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Author Interview - Roxanne St. Claire + Giveaway

Friday, August 31, 2012
Today, I am interviewing with Roxanne St. Claire, author of Don't You Wish.

Book Synopsis
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 inside, 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.

Author Bio
Prior to launching a full time career as a novelist in 2003, Roxanne spent most of her professional life as a marketing executive and public relations consultant. She is a graduate of UCLA, an active member of several national writing organizations, and a lecturer on a wide range of writing-related topics. She lives in Satellite Beach, Florida with her husband and their two teenagers, and if you know her, you call her Rocki.

Thanks for joining us here today, Roxanne. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
First of all, thanks for inviting me here! So great to get a chance to reach your blog community and talk about books! Like most writers, I’m a reader first and that’s probably the reason I chose this crazy career path. I’ve had my fingers on a keyboard or in a book for as long as I can remember, but never really dreamed I could be published. About twelve years ago, I decided it was time to try -- after my brother wrote and published a book with Random House. That’s when it occurred to me that mere mortals could sell their stories (who knew?), so I put my heart and soul into my first novel and made it my goal to write for publication. Thirty books later...I still put my heart and soul into every book!

It's cool how your brother and you both write! You mention in your About page that verbs are the key to life and that your favorites are "Love. Work. Play." Would you tell us more about this?
These were three verbs that were “given” to me by one of my best friends in a wedding toast when I got married. She was (is!) a friend who understood that I actually love to work -- so much that it can be play to me. Even before I became a novelist, I was a professional publicist and I loved my job so much there was a very fine line between work and play for me. The thing I love about those verbs is that they are also nouns!

You're so lucky to have had two jobs that you love doing! You've written over thirty books in various genres. What made you decide to branch into the YA genre?
Young adult novels have been my “comfort read” for many years, long before Twilight made it cool/acceptable for adults to read teen novels. I love the freshness of the characters, the voices, and the first-time situations for teenagers. I never thought I could write one, but then I had teenagers of my own -- and writing for and about them seemed like a natural fit.

Where did the idea for Don't You Wish originate?
True story! I was online reading an Architectural Digest story featuring the 25,000 square foot palatial home of my ex-boyfriend when my (then 13 year old) daughter walked in. I happened to joke that if I had married that guy, we could be living there. She was taken with the idea (maybe a little too much!) and bombarded me with questions about what she’d be like if I had married him. I explained that she wouldn’t be her, but her questions (and that amazing house) instantly sparked the idea for the book. It was one of those “I can’t breathe until I write this down” moments and once I’d spilled a story idea onto the page and shared it with my agent, I knew we had to sell it. Writing this book was pure joy for me.

I love how a chance occurence can spark the idea for a story! There's some Physics involved with the parallel universe concept. What kind of research did you do for Don't You Wish?
I did enough research to become completely enamored with the idea of parallel universes and quite certain they exist. I will say that the research also opened my eyes to other spiritual and incomprehensible aspects of the universe that have had a lasting impact on me and how I view this world. That never happens when I research a crime for a suspense novel! In addition to reading and combing the internet for facts, I interviewed a physicist who put the whole concept into plain English and really helped me keep parallel universes (and travel between them) simple but “realistic” in the book.

Annie wakes up one day to find herself going from a nobody to living her dream life. How would the story be different if the story were about Ayla taking Annie's place?
I’m having trouble answering this! I’ve had to think long and hard because I have so little desire to tell Ayla’s story; she’s not a character that excited me too much. She’s not really in this book at all, more of a shadow cast over Annie’s new life. But I suppose if I switched those universes and Ayla Monroe had been shoved into a sub-par house with a hoarder father and barely enough money to get by after living like a princess...well, that could be a whole different lesson/story with its own merits. The problem from a writing standpoint is that Ayla would be so unlikeable at the beginning that too many readers would put the book down before she transforms into a relatable character!

Annie and Charlie are awesome people, and I loved reading their story. What are your favorite scenes in the book?
I have many favorite scenes in the book because this one was a pleasure to write. I love every scene with Charlie (and so, it seems, do the readers!) especially when he’s with his sister, and the reader can see his super tender side. I love the moment when Annie/Ayla has to go into the boys’ bathroom and save him because that scene shows just what she’s made of and how much she values her friends. I also love the end -- in 30+ books, this one has my favorite last scene of all. Again, the ending gets a lot of love from readers, which is a true compliment!

I absolutely love the ending. It is so sweet! Family and friends are important to defining who Annie is and in reminding her where she belongs. Who in Don't You Wish would be your family member (and what relation) and who would be your best friend?
Well, I have to say that her older brother in the “Ayla world” is kind of based on my 19 year old son who has a heart of gold but an ego the size of a small country. I had fun playing with that and my son read those scenes and cracked up. (There are some direct lines of his in the book.) Also, Annie’s best friend, Lizzie, is based on one of my daughter’s dear friends, who I’ve been trying to steal and adopt for years but her parents won’t let me have her!

It must have been a lot of fun sharing the story with your children and seeing their reactions! What are you working on right now? (Will we be seeing more YA from you?)
I will definitely be writing more YA, as I have a “thriller” type YA planned for release with my publisher, and am developing an epic fantasy that I will probably write under another name. I’m hard at work on my contemporary romance series called “Barefoot Bay” with the first out now and the second coming in a few months, followed by two more in 2013. Lots of writing ahead, and I’m grateful for that!

It's exciting to hear that we'll be seeing you around in the YA world. I can't wait to read your next work!

Roxanne has generously donated a signed copy of Don't You Wish for one lucky US winner!

The giveaway is open through September 13th.

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 Don't You Wish. Then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

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Author Interview - Flynn Meaney + Giveaway

Thursday, August 30, 2012
Today, I am delighted to be interviewing Flynn Meaney, author of Bloodthirsty and, more recently, The Boy Recession!

Book Synopsis
Where have all the boys gone?

