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Author: Courtney Summers

Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson, et al

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson, et alViolent Ends by Beth Revis, Blythe Woolston, Brandon Shusterman, Christine Johnson, Courtney Summers, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Delilah S. Dawson, E.M. Kokie, Elisa Nader, Hannah Moskowitz, Kendare Blake, Margie Gelbwasser, Mindi Scott, Neal Shusterman, Shaun David Hutchinson, Steve Brezenoff, Tom Leveen, Trish Doller
Published by Simon Pulse on 01 September 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Anthology, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Shades of Earth, Some Girls Are, All the Rage, Please Remain Calm, Bruiser, The Deathday Letter, Better, Where the Stars Still Shine

Place(s) Traveled To: Middleborough, Florida

First Line(s): Susanna Byrd turned nine that Thursday morning at 7:17 a.m.

When people think of school shootings they tend to think of Columbine (1999) yes they’ll reference the current school shooting but there is always a reference to this event. Its sad and scary to think of school shootings as a common place thing and there are times when it seems like before Columbine life was idyllic and that things like this just didn’t happen. I graduated in 1995, I was a pre-Columbine teenager but I wasn’t without knowledge and fear of what a school shooting could be. In 1988, in the town next door to the one that I grew up in there was a school shooting as a result of one student bullying another. In 1994 my town and that town merged to form one school system and my high school became the high school where this event occurred. I was 11 in 1988 and so I don’t recall much surrounding the events of the shooting when it happened but when the towns merged there was a lot of talk about it. And also lots of talk surrounding the courtyard where the shooting took place and if it should be reopened to students or not. Had enough time passed? Would it happen again? What will happen when you bring together two rival towns and try to make them one school.

There was fear then, in those pre-Columbine days. There was talk and meetings and rumors and gossip and even though the kids in my town weren’t part of that event it became ours as we heard about it and that school became our school. So when I read a book like VIOLENT ENDS that involves a school shooting I’m transported back to 1994, to high school, and to all the talk and remembering and fear of the shooting that happened there 7 years before. Tragically school shootings aren’t a new thing and until something major happens and we learn why or come up with a better way to deal with guns in America they will keep happening. With each occurrence the fear will get worse and more ingrained and books like VIOLENT ENDS will become even more important. VIOLENT ENDS is a unique story and is told by 17 different authors who are all telling the same story but different pieces of it. Different glimpse into the killer, Kirby Matheson and why he may have done what he did on that fateful day when he brought a gun to school.

I’ve read school shooting books before, HATE LIST (my review) and NINETEEN MINUTES, and while they hit home they didn’t effect me as much as VIOLENT ENDS did with just its first few chapters. I think this is in part to how the story is written because it just reminds of when I was in high school and the events of that 1988 event kept getting brought up by different people in different ways. During my read of VIOLENT ENDS I found that I needed to take a lot of breaks. This wasn’t an easy read and I had to pause and think about what I’d just read, process the chain of events that I was reading about, and just be in the present before being able to dive back into this world that Hutchinson had created. Throughout it all you only get these little pieces of the puzzle. You read about the day of the shooting from different moments in time but the one thing missing from VIOLENT ENDS is the complete picture.

Violent Ends Quote

The one viewpoint that we never see in VIOLENT ENDS is Kirby’s. You never learn why he did what he did or why who chose the victims he did. The picture you get of Kirby isn’t the crazy loner type that you often see when you hear about a school shooting. Kirby was liked by his peers and his home life was pretty ordinary. So why did he snap? In the end, we’re left with almost as many questions as we start with but VIOLENT ENDS isn’t a book that feels incomplete. Yes, there are pieces to the puzzle missing but its a raw and powerful story and its the sort of book that with each re-read you will learn something new in its pages.

VIOLENT ENDS defied all of my expectations and its hard to find the words to tell you just how amazing this story was. Its an emotional read and it hit me harder than I expected it too. This is a book where there are no easy answers and as a reader it will often make you feel helpless because you can’t stop the chain of events from happening. With each new chapter, each new POV, you become a part of this story. And despite the many authors that take part in this book it feels like one cohesive story. Often with an anthology things can be choppy and you don’t like all of the stories. But that isn’t the case here as VIOLENT ENDS isn’t an anthology as we think of anthologies. It really is one story and all these authors worked some impressive magic to take their very different styles and meld them together to seem like one. I think that VIOLENT ENDS is a must read and I can’t recommend it enough. The reading experience is as unique and different as the way it was written. This book will make you feel things and each person who reads this book will take away something different from

irishdarkblue

Oh and for those who might be wondering. The shooting that happened in my school involved a 15 year old gunman who was bullied by the kid that he shot in the head. It happened in the school’s courtyard and it was then closed off until 1994. The shooter only shot the one person and he was then sentenced to 3 years in juvie and released at 18 to move away to places unknown. The kid he shot survived albeit with some brain damage and he now talks to students about the dangers of bullying and is also a teacher.

