Friday, March 27, 2015

For Your TBR Pile - Devoted

By Jennifer Mathieu
Published: June 2, Roaring Brook Press

From GoodReads
: Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

Thank you NetGalley and Roaring Brook Press for the eARC!

My Thoughts:

Devoted is a story about a teenage girl born into the Quiverfull movement among evangelical Protestant groups. Known for their modest dress, large families, and patriarchal obedience to God, most look at this group as a cult.

In Devoted, the main character isn't questioning her faith in God, which I think is really important to know. In fact, this book is about faith and finding it within yourself. When Rachel begins questioning her father and the community's rules, she feels guilty and blames herself. It's not until she befriends a girl, Lauren, who escaped the community and is living in a town nearby that she hears that the people around her have been abusive and controlling. Her faith in God, though, never wavers. In fact, it's interesting to see her relationship with her beliefs open up as she begins to see the world around her.

This was beautifully written and so well done. It's a quiet book, that has a lot to say. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writers Like Us - Joy Hensley

Last spring, I attended Joy Hensley's book launch for Rites of Passage, and got to see first-hand her extensive knowledge and love for military life. And, once, she saved my phone from the depths of a movie theater, making her my own personal super hero. So, of course, I needed her to be a part of Writers Like Us.

Say hi to Joy Hensley! , she's the newest addition to Writers Like Us!

Joy on Writing

  • I've written 6 books, and 1 has seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scenes to write are bad boy redemption scenes and near-kissing scenes :-)
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with placing scenes correctly in a story for maximum potency--always need CPs/agent/editor for this part!
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is O______O
  • The book I wished I wrote is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Joy on Getting Published
  • If my agent really knew how crazy I was, she would find out that I read every single tweet/e-mail/text/whatever other form of communication a million different ways and then believe the most negative spin, no matter what the subject. This leads to much panicking and needs for reassurance.
  • When I was querying, I felt absolutely OCD about checking my e-mail/phone a million times a day.
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was querying the same agent 3 times with the same book (hey, she signed me, though, so....)
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is oh my gosh, can I put all these cuss words in? My MOM is going to read this...
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was "Surely she's called the wrong Joy."
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I was sitting in class (being the teacher) and almost fell off my chair.

Joy on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a traveling masseuse or a librarian.
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of people thinking I've failed at something.
  • My secret girlfriend/boyfriend is Jamie Fraser from Outlander and Charlie Hunnam <3
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I sing like I'm on American Idol--my dogs are not fans of these moments.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

For Your TBR Pile - Inside the O'Briens

Inside the O'Briens
By Lisa Genova
Published: April 7, Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

From GoodReads: Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for the eARC!

My Thoughts:

This tweet sums up all my thoughts about this book:

I hadn't read Still Alice, but was aware of it once it started to appearing on all the movie award nominations lists (Currently, I am number 98 on my library's waiting list for the book).

So when there was an opportunity to read Inside the O'Briens, I snatched it up like the last cupcake at a bake sale. I love patient stories--especially ones that bring to life what it's like to live with illness. My love for medical writing and patient education goes way back to my earlier writing days. Inside the O'Briens takes a look at how a disease can disrupt an entire family and make them question their places in their family structure.

Watching Huntington’s Disease change Joe from being a protective and strong-willed father of four to the unstable patient was heartbreaking. His Boston pride beamed from this book. I loved not only the way Lisa Genova portrayed the city, but the working class, as well. Joe's role as a police officer was firmly rooted in his identity within the social structure of his family, but also his town.

Even more so, Katie's journey from flakey youngest sibling to firmly standing up for herself and her future was heartbreaking and awe-inspiring. I love that she wrote positive affirmations on her walls with a black sharpie. My favorite scene was when she decided to paint over them after having a very emotional breakdown, only to discover her family rewrite each one for her. 

The O'Briens were a very loving family, strongly rooted in their religious believes and blue-collared upbringing, but they weren't perfect. It was interesting not only to learn more about this incredibly debilitating disease, but to watch how the threat of it challenged each one of characters' futures. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Currently Reading - March 2015

I think one of my favorite things to blog about is what I plan to read in the upcoming month, and then admitting to what I actually read instead. 

February was one of those months. I'd meant to tackle these:

But instead went for these (also, I love how they all fell into the same color scheme):

I'll blame it on Liane Moriarty. Last month I was reading What Alice Forgot when a co-worker spotted it on my desk. We started talking about how great her books were and my co-worker leant me The Husband's Secret. I loved it. In fact, I just bought Big Little Lies so I'm completely doing an author binge.

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my most favorite authors. The Girl Who Chased The Moon is my top, top, top favorite book ever. I'd had First Frost for a while and as soon as I'd finished Moriarty's book, I wasn't ready to switch back to YA. I love Sarah's use of light magical realism, her world building of sleepy southern towns, and her quiet and brave female characters.

I pre-ordered Mindy Kaling's book back in 2011, read a fourth of it, and never picked it back up! I have no idea why. It's strange how your mood affects your reading. I wanted to cross it off my list.

In addition, I just finished Lisa Genova's Inside The O'Briens, which was fantastic. She wrote Still Alice, which I haven't read (or seen the movie), but have on my list. So when Simon & Schuster offered me an eARC, I jumped at the chance (review to come). 

This tweet says it all:
Here's what I have on deck for March:

Jennifer Mathieu's Devoted, which I'm super excited to read because it's based on the Quiverfull religion (think the Duggars).

Agency brother Robert Lettrick's The Murk. Robert's debut, Frenzy, gave me nightmares for days. So I'm excited to jump back into his world.

April Lindner's Catherine, which I picked up at the author's signing and am excited to read. She had me at modern day Wuthering Heights retelling.

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