HOOKED ON AUDIOBOOKS: Why I love to listen
Aug 28th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer


My friend Heidi from YA Bibliophile got me hooked on audiobooks when she raved about THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater, one of my all-time 10626594favorite novels. Even though I had already read it, she convinced me that I absolutely had to listen to it. I don’t remember her exact words, but I can definitely remember her face lighting up and the enthusiasm in her voice. That enthusiasm was contagious. I checked out the audiobook from our library and fell in love with the novel all over again.  and  gave fantastic performances and I appreciating the instrumental music that Maggie had created herself! My heart ached when the end came. I wanted to listen over and over and over again. I couldn’t get enough. I needed more.

It’s not like I hadn’t listened to an audiobook before, it’s just that they were reserved for long family road trips. We listened to several Harry Potter novels driving to Memphis, TN and back home to Milwaukee, a slew of Battle of the Books novels on a trip to Door County, WI, and the exceptional historical novel THE COFFEE TRADER by David Liss during our road trip to look at colleges with Justin. These books helped pass the time and kept us all engaged and interested in more than just the scenery.

But THE SCORPIO RACES changed everything for me. Now, I listen to audiobooks almost every day. I’m often juggling three different novels at once: an audiobook, ebook on my iPad, and a good ol’ traditional paper novel. Sometimes, while I’m on the elliptical, I choose to listen to the audiobook instead of reading one from the iPad. I get completely engrossed in the story and my thirty plus minutes pass quickly. I’ll put the audiobook on for short trips to the grocery store and – CONFESSION – sometimes get so engrossed that I sit in the car and listen to the end of a chapter. When I’m cooking or folding laundry I’ll put on the audiobook instead of music. The key is being able to stay focused on both tasks.


101941571. When you listen to an audiobook, you hear the author’s words differently. The characters come alive based on the interpretation of the performer. If he or she is outstanding, you’ll totally find yourself immersed in the story. Sometimes it’s easier to NOT read the novel first. I did that with DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by , performed by . I absolutely loved the performance and wouldn’t want to experience that series any other way. The same is true with SHADOW AND BONE and SIEGE AND STORM by , performed by .

2. Listening to an audiobook adds dimension to the story that you won’t necessarily get just from reading it. For example: 9464733BEAUTY QUEENS by . The book won quite a few awards, including Audie Award for Narration by the Author or Authors; Audie Award Nominee for Teens (2012)Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature (2011)Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of the Year (2011). Libba Bray did ALL the voices and to “experience” her novel through her ear – how she heard the characters in her head – was absolutely amazing. I am certain I wouldn’t have loved the novel nearly as much if I hadn’t heard her interpretation. There was music, bells, commercial breaks, footnotes that came to life because of the audio production. I have no doubt I would have “read” it differently.

3. I love books. I love to read. And there is never enough time in the day for it. Audiobooks expands my “reading” time.

4. Sharpens my listening skills. I know this is obvious, but the mind can definitely wander. Audiobooks keep me mentally engaged and rarely do I have to go back because I wasn’t paying attention.

5. Get audiobooks from your local library. I live in Milwaukee County, so our library system is huge. If my library doesn’t have a book I want, I most likely can reserve it from a different one. Most audiobooks are on CD. They’re great for the car, but not as convenient for in-home listening.  The best part, borrowing them is FREE! But there’s one more reason why I love going to the library to look at audiobooks: I’m exposed to novels I 49491never would have picked up. That’s what happened with THE COFFEE TRADER. It was something I saw while browsing the audiobook section and it intrigued me. Six years later, I still remember the novel vividly.

6. I recently started a monthly subscription to Audible.com – another suggestion from Heidi. I’m in the early stages, but it seems like an economical way to get access to a lot of audiobooks, especially my favorites. They have a free month trial offer and various programs that make it worthwhile to check out, including “Daily Deals.” Before subscribing, however, I used the library audiobooks A LOT. I wanted to be certain that downloading audiobooks and listening to them outside of drive-time was what I wanted. When I started dragging the old CD boom box out of the garage and lugging it around the house, I decided to take the leap to Audible. I love the convenience of having the audiobook on my iPhone and I never have to worry about where I left off. There are many great features, including bookmarking favorite sections and auto-rewind, which you can set at various increments. I use the standard 30 seconds.

A note to teachers: Audiobooks are a fantastic way to fuel a love for reading. I truly believe that if students don’t read it’s because they hate it. I hear it all the time, “I hate to read.” Usually they say it’s because they’re “forced” to read things that they have no interest in. We could discuss the fine points of why a particular novel is a good read, how it will expand their higher level thinking skills, expose them to a classic, engage them if they give it a chance. FORGET IT. These kids really aren’t interested. And it breaks my heart since I LOVE TO READ! Obviously, reading certain books is critical to English curriculum, but shouldn’t there be some flexibility when a student is floundering? How many adults do you know that don’t read? Or only read a few books a year? I think audiobooks can change that, and if we give students access to audiobooks in middle school and high school, it may chance their perceptions and may even help them expand their attention span. Think about it: we read to children in pre-school and even into the early elementary years. I taught those grades, and more often than not, most, if not all, the kids sat and listened. Why? Because they were intrigued, even hooked, especially when I used different voices and brought the book to life. That’s what an audiobook does. They engage people differently. Not everyone is a visual learner or a strong reader. Audiobooks could change the experience of reading and perhaps change a YA’s attitude toward it. Hopefully, that’s reason enough to encourage it in the classroom.


