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Blog Tour: DIE FOR YOU by Amy Fellner Dominy – Review, Novel Secret & #Giveaway
Nov 16th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

die-for-you-banner

 

ABOUT DIE FOR YOU:die-for-you-coverf

Theirs was the perfect love story.

After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.

Then she meets Dillon Hobbs and something just clicks.

Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.
He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.

But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.

Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.

But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?

LINKS: Amazon | B&N 

About Amy Fellner Dominyafd

Amy Fellner Dominy is a former advertising copywriter, MFA playwright and hula-hoop champion. Her novels for teens and tweens include Die For You (11/8/16); A Matter of Heart, Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book.  Amy’s first picture book, Cookiesaurus Rex, will be published by Disney, Fall 2017. Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two kids who occasionally stop by for free meals.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Die for YouDie for You by Amy Fellner Dominy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Profound, painful, powerful. DIE FOR YOU is hard to put down.

Readers will get sucked into the lives of Dylan and Emma and watch what appears to be a beautiful relationship spiral out of control. Amy Fellner Dominy creates a story that could be going on at any high school. Yes, with different circumstances, but we’ve seen the headlines—teens so wrapped up in each other that one or both would be willing to die to keep the other or to make sure they stay together. Forever. In death. Not all relationships that are unhealthy take it that far, but here are some chilling statistics: One in three young people will be in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship. WOW!

Though this is a gut-wrenching, important topic, the story is gripping. The way Amy integrated Emma’s family history and Dylan’s family history brought an eye-opening understanding to the intensity of the relationship. Another very cool aspect was Emma’s love for archeology, which plays a central theme in the novel. I loved the story created around Pompeii.

Friendship is also explored. How loyal should a friend be? What constitutes disloyalty? And then there is family betrayal as well as loyalty to one’s family. What lines should or shouldn’t be crossed?

Without a doubt, DIE FOR YOU is the type of novel that will take you on a journey of reflection, and for some a mirror to look into and hopefully recognize before things get too out of hand. This kind of ugly love is not love at all. It needs to be revealed. It needs to be understood.

Brava, Amy! I highly recommend this novel!

Novel Secret by Amy Fellner Dominy

This book started with an innocent question: “How did you and your husband end up together?”

I asked a friend that question about twenty years ago. I’ve always been a romantic and there’s nothing I love as much as a good love story. But what I got instead was a reply that sent shivers up my spine. She told me her husband had said that if she ever left him, he’d kill himself.

And she believed him.

So she married him.

I never forgot that over the years. How could a smart, talented, beautiful woman let herself be manipulated that way? I would never fall for that kind of emotional blackmail…or would I?

What if I loved someone and what if I worried for his life? What if he convinced me his need was love? What if I thought it came down to his life or mine?

What would I be willing to sacrifice?

What should I be willing to sacrifice?

I always say it was the search for answers that led me to write Die for You. But really, it began with a question.

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Amy

GIVEAWAY

(3 copies of DIE FOR YOU – USA only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

THE GOSPEL OF WINTER by Brendan Kiely – 5 star review
May 6th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

THE GOSPEL OF WINTER18048982

By Brendan Kiely

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

Issues: Sexual assault of a boy by a priest, drug use, divorce

Why this novel is important?

This kind of abuse happens every single day.

Finally, a novel that addresses the issue, offers a raw, authentic experience and encourages seeking help.

Victims of any kind of abuse will read this and know they’re alone.

A critical read to understand how abusers manipulate victims and the potential reactions of those subjected to abuse.

Buy a signed copy:  Boswell Books

or buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Audible

I heard Brendan speak during The Gentleman’s Tour with Jason Reynolds and John Corey Whaley at Boswell Books, Milwaukee.

From my Twitter feed: 

Apr 30

Secrets, courage, friendship! That is what The Gospel of Winter is about, crossing the…

 

1374162_211445232360694_254475920_nAbout Brendan:

From his website: Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York.  His writing has appeared in FictionGuernicaThe AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

From Goodreads:

A fearless debut novel about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse.

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s.

