28 September 2008

Review-Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Mariana is a 15-year-old girl in Philadelphia. Her father is Puerto Rican and her mother Polish. Mariana's world comes crashing down when she receives the worst news: her parents are sending her to spend the summer in Puerto Rico. Doesn't sound too bad but for Mariana it's the end of th world. She's going to miss her best friend's Sweet Sixteen party to spend the summer with only her brother and some distant relatives she didn't even know she had. To makes matters worse she soon finds out that only one of them speaks English and the only Spanish she knows is from school. But after awhile Mariana soon realizes it's not as bad as she thought it would be when she learns more about her culture and family.

This book was very well written and another new favorite of mine. I'm guessing a lot of teenagers will be able to find themselves identifying with Mariana.
One of the best Debut Novels I've read. I definitely recommend this book. Sometimes Mariana seems a little whiny and well, yeah a tiny bit of a push over, but you see her learn through the book (and I assume in the sequels as well) so its bearable. I'm not a fan of her friends either, but I'm still waiting for her to tell them to shove it and grow up :) Okay a little bit hostile but I used to know people like that and I got tired of it. Her parents mad me mad too. And her brother, he's too much like my brother (and I hate him. Seriously.) Huh, I guess the only characters I liked in this book were Mariana and her Puerto Rican family and friends. Thank god they're in the majority of the book. Anyways I do recommend this book and I give itPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket of my little heart and crossbones thingy.

Interview with Ellen Schreiber

Ellen Schreiber is the author of Teenage Mermaid and the Vampire Kisses series. Click on the title of this blog to see her site.

1. What's the inspiration behind Teenage Mermaid?

I was sitting with my mom and we were discussing the fact that I loved mermaids when I was growing up. Then I said, “I was a teenage mermaid.” And we both thought it was a fun title. So I began it from that conversation.

2. What made you want to write a series about vampires?

I wanted to write about the idea of the romantic vampire--one who needs another for eternity, without the gore.

3. How long ago did you get the idea and start writing Vampire Kisses?

Around 1999 and I finished it over the summer of that year.

4. Is there anything you can tell me about Royal Blood and Love Bites?

Royal Blood is about Alexander’s parents arriving in Dullsville. I’m still working on Love Bites. :)

5. What can you tell me about the other vampire series you're planning?

It’s about a girl who is a vampire.

6. Where any of your characters based on people you know?

Aunt Libby is a combination of my Aunt Esther and my friend Andrea who is an actress.

7. Are there any rituals you need to do before you can write? Like listen to a certain type of music, be in complete silence, sit outside, etc.

I don’t have any rituals per se. But sometimes I put my laptop on a spider web tablecloth or placemat. It helps get me in the mood.

8. What do you do to get over writer's block?

I don’t usually get it, but if I need some inspiration, I go for a walk, drive, or watch a movie.

9. Do you just start writing when you have an idea or do you make an outline then work around that?

I only use an outline when I have to show one to the publishers. Otherwise, I just sit down and write. But when I do the outline, I write it the same way as my novels--organically.

10. What was your favorite book as a teen and now? Favorite author?

I hate to admit but I rarely read when I was a teen. I always felt forced to read in high school and it turned me off to reading. I did like a Wrinkle in Time, which I read on my own. Of course, my favorite author now is my brother, Mark.

11. Other than your great books, do you have any recommendations?

Sure. Starcrossed by Mark Schreiber. It’s very hip and edgy. :)

26 September 2008

Review-Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall

There are some girls who have everything...

She has the right clothes, the right friends, and the right last name, but fifteen-year-old Maddie Crane sometimes feels like an outsider in her clique in the wealthy, seaside town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts. And when her gorgeous, eccentric cousin Cordelia LeClaire moves to town, Maddie is drawn toward her ethereal, magical spirit and teeters even more toward the edge of her friends' tightly-knit circle...

Then there are the jealous ones...

Kate Endicott and the Sisters of Misery--a secret clique of the most popular, powerful girls in school--are less than thrilled by Cordelia's arrival. When Kate's on-again, off-again boyfriend Trevor takes an interest in Cordelia, the Sisters of Misery become determined to make her pay...

Now Maddie must choose between the allure and power of the Sisters of Misery and her loyalty to her beloved cousin. But she'll have to give up on ever fitting in and accept the disturbing truth about the town, her friends, her mysterious cousin, and even herself as she faces the terrifying wrath of the Sisters of Misery...

