Friday, August 29, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Kimberly Pauley

This weeks fabulous author is Kimberly Pauley. She is a debut novelist, who's novel Sucks to be Me came out on Tuesday. It is a hillarious book, focused on a girl named Mina's decision on whether or not to become a vampire. To read my review, click here.

Not only is she an author, but she is also the founder of the YABC website, which is totally awesome. She is also a new mother...while kind of new. Her cute as a button son is somewhere around the age of six months and he looks to be the cutest thing ever!!

Also right now she is hosting an amazing book launch party at her blog. Head on over to read some great interviews with other authors and win some really neat prizes.

I hope you enjoy the interview!


1. What made you want to tackle a vampire book? What made you take a comical spin on the subject, instead of one filled with romance?

I can’t say that I actually “wanted” to write a vampire book, honestly. ☺ It just worked out that I had an idea and once I started writing bits of it down, Mina took over. She’s got a really strong voice in my head.

There’s definitely some romance in the book, but you’re right, it is primarily a comedic novel. That was one of my goals – I wanted to do something funny since most vampire novels take themselves so seriously. And I wanted a book that even non-vampire lovers would like to read.

2. What sparked the creation of your book?
I was awake one night way past my bedtime and started thinking about vampire books and how they all took themselves so seriously. I was thinking it would be a lot of fun to turn the normal plot on its head (this was back in early 2005, when I wrote the book). The first sentence came to me immediately and things just kind of flowed from there. It was the first time I’d ever tried writing in first person, present tense too.

3. What made you choose a young adult audience?
As a YA book reviewer, most of what I read is for teens and tweens. It’s some of my favorite stuff to read – I hardly ever read an “adult” book anymore. So it was kind of natural for me to go in that direction. I also studied adolescent literature a lot in college.

4. Do you see a lot of yourself in Mina or in any of the other characters?
Definitely the snarkiness and humor. Not that I’m all that snarky in person…at least, not out loud.

5. What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer? The best?


I’m only kind of kidding there. Writing is, in itself, both the hardest and best thing about being a writer. I think most writers are people that can’t *not* write. There’s all this stuff going on in our heads and we’ve got to get it out. But, sometimes it is hard to sit yourself down (BIC or “butt in chair”) and do the work…because it *is* work. No matter how fun it can be, writing is work and you should treat it like any job. I know it was hard for my husband to understand what the heck I was doing at first since part of writing looks like sitting down and staring off into space…so sometimes it often seems like I’m *not* doing anything (well, okay, sometimes I’m actually not really doing anything).

Hmmm…this is kind of a convoluted answer, huh? Let’s just say that the hardest thing is discipline and the best thing is…well, everything else!

6. What’s your ideal writing environment?

I actually have two, depending on my mood: a coffee shop that’s not too loud, with comfortable chairs and ice cream-y coffee drinks OR my front porch on a nice Spring or Fall day with a light breeze and a cold glass of lemonade.

7. If your book was to become a movie, whom would you cast as the characters?

Okay, I promise that I’m not trying at all to copy Twilight here, but Kristen Stewart I could actually see playing Mina. However, I’m thinking of her how she was in the movie Zathura. And, well, I’m also (sadly) not that up on the current crop of teen actresses…so it is kind of hard for me to pick any. Hmmm, I need to go research this some. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! I’ll probably have to Google them. ☺

Wait…I just Googled “teen actors” and came across a website with a bunch of pictures. Hmmm, maybe Adam Brody for George and Alex Pettyfer or Cory Sevier for Nathan? And maybe Anna Popplewell for Serena? Somebody like Ben Barnes or Ben Jelen for Aubrey…hahaha, can you tell I just made it through the A-C section? And did you know there’s actually some kid actor out there named Boo Boo? I just saw another Mina possibility too – Dani Thorne.

8. Why did you create Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central?

My big overreaching goal with YABC has always been to promote reading and literacy and my secondary goal was to provide a place for authors and publishers (no matter how big or small) to have a forum to get information about their works in front of readers. I’ve given away thousands of books over the years. It’s a real labor of love…the site finally started breaking even in the last year or two (and I’ve been doing it now for 10 years! Wow!).

9. Do you mostly read adult books or young adult, or a healthy mix of both? What are the last three books you read?

Mostly YA, but I’ll throw in an adult book every now and then. I mostly do the YA because I’ve barely got time to read all the review books I get to begin with. Not that I’m complaining! It’s just that I receive hundreds of books a year. I can’t possibly get through them all, especially when writing and taking care of our new baby.

And the last three I read…hmmmm…I haven’t done a lot of reading lately because of the baby. So the last three were…um…Poison by Chris Wooding, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. All of which were great, in completely different ways.

10. What’s one quirky thing that you care to share?

I make my own soap. It’s kind of fun. The real stuff too – like the frontier people used to do with lye and everything…except I use oils and not animal fats. The whole thought of a lard-based soap is just kind of gross. But almond oil and coconut oil? Yummy.

11. What can we expect from you in the future? Are you going to continue Mina’s story?
I’m working on a sequel now called “It Still Sucks to Be Me” which the publisher will hopefully pick up (depending on how well the first book does). And I’ve got a number of other projects that I’ll be finishing up once that is done, so be on the lookout!

