Archive for April, 2011

Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Others In Series: Hunger (available), Loss (coming soon), Breath (coming soon)
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 213
Original Release Date: April 4, 2011
ISBN#: 9780547445281
FTC Disclaimer: Received ARC from publisher for the purpose of an honest review.
 
 
Rage (rj)
n.
1.
a. Violent, explosive anger.
b. A fit of anger.
2. Furious intensity, as of a storm or disease.
3. A burning desire; a passion.
intr.v. raged, rag·ing, rag·es
1. To speak or act in violent anger
2. To move with great violence or intensity
3. To spread or prevail forcefully
 
 Missy has a burning desire to relieve an overwhelming pain. This is a book about channeling pain into purpose. Missy moves against herself with violence and intensity. This is a book about finding balance, and gaining control. This is a book about rage, and a book about hope.
 
Melissa Miller is a high schooler with a few good friends, a love of soccer, an ex boyfriend she’s still got mixed feelings about, and a family that loves her, but doesn’t quite understand her. Sounds pretty typical, right? But Missy also has a secret. When things in her life start going very wrong, she can’t control the crushing feelings and pain she has. She creates an outlet for the pressure with a tool she keeps inside a lock box in her closet. Missy cuts herself. She has a driving need to release the toxic pain she feels by shredding her skin and bleeding out the hurt. What Missy doesn’t realize is that one mistake following a particularly horrible evening will change her life forever. One mistake will bring Death to her door. And Death will bring War.
 
I have to admit, this book was icredibly hard for me to read. I have never considered making the choices Missy made. I have never thought that doing myself harm would somehow make any situation better, or make me feel like I was in control of something that was spinning out of control. I can say, however, that I am so very grateful to Jackie for writing this book, and for the insight it provides for someone like me. Missy appears to be, for all intents and purposes, a normal girl. A “goth girl” with some attitude, maybe, but a normal girl all the same. What makes her so compelling is her struggle to fight through some pretty overwhelming circumstances. The choices she makes, and the results of those choices, are very real for an alarmingly high number of people.
 
What most people will never experience, however, is discovering a Cobain-ified Death, from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in their room, offering them the mantle of War! This story builds itself around Missy’s compulsion to harm herself, and her crash course in War’s desire to cause harm in others. Can she learn the control she needs to start healing herself? Can she become the embodiment of an ancient evil, and do good? Jackie continues the amazing storytelling from the first book in this series, Hunger, and creates in depth characters that pull you into the story. We meet the new Famine and are introduced to Pestilence. Both adding some perspective on Missy’s battle with War. This is not a happy book. Oh, to be sure, there are some fantastic one liners and clever banter that break up and brighten some of the darker points in the story. Death is always good for equal parts snarky wit and enlightenment. It IS a book, however, that will make you care. Your heart will break when Missy’s humiliated (trust me, I’ve never wanted to punch a fictional character so much IN MY LIFE) and it will swell with pride as she learns how to create a better life for herself.

 Jackie did a lot of research for this book, and part of the proceeds from sales will be donated to a resource and support group for individuals dealing with depression, self harm, and suicidal feelings. To Write Love On Her Arms was created to help people who find themselves in situations similar to Missy’s. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Whitney, from TWLOHA to ask her about Rage. What she thought of the book, and how Missy’s experiences were portrayed. Below is her brief review of the book, and a few questions she was kind enough to answer for me.

 
Rage is a short novel, but it is full of so much emotion and weight.  It is heavy, and reading it feels real in a way that the reader shares the weight Missy carries on her shoulders.  This book definitely packs a punch, and I think it will spark meaningful and important conversations about depression, self-injury, and suicide.  For people who have never experienced self-injury or do not understand how someone could want to hurt themselves, I think this book is eye-opening and raw.  However, for people who have dealt with or are currently struggling with self-injury, this book could be triggering, and I would recommend it be shared with that disclaimer out of respect for each person’s story and journey to know hope and healing in their own lives.  It is so clear that Jackie cares very much about people who are hurting, and I am grateful for writers like her who are trying their best to break the silence surrounding issues such as these.
 

