Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Lissa and Rose have an unspeakable bond, even by vampire standards. The two ran away from their school, St. Vladimir's two years ago with nothing but each other. Now they've been caught and must return.

St. Vladimir's is not your average boarding school. It's the school for Moroi and Dhampirs. Morois are mortal vampire royalty with a deep connection to elemental magic. They are at a constant risk though. See Strigoi, or immortal vampires, hunt them and are always looking for ways to kill them. That is why there are Dhampirs, or half vampires. A Dhampir's most important job is to protect the Moroi they are assigned to. Rose is Lissa's Dhampir and is dedicated to Lissa in every way. She even tries to protect her from the nasty ridicule thrown at her by students at school.

While St. Vladimir's is supposed to be a safe haven for Morois there is something lurking within the gates that puts Rose and Lissa on edge. Could it be that there is a traitor within the gates?

While battling the social difficulties that arise at the school such as rumors and jealous girlfriends, forbidden romances, and the nasty looks, the girls realize that the most important thing to do is keep Lissa safe and protect her from the threat that she is wanted as a Strigoi.

Yet another great vampire book, of which I am completely addicted to! I really enjoyed this book and was easily swept up into Lissa and Rose's lives. Before I get to all the parts of the book that I liked, I must talk about the beginning. I was completely confused as to what was happening at the beginning. I even had to go back and make sure that I was reading the first book in the series and not a sequel. I felt like that author thrust us into a situation without us knowing anything about the characters. Around the second or third chapter though the characters were explained and I felt like the story really begun. There was no more confusion and I proceeded to completely devour the book. I literally stayed up until all hours of the night in order to finish the book and for me that's saying something! I was really intrigued with the story line which was filled with suspense. While vampires were the central focus, I felt like it didn't take over the entire book and there were also some underlying plots. I liked how there was a love story between Rose and one of the other supporting characters. Overall I was really impressed and I cannot wait to read the sequel Frostbite and future books in the series.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

Persephone and Penelope Leeland are the twin daughters of a well known English viscount and are getting ready to be thrown into their first season. While you couldn’t tell the girls apart by looking at them, if you talked to them you would know that they are completely different girls.

All Penelope can talk about is the upcoming balls that the girls are planning on going to and the numerous gowns that she is going to wear. She’s loves all thoughts that have to do with future dances and possible husbands. Then there is Persephone. She would much rather hunker down and devote her time to magical studies. She really doesn’t want anything to do with finding a husband or dancing the night away in a dress that she can hardly breathe in.

Just as the season is about to begin the girls governess disappears. It’s up to the girls to figure out what happened. Along the way the girls will discover that the kidnapping of their governess has much to do with the plot to take away Princess Victoria’s power. Encountering many interesting people, including a mysterious Irish wizard and a boy that might just be husband worthy, the girls set off to solve the mystery.

I am a huge historical fiction fan as well as I love books that include magic. Putting the two together created an amazing book that I instantly fell in love with. I thought that the story was completely original and absolutely spellbinding. I was highly impressed with Marissa Doyle’s ability to captivate my attention throughout the whole book. I don’t think I actually put the book down once - which is a big thing for me! I thought it was really neat that the main characters were twins who really didn’t have much in common. The girls’ differences though made the book so interesting and it was really evident that they depended on each other for different strengths. Another really special thing about this book is that the story sticks. The story keeps ringing through my head and I’m still loving it! I was really impressed with Marissa Doyle’s debut novel and absolutely cannot wait for the sequel which will be out sometime next year (why o why does it have to be that far away!). It has definitely become a new favorite of mine and if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the Bewitching Season I highly suggest you run and get it now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage

Thirteen year old Marcus Kanenas has always been tormented because he lives his life in a wheel chair. Everyone sees him as an outcast, even though he really is a survivor and dreamer and he just wishes that he could escape his life as an orphan. In an attempt to escape Marcus creates a world in his head. Here animals talk and tell jokes, trees have personality, and best of all magic fills the air. He’s even appropriately named this far-off world Farworld. Little does Marcus know that Farworld actually exists.

One night a mysterious man comes to the boys house that Marcus is residing and claims that he is a state attorney. He has come for Marcus claiming that his parents have been looking for him. What Marcus doesn’t know is that this man has an alternate identity, one that could be very harmful to Marcus. When Marcus realizes what he’s up against he tries to escape. Before harm can befall upon him though he is somehow transported to Farworld. After recovering from the initial shock of waking up in new world Marcus meets Kyja, the girl that brought him into Farworld and the girl that is most often in his dreams. Kyja is different though. She is the only one in this world of magic that doesn’t posses any magical skills. While Marcus is an outcast on Earth because of his paralysis, Kyja is an outcast in Farworld because of her lack of skill. The only true friend she has is her skyte (a creature much like a lizard, but don’t ever call them that!) Riph Raph.

Together they must embark on a journey. It seems that Kyja’s good friend Master Therapass has been keeping a secret for the past thirteen years that is particularly dangerous to both Marcus and Kyja alike and could change the fate of both worlds. The Dark Circle, the evil doers in Farworld, have caught wind of this secret and are dead set on finding Kyja and Marcus. As the Dark Circle’s power grows it is harder and harder for the kids to stay away. Their only hope is to convince the mythical Elements- fire, earth, air, and water-to create a drift between the worlds. Their first stop is Water Keep. On their journey they will battle everything the Dark Circle can throw at them. Together they learn much about each other and themselves, forging an everlasting friendship.

