Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Enchanting Review: Toy Dance Party

Illustrations by Paul O. Zelinsky
Children’s (Ages 7-11)
Schwartz & Wade
ISBN# 978-0-375-83935-1
176 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

TOY DANCE PARTY: Being The Further Adventures of A Bossyboots Stingray, A Courageous Buffalo and A Hopeful Round Someone Called Plastic is a wonderful children’s read! A follow up to ‘Toys Go Out’, TOY DANCE PARTY is a book of six interconnected stories that follow StingRay, Lumphy, and Plastic as they have some very interesting adventures, including being left home alone and ending up stranded outside and StingRay getting injured, and being sewn up by Lumphy.

I think my favorite out of the six short stories in TOY DANCE PARTY is the first story in the book, when the toys are left home alone and end up stranded outside during a snowstorm. Filled with warm humor, cute illustrations and absolute overall charm, the characters of StingRay, Lumphy and Plastic come alive on the pages. This is one book that’s absolutely earned a spot on the keeper shelf.

Emily Jenkins is the author of several books for children and adults, including Toys Go Ou, Skunkdog; What Happens On Wednesdays; and That New Animal and Five Creatures. Ms Jenkins lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Ms. Jenkins online at http://www.emilyjenkins.com

Paul O. Zelinsky’s retelling of the classic fairytale Rapunzel, was awarded the 1998 Caldecott Medal. He is the creator of two pull tab books, The Wheels On The Bus and Knick-Knack Paddywack! Visit him at www.paulozelinsky.com

Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Enchanting Review: The Missing Girl

YA Thriller
ISBN# 978-0-06-623776-3
284 pages
Print – Available now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

There is a man. He appears nondescript, which is the way he prefers it. He lives in an isolated house with two cats, each named after one of his parents. He harbors a few dark secrets, but from the outside, no one can tell. No one really notices him at all, which is why he can so easily watch the five Herbert girls.

These five sisters, Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn, are completely unaware of the man who watches them. They instead go about their own lives, dealing with school, unrequited love, and their own hopes and dreams while bickering and getting along as only sisters can.

These sisters take each other for granted until they find out that one of them will be sent away to live with a relative to ease the Herbert’s financial troubles. But it takes the disappearance of another sister to really bring the others together. THE MISSING GIRL tells the story of these sisters and their secret watcher while seamlessly weaving in themes about family and love.

I really liked the premise behind THE MISSING GIRL, a group of girls and their stalker, and the alternate narrations which gave the perspectives of each sister as well as the mystery man. However, the frequently changing points-of-view were sometimes confusing and unbalanced and actually worked against the novel in the end. The problem was that each girl had her own story, as did their stalker, but Mazer only follows through with a couple of these threads. Also, I would feel sympathy for one of the sisters only to have her narration cut off by another sister; thus I would forget the first sister. It was difficult for me to get attached to these girls despite the short bursts of sympathy I felt for them. Frankly, there was too much going on in the beginning for my taste and not this entire plot jumble survived until the end. I was also disappointed that the story wasn’t more exciting. Despite THE MISSING GIRL’s less than satisfactory execution, I enjoyed the insights into the mind of the kidnapper and his victim and the importance of family. This novel was an ambitious attempt but unfortunately, not entirely successful.

Norma Fox Mazer is the author of numerous other young adult novels besides THE MISSING GIRL, including MISSING PIECES, OUT OF CONTROL, and AFTER THE RAIN.

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Enchanting Review: Wabi Sabi

Art by Ed Young
Children’s (ages 4-8)
Little, Brown
ISBN# 978-0-316-11825-5
40 Pages
Hardcover--Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

WABI SABI is the story of a cat by the same name, who after hearing a conversation her owner has with friends about her unusual name decides to go out in search of the true meaning of Wabi Sabi. Along the way she asks fellow feline Snowball, Rascal the dog and even wise old monkey Kosho who all share with her their personal meaning of Wabi Sabi, which are all told in beautiful Haiku style. Once she’s satisfied with her answers from her friends, Wabi Sabi finally returns home, content with her newfound knowledge.

I think WABI SABI is the most unique children’s book I’ve ever seen and one that many will no doubt enjoy. I would say though that this is one children’s book that has a higher reading level to it to go along with its message of Wabi Sabi, the art of finding “beauty and harmony” in what is simple. The accompanying illustrations, which are actually collages made from natural and manmade materials, are truly beautiful to look at and compliment the story really well.

Mark Reibstein is an English teacher and writer who has lived in New York, California, Hawaii, Japan, and Thailand. Now Mark and his daughter live near San Francisco with their good friend Arlo, who is also a cat. This is his first picture book.

Ed Young has illustrated for over 70 books and has been awarded the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po and the Caldecott Honors for Seven Blind Mice and The Emperor and the Kite. He lives in upstate New York with his daughters.

Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Maggie Stiefvater

When Lisa asked me to guest blog for Enchanting Reviews, I was momentarily stumped. I mean, a whole world of possible topics was spread out before me, and I had to choose just one. I decided, finally, after talking to a bunch of teens at a high school, to talk about a question I get asked a lot: "why do you write about homicidal faeries?"

After I get over the temptation to answer "why not?", I realize that I write about supernatural in general and faeries in particular for a lot of different reasons.

1) I think characters are like rubber bands: they show how strong they are only when you stretch them. And of course a great way to stretch a character is to put them in a life-or-death situation. I don't really want to read or write about natural disasters or real life crimes, so for me, supernatural characters provide the life or death situations.

2) I'm in love with fairy tales. I love the thinly veiled morality tales, the vicious rules and taboos, the harsh punishments and lavish rewards. My favorite fiction for reading are books that bring fairy tales into a contemporary setting, and so naturally, it's my favorite to write as well.

3) Metaphor, baby. There is nothing like a supernatural creature with no inhibitions to stand as a metaphor for unbridled human greed or desire or venom. Without coming out and saying, "human life without consequences would suck pretty bad," you can show it by having faeries doing what humans can't or won't.

4) Otherness. I'm a Christian and a romantic and I love the idea of there being something more to the world than what we see. We live on a planet with fewer and fewer mysteries: there's very few places on Earth that you can't drive your Escalade to. No more New Worlds for us to discover. So little magic that can't be explained by a microscope. To write about hidden worlds and creatures and people that are beyond science and beyond understanding is to satisfy that craving for more.

A lot of people simply fantasy as "escapist" fiction, but I really think it's so much more than that. Sometimes conflict or theme is just easier to see when you pull halfway out of the real world. In fantasy, good and evil is just so much easier to see (and so much more fun to watch duking it out).

For that reason, I think there will always be some form of supernatural menace in my novels. It might be overt, as in LAMENT, or it might be more subtle, as in SHIVER (coming out fall '09), but it will definitely be there.

Thanks again, guys, for letting me blog for you!

Stay tuned for an exclusive contest from Maggie!

Enchanting Review: Been There, Survived That

YA Non-fiction
Zest Books
ISBN# 978-097901737-7
96 pages
Paperback--Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

The first year of high school can be overwhelming. Not only are you starting at a new school but you have to worry about new teachers, friends, and even where to sit at lunch. And that doesn’t even include the cafeteria lunches. All this can cause anyone to break out in a cold sweat.

BEEN THERE, SURVIVED THAT is a manual written by four teens who have experienced being freshmen. They give some helpful suggestions on what to expect that first year of high school. Some things that are covered include how to survive the lunchroom, not kissing up, dealing with stress and burn out.

There are also funny freshman year horror stories. Plus, top list of things to either do or not do. The advice is practical and helpful and not based on an adult’s idea of what you should do as a freshman. That’s what’s great about this book. It’s written for and by teens who know what it’s really like.

This manual is sure to appeal to those just entering high school.

Zest Books has an exciting line of non-fiction books that cover issues that are important to teens. They have an internship where teens from different high schools around San Francisco are chosen based on their interests and accomplishments in writing, reading, editing, and teen culture. If interested in becoming a teen advisor, send a letter of interest to editorial@orangeavenue.com
Check out their website at www.zestbooks.net

Sept. 08

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Enchanting Review: Death By Latte

YA Mystery
Sleuth Speak
ISBN# 978-0-14-241118-6
224 Pages
Paperback—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Aphra Connelly returns in this second book in Ms. Gerber’s popular DEATH BY series. This time she’s going to Seattle to track down her mother. Thanks to the Mulos appearance on the island and Seth’s information, she knows where she is and how to reach her. It should be the perfect mother-daughter reunion—except that it isn’t. From the first moment Natalie Connelly lays eyes on her daughter, it’s pretty clear that Aphra’s unexpected presence isn’t welcome, by her or her associates. But that’s not the worst thing that could happen. When her mom’s partner, Joe, ends up dead in a cafĂ© that afternoon, and Aphra spots a familiar face on her tail, things really take a dangerous turn. Add in Seth’s surprising appearance, demanding back the ring back he gave her that’s suddenly missing and what was originally meant to be an uneventful trip to see her mother is anything but.

What a great second book in the series! The danger is really ramped up in this one now that Aphra is reunited with her CIA agent mother, who is on the run from a dangerous mole that’s out for revenge on all those who helped put his boss behind bars. Ms. Garber’s voice pulls the reader right into the story so they feel like they are right there along with Aphra. I have to say the unexpected twists and turns to the story were very unexpected and I literally gasped out loud when the identity of the mole was revealed.
DEATH BY LATTE is a fast paced page turner that really has it all: mystery, suspense, and romance. Can Aphra help Seth save his father or will she be the unlikely pawn that helps the mole track down her mom and the Mulos? You’ll have to read this one to find out.

