Review: The Girl who Saved Ghosts, by K.C. Tansley

About the book, The Girl who Saved Ghosts

 

  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Beckett Publishing Group (October 17, 2017)
  • Series: The Unbelievables (Book 2)

The Girl Who Saved GhostsShe tried to ignore them. Now she might risk everything to save them.

After a summer spent in a haunted castle—a summer in which she traveled through time to solve a murder mystery—Kat is looking forward to a totally normal senior year at McTernan Academy. Then the ghost of a little girl appears and begs Kat for help, and more unquiet apparitions follow. All of them are terrified by the Dark One, and it soon becomes clear that that this evil force wants Kat dead.

Searching for help, Kat leaves school for the ancestral home she’s only just discovered. Her friend Evan, whose family is joined to her own by an arcane history, accompanies her. With the assistance of her eccentric great aunts and a loyal family ghost, Kat soon learns that she and Evan can only fix the present by traveling into the past.

As Kat and Evan make their way through nineteenth-century Vienna, the Dark One stalks them, and Kat must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save a ghost.

Buy, read, and discuss The Girl who Saved Ghosts:

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About the author, K.C. Tansley

K.C. TansleyK.C. Tansley is the bestselling and award-winning author of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts (2015). She lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill in Connecticut. Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days.

Connect with K.C.:

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My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellK.C. Tansley’s Unbelievables series captured my imagination when I reviewed the first book in the series two years ago. Now, with the second book, The Girl who Saved Ghosts, I feel like I’m revisiting old friends. They’ve grown and changed a bit since our last meeting, but Kat and Evan are still brave, kind, and a little bit reckless, the way we all wish we could be.

Kat, I felt, was the most changed, since her decision to allow ghosts back into her life is literally draining the life from her, but when she’s given a mystery to solve, she leaps into the task, and that’s what I really love about her.

Similarly, Evan is a strong support system – who doesn’t want a friend like him?

Author Tansley’s flair for vivid detail is even stronger in this novel, and one thing I really appreciated was that she managed to increase the risk and jeopardy for her characters without making them seem older than they should be.

As before, there’s an element of time travel in this novel, and Tansley handles the period sections of this novel most ably. Reading this book, you are no mere observer; you are transported into elite educational institutions, creepy estates, and old-world Europe, and it all occurs with the most delicious shiver up and down your spine, as if there might be a ghost standing next to you, just waiting to be noticed.

While this book is best enjoyed after reading it’s predecessor, The Girl who Ignored Ghosts, it’s equally satisfying as a stand-alone story.

Goes well with a Twix candy bar and a cold Dr. Pepper.

 

 

In Their Words: Q&A with Emily Ross (@emilyross816), author of Half in Love with Death

About the author, Emily Ross Emily Ross

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. Find out more at emilyrosswrites.com or follow her on Twitter @emilyross816.

HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH was inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson.’

Connect with Emily

Website | Twitter


Q&A with Emily

Tell us about you. If every five-ten years of your life had a chapter heading, what would it be? What are the highlights (or low points) of each chapter?

  1. School Days and Death

In elementary school I dreamed of being a pathologist or a ballerina, though I was weirdly squeamish and couldn’t dance. But after my cat died and my friend’s sister drowned, I had the awful realization that I wasn’t immortal. It was like I’d fallen down a well.

  1. A Teenager in Love

By the time I got to high school I no longer wanted to be a pathologist or a ballerina or anything. I hated homework and loved clothes and boys. Not sure which I loved more, maybe boys, though clothes made me happier. I still remember my white boots, fishnet stockings, herringbone mini-skirt, navy blue pea coat, and my first bell-bottoms and suffering greatly from unrequited love.

  1. Student teaching hell
  2. Emily's Workspace

    Emily Ross’s workspace

The only thing I could figure out to do with my English degree was to teach high school. During student teaching, I developed a hacking cough that didn’t go away until I was done. When one of my students picked me up and spun me around, it became pretty clear that teaching wasn’t for me. I had no idea how to support myself but a friend told me if I passed a test, an insurance company would train me as a computer programmer. I barely knew what a computer was, but I did pass the test and began a career in IT.

