Thursday, December 6, 2018

Blog Tour Review—The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher


Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Published: October 23, 2018
Genre: Middle School 
Source: Finished Copy
Rating: 5 Stars


Blurb:
Why settle for a pony or a puppy for Christmas when you could have a dinosaur? A rollicking adventure from singer-songwriter and YouTuber Tom Fletcher.

Once upon a time--long, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth--an egg rolled away from its mother and landed in the ocean, where it froze solid and stayed peacefully for thousands of years. Then one day Santa and his elves discover the frozen egg, and Santa sits on it to see if it will hatch. But he can't guess what's inside. . . . A dinosaur!

Meanwhile, a young boy named William Trundle has only ever wished for one thing for Christmas: a dinosaur! So when Santa accidentally gives William the real Christmasaurus instead of a stuffed replica, it's the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! Until an evil man known as the Hunter decides a dinosaur will be the perfect addition to his collection.

A wild and hilarious adventure ensues. An instant Christmas classic!

Review:
Oh. My. Goodness. This is probably one of the best and most imaginative children’s books I’ve read in a long time. It was absolute joy from the very first page until the very last to read. I love when books do that! I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the author until I was asked to be part of the blog tour for The Christmasaurus. 

I didn’t waste any time whatsoever going and buying the other books Fletcher has written. His mind is genius and I loved his take on Santa and Christmas. Bonus points for including dinosaurs. I believe with more books out there like those of Fletcher’s; more children will want to flock to reading. After all, reading is very essential to success. I read it in a book, so it must be true!

William Trundle is a boy whose only ever wanted one thing for Christmas—a dinosaur. Not a toy dinosaur either...a REAL ONE! The adventure that awaits the reader is magical. Magic is totally real and if there’s one thing to learn from this book, it’s to dream big. 

This is one families should have at Christmas time reading around a fire. And as the author himself suggests; prepare a plate of cookies and some hot cocoa for the occasion. I can see this story becoming a classic everywhere. It has the highest of recommendations from me!

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 





About the Author:
Written by McFly band member, YouTuber, and UK celebrity TOM FLETCHER (he has over 1+ MILLION FOLLOWERS on TwitterInstagram and YouTube), THE CHRISTMASAURUS is sure to become an instant Christmas classic.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Blog Tour Guest Post ft. Giveaway—A Dreadful Fairy Book Written by Jon Etter





Publisher’s Synopsis: Shade the sprite is dreadful at being the perfect fairy. After her treehouse burns to the ground, Shade embarks on a quest, albeit with rather questionable companions, to find a place her outré self can finally fit in—a place of companionship and comfort and, most importantly, positively filled with books. When fantastic ruffians, swindlers, and a pack of ruthless Unseelie hunters threaten to halt her at every turn, can Shade survive the dreadful journey and find a destination she can truly call home?

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Amberjack Publishing | November 20, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1948705141

Fairy Tales and How They Influenced A Dreadful Fairy Book
Looking back on my childhood, I’ve come to believe myself the product of the most wonderful and benevolent negligence. At age six, my parents started letting me watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus with them, thus making me constitutionally unable to take much of anything seriously. I don’t remember a single time when the good librarians at Forrest Public Library questioned a single book I ever checked out, even when a parent was nowhere in sight and my choices were all but guaranteed to cause nightmares.  And my first grade art teacher, having confirmed that my drawing was indeed a guillotine (complete with basket filled with severed heads), replied with a nod and nonplussed “Okay” rather than referring me to the school psychologist (if we even had one back then).

My Grandma Ruth, however, is probably the one we have to blame for A Dreadful Fairy Book. Whenever I spent the day at her house, she would read to me. Sometimes it was Edgar Allan Poe (“You share a birthday with him, so you should know his work,” she explained to me at age 5 before kindly terrorizing me with “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”), but more often than not it was with fairy tales. Not the sanitized, Disney-fied, tasteless pap that passed for fairy tales in the early ‘80s. The good, old, savory stuff. Tales of tricksters and shapeshifters, blessings and curses, bewitchments and bafflements, schemes and thefts and adductions and patricide, matricide, infanticide, and just about every other –cide you could think of. In the stories that she read to me, Little Red Riding
 Hood and Grandma ended up in the wolf’s belly (later to be cut out of it) instead of a cozy little closet, helpful little birds were sweet enough to peck the eyes out of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, and Jack killed more than just one giantand in more inventive and gruesome ways than chopping down a beanstalk.

