Sky in the Deep – Blog Tour and Q&A with Adrienne Young

SkyintheDeep Blog Tour.png

Hey guys! I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour celebrating Adrienne Young’s debut novel, Sky in the Deep! I just want to say a quick thank you to Wednesday Books for letting me be a part of this tour because, as those of you who read my review already know, I absolutely adore this book! Here’s a link to my review in case any of you wanted to read it, and today I’m gonna share a Q&A with the author, Adrienne Young. Be sure to let me know if any of you are excited for Sky in the Deep or if any of you have already read it because I NEED to talk about it with someone!

Copy of Sky in the Deep_Whim 1.png

SUMMARY:

Sky in the Deep_cover image

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

 

Copy of Sky in the Deep_Whim 4.png

General Q&A:

1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any favorite Viking stories?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on this country road and that first scene just hit me – Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

2. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

3. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

4. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it just clicked in so perfectly.

5. Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?

Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to write. I really, really love him.

6. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up – Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

7. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

8. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!

9. Any details about the companion novel?

I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

About the Author

Final_Young, Adrienne_NO CREDIT

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.
For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks
Twitter: @adriennebooks

 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young releases on April 24th, 2018. If you would like to pre-order Sky in the Deep:

Book Depository

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

-CG

Sky in the Deep – Spoiler Free ARC Review

Sky in the Deep

By Adrienne Young

 

Details:

Title: Sky in the Deep


Author: Adrienne Young


Date of Publication: April 24th, 2018


Publisher: Wednesday Books

 

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of Sky in the Deep in exchange for my honest feedback.

Summary:

            Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she’s been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.

A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family. (Goodreads Summary)

 

My Review 

           As a massive fan of the Vikings TV show as well as the history of the vikings in general, I was looking forward to Sky in the Deep from the moment I read its description on Goodreads, and I did not leave this book disappointed. I managed to finish it in one sitting, and am already dying to get my hands on Young’s next novel.

            I don’t often get to read YA historical fiction/fantasy stories, so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on Sky in the Deep.  Young manages to build a lush, wonderful world while following what we know of the vikings from history. The story itself had me hooked in from the very first moment with an epic battle scene to start the story off. While reading it, each chapter seems to flow into the next, leaving you wanting more until you reach the very end. It’s both brutal and violent, while also managing to be a touching story about family and loyalty. I especially love the description Young includes in her fighting scenes; she never holds anything back and allows for there to be blood and gore. I don’t want to say too much about the plot in fear of spoiling it, but Young does a fantastic job in pacing her story so it doesn’t feel rushed, letting things occur naturally. Sky in the Deep is truly an incredible Viking inspired story that will not only make your pulse race with adrenaline, but also cause you to appreciate those you have in your life.

            A badass story has to have some badass characters, and Young certainly delivers in that category. Our main character, Eelyn, is a piece of work and I absolutely love her. She is a fierce warrior who loves ferociously, and will do anything to protect those she loves. I loved how we got to see her develop throughout the story from an Aska who hates the Riki with every fiber of her being, to living and fighting amongst them. Fiske, her love interest, is the strong, silent type. He and Eelyn don’t start off on the right foot, but we see them grow together, bringing out the best in one another. Young did a fantastic job in not letting the romance take over the story. Instead, the romance sneaks up on you when you least expect it, and actually adds to the story as a whole. Aside from the two main characters, there are also several other well written characters with tons of personality such as Inge, Halvard, Runa, Iri, Myra, and so many more! I can’t discuss everything I loved about every single one of them without spoiling things–or making this review about five thousand pages long–but I feel I need to mention how Young doesn’t skip out on the character development of any of the side characters as well. I’ve truly finished this book with several new favorite characters who will stay with me for years to come.

                In conclusion, I give Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young four and a half out of five stars for being an exciting, action packed piece of YA historical fiction, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new book to read–but especially to anyone who enjoys the history of the vikings. I can’t wait to see what else Adrienne Young comes out with in the future.

