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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

YA Litwit shares her Commentary and Review of Skinny by Donna Cooner

 
 
Today Karis from YA Litwit has allowed me to share her post from this month. It has been taken directly from her blog and reposted as is. Amy and I appreciate her support and are more than happy to share with you, her commentary and review.
 
 
Commentary and Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner
 
 

 
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: October 1st, 2012

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Review:

Skinny was a difficult book to read, but a powerful one nonetheless. Usually YA books concerning weight and food issues deal with anorexia and/or bulimia; Skinny deals with the opposite- Ever is 15 years old, 5'6" tall, and is over 300 pounds. Ever deals with anything and everything negative that happens in her life by eating. She knows she shouldn't have that fourth muffin or that second Snickers, but she can't help it. Add to that the vicious little voice in her head who goes by the name Skinny. Every time something happens that Ever doesn't like, Skinny pipes up to mess with Ever's head. When Ever has something horrible happen to her in public, as a result of her weight, she makes the decision to undergo Gastric Bypass surgery. This book follows Ever on her journey to, through, and post surgery. It celebrates her triumphs, but also makes the reader aware that this was no risk-free, easy fix, which was really important, in my mind. There were a couple of issues that plagued me though... The first is a biggie- Ever isn't very likable. She is actually pretty mean and self-absorbed. She has a negative view of herself and has put up walls because of it, and much of the time, those walls were made of pure vitriol. That said, Ever did come around some, but I never really felt like I liked her much. Sure, I was rooting for her, but I still didn't like her much. Second, I felt like the whole thing had a little bit of a fairy-tale element that I think detracted from what the story COULD have been. The romantic element was a bit cheesy and I felt like Ever had a little bit too easy of a time adjusting socially after the surgery- high school is NOT like that... Aside from those issues though, I think Donna Cooner did a great job with the feelings. I've never been overweight, so I can't be sure, but in the end notes it says that she had similar success with Gastric Bypass. I'm sure that is one of the reasons for her intimate knowledge of Ever's mindset, and I think that's awesome because this book needed to be written. The best part for me was when Ever confronts Skinny in the end because I never expected what came with it. Really powerful!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Grade Level Recommendation: This is primarily a book for girls, and it is a book all tween and teen girls should read. It's pretty clean, and although there are some intense emotional moments, the content is fine for 5th grade and up (ages 10+).



Commentary:

What really struck me, what I found most thought-provoking about Skinny, was that even though Ever was teased some by the kids at school, most of the bullying Ever endured came from within. Ever's biggest bully was herself and her internal dialogue with Skinny. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and I was going to re-post a review of a book on the subject, that I have so much love for, called Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (read that review HERE), but as I read Skinny, it started to dawn on me that for some of us, WE are our own biggest bully. I was never really bullied in school, but I sure beat myself up when I didn't measure up to my own impossible standards, and I think there are A LOT of people out there like me; especially girls and women. Destructive self-talk is so damaging to the soul, but it is never addressed as "bullying", even though is often has the same end result- depression, suicide, emotional scarring... Some of the most "perfect" people I know have some of the lowest self-esteem and are some of the most emotionally damaged, but it all comes from within. I guess what I'm saying is that in honor of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, to make sure that you are not only working to prevent people from bullying other people, but also thinking about how you treat yourself and how those around you do the same. Sometimes a kind word is all that is needed to battle that bully inside someone's head...
 
 
 
 


Giveaway! 2 Don't Let Me Go & Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

 
 
This is it!!! Our very last giveaway for the month of October and our bullying events! J.H. Trumble has donated Where You Are and Don't Let Me Go to one lucky winner!
 
 
Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.

But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.

J.H. Trumble’s debut, DON’T LET ME GO, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a sweet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools.
 
 
 

Robert Westfall's life is falling apart-everywhere but in math class.
That's the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the
world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is
squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive,
and the career path that's been planned for him feels less appealing
by the day.

Robert's math teacher, Andrew McNelis, watches his best student
floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between
professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert's friend,
then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship-in
school and out of it-deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to
resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that
holds incalculable risks for both of them.

