Number of Pages: 304 Published: April 5th 2016 Source: Purchased and ARC from author in exchange for an honest review
Genre: YA Contemporary Opening lines: "There was blood on the snow. White, with a smattering of red. Like petals." Jaye Stuart slowly begins to regain consciousness after having a terrible skiing accident. Everything appears so bright and the first sounds around her confusing. She drifts between being in her bedroom, auditioning for a part in a play and a memory of going on a ski trip with her family when she was eight or nine. Not only is Jaye trying to piece together what has happened to her, she is also trying to process the death of her father. One thing is for certain, Jaye must get out of the hospital and back to the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She has the lead of Titana and Pierce is going to be her Oberon. Maybe it will be a chance for them to rekindle their friendship. But when new kid, Romeo (Rob Mason) starts to show up in her classes, Jaye is drawn to this mysterious. kind boy who seems to understand what's going on with her. So, Jaye puts on her best Elizabeth Taylor. Calm. Cool. And tries to convince everyone she is just fine. Even while everything is still so confusing, and she's seeing people who she knows or thinks couldn't possibly be there. Can she trust what she is seeing? Even if it's Shakespeare and Hamlet? In Dreamers Often Lie, West does a remarkable job of placing you inside Jaye's head. As a speech therapist, I have always been fascinated with and strived to further understand the way in which our brains function, and especially how it has the ability to figure out ways to accommodate for lost functions. Its resilience is astounding. Jaye's brain is this confusing place of retrograde amnesia, agitation, hallucinations, with gaps in memories, making Jaye an unreliable narrator. Jaye has a very strong desire to hide her hallucinations, which is completely understandable, because she feels that if people really knew what she was seeing they would probably think she is "insane." She puts on these "personas" to show the face of someone who is collected, in control, while everything is spinning out of control around her. Jaye's story has a ring of authenticity to it, being true to the types of experiences someone with a head injury might have sustained, and shows just how much research West must have done. This line absolutely grabbed me "I'd only lost a few hours this time, not days. Still the thought that my body had been wandering around without my mind was frightening. Violating. Like something had been stolen right out of my pocket." The whole book has a dreamy quality to it, while leaving you never certain of what's real and what's not. Is she recalling things as they are? Is it the painkillers they gave her after the accident? Or is this just a part of her concussion? There is also the fantastical elements of Shakespeare's plays and appearance of Hamlet and other characters from Midsummer Nights Dream. I loved reading all of the quotes and references from Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Hamlet and Macbeth, and how they were interwoven into the story. It never felt like they were placed randomly, each seemed to have a purpose and West really piqued my interest to explore Shakespeare's works further, although I'll never be as passionate as Jaye was. Then there's Jaye's two love interests, Pierce and Rob (Romeo). The boy that she's known forever and the one who just seems to get her. I was rooting for both of them by the end. Such a wonderful twisty, heart-wrenching beautiful story with an ending that makes you question everything, but one that I will eagerly be reading again and again. I'm going to borrow a few adjectives from Kirkus and Booklist, it was "engrossing, dizzying, beguiling, lyrical, lilting and spectral." Highly recommend.
If you've been following my blog for awhile, it should be no surprise how much I love Jacqueline West's writing style and her Books of Elsewhere series. Jacqueline is one of the first authors that I connected with via her blog, she's always been so friendly and approachable. When I heard she was moving from middle grade to writing YA, I asked if she would be willing to talk about what the transition has been like for her, and happily she agreed. My review of Dreamers Often Lie will be up a little bit later today!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Dial Books
Number of Pages: 304 Published: April 5th 2016 Source: Purchased and ARC from author in exchange for an honest review
Genre: YA Contemporary
Who can you trust when you can't trust yourself?
"Black Swan meets Romeo and Juliet in this slippery, romantic YA by New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline West - for fans of Holly Black's White Cat, Justine Larbalestier's Liar, and Francesca Zappia's Made You Up.
