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A powerful interview with DON’T CALL ME KIT KAT author K. J. Farnham on Eating Disorders & Body Image
Jun 16th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

DON’T CALL ME KIT KATUntitled3

by K.J. Farnham

Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

INTERVIEW

  1. Why did you want to write a novel about eating disorders?

 

Someone very close to me struggled with bulimia from the age of 12 into her mid twenties, so I know exactly what the disease does to a person—both mentally and physically. I drew from my friend’s experiences as well as from some memories of how I felt in junior high to create Katie’s story.

 

Bulimia (as well as other eating disorders) is a complex disease with many different causes and no clear course of treatment. Every bulimic needs different things to heal and heals at her own pace.

 

Eating disorders are often not taken seriously as life-threatening mental illnesses, and those who suffer often feel too ashamed to seek help. To make matters worse, friends and loved ones of sufferers tend to have a hard time understanding that treatment is a lengthy process, so lingering symptoms often get swept under the rug. It breaks my heart.

 

  1. What advice do you have for teens who feel like they don’t fit in?

 

Please keep in mind that everyone feels like they don’t fit in at some point. I know I’ve felt that way many times, especially during my teen years. Still do once in a while. When I was younger, I usually coped by confiding in a few close friends—friends I still maintain contact with (nearly 30 years later). And guess what? Nowadays, when I’m feeling like I don’t belong, I still turn to the same friends. Sure, there are times when they might not understand exactly what I’m going through, but it is amazing how calming it can be to confide in someone when I’m feeling self-conscious or anxious.

 

Another way to combat the feeling of not being able to relate to others is by discovering your passions. Be honest with yourself about what you like and what you don’t like, and don’t be afraid to do what you enjoy, even if friends aren’t interested. If you do what you love, you will eventually connect with others who love the same things.

 

  1. How does one cope when it’s a parent who is battering your self-esteem?

 

Before I answer this question, I’d like to share a little bit about myself…Sadly, I know from experience what this feels like. I was held to extremely high standards as a child. As a result, I have struggled with low self-esteem, OCD-like tendencies and relationship issues. It has taken me a long time to realize that I am good enough just the way I am (flaws and all) and that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect and unfair to expect others to strive for perfection.

 

Now for my answer…This is a tough question because there are different degrees of criticism that can affect a person’s self-esteem. Katie, the main character in Don’t Call Me Kit Kat is constantly subjected to comments about her appearance and her weight and is repeatedly compared to her “perfect” older sister. In my opinion, her mother’s relentless criticisms are a mild form of psychological abuse even though she is unaware of the damage she is doing to Katie’s self-esteem. However, some people might not consider criticism to be a form of abuse, especially since many teens go through much worse than what Katie goes through.

 

So, I think the coping mechanism depends on the severity of the issue. In a case like Katie’s, it’s important to speak up. If your parent repeatedly says things that make you feel self-conscious or critical of yourself, let that parent know. A lot of times, parents don’t even realize how harmful mild criticisms can be.

 

What if the verbal abuse is more extreme? Again, start by communicating to your parent how you feel. If this is not possible or if your parent won’t listen, talk to someone else. A friend. A sibling. A teacher. A guidance counselor. An aunt or an uncle. Do not hide it if you have a parent who constantly berates you or doles out harsh, unwarranted criticisms that attack you as a person.

 

I don’t pretend to be a perfect parent. Like I said, perfection is NOT possible. I have had to bite my tongue at times when my children have misbehaved or even when they’ve neglected to do something they way I taught them to do it. I’m only human. However, parents who have trouble biting their tongues or who think it’s perfectly fine to berate a child need help. Verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, yet without marks to prove it, it often goes unnoticed, especially if the abused child doesn’t speak up.

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  1. Society focuses on body image. What do you want young teens to know about their bodies? Is your advice different for boys?

 

First of all, according to the National Institutes of Health, the human body is made up of more than 100 trillion cells. Here’s what that looks like in numeric form: 100,000,000,000,000. Do you know how unique that makes you? With that many cells, it’s absurd for society to push an “ideal” body image on anyone. The extent to which each individual person is unique is absolutely mind-boggling. 100 TRILLION cells! Embrace your uniqueness and take care of yourself by making healthy choices because your body is a miracle. J

 

Secondly, have you ever heard this quote by Maya Angelou?

