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WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND by Alison McGhee, 5 star review
May 16th, 2018 by Liza Wiemer

WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND

by Alison McGhee

Where to buy it: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Book Depository

 

This novel has received 3 starred reviews! 

Thank you @simonteen for my review copy!

From Goodreads:

After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.

 

MY REVIEW:

What I Leave BehindWhat I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If this isn’t on your radar, it should be! This is a remarkable YA novel!

From page one, I was pulled into this beautifully written, uniquely told story. There are 100 written pages with 100 words on each page. Perfect for reluctant readers, this novel will draw you in. Will, our narrator, shares his pain of his dad’s suicide, the rape of his best friend, Playa, and the action he takes to cope with this trauma. He walks it off. But during his walks, he gives to others, often in secret. It brings him great joy to make other people’s lives better. For a book with few words, it’s filled with plenty of fascinating characters. There’s a homeless man named Superman, Will’s boss, Major Tom, and Mrs. Lin, who owns what Will calls “the blessings store.”

I really felt for Will. He has a huge, loving, compassionate heart. This world needs kindness, and this novel spreads it in spades!

Highly recommend!

View all my reviews

 

About Alison McGhee

Allison McGhee, photo from her Goodreads page

Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages and is the author of #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Minneapolis, California and Vermont.

Visit her: Website 

Twitter

Goodreads

 

THE GOOD LUCK SISTER by Jill Shalvis – Showcase/Spotlight
May 3rd, 2018 by Liza Wiemer

I love Jill Shalvis. There isn’t a book of hers that I haven’t read. So if you want to get swept away in a great story with some romance, pick up any of her books.

I’m happy to share with my readers a Wildstone Novella. The first book in this series is called Lost and Found Sisters. I loved it. The second book, Rainy Day Friends comes out on June 19, 2018! I can’t wait

My review of Lost and Found Sisters:


Firstly, I absolutely love Jill Shalvis. This is classic Jill—characters with heart, quirks, problems to deal with, and of course, romance.

I loved the relationship between Quinn and Tilly. What makes Jill’s writing so compelling is the authenticity of her characters and their struggles and choices. Not easy.

Wildstone is a place I’d love to see, and Jill knows how to paint it on the map with her words, allowing us to get an excellent view or what life is like there.

So thrilled that there is more to come!


 

ABOUT JILL SHALVIS

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

 

ABOUT THE GOOD LUCK SISTER

After a difficult few years, Tilly Adams is ready for life to start going right. Though she has a case of first-day nerves teaching art at the local community college, she knows it isn’t anything a few snuggles from her rescue puppy won’t cure. Until she sees Dylan Scott again, her one-time BFF and first love sitting in the front row. Dylan knows he should’ve left well enough alone, but when he sees Tilly living her dream, he can’t help but make contact. Ten years ago, he left Wildstone and everything in it behind, including Tilly. He had his reasons, but now he wants her back in his life, anyway he can get her. When Tilly agrees to design the logo for Dylan’s new helicopter touring company, it’s business only . . . until she finds herself falling into his arms once again. Can she possibly open her heart back up to the only man who’s ever broken it? But soon they’re both realizing the truth—love always deserves a second chance.

 

Connect with Jill

Website: http://jillshalvis.com/

Facebook: @JillShalvis

Twitter: @JillShalvis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jillshalvis/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jillshalvis/

Tumblr: http://jillshalvis.tumblr.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22370.Jill_Shalvis?from_search=true

 

BUY LINKS for THE GOOD LUCK SISTER

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2qOBwgM

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2vCGAdQ

Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2Hfc5Qt

iBooks: https://apple.co/2vwQkpN

GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/2kpDG2S

 

EXCERPT:

 

Chapter 1

 

“I’ve finished my free trial of adulthood and am no longer interested, so please cancel my subscription.” From The Mixed Up Files of Tilly’s journal.

 

Tilly Adams sat in the vet’s office staring at the doctor in shock. “Say that again?”

Dr. Janet Lyons smiled. “I think Leo faked being sick. Probably so you’d stay home from work today.”

Tilly looked down at Leo. “You do know he’s a dog, right?”

All six pounds of him smiled up at her. About a month ago, she found him on a street corner hiding beneath a bus bench; wet, dirty, cold, hungry and matted. He’d been Dobby meets Gremlin meets neglected, abused Care Bear. Tilly had looked around for an adult, and then had to remind herself that at twenty-five years old, she was legal herself. So then she’d searched for an adultier adult, but she’d been the only one in sight.

So she’d scooped the little guy up and had brought him to the SPCA, who’d said he was about five weeks old, a possible Maltipoo, which meant he came by his care bear look naturally. He was malnutritioned and suffering from mange. They’d said they’d do what they could, and Tilly had turned to go. That had been when she’d seen all the eyes on her from an endless row of cages … and she’d realized her care bear would soon be sitting in one too. Then she’d heard herself offer to foster him until they found him a forever home.

They’d found him one too. Tilly had signed the adoption papers last weekend in spite of the fact that just that morning he’d escaped his crate, eaten her favorite sneakers, destroyed her favorite pillow, and then yakked up the stuffing from the pillow.

He was a destructo of the highest magnitude, and something else too. He had no idea how small he was. He went after her sister Quinn’s twenty-plus pound cat and her neighbor’s hundred pound black lab with the same fierce, fearless gusto. Turned out, the little guy had a bad case of small-man syndrome, which was how he’d earned his name.

Leo, short for Napoleon.

And now on top of Leo’s impressive chewing skills, his escape artist skills, and his ability to get up on her bed and yet still not understand why stepping in his own poop was annoying, he had a new skill.

He’d faked being sick.

Proud of himself, Leo smiled up at her. Smiled. An hour ago he’d been coughing and limping and acting all sorts of odd. Now he just kept smiling up at her while sending her meaningful glances at the open dog biscuit bin between her and the doctor.

Dr. Lyons laughed and gave him one.

“Dogs can’t fake sick,” Tilly said while Leo inhaled the biscuit whole before licking the floor to make sure he got all the crumbs. “Can they?”

Dr. Lyons scooped him up and gave him a kiss on his adorable snout. “Yours did.”
Tilly sighed. It was too early for this. She’d had a crazy late night. Not hanging at Whiskey River, the local bar and grill. Not at a club with friends. Not working on her designs for he upcoming graphic art showing.

Nope, she’d been on a serious stress bender — a marathon of Game Of Thrones. She hadn’t fallen asleep until after two and her alarm had interrupted her in the middle of a really great dream starring Jon Snow.

Dr. Lyons handed Leo over. He immediately snuggled into the crook of Tilly’s neck and dammit, her cold heart melted on the spot and she hugged him close. “You’re sure he’s okay? He was coughing. And then he limped funny. And then he wouldn’t eat.”

“But he hasn’t coughed once that I’ve seen. And he’s not limping either. And you said all his food vanished while you took a quick shower.”

“Yes,” Tilly said.

Dr. Lyons waited for her to catch up.

Tilly sighed. “He really did fake

Blog Tour: MY OXFORD YEAR by Julia Whelan – Review & Giveaway (on Twitter – @lizawiemer)
May 2nd, 2018 by Liza Wiemer

ABOUT MY OXFORD YEAR

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

My Review

My Oxford YearMy Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went into this novel knowing that it would have a Jojo Moyes Me Before You feel, so I was ready to fall in love and have my heartbreak.

I loved it! I loved this story. Julia took me along and I totally got into the Oxford experience from classes to walking the streets to eating fish and chips to drinking beer. I fell in love with Ella and Jamie. What a couple! Loved them from that first moment they came on the page together. I loved watching their relationship develop, and even though they tried to hold back, love trumps all!

For me, this was a novel about living life to its fullest, embracing the gifts you’ve been given, and cherishing whatever time a person has on this earth.

I’m a romantic, and this hit all the cylinders for me! Highly recommend for those who love to have their heartstrings pulled!

PS. Julia Whelan is one of my absolute favorite audiobook narrators. I hope she narrates her own book, because I will listen to it! Also, I am under the impression that it will be a movie. I sure hope so!

View all my reviews

BUY LINKS for MY OXFORD YEAR

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HjFtVB

IndieBound: https://bit.ly/2z4ur2u

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2qPk5gL

Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2qPZ8l5

iBooks: https://apple.co/2HhOJty

GooglePlay: https://bit.ly/2K5jIqj

 

Julia Whelan

ABOUT JULIA WHELAN

Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.

 

 

 

 

 

Connect with Julia

Website: http://www.jmwhelan.com

Facebook: @justjuliawhelan

Twitter: @justjuliawhelan

Instagram: @justjuliawhelan

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2939944.Julia_Whelan

 

 

 

IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY by Leila Sales – The hardest review I’ve ever written
May 1st, 2018 by Liza Wiemer

 

This provocative and relevant young adult novel is about Winter, a one-time National Spelling Bee Champ with a bright future ahead of her. That all changes after she haphazardly writes a racially offensive tweet that she thought was a harmless joke. What unfolds is a barrage of Internet shaming and rejection from her community and closest friends. Winter seeks to redeem herself, but first must come to terms with what she wrote and understand why there was so much backlash.

Deep breath. This is not an easy book to read and not an easy book to review. By far, this is the hardest review I’ve ever written. There are going to be people who despise this book, want to tear it to shreds, throw the book against the wall. There will be people who will read the first 10 pages and stop. I understand. I wanted to give up on it. This novel is painful! Really painful, so please if you’re struggling with it and you’re hurting, take care of YOU! It sits too close to home. We’ve watched this scene unfold way too many times on social media, and Leila Sales was brave to write about it. Brave, brave, brave, BRAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I’m going to say next is very painful for me. I admit, I struggled. I put this book down. Winter Halpren (the MC) is NOT my kind of people. I don’t know anyone like her, and personally, I wish so much that her faith wasn’t a part of this story. This hurt, really, really hurt. When you’re a part of 0.2% of the world’s population and have experienced personally the most horrific hate and anti-Semitism, in my mind it felt like adding fuel to those who have hate in their hearts, just another reason to despise us.

Set that aside…Winter is a seventeen-year-old girl. I’m glad I read about her. And I know there’s much more to her than what’s on the pages. This novel has many, many, many layers. It will evoke emotion.

Here’s the thing…

Winter posted a despicable, inexcusable racist comment. She paid for it and deserved everything she lost. But I also ached for her. Because damn it! She’s seventeen. What she did online was the worst of the worst of F@#!#!!ing up!!!!

This book brought tears to my eyes. Tears of anger over what she did, tears of frustration for not recognizing the pain she caused and for focusing on her own pain, and yes, tears of compassion.

I was angry with Winter. I hurt for Winter. Maybe that’s the mom in me.

I’d like to bring up forgiveness. Some people will say that Winter should pay for the rest of her life. She unredeemable. Evil incarnate. Her sincerest of apologies will never be enough. Losing her dream is not enough. Losing a national title for something she worked hard for is not enough. It will never ever ever ever be enough. For what she wrote, she should DIE! (Better yet, she should kill herself.) Oh my gawd. No. No! That’s not okay, but there are people who really say these things to others online.

This is a novel that I believe will allow us to examine our beliefs on forgiveness. (Regarding Jason, a character in this novel. Thank you, Jason, for your big heart and for seeing the good in Winter.)

Obviously, I don’t speak for anyone but myself. But I believe that people can learn from their mistakes. I believe that Winter has a lot more growing up to do. And I believe that she has the ability to take what she’s done and add goodness to this world. There are no easy answers.

I hope that the anger, frustration, and all the other emotions a book like this brings up will be utilized for good! That we take it and vow to be a little kinder, a little more compassionate. That we take time to get to know others and hear a sliver of their story. That’s just a start. We can, we must be more. This world needs it.

Leila Sales was brave enough to open the window or hold up the mirror. This book takes you on an emotional journey. You can’t help but respond, react, feel. I hated what Winter did, despised what she did with every ounce of my soul, but I also found compassion for her. That says something big about Leila’s writing.

So, if you’re wondering if you should read this book, I can’t tell you. All I can say is that I’m glad I read to the very last page.

I can imagine that this was probably the hardest book Leila has ever written. She was brave to take this on. She’s brilliant writer. No, this wasn’t an easy book at all. Not at all.

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