Jaye wakes up from a skiing accident with a fractured skull, a blinding headache, and her grip on reality sliding into delusion. Determined to get back to her starring role in the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Jaye lies to her sister, her mom, her doctors. She's fine, she says. She's fine. If anyone knew the truth - that hallucinations of Shakespeare and his characters have followed her from her hospital bed to the high school halls - it would all be over. She’s almost managing to pull off the act when Romeo shows up in her anatomy class. And it turns out that he's 100% real. Suddenly Jaye has to choose between lying to everyone else and lying to herself.
Troubled by the magnetic new kid, a long-lost friend turned recent love interest, and the darkest parts of her family's past, Jaye’s life tangles with Shakespeare's most famous plays until she can't tell where truth ends and pretending begins. Soon, secret meetings and dizzying first kisses give way to more dangerous things. How much is real, how much is in Jaye's head, and how much does it matter as she flies toward a fate over which she seems to have no control?" Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Indiebound/
Hearing Voices: Moving from THE
BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE to DREAMERS OFTEN LIE by Jacqueline West
When I was 21, I started writing a
weird little story. I’d written plenty of other weird little
stories, but this one kept on growing, collecting memories and
daydreams and twists and turns, swelling across page after page like
an inky amoeba. It had mathematicians and living paintings and a
creepy old house and three unusual cats, and I wondered where it
would lead me. I worked on it between college classes, on bus rides,
during coffee breaks at minimum wage jobs. Sometimes I abandoned it
completely, but it always seemed to pull me back. It was the first
thing I’d ever written that felt truly right. I don’t mean
that it felt easy (NOPE), but each time I picked up the story,
I sensed that key-meets-lock click. I guess I’d found my
voice. Two years later, I’d also found an
agent and a publisher. In 2010, The Shadows, the first volume
of my middle grade fantasy series The Books of Elsewhere, made
its way out into the world. Four more books followed, and I finally
wrapped upthe series, and thirteen years of work, with
Volume Five: Still Life, in 2014.
Now my first YA novel, Dreamers
Often Lie, is on the cusp of publication. It’s completely
different from The Books of Elsewhere—in style, in tone, in
content, and in the way it was written. With Dreamers, it
wasn’t until I was on draft seven or eight (or maybe it was draft
ten or twelve) that I finally had another glimmer of that
key-meets-lock feeling. And this time, it didn’t feel like I’d
found my voice. It felt like I’d found someone else’s.
Years and years ago, I had a mental
flash of a teenage girl waking up in a hospital bed to discover
Shakespeare sitting across the room, looking back at her. I didn’t
know who the girl was, or how she’d ended up in that hospital bed,
or why Shakespeare was there, but that image just wouldn’t leave me
alone. And whenever I get an idea that just won’t leave me alone, I
know that I’m meant to write it down. So I did. And then I waited. A few years later, I was working as a
high school English teacher and drama coach, and sending out query
letters for The Shadows in my bits of spare time. I
would come home every evening with a brain stuffed with Hamlet and
Romeo and Juliet and play rehearsals and my students’ lives
and hurts and hopes, and these things combined with the image of the
girl and Shakespeare in the hospital room and started to braid
themselves into a story. Over the next eight years, that story went
through a slew of drafts: plotlines came and went, POV went from
first-person to third-person and back again, new scenes cropped up
and took over everything around them. And with each draft, I was
getting to know the girl in the hospital bed.
