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The Best MG/YA Novels About Death, Dying, or Those Left Behind
Apr 9th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

DEATH. It’s inevitable. And even though DEATH isn’t the biggest fear for MG/YA, (alienation from peers is number one according to a child psychologist friend who conducted a study on the topic) it is still a topic YA think about. Yesterday, I finished reading The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. It was another powerful read about the main character dying of cancer that left my head spinning and my dreams mingled with images right off the pages. When I woke up, I started thinking about how many MG/YA novels I’ve read on this topic. I searched my Goodreads list and I realized that DEATH is definitely a reoccurring theme. No, I am not DEATH obsessed at all. But it’s everywhere – from the Hunger Games to Under the Never Sky to Across the Universe—all fantastic novels I highly recommend. In those novels, characters are murdered and DEATH is prevalent. But they don’t necessarily address the deeper issues of DEATH. So, I decided to compile a list for readers who are looking for some of the BEST novels that dig into this topic. In no particular order:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, WhoRuBlog post: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=1043

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, my Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/227446798

Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245856732

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/215029968

Fracture by Megan Miranda, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/243297421

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/151807847

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz, Goodread review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/226657322

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223975181

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223975181

Elsewhere by Gabriella Zevin, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/274770802

Between by Jessica Warman, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/207351225

The Everafter by Amy Huntley, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/162762230

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/174050466

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/150999990

Deadline by Chris Crutcher, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/104403811

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/91838896

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/115787142

Read and added on April 21, 2012 – after recommendations from several YA book bloggers: The Catastrophic History of You and Me, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/195927203

MIDDLE GRADE:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (author), Siobhad Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator), Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/234705851

Radiance, Shimmer, Dreamland (Riley Bloom Series, 1, 2, 3) by Alyson Noel, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223997625

Would love to know your favorites. Feel free to share by clicking on comments. 

 

 

Let’s Eat: A Novel Cuisine – Wisconsin YA Book Bloggers/Librarians Dinner!
Dec 20th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Enjoy cooking? Try some yummy food inspired by ten YA novels written by eight awesome authors.

On December 19th, seven Wisconsin YA book bloggers/librarians/book addicts met for our first book club meeting. And what a night we had!!! Heidi from http://www.yabibliophile.com , Rani from Next Chapter Bookstore http://twitter.com/#!/couldberuthless, Jillian from http://heisereads.blogspot.com, Erica from http://www.thebookcellarx.com Sasha http://twitter.com/#!/FzngWizbee, Maggie http://twitter.com/#!/MaggieMelchior and me. We had a blast talking about YA novels we loved from 2011, novels we can’t believe we waited so long to read, novels that surprised us or disappointed us. We talked about the authors who have hilarious tweets and are so wonderful in person. (There are a lot of them!!!!) We talked about how we review books for our blogs and Goodreads. Time flew by! It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time with just the best gals to hang out with and talk books. And I can’t WAIT for our next book club meeting, which is scheduled for February. For more info check out the awesome Heidi’s post! http://www.yabibliophile.com/2011/12/my-book-club-rocks.html

Besides reading and writing YA, cooking is another one of my passions. (I used to volunteer my time and cater events for a non-profit organization. That’s how much I love to cook. :) ) Whenever food is mentioned in a novel, I pay attention. And so I decided to create a menu and cook a dinner as a surprise for our first book club meeting. All the recipes were inspired by YA novels. Some mentioned a specific food, like mariquitas in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Noah and Mara

Mariquitas and Garlicky Sauce inspired from THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin (Click photo to enlarge)

are eating in a Cuban restaurant in Miami, page 222) while others mentioned atype of food, for example Korean in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Lola runs into Mr. Lim and asks him about his Korean restaurant, referenced on page 9. Lindsey Lim is Lola’s best friend.)

Here’s the menu and the YA novels that inspired the food:

A NOVEL CUISINE (All recipes are vegetarian except the chicken tikki masala, but feel free to substitute tofu)

Pita Chips (How to Ruin a Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles)

Chummus (How to Ruin a Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles)

Guacamole (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles)

Mariquitas w/ Garlicky Sauce (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin)

Hot-Sour Soup (Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, If I Stay by Gayle Forman)

Chicken Tikki Masala (We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han)

Brown Rice (We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han)

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi inspired by LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi inspired by LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins (Click photo to enlarge)

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)

Moelleux au Chocolat (Molten Lava Cakes) with Strawberry Sauce

(Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)

Sprecher* Cherry Cola  (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Duff by Koby Keplinger)

Hot Mint Tea (Timepiece by Myra McEntire)

Water with Sliced Lime (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin)

*Note – Sprecher is a Wisconsin favorite local brewery. Try and find their soda if you can. Once you taste their cherry soda, will will never want to drink Cherry Coke or Cherry Pepsi again!

Click here for ALL THE RECIPEShttp://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1015

Video Interview with NYTBS Author Lauren Oliver & Giveaway
Oct 16th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Lauren Oliver, October 11, 2011

On Tuesday, October 11th I, along with two other Wisconsin bloggers, Heidi Zweifel http://yabibliophile.blogspot.com/ and Jillian   Heise http://heisereads.blogspot.com, had the great pleasure of conducting video interviews with New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Oliver, who was in town to speak about her new middle grade novel, Liesel & Po. The experience was fantastic. It’s not every day you get to meet someone you admire deeply and I’m sure by the look on my face you’ll be able to see how thrilled I was. Thank you Lauren!