Q:  How do you feel Missy’s story relates to the experience you’ve had with TWLOHA? Is her story typical of the people you’ve been involved with? (Before the supernatural element was introduced, of course.)
A: Missy’s story is definitely relevant to the experience I’ve had with TWLOHA.  When I found out about TWLOHA in 2006, I had a new friend who had just confided in me about her self-injury.  It was an awesome experience to share TWLOHA with her, and seeing her find healing has been amazing.  Working at TWLOHA, I have the privilege to hear stories on a daily basis, but Missy’s story is not the only kind of story we hear.  We hear lots of other things, too:  people who don’t know what to do with the feelings they’re having, people who have tried to end their lives or are thinking about it, people who have lost the ones they love to addiction or suicide, people who want to help others and people who want to help themselves.  Sometimes those stories include self-injury, and sometimes not.  Sometimes they are about rape or drugs or friends or accidents.  All of them are valuable, and all of them have some kind of pain.  We are honored to be trusted with these stories, and we present hope in whatever ways we can.  
 
Q: What is the most important message readers should walk away with after reading Rage?
A: I think the most important thing readers should keep from the book is Missy’s journey to self-acceptance.  Her self-acceptance is what allows her to overcome her need to self-injure and allows her to be in control of her own story.  She is broken and hurting, but she is also beautiful and strong and such a fighter.  I think when people are in the grittiness of struggle, they forget the ways they are fighting, the fact that they are still alive despite everything that has fought against them.  Missy realizes her own strength, and I believe that is such a huge part of learning what it means to live a healthy life.
 
Q: You mentioned there may be “triggers” for people dealing with self injury. How can we identify the line between honest reality in storytelling, and too much reality?
A: This is a difficult line to walk.  We, as an organization, do not believe something is less valuable because it is triggering, but we choose not to post most things if they are triggering to respect our audience and whatever they may be dealing with when they visit our site.  When I spoke with Jackie about this, I mentioned how great this story is at helping people who do not understand self-injury at all come to a place where they actually see what it is like to struggle with self-injury.  However, it is triggering in some ways, such as the way Missy’s lockbox is spoke of with delicate reverence and that there is a ritual she follows.  So, the line between honest storytelling and triggers in this case is mostly about language–it’s not what is told but how it is told.  I want to make sure I’m clear, though–I think Rage is a story worth telling, and I am glad to have read it, but it is not a book I would recommend to a recovering self-injurer and especially not to someone who is currently struggling. 
 
Q:  What would you suggest as some alternatives for people who feel the kind of pressure Missy does, and believe self injury is the best outlet for relief?
A: This is actually a question we get a lot from people who write to us who have or are struggling with self-injury.  We encourage them to find healthy ways to cope that do not bring harm to themselves or others.  As examples, we encourage people to write, paint, draw, or something else creative, as well as suggesting running and exercise as a physical expression of what is inside them.  Self-injury is sometimes a way for people to release the negativity that feels trapped inside.  So, we encourage them to find other ways to release those emotions without hurting themselves or anyone else.  We also emphasize the importance of allowing another person to walk with them through their pain, to trust another person with their struggles.  It can be a friend, a teacher, a school counselor, a family member, or a mental health professional.  It is such an important step in healing.

Q:  How can people find / access TWLOHA resources in their community? If there isn’t any local resource, how would you start something?
A: On our website, we post resources for every issue we address.  Most of them are nationally recognized organizations, and some of them are counseling centers.  We try to connect people to help in whatever ways we can.  If someone doesn’t find what they need on our website, we always encourage them to search around in their communities–for high school students, we suggest the guidance office; for college students, the counseling center; and for adults, a local mental health organization or treatment center.  Help is out there–it may just take a harder look to find.