Ms. Gerber’s lived in Utah, California, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Washington D.C., Finland and Japan, and has traveled through Europe and Asia, Mexico, Australia, Hawaii and Micronesia. You can visit her online at http://www.lindagerber.com

September 2008
Enchanting Reviews

Friday, September 26, 2008

Enchanting Review: The Big Game of Everything

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 978-0-06-074034-4
288 pages
Print – Available September 2008

Rating: 3 Enchantments

Union Jack (pronounced Onion Jock) is a relatively normal guy except for the fact that his family is rather eccentric. If one couldn’t already tell from Jock’s unusual name, the people Jock resides with lean a little more towards loony. Jock’s father Leonard, a hairdresser, probably spends more time trying to convince his customers to not get their hair cute, and Jock’s younger brother Egon, Jock’s spokesdevil, is physically larger than Jock and enjoys terrorizing him and other people (in a friendly way of course). But through all this strangeness, Jock still loves his family because, well, they’re his family.

If there’s one person in Jock’s family he admires the most, it is his Grampus. This is thy Jock looks forward to a summer of helping run Grampus’ not-quite-finished golf course. But Jock’s not going to get the simple summer he expected, especially after two of Grampus’ old friends show up at the golf course. With the introduction of The Big Game of Everything, Jock’s relationship with Grampus as well as his view of the world shifts, and it’s up to him to discover what really is most important to him.

THE BIG GAME OF EVERYTHING turned out to be only a mediocre story, which was a disappointment to me. Based on the back-cover summary, I was expecting a laugh-out-loud story that was meaningful, but instead, I got only a couple of chuckles and some confusion. Part of this is a result of the wacky characters; I felt the characters’ eccentricities worked against the story because they never truly gained my sympathy. The plot was pretty boring most of the time as well, which made me lose interest in the story most of the time. I think that Lynch was trying to create a more thought-provoking novel, but THE BIG GAME OF EVERYTHING failed at this because I couldn’t concentrate long enough on the story to really think about it. On the positive side, the weird characters did lead to some humorous situations and there was one exceptionally well-written scene towards the ending. However, for the most part, I felt like I was missing the big idea which was never explicitly stated. If you’re the type of reader who likes to look for meanings deep within stories, then you should read this book, but otherwise, I do not recommend it.

Chris Lynch is the author of several other novels for young adults including FREEWILL, SHADOW BOXER, and SLOT MACHINE. You can visit him online at his website: www.chrislynchbooks.com

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Enchanting Review: Party Games

YA Romance
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-0-4169-5913-7
284 pages
Print – Available June 2008

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Sara Sullivan is always finding herself at the coolest parties. That’s because she works as the assistant for her mother’s hugely successful party planning business. She may only be fifteen-going-on-sixteen, but she’s well on her way to becoming like her mom. She doesn’t even mind much that she’ll be spending most of her summer planning other people’s parties instead of having fun with her best friend Allie – that is, until she meets Ian.

Ian is a talented guitarist for an upcoming band called On the Verge. On top of that, he’s super hot and super sweet. Sara finds herself obsessing over her new crush, constantly wondering if he’s as interested in her as she is in him.

But Sara’s daydreams will have to wait. She’s gotten involved with planning the sweet-sixteen birthday bash for uber-spoiled and beautiful Dakota London. It’s Sara’s job to fulfill Dakota’s every want and need regarding the party, no matter how ridiculous or impossible the task. Sara has just about had it with serving Dakota, especially when Dakota tells Sara to make sure Ian is Dakota’s date. With Sara’s feelings on the line, will she be able to pull off this party?

I am a big fan of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies; however PARTY GAMES did not rank among my favorites. This was because in the first half of the book, the plot seemed to wander around with no real point. The story did pick up, though, especially towards the end. I was rooting for Sara to get the guy, but it was mildly annoying that Sara kept on putting the party business before her own love life, and I was glad when she finally learned her lesson in the end. I was a little disappointed that Ian’s character wasn’t as well-developed as Sara’s. In the end, PARTY GAMES was slightly enjoyable but it didn’t completely wow me.

PARTY GAMES is Whitney Lyles’ first young adult novel, though she has written several novels for adults. You can visit her online at her website: www.whitneylyles.com or on MySpace: www.myspace.com/whitney_lyles .

