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Friday, August 31, 2012

Try Out The Epic Reads Epic Firsts Facebook App!


The awesome people at Harper Collins and Epic Reads bring you the very fun Epic Firsts Facebook App!

Try out the app and share all your epic firsts: first kiss, first love, first journey and more fun firsts.


Review: The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year by Annameekee Hesik

TITLE: The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year
AUTHOR: Annameekee Hesik
PUB: Bold Strokes Books                             PUB DATE: 10/16/12
FORMAT: eARC                                              SOURCE: Netgalley

Abbey Brooks, Gila High freshman-to-be, never thought a hellish day of shopping at the mall with her best friend, Kate, could change her life. But when she orders French fries from the flirtatious Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, she gets more than deep-fried potatoes. Abbey tries to ignore the weird, happy feeling in her gut, but that proves to be as impossible as avoiding the very insistent (and—rumor has it—very lesbian) players on Gila High’s girls’ basketball team. They want freakishly long-legged Abbey to try out, and Abbey doesn’t hate the idea. But Kate made Abbey pinky swear to avoid basketball and to keep away from the you-know-who girls on the team.
Sometimes promises can’t be kept. And sometimes girls in uniform are impossible to resist.


THREE WORDS: Fresh, Fun, Flirty 

MY REVIEW: I'm always on the lookout for a great YA book with LGBT focused characters, so I was super excited to find Annameekee Hesik's The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year and even more excited to discover just how great this book is.

Abbey Brooks is about to start her freshman year at Gila High with her BFF Kate and they've made a pact to not try-out for basketball and stay away from the rumored lesbian b-ball players, aka the you know who girls. But Abbey has a secret. She just might be one of those you know who girls and she's seriously crushing on the cute, older Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, Keeta. When Abbey joins the JV basketball team and starts to hang out with those you know who girls, rumors fly about Abbey. And when Keeta returns Abbey's flirtations, even though Keeta has a girlfriend, things get even more complicated for confused Abbey. 

The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year offers readers a thought-provoking, entertaining and realistic story about heartache, first love, friendship and sexuality. This is a true bildungsroman and Hesik writes with an authentic, fresh voice that anybody who survived their teen years can relate to. This is a quick read and Abbey's often witty, heartbreaking and touching coming of age story had me easily engrossed from beginning to end. Hesik has crafted a smart, hip story without having to rely on trite characters or storylines. 

I really loved getting caught up in Abbey's complicated, drama filled and fun freshman year and thoroughly enjoyed her perspective. Abbey is such a complex, layered and well-developed character. There's a wonderful tangibility to Abbey; her emotions are so palpable and believable. From her first flustered encounter with the sexy Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, I knew I was going to like Abbey and her genuine, funny and oh so relatable awkward personality and I really, really did like her. 

Abbey's story, from her grief over her father's death to her issues with her BFF to her coming to terms with her confusing sexuality, is so incredibly well-developed and written. And although the focus on Abbey's sexuality is important, it doesn't define the whole book. At its essence, this isn't merely a story about a young girl defining her sexuality, it's simply a story about the intensity and fragility of first love and finding oneself during the complicated teen years. 

The are a myriad of other characters; some likable, some not so much. I do wish that some of the important supporting characters (Kate and Abbey's mom especially) were fleshed out and developed more. Abbey's first relationship is realistically messy, fun, steamy and heartaching, but I do wish a little less time was spent on this relationship and more time was spent on Abbey's fractured relationships with her mom and Kate. At times Abbey's mother comes across as slightly clueless or unaware and I wish the author would have included a scene where Abbey comes out to her mother.

Hesik wraps up Abbey's freshman year nicely but leaves plenty of room for more...and I would definitely love to read more!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year is a fun, thought-provoking story, with a captivating and engrossing MC and romance, from an author with a fresh and authentic voice. 

