quotes Elisquared likes


"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green

6.12.2017

BLOG TOUR --- One of Us is Lying by [Review + Giveaway]




Title: One of Us is Lying
Author(s): Karen M. McManus
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook 368 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble - The Book Depository - iBooks - Audible












Tour Schedule



Week One:
5/29/2017 - YA Books Central - Interview
5/30/2017 - YA Book Madness - Review
5/31/2017 - Novel Novice - Guest Post
6/1/2017 - Literary Meanderings - Review
6/2/2017 - BookHounds YA - Interview

Week Two:
6/5/2017 - Storybook Slayers - Review
6/6/2017 - Book Princess Reviews - Review
6/7/2017 - The Cover Contessa - Interview
6/8/2017 - Book Briefs - Review
6/9/2017 - Pretty Deadly Reviews - Guest Post

Week Three:

6/12/2017 - Eli to the nth - Review (Me!)
6/13/2017 - YA and Wine - Interview
6/14/2017 - Smada's Book Smack - Review
6/15/2017 - The O.W.L. - Guest Post
6/16/2017 - Zach's YA Reviews - Review


The Summary


The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.


On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.


Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.


Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.


Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.


Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.


And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High s notorious gossip app.


Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?


Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
My Opinion

I am not a big fan of mysteries or thrillers, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started reading One of Us is Lying.  But from page one I was hooked.  

The voices of all the main narrators, Bronwyn (the Brain), Addy (the Beauty), Nate (the Criminal), and Cooper (the Athlete), are a genuine and authentic portrayal of teenagers.  And just as real teenagers are not 100% what people see them to be, none of these characters are the stereotypes readers will expect.  While this book has been compared to The Breakfast Club, I find that a lacking parallel, as there is no "fun" all-day detention party, but a serious police investigation that connects each character to the other.  Honestly, the only similarity is that there are characters who initially embody the high school stereotypes, but far supersede that box.  Even the minor characters feel fully rounded, and add in some way to the plot.  I applaud McManus's ability to craft realistic characters put in a situation that could seem very unbelievable without the grounding in reality.

Speaking of plot, I actually found this to really walk the edge of belief, in a way that shows a nuance of craft which sometimes lacks in other thriller novels (hence why I typically dislike them).  Without giving anything away, the situation these students find themselves in is very precarious, and what McManus does well is keep the readers guessing as to who's actually killed Simon and why.  The way the school officials handle the situation, the way the cops investigate, the way the families corral their wagons, all read as true, making the reader believe this horrible instance really can happen.

There were some instances of romance, but that never detracted from the true point of the book, which is to figure out who killer Simon.  But the small blooming of romance was needed to cut through the heavier subject matter.  One couple in particular, which you'll figure out, was very realistically done and I felt invested in them right away.  Additionally, there were some really great instances of love, both familial and friendly, that also add to the story and gave the characters real support within this serious situation.

The only real critiques I have is about the pacing and representation.  As far as the pacing, the resolution was a little crammed all in at the end.  I felt like the story could've been a little more rounded out at the very end.  But that hardly detracted from my overall enjoyment.  As far as representation, most of the principle cast was white, with the exception of Bronwyn, who is Latinx, which was disappointing.  The setting for the book is San Diego, which is a large, diverse city.  I wish the book reflected more of that diversity within it's characters.

I throughly enjoyed this book, so much that I may just give thrillers/mysteries a second chance.  An engaging, who-dun-it read, you'll want to pop One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus in your beach bag or in your carry-on this summer!

Final Rating

Extras

About the Author


As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I'm a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I've ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.


Giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of One of Us is Lying, US Only.

6.09.2017

Visual Inspiration - One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus


Pictures/Art/Photographs all help me see the books I'm reading.  Often, while I'm online, I stumble upon images that remind me of the book.  These visuals add layers to the stories, and can be used to offer hints to the plot.  So I've decided to put out "Visual Inspirations" in order to spark readers' interests in those books that I love.  Please feel free to join in; hopefully you'll get some new books to read in the process!


If you are obsessed with who-dun-it books, then this book is definitely for you! So without further ado, I give you inspiration this week from:




Five students go into a classroom, and only four come out alive.
There's the Princess, the Criminal, the Athlete, and the Brain.  
But really, who's to blame?


I typically don't read mystery/thrillers.  They rarely are my cup of tea, so I was super surprised when I was immediately sucked into One of Us is Lying.  The voice of each character under investigation, and learning about the tragedy and events leading up to it from all of them, really made the story rounded.  I never felt like one of the characters wasn't necessary to move the plot along.  I felt they were all authentic voices, and really showed something like this happening in a modern high school, with all the trials and tribulations involving that.

I think this would be a fantastic summer beach read, as you will devour it in one sitting.  With her debut novel being so fantastic, I can't wait to see what else Karen M. McManus has up her sleeve!

If you liked this, keep an eye out for more posts and check out my other Visual Inspirations!

6.02.2017

BLOG TOUR --- What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard [Excerpt + Giveaway]



I am so excited to bring you this excerpt from What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard before the book releases on June 6, 2017!  A book with heart, this is the story of a girl's fighting to recapture everything she lost.  I hope you like the excerpt, and don't forget to check out the other stops of the tour!
Title: What I Lost
Author(s): Alexandra Ballard
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, 304 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: June 6 2017
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble - Book Depository - iBooks














Tour Schedule



Week One:
5/29/2017 - YA and Wine - Interview
5/30/2017 - Take Me Away To A Great Read - Review
5/31/2017 - BookHounds YA - Guest Post
6/1/2017 - Here's to Happy Endings - Review
6/2/2017 - Eli to the nth - Excerpt (ME!)


