Book Review: The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess @nikkigrey_ @fluxbooks

The Quiet You Carry
Nikki Barthelmess
Flux, March 2019
ISBN 978-1-63583-028-6
Trade Paperback

Teens face many troubles. From typical to uniquely terrible, talked-to-death to barely touched; there is a tie that binds: this part of life is a different kind of tough.

The Quiet You Carry ponders points that may not be particularly prevalent in publishing yet, but actually affect many children today. Certainly domestic-abuse situations are beginning to be addressed and recently, I’ve read about characters in foster-care and adoption. Still, I’m admittedly overwhelmed with what I’ve learned here and a bit ashamed of my ignorance. Taboo topics turn to thoughtful talking points when Ms. Barthelmess brilliantly blurs lines.

Contrary to popular belief, first impressions are not always accurate. The very person that seems aloof and uncaring may have the biggest heart. Only, it has been so badly broken, on multiple occasions, that it has hardened in self-preservation. After all, enthusiasm and an earnest need to make a difference can definitely be dampened by a laborious, under-staffed system. Add in the horror humans inflict on one another, and that intuitive good nature is bound to become buried beneath metaphorical armor in a vain effort to hold onto the very last bit of a kind, caring and conscientious soul.

Abuse does not need to be physical to invoke very real pain and suffering. Victoria’s story is not just about how her father changed after her mother’s death. Equally important examples of manipulation in her parents’ marriage paint a bigger picture. Accompanying this sweet, sheltered teen through her trials and tribulations evokes every kind of tear, from heartache to hope. Being that teens tend to be resilient creatures; bending, never breaking, there is also some humor.

I cannot imagine a better way to enlighten and empower our adolescents.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2019.

Book Review: Aurelious Forty by Dianna Beirne

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Title: Aurelious Forty
Series: Aurelious Forty, Volume One

Author: Dianna Beirne
Publication Date: December 12, 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult

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Aurelious FortyAurelious Forty
Aurelious Forty, Volume One
Dianna Beirne
Dianna Beirne, December 2014
ISBN 978-0986327100
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Aurelious Forty has led a lonely, troubled life. He stays disconnected from the world around him with no family and no friends. He lives merely to exist…to survive.

Aurelious’ life changes in an instant when an impulsive decision forces him to abandon everything he has ever known. Choosing to follow strangers into a new world, he discovers he was born with a gift so strong, so unique; it could give him the power to change humanity.

But the shadows of his childhood are long and dark and run through every fiber of his soul. Can Aurelious break the chains of his past and use his gift for good? Or will the nightmare of his tormentors set him on a path of revenge so fierce it could destroy us all?

Here we have a young man who’s a true loner, just a few steps shy of being a hermit. He doesn’t want to be away from all people as hermits do. In fact, he is entranced by people and always wants to observe them and write about them on his treasured laptop; what he doesn’t want is to know people, to have them in his life in real form, to engage with them in any way. His lack of connection with others might lead one to think that he’s anti-social and perhaps he is but one should not make the mistake that he suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder. Far from it. He doesn’t want to harm us nor does he have a disregard for our well-being. He just doesn’t want to know us.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, for Aurelious, his armor is about to be pierced when he meets Brekwyn and Anira. His life takes a turn he could never have anticipated and he enters a world he could never have imagined. Too bad it’s not going to be all peaches and cream.

When I first saw this book, I was reluctant to read it because of the description. I like fantastical stories and those with paranormal elements, even the ones that just mess with my mind but, before I go into it, I want to know at least a little something about what’s going to happen. I don’t need a lot of detail—in fact, I dislike the descriptions that go on and on, just give me a couple of hints—but give me something, please. Ms. Beirne doesn’t really offer much but there was just a little something, a tug, that made me want to at least dip my toe into these waters and I’m so very glad I did.

I can’t really say much more about Aurelious or his tale because it would be chockful of spoilers so let me just say this: take a leap into the unknown and you’ll be surprised and, even with a massive cliffhanger, you’ll come away feeling good about this boy 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.

A Deeper Look at a Main
Character: Aurelious Forty

Aurelious is, at times, a bit of an enigma. He is a very emotional character and while he shares his emotional experiences with the reader, he tries desperately to hide them from the characters that he interacts with on the page. He is typically unsuccessful in masking his own emotions from those around him though he’s generally unaware of how unsuccessful he is because he’s fairly self-absorbed, at least in the beginning of the book. Enigma.

There is a lot to love in Aurelious but he makes you work at loving him, he doesn’t give it right away. There are times when you might think it’s easier to dislike him but then he draws you in and you’re reminded of what he endured as a child and you’re proud of how far he’s come.

Although he is the main character and the one telling us his story, he isn’t the hero. He is really more of a sidekick who has to learn from the hero and finds himself fumbling along the way, a lot. He fumbles so much that he makes the hero a little less heroic for a minute. But, when he starts to look outside of himself, when he starts to connect with and care for the people around him, when he shows us how much he changes and overcomes, then he does become a little bit more of a hero himself. Or at least makes us question how a hero could be defined.

