Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Stop That Dinosaur! blog tour. First off, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Book Tours for organising this blog tour. They feature the best titles, and they work so hard …
Tag: blog tour
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. This release has been …
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 been working with them quite frequently this year and it has been a pleasure.
If you’ve been to one of my blog tour stops before you’ll know I always start by sharing the title and synopsis of the featured book before I share my thoughts on it, so let’s dive right in.
New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.
The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans…
Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.
Going in I only really knew that The Mall was about, well, a mall, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a tale of female empowerment, friendship and… Cabbage Patch Dolls?
Within a couple of chapters of this story Cassie’s Plan gets horrendously derailed when she is dumped by her boyfriend, Troy. Before she knows it she’s left her job at America’s Best Cookie to escape from him and has managed to find employment at Bellarosa, her ex-best friend’s family boutique.
Drea Bellarosa is a whirlwind, and she quickly gets Cassie tangled up in a legendary treasure hunt throughout the mall. Both believing that there’s a fortune to be had, the girls rely on their smarts and sexuality to coerce and con various other mall employees to cough up the clues concealed in their stores.
Meanwhile, Cassie seems to be adding a new name to the list of people she’s avoiding every single day. Will the girls be able to find the treasure before Cassie has to avoid the mall for the rest of her life?
While reading The Mall I felt simultaneously too young and too old to enjoy it properly, which is probably the most confusing feeling I’ve had while reading anything this year. Being born in the mid-90s means that although I understood most of the references in this novel (a few were lost in translation from US -> UK) I didn’t feel any overt sense of nostalgia towards them. It did start some pretty fun conversations between me and my partner, though: “Oh my god, do you remember when you could buy cassettes in shops?” “Did you ever watch the 90210 reboot?”. I think if I’d been a couple of years older this might have ended up being a new favourite, but as it was it just made me have a bit of an existential crisis at the fact that YA set in the 90s is now being bandied about as ‘historical’…
That being said, I had a pleasant time reading this. The pace was a bit slow at times and I got frustrated that the treasure hunt kept taking a backseat – I’m a sucker for a treasure hunt! – but I could understand why because Cassie was dealing with a LOT of stuff. Even though this story deals with a teen character going to work every day there is a distinct lack of mundanity.
I liked the developing relationship between Cassie and music store employee Sam Cooke – as a big music fan I always like it when characters bond over their music tastes – but the shining point of this story is the friendship between Drea and Cassie. On the surface they couldn’t be more different: Cassie is buttoned-up and serious while Drea is footloose and fancy free, but throughout the course of the novel we discover different sides of the two characters and they become very realistic. Just because you’re the firecracker daughter of a boutique owner it doesn’t mean you’re an airhead, and just because you’re a serious student it doesn’t mean you can’t live on the wild side (occasionally!).
I ended up giving The Mall a high three stars. As I said earlier, I do think it could have been a new favourite if I’d been a little bit older, so if you were born in the late 80s or very early 90s I’d definitely recommend picking this one up. On the other hand, it’s great for the teens of today: if you wish you’d been born in the era of Nirvana and Robin Sparkles is your favourite How I Met Your Mother character then you will adore this book.
The Mall is available now from Amazon.
Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of several novels, she’s best known for Sloppy Firsts and several more books in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series. Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.
I hope you enjoyed my stop on the blog tour for The Mall. 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 tour. Although this is a hard read which contains some difficult content it educated me on a topic I didn’t know much about, and I feel as though I learnt a lot during the course of this story.
Lex was taken – trafficked – and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again.
After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.
But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.
Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.
‘You can sell a pill once. You can sell a girl many times before she’s all used up.’
What Unbreakable Looks Like starts with a bang. We meet Poppy at the motel where she is being kept and sold by Mitch, the man who made her think he loved her and showered her with gifts so she felt as though she was in his debt. When the police raid the motel and find the girls they are taken to the hospital, where Poppy is reunited with her aunt Krys.
Krys and her husband Jamal are hoping to take Poppy home with them, so that she can beginning living her life as Lex once more. But the journey will not be an easy one, and Lex will need to want to stay clean and truly believe that she deserves better than the life Mitch dragged her into.
“This is how you survive. You sit the fuck down and give them the respect they deserve, and you make a promise to yourself that they didn’t die for nothing. You get mad, and you keep going. That’s how girls like us get even, how we say fuck you to the people who did this to us. We live.”
Kate McLaughlin does a wonderful job of exploring all of the different treatment options available to someone who has been in a situation like Lex. Not only is she taken to a rehab facility, where she undergoes group therapy and one-on-one appointments with a psychiatrist, but Lex also takes medication to help with her anxiety. I’m always a huge fan of books which don’t attempt to prescribe a one-size-fits-all treatment: mental health issues often need a combination of different treatments, especially for someone who has been through something as awful as Lex.
At the treatment centre we are introduced to a range of different characters, and one of the only reasons that I didn’t give this book five stars was because I really wanted some of these characters to be fleshed out a little more. Because Kate McLaughlin focuses so intensely on Lex’s recovery and she moves on from the rehabilitation centre quite quickly it felt like some of the side characters that we were introduced to were unnecessary, but there are a lot of people introduced very quickly and it’s hard to keep track of them all.
However, we also get introduced to a few of the other girls who lived and worked in the motel with Lex while she was still Poppy, and I thought those girls – Daisy and Ivy in particular – were extremely well fleshed out. The different ways that they react to being in such a heinous situation are very realistic and believable: it’s likely that some of the girls would rebel against Mitch more than others, and the dynamics between the girls are authentic. The flashbacks to the motel are quite sparse, but they’re very emotional – it’s impossible not to feel like weeping whenever you see Lex go through another ordeal at the hands of one of Mitch’s ‘customers’.
