Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases of Summer 2019

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Hey everyone!

I can’t believe it’s almost summer already and we’ll be going into the second half of 2019! Just like with my last seasonal post, I have changed from “top five” to “top ten” because there are way too many amazing releases coming out this summer. This was difficult to narrow down, but I have finally picked out the ten books that I am most excited to get my hands on over the next few months!

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo (July 2nd, 2019)

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When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.
Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening–impossible things–Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.
But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Beautiful Creatures Kami Garcia, and artist Gabriel Picolo, comes this first graphic novel in the Teen Titans series for DC Ink, Teen Titans: Raven.

The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele (July 9th, 2019)

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If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope?
After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning.
But between Beatrix and Carson lie 3,000 miles. With no internet or phone or postal service, can they find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos, who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross-country lovers.
The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about reliance and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.

Changeling by William Ritter (July 16th, 2019)

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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.

The Doctor by Lisa Stone (July 25th, 2019)

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How much do you know about the couple next door? 
When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone. 
When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger? 
A gripping, sinister thriller with a twist you won’t see coming from the international bestseller Lisa Stone.

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (July 30th, 2019)

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Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…
With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (August 6th, 2019)

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

The Whisper Man by Alex North (August 20th, 2019)

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of suspense, as a father and son are caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.
After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.
But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.
Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.
And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool (September 3rd, 2019)

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The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it? 
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey (September 3rd, 2019)

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Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep the skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn how to control it, but can’t figure out how.
This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart.
But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must decide the possible from the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (September 5th, 2019)

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When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

What upcoming releases are you guys looking forward to? Are we excited about any of the same books? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Tuesday – June 4th, 2019

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is your top ten favorite books from your favorite genre. I’m sure many regular readers of the blog already know of my fantasy addiction, so picking my favorite genre is quite an easy job. As for my top ten favorite fantasy novels…well…this might be a bit tricky! Let’s see what we can do…

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Circe by Madeline Miller

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (Click here for my review)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Click here for my review)

Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Click here for my review)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Click here for my review)

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The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz (Click here for my review)

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras (Click here for my review)

What is your favorite genre to read? What are some of your favorite novels from it? I would absolutely love some recommendations, so definitely make sure to let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Tuesday – May 21st, 2019

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books that you refuse to let anyone touch. I have to admit I can get a little weird about my books. I run into this issue where the book lover in me wants to recommend and lend out books to the people in my life while the book collector (*cough* hoarder *cough*) in me is terrified to! I absolutely love sharing books but I am also totally obsessive about keeping all of them in great shape. Thankfully, nearly all of my friends and family are book lovers and many of them feel the same way that I do, so I can be sure that they’ll take good care of them!

However, there are definitely a few books that I refuse to let anyone touch! A number of them are series, not just one book, but that totally counts, right? I’ll try to use pictures I’ve taken over the years of my actual copies of the books where I can.

Circe by Madeline Miller

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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The Sherlock Holmes series

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My collection of Christina Henry novels

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The Wayward Children series

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The Illuminae Files

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The Lunar Chronicles

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Leather bound Doctor Who book

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Victoria Schwab hardcovers

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My collection of Robin Hobb novels

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How do you guys feel about lending out your books? What books do you own that you won’t let anyone else touch? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Second Lives by P.D. Cacek

secondlivesSecond Lives by P.D. Cacek

My Rating: 2.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: April 11th, 2019

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Pages: 256 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: When four patients unexpectedly wake after being declared dead, their families are ecstatic and the word “miracle” begins to be whispered throughout the hospital. But the jubilation is short lived when the patients don’t respond to their names and insist they are different people. It is suggested all four are suffering from fugue states until one of the doctors recognizes a name and verifies that he not only knew the girl but was there when she died in 1992. It soon becomes obvious that the bodies of the four patients are now inhabited by the souls of people long dead.

