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Imagine This: If Humans were the Minority

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Imagine This is a feature hosted by Austin at Imaginary Reads. Every Saturday, Austin comes up with a question that asks readers to explore a book and come up with an outcome using the power of imagination.

This week's question:
If humans were the minority in the world and supernatural creatures were the majority, what do you think the humans would do?

If the supernatural creatures were aggressive, I imagine that the humans would gather together and hide in a secret society like the Varden in the Inheritance series. Often, in fantasy novels, there are species that choose to live a hidden existence, like fairies, which is probably what the humans would try to do.

Freedom to Read Giveaway

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Open internationally

Derek Kent, the mind behind Derek the Ghost, has offered copies of his middle-grade novel Scary School. One international winner will receive an ebook copy, and one U.S. winner will receive a paperback copy.

Book Synopsis
You think your school's scary?

Get a load of these teachers:

"Ms. Fang," an 850-year-old vampire
"Dr. Dragonbreath," who just might eat you before recess
"Mr. Snakeskin"--science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
"Mrs. T"--break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry "Tyrannosaurus rex"


Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose
The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch


The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost.

Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends--including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf--and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky.

Open internationally
Ends July 6th at 12:01 AM
To enter, fill out the form below. Do not include your email in the comments section.

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Kris is Off!

Kris is leaving for the U.K. tomorrow, which means two things.

  1. I'll be reading, but mostly textbooks now. Study Abroad has a purpose other than exposing one to the cultural awesomeness of another country.
  2. I won't be posting as much. Kris still has a lot of books to catch up on reviewing, but they'll have to wait. Hopefully, she'll be able to post at least one a week. She'll be ecstatic to post two. It means she has enough willpower to tear herself away from her textbooks and British culture (most notably the hot British accent) long enough to post a review for your viewing pleasure. 
  3. I should have said three things. Everyone I've talked to (the bank, the store...) have asked me if I'm going to the Olympics. Kris might or might not go. Honestly (don't hate me!), this is my first time going to England, so I'm mostly interested in the culture (the whole reason I decided to go in the first place!). What can I say but that I'm a literature bug, species bookworm.

I do have a quite a few author interviews scheduled for July, so there should be posts at least once or twice a week. Hikari has said that she'll be back for a bit to review; hopefully, you'll be seeing some of her. I have someone back home to take pictures of bookish awesomeness that arrive in the mail, which means IMM won't disappear entirely. I won't be able to respond to comments as much or even comment on blogs I follow, though I'll be reading. This also means that email will be a better way to contact me than Twitter for the month of July.

If you have any advice on dress, bookish events, books I should take a look at that won't be published in the U.S. for a while, places to visit, and the like, please let me know! I'd appreciate it! I'll take photos of interesting things and post them when I have the time.

Review - Don't You Wish

Don't You Wish
by Roxanne St. Claire

Publication: July 10, 2012
Pages: 368
Author: website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Younger Readers
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.

In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.

But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.

So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?

The choice isn't as simple as you think.

At first glance, this is the typical story where the outcast girl is not satisfied with her life and wants to be one of the popular girls. Then something happens, and she finds herself on the other end of the spectrum--and then wishing for her old life back. And it is. What made this worthwhile is in the way the story is told.

Annie is a real, relatable character. I didn't attend a school like hers, but it wasn't necessary to understand her feelings of wanting to belong, of finding love, and of having everything. If my mom suddenly found herself dissatisfied with our lifestyle, I would have wanted to upgrade too. And if I then found myself living the "dream" life, I would go with the flow and try out things that I never did before.

Which is what Annie does. At first it's exciting, being the girl that everyone wants to be, but as Annie learns more about Ayla Monroe, the less sure she is that she wants Ayla's life. Although she's rich and gorgeous in Ayla's life, she still remembers being a nobody. Plus, there is cute, sweet Charlie who's the lowest on the social ladder because he used to live in a box (as the rumors say). Note: He's the guy I want for my soulmate.

My heart is still fluttering from the ending. It is so cute! I'd talk about how much I love it, but that involve giving spoilers--which I can't do because it would ruin the surprise. If you're open to a cute, fun contemporary read with a sci-fi/fantasy twist with the parallel universe aspect, I recommend reading Don't You Wish!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Character Interview - Luke + Giveaway

Today, Alecia is here to talk about a very special guy from her debut novel The Queen of Kentucky, and Luke himself is making a guest appearance! Don't tell him I said this, but I adore the guy. He's sweet and reliable and comfortable with himself in spite of all the problems going on around him.

Book synopsis
Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would preferred to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer's daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new "sophisticated" clothes and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids table. She's on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door Luke says he misses "plain old Ricki Jo."

Caught between being a country girl and wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn't care what people think and who wouldn't let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident out on Luke's farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.

Mini Interview
Alecia Whitaker

Thanks for interviewing with us today, Alecia! What do you admire most about Luke?
I admire that he is settled in his skin. That is a hard thing to do, but every now and then you come across a person that just seems at ease with themselves. He's not interested in changing himself, he's interested in changing his environment. So where Ricki Jo wants to change to be like the people she's around, Luke wants to change the people he's around (i.e. his mom and dad).

I agree. I wouldn't say that I have a spontaneous personality (though on occasion I decide to do something on the spur of the moment), but I can't say that I'm as at home with myself as Luke. What is your favorite scene with Luke and Ricki Jo?
The last scene. I love that scene and I don't want to give anything away, but I really love that scene.

I adore that scene as well. If you were to visit Luke's farm, what would you do first?
Skip rocks at the creek. I love that he and Ricki Jo meet up there a lot and find it easy to get lost in my thoughts on the bank of a creek.

Character Interview

To start, would you tell readers about yourself and your interests?
I think I'm just a regular guy. I like hanging out with my older brothers and playing ball out back. And I like FFA, but otherwise, I'm not really into school activities, you know? I like country music and sports and just, you know, regular guy stuff.

