20 Questions with ‘Nearly Found’ Author Elle Cosimano

Elle Cosimano

Elle Cosimano

To celebrate the release of Elle Cosimano’s Nearly Found, the sequel to last year’s Nearly Gone, Elle was game enough to tackle The Daily Quirk’s version of 20 questions. Keep reading to learn more about Elle and her writing, and be sure to check out our review of the fantastically twisty and ambient Nearly Found.

Getting to know Elle

  1. Can you tell The Daily Quirk a little about yourself and how you became a writer?

I was a real estate sales and marketing professional for 14 years before I started writing. I was highly successful, but deeply unsatisfied in my career. I had always joked around that one day I would have midlife crisis, quit my job, and write a book. And with the support of my family, that’s exactly what I did. That book was Nearly Gone.

  1. Do you have any special writing habits or routines?

I spend a lot of time thinking, and I do my best thinking on the beach at the end of my street — pen in hand, toes in the sand, and headphones in my ears.

  1. How was your process writing Nearly Found similar or different than your process writing Nearly Gone?

I had a lot of creative freedom writing Nearly Gone. It was my first draft of my first book, and I had no idea if it would ever make it out into the world, so I was writing the story I wanted tell. Writing a sequel is a very different experience. Readers have hopes and expectations for the next book, and there’s a lot of internal pressure not to let my fans down. Also, the research for book 2 took me in a very different direction. I had to learn a lot about forensic science, which included a field trip to a regional forensics lab, and that was REALLY fun!

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love cooking, hanging out on the beach, and spending times with my kids. I’m also a volunteer librarian at my local biblioteca, and we’re ramping up a YA book club and writing group for community teens.

  1. Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?

Holding Smoke, described as The Shawshank Redemption for teens, releases in 2016 with Disney*Hyperion. I love this book so much! I can’t wait to share it with readers. I also write short fiction on Tumblr with a talented group of YA authors. You can find my short stories here: http://hanginggardenstories.tumblr.com/TOC

 

What is…

  1. …the last movie or TV show you watched that made you cry? I bawled like a baby at the end of the movie Odd Thomas.
  1. …your favorite place for fast food? I’m not a fan of big fast food chains. There’s a cool little taquería near my house called Paco’s that serves up some amazing shrimp tacos.
  1. …your biggest pet peeve? Unmade beds. I’m like the Princess and the Pea when it comes to wrinkly sheets.
  1. …your favorite smell? Homecooking.
  1. …a song you never get tired of hearing? Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
  1. …your biggest guilty pleasure? Chocolate. I have a terrible sweet tooth.
  1. …your favorite website or app for killing time? Facebook. We have a love/hate relationship, but dammit Facebook, I can’t quit you!
  1. …a hobby or skill you wish you had? Math.
  1. …the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down? Soulprint by Megan Miranda.
  1. …your go-to movie theater snack? Sno-Caps.

 

Would you rather…

  1. …eat pizza every day or eat ice cream every day? Ice Cream
  1. …have free Starbucks for a year or free itunes music for a year? Music
  1. …travel back in time or visit the future? Back… otherwise, it spoils the surprises.
  1. …be a celebrity for a day or hang out with your favorite celebrity for a day? Neither, I’m terribly shy, and I get awkward when I fangirl.
  1. …wear only 80s clothes and hairstyles forever or wear only 90s clothes and hairstyles forever? 80s, but only if I can listen to all the music too.

Thanks to Elle Cosimano for gamely participating in Twenty Questions! You can check out Elle on her official website or Twitter.

 

‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ Blog Tour – A Review and Giveaway of Renee Ahdieh’s Epic Fantasy

 

The Wrath and the Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn (Image Credit: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

Finally! Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn is probably the first book I’ve read in 2015 that felt like a truly immersive, page-turning experience. I’ve read plenty of good, but not totally fulfilling, books this year and it was so nice to read something so original and engaging for a change.

The Wrath and the Dawn tells the story of Shahrzad, a teenage girl who volunteers to marry Khalid, a young king notorious for killing his brides the morning after wedding them. There’s a long line of girls murdered at his command, including Shahrzad’s cousin – and she wants revenge. At first Shahrzad is just trying to stay alive long enough to figure out how to kill Khalid, but in the process she begins to realize that Khalid is not just an unfeeling monster, and perhaps there is more to his story.