As I grew older, stories on Grandma’s lap fell by the wayside but the fairy stories remained, thanks to that perennial corrupter of young imaginations: the local library. There lurking in the 398s of the Dewey Decimal system were the elves, dwarves, kobolds, grindylows, pixies, redcaps, and other fairy folk, lovingly compiled by folklorists like Katharine Briggs, ready to snatch up a curious reader like an untended baby from its crib. These were some of my most regular companions as I grew up there in those wonderfully musty stacks.

And so when I decided in the spring of 2016 to write a fairy book to amuse my children (and, to be honest, myself), I went back to the source. I pillaged the shelves of my local library and hopped into the first fairy circle I could find, careful to consume no food nor drink and to accept no gifts to guarantee my safe return. There were all my old friends and many new ones I had never met before—cowlugsskrikers, and the fearsome nuckelavee to name but a few—all of whom seemed ready for a romp. Sure, some of them got a bit deconstructed and fractured and made just plain silly along the way (fortunately, your average fairy seems to have a pretty good sense of humor), but many if not most were brought to the page just as they were. And when it came time to slap a namenames being, as we all know, extremely powerful thingson my fairyland, it didn’t make much sense to call it anything other than what the Scots have always called it: Elfame.

Now I know at the beginning of this post I highlighted my early love of the more sanguine elements of traditional fairy and folk tales, which, if you are kind enough to read my little book, you’ll no doubt notice are largely absent (it is a comedy for kids, after all, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t do a Game of Thrones-esque culling of my characters). That wasn’t what left the greatest impression on me as a child. It was the morality of fairy tales. Granted, I never much cared for the ones that stressed obedience to one’s elders (and care even less for those now!) and always thought those maidens would be a great deal better off if they could—or, more accurately, were allowed to—save themselves a little more often (perhaps fencing lessons and self-esteem workshops are in order), but the others? Stories where wickedness is always revealed and punished? Stories where acts of kindness and mercy are always rewarded? Stories where being clever always trumps being big and strong and cruel? Those are the stories I loved, still love,always will love, and it’s those stories that I like to think are embedded deep in the DNA of my book.
For all the fun that it pokes, I really believe that A Dreadful Fairy Book is more of a traditional fairy story than not. If it breaks completely from any traditions, it would be from more modern ones that call for children’s stories to be simple and bland and as safe as an unloaded Nerf gun bundled up in bubble wrap. Those traditions I would kindly ask to go see if the oven is hot enough. Gretel there would be delighted to give you a hand…





OFFICIAL LINKS





GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of A Dreadful Fairy Book by Jon Etter!

Ten (10) winners receive:

  • A bound galley copy of A Dreadful Fairy Book

Giveaway begins November 13, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December , 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Amberjack Publishing is responsible for prize fulfillment.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Review—A Duke Changes Everything (Duke's Den #1) by Christy Carlyle



PublisherAvon
Published: November 26, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance 
Source: Print copy
Rating: 2.5 Stars


Blurb:
In the first novel in Christy Carlyle’s sizzling Duke’s Den series, three men, intent on making a fortune, discover irresistible opportunities . . .

Nicholas Lyon gambled his way into a fortune and ownership of the most opulent, notorious gentlemen’s club in England. But when Nick’s cruel brother dies, he inherits a title he never wanted. The sooner Nick is rid of the estate that has always haunted him, the sooner he can return to the life he’s built in London. But there’s one obstacle—the exquisite Thomasina Thorne.

When the new heir to the Tremayne dukedom suddenly appears in Mina Thorne’s life, she’s flustered. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome, but he’s also determined to take away her home and position as steward of the Enderley estate. If Mina learns what makes the enigmatic duke tick, perhaps she can change his mind—as long as she doesn’t get too close to him.

With each day Nick spends with Mina, his resolve weakens as their colliding wills lead to explosive desire. Could she be the one woman who can help him finally bury the ghosts of his past?
 

