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review 2016-04-10 20:00
ARC Review – Thárros, by C. Kennedy
Thárros - C. Kennedy

We must start with courage.

And Thárros is courage.

 

Only in truly great fear, (or pain, or grief), do we need to muster truly great courage—but we do muster this courage, because without it there is no hope.

 

And without hope, we are all lost.

 

This story digs deep within, and it blasts open the dams, releasing a deluge of sorrow and pain, but also rivers of courage, hope and love. And as much as it has a sad base-line, it is also an uplifting story; it is beautiful, and amazing, and action-filled, and absolutely thrilling.

 

It runs away with you, it breaks your heart, and then it puts it back together again.

 

But it also delivers the extra bonus: It is so much fun! Meeting Christy and Michael again with all their crazy and exciting friends at school, and Lisa and her Uncle Smitty, it makes you giggle, and laugh, and smile, and feel good. I adore these fantastic families that know how to do things right.

Mothers and fathers who care. Teachers and a school principal who take their responsibilities seriously.

This is a little bit like a Technical Manual of Care and Maintenance for those who work with our collective youth, especially if they work with children or young adults who have had a hard time.

 

The series is, of course, centered around Christy, and I find that he is a hero of enormous value and valor. What he has overcome would make most of us just want to roll over and give up. What he does with his knowledge, once he’s gotten his own power back again, is what makes him different from the rest of us. Because he uses every inch of what he’s been through to help others, especially a kid called Thimi who enters the storyline at the end of this book, a little bit on the side. Beautiful new character. Cannot wait to get to know him a little bit more.

 

Thárros explores how we confront fear and pain, and it shows us how to find our strength, our courage. It also shows us that we can, and should, lean on our friends, trust that they will love us and help us when we need it. And it shows us how even the strongest of us sometimes give up, and need help to come back.

 

It is a story of great struggles, of great friendships, and of great pain, all turned into a wondrous blend of both strength and love.

 

The end result? The telling of a great, great love story—with true friendship shining through, the kind of love that inspires both happy endings and hope.

 

Now, we must lean back in our armchairs, and wait for the last book in this series, Elpida.

 

Because Elpida means hope.

 

And, as we said in the beginning, without hope, we are all lost.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher, Harmony Ink Press. A positive review wasn’t promised in return.

 

 

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1376587/arc-review-tharros-by-c-kennedy
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review 2016-03-30 17:59
ARC Review — As Autumn Leaves, by Kate Sands
As Autumn Leaves - Kate Sands

What a delightful short novel this is. I love the strong main character, Kayla, and I enjoyed walking by her side as she started to come to terms with who she was.

 

We need more books for young adults that cover the whole spectrum of diversity, and this one is great at talking about the age-old teenage problems of Where do I fit in? and, Who am I?

 

Few things in life are more confusing than being a teenager. Not feeling “normal” is normal. But getting someone to help you see your true potential and who you are? And making sure you get what you want?

 

Priceless.

 

Easy to say, I loved this. It is clean, clear, and beautiful—and it brings hope. I want this in the hands of as many young adults as possible, so that they can see that they are okay, as they are, and that they can have any kind of relationship that makes them happy.

 

I loved it. Because it’s great also for grown-ups.

 

***

 

I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher, Harmony Ink Press. A positive review wasn’t promised in return.

Source: annalund2011.booklikes.com/post/1366613/arc-review-as-autumn-leaves-by-kate-sands
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-12-28 15:28
The ones that got away
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides

I really enjoyed this book, the second Eugenides I have read this season, and I was glad I did not hear about the "twist" (for lack of a better word) in The Virgin Suicides. I am not sure how I avoided hearing about it considering the book is now over 20 years old and has been hanging just on the periphery of my reading life, I actually walked out on friends watching the movie in college but I was a stupid then and wanted to go get drunk instead of sitting around watching some movie with a group that has since become my closest friends.

