really figure out what was happening. We follow this mysterious girl with red hair and it is clear that she is some sort of otherworldly being out for revenge. But that’s about all I figured out. There are many references to names used within the original story, such as the bar the girl ends up at having the same name and distinct internal color scheme as the home where the guests are hiding from the plague in Poe’s version. The ending produces the same result as the original text. However, I could not figure out why anything was happening or anything about the girl and what exactly she is. I do have to give Monahan credit for making such a fascinatingly atmosphere setting, though.

Lygia by Dahlia Adler (5/5)
Inspired by “Ligeia”

In this story, our main character loses the girl she is deeply in love with to cancer. Then one day at school, she passes Lygia’s locker only to see a new girl who is somewhat reminiscent of Lygia—reminiscent enough that the narrator begins to do everything she can to make her the spitting image of Lygia. This is exactly the type of story that I love and I desperately wish this was a full-length novel. And that ending! I totally want to hear more of this story. I read the original “Ligeia” alongside this one as I had not read it before and felt that it was a very unique yet accurate retelling.

The Fall of the Bank of Usher by Fran Wilde (4/5)
Inspired by “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Here, we follow twins who, together, are the hacker phenom “Madrik”. They receive an email inviting them to a bank in need of their skills to test their new security system. Once the twins arrive, however, it is clear that something much more sinister is at play. The sci-fi/hacker story nerd in me was very pleased with this one. The only “complaint” I had was that I wish this had been longer. There were so many fascinating pieces of technology I wanted more details on, and I would have loved to hear more of the twins’ backstory. Nevertheless, I thought this was an absolutely brilliant modernization of the original tale. Taking the creepy and inexplicable things that ensnare the house in the original story and transforming them into things like biotech and robotics was so great!

The Murders in the Rue Apartelle, Boracay by Rin Chupeco (3/5)
Inspired by “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

In this story, we follow a transgender girl as she falls in love with a man who takes her on a wild journey. She marvels at his attention to detail and remarkable powers of deduction. After spending days together exploring the area, they find out that a double murder has taken place and they are swept up into the investigation. This kind of had some Sherlock Holmes vibes, which I liked. It was an interesting story, but I never felt like I was all that invested in it or the characters. I think part of it was the writing style. I have read and enjoyed Rin Chupeco’s work in the past, but have also found her writing style a bit difficult to get in to. It was a very faithful retelling of the original, however, with a neat, fantastical twist!

Overall, I had a really great time reading this. I definitely very highly recommend giving this collection a go if you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or any of these wonderful YA authors!

4.0 TARDISes

Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teens, LGBTQ Reads, and Frolic by night, and an author of Young Adult and New Adult novels at every spare moment in between. Her books include the Daylight Falls duology, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University trilogy, and her short stories can be found in the anthologies The Radical Element, All Out, It’s a Whole Spiel, and His Hideous Heart, which she also edited. Dahlia lives in New York with her husband, son, and an obscene amount of books, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @MissDahlELama.

Contributors:

Dahlia Adler
Kendare Blake
Rin Chupeco
Lamar Giles
Tessa Gratton
Tiffany D. Jackson
Stephanie Kuehn
Emily Lloyd-Jones
amanda lovelace
Hillary Monahan
Marieke Nijkamp
Caleb Roehrig
Fran Wilde

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Ziggy, Stardust and Me Blog Tour: Guest Post by Author James Brandon

ziggystardustandmeblogtour

Today’s post is a guest post by author James Brandon. His debut novel, Ziggy, Stardust and Me, released on August 8th. Since music is a central theme in the novel, I’ve asked him to tell us what theme songs he would pick for each of his characters. Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an absolutely beautiful novel about self-discovery, love, acceptance, and finding the strength to stand up for what you believe in. It is a beautiful story and I cannot recommend it highly enough, so please make sure to check it out! 🙂

What theme song would you choose for each character and why?

