Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimée Carter

Goddess Interrupted
(Goddess Test # 2)
By: Aimée Carter
Pub. Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

I really, really loved The Goddess Test, so when I saw The Goddess Interrupted on netgalley, and thanks to auto-approval, I started it that night! I was not disappointed at all. It had everything I could want in a second book.

The book picks up right after Kate and James come back from their sixth month trip to Greece. Kate can not wait to see Henry again, but it isn't going well in the Underworld right now, and what is happening could actually kill the Gods. When Henry and his brothers are kidnapped, Kate takes it upon herself to do whatever she can to free them, even if that means finding her sister, Persephone.

What I love most about these books in the characters, especially Henry. There is just so much to him, but he is such a sad person and I really want him to find the happiness that he so deserves with Kate.

The only thing I had a little issue with was Kate's inner monologues. After a while, the constant repeating of herself was getting very, very annoying. Other then that, The Goddess Interrupted was amazing!

The plot was very intriguing and I loved Aimée Carter's take on some classic Greek myths. The writing flowed very nicely and I was able to finish the book very quickly. It ended on a crazy cliffhanger and I can not wait for the third book! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Shooting Stars
By: Allison Rushby
Pub. Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Walker & Company
Pages: 320
Source: ARC
Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.
When I read the synopsis for Shooting Stars, I instantly thought this was going to be a very quick and cute read, and I was not at all disappointed by the time I finished it.

Jo was a complex character. Her father is a famous paparazzo, and growing up in that kind of household, Jo kind of fell into the job as well. She's extremely good at it, since she looks like she looks like a little kid and can get in anywhere if she just says she's scared and is looking for her mom and dad. It took me a little bit to warm up to her character though, but by the end we were able to see that there were many layers to her. I enjoyed learning about the real Jo.

Ned was an intriguing character. I can't say much without giving anything away, but I love how everything played out with Ned. It was very interesting to see his story play out.

The first half of the book went slow for me, but then this interesting plot twist happened and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I loved where this story was taken me!  

Shooting Stars is a fast read and I think it is definitely worth your time. It's a warm, fuzzy, feel good story that will leave you wanting more!  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cover Reveal: Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning....

Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in the explosive conclusion to Sophie Jordan's Firelight trilogy.

I am in love with the Firelight series and I am so excited to finally read the last book in this amazing trilogy! I think the cover is amazing. I love her hair!

Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us
By: Margie Gelbwasser
Pub. Date: March 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.

Warning! Do not read this book if you are looking for a feel-good story where everything comes together at the end. If that is what you want, then this book is not for you. This book is gritty. And realistic. And also sad.

Told in the perspective of four teenagers-two sisters and two brothers, Pieces of Us tells the story of the lives of these four lost souls. Katie is the perfect teenager-cheerleader, Miss Popular, beautiful, and has a boyfriend that everyone else envies. Her sister, Julie is a nobody compared to her sister. Her own mother loves Katie more and makes it clear everyday. On the other side there is Alex. Basically an all around jerk, but has always had a soft spot for Katie, and his younger brother Kyle, who tries to be a good person, even when his brother is making him do things he doesn't want to do.

Seriously, this book killed me. I felt for every single one of these characters. My main issue was with Alex though. While I know deep down he is a good person (when he was younger, he would take the beatings from his mom's boyfriends so his brother wouldn't have too), he isn't that person anymore. He is probably the biggest jerk I have seen and he didn't even redeem himself, which I was really hoping he would.

Pieces of Us is unbelievably realistic. These teenagers have teenage issues, some worse then others, but all sad. I wanted to hug every single one of them, and tell that one day things will be different and that they will be ok.

Despite the fact that this book didn't end on a completely happy note, there was still many touching moments that made you realize that some of these kids were actually going to be ok. The writing was raw and the plot was very interesting. I would definitely recommend Pieces of Us!   

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (36)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I haven't done an IMM in about a month, so it seems like a lot of books, but it really isn't! 

Asenath - Anna Patricio (via author)
Until Next Time - Amy Lignor (via publisher)
Callum: The Cursed Plan - Melissa Schroeder (via author)
Starters - Lissa Price (via netgalley)
Death of a Dreamer - Alison Behnke (via netgalley)
Kill Me Softly - Sarah Cross (via netgalley) 

~ Physical Copies~ 
Embrace - Jessica Shirvington (via publisher)
Balthazar - Claudia Gray (via publisher)


I borrowed Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris from the awesome Mesa from The Sagacity Quest! I already read and loved it. I will be posting my review soon!

