Where They Found Her

Finished Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“From the author of the New York Times bestseller and 2014 Edgar and Anthony nominee Reconstructing Amelia comes another harrowing, gripping novel that marries psychological suspense with an emotionally powerful story about a community struggling with the consequences of a devastating discovery

At the end of a long winter, in bucolic Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of an infant is discovered in the woods near the town’s prestigious university campus. No one knows who the baby is, or how her body ended up out there. But there is no shortage of opinions.

When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the story for the Ridegdale Reader, it’s a risk, given the severe depression that followed the loss of her own baby. But the bigger threat comes when Molly unearths some of Ridgedale’s darkest secrets, including a string of unreported sexual assaults that goes back twenty years.

Meanwhile, Sandy, a high school dropout, searches for her volatile and now missing mother, and PTA president Barbara struggles to help her young son, who’s suddenly having disturbing outbursts.

Told from the perspectives of Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth about the baby’s death revealing that these three women have far more in common than they realized. And that their lives are more intertwined with what happened to the baby than they ever could have imagined.”

I absolutely loved Reconstructing Amelia and was so excited to get a chance to read this one early.  My expectations were really high, as well, and I completely adored this book, as well.

It’s not another Reconstructing Amelia, except it’s just as compelling.  (This one centers around a newborn girl who was found dead in a relatively remote area.  Nobody knows who her mom is, or how she got there, and obviously it has the small town in an uproar.)

I love that Kimberly McCreight chose to have Barbara co-narrate.  If I had only heard about her in Molly and Sandy’s chapters, it would have been impossible to even remotely like her.  I’m not going to say that it made me wish Barbara and I were friends, but it allowed me to see where she was coming from and it made me empathize with her a little bit.  (She’s still a jerk, but it was nice to see exactly why.)

Where They Found Her is incredible.  I kept thinking I knew where it was going and I had no idea.  I have to say, I absolutely love books that can take me by surprise.

I can’t wait for Kimberly McCreight’s next book.

Highly recommended.

HELLO WORLD! Campaign

Liza Wiemer and I are excited to introduce you to the HELLO WORLD! campaign.  For more information, please watch this video:
(Fun fact: The two groups of teens at the end of the video are from Washington Island and Sturgeon Bay, the setting for HELLO?. Not only are the young adults excited about this, but so are the communities!)
But basically what we’re asking is for you to take a picture of yourself (or with some friends! or if you’re shy, of something meaningful) with a sign that says “#HelloFrom” and then wherever you are.  For example, I could take a picture of myself at the Edgar Allan Poe House or Camden Yards with a sign saying #HelloFrom Baltimore.”  Then please post the picture on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and/or Instagram – the more the better! Plus, please add a link to your blog post with all the information about the campaign.  Make sure to use #HelloFrom so that we see it.
Please feel free to tag people.  We want everyone to know about this and, hopefully, participate from all around the globe!  And you’ll want to tag people because you’ll get extra entries in what may be the best contest EVER.  Liza went all out, and 20 people are going to win amazing prizes.  You want one of those 20 to be you. :D
Prizes include pottery, chocolate covered cherries (and I’ve had them and they are AMAZING), a quilted chalkboard, coffee, blank greeting cards with scenes from Washington Island, and much more!   I can’t win but if you do, please send me some of those chocolate covered cherries. ;)
This is an incredibly exciting event! We hope you’ll participate and help us not only introduce HELLO? to the world, but bring us all closer together through the power of “Hello!”

All the Rage (An Interview With Courtney Summers)

Courtney Summers was kind enough to do another interview with me after I read All the Rage.

1)  Could we talk about the part where she’s talking about Caro’s baby and thinks, “I hope it’s not a girl”? I think that’s one of the most powerful sentences I’ve ever read and it’s initially such a random thought.
Thank you! That line is definitely something Romy’s keeping inside of her. It’s something she believes, based on everything she’s been through, but doesn’t necessarily really want to believe. The situation with Caro makes it impossible for it not to bubble up to the surface. Romy’s been through so much but this is a moment of vulnerability that is well out of her control. I love writing moments like that–when the characters reveal themselves whether or not they truly want to. For her to think that, to really wish it, was a way to highlight how damaging rape culture is, how damaging victim-blaming is. The kind of self-loathing it creates. I wanted it to be a gut-punch, so I’m so glad that you felt it was.
2)  Most of the guys in this are awful, but I think the girls are worse. Why do you think girls are so quick to police each other’s behavior?
I think a lot of it has to do with internalized misogyny and the pressure that goes hand-in-hand living in a culture with so many unfair gender-based stereotypes and expectations and double standards. It’s a difficult landscape for girls and women to navigate, so I think a consequence of it is we direct some of the resulting anger and hurt and frustration about it at each other.
3)  Leon and Todd are both these two great guys and I spent most of the book waiting for them to prove my feelings about them wrong. Was there a moment when you debated otherwise? 
Thank you! Todd was a very different character originally, but that was a time when the story was also very, very, very, VERY different. It wasn’t even the same novel then–so this answer almost seems like a lie. For this incarnation of All the Rage, Todd and Leon were always great guys.
4)  What are you reading now?
I’m reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn! I love her work and it’s the only book of hers I haven’t read yet. The movie was excellent and I have no doubts the book will be too. I’m really digging it.
5)  How excited are you that we’re getting a new Friday the 13th this year? (For a happy discussion to end on)
TOO EXCITED FOR WORDS! CAPITALS AND MANY EXCLAMATION MARKS! !!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D  (And I know I’m sharing that reaction with you!)

