Jul 29, 2017

ARC Review: The Border by Steve Schafer


Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer
Publisher: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 360 Pages
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017

Summary: One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange, and I'm honestly so glad that I did. I didn't expect to be so engrossed in this book, but it seriously captivated me from the first word to the last, and I was even disappointed when it was over because I didn't want to end. In my opinion, this was a really, really good book.

As the summary explains, Pato's friends and family happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they're the victims of an attack by a drug cartel. (Why did they attack that family party, you ask? You'll just have to read the book to find out.) Only Pato and three of his other friends manage to survive, but then the situation is so dire that they know they can't stay in Mexico anymore -- which means that they have to attempt to cross the border into the U.S. There are several problems with that, though -- they're broke, they're kids, and they have absolutely no idea what they're doing. So this book chronicles their journey across the desert as they struggle to stay alive and reach freedom, battling the many dangerous (and sometimes deadly) obstacles that come their way.

This book really opened my eyes to a lot of things, which I thought was incredibly important and one of the best things about it. Not only did it show me firsthand experience through the eyes of Pato about the struggles and dangers that people in Mexico face every single day in their drug wars, but it also showed how dangerous and deadly crossing the U.S. border really is. I feel like there are a lot of people that think people from Mexico just hop through a hole in a fence and waltz around in America, immediately getting jobs and good lives and "taking away from hardworking Americans." (For the record, I completely disagree with this line of thought.) But what this book really demonstrates is how much hard work, heartbreak, and sacrifice goes into gaining just a small slice of freedom that American citizens are blessed with as their birthright and never have to work for at all. And once these immigrants get to the United States...things aren't pretty, or simple, and people are just doing what they have to do to survive, just like anybody else.

A character that I really liked in this book was Gladys. Not only was she adorable and funny and creative, but she was such a good soul and kept the group together and grounded through all of the hardships they faced. Even when times were grim and some pretty terrible things were happening. Gladys and her good heart kept everything at least semi-positive and she refused to give up even when I definitely would have, and when her companions definitely wanted to. She was a good soul throughout the entire book, and she was funny and sweet and artistic and I can definitely see why Pato liked her as much as he did. 

(Minor spoilers ahead so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want this book spoiled for you!) The only thing about this book that I wasn't crazy about was the ending, in the sense that I was left with so many questions that I didn't even remotely have answers to. Where did Marco go? Did they end up being captured? What happened when they got to Denver? And to Sr. Ortiz? And do they ever contact his children? What about Tito? There was just so much that I didn't know that I wish I did, and I was left with sooo many questions. But other than that, I really don't have any other complaints about the book. That's really it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Border. While the premise sounded interesting, I didn't expect to be sucked in so quickly, but before I knew it, I was unable to put the book down. Not only was the story itself so gripping, but Steve Schafer is such an excellent writer that his words leaving you wanting more and more. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, I definitely recommend adding it -- because even if you read the summary and think the book isn't your cup of tea, it's worth a shot, because if you're like me, you'll be delightfully surprised, and gasping with every turn of the page.

Seriously guys. So many plot twists.

I'm so glad that I got the chance to review The Border, and if you get the chance, I definitely recommend you do it too! I'm looking forward to reading more from Steve Schafer in the future after this book, that's for sure.

Jul 28, 2017

Guest Post: Temple West Talks Inspiration

Hi guys! We have a fun little treat for you guys here on the blog today -- Temple West, author of Velvet and Cashmere, is here to talk inspiration! She's super creative when it comes to both writing and turning pieces from thrift stores into works of art, so we couldn't imagine a better topic for her to come here and talk about. Without further ado, it's time to give the (metaphorical) floor to Temple!

Temple West


There have been many an article written about pantsing versus plotting. Since I fit neatly into neither category, I have created a third category: plontsing. Sometimes I pants, sometimes I plots. (Neither of those words needed an “s” but it sounded way more fun.)

When I was younger, I wrote whenever inspiration struck, which was virtually every day. I had this lovely thing called “free time” on my hands as well as “summer vacation” and “Christmas vacation” and “weekends.” Rent, bills, student loan payments — those were all problems for the future. I was living in blissful adolescence; the golden years where my worst conundrum was wondering how long I could go before the smell of my overflowing hamper forced me to do laundry.

Back then, inspiration was all around. I lived on a greenbelt; a strip of forest surrounded by houses, and its wild greenery offered up endless storylines. When I was even younger, I lived in the desert, where the mountains stuck up out of the cracked terrain like the rusted bones of ancient war-gods. Sunlight slanting through the windows looked like misting gold; rotting two-by-fours in the scum-covered pond like the moldering decks of long-lost ships; maggot-infested possums like the spoils of gruesome battle between feuding rodent clans.

Now I go to work. I put gas in my car, and commute. I pay for health insurance, and car insurance, and my credit card, and my Adobe Creative Suite subscription, and Dropbox subscription, and Vimeo subscription, and Hulu subscription, and Dollar Shave Club subscription, and iPhone storage, and… 

My day is eaten up so quickly now. By the time I’ve taken care of the essentials, I have so little energy left to observe the world, let alone write about it. I don’t notice the light slanting through the windows like misting gold. I drive around the maggot-infested road kill and through the desert mountains on autopilot, trying to get from Point A to Point B. I pay my bills, then worry about paying my bills again the next month (and the next, and the next). No one warns you how quickly you become tired when you grow up.

So now, I have to hunt down inspiration. I have to make the space to find it, or to let it find me. Sometimes this is as simple as snapping awake at the meter while I’m waiting to merge onto the freeway on my way to work, noticing how the green and red lights shimmer through the foggy rain. Sometimes it’s ditching my hair and make up and going to Goodwill in my sweatpants, feasting my eyes on the antique silver butter dishes and massive, gold-framed oil paintings and ornate vintage wedding dresses. Sometimes it’s driving to the cliff in Edmonds and just watching the sea; the light shifting through the clouds in sheets, piercing the water, then retreating.

And sometimes, instead of binge-watching Star Trek: Voyager, I go to bed early so I can wake up early so I can tell stories. And sometimes, in the dark and quiet of the morning, I find the right words to capture the insane beauty of the world.


Once again, we'd just like to thank Temple West for being sweet enough to guest post on our blog! It was so great having her here and we always love working with her, so we couldn't think of a better fit for our first author to do a guest post here with us. :-) I totally agree with everything she said (especially how quickly time slips away from you when you're an adult)

What'd you think of today's post? Have any questions for us or Temple? Leave a comment down below! 

Jul 26, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Emily's Waiting on:

Title: Jane, Unlimited
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books 
Publication Date: Sept. 19th, 2017

Summary: Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.
Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.
I received an ARC of this at BookCon and cannot wait to start reading this. I'm excited to find out the events that will unfold at Tu Reviens. I'm also curious about Jane's umbrella making obsession and hoping it leads to something interesting. Be sue to look back soon for my ARC review and after it's published, let us know your opinions!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back!