It took a long time. The girl in the
bed had a lot of secrets—secrets involving her father, her dreams,
her former best friend. She’d also just sustained a serious head
injury, and the concussion tinted her memories and skewed her
perceptions. Sometimes she saw things that couldn’t really be
there, and she had to keep this a secret too. Her mind was a
shifting, cluttered, complicated place. For the first several drafts,
I didn’t even know her real name. But somewhere around draft seven or
eight (or ten or twelve), things began to change. I stopped trying to
fit the girl into the story I’d envisioned. I stopped calling her
by the wrong name. I stopped trying to write exactly the way I’d
written before, with my own psyche calling the shots. I took a step
back, hacked out a bunch of things that weren’t working, and
started listening to what the girl in the hospital bed actually had
I learned that her name was Jaye
Stuart. That she was a high school junior with a devotion to theater,
a dark, self-deprecating sense of humor, and a tendency to make
things more dramatic than they really are. That she had a past full
of injuries that hadn’t healed. That she was usually her own worst
enemy. That she let emotions rule her actions, for both good and ill.
The better I knew her, the more I was able to get myself out of the
way and let her speak. After all those drafts and all that time, it
was Jaye’s voice that I’d found. Now Jaye and her
story are about to venture out into the world. Other people will get
to know her, to uncover her secrets, to see what it’s like inside
her head. That’s always been one of my favorite things as a reader:
getting to take on the identity of the characters, to walk around in
their lives for a while. It’s what Jaye loves about acting. And
Dreamers Often Lie reminded me that it’s one of the things I
love most about writing too.
Praise for Dreamers Often Lie:
"If you liked the trippy hallucinations of Black Swan, you'll be mesmerized by Jacqueline West's eerie new YA romance..."
"Utterly beguiling...Jaye is a fiercely headstrong force and West's writing is lyrical, lilting, spectral, and opulent."
"Jaye's personal drama sets an engrossing stage...A dizzying new twist on one of the Bard's most famous plays."
About the Author:
Jacqueline West is the author of the award winning series The Books of Elsewhere. The Books of Elsewhere, Volume One: The Shadows (2010) garnered starred reviews, several state award nominations, and a spot on The New York Times Bestsellers List. The series is published by Dial Books for Young Readers (A division of Penguin Random House) in the USA. Jacqueline's short fiction for adults and children has appeared in a variety of publications, and her poetry has received many honors, including two Pushcart nominations, a Rhysling Award nomination, and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize. Cherma, her series of poems about Wisconsin's Bohemian immigrants, was published in March 2010 by the University of Wisconsin's Parallel Press chapbook series. Jacqueline loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, and is sadly allergic to cats (though she manages to write about them without developing a rash), and is at least a little bit afraid of all fish larger than a hot dog bun. If you are sharing pizza, she will ask for the crust pieces. Don't get her talking about Kurt Vonnegut, Tori Amos, Northern Exposure, or Sylvia Plath, or you'll be sorry. Jacqueline lives amid the bluffs of Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband, son, and her dog, a Springer Spaniel mix named Brom Bones.
Number of Pages: 92 Published: November 3rd 2015 Source: Library
Genre: MG Realistic Fiction
I checked out Dead Possums Are Fair Game thinking this might be a humorous book, I mean look at the cover and title, kinda interesting right? So, my expectations were a little off going in, but I still enjoyed this quite a bit. Ella is staring down the possibility of summer tutoring for her difficulties in math. If she doesn't do well on the last two tests, then it will be a reality. As the end of school year approaches, the math teachers realize that there just isn't enough time to get the lessons in that they planned, instead they decide upon a math fair team project that will count for two test grades. Ella is devastated when she hears the news. How will she ever bring her grade up now? Lucky for Ella this is a group project and her best friends, Jolina and Lucille are assigned to her team. New kid Jonathan also joins and comes up with a winning idea, to show the life expectancy of various animals broken down into years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Everything with the project is going along swimmingly until her Aunt Willa comes for a visit and brings her dog Chewy along. Now Ella has to share her room, which for someone with "control issues" is a lot harder than it looks. Just when it looks like the math fair might actually be the answer to her summer tutoring problems after all, everything gets ruined by Aunt Willa's dog Chewy. Will Ella and her friends be able to sort everything out and turn in a winning project? Or will she be destined to summer school after all.