 

It is not really a twist, and that explains why I never heard about it, when you've set out in the title the fact that five teenage girls are to commit suicide, everything else fades into the background. Eugenides sets us up for the hit, hiding the narrator in plain sight. He happens to be, well, whoever he is, but, as it starts, you get the feeling it could just as easily be written by Ms. Perl, Uncle Tucker, Peter Sissen or any of the others from the cast of small town busybodies that feel familiar in a way that makes me uncomfortable--much of this book makes me feel uncomfortable, but in the way it should, challenging the way I look at the world. As it moves on, however, the narrator starts to appear less a quiet observer and more a Humbert Humbert, the story itself being misshapen through his perspective and manipulated through his writing. It would be/will be interesting to read again, knowing the role the boys play in the end and watching for that dynamic, but I am happy I got to feel my way through the first reading deciding and then second guessing my feelings on certain characters, trying to guess how it all goes down, then being lulled, like the boys, into a shock.

 

Something in how we never quite see the girls clearly. The narrator insists his clutch know them better than the other townspeople and journalists, but we see the Lisbon girls through the narrators reaction, which is that of every adolescent boy. They are mysterious. The boys are very aware of the Lisbon girls' bodies down to odors and facial hair, and they are transfixed by them. The whole book they see  the girls the same way they did when Peter Sissen peeked around upstairs, enthralled by the ladies undergarments, makeup and Tampax, and in a demonstrable way, like Sissen, who grabbed the brassiere off the crucifix, they are, decades later, still swiping ephemera from the objects of their desires.

 

Actually the later collection, which we learn about first, is less weird seeming to be part of an investigation of the suicides. It is when we learn that the boys have already started a collection that I really started to question the narrator.

 

The Virgin Suicides will dump you right back into the hormonal throes of adolescent love, but it does  so in a way that gives it weight, that respects the pain and damage we can do even in our most foolish years and leaves out the nostalgia. 

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text 2015-12-11 05:56
Horror and Adolescence
Spinner - Michael J. Bowler

Horror and adolescence go hand in hand for many reasons, which explains why teens tend to thrive on horror films and books more than any other demographic.

Adolescence is a time of great change for kids – a transitional period between childhood and adulthood. No, teens are not young adults until they reach the age of eighteen (despite the media obsessively referring to 11 year olds as “young men” or “young women”), but their brains and bodies are changing at such a rapid pace that these years teeter between exhilarating and terrifying on a daily basis. The adolescent brain has one foot firmly planted on the accelerator while the other foot struggles to find the brake. Teens seek out thrilling experiences that pump the adrenalin and pound the heart. Hence the love of amusement park thrill rides, fast driving, and the heart-pounding experience of a good horror film or book.

But the “thrill gene,” as it’s been loosely dubbed, in teens isn’t the only correlation to horror, or the only reason teens love the genre. Fear is a HUGE part of adolescence, and teens stress over how best to manage that fear. What fears do teens face on a daily basis? Depends on where they live and go to school. For many, the fear is physical. Will they make it through the school day without getting bullied? Will they make it home without getting jumped? Will they fail yet another class and have to take it over? Will dad be drunk again tonight? Will mom tell them they’re losers? Will there be any food for dinner or will they have to go hungry until school the following day? These are but a few of the real fears no kid should have to live with, but far too many in America do.

But, above and beyond these issues, every adolescent is afraid to be different, to stand out from their peers, to not fit in. This is a palpable fear that guides almost every decision teenagers make. While some parents may encourage kids to embrace their differentness, most want their kids to be “mini-me’s” and conform to the “accepted societal norms” so they (the parents) don’t look bad in the eyes of other adults for having “that weird kid.” Such parents are embarrassed to have a disabled child, or one who isn’t good at sports, or who doesn’t get all A’s in school or who’s LGBT. By the time the adolescent brain kicks in, the wiring is geared toward socialization and social acceptance, so teens squelch their innate differentness in order to fit in. They live in fear every day that the mask they wear will be knocked off, the real “them” will shine through, and they will be ostracized as a result. So they dress the same, talk the same and act the same as their peers out of fear that their real selves will be rejected.