I love country music too. We should talk artists sometime. What is your first memory with Ricki Jo?
Ummm... I guess the first day of kindergarten. I know we'd played together before and stuff, cause our moms are best friends, but I really liked that first day of school. When I got on the bus, my brothers shoved their way to the back but I was nervous cause I didn't know anybody. But Ricki Jo waved and scooted over against the window. She had pigtails and she'd saved me a seat.

That's a nice childhood memory. I have a similar one myself. My parents had some friends with children my age, but I never really got to know them until preschool when one of the girls walked up to me at the playground and asked if she could play on the ropes with me. When did you first realize you were in love with her?
In love with her? I never said... I don't know. Did she tell you I said that?

She tells me everything. I'm her imaginary best friend from forever! *fingers crossed behind  back* What were your feelings when you got sent to the hospital and when Ricki Jo snuck in to visit you?
I felt relief. A lot of people kept coming in and out of that room, doctors and nurses mainly, but also a social worker and policemen and my momma crying nonstop. It was a relief to see Ricki Jo, and to tell you the truth, I didn't know if she'd come at all. I was surprised to see her after visiting hours, but then again, that's Ricki Jo for you!

That is! And an amazing girl like her deserves something special. Is there something special you'd like to do with Ricki Jo on Valentine's Day?
I don't know. I'm not some smooth Don Juan guy. We'll probably go to the school dance or something, cause she loves that stuff. And I'll get her flowers, probably bring 'em to school so she can show her friends. She loves that stuff, too.

That's sweet of her. I'm sure she'll love that! What are your plans for the future?
Get through high school. Maybe go to UK or Eastern, but it's hard to think about college when life's messed up right now with my mom and dad and the divorce and everything. I might just go wherever Ricki Jo goes, although knowing her, we'll end up on the moon.

That sounds sweet. You two are going to have a lot of fun. Thanks for interviewing!

About the author
Bio and photo from author site
Alecia Whitaker grew up with a big imagination on a small farm in Kentucky, which was worlds away from where she currently resides in fast-paced New York City. She knows more about cows, tobacco, frog gigging, and carpentry than the average girl, and she applies the work ethic and common sense she learned from her southern upbringing to the way she now navigates her career and family life in the big city.

Now living in New York City with her husband and son, she is amused at how often her big imagination takes her back to a simpler life in Kentucky.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

Little Brown has  provided a copy of The Queen of Kentrucky to one lucky U.S. winner! The giveaway is open through July 19th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview. Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of The Queen of Kentucky. Then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

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Review - So Close to You

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
So Close to You
by Rachel Carter

Publication: July 10, 2012
Pages: 313
Author: WebsiteFacebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harper Teen
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices--and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

My favorite part of the novel was definitely the time travel aspect. Because of the time travel, I got to meet Lydia's relatives and get to know life as it was back in 1944.  Mary was definitely my favorite. She's such a sweet, bubbly girl. The mood was always light and playful when she was around. I also liked Dean and his protectiveness over his family. As much as I like all of these characters, my favorite still as to be Peter. As a boy, he is adorable and sensitive. As a older man in the present, he has quirks, but he shows the same dedication and passion that Lydia has. I want him for my [insert relation to Lydia].

As a journalist in the making, Lydia is stubborn and unrelenting in her pursuit of the truth. If a normally sealed door opened right in front of me, I don't know if I'd have the courage to enter. I'd be afraid of never coming out alive. So is Lydia; however, she enters, spurred by her passion for pursuing the story. That's dedication, and her dedication to the truth and to protecting her family is what drives the plot. That said, she can be really obstinate. Despite Wes's concern over how her actions may impact the future, she brushes his concern aside, determined to change history no matter the price.

There is plenty of romance in this book. Amidst the confusion of entering a time machine and getting to know family she'd never met, Lydia grows closer to the mysterious Wes, who knows what is going on but refuses to tell Lydia anything except that she needs to go back to the present. It may seem a bit overdone, as Lydia is usually thinking about Wes when she isn't worried about finding out what happens to her great-grandfather. However, it does help ease the tension in the book. Wes is that dark, alluring boy that we know isn't good for us, being a potential danger. He's a soldier, he knows how to fight, and he's reserved. He doesn't know how to express his feelings well, which leads to misunderstandings that result in cute confessions. I enjoyed seeing his barriers melt in front of Lydia.

The consequences of reckless time travel shows itself at the end of the book. While one mystery has been solved, more questions arrive with the conclusion of Rachel Carter's debut novel. Despite being a sci-fi mystery at its core, So Close to You also has historical elements and a good amount of romance. I recommend this to readers who enjoy a good romance and science ficion with a historical twist. And I will definitely be on the lookout for book two.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Review - Headache

Headache (Bellyache #2)
by Crystal Marcos

Publication: March 16, 2012
Pages: 134
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harper Teen
Buy it: AmazonB&N | Book Depository
The magical adventure continues in the spine-tingling fantasy-adventure, HEADACHE: The Hair-Raising Sequel to BELLYACHE! Crystal Marcos delivers another whimsically entertaining escapade for ages seven and up. Readers will delight in more sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, non-stop action adventures of Peter and his best friend, Lina.

When Peter Fisher sets out for school one morning, he has no idea that trouble is stirring in his hometown. With the unexpected arrival of his new Candonite friends from Maple Town, Peter and Lina have extra help saving their beloved town and loved ones from the clutches of the one villain they had hoped they would never see again. Humorous and thought provoking, this unforgettably entertaining story teaches a valuable lesson about standing up and facing one’s fears.

I adored Bellyache and was delighted when Crystal Marcos offered to send me a copy of Headache, book two, for review when it came out. With the craziness of finals and then getting sick twice in the same month, I wasn't able to get to Headache until now (sad face).

