Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England.
You can find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Edelweiss+.
School library volunteer at my son's K8 school. Member of ALA and YALSA.
Review requests ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve done a few posts for LAST GIRLS already but it finally hit the shelves this week!
I’ve been looking forward to this release for a LONG time so I hope loads of readers add it to their libraries and TBR lists now that it’s out.
**It’s kind of rough for authors to be releasing books while bookstores are closed during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Authors and local bookstores could really do with your support right now so show them your love of books by placing online orders of physical copies of books to be SHIPPED TO YOU!!*
Demetra Brodsky's Last Girls is a twisting, suspenseful YA thriller about sisterhood, survival, and family secrets set in the world of doomsday prepping.
No one knows how the world will end.
On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.
Prepare for every situation.
But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:
Nowhere is safe.
what makes this a great read…
Honey, Blue, and Birdie haven’t had a choice but to live in The Nest and although they feel like weirds among their peers at school, they are tightly bonded to each other. They have been brought up to follow strict rules and guidelines, to not trust Outsiders, and know how to survive in all kinds of situations (without the constant use of technology, and while also not knowing the full truth about their past).
They are strong despite the trauma they’ve been through. They are connected despite the distance they must maintain from others around them. They are smart beyond their years despite everything that is missing from their lives.
It’s a story that unfolds as thriller, a mystery about a prepper community that gradually appears to be a dangerous group with some dark plans, but this is decidedly a contemporary novel with superb character development. The entire story also wouldn’t be complete without a family secret and the ending encapsulates some of my most positive feelings about ‘Last Girls’; nothing cheesy, just full-on satisfied it ends that way.
Author Demetra really allows the reader to get to know her characters and writes her contemporary ‘worlds’ with the detail of a fantasy novel (I love the way she uses actual survivalist terminology for chapter names); these give the story so much more depth. Getting lost in the woods of the Pacific Northwest is one thing (I don’t think I’d advise it). But getting lost in this book for a weekend is immersive and wonderful.
*some thoughts about the state of the world around us in relation to LAST GIRLS*
Once the COVID-19 outbreak started affecting our communities jut a few short months ago, the concept of doomsday-prepping became something that seemed to be terrifyingly necessary because we suddenly went into ‘lockdown’ mode.
When our minds go into catastrophic thinking mode amid crisis (and the Coronavirus outbreak definitely can be described as a real one, not imagined), we turn to ways of coping that may be extreme, but not always rationally thought through.
Across the country and early on in the outbreak, many people started hoarding supplies such as toilet paper, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, and disposable face masks. They were panic-buying.
*Doomsday-preppers/preppers/survivalists don’t hoard per se; they spend months preparing and saving supplies, and plan to disperse these within their community if there is an emergency.
Because many people bought way more than personally needed or that they needed for their families, many people, including those with less resources and also essential personnel, could not get what they needed. This has been just one of the vey unfortunate issues of the pandemic, but thankfully many people have shown their compassion for others by sharing and caring for their neighbors and strangers in this time. Crisis has the potential to bring out the best in some people but not so much for others.
LAST GIRLS author Demetra Brodsky wrote her sophomore novel about a trio of sisters who live in a prepper community over a year ago, long before the current outbreak of COVID-19 that has swept the United States and much of the world.
I think there’s something quite wonderful about this having been written before the outbreak but most will read it afterwards. I read it during ‘quarantine’ and it colored the way I was feeling at that time; I was barely leaving my house!
It seems crazy to have written about people preparing for TEOTWAWKI (and people prepare for ‘The End’ all the time) when it kind of felt like it for a while when so much was unknown.
I’m grateful to Demetra and all my books and for the privilege of reading so I can escape my own reality when things are hard. For real.
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will be hosting a Virtual Launch Event for LAST GIRLS on Saturday May 9th at 2pm, and you can check out the info at the FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE!
You can order signed copies of the book through Mysterious Galaxy, whether you tune in for the event or not.