Still, she is committed to finding his weakness and avenging her family. Things get complicated, however, when Shahrzad realizes that she is Khalid’s weakness. Both Shahrzad and Khalid have secrets, but they are drawn to each other despite themselves. (Because of course, otherwise this story would be way less interesting.) Meanwhile, Shahrzad’s childhood sweetheart is attempting to rescue her with the aid of her father, who’s playing with some dangerous magic.

There is a bit of a mystery running through the story, as both readers and Shahrzad try to understand how and why someone like Khalid is killing his brides, but the bulk of the story focuses on Shahrzad’s various attempts to strategize – first to stay alive, then to determine how to kill the king, and then other delicate, spoilery situations that arise as the book progresses. This aspect of the story reminded me quite a bit of The Winner’s Curse series, where the characters were constantly have to speak carefully and think one step ahead. If you enjoy that type of thing, I highly recommend The Wrath and the Dawn.

And even if you don’t, there are a lot of other things to love about this book. I really enjoyed the detailed world-building and ambiance of the book; although it’s a fantasy story there are enough elements of reality that it is very easy to picture in your mind as you read, yet it’s still a very unique setting. It did take me a while to fully wrap my mind around all the characters and their roles in the story, simply because quite a few characters are introduced very quickly and without a lot of initial context. Once you settle in, though, keeping track of the many characters and the quirks of the language they use becomes second nature. And the ARC of the book had a glossary in the back for anyone needing some extra help! Don’t let that scare you, though, I swear it’s easy to follow after a few chapters.

I’ve seen mixed reviews on the romance part of this story, so I’ll give you my two cents on that. Overall, it was done well. It’s not instalove, which is great, but there is a suggestion of that just in the fact that Shahrzad manages to convince Khalid not to kill her after her first night in the palace. Obviously there is something about her he likes. Which brings me to my one little complaint about this particular piece of the story – Shahrzad is kind of a Mary Sue. She’s a very intelligent, strong character with a quick wit and I understand why people might be drawn to her charisma. But other characters continually comment on her likability and how she is so beautiful without knowing it; so on and so forth. And apparently her beauty and charisma were enough to convince a king to keep her alive against all odds, even when he barely knew her. This seems a bit flimsy to me, and Shahrzad is sort of borderline in terms of whether she’s so amazing you can’t help but love her, or so amazing you want to hate her.

Fortunately Ahdieh does a really nice job of toeing that line carefully but, at least for me, never crossing into territory where I began to dislike Shahrzad or question her connection to Khalid. The parts of the story that focused on Shahrzad (which were the majority) were truly the best parts of the book. I was not particularly fond of the chapters that focused on Shahrzad’s father’s magic – it didn’t play a big role in the majority of this book but probably will in the next one, and I’m a little nervous about that since magic isn’t really my cup of tea.

The Wrath and the Dawn ends with minimal resolution and clear setup for a second book. I absolutely recommend this series for anyone looking for accessible fantasy and a unique spin on YA romance, but if you do pick up The Wrath and the Dawn be prepared to dedicate yourself to the whole series if you want a true ending. Personally, I’m just thrilled to finally be able to put a book on my “2015 Favorites” Goodreads shelf!

The Wrath and the Dawn Giveaway

TWATD_Tiger_Scarf_-_Khalid TWATD_Pink_Scarf_-_Cover TWATD_Falcon_Scarf_-_Tariq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the release of The Wrath and the Dawn,  TDQ readers have a chance to get a peek at this fantastic book! Enter below to win one of five prize packages including a hardcover copy of The Wrath and the Dawn along with three beautiful silk scarves featuring the book cover and designs inspired by the characters in the book (as shown above), courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. Click through the link below to enter.

Enter the Giveaway with Rafflecopter!