I cannot express enough how delightful the Bellyache books are. From the first book, Peter and Lina captured my heart with their brave souls and willingness to go into the heart of danger and evil in order to save their Candonite friends. This time around, the story takes place on Earth, where Peter and Lina have returned, their Candonite friends with them... and the evil Peblars too. Now, Angela and Joe (the Candonites) must work with Peter and Lina to send the Peblars back to their world, or there will be no more sweets in town and the Peblars will enslave Peter and Lina in revenge.

As I mentioned in my last review, the Bellyache books are perfect for young children, to be read alone or as a family. This book is an even better read for a family though because Peter and Lina's family are there to support the two of them in their joint effort to thwart the evil Peblars' plans. We also learn more about Peter's suspicions from book one that his Nana has also been to Maple Town, and we see another side to various adults from Peter's grandparents to old Mr. Rupert.

Crystal Marcos does a spectacular job of introducing good principles in young children in a fun and entertaining way. In book one, we learned about friendship and the consequences of gluttony. In book we, we learn how to face our fears. I am looking forward to seeing what Marcos will give us next in book three, the conclusion to the Bellyache series!

P.S. For Christmas, I would like Papa's sweet shop. It looks so delicious and fun!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Review: Once by Anna Carey

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Once (Eve #2)
by Anna Carey

Publication: July 3, 2012
Pages: 320
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harper Collins
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

Eve's growth since leaving the school is apparent. More and more, she's taking charge of her life. Some of her decisions are questionable; however, she isn't about to let the City take over her life, which I respect. I can't say very much without spoiling the plot twist and who Eve is (so this'll be a short review), but she's going to get entangled in City politics because of the King's interest in her. Eve and Caleb will be pushed together and apart, and I have no idea what's going to happen to them now.

The romance plays a large role in the novel. After finding Caleb in the City, Eve meets with him many times despite the dangers, and their relationship and feelings for each other grow stronger. I love Caleb and was delighted to see his return in addition to some of Eve's girl friends from book one. Still, too much of a good thing can overpower everything else. Where I was interested in learning more about City politics and the world it has become, I feel as though the novel was more focused on whether or not Eve would find a way to be together with Caleb or be forced into another arrangement.

That said, the the writing is as beautiful, vivid, and haunting as in book one, and the emotions powerful. By the thirty-first chapter, I was tearing up over Eve's situation and sacrifice. Much of the plotting done in Once is more in preparation for events to come. I love the world that Anna Carey has built in the Eve trilogy and cannot wait to see what will hapen in Rise.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Author Interview - Derek Kent

Today, I'm interviewing with Derek Kent, the mind behind Derek the Ghost of the middle-grade fiction Scary School series. Monsters on the March, book two, comes out today.

About Scary School

You think your school's scary?

Get a load of these teachers:

"Ms. Fang," an 850-year-old vampire
"Dr. Dragonbreath," who just might eat you before recess
"Mr. Snakeskin"--science class is so much more fun when it's taught by someone who's half zombie
"Mrs. T"--break the rules and spend your detention with a hungry "Tyrannosaurus rex"


Gargoyles, goblins, and Frankenstein's monster on the loose
The world's most frighteningly delicious school lunch


The narrator's an eleven-year-old ghost.

Join Charles "New Kid" Nukid as he makes some very Scary friends--including Petunia, Johnny, and Peter the Wolf--and figures out that Scary School can be just as funny as it is spooky.

Scary School has some scary teachers. Did you have any one near as scary as Derek's teachers?
Yes, I definitely had some pretty scary teachers in my day. One time I had a teacher who was a former female sergeant in the army and she definitely ran the class like we were a military unit. Very strict! But mostly had a lot of really great and encouraging teachers, many of whom inspire the great teachers at Scary School. I even dedicated Book 1 to them!

If your teachers were like the ones in book one, you were one lucky kid. When did you decide to write middle grade fiction?
After reading the first three books of Harry Potter I knew that's exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to create magical, unique worlds just like she did where the only limit is the author's imagination.

You've certainly done that with the world of Scary School! What inspired you to write the story?
The first novel I had written was originally called SCARY SCHOOL: BOOK 1 - MY HOMEWORK ATE MY DOG! - it's a middle-grade fantasy series very similar to Harry Potter. The only problem was, it didn't have a whole lot to do with a "scary school". I just thought of that title and wanted to use it before someone else did. So my editor at HarperCollins read the book, and almost acquired it, but in the end, they ended up passing on it, but gave me the recommendation to write a book series called SCARY SCHOOL that was lighter, funnier, and more school-centric. I took their advice, which became the Scary School series we know today. The other book ended up becoming Rudy and Beast: Book 1 - My Homework Ate My Dog! which you can get exclusively through my website.

I adore the cover to Scary School. One look at it, and I knew that it would be a book that I loved--and it is. How do you feel it represents the feel for the book?
Yes. The illustrator is Scott Fischer, who is one of the best illustrators and artists alive. You can see more of his stuff at Scott is fantastic at bringing all the characters and places to life more vividly and in greater detail than I could ever do. I love Ramon the Zombie Kid on the cover... that captures the scary aspects of the book, but with his ear and hand flying off, that also gets across the book's humor. Plus I love Petunia and her expression down at the bottom. Scott captured her look and attitude perfectly.

He sure did. Scary School is a keeper as far as both covers and stories go. What was it like writing from the point of view of an eleven-year-old ghost?
It's great because it keeps me firmly grounded in an 11-year-old's voice, which helps me to connect with my audience, who are all around that age.

Plus, younger narrators often relate to older readers like myself. The characters of Scary School captured my heart. What did you enjoy most writing Scary School?
I had to change schools when I was 11 years old after being with the same group of kids my whole life. I had a really hard time adjusting, so both books of Scary School and Rudy and the Beast deal with kids starting a new school and figuring out how make new friends. I enjoy writing about problems like this. Experiences that every kid has to go through at some point in their life, but told against the backdrop of a fantastical or supernatural story that kids love.

