ARC Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate ScelsaAuthor:  Kate Scelsa
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 8, 2015
368 pages, hardcover (356 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Shout out to the wonderful Little Shop of Stories for letting me take this ARC! Check them out if you’re ever in Decatur, GA!

I feel like the black sheep on this one. I was somewhat disappointed in Fans of the Impossible Life. I read it, yes, but I just feel kind of meh about it, I guess. I think one of the main issues I had was that it is really not at all about what you think it’s about. The very first line of the description made it out to be a bisexual love triangle between the three main characters (“This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them”). It is not that. At all. It had some things I liked and that you don’t usually see in YA books, like the the switching of the different tenses for each point of view: Jeremy (1st person), Mira (3rd person), Sebby (2nd person).

However, there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way: mental illness was somewhat romanticized, there was some lack of consent, and several destructive relationships and friendships. Also, for a story SO about mental health issues, they aren’t really ever addressed. They’re more brought up in a “Oh, I have this issue. I’m so damaged. We can bond over this.” kind of way, but that’s it. It was strange.

I felt like nothing in the end was resolved. The characters pretty much felt the same (or worse) than they did in the beginning, and no one really grew or changed. It almost felt pointless, like why did I read this? I kind of want to do a reread at some point to see if I feel the same way later, because I did really like some of the characters (Sebby, especially) and the idea behind it. I’m not sure though.

The bottom line: I really don’t know how I feel about this one.

meh (1)

Local MS author Interview: Russell Scott (The Hard Times) & Giveaway

Today I’m excited to be hosting Russell Scott, author of THE HARD TIMES and local Mississippi resident, on the blog for an interview and a giveaway! Check out the interview and let Russell tell you a little more about himself, his book, and his road to publication. After you read the interview, be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY (yay giveaway!) to win a copy of THE HARD TIMES. Also, don’t forget to check out the book on Goodreads and see what it’s all about!

——————————————

Describe yourself in 6 words. Physician, husband, father, scientist, writer, artist. In that order.

Describe your book in 6 words. Fundamental truths on love and life.

Tell us about your day job. Does it influence your writing or writing process? Of course it does being a radiation oncologist means that I spend my days with patients facing one of the most challenging metamorphosis in life, dealing with one’s own mortality.  The facing of death is a solemn business, so we try to laugh as much as possible, a big part of my job is to share the doubts and still see the beauty in life.

How did your own personal experiences inspire The Hard Times?  The book is basically a bunch of things that happened in my life, distorted and reframed, and hung on the scaffolding on a diamond smuggling scheme in Namibia.  I’ve hunted in Namibia and deployed in Africa when I was in the Navy, so those things are very directly related.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?  Well, it started out with screen writing, I wrote Time Donors as a screenplay ten years ago, we got offered four million dollars to make it into a movie, but first we had to make a smaller movie to prove we could do it, so we wrote and filmed the feature film “Teary Sockets”.  While we were filming that I got hired by the Williams Brothers to write the screenplay story of their family’s life, “Still Standing Tall”, for a project that they were talking to Tyler Perry about, so they needed it yesterday.  We finished filming “Teary Sockets” and I went straight to work on “Still Standing Tall”.  By the time I got done with those two projects the banking crisis had sit and the hedge fund that originally had offered to back us was gone, so I converted “Time Donors” to the book “Time Donors Wanted”.  I thought e books were the future of book sales so I started an e book publishing entity IsoLibris, and put out “Time Donors Wanted”.  My friend Luke Lampton, who owned Magnolia Gazette Publishing which had been in continuous operation since 1872 thought we should do a literary press and start a literary journal as a new united Press China Grove Press, so we did, we’ve done 4 issues of the journal China Grove as editors, with very good success, and continued to publish books, one of which was a collection of the columns I had written for 5-6 years in the JOURNAL of the Mississippi State Medical Association, we named it for the column and that was “The Uncommon Thread” by R. Scott Anderson MD.  This book The Hard Times was actually written five years ago, it just took until now to feel that I had the time to put it out and to get it into proper shape to be a good book. So here it is by China Grove Press.

