Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Tour: League Of Strays by L.B. Schulman (Review, Video LOG + GIVEAWAY)

Genre:Contemporary Fiction, Drama, Thriller
Publication.Date  October 1st 2012
Published By:  Amulet Books
WebsiteL.B. Schulman | 

League Of Strays - Goodreads
My review copy:Advanced reader copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

Praise for League of Strays 
"A group of misfits is drawn together by a charismatic, sinister boy for friendship and revenge."
—Kirkus Reviews

Kade spoke with a confidence that was impossible to ignore. He could probably be friends with anyone he chose, if only he wasn't so... intense.

"It isn't fair," Richie said, lowering his eyes.
Kade slammed the glass in his hand down on the bedside table. "Since when is high school fair?" he asked
All of a sudden his fingers were in my hair. I felt like I was going to melt like the wax dripping down the side of the candle. His hand closed, my hair tied up in his fist. My heart was an explosion of percussion.

     Have you ever been bullied or teased? Have you been laughed at for being overweight, too tall or too short, too nerdy, or simply not cool enough to fit in? What if you could do something about it? What if you were offered a chance to join a secret group, one that would offer you understanding, support and friendship? And what if you could get revenge on all the people that humiliated you over and over again, hurt your feelings, smashed your confidence and dreams to pieces? Would you do it? 

     When Charlotte's father is offered a new job, the entire family moves to a different town. For Charlotte that means starting her senior year at a new school (which, obviously, is not easy), but also a new beginning and a chance to get away from Tiffany, a girl that bullied her at her previous school. But her hopes for a fresh start are dashed when she learns that Tiffany's family moved, too, and her tormentor will be attending the same school. Once again, Charlotte feels trapped, lonely and afraid. So when an opportunity presents itself to join a secret club called League Of Strays, Charlotte takes it, thinking she finally found a group of people she can trust and rely on. Little does she know the trouble she's getting herself into...

     League Of Strays is a one of the most interesting novels I've read this year. Skilfully written, emotionally engaging, powerful, at times even deeply disturbing, it's a fascinating and complex creation. A story with a message that is extremely important and provocative, relevant and disquieting. Many books have been written about bullying, most of them from the perspective of the victim, some from the bully's point of view. League Of Strays is different from all of them, because it offers the reader an insightful look at both sides of the spectrum. And not only do we get to explore both sides of the story, but we can also see what happens when the bullied become bullies themselves. It's a book about misplaced trust, revenge, fear and peer pressure, loneliness, desperation and finding somewhere to belong. A story of people who are so hungry for attention, friendship, kindness and acceptance that they'll push their limits and do just about anything to get all that. 

     I found the characters to be extremely well developed. Some of them inspire sympathy, others (like Kade) are all too easy to hate and despise, in the end, though, all of them are essential to the story. L.B. gives them distinct personalities and talks about the motives behind their actions, their feelings, fears and hopes. She assigns each of them an important role to play and breathes life into their paper souls. I can't say that I liked them, but these characters are not meant to be liked or admired, they're real, flawed, lost and confused. You sympathize with them, you feel sorry for them, you get angry at them, you find yourself relating to them, but you don't really like them. Kade? Kade is a whole different story. He's a perfect anti-hero. Manipulative, charismatic, dangerous and cruel, he knows exactly what to say to get people to do what he wants them to do. Charming and caring on the outside, he's all rotten and evil on the inside. A true monster in disguise. I'd read this book just for this fascinating character alone!

     There's no denying the fact that this is a book with a moral, an issue-driven story designed to teach the reader something about life and bring light to a very important topic: bullying in schools. Finding this message is up to you, though, as L.B. does not spoon-feed anything. To me, the message was clear: bullying is not OK. It's never OK, in any form or shape, even if bullying is a response to being bullied. Actions have consequences, no wrongdoing goes unpunished and, in the end, the story concludes in a very satisfactory way, but to get there you need to read all the way to the end, and you need to read with understanding. Nothing is obvious, things are not what they seem to be at a first glance, there are lies, deception and manipulation involved, and to see through all that, you really need to focus on the story and let it carry you away. I've seen way too many people misunderstand the message in this book and all I have to say to that is: no, this book does not in any way condone or promote homophobia or bullying. If you think it does, you have clear comprehension problems, or you're nitpicking at certain scenes in the book, taking them totally out of context. 