Week Two:
6/5/2017 - Lisa Loves Literature - Review
6/6/2017 - YA Book Madness - Guest Post
6/7/2017 - The Cover Contessa - Interview
6/8/2017 - Book Briefs - Review
6/9/2017 - A Gingerly Review - Review


The Summary


What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again.She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size-zero obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

This eloquent debut novel rings with authenticity as it follows Elizabeth’s journey to taking an active role in her recovery, hoping to get back all that she lost.
Excerpt

     That night we went to Kelly’s Roast Beef, a local takeout place open late that was always crammed with rowdy kids stuffing their faces with shakes and sandwiches. I usually avoided it. Everything Kelly’s served was fried, or came from a cow, or was slathered with mayonnaise. I hadn’t eaten anything like that since the whole Target bikini incident.

     Normally, the idea of taking a bite of a roast beef sandwich or a sip of chocolate shake would send me into a massive panic. But that night, even though I’d already eaten my usual dinner—one banana, sliced in half lengthwise and cut again into twenty half-slices, which I ate from a toothpick, one half moon at a time—something was different.

     Here’s what I ate:
     1. One-third of a Junior Beef sandwich, no mayo or cheese
     2. Five fries, two dipped in ketchup
     3. Two small tastes of Charlie’s coffee shake
     4. Four sips of regular—not diet—Coke, because Charlie messed up when he ordered for
     me and I didn’t want him to feel bad.

     What was amazing was that when we were finished I didn’t even feel full. In fact, I felt better than I had in months. I’d expected that I’d at least get a stomachache from all those calories, but it was magic, like my entire body was saying, This is the guy for you. And the night just kept getting better. After dinner, Charlie drove me to the beach in front of his house. He played Bob Marley, “No Woman, No Cry,” a song that Katrina and I had decided made us want to hold hands with boys. And as the song was playing, like he’d read my mind, Charlie held my hand. When we got out of the car, the moon was bright and I could see his house stretching behind a thick wall of shrubs that bordered the beach. It looked even bigger in the moonlight. Houses like that cost millions.

     We’d just stepped onto the sand when he pulled me toward him and kissed me. His touch was soft and his mouth tasted like french fries. I only worried for a second about potential calorie transfers. When he pulled his salty lips away from mine, my body buzzed. When he pulled off his shirt and ran, whooping and hollering, into the dark, rolling ocean, I realized that I really liked him. And when he came back a minute later, shivering and dripping and with goose bumps on his skin, I realized that, amazingly, he might really like me, too. He kissed me again and everything in the world was perfect: the air, the night, the beach, even me.

About the Author

Alexandra Ballard has worked as a magazine editor, middle-school English teacher, freelance writer, and cake maker. She holds master's from both Columbia (journalism) and Fordham (education) and spent ten years in the classroom, beginning in the Bronx and ending up in the hills of California. Today she writes full time and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. What I Lost is Alexandra's first novel.






Giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of What I Lost.
US Only.


5.22.2017

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older [Review]

Title: Shadowshaper
Author(s): Daniel José Older
Edition: Audio, 7 hours 21 minutes/6 discs
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: November 1, 2015
Source: Library
Buy: Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Book Depository




Summary

Sierra Santiago planned to have an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a mysterious fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one -- and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for herself and generations to come.


Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper marks the YA debut of a brilliant new storyteller.


My Opinion



If you have been aching for a great supernatural book with kick-ass Latinx and Black characters, full of family, danger, and love, then look no further because Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older has it all!

The first thing, and maybe this was even more apparent because I was listening to the audiobook, was the voice within this book is amazing.  Each character is distinct, and while maybe not wholly explored, rounded in presentation.  Within the voice comes each character's heritage.  Both Latinx and Black culture is prevalent, with a multitude of different countries represented.  Sierra, Robbie, and their friends all come from different families, customs, and beliefs, and this is reflected in their speech, clothes, and attitude.  I felt like I was in their slice of Brooklyn, one which I've never experienced before.

Older also didn't hesitate to discuss the differences between minorities either.  While it wasn't an especially big part of the book, the prejudices that do exsit between White, Latinx, and Black cultures were mentioned.  While I am in no way an expert on this subject, it made the events of the story more believable because it is set in a real society rather than a perfect one.  Also Sierra's group of friends feels even tighter for overcoming those prejudices and assumptions that color everyone's perception.

So with that, this book would've been just a fantastic contemporary exploring the dynamics and relationships of the neighborhood, and Sierra's crew.  But of course, there was magic to be had, and BOOM it turns into Urban Fantasy!  Shadowshaping is very unique.  It reminds me of a religion, and feels very dogmatic and synced into the machismo that can exist in Latinx culture. By the time Sierra learns about shadowshaping and her place within that heritage, the magic is dying, and it is up to Sierra, a girl never meant to be a shadowshaper, to save it.  

The mix of art and magic is very powerful, not only in the book, but in life.  Most artists, be it writers, painters, or musicians, work from the soul.  Shadowshaping takes that to another level, actually harnessing the souls of one's ancestors into the artwork to make it come alive.  Also the aspect that the medium of the drawing makes the shaping more powerful is too cool (for instance, chalk is easily destroyed, while paint is stronger).  It's beautiful, and a gift I wish was real (cause I'd want to learn PRONTO)!

The pacing is fantastic, the mystery is not easily guessed, and the ending leaves you needing more!  Luckily, there is a sequel coming out this September (Shadowhouse Fall) so you don't have to wait too long (unless of course you read it when it first came out, then you did have to wait a bit)!  Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older is one of my favorite 2017 reads, and one you don't want to miss!


Final Rating


Extras


E-Novella


Interview with Daniel José Older

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