MY RATING

Connect with the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
Annameekee Hesik came out when she was fifteen and has since been obsessed with rainbows.  After successfully surviving high school in Tucson, AZ, she went to college for six years and changed her major five times. She earned her BA in English Lit from UC Davis and her MA in Education from UC Santa Cruz. She is thrilled she finally decided to become a high school English teacher (with a background in Anthropology, American Sign Language, World History, and Environmental Biology).  When she isn’t helping students learn to enjoy literature or dressing up as the Super Recycler or Grammar Police, she spends her time in Santa Cruz, CA, walking her dogs, napping in her hammock, riding bikes with her wife, slurping down mocha shakes, and writing books that she hopes will help lesbian and questioning teens feel like they’re not the only you-know-who girls in the world.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interview: MG Author Richard Due


I'm very excited to have the fantastic Richard Due here today for an interview. Richard is the author of the MG book The Moon Coin, the first in the Moon Realm Series.

So, let's get to know Richard and his book...

WS: What three words best describe THE MOON COIN?
RD- Tales never lie.

WS: In one sentence tell readers why they really MUST read your book?
RD- If you want to know what a Rinn or electrimal is, or the secret behind Ebb's bedtime tales, or want to meet a cursed sword that talks, then you MUST read The Moon Coin.

WS: Now, using as many sentences as you'd like, can you tell us a bit more about this series?
RD- One of the big themes running through the book is the difference between tales and stories. There's a quote I really like that I use on the dust jacket flap: "Tales, unlike stories, never lie. You see, a tale is an account of things in their due order, often divulged secretly, or as gossip. Would you like to hear one?" —Lord Autumn
The protagonists are Lily and Jasper Winter. They grew up listening to their uncle's bedtime tales about a place called the Moon Realm. The prologue introduces these three very important characters at a pivotal moment: the telling of the first tale, when Lily and Jasper are four and five years old and complete believers. Then it fast forwards; they're thirteen and fourteen, so they've long since decided the Moon Realm was pure fantasy. But their uncle goes missing, and they discover that the bedtimes tales weren't just . . . tales. That's where the book really begins, as they try to find their missing uncle. Armed with nothing more than memories—and the moon coin—they quickly realize their only hope is piecing together Uncle Ebb's shattered tales and uniting the fractured Moon Realm. The consequence being that, should they fail, they'll lose the moons they loved so much . . . all over again.

WS: Where did the idea or inspiration for this book and series come from?
RD- I was racking my brain one night, trying to tell my daughter a new bedtime tale. I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and kept stumbling into that wonderland between dreams and sleep. My daughter kept elbowing me: "Wake up, Daddy, you're not making any sense!" But I kept drifting off. And then, all in one jolt, I brought back with me The Moon Realm. About nine books worth.

WS: Who is your favorite character to write and explore in THE MOON COIN?
RD- Wow! That's a tough one. I'm currently typesetting Book 2, THE DRAGONDAIN, so I had to go back, look over the chapter names of The Moon Coin, and think very hard. (My favorite character to write thus far doesn't appear until book 2, The Dragondain.)

Hm. I get a real charge writing Curse, but I think I'm going to have to say Nimlinn Goldenclif, of the clan Broadpaw. Her mix of royal bearing (she's so darn proud) and spunk always makes for an exciting dynamic—she plays by her own rules.

WS: THE MOON COIN has beautiful illustrations done by Carolyn Arcabascio...did you give her free reign when it came to what scenes would be illustrated or did you have a clear idea of what you wanted depicted?
RD- Carolyn's narrative skills are top notch. But I'd be adding unnecessarily to her workload if I didn't give her jumping-off points. So for each book I give her up to three scene suggestions per chapter. Frankly, most chapters scream out to have a certain scene used. But to answer your question more clearly, yes: Carolyn has free reign to make any suggestion she wants.

WS: THE MOON COIN is filled with magical and wondrous creatures and beings...which one is your absolute favorite? What mythical being, that you haven't explored yet, would you love to write about?
RD- In THE MOON COIN, that would be the Rinn. As far as the series is concerned, I'm really looking forward to writing the Tinkers. The Tinkers are so good with mechanical devices that, to the other characters in the Moon Realm, the devices seem like magic.