HAPPY READING. Stay healthy, everyone :)
*A review copy was provided by the author Demetra Brodsky in exchange of an honest review. THANK YOU!*
This was SO MUCH FUN! to read!!! I honestly didn’t know I’d get such a kick out of reading a middle-grade graphic novel but I found myself up one night at 1 am completely wrapped up in this...
a bit about the book…
Middle School Misadventures: Operation: Hat Heist!
by Jason Platt
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: Middle Grade, Children's, Graphic Novel
In Jason Platt's second Middle School Misadventures graphic novel, Newell's favorite hat gets taken away! With the help of his most talented friends, he concocts the perfect plan to get it back. Operation: Hat Heist is a go!
Newell's favorite show of all time is The Captain! Newell is beyond excited when he learns that the Captain himself, Patrick O'Shaughnessy, will be at Monster Comic-Con. He can't wait to meet The Captain wearing his once-worn-by-The-Captain WWII crusher hat that his dad gave him. But when Newell brings the hat to school, it gets stolen from his backpack! Fart.
When Newell finally spots the culprit wearing his hat in the hall, Mr. Todd confiscates it and reminds the students, "There are no hats to be worn in school!" Double fart. What will Newell do?! He wants his hat back so he doesn't let his dad down and can impress his hero, but Mr. Todd refuses to return it! Just when Newell is about to give up, he receives a note from 8th-grader Ethan: "I have an idea. Also, bring your friends. They can help, too." Can Newell, Ethan, and this ragtag group of friends pull off the perfect hat heist?
In this fun and imaginative full-color graphic novel, Jason Platt sends fast-talking, daydreaming, Newell on another desperate quest to save his favorite hat before he meets his all-time hero.
BOOK LINKS: GR | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | TBD | Kobo
This is a middle-grade buddy adventure graphic novel that goes so much further than the cover and description would at first suggest, and I loved every frame of it. Newell is an eighth-grader with a group of loyal friends, a dad who he watches their favorite show 'The Captain' with, and a very special hat that he keeps on losing.
Author Jason Platt opens the book with an 'episode' of 'The Captain' and this is the hook for the entire story; Newell shares a love for this show with his dad, and it also represents their connection. When Newell gets his hat stolen and then confiscated at school (so many lessons/horror stories!) he has just got to get it back. He can't go to Monster Comic-Con and meet his hero without it and there's no way his dad can find out about the hat being gone…again.
There are so many dilemmas and interesting situations presented for Newell in this fast-paced story, and every single one feels genuine. They all feel natural for the age group that Platt has written for (and placed me right there back at school): the school teacher you feel is out to get you, your group of friends that is your entire world, the class you hate, the things you look forward to, the worry that you will disappoint, those big emotions. But there are also high-jinks and a heist plot which is brilliant, and a major twist to the story that I was completely not expecting which displays expert story-telling.I can't even completely reveal the whole story because of it.
While a middle-grader will probably be reading this for the adventure of Newell getting his hat back for Comic-Con (and this is a very worthy cause; I go to them with my own son), there are many deeper levels to this graphic novel that I hope are absorbed and maybe discussed if read with someone else, it is also filled with beautifully-drawn artwork, and it works for other age ranges for an entertaining read.
I'll be recommending this series for the school library, and I'll be reading more of the series myself!
a little bit about the author Jason…
*A review/e-galley copy was provided by the publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange of an honest review, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club (FFBC). THANK YOU!*
LAST GIRLS PRE-ORDER CAMPAIGN
Hey all! I recently finished this amazing YA novel set here in Washington, a tale about family, survival, and doomsday prepping. The book releases in just 3 weeks on 5.5.20; lots of time to get in a preorder and then get your book for your (quarantine) reading! If you send in your receipt to Demetra, she’s got some great prizes and preorder gifts in store...
The Juniper sisters in LAST GIRLS don't go anywhere without a backpack (what they call an EDC: Every Day Carry) and they take great pride in their artwork. Honey paints, Birdie draws comics, and Blue uses embroidery to fancy up her clothes (when she's not spending time with her beloved falcon, Achilles).
To honor the sisters' talents, author Demetra Brodsky will be sending one lucky winner some artistic inspiration by offering up a fabulous pre-order Grand Prize. But don't worry, everyone who orders will receive a gift with purchase. And, as a bonus, she is including a 2nd prize that holds a special place in her author heart.
