Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway | All The Rage by Courtney Summers

All The Rage by Courtney Summers
Publish Date: April 14, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon 

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

All The Rage by Courtney Summers

My ThoughtsWhen I was a senior in high school, I wore a pale-colored dress one day. Pale-colored meant very specific underclothes, nude-colored was a *gasp* big deal for me, because modesty and all. I felt pretty when I wore these things, which is huge for girls, ya know? So I'm in class, I bend over to grab something from the floor, I hear two guy friends not-whispering about being able to see up some poor girl's skirt, then a derogatory statement about how gross it probably was up there, followed by some other awful words. My heart broke for that poor girl, I was embarrassed for her. I soon found out that they were talking about me and no words can describe the humiliation I felt, still feel. I wanted to die right there in front of everyone. I wanted to be invisible. My friends were humiliated for me. NOTHING could have made it better. These guys were my friends...I thought? And I was so, so embarrassed. And I suddenly didn't feel pretty anymore; I wanted to go home and stay there.

At school the next day, I discovered that one of my sweet friends did what she thought was best and reported this as sexual harrassment. This was serious. Meetings, counselors, all of that - alone and as a group of three - me + the two guys. Devastating. Humiliating. In front of teachers I respected, I had to repeat the words that I'd heard spoken while it was denied, over and over. In the hallways, at lunch, nobody wanted to be friends anymore because why would they when I was ruining the senior years of these two athletic, well-liked people that were just joking around? I didn't ask for those words, I didn't ask for the report to be made, I didn't ask for those counseling sessions. Teachers were uncomfortable doing it, the principal was uncomfortable. I wanted to be invisible. I remember almost nothing from my senior year except for this. 

I tell you this story, world, because it is a very small fraction of what main character Romy Grey went through. I have not experienced a physical issue like rape as Romy has. I am so thankful for this, and I'm not comparing myself to Romy Grey's situation in the story. But I have lived through some of the bullying and teasing and pranking because of a situation that sits somewhere on this spectrum, and I would never wish these things on anyone. Romy's situation is so, so much more dire and complicated, it made much more of an impact on her life (and others, gosh). It is so very frightening to think that it is happening out there right now, while I type these words. It makes me angry. It makes me RAGE. 


Romy Grey was raped -- this is something that happens early in the book and is not a spoiler. Nothing too detailed early on, really, but we certainly know that it is happening. And that Romy doesn't want it. And that she is being forced. The resulting scenes, the aftermath of what happens are just so much. There is so much there. Romy deals with finding herself in a poor position afterward, she deals with negative thoughts about herself and her self worth and also how she sees herself literally, like actually when she looks in a mirror. Romy thinks of herself as dead now, Romy is mistreated by so many and overlooked by others...because the news of her rape was broken to the town by someone other than her. Romy probably wouldn't have even told, if the truth is told. She just wants to hide. To be invisible and unseen. Since the news came out, and due to the way it came out, she isn't taken seriously and people think she is lying. Why, why are people choosing not to believe her? Why are there no charges? Why is nothing being investigated? Because the accused is the son of the Sheriff and well, that's how it is sometimes in small towns. Sometimes crimes just poof! go away. 

This IS how it is sometimes in small towns, world. I've seen this exact thing.

I think that Romy represents every girl. She is so round and full as a character that I forgot sometimes that she wasn't right in front of my face so I could talked to her. I mean, I talked to my Kindle while I was reading a couple of times. I cried for her more than once, and I touched words on the screen of my Kindle out of just feelings. Compassion. Wanting to do something from righteous rage and also just oh-my-god-can-somebody-just-look-at-this-girl. Romy represents the times when society fails, when strong girls fall through the cracks, when we can help but don't. 

I say strong girls because dammit, I believe that GIRLS ARE STRONG. And I say we, because dammit, I mean WE. 

There are a mixture of likable and unlikable characters in this book and they are perfectly placed within these pages. The unlikable ones showed me the ways that Romy is brushed aside. They made me so mad, and I relished that anger. I let it wash me over as I read this book. The likable ones made me feel like Romy has people in her life that do love her and want what is best for her and even still, this young girl is grieving and going through something that is difficult to touch and hold onto and admit and voice to other people. Romy is a very likable character, but I can see that she is one that needs a boost. She is strong because she continued to walk through that town and through the halls of her school even with the negativity and spite and adversity, yet I read every line of her vulnerability. I cannot imagine the difficulty behind something awful like a rape happening, no one believing you, and then the self-doubt. Romy showed me this. The telling yourself that maybe it didn't happen exactly like you think because you hear people calling you a liar. Romy showed me this. Those empty spaces in Romy's memory during the time of the incident? So frightening. Even as I wanted her to open up a little more and talk to people so she could begin to heal, I understand and felt compassion when she just couldn't, she just could not. 

