This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Grace Earl, and Wayne and Lori Earl

June 14, 2014 in Biography/Autobiography, Nonfiction

So, I kind of had a lot to do today. I’m in the midst of starting a business, and my office has been completely overrun by junk stuff that needs to be sorted for an upcoming garage sale, and I have several writing projects in the air that have been grossly neglected…not to mention I haven’t gotten my dad a Father’s Day card yet. (Yikes. Bad daughter confession!) Over breakfast this morning, I whined to my husband about all that needed accomplishing today.

And then I picked up This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl (and her parents, Wayne and Lori Earl), and well… let’s just say my priorities shifted.

Esther Grace Earl is, as many of you may know, the remarkable young woman who was not only one of the first Nerdfighters, a popular blogger and vlogger, a writer in her own right, and a personal friend to author John Green; she was also a teen living with cancer, whose story ultimately inspired Green as he wrote The Fault in Our Stars. Esther was 16 when she passed away in 2010, but her vibrant, all-too-short life continues to inspire thousands. There is even a holiday celebrated in Nerdfighterdom dedicated to her and her life’s ambition to love people well and deeply: Esther Day, which is celebrated on her birthday, August 3rd.

Those who’ve lived or even just dabbled in Nerdfighteria are probably familiar with Esther to some degree. John Green talks about her frequently, especially recently with all of the publicity around the TFiOS movie. In January, a book featuring Esther’s diary entries, blogs, drawings, and letters, along with reflections and stories from her friends and family, was published by Dutton, John Green’s publisher. This Star Won’t Go Out naturally received a lot of buzz in Nerdfighterdom, but the publishing world in general was pretty excited about it, too. I worked for Penguin Random House at the time, which is the parent company to Dutton, and was thrilled to see the activity around the book. Not just because I am a Nerdfighter who is always eager to celebrate all things YA, but also because this excitement was over a teenage girl. Yes, she was a teenage girl with cancer, which makes her story tragically appealing to many–especially sympathetic and curious adults in the book biz. (Let’s face it: people who work in the book business are all about The Story, and a 16-year-old who died of a rare cancer and inspired the mega-bestselling The Fault in Our Stars is a pretty ensnaring Story.) But my colleagues weren’t necessarily buzzing about This Star Won’t Go Out just because it was a sad story that inspired a bestseller. Esther’s story was so much more than a sad Cancer Story because Esther was more than Cancer. She was a lively, intelligent, funny, vivacious girl who desperately wanted to make a difference in the world. Even before the book came out, people were talking about that Esther. Not Cancer Esther. Not Sad Story Esther. They were talking about the teenager who cracked fart jokes online, yet also had the self-awareness to send a letter to her future self to her parents’ email address since she might not be alive in a few years’ time.

Suffice it to say, This Star Won’t Go Out is everything that I suspect Esther herself was. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing her IRL, but the book, to me, didn’t feel like a book so much as it felt like a life. I felt welcomed into its pages, her story, her thoughts, her humor. It is charming and disarming; complicated and unflinchingly honest; surprising and occasionally brutal. It is life–Esther’s life–and it is real and beautiful and painful.

So much stood out to me in its pages. Esther was wise beyond her years, as well as delightfully teenager-y. She takes courage in her faith on one page and admits to “ignoring God” a few pages later. She longs to have a real and lasting impact on the world, and yet also longs to kiss a boy. “Sounds dumb,” she says, “but I want to like someone and someone to like me. Eesh I sound like a 2nd grader. Whatever.” (p 165) Her desire for life in all its forms–from the mature and complex longing to change the world, to the innocent and universal desire for romantic connection–is buoyant and tangible on each page. She was–is–completely captivating. 

Esther Day is still a few months away, but I can’t help but feel that her words and legacy can–and should–be realized every day. I am grateful to Wayne and Lori Earl, and the Dutton team, for sharing Esther’s words and life with the world. I am also glad that I ignored my to-do list today and instead spent time getting to know someone so remarkable; because getting to know Esther, even just a little, made me happy. And, as Esther says,

Just be happy, and if you can’t be happy, do things that make you happy. Or do nothing with the people that make you happy.”