If you would like to purchase Sky in the Deep

Book Depository

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

-CG

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Book Review

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

By Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman

WARNING: Spoilers for City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

 

Details:


Title: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy


Author: Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman 


Page Count: 672


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderly Books

 

 

Summary:

After being stripped of his memories in City of Heavenly Fire, Simon Lewis goes back to being a normal mundane who knows nothing about the hidden world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders he was once a part of. He remembers he was once friends with Clary, and somehow dated Isabelle Lightwood, but has no idea what happened between them all. Every time he faces his old friends, Simon feels as if he’s letting everyone down by not being the man they knew and loved.

With the re-opening of the Shadowhunter Academy, Simon decides throws himself back into the world of demons and monsters by training to become a Shadowhunter in hope of finding himself again. The Academy is basically a functioning ruin with many, many problems as all the new students are bound to discover, but for Simon it is his chance to bring back who he once was. With a mixture of old favorites as well as several new characters, exciting adventures are bound to occur in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy.

My Review:  

          I was somewhat cautious going into Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy because Cassandra Clare was not the only author, but I must say I was relieved to find that almost every story had a similar voice to Clare’s past works. There were ten stories in total, and I’d be lying if I said I loved them all equally–some were better than others. Each story followed Simon throughout his time at the Academy and built up to the final story with their own separate arcs. I particularly loved how a majority of the stories offered flashbacks to characters that readers previously met in The Infernal Devices. I felt like the anthology really connected and added something to the Shadowhunter world as a whole rather than being a separate, stand alone collection. My personal favorite from the collection is the final story, “Angels Twice Descending”, because I loved how it combined aspects of all of the stories as well as the twist at the end in which Simon must face  a tragedy which follows Clare’s trend of ripping out and stomping on the hearts of all of her readers. I also have to give an honorary mention to “The Whitechapel Field” because it was about Jack the Ripper, a Shadowhunter world version of Jack the Ripper! My least favorite was probably “The Lost Herondale” because I kind of spoiled myself by reading Lady Midnight before Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which revealed who the lost Herondale is, and it is not as interesting to me as the other stories, but I like how Catarina was more prominent in it than she is in the other stories. I believe all the stories flowed well together, and it really makes me want to read the other Shadowhunter anthology, The Bane Chronicles.

One particular thing I believe the authors of Tales from the Shadowhunter academy did well is blend the old characters with fresh new faces. Sure, I loved how my old favorites like Magnus, Alec, Jace, Izzy, Clary, and etc. showed back up, but I really loved a majority of the new characters introduced to us at the academy. There’s two main groups at the academy: those with shadowhunter blood, and mundanes who are training to be worthy of becoming shadowhunters by drinking from the Mortal Cup. My personal favorites from the mundane group are George Lovelace and Marisol Garza. I loved George from the very first story when he and Simon are freaking out over a rat in their room, and I came to love Marisol throughout the story because I found she had some of the best character development. My favorite from the Shadowhunter group has to be Beatriz Mendoza because, unlike the rest of her group, she does not look down upon downworlders or the mundanes who are at the academy. Instead, she stands behind them and defends them. My least favorite of the new characters has to be Jon Cartwright–not because his character is terribly written–but because he’s pretty much a terrible person until the last two stories. I’m really glad that Clare chose to continue Simon’s story in this anthology because he really got the short end of the stick in City of Heavenly Fire. We get to see the ‘new’ Simon develop throughout the story and go from being confused about his place in the world, to forging his own path without his past holding him back. All in all I was pleased with the characters, both old and new, throughout the novellas, and I can’t wait to see more of them in future novels.

 

               In conclusion, I give Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy four out of five stars for being a delightful addition to The Shadowhunter Chronicles as well as introducing several new characters I have grown to love. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Cassandra Clare’s work, as long as they have read the entirety of The Mortal Instruments series as well as The Infernal Devices trilogy.

If you would like to purchase Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Book Depository

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

-CG

History is All You Left Me – Book Review

History is All You Left Me

By Adam Silvera

 

Details:

Title: History is All You Left Me

Author: Adam Silvera

Page Count: 320

Publisher: SOHO Teen

Publication Date: January 17th, 2017

 

 

 
Synopsis:  

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life (Goodreads Summary).

My Review:  

           Before reading History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, I didn’t understand why people enjoy reading books despite knowing they’re sad, but I leave this novel with a whole new perspective.