  1. Married with Children

I did a lot of things that I’d never done before—got married, bought a house, and wrote my first story when I was pregnant with my first child. Each of these things was exciting, surprising, and harder than I expected. Being a parent was the most rewarding and hardest thing of all. I was totally exhausted most of the time, but I did discover that the world is lovely and spectral at 4AM.

  1. Writing While Working and Married with Children

I juggled a demanding job, raising kids, my writing, and dropped a lot of balls. I spent a lot of time driving kids to dance lessons or soccer games while worrying about work. But it’s the dance lessons and soccer games I remember now. I’m glad I made time to try to do everything even if life was a little chaotic. Somehow I finished my novel in the midst of all of this.

What gets you to sit down with a computer (or pen and paper) and start writing? What keeps you going?

I force myself to put my butt in the chair and write at least a little every day. Once I’m there in the chair and have gone through my usual distractions (Facebook, Twitter, etc) the words and thoughts suck me in. My inner editor keeps me going. I might think I’m done but there’s this voice that keeps saying it’s not right, go back, fix it, and I do go back obsessively tweaking things. On a good day I make some forward progress.

Half in Love with Death was inspired by a true story. Can you talk a little about what drew you to that story, and how the book grew from that spark of inspiration? 

Charles Schmid, the charismatic young man known as ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, murdered three teenage girls, and buried them in the Arizona desert. He was popular with his teenage friends, and had many girlfriends. Though clearly a psychopath, he didn’t appear all that different from many boys I’d known in high school. I began to see him as a metaphor for the illusions teen girls have about love. Ultimately I had to put a lot of the facts aside in order to write my book, but this true crime led me to a story about sisters, lies, and a love that feels utterly real but may not be.

The story of Caroline’s search for her sister and the story of her falling in love with Tony are interconnected, but there wasn’t an exact moment when I decided to tell two stories. It just seemed likely to me that when her sister’s disappearance forces Caroline to step out of her quiet life into Tony’s exciting world, it would be inevitable that she would fall for him.

Half in Love with Death is both a YA and a period novel. (I’m hesitant to call it historical since it takes place in extremely recent history). What were some of the specific challenges and rewards of writing YA, and of setting the story in such a specific time and place?

I loved exploring the fashions, songs, and little details I needed to make that era come alive. One challenge was that most of the technological devices that define teen life today hadn’t been invented yet, so I had to think of aspects of the sixties that today’s teens would relate to. I felt they would be interested in the philosophy behind the sixties drug culture and, of course, love never goes out of style.

My biggest challenge was that some agents and editors thought there wasn’t a market for YA set in the sixties. I received a lot of pushback and this undermined my confidence in my choice to set my novel in this era. I actually removed a lot period references, and then on another revision put many of them back in. I second-guessed myself a lot – but deep down inside I knew I had to set this story in the sixties.

What one thing would you want readers of Half in Love with Death to take away from the novel?

I hope that readers will be moved by my teen narrator’s story. I also hope that they will come away with an understanding of how important it is for teen girls to find their own strength when navigating the murky waters of love and emotion.

My experience has been, as I think I said when I reviewed your book, that YA novels tend to have a lot of the strongest female characters and most provocative storylines in contemporary fiction. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is?

I agree that YA novels have some of the most provocative storylines, and strongest female characters. Perhaps this is because the genre attracts innovative writers who are willing to take risks, and also because YA is about teens: an age group that’s volatile, creative, and that breaks rules. I think it’s great that YA authors tackle many of the issues facing teens today including rape culture, sexuality, and body image problems. Though these aren’t exclusively female issues, many YA authors recognize how important it is to provide teen girls with strong female characters as role models.

