Hi there, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Megan McCafferty’s The Mall! First things first I’d like to say a huge thank you to the folks over at Wednesday Books for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. I’ve…
Tag: blog tour
Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Mayhem blog tour!
First things first I’d like to say a huge thank you to Sarah from Wednesday Books for getting me involved in this blog tour. I really enjoyed Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light when I read it back in 2016, and I jumped at the chance to be able to read her newest release.
I’ve got a great excerpt of Mayhem to share with you, but first I’m going to tell you a little bit about the book.
The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.
It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe is has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.
But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.
But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.
From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to read Mayhem, keep scrolling to check out an excerpt of the book.
“Trouble,” Roxy says. She arches a brow at the kids by the van through the bug-spattered windshield, the ghost of a half-smile rippling across her face.
“You would know,” I shoot.
“So would you,” she snaps.
Maybe we’re a little on edge. We’ve been in the car so long the pattern on the vinyl seats is tattooed on the back of my thighs.
The kids my mother is talking about, the ones sitting on the white picket fence, look like they slithered up the hill out of the ocean, covered in seaweed, like the carnival music we heard coming from the boardwalk as we were driving into town plays in the air around them at all times. Two crows are on the posts beside them like they’re standing guard, and they caw at each other loudly as we come to a stop. I love everything about this place immediately and I think, ridiculously, that I am no longer alone.
The older girl, white but tan, curvaceous, and lean, has her arms around the boy and is lovely with her smudged eye makeup and her ripped clothes. The younger one pops something made of bright colors into her mouth and watches us come up the drive. She is in a military-style jacket with a ton of buttons, her frizzy blond hair reaching in all directions, freckles slapped across her cheeks. And the boy? Thin, brown, hungry-looking. Not hungry in his stomach. Hungry with his eyes. He has a green bandana tied across his forehead and holes in the knees of his jeans. There’s an A in a circle drawn in marker across the front of his T-shirt.
“Look!” Roxy points to the gas gauge. It’s just above the E. “You owe me five bucks, Cookie. I told you to trust we would make it, and see what happened? You should listen to your mama every once in a while.”
“Yeah, well, can I borrow the five bucks to pay you for the bet? I’m fresh out of cash at the moment.”
Roxy cranes out the window and wipes the sweat off her upper lip, careful not to smudge her red lipstick. She’s been having real bad aches the last two days, even aside from her bruises, and her appetite’s been worse than ever. The only thing she ever wants is sugar. After having been in the car for so long, you’d think we’d be falling all over each other to get out, but we’re still sitting in the car. In here we’re still us.
She sighs for the thousandth time and clutches at her belly. “I don’t know about this, May.”
California can’t be that different from West Texas.
I watch TV. I know how to say gag me with a spoon and grody to the max.
I fling open the door.
Roxy gathers her cigarettes and lighter, and drops them inside her purse with a snap.
“Goddammit, Elle,” she mutters to herself, eyes flickering towards the kids again. Roxy looks at me over the rims of her sunglasses before shoving them back on her nose. “Mayhem, I’m counting on you to keep your head together here. Those kids are not the usual-“
“I know. You told me they’re foster kids.”
“No, not that,” she says, but doesn’t clarify.
“Okay, I guess.”
“I mean it. No more of that wild-child business.”
“I will keep my head together!” I’m so tired of her saying this. I never had any friends, never a boyfriend – all I have is what Grandmother calls my nasty mouth and the hair Lyle always said was ugly and whorish. And once or twice I might’ve got drunk on the roof, but it’s not like I ever did anything. Besides, no kid my age has ever liked me even once. I’m not the wild child in the family.
“Well, all right then.” Roxy messes with her hair in the rear-view mirror, then sprays herself with a cloud of Chanel No. 5 and runs her fingers over her gold necklace. It’s of a bird, not unlike the ones making a fuss by the house. She’s had it as long as I can remember, and over time it’s been worn smooth by her worrying fingers. It’s like she uses it to calm herself when she’s upset about something, and she’s been upset the whole way here, practically. Usually, she’d be good and buzzed by this time of day, but since she’s had to drive some, she’s only nipped from the tiny bottle of wine in her purse a few times and only taken a couple pills since we left Taylor. The withdrawal has turned her into a bit of a she-demon.
