Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Very First Author Interview!

As faithful readers of this blog know, one of my favorite books this year was Undercover by Beth Kephart. Recently, I had the great privilege of being able to interview Beth over email. Beth has a fantastic blog and she posts almost daily—everything from photographs to poems to musings on the written word. Her second novel for teens, House of Dance, comes out next June (I got a sneak peek and it’s just as fabulous as Undercover!). And her fourth novel for teens was just bought by HarperTeen. Congratulations, Beth!

Em: You’ve written several adult titles, including the National Book Award Finalist A Slant of Sun. What made you decide to write books for a young adult audience?
Beth: Sometimes a world is opened up for you. I had been teaching a young writer’s workshop in my home and then at a garden for years, to begin with, and so I had the privilege of spending time with the potential readers of a young adult novel—of knowing what they look for in books. I had also, in 2001, chaired the Young People’s Literature Jury for the National Book Awards and had consequently read some 160 books for young people all in one fell swoop—which gave me a whole lot to think about in terms of what works and what doesn’t work so well. But the real impetus came from a letter I received from Laura Geringer, who has her own imprint with HarperTeen. She had read my memoirs and asked if I might consider writing for her. We talked for a while about this possibility by phone, but it wasn’t until I met her for breakfast in Philadelphia, until she began asking me a certain line of questions, that the idea for Undercover emerged.
Em: Undercover is such a powerful story and Elisa’s quest to find herself speaks to all of us. Perhaps this is a clich├ęd question, but where did you get the idea for Elisa and her story?
Beth: Elisa’s invisibility, her love of nature, her love of words, her ice skating are all drawn from who I was as a younger person, and who in many ways I continue to be. I also love “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the play, and thought what a privilege it would be to weave it into a story.
Em: One of my favorite characters in Undercover is Dr. Charmin. In fact, when I was reading the novel, I kept picturing my high school English teacher as Dr. Charmin. Did you have a Dr. Charmin in your life?
Beth: I did have a Dr. Charmin, and her name was Dr. Dewsnap. She had none of the same physical attributes as the character in my book, and we didn’t have the same conversations (nor did she assign Cyrano or anything else Elisa reads). But she had faith in me as a young poet.
Em: I love Elisa’s word journal and read that you based the idea off of your own word journal. How long have you been keeping a word journal, what gave you the idea, and could you share one or two interesting entries with us?
Beth: I started this journal in my early twenties, when I was writing about architecture for a living (now I write about pharmaceuticals for a living and need a whole different vocab for that). You’d be amazed by how many familiar words I have in here—words I simply like and want to remember to use, such as “bibelot” or “captious.” I read Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees over the summer and, as I always do, I noted the words I hadn’t seen before (or couldn’t remember seeing). Her books typically add more to my journal at one time than any other writer, but I often can’t see myself using any part of my Dillard-enriched vocabulary. “Thigmotropic” and “tonus” aren’t high on my to-use list. Patricia Hampl’s books are vocabulary rich as well, but the words I learn from her are typically better fits with my own story-telling style.
Em: I read on your blog recently that you plan on writing 4 young adult novels. Can you tell us anything about them?
Beth: House of Dance comes out next June, and it’s the story of a girl named Rosie who has been asked to take care of her dying grandfather during the summer of her 15th year. Rosie’s dad is long gone and her mother is preoccupied, and it is up to Rosie to find a way to ease her grandfather’s final days. She wants to give him a gift of some sort, even as she is helping him clean out his house, and the gift that she decides to give revolves around music and ballroom dancing—elements which, she hopes, will return him to his fondest memories in his final days. Rosie finds this gift in a quirky dance studio, learns to dance a little herself, and brings all of this back to him. House is also about the reconciliation of a daughter and a mother, and about young love.

I’ve also written a first draft of a book called The Heart Is Not a Size, which details two weeks in the lives of two best girlfriends, who travel to a squatter’s village called Anapra, in Juarez, Mexico, for a mission trip. It’s the story of what happens to them and to their friendship during this time and, in particular, during a near tragedy. HarperTeen has also bought this book.

A fourth book is called Nothing But Ghosts and is a mystery of sorts. I’m still working on it.