ALL PREORDERS WILL RECEIVE: Last Girls 5x7 Glossy Art Print & Signed Bookplate
ALL PREORDERS WILL BE ENTERED FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE GRAND AND FIRST PRIZE.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER: (chosen at random on or before 5/19) will receive a BUILT NY grey & blue camouflage backpack with thermal lunch compartment. Inside you'll find a mini acrylic painting kit (From Honey), a sketchbook & pen (From Birdie), an adorable 10" peregrine falcon plushie and mini sewing kit (from Blue), a flashlight (with batteries), a rosy tinted lip balm, camouflage band-aids, a 3-pack of portable tissues printed with positive messages, and a dehydrated camping meal like the one the sisters eat in the book.
FIRST PRIZE: (chosen at random on or before 5/19) A signed hardcover copy of my debut novel, DIVE SMACK, to round out your collection (Surprise! There's a big Dive Smack Easter Egg hidden in the pages of Last Girls)
TO ENTER: email proof of purchase to email@example.com before May 5th. You'll get one entry for each copy of the book you purchase.
Available wherever books are sold.
Whenever possible, please support Indie Bookstores by buying through www.bookshop.org
You can also preorder your copy through these links:
Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego will have signed copies (not bookplates) and offers Free shipping for media mail rate within the U.S. on orders over $35. https://www.mystgalaxy.com/book/9781250256522
VISIT: www.demetrabrodsky.com to learn more!
*Open to U.S.A. Residents Only
*Sweepstakes run and fulfilled by the author
*Share with your friends
READ AN EXCERPT LAST GIRLS HERE:
Good luck, and get your order in now!
RELEASED March 17th, 2020
Links to buy the book on via the author’s site - dianaurban.com
Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. They’ve been lured to a dining room and locked in with a bomb and a syringe of poison, along with a note instructing them to pick one of them to die….or they all will. The book retraces the events of the last year, flashing back to each character at times that reveal various connections between each of them and all kinds of twisted secrets. Who could have known how they were all connected and how will they choose who will die?
This is a smart contemporary, perfectly combined with mystery, a whodunit that keeps you guessing until the end. The cast of characters has been compared to that of ‘The Breakfast Club’ (only one of the best 80’s coming-of-age teen movies ever); the queen bee, the star athlete, the stoner, the loner, the valedictorian and the music geek cover just about all the usual cliques and stereotypes you’ll find in American high school. Over the decades of movies and books, they haven’t really changed that much but this story felt fresh.
As the teens’ stories are revealed through their past timelines, multiple themes are focused on such as bullying, mental health issues, drug abuse, and suicide. While this makes clear that these things could be triggering, I want to say how skilled author Diana Urban was in writing such complex issues into such a thrilling book. So much action happens over a relatively short period of time and in a small space with a lot of characters, and it takes some really crafty writing to pull that off. Having worked in film, and doing continuity on set, I pictured a lot of these scenes in my head while reading and marveled at how complex it is to write scenes like them to build action within such tight parameters.
If you like classic mysteries like those by Agatha Christie, this is a perfect read.
If you love the board game (or the super fun 80’s movie) CLUE, this book is for you. I really enjoyed the ensemble cast of characters.
If you need a book where the characters are feeling just as shut inside and claustrophobic as you during this virus quarantine, then this is definitely THE book for that. And you will pass the hours by way too quickly because this will just suck you in. The most fun to be had while ‘stuck’ in one (imaginary) room.
‘All Your Twisted Secrets’ is a brilliantly written, smart mystery that I couldn’t put down once I started it; I truly hope there’s so much more to come from Diana Urban! Easily a 5 star read.
ABOUT DIANA URBAN
Diana Urban is an author of dark, twisty thrillers. When she's not torturing fictional characters, she works in digital marketing for startups. She lives with her husband and cat in Boston and enjoys reading, video games, fawning over cute animals, and looking at the beach from a safe distance.
The first word I thought of to describe ‘Red Hood’ is outstanding. It holds a potent message of female empowerment and gives us a whole new image of ‘Little Red Hiding Rood,’ and it’s coated in so much blood it feels like a murder-mystery. If just that makes you uncomfortable or woozy, you probably won’t be able to handle all the intense themes and topics* that author Elana K. Arnold weaves into this hypnotic coming-of-age tale. But if you love a brave story where cruel realities meet bold fantasy and aren't afraid to enter the woods, you should definitely proceed.