I try to look through her eyes, to see what she sees. Roxy hasn’t been back here since I was three years old, and in that time, her mother has died, her father has died, and like she said when she got the card with the picture enclosed that her twin sister, Elle, sent last Christmas, Everybody got old. After that, she spent a lot of time staring in the mirror, pinching at her neck skin. When I was younger, she passed long nights telling me about Santa Maria and the Brayburn Farm, about how it was good and evil in equal measure, about how it had desires that had to be satisfied.
Brayburns, she would say. In my town, we were the legends.
These were the mumbled stories of my childhood, and they made everything about this place loom large. Now that we’re here, I realize I expected the house to have a gaping maw filled with spitty, frothy teeth, as much as I figured there would be fairies flitting around with wands grating wishes. I don’t want to take her vision away from her, but this place looks pretty normal to me, if run-down compared to our new house in Taylor, where there’s no dust anywhere, ever, and Lyle practically keeps the cans of soup in alphabetical order. Maybe what’s not so normal is that this place was built by Brayburns, and here Brayburns matter. I know because the whole road is named after us and because flowers and ribbons and baskets of fruit sat at the entrance, gifts from the people in town, Roxy said. They leave offerings. She said it like it’s normal to be treated like some kind of low-rent goddess.
Other than the van and the kids, there are trees here, rosebushes, an old black Mercedes, and some bikes leaning against the porch that’s attached to the house. It’s splashed with fresh white paint that doesn’t quite cover up its wrinkles and scars. It’s three stories, so it cuts the sunset when I look up, and plants drape down to touch the dirt.
The front door swings open and a woman in bare feet races past the rosebushes toward us. It is those feet and the reckless way they pound against the earth that tells me this is my aunt Elle before her face does. My stomach gallops and there are bumps all over my arms, and I am more awake than I’ve been since.
I thought Roxy might do a lot of things when she saw her twin sister. Like she might get super quiet or chain-smoke, or maybe even get biting like she can when she’s feeling wrong about something. The last thing I would have ever imagined was them running toward each other and colliding in the driveway, Roxy wrapping her legs around Elle’s waist, and them twirling like that.
This seems like something I shouldn’t be seeing, something wounded and private that fills up my throat. I flip myself around in my seat and start picking through the things we brought and chide myself yet again for the miserable packing job I did. Since I was basically out of my mind trying to get out of the house, I took a whole package of toothbrushes, an armful of books, my River Phoenix poster, plus I emptied out my underwear drawer, but I totally forgot to pack any shoes, so all I have are some flip-flops I bought at the truck stop outside of Las Cruces after that man came to the window, slurring, You got nice legs. Tap, tap tap. You got such nice legs.
My flip-flops are covered in Cheeto dust from a bag that got upended. I slip them on anyway, watching Roxy take her sunglasses off and prop them on her head.
“Son of a bitch!” my aunt says, her voice tinny as she catches sight of Roxy’s eye. “Oh my God, that’s really bad, Rox. You made it sound like nothing. That’s not nothing.”
“Ellie,” Roxy says, trying to put laughter in her voice. “I’m here now. We’re here now.”
There’s a pause.
“You look the same,” Elle says. “Except the hair. You went full Marilyn Monroe.”
“What about you?” Roxy says, fussing at her platinum waves with her palm. “You go full granola warrior? When’s the last time you ate a burger?”
“You know I don’t do that. It’s no good for us. Definitely no good for the poor cows.”
“It’s fine for me.” Roxy lifts Elle’s arm and puckers her nose. “What’s going on with your armpits? May not eat meat but you got animals under there, looks like.”
“Shaving is subjugation.”
“Shaving is a mercy for all mankind.”
They erupt into laughter and hug each other again.
“Well, where is she, my little baby niece?” Elle swings the car door open. “Oh, Mayhem.” She scoops me out with two strong arms. Right then I realize just how truly tired I am. She seems to know, squeezes extra hard for a second before letting me go. She smells like the sandalwood soap Roxy buys sometimes. “My baby girl,” Elle says, “you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to see you. How much I’ve missed you.”
Roxy circles her ear with a finger where Elle can’t see her.
Crazy, she mouths. I almost giggle.
I don’t know about you but that excerpt gives me a lot of questions, and I can’t wait to see how Estelle Laure answers them. You’ll have to check back in a week or so to read my review of Mayhem and see what I thought of it – I’m certainly excited to find out myself!
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Mayhem, it’s available via Amazon now.
Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.
Thank you for visiting my stop on the Mayhem blog tour. See you again soon!