J.H. Trumble, author of the acclaimed Don't Let Me Go, explores a
controversial subject with extraordinary sensitivity and grace,
creating a deeply human and honest story of love, longing, and
unexpected connection.
 
 
 Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giveaway: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

 
 
Amy and I have a copy of Struck, donated by the lovely Jennifer Bosworth to giveaway today.
 
 

 
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
 
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Simone Elkeles speaks on Bullying and a Giveaway!


Simone Elkeles has shared her words on bullying today. When I first read her post, I found myself rooting for her! Standing up to people isn't easy, but sometimes it's just what nees to be done! She has also donated a copy of a super fab poster that I think you might be interested in!!
 
 
 
First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to participate in your blog’s celebration of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.
There’s almost nothing I hate more than bullying.  My entire life, I’ve always rooted for the underdog, whether we’re talking about football (which I love!) or social status. I was always very outgoing, so I was popular in middle school and high school.  I know it wasn’t that way for everyone and I felt bad for the kids who were picked on. When I was in school, if I saw someone being bullied, I always tried to make friends with them. 
One time, when I was in 8th grade, I saw a 7th grader being bullied by one of my classmates.  I walked over and told the girl that if she didn’t leave the other girl alone, I was going to kick her a**!  I must have scared the crap out of her because she apologized right away and never did it again.  Listen…Thank goodness she didn’t know that I had never (and still haven’t) been in a fight in my life!  I don’t know what I would have done if she’d taken me up on my offer of a fight! 
I definitely don’t condone fighting as a response to bullying, but I DO think you should stand up for yourself and for others.  That might mean just telling the bully to stop, or it might mean getting a parent, teacher, or authority figure involved.  No matter what, if you see someone being bullied, make friends with them.  Make sure they know they are not alone.  You never know when the tables might be turned and you’ll be the one needing a friend. 
Simone Elkeles
 
 
Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book Perfect Chemistry. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.
 
 
Now for the giveaway...
 
One lucky winner will receive a poster of the Fuentes brothers.
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
 

 

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Giveaway...Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

 
 
Today, Amy and I have Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti to giveaway. Susane has been genoerous enough to donate this copy for us to share with you.
 
 

 

Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.
 
 
 
Susane Colasanti is the author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, and Keep Holding On. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from New York University. Before becoming a full-time author, Susane was a high school science teacher for ten years. As a teenage Jersey girl, she felt like her true home was across the water in New York City. She now lives in downtown Manhattan. 
 
 
 
 
Giveaway:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
 
 
 

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Giveaway! Skinny by Donna Cooner

 
 
Donna Cooner has been kind enough to offer Amy and I a copy of Skinny to give to one lucky winner!
 
 
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
 
 
 
Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She's a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).
 
Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children's Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children's television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.
 
 
Giveaway:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

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Carrie Arcos and the Bully

 
 
Today, Carrie Arcos has offered her thoughts and truths on bullying. As we near the end of the month, I can only hope that we take a closer look at our surroundings and be there for someone in need. Sometimes, bullies need help too.
 
 
 
 
No one likes a bully. He goes too far. He uses your weakness for his benefit. It's like he takes the tip of his finger and rubs it into a wound and keeps pushing. He says things that no one should say. He may even get physical. He manipulates. He's subversive because he is rarely alone. He is soon a whole movement that exists to torture and maim your soul. Yeah, no one likes a bully.

But if we are to be truthful, we've all been one. We've all said hurtful things. We've talked about people behind their backs. We've rejoiced in another's misfortune. We've been the sibling who smiles and sticks our tongue out at the brother who's getting in trouble.

What's even more scary is that we all have the potential to become one again.

We are all broken. The beautiful thing is seeing how the pieces come together and heal. The tragedy is when there are protruding jagged edges, when things don't heal, when there's only pain. This is some of the stuff that bullies are made from.

They are also born out of the yuckiness of the human heart--bitterness, selfishness, arrogance, jealousy, pride, etc...

Bullies are not two dimensional evil characters running around in movies. Bullies are children, adults, parents, male and female. Bullies are real. Bullies are a reflection of a twisted heart.