There are countless stories where women and girls are at the mercy of men, of predators, where they are abused and assaulted, and it takes a lot for retribution to happen. Sometimes it never does. They are stories that mirror reality and they are hard to read and hear because they are too familiar to many of us.
'Red Hood' flips that story on its tail, with Bisou discovering her birthright when she gets her first period at the light of the full moon on Homecoming night; she suddenly has the otherworldly power to fight and kill the predators she can now sense in the dark Seattle woods. Bisou can sense when the wolves, these broken boys, are attacking their prey, and she is compelled by her own past, her bloodline, to protect and save these young women, these girls, and go on the hunt.
With a story loaded with an emotional hot-button issue like sexual assault (and revenge-killing) in a social climate where the #MeToo movement is on everyone's radar, this book is sure to catch the attention of a lot of readers. And it will be the reason some have to stay away; that's fine, we know our limits.
There will be discussion over whether 'killing the wolf' (and whether an 'eye for an eye') is justified. But I liken this kind of justice to that of other vigilantes out there in our fantasy worlds, our superheroes, Batman, Arrow, Hawkeye. I have to wonder if this kind of vengeance is called into question further because it's a woman carrying it out and because of the connection to sex. And no, I don't think we have to answer how the 'boy became the wolf' because that's a whole other story, and not for Bisou's tale. We don't always have to answer where the evil comes from to know that we have to get rid of it.
I struggled to write this review, as I often have when a book really blows me away. I’d been lost for words since I read it, but thought about it a lot, and had somewhat pointlessly ‘written’ a review in my mind several times. I just want others to feel the way I did when I read it, clinging to every word.
Last year, it was ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett that did the same thing for me. Both books portray women finding their place, their truth, and their power, albeit through very different stories and means, but both left me feeling that women can change their circumstances, they can be emboldened and empowered, and that they are ENOUGH. 'Red Hood' is magical and profound. It's also an intimate tale of one girl's discovery of her tragic past and her personal power. And as I said, it's outstanding.
*Aside from sexual assault, murder, revenge-killing and rape, some themes and topics raised: sexual intercourse (including loss of virginity, and teen sex), drug and alcohol use, menstruation, abuse, bullying, suicide, self-harm, stalking, toxic masculinity, harassment.
Jaya Rao and her little sister Isha are Indian princesses, teenagers who end up at an elite boarding school called St. Rosetta's International Academy in Aspen, Colorado. Aside from Jaya's usual responsibilities that involve preparing her to one day take over the role of helming the 'Imperial House of Mysuru,' Jaya is fiercely protective of her younger sister Isha, who has recently fallen victim to a tabloid campaign released by someone in the Emerson family, British aristocracy and centuries-old rivals of the Raos. It's a rivalry based on a curse and superstition, centered around a stolen ruby, the perfect setup for a fairytale. In this modern reimagining of 'Beauty and the Beast' Jaya finds out that Grey Emerson, the young Lord Northcliffe, is also at Rosetta's and Jaya vows revenge for her sister, something that will require her to get this nobleman to fall in love with her just so she can break his heart.
'Of Curses & Kisses' was the perfect YA romance novel for me right now and since I'm not a huge reader of the genre, I'm pretty selective with these reads. This one piqued my interest early because of the boarding school setting (I just couldn’t resist) and the unique matchup of the main characters due to their backgrounds and ancestry.
Menon is a natural storyteller with a light and easy way of storytelling, and this novel is a perfect example of why she is one of the most popular names in young adult romance literature.
She creates many great setups for multifaceted vibrant characters and demonstrates the struggle to choose between family and ancestry, and the desire to grow up and become autonomous. As a lead character whose motives drive the storyline, Jaya’s connection to her sister is one of her most admirable traits, but because it fuels her revenge plot that revolves around her getting close to her male ‘rival’ Grey, she has so many conflicting emotions. She is confused by her real attraction to Grey, a brooding, sympathetic character (who calls himself a ‘Beast’) who she is supposed to ‘love and leave’ as it conflicts with her duty to marry an Indian boy back home.
