Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Enchanting Review: The Dead and the Gone

Young Adult
ISBN 9780152063115
320 pages
Print - Releasing June 2008

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales worries whether or not he'd be senior class president or if he'll get a scholarship to Georgetown. But all these concerns fade on the fateful day a meteor hits the moon. Life as he knows it will never be the same.

Alex is left to take care of his two younger sisters while trying to survive. New York City is no longer the bustling city he remembers. Corpses and rats line the streets. The only thing that still seems normal is St. Vincent de Paul, his Catholic school, where the kindness of the priests helps him survive day by day. If the severe climate changes don't kill him, then staying in NYC will. Will the faith of his sister Bri be enough for them or will Alex have to prove to himself that he has the strength to help not only himself but his sisters to survive as well?

I loved this story. I picked up this book and couldn't put it down. Ms. Pfeffer does an excellent job describing the horrors Alex and his sisters face once the meteor hits. Not knowing the fate of either of his parents, Alex calls the hotline and makes an appointment to check bodies at the Yankee Stadium. This scene haunted me.

I loved the depiction of the priests and nuns and how they looked out for the students under their care; also how Alex learns how to look beyond his own concerns and help not just himself but his family. Alex's struggles and fears were very realistic. Who knows what others would do in a similar situation?

Alex's strength and courage stayed with me long after I finished this tale.

I'd highly recommend this book. Also I recommend the first book, Life As We Knew It.

Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: The Vampire...In My Dreams

Paranormal YA
Samhain Publishing
ISBN 1-59998-666-3
212 pages
eBook - Available October 9, 2007

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Dominic Vorchowsky is a normal teenage boy, except he is in the process of being turned into a vampire. He is six feet tall, with dark brown hair, and deep brown eyes. He is in search of his life mate to help him destroy Lynetta, a vampire trying to change him to replace the lover she lost 200 years ago.

Marissa Lakeland is a teenage witch trying to master her skills. She is described as an average looking girl, thinking she is much less attractive than her best friend Kate.

THE VAMPIRE...IN MY DREAMS starts out with Marissa and Kate chasing after a boy whom they think is a vampire. Eventually they get separated because Marissa is much slower than Kate. Dominic appears by Marissa and soon later tells her that she is his life mate. She is the only hope he has to stop the process of becoming a vampire. When Marissa agrees to share her blood with him, he kisses her and she accidentally gets some of his blood. Resulting in that they exchange powers. After learning how to use the new powers, they defeat Lynetta.

This book successfully combines witchcraft and vampires. This book is great because each chapter is written from one character's point-of-view. Dominic and Marissa are both likeable characters and seem to bring out the best in each other. It is very well set in the system of high school. This author reminds me of Lynsay Sands and the way she describes the characters. (Except for the mind reading aspect.) It is obvious that it is a young adult book, in some places it seemed rushed and scenes could be a bit longer or with more detail. It is understandable because young adults might not be interested in longer scenes. With that being said, it was an enjoyable book. I will check out others by this author.

Great book, Terri! Hopefully, this will become a series and we will see more of Dominic, Marissa, and Kate! Her website is:

Amy P.
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Enchanting Review: Those Girls

Contemporary YA
ISBN 1595141693
320 Pages
Trade - Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

THOSE GIRLS is the story of best friends Jinx Slater and Liberty Latiffe, who have been best friends practically forever, but whose friendship is threatened when new girl Stella Fox arrives on the scene. Will Liberty brush Jinx off to hang out with new friend Stella and leave their friendship behind, or can Jinx win back her best friend from the snobbish newcomer?

Jinx Slater is a unique character. She and her best friend Liberty have an amazing bond, but its one that will be threatened by the appearance of the new girl at Stagmount School for Girls, Stella Fox, and Jinx is completely afraid of losing her BFF Liberty. Add in a horrible ex-house mistress in Mrs. Gunn, a truly despicable character and one of the most creepiest ones I've ever read, who's had it in for both Jinx and Liberty for what seems like forever. It's easy to see why the girls are so thrilled to be living in a separate house from the woman!

At times, I thought the pace of the story moved a little slow, especially in the beginning, but the overall story more than made up for that with the arrival of the power hungry Stella. Pick up THOSE GIRLS and step inside the exclusive world of Stagmount School for Girls, it'll be a place you won't soon forget.

