Friday, December 31, 2010

Best (and Worst) of 2010

Click here to see a list of every book I read in 2010!
I got this idea from The Story Siren:

1. Best Book of 2010
Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst was the book I enjoyed reading the most this year. I'm normally not the biggest fan of fantasy, but this novel was riveting and well-written enough to really suck me in.

2. Worst Book of 2010
Hmm...I wouldn't say I have a worst book. There were some books that didn't work for me, but nothing so bad.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010
I was really let down by Lisa Mantchev's Perchance to Dream. The first book in the series, Eyes Like Stars, was so beautiful and enchanting, but I spent the majority of its sequel confused and irritated.

4. Most Surprising Book of 2010
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey. I was expecting
cheesy romance and a stereotypical vampire plot, but it was so different from anything I imagined. One of my favorites of this year, actually!

5. Book You Recommended Most to People in 2010
Vixen by Jillian Larkin--how could you not love the sparkling glamour of 1920's Chicago? I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

6. Best Series Discovered in 2010
Well, The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey was my favorite new series of 2010, but I also started reading the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard, and I'm totally addicted.

7. Favorite New Author of 2010
Too many to count! :)

8. Most Hilarious Read of 2010
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt was really cute, well-done, and witty.

9. Most Thrilling Unputdownable Book of 2010
Well, it technically came out in 2009, but I was literally glued to Lauren Kate's Fallen for three days straight.

10. Book You Anticipated the Most for 2010
I was super excited (read: book-stalked) about Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs (one of my favorite authors) for months before either book came out. They didn't disappoint!

11. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2010
The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy has such an adorable, girly cover. What can I say--I'm a sucker for shoes...

12. Most Memorable Character in 2010
I loved Lucy from Hearts at Stake and Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey. She was spunky and had a great attitude and sense of humor!

13. Most Beautifully Written
Book in 2010
Even though I didn't love it, Lisa Mantchev's Perchance to Dream was like beautiful, descriptive poetry.

14. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010
Once again, not a book written in 2010, but still inspiring: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I took it with me on a trip to Seattle, and I'll never forget the weird looks I got from people on the plane while I sobbed my eyes out.

15. Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2010 to Finally Read
The Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard and Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. Thank you, summer vacation!
Look for my "2011 Releases I'm Dying to Read!" post coming this week...And until then, thank you to all readers, publishers, and authors for making 2010 so fabulous. Let's hope 2011 is just as great!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Aristobrats

Author: Jennifer Solow
Pages: 211
Published: 2010, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle-grade fiction
Cover Score: D
Overall Grade: A-

Parker Bell and her three best friends have been waiting for the start of their eighth grade year for their entire middle school career. This year, Parker and her friends have made it to the top of the populadder at their exclusive private school, Wallingford Academy. Their Facebook friend count has never been higher, and as Aristobrats (or Wallingford legacies), they've been groomed to lead the school to greatness. But when the girls are assigned to produce the lame, losers-only school webcast, their hard-worked-for popularity plummets. Will this tragedy destroy everything they've worked for? Or their friendship? Or both?

My thoughts: Before picking up The Aristobrats, I was expecting just your typical mean-girls novel, a la The Clique. However, The Aristobrats had something that the Clique and other books in the same genre lack. The popular girls are actually--gasp--friendly, and Ms. Solow actually projects some surprisingly good morals into her story, including the value of friendship and the real way to get to popularity.
The Aristobrats still has the same humor, label-dropping (though not as obnoxious as in The Clique) and attitude as similar books in the genre, but it also presents readers with four strong protagonists who have good ethics and are thoroughly relatable: how refreshing. My one complaint would have to be the cheesy cover--it doesn't do the book justice!
While The Aristobrats starts off a bit slowly, Ms. Solow has a strong, appealing writing style that sucks the reader into the quick-moving story. I definitely recommend this book to middle-school girls who want a bit of glitz and glam embedded in an overall fresh and lively quality read.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

happy holidays!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa! Whatever you celebrate, I just wanted to take the time to thank each follower and reader, and wish a happy, healthy, and safe New Year to all! Look for my "Best of 2010" post coming soon, where I will highlight the top reads of this year. I'm sitting here in a snuggly new cashmere sweater and some great new books to look forward to--life's good? :)

PS. If you're in the holiday spirit of gift-giving and receiving, I'm giving away 9 holiday-themed new releases here, and a copy of the smashing new YA novel Vixen by Jillian Larkin here! Enter to win!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Win A Copy of Vixen!

Here's your chance to win a copy of Jillian Larkin's new novel Vixen! Full of 1920's mystery, intrigue, and romance, Vixen was one of my favorite books of 2010 (check out my review here!)
You must be a follower to enter (and if you're not, it's super easy--check out my sidebar and click "follow"!). To enter, simply comment below with your name and email address. A winner will be selected on January 15, 2011. US entries only, please! Good luck!

PS. Also check out the Mega Holiday Contest here--I'm giving away 9 books total. Enter before January 10 to win a wintery prize pack!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Karma Club

Author: Jessica Brody
Pages: 258
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: B
Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma worked: good deeds are rewarded, and bad deeds are punished. So when Maddy catches her boyfriend of two years cheating on her with perfect Heather Campbell, Maddy decides that she can't wait for Karma to balance the universe and exact revenge on Mason Brooks. He deserves punishment, now. That's when Maddy and her best friends decide to form the Karma Club--a secret organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes the universe is leaving behind. By righting the wrongs of former exes and getting payback on mean girls, the girls of the Karma Club believe that they're doing the right thing--they're watching out for each other. But what the girls don't realize is that it isn't wise to meddle with the universe. Because once you mess with Karma, it messes back...Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, as she's created an even bigger mess for herself.

My thoughts: I really liked the concept for The Karma Club. It was fresh, it was fun, it was unique. However, the book fell a bit flat for me in certain areas.
The best part of this book, for me, was when the girls put their plans into action. Their revenge plans were funny and clever, but I wish there were more moments like these! Most of the book was Maddy's internal monologue, and frankly, it got boring after a while. I wanted more action and a faster plot. The story seemed to move slowly, and by the end of the book, I just wanted it to be over already. It took too long to get to the point.
I did love the members of the club, though. Jade, Angie, and Maddy were all hilarious and relatable, which makes this book perfect for teenage girls!
The Karma Club put some good points out there, and I really enjoyed the useful, sincere information about harmony and Karma. Ms. Brody clearly did her research! While a bit slow and quite predictable, The Karma Club is still an entertaining read--maybe just wait until it comes out in paperback.