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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 had very mixed feelings about Second Lives. I also feel like it is going to be a little on the tricky side to explain as there is a lot of jumping around between various storylines. It is not particularly challenging to follow when reading it by any means. But having such a variety of perspectives has made it hard for me to pin down all of my thoughts about the novel as a whole. This was incredibly different from what I had expected going in. It is a very character driven novel and focuses less on the sort of sci-fi aspects—the explanations for why these unbelievably strange events are occurring. And though I do like when the development of the characters takes the lead, it felt like there was a lot missing from the plot.

In this novel, we follow eight different people’s stories, which technically pares down to four after the first part of the book. To set up the story, we get a brief view of every main character’s background and how they get into the situations they end up in. Four of these characters have died at some point in the past and the other four, in the present, have fallen into comas or are in some way very near death. However, something extraordinary happens when each of these patients suddenly wakes up after they have been declared dead. But what seems like a miracle soon becomes a nightmare for their loved ones when it is determined that the souls of others who have passed away many years before have taken up residence in these four peoples’ bodies.

Of course, this is a very fictional story, so it does seem a bit silly to comment too much on the plausibility of what occurs. To some extent though, having some amount of believability is crucial in order to allow readers to connect with and become immersed in the narrative. For me personally, there is a huge absence of this here. It is not the idea of other’s souls inhabiting the bodies of the recently deceased—that is a completely common and very interesting theme in science fiction. My issue is with both the lack of focus on how these events occur, as well as the way the characters’ loved ones handle their unique situations.

The portrayal of the main characters is, for the most part, the strongest aspect of this novel. Nora was, by far, my favorite of the bunch. I connected with her immediately and her storyline felt the most realistic. Her actions throughout the narrative—particularly the difficult decisions she has to make—were the most understandable. She is the most fleshed out of all the characters and Cacek puts a lot of detail and time into forming her and her life. The main themes dealt with in Nora’s part are actually ones that I tend to avoid due to personal experiences that make it too painful to read about. However, this is one of the very few exceptions I have come across in my life and, though it was still incredibly emotional, I really did like how things were handled.

On the opposite side of this, the other three perspectives are less detailed and go in directions that are pretty unbelievable. I never felt like I could picture these people as clearly—it is hard to get a handle on their personalities and relationships with others. Because of this, I could not connect with any of them particularly well. The choices they make in the end are odd and, honestly, a few are a bit uncomfortable. One huge plus though is that Cacek does a wonderful job of making each person very distinct. Having so many separate perspectives can oftentimes lead to a lack of definition between the various voices and behaviors of the individual characters. She avoids this pitfall very well.

As far as the actual text itself, Cacek’s writing is very good. She is clearly a talented and imaginative writer. I think the biggest issue is that she just took on way too many topics in too short a novel. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to fully address and expand on the most important areas. A lot of problems might have been solved if she had stretched the narrative out a little more. Also, the science fiction aspect of it could have transformed into something clearer and very captivating instead of feeling like a loose end. Despite the issues I had with it though, this was still an interesting read overall, and I would recommend giving it a try.

2.5 TARDISes

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Recent TBR Additions #1

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Hi Everyone!

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. I’ve been having a major flare up with my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and needed to take some time to focus on resting and recovering. But I’ve missed you guys and posting so much! I’m hoping I can start getting some writing done over the next few days and get some new reviews up for you guys. For today though, I hope you don’t mind a bit of a shorter post. I’ve discovered and added a lot of really interesting books to my TBR lately and I thought I would share the ones I’m most excited to read!

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Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell

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Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Shadowscent by P.M. Freestone

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Dragon Speaker by Elana A. Mugdan

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

What have you guys been reading lately? Have you made any recent TBR additions that you are particularly excited for? Let me know in the comments!

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This is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale Blog Tour

Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for an upcoming young adult novel, This Is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale. 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 May 7th!

Book Info:

41150303This Is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale

Date Published: May 7th, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 320 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This Is Not A Love Scene rings brilliantly true from the first page to the last.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Funny, emotional, and refreshingly honest, S.C. Megale’s This is Not a Love Scene is for anyone who can relate to feeling different while navigating the terrifying and thrilling waters of first love.

Lights, camera—all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She’s got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection…and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can’t be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric. 

Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy—right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won’t be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And the future might not wait for either.