The Gospel of Winter maps the ways love can be used as a weapon against the innocent—but can also, in the right hands, restore hope and even faith. Brendan Kiely’s unflinching and courageous debut novel exposes the damage from the secrets we keep and proves that in truth, there is power. And real love.

 

My Review: 

Raw, heartbreaking, authentic, important! 

The Gospel of Winter is a critical novel of coping with one of the worst things that could happen to a young man—sexual abuse. In this case, a priest takes advantage of a vulnerable young adult, Aiden. 

photoCover: 

Brilliantly designed. The jacket is translucent with the silhouette of a boy underneath. This symbolizes the hidden layers of Aiden, his shadowed self, and secrets. The letters in the word “Gospel” are broken symbolizing how the “gospel” Aiden learns from the priest is indeed broken, filled with lies and holes. It’s brilliant.

General comments:

I cried. I paced. I asked the question, “Why?” And I blessed Brendan Kiely for having the courage to write such an important book!

This is a novel that will let others who have gone through sexual abuse know that they’re not alone, that what they’ve experienced and how they’ve coped is normal, but that ultimately it’s unhealthy and painful to keep the trauma to oneself.

The story: (contains some minor spoilers, proceed with caution.)

Aiden’s father has left his mother and him for Europe and another woman. The novel starts out with Aiden co-hosting his mother’s annual Christmas party. He is surrounded by overbearing, “keep up with the Jones” type adults, and lots and lots of alcohol. Aiden crushes Adderall and snorts it. He drinks. All of this is his way of coping with the sexual abuse.

As the story goes on, Aiden develops some positive relationships with three other young adults. They’re able to talk about “real” stuff and take their “masks” off. Aiden sees many of the people around him as fake, always looking for the next deal and trying to out do their neighbors, their friends with bigger and better parties. Personally, I thought this was an accurate portrayal of what it’s like in some East Coast suburbs. I’ve met people like this, and though I find it shocking, it seemed very authentic. Many parents go off and leave their children to be raised by nannies. It’s not a Midwest “thing” but it’s a heck of a lot more common on the East Coast. What crushes me is the lack of respect for another person. Aiden’s “nanny” Elena is Hispanic, and he loves her. But there is definitely “class” and race separation. When will we live in a society that sees beyond skin color? Aiden is more of a second son to Elena. Unfortunately, Elena doesn’t do what it takes to protect Aiden. She too, fails him.

Readers might not like the choices Aiden makes or the adults around him. There are choices that many regret and are ashamed of. BUT THIS IS LIFE! Maybe you’ll get upset with Aiden, maybe you’ll cry for Aiden, maybe you’ll be frustrated with what happens and how the adults cope, BUT GET REAL! Because this is real! The drug use, the denial, the fear, the self-loathing, the shame, the guilt. 

Brendan Kiely gives readers an opportunity to walk in a male young adult’s shoes who has faced horrible abuse. This isn’t a “story” where we get to decide how Aiden shoulda reacted. Brendan Kiely researched this novel and spent six years writing it in order to give people a gift. A gift that will allow young adults going through abuse a window into what can happen if you don’t tell and don’t cope, especially when the abusing adult puts the fear of G-d in you, in this case, literally. 

The power of friendship is also explored in this novel. Aiden fails one of his best friends Mark. His failure is wrapped up in Aiden’s lies and his inability to cope with abuse. Aiden is sixteen! Sixteen-year-olds disappoint friends. They make bad choices. HECK, adults do it all the time! So many adults failed Aiden. Our hearts can break for him, for Mark, but ultimately we need to realize that neither had the love or support or the guidance to get out of this mess.

Except for a lovely friend named Josie. EVERYONE should have a good friend like Josie. 

I want to commend Brendan for writing one of the most important books on sexual abuse, and for tackling an even more taboo topic, sexual abuse involving a boy! 

The Gospel of Winter is a brilliantly written, tough, heartbreaking must read!