~Breathless Reads Tour 2012~
On Wednesday, February 22 I went to The Breathless Reads Tour at Blue Willow Bookshop here in Houston, TX. I met some awesome authors, including one of my favorite authors, Andrea Cremer (Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose). I also met Beth Ravis (Acorss The Universe, A Million Suns), Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked) and Marie Lu (Legend).  I had an awesome time and got some signed posters and books!

What did you get in your mailbox? Leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Follow Friday # 21

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read! It's a great way to meet new blogger friends!

This weeks question is:  
Activity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most...

This is a picture of my couch in my living room. Behind the couch are my bookshelves. My couch is extremely comfortable and it is where I do all of my reading. Usually cuddled up in the corner with a blanket!

Where do you enjoy reading? Leave me your link in the comments so I can check it out!

Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

In Honor
By: Jessi Kirby
Pub. Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 240
Source: ARC
Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?
I know that 2012 just started, but I can easily say that In Honor is going to be one of my favorite reads of 2012! This book had everything and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy when it was over. All I want to do is read it again, and then again.

A few days after Honor finds out that her brother Finn has died, she receives a letter from him telling her to live her life. The first thing he wants her to do is go to Kyra Kelley's last concert, which somehow, from a war zone, he was able to score her tickets. The day after his funeral, she sets out in his Impala to drive to California to her show. Right before she leaves, Rusty, her brothers best friend shows up and wants to come with her.

The connection between Rusty and Honor was amazing! They have known each other since they were kids, and you could see how they care about each other and irritate each other at the same time! There feelings were so realistic, and they both loved Finn so much that it was nice that they were both there for each other. My favorite parts was when they were sharing stories about Finn with each other.
Now add these awesome characters on a road trip with excellent writing and you have one of the favorite books of 2012. In Honor has everything I could want in a book. It was funny and had heart. I am so grateful that I was able to score a copy of this wonderful book at ALA. It did not disappoint and I would recommend it to everyone and anyone! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer

Notes to Self
By: Avery Sawyer
Pub. Date: November 2011
Source: Author
Two climbed up. Two fell down.

One woke up.

In the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, Robin Saunders has to relearn who she is and find out what happened the night everything changed.

When I agreed to review Notes to Self, I had no idea how much I was going to love this book. Everything about it was amazing. The characters, the writing, the story, everything was beautiful. I have absolutely no complaints!

The book starts off with Robin and her best friend Emily climbing up one of the rides in an amusement park. What started off as something fun to do, turned into a terrible accident, which left Robin with some brain damage and Emily in a coma. Robin is forced to deal with everything alone, while feeling guilty that she is ok and Emily isn't waking up. She also has no memories of the night and doesn't remember what happened or why they were climbing the ride in the first place.

When Robin goes back to school, she is ostracized by everyone, because they all blame her for Emily's accident. Her only friend is Reno, a childhood friend she has since lost touch with. Through her friendship with him, as well as her close relationship with her mom, Robin starts to heal and figures out what actually happened that night.

Written in present tense, as well as in flashbacks, the reader really gets a sense of who Robin is and why her friendship with Emily is so important. I loved watching Robin grow as a person throughout the story.

Notes to Self was beautifully written and it flowed nicely. Robin was hilarious and I found myself laughing so many times. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fell-good contemporary read! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Callum: The Cursed Clan by Melissa Schroeder

(The Cursed Clan # 1)
By: Melissa Schroeder
Source: eARC from Author
Will desire be the answer or the ruin of an entire clan?

As Laird, Callum Lennon feels he has always failed to protect his cousins. Callum’s impulsiveness caused the death of his father and the experience has scarred not only his body, but his soul. From that point on, he made sure to always go with the more logical choice in every matter. When his younger cousin Angus finds clues that might help break the curse, Callum begrudgingly hires Phoebe Chilton to investigate. Callum doesn’t like bringing outsiders into their family affairs. Their life would become fodder for the tabloids if anyone were to find out about the curse. It doesn’t help that the instant he meets Dr. Chilton he’s attracted. But, he doesn’t really have a choice because she might be their last hope.

