Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts

Friday, August 3, 2018

"The Impossibility of Us" by Katy Upperman

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The Impossibility of Us
by Katy Upperman

The Impossibility of Us  by Katy Upperman

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman is currently on tour with 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.


Description
The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.
When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.
But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact - Mati is Afghan.
Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, The Impossibility of Us asks - how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?


Excerpt
I lower my camera, letting it hang from the woven strap around my neck. Absently, I toss Bambi’s tennis ball, not so far this time, because I’m watching a tall figure move down the beach. He’s a ways south, but I can tell he’s somewhere near my age—a small miracle in this town.
He’s wearing dark track pants and a hooded sweatshirt, and his hair’s black, standing out in sharp contrast to the pale sand.
He strides into the surf, fully clothed.
The air is cool and crisp, and the ocean is frigid. He’s up to his knees when a white-capped wave breaks hard against his middle, driving him back a few steps. I expect him to wade out, back to the beach, but he presses forward, undeterred, immersing his lower half completely. He uses his hands against the surging breakers like he thinks he can control them, like he’s unaware of the water’s absolute power.
I’m no fearmonger—that’s more in keeping with my mom’s personality—but the Pacific’s scary along this strip of the coast. I’ve seen surfers in dry suits, but unless you’ve got a board, this isn’t a swimming beach. Thanks to the California Current, the water’s bitter cold and the undertows are unreal. There are sharks, too. Big ones, which normally feed on harbor seals and sea lions, but are probably ravenous for breakfast at the moment and would likely settle for a nice big bite of boy.
“Hey!” I call as he moves farther into the swells. Stupid, because there’s no way he can hear me over the wind and the waves.
What he’s doing . . . It’s so unsafe.
Without a second thought, I take off in his direction, clutching my camera so it doesn’t knock against my chest. Bambi chases me, nipping at my heels.
He’s up to his shoulders when I reach the dragging footsteps he left in the sand. I watch him jump as waves distend, then advance beyond him in a race for the beach. His head bobs the way Bambi’s ball does after landing in the surf. If he goes any deeper, he could be sucked out to sea.
“Hey!” I scream again, waving my arms.
He doesn’t hear me, or doesn’t want to, because he pushes off and paddles farther out.
He’s an adrenaline-seeking dumbass, or he’s suicidal. I keep my eyes on his dark hair and peel off my sweatshirt, trying not to strangle myself with my camera’s strap in the process. I toss it into the sand and take half a second to wrap my Nikon in its fabric, praying my beloved camera doesn’t get stolen or lost to an aggressive wave.
Then I bolt into the ocean.
I lose my breath immediately.
The water is millions of sharp pins sinking into my flesh. The breakers are powerful, but I battle them, keeping my eyes trained on the boy. Distantly, I hear Bambi’s distressed barking. I spare a quick glance over my shoulder as I slog through the deepening water; she’s still on the shore, hopping around. Silly dog will follow her ball into the water, but not me.
Again, I shout at the boy.
Again, no response.
Death wish, I think. And then: Me, too.
By the time I reach him, a good thirty yards offshore, I’m numb.
My teeth are chattering and I’m not calling out anymore because my tongue’s immovable. Treading to keep my head above water, I make a grab for his shoulder. He wrenches his head around and I realize, too late, that I’ve startled him. He jerks out of my grip.
“I’m trying to help you!” My voice is scratchy and my throat feels raked over.
He shakes his head. No.
“You can’t be out here—it’s dangerous!”
As if to illustrate my point, a rogue wave crashes over our heads.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“A poignant reminder that the world isn’t black and white, The Impossibility of Us crackles with chemistry and will fill you with hope.” ~ Gina Ciocca, author of Last Year’s Mistake, Busted, and A Kiss in the Dark
“The Impossibility of Us is such a sweet story of tolerance, hope, and love. It’s a timely one too. As we mourn the rise of bigotry and xenophobia, stories like this offer reassurance that there is still goodness in the human spirit. Katy Upperman does not shy away from including problematic opinions among her characters, but she also shares intelligent, thoughtful and poetic responses to them. This is the age old story of star cross’d lovers retold beautifully for the challenging world we live in today.” ~ Caroline Leech, author of Wait For Me and In Another Time
“Tender, romantic and realistic, The Impossibility of Us is the story of a strong girl growing stronger and a boy surrendering to the power of a love that seems impossible… It will linger in your mind and your heart.” ~ Huntley Fitzpatrick, author of My Life Next Door, What I Thought Was True, and The Boy Most Likely To
“Katy Upperman’s The Impossibility of Us runs the gamut, from laughs to swoons, from goosebumps to tears. It’s a soaring, beautiful romance, for sure, but there are also so many powerful messages about loss, desertion, racism, tolerance, love, equality, selflessness, friendship, family, and kindness. Touching, well written, and impressively honest, The Impossibility of Us is not to be missed.” ~ Marci Lyn Curtis, author of The One Thing and The Leading Edge of Now


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


By Lynda Dickson
Just before her senior year of high school, seventeen-year-old Elise is forced to move to the tiny town of Cypress Beach. An encounter with a strange boy on the beach will lead to something she never expected to find this far from her beloved San Francisco. Will she be strong enough to overcome the prejudices of her family in order to seek her own happiness? And is it true that, in the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”?
The story is told in the first-person present tense from the points-of-view of Elise and Mati, with Mati’s story told in non-rhyming verse. This stylistic choice suits his voice, as the short sentences give us a sense that English isn’t his first language while, at the same time, making him sound poetic rather than stilted. The poetry theme is continued further by implying that his viewpoint is comprised of the actual entries in his notebook that, as an aspiring writer, he carries with him everywhere. In addition, the narrative is interspersed with quotes by Muslim poet Rumi. This book provides a fascinating look into the lifestyle and culture of Muslims and at the prejudices they must face in their day-to-day lives.
Beautiful and heartbreaking in equal measures.
Warnings: mild coarse language, sexual references, racism.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“Our world, no matter how beautiful, no matter how fulfilling, will forever feel off-kilter because Nicky was taken from it.”
“We’re all on a deadline. Every day’s a step toward extinction. Why not make the best of our time?”
“… his face breaks into a sunrise smile, casting light over the beach.”
“I don’t want to find love—I want it to find me. I want it to crash into me. Knock me down. Seize me.”
“I can’t decide if I’m right, or if my family’s right, or if right falls somewhere in the middle, in that gray area between their intolerance and my suddenly smitten heart.”
“Butterflies flap hopeful wings in my stomach. It’s strange to feel happiness amid this place drenched in somber memories. Strange, but not wrong.”
“My heart … It sings.”
“I realize he’s as upset as I am, and we’re such a mess, such a perfectly beautiful mess, I don’t care if time screeches to a halt and we’re frozen in this dreary room for eternity. At least I’ll be frozen with him.”
“I miss her like twilight misses the sun.”


About the Author
Katy Upperman
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. Kissing Max Holden was her debut novel; her sophomore novel, The Impossibility of Us, was  released in July 2018.



Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman (US/Canada only).

Links


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"The Staircase of Fire" by Ben Woodard

EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
The Staircase of Fire
(A Shakertown Adventure Book 3)
by Ben Woodard

The Staircase of Fire (A Shakertown Adventure Book 3) by Ben Woodard

The Staircase of Fire is the third book in the Shakertown Adventure series by Ben Woodard. Also available: A Stairway to Danger (read my blog post) and Steps Into Darkness (read my blog post).

A Stairway to Danger by Ben WoodardSteps into Darkness by Ben Woodard


The Staircase of Fire is currently on tour with BeachBoundBooks. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
A quiet town in Kentucky explodes from a racial incident and fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace is in the thick of it. His past haunts him and now he’s witness to a horrific event leaving him devastated and afraid.
Tom and his cousin, Will, search for lost Shaker gold he believes can help him escape his town and memories. But leaving has consequences. He will lose his friends and his new love.
On a fiery staircase Tom finally realizes that he must face his inner demons and his terrifying nightmares. To do so he must take a stand that could change his life … or end it.
Author Ben Woodard relies on firsthand experience and family history to tell this moving story of personal tragedy and racial hatred set in the rolling countryside of Kentucky in 1923.


Excerpt
Every night when Tom went to sleep, He thought of her. Every night when he closed his eyes, he saw her face. But he never cried.
“I’m so sorry, Tom, but you know, we can’t tell anyone we saw this. The Klan would come after us.”
Tom didn’t reply.
“Please, Tom, don’t tell anyone. They will kill us—and our families.”
Tom nodded slightly. He was afraid for Helen.
They separated and as he watched Helen disappear into the woods, the world changed.
The leaves drooped and the trees sighed. Creatures stilled and his heart ached.
Death surrounded him. A cloud. a fog, a mist of death.
Enveloped him, chilled him, terrified him. Mary was dead. Mama was dead. Now one more death.
Why was he alive?
He slumped against a shagbark hickory.
“I’ll find out who the Grand Dragon is,” he screamed, “and I will kill him. With a gun, or my bow, or my hands.”
Tom’s fists lashed out at the loose bark pounding it until blood splattered chips littered the ground.
Then the sweats started. Tom dropped to his knees and gasped for air.
He wrapped his arms around the tree and gagged. Retching as the sweat turned to chills. He shivered and threw up into the grass. Again and again until the last of his breakfast competed with morning dew to cover the ground.
He collapsed on the cool dirt and curled into a ball. He lay there gulping for breath thinking how he couldn’t go on. The pain was too much.
Tom used the tree to pull himself up, but his knees buckled and he hugged the tree waiting until he regained his strength and then struggled back to the West Lot house.
[Want more? Click below to read another excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
The Staircase of Fire succeeds in offering dramatic action, mystery, social insights, and a story line that evolves from pure adventure to something deeper … a highly recommended pick for teens looking for something different …” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
The Staircase of Fire is a riveting and intense tale ...” ~ The Children's Book Review
“Tom grows a lot in this book and I really enjoyed reading his journey. It seems like almost every white character is racist in some way (which is historically accurate) and it was refreshing to see Tom learn to break out of the narrow-minded thinking that he had and which surrounds him.” ~ Eustacia Tan
“An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace – Highly recommended.” ~ Susan Keefe
The Staircase of Fire is an extraordinary book for children aged 12 upwards.” ~ Robbie Cheadle
“The story is wonderful. I liked the settings, and the characters are well-thought out. I recommend this book to older teen readers, due to light adult content.” ~ Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite


About the Author
Ben Woodard
Ben is a (mostly) retired amateur adventurer who has traveled across Tibet, climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest, and solo backpacked wilderness areas. Now his adventures come in the form of imagining stories, writing and telling them to kids and teens. He works with teachers, schools and literacy organizations spreading the word that books are vital - and fun.



Giveaway
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.

Links

Thursday, April 26, 2018

"The Staircase of Fire" by Ben Woodard


EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
The Staircase of Fire
(A Shakertown Adventure Book 3)
by Ben Woodard


The Staircase of Fire, the third book in the Shakertown Adventure series by Ben Woodard, is due for release on 25 May but is currently available for pre-order at the special price of $2.99 (save $1.00). Also available: A Stairway to Danger (read my blog post) and Steps Into Darkness (read my blog post).



This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by BeachBoundBooks.


Description
A quiet town in Kentucky explodes from a racial incident and fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace is in the thick of it. His past haunts him and now he’s witness to a horrific event leaving him devastated and afraid.
Tom and his cousin, Will, search for lost Shaker gold he believes can help him escape his town and memories. But leaving has consequences. He will lose his friends and his new love.
On a fiery staircase Tom finally realizes that he must face his inner demons and his terrifying nightmares. To do so he must take a stand that could change his life … or end it.
Author Ben Woodard relies on firsthand experience and family history to tell this moving story of personal tragedy and racial hatred set in the rolling countryside of Kentucky in 1923.

Excerpt
Chapter 1
Rose stood up.
"They could kill you," whispered Tom.
"Tom, sometimes a person has to stand for what they believe, and this is one of them. Go on home."
The County Clerk's door opened and Rose and James moved toward it. A crowd followed.
Tom's eyes pleaded with James. His friend ignored him.
"Rose," said Tom. "Don't do this. It's not that important. Your vote won't change anything."
"You don't understand," she said softly. "You can't understand. The Nineteenth Amendment says I have the right to vote. I intend to use it."
"But you know an amendment passed a couple of years ago won't change anything. Mercer County will never allow you to register, much less vote. Few Negroes ever have — especially women."
Rose moved closer to the door and eyes, dozens of eyes, followed her.
"She wants to register," an elderly man yelled.
Tom tensed as the crowd pressed toward them.
A stench of hate filled the stale, tobacco-laden air and constricted Tom's throat. Doors slammed, feet pounded on steps and curses echoed through the tight courthouse space.
The news had sped like a bullet through the small town and an angry crowd of white people filled the tiny courthouse room, spilling into the hallways and out the door.
Tom unconsciously eased away from his friends. He stopped himself. They needed to get out of here. He leaned closer to Rose, "We have to leave, now."
"Go home, Tom," James spat out the words.
Tom flinched. This wasn't the James he knew. The gentle and quiet farm hand Tom worked with on a daily basis.
James stared straight ahead, the muscles in his face like granite, his eyes hard. Showing only confidence and determination.
Rose and James edged toward the Clerk's office and the crowd surrounded and jammed against them.
Tom stood horrified. As he tried to push his way back to his two friends, a rawboned farmer in overalls stopped him.
"Are you with those two?" he asked.
"I'm trying to get them out."
"I seen you with them. You need to leave. We'll take care of them."
Another man spoke up, "I've seen him before. He knows those Negroes."
"Yeah," said the first. "Isn't he the one from Nicholasville who —"
Tom moved with the crowd into the Clerks office. He had to escape before they figured out who he was, and what he did.
Sweat formed on his upper lip as he glanced in every direction desperately trying to find a way out of the courthouse.
The two men were now in the door and continued to point at him as Rose reached the counter. She said above the din, "I want a voter registration form."
The room went quiet. Deathly quiet.
Then, a woman to Rose's left screamed, "Damn Negroes."
Beside Rose stood an older woman in a simple cotton dress with a bonnet covering her mousy-gray hair. Her face was contorted with rage. The rest of the crowd joined her in shrieking at the small, brown woman.
A glob of spit and tobacco juice smacked into the back of Rose's starched calico dress and the screaming woman yanked out Rose's yellow hair ribbon. James spread his arms around his mother and took the brunt of the slaps and pushes.
The women behind the counter stood confused.
The County Clerk came out of his office and held up his hands for quiet. He glared at Rose.
"What do you want?" he said.
"I want to register to vote."
The crowd growled again and the Clerk quieted them.
"We don't allow your kind to vote," he said.
Rose only smiled. "What kind?" she asked.
The two men came closer to Tom and others now pointed in his direction. They must have figured out who he was and they might turn on him next.
Tom remembered a stairway to the basement that led to a rear exit. He wormed his way toward it finding the stairway door closed, but unlocked.
Tom jerked it open.
His body tightened.
The sounds faded as memories and fears came charging back at the sight of wooden steps vanishing into the shadows.
Sweat stung his eyes and salted his lips. Tom's hands trembled. He wiped his face on a sleeve.
He couldn't go down. He wouldn't.
But the men still watched. Tom was trapped.
The bedlam of the room returned and he heard the Clerk scream at Rose and James telling them to get out.
He had to help them, but fear glued him in place.
Tom jerked as Sheriff Smith pushed his way into the room bellowing for the mob to get away from Rose. Two grim-faced deputies armed with shotguns flanked the lawman. They elbowed their way to Rose and James and the Sheriff whispered to Rose. She shook her head. He spoke to her a few more minutes and she finally nodded.
The three lawmen surrounded Tom's friends and led them through the crowd. Screams and curses followed.
Tom snuck through the throng and barreled down the front courthouse steps. The Sheriff and deputies escorted Rose and James to their wagon
Tom stared as their rig bounced down the dusty road toward Shakertown. His stomach rolled. He should have done something.
Anything. Except freeze in fear.
The reeling in his gut got worse and he staggered toward the clump of trees where he'd tied his horse.
Tom untied the reins and slipped into the saddle. He was sure, or at least tried to convince himself, that the Sheriff would protect Rose and James.
He spun the horse around and headed for Shakertown.
As he rode, the fear for Rose and his fear of the staircase still gripped him. Was every set of stairs he saw going to terrify him? Cause the memories to come crawling back?
And no matter where he was in Mercer County, someone might recognize him.
He released the reins, the horse knew the way home, and dropped his head on the animal's neck. Trying not to throw up. And then the sweats started, soaking his body.
The usual. Caused by a memory from that morning at Grandfather's house. Still there after four years.
He needed to get himself under control before he saw Will or Helen. His best friends. But he couldn't tell them, or anyone, what happened that Sunday morning. The memory hurt too much.
But he had to talk to them about Rose and James. His friends would understand.
And right now, Tom needed a friend.

Praise for the Book
The Staircase of Fire succeeds in offering dramatic action, mystery, social insights, and a story line that evolves from pure adventure to something deeper…” ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
The Staircase of Fire is a riveting and intense tale ...” ~ The Children's Book Review
“Tom grows a lot in this book and I really enjoyed reading his journey. It seems like almost every white character is racist in some way (which is historically accurate) and it was refreshing to see Tom learn to break out of the narrow-minded thinking that he had and which surrounds him.” ~ Eustacia Tan
“An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace – Highly recommended.” ~ Susan Keefe

About the Author
Ben Woodard
Ben Woodard is a (mostly) retired amateur adventurer who has traveled across Tibet, climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest, and solo backpacked wilderness areas. Now his adventures come in the form of imagining stories, writing and telling them to kids and teens. He works with teachers, schools and literacy organizations spreading the word that books are vital - and fun.



Giveaway
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.

Links