Not your love at first sight YA Book: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

By Robyn Schneider

Expected Publication August 27, 2013

Katherine Tegen Books (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

330 pages

Genre: YA realistic fiction

Four and a half stars

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13522285-the-beginning-of-everything

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

The Beginning of Everything is a coming of age story that centers around seventeen year old Ezra Faulkner who has seen his fair share of tragedies; often letting them control him and dictate his future. Newly “crippled” by a devastating car accident that led his “friends” to abandoning him, replacing him as SGA president and captain of the football team. In short, when he started his senior year, he didn’t know why to sit or who he was on the first day. None of his tennis friends, or people he thought were important, visited him in the hospital. Not only did his leg get damaged, not only did he lose the ability to play sports, he lost a part of himself he couldn’t recognize or care to fix.

As he looked around the cafeteria, he needed to make a choice. So he sat down at the table where his best friend from childhood sat. Tobie suffered a childhood tragedy, too. When Ezra and he celebrated Tobie’s birthday at Disneyland, a tourist sat up in the ride and severed his head which landed in Tobie’s lap for the duration of the ride, changing the dynamic of their friendship. Now, after Ezra faces his own, it is Tobie and his group of misfit friends that allow Ezra a chance to do a do-over. No strings attached, expected, or anything.

Enter new girl Cassidy Thorpe who needed a change, just like Ezra. And, as new girls come, apparently, secrets are tied around her. But, what is her secret? As Ezra finds himself, with the help of Cassidy, his ever changing love, Ezra discovers the truth behind Cassidy’s sad eyes and guarded past.

Although parts of this novel read as a first love book, what is different about this novel is the love story isn’t prominent or perfect in any sense. Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Parkis slightly similar to this novel (and almost as good of a read)  where the love is imperfect with a hidden background the girl is trying to keep to herself, what Schneider does, successfully in my opinion, show the imperfections of life that doesn’t need to change a person, not really anyway. She writes about the angst, with many good indie band plugs I can say, and gracefully this coming of age story becomes beautiful despite of the tragedies and hurt. That, we all have a past and our problems to work out, but in the end they manage to sort themselves out with a little push. They do not define us as much as we think, or give them credit for. This novel isn’t really about discovering the truth behind the accident, or the way Ezra copes, it is about realizing the beginnings turn into middles, but not ends; not right away. I have always had a problem with thinking about the next. What happens next with the characters? Surely it is not a fictional death? That after that last period is typed their lives stop. Yes, they are not really real, but yet they are. These characters can easily be you or me. An us and a them. High School love happens. So does the aftermath of that love. 

Schneider gives me a satisfying hope. And not a feeling of being left alone afterward. This is definitely a book I would reread. There are quotes that make me think; think about myself and how I react and live. One of my favorites is “The world tends toward chaos, you know,” It does, the world really does. And as much as Cassidy continues to say how she is helping it along, we all do. With the choices we make. And, it isn’t a bad thing. It just is. This is one of the first time I truly realized and accepted that. When we say our lives have been chaotic, what does that really mean? It just means, I am starting to feel, that each of our decisions, choices, and everything in between affects the world, and it isn’t a bad thing. It is the right thing. We need to keep moving along without second guessing ourselves or questioning our existence. OUr lives can be busy, but chaotic? Maybe that is just a word used too frequently. Maybe busy and chaotic aren’t really the same.

I love when YA books offer me this kind of substance and thought provoking sentences. Some YA books are just fluff, good fluff but fluff. Even the semi-realistic ones. There is love interests in all these novels, but the real love interest and story line in this story isn’t truly between Ezra and Cassidy, it is between Ezra and Ezra. Learning to love yourself despite the flaws you think you have. I would add more quotes, but as they are towards the end I will keep them to myself for a bit.

I hope you give this book a chance when it comes out next month. I am happy I got my advance copy when I attended the Book Expo of America. One of the best finds so far.

Happy reading!

