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Page-Turner Thursday – Two Series You May Not Have Read
Oct 18th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

This week’s edition of Page-Turner Thursday is devoted to a few YA series you many not have read, but should:

The Stork Series – Stork, Flock, and Frost by Wendy Delsol

I absolutely love the voice Wendy Delsol gives to her characters. Her novels are beautifully written, incorporating Icelandic folktale blended with modern society. Stork starts out with Katla & her mom in the MN town where Katla’s mom grew up. There, Katla has a special relationship with her grandfather and helps him run his convenience store. It doesn’t take long for extraordinary things to occur, including Katla’s introduction to the ancient Stork Society. And then there’s Jack – certainly not the average smart boy jock. Readers will fall in love with him as much as Katla.

Frost is next. THROW AWAY expectations. I loved this continuation of Wendy Delsol’s Icelandic folktale, bringing to life THE SNOW QUEEN in such a creative and enthralling manner. This novel focuses a lot on Jack, but fans of Jack and his special powers will love it. The integration of the folktale to NOW is totally fascinating to me. Wendy does a wonderful job of intertwining Katla and Jack and those who will stop at next to nothing to keep them apart & use Jack for selfish, evil reasons. Instead of making Katla a whiny, obnoxious character who expects her bf to be at her side all the time, Wendy writes a young woman who exhibits strength, confusion, determination, resilience, maturity. I like that.

Flock is the last novel in the series. Here was my impression: Wendy Delsol’s writing is so lyrical and brilliant. From page one, I was sucked right back into the story of Katya and Jack and a cast of supernatural Nordic mythological characters. I want to assure readers that there is nothing quite like this in the YA market. The entire STORK series will appeal to those who thrive on mythology, love fantasy, love the supernatural, love a good romance, love strong characters set in a believable setting. Norse Falls is such an interesting location that I believe some might be tempted to look it up on Google, just to be certain it’s not real. Let me save you the trouble—it’s not! 🙁
So, relish in these pages, dive into this mythological world of incredible powers and root for Kat as she’s once again put into life and death circumstances.
A note for TEACHERS: The STORK series would lend itself well to ANY mythology unit. Greek and Roman mythology are often covered in school, but Wendy Delsol’s addition with Nordic mythology also will capture students’ imaginations.

For more information about Wendy Delsol and her novels: http://www.wendydelsol.com

Dairy Queen SeriesDairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

The entire Dairy Queen Series had me laughing out loud. Loved the MC, D.J., loved the setting on a Wisconsin farm. D.J. is one tough girl and the reader would have a tough time not rooting for her. She’s faces some tough obstacles, including running the family farm – milking cows, cutting and baling hay. In walks a spoiled rich boy who doesn’t know a day’s hard labor ––Brian. He learns quickly to pull his weight, develops a deep crush on D.J, not his usual type since he’s the quarterback for a rival football team and is used to the cute, thin cheerleader. But what he and DJ has is so much more. D.J goes through numerous trials and tribulations that show the reader what it means to cope with difficult situations and how these challenges can inspire and fortify you in unexpected ways. The strength of family, the power of love and friendship definitely makes a huge difference. I highly recommend this series.

To learn more about Catherine Gilbert Murdock and all her novels: http://www.catherinemurdock.com/cm/home.html

 

Third Annual INTERNATIONAL Holiday #Readathon – December 7-9, 2012
Oct 14th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

THIRD ANNUAL

HOLIDAY #READATHON

December 7-9, 2012

You can sign up until the very last minute! Join us!

Thanks to the tremendous enthusiasm and spirit of those who participated last year, it is my pleasure to once again host the 3rd Annual Holiday #Readathon! Together, we will make it even BETTER this year!

