Happy Monday! Hope you are ready to scare up some more great books. We are embarking on our last full week of Something Wicked Comes and it is going to be a fast a furious dash to the finish. Here are the awesome stops for today:
Pooja@On Books! :Rebecca Hamilton
Ali@My Guilty Obsession: J.A. Templeton: Mackinnon Curse
Make sure to check out these great giveaways!
Today, I have ghosts for you. Except we aren't going to experience the terrifying, haunting type, but instead we are going on an emotional journey as a sixteen year old ghost experiences the highs and lows of winning and losing a first love. In Brie's case, a broken heart can kill. I am talking about The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg. Jess brings us a touching tale about love and loss. I truly enjoyed her book, and hope you will all take time to read her ghostly tale. I have Jess here today to share with us her thoughts on villains, and of course, she comes bearing goodies for you all. Here is a bit more about Jess:
Jess Rothenberg lives in Brooklyn, New York, but will always be a country girl at heart. She grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where she fell in love with fresh air, pristine beaches, southern cooking and starry nights—and to this day feels most at home near the ocean. She graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York where she studied Sociology and English, and started working as an editorial assistant at a major publishing house soon after graduating. She spent most of her twenties editing books for teens and middle grade readers (like New York Times bestsellers Vampire Academy, Strange Angels, Virals, and I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil & I Want to be Your Class President), before leaving her job as an editor to write full time. Her first novel for teens, THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME, came out in February, and she is currently at work on a second book, due out next fall. She lives with her husband and a very bad cat named Charlie.Visit Jess on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
And here is Jess to share with you all her thought on crafting the perfect villain:
POST: A few tips on writing wicked
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year. My mom is an artist, so in my house we took our costumes VERY seriously. (None of this “superhero in a bag” business, that’s just cheating.)
My passion for all things SCARY carried over big time into the books and movies I loved most growing up, from the witches and wolves of the classic fairytales, to the dastardly and occasionally absurd scoundrels found in the pages of Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, and J.K. Rowling, to name just a few.
The thing is, while it’s perfectly normal to root for the hero of any given story, I’ll admit I’ve always been way more curious about the characters who cause the drama—the ones who really stir the pot and give all those boring heroes a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because let be honest, behind every great hero… is an even GREATER villain!
My own writing isn’t particularly full of villains (unless you count the slobbering but loveable basset hound in my first book, The Catastrophic History of You and Me), but regardless, I’m still more partial to the bad guys. (What makes them tick? How’d they get so evil, anyway?) So with Halloween right around the corner, I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at some of the characters we love to hate, and offer a few quick tips I’ve picked up over the years on how to write WICKED.
Tip 1. Get rid of a major facial feature, like, say for example, a NOSE. (What is it about not having a nose that makes a villain so much more frightening? I’m not sure, but it definitely works.)
Swapping a character’s eyes for buttons can also do the trick.
(The Other Mother, from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline)
Or better yet, why not go for the gold and throw out the nose and the eyes? EEEEEEP.
(The Pale Man, from Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth)
Tip 2. Give your villain a funny name. (I’m sorry, but Lord VOLDEMORT?)
Runners up include: Miss Agatha Trunchbull, Spiker & Sponge, and the Fleshlumpeater (from Dahl’s Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG, respectively)…
…Bellatrix Lestrange (also Rowling), Count Olaf (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events), and of course the JABBERWOCKY (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).
Tip 3. Go green! (Environmentally conscious and super scary.)
(The Wicked Witch of the West, from MGM’s 1939 film adaptation
of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
Tip 4. Give your villain some emotional vulnerability. The truth is, the best baddies aren’t usually ALL bad; most of them could just use a little therapy. Q: What got the wicked witch so riled up? A: Dorothy dropped a house on her sister. (I’d be pretty peeved, too.) That’s the best part about villains—they’re complex. Nothing against Harry, but I think I’d rather have dinner with Voldemort.
Tip 5. And last, but certainly not least, COMMIT. Why make your character bad when you can make them really, really bad? Nobody likes (or remembers!) a weak villain. So go evil or go home.
(You are the Diet Coke of Evil. Just one calorie. Not evil enough.)