 

INTERVIEW with Gayle Rosengren, Author of WHAT THE MOON SAID
Apr 7th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

What the moon saidINTERVIEW with MG Author Gayle Rosengren:

WHAT THE MOON SAID

Published by: Putnam Juvenile

Pub. date: February 20, 2014

Buy it here:

Signed, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

From Goodreads:

Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

My review: 

An outstanding MG novel that I’m sure will become a favorite of students and teachers alike. I was completely captivated by this historical fiction novel, which takes place during the Depression. Esther is a young girl struggling to get her mom’s approval and love. Her mom is very superstitious and these superstitions guide Esther’s enter family, determining the good luck and bad luck they’ll have. At times, it’s frustrating, hurtful, and confusing for Esther, especially when she is forbidden to play with a girl she really likes as a friend.

Readers will move with Esther and her family from Chicago to a farm in Milwaukee. They’ll experience hunger, they’ll celebrate the holidays with them, they’ll go through Esther’s illness and recovery. Even though the novel takes place a good eighty years ago, readers will be able to relate to the characters. Family, friendship, and being neighborly are some of the bigger themes of this novel. It’ll has a timeless appeal like Little Women and Little House on the Prairie.

This MG novel is a winner!

1. In your debut MG novel, WHAT THE MOON SAID, it’s my understanding that your mom’s life had a deep influence. What are some of the most important lessons she taught you? 

I was the youngest child and the only girl so my mother and I were very close.  She often told me stories about her experiences growing up. I think the one that made the deepest impression was the lesson she learned about the importance of being honest–not just in terms of always telling the truth but in always behaving truthfully as well. For example, the chapter about cheating in WHAT THE MOON SAID was based on a true experience from my mother’s girlhood.  Mom couldn’t see the blackboard because her vision was poor and her family couldn’t afford glasses, so a friend used to copy the problems for her and my mom, as thanks, would provide the answers. She didn’t feel that she was doing anything wrong, since she wasn’t receiving answers, but one day her teacher caught on to what was happening.  My mother and her friend were both accused of cheating and made to stand in front of the class as punishment.  My mother, who’d only received praise from her teachers before, was mortified!  The lesson stayed with her forever.  She told it to me as a cautionary tale, and it obviously stayed with me forever, too. So the most important lesson my mother taught me was honesty, but also kindness.  My mother was a gentle soul who was always kind and generous, especially to children.

2. Superstitions are definitely prevalent in WHAT THE MOON SAID. Do you have6886590 any superstitions? If so, what are they? What’s your general opinion on superstitions?  

I’m going to answer these questions in reverse order.  My opinion on superstitions is that they are absolutely not true.  That being said, I also believe that if we believe in them, they become true and can have impacts on our lives.  Good moments and bad ones happen in the course of every day.  If we believe in superstitions, we’ll connect the bad moments to the mirror we broke or the salt we spilled earlier.  Conversely, when something good happens we’ll connect it to the lucky shirt we’re wearing or the wish we made on the first star the night before. 

I don’t believe in superstitions, yet, as a result of the beliefs planted in me as a child, I confess to tossing salt over my shoulder and never opening an umbrella in the house or putting shoes on a table.  Logic, it appears, only extends so far when it comes to tempting Fate.  😉

3. One thing that struck me about your novel is that it’s timeless, even though it’s set during The Great Depression. How were you able to achieve this? 

That’s a lovely compliment, thank you! If the story feels timeless I think it’s because it’s so centered in the main character, Esther.  We get drawn into her world very quickly so everything feels very real.

But looked at another way, all the things that happen to her really ARE timeless.  Parents still lose their jobs, forcing families to move to places that are not as nice as the homes they left behind.  Money is tight, and it gets tighter as things don’t improve.  Food becomes less plentiful.  The same families are forced to move again, this time to live with friends or relatives.  Sadly, this is an all too real experience for many children today in the United States since we experienced our own economic crash in 2008.

5. What personality trait do you share with your main character? 

Esther’s desire to please and her love of animals are the two most significant traits I share with her.  I really loved being able to give her a dog and horses to make up for the movie theaters and ice cream shops she had to leave behind when the family moved from Chicago to the farm.

6. Who has influenced your life the most and why?  

I would have to say my brother Dennis.  He was a wonderful big brother–protective, and also willing to take time to teach me things, from tying my shoes to playing chess, riding a two-wheeler to doing yo-yo tricks.  When I was about eight years old he told me to think about how my actions or words might make someone else feel; to always try to put myself in their shoes.  This advice was really taken to heart and I believe that it–combined with my love of reading–is why I’m a writer today. The ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes has enabled me to make even very flawed characters somewhat sympathetic.  But more than that, putting myself in other people’s shoes has also been a great maxim to live by and made me a better friend and a better person than I might have been otherwise.

