Bad Girls With Perfect Faces: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“I didn’t know then what I know now: Be careful when your feelings are too strong, when you love someone too much. A heart too full is like a bomb. One day it will explode.”

cover art for Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn WeingartenSasha always looks out for her best friend Xavier. She’s the one who helped him put the pieces back together after his girlfriend Ivy cheated. She’s the one who dyes his hair. She’s the one who watches documentaries about the ocean and sea life with him.

Sasha is the one who would be perfect for Xavier. She loves him and she would never hurt him the way Ivy did. She’d never lie to him. And she’s just about ready to tell him all of that when Ivy shows up again.

Xavier and Ivy are a toxic combination–something that Xavier fails to remember when they get back together. All Sasha wants to do is protect him and prove once and for all that Ivy is a liar and a cheat.

So she poses as a guy online to attract Ivy.

What starts as a simple scheme to prove Ivy will cheat on Xavier again escalates quickly until the lies and the secrets start to spiral out of control. As Sasha’s plan to pretend to be someone else starts to go terribly wrong, she begins to worry about who she’s becoming in Bad Girls With Perfect Faces (2017) by Lynn Weingarten.

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces is a fascinating thriller that imagines what might happen when a seemingly minor case of catfishing goes horribly wrong. The novel is written in alternating chapters with the majority of the story falling to Sasha’s world-weary narration as she relates the events that blew her world apart. Text messages and other conversations between Sasha’s fake profile guy and Ivy are also interspersed throughout.

I can’t tell you much more about this story without giving something important away except that this is a perfect read-a-like for fans of Gone Girl. Bad Girls With Perfect Faces is a tense, sexy, thriller that promises to take readers on a wild ride from its ominous start to a twisted finish.

Possible Pairings: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre, Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier, Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda, This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BookExpo 2017*

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls: A Review

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn WeingartenJune and Delia used to be friends. Best friends. Even when it felt like their home lives were falling apart, June knew she could count on Delia. She knew their secrets tied them together.

That was a while ago. Over a year. Before June started dating Ryan. Before Delia met Ryan and things got . . . weird.

June hasn’t spoken to Delia since.

Now Delia is dead. Burned to death in her step-father’s shed, they say. Suicide, they say.

June doesn’t believe it.

Certain that Delia was murdered, June sets out to uncover the truth. Instead of easy answers, she finds a complicated  tangle of secrets and lies that will change everything she thought she knew about her best friend in Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls (2015) by Lynn Weingarten.

Find it on Bookshop.

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls is Weingarten’s fourth novel. It is a stand-alone title.

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls is a complicated novel. Weingarten employs varied narrative techniques and format choices throughout to create prose with as many twists as the plot.

Like June herself, readers never know exactly what to expect in this book. The plot is uneasy and often difficult as June unearths raw moments from her past with Delia. This story is partly the postmortem of a friendship with flashbacks and June’s memories detailing how the girls’ friendship began and, later, how it unraveled.

The rest of the novel focuses more closely on June’s investigation of Delia’s death and her increasing questions about what really happened. June is never certain who to trust, lending a sense of uncertainty and unease to a novel where allegiances–and even facts–are constantly shifting.

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls is a solid thriller with moments of genuine suspense, numerous shocks, and a powerful ending that demands to be discussed at length. A must-read for fans of thrillers in general and readers who like a novel that keeps them guessing.

Possible Pairings: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando, Shift by Jennifer Bradbury, With Malice by Eileen Cook, The Devil You Know by Trish Doller, The Graces by Laure Eve, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel, Don’t You Trust Me? by Patrice Kindl, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, Consent by Nancy Ohlin, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield, Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan, Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

*A copy this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2015*

The Book of Love: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Book of Love by Lynn WeingartenNow that Lucy is a Heartbreaker her old life seems very distant. Gone are the days of pining over a boy or being heartbroken. Now thanks to the Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers Lucy’s heart is unbreakable. Her life is glamorous. And Lucy has everything she ever wanted.

At least she thinks she does.

