Five Stars: Into the Blue by Pene Henson

Into the Blue (eBook package)

A while I promised a review of Pene Henson’s Into the Blue, which has received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly as well as excellent reviews from Romantic Times and USA Today — so well deserved!

Into the Blue is the moving story of long time best friends Tai and Ollie, who grew up surfing the North Shore of Oahu together. This book is Henson’s debut novel; it’s beautifully written and aches with the complexities of the protagonists’ stories. Their history and friendship is handled with great skill. There is never a moment when the forward progress of the story is bogged down by exposition that fills us in on the past. Instead we are treated into an inside view of their found family (their roommates Hannah and Sunny, and Ollie’s little brother Jamie) through the story, within it. It is immediately clear that Ollie and Tai have a very special friendship. Our perception of how special becomes more clear as we get to know Ollie, who is by turns prickly and unsure, who has a hard time with other people but who is quietly magnetic and lovable, even when it’s hidden from everyone but those who know him best. He’s foiled beautifully against Tai, who is magnetic as well but also magnanimous and outgoing. Together they make sense; when their relationship takes a turn from friendship to lovers, there is something between them that intrinsically works, even when we can clearly see them testing and blundering through situations of their own making.

I mentioned the beautiful writing; the landscape that Henson places her characters in is so vibrant. There’s such attention to detail. I felt transported – this book is a wonderful getaway. The sense of pause, that in between, that moment in their relationship where they can be something other than the friends they always have feels like a treasure and privilege to witness.

While Tai was a joy to read, Ollie was, for me, a revelation. I love his complexity and reticence. I love how he’s portrayed, like the world doesn’t always fit him, or like he’s not sure how his edges fit into the world. This is the second book this year I’ve read with a demisexual character and Henson handles his truth and story very carefully and thoughtfully. She also handles Tai’s progression through their relationship deftly – we get a good sense of how Tai packed the potential for feelings away when he and Ollie were younger after Ollie’s mother passed away, how and why he chooses to go along with the change in their relationship, but also how his fear of falling for Ollie and harming their found family complicates everything once they are brought back to their regular lives. None of these are over explained or overwrought. Instead they feel natural, and like the mistakes young men make when they’re figuring out what they want in life and how to get it.  Henson’s trust in the reader and in her characters makes falling in love with them as they fall for each other feel utterly natural and earned.

Five stars—if I could, twenty stars – for this stunning debut. Five as well for the beautiful cover, which makes me want to run away to the nearest beach to re-read this book yet again.

For a chance to win a 25$ gift card from Interlude Press, check this postthis post out on the author’s blog about her virtual book tour!

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Where *is* Waldo though?

On twitter, duh.

And thus opens my first blog post this the dawn of time. Brilliant, aren’t I?

Seriously though, I am a tweetaholic. It’s just so easy to tweet about the meaningless drivel of my life, particularly since I’ve hardly been on my actual computer since the semester ended. Plus, for Mother’s Day I got a kindle of my own, which is a lovely treat but I am fail at typing on a regular keyboard without typos, you cannot even imagine how often I embarrass myself with the typos I miss when typing on that thing.

I am getting back into the swing of things in a tentative sort of way. I’m doing a lot of caring for my mother, who is going through cancer treatment, which means I’m away a bit.

But on the happier end of things, Idlewild is going to be in everyone’s hot little hands in October. I am excited to share it with you, and Detroit, and Tyler and Asher, who are lovely and complicated men. Of course I’m full of the nerves that come with people reading my stuff, but thankfully I have months and months to worry and fret until it happens.

Welp, That was helpful 😉

I’m also excited to report that I’ve officially made a playlist for the story idea that’s been kicking around and hollering to be written. With life as it is (we’re moving soon, my mother, getting ready to release a book and all the edits that go into that), who knows how it’ll take shape or at what rate. But generally when something gets a playlist, that means shit’s gotten real. This probably excites me more than you all, but I’m used to writing at a faster pace and more consistently, and I had been bone dry in the inspiration department for a good month and a half (yes, when I see that written it seems slightly ridiculous to worry about, but like I said, I am always working on something). I really want to write this one, even if it’s slow, so feel free to poke me from time to time. I’ll have to give this project a secret name so that y’all have poke me efficiently. I’ll get back to you on that.

For now, I’ll just say that my playlist has gotten to Sia’s song, Alive. Punch in the gut, that song. Particularly when you know Sia’s story, and particularly since I connect with it on a personal level in my experiences. And (ahem) perhaps because I have a character with a sort of similar story to tell. BUT DON’T FRET. There’s happy stuff in there!! Lots of happy songs and feelings!!

Alright, I am off to consult with a student and to continue reading this AMAZING story written by my super talented friend, Pene Henson, who consequently just received a STARRED REVIEW in Publishers Weekly for her upcoming novel, Into the Blue. Surfers! Friends to lovers! Seriously, I cannot recommend this book more (consequently, the story I am reading is her next work, which is lovely).

 

So much AMAZEBALLS shit has happened

And I dropped the ball over here. I apologize; I can give a lengthy description of *why* I did, but that’s so besides the point right now. Because holy fuck was this a crazy good week for a writer. The stuff of dreams.

FIRST: Last weekend, I’m sitting around, wallowing in self pity because I have so much studying to do when I am contacted by my publisher with the crazy-pants news that I not only received a great review in Publishers Weekly, but that I received a STARRED review that is in it’s own little, eye-catching box. If you’d like to see how pretty it is, here ya go! I’d copy it here as an image, but the text is super blurry. As far as *what* they said, here you go:

 … Sierra (Hush) uses rich characterization and lyrical writing to infuse this slow-building romance with depth, humor, and pathos. Readers will savor every dip and peak of Milo and Andrew’s relationship as they balance the need for safety with the necessary risk of pursuing happiness.” — Publishers Weekly

I am so freaking honored by this, I can’t even.

SECOND: So I’m still freaking out about this when it hits me Tuesday evening (while I’m in class…yes I was on Tumblr during class. This never happens but I guess I was bored), and the girl who sits next to me (a lovely friend), points out that I scrolled past the announcement of my book pre-sale going live. WTF?? Like, I know I’ve been mentioning it, but for some reason the reality of it being so close hadn’t hit me yet. Weird. You’d think that since I went through this rodeo with Hush I’d be used to this. Maybe this is the kind of stuff you never get used to? Maybe one day I’ll get to ask a crazy established author.

So pre-sale is awesome because you get a great deal– if you by the paper copy of the book (which you guys, the cover art is done so much more justice in the paper book. It’s gorgeous no matter what but it’s stunning in person), you get the e-book for free. The e-book is DRM-free and multi-format, which is awesome.

The book will be released on January 14th 2016, so put it on your calendars!

THIRD and finally: Sock Saturday Throwback Thursday contest is closed! I have to sort through the entries to pick a winner, but if you don’t win this one, rest assured there will be more contests in the future.