Joshua’s Island: Review

Joshua’s Island was an emotional read for me—bullying is such a charged topic. I liked Joshua, and I thought he was very believable. Kids do hide that they are being bullied from their parents, and that’s so heart-breaking.

I also liked Eve, the girl who becomes friends with Joshua. I appreciated that the author didn’t make her perfect, but allowed her to make mistakes and learn from them. She is a stronger character because of that.

The plot was very engaging with many twists and turns, although I found it a little unbelievable that the all-boy Bullying Squad at Joshua’s school had a female leader. Otherwise, I enjoyed Joshua’s Island.

I received a free ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Every Day

It was a great book. 5 stars out of 5. I bought it on the strength of its lovely cover and intriguing description, which in my paraphrase goes something like this: every morning A wakes up in a new body, and he is okay with this until he meets a girl and realizes that he wants to be with her every day.

The book has an unusual plot, and I enjoyed reading it apart from one problem, for which I didn’t take any stars off because…well, you’ll see. So, here’s the problem: A falls in love with a girl named Rhiannon because she looks sad. On the surface, this fact might sound innocent enough, but when you place it into the long-standing cultural tradition of idealizing frail and sick women, it looks much sadder. Here are a few pictures from the said tradition:

Carl Larsson, “The Invalid”

Carl Larsson The Invalid

Leopoldo Romanach, “The Convalescent”

Leopoldo Romanach The Convalescent

Louis Ridel, “Last Flowers”

Louis Ridel Last Flowers

In recent examples of YA lit, female characters are more often klutzy rather than fragile, as it happens for instance in Twilight. But sometimes they are also outright sick (The Fault in Our Stars, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl). So I suppose Rhiannon is lucky to get away with just sadness rather than cancer. 🙂 And also, that’s why I didn’t take any stars off.

You Must Read This if You Are a Literary Character

I loved Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost because it illustrated something I believe 100%: if you become a good girl in the way it is defined by patriarchal society, you will be killed off.

No, I don’t think Prévost meant for his book to prove my point, but it’s a short novel, and he couldn’t quite hide it. 🙂

So here is how it went down: a young nobleman (around 17 y.o.) falls for a very pretty sixteen-year-old girl who is in the process of being shipped to a convent by her family. The two teenagers elope together to Paris, where they live in sin, commit crimes (swindling people out of their money and cheating at card games), and get punished for that with jail time and banishment from France. When they arrive in America, they decide to marry and leave their sinful ways behind them, and what do you know, the girl is promptly killed off, because well, her past wasn’t exactly innocent and virginal, so she can’t be readmitted into polite society. The boy, on the other hand, gets back into the fold of French nobility just fine.

The Coldest Heart: Sinna

Here is Sinna. He is Arab-American, and I created his character with Shakespeare’s Othello in mind. Minus jealousy, though. 🙂

Full name: Sinna
Age: 15
Hair color: black
Eye color: black
Height: 6’3
Abilities: Sinna can make nightmares from which people cannot escape
Hometown: New York City
Favorite food: he loves a lot of foods equally
Favorite person: his girlfriend Demi
Favorite book: Collegiate Thesaurus
Flaws: If too much kindness is a flaw, then Sinna is guilty of that…
Overall: Even after growing up in a prison, Sinna does not think that violence is the right way to deal with life. He adores his girlfriend, Demi, but her fascination with aggression and brutality is starting to worry him.

Demi from The Coldest Heart

And here is Demi. I think this image is such a perfect reflection of her. 🙂

Full name: Demi Diablo
Age: 15
Hair color: strawberry blonde
Eye color: blue
Height: 6’3
Abilities: Demi can kill human organs and tissues with a touch
Hometown: New York City
Favorite food: she hasn’t found it yet, but she loves red meat
Favorite book: Martial Arts Bible
Favorite person: her boyfriend Sinna
Favorite thing to touch: Sinna’s skin
Flaws: Demi and jealousy go hand in hand…
Overall: In another life Demi might have loved sunshine and flowers, but in this one she hates Ever. So many reasons why. Yet the biggest one is that tonight Fox, Ever, Sinna, and Demi will try to escape their prison, and Ever, who is blind and not as strong as the rest of them, will be a burden that could cost them their lives.

