If you’re of a certain age, chances are you’ve seen the episode of friends where Joey is reading Little Women. He’s so upset about how sick Beth is, he has to take a break from the book, and put it in the freezer for a while to chill- and lessen the intensity for him.
That’s a bit what reading Stifyn Emrys’ Identity Break was like for me. I’ll tell you why after you take a look at the synopsis below:
How far would you go to find yourself?
Imagine everything you thought you knew about yourself turned out to be a lie, and you didn’t know who was telling the truth. Imagine you possessed a secret so dangerous that, if it were exposed, it would reshape the entire world.
What would you do if that secret were your very identity?
In almost every way, Palo Vista seems like a typical California city, with office buildings, schools, and homes sprawled out across suburbia, filled with families making a life for themselves at the dawn of the new millennium.
But two seniors at Mt. MacMurray High are about to find out that nothing is as it seems. Jason Nix is a star athlete and honors student who can’t seem to remember anything about his childhood. Elyse Van Auten is a budding artist from a broken home whose father left her mother two years ago – or so she’s been led to believe.
Like most teens entering adulthood, Elyse and Jason just want to find out who they really are. For them, however, the stakes go far beyond their own personal quest. Join them on a journey of self-discovery that becomes a desperate fight for survival against enemies determined to conceal the truth … and find out what happens when that fight becomes personal.
There were times that so much was happening in Identity Break that I had to take a break from the story for a bit. I was afraid something terrible was going to happen to Jason or Elyse. At the same time, I was dying to know what this hidden truth was, and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out. Although the stories are different, I got the same little thrill reading Identity Break as I do reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. It’s that entertaining. There’s plenty of action and colorful characters, and more than one squirm inducing (in a good way) scene.
My only criticism is that I feel like some seeds were planted in the story that were not fully fleshed out, but I hope that means a sequel is coming. I like the characters, and I feel like there is a lot more story to tell here, both backstory and the implications of what Jason and Elyse learn in Identity Break.
I’m glad to be a part of the blog tour for Identity Break, and think this is a great vacation read for you to check out.
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/semrys
Josh Hanagarne loves books and reading. He found his calling as a librarian. He loves his family. He has Tourette Syndrome. He’s incredibly strong. The World’s Strongest Librarian is Josh’s memoir about how all these things fit together. And it’s already a contender for one of my Favorites of 2013.
As Josh describes it, The World’s Strongest Librarian is a “memoir of Tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family.” He leaves out of that a voracious love of the written word, but the description is apt. I love to read memoirs that encompass a love of reading, as well as a discussion of (or crisis of) faith, and something unique. This book has all of those. Each chapter has subheadings, and each subheading is prefixed with the appropriate Dewey Decimal number. It’s a bit quirky, sure, but charming, too. In fact, charming and quirky is a good description for both Josh and the book.
Josh recounts his early days and his love of books. He was one of those kids whose father read to him before he was even born. Books weren’t ever not a part of his life. His first crush was Fern from Charlotte’s Web. In fact, Josh’s early life can be classified as “Before Fern” and “After Fern”.
Equally important to the books, though, are Josh’s family and faith, and his Tourette’s (Note: Early in the book, Josh provides an explanation of when to use Tourette and when to use Tourette’s. I have tried to follow his protocol here). His family is a bit quirky but loving. He presents his struggle with Tourette’s in a straightforward manner that he saves from being melodramatic. It still provokes empathy, however, as Josh describes how he at times has little control over what his body does, to the point of injuring himself. Enter the strength training, and the opportunity it gave Josh to control his body, even if only for the duration of a workout.
So why am I saying this one is a contender for my Favorites list? I like the subject matter and I like the tone. I think Josh has been dealt a tricky hand with Tourette’s, but he tells his story with honesty and dignity, without making himself out to be a hero. He’s naturally curious and willing to explore different avenues to find out what works best for him. He’s quite authentic. I found his telling of his Mormon mission and his crisis of faith to be very sincere and honest, and representative of a very personal journey for him- one that he recognizes may not be right for everyone.
The love between Josh and his family- both his birth family and the family he has created with his wife Janette, is palpable without being overwrought. But it isn’t just that. Reading this book made me want to visit my local library. It made me curious about new things. It gave me a new understanding of what life can be like for someone with Tourette Syndrome. And it proves that nothing can completely destroy you if you don’t let it.
The World’s Strongest Librarian is available now. Enjoy this trailer to get you excited to read it. You can also follow any Twitter news about the book through #strengthandbooks and visit Josh’s blog.
I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it. Put it on your reading list now.
To get the full effect of the story, you really must read Someone Else’s Fairytale first, and in this review will be spoilers for the first book, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now and go buy both books.
Nobody’s Damsel follows Chloe and Jason as the navigate their early days of marriage. The press, intrigued by Jason’s marriage to a non-celebrity, even follows Chloe to her crime scene investigation job in Albuquerque. As the investigation continues, scrutiny on Jason and Chloe’s marriage grows, and more than one person wonders if a happily ever after ending is in store for our hero couple.
I found myself liking both Someone Else’s Fairytale and Nobody’s Damsel more than I expected to. At times I found myself getting frustrated with Chloe’s reluctance to rely on Jason, until I realized I’d probably be very much like that, myself. And although I’ve never had the paparazzi chasing me down, I can only imagine what it is like for someone who didn’t choose to be famous (and even those who do choose a career that puts them in the limelight) to have their every action under scrutiny.
Tippetts gives us likable characters, and weaves in Chloe’s backstory without making the tale overdramatic. Jason’s celebrity seems credible- as someone who really tries to maintain ties with the people who knew him before he was a movie star. And while I don’t know that in reality Chloe would be able to maintain such a semblance of normalcy, the beauty of a book is that we as readers get the best of both worlds: the fantasy of a whirlwind, swept-off-our-feet, relationship with a dreamy actor, but who can also maintain our own lives. I’m not sure the two gel well in reality, but it is a pleasure to read.
