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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Titanic: Voices From The Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
Jan 30th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featuredFlashback Friday is a meme started by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare. For more information and to add your posts, check out Fiction Fare.

Titanic: Voices From The Disaster12479015

by Deborah Hopkinson

Hardcover, 289 pages

Published: April 1, 2012

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Buy it here: IndieBound | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

To connect with Deborah Hopkinson:

Website | Twitter

 

Literary awards:

From Goodreads:

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster is a 2013 Sibert Honor book and a 2013 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist.

Critically acclaimed nonfiction author Deborah Hopkinson pieces together the story of the TITANIC and that fateful April night, drawing on the voices of survivors and archival photographs.

Scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the TITANIC, a topic that continues to haunt and thrill readers to this day, this book by critically acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the voices and stories of real TITANIC survivors and witnesses to the disaster — from the stewardess Violet Jessop to Captain Arthur Rostron of the CARPATHIA, who came to the rescue of the sinking ship. Packed with heartstopping action, devastating drama, fascinating historical details, loads of archival photographs on almost every page, and quotes from primary sources, this gripping story, which follows the TITANIC and its passengers from the ship’s celebrated launch at Belfast to her cataclysmic icy end, is sure to thrill and move readers.

My Review:

Titanic: Voices From the DisasterTitanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

This is an outstanding non-fiction book filled with first-person accounts and records from the sinking of the Titanic. It follows a number of people including first, second, and third class individuals and staff through a chronological order of events. Some of those people are young adults and it’s refreshing to hear their point-of-view. The book has numerous documents including a menu, photos, launch information, letters, facts and figures, and information on the Carpathia, the ship that came to rescue the Titanic. It seems well researched, documented, and thorough in its account and easy to read. I learned a lot of new information from this book. Though I would hardly say I’m an expert on the Titanic, I certainly have read other books and enjoyed seeing some documentaries. This book definitely adds new information to what’s already out there. I believe this is an outstanding book to include in libraries and schools and for Titanic history buffs. Definitely recommend!

View all my reviews

Morris Finalist Blog Tour: Review – THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslye Walton
Jan 29th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

The 2015 finalists for the YALSA William C Morris Debut Award:

  • “The Carnival at Bray” written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books (http://www.elephantrockbooks.com/). In 1993, the grunge movement is at its height and Maggie Lynch is living comfortably in Chicago, near Nanny Ei and Uncle Kevin, her musical guru. After her impulsive mother marries and moves the family to a tiny Irish village, Maggie struggles to adjust to the changing world around her.
  • “The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim” written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group (https://www.lernerbooks.com/carolrhodalab/). Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat.
  • “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press (www.cincopuntos.com). Aspiring poet Gabi Hernandez is having a complicated senior year: One of her best friends is pregnant, and the other just came out. Even as her mother worries that she will become a “bad” girl, Gabi adds romance and the quest for college to her already full plate.
  • “The Scar Boys” written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing (http://egmontusa.com/). In a college admission essay, Harry Jones reveals the physical and psychological scars of his childhood and the solace and self-confidence he found in friendship and punk music.
  • “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press (http://www.candlewick.com/). Born with a pair of wings, sixteen-year-old Ava Lavender inherits a rich family history and a legacy of heartbreak. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel, can Ava survive his obsession intact?

 

THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER18166936

by Leslye Walton

Published by Candlewick

Buy it here: Audible | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect wit the author: Goodreads | Twitter | Website

 

From Goodreads:

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

My review:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenderThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is magical realism, one of perhaps two I have read in a list of over 600 books since 2010. In other words, I haven’t read a lot of novels in this genre. It was strange and different and enthralling. I definitely was pulled into the story of Ava Lavender, a winged girl born to a “odd” family. Walton does a great job giving readers a family history, filled with wondrous occurrences and plagued with sadness.

There are many metaphors and life lessons to be extracted from this novel. One of which is to accept or embrace your uniqueness. Love and the perils of love is another theme—choose wisely to whom you give your heart.

Highlights:
Ava’s family history and ghosts.
Henry, Ava’s non-winged twin.
The bakery.
Gabe!
Rowe!

I deeply appreciated the opportunity to suspend logic and go for this ride in magical realism. Ava was a remarkable character and I was able to visualize what she would have looked like with her useless wings. The bakery scenes with the textures and scents had me drooling. What an imagination Leslye Walton has! The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a wonderful challenge for readers who want something different, something out of the ordinary. Mythical, magical, wondrous, unique.