You can find out more about To Write Love On Her Arms HERE.

As much as Hunger brought to light some unpleasant truths about eating disorders, Rage exposes us to the seemingly incomprehensible choices of those dealing with the kind of pain that literally tears them apart. It’s an important book. I am proud to have shared the journey with Jackie, and with Missy.

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“BLANK” Makes Me Happy – Jackie Morse Kessler

Posted April 29, 2011 By Jennifer

This month’s feature belongs to a woman I have an enormous amount of respect for, Jackie Morse Kessler. Her Riders of the Apocalypse series for young adults is tackling some serious subjects, and she’s doing it with a fantastic balance of fact, humor, and incredible imagination.

The second book in the series was released earlier this month, my review, and the thoughts from a member of To Write Love On Her Arms can be found HERE.

Jackie had this to say about what’s making her happy these days…

Quiet Times Make Me Happy by Jackie Morse Kessler

First, the context: extremely busy full-time day job (telecommuting, but that just means I work a lot in my PJs); two kids under the age of 10; a loving husband who goes to work and to school; house-stuff like laundry, groceries, dishes and yardwork-no-wait-make-that-snow-throwing; new-book promotion; writing the next book under deadline (EEEEEEEEEEEK). Doing tae kwon do is my major stress reliever. (Yes, I kick people to relieve tension. And they LIKE it!) 

So, this: At night, after the kids are in bed, Loving Husband and I go downstairs, grab a little junk food (my current favorite: Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut chocolate squares and a cup of tea), sit on the sofa and watch some television. It’s our alone time. It’s quiet time. It’s just a moment in a busy day when I’m with the one I love, having some chocolately yumminess and vegging in front of the tube.

My quiet time is my breathing time. It’s good. And it makes me happy.

🙂

Awwwwww… yay for quality down time with the huney 🙂

Here are a few questions I had for Jackie about her happy thing, and about her newest release, Rage.

ME: You have a full time job that allows you to work in your PJ’s? I’d like to go to work in MY PJ’s… would that be ok with you? Would you buy books from someone wearing PJ’s?

JK: I would totally buy books from someone in their PJs. Not only does it show incredible fashion sense, it indicates that you live, eat, and sleep books. 🙂

ME: What’s your proudest accomplishment in tae kwan do?

 JK: Breaking boards! Seriously, breaking boards just rocks. Especially when I don’t break my body in the process.

ME: There seem to be quite a few adult fiction authors who are stepping into the YA paranormal arena. Do you think it’s because the YA readership is increasing, or is the readership increasing because more established authors are writing for it? Is it difficult to arrange your story for a younger audience?

JK: It’s so wonderful that there’s a huge teen market that is hungry for books with teenage protagonists. As YA continues to thrive, there’s every reason in the world for authors to write YA novels. I think it’s less about moving from adult to YA and more about writing more books for more audiences.

In terms of writing YA versus writing adult…it’s all about the story. There are certain things I keep in mind — the lack of graphic nookie scenes, for one — but it’s really about getting the story down…same as it is for adult novels.

 ME: What prompted the idea for the Riders of the Apocalypse series?

JK: I had the idea for HUNGER for 10 years; I just didn’t give myself permission to write it. I didn’t think anyone would want to read about an anorexic teenage girl who became the new Famine of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. But my agent convinced me otherwise — hooray!

I’m not the first person to write about this. Marvel Comics did it back in the 1980s, in the comic book X-FACTOR. A teenage mutant with the power to destroy food is recruited by a bad guy called Apocalypse to be one of his Horsemen. So gets a spiffy costume and a mechanical steed, gets the codename Famine, and gets to fight the good guys. Thing is, once the fighting starts, that’s the end of her being anorexic; now she’s just a bad guy.

