July 31, 2008

Fashion Week Day Four: Jennifer Banash

Fashion Week's second guest is Jennifer Banash, author of the ELITE series. In addition to writing, she's the co-founder of Impetus Press. She confesses her greatest fashion weakness, one which many girls can probably relate to!

Read my review of THE ELITE here and comment to win a copy.



Everyone who knows me knows I’m a total clothes horse. But as much as I love my wardrobe, I hold a special place in my heart for two things: Bags and shoes. Oh, give me a new pair of stilettos as a present and I’ll probably do your laundry for you and cook you dinner. I’ve been known to take out the trash wearing 4 inch heels, and don’t hesitate to bring out my Donald J. Pliner or Rafe NY bags for a trip to the grocery store to buy fabric softener. As a result I have too many pairs of shoes to count, and some really nice purses!

As some of you may know, I wrote the third ELITE book SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE in Paris, which was a real challenge to my work ethic. Paris is, hands-down, my favorite place in the world, and when I’m lucky enough to be there, all I want to do is indulge the senses. There’s something about the city that demands it: The street markets overflowing with produce so brightly colored that it makes tomatoes seem like rubies, the smell of fresh coffee everywhere, soft, ripe cheeses shining whitely under a gray sky, and the sight of impeccably turned out French women hurrying home with long baguettes underneath one arm makes my heart sing, and, above all can cause me to take very long lunches and ignore my writing for days on end while I people watch at sidewalk cafes, and drink copious amounts of red wine –usually while admiring the new, Parisian acquisitions south of my ankles :)

And on one of those days, I paid a visit to the ultra-modern Marc Jacobs store in the Palais Royal, hoping to get my hands on a bag that I knew had been sold out in my neck of the woods for some time—the Pan Am bag. Usually when I’m in France, I like to shop in little boutiques like Colette, on the Rue Saint-Honore, where I can find designers and styles not readily available in the Midwest, but that day I was on a mission. I walked into the hushed, cool quiet of the store, hoping that it would be there—a simple vinyl bag in blue with Marc Jacobs written in flowing script in white on one side, and the long-defunct Pan Am logo on the other, calling up images of a time when air travel was still a luxury, when it was—dare I say it—still a bit glamorous. I gasped when I saw that not only did they have the blue, but ALSO the white version with black writing! So retro. So chic. And like everything Marc Jacobs does, so hip it almost hurt.

Of course I bought both :) They are the perfect weeked/gym/evetything bags—big enough for your laptop, some books, and a change of clothes, it’s rare that I leave the house these days without carrying on of them over my shoulder. To wear them reminds me of those blissful three weeks in the city I adore, when all I needed to do was write my chapters for the day, then knock off and enjoy a leisurely lunch, a stroll in a gorgeous park, window shopping, or club hopping with my friend Manu, who manages one of the biggest nightclubs in the city where you can dance until dawn, then order up some fabulous breakfast in the club’s adjoining restaurant . . .

So, what accessories do YOU love? Do you have a pair of shoes, a bag, or maybe a piece of jewelry that has special meaning to you?

P.S. I also bought the white Pan Am messenger bag for my boyfriend’s sister. It just seemed like the right thing to do, no? :)



Don't forget to leave a comment on this guest blog to receive an extra entry to win THE ELITE.

July 30, 2008

Fashion Week Day Three: The Elite

By Jennifer Banash


From Normal, Illinois to the Upper East Side – Casey’s made quite a move and she’s not sure how to adjust. She’s armed with Abercrombie and American Apparel, but soon realizes she’s out of her depth. She feels how much she doesn’t fit in the first time she meets Madison Macallister, Phoebe Reynaud, and Sophie St. John. But Sophie and Phoebe kind of like her and talk Madison into a makeover. However, Casey is attracting attention from Drew Van Allen, Madison’s on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Madison and Drew are currently in an off-period due to a disaster on their last date, after which they separated from the summer. Madison thinks Drew will come right back to her, and he would if they didn’t keep awkwardly messing things up with each other. Their relationship is realistically rough. I also appreciate that they are not actually dating when Casey and Drew discover their attraction. I do find it hard to cheer for a character who is trying to steal another person’s boyfriend.

