March 28, 2013

Review: The Namesake

The Namesake By Steven Parlato
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
Review copy
Winner of the 2011 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices, young adult category

Reading THE NAMESAKE was an emotional experience.  I had to read it bit by bit over a couple of weeks, lest I be overwhelmed.  Evan Galloway is haunted by his father's suicide, and the more he discovers about his father's secrets the worse it gets.

Evan was named for his father, although their middle names are different and he isn't a true Junior.  He looks like his father, aside from his ears.  He attends the same Catholic school his father did.  He's interested in art too, although he prefers writing instead of painting.  Evan wants to know that he isn't going to follow in his father's footsteps and to know that he has to know his father and why he did it.

THE NAMESAKE is beautifully written.  Debut author Steven Parlato evoked several images that are going to linger in my mind.  It's a story that tackles a lot beyond the big issues of suicide and sexual abuse.  It is truly Evan's journey even if it is underpinned by his father's tragic story.

Some parts of THE NAMESAKE are very graphic.  I don't regret reading the novel, but I do wish I could cut some of the details out of my mind.  Parlato does not pull his punches, which makes the catharsis more powerful if more difficult to reach.

THE NAMESAKE is powerful, moving contemporary fiction that will appeal to fans of Beth Kephart and Laurie Halse Anderson.  It is a very strong debut, and Parlato has left a mark even if he never writes another novel.

March 27, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: April Fairytales!

Waiting On Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine.

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, The Book Rat, and A Backwards Story are hosting the Fairy Tale Fortnight.  In honor of that very fun event, I decided to highlight three new fairytale retellings coming out next month.  All three are middle grade and all summaries are provided by the publisher.

FroggedFROGGED by Vivian Vande Velde

How can I resist a new book by Vande Velde? She's tackled fairytales before, so I'm sure FROGGED will be fantastic.
One should be able to say of a princess “She was as good as she was beautiful,” according to The Art of Being a Princess (third revised edition), which the almost-thirteen-year-old Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. Not feeling particularly good, or all that beautiful, she heads for a nearby pond, where, unfortunately, a talking frog tricks her into kissing him. No prince appears, as one might expect. Instead, the princess turns into a frog herself! Thus launches a funny, wonderfully spun fractured fairy tale in which Imogene wonders if she will be forever frogified.

Thrice Upon a MarigoldTHRICE UPON A MARIGOLD by Jean Farris

This is the third book in Jean Ferris' terrific Marigold series. Not a direct retelling, but the series has a fairytale sensibility.
Princess Poppy, the bouncing baby daughter of Queen Marigold and King Christian of Zandelphia-Beaurivage, is in terrible danger. The kingdom’s former torturer-in-chief and poisoner-in-chief have joined forces to kidnap the baby as an act of revenge for their exile! Can a ragtag parade of rescuers—including the king and queen, the evil kidnappers’ mortified children, five dogs, a white elephant, and a washed-up wizard—save Princess Poppy in time?

RumpRUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Sutcliff

I am not familiar with Sutcliff, but this novel looks super cute!

In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke.
Rump has never known his full name—his mother died before she could tell him. So all his life he's been teased and bullied for his half-a-name. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. For Rump discovers he can spin straw into gold. Magical gold.
His best friend Red Riding Hood warns him that magic is dangerous—and she's right! That gold is worth its weight in trouble. And with each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse.
There's only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—Rump just might triumph in the end.
An inventive fairytale retelling, perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine or Shannon Hale.

March 26, 2013

Review: Strange Fates

Strange Fates Nyx Fortuna (Book 1)
By Marlene Perez
Available now from Orbit (Hachette)

STRANGE FATES is the first book in a new adult urban fantasy trilogy to be followed by DARK DESCENT (later this year) and FORTUNE'S FAVOR (early 2014).  I love reading about the Fates, I've heard fantastic things about Marlene Perez's young adult books, and I was excited by a trilogy that would be published within the year instead of stretched out over three years.  Plus, the ebook was at a bargain price.  Unfortunately STRANGE FATES was not everything I'd hoped for.

It wasn't all bad.  The world Perez created is fascinating.  There are four houses of power, and Nyx Fortuna belongs to the strongest: the House of Fate.  That's not a good thing for him, because his mother was the fourth Fate, murdered by her sisters and forgotten.  He wants revenge and then he wants to die himself.  But the remaining Fates are up to something fishy and a missing scientist might be the key to it all.

The biggest problem with STRANGE FATES was Elizabeth.  When Nyx meets her, he knows that she's a liar and using him for her own mysterious ends.  She does nothing but confirm this impression.  For some reason, he decides to begin a relationship with her anyway.  He falls for her soon enough, despite the fact that Elizabeth shows no qualities other than being a manipulative liar and does everything she can to betray his inexplicable trust and on top of everything else he's apparently never fallen in love before in his long life.  There is no character-based reason for Nyx to be in love and it's this hollow core at the center of his motivation.  His friendship with Willow, a murderous naiad, isn't much more developed.  But Perez clearly has the skills to show people getting to know and like each other, considering how Nyx and Talbot's relationship grows closer as they work and hang together.

The second biggest problem is that Nyx seems to change his priorities part of the way through the novel without much explanation.  He's very clear about his desire to kill the Fates and determined to get revenge for the first half of the novel, but then when things start falling into place to destroy the Fates he does the exact opposite of jumping at his chance.  I am all for Perez throwing some nuance into the relationship and broadening Nyx's perspective, but I was honestly baffled by most of Nyx's decisions in the second half of STRANGE FATES.

There is a lot of talent behind STRANGE FATES.  Perez created a nifty world and a great main character.  She has an interesting take on mythology and immortality.  But the execution isn't there at all.  The romance is mind-bogglingly bad and Nyx goes against the entirety of his characterization for the tiniest, least-convincing reason.  I kind of want to read the second to see if Perez manages to save her world, but STRANGE FATES started strong and finished very weak.

March 25, 2013

Movie Monday: Skyfall

Skyfall Confession: I have only seen the Daniel Craig James Bond movies.  I like them, and I keep intending to watch the other Bonds, I just never have.  I feel guilty for missing out on the history when I watch them.

