Wednesday, September 30

Waiting on Wednesday


Inherit the Stars (Inherit the Stars #1)
Tessa Elwood

Published By: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Genre: YA - Sci-Fi
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From Goodreads:
Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren's life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood's debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

I am such a massive fan of sci-fi novels. Ever since reading Jennifer L Armentrout's phenomenal Lux series I have loved books about aliens and outer-space. This one sounds so great and original that I really can't wait to read it. This is one I will probably get on my kindle on release day.


Tuesday, September 29

Review: Forever With You (Wait for You #5)

Forever With You (Wait for You #5)
Jennifer L Armentrout

Published By: Avon Books
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Date Read: August 4, 2015
Genre: NA - Contemporary
Source: eARC from InkSlingrPR
Format: E-Book
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From Goodreads:
In the irresistibly sexy series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, two free spirits find their lives changed by a one-night stand…

Some things you just believe in, even if you've never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It's out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she's got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph's eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick's self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he's knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she's building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can't walk away. Not when she's the only one who's ever made him wish for forever . . .

"A guy shouldn't be sitting when there's a lady standing."

Forever With You, the fifth installment in the Wait for You series, completely and utterly blew me away. I genuinely cannot believe how much I loved this one. It is most definitely my favourite in the series. As much as I have loved all of the books in the series a part of me has felt that the last two haven't quite lived up to my love for the first two... Forever With You really has the feel of the first two books in my opinion. That unputdownable quality. I loved every single moment of it.

Forever With You is without a doubt the most emotional of all of the books in this series. It completely and utterly broke my heart and I cried... no... scratch that... I sobbed! I was completely heartbroken but in typical JLA fashion she soon patched my heart back together again. I really loved Forever With You so much. It really sits so much higher above the rest of the books in this series. It's just completely phenomenal.

Jen has really tackled a very emotional and personal issue, that happens all too often, in this book. I feel like for people who have gone through this issue this book could be a really difficult read but personally for me I feel like the tackling of this issue makes this book that much more special than the other books. It makes it more meaningful and more touching. Forever with You was a beautifully written account of a horrible issue that really effects all characters involved and it dealt with it all so sensitively and it really made this book so meaningful and touching.

Forever With You really is the best book in this series to date for me and a part of me does not know how JLA is going to top it with the next book. No matter whether it tops Forever With Me or not I cannot wait to read it. If you love to read NA that's a little bit different from other books of the genre and books that tackle real-life problems this is the book for you. I really can't recommend it enough. It was utter perfection!

"I don't just love you, I'm in love with you. Hell, I have been for a while and I wanted to tell you that so many times over."


Monday, September 28

I Still Haven't Read...


This weeks pick...


Healer Trilogy by Maria V Snyder:

#1 Touch of Power
#2 Scent of Magic
#3 Taste of Darkness (Haven't Got Yet)

Have you read this series?

Saturday, September 26

Review: Fall With Me (Wait for You #4)

Fall with Me (Wait for You #4)
Jennifer L Armentrout

Published By: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Date Read: August 1, 2015
Genre: NA - Contemporary Romance
Source: Bought
Format: E-Book
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From Goodreads:
Eleven months ago, bartender and weird-shirt-wearing extraordinaire Roxy and Officer Reece Anders had a one night stand. Well, kind of. She’s been in love with him since she was fifteen, and he wishes that night they shared never happened. She’s sworn him off forever, but the past and future collide, forcing her to rely on the one man who broke her heart not once, but twice.

Her best friend since birth has been in a long-term care facility since he became a victim of a hate crime years ago, and the person who put him in there is out of prison and wanting to make amends with him and Roxy. She’s not sure she has room for forgiveness in her and when she begins to receive frightening messages and is on the receiving end of escalating violence, she thinks she knows who is to blame. The man who already destroyed one life already.

But Reece isn’t convinced. The threats are too personal, and even if Roxy doesn’t believe him, he’s not willing to let anyone hurt her. Including himself. He’s already messed up more than once when it comes to Roxy and he’s not going to let history repeat itself.

