Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Melissa Walker

1. What inspired LOVESTRUCK SUMMER?
A trip to Austin one summer made me want to write a book set there. A romance seemed like the perfect thing, and the city just breathes music, so I had to add that aspect too.
2. Can you describe LOVESTRUCK SUMMER in three words?
Hot Austin Romance.
3. Which character surprised you the most over the course of writing the book?
When it suddenly came to me that Penny's little dog, Miss Tiara, was a male dog who liked to wear girly accessories, I was surprised. But I had to go with it! I loved that dog.
4. What was your favorite scene to write?
All the scenes with Quinn and Russ were fun because they had chemistry. Writing two characters with chemistry is just pure bliss.
5. What do you like most about Quinn? What do you like least about her?
I like that she's willing to expand her mind... eventually. I don't like her quick-to-judge tendencies.
6. If Quinn was going to make you a mix tape, what songs would have to be on there?
Well, after this summer in Austin, I think she'd include "Portland, Oregon" by Jack White & Loretta Lynn, "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis, "Speeding Motorcycle" by Daniel Johnston and, of course, "Africa" by Toto.
7. Do you have a favorite line of dialogue in the book?
Ooh, hard question! I don't think I really do. Is that lame?
8. If you could cast yourself into the book for a scene, which one would you choose?
I'd love to be an extra on the river float scene where Russ and Quinn are getting to know each other as they ease down the Guadalupe River in inner tubes.
9. What's next for you?
I'm working on a new book, but it's all secret for now. Stay tuned!

Interview by Lisa
June 2009

Visit Melissa online @:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Christine Marciniak

Revise the Story, not the Dream

When I was twelve I planned on being the world’s youngest best-selling author. Or maybe just in the nation. (I knew how to be realistic in my goals.)

Didn’t happen.

It’s not that I didn’t write. I wrote all the time. I filled pages and pages with wonderful prose. I simply never got to the end. In most cases it seems a book has to have an ending before it will be published.

There was one story in particular I was working on. It featured a very rich, very wonderful-in-every-way high-school girl named Casey. She had adventures, she had romance. She had it all.

Well, except maybe a cohesive plot and theme. And, you know, an ending.

Ah, but revisions are a wonderful thing. With them it’s possible to take a fragmented story written in high school and turn it into an actual book.

I’ll share a secret with you: the very beginnings of the story that turned into When Mike Kissed Emma can be found in one of my old high school notebooks.

Take for example this paragraph written in high school:

But during this scene, this one scene when everyone was watching, Jim decided to not fake the kiss. He grabbed her around the waist and kissed her in a way that could be described as passionately. To Kate’s horror she found herself caught up in the moment, she was enjoying it, and kissed him back. Suddenly, with a start, she realized what she was doing and pushed him away from her.

And this scene from When Mike Kissed Emma:

And I kissed him back.

I was in his arms. His lips were on mine. The world around us disappeared. There was no one here but me. And Mike. I held him tight. Mike’s mouth was warm and soft on mine. My legs were like rubber. I held him tighter to keep from falling down.

The DJ started playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the spell was broken. I backed up from Mike. What had I done? I’d been kissing Mike! He smiled at me. I just stood there. What had I done?

And it’s more than just the kiss they have in common. There’s the school play they are putting on and the love triangle and the irritating older brother.

It would be tempting to say that the story from high school finally got published. But that would be like saving a few fancy windows from an old house, knocking the house down, building a new house and putting those windows in it and saying it’s the same house. The windows may be the same but the house is very different.

When Mike Kissed Emma is not the same story I wrote in high school, but it’s a descendant of it. Which leads me to my final thought: never underestimate the power of revision.

Oh, and one more thought (this is the last one, I promise): Never give up. I may not be the world’s youngest best-selling author (that ship sailed long ago), but I am an author.

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger here.

Christine Marciniak is the author of When Mike Kissed Emma coming August 19, 2009 from Climbing Roses imprint of The Wild Rose Press.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Enchanting Review: Shine Coconut Moon

YA Contemporary
McElderry Books
ISBN # 978-1-4169-5495-8
253 pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Seventeen-year-old Samar--Sammy doesn’t know much about her Indian heritage. Her mother refuses to have anything to do with her parents or anything that deals with her past, which includes Sammy’s father. But that all changes after 9/11. Some man with a turban shows up on Sammy’s porch, claiming to be her uncle. He wants the family to get back together and to teach Sammy about her Sikh heritage. Sammy doesn’t know what to do. Her mother is against this. Then a girl at school calls Sammy a coconut, brown on the outside and white inside. Sammy wants to know the truth of who she is and more about her Sikh background. Then some guys from school do something to her uncle’s car, while shouting for him to go home. Sammy realizes that things have changed and how scary it can be. It’s up to her to try to reconcile both of her worlds.

This tale really hit a cord for me. My own brother-in-law is Muslim and came over to our country right before 9/11. The stories of being singled out because he shared the same faith of the terrorists are very similar to the experiences that Sammy witnesses happening with her uncle. In this case, her uncle is ridiculed for wearing a turban. Though he’s not Muslim, those in Sammy’s town assume he is based on his appearance. At first hateful words are thrown at her uncle that slowly turns into personal attacks. Meminger does an excellent job of showing the inner turmoil and conflict that goes through Sammy, especially when the same hateful things are directed at her.