Finally, I’ve written a long short story for a HarperTeen collection due out in 2010—this about the aftermath of a teen suicide.
Em: If you had just one piece of advice for young writers, what would it be?
Beth: This is truly terrible, but when I’m asked this question, I can never really settle on one piece of advice. Reading is exceedingly important, of course —always read more than you write. Be willing to fail; that’s critical, too, for having structures fall apart in our hands and having characters lose their centers, then figuring out the fix, is what stretches us and makes us better writers in the long run. Pay attention to the world around you. Listen to the way people talk to one another.
Em: What are some of your favorite young adult books? Which ones influenced you while growing up?
Beth: I’m again going to be completely honest here and report that my greatest influence, always, was music. I loved musicals like My Fair Lady and The Music Man and The Sound of Music—listened to the albums endlessly, loved the way that stories got told through melodies. I was writing poetry as a kid, and these musicals were critical. And rather early on I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was an enormous influence. Of more traditional YA literature, I loved Black Beauty, Pippi Longstocking, and all things Robert Louis Stevenson.
Em: You post photographs almost daily to your blog. I love taking pictures myself although unfortunately, I haven’t made time for it lately. Do you use a digital camera? Do you consider yourself to be first an author or first a photographer?
Beth: Wow, you are a great interviewer, and I love this question. I do use a digital camera (I was a late convert). I don’t think of myself as either an author or a photographer (those are big words, earned by great talents). I think of myself as one who is out there bearing witness, trying to get the world down, trying to live every day to the fullest. I think of myself as someone who is always trembling on the verge of exuberance.
Em: We all know the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and I just have to say that the covers for Undercover & House of Dance are amazing. Did you have any input during the design process?
Beth: Oh, thank you. Yes, those covers are great gifts, aren’t they? I did have input—but the best thing of all is that Laura Geringer and Jill Santopolo, my editors, allowed me to have input. They listened to me, they sent a number of possibilities back to the drawing boards, and in the end, there was no compromise—we all love these covers equally. In the end, too, they are the products of two great designers.
Em: What is your favorite thing about being a writer? And on the flip side, what is the hardest part about being a writer?
Beth: Wow (again). My favorite thing about being a writer….? Perhaps that it gives me an excuse to do what I love most, which is to read and to live my life with urgency. The hardest part is never being as good as I want to be. I also try hard not to read reviews—good or bad.
Em: I’ve heard all sorts of crazy stories about strange writing habits, such as wearing only one sock while writing or only using a lucky pen or, and this is the grossest, not showering during the last few weeks of writing a novel. Do you have any quirky writing habits that you’d be willing to share with us?
Beth: Whoa, no. I’m actually pretty straightforward over here in my lovely office. I do rely on movement quite a bit, though, when working out a plot detail. I take long walks and in the morning I dance for a half hour or so, thinking almost exclusively about the story the whole time. When I’m working on a book (and I’m mostly always working on a book), I usually get up between 3 AM and 4 AM so that I can get some writing time in. I run a pretty hectic business during the daylight hours and do a lot of pro bono work, so it’s during those early morning hours that I get the most writing done, except, of course, when my UK-based clients start ringing me up at 4 AM (which happens more than most might expect).
Em: I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of my favorite authors, most notably Michael Ondaatje, and I always clam up. I think I’ll be able to play it cool and just as soon as I’m standing in front of them, ready to get my book signed, I can’t think of a single thing to say! Have you ever been in a similar situation?
Beth: Well, let me say this, when Michael Ondaatje (one of my very favorite writers, too) came to my town I didn’t even get up the nerve to go up to the table! I did send him a long letter once, though, that he answered (kind soul). Another writer whose work I absolutely adore is Colum McCann, and this time, when he came to town, I got up the nerve to speak with him. I was nearly last in line and there with a friend and he spoke with us for a very long time. It all pays off, if you can summon the nerve.
Em: Is there any question you wish I had asked that I didn’t?
Beth: Not a single one. This has been a lot of fun.
Thanks for being my very first author interview, Beth!

I had so much fun writing these interview questions and later reading Beth's answers. I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did.

