Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Enchanting Review: Crazy Hot

Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 1-4169-4808-2
271 Pages
Trade - Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Eliza, Jacqui and Mara never thought the three of them would end up spending yet another summer together in the Hamptons; after all, they all had separate plans for the summer-Eliza is busy opening her boutique on Main Street; Jacqui thought she’d be spending the summer working for the Perrys, and Mara was certain she’d be spending the next few months traipsing across Europe with her boyfriend, writing articles on the hostels and enjoying the sights. But plans change and now the three girls are thrown back together in their old stomping ground.

The title CRAZY HOT describes the girls’ summer perfectly. When Eliza realizes her father’s new girlfriend needs a couple au pairs to take care of her kids, who better to call then her best friends Jacqui and Mara? It’ll give them the perfect opportunity to hang out together for one last summer since they’ll all be living in the same mega mansion. But hanging out is pretty well the last thing that happens. Eliza ends up with a ring on her finger, one she can’t decide if it’s a promise ring (she’s hoping that’s the case) or an engagement ring; Jacqui’s being hounded by two of the hottest fashion photographers in the world, and Mara’s left alone, playing au pair with the kids and trying to ignore the fact her ex-boyfriend is only a strip of beach away.

I really liked CRAZY HOT and thought it was a great wrap up to the AU PAIR series. Even though the girls’ friendship is faced with numerous ups and downs, with each girl feeling alienated from the others at some point in the story, by the end Eliza, Mara and Jacqui are at the right place in their lives and the friendship between them is as strong as ever.

The Au Pairs: CRAZY HOT is the fourth and final book in Ms. De La Cruz’s popular AU PAIRS series. Visit her online at

Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Enchanting Review: Becoming Chloe

Contemporary YA
Print - Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Jordan is a gay teenager living on the streets of New York City. One night, he hears some sounds outside his attic window. Little did he know that helping a girl in trouble would change his life.

Chloe seems innocent and frail. She’s seen some terrible things in her short life, things that would break others. One day she startles Jordan. She feels the world is an ugly place. Jordan decides to show her otherwise on a road trip. Along the way, both find not only beauty but hope.

BECOMING, CHLOE is a tender tale of how two individuals can bond together even when the odds are against them. The story starts off with a gritty portrayal of two teens society has forgotten about. What’s different about this tale is the underlying theme of hope that is sometimes missing in similar stories. The author shows two believable and vulnerable characters that both learn from each other and find out that they aren’t really that different.

Powerful writing will keep the reader turning the pages as they follow both Jordan and Chloe on their trip.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of the bestselling novel Pay It Forward, which was made into a major motion picture, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. She has served on the staff of the Santa Barbara Review and teaches fiction workshops at the Cuesta College Writers’ Conference and the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s website is

Kim Rapier
Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enchanting Review: Braless In Wonderland

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 0525479546
224 Pages
Hardcover - Available April 17, 2008

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Allee Rosen has never pictured herself as model material, that is until she takes her younger sister Sabrina to a mall tryout and has the judges fawning all over her and completely ignoring her sister. What strange world has she stepped into? But suddenly her parents are telling her the modeling agency has been calling, they’re totally legit and if she does this, she could have enough money to go to Yale. That’s all Allee needs to hear to agree to go.

Which is how Allee finds herself in Miami, sharing an apartment with three other models - Brynn, the typical temperamental model; Summer, her one apparent friend in the bunch, and crazy, fun Claudette. But when her father issues her an ultimatum - get booked or come home - Allee must step out of her comfort zone if she wants to stay.

I really enjoyed this book. Allee’s a great character, a tad insecure; after all it’s her sister who always gets all the compliments. So imagine her surprise when it’s her the modeling scouts are after. But then she goes to Miami and even though it seems that the reps like her on the go-sees, Allee can’t book a single job. That is, until her father’s ultimatum seems to set a chain of events in motion that lands Allee one of the most coveted modeling gigs available, one that helps boost her potential and gets her to let loose and enjoy life in Miami a little more. But when a surprising case of sabotage is revealed, and Allee gets the chance to extend her modeling career, she faces a tough decision. Go home to Cape Comet or take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and see where it takes her.