Skyfall definitely has old-fashioned pacing.  After the dynamic train sequence at the beginning of the film, it's a slow burn to the explosive finale.  Oh, there are some little action sequences here and there, but director Sam Mendes keeps it simple until its time to break lose and let Bond, Silva (Javier Bardem), and M (Judi Dench) have it out.

I am enamored of the lighting and color in Skyfall.  There are several terrific uses of silhouette, but none better than when Bond grapples with a hitman in a skyscraper with an open window.  It's blue and beautiful and has lingered in my mind.  So many action films are utterly forgettable and interchangeable, so I'd love Skyfall for that sequence alone.

But Skyfall isn't overly arty.  It delivers everything a Bond film promises, what everyone expects whether they've seen a Bond movie before or not.  Chases, a cool car, beautiful women, inventive attempts at murder.  It's frequently funny, even the ruthless M providing plenty of humor.  There is some musing over whether the ends justify the means, but the heroes of the movie are still unquestionably the heroes.

Some elements of the story are weak.  One part of Silva's plan relies on Q, the genius of M1-6, to do something rather dumb.  Of course he does it.  But the characters aren't repeatedly stupid, so I can forgive a few missteps made for the sake of pushing the plot forward.

I really should watch the other Bond films, given how much I've enjoyed Craig's outings as the famous spy.  And I'll definitely keep watching his tenure, and probably that of his successor.

March 23, 2013

Jane Nickerson: An Interview with an Adventurous Young Lady

Strands of Bronze and Gold Today I have a special interview for you all!  Jane Nickerson wrote this interview with a young Sophia Petheram, the main character of her novel STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD (my review), set before she moves to Wyndriven Abbey.  I've written about STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD many times if you want to learn more about the book.


“The Girls’ Friendly Companion of New England” takes this opportunity to interview a young lady who is about to commence a considerable journey. Seventeen-year-old Miss Sophia Petheram, of Boston, is shortly to leave the bosom of her loving family to travel the great distance southward to Mississippi, a destination that many in the more long-settled regions of our great country consider “the back of beyond.”

Q. Miss Petheram, will you tell our gentle readers what causes you to launch on this undertaking?

SP: My dear father passed away during the spring, and so my godfather and guardian, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac—along with his wife, of course—has invited me to come live with them at their home. It’s a house with a name—isn’t that charming? Wyndriven Abbey. He wrote once that it was brought all the way across the ocean from England. In pieces, of course.

Q. And is your guardian well-known to you? 

SP: Not in person. He only came to our home once when I was a mere babe, and of course I do not remember that meeting, and neither do my siblings. It makes him quite mysterious. My brother Harry calls him my fairy godfather, and plagues me by descriptions of M. de Cressac as an ogre with tusks of pure gold. Harry is a silly goose. But my father knew my guardian from long ago and says he is a distinguished gentleman. I do feel I know him, though, through his letters to me. Such lovely letters. Through the years he has written of his travels and explorations with great detail. He even penned fanciful little tales in which I was the heroine. And that he would take so much time for a motherless little girl, makes me believe he is a person composed of kindness itself. And then there’s the delightful gifts.

Q. Has he been generous with you? I believe he is internationally well-known as a successful man of business. 

SP: Indeed he has. I cannot tell you how we all anticipated the arrival of his parcels. Sumptuous is the only word for them. There was a rocking horse with a mane of real horse hair—his name is Araby, since he is an Arabian steed. And a doll with a wardrobe fit for a princess—her name is Elodie, since she is French. Oh, I wish your readers could see her clothing! Glorious gowns in the height of style and underthings trimmed with the daintiest broderie anglaise. Tiny kid slippers and plumed bonnets. I still love them, even now when I am grown; there is something so enchanting about miniature things, isn’t there? I visit Araby and Elodie now and again in the attic. Of course when I was older the gifts were more appropriate for my age.

Q. Did he never send presents for your siblings? 

SP: Well…no. But then he is not their godparent. They were not jealous. I do not think. I have always shared everything.

Q. Did you ever expect that the day would come when you would actually live with him and his wife? 

SP: I suppose it has always been one of my fancies. For one thing, he has arranged for me to take riding and music lessons, and I have wondered if, perhaps, he were preparing me for at least an extended visit to his estate.

Q. The southern states of our country are very different from our own New England. Have you any trepidation? 

SP: Of course. Some. I shall miss my family dreadfully. I have never been anywhere, so everything will be new to me. Also, my people have abolitionist leanings. I must worry about living in a region that does not share those views. However, mostly I am excited. My heart begins palpitating when I think of where I am about to go. I hear that Mississippi has a lush and beautiful landscape.

Q. You appear to be a modern young lady, most brave and adventurous. Thank you so much for your time. We wish you great good fortune. 

SP: Thank you for speaking to me. I adore your periodical. Especially the serial stories. They provide such scope for imagination. I sometimes daydream that I am living in one of them. I hope I would be as brave as those heroines.

March 22, 2013

Review: Spellcaster

Spellcaster First in a trilogy
By Claudia Gray
Available now from HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

When Claudia Gray's EVERNIGHT first came out, I saw it on the now defunct HarperTeen First Look sight.  But I didn't pick it up then.  I picked it up last year, when the e-copy was free and the series was complete.  And let me tell you that series worked beautifully when I could read the books one after another like six heaping handfuls of popcorn.  I was a little nervous reading SPELLCASTER now because what if I wanted the next book immediately?  I'd have to wait a year!

I will totally be waiting.  Gray manages to pull the rug out from under the reader at the last second, setting things up for an even bigger confrontation in the next book.  But what is contained within SPELLCASTER is a pretty fantastic handful of popcorn.

Nadia and her family are in a car wreck the instant they come to town, but luckily the extremely hot Mateo is there to save them.  Oh, to be a YA heroine.  Nadia and Mateo both have secrets.  Nadia is a witch and now that her mother has abandoned the family she'll remain untrained.  Mateo can see the future and is going to go insane just like everyone else in his family.  Also, there's something horrible inside the town strangling it from within.  Okay, maybe I don't want to be a YA heroine.

