Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Courtney Summers Read-Along Wrap-Up

Hi all!

So, that's it! The Courtney Summers Read-Along is finished! I had such an amazing time hosting this event. It was the biggest blog thing I've ever done and although I dropped the ball a few times (*shakes fist at school*) I hope I did an otherwise okay job!

To those of you who participated, THANK YOU! I have loved reading your comments, tweets, and reviews. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Read-Along! And for those of you that are just coming here and being like "What is this girl talking about?" well, just click on the Courtney Summers Read-Along tab up top and you'll be directed to all the posts from the event!

Thank you to my guest contributors Crimson, Christa, Melody, and Kelly. I loved getting to read your take on the books and I thank you immensely for sharing them. Also to Damon, Kelly, and Sarah from St. Martin's Press for you giveaway contributions and enthusiasm. It was greatly appreciated!

Thanks to everyone who tweeted, retweeted, commented, posted, etc. about the Read-Along. Your support has been unending and I sincerely thank you for it.

Special thanks to my first month co-hoster and bestie Crimson. For many many things, all of which you already know, but mostly for helping me kick off this big event. (And not yelling at me when I bugged you about it for months).

And lastly, and most importantly, thank you to Courtney Summers. Your books have inspired me time and time again, more than I could possibly ever say. All your support and enthusiasm for this event honestly made me so, so happy and humbled. So, thank you for being your awesome self. And for writing beautiful books that are needed.

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope it's filled with books and possibilities and happy-making things.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Monday, December 30, 2013

This Is Not a Test (Pages 158 - the end): Discussion Post

Hey, all!

Here is the third and final discussion post for THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers for the Read-Along! Read on and tell me your thoughts on the novel!

You still have a couple more hours left to enter to win a set of Courtney Summers books! Good luck!

***WARNING: Spoilers for THIS IS NOT A TEST***

Since this is the final discussion post of the Read-Along (*tear*), I decided to do this a bit differently. Normally, I go through the section and talk about the major plot points and ask you guys questions. I'll do a bit of that, but I kind of wanted to talk about why I love this book.

When I was interviewed for my job at Chapters, I was asked what my favourite book was. This Is Not a Test, I told them. I talked about the writing. The characters. How it was more than a 'zombie book'. I think I could've gone on for hours if they asked me too. I still could. There are just so many things that are amazing about this book. It's about the end of the world. It's about how your past grips you and doesn't let go. It's about kids growing up while the world is falling down. It's about learning to find something to live for.

Something that makes the book brilliant is Courtney's writing itself. The way her words seep into your head. The way they make you jump at every little sound, or clutch the book with fear. The words become so vivid that it's difficult to separate yourself from them. In Harrison's death scene, I felt physically ill. I could picture his ragged face so clearly. Could feel Cary's agony from his decision. I felt worn out, ripped apart and, in the end, put back together again. In the final scene, Sloane is back where she started and she says one of the most striking lines of the whole book is in this seen. "She won't recognize me when she sees me. I look like someone who has survived" It's startling. It's gut-wrenchig. But it's oddly hopeful. Because she did survive. Not just the apocalypse but the demons in her previous life.

Every character in this book is so realistic. So believable. They piss you off and break your heart and make you want to live for them. Grace with her kind heart and her secrets. Harrison with his fear and, in the end, his bravery. Cary with his self-hatred and strength. Rhys with his terrible burden and his fierce will to live. And Sloane. Sloane with her hopelessness, and her courage, and her fight, and her broken soul. I talked about my struggle with depression last month, but when I wrote my original review of This Is Not a Test, I wasn't ready to talk about it. I never mentioned why I loved Sloane so much, not really. I loved her for so many reasons but one of them being I could identify with her hopelessness. I had been there before. I could remember waking up everyday and wondering what was the point in moving. In living at all. It broke my heart reading about Sloane because I just wanted her to realize that she was more than what other people broke her down to be. And in the end when she finally decided to live, I felt so incredibly happy for her. She went through hell and back but she made it. This was a novel about surviving a zombie apocalypse but, it was also a novel about a young woman moving forward. And about her learning that she is something to live for.

I feel like I could talk about this book forever but really it boils down to one thing: this book is amazing. It's thoughtful and broken and everything I want in a novel. It made me think about what being alive means. I want to give this book to everyone I met because I think it's so important. There's something in this book for everyone. I hope you found your something in this book. I really did.

So, I'm opening the floor to you guys. Did you read This Is Not a Test? What did you think about? Did you find your something to hold on to?

Tomorrow, I say farewell to the Courtney Summers Read-Along.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Is Not a Test (Pages 85 - 157): Discussion Post

Hey guys!

Here is the second discussion post for THIS IS NOT A TEST for the Courtney Summers Read-Along! I'm going to be having a big double final discussion post, hopefully going up tomorrow. Monday will be the wrap-up post and that's it! We're in the home stretch all!

If you haven't already, be sure to ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY for a set of Courtney Summers books!

***WARNING: Spoilers for pages 1 - 157 of THIS IS NOT A TEST****

Oh boy, guys. This section was a crazy one. It starts off with Trace announcing that his father is still alive and outside the school. It seems to good to be true, but with such little hope in their world, you can tell Trace is desperate to believe it. Sloane volunteers to go out and investigate, which gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I didn't really think she would die (there are another 200 plus pages to go! Although I wouldn't put it past Courtney to have her turn into a zombie and have zombie Sloane narrate the rest of the book) but I was really worried about the outcome. Because she was planning to die. This was her opportunity to die with honor. Until dear Rhys steps in, throwing a major wrench into that plan. And now the stakes are even higher. As I was reading this, I was so completely engrossed. The eerie silence outside, the panic when the gate clangs, and the apprehension when approaching the man had me completely on edge. Were you guys as nervous as I was?

It's not Mr. Casper. Sloane tries to get Rhys to go back so she can escape. And then, all hell breaks lose. This is one of the only instances of zombies in the book and it is effing scary. It's frantic, and horrid and made worse by the fact that Sloane gives up. In these kind of situations, we're used to the heroine scrambling for escape. Fighting tooth and nail to live. But Sloane fights to save Rhys, and gives up on herself. When the zombie is about to kill her she says "This is it. Finally." Even in the face of a horrific death, she still longs for an end. Thankfully, Rhys is there to prevent that. And to get her to safety, even if she doesn't seem to want it. What did you guys think about Sloane's reaction?

Another big thing in this scene is Sloane decision to sacrifice not-Mr. Casper for the sake of Rhys life. It's a split-second decision, but one with horrible consequences. And a decision that was made before, by a different person. A drunken night leads to a confession from Cary that he did know the alley was swarmed but he let them go in anyways. That it was supposed to be Harrison who died. Reading this scene, you can see how much agony this decision cost him. He may have saved the lives of five other people, but two people died in the process. It's tragic. It's a tough, heart-breaking scene to read. But I think it's so good. Because it's realistic. I mean, there hasn't been a zombie apocalypse so it's hard to say what's "realistic" or not, but I think this scene is. These kids are facing life and death choices everyday, and there really is no right way to choose. And each choice eats away at them. I like that Courtney Summers doesn't shy away from such a gut-wrenching scene. Although I love Cary, so seeing him so upset was pretty hard. What did you guys think?

Last thing I'm going to touch on is the creepy "is there a ghost/Sloane's dad" in the school thing. At the beginning, it seems like maybe Sloane is just imagining things after her near-death experience. But, it soon becomes obvious she's not. Someone is in the school. And that someone turns out to be Mr. Baxter, their English teacher. He's not doing so well, and suspicions start to fly about him. He doesn't remember how he got in, and this lack of memory could cost all of them their lives. Rhys and Cary think he's lying, and Sloane doesn't know what to believe. They got to find where he got in though, and fast. Do you guys think Mr. Baxter is lying? Or are these characters starting to let paranoia get the better of them? 

Either way, there's a lot of book left and a LOT more craziness to happen. Get ready to have your heart ripped to shreds, lovely read-alongers.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This Is Not a Test (Pages: 1 - 84): Discussion Post

Hi guys!

It's coming to you late (once again, sorry!) but here is the first discussion post for THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers!

****WARNING: Spoilers for pages 1 - 84 of THIS IS NOT A TEST****

Oh man, guys. It took me a lot of effort to put down this book. I may have read it before, but THIS IS NOT A TEST just gets right into my heart and doesn't let go.  I feel so completely invested in the characters in this book that it's hard to walk away. They're just so real to me, and really make this story phenomenal.

THIS IS NOT A TEST starts off with a suicide note. A horrible, heartbreaking note carried through the first chapter that rips you apart with each new line. As does Sloane, the writer for said note and the victim of abuse. It doesn't take long for you to see the effects suffered by Sloane and her grief over her sister's abandonment. It also doesn't take long until the zombies come busting down her door. We get just enough of both in this short first chapter. Enough to understand Sloane and enough to set the terrifying atmosphere. How did you guys like the beginning?

I think one of the most interesting things about THIS IS NOT A TEST is that it goes against many conventions of a zombie novel while still retaining the inherent spookiness. A staple in zombie books is a narrator that is desperate to survive. In this case, Sloane doesn't care if she lives or dies. Before the apocalypse even happens, she had decided to end her life and once it does, it just makes her more resigned. She's a different characters from what we're used to seeing, and one that breaks your heart. What did you guys think of Sloane?

Now, we get to meet our cast of characters. Cary, the survivor and unintentional leader. Trace and Grace, twins, one angry and one gentle. Harrison, the youngest and most scared. And Rhys, mysterious yet caring. The thing about them, though, is that they don't have a "set role." They're people. They evolve throughout the story so that even their most basic roles don't fit them. And I love that because it makes them real. How do you like the characters so far?

All the characters are suffering from heartbreak and loss, most recently the loss of Trace & Grace's parents. And Cary's possible role in their deaths. Trace blames him, and Grace a bit too. They're both grieving and don't know how to handle it. I feel so awful for Cary though who has to endure this onslaught of anger over and over. He's just a kid. They're all just kids. Kids in a world where you can't be anymore. We see each of them handle their fear and loss a different way in these first few chapters. And we see Sloane still not find any reason to keep going. 

I distinctly remember the first time I read THIS IS NOT A TEST. I had been absorbed all day with this book, and ended up reading well into the night. Every time a I would read a thump in the book I would look up and check the door because it was so real. I honestly could hear the thumping in my mind and was getting more and more petrified as the story went on. And, the thing is, I can count on one hand the times we see a zombie in the book. Courtney Summers just creates such a vivid atmosphere that we don't even need to see the monsters to be afraid of them. There's a thumping that begins in this first section that becomes the backtrack of this story. There is that constant fear of the death waiting just outside their door. Did you guys feel as scared as I did (as I still do reading it a second time)?

What did you guys think of the beginning of THIS IS NOT A TEST? Let me know in the comments!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Guest Post: "The Girl You Know" by Kelly Jensen (+ GIVEAWAY)

Hi, all!

Today, I have a very powerful guest post from the fantastic Kelly Jensen. I'm not going to say too much about it, but rather let Kelly do the talking. It is such a great post, and such an important one. I really hope you'll take the time to read it.
The girls you meet in a Courtney Summers book are not pretty. They’re not nice. And they are not shy about either of those things.

But these are the girls you and I both know.

Earlier this fall, Courtney wrote an excellent piece called writing for girls, and in it, she talks about how it was hard to get her work published in the first place because she doesn’t write the easily digestible female main character. She doesn’t force her characters to get through their challenges with an easy way out -- they have to fight all the way through it, and many times, that fight is far from pretty. She doesn’t write girls who follow the rules or submit to the social standards of what it means to be a girl and “take it.”

In Cracked Up to Be, Parker is biting. She’s easy to dislike and write off as the kind of girl you don’t want to get to know. But this is her appeal: she doesn’t want to let you get to know her. She’s burning inside, secrets eating her alive. Parker takes to snark -- a quality that, had she been a boy, rather than a girl, wouldn’t lead to her being “unlikable” or ugly, but perhaps instead “charming.” 

Parker drops out of the public eye and seeks opportunities to get away, to essentially be unseen and forgotten. Her destructive habits, on the surface, don’t impact other people. They’re meant to harm just her. They’re meant to dull down the ache she has internally. She is not, by traditional views, a “strong” character. She is broken and irredeemable.

Of course, we know this isn’t true. We know by the end of the book why she’s taken to such internal torment and why she lashes out the way that she does. Her coping mechanisms are simply that: means of working through her anguish, making mental sense of what happened, and figuring out her own role in everything that went down.

It’s interesting to consider how Parker might be read were she not a girl. If Parker had a penis, would he endure the same kind of reaction from other characters? Would people consider him broken for how he chose to deal with what was eating him up? Or would they accept that something was going on with him, let him have his business and give him space, then readily welcome him back into the fold?

How would readers consider Parker if Parker were a he?

When Regina’s put into a situation where she’s a victim of sexual assault at the hands of her best friend’s boyfriend, she’s immediately labeled the problem in Some Girls Are. There’s no jury here, no opportunity for Regina to state her case. She’s the criminal, not the victim. But unlike Parker, Regina’s coping mechanism isn’t internal. It’s external. She’s out for blood in the same way her former friends are.

Regina is a girl with anger, and she’s not afraid to show that anger. So often, girls are told that anger is an emotion they can’t feel and can’t show. That it’s not becoming of them. That’s why Regina’s actions -- her external expression of those feelings -- are deemed unlikable. And even when she’s pushed to the brink, locked in a closet with the very boy who set off the chain of reactions that sent her from top-of-the-food-chain to the bottom, many find it hard to sympathize with her because of how she’s behaved up until that point. Being put in that closet removes her from the situations she’s causing externally and forces her to instead deal with those internal demons (in more ways than one).

Is she worthy of that sympathy? Of course. She was worthy in chapter one. She was worthy throughout, even with her own aggressive behavior. Her actions aren’t right, and they impact a LOT of people. She is her own problem in many ways. But because she’s a girl, she’s saddled with unfair baggage that says there’s something wrong with how she’s feeling and expressing herself. She’s angry, hurt, and desperate, but she’s also entirely unlikable and can’t be redeemed because of those things.

Regina recast as a Reggie instead would probably make her behavior less unlikable. It might be understandable, even encouraged. Because a boy’s gotta stand up for himself and his reputation.

A girl though. She should just take it.

Grief is ugly to those facing loss, as well as those trying to be there for the person experiencing that grief. But grief isn’t necessarily debilitating -- it manifests in complex ways. For Eddie in Fall for Anything, grief emerges from a sense of wanting to know why. Why is it her father chose to end his own life? Why didn’t he tell anyone he was considering this option? Why didn’t he get help?

It also springs from the questions Eddie has about whether she herself played a role at all in his decision.

Eddie’s grief is selfish. But all grief is. Except, what makes Eddie hard to swallow to those in her life, as well many of those reading her story, is that she pursues that desire to know answers to questions that don’t exist. She pursues the mysterious boy who claims to know things. She pushes away her hurting mother, as well as her mother’s friend. Eddie doesn’t sit around nor pause to consider how her own actions would impact anyone else’s.

But is she wholly selfish for this or is this selfishness considered such because she’s not yielding to niceness? Or because she’s not putting everyone before herself? And while there’s no doubt Milo is a great guy in this story, it’s impossible not to wonder whether that’s because he’s easier to take than Eddie. He’s far less intense.

Consider Eddie as a boy. Would he be selfish then, or would he be a hero for seeking that closure?

Is Sloane selfish for wanting to kill herself in This Is Not A Test? For many readers -- a startling number, in fact -- that death would have been the best resolution to her story. Despite years of suffering at the hands of her father’s abuse, both physically and (perhaps more painfully) mentally, she’s too frequently viewed as whiny and worthless. Even after being abandoned by her sister and having a promise of getting out together be broken, many see Sloane’s anguish as silly. Trite.

Sloane’s own personal history should have no bearing on how she reacts when everything in the world changes. Except of course it does -- you can’t unwrite your own past. When you’ve lived a life where following the rules and being obedient is a requirement and suddenly you’re tossed into a world without those rules, you have no internal cues from which to make sense of things. And if you’re Sloane and your plans for your own death were disrupted, all you can do is hope that you aren’t a burden onto other people in the way you’ve been a burden to your own family.

Girls are told they should be bright and positive. That they should hope. That when something bad happens to them, they should pick up the pieces and move on. Or more -- they’re told they’re never actually broken, that there are no pieces to “pick up,” that whatever they’re feeling or experiencing or thinking inside is self-pity and isn’t real or justifiable.

That if they feel anything other than rainbows and butterflies, if they appear any way other than ready to serve and submit to those around them, they might as well die because what’s the point? Girls should be secondary characters in their own stories. If a girl wants what other people have -- to feel good, to feel loved, to feel like she belongs no matter what -- then she is ungrateful for even being given an opportunity to life.

Would we even consider a boy being in the same position as Sloane? And if so, what would that look like? How would the other people stuck with him during the zombie apocalypse react to his behavior? Would he be told that his life would be better if he were dead instead of actively feeling what it was he felt? Would he deserve the moments of affection and care others give him?

All girls have witnessed something that’s impacted them.

All girls have been victims of bullying on some level -- for reasons out of their own control.

All girls have felt anger.

All girls have experienced grief and the need to find answers to questions they have.

All girls have felt alone.

Courtney Summers writes the girls we know because she writes the girls we are sometimes: ugly, confusing, frustrating, seeking, desiring, breaking, bending, taking, and making. We’re all complex and dynamic, unlikable and brutal. We’re all agents in our own lives, rather than passive actors here for others around us.

Our stories don’t have solid endings -- even when we’ve come to the conclusion of a series of events, there are often things left unresolved, open, with the possibility for more, whether that “more” is from a place of hope or not.
There’s no need to slap a bow on top of a package that’s complicated; instead, these stories shake the boxes, untie the ribbon, and opens the box.

These are stories about being a girl and fighting against everything we’re told isn’t allowed in order to be a girl.


Thank you SO MUCH Kelly for that beautiful post. It's such an important topic, and one I think gets brushed aside all too often. I've said it before and I'll know doubt say it again but, to me, the characters in Courtney's books are so incredibly real. They are real characters facing real issues. Not pretty, happy-ending issues, but rather the painful, brutal problems people face every day. Her books are important. Powerful. Real. And need to be read.

Now, Kelly has been EVEN MORE AWESOME and is offering up a giveaway! One grand prize winner will receive a copy of ALL of Courtney Summers novels! That's right, all of them! That's one copy of WHAT GOES AROUND (the bind-up of CRACKED UP TO BE and SOME GIRLS ARE), FALL FOR ANYTHING, and THIS IS NOT A TEST. How epic is that?

Giveaway Rules:
- Must be 13 years or older
- INTERNATIONAL (where the Book Depository ships!)
- You do NOT have to be a participant in the Read-Along to enter
**If you ARE a participant, you will get extra entries!
- Not responsible for lost or damaged prizes (sorry!)
- I reserve the right to disqualify as I see fit (aka don't fake entries pretty please!)
- Fill in the Rafflecopter form to be entered!
The giveaway will last from NOW until DECEMBER 30th at 11:59pm!
Good luck, and enter away!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fall For Anything (Pages 116 - the end): Discussion Post

Hey all!

So, I know this is coming weeks late but here is the final discussion post for FALL FOR ANYTHING! I tried to keep it a bit short but I don't think I really succeeded!

***WARNING: Spoilers for FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers***

Okay, can we please talk about that kiss? I mean, ALL THE FEELS GUYS. I wasn't really sure if I saw Eddie and Milo ever being a couple but as soon as this kiss happened, it all just clicked. I was smiling and giddy and excited reading it. It was one of the first happy moments in the book. And although it didn't stay happy for long, it was still such a great moment. Because, unlike the kiss with Culler, this one was was tinged with hope, not sadness. It confused Eddie, yes, but she also seemed hopeful about it, if only for a brief moment. What did you guys think of the kiss?

After the kiss we have a very uncomfortable scene with Milo, Eddie, and Culler at an abandoned school house. My feelings on Culler are still pretty apprehensive at this point. I don't know whether I believe him/if I think his involvement is only going to hurt Eddie more. Milo says something horrible here but, it also might be true. All of them are searching for messages from Eddie's father, messages he seems to have left for them to find. Milo says: "But if he left messages for you to torture yourself with...I think less of him." Obviously, this really upsets Eddie. These messages are the hope she is clinging to. She can't think less of them. But, as an outside observer, what do we think? Are these messages just giving her false hope? Are they just going to lead to more questions? Or, are they what Eddie needs to move on? At this point, I can't really tell. There doesn't seem to be a why to them, at least not yet.

At the end of the third section, Eddie and Culler have set off on this road trip to find the other messages her father left. And there's a line that had me in tears. "I'm hopeful. I can't remember the last time I felt hopeful." It's so simple. There isn't some long-winded soliloquy about life and death and happiness and such. Instead, just a few simple words to rip you apart. Because it is such a beautiful thing, to feel hope. And Eddie hasn't, not really, not in this entire book. So for her to say that is such a huge thing. And my oh my, did it have me all teary.

I'm skipping ahead juuuust a little bit to the scene inside the abandoned house. I can't even begin to describe how heart breaking it is. Could you imagine? Seeing those horrible words written on the wall from your dead father? The words that confirm all your worst nightmares? It utterly ruins Eddie and, as the reader, I felt such enormous heartbreak. I also felt kind of angry. Eddie didn't deserve this. Any of it. And to have such a destructive note left behind was just another stab in the back. It just made me want to hug her. And help her. And do whatever I could to stop the pain she was feeling, full well knowing there was nothing that would ever make it better.

Culler and Eddie head to a motel after that, and end up taking pictures of Eddie without any clothes on. It's kind of a jarring scene though. Eddie, really, has been pretty exposed to the reader mentally this whole time. We have lived these agonizing days inside her head, witnessed her complete grief in every way. This scene is kind of the culmination of that. Of Eddie completely exposing herself, her grief, for everyone to see. In a sense, this is her way of living, of reminding herself that she's still there.

Then, its the morning after and Culler is gone. No note. Not goodbye. Just complete abandonment. To say I was LIVID is a serious understatement. Eddie tries to rationalize it, but even she can't. Not really. As the reader I wanted to hunt Culler down and punch him clear across the face. Eddie has been through enough. How in the world could he put her through more? Because people are selfish like that, I guess. But not Milo. Milo who drives some fourteen hours to pick up Eddie. Who still takes her to the church to find the last note. Who takes her to Culler and circles the block, even though he just wants to protect her from more grief.

And then the big, heartbreaking, breath-stealing reveal: it was all a lie. Culler wrote the messages. Even though I had read this book before, it was such a shock to my system. I couldn't believe it. It was just simply horrible. Such a horrible, selfish, cruel thing to do. Eddie doesn't really even know what to do with herself. She has been pushing herself to find the why. Hasn't really let herself think of anything else. And now, she finds out the why was never within her reach. It was all just a lie concocted by a grieving boy who thought more about himself than her. 

One of the things I love about Courtney Summers books is that the characters are never black and white. There aren't "good guys" and "bad guys". There are people, and other people. Not a single character is perfect. All of them have their faults. But they're all so incredibly human. I'm going to get into this thought more when we talk about This Is Not a Test this month but I really wanted to mention it now in regards to Culler. Because no, Culler doesn't really fall under the "good guy" category. But, is he really in the "bad guy" category either? Yes, he does some really NOT OKAY things. But, he didn't do it out of malice. He did it out of some sense of grief and desperation. It wasn't right. There really isn't anything he could ever do to make it right, but I don't think it necessarily makes him a bad person. Misguided, without a doubt. But also broken.  Even after my second read, I can't really put my finger on Culler. And, you know, I think that might be the point (and I'm actually okay with this question being left unanswered).

We end the story where it all began: on the roof of Tarver's. Without answers, with tons of questions, but with hope. Something that definitely wasn't there when the story began. Hope. Hope that peace is in reach. That Eddie may be able to finally move forward. It's a perfectly imperfect ending. And the one Eddie needed.

There's kind of a reason I took so long to read this book. I was, honestly, afraid of it. It took a bit of courage to pick it back up again (although when it was in my hands it was hard to put it back down). I talked about why here, but to summarize: this book hits me right in the heart. It hits me in all the vulnerable places and that makes it frightening. But also important. Books like these are important. Because they address the issues people shy away from. They talk about issues people are suffering from every single day. They start the conversation. And they give people hope. This book gave me hope. And that is the most amazing thing in the world.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Courtney Summers Read-Along: Month Four: THIS IS NOT A TEST (+ Update!)

Hello, awesome people!

I can't even believe it. We're in the home stretch! Today marks the start of the LAST MONTH of the Courtney Summers Read-Along! *tear* I'm really sad that we've come to the end but I've had such an amazing time hosting this event. I hope you guys have enjoyed it too!

To give you guys a bit of an update: I have been absolutely swamped with school the last little while. I have an exam tonight, had two yesterday, and two essays I handed in on the 3rd. All my time has been devoted to trying not to fail, which means that the Read-Along has been put aside. Fear not though! After today, I actually have breaks between my exams (thank goodness) so I will be using it to catch up. SO here's a mini revised schedule!

SUNDAY DECEMBER 8th: Final Fall for Anything discussion post
MONDAY DECEMBER 9th: First This is Not a Test discussion post

After that, I'll be sticking to the original schedule and we'll end off this Read-Along with a bang! (There will be one giveaway going up in the next couple of days and possibly another one near the end of the month!)

I'm actually SO EXCITED to reread This Is Not a Test. It is, quite possibly, my favorite of Summers' books and I'm looking forward to returning to this story. I know some of you might be put off by a zombie book (or you could be all YAY ZOMBIES, who knows) but this book is about so much more than that. If you want to hear my thoughts, I reviewed This Is Not a Test when it came out last year. I hope you love it as much as I do!

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

So, here's how the month is going to work. Each week we'll be reading designated pages from the book (the list of pages is below)! Every Sunday, there will be a discussion post about that week's chapters! You can read as fast or as slow as you want (aka you don't have to follow the schedule, that's just how we'll be separating the discussions), and I hope you guys will participate in the discussions on Sunday. Throughout the month, there will be guest posts, reviews, and other cool things (including giveaways)! You don't have to have signed up to participate! Just comment below saying you want to join.

  THIS IS NOT A TEST Page Breakdown
Week One (Dec. 1st - 8th): Pages 1 -59
Week Two (Dec. 9th - 15th): Pages 60 - 115
Week Three (Nov. 16th - 22nd): Pages 116 - 171
Week Four (Nov. 23rd - 29th): Pages 172 - the end

If this is your first read or your fourth, thank you guys SO MUCH for participating. I can't wait to hear what you guys think!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

P.S. I also wrote a post last week about depression and books that you can read here (if you're into that sort of thing).