Sunday, August 30, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Jeannine Garsee

What do you like best about being a writer?

Power. It may sound silly, but being a writer gives me ultimate control over people and situations of which I’m the sole creator. I decide what they do, what they say, what they eat and wear, and, ultimately, I decide their fate. The best thing is that I can change my mind any time.

I also live the solitude of writing. When I’m working on something, I love spending hours of uninterrupted time. It’s a huge contrast to my “real” life.

Why Young Adult?

Because I write the kind of stories I wish were around when I was a teen. It wasn’t until the late seventies or so that the edgier topics began to appear in YA literature. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the books I read in the sixties and early seventies, but I love the raw emotion and absolute reality to find in the YA sections of today. YA for the most part is fast and in-your-face, and without all the (often) unnecessary narrative you often find in adult literature. I’ll read an adult book today and, with few exceptions, I’ll think: Do I seriously care about this? Get on with the story already!

What's your writing process like?

First of all, I don’t outline (though I sometimes regret it)—I first do a rough draft from beginning to end, and then revise and re-revise until I’m satisfied with the results. I don’t do character sketches because I think they’re a waste of time; anything I need to know about the characters, I’ll find it out as I’m writing the story. I think some writers spend so much time on perfect outlines and synopses and multiple, lengthy character sketches that “this” becomes their actual writing; they obsess over it. I prefer to get the story down first and then go back and refine the details. I also have crit partners who will read one of my later drafts (I never allow anyone to see a rough draft) and I’ll send my agent a few pages as well.

I totally loved your book especially with all the recent news on gay marriages. What inspired you to write this story?

It was a story I’d thought about for quite a while. Originally I’d planned to write about a girl with a gay best friend (female) and the problems this posed. Then in 2006, when a lot of attention was first drawn to the gay marriage issue, I was inspired to turned my idea for a new story into something quite different.

How did you come up with the title?

In the second chapter of the book, a younger Shawna, comparing her elegant, beautiful mother to her mother’s less than feminine partner, says with extreme embarrassment, “You don’t look like Fran…so maybe you’re not really, you know, one of THEM.” And Shawna’s mother snaps back, “I’m a lesbian, Shawna. Les-bi-an. Why are you so afraid to say that word?” Shawna struggles with this throughout the story.

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

Shawna’s dad, one of the nastiest characters I’ve had to write. Nasty in the sense that he is refined and wealthy and highly educated, yet hasn’t a clue how his actions affect other people, especially those he loves. I tend to go overboard with unlikeable characters and it took quite a bit of effort to rein him in.

Hardest scene to write?

There were a LOT in this one: First, there’s a rape scene in the book and I had to remind myself that this IS young-adult. The last scene with Shawna and Arye must’ve been revised a thousand times before I was happy with it. Shawna’s final confrontation with her father broke my heart to write.

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

I know people will think I’m making this up, but I never think about my books being made into movies. My first novel was optioned for film, so I did fantasize a bit, but the option has since expired. I have such a strong personal picture of what my characters look like, it’s hard to picture them as actors who already exist (though sometimes I surf photo sites looking for similarities!).

Interview by Kim
May 2009

Enchanting Review: Touch

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 978-0-06-137517-0
272 pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Maisie is a ninth grader living with her father, her stepmother, Joan, and Josh, her nine-year-old step-brother.

Maisie has always been a bit of a tom-boy and grew up together with her best friends Kevin, Chris and Shakes. Maisie left for her 8th grade year to live with her mother and Geoff, her new step-father. When Maisie returned, she had developed physically and unlike some of her other classmates, she had developed a lot. She finds that her friends don’t quite know how to treat her anymore and the awkwardness leaves Maisie feeling unsure how to handle the relationships. Shakes and Maisie still get together and seem to be sorting out their relationship and feelings for each other, but then Chris and Kevin react with jealousy and an incident occurs on the school bus. When the boys are afraid they will be punished, they react by lying about what happened and who did what. Maisie feels betrayed by Chris, Kevin, and Shakes. Her step-mother wants to respond with lawyers and expulsions and Maisie is still sorting out what happened to her friendships, her body, and what really happened on the bus.

The author handled some very touchy subject matter with both honesty and delicacy. This is a great book for teens who are going through changes, whether it be their family structure, their bodies, their friends or other areas of their life. Even though Maisie has some struggles, nightmares and pressure at home and at school, she begins to discover who she is and to choose how much she will let other people’s pressure affect her actions. For example when Maisie’s step-mother takes her shopping, instead of getting caught up in her stepmother’s drama and backhanded compliments, she chooses not to get into it with her stepmother at the store. She simply allows her stepmother to be happy buying two dresses Maisie never intends to wear. My favorite part is when Maisie has a very honest conversation with Shakes to let him know just how she feels about his part in the bus incident and afterwards.