Lucy’s best friend Tristan is still brokenhearted and Lucy isn’t sure she can help him. The glamorous life Lucy thought would be perfect is turning out to be a lot messier than she expected too–especially when the thought of breaking another boy’s heart makes Lucy queasy.

When she and her sisters enter the Breakies–the Heartbreakers annual competition–Lucy hopes they can win and in the process Lucy can find some answers. The problem is Lucy might not be asking the right questions yet in The Book of Love by Lynn Weingarten.

The Book of Love is the sequel to The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakersand completes the Heartbreaker duet.

This book is set about six weeks after the conclusion of book one. Lucy is ostensibly thrilled with her new sisters and her new life as a Heartbreaker. Until she really starts to pay attention anyway.

The story shifts seamlessly as Lucy begins to understand the feelings within her own heart as well as what having an unbreakable heart really means. The story is as fun a blend of contemporary and fantasy elements as the first.

Sadly, in order to focus on romantic elements and the power of other emotions, some of the stronger friendship elements from book one are left to the wayside. One character in particular suffers an especially depressing turnaround (not to mention some character assassination) in the process of becoming this story’s equivalent of the villain. None of which were ideal elements.

That said, this is still an enjoyable story with quite a bit more romance than is found in the first book. The Book of Love also epitomizes what the conclusion to a duet should accomplish. This story builds off the events of The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers to present a new, completely surprising story that expertly completes Lucy’s character arc.

Weingarten once again delivers an unconventional fantasy in The Book of Love–a story that is asmuch about fixing hearts as it is about breaking them.

Possible Pairings:  Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith , Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

Author Interview: Lynn Weingarten on The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers

Lynn Weingarten author photoLynn Weingarten’s clever fantasy The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers came out in 2011. This sly modern fantasy introduces readers to a very unique group of girls who use magic (and sometimes common sense) to break boy’s hearts. Today, Lynn is here to answer some questions about her book.

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Lynn Weingarten (LW): I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. There was a writing program at my elementary school, which I was a part of, where kids wrote stories and submitted them to magazines. I ended up getting one published in a kids writing and art magazine called Stone Soup and I remember being SO EXCITED at the time. I got a free year’s subscription as payment, which was awesome.

I wrote a lot during high school and was part of the school’s literary magazine.  In college, I majored in English and did a concentration in creative writing. Shortly after I graduated, I got a job as an editorial assistant at Alloy Entertainment, which was an amazing job. I worked for and with fantastically smart and creative people from whom I learned a ton.

After about five years there, I left to write full-time.  Right after I left I sent an email to everyone I knew in publishing just letting everyone know what I was doing. Scholastic got in touch and said they were looking to do a book which would come with a little bag of clues, and so I came up with a plot to fit about a girl following clues to try and find her missing sister, and that ended up being Wherever Nina Lies (although by the time the book came out the bag of clues had been replaced with drawings). I signed with my first agent when it was time to negotiate a deal with Scholastic. I knew her because she’d represented a few of the authors I’d edited.

MP: What was the inspiration for The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers?

LW:A friend of mine was reading a non-fiction book targeted at men who wanted to become “pick-up artists”. I read the book too, just because I was curious. And then started thinking about how it would be fun if there were a group of girls who did a similar thing. The SSH grew out of that.

MP: Your debut novel, Wherever Nina Lies, was a mystery with quite a few surprising twists. The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is a fantasy (which still has a few twists to keep readers on their toes). Did moving to a different genre change your writing process or how you approached the story?

LW:I started writing both books with a definite beginning and ending in mind, and knowing a few big plot beats that I wanted to put in the middle of each. With Wherever Nina Lies, I actually stopped writing about a third of the way through, and wrote out a chapter-by-chapter outline for the rest of it (since the twisty turny nature of the thing gave me a lot more to keep track of!). With Secret Sisterhood the process was a little bit looser because there weren’t as many loose ends to tie up (both because it’s not a mystery and because I knew there’d be a second book).

MP: One of my favorite things about this book is the opening. (“In the beginning, there was Lucy Wrenn, standing all alone out in front of her school on the first day of sophomore year, with a seductive little message written on her stomach in Sharpie marker.”) It really sets the tone for the story with the plot to come and also the fairytale quality of your narrative. Did you always know that this would be the opening sentence of the book?

