Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Read I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone? Looking for the newest by Stephanie Kuehnert?

Just three months from now, and you can get your copy of the latest by Stephanie Kuehnert: Ballads of Suburbia. Here's the summary:

There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

Sounds good, doesn't it? I, personally, can't wait. Her debut novel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone was just fantastic. I don't think I've read any other novel as...well, if you want to know what I think, you can go to my review of it here. But anyway, I definitely think you should either run out the day it's released (July 21) or preorder now (this is actually better for the book biz, so go to any online retailer: Amazon, Books-A-Million (there's no cover there, but it's the right book, promise), Barnes and Noble, Borders, or from the nearest local indie store or I think you can actually go to the store--I've done so with BAM a few times before--and preorder it there. They'll usually give you a voucher, but they may not have one for this book).

To go ahead and get a look at the book, you can read the first chapter. And for other awesome stuff like a soundtrack, reviews, and all about the real-life setting, just hit up Stephanie's newly re-designed web site at http://www.stephaniekuehnert.com

Also, to keep getting updates on all the latest news with Stephanie, become a member of her street team. (And could you please let me know, either by comment or email if you join? Please and thank you!)

And here's a widget you can put on your blog or somewhere, if you like (there are more on her site):

Definitely, though, go out and get this book ASAP. It's sure to be spectacular!


p.s. review of Wake by Lisa McMann below. Comment please!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wake by Lisa McMann

For seventeen-year-old Janie, spending her nights in someone else's dream is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-in-public dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie has learned more than she wants to about her friends--and even people she barely knows and doesn't want to.

She knows that she can't really tell anyone--not even her best friend--about what she can do. They'd either not believe her or think she's a freak and she already has enough to worry about with her detached, alcoholic mother and trying to earn enough money from her job at the nursing home for college tuition.
So instead, she tries to avoid sleepovers*, the rooms at the home in which the patients are asleep**, and overnight school field trips***.

When the dreams become worse and the nightmares keep her up all night, Janie tries to learn how to control the curse and use it to help people. The worst, though, is the gruesome nightmare she falls into while driving down a street in her neighborhood. This is the first time that she is more than just a witness to someone else's psyche. She is now a participant.

I may be a horrible friend (I don't really think so, though) for reading this book. You might wonder why and I guess I should say: I bought this book as a sweet sixteen present for one of my friends the night before her birthday and I hadn't read it yet. I really wanted to, though, so I decided to read it before I gave it to her. Does that make me a bad friend? I read all but 20 pages that night, and then went to bed, planning on finishing it in the morning. I had to hide it in my bag from her before school, but soon I finished it and didn't have to worry. The reason I was able to read this book so quickly was not only because it's so short; it is a fast-paced novel that seems to sweep you up into the action and leave you there long after it ends.

While it was kind of difficult to relate to Janie because she was a character that didn't let people in, I deeply enjoyed her style of narrative, especially Lisa McMann's decision to tell the story in present tense. This kept the pace at a heightened level and made the nightmares much more intense. The story came alive and seemed more realistic--despite its fantastic ideas and magical elements.

The major criticism I have for this book is Cabel's role in the story. Because the narrative offers scenes from Janie's past, the reader is shown the change in Cabel's personality from when he's a young teenager to the present, but despite this vantage point, it seems as if Cabel is just thrown into the story because he dreams at night. Not because he's in any way important, and not because Janie has feelings for him. He is and she does, but that doesn't seem to be the reason he's there. It feels like Janie is using his dreams to practice taking control because they are the most difficult to have control in. I like his character, so I hope that in Fade he'll have a larger personality and stronger presence.

Also, I'm not fond of the mother's role either. Is she just there to be mean, detached, and unaware? Is her only job to drink and not buy groceries? There has to be something more there and a reason why Janie lets her treat her the way she does. Janie has to be stronger than that. She goes through worse in other people's nightmares but she can't stand up to her mother? C'mon!

I liked this book a lot, but mostly for the plot, not the characters and some of you may know by now that I'm a character girl--I love the ones that are real but amazing, too. So that takes away a lot from Wake. Overall a 3.5 for this one, and holding out for a chance to get Fade soon to see if the character develop more.


*Yeah, after her first encounter with the disturbing dreams of her not-so-much-a-friend and her neighbor, she thinks she's done with these. Yet another thing that puts her on the fringe with just a single friend--as if poverty and freakish behavior wasn't enough to put her down on herself. It's okay, though. Who needs more than one best friend?
**She doesn't want to experience any more dreams about war, so lets keep those doors closed during naps, okay?
***Yet another thing she doesn't really manage to avoid. The bus ride up is the worst, though, with all those teenagers who had to wake up at five in the morning.