Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book spotlight and giveaway: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure


So I’ve been meaning to post this earlier this week, but given the fact that I had an awful and allergic reaction to a hair dye I recently used (my eyes were all puffy and swollen and the left half of my face… well, let’s just say that children wouldn’t have wanted to be near me), I was pretty much forced to stay in bed for most of the time.

Thankfully I’m all better now and can get around to sharing in my excitement for a book that’s been sitting on my TBR pile for a good while now: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure.

I’ve always loved books that deal with characters who, by all rights, are in messy situations, dealing with messy, complicated people and complex and unwelcome situations.

Lucille, the protagonist in this book, has the word complicated and life engraved in her heart. And it’s her story I can’t wait to read.

Lucky for you, the lovely folks from HMH are offering 1 lucky reader a chance to win a hard copy of the book, plus a bottle of Essie nail polish. US only.

(Don’t worry internationals – I’ve got a giveaway coming up for you very soon)

In the meantime, do check out more information about the book, an excerpt, some gorgeous quotes from the book and of course, the giveaway.


About The Book:

Title: THIS RAGING LIGHT
Author: Estelle Laure
Release Date: December 22nd, 2015
Pages: 288
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

"A funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise.” —Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Can the best thing happen at the worst time?

Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love.

But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother.

With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

Exclusive Excerpt:


When Wrenny and I roll up the hill to Eden’s house in Mom’s ancient Corolla, Digby and his dad, John, are outside playing basketball, and I want to get in the house as fast as possible, because otherwise I might be trapped here all day, staring.

I get a little twinge of something seeing a dad and his kid playing ball like dads and kids are supposed to. That’s a real thing, and my hand wants to cover Wren’s face so she can’t see all that she is missing.

Which reminds me. “Wren.”

“Yeah?” She’s wiping at her shirt, reading a book on her lap, and she’s a little bit filthy, her hair greasy and knotty in spite of my efforts this morning. At some point the braids came out, and she’s reverted to wild.

“You know how Mom hasn’t been around lately?”

She stops. Tightens. “Yeah,” she says.

“Well, we don’t want anyone to know about that, okay?

Even Janie and Eden and Digby and John.”

“But Mom’s on vacation. She’s getting her head together. She’s coming back.”

“Okay, yes,” I say, “but still. We don’t want to tell anyone, because they might not understand that. They might get the wrong idea.”

“Like that she left us permanently?”

There is so much more going on inside that Wrenny-head than I can ever know.

“Maybe, or at least for longer than she was supposed to.” I reach for the handle to the door because I can’t look at her. “Someone might think that.”

“She didn’t, though,” she says. “She’s Mom.”

“Of course she didn’t.” Lie.

“So who cares what anyone thinks?”

“Wren, just don’t, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Some things are private.” I open the door, then lean back across and wipe uselessly at her shirt with my thumb. “Like Mom being on vacation. So, okay?”

“I said okay, okay?”

She gets out and waits, stares at me like I’m the most aggravating person on earth. “Hey, Lu?”

“Yeah?” I say, bracing myself for what’s next.

“Your mama’s so fat, she left the house in high heels and came back in flip-flops.”

I would tell her that I hate her new obsession with fat jokes, but I’m not in the mood for any dawdling, so I half laugh and get moving. I want to get inside and quick because there’s also the other thing. And by “other” I mean what makes me sweat just standing here.

And by “thing” I mean Digby, who I have known since I was seven but who lately makes a fumbling moronic moron out of me, a full-on halfwit. Ask me my name when I’m in his presence and I’m not likely to be able to tell you. I’d probably just say, “Lllll . . . lllllllu . . .” and you’d have to catch the drool running down my chin.

I know. It’s not at all attractive.

But really. Tall, sweaty, and not wearing a shirt, so the muscles are all right there for the watching. He doesn’t exactly glisten, on account of the fact that he’s whiter than white, that he tans by getting freckles so he’s covered in them now after a whole summer outside.

But seeing his hair all plastered to his forehead, his body so long and lean, looping around his dad to get the ball into the hoop, I want to fall out of the car and onto my knees in the driveway, say Lord have mercy, hallelujah, write sonnets and paint him, and worship that one little curve where his neck meets his shoulder that is just so, so perfect.

He is beautiful.

Which is why when he says hi as I pass him, I barely raise a pinky in response. There are two main problems here, aside from the fact that he is Eden’s twin and that’s all kinds of weird.

One, he’s had the same girlfriend since the dawn of time. They’re pinned, she wears his jacket, their marriage certificate is practically already signed. Angels bless their freakin’ union. And two, if I ever did get a chance with him, like if he ever kissed me or something, I would die of implosion.

I know I sound like a twelve-year-old mooning over some celebrity, and not the extremely self-possessed woman-tobe that I actually am, but something about him makes me lose my mind. Something about the way he moves, about his himness — it shatters me all the way down. So I hope he never does kiss me. That would be nothing but a disaster. No one needs to see me fall apart like that. Least of all him.

Actually, maybe least of all me.







About Estelle:
Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths.

She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a hardcover of THIS RAGING LIGHT and a bottle of Essie Nail Polish that matched the book cover. US Only.


Ends on December 31st at Midnight EST!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Once upon a time there was two girls where there (probably, maybe, definitely) should have just been one.

Disclaimer: Review originally appeared on Women24. A copy of the book can be purchased via Raru.co.za.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich (first published in 2015 by Indigo, and imprint of Orion publishers)


Dawn Kurtagich’s The Dead House is quite possibly one the creepiest books I’ve read this year.

It’s a strong contender for one of my favourite books of 2015.

Described as being part psychological thriller and part urban legend, this novel reads like a gothic novel.  Darkly atmospheric  it has undertones of horror throughout.

This book messes with your mind in so many ways: from its inherent and underlying sense of impending doom to characters whose motives and reasoning border on the outskirts of the bizarre; and dark, ritualistic elements that serve to add a chilling and haunting air to the novel.

Told by means of transcripts, diary entries, video reports and interview and medical notes, the structure of the novel draws the reader in, immediately hinting at something off about this case.

Here’s what we know:

25 years ago Elmbridge High, a boarding school, burnt down. 

Not much was known about the incident back then, except that three students were killed and Carly Johnson (suspected of being as much a victim as she was a suspect ), vanished without a trace.

Fast-forward a few years and a journal is found. It’s an account that belongs to a girl named Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister.

Here’s the kicker though: Carly never had a twin.

This book is rooted in urban legend, but also deals with dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder).

On the one hand, you have a narrator trying to convince you of something that should not be possible – the existence of something that shouldn’t be (I’m being deliberately vague, sorry) – but on the other hand, you have medical reports detailing the fragile and overwrought mind of someone with massive trauma.

Questions that will haunt you: Who is Kaitlyn? How did she come to be? Is she the one that’s real or is Kaitlyn a figment of Carly’s imagination?  Most importantly: what led to the fire that resulted in all those deaths?

Oh how I wish I could tell you, but let’s just say that this book went into a direction that I would never have been able to predict. 

The fascinating thing about novels with unreliable narrators is that even though you know that you shouldn’t trust everything that they’re saying, you can’t help but want to believe in the version of truth that’s presented to you.

It’s a continuous tug-of-war,  one that Dawn Kurtagich pulls off effortlessly.

Read it. It will stay with you for a good while after you’ve read it. It’s still haunting me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book review: Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

Source: Review copy received from the publisher via Netgalley. You can purchase a copy of the book from Raru.co.za.

Publication date: 8 December 2015
Publisher: Running Press Kids

What a surprisingly fun, fierce and unique sci-fi debut novel from Tessa Elwood.

Featuring a heroine that is brave, plucky and filled with heart, Inherit the Stars is a novel filled with the trademarks that define an excellent YA sci-fi novel: explosive action, strong characters fighting to save the world and world-building, which while not fully developed, is nonetheless intriguing.

We’re introduced to Asa, our main protagonist, right in the middle of what seems to be a riot attack.

Hailing from one of three interplanetary systems (each with their own rulers and own set of rules), Asa is desperate to save the injured and unresponsive sister she shares a strong bond with.

What she ends up risking to save her sister’s life soon sees her making the biggest mistake of her life and upsetting the balance of a precarious and fragile alliance between two interplanetary houses – an alliance desperately needed to save both planets from collapse.

In what was supposed to be her sister’s marriage to Eagle, heir to the throne of house Westlet (Asa belongs to house Fane), Asa now finds herself not only married to a boy she’s never met, but also having to deal with the political and socioeconomic repercussions her actions have brought on both houses.

As if that’s not enough, house Galton, the third house, and the one that Asa’s own mother defected to, seems hell bent on their own plans – plans that involve Asa and plans that could mean a possible invasion.

There are so many things to love about this book, that I’m not even sure where to begin.  Yes, it’s by no means a perfect book – there were a lot of gaps and plot holes that could have been expanded and more fully developed – but the characters are so well-drawn, the story so engaging that I found myself actually being a lot more forgiving than I normally am when it comes to gaping areas in books.

Not only that, but full points for the diversity factor as the heroine’s love interest is a person of colour. So much yay for that.

 What I loved most though was the complicated politics that formed the backbone of the novel. Each house has different strengths, resources, leaders and system in place and the way it connects to the decision that characters – in this case Asa’s specifically – make, is what gives the story its tremendous strength. 

The romance between the characters is a slow burn that is a joy to read and will have you cheering for them all the way.

There are also a host of interesting side characters who I’m pretty sure will be playing a more important role in future books and who I’m certainly more keen to learn more about. 

I also hope that more about the blight and the history of the planetary system will feature at some point because Tessa has given us a glimpse of an interesting galaxy that’s well worth exploring, but more so if we knew more about it.

All in all, it’s a solid debut and one that sci-fi and fantasy lovers alike should definitely add to their list of books to read.