Thursday, October 22, 2020

Review: FORESHADOW edited by Emily X.R.Pan and Nova Ren Suma


Stories to Celebrate the Magic of
Reading and Writing to Y.A.
edited by Emily X.R. Pan & Nova Ren Suma
Publication Date: Octobe 20, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher 


Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

My Thoughts

FORESHADOW is an wonderful anthology for readers and writers who want take a closer look at writing methods and techniques for some encouragement or ways to improve upon what they already have written. And FORESHADOW is for those who dream of becoming a writer and are just beginning to craft their thoughts into stories. The short stories are introduced by notable authors, then followed by Author's Notes, and then the editors essays. I enjoyed this format and it can serve as a guidebook for writers. 

Readers can enjoy the short stories just as they are written, or they can take it a step further and evaluate and consider the process writing. We are given the opportunity to explore the many elements of creating an impactful and memorable story. Readers gain knowledge thorugh the essays about the use of voice, mood, emotions, and the ideas of imagery and the suspension of disbelief. As someone who wants to improve their skills, I like the writing prompts for inspiration and motivation.

I appreciated the Author's Notes - while each story is open to interpretation, I like to idea of knowing the intention of why author writes the way they do, why they felt it was necessary to share specific scenes, their choice of words, their use of characters, and then reevaluate what I took from my reading the story compared to what the author intended. Do those ideas match the intent? How do they differ? Did I get it?

I was surprised when flipped though the pages to find stories from YA authors like Becky Albertalli, Gayle Forman, Jason Reynolds, and Adam Silvera. I guess I should have read the book discription (and cover) more closely. Then I would have known that these authors Introduced with writings of underrepresented voices. That's all on me. But I'm glad to discover these new-to-me writers, and will definitely be on the look out for more of their works. 

As I share this review, it should be known that I'm still in the process of reading FORESHADOW and discovering these wonderful stories. That's one thing I enjoy about anthologies, you can read a story whenever you want, skip around from story to story and find one that is most appealing to you, or you can read it cover to cover and enjoy it all at once.

I know that I'll turn to FORESHADOW time and again as I continue to work on my craft as a writer. And now I want to check out the site where this anthology originated from for even more short stories.  

My In-Progress Rating  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: SORROW by Tiffanie DeBartolo

by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Pages: 270
Published by Woodhall Press Llp
Source: Author | Publisher


From Tiffanie DeBartolo, author of God Shaped Hole, How to Kill a Rock Star, and Grace: The Jeff Buckley Story, comes Sorrow, a poignant story about friendship and love, art and music, and how these pursuits can save us from ourselves.

Joe Harper has backpedaled throughout his life. A once-promising guitar prodigy, he’s been living without direction since abandoning his musical dreams. Now into his thirties, having retreated from every opportunity he’s had to level up, he has lost his family, his best friend, and his self-respect.

But Joe finds an unlikely path to redemption when he starts working as a carpenter for the bohemian conceptual artist October Danko. The job returns him to his hometown, loaded with bittersweet reminders of his former life, in the shadows of his beloved redwood trees. As Joe’s relationship with October develops, he yearns to take a daring step toward a bold future but struggles to escape the craven decisions of his past.

Sorrow is a stunning, moving novel that explores masculinity and suspended adolescence, all the while begging the questions: Can courage be learned? And is it ever too late to follow your heart?

My Thoughts

I'M READY TO FEEL IT ALL. That was my immediate reaction after hearing that Tiffanie Debartolo was writing a new book. I'd just finished reading GOD SHAPED HOLE (a book that I hadn't read until just last year - I don't know what was wrong with me) and I was in a state of awe. I'm very lucky to have won an ARC and had the opportunity to read it early. No waiting around this time. I've marked up my copy noting some of my favorite quotes and moments that I know I'll want to revisit. And I've already ordered a finished copy for my personal home library. 

SORROW is moving and thoughtful and inspiring. Each word written and each scene shared is with notable intention. And the descriptions of art, the descriptions of creating art, creating music, and the love between the characters - it's all so mesmerizing. I could see October in the studio and could see her during her exhibits of living art. I could hear and feel the music Joe played in his bare feet. You can't help but immerse yourself in it. To fold within the pages and become a part of it.


One of my favorite moments is when Joe talks about playing his friend's guitars:

" . . I can't say that playing Cal's guitars made my loneliness go away. But I could make those guitars feel what I was feeling, and that made me less lonely. I could transfer my longing to whatever instrument was in my hands, and I could turn it into beautiful sounds. It didn't heal me, but it comforted me, and I needed comfort more than anything." (page 128)

I really felt this.

After reading just a few chapters, I texted my sister and told her that I was reading a book that SHE needed to read. I knew that she would connect with both Joe and October, and then when I finished it and shared my thoughts about it with my sister, it was a moment of connection. We both had chills. I love when you know just the right person to recommend a book to, because they will find it just as special as you do.

SORROW is uniquely profound. It is completely different from anything I've read in a really long time. The moment I turned to the first page, I knew I was going to read magic - something that was going to open my mind and even my heart. And it wasn't even an expectation, I just knew it. And I loved it.

Disclaimer:  I won a physical ARC from the author through an Instagram giveaway. Previously, I'd requested a copy of this title for review consideration and received an e-ARC from the publisher but found that format difficult to read. This review is of the physical copy I received. I was not compensated in any way other than the ARCs provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


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