The scenes where Sammy confronts her mother about the denial of their culture are very powerful. Through this all Sammy starts asking some serious questions. Who exactly is American? When do you need to stand up to injustices? These are some tough questions and ones that I know will resonate with other teens, especially those who find themselves in Sammy’s situation. Meminger does a great job of showing that ignorance is dangerous. This is an important tale for teens that are struggling with their identity amidst prejudice in troubling times. It’s also a tale about the importance of family and being true to yourself.

This is Neesha Meminger’s first novel. Find out more at her website: neeshameminger.com

May 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Enchanting Review: Prada and Prejudice

YA fantasy
ISBN # 978-1-59514-260-3
215 pages
Paperback trade—Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Fifteen-year-old Callie is on a school trip to London but instead of being excited, she’s stuck in her room while the other more popular girls plan on going clubbing. Callie then decides to buy an expensive pair of real Prada pumps, thinking this will impress the girls so they will invite her to come along. Instead she falls, bumps her head and finds herself in the year 1815. She stumbles along when she finds a huge house where Emily welcomes her in thinking she’s her American friend Rebecca. Callie, afraid of being left alone, plays along. Along the way she meets Emily’s cousin, the dashing Duke of Harksbury. Sparks erupt. Then Emily confides in an arranged marriage she doesn’t want. Callie wants to help. But time is ticking down until the ‘real’ Rebecca will show up. Will Callie be able to help her new found friend? And will she prove that she’s more than the clumsy geek-girl from the twenty-first century?

This is a fun romantic tale sure to appeal to Jane Austen fans. Callie’s adventure into the world of 1815 London was fascinating with everything from huge estates, tight corsets, and hot English dukes. Hubbard creates a believable and likeable character in Callie. I could relate with her feeling out of place with her snobby London roommates. Callie’s antics are heartfelt and hilarious such as trying to eavesdrop behind a huge plant in a restaurant to getting enough nerve to see if the others will let her go clubbing with them. Readers will want to follow Callie and see what adventures she’ll stumble on in the past.
This story reminded me of a teen LOST IN AUSTEN.

The tension between Duke of Harksbury and this modern day Jane Austen was fun to follow. I especially liked how Hubbard got Callie into the past with a pair of expensive Prada pumps. The only thing I did wonder was what the consequences would be for Callie when she went back in time. But since this is a light romantic fantasy, I forgot that and sat back to enjoy this romp through prim and proper London with a modern day heroine. Who wouldn’t love to have a magical pair of shoes take you back in time?

Mandy Hubbard lives in Tacoma, Washington. Find out more at www.mandyhubbard.com

May 09

Enchanting Review: Lovestruck Summer

Contemporary Young Adult
266 Pages
Paperback--Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

A perfect summer read! LOVESTRUCK SUMMER features Priscilla aka ‘Quinn’ but don’t call her Priscilla! Quinn has big plans for the summer, interning at the Amalgam records, and finding the supreme boyfriend, an indie loving guy with the perfect hair and some funky glasses and she‘s sure she‘s going to meet him in music loving Austin. But things aren’t quite what she expected in Austin, something she finds out right away when her study-conscious cousin Penny picks her up at the airport, resembling something more out of a sorority guidebook then the cousin she remembers. What quickly follows is one of the funniest romantic comedies I’ve read in a long time!

Ms. Walker has a knack for creating memorable characters and LOVESTRUCK SUMMER continues that trend. I liked Quinn immediately, especially her attitude and the fact that her life seems to revolve around music. She practically lives in headphones, using the music to drown things out. Her cousin Penny, fellow intern Jade and neighbor Chrissy round out the cast of characters, as does Miss Tiara, Penny’s cross dressing dog, one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read! And don’t forget the two complete opposite guys she finds herself attracted to, skinny indie DJ Sebastian and country loving jock and frat boy, Russ. One minute Quinn wants to never lay eyes on the frat boy again and the next, she can’t wait to listen to the mix tape he makes her. The summer in Austin moves fast, and Quinn finds herself deeper into the Austin way of life, her preconceived notions about pretty well everything falling away--or so it seems, until she gets called on it by someone unexpected. Has Quinn changed at all or is she merely the same girl who stepped off the plane, the one who wanted to have the perfect summer romance?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite scene to highlight in the review, because I enjoyed them all—especially the ones between Russ and Quinn. But I’d have to say one of my favorites is when Russ takes Quinn for a trip down the river. The chemistry between the two characters is great, the dialogue hilarious and the scene is so well done you feel like you’re tagging along with them.

LOVESTRUCK SUMMER is a fun young adult romance that will have you lose track of time as you lose yourself in Quinn’s summer and hope she ends up with the right boy.

Visit Melissa’s blog at http://www.melissacwalker.com/blog/ and follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/melissacwalker

Enchanting Reviews
June 2009

Enchanting Review: L.A. Candy

Contemporary YA
336 Pages
Hardcover--Onsale June 16, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Jane Roberts has just moved to Los Angeles with her best friend, Scarlett, in hopes of stepping out of her comfort zone. She just didn’t expect to step this far out of her comfort zone and become the star of what is the soon-to-be the popular reality T.V. show L.A. CANDY. Between her internship with event planner Fiona Chen, her friendship with Scarlett and her somewhat dubious relationship with new friend/crush Braeden, things in L.A. won’t stay sweet for long.