Sophie and Phoebe get their own character arcs as well. Phoebe, like Casey, is facing a problem normal to teenagers. She listens nightly to her parents fighting, comforting her sister Bijoux and wondering when they’ll finally divorce. Sophie thinks her biggest problem is adjusting to her older brother moving back into the house, but her parents drop a bombshell on her. Her storyline is probably the most far-fetched in THE ELITE. Like her, I cannot understand why her parents choose to keep the secret from her for sixteen years. It’s hurtful.

One of THE ELITE’s strong points is the fact that it possesses more realism than most of the mean girl/clique books currently on the market. For one thing, Jennifer Banash mentions sale racks. Yes, the characters still have ridiculous amounts of money but they acknowledge how expensive designer clothes can be and thus don’t fear the sale rack. It’s about the quality of the clothes and how they look on you, not the current trend.

I also like Drew more than the love interest in most of the books. He’s a bit of a geek at heart, only polished by Madison and then some travel abroad. He likes museums and foreign films. C’mon, who doesn’t like a boy who likes Almódovar? And while everyone likes a villain, Madison isn’t over-the-top evil. She’s confident and can be mean, but she’s also just a girl who doesn’t know how to talk to the boy she likes.

Some of THE ELITE’s twists are easy to see coming, but it’s still a fun ride. I enjoyed Banash’s first foray in YA literature and I’ll be back for IN TOO DEEP. You can find out more at The Elite site or at Banash's MySpace.


Comment on this entry to be entered to win a copy of THE ELITE! Come back tomorrow for a guest blog by Jennifer Banash.

July 29, 2008

Fashion Week Day Two: Maryrose Wood

Our first Fashion Week guest author is Maryrose Wood. In addition to writing YA novels she's also written for the theatre. She's got a blog about the great summer dilemma: what to wear to the pool. (Being rather pale myself, I absolutely agree with her.)

You can find my review for HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS and enter the contest here.


How I Found the Perfect Bathing Suit (hint: it rhymes with fettucine!)

By Maryrose Wood

Anyone who has ever had to go anywhere dressed in clothes — and this is pure wild conjecture on my part, but I’ll assume that includes most of you out there in blogland — knows the following fact about fashion: the Holy Grail of outfit shopping is not prom dress shopping (an activity which looms large in my book, HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS, and includes some comical interference from the faery realm).

Nor is it back-to-school shopping. It is not even wedding dress shopping.

It is bathing suit shopping.

I’m wearing my bathing suit right now. That’s because I’m writing this at the neighborhood pool where my son has taken up full-time residence for the summer. He swims, he eats, he plays Dungeons and Dragons. This goes on for eight hours a day, every day. I wish I had such powers of concentration.

He’s also in his bathing suit. I’m surrounded by people in bathing suits. Little girl bathing suits with built-in ballerina skirts. Big boy bathing suits with pictures of skulls and flames and various intimidating military insignia. Teen boys in baggy board shorts, teen girls in teeny bikinis, moms in Speedos, grandmas in voluminous skirted numbers.

Let’s not forget the dads. They’re here too, in their less-baggy board shorts and mirrored sunglasses. Today there are no man-Speedos on display, thank goodness. However, I notice that many of the dads are sporting tats.

What’s that all about? Did I miss the memo where all the middle-aged dads went en masse to the tattoo parlor after soccer practice and before the PTA meeting? They got their ears pierced years ago, that’s old news. Now they have shaved heads and tats.

I’m not complaining; it’s just an observation. It’s a cute look with the BabyBjörn strapped on, especially if the baby is also bald and maybe wearing a temporary Hello Kitty tattoo on its chubby little forearm.

But back to bathing suits. My bathing suit may not have a built-in ballerina skirt, but it’s a sterling example of what is possibly the most important fashion breakthrough since the death of pantyhose. People, I speak of the tankini.

Say it. Tankini. It’s fun to say. All ini words are fun to say. Ini words practically ooze with fun. Bikini. Martini. Isabella Rosselini. I defy you not to be having the time of your life in the presence of those three items.

The tankini, in case you were in the tattoo parlor when this information was revealed, is a two-piece bathing suit that looks like a one-piece. Or, viewed another way, it is a bifurcated one-piece with all the easy functionality of a two-piece.

In other words, while wearing a tankini you can go to the bathroom without stripping naked in a skeezy public restroom or strangling yourself with wet spandex. This is huge. This is like the moon-landing of bathing suit concepts.

