Downcast – Cait Reynolds

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Blurb: “It’s the start of Stephanie Starr’s senior year of High School, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza. What Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away… But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends. and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence… and nothing can save her from her fate. Except Haley.”

This book was sent to me by Booktrope Publishing and I was also involved in the blog tour for Downcast prior to release. Cait’s post on my blog can be found here.
So let’s get into it!

Downcast is narrated from the perspective of Stephanie, a high school senior coming up to one of the most important crossroads in her life. What doesn’t help this is the fact that her mother is very controlling: dictating everything from what she eats, wears, what she does, who she sees and constantly informs her of health risks. She reminded me a lot of the mum in Stephen King’s Carrie in regards to obsessive control of her child. But not as creepy… Okay maybe a little bit creepy. The only chances Stephanie gets to breathe are at work and school. However, her social status doesn’t make school much of a walk in the park.

One day Stephanie goes to school and discovers that there are some new kids on the block: male twins Haley and Zack Smith. In typical YA fashion, Stephanie takes more of a shine to Haley – he’s mysterious, quiet and drop dead gorgeous. Why wouldn’t she? And of course, Haley seems to like her too. At several points in the book he reminded me of Edward Cullen from Twilight by how he shows up at random times and mumbles a few words.This oddly gave me a bit of  a giggle.  Zack Smith on the other hand is precious and needs to be protected at all costs (me? having a favourite brother? How out of character! *shifty eyes*), Zack does the stereotypical approaching Stephanie and warning her about Haley and that he is just a sexy ball of anger mad at the world.

The introduction of Haley to her life makes Stephanie begin to wonder why her mother is so protective of her. Not only that but why she has never seen or heard of any other family members. Does she have any? Who is her father? Where is her father? These are questions she finally plucks up the courage to ask her mother only to endure negative consequences.

This book is a retelling of Greek Mythology and there’s not a lot I can tell you without giving it away and I try to be spoiler free on this blog. My knowledge of Greek mythology goes as far as the Disney movie Hercules *intro of Zero to Hero begins to play in background* so I couldn’t appreciate those elements of the same level of someone who loves it. But I still enjoyed seeing how they were incorporated to the story.

The aspect of Downcast that stood out to me the most was Stephanie’s character development. She starts off the novel as this timid, inexperienced, isolated teen who gradually builds up her confidence and starts to stand up for herself when the popular girls try to get a few digs in.  She becomes self-assured and such a strong character that we need more of in YA.

I found the writing a bit awkward in places but that could be down to how picky I am when it comes to phrasing. But when I can’t put a book down, and when I can’t stop thinking about the characters and imagining various scenarios when I am forced to put the book down,  that when I know it’s a good book.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading this, whether you have a big interest in Greek mythology or not, it’s still a very fun read.
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Disney Book Tag

The Little Mermaid – a character who is out of their element, a fish out of water

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Carson Phillips from Struck by Lightning is in his final year of high school and in the process of applying to University. To make himself stand out more on his application he tries to set up a Literary Magazine at the school. But there’s one problem – he isn’t exactly at the top of the social food chain. He uses his outsider knowledge of the populars to try and get them to write for his magazine the only way he knows how: by blackmailing them.
Cinderella – a character who goes through a major transformation

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Pip in Great Expectations goes through one of the biggest transformations I’ve read. He starts off as a lower class orphan boy helping out in his sister’s husband in the forge. When given the opportunity to meet with the mysterious Miss Havisham things for Pip start to take a turn in a brighter direction, and soon he is heading off to London to learn how to become a Gentleman.

Snow White – a book with an eclectic cast of characters

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If you haven’t read Harry Potter then return to the rock you’ve been living under and never speak to me again! For me, it’s frankly impossible to NOT pick this book series for this one. The cast is just so eclectic from the muggles to wizards to squibs to the houses to the animagi and various species.