Writers, of course, are also readers. What are some of the books or authors who have influenced your life? What’s the most recent thing you read that really hooked you?

Raymond Chandler introduced me to noir. The voice in his polished prose is infectious and his books showed me that detective fiction can also be fine literary fiction. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier showed me how an absolutely compelling psychological thriller can be built around a quiet main character. I’m also a huge fan of Tana French and Gillian Flynn.

The most recent book that really hooked me was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I couldn’t put down this novel, whose maddeningly self-destructive and unreliable narrator glimpses a scene from a train window that unfolds into a twisty and unpredictable mystery.

If you were going to offer your 15- or 17-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Believe in yourself and don’t let love blind you. If someone is making you unhappy forget about him. There are no soulmates, no loves that are meant to be. You make your own destiny. Focus on yourself. Be strong.

What will your next project be?

I’m writing a novel about an aspiring ballerina who must prove that her Russian immigrant boyfriend and dance partner is not the mythical butterfly killer who murdered the captain of the high school dance team. The story takes place in my hometown of Quincy, a city that combines the charm of a small town with the gritty darkness of the inner city. I’m having fun writing about dance and murder!


About the book, Half in Love with Death Half in Love with Death

  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Merit Press (November 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2015

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her. Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the street culture of runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

Buy, read, and discuss Half in Love with Death

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The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, by K.C. Tansley (@KourHei) #review #coming_soon

About the book, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

  • Series: The Unbelievables Book 1
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beckett Publishing Group; 1 edition (August 1, 2015)

She tried to ignore them. But some things won’t be ignored.

Kat Preston doesn’t believe in ghosts. Not because she’s never seen one, but because she saw one too many. Refusing to believe is the only way to protect herself from the ghost that tried to steal her life. Kat’s disbelief keeps her safe until her junior year at McTernan Academy, when a research project for an eccentric teacher takes her to a tiny, private island off the coast of Connecticut.

The site of a grisly mystery, the Isle of Acacia is no place for a girl who ignores ghosts, but the ghosts leave Kat little choice. Accompanied by her research partner, Evan Kingsley, she investigates the disappearance of Cassie Mallory and Sebastian Radcliffe on their wedding night in 1886. Evan’s scientific approach to everything leaves Kat on her own to confront a host of unbelievables: ancestral curses, powerful spells, and her strange connection to the ghosts that haunt Castle Creighton.

But that’s all before Kat’s yanked through a magic portal and Evan follows her. When the two of them awaken 129 years in the past with their souls trapped inside the bodies of two wedding guests, everything changes. Together, Kat and Evan race to stop the wedding-night murders and find a way back to their own time—and their own bodies—before their souls slip away forever.

Buy, read, and discuss The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

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About the author, K.C. Tansley K.C. Tansley

K.C Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables–spells, ghosts, time travel–and writes about them.

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is her debut YA time-travel murder mystery novel. As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

Connect with K.C.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I love a good ghost story, and even though I’m really old (a month away from 45) I still love the young adult/new adult genre, because I think some of the strongest female characters and most provocative stories are coming out of it.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is no exception.

First, in Kat, we have a strong young woman who has personal experience with “unbelievables,” the author’s term for ghosts and other supernatural creations – the things we’re not, as rational adults, supposed to believe in. She’s smart, but she’s also got flaws, and I like that she’s not s superhero, just a girl with an ability to see into the unseen, an ability that, at times, is a blessing and at other times is a curse.

Then we have a neo-Gothic ghost story – a family castle on a cliffside, a decades-old murder mystery, love, money, intrigue – it feels both contemporary and historical at the same time, and author Tansley balances that feeling really well.

Mix in a research project, Kat’s teammates/friends, and bit of time travel, and this story is gripping and compelling and eerie enough that I had to brighten the lights in my room while I read it. (This may have been because I read it at 3 AM).

