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Review: Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Dark Eden #1
Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: November 1, 2011 by Harper Teen

Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

Patrick Carman's Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, memory, and— ultimately—immortality. Illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith.

When I picked up this book, I was a very happy reader. When I began reading this book, I was transported to another world. (In short, I was living the world of Dark Eden. I was no longer in reality.) Dark Eden is a psychological thriller/mystery that forces you to question character motivation and peruse the book for clues in search of the truth behind Fort Eden.

Fort Eden is truly a Dark Eden. The entire setting is dark and questionable. I’m not surprised that Will ran away, but I do wonder why all the monitors are there and how he can hide from them. Will is another kind of narrator. Not only is he a male narrator in the sea of female protagonists that we see in YA literature today, he is calm and rational whereas many hero(ines) run headlong into danger. Will is cautious, and he actually has an idea of what is going on. His only “fault” -if you would call it a fault- is that he cannot stay away from Marisa, and the stolen conversations between them add to the tension in the novel… because there is a traitor in their midst, and of course Marisa is suspect to the readers.

I never knew where the story would take me. There are so many secrets. While the kids are sent to Fort Eden to overcome their fears, Carman pulls us readers into a web of fears, implanting doubt towards the characters and leaving us to crawl through the pages, wondering just how he will pull off a satisfying end to the novel. And yet, somehow he does. When I thought I had something figured out, I found that Carman had added another twist to the plot, and as I watched the number of pages left to read diminish, he gave me another surprise. Let’s just say that I never saw it coming. If you’re looking to be thrilled… maybe for your mind to be messed with just a little… I have three words for you: read Dark Eden.

Note: There is an animated website to go along with the novel. If you enjoy Dark Eden, you should definitely check it out!

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Ship Breaker #1
Paperback 352 Pages
Publication: October 3, 2011 by Little, Brown & Company

Winner of the 2011 Michael L. Printz Award

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.…

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

Bacigalupi has created a bleak world set in a dystopian future. Global warming has gone into full swing, drowning cities and wiping Antarctica off the map. Nailer strips metal off old ships to recycle them, as our natural resources have been exhausted. Then he finds the heiress to one of the largest corporations of the world in a wrecked ship, and he must decide whether or not to help her in a world where even your own crew mates will betray you for their own gain.

Much world building has gone into the making of this novel, and Bacigalupi makes it so very, very real and believable. Nailer lives in a society filled with a diverse mix of people from various cultures and beliefs. Everyone is poor, and their conditions influence their judgments. Some will betray comrades for personal gain; others are loyal to their circle but have no sympathy for outsiders. Nailer is a character with more humanity than others and is constantly conflicted between fighting for his own survival and doing what is morally right.

The plot is fast-paced and action-packed. Bacigalupi brings the story together without breaking the flow. He isn't afraid to delve into harsher aspects of the world. There is violence and abuse, and there are new scientific breakthroughs that have created new creatures. The imagery is so vivid and so well written, that some passages may cause readers to become a bit squeamish, yet the story was so gripping that Bacigalupi compelled me to read on, cheering for Nailer and Nita in their quest.

Shipbreaker explores the concept of humanity and what humans will do when facing adverse conditions. I believe that it is worth reading for the wonderful writing style and for the messages within the book.  This book will appeal to boys and girls alike with an interest in science fiction/ fantasy and adventure. If you enjoy this book, then you should read the sequel The Drowned Cities. I know I will be reading it!

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A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Monday, November 28, 2011
3 Stars; A Good Read
Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: May 10, 2011 by Egmont USA

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately, everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems—only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

For the most part, I was in a love-hate relationship with this book. I can understand Sheridan’s feelings. She doesn’t know why her mom hasn’t been in contact with her for the past couple years and has been looking for her. However, the people closest to her discourage her, telling her to give up on her mom, and her dad is especially adamant about this. I do wonder why Sheridan continues to believe in her mom's promise to come back and see her all this time. Now, her dad has a show, and it seems to be all that he’s thinking about, going so far as to make what seem to be outrageous demands for her to make the show a success.

