Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller


Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: #booksfortrade
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 320

A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

I don't even know how to write an introduction to this review. I absolutely loved this book so much. The characters are amazing, the plot is amazing, all the ship descriptions are amazing. 

Alosa is the princess of the pirates. Her father is the pirate king. He basically owns all the seas. Alosa is SUCH a badass female character. She is fierce. She is stubborn. She is ruthless. She isn't afraid to kill a man and get her hands dirty. She is the captain of her own ship which is manned by almost exclusively women. I love it. She's so girl power, it's amazing.

Riden is the first mate of the Night Farer, the ship that came along to kidnap Alosa. He is charged basically with babysitting her and interrogating her to get information about her father's keep. Little does he (or anyone else on the ship) know that Alosa allowed herself to be kidnapped in order to search their ship for a piece of a special treasure map.

Riden really doesn't come off as pirate material. Either that or he really lets his guard down too much around Alosa. He really seems to underestimate her and she continues to best him at pretty much every turn. I really liked Riden though. He's definitely not a hardened pirate. He's sweet and he's kind. He cares about Alosa and what happens to her even though she's a captive on his ship and she killed several other members of his crew. 

I love the relationship between Riden and Alosa. In the beginning, it really seems more like they're just lusting after each other. The ship hasn't docked for awhile and Alosa is just doing what needs to be done to get what she needs. But they have such chemistry and the banter between the two of them is everything. They really shouldn't like each other, but somehow they do. And I love it.

Draxen is the captain of the Night Farer and Riden's brother. He really isn't cut out to be a captain. He doesn't really hold the respect of his crew. But he does seem to actually try. He really comes off as a dirtbag. He likes to watch people suffer, but when you get to know him from Riden's point of view, you can't help but not actually hate him. I really hope that this is going to be an actual series because I think that Draxen could become an interesting character to learn more about, especially in his predicament at the end of this book.

Overall, this book was AH-MAZING. I polished this one off all in one day because I just could not put it down. There was always something going on and there was a super interesting plot twist that makes Alosa even more awesome, if that's even something that's possible. Seriously, I don't think that there was ever a dull moment in this book. If you like pirates, badass female characters, and so much action that your head will spin, you will definitely LOVE this book. This is a 2017 debut book that you NEED on your radar if it's not already there.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Repost: Rarity from the Hollow: How a Science Fiction Novel Can Help Prevent Child Abuse

Today I'm reposting an updated version of a guest post that went up on the blog last April!

RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW by Robert Eggleton recently got an updated cover! I am personally kind of loving this new cover. And the dress the little girl is wearing is AWESOME!

I updated the buy links, cover, blurb, and 'about the author' sections of the original post and added some new information at the bottom regarding reviews of the new edition and some information regarding what was updated in the new edition!

Remember that the proceeds of this book support the prevention of child abuse so if you think this sounds like the book for you, you'll be supporting a wonderful cause by purchasing it! :)


Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
Publisher: Dog Horn Publishing
Publication Date: March 16th, 2016
Pages: 354

Buy Links:


**Author proceeds support the prevention of child abuse!**

Blurb:

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. 

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” 
Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest 


“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.” 
    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author 

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review

I have something exciting today! I have author Robert Eggleton on the blog talking about his debut novel Rarity from the Hollow for my very first guest post! He's written a great little piece on how and why a science fiction novel helps to prevent child abuse! This post is kind of long, but it's pretty interesting if you have time to read it all!

Guest Post:


Tragedy to Comedy

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton 

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton is an adult literary science fiction novel, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended. This article presents a personal account by the author about the how and why a satiric and comical adventure, one that includes some very harsh and tragic scenes, enough food for thought to last a long time, helps to prevent child abuse.   

I’ve worked in the field of child advocacy for over forty years. A few months ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist for an intensive mental health, day treatment program. Many of the kids in the program had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. 

One day in 2006 during a group therapy session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises, and a little girl with stringy, brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family who would protect her.

This girl was inspiring. She got me thinking again about my own hopes and dreams of writing fiction, an aspiration that I’d held in since I was twelve years old. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn. I began to write fiction in the evenings and sometimes went to work the next day without enough sleep. Every time that I would feel discouraged, when I felt like giving up, I would imagine Lacy Dawn speaking honestly about the barriers that she faced in pursuit of her dream of finding a permanent and loving home.

I got to the point where I needed more to sustain my drive. My wife and I talked it over. That’s when the idea of donating proceeds to the prevention of child abuse became a commitment that has sustained my discouragement to this day. Three short Lacy Dawn Adventures were subsequently published in magazines. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel.