Down-to-earth Kelly is always the friend and never the girlfriend. But as her junior year of high school starts, Kelly is determined to finally reveal her true feelings for her long-time crush and good friend Hunter - that is, until the Boy Recession hits.

Over the past summer, an overwhelming number of male students have left Kelly and Hunter's small high school class. Some were sent to private school and others moved away. Whatever the case, the sudden population shift has left the already small Julius P. Heil High in desperate shape. The football coach is recruiting chess champs for his team, the principal's importing male exchange students to balance out school dances,and Hunter is about to become an unexpected heartthrob.

Content with his role as the guitar-strumming, class-skipping slacker, Hunter is unprepared to be the center of attention. Desperate coaches are recruiting him for sports teams, and the drama teacher casts him in the lead role of the school musical. Even the Spandexers, powerful popular girls in tight pants, are noticing Hunter in a new light - with a little work, he could have potential. He might even be boyfriend material...

In order to stand out from the crowd and win Hunter's heart, Kelly needs a "stimulus package" in the form of cougar lessons from a senior girl who dates hot freshman boys and advice on the male mind from her Cosmo-addicted best friend, Aviva. As if dating wasn't hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

Author Bio
Flynn Meaney grew up in Mamaroneck, New York, ten minutes away from Pelham, home to the fictional Finbar Frame. Flynn's hilarious high school friends and their conversations preserved in letters, emails, and notes passed in class have provided endless inspiration for her YA writing. She is an alumna of the University of Notre Dame and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Hunter College.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I’ve always loved to write, and I started selling poems and short stories when I was in high school. I took my first workshop-style classes at Notre Dame, then enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Hunter College so I could take more. I just graduated from the program with a degree in poetry, which is obviously one of the most lucrative and in-demand degrees in the job market…oops, wait, not at all.

Both Bloodthirsty and The Boy Recession are humorous reads about boys who meet girls who change them around the time that they find new popularity. What draws you to these kinds of stories?
I guess I’m interested in how personalities develop, and when you’re a teenager, you’re trying to define yourself within a group of your peers. High school is such a weird little social incubator, with all different personalities forced together in classrooms and locker rooms and on class trips where someone’s peeing in a bottle in the back of the random and funny interactions inevitably happen.

That's true. It's also why we all love to read stories about high-school students! What inspired the idea for The Boy Recession?
The gender ratio in the town where I grew up what pretty skewed; my public high school graduating class was over 75% female. There was no recession, it was just a weird demographic thing…or the government was pumping estrogen into our water supply.

That is skewed. How has your high school band experience (and other awesome nerdy activities) influenced the writing of The Boy Recession?
I did SO many nerdy activities. I was on the Mock Trial and Academic Challenge teams, I was in the school band, I went to band camp and musical theater camp… the list goes on. Unfortunately, I had no talent at many of these things, but I like to write characters who have talents and passions because I like talented and passionate people in real life.

I was in nerdy clubs too, like my school's Academic Decathlon team, French Club, and Literary Criticsm and Ready Writing UIL. I was also in orchestra for a while. Each chapter starts with the title of one of Aviva's articles. Why did you decide to open the chapters with these?
This was actually my editor Elizabeth Bewley’s idea, so she should get all the credit! She knew I was having trouble tightening up the book because it takes place over such a long period of time—a full school year. The headlines were a quick and entertaining way to give background info on what was happening at the school each month.

They are entertaining. I loved reading reading them! How would Hunter, Kelly, Aviva, and Diva describe themselves in a tweet? 
Like a Twitter bio? Okay, hmmm….
Diva: *FUTURE STAR* Follow me, bitches!!!
Hunter :
Kelly: 16-year-old student, flutist, and friend. Addicted to Frappuccinos and movie musicals.
Aviva: Ravishing Resplendent Resourceful Roving Girl Reporter

Nice. If a boy recession were to strike the world, what would you do?
I think there is a boy recession! There have been lots of articles about women outnumbering men in grad school programs and on college campuses, and I’ve even read a few about how the Y-chromosome is dying out and men are going extinct—although I think those are false alarms. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by powerful, accomplished women all my life and have great female friendships, so I say, bring on the boy recession!

Females friends are the best! While my guy friends are awesome, they know they can't win over the awesomeness of girl bonds. What are you working on right now?
I just finished grad school, and I think I need to recover from writing my thesis. But I have some ideas for my next book, so hopefully I will start that soon!

I can't wait to see what you bring us next!

Little Brown Books has generously donated a copy of The Boy Recession, which will be going to a lucky U.S. winner!

The giveaway is open through September 12th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview, then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review - Blink Once

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Blink Once
by Cylin Busby

Publication: September 4, 2012
Pages: 304
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia. She’s the girl next door—sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he’s been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia—to love her, even—certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he’s fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.

Blink Once is what I would call a contemporary story with paranormal elements. At the heart of the story is a high school boy who has been in a biking accident that leaves him in the hospital and wondering when--if--he will get out. Weaving in and out of the plot are bizarre dreams that make him questions what is real and what is a figment of his imagination. There is the beautiful Olivia, also a patient and who has her secrets. With each answer, new questions arise in a complex plot that culminates in a revelation of self-identity and the workings of the world.

West has been paralyzed in an accident that he barely remembers. Everyone seems to believe that he isn't aware of his surroundings--everyone, except Olivia that is. Olivia is the only one that realizes that West is conscious, and together they form a bond out of their similar circumstances, as both are trapped in the hospital and the only company for each other. Drifting in and out of consciousness, West is barely aware of what is going on, however, and sometimes it takes time for his mind to puzzle through days and sort them in chronological order. Some things may take years to recover; others will fade out of mind. The focus of most of his thoughts are on Olivia.

The two have a bizarre relationship that seems to have been born out of need. The need for someone to be there, understanding and compassionate. Someone who understands. Even when one of them gets to pushy or crosses some line, the other will be quick to forgive because they have no one else. Having broken up with his ex-girlfriend, it wouldn't have been hard for West to turn his thoughts towards the girl who is there, and Olivia is lonely, having spent quite some time alone in the hospital.