Francine Prose has written eighteen novels including ..Bullyville’ and ..After’ two young adult novels. She may be contacted at

Kathy Johnson
July 2008

Enchanting Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-1-4169-6823-8
276 pages
Hardcover – Available now

Rating: 3.5 Enchantments

Isabel, better known as Belly, always looks forward to summers. That’s when it’s time to relax, to swim in the pool or the ocean, to lay on the beach doing nothing. That’s when she, her brother Steven, and her mother drive to the beach house, when they spend three glorious months with loving Susannah and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah.

Brothers Conrad and Jeremiah have been there since the first summer. Just older than Belly, they always treated her like the baby, but despite the teasing, the three were pretty close. To Belly, they’ve been everything from best friends to unattainable crushes, and most definitely, people she could count on to be at the summer house when she arrived.

But this summer is different. Almost sixteen, Belly feels like she’s old enough to be included in the boys’ antics. She’s ready to make this summer perfect. But between Conrad’s moods, Jeremiah’s lifeguarding job, and Steven’s college road trip, there seems to be hardly any room left for Belly. But Belly can’t just give up; she’ll find a way to make this summer the way it should be.

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is a fast, fun, and at times moving story about life, love, and friendship. The story starts out none too originally, focusing on the highlights in Belly’s life, summers at the beach house. It predictably covers every corner of summer vacation: beaches, swimming, crushes, and parties. Even after the story gets going, nothing significantly differentiates this novel from other beach reads. It’s true that each main character is dealing with pain in their lives, but so do most characters in most novels. This lack of uniqueness made me feel like id already read pieces of the story before, albeit in a different novel. Despite that, the characters were, for the most part, realistic and believable, and I grew to understand and care about them even if I saw them reflected in countless other characters from summer stories. Belly is particularly likable, with her determination and desire to prove herself; flashbacks aided in defining her personality and background although it was difficult for me to keep track of when each segment of the story was taking place. Even though I feel this novel could have been vastly improved and even if I found the book’s ending deeply unsatisfying, I can’t deny that THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is a sweet story abtou the fragility and beauty of life and the sacredness of first love.

Jenny Han lives in New York City, and THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY is her second novel. Her first is SHUG. She can be visited online at her website:

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
August 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enchanting Review: Killer (#6 Pretty Litlte Liars series)

KILLER (#6 in the Pretty Little Liars series)
YA Mystery
ISBN# 978-0-06-156611-0
321 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

KILLER, the latest installment of the Pretty Little Liars series, takes its readers on a rollercoaster of a read as the girls find Ian’s body, but the moment they bring Wilden back to the scene, Ian’s body is gone. Now the girls are being called liars by both the police and the press and no one believes a word they’re saying. Even as the new ‘A’ texts the girls, no one wants to believe that the girls are in any danger from anything but fear of being out of the spotlight. But are they crazy or is the newest ‘A’ actually trying to help them solve the mystery this time? With a jaw dropping ending that almost seems impossible, fans of the series will delight in the newest addition to the series.

Pretty Little Liars is my favorite YA mystery series, hands down. KILLER is a fast paced, riveting read with characters that’ve grown over the course of the series and new secrets and scandals being revealed around every corner. As the girls discover and remember more about the night Ali died, the more things point towards Wilden as somehow being involved, but how and why? How can they possibly trust the man who seems to haunt all their memories?

Aria’s struggling not only with moving into her father’s new house with his expecting girlfriend as a mean’s to get away from her mother’s boyfriend, but also with the fact she keeps bumping into Ali’s older brother, Jason. Is it her or is there something going on between them? Surely the rumors about Jason hurting Ali all those years ago were just that. Rumors. Spencer yet again feels the major outcast. Not only because of her possibly being adopted, but because she’s the one who first found Ian’s supposed body. When her family’s home is vandalized because of it and her parents ostracizing her for it, Spencer decides to find out where it is she might belong and answers the e-mail from her possible birth mother. Hanna’s forced friendship with her soon-to-be-evil-stepsister isn’t working out like her father would hope. And after Hanna blurted out what she did about Kate in the last book, it seems Kate’s out for revenge. But Hanna knows how to play that game too. Emily’s dealing with her own relationship troubles, especially when her boyfriend’s mother seems to hate her. When her boyfriend won’t believe her, what’s a girl to do, especially after finding a photo in their kitchen with her head cut out. That’s not typical friendly mother behavior. What I loved best about KILLER was how the tension never seemed to let up where the mystery was involved and how everything led up to the big party at the new hotel, a place that ends up harboring a very big secret. As all the clues start to fall together, the girls find themselves in deeper danger then they could ever imagine. One of the best scenes in the book is when aria is lured out to Jason’s apartment, only to almost be attacked by a dog. When she has no other choice, she’s forced to break into the apartment, only to discover what may be the biggest clue yet.

