Real Book Challenge, August 2015
Sep 3rd, 2015 by Liza Wiemer


Real Book Challenge is hosted by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

So I read 10 books this month for the REAL BOOK CHALLENGE. And it was a real eye-opener to look at my recap! I finished the IN DEATH series by J. D. Robb in August. Normally, I’m all about YA, but this series grabbed hold and it became an addiction. (I didn’t completely forget about YA, but those were Ebooks and audiobooks, so they don’t count for this challenge!

I did read an exceptional, award-winning MG historical novel: ODIN’S PROMISE by Sandy Brehl

Odin's PromiseOdin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ODIN’S PROMISE is a must for a MG schools/readers!

From the very first page, I was swept up in this WWII story about an eleven-year-old Norwegian girl named Mari and her dog, Odin and the invasion of Nazis into her village.

ODIN’S PROMISE is a riveting and beautiful story about courage, sacrifice, defiance, family, and love that will sweep readers up and transport them to Norway. The scenes are vivid and realistic, yet perfect for MGers. Students will feel deeply for Mari, and even though this novel is set during the Holocaust, this tells a different side—what life was like for a Christian family with Jewish friends and how the Nazis treated the Norwegian people and the land they invaded.

This is an important story. The acts of defiance, the sense of pride and community by the Norwegians during WWII will open readers’ eyes. The descriptions of community, faith, and love are inspiring.

Told through Mari’s eyes, she experiences the terror of watching a Jewish neighbor being led away by Nazis, the defiant acts of her family, and also the love/protection of her dog, Odin.

I really want to see this in every MG school! Teachers, parents, please pick this book up!!!!

Brava, Sandy!!!! Can’t wait for your next one!!!!!!

View all my reviews

Real Book Challenge: March 2015
Apr 1st, 2015 by Liza Wiemer


For more details on the 2015 REAL BOOK CHALLENGE, check out this post on Fiction Fare or Swoony Boys Podcast.

Total books so far this year: 42 (12 new books in March)

Goal: 100

2015 Real Book Challenge – Year-to-date
Mar 1st, 2015 by Liza Wiemer


Real Book Challenge is hosted by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare:

*If you’re an Author or Publisher who would like to sponsor our challenge by donating a book, swag, or doing a fun interview for the newsletter- email us at realbookchallenge@gmail.com.

Got questions?

There’s no such thing as a bad question! If something doesn’t make sense, we want to hear from you! You can leave your question in the comments below, tweet @SwoonyBoys@JaimeArkin, or @Erinlee20, or email us at realbookchallenge@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Liza’s 2015-real-book-challenge book montage – my goal – 100 books. I’ve read 30 already since January 1st.

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Real Book Challenge 2014
Jan 1st, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

realbookchallengefeatured2Real Book Challenge is a meme put together by Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare


My 2014 Real Book Challenge was 100 books.

Total read: 122

Total books for 2014: 173, including e-books and audiobooks. Here are just some of the books I read. To see the full list, check out my Goodreads page.

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Real Book Challenge: Year-to-Date: 91 books & 3 Book (your choice) International Giveaway
Oct 1st, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


Hosted by Swoon Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare. For more details check out Swoony Boys Podcast

I’ve read some incredible books this year, and I’d like to share them with you. For this entire month, I will run a giveaway.

Here’s a list of the “Real Book Challenge” books I read in September:

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

On the Fence by Kasie West

Stay with Me by J. Lynn

Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer Armentrout

One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Night Moves by Nora Roberts

Night Shield by Nora Roberts

Nightshade by Nora Roberts

Night Smoke by Nora Roberts

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire


One lucky winner may select up to 3 books (value not to exceed $30) from my “Real Book Challenge” list. This is INTERNATIONAL, but your Book Depository must deliver to your country. Giveaway ends: October 31, 2014, 12 PM CST.

Take a look at my Real Book Challenge List for books that you may choose from! (It’s my entire list & it will grow throughout this month!

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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:


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.

Real Book Challenge: March
Apr 2nd, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


Real Book Challenge: March

For more details and to join, click here.

I love the women from Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare. So, back in December, 2013, I joined their Read Book Challenge: 100 books in 2014. The books I read were: MARGOT, by Jillian Cantor, IDENTICAL by Ellen Hopkins, WAITING ON YOU by Kristan Higgins, QUEEN SUGAR by Natalie Baszile, HEARTBEAT by Elizabeth Scott, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE by Rebecca Behrens, TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST by Sonya Sones, BE WITH ME by Jennifer Armentrout, UNDONE by Shannon Richard, ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Jill Shalvis

My personal analysis:

I went for lighter books this past month. A lot of adult/new adult romance novels, two free verse poetry novels (IDENTICAL and TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST), one serious adult novel, one middle grade novel, and one serious YA novel. I have this feeling that I may have read more, but didn’t review them yet. I’ll have to search my shelves!

How many “Real” Books are you challenging yourself to read?
Start Date: January 01, 2014
End Date: December 31, 2014
Liza Wiemer

You have read 27 books toward your goal of 100 books.
Great work, you’re 3 books (2%) ahead of schedule.

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