"She is off, but she ain't going to be spending it with you unless you're last name is Winchester. And you are so obviously not Dean Winchester."

Fall With Me is one of those books that you're super excited for before release, buy it the moment it comes out... and then it sits there unread for months. I was obviously so very excited about this book as it's a JLA books but along with that I really liked Roxy and Reece when we met them in Stay With Me. The only reason I can really put my finger on why I didn't read it sooner is because I'm very touch-and-go with NA Contemporary novels. I get bored and irritated with them a lot because I feel like it's just the same story I have read a gazillion times being repeated all over again. However, I am kicking myself for not reading this one sooner. It's JLA and as always she has blown me away.

Fall with Me is one of my favourite NA novels that I have read. It has that typical snark and smexiness that you come to expect from a Jennifer Armentrout book. One thing I loved about Fall with Me was that there was more to the story than just the romance or the traumatic past for one of the characters that is really, in my opinion, overdone in this genre. I loved that it was different and there was a creepy and unputdownable quality to the story. It worked so much better with this additional storyline that other NA books just don't have. This is what makes this one of my favourite NA series.

I really loved every moment of this book and I just fell more in love with Roxy and Reece. They just may well be two of my all-time favourite JLA characters. The more I read the more I loved them and I just wanted everything to end up good for them... they deserved it. One thing I loved about this book was that there's not the typical couple break up and get back together thing. That's one of my pet hates in contemporary books so I always love it when I find one where that doesn't happen and the author finds other ways to keep the story going and the readers interested.

Fall With Me was the perfect installment in my favourite NA series. I love these books and I would re-read every single one of them... and for me and NA that's saying a lot. I'm super excited for the next book and to read Nick's story. It's bound to be awesome.

"Let yourself go and fall with me, and baby, I will catch you. I will get you through this. You just got to take that risk."



Thursday, September 24

Review: The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal
Lisa Williamson

Published By: David Fickling Books
Publication Date: January 1, 2015
Date Read: July 22, 2015
Genre: YA - LGBT
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 368
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From Goodreads:
Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

"Because I'm not gay. I'm just a straight girl stuck in a boy's body."

I'm going to be totally honest and say that when I first heard about The Art of Being Normal no matter how many great reviews I saw and great things I'd heard, it wasn't a book I was interested in or ever thought I would read. Why? Because, to put it simply, it was an LGBT book. I personally have never read a LGBT book before this one. Not because I have anything against them but I just didn't think it would be something that I would like. After seeing the panel at YALC 2015 with Lisa on and hearing her talk about why LGBT books are important and telling us about her book, I was just so impressed with her and went to buy her book immediately and get it signed. I can honestly say that my initial impressions were completely wrong. My opinions about LGBT fiction have completely changed since reading this book. This book completely blew me away. It was amazing.


The Art if Being Normal is without a doubt one of the best books I have read this year. It is such an emotional read. Straight away I was swept into this too-realistic story of David, the guy who everyone thinks is gay but is holding the secret that he wants to be a girl. Lisa's amazing writing style completely suckered me into his life and I just fell in love with both David and Leo instantly. They are amazing characters and the more I read the more I loved them and the more I just wanted to jump into the book and hug them.

Considering that I would have never picked this book up had I not been at YALC it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, moving and touching books I have ever read. Right from the start I couldn't put it down. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen and after that mother of all twists I literally could not turn the pages fast enough. I loved every single moment of it. It made me laugh... it made me completely sob. At times my heart completely broke for David but the more I read the more Lisa started to put my heart back together again. What a beautiful and sensitive approach to transgender issues and truly think that The Art of Being Normal is one of those books that everybody needs to read.

If you think LGBT books aren't for you like I did I would definitely recommend The Art of Being Normal I loved every moment of it and I am so glad that I read it. LGBT books will never be my go-to genre but I won't automatically discard LGBT books as something I won't like. It is 100% down to The Art of Being Normal. It's a perfect, beautiful and uplifting story that I would recommend to everyone.

"But normal is such a stupid word. What does it even mean?


