»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Review: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Dec 9th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

5 Star Review:23399232

THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH

by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and DeathThe Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stayed up until after 3 AM to finish reading this novel!

Overall impression: So imaginative! I loved how Martha interwove historical fiction in a non-traditional love story. The diverse characters felt so authentic and the blend of fantasy with reality read seamless for me. Despite the calamities that befell Flora and Henry, their ability to cope with the trials and tribulations of life touched me. Death, love, loss, friendship, racism, homosexuality are some of the themes touched upon in this novel.

I love how Martha showed that we lived in a society (1937) where people quickly judged a person’s worth based on skin color or sexual orientation. SO glad we’ve made strides in these area, but without a doubt, we have a ways to go before people appreciate/embrace our common humanity. I loved how vivid 1937 Seattle came to life. From the descriptions of school, food, clothes, the jazz clubs, music in general, wealth and the poverty of Hooverville, people’s occupations, and landmarks, readers will be transformed back in time. I loved learning about Flora and her passion for flying and the restrictions/racist attitudes she was subjected to that kept her from opportunities to pursue her dream. Her heroine was Amelia Earhart and Flora wanted the same opportunities afforded to Amelia.

I highly recommend this novel! It’s a wonderful blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and love story. Thank you so much to my dear friend Kelly Hager, who purchased this book for me and said, “It’s one of my absolute favorites! You have to read it!”

View all my reviews

Blog Tour & Giveaway : What’s Your WINNER’S CURSE? Novel by Marie Rutkoski
Feb 3rd, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

WinnersCurse BlogTour

I’m thrilled to be a part of Fierce Reads’ WHAT’S YOUR WINNER’S CURSE? Blog Tour.

The “Winner’s Curse” is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted . . . but at too high a price. In honor of Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy, bloggers talk about their own personal “Winner’s Curse!”

Here’s mine:

Without a doubt, I’d pay “too high price” to talk to and spend a day my Grandma Lena and my Grandpa Jack – not through a medium – but through some mystical veil. Obviously, this doesn’t exist. Except I have an imagination that wishes it were true. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by when I’m not thinking about my grandparents. When they were alive, I spoke with them nearly every day and saw them at least once a week. They were a staple in my life. I miss them. And even though I believe that our loved ones watch over us, it would be AMAZING to spend quality time with them. My grandparents were filled with tremendous wisdom, plus I felt so loved and cherished by them. They took a great deal of pride in me and the rest of their grandchildren.

I wanted to be a part of this blog tour because I LOVE these books and they’re definitely on my “Best Books of the Year” List:

To learn more about these fabulous series & Marie Rutkowski, check out The Winner’s Trilogy

Play the “Bite & Sting” Game

To see my 5 star reviews on Goodreads:

The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Crime

I can’t wait for the Winner’s Kiss!

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky winner will get to choose either a copy of THE WINNER’S CURSE or THE WINNER’S CRIME (US ONLY)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Blog Tour:

Monday, January 12
The Hiding Spot

Tuesday, January 13
Curling Up with a Good Book

Wednesday, January 14
Ticket to Anywhere

Thursday, January 15
The Windy Pages

Friday, January 16
Reading with ABC

Saturday, January 17
Carina Books

Sunday, January 18
Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, January 19
Michelle and Leslie’s Book Picks