Sara Shephard graduation from NYU and has an MFA from Brooklyn College. Her PRETTY LITTLE LIARS novels were inspired by her growing up in Philadelphia’s Main Line. Visit for PLL gossip, giveaways and exclusive series secrets.

Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Enchanting Review: Gorgeous

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 978-0-06-089046-9
278 pages
Hardcover – Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Allison Avery has always felt invisible. The middle child sandwiched between older, smart, talented, and accomplished Quinn and younger, pretty, and popular Phoebe, Allison thinks herself the epitome of mediocrity. It doesn’t help that she feels like an ugly duckling in public. And with not-quite-supportive friends, distracted sisters, and parents with their own financial problems, no one has really told her different.

But that all changes the first time Allison hands out with Roxie, a used-to-be big city girl also rumored to be a model. Suddenly Allison realizes she’s tired of being the girl in the shadows. So, she makes a deal with the devil. In exchange for gorgeousness, all Allison has to do is let the devil possess her cell phone. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not. Allison’s looks may have earned her more popularity, but do her new friends like her for her—or her face? And is her semi-finalist spot in a competition to find America’s next teen model all what it’s cracked up to be? And now that the devil’s control of her phone is wreaking havoc with her personal and social life, Allison has to ask herself—is beauty really worth this?

GOEGEOUS is a witty, unusual, and ultimately charming tale of a girl trying to figure out who she is. Allison is a very likable character every teen girl will be able to relate to in some way; she’s very unsure of herself, both in intelligence and looks, she feels dwarfed by the accomplishments of those around her, and she doesn’t know who she can completely trust. That’s why she gives so little thought to the devil’s deal when she’s offered beauty. She’s just floundering for some confidence, something she can be proud of. This novel is very successful in conveying the importance of learning to love yourself. Despite that people should care about personality rather than image, beauty can be vital to that process of finding confidence, more for the reward of feeling beautiful than just being so. Vail, I felt, was also very effective in this message. For me, that’s what set GORGEOUS apart from other novels about body image and beauty even if it all comes down to inner beauty. It also helps that Allison’s business with the devil was continually mysterious. In all, GORGEOUS is a sweet story that will be enjoyed by women of all ages.

A resident of New York City, Rachel Vail has written many novels for young adults. GORGEOUS is the second installment in the Avery sisters trilogy; the first book, LUCKY, follows Phoebe’s story. Rachel can be visited online at her website:

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
August 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Enchanting Review: Sisters In Sanity

YA contemporary
Harper Collins
ISBN #978-0-06-088749-0
290 pages
Trade paperback Available now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, just wants to play in her band. Life hasn’t been the same since the Step monster joined the family. Brit doesn’t realize how bad things will get until a so-called promised family trip to the Grand Canyon turns into a trip to a remote, all-girl, residential treatment center for troubled teens. Brit is devastated by her father’s betrayal. Once at the center, she finds other inmates’ who become her friends and help try to find a way out of the prison-like institution.

This edgy tale shows the pain and anger of a girl who is tricked by her father into going to a boot camp for out of control teenagers. Brit’s reaction to being in the camp and her refusal to accept the counselor’s diagnosis of her so-called problem rang true. The language at times is raw but also very realistic of what might be the reaction to anyone suddenly locked up in a prison like building. Forman does a great job getting the reader inside and letting us see the horrors of so-called ‘tough’ love. The girls are exposed to harsh criticisms of their so-called problems in order for them to reform. Instead, it only makes them resent not only the camp but their parents as well.

I really liked how Forman doesn’t show the typical stereotypical troubled teen. No,
Brit’s character is not the usual angry punk rocker, but a girl that is struggling with the pain of her father’s betrayal and the fear that she might become like her paranoid schizophrenic mother. Brit learns to open up to some of the other girls at the camp and together they put together a secret sisterhood club in order to survive from the indifferent counselors at the camp. The other girls in the institution are also multilayered. I especially liked how Brit slowly learns to trust and how she decides to take matters into her own hands. Those who loved IMPULSE will also enjoy SISTERS IN SANITY.

