8

[DNF ARC REVIEW] Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1

Rating: None

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Description:

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

My Thoughts: 

“I did not set out to ruin my sister’s debut.”

DNF AT 16%

 Oh, boy. This totally sucks. I saw this up on Netgalley and immediately requested it when I first signed up for the site. The cover is stunning, and the summary was just so intriguing that I couldn’t help it. I was so surprised to be approved for this one since it seemed like literally everyone was clamoring for an ARC of this, and I didn’t consider myself too popular in the book blogging world at the time.

 Unfortunately, this one just really let me down, and after trying to read this for so long, I ended up just giving up on this one for numerous reasons.

 1. This is a historical fantasy. I love fantasy, okay? Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, even though I haven’t really read it too much this year (and I must solve that problem). But, this is historical fantasy. I really don’t like historical fiction, personally, so seeing this was basically just court politics that took place in Hungary around the 1800s except with magic made me extremely disappointed. And I’m not a fan of court politics either, so that didn’t really help things.

 2. I didn’t care about any of the characters. So we have the main character, who was easily forgettable and boring that I didn’t even remember her name until I read the summary of this book again (her name’s Anna, apparently). We also have Catherine, who is stereotypically the mean older sister who’s catty towards our main character. And that’s as far as I got to. I mean, there are some other adults who only seem to exist to dump exposition and leave, and we also get to meet Freddy, who’s her temporary suitor in the beginning of the book, and, again, bland and lifeless and boring and sort of an asshole, and I just didn’t care.

 3. It was incredibly slow-moving. I just couldn’t handle how bored and uninterested I was throughout the entire thing, even from the beginning. It’s never a good sign when a book can’t capture you from the first pages. I know I’ve said this already, but it’s just so disappointing, because I was so hyped for this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. I tried so hard to get into this one, multiple times, but there was nothing in the chapters that kept me going, and I didn’t feel like suffering.

(Also, this book is nothing like Red Queen. So, there’s that.)

 All in all, after seeing so many other people not finishing this book as well at a later point than I could ever attempt to reach and seeing several others who actually finished the book and still didn’t like it, I decided to just go ahead and join them. I really don’t recommend this one, but, again, I’m never one to dissuade someone from reading a book they’re excited in, so feel free to check it out if it really interests you!

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A huge thanks to Random House Children’s for giving me an ARC of this book via Netgalley! I’m so sorry I couldn’t finish it, but it means a lot to me that I received it for free.

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Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Feel free to talk to me in the comments!

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37

[LET’S CHAT] The Graveyard of Ugly Book Covers

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Ah, yes, it’s that wonderful time where we talk about ugly book covers. You might’ve heard that popular saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but, as bookworms, we know that is a total lie. We judge books by their covers, sometimes even buy books based off their covers, and will complain if they look in the least bit ugly. And we all know the Curse of the Ugly Cover, and, usually, they can be categorized in five groups.

I know that I usually post reviews on these days, but I was too lazy to write up a review over the weekend, and I had this post that wasn’t really scheduled for a date or anything, so I thought, “Why not go ahead and post it?” So, here’s me breaking my sacred schedule.

Also, I’m using the Slideshow format, so, hopefully, this won’t look like trash. Fingers crossed!

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Ah yes, the original covers of books a.k.a. Publishers Were Really Obsessed With Faces and Cover Models. You might be surprised to know that John Green has gone through a crap-ton of cover changes concerning his first three books, but he has, and BOY, are they disappointing. No wonder nobody picked up his books until The Fault in Our Stars was published.

(Just kidding; I love you John Green.)

Then, of course, we have 2012, which you might remember as the Year We Thought The World Was Going To End, but was really the Year Cover Design Artists Didn’t Even Try. I mean, seriously, what is up with these badass ladies posing like they’re about to take their prom pictures? Why would anyone want to pick up these books?

Fortunately, they have gone through vigorous cover changes, and we have now reached peak level of gorgeousness, as seen in the slideshow below. Make sure you don’t become blinded by the beauty!

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“I absolutely LOVE these books covers,” you say as you read your favorite book series.

“Oh, really?” the publishers respond as they contact a new cover designer to EFF UP THE BEAUTIFUL COVERS.

