Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Enchanting Review: The Gecko And Sticky: The Greatest Power

Middle Grade
ISBN# 978-0-375-84377-8
194 Pages
$12.99 US/ $14.99 CAN
Hardcover--Available May 26, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

THE GECKO & STICKY: THE GREATEST POWER is a highly entertaining read. Thirteen year old Dave and his talking gecko, Sticky, end up caught in the midst of a bank robbery by the dastardly villain Damien Black. But this isn't the first time Dave has met Damien. In fact, Sticky knows him too. The ancient wrist-let that Dave wears around his arm, gives him both the power of the gecko and invisibility. It was taken from Damien and Damien would really like it back. Dave however, wants to get back the money and the tiger eye ring that Damien stole from Ms. Kulee, the first customer of Dave's courier service.

An engaging read, THE GECKO & STICKY: THE GREATEST POWER is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I loved the humor and the voice of the narrator, who talks directly to the reader, sharing secrets that even the characters don't know. It was filled with fun characters, from Dave and the unusual talking gecko and kleptomaniac Sticky, to even Damien and his love for his 1959 Eldorado Biarritz and the hilarious Bandito Brothers, a bad guy mariachi band. One of my favorite scenes is when Dave and Sticky break into Damien's and are searching for a way out of the tunnels below and into the house and come across the monkey in a cage, who's main job is brewing coffee for Damien. Absolutely hilarious what happens when the invisible Dave breaks the monkey out of the cage and the monkey starts following them.

Readers looking for a fun read that will make you laugh, should definitely pick up THE GECKO & STICKY: THE GREATEST POWER. The next book in the series is due out October 2009.

Wendelin Van Draanen is the winner of the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children’s Mystery Book for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief. Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes is a 2003 Edgar Award nominee. Visit Wendelin Van Draanen's Web site at for the latest on The Gecko and Sticky, Sammy Keyes, Shredderman, and more.

Enchanting Reviews
May 2009

Enchanting Review: Say The Word

YA Contemporary
ISBN # 978-1-59990-333-0
360 pages
Hardback- Available now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Seventeen-year-old Shawna Gallagher is the perfect daughter and student. She follows her father’s every rule. Then one day a phone call from her mother’s partner, shatters her perfect world. Shawna doesn’t know how to separate the anger of her mother’s abandonment to live with her lesbian partner Fran and the grief of her mother’s sudden death. Then her father’s controlling and decisions hurt everyone, including the family of Fran. Shawna is not sure how to react especially when she wonders how Fran’s sons fit into the picture. Sometimes being perfect isn’t the same as doing what’s right.

I really enjoyed this tale. At first I was angry on what happened to Fran and her sons after the death of her partner. How can the laws not help gay partners? Shawna’s grief was very realistic as was her peers tormenting her on catching gayness from her mother. I loved watching Shawna’s growth throughout the book. Garsee does a wonderful job showing a teen conflicted with a difficult situation and how she draws strength from within. This is a must read book especially on showing how a not typical family survives difficult times.

Jeannine Garsee is the author of BEFORE, AFTER, AND SOMEBODY IN BETWEEN. She works as a psychiatric nurse in an inner-city hospital and lives with her family in a southwest suburb of Cleveland. Find out more on her website

Enchanting Reviews
April 09

Enchanting Review: Derby Girl

Contemporary Young Adult
Henry Holt
ISBN# 978-0-8050-8023-0
256 Pages
Hardcover --Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Bliss Cavendar isn't your average teenager. With blue hair, a love of indie-rock and a being a complete and total misfit in small town Bodeen, Texas, the only thing Bliss has to keep her sane is her best friend Pash. But when a trip to Austin with her pageant loving mother inadvertantly puts a flyer for a roller derby in her hands, Bliss couldn't expect things to change the way they do. Sneaking to Austin with Pash on a Friday night puts her in full fan girl mode and desperate to become a DERBY GIRL herself.