Such a great question! For me, music is the key to unlocking closed doors within our soul, doors we may be too scared to open ourselves or are afraid to face. This is why music is a huge part of Jonathan’s world; it’s his form of escape, his way of coping with the awfulness that continues to assault him in “the real world.” In fact, while writing the first drafts of Ziggy and discovering Jonathan’s character, I found a musicality to his voice that I think really speaks to the inner workings of his mind, and hopefully adds a more intimate connection to his personal journey.

Music of the early seventies was revolutionary: from glam rock to Soul Train, every faction of marginalized society was finding its voice in new modes of musical expression. And I wanted Ziggy, Stardust & Me to be a soundtrack of the time, a nostalgic look back at some of the greatest music ever created. So even before the initial drafts, I had a theme song in mind for each character because I knew it would allow me a deeper connection to their being…

For Jonathan, the obvious album is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Ziggy Stardust is his Messiah after all.) But his theme song is “Rock N’ Roll Suicide.” I quote a lyric from this track at the beginning of Part Three because this is the song Jonathan plays on repeat as he faces some horrific battles in his life. Bowie screams, “You’re not alone,” over and over again at the end of the song, and those three words became Jonathan’s only lifeline to what was left of his spirit.

For Web, Jonathan’s love interest, his first obsession is Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon. And for good reason: the album is frigging genius and, when listened to carefully, can take you on a roller coaster ride to the depths of your soul. It’s confident, fearless and unapologetic, just like Web. But I’d also attach “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King to his character; it balances his feminine side while also directly speaking to his inner journey.

For Starla, Jonathan’s best friend, the song she’s currently playing on repeat is “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack. It’s soulful and powerful, spiritual and strong—all traits I think Starla possesses. I’d also add, “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” as her theme song; Starla’s a budding activist, a true believer in making your voice heard to effectively create change. And as she steps more confidently into this part of her being, she begins to discover her own inner power.

For Jonathan’s dad, his personal soundtrack is Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or “Dream On” by Aerosmith. (Both of which you’ll find him singing in the narrative.) For lack of a better description, there’s a nostalgic aggressiveness to these songs I love for him. Jonathan’s father longs for lost memories, clings desperately to them, and is so lost in the past he won’t allow himself to see the love that’s right in front of him.

There’s a theme song for every character in the story, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are. 🙂 And if you want to enjoy any of the songs mentioned in the novel to fully immerse yourself in Jonathan’s world, I created a Spotify playlist to take you deeper on the journey: 

https://open.spotify.com/user/1261155990/playlist/477lx4RRdyv3Qse0laMLte?si=8_H0w_4HTRGaZBXlqBLEfQ&nd=1

Book Info:

ziggystardustandmeZiggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Penguin Random House

The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA.

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Author Bio:

18089438James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for a decade, and is codirector of the documentary film based on their journey, Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He’s the cofounder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Powwow Steering Committee for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington PostBelieve Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health MagazineZiggy, Stardust and Me is his first novel. You can visit James Brandon at justbejb.com

Blogger Campaign Schedule:

Week One: Ziggy, Stardust and Me

August 5 – The Book Bratz – Covers inspired by favorite singers

August 6 – Goblet of Fiction – Creative Instagram Picture

August 7 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Author Guest Post: What theme song would you choose for each character and why?

August 8 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Playlist

August 9 – Velarisreads – Inspired by the Book: Makeup

Week Two

August 12 – Liv The Book Nerd – Review + Playlist

August 13 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review

August 14 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Raves and Craves

August 15 – LGBT YA Catalog – Author Guest Post

August 16 – @booksandbrandy – Creative Instagram Picture

 

Week One: As Many Nows As I Can Get

August 19 – Just Add a Word – Review + Playlist

August 20 – Evil Queen Books – Moodboard + Review

August 21 – NovelKnight Book Reviews – Author Guest Post: What are the benefits and struggles of creating a character-reader connection with a non-linear timeline? In other words, what is the process of writing characters that readers can become invested in while also alternating through the past and present?