Wednesday, September 23

Waiting on Wednesday


Untamed (Splintered #3.5)
AG Howard

Published By: Amulet Books
Publication Date: December 15, 2015
Genre: YA - Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling
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From Goodreads:
A post-Ensnared collection of three stories—available in both print and e-versions.

Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland.

In Six Impossible Things, Alyssa recalls the most precious moments of her life after Ensnared, and the role magic plays in preserving the happiness of those she loves. Alyssa’s mother reminisces about her own time in Wonderland and rescuing the man who would become her husband in The Boy in the Web. And Morpheus delves into Jeb’s memories of the events of Splintered in The Moth in the Mirror, available in print for the first time.

This collection expands upon Ensnared's epilogue, and includes some deleted scenes to provide a “director’s cut” glimpse into the past and futures of our favorite Splintered characters.

The Splintered series is one of my all time favourite series ever and even though I haven't read the final book yet (I just never want it to end... I am not ready) I cannot wait for this book. I have already read The Moth in the Mirror as an ebook and let me tell you it was absolutely phenomenal. I am so excited to have a hardcopy of it along with the other two novellas to accompany this phenomenal series. Roll on December... by then I might have braved myself up enough to read the final book.


Monday, September 21

I Still Haven't Read...


This weeks pick...


The Selection Series by Kiera Cass:

#1 The Selection (Already Read)
#2 The Elite (Already Read)
#3 The One (Already Read)
#4 The Heir

Have you read this series?


Saturday, September 19

Review: Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy #1)

Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy #1)
Sarah Rees Brennan

Published By: Random House Publishing
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Date Read: July 19, 2015
Genre: YA - Paranormal Romance
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
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From Goodreads:
Kami Glass loves someone she's never met . . . a boy she's talked to in her head ever since she was born. She didn't spend her childhood silent about her imaginary friend, and is thus a bit of an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, she has a best friend, runs the popular school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return. . . .

"Being good's only fun when it's with you."

Unspoken is a book that I have had on my shelf for so long but just never picked it up. I bought this series last year when I saw Sarah Rees Brennan at an event with Holly Black. She was super awesome and it made me want to read her books so much. Now, after finishing Unspoken I am absolutely kicking myself for not reading this book sooner. It was absolutely amazing.

Unspoken is the first book in what is bound to be an amazing series. I was a little hesitant to read this series at first because it is about sorcerers. If you follow my reviews then you will probably have noticed how rarely I review books about sorcerers or witches... that's because I either don't bother picking them up or DNF them. I love paranormal books but sorcerers and witches I just don't gel with. I don't enjoy them and so that's why Unspoken sat on my shelf unread for so long. I don't know whether it was Sarah's fantastic storytelling or writing or what but I adored this book. It is most definitely the best sorcerer book that I have come across to date.

There is no doubt that Sarah Rees Brennan is one phenomenal author. Usually I take around 50 pages-ish to really get into the book but with this one I was completely hooked right away. I loved her world building and her characters and just everything about this book. I was so invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them right from the start.

After the completion of this book I now know why Sarah Rees Brennan is known as the 'destroyer of souls'. I was completely heartbroken by the evil ending of this book. I was on the train home from YALC 2015 when I read the end of this book and I was sobbing... on the train... getting some very strange looks. I was heartbroken. I guess this just shows how much I loved these characters for me to be so heartbroken over them.

Unspoken was a phenomenal start to a series and I am dying to get my hands on the next book in this series. If you love a good paranormal book filled with magic, mystery, intrigue and romance then you will love Unspoken. It's a must-read.

"You are the only thing in the world that matters. You can trust me."


Thursday, September 17

Review: Half a King (Shattered Sea #1)

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1)
Joe Abercrombie

Published By: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: July 3, 2014
Date Read: July 14, 2015
Genre: YA - Epic Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 373
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From Goodreads:
Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself - all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi's path may end as it began - in twists, traps and tragedy...

"But enemies are the price of success."

Half a King is a book that I first heard of at YALC 2014 and I thought it sounded pretty awesome. I liked this book but unfortunately it is far from being a favourite of mine. It is very very different from any other YA Fantasy books that I have read. To me it read more like an adult fantasy series than a YA, it very much reminded me more of Game of Thrones than a YA series but that's not necessarily a bad thing as I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones.

