Friday, January 30, 2009

Guest Blogger: Paula Chase

Looking for Mr. (or Ms.) Good Read?

By Paula Chase Hyman


Assuming a book that’s found a traditional publishing home is automatically a “good” book – if to no one else than the acquiring editor, I feel comfortable proclaiming that 90% of a book’s success is exposure. Okay maybe I totally made up that number. But as an author and PR Chick, I feel relatively qualified to say awareness is key, especially considering five thousand children’s books are released annually.

How can you keep up when it’s raining books? How do you know which tome to cuddle up with? Stopping by YA Enchanted Reviews is a good start. Now take another step with me…

The Brown Bookshelf was started to serve as a voice to shout about a few of those good books, specifically children’s books written by African American authors. And starting February 1st, we’ll spotlight a new author or illustrator everyday. Those who comment on the site anytime between Feb 1st and Feb 28th are eligible for the end of the month giveaway - free books by the spotlighted author. Also at the end of the month, we’ll donate books by the authors, illustrators and their publishers to a library in need.

Good reads and a worthy cause to boot!

Eight of the spotlight authors write YA fiction.

Two of them are veteran authors, what we at the Brown Bookshelf call literary jewels. The other six are hidden gems, waiting for more readers to discover them.

Here’s the YA line-up:

February 1st – Sharon Draper, November Blues

Feb. 4th – Tia Williams, Sixteen Candles

Feb. 5th – Julius Lester, Guardian

Feb 11th – Tanita S. Davis, A La Carte

Feb 18th – Marilyn Nelson, Freedom Business: Including a Narrative of the Life & Adventures of Venture

Feb 20th – Deborah Gregory, Catwalk

Feb 25th – Sherri Winston, The Kayla Chronicles

Feb 28th – Monica McKayhan – Jaded

Check the entire roster

Enchanting Review: Blue Bloods

BLUE BLOODS
MELISSA DE LA CRUZ
YA Vampire paranormal
Hyperion
ISBN# 978-1423101260
336 pages
$8.99
Paperback- Available now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Bliss Llewellyn is the new girl at New York’s Duchesne prep school. It doesn’t take long for her to realize where the cliques are. Mimi Force is definitely the big girl on campus, rich, powerful, and has a hot twin brother, Jack, that seems to be matching her social status. Schuyler Van Alen is the complete opposite of Mimi, she runs with only two friends Dylan and Oliver, she dresses quite frumpy, and her family is from less money than is the standard. Duchesne has an elite group of students that are the committee. Only the “blue bloods” can get in. Those seem to be the high class uppity kids. Imagine Bliss’s shock when she is invited to the club as well as Schuyler. What neither girl realized that the term blue bloods was quite literal as they are all vampires.

BLUE BLOODS is the story of three girls coming into their vampire puberty. Each vampire lives a life cycle over and over, and when the teenagers hit the age of 15 their bodies start to recognize their past lives. They also start to crave blood. This cycle happens to each of the blue bloods, named after their blue blood, except for Schuyler Van Alen. She is the last of her line but she is not a true blue blood. She is a half blood. Her mother is a blue blood but her father is known as a red blood, or a human. Schuyler has no past lives to recognize as she is a new spirit. But Schuyler is on a much deeper quest. She is trying to find out who keeps killing young blue bloods. Each death is surrounded by mysterious circumstances and all seem to point to the mythical Croatan as the killer. But The Croatan is just a myth right?

This was the first book in Melissa De La Cruz’s Blue Blood’s series. I was hooked from the first page. I could not believe this book was sitting in my TBR for so long. Blue Bloods is not the typical YA vampire paranormal. So many of these stories are the same old cookie cutter scenario but Blue Bloods had me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what was going on. There were so many twists and turns there was no way I could have predicted what was going to happen. I highly recommend BLUE BLOODS to anyone who wants a fun, fast, and action packed story!

Melissa De La Cruz is the author of the Ashleys series, the Au Pairs series and now the new Blue Bloods series. To find out more about her and her books please visit her website at http://melissa-delacruz.com/index.php

Jennifer
ENCHANTING REVIEWS
January 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Lisa Schroeder

1. Why did you choose to write in verse?

When I wrote my first book, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, I didn't really choose the verse, the verse chose me. It just came out that way. I think it creates an atmosphere that I can't get with prose. For this book, FAR FROM YOU, again, I wanted to create a certain atmosphere, and I like how I can make the story very emotional by writing in more of a minimalist way.