Now, I don't plan on doing this anytime soon, but just in case... Any advice for a human entering the Ghoul Games?
Try your best to make friends with your opponent and maybe they won't eat you if you lose!

I'll be sure to keep that in mind! Scary School has an assortment of bizzare creatures. If you got to be a "monster" for a day, what would you be?
Definitely a bearodactyl. What's a bearodactyl? You'll have to read Book 2 of Scary School that comes out on June 26 to find out!

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just that I hope everyone will all check out Scary School and have a great time reading it. I also created a really fun website for it. You can tour the school. Meet the students and faculty. And there's also lots of fun easter eggs. If you beat the video game on the website, you will win the weirdest trophy ever. And after you finish Book 1, you'll have to go back to the website in order to unlock the secret last chapter that will lead you straight into Book 2!

About Derek the Ghost
Derek is an eleven-year-old ghost who haunts the classrooms and hallways of Scary School, writing down all the spine-tingling often hilarious things that go on there. Despite his ghostly state, Derek still enjoys reading comic books and hopes to one day become a master ninja. If that doesn’t work out, he will continue to share the fun of this very special, very secret school, so all kids can experience the scariest school on earth. Derek the Ghost communicates through the first-time ghost whisperer Derek Taylor Kent, who is a writer and performer in Los Angeles, California.
Author website | Facebook | Twitter

Be sure to return this Friday (June 29th) for the chance to win a copy of Scary School #1. Derek will be giving away an ebook copy for an international winner and a paperback copy for a US winner!

Review - Team Human

Monday, June 25, 2012
Team Human
by Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan

Publication: July 3, 2012
Pages: 344
Justine: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Sarah: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
Publisher: Harper Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository
Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

I'm in love this book. I do love a book that pokes fun at something with good humor just as much as I love a nice, dark paranormal read where the characters must protect the world and themselves from something big, bad, and terrible. From the first pages, the humor is apparent in this book. You know there's going to be humor and fun when you recognize a vampire in the first chapter because its walking in broad daylight in a Hazmat suit. This novel is a parody of all things vampire and team-related. There are the vampire groupies who practically worship them, and there are the vampire haters who think its sacriligeous and downright idiotic to risk your life for immortality. In short, vampires are trending in New Whitby with near equal supporters and haters. Mel falls near the middle, being chill with vampires until they get close to her and her friends.

Mel captured my heart from the beginning. She's pushy and opinionated, set in her opinions, and judgmental. She takes charge of situations and always tries to do right by her friends. Despite claiming that Francis, the vampire Cathy falls in love with, is racist against her for being Chinese and Ty for being African-American, she is discriminating against Francis for being a vampire. Yeah, not the best way to endear yourself to someone. What makes Mel so real and endearing is that she acts the way she does because she wants to protect her friends. Because she is so strong, however, we have to witness her break down at times and learn to be more flexible, or she'll lose what she's trying to protect.

The world building is fabulous. At first, the vampires seem distant and aloof because of Mel's prejudiced views, but as she learns more about the vampires, and we with her, they become more humanized despite their forever poker faces. I enjoyed learning more about vampires, their relation to zombies, and how their world has been co-existing with ours for quite some time. There is romance--it's funny and over the top, the kind I could totally see happening in a manga--but it doesn't overtake the plot. It's a side thing that happens along the way and actually contributes to its development.

There is also great diversity in this book. Groups include skin color, sexuality, and vampirism. The diversity is far from the focus of the novel, excluding vamp prejudice--something impossible given how one of Mel's two main missions in the book is to separate Francis from her best friend. (The other mission being to find out the truth behind the disappearance of Anna's father.)

Team Human is about the grey space between the black and white. Each character has his or her own story to tell in relation to the team they play. This is a parody of vampires, but it is also about how one doesn't have to be strictly one team or the other. As Mel learns, it's perfectly fine (and recommended) to follow your own path, but be understanding of others' thoughts and desires. This isn't a book for everyone, but if you appreciate good humor, poking fun at vampires in good fun, and diversity, I'd recommend picking up this book.

Note: One of the most fun parts of this novel, besides Mel's overabundance of sarcasm and humor, was reading the title of the chapter and guessing how it relates to the chapter.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

In Need of Imaginary Friend... in other words... Awesome Person

Sunday, June 24, 2012
I need help. Not for the occasional review. An actual blog author who can post at least once a week.


What I'm looking for...

Blogger Experience
It's hard to teach someone how to use Blogger through a computer, so you'll need some Blogger experience or be quick at figuring things out. (Nobody taught me how to use Blogger, and I'm no techie!) I also need for you to follow my format for posts because I'm OCD like that.

Honest Reviews
Tell readers what you liked and what you didn't like about a book. Talk about characters, setting, plot... whatever stood out to you. Fangirl a little if you must, but remember to maintain the integrity of your review. I actually go back and edit out a lot of my fangirling and sarcasm to keep some objectivity in my reviews. The same goes for books you didn't like.

I'm not a big fan of the "I'll only post glowing reviews principle." This blog is here to let people know what I think about books. If you think a little like me, then reading about my honest opinion of a book will help you decide whether or not to read it. If you didn't like a book, then tell readers, but remember to be nice about it. Don't say, "Kris did a horrible job with the characters. I couldn't relate to them at all." That's attacking the author. Instead, you could write, "Because of this and that, I found it hard to relate to the characters," or, "I couldn't relate to the characters. They...."

I'm not asking you to write exactly like me, but I would like for you to hold to the same principles. If you haven't already been following my reviews for long, then it'll help to look over my past reviews.

