Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been GoneTitle: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Mary Jennifer Payne
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Published by Dundurn Group on 2015-01-24
ISBN: 978-1459728189
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she's in a different country.
Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn't come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life."

My Review

Since You’ve Been Gone is a book that touches on some real issues and, for the most part, deals with them in an authentic way.  Edie and her mother Sydney have been living on the run, escaping her violent father.  The way their life has been described is so real… the hiding, the half truths, the starting over.  Edie has developed anger issues, a classic sign of lingering PTSD.  Her mother has gone the other way, overly calm to avoid anger of any kind.

I thought that Edie’s character as a survivor of domestic abuse was well developed.  Some of the choices she made after her mother’s disappearance seem stupid on the surface, but they are in keeping with someone who is used to hiding and running.  She has no trust in anyone, but her desperate need to have roots and to trust leads her to Jermaine.

The only true complete complaint I have is that I wish it had been longer.  The story was so good and had such bones.  I just felt that some of the issues could have been more developed and explored.  Edie’s anger was such an integral part of who she was and I would have liked to see more about that.  Then there was the issue of racism that came up during a scene with Jermaine and that had proise, too.

My Recommendation

I like that the story talked about real issues and I loved that the ending was not the typical conclusion.  A good read!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Mary Jennifer Payne

Mary Jennifer Payne’s writing has been published in journals, anthologies, and magazines both in Canada and abroad, and she is the author of several YA graphic novels. Since You’ve Been Gone is her first YA novel. She teaches with the Toronto District School Board and lives in Toronto.

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First Frost

First FrostTitle: First Frost
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Series: Waverly Family #2
Also in this series: Garden Spells
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance
Pages: 305
Published by St. Martin's Press on 2015-01-20
ISBN: 978-1250019837
ASIN: B00LDQXASE
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves...

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen's enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins.

My Review

First Frost picks up several years after the magical Garden Spells.  Things have changed for the Waverly women, and little Bay is in high school now.  Magic is still afoot and it is so delightful to read each Waverly’s journey with the family magic and how it works for each of them.

I like that these books don’t focus on just one of the Waverlys, but weaves the stories of all of them together.  Even the stories of Evanelle and Loralei stories are told in Frost Frost, despite the distant relation of Evanelle and the fact that Loralei is long since past.  We even learn a bit about Mary, the grandmother of Sydney and Claire.  All of their stories have a piece of the Waverly magic, manifested in different ways and used in different ways.

I love this author’s writing!  Like everything she has written, there is a little bit of magic, a little bit of whimsy, a lot of love, and no small amount of intrigue.  The apple tree in the garden of the Waverly home is as magical as ever, ready to be celebrated again as it blooms, atypically, at first frost.  First frost is a big deal to this family, almost a time of renewal as all the craziness that has been building comes to an end when the tree blooms again!

My Recommendation

This is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.  In fact, I recommend everything by Sarah Addison Allen!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Sarah Addison Allen

New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature — because, as she puts it, “I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate.”

After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen’s accomplished debut “spellbindingly charming.” The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.

Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as “Southern-fried magic realism.” Clearly, it’s a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

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Lucid

LucidTitle: Lucid
Author: Adrienne Stoltz, Ron Bass
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Published by Razorbill on 2012-10-02
ISBN: 978-1595146366
ASIN: B00F6IMZ2M
Format: Hardcover
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn't be more different--except for one thing. They share a secret that they can't tell a soul. At night, they dream that they're each other.

The deeper they're pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

My Review

This book was very different from pretty much anything I have read before!  I just don’t know how I feel about it.  It is a book that makes you think, the story line so unusual and so gripping.  I was totally engrossed, just needing to know what was happening.  But the book was a complete mind trip!

Sloane and Maggie were opposite ends of the spectrum.  Sloane is a good student, living with her family in Connecticut and crushing on the new guy.  Maggie doesn’t go to school anymore, needing the time for auditions, living a glamourous life in New York City.  The two couldn’t be more different.   But when they go to sleep each night, they dream of each other, despite never having met.  And this is where the mind bending comes in.  Who is real?  Who is a dream?

The story is told through the perspectives of each girl from chapter to chapter.  We get to know each of them so well, two complete and distinct girls.  But then when things start to fall apart near the end, it becomes almost impossible to separate them.  Both of them stand to lose everything and it is impossible to root for one over the other.  Both girls are vulnerable and good people and it is heart wrenching.  The ending is emotional and perplexing, the kind of conclusion that is completely open to the reader’s interpretation.

My Recommendation

This is an intense book, full of love and loss.  It is a book that makes you think and I came with an infinite number of theories for why things were as they were.  Who is real and who isn’t?  What is insanity and what is dream?

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Adrienne Stoltz

She graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California with a Bachelor’s Degree. She is the writing partner of Ron Bass, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, California.

About Ron Bass

Ron Bass is the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Rain Man, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and The Joy Luck Club, among many others. He has collaborated on screenplays with Adrienne Stoltz for the past ten years.

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All The Butterflies in the World

All The Butterflies in the WorldTitle: All The Butterflies in the World
Author: Rodney Jones
Series: The Sun the Moon and Maybe the Trains #2
Also in this series: The Sun, the Moon and Maybe the Trains
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 300
Published by Red Adept Publishing on 2014-10-28
ISBN: 978-1940215365
ASIN: B00O87R33S
Format: eBook
Source: book tour, publisher

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

With her senior year looming, Tess McKinnon has two goals: hanging out with her best friend, Liz, and avoiding her judgmental, alcoholic mother. Then yummy John Bartley arrives—to tell Mrs. McKinnon that her daughter is dead. Distinctly still alive, Tess is baffled by John’s tales of 1800s time travel, rewritten lives, and love. She knows she’s never seen him before, but her feelings refuse to be denied.

When Tess and John discover an aged newspaper clipping that indicates John’s uncle was hanged for Tess’s murder in 1875, John decides to return to his time to save his uncle’s life, but when Tess checks the article after John’s departure, she is horrified to discover that John has been hanged instead.

Armed with determination and modern ingenuity, Tess must abandon her past and risk her future for a chance to catch her own killer and find her first love for the second time.

My Review

All The Butterflies in the World picked up right at the same moment as the previous book ended.  John and Tess are face to face and it is clear that the Butterfly Effect is in play.  While I am fascinated with that theory, it almost made me a little sad to know that the moments I loved the most between them from the first book were gone for Tess.

Unlike the first novel, the chapters switched back and forth between the viewpoints of Tess and John.  I liked that especially in this book because, for much of the book, the two were living separate lives.  Tess is still in 2009 after John has gone back to his own time in an attempt to set things right, promising to return to her.  This is when the issues of changing things in the past really come to light.  Every time either of them goes back and changes something, the future changes, often in some surprising ways.  Finally, Tess realizes that her only chance to save John and to be with him is to go back in the past and stay there.  And even though she has to leave everything and everyone behind, she finds an interesting way to keep in touch.  And that leads to yet another twist and I loved it!

I loved this story, but I was left with one single question.  This could be a minor spoiler, so  be warned!  View Spoiler »

My Recommendation

This was a fantastic book that really made you think about the theoretical considerations of time travel and how it affects history and the future.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Rodney Jones

While a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney now resides in Richmond, Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.

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All the Butterflies in the World Blog Tour

All the Butterflies in the World Blog Tour

Welcome to the All the Butterflies in the World Book Tour!

Today I am happy to be hosting a stop on this blog tour for Rodney Jones’ All the Butterflies in the World.  This fabulous book follows The Sun, the Moon and Maybe the Trains (my review) and it is an engrossing read that explores just what can happen in time travel.  This was a great book and you can read my review of it here.

The Tour Schedule

You can visit other stops on the tour here.

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About the Book

JonesAlltheButterfliesWith her senior year looming, Tess McKinnon has two goals: hanging out with her best friend, Liz, and avoiding her judgmental, alcoholic mother. Then yummy John Bartley arrives—to tell Mrs. McKinnon that her daughter is dead. Distinctly still alive, Tess is baffled by John’s tales of 1800s time travel, rewritten lives, and love. She knows she’s never seen him before, but her feelings refuse to be denied.

When Tess and John discover an aged newspaper clipping that indicates John’s uncle was hanged for Tess’s murder in 1875, John decides to return to his time to save his uncle’s life, but when Tess checks the article after John’s departure, she is horrified to discover that John has been hanged instead.

Armed with determination and modern ingenuity, Tess must abandon her past and risk her future for a chance to catch her own killer and find her first love for the second time.

Buy it:  amazon-32x32BNKobo
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About the Author

SMRodney JonesWhile a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney now resides in Richmond, Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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