Join the #YAParty, May 29, 2014, 8-11 PM EST – 31! AWESOME PRIZE PACKAGES
May 23rd, 2014 by Liza Wiemer



WHERE: Twitter

WHEN: May 29, 2014, 8-11 PM EST

(Please tweet during those hours!If you won’t be around during that time, I recommend scheduling tweets using TweetDeck. ONLY entries during that time will count!)

WHY: Because space for the BEA YA Author/Blogger Party is very limited and I want everyone to be able to participate.

***Special thanks goes to Andye Eppes of Reading Teen and Hannah McBride of The Irish Banana, YA Author/Blogger Party Organistas Extraordinaire – Please follow them and enter the two special prizes (#24 & #25)!

A HUGE THANK YOU to the publishers and bloggers who provided the prize packages! See each one below.

(You must be 13 years old or older. This post and the prize packages are accurate as of 5-23-14, but are subject to change until the 11:00 PM EST on May 29, 2014. Notification will be done through Twitter. Prizes are not exchangeable. Winners will be notified by June 15, 2015 or sooner. Shipping will be done through the prize donors. You must contact the donor within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.)

What do you need to do?

It’s Simple:

Follow @LizaWiemer on Twitter

Follow the publisher or specific prize donor and tweet (information listed below for each prize)!


From Paper Lantern Lit: An e-copy of each title from The Studio OR an editorial review of 50 pages of a manuscript OR an editorial review of 15 pages of a plot outline.

Tweet: I joined the  and follow  & Liza Wiemer. I hope to win a 50 page manuscript review. 


I joined the  & follow  . Hope to win a 15 page plot outline editorial review. 


I joined the  & follow  . Hope to win an e-copy of each title from The Studio. 


PRIZE #2: (USA Only)NOVL-Logo-tagline-12-12-12 copy

From Little Brown @TheNovl

  • Rapture Practice Paperback

  • The Walled City ARC

  • Famous in Love ARC

  • Secrets & Lies Hard Copy

  • Just Call My Name ARC

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @TheNovl & . I hope to win a Little Brown five-book package! Info: 


PRIZE #3: (USA Only)

From Spencer Hill Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary SIX (6) NEW TITLES!

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @SHContemp & . I hope to win a six-book package! 


PRIZE #4: (USA Only)website_logo_clear_670x60

From Strange Chemistry, your choice of five books!

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @StrangeChem & . I hope to win five SC books, my choice! 


PRIZE #5: (USA Only)1b69a6d8a3b2f8183c33bb5ff595df76_400x400

From Books of Wonder a signed copy of DOROTHY MUST DIE

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @BooksofWonder & . I hope to win a five SC books, my choice! 


PRIZE #6 & #7: (USA Only)

BraceletFrom Bookish Delites, bookish bracelets made by Kassiah Faul.

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @SwoonyBoys & . I hope to win one of two bookish bracelets! 


PRIZE #8 & #9: (USA Only)

From Fic Fare, YA Signed ContemporaryIMG_6158 Book Package! (Better Off Friends, Ask Again Later, My Life with the Walter Boys)

IMG_1771. . . YA Signed Dystopian/Alternate Future Book Package! (Plus One, Control, In the After)

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @ErinLee20 of Fic Fare & . I hope to win YA Contemporary Book Package! 

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @ErinLee20 of Fic Fare & . I hope to win YA Dystopian Book Package! 

PRIZE #10 – #26 (USA Only)

From Wicked Bookcraft, (17 winners) A handcrafted bookmarkbookmark 2 (like the one pictured, various book themes, including Harry Potter & Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!)

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @WickedBookcraft of Reading Teen & . I hope to win a handcrafted bookmark! 

PRIZE #27 (USA Only)

From the YA Party, a signed “We Love YA” Board from our YA authors – at least twenty-five signatures!

Tweet: I joined the  & follow @ReadingTeen @Irish_Banana. I hope to win a signed “We Love YA” Board from YA authors!  Tote Bag

PRIZE #28 (USA Only)

From the YA Party, a tote bag filled with books/ARCs/Swag from the event.

Tweet:  I joined the  & follow  @Irish_Banana. I hope to win a tote bag filled with YA books/ARCs/Swag! 



From Danny at Betwitched Bookworms, a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Tweet:  I joined the  & follow @Danny_Bookworm & Liza Wiemer. I hope to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card! 


