August 31, 2010

Kailin Gow: On Balancing Action and Romance

Kailin Gow is the author of more than forty books and the founder of the Shy Girls Social Club. You can visit her previous tour stop at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm, as well as Faye's and my reviews of BITTER FROST. She'll visit Books by Their Cover next. Full tour dates are available at the Traveling to Teens site.


On Balancing Romance with Action

I get asked all the time about how to plot a novel so that there is the right amount of action with romance. Most of my novels involve a great deal of action coupled with romance. These elements are necessary in the type of novels I write – books with a strong heroine who usually face extraordinary situations and has to be brave enough to persevere through her situation to survive. I find that my main characters typically lead the way in the romance department, and like in real life, romance happens in the most interesting moments. I tend to have romance in many area of the novel because, to me, life is romantic.

Bitter Frost

In Bitter Frost, where Breena is drawn into the world of Feyland, her entire concept of Feyland starts off in a dream-like romantic state. Prince Kian is her dream guy, and despite his initial coldness, their adventure and trek through Feyland (which is dangerous, yet fascinating), is filled with romance and action throughout.

Rise of the Fire Tamer: Wordwick Games Book 1

In Rise of the Fire Tamer, a series about a group of teenage gamers caught in a world suspended in time, there is plenty of action, but romance abounds because the characters can’t deny the attraction they feel for each other. Going through what Gem, Sparks, Rio, Kat, and Jack goes through; they’re bound to seek comfort and form friendships with each other.


In PULSE, a vampire mystery love story, there is plenty of action and even more romance. A large part of the romance stems from the characters themselves – vampire brothers who are drawn to Kalina, a girl who has a very special destiny. The vampires in PULSE are so romantic, it’s part of who they are.

As far as finding the right balance between romance and action, it is a matter of what feels right for the characters, the plot, and the audience. When it comes together, you know it seems right – just like love.

Review: Bitter Frost

By Kailin Gow
Available now from The Edge Books
Review copy through Traveling to Teens Tours

Bitter Frost

If punctuation errors and such bother you, you'll probably want to skip over BITTER FROST.  I managed to tune most of them out, but BITTER FROST could have used another round of copyediting.  As is, it made the book seem unprofessional.

Breena is a budding conservationalist who doesn't fit in at her high school despite being friends with the hottest guy around, Logan.  He's clearly in love with her, but Breena is willfully ignorant.  Going home from school one day, she spots a Pixie: Delano.  She doesn't know how she knows his name, she just knows he's bad news.  Pretty soon he's attacked and she's been taken to Feyland by Kian, the Winter Prince. Breena is his prisoner, his key to freeing his sister from the Summer Court dungeons.

BITTER FROST moves quickly.  In some ways, that is good.  There's quite a bit of action and the characters don't spend much time dithering and keeping secrets from each other.  Yet the character development moves too fast at points.  Breena seems to adapt to her new life and relationships with ridiculous speed.  While fun, BITTER FROST lacks emotional depth.  When one character dies, I don't really feel anything because the character has so few defining characteristics other than loyalty.

Not much focus is given to the mythology, but I do like the little that Kailin Gow explains in BITTER FROST.  Particularly, I like the idea that human-fairy hybrids are stronger than either race, rather than weaker.  It makes sense that there could be an advantage in having the skills of two races.  It's a nice touch of originality in a story that follows a familiar narrative pattern.

BITTER FROST is also short, which might be why it moves at warp-speed.  It feels like there's a longer, more measured book waiting to get out.  The next book in the series, FOREVER FROST, comes out tomorrow.  I'm interested in reading it to see whether the pacing and character development even out a little.

I enjoyed BITTER FROST, but it felt like the kind of stuff I read on the internet.  Diverting and interesting, but ultimately not a final draft.  Breena also comes close to being a Mary Sue, which anyone who reads internet fic knows is not a good thing.

August 28, 2010

News You Can Use

Leave a Mark Auctions are back. THE EVERAFTER by Amy Huntley is currently at $10.