Half a King is a very slow burning book but there is no doubt how much of a fantastic author Joe Abercrombie is. He is very talented and has such a way with words. His narration is very poetic, beautiful and mesmorising. I really loved his writing style and it made the book so easy to read. Throughout the book there were many twists and turns that I didn't see coming; one of them very early on and they kept me reading but the plot was very slow in between those moments.

I remember thinking right at the start that I thought this book wasn't for me but then the first twist happened and I was very interested to see what would happen next. I am very much a plot-driven reader and I feel like this is a very character-driven book. I need lots of action and plot happening to keep me interested and so in between all of the twists, which were fantastic by the way, I just got a little bit bored.

I will read the other books as I do want to know what happens but this series is a one-read series for me.

"One hand, perhaps, but the blood of kings in his veins."

Wednesday, September 16

Waiting on Wednesday


Queen (Blackcoat Rebellion #3)
Aimee Carter

Published By: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Genre: YA - Dystopia
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From Goodreads:
PAWN...CAPTIVE...QUEEN?

Kitty Doe is a Blackcoat rebel and a former captive with a deadly connection to the most powerful and dangerous man in the country, Prime Minister Daxton Hart. Forced to masquerade as Daxton's niece, Lila Hart, Kitty has helped the Blackcoats take back the prison known as Elsewhere. But Daxton has no intention of ceding his position of privilege—or letting Kitty expose his own masquerade. Not in these United States, where each person's rank means the difference between luxury and poverty, freedom and fear...and ultimately, between life and death.

To defeat the corrupt government, Kitty must expose Daxton's secret. Securing evidence will put others in jeopardy, including the boy she's loved forever and an ally she barely trusts. For months, Kitty's survival has hinged on playing a part. Now she must discover who she truly wants to be, and whether the new world she and the rebels are striving to create has a place in it for her after all.

The Blackcoat Rebellion is not one of my favourite series but I still love it. It's a great dystopia and I loved the first two books. I am a big fan of Aimee's and have enjoyed both of her series. I really can't wait to see how this series is going to end. I cannot wait!


Monday, September 14

I Still Haven't Read...


This week's pick...


Partials Series by Dan Wells:

#1 Partials
#2 Fragments (Haven't Got Yet)
#3 Ruins (Haven't Got Yet)

Have you read this series?


Saturday, September 12

Review: The Storm (The Rain #2)

The Storm (The Rain #2)
Virginia Bergin

Published By: Macmillian Publishing
Publication Date: January 29, 2015
Date Read: July 13, 2015
Genre: YA - Dystopia
Source: Review Copy from Macmillian Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pages: 371
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From Goodreads:
"I'll tell you a weird thing about apocalypses - a thing I didn't even know until I was in one: they seem pretty bad, don't they? Well, take it from me: they can always get worse."

Three months after the killer rain first fell, Ruby is beginning to realise her father might be dead . . . and that she cannot survive alone. When a chance encounter lands her back in the army camp, Ruby thinks she is safe - at a price. Being forced to live with Darius Spratt is bad enough, but if Ruby wants to stay she must keep her eyes - and her mouth - shut. It's not going to happen. When she realizes what is going on - the army is trying to find a cure by experimenting on human subjects - Ruby flips out . . . and makes an even more shocking discovery: she's not useless at all. The Storm begins . . .

The Rain was without a doubt one of my favourite debuts that I have read and after finishing it I just could not wait to read The Storm. I just knew it was going to be amazing and I was right. The Storm felt more like a typical dystopia novel, where the apocalypse has happened and we are now dealing with the after-effects of it. The Storm blew me away just as much as The Rain did. I loved every moment of it.

I never thought that The Storm would be even better than The Rain but it really was. It was full to the brim of twists and turns that left me slack-jawed as I couldn't believe what was happening. Things that I really never saw coming and it just confirmed my belief that Virginia Bergin is an absolutely amazing author. I just think she is so fantastic and I really can't wait to see what sort of thing she is going to come up with next considering The Storm is the final book in this series.