I was frustrated that some of the friendships seemed a little shallow and although the strict conformity of Jaya was initially irritating, these elements made more sense as the story unfurled. I was aching for her to break out of the mold that she is trapped in, which her sister Isha has been able to do since they’ve been far from their home in India. I’m really hoping that in upcoming sequels about these two at Rosetta’s, Menon includes more of Isha and allows them both to blossom further.
While this might not be ground-breaking territory, I appreciate that author Menon has written a romance that teens on the younger end of the scale can read and appreciate, along with everyone else; the intimate encounters between characters don’t feel too over the top.
Whether you are a ‘Beauty & The Beast’ fan and are looking for new life to be breathed into the classic fairytale, or you know nothing of the original, this is a fun jaunt with a modern twist to boarding school in the Colorado Rockies. It offers international flair and light romance and is perfect reading for in between heavier books.
*Thank you to Goodreads giveaways for my early copy!
RELEASES TODAY JAN 7, 2020
Need an exciting, genre-bending book to kick-start your 2020 and pull you out of your winter doldrums?
'Oasis' by Katya de Becerra, is a speculative fiction novel, a YA adventure thriller, and the perfect antidote to any complaints about it being too cold in January (at least in some parts of the world right now).
This is the second novel by Katya and it's quite different from her debut 'What The Woods Keep'; WTWK was set in the woods of Colorado, where you could almost feel the cool, damp air coming off its spooky pages, but 'Oasis' will hit you with a blast of desert heat and entrap you in its 'Twilight Zone'-like warped reality.
The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave . . .
Blending science-fiction, adventure, and mystery, the book begins with Alif and a group of her four friends traveling to Dubai, to work on her father's archaeological dig. When a sudden sandstorm wipes away the desert camp, the group finds themselves stranded out in the dunes, with no sight of the dig or anything remotely near civilization on the horizon. When they find an unexpected oasis, which provides them with food, water, shade, and a sliver of hope for survival, the friends decide to wait things out, hoping to be rescued. The discovery of an ancient object changes their fates entirely, and reality becomes harder to hold on to as they feel sucked into what feels like the Twilight Zone crossed with a perilous episode of Lost.
Their friendships are tested as the tension and fear grow; trust between them dissolves and the oasis and all that it holds, is a threat to their perception and ultimately, their lives. Things aren't always as they seem in the oasis...
I became an instant fan of Katya's writing with her first book and this is because of her wildly intelligent storytelling, which has roots in science and her own experience, and her unique brand of 'paranormal thriller.'
The vibe of the book is one of unease from the very start; as much as an Indiana Jones-style archaeological dig seems like it could be exciting, I got the ominous feeling early on that it would eventually be terrifying. The oasis feels too good to be true when the group finds it at first, and when strange things start happening, there is a dread that kicks in.
Katya masterfully creates atmosphere (in both of her books) with her detailed descriptions of the setting, and the oasis becomes another character itself. I actually could feel my anxiety building the longer that Alif and her friends were stuck in the oasis, and as the book continues, a distorted sense of what's real and what's not. I likened the feeling to how I feel when dehydrated, tired and overheated, like the characters themselves (I have horrible heat intolerance these days, so I know I wouldn't have lasted long in this book). While the physical struggle for survival is dire in these conditions, a grip on reality is a greater challenge, something I find even more frightening. This is a theme that continues through to the end of the novel, where questions still will linger for the reader, about perceived realities and even whether it's worth wishing for what we don't have.
*When reading this, I also couldn't help but think of how I feel when I read a book by Blake Crouch, who is another favorite author of mine (Dark Matter, Recursion, Wayward Pines).
'Oasis' will probably leave you feeling unnerved (and maybe a bit sweaty) and while Katya creates a slow build rather than quick twists and turns, it will have carried you far and away from your own present reality. It's dark, even in the blazing sun, and delightfully mind-bending.
Katya de Becerra is the author of What The Woods Keep, a YA genre-bender combining mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Her next novel Oasis will be published in January 2020. She was born in Russia, studied in California and now lives in Melbourne. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Melbourne in 2014 and has since been working as a university lecturer and a researcher in higher education.
You can read about Katya's writing process and what inspired her to write OASIS over on the FIERCE READS website!
Congrats to you, Katya, on your second novel, the Booklist starred reviews, and for being a BOTM pick! I'm thrilled for you!
