January 9, 2020

You Too? 25 Voices Share Their #MeToo Stories Edited by Janet Gurtler Blog Tour: #Review & #Giveaway




Check out my stop on the blog tour for You Too? organized by YA Bound Tours. 


Title: You Too?  
by Various Authors 
Edited by Janet Gurtler 
Young Adult Non-fiction
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publishing date: January 7, 2020


Synopsis


A timely and heartfelt collection of essays inspired by the #MeToo movement, edited by acclaimed young adult and middle-grade author Janet Gurtler. Featuring Beth Revis, Mackenzi Lee, Ellen Hopkins, Saundra Mitchell, Jennifer Brown, Cheryl Rainfield and many more. 

When #MeToo went viral, Janet Gurtler was among the millions of people who began to reflect on her past experiences. Things she had reluctantly accepted - male classmates groping her at recess, harassment at work - came back to her in startling clarity. She needed teens to know what she had not: that no young person should be subject to sexual assault, or made to feel unsafe, less than or degraded. 

You Too? was born out of that need. By turns thoughtful and explosive, these personal stories encompass a wide range of experiences and will resonate with every reader who has wondered, "Why is this happening to me?" or secretly felt that their own mistreatment or abuse is somehow their fault - and it's not. Candid and empowering, You Too? is written for teens, but also an essential resource for the adults in their lives - an urgent, compassionate call to listen and create change. 







Reading You Too? was as intense as I'd thought it would be. The essays brought up a lot of situations that have happened to me over the years - some that I had forgotten about, others that had happened so long ago the memory is foggy. I thought about experiences other women have told me. I imagined how I would write about my experiences. 

What I found really surprising was that some of the authors in the book felt that what happened to them wasn't as bad as what's happened to other women. I hope they know now that isn't the case at all. We as women try minimizing these things for a variety of reasons - we don't think anyone will believe us, we feel shame and guilt, we wonder if what went on was really happening or if we imagined it all. 

This is definitely a painful read, I mean the writing is wonderful but the subject matter is hard to read. My heart ached for the young girls these authors used to be.  My heart aches for them now. 

There was one essay I didn't think belonged in this collection and that was the one written by a cis male who had a difficult time coming out. It didn't belong because he wrote about how he joined guys in degrading women before he accepted that he was gay, which seemed like the antithesis to what this book is about. What ended up happening to him was not okay, but his participation in treating women like objects or speaking about them in a derogatory way should not have been expressed here.  

If you decide to read You Too?, you must be warned that everything that could happen to a woman is discussed here. It's difficult to read but also very much important that these situations women have faced are discussed. It's heavy subject matter that can be challenging to read but worthwhile if anything is going to change. 

Rating: 4 / 5


About the Editor 


Janet Gurtler's young adult books have been chosen for the JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION and as BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS from the Canadian Children's Book Center. Janet lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband, son, a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce and a Golden Retriever named Betty White. 


Click here to visit the other stops on the tour!


We are giving away two copies of YOU TOO, signed by each author.  Entries are automatically entered with a donation to RAINN on our YOUTOO Fundraising Page. 

Blog Tour organized by YA Bound Book Tours


December 6, 2019

The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi ~ Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Elizabeth Tammi's The Weight of a Soul hosted by FFBC. I have a review of the book, and there's a giveaway as well! 

 


Title: The Weight of a Soul
Author: Elizabeth Tammi
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Source: Copy for review via NetGalley





Synopsis


When Lena's younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns - but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should've lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why - and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.

But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök - a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction. 

Still, with her sister's life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She's willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?




 

The Weight of a Soul is a beautiful story of love, loss and sisterhood. The biggest reason I was excited to dive into this novel is that it explores the relationship between two sisters who would do anything for each other. I love it when that dynamic is involved. The second part that drew me in was the Norse mythology. I don't know a ton about it, but as I was reading, I realized I knew at least a little more than I thought.

Right from the start, you know that Fressa and Lena have a close bond where they would protect each other and do anything for one another. That bond is put to the test when Fressa is found dead, and there is pressure for Lena to marry her sister's fiance, Amal, which neither wants to happen. Fressa, Amal and Lena grew up together, and Lena never had the desire to strike up a romantic relationship with him, especially knowing how much her sister loved him. 