PS. Watch the awesome trailer here!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Holiday Contest!

Here's my gift to you this holiday season! I'm hosting a super-duper holiday giveaway! There will be 3 lucky winners, who will each receive one of the wintery prize packs below:

The Holiday Romance Pack
  • Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (review coming soon!)
  • Ex-Mas by Kate Brian (review coming soon!)
The Icy Winter Wonderland Pack
  • Ice Claw by David Gilman
  • Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (review coming soon!)
  • Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner (review coming soon!)
A Very Paranormal Christmas Pack
  • Banished by Sophie Littlefield
  • The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
  • Sleepless by Cyn Balog
To enter:
  • You must be a follower of Bookworm Readers
  • Enter your name and email address below
  • 2 extra entries will be awarded to anyone for either blogging about the contest or adding a link to your sidebar (that's up to 4 extra entries!)
  • US entries only, please!
  • The contest will end at midnight PST on January 15, 2011.
Good luck and happy holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mailbox Monday

  • Vixen by Jillian Larkin (giveaway coming soon!)
  • Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and
  • Wish by Joseph Monninger
  • The Tapestry: The Fiend and the Forge by Henry H. Neff
  • Sammy Keyes and The Wedding Crasher by Wendelin vanDraanen
  • The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant
  • A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux
  • The Aristobrats by Jennifer Solow
  • Hailey Twitch and the Great Teacher Switch by Lauren Barnholdt
  • Secrets of a First Daughter by Cassidy Calloway
  • Unbelievable by Sara Shepard
Have a great week--5 more days of finals and school, and then I'm freeee!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Author: Jillian Larkin
Pages: 421
Published: December 14, 2010
Genre: Historical fiction/Romance/Mystery
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A+

Welcome to 1920's Chicago, where anything goes....
Seventeen year old Gloria Carmody wants what she can't have, the flapper lifestyle: sneaking into underground clubs, dancing the night away...However, she's engaged to Sebastian Grey, one of the most powerful businessmen in Chicago. Now, her carefree party days are over before they've even started...or are they?
Meanwhile, Gloria's squeaky-clean country-mouse cousin Clara Knowles has come to Chicago to help prepare for the wedding, but looks can be deceiving. Clara's got some dirty little secrets in her past that she'd love to put behind her. But in a dangerous, thrilling city like Chicago, they just might pop up again...
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria's envious, social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria's shadow. Lorraine's ready to make a splash for herself, and she won't let anyone stand in her way. Someone is going to be very sorry....

My thoughts: I can't stress how much I enjoyed the first book in this smashing new series. Vixen was captivating, dangerous, sexy, and beautifully written. First, I loved the characters in the novel.
The alternating chapters helped me get into each character's head. I could feel Gloria's stress regarding her upcoming forced marriage, Clara's desperation not to fall in love again, and Lorraine's spite towards her "perfect" best friend. Ms. Larkin did a superb job at capturing 1920's society in the pages of her book. I could imagine Chicago perfectly in my head, and each little description of Chicago's wealthy, beautiful young adults made me want to hop in the book and stay there amidst all the danger and romance.
Ms. Larkin's writing style is easy to get in to, and the book whizzed by for me. The mystery aspect was easy to follow, the romance was swoonworth, and the descriptions of everything were simply beautiful. I loved the glamorous, secretive world of underground speakeasies, Mob bosses, and glittering flapper dresses that she created. I loved 1920's fashion, so this book was perfect for me.
In short, I can't recommend Vixen enough. If you're looking for a "totally jake" read, here's your best bet. I can't wait to read the next book, Ingenue, coming out next year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vixen Book Trailer

I adore this trailer--it's glamorous, it's mysterious, it's well-made...I'm almost done with the book (Releasing December 14, so be prepared to make a bookstore run) and I'm loving it! Expect my review and a Vixen giveaway in the next few days!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Invisible Things

Author: Jenny Davidson
Pages: 272
Published: 11/23/10, HarperTeen
Genre: Historical fiction/Mystery
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: B
15 year old Sophie knows that there is more to the story of her parents' death than what she has been told.
Now that she is living in Denmark (safely away from the secrets of her life in Scotland), Sophie is on a mission
to uncover what really happened. On her side is Mikael, her best friend who has turned into something more.
Along the way, Sophie will realize that the only person who can help her is her parents' former employer: Alfred Nobel,
the billionaire, reclusive scientist. However, Sophie quickly learns that nothing--and no one--in her life is what it seems.
And coming to terms with dark secrets means imagining a truth that she never dreamed possible.
My thoughts: Invisible Things was shorter, quicker, and easier to read than its predecessor, The Explosionist. A mere 272 pages compared to 400-something, I felt that Invisible Things covered more material and was easier to understand.
The mystery aspect was more apparent: Sophie wanted to uncover what really happened to her parents in the mysterious factory explosion that they died in. This, combined with a string of events involving the possibility of war add to suspense, danger, and adventure in the plot. I loved the developments in the lives of the characters, like how Mikael and Sophie's relationship flourished, and the introduction of Albert Nobel.
However, it is hard to follow along in the book, difficult to figure out what is going on, and confusing to understand where the plot is going.
Once again, I felt that the mystery sort of fizzled out in the end of the information-packed story. There seemed to be a lot of leadup and suspense for a rather disappointing ending. I felt like there was still so much left to cover!
Even though the ending of Invisible Things left me unsatisfied, the actual body 0f the story was written beautiful and in great detail. The setting was absolutely amazing, and I felt transported to a different time. Definitely give this one a try, but wait until it comes to your public library.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Explosionist

Author: Jenny Davidson
Pages: 448
Published: HarperTeen, 2008
Genre: Historical fiction/Mystery
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: B

