Posts Tagged ‘jessica warman’
Today, Bookbabbler Liz reviews Between for us, and we have 5 copies of it to giveaway!
Between by Jessica Warman
Only the good die young. Right? Elizabeth Valchar has it all: friends, money, beauty, a cute boyfriend and assured popularity. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she is found drowned next to her parents’ boat. Everyone thinks it was a tragic accident – teens drinking on a boat, a misstep leading to a watery death. But Liz is still here after death, and she doesn’t know why. There are gaps in her memory. Her only company Alex, a boy killed by a car a year earlier, Liz sets out to piece together her life. But their small coastal town is hiding many secrets – about families, boyfriends and friendship. Plus, Alex hates Liz for being mean when they were alive. Was she as squeaky clean as she thinks she was? Could it be that she herself is hiding the biggest secret of all? Can Liz discover the truth? And if she does, who can she tell? An engrossing, compelling thriller that peels back the layers of small-town life to expose true, ugly, cruel human nature. (from Goodreads)
Liz Valchar dies on her eighteenth birthday. She sees her own body floating in the water, her boots knocking against the side of her boat, the Elizabeth. Her death seems like an accident – she was drunk, so it’s not unlikely that she stumbled and fell off the boat into the sea. But if it were an accident…why is Liz still here? And why can’t she remember about her life before she died? In a ghostly form no-one can see or hear, Liz and the ghost of Alex, a boy who died a year earlier, have to figure out why they are connected in death when they were so very different in life. Liz was the popular girl. Alex was a nobody. Yet it seems something has brought them together to solve the mysteries of their deaths. As they both watch over the events that unfold after Liz’s death, sinister secrets are uncovered, and Liz begins to realise that everyone seems to be hiding something – even the people she thought were her friends. What really happened the night she died? And more importantly – why?
Between was a book I thought about long after I finished reading. Though the main character Liz was dead throughout, it was mostly a book about life. To start with, Liz was a very unlikeable character. She was arrogant and rude and generally thought she was better than other people – especially Alex, who she didn’t even want to speak to at the beginning. As the story went on however, I realised that Liz couldn’t just be described as impolite and obnoxious. She was more than that; her life much more complex. From experiencing forgotten memories, from listening to Alex and from witnessing the effect her death had on everyone, Liz began to understand that she wasn’t as great as she thought she was. That not everyone thought in her way, or liked her as much as she believed they did. I wanted to know why Liz was the way she was, and by the end of the book, I found out. I could definitely relate to her a bit more, because while she was dead, I think she really learnt just how many mistakes she made when she was alive. She did some stupid things, some selfish things and some downright terrible things I don’t know I can forgive her for. And the fact that she couldn’t do anything to help while she was dead really got to her. Even when she discovered some horrible things her friends her done, her attitude to them didn’t change all too much, because I think when she died, she realised how much she appreciated them and how much she took them for granted. I felt Liz found out more about her life while she was dead than while she was actually living it.
Alex was probably my favourite character. He was all alone when he died, so he didn’t have much patience for Liz’s theatrics when they first met. He didn’t like Liz at all to begin with and he called her out on all the stupid or petty things she did, which I thought was great because it helped her grow as a character. I think the way their friendship developed was brilliant and I really enjoyed seeing them accept each other and become closer. I also loved finding out about Alex’s life – he was very reluctant to share any memories with Liz, so when he did, it was really interesting to see things from his point of view. I’m glad he got to find out more about Liz, and though I think his death was so awful and unfair, I’m happy with the way things turned out for him.
The minor characters were all relevant to plot; they all had imperfections but I think it’s the imperfections that made the story happen. Richie was Liz’s boyfriend – he was into drugs, but he seemed kind-hearted and really cared about Liz. I didn’t really know whether to like him or not (the whole thing with Josie – Liz’s stepsister – was really messed up), but it was interesting to see how he coped after Liz died. Josie was a character I really did not like from the beginning. She always seemed so false to me, whenever she was being kind or helpful, and I just couldn’t understand why Liz loved her so much, or why she seemed to have so many friends. Her role was an important one though, and I found myself curious about her in every scene she was in, mostly because I never knew what she was really thinking.
Plot-wise, I really enjoyed the mystery and I thought the way it played out was pretty exciting. I sort of guessed the way Liz died in the end, but there was one plot-twist I did not see coming! Between was definitely one of those books that made you feel a range of emotions. It covered various serious issues (there was some pretty heavy emphasis on eating disorders), and there was also a lot of casual drug use, so I would say this book is for ages 14 and up.
Overall, I really enjoyed Between. It wasn’t your usual YA; it wasn’t about a girl and a boy, or forbidden love or anything like that, but more a story where the characters learn to find themselves and also forgive themselves. Highly recommended!
Thanks, Liz! Thanks to Egmont, we have 5 copies of Between to giveaway to Bookbabblers now! To be entered into the draw, comment on this post or retweet it, and we’ll pick 5 winners at 7pm Sunday (UK only) – good luck!
Today we have a real treat for our Between fans. Jessica Warman has written us a spin off piece, so enjoy….!