Not only do you bring in your real life military experiences into the novel, but you also bring in other elements from the diamond trade. Tell us about that – your research process, the different elements you bring in, etc. The factual research was just grinding away, the whole firs inkling of a plot came from a National Geographic article on Artisanal Diamond Mining in Zimbabwe that led to digging into the elements of the Kimberly Process, it’s enforcement, and declassified CIA intelligence reports about the times I was interested in.  Then you get a needle and sew all that together into a novel.

Has living in Mississippi influenced your writing in any way?  Only in that it puts a lot of pressure on you to write well, we don’t tolerate crappy writers in Mississippi.

Which writers inspire you? I was a Faulkner fanatic when I was at Alabama, we had a crazy professor there then named Barry Hannah, he was a writer to know.  I fell in love with Ellen Gilchrist and her writing when I read her first book, “In the Land of Dreamy Dreams”.  I’ve interviewed her, and Winston Groom, the author of Forrest Gump.  Spent some time with Greg Iles talking about writing, have had several conversations with Pat Conroy, Tess Gerritsen, and Michael Palmer, they’ve all given me something that is a part of the way I write.

What’s been your best experience as an author so far?  Developing in this community of writers that I have been privileged to meet and know, that’s really why we bother to do China Grove, the literary journal in the first place to create a community of writing where every level is welcome, from legends to newcomers.

I ask this of everyone – what’s your favorite book?  I guess I have to say, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, I love the book and find the circumstances of it’s publication touching. Toole’s suicide, his mother’s dedication, and Walker Percy taking on the role of editor and champion…all in all, a tale in itself.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about you or your book?  This book is just a good story about diamond smuggling on the surface, but it is also an offering of an insight into the way men love, and some of the fundamental truths in life as told by an author that works in the face of death every day…the last line may be the most basic truth of life you ever read.

Thanks for letting me jabber on, Scott

——————————————

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Hard Times by Russell ScottThe Hard Times is, first and foremost, a novel about how men love. It focuses not on simple lust nor affection, but the complex web of expectations, loyalty, duty, and desire that define the society of men, how they love women, how they love their families, and how they bind themselves to one another in friendship and in war.

Taken from the news, declassified CIA documents, and the author’s personal experiences in Africa and Namibia, it is a fictional story superimposed on what’s actually happening in the diamond trade, today, where international politics and industry, play a strange game of hide and seek with illegal stones.

It begins in Mississippi. Ray Moffett is an ER doc, and Ray is facing an abyss. When his best friend and former boss comes into the ER dead, just six weeks after his retirement party, Ray finds himself searching for meaning in his own life. All Ray has left is his work.  Work, punctuated only by the occasional round of golf.  That’s all he can see stretching between him and his own trip to the grave if something doesn’t change.

A chance meeting with an African hunting guide, Fritz Dietrich, shows Ray a second chance to live the adventures he’d dreamed of as a boy.  Dreams that were fueled by books written by men like Hemmingway, Ruark, and Capstick. Unfortunately, Fritz isn’t exactly what he seems.

Ray finds himself hunting desert oryx in the Namib with Fritz, both men trapped. Fritz must kill Ray and use his papers to smuggle illegal diamonds.  For Ray to get home alive, he’s going to have to kill Fritz and then, somehow find his way out of the most hostile desert on the face of the earth.

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AuthorPhoto_RussellScott1RUSSELL SCOTT ANDERSON, M.D. is a radiation oncologist who serves as the medical director of Anderson Cancer Center in Meridian, Miss. He is a former Navy diver who worked in operations in the Middle East, Central America, and in support of the Navy’s EOD community, SEALS, the U.S. Army’s Green Berets, the Secret Service, and the New York Police Department at various times during his time in the service.

The father of seven has written the family oriented literary columns Una Voce and The Uncommon Thread in the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He has also served the Journal as the chairman of the editorial advisory board. A collection of his columns was published as The Uncommon Thread in 2012. He has also written as screenwriter R.S. Anderson on several feature films, he is the author of the novels Timedonors Wanted and The Hard Times under the pseudonym Russell Scott, and is the editor of the literary journal China Grove.

THE GIVEAWAY

Click on the photo below to be taken to Rafflecopter and enter the giveaway. It will run from November 5 – December 4 at midnight. US only. One winner will receive a copy of The Hard Times by Russell Scott.

