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

8.24.2022

BLOG TOUR - THE UNDEAD TRUTH OF US BY BRITNEY S. LEWIS - YOUNG ADULT FICTION [REVIEW + GIVEAWAY]

 

I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Undead Truth of Us, the debut novel from Britney S. Lewis.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information



Title: The Undead Truth of Us
Authors(s): Britney S. Lewis
Publication Date: August 9,
 2022
Edition: Hardcover, eBook; 368pgs
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
8/1/2022 - Wanderingwitchreads - TikTok Review/IG Post
8/2/2022 - BookHounds YA - Excerpt/IG Post
8/3/2022 - Lisa-Queen of Random - Excerpt/IG Post
8/4/2022 - Author Z. Knight's Guild - Excerpt
8/5/2022 - Lifestyle of Me - Review/IG Post
8/6/2022 - Brandi Danielle Davis - IG Post

Week Two
8/7/2022 - Celia's Reads - Review/IG Post
8/8/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
8/9/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt
8/10/2022 - 100 Pages A Day - Review
8/11/2022 - booksaremagictoo - Review/IG Post
8/12/2022 - @jypsylynn - IG Review
8/13/2022 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt/IG Post

Week Three
8/14/2022 - @jacleomik33 - IG Review
8/15/2022 - A Dream Within A Dream - Review/IG Post
8/16/2022 - onemused - Review/IG Post
8/17/2022 - @ReaderOfTheWrittenWord - IG Review
8/18/2022 - A Bookish Dream - Review/IG Post
8/19/2022 - @drewsim12 - IG Review/TikTok Post
8/20/2022 - @lexijava - Review/IG Post

Week Four
8/21/2022 - @bujos_n_books - Review/IG Post
8/22/2022 - @amysbooknook8 - IG Review
8/23/2022 - pluvioreads - Review/TikTok Post
8/24/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
8/25/2022 - Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog - Review/IG Post
8/26/2022 - Momfluenster - IG Review/FB Post
8/27/2022 - Cocoa With Books - Review/IG Post

Week Five
8/28/2022 - @just_another_mother_with_books - IG Review
8/29/2022 - Lisa Loves Literature - Review/IG Post
8/30/2022 - The Clever Reader - Review/IG Post
8/31/2022 - PopTheButterfly Reads - Review/IG Post


The Summary

Death was everywhere. They all stared at me, bumping into one another and slowly coming forward.

Sixteen-year-old Zharie Young is absolutely certain her mother morphed into a zombie before her untimely death, but she can't seem to figure out why. Why her mother died, why her aunt doesn't want her around, why all her dreams seem suddenly, hopelessly out of reach. And why, ever since that day, she's been seeing zombies everywhere.

Then Bo moves into her apartment building—tall, skateboard in hand, freckles like stars, and an undeniable charm. Z wants nothing to do with him, but when he transforms into a half zombie right before her eyes, something feels different. He contradicts everything she thought she knew about monsters, and she can't help but wonder if getting to know him might unlock the answers to her mother's death.

As Zharie sifts through what's real and what's magic, she discovers a new truth about the world: Love can literally change you—for good or for dead.

In this surrealist journey of grief, fear, and hope, Britney S. Lewis's debut novel explores love, zombies, and everything in between in an intoxicating amalgam of the real and the fantastic.


Praise for The Undead Truth of Us:
"Britney Lewis has really nailed it with this one. I loved this striking, suspenseful, and deeply heartbreaking debut about a Black girl named Zharie on a quest to discover the truth about her mother and the darker parts of life and family! Spooky good.”―Jay Coles, author of Tyler Johnson Was Here and Things We Couldn't Say

"Deeply healing and impossible to put down, The Undead Truth Of Us, is an affecting portrait of grief’s many shades, and an affirming reminder to live.”―J. Elle, New York Times best-selling author of Wings of Ebony

"The perfect blend of emotion, sweet romance, and creepy imagery, The Undead Truth of Us is a journey you won’t soon forget."―Lauren Blackwood, New York Times best-selling author of Within These Wicked Walls