The Everafter

You have until August 31 to like Scholastic's Facebook page. It costs you nothing, and for every friend they have they'll donate a book to K.I.D.S.. Read more about Kids in Distressed Situations.

(Book bloggers looking to pass ARCs on? Try developing a relationship with a local shelter.)

On a less altruistic note, Harlequin Teen Panel is still looking for members ages 13 to 17. I'm a member of their adult program and it's great fun. More info quoted below.

Members of the Harlequin Teen Panel will participate in fun quizzes and discussions about things like: books, movies, music and websites. In other words, everything that you’re interested in.

This is the place to be if you love to read!
Sign up today to share your opinion about the books you’ve read and the books you’d like to read—as well as other things that help you choose your books.

. . . you’ll get FREE Harlequin® Teen books (approximate retail value of $10-$15 per book ) And I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about them—so get ready to dish!

But the free doesn’t end there because as a panel member, you’ll have the chance to be entered into sweepstakes for cool cash and prizes (if your parent/guardian gave permission for this). I’ve also got exclusive panel discussions where you can chat about your latest fav book or character and meet new friends who are doing the same thing. And you’ll be in the know with our members-only newsletters that will let you know what’s going down and when.

Another e-mail suggestion I received that was on-topic: Top 10 Books With A Cult-Like Following.

ETA 4/29/12: K. I. D. S. has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

August 27, 2010

Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June

By Robin Benway
Available now from Razorbill
Review copy

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

I don't know why, but I don't think Robin Benway is that funny.  Every review of her books mentions how hilarious she is, but her books don't make me laugh.  At least, not so much that I notice it.

It took me awhile to get into THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE.  The book switches between the sisters' points of view and I only enjoyed April at first.  She's the oldest, super uptight, and has been trying to act as a third parent since their parents divorced.  May, conversely, has been acting out and letting her schoolwork suffer since she was closest to their dad.  June just wants to be popular.  I warmed up to June a little by the end, but remained fairly cold to May.

June doesn't have a relationship arc, but April and May do.  April falls for Julian, the boy with the locker next to hers who she didn't speak to until she saved him from a falling light and saw a vision of them making out.  I would've liked them, but as Julian frequently tells her, April acts psycho around him.  It's like the reverse TWILIGHT.  Shallowly drawn boy goes out with a possibly deranged girl.  As for May and Henry, I did like them.  Henry tutors May in European history while they snark at each other.  Their conversations are fairly funny, actually.

Personally, I did like THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE.  I just have an odd resistance to liking it because most people love it and I just didn't feel like it was a love book.  It was amusing enough but forgettable.

Just a quick question:

I read the ARC and was going to check the final before I wrote this review, but never could get ahold of a copy. So I must ask if this gaffe in Chapter 10 was fixed:

He rubbed his hand over his hat. "This is my brother's hat, by the way."

. . . "But I did steal it from my brother when I went to visit him last year."

. . .

"Well, you must be an only child," I said to him. "Seeing as how you have the emotional capability of a gopher."

Julian smirked. "Guilty as charged, except for the gopher part."
I can't decide whether it was a mistake or if Julian lied to April and I'm supposed to read something into that.  And it could be different in the final so I definitely can't analyze it.

August 24, 2010

Mockingjay Release!

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
Happy release day, ya'll!  I'm sure most people aren't actually reading the blogs today because they're too busy reading MOCKINGJAY.

August 20, 2010

Retro Friday Review: The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! Angie includes roundups from participating bloggers in her post every week.

I first became aware of Retro Fridays almost a month ago. Several of the participants were reviewing THE CHANGEOVER by Margaret Mahy. The recent popularity of THE CHANGEOVER can probably be linked to Sarah Rees Brennan's wicked funny review and Justine Larbalestier's equally enthusiastic review. I'm pleased as punched that people are reading about Laura Chant and Sonny Carlisle, because they are an amazing couple. But Margaret Mahy has written tons of books. While some of them don't work for me, THE TRICKSTERS may be even better than THE CHANGEOVER.

That's right.  I like THE TRICKSTERS better.