Giveaway Enter

Waiting on Wednesday: Denton Little’s Birthdate by Lance Rubin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Denton Little's Birthdate by Lance RubinPublisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Author: Lance Rubin

Release date: April 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads (THIS ONE CONTAINS SPOILERS – THOUGH OBVIOUS – FOR DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE):

You only live once—unless you’re Denton Little!

The good news: Denton Little has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die any time. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought…

Lance Rubin’s debut novel, Denton Little’s Deathdate, showed readers just how funny and poignant imminent death could be. Now in this sequel, he takes on the big questions about life. How do we cope, knowing we could die at any time? Would you save someone from dying even if they were a horrible person? Is it wrong to kiss the girl your best friend is crushing on if she’s really into you instead? What if she’s wearing bacon lip gloss?

Why I’m excited: I know this is REALLY far in advance of this book’s release date, but I wanted to talk to you guys about it. I really enjoyed Lance Rubin’s debut Denton Little’s Deathdate, the book that comes before this one. When I found out Lance was writing a sequel, I was SO PUMPED. And I still am. I can’t wait for more hilarious, ridiculous, wonderful shenanigans with Denton and his friends. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Denton next.

Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel (because when you love a debut you just are ITCHING to get your hands on the author’s second book) or Top Ten Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author’s Debut (no one hit wonders heeeere!)

This was one of the easiest Top Ten Tuesdays in a while. I doubt many of you will be surprised by anyone on my list. I’m very vocal about my favorites. All author names linked to Twitter.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli    Mosquitoland by David Arnold    My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga    More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

THE BECKMINDAVERA – Becky Albertalli  // David Arnold // Jasmine Warga // Adam Silvera

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh     Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon     The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Renee Ahdieh // Nicola Yoon // Stephanie Oakes

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio     Made You Up by Francesca Zappia     The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I.W. Gregorio // Francesca Zappia // Stephen Chbosky

Which debuts have you excited for their sophomore novel?

ARC Review: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

Author:  Marie Marquardt
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
352 pages, hardcover (328 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher as Marie was on one of the panels I moderated at the Decatur Book Festival. This does not influence my review.

Dream Things True is essentially a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet but the boy is a white, upper-middle-class son of a senator and the girl is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. In terms of the characters, I really appreciated how flawed everyone was, because it felt real and relatable, even though my life falls nowhere near either of these characters.

I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised when I say one of my main issues was the relationship – because it developed WAY too quickly. There was a bit of instalove instalust almost right away, and it made me pretty uncomfortable. I think this took the focus away from the actual issues in the book and I would’ve appreciated a little less of the Romeo and Juliet inspiration here. I think the book could’ve benefited a lot had the (somewhat forced) relationship not driven the plot so much.

My favorite character is hands-down Whit. He was witty and smart, open-minded and oh-so-flawed, but that’s why I loved him. He was real. He stood up for what he believed in, and although he did some terrible things, he acknowledged what he’d done and worked towards fixing it. I also appreciated Alma a lot; she was honest and young and felt very realistic to me. I honestly probably could have done without Evan’s perspective though.

I appreciated the end of this one as well. Marie obviously knows what she’s talking about, and I think she did a great job of properly representing the tediousness of immigration and race and the issues surrounding it. I really respect the fact that Marie just presented the story as is – this is what happens and this is how our society is. I do feel like we could’ve gone a little bit deeper into some of the issues, however.

The bottom line: Dream Things True is a realistic, complex, dramatic, engaging story of immigration and young love. I had some issues with it, but I enjoyed it overall, and I would recommend it to fans of romantic tragedies.

 Rating: 6.5

S.F.D. Mission: Open Letter to Tara Sim, author of TIMEKEEPER

Hi, there! Welcome to my next mission for the S.F.D. In case you missed my first post about what that is, check it out here. Basically, we’re a team of debut author supporters started by Talina from Sassy & Dangerous, who’ll be going on a series of missions to help promote some seriously amazing authors. A couple of weeks ago, our mission was to write a letter to a debut author. I had the lovely Janet B. Taylor, and I loved writing a letter to her. Today, I’m excited to be writing a letter to Tara Sim, debut author of Timekeeper, which comes out fall 2016!

——————————–

Tara Sim

Dear Tara,

I’m just going to put this out there – I will make you samosas if we can fast forward time to when your book comes out. I know you’ve got the magic powers. Please?

