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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Stronger Than Blood, by Genevieve Griffin

Genevieve Griffin is a local writer friend of mine, about whom I’ve already posted, when I put up my review of her YA werewolf novel. But now I’m delighted to feature her on today’s doubleheader for Boosting the Signal, and to give you a chance to hear about her heroine, B!


Stronger Than Blood

Stronger Than Blood

The first real assignment that got dropped in my lap at Gilman High: write an essay about my most important goal.

I didn’t exactly dive into that with enthusiasm. It wasn’t like I had an easy answer, after all, considering my…unique circumstances. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t simple for the normal kids, either. Lacey confidently dashed off an essay about non-profit work, which figured, but Madison muttered for a while about parental expectations versus what she actually wanted, and then, grumbling, went with the safe version just in case. Emily dithered. Lin went unexpectedly thoughtful, and wouldn’t show anyone a word. And Jake blew off the whole thing as a joke, regaling us all in the middle of lunch with his dreams of becoming a circus clown. The grammar alone was a crime against nature, but at least it was colorful.

Brandon, meanwhile, didn’t do his at all.

When the due date rolled around and Mr. McKay asked for Brandon’s essay, he offered nothing. He just shrugged and reclined in his chair. God only knew how he could recline in those painful, unforgiving things, but he managed it anyway. “I’m not really into the ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ question,” Brandon drawled. “Unless the answer’s ‘lounging on a beach somewhere.'”

Our teacher sighed. “Brandon…”

“Knock off the points if you want,” he said. “I don’t have it.” Then he shut his eyes, obviously considering the conversation over. There wasn’t much Mr. McKay could do except mark down an “incomplete” and glare.

That left me as the next to turn mine in. And of course I had to go limping up the aisle to deliver it.

I’m sure my wonky health and wonkier social skills would be enough to make everyone wonder about my prospects. Okay, then: the barely functional misfit is going to do what, exactly? Go into gymnastics? Star in the movies? Run for president? I still had no idea, and I felt stupid enough presenting the utterly clichéd, I’m-Gonna-Go-Be-Inspirational! version my brother coached me through.

(“You know it’s total bullshit,” I’d told Grey, after groaning over my own writing. “Me as some kind of motivational speaker? Exhibit A in overcoming obstacles? I’m not exactly Little Miss Plucky, here.” His sardonic reply was that high schools thrive on bullshit. Given the evidence so far, I decided he might have a point.)

But after all that, there I was anyway, handing over my so-called masterwork. I couldn’t exactly beat a hasty retreat afterward, but I did my best. Of course it meant I had to walk past Brandon again. At least he didn’t pull any truly stupid tricks this time, not like tripping me the way he did on my first day.

He did, however, do something almost worse. He smirked up at me and whispered, “So what did you come up with, werewolf girl?”

I stopped cold, went wordless, and stared straight back.

What was there to say, after all? How was I supposed to plan for the future when that was my problem? I wasn’t even human, not really. The things I wanted–having an ordinary, pain-free life. Not needing to lie about myself. Getting out of town and maybe even traveling the world, I don’t know. Even just something simple, like going on a full-moon date without ripping out the guy’s throat mid-movie. Anything–were pretty remote possibilities.

Brandon knew that. He and I were the only werewolves in the room, after all. And I guess he could smirk about it, being luckier than I was, somehow or other. He was the healthy one. He wasn’t waging a constant war against his own body every month, and losing, painfully, with every change.

Then again, his smile was turning oddly self-deprecating. It put me off-balance for reasons that had nothing to do with my aching knees.

For the first time, his question didn’t seem entirely like a tease–because he wasn’t even pretending he had an answer for himself, either.

So. What did you come up with, werewolf girl? I thought in echo as I walked off, oddly nervous now. What are your real goals in life?

Surviving? Healing? Maybe something a little bit more?

I didn’t even dare voice that. I just hunkered down at my desk, hiding under my long, tangled hair. I could tell that Brandon was peering back at me anyway. For now, I ignored it. Maybe there was more going on under the surface with him than I’d thought, but I still wasn’t ready to confide in him about anything.

On the other hand, he’d already started dropping hints to me about other things, too. Like the existence of an entire pack I didn’t know yet. Other werewolves. Other possibilities. And if that was true, maybe somebody out there might understand.

Okay, then, Mr. McKay, I thought, imagining this as my essay–and imagining his face if he ever actually got to read it. Here’s my goal. Meet an entire pack full of dangerous, deadly werewolves, convince them somehow to help me, maybe find a place I finally fit…and if that doesn’t work out, get me, my friends, and my brother out of this unscathed. How does that sound?

Almost as if he’d heard me, Brandon grinned. And Lacey leaned over to whisper, “Don’t worry about him. I think what you said was inspiring.”

I blinked, suddenly disconcerted. “Um. What?”

“Your essay. I read it, remember? That whole part about overcoming obstacles? I could tell you really meant it.”

I gave her a disbelieving look. Brandon laughed outright. And I turned away before either of them could see me blush, which meant I was looking at the calendar on my student planner instead. I touched the wide, white circle of the next full moon, looming all too close, and I chuckled wryly, too.

Yep. I had a goal, maybe even some help…and I had a deadline.

What could possibly go wrong?


Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

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Other People's Books

Boosting the signal for Stronger than Blood, by Genevieve Griffin

Stronger than Blood

Stronger than Blood

A local writer friend of mine has just released her very first novel, the YA urban fantasy Stronger than Blood! I beta-read an early draft of this, and am proud to see it finally getting out into the world. Here’s what I said about it on Goodreads and Amazon:

(Disclaimer: the writer of this book is a friend of mine, and I beta-read this before its release! These remarks are based on my beta-read of the novel.)

Stronger Than Blood does a deft job of avoiding tropes I give the side-eye to in both YA and urban fantasy. It involves high school students, yet it avoids a lot of the angst I’ve seen in other titles I’ve sampled. And it’s urban fantasy with werewolves–but I found the heroine, B, refreshingly atypical. She’s not only not a stereotypical badass, her transformations cause her active, major health problems, and this is one of the neatest explorations of what exactly monthly shapeshifting can do to a body that I’ve had the pleasure to read.

And what does our heroine, B, have to deal with? Discovering that she is not in fact the only werewolf in the world, and that furthermore, the pack she discovers is not plagued with her health issues. But her initial quest to find out whether these other weres can teach her how to not only endure her transformations, but to get her strength back as well, is only the first layer of a nicely complicated little plot. B’s got to maneuver dangerous pack dynamics if she wants to survive not only her own changes, but her new place in a world that contains others like her.

So yeah, go pick this one up. And tell Genevieve I sent you, won’t you?

To which I’ll basically add here that if you like YA, and if you like werewolves, and if you’ve got a Kindle or any of the various Kindle apps, give this ‘un a read! You can find it for sale on Amazon right over here.

And you can follow Genevieve on Twitter here or on tumblr right over here!