I started this book around 11 PM and finished around 1 AM. One of the few books I make a priority over sleep.
What can I say about this book other than I loved it? I could repeat the summary you'll find anywhere, in my own words, but that's not really reviewing. I could talk about the book in detail but I'd give every good thing away. I could say that without a doubt you'll love it, but how am I supposed to know that? I don't know who is reading this, for all I know no one reads this. So can I say you'll absolutely love this book and will impatiently wait for the sequel? No, I can't but I can say that's what happened to me. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do in a review. Say why I like or disliked it, would I recommend it to someone else etc. etc. So I guess I'll do that now...
Yes I loved it and yes I would recommend it.
Sisters of Misery is a wonderful book that I've been waiting for since July and it definitely didn't disappoint. I couldn't put it down. I was talking to my friend the entire I was reading it and she decided she was going to read it just from the reactions I had when I read some shocking, unexpected twist. (there were a lot of those) I mean one minute I though somebody was guilty then I was feeling sorry for them and couldn’t believe I thought that had done it. Then I thought for sure without a doubt this person did it and once again I was wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be wrong. This book is awesome at keeping you guessing.
One thing I absolutely loved about this book, is even though it’s Young Adult it isn’t a kid book. What I mean is, that it doesn’t just ignore drugs and sex. It doesn’t going to into explicit detail or anything but it doesn’t sugar coat it either. Like I said, I love that. I’m tired of Young Adult books that are advertised as being great for teens and they completely ignore most problems teens go through. I hope you’ll check this book out, you may not like it but it’s definitely worth reading either way.

My interview with the author, Megan Kelley Hall, should be up soon. But there was some mess up and my question never got sent and now I can’t find them anywhere. (You wouldn’t have happened to see a purple notebook lying around anywhere would you? No? Dang… When I find the questions, or come up with more, I’ll post them.)


10 September 2008

Review-The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

15 year old Chloe Saunders was a normal teenager. She went to an art school, made up a crush for her friend's benefit, has designer clothes, was raised by nannies, can see ghosts. Okay maybe not so normal. After an incident at school she is sent to a group home for "troubled teens". She starts to figure out that there is a lot more to Lyle House then she was led to believe. With the help of two other house mates she starts to figure out some of the mystery behind the house. And her gift.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH OMG OMG OMG OMG OH MY GOOOD! What kind of ending..... grrrr. That's all I got to say "AHHHH" oh and Kelley is evil... Ending a book like that what was she thinking?! Maybe she was thinking it was a way to get people craving The Awakening, in which case she's right. Okay I'll admit it was a damn good ending. I just hate cliffhangers. (Just so you know when I say an author is evil for the way they ending a book I mean "the author is smart to end it that way but I want to know what happens! *whines*" or that I hate cliffhangers what I really mean is "OMG I can't wait for more" or something along those lines.... weird I know)
This book was awesome. I couldn't stand it when I had to stop reading to do my school work. The Greeks just weren't holding my attention today.

We meet Chloe, a teenage necromancer, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to Lyle House. There she meets Liz, Tori, Simon, Derek, and Rae. Like her, they are "troubled teens" with secrets and powers they don't understand. While trying to find out what's really going on at Lyle House and who she can trust, Chloe learns more than she could imagine, and maybe more than she wants to. She finds out ignorance really is bliss but has to ask herself if it's worth it. I wish I could say more but I don't want to spoil it so go pick up a copy!

Kelley Armstrong has done it again with the promising new series. If you have read The Summoning and would like to read the first chapter of The Awakening (book 2) then go here. Click on "My Locker", if you can't figure out the password contact me. Click on the page on the right that says "Darkest Powers book 2 uncorrected proofs" then you'll need another password, to prove you've read the first one, then you can read the first chapter of The Awakening.

Interview with Kelley Armstrong

I had the pleasure to interview Kelley Armstrong author of the Women of the Otherworld series, Nadia Stattford series, and The Summoning, book 1 of the Darkest Powers trilogy. If you haven't read her book, I'm sorry. If you have and you don't like them then I would suggest medication for insanity. Anyways....

How did you get the ideas for Women of the Otherworld, Nadia Stattford, and Darkest Powers?

For the Otherworld and Darkest Powers, I've been fascinated by the paranormal since I was a child. By now, I have no idea why I'm so attracted to it--I just know that I am, and that I love writing in this genre. What I often read, though, is crime thrillers. So when I thought of starting a different series, that's the direction I went with the Nadia Stafford one.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

That's like asking me to pick my favourite child! I love them all for different reasons, and maybe some a little more than others, but there's no clear fave. The one I find easiest to write is Elena because I've spent so much time "in her head."