Where to start, where to start?? Fantasy has never really been my thing. While I have always loved a good book that centers around magic, the whole alternate world has never really been my choice. When I got offered this book I thought, why not. I mean I feel that since I’m a reviewer now I should expand my genre horizons. With that said I was hoping to find a book that would introduce me into the fantasy world and give me a better look at what fantasy is really all about.

The first couple of chapters started off a bit shaky. I couldn’t really tell where the story was going and I felt like the characters were really mean towards Marcus. As I got further into the book though the story quickly picked up and I found myself enthralled. The author really has a talent for making a faraway place seem realistic. I felt like I was riding along with Kyja and Marcus in their journey across the country land of Farworld. The comments that some of the characters made, especially Riph Raph, were very humorous and I found myself chuckling many times. I also thought that the premise of the book was very interesting. I honestly didn’t think that the plot would appeal to me, but in the end I think it is what made the book so special. Not only did the kids go on a journey to find the Water Keep, but also on a journey of self discovery. I think this is an important theme in books and while it is common, J. Scott Savage was able to put a twist on it and make it original. The one thing that really made this message stand out to me was when Master Therapass said “The real power of magic lies within you. Who you are, what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become.” I think that this is so true and this message continues throughout the book, but not in a monotonous manner. I also think that the dialogue in the book was great. It wasn’t forced and it seemed to flow well. It also fit the characters. I’ve found that as I read more and more I realize that sometimes the author creates dialogue that doesn’t match the characters personality. In this book however, I could totally picture the characters saying what the author had written. The characters in the book were also good, not the best, but still had more life than many characters. I really found it unique that the main character in the book had a disability, but it wasn’t the main focus of the book. Marcus really came to almost accept his disability and learned to succeed with his disability. Overall I found myself riveted to this book, anxious to see what would happen next. Even now I am anxious to find out what will happen in future books, which I hope to see plenty of! For me this was a great introduction into the fantasy genre, which I will for sure be reading more of!

Friday, July 25, 2008


First of all I want to thank everyone for entering my birthday contest and giving me all those warm birthday wishes. After tallying up all of the entries (and there were a bunch) I picked 3 winners. And they are.....drumroll please....!!

Melissa Walker

The Story Siren


Beth Kephart

Please send me a quick email with your address and I will get back to you with the rather long list of books to choose from!! Thanks again to all that entered.

Now check out this great book trailer of Brooke Taylor's debut novel Undone. For my review of Undone, click here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cathy's Book and Caythy's Key by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman

Lately things haven’t been good for Cathy. Her father died, her boyfriend dumped her, and her grades aren’t so hot. While she can’t do anything about her dad and doesn’t really want to do anything about her grades, she is determined to figure out why her boyfriend dumped her and why in the world she has a needle mark on the inside of her arm when she comes home from his house. From the moment she decides to search out Victor and learn his secrets, she is swept up into a mystery involving some shady characters and business. Not only does Cathy have to deal with this weirded out mystery she’s gotten herself into, but there’s her moody mom and her best friend who’s having some problems of her own. In her journal Cathy retells her hilarious tales and takes a twisting journey to solve the mystery that every girl wants to know. Why did my boyfriend breakup with me?

Well I liked this book, but there were definitely some things that prevented it from being a great book. For me this book started off really slowly and I felt a little confused. As the book progressed it started moving at a lot faster pace and became quite enjoyable. Sometimes the book would switch to the past without a lot of notice and it would get confusing because you would be wondering what this had to do with the story line. Other than those couple of things, I enjoyed the book. Cathy has the ultimate sarcastic and funny attitude that I always appreciate in a book and her ideas are off the wall funny. Then there is the whole mystery. It is seriously the most unexpected thing. I mean nothing foreshadows what is about to happen and it would have taken me millions of years to guess! I can’t give away the surprise, but it was so crazy that I liked it. I also thought it was neat that the book is “interactive.” There is a pocket of evidence enclosed with the book which is the actual things that Cathy finds along her quest. Also there are a bunch of phones numbers and websites that provide other clues to the mystery. I think this is definitely a great book for reluctant readers as it’s short and easy to participate with, making reading fun. I am most certainly looking forward to reading the sequel Cathy’s Key.

Cathy is back and she is as curious as ever! It's been six months since Cathy's seen her boyfriend Victor and she is completely clueless as to where their relationship stands. Out of desperation she sets off to St. Louis in order to meet the fortune teller whose name was sent to her months earlier in a mysterious package. After her meeting with the mysterious Auntie Joe, who claims that Cathy's father didn't really die of a heart attack but that he was murdered, Cathy is as confused as ever. On her way home Cathy meets Jewel. Jewel immediately gets on Cathy's bad side when she tries to weasel money out of her. She's even bold enough to take Cathy's diary pages (recounting her last adventure) while Cathy is out buying food. Despite a bitter start, Jewel and Cathy become pseudo friends and spend the long, boring bus ride home talking. That is until Jewel disappears with Cathy's cell phone and diary pages, virtually stealing her identity. This is really the least of Cathy's problems because when she returns to San Francisco she is determined to find out what really happened to her father and also squeeze in time to find a new job. With the help of her best friend Emma, Cathy embarks on an adventure to find out more about her father and she will learn more than she could have ever fathomed!!

