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My Progress:

10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

18 / 51 states. 35% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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38 / 50 books. 76% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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33 / 52 books. 63% done!

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23 / 40 books. 57% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

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5 / 25 books. 20% done!

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25 / 26.2 miles. 95% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

50 / 104 books. 48% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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39 / 52 books. 75% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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45 / 165 books. 27% done!
Thursday, October 08, 2015

Cover Reveal: Spark by Holly Schindler

I've loved Holly Schindler ever since I read her debut novel, A Blue So Dark.  It is a haunting, memorable story told in vivid, skilled prose.  It made me want to read everything she wrote.  I'm a little behind on that goal, but I've continued to enjoy the author's books over the years.  Holly's not just a talented writer, but she's also a great champion of book bloggers.  Really, what's not to love about her?

Naturally, I was thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for Holly's forthcoming YA novel, Spark.  Published by HarperCollins, it comes out on May 17, 2016.  You can pre-order it now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Isn't it pretty?

  When the right hearts come to the Avery Theater—at the right time—the magic will return. The Avery will come back from the dead.

Or so Quin’s great-grandmother predicted many years ago on Verona, Missouri’s most tragic night, when Nick and Emma, two star-crossed teenage lovers, died on the stage. It was the night that the Avery’s marquee lights went out forever.

It sounds like urban legend, but one that high school senior Quin is now starting to believe, especially when her best friend, Cass, and their classmate Dylan step onto the stage and sparks fly. It seems that magic can still unfold at the old Avery Theater and a happier ending can still be had—one that will align the stars and revive not only the decrepit theater, but also the decaying town. However, it hinges on one thing—that Quin gets the story right this time around.

Holly Schindler brings the magic of the theater to life in this tale of family ties, fate, love, and one girl’s quest to rewrite history.

Sounds incredible, right?  I think so.  May, come quick!

Mormon Mentions: Melissa DeCarlo

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture.


In The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo, Mattie Wallace and her friend go to visit a man, looking for information about Mattie's mother.  He invites them in.  Then:

Mr. Hambly clears his throat, "Latter Day Saints?  Jehovah's Witnesses?"

Luke and I both laugh.  I think he's laughing out of surprise, but I'm laughing because Luke, in his white dress shirt and dark tie, really does look like a religious door-knocker, which is probably what gained us entrance into the Hambly home in the first place. 

(Quote taken from Page 258 of an uncorrected proof)

-- The Church's missionary program is legendary all around the world.  Mormon missionaries are easily recognizable by their white shirts and ties (men), conservative skirts and blouses (women), and black name tags (all).  They're also well-known for going door-to-door delivering messages about Jesus Christ.  Or trying to, anyway.  Mattie's assumption that she and Luke are allowed inside because they're religious representatives is pretty optimistic, since I'm pretty sure most people run and hide when they see the LDS missionaries (or Jehovah's Witnesses) coming.  A pity, since everyone can benefit from an uplifting religious discussion.  Unless, of course, your visitors are of the Mattie/Luke variety—people who look like missionaries, but are actually nosy strangers wanting to know all your secrets ...

Wickedly Funny Family Secrets Novel Surprisingly Poignant

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Despite her vow never to be like her bitter, alcoholic mother, Mattie Wallace has pretty much become her mini-me.  Newly homeless, she's got all of her earthly possessions stuffed into a half dozen trash bags in the back of her mom's ancient Chevy Malibu.  With nothing in her wallet, but a definite something growing in her womb, Mattie's reached an all-time low.  At least her mom—who's been dead for five years—isn't around to say, "I told you so."  Although Mattie's aging stepfather is willing to take her in, she can't bear for him to see how badly she's screwed up this time.  It's just as well, then, that he has news—Mattie's grandmother has died, leaving a possible inheritance for her next of kin.  Mattie never knew her mother's mother, but she's not opposed to taking whatever money the woman left behind.  With nothing to keep her in the Florida Panhandle, Mattie high-tails it to little Gandy, Oklahoma, hoping to leave with some cold, hard cash.

The good news: Mattie has inherited her mother's family home.  The bad: she can't take possession of it for several months.  With the Malibu out of commission, she's stuck in Gandy until she can find the money to get it repaired.  A kind paralegal allows her to squat in her grandmother's house, but that only solves one of Mattie's problems.  As she tries to straighten out her many dilemmas, Mattie settles into the rhythm of life in Gandy.  Thanks to the quirky townspeople, her days are filled with plenty of drama and entertainment.  Still, the only story she really wants told is that of her mother.  Why did Genie Wallace, a pretty young woman with a bright future, suddenly up and leave Gandy?  Why did she never return?  How did the popular, well-loved Genie turn into the broken, boozed-up woman who raised Mattie?  

With more questions than answers, Mattie determines to shake the truth about her mother out of the reticent Gandy-ans.  Considering how shaky her relationship with Genie was, Mattie's surprised by how much she wants to know who her mother really was.  But how many people will she have to hurt in order to get the real story?  And what does it matter, after all, when the real problem is what to do about Mattie's own downward spiral?  As Mattie unearths clues about her family's past, she finds shocking revelations—astonishing truths that might be the keys to salvaging her own future.

As you probably know by now, I'm a sucker for a good homecoming/family secrets story.  The Art of Crash Landing, a debut novel by Melissa DeCarlo, certainly fits the bill, although it's a far cry from the Kate Morton-ish fare I usually read.  Feisty Mattie is the kind of irascible character that shouldn't be as likable as she is.  Still, her wicked sense of humor; her bold, reckless personality; and her refusal to back down make her a fun heroine.  Her pain, so authentic and raw, makes her sympathetic.  I couldn't help but love her.  Mattie's madcap adventures made me laugh, while her family mystery made me race through the pages, eager to see how the puzzle pieces all fit together.  Although our heroine (anti-heroine?) is undeniably hilarious, The Art of Crash Landing isn't a light, fun kind of novel.  Not by a long shot.  It's a sad, poignant read, but one that manages to be both real and hopeful.  Despite the excessive profanity and other R-rated bits, I surprised myself by enjoying this novel quite thoroughly. 

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual content, violence, and depictions of underage drinking and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Art of Crash Landing from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!

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