A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Interview with Author Robin Brande & Fat Cat Giveaway!

Robin Brande is a former trial attorney who is also the author of the young adult novel Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. Robin was herself an overweight teen, and knows that a smart girl can figure out a smart way to be fit. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

I am thrilled to welcome Robin Brande to my blog. Robin stopped by to discuss Fat Cat, a smart and funny story about healthy eating and the way young women feel about their bodies. Fat Cat was recently released in October and you can read my review of the novel HERE.

Fat Cat is about an overweight teenage girl who makes some simple dietary changes in her life and finds out that healthy eating and exercise really do have benefits. Is there any one message you would like teens to take away from your book and possibly apply to their lives?

Honestly, the message was as much for me as for anyone else! I was curious about how it would feel to really go back to basics—I mean, WAY basics (as in prehistoric times) and live a much simpler life. I wondered whether giving up all processed food and a lot of the technology and modern conveniences we depend on now would make any difference in my life. Oh, boy, did it. I went into that book innocently thinking it would turn out one way, and instead both the book and my own habits took a major shift that I didn’t expect at all! So now both my main character, Cat, and I have come out of the experiment changed women. You just never know what will happen when you sit down to write a novel.

In recent interviews, you’ve stated you did everything Cat did in the book such as giving up processed food, artificial sweeteners and cooking more. Can you discuss that experience with us- perhaps tell us what was the hardest thing to give up was and what positive changes you saw from the process?

THE hardest thing for me to give up was coffee. My love for Starbucks goes deeper than I knew. So I’ll admit that once I turned in the book, I returned to my coffee habit. But hey, it’s only one cup a day, so I don’t think I’m too desperate.

Other than that, I have to say there were times when I really, really missed chocolate and cookies and all the other fun comfort foods we all love to turn to as some sort of loving gesture to our taste buds and stomachs. But even those cravings went away eventually, and I came to truly love the simplest of foods: beans, greens, grains, and fruit. It’s possible I’ve even made up a little song about that. But let’s move on . .

In a world where women are bombarded by the media with images of manufactured beauty and perfection, what would you say to all the girls in Cat’s shoes who struggle with self image and confidence issues?

First of all, I’d say that I’ve been Cat, I am Cat, I know Cats—so, so many girls and women out there are in constant warfare against their bodies and their looks. It hurts me to know all the mean things I’ve thought and said about myself. I know a lot of other people can relate to that. It’s so easy to attack ourselves for not being as pretty as the actresses and models we see every day. We forget that a lot of the images we see are photoshopped and otherwise altered, and that a lot of actresses wish they could eat normally, the way the rest of us do!

On the other hand, I really appreciate the strong, fit, healthy-looking women out there who show us what’s possible. I love watching the Olympics for that reason: there are athletes who have devoted themselves to making the most of their physical form and talents. I might never be able to do as much as they do, but I love to know what’s possible for humans.

So I guess my answer is, choose your role models well. Personally, I love to pretend I’m Xena, Warrior Princess, or Meryl Streep in River Wild. Those are the kinds of strong, healthy women I want to emulate. The models I see on Project Runway? Mm, not so much.

One of my favorite characters in fact cat was Cat’s best friend Amanda. Amanda was loyal, supportive, stylish and so talented- everything a girl could want in a best friend! Do you draw from your own experiences and the people in your life when constructing the characters within your novels?

I’m so glad you loved Amanda—she’s one of my favorite characters ever! She’s based in part on my own best friend that I’ve had since high school. What I’ve always appreciated about her is how completely supportive she’s always been, how accepting of me no matter what I looked like or what I did, and how ready she is to always cheer me on. Like a lot of us, I’ve had friends in the past who were competitive and snarky and always willing to cut me down. I have no idea why I ever became friends with anyone like that, but I’m hoping I have the sense never to do it again!

What do you think Cat’s theme song would be if you had to choose one in particular for her?

I love that question! I think there’s a lot of truth for Cat in “Through the Fire” by Chaka Kahn. And I think she could also relate to “Realize” by Colbie Caillat.

Do you have a favorite quote/passage/scene from Fat Cat? If so, can you share it with us?

It’s totally a personal thing, but I crack up every time I read Amanda’s line, “Is carpeting allowed?” As for favorite scenes, my heart goes pitter-patter every time I reread the Valentine scene. Sigh . . . Oh, and I get a real guilty pleasure out of all the Nick scenes. So I guess you could say I like a lot of different parts!

What upcoming projects can we look forward to from you?

I’m deeply into the research for my next novel right now, trying to learn as much as I can about quantum physics, string theory, and nonlinear mathematics. Yes, this one will be a romantic comedy, too. Trust me, and stay tuned!

I loved these questions! Thank you so much!!!!!


FAT CAT
BY ROBIN BRANDE


You are what you eat. . . .

Cat smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

***CONTEST***

Robin has graciously offered to give one lucky winner their choice of either an AUDIOBOOK or HARDCOVER copy of the book!

To Enter:
Leave a comment for Robin about the interview or her novels

Bonus Entry:
Link/Post to any social network of your choice

This contest is open to all US entrants
End Date: 12/22/2009

Winner of Coffeehouse Angel

Congratulations to Eleni from La Femme Readers - she won a copy of
Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors!
Hope you enjoy the book Eleni! Thanks to everyone who entered and check back soon for more contests!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SWOON Six-Month Anniversary Event & Contest!


SWOON Six-Month Anniversary Event!
An Intimate Interview with Sin & Dice
by Nina Malkin

SWOON—a novel of possession, betrayal, revenge, obsession and pure, impossible love—celebrates its sixth-month anniversary this month. Protagonists Sinclair Youngblood Powers (aka Sin) and Candice Regan Dice Moskow (aka Dice), and author Nina Malkin, hail BOOK BUTTERFLY for hosting this Q&A, as well as all SWOONIES for their continued interest, enthusiasm and general passion for our story. SWOON has proven to be a success thanks to readers and bloggers who found it, loved it, and shouted from the (metaphorical) rooftops that it must be read. We hope you’ll continue to spread the word on SWOON...but right now, ask away…

Aurora: Sin, Dice, if you could choose only three words to describe your feelings for each other, what would they be?

Dice: Whoa, just three? Sin, you want to go first?

Sin: No, no, ladies first, always.

Dice: Gee, thanks. All right. My feelings for Sin are intense…absolute….eternal...