The scenes with Romy having difficulty wearing a the prettier bra because what if something happens while she is wearing that one instead of the ugly one? My heart. The scenes when she slowly, slowly allowed herself to open up to Leon, the boy she worked with and kind-of liked, because he stopped kissing her when she said stop - something so simple? My heart. So delicate, these things, and so impactful. And then all of the bullying. And then more things happen to this girl. I could go on and on about All The Rage, and all of it praises for a difficult story, well-told.

A difficult story, yes. But there is hope in these pages, friends. There is a message of hope at the end of the raging and hurt. All The Rage by Courtney Summers is not an easy one to make it through, but that's what is so beautifully wonderful about it. This book is out there, first of all, for young girls that might need it. No, young boys and girls. That is important. High-fives to you, Courtney Summers, because this is something worthy and important and I'm grateful to have this title in-my-know to tell people about, to push, for what that is worth. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, the young adults that will be reading this book. Let's not forget this. 

But see, it's also now available to those of us that are raising young girls, for educators and for counselors and for anyone that ever, ever, ever comes in contact with young girls. I don't think it's cool to turn a blind eye to these situations because they're real and they happen - that's like denying they exist, I think maybe. So here's a book that is available that is so unbelievably palpable and real, why not read the heck out of it and see what it's like to be in those shoes - that way if we are EVER in the position to help someone like Romy, if we are ever that lucky as to make that kind of difference, we will 1) have an inkling of empathy and 2) be able to hand them a book so they won't feel alone. A really, really good book. 

I feel passionate about books like these, like All The Rage. I feel like this is something important, you guys. Books like All The Rage by Courtney Summers - we can't have too many of them. It takes someone that also feels strongly about girls having a voice to write something as eloquent and yet as white-knuckle as this one, and I highly, highly recommend this one to everyone. EVERYONE. I read this book both as a YA-contemporary lover and as a parent, and both sides of my reading-self sing high praises. 

My gosh, this book did not disappoint. I felt every single emotion possible, and every one made me cry. That isn't surprising either, because I'm an emotional reader that is given to crying. But the RAGE that I felt while I was reading is the driving force that propelled me to keep going and not look away, don't look away, keep going. Because I think that so many times, when junk like this happens, people just look away and there are so many strong girls out there that can be even stronger if we look and listen and engage and speak to them and have dialogue. A world full of even stronger girls, you guys. 

Read All The Rage by Courtney Summers, and then tell someone else about it. Tell two people. Then tell them to do the same.


All The Rage will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary with Realistic Fiction
Issues: Rape, Bullying
Romance: Some, very light. No Triangle. 
Fans of Courtney Summers

All The Rage by Courtney Summers
is currently available for purchase.


COURTNEY SUMMERS was born in Belleville, Ontario in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. To date, she has authored five novels. Her first novel, Cracked Up to Be, was published when she was 22 and went on to win the 2009 CYBIL award in YA fiction. Since then, she’s published three more books–2011 YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick and White Pine Honour book, Some Girls Are, 2012 YALSA Quick Pick, Fall for Anything, and 2013 YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick and White Pine Honour book This is Not a Test. Her next projects are an e-novella, Please Remain Calm (a sequel to This is Not a Test) and a new novel, All the Rage, both out in 2015. 

Find Courtney Summers: Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Tumblr


Courtney Summers is instant-read for me. 

I'm working slowly through her backlist because her 
books are some of my absolute favorites. 
This is SO FAR at the top of that list - 
it may be at the top of my 2015. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review | Last To Know by Micalea Smeltzer

Last To Know by Micalea Smeltzer
Series: Willow Creek #1
Publish Date: February 7, 2015
Source: Bought (Currently FREE at both Amazon & B&N) 
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

He was just a boy. 
And I was just a girl. 
But if that’s all there was to the story it wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? 

Up and coming band Willow Creek is back in their hometown for the summer. For the drummer, Maddox Wade, this summer was meant for writing music and playing gigs. 

Falling in love was not part of the plan. 

One look at Emma Burke and those plans cease to matter. 