History is All You Left Me is such beautifully tragic story…and I’m pretty sure it gave me emotional whiplash; I’d go from crying, to laughing, to crying again in a matter of seconds. Silvera does such a fantastic job in using his characters to further the emotions and the narrative of the story, and although the story is meant to be all of the character’s ‘histories,’ I can feel and hear Silvera’s voice through the pages, leading me to believe this story is more personal than he’s letting on.

The characters themselves are real and raw and unafraid to flaunt their flaws. I found myself loving Griffen, Theo, Wade, and Jackson by the end. The main protagonist, Griffen, took me a while to warm up to due to some rather interesting choices he makes, but I ultimately enjoyed how vulnerable he is, and how the entire story is told through his ‘histories’ of his now deceased first love, Theo, and how he is ‘today.’ Silvera writes him as depressed as well as gives him a few little quirks like slight OCD that really make his character all the more real for the reader. Theo is the kind of character that I still have so many questions about despite the story being over because we only learn about him through others’ experiences, and I can’t tell if I enjoy that or not. He’s described as very geeky and the perfect complement, but I can’t help but feel like there’s something important about him that we still don’t know, I felt Jackson is a very interesting character being Theo’s most recent boyfriend, and think he played a big roll in pushing the story forward. Lastly,  Wade is a complete and utter cinnamon bun. He’s not the most important character, but he’s still necessary to the story, and I love how he is so caring and patient and accepting of the fact that his two best friends are in love with each other. History is truly a character driven story at its core, and  I highly doubt it would have come across as impeccably as it does without such string, well written characters.

What I believe truly sets History is All You Left Me apart from other contemporaries is that it’s such a wonderful representation of the LGBT community and it deals with grief in such a unique and interesting way. It doesn’t play to any stereotypes or feel forced, which helps readers outside of the community understand and develop there own feelings. In terms of grief, most contemporaries like to keep a lighthearted feeling thought a novel, but Silvera is unafraid to dive deep and make the reader hurt. I just found History to be such a unique and delightful change from normal contemporaries, and am glad to have finally read it.

In conclusion, I give History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera four out of five stars for being beautifully written, unafraid to test the boundaries of YA contemporaries, and a wonderful representation of the LGBT community. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a diverse read or anyone who’s looking to have a good, ugly cry.

If you would like to purchase History is All You Left Me

Book Depository

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

-CG

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – ARC Review

Renegades

By Marissa Meyer

 

Details:


Title: Renegades


Author: Marissa Meyer


Page Count: 576


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends


Pub. Date: November 7th, 2017



Synopsis:


Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

 

My Review:  

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with ARC of Renegades through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

            With a vague synopsis that didn’t give me much aside from Sky High (an old Disney channel original movie) vibes, I didn’t know quite what I was in for when I started reading Renegades, but I put my faith in Marissa Meyer’s very capable hands, and I shall never doubt her skills again.

            I can’t say too much about the plot since this is an ARC review and I don’t want to spoil anything, but it was very well written, action packed, and unpredictable. It’s one of those stories that begins in the middle of the action–literally starting in an assassination attempt–and I think it works very well for Renegades because it sets the pace for the rest of the story. The first few chapters read slightly slower than the rest of the book, but from the moment Nova decides that she is going to act as a double agent for the Anarchists by entering the trials to become a Renegade, I found myself sucked in and unable to put it down, constantly being hit with twists and turns as soon as I started to believe I had figured it out. I must say that the plot twist at the end truly shocked me, and I can’t believe I have to wait so long to see what happens next!

            Meyer’s vivid descriptions throughout the novel really help to transport the reader into the world of Renegades and Anarchists. She not only gives a fantastic visual description of Gatlon City including everything from the Renegades’ headquarters, to the Anarchists’ subway tunnels, to every individual street vendor’s cart and product which makes the city come alive in our minds, but also describes the city’s rich history with the Age of Anarchy and the Battle for Gatlon which allows us to truly feel and sense the tension and uneasiness present in the city. The only thing I wish she had included more of was the history of how prodigies came to be because I thought that their powers were one of the coolest aspects in the story, and she could have expanded more on them.

