Monday, May 30, 2011

Tag, Announcement, & Book Reviews - If I Stay/Where She Went

Happy Memorial Day!

First the book reviews. When I found the cover image for Gayle Forman's awesome debut If I Stay (link) I remembered why it took me so long to read the book.

I saw an ad for it in Entertainment Weekly that said, "Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight." And I thought, Yik!

The last thing I wanted to read was another poorly executed, paranormal, Stephenie-Meyer-Twilight-wannabe.

Let me say right now, If I Stay is not paranormal or poorly executed, and the only resemblance I see to Twilight (apart from being YA) is that both books are set in the Pacific Northwest--Twilight in Forks, Washington; If I Stay in Portland, Oregon.

Different places and vastly different stories.

I'm not kidding when I say this is the best book I've read since The Hunger Games trio, which would make it the best book I've read this year. Wait--then I read Where She Went, the sequel!

I read the second installment in one day, and I confess, it took me a few hours to recover once I finished. In a good way!

These books are intense and powerful. If I Stay starts out with broody, cello player and classical music lover Mia and her quirky family--ex-punk rocker parents and precocious little brother Teddy--all heading out for a visit to friends on a snowy morning.

Eleven pages later, her parents are dead and Mia's watching her body being transported to the ICU in a coma and on the brink of death.

The family is in a horrible car wreck that kills both parents instantly, and the remaining 200 pages follow the next 24 hours as Mia remembers her family, her friends, her boyfriend Adam, her feelings of never really belonging, and ultimately decides whether she wants to stay and continue living or let go and be with her family in the next life.

It's a moving, positive and ultimately hopeful story.

The sequel Where She Went (link) picks up three years later and is told from the point of view Mia's boyfriend Adam, whose life has fallen apart after the accident and Mia's subsequent choices. But at the same time, his music career has soared as he's poured all his heartbreak into his songwriting.

I didn't think I was going to enjoy the second book as much for those two reasons, but I was so wrong. Adam's story is just as captivating, and the ending is very satisfying...

Forman's descriptions of Mia's parents were so authentic. Her tough, protective mom, her father evolving from punk to bow-tie wearing "responsible" dad. I even dug her theory on coma victims.

And wow. The depiction of Mia as band girlfriend was unexpected. I spent Age 19-23 in almost that exact spot, and I never expected my feelings to be depicted ... well, anywhere. I felt like my response to that position was so goofy and hard to explain. And then Forman went and nailed it. How predictable am I? (OK, except for the licking Adam's sweaty face part. I never had that urge... ew. *snort*)

Good stuff.

Anyway, I'm afraid saying more will spoil the story, so I'll just say these books are amazing. I never laughed--too intense!--but I cried twice and was so touched. Super A+ to both, and hats off to Forman.

Heads up to moms, unlike Twilight, there are several F-bombs in both books, Mia and Adam have a sexual relationship that is only alluded to (no graphic details here), and there is substance use and abuse. Poor Adam's pretty messed up in Book 2.

So the books are adult at times, but still I highly recommend both for older teens and adults. They're fantastic and will stay with you for a while.

Now, for that Tag!

I was tagged by RaShelle (link) and then "Bambi" (*snort*) Johnson (link) and someone else (?) with this next bit, so I'm feeling the pressure to play. But I'll keep it short.

Do you think you're hot? It hit 92 degrees here yesterday and a zillion percent humidity. I know I'm hot.

Upload a picture or wall paper that you are using at the moment. This is my youngest enjoying some quiet time at my favorite place on earth, Seaside, Fla.

When was the last time you ate chicken? Hmm... Oh! Mom and Dad were visiting last week and we had chicken for dinner Tuesday.

The song/songs you listened to recently. My iPod is a musical mushpot of songs ranging from Broadway to pop, rap, classical, country, kids' stuff... Lately, I've been on a Ryan Adams kick, though. Very much diggin "Everybody Knows," "16 Days," "Dear John," "La Cienega Just Smiled" ...

What were you thinking while doing this? Who cares when I ate chicken last? (*snort*)

Do you have a nickname? What are they? I always despised nicknames. But my uncle went through a spell of calling me "Leigh-Roy" in high school until my mom made him stop. Then a coworker called me "Leighbert" for a while. (Leigh + Talbert). College boyfriend, who was 6'2" called me "sweet petite" and then "punkin," which unfortunately stuck for the duration of our five-year relationship... These days I'm just Mom.

