For our stop on the tour, we have reviews of The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond (reviewed by Dorian) and While He Was Away by Karen Schreck (reviewed by Brenna), as well as a guest post by Katherine Bond AND a special giveaway! Keep your eyes peeled for that, because you will definitely want to win one of these books!
While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Release Date ~ May 1, 2012
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley for blog tour
"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say. "The right thing."
He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next.
All she wants is for him to stay. She's been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn't have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there's no denying it anymore. He's gone.
When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.
She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?
While He Was Away had such a description that instantly stood out to me, and I knew it was one I would want to read once it came out. But I was utterly taken back when I was reading it, because it was so much more moving and striking than I ever thought it would be.
- A sympathetic story:
I've never been in either David or Penna's position, so I can't speak for a minute to what they went through as he left for Iraq. I have no idea what that would be like for a couple, but I have to tell you how much my heart bled for the two of them; it was absolute agony as Karen expertly wove her story of David and Penna and their transition to this change. But it was worth it. As Penna questioned the war her boyfriend was fighting in, the nature of love and so much more, I found myself asking the same things along with her.
- A coming of age story:
I really liked that David and Penna were just a bit older than most other YA characters (the story takes place the summer before Penna's senior year begins and just after David has graduated) so they're adults technically, but still very young ones. Penna's struggles with her mother and trying to be supportive for David are perfect indicators of the stage she's at in her own life. I think there's something very endearing about that.
- A REAL romance story:
David and Penna don't live in a fairytale, they live in the real world with very real problems. Their story is one that many couples go through, but isn't as shared as often as it should be. And it's truly heartbreaking to watch it all unfold as you read their story in While He Was Away. All you want is for them to be together, and the aching they feel for each other is so fierce it just radiates off the pages. Yet they are so sweet and caring towards each other, it made my heart melt a little bit for them. THIS is a book couple to root for, and they need that support.
It's also kind of neat to see the other stories going on as Penna explores life without David, and the other people around her. There's a lot to be told with those stories as well, although I wish a bit more background had been given.
This is truly an impeccable story of growing up, and the changes which occur within individuals and in their relationships with those around them. It keeps tugging at your heart, and it just doesn't let go.
The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
Release Date ~ May 1, 2012
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley for blog tour
The day Brigitta accidentally flings herself into the lap of a guy she's never met, her friend Natalie is convinced he's Trent Yves, egotistical heartthrob-in-hiding. When the boy, who calls himself Luke, is nearly eaten by a cougar, Brigitta finds herself saving his life, being swept into his spectacular embrace and wondering if she wants Natalie's fantasy to be true.
As the two spend the summer together raising orphaned cougar cubs, Brigitta still can't be sure of his true identity. But then again, since her grandparents' death, her father's sudden urge to give away all their possessions and become a shaman, and her own awkward transition from girlhood into a young woman, she isn't sure of anything. What is the truth? More importantly, can she accept it?
I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction,(as you can probably gather from all of my reviews) so I am far from being an expert. I have read some though, and out of all of them, this novel I'd have to say is the most memorable. With a really unique protagonist, and situation, I think that this book is definitely worth checking out.
- Brigitta as a character:
I think that we've all read about that girl who thinks that she's so socially awkward and weird, but she's actually really popular and everyone is just charmed by her. Brigitta is not that girl. She actually is just a painfully socially awkward girl, and while it can come off as cute sometimes, it is usually just embarrassing. She has little to no friends, just because of how weird she is. I found that this made her easier to relate to as a character, because she was very isolated people her age. She's been through a lot in her life, and after a point in this novel, you just want to give her a hug. While she did seem to get very swept away by Luke really quickly, I could kind of understand where she was coming from. I mean, a little attention from a boy after hardly having any friends? I would probably be swept away too. She's fascinated by religion, which I found to be really unique too. I tend to find that in most YA, the main characters are either all the way for it, or completely against it. Brigitta was trying to figure it all out, which religion seemed to fit her the best.
- The Role of Religion:
I really liked the way that the religion was handled in this novel. None of it was really preachy, or was forced upon the reader. While Christianity was the main religion that was pushed a bit more than the other beliefs, that was really only because Brigitta had a nostalgic, emotional tie to it because her grandparents had followed Christianity. There were so many other beliefs brought up too, other than the more mainstream religions. I found it really interesting to meet different side characters that came from different backgrounds. This book really handled religion well.
As soon as Luke enters the scene in this book, I was so fascinated by him. He's every other girls dream; tall, mysterious, incredibly good looking, smart. I really didn't judge Brigitta too much for getting so caught up in their relationship, because I loved Luke! I didn't mind the whole "Is-he-Trent-or-Luke" thing, either. It brought about some twists that left me guessing until the truth is finally revealed at the end. Even his character, I found to be really great, though he could be incredibly confusing at times. Overall though, Luke was amazing.
Finding the Real Me by Katherine Grace Bond
Sometimes I feel, as far as social groups are concerned, that I’m sort of a minor hello and goodbye part.
As teens read THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, I’ve been reading my teenage diary. REALLY embarrassing, but it has to be done. How else will I know whether I’ve actually grown up?
I shopped a lot, but thought I looked terrible in the “in” clothes (which included something called “gauchos”.) I went to a folk dance convention, was dumped by my best friend, fought with my mother. My dad yelled a lot. I almost got to be an exchange student in France. I asked a boy named Lyle for his picture every single week.
What strikes me, as I read these awkward entries, is that I expected other people to tell me who I was.
That was the year I followed puppy-like after friends who treated me shoddily, hoping I’d become worthy.
I glowed under the praise of teachers and knew I was smart.
I longed to shake off my parents’ overprotectiveness so I’d be mature.
I was certain my life would be “so great” if only fill in boy’s name here liked me. Then I’d be pretty.
Once, when a brand new song came on the radio, my best friend asked, mid-song, whether I liked it.
“Do you like it?” I asked.
“I’m not going to tell you,” she replied, and I faced the ultimate dilemma: Should I love it? Should I hate it? I couldn’t know until I got her opinion; I didn’t have one of my own. The still, small voice inside me had gone missing.
Though Brigitta in THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, hides the “real she,” she’s still more self-possessed than I was. But I did eventually find the “real Katherine,” and I’ve learned a few things about going from fake to real.
- Create, create, create: write, sing, sculpt, build. What you create is uniquely yours. The more you create, the more comfortable you become in your own skin.
- Pay attention to your body. That feeling in the pit of your stomach may be telling you to get out of a bad situation. That exhilaration in your lungs may be telling you, “I should come here more often.” Your body knows your likes and dislikes—usually better than your friends do.
- Love boldly. Notice what you care about and act on it. Homeless kids? Volunteer at the shelter. Poetry slams? Start an open mic. Your grandmother? Pick up the phone.
- Be an encourager. I’m more myself when I encourage—“calling out” someone’s gift can be life-changing. One of my sweeter diary entries read, “Mary wrote my poem on the front of her notebook. She said, ‘Don’t erase it! I think it’s so beautiful.’” Mary, now a librarian, always encouraged my writing. Now, through TEENWrite, I get to do the same.
I'm going to draw one winner from the comments and they will win their choice of either The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond OR While He Was Away by Karen Schreck! Sourcebooks Fire is sponsoring this giveaway, and it's open only to US and Canadian addresses.
To enter, just leave a comment telling me which book you think you'd relate to more: While He Was Away or The Summer of No Regrets? Make sure you leave a contact e-mail so I can get a hold of you if you win! Standard giveaway rules apply.
I'll draw a winner on May 10th.
Good luck! And make sure you check out the other stops on the tour so you can find out more about these two great summer reads! :)