Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guest post: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves
by Robin Talley
Amazon | Goodreads | Website

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by Robin Talley
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In which Robin provides an introduction to the characters in her book...

I knew before I even started writing it that the main characters’ parents would play a major role in Lies We Tell Ourselves. It’s a story focusing on two high school seniors ― Sarah, who’s black, and Linda, who’s white ― who are both the daughters of activists in the school integration movement, though they serve on opposite sides of the struggle.

Sarah’s parents are very active in the NAACP. When the story starts they’ve recently moved from Chicago, where Sarah’s father wrote for a major African American newspaper, to Virginia, so they could be part of the Civil Rights Movement in the South.

When I was researching the story, I scoured the Internet for photos of Chicago NAACP activists during this period. I came across a huge group photo of a meeting that took place there in the 1940s (sadly, I can’t find it now but it was along the lines of this one from 1929). As I zoomed in and examined the people in the photo, I saw one couple that made me stop and gasp.

This couple.

The photo wasn’t labeled, so I don’t know who these two activists were. But as soon as I saw them, I knew that in my mind, these two people would always be Sarah’s parents, Robert and Irene Dunbar, and I knew that this photo was taken when they were younger, soon after their wedding, before Sarah was born.

That open, idealistic smile on Irene’s face. The shrewd, tired look on Robert’s. Their neat crisp clothes, the bundle of newspapers clasped in Irene’s arms, the crowd of friends and allies clustered around them.

I knew these were the people who would raise Sarah to be a smart, courageous, stronger-than-she-knows young woman who would change the world before she was even old enough to vote.

Parents are often MIA in young adult books. They usually are in the other books I’ve written. But for Lies We Tell Ourselves, the parents were vital to giving the main characters the foundation they needed to make it through the wrenching story that lay ahead of them.

And I can’t imagine Sarah making it through her story without her parents ― these parents ― standing strong behind her.


Guest post created by Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves
© 2014. All rights reserved.

About the author:

I grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, and escaped to Washington, D.C., at the first opportunity. I now live with my wife, our antisocial cat, and our goofy hound dog on Capitol Hill. I also work for a progressive nonprofit organization.

My first novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves, was released Sept. 30, 2014, by Harlequin Teen. It’s set in 1959 Virginia, and it’s a black girl and a white girl who fall in love in 1959 Virginia while their school is being desegregated for the first time. My next book, Unbreakable, follows a high school couple — Gretchen, who identifies as a lesbian, and Toni, who identifies as genderqueer — whose relationship is tested when they’re separated for their first year of college.

I spend my nights and weekends writing young adult fiction about LGBT characters, reading books, and enjoying The Daenerys Show (you may know it as Game of Thrones). I also read a lot of young adult books and spend an inordinate amount of time getting worked up about things that shouldn’t happen in the world, and yet somehow keep happening.

I was a Lambda Literary Foundation Writers’ Retreat Fellow, and I’m represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich.

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @robin_talley

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by Robin Talley
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--~ Book Giveaway courtesy of publisher ~--

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* image source: photo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Such Thing by Sarah Daltry (with giveaway)


by Sarah Daltry


College was supposed to be perfect.

She was supposed to be perfect.

For Lily Drummond, life is about following the rules. To be specific, her mother’s rules. College fit into the plan – maintain perfect grades, date the perfect guy, and live the perfect life.

On her own, though, Lily realizes that she doesn’t actually have a plan. Without being told what to think and do, she keeps making mistakes.

Away from home, the perfect facade is beginning to shatter. When Lily herself starts to break, it’s the support of an unlikely friend that teaches her how much of a lie perfect really is – and how to be whole on her own terms.

Release Date: December 12, 2014 (tentative)

Preorders to be available in November unless something changes.

“My name’s Lily and James Naismith ruined high school for me,” I offer.

It’s too hot in this room. The window fan is blowing nothing but heat over us, along with some old dust or dirt from the window. It makes the noise of plastic that is being asked to do more than plastic can do; the fan’s cheapness makes it too weak to be a fan and it groans with its own failure.