Lena is a complex character. She becomes consumed with grief after losing her sister and is in denial that Fressa has died. Lena becomes more and more obsessed with the idea of traveling to the world of Helheim, where most people go after they die, to try to strike a bargain with Hela, the Norse goddess of death. 

You can look at Lena's decisions in several different ways. Traveling to what seems like a hell (Helheim) can seem like a dumb thing to do, but when you take into consideration Lena has this overwhelming grief that she doesn't know what to do with, it actually makes sense, at least to me. 

I view Lena as brave and dedicated to Fressa to risk her own life to save her sister. The decision she has to make in order to get her sister back forces her to think about how far she's willing to go to get what she wants, but she agrees to it right away. Would I have agreed to it? I'm not sure, at least not one hundred percent, but I would have a hard time saying no. I'd want my sister back no matter what. 

The Weight of a Soul is a book that will stay with me for a long time. I loved the backdrop of the story with the Norse mythology as well as the questions I had about Lena's choices; mostly thinking about the morality of whether she should or shouldn't do what Hela is asking her to do. I love a book that makes you think, and this one definitely gave me a lot to think about.  

My Rating:  

About the Author


Elizabeth Tammi was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she's not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at work for her university's newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology. 

You can find Elizabeth online on Tumblr at annabethisterrified, Twitter at @ElizabethTammi, Instagram at elizabeth_tammi, and at elizabethtammi.com.  


Connect with Elizabeth Tammi








Blog Tour organized by FFBC Tours

November 18, 2019

Book Blitz: Skin and Bone by Keary Taylor ~ Excerpt & Giveaway


Skin and Bone
by Keary Taylor 

Publication date: November 12th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

I’d do anything for him, even become the woman he loves…
HER
I tried my best for years, but all he ever wanted was for her to come back. So bit-by-bit, I evolved, transforming into someone he could love. But he didn’t take the bait until I went all the way.

I became her.

Now everything is perfect. We’re happy. So in love. And he doesn’t suspect a thing.

SAWYER

Someone claiming my name sent me a video. It looks to be me, returning to my hometown, reconnecting with my high school boyfriend, Ezra. Those are my clothes, that’s my laugh, and that’s my face.

She took my freedom next. And then she made me watch as she took over my entire life, fooling everyone like a perfect chameleon. It’s clear what she wants, and Ezra is all too quick to take me back.

Only one person seems to notice something is off.

Ezra’s brother, Davis—the last person I called. There’s a certain darkness in Davis’ eyes, and he’s not the type to let up until he gets his answers.

Somehow, I’ll make her pay. This impostor is going to regret the day she ever took the name Sawyer James.








SKIN AND BONE EXCERPT


CHAPTER ONE

Eight surgeries, twelve hair dye experiments, 1,834 hours of video observation, two years of yoga practice to try to make up that extra inch of height, and the public loss of gluten.
That’s what I’ve gone through for love. That’s everything I’ve given up–all the money I’ve spent, all the hours I’ve invested–to finally be with the man I’ve loved for more than a decade.
They say nothing worth having comes easy.
Everything comes with a price.
I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been more patient than anyone could ever comprehend.
And now it’s finally my time.
I step from the closet into the bathroom. I check my makeup. What the surgeries couldn’t accomplish is made up for with some well-practiced cosmetic techniques. The contour is just right. The eyebrow lift did exactly what was needed. My jaw is still sore, even though all of the swelling and bruising has finally gone away.
But as I apply a coat of lipstick—Apple Sunrise, her default color—I smile at myself.
Even my teeth required altering. Thirty-five thousand dollars, and they look just right; are just the right shade of white.
It’s perfect.
I’m perfect.
I am my own creation and I have to admire my hard work.
It’s brilliant.
I press my lips together, blowing my own reflection a kiss, and step out of the bathroom. I cut through the nearly empty bedroom and aim for the dining room. My laptop sits on it, a cheap piece of technology, because after today, it’s going in the  crusher of the cement company down the road.
Can’t leave any evidence behind.
Which is tragic, because really, this amounts to the same amount of work as a doctoral degree.
It’s okay though. I’ll take the loss, so long as it gets me the prize, the reward for all my hard work.
I open the web browser and sign into my email.
Just seeing the signature at the top of the page feels good. My insides flutter in excitement. Goosebumps wash over my skin.
Sawyer James at IMT Homes, I type in the address. I attach just one file and leave the body of the email empty. In the subject line, I type It was never really about you.
But that’s a lie. She may not be my main target, my main motivation, but there are fourteen years’ worth of resentment that brought us to this point.
My gaze re-focuses on the screen, and once more, I see my reflection.
Perfect, soft blonde hair. Blue eyes that border on green, thanks to contacts that are purely for color, not prescription.
A pretty face with hope in her eyes.
Here we are. One last out before it all goes down.
One last opportunity to change my mind.
I see myself smile in the screen.
Not a chance. I’ve worked too hard for this.
I press SEND and smile.

