Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern Blog Tour PLUS Giveaway



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About the Book: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan. But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED. In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.


I am so excited to be participating in the blog tour for Flawed, Cecelia Ahern's YA debut. Cecelia is one of my favorite authors, so of course I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book! 


You've published many novels, but this is your first for YA. What inspired you to make the jump to young adult fiction? Is writing for YA different than writing for adults?

I had no grand plan to write YA, what I did and what I always do is to write whatever story is most powerful in my head at the time. My novel THE BOOK OF TOMORROW was seen as a crossover book for YA and adult and I have had younger readers ever since I wrote PS I Love You so I didn't feel like I was taking a great leap or that I had to adjust my writing. What was different was the concept of the story, the pacy thriller like feel, the fact that it is saying a lot about the society that we are living in while maintaining the same feel as my other novels. I didn't have to adjust anything about my writing, I just got into the head of my character Celestine and saw the world from her eyes. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks, it just flowed from me, I wrote it with passion and rage and with so much heart. This book had to be written, I had no choice in the matter! My heart was pounding the entire time, it was an overwhelming story to write from start to finish. 


Is there anything in your dystopian world that was inspired by current events? What gave you the idea to create this word?

I was inspired by the fact I believe we live in a judgemental world, one that is quick to publicly shame people, to finger point and hold people accountable for their mistakes,  or for their decisions that society deems to be a mistake. Society mocks and judges, and the opportunity for second chances  is rare.
Flawed is not set in the future, it is today, it is our modern world, contemporary society. It is everything we say and do to each other now, we already label people so I took it one step further by creating an actual morality court where The Guild and its 3 powerful judges reside.
Angelina Tinder was found Flawed because she travelled to a country where Euthanasia was legal and assisted her mother's death. The Guild branded her in her home country despite the fact she carried it out legally. This mirrors the abortion situation in Ireland where 12 women a day travel to the UK for abortions but it is illegal in Ireland. In the famous X case, the court stopped a 14 year old girl who was raped, from travelling to the UK for an abortion.

Flawed at Birth children are taken from their flawed parents at birth. This is similar to aboriginal children in Australia who were forcibly removed from their parents in order to "dilute the gene pool" and we had a similar case in Ireland where children were taken from single unmarried mothers and raised in state institutions.

A famous footballer who cheats on his wife is brought to a Flawed court but his wife becomes the media target as it's discussed why he cheated, whose fault it is, as I believe is the case in reality. 

Celestine's mother is a famous model who judges people by their appearance, as do many people. She feels she can't trust people who have any physical flaws and I fear there is a great pressure on teenagers, and all ages, to have a certain flawless appearance which is impossible & unattainable naturally.

Parents are found Flawed for removing their son who has cancer from hospital and trying to find alternative methods. This is based on a real case where parents of a boy were arrested for taking him from hospital. 

Of course the most obvious comparison is World War 2. The Flawed rules are similar to the anti - Jewish decrees and the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Everything I write about in Flawed is real. What's terrifying is reading this novel thinking how awful it would be and then realising these things have happened in our past, are happening in our present. You don't have to look far in this world to find regimes like that in Flawed.


Your first book was published when you were 21. Has your writing process changed as you've published more novels?

Flawed is my 13th novel and of course there's been a real growth in my writing, as you would hope for and expect over 13 years. I think they're deeper, darker and better. They are still emotional journeys about people going through difficult dark moments in their lives, with hope and humour.


You've written novels, short stories, plays and for TV. What do you enjoy about writing in different formats and styles? Do you think one comes more naturally than another?

Writing novels is my first love. I have such freedom in my novels to go wherever I want. I can work alone and truly create my own world. I enjoy the challenges that TV and film bring, the main difference being that they are collaborative processes and I work to a network's brief even if the network say they don't have a brief. They always do!! 

What were some of your favorite novels as a teen?