I love how this story explores the unexplained. How is West having these dreams about people he has never met, and who really is Olivia? The story is told through the perspective of someone who isn't entirely there for much of the novel, so West's story isn't very credible. Nevertheless, it is incredible, unique, and interesting. This is a story that I would recommend to those who are interested in a different kind of contemporary read with supernatural elements in addition to a tad bit of mystery and thrills.

Rating: Keeper

Return September 4th for an interview with author Cylin Busby as a part of the Blink Once tour!

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 - Don't Turn Around

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Don't Turn Around (Persefone Trilogy #1)
by Michelle Gagnon

Publication: August 28, 2012
Pages: 310
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Harper Collins
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.
Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills.

Don't Turn Around is fast-paced and filled with life-or-death situations, and it is packed full of serious threats, desperate chases, fights, escapes, and close calls. It makes reading the book a thrilling experience. Noa’s and Peter’s hacking efforts add another element of excitement to the story, and it keeps me wanting to know what they will do next.

This book centers around Noa, a teenage foster kid with excellent computer-hacking skills who wakes up on a surgical table in an empty warehouse with a mysterious incision on her chest and no memory of how she got there. After that, the story continues at a non-stop pace as Noa tries to find out who is responsible for her circumstances and what did they do to her. I would go berserk if I were in her position.

I admire Noa's character. Noa is strong, smart, and a bit of a badass girl despite her fear. She has been through a lot in her life and still goes through some rought times, but she comes out stronger each time. On the other hand, Peter is a nice, intelligent teenager with rich parents. His character is not so well developed as Noa's. To me, Peter just like most of the teenagers nowadays except that he is a genuine computer hacker. Other than that, nothing really stood out to me with regards to his characters.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t wait to see where Noa’s and Peter’s paths will take them next.

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 - C.J. Redwine

Monday, August 27, 2012
I am super excited to be interviewing with C.J. Redwine, whose debut novel Defiance comes out tomorrow!

Book Synopsis
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Author Bio
C.J. Redwine loves stilettos, lemon bars, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She lives in Nashville with her husband, four kids, two cats, and one long-suffering dog. To learn more about C.J., visit her website. Also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Would you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
I've been writing stories since it dawned on me in second grade that someone's job was to make stuff up and write it down. I didn't seriously pursue publication until I was 30, though, because it took a cancer diagnosis to make me realize that life is too short to wait for our dreams to come to us.

Defiance is a fantasy with sci-fi and dystopian elements. Where did you find this world and what inspired you to write about it?
I'd had the idea of a Leviathon-like creature living underground for a while. One day, I saw a picture of a fortress that reminded me of a city-state and the world for Defiance was born.

What first drew me to your book (after the gorgeous cover) is Rachel. Where on Earth (or elsewhere) did you come up with this fiery heroine and her world?
My characters arrive in my head already fully formed. I just get the fun job of learning who they are. Rachel is a product of her upbringing and her environment, but the inner strength she has caused her to bend a different way under tyranny than most of the other citizens in her city-state bent. I enjoyed writing the story of a girl who is fierce and strong but who breaks inside and has to figure out how to put those pieces back together again.

Defiance was auctioned as part of a trilogy. Did you plan it to be a trilogy from the start or after you'd finished book one?
I always knew it would take more than on book to tell Rachel and Logan's story, but it wasn't until I was almost finished with book one that I could see the entire arc and scope of the trilogy.

I hear that you might be a ninja. Is this one reason why your heroine is more of a sworld-wielder than a dressmaker? How did Rachel come to be the girl that she is?
Shh. No one is supposed to know my secret ninjaness! Actually, Rachel showed up in my head fierce and impulsive and courageous when it comes to risking her life but not so much when it comes to risking her heart. Her father raised her to know how to defend herself because he understood the dangers of their world and because that's really the only way he knew how to relate to his daughter. Combine those character traits with her upbringing and you have the makings of a girl who can start a revolution.

Rachel's new Protector Logan once broke her heart. Awkward! What dynamics are involved with their relationship?
Oh, poor Rachel and Logan. There is much awkwardness there. They were friends for a long time before the broken heart, and then they became almost strangers until Logan became her Protector in the absense of her father. Awkwardness FTW! They are both stubborn and loyal and tend to butt heads about almost everything, but in their hearts, they both want what's best for each other.

Rachel and Logan go through many challenges as they go through the Wasteland. What was your favorite part of their journey?
The lake scene! *wiggles brows*

Oh lala. Would you share a few teaser lines from your novel?
"Jared Adams has something I need," he says. "You and the girl will get it back for me."

Relief rushes through me. "I understand."

He spits his words at me. "You listen to me, inventor who likes to play with words. You are replaceable. The girl is replaceable. I won't hesitate for a second to spill her blood and find another willing to take her place. Do you really think the life of any one citizen matters in comparison to what I decide Baalboden needs?"

Before I can do more than draw in a sharp, panicked gasp of air, he spins on his heel and lunges toward Rachel, his sword raised.

Do you have plans for after the Defiance trilogy?
I am already working on three different projects in my spare time. We'll see which one hits the shelves next. :)

Related Posts
Review - Defiance

Imagine Weekly: Imagine My Mailbox (31)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Week in Review

This week's reviews:
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett
Every Day by David Levithan
Huber Hill and the Brotherhood of Coronado

Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After)
Louise Rozett (Confessions of an Angry Girl)
Patty Blount (Send, as a part of the blog tour)

Austin is giving away an ARC of Defiance by C.J. Redwine!

Kris's Mailbox

For Review

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (ARC)
Beautiful story. I'm super excited to have had an ARC shipped out to me!

Nevermore by James Patterson (Hardback)
I received the first book for review earlier this summer but haven't had time to read more than the first couple pages. It looks so, so good, however. I'm definitely going to be getting copies of the middle books in the series before getting onto this one. So jealous of everyone who's already read them all!

