Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
This was an amazing, scintillating, glorious book. Nothing could have torn this book away from me, except maybe a Minotaur!! The story was original and captivating and just all around great. Percy’s character was so likeable that I immediately wanted him to be my best friend, even though he’s only twelve. As I am a huge fan of Greek mythology this was great, but the story in itself was just so fantastic that no matter who you are you will enjoy it. The story that Rick Riordan weaved was so full of detail, yet it moved extremely quickly. There were so many twists and turns that I was guessing until the last page, and even then you’re still hanging on the edge. This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, and currently there are three others. While this is classified as a middle-grade book I think readers of any age will enjoy it. The level of adventure and suspense will intrigue anyone’s mind! I definitely cannot wait to read the next book, The Sea of Monsters.
Friday, May 30, 2008
And Another Awesome Author Visit: Sara Shepard
Congratulations to .....
Harmony Book Reviews,
Now for this week's And Another Awesome Author Visit.....may I introduce the completely awesome Sara Shepard. She is the bestselling author of one of the best series (in my opinion), Pretty Little Liars. This past week was the release of the latest book in the series - Unbelievable. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I've already heard many great things about it. For all of you avid readers of the series, "A" is going to be unveiled in this book!!! I also want to give a big THANK YOU to Sara for participating.
Well, I try to be both funny and a little sad and a little scary. The funny part comes from my family-- my parents, my sister, and my relatives all have great senses of humor. We're all very self-deprecating, which I think comes through in my writing. I think whatever I put my characters through, I ask myself how I'd feel in the same situation. I really try and connect with their emotions, drawing through some of my own experiences. I think it makes the writing come alive
The hardest is the waiting-- from editors, agents, etc. Whenever I send off a manuscript, I immediately think of all the things that are wrong with it. And then it's weeks before I actually hear what I need to change. It's also hard sometimes to work from home without a lot of interaction. that's also the best, however-- when I had an office job, I used to write stories during downtime. But I shared an office with two other people, which meant they were always on the phone, etc., which was pretty distracting. It's also a thrill to be able to write AS MY JOB. I love writing-- it really gives me a pleasure to do it, most of the time, even when all of my sentences come out wrong-- so it's a dream come true that this is actually what I do for a living. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities I've been given.
5. What’s your ideal writing environment?
Basically in my office, which is a room in my house. Preferably the morning, really early, like 6:30-8:30. But inspiration comes often when I'm away from the computer. Often, I go running to clear my head, and the best runs are when I have about six ideas all at once, cascading one after another. Everything clicks. Then I quickly rush home and type notes so I remember my thoughts. The worst is when I forget!
6. What are your top three favorite books of all times?
7. If you could choose any one of your characters, which would you be?
If I could choose to be any of them? Well, being that I AM parts of all of them...and sometimes not-so-great parts, I’m not sure I’d want any of their lives! They've had to deal with some pretty scary things, after all. I don't think I want A torturing me about my secrets!
I'm totally not a schemer, in high school or now. But now that I think about it, I DID start to make things happen when I was older, once I lived in New York. When I wanted an internship at Elle magazine, I went up to one of the fashion editors that I vaguely knew (friend of a friend) and basically said, point-blank, "I'm going to be your intern." And she took me on! (So yes, I knew Nina Garcia, although I'm sure she wouldn't remember me. I wasn't her intern. And she was fabulous even back then, and this was 1996.) I also convinced my editors at Alloy Entertainment that they should pay attention to me (and let me develop projects with them) by crashing their Christmas party in 2001. My sister worked there as an intern, and though the party was strictly no-outsiders-allowed, I went anyway. But the schmoozing worked-- I started developing projects with Alloy soon after. And that eventually led to Pretty Little Liars!
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read a LOT. Don't be afraid to show others your work. Don't be afraid to take criticism. Develop a thick skin. Keep trying. Writing is TOUGH. I've probably written thousands of pages that haven't seen the light of day. If you really love it, you have to keep going.