I’m not good with social events. This is some kind of mandated floor meeting for all new students and I’m sitting in the middle of my RA’s room with ten other girls, all of us in pajama pants, and trying to sound interesting.

“I mean, he didn’t personally. I think he died almost a hundred years ago,” I stutter.

“So why don’t you explain how the inventor of basketball did ruin high school then?” one girl asks. She’s angry, but I don’t know her. I don’t know anyone, except my roommate Kristen and so far all I know about her is that she’s majoring in education, she brought the fridge, and she’s decorated her side of our dorm room to look like the inside of a Pepto-Bismol bottle. This girl doesn’t want to hear my story. She doesn’t want to be here, but I don’t, either, and now that I’m here, I was the one dumb enough to open my mouth.

“It was gym class,” I try to explain. “I don’t know. Something about ed reform. We had homework and tests and all that in gym now and I’d been up all night writing an essay about James Naismith. I hadn’t slept and I was in a rush trying to make the bus that morning.”

It had been cold, the rushing towards winter that mirrors the years that aren’t like this one. This is one where summer lingers and it resists every attempt to make it yield to fall. I remember the leaves were already falling that year, even though it was only early September. Some years it seemed like they were in a greater rush to die. In the moments between life, each leaf took its suicidal leap and fell slowly while no one noticed. We always only notice when they’re all dead and suddenly the sky hangs on us and we crave shade.

The bus was about to pull away from the curb near my house and I cried out for it, running faster and slipping on a clump of leaves. The entire patch was squishy. I wondered as I fell if I had taken out a small family of worms in my descent. My outfit was ruined, but it wasn’t the clothes that scared me…

“I tripped on leaves and fell on the driveway hard. The gravel left a slash along my cheek and it looked like someone had punched me. That was the day of school pictures, which we used for the yearbook and our IDs. Not to mention the fact that my mom…” I can’t finish. I don’t want to take about my mother. I certainly don’t feel like confiding in these girls about how disappointed she was that I had ruined everything. It wasn’t my fault that fall had come early, but I ruined the pictures and in her album of school photos, my freshman year still remains a giant, empty black page. A constant reminder that I will never be whole, never be perfect, never be what she wanted.

“What about your mom?” someone else asks.

“Nothing.” I don’t want to tell my story anymore. I want the fan to stop trying. I want it to be tomorrow and the day after and any day when I can start in the morning and get through to night without making a mistake.

It’s dropped, though, anyway, because Ellie, the RA, turns to someone else who is pocketing a handful of condoms. “You don’t need to take them all,” she barks. “I have plenty, but other people practice safe sex, too. Unless you’re planning on having a massive orgy tonight, you can probably come back and get some later.”

The condom hoarder blushes and returns half her pile and the floor meeting turns back to pointless small talk and ice breakers that no one wants to be a part of. The fan clicks another meaningless rotation. I’ve been a college student for six hours now and I’ve never been so lonely in my entire life.

Sarah Daltry is a YA author, hardcore gamer, sarcastic nerd, and obsessive Anglophile who watches too much BBC TV. She is the author of Backward Compatible: A Gamer Geek Love Story, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: A Modern Reimagining, Bitter Fruits, and the upcoming YA fantasy, Dust. No Such Thing as Perfect was inspired by Sarah's original Flowering series, but is a completely different take on similar concepts.

When she's not writing, Sarah spends a lot of time with her Xbox and her cats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler

Find out more about this book and author:
SAVE the Chimps

Published: February 2014
Publisher: Plume
Genre: Contemporary fiction, animals
Paperback: 320 pages
Rating: 5

The New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club introduces a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way but one.

Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.

In We Are All Completely beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler weaves her most accomplished work to date—a tale of loving but fallible people whose well-intentioned actions lead to heartbreaking consequences.

My two-bits:

I picked this one up because I was curious about this year's Man Booker Prize book nominations. And coincidentally, I found that I have a few books on the Longlist.

Wow! what a great read this one is!

Loved how it goes into psychology and social development of humans and animals.