15-year-old Sophie lives in a dangerous time on the brink of war; full of terrorism, dark secrets, politics, and betrayal. A bomb that goes off near Sophie's school sets off a chain of mysteries, including a dark prophecy made by a psychic medium that is murdered shortly after. Does the medium know anything about the bombings? Is Sophie's handsome chemistry teacher (who is very knowledgable about dynamite) involved? Sophie and her friend Mikael need to get to the bottom of the mysteries, in order to save themselves--as well as the rest of Europe.
My thoughts: The Explosionist is a heavy book. Not only is it a long book, but it is also dense. Ms. Davidson has packed tons of information in here, which creates a complicated plot that can be confusing to the reader from time to time.
However, The Explosionist was extremely well-written. Ms. Davidson clearly put in a lot of research to perfect the historical details of her book, and it paid off. As I flipped through the pages, I felt like I was submerged in Sophie's 1930's-Scotland. Every action and character came to life in my head.
I loved how Ms. Davidson created an alternate-universe Scotland brimming with complex politics, the possibility of war, betrayal, technology, and psychic happenings.
I just felt like there was too much going on: the bomb going off over near Sophie's school, the romance aspect, the murder of the psychic, Sophie's connection with the spirit world, the possibility of war, a school that brainwashes girls...I felt like a lot of this material went uncovered in the end, adding to my unclear confusion. After the long lead-up and the murder and explosions, the mystery aspect of the book kind of faded away.
Nonetheless, I look forward reading the sequel in hopes of clarification and more heart-pounding adventure.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Completely Forgot About...

Bookworm Readers' 3RD BIRTHDAY! I started this blog 3 years ago (on October 12th, 2007) with the hopes of reading and reviewing books for publishers. I just wanted to take the time to thank all of my wonderful, lovable readers and supporters. Blogging wouldn't be half as fun without you! :)
Expect a fun birthday contest coming soon!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In My Mailbox

This week in the mail Random House sent me a copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It looks like an adorable winter read--look for my review coming soon!
Thank you Random House!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Author: Derek Blasberg
Pages: 230
Published: Razorbill, 2o10
Genre: Nonfiction/How-to
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

Nowadays, it's hard to find a classy young lady. Thanks to the negative influence of the media, girls are famous for the wrong reasons--drinking and partying and having no manners whatsoever. Derek Blasberg is here to help girls clean up their act--staying cleaner and acting and dressing better (ie not wearing rhinestone-studded dresses and breaking up via text message). Whether they need help setting a table for a dinner party, or encouragement to keep their tops on at parties, Mr. Blasberg has made it his mission to help girls be ladies, and not tramps.

My thoughts: Every girl needs to own a copy of Classy. It's funny, it's honest, and it's packed chock-full with great advice (how to set a proper table, what to wear to a party, how to go about a break up, how to avoid temptation, what books and movies to know). I adored every page!
Mr. Blasberg certainly knows his stuff (he should, after working for top fashion mags like Vogue and W)--and injects his sassy, witty knowledge into each segment. The book was nicely organized so that it was easy to read, and all of the cute graphics and hilarious visuals made a nice supplement. The book was made of a collection of different articles, which were helpful, but still managed to stay positive, light, and easy to read.
Mr. Blasberg put a clever, modern twist on a classic etiquette book, and made the story clever, fashionable, and au courant. The book was divided into 8 sections: "A Lady Gets Dressed" (fashion and presentation), "A Lady Receives an Invitation" (proper dress/etiquette at a party), "A Lady Throws a Party" (how to throw a successful fete), "A Lady Goes Abroad" (travel tips), "A Lady Makes Friends" (how to make and keep friends), "A Lady Looks for Love" (the dos and don'ts of relationships), "A Lady Faces Temptation" (how to stay clean and classy), and "A Lady Is Always Learning" (book/movie recommendations).
Whether you're looking for fashion tips, party themes, or how to tell which guy is good, bad, or gay; Classy is the ideal read for the put-together, fashionable young lady (or one who needs desperate help).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Enchanted Ivy

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Pages: 310
Published: McElderry Books, 2010
Genre: Fantasy
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

High school junior Lily Carter has college on the mind: she's dying to go to Princeton University, just like her grandfather did. So when the opportunity arises to accompany him to his 50th reunion, she jumps at the chance. However, she wasn't expecting to take the top secret Legacy Test...something that will grant her automatic admission to Princeton if passes. But this is no ordinary test: as she searches for the elusive "Ivy Key", Lily uncovers dark secrets, including a magic gate that leads to an alternate, magical Princeton--a gate that only she can open. War is rising between the magic and non-magic worlds with her family in the center of the conflict, and it is up to Lily to face all the (cute) were-tigers, taking gargoyles, dragons, unicorns, and other magical creatures and bring peace to both worlds--but who can she trust? Getting into college has gotten more complicated than she's expected...
My thoughts: I cannot stress how much I adored Sarah Beth Durst's latest novel. Enchanted Ivy was totally unlike any fantasy I've ever read before. I'm usually not the biggest fan of fantasy, but fantasy lovers and those who prefer different genres will both love this story. Ms. Durst made the plot interesting, fast-paced, addictive, and totally unique. Once again, Ms. Durst's creativity amazed me. I loved how she combined magic and Princeton--the result was unlike anything I've ever read before. Ms. Durst painted a wonderful picture of the campus and of every event, so that I felt like I had been sucked into the story myself and could picture all of the well-developed and likeable characters in my head.
The novel was the perfect length for me, and even though some of the details of the book (who's on which side of the magical battle) got a bit confusing, I never wanted it to end. The twists and turns had me madly flipping pages, and there were perfect amounts of humor and romance to balance out all of the fantasy.
I cannot recommend this book enough! Go buy a copy to experience the magic yourself!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spooky Reads for Halloween and Beyond

It's one of my favorite times of the year again, and I love curling up with a mug of hot apple cider and a spooky, ghostly book to get into the Halloween/autumn mood. Here are my top 7 spooky paranormal picks to read this year on Halloween:

...And even after Halloween, it's fun to dive into a spooky mystery or fantasy book that's fitting for the winter months. Have a fun, safe Halloween and happy reading!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox

Here's what was in my mailbox this week:

  • Monster High by Lisi Harrison (just for fun...)
  • Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
  • Classy by Derek Blasberg (a fashionable guide from the library)
  • Trash by Andy Mulligan
  • Dark Water by Laura McNeal
  • Ice Claw by David Gilman
Thanks so much to Random House Books for Young Readers! This rainy weather looks like it's staying--so I have lots of good books to pass the time with (and plenty of time to catch up on pathetically catch up with my lack of reviews...argh!).

