Guest Post With Marit Weisenberg and Her Debut Novel, Select

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I am pleased to be welcoming Marit Weisenberg to Books, Vertigo and Tea today to share her debut novel Select and her thoughts on her favorite “In-Crowds.” I hope you will all enjoy this post as much as I have!

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Select
By Marit Weisenberg
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
ISBN13: 9781580898065
Pages: 352
Genre: YA/Paranormal

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Synopsis:

Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. 

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?


Round up: My five favorite novels about the in-crowd

From vampires as flawless as marble statues to a family of beautiful, remote sisters, the central characters of these five novels form seductive, exclusive cliques. Often the main character is an outsider wanting in, a narrator who watches from afar and yearns to penetrate the inner circle and experience the allure firsthand. Exclusive groups can hold a promise—that they have a secret worth knowing, that theyre living life in a better way and, if only the narrator can be let in, they’ll have safety, belonging, or even the family they’ve never had. I’ve always been entranced by stories about captivating, mysterious groups so it’s no surprise that my debut young adult novel, Select, has one of its own—a magnetic group who desires extreme anonymity but can’t help from attracting unwanted attention.

1.The Girls by Emma Cline

In the poetic novel by Emma Cline, a middle-aged Evie Boyd looks back at the seductive pull a Manson-like cult had on her fourteen-year-old self and the forces that led her to live at a run-down ranch among a group of girls headed by a charismatic male leader and the increasingly dangerous choices she was forced to make.

2. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This moving, heartbreaking novel is about a group of New York City kids at an arts summer camp who dub themselves ‘the Interestings,’ and Julie ‘Jules’ Jacobson, the lucky outsider from the suburbs who gets accepted into the sophisticated crew. The story moves forward and backward in time with the group, examining how their respective talents and relationships evolve over decades, and the impact the Interestings have on Jules’s life.

3. The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

I am a huge fan of the Romeo and Juliet romance in the infamous Twilight series but my favorite aspect is the impenetrable and perfect vampire family, the Cullens. They remain a mystery to everyone who meets them except to one outsider who, at great danger to herself and the group, makes her way into the heart of the coven.

4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides’s ethereal debut novel about the inaccessible, beautiful Lisbon sisters and the group of adolescent boys who worship them is one of my all time favorites. Long after they’ve grown up, the boys’ obsession continues and their every interaction with the sisters is exhaustively analyzed and catalogued as they attempt to understand the girls’ incomprehensible suicides.

5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the guidance of their classics professor, six students at a small New England college commit themselves to a new way of living that they believe puts them on a

higher plane of existence. This is a story about how insular and powerful a group can become, leading them to justify their own horrifying acts.

Meet The Author

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Marit Weisenberg has a master’s degree from UCLA in Cinema and Media Studies and worked as a film and television executive for a number of years in Los Angeles. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters. Select is Marit’s debut novel for young adult readers.
Follow Merit:

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Marit’s tea of choice: She is a big fan of Earl Grey!

I want to extend a special thank you to Marit for her time and for discussing such a fantastic topic!

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A Million Junes ~ Buddy Read

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A Million Junes
By Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN13: 9780448493961
Pages: 350
Genre: YA Magical Realism/Fantasy

Synopsis:

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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This was another buddy read with Debby @Always Booking,  She puts up with me so well ❤ Staying true to our normal approach, we have chosen to exchange 5 questions regarding our time with the book and share our responses followed by our own personal thoughts. You can and should read Debby’s final thoughts here.

My Questions to Debby:

1.If you had to describe A Million Junes in 3 words, which would you choose?Unexpected, romance, besties.

2.There is a lot happening within this plot that is centered around something much larger than Saul and June. Did you take a particular message or meaning away from the story?
This is going to be so hard to do without spoiling the whole thing.. but in the words of Frozen… “Let it go… Let it go!!!!”  You just gotta let all that old crap go. You will be better for it (much easier said than done btw).

3.How would you describe Henry’s writing and character depiction?
I felt a real connection to her writing for the most part which is a very good thing for me. I loved her character depiction, I love knowing a lot about the characters, it helps me build the world better. Although I always miss something and end up making the character look how I want so sometimes it doesn’t matter.  However I think she did an amazing job!

4.About that ending, can you sum up how it felt for you without divulging spoilers?
 I feel it was a bit rushed but definitely resolved.  I feel towards the end of the book she wanted to put so much more into it like she had 8000 ideas and only 100 pages.

5.Would you read more by Henry and who would you be most likely to recommend this book to?
 I’m not sure if I would read more, it just didn’t stick out to me as a must read more of this author, I did enjoy it I just didn’t think it was a must have.  If I had to recommend it to someone, definitely a person who is into magical books with infinite possibilities.