I really enjoyed DERBY GIRL. Bliss is such a hilarious, fun character, someone truly unique you don't see a lot of in YA. Determined to break out of Bodeen, Texas and maybe even more importantly away from her mother, Bliss finds herself determined to become a Derby Girl, even if the last time she was on a pair of roller skates was in the second grade. But the try out for the group is truly one of my favorite scenes in the book. Even though the odds were against her when she tried out for the Derby Girls, she overcame the falling, the fact she was trying out in Barbie roller skates and finally found her niche. What was so great about DERBY GIRL aside from Bliss' voice, was the fact you could easily slip into her world, and truly laugh at some of the situations she finds herself in, whether it be her locker neighbor and the thong incident or sneaking rides into Austin with the seniors on their way to bingo.

Anyone looking for a fun and unique young adult read won't go wrong picking this one up.

Shauna Cross is a roller derby athlete, author of Derby Girl, and screenwriter of Whip It!. Her roller derby nom de guerre is "Maggie Mayhem," skating for the Los Angeles Derby Dolls. The book, and film, are fictionalized autobiographical accounts of her experiences skating for the Texas Rollergirls.

Enchanting Reviews
April 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Enchanting Review: Tim Byrd

Interview with Tim Byrd

1. What made you want to be a writer?

I realized I wanted to write sometime before I can even remember. I learned to read when I was three or four, and was reading novels by five. That was when I wrote my first story, “The Blue Stallion,” which I also illustrated in crayon. It was an exciting tale in which our hero, the stallion, fought and vanquished a mountain lion.

I always intended to write, but didn’t realize it was to be my absolute calling until I read Ray Bradbury’s story “The Fog Horn” when I was about nine or ten. I found it so moving, and was so overcome with the fact that the written word could have such power, I consciously decided that writing would be my main job, whatever else I might get around to doing.

2. How long have you been writing?

As long as I’ve been reading, I think.

3. Why action/adventure?

I love adventure stories. Always have.

I was recently thinking about this very question, about why this is the sort of thing that my mind comes up with (as opposed to, say, suburban divorce stories), and it occurred to me that most adventure tales are tales of optimism. The heroes face difficulties, and almost always manage to overcome them. Adventure stories are usually considered escapism, a retreat from our daily reality, but I think instead they actually motivate us subconsciously to engage reality. They give us models of perseverance and hope.

4. Describe your writing style.

The goal is for it to be vivid. I want people to get as close to actually feeling what my characters are feeling as I can bring them. I want emotion on the page, and sensation, and passion. I also want my writing to actively engage the mind, to be smart.

Whether I achieve those things is up to each reader.

5. What's the best part of being a writer?

Oh, being read. I write to be read, and the more people who read my stuff, the happier I am, especially if I get to hear their impressions. It’s all about sharing the stuff bubbling up in my head.

6. Describe DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM in 3 words.

Smart rollicking adventure.

7. Why frogs? :)

It just felt right, even inevitable. As soon as I knew I was going to write about Doc Wilde and his kids, I immediately knew their first challenge would be the Frogs of Doom. Frogs are primeval and weird, but also goggle-eyed and goofy, so there was potential for the Wildes to face creatures that were alien and dangerous but at the same time somewhat ridiculous, which adds to the fun.

8. What sparked the idea for DOC WILDE?

I've always loved pulp adventure fiction, which grew as a form during the Depression in the 1930s. I grew up reading reprints and scavenged copies of pulp era science fiction, fantasy, and mystery, and a big favorite of mine was Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze. His adventures were full of exotic locales, twisted villains, brilliant gadgetry, and constant action.

When I became a father, I looked for stories to share with my son that had that old pulp spirit, and didn't have much luck. Doc Savage and The Shadow were out of print. There were some contemporary movies available (the Indiana Jones flicks, the first two Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser, The Shadow with Alec Baldwin), and there were some good modern pulp books for adults by writers like James Rollins and Matthew Reilly, but not much for kids.

So I decided to write some pulp for him. Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is the result, a modern-day homage to the pulp greats, full of cliffhangers and gadgets and world-threatening villains being vanquished by a stalwart family of adventurers.