I don't remember the book choices being as ripe and plentiful as they are now but I did read a huge amount. I don't recall YA specialised sections in book stores so I just took what appealed to me from adult shelves. Early in my teens I read Sweet Valley High, the Babysitters Club, the Famous Five, then moved on to novels like Cane River by Lalita Tademy, John Grisham. The Diary of Anne Frank is my most read novel. I also loved Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon McKenna. 

One of the things I really enjoyed most about reading Flawed was how much it made me think about our current culture. How much time do we spend judging others or worrying about what people will think of us? Our culture is full of gossip, rumors, reality TV, and social media and each of those carries with it a way to form opinions on everyone and share our thoughts in a very public forum. Celestine is thrown into the middle of a battle and she's seen as the face for both sides-is she a hero for standing up to the Flawed or is she a catalyst for change? There is a lot to discuss and I think Flawed could make a great book discussion title!

Thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, one lucky winner will receive a copy of Flawed as well as some swag from both sides of the pond!
-Contest open to ages 13+
-US/Canada address only
-Contest ends 4/12
-One entry per person




Follow the tour for more chances to win and to find out more about Flawed!

April 5- Nite Lite Book Reviews (US)
April 5- Two Chicks on Books (US)
April 5- Green Bean Teen Queen (US)
April 5- Writing.ie (Ireland)
April 5- Overflowing Library (UK)
April 6Icey Books (US)
April 6Supernatural Snark (US)
April 6- Paper Cuts Blog (US)
April 6Serendipity Reviews (UK)
April 6Bleach House Library (Ireland)
April 6Bart's Bookshelf (UK)
April 7- Forever Young Adult (US)
April 7Bumbles and Fairytales (US)
April 7Rainy Day Ramblings (US)
April 7Swoony Boys Podcast (US)
April 7A Daydreamer's Thoughts (UK)
April 7The Bibliomaniac (UK)
April 7Kirstyes (UK)
April 7Wrath Queen's Books (UK)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dear Books: Please Update Your Libraries

There is nothing worse than coming across a book you are really enjoying only to be pulled out of it because of some outdated and incorrect library reference. I know that authors and illustrators will not always get everything 100% accurate, but I when I read books that show a very dated stereotype, or something that is just so incorrect, I always wonder why. I feel like authors and illustrators should know better! And it's not just older books-it happens in new books too!

I recently read A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper and illustrated by Anna Raff. 


I absolutely loved this book! It's a creative look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. It's perfect for my outreach visits and storytimes about the library and promoting what value there is in a library card. Anna Raff gets major points for illustrating a very cool and hip librarian as well!

But the librarian tells card to shush and is a bit annoyed when he shows up. And then library card helps his new owner stamp across all his books and stamp dates to return them. There's also mostly talk about how you can check out lots of books at the library-but libraries are so much more than books! We have computers, movies, music, devices, toys, databases, downloadable content, programs, meeting spaces-so much to offer!

Sure, there are small libraries that still may use stamps-but most libraries don't. I feel like for an new book it could provide an updated view on libraries. 

And what about books that clearly violate a library policy? Most libraries I know have some sort of policy about unattended children. Libraries have an age limit to where children can be left alone. Yet in two recent picture books, the parents tell the kids "I'll be in the adult area-be back soon. Have fun!" leaving the kids alone. 



Sure, it's fiction, it's fun, and I wanted to love The Not So Quiet Library  but the librarian in me just couldn't take the Dad leaving the son (who appears to be pretty young!) alone in a multi-level library. It's a public building!!! My librarian self just couldn't get past it. I would be chasing him down explaining our unattended children policy and reminding him he needs to be with his child. Sigh...

I know, I know-let it go. But then it happened again! And this time in a book that's not a silly story but a book intended to teach readers about the library:



OK, maybe you can convince me that the boy in The Not So Quiet Library is old enough to be on his own but not true for the boy in Library Day! Especially when his Dad drops him off for storytime and leaves him there by himself! NOT OK! Not to mention how incredibly outdated this one is in its many references and illustrations of the library. This came out this year but it feels like it was written twenty years ago. I'm not the only one who has this problem-Goodreads is full of librarians who feel the same way.