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Book Excerpt

I liked being ridden, and offered the chance to pretty much every guy in Video II. I guess it made me feel as if I had something to contribute to the group.

So when Elliot jumped on the back of me and I felt his weight pull me down, I smiled. Pushed the wheelchair joystick. Increased acceleration. The smooth terrain of Jackson Memorial Mall was perfect for showing off.

“Kim Possible, I mean, I thought she was attractive— that doesn’t mean I needed to start jacking.” Elliot laughed behind me, full of life. He was eighteen, like me. Tall, black, he wore skinny jeans and the hoodie of a band I’d never heard of. We were debating which animated characters of our youth were worthy of sexual awakenings.

“Robin Hood could get it from Little Maeve,” I said. “The Disney one, the fox.” I don’t know. He had a mischievous smile.

“Disney?” said Elliot. He shook the handlebar of my wheelchair near my ear.

“Kim Possible is Disney,” I retorted.

“Disney Channel, completely different ball game.” “No way! Disney jack sesh!” I said.

“Maeve,” Mags, my best friend, reprimanded me from my right.

Air conditioners wafted along the scent of free-sample lotion and buttery pretzels. One of those pretzels was folded in a paper bag resting on my footplate. KC had dove in front of the register to buy it for me. I couldn’t lift my arm high enough to swat away his credit card.

“Abuse of the disabled,” I’d accused.

We cruised our way back towards the food court now, after a few loops of circling.
About halfway through Video II an hour ago, my classmates and I—Elliot, Mags, KC, and Nate—had decided to dip for the mall. Not that we’d been doing anything in class. Mags had been sitting on the floor at my wheels, reading Bridge to Terabithia, and I was swiping through last night’s fun with Hot Tinder Guy. “Mags, look.” I’d shoved my screen in her face. She looked up from her book and then away real fast. All she must have caught were the words swallow and babe.

“Oh my God, Maeve.”

I grinned and returned to the screen. I knew it was messed up, but I was proud I’d successfully sexted a guy from Tinder. I mean . . . after eighteen years of experience trying otherwise, it seemed like it could only happen on Tinder. With the photos I’d chosen, the guy couldn’t see the whole me.

“He’s so hot,” I’d said.

“He’s not, though.” Mags hadn’t looked up from her book.

She was petite with long, dyed red hair, and I was mad jealous of her in Video I until I realized having to reject a guy every day, like she did, sucked almost as much as never getting that chance, like I didn’t.

Despite my handicap, I looked all right, I guessed. Brown hair and eyes, almost acceptable weight at just under a hundred pounds. I sat a little crooked, but whenever someone held a camera up, I made sure to lean against my scoliosis so you could barely tell. My skin was nice. I always wore the same blue, low-top Converse shoes. And I had other things going for me—humor and dreams and an attempt at positivity. My life’s ambition was to be a famous director, and I had twelve scripts completed by the age of sixteen.

Mr. Billings, Seefeldt High School’s premier film teacher, had to combine Video I and II this semester in order for the school not to cancel both electives due to low enrollment. There was this really valiant entreaty at the beginning of the year in which Billings convinced the principal we were worth holding the class on block days, and the principal conceded with the requisite that Billings film the football games for the coaches every Friday. Then maybe he’d consider having Billings film baseball in the spring so we could have Video III. Billings literally took one for the team. But we were usually left to our own devices while he taught the newbies to render shit onto their Mac desktops. This was the first time things got bad enough for us to ditch.

The mall crowd’s chatter rose near the food court. We picked a table for three since KC and Nate had left for physics; it was just Elliot, Mags, and me. Elliot hopped off my wheelchair and took a seat to my right. I bulldozed aside a chair and it screeched on the tile as Mags sat on my left.

Flapping ears and a jingle of dog chains ripped through the air next to Mags, and I looked down. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to let Mags hold the leash of my service dog. His nonprofit company had strict rules. But the way she’d walked through the mall with her leash hand dangling down, blasé as shit (not to mention totally able-bodied) to match François’ blasé-as-shit expression amused me. Only two years old, François wore a blue-and- gold vest and silver choke collar. His half retriever, half Labrador fur was almost white, and everyone pretty much had to resist the urge to scrunch all that extra skin over his large brown eyes. I mean, that and the fact that his name was François.