Hidden by Sophie Jordan (Hardback)
I have an ARC already, so I'm adding this to the books for grab if anyone's interested :)
AWESOME trilogy Sophie has here. Can't wait to share my review with you all!

The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan (Audiobook)
Loved Percy Jackson. Can't wait to start listening to this <3
This is also my first audiobook, so this'll be an interesting and very new experience!

Thanks to Bloomsbury, Little Brown, Harper Collins, and Random House

Hope I covered everything. It's been really hectic past couple of weeks moving back into the dorms and starting classes again. I'm behind on my studies already, and I have a lot of club activities going on and blogging and I have no idea when I'm going to read much less study. Then again, first weeks are always like that. I did a fairly good job reviewing last year after the first couple weeks or so, though not as much as I'd have liked. Just as a forewarning, I won't be posting as much as this past summer, but I'll be trying!

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

Imagine This: Defying the Law

Saturday, August 25, 2012

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

2 weeks ago I asked you guys who you would choose to be stranded with.

Congratulations to Mary D. for winning the giveaway.

Mary D., send us an e-mail and we'll arrange for your book to be sent to you.

This week's giveaway


In Defiance, the main character chooses to go against the Commander to find her father.

What belief would you pursue, even if it meant going against the law?

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and tell me what you would go against the law for. The person who presents the best belief will win a copy of Defiance.

Giveaway open to US only, but anyone is free to comment. Extra entry in another giveaway happening on the blog for tweeting the following message provided below:

I entered to #WIN a copy of Defiance by C.J. Redwine @ImaginaryReads! #giveaway

Don't forget to leave a link to your tweet in the comments section along with the name of the giveaway you'd like your extra entry to be counted towards.

Giveaway is open through September 7th.

Don't forget. There is still another week to enter the giveaway for last week's Imagine This. To enter, click here.

Review: Huber Hill & the Brotherhood of Coronado by B.K. Bostick

Huber Hill and the Brotherhood of Coronado (Huber Hill #2)
by B.K. Bostick

Publication: October 9, 2012
Pages: 288
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Sweetwater Books (imprint of Cedar Fort)
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

The Dead Man’s Treasure has been stolen! Now it’s up to Huber and his gang to find it. But solving a mystery this big will mean traveling across the world and learning to trust some new friends, including a mysterious stranger.

Thrilling and filled with mystery and adventure, Huber Hill and the Brotherhood of Coronado is a book that middle-grade, and older readers even, will enjoy.

I have been waiting a year for this book. Even before I read the last pages of Huber Hill #1 and realized that Huber's adventures were just beginning, I was not ready to let go of Huber, Scott, and Hannah. They are delightfully fun characters and filled with personality. Huber is that nerdy kid with a thirst to prove himself, Scott is that akward tween who isn't quite sure how to express his feelings and ends up rubbing people the wrong way, and Hannah is Huber's intelligent twin, the girl that guys fight over (literally) and fiercely protective of her brother. Being an older sister, I understand her feelings and was able to empathize with her over her concern for Huber's wellfare. Each one of these characters has their strong points and weaknesses that allow readers to relate to them.

New characters are also introduced even as old friends return. I enjoyed meeting their new friends in Spain. There's the charming Spaniard who captivates Hannah and infuriates Scott in addition to the gorgeous girl who shows interest in Huber, with their introduction developing new tensions within the group. I also love the quaint Don-Quixote-like character. He is a wonderful old man whose heart is in the right place, though his mind is not always there.

And, of course, this wouldn't be a Huber Hill book without the treasure mystery. If you've read book one, you'll remember how the Dead Man's Treasure is stolen at the end of the book. Now, Huber, Hannah, and Scott are traveling to Spain on the pretense of studying the Spanish language in order to recover the stolen treasure. This book introduces a mysterious society (you got it, the Brotherhood of Coronado), which seeks to amass gold and, hence, power in order to take over Spain. They have high goals, which leads to higher stakes.

The Brotherhood is an interesting addition, and I really appreciate the role they play in the story. However, there is an even more interesting and mysterious character in the book, and that is the one known as the "Falcon." This stranger is working against the Brotherhood and seeks the aid of Huber and co. in his plots. However, he won't interact directly with them and gives them clues to the keys to infiltrating the Brotherhood. With time, I began to suspect his true identity, and it was confirmed at the end of the book along. There is an even greater adventure waiting for us in book three, and I cannot wait for the next year to come along with the next installment!

Review: Every Day by David Leviathan

Friday, August 24, 2012
Every Day
by David Levithan

Publication: August 28, 2012
Pages: 304
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

* A has an indeterminate gender, being bodiless, but for convenience I will be using the pronoun "he" when referring to A.

Ever since his first awareness, A has been switching lives from day to day and has resolved never to mess with the life he's taken over, never to form attachments, because there isn't any point to it. He'll never live the same life again. Then he meets Rhiannon, and the meaning of his existence changes, for he has met someone that he wants to be with. The futility of such a desire haunts the two of them, as they struggle to find ways to meet with each other again and see that their attraction can overcome the new appearance that A takes on every day.

A has an authentic and captivating voice that captured my heart from the first pages. He is resigned to living every day in a new body, and it is shown in his actions with how quickly he accesses his new host's memories for a general idea of the host's behavior and how acutely he observes the people around his host and divines their relationship from their actions. Upon his meeting with Rhiannon, A learns what it means to be an individual with all its emotions, the good and the bad, and he rises out of his nirvana-like state to attempt to find a place for himself in this world.

I did have one little qualm with this book, and it is how easily and quickly A falls in love with Rhiannon. Within seconds of seeing her, A knows that he is in love with Rhiannon. He also develops a bit of an obsession with her, emailing her and meeting up with her whenever he can, even if it means disrupting the lives of the people he inhabits for a day. While I can see how hard it would be never being able to be himself every day, it's not very respectful of A to use his hosts' bodies like that. Nevertheless, his desperation to find a way to be with Rhiannon is heartfelt, touching, and vividly portrayed. It is also necessary for the story's plot to progress as it does.