WS: If you could switch lives with ANY literary character for a day, who would it be and what would you do as them?
RD-  Boy, that's a tough one. My very first thought was to be Sam Spade, and spend my day working on a case in 1930s San Francisco. But then I thought I'd be missing out on my big chance to be Puck, that "shrewd and knavish sprite" from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream! Then I thought, well . . . I might not want to be Puck for a whole day. Of course, if I were Prospero, from Shakespeare's Tempest, than I could spend the day reading in his library from the book of magic. And after my day was over I'd be a magician! (Btw, did you know that Prospero was based on the real-life Dr. Dee, the same Dr. Dee that appears in Michael Scott's wonderful The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series?) Being Severus Snape for a day would be exciting, but I'm not sure how well I'd handle all the sadness. Smaug, the red dragon from Tolkien's The Hobbit would be a blast (ooo, sorry about that), but then I'd have to eat lots of horses and dwarves. The horses probably wouldn't be so bad, but the dwarves would probably give me some indigestion (all that pesky mithril armor). Okay, okay, I know: this is getting long and we haven't gotten anywhere . . . hm. I would be d'Artagnan, the young musketeer of  Alexandre Dumas' romance novels. And I would want to live out the morning d'Artagnan—while not yet a musketeer—first offends, then challenges Aramis, Porthos, and Athos to duels scheduled for later that afternoon. It's a great scene. I won't spoil the end here: you should read the book.

WS: Fill in the blanks:
I'm really awesome at ordering cannoli at Italian restaurants for dessert: I NEVER miss.
I'm embarrassed to admit that: embarrassed?! Pa-leez! I can asure you, embarrassment and I have never met.
My favorite book as a teen was: hm . . . teen is a pretty big time-frame. How about I narrow it down and choose a single year. Let's say when I was 13, which would make my favorite book either Nine Princes in Amber, by Roger Zelazny or Dune, by Frank Herbert or The Three Musketeers, by Dumas. Either one of those or a bicycle repair manual. Take your pick.

WS: If you were to create/bake a THE MOON COIN cupcake, what would it look/taste like and what would you call it?
RD- It would look like the pendant that holds the moon coin. It would be lemon butter frosting on a spiced-orange cake. And, naturally, I'd call it a Moon Coin Cupcake.

Thank you so much for stopping by Richard!

Connect with Richard: Site / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Richard Due (pronounced “Dewey”) first imagined the Moon Realm while telling bedtime tales to his children. He makes his home in Southern Maryland, where he and his wife have owned and operated Second Looks Books since 1991. The Moon Coin is the first novel in the Moon Realm series. Visit TheMoonRealm.com for more information.



The Moon Coin

Tales, unlike stories, never lie. You see, a tale is an account of things in their due order, often divulged secretly, or as gossip. Would you like to hear one?—Lord Autumn
Uncle Ebb was so good at telling his tales of the Moon Realm that sometimes it
sounded like he’d been there himself.
As children, Lily and Jasper listened raptly to his bedtime tales of a place where nine
moons swirled around one another, each inhabited by strange and wondrous beings:
magical lunamancers; undersea merfolk; wise birds; winged dragons; and Lily’s
favorite, the heroic, leonine Rinn.
There was only one rule: don’t tell a soul.
But now, years later, Uncle Ebb is missing. Lily has learned the secret behind the
tales, and soon Jasper will too. But there’s one big problem. You see, something
terrible has happened in the Moon Realm. . . .

Purchase: Amazon / B&N / iTunes
Read the first six chapters
WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday (43): The Vengekeep Prophecies


"Waiting On" Wednesday...is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm excitedly waiting on....