Sleeping Beauty – a book that puts you to sleep

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As someone with a love of literature who extended that passion on to a university degree, I’ve had to muddle my way through a lot of classics. By far the worst has been Pride and Prejudice which I’ve had to re-read a lot of times. I just find the story so boring and the characters don’t really do much to save the plot. Not to mention Mr Darcy is awful and I can’t understand why anyone could possibly want someone like him.
The Lion King – a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

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The Book of Lost Things follows David, a boy who loves books -especially fairy tales – and loves reading them to his ill mother. Sadly, she dies. Twelve year old David suffers badly from this loss and my heart just went out to him. I wanted to climb into the pages and give him a hug.
Beauty And The Beast – a beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

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Anyone who knows me, will know that I can read a 400 page book in two days if I just sit down and read. I came across this book not long after its release and heard it was a beautiful book (just like the cover!) so I bought a copy. It’s a monster of a book and took me over a month to read because it’s rich and well written. The writing is unbelievably beautiful and I don’t think I will ever find a book as beautiful as this one.
Aladdin – a character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse 

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One specific event in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer really sticks out at me for this one which is what I refer to as “the dog incident”. One day when Mara is coming home from school she finds a dog chained up in someone’s garden. The dog is clearly neglected and when she stands up to the owner, a not very nice man, she walks away wishing that something bad would happen to him. A few days later he is found dead in his home and the dog gets taken away to a better place.
Mulan – a character who pretends to be someone or something they’re not

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This book follows Tris, a sixteen year old who has her choosing ceremony coming up in which she must decide whether to stay or move factions. Each faction operates under a certain personality type and to help decide where you fit best you have to take a test prior to the ceremony. Tris’ results reveal that she fits into three of the five factions which makes her “Divergent.” These types of people are dangerous to society and slowly being killed off. So Tris has to hide the fact she’s Divergent and try to fit in.
Toy Story – a book with characters you wish would come to life 

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Peter Pan is my all-time favourite book and the reason I decided to pursue a life as a writer. If I could have any collection of characters come to life it would be the ones in this story. I can think of nothing better than flying through the sky with Peter Pan and fighting pirates with the lost boys.
Disney Descendants – your villain or morally ambiguous character

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One of my favourite “villains” is Camille Belcourt from The Mortal Instruments series. She’s just so sassy and evil and yay for vampires. She messes things up between Alec and Magnus but I love everything she does in this series.
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Divergent Thinking – Edited by Leah Wilson

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Blurb: “Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy has captured the hearts and thoughts of millions of readers. In Divergent Thinking YA authors explore even more of Tris and Tobias’ world. With a dozen smart, surprising mind-expanding essays on all three books in the trilogy, Divergent Thinking provides a companion fit for even the most Erudite Divergent fan.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

The last time I read a book like this was Shadowhunters and Downworlders and I loved it. There’s something truly wonderful about reading essays from a bunch  of authors about sections of a series you’ve come to love talking about. Here we have Divergent Thinking where the series of focus is… you’ve guessed it. Divergent.

There will be some spoilers in this review as the book itself has spoilers. So if you haven’t read the whole series, I would wait before reading this book… or this review if you fancy coming back to it in a later time.

I’ve decided that the best way to formulate this review is to do a breakdown of the contributors and their chapters. So here we go!

“From Faction to Fire Signs” by Rosemary Clement-Moore

“We like books that put our heroes into boxes so that we ca enjoy watching them break out.” 

This chapter focuses on the faction system and why we, as readers, love stories where people are sorted into groups. She talks about how she thinks it is the reliability. I’m sure all of us have read a book/series with groups and matched ourselves accordingly: “I think it’d be in Erudite because I value knowledge”, “I think I’d be in Hufflepuff because I’m kind”, “If I was in the shadowhunter world I’d be a warlock.” We love to attach labels  to feel more involved in the world, to bring it even more to life.

“Divergent Psychology” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

“Psychology can explain the significance of the five factions, what it really means to be Divergent, and why, as readers, we’re faced with the same challenges that Tris confronts: to look beyond the simulation, to carve out an identity, to find the place where we belong.” 

Divergent raised the question of who we are, what we are and where we belong through the use of the faction system. Are we too selfish for Abnegation? Too afraid to be Dauntless? Not passive enough for Amity? In this essay, Jennifer examines the personality traits linked to each faction and talks about how they affect our open-ness to experience new things.

“Mapping Divergent’s Chicago” by V. Arrow 

Sadly I don’t have a quote for this one, but this was definitely one of my favourite chapters in the whole book. V. Arrow basically, as you’ve guessed from the chapter, looks at the Divergent Chicago and compares it to real world Chicago as we know it and maps out where she thinks the different factions would be located, where the Erudite headquarters would be, the Ferris wheel used in the capture the flag game.

