Friday, September 8, 2017

"Ann, Not Annie" by Sage Steadman

Ann, Not Annie
by Sage Steadman

Ann, Not Annie by Sage Steadman is due for release on 22 September but is currently available for pre-order at the special price of $1.99 (save $8.00). This book tour is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

You can also join the Facebook Release Party from 4 to 18 September.

Ann, not Annie, is tired of her nominal existence and has vowed to turn things around by dating the hottest guy in school, Jacob Waters. Easier said than done since Jacob isn’t even aware she exists. The truth is, due to Ann’s lively temper she spends more time in detention with the rest of the school rejects than she does fantasizing about Jacob Waters wearing spandex.
Her best friend and devout alien believer, Lisa, doesn’t like the changes she’s seeing in her BFF. Neither does Danny Feller, a fellow detention inmate and resident lost boy who has started keeping an extra watchful and unwanted eye on Ann.
When a chance encounter in an empty hallway changes everything, Ann finds all her dreams coming true, and she is well on her way to living the perfect life she’s always wanted. But appearances aren’t always what they seem, and Ann is going to have to face not just cold hard facts, but also her past.

Some people you meet in life are polite, respectful, kind, and docile. They smile at strangers because they know their smile will brighten another person’s day, and it does.
Then there’s Ann. An ill-tempered, loudmouthed, smart-ass who’d been sent to detention for the second time that day and the fifth time that week.
It was Tuesday.
She’d begun the day like any other. Lisa picked her up for school, and they got into an argument over which candy bar was better, Almond Joy or Mounds.
“Almond Joy, hands down,” Lisa insisted. “You need the salt from the nut to balance out the coconut’s sweetness.”
“You just like nuts because you’re a slut,” Ann teased.
Lisa pinched the fat on the underside of Ann’s arm, and Ann punched Lisa in the boob. After that they called a truce, and then Ann chucked both bars at a cheerleader in the parking lot, who happened to be Maggie Shirvey.
Did I love Ann for this? Yes. Is that wrong of me? Probably.
When the principal caught them, Lisa batted her beautiful brown eyes and played innocent. So Ann ended up in detention, alone. Lisa promised to take notes in their first-period child development class. So Ann hugged Lisa instead of punching her in the boob again.
Ann’s second stint in detention was because she often spoke three decibels louder than most clinically sane people, and her idea of whispering was dropping her tone an octave—this coupled with a cursing problem—you get the idea.
So when she thought she had quietly said, “This B-minus is bullshit” after her sophomore English creative writing essay was returned to her by Mrs. Forchester, it was more like, “THIS B-MINUS IS BULLSHIT!”
It wasn’t bullshit, because Ann hadn’t written the essay. She’d bought it from the Internet without checking for spelling errors. Ann also made her comment no quieter than a jackhammer at a construction site, and school-mandated penance followed. Ann did detention like Whitney Houston did cocaine—frequently and without consideration of the consequences. The school’s “no tolerance” policy regarding vulgarity used in the classroom didn’t help either.
As Ann sat in detention for her umpteenth time, she thought, I am a good girl. I’ve never been past second base with a boy even though in eighth grade Johnny Templeton really wanted to. I’ve never drunk or even looked at drugs. And I’ve never shoplifted with Lisa. And I refrained from vandalizing Mr. Sedgwick’s apartment even though he’s a prick for failing me in gym and he totally deserves it.
Well, most of this was true.
Ann forgot about the time she and Lisa drank half a bottle of wine in the eighth grade. Ann was too tipsy to ride her bike home, so Lisa called Ann’s mom for a ride. This was before the accident, when Ann trusted her mom to drive.
Ann reeked of alcohol and knew she would vomit at the slightest onset of movement. To remedy this, Lisa shoved an open jar of peanut butter under Ann’s nose. “Smell it!” Lisa demanded.
“No!” Ann knocked the jar to the ground. “You know I hate that stuff! Are you trying to make it worse?”
Lisa picked up the jar and stomped her foot. “Do you want to vomit in your mom’s car?”
“No.” Ann held her stomach.
“Then smell it, you crazy bitch!” Lisa shoved the jar under Ann’s nose again.
Ann took a quick whiff. “Oh god, it’s so bad,” she moaned.
After a few sniffs of the hideous, vile, putrid paste, Ann hurled red on a swath of lawn, just before her mom arrived. Then Lisa doused her in perfume. Ann’s mom knew Ann had been drinking, but the natural consequences were enough so her mom didn’t punish her further.

Praise for the Book
"I would say this is a great coming of age book, but for the strong language and talk of rape, it might not be good for younger teens. I think this story is more relatable to high schoolers and young adults or anyone who enjoys a quirky read. [...] Over all the characters were great and each had their own individual personalities and played their part in Ann’s story!" ~ Kelsey
"Despite, the grief and the hardship, the portrayal of the story lightens some of the intensity of the whole situation. It's a moving new adult story with some strong messages. I would recommend to new adult romance fans but, be aware that some of the content might act as a trigger to some readers. Overall, an emotive and captivating read." ~ Brigitte
"All in all this was a well written story [...] don't let the romance tag fool you, this story is about a lot more than dating. I recommend this to readers older than 16 because of some of the content, but I definitely would pick up a copy today." ~ Tina
"I freaking love this book. I was hooked from the very first page. Ann is every girl in that she's so relatable, yet she's so unique and intriguing. She's interesting, quirky, hilariously sarcastic, and so relevant all at the same time. I can't remember the last time I was so invested in a character. The story is compelling, and the writing is so engaging that I couldn't put the book down. All the characters are so believable, and there's a perfect mixture of comedy without irreverence and poignancy without sap or melodrama." ~ Carly
"This story was a look inside a troubled teenager's mind. The narrator is hilarious, and it is easy to sympathize with and relate to the characters. Not recommended for younger teens. Great for older teens and adults alike!" ~ Becky

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Ann's father died in a car accident a year ago. But she didn't just lose her father that day: now, she never sees her Uncle Joe or her older brother William, and her mother lives in a constant alcoholic haze. At fifteen, Ann is virtually left to raise her thirteen-year-old brother Tommy on her own. No wonder she acts out and gets sent to detention all the time. It's there that she bonds with social outcast Danny - over Thoreau, of all things. When things start getting a bit too serious, Ann makes some poor decisions and ends up hurting those closest to her.
The anonymous narrator immediately piques our curiosity, telling the tale of Ann, not Annie, "who, despite her best efforts, fell in love." We follow Ann on her journey of self-discovery and, hopefully, learn a few things along the way. I love Ann's doodles, which are scattered throughout the book and depict her (bad) moods. I wish there were more of these illustrations; however, I can see why she doesn't need to draw them when she's feeling "happy". Another of Ann's endearing qualities is her habit of looking up the meanings of her dreams - which are disturbingly accurate. Ann is surrounded by a cast of great support characters, some of who are variously referred to by first name, last name, or nickname. Stick with it, and you'll eventually work out who's who. Another naming issue: Ann's mother's name is Meredith Grey (as in Grey's Anatomy).
While the story is interesting and flows well, I found some of the plotlines hard to believe (e.g., Jacob's interest in Ann, his clique's easy acceptance of her, and Ann's drinking). However, everything becomes relevant, and things wrap up nicely in the end. I'm glad that Ann finally seeks out the help of an adult, showing teenage readers that they don't have to solve everything on their own.
The author's knowledge of mental health issues is apparent in her writing. This is a helpful book for teens dealing with an alcoholic parent or the death of a loved one, but it also addresses issues such as self-esteem, popularity, friendship, and rape culture. The book ends with Discussion Questions that are useful for opening up a dialogue with teens on some of these pertinent issues. Note to author: for ebook readers, use chapter titles or hyperlinks to the relevant sections instead of page numbers.
An enjoyable, satisfying read.
Warnings: coarse language, alcohol abuse, underage drinking, sexual references, sexual assault.

Some of My Favorite Lines
"... to truly fall in love with someone else, you must first fall in love with yourself."
"Annie once insisted on being called Ann, not Annie. Those two simple letters at the end of her name seemed to change how she felt about everything in her world. They were the difference between bearable pain and unbearable hell."
"Ann did detention like Whitney Houston did cocaine—frequently and without consideration of the consequences."
"... sometimes a person’s awesomeness simply flaunts itself, even when you politely ask it not to."
"Her life used to be apple pie perfect before it shattered into a million jagged pieces. Ann still held onto a morsel of hope that maybe someday things could be different."
"[...] high school [...] It’s really a horrible time in life. Honestly, I don’t even know why there is an entire genre of books dedicated to it. Completely overrated."
"Almost by accident she tasted a blip of happiness and it scared her."
"Ann’s guard was like the Berlin Wall, and despite its destruction in 1989, hers wasn’t coming down any time soon."
"She replayed the kiss in her mind. She knew it was a kiss she’d think about for years to come. Never had a kiss made her feel so safe and scared at the same time."
"The only thing worse than his not staying would be his staying."

About the Author
Sage Steadman
Sage Steadman was awarded a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. While pursuing her passion for writing, she worked as a licensed mental health therapist. She published her debut novel, Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter, in 2010 under her pen name, The Hippie, and since, re-released the second edition under her real name. The novel has been deemed an "idyllic" read, filled with love, humor, romance, and heart. She is also the co-author of the gritty and inspiring historical fiction novel, Upon Destiny’s Song, alongside classical guitarist, Mike Ericksen, and has penned an article on teen cutting for Canadian Magazine, Edmonton’s Child. She has recently produced a stunning and thought-reflecting novella entitled, The Waking Dream. Sage is heralded as a talented writer who tackles her novels with a witty, raw and honest approach. She currently lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with family.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win an ebook or print ARC copy (winner's choice) of Ann, Not Annie by Sage Steadman.

Plus, enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of 20 print ARC copies of Ann, Not Annie by Sage Steadman (US only, ends 13 September).

Make sure you download your free copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, the book that features prominently in this novel.