Gayle Forman lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. Find out more at

August 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Enchanting Interview: Amy Efaw

1. How long have you been writing? Was this something that you always knew you would do?

I starting writing like most kids do, when my English teacher assigned a writing project. And I noticed how easy it was to get an “A” when I wrote something – poetry or short stories or essays or even reports; I was good at all kinds of writing styles. But I really made a decision to try to write for “real” once I had kids.

I started trying to write picture books (three to be exact) and sent them off to publishers. I collected nothing but rejection letters. Then I decided to write a novel based on my experiences at West Point, and I sold that book – BATTLE DRESS – before I had even finished it! That book was published in 2000 with HarperCollins. The second novel I ever tried to write was AFTER. So, I’ve been pretty lucky. Some authors write several books before they ever get one published.

2. What drew you to write for Young Adults?

I think a big part of me is still stuck in “Planet Teenager” (as my husband likes to call it).

But, seriously, I might get into trouble for saying this, but I’m going to do it anyway – I think in many ways you have to be a better writer to hold a teen’s attention than an adult’s. We young adult authors have a lot of competition – video games and movies and MySpace and TV and iPods and text messaging, etc. If we don’t grab our audience right away, our book will be tossed, collecting dust under some bed and never to be cracked again. Adults tend to be more patient when they read; they’ll give books more time to draw them in.
Also, I believe that teens tend to be more open to new ideas than adults. Not that I write with an agenda in mind, but as an author, I think it’s an awesome thing to possibly affect the way people look at a particular issue or expose them to a new concept.

3. If your life and/or writing career were a book, what would the title be?

I know I’m totally ripping from Sharon Creech’s novel, but it would be ABSOLUTELY NORMAL CHAOS. Definitely. At least during this particular time of my life!

4. Our readers always like to know, what is your writing process like?

I write very slowly and meticulously. I write chapter by chapter, chronologically, for the story. Every once in a while, I’ll be suddenly inspired and will write a scene ahead of time, but that’s very rare.

On any given writing day, I’ll start by reading over what I wrote during the previous writing session. That gets me in the “mood” for what I’ll be working on next. I edit as I read through it, so I’m always revising. This method can be a bad thing because it takes a long time for me to write anything. But it’s a good thing, too. It makes for relatively polished first drafts.

I DO NOT use outlines, at least not the written out kind. But I do a lot of thinking before I ever start writing, so when I finally do sit down and get to work, I’m ready to roll.

5. Do you have any specific writing rituals, both in general and with AFTER?

I wouldn’t call this a “ritual” exactly, but my best time of day for writing is late at night – between 10 PM and, like, 2 AM generally. It’s the only time that I can just relax, not care about the stuff that I have to do during the day, and concentrate.

BTW, I just looked at my watch; it says 1:32 AM right now! So there you have it!

6. Response to AFTER has been rolling in for a while. How are fans responding?

The feedback I’ve received, particularly from book bloggers like you, has been great! It seems like almost everyone who’s read AFTER has “gotten it.” I haven’t heard from anybody who’s said that they think the story is bogus. This is important because the idea that a girl could deny the fact that she was pregnant would seem pretty far-fetched to most people. And that’s probably where most readers are when they step into this book. If I’ve gotten readers to understand, believe the phenomenon exists, and maybe even feel some compassion for the main character (even if they hate what she’s done) by the time they’ve finished the book, then I think I’ve done a good job.

A few readers have expressed some disappointment in the ending. It’s very interesting because, at the same time, they also say that they don’t know how the story could have ended otherwise. They don’t know how to – or can’t – articulate where exactly their dissatisfaction lies.

Some didn’t like the fact that all the relationships in the story didn’t come to full completion, that everything wasn’t tied up neatly at the end. All I can say to that is . . . that’s just not real life. And this is my own preference of course, but I personally roll my eyes when I read books where everything conveniently pulls together perfectly at the end. It kinda bugs me! I think it sort of cheats the reader because that’s just not how the world works. And especially books as tough as AFTER, in my opinion, need very realistic endings. AFTER doesn’t deal with a pretty subject; a pretty ending would not have worked. Pretty endings are for a different type of book. But that’s just my view!

7. I read that you did quite a bit of research before writing AFTER. How did this impact your story? Did it change the story from your original idea?

