#NewRelease: Saving Red, by @SonyaSones

saving-red

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Molly Rosenberg may only be fourteen, but she’s experienced more hurt and guilt than most adults. With her home life a mess, Molly takes part in a volunteer event tallying the city’s homeless population. There, on a windy Santa Monica bluff, is where Molly meets Red, an enigmatic homeless girl with more zest for life than she’s ever encountered. The two spark an unlikely friendship that pulls Molly out of her sadness. Finally, Molly can open up to someone about her brother’s disappearance that she feels she’s to blame for.

But whenever Molly tries to get Red to open about her family—where they are, why they left her, or if Red left them—Red quickly changes the subject, or starts rambling on about things that just don’t make any sense. Molly knows she can’t change her own past, but she vows to help Red salvage her future. In Sonya Sones’ latest novel, two girls with a unique bond give each other a new perspective on the meaning of family, friendship, and forgiveness.

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

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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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:

Story Time Friday: Another verse novella…in progress

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I had another idea for a novel/novella/short story in verse. Last time I had one, I also posted it here. That was back in…oh, well it was almost a year ago. Last February. And if you were wondering what ever happened with that idea. Well, I didn’t work on it any more since then. But the WIP I’m sharing today has more promise. There’s more of a story behind it. Aside from me needing to research some things, because I don’t really know as much about the classics as I think everyone assumes they do, I feel like this could be a fun piece to read.

I had the idea for this, as a prose story, recently. I only put a few notes on paper and let it stew. I decided to try starting it yesterday. To make it even more challenging and fun, I decided to try it in verse. I know, I write poetry. But my narrative poetry can only go so far in the realm of telling a fictional story for any length of time. I’m combining my “strength” in poetry with my limited experience with prose. We’ll see how it ends up. I just have to keep at it and not start something else before I get there.

Note – Please keep in mind that this was written less than 24hrs ago. Also, formatting poetry on a blog is not a pleasant experience. This is mostly mentioned because of my use of indention. There shouldn’t be a new stanza created for each (only after, in most cases), but it was either that or don’t indent. I wanted to keep the indents this time, even if this is a rough piece.

Another note – From Where I Stand and Winter’s Homecoming and Other Poems on sale, still. $0.99 each, over on Amazon. I might end the sale once February gets here. I might not. It’s not really hurting me either way, I guess. Even with the lower price, sales are rare. *commentary over*
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The Characters
(work in progress…so is the title)

by Robert Zimmermann

Nothing like a zombie apocalypse
to start off the day right.

Ok, the zombie apocalypse
isn’t exactly what’s happening,
but there’s definitely some drama
going down at the bookshop today.

Is the shop infested with the
living dead?

Not exactly.

Is it an invasion of the
undead?

Kind of.

I think it’s more accurate to say
that they were never technically alive.
They can’t be any form of dead if
they never lived in the first place.

When I walked through
the bookshop doors this morning,
I was greeted by an
impressively dressed…

butler.

There are only a few of us working
in the shop, and this guy
wasn’t one of us.

“Welcome to <insert name later>,
sir,” he said to me.
“My name is Jeeves.”

At first I laughed.

One of the other workers must
have hired this guy to perform
as a prank.

”Nice to meet you, Jeeves.
What an original name you have.”

All the amusement of the moment disappeared
as an arrow whizzed by, millimeters away from
piercing my nose.

I dropped to the floor,
but not before seeing a green blur
ducking behind the register.

”What the hell is going on?”
I screeched at the man calling himself Jeeves.

”What’s wrong, sir?
Did Mr. Hood’s arrow graze you?
I’ve never known his aim to be
anything but true. I assure you
he never meant to harm you.”

“Mr. Hood? As in Robin…
Robin Hood?”
I was still on the floor,
trembling now.

A second later, the green blur jump
from its place of hiding and stood before me.
“Robin Hood, at your service!”

I slowly lifted my head, peering up at him.
His hand was extended toward me, possibly
in a friendly manner, but I wasn’t waiting
to see what he intended.
I shot up off the floor, like the arrow that almost
killed me, and ran out of the store.
I didn’t look back.

Only after reaching the sidewalk did I realize
that a crowd had gathered.
It seemed as if half the town had shown,
to gawk at me.
I really must be the victim of a practical joke
gone wrong. Very wrong.

Still shaking and confused, I pushed through
the crowd, walking away to collect myself.
After reaching the next block, I tentatively looked back.
To my surprise the gathered crowd wasn’t staring
in my direction any longer.
Their eyes had been glued to the shop windows
all along. This wasn’t a practical joke, after all.

I had a bone chilling realization, then.
Those two characters,

Jeeves
Robin Hood,

They were…real.
So were the rest. There must have been over
a dozen more eccentric characters in the store.
I saw each one moving around in there, as I made
my way back through the people.

Jeeves. Robin Hood. Characters.

Characters….

Characters.

It was then that I fainted.
Right on my own store’s steps.
And it wouldn’t be the first time I fainted that day.

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

 

#Review: Audacity, by @MelanieACrowder

AudacityTitle: Audacity
Author: Melanie Crowder

Rating: 4/5 stars

The inspiring story of Clara Lemlich, whose fight for equal rights led to the largest strike by women in American history

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000. Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world. (description from Goodreads)

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This was a book I randomly grabbed because I was looking for verse novels to read. I’ve enjoyed the form from many different authors, but knew nothing about Audacity or Crowder’s work. Having now read the book, I’m glad I picked this one up.

I hadn’t heard of Clara Lemlich, the narrator (and historical figure), before but now I feel like I have a good idea of who she was. While this was a fictional representation of a few years in Clara’s life, it felt genuine to me. Crowder did a great job of showing the struggle of being an immigrant in the early part of the twentieth century. She also showed the struggles workers, particularly women, went through just to barely make a living wage, at the time.

Along with Clara’s life story being told, this is the story of sweat shop workers, the rise of unions, and women’s rights. These women put up with a lot to earn some money. Crowder doesn’t hold anything back, either. Knowing the details of how the strikes went and the violence they union members had to deal with, it gives me even more respect for those who stood up for their rights.

I don’t read many historical novels, but this will be one I highly recommend from now on. With it being a novel in verse, it only adds to my enjoyment and I think the form allowed the story to have more of an impact on my, as well.

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You can grab your own copy of Audacity from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Melanie CrowderMelanie Crowder has received many honors for her debut novel, Parched, including Bank Street’s Best Books of the Year, a Junior Library Guild selection, a Silver Medal in the Parents’ Choice Awards, and a starred review from the Bulletin. Her second book, Audacity, received four starred reviews, has been nominated for the Amelia Bloomer, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, and ALSC Notable Children’s Books lists, and is an Editor’s Choice at BookBrowse and a Top Pick from BookPage. Her third novel, A Nearer Moon, has received three starred reviews and releases September 8 from Atheneum Books / S&S. The author holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she isn’t writing, Melanie can be found teaching, reading, daydreaming or exploring the beautiful state of Colorado where she lives with her family.

Find out more:

Story Time Friday – Work in Progverse.

Story Time Friday Banner

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Last week, you got a story from me. Before that some poetry. I like to keep things fresh on Story Time Friday, and that’s what I’m doing for this week’s post.

This wasn’t the best week for me to sit down and write. I’ve been shoveling snow since Monday and by the time I’ve finished each day, I barely even wanted to read. That means, I’m typing this up on Thursday night and don’t have anything new to share…or do I?

You’re getting a treat this time around. Months ago I had the idea to try out a verse novel, or more accurately “write something in verse and see how long it gets.” I have some ideas for a piece, and it could easily get to verse novel length. Getting it to be a good one that people’ll want to read is a different story. I can write poetry. I can somewhat write prose. Combining the two isn’t very easy. But I’ll practice at it.

Below are the first four “poems” I wrote for a project I’m slowly working on. It’s not really polished up, and I had to fudge with some of my formatting due to HTML and poetry not mixing all the time (the indents shouldn’t be their own stanzas, so imagine they’re not…especially in the second poem. I hate how that looks right now. For anyone who knows me well, I hate when poetry isn’t how it was intended to look, haha.)

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Great Devastation (working title)

by Robert Zimmermann

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I

It was all over the television
that morning.

bodies,
smoke,
flames
fighting.

Chaos…
Revolution!

That’s what it really
boiled down to;
a Revolution.

They’d, we’d,
finally had enough.

No more talking about
reform and restructuring.
No more waiting for
an economic boom.
No more false smiles
…no more.

II

New York

lost

Los Angeles

lost

Washington,
Boston,
Chicago,
Seattle,

all lost.

Their attacks came fast,
coordinated, full-frontal.
What surprised people most
was how effective each assault was.

Military bases breached first.
…most from the inside.
That’s how deep the revolution
had infiltrated. Into the
country’s defenses.
Into its own people.

Armed to the teeth, this new
militia took up a march.
To the cities, capitals,
against any opposition.
Numbers were gained
just as fast as they were
mowed down.

The fighting went on for months.
Soon the devastation
was everywhere.

There was nowhere to be safe
and not one life would ever be
the same again.

III

There were only two options
to choose from, at this point,
in order to survive.
You either went into hiding
or you chose to fight.
Neither guaranteed survival.

Those who tried to hide
were eventually found,
forced to choose a side.
Some perished
in their concealment.

Those who joined the fight,
well, their fates were
just as unpredictable as
everyone else’s.

IV

I’m with a small group
somewhere in northern Pennsylvania
or it might be somewhere in New York.
None of us has a map
of the area. All we know is
that we’ve been traveling north,
for about two weeks.

There’s been talk about a small colony
being formed near an old military base
near Canada…or what was once Canada.
Shit went to hell up there, too,
a few months after it did here.

There are about twenty of us,
altogether.
Some have left, while others
tag along on the way
as we pass through skeletons of towns.
I might be the one to break
away next.
I’m not sure why I’ve followed
this far. Is there any
real chance they’ve
organized that far north…
after the brutal winter we just had?

Can there be a place organized
anywhere, after what’s happened?

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For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip on in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

#Review: Exposed, by Kimberly Marcus

ExposedTitle: Exposed
Author: Kimberly Marcus
Rating: 4/5 stars

“In the dim light of the darkroom, I’m alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred, so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused and confident in what she sees through her camera lens. Confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever.

But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her, and people are looking the other way when she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz’s world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? What do you do when you may lose everything you love most? Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus’s gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m always looking out for more novels in verse to read. Ever since I read my first, I can’t get enough. I found Exposed through a random Goodreads search, and I’m glad I came across it. I’ll be looking forward to reading more from the author in the future.

I thought the way the author chose to incorporated a X (real word omitted to avoid a spoiler) into the book, but not give X the main focus to be interesting. What could be the main plot line of another book was a “minor” plot point in Exposed. It helped to drive characters, family and friends, apart, but also allowed Liz, the main character and narrator, to show a view on X that isn’t often seen in literature. The view of someone caught in the middle, but not a main player.

Aside from the main conflict, I also enjoyed the author’s ability to use the verse novel form. It’s one thing to write a novel in verse, but to use a form that’s more limited with words, that makes the words used have more emphasis, there were many lines in the book that made it feel like a book of poetry as opposed to a novel. There were many moments of pure poetry to convey Liz’s emotions, her view of a situation, and (a favorite part of her character for me) what she sees through the lens of her camera.

This was a great young adult novel told in verse. It was also a great look into another view on an important issue we may all encounter at some point in life. Despite a few vague areas for me, I felt this was a great debut and as I said earlier, I’m looking forward to more from this author.

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If you’d like a copy of Exposed you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Find more about Kimberly Marcus from her:

Website | Goodreads | Amazon author page

#Review: Psyche in a Dress, by @francescablock

Psyche in a DressTitle: Psyche in a Dress
Author: Francesca Lia Block

Rating: 4/5 stars

“But this is what I could not give up: I could not give up myself Psyche has known Love–scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.” (description from Goodreads)

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I wrote this review back in April and posted it on Goodreads. In reviewing my reading year of 2014 it seems that I didn’t post the review here on A Life Among the Pages. Today I’ll fix that by posting it now.

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I read Block’s Weetzie Bat a few years ago, and I think that helped prepare me for reading this book. Block has an interesting way with language that is beautiful to read, but can also lead to some minor confusion and rereading. It’s not a fault in the writing though. It helps it stand out and allows for the story to do interesting things.

Block takes well known myths and weaves them together into a set of modern day characters. It’s often hard to tell where the myth and the “real world” aspects of the story are because of the blending and language used. But there’s a beauty to how this story is told. I feel that I’ll need to go back and read it again some time down the road to full appreciate it, though. I wasn’t until about halfway through that I was able to find the flow through the verse, especially with it’s lack of punctuation.

I’d be very interested in reading some other poetry (non verse novel works), after reading this. I’ll have to go see if there’s any out there.

If you’re looking for something different, something that might not “click” right away but will make you think and pay attention, this might be a book to check out.

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You can grab a copy of this verse novel from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more:

#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)

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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.

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 You can grab a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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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: