»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Four Excellent Stand Alone Novels I’ve Read/Listened to This Year
May 13th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Reviewing my Goodreads “read” page, I was surprised to see how many novels I’ve read this year were a part of a series. It made me think about my reading choices. Sometimes, it’s agony having to wait for the next book  in a series when I’m living to find out what happens next. I mark my calendar, hope for an ARC, and often pre-order! Once in awhile, I actually wait for the series to be completed, especially a trilogy) before I read book two. There are plenty of exceptions- by Maggie Stiefvater, for example, will be one of them.

I didn’t start the Lux Series by Jennifer Armetrout until recently. I gobbled up books 1-3, but now I’m longing for the next one. I loved being able to read three books back-to-back. Now I’m waiting, waiting, waiting along with other fans.

Because I devour so many novels, I don’t want to reread or skim to remind myself what happened. So I don’t. I’ll dive into the next book in the series and get caught up quickly. But this comes at a price. It’s possible I miss some of the author’s nuances that carry through a series.

It’s nice to have a little relief from the waiting. You gotta love the stand alone novels. Beginning, Middle, End. Done! So here’s a few I recommend:

PRINT:

16101080OUR SONG by Jordanna Fraiberg is a hauntingly beautiful, mysterious, and captivating romantic page turner. Masterfully crafted.

For all those YA who have been deeply confused by their relationships when they suddenly take a huge plunge without obvious warning signs, OUR SONG is an eye-opener. What’s been missing? Is the perfect boy really so perfect? How does he impact your self-esteem? Wake up!

The novel opens with Olive recovering from a horrible car crash. She’s only alive because paramedics resuscitated her. Many rumors surround the circumstances behind the accident that just might not have been an accident, but a cry for help. Was it? The circumstances of that rainy night unfold as readers wonder about Olive’s mental state. Immediately, you will know something occurred with her ex-boyfriend Derek because Olive was driving his car. He comes across as heartless and selfish. It’s hard to understand what Olive saw in this jerk. What I deeply appreciate about this character is knowing that there are plenty of girls who go out with guys similar to Derek and take their crap. I hope this novel will be insightful. Who doesn’t know someone who has gone out or hooked up with guys just like this?

As Olive tries to deal with the circumstances behind the accident and her near-death experience, she joins an interesting support group. There, she meets a boy named Nick who helps Olive become more grounded. As they learn to trust each other, they share many adventures. Still, there’s lots of mystery behind Nick. Finding out his story is definitely a highlight.

There are lots of interesting family dynamics going on for both Olive and Nick. Olive’s parents seem to be struggling with their relationship. Her mother has an obsession with gardening and baking. Her father is a workaholic and spends a lot of time away from the family. I love her eight-year-old brother Noah. Despite the large age gap between them, Olive and Noah have a special, sweet bond. Nick has absent parents and readers will wonder why this bright young man has so much time on his hands.

The book unfolds beautifully, weaving words to a song that plays over and over again in Olive’s mind. A message? A warning?

She has a lot to learn about love, life, friendship, and her family. Sometimes a person has repeat experiences/bad choices in order to get it right and find the courage to be their best, strongest self.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith15790873

Clever, fun, sweet, romantic!

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this novel about an accidental slip of one letter that leads to an email exchange between Graham, a Hollywood star actor and Ellie, a girl with her own secrets. She lives in Henley, a small town in Maine. She shares life in Middle-of-Nowhere as he tells her about life in Middle-of-Everything, CA. When Graham has the opportunity to arrange for part of his next movie to be filmed in Henley, he goes in search of of Ellie. At this point, each has kept their identities secret from the other. This changes quickly when Graham comes to town. The connection to Ellie runs deep, but it’s not so easy for her to let him in. The boy she communicated with and revealed so much of herself to doesn’t quite jive with this big-time star. He has his own wounds and self-preservation keeps him from pursuing her after the paparazzi go crazy over his new “love” interest. With time running out, they can’t bare to stay apart. This leads to an interesting adventure and some tender moments, capturing “what happy looks like.”

This Is What Happy Looks Like is another wonderful book by the talented Jennifer E. Smith.

AUDIO:

873584An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green. YA  – This John Green novel was published in September 2006. It won the Printz Honor Award.

My husband and I listened to An Abundance of Katherines on a road trip. It’s the perfect YA novel to share with family (if you don’t get embarrassed with an occasional sex reference.) – 1. Male narrator. 2. Lots of humor they guys can relate to. 3. Brilliant writing. 4. Male characters who are hysterical and quirky. 5. Incredible story – strong values, insightful.

Colin Singleton has dated nineteen Katherines – not Kat or Catherine or Katie or Kate – and when the last one dumps him, he’s devastated. During the summer between high school and college, Colin goes on a road trip with his BFF, Hassan. Their adventure is a powerful experience as Colin – boy prodigy and anagram expert – discovers where he’s gone wrong with his nineteen Katherines relationships. There are also insightful moments that help define friendship.

