Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Delicately Devoted - Blog Tour

I am excited to be part of the AMAZING blog tour to celebrate Delicate Monsters and Devoted. As part of the tour I was able to ask both Stephanie Kuehn and Jennifer Mathieu one question which was exciting. After much deliberation I decided to ask...

What one thing would your main character want others to know about them?

Getting to know a little more about the main character of a novel is always helpful before I dive in. Stephanie and Jennifer have both provided amazing answers.

Stephanie's answer:
Well, there are three main characters in Delicate Monsters, and they are all pretty different. I think Sadie wouldn’t want anyone to know anything about her at all. Emerson would want people to know how much he loves his mother. And Miles would want people to know that knowing the future doesn’t mean you can outrun your past.
Jennifer's answer:
I think at the beginning of the story Rachel is so repressed and frightened by her own feelings, she would have a difficult time answering this question. She would want her family to think she's a good girl and a model girl in her church community even though she doesn't feel like that herself. I think by the end of the book, Rachel has really grown. She would want others, like Mark and Lauren and her new classmates, to know that she is a curious person and enjoys learning. She would want others to know how much she loves reading and books. She would want others to know she is compassionate and sensitive and wants to live an authentic life, and she wants to surround herself with people who feel the same way.
Be sure to follow along with the tour as the other bloggers will be sharing answers to their questions and much more.

For my stop I am also going to include mini reviews for both of these books! I enjoyed both of them for very different reasons.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Release Date - June 9, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 240 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.
I've heard plenty about Stephanie Kuehn's books. I've heard glowing things about her writing and how she weaves everything together. Delicate Monsters was my first experience with both her writing and the fluid morality her characters often exhibit. Everything I've heard about Stephanie's writing is true, and this novel only made me want to read the rest of her backlist all the more.

Delicate Monsters is a hard book to review. So much of the experience is based on going in with little to no knowledge of what unravels. A story that plays with how we perceive people, the lies we tell even to ourselves, and what dark truths lay hidden underneath. This is one that is more about the characters than the plot. It's a true character study that looks into the minds of three unstable teenagers, one or more of which may be well on their way to a psychopathy diagnosis.

Stephanie Kuehn's writing elevates the story and holds your interest until the very final page. These characters are fascinating, but this could have easily read like a psychiatry textbook. Instead, it's a nuanced, well crafted read that is filled with sensational prose. Her writing manages to allow you to build a connection to these characters even as you're repulsed by their actions and thoughts.

Those looking for a nicely packaged ending will not find that here. There is just enough for the reader to fill in what happens next, and that is more than enough for your subconscious to run with. This story wouldn't work with a nicely wrapped up ending, and it feels like it was given the ending that it needed.

A dark look three twisted minds that captivates and ensnares even as it repulses. It's an unputdownable journey into the darker impulses people hide, and the even darker ones that lay underneath the surface. It's as chilling as it is well written, and that should tell you everything you need to know.

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Release Date - June 2, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.
I was hesitant to pick up Devoted. I normally shy way from novels that have a religious element to them, particularly those that seem to have it at it's focus. After turning the final page of this novel I was left with a feeling of happiness that I had given it a chance.

Rachel Walker is struggling. She struggles with being a good Christian, the kind her family says she must be. She struggles to quiet the inquisitive thoughts that plague her mind. She, most of all, struggles to say what she is really thinking, and what she wants. Strip away the religious background and these are all things people can relate to. We've all felt as if our voice wasn't worthy of being heard, or that it wouldn't be. We've all felt the pressure to please others. It made Rachel immediately sympathetic.

This novel had feminist undertones. The interpretation Rachel's church and family takes on the bible is rigid and unflinching. There is no room for questions. Women are to be good 'helpmeets' for their husbands and not wish for more education or a career of their own. Rachel is desperate to learn and is haunted by the contradictions that she sees all around her. She's made to feel broken or not worthy because of her 'flaws' and that ties into current day issues that women still face.

Religion can mean different things to different people. Jennifer Mathieu wants to celebrate the beauty in finding religion and embracing it. The feeling that it should bring you peace and joy, and not suffocate or restrict your spirit is woven into every page. She showcases that many different interpretations exist and that there is many different ways to give thanks to whichever spiritual being you happen to pray to. I embrace the idea that you don't have to belong to anything organized to be spiritual, and I love that there are many different religions out there (and just as many sectors of those religions). Everyone is unique, and that is something that should be celebrated. Rachel discovering that she can still have a relationship with God, even if it's not how she originally pictured it is one of the more beautiful aspects of the novel. What she goes through could have hardened her, instead it sets her free.

A thoughtful look at religion, and the strength that comes from making your own decisions. It's a novel that seems to be about religion from the outside, but is actually much more complex when you dive into it's pages.

1 comment:

  1. I really want to read Delicate Monsters. I loved Charm & Strange by this author.


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