Talking about Japan, Fantasy/PN YA novels that actually have ISSUES, and giving away A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith!

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Whenever I find a book set in Japan, I'm instantly intrigued and want to learn more. I lived in Japan for two years and had the most amazing experiences there. Reading books set in Japan, in some small way, return me to that world, that culture, and transport me back there. (They also tend to make me homesick, and renew my wish to return!) I'm also a little harder on them when Japan isn't portrayed accurately, so it makes me nervous to read them, too, but that's a story for another time! Nerves or not, I always want to read something new and make my own decisions about the book. I'm just so desperate to recapture the atmosphere I miss so much, I'll take it however I can!

When I heard about A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith, I was immediately intrigued. Multiple people had talked about how good her espionage duology SEKRET and SKANDAL were, which had me interested in reading her books and TBRing her. When I found out that her new book would have a Japanese flair, I was even more intrigued! This one automatically went on my TBR, even though books with a time-traveling, paranormal flair aren't really my thing. BECAUSE JAPAN!

A DARKLY BEATING HEART is a mix of the paranormal, time travel, and TWO messed up girls (albeit from different eras) hell-bent on revenge. Reiko is completely messed up and suicidal, so her parents send her to Japan for the summer to spend time with her parents. They hope the time will help her heal and get better, but instead, when Keiko visits Kuramagi, she travels into the life of Miyu...but instead, it drives her even deeper....

Sounds like something right out of an anime or manga, right? Just the sort of twisted tale meant to come to life visually!

It also deals with a lot of issues, which is harder to find in fantasy/paranormal. So many "issues" books are in contemporary fiction. When I find one that ISN'T, I remember it. There are a LOT of teens out there facing various issues, and a lot of them don't read contemporary fiction, so all the Laurie Halse Andersons and Ellen Hopkins of the world can't help them. When you have a book like A DARKLY BEATING HEART or a series like Riders of the Apocalypse by Jackie Morse Kessler. They're books for a new audience that may not see these issues in what they read, and it's comforting for them to go through things with someone else the way contemporary readers do. These books save lives, too.

With manga and anime and cosplaying so prevalent in today's society, an issues book that takes place in Japan and has a paranormal bend straight out of an anime will get a lot of teens interested in reading this one! I can see a lot of teachers and librarians putting this one into a (classroom) library! Other teens will look at the cover and think the book looks cool and want to read it, too. It's a very non-traditional way to slip some serious content into a teen's life while giving them the adventure of a lifetime to fall into.
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Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press // Macmillan
Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N  

A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.

About the Author

Lindsay Smith is the author of Cold War-era espionage novels SEKRET and SKANDAL, as well as the fantasy novel DREAMSTRIDER.
Lindsay Smith's love of Russian culture has taken her to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and a reindeer festival in the middle of Siberia. She lives in Washington, DC, where she writes on foreign affairs.

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