“You can’t convict what you can’t confirm.” That’s the motto of 12-year-old Jaxter Grimjinx and his infamous family of thieves. And while Jaxter may not have his father’s burglary prowess, his mother’s forgery skills, or his little sister’s mastery of sleight-of-hand, his book-fed knowledge of non-magical solutions to magical problems makes him invaluable to the family’s heists. But the Grimjinxes may have pulled one con too many in their hometown, Vengekeep.  After swapping the prophetic tapestry used to guide Vengekeep’s actions for a fake concocted by Jaxter’s mother, the Grimjinxes are stunned when the false prophecies begin coming true, bringing destruction in their wake.
Suddenly, Vengekeep is besieged by “natural” disasters and rampaging monsters, courtesy of the secretly enchanted counterfeit tapestry.  With his family forced to stay and combat the impending doom, Jaxter must leave his hometown in search of a way to keep the increasingly dangerous prophecies from wiping Vengekeep off the map.

The Vengekeep Prophecies 
Brian Farrey
10/23/12
Harper Collins

I'm super excited for this MG book! I love the idea of a family of thieves working together; I mean how fun and exciting does that sound?! I really can't wait to meet Jaxter and join him on his adventures. Plus, this book releases on my birthday, which is awesome ;)

What are you waiting on this week?!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Authors Are Rockstars Tour: Michelle Hodkin

I'm SO excited to be a part of the Authors Are Rockstars Tour!
My rockstar author is the loverly Michelle Hodkin, author of the fantastic The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (read my review) and the soon to be released The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and she is stopping by today with a fab Top Tens List guest post.

But first, let's meet Michelle...

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Michelle Hodkin is the author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the first book in the Mara Dyer trilogy. She grew up in Florida, went to college in New York, and studied law in Michigan. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found prying strange objects from the jaws of one of her three pets. You can visit her online at michellehodkin.com
and find out why I think she's a total rockstar!

Michelle is a rockstar author because she wrote a book that...

has readers saying

how awesome, you ask readers?

an awesome book with a guy that makes readers


and an ending that leaves readers all

Yep, Michelle rocks my face off and bakes my cupcakes!!!

Now check out this fab Top Tens List guest post from the rockin' and awesome Michelle Hodkin that includes a few teaser sentences from book two...


Top Ten Favorite Quotes from 
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer
From The Unbecoming
1. “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something.” 
This sentence, the first sentence of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, is the backbone of the trilogy. It frames the entire narrative and does so many things with so few words: it cues the reader to ask who Mara Dyer is, why she has a lawyer, and why she needed a pseudonym to begin with. It’s probably my favorite quote from all three books.

2. “Watch your language.  It's unbecoming." 
This is another bit that does so much with so little. Spoken by Daniel at the beginning of The Unbecoming, it references Mara’s potty mouth and gives us a bit of insight into her lovable but seriously pretentious brother. And, clearly, it’s a play on words: not only is Mara’s language “unbecoming,” but the title, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, relates to her transition from what she was into something else (Gregory Maguire, in Wicked, wrote of Elphaba, “It's unbecoming…A perfect word for my new life. Unbecoming. I who have always been unbecoming am becoming un."). But there’s also another element, about the idea that using “foul” language is an “unbecoming” personality trait; in the larger context of what’s actually going on with Mara and the choices she makes, it sort of begs the question: are you really going to get huffy about her  language? Really? 

3. “Have you made any other friends since we've been here?" 
I gave him the death stare. "Yes, actually." 
"Who? I want a name." 
"Jamie Roth." 
"The Ebola kid? I heard he's a little unstable." 
"That was one incident.”
Jamie’s (bizarre) obsession with Ebola is my (bizarre) obsession with Ebola, and the incident Jamie describes on pages 41 and 42? The one that provoked Daniel to say what he says above on Page 244? That was me. I was in 8th grade. Whole thing was blown COMPLETELY out of proportion. 

4. “You're supposed to say, 'All I want is your happiness. I'll do whatever it takes, even if it means being without you.'" 
"Sorry," Noah said. "I'm just not that big of a person.”
This exchange captures the Mara/Noah dynamic pretty perfectly. Mara lampshades a romance cliché and then Noah rejects it. But in doing so, he still owns his bad behavior; he’s a teenage boy, after all, and he’s far from perfect (even if Mara doesn’t always see him that way, especially in The Unbecoming). One of my favorite things about writing this series is how the characters continually surprise each other, for better and worse.