-indie

It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

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Hi everyone! I am back from a two week or so hiatus from IMWAYR. Stuff just got away from me, I suppose. Luckily, my reading hunger has been increased and I am reading with fervor again. This past week I had one good book I read and one unfortunately disappointing. The first book review I posted last week was the surrealist novel by Norman Lock that was published a couple of years back. When I went to the Brooklyn Book Fair last now, after talking to the publishing house, the representative recommended this book to me. Now, I like to expand my reading tastes. I often stick to the same thing so I am open to try new books. I tried reading a book called Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, a collection of somewhat disturbing stories. Unclean jobs indeed! I put it aside for a later day. And Shadowplay by Lock  was barely finished, too. At a short 138 pages, I struggled to connect. At least Unclean had some really good quotes that I connected to. Not really the stories itself. And, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls was purchased at the same festival, the booth right next to him. THe cover was just so eye catching

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

But, alas, I am veering off topic. Back to Shadowplay, a surrealistic approach to the world of puppeteers and the connection they have with the “shadow” world as Lock describes it. You constantly know the end of the novel, from the beginning to the polite reminders, to what actually happened in the moment, and back to the end. No surprises there. Gunter can bring back the dead! Oh, yes he can. yOu can read my full review here.

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/shadows-at-the-shadowplay-theater-shadowplay-book-review/ You can see the pretty and misleading cover . Shadowplay Pretty but misleading. It does nothing to foretell what the book is about. Even the back of the book’s description is vague. Warning: if the back of the book lacks details, put it away! Buy another book. I have learned my lesson, I hope.

My brain’s choices were redeemed when I decided to read Prisoners in The Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the help of her maid, a reporter, and a scoundrel. Now, that was a fun, quick, engrossing read. Double the length of Shadowplay and it took me around two days to read it. Maybe because it is more in my comfort zone, but not quite certain. All I know is the book was the perfect combination of YA, which I still love, and historical fiction set in England in the 1830’s. The book just worked for me. IT was engrossing because the lead character, Elizabeth (Liza) Hastings was actually a little fascinating because I got to see how it was for a chambermaid who was used to nice things before her parents died in a carriage accident. You changed and adapted with her. Then, there was Princess Victoria and the drama with her becoming Queen–her silent struggle to become one. You can read my full review here.

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/not-your-average-princess-rescueprisoners-in-the-palace-how-princess-victoria-became-queen-with-the-help-of-her-maid-a-reporter-and-a-scoundrel-book-review/

 

The other books I read were more hits and misses, with a black sheep or so.  In order from the last read to the first, the books are

The Lace Makers of Glenmara Heather Barbieri with the review here:

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/an-irish-ladys-lace-the-lace-makers-of-glenmara-book-review/

Havisham; A Novel Ronald Frame with the review here.

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/a-new-havisham-havisham-a-novel-book-review/

And, lastly, Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #2) by Kerstin Gier here:

https://indiewritergirl0329.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/sapphire-blue-ruby-red-trilogy-2-book-review/

 

Happy Reading this week! I will be posting a couple more books. I am currently almost done with my advanced copy of The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider that is becoming a quick read; funny, enjoyable, and full of great indie band references, maybe too many.

-indie

Not Your Average Princess Rescue:Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel book review

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Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel

By: Michaela MacColl

Published in 2013 by Chronicle Books

368 Pages

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Four Stars

London, 1838. Sixteen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in an accident. Penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servants’ world below-stairs and the rampant trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the chance to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future queen? Meticulously based on newly discovered information, this engrossing novel is as rich in historical detail.

–goodreads.com description

A couple years back, I watched the film Young Victoria with Emily Blunt as young Victoria. I fell in love with that movie pretty much immediately. Emily Blunt was great in it; as well as an under appreciated actress in my opinion. I have always been interested in the British Monarchy for some reason. There is more intrigue and secrecy that has happened than we are aware. Hence my deep fascination with historical fiction novels, particularly British. So, as another great $2.99 nook find, I fell in love with this neglected book. I have no idea how long I have had it. On a whim of sorts, after failing to love the previous book I read, it was great to pick this book up and never want to let it go.

          What starts off as a novel about a spoiled brat coming to terms with her new station and position serving the Princess, comes a tale based on the true accounts of Princess Victoria’s rise to the throne and the conniving ways of her mother and her mother’s “lover” and confidant Sir John.  Michaela MacColl creates a believable girl to act as a chambermaid, part spy, and confidant to sixteen year old Victoria up until Princess Victoria’s coronation.  Recently orphaned  Elizabeth Hastings was forced out of her fancy London hotel with a large bill and no inheritance. As luck would have it, Liza is born; from spoiled girl just shy of entering her first season in society to the girl who saved Princess Victoria and her Queendom from Sir John Conroy and Princess Victoria’s more, the Duchess.