Seriously, what is this mess? Why are you changing the beauty of the original covers? Who do you think you’re appealing to? AT LEAST DO A SURVEY BEFORE YOU JUST LAUNCH NEW UGLY COVERS MY WAY! WHY IS IT SO HARD TO ASK FOR OPINIONS?

But, seriously. I find it highly concerning that publishers just change the book covers without even taking some sort of consumer report, since bookworms are easily reachable and we are literally the ones buying the books. Covers mean a lot, and I know publishers are well aware of that since they change covers all the time, so why do they change the covers of books that are selling well, and close to series’ completion? Why do they make the gorgeous cover out of print? Why do they change the books mid-series so I’m forced to re-purchase the previous ones in the series? WHY?

A moment of silence for the beautiful old covers that died for the ugly new ones. I highly recommend listening to this song by Lindsey Stirling to set the mood.

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Okay, for some reason, publishers went through this awful phase where they assumed bookworms liked seeing blown up faces on covers. Newsflash: we don’t, and we never have. There’s just something about seeing a close-up of a face that’s just a complete turn-off for readers, and, thankfully, the trend seems to have died over the years, but R.I.P. all the books that could have had beautiful covers if they were published recently.

Also, three of these covers went through changes, and, unfortunately, Vampire Academy suffers yet again. All Richelle Mead wants is a beautiful cover! Why does she have to suffer like John Green used to?

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Sometimes, the U.K. can definitely beat us at gorgeous covers that I lust for, but sometimes, they just fall flat. Have I already expressed my distaste for the U.K. editions of all of V.E. Schwab’s books? Because they are so god-awful compared to the beauty of the U.S. editions that I almost feel bad. The covers look so busy and boring and less minimalist than the U.S. covers. Not to mention how bland the ACOTAR trilogy looks. WHY DOES THAT AWFUL SHADE OF GREEN EXIST? WHY DOES THE ACOMAF BACKGROUND LOOK SO BORING?

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Of course, besides fangirls and bookworms alike being robbed by horrible book-to-movie adaptations, we are also greatly rewarded with ugly movie tie-in covers with stickers that ruin the book and are almost impossible to remove!

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(Somebody please help us.)

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And that’s it for my rant on ugly covers! I hope any of you guys found that slightly interesting or funny (I’m neither in real life). I’m absolutely loving these Let’s Chats, and this is my first time using the Slideshow format, so I hoped you like it. I thought it was the best post to use it for since the pictures sizes were all over the damn place.

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Do you agree with my least favorite covers? Are there any that I missed out? 

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30

[DISCUSSION] Do We Put Too Much Stock in Reviews?

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Yes, it’s that time of the month. That time for my monthly discussion (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do on this blog). Most of these topics (okay, pretty much ALL of these topics) stem from something that has personally bothered me, and I’ve always wanted to hear what other people think about it, because I can’t be the only one, right? And today’s topic is one that I guess is sort of close to my heart, and it’s putting too much stock into other people’s reviews.

(Also, this topic has zero to do with people who still read books that have been called out for being problematic because they want to check it out for themselves. That’s a whole load of BS, but it’s not the point I’m trying to make.)

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I first noticed this problem on Goodreads. Take Goodreads user Emily May. She’s probably one of the biggest and most influential voices on the site, who has the maximum amount of friends and is followed by tens of thousands. People anxiously await what she’ll have to say about upcoming releases. Back when I had a Goodreads account, I followed her. She’s an honest reviewer, and I always know that I’m listening to an opinion that I trust who doesn’t just needlessly snark on every single book they read (cause there are way too many people like that on Goodreads). So, of course, I saw her positive reviews, and her negative reviews.

Nothing is wrong with Emily’s negative reviews. I think most of her criticisms are fair and she doesn’t completely destroy books just because she might hate them. I can disagree with her, and I don’t feel like I’m trash for liking something, like some Goodreads users might make you feel about liking a book they hate. But I noticed a trend that I really hated once the comments started rolling in. There’d always be one person, or even several who said some sort of variation of, “Oh, no, this was one of my most anticipated releases this year! Ah, well, guess I have to take this off my TBR!” 