I have never been to Chicago but I found it really interesting to read this chapter.

“Choices Can Be Made Again” by Maria V.Snyder and Jenna Snyder 

No opening quote again but in this chapter mother and daughter Maria and Jenna discuss something we all have to face countless times in our lives: choice. Whether it’s deciding what university to go to, whether we want to go at all, or deciding whether to order takeaway. We all have to make choices.

The discussion focuses on how real world choices are fluid. If we decide we made a mistake, most of the time we can put it aside and start over, but those in the world of Divergent who attend the choosing ceremony don’t get a second chance to start over. There is no trial run. The only choice you have is to pick where you want to go and stay there. They don’t get to say “actually I don’t mind giving Abnegation a go.” Once Tris chooses Dauntless, she has to go through jumping off moving trains and getting beaten to a pulp in order to fit in.

“Ordinary Acts Of Bravery” by Elizabeth Norris 

“Fear isn’t an enemy of bravery. Driving people to free themselves completely from fear doesn’t necessarily mean their actions will be brave. Fear is what makes people brave – feeling afraid, yet acting in spite of fear.”

This chapter tackles the different kinds of bravery: acting in spite of fear, standing up for one another, the need for the truth and being honest all the time.

As we all know, Tris likes to keep hold of her secrets, mainly, her Divergence. She stands up for Al and takes his place in front of the target so Four throws knives at her instead. She doesn’t tell anyone that she killed Will until Candor’s truth serum forces her to. Does this make her brave?

“Fear And The Dauntless Girl” by Blythe Woolston 

“If fear can be learned through conditioning, it might be possible to unlearn it.” 

Naturally fear plays a big part in Divergent in the form of the fear simulation test. Blythe discusses how if we can learn to fear things from seeing others afraid, it may be possible to unlearn this as we see when Four allows Tris into his landscape and tells her to react logically “the way a Dauntless would.” This chapter also discusses how we may see someone’s fear as irrational but to them it’s completely rational. For example, Four’s fear of heights: if you fall from high up, you will go splat.

“They Injure Each Other In The Same Way” by Mary Borsellino 

Mary brings up a very interesting point that I overlooked when reading Divergent : Tris views her parents as just that, parents. However, when she changes factions, she begins to see them as individuals.
“Secrets and Lies” by Debra Driza 

“While it’s obvious that Divergent makes a case for more truth in politics, what does the series have to say about truth in personal relationships? Does it make a case for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” 

Debra tackles the topic of lies and how they are handled: Abnegation lying by omission since its considered selfish to talk about yourself and (as I touched on earlier) lying about her Divergence.

“Bureau Versus Rebels: Which is worse?” by Dan Krokos 

“Tris argues that the bureau doesn’t want to stop the revolution in the city to save lives, but to save their experiment.”

As you’ve probably guessed, this chapter deals with that pesky bureau. Bad people. But are they worse than those rebelling against the faction system?
“Factions: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” by Julia Karr

“The faction system was flawed, but it helped people feel secure in the knowledge of who they were and what their purpose was. Losing that is never easy.”

This was another really interesting chapter to read. Focused on the various sides of the factions and the slurs they have for each other: Erudite’s are a “nose”, a Dauntless is an “adrenaline junkie”, a Candor is a “smart-mouth” and amities are “banjo strumming softies.”

“The Downfall of Dauntless” by Janine K. Spendlove

“Dauntless was founded by those who blamed fear for the world’s problems.”

I think we all know that Dauntless has a few problems *looks at the animosity between Four and Eric* okay, maybe more than a few issues. When Al fights against Will and is getting beaten pretty badly, Tobias says that Al can concede, then Eric steps in and says they must fight until one of them can’t continue anymore.

Also, while some Dauntless initiates are Dauntless born, some are not. They are not fighters so it is not their instinct to automatically/ willingly “kill the enemy.”

“Emergent” by Elizabeth Wein

“Though Tris doesn’t know it yet, there is a large Divergent population among the factionless, which is subtly foreshadowed in their multicolored clothing.”