Scarlett Harp moved to L.A. with her lifelong best friend to attend U.S.C. and enjoy life in the city. But there’s a lot of adjustments to make, like getting used to their small and dingy apartment that Jane simply calls ‘charming’. When the two girls go to Les Deux and end up meeting famed TV producer Trevor Lord, they couldn’t imagine the turn their lives are suddenly about to take. A turn that frankly Scarlett finds herself regretting.

I really enjoyed L.A. CANDY. Jane’s a likeable character, fighting to navigate life in Los Angeles when suddenly her entire life is changed again before she can get a true handle on things as they were when she becomes the star of a reality show. It seems in an instant, everything changes again—their apartment for one. Gone is their small, cramped apartment and they find themselves in pure luxury. Her cold and slightly scary boss even undergoes a transformation when the cameras are around and Jane finds herself suddenly attracted to someone she never thought possible. Can she really like two guys at the same time?

Hands down my favorite scene is Jane’s first date in Los Angeles with Paolo, the cute guy she met at work when he accidentally walked into her office. If that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, not only is it her first date with him, but it’s also her first date with an entire camera crew around.

Ms. Conrad pens a highly entertaining debut with L.A. CANDY, creating a world that takes the reader behind the scenes of reality T.V. and some of L.A.’s hottest nightspots to show that things aren’t quite what they seem on T.V., especially for two girls who aren’t fully prepared to deal with sudden fame. Equally memorable is the ‘villain’ of the show, Madison, who’s totally willing to do whatever it takes to take what she believes is rightfully hers—being the star of the show. She’s truly a devious character, without question and what she’s willing to do to get Jane out of the picture is definitely shocking. Jane and Scarlett are two memorable characters and with the major cliffhanger ending, I can’t wait to see what Ms. Conrad has in store for Jane in the next book.

Ending with a major jaw dropper of a cliffhanger, readers will no doubt be demanding to know what happens next to this group of entertaining characters. Anyone who loves books about life in Hollywood will no doubt enjoy this debut read by Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad is the star of MTV's number-one hit show, The Hills. She launched her career as a fashion designer in Spring 2008 with the debut of the Lauren Conrad Collection. Lauren has been featured on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. She lives in Los Angeles. This is her first novel. Her website is http://www.laurenconrad.com/

Enchanting Reviews
June 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Enchanting Review: Twenty Boy Summer

Young Adult Romance
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN# 978-0-316-05159-0
304 pages
Hardcover - Available Now
Rating: 5 Enchantments
Matt Perino, best male friend turned boyfriend, or something like it. Sister to Frankie Perino, Anna’s best friend since time existed. The three of them grew up together, Matt acting as big brother to both girls until one evening when everything changes. A kiss transforms Matt’s relationship with Anna and starts a relationship that pulls their two souls together. He’s the perfect big brother and wants his sister to hear the news from him. He plans on telling her during their annual summer vacation getaway, but he never gets the opportunity. Instead, he dies.
Anna, our heroine and the voice of the story is an intelligent and well-behaved daughter. Devastated by Matt’s death, she keeps her promise to him and hides their secret relationship from Frankie, even after he’s gone. Anna is Frankie’s protector, always looking out for her and ensuring that she goes on, even when Anna herself is dying inside.
TWENTY BOY SUMMER is the story of life after Matt’s death. Two summers after the tragic loss, the Perino’s decide to continue their vacation tradition, hoping that it will bring some normalcy back to their lives. Frankie brings Anna along and together the girls attempt to plan the best summer ever. Completely boy crazy after Matt’s death, Frankie devises a scheme whereby the two girls will attempt to meet twenty boys by the end of the summer. Hopefully, by the time they go home, at least one of them will have found a true summer romance. Sunny beaches, thrilling adventures and boys aplenty color their vacation. But when emotions run high and memories are stirred, will it all prove to be too much for Matt’s survivors?
I really loved this story. Sarah Ockler did an amazing job of illustrating what it means to live, to die and to survive. TWENTY BOY SUMMER had beautiful prose and an undercurrent of hope that we, as the readers, couldn’t help but feel. I felt that her descriptions were so lovely and so realistic that it was almost like she picked us up and tossed us on the sands of the beach at Zanzibar Bay. We can really feel the sun on our face, the sand beneath our toes, and most importantly, the raw emotion that fills the pages.
There were points in the book where I couldn’t help but to wonder if this story was a little too deep and dark for young adults. I quickly realized that whether it was dark or not, the story was real. Anna and Frankie display real emotion as they grieve in their own separate ways. Ockler shows us that despite the darkness, despite the despair at losing a loved one, life really can go on. This, above all, made me an absolute fan of this story. I loved the romance, both remembered and new, and the realism that Ockler gives it. With writing as colorful as the various shades of sea glass, Ockler created a true winner.
TWENTY BOY SUMMER is the debut novel for author Sarah Ockler. She can be found online at http://sarahockler.com where links to her Facebook, Myspace and Twitter pages can be located.
June 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Enchanting Review: The Other Half of Life

Historical YA
ISBN# 978-0-375-85219-0
234 Pages
Hardcover--Available May 12, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE is based on the true story of a World War II voyage. Its May 1939 and the SS St. Francis is setting sail for Cuba and eventually the U.S. filled with Jewish refugees desperate for a new life in a new land. However, none of them could be prepared for the events that are about to take place that will change everyone’s lives forever.