I'd tell you all about my favorite character, but I've forgotten all about her.  So does everyone else.  It's kind of a thing.  And I adore every time she pops up and goes, "Guys, I am still here.  Stop making moon eyes at each other."  She is the best and sadly pushed to the side all the time.   Luckily the narrative realizes that sidelining her is horrible - even when Nadia and Mateo don't - and is clearly angling to let her be noticed by book three.

If there was one thing I didn't like about SPELLCASTER, it was the villain point of view.  I would've preferred learning the information in those scenes when Nadia did instead of having it handed to me.  The villain scenes felt like a crutch.  Plus, they took away from the villain.  They were revealed to be so petty and fallible that they didn't seem as formidable as they should have.

But that's a pretty small quibble.  SPELLCASTER is the type of paranormal romance I can gobble down easily.  Friendship and family life balance out the thrill of meeting someone new.  The danger is rarely forgotten and not easily defeated.  And the heroine is willing to trust herself to find a way to triumph.  Also, Gray's twist on spellcasting is really nifty and poetic.  So, when is book two going to be available again?

March 21, 2013

Review: The Girl in the Wall

The Girl in the Wall By Daphne Benedis-Grab
Available now from Merit Press (F+W Media)
Review copy

Ariel and Sera used to be best friends.  Unfortunately, Sera still has to go to Ariel's birthday party because their families are still friends.  At least she gets to see rock star Hudson Winters perform at the over-the-top bash.  Then the party gets interrupted by a group of armed men.  When Ariel disappears, they take the guests hostage - and Sera is the only one who knows where Ariel is hiding.

There's a real sense of danger in THE GIRL IN THE WALL.  People die throughout the novel, beginning to end.  The girls work to keep the body count down, but they're just two unarmed teenagers.  I liked the way Daphne Benedis-Grab combined action and drama.  The predicament is the perfect catalyst for the girls to work through their fight. In particular, Ariel must realize that Sera wasn't being malicious.  What better way than Sera being loyal to her at the possible cost of her own life?

There is a love interest for each of the girls.  Adding in two romances could have been a bit much, but the setting makes it work.  The life-or-death stakes forge bonds between the scared teenagers.  Also, I liked both of the guys.  Hudson is struggling with the difference between his image and his real life.  One of the thugs was coerced and wants to help the girls.  He's a terrific foil to Ariel.

A few aspects of the novel strain credulity.  Much ado is made about the password to a cell phone, needed so the girls can make an emergency call.  Most cells allow emergency calling when the phone is locked.  Disabling emergency calls generally takes about five steps, which is approximately five steps more than your average person is willing to take to disable a useful feature. 

Overall, I thought THE GIRL IN THE WALL was a good thriller in the vein of Caroline B. Cooney.  The mastermind behind the home invasion is obvious, so there isn't much mystery.  But there is action, a few scares, a touch of romance, and strong characterization.  Ariel and Sera's friendship sells the novel.

March 20, 2013

Review: Deep Betrayal

Deep Betrayal Book Two of the Lies Beneath series
By Anne Greenwood Brown
Available now from Delacorte BFYR (Random House)
Review copy courtesy of Audra of The-Society.NET
Read my review of LIES BENEATH

LIES BENEATH wasn't my absolute favorite of the deluge of mermaid books last year (that was THE VICIOUS DEEP), but I enjoyed it quite a bit.  One of my favorite aspects was Calder's slightly inhuman narration.  Getting the paranormal romance through the point of view of the monster is still a twist.  So when I cracked open DEEP BETRAYAL and realized Lily was the narrator, I was a bit disappointed.  I hated myself for being disappointed about that, but it is what it is.

And it did take me awhile to get into DEEP BETRAYAL.  In the beginning, Lily is upset about being separated from her family and Calder, but mostly Calder.  When Calder shows up, she's concerned that he doesn't feel the same way about her as she does him and it only gets worse when he starts hanging out with her father and helping him through the changes in his life.  Did Lily forget to pack her spine when she left?

But then DEEP BETRAYAL started firing on all cylinders.  Lily and Calder start to investigate a series of murders clearly committed by a mermaid.  This requires them to track down both a mermaid of legend and Calder's estranged sisters.  I loved getting another perspective on them.  They're vicious, but there are reasons to pity them.  DEEP BETRAYAL is clear that killing and eating humans is wrong, but when your food is human you're in a tough spot.

Lily also makes an independent investigation into her own nature, following her discovery of her heritage at the end of LIES BENEATH.  She sees the worst that can happen, but can't resist the longing.  It's an interesting dilemma that's glossed over in many paranormal romances I've read.

I'm not gonna lie, the beginning of DEEP BETRAYAL is rough and it's not just because of the change in narrators.  I think if you stick with it, however, it's an excellent sequel to LIES BENEATH and has me salivating for the next book in the series.  I can't wait to see what Anne Greenwood Brown will throw at her protagonists next.

March 19, 2013

Review: Fox Forever

Fox Forever Book Three of the Jenna Fox Chronicles
By Mary E. Pearson
Available now from Henry Holt and Co. BYR (Macmillan)
Review copy

THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX was one of my favorite books when it came out.  It was a perfect storm of things I love in science fiction.  With FOX FOREVER, Mary E. Pearson brings the trilogy to a fitting end. 

Despite the name of the book and series, Jenna Fox is not the main character of FOX FOREVER.  That would be Locke Jenkins, one of her best friends and fellow accident "survivor."  To escape the lab that created him, he promised a Favor.  Now, that Favor is being called it.  It requires him to get close to Raine, the daughter of an important man, and surely you know where that is going.

FOX FOREVER does share a weakness with the other books in the series.  Mainly, that it ends with a chapter about the future that summarizes that the characters did make a difference but you don't get to see the decades of hard work that made that difference.  But while that bothers me, it's a feature of the series, not a bug.  For all that the Jenna Fox Chronicles span centuries, it's a series about the little moments that lead to big decisions in the characters' lives.

The worldbuilding continues to be fantastic.  The Non-pacts, people who aren't citizens, are an enforced underclass.  Locke's mission could mean everything for the rebellion, giving them the means to take things up a notch.  His success could mean everything for a large community, but he could mess everything up by getting too emotionally involved.