Other Resources:
Beth's Blog
Beth's Page at HarperTeen
Undercover at HarperTeen
Become a reviewer for House of Dance

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sneak Peak at 2008

So based on what I've seen of books to be released in 2008, I think it will be easy to stick to my New Year's Resolution. Here are some of the books that will make it a little easier....
I've already read these three. Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen, House of Dance by Beth Kephart, and Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway. I'm going to wait until they are released to post my reviews but, let me just say, they rock. They're already the best books I've read in 2008 and it's not even January!
I haven't read these yet and I'm really pining for them. I do have a copy of Sweethearts by Sara Zarr waiting for me, but if you have Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock or Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott, maybe you could pass them along to me. We could do a book swap. 2 for 1 (two of my books for one of yours). What do you say? Pretty please?!

Favorite Books of 2007

Even though the year isn't quite over yet, I thought I'd post my favorite books of 2007. I did a lot of reading this year (over 140 books!) and I posted reviews for 36 of those. I've never made a New Year's Resolution but I'm thinking that maybe this year I'll resolve to read 200 books and post reviews for 70 of them.

Em's Fav Teen Books of 2007 (in no particular order)
Tithe by Holly Black
The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce
Undercover by Beth Kephart
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Evolution Me & Other Freaks by Robin Brande
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
I'd Tell You I'd Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

And here are some "adult" books that I enjoyed too...
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I've really loved blogging this year. It's so exciting to chat with other people who love great books and teen books in particular. Thanks to everyone for all the recommended books that are now on my list of must-reads! And check back later this week for a special book contest.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weekend Movies

I recently saw two great movies in the theater. The first was Enchanted. I wasn't expecting much before I went to see it - I just thought it would be a good Saturday afternoon diversion. (Confession time - I was dying to see it as soon as I heard that Dr. McDreamy was in it!) It was a great movie! It poked fun at Disney stereotypes and also had a cute, heartwarming story. I went to see it with some friends and one guy just started groaning as soon as the first song started. But he was smiling when we left the theater so I guess he got over the musical aspect of it. Oh, and I just found out that small roles were played by the ladies who were the voices for the animated Ariel, Belle, and Pocahontas. I grew up watching Disney princess movies and found Enchanted to be just as much fun. Plus, Dr. McDreamy. *sigh*

The other movie that I saw this weekend was The Golden Compass. It's been awhile since I read the books so I wasn't as upset about scenes left out as other people I've talked to. I thought the daemons were done really well - except why didn't anyone else's daemon talk? Didn't they talk in the books? Or am I remembering incorrectly? Nicole Kidman was a great pick for Ms. Coulter. She just oozed evilness - it was wonderful. The ending left a lot to be desired though and I can't find any information about filming for The Subtle Knife. It would make a good movie trilogy but they'd better hurry or Lyra will be too old.

Queen Geek Social Club by Laura Preble Book Review

The Queen Geek Social Club by Laura Preble
(Penguin, Paperback)

Rating:

Shelby Chapelle is happy being a loner geek, until Becca Gallagher moves into town. Becca is a geek too, but she's a geek with ambition. Becca wants to start The Queen Geek Social Club at their high school and recruit other geeky girls to join them. Throw in a few other queen geeks and a popular guy who just happens to have a little geek in him, and Shelby is in for an exciting freshman year.

Ok, so I have to admit that this book intrigued me because, well, let's just say that I'm a bit of a geek myself. My brother often calls me by the affectionate nickname "dork". So I understood Shelby and enjoyed reading about her friendship with Becca. Shelby has always enjoyed being the lone geek, so she's not too sure if she's ready for Becca's grand publicity schemes. Preble follows up this book with Queen Geeks in Love, another funny geek novel. In Queen Geeks in Love, Shelby, Becca, and the other Queen Geeks decide to create a comic book based on themselves - The Queen Geek Superheroes. And Shelby has to come to terms with her relationship with Fletcher (the cute, popular, geek guy) - will she stay a lone Queen Geek or is Fletcher worth opening up her heart? If you've ever thought of yourself as a geek or maybe just a tiny bit nerdy, these books are worth reading. After all, geeky is the new cool.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Hook a Hottie by Tina Ferraro Book Review

How to Hook a Hottie by Tina Ferraro
(Random House, Paperback)
Rating:

Kate is a no-nonsense girl, intent on becoming a millionaire before the age of twenty. She has a deal with her parents - raise $5,000 before senior year is over and she doesn't have to waste four precious, potential money-earning years in college. Her piggy bank is looking a little grim until the hottest guy in school asks her out. Now all of a sudden, every girl in school is asking Kate for help on how to hook a hottie. That's when she comes up with her Six Point Plan. For only $100, any girl in school can learn Kate's Hexagon For Hooking Hotties. But does Kate really know what she's talking about?