I enjoyed how this book was about Ella and her problems with math, as well as her need for control over all aspects of her life. Ella is enthusiastic about science and photography, like her Aunt Willa, but like some kids didn't realize how much math is used in daily life. I could see where someone struggling with a subject in school could identify with Ella's anxiety. At first her parents approach to her math problem was to encourage her to learn to like math, feeling by extension she would then get better at it. It isn't until her mother suggests viewing math through the eyes of a scientist that she begins to appreciate doing the age conversions for her project. Ella also receives lots of support from her friends, who recognize her struggles and encourage along the way. From her Aunt Willa she learns that being a photographer is more than taking a picture, it involves things like lens lengths and measuring chemicals, and that it's important to not think of doing something "math-related as a test every time." At first she thinks this puts a damper on her wanting to be a photographer, and although Ella doesn't come to love math, she does come to appreciate that it's necessary.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 230 Published: January 1st 2007 Source: Library
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Arnold "Junior" Spirit lives on the "rez," an Indian reservation in Spokane, Washington. While sitting in class one day, Junior happens to look at the inside cover of the book they are reading. He finds a name scrawled across it, the name happens to be his mothers. What makes him really angry is that if this is his mothers book, the school has been using the same book for the past thirty years. So Junior throws the book across the room, inadvertently hitting his teacher in the face. When that same teacher shows up at his house, Junior thinks this is it, he's going to get beaten up for like the hundred and eleventh time or something. He never expected his teacher to plead with him to leave the reservation, but Junior begins to think his teacher is right, what he needs is "hope." Or at least a place that can offer hope, and Reardan, a farm town twenty-two miles away, might be just the place he needs.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian chronicles Junior's life on an Indian reservation in Spokane and his decision to go to a nearby town to school. A decision that at first is met with resistance by his own community, and the teenagers in his new school. Most hurtful is his best friend Rowdy's reaction. However, Junior has lots of heart and is determined to go and work toward a better future for himself, eventually winning everyone over. Alexie writes a story that is honest in its portrayal of life as Junior sees it on the reservation as well as the thoughts and feeling of a teenager. Things felt hopeless at times, with Junior being surrounded by alcoholics and the death of family members closest to him, yet there are also lighter moments and humor with cartoon drawings by Ellen Forney. A coming of age story that shows that great friendships may ebb for awhile, but they are also resilient and strong when you need them the most.
I've been excited to read this ever since I heard about its upcoming release. I so enjoyed Snicker of Magic. It's still listed as on order at my library for the audiobook. Might have to purchase it instead,
This one is a picture book and I love Reynolds illustrations.
7. Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West Publishing 4/5/16 I've had this one on pre-order forever. One of my favorite authors to read. I love Booklist's review "Utterly beguiling...Jaye is a fiercely headstrong force and West's writing is lyrical, lilting, spectral, and opulent."
10. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Publishing 4/19/16 Those two apples were not on purpose, but how cool. I enjoyed Frances Hardinge's book Cuckoo Song, she seems to write creepy well. The Lie Tree also seems like part mystery which I'm in the mood for.
What made it on to your Spring TBR, did we pick any of the same books? Feel free to leave a comment and link to your TTT post. Thanks for stopping by!
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose
Format: Hardcover Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of Pages: 208 Published: May 12th 2015 Source: Library
Genre: Non-Fiction, Historical, WWII
So back in January I came up with ten bookish resolutions, things like to read more diverse books, classics, YA and nonfiction. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler sounded like a very interesting nonfiction book based on true events that happened in Denmark during WWII, and luckily my library had a copy.