Every Day explores the concept of identity and what it means to love someone, be it learning to recognize someone despite his changing appearances to letting go. This is a story that will tug at your heart and haunt you from the first pages.

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.

It Only Takes One Click Tour Stop + Giveaway

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm delighted to be part of the "It Only Takes One Click" tour for Patty Blount's novel Send. Today, I have my review of Send, an interview with Patty Blount, and a giveaway of her book.

by Patty Blount

Publication: August 1, 2012
Pages: 291
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

To keep his secrets, all he has to do is listen to the voice in his head and just walk away...

On his first day at his new high school, Dan stops a bully from beating up a kid half his size. He didn't want to get involved. All he wants out of his senior year is to fly under the radar. But Dan knows what it's like to be terrorized by a bully-he used to be one. Now the whole school thinks he's some kind of hero, except Julie Murphy, the prettiest girl on campus. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn't really Daniel.

Dan is someone that we can all relate to. At one point or another, we do something that we end up regretting, though that something doesn't land us all in juvie. Since learning that the boy that he cyber-bullied killed himself, Dan has been regretting his actions and trying to atone for them. All he wants to do is fade into anonymity now that he has a new name to hide behind; however, he can't stand by and do nothing when he sees someone being bullied after what he's done. And his actions

I feel that there were aspects of the novel that could have been better developed. Dan's speech class seems to play an important role in his life. It is where he makes his first friends, and his group's speech topic plays a role getting Dan and Julie to interact with each other. However, the scenes with Julie are the ones that get the most attention. While I appreciated watching the two struggle to understand their relationship, I also wanted to see Dan interact more with other people. It is stated that he makes two friends in the class, but I never got to know them as people. Two other characters that I wish received more attention are Jeff and Brandon. Dan firmly believes Jeff to be the bully and Brandon to be the victim that needs saving, but their situation is so much more complicated than that. There's a reason why everyone sides with Jeff against Brandon, and I'm still not fully convinced that it's only because of what Brandon said.

What impressed me the most is the complexity and realness of Dan's character. While I don't find the actions of the thirteen-year-old him amusing, I can empathize with the eighteen-year-old Dan who struggles to forgive himself. I especially appreciate the presence of thirteen-year-old Kenny (his old nickname) that haunts him, seemingly a demon who exists taunt Dan about his wickedness to the end of his days. In reality, Kenny is just as complicated as Dan and gives insight into Dan's character. In fact, Kenny ended up being my favorite character with Dan himself coming in a close second.

I love how the story comes in full circle. Dan got himself in this mess from clicking send, and he moves on by clicking send. Typically, we see the stories of the victims. Rarely does the bully--or former bully--receive much attention in YA lit. While I never could have imagined myself relating to someone with Dan's history, here I was eager to tell Dan that he can't keep on blaming himself, that he has to let himself be happy. Send is a book that I recommend to tweens, older teens, and adults alike.

Rating: A book to remember and keep. A book that teens and adults alike should give a try.

Author Interview

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an author.
I'm just a girl who loves words. I've been writing all my life -- poetry, short stories, you name it. I didn't get serious about my writing until I grew up, had a couple of kids, and went, "Wow. I'm already in my forties and haven't done the things I wanted to do." One of those things was write books. So I tried and kept giving up. It wasn't until my son dared me to write a novel that I actually finished one.

It's really cool how you wrote a novel on a dare from your son! In your FAQ's, you mentioned that Send was ripped from the headlines. What do you mean by this?
Bullying has always been a social problem but the explosive growth in internet technology takes a situation that would have been confined to a small physical space like a playground or school and taken it world-wide virtually overnight. When I was a kid, if a teen killed herself in California, I would not have heard about it in New York. Today, I do hear such news. The news was where I began my research for Send. I learned about boys on the national sex offense list for 'sexting' naked pictures of their girlfriends from the news. I learned about teens committing suicide because they were bullied from the news. And on the news, I learned that not enough laws exist to address these crimes so sometimes, prosecutors try to apply old laws, like distributing child pornography.The consequences of these old laws rarely seem to fit and the result is a lot of lives get ruined for what are often innocent mistakes. All of these headlines ended up in Send.

You did a wonderful job incorporating these headlines into Send. What are the highlights of what you learned during your research on social media?
First, it's not a toy. The internet, cell phones, social networks -- sure, they're fun, but they are not video games that, when turned off, STOP. They are permanent, far reaching methods of communication that make it very easy for people to suddenly develop big mouths because they feel safe and anonymous behind their computer screens. Would you ever tell a depressed teen "Do it! Hang yourself!" to his face!?! I sincerely hope not. Yet, online, that happens often because people tell themselves it's not serious.

That's a good point. Typically, literature likes to explore the perspective of those victimized. Why did you decide to tell the story from the bully's point of view?
After my own son was both the victim of bullies and later accused of bullying another child, I wondered just how many bullies in the stories I'd read in which the victim took his own life were crippled with guilt. I wondered how many of them truly intended to hurt someone, or were really just not thinking about the long-term, permanent consequences of an action (clicking SEND) that can reach the entire word in a day or two? I thought about the teens whose lives were ruined after a judge put them on the sex offense list for forwarding naked pictures of their girlfriends. They had no idea they were doing anything wrong and they did not intend to hurt anyone, let alone compel people to suicide. I couldn't get that thought out of my mind. How would a kid deal with that kind of guilt? Could he ever grow to forgive himself?