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
August 2008

Enchanting Review: Pretties

Scott Westerfeld
Young Adult Paranormal
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-0-689-86539-8
370 pages
$ 7.99
Print - Available now
Rating: 4 Enchantments
Zane is a Pretty. However he has always been different than the stereotypical Pretty. He does not share the same attitude as them. He is more serious than the Pretties who all seem to share the same “blonde” mindset. Zane is also the leader of the clique known as the Crims. The Crims are pretties who act like the uglies. They play tricks and get into trouble. These are things that are unheard of in the Pretties community. The Crims goal is to stay bubbly. Bubbly is where they stay on almost an adrenaline rush.
Tally Youngblood is a Pretty. Tally has given herself up to the Specials so that she could get the antidote that will cure the lesions in the brains of the Pretties. Tally is introduced to the Crims and later on becomes the female leader of them. Zane and Tally work side by side to stay bubbly and get the antidote.
The story of the Pretties is about Tally and Zane defeating the Specials and helping the new smoke rise. Fighting alongside Tally and Zane are most of the Crims, the new smokies and some uglies. Zane and Tally get the antidote. It is two pills, and they each take one. Tally is cured, Zane is also but he has horrible headaches as a side effect. Shay, one of Tally’s friends, becomes obsessed with Tally and finds that cutting yourself will also make you bubbly. She gets a lot of followers to start cutting themselves as well. The Crims try to escape from new Pretty Town to get to the New Smokies headquarters. This is not an easy task because the Specials are keeping the new Pretties in, and they are monitoring Tallies every move. While escaping everyone gets separated from each other and Tally gets lost without any gear to help her survival. When she gets to new smoke the doctors tell her that she was never cured by the antidote, she had cured herself somehow. And that Zane had nanobytes eating his brain the pill that she took was supposed to cure that. Zane has now lost his motor skills. The specials arrive because they had a tracking devise in his tooth. Tally refuses to leave Zane so the specials forcibly make her a special.
The Pretties kept me up all night reading. I had to work the next day on only an hour of sleep because I could simply not put it down! The book was different than the normal books I like. Futuristic but no aliens or overly science fiction. They talk about us the rusties which I thought was cool. I like how it opened my eyes on how we are destroying the planet, because the rusties almost kill everyone and the earth. The one thing that the book was missing was romance. There was a definite chemistry between Zane and Tally but I wish it would have been more elaborated on. Zane and Tally are going steady but they never get too mushy. They say I love you which are a big deal in the story. I like this because it seems that every relationship that teenagers have means that they are in love, but I wanted nice mushy romance. The other thing that was missing was all the definitions of future technology. It took me awhile to figure out what bubbly was even. I really like the way the book ended. Tally became what she was fighting so hard against, and it leaves you craving the next book.

Scott Westerfeld has written three other young adult series. To find out more about him and his books please visit www.scottwesterfeld.com

July 2008

Enchanting Review: Something Borrowed

YA Romance
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-4-4169-5289-3
272 pages
Paperback – Available April 2008

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Happy-go-lucky Ava is the maid of honor for her sister Camilla’s upcoming wedding, an extremely stressful role considering Camilla’s Bridezilla-like tendencies. As if dealing with her crazy sister isn’t enough, Ava’s boyfriend Lance dumps her only two weeks before the wedding. Now Ava has to scramble to find a hot a fun date.

This normally wouldn’t be a problem for Ava because she knows how to catch a guy’s eye, but she just doesn’t seem to be having any luck this time. The wedding looms ever closer, but something always goes wrong with every potential date Ava lands. With no other options left, Ava asks her best friend Theresa if she can borrow Theresa’s boyfriend Jason, a guy Ava doesn’t even particularly like, to be her date to the wedding; to her, this is much better than going stag. To Ava’s surprise, though, the night with Jason turns out to be much more than she bargained for.

I really enjoyed reading SOMETHING BORROWED; it was fun, flirty, and cute. I did find it a little strange that Ava made it her number-one-priority to find a date, because there are definitely more important things in life than that, but I did admire her loyalty to her sister Camilla and best friend Theresa. Plus, Ava had a pretty good sense of humor. It was fun to read along as Ava tried to fix Camilla’s all-too-frequent nervous breakdowns or pick up another hottie. My one minor annoyance was actually over the not-completely-appropriate title; Ava doesn’t resort to borrowing anyone until t the very last portion of the story. Nevertheless, SOMETHING BORROWED was a very enjoyable read that kept me giggling.

Catherine Hapka has written more books than her character Ava has picked up guys. Her other novels include The Twelve Dates of Christmas and Love on Cue of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies as well as books for various series.

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
August 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enchanting Interview: P.C. Cast

1) How do you care for and nurture your muse?

I think it’s important as an author, as well as a successful woman, to be well read and well traveled. People are so much more interesting when they’ve had a variety of experiences, which should include visiting different cultures and countries. Probably more than anything else travel inspires me and nurtures my creativity.

2) What was the inspiration for the HOUSE OF NIGHT series? Anything taken from real life (even just a little!)?