Lightning round:

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?  COFFEE!!!

Winter, spring, summer, or fall? It always used to be spring but as I get older it’s shifting to fall.  Do you suppose there’s some hidden significance in that?  J

Sci-fi thriller or romance movie?  Sci-fi thriller.

Fiction or non-fiction?  Fiction

Folding laundry or doing dishes?  Doing dishes.

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.
POWERFUL. MEMORABLE.
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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.

Review & ARC Giveaway (US/Canada) of THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US by Lauren Myracle
Jul 29th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US157676

by Lauren Myracle

Pub. date: August 20, 2013

Publisher Amulet Books, pages: 336

From Goodreads:

For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now… not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them…

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

 My review:

TIMofUThe intensity of love, finding your soulmate and fumbling through that deep connection.

This is a novel about the confusion of what it takes to get to know a person whom you not only find attractive, but touches your soul. Trust, faith, true love, sex. A forever relationship.

THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US was a strong story from the perspective of what it takes to fumble in a relationship and to forge the bonds emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. In order to forge those bonds to have a forever relationship, it takes a lot of work!!!!!!!! (Forever is my term. There is no promise of that, but I think it’s implied that this is what Wren and Charlie are trying to build/create with one another.)

There is a tremendous amount of value to this novel for both girls and boys who feel unsure of their connection with a person that they love. When do you take the next step? How do you know you’re ready? What does it mean to be soulmates? Do you believe in soulmates? (For the record, I absolutely do!)

Strengths of this novel:
1. The way Wren and Charlie communicate with each other. It’s not perfect, they make mistakes, but I think it’s authentic and a lot of YA can learn from them.
2. Wren’s overpowering parents and her incredible determination to step out of their shadow.
3. Charlie’s “unique” family.
4. Learning to accept a person’s strengths and weaknesses and to be honest about your own.
5. The beauty of the soul, the beauty of the body – one that shouldn’t be “shared” lightly. Sex is a very powerful connector. It also can be very damaging and unhealthy. I think the distinction is made very clear in this novel.
6. Charlie’s brother is an amazing person.
7. The tough decisions Wren has to make about her future.
8. Charlie finally realizes that he deserves true love in his life. It’s an important message.
9. Relationships–soulmates, family, friendships–can be messy. But with true love/ a soulmate, one can overcome a tremendous amount of pain and difficulty.
10. I admire that Wren asked Charlie to go get tested before they took the next step in their relationship. And that she took responsibility for the birth control.

In my opinion, THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US is a healthy novel that will help many YA who don’t have anyone to discuss finding a soulmate, true love, the mechanics of sex etc. It’s only one perspective. Could it have be done differently? Sure, and it has. There are many amazing books about true love and soulmates and sex with a different storyline. (Some of the best, in my opinion, are EASY by Tammara Webber, PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK, and Katie McGarry’s novels PUSHING THE LIMITS and DARE YOU TO, and IF I STAY, WHERE SHE WENT, and JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman. There’s also Susane Colasati’s ALL I NEED or STAY by Deb Caletti.)

The point is, THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US is its own story and will speak to YA. But it’s not for everyone and that’s okay. There’s more to gain than to lose and if it makes people uncomfortable, I think it’s good that it evokes healthy discussion about relationships and sexuality, with or without reading the novel. I hope parents will take notice and discuss love, sex, soulmates, relationships in a positive, less clinical way that is often heard in sex-ed classes. You don’t have to read this novel. That’s the beauty of living in America and free speech.

I have a feeling that this novel will make some adults very uncomfortable, a lot more uncomfortable than teens. That’s too bad. I hope adults will read it. After that, if they’re not comfortable having their child read it, then talk with their YA about the issues that come up in this book: true love, soulmates, sexuality. Sadly, I expect, like Myracle’s other novel SHINE, there will be people who will want to ban it. Go for it. Teens will want it more than ever. Thank G-d I live in America!!!!