Aurelious Forty struggles. He learns. He grows. He changes . He is an imperfect character, just like the rest of us. And, in his imperfection, he is worthy of being loved, just like the rest of us. As the person who created him, I must confess, I hope people will embrace his flaws and love him.

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About the Author

Dianna BeirneDianna Beirne lives in a fantasy world. Okay not really, but part of her wishes she did and, since that’s technically impossible, she writes about fantasy worlds instead. Her first Young Adult novel entitled Aurelious Forty; Volume One quickly turned into her first Young Adult series with the addition of Aurelious Forty; Volume Two and, Aurelious Forty; Volume Three.

When not writing, she’s generally daydreaming which morphs into wondering if that last daydream could turn into a book. She has also recently discovered podcasts but doesn’t exactly understand what they are or why they’re different from regular radio shows. So it’s safe to assume that her next book won’t be about a podcast. Instead she’ll just keep listening to the ones that she finds that hilarious because laughing is one of her favorite pastimes and she finds way too many things funny!

Prior to dedicating her time to writing, Dianna taught under graduate and graduate courses about using literacy in the elementary, middle, and high school classroom. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Literacy and a Doctorate in Education specializing in Curriculum and Teaching.

Dianna lives in New York and is the grateful mother of a son whom she misses terribly when he is away at college.

Author Links:

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Book Review: Untellable by Suzanne Lilly

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Title: Untellable
Series: Honey Creek
(created by Turquoise Morning Press imprint Honey Creek Books)

Author: Suzanne Lilly
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Publication Date: February 2013
Edition: Ebook  (Trade paperback to follow)

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UntellableUntellable
Honey Creek Suspense
Suzanne Lilly
Turquoise Morning Press, February 2013
ISBN 978-1-62237-125-9
Ebook

From the publisher—

Aspen Dwyer, recently emancipated from foster care, is searching for a place to hide from a past with secrets too dark to share. Honey Creek, Ohio, presents itself as the best place to start a new life and stay undercover. There she meets Colton Moraine, a man with strong family ties and an even stronger sense of loyalty. His boisterous, loving family welcomes Aspen with warmth she hasn’t felt in years. She’s surprised at how quickly and deeply she falls for Colton. When a dangerous criminal comes to Honey Creek, intent on his revenge against her, Aspen must choose between two options. Should she stay and risk her life and the rejection of the people she’s grown to love? Or should she run again and leave behind any chance of a happy future?

I don’t often read contemporary young adult fiction but something about this one caught my interest and I’m not sorry it did. What could have been just a routine coming-of-age story turned out to have just the right amounts of suspense, romance and a look at a family that is not, big surprise, dysfunctional. How refreshing!

When Aspen first sets foot in Honey Creek, we don’t have any clear idea of why she is so defensive and aloof so I was a bit put off at her initial reaction to Colton but also charmed at his willingness and confidence to persevere. This was a very likeable young man and the mother in me wanted to make Aspen take a good look at him. Not only is he nice, he’s also got a lot of other things going for him.

Then she meets her new employer and all the family that comes with her in a nice, neat package, the kind of family any sensible person would love to have—except for one person. I have to confess, I couldn’t stand Elise, just could not stand her. Other readers will no doubt have a different reaction to her but, to me, Elise is excessively nosy and a self-centered idiot who cares ONLY about herself and what she wants. That does not change even though she becomes the catalyst for a very dark episode in Aspen’s new life.

Aspen’s background is painful but she has two wonderful people in her corner from years gone by, her grandmother, Millie, and her social worker, Margot Finkler. These are two caring, loyal women and it’s questionable whether Aspen would be as strong emotionally as she is if these ladies had not been part of her life. They also play an integral part in the inevitable disaster that is about to befall this girl whose secrets are as terrible as they can be.

What happens when her dark past comes to town is chockful of suspense and danger and lifts this tale above the ordinary. I didn’t have any real concern about the eventual outcome but Ms. Lilly completely engaged me with the unfolding of events (although Elise’s behavior afterwards did nothing to improve my opinion of her since she made all her journalistic plans before asking what Aspen might want).

Honey Creek is the setting for a number of books by different authors and is the eponymous name of an imprint of this publisher. Untellable is a nice introduction, although I wish this novella had been a bit longer, and I’ll be looking for more tales of Honey Creek and more books by Suzanne Lilly.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2013.

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About the Author

Suzanne LillySuzanne Lilly writes lighthearted young adult stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending. Her debut novel was Shades of the Future in 2012 followed by Untellable in 2013. Her newest novel, A Thousand Little Secrets will be available in August, 2013.Her short stories have appeared in numerous places online and in print, and she has placed and received honorable mentions in writing contests. She lives in Northern California where she reads, writes, cooks, swims, and teaches elementary students.

You may find Suzanne Lilly online at these sites:

WebsiteBlogGoodreadsTwitterFacebookAmazon Author Page

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