I'm not sure I would pay $100 to learn how to snag a cute guy, but Kate's story is laugh-out-loud funny. Enter in a super cute best guy friend, Dal, and Kate's predicament is even funnier. Dal's her best friend, plus he has a girlfriend, and yet Kate can't stop comparing every guy to him. Luckily, Dal is helping her hoodwink the girls in school and his hottie-hooking tips seem to be working. My favorite tip was the one that Dal saved for last. Look for this novel on shelves in January. It's a quick read and sure to be a good diversion on a snowy day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker Book Review

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
(Penguin, Paperback)

Rating:

Violet has been plain her whole life. Plain and freakishly tall. So when a lady gives her a business card for a modeling agency in New York, she's shocked and not quite sure what to do. It's her senior year, she's got a great job at a theater, and she's got awesome friends. Does she really want to give all that up and become a model? Well, one weekend won't hurt. And with that, Violet heads to New York.

Violet on the Runway is a novel about a girl who has never really fit in. Violet is a great character because we've all felt like her at one time or another, awkward and plain. It's fun to read about how Violet blossoms (pardon the pun) during her time as a model in New York. As she learns, it's not all fun and games, and being a good friend is more important than being a good model. The sequel, Violet by Design, is out in March 2008 and I can't wait! I really hope that Violet's friends, Roger & Julie, are in this one a little more. They only had a few tantalizing scenes in Violet on the Runway, but they were crucial scenes.

Oh, and one last thing. I know absolutely nothing about fashion. I mean, I like nice clothes but I couldn't name a designer to save my life. Remember the scene in Sweet Home Alabama when Lurlynn thinks Melanie's shirt is the $30 variety? Let's just say that Lurlynn probably knows more about fashion than me. But I still really liked this book! So, fashionista or not, you should check out Violet on the Runway.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Luxe by Ana Godbersen Book Review

The Luxe by Ana Godbersen
(Harper Teen, Hardcover)

Rating:

The Luxe tells the story of 5 teens in 1899 Manhattan. Imagine Jane Austen mixed with a lot of Gossip Girl. Society rules are all important and the girls must all decide if they will abide by the rules or make their own.

I really couldn't decide whether to give this book one star or two. The writing is good. Godbersen writes about places so that you can picture them. Her characters are well-written and you could easily picture your best friend or worst enemy saying and doing the things that her characters do. But I wanted to give it one star because about 1/4 of the way into the book, I knew exactly what would happen. Obviously, I didn't know all the intricacies of the plot (there were a few surprises) but I figured most of it out. Plus, the main character was a wishy-washy girl. I hate wishy-washy girls. I mean, if you know what you want, just go after it. Yes, there should be a certain amount of deliberation but this girl arguably ruins everything for herself. I decided, however, to give it two stars because I did finish it. And even though I knew what would happen, it still kept my interest. So, don't rush out and buy the hardcover. But if someone gives it to you as a gift this year, I wouldn't exchange it right away. Plus, the cover is gorgeous. Can you imagine wearing a dress like that??!!

Pirates! by Celia Rees Book Review

Pirates by Celia Rees
(Bloomsbury, Paperback)

Rating:

Nancy Kington has been raised, for the most part, as a proper English lady. But when her dad dies, she is sent to his plantation in the West Indies. There she learns that she is to be married off to a cruel man who owns the neighboring plantation. She and her new-found friend and slave, Minerva, escape aboard a pirate ship. And that is where the adventure begins.

