Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Blitz: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill @oneillo @quercusbooks @NereydaG1003 #YABOUNDBOOKTOURS #Giveaway

Only Ever Yours
Release Date: 05/12/15
398 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O'Neill's world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called "eves") are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends.

Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions--wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives--life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)--are too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty--her only asset--in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future--even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

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Advanced Praise for Only Ever Yours

"Terrifying and heartbreaking, O'Neill's story reads like an heir to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and M.T. Anderson's Feed, and, like those books, it's sure to be discussed for years to come."
-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A dark dream. A vivid nightmare. The world O'Neill imagines is frightening because it could come true. She writes with a scalpel."
-Jeanette Winterson

"An ingenious exploration of gender roles, female identity, and female competition."

"Unbelievably believable, compelling, utterly riveting... Whilst it is dark, uncompromising and utterly daunting to read as a woman, it is and should be a classic in the making."
-Liz Loves Books


Isabel at Breakfast
Only Ever Yours
Louise O'Neill

"What an extraordinary outfit, freida," megan says, her gaze traveling from the crown of my head to my toes as I fight the urge to adjust my clothes, to cut off my hair, to ask if I can apply for a complete redesign.

"Um, thanks. I like your outfit too! Black suits you!"

"It's navy." She arches an eyebrow at my enthusiasm and the tips of my ears start to burn.

"Do you want to sit with us?" liz and jessie chorus, wearing matching turquoise bustier dresses today, the chunky metal straps cutting into their shoulders, their hair set in loose waves.

"I'd love to, but I told isabel I'd eat with her." The twins lose interest at once, drawing circles in blueberry- speckled porridge with their spoons. "But maybe we can both join you?"

"isabel?" megan says slowly, cocking her head to one side. She's even more gorgeous up close, her dark looks accentuated by the bland prettiness of the twins.

"Yes. isabel," I repeat myself, swallowing twice in case excess saliva is making me slur. "Isn't that isabel at the Fatgirl buffet?"

And it is. Dressed in a loose black tank over gray leg- gings, she is the only one there, steam from the hot bar curling around her face, obscuring her features. Seemingly oblivious to the girls in the BeBetter line openly point- ing at her, she loads her plate with fried chick-chick and noodles, white bread rolls, soup, and pasta.

She dispenses a hot chocco from the silver beverage tap and covers it with mounds of whipped kream, sprinkling chocco flakes gen- erously over the top until she's buckling under the weight of her laden tray. I turn away, knowing that she will return to chastity-anne's desk to pick up a portion of ipecac syrup, and I don't want to see it. I sit down at once, banging my tray on the mirrored desktop.

"I can't believe she's eating Fatgirl food again. Who eats from the buffet? Everyone knows it's only there to tempt the weak." megan doesn't bother to lower her voice. Unlike the rest of us, she's not afraid of being overheard.

"She's sitting right by the Vomitorium. It must smell so bad," jessie says, craning her neck for a better view.

"It would put me off my food." liz shudders, pushing her bowl away.

"It would take more than that to put isabel off," jessie snickers as I lift the lid off my breakfast, finding a glass full of a lurid pink liquid underneath.

"I don't know why she is even bothering to use ipe- cac," megan says. "It's not working. She must have gained at least twenty pounds." She stares at me intently. "What do you think, freida? How much weight has she gained?" She reaches out to touch my hand and I want to pull away. If I pull away, will she be insulted? "It must be so difficult for you, freida, watching a friend degrade her- self like that. I mean, she's eating pasta." She grimaces. "Has she said anything to you? What was her weigh-in like today? She wasn't in gym so she must be on probation, right?"

I wish she would tell me what she wants to hear. I'll say it. I'll say whatever she wants if she'll just stop. I drop my gaze, pretending to fix my hair in the desk before stirring the strawberrie SlimShake with my straw.

"Maybe you could give her some dietary advice, freida. She clearly needs help. That's what friends are for, right?" megan continues sweetly.

"Yeah," jessie says. "If anyone needed to try some Slim- Shakes, it's that fat bitch. Am I right, girls?" She cackles, her voice corroding my will to live.

"But what do you think, freida?"

There's an ugly silence. I meet megan's eyes and see the challenge there. She's drawing a line in the sand and it's my decision which side I want to be on.

"I guess you're right," I answer, the betrayal tasting like bile in my mouth, and she smiles at me.

"I should be more understanding," she sighs. "I have such a fast metabolism I actually struggle to maintain regulation weight."

I look at the barely touched eggies on her tray. For someone who struggles to maintain weight, she certainly has an aversion to eating full portions. She and the twins start to fotogram their food, bickering about cassie and carrie's latest adventures on Chilling with the Carmichaels as they upload the fotos. I rack my brain for something witty to say, something that will make them think that I'm interesting and funny, that will make them want to invite me to sit with them again but my brain is frozen, as if I've gulped down an iced slushee too quickly. I'm itching to find isabel's reflection in the wall beside me. I want to make sure that she's okay, that she's not going back for second helpings and thirds and more.

I throw the meds into my mouth and take a sip of Slim- Shake to force them along. They slip down my throat, falling into this black hole inside me. I know they're making me better. Even if they taste of emptiness. Even if they taste of my weakness.

Guest Post:


There are two questions that everyone asks, when they hear that I'm an author.

1. "Where do your ideas come from?
This seems to imply that I'm either stealing my ideas from other people (I'm not. I promise) or that I'm likely to run out of ideas in the near future. Both options are terrifying and haunt my dreams now.

2. Did you always dream of being a writer?
The second question is easier to answer without breaking out in a cold sweat. No, I didn't always want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress although there was a brief period where I thought I might become a nun much to the delight of my grandparents. The joys of a Catholic childhood. While I didn't harbour any ambitions to become an author, I always wrote. I kept journals from the age of eight, I wrote short stories and incredibly bad poetry as a teenager. Writing was my way of making sense of the world. Sometimes, I have to sit and start to write before I can begin to understand how I feel about something in my life. My opinion is formed through my pen.

I studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin and it was here, walking on the same cobblestones as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett did before me, that I decided I would try to make words, beautiful words, my career.

Life is not always so simple.

At 25, I started working as a fashion intern for the Senior Style Director at ELLE magazine in New York. There are no The Devil Wears Prada type stories - she was lovely and kind and supportive. Yet I wasn't happy. Faced constantly with fashion's obsession with extreme thinness, the anorexia that I had battled as a teenager re-surfaced and I relapsed.

It was January 2011. I was sitting in a Starbucks in Brooklyn, waiting for the Q Train to start running again. I was reading a trashy gossip magazine, poring over photos of celebrities with 'circles of shame' drawn around their cellulite, stomach rolls, sweat patches. There is a woman sitting near me who is eating a muffin and I am fascinated by her. How can she eat that muffin and seem so carefree? Why is she not having an existential crisis over the calories that are in that muffin?

I was hungry. I wanted a muffin. But I thought if I ate a muffin, I would get fat. If I ate a muffin, I would have failed.

Suddenly, a vision flared in my mind. It was bold, bright, beautiful. It was a young girl, standing in her bikini in front of a classroom while an older woman with a bald head was standing in front of her. The older woman had a red marker in her hand and she was drawing circles around the young girl's 'fat areas' while the rest of the classroom chanted FAT. FAT. FAT. I grabbed my notebook and I started writing.

A world in which girls are bred for their beauty.

Why? Because women are no longer able to bear daughters. Their wombs will only accept a male fetus.

I sat in that coffee shop for two hours, scribbling pages and pages of notes but it wasn't until March 2012, when I had returned home to Ireland, that I started to write what would eventually become Only Ever Yours.

I began sending it to literary agents in November 2012 and the reaction was instantaneous. Within a week, agents wanted to see the full manuscript. I had offers from five agents, some of whom were amongst the most well respected in the world. I had offers from a number of different publishers, finally signing with Quercus in May 2013.

Only Ever Yours was published in Ireland and the UK in July 2014 and my world has been irrevocably altered. While the awards and the rave reviews are gratifying, it is the reaction from readers that has been incredibly humbling. I receive letters and emails almost daily from women who want to share their stories with me and who want to tell me how my book has changed their outlook on life. That people have connected on such a deep emotional level with my work is something that I dreamed of but could barely hope for.

I truly hope that you enjoy Only Ever Yours. You can find me on Twitter @oneilllo to either message me or to read my increasingly inappropriate ramblings!


About the Author:

Louise O' Neill is from Clonakilty, in west Cork. After graduating with a BA in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin, she went on to complete a post-grad in Fashion Buying at DIT. Having spent a year in New York working for Kate Lanphear, the senior Style Director of ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel.

She went from hanging out on set with A-list celebrities to spending most of her days in pyjamas while she writes, and has never been happier.

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