August 22 – So She Tries – Creative Instagram Picture

August 23 – Thrifty Bibliophile – Playlist

Week Two

August 26 – The Geeky Yogi – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

August 27 – Two Points of Interest – Review

August 28 – Wishful Endings – Moodboard + Instagram Picture

August 29 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Author Interview

August 30 – High Lit Books – Review

 

Week One: We Speak in Storms

September 2 – Book Princess Reviews – Books that Blend Magic and Real Life

September 3 – A Court of Coffee and Books – Moodboard + Review

September 4 – Emma Reads – Review + Inspired by the Book

September 5 – Fiction No Chaser – Review

September 6 – The Bookish Chick – Playlist + Review

Week Two

September 9 – BW Reviews – Review

September 10 – Books and Wildflowers – Listicle: 10 Things to Keep You Occupied During a Storm

September 11 – Musings of a (Book) Girl – Listicle: Items you should pack for a Tornado

September 12 – ELA Everyday – Creative Instagram Picture + Review

September 13 – Book Fidelity – Review

 

Week One: The Stars and The Blackness Between Them

September 16 – Forever and Everly – Moodboard + Review

September 17 – The Paige-Turner – Creative Instagram Picture

September 18 – The Library Voice – Author Guest Post

September 19 – Books and Blends – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

Week Two

September 23 – GladiatorGlory – Inspired by the Book: Makeup

September 24 – The Heart of a Book Blogger – Moodboard

September 25 – The Baroness of Books – Favorite Quote Graphics + Review

September 26 – Fictionally Sam – Review

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Review: One Little Secret by Cate Holahan

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onelittlesecretOne Little Secret by Cate Holahan

My Rating: 2.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: July 9th, 2019

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Pages: 320 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Everyone has a secret. For some, it’s worth dying to protect. For others, it’s worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town – and desperate for some kid-free conversation – she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others’ marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

Going in, this book seemed like it would be right up my alley in terms of the types of mystery/thriller novels I enjoy. So I am disappointed to say that I came out with rather mixed feelings about it—it was just a bit underwhelming for me. On the one hand, this story is packed with a few too many clichés and there are a number of elements of the plot that could have been executed better. On the other hand, it is a fast and fairly entertaining read that still completely held my attention all the way through. All this being said, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of my issues with the narrative are simply connected to my personal taste.

The characters that make up the intriguing cast of this story are definitely not particularly likable people. The tension in the house is incredibly palpable with the constant stilted interactions, nasty thoughts, and full-blown arguments. And they will immediately have you questioning why in the world they would ever agree to go on vacation together for a week in the first place. Despite this, there are still redeemable qualities in some of them and not everyone is quite as bad as they seem in the beginning.

Though my mixed feelings really apply to every aspect of this novel, I thought the characterization was decent. I found most of the characters to be realistic and thought they had a good amount of dimension. The majority of them evolved—along with my opinion of them—as the story progressed and as more of their backgrounds were revealed. Many of them are dislikable, but in a very purposeful way—you are meant to be suspicious of them for a while, and almost all of them do end up acting poorly at some point. I did feel like this only added to their believability. There are a couple characters—only one main one—who are quite one dimensional and somewhat unrealistic, but this is avoided for the most part.

Quite honestly, this novel is absolutely full of adult mystery novel clichés. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Commonly used elements can still make for a great story and I do not think that this is an entirely negative thing when it comes to this one. I do think it is a bit overdone. The topics used to create drama between the couples and in the plot of the novel overall are well written for what they are. There are scenes of domestic abuse that are so realistically portrayed they are quite intense and hard to read. The themes of betrayal are very vivid and the moments of insecurity are extremely relatable. All in all, Holahan truly brings every theme dealt with in this novel to life in a multi-dimensional way.