5. “I twisted my arm to curl him behind me and he unfolded there, the two of us snuggled like quotation marks in his room full of words.”
This line is thought by Mara as she’s in Noah’s bed, in his bedroom, on her birthday. I don’t think of myself as being a particularly descriptive writer, but this sentence, written during a frenzied writing session, ended up being one of my favorites—it’s an unusually evocative image, for me. 

From The Evolution:
6. “Own yourself.” 
An allusion to a quote attributed to both Friedrich Nietzsche and Rudyard Kipling; “No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” I find that idea exceedingly interesting because it makes you wonder what price could be too high. Would it still worth it to make your own choices, and own them?

7. “I’ll walk forever with stories inside me that the people I love the most can never hear.” 
This speaks so much to the inner and outer conflicts that plague Mara, and to the changing relationship with her family. It’s a powerful thought and has ramifications later, but she doesn’t quite realize how much of an impact this really has on her at the moment she thinks it. 

8. “Get a meadow.” 
My beloved Twilight reference! The self-awareness of the characters in this series is quite possibly my most favorite thing about it. Getting to go meta and to lampshade clichés (See, e.g. Jamie’s line in The Unbecoming, “[Y]ou’re not going to listen to your token black Jewish bi friend, are you?”) is probably the most fun I’ll ever have writing, period. I’m hesitant to say who says this quote, but I will say that it’s directed at Noah and Mara. 

9. Mara: “We’re only seventeen.” 
Noah: “Fuck seventeen.”
This exchange happens at a highly charged moment in what is possibly my favorite scene in the entire book. There’s a stark juxtaposition between the coarseness of the word “fuck” and the content of their conversation—and Noah’s critical words that follow it. I wish I could say what those words are, but I would hate myself if I spoiled this scene for anyone else.

10. “Her sound is a siren’s song, calling me to the rocks.” 
So, In The Evolution, readers will get a glimpse of Noah’s point of view. Surprise! This line is evocative of both Noah’s (really different) voice, and also the changing dynamic between his character and Mara’s. It’s my favorite line of his, I think. 

And there you have it—thank you so much for having me! 


Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.
She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.
She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.
In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

TITLE: Every Day                               AUTHOR: David Levithan
PUB DATE: 8/28/12                        PUB: Random House
FORMAT: pb ARC                             SOURCE: from pub
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. 
Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

THREE WORDS: Read. This. Book...NOW!!!

MY REVIEW: Sometimes you read a book that has you casually telling others "Oh, this is a great book. You should definitely check it out when you have a chance". Then every once in awhile you come across a book that has you telling others that they "Must read this awesometastic book!". And then there are those very rare books that have you flailing in excitement, stuttering over words as you try to express just how amazing it is while you hold the book in someone's face and yell "OMG! This book is so incredible, it's better than chocolate and bacon and chocolate covered bacon. You have to read it! Here, borrow my copy and read it now while I sit and watch you inhale the awesomeness!!!"....yeah, this is one of those books *flails*

Every day A wakes up in a new body, a new life. A has no control over whose body will be next, but they are always the same age as A (sixteen) and live in close proximity of the last body. This is the only way of life A has ever known and A has certain rules to live by: don't interfere, don't get attached, try not to get noticed. But then A wakes up as Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend Rhiannon and suddenly A is breaking all the rules to get closer to her. 

Every Day has a daring and ambitious premise that has been masterfully executed by author David Levithan. I devoured this stunning book in one sitting, simply  unable to let it go, and after several days A's story has yet to let go of me. This is one of those books that will leave you moved, thoughtful, dazzled, in desperate need to talk about it, but won't really leave you at all.

Perfectly paced and with a pitch-perfect and captivating voice, this story is beyond gripping and had me fully engrossed from beginning to end. Levithan is a fantastic and spectacular storyteller who has weaved an unique, enthralling story with an unforgettable MC and a romance that took my breath away. I love the intriguing nature of the whole premise; a premise that could have easily fell flat and fell a part in the hands of a less talented writer. But, Levithan's execution, world-building and character development is so superb and complete.