Waiting on Wednesday (14): CRASH INTO YOU by Katie McGarry
Aug 21st, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Waiting on Wednesday (14):

17233800CRASH INTO YOU (Pushing the Limits #3)

by Katie McGarry

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pub. Date:  November 26, 2013

Pages: 474


From Goodreads:

From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless Katie McGarrystreak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

Why I want to read this book: 

The cover: It’s gorgeous and romantic. I’m completely sucked in and I haven’t even turned a page yet.

I’ve read Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, and Crossing the Line. The writing is fantastic. The characters are memorable. I love the entire series. If you haven’t read any of them, I highly recommend that you start with Pushing the Limits.

Here’s my review of Pushing the Limits as posted on Goodreads in September 2012:

Confession – I started reading Pushing the Limits at 11 P.M., and at 4:15 A.M. my husband crawled out of bed wondering what happened to me. (I was snuggled up in a living room chair.) By 4:20, I closed the book, having just finished the last satisfying page. But I couldn’t go to sleep right away. There were just too many things to think about. The way Katie McGarry lets the story unfold along with Echo’s memory of what happened to her the night she almost died, becomes an intriguing mystery. Enter Noah onto the scene, a young man with plenty of painful experiences that also haunt him, and you’ll find yourself unable to put this novel down.
Echo’s parents, step-mother, friends, and social worker each bring insight to the struggle Echo is forced to deal with, giving an overall picture that helps add to the mystery. Your heart will ache. You’ll want to comfort her, shake her father, tell her fake friends to go to hell, and tell her she’s beautiful, scars and all.
And as Echo’s story unfolds, so does Noah’s. His story is told in alternate chapters to Echo’s. Seeing them intersect is absolutely fantastic. With Noah, you become a witness to his pain, wish it could have a happy ending, and want to report the foster parents who hurt him to the authorities. You may even want to become his foster parent/sister/brother. 😀 Noah wears a lot of his pain with his badass attitude, but Echo shows him a genuine love he’s been sorely missing and craves. Without a doubt, you will root for them!

Fans of Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Echols, Huntley Fitzpatrick will embrace this novel with open arms. But I warn you, you won’t be able to stop reading. If you don’t mind walking around like a satisfied zombie the next day, start the book right before bedtime. 😀
Highly recommend that you add this novel to your list if you’re a fan of contemporary YA romance novels.



Cover Reveal & Giveaway: TRUST IN ME by Jennifer Armentrout
Aug 15th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Cover Reveal: TRUST IN ME

by Jennifer Armentrout

TRUST IN ME cover[3]

Thanks William Morrow/HarperCollins for supplying the cover reveal and the Giveaway!

TRUST IN ME will be available on October 22, 2013


It’s Wait for You as you’ve never seen it. Trust in Me lets you in on Cam’s side of the #1 New York Times Bestselling story.

Cameron Hamilton is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to women. But when Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life – literally – he finally meets the one person who can resist his soulful baby blues. But Cam’s not ready to give up. He can’t get the feisty and intriguing girl out of his head.

Avery has secrets, secrets that keep her from admitting the feelings Cam knows she has for him. Will persistence (and some delicious homemade cookies) help him break down her barriers and gain her trust? Or will he be shut out of Avery’s life, losing his first real shot at the kind of love that lasts forever?

Author-photo-200x300About Jennifer Armentrout: 

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Yes, I will be reading Trust in Me. Click here for my review on Waiting for You.

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THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes, Review & ARC Giveaway
Aug 12th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer


by Jojo Moyes, Review & ARC Giveaway

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books,

Pages: 384


Jojo Moyes at her signing at ALA – Chicago


From Goodreads:

What happened to the girl you left behind?

In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most – whatever the cost.

My review – in two parts:

Part 1: Written on  7/20/13


I need to spend some time digesting this novel before I complete my review. I will say this – I am so glad I read the prequel (HONEYMOON IN PARIS) – See my review on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/…
More tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Must. Close. My. Mouth. It’s on the floor.

Part 2: Written on 7/23/13

Impactful. Eye-opening. Shocking.