How does this fear relate to horror? Look at the huge number of horror films that feature a kid who’s odd or different or possessed or threatened by nightmares that expose his secrets to the world. Look at how many films or books that feature a damaged character that hides behind a literal mask. Horror often features the outsider kid, the one nobody likes because he or she is “different” as the hero, the one who saves the day when his or her “conforming” peers are getting knocked off one by one. The plethora of possession movies speak to teen fears of having someone inside themselves, i.e. the real human being, revealing itself to the world and not being accepted. For LGBT youth, this fear is profound because they know how society consistently rejects kids like them for being born “different.” I supervised the GSA at my high school and, sadly, most of those kids were more afraid of their parents than their peers. Many kids wanted to attend meetings or functions, they’d tell me in private, but were afraid other kids would turn against them or, worse yet, inform their parents.

Special Education (SPED) kids harbor a similar fear. As a teacher to disabled students, I know from experience that their greatest fear is for peers to find out they’re SPED. I know the fear – I’ve lived with hearing impairment my whole life and there was not a single kid like me at any grade level up through and including graduate school. I never told peers that I couldn’t hear clearly. I just laughed if other kids did, even though I didn’t hear the punch line, or I stayed silent and nodded if I didn’t clearly understand something. I shied away from group sports or dances or activities that were loud and had many kids talking at once because I was afraid I’d have to admit my weakness and then get mocked for it. There was never a day when I wasn't reminded that I was different. So it was no surprise that even as a child I loved horror films and books. For me, seeing people manage fears that were greater than mine helped me deal with my own. These stories also raced my heart and fueled my imagination and inspired me to be a writer when I grew up. Horror is a thrill ride teens hope they never have to live through in real life, but they thrive on the adrenaline rush of being chased by the guy with the chainsaw, or having an exorcism performed on them, or having a guy with blades for fingers reach out of their dreams to try and kill them. Their hearts pound, blood rushes, and then they get to walk away unharmed.

For these very reasons, the best horror stories feature teen protagonists. Teens are always more willing to take risks adults wouldn’t – like opening that cellar door to see what’s down below, or sneaking into a graveyard to dig up graves or playing with that Ouija board that they know from countless films will lead to disaster. Teens are risk-takers, and horror stories are about managing fear while taking extreme risks, the kind that can often be deadly.

Spinner features a cast of teen characters with disabilities who have to solve a centuries-old mystery, as well as a string of murders quite possibly committed by one of them, all without the ability to read or write or, in Alex’s case, walk. Like gay kids and bullied kids, these characters face fear every day just by going to school where they know they will be mocked and ridiculed for being “different.” But being different doesn’t stop them from bonding together and risking their lives for each other. At the heart of any good horror story is friendship between characters who have to make life and death choices that the viewing audience, or the reader, hopes never to have to make in the real world. Horror teaches kids valuable lessons without being dogmatic or preachy. Some lessons are complex, like how the smallest choices can have the biggest consequences, while others are minor – like don’t go into a dark basement alone when you hear sounds down there.

Being a teen today shouldn’t be the equivalent of a horror film, but it sadly often is; reading a novel or watching a film can be cathartic and help kids survive by reminding them that the different one, the “odd kid out,” the bullied kid, the kid who thinks outside the box will be the last man standing. Within these fictional forays into terror, kids see how their true selves, the ones they hide from the world, are the ones that ultimately survive and save others along the way. In teen horror, “different” is the new “normal.”

SPINNER has been given the SEAL of APPROVAL from Literary Classics. It also won Honorable Mention in the Young Adult category from the San Francisco Book Awards and it won the Young Adult category in the Hollywood Book Awards. Kirkus Reviews says: "It will warm your heart and chill your spine." 

Source: sirlancesays.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/horror-and-adolescence
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text 2015-08-26 13:36
Girl drama update.

I was nice this morning. I gave the girls a ride to school. It is twin day at school, it's spirit week, they were dressed in these cute long skirts and black tops. The oldest wants to negotiate.  Lol, yep negotiate. There is nothing to negotiate. I take care of you, you cost a fortune, you do as I say, I am only looking out for your best interest. I miss them, but I need to know they respect my decisions. I have no problem if they challenge my decisions, but only if they do it in a respectful way and have a legitimate point to make. I have changed y mind on things in the past do to good out weighing the bad. Don't just pull the, "It's not fair." I don't care about fair, I care about safe, good judgment, respect, intelligence, etc. N.ot increasing social status. I will listen to her thoughts and take them seriously. 

 

 

 

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