Saturday, May 16, 2015

What Remains by Helene Dunbar (Review)

About the Book:
WHAT REMAINS by Helene Dunbar Release Date: May 8, 2015 Publisher: Flux Books Pages: 288
In less than a second... ... two of the things Cal Ryan cares most about--a promising baseball career and Lizzie, one of his best friends--are gone forever. In the hours that follow... ...Cal's damaged heart is replaced. But his life will never be the same. Everyone expects him to pick up the pieces and move on. But Lizzie is gone, and all that remains for Cal is an overwhelming sense that her death was his fault. And a voice in his head that just...won't...stop. Cal thought he and his friends could overcome any obstacle. But grief might be the one exception. And that might take a lifetime to accept...
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Quotes

  She looks at me, vaguely curious, but obviously unsure what I'm getting at.  "Everything changes," I whisper into her hair, which smells a little like paint thinner.  "It wont always be this hard."
And I know, from sitting behind her at an assembly last year, that her hair smells like vanilla cookies.  That smell doesn't make me hungry, though; it makes me feel a lot of other things that make it difficult for me to eat cookies in public.
How I'm feeling?  Is this douchebag serious?  How the hell does he expect me to be feeling?
Review

  Helen Dunbar captured me last year with her stunning novel These Gentle Wounds.  What Remains was no less of a novel and captured my heart in a completely different way.  This author captures moments and emotions in a way that has now made her books a must have for me.  What captures me the most is exactly how well written these novels are, and how much emotion is poured between the pages.  What Remains is a heart wrenching story that shows us what loss can do, and how our minds some times do the unexpected in order to cope.

  To be honest the first turn in plot comes early on in this novel, but I didn't really see it coming.  In hind site I know that I should have but it was so drastic, so fast.  There was a brief moment that I hoped it was some sort of weird dream, but it just kept going.  Not only did it keep going but it had so many unique points that the plot never really dragged.  This was only made better by the fact that there were so many little details that made the bigger things pull you in further.  The little things also never become overwhelming, they are just enough to give you a better picture and make the picture more vivid.  Having said that, there was not a moment that I actually wanted to put this book down.  I stayed awake to read it and don't regret my lack of sleep for one moment.

  Cal was an interesting character.  He was a baseball player and a damn good one, and yet he didn't care to be a part of the popular crowd.  Cal was happy with having his two best friends and living life as it has always been.  Except nothing stays the same, and Cals world is rocked when everything that he thought was set changes.  Change is not Cal's strong suit to start with but loosing two of the most important things to him does something to him.  Dunbar did an amazing job portraying both feelings and reactions, making Cal a character that was easy to relate to and someone that you can truly feel for him.  He also grows so much from the start, realizing that it's okay not to have control over everything and that sometimes the chances we take later are better than the options that we had to start.

  What Remains was more about friendship and moving on, than it was about romance and finding your other half.  Though Cal had liked Ally before all of the change started, but was just too afraid to take a chance and speak to her.  What I didn't realize is just how significant his not saying anything was and just how much can change by one little path changing.  There was so many things that came up because of questions raised when Ally came into the picture.  There was also the fact that Ally carried her own baggage, had her own burden to carry.  I picture these two as the ones that can complete each other, be a support for where the gaps are.

  What Remains pulled at my heart in so many ways and there is no way to truly express all of the things that I felt.  Helen Dunbar is spectacular and created something unique, while still keeping it interesting and realistic.  I loved the characters right from the start and have no doubt that I will go back to this book just to revisit everyone.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of comtemporary reads, or someone that is looking for something that is both light and heavy at the same time.

Follow The Tour:

May 11thRamblings of a Perpetual New Girl – Review
May 11thRadical Reads Book Blog – Guest Post
May 12th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
May 13thJ & J Book Bangers – Guest Post
May 13th ~ The Reader and The Chef – Review 
May 13thHeather Ann's Book Reviews – Review
May 14th ~ Bookish – Review
May 14th ~ Book Chic Club – Review
May 15th ~ Books and Bling – Review 
May 15th ~ Lady Reader - Tiffany – Review 

About the Author:



Helene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles and accordions for an Irish Music Magazine, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She’s amazed that she has a day job that pays her to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, and that, on a good day, gives her time to let the voices in her head out into the world to tell a story.   If she had to put money on it, she’d bet that if music didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be able to write.  She’s lived in two countries, six states, and is currently holed up in Nashville with her husband, daughter, two cats, and the world’s friendliest golden retriever.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Good and the Bad - 1st Annual Chicago YA Book Fest 2015 #CYABookFest


I spent last weekend in Chicago, in the cold and rainy Chicago to attend the First Annual Chicago Young Adult Book Festival. There were five panels and seventeen authors. The themes were very eclectic and the authors were given questions and topics that really made them think about their answers. I can't touch on every topic on the panels but there are a couple that I would like to discuss in depth. If anyone has any questions about things aren't discussed please email me and I will be happy to discuss any part of the event(s). 