They just might need a little help because sometimes they have no idea how they are affecting others. They have no idea how they are hurting themselves.

They need us to teach them to love others more, to show kindness, to treat people with respect, to understand that every action, good or evil, reverberates across the world and has consequences.

They need to become human again because somehow they've forgotten along the way. But they aren't lost. All of us need a little reminding from time to time.
 
 
 
 
Carrie Arcos lives in Los Angeles with her family. She writes young adult literature and is an adjunct professor. You can find more about her at carriearcos.com and follow her on Twitter.

 
 


Giveaway! Freak by Marcella Pixley

 
 
Today Amy and I have Freak by Marcella Pixley to give away. Freak has been donated by MacMillan.
 
 


For Miriam Fisher, a budding poet who reads the Oxford English Dictionary for fun, seventh grade is a year etched in her memory "clear as pain." That's the year her older sister, Deborah, once her best buddy and fellow "alien," bloomed like a beautiful flower and joined the high school in-crowd. That's the year high school senior Artie Rosenberg, the "hottest guy in the drama club" and, Miriam thinks, her soul mate, comes to live with Miriam's family. And that's the year the popular "watermelon girls" turn up the heat in their cruel harassment of Miriam--ripping her life wide open in shocking, unexpected ways. Teased and taunted in school, Miriam is pushed toward breaking, until, in a gripping climax, she finds the inner strength to prove she's a force to be reckoned with.

This riveting first novel introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine, an outsider who dares to confront the rigid conformity of junior high, and in the process manages not only to save herself but to inspire and transform others.

 
 
 Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cyber Bullying by Janet Gurtler & Giveaway

 
 
Janet Gurtler has joined us to speak on cyber bullying as well as donate a copy of Who I Kissed for  a giveaway.
 
 
 
Cyber bullying obviously happens on line. It opens up a completely new assortment of problems for todays’ kids. In my day if someone were to tease me, it would travel by word of mouth and would probably take a while to reach a whole group of kids.  In today’s world a posting or forwarded text can reach hundreds, thousands, even more --in seconds.  The effect is larger and it is quicker.
Like talking behind someone’s back, cyber bullying allows bullies to hide behind something.  Words on a screen are permanent though.  Even if nasty or bullying postings are taken down, screen capture can keep things around for a long and damaging time.
In WHO I KISSED,  the main story line is put into action by a tragedy, a death that happens at a party. The impact that it has on the main character’s life is immediate. Kids have cell phones and they can text and post to Facebook or Twitter and the word spreads like wild fire. By the time my main character gets home, everything is out there.
And people comment. They say nasty things about her on Facebook. Everyone knows. Everyone has an opinion. The only way the main character, Sam can cope is to isolate herself from her social network.  But she doesn’t even want to do that.
When I wrote my book, I talked to a couple of journalists about professional ethics in a situation like this. Whether or not a young person would be named if they caused an accidental death. The journalists agreed that conventional media would respect a teen’s name in a situation like the one I set up in my book. However, social media doesn’t have the same kind of ethical restrictions.  I don’t know the legalities of what putting information on Facebook or Twitter, but things go up quickly and are seen, even if they’re taken down later.
Anonymity is a dying luxury.  In my character’s case, comments that in the past would probably have stayed behind her back were now being posted for the world to see. For her to see.
My character punishes herself by seeking out information on-line. It’s a concrete thing that is part of her mourning. She’s exposed. Standing in her underwear in the middle of the school hallway.  With virtual pictures flinging around the globe. It’s a vulnerable place to be. Cyber bullying takes things to a completely new level.
 
 

RITA ® Finalist Janet Gurtler lives in Calgary Alberta, near the Canadian Rockies, with her husband and son and a chubby Chihuahua named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says "eh" a lot.


Giveaway:

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Who I Kissed.
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
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Giveaway: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

 
 
Amy and I have a copy of Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf to give away. Jennifer was kind enough to donate a copy for a giveaway.
 