To learn more about Lauren Myracle, check out here website.

I WAS DEEPLY TOUCHED by Lauren Myracle’s response to this review:

For “Leave a Blog Post Comment” below in the RAFFLECOPTER – What characters from a novel do you feel are soulmates? You only need to leave one. I could name so many, but here are a few of my favorites: Lucas and Jacqueline from EASY by Tammara Webber and Nastya and Josh in THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five Star Review & Giveaway of JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman – 12 Reasons Why I Loved It!
Feb 3rd, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Five Star Review and Giveaway of JUST ONE DAY

by Gayle Forman

 

gayle-bioWhen I read a book that I know may have a profound impact on a YA’s life, I have to share it with my readers. JUST ONE DAY by12842115 Gayle Forman is one of those novels. (I felt the same way about Gayle’s other books, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT. If you haven’t read them, they’re a must-read too!)

So, that is why I am doing a giveaway for JOD. It’s open internationally if your country allows for free shipping through The Book Depository, so make sure you check that. Ends Sunday, February 14, 4:00 PM CST.

From Goodreads:

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

 

What I loved about JUST ONE DAY:

1. Including Shakespeare’s plays in the novel: Gayle does an amazing job of breaking down the plays that, even if you’ve never read them or seen them, you’ll be able to understand what she’s referring to. And it just might inspire you to go and see one in person or rent one on DVD.

2. The settings: London, Paris, Amsterdam, NYC, and Boston – Gayle captures these cities so magnificently that even if you haven’t been to these cities, you’ll be able to visualize the sights and sounds and tastes and smells. I’ve been to London, Paris, Boston, and NYC and her descriptions brought me right back.

3. There are other books out on the market about how one day can change a person’s life. But what I love about JOD is that the one day Allyson and Willem share in Paris has its highs and its lows. It’s not perfect, which, in my opinion, is a reflection on real life.

4. This is a novel about stepping out of your comfort zone, self-discovery, personal growth. There’s plenty of pain and joy that goes along with these actions, but if there wasn’t, then they wouldn’t be significant. This novel encourages calculated risk-taking, which I am all in favor of at any time in one’s life.

5. Imperfect characters/no cliched characters: There isn’t one character who is perfect i.e. too handsome or gorgeous, too smart, or fits into a cliche. These are “real-life” characters and maybe you won’t identify will everyone (the family seder and how people interact was very different than my own experiences as an adult with my children – ours our fun. We laugh and people ask to get invited each year – they love my cooking, the telling of the Passover story etc. :D), but you will certainly find someone to connect with on a personal level.

6. Gives the reader a different perspective on what constitutes love. Most of the time, love is not about being swept off your feet and carried up the staircase. Love can be messy and strange and confusing and painful and amazing and inspiring and definitely life-changing. I deeply appreciate how it’s portrayed in JOD.

7. Friendship: Gayle shows the ups and downs between friends, an authentic portrayal of how one can grow close or be distant depending on the stage of your life. Instead of worrying about it, Gayle’s portrayal takes a healthy perspective.

8. Decision making/choices: I love how Allyson learns and chooses to do what’s best for her and not what’s best for her parents. It takes tremendous fortitude to buck the system and decide what is best for you rather than giving into someone else’s dream for you. DREAM big and TAKE ACTION! Love this.

9. Conquering fear: Who isn’t afraid? But if you’re not bold, if you don’t “Dare Greatly” (the title of a book I love by Brene Brown) then it’s very difficult to move forward. JOD epitomizes “Daring Greatly.”

10. The writing/storytelling: Absolutely captivating and brilliant. I love the minute details such as the watch that Allyson wears, the coins that Willem flips over between his fingers. These and many more add richness to the story.

11. The portrayal of adults/parents: Flawed, annoying, kind, welcoming, nurturing, selfish. That only captures some of their characteristics of the adults in this novel. Absolutely authentic to real life.

12. Use of foreign languages: French, Dutch, Chinese – you don’t have to know them to appreciate the language or get the nuance of what’s going on. Gayle clues in the reader beautifully when need be. There will be times when you learn along the way or feel clueless like Allyson does. It’s exactly how it should be.