Not really. Since my story is more character-driven, I started with the character, Devon. And I didn’t write anything until I was able to figure out who she would be. The very first thing I did was pull hundreds of “Dumpster baby” newspaper accounts off the Internet and read them. By doing this, I discovered that most “Dumpster baby” stories share some definite common characteristics. Out of those common characteristics, I was able to compile a profile of the type of teen girl who might conceal her pregnancy and then throw her baby into the trash. That profiled character became Devon.

Then before I started writing about the scenes inside the juvenile detention center, I spent hours and hours observing girls inside one. And so on. Whenever I came to a place while writing AFTER where I needed to figure something out, I’d stop and do the research before moving on. That way, I wasn’t guessing, and I wasn’t wasting time writing scenes that were unrealistic and would eventually be cut or need extensive revision.

This makes for slow writing, but I think it makes for a better, stronger, and tighter story.

8. What scene was the hardest for you to write in AFTER?

Probably the courtroom scenes. I had a lot to accomplish in those scenes, but I didn’t want them to read like a transcript from a trial. I wanted them to be accurate of what it’s like to be in court, but they had to move the story along and not be so full of detail that they dragged down the narrative.

9. What was your favorite scene in AFTER?

That’s a hard question to answer! But I think one of my favorite scenes was when Devon and Connor are walking along Point Defiance, when their romance is just starting. There’s so little “light” in this book, that this scene just sort of lifts the darkness for a needed, brief moment.

10. Did you ever experience any difficulties or roadblocks while writing AFTER?

Yeah, a big one. I had originally signed a contract for AFTER with another publishing company, and I did this based on a synopsis and about twenty-five pages (similar to what I did with my first young adult novel, BATTLE DRESS). And then the editor who had acquired AFTER left publishing altogether, so my novel was handed over to another editor there. However, it took me so long to finish AFTER that my “new” editor (and publisher) lost patience and decided to terminate the contract. By that time, I had finished a solid draft of the novel, but, alas, too late.

Four anxious months crawled by. I worried AFTER would never become a real book. But my very capable agent, Amy Berkower, put it in Viking’s hands, and they snapped it up!

And, really, I’m so glad that this happened! I love Viking and especially my amazing editor, Joy Peskin. AFTER wouldn’t have been the same book without her.

11. What's next for you?

Another book! Finger’s crossed . . .

Interview by Cinnamon
August 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Enchanting Review: After

Young Adult
Viking Juvenile
ISBN# 9780670011834
352 pages
Hardcover – August 11, 2009
Rating: 5 Enchantments

Devon is a straight A student who has never done anything wrong in her life. She has a strong character and a fantastic will that shows through even when the world around her is turning upside down. Polite, and unwilling to cause physical or emotional pain to anyone, Devon is the perfect daughter, athlete and student.

AFTER is the story of what happens when everything goes wrong. Devon makes a life altering decision by abandoning her baby in a garbage can. The resulting story is painful to read and yet strangely addicting. AFTER follows Devon as the juvenile detention system takes hold of her and the courts attempt to decide her fate. Efaw challenges us to ask the question, do we believe that Devon knew what she was doing? Did she plan to hurt her baby? With excellent research backing her up, Efaw gives us a look at the women that make the choice to abandon their babies.

I’m not sure if the word “amazing” is strong enough to describe AFTER. Efaw has managed to create a book that is so powerful that I, for perhaps one of the first times, am having a difficult time coming up with the words to describe it. My only hope is that I can convey at least a fraction of my thoughts and feelings on this book as the entirety of those thoughts and feelings would probably fill up their own thick stack of pages. AFTER is the most emotional and thought provoking book that I have read all year.

Efaw’s writing is so smooth and fluid that it was difficult to remember that I was reading a book and not watching a television show or staring at people in front of me. The emotion and strength that she put into her writing pulled Devon off the page and created a real person. That might be one reason why the story affected me the way that it did. Despite my best intentions, I found myself wishing the worst for Devon at the beginning of the book. That lasted all of three paragraphs and then suddenly my own feelings and desires vanished. All that was left was a little piece of me stuck up in Devon’s head. Her story has been playing constantly through my head and multiple times throughout the days I have found images from the story popping up in my thoughts. The raw emotion that Efaw writes with is so tangible that I’m unsure how a person can refrain from being drawn in.

The best and most unique part of the story, in my opinion, is how relatable Efaw made Devon. The subject matter of the story is fairly dark, but somehow, she made Devon a character that we couldn’t resist following. While the story didn’t by any means make me feel happy, it did make me feel. AFTER gave my brain new ideas to conquer and a different way of thinking to ponder. If ever there was a book that could get people talking and a cold heart to feel emotion, AFTER is it.