THOSE GIRLS is the first book in the series by Ms. Lawrence. You can visit her online and check out info on the upcoming second book at

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: Someday My Prince Will Come

Gotham Books
ISBN 978-1592-40352-3
320 Pages
Hardcover - Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME (True Adventures of A Wannabe Princess) is an enchanting story about an American girl who at age six, falls for a then fellow six year old Prince Peter, after seeing his picture in a royal magazine; an infatuation that doesn't easily fade away no matter how many years go by. While others may grow out of their crushes, Jerramy's infatuation with Peter, and all things Royal for that matter, does not fade easily.

From her at times mortifying childhood in Colorado with her hippie parents and younger brother in a rodeo-loving farm town, to her first trip to London, Ms. Fine relates her story in a very readable, likeable manner. When she gets the chance to actually live in London for a while, could a chance encounter with the Prince possibly be far behind?

One of my favorite moments of the book is when young Jerramy sends a letter to Prince Peter and actually gets a reply back from Buckingham Palace.

A witty and charming story, SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME is an enjoyable memoir that reads a lot like a great fiction novel.

SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME is a memorable read, one that will leave you closing the book with a smile on your face and the thought that anything is possible if you want it enough.

To learn more about Ms. Fine and her book, check out her website:

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: The Upper Class

Contemporary YA
ISBN 978-0-06-085082-1
276 Pages
Trade - Available Now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Life at the exclusive Wellington isn't always what it's cracked up to be-especially for newcomers Laine Hunt and Nikki Olivetti, two girls who couldn't be more different if they tried, a fact that comes very obvious when the two are forced to become roommates. Laine comes from Greenwich, old money and a family name to live up to. Nikki on the other hand, is Long Island bred and from 'new' money.

At times, Laine and Nikki seem like polar opposites and the reader is left wondering if the girls will ever even really get along. The one scene that sticks out in my mind is when Laine is hanging out with a senior girl in her room and is shown the secretive Who Won't Make It Book and discovers Nikki's face inside. I think that was one of the big turning points in the novel, when Laine sees Nikki as more than her annoying roommate, but a girl who might not last the year at Wellington.

At times, I wasn't too fond of Nikki. There were times when I found her to be fairly abrasive, but I think it was ramped up to show the contrast between the two girls.

The series has definite potential. I look forward to seeing what happens next!

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Interview: YA Author Taylor Materne

1. How did the idea for writing a book together come about?

First off, let me thank you all for taking the time to read and review the book. We always love to get new opinions of what is working and what is not. It's greatly appreciated!

Hobson and I were living in Atlanta at the time and he mentioned how there had never been a proper depiction of boarding school life done on TV (this was around the time of The O.C.) and his words really stuck with me. I began contacting alumni from Hotchkiss that worked in the film and TV world and asked around about the process of developing/pitching a TV show. It was certainly a long shot, but the one thing I did learn is that if you put in the effort inevitably someone will take notice.

After about two months of developing the TV treatment Hobson and I came to a roadblock. We discovered that it was difficult for us to capture an authentic voice of a teenage girl. I had just read Caroline's first novel, HERE KITTY KITTY (where she goes by Jardine Libaire) and on a whim I contacted her. At that time I was living back in NY and she was in Brooklyn. We had drinks and reminisced on our experiences at Hotchkiss (we all went to the same boarding school, but at separate times). Caroline jumped on board and over the next few months we developed a sixty-page treatment!

I now work a lot in TV and I can tell you that no one wants to read a sixty-page treatment, but it was thorough. Caroline sent it to her literary agent who then linked us up with a TV and Film agent in LA. While he was shopping the property our literary agent felt that the document we had was rich enough to pitch as a novel. About two weeks later we had pitch meetings and offers from publishing houses. It was a very exciting time to say the least!

2. Why YA?

We did receive offers in both the adult and YA market, but the adult market meant we were probably going to end up doing an expose rather than a pure work of fiction. YA also allowed us the ability to develop characters over the course of multiple books and I think we were able to find our own stride as writers as we got further along into writing the novels. My favorite characters are Parker and Chase who aren't major focal points till our second novel, MISS EDUCATED. They return as the main focus of our final book, CRASH TEST, which comes out in September. YA give authors and readers an opportunity to see characters grow over time as you might in a television show.