        I absolutely adored this book because it included many details and inside looks, the first and foremost actual journal entries from Queen Victoria’s journal she kept when she was younger with entries that detailed the first time she met her future husband, her cousin Albert. There were also actual correspondences written by Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess, when Victoria was getting closer to the throne. The novel felt very real and authentic. Even if you are unfamiliar with Queen Victoria and her life, this would be a good historical fiction starter novel. Mostly, because it does not just include Princess Victoria and her life’s activities, but an authentic representation of a working girl and how it life was for an orphan and/or one of lower class standings.

      In the back of this novel,  MacColl  talks about how she was able to portray Liza and young Princess Victoria’s life. MacColl even goes as far as writing about an actual woman who was a dismissed maid of Victoria’s and the maid’s downfall (her death).  I loved this book more after I read the author’s note. I felt that much closer to Queen Victoria and the struggles all women had to face. The details were vivid sufficiently, with details that I could relate to, even without being a princess or Queen.  Both Liza and Princess (Queen) Victoria were portrayed as personable, with struggles I could relate to, if not understand. There are plenty historical fiction novels that tackle England, and it’s Monarchy, but not many YA ones that are as impressive and representative as this book is.

Happy Reading!

-indie

Shadows at the Shadowplay Theater: Shadowplay Book Review

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Shadowplay

Shadowplay

By Norman Lock

Published in 2009

Ellipsis Press

Genre: Surrealist Fiction

138 pages

In Java, a master of the Shadow-Puppet Theater seeks to possess-by his art-a woman who perishes as though by the contagion of his unnatural desire.

-back of the book description.

In praise of Shadowplay, R.M. Berry wrote Stories compensate for lives unlived. They are what… Guntur, calls shadows, negative reflections on a backlit screen, comprising, through artistry and brief illumination, ghosts. Lock’s teller is imprisoned by darkness, captivated by warriors and princesses no longer, if ever, living. Death becomes a distance from which the voices of these unliving return. It is a journey as delicious as it is threatening.

After reading this book, I have not found many praise on or about the novel. On the back cover, the only praise that was about the book was by R.M. Barry where it offers more as a summary. For the first time, I am not giving this book a rating. This 138 page book was often difficult to read, and hard to get swept up in.  There is no clear description, or synopsis I could give this book. It is more of a, huh? What just happened? I will try to explain, though.

Guntur was a Dalang.  What a dalang really is, is not entirely clear. Although this word, and the word wayang are mentioned often in italics, there is no concrete definition. Dalang seems to be a master puppeteer. But not just any puppeteer. Guntur has memorized the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There is Arjuna, who is protected by Lord Krishna. His puppets, wayang that is hand crafted with horse leather, become alive with his touch. They are shadows, real and not at the same time. Guntur is connected with these puppets and “people” more than he is with the human race. So much so, that he takes his wayang, Arjuna to journey into the land of the dead. He didn’t know the woman he fell deeply in love with, not truly. She  was always at arm’s length with him. He would sit behind his white, cotton screen soaking up all that she said. The minute details of her life. Things that were more simple than the world and lives he created, worshiped, and reenacting with passion and ardor. She was a simpleton. Yet, after a devastating ten years, he journeys to find her dead body, asleep in the underworld to selfishly bring her back as a wayang. All out of love.     How does he do it? By creating the stories that make everything true and possible in the world of the sleeping. He speaks of what should happen, and he does because it is a story, a story that becomes real somehow. Whew, how convoluted does that sound? That, ultimately none of it is true, really. True is a tough word to use. Maybe not the right one that matches the emotions. Just makes me wonder is life all fictitious? Or, is imagination, and determination, all it takes to bring someone back?

I just couldn’t keep up with the novel; with all the italics for words that I couldn’t quite figure out.  It all just felt flat to me. I just had a hard time. It took me almost a week to read a 138 page book. Six days! Six days? And, what did I get out of it? Two quotes I kind of liked. Just two. And I love reading books by indie authors. And books that are different. But this book went beyond. And not a good beyond for me. I just can’t rate it because I still can’t grasp what happened. I am disconnected and left empty. It wasn’t bad, though. I just think it is for a very specific audience, and I still don’t know who that audience is. I wish it was better. That I fell in love with a surprise pick. But, nope. Not at all. This book made me slightly regret paying money for it at the Brooklyn Book Festival last September. I could have bought a better book. Oh, well.