And I hate when books show illustrations or photographs of a librarian reading a book at storytime, only they are holding the book the wrong way and not showing the pictures! That's not how you do it! That's not storytime! It's so frustrating!


(So this picture is really for no storytime happening, but I like it as an example of this is how you don't read your books in storytime! Show those pictures!!!)


Have any books shown libraries or librarians in a good light-or more realistic light-lately? Kwame Alexander gets the award here for the best representation of a librarian in recent literature. 



The school librarian in Booked is smart and funny, a bit nerdy and a bit cool (like many librarians I know!), is always encouraging the kids to read and try something new and is always searching for a book they will like. He cares about his students, is happy to have them in the library and encourages them to use the library and all its resources. 

Do you get frustrated with libraries in librarians in books? Any recent bad (or good) representations of libraries and librarians you've read recently? 


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Picture Book Review: Dig In by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Mary Peterson

Release Date: 3/1/2016

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As a librarian who does toddler storytime, I am always on the lookout for great new toddler books. It feels like I repeat the same books over and over with my little ones. So I get very excited when a book like Dig In! comes across my desk.

Dig In! is a child's exploration of playing outside in the dirt. From digging in the dirt to finding worms, snails, rocks and then water to make messy mud, each page takes a new experience or discovery and presents in from a young child's view. The text is simplistic enough that young children can follow along and the overall book is engaging and exciting. It's short enough to be read aloud in toddler storytime even with antsy toddlers.

The illustrations, which according to the book were created using linoleum block prints on paper with some digital touch ups, are bright and colorful. They really pop on each page which makes them great for a crowd. The block prints help everything have it's defined space and it adds a bit of texture to the dirt, which I think young readers will find especially engaging. It's almost as if you can reach your hand out and touch the dirt on the page.

As Springtime approaches, Dig In! is a great new choice to add to storytime. It's perfect for a messy storytime where you get to play in the mud and it's a wonderful encouragement to families to get outside and play.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from  copy sent by publisher for review

Monday, February 29, 2016

Yes We Crab Reading Challenge: Final Update


It's the end of February which means the end of Yes We Crab! I wanted to read 20 books this month and post once a week. My blogging goal failed, but I did make my reading goal of 20 books-yay!

Here's what I finished the month up with:

 My Dog's a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
When a young girl isn't allowed to get a dog, she decides she'll turn a chicken into a dog. A pretty cute picture book for the K-2 crowd.

 A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Anna Raff

-My new favorite book to read at Library-themed outreach events and storytimes! This is a unique look at libraries through the eyes of a library card. And it's adorable!

 Swap! by Steve Light

-I just love Steve Light's pen and ink illustrations. Did you ever play that game where you started out with something small then had to go all around to try and upgrade and swap your item for something bigger? That's what this reminded me of-only with pirates.

 Whoops! by Suzi Moore, illustrated by Russell Ayto

-A new pick for storytime. Three animals who can't make any sounds seek out a lady with a spell that might help-only things keep going wrong. This is a perfect read-aloud with a hilarious ending.

 Peep and Egg I'm Not Hatching by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Joyce Wan

-A very cute tale about having courage perfect for the preschool set. Plus it's illustrated by Joyce Wan so you know Peep and Egg are adorable.

 No, No, Gnome! by Ashly Anstee

-Who can resist gnomes? I love them! This is a nice gardening tale with a gnome twist. I'm saving for when I get all the requests for Spring/garden/planting books. 

 Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller

-Move over Mo Willems and Bob Shea! Perfect for fans of books that break the fourth wall and have a great sense of humor. I'm planning on writing more about this one-it's a great storytime option and read aloud!

 The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

-Contemporary YA Romance. Reviewed for Booklist

 A Tiny Piece of Sky by Shwan K. Stout 

-Historical MG-a great read for middle grade to compare historical events (thoughts and actions towards German-Americans in 1940s) to now. Reviewed for AudioFile.

 Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

-Regency YA romance-a tounge-in-cheek look at the regency era. Reviewed for Booklist.

 Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

-Another Kate DiCamillo novel-and it's brilliant! More to come soon when I write a longer review!

How did you do on your Yes We Crab Goals? Any great reads you found this month?












Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Yes We Crab Reading Challenge Update!


Well, we're halfway through the #YesWeCrab reading challenge that several of my friends and I decided to do for February. I'm doing OK-not reading as much as I wanted and not posting what I wanted at all, but that's fine-I can catch up!

You can see what Abby the Librarian has been reading as well-she's got a great update! And you can follow the hashtag #yeswecrab on Twitter and see what others are up to!

Here's what I've read so far this month:


-I listened to the audio version of this one and it was fantastic! A magical anthropological fantasy-such a great combination and so unique! I loved the characters and it made me think about cultural appropriation in the name of research which was fantastic. 


-Another audiobook, this time for review for AudioFile. Perfect for time travel fans-I loved the thought and detail put into the time travel elements in this one. Also be warned the cliffhanger is a doozy!


-A great contemporary YA debut from an adult author. Reviewed for Booklist. 


-New Adult-ish sequel to The Intern, reviewed for Booklist.


-A fantastic picture that is non-fiction told in a poetic verse. The illustrations are beautiful and the author's notes and endpapers add to the reading experience making this one accessible to a wide range of ages. This is a book to watch come award season. 


-A cute "field guide" for newborns. This one came across on the new cart at work and I had to look at it. It's sure to make any new parent laugh and smile. There's also a "A Baby's Guide to Surviving Mom" which I haven't seen yet, but I'm sure both can be added to the baby shower arsenal. 


-Once again, Hurley's illustration style and minimal prose create a perfect preschool storytime book, this time about the day in the life of a family of rabbits. I got nervous when the fox started to come after the rabbits, but thankfully the circle of life is just hinted at and no rabbits are harmed-phew! I could not have handled Jorey Hurley's adorable rabbits being eaten!



-A pig who wants to wear shoes? Elizabeth Rose Stanton has the perfect quirky sense of humor in both her text and illustrations to pull it off. Plus, there's a pig pooping which equals instant storytime classic.

 Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato

-There's going to be a wedding, but they're worms! Who's the bride and who's the groom? Does it matter? Such a cute book that can have broad appeal-from science tie-ins to marriage equality to just plain fun. I mean, how cute are those worms?




Monday, February 1, 2016

February Reading Challenge: Yes We Crab!


Caldecott is over, family birthdays are over for a few months, and life is starting to get back into a routine that doesn't include piles of picture books every evening. (Well, at least picture books to take notes with-Toddler GreenBean ensures we have piles of picture books to read every night!!)

I really want to get back to reading for fun and reading chapter books again, but I feel so overwhelmed and I don't know where to start! Enter my wonderful friends and our February Reading Challenge-Yes We Crab!

Five years ago I met these lovely ladies at ALA Midwinter: Angie, Abby, Katie, Kelly and Drea  I often tell people that our fist meeting was like going to summer camp, meeting your best friend, and then having to go back home. Luckily, we get to see each other at least once and sometimes twice a year at ALA and we keep up with each other via Twitter, Email, Facebook. We are always sharing program ideas, library talk, and what we're reading. So when the others all said they wanted to do a reading challenge, we all jumped at the chance and Yes We Crab was born.

It's easy to join in! All you have to do is set a goal for yourself and follow along. Post your progress on Twitter with the hastag #yeswecrab and we'll cheer you along! Your goal can be about reading, about keeping up with blogging-anything! 

My Yes We Crab Goal: Read 20 books (and yes, picture books totally count!!!!) and write a blog post at least once a week. 

What's your February Reading Goal? Can we do it? Yes We Crab!
 
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