HELLO? Cover Reveal!

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Hello? By Liza Wiemer

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

By Spencer Hill Contemporary

About Hello?

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.

Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.

Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.

Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.

Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

To learn more about Hello? and to add it to your TBR: Goodreads

I’m the publicist for this book and I’m so happy and excited about the reception it’s getting already.  Here is a small sample of the excitement from other bloggers and authors:

“Heartfelt and honest, Hello? will have you rooting for its characters until the very last page.”

—Heather Demetrios, author of I’ll Meet You There and Something Real

“Liza Wiemer’s Hello? is a poignant tale of friendship, love, loss, and resilience. Told from multiple points of view, the richly drawn characters offer a powerful example of how connected we all truly are. This book will compel readers to consider the existence of destiny. Hello? grabbed me from the first page and pulled me right through to the gorgeous ending.”

—Kristina McBride, author of One Moment and The Tension of Opposites

A uniquely written story about the beauty of human connections told through incredibly vivid characters. It’s one contemporary YA fans shouldn’t miss.

Kathy Coe, A Glass of Wine Book Reviews

“In her YA debut, Liza Wiemer has officially launched herself on the map with grace. Hello? is a powerful and brilliantly woven story of love, loss, and human connection that makes you believe in the world again. It owned my heart from the first page to the last. One of the most original books EVER.”

—Hannah McBride, The Irish Banana

About Liza Wiemer:

Liza married the guy who literary swept her off her feet at a Spyro Gyra concert. Their love story can be found on Liza’s “About” page. Besides being a die-hard Packer fan, Liza is also a readaholic, a romantic, and a lover of crazy socks and rooftops. Hello? is her debut YA novel. She also has had two adult non-fiction books published, as well as stories and articles in various publications. She’s a graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Education and the mother of two sons.

All the Rage (Reflections)

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When I decided to devote a week to All the Rage, I knew that I wanted to spend a day going more in-depth of how this book made me feel and what it made me think.  (Warning: this is probably going to be long.)

First, you should know that I was a sociology and gender studies major, so I am generally very in tune with the idea of rape culture and victim blaming and similar things.  I don’t think that you can or should be blamed for being raped, regardless of what you were wearing or what you were drinking or any decisions you made that night.

But because this is a Courtney Summers book, the heroine isn’t particularly likable.  I think that this is actually a brilliant choice, because I would think things like, “Quit drinking, Romy; this is a bad idea” and then I’d stop, horrified.  Because she’s a teenager at a party, and they tend to drink.  You should be able to behave in a normal way at a party without worrying that you’re going to be taken advantage of or raped.  (For most of the book, we get the story in bits and pieces, so while I did say that “she was apparently raped” while discussing it with my friend Bekki, it was because I knew that something horrible had happened while Romy was drunk, but I didn’t know if it was rape or if things had just gone a lot farther than she had wanted.  It was definitely clear either way that Romy was in no shape to give any kind of consent.

Second, the thing that really struck me with this book was a throwaway comment (that is later repeated) from Romy when she learns that her boyfriend Leon’s sister is going to have a baby: “I hope it’s not a girl.”  The thought startles her so much that she initially gives it more thought and then definitively agrees that she doesn’t want it to be a girl.

The statement startled me, too (I have a niece and two goddaughters) and then as I thought about it, I agreed.  I worry about them in a way that I don’t have to worry about my godson.  Life is not easy for anyone, but it is definitely harder for girls.

After the baby is born (and it is a girl), there’s an absolutely wrenching scene where Romy holds her and then finds herself wanting to apologize to her for the life she knows that Ava will probably have.  Even if she doesn’t suffer any type of sex assault (although since one in four women will—and that number is probably only going to increase), she will have to navigate the world in a different and harder way than boys will.  I know that we are all aware of the ideas of how having sex in high school if you’re a girl makes you a slut (sometimes even beyond high school) and those ideas probably aren’t going to go away, either.

Beckon Me release day blitz!