 

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

 

In my experience, people will also forget what your body looked like and what you were wearing. Honestly, the way you look right now won’t matter 20, 10, five or even two years from now. But the way you behave today—the way you treat people—will matter for the rest of your life. So love the miracle that is your body, but remember that it’s just a vessel. It truly is what’s on the inside that counts.

 

My advice is no different for boys.

 

  1. You mentioned taking control and losing control. What lessons can readers learn about control?

 

Eating disorder patients often share a common thread; they feel the need to control something. As a result, they have taken control over the one thing that no one can stop them from controlling: the food they do or don’t put into their mouths. But the harsh reality is that the controlling habits of eating disorder patients become addictions, and addicts have no control over their addictions. So that’s why developing an eating disorder can be seen as both taking control and losing control.

 

Facts About Eating Disorders From the National Eating Disorders Association

 

Bulimia nervosa affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women.

  • Approximately 80% of bulimia nervosa patients are female.
  • People struggling with bulimia nervosa usually appear to be of average body weight.
  • Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa recognize that their behaviors are unusual and perhaps dangerous to their health.
  • Bulimia nervosa is frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.
  • Risk of death from suicide or medical complications is markedly increased for eating disorders

Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.

Illness                                            Prevalence                    NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease                     5.1 million                     $450,000,000
Autism                                           3.6 million                     $160,000,000
Schizophrenia                               3.4 million                     $276,000,000
Eating disorders                           30 million                      $28,000,000

Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)

To learn more or to make a donation that will go toward prevention programs, rehabilitation and support for those who struggle with eating disorders, please visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.

 

Share five fun facts about yourself.

 

  • I am 50 percent Taiwanese.
  • Despite the fact that I’m a terrible swimmer, I’ve completed five triathlons.
  • In my early twenties, I loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers. As a result, I have a RHCP-inspired tattoo on my inner right ankle.
  • I can say the 50 United States in alphabetical order in less than 30 seconds.
  • In 1994, I started college as a pre-med student. After changing my major from pre-med to clinical laboratory sciences to accounting, I finally graduated in 1999 with a degree in elementary education. And now I’m an author. You never know what life has in store for you!

 

ABOUT K.J

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K. J. Farnham is a former educator turned author and freelance writer. She was born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee and now lives in western Wisconsin with her husband, three children and three cats.

In addition to reading and writing, Farnham loves road trips, beach outings, Body Pump, running, hiking and acoustic music. She hopes to convince her husband to drive across the United States in an RV someday.

During her tween, teen and young adult years, she devoured books by V.C. Andrews, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Nowadays, Farnham will read just about anything but still leans toward fiction. Her preferred genres include contemporary romance, humor, thriller/suspense, horror and YA.

Website: www.kjfarnham.com

Email: author.kjfarnham@yahoo.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorKJFarnham

Powerful Interview with Caroline Bock, Author of BEFORE MY EYES
Sep 11th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

Interview with Caroline Bock,

Author of the YA novel17934644

BEFORE MY EYES

Hardcover, 304 pages

Published February 11, 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin

 

Buy the novel here: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect with Caroline Bock: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Praise for BEFORE MY EYES:

“GRIPPING…”   –Publishers Weekly
 
“GRIPPING, DISTURBING AND NUANCED.” 
-Kirkus Reviews
“In the opening scene of unflinching thriller Before My Eyes—reminiscent of the shooting at Gabby Giffords’ political rally in 2011—a gunman pulls out a weapon at a Labor Day campaign rally for New York state senator Glenn Cooper. Who is the target? What is the motive? And how will the crowd react to and fare the tragedy? …The thought-provoking story broaches such topics as recognizing signs of mental illness, caring for the mentally ill, gun control and the difficulties of each… a rich opportunity to start a dialogue on these issues that continue to plague America.”-Bookpages
“Every one of Bock’s fragile characters hides an unflinching inner backbone of steel. Impassioned and moving.” – Elizabeth Wein, bestselling author of
Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.