The issue here—and it is certainly more related to personal preference than an actual problem with the story—is that these commonly used plot points became too overwhelming. Trying to crowd all of them in caused the originality of the narrative to take a significant hit. Every unique moment is overshadowed by tropes like infidelity, abuse, alcoholism, and petty arguments. Though these topics are common in many novels and add a good deal of tension and drama, there needs to be more substance. In this novel, it felt like one was being piled onto the next just for the sake of raising more issues for the couples rather than actually building or progressing the plot.

The most major element of the novel that I feel could have been executed better is the creation of suspicion in the reader’s mind. A mystery novel should allow the reader to form their own thoughts about and distrust in the possible culprits by subtly directing their attention to potential motives. While Holahan does do that in some ways, it lacks a lot of that subtlety and ends up coming across as a bit forced. Though every person in the house is clearly going to be a suspect, there are constant and far too obvious reminders of why they could be guilty. It becomes very over-the-top and detracts from the suspense of the plot.

I definitely think Holahan could have left a little room for the reader to come to their own conclusions about each of the characters’ potential for being the killer. Developing them more naturally and relying solely on laying out personalities and backstories with the progression of the plot would have allowed for this. It is easy to get a clear picture of each character and form one’s own opinion based on the way she does these things over the course of the novel. However, too often the narrative strays toward a less delicate way of weaving in distrust of the characters, instead, pointing the finger quite plainly from one person to the next.

Another element of the novel I feel could have been executed better is the narrowing down of suspects over the course of the story. As the narrative progresses, each of the potential killers is cleared one by one until there are only two left in the end. This approach, for me, sort of killed the suspense. It would have kept me more on the edge of my seat if Holahan had left a few more options in there. This, though, is undeniably something that did not work for me personally and could easily be perfectly fine for a different reader. As it stands, I found the ending to be extremely predictable and it fell rather flat. I have to say, the choice of the killer upset me a bit for a number of reasons as well.

The writing itself is a strong point in this book. I really like Holahan’s writing style—it flows very naturally and is easy to get into. Her descriptions are very vivid and help to pull the reader into the story. She sets the scene for all the mystery and deception well, forming an environment that reflects the tone and emotion of each scene. The narrative never lacks realism, helping to immerse the reader and connect them with the setting and characters.

Now, after all that I have said, it may seem like this reading experience was a primarily negative one, but that is not entirely true. There were a lot of issues I personally had with it but, as I said before, I doubt they would apply to everyone. Personal taste was a big factor here. Also, I was very engaged in the story. I did not absolutely love it but it held my attention from beginning to end and I was truly interested in finding out how everything would resolve. Despite the predictability of many plot points, there were still enough surprises to keep me guessing. Overall, this is a novel that I would recommend giving a try. I know it is something that plenty of readers will find enjoyment in.

2.5 TARDISes

Author Bio:

13482092Cate Holahan is the USA Today Bestselling author of The Widower’s Wife, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns, all published by Crooked Lane Books. The Widower’s Wife was named to Kirkus’ best books of 2016. An award-winning journalist and former television producer, she has written for BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, and The Record newspaper. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer’s group of American Mensa. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, ages 7 and 5, and dog Westley. She graduated from Princeton University in 2002.

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Review: Changeling by William Ritter

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changelingChangeling by William Ritter

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Oddmire #1

Date Published: July 16th, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 272 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I absolutely loved this novel. It is such a fun and magical read with just the right amount of suspense and creepiness to it. At its’ core, it is a beautiful story of love, belonging, and the true meaning of family. It shows the bravery and strength one can find in themselves when protecting the ones they love. On top of being an action-packed adventure, this story is also full of heart and positive messages. Changeling is a fast-paced and fantastical journey. I was hooked from page one and I never wanted it to end.