I picked this book up because it was voted a Teen's Top Ten Pick by Amazon. Nancy was a great character to tell this story - her voice is authentic and compelling. I found myself feeling trapped when she was trapped and free when she was sailing the seas. I'm also all about strong secondary characters in books and Pirates! has a lot of great characters, including Graham, the pirate ship's doctor, and Broom, the ship's captain. Celia Rees added some interesting philosophical elements about pirates and the British navy. As Nancy finds out, neither is all good or all bad. It reminded me a lot of Jean Ferris' Into the Wind series, which I read about 20 times while growing up and highly recommend. Nancy is a gritty main character, full of introspection. In the Into the Wind series, Rosie is sheltered and full of curiosity about the world. Similar time period and similar issues, but different plots and main characters.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones Book Review

The Faerie Path Trilogy by Frewin Jones
(Eos, 1st in paperback, 2nd & 3rd in Hardcover)
Rating:

On her 16th birthday, after a horrible accident, Anita finds herself transported to another world. This world is the world of faerie and Anita learns that she is Tania, the long lost seventh daughter of the king and queen. Suddenly, Anita finds herself in the middle of six sisters and a 500-year-old prophecy that threatens to destroy both the faerie world and the human world. She also learns that Evan, her boyfriend in the human world is really Edric of the faerie court. Who can she trust and how can she save both of her families?

Overall, this was a interesting series. Although it uses some standard fantasy elements, the plot held my interest through all three books, The Faerie Path, The Lost Queen, and The Sorcerer King. Tania, as she decides to be called, is a strong heroine who isn't afraid to battle evil but is a little afraid that her human parents are going to be mad at her for disappearing. The books are written mostly in the faerie world and Tania's sisters and Edric make for unusual side characters.

Update: There are two other books in this series. The fourth book is called The Immortal Realm and it's available now. The fifth book, Enchanted Quest, is due to come out in January 2010.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter Book Review

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
(Hyperion, Paperback)

Rating:

Being a Bond Girl has it's advantages (namely, James Bond). But wouldn't it be way cooler to actually be a spy instead of just knowing one? Meet Cammie Morgan, spy-in-training. Cammie goes to the all-girls Gallagher Academy which has been producing spies since Abraham Lincoln's time. The girls at Gallagher learn every language in the world, take PhD physics classes, and learn serious kick-butt maneuvers in gym class. But does Cammie do when she meets a cute boy in town? Exactly what any Gallagher girl would do. She treats it like a Covert Ops mission. She wire taps his house, hacks into his email account, and even steals his trash (although, technically, trash left on the curb is public property).

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You is a thoroughly enjoying read. I couldn't stop laughing at Cammie and her friends. I loved how they turned a normal girl crush into a huge spy mission. The book is full of great spy-girl dialogue, like this scene where Cammie is sneaking out for a date with Josh:
"I pulled the tapestry aside and started to slip in, just as Bex said, 'Knock 'em dead!'. I was already inside when Liz yelled after me, 'But not literally!' "
The sequel, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, is as funny and entertaining as the first novel. Cross My Heart is all about what happens when the Gallagher girls have to team up with a bunch of guys from an all-boys spy academy. I just finished the 2nd book last night and thought to myself that it was a satisfying conclusion and the author could either leave it at two books or write another sequel. Then, a little while ago, I read on Ally's blog that she just started Book 3. I can't wait to read it! I only wish that she had just finished it instead of just started it. Check out Ally's website for some cool stuff including an application to attend Gallagher Academy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Last Apprentice - Halloween Read

Imagine that you are the only thing that stands between civilization and the things that go bump in the night. You alone must protect friends, family, and strangers from evil spirits such as witches, banes, and boggarts. Thomas Ward is the Spook's Apprentice and his job is to help the Spook defeat these creatures. Not only is Thomas the Spook's Apprentice, but he is also The Last Apprentice. For years, Old Gregory has protected the County from evil, but his time is passing and he needs to find the next Spook. Twenty-nine apprentices have tried and failed. Thomas is the last hope.

This is a great series to read for Halloween. Though written for middle readers, these books make delightfully scary reads for older audiences as well. The first in this series by Joseph Delaney is Revenge of the Witch, followed by Curse of the Bane and Night of the Soul Stealer. Delaney has quite a following in the UK but this series is still fairly new to the U.S. Another really cool thing about these books is the beautiful chapter art. Each chapter is decorated with a wood-cut type drawing. The page is black with a white outline depicting a spooky scene. I also found this great review of the series over at Bookmoot.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Starred Review and A CONTEST to win Undercover by Beth Kephart!!