You can read my previous review for WHAT THE WOODS KEEP HERE!
**OASIS CONTENT WARNINGS (general): mention/descriptions of blood and injury, turbulence, mentions of bullying, mentions of violent behavior, smoking, swearing, physical & verbal fighting, mentions of divorce, mentions of racism and racist micro-aggressions, the experience of injury/strain, dehydration, drinking alcohol
Content warnings ('spoilery' ones): death by impalement, human bones, mentions of artifact theft and trafficking/smuggling, hospitalization, medical procedure (IV drip), seizures (observed, not experienced), fear of drinking poisoned water
*Warnings are per Katya herself
In 2018, I totally fell for a YA thriller called 'DIVE SMACK' by debut Greek-American author Demetra Brodsky, and eagerly wrote a blog tour post featuring a 5-star review for the book. The book has a male teen protagonist who shows emotional vulnerability, is on the school dive team, and is experiencing profound grief and loss, bold choices for a lead character, plus he's within a whole cast of unique characters. It's dark, twisty, and even funny, I can't recommend it enough.
SO, I'm very excited about Demetra's next upcoming book, 'LAST GIRLS' due to be released May 20th, 2020 by Tor Teen! It's a book about the end of the world, a YA dystopian novel, but the author describes it as a book about survival and sisterhood.
Here is the first look at the amazing cover!
Cover Artist Credit
Dana Lédlová Instagram / Website
No one knows how the world will end.
On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.
Train for every situation.
But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:
Nowhere is safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DEMETRA BRODSKY
DEMETRA BRODSKY loves to write twisty thrillers about dark family secrets. She is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned full-time. A first-generation Greek American and native of Massachusetts with a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Demetra now lives in Southern California where she's always exploring and researching, hunting for clues that might feed into her next book. Dive Smack, her debut YA Thriller, was a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection, and an (ALAN) Pick (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE).
Website: / Twitter / Instagram
LINKS TO PREORDER THE BOOK!
Signed copies @ Mysterious Galaxy
I expect I'll have a review up before the book release; lookout for this exciting apocalyptic thriller, and preorder! Preorders really help authors!!
So I took a break from my regularly scheduled October menu of horror reading and read LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS for this blog tour, and it was like stepping into an alternate reality. It's a YA fantasy, but it almost defies categorization because of how it brings the old world into the present and breathes new life into ancient myth.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Emily Roberson
Pub. Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
This is an astoundingly clever mash-up of Greek mythology, celebrity culture (think 'Keeping Up with The Kardashians'), and the Hunger Games; altogether the story of Ariadne and Theseus is told, where the gods are under the lens 24/7 just like Khloe and Kim, and ratings are always king. The monster is the Minotaur, Ariadne's brother, a tragic character, who is supposed to be killed by whoever solves the maze. Ariadne is caught between helping her new-found love or helping her family, with everything having been written by the gods.
Life's tricky when your dad is King of Crete.
It's kind of nauseating to read about Greek gods and goddesses caught up in the trappings of modern life, of cell phones, celebrity gossip, and social media, BUT its also really fun. Suspend your disbelief for a little while and imagine Ariadne with an iPhone. She is also a strong heroine in this novel who carries the whole storyline, making you root for her the whole way through.
Author Roberson is making Greek myth accessible for a newer generation at the same time questioning the way we value celebrity; she has written something decidedly clever and unique. Her writing is provocative without being too obvious, fand it's both funny and intelligent.
Purists may have a hard time with a book like this but it's hard not to get caught up in the idea of it. If you liked the Hunger Games, like Greek myths and can see the funny side of celebrity culture, give this is a go.
EMILY ROBERSON is the author of LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2019). She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Emily has been a bookseller in Little Rock, a newspaper reporter in Vicksburg, a marketing manager in Boston, and a writer in Chapel Hill and Dallas. She graduated from Brown University and has a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three sons and no pets.
You can find her on the web on instagram @robersonemilym and on twitter @RobersonEmily.
Sign up for Emily's newsletter here if you would like book news and other updates.
Image by: Laura Kellerman photography
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest| Goodreads
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
3 winners will receive finished copies of LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS, US only.
*Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for this blog tour!