The airport was a madhouse. It was December 27, so this was no real surprise, but Caroline Michaels had somehow convinced herself that it wouldn’t be so bad this year. She was wrong. It took an hour and fifteen minutes just to get her boarding pass. When she finally reached her gate, they were already boarding the plane.
Her seat assignment was all the way in the back. For a few brief, hopeful moments, she thought the seat beside her might be unoccupied. But at the last second, a frazzled-looking young woman hurried down the aisle, her gaze trained at the empty spot directly beside Caroline. And it got worse: the woman was carrying a baby. It wasn’t that Caroline didn’t like children; it was just that she didn’t like being crammed into a tiny aircraft with a hundred strangers at 30,000 feet, especially when the tiny person directly beside her could very easily scream for the entire trip, or puke on her, or both.
Caroline didn’t normally enjoy talking to people on airplanes. But she felt sorry for this woman, who was obviously overwhelmed to be traveling alone. Besides, it was a short flight. What was the harm in chatting for an hour or so?
“Were you visiting family in the city?” She asked, closing her magazine.
The woman nodded. Her baby was sleeping for the moment. “Sort of. We spent Christmas at my in-laws’ in Connecticut. My husband had to take a later flight.”
“What town? I’m from Connecticut, too.” She hesitated. “I’m Caroline, by the way.”
“I’m Hallie.” They shook hands around the baby, who didn’t stir.
“I’m sure you’ve never heard of it,” Hallie continued. “It’s a little town called Noank.”
Caroline’s eyes widened. “You’re kidding, right? I’m from Noank.”
Hallie laughed. “Get out.”
“I’m serious. Born and raised. You said your husband’s parents live there?”
“Yes.” She paused. “Maybe you know them? Claire and Steven Wilson?”
Caroline almost choked on her gum. “Richie’s parents? You’re married to Richie Wilson?”
Hallie grinned, her cheeks flushing. “Yep, sure am. Did you go to high school with him?”
“Well, yeah. We were friends, too. Wow… Richie Wilson. What’s he doing with himself nowadays?”
Caroline listened as Hallie told her all about Richie’s adult life: He was a high school English teacher. He and Hallie had been married for almost five years. They’d met in college. Caroline didn’t even realize that Richie had gone to college; he’d just sort of disappeared right after graduation. Of course, he had his reasons for not keeping in touch – they all did. But Caroline didn’t think now was the most appropriate time to dredge up the nightmare that had caused their group to scatter so many years ago, each of them trying to find some way to forget what had happened to the Valchar family. Instead, she made polite, superficial conversation with Hallie for the rest of the flight. She even wrote down her phone number and email address for Hallie to pass along to Richie, despite her certainty that he would never try to get in touch.
The baby finally woke up when the plane landed. She immediately started to cry.
“Well… it was nice meeting you.” Hallie flashed one last smile. “I’m sure Richie will be in touch.”
Right, Caroline thought. “Nice to meet you, too,” she said. And she shifted her attention to the baby, giving her a little wave. “It was nice meeting you – oh, you never told me her name.”
Hallie hesitated. It was only a slight pause, but Caroline felt it.
“This is Elizabeth.”
Thanks, Jessica! Remember, Between’s out this month, and we’ll soon be bringing you our review of it & a fab giveaway!
Today we hear from our author in residence, Jessica Warman…
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m 30 years old. I’ve been married for 10 years, and we have two daughters, ages 4 and 6. I am a terrible homemaker; I can’t cook at all, I’m lousy at doing laundry (imagine a lot of bleeding colors and shrinking), and I don’t even attempt to do any ironing. I love ice cream; I eat it every single day, always with sprinkles on top, and I don’t feel a bit guilty. (Life is short! If I want ice cream, I’m going to eat ice cream!) I’m an odd kind of introvert: I really enjoy social situations, but they leave me emotionally exhausted, and it often takes me a day or two to fully recover. Outside of part-time work in college, I’ve never had a job aside from writing. I would love to own an enormous, slobbery dog (preferably a Saint Bernard, which I would name Marcellus), but my husband won’t stand for it. I don’t think skinny jeans look good on anyone.
Who were your favourite authors when you were younger?
As a kid, I was absolutely OBSESSED with Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitter’s Club series. I belonged to the fan club and everything; I think I still have my BSC sleeping bag and matching pillowcase stashed away somewhere. I also LOVED Roald Dahl – I used to read “Matilda” over and over again. When I got a bit older, I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on. YA literature wasn’t nearly as big when I was a teen as it is now, so there were way fewer choices – I mostly read the classics. JD Salinger was my favorite writer for years; I think I’ve read “Catcher in the Rye” at least 20 times. I fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school when I read “The Great Gatsby,” which remains my all-time favorite love story. Hemingway was (and still is) a favorite of mine, especially his short stories (specifically “Hills Like White Elephants” and “Indian Camp”). And I think every teen should read “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s magical.