5 Yak Smacks

 

 

Support the This Star Won’t Go Out foundation, which offers financial assistance to families of children with cancer: www.tswgo.org

Visit Esther’s YouTube here.

Buy This Star Won’t Go Out at YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE! Or online, here.

 

If Ailiths Were On Twitter… #RemnantTweets

April 25, 2014 in Blog Tours, Dystopian

We are thrilled to be a part of Lisa T. Bergren’s Remnants Blog Tour this month! It seemed like the perfect way to celebrate a Yakety reemergence after a year of sabbatical silence on our part. So welcome to stop #23 on the Remnants Blog Tour!

You may remember that Lisa T. Bergren is one of our favorites. We heart her River of Time series (see our reviews to prove it), and were so, so excited when we heard she was releasing a brand new, dystopian series! Yeah, yeah…we, too, have suffered a little dystopian disillusionment lately, as there are just so many out there. But we knew we could count on Lisa to bring us something fresh, fun, romantic, and exciting–and she didn’t disappoint!

Anyway, as part of the Remnants Blog Tour, we got the 411 (is that a phrase anymore? Did I just reveal how old and miserly I am?) on what the world of social media would be like if our favorite Remnants were on Twitter. (I can tell you right now, Ronan would have a bajillion followers swooning over his every tweet. And Neiro…oh man. He’d probably only tweet if his Publicist told him he really had to, but those 140 characters would be smoldering. I’m willing to bet every selfie posted by these two hotties would blow Ellen DeGeneres’s record out of the water.)

So here it is, straight from Lisa… If Ailith’s were on Twitter…#RemnantTweets

 

Here are 10 Tweets the Remnants might send to us from the future…

  • Out of canned corn. And SPAM. And mandarin oranges. Plz stash more for us to find in your cupboards as we glean. #foraging
  • Give up coffee, tea and Diet Coke habits now. Post-War, those commodities won’t exist. #caffeine
  • Brush up on your ninja skills, as well as abilities with any weapon at your disposal. #fight2thedeath
  • Although all seems dark, we can always find a glimmer of Light. #hope
  • Using our combined skills and gifting, we are stronger than we are on our own. #community
  • Things our great-great-great-grandmothers missed most: toothbrush, toothpaste, Advil #necessities
  • As much as you love your TV, computer and the Internet, they are not vital to life. #survival
  • Your ability to survive will be most dependent on who you know, not what you have. #community
  • Do not trust those in power. In fact, run from them. Far from them. #politics #powercorrupts
  • When all seems lost, it will be just the beginning. There is a call upon your life that extends beyond what you can see. #mission
If you ask us, some of these tweets don’t need to come from the future. They are totally true already!
Thanks for visiting our stop today! For those of you collecting clues for the big Kindle Fire HXD giveaway, here it is…
WHICH HELPS

Fun Things

Full Blog Tour list

Get your copy of Remnants: Season of Wonder now!

 

Our review of Remnants: Season of Wonder plus our GIVEAWAY

Read the first chapter here!

Check out the video trailer here!

Lisa T. Bergren

Lisa T. Bergren author picLisa T. Bergren is the author of over forty books, with a combined count of over 2.5 million copies sold. She has written best-selling children’s books, award-winning YA (River of Time Series: Waterfall), popular historical fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s nonfiction, and gift books. She is a writer and editor residing in Colorado Springs, CO, with her husband and three children. You can find out more about Lisa at LisaBergren.com.

 

Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Bergren

April 24, 2014 in Blog Tours, Dystopian, GIVEAWAY

For those of you subscribed to our blog feed who are finding this post in your inbox and wondering if you’re going crazy, the answer is, no. This really is a post from the Yakety Yaks!

One year ago this month, Renee (the most stylish half of the Yakety duo) had a baby girl. Obviously, Renee has been pretty busy in the last twelve months with her growing family, career changes, and moving. So she took a sabbatical from Yakety Yaks to focus on her life for a while. Meanwhile, Lindsay (the half of the Yakety duo that most often refers to herself in third person) has also been dealing with lots of life changes, including career changes, getting bangs, and chasing around a very cute rascal of a puppy. Needless to say, both of the Yaketys needed to focus on things other than their YA obsession for a little while. But, as it turns out, it’s pretty hard to focus on anything other than YA… so…we’re back!

