Posts tagged young adult
A Day in the Life (3)

a day in the life

Hey y'all!For those of you who haven't seen this feature before, I started A Day in the Life just to give y'all updates on what I'm reading, thinking, and what's going on in the bookish world! I hope y'all enjoy! A LOT has been going on with me recently and I'm reading three books at once so I have a lot to say! Here goes:The Books:

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan - I'm reading this one at the moment and my feelings are kind of mixed. On one hand, I love the idea of the story and I ADORE stories that take place in New York City. But it's taking forever to get really started with any kind of action and it's just gotten kind of boring. Honestly, I want to be HOOKED. Hopefully, this improved. Andrea Cremer tends to use a lot of world-building and while that's excellent in fast-paced books and extravagant books such as Nightshade, it doesn't really work that well when combined with a slower plot. I'll finish reading it this weekend and let y'all know what I thought!The Life:Chorus and friends are honestly taking over my life right now. My chorus teacher has this crazy idea that chorus should be the number one priority in our lives and I've had rehearsal so much. Last week, we had Madrigals, a Renaissance-style musical/concert that involved us dressing up as peasants. (See the Twitter picture if you don't believe me.) Friends are being confusing but there's not really that much I can do about that but try to be supportive while wishing that I could be curled up in the corner with a book. I also have a ton of writing things going on (see "The News" below). The problem is that I don't really want to get that involved with my school because there's a chance that I might leave it and at this point, I want to. I enjoy it enough but I really don't like certain parts of it and Interlochen sounds like a fantastic opportunity for me.The Posts:I recently wrote a post Silver Linings: Writing that basically covered all of the writing things that are going on right now for me. It explains what I think about my writing, Interlochen, NaNoWriMo, and more.Last Friday, I revealed the cover for Fanged Princess on the blog. Check out this gorgeous and gothic cover!The News:Today, I won my school's Poetry Jam with my poem "Wallflowers". It's not quite the version that I uploaded on my blog a few weeks ago, but it's close. This means that not only was I lugging around my 1st-place trophy all day, but I'm going to be my school's representative in the District competition. Like I said above, I'm a little hesitant about getting too involved in my school now, and also, I don't want to focus on poetry and whatnot. One of the strengths of Interlochen as opposed to just entering local writing contests is that I feel like that makes me more limited. I do want to focus on novel-writing but frankly, the arts programs down here aren't amazing. They're enough, but I feel like it's just a much better community for me if I attempt to go to Interlochen.The other news: I'm applying for an Interlochen scholarship. Interlochen is an incredible performing arts boarding school filled with passionate young artists. They're currently running a scholarship contest (The Virginia B. Ball Scholarship Contest) and it's one of the only chances that I have to actually get my parents to look at the school.I don't really know. Also, I want to also focus on editing and publishing instead of devoting ALL MY TIME to writing. While writing short stories and poetry is awesome, the publishing business for YA books and whatnot is what I want my life to be devoted to instead of that other writing scene. There's a difference. I'm entering the Interlochen competition and if I'm a finalist, I'm going to figure out what to do from there so that I can get the best of both words.I've also been editing a TON recently. There's an amazing editing opportunity for me coming up in January (that I'm unsure whether I can disclose or not) so I've been critiquing a lot more than I usually do for practice. I definitely want to keep immersed in editing as well as blogging and writing. I love writing, but I want publishing and that world to take precedence over that.I'm saving up to go to BookExpo America (because there may be an opportunity for me to take exams early and be able to go!), as well as normal camp and Interlochen camp. I want to go to all three, which is really expensive obviously. I think I'll be able to because I really only have to pay for BEA, but I'm still basically not going to be buying much in the spring (ahh! book budget!).Other:

Riffle is so unbelievably awesome. It's like Wanelo, but with books! You can create lists of books, recommend books, be "interested" in books, or "finish" books. It's like a mixture of Pinterest and Goodreads! Social media for book nerds - I think yes! I'm a beta user right now and I'm absolutely in love with it. You definitely know what I'll be doing this weekend!That's it for A Day in the Life this week! Thanks so much for reading! I hope y'all enjoyed!Grace