12. Are there any questions you wish I had asked?

Nobody ever asks me about my silly orange hat that I have on in the picture on my website. ☺ I love that hat! We briefly lived in Louisville and it was my Kentucky Derby hat. It’s a shame that people don’t get to wear hats more often.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Buggy Crenshaw and the Bungler’s Paradox by R. M. Wilburn

Good and evil always have and forever will battle against each other. Warriors fight constantly on the behalf of the Greater Good, but why don’t we see anything that goes on? Well because all battles occur in hollows, and currently there is quite the battle occurring in Lloyd’s Hollow, a place where magic runs rampant and dreams are just for the imagination.

Days before her twelfth birthday imaginative Buggy Crenshaw’s life changes forever when her father blows up his garage while experimenting with his latest invention. Having upset the fire department and many neighbors, the Crenshaw family decides that it would be best to move, and they just so happen to find a home in the quaint little village of Lloyd’s Hollow. Yes, the same place where that epic battle is wagging on between good and evil. When Buggy arrives she thinks all of the weird things that are occurring, such as the dragonfly in her light shade coming alive and the really weird looking principal are just her over active imagination. But when she learns that all these things are real, from her new friends, Sid and Veronica, Buggy begins to wonder why her family had to move here.

As the days continue though Buggy learns that it wasn’t chance that her family ended up in Lloyd’s Hollow. She was meant to be there and she is destined to embark on a dangerous journey to set evil in its rightful place. Along with Sid and Veronica, Buggy learns much about her newfound magical abilities and sets off on an adventure so crazy that not even her wildest dreams could have created.

Talk about wildest dreams! This book was great. It didn’t take me any time to get sucked into the adventure and I was incredibly impressed with the imagination and creativity that went into writing this book.

I really enjoyed how Buggy really seemed to take on the role of author as the story progressed. She really paid attention to the little details that make a story interesting and didn’t spend much time talking about herself. I loved how she took a leadership role and didn’t complain about the obstacles that were presented to her. She also made the book very comical when she described different events. I also loved Buggy’s dad, who was probably one of the quirkiest characters I have ever met. He was fun and I could totally relate to the fact that he thought he was the next great inventor. I mean who hasn’t thought that their idea could revolutionize life as we know it? He definitely made the book memorable, but Buggy was definitely my favorite character.

The actual plot of the story was magical. I loved how the author took a classic thing (the battle between good and evil) and added a magical twist to it that made it one unforgettable adventure. I felt like this book had the same kind of adventure feel as the Rick Riordan books have, which made the book even more enjoyable.

I really don’t think there was anything that the author could have improved on in this creative and imaginable novel. I am definitely looking forward to further books, especially the sequel, Buggy Crenshaw and the Deadwood Principle: Evolution, which is currently available.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sleepless by Terri Clark

Trinity Michaels isn’t your average eighteen year old. Actually she really hasn’t been normal since she first realized she had the ability to dream walk. While some think this may be a super cool power, Trinity believes it to be a curse and wants nothing to do with it.

Dream walking greatly affects Trinity’s life when she’s unable to save an abducted girl that she has been dreaming about. Although she is able to help the police capture the killer, Rafe Stevens, she is still deeply troubled by the fact that she wasn’t able to help save her. When Rafe is sent to a mental asylum though instead of to prison, because of his plea of insanity, Trinity knows she’s his next victim and not safe. However she knows nothing can harm her in her own home, until the night she has the worst dream of her life.

She now knows that Rafe has escaped and his revenge against her is coming sooner than expected. Now she must run for her life, fleeing not only from this dreaded man, but also from sleep, because Rafe somehow has the power to physically hurt her in her dreams. With help from an unexpected accomplice, Dan Devlin, the son of Rafe’s slime ball lawyer, Trinity tries to stay alive. Will Trinity allow Dan to help her, or will she turn her back on him (and her heart) just because of who his father is?

This book puts a whole new twist on freaky!! It truly captured my attention and had me with the covers up to my nose in fear of going to sleep!! Needless to say I loved the book and all aspects of it.

When I originally saw the book it looked a lot like one of those light summer beach reads. Well it’s not! It’s a full blown novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat and up until all hours of the night, just so you can find out what happens next. Terri Clark was really able to create a dark novel that kept you thinking “what if” and made you look at nightmares in a whole different perspective. She even mixed in some great romance, which made the book even better.

Trinity’s character was also very interesting. While she was your normal teen, with an issue here and there, it felt like she had the grief of an old woman. Everyday she dealt with the fact that she could have potentially saved that girl, but she didn’t and she truly despised herself for that fact, but then she really learns to accept that she did more than was ever expected. I really enjoyed seeing her accept the fact that there was nothing more she could have done and I think this really made her grow as a person. Also the author made Trinity’s fear drip off the pages and into the reader, making them feel just as afraid as Trinity, which was awesome!!

Overall the book was stellar. The author made the reader connect with the characters and the whole idea behind the story was extremely original and very compelling. I recommend this book for all fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake, and readers looking for a great book. I truly hope that a sequel is in the works as I am anxious to see what other adventures are in store for Trinity.

Here's the book trailer for the book, which is great!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Vist: Terri Clark

Terri Clark is the author of Sleepless and was one of the writers who contributed a story to Breaking Up is Hard to Do. I recently got the awesome opportunity to read Sleepless, but don't have a review up yet, but will definitely link it when I do. What I can say though is that the book is beyond amazing. For some cool information about the book visit the Class of 2k8 blog as they are featuring Terri this week. And what better way to showcase Terri than have her come visit here, so without further ado I present an amazing interview with Terri Clark.

1. Sleepless seems to be somewhat along the lines of Lisa McMann’s Wake, where the main character can see into other people’s dreams. Have you had a chance to read Wake? If so, what was your take on it?

I did read WAKE and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see why Lisa has done so well with it. I look forward to her sequel! I think our books are similar because of the dream element, but SLEEPLESS is darker and grittier. It’s a real cat and mouse game in both the real world and in the dreamscape.

2. What sparked the creation of Sleepless?

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams and I think they can be much more than just nonsensical stories our mind plays out. Without making myself sound too kooky, I’ll just say I’ve had some dreams that went beyond the norm. And when I was a kid someone told me if you died in your dreams you would die for real. That always scared me. I started playing with that idea and then I read a series of articles the Denver Post did on dangerous criminals who pretended insanity so they could get locked up in a mental hospital instead of jail. I found the idea so appalling I wondered what would happen if the hospital wasn’t the cake walk they imagined it to be and BOOM I put mental torture and dreamwalking together. Obviously, I have a twisted imagination.

3. What made you want to write for a young adult audience?

A couple years ago by best friend, Lynda Sandoval, suggested I read Meg Cabot’s 1-800-Where-R-U and Mediator series. Lynda’s a YA author and she told me I’d love Meg’s paranormal series and my voice would be well suited to the market. I read the books, fell in love with them and started devouring teen books like crazy. They not only inspired me to write teen fiction, but also to start working as a teen librarian.

3. Do you see a lot of yourself in your characters?

I see some of me, some of who I’d like to be and pieces and parts of people in my life.

4. What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer? The best?

One of the hardest things about being a writer is rejection. You have to have a tough skin, patience (which I suck at) and persistence. The best is breathing life into characters and creating something from scratch that I hope will positively affect readers.

5. What’s your ideal writing environment?

I write from home. My only ideal is having more time and my kids in school. LOL. It’s a lot harder to get things done in the summer, but I enjoy having them and all their friends around. However, I’m looking forward to having some peace soon!

6. Do you write full time or do you fill your days with things other than pages and pages of words?

Oh, how I wish I could answer this question with a yes, but I do have a part-time job at my local library. I LOVE working with my teens though. One day I hope I can write full time, but in the meantime I have a blast working with the kids. Truly, if I must have two jobs these two work great together.

7. Do you mostly read adult books or young adult, or a healthy mix of both? What are the last three books you read?

I read tons and tons of YA. I should be more balanced, I know, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to read as much as I’d like. Last three books: I’m re-reading Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Personal Demon by Kelly Armstrong (an adult book!) and The Summoning (Kelley’s YA debut.)

8. What’s one quirky thing that you care to share?

Quirky…my family teases me because I have this superstition about calendars. You MUST turn ALL the calendars in the house on the first to the right month or it’s bad luck. I can’t stand to find a calendar anywhere on the wrong date. Don’t ask me why.

9. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a paranormal romantic comedy right now called Hollyweird. It’s a tongue-in-cheek poke at Hollywood that involves angels and demons and I’m also working on a new beach thriller. Please watch my website ( and blog ( for updates.

10. Are there any questions you wish I had asked?

What supernatural creature do you want to write about that you haven’t? Vampires! I really, really, really want to do a vampire book and I’m dying to write a series.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Geek High by Piper Banks

Miranda Bloom is a math genius who attends Notting Hill Independent School for Gifted Children, better known as Geek High. Miranda has a bit of a discombobulated life. Her parents are divorced, she has an evil stepmother and stepsister, she has no boyfriend in sight and while she goes to a genius school the only thing that’s “special” about her is that she is the human calculator.

At the end of the summer Miranda feels like her life has come to an end when her mom announces that she is going to England to do research for her next book, without Miranda. Now Miranda has to live with her dad and her evil step family! The only comfort she has is her sleek greyhound Willow. Then when there is a bit of a misunderstanding and Miranda is thought to be the source of the problem, she is assigned to plan the dreaded Snowflake Gala. Most kids dread going to the Gala since it is filled with lectures and bland chicken, but Miranda wants to revamp the whole image, even though dances are totally not her thing. In between planning the Gala, Miranda has to deal with fitting in at her new home, dealing with her crush falling for her step-sister, and hopefully finding a guy of her own.

This book was too cute!! I mean I totally loved that Miranda was a math geek, as I must say I’m a HUGE math geek!! While I’m on the subject of characters, let me just say that they were well created. Miranda was very real, having to suffer step-parents, having your crush fall for the totally wrong girl, and most of all finding a guy that will like her back! The other characters in the book were totally great. They had some really fun quirks that made the book even more enjoyable and it was nice to someone else in the spotlight at times. It was also a really quick read, but it had enough substance to be a real book. While it was a little cliched at times I still loved it. I must admit though I am a bit of a sucker for those classic cliche stories. Overall I was really impressed with this book and I love the geek power. I am psyched to read the sequel Geek Abroad, and I urge you all to pick up Geek High if your looking for a light, super fun read.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard

Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily are back, some in better state than others, and ready to bring down A. When we last left the pristine Rosewood Hanna had just discovered who A was, but she knew too much and A made sure she couldn't say anything by "accidentally" hitting her with a car. Now as Hanna fights for her life, the other three girls have to clean up the mess that A has made.

Spencer finally remembers what happened the night of Ali's death and what she remembers isn't good. Could she really have killed Ali? Not only does she have to deal with the thought that she could have really killed her best friend but she's got to reason with the guilt of stealing her sister's AP Economics paper which got Spencer nominated for an award her sister should have won. With the feeling that A is constantly breathing down her back will Spencer be able to keep her cool composure or will she finally pop?

After A let it leak that Emily likes girls, Emily's been living on the edge of sanity. Her parents don't know what to do with her so they send her off to her hyper conservative relatives in Middle of Nowhere Iowa. When she arrives Emily knows she won't last long, then she meets Trista, an interesting girl who seems to understand Emily and doesn't mind talking to her. Will Emily last, or will she flee back to Rosewood and hope that she is accepted by those who love her most?

Aria's been kicked out of her mother's house after her mom found out Aria had been keeping the secret of her father's affair a secret for the past three years. Once again we have A to thank for unveiling this bit of information. With nowhere else to go Aria moves in with her father and horrifyingly peppy girlfriend Meredith. All Aria wants is for her life to go back to normal. When she starts an art class over at the neighborhood college her partner is none other than Jenna Cavanaugh, the girl who was the terrible victim of a nasty prank that Aria was a part of. Can Aria ever escape her past or will it keep catching up with her?

Then there's Hanna who really is hanging on for dear life. She can’t remember anything from the night of the accident, especially the identity of A. The rest of the group doesn’t want to pressure her too much, but they really want to know who A is. If this isn’t enough Hanna has to deal with her feelings for Lucas. She remembers hanging out with him a couple of times, but that’s it. It seems though that a lot more happened. Will Hanna be able to get her memory back and solve they mystery of who A really is?

This has always been a favorite series of mine. I mean who can resist the scandalous secrets of others, especially of those who live in Rosewood? Unbelievable completely blew all three of the books out of the water. It could almost be a stand alone book if all the information we learn in the preceding books wasn’t crucial to the plot.

It seems that the author finally became comfortable with the characters in this book. The characters felt like real people and some of their issues became more realistic. I also felt that it was much easier to relate the characters in this book. They didn’t seem as stuck up and it was easier to like them. In my opinion this is a particularly important part of a book because if you can’t relate then it’s hard to actually imagine the feelings that the characters in the story have. While, in my opinion, this was a weakness in the other books the author has completely redeemed herself with this installment of the series.

The plot itself was great. Suspense has a totally different meaning to me now! At no point did I find myself knowing what would come next. I eagerly turned the pages hoping to devour more secrets and uncover more answers. The author did a great job hanging the identity of A over our heads until the final chapters of the book. And just as you thought you knew who killed Ali, wham the author threw another curveball at you. Before I had even started the book I had known that A would be uncovered in this book and was truly wondering how the story would continue afterwards as there will be a total of eight books. I found that as some answers were told more questions surfaced. Again the author left us with too many questions left unanswered. Now I simply cannot wait for the fifth book. In the meantime though I urge you to pick up this book as it is simply impossible to put it down.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel

Leah loves her family, she really does, but there just seems to be a hole that just can’t seem to be filled. While she has a mom, she doesn’t really have a dad. It’s not that he’s not around, as she has a great stepdad, but she’s a donor child. When trying to find out more about her donor, Leah comes across the Lyons Reproductive Services sibling directory where a list of all the children that a donor has fathered is compiled. Using her “emergencies only” credit card (who wouldn’t declare finding long lost siblings an emergency?) she signs up to see the list and discovers that Donor 730 fathered four other children. The best part is that there’s a girl who’s exactly the same age as her. Leah is too excited for words, but then there’s the issue with her mom. See her mom doesn’t think there is anything wrong with the family that Leah currently has and doesn’t understand that Leah feels incomplete.

All while growing up, becoming a teenager, and dealing with the fun of eighth grade, Leah struggles to find out who her real family is. Rebelling against her parents, finding trustworthy friends, and most of all learning about oneself, we will all be able to relate to Leah’s warm story.

What to say about this book? I loved it; It was heartfelt; it was magnificently constructed; or all of the above? Actually it was more than the above. Courtney Sheinmel created a one-of-a-kind novel that was one of the truest self discovery novels I have ever read.

Whether old or young, everyone can relate to Leah. Whether it be finding the right friend that you can trust with a powerful secret, loving the skin you’re in, or discovering the true meaning of family we can learn so much from Leah. Leah also makes us remember what it was like to be an eighth grader, and she grew up in just the right way. She rebelled, she apologized and most of all she didn’t made it look easy. Most books these days show us that becoming a teen is easy for the most part. While you may hit a couple of bumps along the way, overall it will be like nothing happened. Courtney Sheinmel reminds us that it’s not all fun and games, but we will survive.