 

IR - Violent Ends

 

Add Hate List by Jennifer Brown to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Nineteen Minutes to Goodreads.

 

four-stars
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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mini Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Mini Review: Please Remain Calm by Courtney SummersPlease Remain Calm by Courtney Summers
Series: This is Not a Test, Book 2
Published by St Martin's Press on 20 January 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Ghosts & the Undead, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 96
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Some Girls Are, All the Rage, Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Cortege, unknown // Fairfield

First Line(s): The little girl limps to our car.

Please Remain Calm is a followup novella to Courtney Summer’s 2012 zombie novel, This is Not a Test (my review.) It picks up immediately where This is Not a Test leaves us and gives us all a hint on what happens to Sloane and Rhys. Unlike This is Not a TestPlease Remain Calm is told from the point of view of Rhys and I think I liked the story a bit better as a result. I liked being in Rhys’s head and seeing things through his eyes. He’s a little more hopeful than Sloane and even though the world around them is falling apart he still holds out hope for humanity and for life.

The journey that Sloane and Rhys take in this novella isn’t an easy one. Life outside the school is rough and fraught with dangers similar to those that you see if you watch The Walking Dead. And like with the tv show its more other people that you have to worry about than the brainless zombies that infest the world. There is danger around ever corner and Courtney Summers excels at keeping the reader on the edge of ones seat. Nowhere is safe and the uninfected are far and few between and there is no telling who you can trust.

For a short novella, Please Remain Calm, feels longer and while I wished that there were more pages I was satisfied with how things played out. Even if I didn’t always agree with the choices that Summers made. But that’s what I like about a Courtney Summers book. You never know what she is going to do and she does often take the unexpected path. She could give everyone a happily ever after and tie everything up in a neat little bow but that isn’t real life and that isn’t what I expect from a book by Summers. I like that her books are raw and emotional. I like how they always make you feel something. If you liked This is Not a Test then you will have to read this book. Its not enough, its never enough, but its something more than what we had before.

 

irishdarkblue

Please Remain Calm Quote

three-stars
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review: All the Rage by Courtney SummersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St Martin's Griffin on 14 April 2015
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Some Girls Are, Please Remain Calm, Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled To: Grebe, unknown // Ibis, Unknown

First Line(s): The boy is beautiful.

When you pick up a Courtney Summers novel you know that you aren’t going to be in for a light and fluffy read. Summers does wonders capturing the raw and gritty details in love and her newest book, All the Rage, which deals with the topic of rape. Which is never an easy topic in a story but Summers handles it with honesty and grace. All the Rage is not a book that you can love but it is real and raw and its such an important book to be out in the world. Romy will make your heart ache because she is so broken and there is nothing that you can do about it. As a reader, you can only sit back and watch as she struggles to come to some semblance of ordinary as she deals with the after effects of one of the worst things that can happen to a girl. For not only was she raped, but no one in her small town believes her because of who her rapist was, Kellan, the sheriff’s son.

For me, All the Rage, started off a bit slow but once I got into the story I couldn’t put it down. As with all Courtney Summer’s books the writing and the story kept me rooted to my chair until I reached the end of the book. While I may not have always agreed with the choices that Romy makes one thing that never changed was my need to reach into the pages and give her a hug. Romy has such a tough life and I kept wanting to tell her that it would get better once she was able to leave that town behind and find her tribe. But when you are dealing with a town like Romy’s looking for the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an easy thing as just when you think things are changing you get knocked down again.

All the Rage Quote

All the Rage will not be a book for everyone and its not a book for the faint of heart. As a girl who likes books with happily ever afters that made this one even a little harder to read.There is no happily ever after fairy tale ending within these pages. But this is an important book because in life there aren’t always always happy endings. Sometimes there’s just taking things one day at a time as you try to hold on to the mess and chaos that life throws at you. This is part of why this book is so essential. This is why I think its a book that everyone should read. Romy’s story could be anyone’s story and while it may not be your reality it could be the reality of the girl sitting right next to you.

Courtney Summers is an amazing and talented writer and if you haven’t read any of her books then you need to work on that. Her stories always hit the tough issues but their always issues that need to be dragged from the dark and into the light. Summers doesn’t shy away from the hard things in life and her prose is strong and powerful and will often cut you right to the bone. I love a good Courtney Summers novel but I always pick up each new story with a little dread because I just know that it most likely tear my heart into pieces. Her books are like walking over a bed of hot coals but the sense of accomplishment from making it across unscathed is always worth all the torment she puts you through on the journey.