Populated with a fun vibe, an inside look at the world of Miami modeling agencies, and some great secondary characters, BRALESS IN WONDERLAND is well worth picking up for some by-the-pool summer reading. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Reed Fischer.

Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Enchanting Review: Saving Juliet

Fantasy YA
Walker Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0802797407
256 Pages
Hardcover - Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Mimi Wallingford lives a life most girls would kill for, especially where her starring role as Juliet to pop star Troy Summer's Romeo at her family's theatre is concerned. But in reality, Mimi Wallingford is tired of being a Shakespearian actor, having been on stage since she was little. All she wants to do is get to the final show and get on a plane to Los Angeles to spend a few weeks with her aunt. But when the supposed chance of a lifetime comes up, her mother ruins her plans, cancels her flight and orders her to shake the panic attacks that are practically ruining her ability to step foot on stage.

SAVING JULIET is one of my favorite books of the year. Mimi is a great character, stuck in a life that her mother has created for her and one she sees no way out of, especially when she finds out her mother's been using Mimi's own trust fund to keep the aging theatre afloat. Once she's magically transported back to Verona, she realizes Juliet is in much the same situation and vows to help her new friend.

There are so many great scenes in SAVING JULIET that it's hard to pick one or two to talk about in this review. When Mimi first meets Romeo himself, and finds him to be not at all like the Romeo from the play. I loved the ball where Mimi helps Juliet sabotage herself, hoping it'll dissuade Paris from wanting to marry her. And the scene where Mimi goes to the church and finds Troy under the care of the Friar after being injured and has to help Troy realize this isn't a kidnapping, they've really traveled back in time. I really enjoyed watching the relationship between Troy and Mimi evolve, from her barely being able to tolerate him as Romeo in the opening chapters to friendship and maybe more as they try to get out of Verona alive.

Ms. Selfors creates a Verona that is quite enjoyable to visit. All the play's characters are represented, from Benvolio to Mercutio to the truly despicable Lady Capulet. SAVING JULIET is Ms. Selfors first YA novel. Visit her website at

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Enchanting Interview: BRIAN MANDABACH

What do you hope for readers to take away from the story?

I hope people will take the characters and the story with along with them. I want them to have a few images of the places and people Cassie loves: The rain in her mountain valley, the snowy Goathorn against the blue sky, Ally with blue speckles of paint on her face, the foggy Oregon coast. Mostly, I hope Or Not becomes a story that's alive inside others besides myself.

This morning I was reading Wallace Stegner's On Teaching and Writing Fiction, and he was speaking about the primacy of story over ideas. Writing fiction isn't really about themes or lessons, but the best stories have plenty of opportunity for readers to come to new understandings as they read and after they read. So I hope the story leaves impressions of things in the imagination—lots of real things, from rocks and the scent of sunshine on pine needles to emptiness and hope and despair.

· Are experiences from your book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Not exactly. None of the characters is based on one person, but little things I remember are woven throughout. For example, I did have a student a number of years ago who was told that she was going to hell. Oh, and here's something I've never told an interviewer before: the hot springs incident was loosely based on something that happened to a college girlfriend and me. She did pretty much what Allie did, and it was awesome.

Mostly, I got into the character of Cassie and relied on feelings and experiences that were true to her. As Stephen King has written of his process, I put my character into situations and let her react. Many of her situations come from my experience as a teacher, but some originate in my own memory. I had a good friend reject me in middle school, and I was just baffled. That also happened to Cassie.

· Did you know a person like Cassie?

Again, not exactly. But there are people I've met who make me believe in Cassie. I've had students write incredibly deep poems and rants and use vocabulary that many adults wouldn't think possible, (though teens find it credible).

· How did you come up with the title for 'Or Not'?

I was calling it IN THE PINES, from the song that figures prominently in the book. My editor, Andrew Karre at FLUX/Llewellyn, liked it a lot but wanted to hear other ideas. I searched through the book for a phrase that was Cassie's, that fit into the overall story, and that was—as my niece said when she heard Or Not—"grabby."

· Which books influenced you most when you were growing up?

I read Laura Ingalls Wilder obsessively. Also The Lord of the Rings. Later, The Outsiders, The Pigman, Catcher in the Rye, Dandelion Wine, the short stories "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" by Hemingway. Lots more Hemingway. I also read Satre's Nausea when I Cassie's age. I re-read that one when I was developing Cassie's character, and though there's an allusion to it in the novel, I decided that Cassie hadn't read it.

· Are you planning on writing another book?

I'm revising one right now. Actually, I'm in a difficult part where I have to make some changes, so I am procrastinating by writing answers to your questions. J

This one has characters that are 17 and 18, and it's set in suburban Chicagoland in the late 1970s, which is where and when I was at that age. It's a love quadrangle between four best friends, two couples.

· What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I'm revising now, so I'll have to say that the hardest part is deciding what to cut and what to change. It's tough to trust myself to know where my own bias ends and the real story begins. Other than that, it's finding the time and the confidence. Oh, and putting in the years of work to learn how to do it.

· Do you have any words of wisdom to share with an aspiring YA author?

This is just my opinion rather than wisdom, but I'd say don't aspire to be a YA author. Tell the stories you want and need to tell about the characters you love. If the book you come up with happens to be YA, great. If not, also great.

Even if you do have an idea that is clearly YA from the beginning, my advice would be to write the best thing you can, and then concentrate on getting published. You'll think a lot about publishing before that, of course, but don't work on it until you have the novel written. You shouldn't be researching agents or reading Marketing 101 while you are writing. You should be reading great novels, mediocre novels, and inspiring things about writing like King's ON WRITING or WHY I WRITE, edited by Will Blythe.

· What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Just the usual boring stuff—do you think any of these are intersting?

I have to write almost every day or I'm not getting anywhere. I like my front porch at night. I need coffee and tea and pomegranite juice mixtures, food, and often music. I'm currently addicted to nicotine gum. Everyone should stay far away from tobacco because it will catch you and try to kill you!!!!! I'm thinking of replacing the gum with energy drinks, but ginseng gives me the jitters. I wish I was like Carrie Jones and only needed Postum.

I cannot let anyone see the book until the first draft is finished. I cannot talk about the story either. If I'm stuck, I can't shave until I get through it. I set deadlines. I tell myself to dream about the story before I go to sleep.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I love to hear from readers. While my agent, the wonderful Gary Heidt of FINEPRINT, was on the job getting it into the hands of editors, I was posting Or Not on my myspace blog, and the comments kept me alive. Now that they book is out, it's even better.

I like it when they tell me about parts that made them laugh, made them angry, made them think, or parts that they related to.

Here's the latest and maybe the best ever comment from a reader, also from myspace, by a high school senior who had just friended me:

Mar 14, 2008 12:16 AM

You are my new personal HERO!!! I just finished your book tonight. I buckled down and devoted several hours to finishing the last half of the book and I swear that has to be one of the best books I've EVER read. I wish this book would have come out in my seventh grade year, because Or Not? is extremely similar to my middle school career. I have never been able to so closely relate to a character before, so thanks. And reading your book has inspired me to actually complete my story I've been working on for ages!!!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!! I'm on a cloud of super elated awesomeness after finishing. This book is NEVER leaving my collection.

I'm as insecure as any writer, but this sort of thing makes it hard to be! Even a word or two as a comment on my blog or myspace is really nice. For anyone who wants to get in touch, my website is and there's a link there to my myspace.

Thanks for the interview—I enjoyed answering your questions.

Interview by Courtney & Lisa

Enchanting Review:...Or Not

...OR NOT?
Young Adult
ISBN 0738711004
408 Pages
eBook/Print - Available October 1, 2007

Rating: 3 Enchantments

Cassie Sullivan is one very opinionated 14 year old. She is no stranger to controversy after voicing her opinions on evolution and refusing to sing a patriotic song. She's aiming for different and she definitely achieves it. She shaves her head but not her legs, would rather spend more time in her family's cabin in the woods than with her friends, and will only listen to records because she can hear the machinery in the music on CD's.

Cassie has always been told to express her opinion, so one day in class she shares her opinion about Darwin. Her classmates disagree strongly and tell her she is going to hell. So begins the story of Cassie Sullivan. ...OR NOT? jumps back and forth from Cassie's eighth grade year and the summer before eighth grade. At-school life for Cassie is a nightmare, but she can always find solitude in her family's cabin. Through her journals, we learn of the struggles and obstacles Cassie faces just because she shared her opinions.

