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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Swan Kingdom Giveaway!

Hey guys!

I'm really excited--this is my first giveaway! Candlewick Press has generously donated 2 copies of The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marriott for a giveaway! If you haven't heard of The Swan Kingdom yet, read my review here!

You have until June 13th (midnight, EST) to enter for your chance to win a copy of this great version of the Wild Swans fairytale! Just leave a comment for this post w/:

- your name

- your e-mail

- and the title of your favorite fairytale retelling/novel!

If you post about this giveaway on your blog, myspace, etc, be sure to tell me in your comment so I can give you 2 extra entries!

The winner will be selected June 14th and annoucned then!

Sorry, this giveaway is only open to US and Canadian residents!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Interview with Ms. Jennifer Banash!

My thanks to the lovely Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite series (the first book hits book stores June 3rd!!) for this wonderful and hilarious interview! Thanks for taking the time out for this interview, Ms. Banash!

Don't forget to buy The Elite in June! And for all you Elite fans out there, book two, In Too Deep, will be in book stores in January 09!

And stay tuned for your chance to win a copy of The Elite!


1) Where did you get your inspiration for The Elite?
I went to high school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so that’s really where the inspiration for THE ELITE came from. My writing teachers always told me to write what I knew, so when I got the opportunity to create my own series, it just seemed natural for me to set it in that world.

2) If you had to pick one, which character would you like to spend a day as from The Elite?
Definitely Madison Macallister—it’s like playing the villain in a movie—being the bitch is always more fun! But, that being said, in many ways, Madison has the toughest life of any of the other characters—the pressure she’s under to conform to that Upper East Side idea of teen perfection is absolutely tremendous. I always like to write Madison’s chapters when I’m having a bad day—the sense of righteous indignation her character often feels is really cathartic if you’re in the right mood . . .

3) I understand that you attended high school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, like Casey. Did you enjoy that experience?
I did enjoy that experience. My school was really small—my graduating class was less than ten people, and there were less than a hundred kids enrolled total, so it was a VERY small world—everyone knew who was dating who, and if you told someone a secret, by lunchtime everyone would know. It was like going to school in a very expensive fishbowl filled with piranhas . . ..

4) Are you a fashion fan like Madison?
I have been known to wear stilettos to bed, and would probably take out the trash in a ball gown and tiara if given half a chance, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m more than a little obsessed with fashion! I don’t really believe in dressing down unless I’m on my way to the gym. My students always try and figure out how many pairs of shoes I own, but I’ll never tell . . .

5) Do you have a favorite place to write?
I either write at my kitchen table, or at a café just down the street from my house. If I’m feeling REALLY lazy, sometimes I’ll write propped up in bed on a pile of pillows. I try not to do it too much because, more often than not, I end up falling asleep!

6) What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is that moment when the scene begins to come alive and catches fire, then practically starts writing itself. It’s moments like this where I really feel like someone else is controlling things, and I’m just the vessel for the story. My least favorite thing about writing is when I find myself blocked, when I sit for hour staring at a blank, white screen with nothing to say. Of course, the best cure for this is just to actually start writing, to write anything, no matter how boring or insipid. But sometimes it’s just really hard for me to get started—especially when I’m on a deadline—I’m quite the excellent procrastinator when I put my mind to it . . .

7) Do you like listening to music while you write? (if yes, could we please have a little peek at your playlist?)
I HAVE to listen to music while I write—preferably the same playlist over and over until it just fades into the background and becomes like wallpaper in the narrative. And because you asked, I’ll share my most recent playlist with you! So, here’s what I’ve been listening to while finishing the third book in THE ELITE series, JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH:

That’s Not My Name: The Ting Ting’s
Mercy: Duffy
The Song That We Sing: Charlotte Gainsbourg
What Will Give: The Radio Department
Starlet Johannson: The Teenagers
Sour Cherry: The Kills
My Sister: Juliana Hatfield
Run: Air
Incredible: Madonna
It’s Never Over: Kate Walsh
One Time Too Many: Phoenix
A&E: Goldfrapp
2 Hookers and a Mexican: Mickey Avalon
Age of Consent: New Order
Thirteen: Elliot Smith
Nolita Fairytale: Vanessa Carlton
Don’t Bother Me: The Blakes
Phantom: Justice
Jealous Girls: The Gossip
Face To Face: Daft Punk
Chocolate, Raspberry, Lemon & Lime: Muscles
Crushed: Cocteau Twins
Sleep: Azure Ray

8) What city would you most like to visit?
Paris is my favorite city of all time. I try to spend as many summers there as I can. It’s my dream to be able to live there for at least a year at a time. Maybe someday . . .