During WWII, Denmark became very valuable to the Germans, they were a buffer to other countries, and they had the materials and easy transport routes that Germany needed for the war. Denmark had decided that rather than fight and lose so many people like Norway had during their resistance, they would allow Germany to occupy them or become a "protectorate." This didn't sit well with Knud Pedersen and his brother Jans. They were very upset with Denmark for allowing Germany to simply invade them, and this is Knud's story of how they challenged the occupation. Each chapter alternates between Hoose setting up the historical scene or event and then Knud Pedersen giving his first person account of the events. Interspersed between Hoose and Pedersen's accounts are actual photographs, historical details, even letters and documents that provide much of the historical context for the story. This is the actual person who was there and participated in the resistance as a teenager. The beginning of the book is full of action as Knud and Jans destroy telephone lines and the road signs that lead to the German camps. They start out as a small club of boys who idolized Winston Churchill, even naming the club after him. Slowly as they get more recruits, the group escalates to sabotage, stealing weapons, ruining vehicles and then destroying rail-cars. The details that Knud recalls about the war, mixed with the danger and potential for getting caught, really held my interest. All of their resistance eventually draws the attention of the German soldiers and leads to a large reward for their arrest. Which happens sometime around 1942. The heart-wrenching moments happen as the boys are convicted and then sent to jail. Pedersen doesn't hold back on describing how the two years of incarceration affected him and his friends. Everyone, including his family are changed. Most of all, these teenagers changed their nation, they began a resistance that was picked up and continued by other teenagers, adults throughout Denmark as the news of their arrest spread. Pretty cool and defiantly a book a history buff or someone who particularly enjoys reading first person accounts of WWII would enjoy.
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure Format: Hardcover Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers Number of Pages: 288 Published: December 22nd 2015 Source: Review Copy provided by publisher as a part of a Giveaway from Rock Star Book Tours
Genre: YA Contemporary
Opening Lines: "Mom was supposed to come home yesterday after her two-week vacation. Fourteen days. Said she needed a break from everything (See also: Us) and that she would be back before the first day of school."
This Raging Light begins fourteen days after Lucille's mother has left her in charge of her little sister, Wren. Their mother has decided that she needs a "break from parenting" and leaves them with a hundred dollar bill and no way to contact her. Their Dad is also absent because he was taken into custody for attacking their mother, and has refused all contact with the family since. His lack of interest is part of the reason that Lucille's mother leaves. It isn't until much later in the story that we find out he is in a mental institution, where he is trying to "find himself" and hopefully reconnect with them. These are two of the most dysfunctional parents I think I've ever seen. I must commend Lucille for standing in for her mother, she pays the bills, cooks the meals, and provides emotional support to her sister. All while trying to finish high school and hiding that their mother abandoned them from the school, neighbors and even her friends parents. This is not a story about Lucille trying to play house, but one that shows her desperation to keep her and her sister together. Their story is very heart-wrenching, especially when money starts to run out and Wren exhibits problems at school leading her teacher to request counseling and a meeting with their mother. Somehow, Lucille seems to be able to figure out a solution. Lucille isn't completely left alone, she does have her best friend Eden, and Eden's twin brother Digby helping her out. They help with babysitting of Wren while Lucille is working and are her emotional comfort, with Digby turning into her romantic interest part way through the book. This is where the story started to loose me a little bit. I really liked Eden and felt Lucille was being unfair toward her in getting mad when Eden said she couldn't babysit Wren anymore. Eden was losing time away from her passion, ballet, to watch Wren and it didn't seem like Lucille appreciated her. Having the story told from Lucille's point of view also made it difficult to get behind her and Digby's relationship. It's pretty obvious how she feels about him, "we're steak and mashed potatoes with a side of gravy, and chocolate molten lava cake with whipped cream and raspberry sauce. We are decadent," but not so with Digby, who has a girlfriend. And I couldn't get behind all of their sneaking around behind his girlfriends back, I just wanted there to be a more clear cut decision on their relationship. And that ending, still so many unresolved things, which I'm guessing will be resolved in the next book These Mighty Forces. I guess what I'm saying is that I liked This Raging Light, but if Lucille's and Digby's relationship would have been better defined and the ending would have not ended unresolved, I could have loved this so much more.