Giveaway:

In honor of my first video interview, readers will have a chance to win a signed ARC of Liesl & Po. To enter answer the following question: Winter, spring, summer, or fall? What’s your season and why? (This was the last question I asked Lauren – something fun and different. 😀 ) Followers of this blog receive an extra entry, please let me know if you are. Tweet this post or link it on Facebook also adds an extra entry. Please let me know. Giveaway ends October 23, 8:00 PM CST.  Ashley Gafford is the randomly selected winner! Congrats.

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

To learn more about Liesl & Po, read my five star Goodreads review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/160806945

Here are a few quotes from Lauren:

“The only thing that nauseates me more than writing is not writing.”

Books don’t live without readers to read them.”

“My father always would tell me, ‘The life of a writer has as least as many difficulties as it does rewards. But also if you are a writer you cannot choose not to write.'”

“I try do what I can to kill the fear.”

Heidi Zweifel’s  YA Bibliophile’s Part 1 – Interview with Lauren Oliver (Learn more about Liesl & Po!): http://tinyurl.com/6hx8mwq

Jillian Heise’s Heise & Recommends Part 2 – Interview with Lauren Oliver: http://tinyurl.com/6fyt5ad

And here’s my interview Part 3 – Interview with Lauren Oliver:

Don’t miss Lauren’s other fabulous YA novels:

    

Brilliant NOVELS by Brilliant YA Authors – Gayle Forman, Lauren Oliver, Jandy Nelson
Apr 13th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

This is a very quick post, my friends, but I need to share with you some YA novels that have  blown me AWAY!

Gayle Forman’s Where She Went – the sequel to If I Stay – OMG incredible. So absolutely amazing. Can’t stop thinking about these books, can’t stop talking about them.

Here’s my comments about If I Stay as posted on Goodreads: This book received the 2010 Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Honor – Superb! Do you have a choice to live or to die? How does one continue on when everything is lost? This is an emotionally charged, powerful YA novel perfect for YA and adults. The voices are powerful and intense, the characters interesting and passionate about life and music. Don’t miss this novel!

My comments about Where She Went: I loved WHERE SHE WENT, every word. I started it around ten and stayed up until I finished it three hours later, and I can’t stop thinking about it. (I had a hard time falling asleep after that, so I reread some of my favorite parts.) Seriously, I don’t think you could get any more perfect than this novel when it comes to depth of character, emotional baggage, authenticity of voice.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but what’s there to criticize about this book? In my opinion it doesn’t get better than this. WHERE SHE WENT had to be one of the most gut-wrenching books ever written. Perhaps I’m experiencing sympathy pains as an author – knowing what it’s like to put everything into your characters and have your characters put everything into you, into your book – THIS IS IT! WHERE SHE WENT is lyrical and beautiful. I love Adam and Mia. Wow, talk about a phoenix rising from the ashes.
I know IF I STAY is being made into a movie – and I do wonder if this book will be incorporated. I could visualize every scene, all the heartbreak. This one will haunt me for a long time. Incredible, absolutely mind-blowing incredible. Do not miss IF I STAY or WHERE SHE WENT.

Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere – Loved it! A few weeks ago I stood in Borders and recommended this to so many teens. Had a frank discussion with quite a few girls and all of a sudden we had a nice crowd and an amazing time talking about this book and other favorites. Here’s what I had to say about it as posted on Goodreads: Oh yeah, I loved this book! It’s not too often that I go back and reread sections of a novel, but I did with this one! So vivid, heartbreaking, lovely, romantic! And wow the creative storytelling through poems written on scraps of paper, trees, benches, napkins, paper cups . . . loved it! This is a novel that takes you in, holds you close, and takes you along page by page on an emotional roller coaster! Hop on, you’ll love the ride!

Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Delirium – Two absolutely extraordinary YA novels that I’ve recommended over and over and over again. And Lauren, your endings get to me every time! Holy wow!

My comment as posted on Goodreads about Delirium: DON’T READ PAST THIS FIRST LINE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT I DID AT THE END!
This book was so extraordinary. Loved the characters, the settings, the premise of LOVE being a disease. Lauren Oliver is a BRILLIANT writer. I read the ending at least 10 times. I cried and cried and cried and cried! Then I paced the living room floor, headed to the bathroom for tissues, and started over again! OMG! Truly one of the most mind-blowing endings I’ve ever read. I could picture it perfectly in my mind. This book takes hold of your heart and doesn’t let go! WOW! JUST WOW!

My comments about Before I Fall: Impossible to put down! Another must-read for teachers, parents, and of course HS students. BEFORE I FALL will leave you breathless and wondering until the very last page. Brilliant, extraordinary… the characters will jump off the page and become a part of you. This is a novel you need to read more than once because you don’t want to miss any nuance or angle. Lauren Oliver-a standing ovation! Before I Fall is an honors winner for the Milwaukee County Teen Book Awards (MCTBA) for 2011! Well deserved.
http://mctba.wordpress.com/

DO YOU WANT TO WIN A COPY OF LAUREN OLIVER’S MG NOVEL, LIESL & PO – GO TO HER WEBSITE NOW http://laurenoliverbooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/introducingliesl-po.html


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