BONUS: SIGN UP & YOU’RE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED! Winner randomly chosen: Andrea Payan

For everyone who signs up below through Mr. Linky, you are automatically entered for a special holiday drawing. One winner will have the opportunity to choose any two signed novels from Books of Wonder, http://www.booksofwonder.com/departments.asp?dept=2 not to exceed a pre-shipping cost of $40. As of today, signed books are available from such authors as Maggie StiefvaterDavid LevithanCassandra ClareBeth RevisLauren OliverRick Riordan and many more! Please check the site, selection is based on availability only. No guarantee of a title or author. If you are from outside of the US, the prize will be a $40 gift certificate either to The Book Depository, Amazon, or BN.com You do NOT need to participate in any other mini-challenge to qualify. To be announced soon.

Sign up for the Holiday #Readathon is below – Fill in the simple Mr. Linky form! You can use a Twitter or Facebook URL if you don’t have a website.

I will be updating the list of CONFIRMED bloggers/authors who are participating in giveaways as they come in as well as their mini-challenges/giveaways. Here is are the bloggers/authors we have so far:

1. Stacy, Shannon, Nancy from Girls in the Stacks

Challenge: Do something nice – an act of loving kindness for someone else (honor system) and enter to win a stack of books. <3 this ladies!!!

http://www.girlsinthestacks.com or Tweet to @girlsinthestack #Readathon w/ what you did!

2. Author Laurie Viera Rigler:

Challenge: Which of your favorite characters would you love to have as a friend, and how would you spend your time together? TWO winners will receive a signed set of Laurie’s Austen Addict novels, CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT and RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, and a signed copy of JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT, the anthology that includes my short story INTOLERABLE STUPIDITY. ( I’m a HUGE FAN! <3)  

 http://blog.janeaustenaddict.com/2012/12/holiday-readathon-challenge-giveaway.html  or Tweet your answer to @austen_addict #Readathon

3. Courtney from Stiletto Storytime: See Heather’s challenge below! http://www.stilettostorytime.wordpress.com

4. April from Good Books & Good Wine:

Challenge: Find a GIF to represent your feelings about one of the books you’ve read & you might win an ARC! To answer, send a tweet to April @booksandwine #Readathon

http://www.goodbooksandgoodwine.com/

5. Joe Roper:

Challenge: What’s your favorite novel, TV, or movie mystery? Enter to win a signed copy of one of Joe’s fav books: THE DETROIT ELECTRIC SCHEME by D.E. Johnson (See a special interview with the author on Joe’s blog!)

http://joerroper.com/ or tweet your answer @jrroper #Readathon

6. Kai Charles from Fiction State of Mind:

Challenge: Scents Of The Season. The challenge is to share your favorite scents of the season by sharing a comment, recipe etc. The prize is a book up to $10.00 from The Book Depository – International  – Yummy!  🙂

http://fictionstateofmind.blogspot.com/ You must use the Rafflecopter – it’s easy!

7. Cassay from Vamps, Weres, and Cassay:

Challenge: What is your favorite holiday movie?  Which fictional character (TV/movie/novel) you would like to be your “Santa Baby”? Prize: 1 *signed* paperback copy of RELEASED by Megan Duncan and $10.00 to Book Depository. Open International. (Wow! Soooo awesome!)

http://vampsweresandcassay.blogspot.com/ or tweet answer to @CassayC #Readathon

8. Jen Fisher from Jenuine Cupcakes:

Challenge: What book has been the biggest surprise for you this year and why? For me it was Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo! I don’t usually read a lot of fantasy and I almost never fall head over heals for the alleged bad guy but I LOVED this book! Prize: Enter to win a copy of Shadow and Bone from The Book Depository

(I still haven’t read this! Maybe for the Readathon!) Thx so much Jen!!! <3 <3 <3

jenuinecupcakes.blogspot.com or tweet answer to @cupcakegirly #Readathon

9. Author Wendy Delsol:

Challenge: Describe your favorite handmade holiday decoration or item. (Brings back soooo many memories!)

Prize: Win your choice of one of Wendy’s excellent YA novels STORK, FROST, FLOCK! (Lucky you!)