Normally those eyes were dull and disinterested. Now, he looked up at me and gently swayed. Food.

I mouthed no warmly, and he kept wagging.

“Fam, I don’t know what we’re doing,” said Mags, gazing absently around the food court and twirling François’ leash on her wrist.

Elliot draped across the sticky linoleum table. “I know.” He covered his face. “We need these damn shirts.”

“I mean, we’re filming next week; that’s still enough time for eBay.” I lowered my left arm for François to slap with his tongue. My right was too stiff and weak to hang down that far.

“Do they have to be identical?” said Mags. “Can some of the actors just have, like, different uniforms?”

“Nah . . .” Elliot and I answered simultaneously. We were codirecting the group’s final project for Video II. I was glad we were on the same page. Most times.

“Imma get a wrap.” Elliot drew out his wallet and plucked a few bills. “You guys want anything?”

“No, thanks,” said Mags. He pointed at me. “Maeve?”

I smiled. “I’m good, thanks.” “Aight.”

Elliot left me with just Mags, his cologne pushing the air. They were comfortable with me—my classmates. I had that weird bubbling happiness in my chest that reminded me it’s not normal for me to feel normal. Being born with a neuromuscular disease that cripples your strength and locks up your joints and confines you to a wheelchair made normal an unrealistic standard. I had a form of muscular dystrophy, which is a pretty big sucky umbrella of genetic diseases that erode muscles and get worse as time goes on until you basically shrivel up like plastic sheets in the microwave.

As a baby, I’d begun to lose milestones rather than gain them. Only weeks after my first steps, I started to fall over and eventually never get back up. A shake developed. Making sure I could breathe whenever I came down with something became critical. But the severity of the condition varies for no explicable reason—there are those with my disability who use standers and others who are already dead. What’s really messed up is when I drag through Google images of others with my disease that’re frailer and more twisted just so I can think: Screw that, I’m not like you.

Yet.

Sometimes I’m an asshole, but only in my head.

“How are you doing?” said Mags. Her pretty eyes watched me with a mix of sympathy and refreshing nonchalance. Pain wriggled in my stomach. We’d been texting, and she knew I was depressed.

You’d think my reason for depression was, like, hospital visits and wheelchair parts on back order, right? I don’t grieve my disability; I grieve the shitty side effects of it. Sure, you make the best of being different. I’ve shaken a lot of hands and looked into a lot of tear-filled eyes of really rich people I somehow inspired to make a donation that won’t solve any of my problems. But for the most part? The pain of having a condition is about rejection and desires to feel human in ways that can never possibly be filled.

“Maeve?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“You’re fine. Have you heard from R?”

Ugh. I don’t let my friends use his name anymore. “No.” I shifted.

“I’m sorry.”

I cringed. It sounded so final when Mags apologized. “I’m used to it,” I said. “I wouldn’t want me either.”

“That’s stupid,” said Mags. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s true.”

“Nah, fam, it’s stupid.” She never let me get away with bullshit and I smiled.

François sniffed the air gingerly with pushed-back ears and mollified eyes. He sort of looked stoned all the time.

“François,” I said. He looked at me. I’d meant to chastise him, but I actually chuckled instead.

“Oh my Gawd!” a middle-aged woman with long dark hair and Chanel sunglasses (in the mall?) squealed at our table and made us jump. She held a vegan wrap in her manicured nails—I could tell from the VEGAN! VEGAN! VEGAN! print spiraling the wrap paper.

“What a precious dog!” she said, and flipped that o pretty hard in her New York accent.

“Yeah, you can pet him,” said Mags, without asking my permission. “She’s not one of those crazy strict handlers.” She let go of the leash.

“Oh my Gawd.” The woman crouched and kneaded François’ ears in her hands.
With my previous service dog, Martin, now was the time when he’d look at me like: Why? Who is this? How is this supposed to help you?