The mere addition of “ini” turns this fearsome tank:

into an adorable Land’s End tankini:

My tankini came from a great women’s sports catalog called Athleta. When I ordered it I decided to throw caution to the winds and embrace the duality of my tankininess by getting a different color top than bottom. Radical, I know!

The outcome of my daring fashion experiment? Success! It’s so mix and match! My two-tone tankini veritably SCREAMS that it’s more than a mere one-piece. It REVELS in its lack of consistency! Like that beloved relic of Americana, separation of Church and State, this newfound separation of Top and Bottom has done wonders for my own personal constitution.

I admit it. My tankini makes me want to visit the restroom. Often. Just because I can.

A bikini is all very well on a cake, but it provides little in the way of sun protection!

Now, I know some of you are rolling your eyes and saying: Maryrose, if the restroom convenience factor is such a big deal to you, why haven’t you been buying normal two-piece bathing suits all along? To you I say – are you mad? Some of us are very, very pale. Our skin does not ever want to see the sun unless absolutely necessary, even when we’re spending an entire summer poolside in a bathing suit.

Also, some of us write books for a living, and I am here to tell you that writing books is not a terribly aerobic or tummy-toning activity. It shows, people. It shows.

A tankini is not the only golden road to happiness, of course. For someone like me, who is adverse to the sun and prefers to avoid unflattering bikinis as well as inconvenient one-piece swimwear, there is another very good option, which is to stick to nighttime skinny-dipping at after-hours nude beaches.

If someone can point me in the direction of this kind of escapade, I am so there. I’ll even apply a temporary Hello Kitty tattoo for the occasion, and only my moonlit companions will know where it lurks.

In the meanwhile, my tankini and I wish you a rollicking and abundantly sun-screened summer!



“...it will capture your interest and probably your heart.” — Kliatt* (asterisk denotes "exceptional material")
“...[a] swiftmoving valentine to musical theater lovers..” — ALA Booklist (online)
“...Teens will enjoy the fast pace and humor in this uplifting novel.” — School Library Journal
“...Wood’s jangling, crescendo-building prose captures all the harmony of a hit Broadway number..." — Kirkus

“...I literally could not stop reading this book...I was thrilled to see the return of one of my favorite heroines...hilariously entertaining....a seriously fantastic book...." — Teen Book Review
“...full of sarcastic, witty humor, more hysterical magical beings, and meddling faeries...Wood has created an absolutely wonderful, sparkling read.” — The Compulsive Reader
“...A must for summer reading... Good luck stopping until you finish it. I know I couldn’t.” — Flamingnet, Top Choice Award
“...Morgan returns as funny as ever...This book is completely irresistible and unforgettable...There was nothing that could've made me put it down.” — Teens Read Too, Gold Star Award

Don't forget to leave a comment on this post for an extra entry to win HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS!

July 28, 2008

Fashion Week Day One: How I Found The Perfect Dress

By Maryrose Wood


Morgan Rawlinson recently discovered she’s the goddess Morganne. It led to a number of interesting adventures in Ireland, but she has not had contact with any faeries since returning to Connecticut. She’s learning to drive, helping to plan the junior prom, and trying to explain to her little sister Tammy whether or not Santa is real. Then Colin, her guide and crush from Ireland, comes to UConn for a robotics competition. Unfortunately, Morgan’s favor made him a target to the faeries.

Morgan immediately sets to work, wanting to free Colin before the faeries exhaust him to death. It’s fun to watch her go for it because she’s inventive and puts the pieces together quickly – no missing obvious solutions. At the same time, the riddles she's faced with aren't overly easy to solve. (Rereading the novel, I even discovered meaning to a clue I missed the first time! I love it when there's more to find the second time around.)

The fantasy elements blend well with the other story threads. They even work with her parents fighting over lawn gnomes! (I'm on the mom's side. Yard ornaments are not my thing.) Nor is it my thing when authors use magic in their novel when it serves no purpose to the story, so it's nice to see how Maryrose Wood makes it mesh well with a high school girl's ordinary life in Connecticut.

I'm also partial to faerie stories, and I like Wood's faeries. They don't really care what happens to humans but they aren't randomly vicious, and they've got a wicked sense of humor. Try not to laugh when Morgan meets them at the grocer's. She also finishes the book with a few revelations that make me hope for another book.

For those who haven't read WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT and fear they'll be lost, don't be. Wood introduces past story elements clearly so that HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS can easily stand on its own. Of course, you'll still want to pick up the first book to read more about Morgan and Colin.

HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS is a light-hearted and comedic novel that works well as a faerie tale and as a school story. Plus, it features a dress any girl would feel fabulous in! (As well as some clothing choices that aren't for the faint of heart . . . )

HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS is in stores now, along with her other new book, MY LIFE: THE MUSICAL. You can find out more on Wood's website or her MySpace.

Leave a comment on this post for an entry to win HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS. Comment on tomorrow's guest blog by Maryrose Wood for an extra entry. Don't forget, there are contests all week!

July 27, 2008

Fashion Week is here!

Welcome to In Bed With Books Fashion Week! For this event, there are going to be three authors guesting on the blog.

JULY 29: Maryrose Wood

JULY 31: Jennifer Banash

AUGUST 2: Melissa Walker

All of them wrote wonderful pieces, so be sure to stop by for all three!

In addition to these special guests, there is going to be a giveaway. Three people will win either HOW I FOUND THE PERFECT DRESS, THE ELITE, or VIOLET IN PRIVATE. These giveaway copies were graciously provided by the Penguin imprint Berkley Jam.

The rules for the giveaway are:

1. To enter, leave a comment on the review of the book.
2. To receive another entry, leave a comment on the author's guest blog (posted the next day).
Closed: Maryrose Wood, Jennifer Banash, and Melissa Walker
3. One extra entry can be received by posting about the contest. To receive this entry, link to your post here and tell me which book you want to put the third entry towards. If you don't tell me I'll choose for you.

All three contests close midnight Sunday, August 3rd. Winners will be announced on the 4th.

July 24, 2008

Sisters of Misery

By Megan Kelley Hall

Sisters of Misery

SISTERS OF MISERY looks innocuous, with a colorful cover and FRENEMIES-esque tagline: Best friends – or worst enemies? Don’t ignore the title. This is a dark tale, the familiar story of the dark depths in a seemingly charming small town. SISTERS OF MISERY incorporates some supernatural elements, and I expect that that aspect of the story will be expanded in THE LOST SISTER.

Maddie Crane’s social climbing mother couldn’t be more thrilled that her daughter belongs to the Sisters of Misery, a secret society at the local Hawthorne Academy. Kate Endicott, the leader, is a vindictive girl, spoiled by her family’s money and influence over the small Massachusetts town of Hawthorne. Maddie obeys her despite her cruelty until Maddie’s aunt and cousin come to live with the family. They’re beautiful, bohemian, and outsiders.

Cordelia LeClaire disdains Kate and her crowd, including Tyler – Kate’s boyfriend who has a habit of flirting with her. She makes no effort to fit in, and Maddie is swayed by her self-confidence and the fact she’s a decent human being. Then something goes terribly wrong. Cordelia disappears and Maddie can only remember half of the night. As Maddie seeks the truth and discovers how far Hawthorne’s corruption runs, she finds allies in her cousin’s few friends.

SISTERS OF MERCY reaches a satisfying conclusion that resolves many of the smaller mysteries, and one of the larger ones, while still leaving much to the next book. Megan Kelley Hall excels at creating the perfect atmosphere for the story – it’s dark and threatening, with a palpable sense of dread. Even before Cordelia goes missing the reader can sense how much Maddie doesn’t see about her life.

However, the characters are somewhat shallow. Kate Endicott is Evil. Hannah, Bridget, and Darcy are mostly weak sheep, although Bridget has one very interesting moment. Mr. Reed and Finnegan O’Malley both seem interesting and are likeable enough, but we don’t seem enough of either. Actually, most of the characters are interesting. It’s just that we only get to know one side of them, which is strange in a book about secrets and deceit.

Some of the plot seems a little bit like a soap opera, but it works. SISTERS OF MISERY feels more like a horror story than anything else, even without the supernatural elements. I do hope they are expanded upon, as I do intend to read the next book, as they feel somewhat superfluous in this one. They add to the atmosphere, but don't factor much into the plot. (They seem to while you're reading, but afterwards you realize very little magic actually occured.)

SISTERS OF MISERY hits the streets on July 29th. You can find out more at Hall's website and blog.

NEXT WEEK: Fashion week! There will be guests blogs and a giveaway, so be sure to stop by!