Answer via Twitter @wendydelsol #Readathon or to Wendy’s Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/wendydelsolauthor

10. Heidi from YA Bibliophile:

Challenge: What book do you hope to acquire this holiday season?

Look at this CASSANDRA CLARE prize Package!  https://twitter.com/hmz1505/status/276832914774302720/photo/1

http://www.yabibliophile.com You must use the Rafflecopter – it’s easy!

11. Author Cylin Busby:

Challenge: What holiday gift would you give your favorite fictional character & why? Prize: A copy of Cylin Busby’s latest YA novel BLINK ONCE! (I absolutely <3 it! Perfect for guys and girls!)

 http://cbross.livejournal.com/  or tweet your answer to @CylinBusby & #Readathon

12. Book Blogger Deb A. Marshall:

Challenge: Give a book to help others and get a book being reviewed for the Cybil’s Award. (<3 this!!!) Details here!

http://www.debamarshall.com/2012/12/holiday-readathon-and-cybils.html?spref=tw

13. Author Heather Frederick:

Challenge: What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Prize: A boxed set of autographed paperback copies of the first five books in my Mother-Daughter Book Club series! (Looks amazing!!)

http://www.heathervogelfrederick.com/blog/2012/12/holiday-readathon/

My mini-challenge: 

(You do not have to sign up for my mini-challenge to participate in this readathon! All are welcome!)

Prize: All Participants for my Holiday #Readathon Challenge are automatically entered for a $20.00 gift certificate for Amazon.com or BN.com  or The Book Depository– your choice! Just list your participation in COMMENTS! Give :) and you have a chance to receive! Winner Randomly chosen: Kayla from Caught Between the Pages

1. Pledge a penny or two or three (or any amount you want!) per page that you read.  Put a minimum number that you will pledge.  For example:  100 pages – $1.00. And then donate the amount to your favorite charity.

OR

2. ANY type of donation for the holiday season – a can(s) of food, book to a library, Toy for Tots, gently used books or clothes donated to a shelter, school – qualifies. OR volunteer your time at, for example, a soup kitchen or food bank.  Just list it. (Feel free to come up with your own ideas!)

3. Click on comments below and share your pledge/donation. THIS IS ON THE HONOR SYSTEM! 

Mini-challenges/giveaways end on Sunday, December 9th at midnight PST. Please note that all the bloggers/authors have their own rules for their challenges.

Please share what you’re reading and your progress during the Readathon on Twitter by including in your tweet – Holiday #Readathon.

Twitter Party, Sunday, December 9th, 9-10PM EST, which can be accessed by entering #Readathon. We’ll talk about the books we are reading and holiday memories and anything else you’d like to share. I will be hosting several giveaways during that time.

Remember, this is a set-your-own-pace/start-whenever-you-want #readathon. Don’t wear yourself out. I’ll be cheering you all on and checking up on your progress. Have FUN!

 

Page-Turner Thursday: Two Banned Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down
Oct 4th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

Page-Turner Thursday this week is dedicated to two frequently banned books. I am a firm believer in the freedom to choose reading material, and that parents and teachers and teens can make appropriate decisions together. The right to read these novels should never, ever be taken away from others. These books save lives. These books give hope. These books give a voice to YA who often believe they don’t have one.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

From Goodreads: In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.” Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne’er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: “there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree.” Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won’t, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.
Soon, her grades plummet, her relationships with family and friends deteriorate, and she needs more and more of the monster just to get through the day. Kristina hits her lowest point when she is raped by one of her drug dealers and becomes pregnant as a result. Her decision to keep the baby slows her drug use, but doesn’t stop it, and the author leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Kristina/Bree may never be free from her addiction.

My review from April, 2011: Extraordinary book about the use of crystal meth and heroin by a young woman who had lived a near perfect life until her first hit. Then the monster took over, changing her life forever. Written in prose, one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Loosely based on Mrs. Hopkins’ personal experience with her daughter.