Thank you so much, Candlewick, for the ARC!

View all my reviews

Morris Finalist Blog Tour: Review of THE SCAR BOYS by Len Vlahos
Jan 27th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

The 2015 finalists for the YALSA William C Morris Debut Award:

  • “The Carnival at Bray” written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books (http://www.elephantrockbooks.com/). In 1993, the grunge movement is at its height and Maggie Lynch is living comfortably in Chicago, near Nanny Ei and Uncle Kevin, her musical guru. After her impulsive mother marries and moves the family to a tiny Irish village, Maggie struggles to adjust to the changing world around her.
  • “The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim” written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group (https://www.lernerbooks.com/carolrhodalab/). Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat.
  • “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press (www.cincopuntos.com). Aspiring poet Gabi Hernandez is having a complicated senior year: One of her best friends is pregnant, and the other just came out. Even as her mother worries that she will become a “bad” girl, Gabi adds romance and the quest for college to her already full plate.
  • “The Scar Boys” written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing (http://egmontusa.com/). In a college admission essay, Harry Jones reveals the physical and psychological scars of his childhood and the solace and self-confidence he found in friendship and punk music.
  • “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press (http://www.candlewick.com/). Born with a pair of wings, sixteen-year-old Ava Lavender inherits a rich family history and a legacy of heartbreak. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel, can Ava survive his obsession intact?

My review of THE SCAR BOYS12769538

by Len Vlahos

Published by Egmont USA

Buy it here: Audible | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

Connect with Len Vlahos: Goodreads | Twitter | Website 

From Goodreads:

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock ‘n’ roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world…even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay–help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores–Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality.

The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry’s description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he’s looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.

My review:

The Scar BoysThe Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

The Scar Boys.

I find myself fumbling for words, struggling to put my thoughts together.

But I’ll try.

Through a super-long college essay – from 250 words to the length of a novel, readers will discover the life-changing event that altered Harry’s life FOREVER! Thanks to some horrible, horrible bullies.

This one act changes Harry’s life forever, and it doesn’t get better until he becomes a member of a band, The Scar Boys, aptly named because of all the scars he carries.

Throughout the novel, readers receive the narrative of the most impactful moments that shaped Harry’s psyche. Some will leave you gasping, cringing, hurting. Others will make you smile, cheer for Harry.

This novel has impact. It will leave you shaking your head, cheering, hoping for a broken soul and a broken body to heal. It leaves you thinking about people who have walked in shoes similar to Harry’s, whatever their physical challenges. It makes you think about the healing power of music, the importance of finding your passion, the basic need that everyone has to be loved, cherished, and how those that should love us, sometimes don’t in the way that’s needed.

The Scar Boys will leave a long-lasting imprint on my mind and in my heart. I have no doubt, I’ll be thinking about these characters and recommending this novel to others.

Bravo to Len Vlahos!

View all my reviews

LOVE, LUCY by April Lindner, Release Day Book Blast and Giveaway
Jan 26th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

I absolutely ❤️❤️❤️’d LOVE, LUCY by April Lindner. Here’s my review as posted on Goodreads:

Love, LucyLove, Lucy by April Lindner

I absolutely loved this adaptation of E.M. Forster’s A ROOM WITH A VIEW.

April Lindner has readers traveling all around Italy with Lucy Sommersworth. When she’s in Florence, she meets Jesse Palladino, a street musician, who shows Lucy the wonderful sights of Florence and encourages her to follow her own dreams to be in musicals, instead of getting a business degree as she promised her parents. As the relationship between these two grows, it gets harder and harder for Lucy to let Jesse go. But he has his own plans, and they’re not back in the United States. Lucy has college and a promise to fulfill to her parents, since they paid for this trip to Italy as a bargaining chip to get her to agree to pursue business.

What I loved about this novel:

1. Italy. I’ve been to many of these places, so it brought back such great memories. If you haven’t been, you’ll want to go after reading this book.
2. The characters are relatable and face interesting dilemmas.
3. Parent issues.
4. Jesse is definitely swoon-worthy!
5. Lucy facing her fears.
6. I was already a huge fan of A ROOM WITH A VIEW. This adaptation was fantastic.