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For some reason, that statement always rubbed me wrong. Just because one reviewer, even one that you trust, doesn’t like a book you were excited for, that means you won’t pick it up? That means there’s no possible way that you could ever like this and disagree? You won’t even give it a try? And all because of someone’s opinion? And then I realized that this happens a lot, for a whole slew of popular users. Which, of course, made me wonder why.

From my personal experience, I used to do this a lot. I was obsessed with Goodreads, which is funny to look back on. I would try so hard to gain a lot of friends, to get likes on my reviews, etc. If one of my more popular friends hated a book, or rated it one or two stars, I completely ignored it. If they didn’t like, then I obviously wouldn’t like it, right?

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One of the biggest examples of this was with City of Bones. The series was quickly gaining popularity, and I wanted to check it out and see it for myself. Of course, I went to Goodreads, and was met with negative review after negative review after negative review, all saying it was a clear rip-off of the Harry Potter series. I decided to completely denounce the series and vowed that I’d never pick it up. Only a couple of weeks later, I actually read a sample of the first book. I devoured it. It ended on a mini cliffhanger, and I just had to know what would happen next. And before I knew it, I had bought the books that had already come out, I was reading them one after another, and I was completely and totally obsessed. Now I consider Cassandra Clare one of my favorite authors, and I’ve (almost) read all her books. I would’ve missed out on one of my favorite series just because I saw a large majority of negative reviews and believed them all without reading them for myself. 

Last year, in the month of October, I deleted my account for a multitude of reasons. But I remember how happy and how much lighter I felt that I could read any book I wanted without feeling like I had to adhere to popular opinion. Maybe not all people feel this way, but I did, and it’s so much better to go into books without feeling bad for swaying one way or another, maybe even going against the flow. Red Queen was a book I read two summers ago and fell in love with. It got me back into reading, and everyone on Goodreads slaughtered it, making me feel sort of bad for liking it. And with Throne of Glass, where I might’ve skipped out on it if I hadn’t read a sample on iBooks and loved Sarah J. Maas’s writing. And, probably a whole slew of other books like All the Missing Girls and All Is Not Forgotten and The Cursed Child. Like, a lot of books. Not to mention that I hate a lot of books that Goodreads love, continually making me ask what was wrong with me, if I was missing something that was so obvious.

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Do I understand why people will take a book off their TBR because of seeing a negative review? Totally. Some people don’t have all the money in the world to buy books, and don’t feel like wasting money; some people just really trust that person; some people don’t feel like wasting their time; or maybe there’s some other mysterious reason as to why all their stock is put into one single reviewer. Even I myself have done it from time to time.

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BUT, I wish that sometimes, we as bookworms could be a bit more open-minded, and not completely close ourselves off from something just because a lot of people don’t like it. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it. Maybe it’ll be your new obsession. Maybe it’ll get you out of that reading slump or make you happier when you’re having a crap day. Let’s stop feeling so afraid to be in a little party of one, even if people might look at you as “less than” for it. 

(Trust me, someone will totally be there to fangirl with you. Always.)

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How do you feel about this topic? Do you feel like people put too much stock into other people’s reviews? What makes you take a book off your TBR (besides bad author behavior and being problematic)? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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26

[LET’S CHAT] Do We Have Influence As Book Bloggers?

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Okay, so, you guys really seemed to like my first ever edition of  Let’s Chat, which is awesome! I’m so glad to see you guys are pumped about this feature as much as I am! I was originally going to publish another Let’s Chat, but wanted to push it down later in favor of something else that I thought would be more interesting to talk about, and that’s the question in the title: do we really have that much influence as book bloggers?

This topic was mainly spurred by the huge announcement that Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give hit number one on the New York Times’ Bestseller List twice (which she totally deserves;  you can check out my long, gushing review it here). Of course, even though I was very excited for her, I realized something: Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark was second. SECOND.

I’m sure you’ve already heard that Carve the Mark was revealed to be racist and ableist, and there have been a multitude of Twitter threads and reviews calling the book out for this. Basically, the book blogging community banded together against it, because we, as a community, don’t believe these harmful books need to continue being published. Yet, it seems to not have really worked that because her book is still number two on the NYT Bestseller’s List, and will probably continue to be on there for a while. Maybe it’s because she’s a popular author already, so it doesn’t really matter what the community does, but it really begs the question: are we really influencing the reading community in general?