Fifteen year old Thomas is traveling alone. His Jewish father has been imprisoned and his Christian mother has scraped together enough money for his passage. Alone and frightened, he finds himself befriended by a family on an upper deck and slowly a relationship begins to form between Thomas and fourteen year old Priska. Its obvious as you read the story that the author did a great job of researching the events on the SS St.

Francis as its very detailed oriented and the reader can fully picture what life must have been like for those on board. Thomas is a very sympathetic character, as is the family he becomes close to onboard. One of my favorite scenes takes place fairly early in the book when Thomas is invited to dine up in first class with Professor Affeldt and his family. All ready ill at ease, Thomas poses as a ‘cousin’ in order to join the family and is forced to deal with overhearing the waiter’s remarks about the passengers, witness the attention paid to the pretty Priska by the same waiter and share his story with the family that will soon become his friends. A very engrossing read, readers looking for a great historical read based on a real life event should definitely pick up THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE.

Kim Ablon Whitney has published two previous novels with Knopf. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To learn more about THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE, including an excerpt, visit the author’s website at http://www.kimablonwhitney.com/books/ohol.html

Enchanting Reviews
May 2009

Enchanting Interview: Susan McBride

Interview with SUSAN McBRIDE, author of LOVE, LIES AND TEXAS DIPS

1. What do you like best about writing a series?

Probably being so familiar with the characters and getting to know them better with each book. It's like meeting friends and spending time with them, finding out more quirks and secrets. I also like building on the relationships and developing the drama and tension. Seems like you can never have enough drama these days!

2. Can you describe 'Love, Lies and Texas Dips' in three words?

Juicy, complicated, unexpected.

3. Who is your favorite character to write?

I love writing about all of them, because each girl is unique with her own quirks and issues. I love that Ginger is embracing her artistic side and is so passionate about the environment. She's from a long line of matriarchal Southern women, but she isn't about to tow anyone's party line. Mac has a soft spot in my heart because she lost her mother during high school, probably one of the times a girl needs her mom most. She tries to be so independent and strong, but she's going to have to learn to reach out and let others help her. Jo Lynn is another story entirely! There's something about developing a character who's outwardly so evil and trying to explore what makes her tick. She's more complex than she seems. Laura is a lot of fun, too. She's so uninhibited and willing to go for it (in terms of emotions and relationships). I think it takes a lot of guts to be so unguarded and risk making so many mistakes. I'm a lot more cautious in my life, so I actually admire that about her.

4. How much fun is it to write a character like Jo-Lynn?

It's a blast. Although it's kind of hard making her come off as three-dimensional when she's so intent on destroying Laura. Her perfectly ordered world definitely takes a hit in GLOVES OFF, the third in the series. In fact, a lot of secrets will unfold in that book.

5. Did any of the characters surprise you while you were writing 'Love, Lies and Texas Dips'?

Probably the boys more than the girls. I started out picturing Dillon, the quarterback and Jo Lynn's boyfriend, as this golden boy who has an easy life. Then I realized that's not who he is at all. He's got so many things inside him that don't fit the mold, and he's having a hard time pretending to be perfect when he's not. He's kind of a quietly ticking time bomb. Also, Avery has more to him than it appears. Believe it or not, he truly cares for Laura, but he's connected to Jo Lynn in a way that no one understands. It's a tricky issue for him, because he feels guilty and indebted to Jo and she uses that. I actually thought maybe someday I'd write a book from the guys' point of view, but I'm not sure that's ever going to happen!

6. What was your favorite scene in the book?

The scene with Mac and Alex in his childhood tree-house when she realizes that their friendship has changed, and it's never going to be the same again. I truly felt her pain!

7. You start off each chapter with a quote, one from a celebrity and one from one of the characters. How do pick which quotes to use?

I have loads of books with great quotes, like WOMEN'S WICKED WIT, WITTY WORDS FROM WISE WOMEN, and SECRET LIVES OF GREAT AUTHORS. I try to hunt down real quotes that relate somehow to what's in that particular chapter. Then I kind of loosely interpret that quote from the mind-set of whichever character's narrating the chapter. For the first chapter of LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS, I have a Mae West quote: "Don't let a man put anything over you but an umbrella." Right after that is Jo Lynn's version: "No one jerks me around and gets away with it." It's very fun working those out! Sometimes I change them as I go along until I feel like they really fit.
8. What would readers be surprised to know about you?

Hmm, that I love vegetables now but hated them for most of my life; that I married a computer software engineer who doesn't read much fiction except for my books; and that I'm a big-time animal lover and envision someday having a house with a barn that Ed and I can convert to a comfy spot for keeping lots of rescued fur-kids!
9. What can we look forward to in the next book?

I'm just about to correct the page proofs of GLOVES OFF now, which will really refresh my brain about that one. It's kind of weird to be writing a completely different kind of novel (THE COUGAR CLUB) between LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS coming out and going through all kinds of drafts of GLOVES OFF. Let's see, Mac tries to forget Alex and see other guys, Ginger falls harder for Kent only to find out a deeper and darker secret from his past, Laura might very well have found the key to toppling Jo Lynn, and, well, Jo Lynn realizes she can't control everyone forever. Fun, fun, fun! ;-)

Interview By Lisa
June 2009

Enchanting Review: Love, Lies and Texas Dips

Contemporary YA
Delacorte Press
ISBN# 978-0-385-73520-9
304 Pages
Trade--Available June 9, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

LOVE, LIES AND TEXAS DIPS is the perfect sequel to ‘The Debs’.