 

Actors declare themselves feminists, we declare that they rock!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Feminism is on the rise in Hollywood. Between Patricia Arquette’s rousing Oscars acceptance speech (which earned a cheer from Meryl Streep!) and Emma Watson’s HeforShe campaign, the time has come for Hollywood’s actors to stand up in solidarity for gender equality. Here are some who are joining the likes of Tina Fey, Shailene Woodley, Amy Poehler, Viola Davis and others. Continue reading

An Interview with ‘Miss Mayhem’ Author Rachel Hawkins

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If you read just a few pages of Rachel Hawkins’ Rebel Belle series, you will definitely notice that Hawkins has a fantastic sense of humor. We love to have a laugh here at The Daily Quirk, so to celebrate the release of the second book in Hawkins’ Rebel Belle series, Miss Mayhem, Rachel answered a few questions from The Daily Quirk about her books, along with a few silly ones thrown in for good measure! Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Miss Mayhem’ by Rachel Hawkins

Miss 001Last year Rachel Hawkins’ Rebel Belle was one of my pleasant surprises – I didn’t know much about the book when I picked it up, but I was quickly sucked into the story. It’s a fun mix of contemporary and fantasy, with a sassy and memorable main character, a vivid setting, and a unique plot. I loved how Hawkins added humor and levity to what would normally be a very serious story, which makes it perfect for someone like me – I don’t normally gravitate toward fantasy stories because often I just find it a little too ridiculous to take seriously, but Rebel Belle winks at its own fantastical plot in such a way that I could appreciate the story without rolling my eyes, and with a few chuckles sprinkled in.

The basic setup for Rebel Belle is this: Harper is a teenager who sort of accidentally gained magical powers as a Paladin, and a duty to protect “the Oracle.” The Oracle, as it happens, is her school nemesis, David, who had no idea he was an important mystical figure. Through the course of the first book Harper and David learn more about their respective roles, fall for each other, and save Cotillion from some magical folks who want to catch David and use his power to their advantage.

While Rebel Belle didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger, it did set up an interesting plot thread, so I’ve been looking forward to the follow-up book, Miss Mayhem. If you haven’t read the first book Miss Mayhem does an exceptional job of playing catch-up within the first few pages without being a total info-dump, but for readers familiar with the series there’s also a lot of action right off the bat, so it’s easy to get pulled right back into the story. I won’t say too much about what happens, but it involves Harper learning more about her Paladin responsibilities and struggling to balance her relationship with David with her need to protect him.

As with the first book, Harper is an engaging narrator with a fun, distinct voice. If you haven’t read the first book, you may not get as clear of a picture about her oracle/boyfriend, David. I was thankful to have background on him since his character felt more distant in this book compared to the first. It’s understandable that as David is learning more about his Oracle-ness he gets a bit closed off, but I certainly missed seeing more of his personality as it was established in Rebel Belle, and would have loved more of his and Harper’s back-and-forth, which was a highlight in the first book.

That aside, Miss Mayhem managed to hit the difficult balance of humor and peril and Hawkins’ style of writing is extremely readable, keeping the book interesting even in some of the slower plot moments. There’s a definite “middle book” vibe to Miss Mayhem, a feeling of simultaneously wrapping up loose ends and untying new ones. Harper is already familiar of her abilities, so there’s less of a sense of mystery, and the big climax is set up early in the book so it’s not surprising when it happens. On the other hand, we get to meet some pivotal new characters, see how David’s Oracle abilities are evolving, and get presented with new questions about who is really trustworthy in Harper’s new magical world.

Whether you start with Rebel Belle or skip straight to Miss Mayhem, I think this series is worth a read simply because Harper is such a great character. She’s not perfect by any means, but she’s smart and strong and still very relatable. It’s a type of character that is often attempted in YA, but is difficult to do well.  Hawkins does a fantastic job of really giving Harper dimension and making her both a worthy role model for younger readers and an admirable teenage voice for older readers. And, because Hawkins writes Harper with such an engaging perspective, it’s easy to root for her in any scenario, whether it’s battling magical beings or defending a baton costume.

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Book Review: ‘Everybody Knows Your Name’ by Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw

EveryIf you want to simplify things, Andrea Seigel & Brent Bradshaw’s Everybody Knows Your Name is a story about two teenagers from extremely different backgrounds, Magnolia and Ford, participating in an American Idol-style singing competition. Magnolia is from The OC and, aside from dealing with the unexpected death of her father several years prior, she has had a relatively cushy life. Despite that, she doesn’t have the most cheery outlook on life and she sees Spotlight, the competition show, as a chance to change the way people perceive her. Ford comes from a small town in Arkansas where he was raised by a poor family of drug addicts and screw-ups. For him, Spotlight is an opportunity to escape his difficult past and be successful in his own right.

