Cover Image: Two Winters

Two Winters

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Member Reviews

Two difference years and places with two women searching and navigating through the same problems. Life has never been easy and this book showcases the struggles and misconceptions of how life has, but has not changed in the many decades.
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This book had so much heart and was a really quick read. I loved all the characters as well as the time period of the first half of the book. I don't want to give too much away but it was incredibly emotional, but profoundly so. I loved the way the author weaved the two stories together! Don't miss out on this title.
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Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Suzy approved book tours for the gifted copy. 

This was based on Shakespeare, but I am not familiar with the story. This story had a lot of drama and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen.  I enjoyed the characters and this was a quick and enjoyable read.
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The author says in her synopsis that this is a contemporary young adult retelling of Shakespeare’s THE WINTER’S TALE. (I did go on good old Wikipedia after reading this book to read Shakespeare’s synopsis.)

This book tells the story of two winters in Illinois. The first is the winter of 1997 in Havendale, Illinois - a small farm community 3 hours south of Chicago.  

The second winter is in 2014 in Chicago.  

The 1997 timeline is narrated by high school junior, Paulina. She tells of life as a bisexual and also tells how she and her 3 closest friends are navigating life and the problems that each of them are facing.

The 2014 timeline is narrated by 16 year old, Perdita. She tells of her own life as an adopted daughter with two moms. Perdita wants to know more about her birth story, but neither mom is forthcoming with any information. Perdita meets a guy and with his help she makes some startling discoveries.

These timelines intertwine to tell an amazing story, but I don’t want to give any of the read away.

I will tell you that I’m still thinking about this book. I felt like the hot topics discussed (and there a ton) are incorporated into this book in a very impressive and well timed  manner. In this book there is mystery, tragedy, redemption, sexual orientation, love, family dynamics,and most importantly the impact of friendship. 

The characters are written with such precision that they felt real to me.

My favorite parts of this book are the letters written by some of the characters which move the story along and give the character and story so much depth and feeling.

The ending..I read it three times and cried every time.
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Two Winters is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. This is one I have not read so I can't say how comparable the retelling is but this is a great upper YA story. The story is told in two timelines, the first being 1987 when Paulina is 17 and her best friend Mia is pregnant and trying to keep it secret from everyone, including the father, Tesla. Paulina is also in a secret relationship with a school athlete, both are bisexual and not out. The second half of the book takes place in 2014, Perdita is 17, adopted, and really wondering where she came from. We also see some flashbacks in the form of letters from Mia and Tesla. This is an engaging book but does cover some heavy topics such as teen pregnancy, homophobia, and bullying, but it's not so heavy as to be tedious. It's also a story of choices and how they can affect our life and future. I recommend this and give it 3.75 of 5 stars and thank Suzy's Approved Book Tours, Lauren Emily Whalen, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
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I wasn't sure what to expect from this book beyond reading the synopsis, but I was very pleasantly surprised! Two Winters is a YA retelling of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, which I have not read so I don't know how close of a retelling it is. I know from reading a summary of The Winter's Tale that there are many similarities, in characters, timeline, and some of the plot, although reimagined of course.  I don't include a synopsis in my reviews because if the book appeals to you enough to read a review, you've probably already read the synopsis. :)

I loved the first half. Paulina is an engaging narrator and was easy to identify with. I loved the way the author used letters written by other characters to the baby to inject their point of view into the narrative, since it is told in first person. There were many twists and turns, some the author left clues for that you could figure out, and some that I didn't see coming. The book kept me reading because I wanted to find out what happens. 

I liked the second half a bit less, but it was still good. A little harder to identify with Perdita, I don't know if it is because she is less mature, or we just don't get far enough into her head. The plot was enjoyable, and the ending was overall nicely wrapped up, although I felt like it ended rather abruptly. I would have liked at least one more chapter or an epilogue to explain how things will play out in the long run. There is an epilogue, but it clarifies some things from earlier in the book, not the future.

I did feel like her friends, who were experiencing a teen pregnancy, were very naive. However, they are high school students so that may be very accurate. This is a YA about teenagers, but I would not recommend for young teens. It is pretty dark, there is quite a bit of talking about sex, and some characters die somewhat gruesome deaths. I don't think it glamorizes teen pregnancy, but the characters don't deal with it well (again, teens). The only other reason it wasn't five starts for me was that some of the plot twists seemed a bit unbelievable or a bit much, but I think that was probably in keeping with the Shakespeare retelling.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book if the synopsis appeals to you. There is a lot of BIPOC and LGBTQ rep, there is found family, and it kept my interest and made me want to keep reading. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a unique young adult novel. It is a retelling of Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' which I have not read, so I can't say how similar or dissimilar it is. I went into this expecting something completely different from what I got; which isn't a bad thing. This was a lot darker and emotional than I thought it was going to be but it is a very compelling novel and I pretty much read it in one sitting. 