"THE UNDEAD TRUTH OF US is a revelation of a story, both macabre and magical, full of heartache, hope, and the infinite mysteries of love. I adore this book."―Rebecca Podos, author of Lambda Award-winning novel Like Water

The Undead Truth of Us is unlike any book I’ve ever read before. In this eerie and otherworldly story, Britney Lewis layers explorations of grief and love on the page like bright colors of paint on a canvas.”―Elise Bryant, author of Happily Ever Afters and One True Loves

“A devastatingly poignant tale of grief, healing, and the monsters we make of ourselves and of others. In American popular culture zombies have been used to represent our greatest fears and what do we fear more than losing the people we love? In Zharie, Lewis has created a perfectly imperfect character―someone who is learning to navigate grief and love and friendship all at once. Her moments of vulnerability feel familiar as do her moments of healing and joy. This story is an emotional and gripping take on the classic zombie archetype. A must read for lovers of genre bending horror.”―Kalynn Bayron, best-selling author of Cinderella is Dead

“A lament, but with fireworks.”―Nafiza Azad, author of The Wild Ones

“A wonderful book full of lyrical prose, but also grief―and the painful, sometimes beautiful, steps we take to get through it.”―Jessica Lewis, author of Bad Witch Burning

“Britney S. Lewis explores love and death in a debut that is tender, poetic, and wholly original.” Zoraida C√≥rdova, award-winning author of Labyrinth Lost


My Review

Warning: this is not your typical zombie book.  Which is one of the things that makes The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis stand-out.  At the heart of it, this is a contemporary story dealing with grief and the multitude of ways that grief impacts someone's life.  But it is also a story about rebirth.  Grief, death, hope, and rebirth: if those aren't perfect topics to feature zombies in, I don't know what are.

Our main character, Zharie, lost her mother, the most important person in her life.  But prior to her mother's actual death, Zharie was seeing zombies.  She even saw her mother transform into one before the EMTs took her body away.  Then zombies are popping up everywhere Zharie turns, and she doesn't understand why she is the only one who can see them.  This brings Zharie to question things, as she navigates surviving the grief that has taken over, and forging a path to find her purpose again.

My favorite part of this book was the lyrical writing and the mirroring of post-impression art through Van Gogh himself.  This book is character-driven, which is very different from most zombie books, most of which are action-driven.  Zharie's use of viewing her reality through Van Gogh's art and questioning if what she is seeing is real or a hyper-reality is crafted with a deft hand.  I would caution that this book has a deep threshold into it, and will definitely not be for every reader.  However, if you do start reading, it will be worth it.  Britney S. Lewis does such an amazing job crafting Zharie, and bringing her grief to life, that the slightly more complicated aspects of the book are not a barrier for long.

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis is not a normal zombie gore fest, which was such a breath of fresh air.  Definitely a great debut, and makes me intrigued to read more books from her!

Final Rating



Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE 

FIVE DAYS. FIVE . That was how long it took for Mama to turn  into a zombie. 

Day one she was stoic. She refused to move from the couch, even  after I turned off the TV in the evening. I still remembered how frigid her face looked in the dimness of the flickering candle before I blew it out. The spaces above her cheeks were sunken in, eyes bulged away  from her face. A wiggle under there, only slightly, but it did. I saw it  move. I saw it twist. 

And her brown skin looked frail and thin—any wrong move, and  I was afraid it would tear away in small slits, revealing the tissue  beneath.

“Mama . . .” I whispered, creeping closer to her in the darkness.  One foot after the other, the floorboards creaking with each step. I  wanted to know if she was okay, if she was even awake, but she didn’t  say anything. Looked at her again, waited. She released a deep breath,  the air cracking on its way out. Sounded like something was in there,  inching its way up her trachea. 

I left it alone. Kissed her clammy head, pulled a blanket over her, and tucked her in, hoping she’d be fine in the morning. And she would be fine. She always was. 

Day two was strange. It began with her golden-brown eyes. They  glazed into a cynical gray like cataracts, and the brightness that  used to be in them dissipated like smoke in the wind. When she  spoke, her sentences were short and sloth-like—every word a complete struggle—almost as if someone had stuffed cotton beneath her  tongue. 