9) Can you give us a little blurb about the second book in The Elite series: In too Deep?
The Bramford's newest resident and small-town transplant Casey McCloy is adapting to life in the Big Apple and loving it. She's finally got the look, the attitude, and a delish new boyfriend, Drew Van Allen. But even with everything she has going for her now, she's starting to have second thoughts as to whether the "New York" Casey is the real Casey. And she's not so sure she likes herself much anymore.

She’s not the only one…

Madison Macallister has always had her Manolo Blahniks firmly planted on the top rung of the social ladder—until that corn-fed cow Casey stole Drew away from her and made her look the fool. So what if Madison wasn’t exactly dating Drew at the time? She wanted him. And everyone knows that Madison gets what she wants, like Drew—and a little revenge…

10) How many books will be in The Elite series?
I’m currently contracted to write three, but if you guys like the series and want more, I’d be happy to continue! I really love writing THE ELITE books and would be thrilled if the series continued.

11) Are you working on any other YA novels?
I am currently hard at work on my next Young Adult series, BITTEN, which is about two identical twin sisters whose parents buy Dracula’s castle in the midst of a mid-life crisis, then promptly relocate the family from Manhattan all the way to Romania! Here’s a little blurb to wet your appetite:

Love is definitely a pain in the neck . . .

Mina Vanderbilt has just moved with her family to a dilapidated, musty, stone castle in Romania that once belonged to Dracula himself. Her parents, successful Manhattan real estate moguls, are clearly in the throes of a major midlife crisis, and, as a result, have decided to “rearrange their priorities” by selling the Vanderbilt’s fabulous penthouse apartment, and moving Mina and her identical twin sister Lucy to Eastern Europe after bidding an astounding $137.5 million dollars at ultra-exclusive auction at Sothebys. But before both girls begin attendance at a posh boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland, they’ll spend the summer at their new home sweet home—a castle situated in the heart of Romania, just off of Highway 73—better known as the intersection of creepy and get-me-the-hell-out-of-here—worlds away from their sophisticated Manhattan lifestyle where they’re used to getting whatever they want, whenever they want. With Prada bags slug firmly over their shoulders, they’ll learn to navigate the endless corridors and wings of the drafty pile of bricks (OK, their mother, Amanda, began a massive redecorating and demolition project immediately on their arrival, but come ON—there are SKULLS in the cellar for God’s sake!) which may or not be haunted by the spirit of a certain cape-wearing, blood-sucking legend . . .

Upon their arrival, Mina quickly falls in with Jonathan Marlowe—the town’s resident hottie, who’s left London to visit his grandfather for the summer and spends his days attempting to pen the next great British novel at the towns lone café. But after Lucy suffers a “bite” from a mysterious apparition one evening while trolling the grounds of the castle, her love life will never be the same again. Expressions like “can I have a bite of that?” take on a WHOLE new meaning, and suddenly, the most notorious identical, inseparable twins in all of Manhattan have never been quite so different . . .

12) I believe you are one of the co founders of Impetus Press—could you tell us a little bit about that? What inspired you to found your own publishing house? What kind of books does Impetus Press publish?
In 2005 I co-founded Impetus Press, a small, independent publishing house that takes pop culture as its muse. Basically, Impetus publishes serious literary fiction with a pop or urban edge, that falls in-between the experimental and the commercial. There are so many writers out there whose work is too commercial for the experimental presses, and too experimental for the mainstream. Publishing in general is getting so completely polarized, that the result is that many amazing authors are getting left by the wayside, simply because their work can’t be neatly pigeonholed. These are the writers that Impetus looks for and champions. We’ve published five titles so far, and hope to do at least two titles a year from now on. In the fall, we’re publishing Nick Antosca’s novel MIDNIGHT PICNIC, and in the spring we’ll release Gina Frangello’s second novel LONDON CALLING, and a collection of very nasty little short stories by Paula Bomer entitled BABY.