How much do I like THE TRICKSTERS?
  • I once owned four copies.  One for me, three to constantly loan out.  I think I'm down to one loaner copy.
  • Before I owned these copies, I lent mine to a friend who lived five hours away because it was that important that other people read it.
  • I wrote an essay on it.  This essay was for admission to the academic program I'm now in.  The subject can be whittled down to "Why Reading THE TRICKSTERS Is Just as Important as Reading Plato."
  • No, really.
The Tricksters (Collins Flamingo)

Harry, real name Ariadne, is the seventeen-year-old bookish, quiet daughter lost in a large family.  Most of her excitement comes from secretly writing a torrid romance.  One day on holiday, she jokingly marries the sea to entertain herself and her brother.  The next day, three mysterious brothers show up at the house, using names that clearly came from the bookshelf (Ovid, Hadfield, and Felix).  Notably, they all look like characters from her story.  Also, the three men may all be the ghost of the same person, Teddy Carnival - the mysteriously dead son of the original owner of the vacation home.

As Harry and Felix fall in love, Harry begins to realize her own power.  "I can seem beautiful," she tells someone who dares to threaten her.  Felix gains power from their love as well - and neither of his brothers want that to happen.

THE TRICKSTERS is sexy.  Harry and Felix only have implied sex, but a book doesn't need an explicit scene to be sexy.  Margaret Mahy knows that, and this coming-of-age tale is all about human sexuality without ever being crass.

Mahy also pulls off a Megan Whalen Turner worthy twist when it comes to the family saga side of things.  She hides secrets so well that you don't even know you should be looking for them until they're revealed.  This makes subsequent readings richer, as you realize how Mahy shaped the novel, dropping numerous hints while using Harry's narration to direct your attention elsewhere.

Best of all, Mahy trusts her reader's intelligence.  THE TRICKSTERS is sometimes confusing, as Mahy rarely explains exactly what's going on.  You have to put it together yourself.  Often, you have to make your own decision about what happened.  Her writing is heavy on character and atmosphere, which keeps things moving smoothly even at the parts when you know you don't understand everything yet.  Mahy's best works are rich and decadent feasts.  The themes and action of THE TRICKSTERS demand your attention, and if you give it you will be rewarded.

If you're looking for a sexy and intelligent coming-of-age story cum family saga, look no farther than THE TRICKSTERS.  If that's not what you're looking for, you should read it anyway.

August 18, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday:

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


I am eager to read ROSEBUSH by Michele Jaffe.

From Amazon:

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run.

Everyone believes it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real. But the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane's boyfriend, friends, and admirers come to visit, more memories surface - not just from the party, but from deeper in her past . . . including the night her best friend Bonnie died.

With nearly everyone in her life a suspect now, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way, she's forced to examine the consequences of her life choices in this compulsively readable thriller.

I'm not that big on Jaffe's historical romances, but I love BAD KITTY, KITTY KITTY, and CATNIPPED. I still need to read her contemporary romances, but I've heard good things about them.

ROSEBUSH will be released December 7, 2010.

August 17, 2010

Review: Plus

Book Cover
By Veronica Chambers
Available now from Razorbill
Review copy

I hope this is the right cover for PLUS; I've seen at least three making the internet rounds. Honestly, I don't like any of the three. They're either head shots or this foot shot. Let's see an awesome plus-sized model on the cover. (It's not like they'd have to put an actual plus-sized girl since plus-sized model means something like an 8-12 dress size. This is well-pointed out in the novel when the girls complain about their weight.)

I am amazed by how timely PLUS is. Veronica Chambers, a former magazine editor, probably has some insider know-how, but plus-sized models are having a moment right now. Crystal Renn walked for Chanel Resort despite Karl Lagerfeld's usual opinions about 'fat.' She also has the power to speak up about images of her being retouched to look skinnier. The 'trend' of high profile jobs for plus-sized models is here, though some predict it will end soon.  Bee's Cinderella story is more plausible than ever.

Fortunately, PLUS doesn't fall for fashion's trend of not hiring people of color.  Love interests, friends, and coworkers are populated by a variety of races without much comment.  Yet while that issue is handled subtly, some may be put off by the heavy-handedness of PLUS's message.