Amy Efaw uses her experiences growing up in the military and her West Point Academy education as the background to her writing. She can be found online at

Cinnamon Brown
August 2009

Enchanting Review: Shiver

Paranormal YA
ISBN# 978-0-545-12326-6
400 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Grace’s fascination with the wolves in the forest behind her home stems from an attack that happened when she was young. Ever since, she’s had a connection, with one wolf in particular with the beautiful yellow eyes. But when a teenager at her school is apparently killed by the wolves, the community is in an uproar and goes after the wolves. Desperate to save ‘her’ wolf, Grace risks her own safety to go running into the forest, wanting to save both the wolf and her best friend who is out in the forest taking pictures. Ushered home, Grace finds an unbelievable sight on her back porch, a huddled up figure with the same eyes as her wolf.

Sam’s been changing back and forth between a human and a wolf as the seasons change since a brutal attack on him as a child. His parents, unable to deal with what he had become, tried to kill him but he survived and was taken in by the local pack leader. But when a bullet hits him, he finds himself human again in the fall, a time when he shouldn’t be. Sam’s been in love with Grace for years, ever since he saved her from the wolf attack several years ago. Now in human form, he’s desperate to make the most of the time the two have together, never knowing when the next cold weather is going to hit and make him change—this time permanently.

SHIVER is truly an enjoyable love story, with twists and turns that keep the reader hoping that Sam and Grace will find a way to keep him from turning back to the wolf, because as Sam fears, turning once more is something he may not be able to change back from. I really came to love these two characters over the course of the book, the way they cared about each other and the way Sam wanted to give Grace good memories to hold on to when he turned back. One of my favorite scenes is when he takes her to Duluth to the little candy store on a date. I loved the banter between the two and the way they truly cared about one another. Ms. Stiefvater has a very lyrical and enjoyable style, that keeps the reader turning the pages into well into the night.

Readers looking for something different in the paranormal genre should definitely try SHIVER.

Maggie Stiefvater is also the author of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie. Maggie lives in rural Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at

Enchanting Reviews
August 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Enchanting Review: Sir John Hargrave's Mischief Maker's Manual

YA Nonfiction
Grosset & Dunlap
ISBN# 978-0-448-44982-1
272 pages
$15.99 US ($17.50 CAN)
Hardbound - Available June 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

This nonfiction guide for mischief Makers is an excellent step by step quick guide to playing pranks in a safe and non-vandalizing way. Many of the pranks are classic pranks that have been played before, but this book de-mystifies the methods and the materials used. A few new twists are introduced on some old pranks and a history is given for some pranks like the whoopee cushion. Some of the pranks can be performed alone, but others will require the reader to find a partner or team who can be trusted to help with the prank and not leak information.

The first section of the book introduces the basics of how to prank, how to stay out of trouble and some very basic pranks. The book progresses from simple pranks to more complex pranks that require more preparation and planning to pull off. One of the more important concepts introduced in the book is staying safe and making sure that nobody is likely to be injured.

My favorite pranks in the book are the tuna cookies and the smoke bombs made from old ping-pong balls. These seem fairly simple to bring off and use items I can easily lay my hands on. I like the layout of the book, progressing from simple to more complicated pranks. The diagrams are very easy to understand and make it simple to prepare materials for pranks like the smoke bombs or the spewing soda trick. I will definitely follow the author’s advice and hide this book so that my ‘victims’ won’t suspect me as the prankster. The reversible cover is great for hiding the book when reading in a public place.

The author, Sir John Hargrave is well known as the editor of ZUG, the first humor website, where you can find additional pranks, software and sound files listed in the book and other information about pranks and the author.

Kathy Johnson
July 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Enchanting Review: Post Grad

Women’s Fiction
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN# 978-0-312-59626-2
256 Pages
Trade--Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Ryden Malby’s had her whole life planned out, do well in high school, get a great scholarship and graduate, thereby moving into the next phase of her life, a gorgeous place and her dream job at the city’s best publishing house. Graduating from college was one thing, but when her plans for her life are quickly disintegrating she’s forced to do the unthinkable—move back home with her parents, her crazy grandmother and strange little brother till she can find a job and figure out what to do with her life.