It follows two perspectives. The first is Paulina's, who is a bisexual girl in the late 1990s, is in love with a high school volleyball star who is deeply closeted and who is also keeping the secrets of her closest friends. The second narrator is Perdita, an adopted teenager in 2014 who despite being incredibly happy with her mom's, desperately wants to know where she comes from and why her parents are so secretive about her origins. I went into this expecting it to flip narratives every other chapter but it didn't. The first half is from Paulina's perspective and the second half is Perdita's. That format worked incredibly well for this novel, and I can't see it having worked any other way. 

I definitely enjoyed the first half more than the second. Paulina is a much more engaging narrator and despite often being frustrated at some of the things going on, I was much more invested in her as a character. Perdita, on the other hand just didn't click with me and there were far too many coincidences and overly dramatic revelations in the second half for me, it also didn't feel as emotional or raw as the first part which was done beautifully. In all honesty, the first half is probably 4*'s for me and the second about 2.5/3 but I did appreciate Perdita's story. 

The writing is compelling and it moves along quickly. All of the characters have a lot going on and they read like teenagers which is always a plus. One of my biggest complaints is that we didn't get more Xander, as I feel he could have added a lot more to the story and that the Cameron plotline was left hanging for so long and never really explored. 

There is a wildly diverse cast of characters in this which I appreciate and it manages to convey an interesting and compelling story without hitting readers over the head with issues or difficult events. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely pick up more by the author. 

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a different kind of love story. Mia and Tesla were dating and had feeling for one another. They were 17 and Mia became pregnant. The plot of the story is how the pregnancy was kept secret by Mia because of her parents and the Catholic Church.The story follows Mia and Tresla until a tragedy comes. The story has good characters and delves into religion's views on gay lifestyle and pregnancy before marriage and being old enough to care for a child. This is a very emotional story and is told somewhat in the form of letters written by Tesla and Mia to an unborn and unknown child. I found the book heartwarming and not so much a romance as love between a parent and a child.  
I received this book as an ARC for Netgalley but my thoughts and opinions are my own
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Wow! I guess I didn't really read the synopsis before I jumped into this one and I'm glad I didn't. It's a retelling of Shakespeare's "The Winter Tale" (which I've never read...). I can't tell you if it's accurate to the original story, but I can tell you that it's a fantastic book! ⁣
A group of friends. A catholic school. A pregnant teen. A bisexual teen. Everyone has their secrets. One dreadful night it all comes tumbling down. And then the story picks up 17 years later and carries on. Simply fantastic!
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Two Winters is the modern rewrite of Shakespeare's "A Winters Tale" as mentioned in the blurb. I actually read a bit of the original play because I was interested  in what the resemblance  between the two would be. Although I did see similarities (names, timeline, circumstance, etc.) Two Winters in my opinion definitely stands on its own. The similarities are not fundamentally great enough to be comparative.  Others may feel differently, but that is my own impression. 

With that all being said, it was an enjoyable book. I loved the flashbacks through letters. That is always a nice touch to get an insight on a characters thought process concerning life altering decisions and how it shaped their present/future. It all came together in the end in a very poetic way thought left the reader feeling as though the characters worlds were righted and the characters finally got closure but also a new beginning in a way.

The ONLY con if you can even consider it a con, is that this is listed in the LGBTQIA  titles. I would say that it is a fiction drama and leave it at that. It just happened to have some gay characters, but it was necessarily central to the book.

I received this book from NetGalley via the publisher for an honest review.
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In the winter of 1997, Paulina and her Catholic high school friends are all carrying around secrets. Paulina likes both guys and girls, but right now, she would love not to have to hide her relationship with Ani, the volleyball star. Tesla and Mia are pregnant, and Tes is thinking of proposing. Xander has a crush on Mia and won’t admit it, but Tesla suspects it. This year school is a powder keg ready to explode, and then tragedy hits. 

In the winter of 2014 Perdita is a bright teenager with two moms. She loves improv and is very curious about her adoption. With the help of Fenton, a sweet and sympathetic friend, they are determined to find out the truth of her birth parents.

I love retellings, and 𝐓𝐰𝐨 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 is a unique twist on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Letters written to Mia’s baby interwowen throughout, give a personal and heartfelt touch. This story has great diversity in its characters and discusses topics such as bullying, homophobia, racism, and grief. If you’re looking for something a little different in the young adult section, I recommend 𝐓𝐰𝐨 𝐖𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬.

Thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and @laurenemilywrites for a gifted ebook.
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TWO WINTERS by Lauren Emily Whalen is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's THE WINTER'S TALE. While Shakespeare's play deals with royalty and nobility, Whalen's young adult novel centers around average people from a small town in Illinois and is set in the winters of 1997 and 2014. It's a quiet book that deals with teen issues without becoming an "issue book." It also features a diverse cast of characters who face many of the struggles one would expect those of marginalized identities to face.

The prose is strong, and the story is well-paced. In the wrong hands, it might have been too brief for the number of characters and complexity of the plot, but Whalen delivers a tightly-packaged story with enough information to know and feel for the characters and a plot that's easy to follow despite the complicated web of relationships. Aside from a few trigger warnings, my only advice is to keep in mind that this is a Shakespeare retelling with an appropriately Shakespearian ending...and a fabulous take on one of Shakespeare's most infamous pieces of stage direction. Forget plausibility. Enjoy the emotional resonance, because it's beautifully executed. It's a quick and enjoyable read, and I definitely recommend it!

Trigger Warnings*: gun violence, homophobia, bullying (incl. homophobic bullying), teen pregnancy, suicidal ideation, racism, pedophilia/molestation, death of a child, physical violence, infidelity
*Bear in mind, many of these are oblique references or mentioned in passing, and all are handled with care.
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Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with an earc

I've never  read "A Winter's Tale" so I can't say anything about how good this retelling was but I did really enjoy this book. The first half of the book was heartbreaking and I really loved the friendships. And then the second half was  interesting and I loved Perdita and how she was determined to know about her adoption. I love how it all came together and I loved the letters that were written.
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Two Winters is a beautiful, tragic, and complex well crafted story  about four teenagers. The first half focuses on Paulina a bisexual who keeps everyone secrets. Mia who is pregnant by her boyfriend Tesla, and Xander the only  Africa American in the entire catholic school. 
   The second half takes place in 2014 and  is about Perdita a sophomore who is adopted and lives with her two moms. She wants to know her heritage.   When her moms would not give her an answer about her biological parents she  and started investigating with the help of Fenton.
 The story was not what I expected and came together beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I definitely recommend. Well done Ms. Whalen. 4 stars'

I received an ARC copy from the publisher Bold Stokes books Inc via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This was lovely. It’s the first retelling of Shakespeare that wasn’t miserable. It was really complex and beautiful.
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Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Two Winters in exchange for an honest review.

If you're adapting Shakespeare and no one's bi, you're doing something wrong. I haven't read A Winter's Tale (yet, I actually have to soon for a class) so I can't speak to how this works as an adaptation, but it definitely stands on its own outside of the source material.

Maybe it's because I haven't read the source yet, but this felt a lot less forced than other modern Shakespeare retellings I've read. All of the characters are really complex and messy and their turbulent moods and decisions always make sense and seem like a natural extension of the plot. I do think a few things (particularly in the modern part) felt a bit rushed, but this was a gem.
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Two winters 

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. My initial reaction was “wow cool plot” and …it was accurate. This was such a cool read people! 

Now this book is a retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” so I just wanna say that I’ve never read/seen/heard of it. I’m a creole woman guys- acclaimed European literature is not my thing. That being said- perhaps someone who actually likes Shakespeare may have a different view on it.

My view though is, Lauren Emily did a good job at this! A book split into two half’s in two different times is always a tricky thing to write that I often see authors struggle with, but Lauren did fine! 

The first half of the book starts in 1997 and introduces us to Mia, Tesla, Paulina and Xander. Mia, pregnant, Tesla, the father and Paulina the main narrator, an in the closet bisexual. Xander isn’t really that big of a part of this but he does have a crush on Mia and is actually important to part 2 of the book. 

The second half of the book follows the daughter of Mia. Now year 2014, after being given up by Mia, Perdita is at that point in her life where she’s wondering about her biological mother. Little did she know that Fenton, improv director, would lead her to her biggest clue. 

I really enjoyed Paulina’s stream of consciousness in her narration which is actually a rare for me since I hate first person point of views however the same cannot be said for Perdita’s. I suspect this is due to the authors attempt to draw contrast between 1997 vs 2014, this attempt fell short for me. It may be accurate, I’m not sure 2014 was 7 years ago but it did manage to make the book awkward for me. Honestly I don’t know why the author didn’t just make Perdita a college student, I could definitely imagine myself being more comfortable with a more mature version of her.(I have no idea if this was to keep up with the 1997 age of her biological mother or if it has anything to do with Shakespeare, I suspect the former which does make sense but still perhaps a more mature mind would’ve been more settling) 

The second half of this book could’ve used a bit more length to be honest. I didn’t feel any chemistry between Fenton and Perdita which could be attributed to the pacing of this short second half. Also I felt like this situation could’ve been more strung out! More buildup to the actual reveal. I did like the ending but again, more buildup would’ve been amazing! . Unless this was intentional to match the pacing of a Shakespeare play which again, not much of a Shakespeare fan so I wouldn’t know.

So I guess my only real and logical complaint is wasted potential.

4 stars! But mostly for the first half, I did not enjoy the second half as much as I did the first. 

Do I recommend? Sure! This is an okay read. 

Thank you NetGalley for the arc in return for the honest review!
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The first half of the book focused on Paulina and her friend's struggles as her pregnancy developed, and the second half was about Perdita, the child from the pregnancy, now living with her two adopted mothers and embarking on a journey to find out about her birth parents.
This book had little insights or perfect phrases and moments that hit the heart.
I liked the split perspective, over different time periods, but I wish I could have spent more time with both characters.
It has a healthy dose of sad things happening. The last half has a great deal of mystery, as you watch from Perdita's eyes as she finds out the ending of the first half of the book which changed her life,
The final ending tied everything up nicely,
All the characters were described vividly and felt real.
The plot was well-paced; you got to know the characters and setting while it developed.
Overall,, a great book.
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