Review + Q&A: “Foul is Fair” by Hannah Capin

42595554Title: Foul is Fair
Author: Hannah Capin
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content warning: Sexual assault, rape, physical violence, murder, suicide, transphobic bullying
(For a more comprehensive list of CWs please visit the author’s site.)
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Dark and gritty, Hannah Capin tells a tale of burning rage and bloody vengeance in her sophomore offering Foul is Fair.

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenney, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Revenge and murder, these two words seem to always draw my attention, and it’s those same words that brought me to this book.

Foul is Fair is vicious, bloody and unapologetically angry. Capin channels the Bard’s Macbeth putting her own twists to it supplanting power-grabbing, murderous Scottish nobles and prophesying witches with entitled rich kids from an elite prep school and a group of knife-sharp girls bonded by their pact of vengeance.

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This book doesn’t hold anything back but consider yourselves forewarned: a good chunk of what happens in this book is implausible so suspend your disbelief, leave it at the doorstep before delving in.

This book was just impossible to put down. The story is fast-paced; the writing is crisp and sharp. Capin tackles rape culture and privilege head on, no frills, no social commentary buried in complex prose. Manipulative, diabolic, and so full of dark, deadly secrets, her characters in this story are not ones you usually see or even want to root for. These characters are shallowly drawn, almost like a caricature – something that usually turns me off but for this story, it works.

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It may not be for everyone, Foul is Fair is grim, even more grim than I thought it would be. At several points, the story could be too much that’s it’s hard to continue pushing back your disbelief, but there is certainly something freeing reading something that puts into words some of the deepest and darkest thoughts you’ve had. If you’ve enjoyed Sadie (Courtney Summers,) The Female of the Species (Mindy McGinnis,) and Sawkill Girls (Claire Legrand,) this book is for you.

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Though it was tough at times, I enjoyed reading Foul is Fair. It was filled to the brim with heedless, reckless rage, which was just so deliciously gratifying.  So, I’m happy to have a chance to ask Hannah Capin a few short questions about her new book.

What inspired you to write Foul is Fair?

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to write a story that subverts the expected narrative of a sexual assault survivor. FOUL IS FAIR centers a girl who seizes her power back by any means necessary. She isn’t a “good girl,” she doesn’t do what she “should” do, and she absolutely never apologizes.

What would you like readers to take away after finishing this book?

That’s up to the reader! Books should *make* you think, not tell you *what* to think.

In 2 GIFs or emojis, sum up Foul is Fair.

about the authorHannah Capin

HANNAH CAPIN is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

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Special thanks go out to Meghan Harrington and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Foul is Fair in advance.

Author Q&A: Emma Lord (Author of “Tweet Cute”)

Tweet Cute was one of the last books I finished in 2019, and boy, am I excited for this debut. This story was just so toothachingly sweet and cheesy, think updated version of You’ve Got Mail with a whole lot of Twitter drama thrown in.

Twitter brand wars aside, Tweet Cute tackles familial pressure and the pains of growing up – two topics that most us are all too familiar with. I’d talk about it more in my review set to be published next week. In the meantime, I had the lovely chance to ask debut author Emma Lord a few questions about her book.

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“Tweet Cute” featured a Twitter brand war, something we have seen (and laughed at) before [e.g. Taco Bell vs Old Spice, Burger King vs Wendy’s]. Were you inspired by any IRL Twitter brand war?

I wasn’t inspired by any one Twitter war, but definitely Twitter Brand War Culture. I work in digital media, so I was covering a lot of them in pieces I was writing and assigning out. Plus one of my very close friends is a social media manager, and it was always funny to get insight on her side of the Twitter curtain and find out what’s really going on behind the scenes. A lot of that factored into the decision to write the book.

Even though “Tweet Cute” is mostly sweet and fluffy, both Jack and Pepper was put through the wringer having to deal with school, their families and friends, and deciding what they want to do. What do you want your readers, especially the younger ones, to take away from your story? And if you could give them an advice, what would that be?   