Even if you haven’t read A ROOM WITH A VIEW, readers will appreciate Italy, summer romance, the deep connection between Jesse and Lucy, her struggles with her family. I highly recommend this novel for those who enjoy YA contemporary.

Huge thanks to Little Brown for the ARC.



View all my reviews

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful new book by Author April Linder, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blast also includes a giveaway for a copy of the book courtesy of Rockstar Book Tours and 3 signed JANE posters courtesy of the author. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


About LOVE, LUCY

Title: LOVE, LUCY

Author: April Lindner

Release date: January 27, 2015

Publisher: Poppy

Pages: 304

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Description:

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Find it: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS


About April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, releasing January 27, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.

 


The Guest Post

SOME RULES OF THE ROAD

Like Lucy Sommersworth, the heroine of Love, Lucy, my parents gave me the gift of a lifetime: a backpacking trip to Europe. I was a bit older than Lucy—22, and just out of
college—but when I arrived in Milan, Italy with a Eurail pass, a copy of Let’s Go: Europe, and a seventy-pound backpack I could barely lift, I was a wee bit terrified. Like Lucy, I spoke only a little bit of Italian, just barely enough to get by, and I wasn’t particularly good at
reading maps or train schedules. Unlike Lucy, I was travelling solo.

Luckily, my journey began with training wheels. I’d just taken a college Italian class, and my professor had offered a safe crash pad for the first few days of my trip—in
her family home in the Alps. Less luckily, when I reached Malpensa airport, nobody was there to pick me up. Giddy with excitement and jet lag, I wandered around the airport, eavesdropping on Italians as they hugged each other hello and goodbye, and had noisy arguments. I’d never felt more alone in
my life. Where would I sleep that night if my ride didn’t show up?

Luckily, my professor’s brother arrived at last to whisk me away to the family home in Domodossola. The extended family welcomed and fed me, gave me tours of their city
with its charming medieval center, helped me practice my Italian, and, when the time was right, brought me to the train station where my solo travels began for
real. It was time to take off the training wheels.

If I’d felt alone back in the airport, I was even more so on that train to Verona, a city where I didn’t know a soul. In those pre-internet days, I could disappear
into thin air and nobody would even notice I was gone. The thought was chilling, but oddly exciting.

By nightfall, I’d made it to Verona. I’d figured out the public transportation, found a youth hostel, and booked myself a bed. Best of all, I had introduced myself to a handful of other backpackers. We hung out together in the hostel’s common area, sharing bread and cheese, exchanging stories, discussing the rules of the road—those bits of practical wisdom our travels were teaching us. Here are a few.

Time passes differently on the road.  Spend a few very intense hours seeing the sites with strangers and by the end of the day, those strangers have become a part of your story. Years later you’ll see their faces in your photo album and still remember stray details of the adventures you shared together, even if you can’t quite recall their names.

Spontaneity is key.  There are few things as magical as showing up at a train station with no idea where you’re headed next, picking a random
train, and hopping on.

Janis Joplin said it best: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.  When you’re carrying all your possessions on
your back in a city where you don’t know a soul, you’re absolutely free. You can go anywhere, do anything. That freedom has its lonely moments—but it
can be the doorway to all kinds of adventures.

Embrace misadventure.  As carefully as you plan there will be crazy mistakes: wrong turns, slept-through train stops, multilingual misunderstandings, and all kinds of other blunders—and these will make the best stories. My misadventures are some of my favorite memories. The time I missed curfew and had to climb into my hostel through a second-story window. The morning when, hanging out my recently washed clothes to dry, I dropped my wet underthings out the window, onto a
stranger’s head. The night when, with no room to stay in, I slept on Venice’s train station steps with about a hundred other backpackers, the stars above us and the Grand Canal stretched out before us.

Would I trade that last memory for a safe, comfy night in an actual bed?  Not on your life.


The Giveaway

There is a blast-wide giveaway, ending February 6th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, for:

  • 1 copy of LOVE, LUCY to be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository – Int’l
  • 3 JANE posters (signed) – US only

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Flashback Friday: THE KARMA CLUB by Jessica Brody
Jan 23rd, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featured

Flashback Friday is a meme started by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare. For more information and to add your posts, check out Fiction Fare.