            There is an expansive list of characters in Renegades which is already hard to keep track of, but with many of them being either superheroes or villains, a lot of them have aliases which makes it even more difficult! For the first few chapters I found myself unable to tell who was who or who had what powers, but eventually got the hang of it. I really enjoyed Nova and Adrian, the two main characters, and thought that Meyer did a good job in giving them interesting backstories which connected to their internal drives. Nova is an Anarchist who wants to destroy the renegades because of what they did to her uncle and possesses the power to put anyone she touches to sleep, and Adrian is a Renegade who wants to find the Anarchists responsible for murdering his mother and has the ability to make anything he draws come to life. Of course there is a bit of romance between the two of them, but it isn’t instalove, and I really enjoyed the way Meyer incorporated it into the story as to make it not feel forced. The POV switches between them throughout the story, giving the reader the point of view of both an Anarchist and a Renegade, allowing them to decide which side they believe to be in the wrong. Aside from the main characters I must say I found the rest to be a bit lacking. Some of them had half-decent back stories and character development, as if some were just lost or forgotten along the way. I did enjoy the Anarchist entourage of Ingrid, Lyon, Phobia, and Honey–I just wish there was more of them, and as for the Renegades, I felt that a few of the characters were present only for their powers. Overall, I believe Meyer did a good job with her characters.

                In conclusion, I give Renegades by Marissa Meyer four out of five stars for being a fantastic, action-packed start to a new series, and I highly suggest it to anyone who’s a fan of YA, but especially to fans of D.C., Marvel, and superheroes in general. Also, there’s a pre-order promotion going on, so if you send in proof of your pre-order to the publisher HERE you can get either a Renegade or Anarchist button pack–and you get to pick! 

 

If you would like to pre-order Renegades

Book Depository

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

-CG

 

Mini Reviews – Volume One

Hey guys! I thought since I don’t always have time to write full length reviews for every book I read and I have some books that I just didn’t write enough notes on for a full length review, that I’d start a series on my blog where I post little mini reviews for books I’ve recently read. Here’s volume one of my mini reviews–I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of each of these books by the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

SynopsisA magically inspiring tale of a man who is reincarnated through many lifetimes so that he can be with his one true love: Death herself.

What if you could live forever—but without your one true love? Reincarnation Blues is the story of a man who has been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times, in search of the secret to immortality so that he can be with his beloved, the incarnation of Death. Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut in this darkly whimsical, hilariously profound, and wildly imaginative comedy of the secrets of life and love. Transporting us from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day, is a journey through time, space, and the human heart.

My ThoughtsJust from reading the summary of Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore, I could tell it was going to be a story unlike any other I’d read before, and it did not disappoint. We, the readers, get to experience all of Milo’s 9,995 lives on his quest for perfections, and the variety of fuck ups that occur along the way. I especially loved how the stories of his lives weren’t told in chronological order and differed in length, although I did find some to drag on longer then others. The book itself has a very unique sense of humor in the writing, and I think Poore does a fantastic job of expressing that humor through Milo and creating a character that every reader can come to love and feel sympathy for. I also thought that the romance between Milo and Death–I mean Suzie–was really unique in the way that they’ve been together for several thousand years, but are only able to be with each other in between Milo’s lives. All in all I give Reincarnation Blues four out of five stars for being fun, quirky, and unique, but also slow at times. I highly recommend Reincarnation Blues to fans of sci-fi and fantasy who are looking for something fresh and new and exciting. (PS: Do you see how gorgeous that cover is?!)

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

Synopsis:Danielle effed up. Big time. 

Danielle’s plans for the future were all figured out… until she failed senior English and her single college acceptance was rescinded. Determined to get her life back on track, Danielle enrolls in her hometown community college with a plan: pass English and get back into Ohio State—and her mother’s good graces. Romance isn’t on her radar… until she reconnects with her childhood crush and golden boy next door, Luke. 

Between family drama, first love and finding her own way, Danielle can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Thankfully she has her friendship with the snarky and frustratingly attractive Porter, her coworker at the campus bookstore, to push her to experience new things and help keep her afloat.
One thing’s for sure: This time, failure’s not an option.

