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!