We really can't know the immensity of the consequences of our actions until after it's done. These questions you raised are at the center of Daniel's story. How has Daniel grown as a character since you first came up with him?
Dan's like another son to me now. But he sure didn't start out that way. In fact, I pretty much hated his guts when I first started this project. I didn't want to like a bully. I didn't want to feel sorry for him. I wanted him to pay. In a real sense, Dan had to earn MY forgiveness first, for me to be able to write this story without killing him outright. And he did. He takes things to extremes.... he feels things very deeply but isn't sure how to manage those feelings. He always thinks he's right and when he finds out he's not, he goes right back to zero, to feeling undeserving of anyone's mercy. But by the end of the story, he cuts himself a break and that's because the stakes are suddenly extreme, which lets him put everything in perspective... his therapist, his parents and grandfather, Julie, even Kenny -- have been trying to do this all along. But Dan had to do it for himself and once he did, he realized he did not deserve death.

Oh, Kenny. I really grew to love that guy. Many elements play a role in Daniel's growth. In writing this story, what was the most important element to you?
There are two... forgiveness, certainly. But not just shrugging off the incident that requires forgiveness, trying to downplay it as a mistake. So the second is taking responsibility for that incident to make sure forgiveness is deserved.

If you were to insert yourself into the story, what role would you like to play?
A bit of me was in Dan's un-named Mom... especially the chocolate scene.

That was a really sweet scene. I loved it! What are you working on right now?
I just finished a novel called TMI, which is Too Much Information. It's about two girls whose friendship is ruined over a guy they 'meet' online and later discover does not exist. I'm also working on a new paranormal series about a teen who's trying to keep his psychic abilities a secret from his Mom, ever since a fire killed his little brother and Dad. That's because his visions are telling him his Mom lied about the fire.

That's exciting news. I cannot wait to read your latest projects. Thanks for interviewing with me here at Imaginary Reads!

Patty's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA "Send" was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. Patty adores chocolate, her boys, and books, though not necessarily in that order.

Sourcebooks has offered a copy of Send for one lucky US/Can winner!

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a comment on this post. Extra entries for other follows and for tweeting about the giveaway. The giveaway is open through September 6th.

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Interview - Louise Rozett + Giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Today, I am delighted to be interviewing with Louise Rozett, the author of Confessions of an Angry Girl!

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some CONFESSIONS to make... #1: I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

#2: I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who "might" be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

#3: High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry-get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.) (Sorry. That was rude.)

Louise Rozett is an author, a playwright, and a recovering performer. She is making her YA debut with Confessions of an Angry Girl, published by Harlequin Teen, coming out 8/28/12. She lives with her cool boyfriend Alex and awesome dog Lester in one of the world's greatest literary meccas, Brooklyn.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
The first thing I remember writing was a play in elementary school. After that, I was always super excited whenever I had the opportunity to write creatively in class. But it wasn’t until I reached high school that I understood how important writing was to me, in a number of different forms. I did an independent study with one of my teachers and I started working on plays and short stories. I’ve been writing ever since. I have a really busy, noisy brain—there’s something about writing that calms me down and focuses me. I think writing is actually good for my health!

It's so cool that you got to work on an independent study project with your teacher! I saw that you grew up performing. Has it impacted your writing in any way? 
It really has. All the work I’ve done as an actor in terms of understanding story structure and creating character has informed and helped my writing. Most of the time, that’s a very positive thing. But occasionally I feel like my writing is too character-focused, and not plot-focused enough, and I think that’s probably because actors focus primarily on character. I’m hoping that someday I’ll feel as confident with plotting as I do with character creation.

Characters are the most important factor to me in a novel, and I think you did a fantastic job with the characters in Confessions of an Angry Girl. Same with the plot. What was the inspiration behind Rose's story?
I’ve always been fascinated by how girls feel and express anger, probably because it took me a long time to understand that I was allowed to be angry. I think girls are somehow subliminally—or maybe not so subliminally—taught that they are supposed to be nice, quiet and accommodating all the time. But girls should be able to feel and express their anger without being told that they’re being too loud, or that they aren’t being polite. When Rose started to take shape, I realized that I’d found my Angry Girl, so to speak, and that she had a lot of things to say.

That's true. It's something we need to learn how to express. What kind of research did you do for the book?
I did a lot of personal research—I went back and looked at my journals and photo albums from high school. I also spent time at a high school in Connecticut where a friend of mine teaches. It was so fun—I loved listening to what the students had to say in class, and how they spoke to their teachers. I also loved listening to the way they spoke to each other in the halls and the cafeteria. In addition, I read about people who worked as contractors in Iraq (Rose’s father worked as a contractor in Iraq), and the kinds of struggles they faced. It was fascinating in the sense that I didn’t know anything about how contractors function during a war, and it was also heartbreaking—a lot of people who took those jobs had no experience with the military or with war zones, and the experience was often difficult, and in some cases, catastrophic.

It's interesting how much you learn by observing real high school students in their daily lives. Why did you decide to explore the gritty reality behind high school life (like sex, drinking, and bullying)?
I really loved high school, but I was not prepared for a lot of the big issues. And I think most people aren’t. But for some, all those brand new social experiences make high school exciting and thrilling, while for others, they make high school a total nightmare. I was interested in exploring who thrives and who struggles, and what happens when friends navigate those kinds of issues differently, as Rose and her best friend, Tracy, do.

I wasn't prepared for it either, and I like how you explore how different people make difference decisions. Rose is angry about a lot of things in her life. What challenges did you face in portraying her anger and worries while making her relatable to readers? What do you find most endearing about her?
I really love Rose, so it was surprising (and informative!) when my editor very wisely pointed out that I needed to make sure that we get to see some positives with Rose, some moments of happiness and inspiration. I’m embarrassed to admit that it truly hadn’t occurred to me that she might be unlikable because she’s so angry all the time! But my editor’s comment really woke me up, and helped me make her more relatable. I find Rose’s sense of humor endearing—I think she’s pretty funny—and I also think her humor helps temper the anger and the darkness that she’s coping with.

I love Rose as well and how well you portrayed her character. How would Rose, Robert, and Jamie describe themselves in ten words or less?
I think Rose would say that she’s “mad and mystified by life but working on it.” Robert would probably say that he’s “misunderstood and not going to wait for Rose forever.” And Jamie—well, if you can get Jamie to say 10 words at a time, you’re a miracle worker! He’d probably say, “Describe myself?”

Would it help if I get Rose over here to help me interview Jamie? What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing up the revisions on Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend right now, and I’m really excited about it. It’s an interesting challenge to figure out what Rose learned freshman year about herself, and how she applies it to sophomore year. She’s definitely growing up!

I'm excited as well to see how Rose has grown since her freshman year! Thanks for interviewing, Louise!

Harlequin Teen has generously offered a copy of Confessions of an Angry Girl to one lucky reader in North America. The giveaway is open through September 4th.

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

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Interview - Jennifer Castle + Giveaway

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Jennifer Castle, author of The Beginning of After.

Book Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
I've always been a writer in one way or another. I went from being the Poetry Geek in middle and high school to writing short stories in college, to setting out for Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. Even when I was working boring office jobs to pay the bills, I was always chipping away on a script in my spare time. I had an agent and went out on lots of meetings, and several of my screenplays came very close to selling, but nothing ever worked out. Walking away from that pursuit was really hard, because I felt like I was now a failure, but in retrospect I'm glad because it forced me to finally start working on a novel. I just wanted to finish it because I knew I had one in me, and I didn't want that deathbed-regret of feeling that I was so lame, I couldn't finish a book. Fortunately, that book got finished and was good enough for an agent to take on, and fortunately it was the right agent. Sometimes I feel bummed that I didn't go back to fiction much earlier, so that by now I'd have a few novel under my belt, but then again, I think "The Beginning of After" is the kind of story you have to grow into. Who knows what kind of awful crap I would have written in my 20's!

You've worked quite a bit with teen-related sites. How have your experiences with these impacted your writing?
Creating media for young people, whether it's content on a website or a book or whatever, forces you to stay tapped into that part of yourself that's forever sixteen years old. Most of my work has involved what they call "psycho-social issues" or "life skills," and I've learned a lot about the things we all struggle with emotionally when we're teens. Then, of course, you realize that you never stop struggling with many of these issues, you just get better at handling them or have new ways to deal. But they stay with you for life, and they continue to fascinate me. So I'm always interested in writing about the daily in's and out's of becoming who we really are, interacting with the people around us, discovering how we can lay down an authentic path in the world. It may not seem exciting, on the outside, as creating a dystopian future or alternate reality in fiction, but for me, the possibilities are endless.

The Beginning of After has evolved since its initial inspiration in 2001. How has Laurel and her story changed since you first came up with the idea?
Originally, I wasn't writing a Young Adult book. I was going to tell Laurel's story in three parts, spanning the years after the accident, through college, and into her early 20's. But I was really flailing and the story had no focus, except for the relationship with David whenever he dropped in. So I had an epiphany one day that Laurel's story could be told in a much shorter period of time because the most interesting part of it was the months after the accident. The story really changed from portraying Laurel's path into adulthood and a future shadowed by tragedy, into the aftermath of the accident and how Laurel's world was suddenly altered in every way. Which makes for a much better book, I think. Sometimes I feel that I prefer reading YA to "adult" fiction because everything in YA is so immediate. There's no B.S. It gets straight to the heart of things!

What did you learn while researching for The Beginning of After?
Well, the biggest and most important thing I learned is that everybody deals with grief differently. That gives you a ticket to freedom, as a writer, because I just had to focus on creating realistic characters, then be true to those characters in the way they grieve. The other big thing I learned, and continue to learn, is that people have amazing abilities when it comes to survival and hope and love. They find a way to go on after the most horrible, tragic things happen. It's incredible.

In the aftermath of Laurel's loss, people begin to treat her differently, and she falls into a depression. What difficulties did you encounter while developing her character and portraying her in a realistic and compelling manner?
In earlier drafts of the book, Laurel was pretty passive. Everything was happening "to" her. She just sucked it up way too well. Even though I wanted her to be bottling up many of her emotions in order to get through each day, and I felt this was realistic, as a writer you also have to think about what's going to annoy or frustrate the reader. So slowly, I let Laurel be angry, and selfish, and really lose it (especially when it comes to David). That ended up giving her a lot of dimension and an extra layer of realism, and I loved her so much more after she got a little more badass.

Laurel and David's relationship is complex, as they both grieve for their families, but it was David's father behind the wheel. The emotions they convey are powerful and relatable. What went into the dynamics of their relationship to help the two make a connection that is so real and there?
That's a tough question! This is going to sound really flaky but I think it was just a perk of having lived with the characters for so long and really knowing them. Whenever I put them together in a scene, they would just talk on their own and I was doing little more than taking dictation. While I was making Laurel a tougher and more assertive in later drafts, I was also making David more sympathetic. They had to match or complement each other at any given time, so going by that rhythm really helped me create the relationship.

I love animals and was drawn into Laurel's experience at the Ashland animal hospital. Did you always plan for her work with animals?
I did. When I first started thinking about this story, I was heavily involved with cat rescue in Los Angeles. I knew what working with animals did for me, and I saw what it did for many of the other volunteers who devoted time and energy -- sometimes their whole lives, it seemed -- to this passion. In some cases, I got the sense that the work with animals was compensating for a lot that was missing in someone's life. For me, personally, it gave me great rewards and fulfillment at a time when my professional life was not going so hot. So I wanted to explore that theme in a novel: the ability of animals to give you whatever it is you need, even though that's different for each person.

Could you tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel You Look Different in Real Life? How did you come up with the title?
But of course! It's about five teens who are the subjects of a documentary series that peeks in on their lives every five years. Now they're sixteen and the cameras are coming back for another film. What would you do? Would you change your life so it looked better on camera? Would you feel you were living for yourself, or for other people's expectations? And how does a documentary film affect the relationships between the people who are the subjects? Hmmm. The book is a chance for me to explore all that, and also to write in a totally different, much funnier and sarcastic voice. Nobody dies in this novel, but there's plenty of drama. The title was something my husband suggested after a very long and crazymaking struggle to find one that fit the tone of the book. "You look different in real life" is something people might say to these characters and the characters to one another, but it's also something that applies to all of us. We all live partly in the media -- on Facebook or YouTube or blogs, etc. The version of ourselves that we broadcast to the world doesn't always resemble the version we see in the mirror. Ah, this stuff is so juicy. I'm really excited about the new book and can't wait for it to come out next summer!