I highly recommend the Jenna Fox Chronicles.  If you haven't read them, please don't start with FOX FOREVER.  I think it stands well alone, as Locke's adventure is self-contained, but there's a real sense of payoff to FOX FOREVER.  This is the book where things really get better for the future, things that have needed to change the entire series.  Considering Mary E. Pearson didn't intend to write a sequel to THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, she's done a fantastic job.

March 18, 2013

Five Years!

Today marks the fifth-year anniversary of In Bed With Books.  I'm not sure what to say.  I never expected I'd still be writing this blog in five years when I started it on a whim as a freshman, chilling in my dorm room.  But I have, and it's been five great years. 

Thanks for visiting.

Movie Monday: Win The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey A few months ago I reviewed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Now, thanks to Warner Bros., I have the chance to giveaway a Blu-ray Combo Pack.  The movie comes out tomorrow, March 19, so you can win it almost as soon as you can buy it!

I honestly enjoyed the movie and felt like the backlash was a bit much.  This is your chance to make up your own mind about it - and maybe have a little fun on the app below.

Standard rules apply - US only, no PO boxes, must be 13 years of age or older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 16, 2013

Jane Nickerson: Top Ten Changes I Would Make in Fairy Tales

Strands of Bronze and Gold Today I have a guest blog from Jane Nickerson for you all.  You can read my review of STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD and check out the tag for more information on her new novel.  Her novel may let us in on what she'd change about "Bluebeard," but read on for her solutions for other famous tales.


It’s obvious that there are many problematic aspects in most famous fairy tales. Why must everyone be beautiful? Why is there so much royalty going around? So many poor woodcutters? (Oh, now that I think of it, there probably really were so many poor woodcutters in that day and age.) Why so many childless couples who end up with either doomed or miniscule only children? Most of the problems are explained away because “it’s a magic thing.” However here are ten changes I would make if I were Queen of Fairy Tale Land:

10. The youngest child would not always be the most good-looking and clever, and the step-parent would never be evil, since step-parents have enough problems taking on a ready-made family as it is. But then again, one would hate to make the biological parent evil instead…

9. I would give the bright and beautiful heroine more choices for a love interest. A single prince should not be her only option. By the same token, it’s sad when only one sibling gets matched up. I would introduce the eleven unmatched dancing princesses to the (coincidentally) eleven unmatched princely brothers of “The Wild Swans” princess. That’s eleven options for each of them. If you stir them up, there’s bound to be one that each of them likes…but what if they all want the same one?

8 ½. Seven league boots for everyone!!! It’s only fair.

8. There should be more than three wishes. And the wishes are not allowed to be tricksy. Fairness again.

7. Several fairy tales involve the hero in burglary—The Tinderbox, Jack in the Beanstalk, Aladdin. The idea is that, because the owner of the object is evil, the hero isn’t really a thief. Huh. That doesn’t actually make sense. Therefore, there must be some clever, lawful way for them to get the loot. Gambling (if that’s legal in Fairy Tale land), labor, performing a service for the owner, some sort of trade, etc. Of course then the evil owner would probably try to cheat them out of the object, and then the hero would have to steal it…

6. How can King Midas turn everything he touches into gold and not be gold himself? It boggles the mind.

5. There’s got to be some reason why Little Red Riding Hood can’t tell that her grandmother has a furry face and pointy nose. It could be too dark, except that we need to keep those classic lines—“What big eyes, hands, teeth.” Perhaps the grandmother has some skin disease and needs bandages all over, except for the eyes and mouth. Leprosy? 4 ½. How can the wolf even blow that hard? Are wolves known for lung capacity?

4. Prince Charming has got to be able to recognize Cinderella in some other way than by her shoe size. For one thing, just how miniscule are her feet? Does she teeter about on points like Barbie dolls do? Having a body part that is so different from every other human your age is sort of the definition of a freak. And yet the glass slipper and big-footed stepsisters are such fun components. Maybe Cinderella also develops a sudden skin disease so her feet really are the only way she can be recognized.

3. I don’t want the miller’s daughter in “Rumpelstiltskin” to end up married to the king. He’s a greedy guy who only wants her because she can spin straw into gold. How about she runs off before she has to marry him? And even before she spins any straw or meets Rumpelstiltskin. Except then there’d be no story. A problem.

2. Rapunzel’s hair is simply too long. It would totally get in the way, be absolutely disgusting because it would be crawling with dust bunnies and impossible to wash, and get yanked out of her head if anyone tried to climb up it. Unless, of course, the young man and witch were tiny. Perhaps we could mix together one of the miniscule only children stories with this. Then again, I’ve seen some illustrations for the story that involve special hooks and pulleys to fix the weight problem, but still…Must be magic.

1. Isn’t it icky that the prince kisses Snow White’s corpse? And how long has she lain there supposedly dead, but not rotting and without nourishment? The nourishment thing also causes problems with Sleeping Beauty. Must be magic.

You know, all the solutions I can come up with are so problematic that, in the end, maybe we should continue to say that it’s a magic thing and leave it all as it is.

March 15, 2013

Review: Mila 2.0

Mila 2.0 First in a trilogy
By Debra Driza
Available now from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Review copy

MILA 2.0 is basically two books smushed together into one.  I'm hoping that the second and third books in the trilogy will provide payoff for the first part, because as is drags the book down.

When we meet Mila, she and her mother have moved to a new, more rural town in the wake of a terrible fire that killed Mila's father.  They're raising horses and moving on.  Mila's even made friends, thanks to overtures from popular Kaylee.  Then Hunter moves to town and Mila and Kaylee begin to fight over the hot new guy.  This part of MILA 2.0 feels very familiar and underdeveloped.  Kaylee swings from cartoonishly cruel to caring friend.  Hunter and Mila obviously have a spark, but they're separated after approximately two days of knowing each other.  There's barely anything to pine after!

The book improves by leaps and bounds when Mila and her mother go on the run.  The characters still tend to be thinly drawn.  Her mother, Nicole, has made some tough decisions - decisions that drive MILA 2.0.  Her actions say a lot about her, but she too frequently drops out of the narrative.  She's reduced to a plot device.  General Holland, the big bad, is evil full stop.  I'm pretty sure he kicks puppies on weekends.  Lucas is the most developed character, aside from Mila, and I wish he were the only love interest.  It would mean there were more pages to reveal his character and deepen his relationship with Mila.  As of the end, his true motivation is still unknown, to be revealed in a later book.