The sexual assault referenced in the blurb doesn’t happen until almost halfway through the novel, so I did have a constant sick feeling of dread churning in the bottom of my stomach knowing that Lex’s fresh start wasn’t going to be as happy as she had hoped. Her reaction to the assault was devastating, but the fact that she had friends and family around her to teach her that it was not okay that she had been put through that gave the story a feeling of optimism and hope. There are good people out there, it’s just sometimes hard to remember that – especially when you’ve been shown the bad side of people over and over again.
A big focus of the novel is on Lex developing a romantic relationship and learning to love on her own terms. Although I thought aspects of this were rushed, the overall handling of the matter is done very well.
There’s also a focus on justice, and the way that victims of sexual assault often worry about coming forward for fear of victim blaming. I have seen this tackled in a few YA novels in the past but don’t think any have managed to do it quite as well: Kate McLaughlin balances a mixture of supportive and outraged reactions, which is very true to life.
It sounds wrong to say that I thoroughly enjoyed What Unbreakable Looks Like, because it’s hard to enjoy a book focusing on a subject such as this, but I thought it was written well, had great character development and a very satisfying conclusion.
Kate McLaughlin likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken – people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she’s not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she’ll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats. She’s the author of What Unbreakable Looks Like.
You can find Kate on Twitter.
Thanks again to Wednesday Books for having me on this blog tour, and thank you for checking out my stop.
Have a wonderful day!
Hey everyone! I’m here today with my stop on The Enigma Game‘s blog tour, and I’m thrilled to be welcoming Elizabeth to share a wonderful guest post with you all. I hope you’re all keeping safe and well in these trying times, and that this post brings a bit of brightness to your day.
The Enigma Game is the newest novel in Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity universe. I’m yet to start the series (#shame) but I’ve been advised by someone who has read all of the books that it is best to read them in publication order, as there are cameos from previous characters and it makes it far more enjoyable if you already know them when they appear!
If you’d like to learn more about Elizabeth Wein’s previous novels, check out her Goodreads page: it’s probably the best way to decide for yourself whether you’re happy to read The Enigma Game without reading the other books in the universe first, or whether you want to read them in order like me.
If you’d like to learn more about The Enigma Game, however, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out a bit more about it:
Windyedge Airfield, Scotland. World War II.
Louisa Adair, newly orphaned and shunned for her mixed-race heritage, has come here to the edge of the world to look after an old lady with a dark past. Jamie Beaufort-Stuart is a flight lieutenant whose squadron is posted to the airfield over winter. Ellen McEwan is a young woman held hostage by the German pilot who lands at Windyedge one wild stormy night carrying a terrible secret.
Three young people desperate to make a difference in a war that has decimated their families, friends and country. When the means to change the course of history falls into their hands, how will they use it? And when the enemy comes looking for them, who will have the courage to strike back?
A thrilling story of wartime secrets, international intrigue and wild courage from the award-winning author of Code Name Verity, with three young heroes you’ll never forget.
Now I’ll pass you over to Elizabeth, who is here to share some thoughts on perception and belonging in The Enigma Game.
Living as a stranger in a strange land for most of my life, I’ve learned to make myself feel at home wherever I am. I am good at nesting. This is perhaps the quality that I most share with the main character of The Enigma Game, Louisa Adair. At fifteen, orphaned by bombs during the Battle of Britain, Louisa is determined to make a new life for herself using what’s available. The need to find work and support herself is a given, but what makes Louisa so relatable to me is the way she lines up her favourite books on the windowsill of an unfamiliar bedroom.
I think that my ability to make myself at home wherever I am has grown out of the feeling that I don’t entirely belong anywhere. My American accent makes me an alien at home in Scotland, and my European connections make me an alien in my native United States – even though I’m a citizen of both countries. Louisa has this same trouble. In 1940 her brown skin makes her instantly alien on British soil, but her polite English accent will distance her from her Jamaican family if she ever goes back to the Caribbean. Louisa will always have to live with never quite belonging anywhere.
I once said that I’m incapable of creating a straightforward villain, because as soon as I make one up he sprouts a daughter and a beautiful singing voice and a taste for underground literature (von Linden, the Gestapo interrogator in Code Name Verity). In fact, I’m incapable of creating any kind of straightforward character, because I’m always so interested in their backstories and their secrets.
So, in The Enigma Game, Louisa the transplanted Jamaican-born English girl gets work looking after a retired German opera singer who goes by the English alias Jane Warner. Neither one of them is exactly who she seems. In public, Jane hides her German origins, and Louisa hides behind her accent on the telephone. But they aren’t the only characters in the book who want to hide aspects of their identities. Ellen McEwen, who works at the local Royal Air Force base, hides her own Traveller heritage. When the bomber pilot Jamie gets tipped off about where to find his targets, he hides his source from his commanding officer. Elisabeth Lind, who turns up as a German interpreter, is carefully hiding her own connections to Jamie.
The Enigma Game‘s three different narrators, Louisa, Ellen, and Jamie, all have different points of view to bring to the story, and as a writer I’ve really enjoyed being able to play with the way the different characters perceive each other and their complex histories. My challenge, as the engineer of the story, is to make it feel as though these very different people really do belong together in the world of the novel – that their sense of belonging and connection is based, not on their heritage or in their location, but in their interactions with each other and with their community.
I think that’s true for me as well. It’s a pleasure to find readers who are eager to share my imaginings, helping me to broaden my own complicated community with a sense of belonging.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Elizabeth, for writing such a lovely post for us today, and to Faye for letting me take part in the blog tour for The Enigma Game. I’ve owned Code Name Verity for as long as I can remember and I don’t know why I keep putting off reading it, but this is definitely a series I’m going to be discovering sooner rather than later.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and I’ll see you soon!