Jo-Lynn is both as plotting, manipulative and as calculating and bitchy as always. Laura is still her main target, and she can’t figure out how anyone would want to pick Laura over her, especially anyone male. The only thing that’ll make her life perfect is casting Laura out of The Debs and if her loser friends go right out the door with her. Fortunately for Laura, she isn’t the intimated easily type, and neither are Mac and Ginger, her two best friends. In fact, they all hate Jo-Lynn just about as much as she hates them and they aren’t about to let her get rid of them at all.

I think Jo-Lynn is the ultimate--perhaps perfect, YA villain. Seriously. Calculating, manipulative and scheming to a T, she’ll stop at absolutely nothing to get what she wants most--to get rid of Laura. Including sending sweets Laura’s way to sabotage the Deb and spreading some particular heinous gossip about her.

What I really enjoyed in LOVE, LIES AND TEXAS DIPS, is the storyline revolving around Ginger and the portrait her grandmother wants painted of her. Some of my favorite scenes in the book from here, including when Ginger meets Kent for the first time, the grandson of the artist who painted her grandmother’s portrait and the one who is going to paint hers.

‘The Debs’ series has quickly become one of my favorite YA series and LOVE, LIES AND TEXAS DIPS just shows why. Great characters, great story and a great voice combine to make this a totally entertaining read. With an ending guaranteed to leave readers demanding the next in the series asap, LOVE, LIES AND TEXAS DIPS is a great second book in the series.

Susan McBride is the author of The Debutante Drop-out adult mystery series. She grew up in the heart of Texan Deb country, but now lives with her husband in Missouri. Visit her online at www.susanmcbride.com

Enchanting Reviews
February 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Enchanting Review: Tempo Change

Contemporary YA
Delacorte Books
ISBN# 978-0385736077
256 Pages
Hardcover--Available June 9, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

When Blanche Kelly is forced to join the choir by her high school guidance counselor to fill in the gaps on her college resume, she could never imagine it would lead to a chance to reconnect to her father, a famous indie rock icon who she hasn’t seen in years. But the moment she hears Viv open her voice in class, the idea for ‘The Fringers’ is born. All she needs is a few more girls and the band will be complete--well, once she convinces them of the idea anyway.

I really enjoyed TEMPO CHANGE. Blanche’s relationship with her father is pretty well non-existant, consisting mainly of sporatic e-mails that she neglects to tell her mom about. So when she gets the idea to form a band, it’s not only to make her college application look better or win the school talent show, never mind getting a chance to play at the famous Coachella--it might be one way to get her relationship back with her father. I have to say really liked Blanche, I thought she was a fun character and I liked how she actually grew up in her way of thinking over the course of the book, especially with how she thought her mother was ‘settling’ for her new boyfriend, like how could she be happy with a guy who sold guitars when she’d been married to Blanche’s father, a music star? I have to say I liked all the characters in the book, one of my favorites being Viv, the girl who could sing but unlike her parents, wasn’t a brainiac, instead was an athlete.

The subplot later in the story involving Viv seems to come out of nowhere, which was one thing that I found to slightly detract from the story, but it does shake things up and lead the inevitable conclusion of the story. One of my favorite scenes is how Blanche convinces the girls to be in ‘The Fringers’. I don’t want to spoil it, but its pretty unique way that the other three girls can’t really say no to, once its been announced.

If you’re a fan of music-centered YA Fiction, you should definitely pick up TEMPO CHANGE.

Barbara Hall is the author of eight novels and has written and produced numerous television shows, including Joan of Arcadia. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with her daughter

Enchanting Reviews
June 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

YA Humor
Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN# 1-4169-5889-4
320 pages
HARDCOVER—Available June 2, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Gothling, Annie in RL (real life), is suffering because she lost her boyfriend to her best friend. Or her newly former best friend.
Big J is a fickle guy who moves from relationship to relationship. He does have skills with computers, the internet and writes poetry.

Gothling decides that all boys are alike and she wants to share her cruelly won knowledge with her two friends Ms. T and bliss4u. She tries to convince both Ms. T and bliss4u that their boyfriends would easily cheat on them too and makes a bet with them that if they were to pretend to go away for a while and then create new internet identities the boys would soon forget about their promises and fall for their new masks. Gothling asks for Big J’s help in setting up a chat room and drawing BoBoy and chessman into the trap.

I really enjoyed this book because it was funny and reminded me of the Shakespeare comedys. The unique format was what allowed me to believe that two girls could fool their boyfriends best friend about who they are. The dialogue was great and I enjoyed the malapropisms. It did take me a while to get used to the chat and IM format. The author very skillfully inserted description in the chat dialogue. The characters feel real but it is important to remember that the person behind the internet ID could be any age, any gender and from anywhere, and M. Spooner reminds the reader of that a few times. Gothling remains true to her character to the end with her pessimism and biting sense of humor. She does grow also but I won’t spoil the ending for you. The cover is very attractive and I had to fight off my daughter and several of the teens at our teen center because they wanted a look at the book. My favorite part is when Big J changes his id to Alfonso and starts falling for Gothling. She thinks he is kidding at first then starts to get interested and asks him why he never wrote a poem for her. At one point she asks him if he thinks she is a potted plant. It is funny because at the same time as she is trying to get him to write her a poem, she is still suspicious about why he is being ‘nice’ to bliss4u and Ms. T. She asks if she should come by and pound some sense into him. When she finds out that BoBoy and chessman blackmailed him into being nice by threatening to quit the chatroom she says that is totally out of line. This seems a little hypocritical since she essentially tricked the girls into their part of the chatroom but she doesn’t see the irony.