At least half of author proceeds have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, a nonprofit child welfare agency where I worked in the early ‘80s. It was established in 1893 and now serves over 13,000 families and children each year in an impoverished state with inadequate funding to protect child welfare.

During my career, many emotionally charged situations have tugged my heart strings so hard that child welfare became more than my job, more than a cause. It became a calling. Rarity from the Hollow fictionalized some of my true-life experiences and includes elements of poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, substance abuse and mental health problems. I wrote what I know best. My characters are more real than not, even though the backdrop of the story is science fiction.

I modeled the flow of the story after a mental health treatment episode involving a traumatized child: harsh and difficult to read scenes in the beginning of the story are similar to how, in treatment, therapeutic relationships must first be established before very difficult disclosures are made; cathartic and more relaxed scenes in middle chapters as detailed disclosures are less painful; and, increasingly satiric and comical toward the end through an understanding that it is “silly” to live in the past, that demons, no matter how scary, can be evicted, and that nothing controls our lives more so than the decisions that we make ourselves.

I know that it sounds weird, but I imagined victims benefiting from having read a science fiction story. Maybe I was trying to rationalize a balance between these two competing interests – writing fiction and my interests in child welfare. Even though I’d paid into the U.S. Social Security fund for over fifty-two years, I felt a little guilty about retiring from work. The decision to donate author proceeds to child abuse prevention helped resolve some of my guilty feelings.

In hindsight, maybe my idea that victims of childhood mistreatment could benefit from reading Rarity from the Hollow wasn’t so off-base after all. Four book reviewers have privately disclosed to me that they were victims of childhood maltreatment, like me, and that they had benefited having read the story. Three of them wrote glowing book reviews of the novel, one of whom publicly disclosed that she had been a rape victim as part of her review, and the fourth reviewer promoted the novel on her blog and on a radio show broadcast from the U.K. This book reviewer wants to interview Lacy Dawn, the protagonist. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a parent could read a book and actually become a better parent? In my experience, we typically parent the way that we were parented, even, sometimes, when we strive to do better. Unfortunately, there is a correlation between experiencing abuse in childhood and inflicting abuse as a parent.

Nevertheless, Rarity from the Hollow is a tribute to the concept of victimization to empowerment. Many abused kids demonstrate resilience that, for me, is amazing. Especially when abuse is related to the mental illness or substance abuse of or by the parent, guilt, in my opinion, rather than functioning as a motivator to address the problem can actually be detrimental. Parents who read my story may achieve insight that their children, more than anything in the world, want to love them, and that, while the damage done may not be forgotten or forgiven, that their children are strong and can not only survive, but can become empowered.

Also, especially with increasing awareness of PTSD, such as that experienced by Lacy Dawn’s father in the story, “Rarity from the Hollow” provides hope to spouses that the condition is treatable. By exemplifying the impact of treatment, this story may encourage readers with PTSD, such as Vets returning from the war in the Middle East, to seek treatment. I certainly hope so. In my experience, PTSD and anger management concerns are related, and can potentially result in sudden anger at anything, including a defenseless child.

If you or one of your readers has experienced childhood violence and your emotions are easily triggered, please exercise caution before deciding whether or not to read Rarity from the Hollow. While there is only one violent scene, the third, it is intense and there are mature references in the story. Subsequent chapters become increasingly satiric and comical and the novel won a Gold Medal from Awesome Indies as a “…hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – a science fiction comedy. My intent was for the early tragedy to amplify the comedy that follows, so I do also recommend that readers who have been victimized to stick with the story beyond the early chapter in order to witness the empowerment.

The intent of Rarity from the Hollow was to take its readers who have also been affected by past horrors from their tragedy into empowerment. The flow of the story is modeled after a mental health treatment episode: horror that is difficult to face and to disclose about in beginning chapters leading toward empowerment with subsequent disclosures as one acknowledges that the past is the past, and that nothing controls or lives more than the decisions that we make in the present. As in real life, however, I did not insert an artificial resolution of the complex issues presented in the story. Sometimes, we just have to move on. 

The intent of this novel is to sensitize people to the issue of maltreated children the way that Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim worked his way into the hearts of millions of fans.

Thanks so much Robert for taking the time to write this for me! It was very interesting! When I was reading up on this novel, one of my first thoughts was that it sounded like it was written similarly to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and that happens to be mentioned in this post!

