Posts Tagged With: harper collins

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

“My sport — the special skill I’ve developed my whole life — is surviving, and that doesn’t leave much room for following Cinderella dreams.” – Ramona Blue Leroux

Ramona Leroux’s life in the small town of Eulogy, Mississippi is a well-trod, predictable path. She knows that her mother will always disappoint her; that her older sister Hattie, will always need her; that her dad will work himself into the ground; and that she is a lesbian. As she starts her senior year of high school, flush with summer romance and the rising quicksand of her life in Eulogy blocking out the horizon, it seems that life will go on in this fashion indefinitely. 

At least, it seems that way, until her childhood beach buddy, Freddie, moves to town with Agnes, the grandmother who raised him, and her husband, Bart. As a kid, Ramona lived in the water (hence the nickname). Along with the reappearance of her summer family, she starts swimming again. The novel unfolds from August through the end of the school year in June. As the story progresses, we see how deeply Ramona’s family ties and socioeconomic status, more so than her sexuality, impact how she views herself, her future plans, and relationships. No matter what opportunities and burdens land on her doorstep, Ramona views them through these lenses.

As Ramona grapples with what her burgeoning attraction to Freddie means, she also has to deal with her mother’s belief that her daughter is going through a lesbian “phase”. The thought of being open about her feelings for Freddie is more about how other people, like her mother and her friends Ruth and Saul, might react. Ramona finds herself in a position similar to the one her summer girlfriend, Grace, found herself in when confronted about her “real” sexuality. Are you gay, straight, bi? She sums it up for herself as:

“I choose guys. I always choose girls. I choose people. But most of all: I choose.” 

I hope this book resonates teenagers who are agonizing over questions such as “What does it mean that I’m attracted to people of more than one gender? Shouldn’t I be one or the other: gay or straight? And what will my friends, family, society think of me if I’m attracted to more than one gender?”. And also, yes, Ramona, I totally agree: dresses without pockets are useless! xD

As an aside from the main review, I wanted to briefly touch on some of the criticism I’ve read about Ramona Blue. It is incredibly frustrating and aggravating that some readers have called this book lesbophobic or claim that it is disrespectful story about a lesbian-identified girl who “finds the right guy” to “turn her straight”. I feel that anyone who has made such emphatic statements hasn’t read the book. As a bisexual, it wasn’t an easy journey for me to accept myself. None of this is meant to erase or downplay the discrimination and ignorance expressed towards lesbians. I’m just saying that Julie Murphy did a great job depicting a teenager’s experiences with discovering her bisexuality (***I’m using “bisexual” as a term to encompass all identities that are not monosexual). 

I won’t give too much away since Ramona Blue doesn’t hit bookstores until next Tuesday. Despite the emotional journey it takes you on, the novel is also a lot of fun. 

Beach blanket tote bag:

                           Swimline Pool Pizza Slice Float blue hair dye red schwinn bike

Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: May 9, 2017
ISBN: 9780062418357
ISBN 10: 0062418351

Available soon from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Be sure to check your local library for digital and print copies!

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Categories: lgbt, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

As I Descended – audiobook review

as i descended.jpg

 

It’s barely fall, but the early mornings are darker and colder. Every sound in an empty room makes me jump a little. Amielynn Abellera’s narration plays a huge role in bringing out the full richness of the story. The eerie atmosphere, setting, and murky moral territory infiltrate every nook and cranny, like fog. As I Descended by Robin Talley draws some inspiration from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Listening to the story with headphones on in a quiet library intensifies the creep factor. 

I don’t believe in Ouija boards, yet I won’t touch one with a twenty foot pole. The story is a deliciously chill, vicarious thrill for those of us who looked under the bed as a kid. It pulls readers into the supernatural and what happens when a trio of friends — Maria, Lily, and Brandon— lay their hands on an antique Ouija board. Be careful what you wish for and never forget to say goodbye.

What better place to invoke the spirits than a private boarding school on a former plantation in Virginia? Ghost stories involving former tenants are dismissed by students, who enjoy being scared, but that’s about it. Maria, on the other hand, has a secret past with spirits and isn’t so quick to dismiss the tales. The story wastes no time in setting the mood with the initial events in the old cafeteria and doesn’t let up. Since the story is told in the third person, you find yourself inside the heads of the primary and secondary characters. The effect shows the increasing doubt, fear, and isolation the students experience as events unravel. The story includes a diverse cast, with no one person being singled out as a “villain” because of their social status, ethnicity, physical abilities, or sexual orientation. Though, that being said, the story shows high school kids at their best and worst…and worst.

~~~~~~~~~~

Amielynn Abellera is perfectly cast as the narrator. Her strong characterizations allow the story to come fully alive. The students that she voices converge on Acheron Academy from different regions in the United States, as well as Puerto Rico. Lily has a soft Southern drawl; Mateo speaks with Spanish accented English. Some students sound stoned, serious, or ditsy. The heights of elation and the depths of fear and despair will crawl under your skin. Abellera’s pacing allows the suspense to build and grab you, but never fully allows you to relax. She doesn’t rush the story or exaggerate her voice for a cheap scare, either.

As I Descended is a great companion for the long, dark nights ahead.

You can learn more about the authors, narrators, and where to purchase a copy of this audiobook via the links below.

As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Narrator: Amielynn Abellera
Produced by Harper Collins
Length: 9 hours, 9 minutes
Release date: September 2016
Audio CD: ISBN-10: 1441708952, ISBN-13: 987-1441708953
Digital Audio: ISBN 9780062571823, ISBN-10: 0062571826

Available as an audiobook from AmazonAudible, Audiobooks, and Overdrive (check your local public library for availability in both eAudio and CD), as well as many other retailers.

Join the discussion on Goodreads!

Categories: audiobooks, horror, lgbt, paranormal, retellings, young adult | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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