3. What's your writing process like?

I think of it in the same way as one might think of a band, like a Destiny's Child or The Supremes. You have three artists who each have a distinct voice and through repetition it becomes apparent where a certain person shines. I am stronger with dialogue and the whole scope of the story. My partner's strengths with detail and tone only compliment me. That isn't to say that everyone wasn't extremely adept at all facets, but certain characters and certain scenes or chapters sometimes resonate with a different writer.

Sometimes you end up writing scenes that aren't as exciting as others so we tried to let one another take on moments that spoke to them which is the most fun for any writer...when your mind is racing faster than your fingers can type.

4. What have you learned about writing together, three books in to the series?

That's it's a challenge. There is a reason that most writers work alone or in team of two. Most writers are very stubborn in their ways and beliefs. I certainly am. You also find that you may not work at the same pace as another writer and that becomes extremely difficult.

It can also be extremely rewarding to read someone's work that so perfectly compliments your own, but it takes time to get to that point.

5. Best thing about co-writing? Worst thing about co-writing?

The exchange of ideas prior to actually writing is very rewarding. You get different perspectives that can help broaden your story and characters. Writing is also a very lonely occupation so it is nice to have constant contact with people.

The negatives are the same as the positives unfortunately. Sometimes you want to work at your own pace, you don't want your work manipulated, and you simply get frustrated.

The positives in our experience certainly outweighed the negatives, but it was a learning experience. You try to remember that you are blessed to do something that you love and be patient, but not all writers are as open--we had to work at it.

6. How much of 'The Upper Class' mirrors your own experiences?

Because we are all boarding school alums, much of the description of the exclusive society mirrors our own experiences. The international student body, the classes, the dorms, and the campus are all very similar to our alma mater and New England boarding schools in general.

The story itself has hints of our backgrounds and experiences. Chase, for instance, had an older brother who went to Hotchkiss and so did I. However, because Hobson, Caroline and I were not at Hotchkiss during the same period our characters were just amalgamations of a lot of people we knew. The themes we dealt with were themes familiar to us, but we also worked hard at trying not to date our stories too much. There is nothing worse as a teen or young adult than listening to an adult tell you what your life is like or use outdated lingo.

I graduated from Hotchkiss in '99 and much had changed in the six or so years when we began writing. We spoke with teachers, students, and visited campuses to familiarize ourselves with boarding school again. I think getting the world right is important because we wanted our audience to realize that just because these kids are living together in dorms without their parents doesn't mean they aren't dealing with the same problems as other teens. In fact, because they are coming of age in such a strange place their issues tend to be that much more heightened.

7. Can you describe 'The Upper Class' in three words?

Honest, Authentic, Stylish

8 What are your favorite qualities about Laine and Nicki?

I think they both grew a great deal throughout the story. Both of them were from such different, but equally insular worlds that it was interesting to see them adapting to boarding school where no one really cares who you were at home.

Nikki is certainly the more outgoing of the two, but she also carries many insecurities. They are alike in that regard. Both have scars.

Laine is a tougher girl to crack because she is so guarded. She is easily manipulated, but I think she begins to understand friendship by the end of the book. Boarding school is interesting in that way because, unlike regular high school, you need to be able to rely on your friends since you don't have a family to return to at the end of day. It's a very difficult environment for shy individuals at first. They are forced to branch out quickly and I'm sure many boarding school alums will tell you that they were glad to learn how to adapt at age 15 rather than 18 when they are leaving for college.

9. What was your favorite moment in the book?

I think my favorite moment in the book was when Laine went to the Long Island party with Nikki. I thought it was a moment when Laine finally began to realize who Nikki was and where she came from and how they weren't very different. I also thought it was great to see her interact with guys that were so dissimilar from the normal preppy crowd she was used to.

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

That my entire family works in the banking world in New York. I now live in Venice Beach, California, which is much more my speed. I think it just goes to show you that when you are young you feel as though you are destined for a certain life because that is all you know, but it's okay to go another way. I never even told my family I was writing until I got the book deal. They were shocked and scared and proud all at the same time. Sometimes it is important to break the mold.