    L.B. Schulman's writing style is honest, raw and very smooth. It invokes many emotions, good and bad alike. Personally, I found League Of Strays to be absolutely unputdownable. Not only was I dying to find out how the story will end and when/if the revenge-madness will stop, but I was also genuinely scared for Charlotte and afraid of Kade's manipulative personality. I won't lie, this book was all kinds of creepy and disquieting, but never - not even for a minute - was it a meaningless, pointless kind of creepy and disquieting. 

     At less than 300 pages long, League of Strays is a fairly quick read, but also one that is sure to resonate deep within. It's the kind of story that stays with you long after you turn the final page. I myself was deeply affected by its profound message and couldn't stop thinking about the plot, the characters and the events depicted within its pages. L.B. Schulman did a remarkably great job shaking me out of my comfort zone. Her story sent cold shivers down my spine, made me wince and frown, pulled me deep into a very dark and unpleasant place. It's a thoroughly riveting blend of drama and thriller, and an unforgettable look at the nightmare side of high school. A brooding and unnerving piece of contemporary fiction that I highly recommend to fans of intelligent and provocative issue-books. 

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For my blog tour stop, L.B. offered to share with us the inspirations behind her book! She recorded a very interesting and informative video log, hope you guys will enjoy watching! Looking forward to your feedback!

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As part of the blog tour, Amulet Books has generously offered to give away 5 signed hardcover copies + a notebook and a set of multi-coloured pens/highlighters.

The giveaway is open to US/UK
You must be 13 or older to enter.
Please enter via Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


L.B. Schulman said...

Wow, Evie, great review. I am so happy you got what I was aiming to do with this book and that you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for hosting me on the blog tour. Your site is amazing and it's been a pleasure to work with you.

Kathy said...

Great review. This sounds like a thought provoking and interesting read. I wish the contest was for Canada too, but I will spread the word by tweeting about it!

Danny said...

I am so excited reading such an amazing review!!!!!! I've read some negative thoughts on this one, but I always was intruiged! I like it when a book can take me out of my comfort zone, so I will definitely add it back to my list!

kimbacaffeinate said...

Wow Evie this sounds really awesome and so much more than I thought it would be..adding to my list. Loved your review!

Jaime Lester said...

I never really thought that I would enjoy books about bullying until I read Courtney Summers Some Girls Are and Cracked Up To Be. As hard and disturbing as they were, I enjoyed reading them. I think it is good for people, especially teenagers, to see the destruction that being a bully and being the bullied can cause. League of Strays sounds like a fascinating read. Your review, as always, was fabulous! This is definitely a book that will be on my radar!

L.B. Schulman said...

Kathy, enter. If you win, I will give you one of mine if the publisher won't. Canada is only a two hour flight from me, for goodness sakes! :)

Renu said...

Wow, this sounds like a fab read! Must add it my tbr, thanks for the beautiful review, Evie! <3

PS. I love the 3rd quote!

Amy said...

This sounds like a fantastic book. I didn't really think much about reading it when I first started seeing it because when I see things like revenge it usually puts me off. After reading your review I have changed my mind about this though. I think I will eventually give this book a chance.

Kelly said...

Not sure I could read a book on bullying. It is awful! I am glad you read it and it has a great message to be shared. Loved your review.

Karina A. said...

I've read a review about the book that it has sensitive issues that weren't given delicate touch and was given a low rating. So I was surprised that your review is totally the opposite. This book is really intriguing. Maybe I should read this for me to see for myself if it's great or not. Thanks for the review!

L.B. Schulman said...

I hope you do give it a try, Karina. People feel very differently about this book. If you read it from Charlotte's perspective, as an innocent teen lured by seduction, I think you will enjoy it. The reader knows more than Charlotte, because of the cover and inside jacket copy, and sometimes that can upset some readers to follow her journey/growth.

Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews said...

I really, really want to read this! I started my NetGalley copy when I first got it, but the formatting issues made it unreadable. But this kind of book is right up my alley.

Your review was great. You really captured the mood of this book, and instead of going with the crowd (i.e. all the homophobia accusations and backlash) you really listened to what the author was trying to say.

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