Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cayman Summer

In Morrison's debut young adult novel, TAKEN BY STORM, Michael faces incredible loss, but he finds Leesie. UNBROKEN CONNECTION is Leesie's story. By the final page, she is broken and battered--physically and spiritually. Morrison vowed to her readers not to leave her that way. CAYMAN SUMMER recounts Michael and Leesie's final journey.

Michael takes Leesie to the Cayman Islands to heal. Time, sunshine, and Michael's devotion free her of physical pain, but grief and guilt haunt her. Michael will do anything to find the old Leesie who prayed, spoke of visions, and kept the rules. For Leesie, that girl is lost forever. Rules? What's the point now? She's ready to break every one.

Morrison wrote CAYMAN SUMMER with fan critique and input at

Isn't that a beautiful cover?

Cayman Summer is the much-awaited finale to Leesie and Michael's story that began with a high-school romance in Taken By Storm, travelled through Thailand and BYU in Unbroken Connection and sweeps you to Cayman on the final leg of the journey.

Whilst Taken By Storm was a personal struggle for Leesie between faith and desire, between saving the grief-stricken Michael and keeping her feet on the ground in the process, Unbroken Connection was a test of their relationship, taking the two to the opposite corners of the globe. The second book ends on a horrific tragedy for Leesie, and I couldn't wait to find out what happens to them after-this.

The level-headed Leesie from Taken By Storm is lost and Cayman Summer shows her scarred, both physically and emotionally. While her faith is thoroughly shaken, Michael tries to find the Leesie he had fallen in love with in the puzzles of her grief. What makes Angela Morrison such a good writer is her ability to portray relationships with lot of tenderness and realism. Leesie and Michael's isn't a love-on-the-first-day story. Theirs is an attraction that evolves to love and then matures to so much more during the course of their journey. Cayman Summer is perhaps their biggest struggle, because the struggle is within. Overridden by pain Leesie is keeping the secret of her guilt from Michael and doesn't seem to care about her Mormon rules anymore, while Michael desperately pulls away from her so he doesn't take advantage of her while her guard is down. And oh yeah, they are Cayman now, away from the prying eyes of their family and friends, having run away from the place of the tragedy.

Angela Morrison continues with the writing style employed in the earlier two books. Michael's PoV appears in his dive log entries, while Leesie's is etched in poetry. The poems here often come in fragmented lines, shadowing her mental state. Chat-logs with Leesie's online-friend-who-she-has-never-met, Kim, are longer here and show a deep development in the friendship.

Oh, and I adored the introduction of several new characters. There's an entourage of super-hot dive instructors from various parts of the world, who you'd totally fall in love with at first read. They bring in a lightness to the atmosphere with some added drama of the fun, exciting kind. The oddball fusion works wonders for the book.

I can't reveal much, without giving away the entire book. Morrison's writing, as usual is something to savour. She strings together sentences that are almost like phrases, in a crisp manner that sends across just the right kind of emotion. Cayman Summer is a lovely summation of an endearing journey of two very strong individuals that ends with the right amount of flourish.

And yeah, Angela Morrison is hosting a humongous contest as part of the M + L Forever Blog Tour. Get thee there quick! Lots of books and goodies to be won for several winners :)

You can read my conversation with Angela, Leesie and Michael. How's that for an incentive?

So tell me, what are you reading now?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Celebrating CAYMAN SUMMER with Angela Morrison, Leesie and Michael

If you've been hanging around my blog for a while, you would know how much I adore Angela Morrison and her books. Her debut novel, Taken By Storm inspired my blog and now that the third book in the series, Cayman Summer is out, I decided to celebrate not only with Angela but with the two main characters, Michael and Leesie as well.

Just so you know, the series consists of Taken By Storm, Unbroken Connection and Cayman Summer.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, you can welcome the three here and read what they say. This kicks off the M + L Forever Blog Tour and Contest. Enjoy :)

A journey worth three books. Lets rewind back. Leesie and Michael, how did you guys meet Angela?