: ) Thanks so much for having me, Heidi—it was fun! Happy Halloween, everyone!
Thanks Jess so much for the fun post! Now for the goods! Jessica is offering to one lucky winner a signed copy of The Catastrophic History of You and Me. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter open to U.S. residents only. See Contest Policies for details. Good Luck! Jess, I can't wait to read your next book!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.
With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces? Hardcover, 375 pages Published February 21st 2012 by Penguin Young Readers Group
Four Stars: A bittersweet ghost story that reminds you to hug your loved ones every day!
You can't really die from a broken heart, right? For Brie, the harsh reality is that you can and she does. Brie was expecting a magical date with her boyfriend Jacob. Instead what she gets is a shocking and painful truth: Jacob isn't in love with her. Brie literally dies from a broken heart. She wakes to find herself stranded in the Slice. A pizza place that she frequented with her family. Except that she seems to be stuck in some bizarre pizza parlor afterlife. Her new companions are a woman obsessed with crosswords, a few other kids and a handsome boy in a leather jacket named Patrick who volunteers to be her guide. Brie struggles to accept her death and clings to her past. She watches her friends and family move on without her and learns some startling secrets, but sometimes things are not as they seem. Brie is in for more heartache and pain, but perhaps there may be a silver lining. Will she find peace and move on, or be stuck in limbo at the Slice for eternity?
What I Liked:
- I love a good ghost story, but sometimes they just don't work, especially when it is a romance. To my surprise, this book has a ghostly romance that works. Not only is it a ghost story, but it is a bitter sweet reminder that love can be hard and cruel and yes, we get our hearts broken, but sometimes it is worth all the pain and heartache. This story reminds you to hug and hold your family and friends close, and don't waste one minute or take them for granted. Life is short....open your heart to the possibilities of love even if it means getting hurt. In the end, there is no greater gift to love and be loved in return. Ms. Rothenberg with her sweet little story drives this point home.
- I liked that I was expecting a fun ghost story, but what I got was something more. This book has plenty of fun moments, but there are also many sad scenes as well. I like a book that successfully balances joy and sadness. I wasn't expecting this book to tug at my heart strings the way that it did. After her death, Brie learns that her happy life wasn't as perfect as she believed. She is forced to accept some painful truths as she battles her way through the five stages of grief. It is a difficult journey, but she is accompanied by the Patrick, a boy who died in the eighties, and she learns some powerful new things.
- I enjoyed Brie's character. She is just about to turn sixteen when she dies. So she is a bit immature, selfish and unable to see the bigger picture. She is quick to make snap judgements before she assesses all the information. I thought that Ms. Rothenberg did a great job in capturing the right behaviors and emotions of a teenage girl. By the end, Brie evolves and changes into someone I really admired.
- Patrick is a great character. He takes on Brie with all of her anger and faults and handles her with extreme patience. I loved the dynamic between the two. It is one of those antagonistic relationships where he teases her constantly. I particularly liked all the funny nicknames that he has for her, all of them being variations on a cheese name. My favorite was Cheeto. As the story goes along, a strong friendship forms, but Brie is so caught up in lamenting over her troubles, she fails to see how much she depends on him. Friends can come in unexpected times and places, but remember never to take them for granted.
- I loved that this book made me laugh with all of Brie's witty remarks, and then it made me cry. I appreciate a story that can generate a range of emotions.
- I enjoyed that every chapter was a song title or lyric and loved how the song title related to the theme of the chapter. I especially loved that most of the songs were throwback to the eighties and nineties so I recognized almost all of them. I was pleased to find that Ms. Rothenberg at the end of the book provides a listing of all the songs.
- Finally, this book does not have a love triangle and there is not a cliffhanger. This book wraps up neatly as it is a stand alone novel. It is refreshing to find a good solid single book!
And The Not So Much:
- At times things were confusing. For instance, at one point Brie returns home to find her family in disarray, and then she follows her father and discovers something shocking that angers her. This story line doesn't follow through, and we never fully see the extent of the damage to her family. What happened to her brother and mother? Did her father commit his infraction before or after her death?
