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SHE LAUGHS IN PINK by Jessica Calla: Hot Read – Deep Characters

She Laughs in PinkLooking for a hot summer read with a cast of wild characters, a lot of fun, and just a touch of magic? You found it in SHE LAUGHS IN PINK!

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Four years after her twin is murdered, Juliet Anderson still struggles with guilt, her parents, and her relationships. Two things keep her from falling into a deep, dark place—dancing and her best friend, Ben. So when Ben decides to play football for New Jersey University, Juliet doesn’t hesitate. She follows. Finally away from her past, there is nothing to stand in the way. Juliet will win Ben’s heart.

Then she meets Ben’s roommate, Chase.

On probation and hell-bent on adhering to a “new life plan,” aspiring artist Chase leaves his New York City home for New Jersey University and meets Juliet before even stepping foot on campus. For him, their connection is instant. She’s the most vibrant girl he’s ever seen. Her colors explode on his canvas, and he’s never been more inspired in his life.

Too bad she’s madly in love with his seemingly perfect, good guy roommate.

Calla has an exceptional ability to create deep characters with dark pasts who we root for all the way. I never felt like I was overloaded with backstory and was eager to hear about Juliet and Chase. They are each, in their own way, fighting to move on with their lives and in doing so, smack right into each other.

Sheridan Hall, the dorm where Juliet and Chase reside, is always active. It’s diverse cast of characters help to create an atmosphere that makes the college experience very believable!

To backtrack a bit–I picked up this title after reading Calla’s THE LOVE SQUARE because I enjoyed the spin she put on the love triangle trope and was looking forward to another cool, outside-the-box read. I wasn’t disappointed.

The air between Juliet and Chase sizzles despite Juliet’s chasing her best friend, Ben and Chase dealing with pressures from home. Chase is an artist and sees straight to Juliet’s essence–sees it in color, in fact. Chase has the ability to see auras. He begins to paint them–ballerina Juliet dancing and laughing. Laughing in pink.

But before Chase and Juliet can have their happily ever after, they need to reassess their own goals, decide what really matters, and face a tragic event that sweeps in at the end of Act II. I’m all about bittersweet endings, and–not giving this part away–I have to say, the ending of this book was perfect. 

I hope you check out SHE LAUGHS IN PINK and Calla’s incredible debut title THE LOVE SQUARE! To visit her webpage, click here.

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Read These Books–OR ELSE!

Or else…you might miss some off the best books you’ll ever read.  The following are a few notable titles I’ve read recently–both YA and adult–that I highly, highly recommend.  Enjoy!

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse AndersonI’m absolutely blown away!  This is my third LHA book, and she’s really impressed me with her range as a writer.  The tone of this book is so much more somber and it’s subject matter so much darker than the funny, upbeat Prom, but no matter what LHA writes, her voice remains true to her characters.  A bonus–this book is full of little details that put me right back in high school.  LHA has perfected adolescent cynicism.

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonI’m one of those weirdos who loves to ponder alternate realities, the multiverse, etc., and this book did a beautiful job of illustrating that concept.  Atkinson SHOWS us rather than TELLS us what an array of alternate realities would look like for a character who at times seems to be the center of it all and at others seems to be nothing more than a pebble swept up in the turbulence of change between realities.  If that isn’t enough, this novel doubles as an historical in which Atkinson paints a clear picture of Britain (and at one point, Germany) during WWI and WWII.  We follow Ursula as she dies and is reborn, her character evolving in a way that does not alienate reader but attaches us to the many versions of this girl.  We root for her as she dies again and again, both succumbing to fate and fighting against it.

ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellA sweet, powerful reminder of what first love is like–especially if you were an outcast. There is 80s nostalgia all over the place, but setting the book in the past just makes the timelessness of this kind of love that much stronger.

I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER by Sophia Kinsella

I've Got Your Number by Sophie KinsellaI actually read this a while ago, but after several Kinsella books, it’s still my favorite.  Blew away Shopaholic. Better premise than The Undomestic Goddess–and that was really good.  Kinsella’s comedic timing improves over the body of her work.  She is laugh out loud funny in a way that will make you gobble up her books in one day. I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER has wave after wave of comedic set up and pay-off–a sexy slap-stick delight!

Stick Figures

To Skim or Not To Skim?

imageBack in the days when I spent my hard-earned, part-time dollars on paperbacks at the old B&N, I read books cover to cover always.  Now that I have less time and virtually limitless access to books both inexpensive and free (oh yeah, the library–what was I thinking?!), I find myself growing impatient with some books.  So, I occasionally succumb to what I once considered a grave insult to the soul of a book.  I skim.

I usually hit the threshold of, “Yup…gonna skim this,” for one of two reasons.  I might find there are no layered plots, new interesting characters (that add to the existing story), or instances of rising tension to carry me along.  It just draaaaags.  Or maybe the book has the opposite problem–a bunch of new characters, settings, and problems drop in seemingly out of nowhere and proceed to bump around like plastic toys in a washing machine–ruining what was a delicately woven story.

When I skim, it’s no more than 10%–I swear!.  I skim for sanity because otherwise I’d take what seemed like a very promising book and hurl it at my backyard gnomes.  My gnomes deserve more respect than that.

I can’t really blame the writers on this–only my own lack of patience.  I’m struggling toward an ending right now that makes me want to chuck my laptop out, too so that it spins end over end before landing happily in a flooded ditch.  I know how hard it can be to first envision a fitting conclusion and then get your characters there without taking a major detour through the Oh-My-God-Where-The-Heck-Is-This-Going Forest.  Still.

Do you skim?  How do you feel about skimmers?  Would you like to throw us in a ditch?

Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Mission: Annoy Everyone By Reading Like a Writer

imagePeople who read like writers add layers of complexity to their understanding of written work.  We reverse engineer novels, trying to figure out exactly how an author put it all together.  This is in addition to normal regiment of deconstruction we usually apply to books, picking out theme, structure, figurative language, characterization, conflict, etc.

Why do we do it?  It’s…well, it’s fun!  Narratives are like abstract puzzles.  In my mind, they’re meant to be taken apart and their pieces examined to see how they both echo and add up to the larger whole.

I wonder about the process of a writer. How did this masterpiece (or pile of mush) I’m reading come to be? How can studying the choices the writer made help me improve my own writing?

When you read like a writer, you annoy the people around you by over-analyzing everything.  This is part of the fun…and boy am I going to have a lot of fun with you.

So here I present a new mission I’m adding to my blog: to deconstruct good YA paranormal books, focusing on what writers can learn from them.

My job and hobby make it difficult to find time to read, but I aim to get in as many quality books as I can.  Now, I need your help!

Have you read any YA paranormal books (preferably romance) that will blow my mind and keep me up all night thinking?  I’m looking for books that are well-written exemplars for writers to use as a model for their own craft.

Hit me with some good books!

Michelle Joyce Bond