THE KARMA CLUB6584019

by Jessica Brody

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published April 27, 2010

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Buy it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Jessica Brody: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Facebook

From Goodreads:

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. Do good things and you’ll be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what you deserve.

But when Maddy’s boyfriend  cheats on her, nothing bad comes his way. That’s why Maddy  starts the Karma Club,  to clean up the messes that the universe has left behind. Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe.

It turns out Karma often has plans of its own.

My Review:

The Karma ClubThe Karma Club by Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody’s first YA novel, The Karma Club, is absolutely terrific. She wove a tale about Mason Brooks, a girl who is cruelly dumped by her boyfriend of two years. Her two best friends also have been dumped by their heartless boyfriends. When Mason learns about the power of karma––what comes around goes around–– she realizes that the girls need to take action and rebalance the universe by getting revenge on their boyfriends. The Karma Club is formed and the girls dish out some pretty harsh punishment. But karma isn’t meant to be messed with and events ricochet back in unforeseen ways leaving Mason desperate to rebalance life once again. There’s a powerful lesson here – to take control of your life by doing acts of kindness. In the end, kindness is much sweeter than revenge and causing others pain in order to deal with your own pain isn’t payback at all, even if the person deserves it.
The Karma Club really made me think about the numerous social situations YA face every day – bullying, backstabbing, cheating etc. It’s incredibly tempting to retaliate. But I can’t think of one instance where retaliation had positive results. YA need to seek support and assistance. Not retaliating doesn’t mean not taking action. The Karma Club shows the value of navigating through the difficulties often faced in high school by finding positive means to channel ones’ energy.
I highly recommend The Karma Club and Jessica Brody’s second YA novel My Life Undecided!

View all my reviews

Flashback Friday: FALLING FOR YOU by Lisa Schroeder
Jan 16th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featured

Flashback Friday is a meme started by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare. For more information and to add your posts, check out Fiction Fare.

FALLING FOR YOU13553217

by Lisa Schroeder

Hardcover, 355 pages

Published: January 1, 2013

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Buy it here: IndieBound | Book Depository | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Lisa Schroeder: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

From Goodreads:

Rae’s always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her…and the less she wants to give.

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous.

Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.

About Lisa Schroeder:588558

Lisa Schroeder is the author of more than a dozen books for kids and teens. Her latest young adult novel is THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, and the latest series for 8-12 year olds is called CHARMED LIFE. She lives in Oregon where she spends her time reading, writing, baking yummy treats, and hiking with her family.

My Review:

Falling For YouFalling For You by Lisa Schroeder

There isn’t anything that Lisa Schroeder writes that I wouldn’t recommend, and that includes her latest novel Falling For You. It deals with some very tough issues of a neglectful mother, an abusive stepdad, an obsessive, emotionally unstable boyfriend. Rae, the daughter/stepdaughter/girlfriend, tries to navigate through the troubles dumped on her. She utilizes her inner strength to survive and is a strong, likable, and relatable character.

Here are some things that I really liked about her: She doesn’t allow her peers to push her around, she has self-esteem despite the hell she lives through, she’s creative with spending money, works hard, befriends some really cool characters, including a single mother and an old lady, and records her feelings in a poetry journal. There’s an awesome English teacher to appreciate. Rae works at a flower shop with great people and a lovable dog. Rae makes her own “family,” which is very cool since many young adults have to do the same thing because parents aren’t always around emotionally or physically. Readers will fall in love with Leo, a boy who is homeschooled and is a true friend to Rae.

The story moves quickly and readers will be sucked into the Rae’s life, cheering for her to stay strong and survive.

Yup, I’m definitely a Lisa Schroeder fan. Read ALL her books.

View all my reviews

Cover Reveal: THE INFINITE by Lori M. Lee, sequel to GATES OF THREAD AND STONE
Jan 12th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

REVEAL . . . The Gorgeous Cover:

THE INFINITE (Sequel to GATES OF THREAD AND STONE)

by Lori M. Lee

Pub date: March 10, 2015

Publisher:  Skyscape

It has a magical feel . . . .

 

I love the glowing red eyes . . .

 

The strong female character . . .

 

And now . . .

 

HERE IT IS!

TheInfinite_med

Links:

Add TBR: Goodreads

Buy it here: IndieBoundAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Brilliance Audio

To connect with Lori M. Lee:

Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK:

The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

About Lori M. Lee:lori-final-lowres-002-300x199

Lori was born in the mountains of Laos where her family relocated to a Thailand refugee camp for a few years and then moved permanently to the United States when she was three. She can’t remember any of it, and uses this excuse to insist she was raised by invisible flying unicorns. Like thestrals but less morbid.

She’s been writing since the third grade although quality has hopefully improved. Her first novel was a Mary Sue fantasy romance she wrote when she was a preteen. It contained many things preteens probably should not have been writing about. She blames her older sisters.

Other (random or otherwise) things about Lori:

• She doesn’t know her real birth date. Her legal one was given to her in the refugee camp. Apparently, the mountain villages don’t keep birth records. This means she is allowed to lie about her age. *cheers*

• She has two older sisters who embody the words fierce and fabulous.

• She is married to a social worker who fancies himself a comedian. She has no idea how this happened.

• She has a degree in Creative Writing.

• She loves unicorns. In the Zombies vs. Unicorns debate, unicorns obviously prevail.

• Her favorite category to read and write is Young Adult. Some might tell you it’s because she is mentally ten, but do not listen to them. Ten is obviously Middle Grade. If anything, she’s mentally fifteen.

• She has dreamed about being an author since she was eight.

Gates of Thread and Stone is her debut novel and is available now from Skyscape.

Review and Giveaway: SAVING GRACE by Jane Green
Jan 11th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

Review and Giveaway:21853667

SAVING GRACE by Jane Green

Hardcover, 352 pages

Pub. Date: December 30, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Buy it here: IndieBound | Audible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect with Jane Green: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

“Green spins a dark romance, recalling All About Eve, where intimacy masks betrayal.”

Kirkus Reviews“Green tackles serious issues such as emotional abuse and over-prescribing of drugs while

still managing to keep the pages turning at a rapid rate.”
Booklist
“Fans of Green get everything they have come to expect and love in this
psychological domestic drama: it’s fast paced and emotionally satisfying.”
Library Journal 

ABOUT SAVING GRACE

From the number one bestselling author of Tempting Fate and The Beach House comes Jane Green’s stunning new novel about a shattered marriage and a devastating betrayalA perfect stranger wants her perfect life.

Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted, in a picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York State.

Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth quickly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel sidelined in her home–and her marriage–by this ambitious younger woman.

Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought?

Filled with Jane’s own recipes–she trained as a chef at the French Culinary Institute–SAVING GRACE also explores the misdiagnosis of mental illnesses, and the dangers of handing out drugs which are supposed to cure, but end up causing more harm.

ABOUT JANE GREEN

Jane Green’s sixteenth novel, Saving Grace, will be published on December 30th, 2014; she is the author of fifteen previous New York Times bestselling novels. Initially known for writing about single thirty-somethings, she has gone on to write mature stories about real women dealing with all the things life throws at them, with her trademark wisdom, wit and warmth.A former feature writer for the Daily Express in the UK, Green took a leap in faith when she left, in 1996, to freelance and work on a novel. Seven months later, there was a bidding war for her first book, Straight Talking, the saga of a single career girl looking for the right man. The novel was an immediate top-ten bestseller in England, and Green was an overnight success.

Now in her forties, Green has graduated to more complex, character-driven novels that explore the concerns of real women’s lives, from marriage (The Other Woman) to motherhood (Another Piece of My Heart) to divorce, stepchildren, affairs, and most recently, midlife crises (Family Pictures and Tempting Fate).

She joined the ABC News team to write A Modern Fairytale – their first enhanced digital book – about the history of Royal marriages, then joined ABC News Radio as a live correspondent covering Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. She has written a micro-series for Dove starring Alicia Keyes, many short stories, and has contributed to various anthologies, as well as regularly appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart show, and The Today Show.

Together with writing books and blogs, she contributes to various publications, both online and print, including Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, and Self, has taught at writers conferences, and does regular keynote speaking.

A foodie and passionate cook, Green filled one of her books, Promises to Keep, with recipes culled from her own collection. She says she only cooks food that is “incredibly easy, but has to look as if you have slaved over a hot stove for hours.” This is because she has six children, and has realized that “when you have six children, nobody ever invites you anywhere.”

Most weekends see her cooking for a minimum of twenty people in her home in Westport, Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and their blended family. When she is not writing, cooking, gardening, filling her house with friends and herding chickens, she is usually thanking the Lord for caffeine-filled energy drinks.

 My Review:

Saving GraceSaving Grace by Jane Green
Grace leads a wonderful, sheltered life with her best selling author husband Ted Chapman. He’s a bit of a handful, but his assistant makes all the difference in smoothing out the rough edges of his life and keeping everything on track. When she leaves for family reasons, Beth steps into the scene.

Everything about Beth seems like a perfect match. She changes Grace’s life for the better and is a fabulous assistant to Ted. Until Grace realizes that what Beth really wants is Grace’s life.

SAVING GRACE will keep readers on their toes. You never know what Beth is going to do next on her quest to take over Grace’s life. Grace has a fight on her hands, and it’s for her sanity.

I love how things turn out for Grace. I have nothing but pity and distain for the weak Ted. This is done so perfectly!

Oh and Beth. Pure evil. A conniving, manipulative, deranged woman, who destroys lives. Very much reminded me of similarities to the movie Fatal Attraction. Anyone who has seen it, knows it’s unforgettable. This novel has the same type of impact.

I love Grace’s family history. I love Grace’s adopted family back in England. I love the choices she makes with them. I love Grace’s daughter. I love Grace’s quiet strength.

The book ending is really great.

Final verdict: If you want a psychological thriller that’s a captivating read and a mind-bender with fascinating characters, then I definitely recommend SAVING GRACE.

View all my reviews

Giveaway: (US Only) One copy of Saving Grace

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Flashback Friday: PERSONAL EFFECTS by E.M Kokie
Jan 9th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featuredFlashback Friday is a meme created by Jaime and Erin of Fiction Fare and Meg and Kassiah of Swoony Boys Podcast. For more info, click here: Flashback Friday

PERSONAL EFFECTS9372419

by E.M. Okie

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published September 11, 2012

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Buy here: IndieBoundAudible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect with the author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

From Goodreads:

After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.

My review:

It’s been over two years since this novel came out, but looking over my list of books I’ve read on Goodreads, this one still stands out. It was powerful, chocked with tons of emotion, heart, pain, truths. Anything that can have that kind of staying power more than deserves to be highlighted!

Personal EffectsPersonal Effects by E.M. Kokie

I read Personal Effects a week ago, and I am still stunned by it. WARNING – Do NOT read the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS first, which is something I always do. It reveals a strong clue of what happens in this novel, and I think it will be a MUCH bigger surprise if you wait. There also is a lot of strong language.

Personal Effects is a YA novel about seventeen-year-old Matt Foster who’s living with in the aftermath of his brother T.J.’s death. He’s an extremely angry young man with an abusive father who forbids Matt from looking at his brother’s personal effects. Of course, he does, and that leads Matt on a journey of discovery and a road trip to find out more about his brother. This is a powerful, gritty novel with a lot of emotion, angst. Readers will deeply appreciate Shauna for her loyalty to Matt. Despite all the hell that Matt goes through, readers will notice his personal growth. He could easily have followed in his father’s footsteps – he definitely is encouraged to do so – but in the end, he decides he wants to be so much more. There’s a lot of pain in this novel. It’s insightful and eye-opening. Definitely recommend this first-person narrative if you are interested in novels about what happens to families after a loved one is killed while serving our country.

View all my reviews

Waiting on Wednesday: EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone
Jan 7th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday: (A meme started by Breaking the Spine)

EVERY LAST WORD23341894

by Tamara Ireland Stone

Hardcover, 368 pages

Pub. date: June 16, 2015

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Add to your Goodreads list

Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect with Tamara: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Facebook

 

From Goodreads: 

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Why am I excited for this?

Cover: No, this isn’t the reason why I’m excited for this novel, but I do think it’s really cool!

I am a huge fan of Tamara’s. Loved her YA novels Time Between Us and the sequel, Time After TimeShe writes strong, memorable characters, and from the description above, I have no doubt that Samantha is going to be another one of those characters. Read Tamara’s books, and I have no doubt you’ll be swept into the story.

I talked with Tamara while this was a WIP (work in progress) and she was so excited about it. I know Samantha was inspired by a teen Tamara knows, and what better way to infuse authenticity? There’s romance too, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Poet’s corner? How exciting is that. I know I’ll love this aspect of the novel.

OCD: What an important topic to show in a YA novel! Knowing Tamara, it’s going to be handled with compassion, authenticity. So important.

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