Summary from Goodreads:

From the author of LIE, a powerful new young adult novel about a fateful Long Island summer and the lives of three young people who will never be the same.

Dreamy, poetic Claire, seventeen, has spent the last few months taking care of her six-year-old sister, Izzy, as their mother lies in a hospital bed recovering from a stroke. Claire believes she has everything under control until she meets “Brent” online. Brent appears to be a kindred spirit, and Claire is initially flattered by his attention. But when she meets Max, the awkward state senator’s son, her feelings become complicated.

Max, also seventeen, has been working the worst summer job ever at the beachside Snack Shack. He’s also been popping painkillers. His parents—more involved in his father’s re-election than in their son’s life—fail to see what’s going on with him.

Working alongside Max is Barkley, twenty-one. Lonely and obsessive, Barkley has been hearing a voice in his head. No one—not his parents, not his co-workers—realizes that Barkley is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Until the voice in his head orders him to take out his gun.

Narrated in turns by Claire, Max, and Barkley, Before My Eyes captures a moment when possibilities should be opening up, but instead everything teeters on the brink of destruction.

 

INTERVIEW:

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Author Caroline Bock

Q: Of all the characters, who do you relate to the most and why?

I relate to Claire. How could I not?

Like Claire, my mother had a stroke (though my mother never returned home).

Like Claire, I took care of my siblings (though I had two younger brothers and a sister).

Like Claire, I had a father who found it hard to pull it all together after his wife’s stroke (Who could blame him? He had four children under five years old to take care of. He raised us single-handedly; he turned out to be an inspiring and loving Dad).

Like her, I wrote poetry (I was the editor of my New Rochelle High School literary magazine, Opus).

Like her, I was a dreamer (my father always said: if my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d lose that too, but some days I wanted to just lose myself in dreams, and I think he understood. He always encouraged my love of books and writing).

Like her, I was tall and curvy and extremely self aware of my body parts: my breasts, my lips. However, I never had to face someone with a gun. Yet, in my teens I faced some very big life and death issues, (my father went through a serious illness when I was a teenager), which said to me that even a dreamer, even a poet, even someone feeling the loss of their mother, could find the inner strength to face a life- challenging moment, and come out stronger.

Q: Claire is dealing with some very heavy issues. With her mother’s stroke, she not only has her own responsibilities, but has to help take care of the house, her sister, and is burdened by her father’s fears and issues. What advice do you have for YA who face a crisis in their family, especially one when a member becomes ill?

Both of my parents suffered serious health issues in my young life (see above), so I had firsthand experience with taking on a lot of responsibility as a teen. I wish I could go back to my teenage self and reassure her that she didn’t have to be perfect. She didn’t have to worry about everything, about the laundry and making dinner and dirty dishes; that she wasn’t responsible for her mother or her father, that in the scheme of life what mattered is that she loved her parents and that they loved her even if they weren’t capable of telling her every day.

I’d tell that teenage self to be the one to say, “I love you,” to my siblings even if it’s late and you’re tired from all the responsibility. In BEFORE MY EYES, Claire does this. Claire tells her sister Izzy that she loves her, and I wish I said this more often to my younger siblings. What I know now is this: Those words— I love you—make us all less lonely and a little less afraid in this imperfect world.

 Q: There are various types of parents in the novel: overbearing, overburdened, oblivious, self-centered, indulgent. What qualities do you think make for the BEST type of parent?

The parents in BEFORE MY EYES see what they want to see about their kids. And what they want to see is that everything is okay. They are caught up in their own lives. As Barkley’s father repeatedly asserts to his son through his closed bedroom door, he’s an “awesome,” kid, and then, races out, not wanting to be late for work. A close reader will catch how many times the parents are talking at their kids—through closed doors, i.e. not seeing them —and not talking with them.