But François was my European second love and we have an open relationship, so he started smacking his tongue out for her face.

I’d typically use this time to hardcore flirt with whatever guy knelt in front of me, but in general, I was a little less invested in François’ female catches.

“Yes,” the woman cooed. “Yes.” She made kissy noises at François, and Mags and I watched. Our boredom grew into furrowed brows as it started to get a little weird.

“Mwah!” The woman ended strong and rose, facing me. “So cute!”

IF SHE WERE A GUY: “You’re not bad either. Can you pet me now?”

BECAUSE SHE’S NOT: “Thanks.”

“Listen,” the woman said. Uh-oh.

“Have you heard of . . .” Insert charity organization for physical handicap I’ve never heard of.

“Nope.”

“Oh my Gawd, you’re kidding. They’re right here in Fredericksburg!”

“That’s wonderful,” I said.

“We’ve been trying to get a service dog team in to speak to our donors for months. The top investor is a huge dog lover.”
“Aww. Well, I could give you his company info,” I said. “Maybe they can hook you up with a trainer to come in and—”

“Oh, honey, no. The event is next week.”

“Ah,” I said. “What do you do for them?”

“I’m their CFO. Isn’t that right, sweetie?” She cooed down at François. No, I thought, François doesn’t know your career life choices. But François wagged.

“Anyway,” the woman said. “I’m Patricia. I think you would be perfect for inspiring these donors to help out the kids at the special needs camp.”

“Oh . . .”

Mags looked away and suppressed a grin. She knew she couldn’t save me. Anxiety already built in my throat.

“I’m flattered, but I don’t know . . .” I said. But gee, I always had a hard time saying no to special camp kids. “When is it?”

“It’s on the twenty-first; they’ll love you. Oh my Gawd, you’ll be a hit.”

Thank God—an out.

“Damn. I’m filming with my class all day that day.” I motioned to include Mags.

An anvil fell down the woman’s face. The tiny muscles in her expression stiffened. “Sigh.” She actually said sigh. Awkward silence stretched. “If you change your mind, let me know.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “How about I come this summer and read to the kids? Teach them about service dogs?” Blergh. “Do you have a card or anything?”

The corner of her mouth flicked up a little at my offer. “That’d be sweet. I’m out of cards. Just Google the camp. I’m at the bottom of their web page.”

“I will.”

When she left, I only had time to draw in breath at Mags’ comical look before Elliot plopped back down in his seat, wrap and fries on a pink tray.

“Who was that?”

“Some wheelchair charity person,” said Mags. She stole a fry and Elliot unfolded his wrap.

“So what else do we need still for the shoot?” I said as Elliot took a huge bite. “I handled the props. Location is locked. Do the actors know their call times?”

“Mmm!” Elliot hummed around his mouthful. He swallowed. “Bad news. Cole can’t make it.”

“What?”
“I know,” said Elliot.

“No,” I said. “Give me his number. Right now. He’s making it. Dammit.” I rolled my eyes. Actors.

Elliot laughed. “Okay, I will.” “Who is this?” said Mags. “Cole Stone,” said Elliot. “Like the creamery?”

“No,” I said, “like the actor.” Elliot huffed with humor.

“Yo, what did you and Nate 2.0 talk about last night?” Mags asked Elliot. Elliot and Nate went to the new Marvel film together. We call him Nate 2.0 because there was a really creepy Nate in Video I that we don’t talk about anymore.

“I don’t know.” Elliot laughed. “He’s wild.” “Sometimes,” I said. Nate’s humor was hit or miss with me.

“Why sometimes?” said Mags. I noticed she was starting to get defensive and inquisitive and highly interested in Nate.

“I dunno,” I said. “I think he’s really funny, but sometimes I think he doesn’t like me.” I wasn’t sure I really believed that. I wanted to see what they’d say.

“That’s stupid,” said Mags.

“Mmm . . .” said Elliot. We looked at him as he wiped a napkin over his mouth. “He can be insensitive.”

“How?” said Mags.

“He just says things to be funny sometimes and it’s not funny.”