I'm going to skip the tagging portion of the show, because I can't think of anyone who hasn't done this... And it's time for my Big Announcement.

I hate to do it... I've been resisting... but the truth is, I'm in over my head now. And I'm about to go off the radar for a bit, guys.

Most of you know we're moving 800 miles due north. Well, the time has come, our house has sold, and Zoikes! We have not found a house in our new location yet.

June is going to be the month to survive for me. New Owners take possession 6/23, so I'm going to be house-hunting, packing, moving, possibly homeless...

You guys are the one constant in my life right now, and I enjoy chatting with you all so much, but the truth is, I'm not going to be able to keep up the blog through all this.

So I'm on hiatus until July. My goal is to be back July 12. In the meatime, I'll be missing you guys! And I'll be trying to keep it together over here.

Have a great June, reader- and writer-friends! Til July~ <3


Jessica Bell said...

You like Ryan Adams? I love Ryan Adams!!! :o)

Sarah said...

Great reviews--and good luck, Leigh! I hope June turns out to be a great (if exhausting) month for you and that everything falls into place.

Stina said...

I loved both IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT. And I especially LOVED the ending of WHERE SHE WENT.

Thanks for telling us, Leigh, that you'll be gone for awhile so that we aren't wondering WHERE YOU WENT. :D

And good luck with everything.

Old Kitty said...

Awwwwww sweet petite!! That's so cute!!!!! But you may be small in stature but by golly your are Amazon Woman!! You will not only get your house move sorted but you'll also find the home of your dreams! Yes you will!! And you'll do it too with plenty of time to spare!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! GOOD LUCK!!! I have all my limbs and various bits n pieces crossed for you for a smooth sale and home-buy!!! See you soon!!! Take care

Creepy Query Girl said...

awe- I understand why you'll be taking the time off but you WILL be missed my dear! I did read 'If I Stay' and while I agree it was well written and def pulled at my heartstrings, it was far too emotionally intense for my taste. (I like my books about as a shallow as a kiddie pool- for entertainment value only and this one had me bawling during my 'down time'- I almost wanted to put it in the fridge, like Joey on 'Friends' did with Little Women.)

DEZMOND said...

ah, traitor, you are leaving us to boil in the summer heat alone :(

Love the cover for IF I STAY :)

Sophia said...

Hope you get the house situation sorted out with a meltdown. See you in July!
- Sophia.

Jenna Wallace said...

If I Stay is one of my all time favorites, and I'm picking up my copy of Where She Went this week. Can't wait!

And good luck with the move. You will survive. And there are always apartments for the short term. Remember apartments? Where someone mows the grass, changes your lightbulbs, etc? Could be a fun break!

Kittie Howard said...

Great reviews! And I hope there's a great review of your move coming up in July! Your house sold - YAY! The rest will fall into place but I'm sending moving wishes for laniappe.

You did the smart thing, taking a hiatus!! We'll be here in July!

Your youngest is absolutely adorable. Love that pic.


M Pax said...

I'll miss you, Leigh, and eagerly look forward to your return to bloggyland. I wish you a stressfree move. As stress free as possible. As my husband said to me when we moved here, "Think of it as an adventure." I ended up loving this place best over every other city we've lived. So, I wish you the same discovery.

KM Nalle said...

I'll miss your posts, but understand that you've got a LOT going on. Good luck with the move and the house hunting. I enjoyed your tag answers and your review of If I Stay has me intrigued.

See you in July!

Lola Sharp said...

I too loved both of Gayle Forman's books too! Loved them. And, I too cried both times.

OMG, moving is stressful enough...but not knowing WHERE you're going is definitely a major zoinks! O_0
*hugs* We'll be here whenever you get back. And I wish you the smoothest, snafu-less of moves. May the kindest of moving juju spread its fairy dust upon you.


RaShelle Workman said...

Hey Leigh - I'm going to check those two book out.

Good luck with the house hunting, moving and all around torture of the next month. I'll be thinking of you. =D

RosieC said...

What a great thing to be thinking while you're doing that one--Who cares when I ate chicken last. I laughed out loud at it when I saw it on *Bambi's* post a few days ago.

Good luck with the moving and the house hunting!

Summer Ross said...

I wish you a whole bunch of Fairy luck!

Talli Roland said...

July? JULY! What!?!