What I don’t understand her obsession with Ethan. Sure, he’s hot, but she doesn’t know anything else about him other than he’s a player. Mandelski never delves much into Ethan other than his hotness and Sheridan's obsession with him, and it never seems to amount to much to me. What turned out to be real about him actually had me questioning it when it’s revealed. Then again, there is the fact that Sheridan is a hormonal teenager, and many teenagers do hook up because they mistake hormones for love. I’m just glad that Sheridan opens her eyes in the end.

I do like how cakes play a role in Sheridan’s life. Decorating cakes completes Sheridan and gives her peace, making her feel closer to her mom. The added touch is sweet and rounds out the story, and it made for an amazing opening to the book. However, that’s the most that stood out to me. Sheridan’s initial refusal to come to terms with reality frustrated me, and none of the characters really jumped out at me.

The Sweetest Thing is about coming to terms with reality and opening to change. Sheridan starts out as a girl attached to the past and determined to force her dreams to become reality. She ends as a young woman ready to brave the world and change her life. This book alternates between sweet and frustrating, complicated by teenage hormones. Overall, it is a fun read, but not something that would top my list of books to recommend.

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A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Imagine My Mailbox (15)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kris's Mailbox

(Click on cover image for book synopsis)


For Review:

I have been looking forward to reading Allegiance since I read the first book Legacy this past summer. New Girl has a gorgeous cover, and I am looking forward to reading and reviewing a contemporary novel. Mesmerize is the only paranormal book in this week's batch, and it does look interesting. The only problem is that I didn't realize that it was the fourth installment in a series when I requested it. Hopefully, I won't be missing out on too much. If I do end up liking this book, I plan on reading the first three books.

Gifted:
I've been wanting to read this book FOREVER. It looks like such a cute, sweet read! I can't wait for the winter holidays to come along and I'll have time to read this. Thanks so much to Teri from Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared!

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This is such a great challenge. My TBR pile has been growing and growing. Many books have been released in the past year that I have been yearning to read and yet haven't found the time to read. This challenge is a great motivator for me to go out there and clear some books off my TBR pile--and to read books that might otherwise, I am said to say, remain in my TBR pile.

For more information, refer to the challenge sign up post.

Hosts:
Evie from Bookish - @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - @Nicoleabouttown
Bonniefrom Hands and Home - @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life - @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading - @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read - @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - @alouetteuette
Christa from Hooked On Books - @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction - @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision - @mermaidvisions


Some of books that I plan to reading for the challenge:
Contemporary
That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
(Yes, I'm going to be reading all the Dessen books that I haven't read!)
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens
Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Paranormal
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Other
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari



If any of you have book recommendations for me that are 2011 or prior releases, please leave a comment. I love hearing about books to read!

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Eve #1
Hardback: 318 Pages
Publication:  October 4, 2011 by Harper Teen

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

What really stood out to me was the world building. In envisioning a world where 98% of the world's population is wiped out by a deadly virus, Anna Carey portrays a realistic view of society sixteen years from the the devastating loss. The characters themselves are authentic from major characters like Eve and Caleb to minor characters that Carey introduces in passing. Setting and character are very important to me when reading a book, and Carey excels in making the two feel real.

Putting the setting aside, as I don't want to go into it in too much detail and spoil it, Eve is a brilliant, strong young woman. She has been brainwashed her whole life, and her only knowledge of the world comes from her studies. In a matter of days, she must go through life-endangering situations in pursuit of the truth. It takes great strength and courage to go against all that you know, and even more to open your heart to someone. I love how Eve stands up for herself and grows from the dangers that she encounters.

Carey's dystopian world is frightening. Girls are educated in a virtual prison from the rest of the world without realizing what their true future will be. Often, characters cannot be trusted, even in places that seem to be the safest. There is no ideal ending this time around, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the second installment in the trilogy!

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Follow Friday 25: Thanksgiving Edition

Friday, November 25, 2011



Q: It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?


I want to thank my awesome blogging partner Hikari. She has put in many hours on blog designing and all the technical stuff that comes with blogging. She has been my crit partner and a friend. I don't know what I'd do without her.