Got me thinking of the treatment of domestic and wild animals and the tendency to anthropomorphize them.


* Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award

* Winner of the 2014 California Book Award for Fiction

* Shortlisted on 2014 Man Booker Prize

* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: Creature on Cover

Drowning by Jassy de Jong

by Jassy de Jong

Find out more about this book and author:

Release date: December 7, 2014
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Genre: Erotica, Romance, South America
Paperback: 236 pages
Rating: 4.5

Sensuous but stifled New York City photographer Erin Mitchell thinks going to South Africa on assignment will be the perfect getaway. But when a flash flood washes away Erin’s vehicle and she is stranded at a luxury safari lodge, Erin’s romantic working vacation takes an interesting turn.

She awakens from her near-drowning and meets her rescuer, Nicholas--hot and brilliant, successful and caring -- not at all like her abusive husband. At Leopard Rock in the steamy South African heat, Erin faces the toughest choices of her life. Nicholas is ripped, he's smart and he's "no strings attached."

To give in, or not to give in drowns Erin’s senses as she struggles with two impossible goals: ignore the exquisite physical charms of her host, and conceal every last detail whenever her controlling husband calls. On the other side, Nicholas faces impossible choices of his own, as the bon-vivant playboy may just possibly collide with feelings more powerful than lust.

Erotic. Exotic. Wild.

Drowning sizzles in the African heat as one woman is stretched to the breaking point by the strength of her vows and the intensity of her seething primal desires.


My two-bits:

And now, for something different...

My last erotic reading was Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James a couple years ago. Thought it was time to mix up my current reading pattern of mostly YA and dystopia with something naughty.

I found that this book provided some steamy scenes with a storyline that dealt with lust and love. It fits the bill for an entertaining hot and fast read with characters who just can't resist that pull of love despite their circumstances.

I liked the setting of this story which was an estate in South Africa. I am left wanting to read more stories in a similar location to get a better sense of the land and culture.

This story also got me thinking of toxic relationships.

About the author:

Jassy de Jong lives in the countryside outside Johannesburg, South Africa, and shares her life with her wonderful partner Dion, two horses and two cats, one of whom is permanently stationed on her writing desk during office hours.

She enjoys traveling, cooking, cycling, and competes in dressage on her Thoroughbred, Msasa Magic.

Jassy was thirty-five years old before she met her soul-mate, and while kissing a few frogs along the way (who stayed frogs), she learned a lot about life, love and relationships. She adores writing about the incredible experience of falling in love, and believes that everybody deserves a happy ending... especially her heroines.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: Red Cover

* if you are over 18 yrs of age and would like my review copy, let me know in comments.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts (with giveaway)

The Bodies We Wear
by Jeyn Roberts

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @JeynRoberts

Just released: September 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Dystopia, Ghosts, YA
Hardback: 368 pages
Rating: 5

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

Zombie sighting:
When morning comes, I must look like a zombie. Gazer sits down while I'm at the breakfast table, my cheek leaning against my coffee mug in a pathetic attempt to try to keep my face elevated.
-chapter 9, page 146

My two-bits:

Issues about rehabilitation, revenge, death and love are masterfully intermingled and dealt with in this tale of a girl who survives an addiction.

Interesting paranormal action and activity comes into play in some scenes that help the main character come to terms with internal conflicts of the past.

Loved how things were not necessarily black and white.

The main character, Faye, is such a strong fighter and survivor. She is another one of those gals who I'm adding to my list of kick-ass fiction heroines.

--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

For 2 winners.

WIN a copy of this book!

Open to US and Canada only.

Offer ends: October 31, 2014

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ADD this book to your Want To Read list on Goodreads.


Tweet about this giveaway.


Recommend this on Google using the mini-button at end of this post (g+1).


Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Tumblr the Book Cover image.

2. TELL me what you did in comments.

AND, leave your email OR make sure I have a way to contact you (twitter link, clickable profile, etc).


* review copy and giveaway courtesy of book tour.

* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: Black cover

* part of my Dystopia Reading Challenge