#PoetryMonth – Throwback #Review: Stop Pretending, by @SonyaSones

Poetry Month FB Banner

Line curvy

Books of poetry aren’t always collections. They can come in other forms. One of my favorite forms of poetry in recent years is the verse novel. I’ve read a number of them and continue to discover them. To keep it simple, for those who haven’t heard me talk about them in the past, a verse novel is just what it sounds like: A novel written in verse. The same full arc of a novel is told, but instead of pages filled with words, sentences, ideas, etc (prose), the author uses the shorter, more exact form of poetry to tell the story.

Today, and maybe later in the month, I’d like to share a review of one of my favorite verse novels so far. I read this awhile back, but my opinions of it are still the same. It’s a book by Sonya Sones, called Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. Sones have a number of other verse novels out, so be sure to take a look at all her work. I’ve read all but one so far and enjoyed them!

fancy lineresize

Title: Stop PretendingStop Pretending
Author: Sonya Sones
Rating: 5/5 stars

“It happens just like that, in the blink of an eye. An older sister has a mental breakdown and has to be hospitalized. A younger sister is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief and friends who turn their backs on her. But worst of all is the loss of her big sister, her confidante, her best friend.

In the eloquent tradition of THE BELL JAR and I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN comes this haunting first book, inspired by the true story of the author’s life. It’s an intense and brutally honest story, told in a succession of powerful poems that take us back into the cyclone of the narrator’s emotions: grief, anger, guilt, resentment, horror, and ultimately, acceptance.” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

Sonya Sones grew to be one of my (recent) favorite authors after I read What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and soon after, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. I went out and bought all her books after I read those two. But what I didn’t expect is that Stop Pretending, Sones’ first book, is an even better book than those that came after it.

Sones’ free-verse novel, Stop Pretending, does two amazing things that I haven’t witnessed in other free-verse novels so far. A majority of this book’s poems can be read separately from the others. They stand alone as very powerful works of poetry and don’t need the support of the “larger story.” At the same time, they all mesh together into that “larger story” that is hard to step away from, even with it being an emotional read. It’s the combination of these two effects that makes Sones such a great novelist and poet, all in the same work.

Being that this is strongly influenced by the author’s life growing up, I feel that it helped her create the very real main character. The poems bring the reader deep into the mind of this teenager who doesn’t know how to deal with her sister’s hospitalization. This can only come from someone who’s dealt with similar issues in real life. It also allows a reader, and even society in general, to consider all sides of the situation. It’s not just the patient who needs therapy, or just someone to talk to in general. It’s all members of a family, no matter how much they try to hide it.

Sonya Sones’ first book is by far my favorite of hers so far. It’s no wonder her books have gotten the attention they have.

fancy lineresize

You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Line curvy

About the Author:

Sonya Sones is an American poet and author. She has written four young adult novels in verse, as well as a novel in verse for adults and a picture book.

You can find more about Sonya here:

#Review: To Be Perfectly Honest, by @SonyaSones

To Be Perfectly HonestTitle: To Be Perfectly Honest
Author: Sonya Sones
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Her friends
have a joke about her:
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Her mouth is open.

Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she’s got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder—so she lies to escape out from under her mother’s massive shadow. But Colette doesn’t see it that way. She says she lies because it’s the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she’s had that much fun with her clothes off. At least not yet, anyway…

When her mother drags her away from Hollywood to spend the entire summer on location in a boring little town in the middle of nowhere, Colette is less than thrilled. But then she meets a sexy biker named Connor. He’s older, gorgeous, funny, and totally into her. So what if she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is? I mean, she has to keep her mother’s identity a secret from him. If he finds out who she really is, he’ll forget all about Colette, and start panting and drooling and asking her for her mother’s autograph. Just like everyone always does.

But what Colette doesn’t know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own…” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

I’ve become a fan of Sonya Sones writing in the last year or so after reading What My Mother Doesn’t Know and following it up with What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. I’ve read most of Sones’ work, and like the rest of her books, To Be Perfectly Honest takes some time to draw you in, then hits you unexpectedly with something to make it great.

The narrator of this book, Colette, is a minor character in Sones’ other work One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother DiesWe don’t see too much of her in that book, so it was great to see her here with a bigger role. She’s an interesting narrator too; she’s a career liar. With lying being her nature, she’s an unreliable narrator. Lying also plays a big part in the conflict throughout the book. It took me a little bit to warm up to Colette, to be honest, but her personality kept working on me.

What really won me over was the big reveal in this book. At first this was a nice, light teen romance, but at one point it takes on a heavier, more serious tone. It packed a punch, and I like seeing that in a book. It didn’t feel out of place, just unexpected.

Sones’ free verse has all the strength that I’ve come to love in her previous books, and I know I’ll see in the future. I know I’ll be reading whatever Sones has in store for readers in her next book.

fancy lineresize

 You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fancy lineresize

About the Author:

Sonya Sones is an American poet and author. She has written four young adult novels in verse, as well as a novel in verse for adults and a picture book.