An expert in archeology, Phoebe has always been dwarfed by her parents’ shadow. Their high standards had her in college by thirteen and earning a second PhD by twenty-two. But her career and her broken marriage have left her needing something more than just diplomas and degrees. She wants to prove that her interest in legends, especially Celtic legends, is as important as her parents’ work. When the Lennon family contacts her, she sees the opportunity to win a massive research grant. With a long-time rival breathing down her back, she jumps at the Lennons’ offer her, hoping it will ensure her the grant. But uncovering the Lennon family secrets, and her attraction to Callum, could prove more than she can handle.

Forces outside the family are determined to ensure that they fail. When an old enemy threatens both the well being of the clan and the fragile new love, Callum will have to choose between believing his mind or his heart.
 I seriously love Melissa Schroeder and she is the only erotic romance author that I read, so when I heard she was writing a new series, I jumped at the chance to read it! I was not at all disappointed in Callum: The Cursed Clan and I am excited for the next book in the series!

Callum Lennon is the leader of his family. He is protective, responsible and serious. Callum, along with his family have been cursed for centuries and it isn't until they find a diary written in different languages and codes that they think they could break the curse. The only problem they have with the diary is that they have to hire an outsider to help them, and this does not sit well with Callum.

He hires Dr. Phoebe Chilton, genius extraordinaire and the attraction between the two of them was hot from their very first meeting! Phoebe will take her job seriously and wants to help Callum and his family. The only problem is she can't get break down Callum's walls to trust her enough.

Despite the hot and sexy scenes, this isn't a erotic novel, which is something different for Ms. Schroeder. She took a leap with this one, writing out of her comfort level and she did an extraordinary job! The plot was really interesting and the story flew by quickly. I am very much looking forward to reading the second book in the series, which will be about Callum's cousin, Angus!! 

Interested in learning more about Melissa Schroeder and her amazing novels? Email me at: Krissy724(@)gmail(dot)com and I will send you some swag. I promise you, it'll be worth it to check it out! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

(Nightshade # 3)
By: Andrea Cremer
Pub. Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Philomel
Pages: 406
Source: Bought
The Ultimate Sacrifice.

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

In the final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Cremer creates a novel with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its final pages. A dynamic end to this breathtaking trilogy.
Wow. I don't even know where to begin. This series is absolutely breathtaking. Bloodrose left me with so many conflicting emotions, I didn't even know how to rate it on goodreads until a few days later. Andrea Cremer is a very gifted author and she has an amazing ability to create wonderful stories.

Even though I have always been Team Shay, Ren always had a special place in my heart, but in Bloodrose, I completely fell in love with him. He is just such a beautiful person, inside and out and I loved seeing that side of him. Calla was back to her kick-ass self. She was in control and confident and I loved that about her. I also loved seeing Shay grow into a man and into the Scion he was destined to become.

The Searchers were just as wonderful in this book as they were in Wolfsbane. I just love them!

That ending literally killed me. I can't even really talk about it. There are no words, but I think it was perfectly done. The epilogue was also very cute and I thought it ending things on a nice note.

If you haven't checked out the Nightshade series yet, what are you waiting for? I don't think you will be disappointed at all!! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Cracked by K.M. Walton

By: K.M. Walton
Pub. Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 312
Source: Bought
Sometimes there's no easy way out.

Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….
This book broke my heart from the very beginning. On one side there is Victor. He is bullied at school by Bull and there is no love for him at home. His parents are horrible. They might be rich and provide for him, but he is completely alone. Then there is Bull. Bull's dad isn't in the picture, his mom is an alcoholic who literally made her child eat mouse crap when he was seven, and his grandfather beats the crap out of him all the time. On the same day, Victor tries to kill himself and Bull tries to kill his grandfather, landing them both in the suicidal psych ward in the hospital. Both boys are in so much pain and are so broken, each in their on way.

My main issue I had with Cracked was that from the description, I really thought that both Victor and Bull were going to bond. I thought that they were going to spill their hearts out to each other, but that did not happen. Bull didn't even talk about his life with the other teenagers in group therapy, and I was really hoping that he would.

The ending was very moving and filled with hope. Overall, I really enjoyed Cracked. It was a very quick read which flowed nicely.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

(The Chemical Garden Trilogy # 2)
By: Lauren DeStefano
Pub. Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 368
Source: ARC
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.
Despite what other people felt, I really enjoyed Wither. I thought it was a very original story and I could not wait for Fever. When I got an ARC at ALA, I was so excited and I started it right away. Happy to be back in the world of Rhine and Gabriel, I was on cloud nine! Unfortunately, Fever wasn't as amazing as I was hoping it would be, but it was still a very enjoyable read!