- The end is also a bit muddled. Numerous events unfold and Brie finds herself thrust back into a certain situation....how did she get there? Was it divine intervention? A second chance, or was it the result of the bargain she made with her friend? Despite the confusion on the how and why of the situation, I ultimately liked how everything played out.
- Finally, there is a big revelation regarding Brie's former boyfriend. I wish that there was a bit more expansion on this story thread. I wanted further depth on his feelings and wished that there was more insight. What caused him to finally come to term with his situation?
The Catastrophic History of You and Me is a book that explores the many different angles of love. Experience the highs and lows as Brie struggles through the stages of grief and deals with the pain of losing a first love. This book will make you laugh and then cry. Love isn't easy, but in the end it is worth the journey. I appreciated the beautiful and complex message of this bittersweet ghost story. I am eagerly looking forward to Ms. Rothenberg's next outing.
"Love’s super-sneaky like that. It creeps up the second you turn your head to check how cute your butt looks in that new pair of jeans."
"The problem is, there is absolutely nothing “fun” about falling in love. Nope. Mostly it just makes you feel sick and crazy and anxious and nervous that it’s going to end miserably and ruin your whole life. And guess what: Then it does."
"Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear."
"But I guess the truth is, sometimes friends drift in and out of our lives like fashion accessories—in one season and out the next."
"My heart didn’t fail. Someone failed my heart."
"When we were little, all I really knew about him was that he was Such a Boy. (Monsters and cowboys and farting, oh my.)"
"Boys weren’t on my radar, since they were gross alien creatures who my friends and I basically wanted nothing to do with."
"---a world made up of old memories and dreams, some of which belonged to me and some of which did not. Smells were smellier. Colors were brighter. Chocolate was chocolatier. Days were longer, and nights were draped in starlight like I’d never even imagined."
"And there, right in the middle of the dance floor, Ben and Anna were apparently guest starring on Project Tongueway."
"What came next? Eyelash bat? Cleavage-squeeze? I looked down.
Um. Not exactly a whole lot of cleave to squeeze . . ."
"The funny thing about high school parties is that nobody’s ever having as much fun as they want you to think they are."
"Instead, all he had been thinking about was her. Another girl. Someone prettier, funnier, sillier, and who was I kidding, probably more boob-tastic than I’d ever be."
"The house was drenched in shadows. All the windows closed. All the curtains drawn. As if whoever lived here had moved away years ago. Or simply stopped caring."
"I watched in awe as the chilly autumn breeze reached right in and sent them scattering—tiny bits of memory and music and color and time swirling all around us."
"It’s a strange thing to find yourself suddenly obsessing over every single moment you’ve ever spent with your best friend. Replaying the millions of sleep-overs, the giggle-fests, the girl talk, the boy talk, the boob talk (or lack-of-boob talk), the sex talk, the blowout fights, the sobbing makeups, the weekend bike rides, the birthday hugs, the Britney sing-alongs, the lunchtime texts, the after-school shopping trips, the four-hour phone calls about Everything and Nothing all at once."
"Why? Because when you’re in love, the world is brighter. Sunnier. The air smells flowerier, and your hair is silkier, and suddenly you find yourself smiling at babies and strangers and old couples walking down the beach holding hands."
"The trouble is, sometimes words are like arrows. Once you shoot them, there’s no going back."
" “But I suppose my main point here is that as parents, we should all be talking to our children more often about how they feel. About what’s really happening in their lives.” He offered a sad smile. “And we should be listening.”
"Just like Jacob, Larkin made me realize that no matter how much you think you know a person—no matter how pretty they are, or how together they act, or how popular they seem, you can never know what their lives are really like.
Not unless you ask them.
And not unless you’re listening."
"I was beautiful, just like Mom always said. I wished I had believed her. I wished I could tell them all again how much they’d meant to me. How much they would always mean. But more than anything else, I wished I had known just how lucky I’d been to have them in the first place.
To have lived. To have loved. To have been loved."
"In the midst of happiness or despair
in sorrow or in joy
in pleasure or in pain:
Do what is right and you will be at peace.
In life there is no greater gift than peace,
May you always have love.
I purchased this book. All opinions are mine own and I was not compensated for this review.
See you back tomorrow for another guest post and giveaway! Click on the button to see all the giveaways!