External Voices influencing writing:


This topic touched on fan fiction, social media, bloggers, and other writing influences.
Some of the authors thought that fan fiction is basically taking their ideas and writing them but with slightly different situations, characters, etc. Then, there were other authors that said they would be flattered if someone wrote fan fiction based on their novels. 
[Please note that EVERY author had their own opinion and it cannot be assumed that they all felt the same way.]

Social Media pretty much was a 50/50. Some of the authors don't even use it and some use it regularly, not necessarily to promote themselves but for the fun of it.

Now, we're getting to the Blogger topic. This is a touchy topic because many things were said and not specifically explained so one could have taken things one way or another. The problem with that is if it's taken the wrong way - out of context it seems to be negative. Very negative. So, I am going to shed some light on the subject. 

ARC's - Advanced Reading Copies = Free books released to bloggers early for honest reviews. Completely used for the intentions of early promotion and buzz for a new release.

One author was against the ARC program. The author had nothing but bad experiences and felt as if the program was being abused as the free books went out but reviews did not come in. 

Some had no opinion at all, they didn't mind the program and hadn't had these same negative experiences. 

Then there were the authors that were absolutely fine with bloggers receiving ARC's because they knew that the reviews and power that bloggers have in the reading community help them tremendously.
[Please be aware that there were authors that had never had direct contact with bloggers and some that had, good and bad. Not all answers can be assumed for all of the authors.]

Of course the subject came up of the different types of reviews that received these ARC's. The authors said that there were "professional reviewers" and then there were "bloggers". This was not meant to belittle bloggers in any way, this was a fact stating that there is a difference between the two. And there is. Professional reviewers work for companies specifically for reviewing and get paid. Bloggers do not. They instead spend their own time and money. Bottom line is both are opinions of the individual. No review can be "right" or "wrong" they can definitely heavily influence people but again, it's just an opinion. 
[I would like to add here that reviews written by bloggers are NOT meant for authors. They are meant for other bloggers and readers. An author really shouldn't be reading reviews written by bloggers, there is nothing that can be done at that point as the book is already written. Hence, the blogger review is only an opinion, a valid one but still an opinion.]



Glamorous/Not glamorous truths:


This panel was last and in my opinion the best.

Several things were discussed during this hour and it was all about the authors and their lives. 

"What did you do with your advance?" Oh, the answers we got from this!

Terra Elan McVoy - Paid off Student Loans
Andrew Smith - Saved and bought daughter a special sweet 16 gift
Ted Goeglein - Purchased a bootie. For reals.
Christa Desir - Donated to help rape victims.  - ALL 3 Advances!
Carrie Mesrobian - Bought rad boots and paid bills
M. Molly Backes - Bought a car, not so glamorous but one that still keeps her going today.

Another question was 'How do you deal with bad reviews' and again, we have a mix of answers. One author just blows it off, another really takes it personally and questions the ability of her writing. One doesn't necessarily read them, one consults close friends for advice and another does crafty projects to make light of it and feel better. Basically to "own" the review. Obviously none of them particularly like or want negative reviews but they know that it's inevitable. One thing that all of them did agree with is that if someone wrote a negative review and hated the book, they shouldn't send the author the review or tag them on social media. Really that's only hurtful. 

I think that sometimes bloggers forget that authors are just people and that they have feelings too. I also think that the same goes for some authors, they don't take into consideration the feelings of a blogger when it comes to reviews. I think that we all need to come to a common ground and stick together because we're all in it for the same thing. We love the books, and our love of books sell books. It's that simple. 

Bottom line, it was a fun and informative day and I am looking forward to going back next year. 




Sunday, May 10, 2015

Official Book Tour: WHAT REMAINS by @Helene_Dunbar - Schedule + Giveaway @fluxbooks


About the Book:



WHAT REMAINS by Helene Dunbar
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Publisher: Flux Books
Pages: 288
In less than a second...
... two of the things Cal Ryan cares most about--a promising baseball career and Lizzie, one of his best friends--are gone forever.