As a parent of a 14-year-old young man, the hardest thing is just talking with him and listening to him, just finding the right moment in time, the right space is my biggest challenge. He’s not a talkative kid. And I’m sure others have noticed that teens are not chatting on the phone these days but on the computer or their smart devices, texting away. Often in the car, alone, when we’re not in a rush to get anywhere, when we have our best conversations. I do my best to ask specific questions that cannot be answered by a Yup or a Nah, and then let him talk (and perhaps drive slower or take a longer route, depending on the conversation!).

Time, patience, listening—as a parent, I feel like I’m working at these every day.

Q: The Snack Shack, the place where Trish, Barkley, Peter, and Max work, seems to represent different things to each of them. For Barkley it’s a place where he can be in charge, for Trish, she creates order, for Peter, a place to belong, and for Max, it’s a hellhole trap he can’t wait to get away from. A job can be all of those things. Many YA need to work. What are your suggestions for choosing a job? Working at a job you don’t like?

 I have to back up to answer this. I envisioned BEFORE MY EYES set in the last days of summer, the time when you are thinking and waiting for the next thing to start —for the heat to break – for school, for autumn. Once I set the time, I wanted a place for all the characters to converge. The beach. No, I didn’t want to write about idle well-to-do suburban teens hanging out waiting for something to happen. My characters would work at the beach at the kind of summer job that so many of us have as teenagers —and hate. The setting – end of the summer, five days over Labor Day weekend, the Atlantic beach, is absolutely key to making BEFORE MY EYES comes together for me as a writer.

But back to the Snack Shack! I learned a few key lessons at my most despised teen job—at a copy center located far from the beach—and realize that I’ve carried the lessons learned there through my working life:

–Show up on time. Ready to work.

–Customers are key, and customers are often difficult. Learn how to deal with difficult customers and your workday will go much more smoothly.

–Work well with others. Workplaces are more diverse than ever, and one often finds oneself working alongside people who are very different from your friends or family. One of the main characters in BEFORE MY EYES, is “forced’ to work a summer job by his father, who is running for re-election as a state senator and thinks it will look good if his son works. Max learns that people who stand by him – the overweight Trish and the developmentally challenged Peter – may be truer friends than many others.

Q: If there were one or two life lessons people could take away from BEFORE MY EYES, what is most important to you?

Life is fragile. We all hurt. But with a little luck, and love— always love— we learn something about ourselves, we learn what matters, and we go on.

I hope— teens and adults— find something to take away from BEFORE MY EYES.

Review: RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins
Aug 27th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

Review:Unknown

RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins

Publisher: McElderry Books

Pub date: August 26, 2014

Format: Free verse poetry

Pages: 560

 

Buy it here: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

For more on Ellen Hopkins, check here: Twitter | Website

 

From Goodreads:

Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was…my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question

My review:

Thanks to Heidi at YA Bibliophile, who received the ARC from Simon Teen and passed it on to me, knowing that I am a huge Ellen Hopkins fan. Thanks, Heidi! Another powerful, impactful novel by the brilliant Ellen Hopkins. 

RUMBLE 
opens your eyes 
to religion,
it’s influence
on dating, sex,
homosexuality.
Family broken.
Love a token.
What if Dad
felt trapped
to marry? Not
for love. 
Guess why? 
Would you protect,
support, defend,
your gay
brother?
Would you stand
against bigots?
Religious zealots
determined to shut
you up? Slap
you down?
Twist your beliefs
into evil? Banning
books for content?
Could it be true
love? Premarital 
sex beautiful? Or
for sluts?
Affairs. Hate.
Prejudice.
Guns. Do
you have faith?
No hiding
from tough
subjects when
brilliant
Ellen Hopkins
shakes up 
the soul,
makes you think,
and creates quite 
the RUMBLE!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: #WeNeedDiverseBooks – BLACK AND WHITE by Paul Volponi
May 9th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

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For more information on Flashback Friday check out this post: http://fictionfare.blogspot.com/2014/05/flashback-friday-may-9-2014.html

FRIDAY FLASHBACK: #WeNeedDiversity –

BLACK AND WHITE by Paul Volponi

Published November 2, 2006

Publisher: Speak

 

292199BLACK AND WHITE:

  • Winner of the IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult Fiction)
  • ALA Best Book Young Adult
  • ALA Quick Pick Top Ten
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
  • Tayshas List (Texas Library Association)