In this novel, we follow two young brothers, Tinn and Cole. By looking at them, they appear to be human twins—however, one of them is actually a changeling. When a goblin named Kull’s plan to switch the human baby for the goblin one goes wrong, they are both left behind. For years, their mother Annie raises the boys as brothers despite the unusual circumstances. They live as a normal family, though the boys have always wondered what they are deep down. When, at twelve years old, Tinn and Cole receive a mysterious message telling the changeling they must return to the Wild Wood and save the dying magic, they set off on a dangerous adventure to cross the Oddmire swamp and find the goblin horde.

The unique and colorful cast of characters is the driving force of this narrative. Each one has a distinct and memorable personality that adds depth and dimension to the world as a whole. Tinn and Cole are such loveable characters with a beautiful relationship—they are truly the definition of brothers. They both have very individual personalities that mesh together really well. Annie is a remarkable mother who loves the two boys equally and thinks of them as her own no matter what. She is such a strong and brave character, risking everything to find and protect them once they have run off on their journey. Ritter also packs this novel with imaginative magical beings. It is clear that he has put much time and effort into forming every aspect of the setting and the creatures and weaving those two elements tightly together.

It is incredibly interesting to hear the internal conflicts the boys have about discovering who the changeling is. They both have reasons to believe that they are the changeling due to a part of themselves and their personalities that they are unable to understand or explain. For instance, Cole wonders why he is always so compelled to cause trouble and do things he knows he shouldn’t. On the other hand, they both believe the other deserves to be the human because of what a good person they are. They both want the absolute best for the other, despite their own fears of being the changeling. It shows just how much they love and care about each other.

William Ritter does a wonderful job crafting this novel. His writing flows seamlessly and is incredibly easy to get sucked into and follow. His descriptions are vivid as he builds the unique world and palpable atmosphere of the narrative. The mysterious and treacherous nature of the Wild Wood is shown so well in the way he constructs the environment. From the encroaching trees with their gnarled roots to the mist that permeates the air, the suspense of Tinn and Cole’s journey is drastically enhanced. Ritter consistently blends reality with magic that will spark readers’ imaginations. This is true for every part of the world, making it incredibly multi-dimensional and highly immersive.

This novel fits the middle-grade genre perfectly. It is one of those universally enjoyable novels, offering something that both children and adults alike will love. The messages packed into the story are inspiring and heartwarming—they are great things for a young audience to learn about. The ideas that family can truly be found in others whether they are related to you or not and the importance of taking care of those you love are beautiful and meaningful messages to understand. The darkness in the story never becomes overwhelming and is very suitable for younger readers. Overall, this was a charming read. I cannot wait to see more from this series.

5.0 TARDISes

Author Bio:

Ritter,_Will_HR (c) Katrina SantoroWilliam Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Oddmire is Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers. Visit him online at rwillritter.wordpress.com and find him on Twitter: @Willothewords. 

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The Top 10 Virtues of The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

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Today’s post is part of the blog tour for the recently released young adult novel The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren. Huge thanks to Penguin Teen for giving me the opportunity to participate and to help promote this fantastic book. This is the story of two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays the importance of not always taking what people in power say at face value, fighting for equality, and learning to accept others—and oneself—for who they are.

There are so many aspects of this story that appealed to both the book nerd and psychology nerd in me and I was completely absorbed from the start. So, while thinking about a topic for this post, I decided I would like to share what I found to be the strongest aspects (the virtues) of The Virtue of Sin!

Book Info:

thevirtueofsinThe Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

Date Published: June 25th, 2019

Publisher: Philomel Books

Pages: 432 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together. 

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

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Strong female lead

Miriam is an incredibly strong female lead right from the very beginning of the novel. She does not want to put up with the suppression and ill treatment of women that the men of the cult have turned into an accepted way of life. She gradually finds her voice and stands up for not just herself and the other women, but for everyone who is under the control of the Prophet. Headstrong and intelligent, Miriam makes a wonderful protagonist.