Kat and her roommate and best friend Morgan both felt like ordinary young women thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Their dialogue was believable, and they served as perfect counterpoint to each other. Evan, Seth, and Adam, the young men we see the most of, were also well drawn. I especially liked that even when Kat and Even grew closer, he retained his ‘still kind of a jerk’ behavior. He is kind of a jerk, but he isn’t a MEAN jerk, more a smartass, and I appreciated that.

The story itself was well-paced…just enough flashback to set up Kat’s ability, just enough of a glimpse at her present to connect her past and future, and then the mystery elements began to unfold, and everything clipped along at a glorious speed.

If you want something that defies pigeon-holing (It’s a YA, ghost, mystery, paranormal romance, time travel adventure) you definitely need to read this book. Afterward, we can bond over our mutual impatience for book two, because I believe that this series will take off, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Goes well with grilled chicken sandwiches, french fries, and sweet tea. (Trust me on this. )

 

 

 

Spotlight: Daughter of the Fallen by Madeleine Wynn – Enter to Win $50 Amazon Gift Card

About the book Daughter of the Fallen Daughter of the Fallen

Title: Daughter of the Fallen
Author: Madeline Wynn
Publisher: Book Baby
Pages: 250
Genre: YA paranormal
Format: Paperback

Most sixteen-year olds aren’t worried about the fate of their immortal souls. May Krieg should be.

Typically, honor student May’s biggest problems have revolved around her super-hot arch-rival, Jack. But when a school project takes them ghost-hunting in a local cemetery, she discovers that an ominous force roams in the darkness around her.

And it follows her home.

It claws its way into her life, burning messages into her wall and imprinting them onto her body. Even worse, she can’t tell if it’s trying to possess her… or protect her.

May’s thoughts soon become actions, causing the target of her anger severe physical pain and giving her a rush the likes of which she has never experienced. She quickly realizes that she needs to find a way to reign in this power before she kills someone. May hates the pleasure it gives her, hates herself for hurting others, but she can’t stop.

As her entire world shatters around her, she is forced to ask what her soul is worth– and who would she risk losing her soul to save?

Buy, read, and discuss Daughter of the Fallen

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Read an excerpt from Daughter of the Fallen

This is New England. And in New England, a town without a good witch hanging or ghost story just, well, isn’t considered to be a real town. So when I walk past the iron gate of the cemetery and feel the urge to bolt riding up my legs like a herd of football players bum-rushing the food counter on taco day, I set my shoulders and do my best to cowboy up.

Set between imposing stone walls and punctured by large granite fists, Hillside Cemetery definitely looks like it deserves its sinister reputation, making my attempt at bravery rather brief. “This place sucks. Maybe we should just go.”

“Here, watch your step,” Cay says and holds out his hand to help me over the uneven cobbles just on the other side of the entry. Once we make it over the stones, he drops my hand and pulls the recording equipment out of the duffle.

We’ve been friends ever since kindergarten, when some boy taunted me for living in a “little troll house.” Cay, the kickball king, told him that it was actually a gingerbread house, and everybody knows that only fairy princesses live in gingerbread houses.

He was wrong, of course; it was witches who lived in the gingerbread houses, a fact I pointed out to him later, but I gave him props for the effort. We’ve been “Cay and May” ever since, but the whole dating thing still feels… awkward.

“Is this all from school or is Jack bringing some of his dad’s?” I swipe an errant curl of hair out of my face and cringe at my surroundings as I reach for the big video camera. Why does it have to be so dark? Why can’t people ghost hunt in the daylight? You can still supposed get sound bites and whatever in the daytime, right? It’s not like ghosts go anywhere or sleep or, you know, whatever.

“Well, the big stuff is the professional gear with night vision from school. And then we have my stuff.” Cay stops in front of a wide tomb, laying his multiple cameras and his mini video recorder along the top like they are the most precious things in the world. “Weird that Mr. Dowd put both you and Jack on my team.”