Now, I guess I could specifically pertain this to problematic books, but I want this to be a bit more generalized as a statement. There have been multiple times where book bloggers on Twitter or authors and such talk about an important topic in the book community that “goes viral,” in a way and gets everyone talking…but does it really? Because, yes, we’re re-tweeting and, yes, we’re participating in this discussion, and, hell yes, it’s important, but the only people listening are other book bloggers, and there’s a chance that we’ve already heard the same thing said by someone else, and then we go share it…to our followers, who are usually other book bloggers who’ve already seen it pop up in their timeline, and the cycle goes on.

I think this really old discussion from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner and the comments section (which I highly advise you to read because even though it might be irrelevant in some places, it’s still really interesting) really shows my point. Often times, on Goodreads or on Twitter or within our book blogging community, we talk about how a book is over-hyped and such because we seem to see it EVERYWHERE. But, from a regular old reader’s perspective, to someone who doesn’t know that book Twitter exists, or doesn’t use Goodreads, or doesn’t blog, they might have never heard of Caraval or The Hate U Give or The Raven Boys until they walked into the bookstore that day. Sometimes, only the fact that a book is becoming a movie is what pushes that author into incredible amounts of fame from “the outside,” much like what it did to John Green when The Fault in Our Stars movie adaptation was announced, and what it seems to be doing to Nicola Yoon and Everything, Everything (which is number three on the list, as you can see up there).

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And then back to the whole problematic books thing. Recently, The Black Witch has been called out for being racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist – you name it, the book probably has it. I’m going to leave some reviews here and here in case you want to read more in-depth about it. This recently started a conversation about how to deal with problematic books and how re-tweeting is never enough to spread the word, but then what is? Talking about it on my blog just alerts other bloggers who have probably already heard about the controversy and have sworn it off already. Talking about it on Goodreads just blasts the same thing to people who have already probably been exposed to it via their own circles. Sharing it on Twitter and Instagram is just sharing it to people who are already, in some way, inundated into the book community and have, again, probably heard the news. But what about people who just aren’t on any of those platforms? I’m sure a large majority of book bloggers aren’t going to read it and that’s cool and all, but that doesn’t stop a heck of a lot of readers who just occasionally go to a bookstore and pick up a book based off its pretty cover, who don’t look at outside influences, who aren’t part of the online book community. I mean, if Carve the Mark is sitting right next to an #ownvoices novel about the Black Lives Matter movement, have we really done anything at all? Will The Black Witch still be successful despite all the reviews and  Twitter threads?

And even talking about ARCs. Publishers give the most popular bloggers ARCs to get the word out there about their book. They’re out there to build up buzz and publicity. But, a large majority of the time, readers of blogs are usually other bloggers. Nine times out of ten, that book that popular blogger is advertising is one I’ve already seen popping up in my Reader or in my Twitter timeline or on my Instagram feed or even one I just tried to request on Netgalley, and there’s only so many times you can hear someone gush about a book before getting bored and skipping over every review of said book after reading just a couple of them. Are we really even generating buzz if that buzz is towards other bloggers?

Of course, this discussion seems to be super depressing and might imply that book bloggers are useless, but we aren’t (at least, I like to think we aren’t). I mean, authors think we’re cool enough to contact us if they need a boost or if they’re self-published. Publishers are nice enough to give us ARCs that are a lot of work to make, and that relationship didn’t come out of nowhere. We get to meet other bloggers and maybe gain new readers at places like Bookcon or Yallfest/Yallwest. We start important conversations that can take the blogging community by storm. We’ve been pushing for diversity and #ownvoices. We’ve managed to make some incredibly underrated authors/books popular. In some ways, our hard work is definitely paying off, and it shows me why I started my blog in the first place.

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For my fellow book bloggers, do you think you have a lot of influence in the reader community? For anyone who reads my blog and isn’t a book blogger (I don’t know if you guys exist lol), who influences you? For everyone, where do you get most of your bookish news or how do you hear about new books?

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13

[REVIEW + AUTHOR INTERVIEW] Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Follow Me Down

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 4 STARS

Description:

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

Follow Me Down is a rare find—a gutsy, visceral, and beautifully crafted psychological thriller.