Scarlet. Mustard. Green. Peacock. Plum. Orchid.
One storm will change their lives forever…if they survive the night.
When a killer storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students are left stranded at the aristocratic mansion on campus. House later, his lifeless body is discovered in a pool of blood.
Based on the classic board game CLUE, IN THE HALL WITH THE KNIFE kicks off a trilogy of young adult mysteries in which nothing is what it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder.
The Game is On. No One is Safe.
I am going to hazard a guess and bet that a whole load of readers of this will pick it up out of nostalgia for either the cult classic 1985 film 'Clue' or because they enjoyed the Hasbro board game of the same name that the excellent movie was based on.
Or both, which is why I had to read it!
This is a modern reimagining of the board game 'Clue' (and when it's brought 'to life' in this way, it takes on the story form like the movie); set in an elite prep school in the woods of Maine called Blackbrook Academy. The characters are all there: Scarlet, Mustard, White, Green, Plum, Peacock, Orchid, and yes, Mr. Boddy. They all become stuck in this grand mansion of a school out on the tip of a rocky peninsula in the middle of what seems to be the storm of the decade, with no power, no way in or out, and then there's a murder.
The characters all have secrets, and a lot of them neatly fit stereotypes (rather like the original movie, I suppose, which may grate on some nerves and irritate some readers, but is actually wonderfully campy in the film). If you don't have the movie to constantly compare to (even with the board game as background), the book actually simply works well as a YA fun murder-mystery read: everyone is a suspect, they all seem to have a motive, but it doesn't get too heavy or scary. This is actually much like the vibe of the film; mystery LITE.
I would be interested in hearing what people think who have only played the board game, and from those who have not played the game but seen the film; I may have seen the film so many times that I constantly had images of Tim Curry scurrying around a mansion in a butler outfit (he was just SO PERFECT). I do think that Diana Peterfreund has paid great homage to the general 'Clue' board game franchise, and it will bring back some warm fuzzy feelings for fans (unless you expect the characters to be carbon copies of the movie versions, as well as the storyline).
It took a little while for me to get fully invested in the story, and much like the film, the 'big event' happens quite the way into the book. The chapters are named after the different characters as they reveal more about each one and follow them through the story. That took a while to get used to (it is used SO much) but I found it useful in separating their story arcs.
It's always a huge gamble to write a movie based on a book, so is it just as much of a gamble to write a book based on a movie? I'm not sure. This may be removed enough from the original film (or game) that it will find a different audience anyway. And maybe people will go out and play the board game again??! Who knows.
This will be released 10.8.19 on Amulet Books (Abrams) and there are plans for a series of Clue mysteries (at least 2 more books).
You can find all the links to GET A COPY HERE!
*I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program. Thank you!
Ultimately this was a pretty confusing read, and that’s not good when it comes to middle-grade reading, as the basic storyline should be easy to follow. The story even started as though a chapter was missing.
Given that the famed author R.L. Stine is adept at stringing a yarn or two together, I kept thinking it was going to become crystal clear. I enjoyed the illustrations and some of the concepts involved but if the Scare School is going work in graphic novel form, the storylines have got to be WAY clearer than this.
This meticulously drawn graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer as a high schooler is a haunting portrait of a disturbed individual in his formative years and it depicts how the environment that he grew up in helped create one of the most notorious serial killers in recent memory.
The author-artist is fellow Dahmer classmate Derf Backderf, who proves how hindsight can be 20/20, recognizing all the disturbing behaviors and situations upon reflection, and after Dahmer's ghastly murders were committed. Derf has pieced together the timeline for the graphic novel with help from Dahmer's father's novel and other records, used recollections from other classmates, and paints a picture of Dahmer that is both shocking and in many ways sympathetic.
If there was ever a playbook for creating or spotting a serial killer Derf shows how Dahmer 'checks all the boxes': a disturbed mind and untreated mental illness, teenage alcoholism, isolated in a small town in an era when school had few rules, dysfunction at home where parents go through a nasty divorce, mother has her own mental health problems, dad is oblivious to his son's issues, Dahmer doesn't fit in at school and is bullied by some of his peers, repressed sexual urges and closeted homosexuality, interest in dead animals and roadkill, collection of animal carcasses, his apathy and lack of emotion. So many warning signs. So little done to step in.