 

 irishdarkblue

IR - All the Rage

 

Add Far From You by Tess Sharpe to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

three-half-stars
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (Teaser Review)

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult14 Comments

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (Teaser Review)Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Published by St Martin's Press on 05 January 2010
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Girls & Women, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 246
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: All the Rage, Please Remain Calm, Violent Ends

Place(s) Traveled to: Hallowell, Connecticut

First Line(s): I wake up, and the bruises on my arms have turned really yellow and brown, so I have to wear long sleeves, even though fall is doing its best impression of summer and the air is sticky and hot.

Through the wonderful amazing kindness and generosity of fellow bloggers I was able to borrow an Advanced Copy of Some Girls Are from the super awesome Steph of Steph Su Reads. Some Girls Are or SGA as its been referred to on Twitter arrived on Friday. There was temptation to start reading it right then, but also some hesitation. After all there is already so much hype over this book and its greatness….and I am often disappointed with highly hyped up books as seen in Exhibit A. So I patted it a bit and put it on nightstand. Saturday came and I had to get my car looked at by my dad’s handy dandy cave (aka the only mechanic in world I trust to tell me truth & break it to me gently when Monty is really sick). I spent some quality time with my parents, got my dad a cell phone (note to all this is the first sign of the coming zombieapocalypse be ready!) and  in general continued to put off reading SGA.

Though I did carry it with me all day long. That night I pestered Courtney Summers on twitter to see if she had a playlist for the story. As playlists seem to becoming a popular trend with authors and their books these days. She didn’t have anything posted on her site but she did have on in her iTunes, which she then proceeded to Tweet to me. People, this is part of why I LOVE twitter so very much. I love the real time interaction you have with authors (and bloggers and other twitter peeps). So then I was able to put off reading for a wee bit longer as I assembled the list. I even downloaded some LADY GAGA – this should let you all know my dedication to procrastination….and even more amazing the album doesn’t suck. Its actually kinda catchy….words I never thought I’d say when it comes to the Haus of Gaga. (I think Courtney Summers may brainwashed me on this, but I can’t be sure).

Anywho, playlist made I proceeded to sit down and read. Now mind you….I didn’t start the book until 11 pm. When I started I thought to read just a chapter or two before calling it a night and finishing it up on Sunday. Well, before I knew it the clock was striking 4 am and I had finished the book and was just sitting there amazed, in awe and so completely blown away. When I regained some sense I immediately pulled out my phone and tweeted this message to Courtney “OH. EM. GEE. You are so twisted. SGA is effing brilliant. But seriously…OMG!!!” Now you’d think calling someone twisted would be a bad thing, but no this was what I received in response “!!! Hah!! I paused revision just to check twitter and saw your tweet and now I am like 😀 THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! omg!” followed by “PS CUTB was just easing people into my twistedness. After SGA there’s no going back. 😉 srsly, though–thank you!!!”.

And let me tell you I thought that Cracked Up To Be (CUTB) was amazing (my review) but compared to SGA its like night and day. CUTB is puppys and rainbows and SGA is like a zombie on crack. It its a totally mindblowing book and its really hard to put into words just how uber amazing it is. Especially now months before its out, which is why I am rambling crazily and not really saying much of anything at all. In many ways Kirkus said it best “… will make readers cringe…. a truly mean girl is not easily knocked down. Powerful and compelling.”

Some Girls Are is a cringe worthy book. It also is a book that is filled with realism and raw emotion. Regina is a character that you love and hate and who breaks your heart into pieces all at once. I am counting down the days until January when I can buy my very one copy and read it over again. Once I do I’ll sit down and give you a better review then this one of me babbling over procrastination and avoidance….which so wasn’t needed because Some Girls Are not only lives up to the hype but it surpasses even the most glowingest review out there.

Also, in case you wanted to listen to the Some Girls Are playlist – which seriously adds to the reading experience of the book – Courtney has graciously allowed me to post it here for you. The songs are just amazing when paired up with the text. The songs were also chosen more for the feelings & sounds rather than because of the lyrics so don’t try to infer any deeper meaning out of them than that.

  • Changes Are No Good by The Stills
  • Beautiful Dirty Rich by Lady Gaga
  • Feeling Good by Muse
  • AntiMatter byNERD
  • Stupid Girl by Garbage
  • Little Bit by Lykie Li
  • LES Artistes by Santogold
  • Y Control by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • I Can’t Take it by Tegan and Sara
  • Smile Like You Mean It by The Killers
  • Just Dance by Lady Gaga
  • Alert Status Red by Matthew Good
irishdarkblue
five-stars
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