What better way to finish off this book by discussing the factionless? They’re almost like a sixth faction, the place that all the outcasts go to. While a seemingly scary group, it’s a very interesting insight.
This is a MUST for any Divergent fans!
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Manga Classics: Great Expectations – Nokman Poon, Crystal S Chan and Stacy King

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Blurb: “Great Expectations has it all: romance, mystery, comedy, and unforgettable characters woven through a gripping rags-to-riches tale. Naive Pip, creepy Miss Haversham, beautifully cold Estella, terrifying Abel Magwitch, and the rest of Dicken’s fantastic cast are perfectly envisioned in this new adaptation in this 300-plus page volume featuring artwork by artist Nokman Poon. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

Without a doubt Great Expectations is one of my favourite books. I was introduced to this book (and Charles Dickens) in High School when we were studying Chapters 1 and 8 in my English class. I instantly fell in love and brought the book as soon as I could. There’s just something about the characters, story and writing that ha stayed with me over the years. So when Undon Entertainment sent me a manga edition of it to review, I was overjoyed.

If you want to read Great Expectations but the idea of tackling Charles Dickens’ wordiness makes you want to run away, then this is the edition for you: a lot of the story is condensed, leaving behind the important plot points to focus on.

The art is utterly beautiful, the design of the characters is so distinctive and just so elegant. Not to mention the scenery images are gorgeous.The only issue I have is that Pip is from a low class background and can’t read or write well, let alone speak at an “acceptable standard” but in this edition, he speaks like someone educated from the very start. I felt like this was out of character.

I’m happy that a manga classics series is allowing more people access to Dickens. And if you’re a manga fan, I highly recommend this!

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The Harry Potter Tag

I was tagged by JeanBookishThoughtson Twitter to do this tag. I did a video on my youtube channel but thought I’d also do it here on my blog for you lovely people.
So here goes!

Favourite Book

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Without a doubt, my favourite book is Half Blood Prince because it reveals of the secrets and gives you an idea of what the series is leading up to (the way to defeat Voldemort). Also it answers the question as to whether Draco is actually evil. You finally see that he’s actually been forced down this path to make up for the mistakes his father made. If I fancy reading any of the books, this is normally the one I pick up.

Favourite Movie

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My favourite movie is Order of the Phoenix  because, despite it being the longest book but the shortest movie, it’s just so visually beautiful and the score music is elegant and gorgeous.  It’s definitely my go-to Harry potter film.

Least Favourite Book

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My least favourite book is Chamber of Secrets because it doesn’t really get me excited in any way. The plot doesn’t really do much for me and also huge snakes and giant talking spiders? No thank you!

Part of the Book/Movies That Made You Cry

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Cedric’s death broke my heart. When him and Harry ended up in that graveyard, he had no idea why they were there or what was happening but he still jumped on the defensive and held up his want to Protect Harry. His death was a noble one.
The second death to really hit me was Fred’s. The Weasley twins were such a perfect pairing and provided the right amount of comedic value despite the looming dangers. Another part that made me cry was Harry using the Resurrection stone to see his parents and Sirius one last time before he hands himself over to Voldemort.

If You could Hook Up With Any Character, Who Would It Be?

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I wouldn’t mind a bit of book Cedric in my life! I just find his actions in the book really admirable like I’ve said about his death scene and also how he helps Harry with the tasks like telling him to put the egg underwater. I’d love to hook up with Bellatrix. Even though she’d probably destroy me.

Favourite Character

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I’m so stereotypical in my answer to this one.
My first is Lupin because he becomes a father figure to Harry and genuinely cares about him and his wellbeing. I just think he’s a truly wonderful character. My second is Luna because she is just so unapologetically herself. She wears funny glasses and talks about nargles and doesn’t let what people think affect her. My third is the Weasley twins because they are just hilarious.

If You Could Have The Resurrection Stone, The Elder Wand or the Invisibility Cloak, Which Would It Be? 

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I’d go for the cloak obviously! Why would I want to go to with the stone when it would show your dead loved ones and you can’t touch them? Why would you pick the wand when, yes it would give you power, but everyone would be tracking you down to kill you in order to get it?

What House Would You Be In?

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Hufflepuff and proud!

If You Could Meet Any of the cast, Who Would It Be?

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Daniel Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter.
Have You Played Any of the Video Games?

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I played a few of the games in my childhood. The most memorable is Chamber of Secrets because of the washing machine you had to defeat for jelly beans.

Also, Goblet of Fire on PS2 because it used to terrify me. One day I went to play it and my memory card was missing. It turned out my brother had stolen it, deleted my file and filled the card up with his games.

