Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review - Marionette by T. B. Markinson


At the age of seventeen, Paige Alexander had it all planned. She wrote a letter, sat in the bath, and slit her wrists. Her plan failed.

Her best friend, Alex, is dead.

Paige can’t get over her twin sister blaming her for a tragic event in their past.

Colorado is in the midst of voting on lesbian and gay rights and Paige is terrified to come out of the closet, fearful for her life.

Many people in Paige’s life are keeping secrets from her. Will she piece everything together before it’s too late?

In this gripping first-person narrative, a young college student grapples with more than first loves or coming of age.  In a world filled with homophobia, suicidal feelings, and a dysfunctional family, Paige cuts her wrists in an attempt to free herself from the crazy life that’s all she’s ever known.

Could there be new lessons in store for Paige?  With the help of her girlfriend, friends, and a compassionate therapist, can Paige find the safe space she needs to heal, grow, and cut her strings?

What I thought:

To be honest, I started to read this book then stopped - not once but three times.  I can promise you this had nothing to do with the author's writing.  It had everything to do with me as I tend to read "happier" stories.  Marionette is not the typical young adult novel. Instead, it broaches some heavy issues:  suicide, family dysfunction and homosexuality.

Marionette is a first person narrative but I wasn't always convinced that main character, Paige Alexander, was giving an accurate depiction of her family.  It sometimes felt a little too convenient.  (Like the old saying goes, I kept thinking that there are three sides to every story - your side, my side, and the truth which falls somewhere in the middle.)  I would have loved to have met her family, to have witnessed the dysfunction rather than having to rely on a "retelling" of the events.  Having said that, there was a lot to like about this novel.  The author juggled a lengthy cast of characters and did a good job giving a distinct voice to each.  While I didn't find Paige to be the most likable character, she was captivating.  I especially liked the scenes between her and her therapist.  The interaction between the those two characters felt authentic and the author's approach to handling such a sensitive issue was spot on.  She didn't minimize the suicide attempt nor try to justify it. She presented it as it was - something confusing and traumatic.  

Being a teenager isn't easy; it can be quite painful.   Add homosexuality to the mix and you've got a recipe for some serious angst.   Paige and her friends deal with homophobia. (Introduce the homophobes - Aaron, with his military haircut and attitude and Audrey the good Catholic girl.) I recognize that homosexuals deal with homophobia on a daily basis - and some of the people serving up the hate consider themselves religious, etc.  I wish the author would have  chosen to reach beyond the stereotypes.  A compassionate Catholic girl who supports equal rights or a military minded gay guy would have been awesome.  That being said, I felt as though Markinson shared a story that anyone could read and relate to.

There was romance in this story but don't expect anything raunchy because its not in this book.  The author took great care to show the emotional connection between Paige and her girlfriend - any physical descriptions are kept to a minimum. 

Overall, I thought Markinson delivered a compelling story.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The writing team HL Carpenter has been busy.  Not only have they recently published their latest YA novel - Walled In, they are part of the "My Writing Process" blog tag tour.  Make sure you click the above link to check out their site.  In the mean time, I'm thrilled they tagged me as the next participant!

With this tour, the participants are given four questions.  Below, you'll find my answers.

What are you currently working on?

I am in the process of finishing my first new adult novella, The Reasons Why, as well as working on the sequel to Of Dreams and Shadow, the first book in the Forget Me Not series.

How does your writing process work?

When it comes to writing, I do a lot of listening.  My characters love to talk - sometimes at the most inopportune times - like in the middle of my work day.  When that happens, I jot down a few quick notes - just to make sure I don't forget. I try to know where the story is going before I sit down in front of the keyboard.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Of Dreams and Shadow is Young Adult Paranormal.  However, there aren't any vampires, werewolves, etc.  Instead, I've got a sinister shadow haunting the pages.  The Reasons Why (soon to be released) is new adult fiction.  The main characters are from a blended family.  They have to come to terms with the fact that love can happen at the most inconvenient times with the most inconvenient people.

Why do you write what you do?

This may sound crazy but its true - what I write depends on the characters and what they have to say.  I first started writing The Reasons Why because Britney and Michael popped in my head and wouldn't leave me alone.  It was quite frustrating to be honest. I was working on the sequel to Dreams and I literally reached a point that I couldn't go any further - not until Britney and Michael had their say.  I sat down in front of the keyboard with the intention to write just enough to get them to hush.  It never happened - the more I listened, the more they talked.

Who's up next?  That would be authors Laurie WJN and Beth Camp.  Laurie is the author of The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus.  Make sure you swing by her blog - Looking on the Sunnyside.  Beth Camp is the author of Standing Stones. Click here for Beth's blog.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mean Girls in Young Adult Fiction

There are people who would prefer that the stereotypical mean girl, who so often appears in young adult fiction, would go the way of the dodo bird.  But why?  Literature is sprinkled with femme fatale characters who use their beauty and charm to manipulate.  They lie and deceive.  They bring a certain magic to the story.  Like the femme fatale, the mean girl serves much the same purpose.
The teenage years are a time of growing and maturing.  It's also the time when many teens are at their most vulnerable.  I explored this topic in Of Dreams and Shadow.   Having a mean girl allowed me to use her as a tool - one that could expose my main character's insecurities.  Jenna is a typical teen.  She's the new girl in school.  She's dealing with all the baggage that comes with a move - finding her place in a new social environment while mourning the loss of the security of her former life and friends.  Mean Girl Melissa helped to propel Jenna's story.  She made sure Jenna felt out of place.  She possessed a confidence that Jenna lacked.   Because of her, Jenna had to grow.  She had to become a young woman who knew her own self-worth. 
But what of the mean girl?  Why do we typically choose to describe her as popular and beautiful? After all, we all know girls that are not only popular/beautiful but sweet and kind.  So why the stereotype?  There are a variety of reasons but one reason sticks out for me.  In our society, looks are valued; females tend to compare themselves to their peers.  Most people can relate to the girl who is all too aware of the pimple that blemishes her face or the hair that refuses to cooperate.  We know what it's like to feel as though we don't measure up.  The mean girl is beautiful because she has to be.  She's the picture of perfection, a contrast to the main character's self-perceived shortcomings.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Book Tour

Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not (Book 1) is going on tour with 
Pump Up Your Book Tours.  
I'll be visiting some really awesome blogs so stop by!
PUYB Tour Schedule A

Divider 9Monday, May 5
Guest Blogging at Bibliotica
Tuesday, May 6
Wednesday, May 7
Thursday, May 8
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner
Friday, May 9
Monday, May 12
Book Review at Book Club Sisters
Tuesday, May 13
Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Wednesday, May 14
Book Featured at I Heart Reading
Monday, May 19
Book Review at Crazy Four Books
Thursday, May 22
Guest Blogging at CBY Book Club
Monday, May 26
Book Review at Emeraldfire’s Bookmark
Tuesday, May 27
Book Featured at Mom With a Kindle
Wednesday, May 28
Book Review at Queen of All She Reads
Friday, May 30
Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf
Book Review at Bound 4 Escape