2. What inspired you to write about difficulty of moving on from death?

This does seem to be a common theme in my books so far. And I think I write about it for a couple of reasons. First of all, every one of us, at some point in our lives, will experience loss of a loved one. We might not be 16 when it happens, but it will happen. And I think I want to show that it's hard and it hurts, but it is possible to move on, and to find happiness again. And I really believe that those who leave us want that for us. They want us to be happy, not sad. And of course we are, because we miss them. But ultimately, we have to move on and let that person go and make the most out of the life we've been given. So, I suppose I like writing about coming through that pain, to the other side, to a place of hope.
The other reason I write about loss is I have this deep belief that every day, we should give thanks for the family and friends in our life. Life is precious. Love is precious. And I hope at the end of my books, a reader will close the book and give thanks for the people who matter in his/her life.

3. What is the significance of incorporating angels into FAR FROM YOU instead of just the death of Alice's mother?

I'm a very organic writer, so I didn't start out knowing angels would be an important element to the book. It first came up when I was imagining a picture that Alice's mother painted for her, as a final gift before she passed away. And I thought of me, and my kids, and how I might want them to think of me if something were to happen to me.

There is something very comforting about an angel. Of thinking that you have an angel watching over you. So that's how it started. And then there were more opportunities to bring angels into the story, and so I went with it. It seemed to work. I hope it works!

4. What was the most difficult part for you to write in FAR FROM YOU?

There's that point where Victoria and Ali need to have it out. When all of the tension that's been building has to come out, so they can move on and hopefully find a way to get along. My editor said the scene needed more, so I had to dig deeper and figure out how to get all of this dialogue out while trying to be somewhat poetic at the same time. It's hard! And I don't really think I was as poetic as I would have liked to be. But it was an important scene and one that needed to happen and for the reader to experience.


5. How do you transfer so much emotion into your writing?

I'm not sure I can really answer that. It's not anything I can easily define. I know my books do elicit emotion, as people tell me that again and again. And I think that's a huge compliment, really. I suppose it's just letting myself write from a very vulnerable place and really trying to be that character in that moment and trying to capture the feelings as best I can.

6. FAR FROM YOU deals with relationships between friends, family, and significant others in an ultimately positive way. What was the experience of developing these relationships like?

Ultimately, when all is said and done, life is about relationships. At the end, that's what we'll look back on with fondness – the relationships we treasured in our lives. But you know, like anything in life, it's not always sunshine and roses. Relationships take work.

There has to be a give and a take because we're different from each other, and it's not always easy to get along. I once read that when writing a book, every relationship has the potential to be a sub-plot.

And it's so true! The fight Ali had with Claire played an important role in the rest of the story, for example. And I think Ali learned some things from that fight. And isn't that what it's like for all of us? When we have problems in life, or make mistakes, we learn from them and become better for them.

7. Music is definitely a huge part of this novel. What songs or music genre would you say fit the mood of your writing?

When I'm writing, I listen to singer/songwriters who write amazing lyrics and whose songs literally speak to my soul. For this particular book, I listened to a lot of Lifehouse and Sara McLachlan. Each book is different. The one I'm writing now, it's been a lot of A Fine Frenzy.

8. Which character in FAR FROM YOU can you relate to the most and why?

Definitely Alice. Not because my mother passed away, but because I was a child with divorced parents who had to deal with step-parents and step-siblings and all of that. It's hard! And some people have said Alice is so bitter at the beginning of the book, but I can tell you, at times, dealing with the new loves in my parents' lives, I was bitter. So to me it seems realistic. Others who have had different experiences may feel differently, and that's fine. But I did write from a place that I remember being at when new people came into my life.


9. What is the best part about being a YA author?

Oh good. An easy question! :) Most definitely hearing from readers.

Every week I get letters from teens who have read one of my books and want to tell me how it's touched them. As a writer, that's the ultimate goal really. To tell a story and to touch someone. And I love hearing that I accomplished what I set out to do.

10. What's next for you?

I'm working on a third novel for Pulse, called CHASING BROOKLYN, about a girl and a boy who are brought together by the ghosts in their lives. It will have some of the same themes as the other two, but I'm working hard to make it new and fresh, and one of the ways I'm doing that is by having alternating POVs. So part of the book will be told from a boy's POV as well as girl's. That book will be out sometime in early 2010.

Thanks so much for having me, and for reviewing FAR FROM YOU!!! I'm
always really impressed by your reviews!