This book was undeniably better than the first. It didn't take me any time to get swept up into Cathy's hilarious adventures and mishaps. Cathy became very real in this book and her personality was absolutely brilliant. Her attitude was hands down one of the funniest I've ever come across in a book and I found myself howling aloud in amusement from the words that came out of her mouth. I also felt like the author was really able to pull off the plot in this sequel. In the first book it was a little questionable, but this time it really made the book shine. What's also great about this book is that it's really not necessary to read it's precedent, Cathy's Book, as it completely holds its own and won't confuse the reader. Overall I was highly impressed with this book and was completely shocked into loving it. It is a great summer read, not too long, but long enough to have substance, and I whole heartily recommend it to all!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss

Ellie is your ultimate band geek. She spends hours of her time practicing and he ultimate high school dream is to become the trumpet section leader. Now it’s Ellie’s senior year and she knows it will be her best. She is the trumpet section leader and even has a killer solo that begins the whole show. Hopefully she will even be able to finally forget about the traumatic crush she had her freshman year. Yes, that’s right, Ellie hasn’t been able to trust or like anyone since 9th grade when her crush on the current section leader got announced.

When the last day of band camp arrives Ellie is anxious to debut her solo. She’s been anticipating this moment for forever and knows that it will rock. That is until her eyes fall on a particular boy in the audience. One she’s never me before but who’s looking at her as is he’s known her his entire life. After that look Ellie is doomed. She proceeds to flub her first note and make mistake after mistake throughout her solo. Little does she know that this won’t be the last time she sees this guy and he will end up messing up more than just her solo. Is it possible tough that the will change Ellie for the better, or will she just retreat more into herself?

This is definitely a fun, light summer read. It has just the right amount of sass, humor and romance to peak anyone’s interest. Overall it was a good read with cute characters and a good plot. But I felt that the story was too rushed. It zoomed from one dilemma to the next without much reasoning. I also felt the book was very predictable and didn’t really keep me guessing. What I did really enjoy was Ellie’s character. She had a great (and very funny) attitude that kept me laughing throughout the book. I only wish she had spent more time making wise remarks and dealing with her feelings, than holding them up inside her an moping about them. While there was one unexpected twist there wasn’t much else there that I hadn’t read before. Despite these things I think that band geeks as well as non band geeks will find an entertaining read in Josie Bloss’ debut novel.

Friday, July 18, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Brooke Taylor

Yeah for another awesome author!! Today Brooke Taylor is in the hot seat and has a fabulous guest blog for us!! Brooke's debut novel Undone will be out on July 18. It is a completley amazing book and I hope you all get a chance to read it. To read my review click here. Brooke is also a member of the Class of 2k8, which is a fabulous bunch of authors all releasing their first YA or MG book this year. I hope you all enjoy the guest blog as I thought it was simply great!! Thanks again to Brooke for stopping by.


Have you ever asked—are they real?

Um… maybe I should clarify—have you ever wondered if the characters in a book were based on real people or how much of a book is based on real life?

There is a lingering fear in the friends of writers that they will somehow turn up in a book, like as the bad guy.

Popular advice amongst writers is: “Write what you know.” But do writers really do this? The short answer is yes. In probably every fictitious novel there is some amount of reality. My debut novel Undone is no exception.

So let’s look a little closer at what is real and what is fake…

Kismet, Colorado: Fake! (Well, sort of real too)

Kismet is a fictionalized mish mash of cities in Colorado. One is Evergreen, Colorado, which is an upscale bedroom community just up the hill from Denver, much like Kismet is. Another is Vail, Colorado, which is much further into the mountains, but has more of the luxuries that Kismet has, including a full service hospital (one that I had my knee operated in, believe it or not).

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The trip Serena took with Cole to The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is sort of real. I used to work in Estes Park and of course no visit there is complete unless you go to the haunted hotel made more famous by Stephen King’s The Shining. The other real part is that I had a friend who, like Cole, forced me against my will to watch the movie like a thousand times and then she obsessively quoted it for weeks. And let’s just say that all Shining quotes and no play, make Brooke a very dull girl! I’m also very creeped out by twin children.

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Many of the details that turn up in Kismet came from my years living in the mountains of Colorado. The extreme degrees of difference between the wealthy and the working class is very much a factor in most of Colorado’s mountain towns—you either live in a mansion of a log home or an apartment that hasn’t seen new carpet since the 1960’s. There is no in between. Both Vail and Aspen used to have Saab’s for police vehicles, just like Kismet was trying to get. And my favorite pizza place, Beau Jo’s, even makes an appearance. In RL, the original location is in Idaho Springs, Colorado. You must go if you ever are heading up I-70 on a ski trip.

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The List: Real!

When I worked at Keystone Resort I was sent, along with the whole IT department, to Denver to listen to a motivational speaker. One of the things they had us do was to write a list of five things we didn’t think we could obtain, but wanted to. I wrote down things like: Earn XYZ amount of money (double what I’d currently been making), Get out of debt, Finish writing a book, and Travel (something I couldn’t afford to do at the time). I folded up the list stuck it in my notebook and promptly forgot about it. (I’m sarcastic and skeptical, much like Serena is.) But just as the speaker promised, something in my brain refused to let go. Within two years I’d taken a job for 3 times my salary and it was on a cruise ship where I would spend the next five years traveling, not only getting out of debt but saving money, and finishing writing my first book. Amazing what a Post-it note can do!

The Car Crash: Real!