Emma is quiet and guarded. She’s still hurt from her father walking out two years ago. She doesn’t want to trust Maddox, but with his dark hair, smoldering good looks, and infectious smile he’s impossible to resist. 

Together Maddox and Emma embark on an unforgettable summer of adventures and first love. 
Everything is perfect…or so Emma thinks. 

There are things she doesn’t know, and when she finds out the truth it might shatter everything she’s built with Maddox. 

No one said love was easy, and for Maddox and Emma it just might be impossible. 
  (excerpt from Goodreads) 

Last To Know by Micalea Smeltzer

My Thoughts:  I one-clicked Last To Know by Micalea Smeltzer for my Kindle because this book happened to be free when I was browsing and sounded like a fun story - first love, summer love, adventures, music. Willow Creek's Drummer, Maddox Wade, runs into the lovely-and-introverted Emma Burke one day after performing a show. He is drawn to her because she is beautiful but also because she has no idea who he is. While the rest of the country seems to be head-over-heels crazy over Willow Creek's emerging success, Emma prefers to listen to classical music and read. Maddox loves that he can sit and talk to her and just be himself, and Emma finds that the attraction is mutual. The two strike up a sweet, slow relationship that I found enjoyable to read. 
Maddox does not disclose that he is famous. As time passes, it becomes harder and harder to tell her because she has no idea who he is - she doesn't listen to Willow Creek or any radio-music for that matter. Maddox knows he needs to tell her, but he also knows that she loves him for who he is, not his fame.
Maddox promises Emma an adventurous summer. He plans fun things to do, he encourages her to try new things like zip-lining, etc. She has a blast spending time with him and finds herself slowly falling for him. He has some odd behaviors here and there, like the way he seems to wear his hat pulled down low over his eyes when when in public and the way he seems to sometimes want to say something, but backs out at the last minute - Emma thinks that he may be keeping a secret, but she chooses to trust him, thinking that if there is something that she needs to know he will tell her. 

The relationship grows, the two fall in love, it is lovely. I love the things about Emma that are uniquely her: the way she just doesn't care about television and social media, the way she is bookish but not overly-so like some written characters, the way that she still has that youthful naivete that comes with being on the very line between young person and womanhood. I love that she is both confident and a little insecure, but not too much. And Maddox: I loved that he is still a young person too, and acts like it. He respects his parents, but still acts like a teenage boy - his banter and joking around are on point, I think. He is respectful to Emma, which is super-swoony to me. And he has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that he allows Emma and his close friends to see - I love this about male characters, particularly when they are strong characters. We all make mistakes. 

So --

As readers, we know it is inevitable: the secret is going to come out - but how will it happen? How will Emma find out that her boyfriend is famous? How will she find out that YES INDEED he has been keeping a secret? And what are his reasons for that, exactly? Can she forgive him? Will they get their happily-ever-after? 

Of course, I figured out before Emma did that Maddox was in the band Willow Creek. Of course, she was hurt by this secret. BUT! As with most of these stories involving the keeping-my-identity-a-secret-because-I'm-famous storyline, Maddox had a reason for keeping his secret -- the intentions are there and good, but the execution just didn't go well. Often in stories like this, I can get frustrated when it is time to forgive-or-forget, but in this case I didn't. Why? Because the secondary cast that I had already become attached to stepped up to the plate and were great friends to both Maddox and Emma, and they gave great support and advice. I liked the secondary cast even more in the last pages of the book. I'm looking forward to reading more about them in the coming installments of this series.

Overall, Last To Know was a quick, fun read for me. I loved the sweet, summer romance and I loved that it involved these exact leading characters because I loved exactly how they were written. I've seen this book categorized as a young adult book and while I would agree, I think it is also safe to say that it isn't a young-young adult book. I'm excited to see what is up ahead in the next book, Never Too Late, which focuses on Mathias Wade (lead singer of Willow Creek + twin brother to Maddox) because his character seems to be almost the opposite of Maddox plus the backstory to his romance looks interesting! It's so fun that an impulse one-click for my Kindle has turned into a new series for me to enjoy - so excited that I decided to download Last To Know and give it a try.


Last To Know will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: Slowly Developing. No Triangle. 
Great Secondary Characters
Companion Series but this works as a Standalone!

Last To Know by Micalea Smeltzer
is currently available for purchase.


The Willow Creek Series: 

It's always fun to one-click on a FREE book and find another
series to enjoy! Super excited that I took the chance on this one!