9. What do you like best about Doc Wilde and his family?

It’s all about love. They’re all overflowing with love of knowledge, love of experience, and most of all love of each other. It was very important to me that the reader would feel all that love along with the Wildes.

10. What was your favorite scene to write?

It’s a toss-up between Brian’s adventure on the Empire State Building, with its incredibly over-the-top resolution, and Wren’s solo encounter with a Lovecraftian monster late in the book. Both were classic examples of the writer writing himself into a corner, with no more idea of how the characters will survive than the reader will have. Figuring out how they did was exciting and fun.

11. What do you have in common with Doc Wilde?

He's more tanned, more fit, and way more accomplished than I am, but he shares my hunger for knowledge and experience. Most importantly he's a dad before he's anything else, putting his kids ahead of everything else in the world.

Again, it’s all about the love.

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

Among the many pets I’ve had in my life were a hedgehog, a little brown bat, and a very affectionate raccoon named Hamlet.

13. What's next for you?

The second Doc Wilde book, of course. It's called Doc Wilde and The Daughter of Darkness. In it, something terrible happens to Doc, and Brian and Wren go looking for help from an old friend of the family, a shadowy avenger with a sinister laugh. He's not home, but his teen daughter is, and she joins them against a diabolical Manchurian warlord who's been around a very long time.

Interivew by Lisa

May 2009

Enchanting Review: Doc Wilde And The Frogs Of Doom

Action/Adventure Middle Grade
G.P Putnam’s Sons
ISBN# 978-0-399-24783-5
192 Pages
Hardcover--Available May 19, 2009

Rating: 4 Enchantments

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM is a very imaginative adventure tale that boys will be sure to love. When Grandpa Wilde goes missing and the only link is a photo of him, Doc Wilde along with his two children, Brian and Wren, must go on a search that will take them from New York to Boston to the small country of Hidalgo to try and find him. Along the way, the family finds themselves targeted by several unusual breeds of frogs that haven’t been seen before.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM, but the story quickly drew me in within a few pages. Immensely detailed, it soon felt like I was on the trail of Grandpa Wilde right along with the family. The mystery element was strong throughout the entire book and the characters of Doc Wilde and family are bigger than life. I especially enjoyed the scenes where Brian was dangling off the Empire State building trying to collect one of the mysteriously appearing spying frogs, not to mention when the family finally arrives in Hidalgo, and goes deep into the forests in search of grandpa. An interesting start to what should be a very entertaining series, readers looking for something different will no doubt enjoy this tale.

Tim Byrd lives with his adventurous son and a treacherous cat near Atlanta, Georgia. He is often barefoot, prone to irony, and interested in everything. He knows how to tie a tie, but doesn't care to. He has been a dishwasher, shoe salesman, waiter, soldier, game designer, independent filmmaker, and outdoor guide. He wants to be a kid when he grows up. Check out the website for the series at

Enchanting Reviews
April 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Enchanting Review: Cracked Up To Be

Contemporary YA
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN# 978-0-312-38369-5
214 Pages
Trade--Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Parker Fadley is no longer the girl everyone used to know and love. All Parker knows she is has to live up to the so-called good behavior expected of her by the school principal and guidance counselor in order to graduate--something that seems to be her only goal. She honestly doesn’t care about her old life or her old her friends. All she wants is to escape.

Parker first comes off kind of abrasive, but as the story goes along and the past slowly starts being revealed through her flashbacks, you start to see why she’s changed from the perfect A student, cheerleading captain into the girl she is now. Surprisingly her strange relationship with newcomer Jake is the catalyst it seems for her breakthrough to start. I have to say I liked Parker a lot, I loved her witty comments, she was never short of a good comeback to her ex-boyfriend, Jake or even Becky, the girl who’s taking her place with her ex and the cheerleading squad. I liked Jake too, how he never gave up on Parker and was always sorta there. I liked how he broke down her walls. One of my favorite scenes is when Jake gives Parker a print out on breathing on the school bus after one of her anxiety attacks. Not only does the scene have some great dialogue that me had laughing, it also showed growth on Parker’s part when she starts to see Jake in a bit of a different light.

