Monday, April 30, 2012

Guest Post by Popular Book Blogger Marjolein Balm

About Reading and YA Books

I am very honored to be the first guest on your blog. Thank you, Stewart!! 

Very often I get the question why I love to read and review Young Adult books so much. Maybe it is because I remember my own teenage years so vividly like it was yesterday and I have loved reading ever since I can remember. I was always seen with just one accessory: a book. 

I’ve been reading since I was four, there were always books in the house (although my parents didn’t  read that much, but somehow, there were books around!) and I remember that I learned my first words from a children’s book I always carried around with me (I still wonder sometimes which book this was, I still know what it looks like but I can’t remember the title anymore) so I could read a few words before I entered school. Reading was always widely promoted when I was in primary school. We always had huge projects around the Children’s Book Week and my twin brother and I were always allowed to select two books from the book store when that week came around, we had to do a book speech about a book every month In front of the entire class and I am still very thankful that we visited the library almost every week since I can remember. We also had a huge library at my primary school and before we could leave to go home, our teacher read to us every day, and we also had to write about the books we read for the school paper. What I remember reading in my childhood years were: ballet books (I was also into ballet during that time) Astrid Lindgren (Lotta, The Children of Noisy Village) and from Dutch book I remember Madelief en Het Zakmes, which was quite a hype at my school when the film came out.

During my teen years, I don’t remember there being books categorized as YA. Remember, we had to read books for English but YA? It just didn’t exist. Roald Dahl was as popular as Harry Potter and his books are the only ones that come to mind when I recall reading in my teen years. How times have changed for the better!! Young Adult is more popular than ever, and is the fastest growing market in the book industry. Young adult, or YA, has become popular not merely among tweens and teens, but among adults as well. Bestsellers like the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series have fallen into the hands of many adults and have found a welcoming audience. You can walk into any book store, locate the YA section, and have at your fingertips historicals, paranormals, romances, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, steam punk, poetry, fairy tales, myths, and biographies. You name it, it’s there.

Teens want to read books about other teens who they can identify with and that deal with the same issues they themselves have to cope with. Young adult novels changed the world for me. I could never have guessed when picking up a Princess Diaries book (the first YA book I picked up..) that I would be reviewing YA books two years later. I just celebrated my 4 year blogaversary recently! So yes, books can really change your world!
Most ‘’adult readers’’ still think that YA fiction is set in a high school (think of the Sweet Valley High books) but that is history as most YA books nowadays are set in the most diverse settings, here a few recommendations if you never have read YA in your life (something I find truly hard to imagine). Some are not specifically marked as YA but are more crossover.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: moves with her mother from Hong Kong to the USA, with the help of their aunt, they settle in a rattled apartment with no heating or windows in Brooklyn. A very impressing coming-of-age story between the Chinese and American cultures.
Red Glass by Laura Resau: Red Glass is an outstanding and amazing YA novel 'between cultures''.The book is set in the USA, Mexico and Guatamala. The story is about Sophie and a little Mexican refugee, Pablo. Because Pablo’s parents have died during harsh conditions, while trying to illegally cross the Mexican-American border, Sophie travels with Pablo to Mexico to locate his family and overcomes her fears.
Shadow of the Dragon by Sherry Garland: A very original YA novel about a Vietnamese-American teen. Danny grows up amongst gangs and American/ Vietnamese culture. Danny is dating Tiffany Marie, a girl from his high school, but rumors are that Tiffany's brother Frank is a skinhead with racist actions against Vietnamese people in particular, and soon enough these rumors seem to be true, and Danny Sang Le's (Danny’s cousin who spent years in a Vietnamese re-education camp and who is living with Danny now)  are in danger. The book just gives an amazing look in the life of the Vietnamese community in the United States and a peek into Vietnamese family traditions.
Far from Home by Na’ima B Robert: a gripping story about two girls Tariro and Katie living in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, both living in different time periods, 1967 and 2001. While Katie is a rich western girl living on a farm, Tariro and her family have to fight against white settlers who crash into town. In 2001 the opposite happens with Katie, people are attacking her family’s farm and claiming their land back. Without being aware of it, both girls share a horrible secret.

I’d like to end off with a question: What books have you read recently that really captured the YA voice and pulled you into the story?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Contest! Enter And Win A Signed Copy Of The Goat Herder!

The Goat Herder has been out in the world for a reasonable while already and you've all read it by now, right? Just say yes J.

So! If you write a review about the book and send it to me you will stand a chance to win a signed copy!

How to enter:
- Write a review on any online bookselling site like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles etc, or on book networking site Goodreads. All you have to is send me the link when you’ve done it.
- If you've already written a review of The Goat Herder you're good to go, just send me the link. 
- It doesn't even have to be a good review! Be honest. I won't be offended.
- You have until Friday, May 18th, when I will randomly select one winner. So if you haven't read it yet, better get cracking!
- To send me the link, send to my email address:

Good luck!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some Of My Favourite Quotes

Every now and then I tweet a meaningful quote about life on my Twitter profile. They are magic words that immediately encourage, uplift and inspire you. Here in this post is a compilation of some those quotes:

'If you live with one leg in the past and one leg in the future, you will have no leg to stand on in the present.' Buddha
'Try remember your dreams. The answers you'll find in them.' SR
'If you have roots, you are strong.' SR
'You don't need a lot to be happy.' SR
'Be kind to someone. It will have a ripple effect in the Universe.' SR
'You do not need to acquire this power, you already possess it.' Dr Joseph Murphy
'Message of the wheat sheaf. Its future is brightest when kernels are smashed because when gathered from the chaff and milled to flour it will nourish man.' Perek Shira
'Generously, and with respect to Creator, sun floods moon with light so earth's barren satellite can bring glow to our nights.' Perek Shira
'Where there's disarray, a judge must restore order. When the world's in turmoil and justice perverted, even the trees suffer.' Perek Shira
'It's nice to be beautiful on the outside. But if your soul is beautiful too...omg.' SR
'Do what feels right for you in order to focus on going forward, think of what you have to do right now and keep your goal in mind.' SR
'We are all one.' SR
'Lives of others put things in perspective for one's own life. Everything is relative.' SR
'The sun shining means so many different things.' SR

Friday, March 30, 2012

Get More Traffic To Your Blog

I was pondering lately on ways to attract more attention to my blog. I'm not making excuses but what with writing my third novel, my day job as massage therapist, getting my latte fixes at Vida, strolling on the beach to gain inspiration, you know the usual things, I just don't seem to have the time to write posts :) Sound familiar?

I stumbled recently on the amazing blog of Seth Godin, apparently nominated as 12th best blog in the world by a single person.
This link will take you to a page on his blog where he lists 56 tips on how to get traffic to your blog. It's brilliant.

So, if you have the same dilemma as me, or for some other reason you are not satisfied with with how your blog is doing, go to this link: Seth Godin

Success! X

p.s. Let me know what you think

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Kalahari Review

Chapters of The Goat Herder will be published in two parts in The Kalahari Review next month.
I'll keep you updated. You can check out this top literary journal here:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012