In the hours that follow...
...Cal's damaged heart is replaced. But his life will never be the same.

Everyone expects him to pick up the pieces and move on.

But Lizzie is gone, and all that remains for Cal is an overwhelming sense that her death was his fault. And a voice in his head that just...won't...stop.

Cal thought he and his friends could overcome any obstacle. But grief might be the one exception.

And that might take a lifetime to accept...

Purchase the Book:
Follow The Tour:

May 11thRamblings of a Perpetual New Girl – Review

May 11thRadical Reads Book Blog – Guest Post

May 12th ~ Reads All The Books – Review

May 13thJ & J Book Bangers – Guest Post

May 13th ~ The Reader and The Chef – Review 

May 13thHeather Ann's Book Reviews – Review

May 14th ~ Bookish – Review

May 14th ~ Book Chic Club – Review

May 15th ~ Books and Bling – Review

May 15th ~ Lady Reader - Tiffany – Review 

About the Author:

Helene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles and accordions for an Irish Music Magazine, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She’s amazed that she has a day job that pays her to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, and that, on a good day, gives her time to let the voices in her head out into the world to tell a story.
 
If she had to put money on it, she’d bet that if music didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be able to write.

 She’s lived in two countries, six states, and is currently holed up in Nashville with her husband, daughter, two cats, and the world’s friendliest golden retriever.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Tour: TAYLOR by @IrishWinters1 - Tour Schedule + Giveaway


About the Book:




TAYLOR (In The Company of Snipers, #7)
By: Irish Winters
Pages: 313
Published: April 26, 2015
Publisher: Windy Day Press

He’s had enough…

Stoic ex-Marine, Taylor Armstrong, survived his arrogant father, USMC General Michael Armstrong, and one too many deployments in Afghanistan. Battered and disillusioned with life, he’s built a wall to keep the world at bay. His rule is simple: a man can’t lose a friend he’s never made. It works—until an arrow rips into his chest and changes everything he knew about his father. His mother. Himself….

She’s never given up hope…
Gracie Fox has loved Taylor since the fateful day he was ripped from her life as a four-year old. But he has no memory of her or his mother’s rich Native American heritage. Neither is he aware of the loving family that was forced to give him up. It seems he’ll never know—until an ancient rite of revenge, the blood hunt, collides with his carefully structured life. Gracie seizes the chance. She’ll do anything to help him remember....

Even tie him to her bed.
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble  
Meet the Author:




Irish Winters is an award-winning author who dabbles in poetry, grandchildren, and rarely (as in extremely rarely) the kitchen. More prone to be outdoors than in, she grew up the quintessential tomboy on a farm in rural Wisconsin, spent her teenage years in the Pacific Northwest, but calls the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah home. For now.

The wife of one handsome husband and the mother of three perfect sons, Irish divides her time between writing at home and travelling the country with her man while - writing. (Seriously, what else?)

She believes in making every day count for something and follows the wise admonition of her mother to, "Look out the window and see something!"

To learn more about Irish and her books, please visit www.IrishWinters.com.

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Follow The Tour:

May 8thJen's Reading Obsession – Review
  
May 11th ~ The Pleasure of Reading Today – Review 
  
May 12th ~ Reads All The Books – Review 
  
May 13thHeather Ann's Book Reviews – Review
  
May 14th ~ Pixie Vixen Reviews – Review
  
TBA ~Heather Ann's Book Reviews – Review (1-6)  

May 25th– 31st~ Rockin Book Reviews – Memorial Week Tribute Reviews 

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ruby Iyer, the young angry girl speaks out. - Guest Post/Giveaway @RubyIyer



About the Book:




The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
By: Laxmi Hariharan
Pages: 300
Release Date: November 13, 2014
Publisher: Books@Jacaranda

A YA action thriller, with strong dystopian undertones and a kick-ass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.

A terrifying encounter propels Ruby Iyer from her everyday commute into a battle for her own survival. Trusting her instincts, she fights for the things she believes in, led on a mysterious path between life and death on the crowded roads of Bombay; and when her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the sexy Vikram Roy, a cop-turned-rogue, on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza's teen army. As Bombay falls apart, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city?

Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?
  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon India | Paperback


Meet the Author:


A near life experience told Laxmi Hariharan to write. She never stopped.

Laxmi is the creator of Ruby Iyer, and the Amazon bestselling, eLit Gold winner The Destiny of Shaitan (Bombay Chronicles, 1). She has been a journalist with the Independent, and a global marketer with NBCU and MTV. Laxmi also blogs for Huffington Post, among others.

