ARC #Review: Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

words onGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

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Fans of More Happy Than Not, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, andIt’s Kind of a Funny Story will cheer for Adam as he struggles with schizophrenia in this brilliantly honest and unexpectedly funny debut.

Adam has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He sees and hears people who aren’t there: Rebecca, a beautiful girl who understands him; the Mob Boss, who harasses him; and Jason, the naked guy who’s unfailingly polite. It should be easy to separate the real from the not real, but Adam can’t.

Still, there’s hope. As Adam starts fresh at a new school, he begins a drug trial that helps him ignore his visions. Suddenly everything seems possible, even love. When he meets Maya, a fiercely intelligent girl, he desperately wants to be the great guy that she thinks he is. But then the miracle drug begins to fail, and Adam will do anything to keep Maya from discovering his secret.

review3/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Books for Young Readers. 

The best way to describe my feelings towards this book is to shrug. This is a solid 3 star read. As much as I wanted to fall in love with this story of a boy dealing with mental illness as he fell in love with his dream girl, I couldn’t connect. Since I finished reading, I’ve struggled with how to put into words why that connection was missing and it comes down to the plot, or lack there of, or maybe just the whole mundane, guy has secret, clichéd bullies, truth comes out, romance. It was all too familiar. And what irked me even further was the title. It’s catchy, it’s clever, it is barely in the story and while there could have been a serious, philosophical moment with the words, it fell flat, despite attempts to tie it in. And on top of that, it made the plot feel thrown together and nowhere near as cohesive or smooth as it could have been, but perhaps that was the point. 

Here’s what I liked: 

  • I’m not a doctor. What I know about schizophrenia is pretty much the tripe, false portrayals in horror films or TV shows that make it seem like a dangerous, and deadly sickness that turns people into serial killers or something. It’s horrible, inaccurate, and even discussed throughout the story. Especially in relation to Sandy Hook. After the shooting, which happened during the timeline of this book, schizophrenia became something to be scared of. Knowing someone with the mental illness made people panic or at the very least feel apprehensive and on guard. Adam reflects on that and it’s a huge part of why he never confides in his friends about his schizophrenia, because he doesn’t want the looks, the doubts, the slow backing away and dissolution of friendships that has happened to him before out of fear. This is poignant and heartbreaking and a reality that needs to be called out and questioned. The stigma around mental illness and how it is perceived needs to be a discussion and unfortunately, like other timely issues, it is not. How schizophrenia is portrayed in the story may or may not be 100% accurate, the author does put a note in the back of the book addressing this, which I appreciated. Adam’s hallucinations are each unique and reflect parts of himself that he’s not in tune with, parts that he’s scared of or tries to hide and they speak to him, try to guide him through hard choices and situations. They pop in and out of the story. They’re memorable, but fleeting, and some are more solid than others. Adam’s emotions and voice were strong. They were all over the place, but he was honest, his voice never wavered, and at times his letters were like a confession to himself. 
  • The structure. I think this is the only book I’ve read where the entire story is told through journal entries to a therapist. Because of the style, it’s introspective, reflective, and full of genuine voice. You really get a feel for who Adam is, what he’s going through, and his humor about the whole situation. 
  • Love doesn’t save the day. So many times illness or some perceived flaw is solved simply by falling in love. It’s become a dangerous trope. I liked that at the end of this story, nothing was really resolved or fixed because mental illness is not something that magically disappears because feelings trump everything. Drugs can help manage, but they fail, they lose effectiveness, and sometimes the side effects are life threatening. Maya is great for Adam, don’t get me wrong. She listens to him. She befriends him when he felt so alone and scared on his journey and she sticks by him when things get weird. What more could you ask for? 

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

  • The pacing, the plot. I was bored and what’s weird is that I shouldn’t have been. So many scenes were of your run of the mill, everyday life and while Adam’s perception and snarky comments were entertaining, the incidents themselves were not. 
  • The enemy. The popular kids. The hot guy. So overdone and while there is some redemption it just didn’t do justice to the story. It was all too predictable. You could see that plot point coming from the moment you met the popular guy with connections because that’s always the choice. I was hoping for something more unexpected because of the subject matter but I guess the popular kids will always be evil bullies. 
  • I wasn’t sold on Maya or Dwight. They were just…sort of there. Dwight especially has few scenes and while those scenes do give you a better picture of him, it feels like filler. For Maya…the emotions were, and this could definitely be because of the style, lacking. Because everything is told from Adam’s POV, how Maya really feels like seen through his gaze and it makes her feel aloof.