Silver Linings: Writing

Silver Linings

With the beginning of December comes the end of NaNoWriMo and the beginning of deadlines. Last month and this month have been HUGE writing months for me. I love reading more than life, but my true calling is writing. I love untangling words and letting them pour out of the deepest parts of my soul. I love imbuing descriptions and ideas with my emotions. I just love love love writing.NaNoWriMo was kind of a flop for me. I won, but just barely. I did plot a lot of my WIP though and I'm really excited about it. I've started two other WIPs in the past and both only got to about 30k before I got bored. They were sprawlingly drafted and I just got so frustrated with them being awful during first drafts. In my current WIP, Madly, I'm still inspired. I've been sitting on the idea since (March?) and new inspiration keeps flowing. I'm starting to get the hang of understanding how to connect all the elements together and just getting it out of my head. Even if I don't finish Madly, it's taught me a ton about how to draft and I just want to share the story. I did get to 50k with NaNo and my goal is to finish it by January 10th so I can say that I've written a book before I turned fifteen.I don't really like disclosing to people in Tampa that I'm working on a manuscript because nobody really would take it seriously. The other day at a chorus performance, a girl heard that I was involved in the publishing and writing community. She tried to pitch me her book and people were just giving her crazy looks. People usually react like that when you tell them. It's like, unless you've finished one or published one, it doesn't matter. Especially if you're my age and have a passion for it. People tell you that it's great that you're doing it, but they don't wholeheartedly believe in it.Anyways, the reason I'm writing this post isn't because of Madly or NaNoWriMo. It's about short stories and poetry and other shorter works. There are so many writing competitions coming up for me and one major one that I'm really interested in entering. I've entered writing contests before and I've won a ton of them (I don't mean to sound full of myself in saying this, but I've won or been a finalist in every contest I've entered in the past two years, which has been quite a lot) and I'm ridiculously nervous.I've been getting into poetry recently, mostly due to Amy McNamara and her excellent book Lovely, Dark, and DeepI read that she was a poet and you could definitely tell that it influenced the novel. I absolutely fell in love with her writing and her wording and was interested in getting into poetry. Another reason is because of Interlochen. The first exposure that I really had to poetry was Shel Silverstein when I was younger and the excerpt from one of Rilke's poems in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Many of my favorite authors are poets but I wasn't really interested.After reading Lovely, Dark, and Deep, I asked Amy for poetry recommendations and she gave me an amazing list. I stalked Goodreads and the Book Depository for hours, unsure which books to start with. One of the things that I noticed about my personal style was that I really enjoyed synesthesia in poetry and interesting phrasing. I love verbs paired with ideas that they aren't really supposed to go with, and personification. I love the type of writing that you find on blogs like this one and adore lots of description.The first poetry book I actually read was The Poetry of Rilke translated by Edward Snow and it is excellent. I mostly read it in one go, but if I didn't have much time, I'd read a poem at a time. I really enjoy his description and he has a very calming voice to me. When reading poetry, I've also been getting into writing poetry.Two of the contests that I'm entering involve poetry and poetry suits my writing. I'm a very lyrical writer (at least, I'm pretty sure, judging by my personal appraisal of my voice and what others have said) and enjoy using lavish description. I struggle a bit with being concise because I tend to write very long, flowery works. That's something that I really need to work on, but my description and emotion is one of  my strengths.One of the contests is my school's Poetry Jam. It's this Thursday and I'm attending. A poet will be there. We're going to workshop, polish our poems, and then perform them. The poems will be judged by guest judges and the student with the highest score will represent my school in the District Poetry Jam. I really want to be the representative, even though I'm a freshman. Also, Starbucks is providing coffee for us - score! I'm really nervous because I can't decide which poem to perform and I really want it.I'm using Poetry Jam as an opportunity to polish one of my poems for Interlochen.Interlochen. The real reason I'm terrified this month, and writing so much.For those of you who have no idea what Interlochen is, it's a prestigious boarding school for the performing arts in Interlochen, Michigan. Their creative writing department is supposed to be amazing. Also, it's a community of teenage artists who are just as passionate about their art as I am.I got the packet for Interlochen in the mail a few weeks ago. I was aware of the school, but I heard of the scholarship and was thinking about applying. It took some convincing for my parents to even let me go for the scholarship, but I'd beat myself up if I didn't even try. I like my school now, but nobody else is as passionate about anything as I am. I just want to have the option to look at it as a serious possibility. Since it's really expensive and my parents are already wary about looking at boarding schools, it would be the only way that I could seriously look at the school. I told my parents that I was going to enter, and if I was announced as a finalist in January, I'd talk with them about the school. I have a friend whose older brother attends and he is in love with the school. It just sounds incredible.I'd really like to improve my writing. I have a few questions about the school and how much of my writing would change, but first I have to enter. The portfolio requires 3-4 poems (I'm writing four) and prose adding up to less than 5,000 words. I'm pretty sure I know which pieces that I'm entering, but some of them are just ideas that I actually have to write. The rest, I have to revise. The Poetry Jam will be a great opportunity for me to polish my poems and see what I need to work on before giving my portfolio to critique partners to look over and give feedback on. I just really want to at least be a finalist. The school is still just a vague possibility, but I'd like for it to be more concrete and that's the way for it to happen. It's ridiculously competitive and I want this so badly.I really love writing and words take up my life. I don't just love words. I need them.Wish me luck! I've been really absent on the blog recently and I feel SO guilty about that. I've been writing and stressing and working on other things but I'm trying to be more on about that. I'm going to work on Interlochen and poetry jam and several other contests that I'm entering. Excuse me while I go panic. Let me know if y'all want to see any of my work and I'll post it on the blog when I'm done polishing it! Interlochen portfolios are due on December 15th and I'm absolutely terrified. Love y'all!Grace