Eating disorders are personal to me. I’m a former bulimic, and I still have warped body/self-esteem issues. So when I thought about HUNGER, the eating disorders aspect was much more important to me than the fantastical Horseman aspect. If you take the Horsemen out of HUNGER, you still have a story. A very different story, but still a story. If you take the eating disorders out, however, there’s nothing there. Much more magical realism than urban fantasy.

Once I handed in HUNGER to my editor, my agent said to me, “Which Horseman are you going to write about next?” And I was like, NEXT??? Um, can I have 10 years to think about it??? (Answer: No.) Based on the events of HUNGER, it made sense for the next Horseman’s book to be about War. In the book, War carries a huge sword, so it didn’t take long for me to make the connection between that and self-injury, with a teen girl who cuts herself trading one blade for another: the Sword of War.

LOSS, though, was different. The connection isn’t as direct as Famine/anorexia and War/cutting. LOSS is about a bullied teenage boy who is tricked into becoming the new Pestilence.

And BREATH will be Death’s book. **rubs hands gleefully**

ME: The protagonists of HUNGER and RAGE make very different choices in the books. Is there a reason for that?

JK: Yes, absolutely. But I can’t get into that without spoilers for those who haven’t read the books. 🙂 As River Song would say, “Spoilers…!”

ME: What kind of research did you do when writing Rage?

JK: Lots. Unlike with HUNGER, I had no personal experience with the major issue of the book. So I went online (thank God for Google) and began to research self-injury.
Along the way, I found a terrific website. Secret Shame has a lot of information about self-injury—what it is, and what it’s not. Without the candid information posted there, I doubt I could have written RAGE.

ME: Even with the harsh topic of the book, you managed to blend in lots of great, funny comments. Death actually has some of my favorite lines. How difficult was it to balance the serious theme of the book, with enough comedy to keep it from being overwhelming?

JK: I think it comes down to the narrative flow. It’s not like I tell myself, Ooh, Death needs to say something here to cut the tension. When I write, he (or other characters) will say something a little offbeat to give the readers (and the protagonist) a chance to breathe, you know? And hey: Death invented gallows humor. 😉

ME: I love Ares, can I borrow him?

JK: Sure — as long as you can gentle Ares, feel free! 🙂

ME: Part of the proceeds of Rage are being donated to To Write Love On Her Arms. How did you discover this organization, and how did you decide to include them?

JK: That’s all due to my brilliant crit partner, Heather Brewer. When I was writing RAGE, she suggested TWLOHA, so when I was done with the draft, I checked it out…and I was ecstatic over what I found. The organization is amazing, and it does phenomenal work. I’m proud to donate a portion of RAGE proceeds to TWLOHA.

I actually asked two questions that were deemed too spoilery, so Jackie has given me permission to email the questions and answers to anyone who has read both books and wants to know a little more about some of the storyline decisions she made. You can request in the comments, and I’ll email the two Q&As tonight after Jackie finishes answering questions here.

THAT’S RIGHT… this is your chance to ask Jackie about Hunger, Rage, tae kwan do… whatever. She’s graciously agreed to pop in from time throughout the day to answer YOUR questions! AND… one random questioner / commenter will win a copies of  BOTH Hunger and Rage!!! (Hunger is a finished copy, Rage is an ARC)(Please include your first name and your email so I can reach you if you win.) So… ask away… I can’t wait to see what you all come up with 🙂 And remember to let me know if you want the 2 spoilery questions emailed to you.

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Fun Book Finds – Royal Wedding O_o!!

Posted April 26, 2011 By Jennifer

The big day… it’s a-coming!!

William Windsor (or Wales, depending on who you ask) and Kate Middleton are preparing to walk down the aisle and people around the world are paying VERY close attention to all the details. I’m mildly interested, but there are some people who are really into it… people who would buy THESE fun book finds…

 

and the upcoming…

There are NUMEROUS traditional books, some very average looking, and some VERY ornate, available as well. All describing the prince and his soon-to-be princess from birth to betrothal.