11. What's next for you?

I'm now working mostly in TV and Film. I have two scripted shows in development right now. I'm hoping that in time we will be able to see the boarding school world on TV or in film. It is inevitable and I think our books would transition well, so I'll keep you posted. I'd love to show audiences how boarding school compares to a show like GOSSIP GIRL, for instance. I think people would find the world very intriguing because of the widely different backgrounds of students and all the chaos that exists behind those gates.

We also have our fourth and final novel, CRASH TEST, coming out in August. I really hope audiences like how we ended the series.

Thank you all so much for the support! Please be sure to visit us or email us at our myspace or facebook pages! We are always available to chat!

Enchanting Review: The Elite

Contemporary Young Adult
Berkley Jam Trade
ISBN 0425221571
256 Pages
Trade Paperback - Available June 3, 2008

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Casey McCloy has just moved from Normal, Illinois, to the Bramford, one of the most exclusive and pretentious apartment buildings on the Upper East Side to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark academy. But adjusting to her new life is easier said than done, especially with a frenemy like Madison Macallister, who isn't exactly welcoming after her on-again, off-again boyfriend starts paying more attention to Casey than to her.

Even from her first meeting with Madison, Phoebe and Sophie, moments after first arriving at the Bramford, Casey can tell she's definitely going to have issues fitting in with the 'in crowd'. The girls are perfectly made up in their designer gear ready to cross the street and lay out in the sun in their bikinis while Casey's standing there exhausted from traveling and not exactly wearing this season's hottest names as she's subjected to the serious once-overs from Mad and her two closest friends. Surprisingly, Casey somehow passes inspection, if only in pity, and wrangles an invitation to join the girls in the park.

Each chapter highlights a different character and we get to know Casey, Madison, Phoebe, Sophie and surprisingly even Drew, the hottie, better. That was one thing I really liked about this book, the chapters from Drew's point of view. It was nice to see what he really thought about Madison and Casey as the story progressed.

Anyone who's been the new kid at school can easily identify with Casey and her struggles to fit in with the new crowd. The scene between her and Drew in French class on the first day of school is both cringe-worthy and amusing. Following Madison's advice, will she actually scare Drew away for good?

THE ELITE lays the groundwork for what should be an exciting new series. Casey, Madison, Phoebe and Sophie are all vibrant, interesting characters.

Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: Price of Admission

Contemporary Young Adult
Simon Pulse
ISBN 978-1-4169-2455-5
218 Pages
Trade - Available Now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Jasmine Green's life has been turned upside down. The screenplay that she wrote about her life, with the barely veiled characters of herself, her dad, her brother, their step mom, everyone has been discovered and credited to her recently deceased boyfriend. And if that wasn't bad enough, it's the hottest thing going right now and her father's acquired the screenplay.

PRICE OF ADMISSION is a fun book, chronicling Jasmine's discovery that the thinly veiled diary is about to make Austin's parents a million dollars and potentially ruin her own life in the process, especially when she gets a copy of the screenplay from her father, she knows one look at it will ruin everything, all her family secrets (like her brother hooking up with their twenty-three year old step mom) will be out for all the world to see.

The book has a fun premise and you have to feel sorry for Jasmine as she tries to figure out a way to come clean about the whole thing. And just when things are looking up, they come crashing right back down again. Sprinkled throughout the story are scenes from the screenplay, which highlight different aspects of Jasmine/Jess's life. From her mixed up love life to finding out her father's remarrying-again-to finding her brother kissing her new stepmother.

I really liked Duke, Jasmine's best friend and would have liked to have seen a little more of him in the book. Some parts of the story did feel a little rushed, but PRICE OF ADMISSION is still a very enjoyable read.

You can visit Ms. Margolis' website at

Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Enchanting Review: Sweet Valley High: Double Love

Contemporary Young Adult
ISBN 978-0-440-42262-4
223 Pages
Paperback - Available Now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Welcome to the town of Sweet Valley, hometown to twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. They may look identical, but their personalities couldn't be any more different.