Interview by Rachael
January 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Leslie Margolis

1. What sparked the idea for BOYS ARE DOGS?

My husband and I adopted our dog, Aunt Blanche, from an animal shelter back in 2005. She was four months old and not housebroken and really sick and afraid of everything ¨C including us. I got pretty obsessive when it came to her training and read at least ten books on the subject. So many of them said the same things. And so many of their training methods worked on people, too¡ It seemed like a natural transition.

2. What made you decide to write Middle Grade?

I didn't necessarily set out to write middle grade fiction. When I'm in the early stages of developing ideas I'm not thinking in terms of age group or genre. I just came up with this character and this story and it seemed to fit. Annabelle appeared as a sixth grader, and her story was set in junior high school. The transition was organic and I'm so glad it happened because the junior high school years are such an exciting and dynamic time. There's so much material there.

3. What do you like best about Annabelle?

Annabelle is straightforward, honest, and strong and she's not afraid to speak her mind.

4. Did you have a favorite scene to write?

Yes, the first time Annabelle makes the connection between puppy training and boy training -- when she finds her voice and things start to turn around for her ¨C that moment of recognition was very exciting to write.

5. Did you ever have to deal with any of the same situations Annabelle does?

Sure, junior high school was torture! Like Annabelle, I once got stuck in a lab group with two boys. I wish I'd been able to take control the way Annabelle learns to. I suppose that scene is mostly fantasy with a pinch of revisionist history tossed in.

6. What's next for you?

I just finished Girls Acting Catty, the sequel to Boys Are Dogs. In it, Annabelle has some problems with a group of girls and she finds they're too complex to handle with puppy/boy training techniques. It'll be out in the fall of 2009.
I'm also working on a middle grade novel set in Brooklyn. It's about friendship and aliens.


Interview by Lisa
January 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Enchanting Review: Mason

MASON
THOMAS PENDLETON
YA horror
Harper Collins
ISBN# 978-0-06-117736-1
247 pages
$8.99
Paperback—Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Mason Avrett is shunned at school as being the local ‘pudding head.’ Not too bright, others ridicule him. No one knows that he has a power so terrifying that even he’s not sure how to use it. He lives with his aunt and sadistic older brother, Gene, who likes to beat Mason when things don’t go his way.

Rene Denton, used to be a childhood friend of Mason. Even though she doesn’t talk to him, that doesn’t mean she likes to see others take advantage of him. One night of standing up for Mason sets off a string of horrific events. For Mason, the lifetime of pain come out in ways more terrifying than even his brother Gene.

This is one of those stories that you need to keep the light on when reading. Especially at night. Creepy and chilling, I couldn’t put this book down. I liked Rene’s character, especially when she refuses to stay silent when others mock Mason or when she watches one of her friends make a dangerous choice. Mason’s loyalty to Rene is shown in his way to send scary images to those who hurt her. But Pendleton doesn’t just dwell on this. He shows the qualities of Mason that still believe in hope and redemption.

Once again Pendleton shows the reader a world where horror coexists with everyday life. His tale is suspenseful and a real page turner with a powerful conclusion that will be remembered long afterward.

Thomas Pendleton has coauthored with Stefan Petrucaha another recommended edgy series—THE WICKED DEAD. MASON is Pendleton’s first solo novel for teens. He currently lives in Austin, Texas. Visit him at www.wickeddead.com and www.leethomasauthor.com

Kim
Enchanting Reviews
January 2009

Enchanting Review: You Are So Undead To Me

YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME
STACEY JAY
Paranormal YA
Razorbill
ISBN# 978-1-59514-225-2
256 Pages
Trade--Available January 22, 2009

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Fifteen year old Megan Berry is in for a surprise. Her Zombie Settler powers are returning and it couldn't be at a worse time, right before her first date with Josh, the senior hottie she's been dying to go out with. But suddenly there's a zombie at the door who wants to unload his final burdens in his after-death session and now Megan finds herself remembering things she thought long forgotten: like that horrible zombie attack five years ago.

And then there's the appearance of the mysterious hottie Ethan, another part of her blurred past that right now Megan would give anything to remember. They were friends then but now thanks to the Settlers’ Affairs, he's relegated to the role of bodyguard/tutor and that's the absolute last thing Megan wants. First, she doesn't want one and second, does it have to be Ethan? Especially when she finds out the mega-bitch at school, Monica, is a) also a Zombie Settler, b) was there the night of the horrible zombie attack and c) might just be the one behind the rash of Zombie attacks aimed at Megan.

