ARC Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

 Genre: YA / Romance / Contemporary

Publishing Date: 16th June, 2015

My Rating: 5 Stars on 5

Such a gorgeous cover.

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. THIS BOOK!

This is the first book this year that has given me such a major hangover after The Dream Thieves, but then all of Stiefvater’s books are love but I digress. I just finished Every Last Word an hour ago and since then I haven’t been able to function properly.

So it started when Netgalley approved me for this book and I was pretty surprised since I’d only just started reading on the site and had very few (two) reviews up. I picked it up in May, but then decided to press pause on it until the release date came closer [I know, I’m an idiot].

But I finally picked it up the day it released and even though University stuff called, I finished it in two days. Well, a major chunk [more than 80%] was read today – across train travelling, during lectures and I even put my Malhar work on hold. Like what.

The Review:

The book takes time to build up but once it does, it whooshes past you and without realizing it, you’re at 60% and you’re so close to the end that you’re wondering what are the plot points / twists and then, BAM – it hits you in the stomach like a bullet.

ELW is a beautifully written book where the protagonist is a popular girl, but with a secret – she’s diagnosed with Purely Obsessional OCD. As a psychology student from three years, I have loved reading and researching about mental illness as part of my academics. Seeing it put down in a YA book, that too with an MC is something that delighted me. Stone managed to make her portrayal of a teenaged girl in sync with the illness she has.

The book is a romance too, and I thought that’d be something on the side lines, but AJ and Sam are such a healthy couple and their history is very well developed too. Poet’s Corner is a wonderful little creation, but most of all I admired the way Stone wrote the Crazy Eights. People are not black and white; it isn’t easy to compartmentalize them into either good or bad. Stone highlighted those in-between stages in a teenager’s life very well – especially that of a stereotyped high school clique of girls.

BUT THAT TWIST.

Obviously I cannot give away the twist, the essence of the novel but that was something I did not see coming. I was genuinely blown away by that reveal and the way that it was written just had me hooked. I went through the last chapters hungrily, loving the way it was unfolding and how it was so, so good for Sam.

The writing is very languid, flows very calmly for me, pacing up when it needs to. I could relate to the MC so much, I felt for her, sometimes I could even visualize her in my head or myself in her place, wondering what I’d have done. Her dilemmas were real, her feelings could be tangible, her story was believable and that’s what made this book such an amazing read for me.

The romance – AJ AND SAM are such a great couple. That introduction to the book was quite intriguing too, and then there’s the secondary character, we don’t meet them often but they are so important to the novel – her mom along her therapist (who we do meet). Stone mentions in her acknowledgements how important a strong patient-therapist relationship is and how immensely it helps and all I can say is how well she wove that into the book.

Sam’s OCD told me there’s another side to the OCD I see portrayed as a joke on TV and in movies or to a sidekick to be laughed at in novels. Mental illness is not a joke and it needs to be heard. As I’d read once on tumblr: When you have fever, you take a day off, let your body rest. If your brain feels sick, shouldn’t you treat it first?

The taboo over mental illness, the stigmatization over seeking treatment, the ostracization or fear of by others for seeking help is horrible and maybe, just maybe the people who read this book will understand how twisted it is and how important mental health is.

This book taught me a load of stuff, and that’s something I love in the books I read. That’s the reason the book got a five not four stars from me.

And the reason I’m suffering from major book hangover.

Epic Reads, you get me.
Epic Reads, you get me.

I seriously recommend you pick this up. If you study humanities, like reading quality YA and if you’re looking for something different, pick up Every Last Word.

-I received a free e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.-

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

Author Interview With Sharon Huss Roat: Between The Notes

Hey guys!

This is my very first author interview, one huge step towards being a proper book blogger! Yay! I interviewed Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between The Notes, my review of which can be found here: BTN Review.

LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
  1. How did you come up with the musical element of Between the Notes?

This story came together in such a strange way. I started with one girl and one boy, then added a friend, the family and siblings, another boy. Layer upon layer. One of those layers was Ivy’s music, and her stage fright. Music has always been a big part of my life. I played the clarinet when I was young, even got to travel around Europe performing and to Hawaii. Now I get to enjoy my son’s musical pursuits… he’s a vocal major at his performing arts high school, and also plays guitar, string bass and piano. He’s got a rock band and a blue grass band. And my daughter dances, so music finds its way into everything around here, including my books!

  1. Which of the scenes were the toughest and which of them, the best to write?

Honestly, I don’t remember which was the toughest… there were moments when I wanted to trash the whole novel because something wasn’t working, but that was years ago when I was on a first or second draft. I do have a favorite scene, but it’s toward the end of the novel and I don’t want to share a spoiler by describing it!