Contest Extended!

If you haven't already, check out the contest to win a copy of Lauren Baratz-Logsted's The Twin's Daughter! I've extended the deadline to enter to November 1st. Click here for your chance to win--US entries only, please!

Friday, October 15, 2010

In My Mailbox

Gaaah I've been so slow at updating le blog. Anyway, here are a few week's worth of IMM. I've been busy with school and sick so there hasn't been a whole lot of reading time. Thanks for your patience, I should have some reviews up soon. :)

  • Project Fashion: Armani Angels by Jasmine Oliver (used book sale)
  • Vixen: The Flappers (ARC) by Jillian Larkin (Thank you to Meg O'Brien!)
  • Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters (ARC)
  • Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • The Sphinx's Queen by Esther Friesner
  • Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
  • I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison
  • Brain Jack by Brian Falkner
  • Banished by Sophie Littlefield
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
  • Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher by Wendelin vanDraanen
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Special thanks to Random House Children's Books and Sarah Beth Durst! I've got plenty of happy reading ahead of me--I'll keep you posted!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Ivy

Part of a Traveling to Teens blog tour!
Author: Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur
Pages: 312
Published: Greenwillow, 2010
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A-

Despite lacking connections, money, any East Coast legacies, and a prep-school ready wardrobe, California girl Callie Andrews has managed to get into the most prestigious college in the world--Harvard University. Callie's got the brains and the determination to get through the hardcore academics, but it's the social aspects that have got her all confused: she has to face three crazy roommates, boy problems galore, her first college parties, and an ex-boyfriend in California who may ruin her life. And, oh yeah--the most popular upperclassmen in school is out to get her and is, coincidentally, the editor of the magazine that Callie's dying to get on...Will she be able to survive her first semester at college? Or will the stress send her packing for LA?
My thoughts: I was expecting a light, chick lit read going into The Ivy: maybe not-so-great writing, kind of fluffy, kind of Gossip Girl-y. I should know by now not to judge a book by its cover. The Ivy was written in a descriptive, addictive way that kept me turning pages. It had its light, funny, party moments, but also held some deeper morals and meanings.
I was sucked into Callie's world: the drama, the parties, the hard work, the scandals, the day-to-day college life (coffee, work, lectures, work, more caffeine...) Her story had me completely hooked from start to finish, making for a quick, breezy read! Ms. Kunze has a comfortable writing style that gives you a perfect picture of every event, every character in your mind. She clearly was writing from experience, and it showed in her details and fun little Harvard facts tossed in throughout the novel. I also really liked the little snippets from the fictional school blogs and newspapers before every chapter--it gave the book a more personal, college-y feel.
The characters were well-written and oh-so-lovable: I loved all of Callie's kooky friends and roommates, and the mean girl was just so fun to hate. The romance was just right (although I want to see more of Matt!), and it felt like it spoke directly to teenagers. Although sometimes a bit predictable, I found myself wanting more--what's next for Callie?
This book felt like a little snippet of easy-to-read-about college life, and makes a leisurely, enjoyable read for readers 15 & up!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Twin's Daughter

Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Pages: 304
Published: September 2010, Bloomsbury
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A-

Lucy Sexton's world is turned upside-down when her mother's identical twin turns up at their doorstep. Separated at birth, Aunt Helen is the exact opposite of the elegant, upper-classsociety lady that Lucy's mother is. However, the family takes her in, and before long, Aunt Helen has been transformed into an exact replica of her mother. However, she doesn't seem to mind being mistaken for Lucy's mother...especially when it comes to Lucy's father. Even Lucy is having trouble telling them apart. But when a brutal murder takes place in Lucy's own home, who has been left alive, and who has been killed? And who is behind the murder?

My thoughts: I must admit, The Twin's Daughter is a solid, deep story that took me a long time to get through. The story starts off very slowly, winding its way up to a climax that occurs nearly more than halfway through the book, and speeding up to the exciting conclusion. However, I felt that the plot took a little too much time to get to the point. The story was very wordy and packed with detail, and I would've like to have seen a more-developed aspect of mystery. However, once the story began moving, I was instantly engrossed--the twists and turns kept me at the edge of my seat.
Ms. Baratz-Logsted clearly did her research on Victorian London, and it showed: the daily-life aspects, narration, and details of Lucy's home, dress, and surroundings painted a perfect picture of the time period for me. Ms. Baratz-Logsted has an abundance of writing skills!
I loved how well-developed the characters were: I really felt that I could get into Lucy's mind, and I adored Aunt Helen and Kit as supporting characters.
This story of betrayal, jealousy, secrets, and mystery is an engrossing gothic that has a killer mystery aspect that is both chilling and fascinating. A must-read for fans of historical fiction!

PS. Win a copy of The Twins' Daughter here!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted & Contest

Author of: The Twins' Daughter
Part 1 of the Bloomsbury Fall 2010 book tour!
Bookworm: Welcome, Lauren! To start, what was your inspiration for The Twins' Daughter?
Lauren: I'm fascinated with twins. Aren't most people? Well, except for actual twins, perhaps; maybe they're not as fascinated by it all as the rest of us are. So I decided I wanted to do a story from the point of view of the child of an identical twin.

Bookworm: Which character can you relate to the most?
Lauren: Ooh, that is a hard question! I'd like to saw I relate most to Kit--he's so heroic. The only problem with that is that I'm nowhere near as heroic. Maybe I'm most like Lucy's father? We are both writers.

Bookworm: Why did you want to write a book with a mystery aspect?
Lauren: It's not the first time. The adult novel Vertigo is also Victorian suspense. Secrets of my Suburban Life is a contemporary comedic YA with a mystery within it. Even The Sisters 8 series for young readers has a mystery that runs throughout. So I guess it wasn't so much me saying "I want to write a mystery" as me saying "I need to write this specific book now!" I do like to stretch different writing muscles.