Beatrice "Bee" Wilson begins the novel in a truly horrid relationship, though she can't see that because it's her first college, grown-up relationship and she quite likes Brian.  When he dumps her, she gains weight and then gains a job - as a plus-sized supermodel.  Yet despite being told she's lovely, Bee just can't believe she's model quality.  She thinks of herself as the dowdy, smart fat girl.

Luckily, she's about to come into contact with a bunch of great people who can teach her how wonderful she is and help her learn to like herself, including her appearance.  Chela, Brian's ex, is an unexpected friend who sticks by Bee even when Bee doesn't deserve it.  Kevin, her tutoring client and prospective rap star, is ready to sweep her off her feet if she'll let him.  Kevin and Bee had great chemistry, but he did frequently drop out of the narrative.  I wish there had been a bit more about their relationship.

Unluckily, she's about to come into contact with some scum too.  While most of her coworkers are fabulous, some are vindictive.  Some are out to humiliate Bee.  Some really should've faced police charges.  But the book never dwells on the dark points long.  PLUS may be an issue/message book, but it delivers it's message with froth and humor.

PLUS and Veronica Chambers aren't new loves.  But PLUS is inarguably fun and a perfect book to help ease the transition from summer to school.  Plus, as much as I love Violet and Nikki, models in YA could use a little body diversity.

August 15, 2010

Bad Book Covers

I receive several e-mails a week from different sites wanting me to feature something on my blog. Appoximately 99% of those e-mails clearly come from spanners who have no idea that a blog called In Bed With Books is about books. maintains a blog about a variety of topics designed to interest college students. Doesn't really line up with IBWB, but the article I received an e-mail about does fit my interests: 25 Worst Book Covers of All Time.  I'm impressed by the variety of genres covered, though most of the books are pulpy SF.  It's so easy to make fun of pulpy SF covers.

But I'm always interested in cover conversations.  After all, different people have different tastes.  Although some cover art is brilliant or awful no matter what.

Judge a Book by Its Cover is a hilarious blog by a former librarian Maughta (and a few others). If you think you know hideous book covers, wait to be astouded by the depths of awful she and her compatriarts have illuminated.

The famous Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog frequently features awful romance covers.  (Cheesy romance covers come close to being as bad as pulpy SF covers.)

The super interesting Jacket Whys is another librarian blog.  She examines trends in children's and young adult book covers, whether they be good or bad. She also compares different editions of a book to track which covers work best.

I can't think of a cover I truly hate off the top of my head, but I love this one for Golden Fool by Robin Hobb.

Golden Fool (The Tawny Man, Book 2)

It's detailed, beautifully colored, and the image directly relates to the contents of the book.  Plus, it shows a little skin without being faux sexy or impossible to carry on the bus without embarrassment.

Oh wait, I thought of a bad cover.

HottieBurning Ambition: A Hottie Novel

So, what covers do you hate or love?

August 12, 2010

Review: Dangerous Neighbors

Book Cover By Beth Kephart
Available August 24th from Egmont USA and Laura Geringer Books
Review copy
Read my review of UNDERCOVER and my interview with Beth, or read her interview with me

With every book, my respect for Beth Kephart grows. In fact, she's one of those authors that I enjoy so much I have to find the perfect time and place to read her books so that I can finish comfortably and uninterrupted. For NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, this was two locations: my dorm window seat overlooking Oxford High Street and the Oxford Botanical Gardens. For DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, I tucked into my childhood bed (no longer in my childhood home) and closed the door to keep my desperate-for-affection dog out of the way.

In DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, Kephart makes bold stylistic choices. It's told in close third person present. The present is a rough tense, especially when the book moves back and forth in time. The key lies in Kephart's skill. I used the words "bold" and "rough," but those don't suit DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS at all. DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is fluid and seductive. Kephart plunges right into the action, moving between Katherine's actions during a few days at the Centennial Exhibition and her past with her dead twin Anna at will. It's slightly disorienting but absorbing. Kephart never once underestimates her audience.