My fabulous agent, Meredith Bernstein, came up with the idea for me to write a series about a vampyre finishing school. At that time I was reading Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ HAWKSONG books, and I instantly thought of YA – so that’s how the House of Night was born! Yes, we definitely take many things from real life. First, the basis of our vampyres is biological. My father is a biologist; he and I brainstormed for a genetic reason for vampyres, then I added the goddess lore. The setting for the school was inspired by a prep school in Tulsa, just as many other setting elements are Tulsa based: Street Cats, South Intermediate High School (which is where I teach), the Tulsa Depot, the tunnels under the city, Utica Square, St. Johns Hospital, the Benedictine Nuns, etc. Also many of the characters are based on ex-students and friends – and, of course, Zoey is based on Kristin when she was a teenager!

3) Where did you come up with the idea of a vampire who is 'chosen'? Also the idea of the tattoos?

The Marked/Chosen part all grew out of the biological research my dad and I did, using the premise that for some teenagers hormones come alive and act on the junk DNA strands we’ve yet to map for their purpose. The tattoos were inspired by ancient goddess lore and the idea that when a young woman became a priestess she was often tattooed to show that she had been accepted into the service of her Goddess.

4) I'd like to know a little more about the mother/daughter collaboration. I've always been curious about how two people writing a book together brainstorm and make decisions...what if the two don't agree on a plot point? And the mother and daughter combination makes it even more interesting...and possibly volatile! Any funny stories come out of this?

Well, I love it because I’m the mom and I can beat Kristin if she disagrees (if I can catch her!). Seriously, we don’t always agree, but I respect Kristin’s opinions, just as she respects mine. And what we’ve discovered after writing five books together is that both of us have to bow to what the characters decide to do – so neither of us are actually in control!

5) Looking back on the first three books, is there anything you wish you could have added or even taken away?

Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything about the books. I love the House of Night and feel strongly about our characters and the problems/conflicts they face. I like that our heroine and the secondary characters are flawed, and that they actually make mistakes – like real life. I find it interesting and sometimes disturbing that some teenagers judge Zoey and her friends harshly when they mess up, when so many teenagers mess up! To me it makes a point about not being so quick to judge

Interview September 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Enchanting Review: Dead Girl Walking

Paranormal YA
ISBN #978-07-8714059
312 pages
Paperback—Available now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Amber has a terrible sense of direction but that doesn’t stop her from going to Jessica Bradley’s party. Jessica is friends with Leah Montgomery, who just happens to be one of the most popular kids at school. Taking a tip from one of her many self-help books, Amber hopes to meet Mr. Mongomery, who’s in the music business.

After overhearing what the girls really think of her, she takes off realizing she was foolish to even think Leah and her friends would want to be around her. Later, after a freaky accident, she has an out of body experience. To her surprise she ends up in none other than Leah Montgomery’s body.

Now it’s up to Amber to figure out how to get back into her own body. Maybe being the most popular in school isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. When she tries to tell her ‘new’ family the truth, the father threatens to send her to a mental institution. Her real family is back at the hospital waiting to donate her organs. Time is ticking away. She has to get back to her own body or she will forever be AmberLeah.

I really loved this teen-like Quantum Leap tale. This fast-paced and suspense filled novel will have the reader following Amber as she tries to figure out how to get back into her own body while dealing with sudden popularity. Singleton does a great job of showing a paranormal world with some twists and surprises. I especially loved the role a beloved pet plays in comforting the soon to be deceased.

Amber’s struggles feel real especially as she tries to communicate with her friends and family on what has happened. I couldn’t help but think this would make a wonderful teen TV series. Each chapter ends with a hook, pulling you in to read more.
Linda Joy Singleton is the author of the 2007 YALSA Quick book Witch Ball, the third book in the The Seer series. Check out more on Linda on her website: www.ljsingleton.com and her book trailer at: www.youtube.com/watch?V=8VUQmV2C2I

September 2008

Repost: Enchanting Review: Marked

Paranormal Young Adult
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN# 978-0-312-36026-9
306 Pages
Trade - Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Sixteen year old Zoey Redbird is just like any other typical teenager, worrying over the geometry test she has to take tomorrow-that is, until she’s marked by a tracker and her entire world changes. Everyone knows what happens next, Zoey needs to go to the House of Night, the vampire finishing school to complete the change or else she could die without ever having the chance to complete the change.

MARKED is unlike any paranormal I’ve ever read. P.C Cast and Kristin Cast create an intriguing paranormal world in which to set the House of Night series. There are stages to becoming a full fledged adult vampire, and at any point in time, a fledgling’s body can reject the change, as Zoey soon learns, perhaps a nice foreshadowing of things to come?