On day three, her veins oozed a thick green sludge under her skin.  They pulsed and vibrated, not quite right. And her shoulders slouched  inward, like they were weighed down by a thousand invisible moons,  causing her inner tide to disrupt entirely. 

As she inched closer and closer to the invisible abyss, her dark cloud  of sadness stripped away the caramelized flesh from her face, leaving  her disfigured. 

By the fourth day, every breath came with a creaking croak. It was  like watching a sped-up time lapse of a fire burning out. Everything  I loved about her was gone.

We didn’t dance. 

We didn’t sing. 

She wasn’t the bleeding sunrise anymore—she was the deep, deep, dark ocean. 

And on November 4, before daybreak, her last breath rolled up her  throat and turned her into the undead thing that I feared. It was the worst day of my life. 

I found her on the floor in the kitchen, and my throat swelled.  Her body lay in the fetal position, her right hand below her heart,  crumpled like an old rose. 

But I didn’t get it. Zombies weren’t supposed to die so easily, yet  Mama did. 

When the EMTs came, I tried to tell them, but the words wouldn’t  come out. They couldn’t see that she wasn’t only dead—she was  undead

I—I, uh, my thoughts stammered, all I could do was stare blankly.  How could they not see it? How was I the only one? 

And she . . .she needed more time. We needed more time. I didn’t understand. What was wrong? How did she die? Was she really dead? But they rushed her out, and I couldn’t move from that spot in the  kitchen where I’d found her. 

Couldn’t force the air out of my lungs. Couldn’t take any more  steps forward. 

I tried to hold myself, but a sharp pain in my navel forced me to  my knees. I curled into a ball on the laminate floor, and the smell of the brewing coffee nestled in my nostrils, reminding me of how she  was just here, alive. 

She was alive. 

Closed my eyes, warm cheek against the cold tile now. And she was  gone. I knew she was because of the permanent goosies on my arms. When Mama died, I think her soul shattered into a Postimpressionist painting filled with yellows and blues. We were the zigzagged, black  lines in that painting, the birds. And I swore I flew with her soul that  day, the wind still fresh between my fingers, but I couldn’t reach her.  Didn’t matter how fast I flew, she flew farther, and the sapphire horizon created a million miles between us. It swallowed her. They later told me that her heart exploded in her chest. Exploded. I  didn’t know how that could be humanly possible, but when they told  me, I saw those colors again. 

She was yellow. I was blue. 

She was dead and undead, and now the earth was flooded with  zombies, drowning me with the constant reminder of Mama. Why? I didn’t know why. 

But why? 

I didn’t know why. 

But I terribly, terribly, terribly wanted to.

 

About the Author


About Britney S. Lewis:
Britney was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas where she fell in love with storytelling and the idea that magic moved and breathed in our world. After getting her Bachelor’s of Arts and Science, she worked in the world of marketing and communications for a few years before accepting a position as an editor for greeting cards where her job is to make sure to get the best words on paper. When she isn't daydreaming about new stories, Britney can be found binge-watching TV shows with her husband and pup or practicing West Coast Swing in one of her local dance studios. The Undead Truth of Us is her debut novel. For more information, you can follow her on social media @britneyslewis or visit her website at https://www.britneyslewis.com


Giveaway
1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE UNDEAD TRUTH OF US, US Only.
Ends 9/6/2022, midnight EST.

CLICK THE GRAPHIC


8.19.2022

BLOG TOUR - GOBLIN MARKET BY DIANE ZAHLER - MIDDLE GRADE FICTION [REVIEW + GIVEAWAY]

I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the latest release from author Diane Zahler, Goblin Market.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information


Title: Goblin Market
Authors(s): Diane Zahler
Publication Date: August 16,
 2022
Edition: Hardcover, eBook; 256pgs
Publisher: Holiday House
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
8/8/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt
8/8/2022 - GryffindorBookishNerd - IG Review
8/9/2022 - hauntedbybooks - Review/IG Post
8/9/2022 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Review/IG Post
8/10/2022 - Lifestyle of Me - Review 
8/10/2022 - @allyluvsbooksalatte - IG Post
8/11/2022 - BookHounds YA - Excerpt/IG Post
8/11/2022 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt/IG Post
8/12/2022 - Lisa-Queen of Random - Excerpt/IG Post
8/12/2022 - onemused - IG Post