When I was in high school, there was horrible car crash. It didn’t occur on school property, and none of the students actually saw it—but the details were known to everyone. Two boys, brothers, were in a car driving ahead of their parent’s car when a drunk driver hit them head on. I’ll never get the images out of my head of the boy’s parents witnessing this happen. I remember what it was like at school, what was said and what was not said. I remember feeling a little bit differently about my plans for the day, about the dramas with my friends. It was a horrible day, but it was also a day that brought about changes in each of us.

Kori and Serena: Fake!

A part of me is each of my main characters, and their friendship reminds me of some of my own, but neither Serena nor Kori are based on anyone I know. They are their very own people, with their very own relationship, and their very own story. With just a little bit of detail stolen from the author lady.

So now you know what is real and what is fake!


UNDONE (Walker, July 2008)

Nominated for ALA's 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out and How I Found the Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood

Morgan’s sophomore year of high school ends with her boyfriend dumping her. Always being a bit dramatic Morgan chops off all her hair and dyes it orange. Along with this she mopes around at the beginning of the summer and seems disconnected. Hoping to brighten Morgan’s spirits her parents book her on a week long bike tour in Ireland. While they think this is a great idea, Morgan is not very pleased. Morgan’s spirits pick up a little bit when she meets Colin, the guy who drives the luggage van behind the bikers. The thing is all Morgan wants to do is wallow in her own self pity and can’t really shake off her sorrowful feelings - until she gets into a bike accident. When she gets thrown, head first, off her bike she finds herself in an alternate world. A world filled with old wee-Irish folk, magic, and a curse. It is up to her to save this enchanting world from the curse that has been plaguing them for so long. Can she save them and maybe find some luck and love along the way?

This was a fabulous book. It was the perfect mix of magic, romance, and reality. The book seemed to have an irresistible charm to it and I found myself not being able to put it down. Morgan’s character was completely unique and absolutely hilarious. She made all these snarky comments that made me fall on the floor laughing. It was also really nice to see her grow up and learn to get over the guy. The situations that Morgan found herself in were even funnier. From being in the magical world of fairies and folklore to being back on the bike trip Morgan seemed to always get herself into sticky situations. Another great thing about this book is its originality. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book that was quite like Why I Let My Hair Grow Out, which is so unusual as I read so much. And the cover … is it not amazing?? All in all I think this was a great novel and I can’t wait to read more about Morgan’s next adventure in, How I Found the Perfect Dress. And looky here!! I just so happen to have a copy right here.

Morgan is back and the only thing that’s different is that her hair is longer! While quite a bit of time has passed since her adventures in Ireland, and she is now an ocean’s length away, Morgan still feels like it was just yesterday that she was frolicking with the fairies and biking across Ireland. The worst part is she’s away from Colin, the guy she fell for while on the bike trip. Yes, they’ve exchanged the odd email here and there, but their relationship has pretty much fizzled out. Now all Morgan has to worry about is the upcoming Junior Prom. While all she really wants is for Colin to be her date, she knows that it’s not going to happen. That is until she gets an email from him telling her that he’s coming to the States. Of course Morgan is excited, but the moment he steps off the plane Morgan can tell that something is wrong. Colin seems to be exhausted. Morgan soon finds out that the fairy folk cast a spell on Colin making him dance his night away with fairies every night. Any hope Morgan had of taking Colin to prom vanishes when she discovers this as she knows he won’t want anything to do with dancing, let alone have the energy. The fairies better look out though because Morgan is determined to have Colin as her date and she will find a way to break the curse!

When I finished Why I Let My Hair Grow Out, I really didn’t think it could get much better. Well I stand corrected because the sequel outdid the first book. I mean the first one was awesome, but this one was even better. Morgan returns as funny as ever and definitely doesn’t disappoint. This book is completely irresistible and unforgettable. Lately I have found myself thinking about the events of this book over and over again, they seem to just be cemented in my mind and certainly have no intention of leaving! There was nothing that could’ve made me put it down. The fantastical mix of magic and romance is still great, but we get a little bit bigger picture of reality as Morgan returns to high school. I highly recommend this book as it will take you into another world, but then snap you back into reality just like a good book should! For fans of fantasy, romance, and just plain good books, go and walk….no run to your nearest library or bookstore and grab a copy. This book will certainly not disappoint and will take you on an adventure not even feasible in your wildest dreams!


Don't forget today is one of those lucky days where if you comment you get an extra entry in my birthday contest!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Robe of Skulls by Vivan French

Just above the town of Fracture lies a ghastly castle with an even ghastlier occupant Lady Lamorna, who is just plain freaky. Her latest wish is a magnificent black velvet gown that is studded with skulls. When she goes to pay for it she finds that her treasure chest is empty. Instead of canceling her order, Lady Lamorna concocts a plan to pay for that dress. Her plan includes a couple of members of the royal party, some frogs, and blackmail.

Then there is Gracie Gillypot. I shy girl who spends most of her days locked up in the cellar under the stairs of her house. When she's not spending time with the spiders under the stairs she is running after her step-father and complying with his every wish. When a talking bat finds her one day he promises her a better life and takes off. Days later he returns and helps Gracie escape. He's taking her to see the Ancient Crones who will hopefully be able to help her with her wicked step-sister and step-father problem.