A Good Match
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not looking for my replica. Our Goodreads shelf should be somewhat similar in the kinds of books we read. I lean towards YA fantasy, contemporary, and dystopian, but I am always open to new genres and middle-grade fiction. I love good humor in a book just as much as a one that sends chills down my spine. Check out my reads on Goodreads and my favorite books. If you don't like a fair amount of what I like, then we might not be a good match.

That said, I would like some diversity, so let's try not to post too many reviews on the same book unless there's something else to add!

Reliability and Dedication
I need to be able to trust you to post on your own and to get things done when I can't. Remember to post a review at least once a week, and if you can't, then ask yourself what else you can do. Is there a favorite book of yours that you'd like to discuss, or did you go to a book event recently and would like to post about it? I'm not always readily able to answer emails, though I spend a fair amount on the computer as a blogger and college student, so I need you to be able to make decisions by yourself.

Note - the only meme I regularly participate in is IMM and you're more than welcome to add your own books to there. I also sometimes participate in Follow Friday. If you don't see my post up, you're welcome to post yourself.

I'm up for sending you some books I get for review if you're interested and willing to pay for shipping. Mostly, I'm leaving things up to you for your post dates. Review what you'd like. If you love an author to death, feel free to to see the author is up for an interview.

Hang Around the Blogosphere
No, we're not going to comment on other blogs just to steal their followers, so get that thought out of your head! But still. Don't just hang around Imaginary Reads. Go out there and comment on other blogs and chat to other Bloggers. This is how we show everyone that we're not pretentious bigots but actually care--and, on a more reasonable level, keep up on what's going on. We can't cover everything here, but we can at least stay in the loop. I read ten to fifteen blogs a day at minimum and try to leave a comment (aka. when I have something meaningful to say). There are a lot of amazing book bloggers out there who deserve some attention!

Take Care of My Baby!
Imaginary Reads is my baby, so I want to have confidence leaving it in your hands.

If you're interested in blogging for Imaginary Reads, please send an email to imaginaryreads {at}gmail{.}com with the following information in the body of the email. Positions opened until I post on the blog about my new imaginary friends, aka people of awesomeness.

Blog link (if you have one):
Goodreads link (if you have one, also friend me if you haven't already!):
Two sample reviews:
Why you want to join:
Why you think you're a good match:

*Last two are a get to know you thing. Don't overthink it. Be honest and, most importantly, be yourself!

The Rule of Reviews

  • Honesty
  • Some objectivity
  • Not too lengthy, but also not too short. I try for at least three paragraphs -- the intro, the heart of the review, and concluding thoughts. 
  • Readers should be able to tell from your review whether it's one they should check out or not.
  • Again, read my past reviews for an example. You don't have to be like me (I like you the way you are!), but I'd like for you to hold to the same principles.
  • By the way, this would be a bad review because I've rambled so much. I shouldn't be covering on key point of a novel over the course of 2+ paragraphs!

Thanks to everyone who's been following Imaginary Reads all this time. You rule. Without you, there would be no blog, or there would be but it wouldn't be that awesome. You're the reason Imaginary Reads is where it is today and the reason I keep blogging!

Imagine My Mailbox (24)

Kris's Mailbox

For Review

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
The synopsis is haunting, and chills ran down my body when I read it. I love the idea of hybrids, and I love the cover. Need I say more?

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan
I knew I was going to like this one when I saw the words "team human." That's the team I'd choose, as much as I love a good paranormal romance.So I knew going in that Mel and I would share some views. Plus, the humor!
My review will be going live tomorrow.

Glass Heart by Amy Garvey
I was actually cool with Cold Kiss being a single and didn't know until a couple months ago that there was going to be a sequel. This book was in the package Harper Collins sent me. I like Amy Garvey's writing, so I'll be checking it out. This book is more paranormal-y than book one with Wren experimenting with her abilities.

Over You by Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
When a novel is called hilarious, and the topic is interesting, I'm going to want to read it. I love good humor in a book just as much as I like a haunting voice. This looks so, so good, and the cover is adorable. (Tangent: Next time, I ought to take the picture, so you can see the individual covers. I also loved the covers for What's Left of Me and Erasing Time.)

Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
Romantic thriller? A futuristic setting? Count me in.
And a guy named Echo? That's hot.

Diverse Energies by 11 speculative fiction authors
Requested off Netgalley as soon as I saw the names Paolo Bacigalupi and Ursula Le Guin.

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
LOVE Shannon Hale. Period.

Thanks to HarperTeen, Thomas Nelson, Lee & Low Books, and Bloomsbury Children's Books for these wonderful titles.

How about you?
What books have you gotten recently? Leave a link to your IMM, and I'll drop by!

Kris Writes: The Origin

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Before I was a book blogger, I was a writer. Before I was a writer, I was a reader.

My origins in the blogging world are actually as a writer. It was back in the day (2010. I know. I'm so old. Sarcasm intended) when Harper Collins was still running Inkpop and I hadn't yet started stalking the "New in YA fiction!" shelves. I wasn't getting into the whole paper-and-ink journal deal, being so used to typing reports and the like for classes that my handwriting had deteriorated and was at a speed that rivaled Slowpoke's. It was a pretty sad blog. No really. I had no idea what to blog about and didn't know much about finding author's blogs. It was through pure coincidence that I then stumbled into the book blogging world. I was enchanted. Book reviewing took priority on my blog, and I wasn't sure if I wanted that or not. After a long debate, Kris Reads was born as a companion blog to Kris Writes. (They're twins!). A little after that, the name changed to Imaginary Reads, the blog you see today.

(If you hadn't noticed, I was being punny with the title: Imaginary. Reads. Imaginary reads. We imagine reads. We read, and our imagination takes us places.

I like playing with words, though I've been holding back in my reviews to keep them honest and as unbiased as possible, as much as I want to fangirl over one book or yell in outrage over something in another book. My reviews would be double, triple, quadruple, their lengths if I talked about every little details and start analyzing things. And they'd be spoiler-y. All these are a no-no.)

Looking back at my writing from my WIPs to my writing blog to my old reviews here at Imaginary Reads, I can see that I've come a bit. It's only been around fourteen months since I started book blogging, a little more since my first blog, but I've made improvements. And I really appreciate all of you who follow Imaginary Reads and make the whole blogging business so worthwhile.

So why, Kris, are you rambling like so? Because I ran a tangent into memory line (true fact) while making my intro into another topic. For the past year and a half-ish, I've taken a hiatus from writing to dedicate more time into book blogging. I love the book blogging world, and it's a great place--THE place--to find new reads. School was also taking priority over writing. Recently, however, friends and family have been telling me that I should write. After reading a short story that I wrote for my fiction writing class, a friend asked for more. With the encouragement I've been receiving, I've decided to begin working on my manuscripts again.

Today, I took a break from reading and finished designing my new writing blog. Symbolic for a new start, yes, but also because I would feel really weird posting on a writing blog under the name: Kris (Imaginary Reads). And, two, because my writing name is different from my book blogging name (the difference of two letters). If you were following me before, I'd love if you'd follow my new writing/personal blog. If you found me through Imaginary Reads and would be interested in hearing more from and about me, I'd also love to have you at Kristy Writes!

Review - Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily
by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Publication: July 3, 2012
Pages: 292
Author: Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harper Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Jodi Lynn Anderson skillfully weaves fantasy into reality in a Neverland that exists in our world. From the first pages, I was entranced by the broken imagery and haunting tone. Behind Tiger Lily's stiff exterior lies a girl's heart, and it is a heart that has suffered heartbreak, betrayal, and tragedy, and it is one that has inflicted the same pain in turn. Neverland may be an immortal place, but it is no paradise. It is a dark place where mermaids eat human flesh and some characters are half-crazed. It is all too easy to fixate your heart on something (someone) and develop an obsession in this world filled with many complex characters and broken souls.

A unique element to the story is that Tinker Bell is the narrator, a character whom I ended up loving just as much, if not more, than Tiger Lily. Tink is well-known for her obsession with Peter Pan, and I'm glad that this story gives both character a chance to be further developed. Tink may be envious of Peter's affections, but she doesn't let her envy swallow her good intentions. Being the observer for the most part, Tink is a reliable narrator, and it is through her that we learn important plot details and observations that no one else could have given us. My heart went out for her, the little fairy who fell in love with a human boy, and for the girl that the fairy tries to protect.

Tiger Lily is an oddity who has never really fit into her village, for she is different from the other girls. She is fearless and doesn't know how to open her heart. She is at the stage where thinks that she can live without love, without someone who accepts her and understands her, but she in truth needs that someone. For this reason, Tiger Lily is someone with whom every girl, and even guys, can relate. And we understand why she finds Peter and his life so desirable. Despite being broken in his own way, he is free unlike her, bound as she is to her village, and it is through their shared broken-ness and desire for recognition that they bond together. Not the healthiest way to start a relationship, but so very real and understandable.

Tiger Lily is a story of youth, first love, and heartbreak; a story about opening your heart to pain and loss, a story with magic and adventure. It is a story about going through the awkward phases of life when you don't know who you are or what you want to be, and it is about growing up. This story will forever have a niche on my bookshelf. One day, I want to share it with my children, after they have had the chance to revel in the magic of fairy tales with happily ever after's written at the end, once they have grown up a bit and are ready to face the yearning and heartbreak behind this particular fairy tale.

I recommend these to readers looking for a darker more mature classic retelling, a beautiful and haunting voice in YA lit, and a poignant coming-of-age story.

** I hadn't read the original Peter Pan prior to reading Tiger Lily, but I hear this story stays true to it.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Author Interview - Heidi Ayarbe + Giveaway

Today, I'm excited to be interviewing with Heidi Ayarbe, whose latest release Wanted came out in May! You can read my review here.

Book Synopsis
A one-word text message: That's all Michal "Mike" Garcia needs to gather a crowd. Mike is a seventeen-year-old bookie, and Sanctuary is where she takes bets for anyone at Carson High with enough cash. Her only rule: Never participate, never place a bet for herself.

Then Josh Ellison moves to town. He pushes Mike to live her life, to feel a rush of something -- play the game, he urgest, stop being a spectator.

So Mike breaks her one rule. She places a bet, feels the rush. And loses.

In an act of desperation, she and Josh -- who has a sordid past of his own -- concoct a plan: The pair will steal from Carson City's elite to pay back Mike's debt. Then they'll give the rest of their haul to those who need it most. How can burglary be wrong if they are making things right?

Author Bio
Heidi Ayarbe is the award winning author of YA novels Freeze Frame, Compromised, Compulsion, and Wanted. She grew up wanting to be a veterinarian/pilot so she could fly in her bi-plane to everybody’s farm and cure sick cows. Yes. Just cows. She also wanted to marry a Labrador retriever. Apparently there’s a law against a human marrying a Labrador retriever. Go figure. She was never told by anybody of literary authority she “should” be a writer, but stubborn by nature decided she “should.” With support of her family and people she loved, she gave it a shot. So now she is. (A writer. Not married to a Labrador retriever).

Your books tend to delve into the human psyche. Is there a particular reason why you're drawn to exploring it?
I think stories are interesting when you take “normal kids” (who’s normal, right?) and throw extraordinary circumstances at them to see how they’re going to work things out. I can’t imagine writing a story that didn’t deal with the human psyche. We’re all little worlds of our own, walking around with certainties and truths etched into our brains. But everybody’s truth is different, right? I like gray area – testing the boundaries of right and wrong. So the stories I write, I write for the characters. I love character-driven stories and creating characters I admire, dislike, like, and kind of wish I could be like. (Especially the rebellious characters. I was such a walk-the-line kid!)