  1. If any one character could have a novella, which one would it be?

Ah, let’s see. I could definitely delve into the lives of James or Lennie a bit further and write a novella on either of them. But it might be even more fun to write about Willow or Wynn, who are the mean girls of this story and have their own stories to tell.

  1. What’s next in the YA world for you, after Between the Notes?

I’m currently working on a second, stand-alone novel for HarperTeen, which is also a YA contemporary. I won’t say too much about it yet as I’m still working on the first draft, but it is tentatively titled: HOW TO DISAPPEAR.

  1. As a debut novelist, what advice would you give to aspiring writers and maybe some for the readers too?

I think that both readers and aspiring writers don’t realize what goes into getting a first novel published: the YEARS of writing, revising, querying agents, being on submission to publishers, then the many rounds of revision. It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process, full of many opportunities for rejection and criticism along the way. So, to aspiring writers, my advice would be to keep at it and don’t get discouraged. To readers: be gentle!

  1. How was Between the Notes conceptualized? [Did you draw on personal experiences?]

There are so many little bits and pieces of ideas, influences and experiences that informed my writing of this novel. A case of mistaken identity, hearing about a friend’s stage fright, meeting a family with a disabled child, etc. I think it’s impossible NOT to draw on personal experiences while writing, but Ivy’s story is certainly her own and not based on my own life at all.

Rapid Fire:

  • Favourite Book: Jane Eyre
  • If you had to pick one: Lennie or Ivy? Ivy
  • What would be your last meal on earth? Garden tomato on white bread w/mayo.
  • The only thing you could take from your old house to your new one? Excluding my husband and children? My laptop.
  • Favourite TV Show and Movie. Don’t have single favorites in either categories, but off the top of my head a couple of faves: Downton Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice. (I’m in a historical mood!)

Lastly, what inspired you to write a book about mental disability and how much it affects others?

Brady’s mental disability was one of the layers I added to the story as I was revising. I met a family with twin boys, one of whom had an intellectual disability. He reminded me of Brady. I spoke to the boy’s mother at length, learned more about how his disability affected their family, including the expense of all his therapy and the impact on parents and siblings. It ended up being such an important part of Ivy’s story, I now can’t imagine what the book would be like without it!

Thank you, Nia, for having me!

Thank you so much Sharon! I loved your book and I really, really think everyone should go and get it. NOW.

Until Next Time,

Nia C.

ARC Review: Between the Notes

ARC Review: Between the Notes

Book: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Genre: YA / Romance / Contemporary

Publishing Date: 16th June, 2015

My Rating: 4.9 Stars on 5

LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.

So BTN is the very first YASH book win that I picked up, I wanted to read it before it released and review it too. Co-incidentally, it is also my first physical ARC, my first Author Interview was also given by Sharon Huss Roat, the author this amazing book.

So the book starts off pretty normally – protagonist is told she has to move, to the bad side of the town, leaving her huge home, her piano and all of her luxuries. But there’s something different in this book. Ivy, our MC, has an intellectually disabled brother who is six and who needs therapy.

She meets a cute guy (James) and the bad boy of the school (Lennie) is her neighbour. She really likes James, but are those sparks between Lennie and her?

I really, really liked the book because this time I could relate and understand both sides of the coin, even if I was only seeing one side of it – through Ivy. I felt bad for Ivy, because she lost her life, the one she as accustomed to and the idiot living next to her made fun of her and humiliated her. On the other side, I felt for Lennie too – he was used to be treated like scum by Ivy and her friends back at school and he probably didn’t deserve it.

One quote in particular stuck with me, and I remember it, just not word to word.

“I want the best for him, but it sucks that it means the worst for all of us.”

As an older sibling, I relate immensely to this. But since Brady needs more help than others, it’s refreshing to see how this isn’t painted on a something that’s taboo. I’ve read enough books where the disabled sibling is a shameful secret to the rich protagonist’s family and reputation and it’s only when the love interest shows an inclination to acceptance does it actually become positive. That’s twisted. This book is written well, labelling Brady as a challenge, and as their personal hero. The love that the family has for him, irrespective of what’s happening to them is such a delight to read about.

Reesa, the best friend, Lennie the next-door-bad boy, James, the cute one, the twins, the parents, and the evil ones are all very well thought secondary characters. And the flow was smooth and quick at the same time, it didn’t drag much. It’s a bit longer than other YA books at 400 pages but it is worth it.

I took out a bit of the rating because of the overdone trope: good girl meets bad boy etc. etc. But instead of giving it a 4.5 like I normally would’ve, there’s another aspect to the novel I loved – the musical element -Ivy’s love for her piano and her stage fright among other things.