Cassie is a little frustrating at times, and I found myself wanting to argue with her because some of the stuff she said or did. Although that's what the book is about, she has different opinions and she is shunned at school because of it.

I don't think the plot blurb did this book justice. I went into this book thinking it was something entirely different than it was. I was very disappointed at first, I literally had to force myself to read the first 150 pages, but I'm very glad I stuck it out. Once you get past the very slow moving (and sometimes irrelevant) beginning, ...OR NOT? is a good book.

Brian Mandabach is a writer and teacher who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has been a public school teacher for over a decade. He also teaches writing to teens. ...OR NOT? is his first novel.

Visit his website:
His Blogspot
His MySpace:

Courtney B.
Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Enchanting Review: The Celebutantes: In The Club

Contemporary YA
Delacorte Press
ISBN 978-0-385-73473-8
326 Pages
Trade Paperback - Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Celebutante triplets Park, Lex and Madison Hamilton aren't only launching their fashion line, they're tracking a killer. Whoever killed their friend Damien Kittle at the opening of their father's hot new club, Cleopatra, has to be someone they know from school. And the police's number one suspect seems too obvious a choice. As they begin to dig deeply into Damien's world, some startling information comes to light and the triplets soon find themselves forced undercover to find out what really happened on opening night.

Park, Lex and Madison have quickly become some of my favorite YA characters. Smart, sassy and at times sarcastic, this trio of amateur detectives are willing to do whatever it takes—including a late night trip to the morgue!—to solve the mystery surrounding their friend Damien's death.

I really enjoyed THE CELEBUTANTES: IN THE CLUB. The mix of mystery and YA is a seamless fit. The Hamilton sisters are an enterprising threesome who find themselves racing against the clock at the end, trying to unmask the killer before he strikes again, this time taking out more than just Damien.

The story ends in a breathless pace as the sisters finally connect the clues and race to stop the killer from striking again, this time on a much bigger scale. Ending with a jaw dropping twist I totally didn't see coming, THE CELEBUTANTES: IN THE CLUB is a great mix of intrigue and fun that make this a book well worth picking up.

This is the first book of Mr. Pagliarulo's series I've read, but I definitely want to go out and grab the first one. I look forward to reading the next installment of the Hamilton sisters' adventures which is due to be released this fall.

If you're looking for a great YA mystery read, definitely pick up THE CELEBUTANTES series.

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Enchanting Interview: ANTONIO PAGLIARULO

When did you start writing?
Like most writers, I started writing at a very early age. I attended a small private school in New York City, and keeping journals was always an important part of our homework! I would begin my journal entries in the correct and proper way, documenting the relatively mundane details of my day, but by the third or fourth paragraph, my writing always seemed to take an adventurous turn. I wrote about walking through jungles and swimming with sharks and scaling tall buildings. I didn't know that I was, in fact, writing fiction! My teachers (who were nuns) didn't always appreciate this, but most of them encouraged my passion for the written word.

How did you go from writer to published author?
In short: I was very lucky. At a very young age, I got picked up by a major literary agent. She and her associate were kind enough (and patient enough!) to nurture my writing and teach me about the book business. I really wouldn't be anywhere if it wasn't for my agents. All writers should be so lucky.

Why young adult? What do you like best about writing YA?
It was during my teen years that I truly discovered my love of books. I simply couldn't stop reading! Books, for me, were like passports: I could go anywhere in the universe by simply turning a page. (I still feel this way!) Much of the "stuff" that forms who we are as adults can, I believe, be traced right back to our young adult years. First love, first heartbreak, first personal triumph -- it all happens when we're teenagers. I am incredibly sympathetic when it comes to this age group, so writing for the YA audience felt very natural to me.

What inspired the Celebutante series?
Two things, really: my love of the mystery genre and my undying love for my hometown -- New York City!! I wanted to write a series that combined crime with fun and fascinating characters, and a touch of madcap comedy, and Madison, Park, and Lexington Hamilton were born! And, thankfully, I have a truly wonderful and talented editor who helped shaped the series.