If you want to purchase a copy of this novel, buy links are at the top! The proceeds help to prevent child abuse!

Excerpt:

From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me?

            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.  

            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree. 

            I will always love you guys.  

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.    

            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front.  

            Jenny looked to the left of the path.

            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is.  

            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did. 

            “All right, you mother f**ker!”

            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."

            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.    

            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.” 

            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

            Stay between them.

            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.”  

            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.  

            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.” 

            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.    

            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.” 

            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.   

            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”  

            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”       

            Jenny's left eye twitched.  

            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…     

            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.” 

            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.

            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.” 

            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said. 

            “So?” 

            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.

            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them. 

            "What's that?" Jenny asked.  

            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.” 

            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….  

            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby.  

            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked. 

            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.  

            They both glared at him.  

            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.  

            “Okay, Mommy.” 

            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.  

            “I love you too,” DotCom said. 

            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.    


            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”

Praise:

“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience….” “…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.


“…It is funny and irreverent but beneath the hallucinatory story of visits to shopping planets and interstellar shopping games, there is a profound critique of social problems, substance abuse, child sexual abuse and child murder that is quite eye opening… Rarity from the Hollow is very, very good…I'd recommend Rarity From the Hollow to anybody who likes a side helping of the lunatic with their science fiction and fantasy.”

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved….”

About the Author:


I recently retired after 52 years of contributions into the U.S. Social Security fund so that I could write and promote my fiction. I’m a former mental health psychotherapist in West Virginia. But, after coming home drained from working with child abuse victims, I didn't have the energy left to begin its self-promotion. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program in my home state. http://www.childhswv.org/ 

A listing of services that are supported can be found here: http://mountainrhinestones.blogspot.com/2015/06/review-giveaway-rarity-from-hollow-by.html.

The Press

Dog Horn Publishing is a traditional small press located in Leeds. Adam Lowe is the owner. http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow  The press also showcases other semi avant garde titles and publishes a popular magazine for the GLBTQ community (Vada). 

Author Contacts:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook - Robert Eggleton
Facebook - Lacy Dawn Adventures
Twitter
Google+
LinkedIn

Reviews of New Edition

Requests for reviews of the new edition of Rarity from the Hollow are now being considered. On 1-6-17, the first was published, five stars. To facilitate your consideration of reviewing this novel, the closing lines were: "…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s 'Animal Farm.' I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list." https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/

Sample Positive Reviews of First Edition

The first edition of this novel had a formatting error that has been corrected. The second reads much smoother. This problem likely affected some reviewers of the first edition. A couple of book bloggers have upgraded their reviews based on a review of the second edition and others may do the same. Despite the formatting problem, the first edition was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. An unsolicited Top 100 Amazon Reviewer found:

"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor…."

Another reviewer of the first edition found that the writing style was one-quarter turn beyond that of the famous author, Kurt Vonnegut. http://electricrev.net/2014/08/12/a-universe-on-the-edge/ 

While I’m flattered by this comparison, please note that the novel was found by the editor of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine, to be “laugh-out-loud funny” in some scenes. 

Long-time book critic, Barry Hunter, closed his review, “…good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find."   http://thebaryonreview.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&max-results=50 

Vonnegut, Douglas Adams (i.e., Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), or Tom Robbins (i.e., Another Roadside Attraction) are also close examples by subgenre. A former Editor of Reader's Digestfound that, "Rarity from the Hollow is the most enjoyable science fiction that I've read in several years…."  http://warriorpatient.com/blog/?p=58 

Recently, the novel was referred to as a Hillbilly version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  and awarded a gold medal by Awesome Indies:  “…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate….”  http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/  

More recently, with respect to the story's treatment of tough social issues, this reviewer said: "…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go…."  http://www.onmykindle.net/2015/11/rarity-from-hollow.html 

A book reviewer from Bulgaria named Rarity from the Hollow as one of the best five books that he had read in 2015. http://codices.info/2015/12/top-5-for-2015-ventsi/ On January 20, 2016, Rarity from the Hollow was awarded a second Gold Medal by a popular book review site: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow

Additional praise of the first edition has been posted by book bloggers on Amazon. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting for...


 Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 368

Summary (from Goodreads):

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape. 

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

Tough-issue contemporary novels are pretty much the only contemporary stories that I usually enjoy reading. This one sounds like it's right up my alley! I'm excited about this book and the cover too! :)

What book are you looking forward to this week?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Blog Tour Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham


Hello! Today I'm participating in the Dreamland Burning blog tour hosted by Hannah from The Irish Banana!

Something that I absolutely adore about historical fiction novels is how much I have learned since falling in love with the genre. I have read books about things that have happened in history that I probably never would have heard about had I not read a book about it!

The race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 is one of those historical events that I likely never would have heard of. I am SO glad that I got the chance to read this book. It was incredibly eye opening and it gives me a historical event to talk about in an A Glimpse Back in Time post, which is always welcome!

If you are like me and have never heard of the race riot, it happened May 31st - June 1st, 1921. It all started when a young black man was arrested for allegedly trying to assault a white woman in an elevator. Armed groups of white men went to the courthouse to try to deal with the young man themselves and armed groups of black men went to offer their help protecting him.

Things went down and 35 blocks of Tulsa were burned to the ground! 800 people were treated for injuries and it's believed that about 300 people were killed. I think I read that only 20 of those people were white. Over 6.000 people, all black, were held at the convention hall for up to eight days.

I better not give you all of the information for my other post here!!


Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 365

About Dreamland Burning:

Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told.
 


When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

**I originally received an advanced copy of this book from the NOVL for review and then also received a hardcover from the publisher for participating in this blog tour.**

Review:

Dreamland Burning is part contemporary murder mystery, part historical fiction. It is told in the alternating points of view of two seventeen-year-olds. This book is about the racial tension in 1921 Tulsa as well as the race riot, and also about race issues still going on in today's society.

Rowan Chase is a privileged, biracial girl living in present day Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother is a black lawyer and her father is a white important oil guy. She has experienced subtle racism, but she has been mostly sheltered from experiencing more severe racism.

During a home renovation project on the part of her family's property that used to be the servant's quarters, the work crew discovers a skeleton beneath the floor. While investigators begin a cold case, Rowan begins her own investigation to figure out who the skeleton belonged to and how they ended up beneath that floor.

William Tillman is a biracial boy living in 1921 Tulsa. His father is a white victrola shop owner and his mother is a full blooded Osage Indian. The KKK is on the rise and racial tensions are high. In the beginning, Will finds himself getting into a bit of a fight with a black man named Clarence who was apparently getting too friendly with the girl from school that he was crushing on. The fight ends with Will's arm broken and the cops called on Clarence.

I think the situation with Clarence was eye opening for Will. This book is all about racism, which seemed to be on the rise in 1921. He sees this, sometimes experiences it from a character who frequently calls him, Half-Breed. Then he sees his father doing business after hours with black folks, albeit not entirely as fairly as he does it with white folks. He befriends a spirited little black girl, who visits him every Tuesday when he's mopping the back room of his father's shop.

I don't know, I don't think that the above paragraph was very eloquent, but basically what I'm trying to say is that in the beginning, Will seems to be just accepting of the racism, participating in it, generally maybe not caring about it. But over the course of the book, that changes. He grows and starts to see that something isn't right. I don't know, I hope this is all coming out coherently. I am kind of struggling with how to word this. I was really on a roll with this review for awhile but now it's 1 am. Forgive me. 

Basically, I really liked both Will and Rowan. They both have a lot of growth throughout the course of this book. I liked reading both of their stories and seeing how they intertwined. I think found William's point of view more interesting, if only because it felt like more happened in his part of the story.

The only hint of romance in this book is the crush that Will has on a girl at his school. Other than that, there is no romance brewing with either of the main characters. Rowan's best friend, James, is aromantic asexual. Just fyi for people who want to find more books with characters like that. He's not really a huge character in the book, but he's there.

I think that the main reason that I gave this book 4 stars is because of one thing in this book that really annoyed me. In the beginning, immediately after discovering the body under the floor of the back house, Rowan touched it!! She acts like she knows a thing or two about what goes on forensic-wise and what not. So WHY would she touch it!? And why wouldn't the cops be upset at all about that??? I don't know, maybe they actually wouldn't care, but I just don't believe that that's how it would go down and it bothered me.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book! It covers an interesting, little known historical event that EVERYONE should probably know about. If you are into historical fiction or are curious about the race riot, you may enjoy this book! I would definitely recommend this book!

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About Jennifer Latham:



I'm a grown-up army brat with two kids, two dogs, and a husband. After working in a morgue, a maximum-security prison, a heroin detox, and assorted middle and high schools, I decided to try may hand at writing. Happily, it stuck.

I love watching people.

And I love writing about the characters who live inside my head—even when they don’t play nice.