EXCERPT: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

All of This Is True 02

Hello and welcome to the second stop of the #AllofThisIsTruePH blog tour! Thanks to my dear friend JM @ Book Freak Revelations for letting me be a part of this!

I will never not find a single narrative told from multiple perspectives compelling. It is endlessly fascinating, to me at least, how the writer uses this device to examine the inherent power—and limitation—of story: that it is shaped by the person who tells it. And that is what I really enjoyed in Peñaflor’s sophomore novel, All of This Is True. That sense of not getting the whole account. That some things were being constantly and purposefully withheld from me. And that it was told through a series of interviews, online articles, and book excerpts was such an excellent narrative choice.

And today, I am sharing an excerpt from the novel itself! Here; you’re welcome:

*********

MIRI

So, tell me about Fatima Ro. There are a lot of people who are curious about her right now.

All right. But I’m just going to say this outright because it’s probably the one thing we still agree on—me, Soleil, and Penny. We were shallow before we met Fatima Ro. We were all about the scene. You know what I mean about the scene: the parties, the trinkets, the lifestyle. We hosted.

Hosted?

House parties at Penny’s place. It feels like forever ago. Ugh. [shakes head] All those people, the throbbing music . . . Handling all that money.

What money?

We collected a cover charge to fund subsequent parties. Very industrious.

That’s us. [sighs] We met on Orientation Day in seventh grade when we were grouped together for the Graham scavenger hunt. Winners become orientation leaders the following year. We won by splitting up and then finding the last clue together—the school seal on the roof.

You’re a good team.

We were, yes . . . before this. Anyway, our parties were epic. The last one we hosted was casino night. We had game tables and chocolate poker chips. It won’t be outdone for years.

That’s pretty impressive.

[laughs] Oh, please. We thought taking selfies on the roulette table was the stuff of life. The reality was we were bored out of our skulls. You see, the basic human need for emotional intimacy can’t be satisfied by a sushi station or a celebrity DJ. Fatima made us realize that. She changed everything for us. Even that phrase, “the stuff of life,” that’s something I picked up from her. I wouldn’t have said that just now if it weren’t for her; I probably would’ve said something more like “We thought taking selfies was so Vogue-worthy.” But now, I’m saying “the stuff of life” because Fatima pretty much gave us a whole new language, a new way of thinking, of living. When she took us in, all of a sudden I realized . . . we all realized that we were starving to be part of something meaningful. Becoming friends with Fatima Ro—I mean, actually being part of her inner circle—was it.

Were you a fan of her novel Undertow?

Definitely. That’s how this whole thing started. Absolutely. All of us were fans. Well, we girls were, anyway. Jonah was along for the company. But still, even he was fascinated by her. I read Undertow when it first came out. When I found out how young Fatima was—barely out of college—it made sense that I felt close to her writing. She got me. I love Undertow as if it’s a living being, which is passion in its truest form. That’s what separates a casual interest from a passion. I credit Fatima for my understanding of that.

You see, you can be in love with a thing the way you can be in love with a person. A thing can physically trigger the same chemical responses as another human can: oxytocin and vasopressin. Fatima taught me this. Her book proved it. But I just cringe at how the media is comparing it to other novels. Because what you have to understand is that Undertow was never a Harry Potter phenomenon. I mean, nobody’s wearing Undertow Halloween costumes. There’s no Undertow Disney theme park. But that’s what’s so authentic about it. If you love Undertow it’s because you get it, not because there’s a Tom Hanks movie and a Happy Meal. This book has a much quieter, more thoughtful following. And to me, it feels more genuine to be part of something personal like that.

*********

All of This Is True 01

Title: All of This Is True
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publication: May 15th 2018 by HarperTeen
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Mystery
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

Synopsis

Four Long Island teens befriend a bestselling YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined…

Author

Lygia Day Peñaflor 01

Lygia became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd (Macmillan) and All of This Is True, which will be published by HarperTeen US, Bloomsbury UK, and translated in six countries in summer 2018.

Lygia also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives with her husband on Long Island where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.