Beckon Me
Beckon Me Release Day Party Banner
Second, I was lucky enough to get to read this early and, without any spoilers whatsoever, you need this book in your life.  I’m hoping to re-read this soon because I miss this book.  Don’t judge; you’ll get it once you read it for yourself.
Find Cindy Thomas Online: 
 
Links to buy:
 
 
About BECKON ME: 
 

Everything nineteen-year-old Karina Mitchell knows about death changes the instant that she and her best friend, Rainey, are shot. For one, souls don’t die. They cross over. Only, Rainey’s soul hasn’t, and her ghost is hell bent on haunting Karina.

When Karina begins her sophomore year of college and moves into the apartment that she was supposed to share with Rainey, she learns a few shocking truths from her mysterious and gorgeous blue-eyed neighbor, Eli.

One: Karina has been chosen to become a Beckoner—an immortal conduit of the dead who helps safely guide souls to the other side.

Two: She’s the reason that Rainey’s soul can’t cross over—Rainey followed her back from death and missed her window to be at peace.

Three: Eli is hot. As in swoon-worthy, to-die-for, will-make-you-forget-yourself hot. And it turns out, Eli is a Beckoner, too.

Despite her attraction to Eli, the decision to become a Beckoner isn’t an easy one—it would mean giving up her own mortality … her own soul. But if she doesn’t, her best friend will be left to suffer an eternity at the hands of the evil Ceptors, dark creatures that feed on the souls left behind. After all, it’s her fault Rainey is haunting her.

Time is running out, and Karina needs to decide: Are love and loyalty worth sacrificing her soul?

All the Rage

Finished All the Rage by Courtney Summers.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous.But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?”

I love this book so much!  So much that the next week on this blog is going to be “All the Rage week” and there will be posts and resources and a giveaway.  This book is incredibly powerful and important and I want to give it as much airtime as I can.

I’m going to go into detail with how the book affected me tomorrow, but for now, let’s focus on the book.

It goes back and forth in time, and we learn about what happened to Romy in bits and pieces (mostly at the end) but it’s clear that (a) something happened that she didn’t want and (b) as a result, the entire school seems to hate her.  And the entire school seems to think that she deserved whatever happened and that she probably wanted it anyway (it has since become common knowledge that she had a crush on the boy).

I love that all of her books are thought-provoking and force you to confront your own prejudices about things.  For example, Romy is obviously damaged as a result of what happened, but she is also unlikable and seems to blame herself more than anyone else for what happened.  She uses her lipstick and nail polish almost as armor and talismans to keep her safe.

This is the most powerful and wrenching book I’ve read on this topic, ever.  I think part of that is because Courtney Summers chose to focus more on the culture that makes this all too prevalent and on the aftermath rather than the incident itself.

This is going to be one of those books that’s talked about and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins a lot of awards this year.

Highly recommended.

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys)

Finished Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) by Amy Spalding.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.”

This book had me at the “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A.”  I’m a sucker for “It’s this meets this!” if the two “this”es are books or movies that I love.

In this case, the comparison is completely apt.  It’s very fun and also incredibly clever.  I can’t tell you how many times I literally laughed out loud…but it was a lot.

This is a book for people who weren’t super popular in high school but who weren’t also part of the dregs of society.  (Although I think Riley especially was much cooler than I was; she’s in a band!  I was a lot more like Reid who, although in the same band, was much more insecure.)

Bottom line: if you like your love stories sweet but also smart, this is for you.  I now hope to read her other two books, like, NOW.

Highly recommended.

On the Fence

Finished On the Fence by Kasie West.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.”

I am a huge fan of Kasie West and now I have read all of them.  :(  (Fortunately, there’s one coming out in less than a month.)

I think this one is my absolute favorite so far, probably because it really reminded me of One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin (which I also loved).  Charlie is most comfortable with guys, because she has three brothers and was raised by her dad (her mom died when she was little).  She doesn’t really have any girl friends, and when she has to get a job (one too many speeding tickets), she ends up working at a clothing store.  Which is unfortunate, because she has no fashion sense to speak of.

Then she starts being the test dummy (essentially) for makeup classes to get extra money, and it turns out that maybe being a girl isn’t so bad.

I love this book.  It’s incredibly sweet and fun, and the characters are all great.  (I’m kind of hoping it’ll get a sequel or maybe a spinoff novel, although Kasie West doesn’t do those for her contemp YA novels—at least not yet.)

Charlie is the kind of character I immediately love.  She’s strong and smart and lives life on her terms.  She’s not afraid to be exactly who she is and even when she changes a little, it’s for the right reasons.  (There is a part where she pretends not to be as into sports, but at least part of that is because her brother tells her that always acting like you know everything is a jerk move.)

If you’re looking for a book that will put a smile on your face, this is for you.

Highly recommended.