My Thoughts:

“My first thought was my mother had started another fire.”

Nothing is better than reading a book that lives up to its gorgeous cover (LOOK AT IT. IT’S SO PRETTY). I am jealous of anyone who manages to get a hold of a physical copy of this book, since I only got an e-ARC. But I’m so glad that I received this one through Netgalley, because it was oh so good.

 (Also, stay tuned! I got the opportunity to interview the author, and it will be below the review!)

 I was definitely pulled into requesting this one because of the synopsis, and I’m so glad to say that it definitely delivered. I’m a huge fan of thrillers in which the main character used to live in a small town, and has no choice but to go back to the bad memories to solve a conflict, and this one definitely reminded me of why I’m such a huge fan of them. If you were a big fan of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, you’ll probably fall in love with this one like I did.

 The pacing of this book was A+. Once I started this book, I could barely put it down, especially near the halfway point where we kept discovering new things and clues kept popping up and I just absolutely needed to know what was going to happen next. Personally, I thought this book was pretty much perfectly-paced, and a fantastic balance between being extremely tense, but slowing it down when it was necessary. I thought the way that the entire case unfolded was quite realistic, especially regarding the police work (even though that 100% frustrated me to death that the police wouldn’t listen to Mia, I swear to God). Not to mention that I was completely mislead about where this book was going, and it’s always a mark in my book when a thriller can truly surprise me.

 The main character of this novel is Mia Haas, who was quite interesting. Usually, I’m not one to care too much about characters in thrillers, but who can resist a pharmacist who’s addicted to pills herself? I also really loved the relationships between her and her family, which was a great way to build character. Even though Lucas isn’t in the book too much, I definitely got that sort of twin bond between the two of them, and you could definitely feel the love that she had for her brother, which was what made her complex feelings towards the case so real. And we also get to see the complicated relationship between Mia and her mother growing up, and even in the present, which I really loved. A lot of relationships get explored often in thrillers – married couples, parents and their children, best friends, even siblings – but I’ve rarely seen such a huge focus on characters and their parents, and I really enjoyed it and thought it included a pretty interesting perspective.

 Overall, if the premise interests you and you love small towns with big secrets, you should 100% read this book!

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 I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley. A huge thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Sherri Smith for granting me a copy!

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 And now, for what you guys were waiting for! I got the opportunity to interview Sherri Smith for my blog, and it was so much fun (and my first ever author interview eep!)! She’s such a sweetheart, and I really enjoyed reading her answers, so I hope you enjoy the interview!

1. What made you want to write your first psychological thriller since your other published books are in different genres?

It was really a combination of things. I love reading about history, but when writing historical fiction I was getting snagged on the details too much. The research was grueling and I was way too preoccupied with getting the historical time period just right and writing quickly became too stifling and clinical for me. I’d get too panicky about all the wrong things and realized I was avoiding the story I’d been working on at the time and I knew it was time to move on. I wasn’t happy doing it.

As well, both of my historical fiction novels are a tad on the dark side, especially the second one, and they weren’t exactly fitting in with the expectations of the genre. So I’d been heading in this direction long before I realized it.

2. Following up with the first question: were there any particular books that inspired you to write this one?

Well, I was reading Laura Lippman’s Every Secret Thing when I had this ground-shifting revelation about my writing. I just fell in love with it. I knew this was what I wanted to be doing.

From there I read as much as possible in the genre. Gillian Flynn is also a major influence. I’m in awe of her novels, they just get everything right. Same as Tana French, Mo Hayder, Karin Slaughter and Chevy Stevens.

3. Small towns with a lot of secrets are becoming a sort of trend in thrillers that I’m really enjoying! How did you make your small town different than other thrillers’ small towns, and were there any books that inspired yours?

Good question! First, the city I live in is unique in the way that we don’t have a thriving downtown area. This is probably because we have long, killer winters with ice-slick roads, blistering windchills and snow-drifts so high that turning into traffic is a blind-gamble with your life. And so, this makes going too far out of the zone one lives in, well, unappealing. Don’t get me wrong, we’re a hardy people, we do go for leisure walks in blizzards, but just in our own areas, so we can make it back home via sheer muscle memory if necessary.  Anyway, this all plays into the feel of living in a very small town. So it’s certainly a setting I am familiar with.