London is where she writes. Bombay is what fires her imagination. 


 Twitter - Laxmi | Facebook | blog | Twitter - Ruby 
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Ruby Sale .99 & Diaries = Free:


Guest Post:


Why Ruby, the hero of a YA dystopian novel had to be an angry young Indian girl:

Laxmi Hariharan challenges the domination of dystopian western worlds in teen novels, why not a dystopian Asia or Latin America? And how it’s time for the stereotype-busting Angry Young (Indian) Girl to claim centre-stage.

  One evening, having worked late at the Mumbai-based newspaper where I was then employed, I caught the local train home. What I hadn’t realized was that it was already past the watershed time, when the ladies only compartment turned unisex. So there I was in a corner of that carriage, now crammed to the gills with men. When it was my turn to get off, I swallowed my stomach-churning fear to fight my way through the throng. I emerged onto the train platform with every part of me having been felt up, and promptly burst into tears. My clothes were torn but miraculously my handbag still remained clutched in my folded arms, though it had provided but a measly shield. This was one incident of the many that marked my growing years in the city.

The dreaded daily commute by local train to university equaled being brushed against and commented on by almost every man who crossed my path. And I knew I wasn’t alone in this.

 So, when 17 months ago a young photojournalist was raped in the heart of Mumbai in broad daylight, it made me furious. Technology had birthed Facebook and Twitter in the time I had been away from Mumbai, but meanwhile the city seemed to have only become more unsafe for girls.

I had this vision of a larger than life, magnificent, vigilante figure. A teenage girl who would simply follow her instincts, someone who would hit out first and think later. Who would teach those leering men a lesson.

Thus Ruby Iyer was born. I was helpless as a teenager coming of age in that metropolis. Ruby Iyer is not. She is not constrained by the everyday reality of Indian society, where walking down the street in a pair of jeans will invite unwanted attention. And where if you did stand up to your tormentors, you would probably pay the price.

I am subconsciously influenced by that most towering of personas who has ruled Bollywood over most of my adult life – the Angry Young Man avatar of Amitabh Bachchan, one of the most influential actors of Indian cinema and popular culture. But this is 2015 and a 24-year-old Jennifer Lawrence has just closed the last year as the highest-grossing actor in Hollywood, thanks in part to playing Katniss Everdeen. The time is now for the Angry Young (Indian) Girl to claim centre-stage.

Joining Ruby Iyer is Rhea, a journalist, an explorer and an all-round adventurer. She is the young hero of a new comic book series, The Adventures of Rhea. Then, there’s Tina M, the hero of Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary, who begins keeping an existential diary as the result of an English honors class assignment. I must also mention Kamala Khan aka Ms Marvel, a teenage Pakistani American from New Jersey with shape shifting abilities, and Marvel Comics’ first Muslim character to headline her own comic book.


I am falling back on comic book characters rather than YA novels to illustrate my point, because I am unable to find other heroes of Asian or South Asian origin starring in their own YA dystopian novels. There are novels which talk about both the coming-of-age and immigrant experience from a South Asian teenager’s point of view. These include Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins, Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim, and Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal. The YA South Asian genre is just coming into its own.

I read a lot of YA dystopia and have enjoyed the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days series) by Susan Ee, and more recently the Dustlands trilogy by Moira Young. Many of these novels are set in a dystopian western world, often a culture springing from the remnants of a destroyed city such as Chicago, New York or San Francisco. I do wonder why so many of these stories are set in the West. What about Asia or Latin America?

As a writer from Mumbai, in my mind’s eye I see a rich, complex setting. I feel it in the contradictions of the daily struggle to survive by the millions in the urban bosom of this city; where each daybreak heralds the start of a merciless reality, and where at nightfall I give thanks for having survived the soul-busting competition for commercial success.

I hope that Ruby Iyer’s story – the journey of an Angry Young Indian girl, set in a dystopian Mumbai – will break a few stereotypes:
  • That you don’t have to be a sweet, demure, girl who toes the lines society tells you to, to get what you want.
  • That today does not only belong only to Angry Young Men.
  • That dystopian fiction need not be confined to the developed world.
  • That the hero of a YA novel is not always of non-Asian origin by default.


Laxmi Hariharan is the author of The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer and prequel The Ruby Iyer Diaries: A Bombay Story. The sequel, The Second Life of Ruby Iyer, will be released later this year.
*This article first premiered in THE GUARDIAN*


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