Elizabeth is the stereotypical 'good girl'. Good grades, good attitude and at times a little naïve, especially when it comes to her twin sister, while Jessica plays her role of the 'bad' sister equally well. Jessica wants what she wants and she's determined to get it, even if that means going up against her sister. She's willing to sabotage Liz's possible relationship with the hottie football captain Todd Wilkins, just because she likes him too.

When a case of mistaken identity slanders good girl Elizabeth's reputation, will Jessica finally come clean and admit the truth that it was her who came home in the back seat of a cop car? Or will she prefer to stay silent and watch Todd, not to mention the rest of the students at SVH, believe the gossip and condemn Liz for something she didn't even do? And if she does tell the truth, will anyone choose to believe her?

But that's not the only storyline going on in the book. Two powerful Sweet Valley families are after the property the high school football field is on and the Wakefield sisters' father is on the case. While the girls wonder about all the late hours he's working (is he having an affair?), older brother Steven is a mystery all to himself. He's been coming from University every weekend but they barely see him. What's he really up to?

The Sweet Valley High series has been revamped and brought up to date for today's teens. Blogs, cell phones, digital cameras, web pages, everything that didn't exist in the original version is here for today's version of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield.

SWEET VALLEY HIGH: DOUBLE LOVE is a good kick off to the Sweet Valley High series. The friendly rivalry between sisters Elizabeth and Jessica is sure to entertain fans of this revamped series.

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: Thumbelina, Tiny Runaway Bride

Children's Fiction
Schwartz and Wade
ISBN 978-0-375-83960-3
160 Pages
Hardcover - Available May 13, 2008

Rating: 4 Enchantments

In this sweet tale, we learn the true story of Thumbelina, which is not quite the same version that Hans Christian Anderson told more than a hundred and fifty years ago.

Oh no, you see, Thumbelina's story is more adventurous than originally believed. From how her mother went to the witch to get the seed from which she grew to when she was kidnapped by a horrible mother toad who wants Thumbelina to marry her son, not to mention when she finally escapes that, only to find herself living with a mouse and entertaining Mr. Mole, who surprises both the mouse and Thumbelina by proposing marriage to our heroine.

I really enjoyed THUMBELINA, TINY RUNAWAY BRIDE. It's a fast moving, well done story with a great dose of humor that everyone will enjoy. I especially loved the descriptions of Thumbelina seeing her new world, even while she's been spirited away by the mama toad. The illustrations, simple black silhouettes, added a nice touch to the story.

You can visit the talented Barbara Ensor online at

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Enchanting Review: The Squad: Killer Spirit

Contemporary YA
ISBN 978-0-385-73455-4
324 Pages
Paperback - Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

This time around, Toby Klein and the rest of the Squad are supposed to do one simple operation - plant some bugs on some highly suspicious TCIs and get out. Should be easy, right? But when the mark comes into the room where Toby and Tara are bugging his phone and hiding, things veer off plan. When they race to beat him to the car to plant a tracking device, Toby manages to plant the tracker just in time. But as they're walking away, kaboom! Their target's killed in the explosion and Toby knocks herself out. Now with more attention than needed, the Squad is pulled off the case and squad captain Brooke is less than pleased.

I enjoyed THE SQUAD: KILLER SPIRIT just as much as the first book in the series. In book two, we get to know Toby and the other girls a little better, especially Brooke. One of my favorite subplots of the book was Toby's brother Noah's antics to get her nominated homecoming queen which were truly priceless, providing several laugh-out-loud moments. The mystery surrounding Toby in this one comes off well and I had no idea who the real threat was till the scene everything came together, but looking back the clues were there.

All in all, THE SQUAD: KILLER SPIRIT is a very entertaining read. I hope to see more books in Ms. Barnes THE SQUAD series in the future. You can visit her online at

Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Enchanting Review: The Squad: Perfect Cover

Contemporary Young Adult
Laurel-Leaf Books
ISBN 978-0-385-73454-7
273 Pages
Paperback - Available now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Toby Klein is your typical unpopular high school sophomore, with a talent for computer hacking. When she suddenly finds herself invited to a meeting of the varsity cheerleading squad, she's sure it's some sort of practical joke, but her younger brother Noah couldn't pull something like this off. And when she gets a note written in invisible ink, Toby can't help thinking there's something more going .. all, she's not exactly the cheerleader type, right?