From Goodreads:

Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other’s backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one night—and one wrong decision—will change their lives forever. Will their mistake cost them their friendship . . . and their future? An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

An ALA Quick Pick “Top Ten”

IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult)

My Review:

Volponi, in my opinion, is THE urban YA writer to read. His books should be on every high school reading list. BLACK AND WHITE is one more book by Volponi that depicts the reality facing urban American youth and the justice system. The title refers to his main characters, teammates and best friends who are basketball stars at their high school. Their nicknames are Black and White, which not only represents the color of their skin, but the close connection they have together – one is not without the other. They could be the kids next door, feeling invincible and making choices that will impact them for the rest of their lives. On a deeper level, these characters also represent the racial divide between black and white. This is a gripping, powerful tale reminding us to keep our eyes open to reality, to hold our judgments, and to recognize that injustice prevails, even when two young men are guilty of a crime.

I am a HUGE fan of Paul Volponi! There isn’t a novel of his that I haven’t read. Long before the plea for diversity in YA novels, Paul Volponi was on the scene. If you haven’t read his books, I recommend ALL OF THE TO YOU!

About Paul Volponi:

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Review: MARGOT by JILLIAN CANTOR
Mar 30th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

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Review: MARGOT

by JILLIAN CANTOR

Buy the novel:

AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound

From Goodreads:

Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten.

In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind.

Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.

My Review:

What would have happened if Anne Frank’s sister Margot had lived?

Jillian Cantor asked that question and came up with a brilliantly imagined story that seems plausible. Instead of dying in the Holocaust, Margot survives and moves to Philadelphia. There, she takes on a new identity as Margie Franklin, a non-Jewish woman who is from Poland. She ends up working for a Jewish law firm and falling for Joshua, the attorney she works for. He definitely is interested, but not so interested that he would give up his Jewish girlfriend for a non-Jew. (This was difficult or Margot, because she desperately wanted to identify with other Jews, but had suffered so much that it was hard to reveal her secret. (Margie had a number tattooed onto her arm, which she kept hidden underneath clothes. She suffered from a tremendous amount of survivor guilt and was often profoundly lonely.)

The characters in this novel really resonated with me. Cantor showcased antisemitism and discrimination that was prevalent in the US in the 1940s and 50s. Having interviewed Holocaust survivors, Cantor was spot on in her depiction. There is a great cast of Jewish and non-Jewish supporting characters for readers to find likable and interesting.

Bravo to Jillian for being brave and daring to imagine a different ending for Anne Frank’s sister Margot. Obviously, it’s pretend, but in pretending it helps to keep the memory of Anne Frank, Margot Frank, and the others who died in the Holocaust in the forefront of our minds. It also makes you ask the question, what if they had lived? What would they have contributed to this world? Maybe we could all be a little kinder to one another. And wouldn’t it be a miracle if genocide would exist no more!

About Jillian Cantor:1651861

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BROKEN by CJ Lyons, Review, YouTube Interview, & Special Pre-order Price Before Nov. 5
Oct 30th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

BROKEN by CJ Lyons

Published by Sourcebooks Fire, 336 pages

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Pre-order:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Summary from Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

My review:

I met CJ Lyons at the 2013 YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party. A few lucky people received a copy of her debut YA novel BROKEN, thanks to her publisher, Sourcebooks Fire. (Thank you, Derry!!) CJ Lyon is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous adult medical mystery novels. She also has a plenty of experience in the medical field as a pediatric ER doctor.

Wow! BROKEN is so different from other YA novels that I think fans of YA will find it refreshing. It’s medical mystery brilliance, a thriller that will pull readers into the lives of Scarlet, a fifteen-year-old girl who is on the verge of death. Her goal is to spend one week in a regular high school experiencing a regular teenager’s life. There’s nothing “new” to the bullying you’ll read about – the kids that tease Scarlet for being different. That can be found in any school. But what is different is Scarlet’s remarkable story. It’s what makes headlines in the news. Scarlet’s life and death situation, her relationship with her family, and her relationship with the two young men who come into her life and help her to “see” things differently, make this medical thriller intriguing. Though there are plenty of descriptions of Scarlet’s problems, readers will not be overwhelmed or unable to comprehend what’s going on with her. As the story unfolds and you discover more and more about Scarlet’s issues, readers will want to keep turning the pages to learn more and more of her story. I highly recommend that you do NOT read anything at the back of the book until you finish the novel. There are too many hints in the Q & A that will give away plot points, so resist the urge to read them!

