Review: Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann

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Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (June 30th 2008)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Source: Own
Challenge: YA Saves, Stand Alone

Easy. At the ripe young age of fourteen Jessica has discovered that getting the attention she wants is just that — easy. It’s not the attention of a divorced mother who spends all of her time grieving over a broken marriage. Nor is it that of a father with a new girlfriend who’s moving on with his life. It’s certainly not the attention of a clueless older sister or a best friend since grade school who still acts like she’s in grade school. No. For some reason being noticed by her friends and family seems to have become almost impossible. Boys — and men — are a different matter altogether. With the right clothes and attitude, Jessica realizes that she can get all the male attention she wants. What she doesn’t realize is how easy it is to get more than you’re ready for.
In this compelling and often harrowing novel for teen readers, first-time author Kerry Cohen Hoffmann delves into the mind of a teenage girl as she attempts to replace the shifting relationships with friends and family with sexual exploration. With candid storytelling rooted in years of personal experience, Mrs. Hoffmann offers a searing look at how easy it is to take a wrong turn in search for the right answers.

 

After her parent’s divorce, Jessica is dying for attention… she quickly finds that one of the easiest ways to get attention happens to be from boys.  Jessica’s mother has turned inward, her father is now living with the woman that helped break their marriage apart, her sister has become their mother’s shoulder to cry on, and Jessica… well she is left to her own devices.  While at first her ‘flirtation’ in her need for attention is innocent, Jessica finds herself becoming more adventurous.  But Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is not just about a young teenager looking for attention in the wrong places – Kerry also explores the rippling affects of divorce, growing up, and the introduction of sex.

“He hoots as he passes. Another one whistles. I know this is stupid, inviting trouble. But it feels so good to be wanted, I can’t help myself.” 

The attention Jessica gets from boys soon becomes like an addiction, leaving her craving for more.  That is until she starts to see the consequences of her actions.  She finds herself more and more isolated, despite her found attention, from her family and even her best friend.  Jessica starts to gain a reputation at school – one that many may not necessarily dream of.  Then there is the big “V” card… Jessica finds out how special it really is…

“Everyone says your first time should be magical. You should be in love. You should feel safe. Because you can’t go back once you’ve done it. That will always be your first time. Years later this is what I’ll remember as my first time. That inflated sensation is long gone. Now I just feel nauseous; it is the feeling I get when reality dawns.”

Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is a fresh read, exploring the reality of the teenage mind without holding back any gritty details.  While Kerry’s honesty may be too much for some, I found the truth in Jessica’s actions to be a mirror of reality – something that is not done enough. At the same time, Kerry has found the perfect balance of reality of hopefulness, neither going to dark or too light.  I cannot go without mentioning her writing, as it flows with ease, making Easy an ‘easy’ (no pun intended) yet enjoyable read.

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Follower Love Giveaway Hop

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I am very excited to be part of the 2nd annual Follower Love Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer& Rachael Rene Anderson.
For this Giveaway Hop I am going to do something a little different… Instead of just giving away any choice book through Book Depository I am going to let you pick from a set of books I think are perfect for the season of “Love”:
* Illuminated by Erica Orloff
* Fallen In Love by Lauren Kate
* Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
* Forget You Jennifer Echols
* Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
* Ditchedby Robin Mellom

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Don’t Forget to visit the other participating blogs!

Releases This Week: Febuary 5th – 11th

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The Rivals (The Mockingbirds #2) by Daisy Whitney (2/6/12)

Dead To You by Lisa McMann (2/7/12)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (2/7/12)



Almost Everything (Vampire Princess of St. Paul #3) by Tate Hallaway (2/7/12)
Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood (2/7/12) **2012 Debut Author

The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols (2/7/12)

The Wood Queen (Iron Witch #2) by Karn Mahoney (2/8/12)
Pure by Julianna Baggott (2/8/12)

In Too Deep by Amanda Grace (2/8/12)
Devotion (Soul Savers #3) by Kristie Cook (2/10/12)

YA Saves Sunday – Sex

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Let’s face it, more and more teens are having sex today, at much younger ages than a decade ago or even a year ago.  One can point the finger at music, movies, the media, technology, or even books.  And while yes, all of these things bombard us everyday with images of and the topic sex, it does not deter from the fact that teens are having and experimenting with sex.