PRIZE #30 (USA Only)

From Harlequin Teen:

  • Pawn by Aimee Carter

  • The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

  • Dare You To by Katie McGarry

  • Inside by Maria V Snyder

Tweet:  I joined the  & follow @HarlequinTEEN & Liza Wiemer. I hope to win four Harlequin Teen YA novels! 

PRIZE #31 (USA Only)

From author MG Buehrlen (THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE) andYABooksCentral.com 

Tweet: I joined the #YAParty & follow @yabookscentral @mgbuehrlen & Liza Wiemer to win a YABC tote w $100 of books! 


Thank you for joining us! We hope you had fun. Good luck! Winners will be notified by June 15, 2014 or sooner.


Flashback Friday: LEAVING PARADISE and RETURN TO PARADISE by Simone Elkeles
May 23rd, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


For more information on the MEME, check out Fic Fare’s post: http://fictionfare.blogspot.com/2014/05/flashback-friday-may-23-2014.html

LEAVING PARADISE by Simone Elkeles

Published by Flux

Pub Date: April 8, 2007

Buy the book: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

544424From Goodreads:

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled.

After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as “criminal” and “freak.” Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.


My Review: 

Simone Elkeles writes some fascinating characters, and this book is no exception. The characters in LEAVING PARADISE have depth. Emotions run high, and the story draws you in. I appreciate the surprises and contrasts of this novel. It’s easy to compare an author’s work, especially in the same genre. Don’t. This is an amazing book to be read with a fresh eye. Don’t compare it to her other works, as I’ve seen in other reviews, which have said it’s not as good as… Instead read this as a stand-alone novel (until the sequel comes out). I am certain you’ll appreciate it on so many different levels. LEAVING PARADISE is an emotional, fast, great read.

I highly recommend reading the sequel, FINDING PARADISE, too! I loved it. A very satisfying end to these books! Love Simone!!!

About Simone Elkeles:

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads


Review: SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes
May 13th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

19802590A modern love story

from Jojo Moyes,

the New York Times

bestselling author of 

Me Before You 


By Jojo Moyes


Jojo Moyes became a household name with her breakaway hit, the New York Times bestselling Me Before You, and The Girl You Left Behind.  SILVER BAY  (Penguin E-book; On-sale April 29, 2014; $9.99; 978-0-69-8156357) now available in the U.S. for the first time, is a surprising and moving romance set in an old-fashioned seaside town on the verge of unwelcome change.

Liza McCullen will never fully escape her past. But the unspoiled beaches and tight-knit community of Silver Bay offer the safety she craves—if not for herself, then for her young daughter, Hannah. That is, until Mike Dormer arrives as a guest in her aunt’s hotel.

The mild-mannered Englishman with his too-smart clothes and distracting eyes could destroy everything Liza has worked so hard to protect: not only the family business and the bay that harbors her beloved whales, but also her conviction that she will never love—never deserve to love—again.

For his part, Mike Dormer is expecting just another business deal—an easy job kick-starting a resort in a small seaside town ripe for development. But he finds that he doesn’t quite know what to make of the eccentric inhabitants of the ramshackle Silver Bay Hotel, especially not enigmatic Liza McCullen, and their claim to the surrounding waters.

As the development begins to take on a momentum of its own, Mike’s and Liza’s worlds collide in this hugely affecting and irresistible tale full of Jojo Moyes’s signature humor and generosity.

My review of SILVER BAY:

Another absolute must read by Jojo Moyes, author of ME BEFORE YOU and many other excellent novels.

From the moment you begin this novel, the multiple characters narrating SILVER BAY will pull you into their story and keep you guessing. They’ll fill your mind with images of Silver Bay, they’ll teach you that people can be transformed, and they’ll make you long for an Australian vacation to watch the magnificent whales and dolphins in the secluded bay with a rundown hotel. You may even be able to get a taste of an ice-cold beer and smell the salty air.

This is so much more than a love story. There are multi-dementions and angles to the story. There are multi-generations that give their perspectives, each one adding their pieces to the whole for a richer, more interesting tale.

I can’t even begin to sing the praises of Jojo Moyes and her incredible storytelling talent. It’s bloody brilliant. Prepare to have a few kleenexes on hand. Prepare to fall in love with Mike and Liza, and Aunt Kathleen and Nino, and even the dog Milly. Most of all, eleven-year-old Hannah will grab ahold of your heart and keep you wondering about her life, not as it is now, but what it will be ten years from now. If you’re like me, you’ll want to think about her and her family and friends and Silver Bay and the future.

There is NOTHING Jojo Moyes writes that I can’t or won’t rave about to anyone who’ll listen. You might as well put all her books on your to-read list, that is, if you haven’t done so already!

About the Author


Jojo Moyes signing at ALA

JOJO MOYES is the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl You Left Behind, Me Before You, and The Last Letter from Your Lover.  Her new novel One Plus One will be published by Pamela Dorman Books / Viking on July 1, 2014. She is also the author of the e-only novella Honeymoon in Paris as well as Silver Bay (Penguin / on-sale: August 26) and The Ship of Brides (Penguin / on-sale: October 28).  Moyes also writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and their three children on a farm in Essex, England.

Praise for Jojo Moyes:

“When I finished [Me Before You], I didn’t want to review it: I wanted to reread it…Moyes’s story provokes tears that are redemptive, the opposite of gratuitous. Some situations, she forces the reader to recognize, really are worth crying over….Moyes’s heroine,  if Lou can be so styled, may not be heroic; her male counterpart may be nobody’s idea of a leading man—and yet with Lou and Will she has created

an affair to remember.”— New York Times Book Review

[Me Before You is] a hilarious, heart-breaking, riveting novel . . . I will stake my reputation on this book.”

—Anne Lamott, People

“There are books that you cannot put down. There are also books where you become so invested in the characters, you force yourself to stop reading to prolong the experience because you don’t want the story to end, and that’s what can happen when you read Jojo Moyes’…ME BEFORE YOU…. Moyes writes well-developed characters, and it’s impossible not to care about them. You’ll find yourself laughing, smiling, feeling angry and, yes, crying.” Associated Press

“We know from Moyes’ previous novel, the bestseller Me Before You, that this is an author worth following…THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND is, well, impossible to leave behind…In this moving paean to daring, determination and perspicacity, Moyes keeps the reader guessing down to the last hankie.”

Los Angeles Times

BLOG TOUR: SUBWAY LOVE by Nora Raleigh Baskin – Soul Mate Post & Giveaway
May 12th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

 BLOG TOUR: SUBWAY LOVE9780763668457

by Nora Raleigh Baskin



Post & Giveaway

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Pub. Date: May 13, 2014


Official synopsis:

What if destiny leads you to your soul mate, but the laws of time conspire to keep you apart?

If her parents had never divorced, Laura wouldn’t have to live in the shadow of Bruce, her mom’s unpredictable boyfriend. Her mom wouldn’t say things like “Be groovy,” and Laura wouldn’t panic every weekend on the way to Dad’s Manhattan apartment. But when Laura spots a boy on a facing platform, lifting a camera to his face, looking right at her, Laura feels anything but afraid, and she can’t forget him. Jonas, meanwhile, thinks nonstop about the pretty hippie girl he glimpsed on the platform — trying to comprehend how she vanished, but mostly wondering whether he will see her again in a city of millions — and whether if he searches, he would have any chance of finding her. In a lyrical meditation on love, Nora Raleigh Baskin explores the soul’s ability to connect, and heal, outside the bounds of time and reason.



By Nora Raleigh Baskin

Beshert is the notion of a “soul mate” in the truest definition. According to Kabalah your soul mate is revealed to you forty days before you are born, in a space that is outside of time and place; in that spiritual moment when all time exists and all knowledge is known to us. That space is not tied to our human understanding of calendar years or our concrete measure of time. It is the moment that all time exists at once and all knowledge is given.

Then, you are born, physically, and unfortunately (or fortunately for perhaps it would be too much for any human to live with such understanding) everything is pretty much forgotten during that traumatic entrance into the world.

The hope is that when you bump into your soul mate on this earth, in this time, in your time, there will be a glimmer of recognition and, of course, true love. How can you be sure?

Well, it is said that when you find your soul mate you will know. Many things have been reported to have happened when a person meets their beshert:

1. Time will stand still.

2. You feel as though you’ve known each other forever.

3. You will have similar views and interests and values.

4. And no matter what the obstacles you will find a way to be together.

But what if, for some reason, you cannot be together? What if something big or something small, something out of your control, prevented you and your soul mate from being together?

For Laura and Jonas in Subway Love, the tragedy of earth-bound time keeps them apart. There was a celestial mix-up that caused their souls to be sent to earth in two different time periods. A pretty big problem, no?

Not really.

It is said, that if this happens, or if for some reason you search your whole life and never find your beshert, you will return in another life – because the soul is destined to be united with its other half, to be whole. One way or another, in this lifetime or the next, you will find each other. It is fated.

That is the story I had to tell. I wanted to write about a love that was so powerful, so clearly meant to be, but at the same time, could never be.

And how would my characters handle that? What would they do when they found their soul mate and knew it immediately, but everything else in their lives prevented them from being together? And if that love was truly beshert, how would it return to be fulfilled?

Teenagers are always being told they don’t know what they are talking about. That their feelings aren’t real. They don’t count. They are too young and too foolish. Too emotional and too dramatic. Just wait till you grow up. Wait till you’re my age, then you’ll understand. Then you’ll change your mind.

But maybe that isn’t the case at all. Maybe in youth is the ability to see things more clearly. To recognize truth in a way that maturity, reason, and logic only clogs up and causes us to doubt.

What then?

Nora’s bio:Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nora Raleigh Baskin is the acclaimed author of several novels for young readers, including Surfacing and All We Know of Love. She lives in Connecticut.

Social Media links:



Twitter – @noraraleighB



My review: 

A very quick read that explores this issue of soul mates, integrating a spiritual perspective that I can relate to. Readers will ride the New York subway during the present with Jonas and concurrently in 1972 with Laura. There, they spend time together, developing a relationship that is timeless. They have bond that goes beyond the physical.

Anyone who is interested in time travel will find this fascinating. Another aspect that I found interesting were the graffiti artists who painted and tagged New York. Nora shares information about this in the Epilogue, where she explains how “in 1984, the New York Transit System started a five-year program to eradicate graffiti.” What do you think? is it art or vandalism?

Key issues discussed in this novel:
Love and soul mates
Physical abuse
Time travel
Art and expression.

It was very cool that Laura and Jonas could only connect on the subway. The moment they stepped out, they were sent to their own times. I really liked the trust and concern that they shared for one another and it was easy to get wrapped up in the trials and tribulations they experienced every day, but then were able to set it aside when they were together.

If anything, this novel will make readers realize that it’s important not to settle for anyone in their life who doesn’t meet the criterial of a beshert, a soul mate. I married mine. I hope everyone finds theirs!


Amazon |Barnes & Noble | IndieBound 

Blog Tour:

Run Date Blog Name URL
5/12/2014 Who R U Blog http://www.whorublog.com/
5/13/2014 Great Imaginations http://www.great-imaginations.com
5/14/2014 Word Spelunking http://www.wordspelunking.blogspot.com
5/15/2014 Once Upon a Twilight http://www.onceuponatwilight.com
5/16/2014 A Leisure Moment http://www.aleisuremoment.com
5/17/2014 Random Chalk Talk http://www.randomchalktalk.blogspot.com
5/18/2014 The Story Siren http://www.thestorysiren.com
5/19/2014 Book Chic Club http://www.bookchicclub.blogspot.com

 GIVEAWAY: Win all of Nora Raleigh Baskin’s books: Subway Love, Surfacing, and All We Know of Love  



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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: #WeNeedDiverseBooks – BLACK AND WHITE by Paul Volponi
May 9th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


For more information on Flashback Friday check out this post: http://fictionfare.blogspot.com/2014/05/flashback-friday-may-9-2014.html

FRIDAY FLASHBACK: #WeNeedDiversity –

BLACK AND WHITE by Paul Volponi

Published November 2, 2006

Publisher: Speak



  • Winner of the IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult Fiction)
  • ALA Best Book Young Adult
  • ALA Quick Pick Top Ten
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
  • Tayshas List (Texas Library Association)

From Goodreads:

Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other’s backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one night—and one wrong decision—will change their lives forever. Will their mistake cost them their friendship . . . and their future? An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

An ALA Quick Pick “Top Ten”

IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult)

My Review:

Volponi, in my opinion, is THE urban YA writer to read. His books should be on every high school reading list. BLACK AND WHITE is one more book by Volponi that depicts the reality facing urban American youth and the justice system. The title refers to his main characters, teammates and best friends who are basketball stars at their high school. Their nicknames are Black and White, which not only represents the color of their skin, but the close connection they have together – one is not without the other. They could be the kids next door, feeling invincible and making choices that will impact them for the rest of their lives. On a deeper level, these characters also represent the racial divide between black and white. This is a gripping, powerful tale reminding us to keep our eyes open to reality, to hold our judgments, and to recognize that injustice prevails, even when two young men are guilty of a crime.

I am a HUGE fan of Paul Volponi! There isn’t a novel of his that I haven’t read. Long before the plea for diversity in YA novels, Paul Volponi was on the scene. If you haven’t read his books, I recommend ALL OF THE TO YOU!

About Paul Volponi:


LADIES’ NIGHT by Mary Kay Andrews – Mega Giveaway Celebration
May 7th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

Celebrating the paperback release of

LADIES’ NIGHT by Mary Kay Andrews

with a


By Mary Kay Andrews

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Paperback Release Date: April 29, 2014


What’s in the fabulous goody bag?

Signed copy of LADIES’ NIGHT in paperback
Set of 3 LADIES’ NIGHT recipe cards
LADIES’ NIGHT drink coasters
Cocktail umbrellas
LADIES’ NIGHT drink cup
Three different Mary Kay Andrews bookmarks
Set of 3 SAVE THE DATE recipe cards
News about a special SAVE THE DATE pre-order gift


Barnes & Noble
Books a Million

A note from Liza:

I’m a huge fan of Mary Kay Andrews and want to encourage everyone to read all her books! They characters are relatable, interesting, and the places you get to see from the page are almost as vivid as if you’re there in person. I recently finished reading an advanced readers’ copy of SAVE THE DATE, which is being published on June 6th. You can access my review on Goodreads! I recommend adding it to your to-reads list and pre-ordering it or reserving it immediately from your local library. It’s another winner!



Take a splash of betrayal, add a few drops of outrage, give a good shake to proper behavior and take a big sip of a cocktail called…Ladies’ Night!Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style. Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly “divorce recovery” therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality. When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday “Ladies’ Night” sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there?Heartache, humor, and a little bit of mystery come together in a story about life’s unpredictable twists and turns. Mary Kay Andrews’ Ladies’ Night will have you raising a glass and cheering these characters on.


“Andrews presents a delightful novel…A wonderful blend of action, repartee and offbeat characters in a just-plain-fun story. Humorous and witty, and as entertaining as a good night out.” —Kirkus Reviews“Her newest novel offers another engaging and satisfying tale of life, loss, and love.” —Booklist“Mary Kay Andrews’ novels have become a summer staple like a new pair of sandals. The New York Times best-selling author returns with the perfectly mixed cocktail of romance, mystery and comedy…” —Raleigh News & Observer“This is her best book yet, and it combines all of the strengths we have come to expect from this audacious and beguiling author.” —Huffington Post“A court-ordered therapy session is the site of the action in Andrews’s zesty, amusing latest…” —People

“Mary Kay Andrews blends heartache and hilarity in a story line filled with surprises.” —Southern Living

“If there were a literary genre dedicated to great beach books, the novels of Mary Kay Andrews would set its standard for excellence.” —Cape Gazette


About Mary Kay Andrews:

From her website:

Mary Kay Andrews is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Fixer UpperSavannah Breeze and Blue Christmas, as well as Deep Dish,Hissy FitLittle Bitty Lies and Savannah Blues.She also wrote ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series, under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. Her mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Awards.A native of St. Petersburg, Florida (and a diplomate of the Maas Bros. Department Store School of Charm), Trocheck earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1976 (Go Dawgs!). She started her professional journalism career in Savannah, Georgia, where she covered the real-life murder trials which were the basis ofMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. She left journalism after a ten-year stint as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.She is a frequent lecturer and writing teacher at workshops including Emory University, The University of Georgia’s Harriette Austin Writer’s Workshop, the Tennessee Mountain Writer’s Workshop, and the Antioch Writer’s Workshop.As a lifelong “junker” the author claims to know the location of every promising thrift store, flea market and junkpile in the southeastern United States, plus many parts of Ohio.Married to her high school sweetheart, she is the mother of two grown children and a proud grandmother. After a brief hiatus in Raleigh, NC, she and her husband moved back to their old neighborhood in Atlanta, where they live in a restored 1926 Craftsman bungalow. She divides her time between Atlanta and her restored beach cottage on Tybee Island, GA.The New York Timesbestselling author is back with another page-turning beach read about a woman whose life is turned upside down when she discovers her husband cheating on her….

Find Mary Kay Andrews here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest


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THE GOSPEL OF WINTER by Brendan Kiely – 5 star review
May 6th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


By Brendan Kiely

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

Issues: Sexual assault of a boy by a priest, drug use, divorce

Why this novel is important?

This kind of abuse happens every single day.

Finally, a novel that addresses the issue, offers a raw, authentic experience and encourages seeking help.

Victims of any kind of abuse will read this and know they’re alone.

A critical read to understand how abusers manipulate victims and the potential reactions of those subjected to abuse.

Buy a signed copy:  Boswell Books

or buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Audible

I heard Brendan speak during The Gentleman’s Tour with Jason Reynolds and John Corey Whaley at Boswell Books, Milwaukee.

From my Twitter feed: 

Apr 30

Secrets, courage, friendship! That is what The Gospel of Winter is about, crossing the…


1374162_211445232360694_254475920_nAbout Brendan:

From his website: Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York.  His writing has appeared in FictionGuernicaThe AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


From Goodreads:

A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely’s unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.


My Review: 

Raw, heartbreaking, authentic, important! 

The Gospel of Winter is a critical novel of coping with one of the worst things that could happen to a young man—sexual abuse. In this case, a priest takes advantage of a vulnerable young adult, Aiden. 


Brilliantly designed. The jacket is translucent with the silhouette of a boy underneath. This symbolizes the hidden layers of Aiden, his shadowed self, and secrets. The letters in the word “Gospel” are broken symbolizing how the “gospel” Aiden learns from the priest is indeed broken, filled with lies and holes. It’s brilliant.

General comments:

I cried. I paced. I asked the question, “Why?” And I blessed Brendan Kiely for having the courage to write such an important book!

This is a novel that will let others who have gone through sexual abuse know that they’re not alone, that what they’ve experienced and how they’ve coped is normal, but that ultimately it’s unhealthy and painful to keep the trauma to oneself.

The story: (contains some minor spoilers, proceed with caution.)

Aiden’s father has left his mother and him for Europe and another woman. The novel starts out with Aiden co-hosting his mother’s annual Christmas party. He is surrounded by overbearing, “keep up with the Jones” type adults, and lots and lots of alcohol. Aiden crushes Adderall and snorts it. He drinks. All of this is his way of coping with the sexual abuse.

As the story goes on, Aiden develops some positive relationships with three other young adults. They’re able to talk about “real” stuff and take their “masks” off. Aiden sees many of the people around him as fake, always looking for the next deal and trying to out do their neighbors, their friends with bigger and better parties. Personally, I thought this was an accurate portrayal of what it’s like in some East Coast suburbs. I’ve met people like this, and though I find it shocking, it seemed very authentic. Many parents go off and leave their children to be raised by nannies. It’s not a Midwest “thing” but it’s a heck of a lot more common on the East Coast. What crushes me is the lack of respect for another person. Aiden’s “nanny” Elena is Hispanic, and he loves her. But there is definitely “class” and race separation. When will we live in a society that sees beyond skin color? Aiden is more of a second son to Elena. Unfortunately, Elena doesn’t do what it takes to protect Aiden. She too, fails him.

Readers might not like the choices Aiden makes or the adults around him. There are choices that many regret and are ashamed of. BUT THIS IS LIFE! Maybe you’ll get upset with Aiden, maybe you’ll cry for Aiden, maybe you’ll be frustrated with what happens and how the adults cope, BUT GET REAL! Because this is real! The drug use, the denial, the fear, the self-loathing, the shame, the guilt. 

Brendan Kiely gives readers an opportunity to walk in a male young adult’s shoes who has faced horrible abuse. This isn’t a “story” where we get to decide how Aiden shoulda reacted. Brendan Kiely researched this novel and spent six years writing it in order to give people a gift. A gift that will allow young adults going through abuse a window into what can happen if you don’t tell and don’t cope, especially when the abusing adult puts the fear of G-d in you, in this case, literally. 

The power of friendship is also explored in this novel. Aiden fails one of his best friends Mark. His failure is wrapped up in Aiden’s lies and his inability to cope with abuse. Aiden is sixteen! Sixteen-year-olds disappoint friends. They make bad choices. HECK, adults do it all the time! So many adults failed Aiden. Our hearts can break for him, for Mark, but ultimately we need to realize that neither had the love or support or the guidance to get out of this mess.

Except for a lovely friend named Josie. EVERYONE should have a good friend like Josie. 

I want to commend Brendan for writing one of the most important books on sexual abuse, and for tackling an even more taboo topic, sexual abuse involving a boy! 

The Gospel of Winter is a brilliantly written, tough, heartbreaking must read!


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