Tag Archives: my last kiss

90 Second Reads!

27 Aug
All four authors: Gae Polisner, Bethany Neal, Lara Zielin, & Carrie Harris.

All four authors at 90 Second Reads: Gae Polisner, Bethany Neal, Lara Zielin, & Carrie Harris.

On Tuesday, August 19 I attended a FANTASTIC author event at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. This event featured four amazing YA authors: Gae Polisner, Carrie Harris, Bethany Neal, and Lara Zielin.  The premise was that each author would read four selections from her book: the beginning, something romantic, something heartbreaking, and something funny.  Each selection could not be longer than 90 seconds.  In fact, Gae chose a timer from the audience who had a bell to ring if and when the authors went over.  I absolutely loved this event!

Gae Polisner shares a funny part from her novel The Summer of Letting Go.

Gae Polisner shares a funny part from her novel The Summer of Letting Go.

Gae read from her novel The Summer of Letting Go Bethany read from her debut novel My Last KissCarrie read from her latest novel Demon DerbyLara read from her book Donut Days.  Gae told the story of why she began 90 second reads.  When her first novel The Pull of Gravity came out, she was part of an author reading.  She was told should would have only about 4 minutes to read.  She practiced and planned a reading that fit that time period – only to discover the other authors had readings much, much longer than that.  So, her 90 second reads idea does in fact stick to 90 seconds.  There was quite a bit of suspense as we all wondered if and when that bell would ring.

Bethany Neal reads her "swoon moment" from My Last Kiss.

Bethany Neal reads her “swoon moment” from My Last Kiss.

It was so fun listening to the authors read their own words.  The beginning of each book was captivating.  The romantic parts, especially Bethany’s, captured the audience.  Each heartbreaking part was truly heartbreaking.  The wording in Carrie Harris’s piece is still on my mind.  And all the authors had me laughing with their funny parts.  I absolutely loved this format, and a couple of us at the event were thinking of how we could use this in our classrooms.

Lara Zielin makes us laugh with a passage from Donut Days.

Lara Zielin makes us laugh with a passage from Donut Days.

 The ladies signed books for all of us in attendance afterwards.  I brought in my own copies of The Summer of Letting Go and My Last Kiss to be signed as well as purchased Carrie’s first book Bad Taste in Boys and Lara’s second book The Waiting Sky to add to my library.  I appreciated the opportunity to chat with Bethany about her book and my feeling towards some of the characters.  I also loved meeting Lara for the first time and talking with her as well.  It was great to meet Carrie as well after hearing so much about her from my friend Beth.  I can’t wait to share these books with my students.


It was also an added bonus to finally meet Gae in person.  Sarah connected me with Gae three years ago when she told me about The Pull of Gravity to tie into Of Mice and Men.  Gae has Skyped with my students twice and has sent me tons of sawg (including the infamous SWAG crown!).  I am so happy we finally met face-to-face and got to spend some time together.

Gae and I sharing a hug at the end of the night.

Gae and I sharing a hug at the end of the night.

Overall, it was an excellent night with great friends and authors.  I hope to have the opportunity to experience other nights like this in the future. 


My Last Kiss: A Review

22 Jul

Title: My Last Kiss

Author: Bethany Neal

Format: Personal purchase hardcover

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss–the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died–is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made–good and bad–that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal’s suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

I actually got to meet Bethany through a friend at an author event earlier this year that we had both attended. I was very bummed that due to a crazy schedule, I did not get to go to the release event for My Last Kiss. However, as soon as I had my birthday gift cards in hand, My Last Kiss was the first book I grabbed off the shelf at the bookstore.  I finished it in two days.

The very first page pulled me in Cassidy’s story.  My Last Kiss begins just as Cassidy realizes she has died – though it takes her some time to accept she is dead and learn what exactly that all means.  She has no memory of not only the night she died, but the weeks leading up to it as well.  She tries to figure things out by visiting her family and friends.  Through flashbacks that suck her into those memories and a connection with her boyfriend, Ethan, Cassidy is trying to piece it all together to find out what really happened, who her true friends are, and who is her killer.

I really was intrigued by the flashbacks Cassidy has.  What I found interesting is that they do not come in order.  They alternate between the night of her death and moments from those weeks leading up to her death.  It was an engaging reading experience to be right along with Cassidy as she tries to connect each event to the ones she had before and understand the bigger picture.  I also loved some curve balls thrown into the plot; there were times I thought I knew exactly what had happened only to find out I was pretty wrong.  While I was starting to piece it all together the end, I still was surprised by the whole reveal.

I appreciate how real the characters are, even when dealing with an after death plotline.  The characters are flawed, Cassidy especially.  A number of characters besides Cassidy make decisions that they later regret and have to live with the consequences.  I think there are situations that teens can relate to even with the suspense/mystery added to the characters’ lives.

There were just a few parts, mainly in the beginning, where the plot felt a little “jumpy” and I was confused about what was going on.  However, the suspense kept me in and I wanted to continue reading to know what would happen next. I am definitely looking forward to sharing this title with my students in the new school year.

4/5 stars