I think fans of light science fiction will enjoy MILA 2.0.  There is some interesting meditation on humanity.  The fight scenes are very cool.  And I like Mila herself.  I want her to escape and live a happy, human life.  She's more than her parts.  But I felt like Debra Driza held too much back.  I have the feeling that MILA 2.0 will work much better for me once I've read the sequels.  But right now there are no sequels, and the book is 480 pages.  480 pages is plenty of time to develop characters and ideas.  MILA 2.0 is fun, but shallow.

March 14, 2013

Review: Blind Spot

Blind Spot By Laura Ellen
Available now from Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin)
Review copy

BLIND SPOT came out in October, but I've just now gotten around to it.  It was a difficult read for me.  I wanted to know what happened, but there was a character in particular who made me so mad that I had to keep setting the book down.  Really, that's a compliment to Laura Ellen.  She made me feel, even if I didn't always like what I felt.

BLIND SPOT begins when Roswell "Roz" Hart hears that Tricia Farni's body has been found and she finally starts questioning her own memories and why she can't recall the evening Tricia disappeared in any detail.  The book is then divided in three sections covering before her disappearance, during, and after.  This is no simple mystery.  There are many characters who could've done it and plenty who were capable of it.  BLIND SPOT is populated with some nasty people.

Tricia had problems.  She was battling drug addiction and traumatized by the violence of her past.  There's a reason she and Roz met in Life Skills.  Roz is there because of her vision - she can't see anything dead center.  She doesn't want to be there, however, nor does she want to be partnered with an obvious crazy like Tricia.  There begins a long rivalry between Roz and the Life Skills teacher Dellian.  But things aren't all bad.  Roz starts dating super hot Jonathon and makes friends with Greg and Heather.  Things start getting nuttier, especially after Tricia's body is found.

I'll be straight.  Roz makes some of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen a protagonist make.  I can stomach it because she faces some major consequences for her stupidity.  Ellen does not let her off the hook easily.  But I can see many readers getting frustrated with Roz.  She wants to find Tricia's murder, but her bumbling actions could help the guilty party go free.

I kind of loved how messy BLIND SPOT is.  Every answer leads to more questions.  There is no obvious suspect because there are too many obvious suspects.  It is a story populated by flawed characters.  Even Greg, sweet boy that he is, sometimes acts like a jerk.  However, I think Ellen held back from pushing it too far.  There isn't so much meanness that it leads to despair.  The book really succeeds on the fact that there are people who cared about Tricia and want to find out what happened to her.  It's that small core of love that kept me going through the rough patches.

I think Ellen shows great promise as a writer.  I like that BLIND SPOT is different and not afraid to be abrasive.  I did have to keep some space between me and it at times, but I'm interested in what Ellen will be able to do once she becomes a more polished author.

March 13, 2013

Review: Escape Theory

Escape Theory The first Keaton School mystery
By Margaux Froley
Available now from Soho Teen (Soho Press)
Review copy

Jason Reed Hutchins just committed suicide.  He was popular, rich, intelligent, handsome, and his friends can barely believe that he took his own life.  Devon Mackintosh didn't run in the same circles as Hutch, but she knew him well due to one special, emotionally intimate night back when they were both freshmen.

Now, Devon is a Peer Counselor and the one assigned to support Hutch's closest friends in their time of grief.  Their sessions reveal aspects of Hutch Devon never suspected, but they also make her suspicious about his untimely death.  The more she discovers, the more she's convinced that someone murdered Hutch.  But everyone is a suspect and many know about Devon's obsession.

I liked that the mystery within ESCAPE THEORY is self contained, but that there are hints of a larger mystery at work, one that has to do with the history of both Keaton school and Hutch's family.  I love the development of the school.  It has a drug problem, like most rich kid schools, and there are major privacy issues as the faculty try to get Devon to reveal what was shared during her supposedly confidential sessions.

ESCAPE THEORY definitely tugged on my heartstrings at times.  It goes back and forth between the past and present.  In the present, the mystery unfolds and in the past it's revealed just what happened between Hutch and Devon.  It's painful to learn more about what an awkward-but-charming kid he was and know that he dies young.  But it helps illuminate Devon's motivation and why she can't just dismiss her concerns.  I did like that Devon wasn't solely motivated by justice for Hutch.  She really does try to help her peers even though she hasn't had much training.

ESCAPE THEORY is an absorbing, character-driven mystery.  I highly recommend it to fans of Lisa and Laura Roecker's Liar Society mysteries.  I enjoyed Margaux Froley's debut and look forward to subsequent Keaton School mysteries.

March 12, 2013

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Strands of Bronze and Gold By Jane Nickerson
Available now from Knopf BFYR (Random House)
Review copy

Sophia Petheram grew up poor but happy with her three siblings.  When their father dies, she is invited to live with her wealthy godfather Monsieur Bernard de Cressac.  Thus she goes to live in Mississippi, far from her home in the North, to live with a man she only knew through his extravagant gifts.

Sophie is initially charmed by Monsieur Bernard, who offers her a life of luxury and indolence.  She loves the pretty dresses and excellent food.  However, there is a darkness lurking in Wyndriven Abbey.  There are Monsieur Bernard's many former wives - all redheads like Sophie.  There's his need for control and his temper.  There are the slaves, something the daughter of an abolitionist finds intolerable.  Eventually, Sophie cannot ignore her instincts and she begins to investigate Monsieur Bernard's secrets and assert her own personality.

At first, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD didn't have much to interest me aside from the setting.  I love the fairytale "Bluebeard," but it seemed like the novel was moving so slow.  I loved the descriptions of Sophie's new world and how well Jan Nickerson's prose evoked the oppressive heat of Mississippi, but it felt like nothing was happening.  When a visitor comes to town and helps Sophie find her resolve, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD clicked into place for me.  Suddenly, the novel was working.  Shortly after that moment, I fell completely in love with STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD when something happens to make Sophie realize the difference between idly crushing on Monsieur Bernard and having him return her affections.  It's a creepy, quiet evil in a novel full of more theatric, Gothic evils.