Were any of your characters based on or inspired by someone you know?

Not really. All my characters include traits from people I know, but they each include traits from many people, so none are based on anyone. And I'm sure my friends and family appreciate that! The closest I have a "character inspired by a real person" is Jaime Vegas. Her personality isn't based on anyone in particular, but I got the idea for her character (particularly her career) from reading an article on a TV spiritualist.

How many books are planned for Women of the Otherworld?

I just signed a contract extension to go to #13 (#9 comes out this fall) I'm at the stage of taking it a few books at a time. When I get close to #13, I'll decide whether I'm still having fun, and if not, that would be the end.

I noticed that the preview for Broken at the end of Haunted is different than the first chapter in the book and was wondering what made you change your mind about the sequence of events in Broken?

Typical "early chapter" edits. The first quarter of my books always undergo the most edits, because they start too slowly, as I work my way into the characters. With that one, as with most of them, the publisher need the first chapter months before Haunted even came out...meaning I'd barely begun Broken. When I edited it, I realized that the book started too slowly, so I had to condense the time-lines. Since then I've insisted on not releasing the first chapters until the book is done!

Is the end to Made to be Broken written as a conclusion in case it is the last?

No. I know that might not be wise. I've got so much on the go right now that I'm pretty sure a third book won't follow right away. But I had an arc for the overall storyline that I couldn't wrap up in two books. So the case she's investigating ends, as it did in Exit Strategy, but Nadia's overall story doesn't.

Would you like it if one or all of your book series were going to be made into movies?

It'd be great publicity. I've learned that, whatever my own feelings on movie/TV versions, I can't underestimate the power of that publicity. The more readers a series gets, the more happy publishers are to let it continue, which is very important!

Did you always want to be an author? If not, did anything specific cause your decision?

I've always written, but I didn't expect to ever become a full-time writer, or even write books that were published. In my very non-artsy family, fiction writing was considered a hobby, not something you did for a living. I knew it wasn't a career I could count on, so I just kept at it in my spare time and after a lot of rejection, finally got published.

What helps you get over writer's block?

For me, "writer's block" is one of two things. First, lack of confidence. If I'm feeling discouraged, it's hard to sit and write because I'm second-guessing everything from the plot to my word choices. Second, lack of direction--not knowing what comes next in the story.
Getting published has definitely helped with the first! When my confidence wanes, I can remind myself that there are people waiting to read the next book. A better way for me to fight that, though, is good old determination--taking whatever made my confidence falter and using it to bolster my determination to make the current book as good as it can be.
For the second problem, outlines are a godsend. So long as I have a basic outline, I always know "what happens next," so I never sit down at the computer and draw a blank.

How many times did it take for you get published?

I can't say, really. You'll find with most authors that they did more than one book and sent out many queries. What I can say is that it took about 6 years of intermittently sending stuff out.

Any advice to aspiring authors?

Practice, practice, practice. Sounds simple, but I know too many new writers who have written very little considering how long they've wanted to write. They're busy learning--not wanting to write too much until they know more about the craft. You need to write, and write a lot. Learning is great--taking courses, reading books--but you'll learn more from them if you do it as you go.

Who was your favorite author as a teen and now? Favorite book?

As a teen it was Stephen King. As an adult, I don't have a favourite, just a wide range of authors that I'll grab if I'm browsing the bookstore for something to read. Favourite book? Watership Down.

Other than your amazing books, what are some you'd recommend?

Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs. They also happen to be among the bestselling authors in this genre, but they got there for a reason. They're good.

And my friend Abby had some questions of her own:

Do you make an outline for you books and write them beginning to end or do the ideas just come to you as you go?

I outline. I didn't used to, but once I got on a publication schedule with deadlines, I couldn't just meander through and back up when I went in the wrong direction. I don't do a detailed outline (it's far more detailed for the first part than the rest) and I don't necessarily stick to my outline, but I always have one.

Did you read up on the paranormal for your Women of the Otherworld series?

I didn't need to. I've been fascinated by the paranormal and reading about it since childhood. I still read new sources I find (well, they're actually old sources, but new to me!) I'm always expanding my knowledge of the lore and finding new and interesting angles.

