The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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This book was phenomenal!

Initially, I was having trouble reading this book. I just finished another incredible book and was still hung up on that story. I did not want to read this book while facing book-hangover so I put it down for a while.

The first half of the story was fairly slow. The plot did not captivate me to the extent where I could not put the book down. Don’t get me wrong, the first half was a great introductory for the story but the second half is what made me love this book.

The characters in the story are well developed. You get to know all of the characters immensely. The character development that happens to Paige throughout the story is incredible. I love that she got her shit together and started to live her life. She is one of my favorite young adult characters. I love Max enormously. He is my idea of a perfect boyfriend. Max is adorable, nerdy, and funny!

All of the relationships that form in the story are fun to read about. The great thing about the story is that the relationships don’t feel rushed. Emery Lord knows how to form the bonds between the characters at a fantastic pace. The romance did not feel sloppy or pushed. Not to mention, the incredible girl friendship between Paige, Morgan, Tessa, and Kaitlyn. It was nice to read about a tightly bonded girl group that has not too much drama. Overall, the relationships were perfect!

The second half of the book was extremely captivating. I read the second part of the book during my history class, and I was freaking out the whole time. The plot appears to tie together tremendously and turned out glorious. I was close to tears as I finished the book. There were too many emotions to comprehend.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. The Start of Me and You will not only be enjoyable but will make you feel something. The theme of living your life to the fullest and not letting fear get in your way is incredible. I will definitely read more from Emery Lord.

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Andrew Hiller Interview

Back in December, I read and reviewed A Halo of Mushrooms by Andrew Hiller. We also decided that we would have an interview posted on my blog. However, the holidays came along and we both were busy so it took a little longer to get the interview done. But now, I can post it!

Interview With Andrew!

 

What is your book, A Halo of Mushrooms, about?

On the surface, it’s about a healer who steals one of the last withering mushrooms of the first faerie ring in the hopes to transplant it and restore wonder, magic, and wisdom to all the worlds connected to the ancient fungi. On a deeper level, it’s about scarcity and how we react when something necessary is dying or disappearing. To what lengths will we go to save it? Will we lose our humanity in trying to grab what little remains? How do you save a dying species?

What inspired you to write A Halo of Mushrooms?

While I was working in the newsroom, I kept being assigned to report on stories about drought, cities going bankrupt, species decline, and other frustrating subjects. It seemed to me that we were seeing a lot of decline (economic and environmental) all at once… not just in one localized spot, but in unconnected places all around the world. The story emerged from that observation and then merged with other thoughts.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I went through several titles actually. I initially was just going to call it “The Bald Mushroom” which seemed pretty cool to me, but I worried that no one would have a clue what that meant. Also, my friends hated it as a title.

I liked the idea of a halo because of its several meanings: A halo of light, an angelic symbol, a protection, etc.

Which character(s) can you relate to most in the novel?

I think it’s important to relate to everyone you write about. People say, “Write what you know,” I’ve never bought into that… I prefer “Write what you understand” or “Write what you are curious about?” After all, when we write we are often exploring a why… Why do people act the way they do? Why did events or history unfold the way it did< Why does an object in nature respond to stimuli in the way it does?

Who was the hardest character to write about in your book and why?

I guess the hardest character was Jacob, Lara’s boyfriend. Jacob became an offstage character. We never get to meet him. He never gets to defend himself. His actions are always interpreted by others. Yet in several ways, he still is a major catalyst in the story. How then to write this invisible character and make him human and not a cardboard cutout, wall decoration, or a plot device?

Characters like Jacob are not unusual in the real world. All of us feel the weight of people who are not there. People whose influence lingers long after they leave the room or our lives.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Creation. I love the flow of ideas and exploring. I love learning and discovery. To get lost in texture, sound, color, and emotion is a blast.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, when and how did you realize you wanted to become one?

I think I always wanted to be a storyteller. I sold my first painting at 14 and my first poem a year later. I’ve gotten to report for NPR, be published in the Washington Post, and see my plays live on the New York stage. Writing is key to that, but I think telling stories, whether true or made up, is what it’s all about.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Good question. I’ve been told I do, but I’m not hyper conscious about it. I tend not to outline much and trust that I can refine what I need to through the editing process. I believe in my audience and readers (perhaps sometimes too much.) I hate dumbing things down. So, I may leave a few things unexplained hoping that the reader will puzzle them out or fill in the story through the lens of their experience and philosophy.

What advice do you have to give to new authors or people who want to become authors?

Dream. Write. Dare. Think of a rough draft as a place to play. Just put everything in there and then start pulling back what works and what ideas are the ones that really sing to you. Don’t follow trends because unless you are really quick by the time you finish your story, it gets through a publisher’s slush pile the trend is over. More importantly, if you follow a trend… the story you write will not be yours. It’ll just be what you think someone wants to hear. Write instead about what interests you, excites you, and scares you. Also, don’t be afraid to make your heroes miserable… they’ll thank you in the end especially if they win out.