Fever picks up right where Wither left off. Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion and are on there way to Manhattan to find Rhine's twin brother, Rowan. But nothing goes as planned and the two of them keep finding themselves in the worst possible predicaments. Things just kept getting worse and worse for them. My heart broke several times.

My main issue was with the characters. I found Rhine to be extremely annoying. She just kept repeating herself over and over again. As for Gabriel, I absolutely loved him in Wither and I was really hoping to learn more about him and his past in Fever. I was extremely disappointed that this did not happen. I also felt that there is no real connection between Rhine and Gabriel. It seems that they are together for convenience, rather then for love. But maybe that is how it is supposed to be. Maybe she is supposed to actually be with Linden (who I also love) or someone else!

We are introduced to some secondary characters in Fever as well. I really liked Silas. His story was really sad, and I hope one day he finds what he is looking for.

Other then the issues with Rhine and Gabriel's characters, I really enjoyed Fever and would recommend this series to anyone. The plot kept my interest the entire time and the writing flowed nicely. I am looking forward to the third book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy and I can't wait to see everything come together!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review & Author Guest Post: The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson

The Priest and the Peaches
By: Larry Peterson
Pub. Date: December 21, 2011
Publisher: Tribute Books
Source: Publisher
Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s.

Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.

They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The Priest and the Peaches is about the five newly orphaned Peach kids (only one of them is 18, the rest are still minors). Right away you think this is going to be a sad story, and while some parts are, The Priest and the Peaches is also really heartwarming and funny!

After their father died, eighteen year old Teddy and his seventeen year old sister, Joanie are forced to become adults quickly and take care of their three younger brothers-Dancer, Beeker and Joey. While planning their father's funeral, and trying to get everything in order, they realize their father owed a lot of money. Teddy has to figure out how to pay for three months worth of rent, electric, and gas. I really liked Teddy. He was a fantastic older brother and did right by his brothers and sister. He was able to hold everyone together, and he never complained. He was very admirable.

The other characters were also great! The Peach children are hilarious and their father's friends are definitely an interesting set of characters!

While I am not of fan of religious books and the power of God, I really liked how the Peaches religious views were incorporated into the story. They believed that their father was watching them from heaven and helping them by giving them small miracles.

As I said earlier, The Priest and the Peaches was also very funny. So many times I found my self laughing out loud at some of things the Peaches' said. And that funeral? That funeral was one of the most exciting and crazy funerals I have ever heard read about.

This story really is about family. It had a wonderful message and it was just all around a great book to read. I read it in two settings. Everything flowed very nicely and the ending was beautiful!

I would highly recommend The Priest and the Peaches. It is a feel good story, and sometimes you need a story like that!

Today, author Larry Peterson dropped by the blog. Here is what he has to say:
Well, my first novel The Priest and The Peaches is out there for all the world to see and, hopefully, also read. So, let me discuss a topic I rarely broach---my emotions. You have to understand that I am not a kid anymore. I am officially (according to the government) a senior citizen who has been begrudgingly accepting "senior discounts" at restaurants and department stores for some time. Alas, I have thrown in the towel and now look for these discounts and even ask for them. I am what I am---a mid 60's grandpa with eight grandchildren sporting a bald spot. My problem is that inside me is still a mischievous boy trying to free himself from his captor, ME. And yes, sometimes he actually escapes. (It took me days  to make him take off those weird elf ears he wore the week before Christmas).

Having said all of that I now admit that I experienced an enhanced range of rolling emotions when The Priest and The Peaches launched. Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes, my first published book and a children's book, was introduced in January 2011. That provided an emotional ride but this time, well, this is a novel and I am being tossed about by unpredictable waves of feelings. There is a personal pride in the work accompanied by a sense of accomplishment. There are feelings of excitement knowing you can say you are an author. There is definitely a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for those who encouraged and supported me (especially my wife, Marty, and Nicole Langan at Tribute Books). Finally, and this is the under-tow or mini tsunami coming the other way, there is a nagging feeling of insecurity that keeps whispering in my ear, "You wrote a book? You gotta be kidding." Once I get  that "whisperer" to shut up I'll be good to go.
Thank you so much Larry for stopping by and thank you for writing such a beautiful book!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Author Guest Post: Taylor M. Polites