The author, M. Spooner IMs from Logan, Utah and can be reached at www.mspooner.net

Kathy Johnson
June 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Enchanting Review: Twilight

Paranormal YA/Romantic Suspense
Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown & CO
ISBN# 978-0-316-05284-4
498 pgs
Paperback--Available Now
Rating: 5 Enchantments
Edward Cullen has a secret to hide and his “family history” has him thinking of himself as the villain, the bad guy. He finds a new challenge to prove the stereotype correct, the day that Bella Swan arrives on her first day of school. Her scent is so overwhelmingly enticing he struggles to control his thirst for her blood. Yet, the harder he tries to stay away, the more he can’t. Now Edward has given himself the challenge to save her life from her clumsy self and then even from his own kind.
Bella Swan knows right off something is different about Edward Cullen. When all her comic book hero theories are laughed at and thrown out the window, there’s only one solution left to his mystery; the scary story legends from the Quileute’s tribe. The local Indian reservation is home to Jacob Black who befriends Bella, and spins tales of THE COLD ONES and WOLF MEN; vampires and werewolves. As the pieces fall together, Bella finds life in little Forks Washington is not what she thought it would ever be … dangerous.
After years of never wanting to see Forks Washington again, Bella Swan finds herself living with her father while her mother travels with her new-step father for employment in minor league baseball. During the last semester of her JR year, Bella soon finds out that Forks is not the dreary, boring small town she remembered it. The same cold, wet, cloudy weather hasn’t changed. Hardly a full day of warm sunlight. However, the scenery has definitely changed; the Cullen family. Edward shows mixed emotions about being around her. At first he acts as if she has not showered in a week, then he saves her life from her own clumsiness, others bad driving on slick ice in the school parking lot, and even when she gets sick at the scent of blood in Biology during a blood-typing experiment. As he comes and goes around the school, trying to stay away from her, and yet being there when something goes wrong, Bella finds an attraction to the mystery around him. The closer she gets, the more her life is in danger. What she never counted on was falling in love with someone who died almost a hundred years ago.

TWILIGHT is a fabulous web intricated together to capture the reader from chapter one. Being in first person, you get to live through Bella’s emotions, her senses, and her decisions. Sometimes you find yourself trying to be her conscious and try to will the story to go a different way, but it all works out in the end with a great big sigh of relief. This is a great way to start a wonderful love story series. It defeats all odds between differences of worlds; including between life and death. Edward Cullen is a true gentleman who keeps in control of himself and brings forth the hero most young girls look for in their own lives. Bella is a self-conscious teen girl who has the adventure of the lifetime. Though her very existence is in danger every minute she stays in Edward’s world, she shows that no sacrifice is too great when it’s for love.
Stephenie Meyer grabs hold of you and doesn’t let you go once you step into the world she creates. Find out more at her website http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/
Barb Soden
May 2009

Enchanting Interview: Alyson Noel

Best part of writing Y.A.

The readers, no doubt! I didn’t intentionally start writing YA, I just had a burning story I wanted to tell that ultimately became my debut novel, FAKING 19. I didn’t even think about genre until my then agent was preparing it for sale! But I absolutely love writing for and about teens—the correspondence they send me never fails to make my day!

What's your writing schedule like:

I write every day, spending the first part of the day sipping green tea, answering e-mails, blog hoping and basically procrastinating until I finally get to it. Usually re-reading whatever I wrote the day before and doing a little light editing before delving into the new stuff and going from there. Then sometime around seven or eight, I answer more e-mails before joining my husband for dinner and TV. This is pretty much my schedule 7 days a week. I don’t get out much!

What's your writing process like?

I start with the premise, build the cast, determine the character arc, craft a generalized outline, make a playlist (this can take all day if you know how to procrastinate!), then I finally get to it, researching and editing as I go.

Do you have any writing rituals?

When I’m writing at home, I always light a vanilla scented candle before I begin and then blow it out once I’m finished. It feels kind of ceremonial!

I love your story! How did you come up with the premise?

Well, the premise was actually born out of grief. A few years ago I’d lost three people I loved in five months, and shortly after that I nearly lost my husband to leukemia (he’s in full remission now!), and it felt like my entire world was crashing down. Experiencing that sort of intense grief and fear got me thinking a lot about life and death, mortality and immortality, what separates us, if anything, from those who are gone, and how our youth loving culture sort of seeks physical immortality by trying to remain youthful looking for as long as we can—and yet, what would happen if we really could live forever? What would it mean for us, our loved ones, society in general? And since I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid, Ever and Damen’s story seemed like the perfect vehicle to explore all those themes.

Which character is most like you or most unlike you?

I can really identify with Ever’s feeling of not belonging because that’s exactly how I felt as a teen—like I never quite fit. Though a lot of Riley’s jokiness also comes from me!

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

Sabine, because she’s a responsible adult!

Do you have any sequels planned?

Yes! There will be five books in the series, the second, BLUE MOON, will be in stores on July 7th, and I’m currently finishing up the third, SHADOWLAND, which will be out early 2010.