July 20, 2008

Introductions and Alex Garland

Hi, everybody. It's been a while since I was announced, but here I finally am. As Livi told you, I am Deimyts (pronounced however you like) and I attend nineteen different colleges. I commute to a different one every day. My taste in books tends more towards fantasy than anything else, although classic literature is beginning to give it a run for its money, and I will usually read anything you put in front of me, from Frankenstein to the back of a box of Frosted Flakes. I don't know how frequently I'll be able to post reviews here; I tend to get distracted very easily, and will often stop in the middle of one book to start another, which sometimes leads to problems finishing any of them unless I sit down and read one straight through in a couple of sittings. I am also constantly buying books and then forgetting about them for months, which brings me somewhat closer to the point of this post.
Half Price Books sent me a weeks worth of coupons recently, an unashamed marketing ploy that has so far worked like a charm. Yesterday after school (yes, I'm in summer school, that's part of the reason I've remained a non-entity here for so long) I stopped by their store to use one of them, and while I was browsing I came across this tiny little book called The Coma, apparently written by the same man responsible for 28 Days Later, a movie I have never seen and so couldn't use to judge him. It was short and it looked kind of interesting, so I started reading and ended up finishing it in the store less than an hour later. It seemed like a good book for a first reveiw, as it was neither great nor terrible, and the title even works as a sort of metaphor for the hiatus between Livi's announcement and my actual debut.
The story is about a man named Carl, who tries to prevent a robbery and gets beaten into a coma for his efforts. When he wakes up, the inconsistent behavior of the world around him and the fact that he can't remember intimate details about his own life force him to conclude that the waking up itself was a dream, and he is still unconscious. If he wants to wake up for real, he's going to have to find a way to force himself out of his coma from within the dream.
Now, I liked the idea and its potential for thought-provoking goodness, and it was not poorly written, but if it had been much longer, I'd have put it back on the shelf and never thought of it again. There was something missing, a lack of emotion on the part of Carl that left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied. As he searched his dream world for something that could jar him back to life, Carl remained for the most part entirely calm and rational, leaving the reader feeling detached and only sort of interested in his efforts, instead of cheering him on in a rabid frenzy. In a way, the detachment fit with the dreamlike atmosphere, but if I had to choose one or the other, I'd prefer more emotional impact over ambiance. I already know he's in a coma; show me why I care.
There were some parts that stood out: when Carl goes into a bookstore, for example, and realizes he can't remember enough of the content to make any of the books readable. As a bonus, he managed to get a teensy bit angry with the clerk, which made the whole episode better. The climax was not too shabby either, but once again a lack of emotion kept it from being as good as it could have been.
I think if it were trimmed down a bit, and if Carl were more panicky and unstable (I mean, even when he was losing his mind he sounded very calm about it!), then it could be a pretty neat short story, the kind that makes you sit back after you're done and just ponder what you've read for a while. Instead, all it called forth from me was a mental shrug. If you're a fast reader with nothing else to do, I'd say it's worth checking out of the library or doing as I did and reading it in-store, but I wouldn't spend money on it.
Also, tomatoes are awesome.

July 17, 2008

Interview with Brooke Taylor

I enjoyed UNDONE so much, I asked the author for an interview. She obliged me and now here it is! Enjoy learning more about Brooke Taylor.

Don't forget to read my review.



Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a debut author, but I’ve been writing all of my life. I’ve always been interested in YA books or adult books with young adult characters, so it’s kind of natural to be writing them now. I did try my hand at writing a book with adult characters, but ended up writing an additional 300 pages of the story before the story where the characters met and fell in love as teenagers. It is my favorite part of the book by far.

Other than writing, I live in the country with my horses, two cats that love to play book editor and rip up my pages, and two amazing dogs Kodiak and Roxy. I love going to the lake to SeaDoo. I never turn down Mexican food. And will eat anything that comes with icing. Sometimes I only eat the icing.

How does it feel to be a debut author?

It’s great, sometimes overwhelming and exhausting trying to figure out all the ins and outs, but the amazingly cool stuff outweighs all the stress.

Why did you choose to write young adult fiction?

It wasn’t really a choice. I never sat down and thought about what I should write, the stories I’m interested in are the ones where experiences are new and mistakes are made and learned from. I’m just not as excited by adults doing boring adult things, I guess because I am an adult and I’m often doing boring adult things.

You capture the high school atmosphere well in UNDONE. What aspect of Serena's high school experience was least like your own? (Aside from the whole Kori thing, of course.)