Wanted is a complex novel that involves bookies, break ins, and robberies. What kind of research and preparation went into the writing of this novel?
This was a tough book to write. I had to research EVERYTHING. And though I’m from Nevada, I was totally unfamiliar with the world of online gambling. Luckily, though, I had help from friends who guided me through the muck, helped me place bets and after a bit I understood point spreads and odds. This would be a great book for math! And you’d be SURPRISED what you can find on E-How … I learned how to break into virtually every kind of lock. There’s also a slew of information about where people typically hide their money caches in their homes. I found interviews with incarcerated thieves and found a reality show where two guys go in and rob someone’s home, trashing it (robbing is never clean) and finding all their money. Most people got really pissed off about the robbery, but, at the end of the day, they agreed to it (who knows why?). It’s disturbingly simple to get the information you need to steal.

It is very disturbing what we can learn with a quick online search if we cared to try. Six-word phrases play a large role in Wanted. Do you have a six word phrase to represent the book?
Ack! This is tough. Those six-word phrases were hard to do in the novel, too. I wanted them to be relevant. I thought I was in the clear!! Ack!! Actually, it would’ve been cool to have a six-word summary like this for a flap copy. Damn. Okay:

Unconventional heroes. Best intentions. Disastrous results. (This is pretty bad!)
Modern-day western. Lines blurred, crossed. Regret. (Okay … this might be worse.)

You get the idea, right?

You did a wonderful job with the six-word phrases. Tough they may be, but very well done and worth the effort, I think. I loved them. If you could talk to someone in Wanted, who would it be and what would you say?
I like this question. A lot. Because I really love my characters and their strengths and flaws. At the end of the day, though, I think I’d have to talk to Mike. So much of her self worth is based on others’ perceptions of her … so typical of high school. I’d love to shake her up and tell her it gets better. She’ll find her place. She has so much beauty and intelligence. She matters – not because she’s a bookie or stealing from the rich and passing the money around. She matters because she’s Mike. That’s all I’d like to tell her. She matters.

That's something she and every other teenage girl (and boy) out there should know. Teenage me was always hiding at her desk with a book in front of her. Thus far, your books have been singles. Are you planning on starting a series one day, or do you prefer to write singles?
I suppose my books have been singles because I’ve felt like the stories I wrote had come to an end. The characters completed their arcs (yeah … that’s a little technical hullaballoo, but it’s actually true). This is one reason I HATE epilogues … HATE. It’s always nice to leave something open for the reader to decide. Typically, contemporary fiction doesn’t go into series. That’s more common for fantasy, paranormals, dystopians. That said, if my publisher said they wanted a second book, I’d write it. (No writer in her “right” mind turns down work!)

I noted on your site that you like books about mountaineering and you travel with your husband, hiking and backpacking and river rafting. Where are your favorite places to travel?
Pre-parenthood we traveled a ton. My favorite places have always been backpacking. Cities are wonderful, but there’s nothing as phenomenal as being outside. So, I suppose my top three places I’ve traveled have been: hiking to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas in Nepal, hiking Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia (including a day hiking the glaciers … phenomenal!), and the Galapagos Islands – hiking and snorkeling and scuba diving. I can’t wait to take my girls backpacking in the States when they’re older. I hope they travel one day. Travel has made all the difference in my life.

My dad used to go backpacking back in the day, and he's always telling my brother and me that we should go one day. Can you see yourself writing about a character who does so?
I think that I could definitely see myself creating a character that loves backpacking or dreams about travel. There's so much a writer could do with that. I suppose I might have steered clear from that thus far, though, because it might be too close to me.

As for placing a novel in one of those places, I'm not sure. I don't know WHY a teen would be traveling to these places unless there's a student exchange thing going on etc. It could be fascinating, though, creating a novel of two teens traveling, backpacking whatever ... and something could go horribly, horribly wrong. That's definitely been done, though ... What hasn't been done? Hmmm ... I guess I'm up in the air on this one.

It would be a toughie to write an original novel on the topic, but if done well it would be a good read. I love books with rural and foreign settings. What can readers expect next from you?
Right now I’m working on The Story of Us for Philomel. It’s release date is spring of 2014! It’s a very different kind of book for me – definitely a challenge – because it’s a mix between mystery, suspense and drama about a girl trying to remember what happened the night her family’s home burned down. She begins to investigate and things get complicated pretty fast.

That sounds exciting. This is going on my TBR list! Anything else you'd like to add?
If you love a book, talk about it, shout out about it, share it with friends and relatives. Ask your school and public library to get it. Write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (even bad reviews are better than none!) That’s the best way for you to keep your favorite authors writing. Thanks for having me and for the thoughtful questions. Also, good luck to everyone for the cool book giveaway.

Thanks for interviewing, Heidi! And, yes, there is a cool book giveaway. Heidi has offered to give away a signed copy of her novel Compulsion along with some neat swag!

One lucky US/Canada winner will receive a signed copy of Compulsion along with some neat swag. The giveaway is open through July 8th.

To enter, leave a meaningful comment on the interview. You can receive extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Wanted. Then fill out the form below. Do not include your email in the comments section.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Imagine This: The Ultimate Hero Team

Imagine This is a feature hosted by Austin at Imaginary Reads. Every Saturday, Austin comes up with a question that asks readers to explore a book and come up with an outcome using the power of imagination.

This week's question:
You are trying to save the world from [insert generic villain], but you can't do it alone. Who would you team up with?

My Answer:
My team would be:

Neville Longbottom

Everyone knows he's the TRUE chosen one, and every team needs its hero :)

Team Rocket

Team Rocket should be worshipped for their immortality. In over 10 years, they have not aged at all, and they have somehow cheated death in almost every episode. Plus, their strange ability to  create/buy giant robots could come in handy.


