Jun 29, 2014

Selene Castrovilla's upcoming novel, Melt, doesn't release until November, but I have a few treats to hold you over. I reviewed and I also threw in some quotes, music, photos of setting/places, and more. There's a giveaway below that EVERYONE can enter. Good luck and enjoy!

melt coverMelt by Selene Castrovilla
Contemporary, Young Adult

Melt is a brutal love story, set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz. Sixteen year old “good girl” Dorothy just blew into the small town of Highland Park – where the social headquarters is Munchkinland (Dunkin’ Donuts.) There, she meets Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? And then there’s his family's secret – about to be unleashed.

Told in dual first person, Joey's words are scattered on the page - reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason - until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away?

Melt is based on true events. It is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. It will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul.




Highland Park, NY

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Highland Park is a fictional town based on a small town on Long Island, NY.

[caption id="attachment_1670" align="aligncenter" width="300"]melt highland park (Image Source)[/caption]

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Dunkin' Donuts

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Reynolds Channel

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"We got to the water to this inlet or something I always forget what it's called. It's part of Reynolds Channel but it's got this separate name." --Selene Castrovilla, Melt (pg. 44)

bridge in Highland Park

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"It's this little bridge connecting two parts of Highland Park divided by water." --Selene Castrovilla, Melt (pg. 107)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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"So I took him around, showed him the Egyptian exhibit and tomb, and the medieval section with the thick suits of armor. The Monet room, a place where you could actually be among some of the finest works of Claude Monet, who was in my opinion the greatest of the impressionist painters." --Selene Castrovilla, Melt (pg. 112-113)

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melt vices
Music mentioned

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I Melt With You by Modern English[spotify id="spotify:track:4hHbeIIKO5Y5uLyIEbY9Gn" width="300" height="110" /]
Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra[spotify id="spotify:track:5iOnSrG79MzrCaq0I8Lpv6" width="300" height="110" /]
My Way by Frank Sinatra
Movies mentioned

Books mentioned

"Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger

Favorite Quotes

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**All quotes are from the ARC, and are subject to change in the final copy**

When I first heard that Melt is set in the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz, I thought I would find many similarities that it would mirror it or repeat it. But it's not at all like that. It's a story that stands on it's own with a powerful words and lessons. The storytelling was diverse and brilliant, that I have to give Castrovilla kudos for pulling it off. She threw caution to the wind, and boy did it work out for the best. I flew right threw this book, but it was evenly paced. Nothing was rushed and everything happened for a reason when they needed to. I was just so engrossed in it, seeing everything unfold and learning new lessons along with the characters.

Joey is the one that people tell Dorothy to stay far away from. Now that might seem familiar, but it's not. He's no bad boy we come across often, but what others call a "loser." He drinks, smokes pot, and hangs at the bridge with others like him. But he doesn't flirt or sleep around, and is no alpha. But there is so much more to him than what everyone sees. Where Joey is the so-called "loser" from the wrong side of town with family and drinking problems, Dorothy rivals him with her gated new house and psychologist for parents. But Dorothy sees through all that. She actually sees when no one else does. She sees Joey for who he is. The person people don't see, or try to see.

Joey has a less than stellar life. Having to watch his mom or take a beating himself more than a time or two all his life does have a heavy and negative affect on him. And having his brothers around that environment... it's pretty painful and really unfair. The youngest one scared shitless, while the other one escapes any chance he can get. It's up to Joey to hold everything together, when everything is falling apart right before his eyes. It was hard to read at times.  Unfortunately abuse does happen in some families. Some of us on the outside don't know what it's like behind closed doors of people far, and near and dear to us. I like that Joey realizes that when some people don't, and points out what we unknowingly overlook. I'm surprised with all the crap he's been through, saw and lived with, that he's not like one of those rebellious, arrogant bad boys. He cares a whole lot more than he shows. That was shocking to me, but it's what made me grow to like him even more. He's broody and a bit moody, yes, but he's got a lot of heart.

When Dorothy mentioned that Joey reminds her of Holden from Catcher in the Rye, I said the same thing after the first few chapters. There are similarities in personality and the way they see things and how it affects them. I saw a little bit of my favorite literary novel Catcher in the Rye in it. I saw it in the writing, the perspectives on certain aspects in life, and in the characters as well. The writing also reminded me a little of John Steinbeck and Salinger with the whole literary incorporated in it, and a bit of Tahereh Mafi as well with it's poetic-ism (is that a word?). There was a lot of literary aspects in it, and it is truly appreciated to tell this story.

As hard as it was being in his head with his home-life and all, I liked his POV. It's poetic in a dark and poignant way, packed with powerful force of emotions in it. It's like being on the outside looking in. As a reader, it's like that, even in Joey's POV -- who's the one actually living that life. It's like he's watching everything as it passes by, even though he wants nothing more than to do something to fix it, or run far away and never look back. Honestly, it's equivalent to watching  an ill person slowly dying from a disease that's eating away at him. Reading Joey's POV is so different than Dorothy's, and I like the one of many differences.

What I love about YA romances is that it's not like what you read in NA or Adult books. Feelings are real, yes, but it's not to the point where it's exhausting and dramatic. Even though the romance does fill a big chunk of the story, it wasn't all that mushy or lovey dovey, which is what I like. There are things they -- mostly Joey -- are dealing with. But there were parts where I'm almost literally screaming at joey, let her love you already! He's so foreboding when she said those three words and when he pushed her away for her own well-being right up until the end when he learned the greatest, most life-changing lesson of all. But even though this isn't your typical mushy romance, it is obvious that Joey deeply cared for Dorothy. I thoroughly liked that side of him. The side that no one knows of, the side you would never expect from him. That just added more depth to his character arc.

I can't
I can't
I can't take the chance of dragging her down to the muck with me.
She don't belong at the bottom
of the pond
She don't belong here in my kitchen.
I can't let her be
even just in my mind she might get muddy.

Another thing I liked was that there are many different ways the word "melt" was used in the book. Though there's only water to melt the wicked witch in Oz, but there's so many more ways to melt a person. And these characters come across those other things that melts them along the way. I like that Castrovilla incorporated that here, and how it connects to both Oz and to the book title.

All through the book, Joey thinks lowly of himself because of what he's lived with and what led him to believe about life, family and love. It wasn't until the end that he saw the metaphorical puddle that opens his eyes to the things that have been clouded and distorted. He was so close to an inevitable consequence, and usually it takes just that to see sense, that he found peace with the help of Dorothy and a guy at the support group. Dorothy helped him, held him, stayed with him, cared for him, and loved him when no one else had in his life. My only hang up was the ending. It just...ended. I just sat there like, what? I wanted more. Even just a little. An epilogue or something? I'll even bite for another sentence. It's not a cliffhanger, don't worry, but it just ended after Joey does a few monumental things. It wasn't until then that I understood the moral of the story. Looking back at how they started at the beginning to the growth these characters went through as the story progressed, it all led up to the ending. Without spoiling anything, what Joey finally realizes at the end is that his beliefs he grew up believing couldn't be more off and to take courage for those you love.



I received an ARC provided by Jen Halligan PR for the blog tour and an exchange for an honest review, however, it does not influence my review nor am I being compensated.
My Playlist

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About the Author

Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website for book excerpts and more information!

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | PinterestFacebook | Google +Goodreads


One winner will receive a signed ARC of MELT and $25 Amazon or B&N gift card (US/CA only). Three winners will receive an ebook copy (international).

***Any contestant that uses dummy or contest only accounts to enter will be disqualified.***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! And thanks for stopping by.

MELT Review Blog TourMelt blog tour was organized by Jen Halligan PR, and ARC provided by blog tour host.


Follow the tour!

Shadow and Bone

Jun 16, 2014

In honor of the release of the highly anticipated Ruin and Rising (out TODAY, June 17!), I created a story diary for Shadow and Bone! I've included the Ravka map, photos of the palaces, a few Russian cultures, the Grishas, graphic quotes, book trailer and more.

shadow and bone coverShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy, Young Adult

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.




[Can be found in the Shadow and Bone hardcover and paperback]

Ravka is a fictional nation that the story is set in, which was inspired by Russia.


The Grand Palace

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“It was larger than any building I had ever seen, its terraces crowded with statues, its three stories gleaming with row after row of shining windows, each ornamented extensively in what I suspected was real gold.”

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The Grand Palace is the residence of Ravka's King and his family. It's an extravagant demonstration of wealth, the Darkling calling the palace the ugliest building he's ever seen.

The Grand Palace is named Peterhof Palace in real life, and it is located in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Little Palace

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The Little Palace is the residence of Ravka's Grisha, the Second Army­. It is located in Os Alta, Ravka's Capital, near the Grand Palace.

Although the Little Palace may not exist in real life, author Leigh Bardugo got the inspiration of it's architecture from the Church of the Transfiguration.


Shadow Fold

The Shadow Fold, also known as "the Unsea" or simply the Fold, is a swath of darkness that suddenly appeared one day. It is a section of nearly impenetrable darkness that grows every year and contains unnamed horrors. It cuts directly across the Vy, a wide road that once stretched across the land connecting Os Alta to the port cities on Ravka's western coast. On maps, it is shown as a long, narrow lake, a stain, and sometimes just a shapeless cloud. [Source]

Inspired by Russian Culture


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“Three figures emerged in elegant fur hats and heavy wool kefta…”

And here's another for men...

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A kefta is a robe that only Grisha wear. A kefta's color is based on what class the Grisha is part of, and some are even made with Materialki corecloth which can withstand bullets. The embroidery on the cuffs signifies class.


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“This time tomorrow, we’ll be sitting in the harbor at Os Kervo, looking out at the ocean and drinking kvas.”

Kvas is a popular non-alcoholic drink in Russia and Ukraine made from black or regular rye bread (among berries), which contribute to the color of the drink. (More about Kvas here)


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“In the corners, Grisha clustered around samovars and lounged on divans…”

Samovars are tea makers, famously used in Russia.


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The Grishas

"The Grisha are the magical elite of Ravka, also known as the Soldiers of the Second Army. They practice the Small Science: they manipulate matter at its most fundamental levels. I like to think of it as a magical version of molecular chemistry. Status is everything to the Grisha. Here’s how their Orders break down."


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Figures + Creatures

The Darkling

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The Darkling is the mysterious force that leads the Grisha, and he is ancient and extremely powerful. He is a handsome young man, appearing not much older than Alina despite his ancient age. He's got ink black hair, quartz gray eyes and stern, sharp features. [More about The Darkling here]


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A Volcra is one of the many creatures living in the Shadow Fold that feasts on human flesh. The only thing that can harm a volcra is sunlight.

A volcra has long, dirty claws, leathery wings, and rows of razor-sharp teeth. They are blind from living in the Fold for so long, but books say they can smell human blood from miles away.

Morozova's Herd

Morozova's Herd is a herd of white deer. They are ancient, magical creatures that appear only at twilight. Kings have searched for the herd for centuries, but The Darkling's hunters track them down in order to get antlers to make an amplifier for Alina. The amplifier would be the most powerful one ever known.

Favorite Quotes

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Book Trailer


Meet Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Shadow and Bone and Siege and StormShe was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

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