Last but not least there is the prince that scoots under Lady Lamorna's radar. Marcus is a rather curious prince who really doesn't want anything to do with royalty. When his brother is turned into a frog he is determined to find the person who committed this heinous crime. Through a twist of fate he is paired up with Gracie and they set off to put Lady Lamorna in her rightful place.

This book was an absolute riot. While it is a super fast read you will find yourself enthralled with the quirkiness of the characters and loving the story. The illustrations are very comical too! While this is definitely a middle grade novel it is definitely suited for older and younger readers alike. While I didn't find the characters too well developed, I really enjoyed the quick moving plot that keeps taking twists and turns. I loved how the author connected everything in a way that wasn't predictable and added to the hilarity of the book. Overall I really liked this book and recommend it.


Don't forget today is one of those lucky days where if you comment you get an extra entry in my birthday contest!! (There's even two chances!!)

Looking to read Savvy??

Penguin is offering Ingrid Law's debut novel, Savvy, as an e-book for FREE!!! Yes that's right you can read it from the convenience of your computer screen for no charge from July 14-20. All you have to do is click here. I hope you all have a chance to participate in this fun activity!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Girl, Hero by Carrie Jones

Liliana’s or Lili as her friends and family call her, world is slowly falling apart. Her mother’s new boyfriend is a freak who has a nasty alcohol addiction and creeps Lili out as he stands silently outside of her bedroom every night. Then there’s her father who is a little emotional and very forgetful who Lili loves a lot, but just can’t seem to like. To top it all off her sister is in an abusive relationship and the one person she can turn to for relief, her best friend Nicole, has all of a sudden become a two-faced backstabber. All Lili wants in her life is a hero. Seeing that there is no one in her real life to turn to she writes letters to John Wayne. He may be a dead cowboy, but at least he is a positive influence in Lili’s life and knows what it takes to become a hero. When Lili befriends Sasha, a resident thespian, she convinces Lili to try out for the school play. Thinking there’s nothing to lose Lili goes for it hoping for the best. Along the way she meets Paolo, a wildcard in her foul hand of cards. He is sweet, caring, and extremely hot! Paolo, along with Sasha and a few others help Lili on her quest to becoming a hero.

How to tell you about this book??... It is powerful, hardcore, and utterly breathtaking. It made me cry and laugh and scream. Carrie Jones doesn’t hold back and makes us realize how lucky we are to have a life that isn’t infiltrated with hardship. This was one of the few books that actually made me cry. The situations that the characters were put into were told with such emotion that I couldn’t help but get all worked up. When I felt the characters did something stupid I screamed, when the teens were up to no good I laughed, and most of all I cried to think that someone as sweet as Lili had to endure such pain. The whole story was told through Lili’s letters to John Wayne so we were able to really get to know the true Lili. She didn’t hold anything back in those letters where she was searching for a hero. Not only was Lili’s character great, but I loved how she found herself. Even though she suffered from unimaginable heartache she was still able to find it inside herself to be the best possible person that she could be. Overall this was an outstanding book that dealt with some of the hardest subjects. There was abuse, friendship, loss and love which all combined to form one heck of a poignant and beautiful novel that I will never, ever forget.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Stephanie Kuehnert

Today's awesome author is none other than the magnificient Stephanie Kuehnert. Her recently released debut novel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, is a breathtaking and amazing novel! Click here for my review. Stephanie is a super cool lady as well as a great author so I hope you enjoy learning more about her.

Also there is a HUGE contest going on to support I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, so click here to learn more!!

To learn more about Stephanie click on these links.

Her Website
Her Blog
Her MySpace


1. What made you write about a girl dedicated to music? Was it just a thought or personal experience?

I wrote about it because women in music have had such an influence on my life. I've always been drawn to female musicians and female bands/female-fronted bands like Hole, Sleater-Kinney, and the Gits got me through my toughest time as a teen, so I wanted to pay tribute to them. I can't play music, so I thought I'd write about it.
2. When did you realize you wanted to become an author?
When I was like 5 years old. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved those Little House books. I loved reading and I started keeping a diary and writing short stories very young.

3. Do you see a lot of yourself in Emily? In any of the other characters?

Emily is the kind of girl I wish I could be, strong, sassy, funny, outgoing and musically talented. I don't have any of her talent and I've always been pretty shy. She's like my alter ego, which was why she was so fun to write.

Louisa is the woman I could have turned out to be. I went through a lot of hard stuff as a teen, including an emotionally abusive relationship. There was a time period where I dealt with it by moving to another city and partying a lot. I eventually forced myself to face my demons, but if I hadn't I could have been Louisa. I feel close to her for that reason.
4. How did the names for your characters come about? Did you know what they were going to be before you started writing the book or did you peruse endless pages of names from the internet?

The names came from various places. I have a baby name book and sometimes I do pick names according to their meaning using that, but I don't think I did that with this book so much. Emily is a name I've always loved. I had a Cabbage Patch Kid named Emma Loreli, but I used to think of her as Emily and wanted to one day name a daughter Emily. Emily is very much like my first child. Louisa and Molly are both names of friends I had in high school. Louisa's name I always loved and Molly was a friend I admired very much. My two good male characters, Tom and Michael, I realized after the fact that I subliminally named after my two best guy friends in high school, Tom and Mike. I had a lot of guy problems, but they were two great, dependable guys in my life and I named my great, dependable characters after them. Johnny is just the perfect punk guy name, y'know like Johnny Rotten. Then Marissa, Regan, and Colette are all just names I really liked.

