“Not After Everything”–Review and Q & A

NAE-Book-iPadA gritty but hopeful love story about seizing the present, healing from the past, and embracing the future.

The main character is Tyler Blackwell, a senior in high school.  So far, everything is going well for him.  He has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and an army of friends on his side.  Unfortunately, after his mom commits suicide, Tyler lets it all go, his future remaining bleak.  Not only is Tyler left to deal with his grief, every day he tries to dodge his drunken father who is verbally and physically abusive.  To top it off, his father refuses to support him, financially.

Since he’s in desperate need of money, Tyler takes on a new job at a photography studio, working alongside his former childhood friend, Jordyn, who’s now an angry-loner goth-girl.  As they get to know each other more, Tyler is unexpectedly provided reprieve from his chaotic world.  Because of it, he realizes he’s also falling for Jordyn.  However, when his father’s brutally unpredictable behavior shows more and more, Tyler is afraid that he’ll end up bringing Jordyn into his violent home.  But he has to make a choice: will he allow Jordyn to show him the path to a better future, or will he just let his current struggles destroy him?

I’ve read a few YA novels that had some good stories, but Not After Everything was definitely worth the read, in my opinion.  During some scenes, I was close to shedding a tear.  I shook my head in sympathy and thought about others who really can relate to this story.

As always, feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

About the author: Michelle Levy is from Denver, Colorado, and now lives in Los Angeles, California, where she works as a casting director for film and television on projects such as Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Bruce Almighty, and more.  Not After Everything is her debut novel.  For more on the author, click here.

My Q & A with Michelle Levy

  • Congratulations on your debut novel, Not After Everything.  Was this a project you’ve had in mind for some time?  Is the story, including the main character, Tyler Blackwell, based on events you know or know of?

M: Thank you! It actually wasn’t something I had in mind until it came to me. I was in the shower—where we all do our best thinking, right?—when I “heard” some dialog between this very angry golden boy and his former best friend and I just kind of let the characters guide me from there.

  • This story was a page-turner for me.  In fact, certain scenes had me shaking my head in sympathy.  I don’t want to spoil anything for those who’ve not yet read your novel, so I’ll ask about the scenes with Tyler and his father.  Were they difficult for you to write?

M: My writing style is sort of like method acting, where I try to really become the character. Those scenes were extremely painful to write. There was crying involved.

  • On your website, although you pursued a career in film and television, you’ve expressed your wanting to be a writer.  Are there any stories you’ve written in the past? What are your writing interests?

M: I never really admitted, to myself even, that I really wanted to be a writer until after I finished my first manuscript. I was thirty-two. And even then I had a hard time owning that title—writer—until my book sold. It just seemed like something people much smarter than I were. How could I be one? Ah, good old self-doubt.

Not After Everything was my fifth completed manuscript. The other four were paranormal and urban fantasy, which I still really love writing. I’m just such a fan of the what if; I hope to go back to writing that someday. I also really enjoy exploring psychology and psychological disorders.

  • Do you have favorite authors who’ve motivated your writing this book?

M: I was probably subconsciously motivated by my favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye. That book just really spoke to me. I remember reading it in ninth grade and thinking this is how I think! This is my inner voice! I don’t know what that says about me. :/ I was also inspired by The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (I absolutely heart Sutter Keely!), Forgive me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Looking For Alaska by John Green, and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

  • Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

M: Don’t be afraid to write a bad first draft! I’m a fast drafter, and let me tell you, those first drafts aren’t pretty. But my feeling is that if you word vomit the story out, just finish it and get it all on the page, you then have something to mold into a beautiful work of art. The biggest thing I hear from other writers is that they have a hard time finishing anything. I’ll bet it’s because they’re being hard on themselves and editing as they go. Some days you hate your writing and some days you think you’re Shakespeare. If you’re having a hate-your-writing day and get discouraged in the middle of a story, there’s no wonder why you want to put it away. That’s why I word vomit. I don’t give myself a chance to hate my stuff until I’m revising. It’s harder to give up on a finished draft.

  • Will there be another novel?

M: Many, I hope! I’m working on another contemporary novel now, but I have no official news to share at the moment. Keep an eye out for updates. Hopefully soon!


“The Little Paris Bookshop”–A Review

51Vu-F8bxOL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_A warm and charming tale of love, loss, and the power of reading.

Book lovers from near and far know that the best medicine is great literature.  Having a “literary pharmacist” to turn to is a plus.  That’s where Monsieur Perdu comes in.  Perdu considers himself the literary apothecary.  From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, Perdu prescribes particular books for times of hardships.  He knows how to mend broken hearts and souls with the right books for his customers.  Although he knows how to heal others, Perdu can’t seem to heal himself through literature.

After 20 years since his true love vanished from his life, Perdu is left with his grief, regrets, and the unopened letter his love left him.  When he’s finally ready to read the letter, he drops everything and heads out on a mission south of France, in hopes he’ll finally be able to make peace with his loss and to be happy again.  Accompanying him on his journey is Max Jordan, a bestselling author who also is battling his personal demons, and Salvo Cuneo, a lovelorn Italian chef who also is searching for his happiness.

This book is definitely worth the read.  The writing, itself, was excellent.  What I liked was that, after 20 years of grief, Perdu realizes he’s had enough of staying within his comfort zone and just takes off.  He was tired of feeling sorry for himself, blaming himself, and letting life pass him by.  He was finally able to see parts of the world of which he never dreamed.  He realized, while he could still show the literary world the power of books, it wasn’t too late to help himself.

As always, feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

About the author: Nina George is a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher.  She also writes science thrillers, novels, feature articles, short stories, and columns.  The Little Paris Bookshop was on the bestseller lists in Germany for more than a year, and was a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands.  George is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Hamburg and in Brittany, France.

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

“A Madness So Discreet”–A Review

MadnessSoDiscreetCOVERUSEThe author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust introduces a new, historical thriller that explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, and good and evil.

Locked up in a Boston insane asylum, Grace Mae is not only trapped within the walls of her prison, she is trapped with horrific family secrets, including the bulge in her belly, that she desperately wants to forget.  Desperate to keep it all in the dark, Grace remains mute.  No one’s ever heard her speak, let alone know her entire story.  During an act of violence, she is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is eventually discovered by Dr. Thornhollow, a visiting doctor who also studies criminal psychology.  When he discovers Grace’s keen eyes and sharp memory, Dr. Thornhollow makes Grace his assistant at a crime scene.  With the doctor’s help, Grace escapes the asylum and finds solace, friendship, and hope in an ethical asylum in Ohio.  However, Grace and Dr. Thornhollow work nighttime crime scenes of a killer who stalks random women.  While she continues to stay in character as a mad patient during the investigations, Grace realizes that she still has her own demons to battle in order to make peace with her life.

Of course, I won’t spoil anything; however, I will say that, although I wasn’t too fond of the ending, I really did like the story.  In fact, I believe this is my first historical novel.  The dialogue was excellent, including the writing.  Honestly, I loved the way the characters spoke. The cover also caught my attention.  This is actually my first Mindy McGinnis novel.  Again, I was hoping for a little more toward the end, but the plot, itself, was great.  Perhaps you’ll enjoy the book, which is also recommended for fans of YA and psychological thrillers.

A Madness So Discreet will be available on October 6, 2015.

About the author: Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio.  You can find her online or on Facebook and Twitter: @MindyMcGinnis.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this Advance Reader’s Edition from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.