Fox from The Coldest Heart

Here is how I imagine Fox might look like. Only Fox’s eyes would be red too, and his hair would be a uniform dark red color, but otherwise, it would be the same soulful look and handsome face. 🙂

Full name: Fox Adams
Age: 16
Hair color: dark red
Eye color: dark red
Height: 6’3
Abilities: Fox can change the color of his eyes, hair, and skin at will
Hometown: New York City
Favorite food: he hasn’t found it yet
Favorite book: A Bid for Freedom: 100 Most Daring Prison Breaks in History
Favorite person: his girlfriend Ever-Jezebel
Favorite thing to touch: Ever’s hair
Flaws: Fox tends to be too domineering and overprotective of his girlfriend…
Overall: His real name is John Adams, but Ever calls him Fox because he’s got red hair, and Fox likes it. He likes everything Ever does to him or with him, except when she disobeys him. That he will fight till the end of the world.

Ever-Jezebel from The Coldest Heart

It took me a long time to find a picture that resembled my idea of Ever-Jezebel, the protagonist of The Coldest Heart. But find it I did, and here it is along with some facts about my brave protagonist.

EVER_with_name 2
Full name: Ever-Jezebel
Age: 15
Hair color: white
Eye color: the right eye is light blue, the left one is indigo
Height: 5 feet
Abilities: Ever is blind, but able to see through other people’s eyes + she is a heart-bender, meaning she can channel any emotion into any human
Hometown: New York City
Favorite food: chocolate
Favorite person: her boyfriend Fox
Favorite thing to touch: velvet
Flaws: Ever can’t remember to comb her hair + she loves Fox too much…
Overall: She doesn’t know who named her Ever-Jezebel—the parents she never knew or the guards who are keeping her captive. She is kind and generous, and despite everything that happened to her, she is not bitter. Her biggest problem is that she listens to her boyfriend too much…from which come all her troubles…

I Got Interviewed by Giovanni Valentino

Hi, everyone! Today I got interviewed by Giovanni Valentino, the editor of Alternate Hilarities: Hysterical Realms.

Here we go…

1. Where did the idea for your book come from?

It’s funny, but I don’t quite remember how I came up with the idea for The Coldest Heart. What I do remember, though, is that before I started working on this book, I came to my husband and told him that I had two ideas for possible books, one about ghosts and the other about a girl who loves her boyfriend very much, but when they get in trouble with the all-powerful Queen of New York, she wonders if he has her best interests at heart. My husband said, “Write about ghosts. Definitely.” So, of course, being a good wife, I went and wrote the other story, and that’s what became The Coldest Heart.

2. If you could meet one of your characters, which one would it be and what would you say to them?

If I could meet one of my characters, it would definitely be Ever-Jezebel, the protagonist of The Coldest Heart, and I would tell her that I am sorry for giving her such a difficult boyfriend. I would also ask her how she liked the Queen of New York. I mean, it’s not every day that you get to fight someone so powerful.

3. Who are your favorite authors?

I love a lot of writers, but if I had to stay with, let’s say, only five, then here they are: Shakespeare, Fedor Dostoevsky, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Brontë, and Emily Brontë.

4. Can you see your book being made into a movie? If so, who would you want to play the leads?

Yes! I’d love for The Coldest Heart to be made into a movie, but I somehow envision it as an animated one. Ever-Jezebel would be drawn as someone resembling Sen/Chihiro from Spirited Away, and Fox would resemble Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. I am obviously a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

5. What part of the writing process is your favorite?

Writing first drafts. It’s like having wings and flying. So much freedom.

6. What part of the writing process do you hate?

Editing. Since I’m prone to anxiety, the final stage of editing is a nightmare for me. Should I leave this paragraph or take it out? Is this the best word to use in this sentence or could I find a better one? Ugh! Recently, after a day of editing the sequel to The Coldest Heart, I went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night, and my first thought was, “No, I don’t like this. Let me re-write this and make it so that I don’t wake up.”

7. What is your next book about?

My next book, To Catch the Day Before, is a sequel to The Coldest Heart. Here is a very tentative blurb: Ever and Fox used to be together in a forever kind of deal, but now Ever wants out, and Fox refuses to let her go. So they agree to play a game of cops-and-robbers for one hundred hours with Fox running and hiding anywhere in the world and Ever chasing after him. The winner will get whatever he wants, and Ever plans to win, but can she really catch someone who can twist time as he sees fit?

8. What type of books do your read for fun?

I prefer fiction, but within that, I am open to many genres. For example, right now I am reading Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost. It’s a short novel about a very young guy who prefers the love of a pretty woman to becoming a priest. It was first published in 1731 and banned for being too racy and scandalous.