My Thoughts: Maggie Ann Martin does a fantastic job of including all the the classic YA contemporary romance cliches that we’ve all come to know in love in The Big F, but altering them ever so slightly to give it a completely different feel from most other YA high school romances. The closest thing that I feel I can compare it to is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell because both Daniella and Kath are college freshmen, but thats pretty much where the similarities end. It was such a fun, quick read that I highly enjoyed–I especially loved the theme of failure and how it doesn’t mean the end of the world. The story itself was intriguing, but it was the characters who truly brought the story to life for me. Dani being fresh out of high school instead of 16 or 17 was what really made this story unique for me. The way Martin wrote her was so realistic, and I found myself connecting to her trough out the story. Luke is the classic, adorable boy next door, and I loved him to pieces. I liked how the boy next door cliche wasn’t the main focus of the story, but rather a tool used to push along the main plot. Zoe is one of the greatest best friends a girl can have, and I honestly wish that I could reach through the pages and pull her into my life to help me out during times of crisis. Porter reminds me so much of a lot of my guy friends who constantly like to push my buttons, but are always sweet and charming when they need to be–and I absolutely loved him! Martin did a fantastic job in writing relatable characters who develop well throughout the story, and find a special place in the reader’s heart. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin, and give it four out of five stars. I recommend this book to any high school junior or senior who’s worried about the future, or anyone who wants a fresh take on the classic YA romance.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Synopsis: Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

My ThoughtsI will admit that going into Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, I didn’t really know what it was going to be about and I didn’t think I would like it, but after finishing it I want to go up to every other girl in my high school and force them to read it so they can feel as empowered as I did directly after finishing it. Moxie is the story of a girl named Vivian who is done with the sexist way of thinking that her town runs on, so she creates a zine after being inspired by her mom’s old things and basically starts a revolution. I absolutely love Vivian, and how realistic she is compared to other main characters of YA contemporaries. She’s passionate and zealous and perfect to lead the feminist uprising at her high school. I liked her love interest, Seth, and I thought that the addition of romance was fun to read, but I don’t believe it was necessary. It neither added nor took away from the plot as a whole. Moxie also rape/sexual assault which I feel like is seen as a taboo subject in YA literature, so I’m glad Mathieu included it. Overall I give Moxie 4.5 out of 5 stars for being full of such great and important messages such as fighting against injustice, girls helping girls, feminism, and so many more. I believe that this is such an important novel that women of all ages, but especially younger girls, should read to feel empowered and like a boss.

So these are all of my mini reviews I have for y’all at the moment. If you have any thoughts on these books or book suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments–I’d love to talk about books with you!

-CG

I Don’t Make Mistakes – A Short Story by Cg Marinelli

I know I’m a little late on this (a little late meaning a month and a half late), but I finally have something that I’ve written that I deem worthy enough to post. Be warned that I have no editor, I probably do have a couple of errors here or there, and that I’m not a professional. Please enjoy and leave me comments on what you like and what you think I can improve on; constructive criticism is extremely helpful. Thank you, CG.

 

I Don’t Make Mistakes

 

Sitting in the questioning room of the FBI headquarters with my hands cuffed to the table, I remained stoic as I faced their best, Special Agent Nathan Shaw, face to face.
“You want to know something Agent Shaw, I’ve never believed in psychology, never will. The whole idea that you can learn everything about someone by simply observing them is just a man’s fantasy. Like right now, you’re observing my actions, and deciding whether or not I’m capable of murder.”
“Mr. Mullins, or can I call you Edward? Ed? You know what, I’m actually just going to stick with Mullins. We don’t even need to decide if you’re guilty or not. There was substantial forensic evidence proving that you were at every scene of every crime, and we matched the mark burned into the victim’s flesh matched the design on your ring.” I removed the ring from my left hand middle finger and spun it on the table. It was my great grandfather’s, and had our family crest stamped into the flat top of the platinum band.
“It seems almost animalistic doesn’t it. All those people, their wrists bound to their ankles, stabbed several times, all non fatal, branded with some sort of seal, throats slit, mounted to the walls of their homes…” I looked off to the side of Agent Shaw’s head and remembered their faces as I pressed my scorching ring into their flesh, marking them permanently.
“Is that a confession Mullins?” Shaw raised an eyebrow, almost daring me to confess, and I’m not one to back down.