Week Two
8/15/2022 - Nerdophiles - Review 
8/15/2022 - Two Points of Interest - Review
8/16/2022 - Beers Books Boos - Review/IG Post
8/16/2022 - Celia's Reads - Review/IG Post
8/17/2022 - Littlefreelibrarygrahamnc - IG Review
8/17/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
8/18/2022 - A Backwards Story - Review/IG Post
8/18/2022 - @jypsylynn - IG Review
8/19/2022 - @amysbooknook8 - IG Review
8/19/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post


The Summary

One sister must save the other from a goblin prince in this rich, spooky, and delightfully dark fantasy!

Lizzie and Minka are sisters, but they’re nothing alike: Minka is outgoing and cheerful, while Lizzie is shy and sensitive. Nothing much ever happens in their sleepy village—there are fields to tend, clothes to mend, and weekly trips to the market, predictable as the turning of the seasons. Lizzie likes it that way. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. She hopes nothing will ever change. 

But one day, Minka meets a boy. 
A boy who gives her a plum to eat. 

He is charming. He is handsome. He tells her that she’s special. He tells her no one understands her like he does—not her parents, not her friends, not even Lizzie. He tells her she should come away with him, into the darkness, into the forest. . . .

Minka has been bewitched and ensnared by a zdusze—a goblin. His plum was poison, his words are poison, and strange things begin to happen. Trees bleed, winds howl, a terrible sickness descends on Minka, and deep in the woods, in a place beyond sunshine, beyond reality, a wedding table has been laid. . . .

To save her sister, Lizzie will have to find courage she never knew she had—courage to confront the impossible—and enter into a world of dreams, danger, and death.

Rich world-building inspired by both Polish folklore and the poetry of Christina Rossetti combines with a tender sister story in this thrilling novel from Diane Zahler.

Praise for Goblin Market:
"TERRIFICALLY TIMELESS. . . SPLENDID."—Shelf Awareness

"Lush. . . Dreamy. . . Breath-quickening."—The Horn Book

"Resonates with emotion."—BCCB

"Believably wrought."—Publishers Weekly

"Will entice readers looking for some chills."—Kirkus Reviews



My Review

I really love when classic books and poetry are adapted for a different audience, so I was really interested to see how Diane Zahler reinterpreted Christina Rosetti's poem "Goblin Market" for middle grade in Zahler' latest release, Goblin Market.

Set in a fantasy world that is reminiscent of Poland, our story follows two sisters: older, outgoing Minka, and younger, shy Lizzie (or Elzbieta).  Lizzie and Minka have a strong connection, with Minka being one of the few people who believe Lizzie when she says she can "see" sounds.  Lizzie has synesthesia, which is when a person experiences one of their senses through another.  And while the reader finds out this is a strength, it has "othered" Lizzie in a sense.

The fantasy aspect of this book is great.  There are a lot of interpretations of Rosetti's original poem, but it can also be read as an actual fantasy poem, which is the direction this story takes  (Diane Zahler talks about this in a guest post on the School Library Journal blog).  The more Polish roots lend very well to the story, giving the world a darker, deeper feel.  The villains of the story, the zdusze (goblins) come from Slavic lore, and just fit into the deep forest that surrounds the girls' town.  Emil, the goblin boy who bewitches Minka, is sinister in a very subtle way.  Emil's interactions with Minka, and even Lizzie, read as a type of seduction, but one of dream fulfillment; nothing racy here, this is a middle grade after all!

But besides the fantastical aspects, the heart of this story is the connection between the sisters.  The love that Minka and Lizzie share is beautifully depicted.  In true fairy tale fashion, love conquers all.  In this case, the love of a sister.  Being extremely close to my older sibling, I appreciated that Lizzie was able to grow within the older sister/younger sister dynamic she and Minka share; Lizzie is able to develop into a stronger person because her sister needs her.  While both girls experience character growth, you really see Lizzie come into her own.  Zahler also utilizes Lizzie's synesthesia in a very pivotal way, bolstering her confidence even more.