There were a lot of things I liked about YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME, the zombie settler aspect was really unique and Megan overall has a great persona. I liked the scenes between her and Ethan and the fight scenes were really well done. A lot of the scenes stick in your head after your done the book and the truth of who was really behind the Zombie attacks did come as a bit of a surprise. But as much as I liked it, there were a few parts that seemed a little rough to me. The one scene with Ethan and Megan eating at the car, I had to read a few times to figure out how they moved from parking lot to Megan’s home so suddenly. And some of the Settler aspects weren't really explained and the relationship between Megan and Ethan as well as Megan and some of the other characters was a bit confusing at times.

YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME does lay the groundwork for what should be an entertaining new paranormal series. I look forward to seeing where Ms. Jay takes Megan from here.

Stacey Jay lives in the Midwest. Learn more about her at www.staceyjoy.com

Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
December 2008

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Enchanting Review: Shelter Me

SHELTER ME
ALEX McAULAY
Historical Fiction YA
MTV Books
ISBN# 978-1-4165-4583-5
274 pages
$9.95
Paperback – Available January 2009

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Maggie Leigh is trying to live a normal life in the midst of World War II. But nothing comes easy now, especially with meager war rations and German bombs frequently falling on her hometown of London. Life has become dreary and boring with no friends, no chocolate, and no fun.

By chance, Maggie and her aunt Joan are caught in a bombing, leaving Joan comatose and Margie largely uninjured, but at the mercy of her overtly religious mother. Maggie’s mom sees the German bombs as divine punishment for Britain’s collective sins, including Maggie’s, and tricks Maggie into attending a secluded boarding school in Wales. Maggie is plunged into a world of lies and deceit in a delusional institution that encourages dementia and class warfare. Then a horrific incident forces Maggie and three other girls to flee the school. Wartime Britain, as they are about to learn, is a harsh and unforgiving world, and absolutely everything is at stake.

SHELTER ME is without a doubt a nonstop thriller with the added excitement of danger of war on the home front. I felt McAulay accurately portrayed most of the terrifying effects of modern warfare in real people’s lives. This novel’s strength was by far the unpredictable plot. The many twists and turns kept the story suspenseful and reader eager to know more. There was a little lacking in the character department however. Maggie shows herself to be a quick and resourceful thinker, but much of the rest of her character was conflicted. She is compassionate and caring to one friend, but quick to forget the others that get left behind in her escape. Maggie’s relationship with her zealously religious mother is never resolved, especially after the betrayal, much to my disappointment. But despite only mediocre character development, SHELTER ME is most definitely a thrilling read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Alex McAulay has written several other thrillers for young adults, including LOST SUMMER and OBLIVION ROAD. You can visit him online at his website: www.alexmcaulay.com

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
December 2008

Enchanting Review: Boys Are Dogs

BOYS ARE DOGS
LESLIE MARGOLIS
Contemporary Middle Grade
Bloomsbury
ISBN# 978-1-59990-221-0
208 Pages
$15.99
Hardcover--Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

When Annabelle returns from summer camp, she’s in for a whole lot of changes. She knew her mother was moving them into a house with her boyfriend Ted, aka Dweeble, but there’s also the change in schools, from an all girls elementary to Birchwood Middle School and the biggest surprise of all--a cute new puppy--to deal with. Getting used to a new school is hard enough, but dealing with boys, especially bullying, jerkish boys is harder than Annabelle originally thought it would be. But then she comes up with the idea to start applying her puppy training manual to dealing with the troublesome boys at school.

BOYS ARE DOGS is a really fun middle grade read. Annabelle’s a very likeable, spunk tween who comes up with a unique way to deal with things, especially the annoying boys she’s forced to deal with at school. Her newfound friends at Birchwood, including neighbor Rachel, who unfortunately is the younger sister of one of the bigger jerks of the entire school. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Annabelle’s out eating lunch with her new friend Rachel at school and finds out the boy who sent her to the wrong classroom that morning on the first day of school is none other then Rachel’s older brother, Jackson.

Ms. Margolis does a great job capturing what its like dealing with a new puppy and struggling to fit in at a new school at the same time and I loved the uniqueness of Annabelle applying the puppy training manual to dealing with boys. Anyone looking for a fun middle grade read won’t go wrong picking up BOYS ARE DOGS.

Leslie Margolis lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her fairly well-trained six toed mutt named Aunt Blanche and her less-well-trained husband, Jim. She is also the author of the young adult novels FIX and PRICE OF ADMISSION. Visit her online at www.lesliemargolis.com

Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
December 2008

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Q and A with Meg Cabot

1) What led to the idea to have a tiara auction?