 

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
 

Jennifer Shaw Wolf--Author

Bio:

Jennifer Shaw Wolf feels like she has lived her teen years at least three times; first as a teen herself, second with the two teens (and two teens to be) that inhabit her house, and third through the teens she writes. At least in the third case, she can make the teens do what she wants (most of the time). Still, it makes for an angsty, hormone charged, exciting journey of a life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She resides in the lush, green, and sometimes mysterious (read foggy and rainy), forests of Northwest Washington with the love or her life and their four minions.  When she isn’t writing or chasing said minions she can be found reading, running, actually using her Communications degree to produce videos, and on rare occasions, sleeping. Her debut novel, BREAKING BEAUTIFUL came out in April of 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled SHARDS OF GLASS will be released in September of 2013 from Walker Books for Young Readers.

 
 
Giveaway:
 
One person will receive a copy of Breaking Beautiful
 
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

 
 
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Giveaway! Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

 
 
Amy and I have a copy of Inside Out, written by Maria V. Snyder and donated by the author.
 
 
 
 
I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.
 
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giveaway...BYSTANDER by James Preller

 
 
Amy and I have up for grabs, BYSTANDER by James Preller. We would like to thank the lovely MacMillan for this copy to share with you.
 
 
 
Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you’re new in town, it’s hard to know who to hang out with—and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.

But something isn't right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you'd better watch your back. There might be a target on it.

As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin’s dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin: he’s a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander . . . to the bully’s next victim.
 
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Inspiration for I Swear by Lane Davis & Giveaway

 
Today we have author Lane Davis who has shared with us, the idea as to where he got the idea and inspiration to I SWEAR. Lane has also been generous enough to donate a copy for a giveaway.
 
 
 
I SWEAR by Lane Davis



The idea for I SWEAR was sparked by real-life events in Massachusetts In 2010, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince committed suicide, hanging herself in the stairwell leading to the second floor of her family's apartment. After months of bullying by other students—one of whom she had been in some sort of romantic relationship with—the strain apparently became so great that she ended her life.



I was teased a little in junior high and high school, but nothing compared to what Phoebe apparently endured. However, I remember seeing others bullied far worse than I ever was. There was a young man I'll call Brian who was a year behind me in high school. He was was mercilessly tormented by a guy I'll call Kurt who was in my class. Even though I got teased from time to time about having a high-pitched voice and "big girl lips" I was always grateful that I escaped the worst cruelty for the most part. Kurt picked on Brian all the time, always threatening to put his head in the toilet, or trying to give him a "wedgey" by pulling his underwear up in the back. One day when we were changing in the locker room after P.E. Kurt actually lifted Brian up by the back of his underwear and hung him on a hook from the elastic in his briefs, which was both painful and humiliating. It made Brian cry and his underwear tore after a few seconds while he was trying to get down.



I felt so conflicted in that moment— like a coward for not standing up for Brian and trying to stop Kurt, but so relieved that Kurt wasn't picking on me. I remember the fear that clawed at my throat, and the helplessness I felt. I was powerless to help Brian without calling attention to myself. I wasn't strong enough to stand up to Kurt. When I read about the story of Phoebe Prince, the shame and fear of those memories came rushing back. It seemed we were all at Kurt's mercy so long ago.



As I read that the District Attorney in Massachusetts had taken the unusual step of filing criminal charges against Phoebe Prince's tormentors, I wondered who these students were, and what they would say if I could talk to them. Would they feel remorse for joining in? Were there other students who watched silently like I did when I was in high school? What happened in the offices of the lawyers when these young men and women were asked to enter a plea?



Fortunately, Brian did not commit suicide because of Kurt's teasing, but Phoebe Prince's death brought me face-to-face with the reality that Brian very easily could have given up. Some people do. What does it take for a young woman to give up on life? And how does it feel to know that you were the reason she did? These are the questions I wanted to answer by writing I SWEAR. In some small way, this book is my apology to Brian—and to Phoebe—for not being able to speak up for either of them, and my encouragement to students everywhere to be more bold than I was.
 