To celebrate being back, I’m reviewing a new book by one of my favorite people and authors. Remnants: Season of Wonder is Lisa T. Bergren’s newest YA dystopian series. You may remember Lisa from her fabulous River of Time series. I’m thrilled to not only be reviewing her book as part of our Yakety Re-Launch, but to also be taking part in the Remnants Blog Tour. So check back tomorrow for fun blog toury things…including a cool giveaway hosted by Lisa!

Now for my review. Let’s see if these old reviewing muscles still work… *rolls neck, stretches fingers*

Remnants: Season of Wonder

Season of Wonder (The Remnants #1)Synopsis:

Andriana is a Remnant, one of the gifted teens born on the seventh day during the seventy-seventh Harvest after the Great War, and destined to act as humanity’s last shield against the horrors that now plague those who remain.
After years of training in stealth and warfare, Andriana and her Knight protector, Ronan, are finally ready to answer the Call and begin the life they were designed for. But as they embark with the other Remnants on the first of their assignments, they quickly discover that the world beyond their protected Valley home is more dangerous than they imagined.
The Sons of Sheol will stop at nothing to prevent Dri and Ronan from rescuing anyone sympathetic to the Remnants’ cause. And as the Remnants attempt to battle the demonic forces, other enemies close in. Dangers intensify, but so do Dri’s feelings for Ronan–the one emotion she is not meant to feel. In the midst of their mission, Andriana must find a way to master her feelings, or risk compromising everything.

Remnants is set in a post-apocolyptic world that feels a little medieval with a dash of Mad Max. We meet our protagonists, Andriana and her knight, Ronan, on the night of their calling to join the Ailith Community. These two teens are fully equipped with swords and mad ninja skills, and they set out to embrace their mission with a tangible exuberance. (Not to mention a steamy helping of chemistry.) They say goodbye to the life and people they’ve always known, and embark on an adventure that rarely pauses to take a pacing breath. Be prepared to stay up way past your bedtime with this one.

One of the things I love most about Lisa T. Bergren is how effortlessly she creates female protagonists with grit, strength and genuine insecurity. I love them. Andriana is tough: she can wield a sword with the best of them, and is fearless and fierce in the face of danger. But she’s also deeply compassionate, curious (in the “curiosity killed the cat” sense), and full of doubts when it comes to the raging (and illicit) emotions she has for her handsome (and off-limits) knight. In short, she feels real. She isn’t a girl whose strength has closed her off. She’s someone whose strength is tempered and tested by frailty, doubt, hope, despair, and longing.

Of course, as a reader, Andriana’s longing is totally understandable. I mean, her knight is Ronan. Ronan. He’s gorgeous, gentle, fierce, over-protective without being overbearing, and heart-warmingly nervous whenever his emotions become too apparent to his lovely young Remnant. Ronan is reason enough to read this book, IMHO. The exhilarating adventure, captivating characters, and awesome fight scenes are just the cherry on top.

Frankly, Remnants: Season of Wonder is a great read. Though the world of YA is completely over-saturated with dystopians, Remnants is unique in that it presents a harsh reality without being too heavy-handed or depressing. I loved how the world of Remnants focused not on environmental or political turmoil (though those things are factors), but on the spiritual devastation of an apocalypse. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t mean “spiritual” in a preachy or lofty sense. Looking at what happens to people’s faith and heart after a world-collapse is an intriguing lens for a dystopian, and one that isn’t often utilized. It’s a refreshing examination of an overly populated genre.

Oh, also, there’s Ronan. Have I mentioned him yet? *sigh*

So, because of the unique approach, compelling characters, engaging plot, and Ronan, I award this one 5 Yak Smacks.

5 Yak Smacks

Also, we’re giving away an ARC copy of Remnants: Season of Wonder.

To enter, simply comment below. A winner will be chosen on May 1st!

The Newest Yakety Yak in Town…and she’s dang cute.

April 27, 2013 in Blog stuff, video

People, there’s a new Yakety Yak in town. And she’s stinkin’ cute.