My Answers to Debby’s Questions:

1.Okay not going to lie.. I read like a thousand reviews after I finished this book and everyone keeps comparing June and Saul to Romeo and Juliet.  I uhm completely missed that in the book.  Did you get that vibe??? Star crossed lovers and all???  It felt more Hatfield and McCoy vibe to me.
I can see comparing it to the Hatfields and McCoys scenario with maybe slightly less hostility. I think it was the general idea divided rivalry amongst families with the added element of love that people are attributing to the Romeo and Juliet comparisons. I didn’t walk away with those feelings but I guess I can see how some might. I have seen it labeled as a retelling and feel that is a stretch for myself, but maybe it was?

2.Do you think that Emily Henry weaved a solid story line or was it to all over the place for you?
I am trying to answer this without spoilers. I really did feel that her execution was splendid until the end. The last 25% of the story felt misplaced and disjointed. I am still coming to terms with the conclusion.

3.I really enjoyed the thought of two people being there for each other in grief, even though they couldn’t do anything for each other.  How did you take Saul and June’s little saying to each other??
I appreciated the realistic approach they took with one another. It takes a deeper understanding and respect to be that honest and straightforward without feeling the need to offer someone false reassurances and comforts during difficult times. Too often people feel this obligation to say or do something when there is nothing that can really be done. Sometimes people just need to be and accept. That Saul and June were able to acknowledge this states a lot about them as individuals.

4.Was there a specific part of the book that you really enjoyed or did not enjoy??
I don’t know that I had a favorite part exactly. I enjoyed the encounters with the whites and the revelations of their family histories. Henry’s writing and ability to incorporate magical realism is incredible. It was such an atmospheric read for me.

5.Were you able to connect with the characters? Or was it difficult for you?
They were credible enough and often relatable in terms of emotions and struggles. While there was the heavy element of spirits and magic, Henry maintained viable actions and reactions with the characters that made it easy to connect with them.

My Final Thoughts..

A Million Junes is an intoxicating read. Henry’s poetic prose and unparalleled approach to magical realism creates a surreal and dreamlike experience that lingers long after the final page. Smooth pacing and seamless storytelling facilitate an immersive and somewhat fast read.

My only very minor complaint might lie within the conclusion. I will admit that I did not find it disappointing, but somewhat disjointed and perplexing. It felt almost out-of-place. I think Henry was attempting to express a lot in a limited amount of time. I am still attempting to absorb the final events and draw a more solid opinion. But it is the best books that continue to make us think after we put them down, so that says something.

This is sure to be a satisfying read for fans of magical realism and forbidden love.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice cup of Chamomile and a spoonful of honey.

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Purchase Links:  Amazon.com Book Depository

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

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Mask of Shadows 
By Linsey Miller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN13: 9781492647492
Pages: 352
Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. 

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. 

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

(New) Thoughts

Mask of Shadows presented with great aspirations and blurb that promised a dynamic plot. Unfortunately, I failed to establish any form of real connection with the writing or characters. I am honestly at a loss on how to discuss my experience as I believe that while I may not have been the proper audience, it is sure to find one. I will keep this review on the lighter side, omitting the normal recap and simply highlight a few Pros and Cons.

Pros

  • An ambitious plot-line featuring my first encounter with a gender fluid protagonist. There can never be enough diversity in reading! Ever! The simple fact that the author made a point of tackling Sal’s preferences on how they were acknowledged by others warrants appreciation. Sal offered some moments of insight and wit that I admired.
  • An element of romance that avoided the normal clichés and was delivered at a welcomed, steady pace. I tire of instalove in YA fantasy. It feels like an all too common theme of late.
  • Maud! Sal’s attendant during their audition is spectacular. I simply adored her and all that she contributed to the story.

Cons

  • For all of Sal’s greatness, there was a feeling of missed potential. They deserved further exploration and development that the story never managed.
  • The setting while held in high court, felt very isolated and vague at times. There was no true sense of world building or the surrounding environment. I feel that this could have enhanced the reading experience tremendously. I struggle with any fantasy that fails to construct rich and vivid settings.
  • Given the concept, this felt like a title that should have pack a very heavy political and magic system, but the brevity of the back story left a lot to be desired and much unexplored.
  • The story became redundant. Too much time was focused on Sal’s audition and inessential details. While I understand the auditions were of significance, there was a lot of untapped potential.
  • Predictability and slow pacing.

In the end, it felt like Miller was onto something great that fell victim to ill-timed execution and a somewhat uneventful narration. There are a lot of interesting factors presented that could possibly receive a noteworthy redemption in a sequel if they are properly evolved and expanded. While Mask of Shadows fell short for myself, I would hesitate to sway others away. I feel this is a title to explore on your own accord as it will most likely be a love or hate relationship.

*I would like to thank Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with this title. The above review is of me own, honest opinion.

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Learn more about the author at linseymiller.com.

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

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