THE SQUAD: PERFECT COVER pulled me into the story from the first page. From the coded first few notes to the one written in invisible ink, it's obvious there's more to the cheerleaders than meets the eye. Beneath the school is a high-tech area called The Quad which belongs solely to The Squad. There, the ten members receive their instructions via audio file - an event makes Toby want to say 'good morning, Charlie' more than once.

After a somewhat frightening stage-six makeover that includes a trek to Victoria's Secret as part of her first mission, Toby is almost unrecognizable to herself not to mention half the school. But when her new makeover is more of a hit than expected, she's given the task of using one of the hottest guys in school in order to plant a bug in his father's office.

I loved the unique world Ms. Barnes created for THE SQUAD. From a secret lair beneath the school to bulletproof push-up bras and a holographic cheerleading squad, this group of underage government operatives has everything imaginable and then some. Toby's a very likable character, who goes from being an unpopular hacker to an undercover member of THE SQUAD. Faced with the fact she's now not only an undercover agent, but a gasp, an actual cheerleader as well, Toby has to learn to deal with her newfound popularity, the attention of hottie Jack and the fact that certain members of the team aren't exactly her number one fans.

I read through this book in one night and am very excited I have book two on my desk waiting for me to read. THE SQUAD promises to be a great series! I look forward to reading more from Ms. Barnes.

Enchanting Reviews
April 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

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews
April 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Enchanting Review: Blood Roses

Young Adult
Joanna Cotler
ISBN 978-1-06-076385-5
144 Pages
Hardcover - Available May 20, 2008

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

BLOOD ROSES is a collection of nine magic realist stories; as the back cover blurb calls them "nine tales of transformation, wry, riveting, revealing."

Each short story is a stand-alone, ranging from 'My Boyfriend is An Alien' where the girl's boyfriend is literally an alien, or so it seems; to 'Giant' where a girl is so uncomfortable in her own skin, she becomes a giant.

It took some time after reading this collection of short stories to write this review because I wasn't sure what to say - all the stories are so varied, it was hard to decide which ones resonated with me the most to talk about.

My favorite story of the collection was 'Giant' where Rachel Sorrow is so uncomfortable with being herself, that she actually becomes a giant. I think that 'Giant' is a story a lot of teenagers can relate to, not feeling comfortable in their own skin and with who they are.

I also enjoyed 'Skin Art', about a girl, Elodie Sweet, whose body suddenly begins to be covered in tattoos as she falls in love with her boyfriend.

One of the more literary-like books I've come across, BLOOD ROSES is sure to be a thought provoking read.

Ms. Lia Block describes her work as "contemporary fairy tales with an edge," where the real world and its trouble find solace through the alchemy of creative expression and love. You can visit her online at

YA Director
Enchanting Reviews

Enchanting Reviews Interview with YA Author Kathryn Williams

1. What made you want to be a writer?
Being able to work in my pajamas. Kidding (kind of). As long as I can remember, I’ve just loved words and writing. It’s how I best express myself. When I was really young, I used to write poems and short stories about a horse named Babbling Brook in a pink Trapper Keeper my mom got for me. I still have it.

2. Why young adult?
Why not? (Sorry, I hate it when people answer a question with a question.) I’m relatively young myself, 26 -- and while that might sound as old as the earth to some readers, it feels young, so I still feel close to that audience and identify with a lot of the issues and themes addressed in YA lit. I love how you say in your bio that you’re "a young girl and a grown woman," because that’s how I feel, too.

I’m also in awe of how perceptive teens are -- they pick up on everything! Their threshold for bullshit is low, which I respect. I think maybe it’s a product of growing up in the Internet era. They’re constantly bombarded with media, so they learn early on how to sniff out insincerity or fakeness, and they’re also used to sharing their lives online, so they expect openness. There definitely is something as too much information, but in books, I believe you shouldn’t hold back. I think we’re finally reaching a point where publishers are realizing we don’t have to hold back in YA.