In the end, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS is a short novel. But I didn't feel cheated. I just felt like my time hadn't been wasted on useless scenes or extra words. DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS feels tight. Since the reader delves into Katherine's life for a brief period only, there are open ends. But the important parts - the emotions - those climax.

Historical fiction is not usually my thing, but Kephart pulled me into the world of 1876 Philadelphia. I sympathized with Katherine and Anna the same as I did with the characters of UNDERCOVER despite being so removed from their place. Much of Katherine's inner conflict stems from her feelings about Bennett, who had been Anna's secret lover.

Once upon a time, my sister had a boyfriend she kept secret from our parents. Like Katherine, I knew. Like Katherine, I kept her secret, because however I felt about it, I trusted my sister. Unlike Katherine, my sister is still alive, but that doesn't mean it ended well. I felt betrayed. No one can betray like a sister.

That's the force of Kephart's writing. It is what the stylized prose builds to. Her technical proficiency isn't empty, but a vehicle to deliver emotional truths. Her words have a resonance.

But DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS isn't some stuffy literary work. Kephart doesn't forget the importance of entertainment. There are love stories, new friends, and - of course - danger.

August 10, 2010

All Around the World

1. Anastasia Hopcus, the author of SHADOW HILLS, and Phoebe Kitanidas, the author of WHISPER, will do a joint event at Book People in Austin, TX at 1:00 PM on August 28th.

Shadow Hills

I should be in attendance at the event, so I hope to see some of ya'll there. I've read SHADOW HILLS, but I'm saving my review for the event write-up. I unfortunately haven't read WHISPER and probably won't be able to afford it, but I've heard good things.


2. I mentioned this briefly at the end of my THE ETERNAL ONES review, but The Story Siren is currently hosting a huge event called LGBT Lit. Days. The event started Monday and lasts until the 20th. The event features guest posts from authors and bloggers as well as giveaways.


3. You might have seen this around, but Harmony of Harmony Book Reviews began a coalition known as PAYA, or Bring YA to PA.

August 21st will be the First Annual PAYA Festival. It includes signings by a variety of authors, a bake sale, workshops, and more. Here's some detail on the workshops (sign up info here):

Listen & Critique Workshop - Authors Josh Berk, Amy Brecount White, Stephanie Kuehnert, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jon Skovron, Meg Medina, and Shannon Delany will each be speaking on an aspect of writing they feel is most important. Attendees will then be split into groups of 3-5, each with an author, based on genre of writing. Each members of the group will read the first three pages of a WIP from another members and critique it as a group. The author will lead the discussion and answer any specific questions about writing by the members of the group. This workshop will run from 10am-noon and will cost $40.

Teens on Writing Workshop - Teen authors Chelsea Swiggett and Kieryn Nicolas will give an hour-long workshop on writing as a teenager. This workshop is geared at those 13-18 with an interest in writing - no work-in-progress is necessary. The workshop will run from 1pm-2pm and cost $10.

Both of these workshops will have limited spots and require pre-registration.

4. Any news you think I should add?

Review: The Eternal Ones

By (the mysterious) Kirsten Miller
Available now from Razorbill
Review copy
The Eternal Ones site

The Eternal Ones

Years ago, when I was still in high school, I took a trip with the book club down to San Antonio for the American Library Association conference. We saw the exhibits and spoke in defense of our choices for the Best Books for Young Adults award. While there, I picked up an ARC from a very excited woman. It was INSIDE THE SHADOW CITY, the first book in the Kiki Strike series.

It was, in a word, amazing. Kirsten Miller brought New York City to life, complete with an extra crime-laden city of tunnels beneath. She also created a cast of strong, but flawed, girls and filled the novel with all sorts of useful tips. THE EMPRESS'S TOMB was just as good, and I'm sure THE DARKNESS DWELLERS will fight the good fight as well.

Thus, I was excited for Miller's paranormal debut. She was not content to do another vampire story. No, her romance is one of reincarnation. Two lovers who find each other again and again. But in the life Haven can remember, she might've died due to Ethan's lover getting jealous of his wife.  When Haven Moore first sees bad boy Iain Morrow on the television, she knows he's Ethan. But she's stuck in Snope City, Tennessee, and he's in New York.