Sin: Damn, woman! You took the best ones!

Dice: Oh, shut up—there are plenty of other adjectives.

Sin: Very well. I’d describe my feelings for Dice as boundless…primal… true…

Kate: I have a question for Dice. What is your biggest regret in regard to your relationship with Sin?

Dice: Well, some terrible things went down in the town of Swoon, CT, that Sin was responsible for—I regret I couldn’t prevent them. But as to our relationship, I have no regrets. None. I fell for Sin because I believed in his humanity from the get. Trouble was, it took him a minute to believe in it.

Sophia: Sin, do you have any regrets about what you did to the people of Swoon?

Sin: Indeed. I do now. But at the time—and I say this not as excuse, only as explanation—I was a monster, slavering, soulless, intent only on revenge.

Dani: If you could, would you go back and change anything?

Sin: The “correct” answer, the one that would heighten my approval rating, is “yes, of course.” Only I cannot honestly utter it. People were hurt because of me; people died. But that was their destiny. I’ve come to accept that much is beyond my will, that certain events are fated.

Carrie: I have a question for Sin. If you were given the choice to either go back in time and live out a normal life with Hannah in the past, or continue having a future with Dice in the present, who would you choose to spend your life with and why?

Sin: An easy one, dear lady: I would spend my future with Dice. Because she is the woman I now love, and together we have been through so much, but also because if I learned one thing from my latter day experience in Swoon it is that the past is past.

Brittany: Sin, if you, Dice and Hannah were in the same time, who would you be more attracted to?

Sin: Interesting prospect, Brittany! Let us assume we were all at a party. Hannah—that coppery hair, that silvery laugh—likely would have caught my attention first. She was, not solely by 18th century standards, an accomplished flirt, a lady who hadn’t much in terms of wealth or status but knew full well she could beguile any man. Perhaps we might have chatted, danced a reel. Yet were Dice in the same room, I couldn’t have fully focused on Hannah. Quietly, forcefully, Dice would have called to me, and surely I would have heeded that call.

Fantastic Book Reviews: This question is for both Sin and Dice: What do you like most about each other and what annoys you the most?

Dice: Ha! Sin? Annoying? Just that he’s got an ego the size of Jupiter. As to what I like best, I’d have to answer in threes. When Sin was a ghost, I fell for his charm and wit, his mischievous nature, although it came out through my cousin in some scary ways. In golem mode, his conviction was so strong—twisted as it was, I had to admire that. And as a boy? My boy? The way he loves love. To Sin, love rules. At his core, that’s what he’s always been about.

Sin: Another facile one. Her nobility. Dice…what’s the expression? Dice does not play. She does not tweak things to her own advantage. She is honest, forthright. I know that however I may come to her, whatever I may do, she will treat me squarely and consider what’s best for all, even if that means putting herself last. Of course, I suppose that’s what’s most vexing about her, too. When you love someone who’s truly inherently honorable...let’s just say Dice sets the bar rather high.

Cassie: Sin, when you were in control of Pen’s body, were you able to communicate with her? It seemed like there were times when she was “herself.”

Sin: I was conscious of Pen every moment I possessed her, but she wasn’t aware of me, at least as far as I could tell. Much of my time inside her—when she was, as you say, herself—I was busily absorbing 21st century society, learning the ropes as it were. And I was also…well, plotting…

Jess: Sin, what did you love the most about being in the present time period (besides Dice, of course)? Were there things you really hated?

Sin: The endless array of choice is incredible. A dozen different flavors of Gatorade! A dozen Gatorade alternatives! We did not have electrolyte replacement in the 1700s. Aside from that, technology, which I deem a blessing and a curse. It makes for such convenience, yes, but at what cost? Often, Dice and I will get questions to our romance counseling service about whether or not to “text” someone, and frankly it rankles me. Why text when you can talk, when you can touch? Put down the damnable gadget and look into your true love’s eyes!

Kim: What was the full significance of the spanking in the corn maze? Sin, were you trying to show Dice the control you had over her heart?

Sin: Ah, the infamous spanking scene! Yes, Kim, you’re partially correct. I did put Dice across my knee to demonstrate authority—although it was a front, of course; I had no dominion over her, and she had it all over me…she simply didn’t know that yet. I sought to bend her to my will, so that she might not discover her power.

Dice: Only that’s not all. See, Sin’s “crime” was forcing people to confront aspects of their natures that they hid from the world and from themselves. With the spanking, he was simply showing me that I had that in me—me, who was so tough, so street, secretly longed to be humbled. Sin gave me a bliss I’d never willingly admit to wanting. That’s why, afterwards, I was so furious—and so euphoric.

Anonymous: Dice, how is Pen doing in the aftermath of everything that happened while Sin was around?

Dice: I appreciate your asking. Some people think SWOON is the story of Sin and me, but it’s Pen’s story, too. As for how she is, she’s Pen! You know, Rubber Girl, she could bounce back from anything unscathed. Right now she’s at UConn, she thinks she may become a kindergarten teacher—which of course she’d be great at. Oh, and she cut her hair—she’s got a full-on pixie, and it looks great.

Faith: I have a question for Dice: Do you think Ruby really wanted you to drink that concoction you guys were brewing up with all the dangerous items that would’ve killed you?

Dice: Oh…Ruby. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. I think Ruby was lonely, and she really missed me—she was trying to seduce me in a way; she just wanted me with her. I loved Ruby, love her still, but she was that particular kind of damaged person who could never cop to her shit, take responsibility. It was always other people to blame: guys, her mother, me.

Anonymous: Dice, what was it like to fall in love at last sight instead of first? What was it like to have Sin walk out on you? And Sin, why did you leave Dice? Will you ever come back to her?

Dice: Ladies first, I assume?

Sin: Indubitably.

Dice: Okay…umm, it’s complicated. Much as I loved Sin when we were technically together, I loved him more the second I realized it could no longer be that way. My love became too big for my body, too big for my brain and my heart. The way I feel now—the way Sin and I are now—it’s like a bruise that won’t heal. A love bruise, in a special place. Every time I touch it, it hurts. And that’s a good thing…

Sin: You see, Dice and I are not apart; we’re just not together in the literal sense. Our bond is akin to that between a soul in life and a soul in death—very deep, very intricate, more acute, perhaps, than a traditional face-to-face relationship. It’s true that I ache for Dice in the flesh; I ache for her tangibly, her breath, her kiss—I do. But this is what we have now. I do not question it. I cherish it.