Many times it is only the names of things that make a difference to anyone– that is to say:words. 

-Shadowplay

Pseudonyms VS Nom de Plumes- What J.K.Rowling is doing wrong with Robert Galbraith

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I have been meaning to write a post ever since I found about Robert Galbraith’s true identity. Now, I never heard of this debut author, as I am sure many of us did not. I know at a certain Barnes and Noble store, they  had only four copies, the usual standard with well reviewed debut authors. The release is somewhat limited because there isn’t enough buzz that would suggest it would be a big seller. This happens with most debuts, with the ones that succeed expectations get more copies produced. Let me tell you something though, as someone who wants to break into publishing, reads a lot, and writes, I am a little appalled by this new revelation, why? Pseudonyms are acceptable. Yes, I understand that. Sometimes authors create a pseudonym to release books that allows them to not completely alienate their established, loyal fan base. Or, in some cases, because the next genre they choose to write is not suitable for their original fan base.

One author who does this is indie author and literary agent Mandy Hubbard. Mandy Hubbard writes middle-school fiction, whereas her pseudonym, Amanda Grace, writes edgier young adult fiction not suitable for her audience when she writes under her given name. This is completely acceptable to me. And, she has been open about it from the beginning, that I am aware of. On her blog, mandyhubbard.blogspot.com, she states this and her reason behind the two identities. James Frey, not so gracefully yet successfully, created the name Pittacus Lore as a pseudonym to write young adult fantasy books, that he has some ghost writers on, with his  Lorien Legacies series. (FYI, as I just checked, Lore’s biography has been changed, unfortunately). With his book A Million Little Pieces,  his memoir, has no longer been taken seriously. Fun fact though, it was originally sent out as fiction. But, as fiction is harder to sell, memoirs and certain non-fiction genres are not. So, he decided to make that buck and lie. But with his Pittacus Lore persona, he can create worlds and battles that would not have been looked at or taken seriously. No one can trust him now. So, he made a smart move.

Now, Barnes and Noble released an article today, where they mention author authors who have “done” what she has. As I read through the article, I was getting slightly bothered. Out of the five authors mentioned, J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith, B. Traven, Alice Sheldon as Tiptree, J.R., Stephen King as Richard Bachmann and a book written by Carmela Ciuaru called Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, J.K. Rowling seemed to not entirely fit in; nor B. Traven since it was more of a Nom de Plume like Dr. Seuss. I have decided if I was to be published I want two initials and my last name. I’m not creating a fictional biography, truly, outside of who I am. George Orwell has had a Nom de Plume. Dr. Seuss was not a real name. Yet, it is known what his birth name is. Plus, actors do this all the time. But, do not take the creative license to create an identity full of lies and mislead people.

I say J.K. Rowling does not fit because her pseudonym seems to stand out on her own. Her book was successfully reviewed, although not as much as if it was with her name. I do have to take in consideration the fact that The Casual Vacancy did not succeed as high as the expectations were laid out.

Was Robert Galbraith a way to get better sales rather than to pursue a new literary career? Although a law firm leaked her name, I also feel this is slightly a publicity stunt because of the completely fake biography. Yes, she is angry that it was released that it was her. But, why? Many of her predecessors have changed their name to express themselves in another market, and genre. It is one thing to want to create another literary identity to be able to reach a different audience. But, most authors do not hide, make up a biography, and have a boost in reprints. The Casual Vacancy was already a step outside of her comfort zone. I  respect her decision to want to be taken seriously as an author and not have children that read her Harry Potter series read a more adult book, why must she do something like she has? I feel slightly duped. To me, I am now feeling as if this new attention will ultimately take away from the material.

Abandoning Books

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Abandoning Books.

 

I love goodreads and so happy I saw this post. Thanks, THe Bookshelf of Emily J.

An Irish Lady’s Lace: The Lace Makers of Glenmara Book Review

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The Lace Makers of Glenmara

The Lace Makers of Glenmara

by Heather Barbieri

Published in 2009

Genre: Cultural Chick Lit

Five Stars

 “You can always start again,” Kate Robinson’s mother once told her, “all it takes is a new thread.” Overwhelmed by heartbreak and loss, the struggling twenty-six-year-old fashion designer follows her mother’s advice and flees to her ancestral homeland of Ireland, hoping to break free of old patterns and reinvent herself.