I enjoyed the more dramatic sub-plot to the stories, too, which I won’t spoil here, and I am looking forward to reading more about Jason and Chloe.
Now, for some fun things with the blog tour:
Here’s a link to E.M Tippetts’ tour page: http://www.clpblogtours.com/
**Everyone who leaves a comment on E.M.’s tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Nobody’s Damsel before May 20 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**
If you’d like to know more about E. M. Tippetts or buy your own copy of the books, see below:
E.M. Tippetts grew up in New Mexico and now lives in London, where she raises two boisterous toddlers, designs jewelry, and writes novels. A former attorney, she used to specialize in real estate and estate planning, specifically literary estate planning. She currently has five novels out, Time & Eternity, Paint Me True, Someone Else’s Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and Nobody’s Damsel (Fairytale 2).
Connect with E.M.
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It’s not a book post, I know, but if you’ve been a reader here, you know I’m also passionate about U2 and I recently had a pretty cool U2-related experience.
Over the weekend, I attended a U2 Conference. As one of the other attendees expressed, when most of us told people we were going to a U2 conference, the conversation went something like this:
Us: I’m heading to Cleveland for a U2 Conference
Them: A concert? I didn’t know they were touring again. That’s awesome.
Us: No, a Conference
Them: Funny look.. “Oh. Well, is the band going to be there?”
Them: Even more incredulous look “Okayyyy.”
We went anyway, even knowing that some of our friends and family think we might be a bit crazy. Or obsessed. Or something like that. About 130 U2 fans descended on Cleveland, Ohio to talk about the band we all love. While the bulk of attendees were from the States, we had people come from as far away as South Africa, Australia, and Norway.
So what does happen when 130 U2 fans get together for not-a-concert and no appearance from our favorite band? Lots of fun, enlightening and entertaining discussions, and rocking out to an awesome tribute band.
Although the official start of the conference was Friday morning, many of us arrived in Cleveland Thursday and kicked off the festivities unofficially at a pub that evening.
I knew of one other person attending the conference, but really was there by myself. So walking into Flannery’s Thursday evening, I simply asked if I could join some folks at their table, and thus began the adventure with new friends and the tribe that is U2 fans. That’s just a small part of what made the whole weekend so special- it was easy to make instant connections. We were guaranteed some conversation, which is a great icebreaker.
Friday and Saturday, we had a choice of a number of Academic panels and mainstream panels for each part of the conference. Not being able to be in two places at once I generally chose the Mainstream panels. We heard from journalists who have interviewed the band, publicists, documentarians, and graphic designers. This is cooler than I make it sound here, because these are people who have known the band for years and were able to share insights we had not heard before. We were able to screen films about the fan experience, and learn how U2 constructs their sound. Special thanks to Jim Henke, Brian O’Neil, Bill Carter, Steve Averill, Natalie Baker, Michelle Regina Iacobelli, and the guys from Unforgettable Fire for taking the time to travel to be with us and share their history with U2. Full details about conference content, for those interested can be found here.
To close out the conference, the longest-running and arguably best U2 tribute band, Unforgettable Fire (http://uf2.com/) treated us to more than three hours of U2’s best live cuts and songs that only “real” fans typically know in a show at Cleveland’s Hard Rock Café on Saturday night. I think we all agreed that the only way it could have been better is if it had been U2 themselves there, but Unforgettable Fire are really class act guys, and true fans themselves. Thanks to them for making the evening really special.
One of the panels was called “Stories for Boys and Girls” where some conference attendees shared their stories of the impact U2 has had on their life. I was one of those to share my story. I was a little worried that there would be a lot of “I met the band when…” stories, and that’s not the type of story mine is. I was surprised to find that instead, everyone’s stories involved real life; true instances where U2’s music had provided comfort in times of tumult or loss; ways that U2 has been a constant in peoples’ lives; ways that U2 have metaphorically saved people.
We had wonderful, informative panels. Some great information was shared. We learned a few cool tidbits about the band. But more than any of that, I believe that the best thing about the U2 Conference was the people- the connection among people gathering as mostly strangers and leaving as friends. Not everyone of course, but I made several new friends- people I’ll be interacting with via Twitter and Facebook, and plan to see when the band tours again. I won’t say that U2 holds a monopoly on this type of connection among fans, but I think what this tribe has is something special. I’m still exhausted from the weekend, but so glad I went, and already looking forward to the next one.
From the synopsis: “Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It’s not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist.
Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls “Snarky Teenager”, but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for.
With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined.”
I liked Elly at the beginning of the book, but in the middle, I found myself getting rather frustrated with her. However, as is needed by most heroines in a novel, Elly experiences an epiphany that changes her whole outlook on things. One of my favorite characters ended up being “Snarky Teenager” who we never come to learn by name, but hopefully will in the sequel.
I liked that Elly wasn’t a stereotypical protagonist. She doesn’t fit the typical “beautiful” sort of character, which I think makes her more relatable to many readers. Her lesson to learn is a tough one- most of us have found ourselves attracted to that guy we know isn’t right for us, but is the one we think we deserve. Elly’s own growth in this area is nice to see and endears her even more to readers.
One thing I particularly liked about this book is that I liked Elly’s friends and neighbors and fellow business owners. I even briefly entertained the thought of starting my own small business if it meant I could garner that close neighborhood feel.
Perfectly entertaining, I think fans of chick lit will definitely enjoy Elly in Bloom, and I’m looking quite forward to the sequel.