Goblin Market by Diane Zahler is a great fantasy story, perfect for heading into the autumn season.  I think readers who know the Rosetti poem while be delighted to see the hints of it throughout the story, but anyone can enjoy this journey.  Danger, magic, and the power of love make for one dynamic book!

Final Rating



Excerpt

Chapter 1

Market day was Lizzie’s favorite day of the week. 

Not because she loved going to the market—the few times she’d been there, she’d hated it. There were so many people she didn’t know, from villages and farms clear on the other side of Elza. So much noise, such constant comings and goings, so many smells and colors! It was overwhelming, terrifying. Each time she’d ended up hiding in a doorway at the edge of the square, trembling, until Mother and Minka came to find her. 

Now Minka went to market on her own. 

Mother was delighted that Minka was old enough to go alone: she could stay home and attend to the chores. And Lizzie was delighted that she could steal into the Wood for an hour or two when she was done helping Father in the fields. 

In the Wood, Lizzie always went to the same place, a little stand of birch trees beside a trickling stream. If it was warm and the sun shone down onto the circle of grass inside the grove, she would lie and look up at the sky. She could feel the breath of the Wood as the wind rustled the birch leaves. She could hear the Wood’s chuckle in the water running over rocks. Sometimes she felt as if the Wood’s heart thrummed inside her body. Her own pulse matched the Wood’s, beat for beat. 

If it was cold, she would wrap up in her shawl and walk to stay warm, just listening—to bird songs, to the creak of branches rubbing together, to the rustle of rabbits and squirrels in the underbrush. 

For Lizzie, each sound was a color. When she was younger, seven or eight, she’d sat at the kitchen table and tried to paint what she heard, but Minka laughed and pointed at her painted trees, saying, “Leaves aren’t gray, silly! And those don’t even look like trees. They look like sticks with clouds on top.” Minka loved to paint. She did it whenever she had a few minutes free of chores, and sometimes instead of chores. She mostly used watercolors, but if she had a few extra coppers, she would go into Elza and buy a tube of oil paint—cerulean blue, or chartreuse, or violet—and paint the whitewashed walls of the cottage with flowers and intricate designs, inside and out. Her lips were always tinted blue or green because she chewed on her brushes when she thought about what to paint. 

“We don’t have any silver paint,” Lizzie said. “I had to use gray.” 

“Leaves aren’t silver, either,” Minka pointed out. “They’re green. Or red and orange in the autumn.” She took the paintbrush, dipped it, and in a few moments there was a tree on the paper, brown and green and almost as real as life. 

“But the sound the leaves make is silver,” Lizzie protested. “In springtime, anyway.” 

Minka rolled her eyes. “What does that even mean?” she asked. “The sound the leaves make is silver?” 

“It’s the color they make when they rustle together,” Lizzie said. “When the breeze blows. You know, the wavery lines of silver?” 

Minka’s face was blank. 

“You don’t see that?” Lizzie was confused. The idea that other people didn’t see what she saw was new to her. 

“You do see that? Actually see it?” 

Excerpt from Goblin Market / Text copyright © 2022 by Diane Zahler. Reproduced by permission from Holiday House Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.


About the Author



About Diane Zahler:
Diane grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. Now she’s the author of six middle-grade fantasy novels and a historical novel, Daughter of the White Rose. She lives in the country with her husband and slightly neurotic dog in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit her website at www.dianezahler.com.



Giveaway
1 winner will receive a finished copy of GOBLIN MARKET, US Only.

CLICK THE GRAPHIC




8.08.2022

BLOG TOUR - THE HONEYS BY RYAN LA SALA - YOUNG ADULT FICTION [REVIEW + GIVEAWAY]


I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the latest release from author Ryan La SalaThe Honeys.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information



Title: The Honeys
Authors(s): Ryan La Sala
Publication Date: August 16,
 2022
Edition: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook; 352 pgs
Publisher: PUSH (Scholastic Press)
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - Audible - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD 
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.