I guess one of the takeaways that felt important to me was that nothing really truly gets “set in stone” in high school; even if you’ve set yourself on a certain path or feel obligated to follow one someone set out for you, you’re allowed to change your mind. Also, the thing you’re meant to do and truly love might be the last thing you expect! Definitely let your heart lead you, whenever you’re lucky enough to find things you’re passionate about.

Finally, using three memes, describe “Tweet Cute”.

OKAY MY BODY IS READY. My number one is based on that text post meme that’s like “on the outside I am human on the inside I am pasta and sin,” except for Tweet Cute it’s “on the outside i am human on the inside i am cheese and tweets”.

Number two is the “is this a pigeon?” meme:

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Number three is the Captain America detention meme, and it is not aimed at Pepper and Jack, but at me.

captain america meme

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Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. 

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. 

 

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected

 

about the authorEmma Lord

EMMA LORD is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel.

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Special thanks go out to Meghan Harrington and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Tweet Cute in advance.

Author Q&A + Sneak Peek: Candace Ganger (Author of “Six Goodbyes We Never Said”)

I’ve always believed that stories are great vehicles to open discussions especially for topics and issues most people often shy away from. Mental health, a topic close to my heart, is one of those so any time a book that promises any representation of this issue comes out I make sure to pay attention.

Six Goodbyes We Never Said, which releases today, tackles death, grief, and mental illness in an introspective and sometimes heartbreaking way. Author Candace Ganger draws from her own experiences and creates a story that’s realistic yet still sensitive, never downplaying the everyday effects of mental illness. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to have her answer a few of my questions about her new book and to be able to give you a little preview of it in this post.

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What inspired you to write “Six Goodbye We Never Said”? 

I wanted to showcase the way my disorders present to help others understand. I’ve written about my struggle with identity and loss as long as I can remember so this novel was a way to finally say goodbye. I’m still struggling with loss, so this was a way to navigate my own grief. That aside, my brother was a U.S. Marine, I have close friends who have fostered and adopted their children, and Six Goodbyes felt like the best place to tell all of these stories at once.

As an author, how important is it to tackle mental health in YA? 

It’s not only important, it’s *the most* important. If we can’t develop empathy for those suffering in silence, are we even human? My teen years were rough because I kept so much of my pain hidden to, what I thought, protect myself. I didn’t want people getting inside my head–I didn’t want to be vulnerable, fear of my pain being used against me. Writing YA helps me tell teen me, “Hey, I see you, girl. You’re not as alone as you think you are so open up a little about what you’re going through to find out how much people care about you.” If I’d heard that then, I’d have endured far less pain, isolation, and loneliness, in the years to come.

What would you like readers to take away from your story after reading it? 

To treat others with kindness and compassion. Our first reaction is usually to anger when someone attacks us or hurts us (because they don’t understand), but nothing is ever solved in hurting others when we’re hurt. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors so take a mi finite to try and understand the reasons why someone is treating you a certain way on any particular day. Kindness matters. It really really does.

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Check out the link below to read the first chapter of Six Goodbyes We Never Said.

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

about the author

Candace Ganger AP_Credit Candace GangerCANDACE GANGER is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

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Special thanks go out to Sarah Bonamino and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Six Goodbyes We Never Said in advance.

Blog Tour + Review & Author Q&A:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

37638243Title: I Do Not TrusYou

Authors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Get it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teenaged girl and a young man become an uneasy allies as they set on an epic quest in writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s newest offering I Do Not Trust You.

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

I went into this book almost blind. It was my first time reading anything from Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns (not unless you count watching Roswell), so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But this one surprised me in a good way.

I Do Not Trust You is what you will get if you throw Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider into a blender and add in a dash of The Mummy (the original one, okay, the one with Brendan Fraser). With an intriguing plot filled with adventure, danger, mysterious groups and vengeful ancient gods, this book will reel in readers from the first page up to its last.

The two main characters – Memphis, or simply “M” and Ash – are both bring different things into the story. M, having grown up in various archeological digs with her archeologist dad and doctor mom, have acquired an extraordinary knowledge of ancient history and dead languages. She’s awesome in a fight, too. Ash, meanwhile, brings in a bit more mystery into the story. A part of a cult worshipping the ancient Egyptian god Horus, he bankrolls their adventure and uses what he knows about the mythical god and his nemesis, Set.