Who doesn't want a living stuffed animal on their team? He would be useful as a spy too :)

Maito Gai

Lookit that sexy pose and those manly eyebrows :O Maito Gai is in the springtime of his youth!!! He's a passionate warrior, has plenty of experience as a ninja and every team needs a lady killer :)

Hiruma Yoichi

The man who can melt pure white ice into a black, sinister mist! Known as the Commander From Hell, Hiruma Yoichi!!! Hiruma, the evil genius, would be the strategist on my team, and he can recruit manpower for the team with his book of threats.

Review - A Want So Wicked

Friday, June 22, 2012
A Want So Wicked (A Need So Beautiful #2)
by Suzanne Young

Publication: June 26, 2012
Pages: 288
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose effect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

I was excited to see an ARC of this book tucked into a box of books that Harper Teen sent me. I received a copy of A Need So Beautiful among other books when I won a writing contest last year and adored it. Charlotte was a sweet and endearing girl. It broke my heart to see her fighting the Need. I also liked how she was already dating an amazing guy and was so serious about him. Needless to say, while I realized from the last chapter of A Need So Beautiful and from the synopsis of book two that Charlotte isn't really gone, I was sad to let go of her. Without the same friends and family background Elise just isn't the same.

While Charlotte has been working with the Need since a young age, Elise only begins to delve the life of a Forgotten now at the age of seventeen. Having just moved into a new town, Elise unfamiliar with the people there, and there are few people who can give us insight into her life. What I see is the naïve, goody-goody daughter of a pastor who tends to see the good in people. There were many times when I wanted her to find an excuse to stay away from bad boy Abe, who's cocky and never clearly states his intentions towards Elise. He's not exactly a creepy, but upon close inspection he doesn't seem like he means well. I honest-to-goodness miss Charlotte, though I understand why Elise doesn't want to see herself as the reincarnation of another girl.
The source of my inability to connect as well with Elise may not only be because of the character differences between Charlotte and Elise. There is the lack of strong supporting characters. Charlotte had Sarah, Harlin, Monroe, and her family; in addition, there was more action with Charlotte's Need growing stronger and her meeting with Onika. In A Want So Wicked, the plot is more drawn out and complex with Elise having flashbacks to memories that aren't hers in addition to visions of Onika. There wasn't nearly enough elaboration on the plot for one as complex as this, though it does manage to tie together in the end.

I was delighted to see the return of some wonderful friends from book two. Most outstanding is Charlotte's--and now Elise's--love: Harlin. He's still the same sweet, caring guy from book one, but he's been broken, devastated as he was by losing Charlotte. I love the chemistry and sensual attraction between Harlin and Elise. It is very real, made all the more so because of Harlin's loss and his determination to remember Charlotte. And it is definitely much more natural than Abe's over-the-top flirtation and advances. I would have liked to get to know some of the side characters a bit better (like Abe and what's under that bad-boy exterior), especially the ones related to the Forgotten and Shadows, but I understand it wasn't always possible given their circumstances.

While I didn't enjoy A Want So Wicked as much as A Need So Beautiful, this is still a riveting sequel with a darker twist to the original concept that drew me to book one. If you loved book one, be warned that the tone in this book is darker than book one, though the wit exchanged between characters in the dialogue is as fresh and funny as ever. I enjoyed learning more about the Forgotten and the Shadows, and I will definitely be reading book three if there is one!

Come back on July 3rd for my interview with author Suzanne Young and for a chance to win a copy of A Want So Wicked!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Review - Smart Girls Get What They Want

Smart Girls Get What They Want
by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publication: June 26, 2012
Pages: 352
Author: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

These friends are determined to show that smart girls get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for...

Gigi and her friends are the hero(oine)s of smart girls! At last, there is a contemporary read where the smart girls take the spotlight. Not to say that there aren't other smart girls or girls who are smart in other ways. This is a book that focuses on the fact that the main characters are smart girls and how they go about finding popularity while maintaining their studies. Other unique features of the book: one of Gigi's friends (Neerja) is Indian (go ethnic diversity!) and Gigi's grandmother is French and uses French.

I adore Gigi's character. She's an overachiever like Bea and Neerja, and she relates thermodynamics to the hair-styling process. She has a great sense of humor and good taste in books. A smart girl who also loves Anna and the French Kiss = win. One day, she wakes up and realizes that if she spend all of her time studying, she won't have a social life. I went through a similar stage--also in my sophomore year of high school, now that I think about it--so I can relate. It was the year that I began trying to talk to people more instead of studying all the time, and I picked up my first "fun reading book" in years. Gigi's progress takes time as well, though she manages to find herself by the end of the school year with the help of her best friends and a chemistry project she's forced into with a jock.

Although Gigi didn't want to leave high school without any memories, it takes an almost suspension to set plans into motion. It also makes the principal aware that students didn't view themselves quite as equals, as Gigi looks down on jocks and the jocks think she's out of their league. There are also the students who don't get smart people at all. I love this angle to the story. It's very real and applicable to high school life today. I knew students who were better at sports than studies, but my high-school valedictorian was part of the band and was pretty into sports. A physics and computer science nerd at my school was on the football team. People shouldn't be labelled just by the groups they hang out with, and it's something that Gigi will learn when she realizes that she's been overlooking a hot sweetie with brains hiding under a a jock-ish exterior.

Smart Girls Get What They Want plays on the social stereotypes that we see in too many schools today and shows how people aren't always what they seem to be on the surface. The story is light and filled with humor, as Gigi struggles to overcome her fear of public speaking and find her niche in the school where she'll be remembered, and her friends undergo similar experiences. The story is light, cute, and filled with humor. It is about friendship, branching out, and speaking up. There is romance, but it is secondary to the girls' plans to succeed in something other than their studies. I recommend this to those looking for a fun contemporary read with depth to it and a memorable cast of characters.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.