About the Author


Keary Taylor is the USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now splits her time between a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest and Utah, with her husband and their two children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night.

Connect with Keary Taylor 







Book Blitz organized by:



June 30, 2019

Review ~ When Silver Moons Rise (Lost Immortals #2) by KaSonndra Leigh

June 30, 2019 





Title: When Silver Moons Rise
Series: Lost Immortals #2
Author: Kasonndra Leigh
Publication date: January 17, 2013 
Publisher: TriGate Press 
Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Copy provided in exchange for an honest review 


My Rating:   






Synopsis


Facing an unstable future, Chela Prizeon leaves Castle Hayne and crosses over to enemy territory in pursuit of Faris--the boy of royal blood who is cursed by a bitter rival. But soon Chela learns that he has been taken deep into the treacherous frozen prisons--a majestic, but deadly place where people enter and are never seen again. To find the boy she loves, Chela must join forces with one of her greatest enemies. And even though she pulls strength from the good in her powers, she finds herself drawn to the dark side's temptation as well.

Narrated from both Chela's and Faris's point of view, this enchanting sequel to When Copper Suns Fall will take them on a voyage into unknown lands, where the dark, twisted, and revengeful wait to make this their most dangerous journey ever.

Please Note: This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.



This book was an incredibly well done sequel! The first one had so much going on it was hard to grasp everything I needed to know, and there were so many secrets revealed it took a lot to keep up. But I love the mix of genres the author gives us dystopian plus paranormal. I'm jealous I didn't think of it first, and I'm still reeling from everything that's happened. This book was action packed from start to finish!

The story continues not too long after the events at the end of the first book, but this time the narration is split between Faris and Chela's points of view. Faris was a mystery to me with a lot of secrets last time around, and I was excited to see things from his perspective and learn more about his background and who he really is. He has to be strong to endure the torture he's under while Chela is making her way to rescue him.

Chela is a strong female lead, which I always admire, and she takes risks to protect the people she loves. Sometimes she will make a decision that I can see leading to disastrous consequences, but she does the best she can. From the beginning to the end of the book, I don't think she had one moment of rest - there was always action involving her. My favorite Chela characteristic is that she always looks for the good in people, and I believe that helps guide her through the most difficult times she has faced. I really love that about her.

There's something about Seth that's really magnetic - the fact that he's a bad boy helps! In books I read, I can't help but fall for guys like Seth, and I couldn't get enough of him. Every chapter he was in was my favorite. :) It's really crazy, too, because as much as I love Seth even with the things he's done, I still adore Faris, too. They couldn't be more different, but there are aspects of both of them that are really attractive.

 I was completely stunned by the ending - I won't give anything away, but I will say I'm anxiously waiting to read book three!


June 28, 2019

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan ~ #bookreview

June 28, 2019




Title: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Author: Sara Farizan 
Publication date: October 7, 2014 
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers 
Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ, Contemporary 
Source: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

My Rating: 






Synopsis 


High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. 

But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful.

Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.



Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, Sara Farzin's second novel, is a much different story than her first, If I Could Have You. While IICHY was well written, it was painful to read because I felt the situation was a hopeless one. On the other hand, TMAHACSF  was light and funny, and I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't want it to end even with the painful and awkward moments. I love this book so much!!  

Leila is a high school student with parents who are Persians and hold traditional values. Her parents are from Iran, and I really liked reading about the different expressions they have in conversation and their customs. Leila's older sister, Nahal, follows what their father wants for her, but Leila is torn between what she wants and what her father wants, worrying that if she doesn't do what he wants, she won't have his love. Her fear is compounded by the fact that her family comes from a country where homosexuality is illegal.  

I really liked how the characters in this book aren't what they appeared to be on the outside. What you see isn't what you get because they're much more complex than that. One of my favorite characters was Tomas. He's honest and realistic and someone I'd like to know in real life. Saskia was sending out confusing signals! I couldn't figure out if she liked Leila back or what until the end. 

TMAHACSF is a light, easy read with diverse characters, a compelling story, and heart. You'll learn about Persian culture, and this second offering from Farizan is vastly superior to her first.        


August 24, 2018

Hidden (Dragonlands #1) by Megg Jensen ~ #BookReview

August 22, 2018




Title: Hidden
Series: Dragonlands #1
Author: Megg Jensen
Release Date: January 11, 2014  
Genre: Fantasy 

Source: Copy for review from the author 

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | IndieBound | Book Depository 


My Rating:  





 Synopsis



The first novel in a USA Today bestselling series from Megg Jensen! 

Control the dragons. Rule the realm. 

The mystery enshrouding Hutton’s Bridge is as impenetrable as the fog that descended at its borders eighty years ago. Each year, three villagers enter the mist searching for answers. No one ever returns.

Then a dragon falls from the sky to the town square, dead—the first glimpse of an outside world that has become nothing more than a fairy tale to Hutton’s Bridge. Except to Tressa.

Tressa grew up with Granna’s stories of the days before the fog fell. When Granna dies, leaving Tressa without any family, Tressa ventures into the fog herself, vowing to unravel the foul magic holding Hutton’s Bridge captive.

What she discovers beyond the fog endangers the lives of everyone she loves.
 




For a short period of time, I was a bit turned off from the fantasy genre. I still liked it, but it was overshadowed for me by dystopian and contemporary novels. Hearing so many incredible things about Megg Jensen's books, I jumped at the chance to review Hidden and am so happy I did. This story was awesome and well told - not only did I love it so much I couldn't put it down, but it also renewed my interest in the fantasy genre.

The prologue drew me in right away and immediately made me want to know what was happening in the village of Hutton's Bridge. The unique plot captured my attention - why the fog surrounds the village, the fact that no one comes back once they enter the fog, and the dangers that obviously lie in wait in the fog. The mystery and suspense heightened my enjoyment of Hidden. I liked that the chapters were short, and the way they ended made me want to start the next right away.

I loved the characters! I wish we could have had more time with Granna, Tressa's grandmother, but her presence was so strong throughout the story it didn't seem like we had lost her. Granna was the leader of Hutton's Bridge, and though not everyone agreed with her decisions, she was revered as the oldest member of the village who had the most knowledge of the time before the fog enshrouded them. Though she was in the book for a short time, she most definitely left her mark!

Tressa and Bastian, the main characters of Hidden, have been through a lot of heartbreak, and I wanted them to be together. I had hope they could find their way to each other though the customs of their village were what was preventing them from becoming a couple. Tressa is brave and full of heart. She listens to her instincts and strives to save her people no matter the cost, even if it means she must sacrifice herself. Bastian is just as brave, and I love how the two of them fit together like they are meant to be together. Their love is beautiful.  

I haven't read many books with dragons, and in this book, I can't stress enough how the dragon scenes were so awesome and well done. Though I knew there would be dragons, there's a huge twist revealed that was original and had me excited! I never saw it coming!

A few scenes in Hidden aren't appropriate for younger readers. Due to this content, it's definitely for mature readers, but the scenes are tastefully done. This is the first book I've read by Megg Jensen and won't be the last. I'm looking forward to diving into her other series but most of all, I'm excited for the second book of this series!


Thank you for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!