Describe the series in three words.
Fun. Exciting. Unforgettable

Do you have a favorite Hamilton sister?
In all truth, each of the Hamilton triplets has a special place in my heart. I could never favor only one of them!

What's your favorite characteristic of each of the triplets?
I love Madison because she's elegant and sophisticated but has no problem losing her temper when she has to. Park has the incredible ability to remain calm and positive no matter how big the crisis. And Lex, while a party girl, has a big heart and is very determined.

What was your favorite scene to write in IN THE CLUB?
I think I enjoyed writing the first chapter most. Introducing readers to St. Cecilia's Prep and to the Sisters of Our Lady of the Avenue brought back a lot of fond memories for me. As I said earlier, I attended a very small private school which was staffed almost entirely by nuns; the nuns who educated me didn't use perfume or have designer rosary beads, but they were very strict and, at times, quite funny. Writing that first chapter was a very personal and happy experience.

Did any of the characters surprise you while you were writing or did they all behave?
Jeremy Bleu, Park's movie star boyfriend, tends to misbehave, and I think this is because he wants more "screen time" in the books. When he's in a scene, it's hard to stop him from taking over. He's got the good looks, the charm, and a strong presence. I ike Jeremy a lot, but he doesn't always follow orders.

What's next for you?
The third book in the Celebutantes series, TO THE PENTHOUSE, will be published in September 2008. In 2009, a stand-alone thriller for young adults entitled THE NIGHT OF IAGO willbe published by Random House.

Interview by Lisa
March 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Enchanting Review: Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty

Contemporary Young Adult
Dial Books For Young Readers
ISBN# 978-0803732476
256 Pages
Trade Paperback -Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Geena Sloane hopes that this summer will be the best yet, after all her cousin Hero is coming home and will be working with her and Geena’s best friend Amber at Triple Shot Betty. However, she didn’t count on them hating each other on sight. Now all her plans for girls’ nights hanging out are teetering on the brink of never happening.

Geena, Amber and Hero are three girls who couldn’t be more different. Geena’s all about becoming valedictorian and is known as the skater chick; Amber has a ‘rep’ with around town and Hero is the shy, boarding school girl with an overprotective father, who because of her sister’s mistakes won’t let her date till she’s in college.

I really liked how CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE SHOT BETTY was set up, written in a journal style, rather than chapter form. Filled with some great secondary characters, which Ms. Gehrman does so well, I loved how when things went downhill, it was the stofers who figured into the girls’ plans on how to get even with ‘The Man’.

One of the scenes I really enjoyed was when Geena sees Ben, her really hot arch rival and possible crush, biking by her house (which is highly unusual) and decides to go out and see what he’s doing. Instead of simply going outside, she pretends to look for her non-existant dog, Auggie. It was truly one of the most laugh-out-loud scenes in the book.

All in all, CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE SHOT BETTY is great, fun read, perfect to tote with you on summer vacation or just laying out by the pool.

This is Ms. Gehrman’s first Young Adult novel. She previously wrote chick-lit for Red Dress Ink. You can learn more about Ms. Gehrman’s books at her website,

Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Enchanting Review: Oh Brother, You're Not My Keeper

Inspirational YA
The Wild Rose Press
ISBN 1-60154-168-6
148 pages
$6.00 eBook
eBook – Available Now
Print - Available July 2008

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Sixteen-year-old surfer Nick Russell signs up for tutoring with Sherry, also commonly known as 'the whale'. To the amazement and then horror of his friends, he asks Sherry to be his girlfriend. He is taunted by his friends for choosing the overweight Sherry over other girls. But Nick ignores them all and falls in love. Tragedy strikes when a drunken driver hits his truck, killing Sherry, the girl he knew was 'the one.'

Then he meets Regina 'Gina' Cunningham, an Elvira wannabe in his theater class. Gina is used to being an outcast and doesn't want anything to do with surfer dude Nick.

Heartbroken over the death of his girlfriend Sherry, Nick struggles with the emotions he feels around Gina. Both fight against the growing attraction they have. The odds seem to be against them. But Nick is used to not judging others by their appearance alone. Will he be able to do the same with Gina?

OH BROTHER, YOU'RE NOT MY KEEPER is a sweet tale that is sure to appeal to Christian teens. It also has a good Christian message of not being judgmental to those who are different. Nick's struggle of feeling like he's betraying Sherry is very realistic. The only thing that didn't work for me was the end surf meet. But other than that, I know this book will appeal to its audience; teens that like tales without language and sex.

Kimberlee R. Mendoza resides in San Diego with her husband and two sons. She is a graphic designer for Faith Chapel, as well as a cover designer and young adult editor for The Wild Rose Press. She leads the Spring Valley Critique Christian Writer's Guild.

Kimberlee's website is

Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Enchanting Review: Do-Over

YA Romantic Comedy
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-0-689-87620-2
229 Pages
Paperback - Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Fifteen year old Valerie Winslow’s back in Schwerinborg after a vacation to visit her mother back in Virginia, and there’s a few secrets she’s keeping from her hottie boyfriend, Prince Georg. Not that what she’s not telling him is anything bad, but he might not see things the way she does.

Valerie’s dealing with a lot in DO-OVER; first she thinks her father is acting awfully funny then finds out he’s been dating Ms. Putzkammer, a PR person from the palace, when she comes along as Georg’s chaperone as Val joins her dad and Georg on the ski trip. Add in the fact that her friends from the states are pressuring her to come clean with Georg before he finds out on his own about her little secrets; and Valerie’s life is getting kinda complicated.

I really liked the scenes where Val, her dad, Georg and Ms. Putzkammer went on the ski vacation. Val’s pretty well instant dislike for her father’s new girlfriend is amusing, especially when she nicknames her ‘The Fraulein’, as is her reaction when the two adults come back to the table with lunch. Cabbage and bratwurst isn’t exactly a burger and fries.

Even though I hadn’t read the first two books in the series, this didn’t bother me as I read DO-OVER, as Ms. Burnham does a great job telling the story and filling the reader in on events that happened in previous books.

If you’re looking for a fun read, check out DO-OVER.

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Interview with SWEETHEARTS author Sara Zarr

Why Young Adult?
I feel like YA chose me more than I chose it. When I think of story ideas, they just happen to involve high school characters. I am interested in writing for and about other ages, too, but I’ve always been a fan of YA. Also, characters at that age are going through so many changes and new experiences and self-discovery - it’s a time rich with story possibilities.

What do you like best about being an author?

Number one is fan mail - hearing from readers (of all ages) who respond in some personal way to my books. Two is getting to live a flexible lifestyle in which I keep my own schedule and get to linger in bed in the mornings.

Jenna’s a character I think a lot of teenagers can relate to. What was one of the first things you knew about her as a character?

I knew that she was loyal, maybe to a fault, and that her definition of herself was rooted a lot in childhood events.

What do you like best about Jenna?

I like that she sincerely wants to do what’s best and right.

What was your favorite scene to write in the book?

There were a few I enjoyed, including the positive childhood memory about being in the aspen grove with Cameron, and then the present day scene with Jenna and Cameron on the porch in the early morning snow.

What do you hope for readers to take away from the story?
I just hope people have a satisfying and memorable reading experience. Anything they draw beyond that is gravy!

What’s next for you?
My next YA novel with Little, Brown will be out sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. I can’t talk about it too much, but it will be pretty different from my first two.

Interview by Lisa
April 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Interview with YA Author Melissa Walker

1. What made you want to be a writer?

It may have been the old typewriter my parents had, which I thought was super cool. But probably it was just something innate, because I’m not sure how many four-year-olds would have found an ancient typewriter cool.

Also, my dad, my uncle and my grandmother are all writers at heart.

2. How did you get started?

Really it was doing work for my high school yearbook, and then my college newspaper. I got a magazine internship during college, and I just loved the environment, so I knew that’s the field I wanted to work in after graduation.

After a few years editing and writing with magazines, it was time to try books!

3. What do you like most about writing young adult?

The readers. I love writing for teenagers because I think they’re such an honest, open audience. They’ll tell you if they LOVE a story and they’ll call you out if something just sucks.

4. What sparked the idea for the Violet series?

As soon as I started peeking behind the scenes of modeling and fashion as a magazine editor, I knew that I wanted to put a "real girl" in the middle of this crazy world, a girl who would see it from the outside and be like, "Holy crap!" It’s an insane environment, so there’s lots of fodder for adventure, humor and drama, especially from the point of view of a small town girl who’s not yet jaded.

5. Can you describe Violet in just three words?

Self-conscious, smart, and lovely

6. What qualities do you like most about Violet?

While she’s very insecure, she also has an inner strength. Even she doesn’t really know about it, but she finds it more and more as she deals with the fashion world and starts to question its values. I like that quiet strength, which will hopefully overcome her eagerness to please and be accepted.

7. There’s a lot of emphasis on healthy body image in the series, especially in VIOLET BY DESIGN. Was that intentional, meaning there when you plotted the series or did it just come up organically?

I didn’t plot the series—I just planned one book. When Penguin wanted three, I had to think up a second and third, which was fun. International modeling came up, and I know how rigid foreign runways are, so weight was a natural issue for Violet to deal with. I suppose that means it was organic when I started plotting book 2.

8. What was your favorite scene to write?

I love every scene when Roger and Violet are together. Those just feel natural to me.

9. Did any character surprise you when you were writing?

Veronica did. She’s sort of a frenemy, a rival model, but she’s not one-dimensional. At first I thought she might be pure evil, but her humanity keeps showing through, and I like that.

10. What would readers be surprised to know about you?

I’m obsessed with Oprah. My friend Anne and I even have a blog at that no one reads, but I love it.

11. Can you give us a hint about what happens to Violet in book 3?

She does go to college… and she tries to quit the modeling world for good. She also has quite a romantic roller coaster ride!

12. Have you ever thought of maybe doing a spin-off of the series with one of the other model characters?

Oooh, no! But I like this idea! Can I steal it?

Interview by Lisa

Enchanting Review: Violet By Design

Contemporary Young Adult
Berkley Jam
ISBN 978-0-425-24940-9
205 Pages
Trade Paperback – Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Welcome back, Violet Greenfield.

VIOLET BY DESIGN picks up a few short months after book one left off. Violet’s preparing to say goodbye to her college-bound best friends, Julie and Roger, and head off to Brazil for the upcoming fashion show there. With any luck, the Brazil shows will lead to the fall shows in Paris and then, who knows?

Violet grows up a lot during the course of this book and we get a deeper glimpse of the relationships she has with those closest to her. I especially liked the growing attraction between her and Roger, even with the unexpected complications as she realizes he’s had feelings for her for so long.

VIOLET BY DESIGN is a great second book in Ms. Walker’s VIOLET series. This one delves deeper into the fashion world, with Violet being on the receiving end of some rather harsh criticism about her weight; her potential relationship with Paulo, the hot young Brazilian designer, and her recent choices, including blogging about issues a lot of people would prefer she kept quiet. Most of the characters from Book One make a return appearance for Book Two. I was especially glad to see Veronica return in this one and look forward to seeing where Ms. Walker takes the Double Vs in the third book in the series.

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
March 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Enchanting Review: Violet On The Runway

Contemporary YA
Berkley Jam
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-21704-7
228 pages
Trade paperback - Available now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

After being discovered by a high profile modeling agent at her after-school job at her local movie theatre, Violet Greenfield finds herself thrust into the New York modeling scene as the next hot ’it’ girl.

Violet’s new model status elevates her popularity--especially at school where her height had earned her the nickname ’green giant’--and the girls she always wanted to hang out with suddenly think she’s cool. So who can blame her for testing out everything her new life has to offer? Its not like she’s planning on ignoring her two lifelong best friends forever…she just wants to test the new waters she’s suddenly found admission into.

Violet finds herself immersed in an entirely new world in NYC where her life in North Carolina seems so far away, especially her two best friends, Julie and Roger. When a new Violet starts to emerge, one who’s confidant and more popular than she could have ever imagined, can Violet resist the temptation to let go of the ’old’ Violet?

Violet is a vibrant character who comes to life on the pages. I loved the scenes where Violet has her first go-sees and her newfound agent Angela tags along with her to one, and then basically throws her to wolves to fend for herself for the rest of the day.

VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY is an addicting debut novel by Ms. Walker. I was hooked from page one and look forward to reading more about Violet.

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
March 2008