Narrated by Jeff Woodman. He did a great job switching from one character to another, changing voices and adding a special touch to their personalities with his intonation. <3 it.

This novel will make you lol, smile, and appreciate the what makes each of us unique. Highly recommend.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turage – MG, won the Newberry Honor (2013)

14580933

I absolutely LOVED this audio! The change of voices was spot on and captured the essence of the story. There were many lol moments. The story is about Mo (aka Moses), an eleven-year-old girl who was found as a baby after a hurricane without any trace of her parents. She writes letters and sticks them in a bottle to her “upstream mother.” She has a best friend Dale and they have a detective agency. With the agency, they find lost dogs and investigate a murder! The circumstances are funny and touching. I love the Lavender, Dale’s older brother. Mo has a crush on him and it’s quite sweet. Miss Lana raises Mo as her own, and I have to say that I am deeply touched by their closeness. There’s also the Colonel who found Mo during the hurricane and is a father figure in Mo’s life. I love the suspense, the mystery, and the eccentric characters. This is a wonderful book for middle graders. The audio is perfect for a road trip with MG kids. The entire family will love it

Waiting on Wednesday (2) – THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE By Jennifer E. Smith
Feb 6th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Waiting on Wednesday

This is What Happy Looks Like

By Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Publisher: Poppy, 416 pages

15790873From Goodreads:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

My thoughts: This looks so like a sweet, romanic novel – a perfect combo as far as I’m concerned. I loved Jennifer’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which had me hooked from page one.

For more information about Jennifer E. Smith, check out her website: http://www.jenniferesmith.com

 

 

 

 

BEA & NYC YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party Highlights & Giveaway
Jun 10th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

It all started with this:

 

 

 

 

 

I hadn’t planned on going to BEA (Book Expo America), but Jeremy’s tweet got me thinking. So, I talked to my husband Jim about it. Without any hesitation, he said that of course I had to go. I contacted Nili, one of my many cousins who live in NYC, and asked if I could stay with her. That led to one simple thought: Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a party with YA authors and bloggers?

That thought led to action. I contacted Nili about renting a space in her apartment building, which turned out to be the glass enclosed rooftop solarium on the forty-second floor of her building. I had never seen the space, but I could imagine how spectacular the view would be – The Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, the Hudson River, Hoboken, NJ. Nili didn’t hesitate, and because of her, this party became reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! xo (See pictures here: http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1122 )

Almost immediately, I knew I’d need some help. The talented blogger/designer Jeremy West of Novel Thoughts http://www.novelthoughtsblog.com/ jumped on board to make the gorgeous evites, logo, etc, and then the fabulous Andye and Amy from Reading Teen http://www.readingteen.net/, whom I’ve admired and respected for years because of their thorough and fair book reviews, their sense of humor, their willingness to blog about their opinions on tough topics in YA novels.

The NYC YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party was on its way.

At the very beginning, there were a few moments of doubt. Will people come? But I asked myself what the worst case scenario would be. The answer was simple – the money spent would be gone and no one would show up but us. (After all, BEA week is extremely busy and authors and bloggers have other parties to attend.) I decided I could live with these risks. Huge expenditure of time, energy, money. But in one conversation I had with Jeremy, I said, “I’d rather take the risk and fall flat on my face, than not try at all.” Generally speaking, that’s one of my philosophy’s toward life. It has served me well.

The experience was way more than we could ever imagined. Each of us brought our strengths to the table and shared ideas through email, Skype, Google Video Chat, texting, and HeyTell. Andye kept an online spreadsheet that included authors and their publishers, bloggers, RSVPs, author facts for our True and False icebreaker. It took tremendous organization and communication. I’ve planned parties in Milwaukee, but never one out of state. I never thought about how convenient it is to get in a car, drive to the grocery store, and get everything I need. In NYC, you have to think about what you can carry. Delivery service is the absolute norm. We had lists of items to bring from out-of-town-I checked two bags at the airport and Amy and Andye’s car was loaded with the centerpieces, books, etc. Jeremy took a bus with name tags, our True and False icebreaker activity, and a canvas he designed for all the authors to sign for one of the ten raffles we had.

These are the book covers of the authors who joined us!

The raffles included Amy’s magnificent book-themed centerpieces (to see her incredible work click here: http://www.readingteen.net/2012/06/my-bookish-crafty-project-for-rooftop.html, Starbucks gift certificates, books, and journals with a cover designed by my husband using all the authors’ covers and Jeremy’s logo. Party favors included blinking “lightbulb” pens, glow-in-the-dark items, Figment tot bags, which we filled with books from Candlewick, Sourcebooks, Harlequin, Flux, Little Brown, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Disney, Pendrell, Bloombury, Harper Collins, Random House, Macmillan, Hachette. Thank you to all these publishers for making the party extra special by donating YA novels for us to share. In addition, Simon and Schuster gave us suntan lotion in honor of Burn for Burn, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s new YA novel.