Bookworm: Describe your writing process.
Lauren: I get an idea, a one-sentence idea that's somehow so large I can see an entire 250-to-400 page novel in it. Almost immediately, there's a main character and a title for the book. Then, when the idea starts burning so strong I can't stand it anymore, like Curious George, I sit down and begin to write. I typically write from 7 am to 4 pm--the hours my daughter is in school--and sometimes nights and weekends.

Bookworm: What are your writing essentials (snacks, music, etc)?
Lauren: I need to watch "General Hospital" every day. That's pretty much it. I'm not one of these rock bands with all their demands for when they're on the road--espresso machine, bowls of green-only M&Ms, etc. Really, I'm a very low-mantinence creator.

Bookworm: If you could travel back in time, which era would you like to visit?
Lauren: Victorian England, hands down. There's a reason why I've set more than one book in that time and place. I want to wear one of those dresses! I want to drive around in a carriage! I'm not sure I'd be as happy, though, with the state of the indoor plumbing.

Bookworm: What YA book have you read and loved recently?
Lauren: The most recent one I read and loved was Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I loved the atmospheric nature of the storytelling.

Bookworm: What is your next writing project?
Lauren: I'm still working on finishing The Sisters 8, the series of books for young readers that I write with my husband and daughter. My next YA, due out next year, is called The Middle March. This one is contemporary but it's strongly tied to a classic novel: Little Women.
Thanks so much, Lauren! Click here to visit her online! :)

Are you interested in reading Lauren's latest, The Twins' Daughter (expect my review soon!)? Enter below to win a copy! US only, please! To enter, simply leave your name and email address below. 2 extra points will be rewarded to followers of Bookworm Readers! This contest will close on October 15th, 2010. Good luck!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Author: Lauren Kate
Pages: 496
Published: December 2009, Delacorte
Genre: Paranormal/Romance
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

Ever since she was a little girl, Lucinda Price has been seeing dark shadows--and after a particularly serious incident, Luce finds herself at Sword & Cross, a rundown reform school. There, Luce finds her fair share of crazy people, good friends, and boy trouble. There's Cam, who is charming, kind, and interested. And then there's Daniel, who goes out of his way to be unfriendly to Luce. Still, she is drawn to him--but he has a dark secret that Luce is dying to find out. The students at Sword & Cross had better watch out, because an ancient battle is coming...

My thoughts: Fallen is deeply, beautifully written story: it's fast paced, intense, dark, romantic, scary, fascinating, enchanting, and simply unlike any other paranormal I've ever read. I was sucked in by it--Ms. Kate's writing is beautiful, detailed, and addictive, probably the reason behind her success.
I could not put Fallen down. I ate up Luce's world at Sword & Cross, and I could picture everything going on in the book. Luce was a great protagonist who had a clear voice--I could really get into her head. I felt like the two love interests (Daniel and Cam) were all right. I just couldn't picture them, and they were underdeveloped compared to Luce and her other friends. I just didn't get her fascination with Daniel. I felt like I needed more information on him! The romance aspect didn't gobble up the whole book. It was an important aspect, yes, but the mystery and other events gave the book interesting twists and turns that led to a surprising conclusion.
Ms. Kate broke away from the norm of vampires and werewolves and put out a fantastic YA debut that kept me hooked until the satisfying ending. She clearly did her research and worked hard to make all of the information on angels, religion, etc make sense and relate to the novel. I definitely want more--I can't wait to dig into the second book, Torment! (Released September 28 by Delacorte)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Low Red Moon

Author: Ivy Devlin
Pages: 208
Published: Bloomsbury, 9/17/10
Genre: Paranormal/Romance/Mystery
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: A-

Avery Hood can't remember the night her parents were killed--all that she can recall is a flash of silver, moving inhumanly fast, and then the police who found her near her parents' bodies on the edge of the forest that they loved. Now she's on her own, living with a grandmother she never knew, grieving over the world she loved that is gone forever, and trying to cope while, at school, she attracts whispers and stares. Then Avery meets Ben, a boy who's...different. Who doesn't quite seem all human--whose eyes sometimes flash silver. But Avery is drawn to him anyway...However, she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died. And who could be in grave danger herself.

My thoughts: I was expecting the average teen paranormal novel from Low Red Moon. At first glance, it screamed, Twilight knock-off--but I was still intrigued. While some aspects of the book were very been there, done that, so many parts of Low Red Moon really worked together to make an unforgettable read.
For instance, the aspect of the death of Avery's parents added a sort of "grief narrative" to the plot. This part of the story mingled well with the romance--but the aspect of Avery grieving and attempting to find her parent's killer gave the novel a forward push and some real depth. Avery herself was a deep, complex character who I really took to.
Ms. Devlin's writing is literally beautiful--Avery's narrative is poetic, and the wording is perfect. I really understood how Avery was feeling: about Ben, about her parents, about her shaky relationship with her estranged grandmother (who I began to love more and more as the book continued). The story was suspenseful, spooky, and dark--a real page-turner. The ending had me at the edge of my seat, and is thrillingly surprising.
Ironically, the one part that I didn't like as much was the romance. Ben and Avery's relationship was so abrupt and it felt fake, not real at all. Sure, they had some sort of "bond", but I just couldn't help but yawn whenever they were together, or when Avery mentioned that "he wasn't quite all human" over and over again. Sure, it gave the book some paranormal romance pizzaz, but the cheesy factor was high and made the middle of the book drag.
However, Ms. Devlin has made a breathtaking debut that had me hooked. Definitely check this out if you're a fan of the genre and you want a romantic, chilling, well-written, fast mystery!

* Thank you to Kate Lied and Bloomsbury Children's Books for the ARC, and for letting me take part in the Low Red Moon blog tour.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Monday Muse: Interview with Tera Lynn Childs

Today's muse: Tera Lynn Childs, goddess of creative and funny YA novels! Today, Tera's talking travel, kissable characters, ancient Greece, and what's up next!
Bookworm: Welcome, Tera! To begin--why Greek gods and mermaids as the subjects for your YA novels?
Tera: I've always loved Greek myth, everything about ancient cultures, really. My obsession with mermaids dates back to the movie Splash and childhood bath toys called SeaWees. So I guess the short answer is that both Greek gods and mermaids are the stuff of my childhood fantasies.