If You Were on a Quiditch team, What position would you play?


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I’d like to think I’d be a chaser but if we’re being realistic, I’d probably be on a bench with my broom waiting for someone to get hit by a bludger so I could sub. Can we talk about how the bludger’s are made of iron and no one has died yet?!

Were You Happy With The Ending?

SUNDAY CALENDAR AUGUST 7, 2011. DO NOT USE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION ******************** (L-r) RYAN TURNER as Hugo Weasley (19 years later), RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley, EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter, DAPHNE DE BEISTEGUI as Lily Potter (19 years later) and BONNIE WRIGHT as Ginny Weasley in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure movie "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Yes. I don’t think the ending could have been any better. Nineteen years is a perfect amount of time for those involved in the fight to recover, move on and start a family. And the last line is so satisfying and emotional.

What Does Harry Potter mean To You?

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More than I could ever put into words.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me – Leah Thomas

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Blurb: “Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times – as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him. A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.”

** This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review**

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a compilation of letters between Oliver and Moritz who are brought together by doctors and their parents simply to write about their lives; to know that they are not alone, no matter how isolated they feel. If you loved the format of The Perks of Being a Wallflower then you will devour this book, just like I did. While the letters were written to Ollie and vice versa, I felt like they were also talking to me and allowing me to see into their worlds.

Watching their friendships grow over the course of the correspondence was truly beautiful. They learned to trust each other more and open up, share secrets, offer advice. They had someone to talk to and they saw themselves as equals: when they discovered bad things about each other, they didn’t put themselves on a pedestal to act all high and mighty. It was really lovely to see. The whole plot told through this letter layout worked really well for the flow and narratives. I don’t think this story could have been told in any other way.

Prior to writing this review, I looked at reviews that other bloggers had done on their blogs and on the wonderful world of Goodreads to see what they thought and I was surprised to see that a lot of them didn’t like the ending – the word “anti-climatic” was used a fair amount.

I have to disagree. I have no idea how this book would end, but I found it really satisfying given how the plot turned out. It make me love the story even more. It was a perfect ending.

Bloomsbury seems to have a knack for sniffing out the best YA contemporary books because this is definitely one of the best I’ve read so far this year.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any more books from Leah Thomas!

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When, How, and What I Read (Because I’m Weird) – Downcast Blog tour

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About the book: “It’s the start of Stephanie Starrs’s senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza. When Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice. Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie’s mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiralling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence… and nothing can save her from her fate. Except Haley.”

Today I have the wonderful Cait Reynolds on my blog as part of the blog tour for her new novel Downcast published by Booktrope. So I will hand over to her!

When, How, and What I Read (because I’m weird)

I think it’s fair to begin with a warning.

Right?

I have strange reading habits.

Okay. You have been warned.

I will only read particular types of books at particular times of day or in particular places. I read so fast that my mom used to complain I “ate my books whole.” I am so oblivious to mortal things when I read that I often need to be touched to get my attention – I won’t hear you.

I obsessively categorize my favorite books in my head until it resembles a Pinterest board gone bad mated with the Library of Congress. I am ruthlessly picky about what I read. I am no longer ashamed of anything I choose to – or not to – read.

The first time of day I sit down to read is breakfast.

Yes. I read at the table during meals. I always have. Mom used to sit with me, reading at the same time. Dad was seeing patients late at the office usually, so it was just us, and I loved the companionable silences with our literary meals.

I will read during breakfast, lunch, and dinner…but I will only read certain types of books. These are invariably old friends. They are not upsetting, not too riveting, generally amusing, and delightful, relaxing companions. I don’t have to work too hard at them, so I can enjoy my food as well.

I read and re-read these books over the years, and by the time I’m done with the whole list of them, the first books seem like dear, old friends come to visit. You know all about them, but there’s some fresh quirk you’ve missed or forgotten.

These books tend to be written by English authors and set between the two World Wars in England (with the exception of Judge Dee, who takes me back to Tang Dynasty China). Especially in Benson and Wodehouse, there’s a great deal about food and humor about food, and it makes me feel like I’m enjoying a lovely gourmet meal (Oh, what could Anatole do with peanut butter and jelly?).