** Before I go on, let me make something clear – I am not sharing my opinion here on if it is okay for teens to have sex.  I am simply looking at facts, articles, and  offering information for teens (any one else for that matter) to use for their own end **

Peer Pressure
According to Psychology Today teens are 2.5 times more likely to have sex if they think their friends and others are having sex, all by the 9th grade. Can ‘assumption‘ be considered a form of peer pressure?? It can be for some.  Even for adults, peer pressure can be a struggle.  And while I said I wasn’t going to point fingers, we are only human beings and we do in fact look to what is considered ‘popular’ in our society – being sexual, having sex, etc.  Unless you have a one-of-a-kind amazing and outstanding self-esteem, it is only natural to feel pressure from things in our everyday life.

Look at some of the TV shows today:  Teen Mom, Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl.  While not every episode may focus on sex (well, except Teen Mom), these shows promote sexuality to some level.  It’s hard to not admit that these promos are not hot – they are! Am I saying that these promos are promoting that Sex is alright? No – but I am also not saying the opposite (remember I am neutral!!).  All I’m saying is that it is hard to not think about sex when you are surrounded by it everyday.

The Statistics & Consequences/Affects
There has always been a debate about the exact number of teens having sex today.  Are teens having sex? Yes.  Is there a large number of teens of having sex? You bet.  But how much exactly?  According to the Center for Disease Control the number of sexual active teens has actually dropped significantly in 2011 to 42% (males) and 43% (females). Is this the final say? By no means! And neither does this mean that these number are 100% correct.

The partner for girls who start having sex at a much younger age, typically are much older than the girl.  For girls that wait until they are a little older (but not an adult) tend to have partners who are closer to their age range. 

The number of consequences of sex in general are almost endless: STDs & pregnancy (both of which have numerous consequences in themselves), and not to mention how sex affects a person emotionally.  One person gets attached while the other may not, it can ruin a relationship, it can create a relationship unexpectedly.  If adults have a hard time handling this one could only imagine how teenagers handle this (if at all).  The list can go on and on.  

So what does this mean for YA Novels…
I will admit that it is hard to not pick up a YA novel today without it having some form of sex or mention of sex in it (anything beyond a kiss).  Is this bad? NO! It really depends on the person reading the novel.  Maybe its me and maybe I just haven’t read enough YA novels, but I can count on one hand the number of YA novels that present sex in a “good” light (i.e. its all happy-go-lucky without any negative side affects/consequences).  Most that I have read present at least some ‘consequences’.  There are even some that help promote celibacy. 

One of the most common themes I have found when reading a YA novel with sex in it is the struggle the main character has with sex in general.  For example, in Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham, Jenna struggles with the pressure to have sex – pressure from her boyfriend, pressure from the knowledge that her best friend has started to have sex and even pressure from her boyfriend’s past sexual relationships.  In the end Jenna comes to the conclusion that she does not need to have sex, and in fact she wants to wait, knowing that sex in general complicates things; this alone makes this novel a rare gem in the way it presents sex: it is okay to NOT have sex.  But what about those novels that does the opposite?

Novels such as Kerry Cohen’s Easy and Ellen Hopkins’ Crank have their female characters having sex but under unattractive circumstances.  Jessica in Easy starts to have sex at the age of fourteen in an attempt to feel wanted, to fill in the whole from her parents’ divorce.  Crank‘s Kristina finds herself struggling with one of the many consequences of sex: pregnancy.  While her adventures with sex stem from drugs, one could use this novel as a source of information, emotions and understanding, especially for those that may be experiencing the same things or thinking about doing so. 

My thought on this is that if teens want to teens are going to have sex, whether parents want them to or not – they will find a way.  Especially in a sexually-charged media world and if parents are not talking their children about this, YA novels that present the topic of sex in many different lights can serve as resources for teens (and adults as well) to explore such sensitive topics.