Bookworm: What is your favorite Greek myth and god?
Tera: One of my favorite myths is the story of Persephone and the underworld. Although kidnapping is never a good thing, I kind of feel sorry for Hades. He got the short end of the stick in the draw for kingdoms, definitely. And the underworld must get pretty lonely. My favorite god would probably be Ares, all that bad boy jockishness is just too yummy.

Bookworm: Have you ever been to Greece?
Tera: Sadly, no. It's on my life list.

Bookworm: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Tera: Autoportation. I'd love to be able to go anywhere in the world in an instant. Though I'd probably want to break the rule about only going places you've been and would end up popping myself into trouble.

Bookworm: Who was your personal favorite character in the Oh. My. Gods books?
Tera: As weird as this sounds, I kind of like Stella. Yeah, she's a brat with an attitude, but she's got layers and she definitely has her act together. I always like writing the bad character and finding a way to redeem them.

Bookworm: Moving on to your next (fabulous) book...How long was your writing process for Forgive My Fins?
Tera: Technically, three years. I started writing Forgive My Fins in the summer of 2006, right before I sold Oh. My. Gods. I had to put the project on hold while I worked on Oh. My. Gods and Goddess Boot Camp and didn't get to return to Seaview until 2008. I think the final revision was turned in by June 2009. Probably my time spent on the writing adds up to six months.

Bookworm: How are you and Lily alike, and how are you different?
Tera: Lily and I are probably less alike than any of my other girl characters. As a teen, I did tend to fall head over fins for a guy I barely knew, just like Lily, but she's way more scattered and clumsy and frazzled than me.

Bookworm: If you could kiss one of your character in Forgive My Fins, who would it be?
Tera: Do you even have to ask that question?

Bookworm: Who would you cast as the characters in a Forgive My Fins movie?
Tera: This one is hard because the people I picture as Lily, Brody, and Quince (Shakira, Brody Jenner, and Eric Dane) aren't exactly role appropriate. I saw a review the other day that suggested Taylor Swift as Lily and Cam Gigandet as Quince and I think that's pretty awesome.

Bookworm: If you were a mermaid, what would be your essential item to have undersea?
Tera: If I were a mermaid, I'd be so happy I wouldn't need anything else! But every mer girl needs a fashionable tankini top or two.

Bookworm: If you could be any place right now in the world, where would you be?
Tera: Seattle, but only because I'm moving there soon and I wish I were already there. As for travel dreams, I fantasize about Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Morocco.

Bookworm: What are your travel essentials?
Tera: A camera and a comfortable pair of shoes. I try to pack as light as possible, because I'd rather spend my time exploring than lugging and unpacking. After spending seven weeks traveling with nothing but a carry-on suitcase, I still wished I'd packed less.

Bookworm: What's the most exciting place you've traveled?
Tera: Alaska. I got to go for about two weeks with a friend who is from there, and it was amazing. The two most spectacular moments were canoeing across a small lake to go blueberry picking and an awe-inspiring glacier cruise of Prince William Sound.

Bookworm: What YA book have you read and loved recently?
Tera: Firelight by Sophie Jordan. It's a breathtaking story about a girl who is descended from dragons and the boy whose family hunts her kind.

Bookworm: What's your next writing project?
Tera: Next up is Fins are Forever, the sequel to Forgive My Fins, which will be out next summer. After that, I'm starting a new trilogy about triplet descendants of Medusa who discover it's their destiny to guard the door between the world of monsters and that of man.
Thanks so much, Tera! All the best to you in your next exciting project!
Visit Tera's website here, and check out what's next undersea in the upcoming Fins are Forever by visiting its page on Goodreads!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball

Author: Risa Green
Pages: 315
Published: Sourcebooks Fire, 9/16/10
Genre: Realistic fiction/Fantasy
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

Erin Channing's life is completely, utterly boring. She has nothing to write about for her AP Art History application for a trip to Italy, her crazy aunt hasn't contacted her family in a year, and the only thing that Erin has going for her is her 4.0 GPA. That is, until her Aunt Kiki dies suddenly and leaves Erin with a pink, plastic crystal ball. Erin is just about to write it off as another one of Aunt "Kooky"'s oddities, but then she and her best friends decide that the crystal ball just might have the magic and power to see into the future. Is it the perfect way to get whatever Erin wants--including a date with the mysterious Jesse Cooper? Or is it just going to make a mess of everything? One thing's for sure...Erin's life sure won't be boring anymore.

My thoughts: The Secret Society was an entirely fun, sincere, and unique read. Fairly light and quick, this book is ideal for a teenage girl who wants a humorous, relatable story they can't put down.
I loved the characters in this book: Erin and her two best friends Lindsay and Samantha were lifelike, the sort of people I'd like to be friends with. Erin was a great narrator: I really felt for her, and she had tons of personality. I was rooting for her till the end of the book. I also loved the relationship between Erin and Kiki, and how close they were: it was refreshing to see an aunt-niece relationship.
The aspect of the all-seeing crystal ball also made the story interesting and kept me on my toes--I always wondered what Erin would ask for next, and how it would go crazily (and hilariously) wrong!
The book flowed smoothly, and although it started off a bit slow, the plot continued at a steady pace. The end left me satisfied, as Ms. Green tied up all loose ends and everything made sense. Ms. Green has a wonderful writing style that hooked me in. Her descriptions were rich and deeply written, and I feel like she put a lot of emotion and hard work into perfecting her storyline--you could really tell.
I can't wait to see what's next for Erin--hopefully a sequel can be predicted in the near future!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interview with Sarah Quigley

Today's star author: Sarah Quigley
Author of: TMI
Bookworm: Welcome, Sarah! To begin, please tell us: how long did the writing process for TMI take?
Sarah: TMI's journey to publication is a bit different from most other books. In 2004, I was living in New York, teaching English, and blogging about my life. I wasn't writing novels or even thinking about it, really. Then, I received a life-changing email from an editor at Dutton Children's Books. She'd randomly run across my blog and contacted me because she though my writing style would work well in a young adult novel. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I wrote an outline for TMI. That took a few months, and with the editor's input, I made improvements. A few more months went by, and I signed a book contract with Dutton.