Desire to Acquire (1)

Hey y'all!It's Grace and this week I'm introducing a new feature on the blog. It's basically Waiting on Wednesday with a title specifically for my blog. All credit goes to Breaking the Spine; the only difference is that I won't just be posting on Wednesdays and I'll have a few more books up there. It's where I talk about which books I'm dying to read in the next few months. I've been really busy with WRITING of all things and I've been away for the weekend, so I apologize for the lack of posts. I'm working on a writing portfolio for a huge writing contest and a couple others that are coming up, as well as participating in NaNoWriMo. I'm looking to spotlight five or so titles each time I do one of these. I hope y'all enjoy! I'd love to hear what you think! You can tweet me or leave a comment below.Let's get started, shall we?

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles, #1)

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: January 2, 2013

Why I Want It: The synopsis reminds me of a few favorites and with the Graceling series over, I have a fantasy void to fill. Kira sounds absolutely awesome. Action, fantasy, and demons? Count me in.

Reminds Me of: Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George; Graceling by Kristin Cashore; Slayers by C.J. Hill; Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: January 29, 2013

Why I Want It: It looks edgy and sad and inspiring all at once. I completely love a romance that might be screwed up but both people believe wholeheartedly in it. It's something that you don't often see in YA and it seems pretty interesting.

Reminds Me of: Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala; Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Teeth by Hannah Moscowitz

Teeth

A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: January 1, 2013

Why I Want It: The first book by Hannah Moscowitz that I read was Invincible Summer, but the first book of hers that I really fell in love with was Break. Her quirky writing makes her books stand out and the synopsis of this one is really intriguing to me. "A gritty, romantic modern fairytale"? I love it, and I can't wait for this one.

Reminds Me of: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers; Nevermore by Kelly Creagh; After by Amy Efaw

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Why I Want It: I have a serious love for fairy-tale retellings. I've gotten used to dark paranormal versions. A science-fiction version of those retellings? I took a chance with Cinder and it HIGHLY paid off. I was glued to it and read it under my desk during class because I literally could not part with it. It has this absorbing quality that just pulls you in. Incredible writing, plot twists that will turn your world upside down, and a unique take on lovable fairytales made Cinder incredible. I need Scarlet NOW.

Reminds Me Of: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakly-Cartwright; Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Nobody

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. That’s why they make the perfect assassins.The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Why I Want It: Jennifer Lynn Barnes is such a versatile author. From her hilarious laugh-until-you-cry spy novel The Squad: Perfect Cover to the darkly electric Raised by Wolves, her books are consistently amazing. I love the concept and I love her writing. What more is there to say? I'm lusting for this book so much.