CRACKED UP TO BE is a great debut novel. Readers looking for a not your typical young adult read should pick this one up! Parker is definitely not a character you come across that often.

Courtney Summers lives and write in Canada, where she spends most of her time behind a camera, at a piano or with a word processing program. Visit her website at

Enchanting Reviews
March 2009

Enchanting Review: Wings

YA fantasy
Harper Collins
ISBN #978-0-06166803-6
294 pages
Hardcover Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Fifteen-year-old Laurel’s life changes when her parents decide to buy a bookstore outside the small town she’s from. Being homeschooled all her life she’s afraid that she might be different than the other teens at her new high school. When a plant blooms out of her back, she finds out just how different she really is. Laurel is a faerie. Now her parents are trying to sell some land that is crucial to the secret world of Avalon. It’s up to Laurel to find out what she needs to do to help keep that world safe from enemy trolls.

I was pleasantly surprised with this unique twist on the almost cliché faery story. Stephanie Meyer of TWILIGHT gives a fab blurb on this book and I can see why. Pike does a great job of showing a world where mythology blends with our world. Laurel’s discovery of who she is and what she has to do is very gripping along with the struggle she has with her feelings toward the mortal David and the faery Tamani. I wanted to know more about this world and can’t wait for the sequel. This tale is sure to appeal to those who like cleaner urban fantasy tales.

Aprilynne Pike currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah. You can find out more at

May 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: C. Lee McKenzie

Opening Lines

I've become more and more interested in how books begin. If a book doesn't capture a reader immediately that book doesn't leave the shelves. Here's what Stein on Writing says about that first paragraph.

"The ideal goals of an opening paragraph are:

1. To excite the reader's curiosity, preferably about a character or a relationship.

2. To introduce a setting.

3. To lend resonance to the story."

Wow! No wonder those opening paragraph take so much time to write. That's a lot to pack into such a small space. But how does a writer do it?

I've been looking at some openings and here's what I see in the ones I like.

The writers give their character(s) personalities that tweak my interest. I want to know who these people are. What they might do or not do? Here are a couple of my favorites.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Catcher in the Rye

"My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog."

Because of Winn Dixie

So different, right, but both hook you by the nose and pull you right into those books. Immediately you have to know what happens to these characters.

Check out C.Lee McKenzie's blog for a chance to win a one chapter critique!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Enchanting Review: Being Nikki

Contemporary Young Adult
352 Pages
Hardcover--Available May 5, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

BEING NIKKI is the highly anticipated sequel to ‘Airhead’ and doesn’t disappoint! Em’s desperate for her crush and former BFF Christopher to realize who she really is, that she’s still alive and trapped in Nikki Howard’s body. But he’s oblivious to everything it seems, except for McK, And as if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, Nikki’s older brother, Steven, arrives unexpectedly at her door, demanding her help in finding their mother. Suddenly Em finds herself struggling to keep her life together while helping Steven, keep her modeling career in line and deal with the fact she has to let go of who she used to be.

I totally enjoyed BEING NIKKI. Em Watts/Nikki Howard is one of my favorite YA characters and she doesn’t disappoint in the sequel to ‘Airhead’. Caught between trying to stay in contact with her family and play the part of Nikki in her new life, she’s forced to find a way to merge the two together, especially Christopher when Steven arrives and demands her help. It turns out her paranoia about Stark Enterprises may not be so far fetched after all when she finds bugs in her ceiling. So just what is going on and how is the disappearance of Nikki’s mother connected to everything?

The mystery element in BEING NIKKI is well done, creating a major jaw dropping moment that leaves readers wondering what will happen in the next book of the series, ‘Runaway’. The only bad thing about the book is its cliffhanger ending that left me demanding the next book in the series ASAP. The characters are just as great as they were in ‘Airhead’, Lulu is as fun as ever, Frida matures a little in this one and the addition of Steven is a great one.

Ms. Cabot is the popular author of many books for young adults, including the Princess Diaries series. Visit her online at her website,

Enchanting Reviews
April 2009