As well, like you, I just love small town settings. The town in Sharp Objects was a huge inspiration; it was so recognizable to me. As well the small-town settings in Stephen King’s novels where you think you know everyone, because you see them every day. You get a little too comfortable with the people around you, that they won’t spill out of the box you expect them to stay in and when they do, it makes it all the more terrifying.

4. I though this book was quite dark, and I’ve always been a fan of dark thrillers. Was there anything special you had to do to write from such a dark place?

Not really. I think I just naturally lean that way. Maybe it’s an urge to make the incomprehensible, comprehensible.

5. Mia is quite the interesting character, and I loved following her story. What was it like getting into the headspace of Mia, especially with what she’s dealing with?

Thank-you! Going into Mia’s head wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I wished she’d share a few of her pills with me, to smooth out the ride, but I think with writing any character you just have to find the threads that connect with you. I have two brothers. Again the small town thing was familiar. I certainly share Mia’s sense of humor, especially how it buoys up when she’s feeling particularly low. I’m a laugh while you cry sort of person too. So I sort of took those commonalities and went from there. And while I wouldn’t necessarily do much of what she did in the book, her actions made sense to me.

6. I’ve always been fascinated by how authors come up with their ideas for their books. How did you get the idea for this novel?

Follow Me Down started with an image of a semi-rundown apartment block with a rusty look pool in the back. There’s a teen girl in the pool, floating on an air mattress. She has that look girls this age can have, a kind of mournful sadness. I kept wondering, who is this girl? Why is she so sad? Who did she lose? Does she belong there or not? From there, a plot and characters eventually swirled together in the right way.

7. I’ve always wanted to ask this question to an author of a thriller novel: Did the mystery and the conclusion of said mystery unfold in the final version of the novel like it did in the first draft, if there was one? Did anything change?

The ending kind of revealed itself through multiple drafts. While this might sound artsy, it’s not. I had a slew of competing ideas (because I am a really indecisive writer) of where I wanted it to go and one just simply won out. So things definitely kept changing as I wrote.

8. I found it really interesting how this book focused so heavily on mothers. What influenced the broken relationships between some of the characters and their mothers?

Such a good question! Having a bad parent can set you up for a certain level of adult misery. Or so I say, because I am an armchair psychologist and it seems like a given truth. Anyway, I am overly preoccupied with being a good mother in real life that it borders on neurotic, and so maybe it was a covert away to air out my anxieties of being a bad one.

As well, just like in real life, you only really feel like you know someone if you know a bit about their history. Why they act the way they do, how they acquired their worldview and so on. I wanted that level intimacy to be there with Mia. I wanted you to feel like you knew her, the way Lucas might have, and that way you would better sympathize with her journey.

9. Expanding more on the previous question (and because it was just so interesting), what was writing the relationship between Joanna and Kathy like?

It was a bit like taking an outsider’s view of Mia and Mimi’s relationship. It was that kind of mother-daughter relationship people would heavily suspect was off in some way, but wouldn’t challenge it because they didn’t know for sure. Is this mother just really, enthusiastically supportive of her daughter or is she controlling? I think we’ve all encountered these kinds of relationships that make us suspicious of something we can’t exactly put a finger on.

10. I see you’ve written two historical fiction novels. How different was it writing a thriller rather than a historical fiction novel, or were there no differences at all?

There was certainly far less research! I actually went out of my way to not research anything for Follow Me Down because I was so totally research-fatigued from my historical fiction novels.

There wasn’t much difference in trying to create good, strong characters because I think that’s every author’s approach, but coming up with a twisty plot was very different and one of my favorite parts. I love the puzzle aspect of trying to pull it all tighter and when it clicked, it was the best feeling!

11. What are some of your favorite authors that inspire you?

There are so many authors who inspire me. Honestly I could go on for days. Books are my life’s playlist, which author, what book I was obsessed with at any given time reflects a lot of what I was feeling in that period. But now, today, those obsessions are Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, Meg Abbott, Mo Hayder, Alex Marwood, Chevy Stevens, Hilary Davidson, Stephen King (always,) Gilly MacMillan. There’s more, but I’ll stop here.