Derf asks at one point 'Where were all the adults?' but he also recognizes that this was a different decade, a different era, and remarks that even his teachers would comment on rolling their own joints, and obviously turned a blind eye to a drunk Dahmer every day. There's also a point where, after Dahmer's first murder, thanks to shoddy police work, he SHOULD have been caught. Today, we have our eyes open to all sorts of new concerns, and schools have zero tolerance for any substance use and keep an eye out for mental health problems and bullying.
This is a tragic tale, but I appreciate that Derf told it the way he did (even with the adolescent ignorance involved) and that the movie adaptation happened. May another horrific set of crimes, or such a troubled individual, never come out of a similar circumstance again.
As with everything that Blake Crouch writes, ‘Summer Frost’ is absolutely mind-blowing and is based on a terrifying concept. Set in a future where artificial intelligence becomes so powerful that it threatens humanity, this novella secures my opinion that Crouch is THE master of science fiction. He has a way of reminding the reader that existence is finite and he always poses huge life questions.
I usually complain that I race through his books after waiting for them for so long; this time my complaint is that this is way too short! That said, I WILL be reading the rest of the Amazon Forward Collection on Prime.
I think this may be your best yet, Ruth Ware!
‘The Turn of The Key’ ticks off all the boxes necessary to make this the perfect mystery: a protagonist who may well be going to prison for murder, an old house in Scotland that seems to be haunted but is also a marvel to be in, one that has a history of deaths and local stories swirling around it, plus a family with a strange set of circumstances. The characters and the setting are all pieces of this fantastic puzzle and they are craftily put together seamlessly.
Ruth is such a skilled writer of suspense and mystery, that I feel as though I am just moved along with the story in such a vivid way, but it’s also so very natural, and I never feel like I have to jump one step further to try and guess ‘whodunnit.’ I always feel like I’m right there with the main character (Rowan) because the pacing is so brilliant. And yet again, the final twists completely managed to blow my mind.
Every single page had me fully imagining myself in Carn Bridge, Scotland, where the story takes place, and I absolutely didn’t want it to end. Waiting for each new Ruth Ware novel just gets harder and harder, I swear.
This is an extraordinary book.
It’s a sobering, sometimes difficult read, eye-opening, and enlightening. I had to put it down on many occasions, being constantly reminded of how Obama’s presidency has been followed by Trump’s is depressing enough, but the central focus is on challenging the American racism (and how the current toxic presidency has exposed this malignant state). Coates openly wrestles with his own changing views on the first Black Presidency, and demonstrates how deeply engrained systemic and societal racism infects everything in this country, Obama or no Obama.
‘We Had Eight Years in Power’ is practically required reading.
‘I’m Not Dying With You Tonight’ is a powerful, quick read destined for lots of conversation and many classrooms and library bookshelves.
Following two young girls, thrown together by a high school football game that deteriorates into chaos and a night of city rioting, this YA novel addresses issues of race and class and reflects the fragile state of the domestic climate right now.
Lena, a popular black student, and Campbell, a white teen new to town, who knows no one and is unsure of herself, live in the same world, but seemingly come from different worlds. The book is set over one single night, really over several hours, and that’s what it took me to read this captivating book.
Over those few hours, they rely on each other to survive unimaginable circumstances, facing down riot police, looters, vagrants, and gunfire. The perspective shifts back and forth between the two characters throughout and the chapters are short, keeping the action moving quickly and the pace fast.
While it may seem as though there's no time to dig deeper into the enormous issues that come up in this book, all revolving around the race relations canon, debut authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal have written a relatable novel that can serve as a great jumping-off point for conversation.
When Lena and Campbell have awkward moments that remind them of their (often ill-conceived) preconceptions and assumptions of each other, the subtext taps into the dialogue we are having as a country and also serves to point out how easy and necessary it is for all the walls to come down. The two girls end up being emblematic of how we work through things better when we work together.
I expect that others reading this will recognize how it reflects the racial divide in this country (and some shocking recent current events), yet feel the hope that I felt when I read it. I honestly raced through this, it placed me right in the action myself; it's a poignant read for teens or anyone who needs to have a quick reexamination of their thinking about how we are all judging each other.