Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virtual Blog Tour - "Six Weeks To Yehidah"

Sorry pretty late in posting this but lets welcome Melissa Studdard who is touring for her book SIX WEEKS TO YEHIDAH and its companion book MY YEHIDAH via Tourz de Codex.

About The Author

Melissa Studdard is the author of the bestselling novel Six Weeks to Yehidah, which also won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Middle Grade Chapter Books. She is also a professor, a book reviewer at-large for The National Poetry Review, a contributing editor for both Tiferet Journal and The Criterion, and the host of the radio interview program Tiferet Talk. As well, she is a member of many literary organizations, including the National Book Critics Circle and the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators.

She loves anything related to writing and reading, whether it's sitting alone with a book and a cup of hot tea, or attending a large poetry reading or literary festival. She also loves travelling, meditating, going for walks, bicycling, practicing yoga, and spending time with family.

She currently resides in Texas with her wonderful daughter and their four sweet but mischievous cats.

Find Melissa here:-

Her official website


Move over, C.S. Lewis; Melissa Studdard is here! Annalise of the Verdant Hills is one of the most delightful protagonists to skip through the pages of literature since Dorothy landed in Oz. Join Annalise and her two walking, talking wondersheep as they travel to ever more outlandish places and meet outrageous and enlightening folk on their journey to discover interconnectedness in a seemingly disconnected world. Discover with them how just one person can be the start of the change we all strive for. A book for all ages, for all time: wonderful, wacky, and bursting with truth!


Bursting at the seams with joy and truth, My Yehidah leads you through one of the most important adventures you can take--the journey to the center of your very own self.

Filled with writing and drawing prompts and beautiful illustrations to color, this book is the perfect jump start for meaningful, creative exploration for people of all ages.

My Yehidah can be done alone or along the novel Six Weeks to Yehidah.


A delightful read, Annalise and her two pet sheep, Mabel and Mimi caught in a flash flood and transported to the land above the clouds find more that they ever bargained for…..there is a land beyond the clouds. From Bob, a man made of light, to Hagski, a nasty bag lady who likes to make rules, to a shaman named Tony and his wise mother Kàna. Here, too, they find that animals talk and musical instruments sprout from the ground like corn. Annalise visits islands and special gardens and a tunnel through the ocean, all the while learning lessons about herself and the nature of the universe. But at last she must decide whether she wants to stay there or return home. 

The author weave an enchanting tale that I guarantee will have a great effect on all of us in one way or another.


Q. Hi Melissa. Please tell us and our readers a little bit about yourself.
I love animals. I’m always picking them up on the side of the road – usually dogs and cats – but I’ve had foxes, raccoons, possums, and other types of critters. I even tried to get a fawn into my car a few months ago. My daughter says if I didn’t have a boyfriend, I’d be the crazy cat lady.

Q. Describe your book in a sentence to convince us to buy it.
Six Weeks to Yehidah is a magical, mythical, mystical journey that will change how you see the world.

Q. What was your inspiration behind “Six Weeks to Yehidah”?
I wanted to share wisdom traditions with younger people, and I wanted to do it in a fun, entertaining way, through narrative and humor. The whole thing actually started as a short story, but I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t quit writing about them.

Q. What are the best aspects of writing?
Bystringing together a new trail of words we can create worlds out of nothing more than syllables; then through those worlds we can understand the deepest parts of ourselves and the most complex aspects of our surroundings. It’s magical.

Q. How do you research for a book before you being the writing process?
Because I write about things I’m interested in, the research happens naturally through the course of living. In Six Weeks to Yehidah, for instance, there’s a lot of Native American imagery and symbolism which were already in my mind from the traveling and reading I’ve been doing for several years. I also Google all sorts of things right in the middle of the writing process. That’s always fun!