Thank you! I attended both a small private high school and a large public one, so I feel pretty comfortable talking about any high school experience. At both schools I remember a lot of things being learned from behind the bathroom stall doors, and I remember the teachers I dreaded and the ones that I loved, I remember the cool and brave person I could be with my close friends and the gawky, shy one I became with strangers. Probably the aspect that was least like my own experience was Doc Ramsey’s class. I had great teachers, but it wasn’t until college that I had a class like his.

I'm most like Lexi - the good girl who wants her friends to follow the rules. Which character were you most like in high school?

I was probably most like Poor Josh, LOL. Only I had slightly better hair. Of the girls, though, Serena is the closest to me. I was the introverted one with the wild and brash best friends and who was always after the older guys.

Which character would you most like to be like?

I’d most like to be like Cole. She’s not a girly girl or even a pretty girl, she just has this coolness about her that she isn’t even aware of and she gets the guys with just a look. That would be an awesome skill to learn.

Serena's dealing with a number of tough issues in UNDONE. Were any parts of the novel hard to write?

The toughest parts to write were the things that happened in Kori’s past. I just cringe at what her father did to her. I also had a hard time writing about Serena’s fights with her mother. I love my mom and I have a wonderfully supportive family, to be fighting with the only family member you have would be an awful life.

Did you know Serena would be facing so much when you started UNDONE?

No, but I did know what high school is like. You never have just one big issue to tackle; you have several things going on all at once—if not your own dramas, then your friends’. I think it is unrealistic to have a book or movie where the character only has to get their one big issue under control and then life will be perfect. It’s never that simple.

Do you like the cover?

I love the cover and I think the publisher (Walker) did an amazing job finding a model that looked so much like Serena. I couldn’t be more excited by it.

Do you have a soundtrack for UNDONE?

I mention several songs throughout the book and they form the “soundtrack” I have listed on my website. Music was such a huge part of my teenage years, I loved learning about new bands and would’ve totally killed for an iPod back then! You teens have it so good, you have no idea. We had carry crappy cassette tapes around. I still have my mix tapes from back then—the ones with songs I had to record off the radio. Now that was an art form, recording from the radio!

Finally, what would you say to people to convince them to read your novel? (That is, if they don't believe me they should read it.)

Well, the people who probably need convincing are probably the people who shy away from edgy books (you know books that have difficult subject matter, raw language, the word sex in them, etc.) and my guess is that most of those people are parents. The thing is, books like Undone are really a great place to learn what your teen is facing on a day to day basis, you’ll understand more and you may even find it easier to talk about some of the issues. So embrace the darkness!


Nothing is ever really finished...
UNDONE (Walker, July 2008)
Nominated for ALA's 2009 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers!

July 15, 2008


By Brooke Taylor


Serena Moore is, for the most part, your average high school student. A couple of years ago her relationship with her mom deteriorated and she doesn't know why or how to repair it. She loves her best friend Kori Kitzler who is both a good and a bad influence. She's a gamer, finding refuge in the programming she can control. Although she wishes fellow computer geek Josh didn't have a crush on her. And that she could talk to Anthony Beck normally.

Brooke Taylor swiftly sets up this high school atmosphere. Serena and her three closest friends are fringe popular, though they think of themselves as outcast, and are somewhere between being good girls or bad girls. Kori's angry and wild and confident. She drinks, she does light drugs, and she sleeps around. But she's got a good heart and works to help Serena find herself even as Serena resists finding herself by simply following Kori. But things change when Kori dies.

Serena thought the only secret in her life was her father's identity. But now she's about to find out how many things Kori kept hidden - the least of which is the attractive shaym. Every revelation allows Serena to understand her more, even as her heart breaks further.

Reading UNDONE reminded me of the first time I read LOOKING FOR ALASKA. I cried, less during UNDONE, but I had errands my mom made me run during a crucial part of the novel. I think it calmed me. But the author slowly made it better, soothing the wound as the characters healed. It's the kind of book that's a little difficult to read in parts because it gets the emotions so right.

Serena, like any teenager, is self-centered. But Taylor fleshes out her world and you can catch glimpses of the journeys other characters are going on - Parker, Marci, Cole, and Lexi especially. All of them are going through difficult times as well. Their peripheral stories interact well with Serena's, allowing the secondary characters to have depth without stealing the show.