A few months ago, I reviewed a new book called Undercover by Beth Kephart. I am ecstatic to announce that it recently received a starred review in Publishers Weekly magazine (Oct 1st issue)! Here's some highlights from the review:
Neatly balancing action and contemplation, Kephart offers a plethora of images, ideas about literature and even some well-known poems along with a plot that will speak to many teens.
In honor of this rave review, I'm holding a contest for a copy of Undercover. I've never held a contest before so I'm super excited about this. In fact, I'm so excited that I'm also throwing in a mini "word journal" from Paperblanks. (See my earlier review of Undercover for an explanation of the word journal.)
Just leave me a comment or send an email to emsbookshelf (at) gmail (dot) com, and you'll be entered to win. I'll draw a name from a hat on October 30th. Think of it as a Halloween present!

Happy Reading!
-Em

p.s. Beth recently started her own blog and she's been filling it with wonderful poems, pictures, and thoughts about the writing process. Make sure to check it out!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Take a Book to the Movies

Lately, it seems like there are tons of movies in theaters that are based on books. (If you haven't seen Stardust, you should go this weekend - it's great). But have you ever thought about the books that are displayed in the movie? The books on the shelf in a character's bedroom? Or the book that the main character is reading on the subway? I've been reading a lot lately about books in movies and am sad to say that I've never really noticed which books show up in movies! Now I'll have to start paying attention.
Superfast Reader recently posted about some books in movies and TV shows. She also had this really cool job where she got to pick out a library for a movie set! Please, sign me up for that job! :-) She also mentions this fun article from the New Yorker Magazine. It's hard enough picking out books for myself - imagine picking out books for hundreds of actors!
Oh, and speaking of movies based on books, here's a hilarious video that Alyssa over at The Shady Glade made...it's the movie we've all been waiting for, Harry Potter meets Pride & Prejudice.
Happy Reading!
-Em

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher Book Review

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
(Razorbill, Hardcover)
Rating:

This book isn't out until October 18th but I just had to post on it right away. Why? Because this is absolutely my favorite book of the year. Put it on your wishlist now and when you get it, be prepared to sit down and read it cover to cover. Here's the premise...Clay Jensen returns home from school one day and finds a package of 13 tapes on his front door step. Only, the tapes are from a girl in his class that committed suicide.

Here's a short excerpt to show you what a great writer Jay is (and I'm paraphrasing)...
"Hello, boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo. I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why. I'm not saying which tape brings you into the story. But fear not, if you received this lovely little box, your name will pop up...I promise. Now, why would a dead girl lie?"

Each of the 13 tapes tells the story of one person and how they contributed to Hannah's suicidal state of mind. This is a story of Hannah, but also of Clay who is the narrator. This book sat on my bookshelf for months and I kept thinking, oh, I don't want to read a depressing book right now. But I promise, this book isn't the average dying-teen book. It's so much more. It's the story of how one boy copes with the death of a girl he liked. And it's the story of how each action affects someone else. And it's the story of how brutal high school can be. And it's the story of the importance of connections, how tenuous they can be and how strong they can be. I haven't read a book that was so riveting and thought-provoking in years. I know you can't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case, it really captures the tone of the novel.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith Book Review

Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
(Little Brown, Hardcover)
Rating:

I read this book a few months ago and forgot to write notes about it, so bear with me. To give you an idea of the plot, here's the excerpt from the back of the book:

"Beautiful Morgan D'Amici wakes in her trailerpark home with dirt and blood under her fingernails. Paintings come alive under Ondine Mason's violet-eyed gaze. Haunted runaway Nix Saint-Michael sees halos of light around people about to die. At a secret summer rave, the three teenagers learn of their true, changeling nature and their uncertain, intertwined destinies."

If you liked A Great & Terrible Beauty, Tithe, or Wicked Lovely, you'll like this book. Odine was my favorite character - I especially liked how paintings seemed alive when Odine looks at them. She was a little more fleshed out than the other main characters, maybe because the book started with her. I usually cling to whatever character a book starts out with...do you do that? I'm giving this book only two stars because it was hard for me to keep track of all the characters at first and because, well, after a few months the details just fade away.

Oh, and let's talk about the cover for a second...it kinda turns me off. Maybe because it's an ugly bright yellow with tints of green. What do you think? "Yay" or "No Way" on the cover?