I want to thank all of you for visiting Imaginary Reads and all of you who have been following us. I especially want to thank those of you who comment on our posts. It makes us so very happy when someone comments and when we know that we have inspired someone to read a book or want to read a book even more. This blog was started to give feedback on books. It's inspiring to know that you take it seriously.

Thanks to all of the bloggers out there who continue to read and review books and hold special features on their blogs. You are all inspiring, and many of you influence me to read new books all the time!

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Thursday, November 24, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Paperback: 322 Pages
Publication: November 22, 2011 by Harlequin Teen

When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.

Three teens go on a journey to save a girl that influenced their lives. Only, she’s already dead, and they’re the ones that really need saving. June was the perfect girl, perfect daughter. No one would have suspected her of being suicidal.

I never really understood this, but Harper, June’s younger sister and the narrator, gets the idea that June can be saved only if her ashes are scattered in the Pacific Ocean bordering California. Somehow, she ends up driving there with her best friend (Laney) and a mysterious guy (Jake) with a connection to June. While the journey pops almost out of nowhere, everything falls into place. Harper, Laney, and Jake need the journey to get over June’s death, and they need to do it together.

They don’t always get along. At first, Harper has a thing against Jake because she doesn’t understand his relationship with her sister, and he won’t tell. Even Laney has her moments... her secrets. Their feelings are completely understandable. Harper doesn't understand how her sister could have gotten close to a guy like Jake. Laney is brazen and confident on the outside, but she has issues of her own. And as for Jake, he too is dealing with June's death. None of them know who to blame.

Harper is a relatable narrator all around. She’s the rebellious child, but only because she knows she can never compare to her sister and it was the only way she could create her own identity. Inside, she’s a teenage girl with teenage emotions. Hormonal as she is, she cannot deny her attraction to a certain annoying guy, but it doesn’t mean she has to give in. The relationship is sweet, filled with both love and hate, and it takes time to develop. It was as real as everything else about this book, and I enjoyed watching it progress.

Overall, I cannot praise this book enough. It was fun, witty, and very real. I got so much out of reading this book, including a bigger appreciation for life. Saving June is about death, friendship, and love. It is about life and dealing with the messes that come with it. Hannah Harrington has debuted with a stunning novel, and I will definitely be looking out for new works by her!

Note: Music plays a big role in the novel, and I will be listening to the tracks the next time I read Saving June! (And I will be rereading it!!)

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: The Heir Chronicles #1
Paperback: 426 Pages
Publication: February 27, 2007 by Disney-Hyperion

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts. Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game. A magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death, The winning house ruling the Weir. As if his bizarre magical heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he s not just another member of Weirlind, he's one of the last of the warriors at a time when both houses are scouting for a player. Jack's performance on the soccer field has alerted the entire magical community to the fact that he's in Trinity. And until one of the houses is declared Jack's official sponsor, they'll stop at nothing to get Jack to fight for them.

Jack starts off as a seemingly normal kid with a seemingly normal romantic interest, but then he forgets to take his medicine and finds out that he is a warrior—and that the warrior stone given to him makes him a target for the Roses to fight for them. As he learns about his heritage and goes into training, Jack must avoid detection from the Roses… at least, long enough to find a way to turn the tables against them.

Jack is a hero. He starts as a naïve boy. Sure, he knows his role in a normal high school, but he is entirely out of place as a warrior. He is too kind to fight. However, he has no other choice than to embrace his heritage if he is to survive. Fortunately, he has support from an amazing cast of characters that I would want backing me in his situation: awesome friends, a wickedly brilliant aunt, a mysterious and powerful teacher, and a sweet girl (with a shocking secret).

The story is filled with action and suspense while not being overly done. Somehow, at the same time that he goes into training, Jack manages to continue living a normal life and to try and start a relationship with the girl he likes. There are close encounters with the Roses, and there are many plot twists. I never expected Jack to face whom he did in the arena when forced to fight, nor did I expect him to fight for whom he did in the end.

Chima is an amazing author. I have reread The Warrior Heir many times since it first came out, and I am excited to have had the opportunity to review this book. This is a favorite of mine. I definitely recommend this book for those of you who love magic, fantasy, and adventure.