For more information about Gayle Forman and her books visit her website: http://www.gayleforman.com

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Easy by Tammara Webber Discussion Questions for Mothers-Daughters, Sisters, Friends & Giveaway
Jan 10th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

PAGE-TURNER THURSDAY

The New York Times Bestseller:

Easy by Tammara Webber

Readers Guide/Discussion Questions for

Mothers-Daughters, Sisters, Friends

International Giveaway:

Rules: 1 paperback copy of Easy. 18 and older. Outside of the US, only for countries where there is free shipping through The Book Depository. Ends January 18, 4 PM, CST. For more information, check the Rafflecopter.

EasyEasy by Tammara Webber is one of those books that may deeply alter a person’s life. It’s about love, relationships, and rape. Personally, any parent who is sending off a son or daughter to college would benefit from reading Easy. It should be read by sorority sisters and friends. Because what happens in Easy takes place EVERY SINGLE DAY! The events depicted in Easy need to be talked about. Daughters need to be prepared so that they can be proactive and safe just in case they run into a situation that could put them in harm’s way. Sons need to know how to have healthy relationships with young women. If you need guidance with that, then Easy is a helpful source, a launching point for discussion. You may not agree with everything that transpires. That’s okay. It’s about having the opportunity to create a dialogue with those you care about. If you don’t have someone to talk to about these issues or don’t feel comfortable doing so, then that’s okay too. Easy is an outstanding novel to help you formulate your own opinion.

As a parent, teacher, writer, I wanted to create my own guide to share with my friends. Now, I’m posting it on my blog. I personally have purchased Easy for several friends and their college-bound daughters to read and discuss. I was told by my friends that they each read Easy separately, then came together to discuss it. Both moms and daughters said their discussions was extremely helpful and meaningful because of this book.

Note: There also is a helpful publisher’s readers guide in the back of the book. The questions created by me were done before I saw the guide. Use them both.

Link to my Readers Guide – Discussion Questions for Mothers-Daughters, Sisters, Friends.

There are spoilers, so utilize the guide after you read Easy.

http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1696

From Goodreads:

Tammara Webber

Tammara Webber

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

To see my Goodreads review, click here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/443052366

To learn more about Tammara Webber and all her novels, please visit her website: http://tammarawebber.blogspot.com

(Mature Young Adult/ New Adult)

There are spoilers, so utilize the guide after you read Easy. http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1696

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ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes – Review and Giveaway – An Outstanding Crossover Novel for YA & Adults
Dec 21st, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

ME BEFORE YOU

By Jojo Moyes

USA Publishing Date: December 31, 2012

REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY (One copy of the book and a poster – Thanks Pamela Dorman Books/Viking – USA only.)

I reviewed and Advanced Uncorrected Proof provided by the publisher at BEA. 

Brilliant! With its unforgettable characters, breathtaking storyline, and unconventional romance, ME BEFORE YOU will leave you standing with your mouth gaping. Expect to laugh, expect to cry, and expect to scream out “Jojo Moyes, how could you? Nooooo!” Most of all, expect a thought-provoking read that might challenge your perspective and definition of the quality of life. I absolutely loved ME BEFORE YOU. Don’t miss it!

This is the perfect crossover novel for older (YA) young adults—eighteen and older.

Some additional thoughts:

ME BEFORE YOU is a novel about changing perceptions and pushing the limits to maximize personal potential. It’s about inner growth and identity, what shapes and defines us. Many will be able to identify with the inner transformation of twenty-six-year-old Lou Clark from waitress to assistant of the once take-charge-of-the-world wonder boy, Will Traynor.

Another extraordinary highlight of this novel is the dynamics of Lou Clark’s and Will Traynor’s families. There were times I hated how Lou’s family treated her, reinforcing her faults instead of helping her and having faith in her to make good choices. But there were also plenty of moments where they rallied, pleasantly surprising me with their generosity and love. With Will’s family, I was in awe of Jojo Moyes’ portrayal of the internal struggles Will’s mother faced and how her hard-shell exterior would occasionally crack to allow the reader to empathize with her.