Tell us about Between
BETWEEN tells the story of Liz Valchar, a spoiled, pretty, popular girl who somehow ends up dead on her 18th birthday. She is joined in the afterlife by Alex Berg, another boy from her high school who was killed a year earlier, and whose death remains a mystery. Though they weren’t friends in life, the two of them form a strong bond as they are forced to work together to uncover the circumstances that led to their deaths.
What are you working on now?
I’m in the process of revising my fourth novel, which doesn’t have a title yet. It’s a thriller about identical twin sisters with a unique bond. When one of them disappears, it is up to her remaining twin to figure out what happened. The book will be out next year, and I’m REALLY excited about it – I’ve had such a blast writing it, and I can’t wait to see how readers respond!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Everything! I absolutely love my job. I feel so lucky that I get to do what I love for a living. I think the best part of the writing process is when I become so totally engrossed in a project that I can’t think about anything else. I love getting up in the morning and starting to write, only to realize later that four or five hours have passed in a blink. I love getting to know my characters inside and out, learning all the details of their lives and histories, even if those facts don’t end up making it into the book. I really enjoy all the other aspects of my job, too – going to conferences and interacting with other writers and readers, responding to emails I receive from fans – it’s all wonderful. I never wanted to be anything besides a writer, and the fact that I’m actually able to do it is a dream come true.
What do you get up to when you’re not writing?
I read a LOT. It’s definitely my main form of entertainment – we don’t even have cable television in our house. My life is really pretty busy with writing, promotion, and taking care of my kids, but I always make time to go running. I’m a distance runner, and it is an absolute passion of mine. Running is like meditation; it calms your mind and dissolves stress like nothing else that I know of. Aside from those things… well, I can tell you that I’m a beer lover. But not in an excessive way – I love good, strong craft beers with complex flavor, the kind of beers that you drink slowly in order to savor every last sip. To me, the alcohol content is quite secondary; I drink beer because it’s delicious, not because I want to get drunk. Aside from all that, I don’t do much else – I don’t really have time!
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview! It was fun!
Jessica’s book, Between, is out this month, and here for you to buy now…
It’s October, and we have a new author in residence with us – welcome to Jessica Warman! We’ll soon be bringing you our Q&A with Jessica, a guest post and review of her new book, Between, and a giveaway! Watch this space…
In the meantime, Jessica shares with us her 5 favourite reads…
5. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
This is probably my favorite Vonnegut novel – which is saying a lot, because they’re all incredible. The writing style is unique and incredible; it’s casual and hilarious and profound all at once. The book is an easy read on the surface, but there’s so much more going on: insights about everything from religion and spirituality, to human nature, to the question of whether or not evil actually exists… I could go on and on. I loved every last word.
4. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
I’ve read this book probably two dozen times at least. For years it was my all-time favorite. While its place on my list has slipped a bit, I still think it’s a great example of masterful characterization and voice. Holden Caulfield will always have a special place in my heart.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is a magical, heartbreaking book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. If you don’t know what it’s about, I won’t ruin it for you, but I will say that it’s the kind of book that has the power to change the way a person looks at the world.
2. FRACTURE by Megan Miranda
I just read this a few weeks ago, thanks to an advance copy from my publisher; the book doesn’t come out until January 2012. This is Megan Miranda’s first novel, and it is a gorgeous book. The story is fascinating, the writing is beautiful, and the characters are incredibly well-drawn. There were so many instances while reading this when I could easily picture the scenes unfolding in my mind. Maybe my favorite YA of all time.
1. Everything that has ever been written by David Foster Wallace (His books include A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, Broom of the System, Girl with Curious Hair, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Infinite Jest.)
David Foster Wallace’s books are thick and difficult and definitely intended for adults, but regardless of your age, it’s a name I think you should be familiar with. Wallace, who died a few years ago, was the most gifted writer of the past hundred years. I realize that’s only my opinion, but it’s also the opinion of plenty of other people who have fallen (hopelessly, deeply) in love with the way he was able to arrange words into sentences into books in a way that I honestly didn’t think was possible prior to reading his work. It’s simply magical. Wallace had the ability to see into every part of the core of human nature and deconstruct it, making sense of humanity’s idiosyncrasies with such ease that his observations somehow seem like they should be obvious. They’re not; I say this because no other writer (who I know of) exists who is able to interpret the essence of reality with the same agility. His books are not easy reading by any means, but they’re worth every ounce of effort.
There’s just no possible way for me to choose only one of his books for the top position on this list. Truth be told, if I were being completely honest, the entire list would have been comprised of Wallace books. They are unflinchingly honest, tragic and hilarious all at once, and by far the most cerebrally engaging writing that I’ve ever read in my life. He gave this world an incredible gift, and the idea that he’s no longer here to share his thoughts with the world makes me feel incredibly sad – not only for him, and for myself, but for all of humanity for the rest of time. When I think of the phrase “literary genius,” his is the first and only name that comes to mind. His work makes everything else that has ever been published seem like it was written by a group of monkeys in a room full of typewriters. And the monkeys are wearing blindfolds, and they’ve been drinking margaritas all day long, and they’re typing using only their toes.
Read his books. They will enrich your life in more ways than you ever thought possible.
Thanks, Jessica! You can find out more about Jessica at her website here.