She arrives on the west coast, in the seaside hamlet of Glenmara. In this charming, fading Gaelic village, Kate quickly develops a bond with members of the local lace-making society.

Under Glenmara’s spell, Kate finds the inspiration that has eluded her, and soon she and the lace makers are creating a line of exquisite lingerie. In their skilled hands, flowers, Celtic dragons, nymphs, fish, saints, kings, and queens come to life, rendered with painterly skill. The circle also offers them something more—the strength to face their long-denied desires and fears. But not everyone welcomes Kate, and a series of unexpected events threatens to unravel everything the women have worked so hard for.

goodreads.com

 

This novel quickly became engrossing and irresistible. I think it was really the first page: Learning to Sew.

My favorite, moving quote was

      “You hesitate, thinking of past mistakes, when you threw the pieces across the room in a fit of anger because nothing was coming together the way it should, and you cried over a misshapen collar or sleeve, lying prone in your lap as an injured child.

And yet you must press your lips together, pick up the thread. Don’t be afraid. You’ll find your way.”

Don’t be afraid. You’ll find your way. And you will, you really will. Just as you will find your heart in Ireland, listening to women about their lives and the traditions they refuse to give up. Bernie, with printing a strictly Gaelic newspaper, the native language that is slowly slipping away. Throw in religious beliefs, staying and settling, and a foreigner and you just touch the surface of Glenmara and this novel. It becomes more than a small town not being open to change. It is more than one woman joining a lace making circle and deciding to reinvent their drab lingerie. Each woman finds their own way.

“…but destiny had a number of tricks up her sleeve, didn’t she, both joyful and tragic?”

I got inspired to find my own way. The novel wasn’t just a novel for me. The women were not really fictitious to me.  I may sound vague about the plot, however this is a novel where a quick sum up won’t do. Besides, it is relatively short under three hundred pages. I just loved the writing. I felt like I was back in Ireland. To me, that is a sure sign that the author is doing his or hers job. It is hard when I feel apathetic towards characters, settings, and plots. When even an object makes me feel something, the author really is talented. I felt connected to the lace, feeling the powers it began to have over the women; unbeknownst to the women. The women of the lace making circle were content with the tea towels, table cloths, and napkins. Yet, as the way things are, all it takes is one chance, one jump, one stranger to challenge things, and widen a closed mind’s perspective.

 

Of course with all the learning, growing, and learning/remembering to love, you have the great Garda, Glenmara police. While reading the novel, there are little tidbits thrown in about calls the Garda received. I am going to list a few gems there were.

                         Woman says a faerie has enchanted her well; when she tries to bring up a bucket of water, the rope breaks. Garda says she’s usurping the faeries’ property rights and should pay a usage fee. One Euro is the going rate, the faerie economy not being immune to inflation.

Man calls Garda, says neighbor’s bull is remodeling his house. Garda asks if he’s putting in a new kitchen. No, he says, the bull is taking it down.

Woman calls Garda, says neighbor won’t stop gardening in the nude. Garda asks if he is good-looking. No, she says, he has a pot belly and skinny legs. Well, Garda says, the weather’s changing and he’ll have to put a raincoat on the morrow. That should improve the view.

There are a few more gems, I could just only write down so many. They were great to read and break up the intensity that sometimes popped up.

I can’t recommend this quick, engrossing reads enough. I never expected to love this novel. Sometimes, I get in a reading rut. I read a book a week, or less. I can’t find a book that grabs my attention. It is nice when I happen upon a hidden gem. I got this on my nook for a great price, but as I did with Ruby Red, I let it set on the wayside. It is nice when I go through my e-library with no real intent. That is when I truly discover a book of mine that I gave no mind to buying. I just figured it was cheap. I am realizing that the cheap books are just as good, or better, than the pricey more advertised ones.

If you have an e-reader, and feel like browsing, take a long look at this book. It is worth the spontaneity and quick click of the buy. It has lit something inside me, for some reason. I started to re-evaluate things and put my life into action. Have you read a book like that before? This is more than a possible Chick Lit categorized book. It really is. And, if only I could quote the last line of the book. If only…

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