I wan ted to do something to help libraries--library use is up 30% right now with the recession, but funding for them has been slashed significantly!--and my publicist Rachel Breinin suggested doing an auction. Of course TIARAS seemed like a natural fit. We had tiara frames custom made, then set about asking designers, celebrities, authors, and illustrators decorate them. Truthfully, we got a lot of "I'm too busy's" and, adorably, from a few male stars, "I'm not sure it would fit my manly image," and one celebrity journalist we asked even accidentally threw hers away! But we got of yesses too. So it turned out great!

2) What inspired your design?

My design was inspired by "Forever Princess," which takes place in the springtime. Princess Mia really "blossoms" in the book, hence the tiara's floral theme, which also represents her gradu ation, going to prom, and, of course Greenpeace!

3) If you could have anyone in the world wear your tiara, who would you like to see it on?

Oh, my gosh! I guess the first person who springs to mind would be one of the Obama girls. Second would be Kathy Griffin.

4) What do you think Mia's tiara would look like if she were taking part in the auction?

A huge mess. She's not crafty at all. But you know what? Grandmere would come to the rescue and hire Martha Stewart to fix it, so in the end it would turn out BEAUTIFULLY.

Thanks Meg for taking the time to answer my questions!

Please check out the tiara auction at http://www.cmarket.com/auction/item/Browse.action?_sourcePage=/item/browseImage.jsp&sort=NAME_ASC&page=1&auctionId=73509724&view=IMAGE

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Enchanting Review: In The Forests of the Night

IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT
AMELIA ATWATER-RHODES
YA Paranormal
Laurel-leaf
ISBN# 978-0-440-22816-5
147 Pages
$6.99
Paperback- Available now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Risika has a past life that she has tried hard to forget. It is her life as a human known as Rachel. Risika has nothing in common with Rachel any more. Rachel was killed being a na├»ve nosey young girl. Risika is a strong vampire who will take no crap from anyone, least of all Aubrey, her rival vampire. When Risika makes the mistake of hunting on Aubrey’s territory she is sent several “messages” to let her know she overstepped her boundaries. However one of the messages is not from Aubrey but rather someone who is trying to make Risika bring back Rachel.

IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT was a very fast fun read. When I say fun I should clarify that it is not fun in a sunny cheerful funny way but rather fun because it sucked you into a life of darkness and solitude of a lone vampire. Risika was a character I wanted to feel sorry for but she seemed to have little remorse for those she fed from. It wasn’t until one of her flashbacks that I could see she did indeed struggle with what she was. The ending was a total shock to me. I was not expecting that person to be behind the message. I really liked this story and am looking forward to the rest of the Den of Shadows books.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is the author of several YA series including her Den of Shadows and Kiesha’ra series. She has a new book out called the Persistence of Memory that seems quite promising. To find out more about her and her books please visit her website at http://www.nyeusigrube.com/ or her MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/atwaterrhodes

Jennifer
ENCHANTING REVIEWS
January 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Enchanting Review: Far From You

FAR FROM YOU
LISA SCHROEDER
Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-1-4169-7506-9
368 pages
$15.99
Hardcover—Available January 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Alice’s life is a mess, even years after the death of her beloved mother due to cancer. She is continually searching for a way to be close to her mom, her angel, because she can’t deal with her father’s remarriage. All Alice has left is her best friend Claire, her boyfriend Blaze, her faith, and her music. She seems to be just an afterthought to everyone else.

Thanksgiving break comes, and Alice is forced to spend that time with her stepmom’s family. She can’t even count on Claire anymore since they had a fight, her father is as distant as ever, and miles separate her from Blaze. Alice is as sullen as ever. But when she, her stepmother, and her newborn baby sister are trapped in a ferocious snowstorm, Alice has to confront all her pent up anger and frustration. It’s a fight for life and for love that will change Alice’s world forever.

FAR FROM YOU is a beautiful story, written in verse, about love and loss. Through each poem and song, it is easy to understand Alice and feel her pain. Readers will be able to relate to Alice’s feeling of invisibility within her own family, and Schroeder creates this sympathy by writing in a style that evokes so much emotion. Each poem goes deep into Alice’s heart, and I really enjoyed reading from her perspective, especially her songs. There is not much drama or action in this book despite the life threatening storm; instead, FAR FROM YOU focuses on emotion and relationships, especially with family. FAR FROM YOU is a very fast read, disappointingly so, but it is one that will give readers a sense of hope and belief in the power of love.