THE ETERNAL ONES is a fascinating blend of good and bad. The opening in Snope City seems cartoonish. Life in Appalachia is one where your entire community can be convinced that you've been possessed by a demon. Still, Haven's story is absorbing. She runs her own business, in order to get out, even before she sees Iain. She's passionate and clever and surprisingly not a nervous wreck due to her shrew of a grandmother.

Then she actually meets Iain. As more fantastical elements enter the scene, the tone and setting become more realistic. It's an odd effect. Here's where Haven started to annoy me a little. She doesn't know whether to trust Iain or not. There are good reasons in the not column, but she trusts Ethan to her marrow. Or should she not have trusted Ethan either? Haven switches her mind about her lover almost every chapter. For such a clever girl, she's easily swayed by any and all evidence.

I loved Beau, wonderful Beau, even more when he called her out on her wishy-washiness. Beau is merely a standout in a detailed supporting cast. He could just be the gay* best friend - he's sassy enough for it - but he's got more meat on his bones than that. He's an athlete and a fashion designer and he may be in denial about some things but he's not about to take crap from anyone, not even his bestie Haven. That is why Beau rocks. That and the fact that he annoys the bad guy with his awesomeness, which is always a plus.

So on the good column: characters, atmosphere, pace. On the bad column: oh-my-word-will-she-make-up-her-mind, Haven's crazy hometown. Half of THE ETERNAL ONES's love story makes me swoon. The other half makes me wonder why I'm supposed to believe in this eternal love when Haven doesn't seem to be giving it much of a chance. But on the whole, I devoured THE ETERNAL ONES. Miller's writing is compelling.

THE ETERNAL ONES is better than many of the paranormal romances lining the shelves of the book store. It's certainly more entertaining and funny and romantic than a lot of them. (But I like Kiki Strike better.)

*check out The Story Siren's LGBT Lit. Days

August 9, 2010

Review: The Iron Daughter

I start my job today! I am finally employed!

By Julie Kagawa
Available now from HarlequinTEEN
Read my review of THE IRON KING
Review copy

The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)

As you might recall from my review, I wasn't big on THE IRON KING. As I was interested in the quest, I decided to try THE IRON DAUGHTER anyway. I didn't finish it because the first part did nothing to change my mind about the series.

Meghan Chase and Ash are together now, but because of their agreement she must stay in his mother's treacherous Winter Court. He gives her several warnings about the situation she's gotten herself into. Instead of trusting him, Meghan proceeds to draw attention to herself and their relationship.

There could be potential in the court. After all, Ash has several conniving brothers who aren't happy that the youngest is the favorite. The queen herself has all those issues with Oberon. But the Winter Court is quickly dispensed with (and several potentially interesting characters - as set up in the beginning - are killed) and the real story begins when Meghan continues her quest.

At this point, I closed the book to go do something. It's been quite awhile now and I haven't bothered to pick it back up and doubt if I ever will. I know several people have been enjoying the Iron Fey series, and more power to them. But I don't think Julie Kagawa's works are for me.

August 6, 2010

Interview with Tricia Rayburn

Tricia Rayburn is the author of SIREN, which I reviewed here. This New York author also writes books for tweens, most notably the Maggie Bean series. Today her blog tour brings her to IBWB. Tomorrow she'll be at The Bookologist.


1.Caleb and Simon, the male leads of SIREN, are both involved in romances. What qualities do you think a romantic literary hero needs?

I think a romantic literary hero should be kind, attentive, perhaps a little confused as he goes back and forth between his feelings for the girl, and able to help her overcome some obstacle—preferably by either showing or reassuring her that she’s strong enough to do whatever needs doing!

2. Your sirens are a little different from the classical depictions. How did you decide what traits to give your creatures?

Most of their traits were inspired by the traits of mythological sirens, but I did give them others that helped propel the story. For example, my sirens are physically dependent on saltwater while those in mythology simply lived near the water. That constant need—and the struggle that results when it’s not met—adds to the tension.