Another great thing about this book is the reality of it. I could really envision Leah’s life and felt like I was right there walking beside her. I loved how the sights were real and the story just unfolded in my head. I felt like I was actually living the story instead of just hearing it.

Overall this was an amazing book that readers of any kind will enjoy. Whether you are a young reader, a teen, or even an adult, you will be mesmerized by Leah’s story and will truly value the meaning of family. I truly hope that Ms. Sheinmel will continue on as an author as she has an amazing talent that definitely shone through in her debut novel.

This is yet another wonderful Class of 2k8 release that will be available on October 21.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Meredith and Mallory Brynn are identical twins who were born on either side of midnight on New Years Eve. While the girls think of themselves as one, they are very different. Meredith is bubbly, outgoing, and a cheerleader, while Mallory is thoughtful, independent, and plays soccer. Though they have their differences the girls share so much; dreams, experiences, and even their own private language.

On the night of their thirteenth birthday the twins are caught in a mysterious fire that nearly kills them both. The weirdest thing is that Mallory knew days before that there was going to be a fire, she just didn’t know when. After the fire Mallory and Meredith are both having visions - though they are very different from each other’s. The bond between them starts to decompose and the girls don’t know why.

As their bond disintegrates the girls learn that they each have been given a gift, different from the other. One can see the future, the other the past. These visions will give the girls insight to some events that have been happening around town involving someone close to them. The girls feel like they sometimes know more then they should, or want to know, but it doesn’t stop them from wondering if these visions are actually true and what they should do about what they see.

This was definitely an interesting read. I really liked it, but I felt like there was a lot lacking. There was so much potential for the book and I just felt like the book didn’t live up to what I thought it would. The characters were a little flat and a lot of the time I couldn’t tell the difference between the two girls, even though they were supposed to be so different. There were also a lot of places were the story got very confusing. I don’t know if it was just me, but I felt the author was trying too hard and giving us too much information making it difficult to understand what was actually going on. However I did like the twists that the author put into the story. There were quite a few events that occurred that I really didn’t see coming. I also thought that the girls’ visions were really cool. It was interesting to see that one saw what was going to happen and the other saw what actually happened. The author definitely left room for a sequel, which I do hope she writes. It would be very interesting to see what Meredith and Mallory made of their “powers”.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Horse of Her Own by Annie Wedekind

There is nothing in the world that fourteen year old Jane loves more than horses. Especially Beau, the horse she rides over at the local barn, Sunny Acres. While she loves Beau to death she still wishes that she had a horse to call her own. Even though Beau is not her own, Jane is excited to learn that she will get to ride him at riding camp this summer. What’s even more exciting is that she gets to spend six weeks with her best friend Robin. The down side is she will have to endure that group of rich girls whose favorite thing is to tease her. Just after camp begins though Jane receives devastating news. Beau has been sold. Jane’s heart breaks as she realizes her trusted companion is gone and so are her chances of participating in the end of summer show. All hope is not lost though. When Jane’s trainer offers her the chance to help train a new horse Lancelot, who is a little rough around the edges but has great potential, Jane is a little leery, but eventually she realizes that she can’t say no. With the help of the new stable boy Ben, Robin, and her trainer Susan, Jane embarks on a journey of hope and self-discovery that will change the way she sees everything.

A Horse of Her Own was a great book. I really enjoyed the compassion embedded in the pages and felt so connected with Jane. While I am not a horse-savvy person I felt that it was very easy to follow the story. I loved how Jane was able to discover herself in such an original tale. The other characters were also well developed. While Jane is definitely the center of the story I liked how the author put the spotlight on some of the other characters too. It gave a refreshing variety to the story and made me enjoy the book that much more. For fans of horse stories this is definitely a book for you, but even those who aren’t still pick up the book -it is definitely worth your while. It is a beautifully written novel about truly discovering yourself and learning to get back up when you’re pushed down.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt

Henry’s father always told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you. Henry never had to doubt his dad’s favorite quote until the night his older brother Franklin was hit by a pickup truck. Now Franklin lies in the hospital on the brink of death while Henry has to deal with not only his emotions, but those of the rest of his family’s. His father has retreated into his library and rarely leaves, his mother is trying to stay strong, but Henry knows she’s on the edge of breaking down, and then there’s his sister Louisa who won’t come out of her room for anything. Not only is there family drama, but the driver of the pickup truck was Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian who attends the same prep school as Franklin. This stirs many racial tensions within the small Massachusetts town that Henry and his family live in.

Not long after Franklin’s accident Henry finds Black Dog. Henry saves Black Dog from drowning and now she won’t leave his side. In Black Dog Henry finds a best friend, someone to help him see the light at the end of the bleak tunnel he seems to be stuck in. After school lets out Henry knows the only place he wants to be is Mt. Katahdin, the mountain that he was supposed to climb with his brother. So he sets off on an unforgettable journey with Black Dog and much to his chagrin his best friend Sanborn. Even though the boys don’t know exactly how they will get up to the Maine mountain, they set off early one morning only to run into Chay Chouan a few hours later. He too is trying to escape. Though it’s not the perfect situation Henry has no choice but to accept a ride from Chay. The three boys head off to Maine unsure of what to expect, but soon learning that the further away from Trouble you try and get the closer it seems to be. As the journey continues Henry learns that some things aren’t really as they seem and sometimes Trouble is necessary to help us make sense of our lives.