Serena and Kori wrote five things to tempt fate in class with their favorite teacher, Kori with thought and Serena carelessly. But in a town called Kismet with a mother named Destiny, fate just might respond. Serena struggles to complete Kori's list but her own haunts her as well. UNDONE is an engrossing tale of relationships, secrets, and self-discovery.

For more information go to her website or blog. Taylor is a member of the Class of 2k8. UNDONE will be released July 22. UNDONE's narrative involves a version of the fascinating site PostSecret.

Watch for my interview with Brooke Taylor coming soon. I loved the book so much I e-mailed her as soon as I finished the novel. Thanks to Midnight Twilight from whom I won a copy.

July 13, 2008

Reviewer Profile

Want to know more about me? Check out this cool profile over at Reviewer X's place. It's chock full of stuff that I thought was hilarious when I wrote it in the middle of the night during Dead Week.

July 7, 2008

HUGE Contest

You might be seeing this post on some other blogs as well, because we’ve came together to give away an awesome prize!!! Stephanie Kuehnert's debut I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone comes out this week on July 8. We want you to pre-order the book now or go and get it when it's officially released. So, we’ve provided some motivation! Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag is the host for this contest, so please send your entries to her.

What you must do:

Get the book and either copy the receipt or take a picture with the book. Send them to Lauren at: Lauren51990@aol.com and that's all you must do to enter!


This contest will end on July 30, with the winner being announced early August, so don't waste any time in getting this book!

Now...the prize:

A WHOLE BUNCH of gift cards, that will be for various bookstores and Itunes, since the book is very music-oriented. These are the current Book Reviewers, including us, who will be giving away a $10 gift card to the winner:

And Another Book Read: Tasha (Barnes N Noble)
Shooting Stars Mag: Lauren
Reading Mania (ElainaReads): Elaina
The Compulsive Reader
Bookluverreviews: Chelsie
The Story Siren: Kristi
B is for Books: Breanna
Teen Troves: Mollie and Ariel (Amazon)
The Corner of Megan's Mind: Megan
Presenting Lenore: Lenore
Writer's Block Reviews: Holly
In Bed With Books: Liviania

If you're counting, that's 12 book sites giving away a $10 card...that means the winner will get 120 bucks in gift cards just by buying ONE book and showing us that he or she did! Not bad, right?

MORE might be added as well in the next few days, so keep checking back to this post to see if the amount goes up...we're waiting to hear back from a couple more people!

July 4, 2008

Death by Bikini

By Linda Gerber


How better to celebrate going on vacation than to write about a fabulous beach read? Linda Gerber's DEATH BY BIKINI will pull you in and leave you eager for Aphra and Seth's next adventure. Like J. F. Lewis, Gerber is cruel and knows it. "Leave you eager" was an understatement. You'll be desperate for DEATH BY LATTE (and it doesn't come out until September)! In fact, my mom's first reaction to the ending was to ask me for the release date of DEATH BY LATTE.

Aphra Connolly lives on an island resort owned by her father. However, things are getting rather more interesting lately. There's a mysterious family, complete with hot teenage boy Seth, a second mysterious guest, and a third guest has been found strangled on the beach. Aphra needs to find out what's happening at the resort before anyone else dies - and so that she knows it is okay to fall in love with Seth.

DEATH BY BIKINI is over two hundred pages, but it feels shorter. Gerber's pacing is fast and furious. I never felt overwhelmed, but the book was over before I knew it. My mother also finished it in a single day, a rare occurance nowadays. But unlike many beach reads, DEATH BY BIKINI has an incredible heroine. Aphra is resourceful, athletic, and intelligent. Her mistakes seem real, rather than events included just to further the plot. Seth spends most of the novel hiding his past so his character is necessarily less developed, but he shows he's brave and caring throughout the novel.

The mystery component of DEATH BY BIKINI is solid. There are clues as to the murderer's identity and purpose, but neither is readily apparent. Plus, while Gerber seeds hints of larger mysteries afoot, she knows allowing some payoff in this novel only makes the next that much more desirable. (There's nothing worse than being handed a bushel of questions by an author and receiving no answers.)

Have a wonderful fourth of July! Enjoy the fireworks (if you live in the United States) and make it an even better summer day with DEATH BY BIKINI, available now. Check out Gerber's website, myspace, and blog. She hosts a Freebie Friday every Friday on that blog, so be sure to stop by today.


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