“Yeah, weird.” And a nightmare. If it wasn’t for Jack, I’d be ranked first in our year, and, unlike Jack, if I don’t earn a ton of scholarship money for college, then I can’t go.

Cay fumbles with the equipment, his breath rising in great grey puffs of frost, lingering in his dark bob of curls. I shiver.

A BMW pulls up in front of the entry gate, looking sleek and new and out of place.

I run an unsteady hand through my untamable hair…right…Jack.

He gets out of the car and strides towards us, stepping out into the camera’s lights: short blond hair, high cheekbones, and a long neck leading to strong shoulders. Everyone at school, except for me, that is, adores him because he’s rich, intelligent and supposedly lost his virginity to a Victoria’s Secret model.

Watching the god-like way he strides across the cemetery, you can almost believe the hype. He lifts his eyes to meet mine as he nods a greeting. My heart flips.

Of course, it would be easier to dislike him if he wasn’t so damn… hot. I shake my head. I hate that about him, too.

“You’re late.” I grab the sound gear from Cay and hand it to him, eyeing the orange-clad harpy of a girl trailing after him.

“I had to pick up Alicia.” He indicates the thing as he straps on the professional sound gear. “And respond to your post on the AP History board about gun control.”

I huff. “You think we should arm everyone with a credit card?”

“What I think is irrelevant, Mason.” Jack’s the only one in the universe who calls me by my full name. “It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted that matters.” He holds out his hand to help me navigate my way over a broken tomb. I ignore it. He smirks, “Or do you not support the Bill Of Rights?”

God, please keep me from throttling him tonight. Cay clears his throat.

“WTF, losers? A graveyard?” Alicia Impestio. Wearing her designer hoodie unzipped so that she reveals way more skin than she has to, her straight brown hair is bleached at the tips and held off of her over-tanned face by some rhinestone-studded catastrophe. I grit my teeth.

“Hey Alicia, glad you could make it.” Cay holds the minicam out towards her and helps her onto the cobbled path of the graveyard.

“Whatever.” Alicia grabs the mini and swats at Cay’s hand as she struggles to gain a foothold. A challenging endeavor, I’m sure, for someone wearing flip-flops in November.

She gives me the once-over, lips curling.

“You really wore that?” She asks, mouth open with disdain.

“Alicia…” Jack’s voice is low, menacing.

“I mean” –she gives me the once-over and sneers- “Aren’t the Kardashians some of you people? They at least know how to dress. But, then again, they also know who their daddy is.”

That’s Alicia: hitting where it hurts. I blink through the stinging at my eyes as my mind races to find something snarky to say…something to…

“Alicia,” Jack snaps. “Stop.”

“Fine, but tell Clay Aiken over there to hurry it. I’m cold.”

Jack makes a motion with his head to indicate that Cay should ignore her as he adjusts the weight of the portable boom on his back.

“Okay, I’m filming.” I say and catch the low-hanging harvest moon before panning down to Cay. “In three, two, one…”

“This is Cayden Robison of Chase Hills High Broadcasting reporting on site at Hillside Cemetery. In 1734, three witches were reportedly hung just up the road, on the town green and buried, here, in this cemetery, in unmarked graves.”

“Then, in 1864, three men were arrested for grave digging, and ever since, people have reported strange things not only here, but especially out behind the burial grounds, in the woods.” Cay runs his hand along the top of a worn tombstone.

“Reports of paranormal activity really began to pick up in the past thirty years.” He pauses, and I pan the camera over to the creepy oak and the broken bench beneath it, hands a little unsteady. “Some people claim to hear voices, others see full-body apparitions, but most convincingly, in the 1980s, some kids back here partying say that they found satanists performing rituals in the woods. They watched as the group made a make-shift temple of one of the half-buried barite mines in the woods, and claim that the men actually raised a demon.”

He stops, looking intently into the lens of my camera. I flex my fingers, my breath rushed, like I’ve been running.

“Tonight, we’re going to dig for the truth and see if Hillside Cemetery is actually haunted.” Cays smiles.