Distinct dual perspectives

This story is not just told from Miriam’s perspective but also from Caleb’s, the boy she’s sure she is meant to marry. Alternating between these characters and seeing every situation through two different sets of eyes made this an even more intriguing plot. Schuren writes these narrators well, making their voices distinct from the other, which can be a challenge when working with more than one point of view.

Beautiful writing

Schuren’s writing style is definitely one of the strongest aspects of this novel. I found it very easy to get into and it had a very captivating quality to it. It was not just the story but the way she told it and worded it that held me in the narrative. The writing and the message it sends are both beautiful.

Detailed and realistic worldbuilding

I found Schuren’s worldbuilding to be absolutely fantastic. She creates this extremely detailed and frighteningly realistic picture of what living in a cult is like. She forms both the physical world and the psychological world of these characters through her words. It feels like you are there in the desert—in the supposed safety of the community. You experience the raw emotions and the sinister atmosphere. She really brings this story to life.

Vivid and multi-dimensional characters

Both main characters and side characters alike are multi-dimensional in this story. They are clearly carefully crafted and they evolve and respond realistically to their environment and the events of the novel. They don’t feel flat—they are the driving force of the plot. I felt that I got to know many of the characters well, no matter what size part they play in the grand scheme of things. Just like the worldbuilding, the characters are equally as detailed and fully fleshed out.

Accurate portrayal of psychological aspects

I absolutely love anything to do with psychology—I am actually a forensic psychology major—and the psychology of cults is particularly interesting to study. Seeing the mindsets of both the members and the leaders is both fascinating and chilling. This novel primarily demonstrates how the beliefs and laws a leader comes up with are drilled into members. We see how this warps a person’s thoughts and view of the world and how incredibly challenging it is to break free of these beliefs. Schuren’s depictions of these elements of a cult are very accurate, enraging, and heartbreaking.

Plenty of diversity and a huge focus on equality

The primary subject dealt with in this novel is the unequal and extremely poor treatment of women within the cult. We see how the men silence them and do not allow them to make their own decisions. There are also other elements of unfair treatment of minorities in the plot. The importance of standing up for these types of injustices, whether you are part of that minority or not, and of treating others with respect are shown through this story.

Keeps you on your toes

I was surprised at how many twists there were in this novel that I did not see coming. And I liked every single one. Schuren takes the narrative in a number of unexpected directions. There are so many secrets spilled and revelations that propelled me through every chapter. This is a true page-turner.

Good character development

Tying in with what I said before about the characters being multi-dimensional, Schuren does a good job of clearly indicating how they develop over the course of the story. They learn and grow and evolve. The events that take place and the upheaval they experience consistently affect each character, their actions, and their views of life and the world around them.

An overall captivating story

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint. It was so easy to become engrossed in this novel and I found it extremely hard to put down. Schuren brings so many interesting elements together to create a story that will quickly draw in readers and open their eyes to topics that are very important and timely. I highly recommend picking this up.

Author Bio:

5190994Shannon Schuren (shannon.schuren.org) works as a children’s librarian at a public library and writes from a cozy she-shed in her backyard. Her short stories have appeared in various journals such as Toasted Cheese Literary JournalBig Pulp, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Shannon lives in Sheboygan Falls, WI, with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @shannonschuren.

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One: The Virtue of Sin

June 24 – Cozybooknook – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

June 25 – The Book Shire – Playlist

June 26 – JeanBookNerd – Author Guest Post: What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on THE VIRTUE OF SIN?   

June 27 – The Quirky Booknerd – Listicle: The Top 10 Virtues of The Virtues of Sin

June 28 – YA Books Central – Author Guest Post: Ten Random Facts about The Virtue of Sins (or yourself)

Week Two: The Downstairs Girl

July 1 – Nerdy By Nature – Review

July 2 – YA Wednesdays – Creative Instagram Picture

July 3 – Awkwordly Emma – Author Guest Post: Her Research Process

July 4 – It Starts at Midnight – Moodboard

July 5 – The Reading Corner for All – Book Aesthetic

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