Tag Archives: Jennifer Mathieu

Blog Tour: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu | Review + Giveaway

Devoted BlogTourBannerWelcome to the blog tour for
DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu!

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this book and spread the word about DEVOTED! In truth, this isn’t something I would have normally picked up for myself but I really liked Jennifer’s first book (THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE) and the wonderful Mary Van Akin was such a fan that she pushed this book into my hands and I accepted gratefully!

On today’s blog tour stop, I’m sharing my review and all of my thoughts on DEVOTED! I’m so thankful I got to read this book so I hope you’ll take the time to read my review and see if it’s something you’d like to read! I don’t normally put so much faith in a review to encourage readers to pick up a book but I really hope this review motivates you to look into DEVOTED!

Blog Tour: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu | Review + GiveawayTitle: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 1, 2015
Related Posts: The Truth About Alice

    Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

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DEVOTED is Jennifer Mathieu’s second novel and because of my enthusiasm for THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, I was already a little bit interested when I had first heard of the concept from Jennifer on a Fierce Reads tour. I have to admit that my interest was there, but I wasn’t wholly convinced to pick it up but I’m so, so glad I did and I’m especially thankful that the publicist, Mary Van Akin, was there to encourage me to read it as well!

If you’ve looked into the book at all, you know that it’s about a girl named Rachel Walker who has grown up in a very Christian family and has spent her life being a good daughter and staying devoted to God… and I will be perfectly honest with you that the religious mentions and Christian themes immediately had me hesitating. I’m not a religious person (even though I went to a Catholic school for 10 years… actually, that’s probably WHY I’m not a religious person) so I tend to steer clear of any books with Christian or strong religious themes. It’s just usually not something I enjoy and it’s very hard for me to read. The wonderful thing about DEVOTED is that it’s really not a religious book. The story really revolves around Rachel and the fact that she’s starting to question everything. She still loves her family and she still loves God but all of the rules are becoming a bit much and she doesn’t feel like she’s as devoted as the rest of her family.

The religious movement featured in the book isn’t quite a cult but one character does compare it to a cult due to its strict rules and highly protective nature. It’s especially patriarchal with women being told that they’re there to start a family, be a good wife, and remain a good Christian woman, always thinking of God, their husbands, and families first. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to read — especially if you’re strongly feminist — but it’s very eye-opening and a reminder that these communities do exist and people really do follow these rules tightly.

I really, really liked Rachel’s character. So much. It’s a very difficult thing to break away from your family’s and your community’s beliefs to explore your own. As a teenager and a young adult (hell, even as an adult), I found myself forming my own opinions but still generally latching on to the ideals and principles on which my family raised me. I still share the same general opinions as my family and my husband and that’s only natural — but I really admired Rachel’s courage to push outside of her sheltered world to explore what else is out there. She has to defy her parents to do so, abandon her family, and really question everything she’s been taught in order to discover what she really and truly believes. It’s essentially starting her life completely lover and catching up to where the rest of the world is now.

I felt like this was a very character-driven book, closely following Rachel’s story and including some powerful and heart-warming stories from the people she meets along her journey. It’s definitely a quieter book but it felt so powerful and I was so emotionally invested in it. I really cared for Rachel and she became such a real person to me. There was also just something about this book — I couldn’t put it down! I was so interested and yet a bit horrified at the Walkers’ religious practices but witnessing Rachel’s struggle to rebel against her parents as a teenager but in such an atypical manner was truly fascinating. I definitely felt compelled by her story and I’m so glad I got to read it!

If you’ve gotten this far in my review, I really hope that means you’re considering picking up the book! Please don’t let the religious nature scare you away. I promise you that it’s not something I’d ordinarily pick up either but the story is so interesting and the characters are so wonderful… you would really be missing out to pass it up! I’m so glad I was reassured that reading it was the right choice and I really hope the spark has now caught you too! DEVOTED was such a well-crafted and powerful book and you can bet that I’m picking up anything that Jennifer Mathieu writes here on out, regardless of topic. She knows how to handle these enormous and yet sensitive topics in just the perfect way and I look forward to reading more of her work in the years to come!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Religious topics. I honestly always avoid religious books (unless it’s fantasy with its own religion… but that doesn’t really count) so I was very happy to see DEVOTED show a very different side! Religion was almost the antagonist in this story and it wasn’t a bad thing… but Rachel really had to figure out how it best worked for her in her life and not how her parents wanted it to be.
Left Me Wanting More: Of Rachel’s story. This wasn’t the sort of book that was a “five-star-amaze-me” book but I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it. I loved that it was quieter and had more of a character focus. The conflicts and reactions felt real. It wasn’t over the top just to make a point. The only possible thing I could have asked for was more on Rachel’s story at the end of the book! I just really enjoyed the whole thing.

Addiction Rating
READ IT!

DEVOTED was so, so wonderful. It filled me with feelings and I really connected with Rachel and her story. It was definitely a quieter book but it was really very moving!

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BOOKS LIKE DEVOTED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL     THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE


Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the DEVOTED blog tour and my review! This really was such a great book and I hope you’ll take the time to check it out!
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs who are also on the DEVOTED blog tour too!

GIVEAWAY

Of course we can’t let you go without a giveaway! Macmillan is offering one finished, hardcover copy for one lucky winner! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below! US residents only, please! Must be 13 years of age or older to win.

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The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice – Jennifer MathieuTitle: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Publishing Info: June 3, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 21, 2014
Related Posts: Devoted

    Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.  Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the "slut stall" in the girls' bathroom: "Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers" and "Alice got an abortion last semester." After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they "know" about Alice--and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really interesting story. Instead of being told from the title character’s POV, the book is told by four different characters, each with a unique point of view regarding Alice’s personal character and the events that occurred the night of the big party — or basically, the beginning of the end of Alice’s reputation.

Immediately when I started reading, I knew there was more to the story. Wild rumors were flying all around school (and even the community) about Alice Franklin and immediately I felt sorry for the girl. I wasn’t exactly sure yet what had happened myself but it was clear that the rumors had escalated to a horrific level and poor Alice was somehow not only responsible for sleeping with two guys in one night, but also for the death of popular football player Brandon after he died in a car accident, supposedly because Alice was texting him something inappropriate.

Books like these just make me sad because I think of all of the people whose reputations have been destroyed by rumors either spreading with no credibility whatsoever or because of partial truths that somehow escalate out of control. Although it’s left to the reader to figure out exactly what happened between her and Brandon and what went down at the party, the characters also reveal that Alice didn’t have the most innocent reputation (though not terrible) which led to the mild credibility of those rumors once they got going… and I think that’s what upset me the most. Yes, it’s awful no matter who it happens to but it’s also so sad that people will readily assume worse things about someone if they already know some less than favorite facts beforehand. It’s almost a sort of prejudice or stereotype and people get one idea stuck in their head and allow new ideas along the same path of what they already know — whether true or not — to blend into on giant assumption. Unfortunately I think this is something that happens to almost all of us. It’s so hard not to operate on what we already know and allow our brains to fill in the gaps to “logical” explanations once a situation is presented.

I think it was a fantastic idea for Jennifer Mathieu to write this book from every perspective except for Alice’s (which actually does appear at the very end). I feel like the norm is to see books like this from the rumor victim’s point of view and I think for me, that tugged at the heartstrings even more. Each person essentially knew the rumors weren’t true — at least, if they assumed part of the rumors were true, they knew that the truth wasn’t as exaggerated as what had been flying around the school and neighborhood and THAT was the worst thing to witness. No one wanted to stand up for Alice and the “oh well, she probably deserves it anyway” attitude from some absolutely killed me.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really good read. I think it really opened my eyes to situations like these — not necessarily specifically involving rumors but just standing up for someone or speaking up in situations that you know are wrong. It’s hard to take the risk and possible put yourself in the line of fire as well, but hopefully books like these will continue to keep that reminder in the back of people’s minds and may end up influencing someone to speak up the next time they’re in a situation like this.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kurt // Character Obsessions: School, facts, keeping to himself, Alice. 
I really liked Kurt a lot. He was the character that felt the most real to me where all of the other kids felt entirely too shallow. Kurt showed real depth, real feelings, range of emotion. His was definitely the POV I enjoyed the most and I also think he offered one of the most unique POVs. I just really enjoyed everything his character offered for the book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books about bullying. I’ve read a few of these recently! They’re not usually something I pick up, I think in part because I didn’t witness a lot of bullying in my high school so it wasn’t something that was in the forefront of my mind… But hearing about everything that actually DOES go on outside of my little bubble? It’s a terrible thing and it’s a good thing to read about situations like this to make myself more aware of what actually goes on and influence me to speak up if I do come across it.
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I actually DID feel like the characters were fairly well-rounded. As I read, I found out all of the little secrets that most of this kids kept from their classmates and even sometimes from their best friends! But at the same time, I still wanted a bit more from a few more of them and I just really wanted to dig into their stories.

Addiction Rating
Read it

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE was a really good read for me. It was quick, it was interesting, and it was something that opened my eyes to things that may be going on around me that I’m just not even noticing. I’m not usually one to speak up in uncomfortable situations but it really has me re-evaluating potential scenarios and what I would do in these types of situations.

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BOOKS LIKE THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Confessions of an Angry Girl   #scandal Sarah Ockler

Fierce Reads Tour Summer 2014 (Chicago): Recap & Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Jennifer Mathieu, Emmy Laybourne
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
June 20, 2014

I always love the Fierce Reads tour. It’s no exaggeration when I say that it’s one of my most favorite book events that comes to town! The authors are always amazing, the books are fantastic, I always love Macmillan, and the tours are just plain fun. They also draw a really amazing crowd and I got to see so many friends that I haven’t even seen in a while!

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The event started just a bit late on account of the authors being interviewed by the book store owner for the Naperville cable access show (and somehow that made me think of The Princess Diaries and Lily’s cable show… But moving on…) so we finally gathered and started the event around 7:15! We were all just excited and buzzing with anticipating! Rachel from Anderson’s Bookshop was moderating the event and had some really fun questions for the authors! (Questions and answers will be paraphrased.)

QUESTION: Did you start out with the title of your book before you began writing or did you go through a few titles before one stuck?
// Emmy Laybourne‘s first title was “We Are ValueMart” which she ended up changing because it sounded too happy… and it would have been confusing if she kept it because the store’s name changed from ValueMart too!
// Leigh Bardugo said the working title for Shadow and Bone was just “The Grisha” but she was told it needed to “be more Googleable”. When she would tell people what the title was, they heard “the Grecians” and it didn’t seem like a book title but more like a series. She came up with Shadow and Bone and then found out about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and tried to change it, but it was too late and Shadow and Bone was the winner! As for Siege and Storm/Ruin and Rising, those actually came pretty easily!
// Ava Dellaira thought of the title first as she was driving. Love Letters to the Dead inspired her story.
// Jennifer Mathieu‘s working title was “Alice Franklin is a Slut” and then it got sort of… “toned down” to “The Truth About Alice Franklin” which they just ended up shortening to The Truth About Alice.

QUESTION: If you could hang out with one character from your books for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
// Emmy Laybourne said Max and she would parent the hell out of him! His uncle is the bouncer at a strip club in the books and poor little Max is always around all kinds of crazy happenings so Emmy would make him grilled cheese sandwiches and take him to the playground and really just be a good parent to him!
// Leigh Bardugo said Strumhond (AND WE ALL AGREED). They would go marauding, have all kinds of adventures… you know, general activities with Sturmhond. She said with his attitude and being so cavalier, she could probably only hang out with him for a day or two though and then she would be exhausted of him!
// Jennifer Mathieu said Kurt. She said they were fairly similar in ways and he’s actually a lot like her husband is. She loved how he was a friend to Alice and he’s just one of her favorite characters.
// Ava Dellaira said she’s cheating a little bit and go with Amelia Earhart. She would love to spend time with her and maybe fly around in a plane. (Then jokes were made about how maybe that wouldn’t end well!!)

QUESTION: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?
// Emmy Laybourne said she outlines! With fourteen characters, she really has to in order to know what’s going on and where everyone is!
// Leigh Bardugo plots as well. She uses the three act structure and basically comes up with an outline of her whole book using this method and then fills in the gaps. She never ends up writing and then hitting a wall because she already knows the beginning, middle, and end.
// Ava Dellaira spent a long time listening to her characters and really letting them shape the book. She spent about a year getting to know her characters and then another year touching up the details and the rest of the book so everything fit well together! She took a screenplay approach and made sure all of the scenes really flowed nicely.
// Jennifer Mathieu is very organized with many things, but she sort of lets the characters guide her too. She likes to think she would be more of an outliner but sometimes her characters just take her where they want to.

QUESTION: What’s one thing from your books that got cut that you wish hadn’t?
// Emmy Laybourne didn’t really have to cut anything because she has an outline of her book that she works on with her editors and then once they’re all on the same page, she goes from there. But she’s working on the screenplay for the Monument 14 movie and she got to add something she did want, which was a funny scene between Astrid and Sahalia.
// Leigh Bardugo didn’t really have much she had to cut either, but some of her “gallows humor”, not matter how much she tried sneaking it back in there, didn’t make the final cut.
// Ava Dellaira ended up cutting a lot of details about one of Laurel’s old friends who was one of her favorite characters. The character was still in the book but a lot of her story got taken out.
// Jennifer Mathieu ended up cutting a whole character named Carmen who was one of her favorites! She really loved her but it was just too many voices. She’s hoping Carmen will be able to make an appearance in a future book instead.

QUESTION: What are you working on right now?
// Emmy is working on a new series that’s a horror/comedy! It’s about a cruise involving a whole bunch of (fake) B/C/D list celebrities that are all there advertising this new beverage but… the beverage becomes strangely addicting! Everyone drinks EVERY possible drop they can — even finding it in the materials that it’s clinging to on the cruise ship — until it’s all gone and the only place left they can smell it is… In each other’s blood! She’s also working on the screen play for the Monument 14 movie.
// Leigh is working on her new series, The Dregs! It’s been marketed as Ocean’s 11 in the Grishaverse and guys — this sounds so much like The Lies of Locke Lamora that I am DYING. It sounds amaaaaazing. Humor, heists, grishaverse. I cannot wait.
// Ava‘s book got optioned for a movie by the same people who did The Fault in Our Stars so she’s very excitedly working on the screen play!
// Jennifer‘s working on her next book which is sort of a cult-tale, but so much more than that. It’s about a girl from a very religious family and she sort of gets the chance to step outside of that and see the real world, see what it’s like, and then decide if she wants to go back or not.

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There were more questions from the Q&A but I don’t remember all of them! As always, the Fierce Reads ladies were FANTASTIC and I had such a good time! I got to tell Emmy Laybourne that it was so good seeing her again because the Fierce Reads tour from two years ago in 2012 was my first book event EVER and she and Leigh were at that event so it’s always very special to me to see them again as well as read their books. I was also excited to see Leigh again! I’ve met her a few times now and have almost all of my books from her personalized (except for my dang B&N special edition of Ruin and Rising which didn’t arrive in time, but got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon signed)!

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GIVEAWAY!

I put together a fun little prize pack for a giveaway that I’m calling The Fierce Reads starter kit! I love these ladies and these books so much that I want to get one lucky winner on their way to falling in love with these books/series! The starter kit includes:

  • Signed paperback of SHADOW AND BONE
  • Signed paperback of MONUMENT 14
  • ARC of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE
  • Fierce Reads tote
  • Fierce Reads poster
  • Some signed bookmarks
  • RUIN AND RISING and MONUMENT 14 buttons
  • SHADOW AND BONE and RUIN AND RISING nail polish
  • Other swag

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UPDATE: One more book added to the giveaway! I also have an ARC of Broken Fences, Hearts, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn! 

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One winner will be chosen at the end of the giveaway to receive everything in the picture you see here! Winner must be 13 years of age or older and have a US mailing address. Sorry, no international entires, please! Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notifying email before the prize is forfeited to the next person. 

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