The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow by Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson Format: Hardcover Publisher: Delacorte Number of Pages: 272 Published: December1st 2015 Source: Purchased
Genre: MG Mystery/Paranormal
The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow begins with Thurston Begonia taking a 30 foot fall from the third floor balcony of Begonia House. The details of his death, according to the news article at the beginning of the book, are still a mystery. Then things move forward to Fairday and her family moving into the Begonia House, which they have purchased and plan to make into a bed and breakfast. Ok, I'm hooked. I love old houses, the kind with a porch, attic, spiraling staircase, bay windows, a couple of towers or turrets. I envision a parlor with a fireplace that is cozy and inviting. But, I also want a house to hold some mysteries, have some hidden panels or walkways, rooms that require a special key to open. Check, check and check. Begonia House seems to have all of these things, it's creepy and mysterious, but not scary. I really liked the way that the authors introduce the reader to Begonia House, and exploring each of the rooms as Fairday is seeing them. There is some mystery as to whether the house is haunted or not, mysterious sounds of bagpipes coming from one of the rooms and padlocks on one of the doors. It just adds to the suspense and eeriness of the house. As a child I would have really enjoyed the DMS (Detective Mystery Squad), and the cool DMS pack they use to solve their mysteries, containing a headlamp, binoculars, camera and note book to catalog clues. I always wanted to be an amateur sleuth like Nancy Drew. There is also a really great relationship between Fairday and Lizzy (founding members of DMS), but I liked that they choose to include Marcus, he seems to round out the team, plus his dad being an FBI agent might come in handy. Even Mr. Lovell and Fairday's parents are wonderful additions to the story. However, Fairday really shines in this book, she has a perfect response to standing up to a bully and just love the friendships that develop, it's something that I see carrying over into the next book, which I hope there is one.
Favorite line "Time spent with others is more valuable than an eternity alone."
I actually enjoy reading books that are set around an academy or school, even if it isn't the only place that the action takes place. But school's that have special classes or interesting teachers are some of my favorites. This is a sample of some of the one's that I've read, in no particular order. I just wish I could remember all the clever names for the classes that they offered.
1.The Magisterium (The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare) A magical school that trains young apprentices in identifying their inner talents (fire, earth, chaos, air, or water). 2. The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani) It's actually two academies one for the good and one for the evil with classes in henchmen training, uglification, curses and deathtraps or princess etiquette, animal communication and good deeds. 3.Thwodin's Guild (The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson) While technically called a Guild, it's a school that teaches the art of pick-pocketing, treasure retrieval, sword play, trap disarmament, etc.
4. Deepdean School for Girls (Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens) A Boarding School where Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong attend and solve some of their best mysteries.
5. Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions (Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau) A boarding school with training in the art of being the best henchmen to an overlord. Secret labs, spooky teachers. 6. Foxfire (Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger) Foxfire is a prestigious elf school with classes in alchemy, agriculture, elementalism, metaphysics and multispeciesial studies, to name a few.
7. Cragbridge Hall (Cragbridge Hall series by Chad Morris) A futuristic academy for super smart kids with technological gadgets. " Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don't read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn't around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar." 8. Academy for Metahuman Operatives (School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough)A school where you learn how to be a sidekick to a superhero. The only class I seem to be able to recall involved fending off bad guys with a fork.
9.Fairy Tale Reform School (Flunked by Jen Calonita) A school who's mission is to "turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes." Interestingly enough the school is run by reformed villains themselves like Flora (Cinderella's evil stepmother), Xavier Wolfington (Red Riding Hood's wolf), Madame Cleo (Ariel's Sea Witch) and Professor Harlow (Snow White's evil queen.).
10.Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling) Probably one of the most famous schools. Who hasn't wanted an acceptance letter to be delivered by owl?
Did I miss any other Schools/Academies? Feel Free to leave a link to your Top Ten Tuesday or a comment.