I finished the first draft of TMI in six months. The editing process took another year, and a little over a year after that, the book finally came out. So from start to finish, it all took about three and a half years. That may sound like a long time, but in the publishing world, it's pretty standard.

Bookworm: How are you and Becca alike? How are you different?
Sarah: Becca and I both enjoy knitting, baking, and watching classic 1980s movies like Heathers. We have a similar fashion sense. And we're both emotional and dramatic.

I don't have as much in common with Becca as I used to, though. When I was a teenager, I was definitely a TMI sort of girl. I liked the attention I got from oversharing, but underneath it all, I was pretty insecure. I didn't understand the importance of personal boundaries until I was a little older. As an adult, I still have a fairly open personality, but I don't feel the need to broadcast everything about my life to everyone.

Bookworm: Have you ever had a TMI moment like Becca?
Sarah: Too many to count, but I'll share one of the best. One of the earliest entries on my blog was a story about a boy I'd kissed when I was in college. I made the mistake of using the boy's first and last names--I couldn't resist. Everyone who hears this boy's name laughs out loud (sorry I can't share it with you, but I've already gotten into enough trouble).

Several years passed, and I forgot about the story even though it was still in the blog archives. Then I received an email from the boy, who was now 28 years old and in business school. It turns out someone had Googled him and found my blog. According to him, the story had caused some "awkward personal and professional situations", and he wanted me to remove his name from the blog. The whole message was very kind and polite, but I was horrified by what I'd done. I immediately deleted the entire post and sent him an apology.

Bookworm: Why did you choose to include the aspect of blogging into your book?
Sarah: This was my editor's idea since my blog caught her attention in the first place. On my blog, I wrote in the third person and created an alter ego for myself called Babs. My editor really liked that and thought it would be fun for the main character to do the same thing.
By the way, I made my blog private a while ago. Sorry to pique your curiosity, but some of the content isn't appropriate for young readers.

Bookworm: Have you ever been in a musical, like the Grease production in the book?
Sarah: Yes, I was quite the theater geek. My little hometown has a great community theater program, and I was involved in a dozen productions over the years. I never got a chance to be in Grease, though. My favorite role was Fruma Sarah, the butcher's dead wife, in Fiddler on the Roof.

Bookworm: Who was your favorite character, other than Becca, in the book (mine was Jai)?
Sarah: Everyone loves Jai! I do, too, of course, but my favorite character is Evan Johnson. He is exactly the kind of guy I would have had a crush on when I was fifteen. And confession: he's loosely based on my actual ninth-grade boyfriend.

Bookworm: What was a YA book that you recently read and loved?
Sarah: That's easy: Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu. It's about a girl whose mother is a compulsive hoarder. This means she never throws anything away, and their house is packed from floor to ceiling with junk. The author does an amazing job of helping the reader understand this mental illness and the effect it can have on a family. I was absolutely fascinated.

Bookworm: What's your next writing project about?
Sarah: Well, my next big project actually doesn't involve writing. I'm expecting my second baby this winter, so I'm taking a break from writing. It was a tough decision but ultimately what's best for me right now. My plan is to concentrate on being a mom for a while and return to writing when I feel ready.
Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing (and not oversharing!). I loved her hilarious story of her own TMI moment--to learn more about Sarah, visit her website here!
Sarah, I wish you all the best on the coming addition to you family--congratulations!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Few Weeks' Worth of In My Mailbox

Yes, I've failed as a blogger for the past few (days? weeks? months?). School is back and time is short...Anyhoo, here's what's been in my mailbox for the past few weeks:


  • You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
  • Troy High by Shana Norris
  • The Not-So-Great Depression by Amy Goldman Koss
  • My Double Life by Janette Rallison
  • Goddess Games by Niki Burnham
  • Plus by Veronica Chambers
  • How I Chose the Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood
  • Model by Cheryl Diamond
  • The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson
  • And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
  • And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman
For review:
  • Torment by Lauren Kate (9/28/10)
  • The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green (9/14/10)
  • Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson (11/23/10)
More posts to come soon...sorry! :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies)

Author: Justina Chen Headley
Pages: 241
Published: 2006; Little, Brown
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade: A

All her life, Patty Ho has felt incomplete. Incomplete because she's half white and half Taiwanese, and doesn't really fit in anywhere. Incomplete because her white father left her when she was two. Incomplete because her strict Taiwanese mother worships Patty's older brother (he's going to Harvard, you know). So when a fortune-telling grandmother spies a white guy on Patty's horizon, Patty's no-nonsense mom decides to ship her away to Stanford math camp. Just when Patty's sure that her summer is going to be a major bust, life starts looking up...With the help of her friends, a camp love interest, and a long-lost relative, Patty might just find herself along the way.

My thoughts: Justina Chen Headley writes meaningfully and lovingly in a way that makes me think that she based the story off of her real-life experiences. The writing was so rich and deeply written, and I loved the diverse cast of well-developed characters. Not only bi-racial teens will be able to relate to Patty: the way that she told her story really had me rooting for her to overcome all odds, and she was honest and humorous. I also loved Patty's mom and how the author totally had me thinking that she was a horrible, harsh person. And, of course, all the people that Patty met at math camp were wonderful and realistic: I loved all the adventures that Jasmine and Patty shared.
Although the book starts off very slowly, Ms. Headley had the great ability of being able to wrap it all up in the end. I closed the book with a smile, wanting more of her writing! If you're looking for a meaningful, sincere, and still funny story about acceptance and family, then I'd highly recommend Nothing but the Truth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interview with Jane Harrington


Bookworm: What was the inspiration behind 4 Things and My Best Friend?
Jane: When my middle daughter (Emma) was thirteen, I took her on a Mediterranean cruise. It was, like Brady's trip in the book, a "not mitzvah"--an event my husband and I made up to help out daughters feel that coming-of-age could be important even in a family with a mixed religious heritage. So, that was the inspiration for Four Things. The storyline is totally made up, but settings and characters are, well, familiar.
My Best Friend continues Brady's adventures, and is more imaged than Four Things, I guess you could say. I had our local high school in mind (TC Williams HS in Virginia, actually, which was the school from the movie Remember the Titans), and modeled some characters after neighborhood kids. Delia's sense of humor certainly mirrors that of one of Emma closest buddies. I had tons of fun writing My Best Friend: the characters were just off the map most of the time, and even I would crack up in surprise in the things they did and said. Hm...that sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? Maybe the creative process is really just a form of insanity. A good insanity, though!