It was interesting to read how M and Ash work together. They want different things with M wanting to rescue the father she thought had died in a plane crash and Ash being tasked by his group to retrieve an ancient map which points out where pieces of a mystical statue of Set are hidden. They start out forging an uneasy alliance out of necessity, but, by the end of the book, the two have earned each other’s trust.

The globe-trotting M and Ash’s duo undertook to retrieve the Set pieces was another aspect of the story that I loved. Oh! All those places! It was, essentially, a fun scavenger hunt. Still, the authors were able to incorporate bits of history and culture into the story’s narrative in a way that flowed well. It was just awesome!

The book had a couple of flaws, though. The way Memphis quickly puzzles together the clues they find is sometimes unbelievable. I get it, she grew up with an archeologist father and she does know her stuff. Still, I just find it too easy of a way out for both characters, though it does move the story. Also, that abrupt ending! I’m sure I won’t be alone in this opinion. It was sort of open-ended and it left me hanging.

Overall, I Do Not Trust You is an entertaining read. Readers will find adventure within the pages of this book by the truckload. I’d recommend this to YA fantasy and mythology fans.

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I was lucky to have a chance to ask Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns about their new book I Do Not Trust You. Read on to find out what inspired them to write the ancient battle between Horus and Set, and how they work as co-authors.

Rachel: You’ve been writing as a duo for a long time now. How do you make it work with Laura living in New York & Melinda in North Carolina? Who writes what and so on?

Laura & Melinda: Even when we both lived in New York City, we’d mostly do our work together on the phone or over email. Because we’re lazy, is what we’re saying. We both prefer to stay at home and spend our days in pajamas.

We work out plots and character arcs in hours-long phone sessions. Once we have those, we take turns outlining. We’ll email the draft outline back and forth with notes to each other until we’re happy with it. (These days we use a shared document, because technology is good.) When one of us gets stumped, usually the other can fix the problem. After the outline is finished, we split it in half and each of us writes one half. Then we revise it, over and over, taking turns. The trick is that we decide in advance what the voice should be, how each character should sound. We know each other’s writing so well that we can match the tone pretty well, and anything that doesn’t match gets edited when we put it all together. Neither of us is precious about our writing–we are as comfortable changing each other’s words as we are changing our own. It all comes down to trust.

R: Your upcoming book involves some mythology, Egyptian mythology to be exact. What made you decide on weaving it into M’s and Ash’s story?

L & M: No lie, we attempt to weave Egyptian mythology into whatever we can! One of our earliest discoveries about each other was that we both loved the book The Egypt Game when we were kids. Usually, though, the stories we write don’t leave much room for Egypt. But this book was about a treasure hunt of sorts, and our minds immediately went to Egyptian artifacts. (Fortuitously, our editor is also an Egyptian mythology fangirl. One of the many things we love about her.) The Horus and Set story seemed a natural, since it involves the goddess Isis searching for the scattered pieces of her husband’s body the same way our characters were searching for scattered pieces of a statue.

R: Lastly, could you summarize your book using 3 emojis?

L & M:

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About the authors:

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Special thanks goes to Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz for giving me their time for this Q&A, and Brittani Hilles at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.

Blog Tour + Author Q&A: Sarah Bird

Bird - Author Image (credit Sarah Wilson)

With already 10 books under her belt, Sarah Bird is already a veteran author. But, somehow, her latest release Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is extra close to her heart. Lightly based on the life of the only known female Buffalo Soldier, Cathy Williams, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines a light on an inspiring, feisty woman.

In this author Q&A, Sarah talks about what inspired her new book, her writing process, and a little bit about what’s in store for her in the future.

 

Rachel: How did you decide to take on writing about Cathay Williams? What about her did you find the most compelling?

Sarah Bird: I first heard about Cathy Williams’ extraordinary feat of disguising herself as a man and serving for two years in the Buffalo Soldiers way back in the late nineteen-seventies when I was photographing and documenting African-American rodeos.