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In Which I Stop By Lit Rambles

Monday, November 21, 2011
Remember earlier on when Kris had an interview at Literary Rambles? This time it's my turn. Do stop by!

What're you waiting for? Go, go, go! →

ps. I love Lit Rambles, and it's a blog totally worth following--just saying!

Review: Dancergirl By Carol M. Tanzman

4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: WiHi #1
Paperback: 248 Pages
Publication: November 15, 2011 by Harlequin Teen

The videos went viral...

EVER FEEL LIKE SOMEONE’S WATCHING YOU?

ME TOO.

BUT LATELY IT’S BEEN HAPPENING IN MY ROOM.

WHEN I’M ALONE.


A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I’m no longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl. And suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.

My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stalker isn’t content to just watch anymore.

Ali. dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.

dancergirl is a chilling story: because of the plot and the realness of the story. Today, the Internet is such a big part of our lives, and many people don’t think twice about posting videos of themselves online. Ali thrives on stardom and protests little before allowing Charlie to shoot more videos of her (after posting an initial one without her permission) to post on Zube, an online video site in the book.

There is enough dancing in the book that it ties the story together, but there isn’t so much technicality that readers will be daunted by it. In fact, readers will be able to relate to Ali whether or not they have ever danced in their lives. Tanzman makes it clear that dancing frees Ali and empowers her. When dancergirl videos start going viral, that is when Ali’s strength and determination will be tested.

Nobody thinks that it will happen to them. It isn’t until she recognizes the signs that she realizes that the dancergirl videos have brought her a stalker. Then Ali begins suspecting everyone, including her closest friends. Tanzman brings Ali’s emotions and fear to life--our greatest fears of going viral--in dancergirl, surprising me over and over again when various characters’ motivations were revealed.

I admire Ali’s strength and that of the friends that rise to her defense. Going up against a stalker is no easy feat, especially when you begin suspecting those close to you. While I did end up guessing the stalker before the end of the novel, I honestly didn’t know for sure until the very end. Tanzman is a talented author, and I will be looking forward to the second book in the WiHi series. dancergirl ended so well that I honestly have no idea what to expect!

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Imagine My Mailbox (14)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kris's Mailbox

(Click on cover image for book synopsis)


For Review

    

These books look downright amazing with their gorgeous covers and even more amazing synopses. There's no question as to how much I am looking forward to reading these books, especially since Harper Collins rarely disappoints me with the books that they publish!


    
Sisters of Glass looks like such a cute read. I rarely read fantasy stories nowadays, and I am really looking forward to reading this one! Dust Girl... I love historical fiction novels, and the idea of an American Fairy in the Dust Bowl is something new!

Gratitude Giveaway

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This is a Gratitude Giveaway for our followers. One lucky US/Canada winner will be winning a copy of Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett. There will be two lucky international winners: one will win an e-copy of The Kure by Jaye Frances, and one will receive an e-copy of The Burn by Annie Oldham!

About Geek Girl
Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

For more about Geek Girl, check out...


About The Kure

The story takes place in 1860’s Kentucky, when John Tyler, a young man in his early twenties, discovers he has contracted a ghastly affliction affecting a most sensitive part of his body. When the village doctor offers the conventional, and potentially disfiguring, treatment as the only cure, John tenaciously convinces the doctor to reveal an alternative remedy—a forbidden ritual contained within an ancient manuscript called The Kure.

Hidden for centuries, The Kure has been prohibited by law and denounced as an abomination by the church. And for good reason. Those who use its power must pay an enormous price, renouncing all things sacred and pure.

Although initially rejecting the vile and wicked rite, John realizes, too late, that the ritual is more than a faded promise scrawled on a page of crumbling paper. And as cure quickly becomes curse, the unholy text unleashes a dark power that drives him to consider the unthinkable—a depraved and evil act requiring the corruption of an innocent soul.

Ultimately, John must choose between his desperate need to arrest the plague that is destroying his body, and the virtue of the woman he loves, knowing the wrong decision could cost him his life.


About The Burn
The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That's what Terra's father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right.

She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. When she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, she has to decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.

To enter, fill out the form below!

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED
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Click here to check out the full list of blogs participating in this giveaway hop!

