Review: The Dark Divide

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The Dark Divide by: Danika Stone

My Rating: 3 Stars

Waterton is a town with dark secrets, and after a summer of murder and mayhem, American ex-pat, Rich Evans, knows exactly how far people will go to hide them. Jobless after the fiery destruction of the hotel he once managed, Rich is charged with arson. Only one person, local mechanic Louise “Lou” Newman, believes in his innocence. But even Lou’s love and support can’t dispel the darkness that’s spreading through the community. Dead animals appear on porches, strangers threaten the safety of the locals, and a fingerprint from the fire is linked to a decades-old murder.

The lonely border town has a new danger: a murderer willing to do anything to protect a web of secrets that links them to the arson.

As the risk of jail or death increases, Rich turns to Lou for guidance and she finds herself in an impossible position. Lou has her own secrets! Does she protect the border town where she grew up, or side with the man she loves… even if it means she can never tell him the truth about herself?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Animal deaths and gruesome murders.

I received this Arc via the author in exchange for an honest review and in participation of the Sunday Street Team. I was pretty excited to hear that Edge of Wild was getting a sequel. I didn’t hesitate to participate in the street team. I am glad to say that I liked The Dark Divide!

The Dark Divide begins with a prologue set in 1970 in Ohio. A student who was protesting for the Vietnam war is shot by a police officer. In the first chapter readers are told that Rich is going on trial for his hotel, which was burned to the ground in Edge of Wild. After a few chapters in it is revealed that the trial will proceed.

On Sadie and Jim’s (police officers) end they receive word from the Ohio police department that the unidentifiable finger print from the hotel break-in is linked to the prologue murder. After that student was murdered a fellow classmate at the time shot the police officer. And no one has been able to find the person. Waterton has yet another murderer in their midst.

The Dark Divide was a fun and twisty book! It is written in third person from various different characters’ points of views. There are emails and police documents. Also flashback’s and Lou’s visions. The Dark Divide takes place in 1999.

The trial was a lot of fun to read about! I was desperately awaiting an answer. I enjoyed Rich’s lawyer and long time friend Stu. He actually knew his stuff. Lou also played a big part in the trial. As did some of the townspeople.

Lou and Rich’s conflict’s about their relationship was well done! Lou has to try and mentally prepare herself to tell Rich some truths about herself. I enjoyed reading about Lou’s character development. And when Lou did tell Rich the truth, at first he was baffled. But then came around to support her.

Rich was under quite a bit of stress throughout the book. Which made it frustrating to read about his character. Although I did grow to like him towards the end. His character development was suburb!

The townspeople were definitely better in this installment. They were actually much nicer towards Rich and way more welcoming! Rich developed some friendships with a few of them. Which was nice to read about.

The mystery wasn’t as strong as it was in Edge of Wild. Nonetheless it was well done and pretty twisty. And yet again completely unpredictable. Some of the questions in Edge of Wild are answered. Jeff Chan makes an appearance. 

There is a new character that comes in, which rocks the townspeople’s relationships. His name is Alistair a movie maker who comes to Waterton searching for the ‘truth’. Alistair’s character does play a huge role in Lou’s story arc and character development.

The backstory regarding Lou’s visions was fun to read about. Alistair also has visions and the two may have known each other in an another life. The mythology behind it and Lou’s mother was really well done! I also liked how their is an expansion regarding Lou’s abilities. You find out that she can do much more than in Edge of Wild

Another towns-person comes in (was on vacation) Levi. He has a lot of hostility towards Rich and Alistair. Levi has some unfinished history regarding Lou’s mother. He was somewhere in between frustrating and interesting to read about. 

I really appreciated that the Japanese internment camps were brought up! Stone did an excellent job bringing it up and making it apart of the story. It was important to some characters’ arcs.

I had a few problems with it. The Dark Divide suffered a bit of middle book syndrome. It wasn’t as strong as Edge of Wild. I really don’t know what to make off the big reveal about Susan Varley. It was definitely not as ground breaking as the reveals in Edge of Wild. Alistair was utterly frustrating to read about! While his point of view was well done, I really really didn’t like him.

Overall I liked The Dark Divide. I will definitely be reading the last book. I highly recommend it. 

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Guest Post: The Challenge of Writing a Mystery

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Hello everyone! How are you all? Today as a part of the Sunday Street Team I am featuring Danika Stone! The topic is The Challenge of Writing a Mystery. Enjoy her post!

