Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"An Unstill Life" by Kate Larkindale

An Unstill Life
by Kate Larkindale

An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale

This review opportunity for An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale is brought to you by YA Bound Book Tours.

When your whole world is falling apart, what are the chances you’ll find love in the most unexpected of places?
Livvie feels like she’s losing everything: her two best friends have abandoned her for their boyfriends, her mother continues to ignore her, while her sister, Jules, is sick again and getting worse by the day. Add in the request Jules has made of her and Livvie feels like she’s losing her mind, too.
Her only escape is in the art room, where she discovers not only a refuge from her life, but also a kindred soul in Bianca, the school "freak". Livvie’s always felt invisible, at school and at home, but with Bianca, she finally feels like someone sees the real Livvie. As the relationship deepens and it comes time to take the romance public, will Livvie be able to take that step?
Livvie’s about to find out if she has what it takes to make the tough decisions and stand up for herself - for the first time in her life.

I lolled against Bianca, aware of her distinctive raspberry scent enveloping me. My laughter caught in my throat, and I had trouble breathing through it. I looked up at her, watching the way the streetlights played across her features. With her head thrown back, her throat was long and white, and I was overcome with a sudden desire to touch it.
I didn’t say a word, but she seemed to hear my thoughts. Her laughter quieted, and she turned to look at me, her eyes glittering in the sodium glow. For a long time we stood there, eyes locked, the warm breeze wafting across our skin.
Bianca bent her head, and her lips settled upon mine. They were warm and soft, slippery with lipstick. I shivered and pressed my own lips hungrily against hers. Her mouth opened a little, and I followed, admitting her inquisitive tongue. It tickled mine, darting in and out, waltzing across my taste buds. The flavor of wine, exotic and sour at the same time, flooded my mouth.
My heart beat a rapid tattoo through my chest. This was wrong. I should not be doing this. But I remained mesmerized, nerves I’d never noticed before singing songs of ecstasy along my spine. 
Kissing Jesse had been nothing like this.
She pulled away, slowly, as if surfacing from a dive. She licked her lips, smiling in satisfaction. Her lipstick, smeared now, blurred her mouth into something unrecognizable. I ran my tongue across my lips and tasted her there, spikes of electricity igniting in my belly. This was better than I could have imagined.
“Wow…” she breathed. “You’re good.”
“Am I?” I reached for her again, wanting nothing but her mouth on mine once more.
“Yeah, you are.” She pushed me against the wall, and I lost myself in her kisses.
Time held no meaning. It could have been seconds or forever before I drew back. Nothing so good could be wrong, yet my stomach writhed with guilt. “I…I should get home.” My voice was unsteady.
Bianca glanced up at the star-speckled sky and nodded. “Yeah. Me too.”
It felt completely natural when, as we walked toward the bus stop two blocks away, she slipped her hand into mine.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I cannot rate this book highly enough ... The honesty in Livvie's voice as she tells her story is refreshing. Her world is believable, relatable, breath-taking, and inspiring. I had to take a couple of 'cry breaks'" while reading. An Unstill Life is a must-read." ~ Jessica Lucci
"A beautifully written and poignant story dealing with more than one controversial issue, I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a contemporary issue-driven read." ~ Xan
"An Unstill Life is breathtakingly beautiful and emotionally riveting. I was so impressed and cannot wait to read more books by this stellar author!" ~ Laura

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

By Lynda Dickson
Livvie is a fifteen-year-old girl with synesthesia (she tastes colors and sees sounds), who lives in the shadows of her friends and her older sister Jules, whose leukemia has just returned with a vengeance. Livvie feels invisible to her friends, the boys at school, and even her mother. Why is it, then, that Bianca, the strange Goth girl in her art class, is the only one who seems to see her? What starts out as bonding over their still life projects, slowly evolves into something more. As Livvie's school life and family life become more and more unbearable, Livvie has to find comfort somewhere. But not everyone is pleased with Livvie's new-found happiness. Will Livvie find the strength to stand up for herself for once in her life?
This book packs a lot of issues into one small package. I found Livvie's uncertainty about her sexuality a bit hard to comprehend, until I realized she is only fifteen. Her bad experiences with boys seem to push her toward Bianca, with only one minor reference to a possible attraction to females. It's sad to see how Livvie's mother treats her throughout the book, but the explanation for her behavior is a bit too convenient and not really substantiated by her actions. Livvie's relationship with her sister Jules is the best part of the book. I also love the descriptions of how Livvie perceives sounds as colors, especially the sounds of people's voices; they add such a wonderful nuance, I could almost see them myself. The images with stay with you for a long time after you finish reading.
A poignant story of family, friendship, loss, and first love.
Warnings: LGBT themes, underage drinking, sex scenes (not graphic), assisted suicide, mental health issues, terminal illness.

About the Author
Having spent a lifetime travelling the globe, Kate Larkindale is currently residing in Wellington, New Zealand. A marketing executive, film reviewer and mother, she’s surprised she finds any time to write, but doesn’t sleep much. As a result, she can usually be found hanging out near the espresso machine.
Her short stories have appeared in Halfway Down The Stairs, A Fly in Amber, Daily Flash Anthology, The Barrier Islands Review, Everyday Fiction, Death Rattle, Drastic Measures, Cutlass & Musket, and Residential Aliens, among others.
She has written eight contemporary YA novels, five of which other people are allowed to see. She has also written one very bad historical romance which will likely never see the light of day. She is currently ghostwriting an autobiography while waiting to see which of her many YA novel ideas gels to the point it might become a new book.


Monday, October 30, 2017

"Eight Days on Planet Earth" by Cat Jordan

Eight Days on Planet Earth
by Cat Jordan

Eight Days on Planet Earth by Cat Jordan

Eight Days on Planet Earth by Cat Jordan is due for release on 7 November but is currently available for pre-order. This book is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, a guest post by the author, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A heart-wrenching romance full of twists that are sure to bring tears to readers’ eyes, from Cat Jordan, author of The Leaving Season.
How long does it take to travel twenty light years to Earth?
How long does it take to fall in love?
To the universe, eight days is a mere blip, but to Matty Jones, it may be just enough time to change his life.
On the hot summer day Matty’s dad leaves for good, a strange girl suddenly appears in the empty field next to the Jones farm - the very field in rural Pennsylvania where a spaceship supposedly landed fifty years ago. She is uniquely beautiful, sweet, and smart, and she tells Matty she’s waiting for her spaceship to pick her up and return her to her home planet. Of course she is.
Matty has heard a million impossible UFO stories for each of his seventeen years: the conspiracy theories, the wild rumors, the crazy belief in life beyond the stars. When he was a kid, he and his dad searched the skies and studied the constellations. But all of that is behind him. Dad’s gone - but now there’s Priya. She must be crazy ... right?
As Matty unravels the mystery of the girl in the field, he realizes there is far more to her than he first imagined. And if he can learn to believe in what he can’t see: the universe, aliens ... love ... then maybe the impossible is possible, after all.

Praise for the Book
"A wonderfully readable, ultimately hopeful, and life-affirming story that will be enjoyed by fans of Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star and Gae Polisner’s The Memory of Things." ~ School Library Journal
"This is such a great book. I recommend it to fans of contemporary romance and anything space-related. It's magical. It's sad. It's beautiful. You'll love it." ~ Chloe (Blushing Bibliophile)
"Eight Days on Planet Earth is a down-to-earth yet otherworldly novel - magical, funny, and a little heartbreaking." ~ Madison
"Loved it! Such a great ending. A lot of surprising twists, but I felt all of the scenes were loyal to the plot. There wasn't a single thing I didn't love about it, which is rare for me. So great!" ~ Avery
"It's a sweet book, with a heart-tugging resolution that fans of YA will really enjoy." ~ Veronica of V's Reads

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The book recounts the events that transpire over the course of an eight day period. Matty is on summer break before his final year of high school, and he plans to just hang around the lake with his friends. However, he wakes up to find that his father, a conspiracy theorist and UFO blogger, has left his family. Also on that day, Matty meets Priya, a strange girl who claims to be waiting for a ride back to her planet, which is 20 light years away. She sets up camp in the field near Matty's house, where a spaceship is said to have landed at the same moment that his father was born. Because of his father's interest in astronomy and aliens, Matty has developed a healthy skepticism about all things alien. But, over the course of the next few days, he finds himself slowly believing. And as he learns to see his world the way Priya sees it, he learns to appreciate what he has. But is Priya really an alien or is just plain crazy? Or is the truth something else entirely?
The author does a great job getting inside the head of Matty, the seventeen-year-old male narrator. I love Matty's relationship with his mother and his interactions with Priya. I also love Priya's description of the sensation of eating pizza. This book is cute, funny, and sad, all at the same time.
Compulsively readable.
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, sex scenes (not graphic), alcohol abuse (by adults), infidelity.

Some of My Favorite Lines
"She’s so far out of Brian’s league, she might as well be on another planet."
"Sounds like a path to loserdom. Like father, like son."
"Grease eases a lot of pain."
"Her eyes are wide open, staring straight up at the sky as if she were drinking it in, drowning in the moon and stars."
"I’m pretty sure she was lying about not having a phone. Is there anyone on this planet who doesn’t own a cell?"
"Makes me wish I could stick a jump drive into my ear and suck out all the useless information. Maybe then I’d have room for English lit."
"I have to harden my heart to her. I have to or else I will die a little more every day that we’re together."
"We all just want to be home, don’t we?"
"He told me to look to the skies. We were like the stars that glittered and glowed. We could find ourselves among them if we just looked hard enough. We could do great things. We could make a difference. We could be special."
"Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you can’t believe in it."

Guest Post by the Author
The Real Space Field
The spaceship landing in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania was a serendipitous discovery for me. I knew I wanted to write about an alien girl and a human boy but what was the context? Where did they live? What was that town like? Whenever I start a new story, I think about the space (ha! No pun intended!) in which the characters live. I think place is extremely important and is just as much a character as the individuals themselves.
In this case, I researched UFO sightings and from there, alleged UFO landings in the United States. There are a lot, by the way. The ones that really intrigued me, however, were the ones where the government got involved. There weren’t nearly as many of those. For obvious reasons!
When I stumbled upon the one in Kecksburg, I found that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of information about it, which, for a fiction writer, is a good thing. A little bit of truth is good but we want to feel free to make up the rest.
Just like in my novel, the event in Kecksburg happened in December of 1965, and not long after, the military rolled into town, sealed off the area, and rolled out back out of town with the supposed spaceship. Kecksburg at the time was, like Matty’s town, small and rural. Naturally, since this was the 60s, there was no internet to quickly disseminate the cover-up nor were there iPhones to snap photos and video of the military operation. Cameras and film were confiscated and no evidence was left behind.
And, like in my book, there were various cultural references to it over the years including a few episodes of some television shows like The Discovery Channel’s 2008 documentary series, Nazi UFO Conspiracy, and The History Channel’s 2009 episode of UFO Hunters.
But I thought it would be more interesting if all of this happened before Matty was born, so it was legend to him, stuff that his father would have explained to him as he was growing up and they were studying the stars together. It would become just as natural to Matty as other kids’ stories about their heritage, about their family, and their hometown.
The one similarity between the two incidents that I wanted to maintain was the effect the UFO landing had on one person in each of the towns. In the case of Kecksburg, that man was John Murphy, a local radio journalist who was one of the first people to arrive at the crash site. He interviewed many residents of the town and the event profoundly affected him. He wrote a radio documentary called Object in the Woods, but it never aired as written because two "men in black" came to talk to him. The version that aired did not include many of the statements from the people he interviewed nor did it reveal anything surprising. According to former colleagues at the radio station, Murphy refused to talk about the UFO incident after the airing of the edited documentary. He died in a hit-and-run accident a few years later.
I took inspiration from John Murphy when I created Matty’s father, DJ Jones. While he wasn’t despondent and depressed like Murphy, he was obsessed with the UFO incident and convinced there was a cover-up. However, I wanted DJ to ultimately be an optimistic man, one who believed that life beyond the stars was real.

About the Author
Cat Jordan
When I was a teenager, the very first book I ever tried to write was pretentious and stilted and set in a future where there was no paper. Obviously, I fancied myself another Ray Bradbury (who I was thrilled to meet not once but twice!). The book had an awesome title and no plot but I had the most fun creating the characters and the world they lived in. That to me is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel: envisioning a world and populating it with all kinds of people and dogs. Gotta have a dog.
The worlds I create now as an adult are based on my travels from coast to coast in the US, to Europe and Mexico and Canada, and on the people I have met and loved and admired and feared. And dogs.
Currently I live in Los Angeles. With my dog.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three Amazon gift cards or one of two signed copies of Eight Days on Planet Earth by Cat Jordan (US only).


Saturday, October 28, 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 28 October 2017

This Week on Books Direct -
28 October 2017

This Week on Books Direct - 28 October 2017

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!

For some, November means the final stretch of fall, Thanksgiving, preparing for the holiday season, and rushing headlong into that end of the year stretch. For others, November mostly means one thing: NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.

How NaNoWriMo Can Change Your Writing For The Better, Even If You Don't Finish A Novel In 30 Days by Kerri Jarema for Bustle

The two medal winners will be announced at the Reference and User Services Association’s Book and Media Awards event in Denver on Sunday, February 11 2018.

Andrew Carnegie Medals For Excellence In Fiction And Nonfiction 2018 Finalists on ALA

Here are the recurring ideas distilled from dozens of conversations with authors.

I Talked to 150 Writers And Here's The Best Advice They Had by Joe Fassler for LitHub

Cambridge University has confirmed it is reviewing how it teaches postcolonial literature following a petition from one of its students calling for the curriculum to include "post-colonial" or "BME authors", to avoid "perpetuating institutional racism".

Cambridge Condemns Abuse Of Student Following Literature Curriculum Coverage by Lisa Campbell for The Bookseller

She’ll be presented with the award at the free, public Langston Hughes Festival on November 16.

Zadie Smith Will Be Awarded The 2017 Langston Hughes Medal by Jennifer Baker for Electric Lit

There’s a lot of advice about how to write a book. Writing a book is not hard. Maybe writing a masterpiece is. But that’s subjective. Who knows what a masterpiece is. The only way to get better at anything is to DO IT. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To Writing Your First Book by James Altucher on Medium

Grammarly loves puns, and with Halloween just around the corner, they put together some creative ideas to spark your imagination.

16 Original Pun-Inspired Costumes To Wear This Halloween by Kimberly Joki for Grammarly

YouTube’s new feature called YouTube End Screens sees to it that if you’re not using End Screens - and not using them well -  you’re leaving all that highly engaged potential YouTube traffic you could be generating out in the cold.

How To Use YouTube End Screens to Get More Visitors, Sales, & Revenue From YouTube Traffic by Tom Breeze for Digital Marketer

If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.