Book Tour, Reviews

The How and the Why ( + Giveaway!)

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

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I don’t pick up YA contemporary as often as I pick up other genre’s— this year I’ve read a lot of it though, and The How and the Why has been one of the high points throughout that journey.

The How and the Why by Cynthia hand is, at its heart, a story about love, family, and hope. I loved so many things about this book.

First and foremost, this is an emotional book in the best of ways. I am an emotional reader, I tend to read with my heart first and this book took that and tugged me along by the heartstrings again and again. The way Hand writes emotion is also notable too, she does such a good job of writing about the way something feels. Unlike many others who fall into familiar metaphor, I felt the characters emotions because the description was subtle but so accurate and insightful. I felt for these characters, I felt with these characters.

This book also uses alternating storylines that are set in different times, which I thought was a masterful decision for this book. One timeline follows our main character, Cass, as she struggles through her Senior Year in High School, and the other follows Cass’ birth mother while she was pregnant, writing a series of letters to her daughter. The effect was compelling, kept me reading long into the night, and brought on laughs and tears alike.

Lastly, I really liked the characters in this book. They felt real and whole, lived in and alive, and so relatable. Cass herself is a theatre kid at her High School, which I loved. I was also a theatre kid, and all the funny and relatable experiences she goes through, as both a student and theatre nerd, brought me back to all those years of being a theatre nerd myself.

The How and the Why was beautiful, relatable, endlessly readable, and heartbreaking in the best of ways. If you read with your heart and love to love the characters on the page, do yourself a favor and don’t miss this wholehearted, authentic little gem of a debut.


Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novels THE HOW AND THE WHY and MY CALAMITY JANE (also with Ashton and Meadows). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two cats, one crazy dog, two kids, and mountain of books.

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Enter to win 1 of 2 copies of The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 11/13/2019.

Enter through this Rafflecopter form and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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Thanks so much for stopping by! See you tomorrow! x

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Writing

My Favorite Writing Advice, from Authors You Know

Some of you may not know that today is, in fact, a very important day: It’s the start of National Novel Writing Month! Or NaNoWriMo to all of us “Wrimos” out here. I haven’t participated in years, but I used to religiously and this year I am going to take a crack at it again.

I have always loved to write. Ever since I was a kid, that was the dream job, the dream activity, the dream thing to be doing during class when I was supposed to be learning something else…you get it. Writing, as an art form, has always captured me, and this year I’d like to focus a little more on that magic again.

For any of you other writers out there, “Wrimos” or not, these tips are for you. x


Read, Before You Write

“Read, read, read. Read everything: trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentic and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” ― William Faulkner, author of The Sound and the Fury.

“If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ― Stephen King, author of The Shining.

Listen to the Stories People Care About

“Whenever I’m asked what advice I have for young writers, I always say that the first thing is to read, and to read a lot. The second thing is to write. And the third thing, which I think is absolutely vital, is to tell stories and listen closely to the stories you’re being told.” ― John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars.

Take a Map With You

“I don’t outline, because I don’t want to have to follow a plan. But I do need SOME sense of direction, so I use what I call my skeleton. It’s my first scene, climactic scene, last scene and first line. I don’t start until I have them in place. Often they will change over the course of a first draft, but it gets me there.” ― Sarah Dessen, author of The Truth About Forever.

Make Time for Your Writing

“Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” ― Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth.

Just Write, No Tricks

“Let go of the idea that you can somehow outsmart a first draft. Because I have never met anybody who can.” ― Leigh Bardugo, author of Six of Crows.

“You can fix anything but a blank page.” ― Nora Roberts, author of more than 200 bestselling novels. (also, omfg wow.)

“Write fast, edit slow. Get your first draft out quickly. Don’t look back, don’t correct anything, just keep going. Even if it’s a terrible mess in the end, it’s done! And that’s the hardest part. You then have all the time in the world to make it better.” ― Lauren Gibaldi, author of The Night We Said Yes.

Write What’s True to You

“You know that old piece of advice: ‘Write what you know’? It doesn’t mean write about a young person who likes to write. It doesn’t mean write about your school, or your neighborhood, or your community. It means: write what you know is emotionally true. You can write about Mars. You can write about werewolves. You can write about medieval knights. You just have to understand the emotional truths of your story.” ― E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.

Don’t Write “Alone”

“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.” ― James Patterson, author of Along Came a Spider.

“Once my characters start talking, then I know that I really know who they are. My favorite way to see if dialogue is authentic is to read it out loud and act out the characters. Luckily I’m alone at my desk (most of the time). If I’m writing in a café, I have to be very subtle and sort of mutter to myself.” ― Carolyn Mackler, author of Infinite in Between.

Enjoy the Process

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” ― Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Take Advice, but Trust Yourself

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ― Neil Gaiman, co-author of Good Omens.

Learn to Let go

“It’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.” ― Tina Fey, author of Bossypants.

Ignore All of These Tips

“Be skeptical of writing tips. There is no one right way to write a book. No one has ever had your voice before or had your story to tell, so find what works for you. Put one word after another, one scene after another; meet your word count or ignore a word count all together. Let your characters spark off each other or make them ignite (perhaps by following an outline or just adding dragons?). Give yourself permission to suck, but keep writing. The worst book you ever write will be better than the best book you never write. There really is no other magic than this: write the book you want to exist, the book that burns you up inside and that no one but you can write. Write one word at a time until you get the end. Then revise the hell out of it.” ― Alex London, author of Proxy


Happy reading and writing, all!

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Let’s be Wrimo buddies!