I get it. It’s a novelty. The world was fascinated by Princess Diana, so I can see the interest in Prince William. What I do NOT understand, however, is the need for these, lol…

   

However YOU choose to spend April 29th, I hope you have a ROYALLY fantastic day!

**Reminder… I have not read the books listed in my “Fun Book Finds” features. I work at a bookstore and routinely come across books that make me go hmmmmm. This is my way of sharing those moments with you. If you have read any of these titles and would like to let me know what you thought of them, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you have Fun Book Finds you’d like to share… feel free to pass them along!**

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Easter Hoppin’ Blog Hop…Hop…Hop

Posted April 15, 2011 By Jennifer

Hi guys!! I think I’ve become a blog hop addict, lol 🙂 So many cool places to visit, and so many fun prizes up for grabs!!

Easter is approaching, and rather than interrupt family time for those who celebrate… Danielle (from Lush Book Reviews) and JoJo (from JoJo’s Book Corner) have arranged some Easter funness THIS weekend!


You all know the drill… click on the links for the participating blogs, scope out the prizes, read the rules, and enter! It’s a fun way to discover some new sources for book news, and maybe some new friends… not to mention you could win FREE STUFF!!

As for me… I’ve got a wee basket o’ goodies for one lucky commenter. The basket includes a small journal, decorative post-it notes, small notepad, roll-up bookbag, misc handful of book swag (bookmarks, postcards, & buttons), marshmallow Easter critters, and a $10 gift certificate to The Book Depository.

All you need to do to enter is comment below with the name of the book you’re most looking forward to reading in the near future. (I’m always on the lookout for new books… look at this as your chance to rec your fave upcoming release.) Please make sure you include your first name and email address in your comment so that I can reach you if you win.

Contest starts NOW 🙂 and ends at midnight (Eastern), April 17th. Winner will be chosen and contacted on April 18th, and will have one week to respond with their mailing address or another winner will be selected. I never *require* anyone to subscribe to my site to enter a contest, but I would love to have you along for my silly ride here in bloggerland.

Good Luck to everyone… thanks for hoppin’ by… remember toclick the “hunk-o-bunny” below to check out all the other blogsites participating!!

Easter Hoppin Blog Hop

***** UPDATE*****
Comments are now closed… and the winner has been chosen & emailed. AND THE WINNER IS….

BETH C.

Thank you so much for coming by and entering the contest!! I loved reading all about what people are looking forward to reading. Hope you all come back for the next hop :-). Until then… Happy Reading!

Drop Everything And Read Day – April 12, 2011

Posted April 8, 2011 By Jennifer

Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) Day was created on April 12, 2006 as one way to celebrate Beverly Cleary’s birthday. The American Library Association (ALA) and many of their various branches and organizations adopted it, and now it’s observed annually. You can click HERE and HERE for more information about the day.

Lord knows, I don’t need much of a push to do exactly that… drop everything and read. Unfortunately, it’s not always acceptable to drop work, or necessary errands, no matter how much I’d like to. HOWEVER… this year I’ve taken the day off work, and I intend to D.E.A.R!!  So… with the time issue handled, I come to my next dilemma… which of the many, MANY books on my TBR shelf do I read??

Here’s where you all come in (I hope) to help me out. Below is a small group of titles currently at the top of my “to be read” list. Comment below which one you think I should read during D.E.A.R. Day on Tuesday. The book with the most votes by midnight on Monday, the 11th, is what I’ll read and review. AND… one commenter will be chosen at random on Tuesday to receive a $10 giftcard for The Book Depository as a thank you for assisting me. It’s a WIN/WIN situation!!

These are the choices…

So… let me know which you think I should be reading on Drop Everything And Read Day… please make sure you include your first name and an email addess so I can reach you if you win! And, I’d LOVE to hear what YOU’LL be reading on Tuesday for D.E.A.R. Day 🙂 Will you be dropping everything or juggling everything to read??

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