Lisa Schroeder has written one other novel in verse, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. She is a member of Author2Author, an online writers’ blog, and can also be visited online at her website: http://www.lisaschroederbooks.com/

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
January 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Enchanting Review: Beautiful Americans

BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS
LUCY SILAG
Contemporary Young Adult
Razorbill
ISBN# 978-1-59514-222-1
304 Pages
$16.99
Hardcover—Available January 8th, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Featuring four very different characters, BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS tells the story of four teens living in Paris for a year abroad, capturing their first few months in the program. PJ, aka Penelope Jane is escaping what happened this summer with her family in upstate New York, she struggles to fit in, especially with Alex after things go awry during their first meet at the airport. Olivia, an amazing dancer is taking the chance to study at the famed ‘The Opera’ as well as go to the exclusive Lycee. Alex, the classic rich girl who’s there to enjoy herself and last but not least, there’s Zack, the Memphis boy who’s using the chance at being away from home to truly be himself.

What can I say about BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS? All the characters are great, but I was especially partial to PJ and Zack, the two who aren’t the typical exchange student found in the pages of the book. The four main characters are given pretty well equal face time and the storyline and relationships between the foursome evolves naturally, keeping the story moving at a good pace. Secrets are revealed to the reader, especially about PJ’s past but not so much to the other characters and the ending leaves it wide open for the next book. I can’t wait to read the next installment in the series, slated for Fall 2009.

Lucy Silag grew up in Iowa and California and graduated from UC Santa Crus in 2005. She has written for Allure, New York magazine, Real Simple Travel, The Independent on Sunday magazine and Salon. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS is her debut novel. Visit her online at www.myspace.com/lucysilag and check out the webpage devoted to the book at www.beautifulamericans.com

Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
January 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Enchanting Review: Forever Princess

FOREVER PRINCESS
MEG CABOT
Contemporary Young Adult
HarperTeen
ISBN# 978-0-06-132292-3
416 Pages
$16.99
Hardcover--Available January 6, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

In the tenth and final book in the Princess Diaries series, FOREVER PRINCESS fast forwards two years from the end of the last book. To catch you up, Mia and J.P. are a (seemingly) happy couple; Michael’s been busy in Japan, but he and Mia have been emailing occasionally and she still isn’t friends with Lily. But everything is about to change as the end of Mia’s senior year quickly approaches, as well as her eighteenth birthday and the fact she suddenly has to make a choice about which college she’ll end up going to. And in the biggest surprise event of all—Michael returns unexpectedly. Yep, her ex who she really isn’t a hundred percent over despite being happy with boyfriend J.P. is back in good old NYC and is happy to see her. Mia just isn’t so sure she’s as happy to see him.

In the midst of all this chaos, good old Dr. Knutz thinks Mia can make her life so much more simpler by just telling the truth, which honestly, is so much easier said than done. For example, she got in to every college she applied to, but she told everyone she didn’t. Why would she want to upset her friends who didn’t get into their first choice when she did?

FOREVER PRINCESS has quickly become one of my favorite books in the series. Mia’s struggling with a lot and even more when she finds out Michael’s back in town. I loved the scene where Mia finds herself pulled back to the press room by none other than Lily to say hello to him and then when she lies and tells him she was there to cover the event for the school paper, he offers to go out for coffee with her to do an interview, which leads to probably my favorite scene in the entire book. I have to say I was surprised by some of the revelations that pop up in the book about a certain person in Mia’s life, although its probably easy to see coming the deeper you get in FOREVER PRINCESS. But I loved the way things turn out for our favorite Princess of Genovia. Fans of the series will love the way Ms. Cabot wraps things up in this highly entertaining and pure fun read.

To celebrate the release of FOREVER PRINCESS, tiaras designed by Meg Cabot, fellow YA authors Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume and celebrities and designers such as Lauren Conrad, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Bobbi Brown and Austin Scarlett from Project Runway, are being auctioned off to benefit the New York Public Library, Tiara Proceeds to Help Fund Tutoring & Book Groups for New York City’s Teens. The tiaras will be auctioned online at cMarket -- http://tiaras.cmarket.com -- from January 1-31 with all proceeds to benefit programs for teens at The New York Public Library’s 87 branches.


Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
December 2008

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Enchanting Review: Who You Wit'?