Why I believe this is an important YA novel: Just once. That’s all it takes for a person to become addicted to crank. This novel is raw and brutal and direct and real. It’s exactly what some YA need to read. Yes, there’s drugs, sex, alcohol and everything else that will make a person squirm. Good. Squirming is good. Dying from a drug overdose happens way too often. I personally know people who have been addicted to drugs. It’s a living nightmare. For the YA. For the adults. Save a life – share this with others.

For more information on Ellen Hopkins and her novels, check her website: http://ellenhopkins.com/YoungAdult/

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

From Goodreads: Kendra, fifteen, hasn’t felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can’t remember the most important detail– her abuser’s identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it’s her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who’s becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra’s abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl’s frightening path to the truth.

Watch the book trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF5xEK…

My review from November, 2010: I recently heard the following statistics: 1 out of 4 girls are sexually abused and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused. Scary numbers indeed! Scars is an important, emotional story about sexual abuse and cutting. It is hard to read, but even harder to put down. Whether you or someone you know has been abused or whether you want to understand the physical/spiritual/sexual/emotional impact, this novel is IT! There is a lot of intrigue and questions as the reader is led on a journey with the MC to discovering her perpetrator so that she can move forward on her path to healing. This novel will haunt you long after you put it down. Truly memorable. A must read.

Why I believe this is an important YA novel: Scars is one of the most daring, bold novels I have read on the subject of abuse and cutting. So many young adults don’t know whom to turn to when they’re abused. They may even begin to self-mutilate by cutting to deal with the pain. No one should ever have to experience what transpired in this Scars. But it happens, much more frequently than any of us want to believe. This novel gives voice to those YA. This novel will help guide them to getting the help necessary. For those who wonder why a teen would need a book to help them figure this out, instead of talking to an adult, it’s because many don’t know how. They don’t know what to do, and the pain is so great, they don’t believe others will believe them or will help protect them from a sexual predator. Scars has the ability to change that. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t take it lightly. Read it, pass it along to others who may need it, too. Even if all is well, in your life, Scars can be a reminder of the blessings in  life! Don’t take it lightly.

For more information on Cheryl Rainfield and her novels, check out her website: http://www.cherylrainfield.com/

International GIVEAWAY & Take Five Q & A with Donna Cooner, Author of SKINNY
Oct 3rd, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

Take Five Q & A with Donna Cooner, Author of Skinny and GIVEAWAY


Skinny is a must-read for every girl! I’d like to see it in every school and library, too, because body image is a critical part of a person’s self esteem!

My review: Oh boy! Does SKINNY know how to crawl into your mind and mess you up! She’s vicious, and I haven’t met one girl who hasn’t heard her at least once in her lifetime!!!! Does she speak to you a lot? Do you listen to her?
You must read Skinny to find out what I mean. Pick up this YA novel and you’ll go on a journey of discovering one’s worth with Ever, the main character of this novel. This is a powerful story about body image, obesity, perceptions, family dynamics, and learning to love yourself. This is not a novel for the weak of heart. Drastic, necessary measures were taken in this novel. Anyone who knows someone who has been morbidly obese or has ever heard a voice in their head telling them that they’re ugly, needs to read this novel.
I deeply appreciate Donna Cooner’s honesty. She doesn’t mince words. The story reads quickly. There is a cast of characters readers will find interesting, especially Rat who could be a role model for a lot of guys out there. I also was taken in by Whitney who was absolutely obsessed with doing a makeover for Ever. Like her or dislike her, there are girls out there just like her. Makes you think about how focused our society is on image!
One last thing—and it’s a personal perspective. If you see yourself first as a body, then it’s hard to ever be truly happy. But see yourself first as a mind, heart, soul and then a person who has a body to do positive things with the gifts you’ve been given, and I truly believe it’ll be much easier to focus on achieving your dreams and goals. Think about it.
Put this on your must-read list. Discover Skinny – find the true Ever. You just might find yourself.