Tuesday, January 20
Novel Sounds

Wednesday, January 21
Two Chicks on Books

Thursday, January 22
Green Bean Teen Queen

Friday, January 23
Shae Has Left the Room 

Saturday, January 24
Andi’s ABCs

Sunday, January 25
The Starry-Eyed Revue

Monday, January 26
Falling for YA

Tuesday, January 27
Rachel Silberman Reads

Wednesday, January 28
The Irish Banana

Thursday, January 29
YA Bibliophile

Friday, January 30
Miss Print

Saturday, January 31
Bookish Antics

Sunday, February 1
Adventures of a Book Junkie

Monday, February 2
The Book Rat

Tuesday, February 3
WhoRu Blog

Wednesday, February 4
Hello Chelly

Thursday, February 5
Alice Marvels

Friday, February 6
On Starships and Dragonwings

Saturday, February 7
The Book Cellar

Sunday, February 8
Mod Podge Books

Monday, February 9
Rainy Day Ramblings

Tuesday, February 10
A Book and a Latte

Wednesday, February 11
Supernatural Snark

Thursday, February 12
Gone with the Words

Friday, February 13
Step Into Fiction

Saturday, February 14
Belle of the Literati

Sunday, February 15
My Bookish Ways

Monday, February 16
Addicted 2 Novels

Tuesday, February 17
Reflections

Wednesday, February 18
The Best Books Ever

Thursday, February 19
Forever YA

Friday, February 20
Winter Haven Books
Saturday, February 2
My Book Muse

Sunday, February 22
No BS Book Reviews

Monday, February 23
Ex Libris
Tuesday, February 24
The Eater of Books

Wednesday, February 25
Fiktshun

Thursday, February 26
yAdult Review

Friday, February 27
Teen Lit Rocks

Saturday, February 28
The Book Addict’s Guide

Sunday, March 1
Alexa Loves Books

Monday, March 2
Great Imaginations

Tuesday, March 3
BookHounds YA

Wednesday, March 4
Bumbles and Fairy Tales

Thursday, March 5
The Brain Lair

Friday, March 6
Icey Books

Saturday, March 7
Bibliophila, Please

Sunday, March 8
Tripping Over Books

Monday, March 9
The Reader Bee

Tuesday, March 10
A Reading Nurse

Wednesday, March 11
Haunting Orchid

Thursday, March 12
Manga Maniac Café

Friday, March 13
Swoony Boys Podcast

Saturday, March 14
Novel Novice

Sunday, March 15
Birth of a New Witch

Monday, March 16
Not Yet Read

Tuesday, March 17
Paperback Princess

Wednesday, March 18
Working for the Mandroid

Thursday, March 19
Papercuts

Friday, March 20
YA Romantics

Saturday, March 2
Esther’s Ever After

Flashback Friday: THE PULL OF GRAVITY by Gae Polisner
Aug 29th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featured

For more information on FLASHBACK FRIDAY,

check out Fiction Fare 

8891408THE PULL OF GRAVITY

by Gae Polisner

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

Pages: 202

Buy it here: IndieBoundAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Gae Polisner

Gae Polisner

Find Gae Polisner here: Twitter | Website

From Goodreads: 

While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him. Characters you’ll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story.

My review from September 17, 2011


The Pull of Gravity
by Gae Polisner

The Pull of Gravity will definitely pull you into the MC Nick Gardner’s life and take you along on a journey this freshman wasn’t quite prepared for but will definitely change him forever. Scooter, his friend and neighbor, has Hutchinson-Giford progeria syndrome, a disease that’s killing him, Nick’s father is obese and decides to walk to NYC to get his life in order, and then Jaycee, a girl who’s own life has been pretty messed up, pops in and complicates everything for Nick by becoming obsessed with finding Scooter’s father who left Scooter early on in his life. There are lots of interesting twists and turns with references to Star Wars and the novel, Of Mice and Men. It all interconnects with lots of tender moments, raw emotion, and humor too. The Pull of Gravity is a journey you will definitely want to take in – I recommend that you read this book with a can of cherry cola – you may suddenly find yourself craving one! Lovely and touching novel about loss, friendship, family, and romance.

View all my reviews

 

Waiting On Wednesday – FOREST OF WHISPERS by Jennifer Murgia
Aug 20th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

Waiting On Wednesday:

FOREST OF WHISPERS18506004

by Jennifer Murgia

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Publication Date: September 9, 2014

(Waiting on Wednesday was started by BREAKING THE SPINE)

Find it here: Goodreads | IndieBoundAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Blurb from publisher:

Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago… and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.

Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to–one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder–a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.

Early Praise for FOREST OF WHISPERS:

“NOT your average teenage witch! Jennifer Murgia’s FOREST OF WHISPERS is a dark, brooding mystery/thriller that captures the paranoid, plague-driven frenzy of 17th Century Europe with the speed and power of a galloping stallion. Rune, a 16-year old with formidable abilities that she herself can barely understand, must fight her own inner demons as well as what seems to be a whole world gone awry with bloodlust for her kind. This is a thrilling read.”

~ Molly Cochran, author of LEGACY & POISON

“An interesting and compelling love story, with plenty of mystery and intrigue — I devoured FOREST OF WHISPERS and will be first in line to read anything else from Jennifer Murgia!”

~ Cyn Balog, author of FAIRY TALE, SLEEPLESS, STARSTRUCK, TOUCHED & DEAD RIVER

Why am I looking forward to it?

A historical fiction novel with witches? I’m intrigued by the legacy and what secrets the forest holds!

About Jennifer Murgia:SHP Author Photo - Jennifer Murgia (updated headshot)

Jennifer Murgia has long loved the dark and speculative — and it’s from these dark places that she weaves fantastical stories, often hoping to find truth in them. Her Young Adult novels include the upcoming Historical Fantasy FOREST OF WHISPERS (9/9/14 — Spencer Hill Press), BETWEEN THESE LINES, ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE & THE BLISS. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.
Jennifer is available for book signings, book fairs, interviews, library and school visits. Please contact
her directly for scheduling at: jennifermurgia8@gmail.com.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Flashback Friday: BRUISER by Neal Shusterman
Jun 27th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featured

For more info on Flashback Friday, go to FIC FARE

Flashback Friday: BRUISER by Neal Shusterman

Publisher: HarperTeen Pub.

Date: October 1, 2011

Pages 328

Buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

1931915From Goodreads:

“There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends – why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained. I know, because they’re happening to me.”

When Brontë starts dating Brewster “Bruiser” Rawlins – the guy voted “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” her twin brother, Tennyson, isn’t surprised. But then strange things begin to occur. Tennyson and Brontë’s scrapes heal unnaturally fast, and cuts disappear before their eyes. What at first seems like their good fortune turns out to be more than they bargained for…much more.

My review:

Ohhhh wow! Bruiser grabs you from page one and holds on to the very last page. Who is Bruiser? Is he a bully? The reader soon discovers his extraordinary abilities to help people in a very unusual way. Neal Shusterman uses four different voices in this book, telling Brewster’s story from his girlfriend’s point-of-view, her brother’s point-of-view, Brewster’s point-of-view, and his half-brother’s point-of-view. The voices are distinct and true to their characters. The prose used for Brewster’s voice is fabulous and probably my favorite. I also loved the sassy Bronte (the girlfriend). This story unfolds beautifully, one character picking up and moving the story forward in his or her own voice after another’s. The mystery of Brewster & the impact of his talent on the characters in this novel pulls you in. What will happen? You will want to know! Put this one on your to read list too! 🙂

Find Neal Schusterman:

Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads   YouTube   Libri Italiano

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!

 

Big NEWS – My YA Debut Novel HELLO? is Being PUBLISHED! (Announced in Publisher’s Lunch) & GIVEAWAY
Mar 17th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

My debut novel, HELLO?—my heart, my soul—is being

PUBLISHED by Spencer Hill Contemporary in 2015!

Check out the entire post with videos AND the GIVEAWAY on my author blog: http://lizawiemer.com/2014/03/17/hello/

To read a synopsis, click on my Hello? page or on Stuart Krichevsky’s Literary Agency Liza Wiemer page. I will have more to share in the upcoming months, but I wanted to start today by describing the journey to publication.

HERE’S THE ANNOUNCEMENT – Posted in Publisher’s Lunch TODAY!