WHO YOU WIT’?
PAULA CHASE
Contemporary Young Adult
Dafina
ISBN# 978-0758225849
320 Pages
$9.95
Trade--Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

The characters of the Del Rio grow up in a big way in WHO YOU WIT’? When Lizzie decides to have all the girls join a year long virginity pact, it couldn’t be at a worse time. With Brian getting ready to go off to college in a few short months Mina’s already played her V-card, while Jacinta suddenly finds herself dealing with a serious issue--she just might be pregnant. While Lizzie’s hoping the pact will keep her from going too far with Todd, the pact might be just the thing that will tear the girls friendship apart.

Ms. Chase does a wonderful job with the storylines in WHO YOU WIT’? The issues of teen sex and pregnancy are handled really well, but don’t overpower the story with a negative vibe like some books tend to do. I loved how Lizzie had her cell phone timed to go off fifteen minutes into her make out session with Todd and how Jacinta handled her own situation. The scene near the end of the book with the girls waiting for the test results in Jacinta’s bathroom was one of my favorites in the whole series. While the girls friendship is tested more in this book than previously in the series, it’s nice to see a group of friends who stick so close together, no matter what the issues might be between them.

You can learn more about the book at http://www.paulachasehyman.com/wit.php and check out an excerpt here: http://www.paulachasehyman.com/wit1.php Look for the last book in the series to release in 2009.

Lisa
Enchanting Reviews
November 2008

Monday, January 5, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Michael P. Spradlin

1. What made you want to become a writer? Growing up I loved to read. I read all the time and just about anything I could get my hands on. I think at some point, I just naturally progressed to the realization that if reading books was so much fun, then writing them must be the best job in the world. Turns out I was right about that.

2. Why historical? I don't necessarily stick to historical. My first novels in the Spy Goddess series were contemporary tales. In the case of The Youngest Templar, I grew up loving this
period of history and reading Robin Hood and Ivanhoe and all the stories about knights and castles and sieges. I just knew that someday I would have to write a book set during that period.

3. What inspired THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: KEEPER OF THE GRAIL? The actual inspiration for this story came from reading a magazine article about the Rosslyn Cathedral in Scotland. Legend says it is the hiding place of the Holy Grail. When I read this, I said to myself, assuming the Grail is real and is hidden there somewhere, how did it get there? What journey did it take from the Holy Land to this place? So I worked backward and came up with a character, Tristan, who must keep the Grail safe and see it all the way to Roslin.

4. How much research did you have to do before starting the book? For historical novels quite a bit. I strive very hard for accuracy, while keeping in mind that I am writing fiction. I try to focus on the characters and the story and not overwhelm the book with historical minutiae. I would say that of all the research I do, only about 20% makes it into the book.

5. What's your writing process like? I have to have a character first. I have tons of plots in my head, but until I find the character to tell each partiuclar story, there is no story. So when a character reveals himself to me, I set him down in the world I want to create and see how he does in it. If he or she likes it, I keep going.

6. What is your favorite quality of Tristan's? I think I admire him mostly for his compassion. He strives to live by the Templar code of duty and honor. And he's also incredibly loyal. He would make a good friend I think.

7. Which character would you say is most like you? I think I'm probably more like Robard than any of the others, only hopefully not as rough around the edges as he is. I can be stubborn, but like Robard, I hope that most of the time my heart is in the right place.

8. What was your favorite scene to write in KEEPER OF THE GRAIL? My favorite scene was when Tristan and Robard meet for the first time. Originally I hadn't intended for Robard to remain in the entire book. It would be a brief meeting and then they would meet up again later. However, Robard's personality just took over and he sort of demanded to remain in the story as Tristan's sidekick. Since he had the bow and arrows I agreed to let him have his way.

9. What's next for you? I have just finished the next book in the trilogy. It's called THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: TRAIL OF FATE and will be out in September 2009. I'm well underway with book three and I've finished another novel that my agent is shopping around right now. It's a historical paranormal adventure and a lot of fun, we're getting a great response to it, so I hope to have a deal in place soon. My unfulfilled writing goal is to some day write a comic book series. I hope to follow in the footsteps of Brad Meltzer, Jodi Picoult and other novelists who have written for comics. I loved reading them as a kid, still read them as an adult, and I have a ton of ideas for story arcs. So I'll keep my fingers crossed! But I'll always be a novelist first.

Interview by Lisa
December 2008

Enchanting Interview: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

1. What made you want to become a writer?

Silly as it sounds, I came up with the notion of Dairy Queen and
desperately wanted to read the book. So I had to write it first. Then I was hooked.


2. Why historical?

In part because then I don't have to learn to IM. Also, history is
rather like fairy tales, providing us all a common frame of reference.