3. What inspired THE DEBUTANTE?
I have to give credit where credit is due. The seed of the idea -- a girl from the North whose family moves to the South and forces her into the whole debutante culture -- was actually my publisher’s. My editors grew up in New York and Connecticut but had spent some time in the South and were so intrigued by this "foreign" culture. They saw a personal essay I wrote for a newspaper in New York about being Southern in New York City, and they contacted me. When I heard their idea, I loved it. It was the reverse of what I was experiencing, living in New York and really missing the South, and this was a way for me to sort of revisit it through my writing. (While the book is definitely not autobiographical, I did draw a lot on my experiences growing up in Richmond, Virginia.)

4. Describe Annie in three words.
Searching, sarcastic, genuine. The last two seem like they contradict each other, but I don’t think they have to.

5. What’s one thing you have in common with Annie?
I tend to be sarcastic, like she is. I also love old-school game shows. I did not, however, make my debut, though a lot of my friends did. And I did do cotillion in middle school, which is kind of like pre-debutante (not to be confusing, because some debutante balls are, in fact, called cotillions). We had to wear white gloves and learn ballroom dances (none of which I remember, except for the "Star Gaze" and the "Pretzel") at the Tuckahoe Women’s Club. The big dance, called the Holly Ball, was at Christmas, and my friend had a party every year where we made our own bouquets (we called them "nosegays"… seriously). Man, I wish I had photos to share with you. The dresses were awesome -- sleeves bigger than my head. Of course, I think I saw SJP in something similar the other day, so maybe those are back in now…

6. THE DEBUTANTE has such vivid secondary characters. Who would you pick as your favorite?
Thank you! We (and I say "we" because my editor was awesome and very involved) worked hard to bring them to life and fill them out. I would say Mary Katherine or Gram… probably Gram. She comes off as a witch, but she’s just from a different era. You run across a lot of older people like that in the South, who are living by the codes and traditions of a bygone time. If you haven’t noticed, we don’t like to let things go in the South, especially if it’s "tradition." Sometimes it’s infuriating, and sometimes it’s a beautiful thing -- as Annie learns in the book.

7. What was your favorite scene to write?
Ooh. That’s a hard one. I enjoyed writing a lot of the scenes. Some were added later in the editing process to help move the story along and flesh out the characters, so those were sometimes difficult to work in. I guess I’d say the party scene when (without giving too much away) Annie has a major freak-out. For some reason, I loved writing her freak-out scenes, like the other one in the car with Robert, too. The scene I least liked writing was the kiss -- I felt so awkward, like I was invading my characters’ privacy! Haha! I think I was blushing the whole time I wrote it. I also really didn’t want to be cheesy.

8. Any chance of a sequel or a spin-off with one of the other characters?
Not at the moment. I’m really happy with where I left Annie and the other girls at the end of the book, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse with the whole fish-out-of-water thing. I wanted to characterize the South but never caricature it, and I’d be afraid if this book became a series, it might lead to that. But I grew to know and love my characters, so never say never…

9. What would readers be surprised to know about you?
I am the world record holder for longest javelin throw. Kidding. I have no idea. What have they been saying…?

10. What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a second YA novel. This one’s set at a summer camp in Tennessee. I had an awesome experience, both as a camper and a counselor, at a camp in Virginia growing up, so I really wanted to explore that setting. There’s just something about camp that’s magical. Those were great summers.

I also have an illustrated gift/humor book about living with roommates coming out in September. It’s called Roomies: Sharing Your Home with Friends, Strangers, and Total Freaks and would be great for guys and girls heading to college and getting ready to experience dorm life. If you’ve never had a roommate before, sharing your living space can be a shocking experience.

Enchanting Review: The Debutante

Contemporary YA
ISBN 1-4231-0045-X
256 Pages
Trade Paperback – Available May 20, 2008

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Annie’s about to go through the most traumatic experience of her life so far, moving from Connecticut, to Beaufort, Alabama, right before the start of her senior year of high school. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Beaufort is home to her crazy younger cousins and even worse, her very southern, very traditional grandmother.

But things can get worse before they get better, especially when Annie’s grandmother drops the bomb that she expects Ann Gordon to debut like all other proper young ladies. Annie can’t imagine doing such a thing, but if she wants her grandmother’s help to pay for university, she just may be forced to don a puffy white dress in July and all the other headaches that go along with becoming a debutante in the south.