 

The Challenge of Writing a Mystery

I love well-written mysteries, especially those that include unexpected twists and turns along the way. (Tana French has a special place on my bookshelf.) But having an idea and bringing it to fruition are two different things and there are some very specific challenges to the mystery genre. These are the ones that post unique challenges to writing.
1. Your setting is MORE than a setting. Having spent much of my childhood in Waterton, I know the landscape inside and out. It’s gorgeous, but eerily remote. When I started thinking about writing a mystery, it became the obvious location for The Dark Divide. Your mystery setting needs to invoke mood. It needs to provide challenges. (Waterton has dubious cell phone coverage, and there are plenty of areas where even an experienced hiker can be lost.) By considering setting, a writer creates a mood that pervades a novel.
2. You need to trick your readers. One of the things that many other genres DON’T require is a specific plan to confuse and confound your audience. Mystery novels do! To create this, the writer must follow a careful approach to laying out the pieces of the plot. Scene by scene they must dole out enough information to weave a realistic story, all the while providing enough out-of-context clues that lead, like a maze, to dead ends. The best way to do this? Have a good mystery editor to help you on the way. My editor, Dinah Forbes, spent her entire career at McClelland & Stewart, editing (you guessed it) mysteries. She gave me the insights on how to tweak the plot so it was both confusing AND satisfying to readers.
3. You need to spread the blame around. One way to keep your readers guessing is to include enough characters and to make each one of them seem somewhat guilty. This way, the readers don’t know and can’t guess (right away) who the killer is. For me, this complex planning was the biggest difference between writing a mystery and other genres. The Dark Divide has a character list at the beginning so that people who’ve jumped into book 2 (and have not read Edge of Wild) can keep up with all the different people in the story.
4. Your readers have to CARE. The level of tension you must build in a mystery novel is unique to the genre. They must be invested in what happens to the characters, and they need to want to know they’ll be okay. To do this, the plot must unravel at exactly the right pace. You also have to keep the stakes high! One trick to doing this is to list all the terrible things you intend to do to your protagonist, then organize them in order from least troublesome (losing a job) to most serious (death). It keeps your plot moving, too!
5. The plot must move like a well-oiled machine. I’m admittedly better at writing first drafts than at editing. (And that’s why it’s good I’ve worked with excellent editors!) Writing a mystery requires a very careful approach to laying out the pieces of the plot and including enough red herrings to confuse the reader. Each edit requires a recalibrating of ALL the other parts. Where a regular YA novel usually takes me a couple rounds of edits to get “right”, a mystery takes twice that. For me, this complex planning is by far the biggest challenge between writing a mystery and other genres, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Review: Waters of Salt and Sin

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Waters of Salt and Sin by: Alisha Klapheke

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

A dangerous romance, a stolen sister, and the mythical treasure that could change everything.

The first in the Uncommon World series, Waters of Salt and Sin combines the epic setting of Game of Thrones with the humor and romance of Pirates of the Caribbean. Perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir and Sarah J. Maas.

To save her sister from starvation and hold on to her relationship with Calev–the high-caste friend she secretly loves–Kinneret sets out for a lost island of silver. But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Help the leader find the island and secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the leader’s fighting sailors will rescue her sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings for one another, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she’ll cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

*Note: This book is clean, but spicy kissing abounds.
*Appropriate for 13 and up

Beware spoilers ahead!

Disclaimer: I received an E-ARC via the author. Apart of the street team. This review is based on the final version.

I heard about Waters of Salt and Sin on twitter. The author’s twitter post about her book came up along with the prequel. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the prequel. Naturally I the next installment. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I read Waters of Salt and Sin so long ago that I don’t really remember the beginning too well. During a job Kinneret takes a huge risk to get some money. This actually results in her sister being taken as a slave. An old family friend tells Kinneret about the treasure and gives her the information to go and get it. In order to get her Avi back, Kinneret makes a deal with their queen in exchange for Avi’s safe return.

Waters of Salt and Sin really surprised me! It is narrated in first person in Kinneret’s point of view. The world was vivid and the magic system unique! I’ve never read about Salt witches before. The Caste system was explained in a lot of detail. A very brutal and cold world. It was easy to imagine myself amongst the characters.

The characters were fantastic! My favourite was Oron. I loved the relationship between the sisters! It was well written and relatable. When Avi is taken as a slave Kinneret doesn’t stop until she can find her. It was realistic. The treasure hunt was a lot of fun to read about! There were obstacles, monsters, and a lot of plan changing.