10. I heard that you’ve recently sold your first adult novel to Simon Schuster. What’s that one about?
There will be 8 books. I'm working on book 5, Wicked, right now. Yay!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Airhead by Meg Cabot
This was absolutely the best Meg Cabot book I have ever read. She has really outdone herself with this book. I really don’t think this book could have gotten much better. What I especially loved was that you were thrust into the story from the very first page, yes you were hooked, but the drama started right away. There weren’t many pages about who each character was and what they were doing, it was just the story. I also found that this book flew by. It literally pulled you into Em’s world and didn’t release its grasp on you until the very last page. When the book was done I found myself stunned that it was already over as I felt like I had just started it. The book included Meg Cabot’s usual funny and sarcastic writing style, which I love, and the characters were completely great. Each character really seemed to come to life in their own way and the reader was given the opportunity to form their own opinion of each character. The twists in this book were completely unthinkable. I was so shocked at some things that it made the book even better. I absolutely recommend this book to all Meg and non Meg fans alike, as I am sure you will love it. I cannot wait until the next book in this trilogy, Being Nikki, which will be released next May.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
WOW!! This is what was going through my head as I finished the book. It was amazing in every sense and Elizabeth Scott has out done herself yet again. I’m really not sure how it’s possible, but her novels just get better and better as they come out! This is by far my favorite of her novels, though they are all excellent. The story was completely original and was beautifully written. There were no hitches between paragraphs where I felt myself wondering what was going on, everything just flowed. Danielle’s character was also one of a kind. She had so many emotions that she thrust upon the reader that I truly felt like she was telling me her story I wasn’t just reading it. Also Elizabeth Scott has once again shared an important lesson, not accepting the life your parents had as your own, and made it clear to the readers in a fun way. I was really intrigued to read about how Danielle struggled deciding what kind of life she wanted to live, not just the life she was always used to. I think this is definitely a prominent issue with teens today and like I said before, Elizabeth made thinking about the importance of this decision very real and significant. I absolutely cannot wait to read more by Elizabeth Scott as she is truly a gifted, wonderful, and fabulous author.
Friday, May 23, 2008
And Another Awesome Author Visit: Beth Kephart
Beth is here today to celebrate the upcoming release of her latest novel House of Dance. This is a great book that deals with learning to treasure the last days with a loved one. It will have you in tears and make you really sit back and contemplate your life. Click here for my review. Beth Kephart is not only a fabulous author, but she is also a breathtaking photographer. To see some of her great pictures be sure to check out her blog. I hope all of you enjoy the interview with Beth and that you will all go and run out to the store on Tuesday (May 27th) and buy House of Dance. You will certainly not be disappointed.
P.S. Read all the way down to the bottom and you'll find an extra special surprise!!
In your latest novel House of Dance, Rosie finds a passion for dance. Do you share her same passion? If so how were you introduced to dance?
I have always loved to dance. Always loved to put the music on, loud, and get lost inside it. I danced as a little girl, I ice skated (which is dancing on ice), I danced alone with my own shadow for years. Two years ago, my husband, who had never danced, decided he wanted to learn ballroom dancing (DANCING WITH THE STARS was on TV) and suddenly we were there, at this wonderful studio, taking lessons. I’ve been dancing ballroom ever since and it’s proven to be the most challenging, most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. Every single time you think you understand a particular move, a particular beat, a way of following, you realize that you are still such an amateur, still just scratching the surface of the rumba, cha-cha, samba, fox trot, waltz, tango, bolero...the dance of the hour.
Where did you get your inspiration for House of Dance?
HOUSE OF DANCE emerged during a very sad time in my life. I had lost a friend, quite suddenly, to cancer; there wasn’t even time to say goodbye. I was angry with me for not knowing that my friend was sick. I wanted to write a story in which a character—Rosie—did the right thing for a loved one at the end of a life. In the course of writing HOUSE, my own mother grew gravely ill. So there is a lot of lived emotion in this book.
How did Rosie’s character come about?
Rosie was the name my grandmother called me when I was a little girl. There is some of me in Rosie’s way of seeing, but Rosie’s life details are entirely fiction. You write a first sentence, then another. You discover your heroine.
I know that authors find it hard to pick their favorite character, but which of your characters is your favorite? Which one is most like you?
Hmmm. I really don’t think I could do that. I’ve written a book in which a river tells her own story, in her own words, and I loved that character (FLOW: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PHILADELPHIA’S SCHULYKILL RIVER). I admire Elisa’s spunk in UNDERCOVER and Rosie’s goodheartedness in HOUSE. The characters really do become their own creatures—and when a book is done I see them as being quite separate from me, not characters I’m entirely responsible for. So in the same way that I’d never choose a favorite friend or a favorite child, I don’t think I can choose a favorite character.
What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer? The best?
Hardest is having to work all the way through a book, by myself, feeling at risk and in danger. Will anyone like this book? Will anyone buy it? Am I just talking to myself? The best is getting to the end of that first draft and, if it works, being able to stand back, by myself, for that unjudged, private moment, and say: I did it. I made it through.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
I need absolute quiet. I am writing more and more of my work by pen and pad, at first. Sometimes on the deck outside, in the shade. Sometimes (early mornings) on the living room couch. And then I come into my beautiful tiny office and try to read my own chicken scratch and type in what I’ve handwritten. It’ll all go through 20 rounds of editing, at least, before it is done.
What are your top three favorite books of all times?
Wow. This is always so hard. Michael Ondaatje’s RUNNING IN THE FAMILY or COMING THROUGH SLAUGHTER would have to be on the list. Wallace Stegner’s CROSSING TO SAFETY. Alice McDermott’s WEDDINGS AND WAKES. Though tomorrow I’d put a Colum McCann novel on the list, or a book of Stanley Kunitz poems, or a fragment from Pablo Neruda, or Seamus Deane’s READING IN THE DARK.
What’s one quirky thing that you care to share?
Oh dear. Well, let’ see. This isn’t quirky, but it’s true: I run a business, and so most of my time is spent working for clients—researching and writing annual reports, commemorative books, marketing materials. Most of my literary friends don’t quite understand this about me; they think it rather odd. As for quirky: When I believe I’m alone on a city street, I will sometimes dance a bead of bolero.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have two more YA novels due out in the next two years from HarperTeen — NOTHING BUT GHOSTS and THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE. I’ve just completed a first draft of a novel tentatively called DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have to let it sit and stew awhile. I also have a children’s picture book in the works.
This is a totally unrelated question, but which came first your love of photography or writing?
Well, that’s a very interesting question. When I was in fourth grade (I think it was fourth grade) a teacher took me to her house one weekend and showed me how to build a pinhole camera. I was fascinated from the first. But I was also writing my first (poor) poems at that time. I’ve always put my photos and my writing together, when I could — in scrapbooks, in real books (my third book, STILL LOVE IN STRANGE PLACES, is a memoir about being married to a Salvadoran man, and a series of photos of his country), on my blog. Both writing and photography are about ways of seeing; they are tools that enable me to see more clearly. I find them both to be essential.
Now for that extra special surprise!! Beth (and Harper Collins) have given me some books to give away so that means I have not one, but THREE copies of House of Dance to giveaway!! All you have to do is comment or send me an email to be entered. In your comment tell me the title of your favorite book read this year and what book you are looking forward to most this summer!! All comments/emails must be in by next Thursday, May 29 at midnight. Winners will be announced next Friday. Good luck to everyone!!
Friday, May 16, 2008
And Another Awesome Author Visit: Siobhan Vivan
I figured out that I wanted to be a writer during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I had taken a creative writing summer course at an art school and had the best time making my own zine. It was the first time I had ever wrote something just for myself—without an assignment or a prompt from a teacher—and I was surprised at how many crazy ideas I came up with.
2. What sparked the beginning of A Little Friendly Advice?
The story grew out of a high school memory when my group of friends split on how to handle a situation with a girl who was in a bit of emotional trouble with her boyfriend. Most of us were okay with letting her call the shots on how she wanted to handle things, even though she kept making the same mistake. But another friend thought we should draw a line in the sand for her own good. I thought it was an amazing situation, where a friend could be kind of hurtful AND caring in the same moment.
3.Which character do you see the most of yourself in?
I think I am most like Katherine. I am sort of a loud mouth and seek people’s attention, but all my bravado is a cover for some major insecurities that I have.
4.Out of all the characters you created in ALFA, who is your favorite?
Charlie! I want to date him!
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
I have two tattoos!
8. What can we expect from you in the future? What are you currently working on?
My next YA novel will be out in Spring 2009. It’s called SAME DIFFERENCE, and I am so excited about it! It’s the story of a girl name Emily who grows apart from her childhood best friend.
9. What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer? The best?
The hardest part of being a writer, for me, is being so emotionally involved with my work. When the writing is going well, I’m over the moon. But when things get hard, or I don’t know what I am doing, I get very, very depressed.
But the best part is hearing from readers who liked or connected with my book. That makes all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile!
10. In ALFA, Ruby discovers a love of photography. Do you too share her picture taking passion?
11. What’s your ideal writing environment?
A coffee shop with no internet. Internet is my vice!
12. Are there any questions you wish I’d asked?
I wish you’d asked me how cute you were, and I’d have said very.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
How to Build a House by Dana Reinhart
First, I have to say this surpassed and exceeded every expectation I had of this book. Not only was it an amazing and heart felt love story, but also an extremely real story of finding oneself. At the beginning of the story Harper is lost, struggling like many of today’s teens with the divorce of her parents. She grows so much as a person that it inspires the reader to really look at their life and see if they can make themselves a better person. Harper’s character is beautifully created and hard to forget. She is very honest and so real that she’s hard not to love. And then there is Teddy. Whew! He sounds like the ultimate boyfriend. There’s everything to love about him and it drives me crazy that he’s not real. I mean who wouldn’t want a guy who wants to make your life better and really wants to know everything about you. Besides the characters Dana Reinhart’s writing style was one of a kind. I really enjoyed how the story kept flipping from Harper’s current life in Tennessee and then what her home life was like. Overall this was a stunning novel that I highly recommend. I completely loved it and will definitely read it over and over again!
*This book will be released on May 27, 2008.
*Also reviewed for Teens Read Too.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Honestly I was expecting a lot out of this book because John Green’s other novel, An Abundance of Katherines, is one of my favorite books. While I liked this book it didn’t seem to captivate me as much as his other one. While Green’s phenomenal writing style shone throughout the book I just couldn’t get into the story. What surprised me the most about this book was the amount of controversial topics discussed. There were references to sex, drugs, and alcohol. I found it very interesting the way that John Green incorporated the effects of these substances into his book. This is definitely a book for older readers because of all the references and also some of the language. As I mentioned before Green’s writing style is amazing and vibrant and makes the story come alive. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Ta-Da.....A winner and a FABULOUS author!!!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
WOW!!! This was seriously an amazing book. I was literally speechless after finishing this book. I have always been a big fan of Murdock’s books, but this one now holds a special place in my heart. I mean you take magic, a princess with an attitude and Murdock’s brilliant writing style mix them all together and how can you not expect to get a phenomenal story? From the first sentence the book pulls you in and envelops you in Ben’s story, making sure you never want to leave. I think that this is actually one of my new favorite fairy tales. While it may not be your everyday fairy tale there is just something about it that makes you want to read it over and over again. Another amazing thing about this book is that it doesn’t leave you after the final page. You’ll want to keep reliving the book and thinking about what could happen next. As you can probably guess I highly recommend this book and suggest you run out to the bookstore or library and grab a copy. This is truly one of those books that you can just escape into.
Monday, May 5, 2008
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.
"As I considered it, this was actually a positive sign. After all, I was accusing both the mirror---which obviously was not stupid, for it had magical powers as most mirrors do not---and myself as embodied in my reflection. Imagine if my reflection had agreed that indeed I was stupid; what a blow that would have been."
Can you guess the book?? Leave your comments as to what book this excerpt is from and you could win a fun pin and bookmark featuring Daphne Grab's upcoming book Alive and Well in Prague, New York. So lets hear those guesses and I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner on Friday May 9th. So that means you have until May 8th at 11:59 EST to enter. All you have to do is guess to be entered.
As it seems everyone has been tagged I will openly tag everyone. So if you haven't had the pleasure of participating in such a fun event I tag you.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
The Writing on the Wall by Wendy Lichtman
First of all I was a little skeptical of the book. While it was cool that Tess was a math geek, like me, I wasn’t sure I would like the book because it appealed to a younger audience and I hadn’t read the first book in the series, Secrets, Lies and Algebra. Wow was I proved wrong! I enjoyed every aspect of the book and ended up really, really liking it. It was completely unnecessary to read the first book and very easy to relate to Tess. I was always anxious to read what was coming next and wasn’t able to predict anything. I especially enjoyed how real the novel was. The ending wasn’t perfect, the characters weren’t exempt from certain situations, and the characters were completely enjoyable. I highly recommend this book for all reader, but I think middle grade readers will particularly enjoy Writing on the Walls. All in all a really good book that will satisfy a hunger for mystery, humor, a little romance, or maybe all three.
*This book will be released on May 27, 2008
X Marks the Spot
So the my scavenger hunt is finally over. There were many guesses both correct and incorrect and I'm finally going to reveal the answers.
Clue #1: In this book one of the main characters has the same name as a sticky sweetener. This book is also currently featured at one of my favorite bookish websites.
Clue #2: This book’s author won two pounds of coffee a month for a year just for publishing a poem of hers, and to think she didn’t think she was very good. As for the book, well shouldn’t we all make a “bestie” out of a “worstie” situation?
Now for the moment you've all been waiting for.....the winner!!
You have 72 hours to contact me with your information or else I will pick a new winner.
Thank you all for participating and don't forget to enter my current contest.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Author Visits and a Contest
Lately though I have had a complete lack of creative ideas and need help with coming up with a fun and witty name for my author feature. So I thought I would host a contest for the best name. All you have to do is either comment or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name suggestion. You have until May 8, at midnight E.S.T. to send me your suggestions. I decided this time to open my contest up to anyone and everyone, no matter where you live. This way I can have a great pile of names to choose from. On May 9th I will pick my favorite name and the lucky winner will get this fabulous prize:
So bring on your creative ideas and next Friday I will unveil the winner and have my first author visit.
**Looking for another great contest? Enter The Story Siren's Frostbite contest. All you have to do is comment. Really could it get any easier?