I cannot praise the setting enough.  Nickerson manages to make the pre-Civil War South fairytale romantic and dreamy, but the sort of romance that has edges and dreams that turn to nightmares.  Fitting, since "Bluebeard" is one of the most menacing fairytales I've ever heard.  Nickerson does not pave over history to make the story work, but instead weaves the two together.  Sophie would free all the slaves escape if she could, but she's mostly ineffectual.  She's unfamiliar with the area, has no real power at Wyndriven Abbey, and there's no reason for anyone to trust her when she claims to want to help.  And her efforts for one individual often make things worse for others.

For those familiar with "Bluebeard," STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD will hold few surprises.  Yet it's a story that always has the power to startle because it's so macabre.  And Nickerson does a wonderful job of bringing something new to the tale.  Sophie is not innocently curious, but haunted by her glimpses of Monsieur Bernard's evil and her strange kinship with his wives.

I'm eager to see Nickerson complete her trilogy and transform more fairytales.  STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD will appeal to fans of Sarah Rees Brennan's UNSPOKEN and Donna Jo Napoli's BREATH.

March 11, 2013

Movie Monday: Prometheus

Prometheus I've heard less than stellar things about Prometheus (although Claudia Gray seems to like it), but I still wanted to see it.  The trailers were fantastic and I love both Alien and Aliens.  I haven't seen the other films in the series, due to that hearing less than stellar things thing.

I think Prometheus had one major problem: it's philosophy isn't that interesting.  There is lots of listening to people talk about why humans were created and what their purpose is which is a question many people care about, but it's irrelevant to reality when the movie is proposing the answer lies with giants in space.  Plus, the scientists have zero evidence for believing the aliens are benevolent creators, rather than people who just happened to visit Earth.  And yet that plot takes up almost half of the movie.

Many people forget the pacing of Alien, how long it takes before a facehugger appears and then a guy gets his chest busted open.  The fault in Prometheus is not that the aliens don't appear soon enough, but that what happens before the aliens appear is pseudoscientific nonsense and pseudophilosophical babble.  And Prometheus does improve exponentially once the aliens appear and people start worrying more about survival than the origins of humanity.

The casting is fantastic.  Noomi Rapace is beatific and miles away from her fierce, star-making role as Lisbeth Salander.  Michael Fassbender is strangely inhuman and quietly furious at his own creators.  Charlize Theron manages to make herself a plausible villain despite doing nothing truly villainous and being one of the most competent people in the movie.  (Everyone in Prometheus makes at least one dumb, out of character mistake.  Why is the geologist who maps the cave and can pinpoint his coordinates the one who gets lost?)  And Idris Elba is fantastic as always and injects some real personality into the Prometheus's crew.

Prometheus could be much, much worse.  But as sci-fi horror goes, it is no Alien.  It does not live up to the promise of its trailer.  However, I can fast forward through the worst babbling scenes to enjoy the true scares the second half of the film delivers.

March 8, 2013

Review: The Culling

The CullingBook One of The Torch Keeper
By Steven dos Santos
Available now from Flux (Llewelyn)
Review copy

I like THE CULLING.  I am going to read book two of The Torch Keeper series, no question.  But I'm not going to recommend it unreservedly.  This is a brutal, brutal book.  Sympathetic characters have terrible things happen to them, including death, and they do terrible things as well.  It's violent, gruesome, and there are references to past rape and child abuse.

THE CULLING is, quite often, not a pleasant read.  At the same time, it's a fast-paced thrill ride that doesn't give you much time to dwell on the moral and ethical questions posed by the story.  The pleasure that comes from reading a well-crafted action novel can create quite the dissonance with the deliberate unpleasantness of The Establishment and the government's awful recruitment practice.

Lucian "Lucky" Spark is chosen as a Recruit after being betrayed by someone he trusted with his life.  Recruits must compete to become part of the military and only one can join the Imposer task force.  Failing also means death for two of the Recruit's loved ones - in Lucky's case, his four-year-old brother's life is on the line.  But winning means causing the death of others, many of them no older or even younger than Cole.

THE CULLING has been frequently compared to THE HUNGER GAMES.  And yes, there are undeniable similarities.  But one of the major differences is that much more time is spent getting to know the game's players.  None of Lucky's competitors are wholly unsympathetic, even if one of them does end up playing the role of the villain.  In fact, they're generally likeable people.  And in the case of Digory, Lucky falls in love.

I appreciated that Steven dos Santos didn't try to soften THE CULLING.  Even the novel's most obvious antagonist is a traumatized young man who perceives himself as the betrayed one.  The Establishment is obviously over-the-top evil, but the characters are wonderfully nuanced.  The fight to keep their free will when faced with an ordeal that tries to turn them into emotionless automatons, cogs in a machine.

THE CULLING is a terrific choice for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES looking for something aimed at a slightly older audience.  It's also a good choice for any dystopian fans who are looking for a series without a love triangle.  (There are potential love triangles in THE CULLING, but the romances is all about Lucky and Digory.)  If it's not too brutal for you, it's a good story.  And I'm serious, it was almost too much for me.  I finished THE CULLING very conflicted between how much I was disgusted by some parts and how much I enjoyed other aspects of the novel.

March 7, 2013

Review: The Summer Prince

The Summer PrinceBy Alaya Dawn Johnson
Available now from Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)
Review copy

June lives in Palmares Três, a city in a futuristic Brazil that considers itself the most beautiful city in the world.  It's ruled by matriarchs, with a ceremonial king elected every five years to reaffirm the queen with his death.  June and her fellow young citizens aren't entirely happy with their government.  But the young have even less power in a world where people live to be hundreds of years old.  Enki, the new Summer King, wants to use his death to make a difference.  June wants to make art.

THE SUMMER PRINCE is not a perfect novel.  Gil is June's best friend and Enki's lover, making him pretty darn important to the emotional arc of the novel.  But he simply looks pretty and dances.  His character is never shaded in. Then there's the fact that June's art often seems pretty lame to me.  I have to admit, performance art is not my thing, and June leans to the performance side.  Things like her tree of light, pictured on the cover, and a portrait of her stepmother come to life in my mind, but some of her more important works seem more laughable.  Then there's the fact that Alaya Dawn Johnson is balancing a lot: art, family, friends, class, politics.  THE SUMMER PRINCE can swing wildly in focus.