Trista: Sin, where did you go? Are you coming back?

Sin: Ah, Trista, let me see if I can—

Dice: Sin, wait. Trista, look, we get this question a lot. But like you, I’m a big reader. And I’ve found some books tie up nice and neat at the end, and that’s fine. SWOON isn’t that kind of book,. The finale is ambiguous so that the “what happened?” becomes yours to decide. The story stays with you, and belongs to you; you become part of the process, and can make up endless endings. “The End” is not the end…

Nia: So is there going to be sequel to SWOON?

Sin: Another oft-posed question. The simple answer is no—at the moment there is no plan for an ink-and-paper sequel. Dice and I cannot fathom why; the novel is successful—multiple printings, some fifty thousand copies in circulation, various international sales—and our website and love advice column consistently get hits. Yet the publisher hasn’t commissioned the sequel readers crave. Still, SWOON the sequel, indeed SWOON the series, does exist, as it pertains to what Dice just said about our story existing, persisting, insisting in the minds of readers. So we call upon you to make it up, pass it on, turn it into something sweeping and viral. Since I assure you, for us, Dice and I and you, the saga most certainly continues.

Thank you to Sin and Dice for stopping by to answer these questions!

**CONTEST**

Nina Malkin has graciously agreed to give away one signed, personalized copy of

SWOON

to a lucky winner!


TO ENTER:

Leave a comment about the interview or the book

BONUS ENTRIES:

+1 Did you ask Sin & Dice an interview question in my previous post? Let me know in your comment.

+1 Promote this post on any social network of your choice (twitter, facebook, myspace, etc) You get one bonus entry for everyplace you link/post to.

Contest Ends 12/17 and is open to all US and Canadian residents only. Thank you!
**NOTE: THIS CONTEST HAS CLOSED**


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

COFFEEHOUSE ANGEL BY SUZANNE SELFORS
Publication Date: August 21st 2009 by Walker & Company

SYNOPSIS: From the author of Saving Juliet comes a romantic comedy that is good to the last drop. When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . .

REVIEW: Much like a steaming hot cup of your favorite java, Coffeehouse Angel is a comforting, light hearted novel perfect for sitting back and savoring the moment with. One early morning, Katrina, a young teenager, looks out the window of her grandmother's coffeehouse and sees a homeless man sleeping by the dumpster. Katrina selflessly takes pity on him and brings him a cup of coffee along with something to eat. Unbeknownst to her, the man is not homeless. He is really a handsome messenger angel named Malcolm who is merely resting in between assignments. Katrina's selfless good deed earns her the right to her heart’s most intense desire. Sounds like a dream right? But if you only had one wish, would you really know what you wanted most to use it on?

Although a bit meek at times, Katrina’s caring, sweet nature did make her very lovable. I also thought her character was highly relatable when it came to comparing herself with her overachieving classmates and best friends. At one time or another most girls can probably relate to the problems Katrina had. There is so much pressure on teens to know “what you want to do” with the rest of your life and I thought Selfors did a great job delving into those feelings and issues. This is a great passage from the book that provides quite a bit of insight into the pressures kids face today -


"Our main focus as teenagers, according to just about everyone, is to jam-pack our lives with activities so that we can get into an Ivy League college and therefore succeed in life. Because that's the way it works. Weak application = crappy college. Crappy college = crappy job. Crappy job = crappy life. In other words, poverty, alcoholism, obesity, and depression. It's enough stress to make your hair fall out."
The idea of a celestial or supernatural creature who comes along and grants wishes is one I have read about in other stories and folk tales. But Suzanne Selfors has definitely made Coffeehouse Angel her own with the picturesque, Scandinavian town of Nordby, a quirky cast of lovable characters and a heart warming, heavenly infused budding romance between a messenger angel and a kind hearted teenager. The cultural aspects of the town of Nordby really gave Coffeehouse Angel a little something extra special too. I enjoyed the fairy tale inspired locale with cuckoo clocks and painted murals on the buildings, instead of your average American city. I also loved reading about Christmas traditions like the peanut butter filled pine cones and the Solstice Festival. One thing I couldn't quite wrap my palette around were the eggs in the coffee and the sardine sandwiches though!

Although the tone of the story is light hearted, there are deeper lessons of forgiveness and self identity in Coffeehouse Angel. One of the underlying themes seemed to be that if you were always wishing for something better, what kind of life is that? Katrina knows her grandmother’s business is in danger of going under at any minute. Does she want to use her one wish to save the coffeehouse? I liked Katrina’s growth process and how in the end, she didn’t wait for a wish to come around and magically make things happen for her. For me, that was the best part of the novel.

Coffeehouse Angel is the perfect book to curl up alongside with on a rainy dreary day. It will infuse your heart with warmth and make you smile. So go on and take a sip of this feel good, coming of age romance. You won’t be disappointed.


Born in Munich, Germany in 1963, Suzanne attended Bennington College and graduated with honors from Occidental College in Documentary Film Production. She received an MA in Communications from the University of Washington. She lives with her husband on an island in Washington state where they are raising two children, a dog, a cat, and a flock of messy chickens. To learn more about Suzanne, visit her at her Official Website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner

THIEF EYES
BY JANNI LEE SIMNER
PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 27TH 2010 (Random House)

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.

When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

Janni Lee Simner brings the fierce romance and violent passions of Iceland's medieval sagas into this twenty-first-century novel, with spellbinding results.


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event spotlighting upcoming releases we are highly anticipating. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.



Monday, November 23, 2009

Character Interview with Ever from the Immortals Series!

Today, I'd like to welcome Alyson Noel, author of numerous books for teens and adults. She is the bestelling author of Evermore, the first book in the Immortals Series and it's follow up, Blue Moon, which has garnered numerous praise and debuted at #1 on The New York Times Bestseller List. Shadowland, the highly anticipated third installment in the Immortals is in stores now! To celebrate the release of Shadowland, Alyson has graciously agreed to answer questions in character as EVER from The Immortals series!

Ever, you suffered a near-death experience, only to awaken with psychic powers. All of a sudden you had the ability to do things like hear other people’s thoughts and know their life story by touch. What would you say is the best thing about having psychic powers and also, what is the worst?

Well, when I first woke up and realized what happened I was horrified. I was sure I was being punished for causing the accident that killed my entire family. But now that I’ve moved past all of that, I have to say that I do like seeing auras because it gives me a hint as to how people are feeling, and I love being able to communicate telepathically with Damen! Though I’m still really uncomfortable with hearing random thoughts. Sometimes even your best friends think some not so kind things about you and it requires a pretty thick skin, or, in my case, a really strong shield and quantum remote!

If you were given the opportunity to see Riley once more, but only for a very brief moment, what would you want to tell her?

Oh, I think about this everyday! I think about her everyday. And sometimes I miss her so much I can’t stand it. I guess I’d just want her to know just that—that I love her and miss her and think about her all the time, and also how sorry I am for keeping her with me for as long as I did and not letting her move on with her afterlife. I’d also want to tell her to not worry about me—because even though I can’t really see her, I sometimes get the feeling that she’s trying to reach me—and, well, I just want her to know that while I may be making mistakes, I’m also learning from them, so just to get on with having the best afterlife that she can, and hopefully, someday, we’ll find a way to see each other again.

What do you miss most about your family? If you had one more day with them, how would you spend it?

I miss the times that I took for granted before. You know, the small moments you never really pay attention to until they’re gone forever. Listening to Riley sing along to her iPod in the car—her voice all screechy and loud and off key; going on long walks with Buttercup and my dad; helping my mom make her special recipe brownies; and just knowing that they were always there for me when I needed them—even when I thought that I didn’t.

What in your opinion is the greatest thing about that mystical place called Summerland?

In a word—everything! Seriously, between the manifesting, the Great Halls of Learning, that vast fragrant field—it’s all good! Damen was right, it’s magical and addictive, and sometimes I’m tempted to ditch all my problems and live there forever. But I can’t, it’s not right. Tempting, but not right.

If you had the option of picking one famous person throughout history that you wouldn’t mind coming back to reincarnate as, who would you choose and why?

Marie Antoinette because her life was so fascinating and glamorous and filled with drama and excitement, and even though it ended tragically, knowing what I know now, that death isn’t really the end, I think I could get through it as brave as she did. Also, since she and Damen were friends, I’d still get to hang out with him!

Since this is a book blog, I have to ask you, what are your favorite novels? Is there one book you’ve read so many times, but will never get tired of?

I love old Gothic romances, and I’ve read WUTHERING HEIGHTS, JANE EYRE, REBECCA, and my mom’s old Victoria Holt novels so many times it’s kind of embarrassing!

What are your thoughts on physical immortality – would you say that it is more of a burden or a gift?

I’m not sure I’ve been at it long enough to say for sure! I mean, the idea of living forever right here on Earth still feels a little surreal to me. But when I listen to Damen’s stories of hanging out with people as varied and diverse as Michelangelo, Einstein, and The Beatles—well, that really does seem pretty cool!

But then, when I think about all the good-byes I’ll have to say to Sabine, Miles, and Haven and anyone else I become friends with—well, let’s just say I’m really dreading that part . . .

Can you give us your thoughts on the obstacles you and Damen are going to be facing in Shadowland?

Well, as you know, I messed up. Big time. But still, I really didn’t have much of a choice! I mean, Damen was clearly dying—he was pale, weak, barely breathing—you should’ve seen him! And Rayne was totally creeping me out with the way she was hovering over him and telling me not to come inside her little magick circle! Not to mention how she’s never been very nice to me and how, well, how just plain weird she is. And, btw, I’m still not convinced I can trust her—but don’t tell her I said that even though she probably already knows. But anyway, since Roman was the only one with a real and quick solution, I really felt I had no choice but to take the gamble. I mean, seriously. What would you do? Your sixteen, your soul mate is dying, and you have only a handful of seconds to decide whether to trust creepy person number one or creepy person number two—anyway, the thing is—I didn’t totally lose, because it did work! Damen didn’t die. Well, maybe he did, but it was only temporarily, and I brought him right back which was the whole point, right? Now I just have to find a way to tell him what I did (so not looking forward to that!), and as soon as that’s done, I have to find a solution because there’s no way Roman is winning this one. He may have got me at my weakest, most vulnerable, fear and guilt riddled moment, but I’m stronger now. I’m no longer that girl. I’m not saying I’ll never make another mistake, but what I am saying is that Roman better watch his back . . .

Thank You Ever (and Alyson) for stopping by. And if you would like to read something else really fun, check out Fantastic Book Review's Interview with DAMEN!


Shadowland by Alyson Noel
Publication Date: November 17th 2009

At the start of this breathtaking novel, Damen and Ever travel to Summerland in search of an antidote to reverse a powerful poison. But instead of the cure they seek, they find something far more sinister: the truth about their existence and the fate lying in wait of an immortal’s soul.

Now, with Damen fighting to save them from the Shadowland, Ever turns to magick, hoping to break Damen’s curse. Along the way Ever encounters the mysterious Jude, finding herself drawn to him in a way that will test her love for Damen like never before . . .

For more information on Alyson and her novels, please visit her Official Website, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and her Blog!

You can purchase Shadowland HERE.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Winner Announcement!

Winner of Laurie Faria Stolarz Prize Pack!

Thanks to everyone who entered this contest. The winner is--


Congratulations! I have emailed you. Please contact me within 72 hours to claim your prize.

And if you didn't win- check back because I have finished hardcover copy of Deadly Little Lies I will be giving away very soon!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book Review: Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

BETRAYALS BY LILI ST. CROW

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (November 17, 2009)
Language: English
Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble



She’s no angel . . .

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England School for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem— she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?


BETRAYALS grabs you by the collar and hurls you along at a frightening speed. It's jam packed with nonstop action, mystery, tension and even a hint of budding romance. If you enjoyed STRANGE ANGELS and have been looking forward to the sequel, BETRAYALS will not disappoint. The story picks up exactly where STRANGE ANGELS left off. Dru and Graves are supposed to be safe at The Schola, or to clarify, as safe as any place where supernatural creatures are congregated can possibly be. To make matters more complicated, Dru’s own powers are getting close to “blooming”. This frightening experience leaves Dru wondering if she can trust anyone, perhaps even her own self?

The world of STRANGE ANGELS really took shape for me in BETRAYALS and evolved in a deeply mesmerizing, impressive manner. I loved learning more about the supernatural creatures lurking within the Real World and the mythology behind their capabilities. In STRANGE ANGELS there was mostly black and white. Either you arer one of the things that go bump in the night and bad, or you are a “Hunter” and good. In BETRAYALS, we learn there were more shades of grey. Take for instance, the heartbreaking plight of the Broken. I loved this story thread and can’t wait to see what happens with a certain Broken wulfen in the next book.

Dru also evolved in BETRAYALS. She was her same stubborn self, but honestly, I’d hate to ever see her ever turn soft. I love how Dru is a strong, gutsy and smart heroine. If I was caught in a bad situation, I’d definitely want to her to have my back. But in this novel you also see more of the vulnerable girl hiding behind the tough fa├žade. This is a girl who has had to grow up so fast and has been constantly attacked, terrified and betrayed. It's no wonder she is the way the is. On a more lighthearted note, I desperately hope that Dru wake ups and smells the coffee, or shall I say -apple pie? In regards to Christophe, he was fascinating in the first book and I appreciated how we got to learn more about him as well as his dark past.

When you read BETRAYALS you are on pins and needles. The Schola, a small, isolated satellite school for delinquent wulfen and djamphir immediately made my skin prickle with nervousness. Knowing a traitor was lurking within the school’s walls only increased the mounting tension in the air. You just know that any minute the bell is going to alarm and all hell will break loose. And believe me, it sure does. Trusting the wrong person or being lulled into a false sense of complacency would be the end of Dru. I kept thinking that Dru might've been safer on her own- on the run. At least then, she’d always be sharp and ready for an attack. She’d know who was friend or foe. At the Schola, there are so many unanswered questions, conflicting behaviors and untold secrets, it’s almost impossible to know who to trust. But as a reader, that was part of the fun. I love being immersed in the novel and constantly being floored by all the unexpected twists and turns.

STRANGE ANGELS was a fantastic novel, but BETRAYALS blew me away and exceeded all my expectations by far.
The storyline was so complex and well written, it left me breathless for more.I loved the world that Lili St. Crow has created within this series. Be forewarned though- while many questions are answered, you will be left reeling with so many more. Jealousy, the third novel will be released June 2010.


Lili St. Crow is the YA pen name for Lilith Saintcrow. Lili lives in Vancouver, WA, with children, cats, and a host of other strays. You can find her at http://www.lilistcrow.com.






Contest Winners

I have some contest winners to announce!
For The Espressologist by Kristina Springer & $10 Starbucks Gift Card, the winner is

Shalonda!

For a copy of the September Sisters by Jillian Cantor, the winners are

Dena & Marilu!

Thanks to everyone that entered. I have emailed the winners. Please respond back with 72 hours to claim your prize! Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview with Laura Ruby and Bad Apple Giveaway!

Laura Ruby lives in Chicago with her family. She spent much of her misguided youth writing angry, angsty poems and dyeing her hair lots of colors not found in nature. She is the author of GOOD GIRLS and PLAY ME as well as several other books for children and adults.

I'm thrilled to welcome author Laura Ruby to my blog. Laura is the author of numerous books for children, teens and adults. She stopped by to talk about her latest novel, BAD APPLE, which is in stores now.

In BAD APPLE, sixteen year old Tola Riley is an outcast with her ever changing hair color and unorthodox clothing style. After being accused of having an affair with her favorite art teacher, Tola’s whole world is turned even more upside down from the scandal. Can you discuss how the idea for BAD APPLE evolved from a tiny spark into a full length novel?

I came to this story in a very long, roundabout sort of way. The earliest draft was written more than fifteen years ago, when I was very young. At the time, my family was a little like Tola’s in that there were divorces, remarriages, reconfigurations that were difficult for me to deal with. I rewrote the story many times over the years with the family issues in mind. I knew that children of divorce often seemed jaded and sarcastic, but so many – myself included – were secretly romantic. Secretly yearned for a fairy tale ending. So, I stumbled onto Tola’s fairy tale obsessions.

Again, however, that wasn’t enough to focus the novel. So, I worked on a number of other projects, including GOOD GIRLS, but then read an adult novel called THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT, which is about a woman who, when she was a teen, claimed she’d been kidnapped by a man and abused. Later, her therapist writes a book about the incident, claiming that she made the story up. BUT…did she? Or…? More than a decade later, she doesn’t even know for sure.

The book is the mutability of memory, and the way other people try to tell our stories for us, especially when we’re young. And sometimes the stories that people tell about us are so powerful, we forget our own version of our stories. We give up our identities to others. (Also, the title comes from another book, a work of non-fiction called THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT, which is a psychology book about the importance of fairy tales).

The author of this novel, Heidi Julavits, said that she had been inspired by another novel, IN THE LAKE IN THE WOODS, by Tim O’Brien, which is the story of a man who could have murdered his wife, but no one can prove it. This story is told in numerous, often contradictory viewpoints.

After reading these novels, I kept thinking about fairy tales and fairy tale tropes (such as poison apples), about crime and punishment, and about rumor. A number of YA novels had been written about student-teacher affairs, but I wondered what would happen if a girl with an already tarnished reputation was accused of an affair, but there was no real proof? How much chaos would ensue? How would her fractured family cope? How would such a girl explain herself when she’s long been thought a storyteller? And where would such a girl find her happy ending?

Tola is a sixteen year old girl with a razor sharp wit and an obsession with Brother’s Grimm fairy tales. With all the modern day remakes popping up in books and movies, why do you think people keep returning to the old fairy tales, even in today’s modern times?

One reason is the shared knowledge of them, I think. We all know the tales, we can all reference Little Red Riding Hood, or Snow White, or Cinderella. None of them require explanation.

I also think fairy tales are powerful because — as fantastical as they can be — they seem to be hyped-up and/or boiled down versions of modern situations. A girl who feels out of place in a new stepfamily can relate to Cinderella or Snow White. Any child who feels lost or abandoned gets Hansel & Gretel.

In BAD APPLE, Tola’s nemesis starts a slanderous website called “TruthAboutTolaRiley.com to hurt Tola’s credibility. In GOOD GIRLS, Audrey Porter is humiliated when a compromising photo spreads around like wildfire. What types of reflection and discussion are you hoping to initiate among young readers? If there was one message you'd want them to reflect upon and possibly apply to their lives, what would that be?

I do have an obsession with technology, no? Even in my second teen novel, PLAY ME, my main character is plagued by an internet troll who derails his hopes to win an MTV movie-making contest.

Okay, so what’s with all this internet/cell phone/troll stuff? What fascinates me isn’t so much that people use the technology for ill. Of course they do. In the age of paper and pens people wrote nasty notes, scrawled obscene things on bathroom walls, passed horrible gossip in the hallways or the lunchroom, etc. The thing that’s so different about today’s technology is twofold. 1) That people can remain anonymous, and that anonymity can lead people to say and do waaaaaay more vicious things than they might say/do in person, or if everyone knew where the rumors were coming from. And 2) the speed at which rumors/photos can make the rounds.

I have to admit that when I’m writing a book, I’m thinking less about lessons and messages readers could take away from the book and much more about telling a good story. But now that BAD APPLE is out, I guess I’m hoping that readers consider that a lot of what’s blaring around them — the texting, the twittering, the facebooking, the blogging, the trolling — is a great wall of noise. That the most important voice is your own, and you have to work hard to make sure it doesn’t get drown out by everyone else’s.

With the technology available to us today, it’s easy for people to hide behind screen names and become more vicious than ever with the types of lies and cyber bullying they can involve themselves with. Many teens (particularly young girls) have had to endure the stigma of having their reputation soiled by unfair rumor spreading. What advice would you offer a young girl in Tola's shoes?

I would say firstly, that the people who have a picture of you, or are spreading gossip about you do not own you. They have an image, or an idea of you, or a story about someone who looks like you, but it is NOT you. They don’t know what’s in your heart. They don’t know what’s in your head. Basically, they know squat.

Secondly, you have the option of turning it off and tuning it out. I know how hard this is. I used to read every comment, every review I could find about all my books. There are always people who won’t connect with your work and that’s fine, I don’t mind a critique. Every once in a while, however, someone would say something thoroughly horrible or nasty or incredibly weird and/or personal about me or something I’d written, and I would have nightmares over it. No matter how many nice things I’d read before, these little scraps of viciousness and disease would take over my thoughts, torturing me. A friend of mine said, “Uh, how about you stop reading all that crap?”

Oh.

At first, this seemed impossible. I thought I HAD to know what everyone was thinking. But I don’t. And neither do you. You can pick and choose who to read, who to listen to, who to value.

So, I’d set up boundaries as best you can. I’d erase vicious blog posts or disallow comments altogether if that’s what you have to do. Don’t friend people you don’t like, and unfriend people who are nasty. Don’t read vicious comments about yourself, don’t listen to crank calls, etc. If you stumble onto something, step away from the computer/phone. Refuse to “listen.” Change your cell phone number if you have to. Whatever it takes.

You are a successful author who has written in adult, children’s and teen genres. Out of all the novels you’ve written, from the collection of short stories in I'M NOT JULIA ROBERTS to the childrens novel THE CHAOS KING, is there one book that was your favorite to write? Which one, if any, was the most difficult to complete as well?

The weird thing about writing is that though you’d think you get better at it, each book is its own unique thing, has its own unique process. In other words, I don’t write in the same way twice. I’m Not Julia Roberts was eight years in the making. I spent that time writing and rewriting short stories, and then trying to fit them in the right order. I wrote the first draft of The Wall and the Wing, a fantasy for children, in just a few months. And, as I said earlier, the first pages of BAD APPLE were written in the mid-nineties.

But if I have to say which book was the hardest for me to write, I’d have to say THE CHAOS KING. It was a sequel to THE WALL AND THE WING, which I had a great time writing. But I’d never written a sequel before, and had the most difficult time trying to figure out how to get back into the story, how to view the characters, what the plot should be. After that experience, I have new respect for people who write series books. I can’t imagine doing that all the time.

As for the book that was my favorite to write, I’d have to say GOOD GIRLS. That book just flowed out of my fingers. Didn’t feel like work at all. And of course I have a soft spot for my first novel, LILY’S GHOSTS (a middle grade ghost story) just because I love ghost stories, and always will.

What type of feedback do you receive about your books from readers? Has there been one sentiment that especially touched you?

There was one girl who wrote me an email soon after the publication of GOOD GIRLS, something that has stuck with me for a few years now. She was only 13 years old, but she had experienced the same kind of humiliation that Audrey in my book had. She’d been taken advantage of, bullied, ostracized by friends and family. She said that when she read GOOD GIRLS, she got back a piece of herself, a little piece of herself that she didn’t even know was lost. I sometimes read her letter at conferences, and every time I do I have a hard time keeping my voice steady, I’m so moved by it.

Do you have any advice for all aspiring writers out there?

Just the boring stuff. Read everything you can. Even the stuff you don’t think you’ll like, cause you never know. And write, write, write. Practice! Make sure you finish what you start if you possibly can.

One more hint: read what you write aloud. You’ll hear repetitive words and phrases, clunky sentences, bad dialogue, boring spots, etc. so much more clearly when you read your work aloud. That’s something I try to do as much as I can.

Can you talk about any upcoming projects you are working on right now? What can we look forward to from you next?

Hmm. Well, I just finished a draft of a mystery for middle-schoolers, though I’m not sure how long it will take to polish it up. And I’m working on a sort of fantasy, sci-fi-ish adventure for teens. Another YA, a love story. And then a horror novel, also for teens. I’m not sure which of these I’ll settle into yet, which will pique my interest enough to follow through to the end. I guess it will just have to be a surprise. : )

BAD APPLE BY LAURA RUBY

Junior Tola Riley doesn’t care what people say about her. She knows her ever-changing hair color and goth clothes make her an easy target. Whatever. But the latest rumor is different.... The entire school believes she had an affair with her art teacher. The rumors may be a lie, but the fallout is all too real. Will Tola finally stand up for the truth?

With a heroine you'll root for and a truly relevant story, Laura Ruby has once again brought the authentic teen experience to life for readers who relish dark humor and razor-sharp wit.
You can read my review of Bad Apple HERE.
You can purchase Bad Apple HERE.

***CONTEST***

Laura has generously offered to give one signed copy of Bad Apple away to a lucky winner!!

To Enter:
Leave a comment for Laura

Bonus Entries:
Link/Post to any social network of your choice

Contest Ends:
December 13th at Midnight Eastern Standard Time
(US Only Please)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Iron King (Iron Fey, Book #1) by Julie Kagawa

This week's pre-publication book, I can't WAIT to read is-


The Iron King (Iron Fey, Book #1) by


Publication Date: February 2010 (Harlequin Teen)

Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.


Read an excerpt of The Iron King HERE!


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event spotlighting upcoming releases we are highly anticipating. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Get Ready to SWOON all over again!

