BLOG TOUR: Mayhem by Estelle Laure – Review

Thanks to the publisher Wednesday Books for giving me the opportunity to review this title via NetGalley.

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


a note from the author

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life
was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to
be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch
the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never
know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to
run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although
girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The
Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the
night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got
me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel
powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And
yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without
thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think
great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my
heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time
I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the
pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands
on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the
shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made
me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also
terrifying.I know I’m not the only one who had a scary
childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to
smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being
hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying
to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate,
I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure


Review + Thoughts

Before I start talking about what I enjoyed about this book I do want to emphasize that this is a heavy and darker read. I’m placing the content warnings that you can read from the author’s website about MAYHEM at the bottom of this review.

With that being said I thoroughly found this to be an excellent and nuanced exploration of these difficult experiences. I could feel the raw emotion in the writing and the anger coming off the pages. Girls being angry is the kind of thing I like to read about and MAYHEM fits so well into one of my super specific favorite genres, that is feminist revenge stories with magical elements mixed in.

I also love that MAYHEM contains complex, messy, and humanized characters. Troubled, messy, and hurt women such as her mother, Roxy, her Aunt Elle, her grandmother Julianna and Neve. Victims of the patriarchy wanting revenge and justice and peace. This also ties into a secondary plot of the story that revolves around the missing girls in Santa Maria.

This book is not for everyone but I think if you’re able to handle the content and want to read a story like this, you should check it out for yourself.


Content Warnings via Author’s Website

Rape: the Brayburn family’s backstory centers around the matriarch’s rape and explores the ensuing generational trauma and its effects on the women within its lineage. The rape is on the page but is not graphically depicted.

Suicide: a suicide takes place off the page.

Drug use: there is one scene in which multiple adolescents take hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is much use of pills and alcohol by one of the adults in the story as a coping mechanism for chronic pain and trauma.

Serial kidnapping and murder: part of the story centers around an active serial kidnapper and killer. There is also murder depicted throughout, sometimes on the page and sometimes off, including the murder of two of the children’s parents, which takes place in dialogue and is not explicitly on the page.

Child abuse: central to the story is a depiction of violence experienced by a child.

Domestic violence, intimidation, and emotional abuse: also central to the story is long-term domestic violence and its attendant cycle. This is mostly off stage, however there are several scenes of emotional manipulation and intimidation, and one scene that contains stalking and breaking and entering and a physical altercation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Author’s social handles
o Twitter: @starlaure
o Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

BUY YOUR COPY OF MAYHEM HERE: https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn: A Country Song in Book Form

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.


Content Warnings: alcoholism, self harm, suicide, substance abuse, death of loved ones, panic attack description

I went into this not expecting to love it as much as I do now but WOW. I’m so blown away by this story and here are some reason why y’all should read it. This book itself is like a country song: full of tragedy, swoon-y and angsty romance and heartbreak and sassy southern attitude.

  • SUMMER ROMANCE – This is a perfect summer read and there’s always about romances that take place during the summer that feel so different
  • MUSIC – A major part of this is about the country music industry and going on tour which is something I’ve been looking to read. I love reading about bands and I wish Under the Willows (Annie’s band with her cousin Kacey and best friend Jason) would actually exist. Also the songs in here are powerful and fun and I hope one day they will actually be performed.
  • ANNIE + CLAY– Annie Mathers is a cinnamon roll who is also sassy and has a lot of agency throughout the book which was very refreshing to see in a romance heroine. Then there’s the bad boy sinnamon roll Clay who is also a sort of cinnamon roll. I love that this book isn’t just about their angsty, swoony romance but also about each of their stories and how they need to look into their past and current selves to be together.
  • SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS – Both Annie and Clay have supportive groups behind them such as Kacey (nice Kacey Musgraves reference!!!) and Jason (one of my favorites) and Clay’s best friend Fitz who has everyone’s back. I would trust that man with my life.
  • TEARS WILL FALL – This book has so many poignant and real and dark moments of vulnerability, tragic backstories, and emotional development. I cried a lot. But that just showed how invested I became in these characters and their lives.
  • DOLLY PARTON CAMEO – I won’t say when she shows up but Dolly is here and of course its a wonderful lil cameo.

One thing I didn’t like: the lack of yee haws in this book. DISAPPOINTED!!!

But seriously this book is AMAZING. Like all the good country songs, You’d Be Mine has crooning lovers, tragic tales, southern sass, and everyone having a good time.

If you are a fan of A Star is Born, country music, summer romances, and just a solid story, read You’d Be Mine which is out now!

2019 Anthologies TBR

Last year in around this same time I did a post about 2018 YA anthologies I was excited for and this year has even more great anthologies to anticipate.

Much like last year this year’s anthologies are filled with diverse voices and unique themes.

EDIT 3/9/2019: I added a few more that I discovered after some more research!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

I’m excited to read an #ownvoices Black anthology and this features some of my new favorite authors: Renee Watson and Brandy Colbert! This book is already out as of typing this!

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

Whether it’s New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds writing about #blackboyjoy or Newbery Honor-winning author Renee Watson talking about black girls at camp in Portland, or emerging author Jay Coles’s story about two cowboys kissing in the south—Black Enough is an essential collection full of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America.


Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of
Food & Love
edited by Caroline Tung Richmond & Elsie Chapman

What’s better than an anthology about food? An anthology about food featuring diverse voices and cultures and family! I know I’m going to be super hungry while reading this one but it sounds so worth it.

From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.


Color Outside the Lines
edited by Sangu Mandanna

This one is all about interracial relationships and I’m already hearing great things about the stories. I think my most anticipated one is Tara Sim’s which features a F/F Hades x Persephone retelling with Persephone as a Indian MC.

Daniel Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen has bought Sangu Mandanna’s Color Outside the Lines, a YA anthology centered around interracial relationships and the complicated, rewarding and sometimes hilarious dynamics between friends, family, and first loves. The collection features Anna-Marie McLemore, Elsie Chapman, Karuna Riazi, Lydia Kang, L.L. McKinney, Lori M. Lee, Lauren Gibaldi, Tara Sim, Eric Smith, Caroline Tung Richmond, Kelly Zekas, Tarun Shanker, Samira Ahmed and Adam Silvera, and more. Publication is set for fall 2019; Eric Smith at P.S. Literary brokered the deal for world rights.


His Hideous Heart
edited by Dahlia Adler

Edgar Allan Poe reimaginings !!! I don’t really know what else to say but this wow I’m super pumped for this and it also comes out on my birthday.

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).


Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance
edited by Bethany C. Morrow

A very timely and relevant anthology about resistance. I love the power that this cover exudes.

A young adult anthology featuring fictional stories of everyday resistance.

You might be the kind of person who stands up to online trolls.
Or who marches to protest injustice.

Perhaps you are #DisabledAndCute and dancing around your living room, alive and proud.

Or perhaps you are the trans mentor that you wish you had when you were younger.

Maybe you call out false allies, or stand up to loved ones. 

Maybe you speak your truth and drop the mic, or maybe you take it with you when you leave.

This anthology features fictional stories–in poems, prose, and art–that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day. TAKE THE MIC’s powerful collection of stories features work by literary luminaries and emerging talent alike, including Newbery-winner Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestseller Samira Ahmed, anthologist and contributor Bethany C. Morrow, Darcie Little Badger, Jem Yoshioka, Keah Brown, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, Sofia Quintero, Ray Stoeve, Yamile Mendez, and Connie Sun, with cover and interior art by Richie Pope.

It’s a Whole Spiel edited
by Katherine Locke & Laura Silverman

Another #ownvoices anthology featuring Jewish writers!! I also really love covers that have a bunch of people on them.

Knopf has acquired It’s a Whole Spiel, a YA anthology by Jewish writers, edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman. With contributions from #ownvoices authors including David Levithan, Nova Ren Suma, and more, the anthology will contain contemporary stories with Jewish protagonists who are diverse in sexuality, ability, race, and level of religious observance. Publication is planned for fall 2019.


Hope y’all enjoyed this little post and made your TBR get a bit bigger. Also feel free to suggest some anthologies I missed coming out this year or from previous years!