Blog Tour and Giveaway: Hardwired by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

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About Hardwired

Book cover for Hardwired by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie Author: Lindsay Currie & Trisha Leaver
Release Date: November 8, 2015
Publisher: Flux/ Llewellyn
Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Lucas Marshall tests positive for the M0A1 gene—a genetic abnormality believed to predispose humans toward violence—he is shipped off to an impregnable government facility to undergo a battery of psychological tests aimed at making him crack. Now, having survived their tests and proven his mental stability, Lucas is labeled safe to return home.

But any hope Lucas has of returning to a normal life is shattered when the van transporting him to the reintegration facility is forced off the road by a group of radicals intent on accessing the facility and exposing its dehumanizing practices. And Lucas is their ticket through the front door.

Spurred by rumors that the facility is secretly holding one of his old friends captive, Lucas and his bunk mate, Chris, agree to infiltrate the testing facility’s inner sanctum. Once inside, Lucas’s carefully laid plans begin to unravel and he’s forced to seek help from those still locked within the facility’s concrete walls. But when every genetic test claims your only allies are hardwired to become the next Charles Manson, it’s impossible to know who to trust.

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Advanced Praise

“This fast-paced, not-so-distant dystopian futuristic tale will appeal to teen readers. VERDICT: A must-have for libraries seeking dystopian futures packed with action, violence, and moral dilemmas.” ~School Library Journal

About the Authors

Author photo for Trisha LeaverTRISHA LEAVER lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children and one rather disobedient black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes young adult fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. She is a member of the SCBWI, ITW and the YA Scream Queens— a group of nine female authors who are deathly serious about their horror! To find out more about her, please visit her website at: www.trishaleaver.com

Online Presence
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Author photo for Lindsay CurrieLINDSAY CURRIE lives in Chicago with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and a 160 pound lap dog Sam. She loves Halloween, peach tea and Disney World (in no particular order) and is a contributor to the @YAScreamQueens.

An author of young adult and middle grade fiction, she is published with Flux/Llewellyn, Merit Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. For more details on Lindsay’s upcoming books, please visit her at: www.lindsaycurrie.com.

Online Presence
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Email

Giveaway

Trisha and Lindsay are generously giving away finished copies of Hardwired to four lucky winners! For a chance to be one of those four, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. You must be 13+ to enter, and the books ship in the US only. Please see the terms and conditions for full contest rules.
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Tour Schedule

Week One:
November 2 Her Book Thoughts! SPOTLIGHT
November 3 A Leisure Moment BOOK EXCERPT
November 4 Insane About Books REVIEW
November 5 The Cover Contessa 10 RANDOM THINGS
November 6 Take Me Away To A Great Read REVIEW

Week Two:
November 9 Taking It One Book At A Time REVIEW
November 10 Shelf Life REVIEW
November 11 SleepsOnTables Reviews REVIEW
November 12 Curling Up With A Good Book AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 13 Angela’s Library SPOTLIGHT

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall Book Cover The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Katie Alender

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

Review:

Even though I’m a gigantic wimp, I’ve always had a fascination with old abandoned buildings. There’s something mournful and nostalgic about the faded glory of a deserted old hotel or once-stately mansion, especially when the house holds reminders of the lives previously lived there: dishes still set on a dining room table, toys scattered on a nursery floor, paperwork strewn across a desk in a study. I love the weighty sense of history and anticipation, as if the long-dead inhabitants could stroll through the parlor at any moment.

It’s no surprise, then, that The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is right up my alley, as the action takes place in the king of all abandoned buildings: an old mental hospital.

Delia Piven and her family arrive at The Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females after Delia inherits the property from her great-great-aunt. It doesn’t take long for Delia to get the sense that the old sanatorium isn’t just eerie – it’s haunted. This suspicion is confirmed when a dark force in the house murders Delia and she returns as a ghost, joining a bevy of other spirits trapped in the asylum.