Deep breath, May. It’s just a story. Fairytales. There’s no such thing as demons, or ghosts.


About the author, Madeleine Wynn Madeline Wynn

Madeline Wynn holds a master’s degree in procrastination. When she’s not writing, she can be found ghost hunting, gardening and parading around her home state of Connecticut with her husband, dog and two kids.

Her latest book is the YA paranormal, Daughter of the Fallen.

Connect with Madeline

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter.


GIVEAWAY

Madeline Wynn is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
• This giveaway begins November 3 and ends January 31.
• Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, February 2.
• Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!
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Review: Early Decision by Lacy Crawford (@lacy_crawford)

About the book Early Decision Early Decision

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 26, 2014)

A delightful and salacious novel about the frightful world of high school, SATs, the college essay, and the Common Application—and how getting in is getting in the way of growing up

Anne Arlington is twenty-seven, single, and in demand: she is the independent “college whisperer” whose name is passed from parent to parent like a winning lottery ticket, the only tutor who can make a difference with the Ivy League.

Early Decision follows one application season and the five students Anne guides to their fates: Hunter, the athletic boy who never quite hits his potential, a kind, heavily defended kid who drives his mother mad; Sadie, an heiress who is perfectly controlled but at the expense of her own heart; William, whose intelligence permits him to dodge his father’s cruel conservatism but can’t solve the problem of loneliness; Alexis, a blazing overachiever whose Midwestern parents have never heard of a tiger mom; and Cristina, who could write her ticket out of her enormous, failing high school, if only she knew how.

Meanwhile, Anne needs a little coaching herself, having learned that even the best college does not teach a person how to make a life.

In this engrossing, intelligent novel, Lacy Crawford delivers an explosive insider’s guide to the secrets of college admissions at the highest levels. It’s also a deft commentary on modern parenting and how the scramble for Harvard is shaping a generation. Told in part through the students’ essays, this unique and witty book is so closely observed that it has been mistaken for a memoir or a how-to guide. A wise and deeply felt story, Early Decision reveals how getting in is getting in the way of growing up.

Buy, read, and discuss Early Decision

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About the author, Lacy Crawford Lacy Crawford

For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor of Narrative magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Crawford lives in California with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lacy

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My Thoughts

If you, like me, remember being flooded with college applications in high school, each one more interesting and attractive than the last, then this book, Earl Decision is for you.

The story is fresh and original – instead of a coming of age novel about one kid getting into his or her dream school, it’s a novel about a woman, Anne, who gudes kids toward finding the school that best matches their dreams, allowing both the kids and Anne herself to come of age along the way.

Anne is twenty-seven, but that’s not important. Coming-of-age is something that can be done no matter what age you are. Some of us are still doing it in our forties – figuring out our dreams, our desires, and how they mesh with the prosaic reality of everyday life.

But I digress. What I loved about this novel, was the crisp, contemporary language, and the way Anne adapted her use of language for whatever situation she was in. Talking with a bigwig lawyer, she used more formal speech. Speaking with a lazy high school boy, she turned to soft joking. It’s a skill we all need, and many of us lack.

I also thought the book felt cinematic. I could totally see it as a movie on ABC Family or Lifetime, with a quartet of well-scrubbed twenty-year-olds playing the teenagers and Amy Adams or Allison Mack (has she done any work since Smallville) playing Anne. What I mean is, the places described in this novel felt real. You could feel the air conditioning, hear the lawn mowers, taste the tea.

Finally, I thought the convention of showing us the examples of student essays was fantastic. It took me back to my own high school days, and the endless practice essays our teachers would make us write. (I confess, my default essay mode is a five-paragraph persuasive essay to this day.)

Whether you’re looking at colleges right now, or have a child who is approaching the application frenzy, this novel will entertain and educate, and never disappoint, except when you reach the last page, and realize it’s over.

Goes well with A fruit and cheese plate and mango iced tea.


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