Zoey isn’t your average vampire fledgling. Her mark is colored in almost immediately, which makes her somewhat of a freak at House of Night and an easy target for the bitchier brigade, led by Aphrodite, the head of the Dark Daughters and Sons, a selective group of students at the House of Night. Zoey would be happy to stay far away from Aphrodite and her cohorts, only her mentor, the High Priestess Neferet encourages her to join the Dark Daughters. As Zoey can’t say no to her new mentor, she finds herself at the ritual. And when things later get out of control, it may be Zoey is the only one who can right things, much to the chagrin of her nemesis.

I was hooked from page one into this amazing book. From Zoey’s indifferent parents (I literally cheered when she snuck out of the house to get away from them) to Nyx, the goddess, the story is populated with amazing characters who come alive within the pages of MARKED.

MARKED is the first book in the House of Night series. You can visit the official house of night website at http://www.houseofnightseries.com/

Enchanting Reviews
May 2008

Enchanting Review: Betrayed

P.C Cast and Kristin Cast
Paranormal YA
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN# 978-0-312-36028-3
310 Pages
Trade—Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

BETRAYED is the second book in the ‘House of Night’ series and picks up a short time after MARKED. Zoey Redbird is still at the House of Night finishing school and is beginning to finally fit in and feel at home, even with her strengthening powers and thanks to the help of her new circle of friends. As the new Leader of the Dark Daughters, Zoey’s dealing with a lot more responsibility not to mention the jealousy of the ousted former leader, Aphrodite.

But things are never smooth sailing at House of Night, as a few of the fledglings’ bodies suddenly reject the change into vampyres. Things begin to get even more troubling when two of Zoey’s friends from the outside world disappear and the blame is put on a rogue group of vampires, something Zoey wonders about when she sees something inexplicable outside late at night.

What can I say about this book other than have Kleenex handy for the emotional last few chapters and be prepared for a few twists and turns that will leave your jaw hanging in disbelief. BETRAYED is an entertaining mix of paranormal and mystery that will leave readers desperate for book three.

For vampire fans, you can’t go wrong picking up the unique House of Night series. I look forward to seeing what the third book; CHOSEN has in store for Zoey and the rest of her friends. If BETRAYED is any clue, readers will be in for a wild ride. You can learn more about the series at the official website, http://www.houseofnightseries.com/

Enchanting Reviews
July 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Enchanting Interview: Beth Fehlbaum

How long have you been writing?

All my life. I began writing professionally when I began writing Courage in Patience-- even though I didn't realize at the time that I was writing something I would submit for publication.

What do you like best about being a writer?

I love being in "the zone", when I am so immersed in what I am creating, I am lost in the story and unaware of the passage of time.

Why Young Adult?

I really enjoy being around teenagers. Truth be told, however, I did not set out to write a Y.A. book-- and, actually, Courage in Patience is appealing to people across the age spectrum.

Best part of writing Y.A.

The letters I get from teenagers, and the things they say to me that let me know they really "got" what I was trying to do with Courage in Patience.

What's your writing schedule like?

I wrote Courage in Patience in the wee hours of the morning, before work, and on the weekends. I am still very much a middle-of-the-night writer.

What's your writing process like?

I usually start out by rereading much of what I've already written and revise and rewrite, then add to the story.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I require massive quantities of Diet Coke nearby and Chuck Pyle music on the iPod when I am writing. I do a lot of copy-editing by printing out chunks of what I've written, putting it in a binder, and reading it while I'm on the treadmill. I keep sticky notes & a highlighter nearby to mark areas I need to fix-- a comma here, quotation marks there, change this word, etc.

What inspired this book?

My own recovery from childhood sexual abuse was the catalyst. I have always written as a way of processing my own life, and in the course of therapy, I was writing short stories and poems and sharing them with my therapist. One day, he suggested that I try writing a novel. It took me about four months of trying to pull myself out of my own head enough to stand back and look at the recovery experience more as an observer than a participant. And that's when the story really began to flow.

How did you come up with the title?

I honestly do not remember.

Favorite character in the book?

Gotta be Ashley. I love her. Wait-- I also love Bev, her stepmother, because she is so brave. Then there's Zaquoiah…you know, I love most all of the characters like they are my own children… I don't think I can actually settle on one!

Which character is most like you or most unlike you?

Mmmm… I'm not going to answer that one… good question, though!

Which character gave you the toughest time to write in the book?

Definitely Charlie.

Hardest scene to write?

Most of Chapter 2 was excruciating to write.

Favorite scene in the book?

I have several that are my favorites for different reasons-- but one that comes to mind is when Dr. Matt tells Ashley that what happened to her and the way she was treated in her mother's house was "Fucked Up", and when she hears him say that, she felt something inside herself wake up-- like a flower turning toward the sun-- because Dr. Matt said so strongly what she had known was true within herself-- but here was someone validating that feeling for her. Then, when she takes off running from the encounter with her mother, she is sobbing uncontrollably, but she feels alive and says that for the first time she feels unafraid and like a flower turning toward the sun.