“Sex” YA Novels
* A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
* Easy by Kerry Cohen ** suggested read
* Doing It by Melvin Burgess
* Forever… by Judy Blume
* Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen ** suggested read
* Lost It by Kristen Tracy
* Rainbow Party by Paul Ruditis
* Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham  ** suggested read
* Giving Up the V by Serena Robar  ** suggested read

Author Chat: Mette Ivie Harrison

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For those that have not been reading YA literature you might not have heard of an author named Mette Ivie Harrison – but seriously people… if you haven’t heard of her you’ve been living under a rock! But all jokes aside, I am very honoured to have Mette Harrison as part of our 2012 YA Saves Reading Challenge for February’s focus.

One of the most well known classical romantic stories is that of Tristan and Isolde.  Mette Harrison’s release of Tris & Izzie is a retelling of this complex yet romantic story.  I am very excited to share with you the opportunity I had to ask Mette more about her own retelling, her writing and what she has planed next!

Tristan and Isolde‘ is a beautiful story.  How is your retelling of ‘Tristan and Isolde‘ different from the original?

Well, it was tricky to do a story about adultery, essentially, set in high school, where the characters aren’t married. Then there is the whole question of the torturous love triangle. I love romance, but love triangles are rarely done well, and I enjoyed poking a little fun at the whole idea of a woman who can’t decide which hot guy she *really* loves the most. I put in a lot of tiny details that very few people will get, since I used as my foundation the 1100 AD version in Middle High German, which not many people have access to. The black sails at the end, for example, and some of the names, like Gurmun the serpent, are from that version.

If you made a potion for your best friend like Izzie, what would it be and what would you want the outcome to be? Or do you think it would go wonky?

Oh, magic always goes off in its own direction, doesn’t it? That’s one of the great lessons of life, that you have control of something or someone only for so long, and then you have to let go and see what happens, have confidence in yourself and enjoy. I did have a best friend in high school who was in love with the wrong guy and I kept trying to get her to ask other guys out. One of the guys I set her up with was my brother. We were supposed to go on a double date together, but I got sick and ended up nearly overdosing on aspirin, trying to keep up my promise to double with her. Later, we gave up trying to find her dates and she just hung out with me and my boyfriend as a weird threesome.

You’ve written a lot of books about princesses… what draws you to writing about such characters?

Princesses are just what happens to sell. I have probably 50 other completed novels about completely different characters, but they don’t get published for whatever reason. It’s hard as an author to figure out why it is that people seem to connect with only one kind of writing. I don’t think I have the answer to that. It might be because I grew up on a farm in central New Jersey or because I loved to read Robin Hood and fairy tales and Shakespeare in elementary school and have a flavor for an old-fashioned language. It might be because I do princesses with a twist that people really like. Who knows?

 It’s always a shame when well written books cannot be published because of what is what is no popular at the moment. Hopefully we will see those book on the shelves one day.
Let’s pretend you didn’t write Tris & Izzie… what would you say to someone in recommending this book?

It’s a light, humorous retelling that is the perfect antidote to those tired of the never ending stream of dystopians and paranormal romances.  

Can you give us any hints about any new YA (or non-YA) projects you may be currently working on or just finished?

 I am currently working on Two Princesses (title not yet certain) about two princesses from opposing kingdoms who meet and become friends. They have to then make decisions in which their friendship and the welfare of their kingdoms are pitted against each other. It’s sort of like Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I retold with magic. I used to love reading about that historical time period in England and read a lot more about it researching for this novel (which will hopefully turn into a trilogy).


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Children’s Review: Rosa and Moses

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In celebration of Black History Month here a few wonderful Children’s Books that will leave you and your children thinking about the past, the present and the future…

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.
Published:  October 1st 2005
Hardcover, 40 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

 She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask “Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, “No.”

An inspiring account of an event that shaped American history

Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This picture- book tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.

Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.

With unique images and a story of bravery and strength, readers are treated to one of the most important women in history: Rosa Parks. Rosa’s Story is universally known, refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Little did Rosa Parks know she would go from being a seamstress to a timeless figure of history.  By standing up for what she believed in and what is right, Rosa finds strengths and courage, giving all those around her the same. 


Bryan Collier’s images are nothing like any other.  Using a patchwork style, there is something wholesome about each images, with rich colors and multidimensional effects.  For those looking to inspire children with courage and inner strength, this is a wonderful book to add to any collection.

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Moses by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Publisher:  Hyperion Books for Children
Published:  September 28th 2006
Hardcover, 48 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses.

I don’t think I have ever come across a more gorgeous Children’s Book ever.  Not only are you given a rare gift from the amazing and talented Kadir Nelson, with his gorgeous pictures, but you become entranced with Carole Weatherford’s words.

Follow Harriet Tubman’s journey in escaping slavery.  Whether you are religious or not you find peace and comfort in the relationship presented between Harriet and God, in which she gains strength to continue her hard journey to freedom.  You are then taken on a journey with Tubman in her involvement with the Underground Railroad. 

As I’ve already said, Kadir Nelson helps make this book unique and special.  All you need to do is look at the cover to get a sample of what the rest of the book will give you: perfection through images.  As a huge fan of Kadir Nelson I cannot say anything wrong about his contribution to this book.  His images literally leave you speechless while finding you’ve lost quite a bit of time just starting at their beauty. 

While this book focuses on Harriet Tubman’s spiritual side, this is a perfect book for anyone to read to gain a better understanding and view of not just Tubman’s hardships but of all slaves of the time, giving you an even better understanding of perseverance and hope (something that is not restricted by the color of one’s skin). 

Find Carole Boston Weatherford
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Author Chat with Emily Franklin

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I am very pleased to welcome Emily Franklin, as our first author to be interviewed for the 2012 YA Saves Reading Challenge, hosted by myself and Andrea at The Busy Bibliophile.

Emily Franklin is most known for her Principles of Love series, which [what the series is about] as well as for her most recent novel Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance, published last year and receiving rav reviews.

The first installment of her successful The Pricnipcles of Love series demands you pick it up all within the first line of the synopsis is: “The Gilmore Girls meets The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Who didn’t love The Gilmore Girls & The Sisterhood.  I know I sure did, and still do!

What was your inspiration for The Principle of Love series and for Love Bukowski’s characters?

I went to boarding school and hadn’t written about the experience before, So I wanted to explore that.  Plus, I love the idea of having your father literally over your shoulder while you’re trying to just be a regular teenager.

Having a father as your principle must make it really hard for Love to form love interests and crushes.  How does Love deal with this? Its not like she can sneak out, living on the campus grounds…

Well, maybe not in the 1st book! But later on.. I think that Love, like all teenagers, has to deal with how much input her dad has in her day to day life.  She does manage to find love, though perhaps not where or how she thought.  Plus, her dad is still so wounded by the mystery of Love’s mother that Love has to figure that out, too.

Does Love’s namesake bring her luck in her endeavors?

I’m not sure she’d agreed with that! Love wants LOVE just like all of us desire it – she just has to sort out who, where, and when.  Simple, right? 

When you are writing about love in any way, what do you use for inspiration?

It’s pretty easy to recall the longing I had in 10th grade or at age 22 so I can draw on my own feelings.  Also, I listen to music as a form of time travel and that helps, too.  I’m so happy in my own marriage, but I never thought I’d find the kind of love I have now, so that in itself is pretty inspirational.

What are currently some of your favorite “love” themed books (they don’t necessarily have to be young adult)?

Well, I have to give a plug to my next book which is all about love and friendship.  TESS MASTERSON WILL GO TO PROM is a brave story and I wrote it with Brendan Halpin.  We also wrote THE HALF-LIFE OF PLANETS, which is an unlikely love story about a girl with a past and a boy with Asperger’s.

Lastly, what is your favorite thing about February?

I could say hot chocolate with marshmallows, warm boots, my awesomely puffy duvet cover, or laughing while sledding.  Or I could just say at least it’s short!

Emily Franklin has written many YA novels!
Here are just a few:
 Don’t miss out on Emily Franklin’s new book: Tess Masterson Will Go To Prom, coming out March 2012!
Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Midwestern town. So it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him.
What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.
Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin tackle both sides of a ripped-from-the headlines story to show that true friendship will triumph after all.
You can find Emily Franklin on her WebsiteTwitter | Facebook

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