What would you like to say to your readers?

Thank you for bringing our stories to life. Without the reader, without someone to listen, our stories fade. Also, let a writer know what you think! We often put our work out there and never know if it brings about a smile, a sigh, a tear, or if it causes raging boredom! Many of us love to interact with readers. I know I do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about A Halo of Mushrooms or any of my other work.

Discussion Post: My Opinion on Not Finishing Books

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I feel embarrassed for starting this late but after less than a year of blogging, I finally decided to write discussion posts! I do not know why I had waited this long to write one. However, I am excited to make my blog more than reviews, interviews, street teams, and the occasional Top Ten Tuesday.

There’s a popular topic among readers that is about whether it is acceptable to not finish a book. The debate focuses on whether you should stick-it-out or move on to a new book because life is too short to read bad books. Though both sides make interesting points, I am going to voice my opinion.

In my opinion, whether you finish or don’t finish a book depends on the situation. Are you reading the book for business or pleasure? Is the book interesting but isn’t something you want to read at the moment? Did you enjoy the story but are preoccupied with other books?

I only neglect to finish a book if I am reading for pleasure. If I do not enjoy a story then I will not finish it. After all, how is it reading for pleasure if you do not enjoy the book? Also, I will take breaks from a book if I am busy reading books that I was given by authors and publishers. Finally, I will take a break from books if I do not want to read the story at a certain time.

However, I will finish a book if a publisher and authors send them to me. No matter how much I dislike the book, if an author uses their own money to send me a book, I owe them a review. It takes a lot for an author to give you books, it is rude for you to not finish it. However, there are exceptions for authors that request you to not give their book a review if it is less than three stars.

Overall, the only reason you should force yourself to finish a book that you do not favor is if it was sent to you for free. In the end, if you are reading a book for pleasure then you can finish it or not finish. Life is too short to read bad books.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

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My overall opinion of this book was disappointed. If you gave me I Was Here without telling me who the author was then I would have no idea that it was Gayle Forman. In fact, I would never guess it was her book in a million years because this was not the Gayle Forman that I have grown to know and enjoy. This book lacked Gayle Forman’s passion and talent. I Was Here did not obtain the ability to make you feel the emotions that the characters are undergoing. In the end, I was not impacted by this book whatsoever.

I loved If I Stay and Where She Went. In fact, those books were what got in to enjoying young adult books. However, I Was Here was not the same. I Was Here was a book touching base on the topic of suicide. Throughout the story, Meg’s best friend, Cody is desperate to find out why Meg killed herself. Cody goes to dangerously extreme extents to find answers. As we follow Cody’s search, we meet many people who knew Meg that may have answers. With many road trips, plot twists, interesting facts about suicide, and intriguing characters, what’s not to love? Well, I will tell you.

First, the plot. The story moves at an extremely slow pace, especially in the beginning. We spend a few chapters just on Meg’s funeral and vigils. However, the pace quickens a little throughout the middle and end.

The story begins after Meg killed herself so you have no feelings towards Meg. The problem with killing an important character prior to the start of the book is that we had no idea what she was like. Unfortunately, flashbacks do not shed enough light on her character for me to feel real sympathy. So, Meg’s character remained flat throughout the whole story.

The romance in the story felt unnecessary. I understand why Gayle Forman did it. It made Ben kind of like the ‘bad guy turns good and ends up with the girl’ character. However, I felt no connection between Cody and Ben. Overall, the romance lost me.

The characters were all great besides Cody. Oh, Cody. How much I despised her character. Cody was the know-it-all character who judged every other character. Not only was she judgmental, she was also a horrible person in general. She told her best friend’s parents that she would not write a eulogy for their dead daughter as if she was the only person in pain. Not only that, she made everything about her and her problems. Finally, she was psycho. *SPOILER* She pretended to be suicidal so she could stalk the person she claimed killed Meg (even though no one could kill Meg, it was her own decision) and confront him. How crazy can you be that you would go to a strangers house, walk inside their house, and freak out at them? HE COULD BE A CRIMINAL!! *SPOILER OVER*

Overall, this book was a flop. I hope Gayle Forman’s next book is better because I really do love her writing style.

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

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**I received this book through Sunday Street Team**

First off, the cover! Ashamedly, I do tend to judge books based on their covers and this book’s cover was as gorgeous as the story. The cover is one of my all time favorites!

The overall story was extremely captivating. I was always eager to turn the next page. Since I am a sucker for a captivating story that was fast paced and had everything that makes YA great, this book was my cup of tea!

The characters in the story were fascinating to read about! I loved Natalie. She is a refreshing and unique character. I, also, LOVED Beau! He was impossible not to like! The characters’ relationships were another thing to enjoy. The relationships were formed well and had depth.

Overall, this was a touching, incredible, and promising debut for Emily Henry. I am extremely hopeful to see her progress as an author!