The Disappearances, Emily Bain Murphy – Book Review

The Disappearances

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30971685What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

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*ARC received as a part of a blog tour. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

Where do I even begin? Gosh! This book is so amazing. I love it. I adore it. I just have a lot of feels for it. Okay? So, yes, this will have a lot of flailing, because that’s what I do best!

Let’s start with the plot – so fucking genius. Like, really. It is absolutely amazing with the right amount of mystery and magic and fantasy and romance and friendship and family. This book has it all. And they all form such an important part of the story and the characters that it’s just amazing. I love how the author went about hashing everything out and how she had all these amazing characters who were so very important in their own way. And I loved that all the subplots just meshed so well with the story. Nothing felt forced or out of place or anything. It was like this was meant to happen, you know? So, of course, so many points for such an amazing plot. And then, brownie points because she took such an amazing plot and then meshed it with the brilliance of Shakespeare and literature and made it into a treasure hunt. So, yes, amazing af plot, okay?

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Okay, moving on. The writing. It was so structured. And it flowed so well. The chapters were written in alternating POVs and I never felt that it deterred me. I haven’t read fantasy with changing POVs so it was new for me, but it didn’t take anything away from the story like I was afraid it would. And, there was clear distinction in who’s side a particular chapter was, even though the author didn’t go with the traditional XYZ POV on top of each new chapter. But, there were different markers and it made it very easy for me to understand what was going on.

And then, there’s the characters. Aila is such a good MC. She’s not particularly miss goody – two – shoes, but she stays out of trouble. However, she doesn’t think twice before sneaking out of the house at night to go race. She loves her little brother, but they argue so much and there’s times that she’s so mad at him that she’ll say something and he’ll say something and the whole thing will just blow over. And she is so passionate about reading, like all of us. She is always, always, always reading something or the other and that’s nice. Then, of course, there is her need – want – to clear her mother’s name from the blame game of the Disappearances that happen in Sterling and the lengths she goes to to do that. She’s determined, yeah. All in all, she has the makings of an amazing MC who comes off as a real person with flaws and contradictions. She’s absolutely amaze. I really like her.

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The love interest, Will, is a little less likeable. He does the typical fuckboy things and pulls Aila in and then pushes her away, but he’s a nice boy overall. He gives Aila all these thoughtful presents and he makes sure to include her in stuff seeing as she’s new to town. He takes care of Aila’s brother, Miles too. He always makes them feel welcome in his home and he’s passionate about finding variants to substitute the Disappearances just like his father. He’s a good friend. And though he gets irrationally jealous at times and does stupid things (come on! He’s 17 for god’s sake, of course he’s going to be stupid!), overall, he’s a nice a guy. The romance between them is so cute and there are a few scenes that just make me want to go inside this book and hug Will because he was being so thoughtful and caring towards Aila and it melted my heart.

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I like the open endedness of the book. Aila has helped Sterling with all that she could, but now it’s time to go back home. What will happen once she does? We haven’t a clue. Will her relationship with Will survive? And her friendships with the townsfolk that were forged during her time in Sterling? We don’t know. How will she cope being in her house without her mother? What will her father think of what happened? We don’t know anything about this. I like that. Aila herself is just 17 and she has the whole world ahead of her. She could do anything, be anything and her story could end anywhere. So, I think the open ending was pretty resonating. I like that.

All in all, this was an amazing book and you should definitely read it. Go, buy it now!

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7/9 Tour Stops

Interview – The Hermit Librarian

Mystery Board – Pondering The Prose

Review – The Inkdin Book Blog

7/16 Tour Stops

Review – Bayy in Wonderland

Review – Lost in Ever After

Unique Post – Dani Reviews Things

Review – Mikayla’s Bookshelf

Review – Little Book Wyrm

7/23 Tour Stops

Interview – Blame It On The Books

Review – Reading in the Rain

Unique Post – YA and Wine

Review – Tine’s Reviews

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14865445Emily Bain Murphy grew up in Indiana, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and has also called Massachusetts and Connecticut home.

She loves books, Japanese karaoke, exploring new cities, and anything with Nutella. Her debut YA fantasy, THE DISAPPEARANCES, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017.

Murphy currently lives in San Francisco with her family and is at work on her second novel.

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Nora & Kettle, Lauren Nicolle Taylor – Book Blitz

Nora & Kettle
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: February 29th 2016
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

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EXCERPT:

I snort, push my sleeves up, and lean back on my forearms. She watches me, her eyes on my bare skin, and I wonder what she’s thinking. “Dances. Really? What’s to miss?” My experience with dances was one forced event in the camps where we watched the grownups awkwardly shift in lines to scratchy music. It didn’t look very enjoyable.

She releases the button she’s been playing with and smirks. “Says someone who’s clearly never been to one.”

“How do you know that?” I say, raising an eyebrow and touching my chest, mock offended.

She laughs. It’s starlight in a jar. I blink slowly. “Oh, I can tell just by looking at you, the way you move. You,” she says, pointing at me accusingly. “Can’t dance.”

The candlelight twinkles like it’s chuckling at me. “I can dance,” I say, not sure why I’m lying to defend myself. I’ve never danced in my life.

She stands up and beckons me with her finger, and I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s hurting… but the pain feels good.

She looks like a pirate’s cabin boy, shirt billowing around her small waist, ill-fitting pants rolled over at her hips to stop them from falling down. She points her bare foot at me. “Prove it!”

Shit!

I cough and stand nervously. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them behind my back. She giggles. Touches me. Runs her fingers lightly down my arms until she finds my hands. She grasps my wrists and I gulp as she places one on the small dip between her hips and her ribs, extending the other out like the bow of a boat. Her hand in mine.

I follow her small steps and we wind in circles, avoiding the clumps of debris, painting patterns in the dust.

I stare at my socks and her narrow bare feet, listening to the swish of them across the dirt. “You know, this is pretty weird without music,” I mutter, looking up for a moment and suddenly losing my balance.

She exhales and brings us back to equilibrium. She starts humming softly. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but I pretend it’s the first time. Her voice is sweet, cracked and croaky, but in tune as she gazes at the ground and leads us up and down the back of the tunnel.

This moment is killing me. I don’t want it, but I do. Because I know it won’t be enough and it’s all I’ll get.

The end of the song is coming. It rises and rises and then softly peters out. We look at each other, understanding that something is changing between us, and we have to decide whether to let it. Please, let it.

She sings the last few bars. “And if you sing this melody, you’ll be pretending just like me. The world is mine. It can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”

Her voice is like the dust of a comet’s tail. Full of a thousand things I don’t understand but want to.

She stops and starts to step away. She’s so fragile. Not on the outside. On the outside, her body is strong, tougher than it should have to be. It’s inside that’s very breakable. I’m scared to touch her, but I don’t want to avoid touching her because of what she’s been through. That seems worse.

So I do it, because I want to and I don’t think she doesn’t want me to. Her breath catches as I pull her closer. I just want to press my cheek to hers, feel her skin against mine. There is no music, just the rhythm of two barely functioning hearts trying to reach each other through miles of scar tissue.

She presses her ear to my chest and listens, then she pulls back to meet my eyes, her expression a mixture of confusion and comfort. She breathes out, her lips not wanting to close but not wanting to speak. She settles on a nervous smile and puts her arms around my neck. I inhale and look up at the ceiling, counting the stars I know are up there somewhere, and then rest my cheek in her hair.

I don’t know how she is here. I don’t know when she’ll disappear.

We sway back and forth, and it feels like we might break. That we will break if we step apart from each other.

I can’t let her go.

I think I love dancing.

 

Author Bio:

Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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