Nili’s apartment was filled with boxes from publishers, party places, and on the day of, tons and tons of food and beverages.

Several additional people were integral to making this party a success. Jeremy West’s awesome brother Jeffrey of Novel Thoughts was our official photographer and also had been a part of some of the planning. So glad you could make it to NYC. Thanks so much. xo

From nearly the very beginning, Kelsey Dickson of Reading and Breathing gave us a hand. She put together the playlist for the evening, including songs she found on authors’ playlists of the music they listened to while writing their YA novels. She also brought disposable cameras and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, which were a HUGE hit! She helped set up, too. Thanks Kels! xo

The YA from Reading Teen, Austin, Abigaile, and Kit, also were an integral part of the party. Their help was critical for putting our gift bags together, setting up, welcoming our guests, cleaning up. Y’all are awesome! Thank you so much. xo

And my cousin Aryeh, who stayed behind the scene and kept everyone in refreshments and made Amy laugh. Love you. xo

Mitali of Alley of Books and the Teen Author Carnival also came early to help set up. Thanks!

Throughout the planning, we prayed for good weather. (It did end up raining a little, but for the majority of the time, we could use not only the solarium, but the rooftop.) By eight o’clock, the guests arrived. Some of the authors made near Herculean efforts to get to us, including Adele Griffin who was in a taxi for an hour! Tweets were sent, some with the hashtag #RooftopParty. Many of the authors said it was the BEST party they had been to all week. Overall, the evening was a HUGE success. There was laughter, photos taken, budding friendships formed, breathtaking views.

To hear about the experience from Stacy and Shannon from Girls in the Stacks, listen to their comments about the Rooftop Party, which start at approximately 13:00 minutes. (I recommend the entire podcast – their comments about the BEA will make you smile and laugh.) http://girlsinthestacks.com/podcasts/ya-podcast/2012/06/bea-2012/

I have a few more highlights to share with you, but these come from the BEA and the Teen Author Carnival.

Lucas Klauss and Jennifer E. Smith

Jackson Pearce and Eliot Schrefer

Teen Author Carnival was held Tuesday night at Jefferson Market Library. The panel discussions were fantastic. I went to “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful – Keeping it Realistic” and “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger (Kick Ass Characters)” with over twenty YA authors. http://teenauthorcarnival.tumblr.com/

I saw numerous twitter/blogger friends including Briana from The Book Pixie. Neither of us knew the other was attending, and we just happened to get into the same loooog book signing line right next to each other. I’ll cherish our hug and conversation for a long time. Seeing Stacy (and later Shannon) from Girls In The Stacks also made my day. I saw the AWESOME Lauren Oliver and had her sign her latest middle grade book.

Lauren Oliver and me

Patricia MacLachlan and me

On Wednesday, I arrived extra early for the Children’s Breakfast. To my utter amazement, I was standing next to the legendary Newbery Metal award winning author Patricia MacLachlan. Goose bumps bloomed all over my skin. Talking with her was a tremendous honor. She was so kind, even when I went completely fangirl and asked to have my photo taken with her.

Chris Colfer from “Glee” MC’d the breakfast. He was hysterical, joking with the crowd that he wrote the fan-fiction Fifty Shades of Green, in honor of John Green. You can listen to the clip here: http://lover4klaineandcrisscolfer.tumblr.com/post/24540342391/chris-colfer-confesses-to-writing-the-fifty-shades

Lois Lowry had people in tears. She spoke about her journey writing The Giver and the three novels that followed. She talked about how her son who was killed serving our country influenced her writing. It was his questions that led to writing The Giver.  She said that every generation must have hope to vanquish evil.

I met some extraordinary people standing in line for author book signs. Those connections will stay with me for a long time, and I feel truly grateful and blessed to have made them.

TO SEE PHOTOS OF THE NYC YA AUTHOR/BLOGGER ROOFTOP PARTY GO HERE: http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1122

GIVEAWAY:  In honor of the Rooftop Party and BEA, I’m offering several giveaways, including this prize package of Burn for Burn and a signed copy by Rebecca Serle of her newYA novel When You Were Mine, which has been optioned for a movie!

WINNERS CHOSEN – SEE SCOOT READ & UNABRIDGED SHELF, THANKS TO ALL FOR ENTERING 

BURN FOR BURN, by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, BURN FOR BURN Sunscreen, Figment Bag, and a signed copy of WHEN YOU WHERE MINE by Rebecca Serle

Entering the giveaway is easy – just leave a comment. Posting on Facebook or tweeting about it adds an extra entry, please let me know. AND, extra entry if you follow me on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/#!/LizaWiemer – Let me know if you’re a Twitter friend. 😀 Giveaway ends Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 8 PM CST. (US and Canada only)

To enter additional giveaways from our Rooftop Party go here:

Reading Teen

http://www.readingteen.net/2012/06/rooftop-after-party-giveaway.html

Novel Thoughts –

novelthoughtsblog.com/2012/06/bea-rooftop-after-party-giveaway.html

 

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