Keep reading,

Jordan

 

 

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Exclusive Interview with Victoria Scott on Violet Grenade

violet-grenade-coverGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/Book Depository/Indie Bound

Release Date: May 16, 2017

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DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

int

YABM: Violet Grenade is a little different than your other books, what inspired this story? 

Victoria: I kept thinking about girls who get attacked, and what it would look like if someone targeted a girl who was capable of killing a man. How glorious that scene would be to watch in a movie. This idea of a small girl with a deadly secret wouldn’t leave my mind until I put her on paper. 

YABM: How would you describe Violet Grenade to a reader in 3 or less sentences? 

Victoria: I’d simply say it’s a story about manipulation, revenge, damaged characters, and love found in unlikely places. Oh, and multiple personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from Violet Grenade?

Victoria: Always, always…entertainment. I never seek to achieve anything besides giving readers an escape from reality. What they find outside of that is unique to their own journey and experiences.

YABM: Give me a brief rundown of Madam Karina’s Home for Burgeoning Entertainers? What is it like?


Victoria: The girls who live there are sorted by silk flowers they wear on their dresses or blouses. It ranks them, and signifies how much of their earnings they actually keep. Those flowers keep the girls competitive. And of course it’s symbolic of losing a certain something. *wink*

YABM: Is there any romance brewing between characters?

Victoria: Oh, yes. Domino and Cain have chemistry, but mostly they share past wounds.

YABM: Which character would be most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Victoria: Cain. Those zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

YABM: How do you balance home, life, and writing (and your adorable little girl)?

Victoria: With great difficulty! Even as I finish this interview I’m thinking how I didn’t get enough time with my little girl tonight. Le sigh.

YABM: What would you tell aspiring writers? What’s your best advice for completing that draft?

Victoria: To just power through! Trust me, we all think our first drafts stink. If you do too, then you just might be a published author one day. Ha!

authorVictoria Scott Author Photo copyWebsite/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Goodreads

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Check back closer to release date for my review. 

As always, happy reading!

Jordan

 

New Cover Reveal & Contest: A Raven’s Touch by Linda Bloodworth

A Raven's Touch by Linda BloodworthGet It Here!

The cover was created by Amanda Walker. Feel free to ask her questions about her pre-made covers. Linda says she is fantastic to work with, honest, and super friendly. She also offers PA services, so do check her out.

synBullied through high school, seventeen-year-old Justice St. Michaels is grateful for the help of her best friend Moira O’Fhey. Together they’re just managing to scrape through the nightmare they call high school. Between Justice’s bizarre body changes and being involved in explosive school fights, things are going from bad to worse. Darien Raventhorn arrives on the scene only to add fuel to an already burning question—has Justice been living a lie her whole life? Thrust into an unwanted revenge mission Justice must avenge a family death, embrace her birthright, and slay a demon before all Hell breaks loose.

authorLinda Bloodworth loves chips, like really, ketchup to be exact. Ketchup chips are only found in Canada. Lucky for Linda she lives in Toronto with her husband and three fur babies. In between writing, debating for hours about the Oxford comma, and the misunderstood semi colon, Linda enjoys camping and getting away from the city on day trips.

Here’s the only picture that Linda will allow:
linda-hair

CONTEST TIME!! – THIS IS A 2 PART CONTEST

HOW TO ENTER: 
1. Post a screen shot of your confirmation order for A Raven’s Touch in the comment section on Linda’s BLOG: https://lindabloodworth.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/cover-reveal-a-ravens-touch-linda-bloodworth-contest
It doesn’t matter when you’ve purchased the book now or before.

2. Subscribe to her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bLecmr. PLEASE MAKE SURE SHE CAN IDENTIFY YOU. Your screen shot + sign up name should be the same. You MUST approve the subscription email you receive.

PRIZE:
A $3 Amazon Gift Card!

TIMING:
Linda will randomly pick the winner Oct. 23 @ 10 AM ET.

Thank you so much everyone! Linda can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Please leave a review on Amazon or any other retailer. Your review is INCREDIBLY important and helps Linda out as an author. Let the contest begin!

Magical reading, 

Jordan

Review: Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

pearlGoodreads/Amazon

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Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 

Pearl is a tale of overcoming, self discovery, and learning to cope when life is too much. 