Pub. Lunch HELLO? Announcement!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY (9) – BEFORE I DIE & YOU AGAINST ME by Jenny Downham
Mar 14th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

flashback-friday-featured

 To learn more about Flashback Friday, check out FICTION FARE!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY (9) – BEFORE I DIE

& YOU AGAINST ME

by Jenny Downham

Before I Die:1314332

Tessa has just a few months to live.

Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is sex.

Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up.

Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

BEFORE I DIE is a brilliantly-crafted novel, heartbreaking yet astonishingly life-affirming. It will take you to the very edge

My Review: 

BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham is a remarkable YA novel about a dying girl named Tessa. It’s raw, gritty, direct, and descriptive. At first, I found it quite difficult to like Tessa. She starts out with a lot of self-destructive behavior, almost like she was trying to push the limits because of her illness, and in turn she left a wake of pain and worry, usually aimed at her father who loves her and has cared for her. Enter a remarkable young man named Adam who works through his own troubles to be a huge support and the love of Tessa’s remaining short life. I started out feeling frustrated and by the last page I was in tears. This is one heck of a worthwhile read. It shows how living and dying has to be done on one’s own terms. A beautiful novel. I also highly recommend Jenny Downham’s second novel, YOU AGAINST ME.

 

8720917You Against Me:

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author ofBefore I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

My Review:  Posted on Goodreads in December, 2011

Oh wow! Unfortunately YOU AGAINST ME is not a crazy premise. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl who accuses a college student of sexual assault after a night of drinking. The young man denies it. She’s poor, he’s rich. The boy’s sister (Ellie) was in the house at the time of the attack and her entire family, including her brother, expects her to defend him in court. The girl who was assaulted has a brother (Mikey) and he’ll do anything to protect his deeply hurt sister, including beating up the boy who assaulted her. It’s because of these circumstances that Ellie and Mikey’s lives intersect. What happens after is fascinating and crazy. Because how does one build any kind of honest relationship based on such horrific circumstances, let alone open one’s heart? But Jenny Downham pulls it off, and she does it magnificently!
I gobbled up this novel. It was good to see the system work. There is morality! This is a tough, tough novel with unforgettable characters. I loved it.

A Blogtastic Extravaganza – Snuggle Up & Read
Jan 16th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Blogtastic Extravaganza:

Snuggle Up and Read

I’m participating in a fun blog hop with lots of fantastic giveaways. WhoRuBlog is generously sponsored by: koco & viking. For more information about their products and beautiful gifts, please check out: kocoandviking.blogspot.com (facebook, twitter).

Their portion of the prize package includes:

1 Alphabet Tote custom, $30

1 Custom Bottle Cap Necklace – Book or Author, $15

Total value = $45

In addition to koco & viking’s beautiful gifts, the Snuggle Up & Read prize package has:

The total value of this prize package is $130!

Good luck!

A Blogtastic Extravaganza starts at 12:00AM EST on January 18th and closes at 11:59PM EST on January 22nd.

You may enter by using Mr. Linky or leaving a comment and you MUST be a WhoRuBlog Google follower to be eligible to win the prize. Winner will be randomly selected:

Other A Blogtastic Extravaganza participating sites:

Take Five with YA Author Simone Elkeles
Jan 2nd, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Here’s the perfect way to start 2011.

Snuggle up with a book by one of my most favorite YA authors, Simone Elkeles.

Want the chance to WIN a copy of one of her books? Leave a comment about this interview, and which book you would want to read. Winner will be randomly chosen Sunday, January 16, 2011 8PM CST. US and Canada only. (Be a Google follower of this blog for an extra entry.)  WINNER HAS BEEN RANDOMLY CHOSEN: CONGRATS – MINAS

To learn more about Simone Elkeles, visit her author website:  http://www.simoneelkeles.net/

Perfect Chemistry was the first Simone Elkeles novel I read, and I fell in love! (When I’ve browse YA sections at bookstores I’ve tell complete strangers to buy it and her other novels. I can proudly say that I’ve been successful!) I am hooked, hooked, hooked. I am sure you will be too.