But I really, truly enjoyed THE SUMMER PRINCE.  It has a lot in common with the dystopian trend, but it's more closely aligned with science fiction.  There's hacking, robots, genetic modification, and debate about how much is too much when it comes to blending man and machine.  Johnson clearly thought about the details of how her world worked.  She does manage to make it at least somewhat plausible that a city would practice regular blood sacrifice.  (And that is no mean feat.)  There's also a nice blend of familiar and unfamiliar social mores.  Some people are rich, some aren't.  Teenage pregnancy is even more ostracized.  Bisexuality is no big thing.

June is a terrific main character.  She's got a long way to go, as some of the other characters point out.  She's self centered and arrogant, although her experiences help her to think more about her world and empathize with other people.  She's consumed by her passion for art, but often out of touch with her own motives.  At the beginning of THE SUMMER PRINCE, she's a brat.  But working with Enki and being thrust into politics forces her to mature.  I did like the brief glimpses into Enki's point of view, though I found them confusing at first.  (I read the Netgalley Kindle ARC and the formatting was atrocious, so those bits may not be confusing at all in the final book.)

I think THE SUMMER PRINCE will satisfy science fiction and dystopian fans.  THE SUMMER PRINCE is filled with vivid, sensuous images and the inescapable tension between young and old, progress and tradition.  June lives in Palmares Três, a city on the brink of rebellion, and she may be the person to push it over the edge.

March 6, 2013

Review: The Holders

The Holders Book One of the Holders series
By Julianna Scott
Available now from Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot)
Review copy

Becca's younger brother Ryland hears voices.  She doesn't believe he's crazy and has spent a great deal of time and effort protecting him from being committed.  When another offer comes from a special school she's prepared to ignore it.  But St. Brigid's is a school for other gifted people, known as Holders.  Becca decides to let her brother go, as long as she can also attend in order to protect him.  The only catch is that the headmaster Jocelyn is the father who abandoned Becca and Ryland when they were babies.

I enjoyed how debut author Julianna Scott developed the magic system of her world.  The Holders are not all powerful and often have one, small ability.  All Holders have a weakness and none can control their magic without training.  I enjoyed how well thought out the magic was, although I felt THE HOLDERS slowed down a bit too much at times in order to explain how everything worked.  There is, of course, a chosen one and there's little surprise who that chosen one is.

THE HOLDERS feels very much like the first book in the series.  There is a lot of set up and not much action until the climax.  There's no chance of the Big Bad making even a brief appearance and his only minion on the scene is fairly minor.  That doesn't mean the action at the end isn't suitably exciting, but some might be disappointed that very little of THE HOLDERS is driven by magical hijinks.  Most of the conflict stems from Becca's relationship with her father and her growing attraction Alex, one of the teachers at St. Brigid's.

I'll admit that I was slightly uncomfortable with the central romance.  Alex isn't that much older than Becca, but it's a significant set of years.  Plus, he's very much her teacher.  Becca's currently between college and high school and can thus focus on learning about magic and Alex is the one to teach her.  I don't feel that Becca was manipulated into the relationship or that she's too immature for it, but I definitely wasn't into it.

I was absorbed by THE HOLDERS when I read it.  I'll always love detailed magic systems and magic schools.  I can forgive any number of faults for those qualities, and Scott's writing is more than adequate.  There are a couple of scenes where the sensory description if off-the-charts amazing, most notably when Alex is using his power.  I'm sure to be back for book two.

March 5, 2013

Review: The Runaway King

The Runaway King Book Two of the Ascendance Trilogy
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Available now from Scholastic Press
Review copy

Warning: THE FALSE PRINCE has a bit of a twist, and I'll try to avoid it, but  be wary of reading this review if you haven't read the first book.

Jaron is now the king of Carthya.  War is imminent.  There are few people that he can trust - even fewer in positions of power.  He must marry Amarinda, but he neither knows nor loves her.  She's not very excited about it either considering the fact she cared for his deceased older brother.  When the pirates threaten Jaron, his regents decide he must go into hiding.  Jaron decides to go into hiding with the pirates themselves to take them apart from the inside.

THE RUNAWAY KING has more action than THE FALSE PRINCE.  THE FALSE PRINCE had quite the finale, but most of the book was a tense build-up to the climax.  The structure of THE RUNAWAY KING is entirely different.  Most of the familiar characters are back, though many of them are far less important than they were in the first book.  This, the middle book in the trilogy, is really Jaron's show.  He's making his bid for power and he'll only keep the crown if he can pull it off.  Also, it's his show because he's too dumb to trust his real friends.  (Luckily, they trust him.)

My favorite part of the novel was when Jaron fell in with an Avenian thieves' camp.  Jennifer A. Nielsen did a wonderful job of developing Carthya in the first book and she used the second book to give a glimpse of the Avenian perspective.  It's not very nuanced since this is a middle grade series, but I appreciated that not all of the Avenians were terrible, irredeemable people.

I think fans of THE FALSE PRINCE will be very satisfied with THE RUNAWAY KING and eager to read the third and final book in the Ascendance Trilogy.  Nielsen keeps the pages turning.  THE RUNAWAY KING is full of danger, Jaron staying alive through a combination of his cleverness and his more physical abilities.  And just when it seems like he'll be triumphant, things boil over.

Nielsen's classic style of fantasy appeals to me now just as much as it would have when I was younger.  The Ascendance trilogy is perfect for fans of Megan Whalen Turner (though it does skew a little younger).  It has derring-do, suspense, epic battles, and a touch of romance and friendship.  It's full of action, but it's action driven by the memorable characters.

March 4, 2013

Movie Monday: John Dies at the End

John Dies at the EndThis Book is Full of SpidersJohn Dies at the End

I can't wait to see John Dies at the End, although at this point I'll probably have to rent it.  I was late writing this post because I was too busy reading THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS, the sequel.  Both books are by David Wong, of Cracked, real name Jason Pargin.  The movie adaptation is directed by Don Coscarelli, the guy who directed cult favorite Bubba Ho-Tep.  It's been getting decent reviews, and I like the book.  It's a messily structured novel about eldritch horrors and two guys who like their penis jokes.