Bookworm: Where in the world have you traveled, and where would you like to go?
Jane: From the time I was born in 1959 until I graduated high school in 1977 I never traveled beyond the east coast of the US. And then I went to college locally, in the DC area, so I STILL didn't get anywhere. But I've been trying to make up for that since. I've been to various Caribbean islands, Mexico (Mayan ruins are COOL), and in 2000, I made it to
Europe. Ireland was my first venture across the pond, then Paris another time, then the Mediterranean cruise (Italy, France, Spain, & Malta), and then Ireland three more times. That has become a bit of an obsession.

Oh, yeah! And I've gone to lots of other awesome places IN the US now, like the Grand Canyon, which is AMAZING. We went on a family rafting trip down the Colorado River there in 2009, when my oldest daughter Meghan graduated from law school. We hiked all the way down from the rim to the river, and then spent a week whitewater rafting and camping under the stars--I totally recommend that! Next trip in the works? And Alaskan cruise. CAN'T WAIT.

Bookworm: Do you have a funny travel story?
Jane: Well, there are a lot of funny things that happened on the Mediterranean cruise with Emma, and I just had a fairly zany trip to Ireland with my three sisters (for instance, our mother bought us matching raincoats for the trip, which is both funny and not funny at the same time, considering we’re all kind of OLD for that), but I think I’ll share a memory from a trip I took with my youngest daughter, Lucy, since she hasn’t figured into this interview yet. She was 18 at the time.

We were in Ireland (of course), the summer of 2009, and we decided to climb a mountain to look for a holy well from ancient Celtic times. It was the kind of place where people used to “do rounds,” which was all about chanting and going in circles, and leaving offerings, etc. People did it to get cures for illnesses, or to appease the sidhe folk (which were always causing trouble to humans), or to get good weather, a bountiful harvest, stuff like that.

We had a map, so we kind of knew where the thing was supposed to be. It took an hour to climb the mountain, and once at the top we looked and looked and looked, but couldn’t really find this well. Then Lucy noticed a small fenced-in spot in the middle of a sheep pasture, so we figured that had to be it. (It had become very obvious that this well had not been so popular in modern times.) This sheep pasture was steep, and the grass was really long. But we were determined to see the well up close. So, we carefully made our way down to the fenced-in place, and, sure enough, it was a pretty little well with purple heather growing around it. Water trickled from a rock at its base. We made offerings and wishes, and were really, really satisfied with ourselves for finding it.

When we were done, we looked back up the grassy pasture, and then down to the bottom of it, where there was another trail. I decided that going down would be easier than going back up to where we came from. Lucy didn’t agree, so we parted—she headed up, I headed down. Very soon I came to realize that under the thick grass at my feet was a LOT of water. And it was moving swiftly. As these invisible currents pulled at my shoes, and it became harder and harder to lift my feet out of the matted sod, I started getting crazy thoughts about disappearing into a watery Celtic underworld where the sidhe would shrink me or turn me into a changeling, or
marry me off to a merman, or whatever it is that sidhe do in a situation like that. SO, I did what any normal human would do in a situation like that: I starting screaming. Looking back up the hill, I could see that Lucy was standing, quite safely, on the trail above the field, while I still had half the hill to scale in order to reach bottom. She was “encouraging” me to continue on—if you consider laughing at your mother a form of encouragement—and lifted her camera and began memorializing my predicament.

Okay, this wasn’t so funny for ME, maybe, but I do laugh at the memory. Here’s one of Lucy’s pictures (obviously, I lived to tell!):

Bookworm: What's next for you, writing-wise?

Jane: The book I’m working on right now is a departure from my past published works. It’s a lengthier mix of a contemporary story of a teen traveling to Ireland + a story of an Irish family just before their exodus from that land during the Great Hunger (a.k.a. the Famine) of Ireland. The contemporary story of the teen is not a new thing for me (though humorous antics are not part of her repertoire), but the historical fiction is what has become quite a project.

The nineteenth-century Irish family is based on the genealogic record of my own Harrington ancestors, so I have felt compelled to find out as much as I can about them. I had not done any genealogy work before I started on that quest. I love it, it’s fascinating, but it’s also addictive. I spend too much time trying to piece together their lives—both in Ireland and in the US—and not enough time actually writing about them. Every time I get a chapter done, I go back and ask myself questions like, “What kinds of berries would have grown around them? Where did they go to the get water for cooking and bathing? What did their clothes look like? Did they have shoes?” I don’t mind fleshing out characters, making up dialogue and putting them into scenes (it’s fiction, after all), but I won’t be satisfied with the work unless I’ve made it as authentically honest as I can.

The desire for this authenticity has also turned me into a wannabe Irish historian. In order to get inside the heads of my characters, I needed to understand why the Irish peasants were so poor, why they starved, why they fled in such great numbers. (A million left during the years of the Great Hunger, a million more died on the streets…in a country the size of New Jersey.) So, it took a lot of reading, and a lot of imagining, and searching newspaper articles in Irish libraries, and visiting memorials, and reading old manuscripts (some in the Irish language, which I had to have translated). Whenever I could, I made this a focus of my own English graduate studies—looking at the Great Hunger through poetry from the period, for instance. I have LOVED the research. But with my master’s degree earned now, four trips to Ireland completed, and a bookshelf and laptop computer chockfull of texts, it’s time for me to finish the writing. (I repeat, now, to myself: IT’S TIME FOR ME TO FINISH THE WRITING!)

Bookworm: What is your favorite part about writing for teens?

Jane: I guess what I appreciate most about the teen reader is her complexity. When I'm writing for teens, I know I have to earn every laugh, every tear. I've written for younger ages, and that's totally fun, but there's a definite satisfaction in knowing I've pasted muster with the high school crowd. That's my goal right now, with this latest work. So I better continue on with that. (And now for the requisite metaphor:) Though it may take some serious effort to get ther--splurch, splurch, AHHHH!--I can see that path at the bottom of the hill, and it's gonna feel GREAT to stand on it.

Thanks so much, Jane! Visit Jane online here