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

Well, the dramatic rights were recently sold to Spring Creek Productions and Warner Horizon who want to make it into a TV series . . . but speaking purely hypothetical here—Ben Barnes would make one very dreamy Damen!!

What's next for you?

Books four and five in the IMMORTALS series! After that, we’ll see . . .

Interview by Kim
March 2009

Enchanting Review: Evermore

YA paranormal
St. Martin Griffin
ISBN # 978-0-312-53275-8
306 pages
Paperback available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom hates her life. After a tragic accident, that claims the lives of her family, Ever lives with guilt, blaming herself for their deaths. Now she lives with her aunt in California. Though Ever didn’t die, something changed within her. She now has the ability to see people’s auras and hear their thoughts just by touching them. She hates this and tries to avoid any human contact. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, a new boy shows up. Damen Auguste is gorgeous and wealthy and Ever can’t read his aura. Not only that but Damen makes her feel emotions she wants to forget. Should she succumb to his charms or continue to live in denial? And can she accept what she truly is?

I enjoyed this tale of Ever as she struggles with the conflicts of surviving an accident and the strange ‘gift’ she received. When I first started reading this story, I thought it would be yet one more paranormal tale. Boy was I wrong! Noel creates characters that are realistic and believable. I couldn’t help but wonder what Ever would do when Damen showed up. Just when I thought I knew what would happen next, another twist showed up. I couldn’t put this book down! For sure Ever’s story will appeal to those who love books on the paranormal.

Alyson Noel lives in Laguna Beach, California and is working on her next book. The sequel BLUE MOON is scheduled for release August 2009. Find out more about Alyson on her website www.alysonnoel.com

Feb. 2008

Enchanting Review: Nation

Young Adult Action/Adventure
ISBN# 0061433012
367 pages
Hardcover-Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Mau is a young man with an indestructible spirit. He’s full of questions, something that isn’t highly encouraged. When his world is turned upside down and then thoroughly erased, he must find the strength to go on. Neither a boy nor a man, Mau becomes a new sort of person. With the help of his memories, Mau forges a new path and rebuilds The Nation.

No hero can do it alone! Wherever there is a strong young man ready to battle demons and life itself, there must be an equally strong young woman. Daphne is about as strong as they come. Marooned on Mau’s island after her ship crashes in a storm, Daphne is left with nobody for company save the strange boy who always seems to walk around the island as if in a dream. Daphne is an intelligent young lady and full of personality. The spark between the two as they attempt to communicate through language barriers and rebuild their worlds together is absolutely amazing.

NATION is the story of a world in disaster. A plague has ripped through the “civilized” world while a giant tidal wave takes out many small islands. One of these is Mau’s. When he returns home from a coming of age visit to the Boy’s Island, he finds that everything he knows is gone – completely erased. His friends, his family, the entire Nation was swept out to sea. Not having had the special ceremony that turns a boy into a man, he is now no longer boy, nor man. When he meets Daphne, he must struggle to communicate with her and go on with life even though he questions everything he knows. As they rebuild the community they are met with survivors coming from other islands every day. With their help, Mau and Daphne might just be able to put the Nation and Mau’s soul at peace.

Contrary to popular belief, NATION is not set in any part of what we know as Earth. Terry Pratchett wrote this book as an alternate reality world, so many bets are off when it comes down to rules and the laws of nature. I absolutely loved that about this book. His world has a high sense of realism to it. This story could happen anywhere and yet, at the same time, we are met with instances where the impossible happens. There are rarely moments when you’re thrown into what is definitely from the imagination. Instead, these magical moments are thrown throughout the book, creating a realistically impossible world.

Outside of the wonderful world building that Pratchett did, I found that the relationship between Mau and Daphne was my second favorite aspect of the book. There are many obstacles to their friendship including the color of their skin, their customs, language, etc. Whatever could be different about these two is, save for their enduring personalities and strong wills. I loved this because it was a nice conflict that added that extra tension to the story. Don’t get me wrong, there’s already plenty of delicious tension sprinkled throughout these pages. No, this added tension between the characters. Something that kept us reading, pulled to the characters just as they were pulled to each other.

I thought NATION was absolutely fantastic and surprisingly very funny! There were times when my eyes ran ahead of my brain and I got a little confused, so I suggest taking your time with the book. Pratchett has created a complicated world, but one that is completely filled with color and beauty. Feel free to reread passages or entire pages if you need to. Trust me, it’s completely worth it. This is definitely one of the books that I would pick up and reread over and over again.
The award-winning author, Terry Pratchett, can be found at http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/. I highly suggest you visit his website and take a peek around. He’s hilariously funny.
May 2009

Enchanting Review: The White Darkness

Young Adult Action & Adventure
ISBN# 0060890355
384 pages
Paperback--Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Titus Oakes is a long dead adventurer, having met his maker on a doomed trip to the South Pole. He’s funny, witty, charming and lives entirely in Symone’s head. Even though he is 125-years-old, he loves Symone and cares for her at times like a big brother and other times like a romantic gentleman.

Our heroine of THE WHITE DARKNESS, Symone, is a shy fourteen-year-old girl. She doesn’t like to give speeches and hates to be pestered about her nonexistent love life. In her world, boys are immature and she has no interest in spending any quality time with them. She has Titus; what more could a girl ask for? Why waste time dating younger boys when she has her mature and charming adventurer at her beck and call?