Okay. Deep breath.
I’ve been thinking about how to review this novel. A lot. And why it affected me so much. I’ve come to the realization that there are several things that deeply impacted me. The characters and the experiences are so real, that, as the reader, you get completely absorbed in what has happened to them. This experience is similar to what many would say happened while reading SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Moyes tells two stories in this novel, which eventually intertwine. The first takes place St. Pieronne, France in 1916/17 and is told in first person by Madame Sophie Lefevre. The men are away at war and Germans occupy much of France, including St. Pieronne where Sophie and her family live and run a hotel that’s been completely stripped of anything of value by the Germans. What Sophie does to protect/shield/feed her family and the village is incredibly heroic. What struck me to the core was how brutal the Germans were. I JUST DIDN’T KNOW. I know a ton about WWII. But I didn’t have a clue about WWI. Was I not listening in history class? Or wasn’t this taught? The Holocaust was HELL on earth, but I had no idea that the Germans did many of the same things during WWI – carting people off to camps, putting them in trains. And the brutality! It gutted me, but ultimately didn’t shock me. What shocked me was how the village people treated Sophie. You’ll have to read the novel to understand what I mean.

Now that I got that out of the way, let me explain that much of this story revolves around a stunning portrait of Sophie painted by her husband Edouard. The Kommandant can’t keep his eyes off the painting. It is this painting that connects the second story in this novel.

The second story takes place in 2006 and is told in third person. Liv Halston is a young widow in possession of Edouard’s painting of Sophie. His family wants it back. The twists and turns and the concept of reparation is an important issue, and a heated one, especially to Holocaust survivors or descendants who are fighting to get their families’ wealth back when it was stolen from them during WWII. But Liv’s painting had no connection to WWII. Yet Edouard’s family and the company they hired to get Sophie’s painting back, use this issue to sway public opinion and makes Liv a villain.
This ripped my heart out on so many different levels. I am deeply sympathetic to those who lost everything in the Holocaust. Yet, at the same time, I saw how absolutely wrong it was to throw the weight of this onto Liv’s shoulders. Horribly painful.
To further complicate things, Liv is in a relationship that has a HUGE personal implication and connection to this case.

This novel is . . .
so incredibly impactful and eye-opening!
deals with important issues.
filled with so many deep, personal wounds.

It brings up an intense need to have the characters, especially Liv, heal, live, and have HOPE.
I’m tempted to say more, but I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Like Jojo’s previous novel that I reviewed, ME BEFORE YOU, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND will stay with me for a long time. I suspect I’ll be thinking about it and talking about it for years to come.
I highly recommend this novel. But be prepared, it will affect you!
Put this on your must-read list.
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For another opportunity to win THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND, go to: Chick Lit Central

Review: Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin
Aug 2nd, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

16131059Wise Young Fool

by Sean Beaudoin

Hardcover, 448 pages

Pub date: August 6th 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

In Wise Young Fools, Ritchie Sudden has a deep connection to
music. His Les Paul guitar is practically his life, and there
is a funny scene of Ritchie dancing and playing in his underwear
in front of the mirror.
Teen rocker Ritchie Sudden is pretty sure his life has just jumped the shark. Except he hates being called a teen, his band doesn’t play rock, and “jumping the shark” is yet another dumb cliché. Part of Ritchie wants to drop everything and walk away. Especially the part that’s serving ninety days in a juvenile detention center.Telling the story of the year leading up to his arrest, Ritchie grabs readers by the throat before (politely) inviting them along for the (max-speed) ride. A battle of the bands looms. Dad split about five minutes before Mom’s girlfriend moved in. There’s the matter of trying to score with the dangerously hot Ravenna Woods while avoiding the dangerously huge Spence Proffer–not to mention just trying to forget what his sister, Beth, said the week before she died.This latest offering from acclaimed author Sean Beaudoin is alternately raw, razor-sharp, and genuinely hilarious.

If you could take PAIN and ANGER and RESENTMENT and bottle them up and then spill them into a novel you’d get WISE YOUNG FOOL.

This novel opens with a plea to readers to help the editor find the author of this story. The manuscript landed on the editor’s desk three years ago. After a futile search, she couldn’t find its owner and so decided to publish it anyway. This opening certainly caught my attention. (Of course, we know who the author is, Sean Beaudoin, so suspend reality.)

His story goes back and forth between the present (in juvie) and his past (what led up to juvie).

Ritchie Sudden is a young man in a lot of pain. It pours out in his lyrics. It’s reflected in his relationships. It’s what lands him in juvie. It’s almost impossible to like him, until the very end when you begin to understand him. This is Ritchie’s story. He tells it with no apologies, no plea for compassion. It’s brittle, it’s a slash across one’s heart, leaving an open gash.

This is a snapshot of a time in Ritchie Sudden’s life. Miserable, destructive, creative (musically). Throughout the novel, there’s a lot of interesting wisdom in this novel – definitely shows how Ritchie does a hell of a great job self-destructing. For the most part, the majority of the adults are clueless on how to help Ritchie. Looper, his mother’s lesbian lover, is the most sympathetic, but for the most part, Ritchie ignores her advice, though I do think he “hears” her.

If you’re out there, Ritchie, I hope that you’ve found some peace. I can only imagine, but it seems like walking in your shoes is like a trip to HELL and back. Not that I really know. But like you, I’m going to imagine. I hope people read your story and learn some things from the pain you went through. Maybe then it was worth it? Live on. Live on. Wise. Young. Fool.

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