Kinneret and Calev’s relationship was great! I loved how well the forbidden romance was done. They went through a lot together and supported each other all the way. Especially when Calev killed their queen (he was taken over by a ghost). I was pretty happy when they were able to remain together.

The last part of Waters of Salt and Sin was so intense! I was on the edge hoping for a happy ending. Luckily enough it came and there was a really sweet ending.

My only problem was that there were times when things came easy to the characters. Despite their struggles and living in a cruel world that’s what it felt like here and there.

Overall I enjoyed Waters of Salt and Sin! Highly recommend.  

Guest Post: Brooding YA Hero

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Hello everyone! Today I am participating with the Sunday Street Team and the illustrator Linnea Gear! Below is the guest post.

Guest Post:

How do you come up with character designs? Do the designs match the character’s personality? 

Designing characters is my favorite thing to do because you can literally incorporate anything you want. The designs always match the characters personality and that’s what makes it so amazing! It’s why I love drawing people in general, because every person is so different. They can be tall or short, big or thin.

Do they have tattoos, piercings, scars, or a disability? What does their hair look like, what is their background, do they have gap teeth? It is all so much fun to do! Pinterest is also great place to get character design ideas. Here are some of my favorite:

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Fatima 2

 

Guest Post: Gray Wolf Island

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Hello everyone! Today I am participating with the Sunday Street Team and Tracey Neithercott to bring you a guest post! Below is the Tracey’s answer to my question. 

Guest Post:

What’s you’re writing process as an author?

I love reading about other authors’ writing processes because in the back of my mind I think, “That’s how
I’m going to do things from now on!”

I’m going to write 5,000 words a day.

I’m going to ignore my inner editor.

I’m going to do it all with shiny, Pantene-perfect hair.

Let’s face it: I never, ever have shiny, Pantene-perfect hair. And my process is much less glamorous. It starts with a lot of staring miserably at a blank screen and gradually progresses to grumblings about the pure pain of writing a first draft.

I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I’m not the sort of writer who sees double rainbows and snuggly puppy dogs while drafting. Actually, that’s a lie. I do see those things, but only because I’m procrastinating by scrolling through Tumblr.

So I do everything I can to get myself into the writing headspace. I make a latte or three meant to energize me and/or allow me to procrastinate writing for two more minutes. I put on a sheet mask, because if I can’t have bouncy, shampoo-commercial hair, I can at least try for glowing skin.

As you can see, much writing is happening. To make it go faster, I’ll turn on my Brainwaves app, plug in my earbuds, and let the sound induce the right Brainwaves for a creative state of mind. This is something I used to roll my eyes at before returning to my hard work of staring at the blank screen. Now, though, I’m pretty convinced it helps me get into the writing mode.

I let my brain waves do their syncing thing, pull off the sheet mask, and marvel at my glowy skin. Then I take a sip of latte and start writing.

I do a lot of preplanning, mostly because I enjoy outlining but also because I’m a type A writer who needs to be in control. By the time I start writing, I have a roadmap for the story, including major story points—the inciting incident, midpoint, plot points, climax, and so on—plus the main scenes that connect them.

But sometimes it’s hard (or always it’s hard), so I’ll make another latte and stare at the screen and wonder whether I can shake the story from my brain like water from my ear. (I can’t.)

When the words really won’t come, I create a scene sketch: major events, character arc, setting, and bits of dialogue. It’s enough direction to get me going.

It goes on and on like that for weeks and months and what feels like centuries until, blessedly, I peel off a sheet mask and get to revise.

Now I really do see double rainbows and snuggly puppy dogs.

I don’t need sheet masks or glowing skin because I am on fire. And people on fire don’t waste time lining up mask eye holes.

Instead, I sit down at my computer and make a list of everything wrong with my book. This isn’t hard to do. I’ve been keeping the list in my head since page one.

And that’s how it goes: Working from biggest changes to sentence-level edits, I move through the manuscript until it’s polished. This is fueled by lattes, yes, but also decaf green tea because it’s less expensive and also more practical for nighttime writing.

Sometimes, I’m happy for my process. Like during revisions, when I’m tidying things up and finally seeing the book I imagined in the beginning. Other times I hate it—during those days words won’t come or when they’re the wrong words, or when I feel like the vision in my head doesn’t match the story on the page. But it’s like my critique partner jokes: “Get used to it. We can’t change our process.”

Guest Post: Danika Stone

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Hello everyone! How are you all doing? Today I am participating in the Sunday Street Team to promote Danika’s lastest book Internet Famous. Below is the guest post, info about the book, and some info about the author!

Guest Post: 

 

  • Playlist for the book:

 

  1. “First”, Cold War Kids
  2. “Gold Guns Girls”, Metric
  3. “Here”, Alessia Cara
  4. “Settle Down”, Kimbra
  5. “Goodnight and Go”, Imogen Heap
  6. “Feel Good Inc.”, Gorrillaz
  7. “Dreams”, Beck
  8. “Spirits”, The Strumbellas
  9. “Genghis Khan”, Miike Snow
  10. “How Do You Feel Now”, Joywave

 

About the book:

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High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

About the author:

Danika Stone

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens (All the Feels and Internet Famous) adults (Edge of Wild and Intaglio). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

Review: Girl Out of Water

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Girl Out of Water by: Laura Silverman

Rating: 4 Stars

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating with the Sunday Street Team to help promote this book. I had heard about this book through GR. I liked the synopsis (mostly because of her cousins mentioned) and when I saw it on Netgalley I immediately requested it. I am happy to say that I quite liked this book!

The book begins with Anise surfing and generally enjoying her summer. Anise and her friends are looking forward to this surfing competition (I think). Anise also has a possible romance blooming with a friend of hers.

This all changes when she goes home. Her dad informs her that Aunt Jackie got into a car accident and broke her legs. Anise is in shock and concerned about her young cousins. Anise asks her father whether or not they (cousins and aunt) will be visiting this summer considering the accident. Her father then informs her that they (Anise and him) will be staying with them for the whole summer. This doesn’t sit well with Anise as she had plans this summer and doesn’t like the idea of traveling. 

Anise then informs her friends about this development via text. All of her friends spend the night together celebrating. As Anise is leaving tomorrow and she likely won’t see all of them when she comes back (some of her friends have graduated and are going to university). Anise and her father fly the next day to take care of her cousins.

Wow this book took me by surprise! I was not expecting to like it as much as I did. This book is written is first person in Anise’s point of view. There are some flashbacks here and there as well as text messages.

My favourite part about the book was without a doubt how family had such a big role in this book. There aren’t a lot of contemporaries where family is a major focus. And I really appreciated that! I felt that Aunt Jackie’s accident was handled well. Everyone’s reactions was realistic and I really felt for all of them.

I really liked Anise’s relationship with her father. They were really close. And both supported each other while Jackie was in the hospital. Anise’s mom also played a huge part of the book. Even though she didn’t actually come in. Her mom really shaped Anise as did her father.

I really enjoyed reading about her cousins! Parker and Nash were adorable as was Emily. I liked reading about their interactions with one-another. And how much they looked up to Anise and her father. Especially Emily. I liked how despite Anise struggling to comfort them and give advice, that she didn’t give up.

The romance between Anise and Lincoln was sweet. I especially loved how it didn’t take over the plot. And for once the male lead didn’t have some horrible dark past. I liked how Lincoln encouraged Anise and helped her with her cousins. I also felt that Lincoln having one arm was handled well. And it was interesting to read about.

Anise’s relationship with her friends was also fun to read about! I especially loved the best friend (whose name I’ve forgotten).  The almost romance was also sweet and sad to read about. 

I liked how the internet played a big part of the book. As the was Anise’s way of contacting her friends. It was also fun to read about surfing and skateboarding. Anise is really competitive and I liked that about her.

I really enjoyed Anise’s character. I liked how she subtlety grew throughout the book. It was really heartbreaking to read about her mother and just how much it shaped her as a person. When she moved she lost contact with her friends in fear that they were moving on without her. It was done well and realistic. I liked how throughout the course of the book that Anise found a way to balance her friends and family. The ending really proves it to you. It was sweet to read about.

 I only had a few problems with this book. I did not like Anise’s reaction to moving at first. After reading more I came to understand her reaction because had it been me I think I would’ve had a similar reaction. I especially did not like her friends contacting her and trying to convince her to come back. Her aunt could’ve died and Anise’s friends know this. There were times that the dialogue was off and left the book feeling slightly dramatic. Nonetheless I slight enjoyed this book!

Overall I really liked this book! I highly recommend this book to contemporary fans.