Ruby was just as endearing as the Ruby in The Rain only I felt like she had got even better. We pick up with Ruby's story not long after we left her and we still have that naive girl there but she has without a doubt grown up a little bit. She is a little bit more reserved and sensible and intelligent to the ways of the world post-apocalypse. I just loved her even more and even though she didn't grow much as a person throughout the duration of book one when you look at how she was at the beginning of The Rain and how she is at the end of The Storm there is no doubt that she has grown throughout that time and is a whole new stronger and less selfish teen.

The Storm was fast paced and amazing. I really loved every moment and couldn't read this book fast enough. I just needed to know what was going to happen. I fell in love with this world and these characters so much I needed to know if they were going to be okay and going to survive. The Storm's ending was fantastic. It left it open to the possibility of another book if Virginia decided to write another one yet it was the perfect ending of the series at the same time. I have many many questions that could be answered in another book, and I would love another book but the ending was perfect as well. It shows hope for the future in this post-apocalyptic world. I have really loved this series and it is definitely one that I would re-read. It's a fast-paced and amazing dystopia but deep down it's a powerful story of love, family and survival. It's definitely one of my favourite series.



Thursday, September 10

Review: The Rain (The Rain #1)

The Rain (The Rain #1)
Virginia Bergin

Published By: Macmillian Publishing
Publication Date: July 17, 2014
Date Read: July 10, 2015
Genre: YA - Dystopia
Source: Review Copy from Macmillian Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
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From Goodreads:
It's in the rain...and just one drop will kill you.

They don't believe it at first. Crowded in Zach's kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach's parents' frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, "It's in the rain! It's fatal, it's contagious, and there's no cure."

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who's been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby's only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he's even still alive.

The Rain was a book that I got for review and couldn't wait to read it but just never ended up getting to it. Now I'm all like WOW.... why the hell didn't I read it before now? This book was utterly phenomenal. I loved every moment of it and I am still left completely in awe by this book.

The Rain is a fast-paced, terrifying encounter of the apocalypse and we see it all through the eyes of 15-year-old Ruby. One thing I loved is that this book is different from other books in the dystopia genre. We aren't seeing the effects of the apocalypse years in the future and having it explained to us as to what happened to make the world this way. We start off in our normal everyday 21st Century England. And we experience the apocalypse as it is happening, right now.

Ruby... personally I absolutely loved Ruby. Her narration for this book was just perfect. I had read other reviews of this book before starting it and had heard that Ruby was irritating and annoying and yeah at times she can be... but let's be real for a moment guys... what 15-year-old girl isn't?? Yes she is in the middle of an apocalypse and goes shopping looting for make-up and fake-tan... are you telling me you wouldn't have done exactly that when you were 15? If you're answering no to that question you are totally lying to yourself!!!! Ruby was the perfect narrator for this book. This book that could be dark and scary... I mean it is the apocalypse... but Ruby lightened the mood with her inner ramblings of a typical teenager and I loved her. I'd love to say that she really grew as a person throughout the book... but she didn't. She is just as make-up and fashion obsessed at the end than she is at the beginning but she learns how to survive on her own and I adore her for that. She might be an annoying teenager but she lightens the book and she make me laugh so many times in this book. I adore her.

Virginia Bergin is such a fantastic author. I mean her narration was spot-on for a 15-year-old character. I loved how she made it sound like it was really a teenager. Many YA books have teenage narrators but really it sounds like an adult telling the story instead of a teenager... this book was way more authentic and had a great authentic teenage voice. It was fantastic. Virginia's writing hooked me in right from the start and I couldn't stop reading until I had read the entire thing.

The Rain was a stunning, amazing and heart-stopping adventure in an apocalypse that is too realistic for comfort. I found myself many times while reading thinking don't go out in the rain!!!! I loved every moment of it and I cannot wait to read the sequel. It's going to be epic! If there is one dystopia novel that you read this year make sure it's The Rain.


Blog Tour: Fans of the Impossible Life


Hey Guys,
I am super excited to have today's stop on the blog tour of new awesome book 'Fans of the Impossible Life'

Before I let Kate take over here's a little bit more info about the book.


Fans of the Impossible Life
Kate Scelsa

Published By: Macmillan Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2015
Genre: YA - Contemporary Romance

From Goodreads:
This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them.

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over as a new student at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to act like a normal, functioning human this time around, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with a mischievous glint in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, "Fans of the Impossible Life" is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

And now I'd like to introduce the wonderful author Kate for her next "What I Love" Post

What I Love: "The Great Gatsby"

Like most American teenagers, I first read “The Great Gatsby” in high school. I still have my paperback copy of the book from back then, all marked up with notes about the symbolism of the green light and the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg. I remember that the paper that I wrote on the book was an in-depth analysis of the idea that T.J. Eckleburg and the Owl Eyed Man represented God.

I didn’t relate to the book at all back then. It was just another American classic novel that we were supposed to read. And I’m not sure I would have revisited it if it hadn’t been for the theater company that I joined when I was twenty-one.

The company was a collaborative, experimental group called Elevator Repair service. I started working for them in 2002 with the idea that I wanted to learn enough to start my own company. But it soon became clear to me that running your own theater company was a ton of impossible and endless work, and I would be better off just sticking around and making work with this excellent group of people.

In 2003 our director John Collins wanted to revisit an old idea that he had been playing around with of using “The Great Gatsby” as source material for a show. The company had a history of using text that was not meant for the stage, and we became interested in what it would mean to present a book on stage without actually adapting it, to somehow preserve the integrity of the original book, rather than try to force it into being a play. We decided that the only solution was to read the entire book, cover to cover, including every “he said” and “she said,” and to build a show around that.

The result was called “Gatz,” and although it sounds like a crazy idea, it was very successful, and we spent the next eight years touring the show on and off. “Gatz” lasted eight hours total, and it was performed in a single day, usually starting around two or three pm, with a dinner break in the middle. The setting of the show was a dingy Long Island office. A scruffy office worker would come in to his paper-pushing job one morning, find that his ancient computer wouldn’t turn on, pull out a copy of “The Great Gatsby” and start reading it out loud. As he read, the people around him in the office started to take on the personas of the characters in the book. The cute mail girl became Jordan, the burly janitor was Tom, and the boss of course was Gatsby himself. Scott Shepherd played Nick, both in dialog and as the narrator, and the rest of the company took on the roles around him.


Me and the marquee at the Noel Coward Theatre


We performed the show hundred of times, in the US and on tour around the world. We were at the Sydney Opera House for a month, at theaters in Norway, Singapore, Vienna, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Zurich, all over the world. In 2011-2012 we did a long run at the Noel Coward Theatre on the West End in London and two runs at The Public Theater in New York.

I played the secretary in the office, a mostly humorless woman who would suddenly come to life when alcohol appeared and it was time to reenact a tipsy office party version of one of Gatsby’s famous gatherings. File folders and rolodex cards would go flying.

It is a strange and remarkable thing to listen to one book being read hundreds of times. I’ve often wished that someone had studied our brains before and after this experience. But what was sometimes mind-numbing repetition was also often an incredible opportunity to let Fitzgerald’s poetry sink in to our brains in a very significant way. There were so many times that I would be waiting backstage to make an entrance, and I would hear a sentence as if I were only really understanding it for the first time.

I do think that helps a lot to be older than the characters are, as Fitzgerald was when he wrote the book. All of the ideas about longing and self-delusion and creating a fa├žade and unattainable dreams become much more poignant when you have lived at least a version of these things to some extent, and seen others live them. Gatsby started hitting me hard around five years into my experience of literally living the book. And it was during this time that I started writing my young adult novel “Fans of the Impossible Life.”

As the secretary in the show, I spent a lot of “Gatz” in a cubicle where I could only be seen by the audience from the shoulders up. For the first few years, still nervous about making sure I got all of my cues right, I would sit and do “fake work,” pretending to edit the piles of scrap paper that found their way to our set from the offices of the many theaters we visited around the world. As I got more comfortable with the show, I started reading magazines, making sure to stop a moment before I was needed on stage to deliver a line. And then for the last two years I got a tiny laptop, and I sat on stage in my cubicle and wrote and edited FANS.



In my cubicle on stage, Scott Shepherd on the left
Photo by Chris Beirens

This became a necessary strategy as the years went on and the repetition started to get to many of us. Those of us who had been in the show from the beginning had to come up with strategies to get through the long hours. My friend Mike practiced piano backstage. During one of our runs at the Public Theater in New York, Tory took care of her newborn son (with the help of a babysitter when she had to go onstage for a scene). Vin organized his bootleg Frank Sinatra iTunes collection. By year six or seven, you had to have something going on off stage that was actually more engaging than what you were doing onstage, because your onstage work had become a kind of meditative labyrinth walk where you couldn’t think too much about your performance because you had a hundred of them behind you and a hundred more to go. If you thought about what you were doing too much you would just psych yourself out.

Working on FANS onstage, it was as if I actually were a bored secretary, clocking in at the beginning of another eight hour long workday, secretly writing her novel in her office when her boss wasn’t looking. If you looked carefully you could see the glow of my little laptop in my glasses, my shoulders moving slightly if I got excited about what I was writing. And I say with great pride that in eight years I never missed a cue.

“Gatsby” has snuck into FANS in obvious ways. There’s a major plot point in FANS that happens around a classroom discussion over the mysterious end of chapter two, when Nick has gotten drunk with Tom and Myrtle and the neighbors Mr. and Mrs. McKee (I played Mrs. McKee in “Gatz”). After the party, Nick ends up downstairs in the McKees’ apartment, and Mr. McKee is “sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.” Then there’s a break, signified by an ellipsis, and Nick ends up “lying half asleep in in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station.”

I included this part of Gatsby in FANS because this is the one conversation around the book that I do remember from high school. Does something happen between Nick and Mr. McKee here? Impossible to know for sure. Fitzgerald either doesn’t want us to know or couldn’t say. But it’s a fascinating omission.



Our version of Chapter Two
Pictured L-R, Scott Shepherd, Annie McNamara, Me, Vin Knight, Laurena Allen
Photo by Mark Barton

And then there are the ways in which Gatsby makes its way into my work that aren’t intentional. I often come up with sentences that I think are completely original, only to find that they’re a little too similar to sentences from “The Great Gatsby.” For this reason, Scott (who unintentionally memorized the entire book and can recite sections on demand) has to read everything I write to monitor for these accidental tributes. Sometimes I’ll even text him while I’m writing.

“How about ‘Outside the street lamps were illuminating an unfortunate scene,’” I’ll text.

“A dozen headlights illuminated a bizarre and tumultuous scene, ” he quotes Gatsby back to me.

But even though a large portion of my brain has been colonized by Fitzgerald’s words in a way that is probably prohibiting me from accomplishing practical tasks like finding my keys (as a cast we often make the not-so-funny joke that we’re all going to end up in a nursing home together just quoting Gatsby to each other, unable to say or remember anything else), I will always love this book. I love it for giving me the opportunity to travel the world, for teaching me its incredible poetry, and above all, for inspiring me to write my own story.



Spoiler alert: Gatsby dies
Me, Scott, and Jim Fletcher as Gatsby
Photo by Chris Beirens


Further reading:

A Guardian article about the show, in which I talk about writing FANS onstage:
http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2012/apr/29/gatz-greater-gatsby

A story from the New Yorker website about the time that we went to see the Baz Luhrmann movie together as a company:


Bio

Kate Scelsa is the author of the young adult novel “Fans of the Impossible Life,” out 9/10 from Macmillan in the UK and 9/8 from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray in the US. Kate grew up in New Jersey, went to school at Sarah Lawrence College, and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two black cats. She spent much of 2002-2013 traveling the world with theater company Elevator Repair Service, performing in their trilogy of works based on great American novels, including an eight hour long show called "Gatz" that used the entire text of "The Great Gatsby." Kate is currently collaborating with her dad, the legendary free form radio DJ Vin Scelsa, on “The Kate and Vin Scelsa Podcast,” now available on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Twitter: @katescelsa
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