My deepest thanks to Scholastic for the ARC I picked up at the BEA of Skinny.

 TAKE FIVE Q & A

1. I personally don’t know any female who hasn’t at one time in her life had a “Skinny” speak to her. What do you think is the most important message you can tell yourself when dealing with “Skinny?”

Donna Cooner

A: The first step is learning to recognize that moment when the inner, critical SKINNY voice kicks in and speaks up.   Maybe the voice in your head isn’t criticizing your weight, but it’s saying things like, “you’re too stupid” or “you’re too poor” or “you’re too ugly.”  Once you are aware of the self-critical messages you send yourself, then you begin to understand you also have the power to change those feelings.  It might help to document the negative thoughts in a journal to see patterns and situations where your SKINNY voice is especially known to surface.  If it works, give the voice in your head a name or even visualize silencing it, as Ever does in the book.  When you realize the self-criticism is in your own mind and it’s limiting you, then you can concentrate on changing the message to something more positive and supportive.

2. There is a lot of focus on our bodies: being beautiful, wearing the right clothes, being thin. It is a message we’re all bombarded with every day. What, if anything, would you like to see change?

A: The media inundates young people every day with the message that value depends on the way you look.  I hope someday we can break free of those narrow expectations and allow our vision of beauty to become much more diverse.  I know so many beautiful people, and they all look different.  It’s not about how they look, it’s about who they are.

3. Music is an extremely important part of Ever’s life. She loves to sing. But because of her weight, she refuses to consider auditioning for the school musical. If you were to meet a young adult who has a beautiful voice but believes she’s too heavy to audition, what advice would you give her?

A: Music has intense emotional power.  A song can instantly connect a listener to a vivid, visceral-filled response.  In SKINNY, I selected powerful ballads with lyrics that spoke to Ever at that point in her journey.  Even now, when I listen to those songs, I get teary.  The emotional connection is so potent, it puts me right back in the story.  By selecting a favorite song that stirs gutsy, bold feelings, I believe a hesitant performer can overcome fear and negative energy.  Some examples?  Just listen to “I Am Here” (The Color Purple) or “Listen” (Dreamgirls).

4.  Rat is one of my favorite characters. He is an integral part of Ever’s support system, especially when she takes the biggest step to change her life. (I’m not saying what it is because I want readers to find out on their own.) What qualities do you feel a person needs to possess in order to be a trustworthy support?

A: Our closest, most trusted, friends need to have the ability to both love us as we are and to support us as we change. Good friends help us become the person we want to be, but still keep true to their own unique identity in the process.  We can trust them with our biggest dreams and, even though we aren’t always the most perfect friend in return, they don’t let us down.  In my mind that is the true test of a trustworthy friend.  They see you at your worst, but don’t give up on you.

5.  There is a lot of emphasis on diet and exercise in our society. Obviously, it’s to have a healthy lifestyle. Yet, millions of Americans struggle with this issue. Why do you think the message of healthy eating and exercise isn’t getting through to people?

A: I think there is a huge conflict in the messages we receive.  On one hand, we’re told to exercise and eat healthy.  On the other, we’re bombarded with fast food and drink advertisements that tell us the path to true happiness and social acceptance is exactly the opposite.  Combine those confusing messages with the difficulty of trying to break bad nutrition habits rooted in childhood, and we have our current situation.   I was raised in the South, so fried food and desserts were a staple.  Food was used as a reward and big nightly meals were a required part of family life.  That was my nutritional foundation.  Later, as a college student in the era of the microwave, processed foods were quick and common. Now I know the importance of good nutrition, but it isn’t a something that comes easily and naturally.  Eating mindfully and exercising frequently take thought and planning.  I have come to the realization it’s worth it, but it was a definite journey.

For more information on Donna Cooner and Skinny, visit her website: http://www.donnacooner.com/ 

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