March 3, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold on Polyvore

Strands of Bronze and Gold I told ya'll a little last week about Random Buzzers.  I did mention the author visits, didn't I?  Jane Nickerson, author of STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD, will be visiting March 11-15th.  You can submit questions to her forum thread for a chance to win an ARC!  You have through next Sunday to ask her a question and win.  (You can ask a question after that, but you won't be able to win a copy of the book, and you know you want a copy.)

This week I whipped up a set on Polyvore to represent STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD.  I discovered that I don't spend enough time on Polyvore to be very good at it.  We've all got different talents, right?

See it on pinterest!
I got a few dresses for the more modern girl in there, but they both have the plunging décolletage Monsieur Bernard prefers.  The bronze Docs clearly represent practical shoes for wandering around the nearby woods.  Obviously.  There's a swan boat, a braided bracelet, holy men, and an abbey in the novel.  I don't know why I put a fancy shoe there.  Does one need a reason for fancy shoes?

Are you intrigued?

March 2, 2013

Guest Blog: Teen Writing Conference Goes Virtual

You shouldn’t judge a book by the age of its author. After all, one of the most well-known pieces of literature was written by a 13-year-old girl barely out of grammar school. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been published in nearly seventy languages and has sold tens of millions of copies.

I’ve been writing for twenty years. Longer than that if you count my 7th grade research paper on the Lochness monster—which you really should because it was an EXCELLENT report. Regardless, when I see at what level some teens write, I feel intimidated. Teenagers are phenomenal writers. Their creativity and drive is amazing.

This has become even more obvious to me ever since I became involved with the Teen Author Boot Camp, one of the largest teen writing conferences nationwide. For the last three years, this Utah-based conference gathers some of the smartest teenagers and most talented published authors together. This year will be even better because the conference is going virtual.

The Live Broadcast of Teen Author Boot Camp will allow teens all over the world as well as teachers, librarians, and writers of any age to attend the conference. The cost for the TABC Live Broadcast is less than $5 for the entire day.

The keynote address by Newbery Winning Author Shannon Hale will be free for anyone to watch. It will be on March, 16th, 2013 at 9 a.m. MST. A subscription to the Live Broadcast costs $4.99 and includes the following:

9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.—Writers Cubed: Welcome

9:15 a.m. to 9:55 a.m.—Keynote by Newbery Award winner Shannon Hale (Princess Academy)

10 a.m to 10:45 a.m.—Tyler Whitesides (Janitors) Class: Imagine and Create.

10:55 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.—Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother) Class: Bad dialogue can kill a story.

12:50 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.—NYT bestseller Kiersten White (Paranormalcy) Class: Plot Like a Villain.

1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.—J. Scott Savage (Farworld) Class: Finding Your Voice.

2:50 p.m. to 3:25 p.m.—Journey to Publication Panel: Agent Amy Jameson & authors Chad Morris, Tess Hilmo, J. Scott Savage, Cindy Bennett

3:35 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.—NYT bestseller Aprilynne Pike (Wings) Class: World-building is the invisible foundation to your book.

 4:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.—Writers Cubed: Winner of the First Chapter Contest and closing remarks.

If you just can’t get enough of TABC, there is also an All Pass Subscription to the rest of the conference (including more than fifteen awesome presentations, including mine--haha). That only costs $9.99 and, as if it wasn’t a sweet enough deal already, you can watch the whole conference whenever you want for an entire year.

To register to watch Shannon Hale’s Keynote for free, visit and click on Livestream. It only takes a minute. While you’re there, check out the other presenters who will be teaching at the conference under the tab "Drill Sergeants."

Stay tuned for details on how to win a subscription to the TABC Live Broadcast for FREE on this blog.

Lois D. Brown is a co-founder of Writers Cubed, a group of Utah writing activists who created the Teen Author Boot Camp in 2010. She is also the author of CYCLES, a top five finalist of The Kindle Book Review 2012. Please visit her website at


I have one subscription to the TABC Live Broadcast (ARV $4.99) to give away.  If the winner would prefer the All-Pass subscription, they will receive a $5 coupon instead. Contest is open internationally to anyone 13 years of age or older.

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March 1, 2013

Review: When Love Comes to Town

When Love Comes to Town By Tom Lennon
Introduction by James Klise
Available now from Albert Whitman Teen
Review copy

This is the twentieth-anniversary edition of  WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN, first published in Ireland in 1993.  It's dated in some ways, particularly in protagonist Neil Byrne's love of Sinead O'Connor.  But it's a book and a story that still has a lot to offer.

Neil knows that he's gay.  He's afraid of what that means for his future, but he's starting to explore what it means for himself.  He tells his best friend, he tells his sister, and he starts to secretly visit a local gay bar.  His actions lead to encounters with a variety of people, from drag queens to an older admirer to gay bashers.

The appeal of WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN is not limited to gay teens or those interested in the history of gay literature.  Neil's ill-fated romance with a self-absorbed jerk reminds me of several friend's early college relationships.  There's always that guy, looking for someone not experienced enough to recognize his tricks, and Neil is not the first person fictional or real to fall for his charm.  People are less afraid of AIDS and medicine has improved, but it's certainly a concern for anyone whose sexually active.  And even if more of the world is accepting, coming out still isn't easy or always safe.  Reading WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN, it's easy to see how far we've come and notice how far we've yet to go.

This is a very dramatic novel and I was often afraid it was going to end up horribly depressing, but I feel that it ended with a note of hope.  Neil not only comes to terms with himself, but also manages to make most of his friends and family come to terms with his identity.  He's the poetic, introspective type and kind of pessimistic, despite his sporty credentials, but that doesn't make him a delicate flower.  He grows into himself quite well.

I hope a new generation will enjoy WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN.  I enjoyed it and I certainly have no nostalgia about it.  (It came out when I was four.  I'm not that old.)  It will probably appeal to fans of contemporary as well as historical fiction, since it was contemporary when it was written.  And honestly, 1990 wasn't that long ago.  (My birthday is approaching so sometimes I feel like I am that old.)

The introduction by James Klise (LOVE DRUGGED) is informative and adds helpful context to WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN. 


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