 
 
Giveaway Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

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Giveaway! DEAR BULLY

 
 
The month is narrowing down and coming to an end. That doesn't mean that the giveaways or donations are slowing down one bit! Amy and I have one last copy of Dear Bully to give away this month and this copy has been donated by Jessica Brody.
 
 
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed he feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the "funny guy" into the best defense against the bullies in his class.

Today's top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
 
 
Rules:
13+
Winner must respond within 48 hours
US Only


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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Letter to the Parents of a Bullied Kid - Kim Purcell & a Giveaway


Today I have Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked here to speak out about bullying. Kim has also offered a signed copy of Trafficked to one lucky winner.



A Letter to the Parents of a Bullied Kid (From a Former Bullied Kid)


 

Another girl has killed herself because of being bullied at high school. Amanda Todd. I hear you, Amanda. I’m sorry. And I’m mad.

 

Every time I see a story about a kid being bullied and taking his or her own life, it makes me furious. I feel angry at the kids who bullied him or her, angry at the parents of those bullying kids, angry at the teachers who didn’t help, and angry at the parents of the bullied kid. It is preventable, folks. The adults in the kid's life can make a huge difference.

 

I thought about writing a Letter to My Teen Self or making one of those Internet videos about how I was bullied, to reassure kids that it gets better, and it does. But, you know, that really doesn’t help when you’re going through hell. In that moment, you think, yeah, maybe it got better for you, but it will never get better for me.

 

So, I want to write a letter to those parents out there who have a bullied kid and don’t know what to do. I get it. It’s confusing for parents. They love their kids. They think it’s a phase that will pass. They think it's not so bad. Sometimes they’re just too busy making ends meet that they don’t want to think about it.

 

When I was in eighth grade and all my friends turned on me, my mom did the very best thing: she let me stay home from school when I needed a break. She listened to me. She showed me she loved me and told me how special I was. Sending your kid off to the wolves every day is not the answer. It’s stressful and they won’t learn a single thing if they’re stressed or scared. Isn’t that the point of school? To learn?

 

Some people answer that you don’t learn anything by running away or they say life is filled with bullies and you've got to learn to face up to them. I disagree entirely. High school is not a mirror of life. In life, if you have mean people at your job, you can quit and get another job. In life, if your neighbor pushes you, you can call the cops. In life, if someone sends you rude text messages, you can get a restraining order. High school is not like life. For bullied kids, high school is like jail. If things are lousy, too bad, you’ve got to suffer through because you can’t escape.

 

So what’s a parent to do? I’m no expert. However, I do have some ideas as someone who was bullied and who’s worked with a lot of troubled teens, teaching them to write down the crap that has happened to them in a way that helps them find beauty in their pain. Here’s my take on what parents should do.

 

1. Listen to your kid. Really hear them. Repeat what he/she says without giving advice. Ask them what they want to do about the problem.

 

2. Get your kid in counseling immediately to get to the bottom of the issue. Your child may not be able to talk to you in an honest way, but they will be able to do it with a trained therapist. If your kid doesn’t want to go, too bad. This is one time you need to put your foot down. It’s a new thing, it’s scary, and you understand, but the kid has to go. Even better, the whole family should go. This way, you’re not isolating your kid as the one who has the problem. Often, kids who are bullied at school have difficulties at home too, so it’ll help everyone. Go to your doctor or the school counselor and get a referral. A great therapist can make all the difference.

 

3. The next step may be taking your kid out of the school and moving to another city or area of town. Once bullying starts at a school, it rarely gets better. Often putting your kid in another school will help, especially if it’s far away from the other school. If you can do it, homeschooling is a fabulous option. Kids often learn way more at home than they would in a stressful war zone, aka school.

 
4. Take away all the tools of bullies. Get your kid off Facebook and take away texting/Internet ability on the cell phone. Put the computer in the main room. It would have been good if they didn’t have unsupervised computer time in the first place, but don’t let them continue to be tortured online. And so they don’t feel this is a punishment, tell them why you’re doing it. Tell them you love them. Let them have a TV in their room and a video game system as a replacement, but cut off the outside harassment. Home needs to be a safe zone.

