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 –