I’m just going to say it plain and simple - this book took my breath away! I felt like laughing, crying, and shouting for joy all at the same time as I turned the last page. Not having read anything of Gary D. Schmidt’s before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I’d heard lots of good things of the book so I thought why not pick it up. It did take me the first 50 pages or so to get into the book, as I really wasn’t seeing what was so great about it, but after that I was totally absorbed into Henry’s world and I couldn’t help but keep the book glued to my hands. The emotion that the author poured into the pages is indescribable and utterly amazing. I could sympathize with Henry and feel the loss of his brother, I could feel his discomfort when he was sitting in the car with Chay, and I could feel the love that Henry felt for Black Dog. Feeling all these things really made the book come alive for me and truly made me grateful for the life that I have. I also loved the characters. While Henry was obviously the main character, the other characters were just as strong. You could still feel their emotions and they played a big part in the book. I especially liked Chay. What I loved the most is that you could tell he had a history, he just wasn’t some person that was created and minimally developed. Chay was extremely strong and had been through a lot. And then he put up with Henry’s attitude and offered everything he had to Henry and Sanborn so that they too could escape the Trouble that was seeking them. Another component of the story that I really enjoyed was how intricately everything was connected. One thing discretely lead to another and formed this mesh that shaped the whole story. He made everything fall into place so nicely that it really made me wonder if real life works that way. The book also seemed sheltered from the modern world which I found extremely interesting. I mean you could tell that the book was set in present day, but it felt like it was set ten or twenty years ago. I’m not sure what invoked this feeling, but it was really neat. The book almost had this rustic feel because the characters weren’t caught up in lots of technology drama (as in who had the newest/best phone or what not) or a lot of issues that take over the plot of many of today’s novels. This book/story was thoroughly refreshing and it drew me in even more. Needless to say this is a book that I think everyone should read. It would be a great book to use in school as it was interesting and everyone could take something away from it. All in all it is a new favorite that has made a lasting impression in my mind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Vault’s Birthday Contest Riddle

This is the next leg of The Book Vault’s birthday book riddle contest! For more information on the contest, go here:
Each correct answer counts as an entry into the drawing on August 29th!

The imperfects are sent away and a crumpledwing faery cannot rule the land in this novel. 
But the heir to the throne may have something to say about that soon, after she learns more about acceptance and selflessness!
What book is this?

Know the answer? Send Dominique an email at with:

“BDAY CONTEST” in the subject line


The Riddle: The imperfects are sent away and a crumpledwing faery cannot rule the land in this novel. 
But the heir to the throne may have something to say about that soon, after she learns more about acceptance and selflessness!

What book is this?

Answer: (full book title + author)

The name of the site where you found the riddle: And Another Book Read

Your site’s URL: (if you have one)

Please send a separate email for each riddle you answer!

Good luck!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller

In 1887 Annie Sullivan arrived at Ivy Green, the home of Helen Keller and her family. She was sent to be Helen’s teacher, hoping that her own disability, being half-blind for most of her life, would help her reach Helen. When Annie first arrived Helen was out of control. Her parents catered to her every need because of her disabilities therefore she was an expert in the art of throwing a tantrum. Annie would take nothing of the sort and from the moment she set foot in the house she was determined to teach Helen manners as well as share her love of words. Annie battles through thick and thin to teach Helen. From losing teeth to having horrid scratches line her body, Annie never ceases to give up. In this incredible novel, we learn not only of Helen Keller’s struggles, but also the frustrations and joys of her beloved teacher, Annie Sullivan.

This was an astonishing novel told through an interesting point of view. Most novels that are about Helen Keller are through her perspective, not her teacher’s. I thought that this was a really interesting choice that the author made and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Annie’s voice was so true in this novel that I really felt like she was sitting there telling me the story, expressing her frustrations, and showing her joy, instead of me just reading them off of a page. Not only were the characters great, but the emotion that the author was able to put into her writing was phenomenal. Like I said before I could feel everything and vividly imagine it, it was wonderful. I loved how this book took a historical topic and made it fun to read. I have always been intrigued by Helen Keller’s life, but have honestly found it boring to pour over books that just go over fact after fact. This book was able to give me more facts then I’ve ever found and made it interesting and absorbing to read, there was really nothing dull about it. Not only was the story awesome, but the author’s style was exceptional. Some books I find that the style is okay and I don’t pay much attention to it, but this book the style just popped out at me with its eloquence and sincerity. I can definitely not wait for more of Sarah Miller’s books, as I’m sure they will be just as spectacular as this was.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker is the author of the amazing Violet series. Not only is she a great author, but she is also a fabulous person. She is so sweet, cute, and nice to everyone. This week she's celebrating the release of the third (and hopefully not last) Violet book, Violet in Private, in which Violet is off for college life. To read my review click here.