Here’s a complete list of her novels: The sequel to Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, and the third in the trilogy, Chain Reaction is due out in May, 2011 – and boy would I like to get my hands on the ARC!) Leaving Paradise and the sequel, Return to Paradise, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, How to Ruin My Teenage Life, and How to Ruin Your Boyfriend’s Reputation

I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Return to Paradise from Flux, so I’m including my review here.

Simone Elkeles’s Return to Paradise is an outstanding sequel to Leaving Paradise! I couldn’t put this book down. I rarely would describe a novel as exquisite, but it fits. Once again, Simone Elkeles draws the reader in by alternating between Caleb and Maggie’s narration, and it works beautifully.
Return to Paradise is a richly written, emotionally charged novel that will leave you satisfied, but also wishing that the last page didn’t come so quickly.
What makes Simone Elkeles’s books (including this one) so fabulous is the realistic portrayal of characters from all different life experiences. She doesn’t shy away from the tough issues that teens face today. She seamlessly integrates sexuality, disabilities, race, religion and faith, love, family dynamics, drug use, and divorce. All of Simone Elkeles’s main characters face difficult challenges and Caleb and Maggie are no exception. There is no sugar coating life, but love can make a person better, can help to overcome obstacles, and can give strength when you’re feeling weak.

Enjoy this interview with Simone:

1.  Which one of your characters do you identify with the most and why?

I would say I am the most like Amy from the How to Ruin series.  Her story is entirely fictional, but we do share some of the same experiences.  I also went to Israeli boot camp as a teen and met my future husband there.  I’m also like Amy because I like to solve problems and help people, but I’ve never signed anyone up for an online dating service!

2.  If you could trade places for a day with one of your characters who would it be and why?

That is one of the toughest questions.  I guess I would want to be Brittany Ellis from Perfect Chemistry/Rules of Attraction because Alex is the type of guy who would respect me and take care of me, but still let me be independent while being my forever partner in life.

3.  Many authors read their published work and wish they could change something.  Has this ever happened to you?  What would you have changed?

Of course there are always little things I want to change, a word here or a detail there.  But, I force myself not to think about any major changes.  Mostly because I figure it would take too long to drive to every bookstore in the country with my red pen and make the changes I want.  I do the best I can during my final rewrites and then let it go.

4.  Many of your characters face adversity and become stronger human beings.  Not everyone is able to do that.  What qualities or attitudes do you think are crucial for a person to possess in order to utilize adversity and turn the experience or experiences into a positive?

All of my characters possess the desire to change.  Most of them don’t know it in the beginning, but they all realize eventually that they want to better themselves and rise above their situation.  Alex gets out of the gang for Brittany and Maggie chooses to make a bright future for herself even though she’ll never fully heal physically. Ultimately, I think it’s a result of loving someone and being loved; it makes you want to be the best version of yourself possible.

5.  Another fabulous aspect of your novels is your portrayal of relationships, sex, and love.  Just sex does not equal love.  Instead, loving someone deeply is expressed in a respectful, meaningful, tender, and intimate way, connecting individuals.  Why have you chosen to convey this message in your novels?

You are exactly right.  Sex can be a beautiful and meaningful expression of love, but it isn’t always that way.  I know teens are thinking about sex, talking about sex, and having sex.  I want them to see that they all deserve someone really special to share that moment with.  You would be surprised how many emails I get from teens telling me that because of my book, they’ve realized that they want to be treated as well as Alex treats Brittany.  On the flip side, Amy in the How to Ruin series chooses to wait for marriage.  It’s not an easy decision for her, but she sticks with it.  Having or not having sex can be an overwhelming decision for many teens.  The truth is that everyone feels that way!

»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 2012 Liza Wiemer