Michael: I started as a disembodied "what if" that haunted Angela after she heard about a real scuba accident during a hurricane like what happened to me and my parents. My voice made it out of her head and onto paper her during her first residency at Vermont College. She was sitting in a big circle with her new classmates and was challenged to free write from the prompt, "Remember a sound." And I slipped out. She says it's the first free write she ever wrote. She loves them now. Freak, she got me out of the deal. I guess she should love them. She saved the free write. Do you want to read it? Okay. These are my very first words . . . and the very first words that eventually became TAKEN BY STORM.

"I jump in and start breathing through my reg. The sound of sucking in, blowing out fills my head. My gut tightens like it always does. Sploosh. Swoosh. Bubbles flow out the back. Face down. Air out. Descent. Suck in. Long count. Don’t hold it. Blow out, blow out, blow out, smooth and slow. My bubbles interrupt the deep blue serenity of the world below. Then a short blast of air for buoyancy control. Quiet fin strokes. Arms glued at my side. The ocean of wonders opens to my view. Coral fronds of orange yellow pink green sway . . . "

It's kind of rough. I think I got better, don't you?

Leesie: I came on the scene when Angela decided to send Michael to live in her Grandmother's house in the rural Washington town where she grew up. She created his Gram and made him go to Tekoa High School. She needed someone to fall in love with him, so she let me join the story. He showed up, devastated, in my physics class. And I couldn't take my eyes off him. Angela let me live on the farm where she grew up and gave me a lot of the issues she dealt with growing up in one of the few Mormon families in that tiny town. That was okay, to an extant, but then she tried to make me suffer all of her worst adolescent tragedies in the space of about five chapters. I think I had to cry through the entire opening act. Not good. I was ready to bail on the whole thing, except, I mean, Michael. Who could bail on him? And Angela was working with an amazing mentor, Ron Koertge (STONER AND SPAZ), who got her to cut the waterworks and a few over the top scenes. A huge relief. She never really got me, though, until her daughter, the wise and wonderful Rachel who all of Angela's characters love and adore, gave Angela a Kelly Clarkson CD with the song, "Beautiful Disaster," on it. Yes. That's me. A hundred percent.

And Angela, why did you choose to tell their story?

Angela: As soon as I introduced Michael and Leesie, they started talking in my head and wouldn't shut up. I had to scribble it down or go insane. And then I fell in love with them. I invited them back and coaxed them to keep talking. When I finished CAYMAN SUMMER, I knew their story was finally complete because they don't wake me up in the middle of the night anymore. I sleep better, but I miss their voices.

I've always thought the stylistic devices employed are unique. Michael, when did your 'dive log' turn into a reveal-it-all journal?

Michael: My mom's dive logs were amazing. She put photos of me and Dad and all our dives in them and wrote a lot about us and our trips. She bugged me to do the same since I was a little kid. By the time we went on the trip to Belize, it was second nature to pour my guts out in my own dive log. Kind of embarrassing that you guys read all that stuff.

Why choose poetry, Leesie?

Leesie: The first gazillion drafts Angela had me speak through first-person prose chapters. The only one of my poems she included was the poem about my Grandmother. Michael's dive logs were so intense and cool that my chapters seemed lame in comparison. She and I both love to write poetry and were trying to figure out how to include more. We experimented replacing entire scenes with narrative free verse poems, and, wow, that made it so much better. I still think Michael's dive logs are the most intense and amazing part of the collage Angela created to tell our story, but I got so much deeper with my poetry than the prose scenes that I didn't feel stupid letting you read them along with his entries.

You're the writer, Angela. What made you stick with these modes of expression?

Angela: TAKEN BY STORM is the first novel I ever attempted. And I made the huge mistake of trying to write it as a dual first-person narrative. Not a good idea for the first time out. It's way harder than it looks to write a novel in two voices. The concept for Michael's dive log came first. I loved the idea and wrote a draft using the dive logs, but I got sidetracked when an editor from Candlewick requested that I rewrite the whole novel just from Michael's point of view. She didn't like that--she missed the dive logs. She asked me to rewrite it using a dive log to open each chapter and third person narration to tell the rest of the story. Bleck. But I did it. And she turned that down, too. Huge, huge rejection. And that point I had three very different versions of the same story. It felt broken. So I sat back and asked myself how I wanted to tell this story. That's when I began to let Leesie speak through her poems. I married her "Most Private Chapbook" with Michael's Dive Log and their ChatSpot transcripts. The result was far better than any of the other versions I'd written. And it was different enough to catch an editor's attention. (It didn't hurt that she was a poet herself!)

Beyond the love story, a major part of the trilogy is faith - staunch belief in it and even the lack of it. How has your perspectives evolved (if at all) over the course of your journey?

Leesie: Ladies, first. Michael, you can't really say anything without spoiling CAYMAN SUMMER.

Michael: I'm not an idiot.

Leesie: I never thought anything could shake my faith. Even Michael. Even some of the mistakes I made when I fell crazy in love with him, didn't make me doubt my faith. I felt guilty, like I wasn't living up to the promises I'd made to the Lord, but I believe in repentance. I knew the way back. And then, well, you guys who've read UNBROKEN CONNECTION know what happened to me. Guilt and grief overwhelmed me. That's all I let myself believe. That I was evil. I never stopped believing in God, but I didn't believe in myself anymore. Michael did. He never stopped believing in me.

Michael: And that's not a spoiler?

Leesie: It's a teaser. There's a difference.

Angela: I think you two have said enough.

Michael: My parents and I weren't religious. We believed in diving. My gram went to church all the time. Not me. Leesie's church stuff drove me crazy at first.

Leesie: The truth comes out.

Michael: Come on, you knew that. But then stuff would happen, inside me, that I couldn't explain. I shrugged it off until, well, I guess I can't say anymore.

Angela: And all I'm going to say is writing is a spiritual thing for me. I can't do it without prayer and inspiration.

Michael: You mean I came from a prayer? You never told me that.

Angela: Now you know. I pray and stuff--good stuff like Michael and Leesie--bubble up in my brain and I attempt to capture it. Some people would call that my imagination or subconscious, but I know it's more than that. Throughout Michael and Leesie's entire journey, from the rough free write of Michael scuba diving to the final epilogue in CAYMAN SUMMER, I relied on that process. Why did I write Michael and Leesie's story? Why did I cling so stubbornly to it when my editor, publisher, and agent all bailed on the second and third books? Because it's the story I was given by my Father to tell. And I  would be an ungrateful daughter to ignore such an amazing gift.

Michael, did you ever think this could happen to you?

Michael: "This?" You mean star in a book? Of course. I'm waiting for the movie.

Angela, we know Leesie and Michael's story publicly brought you recognition as an author, but on a more personal level, what kind of impact has it had on you?

Angela: I never realized what a huge impact my readers would have on me. I love you guys. You've shared--and through the CAYMAN SUMMER blog--even taken part in the creation process with me. Every time I get a comment or an email or a new friend on FaceBook or Goodreads, it touches my heart that you've taken Michael and Leesie and me into your lives. Losing my editor at Penguin and then my agent was so hard. But my readers turned what could have been a depressing unproductive time, into a joyful collaboration. That was and always will be a HUGE blessing in my life.

Leesie, tell us a fun fact about Michael that we didn't know.

Leesie: He has really long toes--can pick up stuff like a monkey.

Your turn, Michael. Spill one of Leesie's best kept secrets.

Michael: No, she'll kill me. Okay. Un-a-brow.
Leesie: Shut up. I do not.
Michael: Oh, yeah. And the more she plucks it the faster it grows back.
Leesie: I can't believe you.

All three of you have struggled in some way - whether personally or professionally - and inspiringly overcome it all. What would your advice be to those going through a difficult time now? 

Michael: Hang on to the people you love. Nothing else really matters.

Leesie: I hope you mean me? What if you lose the person you love?

Michael: Then pray to find somebody like Leesie.

Leesie: That's so sweet. I'd say, remember that none of us are ever really alone. No matter what you believe, there is a higher power waiting to help us through. Don't turn your back on that. Don't ignore it.