  • So this reader is completely clueless. I saw the cover several times, marvelled at its simplistic beauty but after several views did I find the piano room. And it took someone to tell me the title was related and symbolic to piano NOTES – Between the NOTES. Seriously, what.

This is the only book after Simon vs. And Alive that I really liked so much, it’s probably getting me out of my slump.

I really think you should pick this book up; it hits the stores today and look out for my interview with Sharon Huss Roat immediately after this post.

Read it, love it.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

-I won a free copy of this book but that did not influence my review in any way –

Book Review: Never Never Part Two [Coming Soon]

Book Review: Never Never Part Two

Hi guys, if you’re wondering why I suddenly posted this, fret not. I didn’t even know this was coming on here. It was supposed to go on my summer blog but ended up here. Sigh, perils of having two blogs. Here’s the post on my Summer Blog: Never Never Part Two.

I’m currently nearing the end of College Hoover and Tarryn Fisher’s Never Never Part Two. I’ll be uploading the review tomorrow morning-afternoon.

This saved review post will motivate me to read faster and not procrastinate as much.

Until tomorrow,

Nia Carnelio.

Second Edit: I’ve decided to hold off on reading Never Never Part Two until part three comes out. It’s just easier that way. The review will also follow then [obviously]. Thanks. 

How To Identify A Book Blogger

Summer 2015 is quickly coming to its end; I have a little less than a month of holidays left. Even though with all the Malhar work, I’m in college every day. Something that’s been a huge part of my summer this year – Books. I made a promise to myself that I’d read more than the measly eighteen books I read all of last year, two books for college included.  So this year, it’s been less than six months and I’ve read thirty books so far. Pretty good, yeah.

go, tyler.
go, tyler.

During my quest to read more and read better, I’ve met several amazing book bloggers, especially on Twitter and made friends with them. Everyone is so nice and kind and one of my old school friends, [Rhea, who wrote yesterday’s post] has patiently answered my questions about book blogging and ARCs and all. So today’s post goes out to all the book bloggers I follow, whom I know and who are my friends.

  1. They’ve read that book before it’s out.
I've read that book ages ago.
I’ve read that book ages ago.

So you think since you pre-ordered that book, you’re gonna be one of the first people to read it? Nope, noppity nope. There are ARCs* and these book bloggers have them. That means there are people who read each Harry Potter book before it came out and kept their silence. Imagine that.

  1. They have their own lingo.
Anyone else.
Anyone else.

From ARCs [Advanced Reader’s Copy] to INTL [international], they have a whole lot of abbreviations on their blogs for the meme posts, their twitter giveaways and their blog’s USP. Learn it, and you’re in the circle. Otherwise, fake it, till you make it, bro.

  1. Huge, bursting bookshelves, but there’s still space.
Forget the fairytale, all they want is the library.
Forget the fairytale, all they want is the library.

Every one of them has so, so many books, ARCs and we’re not even gonna talk about ebooks. But still, there’s place for more. Every giveaway is entered, shared and told about because there isn’t any resentment if someone else wins. You learn about a new book, someone gets it. A book is a book, all the same. Everyone wins.

  1. Extremely kind to new book bloggers.
Even if they don't need help. :P
Even if they don’t need help. :P

Book bloggers have either been in the profession for years or are complete novices, like me. But never fear – there is always help to be found. Even the most popular blogger will help you out and talk to you. They’re people who like books, just like you.

  1. Constantly reading.
ALL THE BOOKS.
ALL THE BOOKS.

If you didn’t get that from the title and the context of the post, seriously, they are always reading. I’ve seen people go through two books a day and watch shows and movies and tweet about it. Jesus, forget runners, there should be Olympics for the fastest readers. The winner gets the first ARC of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater.

  1. They post every day.
Blogging 24x7.
Blogging 24×7.

If they haven’t a got a new review out, they’re probably crafting a clever little post on Waiting for Wednesday or Top Ten Tuesday. Somehow, they post so often, they’re all you see on bloglovin.

  1. They know the best people.
So cool.
So cool.

They are friends with authors, who are amazing in person and on twitter and they chat like they’re old buddies. They know the best books to be read in every genre and they even know who’s written it. Sigh, it’s like small scale celebrity meet and greets – except on twitter and these last a lot longer.

8. INTENSE feelings about a book. 

Two gifs, because twice as many feels.
Two gifs, because twice as many feels.
And because it's Dan.
And because it’s Dan.

They will yell, cry and rage about any book or any character that they need to. They will leave you feeling like you don’t feel enough. Whenever their tweets about a book surface, you know there’ll be hell to pay in the review.