What I Liked:

The Perspective: I wasn’t expecting The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall to be written from a ghost’s point of view, but this tactic worked quite well. I was engrossed by Delia’s struggle to cope with the bitterness and grief of losing her life and all the people in it, since they can no longer see, hear, or even sense her. Delia goes from having an entire world at her fingertips to being trapped within the confines of the Piven Institute, as well as by the limits of her ghostly abilities.

Speaking of these abilities, I really enjoyed the insider look at the ghost experience. Delia must learn the trick of walking through walls and manifesting enough to grasp onto objects. She also learns that ghosts aren’t invulnerable and can be disfigured and torn apart by other spirits and phantoms, which means Delia must exercise caution even in death. Another interesting tidbit is that Delia experiences weird time slips. There’s one creepy yet poignant scene in the book where Delia sits gazing forlornly out the window while turning the crank of a music box. She turns and turns and turns the crank, losing herself in the melody, and when a noise finally rouses her from her trance she finds two and a half years have passed.

The Atmosphere: The Piven Institute is exactly the kind of creepy place that gets me wriggling with excitement. I found myself both terrified by the asylum and wishing I could explore it. In broad daylight, that is. With an army of priests and exorcists by my side.

All the spooky accoutrements are accounted for: padded rooms, patient wards with worn leather restraints on the beds, a therapy room furnished with an electroshock chair, and a processing hall still littered with the suitcases and former belongings of the girls who checked in and never checked out. There are desperate messages scratched into the floorboards, eerie melodies played by a ghostly music box, and a multitude of spirits lurking in the rooms where they died, often in terrible ways.

The Piven Sisters: Delia’s attitude, spunk, and modern turns of phrase are a refreshing and amusing contrast to the dark parts of this book. She talks to the living people who occasionally wander into the sanatorium, even though they can’t hear her. For example, there’s a point when one character is about to go down into the super-scary basement, and Delia chides, “Oh, come on[…]. Don’t go down there! Have you never seen a horror movie?”

Another great character is Janie, Delia’s little sister. She starts the novel as a pesky pre-teen, but by the end she’s grown into a strong, brave young woman who I really admired.

What I Didn’t Like:

All Characters Besides Delia and Janie: I was disappointed by how flat and one-dimensional many of the characters are in The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, and I was even more disappointed that Alender didn’t introduce a wider assortment of ghosts. I was rabid with curiosity about the spirits with whom Delia shared the asylum: Who were they? What did they look like? How did they die? I got a little of this, but not nearly enough. It was a big missed opportunity on Alender’s part.

The Plot: I like the pieces that make up this novel but think the book could have used a stronger center for those pieces to revolve around. The premise is that there’s some dark power at work in the house, and until Delia uncovers and defeats this power, it’s going to keep preying on troubled girls. There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot arc, though. A lot of the book involves Delia just hanging around being ghostly and biding her time until she’s forced into action. Even the ending, where the source of the dark power is revealed, felt a little anticlimactic.

Despite my criticisms, I had a good time reading The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. The setting alone is worth giving this book a go, and Janie and Delia’s characters simply add to the story. I recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of a scare this Halloween.

Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star Book Cover Second Star
Alyssa B. Sheinmel

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

Review:

If Second Star weren’t a retelling of Peter Pan, my rating of it would be entirely different. There are some pretty big detractors – frustrating romance, a second half that feels entirely off the rails – that would result in a low rating if this were your average book. Luckily for Sheinmel, her creative reimagining of Peter Pan enchanted me enough to appease the part of me that was irritated by the questionable parts of this story.

Wendy Darling is on a mission to find her brothers, 16-year-old surfers who ran away from home to chase the waves. Nine months later, they still haven’t returned, and the police and Wendy’s parents have given up the search, convinced that the boys have perished in a surfing accident. Wendy isn’t so sure, and as soon as she graduates she takes off in pursuit of her brothers, determined to find them and bring them home.

Wendy’s hunt leads her to Kensington Beach, where she meets a scruffy band of surfers – our Lost Boys in this retelling – who live in an abandoned mansion and spend their days on the water. Wendy finds herself enticed by the boys’ carefree lifestyle, drawn into their little world of salt and sun and sand. She’s especially beguiled by the group’s leader, Pete, who teaches her to surf and whose kisses make her feel like someone new, someone whose family and world haven’t fallen apart.