12. Any books that you’d highly recommend everyone must read?

Well I’d have to split it into categories to a do a good job of it.  Such as, top recommended book to give you night terrors? The Silence of the Lambs.

Recommended magical realist book? One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Recommended unlikable characters with a cool plot twist? Nick and Amy in Gone Girl.

Recommended unreliable narrator? Briony in Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Recommended book with a clown? It by Stephen King

Recommended long-suffering artist biography? The Tragic Honest: The Life and Works of Richard Yates.

Recommended graphic novel? I don’t know, but I am loving iZombie on Netflix right now!

See? This could go late into the night, so I should probably stop now.

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Does this book interest you? If you’ve already read it, what did you think about it? What did you think about the author interview?

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2

[REVIEW] The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

the-roanoke-girls

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Adult

Series: None

Rating: 4 STARS

Description:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My Thoughts:

Well, THAT was certainly an experience. And probably one of the most messed up books I’ve ever read. And, let me tell you, I absolutely loved it. A little bit of a note: I know there are some people out there who want to know nothing going into a book, so I’ll tell you right now that if you don’t want any spoilers, just know that this book is wonderfully dark, but slow-moving, but also highly addictive. But, I am going to talk about this “dark secret,” mainly because it’s literally revealed in the third or fourth chapter, which is about 25-30 pages in? So, it really doesn’t matter. But, again, I know some people hate spoilers, so feel free to skip out on this review.

So, bye to the people who don’t want any spoilers!

 First off, this book was so dark. So incredibly dark. Like, “My Grandfather has sex with all the women part of the Roanoke family, and my Grandma knows about it and doesn’t care, and also, my Grandfather is totally a pedophile, and also I’m in an unhealthy relationship with a boy I had lusty sex with back when I was like, sixteen,” dark. And I absolutely loved it. I’m a huge fan of dark thrillers (this is probably why I have such an unhealthy obsession with Gillian Flynn and Nick Cutter), and this was definitely my taste. I know it definitely won’t feel that way for others, and it might be uncomfortable for some, but I just couldn’t stop reading. Not to mention this book made me have all the feelings, and, in my opinion, feelings always make me adore a book.

 In this book, we’re dealing with the mystery of Allegra, who is her “cousin,” but obviously not because her Grandfather is having sex with all of them, and then they’re having babies, so, probably not, but that’s not the point (in short, the way they’re all related is SO WEIRD, and I’m not even going to bother to figure it out). I will say, the mystery is very slow-moving, and it’s not even really towards the end that we’re really working hard on solving the mystery, but I didn’t really mind too much. I thought it was a sort of mix between a contemporary/literary fiction and a thriller, especially since we get to see the POV from Lane in the past when she’s sixteen, and in the present, and also a peek at the lives of the other missing/dead Roanoke girls, which is what made me devour this book.

 And we also get to see everything through the eyes of Lane, the main character, who I can’t really put my finger on. She frustrated me, but at the same time I really liked her? It’s all very confusing. I wouldn’t really call her a likeable character, in retrospect – and really not a sane one, either, to be honest – but she’s certainly an interesting one, and I really enjoyed seeing everything from her POV. It was a nice take on the “main character is forced to go back to a small town” trope, since for every one I read, I’m always faced with a different messed-up protagonist, and Lane’s a bit different, especially since she’s one of the few to sort of run away from the normal fate of the Roanoke girls.

 Also, there’s a romance? Or whatever you’d like to call it (I definitely don’t define it as one). It honestly seems like all kinds of unhealthy to me, and, like, two-thirds angry sex and hate, but, you know, I guess they’re meant to be because they can be messed up together? Honestly, every single relationship in this book was unhealthy in a way, so I guess you could say it really doesn’t matter in the end, right? RIGHT?

Also, a mini bravo to Engel for going from a YA dystopian novel to something as horrific as this. Like, hot damn. Welcome to the thriller crew, Engel; trust me, you fit right in with the big dogs.

 Overall, this was a dark mystery/contemporary that captivated me from the very first sentence. I highly recommend for those who are a fan of Gillian Flynn or just dark thrillers in general, much like me.let's chatHave you read this book yet? What did you think about it? Are you as much of a fan of dark thrillers as I am?

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