Dark YA Blogfest #3 - Music and Movie Fun

Music and Movie Fun


I am horribly uncreative when it comes to music. I LOVE music. I listen to it when I'm down, when I'm happy... whenever I need a little music. That's almost every day. However, I can't come up with a playlist! I rarely listen to music when I'm reading because I get so absorbed into a book that I forget everything else around me.

I refuse to cast a movie for a book too because I idealize the characters so much in my mind that I doubt could find any actors or actresses "good" enough for the role. Actually, if I really had to make a cast, I would go for unknown actors and actresses since I wouldn't want the audience comparing any of the cast to prior movies they'd participated in. That would ruin all the fun.

How about you? If you had to make a playlist or cast characters for a Dark YA book, what would you do?

Geek Girl Tour: Interview with Cindy C. Bennett

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Today, I am hosting both an author interview with Cindy C. Bennett and a character interview from Trevor (see post below for the character interview)!


Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

Thanks for dropping by, Cindy!


You mention in your "About Me" that one of your high school English teachers began class each day with a ten-minute writing assignment. Could you tell us more about them and how they nurtured your love of writing?

Each day when we came into class, he would have the topic written on the chalk board, hidden behind the pull-down projection screen. Once the bell rang, up went the screen and we began writing. I don’t remember any of the specific topics, but they were always random. Sometimes they’d be about literature, sometimes something personal, sometimes something that was in the news or a current event. Most people dreaded it—I could hardly wait for that screen to go up. It was probably the only class I was actually early to. Just 10 minutes of total creativity with no pressure, no grading on what you wrote or how good your grammar was, simply a place to be free with your writing. I knew I liked to write before that, but that taught me to love to write and to create.

Heart on a Chain and Geek Girl both involve girls who have been abused. How did you start writing about these topics and do you plan on continuing to write books like this, and do you foresee yourself writing books on other topics?
My mom always wants to know why I write about abused girls when I was far from one myself. (laughs) I think the main reason I gave them these horrible backgrounds is because personally I have an immense amount of admiration for anyone who has come from some kind of abuse, neglect, tragedy, whatever bad thing they’ve been given, and are able to rise above the situation and become these amazing people. I definitely like writing some kind of conflict into my character’s lives, because I believe that is how we grow. I also believe that how we act (or react) in those situations is the truest test of a person’s character. I would like to branch out and write on some different topics, in different genres, but I feel my strength lies in contemporary stories starring conflicted young adults.

You believed that Geek Girl would be easier to sell than Heart on a Chain and published it first instead. Why did you believe the YA market would buy into it more?
It was more a matter of which would be easier to market. It’s easier to describe a sarcastic Goth-girl who’s made a bet to turn a geek bad than to try to describe an abused, bullied girl who is just trying to get through each day, without much hope, who then has her “knight in shining armor” type guy show up. The subject matter of Heart on a Chain is much heavier and darker. Jen in Geek Girl has some definite issues she deals with, but overall her story is much more upbeat and has some humor in it. Two very different girls, both with harsh backgrounds, who have both gone a different way in how they deal with life, it just somehow seemed easier to me to try to sell Jen’s story.

What did you enjoy most about writing Geek Girl?
I loved writing Jen. I’m a fairly sarcastic person myself, so I had a lot of fun writing that side of her. My scenes of her and Trevor together were my favorite to write. They had absolutely nothing in common, so it was fun trying to help them find a middle ground, a place where they could be together without outside influences telling them that they shouldn’t be together no matter how much they wanted to be. I really disliked writing the whole section where they are apart. My instinct was to just shove them back together, but I knew they needed to find their way back organically for it to mean anything lasting for them.

Having experienced both, would you tell us the differences between being self-published and working with a publishing company?
There are definite advantages to both. Self-publishing gives me the freedom to choose and create the cover, to format the interior, and to set the price. I also don’t have to answer to anyone else as to what I choose to do with the book, where I sell it, how many I give away. Working with Cedar Fort has taken a lot of the pressure off, especially in certain marketing areas. I have an amazing marketing editor. Plus, if there are any mistakes in the interior, people will blame them and not me. (laughs) It’s also been nice to have the opportunity to have my book available in traditional bookstores, something a self-published author can’t do. I’ll be able to reach an audience I might not otherwise be able to reach, and be able to do book signings in places I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Plus, they created a fantastic cover for me that I love. There are a lot of haters of self-published books out there, who refuse to read anything not traditionally published, which seems odd to me. If a book is good, who cares how it was published? Hopefully some of them will read Geek Girl and realize I’m not completely untalented, and perhaps they’ll give the others a try.