As delighted as I was by the Lost Boys, I was even more impressed by Sheinmel’s clever reimagining of Captain Hook. The role of the villain is played by Jas, a drug dealer who rules the opposite side of Pete’s beach. (What happens to people who take drugs? They get hooked. Get it? Huh? Like I said, clever!!) Wendy’s investigation reveals that Jas may have a hand in her brothers’ disappearance, and when she goes to confront him she soon realizes he’s an enticing as he is dangerous.

Jas is both a positive and a negative of this book for me. On the plus side, he has this dark pull that really appealed to me. He’s smooth and sexy and magnetic, and even though he’s a “bad guy” he’s charming and educated and polite, which adds great complexity.

The downside is that all this sex appeal makes Wendy fall for him, which I didn’t think was believable. It’s one thing to be attracted to him – I certainly was – and to accept his help in finding her brothers. It’s another thing entirely to trust him and fall in love with him. He is a drug dealer, Wendy! He ruins people’s lives and is fully aware of this fact! The stuff he does is unconscionable, and he shows no signs of changing his behavior! Yet you’re into him? Please.

Something else that detracted from the book’s appeal is the question of whether Wendy’s liaisons with Pete, Jas, and the like are real or a fantasy. I was so invested in the world of Kensington that I resented being distracted with questions like, “Is this a hallucination? Does anyone else remember ever seeing Pete? Or Jas?” It seemed out of nowhere and was the number one reason I didn’t award Second Star a higher rating.

Despite these qualms, I still really liked the parallels to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan stories. I enjoyed seeing how Sheinmel wove elements from the book into her adaptation. A lot of the references were subtle, such as Jas stopping at a bar called The Jolly Roger, a description comparing Pete’s laugh to the crow of a bird, and Pete encouraging Wendy to think of something happy to help distract her while she’s trying to surf (which she says makes her feel like she’s flying). It’s a very smart and unique retelling.

Review: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones Book Cover Salvage the Bones
Jesmyn Ward

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. He’s a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn’t often he worries about the family. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save.

Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; at fifteen, she has just realized she’s pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull’s new litter, dying one by one. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to a dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family – motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce – pulls itself up to face another day

Review: 

The way I feel about Salvage the Bones, a National Book Award winner, is the same way I felt about the classics they made me read in high school English: I know I’m supposed to love the book, I just don’t know why.

I’m sure that that some of you might read Salvage the Bones and appreciate it in a way that I did not. While reading it, you might pick up on, and enjoy, the symbolism and the themes of love, motherhood, and destruction. You might glean gems of wisdom and hope from this tale of devastation and loss. You might find Ward’s story “poetic,” “moving,” “beautiful,” and “deep,” all words that I’ve heard others use to describe this novel. You might even decide that it’s one of the best books you’ve ever read. If this is the case, then more power to you. This is how I wanted to feel, but it just didn’t happen for me.

My issue with Salvage the Bones isn’t that it’s rough and bleak and graphic, although those characteristics certainly didn’t do much to make me feel positively towards the novel. My problem is that I didn’t feel a connection to Ward’s story in any way.  Despite how tough and lonely and unfair life is for the family at the center of the novel, I didn’t feel sorrow or pity for them. The extent of my emotional response to this book was remarking, “Well, that’s unfortunate,” on a few occasions. I didn’t dislike the characters, but I wasn’t drawn to them, either, and for this reason I was mostly ambivalent toward the story.

In only two circumstances did I feel strong emotion while reading this book. The first circumstance was any scene involving Skeetah’s pitbulls, and in this case the emotions I experienced were all negative. I was sickened by the gruesome dog fights that were portrayed and even glorified in this book, and I felt such strong disgust that I had to skim over some sections of text. The second circumstance in which I felt strong emotion was at the very end, when Esch is surveying the utter devastation brought about by Hurricane Katrina. I felt grief and pity quite sharply then, but this scene accounted for not even a tenth of the story and therefore didn’t do much to change my opinion of the book.

Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us Book Cover Pieces of Us
Margie Gelbwasser

Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.

Review:

I have to confess that I’m saddened, and a little surprised, by some of the reactions other reviewers have had to Pieces of Us. A lot of people have said that this book just isn’t for them, and I can support that – there’s a lot of content in Gelbwasser’s novel that’s hard to handle. What I can’t support are statements I’ve seen from people saying they’d be embarrassed to be caught reading the book, that it’s too inappropriate for teens to read, that the characters have no redeeming qualities.

Yes, reading Pieces of Us is a harrowing experience. Yes, it’s crude and full of profanity and graphic depictions of rape and abuse. Yes, it will make you cringe and rage and wish, at the end, that things had turned out differently. But you know what? It’s a powerful book, and as chilling as much of the content is, I am very glad that I read it.

The story centers on four teenagers  – brothers Alex and Kyle, whose mother is a stripper, and sisters Katie and Julie, whose own mother has more in common with a high school “it girl” than with a normal parent – and how their lives are changed by each other’s actions and relationships.

The two families live in different states but come together every summer for a vacation in the Catskills. Spending the summer together has always felt like a release for the teens, who view it as a chance to shrug off the pressures and past mistakes of their “real” lives and become, at least temporarily, better people than they are at home. Katie can stop pretending to be the Golden Girl and try to forget the dirty little secret that has her living in fear and shame during the school year. Alex, whose contempt for women like his mother causes him to use and debase a string of so-called “sluts” at home, shows a more sensitive side. Julie can step out of her older sister’s shadow and feel special in her own right. And Kyle, who usually copes with Alex’s abuse by distancing himself from those around him, is able to breathe, feel safe, and connect with others.

Still, the summer home can’t remain a haven forever. Misunderstandings, jealousy, and hypocrisy gradually chip away at the tenuous peace the teenagers establish in the summer, and when Katie’s big secret is finally revealed, the peace is destroyed completely.

Pieces of Us is a story about lies, secrets, judgments, and the way a person’s ghosts haunt not just them, but the others around them as well. I won’t lie and tell you that the events in this book are easy to read about. It’s an upsetting and often ugly story, with a great deal of swearing, sex, bullying, and abuse. No one should ever have to suffer the way the main characters do; and yet, the things that happen in this book happen every day in the real world.

That, in a nutshell, is why I would recommend Pieces of Us. As sad as it is, it reminds people that abuse and sexism are still out there and need to be stopped. It calls attention to the injustices that go on every day, including the injustice of unequal standards for men and women.

Ironically, the fact that this injustice does exist is made evident by one of the reviews of the book that I read on Goodreads. The reviewer bashes Katie, calling her a slut because of certain choices she makes in the book. This shocked and deeply disappointed me, as it means that the reviewer missed the whole point of the novel. Katie is a victim, and yet people in the story, and even that Goodreads reviewer, see her as a villain. The blame is placed on her rather than on those who really deserve it. This happens all too often, and I think that’s part of the book’s message.

The themes aren’t the only strengths of Pieces of Us. Something else that really stood out to me was the complexity of the characters. Even though Alex, Kyle, Katie, and Julie all did things throughout the course of the novel that made me wince, I was able to understand the motivations behind their actions. Even when they let me down and I found myself wishing they’d made different choices, I couldn’t help but pity the characters. Alex in particular struck me as a tragic character. Even though he’s the least sympathetic of the four protagonists, and the most culpable, I found myself wanting him to be better. Every now and then I caught a glimpse of the decent guy he could’ve been, which made the guy he was that much more frustrating.

One criticism I do have about Pieces of Us is that, while all of the events in this book can and do happen in real life, the ways some of them happen in the novel seem like a stretch. For example, there’s a scene when one of the characters is pressured into doing something distasteful. Although clearly reluctant to perform the distasteful task, that character concedes almost instantly with very little arm-twisting. It seemed unrealistic and detracted from the novel.

Still, Pieces of Us is definitely worth reading. It’s a tough book, but a powerful one, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to experience it.