Princess Ben isn't history, really. There's no one specific time to
which it refers: if pressed, I describe it as "1750 without gun
powder." But it is old-fashioned, which is comforting, and knowable, even if we don't get all the references.


3. What inspired PRINCESS BEN?

I had a dream about a girl leaping out of a window while clutching a
broom. Truly. Then I had to write the book in order to find out what
happened.


4. How much research did you have to do before starting the book?

In my past life, I was a trained historian who specialized in the
histories of food and architecture. Needless to say, both of these get
extensive coverage in PB. But one of the great joys -- if not THE great
joy -- of writing fantasy is that by definition it doesn't require much
research. I had to nail down the names of weaponry, and military dress,
and the proper forms of address for a queen versus a princess versus a
duke. But really it's all about making stuff up.


5. What's your writing process like?


I come up with an idea -- hopefully a good one -- and then spend weeks
staring into space thinking about it. This is great fun for my
children. Then I prepare a multi-page outline based on my screenwriting
training -- I have no idea how to plot a story other than as a script.
Then I start at the beginning and work my way to the end, word by word,
promising myself that I'll get to read it once it's done. Then the hard
part starts.


6. What is your favorite quality of Ben's?

Her sense of humor! That was so much fun to weave into the story -- there's nothing like a wry aside to lift my spirits.


7. Which character would you say is most like you?

Hmmm... I have to say that I have a real soft spot for Queen Sophia.
When I first started the book, she was the archtypal villainess. But
the more I wrote about her, the more I sympathized with her situation.
Now she's probably my favorite character. My daughter would probably
say we resemble each other, though I don't garner nearly the respect
that she does.


8. What was your favorite scene to write in PRINCESS BEN?

The second ball, when Ben dances with King Renaldo, and they have a
true war or words all while smiling politely. It's probably my favorite
scene of all my books.


9. What's next for you?

The third and final Dairy Queen book, and then ... Well, we'll see. I have ideas, but no juicy dreams so far. Here's hoping.


Interview by Lisa
December 2008

Enchanting Review: Flygirl

FLYGIRL
SHERRI L. SMITH
YA Historical Fiction
Penguin
ISBN# 978-0-399-24709-5
288 pages
$16.99
Hardcover – Available January 2009

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Ida Mae Jones, though light-skinned, is of African American descent. But even is race and gender are cause for discrimination in the South in the 1940s, Ida Mae tries not to let it affect her. All she wants to do is fly, because in the air is where she feels free, and she’s determined not to let anything get in the way of her dreams to become a pilot.

But Ida Mae’s world drastically changed when the US enters the Second World War Her brother Thomas joins the army as a doctor, and Ida Mae’s hopes of flying are nearly dashed because she knows her family needs her more than ever. And then she hears about WASP, or Women Air force Service Pilots, and her fiery desire to fly is rekindled. The only problem is that Ida Mae is black, and WASP is a program for white women. So, determined to fly and help her country, Ida Mae lies and passes herself off as a white woman. But even as she lives her dream in an exciting and dangerous new world, she can’t ignore the lies that are building up and the guilt for leaving her family that gnaws at her. FLYGIRL is Ida Mae’s incredible tale of chasing your dreams and being true to yourself.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, and I have to say that FLYGIRL was very well-researched and well-written. I’d never heard of WASP before, so it was a delight to learn about. Smith accurately portrayed the turbulent times of World War Two, from gender and racial prejudices to the crazy war fever. I loved all of Smith’s characters, especially Ida Mad and her two WASP friends, Patsy and Lily, because their personalities were so distinct and vibrant, it was like they jumped right off the page. It was probably their authenticity that made the tragedies of warfare all the more difficult to read about. Unfortunately, FLYGIRL had its awkward moments as well. Sometimes Ida Mae was a little too conflicted about striving for what she deserved versus accepting her lot, and her resulting actions never seemed completely right. I felt Ida Mar’s relationships with her friends and family could’ve been strengthened also. Lastly, I was disappointed the story was not longer, because I felt Ida Mae’s life still had too many loose ends to be tied up. I’m not really sure how I feel about FLYGIRL’s message, because it’s a messy cross between serving your country and staying true to yourself and your dreams, but I can’t deny that FLYGIRL was a moving story and fantastic read.

FLYGIRL began as Sherri L. Smith’s master’s thesis project and bloomed into this great story. Smith has written three other novels, and you can visit her online at her website, www.sherrilsmith.com

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
November 2008