Annie slowly learns to maneuver her new life in Beaufort, getting used to being called by her full name of Ann Gordon by people other than her grandmother and learning to deal with the fact that there’s no way out of her making her debut as The Debutante. And maybe, things in the south aren’t as bad as she actually expected them to be.

I really enjoyed this book. Annie’s a great character, who finds herself uprooted and taken away from everything she’s ever known and dropped into what seems like an entirely different world in Alabama. A world filled with people with two first names; a field hockey team that isn’t the strong, championship winning team she’s used to being a part of. But in the midst of it all, the friends she makes might just be the one thing to keep her sane.

THE DEBUTANTE is Ms. Williams’s first book.

Enchanting Reviews
February 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Enchanting Review: Airhead

Contemporary Young Adult
ISBN# 978-0-545-04052-5
352 pages
Hardcover - Available June 2008

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Sixteen year old Emerson Watts could never imagine that taking her younger sister to the grand opening of the new Stark mega store to see singer and heart throb Gabriel Luna would change her life forever. But when a plasma screen is about to come crashing down on her younger sister who’s too busy heading for teenage supermodel Nikki Howard to notice, Em rushes over to push her sister out of the way of the falling object. The next thing she knows, Em’s waking up in a hospital bed. And that’s when things really start to get odd, because as she’ll soon find out, Emerson Watts is dead.

I adored Em right from the start of the book; she’s your typical teenager, a bit of an outsider at her high school and sorta crushing on her geeky best friend who doesn’t seem to notice she’s a girl. But when the craziness starts, Em struggles to deal with the fact she’s now become part of something she saw on one of those Discovery channel surgery shows that people said was light years away from actually happening and that the only person outside of her family she cares about, thinks she’s dead. She can’t exactly tell him the truth either. Plus she has to try and fit into Nikki’s life, part of the conditions of her getting the surgery in the first place.

I loved the scene when Em is ‘kidnapped’ from the hospital by Nikki’s friends Lulu and Brandon, who think she’s really Nikki Howard. As Em tries to adjust to hanging out with people she’s only seen in magazines, she’s also trying to get them to believe what happened. That she really isn’t Nikki Howard, that she’s Emerson Watts trapped inside Nikki’s body.

AIRHEAD is a fabulous read by Ms. Cabot. Em’s predicament makes a humorous, page turning read. AIRHEAD is one of my must read novels of 2008. I can’t wait to read the sequel, BECOMING NIKKI. Check out Meg’s website at

Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Enchanting Review: Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink

Middle Grade mystery
Toasted Coconut Media
ISBN# 978-1934906002
245 pages
Print - Available May 2, 2008

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Eleven-year-old Anna Smudge has a talent for listening to others. She’s so good that she ends up getting tons of requests for her services from nutty New Yorkers.

But Anna has her own problems: a school bully who taunts her daily, parents who are too busy to notice her, and being blackmailed into doing someone else’s homework. On top of this is the criminal mastermind Mr. Who, who is terrorizing New York. But he’s only a rumor, right?

Anna, along with her sixth grade friends, set out to find Mr. Who and stop him from doing any more harm. Anna needs to do this soon. Her father’s life depends on it.

ANNA SMUDGE is a fun tale that is sure to be a hit. Anna is a modern day Nancy Drew/ Dr. Phil, using her talent of listening to help solve not only others’ problems but to help find the mysterious Mr. Who. Anna’s friends each have a profession-chef, crime sketch artist, and more. They use their skills to help find Mr. Who. It’s refreshing to have characters that don’t all want to be models, rock stars, and/or actors.

The illustrations are fun and catchy. The whole comic book crossover is sure to attract fans as well as appeal to the reluctant reader. The only problem I had with this story is it ended too soon. I can’t wait for book 2-Quenton Cohen: Professional Chef which is scheduled for a May 2009 release.

I showed this book to some eleven-year-olds who summed up how I felt about this book in one word. Wow!

MAC (aka Melissa A. Calderone) is a freelance writer for Popular Science Magazine. She has interviewed NASA scientists and covered topics ranging from asteroids to weapons design. Born and raised in Manhattan, MAC first started writing ANNA SMUDGE on the back of dozens of dupe pads while waiting tables at a downtown diner.
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Kim Rapier
Enchanting Reviews
May 2008