“You tell me, Agent Shaw. You were the one to tell me that I was present at every murder, and that my ring is responsible for branding the victims.”
“That’s true, and we’ve discovered something else. The actual murder weapon, a small little pocket knife used to slit their throats, was found in a hidden compartment of your desk drawer.”
“Is that so? Hmm, then why am I here Agent Shaw? Why haven’t you just thrown me into the slammer like you do your other suspects?”
“Because, now that we have the murder weapon, we have the proof, I want to know your motive. Why’d you do it Mullins? There has to be some kind of explanation.”
“Look at me Agent Shaw, what do you see?”
“I see a young man with a brilliant mind who’s wasted all of his potential.”
“No, you see a small, frail, seemingly weak man, who looks like the kid all the bullies beat up at lunch.” At this, Shaw remained silent, observing me, so I continued. “I never fit in anywhere, you know. Not with the jocks, not with the goths, the hippies, the theater kids, not even with the nerds! No, to be seen with me was social suicide. The first time I killed someone I was fifteen. Only fifteen. And it was an accident. I was in the parking lot after hours, my mom had forgotten to pick me up again. My bully at the time, Buzz Jackson, saw me all alone sitting on a bench and decided to give me some company. As soon as I saw him headed towards me I got up off the bench and sprinted away, but Buzz, being the all star track athlete he is, oh forgive me, I mean was, caught up in no time. I looked behind me and saw that he was only an arm’s length away, so I shoved him back, very lightly, but it was enough to do the trick. He fell back, and conked his head on the hard concrete ground. Buzz never got back up.  I began to panic, although underneath my outward projection of panic, I felt a sense of power and pride. I ran from the school, all the way to my home, which was several miles away, and stayed there faking sickness for several days. Luckily, because my school was so dirt poor there were no security cameras to prove that I was there, and no witnesses to recount what happened, so Buzz’s death was deemed an accident. It wasn’t like anyone would believe that I, a weak little looser, would have the guts or power to take in Buzz. Killing Buzz showed me that having control over another’s life makes the normally powerless feel powerful. I’ve discovered that I like that feeling very much. And I didn’t feel any remorse for killing Buzz, the same way I didn’t feel any remorse for any single one of my ‘victims’. Every single one of them committed a crime much worse than I. Infidelity, adultery, and several others. You name it and I can guarantee that one of my ‘victims’ has done it.” Agent Shaw just sat across from me contemplating everything I’d just told him.
“How? How can you go through your daily life like you’ve done nothing, when in reality you killed thirteen people that I know of? Just talking to your sick psychotic ass for the past half hour I get the feeling that there are more that we haven’t even discovered.” At this comment, I started laughing my “sick psychotic ass” off.
“The reason, Agent Shaw, I can go around my daily life acting like I’ve done nothing wrong, is because I truly haven’t. If you think that ridding the world of terrible people is a crime, then I believe that you are the one in the wrong here. I’ve done more to help the world in my mere twenty three years of life than you ever will Agent Shaw.”
“Those people had families, Mullins. People who loved them. People who will miss them.” I just scoffed in response. Not a single person I killed deserved to be here, to breathe the same air as us decent people. No, they all deserved to burn in hell; exactly where I put them.
From under the table he brought out a thick, two inch file, filled to the brim with what I believed to be information from the Crenshaw Falls murders case. He plucked three photographs from the file, and laid them face down on the table before I could catch a full glimpse to see who they are of.
“Well Mullins, I think you’ll remember this guy.” Shaw flipped over one of the photographs to reveal a picture of the CEO of Bankers International, Jack Knox.
“Oh yes, Jack. I remember his very well. Cried the whole time if  I remember correctly, or at least cried until I slit his throat and spilled his blood all over the floor.” Shaw visibly cringed at my comment. I knew I was starting to get to him.
“What exactly did Mr. Knox do to qualify to be one of your victims?”
“Oh, you don’t know? I would assume the FBI would be all over this case?
“Just shut up and answer my questions Mullins.”
“This year alone, he’s stolen over five million dollars from account holders of Bankers International. That more than qualifies him to be one of my victims.” I rolled my eyes. I know they’re just playing with me now. I’ve already confessed and everything. Now all I need is for them to print it in the news, and I’ll get all the credit I deserve. For the people to appreciate what I’ve done for them; the sacrifices I’ve made.
“What about him.” He flips over the second photograph to a young boy, merely twelve years old.
“Oh look, it’s little Johnny.”
“Are you telling me that this kid, this innocent little boy, has somehow wronged the world already?”
“He’s done more wrong than many full grown adults, Agent Shaw. Abandoned by his parents at age six, Johnny hopped from foster home to foster home, until he made a run for it a few months ago. That’s when he made the mistake of trying to pick-pocket me. I was just minding my own business, waiting for my bus at the stop, when I felt someone reach into my back pocket, and try to take my wallet. Now, agent Shaw, I can be a very tolerant guy, especially when it comes to kids, so I let him off with a warning. I told him that if I ever caught him again, he’d pay for it, and lo and behold, not even a month later, I catch him trying to sneak his hand back into my back pocket.  This made me very mad. And what made me even more mad was seeing sweet, little Johnny beating up some poor, tiny kid in front of the bus stop. I understand that he was an orphaned foster kid and all, but the kid had to learn that sometimes you have to pay the price for the things you do. So the next time I saw him waiting outside the bus stop, I offered to pay him fifty dollars if he helped me move some furniture from my apartment to my mom’s house. Poor kid just wanted to make a few bucks, and ended up choking on his own severed tongue.”
“You murdered a young, orphaned boy who just wanted to get by because he tried to steal a couple dollars from you?”
“Why yes, I believe that’s a very justified reason.”
“You are one sick bastard Mullin: a psychotic serial killer and a child murderer.”
“This topic really seems to hit a nerve with you Agent Shaw, got any kids of your own?” I knew asking this would piss him off, but I just couldn’t resist.
This seemed to set Shaw off. He grabbed me by my collar and pulled me very close to him.
“Now you listen to me you little punk. Sarah has nothing to do with this, so let’s just get back on topic.” He released me and I fell back into my chair.
“Ooohhh, so I did guess correctly.” Shaw didn’t respond, instead he flipped over the last picture left on the table.
“Mullins, what if I told you that, once, you got it wrong.” He slid the picture across the table. It was of a beautiful, middle aged woman with warm, hazel eyes and long, chestnut locks.
“Oh I remember her; she was lots of fun. She was one of my first. Her name was Nancy, Nancy Stewart. The whole time she was screaming for a man named George.” I paused to laugh. “Not even at death did she want her husband.”
“Are you sure? Because our squints back at the lab checked her dental records. They belonged to a Mrs. Sally Jensen.” I stopped laughing.
“Then your “squints” must’ve gotten it wrong.” I said forcefully. “Her name was Nancy Stewart, and she was a worthless whore that didn’t deserve to live. That is my job, you see. To purge this world of the evil which makes it impure. To be the savior of the people.”
Agent Shaw slowly leaned in, and whispered in my ear, “My squints don’t make mistakes. She was Sally Jensen. Mother of two, wife to George Walter Jensen, and she has never stolen, never slept with a man other than her husband, and never did anything that would give her the same qualities as your other victims. She was clean and pure, and you took her life away, and when we print it in the paper and broadcast it to the news that Edward Mullins was the psychotic killer responsible for the Crenshaw Fall’s murders the people won’t view you as their savior. No, they’ll view you as some crazy ass bastard who went off on a killing spree.” Hearing this enraged me. I do not make mistakes, and I will not be known as the crazy guy who killed a couple of people.
With all the strength I could muster up, I tilted my head back, and drove it straight into Shaw’s nose with as much force as I could. Blood began spurting from his nostrils, and I knew it would only be seconds before officers would be on me. I stood up and pulled at my hands, still cuffed to the table, in an effort to get them out. Five officers burst into the room, and one of them hit me in the lower back with his baton. I dropped to my knees and arched my back in pain. While I was on the floor, they uncuffed my hands from the table, only to re-cuff them behind my back. They began to drag me out, but I thrashed and wiggled. There was no way they were taking me without a struggle.
I looked over my shoulder back towards Shaw who was in the back left hand corner of the room clutching his nose. I stopped my struggling to say one last thing to Shaw before I was locked up for the rest of eternity, “I AM THE MESSIAH! I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE, AND THEY WILL SEE THAT! I DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES! MY SOLE PURPOSE IS TO RID THE WORLD OF THE EVIL THAT POLLUTES IT, AND THAT EVIL IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU, AGENT SHAW.”