Do you have any sequels planned?

Yes, I'm working on the sequel-- it's called Hope in Patience. People have already been writing to me telling me that they didn't want Courage in Patience to end, because they weren't ready to let go of Ashley at the end. I feel the same way. Ashley has unfinished business.

Who would your ideal cast be if a movie was made?

I think John Cusack would be a great "David" -- but other than that, it would take me hours to think about that!

What's next for you?

As I said, I'm working on the sequel to Courage in Patience. And I'm also rolling around in my mind a story with adult characters who are dealing with scars and working through them.

Interview by Kim

September 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Enchanting Review: Cat Nights

Children’s (Ages 3-6)
ISBN# 978-0-06-113888-1
Hardcover-Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

It’s Felicity the witch’s 263rd birthday. Not only will she grow her first wart, and her shoes begin to curl at her toes, but now she’s finally old enough that she can turn herself into a cat.

Even for a witch there are certain rules, including a witch can only change into a cat eight times and still be able to return to her witch form. The ninth time, she remains a cat. As you can guess, Felicity loves turning into a cat and does it eight times. Worried about her, her three witchy cousins cast a spell over her to detract her from turning into a cat, but it seems to backfire when Felicity becomes sad. Feeling bad, the cousins remove the spell. But will Felicity risk turning a cat on the ninth night and remain one forever?

CAT NIGHTS is a cute witchy story perfect for October and Halloween. The illustrations are fun and colorful and I really liked the story. Felicity is a fun little witch whose decision on whether or not to risk becoming a cat permanently has earned this book a place on my keeper shelf.

Browse inside CAT NIGHTS here: http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061138881

Jane Manning's spellbinding picture book takes its inspiration from the tale of the "Cat Nights" of late summer. From this legend comes the saying, "A cat has nine lives."
The artist has illustrated numerous books for children, including the national bestseller The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, by Alice Low. Cat Nights is the first book she has both written and illustrated. Jane Manning lives in Deep River, Connecticut.

Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Enchanting Review: Do The Math: Secrets, Lies and Algebra

Contemporary Young Adult
ISBN# 978-0061229572
183 pages
Hardcover- Available Now

Rating: 3 Enchantments

Tess is an 8th grader who uses math to help her solve her problems. She has to great best friends who she gets along with pretty good and she has a hard time talking to boys-especially cute boys. Like other pre-teens she thinks her parents are weird.

One day Richard came into the copy room to make copies of a stolen history test and Tess let him. Apparently he passed them out to some of the other students. That’s the least of Tess’ problems. Her mother’s friend just committed suicide and Tess is convinced that her husband killed her. So Tess does the only thing she can think of. She tells her best friends her suspicions and follows the suspect.

Do the Math was such a cute mystery book. Tess was a believable character and had an original way of looking at the world. She used math to help her solve ordinary problems. I had fun reading this book and it had an original concept. I haven’t read any books that incorporate math problems in the story. The beginning of the book was too slow and the investigation didn’t really start until about halfway through the book. Tess also dealt with normal pre-teen problems and well as the crime she believes happened. Overall this was a really good book for pre-teens but older people will still enjoy it.

Wendy Lichtman writes essays for Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. She currently resides in Berkeley, California. You can visit her online at www.wendylichtman.com

September 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Enchanting Review: Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf

Middle Grade
David Fickling Books
ISBN 978-0-385-75125-4
224 Pages
Hardcover--Available September 9, 2008

Rating: 5 Enchantments

BARNABY GRIMES: CURSE OF THE NIGHT WOLF hooks you from the start and doesn't let go.

Barnaby Grimes is a 'tick-tock-lad', a sort of cross between a messenger and a delivery boy, but a tick-tock has to be faster than a messenger and twice as sharp as a delivery boy. But when 'Old Benjamin', a former coachman and friend of Barnaby's suddenly disappears without a trace, Barnaby finds himself wondering what happened to the old man. The trail leads to Dr. Cadwallader, a physician who's giving his cordial to the poor of London. It seems to work all right, all the clients Barnaby finds himself delivering letters to for the good doctor rave about the man and his potion. Yet Barnaby still isn't convinced. It all seems too good to be true. Is it?

BARNABY GRIMES: CURSE OF THE NIGHT WOLF is a really enjoyable read. The level of detail makes you feel like you've stepped back in time to Old London and are highstacking right alongside Barnaby as he delivers the letters, fights off a wolf and travels to the seedier areas of London. Full of action, the pace is constant with barely a moment to catch your breath as the story moves at a brisk level.