What can readers expect from you in the future (you mention in your "About Me" that you're dipping a little into the paranormal genre)?
I’m nearly finished with my next book, Immortal Mine, which deals with—as the title suggests—an immortal character. No vamps or werewolves, but definitely outside of the type of writing I’m known for. Of course, at heart it is still a contemporary romance as you will probably almost always see from me, with (mostly) realistic characters.

I love the title Immortal Mine! It definitely suggests that there will be romance in there while telling us about the paranormal element! What are five interesting things about you that readers wouldn't guess?
I don’t know how interesting they are, but:

  1. I ride a Harley Davidson Fatboy. Not on the back, on the front. I would never have imagined myself as a biker when I was younger, but here I am not only riding, but loving it.
  2. I had scoliosis as a teen, and have a metal rod in my back the length of my spine. Makes for an interesting x-ray, anyway.
  3. I am a complete cat person. I own 0 cats, and 2 dogs. I married a man who is allergic to cats, and gave birth to two children who are allergic, so all my plans of becoming a crazy cat lady later in life are shot down.
  4. I believe every person in life, no matter your age, needs to have bosom buddies. I went several years without any close friends and I was miserable. I now have many close friends, and am truly certain that without them I would have long ago been insane. Everyone needs friends outside of family.
  5. I’m a complete computer geek. Everything I know about computers I taught myself. We didn’t have computers when I was a kid, and I didn’t even own a computer myself until I was probably 25 or so, and knew absolutely nothing about them, not even how to turn them on. I’m by no means professional now, but I have to say I know quite a bit. Remember the end of Napoleon Dynamite when Kip (my favorite character) sings his song, “I Love Technology”? That’s pretty much my personal anthem.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I want to thank you for letting the tour stop on your blog (see the character interview below). I also want to thank you for letting Trevor have a bit of a voice. He doesn’t get heard from other than from Jen’s POV, so he and I are both grateful for the opportunity to share a little of his side of the story!


Thanks for dropping by, Jen. It's been a pleasure talking to you and Trevor both!

Jen's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Cindy C Bennett was born and raised in beautiful Salt Lake City, growing up in the shadows of the majestic Rocky Mountains. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. She also has two sons. She volunteers her time working with teen girls between the ages of 12-18, all of whom she finds to be beautiful, fascinating creatures. When she’s not writing, reading or answering emails she can often times be found riding her Harley through the beautiful canyons near her home.

Geek Girl will be published by Cedar Fort on December 6, 2011. Look forward to it!


Related Posts
My Review of Geek Girl
Character Interview with Trevor

Character Interview: Trevor from Geek Girl

Geek Girl brings together a geek guy and a goth girl. Sure, geeks and goths are stereotypes, but this story is more than that. It breaks down social stereotypes to show that we all have a little bit of geek inside of us. Today, Trevor (geek guy) has come to Imaginary Reads to talk about his relationship with Jen (goth girl with a bit of geek in her) and a little about himself.


Welcome to Imaginary Reads, Trevor. We're excited to have you here with us today!

You and Jen come from entirely different crowds. What were your thoughts when Jen first approached you at the dance?
I thought, “Why in the world would Jennifer Jones want to dance with me?” But I thought it would be rude to say no. Then it was bizarre, like she was almost hitting on me. It confused me and honestly upset me a little because I thought she was doing it to make fun of me for her friends. It was definitely weird.

If you were so weirded out about her, why did you invite her to watch movies with your friends for the first time?
I’m not really sure. She’d just asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her, but I already had plans. It just seemed the right thing to see if she wanted to come with me instead, since she’d asked first. I really thought she’d say no. Even when she said yes, I didn’t really think she’d come.