LW:Thank you very much, I’m very glad you like it! I actually didn’t remember, so I poked around in my old emails, and this is what I found. When I first sent the chapters to my then agent, it opened a bit differently (I was planning to write the book in first person at the time):

“In the beginning, there was me.

Or, well, if we’re going to get TECHNICAL about it, before me there were a few thousand years

of other people and before that very hairy cave people who looked sort of like monkeys and before that

very hairy monkeys that looked sort of like people and before that a bunch off other stuff like other

types of monkeys and dinosaurs and whatever.”

And by the time it was on submission, the first sentence was very similar to what ended up in the book, but not identical (the main character was named Rachey, for one thing!).

“In the beginning, there she was, sweet little Rachey Wrenn, standing all alone out in front of her school on the first day of Sophomore year, with a seductive little message written on her stomach in Sharpie marker.”

MP: This story starts when Lucy’s heart is broken and, in trying to win back her ex-boyfriend, she is given the chance to become a Heartbreaker. If you had the chance to become a Heartbreaker in high school would you have taken it? What about now?

LW: Haha, no definitely not. The girls were fun to write about and, hopefully, fun to read about, but in real life, they’d be a terrible group to be a part of.

MP: Olivia, Liza and Gil are the beautiful, mysterious Heartbreakers who approach Lucy to join their sisterhood. Of the three, did you identify more with one Heartbreaker? Was one more fun to write than the others?

LW: I don’t think I identified with one more than the others, and while I enjoyed writing all of them, Liza’s sassiness made her extra fun.

MP: Olivia, Liza and Gil all help Lucy prepare to break her first heart. Part of their training involves magic. But a lot of their advice, such as wearing interesting accessories or never seeming too eager, is more prosaic and generally sound. How did you choose what tips and tricks the Heartbreakers would impart to Lucy throughout the story?

 LW: Some of the tips are just things I’ve noticed myself over the years and I also read a few books.

MP: When you started writing The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers did you know it would be the first in a series? Do you have a set arc in mind for Lucy’s story?

LW:I always knew there were going to be two books and I knew from the start how I wanted book two to end. While I knew the general shape of Lucy’s arc, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get there.

On a related note: From looking at some reviews online, I’ve realized a lot of readers don’t know that there is (and always was) meant to be a sequel. It makes sense of course, since there’s no explicit indication of that in the book (and certainly a certain kind of conclusion is reached at the end of book 1). But in retrospect I wish I’d put TO BE CONTINUED!!! Or something at the end. I think it becomes somewhat of a different book if you think that’s the entire story.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project? (Or just if we’ll be seeing more of Colin in the sequel!)

LW:There’s a bit more Colin and a lot more Tristan in book two. It’s called The Book of Love and will be out in Fall 2013. I’m currently working on a proposal for something new, but it’s too early to say anything because who knows what will happen with it!

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

LW: I know everyone has heard this a million times already, but write a lot and read a lot is pretty much the best writing advice I’ve ever heard. I’d suggest reading a lot in all genres, not just one in which you hope to write. If you’re only reading one genre, say YA books, it’s easy to get stuck writing in a “generic YA voice” or trying to imitate your favorite author without meaning to. And ultimately, writing in your own voice is how you’re going to do your best work. Also, as often as possible, remind yourself that this is fun, even if it doesn’t always feel like that every second. And oh, read Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, because it is amazing.

Thanks again to Lynn Weingarten for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find more information about her books on her website.

If you want to read more about The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers check out my review!

Lynn has also been kind enough to send me some temporary tattoos to give away in tandem with this interview. If you’d like to be entered to win leave a comment below by SEPTEMBER 17, 2012.

Wherever Nina Lies: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn WeingartenEllie’s sister Nina disappeared two years ago.

Ellie isn’t sure who she is or what her life is supposed to be now that she doesn’t have her sister. Beautiful, artistic and a little wild, Nina is everything Ellie could want in an older sister. Ellie can only imagine what it must be like to be that kind of person.