So, that’s it. How you recognize a [YA /NA] book blogger, especially on Twitter.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

[P.S – First posted on my summer blog, and then posted here. Cheers.]

Your Guide To Malhar – A Product of St. Xavier’s, Mumbai.

So if you’ve been reading my summer blog, you’ll notice I’ve mentioned the words Malhar, OC, OG and College fest a fair amount this past month and so here is the down low on Malhar – Presented by St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. [We’re Autonomous, just in case you didn’t know].

Arguably, the best Malhar that ever was.
Arguably, the best Malhar that ever was.

I’ve been in St. Xavier’s since 2012, and unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in Malhar Local, since application deadlines for volunteers had passed. I did apply for Raga, Malhar’s official newsletter in 2013. Malhar Zara Hatke accepted me with open arms and I have been a part of Raga for two years now – both as a volunteer [Malhar – A Renaissance, 2014].

Malhar is one of the oldest fests in our city, it began in 1979 and according to sources, Raga was born in 1989. Malhar is the second largest inter-collegiate youth festival in Asia. A sub-department of Literary Arts, Raga split away from LA and has been separate ever since. We’re the smallest department in the whole of Malhar, well, Finance is, but we’re the smallest with volunteers.

Malhar is ruled by a hierarchy of students. Faculty rarely interferes with prep for the fest which is held in August. The Chairperson, and the three Vice Chairpersons are chosen in March, with interviews happening in February. Yes, we start that early. You think that being an amazing fest comes just like that?

The Organizers In Charge are chosen in the first two weeks of April after our End Semester Exams [ESEs] and then the last two weeks are for choosing the Organizers. So in layman’s terms – OCs are Heads while OGs are sub-heads of a particular department.

Chairperson  – VCP Events, VCP Conclave and VCP Management are called the Quartet and they are the highest on the hierarchy with the OCs under them and their specific departments and then come the OGs and finally, the volunteers. The Organizing Committee makes up 150 people and the volunteers are 1300 in number. The entire college gets into it, whether they want to or not. Malhar is life, for many.

Departments among the Events include: Literary Arts[LA], Raga, Indian Performing Arts [IPA], World Performing Arts [WPA], Administration[Admin], Workshops Inc.[Winc], Fine Arts[FA] and Entertainments, Theatricals and Contests [ETC].

Departments under Management include: Assistance, Computers [Comps], Graffix, Hospitality [ Hospi], Technicals [fondly called TEXXX], Logistics [Logs], Security, Souvenirs, Public Relations, Marketing and Finance.

Conclave, a session of talks is the only department under Conclave. Day One of Malhar is reserved for Conclave. We’ve had speakers from every field come and talk [name drop – 2013, His Holiness, The Dalai Lama].

Security, Assistance, Logs and Texxx are nicknamed the Big Four because they command the largest number of volunteers.

The months May-August pass in a flurry of preparation for the arrival of Malhar, aptly named as it falls in the middle of Monsoon in Mumbai. Popular events include Mr. And Ms. Malhar, former events of Street Dance and Bollywood Dance. The colleges take home trophies and prizes and the experience of being part of a fest that is a way of life to Xavierites.

AmNite is a Malhar tradition, held on the second evening / night of Malhar and singers, dancers, performers from the college are chosen to entertain those who form the workforce and this is a college party to be remembered as is the Closing Ceremony on the third night where we bid farewell to our fest for another year.

Five years, or three, if you’re less fortunate is all you get in Xavier’s [unless you fail or come back, but semantics], and every year that you do Malhar is something new gained.

If you’ve come to watch an event or take part in one, you’re one of the 30,000 who’ve set foot in our home of the past few months. Malhar is something we are immensely proud of contributing our hard work and talent to. We make new friends, some for life, we learn new things and we experience it all in these months.

Malhar is something we love. Even if we will eventually have to give it up some day.

We are Malhar.
We are Malhar.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

P.S – This has been posted on Summer 2015 first, and is a copy of the same. I’ve been daily-blogging there.

Summer 2015 Is Now Here!

Hello good madams and kind sirs!

If you have been waiting for me to post something because my holidays have clearly begun, I apologize. And also because this will the last post I post here for some time. Because it is time to unveil my pet project: Summer 2015. It is another blog I created specifically to chronicle my summer this year. I’m hoping that this blog will help me develop a regular reading habit and one that will stick, hopefully. I hope to write or click a photograph or review a new book or well, do something productive every day this summer. And includes making YouTube videos that will make me cringe if anybody I even remotely know watches them.

So basically, I want to do things this summer. But just not too many away from Wi-Fi, after all I still have a very deep relationship with my laptop and my library.

Incase you miss me, come say hello via email or on twitter.

Until June,

Nia C.

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After all, every summer has a story.