There's a simple, quiet beauty to A's story that I felt with evey piece of me. Every emotion is tangible, every action has a purpose, every thought and word feels authentic. With just a few words, Levithan is able to express such pain, love, joy, surprise, etc and in a way that will pierce readers' hearts and minds. Even with no specific gender, race or physical body of their own, A is still such a complex and layered character. I haven't felt so attached and invested in a character this much in a long time. Rhiannon is also a fantastic and wonderfully crafted character. She's so relatable and believable with her flaws and reactions; I found myself really feeling for this girl. 

The romance and relationship between A and Rhiannon is breathtaking in its fragility, intensity and lovliness. I ached and rooted for these two and was so very moved by them. 

Then there are the other significant characters, the one's whose bodies A inhabits for a day. A wakes up in the body of a wide range of teens and is placed in various lives and situations. Levithan tackles a variety of issues (depression, drug use, peer pressure, body image, abuse, suicide, poverty, etc) and does so with sensitivity, believability, and in thought-provoking ways. One of things I was captivated by most was the fact that A has no gender and has fallen in love and been in relationships with both males and females, which makes such a beautiful statement about love.

There are a few twists and turns in the story that I didn't see coming and the book ends in a way that I found unexpected, yet exactly how I imagined (or hoped) it would end. And, as soon as I read the last page, I wanted to flip back to the first page and read it all over again!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: This book is soul-achingly bone-deep in the most exquisite way. Every Day has moved me beyond words with its brilliance and beauty and is easily among the top five books I've read this year. An absolute, definite MUST read...it really is better than chocolate covered bacon!


MY RATING

Connect with the author: Site / GoodreadsFacebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodie Basket (15): Weekly Book Haul and Recap


Goodie Basket...is a weekly feature hosted here at Word Spelunking that showcases all the goodies (books, bookish things, reviews, interviews/giveaways/guest posts, blog tours, etc) that popped up in the Goodie Basket that is Word Spelunking each week.

In my goodie basket this week...

ARCs x5  Don't Turn Around Michelle Gagnon
Harper Collins
Thanks to the awesome people at Harper Collins have 5 ARCs of this book to give away!
One is included in my 1 Year Blogoversary Giveaway and I'll be giving away the other four later this week.

The Song of Achilles Madeline Miller
Harper Collins/Ecco
sent from pub for review

Twelfth Realm Publishing 
sent from pub for review

EBOOKS FOR REVIEW

Aladdin
sent from pub for review via Edelweiss

eARC  Bad Unicorn Platte F. Clark
Aladdin
sent from pub for review via Edelweiss

eARC  2:32 am Emily Ford
JKS
sent from pub for review & blog tour via Netgalley

Big THANK YOU to Harper Collins, Twelfth Realm Publishing, Aladdin (Simon&Schuster) and JKS for all the bookish awesomeness!!!

Weekly Blog Recap
Blog Tours / Interviews / Giveaways
Reviews

What did you get this week?!

Friday, August 24, 2012

ARC Review: The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

TITLE: The Great Unexpected       AUTHOR: Sharon Creech
PUB: Harper Collins                          PUB DATE: 9/4/12
FORMAT: ARC, 240 pgs
SOURCE: from pub for review

I had big thoughts to match the big wind. I wondered if we find the people we need when we need them. I wondered if we attract our future by some sort of invisible force, or if we are drawn to it by a similar force. I felt I was turning a corner and that change was afoot.
In the little town of Blackbird Tree live two orphan girls: one Naomi Deane, brimming with curiosity, and her best friend, Lizzie Scatterding, who could talk the ears off a cornfield. Naomi has a knack for being around when trouble happens. For she knows all the peculiar people in town--like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins and Mr. Farley. But then, one day, a boy drops out of a tree. The strangely charming Finn boy. Then the Dingle Dangle man appears, asking all kinds of questions. Curious surprises are revealed--three locked trunks, a pair of rooks, a crooked bridge, and that boy. Soon Naomi and Lizzie find themselves zooming toward a future neither could ever have imagined. Meanwhile, on a grand estate across the ocean, an old lady whose heart has been deceived concocts a plan. . . .
As two very different worlds are woven together, Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech celebrates the gossamer thread that connects us all, and the great and unexpected gifts of love, friendship, and forgiveness.
THREE WORDS: Charming, Quirky, Unexpected