Until Nina is gone. Then Ellie just wants her back. Even if two years later that is seeming less and less likely.

When Ellie finds a drawing that can only have been done by her sister, Ellie knows it’s a sign. Nina is out there somewhere and this is Ellie’s chance to make everything right. If she can follow the clues surely she can find Nina wherever she is and bring her home.

With the help of her mysterious crush, Ellie sets off on a road trip following Nina’s trail. Along the way she’ll meet some unlikely misfits and realize that she might be more like her sister than she thought in Wherever Nina Lies (2009) by Lynn Weingarten.

Wherever Nina Lies is Weingarten’s first novel.

Wherever Nina Lies is a fast-paced mystery that takes readers across the country and on an emotional roller coaster as Ellie unravels the truth about Nina’s disappearance. Weingarten weaves a masterful mystery filled with so many twists and unexpected turns that even when I skimmed ahead I was completely floored by the shocking finish.

In addition to a thrilling, satisfying mystery Wherever Nina Lies is filled with clever characters and exotic locations that bring Ellie’s journey to life. Flashbacks interspersed throughout Ellie’s search add a second dimension to the story as readers get a glimpse of the relationship Ellie and Nina shared as well as Ellie’s regrets when it comes to her sister.

With a unique voice and a tight plot, Wherever Nina Lies is a must read for readers who like a bit of suspense with their road trip adventures.

Possible Pairings: Frost by Marianna Baer, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, The Devil You Know by Trish Doller, The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anna Heltzel, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers: A Valentine’s Day Review

“In the beginning, there was Lucy Wrenn, standing all alone out in front of her school on the first day of sophomore year, with a seductive little message written on her stomach in Sharpie marker.”

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn WeingartenBut it turns out what Lucy saw as the beginning of something much more is actually the end of everything when her boyfriend breaks up with her. Right there. On the first day of school. Even after seeing the message on her stomach.

Lucy doesn’t understand how Alex can suddenly stop loving her this way. She knows her feelings haven’t changed even if her heart is now broken in painful, sad, pieces. She knows she needs to get him back. Even if that seems an impossible feat there in the beginning on that first day.

By the second day, Lucy has a plan. Recruited by three mysterious, beautiful girls at school, Lucy has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If Lucy can make a guy fall in love with her and break his heart in the next week, Lucy can become one of them; a part of their secret sisterhood of heartbreakers.

Suddenly Lucy’s chances of winning back her boyfriend are looking up. The girls offer to help Lucy find the right way to win and break a heart with their own special brand of advice and a little something extra–a little something magical. With that little bit of magic, Lucy won’t need to break a heart at all. She can just win back her boyfriend and have things go back to normal.

The only problem is that nothing about becoming a heartbreaker is normal. Or easy. Some of it isn’t even very nice.

In the beginning Lucy Wrenn had her heart broken. By the end, Lucy Wrenn might not have a broken heart but she also might not recognize herself in The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers (2011) by Lynn Weingarten.

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is Weingarten’s second novel. It is also her first fantasy.

From the very first page, Weingarten creates a compelling narrative voice for the novel with a tone commonly found in fairy tales or folk stories. The prose aptly captures the strange blend of magic and mischief Lucy encounters as she delves into the world of the Heartbreakers.

Despite the pitch perfect voice, some moments in the novel stand out as too crude, too modern, or simply too mean. Breaking hearts is a messy business and leads to some tough decisions for Lucy and some heartless behavior from all of the characters.

While The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is light on the fantasy in some respects (the actual “magic” of being a Heartbreaker comes up more in the second half of the story), this story remains an interesting commentary on what new relationships look like as well as what it really takes to get a guy while staying true to yourself.

Lucy’s transformation throughout the story is handled well and extremely interesting. Though the story is fully resolved many questions about the Heartbreakers’ purpose, the arc of the story, and Lucy herself are left unanswered. With so much world building and setup, readers are definitely left hoping for a sequel to see what becomes of Lucy and her new friends.

Possible Pairings: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith , Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

You can also read my interview with Lynn about this book.