My imagination was seized by the tale of a slave who, at the end of the Civil War, made the singular decision to reject the life of servitude she would have had as a woman, and enlisted with one of the six new regiments formed by the U.S. Army. If this story were true, I thought, then Cathy Williams was the first woman to serve in the regular U.S. military. Though hundreds of women had passed as men during both the Revolutionary and Civil War, I had not heard of any who’d done so during peacetime.

Perhaps because I am the daughter of two warriors–a career Air Force officer and an Army nurse who served from Casa Blanca to Marseilles–who grew up on military bases around the world with an understanding of the power of a uniform, the power of the salute, I felt a special affinity with a woman who shared that understanding and tried to learn more about her. Back in those pre-Internet days, however, I found no trace of Cathy Williams, Buffalo Soldier, and assumed the fabulous story was apocryphal.

Cathy did not return to me until 1988, when, pregnant with our son, I attended a childbirth class taught by Pam Black, teacher at a predominantly African-American school. When she learned that I was a novelist, Pam told me I “had to” write a book about a forgotten hero that her students, especially the girls, needed to know, Cathy Williams. Before I had time to tell her that there never was a female Buffalo Soldier, Pam handed me copies of Cathy’s enlistment certificate, discharge, and her application for a pension. Thrilled to know that she was real, I quickly hunted down the rest of what little documentation exists about Cathy Williams.

The more I learned, the more “inhabited” I felt by Cathy and, with her slender archive as a trellis, her imagined life twined through me and, after many more twists and turns, blossomed into a tale as majestic as her decision had been.

R: How much research went to making this book?

SB: A ton!! Fortunately, I live in a city with a world-class university library system, including one library that specializes in the history of the West. They provided me with a wealth of material. I also traveled to Fort Davis, six hours away in West Texas, many times. I used this fully restored fort which had once been regimental headquarters for the Buffalo Soldiers as the setting for Cathy’s service in the West. I also benefited from visiting the Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston which allows visitors to handle artifacts.

R: What’s the biggest takeaway do you want readers to have from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen?

SB: What has always inspired me the most was the example of a woman presented with nothing but horrible choices, imagining herself into a better life than any on offer. I am thrilled by the pioneers and heroes among us who find a way when there is no way.

Second, I’d like readers to take away the certain knowledge that, as far as we know, Cathy Williams was the first woman, of any race, to enlist in the regular, peacetime armed forces. One hundred and twenty years before the act that allowed women to enlist in the regular army was signed into law in 1948.

R: You’ve been writing historical fiction since the 80s, and while most of it is built on real events and people at its base you still add some things into the story. How do you decide what things to add into your stories and how do you balance this out with the historical foundations of your stories?

SB: Such a great question. I sort of think it as building a fire. The research is the kindling, the logs, the careful addition of the right material at the right time. The story is the flame. Too little fuel and it fizzles out. Too much and the fire is suffocated, buried beneath the weight of too much research. For me, one of the major dangers is falling in love with some juicy nugget or astounding fact that I’ve unearthed then, sort of, deforming the story to shoehorn it in. I won’t point to specific examples in my own work, but , as far as research goes, I’ve learned to kill my darlings.

R: Do you have another book in the works?

SB: Yes, I am researching the story of a doomed love affair set in the world of dance marathons during the Great Depression. And, boy oh boy, are there ever some juicy nuggets!

R: When you aren’t writing, what things keep you busy?

SB: The heart of Austin, for me, is Barton Springs, a three-acre, limestone-bedded pool where the water is 68 degrees all year round. I go there to swim, think out plot points, and abate anxiety.

R: Lastly, if you could described Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen in 3 words, what would it be?

SB: I can’t do any better than my friend, the wondrous Christina Baker Kline who described the novel as, “an epic page-turner.” I always imagined Cathy’s story as larger than life and attempted to write a book of that scope.

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About the author:

SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.

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To celebrate the release of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, I am, with the help of St. Martin’s Press, giving away a copy of this amazing book. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link below. This is open to everyone. (Yes, even you wonderful international readers! Yes, of course, you!)

Also, if you haven’t yet, please check out my review of the book.

I am so thankful and happy to be given a chance to be a part of the blog tour for this very special book. Special thanks goes to Sarah Bird for giving me her time for this Q&A and Clare Maurer at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.