October LILbooKtalk: “Using the Power of Storytelling to Promote STEM to Students” with Jarrett Lerner and Mary Fan

Hi guys! I am really excited to share with y’all this month’s LILbooKtalk! I have two of my favorite authors ever–Jarrett Lerner and Mary Fan–back on the blog to discuss “Using the Power of Storytelling to Promote STEM to Students.” Since personally I am very STEM-mind and will be pursuing computer engineering in college, this is definitely a topic that I had a lot of fun learning more about. I hope you enjoy!


About EngiNerdsEnginerds

The battle between boys and bots is on in this funny, fast-paced novel.

Ken is an EngiNerd: one of a super-smart group of friends—all nerds—who have been close since kindergarten.

They may be brainiacs, but they’re just like everyone else: they fight with one another, watch too much TV, eat Chinese food, and hate walking their dogs. Well, maybe not just like everyone because Ken’s best friend Dan has been building robots. He then secretly sent one to each of the EngiNerds, never letting them know he’s the mastermind.

At first Ken is awed and delighted: what kid hasn’t dreamed of having a robot all their own? Someone who can be their friend, clean their room, walk the dog, answer homework questions…how amazing is that?

But be careful what you wish for: Dan’s robot, Greeeg, may look innocent, but his ravenous consumption of food—comestibles—turns him into a butt-blasting bot. And once the other robots ‘come alive’ it’s up to the motley crew of EngiNerds to not only save the day, but save the planet!

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Book Depository


About Brave New Girls: Tales of Heroines who HackBrave New Girls 3

Welcome to the sci-fi worlds of brainy teen heroines who hack not just computers, but whatever puzzles come their way. A scrappy mechanic on an oppressed planet builds a device she hopes will be her ticket to a better future. A fledgling chemist uses her skills to catch a murderer. A teen inventor creates a weapon to battle the mysterious beasts attacking her city. A superhero-in-training puts her skills to the test when attackers strike her compound. A self-styled detective hacks an augmented reality game to solve a dastardly crime. Girls who code, explore, fix robots, pilot starships, invent gadgets, build high-tech treehouses, and more. With tales ranging from space adventures to steampunk to cyberpunk and more this 23-story collection will delight, thrill, and enthrall.

Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to a scholarship fund through the Society of Women Engineers. Let’s show today’s girls that they, too, can be tomorrow’s inventors, programmers, scientists, and more.

STORIES BY: Lyssa Chiavari, Jennifer Chow, Russ and Abby Colchamiro, MLD Curelas, Paige Daniels, Kay Dominguez, Mary Fan, Halli Gomez, Valerie Hunter, AA Jankiewicz, Nicholas Jennings, Jamie Krakover, Tash McAdam, MJ Moores, Jelani Akin Parham, Selenia Paz, Josh Pritchett, Jeremy Rodden, Aaron Rosenberg, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Jennifer Lee Rossman, JR Rustrian, and Joanna Schnurman.

Featuring illustrations by Jacob Atom, Brandon Bell, Jo Belle, Lyssa Chiavari, Sharon Emmitt, Ben Falco, Fauzy Zulvikar Firmansyah, Christopher Godsoe, Liana Kangas, John Kovalic, MunkyWrench, Josh Pritchett, Emily Smith, Jennifer Stolzer, and Ronald Suh.

Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


 

LILbooKtalk September 2018.png

(Questions are in bold.)

Kester:The first author we have today is Jarrett Lerner, author of the EngiNerds series and an advocate for children’s literature with #KidsNeedBooks, #KidsNeedMentors, and the MG Book Village. Could you describe to us a little bit about yourself and your novels?

EnginerdsJarrett: Sure! I write stories that I hope all kids (and kids at heart) can enjoy, but often write with the so-called “reluctant” or “striving” or “undiscovered” reader in mind — educators have all sorts of terms for these kids who have yet to find books they love. Reading and books changed my life, and continue to improve my life every day. I want every kid to have that experience, and seek to make that happen through my writing, my outreach, and the various projects I work on.

Kester: Thank you so much for everything you do in the kidlit community, Jarrett! Certainly you and your books have changed the lives of readers across the nation. 🙂

Jarrett: That’s very kind of you to say, Kester!

Kester: Thank you! The second author we have today is Mary Fan, co-editor of the Brave New Girls anthologies, in which all proceeds are donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund. Would you also like to tell us a little about you and your books?

Brave New Girls 3Mary: Absolutely! I’ve been a nerd for as long as I can remember, and so naturally, I ended up writing nerdy stories :-). Pretty much all of them are about intrepid heroines in far-off worlds. With the Brave New Girls anthologies, fellow sci-fi author Paige Daniels and I are hoping to encourage more girls to explore STEM careers. Women are still woefully underrepresented in STEM, and even though there’s definitely been more of a push to show girls that they can do anything, we still have a long way to go. Thing is, it’s all cultural. There’s no reason why girls shouldn’t end up choosing math or science or engineering if they want, but years of cultural expectations have created this notion that girls in tech are uncool sidekicks. We’re hoping to change that by releasing these books full of stories about girls who are both into the geeky stuff and the heroines of their own stories.

Jarrett: Hear, hear! And can I just say, Mary, that if you haven’t read the books of Katie Slivensky, you MUST! The Countdown Conspiracy and The Seismic Seven–you would LOVE!

Mary: Thank you! Will definitely check them out! 😀

Kester: I know I need to check out Katie’s books, too! Here’s my first question: In today’s increasingly technological world, there is a huge need for students pursuing careers in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Why do you believe it is important to use the power of storytelling to instill a passion for STEM in young students? How do your books accomplish this task?

Brave New Girls 2Mary: Much of who we become is influenced by what the world around us tells us we can be – whether we realize it or not. If every book you read shows people in science and tech as uncool, it’s easy to start believing that’s true in real life too. That’s why it’s important to tell stories where the geeky kid gets to save the day and be the main character. With Brave New Girls, we aim to publish a variety of these kinds of stories so girls (and really, everyone — just because the protagonists are girls doesn’t mean the readers have to be!) can imagine that it’s possible. And once you imagine it, it starts to feel normal in real life too.

Jarrett: I think school tends to instill this idea in kids’ minds (I know it did in mine) that there are these rigid boundaries between subjects–that science is separate from art, which is separate from history, etc., etc. Skills that are used in the STEM fields are directly applicable in the “humanities.” The lessons and truths I rely on as a writer and illustrator are the same ones that guide scientists and mathematicians and engineers. These things are much more linked than we are regularly taught, and by using, say, fiction to explore and celebrate engineering (or “tinkering,” which is the term I use most when discussing my EngiNerds), I am, I hope, breaking down those artificial and unhelpful barriers a bit.

Scientists and engineers are some of the most creative people ever, and there is an art to their work. Plenty of artists approach their work with the mind of a mathematician. The more we break down these barriers and explore these other sides of these subjects, the easier it will be for kids to find their “place” and express their passions in these fields.

Mary: Jarrett–that is so true! There’s this false dichotomy between art and science that we need to break down.

Jarrett: Yes! And I think the more it’s done, the more kids will maybe say, “I’m super creative–I could be an engineer!” (Instead of assuming they have to be, I don’t know, a painter!)

Kester: And you can still do both!! I’m hoping to study computer engineering in college but I still plan on doing as much music, both orchestral and choral, as I can!

Jarrett: There you go! Exactly! I was just at a book launch for Josh Funk, who’s a programmer and a brilliant, brilliant picture book writer!

Mary: That’s awesome, Kester!! One of my best friends is currently a physics post doc… and a classically trained soprano in her local choir. 🙂

Continue reading “October LILbooKtalk: “Using the Power of Storytelling to Promote STEM to Students” with Jarrett Lerner and Mary Fan”

Last Post of the Year: Top 10 Books I’ve Read in 2017!

Hi guys! This will be the LAST post of 2017! Can you believe it already? 2017 has been a great year for me personally and the blog–I’ve had so many amazing opportunities over the past few months, met a ton of amazing people (both bookish and non-bookish), and achieved many milestones. To our readers, thank you so much for all the love and support you have given us over the year; we wouldn’t be here without you! To celebrate the year’s end, here is a Top 10 List of my favorite books from 2017 (plus a few honorable mentions) and why they made the list! I hope you enjoy!


Top 10 Books

10. Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder

Be Light Like a Bird

We’re starting off this list with one of the most emotional books from this year. I read Be Light Like a Bird in an entire day back in March right after the Southeastern Young Adult Book Fest, and I loved it so much because I found myself connecting so much with Wren, the main character. Wren’s childlike voice was so simple, yet beautiful, and her innocence yet loneliness stunned me. I fell in love with the book from page one.

Goodreads

9. 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop

14 Hollow Road

Another amazing Middle Grade novel I had the lovely opportunity to review this year! 14 Hollow Road is probably the best MG fiction book I’ve read not just this year, but for all-time. Here’s why: it was so powerful and so emotional that it had me tearing up at times. It certainly surpassed all my expectations and blew me away (*tornado pun not intended*). This is a novel that will change your perception, regardless of whether you are a child or an adult.

Goodreads

8. As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

As You Wish

I love novels that make you think–that’s why so many thought-provoking books are on this top 10 list. As You Wish turns the common cliché of “Be careful what you wish for” into a gripping, elegant, character-driven novel that sheds a new light onto what we want versus what we really need. Out of both of Sedoti’s novels, I would have to say that this one trumps The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (which is very beautiful and heart-breaking), and Sedoti is now one of my favorite authors ever.

Continue reading “Last Post of the Year: Top 10 Books I’ve Read in 2017!”

Exclusive Interview with Sci-Fi Author Mary Fan on Her Newest Book Starswept!

Hi guys! Earlier this Summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to review Starswept by Mary Fan, which releases TOMORROW! I loved it so much, and you can see my review of it here! Today I have the amazing opportunity to interview Mary Fan on the blog here, and I’m so excited to share it with you. I hope you enjoy!


About Starswepta0258-starswept-8002bcover2breveal2band2bpromotional

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Goodreads


Mary Fan

1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?

Quite simply, I love writing because I love stories, and writing is my vehicle for bringing them to life. I’ve always been a huge reader, and even in elementary school, I was always making up my own stories and creating my own books out of construction paper and glue. It was around seventh grade that I started trying to write full-length books. It started out as being just for fun, but the more I wrote, the more I wanted to get good at it. Every kid has their after-school hobbies, and mine was writing stories.

Sometime around junior year, though, I stopped. I think it was for a variety of reasons… partly because I was feeling discouraged (I’d been rejected from a bunch of writing programs), and partly because I was discovering my love of music theory and composition (I’d been an instrumentalist since I was a toddler, but never really appreciated composition until then). So I set aside the writing for several years while I studied music in college. Then after college, I picked it up again… and I’ve been going ever since!

2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?

Oof, this is always a tough one! Asking me to name my favorite books is like asking me to name my friends… I never want to list them all because I’m afraid I’ll leave one out and feel bad later! I will say, though, that my favorite genres have always been sci-fi and fantasy. I just love out-of-this-world tales. I tend to lean a bit more toward sci-fi, and I think that’s because I’m just more partial toward the aesthetics of futuristic technology and outer space (though I do love castles and magic as well!). I can trace my love of sci-fi back to Jack Williamson’s Legion of Space, which I discovered around seventh grade. I then fell down a rabbit hole of classic sci-fi—Asimov, Bova, Bradbury, Pohl, etc. Come to think of it, I think my tween obsession with reading old-school sci-fi led to my writing habit… the first manuscript I completed (a silly story about Star Trek-style space explorers battling evil aliens) was a space opera. So I think it’s safe to say those had a huge impact on my writing.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?

I currently work a full-time day job in financial marketing, and I treat writing as my second job. I give myself a schedule and deadlines and everything—I’m my own tough boss haha. Of course, one can’t be working all the time—even when that work is also fun. I also love traveling—both around the world and within the United States. There are so, so many places I want to go! And, of course, I love going to live performances—operas, ballets, Broadway shows, rock concerts, circuses…

Continue reading “Exclusive Interview with Sci-Fi Author Mary Fan on Her Newest Book Starswept!”

Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Music! – ARC Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

Hi guys! This week’s Brooding YA Hero Challenge is “All About Music,” and the best book to write about is one that I loved so much and is dear to my heart: Starswept by Mary Fan! This was the first ever ARC I was sent from an author/publisher for review, and I’m so happy to be able to review it and feature it for the Brooding YA Hero Challenge of the Week!


About the Booka0258-starswept-8002bcover2breveal2band2bpromotional

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Starswept will be released on August 29th from Snowy Wings Publishing!

Goodreads


A 5 Star

Disclaimer: I received a signed ARC in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review at all.

Overall Thoughts: This is the first book in a while that will receive a 5 stars from me! I am truly “swept” away by Fan’s debut book. I literally could not put it down because it was so stunning! It definitely exceeded my expectations, and this is a series that I want to continue so much! There is literally nothing wrong with this book; I can’t think of anything against it. Plus, I felt such a very close personal connection because it revolved a lot around music, and music makes up a very influential part of my life. Incorporating music and the music school inside the book is ingenious! I just want to give the book a very big hug because the main characters share the same love of music and the arts as I do. I just didn’t want it to end!

Continue reading “Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Music! – ARC Review: Starswept by Mary Fan”

My June Reading Re-Cap! (My First Re-Cap!)

Hi guys! June has been a wonderful month full of reading, and I managed to get 14 books! I’m so surprised that I read this much! It’s a new record! Now, I’m going to try to do a new bit on the blog, which are re-caps (or wrap-ups as some people call them). I just like the name “Reading Re-Cap” so that’s what I’m calling them. I’m going to organize each of the books I read over the past month by star ratings along with a synopsis and a mini-paragraph of my feelings! Hope you enjoy my first ever re-cap!

Note: The lowest rating I’ll give to a book I finished is a 2-star. That just means that it’s “decent” enough for me to survive the entire thing. I only reserve 1-stars for DNF’s that I just do not like and recommend at all. 5-stars are new favorites, and 4-stars are really enjoyable books. 3-stars are pretty average or neutral.

NEWS UPDATE: I’m going to be moving over to posting two times a week on Mondays and Fridays, which will switch between reviews, interviews, guest posts, and discussions. I’m planning on doing a monthly reading re-cap the first Sunday of the month, with a monthly discussion sometime during the month. Cayli and Kelsey will post whenever they can, and please look out for their posts, too!

Reading Recap June


5 Stars

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait, by Fr. Leo Maasburg (Abridged)

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Starswept by Mary Fan

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The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop


Continue reading “My June Reading Re-Cap! (My First Re-Cap!)”

Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Sequels!

33799449Hi guys! I am officially a member of Broody’s BFFs, the street team for Brooding YA Hero’s next book! Broody and I are great buds, and I’m so excited to hang out with him in his upcoming book, which is by Carrie Ann DiRisio. He is such an amazing and hilarious person, and if you’re not following him already, go check out his Twitter account @BroodingYAHero. Seriously, he will make your day, because he’s Broody. That’s what he’s supposed to do to the main protagonist and then later make her hate him. Make sure you check out his book on Goodreads here!

So this week’s challenge is all about sequels! Here are some of my favorite and most anticipated sequels! First, my favorite sequel of all time…


Continue reading “Brooding YA Hero Challenge: All About Sequels!”