The story starts out strong. It’s a compelling, gritty, no holds barred look into a toxic family situation rife with drugs, abuse, and hopelessness. The story is real. It’s a situation that happens everyday, but so many ignore, look away, and certainly don’t talk about it. The portrayal of addiction and the secondary consequences of drug use like abuse, bullying, danger, homelessness, etc., are on full display and told with an honesty that transcends the fact that the story is fiction. It’s almost like a diary of a lost, terrified girl whose whole world is lived in her mother’s shadow. 

As the story progresses into Pearl’s stay at the private school and summer school, the story kind of slows and flits in and out of focus. There’s a drug-filled haze and depression coupled with romance and attempts to find herself. Regardless, it loses a bit of that dark, honest magic of the first section. 

Pearl is tainted by her mother. She loves her, she can’t help it. No matter how much her mother lashes out at her, messes up, and puts them in dire situations, Pearl remembers the moments when she knew her mother cared for her equally as much as the hateful comments. Pearl is not her mother, but everyone sees her as a messed up teen who is destined to get into trouble just like her mother. Everyone expects her to fail, there’s no faith and because she doesn’t have that direct or even indirect support, every single day is a struggle to stay focused and on the straight and narrow. Pearl is lost. She’s never had a role model really and doesn’t know how to be confident or even okay with herself. This opportunity at school is like a lifesaver that opens her up to discovery of the girl she buried within herself years ago. 

I was torn about the art teacher. He’s super pushy and mean. It’s borderline abusive the way he yells at the students. At the same time, he pushes them to a new level of talent. I wasn’t sold. This seemed toxic. While he had faith in Pearl when others did not, it was not a great example of a positive source of encouragement. 

Secondary characters are intriguing and interesting. You’ll want to know them. They’re far from perfect, in fact, many of them are downright jerks, but they’re themselves through and through. Sorel is a character to be remembered for sure. 

There are many mature subjects like drugs, sex, addiction, and abuse. This is MATURE YA.

The romance wasn’t for me. It faded in and out. It was random. The emotion was playful, yet subtle, until it was über sexual. While Grant did make Pearl feel beautiful and like she was worth something for the first time in her life, he was judgemental and pushed her away when she needed him. He didn’t listen, he assumed, and while there were reasons, he knew her well enough to give her a chance. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Read on, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

The Bad Decisions Playlist_hresGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

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Sixteen-year-old Austin is always messing up and then joking his way out of tough spots. The sudden appearance of his allegedly dead father, who happens to be the very-much-alive rock star Shane Tyler, stops him cold.

Austin—a talented musician himself—is sucked into his newfound father’s alluring music-biz orbit, pulling his true love, Josephine, along with him.

None of Austin’s previous bad decisions, resulting in broken instruments, broken hearts, and broken dreams, can top this one.

Witty, audacious, and taking adolescence to the max, Austin is dragged kicking and screaming toward adulthood in this hilarious, heart-wrenching YA novel.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Clarion Books

The Bad Decisions Playlist is an eclectic mix of coming of age, self discovery, and romance. 

PROS:

  • Austin lives a life of spontaneity and bad choices. He’s constantly getting himself in trouble and is so recklessly fearless that he gets into the worst situations. He’s headstrong, foolish, and there are definitely times where you’ll want to shake some sense into him because he can be pretty idiotic. Austin is sort of addictive, kind of like rubbernecking when you drive by an accident on a highway. You know it might be something bad, in Austin’s case that he might be doing something ridiculously stupid and pointless, but you have to see. The more Austin throws himself into precarious situations, the more you want to know how he’s going to get out of it alive. It’s crazy, but somehow enthralling. It’s a love-hate relationship with his characters, for sure. 
  • There’s a great balance of comic relief and serious subjects, like parents getting remarried, abuse, relationships, and being reunited with a parent that abandoned you. 
  • The most profound and crushing part of the story is hope vs. reality. Austin has built his father up on a pedestal. He wants to believe in him, he has to. He’s like a musical god to him and everything he does, Austin wants nothing more but approval and praise from the father that left him as a child. The hope, it’s like a puppy staring out a window begging to be loved. It’s heartbreaking, that moment when you’re blindsided by the truth. You ignore what’s in front of you because you want to believe the best in people and then you’re slapped in the face by reality. The greatest lesson is that there’s good and bad in everyone. You will be disappointed in your parents. No one is perfect, and seeing someone’s flaws can help you form a better understanding and relationship with them, or it might not. That’s the harsh reality. 