Today Melissa's going to tell us all about funny people and TV!! It's a very fun post. To read more about Melissa and her daily musings visit her blog. She hosts lots of weekly contests and this week she's celebrating her new release with even more contests!! I hope you all enjoy.


My friend Anne and I sometimes talk about how most people aren’t very funny. We consider ourselves extremely hilarious, so meeting unfunnies is disappointing. Then Anne talked to her friend from high school and they decided that we might all be VFP (very funny people) because we watched a ton of network sitcoms growing up—The Wonder Years, Growing Pains, Who’s the Boss, The Cosby Show, My So-Called Life, Friends—you get the idea. Not that all those shows were funny (some were really not), but they were all quippy and fast and sharp, which is how VFPs are.

I had cable television in my room from the time I was about 10 years old. Gasp! I know. Sometimes I question my parents’ sanity. But the truth is, my career as a magazine editor and as a writer has depended on pop culture knowledge. It’s important. It’s a job skill!

That’s why I think this study might be BS ( TV never made anyone lazy or stupid or averse to vegetables. It may even be creating future VFPs, and those are the girls I want to know!

What do you think: Is TV helpful or harmful for teenagers? I’m really curious! And I won’t argue back if you disagree with me. But I may ignore you and watch one of my two dozen DVR’d shows instead.

PS-My characters in the Violet books are big TV watchers—especially Roger.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Violet in Private by Melissa Walker

Violet’s back, but this time she really isn’t going back to the modeling world, or so she says. It’s time for her to be a normal college girl and head off for her first semester at Vassar. Even though college is supposed to be the time of a girl’s life, especially a fresh-faced model who’s been in many international Fashion Weeks, Violet is super worried that she just won’t cut it. She thinks she will resort back to her old self, the wall hugging, bland girl who just isn’t noticed.

It’s hard to resort to her old self though when her phone is constantly ringing off the hook with calls from Angela, Violet’s agent. Violet is still in high demand back in the city, but she’s not sure she wants it. Yes, it’s only a two hour train ride into the city, but Violet knows deep down that this is really not what she wants. She would much rather take up the internship at Teen Fashionista that she was offered. Her new best friend Kurt thinks that she should stick with modeling, but Roger is all for Violet leaving the runway for ever .

The thing is though things have been different between Violet and Roger ever since they kissed in Spain. Now Violet finally realizes her feelings for Roger, but he has a cute new girlfriend, who just happens to be Violet’s advisor at Teen Fashionista. Through it all Violet deals with college life, learning to embrace her body, and most importantly finding herself.

Is it even possible for these books to get any better? Well Violet in Private, completely showed me that it is possible as this is definitely my favorite Violet book, even though they are all AMAZING!!!

I feel like I have a new best friend in Violet, who is one of the best characters ever created. She is extremely real. While she might be a model she still has those everyday insecurities that we all face. She worries about gaining a few pounds and she’s worried that people won’t accept her. I know I can relate to this all to well and I feel really connected to Violet since she was able to overcome these obstacles in her life. Violet is an awesome role model not just for the girls in the book, but for girls everywhere. She promotes loving your body for what it is and to not let others dictate what is the “perfect body.” Not only is Violet real, but she is incredibly likeable. I mean she’s helplessly in love with her best friend, she’s nice to everyone (even if she doesn’t like them!) and is very witty. Now that I’ve raved a ton about Violet, I have to talk about Kurt. Kurt is by far the funniest character I have ever come across in a book! The comments that he made were so funny that I giggled every time his name came up. Not only is he hilarious, but he has such a huge heart that I could feel his love across all those pages! I only wish I had a friend just like Kurt.

Now I can’t not mention the author’s style. Her words elegantly flow off the page creating a world so real that I felt I could just step right in. She puts such emotion into her writing that I know what the characters are feeling and don’t have to guess. I also love how Melissa makes the fashion world fun. I mean I am certainly not fashion savvy, but I felt like I knew what was going on and I could really picture what was happening instead of flailing around in the dark.

This is a wonderful series that I urge you all to read if you haven’t already. I think teens of all ages would thoroughly love this book and take a lot away from it. As I’m sure you can tell I loved this book and plan to read it over and over and over again!

Now I am desperately hoping for more Violet books, but right now it’s in the hands of the publisher if there are going to be more so PLEASE support Violet and her fabulous friends!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Fifteen year old Chloe Saunders has always just felt normal. Yes her mom died when she was younger and her dad isn’t home very often, but she strives to fit in, get good grades, one day become a great movie director, o and she can see ghosts. Normal, right? After seeing her first ghost Chloe feels like she’s living in a horror movie, not directing it which she would prefer much more. When she runs into a ghost at school she completely freaks out and ends up getting put into Lyle House, a group home for troubled teens. What Chloe doesn’t understand is why she can’t just be at home and instantly despises life at Lyle house, but she knows that if she’s on her best behavior she will get to go back to her “normal” life. Then Chloe realizes that the guests at Lyle House are not your average teens. Yes, they all are supposed to have issues or else they wouldn’t be there, but these kids have more strengths than issues. For example, there’s Derek who is super strong and Simon seems to have some magic within his fingers. Could these kids just have really weird medical conditions or is there some other, darker, reason that they are all at Lyle House? Chloe is determined to find out and hope that the ghosts she is seeing at Lyle House won’t get her first.

Good or bad first?? Well since there isn’t much bad to this book let’s tackle that first!

The only real issue I had with the book is that the characters weren’t as developed as they could have been. I felt like all the kids at Lyle House had similar personalities and just weren’t as interesting as I would have expected. Chloe was well developed though. I was able to relate to her teenage insecurities and I loved that she didn’t whine about them. She knew that whining wasn’t going to help things and she embraced her imperfections and lived with them. I think this is a great message to send through a book since it is a real issue today in many teenagers.

Other than that though the book was great. It was a light, fast read even though it was thicker book. Kelley Armstrong didn’t waste anytime getting to the root of the store, which I loved. Even the first few chapters were riveting even though they were just going over Chloe’s life before she was shipped off to Lyle House. And then once she was at Lyle House the book picked up even more and threw you into Chloe’s life whether you ready or not! Then talk about suspense! Kelley Armstrong definitely has a handle on what a “cliffhanger” is!! I couldn’t put the book down it had such a strong grasp on me. Of course the ending was the biggest cliffhanger of all, leaving me super anxious for the next book in the trilogy which hits shelves Spring of next year. I also loved the premise of the book. Being able to talk to ghosts. I mean talk about freaky and cool all wrapped up in one!! Overall I was seriously impressed with Kelley Armstrong’s first YA book and I seriously hope she will continue her adventure in the YA world with many, many more books!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Carrie Jones

Carrie Jones is the fabulous author of Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend (which won quite a few awards and was nominated for a few more), Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape), and finally her latest release (which comes out today and is totally AMAZING!!) Girl, Hero. And to think this girl just graduated from Vermont College’s MFA program for writing. For my review of Girl, Hero click here.

Carrie was part of the Class of 2k7 and lives up in Maine, where I'm hoping she's working on a new book!! She's a very funny lady, who thoroughly enjoys Skinny Cow fudgicles, as do her cat and dog.

To learn more about this hilariously awesome author visit her at:

Her Website
Her Myspace or
Her Livejournal

Enjoy her guest blog!!


Okay. So, I guess a lot of you know that writers are really REALLY really insecure. And to make it worse we have these things called 'internal editors' who make us doubt ourselves ALL THE TIME. My internal editor is John Wayne, this dead movie star who shows up in my book GIRL, HERO.

Today is one of my all-time insecure days because it's GIRL, HERO's release day. So, I'm:

1. Worried no one will notice it exists.
2. Worried no one will carry it and people will have to ask for it to be special ordered
3. No one will do that either.

Mr. Wayne: Well, little writer, it's happened again, hasn't it?
Me: Can we please not talk about this, Mr. Wayne.
Mr. Wayne: Talk is cheap, I get you, but I think it's fine to put your fears out in the open, saddle up, and shoot 'em down.
Me: That's pretty violent, Mr. Wayne.
Mr. Wayne: Ah, yep.
Mr. Wayne: You know, as I've told ya before, 'Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."

Me: Okay! Okay! Stop giving me the glare down. You are dead. You are a dead movie star, remember?
Mr. Wayne: I try not to.

Me: Fine. I am scared because my third book is coming out soon, the GIRL, HERO book.
Mr. Wayne: You should be celebrating. Hold on. I got me a bottle of Old Duke somewhere --
Me: It's 8 a.m.
Mr. Wayne: Yeah, so?
Me: See? Now I have to take care of you just like Maureen O'Hara did in that movie...
Mr. Wayne: Yeah, so? I kind of like it.

Me: You're supposed to be taking care of me! I'm the needy writer who is really stressed about her next book coming out.
Mr. Wayne: Well, what's making you so stressed?
Me: I'm worried no one will a. read it, b. like it, c. notice it exists.
Mr. Wayne: I'm in it, right?
Me: Sort of.
Mr. Wayne: Then people will notice it exists.
Me: I wish.
Mr. Wayne: What do you mean by that, neurotic little writer person?
Me: Well, you are a dead movie star from a long time ago.

Mr. Wayne: Woman, I'm an American icon!
Me: Uh... sort of...
Mr. Wayne: What do you mean 'sort of?' I'm on a damn coffee mug, see?

Me: So are the phrases: #1 Dad and I'm with Stupid
Mr. Wayne:
Me: Please don't cry, Mr. Wayne.
Mr. Wayne:
Me: You're still an icon, Mr. Wayne. Really. I promise, just like the Pinto.
Mr. Wayne: The horse?
Me: The car.

Mr. Wayne: Why don't you go sit at your computer and worry about your book?


It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

The 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.

Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”

What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.

This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.

The 31st, 2006

So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.

And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.

Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.

The 4th, 2006

Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.

That is so sweet of him.

But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.

On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.

The 9th, 2006

Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.

He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.


So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….


Thanks again to Carrie!! I hope you all enjoyed her post, I know I did. Also don't forget to go and get Girl, Hero today, or while your at that Breaking Dawn Party tonight!! This way we can help Carrie relieve herself of those nasty insecurities:)


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