TwitterWebsite

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

May 17Book Freak Revelations
May 19The Ultimate Fangirl
May 20Bibliophile Kid
May 21Stay Bookish

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02

Advertisements

REVIEW: Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth

Secondhand Origin Stories Tour Banner

Title: Secondhand Origin Stories
Author: Lee Blauersouth
Format: Ebook
Publication: March 15th 2018 by Createspace Independent Publishing
Source: Author via blog tour (thank you Lee Blauersouth and Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch!)
Genre: Fiction—Science Fiction
Other classifications: LGBTQIAYoung Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

Synopsis

Opal has been planning to go to Chicago and join the Midwest’s superhero team, the Sentinels, since she was a little kid. That dream took on a more urgent tone when her superpowered dad was unjustly arrested for protecting a neighbor from an abusive situation. Now, she wants to be a superhero not only to protect people, but to get a platform to tell the world about the injustices of the Altered Persons Bureau, the government agency for everything relating to superpowers.

But just after Opal’s high school graduation, a supervillain with a jet and unclear motives attacks the downtown home of the Sentinels, and when Opal arrives, she finds a family on the brink of breaking apart. She meets a boy who’s been developing secret (and illegal) brain-altering nanites right under the Sentinel’s noses, another teenage superhero-hopeful who looks suspiciously like a long-dead supervillain, and the completely un-superpowered daughter of the Sentinels’ leader. Can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed?

Review

I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Welcome to one of the stops on the second day of the #SHOSPH Blog Tour!

Heavily character-driven, Lee Blauersouth’s Secondhand Origin Stories is less a superhero novel and more a novel about a dysfunctional family of superheroes. And that makes for a more compelling narrative.

The book follows four teens; each having something to prove, all wanting to protect their family. There is Opal, who has always dreamed of becoming a superhero and joining the Sentinels. Issac, who has been developing secret but positively illegal brain-altering nanites to save a family member. Yael, who has been training for the life of a superhero for as long as xe can remember. Except the past, an inheritance xe has no control over, keeps resurfacing and threatening that future. And Jamie, who will always support her siblings no matter what. But can four teens on the fringes of the superhero world handle the corruption, danger, and family secrets they’ve unearthed? One of the things I love about Secondhand Origin Stories is that even though it has an ensemble cast, the author does a fantastic job of shining a spotlight on the individual characters. And that is no easy task. You feel for the characters. They are complex and flawed and you root for them.

“Xe stepped towards him. His knees bent as if to step back, but he held his ground. He was a hero. Which meant Yael had to be something else.”

It is quite hard to miss out the amount of thoughtful nuances that went into writing this story. It is timely, gripping, and emotionally resonant. Each character has a distinct voice, and although the novel is told in third-person, the shifts are seamless and at times even smart. For instance, there is a confrontation between Issac, Jamie, and their mom, and it unfolds in such a way that the reader views it from Opal’s POV. And I think that is brilliant, because it strips down the scene to its barest form. It also shows that Opal is an outsider. Which is another aspect of the book I appreciate: it does not shy away from the struggles of its characters. You join Yael as xe makes peace with who xe is and who xe wants to become. You are there as Opal wrestles with the reality of her dreams. As Jamie tries to reconnect with her dad. And as Issac reevaluates what he believes in and how much he is willing to fight for them. I am a sucker for family drama, and Secondhand Origin Stories certainly delivers. It could have easily fit in the CW lineup.

“We can’t always save everyone.”

I could not stress this more: we still need diverse books. There are still not nearly enough diverse stories by and about people from diverse experiences out there, and that is why I am stoked for Blauersouth’s book and what it adds to the conversation. Secondhand Origin Stories has representations on gender, sexuality, race, and disability. It touches on systemic racism and the insidious ways marginalization works. There is one scene where a black character finds herself faced with uniformed men and she gets anxious, not without reasons, and is suddenly “hyper-aware of her skin, dark enough to paint a target on her.” And it is these little details that really leave the most impact, for me at least.

“There was something about queer kids that made them seem to cluster together, without even meaning to. Without even knowing. It was something she’d learned to trust.”

Perhaps it has a slow start and perhaps it is a bit unpolished, but this novel is self-published y’all! I can only imagine what Blauersouth can accomplish with the backing of an established publisher.

For superhero film buffs who want well-written character arcs. Go grab yourself a copy of Secondhand Origin Stories!

4.0 out of 5
Author

Lee Blauersouth 01

After about a decade of drawing comics independently or with small presses, Lee started writing prose out of a combination of peer pressure and spite, then continued out of attachment to their favorite made-up people. They live in Minnesota even though it is clearly not a habitat humans were ever meant to endure, with their lovely wife/editor, the world’s most perfect baby, and books in every room of the house.

If you like categories, they’re an ENFJ Slytherin Leo. If you’re looking for demographics they’re an agender bisexual with a couple of disabilities. If you’re into lists of likes: Lee loves comics, classical art, round animals, tattoos, opera, ogling the shiner sciences, and queer stuff.

TwitterWebsite

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

April 23
Secondhand Origin Stories blog tour launch
Feature post from The Backwards Bookshelf
Feature post from Candid Ceillie
Review from The Backwards Bookshelf
Review from Crimson Blogs
Review from Samantha House
Review from Stuffed Shelves

April 24
Excerpt from Not Just Fiction
Excerpt from Utopia State of Mind
Feature post from Unputdownable Books
Review from That Bookshelf Bitch
Review from Cliste Bella
Review from wallflower’s plight

April 25
Excerpt from The Nerdy Elite
Excerpt from BookMyHart
Review from Candid Ceillie
Review from F A N N A
Review from forthenovellovers
Review from Igniting Pages
Review from Spines In a Line

April 26
Excerpt from Provocatrix
Review from Bookish Wanderess
Review from bookishwisps
Review from Flying Paperbacks
Review from TheHufflepuffNerdette
Review from My Reading List
Review from Unputdownable Books

April 27
Author interview on That Bookshelf Bitch
Feature post from Cliste Bella
Review from Afire Pages
Review from The Book Maiden
Review from The Little Miss Bookworm
Review from Reader Fox and a Box of Books
Review from The Youngvamp’s Haven

Question: are you Team Plot-Driven or Team Character-Driven? And have you heard about Secondhand Origin Stories before today? Would you be picking it up anytime soon? Sound off in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02

Unmissable Weekly: February 25, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

The Most Anticipated Book of 2018
via

Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” is heading for a stunning $235 million debut over the four-day President’s Day weekend at 4,020 North American locations, estimates showed Monday.

“Black Panther,” starring Chadwick Boseman and directed by Ryan Coogler, has blown away its original tracking in less than a month. The film, which carries an estimated $200 million production cost, had been tracking to bring in between an impressive $100 and $120 million when first estimates emerged on Jan. 25.

Wakanda forever! (Yes, I am totally chill and not freaking out.)

*********

This book is set to come out amidst a national conversation about student activism and weapon use on campus. It’s surreal watching it happen; Anger was born out of my desire to explore my own experiences with police forces on high school campuses, becoming an activist while still a teenager, and learning how to join with fellow students to fight for what’s right. It is unfortunate that this is all relevant again, nearly 16 years since I graduated high school. That’s one reason I love this cover so much: it conveys a sense of hope more than anything else. It’s my desire that Anger inspire kids everywhere to join a long tradition of student activism and to feel supported while doing so.

Mark Oshiro’s debut Anger is a Gift has a new cover art and IS IT MAY YET!

*********

Yara Shahidi is in talks to star in the adaptation of the best-selling YA novel The Sun Is Also a Star.

The Nicola Yoon book centers on Natasha, a girl in New York City whose pragmatism is challenged when she falls in love right before her family is set to be deported back to Jamaica.

The Sun is Also a Star may soon find its lead actress.

*********

We’ve been told the same story for so long. We’ve seen literally 1,000 Lord of the Rings movies. I keep thinking about what it would have been like if I had seen this growing up — if I’d seen someone even darker than me, someone who doesn’t have straight fantasy hair, but a curly magical afro. I know what it would have done that for me, because I know what it did for me when I did see these things for the first time. Like with Kerry Washington on Scandal. I remember being like — that’s me, I’m the main character! I’m badass! I’m emotionally complex! I’m making out with the president! Cool cool cool! You don’t realize what’s missing until you see it. And then once you do, you’re like, why do I feel like I could lift a car right now? So this is why white men feel so great all the time.

Tomi Adeyemi is coming for y’all, starting with the book trailer for Children of Blood and Bone and a fantastic interview.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: February 18, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

Angie Thomas Headshot 2 Hig.JPG
via

It was sitting down and thinking about what it was that brought me to write THUG. Starr’s story [from THUG] is a tragedy we see unfortunately too much, and it always makes headline news. But I had to think back to when I was a teenager, and I had to think about what was my big tragedy as a teenager. I never saw a friend get killed by a cop. My big tragedy as a teenager was when my mom lost her job. Kids like Bri, they don’t end up on the news like that. Kids like Bri, they become statistics and numbers. We hear numbers about poverty. We hear statistics about poverty. Then we see the stereotypes about poverty. Those kids are never seen as actual people. Their stories are never told. For me, I sat down and I said, “You know what, I want to write something about that big tragedy that happened in my life, because there are so many kids out there who are going through that same thing, and we don’t talk about that enough.”

Angie Thomas’ sophomore novel, On the Come Up, has a cover and she talked to EW about it and what the process of writing this follow-up was like.

*********

Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish and Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy are finalizing deals to star in The Kitchen, based on comic by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, published through DC’s Vertigo imprint. Andrea Berloff, who co-wrote Straight Outta Compton, is writing the screenplay and making the film her feature directing debut.

I have yet to see Haddish in a project but I’ll definitely watch anything McCarthy works on, so yes please!

*********

In a recent post on his blog, comedically titled “Not a Blog,” about the Hugo Awards nominations, Martin engaged with curious fans in the comments section. There, he revealed that “Fire and Blood,” a spinoff about the Targaryen family history, will be split into two volumes – both of which will come out before “Winds of Winter.”

At this point, I’ll be more surprised to see a press release actually talking about Winds of Winter.

*********

The week began with the world of children’s and young adult literature celebrating its most prestigious awards, the industry’s version of the Oscars. It ended with surprise and confusion as trade groups, literary agents and a publisher broke with several best-selling authors over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The industry’s sudden reckoning with the #MeToo movement primarily involved complaints that a long list of prominent writers and editors exploited their power and position at keystone industry events to make sexual advances, particularly toward female authors hoping to further their careers.

These past days have been heartbreaking and enraging and, for some people, confusing. But with everything that has been happening in Hollywood, it was only a matter of time. The publishing industry still is an industry after all. An industry with men and power imbalance.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (+ Giveaway)

Down and Across 02

Title: Down and Across
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Format: ARC, 322 pages
Publication: February 6th 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via blog tour (thank you Penguin Random House and JM @ Book Freak Revelations!)
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | National Book Store

Synopsis

Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try—all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Welcome to the last stop of the #DownandAcrossPH Blog Tour!

Smart, funny and exceedingly relatable, Down and Across is a solid debut from YA newcomer Arvin Ahmadi.

It centers on sixteen-year-old Iranian-American Scott Ferdowsi who doesn’t quite know what to do in life. He has tried several clubs in school and has considered and changed career paths one too many times. His strict immigrant parents want him to take things seriously and choose medicine or engineering or law, but Scott doesn’t want to settle. So, the summer his parents fly to Iran to take care of an ailing grandfather, Scott quits his internship and hops on a bus to Washington, DC, where he intends to seek counsel from a Georgetown professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of passion, perseverance, and success. What Scott doesn’t intend to do is to stay more than a day. Or befriend the girl she meets on the ride to DC. Or pick up another at the National Zoo. But Scott is definitely in for some adventure. And that is what’s so refreshing about Down and Across, because it’s at once fun and enjoyable and moving. I can’t even tell you how many times I snickered or downright laughed in my commute to work. Scott is charming and funny but he doesn’t make the best decisions. And that made me root for him all the more.

“I woke up that morning with a throbbing headache and some nausea, but the worst offender was the foul stench that had taken over the inside of my mouth. The corpse of my adolescence. I could feel it escaping through my teeth and lips. It felt permanent, like I could brush my teeth a million times and still be stuck with that awful taste. (I brushed twice.)”

‬In Lorde’s latest album, Melodrama, she has a track that goes, “You asked if I was feeling it, I’m psycho high / Know you won’t remember in the morning when I speak my mind / Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I?” And my reading experience with Ahmadi’s novel reminded me of those lines. Only Lorde will take her hangover as an opportunity for existential reflection. And she does this with such eloquence. Just as how Ahmadi takes up this conversational tone and somehow manages to drive home and capture articulately the anxieties of growing up and not knowing what it is you want. The way he commands his words, his every clever turn of phrase, Ahmadi has a pinpoint-sharp awareness of voice.

“I wondered about Jeanette, who was so assured in her beliefs that she knew exactly how to shoot down the skeptics. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not to question your identity every second of every day, but to simply know.”

The author said in an NPR interview that it was important for him to represent not just diversity of skin color or culture but a diversity of interests and backgrounds. And that, to me, translates really well into the pages because the cast of characters Scott meets in DC is just as colorful and diverse in terms of experiences and personalities, which is reminiscent of another debut that came out a couple of years back—David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. Fiora is this seemingly manic pixie dream girl who turns out to be flawed. I love how Scott doesn’t romanticize her. He gets mad at her. He calls out her bs. There’s Trent. Oh Trent. He is such a pure person. The world needs more Trents! Jeanette, meanwhile, is whatever. She’s infuriating, but her actions make sense. She’s obviously wrong and there’s no reality where I’d agree with her but she’s very firm with her values and acts accordingly and you have to appreciate that. Then there are Scott’s parents, who want what’s best for him even though they don’t necessarily know what that means. There’s this one scene where Scott phones his dad and I totally lost it.

“I spent the night on Fiora’s couch and dozed off thinking about the universe. How it’s indefinitely incomplete—like us. How the best ideas, events, people, and lives don’t need to wrap up nicely to mean something.”

I’m obviously stoked that we’re getting more representation in literature and cinema—especially in the young adult community—where the narrative is leaning towards “issues” and talking about the experience of a person from a specific marginalized race or cultural background. But at the same time I’m delighted that we’re seeing this other dialogue where the protagonist’s skin color isn’t directly linked to the plot. And Down and Across—along with Jasmine Warga’s sophomore book Here We Are Now—is such a fantastic example of this. Because these stories show us that while there’s a multitude of little and significant ways in which people are different, even if we share the same culture, even if we have the same sexuality, there are also things that make us alike more than we realize. And that is so affirming.

Down and Across is not a page-turner. It might not even be something you haven’t seen before. But it gets me. And I’m almost positive it gets you, too.

4.5 out of 5
Author

Arvin Ahmadi 01

Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia
University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing
books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing
Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.

TwitterWebsite

You can read Down and Across, too! Enter THIS giveaway for a chance to win one (1) advance reader copy. Entries are open worldwide and will be accepted until 11:59pm (EST), March 5th.

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

Arctic Books
The Ultimate Fangirl
The Bibliophile Confessions
Divergent Gryffindor
Stay Bookish

Are you picking up this debut anytime soon or are you really picking up this debut anytime soon? If you’re lucky to have read this in advance, can we talk about Trent? ❤ Also, what are some of your recent favorite contemporary YA reads? Sound off in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02

Unmissable Weekly: January 21, 2018

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news, lists, and/or think pieces from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

#BrilliantBrownBoys 01
via

With the help of an administrator, 10 fifth-graders started a book club at this school in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest Washington — and it has fast become the most popular club on campus, with staff members struggling to keep up with their students’ voracious literary habits.

A book club for boys of color! #BrilliantBrownBoys

*********

It’s time to re-examine the decade-old culture surrounding Twilight-bashing.

“Dear Stephenie Meyer, I am sorry.” Agreed. Everything else, hard pass.

*********

This year, among the biggest names to be featured as editors are Roxane Gay (Hunger), who will helm the Short Story collection; Cheryl Strayed (Wild), guest-editing the Travel Writing section; and Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker theater critic Hilton Als, who will oversee the Essays book. In addition, legendary food critic Ruth Reichl will edit the Best American Series’ first-ever book on Food Writing.

The 2018 Best American Series finds its editors!

*********

“One of the great things about YA right now is we’re getting more and more diverse books.”

Arvin Ahmadi on the importance of representation in books and how we shine a light on it.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: The Gwythienian by Savannah J. Goins

The Gwythienian 01

Title: The Gwythienian
Author: Savannah J. Goins
Format: Paperback, 351 pages
Publication: November 3rd 2017 by Mason Mill Publishing House
Source: Author (thank you so much, Savannah!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Fantasy
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy. But it made her wonder if she was crazy. Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn’t make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she’d needed to hide again from Caleb. Maybe she’d only been imagining it; insomnia could do that to you. The nightmares had never left since that day seven years ago and she’d never really learned to cope with them.

But what if she wasn’t crazy?

When she finds out that someone else has been searching for the stone—someone from another world—she must decide what to do with it. Should she get rid of it? Or find out what other secrets it holds?

Review

I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

The first title in a planned trilogy, The Gwythienian is an enjoyable if a bit unpolished debut.

It is about a girl named Mackenzi “Enzi” Montgomery who, in the week she turns seventeen, learns not only that her mother has been hiding a huge secret from her but also that another realm exists and is subsequently abducted and taken to it. All for the stone in her necklace. There, she meets a dragon-like creature named Gaedyen who asks her to join him in a quest. Head reeling from her mother’s betrayal and the discovery that someone she thought dead is very much alive and maybe thrilled by the idea of escaping her boring world—along with a haunting childhood trauma—for a while, she agrees. But is she ready to take on such a task? The thing about books and reading is that each encounter is very subjective. And while I think The Gwythienian leaves much to be desired, I quite liked certain parts of it and I’d be remiss not to point out that it has potential and that it might be more fitting for other readers.

“None of the things that I tried to do worked out like they were supposed to. All I wanted was to do something right for a change. Was it so much to ask for it to just once work out like it was supposed to?”

Possibly my favorite aspect of the book is the dynamics between the MCs, Enzi and Gaedyen, which is delightful. There are banters and the gap between the two—the gap born out of innate differences between two different creatures—is often amusing. I also appreciate the fact that the heroine is fat and has to go on this very physical journey. That on top of her insecurities on top of her traumatic past. Really, Enzi has every reason not to agree to this, and I’m not even talking about her companion being a sentient dragon whom she just met. She has very real and very immediate concerns: the trip is physically demanding and her body isn’t used to running and long hikes. And yet, she takes up the challenge and not once is the subject brushed off. And then, there’s—and this is not a spoiler; it’s hinted at in the synopsis and the first chapter of the book—implied sexual abuse. I thought it’s handled well. It’s this constant sort of presence and, even though the ordeal happened years before the story begins, it’s evident that Enzi is still processing it.

“Wasn’t I entitled to a little privacy where my body was concerned?”

I must say, however, that I’m not well versed in fantasy novels but the world building seems pretty solid to me. The mythology of it is accessible and easy to follow and, despite its own set of vocabulary, I had no trouble with information overload. Although, I did find the pacing odd; the book almost opens in a conflict then nothing much happens until you’re suddenly moving from one significant scene to another, all crammed towards the last half. I believe there is a compelling way to introduce the plot line and establish your characters even if there are just pages after pages of dialogue between them. Instead, there are moments in the last third of the novel that felt strained.

“”That’s a lot to take on, Gaedyen.”
His eyes bored into mine, and they were full of such sadness that I felt a tear emerge from my own for his pain.
“Has your future never depended on proving your worth?””

If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read, check out Savannah J. Goin’s The Gwythienian.

3.0 out of 5

Author

Savannah J. Goins 01

YA fantasy novelist and professional dragon wrangler, Savannah J. Goins, fell in love with the genre through C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia many years ago. Since then, it’s been nothing but dragons, sword fights and talking animals. She spends her days in a veterinary hospital working with real animals, and her nights giving voices to the ones in her stories. She also enjoys sketching, drinking tea and coffee, and discovering new bookshops.

Facebook | TwitterWebsite

Have you heard about this title prior to reading my review? Will you be checking it out anytime soon? What is your stand on books having their own sets of vocabulary? And what are your favorite YA fantasy novels? Let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Signature 02