POST GRAD is a hilarious, entertaining read. There wasn’t a single chapter where I didn’t either laugh or lament the thought of having to eventually put the book down. I loved Ryden instantly, it’s hard to not like a girl who’s dealing with a family as crazy as hers, and her nemesis in Jessica Barde, the ‘perfect’ girl who seems to always show up when Ryden would least like her to, especially during one truly horrific moment when working at Luggage World. Her best friend Adam who’s hopelessly crushing on her. Ryden’s family is truly one of the best, most outrageous families I’ve ever come across. Her father is beyond hilarious and her grandmother is a scene stealer. It’s so hard to pick a scene to mention in the review, but the first one that pops to mind is when her grandmother takes them shopping for her own casket and the chaos that ensues. Ryden’s already embarrassed enough at times by her family, but to have her grandmother actually trying out the caskets is enough to give the poor girl a meltdown.

If you’re looking for a great read, POST GRAD is one book you should definitely pick up.

Check out the first chapter online at

Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

Enchanting Review: The Treasure Map of Boys

THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver
Contemporary YA
Delacorte Press
ISBN# 978-0-385-73426-4
256 Pages
Hardcover—Available July 28, 2009

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Ms. Lockhart doesn’t disappoint with THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS,
the third book in the Ruby Oliver series. Ruby’s dealing with more of the same: issues with her parents; potential problems with her two friends and the biggest problem of all—boy trouble, something that escalates as she finds herself in charge of a bake sale and finds herself suddenly thrown together with her recently dumped ex, Jackson and not to mention things with her and Noel are going a lot differently then she would want them to.

The best thing about the Ruby Oliver series is Ruby herself. No other young adult character makes me laugh as hard or as often as Ruby. I love her interactions with her friends and the situations she finds herself in. When the last thing Ruby needs is another boy in her life to complicate things, in walks another, in the form of her good friend’s older brother. But hands down, my favorite scene of all is the science class experiment that goes so horribly, horribly wrong that leaves poor Ruby in a see-through shirt in front of a class full of jerky boys. Thankfully Noel saves the day, but the scene is something only Ruby could pull off.

I can only hope there are more books ahead with this great cast of characters. Fans of the series will no doubt love THE TREASURE MAP OF BOYS.

E. Lockhart is the author of two other books about Ruby Oliver: The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book. Like Rook, she dislikes marshmallows and loves vintage clothing. Unlike Roo, she loves Birkenstock's and is old enough to remember when retro metal was not retro. Visit her at, where you can read all about Ruby and the sophomore year bake sale. Or check out her blog at

Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

Enchanting Review: Blue Moon

Paranormal YA
St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN# 978-0-312-53276-5
284 Pages
Trade—Available Now

Rating: 4.5 Enchantments

Ms. Noel picks BLUE MOON up a short time after Evermore leaves off. Ever and Damen are happy together, she’s starting to learn more about her mysterious powers and everything looks like its going great, until the new kid at school arrives. Everyone adores Roman, except for Ever. There’s something off about him and she can’t put her finger on it…until her whole world starts falling apart and Ever finds herself on the outside looking in.

BLUE MOON is a great second book in the series. We learn more about Ever; her relationship with her friends; her previous incarnations with Damen and more about the mysterious Summerland, as Ever finds herself spending more time there in order to find a way to save Damen. At Summerland, she meets a pair of mysterious sisters who I’m sure will play an even bigger role in the series going forward. I’m anxious to learn more about these two. While I thought the pacing of the book was sometimes a little slow, the lead up to the ending picks up relatively quickly and puts Ever in a spot no one would expect. Filled with well developed characters, more mysterious clues about where everything is eventually headed and the fact that the ending leaves Ever and Damen’s relationship potentially changed forever, BLUE MOON is a book fans of paranormal YA won’t want to miss.

Ms. Noel is the author of Evermore and seven previous novels for St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Laguna Beach, California where she is at work on the next book in the Immortals series. Visit her on the Web at

Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

Enchanting Review: The Real Real

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 978-0-06-172040-6
309 Pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Jesse O’Rouke is the typical average girl at her Hamptons high school. She’s not the most glamorous or the most beautiful and she definitely doesn’t hang out with the A-list crowd, but her and her best friend Caitlin really don’t care that much about any of that. Then suddenly XTV shows up at school, auditioning every single student to be one of the stars for their soon-to-be hot new reality hit, and Jesse gets cast as one of the leads, leaving her in the bright glare of the spotlight with her best friend on the outside looking in.

I loved Jesse, finding herself thrown in with the kids who’ve always been more popular then her. While her and Drew are the outsiders in the group, they’re forced to play friends with the others in front of the cameras, following the directions of a crazed cinematographer which results in some truly hilarious scenes. All the while, Jesse’s ‘reality’ is anything but as they shoot a Saturday at the spa in the middle of the night and her friendship with Caitlin starts to fade as the two barely have any time together. Soon, Jesse finds herself trying to wrangle a deal to get her best friend on the show…something that doesn’t turn out how she expected.