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like. First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Meghan from Wednesday Books for reaching out and inviting me to take part in this blog…
Hey everyone! I am so excited to be welcoming you to the blog today for my stop on the Again Again blog tour. This is actually the first E. Lockhart book I’ve ever finished – I know, why have I been sleeping on her?! – and I was pretty blown away by how creative this novel is.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Again Again a bit further down, but first I’ll share some more information about the book itself in case you’re yet to hear about this new release.
In this novel full of surprises from the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self discovery and possibility.
When Adelaide Buchwald’s younger brother succumbs to a drug overdose, she saves his life. In the aftermath, looking for distraction, she becomes a stylish, bright charmer who blows off school and falls madly in love – even though her heart is shattered.
Adelaide is catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times while fully confronting her brother, their history, and her own strength.
A raw and funny story that will surprise you over and over, Adelaide is an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.
When I first heard people talking about Again Again, it sounded like it was going to be a Sliding Doors-esque YA novel with some Groundhog Day vibes, and my interested was piqued. I was hoping to discover something similar to Justin A. Reynold’s Opposite of Always, which was one of my favourite releases of last year, so it’s safe to say that my expectations were high.
The multiverses come into play very quickly: Adelaide is walking five dogs at the dog run in the local park where she meets Jack. This encounter plays out in a few different ways, jumping back to a specific point and running slightly differently each time. In one world Adelaide accidentally offends Jack, cutting their friendship extremely short, while in another they begin falling in love as soon as they meet.
I was reading an eARC of this book via NetGalley, and to start with I did think it was a formatting issue because it happens so suddenly. All of a sudden the characters are repeating themselves and you’ve got a horrible case of deja vu, before you realise ‘ohh, that’s the whole point!’. I don’t know how I expected the multiverses to play out – possibly in alternate chapters, jumping from one sequence of events to another – but this really did pull me up short, and I had question marks popping up around my head for the first few occurrences. I’m not sure if this is the case in the physical copy, but I’m not sure I read this one in the easiest format!
That being said, once I got my head around the abrupt nature of the multiverses I found myself very absorbed in this story. Because the timeline keeps changing and the previous events are linking up with the current events, you have to concentrate very hard: there’s no chance to put your brain on autopilot and speed read, because you need to try and work out ‘wait, is this the version of Jack and Adelaide who kissed in the bathroom or went and hung out on the hammock?!’. I’m still not completely sure I’ve managed to unravel it all perfectly, but it was a lot of fun to think you were with a Jack and Adelaide who had one version of their history only for them to reference something else which had played out earlier on.
This is a very short story, coming it at under 300 pages, but the themes that it tackles are really powerful. Adelaide’s brother Toby has recently come out of rehab, having been addicted to drugs since he was fourteen. His addiction has a huge impact on who Adelaide is as a person, and this is played with cleverly by exploring a few multiverses surrounding Toby, too. The portrayal of his addiction is painfully realistic, and shows the impact it has on the entire family. There’s also an in-depth exploration of first love and loss and the effect that both of those can have.
This is a book which makes you wonder ‘What if?’. With such simple alterations sparking huge changes in the events which occur, this is the butterfly effect in action, and although it can be a bit startling at first it is very cleverly written. I would absolutely love to see Again Again get the adaptation treatment, because I think this would be extremely effective on the screen: it would be far easier to keep track of everything, that’s for sure!
It’s hard to rate this book after a first read, because I think this is a title which I’d get a lot out of rereading, but I eventually settled on giving it 4 stars (rounded up from 3.5!). There are some aspects which I really wanted E. Lockhart to explore more thoroughly, only for that multiverse to be dropped and for the story to shoot off in another direction, but considering the limitations of the written word it’s impressive that she’s managed to convey a story like this so wonderfully and with the minimum possible amount of confusion.
If you’d like to learn more about Again Again, check it out on Goodreads. Alternatively, if you’d like to order a copy you’re in luck: it’s release day today! Again Again is available through both Amazon and Hive.
E. Lockhart is the author of many novels including the bestselling We Were Liars, a New York Times bestseller, and Genuine Fraud; also The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel; Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Life Boyfriends. She co-authored How to Be Bad with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski. Her latest book is Again Again.
Thank you for checking out my stop on the Again Again blog tour! I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye for organising this blog tour and having me along – it’s such a huge honour to get to work with an author like E. Lockhart. Wow.
See you soon!
Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on The Codes of Love blog tour. It means an awful lot to me that you’re checking out this post – considering the state of the world at the moment I’m sure you have far more important things to do – so I just wanted to say a huge thank you for visiting. I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and your family and are staying safe in this pandemic.
As always, I’m going to share a little bit about the book first, then I’ll share my spoiler-free thoughts before letting you read an excerpt to make up your mind for yourself.
Ryan and Emily appear to have it all, successful jobs, a beautiful house and the secret to a happy marriage. A secret that involves certain ‘rules’. But beneath the surface trouble is brewing in the shape of Ada. Whimsical, high-spirited and beholden to no-one, she represents the freedom that Emily’s been striving for and the escape that Ryan didn’t know he wanted.
The Codes of Love isn’t the kind of book I normally pick up so I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone for this one, but I’m glad to say it paid off!
As soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure whether to expect literary fiction or a domestic thriller, but it ended up being an artfully weaved blend of the two. The writing definitely leans towards literary fiction – there are some very unique turns of phrase which I haven’t encountered before, and the writing flows in a very musical way – but there are some scenes set at night in the Welsh countryside that had my heart racing for no particular reason. Hannah Persaud is already a master at crafting atmosphere, despite the fact that this is her debut novel.
Ryan and Emily have an open marriage, but we quickly learn that it’s not the mutual agreement that it first seems. With each chapter giving us a different rule that their marriage follows, the reader is quickly whisked through the pros and cons of an open marriage, and they aren’t always exactly what you’d expect.
I struggled at times because this story is written in the third person present tense, which is one of my least favourite writing styles, and it made it a little bit difficult to follow some of the flashbacks. It helped that the start of the chapter told you where and when the next few pages were set, but the non-chronological way that the story played out had me flipping backwards and forwards at points, desperately trying to reacquaint myself with when and where we were.
That being said, I think it actually added to my investment in the story. I was trying so hard to figure out the timeline that I had it all very fleshed out in my mind, and despite the fact that I didn’t particularly like either of the main characters – they can both be horrible people, so I don’t think this is a hot take! – I found myself very interested in what was going to happen to them and how the story was going to end. It took me a few days to read the first half of the book but I flew through the second half in a couple of hours because the pacing picks up dramatically.
I did only end up giving The Codes of Love three stars, but considering there were a lot of things in there that would automatically put me off of a book that rating is much higher than I had anticipated. I’m certainly glad that I tried something new, and Hannah Persaud is an author who I’m going to keep a close eye on in the future.
If you’re feeling conflicted about whether to pick up The Codes of Love or not, see how you feel after reading this excerpt:
‘She needs a coffee. From the kitchen she can see snowdrops hunching in the corners of the garden. Spring is arriving, though the ground is still frozen in the mornings. Last week she came off her bike, didn’t see the black ice until it was too late. She was lucky, thirty miles an hour downhill and she skidded on a bend, spinning into the opposite lane. She picked herself up shakily and looked up to see the driver of the car she narrowly avoided standing over her. Embarrassed, she refused the offer of a hand and stood, trying hard to pretend that the world was not ebbing around her. Her helmet was cracked and her left thigh is still purple from hip to knee, but it’s nothing compared to what it could have been.
At night she wears leggings when she sleeps; she doesn’t want to give Ryan cause for concern, or worse, another lecture on responsibility. He already thinks her reckless, biking too fast, braking too little. He’s away much of the time, but when he’s home she finds herself tiptoeing around him. How quickly their home has become a storage place for secrets. Better this than an argument though, the inevitable descent into blame. When he returned from Plymouth she asked him how his hotel was, the one he hadn’t stayed at. ‘Fine,’ he’d answered, disappearing into his office. He still doesn’t know about the issue with Leo. She is glad now that she didn’t tell him while they were in Venice. The growing chasm between them has made a liar of her when she checks her email and takes calls from her boss. This is how a relationship erodes, layer by layer, like rust.’
If that doesn’t convince you to pick up The Codes of Love, I don’t know what will. There are so many intriguing plotlines and this excerpt touches on just a few of them. I dare you to be able to resist finding out what ‘the issue with Leo’ is!
I hope you enjoyed my stop on The Codes of Love blog tour. A huge thank you to Fiona from Muswell Press for getting me involved. If you’re interested in checking out any of the other stops on the blog tour, please visit the other bloggers mentioned in the header, and if you’re excited to read The Codes of Love feel free to contact Hannah Persaud on Twitter.
Thank you all for visiting, and I’ll see you soon,