Definitely recommend this novel for those who want a break from dystopian and fantasy. Perfect for those who want a different twist to contemporary.

Interview:

An interview with CJ Lyons and her niece Abby, who was the inspiration for the character in Broken. Abby actually has Long QT Syndrome, the same heart condition the main character suffers from.  CJ diagnosed her 20 minutes after she was born.

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

HOOKED ON AUDIOBOOKS

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.

HOOKED ON AUDIOBOOKS:

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.

HAPPY LISTENING!

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.
tumblr_mg88keWtII1s2dhf8o1_500

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.

Highlights from the School Library Journal #TeenSummer Online Event #SLJST
Jul 24th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Summerteen2013_header10

Today, I participated in the online School Library Journal SummerTeen event, which I would describe as an outstanding, informative, dynamic, interactive event with live web broadcasts, panel discussions, chats with authors, publishers, a film director & fellow YA enthusiasts-teachers, librarians, writers. Besides the online site through SLJ, we used the hashtag #SLJST to connect with others. It was a productive time and I found myself glued to the computer and actively participating and listening. It took me over an hour to prepare the omelet I made for lunch because I kept turning back to my computer.

Here were some of my favorite tweets I posted or RT
today:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17262252While visiting the Candlewick booth, I learned about FALLOUT by Todd Strasser. The publication date is September 10, 2013 and there are 272 pages. I think it will be a fascinating historical fiction novel and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:
What if the bomb had actually been dropped? What if your family was the only one with a shelter?

In the summer of 1962, the possibility of nuclear war is all anyone talks about. But Scott’s dad is the only one in the neighborhood who actually prepares for the worst. As the neighbors scoff, he builds a bomb shelter to hold his family and stocks it with just enough supplies to keep the four of them alive for two critical weeks. In the middle of the night in late October, when the unthinkable happens, those same neighbors force their way into the shelter before Scott’s dad can shut the door. With not enough room, not enough food, and not enough air, life inside the shelter is filthy, physically draining, and emotionally fraught. But even worse is the question of what will — and won’t — remain when the door is opened again. Internationally best-selling author Todd Strasser has written his most impressive and personal novel to date, ruthlessly yet sensitively exploring the terrifying what-ifs of one of the most explosive moments in human history.

I also was fascinated by this YA book trailer for Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen, which is being published by Blink YA Books:

Another highlight was Penguin’s Authors Stand Up for Free Speech video, which talks about banned books:

My tweet:

Over at Disney, I participated in a wonderful chat with Tamara Ireland Stone (see tweet above about the video I discovered) and am thrilled to have been able to download onto my iPad her newest book TIME AFTER TIME! I absolutely LOVED her first novel, TIME BETWEEN US! I had posted about it on my blog here: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=1374

Here’s the video:

At Scholastic, I chatted with Katie Alender, author of Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer. I learned that she spent quite a bit of time in Paris researching this novel and took  forty-five minute tour of the Catacombs. When I asked her what her most surprising discovery was while doing research for this novel, she said that Paris was the perfect location for a murdering ghost! And since I’ve been to Paris, I’d have to agree. Lots of old buildings, nooks and crannies, and, of course, the Catacombs!

I listened to several webinars, including Tamora Pierce who was the keynote speaker. (See tweets above.) I loved Allen Zadoff, author of Boy Nobody who was a part of the Real Life Mysteries and Thrillers Panel. (See tweets above.) Technology in Teen Lit and Humor Me! Panel were great too. (See tweets above.) I had no idea that Paul Rudnick was so funny!
I can’t thank SLJ, the publishers, authors, and participants enough for this free event. I look forward to participating next year.

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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