MY REVIEW: Sharon Creech's MG book The Great Unexpected is aptly titled. When I began this book I had no expectations, having never read the author's work before, and I never expected the surprisingly touching and charming story that I got. 

In Blackbird Tree two little orphan girls, Naomi and Lizzie, meet the handsome and mysterious Finn boy. These two girls are used to being around peculiar people, as their small town is full of them, but this Finn boy is a puzzle. While Naomi tries to figure Finn out, an old woman across the ocean in an estate in Ireland concocts a plan to heal a broken heart and make amends. Neither Naomi nor this woman realize how connected their stories and lives are, but with the help of three locked trunks, a pair of rooks, that Finn boy and the odd Dingle Dangle man, Naomi, Lizzie and the old woman find out that there's a thread that connects everyone's story together.

The Great Unexpected is one of the oddest (in the best way possible), most quirky and whimsically charming MG stories I've ever read. Creech has crafted a truly unique and moving story full of enchanting characters and a lot of heart.

At 240 pages this is a shorter read, but the story lacks nothing.  The story had me completely engrossed from beginning to end and I finished the book in one sitting. The chapters alternate between Naomi's perspective in Blackbird Tree and the third person perspective in Ireland, and I did find this switch a bit jarring and confusing at first. But the narration quickly finds its flow and for the most part I found the story to be nicely paced. The tone and voice Creech has created and written is pitch perfect, authentic and captivating.

This is a very character driven story and the characters are wonderfully engaging, likable and well-developed. Naomi feels like an old soul with her wise beyond her years attitude, dry wit and rational logic, but she also has a very compelling and layered vulnerable side.  Lizzie is genuinely and endearingly sweet as sugar, refreshingly innocent and too amusing with her non-stop chatter and dramatics. I just love the dynamic and friendship between these two; they're very different, but their friendship just makes perfect sense. And Naomi's dry wit and rationality and Lizzie's wide-eyed innocence and over-the-top mannerisms make for very funny and entertaining dialogue and scenes.

While across the ocean, Mrs. Kavanagh and Pilpenny make for another odd, but endearing pair. Like Naomi and Lizzie, these two older women have a friendship that works despite their differences, and like Naomi and Lizzie, this older pair are highly amusing. And in Blackbird Tree Naomi and Lizzie interact with quirky characters like Crazy Cora and Witch Wiggins. And of course that mysterious Finn boy is a charmer and incredibly intriguing!

The story itself is full of mystery, romance and thought-provoking real-world situations. The exact time period is not given, but the story feels both incredibly modern and beautifully timeless. The mystery surrounding the past and futures of Naomi, Lizzie, Mrs. Kavanagh, Pilpenny, Naomi's guardian, and many of Blackbird Tree's residents, and how they are all connected, is wonderfully crafted and a lot of fun. One must suspend a certain level of disbelief to fully accept how everything in this story plays out, but overall the story was just too easy to love for me to care.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The Great Unexpected was definitely and pleasently full of the unexpected. A wonderfully unusual and delightful story full of engaging characters, a deliciously quirky story and lovely writing, make this is a fantastic MG read!


MY RATING

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Sharon Creech is the author of the Newbery Medal winnerWalk Two Moons and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. Her other work includes the novels The Unfinished AngelHate That CatThe Castle CoronaReplay,HeartbeatGranny Torrelli Makes SoupRuby HollerLove That DogBloomabilityAbsolutely Normal ChaosChasing Redbird, and Pleasing the Ghost, as well as three picture books: A Fine, Fine SchoolFishing in the Air; and Who's That Baby? Ms. Creech and her husband live in upstate New York.