 

5. Talk to the parents of the kids who are doing it. Your child may not want you to call them, fearing it will make things worse, but your kid is like a battered spouse and doesn’t know what's best. This is why any abused person stays in a relationship – they are afraid to leave. When you face up to the bully, they often back off. In any case, the situation is already awful and informing the parents can make it better. The parents of the bullies need to make their children stop. If the parents don’t take you seriously, tell them you will go to the police and you’ll sue them if it doesn't stop. The very next time something happens, call the police. Get a lawyer. Show your kid you’ve got their back. Turn the tables on these bullies and their families who promote it. Harassment is against the law.

 

As adults, we need to stop acting like bullying is a right of passage. Amanda Todd, you’re right, bullying is not a right of passage, and adults, we need to act like adults and stop putting up with it. If your kid is suffering from bullying, you've got to show them you love them and tell them that it isn't their fault. Ever. And if your kid is the one who's being mean, you need to stop him or her immediately. That starts when they're two and goes all the way until they’re adults. We are all in charge of teaching and enforcing kindness. And modeling it too.

 

RIP, Amanda.
 
 

I only ask that you think before you speak and act. Ten years from now will you be happy with your actions and decisions?
 
 
 
Bio:
Kim Purcell
is the young adult author of Trafficked, a novel about a seventeen-year-old girl from Eastern Europe who is forced to be a modern-day slave in America. Kim Purcell has worked as a reporter and teacher, but wanted to fictionalize the stories of real life, so began writing novels. When she’s not writing, she loves going for runs with her dog, hanging with her family and dancing in elevators to cheesy elevator music.

Find Kim
Website | Twitter @kimberlypurcell
 
 
 

Giveaway Rules:
 
One winner will receive a signed copy of TRAFFICKED
 
13+
US/CAN Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
 
 
 


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Review: Danny's Mom by Elaine Wolf & Giveaway

Danny's Mom
by Elaine Wolf

Published by: Arcade Publishing
Released on: November 1st, 2012
Hardcover
224 Pages
Rating: 5/5




*Please note that this review was based from an ARC*






  From the beginning pages on Danny's Mom, Elaine Wolf had me weeping into the pages, my heart feeling the exact pain that Beth Maller felt. When mothers have those gut instincts, you listen to them. Beth was talked out of hers. Because of this, she is now the mother of a child who lies within a grave. I couldn't imagine losing a child, and Elaine has captured that pain inside of Danny's Mom with utmost precision. Unfortunately, Beth doesn't just struggle from the day to day yearning for her son to be back in her life. She lives with a husband who wants to forget it all. Forget the memories, forget all the good times and basically-forget the son they shared together. Danny is what held their family together. Beth now lives in a home where she cannot share her inner feelings and be comforted like she should be.
  Feeling somewhat forced back to work, Beth trudges into school and tries desperately to avoid the kids. The same kids who knew her son. The same kids who are just like him. One of the few things that she can take comfort in is knowing that she can make a difference and help those in need. Liz flocks to Beth for help as soon as she arrives to school. She feels comfortable with her and opens up to her. Here's where the problem lies, and here's where I really had issues and this certainly left my temper burning...Liz is not assigned to Beth, therefore, Beth should not help Liz NO MATTER WHAT. She should send her to the person that she is assigned to and that should be that. Unfortunately, Beth feels like I do and continuously listens to Liz and is there for her. This is how it should be. ALL children, kids, young adults, and even grown people should be able to go to whomever they please to speak with someone if they have an issue. If they are getting bullied, they aren't going to feel comfortable telling just anyone. There is a bond that needs to be formed before someone is willing to open up and share their problems.
  It becomes ever so obvious that Beth is dealing with a school board that is more concerned with building themselves up and telling others what to do than dealing with real issues at hand. And...she certainly can't go home and discuss it with her husband. Beth needs help just as much as Liz does.