Q. Any advice you would want to give to aspiring writers?
First of all, you should always remember that you’re the only person who can speak your truths, and you are worthy of being heard. Secondly, be patient and keep after it and write without ridiculous expectations. Sometimes your writing won’t be good, but you have to write through that to get to the good stuff. Quitting writing won’t fix anything. Don’t be wary of writing the bad stuff. Just laugh at it, think of it as practice, don’t show it to anyone if you don’t feel like it, and keep writing until the good stuff starts flowing again. Just do not stop writing. The most important thing is to keep doing it against all the odds, obstacles, doubts, and insecurities. Those who keep after it are the ones who succeed. I’ve seen it over and over again with my writer friends.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

(Before you read ahead do know - this review is from a once die-hard fan turned neutral....ME!)

A two-part finale seems to be the new get go for Hollywood movie to whisk extra money out of fan-favorite young adult franchises – and an arguable way to give lengthier final book installments a bit more room to wrap everything up. While audiences were initially skeptical of the idea when it was introduced with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2, the success of the final two Potter films (both commercially and critically) seemingly justified the extra trip to the theater. But does Breaking Dawn Part 1 fit the standard.....definitely a big NO (and thats coming from a person who loved the concept behind the story....aka ME).

At least half of the film is dominated by one melodramatic scene after another – in place of either interesting character interactions or exciting action – essentially laying ground for the (presumably) more stimulating Part 2. The first half of Breaking Dawn is a mishmash of moments that fail to build tension or further develop any of the fan-favorite characters. The basic plot follows the marriage of the ever sparkly Edward Cullen and Bella Swan as they prepare for their nuptials. The wedding is a grand and joyous affair but not everyone is happy; queue in Jacob. As the wedding bells fall silent, the newlyweds unexpectedly threaten the tenuous alliance between Cullens and Jacob’s Werewolf clan – causing former friends, as well as reluctant allies, to choose sides.

Simply put, the events in Breaking Dawn – Part 1 are underwhelming. While die-hard fans may find the extended honeymoon sequence cathartic – since the films and books have often been criticized for being too “tame” when it comes to sexuality – all of the lustful looks and “passionate” make-out sessions entirely derail any momentum and charm the film had coming out of the opening act. While in previous movies, the fan favourite seemed well balanced with a bit of humor and seriousness here and there but at the end it was a mis-mash of scenes, now here the die hard fans would argue that the film-makers just wanted to stay true to the books....all good....but it is also up to the creative crew to take a big book and make it sing in two or most yet two and a half hours, where it fails. 
Instead for a more competent film experience, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is simply pandering to the existing fan-base (aka teenage girls) with almost nothing of value to anyone who isn’t already in love with the characters. Where most competent directors would have found out a way to make the material interesting for both fan and non-fan bases but they did not and chose to go with smothering the fan-girls with what they want, i.e., more Edward and Bella action and a little bit of Jacob without his shirt and simply glossed over some of the interesting characters with only glances here and there.

The film looks cheap with bland CGI werewolves and vampire effects – and for a series that is raking in plenty of money with each release, it’s surprising to see such flat visuals at this point. Similarly, despite a stable of up-and-coming actors that includes Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner, as well as critical darlings like Anna Kendrick and Michael Sheen, none of the actors are given any room to deliver a stand-out performance. It’s unfortunate, because despite all the anti-Twilight detractors out there, the franchise leads have shown that they’re capable of offering strong performances when a director attempts to get something more interesting out of them (Stewart in Welcome to the Rileys and Pattinson in Water for Elephants). In that sense, it’s disappointing to see that capable performers and intriguing premises haven’t matured the Twilight series from film to film.
Die-hard fans of the book and movie series will no doubt enjoy watching the film – though, it’s still hard to imagine that they won’t, deep down, find a few of the book’s more decisive moments to be overly cheesy, or even downright laughable. Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is not a competent piece of filmmaking and stands as potentially the worst installment in the series to be made out of the most controversial book of the series. 

Hopefully, given the much more intriguing plot points saved for Part 2, the final installment will end the series on a high note.

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