In celebration of the six-month anniversary of Swoon, I am thrilled to announce that I will be featuring an interview with the novel's main characters, Sin and Dice (as moderated by author Nina Malkin).

This interview will post on Friday, November 27th, and kicks off a contest to win a personalized signed copy of Swoon.

If you've read the book and have any lingering questions for Dice or one of my favorite bad boys, Sin, well, here is your chance! Just leave a comment attached to this post with your questions. (You'll also get a bonus entry into the drawing for the book too!) We will try to include as many of your questions as possible in the interview.

So be sure to leave a question and don't forget to stop by to catch up with Sin & Dice!



SWOON by NINA MALKIN

What do you do when the boy of your dreams is too bad to be true?

by Sinclair Youngblood Powers

Welcome, dear reader, to our story. It’s the tale of the lovely Dice Moskow and the also lovely Pen Leonard—yet, truly, for the large part, it’s about me.

Sinclair Youngblood Powers.

Call me Sin.

For it is I who was unjustly condemned to death in the town of Swoon, Connecticut, in the year of Our Lord 1769. It is I who swore vengeance upon the place, and I who returns to latter-day Swoon, slipping without sanction into the unsuspecting vessel of Pen’s body, possessing her, using her as an instrument of retribution. And it is I who inveigles Dice to free me from that vessel, make me flesh once more, infuse me with great vigor and determination and…

Yes, I coerce Dice.

Yes, I defy her.

Yes, I betray her. I do.

Yet above and beyond all that I love her, and if you doubt it I beseech you to read this story, this SWOON, and find out for yourself if my love, her love, our love—impossible though it may be—is true.

You can read my review of Swoon HERE.

Author Interview with Rachel Vincent & Contest


Today I am thrilled to welcome New York Times Bestselling author Rachel Vincent. A native of the dust bowl, Rachel Vincent is the oldest of five siblings, and arguably the most outspoken of the bunch. She loves cats, devours chocolate, and lives on flavored coffee. Rachel’s older than she looks—seriously—and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

Rachel Vincent recently made her YA debut with "The Soul Screamers" series. My Soul to Take is the first novel in the series and is about a teenage bean sidhe (banshee) who is trying to make sense of the terrifying, hidden world she is immersed in, while still maintaining the normal high school existance of an American teenager.

My Soul to Take is about a normal high school girl named Kaylee who is trying to make sense of the terrifying world she belongs to, that of the bean sidhes (banshees). You did a lot of research on Irish folklore for this novel—can you share with us some of the most interesting bits you uncovered during the process?

I think the most interesting thing I learned was that originally, bean sidhes were supposed to have only wailed for one of the five major Irish clans. I couldn’t use that particular bit of information in the series (it was too limiting), but Kaylee’s last name (Cavanaugh) is a reference to one of those clans.

My Soul to Take
is the first installment in the Soul Screamers series. Since this novel was your first foray into young adult fiction, would you say it was more challenging to write than the urban werecat Shifter series?


Honestly, no. Overall, I’m finding the rough drafts of the Soul Screamers books to be a bit easier (or at least less stressful) to write than my adult books. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. So far, the first two in the series both went through a bit of an overhaul during the revisions. That was due almost entirely to my efforts to make sure the dialogue and perspective were appropriate for the younger cast of characters. Not too mature, but not dumbed down. It’s a very delicate balance, because teenagers are smart, and they’re perceptive. YA isn’t a watered down version of adult literature. It’s its own category, with a very specific audience. (Though a lot of adults read YA too.) And that audience has a built-in BS meter, which I’d really like to not-peg. ;-)

My Soul to Take was to be made into a movie, do you have anyone in particular you can picture playing the roles of Kaylee and Nash?


Um… I have yet to successfully fantasy-cast Nash. He’s eluding me, but I’m open to suggestions. ;-) As for Kaylee, the famous faces I pictured in the beginning have since matured beyond her age. So… a younger version of Alexis Bledel or Danielle Panabaker. Or maybe Sara Paxton, as a brunette.

My Soul to Save
, the second installment in the Soul Screamers series is scheduled to be released in December 2009. Can you tell us how many books we can expect in the series? Also do you have the entire series planned out and know how it will end?


So far, I’m contracted for a total of five books, and I’d be willing to do a couple more than that, if there’s enough reader demand. I do not have the entire series planned out, but I have book 4 plotted and several very vivid ideas for book five. And I can’t wait to write them!

Can you tell us a little about what we can expect to see next with the Soul Screamers series? What other projects are you currently working on?

In My Soul To Save, Kaylee, Nash, and Tod are trying to save a teenage pop star (yes, seriously) who’s sold her soul for fame and fortune. At first, they think she’s the stereotypical spoiled and rich starlet, but Kaylee’s determined to help her get her soul back, because she didn’t know what she was getting into when she sold it. But as the story progresses, they find out what this star is really made of, and the ending is something Kaylee didn’t see coming.

In this book, I really got to stretch my worldbuilding wings. Kaylee spends a lot of time in the Netherworld, which is absolutely my favorite setting to write about. And we get to learn a little more about Tod, and what he’s really capable of.

Right now, though, I’m working on the rough draft of ALPHA (fall, 2010), the sixth and final book in my (adult) Shifters series. And it’s quite a challenge, trying to satisfactorily wrap up all the loose ends and give everyone an ending worthy of the buildup.

Thank You Rachel for taking the time to stop by!


My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, Book 1)

She doesn't see dead people, but....

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next…

To learn more about Rachel and her books, visit her Official Website HERE.

To purchase My Soul to Take HERE.

CONTEST

Rachel has graciously agreed to give away one copy of

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, Book 1)

To Enter:

Please leave a comment for Rachel

Bonus Entry: Link/Post about this contest to any social network of your choice

Contest Ends:

December 8th 2009 (**Open Internationally to ALL!**)

NOTE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CURRENTLY CLOSED


Don't forget to stop by Fantastic Book Review and check out the Monday Madness!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: Fat Cat by Robin Brande

FAT CAT BY ROBIN BRANDE


You are what you eat. . . .

Cat smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

Aspiring scientist Catherine (Cat) Locke takes on an ambitious experiment for her high school’s prestigious science fair. Her project? To live the lifestyle of a primitive Homo erectus, using herself as the guinea pig. Cat’s determination is fueled both by a burning desire to outshine the guy who broke her heart and also to shed a few unwanted pounds. Can a junk food addicted, overweight American teen last 207 days without processed food, caffeine and artificial sweeteners?

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with images of manufactured perfection, this is a novel with a great message for women of all ages. Surgery, drugs or unhealthy eating disorders are not the answers. Oftentimes, simple dietary changes coupled with exercise can be all that it takes. It was refreshing to read such an honest, funny portrayal of what it’s really like to be a woman struggling with body image. I loved watching Cat's progression as the pounds began to shed and her confidence grew. You can’t help but read this book and reflect on your own lifestyle and what you are putting into your body too. On a personal level, this novel really made me more label conscious about what I was eating and I hope to adopt many of the great eating habits as long term dietary goals.

But the real beauty of Fat Cat is that it’s subtle and not in-your-face like so many books relating to diet and weight loss tend to be. You’re not stressed or overwhelmed with expensive, difficult to prepare meal plans and radical lifestyle changes. This quote from the back cover is actually what prompted me to pick up the book. I’m sure at one time or another most women have had thoughts like this and can relate to poor Cat-

It’s not that I’m hideous, but I’m also not stupid. I know how people see me. I might spend an hour every day straightening my hair and getting my makeup just right and picking out clothes that camouflage at least some of my rolls, but the truth is I’m still fat and everyone knows it. When I wake up in the morning it’s like I’m wearing this giant fat suit, and if only I could find the zipper I could step out of it and finally go start living my real life.”

I also want to mention the secondary characters of Fat Cat. This is one of the few novels I have read where the supporting characters had such distinct, three dimensional personalities that I found them to be just as interesting as the main character herself. My favorite was Amanda. She was the type of girl we all want as a best friend. Smart, stylish and oh so talented, Amanda was extremely loyal to Cat (even before Cat lost the weight). I loved how she stood by her best friend and was there to support and help her, no matter what. I also loved Mr. "I don't date during the school year", Nick. This is the type of boy you know is bad for you, but is so, so hard to stay away from. The scenes with him were so deliciously enjoyable to read, I almost wanted his interactions with Cat to continue on a bit longer. Almost. But truth be told, Matt was the boy who stole my heart, and for everyone who likes a good romance, Fat Cat won't disappoint in that aspect.
Robin Brande whips up the perfect mix of science, romance and humor with Fat Cat. It’s a transformative, entertaining story about a young woman who makes some really simple changes in her eating and exercise habits, and ends up altering her whole life. I fell in love with this novel right from the start. But under all the humor there is also a deep message about the way we live our lives and how sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Whether you are actively seeking new ways to stay healthy, or looking for a great YA read, Fat Cat is sure to be a hit with its sharp humor, lovable heroine and great storyline peppered with interesting "food" for thought!

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 037584449X
ISBN-13: 978-0375844492
Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million

Robin Brande is a former trial attorney who is also the author of the young adult novel Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. Robin was herself an overweight teen, and knows that a smart girl can figure out a smart way to be fit. She lives in Tucson, Arizona

To learn more about Robin, Visit her Official Website

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Winner of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

It's time to announce the winner of the contest for a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. And the winner is...


Congratulations Alyssa- I've already heard back from you and your book is on it's way!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall

EVA UNDERGROUND BY DANDI DALEY MACKALL


The year 1978 has been a pretty good one for Eva Lott. She has a terrific best friend, she's dating the best-looking guy in school, and she just made the varsity swim team. So when her widowed dad says it's time for them to move, she's not exactly thrilled. And when he tells her that he intends to move to Communist Poland to help with a radical underground movement...Well, it's all downhill from there.

Soon Eva has been transplanted from her comfortable Chicago suburb to a land that doesn't even have meat in its stores, let alone Peter Frampton records. And everywhere she goes, the government is watching. But Eva begins to warm to her new life. Sometime between eating lard on bread and dodging the militia, she makes a handsome new friend, Tomek. And soon she is wondering if maybe she's found home in the most unlikely of places.


It's 1978 and Eva Lott is just your average American teenager getting ready to start her senior year of high school. That is, until her dad drags her kicking and screaming to Communist Poland. He wants to help the local people with a radical underground literacy movement and Eva soon becomes a part of that world. She learns that the average Pole does not have basic freedoms and that their daily lives are downright dangerous at times. Forget about good old American pepperoni pizza, rock-n-roll and freedom of speech. The government is always watching and listening, ready to suppress and control. Most people are poor, with little coal to heat their homes and even less to eat. (To paint a picture for you, bread with lard is something of a delicacy!)

If you were in Eva's shoes, wouldn't you want to hop on the next flight out of the country and get back to the good old USA? That was Eva's plan. Until she met Tomek. Ah...Tomek! The handsome, moody and so intelligent boy who draws her into his world and captures her heart. Through their unusual friendship, Tomek opens Eva's eyes to the sheer beauty of the Polish country and the brave struggles of those fighting for freedom and independence within.

I absolutely fell in love with this book. I think the romantic cover captured my heart from the start! I really enjoyed Eva's progression from your typical self involved American teen to the soulful, passionate person she became during her time in Poland. My favorite aspect of the novel, however, was the manner in which Eva's and Tomek's relationship unfolded. The believable, interesting situations were all beautifully woven through Dandi Daley Mackall's skillful narrative. Alternating the chapters between Eva and Tomek's point of view was a smart move. I think it allowed for a deeper connection to both characters with the way we were able to get inside their different mindsets. If you do read this novel, just wait until you get to the "plum harvest". Those chapters were my absolute favorite. I can honestly say I still carry them with me in my heart.

In a 2006 interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Dandi Daley Mackall described how she based this book on her own experiences in Poland circa 1978. After reading Eva Underground, I could really appreciate the authenticity of the novel. It was evident to me that Mackall had her finger on the pulse of the Polish heart and soul. I also must admit, I knew little about what life was like in that tumultuous time period of history. Eva Underground really opened my eyes. I honestly felt like I was right there with Eva, suitcases in tote, following along in her footsteps. Eva Underground is a novel that should appeal to readers of all ages, with its romance, suspense and universal issues of freedom and hope.

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 256 Pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (March 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0152054626
ISBN-13: 978-0152054625 Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million

A professional writer for over 20 years, Dandi Daley Mackall has written dozens of articles for popular magazines and published around 400 books for children and adults alike, with sales of over 4 million. A frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, she lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, horses, dogs, & cats.

To learn more about the author, visit her Official Website.