“Like what?” said Mags.

Elliot rolled his shoulders uncomfortably.

“He said something about me, didn’t he?” I said. “What’d he say?”

“I dunno.”

“Come on.”

Elliot sighed. “He said something like . . . Maeve will be a virgin forever.”

Mags fell silent. I did too.

Elliot made a sad, shrugging face. “He’s just immature.” No. He was kind of right, though.
“Don’t listen to him.”

The humor and ease and acceptance I basked in extinguished. My teeth ground together and I nodded, staring across from them at the Chinese buffet. One thing I’ve learned from getting endless feedback on my scripts is that criticism doesn’t hurt unless you kind of agree with it.

“Well . . . that sucks,” said Mags, genuinely.

Elliot rubbed my hand and some of that love flowed back into my blood. “Love you, co-director,” he said.

“Love you, co-director,” I mumbled back. Elliot smiled. I ticked alight my phone on the table.

“My dad’s probably waiting outside,” I said. “I better head out.”

“I’ll walk you out,” said Elliot. “I’ll walk you out,” I said. “Eyyyy . . .” Elliot grinned.
I tapped my joystick and my wheelchair gave its mechanical clicking sound before moving. I froze. François always leapt up from the floor at that sound. I looked down beneath the table and choked.

François was gone.

Author Bio:

SC MegaleS.C. Megale is an author and filmmaker. She’s been profiled in USA Today, The Washington Post, and New York Newsday, and has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and the CBS Evening News for her philanthropic and literary work. As a humanitarian, she’s spoken on the USS Intrepid, at the NASDAQ opening bell, and to universities and doctors nationwide. She enjoys making connections all over the world. 

Megale was raised in the long grass of the Civil War, hunting for relics and catching fireflies along the banks of Bull Run. A shark tooth, flutes, and a flask are some of the items that hang from her wheelchair, and she had a fear of elevators until realizing this was extremely inconvenient. She lives with her family which includes her parents, sister and brother, service dog, and definitely-not-service dog.

Reviews:

Megale is a terrific new voice in the world of YAThis Is Not a Love Scene rings brilliantly true from the first page to the last. Megale’s prose is refreshingly original, her pacing already at a master level, and her storytelling abilities will pull hard on every emotion you have…Look out for this writer.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author

A humorous, hearty novel about the realities (and fantasies) of being a teenager with a disability….Readers will want to zoom in on this [#ownvoices] story featuring a strong, sexually confident, disabled female character.” —Kirkus Reviews 

Informative and inspiring. It makes for an altogether thought-provoking and empathetic reading experience.” —Booklist

This Is Not a Love Scene is so good. S.C. Megale is remarkable… This book is the result of her unswerving determination and undoubted talent.” —John Flanagan, New York Times bestselling author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

My ride-along with Maeve was a joy from first sentence to last. She’s authentic, unabashedly honest, fun to be with, and I still catch myself wondering what she’s been up to lately.” —Eric Lindstrom, author of Not If I See You First   

Megale’s pacing and style are absolutely wonderful. I feel deeply attached to her characters, and I can’t believe how perceptive many of her descriptions/observations are, especially disability related ones.”  —Shane Burcaw, author of Laughing at My Nightmare

This Is Not a Love Scene_Whim 2

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Top Ten Tuesday – April 23rd, 2019

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the first ten books you reviewed. I absolutely love this topic since it has been a long time since I reflected on my blog and how I started out. I’d never reviewed the novels I read before beginning this blog, so these reviews are the first ever that I worked on. I can’t wait to look back on these and also see some of the earliest reviews that you guys wrote!

9/10/15

theadventuresofsherlockholmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

9/12/15

theunfinishedlifeofaddisonstone

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

9/18/15

gonegirl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

9/20/15

redqueen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

10/13/15

jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritter

11/6/15

thebloodcell

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss

11/8/15

thememoirsofsherlockholmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

11/15/15

cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11/20/15

themarvels

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

12/19/15

thewaythroughthewoods

Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

What are some of the first books you guys reviewed? I would absolutely love to read them, so definitely let me know in the comments!

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