A definite must read for those who enjoy a boy-centric middle grade and those who enjoy the mix of mystery and historical. Look for the next book in the series, RETURN OF THE EMERALD SKULL to release February 2009.

Paul Stewart is a highly regarded and award winning author of books for young readers. He lives in Brighton, England. Chris Riddell is an award winning illustrator and political cartoonist. He lives in Brighton, England.

Enchanting Reviews
September 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Enchanting Review: Eclipse

YA Paranormal
Little Brown, Young Readers
640 pages
Hardcover--Available now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Seventeen year old Bella Swan is back in the third book of the Twilight Saga. Still human, Bella is fighting to be turned into a vampire and has strong beliefs on the subject. Still naive and clumsy as ever, Bella is about to graduate high school and has a lot of decisions to make.

Edward Cullen is a 100 year old vampire that lives and acts among the humans with his family. Edward is still in love with Bella and does whatever it takes to keep clumsy Bella out of harm’s way. With Eclipse, you see more of Edward’s challenge and what he must do to try and overcome them.

In Eclipse, you see a lot of changes made. Bella, for one, is happy to have her vampire boyfriend back. Edward is very over protective of her, though. Leaving her once was enough for him. With Edward keeping a close eye on her, Bella is not allowed to see her former best friend and werewolf, Jacob, for the simple fact that in one angry moment, Bella could be hurt. In other problems, someone is after the damsel once again and is out for blood. With Jacob and Edward fighting over her, Bella feels torn that the two can’t be friends. Bella is also starting to want more out of her relationship with Edward. In the midst of all of this happening, there are a bunch of killings happening in Seattle that could be vampire related. There is also a surprise visitor that will also disrupt the peace. In this book, Bella does figure out a few new things about herself and how strong she actually is.

Eclipse is a very enjoyable read, with all the happenings that Stephenie Meyer throws in. I really feel for Jacob in this book, fighting for Bella to be with him, instead of Edward. And, Edward’s attitude is amazing in this one. The only thing that annoyed me a little is how overprotective that Edward was. He didn’t give Bella a lot of space and I could understand how Bella did feel about that. I also really liked Jacob in this book, because he started having feelings for Bella in New Moon, but really started fighting for her when Edward came back. In a way, I was really rooting for both of them, because Bella is very lucky to have two stand up guys (or mythical creatures) fighting for her. Charlie is also some comic relief, with being mad at Edward for leaving Bella in the first place. Towards the end of the book, it gets really gripping, with Bella being stalked by a mysterious vampire and with the drama between Edward and Jacob. Another interesting thing about this one, is the back story that Stephenie gives us on the werewolves. Around a campfire one night, Bella is told some ancient stories about them and it’s a very interesting and insightful story. Eclipse is a page flipping read.

Stephenie Meyer is the author of the other three books in the Twilight Saga, Twilight, New Moon and the final Breaking Dawn. She’s also the author of a sci-fi book, The Host and is planning on 2 more books in that series. Also, she is in the process of writing Twilight in Edward’s perspective and it’s going to be called Midnight Sun. You can visit Stephenie at her website www.stepheniemeyer.com.

August 2008

Enchanting Review: Cycler

Young Adult
Random House
ISBN# 978-0-375-85191-9
256 Pages
Hardcover-Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

CYCLER has a really intriguing premise that had me hooked from the jacket blurb. Four days out of every month Jill becomes Jack, in every single way possible. With the help of self hypnosis, Jill’s been able to block out those four days, but Jack on the other hand, well he’s been able to find a way to view Jill’s days to keep up with what’s happening in the world. Now he’s no longer happy having to spend his four days cooped up in Jill’s room. He wants out and he wants out for one reason: Ramie.

I loved this book. Aside from a really unique premise, Jill and Jack have their own voices that drew me straight in and made me like each of them almost instantly. Jack is your typical guy, except he only exists four days each month, but he’s growing desperate to escape his prison, one that becomes even more solitary when Jill and her mother find out about Jack’s first escape. Jill’s your typical teenage girl, obsessed with prom and going with the guy of her dreams, who also just happens to have Jack to deal with. I loved how different Jack and Jill were, and how the black moment brought them together in one horrifying moment that actually had me cringing as I read the last few pages.

CYCLER has one of the best scenes I’ve ever read, when poor Jill in an effort to attract her crush goes to the ski hill with her best friend Ramie. What happens with her and the J-Bar is absolutely hysterical and mortifying.

Ms. McLaughlin creates a very vivid, at times hilarious page turner with CYCLER.
I was so glad to read in the author bio at the back of the book that Ms. McLaughlin is currently at work on a sequel, as the ending leaves things wide open for one and I can’t wait to see what happens to Jill and Jack next.

You can learn more about Ms. McLaughlin at her website, http://www.laurenmclaughlin.net.

Enchanting Reviews
September 2008