The Rebel Wife
By: Taylor M. Polites
Pub. Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Set in Reconstruction Alabama, Augusta “Gus” Branson's is a young widow whose quest for freedom turns into a race for her life when her husband Eli dies of a swift and horrifying fever and a large package of money – her only inheritance and means of survival – goes missing. Gus begins to wake to the realities that surround her: the social stigma her marriage has stained her with, what her husband did to earn his fortune, the shifting and very dangerous political and social landscape that is being destroyed by violence between the Klan and the Freeman's Bureau, and the deadly fever that is spreading like wildfire. Nothing is as she believed, everyone she trusts is hiding something from her. 

Today I have author Taylor M. Polites discussing the strengths and fears of the female heroines that has helped shape his main character, Augusta in his novel, The Rebel Wife.

In my novel The Rebel Wife, Augusta Branson narrates the story and changes in its telling.  She is a strong woman at her core, but has to wake up and look around her to really activate that strength.  That female strength has always been something that drew me to fiction from the first time I read Gone With the Wind when I was in seventh grade.  That Scarlett really turned my head!  And the books I remember the best, that I enjoyed the most, had equally strong-minded and willful women in them.  Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina.  Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair and even her friend, the very good Amelia Sedley.  Lizzie Eustace in Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds and Isabel Archer in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady.  I could go on and on (but I bet you guessed that already).  Tragic or triumphant, these women captivated me.

But there were Southern women, too, most of them real, who were equally important in helping me find the character of Augusta.  First and foremost, the incomparable Mary Chesnut, revealed through C. Vann Woodward’s painstaking and detailed reconstruction of her diaries.  She was smart and ambitious, but frustrated by the constraints of the masculine world she inhabited.  She made confessions of her disgust with slavery (although that never made her a civil rights activist) and told anecdotes that revealed much about how she dealt with a woman’s sense of servitude.  In particular, there was a story that affected me much and that I used in The Rebel Wife.  One night, Judge Wigfall was visiting the Chesnuts in wartime Richmond.  The judge stayed very late and Mary’s husband, James, pulled her aside, scolding her severely for keeping him talking—about politics, no less!  Mary said she could only laugh to the point of tears.  It was impossible for her to argue with him, yet as hostess, her obligation was to entertain—and doubtless she enjoyed sparring with Wigfall.  She was caught either way and compelled to submit to her husband with no words, only her laughter and tears to protest her situation.

Moments like that reveal both the strength and frustration of women at that time—and these were women of privilege.  Kate Fearn, daughter of a wealthy Huntsville, Alabama family and married into another prominent family, wrote tender, honest and passionate letters to her husband, Matt Steele.  They, too, reveal much about women’s lives in the nineteenth century, their strength and challenges.  When Kate’s sister-in-law, Sallie Winter, miscarries in 1854, Kate and her mother-in-law stay up with her all night as Sallie’s pains increase.  Finally, the doctor is sent for, who gives her “laudanum injections” and “morphine internally” and finally “concluded to bring the thing on as speedily as possible.”  After the ordeal, Kate wrote that Sallie said “that she would not care if she could not see Mr. Winter again for six months, and that she does think men are so selfish to bring such pain on their wives, for a little pleasure to themselves.  She much dreads the idea of getting so again, when he returns.”  Complications from pregnancy and childbirth killed many women.  Kate’s letters are filled not only with discussions of pregnancy, but the health of everyone.  People were haunted by all kinds of predatory illnesses.  The presence or absence of illness and its type was constantly discussed in detail.

These strengths and fears are at the core of the female heroine, real and imagined, and are a major part of my heroine, Augusta.

Thank you so much Taylor for stopping by my blog today! The Rebel Wife sounds amazing and I can not wait to get started on it!

Taylor M. Polites is a novelist living in Providence, Rhode Island with his small Chihuahua, Clovis. Polites’ first novel, The Rebel Wife, is due out in February 2012 from Simon & Schuster. He graduated in June 2010 with his MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. He has lived in Provincetown, Massachusetts, New York City, St. Louis and the Deep South. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in History and French and spent a year studying in Caen, France. He has covered arts and news for a variety of local newspapers and magazines, including the Cape Codder, InNewsWeekly, Bird’s Eye View (the in-flight magazine of CapeAir), artscope Magazine and Provincetown Arts Magazine.

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