13) Any advice to aspiring authors?
Try to write every day—even if you end up deleting most of it. Writing is largely about discipline, and if you cultivate a disciplined work ethic, it can help power you through times you may feel hopelessly blocked.

14) Do you have any favorite YA books?
When I was growing up I was kind of obsessed with the SWEET VALLEY HIGH series—it was a guilty pleasure back then for me, and I still try and collect paperbacks with the original covers if I find them at garage sales or thrift stores . . . I was a fan of GOSSIP GIRL when the series first came out because I really appreciated how the writing broke new ground. The thing I dislike about many YA titles is that I feel they often talk down to or pander to young adults way too much. I despised that kind of thing when I was a kid, and I despise it even more now that I write YA myself. YA titles I particularly admire are Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, RA Nelson’s TEACH ME, and BREATHE MY NAME, Barry Lyga’s BOY TOY, and Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY.

15) A random fact that not many people know about you?
That I love reality TV. I’m so sad that Rock of Love is over that I can barely
accessorize. Where’s Daisy? I’m not sure I can live without watching her train wreck of a life on a weekly basis . . . I’m also a sucker for historical dramas—I’m currently obsessed with THE TUDORS now, as a result. It’s like Henry VIII got filtered through Melrose Place, and I’m loving every bloody beheading and bodice-ripping moment of it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Author Interview! Martin Dubow

An interview with Martin Dubow, author of the intriguing adventurous and mysterious YA novel, Francey. My thanks to Martin for taking the time out to answer a few questions for us readers!


1. What inspired you to write Francey?
I’ve always had a fascination for the subject of reincarnation due to unexplainable childhood experiences. Somehow I knew of things I shouldn’t have, and had memories which didn’t seem to belong to me. This fascination grew steadily over the years until recently it took me by the throat, insisting I do something—anything—to set my mind at ease. And since I hadn’t been able to figure out what my own deal was back then, I decided to hand a similar situation over to someone who had a fighting chance of figuring out what was going on. And, voila, Francey sprang to life. The thing I truly wished to accomplish with her was a story written in such a way that it wouldn’t even occur to the reader that what she held in her hands was a fantasy. And though that’s how it’s being billed, I no longer think of it as such.

2. Who was your favorite character to write about from Francey?
It’s funny you should ask me that. It‘s a question I’ve waited for, and yet, you‘re the first person to pose it. Lizzie, without question, is my favorite character. I mean, I love them all, but there’s something so special about her. And even though she‘s my creation, still I find it difficult to put into words exactly how special she is. To me, the story is just as much hers as it is Francey’s, and I tried to convey how I felt, not by description—for no amount could do her justice—but by action. I dearly hope I succeeded.

3. If you could go back in time to explore any time period, which time period would you like to visit?

The time period I’d wish to visit has more to do with whom I’d like to meet, rather than with the actual historical period itself. Hands down, with nothing even in second place—France, toward the end of the Hundred Years War. Allow me to explain:
Joan of Arc, as far as I‘m concerned, was the most incredible being to ever grace the surface of this planet; and it wouldn’t take much nudging to get me to turn this into a treatise on the sainted ‘Maid of Orleans.’ I’m desperate to fight by her side; and if I’m unable to prevent her capture, I’ll attempt a daring rescue, snatching her from the flames as they begin to lick at her ankles. And if I fail, at least I’ll have met her, spoken with her, and maybe even have touched her hem. And just incidentally, there’s a story about her—a work of fiction—brewing deep within the dark recesses of my mind, just itching to be put on paper.
For anyone interested in why I feel thus, I recently wrote a short essay about her; it’s posted it on my blog and can be accessed here. I beg you to read it. It’ll take but a moment and will open your eyes to the limitless power of the human spirit.

4. Do you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation?
I was pretty open to the idea of reincarnation before; but after writing Francey, and having so rational an explanation handed me by Uncle Jules, well . . . why don’t we just say that I’m more open than ever to the possibility of having lived before?

5. Are you working on any new YA novels at the moment?
I had originally intended on immediately writing a sequel to Francey, as I’m anxious to spend more time with my newfound friends. But something else has pushed it aside, if only temporarily. I’m reticent to say too much at this point, except that it will be a tale of suspense, bordering on horror. Though not the kind of horror that will play havoc with your mind, spooking you for days and weeks hence. I don’t know how else to describe it without going into the plot, so we’ll all just have to wait until it hits the stands.

6. Are Rembrandt and Monet favorite artists of yours? Or does another artists hold the spot of favorite artist?
Yes, regarding Rembrandt and Monet. And for those of you who have yet to read the book, this question pertains to the fact that Rembrandt and Monet play a fairly significant role in the story. Rembrandt, most especially.
I don’t pretend to be an art connoisseur; just a lover. I grew up in New York City—which will be obvious to anyone after reading Francey— and one of my favorite hangouts was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Upon entering that mighty stone building, I’d immediately make a beeline for either the Rembrandt Room or the Monet Room, and simply get lost in their artwork. That museum, and Carnegie Hall, are the two things I miss most about New York. (I currently live in the Los Angeles area.)

7. Do you have any favorite books?
If nobody minds, I’d like to take the liberty of quoting myself from an interview I gave a few weeks ago wherein I was asked the question: ‘What authors have influenced you in your writing?’ And I’ll name my favorite books in the final paragraph.
Just like every other kid in school, the classics were thrust upon me; and being an immature young schoolboy, I wasn’t much impressed. When done with school, the thought of cracking open one of those books again, this time for pleasure, didn’t enter my mind. At least, not for quite awhile. Why I decided to give them another chance is a story in itself; one which we’ll save for another time.
One reviewer said, in reference to Francey, that my writing 'echoes of 19th century literature, but is much simpler.' To me, this is a great compliment because it's exactly the atmosphere that I'm trying to create. I love the classical writing style, but I also love simplicity. Combining the two was a daunting task, because, almost by definition, the classics are anything but simple; but there are some, at least, who think I've managed it quite successfully.
The authors who’ve most influenced me are from a bygone era. They are those whose names are mentioned in Francey: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. Whenever I'm feeling uninspired, or lazy, or distracted, I'll open up a copy of, well... Jane Eyre, for instance... and read through some of my favorite passages. And just like that, I've perked up, and am ready, once more, to keep on trucking. I swear to God, if Charlotte Brontë were alive today, I’d seek her out and ask her to marry me.
And to answer the question posed to me here, my favorite books, if I had to narrow down the field, are Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and David Copperfield. I actually get teary-eyed just thinking about them.

8. Any advice for aspiring writers?
I’ve read so many articles and interviews of authors spouting advice on this subject that I’m not sure I can add anything new to the mix. But I will tell you what I keep uppermost in my mind when I’m putting pen to paper: Writing is evolutionary. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen overnight. Not for me. Not for you. Not for anybody. And when I’m stuck on a phrase, or a paragraph, or even just one word, I’ll leave it to stew in its own juices for awhile, letting it simmer until it’s fully cooked. And when I come back to it, a day, or a week, or a month later, it will be sitting on the stove, ready to be ladled onto the page. The given here, of course, is that the person doing the writing has read enough of decent literature to know what good writing is, thereby enabling him to be objective about his own.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marriott

The Kingdom has been a prosperous place for all of the people: the royal family, the farmers, and the common folk, for as long as anyone can remember. Longer than Midland, certainly, which was once known as the City of Flowers, but was plagued by war, which caused the flowers to refuse to bloom. Kingdom’s prosperity is largely due to the gifts and talents of Lady Branwen, the queen of the land. She is a wise woman—able to perform great healing and has more talent than the cunning women, who have small gifts of magic. From her, her daughter, Alexandra, has learned much, and has become quite a cunning woman herself. She works alongside her mother in her garden, and is greatly respected by many people in the Kingdom—many people, but not her father. Her father, the king, is disappointed in his daughter—he had wished for an obedient, beautiful daughter that would heed his wishes and could be married off to his advantage. But instead, Alexandra is wild and far from obedient, comely, but not extraordinarily beautiful, and is her mother’s student through and through.

Despite her father not being entirely pleased with her, all seemed well for Alexandra—a loving and skilled mother, caring and fun brothers, and a peaceful home. That is, until after her fifteenth birthday (the age when people are considered adults in the Kingdom) when her mother takes her into the forest for a secret ritual. There, Alexandra is let into an even bigger secret, and her life changes forever…in more than one way. Her destiny is to become greater than her mother ever was, because she has been granted a Great Gift. In shock, Alexandra cannot believe what the apparition of her ancestor tells her, but before she can learn any more, a scream pierces the night and ends the Alexandra’s meeting. Rushing back to her mother’s side, she finds her mother crumpled in a growing pool of blood, and a wild, sinister beast circling her. Blindly charging away from the beast, Alexandra raced back to the castle. Despite Alexandra’s hard efforts, even the skills that she learned could not save her mother, and the entire kingdom was devastated.

Her father is stricken and does not speak to his children anymore. He spends most of his time in the woods, searching and hoping to kill the beast that took his beloved wife, but everyday he returns empty handed. Everyday until one day, he returns with a darkly beautiful woman named Zella, whom he saved from the woods. In the blink of an eye, the king and his country are out of mourning, and everyone has fallen under this mysterious woman’s spell. The king is smitten, the people are ecstatic about their new queen-to-be, but for some reason, Alexandra and her brothers have not fallen under her sinister charms, and are wary of her. Who is this woman who is shrouded by darkness and mystery?

Determined to come to the bottom of this woman who is posing a great threat, Alexandra and her brother hatch a plan to reveal her for who—or what—she is. But when the plan goes horribly awry, Alexandra finds herself shipped off to her aunt, who lives in Midland, and her brothers banished.

News reaches her that her father has been going to any ends to satisfy his new queen, who has been slowly destroying Kingdom right under his nose. But trapped in her aunt’s house far away, Alexandra feels hopeless and believes that her brothers will come rescue her and retake Kingdom from Zella’s grip.

Reminiscent of The Wild Swans fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, Alexandra of The Swan Kingdom has similar avian sibling problems. Alexandra eventually finds out that her brothers are not in good health and hidden, waiting for their chance to strike, as she had believed, but rather, that they are in limbo between life and death. Ever since their nightly encounter with Zella, they have been in that state, and are only sometimes able to take the form of swans. Recalling a spell she saw at the end of her mother’s book, Alexandra sets out to knit tunics of stinging nettles to free her brothers from their spell. But to succeed, she must remain silent for the whole process. How can Alexandra complete this arduous task when Zella and her minions are after her, let alone stay silent the whole time? But if she doesn’t succeed, then her brothers could very well remain in limbo as swans for the rest of eternity…

There have been many retellings of fairy tales, but I have not read many (if any at all) for The Wild Swans, until The Swan Kingdom. It is refreshing to read a new take on a classic fairytale that has not been retold as many times as Cinderella and Snow White—truly unique! Alexandra bloomed and matured, growing to finally accept her role and use her powers wisely, while learning the lesson that outer beauty is not everything. Author Zoë Marriott wove a captivating tale that preserved the heart of The Wild Swans fairytale while giving it her own spin and adding complexity to it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Guess what??
The lovely YA Book Goddess, Kimberly Pauley, published her first book!
(This’ll be my attempt to try and give an unbiased account, but this book was so amazing, I think I’d rave about it whether or not I was the ex-official review there or not!!)
Okay, here it goes:

Mina Hamilton is your average kid…sort of. Normal except for the slight fact that her parents are vampires. Despite this minor technicality, Mina’s lived a pretty good life so far (sure, she has to remind her parents to get food now and then, and feed herself since vampires don’t have to eat), that is, until the day the tax collector came (ah, those pesky people!). Now the Vampire Council know that Mina exists and she’s forced to go to vampire informational classes and decide if she wants to chance or not. The worst part is, she’s got to make that choice soon, and Mina’s not even eighteen yet!

What should Mina do? What would her best friend Serena think? But it would be pretty cool to live forever and see the world, right? But she has to drink blood to survive! Ahh!! The pros and cons are tearing Mina in two and the big decision is just weeks away!

At least there’s a bit of eye candy during the classes which are taught by creepy “Grandma Wolfington”—a completely hottie, Aubrey. But George is kinda nice too, and Mina’s been crushing on Nathan since before she even met either of the vampire candidates! Ack! Now Mina’s having vampire problems and guy problems! As if she doesn’t have enough to worry about!

Sucks to Be Me follows Mina’s bumpy road on the way to her big decision that includes much more than vampire-related stuff! But no matter what happens, Mina still has to make the choice and it’s much harder than she thought. And what happens if you pick ‘no’ in the end anyway? Will the scary Vampire Council get rid of you, since you know too much?

Sucks to Be Me is a great YA novel filled with drama, romance, and tough decisions. Nathan seemed almost a little too nice for a high-and-up-there It kid, but I liked how things turned out for the main characters! I especially loved the little “myths and truths” at the beginning of each chapter! I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, and it felt a wee bit rushed, but that’s personal preference. The writing there was as good as the rest of the book, it’s just that I don’t entirely agree with the ending.

I’m sure it’s been said many times now, but the number of books in the YA vampire genre is shooting up, yet some seem to miss the mark, since many of us have high expectations after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. However, there is one book that (for me) shot above many others and all I can say is, I could not put this book down! With that said, I’d definitely recommend Sucks to Be Me to all vampire genre fans, or all those out there looking for a good read! Grab your copy August 26, 2008!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Francey by Martin Dubow

Francey is a young lady who is wise beyond her years. She lives with her father, Rick, who is a brilliant architect. Francey herself is quite a student with a passion for learning and is an absolutely spellbinding artist. But how has such a young child been graced with such immeasurable talent with paints, pencils, pastels, and paints? She lives with her loving father and attends a school near home. All seems well until the nightmares come; her nights are suddenly plagued by horrific and gripping nightmares that seem to possess her—but where could these terrifying dreams have come from?

Luckily, Francey has a sweet, lovely teacher, Ms. Gingery and her father, among others, to look out for her and help her sort out this dark mystery that plagues her sleep. Who is this mysterious Lady Susan Sebastian whose life was full of love, betrayal, and anguish and keeps reappearing in Francey’s nightmares?

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Lord Crimson is a man who has worked hard all his life and has accumulated great wealth and a title, yet there is something missing. Something that has thus far proved unattainable, despite the fact he has met with some of the most talented architects around the world. Completely sure, yet unsure of what he is looking for, he has already tired out many architects who have not been able to design Lord Crimson’s elusive building. Johnny Falstaff is called in, and he directs Francey’s father to his lordship, believing that Rick is the one who would most likely have the skill necessary to attempt to satisfy Lord Crimson’s wishes and design what he is looking for. Could Lord Crimson and his project hold a piece of the puzzle about Francey’s nightmares? Why would memories of Lady Susan and her star-crossed lover, Edward Delaney, from centuries back be surfacing in a sixth-grader’s dreams?

I don’t want to give away too much here, but Francey and the others soon find themselves delving into a mystery from the past that is more complex and surprising than they would have ever believed was possible! A maze of secrets surrounds the mysterious couple but Ms. Gingery, Rick, and other acquaintances are determined to unearth these long buried truths. But with the intensity of Francey’s nightmares increasing, will they be able to get to the bottom of the things before her nightmares consume her and prevent her from awaking ever again?

Author Martin Dubow has woven a gripping story of intrigue within Francey! Although it started off a bit slow and was a bit predictable near the end, Francey was a well-written novel with a great cast of characters! I especially liked the main idea behind this book—it was very interesting and extremely well played out in the book! I really enjoyed this book, and for all you out there looking for a novel with mystery, intrigue, adventure, and a healthy dose of romance, I suggest you go pick up a copy of Francey!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

Casey McCloy jumped at the chance to see the Big Apple when her mother announced that she was going overseas to do some research for her book. The next thing Casey knows, she is moving in with her grandmother into the luxurious Bramford apartments of Manhatten’s Upper East Side. But can a girl from an all but unheard of town in Illinois fit into the big city and the prestigious Meadowlark Academy, where fashion divas and trendsetters like Madison Macallister rule the scene? I mean, when she first set foot in the Bram and bumped into Madison and her posse, she was instantly labeled a walking fashion violation—apparently Abercrombie isn’t high enough on the fashion food chain to warrant anything but distain from It Girl Madison! So does Casey stand a chance in Meadowlark and NYC?

Although Madison and her ladies seem imposing in their high fashion and expensive heels, Casey thinks she stands a chance to befriend the queen of style and sets out to do just that. Casey is taken out to do some shopping for a make over, but the sky high prices on all the designer brands that are a must for the stars of Meadowlark are completely out of Casey’s range! Luckily, with some unexpectedly generous assistance from Madison, Casey is now ready for her first day at the elite academy! But will a new outfit completely prepare Casey for what she’s about to face? And what is she to do with the hottie, Drew, also known as Madison’s on and off boyfriend, who keeps catching her eye?

Who can Casey trust? Can she really fit into this high-priced society? Can Casey keep up with Madison and her girls, or are they out of her league and only letting her in out of pity?

The Elite is a great start to a new series by Jennifer Banash! It was a bit heavy on the fashion brands and the language is a bit strong (but that’s how it is for many teens nowadays in the US) but the characters all had some very interesting stories to tell. I loved how the point of view switched between the characters so that we could get a bigger picture of their lives. Most of them deal with issues that plenty of teens have and it was nice to get to know more about the others, besides Casey—it definitely helped develop the characters more, and readers will find it easier to understand these dynamic teens! They all had realistic, believable feelings and actions that were wonderfully expressed throughout the novel! It was also great to see down-to-earth Casey shine and show that you don’t need to be rolling in gold to be happy with yourself. There’s more to even the rich and popular kids than all that glitz and glamour they live with! And it would seem that Casey has it easy with just her frizzy-hair problems, after seeing what some of those oh-so-perfect teens have to deal with, behind their sophisticated and happy façade…wealth may not necessarily guarantee happiness…

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hidden Letters (Deborah Slier and Ian Shine)

There is courage and strength in everyone, and sometimes, it shines best in trying times that tax heavily on people’s bodies, minds, and souls. There are wonderful displays of such great qualities and faith in stories of those who survived the Holocaust, and Philip “Flip” Slier of Hidden Letters is no exception.

Philip (a.k.a Flip) was a young Dutch Jew who was forced to a labor camp in 1942. He wrote regularly to his parents, and displayed much optimism and strength during his stay at the camp. He believed that he was one of the lucky ones, being in a labor camp instead of a concentration camp. Within Hidden Letters are all his letters which have been translated after they were found and sent to Flip’s first cousin, Deborah Slier—his letters tell of his daily happenings, thoughts, struggles, and requests for his parents to send him certain items. Readers can sense Flip’s innocent, chipper, and sweet nature through his letters which often sounded bright and hopeful, even though he was forced to work at the camp, which only made his story all the more heart wrenching!

Throughout the book there is a lot of background information, nuggets of helpful history, annotations, maps, and numerous photographs that were taken by Flip himself. Hidden Letters was both fascinating and haunting. It’s hard to believe that young teens—and Jews of all ages—were forced to bear such inhumane conditions. Flip displayed such courage, innocence, and affection even during the harsh times and conditions that were imposed on him just because of his religion! It was heartbreaking as I went along on Flip’s journey to hear his innocence and bright optimism even in times that would have—and did—crush the spirits of many. Let Flip’s letters take you on a journey that you will never forget!

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's here! Twilight Official Teaser Trailer!

I'm so excited!! The first official teaser trailer for Twilight is out!!

12.12.08! Seems forever away!
I was hoping the trailer would be a bit longer (well, it is a teaser trailer) and this seemed rather short in comparision to all the snippits seen in the MTV behind-the-scenes video!

Anyway, hope you all enjoy it! And a my next review will be coming soon! :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tagged! (aka my first meme!)

I've been tagged by Liv from Liv's Book Reviews for my first meme!

So this is how it goes:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences.

*Grabs book*
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer!
So let's take a look at what pg 123 says...
(I hope I'm not spoiling anything for anyone, but I'm sure plenty of you have read Twilight's sequel already)

"I wasn't paying attention to where I was driving--just wandering through empty, wet side roads as I avoided the ways that woule take me home--because I didn't have anywhere to go. I wished I could feel numb again, but I couldn't remember how I'd managed it before. The nightmare was nagging at my mind and making me think about things that would cause me pain."

Hmm, you know what's interesting?? I had somehow left a post it exactly on pg 123 from a while ago? Whatever for? I'm not really sure (more like I just can't remember!) but maybe it was fate!

And the blogs I'm tagging:
1) Reader Rabbit
2) The Shady Glade
3) Books and Love
4) Book Adorer
5) In Bed With Books

Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Thanks to i'm loving books!


I receive review copies of books from publicists, authors and publishers for an honest review. I do not receive monetary or other compensations for posting reviews.