Books to Eat By:

–           Anything Agatha Christie

–           The Lucia Series by E.F. Benson

–           Anything by P.G. Wodehouse

–           The Judge Dee Mysteries by Robert Van Gulik

I do not read fiction at night. Absolutely not. To me, that is the equivalent of having an espresso while taking speed. Even with mediocre books, I have trouble putting the book down until I know exactly how everything ends. But, even then, I have to think about it for a while.

With a good fiction book? I’m a nasty, grumpy, book hangover-ish mess the next day. So, what’s a girl to do?

Read non-fiction at night.

That’s right. Pick a subject and surf Amazon until you get some really good books on a subject and then read them. Maybe it’s just a few pages at a time, or maybe a chapter, but you learn something, enjoy some good writing, but are eased into falling asleep.

Also, I read paperback or non-backlit Kindle before bed. That’s the only way to get my eyes to relax.

Books to Read Before Bed

Example reading list – a few years ago, I became interested in the Amazon, after my husband gave me The Lost City of Z. I ended up collecting a nice little set of books about the topic.

–           The Lost City of Z by David Grann

–           The Mapmaker’s Wife by Robert Whitaker

–           Exploration Fawcett by Col. Percy Fawcett

–           The River of Darkness by Buddy Levy

–           The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

Nowadays, I work from home, so my train commute is gone. But, when I did ride the subway to and from work, I found it was a nice, safe time to engage in a little fiction reading. I would also read on my lunch break (when I did take a lunch break). This would keep me from staying up all night to finish a particularly amazing story.

However, now, I don’t have that luxury. So, I save my books for plane rides, travel, and vacation. The greatest indulgence for me is to sit outside in the shade and spend hours reading. That’s it. I’m happy. Okay, maybe I get up and go walk on the beach or play in the ocean, but really, that’s it. I’m happy.

My husband and I went on a five-day trip to the Dominican Republic back in March, and I brought six books and two astronomy magazines (yeah, whatever, I’ll get to that part). By the end of the flight back to Boston, I was working as hard as I could to stretch out my last magazine.

That’s how much I am committed to literary catatonia on vacation.

I also don’t particularly like fluffy books for fiction on vacation. They’re good for a day off now and then, but I really love engrossing, complex literary thrillers.

Books to Vacation By

–           The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

–           The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

–           Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

–           In the Woods by Tana French

–           Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt

–           Fangland by John Marks

Just writing this list makes me itch to go over to Amazon and thumb through my wish list to see what I’ve got on tap for the week on the beach this summer. But, I will resist.

For now.

Finally, I will leave you with magazines.

I subscribed to two magazines: Discover Magazine and La Cucina Italiana. Apparently, America is full of Philistines who never heard of and never subscribed to La Cucina Italiana, so they stopped producing the English language version of the magazine. I was devastated.

For a while, I was down to Discover Magazine, and I hoard that thing like my life depends on it, doling out the articles with painful precision because I have finally found a source for science that explains it in simple sentences and shows all the amazing things about our bodies, our world, and our universe.

You could also call Discover Magazine the “Plot Bunny Magazine” for me, because almost every story makes me want to write a book. My favorite stories, however, tend to be about astronomy.

This year, for Christmas, my husband struck gold. Not only did he order a ton of non-fiction books from my wish list for me, but he got me a subscription to “Astronomy” magazine, put out by the same publishers as Discover. I fully admit that I don’t get all of the science – it’s for a far more astronomy-knowledgeable crowd than myself, but I still love this magazine.

I use Discover and Astronomy as my breathers between non-fiction books at night. These were also good for commuting and lunch breaks.

I can’t read fashion magazines because they make me anxious. I feel like I’m supposed to be paying attention to all this stuff in there and interested in things that just have no appeal to me.

Oh, one other magazine I enjoy? Vanity Fair – but not the celebrity interviews. I always skip those. I like their dirty little digging on politics, society scandals, murders, and the like. Yeah, I know. I’m a baaaaad person. I’m probably going to hell.

But, on the upside? It will be warm, and I’ll have all the time in the world to tackle the rest of my wish list.

About the author

cait reynolds

Cait Reynolds lives in the Boston area with her husband and 4-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking delicious meals, running around the city, rock climbing like a boss, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Reynolds is able to pull from real life experiences such as her kidney transplant, and her writing reflects her passion for life from having to face the darkest places and find the will to laugh.

Links

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