This novel is not only character driven, but plot driven — a perfect combination of the two. Even the secondary characters will make you think about your personal dynamics with others. For example, Lou’s boyfriend Patrick will make you think about love and relationships. Lou’s sister Treena will evoke thoughts about your siblings and the importance and influence they have had in your life.

Best of all, I was deeply moved by the relationship between Lou and Will. I refuse to spoil it for you. Read ME BEFORE YOU. Enjoy the journey and allow yourself to be swept away by this unforgettable novel.

(FROM THE PUBLISHER) SUMMARY:

ME BEFORE YOU (On-sale: December 31, 2012; Pamela Dorman Books/Viking; 978-0-670-02660-9; $27.95) is an emotionally powerful tale of an unlikely love affair between two people who represent each other’s last hope. Like Love Story and One Day, ME BEFORE YOU will remind readers that sometimes the best love stories aren’t fairy tales.  When it was published in the UK earlier this year, it became a word of mouth sensation and then a major bestseller. Its phenomenal success in the UK is only the beginning; so far, translation rights have been sold in twenty-eight countries. Readers in the U.S. will easily fall in love with the novel’s true-to-life characters and heart-breaking love story.

Louisa Clark (or Lou, as she’s known) lives a life about as big as the tiny English village she calls home. She loves being a waitress and figures she’ll eventually marry Patrick, her longtime boyfriend. When she unexpectedly loses her job, she must scramble to replace the income that her tight-knit family depends on. Out of desperation, she takes a job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor. Will used to live a life full of high-stakes deals, adventurous vacations, and beautiful women. Now, due to a tragic accident, his life is suddenly restricted beyond his control and he has lost all desire to live.

Will keeps everyone at a distance with his caustic and high-handed attitude. Unlike his family, however, Lou refuses to tiptoe around him and cater to his bad moods. Soon they become exactly what the other needs. Seeing how hopeless Will is about his future, Lou plans a series of adventures (and mis-adventures) to try to convince him that life can be worth living. In turn, Will attempts to persuade Lou that she doesn’t have to confine herself to the small existence she’s settled for so far. As they set about changing each other’s lives, what emerges is a love story that is as complex as it is beautiful.

It is impossible not to be swept up in the world that Moyes has created in ME BEFORE YOU. Though Will and Lou are the heart of the book, they are surrounded by a cast of characters who are funny, infuriating, and entirely memorable. Readers will undoubtedly recognize someone they know among the novel’s entertaining and memorable supporting cast.

JOJO MOYES is the author of The Last Letter from Your Love. Her follow-up, ME BEFORE YOU, was a Top 3 bestseller in the UK (12 weeks on the bestsellers list), a Richard and Judy Pick, a World Book Night Pick, and National Book Award nominee. She is a writer for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.  She currently lives with her husband and their three children on a farm in Essex, England.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON JOJO MOYES:  Website: www.jojomoyes.com, or follow @jojomoyes on Twitter
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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/

CONQUERING THE ART OF RISK TAKING
Sep 6th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

On July 16, 2012, the awesome, inspiring, bold, calculated risk-taker, QuHarrison “DJ CTZ” Terry, a senior at Nicolet High School, asked me to write about what it takes to be an effective risk taker. I’m sharing some of that post on my blog with a link to the rest on his:

What is VICTORY? In my mind, it’s taking CALCULATED RISKS. When you look at the best-case scenario and say, “Oh yeah, I can and will take this idea and make it a reality!” And then you look at the worst-case scenario and say, “I can live with that.” I am a firm believer if you want to really succeed, you need to be willing to take risks to get there, be willing to fall flat on your face and the pick yourself up. I am a firm believer that those who take calculated risks rarely fall flat on their faces because it means you’ve done a lot of homework, legwork, planning, testing, implementing. Of course, there’s always the chance that it turns out differently, and you need to be willing to live with it. Then try again, but a different way. To succeed, it takes a powerhouse effort, giving it everything you have and then fifty percent more. And courage – the most ballsy, blast-it, go-for-broke courage. This is how I like to live my life. I am a calculated risk taker.

Let me explain:

To continue reading, click here for the original post: http://lifestyle.vneckmafia.com/conquering-the-art-of-risk-taking/

 

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