Me too. I loved The Beginning of After and cannot wait to read You Look Different in Real Life!

Jennifer's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Jennifer Castle's first novel, The Beginning of After, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a 2011 ABC New Voices "outstanding debut." When she's not writing, you will often find her in a swimming pool, underneath a cat, or speaking before thinking. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and two daughters; her second novel, You Look Different In Real Life, will be published by HarperTeen in Summer 2013.

Jennifer Castle has generously donated a signed copy of The Beginning of After for one lucky international winner! The giveaway is open through September 3rd.

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

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Review - Confessions of an Angry Girl

Monday, August 20, 2012
Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1)
by Louise Rozett

Publication: August 28, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some CONFESSIONS to make... #1: I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

#2: I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who "might" be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

#3: High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry-get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.) (Sorry. That was rude.)

Rose has a very real voice for a freshman girl in high school. While there are those like her best friend Tracy who think about sex and popularity, there are the quiet ones like Rose who don't see the point in sex, especially with a guy like Tracy's jerk of a boyfriend. Rose sees the reality of high school life, which is what makes her a bit of an outsider. Still, she's naive in her own way. Although she knows that Jamie has a bit of a bad reputation and has a bitchy girlfriend who will make Rose's life miserable if she continues to get involved with Jamie, she goes for him. Which makes her a bit of a hypocrite--okay, an actual hypocrite--for pointing out to Tracy that her boyfriend is cheating her her.

Rose's life is complicated, as is that of so many characters in this book. Even the homecoming queen, a sweet girl with a future, has a somewhat broken relationship in that her boyfriend isn't very nice and went to work immediately after his graduation. While the angry in Rose doesn't come out in full force often, it is a constant presence in her life. She is tired of her mother not being fully there, and she constantly misses her dad and the security his presence brought. Her brother seems to be finally moving on in life, which she doesn't want to see, and her best friend is worrying about bizarre things like sex when it seems obvious to Rose that sex isn't an option at their age. She doesn't have an anchor in her life, which is probably why she is so quick to latch onto Jamie, who she's been crushing on for a while now and who is starting to notice her and say nice things to her.

I have no idea where Rose and Jamie's relationship will be going, but I don't really approve of any relationship between them. Jamie knows that his girlfriend is a bitch and that a friend asked him to take care of his little sister, but he still makes a move on said little sister--and without breaking up with his girlfriend. He isn't even sure what he expects from Rose. I do not approve of this. It's not respectful for the girl or himself, and sad as it is for Rose, he deserves what happens to him at the end of the book. As naive as Robby can be, he does respect and understand Rose more... despite what she finds in the glove compartment of his father's car when he takes her to homecoming in it. He does know how to keep his distance, and he's there when he needs her. (Note: I'm saying this after I read the book. When I did read the book, I saw him through Rose's eyes and with her emotions and didn't like him very much.)

This is a brilliant, insightful book into the gritty of the relationships and workings of high school life. I loved to hate on many characters, and yet I couldn't help but be drawn to some of them. Confessions of an Angry Girl is a an emotionally charged novel and one that I would recommend to high school girls. Just be warned that there is sex, talk of sex, talk of pregnancy, drinking, bullying, and a lot of cheerleader bitchiness (though some, maybe one or two, are nice. I know that are are lots of nice cheerleaders out there. Just not in this book).

Come back Wednesday for an author interview with Louise Rozett and a giveaway of Confessions of an Angry Girl!

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 - Palace of Stone

Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)
by Shannon Hale

Publication: August 21, 2012
Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should" help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city.

Miri's story didn't leave Shannon Hale, so she wrote a sequel. Yay! I adored Princess Academy and its sweet ending. Much more than that, I love Shannon Hale's writing and decided to place my trust in her and read this as a separate book with the power to stand on its own. I'm delighted to say that I love this book in its own way.

Miri is still in the process of growing up. While the Princess Academy has educated her and she threw a revolution of sorts at Mount Eskel when she convinced the villagers to demand fair trade for the linder that they quarry, she is still a teenage girl and human. Her emotions are conflicted. Since Peder kissed her cheek, making his feelings for her clear, they haven't had any romantic encounters. Girls are getting betrothed back home, but they haven't had any progress in their relationship.

When some of the girls of Princess Academy go down to Asland to help Britta prepare for her wedding, Miri also pursues a further education, and Peder goes with them for an apprenticeship as a stone cutter. The girls learn about many things that have evaded Mount Eskel for centuries. The girls pursue their various interests, and Miri learns more about life in Asland. At the academy, Miri meets a young man involved with a revolution that is sparking in Asland, and he introduces her to people working at the heart of it. His interest and attention to her gives her tingles and almost makes up for Peder's detachment; however, she still cannot forget the boy she grew up with.

I wasn't happy with Miri's actions for much of the book. She gets in much trouble with her inconsistency and indecision. However, she's a teenage girl upon whom much burden and hopes are placed. Everyone believes that she can come up with a solution to their woes, and she doesn't believe she can live up to their expectations. It is in Asland that Miri first encounters the idea of Ethics and finds herself troubling over an ethical issue, as she considers the problem of who Mount Eskel should side with (the revolutionaries or the crown) with the newly made province's may lose its new wealth.

Over the course of the novel, Miri learns more about herself and who she wants to be. Revolution, love, and questions of morality come together in Palace of Stone as the girls of Mount Eskel bring change to the kingdom of Asland. I would recommend this quaint and inspiring book to fantasy readers of all ages.

Come back Friday for an author interview with Shannon Hale on the Palace of Stone blog tour and the chance to win a copy of the book!

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.