What did you think about her before she approached you? In the days following the dance where she first made contact with you?
I didn’t really ever think much about her. I mean, her friends and mine don’t exactly hang out at the same places, you know? I knew who she was, but then I know who most everyone is that I go to school with is. After the dance, I kind of kept thinking of her because it was so weird to me for her to ask me to dance. And then she kept saying hi to me in the halls. I didn’t really know what she was up to, but I started to think maybe she really did kind of like me. I figured maybe it was the opposite of when girls go after the “bad boys”, like she wanted to see what it was like hanging with someone who was completely opposite of her. She made me think about her a lot, until it didn’t seem so strange to think of her as sort of a friend.

Once you got to know Jen better, what about her first caught your attention?
Her smile. When she genuinely smiled, it changed her whole appearance. She just kind of lit up. It’s kind of corny, I guess, but when she smiled it made me feel happy. Her hair was pretty cool, too, with the red stripes in it. And she was really funny and sarcastic, kind of like my dad.

When did you first know that you really liked Jen?
The first time she went to the senior center with me. I mean, most girls would never want to do that, they would think it was lame. But she came, and helped out, and never treated the people we were serving with anything but respect. Then afterwards, when we went to eat at the Italian place, and the waitress was so rude to her, she didn’t say anything, just gave her kind of a hard time when she ordered. I think that’s when I could see that underneath the hard exterior she wears, she was just a girl like anyone else—except maybe a little more honest. I mean, I know now she was just trying to win a bet by hanging out with me, but in everything else she was always honest and didn’t play games that some of the girls do. Plus, she really liked my car. That’s a definite bonus.

Speaking of the senior center, how did you first start volunteering with the elderly?
When I was twelve, my grandma lived at the senior center. I used to go over to visit her and play the piano for her. Pretty soon I just started helping out, and after she was gone, I just kept going until I became a regular volunteer.

You spend a lot of time singing and playing the piano at the senior center, and you sing a special song of your own making. When did you begin singing and writing your own music?
My mom claims I’ve been singing my whole life. I always liked to sing. In middle school I decided to try out for the choir, and I’ve been singing since. I started piano when I was pretty young, and I think I wrote my first piece of music when I was about 10 or so. It was really bad, but I liked the whole process, so I’ve been doing it since.

Thanks for dropping by, Trevor. I enjoyed talking to you, and I know readers will be happy to hear from you as the story is told entirely from Jen's perspective!

Related Posts
My Review of Geek Girl

Review: Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett

Monday, November 14, 2011
4 Stars: A Great Read
Paperback: 281 Pages
Publication: December 8, 2011 by Sweetwater

Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

Jen and Trevor are at opposite ends of the social spectrum. Jen is a rebellious outcast who dresses in dark, bold colors and wears a lot of makeup. Trevor is a geek who dresses proper (as in to the very top button) and watches sci-fi movies. You wouldn’t think that the two would get along, and they probably wouldn’t have. At least, not until Jen makes a bet to bring Trevor to the “dark side.” To do that, she needs to work her way into Trevor’s life, which means hanging out with the geeks.

Personality wise, Jen is much like all the other protagonists out there who rebel against society. She starts off seemingly self-assured and full of herself only to find the meaning to life. Nevertheless, I enjoyed watching Jen unsettle Trevor and unintentionally getting unsettled herself. She acts like she knows what she’s doing when deep inside, she’s a regular teenage girl who has locked her heart away out of fear of getting hurt again. The honest, good person that he is, Trevor opens Jen to another way of life—one where she learns how to care about people and to care about her future.

While it starts with a bet, Geek Girl is a sweet story about opening your heart to love and all the hardships that come with it. It is different from the usual contemporary read and filled with laughs, tears, and smiles.

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: Variant by Robison Wells

Thursday, November 10, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Variant #1
Hardback: 373 Pages
Publication: September 26, 2011 by Harper Teen

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.

You really can’t trust anyone in this book. As much as you want to trust people, you’re better off assuming that everyone is against you. In this brilliantly plotted novel, Robinson Wells brings to life the nightmare that most every child has of boarding school: it’s a prison where the students are lab rats. Only, it’s no ordinary prison, as you’ll soon learn. It is a prison in which everyone is against each other in a game of survival.