It doesn’t work like that? Okay, FINE. But, like, I don’t know if I can wait. Your book sounds freaking amazing. I mean, you’ve got:

Boys ✓
Magic ✓
Clock spirits ✓
London ✓
BOYS ✓ ✓

I think I’m most drawn to the fact that you’ve tweaked history for your own story. I’ll admit, I’m kind of iffy about historical fiction. EXCEPT when something’s been introduced (like magic) that changes history and makes it something new. So I’m really excited to read about a Victorian London in which “women can work as car mechanics or *gasp* wear trousers” like you said in your interview with Team Rogue YA.

Also, Danny, who you’ve described as “an awkward, anxious, stubborn creature” sounds wonderful, as does Colton – plus, if they look like the pictures you’ve pinned on Pinterest…SWOON. I can’t wait to read about their love story.

My favorite thing I’ve read that you’ve written about the book was from that same interview I linked to above. When asked who you hoped picked this book up, you said:

I hope this book finds its way to people who feel lonely, who may have lost someone dear to them, who have given up hope on something, who feel lost in life, or just want to see more diversity in fantasy stories.

Your book sounds beautiful and different and lovely and diverse, and I really need us to skip ahead a bit so I can read it already. Still no? Dang. I tried.

Love,
Stefani
Wishing for the power to travel in time

——————————–

Want to know more about Tara’s book? If your answer is no, go away.

ABOUT THE BOOK

No cover - S.F.D.Publisher: Sky Pony Press // Publication date: 2016

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf!

Every city in the world is run by a clock tower. If one breaks, time stops. It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old Danny knows well; his father has been trapped in a town east of London for three years. Despite being a clock mechanic prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but time itself, Danny has been unable to free his father.

Danny’s assigned to a damaged clock tower in the small town of Enfield. The boy he mistakes for his apprentice is odd, but that’s to be expected when he’s the clock spirit who controls Enfield’s time. Although Danny and the spirit are drawn to each other’s loneliness, falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, no matter how cute his smiles are.

But when someone plants bombs in nearby towers, cities are in danger of becoming trapped in time—and Enfield is one of them.

Danny must discover who’s stopping time and prevent it from happening to Enfield, or else he’ll lose not only his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

ABOUT TARA

Tara SimTara Sim is a YA author found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not writing about magic, clocks, and boys, she drinks tea, wrangles cats, and sings opera.

Tara grew up in California, but braved the elements of Virginia to study English/Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Half-Indian, half-American, and full geek, she eats too many samosas and awkwardly dances to Bhangra music.

TIMEKEEPER (Sky Pony Press, Fall ’16) is her debut YA novel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram

——————————–

Check out the full S.F.D. team and head to their blogs to see who they wrote a letter to!

Talina, our fearless leader // Emily // Heather // Eileen // Karina // Deanna
Claudia // Kaitlin // Jasmine // Angel // Bex // Melissa // Kaitlin S. // Aila // Jess // Jaime
Lauren // Lizzie // Erin // Aimee

Cold Weather Happiness #2 – the Harry Potter soundtracks

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

My favorite songs from the Harry Potter soundtracks

I don’t know about you guys, but when ABC Family starts playing the Harry Potter movies pretty much every single day, I watch them pretty much every single day. I LOVE these movies, just like I love the books. I also tend to listen the soundtracks (which are AWESOME) more often during the fall. They are perfect fall weather/get work done to/pump you up songs, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Great Hall at HalloweenSource

Hedwig’s theme // this is the classic “Harry Potter song”. You’ll recognize it almost immediately, and it appears in every movie in one form or another.

Harry’s Wondrous World // a fantastical feeling song that really encapsulates what the first two books/movies felt like – magical. (This is also one of the songs you hear most often playing at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Potter Waltz // a fun, fast-paced song. The song where Harry tries to dance at the Yule Ball and…fails a bit.

Buckbeak’s Flight // a sweeping, lovely piece. The song that plays as Harry rides Buckbeak around the Hogwarts grounds in the third movie.

Professor Umbridge // kind of enchanting and a lot of fun. Very bouncy. Just ignore the fact that it’s about that horrible woman.

Double Trouble // do I even really need to explain this one? Taken from the incantation in Macbeth and put to music, this one is really wonderful.