Reminds Me of: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan; Legend by Marie Lu

That concludes my first Desire to Acquire post! I hope y'all enjoyed! Leave me a comment below or tweet me with your thoughts. What books are y'all desiring? 

Jay Asher Recap

Hey y'all!So on Tuesday night I went to my second signing ever in Tampa. Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why and co-author of The Future of Us, spoke and signed at Tampa Prep.Thirteen Reasons Why

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

The Future of Us

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

Before the Event:

I've had a really stressful week so I was really excited to go to the signing. Jay had messaged me on Facebook a few days before and that's actually how I found out about the event. I got all dressed up and took my battered copy of Thirteen Reasons Why and a couple business cards. One of my friends is actually OBSESSED with this book but she had softball so she couldn't go. Jay Asher is absolutely incredible so I was so excited.

I got to Tampa Prep a few minutes late but the signing still hadn't started, which was a relief. The lovely folks at Inkwood  were there so I was really excited. I hadn't seen them since the Mara Dyer signing. I bought a copy of The Future of Us from them and settled in my chair. The entire time I was peeking around. I recognized Jay from his author picture but I always have to double check just in case, since it's a little different in person.

The entire time, I tweeted at @jayasherguy, telling him how excited I was and (basically) proving how big of a stalker I was. The principal of Tampa Prep got up to talk and he did a very good introduction of Jay Asher, calling him an "author, blogger, and Twitter-er". Then Jay started to speak

During the Event:

Wow. Jay is a FANTASTIC speaker. He's both incredibly informative about the writing process and completely hilarious. He manages to make it feel personal and was just so so amazing. I continued to stalker-tweet at him throughout the event and also wrote down some of the things that he said so that I could share them with y'all. After hearing him, I am so jealous of all the Tampa Prep students who got to work with him throughout the day.

He started off by talking about how he became a writer and shared a humorous story about Vanilla Ice. Apparently, he used to write funny children's books that weren't very good, including Stop Easter Bunny, You Forgot Something! (That might not be exactly the title, but it sounds right). He seemed very grateful that they were never published.

He split the inspiration for the book between two sources. While he was in Vegas, he went on an audio tour and really loved that element. He wanted to use that in one of his projects but tucked it away for the future. The second part was that he had a relative about Hannah's age who tried to commit suicide and was extremely influenced by that. He said that he got into fascinating but incredibly painful conversations with her about what happened to make her feel like nobody cared. It was with those two sources that he crafted Hannah's story and Thirteen Reasons Why was born.

He told us about how he learned to write suspense, comparing it to his beloved children's book, The Monster at the End of this BookHe talked about great writing techniques and included information about critique partners. He compared his rejection letters to the ways a girl breaks up with a guy, including "It's not you, it's me" and "I'm seeing someone else." He shared his fantastic publishing story, including a picture of telling his wife and his mom. He told his wife at the same spot that they got married! He discussed word choice and buying his book only to return it.

One of my favorite parts of the night was seeing the emails that Jay put up on the screen. He showed us four emails that touched him, that he received several months after his book was out. They were from teens talking about suicide, Thirteen Reasons Why, and how the book changed people. What I thought was absolutely amazing and really shows the power of books was that somebody recognized Hannah in somebody else at her school. That night after reading it, she called that girl and talked for four hours. The girl told her everything and about her suicide plans. Thirteen Reasons Why led to somebody preventing a suicide. Is that not AMAZING?

After talking about Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay discussed co-writing The Future of Us, his son, and the movie. He showed us a picture of him and Selena Gomez and talked about interest for the movie. Personally, I would kill to see that movie if there is a Thirteen Reasons Why movie but he also talked about his concerns for authenticity and getting the message across. Really, he was excellent.

He talked about some more and joked a lot more. I was laughing and inspired and absolutely fell in love with his speaking. I would love to hear him speak again. I asked a question about voice and then we had some Q&A. After the Q&A session, it was time for the signing.

I got in line and got my books signed. There were some Tampa Prep students behind me but I didn't recognize anybody. I got to talk to Jay for a few minutes. It's always nerve-wracking meeting an author you've idolized for so long and you always want to have them remember you. I don't know if he did, but I loved talking to him. I got a picture with him (below!) although it's not the best quality and it's pretty small.