3. When you began writing SIREN did you know it would be the beginning of a series or did you think it would be a standalone story?

When I began writing SIREN I didn’t even know if I’d make it through one book (!), but about halfway through, once I was sure of the ending I was working toward, ideas for what might happen AFTER the ending started to take shape. In fact, when we submitted SIREN to editors, we also submitted proposals for the next two books.

4. I loved the restaurant scenes in SIREN, featuring Vanessa, her friend Paige, and Paige's sister Zara. They felt very lived in and showed off the girls' characters. Did you draw on any restaurant work experiences of your own, or was that all extrapolated?

I’m so glad you liked those scenes! They’re some of my favorites, too. I didn’t have restaurant work experience of my own to draw on, so I relied on stories from family and friends as well as observations while visiting similar places. Those local seafood spots are always so popular—and great for people watching!

5. According to your "Real Life Scary Sea Creatures" blog posts, you won't swim in the ocean due to your fear of sea creatures. But while there are some scary things beneath the waves, there are also some beautiful and friendly ones. Which sea creatures would you most want to swim with? If you weren't scared of sea creatures, do you think you would've written SIREN?

To be honest, I’m as fascinated and awed by sea creatures as I am scared of them! And I would absolutely swim with dolphins if given the chance. If I wasn’t scared of sea creatures I still might’ve written Siren, but it probably would’ve been a very different story.

Ruby's Slippers

6. In addition to SIREN, you're new middle grade novel RUBY'S SLIPPERS came out in July. What would you consider the main differences in your approach to writing for young adults or tweens?

Because I need to be able to relate to my characters as I write them, I’m constantly thinking back to my ‘tween and teen years and how I felt about/reacted to certain scenarios. So generally speaking, my ‘tween characters are rather reactive to every little thing that happens to them while my older characters are a bit more reserved and thoughtful—unless, of course, circumstances don’t allow them time for reflection! Also, while romance (in the form of first crushes) is present in my ‘tween reads, it’s definitely a bigger factor in the older ones. Just as it was in my—and most girls’—‘tween and teen years!

August 4, 2010

I Heart Daily and SHARE

Have you subscribed to I Heart Daily yet? It's co-written by Melissa Walker, young adult author, and Anne Ichikawa.

They describe I Heart Daily as
a free newsletter of stuff we like. Each day, you’ll find out about one thing: The band you should hear, the girl who’s kicking ass in the world, the lipstick color that looks good on everyone, the designer who doesn’t have a fashion show yet but is completely amazing… you get the idea.

You’ll never hear about stuff we hate, just stuff we heart.
We’re nice that way.

I bring it up because today they interviewed Shannon, a teen girl who founded SHARE, designed to empower girls in Tanzania through education, particularly literacy. Here are the instructions on how to hold a book drive, though there are many other ways to participate.

August 3, 2010

POC Reading Challenge Update

POC books that I've reviewed this year:

1. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
2. Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
3. Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda
4. Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
5. Dream Stalker by Jenna Kernan
6. The Christmas Present by Tracy Wolff
7. Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Not reviewed:

8. Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
9. Bad Kitty: Catnipped by Michele Jaffe

I'm very much behind on this challenge.

August 2, 2010

2010 Debut Authors Challenge Update

. . . so much for monthly updates.

This challenge is hosted by The Story Siren.

The Story Siren

I have reviewed the following debut YA/MG books this year:

1. Queen of Secrets by Jenny Meyerhoff
2. Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda
3. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
4. Faithful by Janet Fox
5. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
6. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
7. The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter
8. The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter
9. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
10. Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
11. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
12. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
13. Freaksville by Kitty Keswick

I'm not up to discovering what I've read but not reviewed. So, I'm a little behind but not too bad considering I have some other debuts ready to review.

August 1, 2010

This is Patton

He thanks you for the well wishes.  He's currently crated, because he has to rest for awhile in order to allow his shoulder to heal.  This doesn't make him happy, but he's already doing better.

It is hard to get a dog to stay still for a photo, but I liked this one since it showed off his gorgeous eyes.


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