Book Review: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Book Review

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!
With the additional downtime the stay at home orders and my furlough have given me, I was able to read both of the books in Gayle Forman’s young adult If I Stay series. I don’t know if I have ever read an entire series of books back to back, but I am glad I read these books that way. Her characters were very engaging so I had to find out what happened in their story. Since I was in marching and concert band in middle school and high school, I enjoyed the focus on music and what it meant to the story.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Titles
If I Stay and Where She Went

Gayle Forman

Type of Books
Young Adult Fiction

Gayle Forman began her writing career writing articles for Seventeen magazine about young people and social concerns. If I stay and Where She Went are the two books in If I Stay series written by Forman. If I Stay was published in 2009 and Where She Went was published in 2010. She was inspired by an actual accident that killed an entire family. She asked herself what would happen if one survived, and that is the basis of the story. One of the main characters, Mia Hall, is a cellist. As she wrote her novel, she was inspired by the life and work of world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, and makes him Mia’s musical idol.

Summary of the books
If I Stay is the first book in the series. In the story, Mia and Adam Wilde meet at school and start dating. They are both involved in music programs, which becomes their common bond. One day when Mia’s family decides to go for a family drive on an unplanned snow day from school, her family is involved in an automobile accident which kills her mom, dad and eight-year-old brother. It leaves her in grave condition and battling for her life. Throughout the rest of the story, we are in Mia’s head as she decides whether she will stay (live) or go (die). We find out at the end, which way she decides.

The second book in the series is Where She Went. The story starts up three years later and is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view. We find out what both characters have been up to since the end of If I Stay and what happens to make them cross paths in New York City.

Reaction to the books
I really enjoyed reading both books. I had a hard time putting either one of them down. I am glad I was able to read both books in one sitting (which wound up being about a week). It gave me a really neat experience to read their whole story. Forman presents characters who are easy to relate to and engage with. I also like how she had a different character tell the story from their point of view in each of the two books. I would definitely recommend the books for a young adult reader or one who enjoys young adult novels.

Link to Yo-Yo Ma
As I was writing this review, I was interested in the fact that Gayle Forman was inspired by Yo-Yo Ma and used his persona as Mia’s idol. As I was sitting down to start writing this review, I came across Yo-Yo Ma‘s Facebook page and am now following it. I did a search on You Tube and came across a PBS News Hour interview that Yo-Yo Ma recently did about a program he started called Songs of Comfort. Here’s a link to that interview Songs of Comfort PBS News Hour (3/18/20)

He says music is for everyone. Finding the needs in others and representing them has become his voice amid our current global crisis. Follow his hash tag #SongsofComfort

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about Gayle Forman, here is a link to her website Gayle Forman

Links to the books
If you want to purchase either one of these books, here is a link to Amazon. If I Stay and Where She Went

They also sell this series as a set, which is available on Amazon as well. If I Stay and Where She Went book set

How did the week go for you? For me, being on furlough meant I could watch a couple of webinars, read a few more books and work on the writing side of my life. It also allowed me to be able to pause and let some of the stress roll off of me from the crazy stressful lifestyle I was leading before. You don’t realize how crazy things are until you take a break from it, either voluntarily or through something like a furlough. Yo-Yo Ma was able to find a new voice for his music through this pause. Are you finding something changing for you? Or, has this pause helped you find a new habit? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Book Review – Honeysuckle Holiday by Kathleen M. Jacobs

Book Review

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

As an author who writes young adult fiction, I am always up for reading a young adult novel from a fellow author. When this book was suggested to me, the title, Honeysuckle Holiday was definitely intriguing. I turned the book over to the back cover, like most people do, to find out what it was about. As I was reading it, I was drawn into the fact that the story was being told by a teenage girl from the south during a time of great racial tension.

Selma’s Book Review


Book TitleHoneysuckle Holiday

Honeysuckle Holiday


Kathleen M. Jacobs

Type of Book

Young Adult Fiction


This is Kathleen M. Jacobs first young adult novel. After reading through her author bio on her website, it became clear where the inspiration for this story came from. With her favorite book being To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and making a move to rural West Virginia as a teenager, Jacobs writes this young adult novel flavored with two things which are personally important to her.

Summary of the story

Lucy is a spirited teenager growing up in the late 1960s. She is the middle child in a middle class family in Memphis, TN. With the racial tensions of the time, her father gets  involved in an incident which leads to the unravelling of his marriage and family. Their mother, not wanting to worry her daughters, doesn’t tell them what their father had done. As the story progresses, Lucy and her sister Caroline, find clues to the story of what happened to their dad. And they learn a more about how they feel about themselves and others who may be different from them.

Reactions to the book

It was a good read. I liked the coming of age theme and engaging characters. I loved how the girls worked together to try to figure out why their dad went away. Reminded me of playing Nancy Drew when I was their age. Jacobs even mentions that Caroline liked to read those books. The author does a great job with setting by bringing historical themes from the 1960s and 1970s into the story. Made it easy to imagine what was going on in the story relative to the time period.

I think it would be a great read for any young adult reader. With February being African-American History Month, this would be a good read with the topic of racial relations in the south being addressed.

If you interested in learning more about the author, you can find out information about her at Kathleen M. Jacobs

If you are looking for a copy of the book, here is a link to it on Honeysuckle Holiday

Have a great week!

Teen/Young Adult e-book free this weekend!

Peer pressure doesn’t have to win. Learn from Paul’s mistake in The Hard Way, go with your gut and do what you feel is right instead of getting involved with a crowd going the wrong way.

Be sure to pick up your e-book copy of The Hard Way for free this weekend through Cyber Monday.

The Hard Way Thumbnail

The Hard Way

$.99 E-book Book Sale! Today through Saturday

My first book, The Hard Way! Here is a little description…

Before starting his freshman year of high school, Paul Jones’ best friend moves away. He meets Anik Hatcher and starts hanging out with his friends who like to cause trouble around the city. What they do at the Homecoming football game, pressures Paul to become a key player in their most harmful prank yet. He learns the hard way that choosing friends and making decisions, good or bad, have consequences that could change his life.


Have you gotten a copy of The Hard Way yet? Check out now through August 25th and pick up a $.99 ebook copy. Here is a link to it.

The Hard Way on

And be sure to check out the Facebook Event that I will be involved in tonight at 7:00 PM eastern. It is an author takeover. I will be taking an hour to promote The Hard Way and get my name out there. It is a week long event with many YA authors (ones that write for the Young Adult Genre). Be sure and stop by and follow the thread and make a comment!

The Facebook event is called I <3 YA Books August 2018. The time slot is currently listed under the name of Sharon McAleer.