And lastly she wants to know, and I'm sure many others do as well, where can I find a Clay?

The question is: would you really want to? While he certainly has his appealing points, I know that if I had to live with him, he'd drive me nuts...as he often does to Elena. He works better as a fictional guy than a real one, I'm sure!

03 September 2008

Review-The Elite by Jennifer Banash

It’s the most exclusive luxury apartment building on New York’s Upper East Side. If you don’t live there—you don’t know how to live…

When Casey McCloy steps into The Bramford, she’s overwhelmed by the sophistication and elegance of it all. Fresh from the Midwest, she’s moved to NYC to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark Academy. Here all that matters is who you know. The designer to know is Zac Posen. The girl to know is Madison Macallister: popular, pretty, platinum-blond. She’s not just Casey’s new classmate and neighbor; she’s an icon. So Casey aims to get in with Madison and her gorgeous gal-pals from the start. As the reigning queen of coolness, Madison is capable of destroying reputations with one well-timed whisper. Better to be on her good side.

But after a city-haute makeover from her new frenemy Madison, Casey is wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and meeting the right people—including Drew, the boy-about-town who Madison thinks belongs to her and her alone…

It's been said this book is a lot like Gossip Girl, and it is. Except, you know, better. (No offense to the GG fans) This book may be set in New York and about some rich girls but it is different. I loved this book. It switches points of view in different chapters so that every character has their chance to shine, and no character seems more important than the others. Drew might seem like a run-of-the-mill player and Madison may seem like a bitch until you read their points of view.

You may think the first part of the book may be a little slow, but it definitely picks up in the later half. I love how this book makes you realize that even though people may be rich and have the perfect hair and perfect nails and the perfect outfits and seem to have perfect lives, they don't. They have to deal with peer pressure and family problems and boy troubles and secrets they're afraid of people knowing just like everybody else. Having money might make their lives easier and a little more fun but it definitely makes it harder, too.


Check this book out and it's sequel, In Too Deep, coming out in January 2009 and the final installment (unless you guys keep reading, hint hint) Simply Irresistible coming out June of 09. Also check out my interview with the author.

02 September 2008

Interview with Jennifer Banash author of The Elite

Have you always known you wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decided to pursue it?

Yes. I really always knew from the time I was very little that I wanted to be a writer. It's really the only thing I'm even remotely good at!

How long after you started seeking publishers did you get published?

I used to ghostwrite another bestselling YA series, and so when that series came to an end, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to my editor at Penguin, who was really interested in the concept of THE ELITE. The rest, as they say, is history :) I also published an adult novel called HOLlYWOODLAND: AN AMERICAN FAIRY TALE in 2006.

What was your profession before started writing?

I was, and am, a teacher. I taught at the University of Iowa for 7 years as I was getting my Ph.D in English, and I now teach at The Chadwick School in Plaos Verdes, CA. It's weird--I began writing a book about an exclusive private school, and now I teach at one! I guess art really does imitate life . . . or something.

What was the inspiration behind The Elite?

I attended high school on the Upper East Side, and it wasn't all that and a bag of chips by any means. So, in writing THE ELITE I wanted to provide an escapist fantasy of that world, tempered by a touch of realism. In short, I wanted to give my characters REAL problems.

Are any of the characters based on people you know?

Not really . . . Drew shared some characteristics with my current boyfriend, but mainly all the characters come out of the dark, scary recesses of my overcrowded brain.

When you first wrote The Elite did you plan for it to be a trilogy?

Actually I planned for it to be eight book all together, but Berkeley Jam has only bought the first three. So if you like the series, tell your friends, write BJ an email asking for more!

What do you do to get rid of writer's block?

Eat lots of chocolate and cry a lot . . . Watching movies sometimes helps, strangely enough--it gets the focus off of yourself and on to something else. Sometimes that's enough to help you to break through whatever is holding you back.

Have you written any books that have yet to be published?

I'm currently writing a series about identical twins whose family moves them to Romania after their parents buy Dracula's castle! It's called BITTEN.

Who is you favorite author?

Virginia Woolf or Bret Easton Ellis.

What's your favorite book?

I don't play favorites.

What's the first book you remember reading?
GREEN EGGS AND HAM or the ELOISE books. I STILL love them!

I want to thank Ms. Banash for taking time out of her schedule to answer my questions.
The Elite is in stores now. The Elite:In Too Deep comes out Jan 09 and The Elite: Simply Irresistible comes out June 09.