THE WHITE DARKNESS is a story of friendship, adventure, betrayal and survival. Symone is a strong girl, bound and determined follow her Uncle Victor to the ends of the Earth and back. Uncle Victor, an interesting and then suspicious fellow, feeds her sense of adventure as he pulls her down in a mystery so dangerous that they will be lucky to make it out alive. Meanwhile, Titus plays the part of Sym’s true friend and confidant, frequently making appearances and helping Sym along the way as they unravel the secrets of The Ice. Two other players, Manfred and Sigurd, show up as father and son, chosen by Uncle Victor to help lead them on this treacherous journey. This new pair brings with them a whole new mystery; one that Symone has to unravel before time runs out.

THE WHITE DARKNESS was a great read. It had a fantastic storyline and was full of sharp twists and turns. The complexity of the characters was just amazing. Geraldine McCaughrean does an amazing job of developing her characters. Symone’s mother is really the only character that we didn’t get to know very well and she was only present in a handful of pages. McCaughrean lends real-life traits to her characters, making them both legendary and believable. Symone is easy to relate to with her quite nature and yet still has her own quirks that make her unique. Where I got stuck in THE WHITE DARKNESS was in the flow of the writing. McCaughrean has a habit of creating short sentences or sentence fragments and this slowed me down while reading the story. Don’t get me wrong; it was still great, just difficult to read. The discussion between Sym and Oakes as well as Sym and everyone else was differentiated by italicized text, but it was still difficult at times to figure out which parts Sym was imagining and which parts were really occurring. Perhaps this is all part of the story, I’m not sure. Either way, it was a great book, but one that requires quite a bit of concentration and rereading.

Geraldine McCaughrean is an award-winning author with over one hundred and forty books under her belt. She can be found at http://www.geraldinemccaughrean.co.uk.

May 2009

Enchanting Review: Unwind

Young Adult Science Fiction
Simon and Schuster
ISBN# 1416912053
352 pages
Paperback - Available June 2, 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

UNWIND is a thrilling tale, following the stories of three teens set to be unwound. The first, and oldest, is Connor Lassiter. He’s a good kid, a caring kid, but he has a temper that just explodes more often than anyone really cares for. When his parents decide that his constant fighting is just too much of a hassle for them, they make a decision and sign his unwind order. Everyone knows that once signed, the order is irreversible, so Connor’s only option is to attempt escape.

Risa is a StaHo ward – an unwanted child given to the state to raise. Wards are a hassle to the state; they suck down funding and resources. Every ward has to prove their worth. If not, they are more valuable to the state unwound than they are whole. It has been decided that despite her best efforts, Risa just isn’t talented enough to continue as a ward of the state. When she discovers that she has a date to be unwound, she makes a break for it, running into the wilderness.

Our third teen, Lev, has a story that will stick with me for years to come. He is a Tithe, a child conceived to lead a spiritual life continuing through the day he is unwound. While others beg, plead and run from their unwinding appointments, Lev looks forward to this. He has been raised to believe that his unwinding will be a glorious event where he will transition into a new state, capable of helping many people across the world. When something goes horribly wrong and Lev is forced to see the reality for other kids running from being unwinds, Lev gets a shock to the system that just might save his life.

Imagine a world where Pro-Life and Pro-Choice didn’t exist. In this world, everyone is happy because they have come to a mutual agreement regarding life. Well, everyone is happy except for the teenagers of course. In the world that Neal Shusterman has created, a great battle was fought over the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice issue. In the end, the Bill of Life was signed that protects life from the moment of conception up to the age of thirteen. At that point, between the ages of thirteen to eighteen, parents may choose to unwind their children for any reason. Unwinding is the process of removing every limb and organ while transplanting these into other individuals that need them. Have a broken arm? Get an Unwind replacement. Technically, 100% of the person is kept alive, so life doesn’t technically end.

UNWIND was chilling; absolutely and utterly chilling. I couldn’t put the book down, yet there were many times that I didn’t want to go on. Shusterman spun such a realistic and thought provoking tale that the question of “what if” kept playing through my head. That being said, I did finish the book and I absolutely love it. This is not the sort of book that I would cuddle up with in front of the fire. Rather, this is the type of book I would pull out anytime I wanted to exercise my mind, let the thoughts break free and roam of their own accord. I personally have not read a darker and more powerful tale than this. I would recommend it to everyone, but would warn that there is a message behind the book. Shusterman shows us what the world could turn into and does it in a gloriously gripping way.

If you get squeamish easily, normally I would say that this book is not for you; however, because this is such a great book, I would recommend it anyway. There are a few scenes that I still can not get out of my head. I wasn’t even there. I read a few black words on a grey page and yet they will haunt me for a while. The scenes in question are not graphic to say the least. If one examined the words, I’d say that they would probably be rated PG. Put them all together and allow Shusterman to take control of your imagine and the world will turn just a little bit darker.

UNWIND was intense; it was powerful. It is the kind of book that holds a revered spot on your shelf and the kind of book that you want to hide in a drawer somewhere so you don’t have to see it. Between the covers was such a complex and twisted series of emotions that the reader is left wondering about their own thoughts. It takes a certain kind of author to create a story that digs down to the core of a person and takes root there. Shusterman is that author and Unwind is that story.

Neal Shusterman is the author of other great Young Adult books like Everlost, Everwild and Downsiders. He can be found online at http://www.storyman.com.
May 2009