Everybody Knows Your Name is written from the alternating perspectives of Magnolia and Ford, with Seigel responsible for writing Magnolia’s chapters and Bradshaw managing Ford’s. The book quickly becomes less about the singing competition narrative and more about the growth of the two main characters. Yes, the relationship between them is a plot thread, and it does play a role in said character growth, but really the relationship is not central to the plot. While this is great in many respects, it also means that the individual characters are fleshed out well on their own, but the relationship itself is a bit less detailed. I felt like there could have been more build-up to Magnolia & Ford’s attraction to each other to make their relationship something I could truly invest in, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker.

The thing I enjoyed most about Everybody Knows Your Name  was how it managed the delicate balance of being funny (and even leaning toward satirical at times) but still respectfully dealing with serious things like coping with loss and challenging family circumstances. There’s a theme in the story about gray area – how no one is inherently good or bad, but somewhere in the middle – and that’s exactly what this book pulls off tonally, which I really appreciated as a reader.

Seigel and Bradshaw also did a nice job of using the singing competition setup as an efficient vehicle for the story without ever letting it become too important or not important enough in the larger context. It’s a fun idea, and it definitely provides great opportunities to explore the characters out of their comfort zones. I will say that they pretty much always picked horrible songs to sing for a singing competition as far as I’m concerned, but I’m no Simon Cowell. And, since the two character’s perspectives were written by different people, you do get a very clear distinction between their voices.

Another thing Everybody Knows Your Name has going for it is sheer readability. The pace moves quickly, for the most part, and both authors have a fairly snappy style of writing. The Ford chapters dawdle a bit more than the Magnolia chapters, but they all generally move quickly and keep you engaged in the story. There are also a lot of colorful side characters in the book – some, like Magnolia’s mother and her roommate, Mila, are fleshed out nicely and others treated a bit more quick and dirty, but all are interesting in their own right. One thing that weirded me out a little was Magnolia’s close relationship with the “writer” for the show; it was supposed to be a mentor/mentee relationship but they got very close very quickly so it just seemed kind of awkward and uncomfortable for me. But maybe that’s just because teenage me would not have enjoyed hanging out with a 30-something dude.

Everybody Knows Your Name has been compared to Rachel Cohn & David Levithan’s collaborations (like Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares), but aside from the similar formatting I would say it’s actually a very different animal. And that’s a good thing – I felt a stronger connection to these characters and more of an investment in the outcome of their story than I ever did for Nick, Norah, Dash or Lily, because the focus of Everybody Knows Your Name truly is on the individual characters, not just a happy ending. The story may not be as cutesy as the cover suggests, but it’s still absolutely worth reading.

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Book Review: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Mr Kiss and TellLast spring the world was in a lovely state of Veronica Mars renaissance, encouraged by the release of the kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie. But in addition to the movie, fans also gained access to a less-publicized Veronica Mars treat, in the form of a new book series written by show creator Rob Thomas in collaboration with author Jennifer Graham. I reviewed the first book in the series, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, last year and was happily surprised at how well it maintained the vibe of the TV show. This time around I’m tackling book number two, Mr. Kiss and Tell.

Much like the first book, Mr. Kiss and Tell continues with the progression of large plot points introduced in the movie and weaves them into a standalone mystery that is solved by the end of the book. The grander plot involves the continued attempts of Veronica and Keith to expose the corrupt Neptune police department, which involves trying to convince Weevil to testify that a cop planted a gun on him when he was framed for Celeste Kane’s carjacking. But the more interesting mystery here is that of a woman who is founded beaten nearly to death after a mysterious night at the Neptune Grand. Veronica is enlisted to track down the attacker, but the case is full of dead ends and false leads.

I generally have high expectations for Veronica Mars mysteries, because throughout the series the majority of the mysteries were intricate, complex enough to stay interesting but not overly-complicated, and perfectly peppered with believable twists and red herrings. Mr. Kiss and Tell does not disappoint – and, in fact, I thought the mystery here was stronger and more in line with canon than the core mystery in The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, which makes this book a step even further in the right direction.