Tour Schedule

Week One
8/1/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt/IG Post
8/2/2022 - Lisa Loves Literature - Review/IG Post
8/3/2022 - @ReaderOfTheWrittenWord - IG Review
8/4/2022 - A Dream Within A Dream - Review/IG Post
8/5/2022 - One More Exclamation - Review/IG Post
8/6/2022 - Nerdophiles - Review

Week Two
8/7/2022 - My.Bookish.Mind - IG Review/TikTok Post
8/8/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
8/9/2022 - @amysbooknook8 - IG Review
8/10/2022 - Do You Dog-ear? - Review/IG Post
8/11/2022 - Brandi Danielle Davis - IG Review/TikTok Post
8/12/2022 - A Bookish Dream - Review/IG Post
8/13/2022 - Mallory Books - Review/IG Post

Week Three
8/14/2022 - booksaremagictoo - Review/IG Post
8/15/2022 - onemused - Review/IG Post
8/16/2022 - @ReadsReaders - YouTube Review/IG Post
8/17/2022 - Momfluenster - IG Review/FB Post
8/18/2022 - @enjoyingbooksagain - IG Review
8/19/2022 - @lexijava - Review/IG Post
8/20/2022 - @drewsim12 - IG Review/TikTok Post


The Summary

From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline's radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who'd grown tragically distant.

Mars's genderfluidity means he's often excluded from the traditions -- and expectations -- of his politically connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister's old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying -- and Mars is certain they're connected to Caroline's death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can't find it soon, it will eat him alive.

Praise for The Honeys:
"Pure horror gold." - Booklist STARRED review

"Tantalizing and memorable." - Publisher's Weekly STARRED review

"As rich and complex as dark amber honey." – Kirkus


My Review

An idyllic woods filled with reality-shifting secrets is the setting for Ryan La Sala's queer horror novel The Honeys.  The horror should not be taken lightly, as La Sala crafts a psychological minefield, amidst the backdrop of a pristine summer camp.  Just when you think you know what's happening, a new twist appears and the stakes grow higher and higher.

Mars, our main character, has a lot of history with Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy; a camp for the rich and influential, if you don't conform to the ideals of camp, then you are ostracized.  Mars, who is queer and genderfluid, breaks the binary that Aspen has in place, making them a prime target when they were younger, and causes them to leave.  But once their twin sister, Caroline, dies under very suspicious circumstances, Mars heads to the last place she was: Aspen.

There is a lot of social commentary mixed into this horror tale; the gender binary, sexism, toxic masculinity, the influence of the affluent to just name a few.  La Sala dives into both the internal and external pressure these things create and how empowering and frightening living as one's authentic self can be.  The use of bees and how the rigid gender roles within a hive reflect out into the camp itself, and the groups of teens is so well-crafted.  La Sala really does an excellent job of creating a horror the reflects both the mundane and the supernatural.

As with most horror mysteries, I can't go much into the plot, but Mars himself is not always a reliable narrator, but then the others around him are unreliable as well.  His trust gets broken, his beliefs get reshaped, and it all comes to a head at the end of the book.  This was a very satisfying story, one I couldn't put down because as you got another taste, you just wanted more.  

Dark academia taking place in a sunlight meadow, The Honeys by Ryan La Sala is one book that should grace everyone's reading list, and is the perfect read to finish out the summer months.

Final Rating



About the Author


About Ryan La Sala:
Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people.

Ryan resides in New York City, but only physically. Escapist to the core, he spends most of his time in the astral planes and only takes up corporeal form for special occasions, like brunch and to watch anime (which is banned on the astral planes).

Ryan is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled, and the highly anticipated The Honeys. He has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Tor.com, and one time Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race called him cute. Right in the middle of the road downtown! So. Pretty big deal all around, yes?

His next book, The Honeys, will be publish with Scholastic on August 16, 2022.



Giveaway
1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE HONEYS, US Only.

CLICK THE GRAPHIC


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