Angela: Ah, my creations. You took the words right out of my mouth. Now I have a confession. Many times over the last year I asked myself why I keep writing. It's so hard to get published, and then when you do get published it gets even harder. I decided that my life would be way too easy if I didn't write. I needed the challenge or I'd get lazy. But then I was talking with a friend who wants to create a foundation that helps the less fortunate, and I realized that I don't write for just myself anymore. I write for you, my readers, now. Nothing thrills me more than getting an email from a reader that says one of my books has helped them with one challenge or another in their own lives. That makes all the hard stuff and the setbacks worth it.

Bonus question [SPOILER]: Leesie, did Britney Spears inspire you to shave off your hair?

Leesie: I wasn't thinking about her when I did that, but it was probably in the back of my mind.

I knew it!
Loved having you here, guys, as much as I loved reading your story. Thank you for being so awesome :) 
EDIT: As part of the M + L Forever Blog Tour, the all-too-awesome, Angela is organising a humongous contest. Head over now to win the complete set of the STORM series, M + L M&Ms and lots of books. Yes, it's that awesome.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Championing Contemporary YA: Playing Hurt

Championing Contemporary YA is a movement in celebration of June as the Contemporary month over at The Contemps. Dreamcatcher's Lair will be championing Contemporaries that deserve being talked about.

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?

I regret having missed out on Holly Schindler's debut,
A Blue So Dark   (the book got lost in the mail) but I'm so glad I got a chance to read her sophomore novel. Because Playing Hurt was a lovely read.

It's got
an ex-star basketball player
a hot boot camp trainer
heating things up
in the midst
of summer.

Easy, eh? I thought I had it all worked out. And yet I loved reading it.

Playing Hurt owes its success to characterization. Chelsea and Clint, the two main characters, whose PoVs you get to read in alternating chapters, are wonderfully written. They are these two young, sporty people who have been hurt and are broken so much that even sport can't save them. No, they aren't really moping all that. They are getting on with their lives, at least trying to,but that feeling of 'wholeness' that they had felt earlier is missing. The characters are complex. As you read you peel back layers that reveal what is really going on with them. For instance, I thought Clint's past and the impact it's had on his present was skillfully made known to the reader. The main characters are so life-like that the other, although equally well-drawn often diminish in comparison. Nevertheless, Schindler infuses originality in every character who enters her story.

And the writing? It's gorgeous. Often poetic in places, deeply insightful in other, girlishly giggly at times, the author's writing voice is not just strong, but embodies a variety of emotions.

What really rocks this book is THE ROMANCE. It's smokin'. Clint and Chelsea share such hawt chemistry, I literally had to fan myself. But unlike in a lot of YA books, it isn't just sexual tension that sparks things off, these are two people who have so much in common beside their 'hurt' pasts that if they were pieces of a puzzle they would fit together perfectly.

*His skin radiates so much of the day's heat that touching him feels like wading into the lake, opening my hand, and catching one of the white shimmers of blistering afternoon sunlight bouncing across the water.

*Just touching her makes me want to immerse myself, put my head completely under the surface of her. I want to drift, to let her carry me away, down her current.

Other things I liked:
1. There's a boyfriend back home for Chelsea. And he is not vilified.
2. Two very different family dynamics are explored. Chelsea's relationship with her family palpitates with tension, especially with her Dad. Clint's family, though is different.
3. The main characters are athletes! How cool is that? And with Chelsea, Schindler eats the girl-jock stereotype.
4. It's older YA. The main characters are 18 and 19. And I loved that.
5. The last few chapters get shorter and shorter, as if wanting to make the reader feel ine urgency in the situation. And it succeeded in making me feel that way.

I'm now a Holly Schindler fan.

Because with Playing Hurt she didn't just write the perfect summer romance with the most perfect ending (yes, it's as perfect as it is plausible), she made me fly through her book with my heart racing in my throat, dying to find out what happens to Clint and Chelsea after the summer is over.

This is a sparkling story of love and trauma, need and desire, summer and sun, fear and courage that culminates into a perfect clandestine romance. I suggest you read it.

What do you think makes the perfect summer romance? 

PS. I'm sorry for having missed blogging the past two days. I've been ill and I don't schedule posts so I lost out on those days. Nevertheless, I shall continue championing contemporary YA and I hope you will, too.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Championing Contemporary YA: The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Championing Contemporary YA is a movement in celebration of June as the Contemporary month over at The Contemps. Between, the 3rd - 10th of June, Dreamcatcher's Lair will be championing Contemporaries that deserve being talked about.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

The Duff has been up and about in blogosphere for a while now and you could say I'm late in joining the party. But I think it's fitting I waited for a while till I read it, so now its on the Championing Contemporary YA list, which I think it deserves, because this loud-mouthed debut raises a lot of issues.

There's a lot going on here - like, high-drama family problems, being labelled the 'designated ugly fat friend' by the hottest-guy-cum-serial-lets-get-laid star in school, blasts from the past and all that jazz. Yes, it's a high-on roller-coaster ride in the life of the super-skeptical Bianca Piper. And yeah, there was room for improvement with the prose, but that's something you get over quickly because Keplinger is more concerned with sending the point across than pretty writing. Which, really, is the purpose of books in the end.

The back cover might read like the usual foes-turned-foes-turned-something-more story, but the thing about The Duff is that it packs in a lot more. Like social labelling, slut-slamming, breaking stereotypes and conventions. 'Fat' is not the literal fat here. Fat stands for feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing that once in a while everyone of us go through. Heck, Bianca's pretty-as-strawberry cheerleader best friends, too, admit to feeling like the 'duff' more often than not. Fat, skinny, tall, short, medium - the duff issue applies to all. 

Keplinger's heroine is a fresh, young badass who doesn't shy away from saying things as she feels it, doing things as she sees it (like kissing Wesley and more). She isn't your sweet-talking seventeen year old afraid to do things that would throw her under the 'wrong' light. Yet she is your thinking-YA-teen-with-zing. And the success of this novel rests more on her than anything else.

The Duff may not be a book for everyone. Reactions have stretched to both extremes. Heck, I didn't have any love lost for it initially, but the brash honesty with which it chooses to speak to the reader makes this a commendable read.

Is there a loud-mouthed badass you love? Any book featuring one that I should read?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Championing Contemporary YA: Fury

 Championing Contemporary YA is a movement in celebration of June as the Contemporary month over at The Contemps. Between, the 3rd - 10th of June, Dreamcatcher's Lair will be championing Contemporaries that deserve being talked about.

Let me tell you my story. 
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have won this book, because it's Aussie YA, which hasn't been released internationally, and if not for the giveaway I might not have got my hands on it, which would have been horrible because Shirley Marr's Fury is a BRILLIANT debut.

Sample the first line: My name is Eliza Boans and I am a murderer.

And for the rest of the book you get to know why this propah- young girl from this seemingly perfect suburban town ends up being a 'murderer'. In fact, the East Rivermoor rich estate that Shirley Marr presents exists under the guise of an Utopia. Proper people live in perfect houses with perfectly manicured gardens. Think an Australian Upper East Side. It's a world segregated from the rest of the towns and cities by super-high walls built around its perimeter. Underneath though, East Rivermoor  isn't as shiny as it looks, and neither are its residents. It's a world where people refuse to acknowledge the very ugliness that exists along with them, holding up the facades of perfection they choose to live under. Marr does a fantastic job with the setting and the atmosphere she evokes from the first chapter, heck, the first line itself, grabs you by the neck and doesn't let go till you have finished the book.

Fury begins with a lot of questions. You don't know what exactly is the deal with Eliza or who she has murdered and why, and why on earth she is even confessing to it in the first place. And the answers to all that and more unfold in a breathtakingly tantalising fashion that could be possible  for only a highly skilled writer to pull off. Let me tell you, Shirley Marr does that with perfection.
And what can I tell you about Eliza? She's smart, witty, brash to-the-point-of-being rude yet so charming. I have to say ELIZA BOANS IS ONE OF THE BEST CHARACTERS CREATED IN YA FICTION. EVER. Eliza's voice keeps you captivated throughout and along the way you end up loving her so much, you're sad to see her go when the book is over.

Fury lives up to its name. It isn't just angst. It's fury that runs throughout the novel. Fury towards the attitude of society to ignore whatever it chooses to ignore and fury at oneself for being helpless about it. Yet, the author's talent lies not in giving voice to such pent-up rage, but balancing out the anger and skepticism with the characteristic frivolity and love in teenage girl-girl friendship. It's a delightful combination of dark humour,  drama of the violent kind, gorgeous dresses and nail polish, guns and policemen and boys of the good and not-so-good kind. 

I would say, READ THIS BOOK. NOW. What are you waiting for? It's an entertaining romp of a thriller that should be on your must-reads list. I don't care if you have to go to Australia to get it or pay extra for shipping, get thee some Fury now. This is YA fiction at its best. Don't miss it.

Oh, look at that cover. I LOVE IT. I love the girl's mask and the splatters of blood on her hand. It evokes such strong imagery, so fitting for the book.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Championing Contemporary YA: Empress Of The World

Championing Contemporary YA is a movement in celebration of June as the Contemporary month over at The Contemps. Between, the 3rd - 10th of June, Dreamcatcher's Lair will be championing Contemporaries that deserve championing.


Nicola Lancaster is spending the summer at the Siegel Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth-a hothouse of smart, articulate, intense teenagers, living like college students for eight weeks. Nic's had theater friends and orchestra friends, but never just friend friends. And she's certainly never had a relationship. But on the very first day, she falls in with Katrina the Computer Girl, Isaac the West Coast Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself, Kevin the Inarticulate Composer...and Battle. Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful blonde dancer from North Carolina. She's everything Nic isn't. Soon the two are friends-and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you're attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart?

With a summary that ends with a last line like that, how can you not pick up Empress Of The World? I've always been curious about the book that has a seemingly hetrosexual girl suddenly falling for a girl. You don't get to see many of those, because, sadly, not very many authors like experimenting with the protagonist's sexuality in mainstream YA. Such books get marginalised into the sub-genre of LGBT fiction, out of the general reading public.
That is just plain unfortunate.
Because books like these are little gems. Yes, the initial chapters felt a bit wobbly to me, with being introduced to many different characters at one go, but Sara Ryan does a fine job of telling the story of a different kind of first love, friendships lost and won at summer program, much like a summer camp, except with academics.

The cast of characters were quirky, and I loved them all because they were so well fleshed out in such a short span of time. I could guess who was saying what without looking at the dialogue tags. The friends-circle of the bohemian, serial-smoker, computer nerd Katrina, the good guy with political aspirations Isaac and the perpetually soporific music-composer-with-sunscreen Kevin, make up a wonderful supporting cast. They reminded me of the circle of friends in Anna And The French Kiss in many ways.

Anthropologist-in-the-making, Nic has a funny, observant eye and she's the kind of character who makes you wish you were friends with her. Sara Ryan blesses her with a great sense of humour, and oh, I absolutely adored her!
As for the love interest, Battle - well, her characterization is vague. There's a lot more to her than meets the eye. And I guess, a lot more about her is revealed in next book, Rules of The Heart, which is being called 'a book about Battle'. I just wish she wasn't so much of a mystery throughout the book. I'd liked to have known her more.
And the romance between the two? It played out like a real teen relationship. From friendship, to more to complications and much more, the depiction was perfect.For me, the exploration of the relation between the two more than made up for Battle's vagueness of character.

Nevertheless, Sara Ryan must be commended for the ending she drew out. It was the best kind of ending Nic and Battle could have had. She kept to the realism of it with a sweetness and nostalgia that was quite fitting.

Set against the unique background of a Summer Program for teens at a college, Sara Ryan's Empress Of The World is an intelligently written summer romance that redefines labels (Nic has a tendency to label everyting, even herself) with  its light-heartedness and humour, and should be worth a read :)

What's the best book with LGBT characters that you've read? Any that you would suggest I read?
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