I really loved the signing and was so happy to finally meet Jay Asher. I loved it. I hope y'all enjoyed my recap! If you haven't read Thirteen Reasons Why or The Future of Us, I highly recommend them.Love y'all!Grace

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Format: ARC

Source: Publisher

Find it on Goodreads

Touching the Surface

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

     Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.     As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

This debut will sweep you off your feet. From the first sentence, it will captivate you and make you second guess your deepest thoughts while exploring others. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, Touching the Surface is a masterful take on some of life's most puzzling questions. What happens after we die? What's the point of life?Touching the Surface is seemed character driven but tension permeates most of the book. You might not necessarily find a lot of action but it's mostly emotional. The world is created and the characters are there for the reason that they need to find themselves and figure out how they're holding themselves back. Each of the characters grows and interacts more and more with others throughout the book and made a complex book that was simple to understand and a true experience to read.Books like this one remind me of why I love to read. For me, this was that book. Touching the Surface introduced many new questions and ideas while answering some of my own. I love books that I can escape into, but I also love books that make me think and look at things in a new perspective. Kim had a gorgeous tone that just managed to remind the reader of how important that the little things are. Elliot's quiet deliberation of her life also contrasted nicely with her wild emotions when she remembered parts of her life that she would rather have forgotten.I don't even know how to describe the strange emotions roiling in me after finishing the book, and my experience with the book. It's just one of those books that is so pure and beautiful. Elliot was confused after dying for the third time. Something went wrong. It was never good to be a Third Timer, and she thought that she was doing well in her life. She was missing something, but she didn't know what.Her best friend was ignoring her and seemed almost hostile; the odds were stacked against her and she didn't know why. She found herself falling for two brothers - both extremely different but she couldn't pull herself away from them. Between Delving into painful memories during workshops and trying to figure out herself outside of them, Elliot was completely swamped with everything at once and somehow she had to find who she was despite all of that.Touching the Surface is a cognizant and indulgent novel about finding your identity in the midst of chaos. Beautifully presented, Kimberly Sabatini presents a dreamy and impassioned novel written with an elegant consciousness unlike anything else out there.Read the extended review:The relationships in this book were so excellently handled. Really, I keep saying that about almost every element in this book because everything just seemed almost flawless to me. Kimberly went past the surface of some issues and skimmed the surface of others, but she definitely touched on so many different aspects of Elliot's life. Between the comprehensive structure of the afterlife and the character development, the story was a nice balance of character and plot.I got confused with some of the technicality in the book, but that was a small sacrifice for the complete originality of the afterlife that Kimberly has created. It's extremely hard to create a new afterlife dynamic completely unique from anything else out there, but that's what you get in Touching the Surface.The narrative is interposed with flashbacks from Elliot's life that slowly reveal the missing pieces from her memory. I have ranted about my hatred for amnesia storylines before, but this was completely different. Elliot had the sense of who she was and what happened and the empty holes in her memory weren't abrasive to the story. Subtly and gracefully intertwined with the present storyline, the flashbacks only add more to her character and constantly add to a complicated backstory.Elliot's life becomes more and more chaotic as she tries to figure out what it means and how she appears to other people. Elliot's made mistakes and done things to the people that she loves, but she honestly thought of herself as a good person and wants to figure out how she can be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. She's confused by Julia's mixed messages and hurt by her rejection. She's conflicted between who she thinks she is and how she can change. She doesn't know what's going on with her life and what she's done, and that insecurity fills every page of the book as she grows into herself. It took her dying to understand who she really was. She loves Oliver and his joy, but is attracted to Trevor's dark magnetism.The contrast between the brothers wasn't overdone but each was sculpted completely. As a twin, it drives me crazy when close siblings or twins are portrayed as either polar opposites or completely alike. The brothers were distinctly different and portrayed in that light, but with enough little detail to make it believable instead of cookie cutter characters. I loved learning more about the brothers and how they interacted with each other. Trevor and Oliver love each other but they have this deep undercurrent of rivalry and guilt and all these other delicious histories.There are so many books dealing with the concept of the afterlife and what happens to us after we die. Kimberly Sabatini still manages to make her particular book world something entirely different from what we usually see. It's set up simply with room to change and it constantly does throughout the book. The technicality of it was sometimes hard to follow but it was still a great take and a new angle that I loved to see.I didn't know how to describe my thoughts after finishing Touching the Surface. I scoured every interview that Kimberly did and every blog post even mentioning this book when I heard about it, and read the first paragraph of the book in a teaser that Kimberly released. I wanted, no, NEEDED this book so badly and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to review it. Both achingly beautiful and refreshing, Touching the Surface is a book that I would honestly recommend to everyone that I know.Elliot was definitely a flawed character, and one of the most realistic teen narrators that I've read in a while. Her temper got the best of her and sometimes she was selfish. She ignored some things that she didn't want to face and withdrew into herself when she just wanted to think instead of act. She also learned and grew. She thought of herself as a good person and she tried so hard to understand the world around her and the people around her. She struggled with a lot and indulged in a lot but these were precisely the qualities that reminded me of myself.One of the biggest parts of being a teenager is being completely confused almost all of the time. I know that I related to this book because Elliot's anguish and self-awareness reminded me of myself and freshman year. Everybody is trying to figure out who they are and who they belong with. They're painfully aware of how others see them and just completely overwhelmed. If you're experiencing something similar, I definitely recommend Touching the Surface. It takes a common underlying problem and surrounds it with incredible character and a refreshing setting.Trevor, Oliver, and Julia were wonderful supporting characters. From Trevor's dark persona and confusing mood swings to Oliver's sunny personality, I loved the boys in this book. I wouldn't necessarily paint this book as a love triangle as usually viewed in YA - there was one, but it wasn't as intense as some others and it was more realistic than in other books - but it was definitely handled in a way that I loved to see.Kimberly has a great feel for what is realistic for teens and what is going too far. Elliot not only had problems with the guys in her life but also with Julia, her best friend. Julia and Elliot's relationship was changing because Julia understood what was holding her back and was confronting everything that she was too timid to in her previous lives. Elliot changed a lot because of Oliver and Trevor but she also changed because of Julia's influence and being able to start to identify how she wanted to change. There were even some smaller storylines and characters that impacted Elliot's development and the story.While there are definitely some heavier moments in this book where the full weight of Elliot's life really impacts her, it's also heartwarming. She's forced to confront a lot of her mistakes and flaws and gains new perspective by the end of the book. I love a flawed character and Kimberly Sabatini did an excellent job with her character development. Elliot changed in the subtle ways that a teen does.Eloquent and thoughtful writing made this book a standout. Even the most basic concepts in this book were discussed in such an elegant manner that I couldn't help but be entranced. When I first read the writing, I was a complete goner. Kimberly has this incredible ability to phrase things perfectly and capture the little things that really make life worth living. She handled the themes with poise and wove plot and character development so skillfully.I was crying by the end of the book. I got so attached to the characters and so invested in what happened to them. I didn't want to let them go. Endings upset me so much but it still made me happy. She managed to interweave realistic teenage personalities with a well thought out plot and gorgeous writing.  It was a great ending but it left me so emotional. Heavy themes are dealt with elegantly, both delving into detail but also making it simple enough to understand.Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is one of the most poignant and sensitive books that I've ever read. Not only is Kim one of my favorite people EVER (seriously, I could gush for days!) but she has managed to create a beautiful read that gently questions many of my preconceived beliefs about life, death, and love.This vivacious and ephemeral read will bury itself in your mind and soul, and is sure to be a read that you will remember.Recommended for anybody who loves: The Perks of Being a WallflowerLovely, Dark, and DeepElsewhere; afterlife; etc,.Possible book club questions:Elliot sees herself as a good person, but is only aware of what she's done to hurt people when they tell her about it. Do you think Elliot could have prevented being a Third Timer by being aware of this herself? Are you aware of yourself or are you more similar to Elliot? How do you think you can increase this awareness?Which brother did you prefer - Trevor or Oliver? Why?How did Elliot both improve and hurt her relationship with Julia throughout the book?What moments do you think impacted Elliot's character development the most? etc,.