Review:
A Duke Changes Everything has all the makings of everything I love about historical romance. It has a sassy and snarky heroine—and a hero that doesn’t know what’s he’s in for once he meets the main lady. 

That’s where the positives end, unfortunately. I’m just going to go right ahead and say it, pull the bandaid, so to speak. This was very hard to get through because for most of it, I was so bored. 

The initial meeting between the two was cute and I liked it a lot. Mina shows Nicholas that she won’t go down without a fight and that’s what I loved most about her. You could clearly see that Nicholas did as well. It’s too bad I felt the execution didn’t quite match up to what I felt could have been amazing.

Overall, I would like to see the second book to see if it improves—but if you’re looking for something that will completely take you away from this world, I don’t think this is the one for you. Of course, I never truly want to deter people from something you may enjoy. So if this is something that sparks an interest, try it!

*Thank you to the author for providing a copy for an honest an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 




About the Author:
Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.
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Monday, November 5, 2018

Blog Tour Review—The Reckoning of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions #2) by Michelle Hodkin

I'm so happy to start off the blog tour for our boy, Noah! We have a lot of fun blog posts planned for you. Please make sure to check out the schedule below! 



Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: November 13, 2018
Genre: YA PNR
Source: Print ARC
Rating: 3 Stars



Book Synopsis
In this sequel to The Becoming of Noah Shaw, the companion series to the New York Times bestselling Mara Dyer novels, legacies are revealed, lies are unraveled, and old alliances are forged. Noah’s reckoning is here.

Noah Shaw wants nothing more than to escape the consequences of his choices. 

He can’t. 

He’s sure the memories that haunt him are merely proof of a broken heart. 

They aren’t. 

He thinks he can move forward without first confronting his past. 

He’s wrong.

Review:
Well...that was something. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I feel like something was missing. That being said, of course I enjoyed this. It’s Noah Shaw for goodness sake! If you haven’t yet read Mara Dyer Trilogy and/or the first book in The Shaw Confessions—then I highly recommend that you do. Why? Well for one, a lot of spoilers and you’ll be lost. Things that happened in Mara Dyer are making a comeback in this book. 

Proceed with caution. 

With the way the first book ended—on a cliffhanger, no less—I knew that I needed the next book to see how the story would go. It was weird seeing Noah in such a pessimistic light. Which is kind of the same way he is in The Reckoning. Only, I kind of feel like nothing happened. Plot? Non existent. Mara? Not in the book! For real, I was a
little upset about that.

The ending has definitely made me want to get the next book. Yes, it’s one of those endings again! Noah is an interesting character and being in his head was a bit of a mind game in itself. A bit confusing, if I’m being honest. But this is Noah we’re talking about and nothing can keep me away from him. 

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a free copy for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

BUY NOAH HERE US
BUY NOAH HERE UK


Author Bio
Michelle Hodkin grew up in Florida, went to college in New York, and studied law in Michigan. She is the author of the Mara Dyer trilogy, including The Unbecoming of Mara DyerThe Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution 
of Mara Dyer. Visit her online at MichelleHodkin.com.

Blog Tour Schedule
November 5 – The Lovely Books
November 6 – Too Fond of Books
November 7 – Downright Dystopian
November 8 – Pure Imagination
November 9 – The Book Loving Nut
November 10 – a GREAT Read
November 11 – The Eater of Books!
November 12 – My Guilty Obsession
November 13 – Arctic Books
November 14 – A Gingerly Review
November 15 – Ex Libris Kate
November 16 – Girl in the Pages
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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Review—Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Publisher: Freeform
Published: November 6, 2018
Genre: YA Mystery
Source: Print ARC
Rating: 3 Stars


Blurb:
“I'm not saying this is Sawyer's fault," the prim and proper one said delicately. "But."

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning.

Set in the world of debutante balls, grand estates and rolling green hills, Little White Lies combines a charming setting, a classic fish-out-of-water story, and the sort of layered mystery only author Jennifer Lynn Barnes can pull off.

Review-
Little White Lies starts off amazing. I knew right away it was one I would love. The mystery aspect to the story was perfection and I liked how it all tied together. I didn’t even see that twist coming at all. Sawyer, the main character, is as cool as they get. The girl is a mechanic who comes in contact with her long lost grandmother. Lillian makes Sawyer an offer she couldn’t refuse. 

We then meet a gang of beautiful girls with secrets to hide. The secrets are what kept me reading because I had to know what would happen next. I seriously have so much love for the characters. All of them. They are bring something different to the table but I couldn’t help but adore them. 

Once Sawyer delves deeper into the debutante life, the more secrets start unraveling. Things are not what they seem and sooner or later the truth will prevail. I do admit that at times it was a tiny bit slow. But it’s all worth it. 

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

BUY:

About the Author:
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
 
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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review + Excerpt—Dark Mind Rising (Dark Intercept #2) by Julia Keller


Publisher: Tor Teen
Published: November 13, 2018
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Source: Print ARC
Rating: 3 Stars


Blurb:
When the state is no longer watching, what will you give to feel safe?

New Earth, 2296. Two years after the destruction of a universal surveillance system called the Intercept, New Earth struggles to keep crime under control. The citizens are free, but not protected.

Violet Crowley, the eighteen-year-old daughter of New Earth's founder, has opened Crowley & Associates, a private detective agency, to handle the overflow from the overburdened police force.

Violet's first case—a death written off as a suicide—becomes an obsession. Soon a series of similar deaths leads Violet to believe the Intercept is not only still running—it's in the hands of a killer.

Review:
Dark Mind Rising was a story that I felt surpassed the first book in everything. The book and characters were phenomenal and they grew tremendously. 

It’s been two years since everything shot to hell on New Earth and Violet’s story is only just beginning. Crime is at an all time high and just when they thought they got rid of the Intercept, something worse than that is happening. Violet is now a private detective for Crowley & Associates and she’s taking on a care for a girl whose committed suicide. 

The more she digs, the farther down the rabbit hole she falls. Which in turn puts Violet and Co. in more danger. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this. There were times when it was a little bit slow for my tastes, but in the end it didn’t matter because it kept me entertained. 

I think fans of sci-fi will enjoy these books just as much as I did. There’s a mysterious aspect to the story that I liked. One thing about the story you should be warned about is the suicide part of it. I would just want everyone to know ahead of time what they’re getting into. 

Overall, while the book was totally up my alley, the slow parts made all the differences of why I couldn’t rate this



higher. 

*Thank you the author for providing a free copy for an honest and unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

1
A Twitch in Time
Twitch.
Something weird was happening.
Twitch.
There it was again. A little crease of feeling, right behind her eyes.
Twitch.
Nothing serious, just annoying.
Amelia Bainbridge shifted in her seat. She glanced around the tram car at the other passengers. Was anybody else reacting? Was it some kind of glitch in the propulsion system, making the car bump and shudder? Nope. They all looked perfectly normal.
Twitch.
In the entire sixteen years of her life, she had never experienced anything quite like this. It wasn’t painful, but it was definitely distracting. Something … moved. Something shifted at the edge of her thoughts, right on the outer rim of her mind. She tried to ignore it, but she couldn’t.
Twitch.
Twitch.
It was coming even more frequently now, that jittery, fluttery thing, filling more of her head.
And just like that, Amelia’s perfectly ordinary ride—the same one she took to school every weekday, traveling high above the bright serenity of New Earth—took a nosedive toward the strange and dark.
Twitch.
Stronger that time, more insistent. Like somebody had spun a dial from five to six.
Twitch.
Now the dial jumped from six all the way up to eight. Or maybe ten or eleven.
Once again, just to be sure, Amelia looked around the nearly full car. She sneaked a 
glance at the skinny old guy across the aisle two rows up, and at the girl roughly her own 
age,
 with reddish curly hair, in the row behind her. And once again, nobody else seemed any

different, nobody else was reacting. So nobody else was feeling it. They all appeared to be doing what she’d been doing until just a few seconds ago when the weird twitches came along: enjoying the ride on another gorgeous morning on New Earth.
The tram traveled at a phenomenally high rate of speed, but it did so with such scintillating grace and absolute balance that there was no lurching, no bobble, no rocking back and forth; there was barely a sense of motion at all. The car followed the long sweep of elevated track with a whisper of perfectly modulated acceleration.
Someday, Amelia wanted to create things just as sleek and sparkling as this tram system. In her case, it would be buildings. She wanted to be an architect so that she could design amazing structures that would make people look up and utter a soft “Wow.” And even though she got a bit discouraged sometimes because all the cool stuff had already been created—or so it seemed, which she knew wasn’t really true, but New Earth was filled with intimidating wonders—she loved gazing out the window and dreaming. Any window would do.
Twitch.
The buildings she’d create one day flew out of her head, replaced by increasing confusion. And fear. The twitches were at it again.
She shook her head, trying to clear it.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Her desperation increasing, Amelia fetched a series of shallow, rapid breaths. Was she getting sick or something? Were these flu symptoms, maybe? The flu made you dizzy, right? This twitching thing could be the first stage.
People didn’t usually get sick on New Earth. The serious, most-dreaded diseases were quarantined on Old Earth. If you didn’t go down there, you’d be fine. The few maladies that did creep their way up to the shiny new civilization floating above the broken planet were annoyances—colds, allergies, and the like. And even those would soon be eradicated. Amelia had read a story on her wrist console just last week about Shura Lu, a young physician on the verge of developing a cold vaccine.
Until then, people had to put up with being a little bit sick now and again. Maybe that explained this twitching business. After class, Amelia would head straight home. Take a nap, maybe. Eat some soup. Whatever. Her mom would know what to do for her.

She made yet another frantic assessment of the other people riding the tram. It was just before nine A.M., so most of them were probably on their way to school or work.


Nothing unusual.


A few seconds went by without a twitch. Amelia took a deep, relieved breath. Maybe it was over. Maybe the twitches would never come back. She relaxed. She let her head fall back against the cushioned seat, and she looked out the window again. The car was zipping across an aquamarine sky. The Color Blenders had done a nifty job today.
Each horizontal section of track was connected to a vertical strand of wire thinner than a human hair. The wires were made of a stunningly robust alloy developed by Arianna Prokop, chief engineer of New Earth. Every few feet they rose stealthily from the surface of New Earth, so fine that they were virtually invisible against the silver hills of the horizon. When viewed from the ground, the track looked as if it were attached to nothing at all, as if the tram system had simply materialized by magic and now wound in and out of the clouds in an elegant aerial cloverleaf. Tram cars swooshed along day and night, ferrying the people of New Earth with crisp speed and frictionless efficiency.
The car glided to a stop. The double doors jumped apart with a hiss, letting in another three passengers: an old woman in a floppy gray hat and two young children, a boy and a girl. Floppy Hat kept a hand on top of each child’s head, shepherding them toward the trio of seats across the aisle from Amelia. The old woman sat in the middle, a kid on either side.
The doors smacked to a close, resuming their tight seal. The car oozed forward toward its ultimate destination, Mendeleev Crossing.
Amelia watched the newcomers out of the corner of her eye, wondering if Floppy Hat was the kids’ grandmother, or maybe a friendly neighbor who had agreed to take them out for the day. There were lots of museums in Mendeleev Crossing, art museums and history museums and science museums. Amelia could spend hours hopping from museum to museum. Her mother used to take her there all the time. Now she was old enough to go on her own, and so she’d call her friends and—
Twitch.
Amelia’s happy thoughts vanished. Anxiety roared back in. She tried again to focus on something else.


They were entering Hawking, the capital city of New Earth, which lay between Amelia’s home in Higgsville and her school at Mendeleev Crossing. She saw Floppy Hat pointing out at the tall, skinny spires outside the window, murmuring a history lesson to the kids about the construction of the buildings when New Earth was still young.
Twitch.
Amelia shuddered.
Twitch.

Twitch.
The twitch expanded into her shoulders—or so she felt. Amelia looked at her right shoulder and then at her left, and she saw that they were still. So it was all happening in her mind. An invisible quiver traveled up the right side of her face, starting at her jaw and forking toward her temple.
Her lower lip began to tremble, the way it sometimes did when she was starting to cry—but she wasn’t starting to cry. She was too scared to cry. She reached up to feel her lip. It was perfectly still.
Everything was happening on the inside, not the outside.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Amelia let out a short, sharp little blurt of a sound. Not a yelp, exactly, and not a cry, but a sort of half burp.
That attracted the notice of one of the kids. He whispered something to the old lady. She put an arm around him and drew him closer to her, as if she—she, Amelia Bainbridge, who’d never hurt anybody in her entire life, who felt bad if she accidentally stepped on an ant or a spider, especially because they’d been so carefully bred up here on New Earth—was 
dangerous.
Twitch.
Twitch.
Twitch.

She was losing control of herself. Her knees banged against each other. Her arms and her legs jerked and stuttered—and yet, when she looked down, she saw that her body was completely still.
The only thing that had changed was the tiny bruise in the crook of her left elbow. She could swear she saw a small blue flash there. Once, twice.
And still the twitches continued.
Something had its hands on her brain and was squeezing tighter and tighter. The twitches had linked up to make a single long chain of unbearable hurt.

I want to die.
Never before had such a thought occurred to Amelia. Her life had not been totally painless—nobody’s life was perfect, right?—but overall she had it pretty good, and she knew it. She had a tight circle of friends. She was doing fantastic in school. She was making excellent progress toward her dream of becoming an architect. She loved her mom. She even loved her annoying little brother, Jeff.
So life was great.
Life is terrible.
I want to die.
I WANT TO DIE.
The sentence exploded in her mind like a Thought Bomb. In its wake came another noise—a rising scream that ricocheted off the inside of her skull again and again. She couldn’t stop herself from visualizing small, awful things like cold rain and soiled floors and moldy food and crushed bugs and smelly kitchen drains and dirty windows. And big, awful things like death. Her grief was cataclysmic. It was gigantic and devouring. It seemed to scoop up all the sorrow that had ever come to her—every minor disappointment, every small loss, every failure, every time she had ever felt lonely or confused or embarrassed or afraid—and shouted the details back to her, again and again, louder each time.
New Earth wasn’t pleasant. It was disgusting. It was horrible. It was a dead, doomed place.
All of the good things in Amelia’s life dropped over the edge of her brain, never to be 
seen again. They were replaced by the idea of oblivion—of erasing herself, of not being here at all. And self-destruction seemed like a tremendous relief. It seemed logical and rational and … inevitable.

The beautiful notion of nothingness filled every fissure and crevice of her heaving brain.
Fleetingly, Amelia wondered if the other passengers could hear the needle-sharp scream, the one that was jabbing holes in her brain. She didn’t think so. Nobody else looked any different at all. So it was true: She was alone. Trapped inside her mind.
I want to die.
Die.
Die.
Die.
The word die scuttled like a poisonous lizard back and forth across her thoughts, its tail whipping and showering her with acid drops of despair.

I want to die.
I want to die.
I HAVE TO DIE.
I HAVE TO—
The door slid open. This was the stop for Hawking. A young woman in a long purple coat stepped into the car.
Amelia bolted past her, nearly knocking her down, running headlong toward the space created by the sprung-open doors.
“Hey,” the woman called out. “Hey, what the—”
Amelia didn’t pause on the platform. She didn’t even slow down as she crossed it, shoving more people out of her way. There were angry shouts and grunts and a few startled shrieks. Still Amelia rushed forward.
When she reached the waist-high white metal barricade bordering the platform, the final threshold before a yawning three thousand–meter gap from the track to the surface of New Earth below, she gripped the top rail with her left hand and leaped over it with ease.
For a moment she was suspended in the air, her head twisted back toward the passengers on the platform, as if to give herself the gift of one last look at the living, a final reminder of what it had been like to be human—the pain and the joy, the questions and the contradictions, and the fierce, simple beauty that crowned it all.


The people on the tram that day—the people who watched, even though they didn’t want to—would later say that Amelia Bainbridge had appeared to be smiling.
And then she dropped into the vastness below.


About the Author:
Julia was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University, then later earned a doctoral degree in English Literature at Ohio State University.

She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities, and the University of Notre Dame. She is a guest essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and has been a contributor on CNN and NBC Nightly News. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Julia lives in a high-rise in Chicago and a stone cottage on a lake in rural Ohio. 
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