CONS:

  • A serious case of instalove that makes hardly any sense. For someone who is so into building a relationship, not letting anyone in until she’s sure, Josephine jumps right on in. It conflicted with her character.
  • The chemistry was random and muted. Barely visible at all. The awkwardness was something else. There’s so much space between Josephine and Austin, and they’re worlds apart mentally, that it’s pretty shocking that they can stand each other enough to do anything. Austin pretty much moons over her from the moment he met her and it makes ZERO sense. 
  •  Austin’s so-called best friends make an appearance once or twice in the entire book. They’re mentioned and then fade out. There’s this kind of fleeting, wishy-washy development for most secondary characters besides Austin, his love interest, and his bully. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLISTThe Bad Decisions Playlist_hresAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

Pub. Date: August 2, 2016

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Austin, 16, a self-described screwup, finds out that his father isn’t dead. He’s alive, and moreover he’s Shane Tyler, a famous singer/guitarist/song writer—Austin’s dream for himself. But Shane is battling his own demons, and Austin must figure out how to grow up on his own terms.

authMichael

Michael Rubens is the author of The Sheriff of Yrnameer and Sons of the 613. He was a producer for several years for the Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and has written and produced for CNN, Oxygen, the Travel Channel and other networks. It’s theoretically possible that you saw him as the host of Eclipse Chasers: Ghana on the Travel Channel. He was also, for a very brief period, the World’s Least Effective Bouncer. He lives with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, New York, and feels that the practice of writing one’s bio in the third person is somewhat questionable.

He is represented by John Silbersack at Trident Media Group.

WebsiteTwitter 

giveaway

3 winners will receive a hardcover of THE BAD DECISIONS PLAYLIST! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

8/1/2016- YA Book Madness- Promo

8/2/2016- Curling Up With A Good Book- Guest Post

8/3/2016- Here’s to Happy Endings- Review

8/4/2016- Books and Ladders- Excerpt

8/5/2016- Riddle’s Reviews- Review

Epic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: How It Ends by Catherine Lo

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There are two sides to every story.

It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs…until suddenly they’re not.

Told through alternating points of view, How It Ends is a wildly fast but deeply moving read about a friendship in crisis. Set against a tumultuous sophomore year of bullying, boys and backstabbing, the novel shows what can happen when friends choose assumptions and fear over each other.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers

+++Triggers for some adult situations and choices that may make some uncomfortable

How It Ends is a brutally honest look at the many ways that friendships can fall apart. Growing up, growing into your own skin, and learning who you want to be can sometimes sever even the oldest and best friendships. Annie and Jess learn the harsh realities of high school, keeping secrets, and the sacrifices made to fit in. 

PROS:

  • Annie and Jess are opposites and yet startlingly the same. They both have insecurities and issues. Not everything is what it appears on the surface. Annie cannot see her own beauty, she doubts her worth, and Jess feels the same after years of bullying and shaming from people she once considered her friends. This parallel is spot on. It is the epitome of opposite attract. They make each other better, when they’re focused on their friendship, it’s when things expand that everything starts to fall apart. This is a story of friendship, how hard you have to fight when you’re being pulled in 100 different directions, and what losing a friend can do to you both emotionally and psychologically. It hurts to share a best friend. Especially if they make up your whole world. It can feel like a loss, crippling and painful, How It Ends explores those feelings. 
  • The alternating POVs are eye-opening. You get to see how each girl views their friendship, the events that happen, and their position in the high school food chain. Each girl has a strong voice. They hold their own and will have you either rooting for them or wanting to shake some sense into them. 
  • This story deals with relevant teen issues like sex, drinking, partying, bullying, and anxiety. For some, every single time they step into that cafeteria, they feel like an outsider, they shrink away inside themselves and pray that they will remain invisible. That’s no way to live and no one should feel that way. How It Ends does an amazing job getting to the heart of those fears. Every deep breath, every cringe, the hyperventilating, the terror, the way words are phrased to avoid confrontation, it’s like the act of existing is a test. That is spot on throughout. 

CONS:

  • Annie is hard to sympathize with or like. From the first pages it only takes a chapter or two in her POV for her to do a total 180. It’s like she only sees what she wants to and conveniently forgets everything else. She doesn’t give in, she’s stubborn in the worst way, and it takes something really terrible to get her to wake up and face reality. 
  • Some things didn’t make sense. It felt like things were thrown in at the last minute. 
  • The mean girls were typical. The high school scenes were a little cliché. There wasn’t a great balance in terms of their friendship. It made one look more guilty than the other and like a terrible friend, though they both made harsh judgments, assumptions, and mistakes. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan