Monday, June 23, 2014

MELT ~ The Full Circle of Domestic Abuse

This is my last official post before my summer break. Technically, I'm on a family vacation, right now, but wanted to share this amazing book with you. I'll be popping in and out, but will return to my regular schedule in mid to late August. 
My heart pounded as I read every word of Dorothy and Joey's story. Though long-fought and denied, love and genuine care for another can make all the difference in the world. 

That is what I typed directly after I'd finished reading this story. My heartache over the domestic abuse Joey went through dug deep within me. I've shared just how deep below. 

MELT by Selene Castrovilla

Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: November 2014
Pages: 328

I'd like to thank the publisher for supplying me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Description: Melt is a brutal love story, set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz. Sixteen year old “good girl” Dorothy just blew into the small town of Highland Park – where the social headquarters is Munchkinland (Dunkin’ Donuts.) There, she meets Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? And then there’s his family's secret – about to be unleashed.

Told in dual first person, Joey's words are scattered on the page - reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason - until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away?

Melt is based on true events. It is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. It will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul.

Favorite Lines/Passage: Joey's POV:

Late late late
It's late. 
I wake in the black
to the racket
in the air reaching up up
up from 
Pop's cursing like a madman
high on whiskey no doubt
like a caged panther I'm
he's screeching he's howling I'll bet he's
barking through the window at the
He crashes
he smashes
he bashes
Mom too I know.
      My clock glares red from my night stand it's 1:56
      My mouth tastes sour.
       I lean over the edge of my bed grope for the
of my Bacardi 151. I keep it tucked under the bed for nights like this and they're pretty
nights like this.


My Splats: Follow the journey of a boy emotionally dulled by domestic abuse and the girl who sees life, love, and hope in him. 

This is a young adult story for the ages. Sounds clique, but true. It explores the world of domestic violence - a world all too often hidden from most. Just as adult victims, children/teens existing in such an environment are molded by what they see and feel. And it takes its tole. 

From the outside, opinions can be told about Joey. He's rough, tough, and known for trouble. No one in their small town wants to know why. Most would rather gossip about him being no good and a loser. But, as with most things in life, what is visible on the outside is far, far from reality. 

Physically, Joey is a big guy, built, and quite attractive. Dorothy is new in town and notices him, because of those traits. But for her, there's something more. Her parents work in the psychiatric field and she's developed a feel for people. She feels something off about Joey, that he's not what the other kids are telling her he is. 

Joey is soft and deep, on a primitive level. He'd already chalked up the dream everyone wants--a good home, caring family, and love--to fantasy. In Joey's world, all those things that are supposed to equate to love are lies, a mere facade painted on your skin so people don't know. He does love ... his booze and fighting. It helps him forget what he has to go home to. For Joey, his home symbolizes a prison stained in tainted memories of beatings, guilt for not helping his mother, and places his dad kept him to keep him out of the way when he was younger. 

And Dorothy sees that. Not the abuse at first, but his desire to be more than he is right now, his want for happiness and hope that he's not ready to admit yet. She senses his loneliness and a tension stirring inside him. She decides to wait on him, let him emerge on his own. 

For Joey, Dorothy slowly becomes his hope and courage--a belief there might be more to life than this. But he's so afraid she'll get hurt like his mom.  

The writing brilliantly captures the essence of domestic abuse and its lingering affects. It's told from duel point-of-views, which adds such depth to the tale I don't think it could have been written any other way. Joey's POV is visual, too. As I've shown above, the author structured the words in a linear fashion down the left side of the page. Sometimes using a single word, while other times a few words. This gave a tangible view of his brokenness, his vulnerability. 

My only issue with the story was how Dorothy met a few friends at the beginning and then it's as if those kids just disappeared once she began talking to Joey.  

NOTE: there is vulgarity in the opening, but the piece is so powerful that it's easily overlooked. Honestly, holy wow! Let me rephrase. The opening to this story so overwhelmed me, the blanket of helplessness was so heavy, I got a stomachache. All I could think was 'God help them'. And I couldn't stop reading.

Have you ever read a book about domestic violence? 

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wistful YA ~ BONESEEKER & Giveaway!

Wistful YA is my reoccurring spotlight, giving young adult literature center stage.

I'm thrilled to be a part of this next blog tour. I'll save you my blabber, partially because I'm leaving for a two-week vacation tomorrow, but mostly because this book will speak for itself. I'd recommend this as a good summer read!
BONESEEKER by Brynn Chapman

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction; Mystery
Publisher: Month9Books
Published Date: June 17, 2014
I'd like to thank the publisher for supplying me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Favorite Line/Passage: Henry POV ~ I gently slide the hair from her cheek and over her shoulder. It reaches her bottom like a red-headed Rapunzel. Her fringe of hair brushes her thick eyelashes, which twitch as she dreams.

Arabella POV ~ The sky is dark and brooding, much like Henry.

He's barely uttered a sentence. He's contemplating, trying to work out what he wants to say. The weather seems to mimic his mood, as if the breeze holds its breath in similar anticipation.

Description: Arabella Holmes was born different and raised different. After it became apparent she wouldn't fit the role of a proper 1900's lady, her father, Sherlock, called in some lingering favors, and landed her a position at the Mutter Museum. The museum was Arabella's dream; she was to become a purveyor of abnormal science. What her father called a BoneSeeker.

Henry Watson arrives at the Mutter Museum with a double assignment--to become a finder of abnormal antiquities and to watch over and keep Arabella Holmes. An easy task, if he could only get her to speak to him instead of throwing knives in his general direction.

But this is no time for child's play. The two teens are assigned to a most secret exploration, when the hand of a Nephilim is unearthed in upstate New York. Soon, Arabella and Henry are caught in a fight for their lives as scientific debate swirls around them. Are the bones from a Neanderthal ... or are they living proof of fallen angels, who supposedly mated with humans according to ancient scrolls?

Sent to recover the skeleton, they discover they are the second team to have been deployed and the entire first team is dead. And now they must trust their instincts and rely on one another in order to survive and uncover the truth.

My Splats: In the flair of second-generation Sherlock Holmes, there's mystery, danger, romance, and definitely major snark.

The story opens in the past with a group of men discussing a matter of importance and their willingness to do whatever is necessary for their cause ... a cause vaguely disclosed to the reader. From here the story moves into the present then to another chapter from the point-of-view of one of the lead characters. The next chapter is then from the other man lead's point-of-view. I wasn't sure I was going to like the story from the way the opening was structured, but the MC's voices along with the snippet of mystery introduced urged me to keep reading. I'm glad I did. 

I loved the fact that Arabella is introduced as Sherlock Holmes' daughter and her BFF (best friend forever and eventual boyfriend forever) Henry as Watson's son. I'm not giving anything away by describing Henry as I just did. Trust me. It will be obvious to you from the start that these two are destined to be together and have been since childhood. But don't let that fool you. The author does a wonderful job of tossing up roadblocks to get in their way.

Arabella and Henry have been life-long friends. How could they not with the tempestuous friendship between their fathers? They find themselves employed on a bone recovery mission for a museum after a few years apart. Between the bone recovery dig itself, murder, physical attacks, their childhood memories and snarky fromance (friendship/romance), and Henry's alleged promiscuity, this is no simple tale. 

Through Bella and Henry's taunting romance, a mystery slowly rears its annoying head. It appears someone is sabotaging the dig. This is where Arabella's traits of details and detection, obviously gained from her Holmes' father, begin to work overtime. It was fun watching her, all while poor Henry did his best to keep her out of trouble--deja vu to their fathers' relationship.

Arabella is witty, bold nonsense, and at times she felt too old for her age. But she can't really be to blame. Having the amazing Scotland Yard detective as a father was not easy. She's learned that life is all scientific with no room for the unexplained--love being one of those unexplained. But Henry has something to say about that. I found it amazing how Arabella's capacity for love goes from nonexcited (knowing she feels different when Henry's around), to full-fledged passion. All I can say about Henry is that I love him and his internal struggle to resist Arabella. He desperately tries to fend it off, but alas ... 

The writing is both poetic and dreamy. There are strong, forceful moments, yet extreme tender ones, too. The author has a nice command over the language of the time period. At times, the tale held a CSI feel, crime scenes and all. 

My only negative is the overall feel of the story is a mixture of young adult and new adult. The lead characters are both in a profession, both hold a demeanor of older characters, and both tend to think with more wisdom than the average YAer.
I have to tell you. I am head-over-oodles in love with Henry. Wish they'd put a snippet of him on the cover. Even a faded out background. #growls

~ ABOUT the Author ~ 

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

What's the last time-period piece you've read or heard was good?
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Middle Grade Read ~ Wish You Weren't

MMGM aka Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday was created by Shannon Messenger to give middle grade reads the attention they deserve. I'm joining in, today. If you'd like to see more MG books, click HERE to follow other participants. 

Please lend a warm Alleyway welcome to a wonderful writer and mother, who's visited all but nine of the continental US! Impressive... She's so cool that she's agreed to share her thoughts for anyone leaving the opening line to their current WIP in the comments below. How cool! So, if you're interested, leave your opening line in the comments and come back to see what she has to say. AND remember to ENTER her generous giveaway.

SHERRIE PETERSEN still believes in magic and she loves making up stories that allow her to go on wild adventures. In addition to writing middle grade novels, she moonlights as a graphic designer, substitute teacher, freelance writer, school newspaper adviser, yearbook adviser and mother of two children.

Hi Sherrie! I'm so excited to have you splatter your signature on the Graffiti Wall. Tell me, did you enjoy reading as a child? 
I was one of those kids that always had her nose buried in a book. Which makes sense because I'm one of those adults, too :) 
I had a book of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales that I would read over and over again. My favorites were The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale and The Tinderbox. I loved the tragedy of them as well as the beauty, so I'm not a fan of remakes that gloss over the sadness. I think tragedy can heighten the beauty of a story.

When did you start writing?
I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. If I didn't have paper around, I'd start writing on the endpapers of my childhood books. It's kind of funny to pull them out now and read my scrawling. The best part is that my son was the same way when he was younger. I remember reading Stuart Little with him and when we got to the end, he was convinced that E.B. White must have dropped and lost the last chapter on the way to the publisher. So he wrote his own ending and we glued it in the back. I'll hold on to that book forever because it made me happy to see his creativity flourishing. And honestly, I think he wrote a fantastic new ending :)

Well, let's tell the readers about your  middle grade pretties that was released in March 2014 by Intrepid Publications!

Description: Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn't expect it to make any difference. 

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves. GOODREADS | AMAZON | B&N |  SMASHWORDS

Gosh, I love this blurb.

Care to share your thoughts from your experience in cyber space?
Blogging was so valuable to me when I was learning about writing and publishing. There are a LOT of great bloggers out there, willing to share their knowledge and learn from each other. It's such a great community and I'm glad I was able to become a small part of it. Write About Now has close to 100,000 page views and even though I started a separate author website with a blog, I've left my old blog up because it still gets close to 3,000 hits every month from people searching out interviews and writing and publishing advice. 

I couldn't agree with you more. Cyber space is brimming with amazing writers, who give of themselves everyday. It's awesome!

What do you see as the biggest challenge writing for the children's market in today's publishing world? 
Being discovered. There are so many books out there to read that it makes finding and connecting with your readers difficult. I love bloggers like you who make it part of their mission to highlight books and writers. It's good for readers and it's good for authors. So thank you!!

I love your enthusiasm, Sherrie! Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us, for offering your thoughts on any commentors' opening lines, and for the generous giveaway. All the best to you, always....

Sherrie is offering up one (1) print copy and one (1) ebook copy of WISH YOU WEREN'T. The ebook portion is open internationally. WINNERS to be announced on June 25th. Go ENTER now...
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alleywalkers, leave your opening line in the comments. I can't wait to read them! 
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