Bullying is something that has always happened. It happens from ranges of young children to adults. The main focus I feel is the adolescent years. That is when our minds are young and impressionable. I am glad to see that we speak more about stopping bullying now and raising awareness but it still isn't going to make it go away. Bullying will always be a problem. PLEASE, if you see someone being bullied, say something, tell someone. Being bullied yourself? Let someone know! That bully could be struggling with their own issues that they need help with. There are so many scenarios. Just don't let them interfere and drag you or someone else down. You have the power to stop it.



Received from the author for review purposes.


Giveaway Rules:
ARC Copy will be given away
13+
Open to everyone
Winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner may be chosen.
 
 

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Giveaway: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Today Amy and I have a copy of Shadow and Bone, donated by the lovey Leigh Bardugo to give away. If you haven't yet read this book, I strongly encourage it!
 
 
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
 
 
 Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

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Huge Button Collection and Bookmark Giveaway!

 
 
Amy and I have an awesome donation today! The winner will recieve an amazing prize pack that was donated from JeanBookNerd and her husband James who created them!
 
The winner will receive this fabulous collection of buttons and four Jace and Clary bookmarks.
 
 
You can find out more about JeanBookNerd and her husband James (the creater) and these wonderful creations at
 
 
Rules:
13+
Open to everyone
Winnermust respond within 48 hours
 
 
 
 
 

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jessica Spotswood shares her Bully Story

 
 
Today I have the honor of sharing what Jessica Spotswood has dealt with on bullying. Nobody should have to deal with these issues, yet I think we all have in some way or another. Here is Jessica's story.
 
 
 
 
I wasn't a cheerful child. I was a worrier, and I didn't yet know how to hide it. I was shy and bookish. I had glasses and braces and a deeply unfortunate curly mullet.

The bullying started in fifth grade. I remember a group of pretty, popular girls who barked at me and called me a dog. Who targeted me in dodgeball and made fun of me in gym. In seventh grade, I was in some sort of life skills class during 5th period, which was weirdly assigned A lunch, populated mostly by juniors and seniors. Our lone table of twelve year olds banded together - except they banded against me, teasing me about my high voice and calling me Care Bear. I don't even remember WHY Care Bear - only sitting there feeling humiliated and hated, not wanting to eat or speak or do anything to draw attention to myself. I remember feeling ugly and very small. I remember how much I dreaded those days.

I found my tribe the next year, when I was thirteen. Some friends convinced me to try out for the spring musical, and even though I loathed the idea of singing in front of people, even though I was only in the chorus, I found my place. In theatre the kids were loud and quirky and unapologetic. It didn't matter if I was shy, because someone was always performing and in need of an audience. The kids who were addicted to drama off-stage as well as on needed someone to listen and give them advice. And somehow, in between putting together shows and painting sets and memorizing lines and singing inappropriate renditions of "The Farmer and the Cowhand," something miraculous happened - we became a big crazy family. Those were my best friends until graduation.

As a teen, I was revoltingly cheery. Sweet, optimistic, understanding - I signed all my notes "love and sunshine." I never went through a rebellious phase; I was too busy trying to please everyone to slam doors or raise my voice. I was the peacemaker, the matchmaker. But sometimes it felt like I was playing Jessie, frenetically happy-happy-happy. What would happen if I stopped? Would anyone still like me?

I was happy - but I don't think I was really content, at home in my own skin, until after grad school, when I gave up on theatre as a career. Until I reclaimed the idea that it was ok to be quiet and bookish and me. Until I started chasing the dream in my heart of hearts - to be a writer.

It's important to find your tribe - but it's even more important to find yourself. 

Giveaway: Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss

 
 
Today's giveaway is brought to you by MacMillan. Amy and I have Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss. The cover basically speaks for itself when it goes to bullying and feeling isolated.
 
 
 
When three popular girls go on trial in Government class for their ruthless bullying of a girl named Ivy, it seems like the misfit will finally get her revenge. Eight first-person narrators give different versions of the event: Ivy—this victim doesn’t want revenge, she just wants to be left alone; Ann—she’s the beautiful, but infamously cruel, leader of the bullies; Marco—he may be the only person involved who has any morals, but he’s also the target of Ann’s persuasive affections; Daria—Ivy’s painfully shy lawyer doesn’t stand a chance; Bryce—the goofy court reporter knows all the real dirt, even if he doesn’t care; Cameron—he sleeps through the proceedings but might wake up just in time to make a difference; Wayne—a true devotee of the legal process, too bad he’s on the sidelines; and Faith—as the only witness for the prosecution, it all comes down to her. But where do her loyalties lie?
 