I would never want to be in Benson’s position, just saying. If I were Benson, I wouldn’t like any of the things I liked in the set up, but I can say what I like because I’ve never been there. I like how Wells set up the boarding house with its stark lack of teachers, its strange curriculum, and the prison environment. The imagery is bleak and vivid, but Benson’s wit and strength comes through it all. He applied for the school in the hopes of making a life for himself, but he finds himself in a horrifying game where he must play high stakes to survive.

I never knew where Wells and Benson would take me. No matter how much I guessed or hoped, something else happened, something I would never have concluded from prior events. If anything, the mystery grew thicker and the conclusion more indeterminable as I progressed through the book. And you know what the worst of it is? We have to wait for the sequel to find out more.

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

2 Stars: An Okay Read
Series: The Clann #1
Paperback: 416 Pages
Publication: October 25, 2011 by Harlequin Teen

Savannah Colbert has never known why she's so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It's as if he's a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she's destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can't stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

In a way, Crave reminds me of Tris and Izzie. While the two books are their own separate entities, both involve female heroines who are just coming into their abilities, abilities that have been hidden from them for most (in the case of Izzie), if not all (in the case of Savannah), their lives. Both have tantalizing covers, and both were a little disappointing to me.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Savannah and Tristan. I enjoyed looking through both of their viewpoints, as it allowed me to view them without the biased filter of the other. However, the transition from viewpoint to viewpoint wasn’t always smooth and often occurred multiple times in one chapter. Overall, it seemed more as though Savannah and Tristian were narrating the events and their reactions to their surroundings.

I had a hard time relating to the characters. Savannah bought into her heritage a little too easily, doubting her family for maybe a minute. She believes that everyone is against her, something I can sort of understand, but came out as rebellious. I think it’s either because not enough time is spent exploring her thoughts and emotions, or because her thoughts and emotions come off as childish. As for Tristan, he comes off as too chivalrous at times and too immature at others. He wants to protect Savannah, yet he ignores her for a full seven years before suddenly deciding to ignore the Clann rules to be with her without considering her feelings. She pushes him away repeatedly, yet he continues to push forward and convinces her to give in and rebel against her parents, who just might be trying to protect her from getting hurt.

In a manner of speaking, I did enjoy reading Crave; however, it’s just that: a book that I enjoyed, but which didn’t have many memorable moments for me. The most unique parts were the supernatural creatures. I do like Darnell’s interpretation of witches and vampires. However, the plot didn’t seem to have much depth to me, and the story wasn’t always running picture clear to me.

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An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Review: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Caster Chronicles #3
Hardback: 518 Pages
Publication: October 18, 2011 by Little, Brown & Company

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl continue to amaze and confound me with the Caster Chronicles. Things haven’t been right in Gatlin since, well, book one, and I still don’t know how conflict will be resolved and even then, there will be a happy ending at all. Book Three is the most riveting book yet in the Caster Chronicles. Garcia and Stohl had me devouring this book late at night, and I confess that I’ll be rereading this book just to make sure I didn’t miss anything in my haste to finish it.

As the title indicates, chaos reigns. This is a big book filled with many subplots, plot twists, and deep meanings just waiting to surface. Our friends from the past two books have grown into their roles beautifully. Time, tragedy, and history have molded them. They understand their positions and the threats that they must face. Ethan’s voice has matured so much, and the characters’ emotions and relationships with one another are definitely the strongest points to the story (in addition to the tension-ridden plot).

I want so badly for Ethan and the others to find a way to save the world and his doomed relationship with Lena, but I just don’t know the answers. Garcia and Stohl are certainly keeping them well hidden from us. All I can do is follow along and hope that they will give the ending that the characters deserve in a manner that doesn’t disappoint. (And I have faith that they will do whatever necessary to end the series in such a manner… even if there really is no happy ending after all.)

As the synopsis indicates and I have hinted, the ending isn’t going to be optimal, not at all. It is going to have your heart crying, and your book-loving soul anticipating the fourth installment. The Caster Chronicles is definitely a series that will continue to attract the more mature readers who want to see more depth to a plot.

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A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes