Waiting on Wednesday #8

I’m currently working my way through several ARCs that are due out around September and October, all of which share a common theme – being super creepy! I’m sure the release date timing has something to do with getting readers in the mood for Halloween, but I’m the type of person who loves a good thriller or horror story any time of year. Even in the bright sunshine of summer, I crave stories that are dark and haunting, which makes me even more excited that I don’t have much longer to wait for this week’s Waiting on Wednesday selection:

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The Telling

By Alexandra Sirowy

Publication Date: August 2, 2016

 

Summary (via Goodreads)

Lana used to know what was real.

That was before when her life was small and quiet.
Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.

Why I’m Waiting

First of all, check out that gorgeous cover! It’s the first thing that drew me to this book. It’s mysterious, haunting, and somewhat similar to some other covers that take up residence on my shelves. I’m a major fan of horror/thrillers within the YA genre, and I can’t wait to add this one to my collection.
Alexandra Sirowy is one of those authors I keep meaning to read, and this time, I’m determined to check her out. Her first book, The Creeping, has an incredibly gruesome premise (check it out on Goodreads), and I’ve heard great reviews from other readers.
I’m looking for hair-raising twists, chilling characters that will live on in my nightmares, and enough mystery to keep me guessing till the last pages. The Telling sounds like it will certainly fit that bill.

Add The Telling to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases.

Off the Shelf: A Review of The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

On the day that the news broke about the shooting in Orlando, I thought about the state of the world that we live in, and my heart wanted to break. I picked up The Steep and Thorny Way and delved into the last few chapters I had remaining. Usually, reading serves as an escape for me, a way to leave the horrors and tragedies of this world behind me just for awhile and run away to someplace new. But I didn’t pick up The Steep and Thorny Way to take me someplace new. It’s not that kind of book. This book is a reminder that atrocities such as racism and homophobia are not just an embarrassing part of our past that can be swept under the rug of history. The cruelty that stems from these ideas still exists, and our society must constantly combat them with beliefs rooted in equality and love. We’re making progress, but we still have so much further to go.

As usual, Cat Winters delivers a narrative that not only focuses on social injustices, but also transports the reader back in time to experience these issues through the eyes of the characters. The Steep and Thorny Way gives us Hanalee Denney, a biracial girl in Prohibition-era Oregon, who is trying to seek justice for her murdered father, Hank Denney, whose ghost now haunts the street where he was killed. Joe Adder, a teen boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank, also knows what it’s like to be “different” in their town of Elston. Joe claims that it wasn’t him that killed Hanalee’s father, and that the true criminal is now married to Hanalee’s mother. “Uncle Clyde” has plenty of secrets to hide, and when the story of Hank Denney’s death starts to unravel, Hanalee and Joe have to protect themselves from the prejudices propagated in their small town by the Ku Klux Klan.

Readers of Shakespeare’s Hamlet will be delighted to draw together all of the parallels in this retelling, but they will also find that this story has a unique twist and will keep you guessing until the very end. Certainly, writing about the kinds of prejudices faced by the characters in this book had to be tricky, but their story is one that needs told, especially in this day and age when hate is still prevalent. Winters does a masterful job and bestows upon her readers the ingredients for overcoming hate: bravery, hope, and love.

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“Hate doesn’t even begin to describe what’s happening. (…) People in this state are controlling who can and can’t breed, Hanalee. They’re eradicating those of us who aren’t white, Protestant, American-born, or sexually normal in their eyes. They’re ‘purifying’ Oregon.”

Summary (via Goodreads)

Scene: Oregon, 1923.

Dramatis personae:

Hanalee Denney, daughter of a white woman and an African American man

Hank Denney, her father—a ghost

Greta Koning, Hanalee’s mother

Clyde Konig, doctor who treated Hank Denney the night he died, now Hanalee’s stepfather

Joe Adder, teenage boy convicted of accidentally killing Hank Denney

Members of the Ku Klux Klan

Townspeople of Elston, Oregon

Question: Was Hank Denney’s death an accident…or was it murder most foul?

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Things I Liked:

I did something with this book that I’ve never done before. Five pages into reading it, I sat the book down, picked up my phone, and texted all of my reader friends that THIS was a book that they needed to get their hands on. Seriously – five pages. That’s all it took, and I was hooked.

Everything about this book feels authentic, from the setting and the characters right down to the language. Cat Winters does make mention in her author’s note that she had to tread a delicate line when it came to authentic yet offensive terms and labels, but that she really wanted to reflect how people from the 1920’s would have actually described Hanalee and Joe. “There are some words, however, whose power to hurt and belittle goes beyond the need for historical accuracy,” she says, and those words are not included in The Steep and Thorny Way. I don’t think anyone should shy away from this book due to the offensive terms because if you or your child are uncomfortable with the terms used, then likely it’s because you don’t agree with the terminology and can therefore converse about why terms like that are considered offensive and shouldn’t be used.

Things I Didn’t Like:

You’re not going to find me complaining about anything here. This book is too important to nitpick at little details.

Overall Rating:

It’s a hard concept to comprehend – a person wanting to harm someone based simply on his/her skin color, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, etc. – if you’ve never been the victim of it yourself. The world can be a brutal, horrific, violent place for those that are deemed “different” from the norm. Hanalee provides the reader with a realistic outlook on the cruelty she and so many like her have experienced. I’m sure many of us would like to believe that this time period is vastly different from our own, but we still see so many crimes against humanity committed by those filled with evil and hate in their hearts. The Steep and Thorny Way will push readers out of their comfort zones, awaken a thirst for justice, and inspire the fight against discrimination. Prepare yourself to feel ENRAGED while reading. Take note of WHY you feel that way. Then, always remember Laurence’s words to Hanalee – “Don’t ever let them make you feel small.”

Cat Winters is masterful at her craft, blending history, mystery, and a dash of supernatural into every story. The Steep and Thorny Way will replay in your head long after you’ve closed the covers, and with a message as important as this one, that’s a good thing. This book receives a perfect score, 5/5, from me for being a beacon of hope in a really dark time. I hope I live to see a world that one day puts hate behind us and embraces equality for all.

Also, I look forward to shaking her hand and thanking Cat Winters for this book at this year’s Ohio River Festival of Books, the book festival presented by the Cabell County Public Library. Yet another reason why I love my job is getting to be involved in this fantastic event that highlights both national and local authors, and I’ve been ecstatic ever since I found out that I will get to meet the woman who has had such a profound impact on my love of both reading and writing young adult fiction.

“Do you hope to get married someday?” he asked.

“As long as I don’t fall in love with a man the wrong color.”

He exhaled a steady stream of air through his nostrils. “I think love and wrong are two deeply unrelated words that should never be thrown into the same sentence together. Like dessert and broccoli.”

 

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Check out my Waiting on Wednesday post for The Steep and Thorny Way prior to publication

Waiting on Wednesday #7

I’ll admit, when I read the description of Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger on teenreads.com, I pictured a somewhat different story. The summary began “They are four best friends who’ve shared joy and secrets, love and memories, and since the beginning, Lorna was the one who held them all together”. In my head, that sentence conjured up memories of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a series which my childhood friends and I had enjoyed greatly. Obviously, as the summary continued, the book described clearly wouldn’t be as light hearted as the Sisterhood series, as it deals with the circumstances of the presumed drowning of Lorna and how the three surviving friends cope with their grief and questions about Lorna’s death. When I read the teenreads summary, I assumed that all of the survivors were female, which probably lead to my connecting it with the Sisterhood series, but it was enough to strike my interest and for me to seek out the title on Goodreads – at which point, I found something even better than what I originally expected.

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Local Girl Swept Away
By Ellen Wittlinger

Publication Date: June 15, 2016

Summary (via Goodreads)

Stark, uncompromising, seductive, beautiful – this describes the tourist town of Cape Cod, where a young woman’s body remains to be found. Three friends struggle to come to terms with their missing leader and with the secrets each endeavor to hide.

Set in the Cape Cod village of Provincetown, Massachusetts, this is the story about 17-year-old Jackie’s struggle to overcome her grief and confusion after her best friend is carried out to sea during a storm. Lorna had been the dynamic leader of a tight-knit group of four friends – Jackie, Lucas and Finn – and her disappearance changes the dynamics between the surviving three. Jackie is still hiding her feelings for Finn, who had been Lorna’s boyfriend, and Lucas has withdrawn to the point where Jackie wonders if he is keeping a secret even larger than her own. Meanwhile the future looms, and Jackie fears leaving the only life she has known.

Why I’m Waiting:

This story seems to be less about Lorna the Leader and more about Jackie, the best friend with conflicted feelings. As the friendship dynamics shift, I’m interested to see how certain suspenseful twists build and questions start to arise. Did Lorna fall? Was she pushed? Did she jump? Or is Lorna even really gone at all? I suspect that there’s loads of potential for this story in the mysteries that surround Lorna’s death. Will this group of friends support each other through their grief or will their secrets tear them apart?

Also, I have to give a major shout out to Ellen Wittlinger. She’s essentially living my dream. If you read her bio, you’ll find out that Ellen was once a children’s librarian, and now, she has several award-winning novels under her belt. The idea behind this blog’s name – Among the Authors – is that I adore my job as a Youth Services librarian, but that I also hope to one day have my own books published and shelved among the authors I admire on the library’s shelves. Congratulations, Ellen, I can’t wait to check this one out!

Add Local Girl Swept Away to your To Be Read Shelf on Goodreads
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