Seriously, though, as much as I'll miss you, I wish you all the best and plenty of good vibes for the busy time that is ahead. Can't wait to hear all about it when you're back!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

We'll miss you! Hang in there!! (p.s. thanks for the book rec! I put it on my TBR). :)

Heidi Ruby Miller said...

Just wanted to say Hi, Leigh.

I found you through Alyssa's Share Your Blogs! discussion on Goodreads.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Aww! You know I'll miss you. But you also know that I TOTALLY understand the need to find your zen. Hope you get the house situation worked out, and see you in July!

Ella said...

Great review and now added to my list!
I so understand your frustration; been there! I lived in a hotel for a month in Hawaii. It is a story...
anyway...I'm sending you good vibes that the dots will connect and things line up for you n' yours~!xXx <3 555

PK HREZO said...

Oh, Leigh-roy, we're gonna miss you!! hee hee I love that nickname. ;) But totally understand... you've got a lot going on and I'm wishing you the safest best move possible. Sending lots of good vibes and thoughts your way and hoping your little girls take to their new home well.

Those books sound awesome... will add them to my TBR list which is now taller than my nightstand, not counting what's on my kindle. Good grief! lol

DOn't worry, girl... we'll be here when you get back. Hugs for a safe journey and for a fresh new start! Hey my hubby's from Indiana. :) You'llbe trading your hurricane days in for snow days.

Carolyn Abiad said...

If I Stay is on my TBR, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Perhaps I need to move it up the list...

Good luck and see you in July! I know everything will work out for you. :)

Angela said...

We'll miss you. And I'm hot in the same way you are. Man, when are these temperatures going to cool down?

I've been dragging my feet about buying into the whole Gail Foreman rage, but your review has given me motivation to check out her books.

Matthew MacNish said...

Do these books have any sword fights? Or is it all just kissing and crying?

Actually, substance abuse sounds like enough action for me, maybe I'll check into these.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed If I Stay and can't wait to read the next book. Thanks for the great review!

Jennie Bailey said...

I love reading a review that makes me want to pick up a book I wouldn't have otherwise. I can't wait to get my hands on these two.

Happy moving - good luck with the house hunting. Glad you are taking the month off for your own sanity. You've got a lot going on!!

N. R. Williams said...

I know how you feel. We are supposed to close the end of June. I don't know if it has gone through yet though. Take care.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness. Great nicknames! Hee!

I bought If I Stay at a TJ Maxx a long time ago but haven't got around to reading it. I suppose the time has come.

You take all the time you need! We will miss you, but I can't wait to see what house you getttttt!

Julie Musil said...

I'll miss you while you're gone! But good luck with the move, and we'll see you when you're back on line. And thanks for the book review. I must read it!

erica and christy said...

I read (most of) If I Stay. I had to skip over a chunk in the middle because I just couldn't handle it (emotionally). I skipped through to the end and then bawled for who knows how long. Thanks to this post, I think I'll pick up the sequel this summer. :0) christy

Matthew MacNish said...

Um ... it's Thursday.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good luck with the move and the house hunting and keeping your sanity! I bet it'll all work out in an amazing way for you! :) Take care & see you in a bit! *hugs*

Lydia Kang said...

All right, that book is going to be at the top of my TBR list now.

And good luck finding a home! See you in July!

Hart Johnson said...

Late to the party, as usual--

Those books sound SIGNIFICANTLY better than Twilight! Like... good even! Good luck with your move, house hunting, and all that! I miss you already!

LTM said...

@Summer--Thanks, honey! I wish we could just FLY everything up there... :D <3

@Heidi--Hey, there! Yay for Goodreads! Thanks for visiting~ <3

@Anita--I know! I miss you guys already! But I'm not even sure how much computer access I'll have this month... makes it kinda hard. :D <3

@PK--LOL!!! Omg... that was so hilarious. And it's just his sense of humor. I honestly just ignored him, but Mom made him stop. The books = very, very good. But from the comments, potentially too strong--! :D I know, snow, here we geaux~ ((hugs)) <3

Theresa Milstein said...

Sounds like you ARE hot.

I have IF I Stay, but haven't read it yet. Now I'll put it higher on my list. If I knew it was compared with SM, I wouldn't have bought it. I didn't like her books, let alone a pale imitation.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on self-publishing!!

Gale Foreman is one of my fave authors. Will definitely check out Deb's books too. I love Can't-Put-Downable Contemp YA books! :)

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