In addition, the ambiance of the show and the nature of the characters is really nicely translated to the page. Even though I miss Veronica’s first person perspective, there’s enough of her voice in the narrative that her trademark wit comes through. The same is true for the side characters, although they are relegated to the background for the most part so you just get a touch of Mac’s sarcasm or Wallace’s loyal reluctance here and there throughout the book.

The show had such a lovely balance of heart, intelligence and humor that I’m happy to report comes through beautifully in the books as well. Veronica Mars is unique in that it manages to simultaneously contain subtle and not-so-subtle social and political commentary, and I really liked how Mr. Kiss and Tell maintained this lovely balance while dealing with the important subject of sexual assault. The major reason Veronica is so invested in the case is because it deals with sexual assault and law enforcement’s lack of action relative to it; using Veronica’s personal experience as a tool to relate to the victim is both thought-provoking and poignant.
The one thing that turned me off on this book was the Logan storyline. I might be in the minority here; a lot of fans might appreciate or even love how he takes on a larger role in this book, but I really just can’t stand the guy. Every chapter that focused on Veronica and Logan’s relationship either bored me or disgusted me, so by the end I started skimming. Fortunately the ratio of Logan stuff to everything else is still fairly minimal, but it went way past my threshold for dealing with it.

But let’s not get hung up on that little hiccup! Overall I really enjoyed Mr. Kiss and Tell and I’m hopeful this promising series will continue to give fans an opportunity to hang out with Veronica and the gang.

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Book Review: ‘The Book of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

the-book-of-ivyOkay, so if you’re like me and you read a lot of YA fiction, you might be feeling a little bit of dystopian fatigue. Like paranormal romance before it, dystopian had a big moment in YA the past couple of years and it’s gotten to the point where we’re so saturated with dystopian that even a really good dystopian book can begin to feel old hat or cliche.

I say this because, as much as I try to be aware of these things and judge every book on its own merit, I could not help but compare The Book of Ivy to its predecessors in dystopian YA. But the thing is, a little repetition isn’t a big deal to me as long as the story still resonantes. I’ll admit there’s room for improvement in world-building as The Book of Ivy series progresses, but the dystopian setting did its job as a vehicle for the grander plot despite not being anything particularly new or different. This style might not work for everyone, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to get into The Book of Ivy despite my initial reservations in the early chapters.

The basic story involves Ivy, a girl from the poor part of town, who is in an arranged marriage with Bishop Lattimer, the son of the previously mentioned all-powerful leader. Ivy’s father is the leader of a resistance group attempting to take over power of their little colony, and Ivy’s new marriage is the perfect opportunity. With her access to Bishop, Ivy can play a pivotal role in aiding the resistance – ultimately by killing Bishop.

Oh, but of course there is a catch. As it turns out, Bishop isn’t the terrible human Ivy expected him to be but is instead quite thoughtful and open-minded. Ivy starts to feel a connection to Bishop that causes her to question whether she can actually go through with her father’s murderous plan. Most of the book is spent following Ivy as she settles into her new life as the wife of the President’s son, which mainly involves a lot of awkward encounters with Bishop. There are other things peppered in between – including a couple of little plot twists and a cliffhanger ending.

The interesting thing about The Book of Ivy is that even though it’s hard for me to really explain the forward momentum of the story, it’s actually extremely readable and about a third of the way through it became a downright page-turner for me. Credit that to Engel, I suppose – what this book lacks in dystopian world-building it makes up for with the addicting writing style. And as with most “first” books in dystopian trilogies, there is always room to fill out the world more clearly over time, so I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt there.

One of the things that really helped bring me on board was Ivy herself – she shows true character growth throughout the book and manages to avoid falling into the trap of terrible decision making based on stubborn but silly beliefs. This sort of thing happens a lot in YA, and while I have no problem with a teenager making a bad decision, it’s a lot easier to swallow when it comes from a strong character whose perspective you can understand, even if you don’t agree with it. Ivy is just that – even though her loyalties were misguided, I totally got why. Plus she wasn’t blind in her beliefs, but instead was constantly reassessing them and learning from her experiences. Now that I can get behind, and it goes a long way in making up for any other potential shortcomings with the story.

I’ll also give a shout out to the total lack of instalove in this book. Ivy and Bishop may have been married within the first couple of chapters, but their relationship was far from close, or even comfortable, and it evolved over time. I loved how even though Ivy logically knew she shouldn’t feel any stake in the relationship if she’s just going to kill the guy, she couldn’t help but feel awkward and embarrassed while she was getting to know Bishop. It was a cute, relatable tidbit that made the scenario feel much more realistic than you might expect.

In the end The Book of Ivy really did win me over and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. As I mentioned, there is a cliffhanger ending and it’s hard to tell what direction the series will take, which I actually really enjoy. Nothing is worse than knowing where a series is headed and being either disappointed it doesn’t live up to your expectations or unmotivated to keep reading when you see it’s going in a direction you don’t like. No problem with that here! Readers who really prefer detailed world-building in their dystopians may be frustrated by this one, but if you don’t mind your dystopian a little on the soapy side with a bit of revenge, a lot of fun, and, of course, a love story, check this one out!

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Book Review: ‘Whatever Life Throws At You’ by Julie Cross

WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOUThere’s a holy grail of young adult contemporary books – that rare book that captures real characters behaving like real people, but manages to package it in a lovely fantastical bundle. It’s the thing that the Sarah Dessens and Rainbow Rowells of the world have managed to pin down; the thing that makes them the authors whose names you probably know even if you don’t read young adult. It’s bridging the gap between the light, fluffy stories so often associated with YA (whether that’s accurate or not is another story) and more relatable, poignant coming-of-age stories. And it’s something that Julie Cross has managed to pull off in her new contemporary YA romance, Whatever Life Throws At You.

Whatever Life Throws At You is the story of Annie Lucas, a teenage track star whose single father is recruited as a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Annie’s father is tasked with mentoring a young up-and-comer with a checkered past, Jason Brody. There are a lot of things going on here – yes, Annie and Jason hit it off and the progression of that relationship is central to the story, but there’s more to it than that. Both Annie and Jason have complicated family histories. Annie’s dad and Jason are under constant pressure to perform and keep their noses clean to keep their jobs. Annie is settling into a new school, new friends, and a new track team. This is a story where the characters and their struggles feel real, it just so happens to be book-ended by a fairy tale-esque setup.

What I really really enjoyed about Whatever Life Throws At You was how Cross made her teenage characters smart and mature but still very authentic. So many YA romance stories feature plots driven by petty misunderstandings, poor communication, and generally horrible decisions among the main characters. Apparently the assumption is that teenagers are always doing this sort of thing. Not the case here – Cross takes her time to develop the relationship between Annie and Jason, and drama between them is minimal. They communicate! How novel! Instead of getting angry at these characters for sabotaging their own happiness, I was able to root for them to overcome roadblocks and learn from their (totally relatable) mistakes. It truly was a breath of fresh air.

Another thing I loved about this book was the relationship between Annie and her father. It’s a dynamic you don’t see a lot in YA, and it’s handled beautifully here. Annie and her father have a strong bond since her mother is (mostly) out of the picture, but their relationship is supportive as opposed to codependent, and Annie’s father never becomes a caricature of an overprotective parent like you might expect. I will say that some of the side characters – Annie’s grandmother with Alzheimer’s and her new friend Lenny, for example – seem to fade into the background a bit as the story progresses. I might have liked to have felt their presence in Annie’s world a little more, but the romance and the father/daughter relationship were handled so deftly that I can’t really complain about the secondary ones.

Cross’s writing style is adequately descriptive but not frilly – she gets to the point, and this made it super easy for me to get sucked into the story after just a few pages and tear through the entire book over the span of a few bus rides. The story is fairly light, but doesn’t shy away from complicated topics, either. The tone is a bit breezier than other work I’ve read by Cross, like her Tempest series and Letters to Nowhere, but she definitely keeps it real. It really is a delicate balance to make these YA contemporary stories both relatable and aspirational; swoony but not cheesy. Cross pulls it off beautifully with Whatever Life Throws At You, and I highly recommend it to fans of thoughtful YA contemporary romance stories.

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WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU / Author Julie Cross (Image Credit: Julie Cross)

An Exclusive Interview with Author Julie Cross

WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU / Author Julie Cross (Image Credit: Julie Cross)

WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU / Author Julie Cross (Image Credit: Julie Cross)

Julie Cross is an ambitious lady. Here’s how I know: not only is Cross a former competitive gymnast and coach – a sport that requires extreme commitment and attention to detail – but she also tackled time travel in her first young adult series, Tempest. Time travel and triple twists are no small potatoes, folks. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Lodger’ by Louisa Treger

LodgerIt takes a lot of courage to base a novel on a true story. While creating a work of fiction gives an author a degree of creative license, the writer also holds a certain degree of responsibility to tell the story of a person or event without deviating too much from the facts.

Louisa Treger has proven herself more than a match for these challenges in her debut novel, The Lodger. In her novel, Treger explores the story of Dorothy Richardson, author of the autobiographical 13-book series Pilgrimage and contemporary of authors including Virginia Woolf. As a young woman in London at the turn of the century, Dorothy’s life is full of hardships modern readers can instantly relate to. After Dorothy’s mother commits suicide, she visits her friend Jane, the wife of H.G. Wells (fondly known as Bertie), in the country. Over time, Dorothy and Bertie are consumed by a mutual attraction. Their tempestuous relationship inspires Dorothy to begin writing and raises questions within her about her sexuality.

Treger brings the Dorothy’s story to life in an engaging and interesting way. As someone who had never heard of Dorothy Richardson before reading this novel, I very quickly became caught up in her tale. Dorothy’s life, while full of tragedy many of us will never experience, was entirely relatable. She struggles to balance her work life with her social life. She strives to be an independent woman in a time when society still believed men ruled. She falls in and out of love and struggles with the complicated feeling that she is equal parts feminine and masculine. She fights for equality between men and women. She is constantly questioning what is best for her future.

Dorothy’s relationship with famed author H.G. Wells is the driving force behind this novel. When she meets Bertie, he is the scandalous new husband of a childhood friend. While Bertie adores his wife and relies on her, they have an open relationship that allows him to pursue other women – including Dorothy. What begins as a complicated relationship only grows more tangled over time.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and I love when true events are incorporated into novels. With that in mind, it’s no wonder I enjoyed The Lodger as much as I did. Even if you aren’t previously familiar with Dorothy Richardson’s story, her life is incredibly easy to relate to. Over 100 years after this novel ends, many of Dorothy’s struggles are still common among women around the world. If you’re a history buff, a fan of biographies, or simply someone who wants to read a very well-written book, The Lodger should definitely be added to your “To Read” list.


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Abbie Reetz
Hi! I’m Abbie. I’m a Wisconsin girl who just completed a degree in journalism, which I hope will help me achieve my goal of reading books and writing about them for a living. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching Doctor Who and hanging out with my boyfriend and his two cats.
Check out more from Abbie Reetz on TDQ…


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Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs for COMMUNITY (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

‘Community Panel’ Talks Yahoo Screen at San Diego Comic-Con

Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs for COMMUNITY (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs for COMMUNITY (Image Credit: Gage Skidmore)

“It’s season six of Community! You’ll be watching it the way you’ve always watched it, only now it’s legal!” declared series creator Dan Harmon in the show’s San Diego Comic-con panel this week. Continue reading

Eminem performing at Lollapalooza (Image Credit: David Silverman)

Summer Music Festivals: What’s Happened and What’s Happening

Eminem performing at Lollapalooza (Image Credit: David Silverman)

Eminem performing at Lollapalooza (Image Credit: David Silverman)

Summer music festivals are a must for many, whether you’re a college student, teen, adult, even grandparent. Yes, it’s true. Grandma doesn’t just like to get down to the oldies in your summer cabin. She likes being outdoors, listening to music, as much as you, or so we speculate. Continue reading

THE GIVER (Image Credit: The Weinstein Company)

OneRepublic’s ‘Ordinary Human’ Music Video Reveals New Footage from ‘The Giver’!

THE GIVER (Image Credit: The Weinstein Company)

THE GIVER (Image Credit: The Weinstein Company)

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a world where this no hunger, pain, sadness, disease, color, love or music. He and the other people in this utopian world are accepting of that. But when Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memories, his utopian lifestyle quickly becomes dystopian; he finally learns what it means to live. Continue reading