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Teacher's Perspective - Mandee talks about bullying + Giveaway

 I have a new perspective today. Mandee has offered her teacher's perspective on bullying today and has also donated a giveaway as well. She also runs Books & Bling. Please welcome her!
 
 
As a middle school teacher, I’ve witnessed the ugly side of bullying up close. I’ve seen the devastating impact a bully can have on his or her victims. I’ve also felt the pain a bully feels.  There are reasons why a kid becomes a bully and those stories are just as real and full of destruction as the victims’ stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sticking up for bullies or excusing their behavior. I am a teacher. Students are my cause. I fight for them. All of them. In my mind and in my heart, these kids are my kids. They are OUR kids. And they are all worth fighting for.
But, I often feel helpless as a teacher. Yes, I do everything I can do to stop bullying. Yes, I point the kids (both the bullies and the victims) in the direction of help. I spend time with parents, guidance counselors, and administrators. We’re always discussing, problem solving, listening, and connecting.  Unfortunately, that isn’t always effective. It isn’t always enough. Some kids are mean. Some are sensitive. Some don’t have support at home. There are friendless kids, annoying kids, weird kids, cruel kids, and at least a million other types of kids. There are kids who are surrounded by love and there are kids who only come to school to for the food. Thankfully, the majority of my students do have what they need and are being raised in households that give them the best that they can offer. But, what about the ones who aren’t? These are the kids who keep me up at night.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I can help the kids who need it. Making connections is a big part of what I do as a teacher. I connect kids to knowledge. I connect them to the world, to life, to reality. I connect them to the big picture and to the future. The most important connection I can help my students make is to themselves. Through literature, I can help them see themselves and the world through new eyes. This is the way we teach empathy, compassion, and kindness. This is my legacy.
Here are some of the books that I use with my middle school students:
Wonder by RJ Palacio is about a boy who was born with severe facial deformities. Told from varying perspectives, Auggie’s world is rocked when he attends school for the first time. Everyone he meets is impacted by him. Wonder is one of the best books I’ve read in years. The multiple perspectives make Auggie’s world real and the lessons powerful.
Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories by Dawn Metcalf, Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones is an amazing collection of memories written by YA authors. Told by bullies, the bullied, and the witnesses, this anthology has something for everyone. Some of the pieces are more mature than others, but all of them are awesome!
AS King is one of my favorite authors.  She writes from the heart and doesn’t hold back. She often deals with tough issues in her brilliant novels, but does so with a style that is total art. Please Ignore
Vera Dietz, Everybody Sees the Ants,
& her latest Ask the Passengers all pull you inside of worlds that  are both real and fantastical. Her writing is beautiful, her stories are powerful, and her characters will kick you in the face (I mean that in the best possible way).
13 Reasons Why  by Jay Asher is a tough read. It hurts. It takes you on a journey lead by 13 cassette tapes and a map. Hannah Baker is dead. She killed herself. She has 13 reasons and Clay is one of them. This book is freaking amazing! Read it, share it, then read it again.
There are so many other excellent books that deal with bullying, but the list above contains my current favorites. They are books that I believe will stand the test of time. In order to stop bulling, we need to build compassion in our young people. We need to talk tough issues with them and call them on the stuff that needs to end. We need to do this all with love, kindness, and empathy.   
 

Mandee is a teacher in a suburb of Atlanta, GA. She is an avid reader and can be found online at: www.booksandbling.com, on Twitter @ohmandee, or in a cozy corner snuggled up with her husband Schmoopy, her cat Shakespeare, and a good story.

 
 
 
Mandee has kindly donated a copy of Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. 
 
 

 
 
Rules:
13+
US Only
Winner must respond within 48 hours
 
 
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