5. What's your ideal writing location?
In my office. Preferably when it's clean, which is not often. And it's better when my cats aren't causing trouble in there. Also it's a little hot and not quite as sunny as I'd like so sometimes I move to the dining room table to alleviate those problems.

6. Do you listen to music as you write? If so what do you listen to?

No, I usually can't listen to music when I write. On the rare occasions that I can, it's music that inspires a particular character or scene. Or I have a playlist for my project. I usually listen to that before writing to get pumped up though. Lots of punk rock for IWBYJR, especially the female singers like Patti Smith, The Gits, Hole and The Distillers. But also Social Distortion, Joy Division, and Iggy Pop.

7. What's your advice for aspiring writers?

Read a lot! It is the best teaching tool. Also find writer friends either online or in your community and exchange work with them. Their feedback will be valuable and help you grow and you will be inspired by their work!
8. Now I know you love music, obviously, but can you play any instruments? Do you sing?
No, I can't! I've tried. I took guitar lessons, but was dismayed that I wasn't a natural talent and didn't have the discipline to practice. I was in chorus in fifth grade, but I don't think I can really sing. I usually only do it when I'm alone or in the car quietly to myself!

9. What are you currently working on?

I have another book from MTV Books that will be out next summer called Ballads of Suburbia. It's about a teenage girl who hangs out with a group of punks and skaters and misfits at a suburban park. All the kids have their different problems, especially with family, so they make like their own dysfunctional family and try to take care of each other the best they can but life starts to spin out of control. You can read an excerpt at

As to what I'll write next, I have two book ideas battling for control…
10. What are the last three books you've read? Do you prefer YA or adult books, or a little mix of both?
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Which is all genre, I realize, and usually I'm more of a straight up fiction person. But I like vampire and faery books and those are what those are. Ink Exchange and Wicked Game are my favorite books that I've read this year along with Leftovers by Laura Wiess. One is YA and one is adult. I read a mix of the two, but right now there is sooooooooo much good YA out there so I am mostly reading that.

11. What's one quirky fact you wish to share with readers?

My first concert was Janet Jackson. I was 10. It was her Rhythm Nation tour and I asked for tickets for my birthday. But it was soooooo loud that I could only stand to stay for like four songs. Right after that is when I got more into rock music and punk. I also learned to put toilet paper in my ears or get earplugs!
12. Are there any other questions you wish I had asked?

I always take this opportunity to ask: "Stephanie, how do you pronounce your weird looking last name?" And the answer is Key-nert. A lot simpler than it looks, huh!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

Emily Black’s mother left her and her father when Emily was only four months old. Even though she hasn’t had her mother, she’s had her mom’s best friend Molly, Molly’s daughter Reagen (who also happens to be Emily’s best friend) and of course her father. Then there is punk rock, which seems to just run in Emily’s blood. He mother claimed to have left to follow it, and it’s what brought her parents together.

Now Emily’s grown up and has a band of her own. Along with Reagen and Reagen’s boyfriend Tom, She Laughs is born. While the band sky rockets, Emily secretly hopes that her punk rock music will bring her mother back to her. Even though life may seem great at times, Emily takes the wildest ride of her life with all the classic ups and downs of a crazy roller coaster.

This book was beyond spectacular. I was definitely expecting a great book, but nothing as utterly amazing as I was presented. Now I must first start with the characters. Emily was by far my favorite. I felt like I could really connect and relate to her, even though I’m not into sex, drugs and rock & roll, I still felt like we shared something! Her emotion seeped through every page and she was just so real. I cannot even imagine what it would be like not to have a mother and growing up without that ever lasting best friend. It was also really cool that we share the same birthday!! Stephanie Kuehnert also did a great job creating her supporting characters. Reagen, Tom and Emily’s dad all had such life to them. They didn’t feel like they just faded into the background like some characters tend to, they popped right out of the book. Then there’s the time period. I loved how the book was set during the late ‘80s to late ‘90s, as it’s something completely different. It suits the book perfectly. Finally, I must address Stephanie Kuehnert’s writing style. I felt like she delivered the story point blank, but with enough detail to hold my interest. It is still hard to believe that this is her first novel, as it was one of the most poignant and incredible books I have ever read. I certainly hope that Ms. Kuehnert will continue writing as she definitely has an amazing talent! I highly recommend this book to everyone and anyone as it brings together the awesome world of music and reality to form a phenomenal story.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Imagine waking up in a house you don't remember. Not only is the house different, but you can't even remember your name. This is what happens to seventeen year-old Jenna Fox after she wakes up from a year long coma that was induced from a terrible accident. Not remembering anything is the least of Jenna's problems. She constantly feels different, is having to relearn everything from smiling to walking and can't get along with her parents for the life of her. This would be an issue for any teen, but when her memory slowly starts to return and there are lots of gaps, she starts having questions. She wonders what really happened in the accident and was her life really as perfect as it was portrayed in all the home videos she has been forced to watch. Everything comes tumbling down when Jenna learns the truth, but will everything be the same as it used to be, or will Jenna change the person she used to be into the person she wants to be?

Sorry for the short summary, but I really can't give much of the story away or it would completely take away from the book. This was truly a remarkable novel. I had heard so many great things about this book that when I finally sat down to read it I had very high expectations. Needless to say the book blew every expectation I had out of the water, it was just that good. From the very first words I was hooked by Jenna's voice. She was so real and lonely that I found myself drawn to her like she was actually sitting in the room next to me recounting her story. The futuristic plot (not really too far into the future!) gripped me from the first pages and kept me in its grasp until the very last period. Now I won't give the ending away because that would just be horrible, but I have to say I loved it. I thought the author did a fantastic job tying up loose ends and really ending the story. She really left no room for improvement. Now my absolute favorite part of the book is not the great plot or real feeling characters, but the fact that the book made you actually think. Mary Pearson takes a subject that we really aren't familiar with and throws it in our face with Jenna's story. She makes us think about how we would feel if we were put in this kind of situation and what we would want to have happen to us. She does this in a non biased way too, creating characters who are both pro, con, and neutral towards the subject. You all need to just read this book, it was a completely refreshing read that has the power to allow us a sneak peek into what may just lay in store for us in the not so distant future.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Contest!!

As you can tell from the title this post has nothing to do with reviews!! It deals more with birthdays and contests!! Well as I'm sure you've guessed today is my birthday, my 16th actually!! I'm always a big proponent of giving things away and what better way to do it than on my birthday! This way I have the joy of giving AND receiving!!!! Here are the rules:

1. Since it's my sixteenth birthday the contest will run for 16 days, meaning it will end on Wednesday July 23rd at 12 p.m. E.S.T

2. Sorry, but only residents of North America can enter.

3. To enter just comment here. If your looking for extra entries you can comment on any posts that are published on dates that are multiples of 7 (meaning the 14th and 21st) and the post that is published on the 16th. You are welcome to comment on all of these to increase the amount of entries you get. Who knows there may even be more oppurtunities, just keep your eyes open!! One last way to get entries is to spread the word. Post a link to my contest on either your blog, myspace, etc. and you will get 2 extra entries. To let me know you linked my contest just either leave the link in one of your comments, or email me. That brings the possible amount of entries to a total of 6, maybe even more!!!!

Now for the fun part, prizes!! I will pick 2 winners, maybe 3 if I get over 50 different entrants, and they will each get to pick 2 books out of a ginormous stack of books I have. I mean huge, as in 20 odd books to choose from!! I will also include some fun little goodies, like bookmarks and such!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

And Another Awesome Author Visit: Jennifer Banash

Well I'm sure you've all heard about her, but now it's my turn to host the lovely Jennifer Banash. Jennifer's first YA book, The Elite, came out at the beginning of June. For my review click here. It's a great book and Jennifer is an even greater person to talk to!! I hope you all enjoy our interview in which she even gives us a sneak peak into one of her current works that is just a tad bit different than what we're used to seeing with The Elite.

I hope you all enjoy:) Also have a good 4th of July!!!


What sparked the creation of the The Elite?

I went to high school on the Upper East Side, and I always wanted to write about that world—but from an outsider’s perspective, which is how I first came up with the character of Casey McCloy, who moves to Manhattan from Normal, Illinois, and really struggles to fit in. I always felt like an outsider in that world, so I wanted to bring that perspective to the series.

Are you more like Madison or Casey?

I’m probably a bit of both! People probably view me as a Madison because of the way I dress, while, in actuality, my personality is definitely more like Casey’s! Put it this way: on a good day, I’m Casey. On a BAD day, I’m Madison—but then again, I think we’re all prone to playing the diva bitch when things aren’t exactly going our way . . .

Will the series continue? If so, how many books are you planning?

Right now I’ve been asked to write three books in THE ELITE series—whether or not it continues depends on readers like you! I, for one, would love the series to continue. So, if you enjoy the books, let either me, or Berkley Jam know so that I can write the next installment beyond books two and three. Book two will drop in January 09 and is titled IN TOO DEEP, and book three will be released in June 09 and is titled SIMPLY IRRISESTIBLE.

What was your favorite part about writing The Elite?

My favorite part of writing the series is getting to go back to my hometown every day—even if it’s only in my mind. I get very homesick sometimes, and being able to live a fantasy life in New York, a town I love deeply, is very comforting to me. It’s also hugely entertaining to step into the shoes of Sophie, Casey, Phoebe, Mad, and Drew for a day—they live such fabulous lives!

What events in your life have shaped your writing?

My father left my mother and I when I was just a baby—he came back to visit me for my second birthday, and it was the last time I saw him before he literally disappeared—he was on a flight that was lost in the mountains and was never found or recovered. In any case, when he visited me on that birthday, he brought me a typewriter—not a kid’s Fischer Price toy, but a real typewriter. I always wonder if that gift, at least subliminally, influenced my decision to become a writer. I think, in some small way, it must’ve. He stayed missing, was finally declared dead seven years later, and I never saw him again.

Are you going to stick with the glam world of The Elite when you write in the future or are you going to branch out and try something new?

I will probably always write about things that are fairly escapist and glamorous—simply because those are the kinds of book I love to disappear into as a reader. My next series is a revision of DRACULA, entitled BITTEN. The plot revolves around two Manhattan socialites who just happen to be identical twins, and whose parent’s, in the midst of a mid-life crisis, end up buying Dracula’s castle in Romania and moving the family there. To wet your appetite, here’s a little teaser:

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 Mina 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 . . .

What’s the best part about being a writer? The worst?

The best part about being a writer is getting to talk to readers, hearing what they liked and disliked about my work is the joy of this whole experience for me as an author. The hardest part about writing is deadlines—having to work on a novel, regardless of whether or not you FEEL like it, or are burnt-out, can be really tough. I wrote all three ELITE books in one year while I was finishing my PhD in English, and that was really exhausting!

What’s your ideal writing location?

My kitchen table—or the local café—which is the best, and often worst location as I tend to eat many, many more chocolate-chip muffins than I should . . . They don’t have any calories anyway, right?

What’s one quirky fact about yourself that you want to share?

My friends and I all call each other tranny hookers on a regular basis. Like, I’ll pick up the phone and hear “What’s up, tranny?” or some variation on that theme. Don’t ask—we have no IDEA where it came from, but I suspect Christian Siriano on Project Runway may in fact be the culprit . . . :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor Markam was abandoned by her mother at a 7-Eleven on Jellicoe Road when she was a mere eleven years old. Only moments later a woman by the name of Hannah picked her up and brought her to the Jellicoe School. Now she is seventeen and finds that Hannah is a rock in her inconsistent life. While she has Hannah, Taylor doesn't know much about her family except the horror stories she remembers of her mother. She does find comfort though in a manuscript that Hannah has written about a group of five friends who met in the worst circumstances, but delved a remarkable friendship when they only had each other. When Hannah just up and leaves, Taylor doesn't understand what has happened and she becomes a wreck. Not only does she have to deal with Hannah's disappearance, but she has just been named the head of her House and the leader of the school kids in the annual territory wars against the "Townies" and "Cadets." In the war the three groups battle and negotiate following an extensive set of rules that might as well be history. As the war wages on Taylor learns to take an active role in her community as well as develop relationships that she never thought possible. Especially with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets whom she already has quite a history with already. This war will be like no other. It will not only be between the normal three parties, but among friends, hearts desires, and most of all Taylor herself.

From the title I was expecting a light and fun read. Wow, was I wrong. This book is filled with heartbreak, joy, laughter and sorrow. It completely blew me away and surpassed every expectation I had, even though I was expecting something completely different. Before I even get into the elements of the story I have to comment on how much talent the author has. Melina Marhetta's writing style is indescribable. It seemed that she was so comfortable writing the story and her words just flowed from page to page with great clarity. I loved how the author weaved many intricate details and mini-stories into one big story, making it like a puzzle that slowly comes together until those last couple of pieces which just fall into place. The only miff I had with this book is that it took me probably until the third chapter to actually understand what was going on. In the beginning there were two stories going on and it was hard to wrap my head around everything that was happening. After that though it seemed the author settled into writing and the story took off. Taylor without a doubt is one of the best characters that I think has ever been created. She has this true voice where you can hear and feel her emotion ring out. By the time the book had ended I felt like I knew Taylor like I know my best friends. While Taylor was the main character, the author did a fabulous job creating the other characters. Unlike many supporting characters, the characters in Jellicoe Road all had their own voices and became their own person with a real and likable personality. I highly recommend this book to readers everywhere. Whether you're a girl or a guy, you will treasure this novel and hold it near and dear to your heart for a long time to come. Jellicoe Road is a beautiful love story, a heart wrenching story of loss, a poignant self-discovery, and most of all an unforgettable tale. It is by far one of the best books of the year.

Pre-order this book NOW!! It hits stores August 26 and you don't want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind novel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Drumroll Please!!! A HUGE Contest!!!!

Okay so the brilliant Lauren, over at Shooting Stars Mag, came up with an awesome contest idea in honor of Stephanie Kuenhert's debut novel I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (which is amazing and comes out July 8...look for the review next week when Steph herself stops by here). The prizes are great (and big) and entering is really simple (and much appreciated by the author!!). So here goes...

To enter all you have to do is either pre-order the book now or go and get it when it is officially released (although I've seen a couple copies in bookstores already). Then copy or take a picture of the reciept and send it to Lauren at The contest will run the entire month, so make sure your entries are in by the 30th. Winners will be announced early August.

Now of course you want to know what this awesome prize is right?!? Well a whole bunch of us reviewers have all donated a $10 giftcard to various bookstores and iTunes, as the book is very music centered. That means the winner will win a pot of giftcards (8 in total!!). Here's a list of all the reviewers that are giving prizes:

And Another Book Read: Barnes and Nobles
Shooting Stars Mag:
Reading Mania (ElainaReads):
The Compulsive Reader
The Story Siren
B is for Books
Teen Troves: Amazon
From the Corners of Megan's Mind
Presenting Lenore
Writer's Block Reviews
In Bed With Books
Reader Rabbit

That means $130 in prizes, so really what are you waiting for??? Now can you imagine this getting any better? I can! If more reviewers (or other bloggers) join in and contribute that means that the prize just gets bigger and bigger. Good luck to all and I hope you enjoy this amazing book.

Also as more contributors get added I will update the post. I will also update with prize updates.

Now...the prize:A WHOLE BUNCH of gift cards, that will be for various bookstores and Itunes, since the book is very music-oriented.These are the current Book Reviewers, including us, who will be giving away a $10 gift card to the winner:If you're counting, that's 13 book sites giving away a $10 card...that means the winner will get 130 bucks in gift cards just by buying ONE book and showing us that you did! Not bad, right? MORE might be added as well in the next few days, so keep checking back to this post to see if the amount goes up...we're waiting to hear back from a couple more people!Also, as you can see...some of the bloggers have already stated where their gift cared will go!If you have any questions, please ask! This should be announced on all the other blogs as well. Start ordering!!!


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