You can find more about Sonya here:

#NewRelease: Inhale the Night, by @BenDitty

Inhale the Night

b3459-goodreads-badge-add-plus-2d25bb0f32eeac8660c13a521cf00c8e

Join Ben Ditmars, author of Night Poems and Haiku in the Night, on his final journey through the Midnight hours. Explore and breathe with him as night descends and stars emerge into new memories. Through free-verse, epic, and haiku poetry, some roads are darker than others….

fancy lineresize

If you’d like to grab a copy of this collection, you can find it on Amazon in:

Print | Kindlefancy lineresize

About the Author:

meBen is a bestselling author of gnomes, plays, poetry and more.  He was first published in his college publications the Cornfield Review and KAPOW.  Since then he has been featured in several online literary journals including: Flurries of Words, Samizdat Literary Journal, and Shine Journal. You can find his collections of poetry, plays, novel, and short stories for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Ben lives in Marion, Ohio and is currently working toward his Master’s Degree in education at the University of Findlay while substitute teaching. He hopes to instruct high school social studies full-time within the next year.

He loves historical documentaries and all things gnome.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: The Night Before College, by @SonyaSones and @AvaTramer

The Night Before College

b3459-goodreads-badge-add-plus-2d25bb0f32eeac8660c13a521cf00c8e

Sonya Sones, author of YA novel What My Mother Doesn’t Know, has written a nifty, witty take-off of The Night Before Christmas with her daughter Ava Tramer, a recent Harvard grad. This small-format jacketed hardcover takes a look back at all the stops on the route to college–touring campuses, prepping for SATs, writing the dreaded essay, getting the thumbs-up-or-down news, and finally, at long last, packing and setting off for the next chapter. A perfect gift for the college bound. 

fancy lineresize

Want to grab a copy? You can find it at:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fancy lineresize

About the Author:

Sonya Sones is an American poet and author. She has written four young adult novels in verse, as well as a novel in verse for adults and a picture book.

You can find more about Sonya here:

#NewRelease: My Heart’s Choir Sings, by @InkAshlings

My Heart's Choir Sings

b3459-goodreads-badge-add-plus-2d25bb0f32eeac8660c13a521cf00c8e

A eulogy and a verse novella. Grief, guilt, redemption. How do you go on in a world without your other half?

Think Ted Hughes Birthday Letters meets Dorothy Porter verse and you’d have My Heart’s Choir Sings. This is the story of Stewart Hinchcliffe, a writer and an artist who loses his lover and fellow creative in tragic circumstances. As he cleans out their old apartment, each new object brings back bittersweet memories. Throughout the 25 poem sequence, grief, guilt and anger color his memories. Who is to blame for what happened? Where did everything go wrong? And how on earth does Stuart move on from his past?

fancy line

You can grab a copy of of this novella from:

Amazon | Smashwords

fancy line

About the Author:

Maureen writes young adult speculative fiction novels and short stories. She is inspired by authors such as Isobelle Carmody, Philip Pullman and Juliet Marillier and writes stories to make sense of her world. She loves to attend local Writers Festivals and, having recently discovered the Australian speculative fiction scene, also loves supporting her fellow writers at local events. She is an active member of the South Coast Writers Centre (SCWC) and regularly volunteers for the centre.

Maureen has wanted to write from the second she could put pen to paper but, other than winning a district wide short story competition in Year 6, first achieved small writing successes at university. Her poems, ‘Out For Lunch’ and ‘Rapunzel’s Curls’ were published in The UOW Literary Society Zine in 2012. Her fairy tale short story, ‘Tea Time with Mad Hattie’ was published by Holmesglen Small Press in the same year. 2012 was a busy year, with Maureen accepted into The Sydney Writer’s Festival Fantasy Masterclass with Kate Forsyth in May. Recently, she has started attending a writers group run by Australian speculative fiction stalwart, Angie Rega, and, if all goes according to plan, will be working with Isobelle Carmody in 2014.

Maureen reviews speculative fiction novels at her wordpress blog, InkAshlings. Never one for saying no to a challenge, she also reviews speculative fiction films and TV shows and has interviewed authors Richard Harland and Kate Forsyth for her blog.

Find out more:

#Review: Crank, by @EllenHopkinsYA

Title: Crank (Crank #1)
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Rating: 5/5 stars

“In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.” Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne’er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: “there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree.” Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won’t, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.” (description from Goodreads)

fancy lineresize

Last year I discovered the verse-novel writing style through a few of Sonya Sones books. Through further searching, I found out about Ellen Hopkins, and in turn, the Crank books. I was pleased what I found within the covers of this book.

I’m amazed at just how much weight this book can hold, yet compared to a normal prose novel, there is a significantly smaller word count. Hopkins takes her worse seriously and provides a heavy, dark atmosphere to Kristina’s/Bree’s narrative as she goes down a path of drugs, first loves, and more. There’s little to no happiness in this book, yet there’s a beauty in how the lines of each poem keep the reader glued with their nose in the book. I kept reading wanting more and more, even when seeing it was only going to get darker.

I don’t think I’d have gotten as strong of a reaction to Crank were it to be a prose novel. There’s something about the way verse allows an author to tell a story with such raw emotions and bluntness that even the most well-written of prose has a hard time doing. This is why I keep going back to verse novels, and will be continuing on with this series very soon.

fancy lineresize

You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fancy lineresize

About the Author:

Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of CrankBurnedImpulseGlassIdentical,TricksFalloutPerfectTrianglesTilt, and Collateral. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Hopkin’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest pages get thousands of hits from teens who claim Hopkins is the “only one who understands me”, and she can be visited at ellenhopkins.com.

Like most of you here, books are my life. Reading is a passion, but writing is the biggest part of me. Balance is my greatest challenge, as I love my family, friends, animals and home, but also love traveling to meet my readers. Hope I meet many of you soon!

Find out more:

2013 #Review Recap – Two by @SonyaSones

2013 Recap

Today, for my 2013 Recap, I’d not only reposting two reviews. Today, I’m also here to tell of how I was introduced to the world of verse novels.

These two novels by Sonya Sones, instead of being written in prose, are written in verse. This was a new form of writing for me. To be honest, I read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse years ago in school, but I’d forgotten about these type of novels until this year.

I’ve since bought all of Sones novels (expect the newest…hint hint, Christmas is coming soon 😉 ), and have enjoyed what I’ve read from those as well, so far. I’m also currently on the lookout for more verse novels to add to my TBR pile. I have some by Ellen Hopkins and a few other authors, but I’m always up for more suggestions. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments 🙂

If you’re a fan of YA romances, but are hesitant about trying one written in verse, this two book series might be one to check out. I’d recommend them.

fancy line

What My Mother Doesn’t Know

Original post

Title: What My Mother Doesn’t KnowWhat My Mother Doesn't Know
Author: Sonya Sones
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.

It’s not that I’m boy crazy.
It’s just that even though
I’m almost fifteen
it’s like
my mind
and my body
and my heart
just don’t seem to be able to agree
on anything.” (description from Goodreads)

line-37709

What really struck a chord with me in this book is that it’s a free-verse novel. I feel that Sones’ decision to write this novel in verse instead of prose makes it stand out from other young adult novels that might deal with similar characters and situations.

Because of the nature of poetry, there was a certain lack of depth to the story. With that in mind, there was also a much deeper depth to the story than what could be found just through reading this as if it were prose. The poems that make up What My Mother Doesn’t Know range in what they convey. Some are a full scene in Sophie’s day. Others create a full scene with a series of poems, where each might be a bit shorter and focus on one thought. Weaved together in a mixture of lengths and subjects, they create a beautiful patchwork view into who Sophie’s character is.

I really enjoyed the voice in this books as well. Sophie is a 15-year-old girl who is trying to sort out her heart, deal with an abnormal home-life  and even touches on the prejudices of her being Jewish. While I’m not, nor have I ever been, a 15-year-old girl, I found her believable and was able to sympathize with her. At times I wanted to reach into the book and give her a good slap, but she’s learning how to go through life and to sort things out for herself.

I’m happy that I went along on this little journey with Sophie figuring out what love is, who she really is, and ultimately a journey about growing up for a teen who could represent many teens in one way or another.

line-37709

You can purchase a copy of What My Mother Doesn’t Know from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fancy line

What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know

Original post

Title: What My Girlfriend Doesn’t KnowWhat My Girlfriend Doesn't Know
Author: Sonya Sones
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“My name is Robin.
This book is about me.
It tells the story of what happens
when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be
good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be
a lot more complicated than that

Because I’m not gonna lie to you –
there are naked women involved.
Four of them, to be exact.
Though not in the way you might think.

Don’t get me wrong — my girlfriend’s amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I’m starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,

is getting it.” (description from Goodreads)

line-37709

Again, Sonya Sones brings a great novel in the form of poetry. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is the sequel to Sones’ free-verse novel What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and was a great addition to the first book.

It was a little weird going from book one to this book because of the POV switch from Sophie as the narrator to it being told by Robin, but in time I grew to like him, as well. I feel that Sones was able to capture the mindset of a teenage male accurately, and that’s part of the success of this book. While I didn’t like his voice all the time or some of the decisions made in the story, I feel that Robin did things how even I would have at that age.

The way Sones uses poetry to tell a story, rather than prose, is what makes her writing so enjoyable to me. There might be a lack of word count, but there’s just as much depth to what the sparse pages hold for the reader. I also liked how there were a few poem/chapters that were “concrete poems,” which  used words to create a picture instead of just having the words describe the subject.

I continue to be pleased with Sones’ work and can’t wait to see what else she has written.

line-37709

Want to read this book? You can grab a copy from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fancy line

About the Author:

Sonya Sones is an American poet and author. She has written four young adult novels in verse, as well as a novel in verse for adults and a picture book.

Find out more: