Monday, 6 April 2015

BLOG TOUR INCL. REVIEW, EXCERPT & INTERVIEW! - THE TRUTH ABOUT US BY JANET GURTLER

Title: The Truth About Us
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: 7th April 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. 
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.


PURCHASE LINKS


EXCERPT

The greenhouse is sort of shaped like an old barn. It’s opaque with plastic and steel siding. The door is open, and I follow Wilf inside and pause and then breathe it in. The smell nourishes me. Moist air fills my lungs. I’ve forgotten how much the scents of greenery soothe me. It reminds me of different times. Simpler times.
“Nice,” I tell him, looking around at rows of plants on tabletops and plants stacked on the floor. I realize I’ve missed the satisfaction of nurturing plants.
There’s a man on a ladder in the middle of the greenhouse, fixing a shelf, with his back to us. A little boy stands at the bottom of the ladder, watching. Wilf walks over and pats his head and kneels down to his level. “How are ya, big guy?”
The little boy stands taller and giggles and holds out his hand. He’s got it wrapped tightly around a plastic blue train.
The man on the ladder turns and looks down at me. My heart stops.
It’s not a man at all. It’s him.
Flynn.

My face burns.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
Wilf frowns and then looks at me. “What’s up with you kids these days? In my time, we treated nice--looking young ladies with respect,” he says to Flynn gruffly. “Flynn, this is Jess. She volunteers here.”
I say a silent thank--you to him for calling me nice--looking and glance back at Flynn.
“Since when?” he asks.
“Since now. How about, ‘hello, nice to meet you’?” Wilf says to prompt both of us. “Is that so hard?”
“We’ve already met,” Flynn says.
My cheeks stay on fire as he climbs down the ladder.
“The shelf is fixed,” he says to Wilf. “Slumming?” he adds to me as he jumps to the floor. He folds up the ladder and then leans it against a counter lined with plants.
The little boy stares back and forth.
I try to think of something light and witty to save the moment, but my mind is blank. Instead, I panic. “What’d you do to get stuck working at this place?” I say, channeling my inner Nance.
“What’d I do?” He stares at me and then his lips turn up. “I didn’t have the right daddy, I guess. I’m here to have lunch. With my little brother. I’m not a volunteer.”
My stomach drops. Fail. Epic fail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RITA Award finalist Janet Gurtler’s young adult books have been chosen for the Junior Library Guild Selection and as Best Books For Teens from the Canadian Children’s Book Center. She has had her writing compared to Judy Blume and Jodi Picoult and that makes her happy. She has volunteered at a few soup kitchens and hopes to do more. Giving back is so important. Janet lives in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, with her husband, son, and a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce.

AUTHOR LINKS
Website | Facebook | Twitter

INTERVIEW

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Well, I would say, on average, for a YA- about a year from beginning to end (including editor “stuff”)
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?

The hardest of my YA’s to write was HOW I LOST YOU, because I really struggled with finding my way with that book.  I also had a hard time with WHO I KISSED because it was a personal book, about a death from a peanut allergy, and my son is allergic to peanuts. I cried a lot writing it.


You write for two age groups, YA and MG which is easiest/hardest to write for and why?
My Mermaid books are actually more of chapter books- they’re for girls 7-10. They’re a totally different kind of book to write from my YA. The mermaid books are bubbly and sparkly. I write them from an outline I create for myself and the process is a lot faster.  YA is more kind of taxing if that makes sense.


Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
I think I’M NOT HER will always kind of be my favorite in one way because it’s the first book I sold to Sourcebooks.  That said, I think my favorite book as far as what I think is the best book I wrote is WHO I KISSED.  Of course, right now, it’s THE TRUTH ABOUT US ha ha because it’s the one on my mind! 

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?

James from HOW I LOST YOU is a great favorite of mine.  AUNT ALLIE from WHO I KISSED and Amy from 16 Things. I also really love Wilf from THE TRUTH ABOUT US. I think it’s really fun to write quirky side characters who kind of try to take over scenes in books and I have to reel them in a little.  They always have a purpose and that is to teach the main character something, and they’re so fun!
[I have to admit I loved the character of Wilf from The Truth About Us too. You just wanted to reach out and hug him.]


If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Wow!! That’s a great but hard question! I’ll go with Jess from THE TRUTH ABOUT US because she is truly in love and I think she and Flynn are kind of soul mates and I see them being together and happy for a long time. Who doesn’t want true love like that?


Your YA books fall into a “realistic fiction”/”social issues” type of genre, what made you decide to write this type of book?
I am a realist. I think that’s what draws me to write these kinds of books. I hate when people BS and pretend to be something they’re not. I am all about talking truths and getting into deep things and being “real.” That is reflected in my choice of books I read and write.


Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Idea’s truly are everywhere.  Life. News. Conversations. Media. A small idea that becomes a “what if”. I think my inspiration for the books I write is the teenage girl I used to be. I’ve grown and changed a lot from that time in my life, but I still remember teen Janet and some of the things I wished for and worried about.  I wasn’t a very confident teen and wow, I would have been super amazed at me being a published author later in life. Not in a braggy way, but in an OMG, I can’t believe it way!


How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
I don’t do either. J Sourcebooks has come up with my title and cover designs for all my books. I am in good hands, I love what they’ve done!


Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

I usually come up with an idea and start writing the book and give it a title, but having been through it a few times, I realize that the title will probably change so I don’t get too attached. My first YA, I’M NOT HER, I originally titled, THE WEIGHT OF BONES and I loved that title so much. Ultimately it wasn’t the best title for the book, and I put my trust in the editorial and marketing people who know so much better than me what will work and what won’t!

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I’m pretty random with names. I use my son’s swim heat sheets a lot for names. Facebook too.  I just look around until I find something that seems “right”. There’s not real method to it. As far as setting,  I’ve used the same location for all my books (TADITA WASHINGTON) which is a made up town outside of Seattle. I use that setting because I am familiar with it. I’m Canadian and my books are set in the US and I’ve been to Seattle and find it’s a lot like BC in Canada. 


Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I try to create characters who are real to me, so I think a lot about what these people are like as far as personality, and try to expand on that by thinking about what they like, dislike etc. Their traits are part of who they are and knowing them helps shape what they say, and do. When I’m writing I try to think of my characters as very real people. 

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
Both, but in general I am much more of a flow writer.  (hey that sounds like Flo Rider ha ha)



Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Yes. That is all I am legally allowed to say. J I’m kidding but yes, of course things from real life seep in. 

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favourite/worst  book to movie transfer?

Depends. I think Hunger Games transferred so well from book to screen. And The Fault In Our Stars. The Time Traveller’s Wife, I loved the book and didn’t think it transferred well. 

If you could choose one of your YA titles to be made into a movie which one would you choose and why?

I think HOW I LOST YOU would make a great movie. Paintball.  Friendship. Betrayal. Cute boys. I’m waiting for a call.
 [Thank you for taking the time to answer my Interview Questions. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more of the books you have written, perhaps some of them you have mentioned within this Interview]


MY REVIEW

Title: The Truth About Us
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: 7th April 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. 
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.


PURCHASE LINKS

INITIAL THOUGHTS
I've read lots of reviews for books by Janet Gurtler, but had never actually read one of her titles myself. So when I saw this one on Netgalley, requested it, was accepted and decided to read this one and review it for coincide with it's release.

MY REVIEW
As I said above I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
The cover has a couple hugging near a brick wall. I think the couple represent Jess and Flynn. I think that the wall symbolize's the "wall", or divide that is between the couple. Jess living in the opulent side of town, and Flynn existing in a poor and rough side of town. 
So would the cover make me pick up the book in a book store? If I was looking for a contemporary read yes.
The central characters in this book are Jess, the youngest in her rather well off family. Until recently she had a perfect life, that was until her mum was attacked whilst out jogging in the park. Since being attacked her mum has suffered awful depression and has quite literally withdrawn from life. Since Jess's mother is always in her room, Jess' father is away working hard trying to keep the family in the style of life they are accustomed to as his wife is no longer working, so he isn't around much. Jess' older sister Allie is always staying over at her friends houses, well that's what she is telling her father, she is secretly almost living at her boyfriends house. So Jess is somewhat at a loose end, alone for the majority of the time. Jess has sort of been going off the rails, she's become closer friends with her mothers friends daughter Nance.  Nance has an older brother who takes money from them and buys them alcohol. It's coming to a point where Jess can't function in company without a drink. Jess and Nance certainly loose their inhibitions one day at Nance's house when they decide to sunbathe topless. Nance's usually absent mother Carol, returns home early and catches the girls, she telephones Jess' father and drives her home. Her father takes drastic action and as a punishment set Jess up with a part time summer job in a missionary shelter called New Beginnings for poor over in the "rough end of town" . What is meant to be a punishment ends up as a life changing experience in more ways than one for Jess.
At the shelter Jess rapidly learns that not everyone has as easier life as she did before her mothers attack. Jess works hard to prove herself to the other workers at the shelter, and also becomes friends with some of the people that go to the shelter regularly. 
The three characters I immediately loved in this book were Wilf an elderly ageing man who enjoys a verbal sparring match with Jess on a regular basis, though he also shows his sensitive side allowing Jess to help him out in the greenhouse tending his treasured azalea's that his late wife Rhea loved so much. The other two characters are Flynn and his younger brother Kyle. Flynn is embarrassed about needing to go to the shelter to have a decent meal, he actually insists on working at the shelter to "give back" and show his gratitude for the meal. So Jess and Flynn live totally different lives but there sure is an attraction there . . .and with Wilf playing cupid, things should be straight forward shouldn't they?
There are lots more great characters in this book too, from Jess's mother, and Stella from New Beginnings, we learn that where people live does not define what type of person they are. Jess really does go on an emotional journey, there's happiness, love, friendship, hardship and loss in this book. I could go on and on but really want to be super careful not to give away spoilers. I would like to add that the name of the missionary shelter really is perfect as this book does see a lot of it's character having a "New Beginning"
So did I enjoy the book? I really enjoyed the book a lot, I loved the writing style, the pace of the book was perfect I didn't want to put the book down. I wanted more at the end too.
Would I recommend the book?  Yes, it's a great, "feel good" read. I highly recommend this book. The great "feel good" feeling reminded me of my reaction to Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathon. Would I want to read more about these characters? I did get to the end of the book and was sort of "Oh no that's the end" Would I want to read other titles by Janet Gurtler? I certainly intend to read more of her books. Her style of writing reminded me a little of the book One Moment by Kristina McBride that I read earlier. The book also reminded me a bit of Katie McGarry's Pushing The Limits series and the relationship between her characters Noah & Echo.


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