Hands down, my favorite scene is when the cast is whisked away to Mexico to film the spring break episode, a week before the actual spring break and are surprised to find themselves almost the lone inhabitants of the hotel. Everything is perfectly choreographed on film, while off camera, things get chaotic, leading to a scene where a drunk Trisha brings the party downstairs up to the penthouse where things get quickly out of control, leaving the entire cast huddled together in the bathroom trying to keep the partiers out.

What didn’t I love about this book? If I could have given more then five enchantments, I would have. THE REAL REAL is the perfect summer read. From the moment I picked it up, I was immediately pulled into Jesse’s world and didn’t stop till I reached the final page, where I seriously hoped there was going to be a teaser of a sequel. Trust me, once you get to the end, you want to know there is more of Jesse and these characters in your future.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are the authors of the New York Times bestsellers The Nanny Diaries, Citizen Girl and Dedication. They live and work in New York city. Please visit their website at

Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

Enchanting Review: Matisse On The Loose

Contemporary Middle Grade
Delacorte Press
ISBN# 978-0385735704
160 Pages
Hardcover--Available July 14, 2009

Rating: 3 Enchantments

Matisse is in trouble. It’s not bad enough that he has some of the strangest parents around or that his older sister had an almost unhealthy love for the color purple, but he’s gone and done something that could not only cost his mom her job as head of security for the museum, but also take away his freedom.

Matisse is an interesting and somewhat unique middle grade character with a talent for art. Easily embarrassed by his family, although who wouldn’t be with the description of his father’s homemade barbecue on the opening pages of the book, Matisse is desperate to prove he’s not as weird as them. As a talented artist who makes copies of the museum’s masterpieces, the reader kind of gets the idea that Matisse is headed for trouble when he decides to see what his version of the picture would look like hanging on the wall.

MATISSE ON THE LOOSE was an okay middle grade read. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. There were some aspects of the story that seemed rushed along, and every time Matisse tried to get the real painting back, there was always something holding him back. I did really like the scene where the cop was chasing him through the museum, with Matisse panicking he’d been found out, when the cop was merely the son one of the volunteers who wanted him to meet. The situation at the end with the real Pierre Matisse did seem a little farfetched to me and sort of pulled me from the storyline. All in all, I liked the characters in MATISSE ON THE LOOSE, but some of the scenes did pull me from the story.

Georgia Bragg’s father, mother, and brother are all artists, and Georgia is too. She was a printmaker, a painter, and a storyboard artist before becoming a writer. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and two cats.

Enchanting Reviews
June 2009

Enchanting Review: Flirting With Boys

Contemporary YA
ISBN# 978-0061253843
256 Pages
Trade--Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Celeste Tippen should be having her dream summer. Thanks to fate, her best friend Devon’s summer plans of spending two months at a prestigious acting school in Scotland have fallen through and Celeste’s boyfriend Travis going to be working at Pinyon Ranch too—thanks to a little incident involving a stolen golf cart from the resort. Instead her summer’s turning into a nightmare as she finds herself playing referee between Travis and Nick, her summer flirtation for the last few summers. If that wasn’t bad enough, Celeste finds herself having to spend more time with Nick than she ever planned.

FLIRTING WITH BOYS is a fun summer read. Ms. Abbot does a great job painting the scenes and it feels like you’re there right along with Celeste at the resort. Celeste, for the most part is a very likable character, and I really liked watching her struggle with Nick, her summer boyfriend from years past.

One of the things that sort of took away from the book was Celeste’s boyfriend, Travis. Sure, he’s the so-called ‘bad boy’ and is supposed to do things that good boyfriends don’t do, but there were a few times when I found him extremely annoying and wondered why Celeste wouldn’t just tell him off or get rid of him completely. Even at the big climax of the story, when everything is falling apart, you really want Celeste to wake up to the fact of the kind of guy Travis really is and the truth about Nick. I have to say most of my favorite scenes are between Celeste and Nick, especially when she’s forced into helping him plan his own party. I really enjoyed the part where the two go to check out a band in Los Angeles. All in all, FLIRTING WITH BOYS is a great summer read.

Ms. Abbot grew up in Southern California, where she split her time between creative writing and creative beaching. She is the author of Getting Lost with Boys, The Secrets of Boys, The Perfect Boy, Waking Up to Boys, The Forbidden Boy, and The Other Boy well as the Summer Boys books and The Bridesmaid. Hailey now lives in New York City.

Enchanting Reviews
June 2009