The Compulsive Reader: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Farewell and Many Thanks to Annabel and Elisabeth!

We have loved being book of the month at Compulsive Reader! We?ve talked a lot about Click! and hope that those of you who are reading it are having fun and are putting it to great use. We really believe that you can turn your energy around and start making great things happen by reading what we have to say and using the journal. Why are we so sure? Well, because it worked for us? Okay, before we start sounding too much like an infomercial, let us tell you our story.

We've spent a lot of time bonding over topics like why do good things keep happening to the same people, and why do people always complain about the same stuff, and, most importantly, why aren't more people happy? So we went back and forth about our ideas about what it really takes to make what you want in your life happen until one day Elisabeth said "Don't you wish you knew all this when you were a teenager?" And so with a couple of labor pains and teeth gritting pushes, a book was born.

The funny thing is that we came up against all the stuff we talk about in Click! while we were writing it and trying to get it published. Annabel's initial response to Elisabeth's suggestion that they write this book was the classic, "That would be so great. But we've never written a book, I've got 3 kids and no time, who would ever publish a book by 2 unknown authors?" E-vite: No book, no time, no way!. RSVP: Yes.

We knew we were going to have to start walking the walk if we were going to get people to turn their E-vites around, so we started using the journal ourselves. We made a mock up of the journal you now see in the back of the book, had 4 weeks of it photocopied at Staples and carried it everywhere we went. We wrote stuff like, "It's going to be so great when our book gets published, it's going to reach so many girls and really help them turn things around. The book is going to be fun because we are having fun writing it." And tons more queer stuff like that. But writing it all down and re-reading it gave us no room for "This is impossible, it'll never happen for us!"

We even had a Plan B. Click! defines Plan B this way: (n) strategy that sane people use to keep from getting all wacked out over a single idea. Ours was to self-publish. We looked into our Plan B and kept it in the backs of our minds as we pursued publishers. Having a Plan B is kind of like knowing there are other cool guys out there when pursuing a crush. No one likes a stalker.

OK, so the punch line is this: at the end of 4 weeks we found ourselves sitting in the offices of Simon and Schuster with lovely and interested publishing and marketing people asking us questions and offering to publish our book.

Magic? Um, did we forget to mention the part where we busted our butts and stayed up all night writing and rewriting? Did we mention that we then had to finish the book, add 200 pages and rewrite it 1,000 times? Did we mention that it was SO MUCH FUN?

Please, please, please let us know what you thought about the book! Let us know how the journal is working for you. Let us know if going even one day replacing a complaint with a feeling of gratitude helps you. And, most importantly, let us know where you get stuck. Write to us about what you really really want and we?ll see how we can tweak or overhaul your E-vites as necessary. Visit us at www.clickthegirlsguide.com.

*Note from TCR: And a huge thank you to Annabel and Elisabeth for helping me make the first ever Book of the Month such a huge success! It's been loads of fun!

And now, one lucky winner will get a chance to read ALL Elizabeth and Annabel have to say in their book Click! Congratulations to Rachel S. for winning a copy of Click! Be sure to tell us what you think of the book!

Thanks again Annabel and Elisabeth and be sure to check in next Thursday to see what February's Book of the Month is!

P.S. Check out The Book Burger's Contest! They're giving away lots of books! And they're really nice! So go check it out!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Faerie Lord by Herbie Brennan

Henry Atherton has been desperately trying to forget about his friends in the Faerie Realm for the last two years, which is a bit hard considering his responsibility of looking after Mr. Fogarty's abandoned house and temperamental cat. It is while tending Hodge that Pyrgus and Nymph make a sudden reappearance. Only...Pyrgus has aged considerably due to a mysterious disease running rampant throughout Faerie that is causing them to grow old at an alarming rate. With very little persuasion, Henry plunges back into Faerie to aid the realm in the search for a cure. But soon he finds himself far, far away from The Purple Palace and in a desolate land with only an intelligent and primitive blue-skinned boy for company. Now it's a race against time to find a miracle that will save all of Faerie...

Old enemies, new friends and an age-old battle are all mixed in with lovable and familiar characters to make up a thrilling conclusion to the riveting story that began in Faerie Wars. As Brennan's characters have grown and matured, so has his writing. Unfortunately, some characters aren't as present in Faerie Lord as they were in previous books, but the story line has more than enough drama, suspense and mystery to make up for it. Though readers will be sad that Henry, Pyrgus, and Blue's adventures have some to an end, the ending is one that is more than satisfying.

Today's your last chance to enter to win the Click! giveaway! Just email your name, address, and email to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com and I'll throw your name in! Good luck!

And by the way...head on over to The Page Flipper for a chance to win Go Figure by Jo Edwards. All you have to do is leave her a comment!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby

Cleo O'Shea, wealthy and selfish, and Alex Ford, dedicated and focused, couldn't make a more unlikely pair. But yet they're thrown together when they both begin dressage lessons with two of Europe's finest trainers. Alex can't believe his good luck, but for Cleo, it's just an excuse to get away from the stuffy Stoneleigh Riding Academy she is forced to endure, thanks to her always absent parents. Yet a series of events will show them that people aren't always as they seem, and sometimes the most unlikely person can become a friend.

From the author that brought you the Alice McLeod: Realist At Last, Another Kind of Cowboy is funny, unique, and distinct. The witty and insightful plot is full of mulitlayered and likable characters that come alive with Juby's knack for descriptive detail, and their problems are those that any teen can empathize with. This one is sure to be a winner with horse enthusiasts and non horse lovers alike.
Remember, tomorrow is your last chance to enter to win our Book of the Month, Click! by Annabel Monaghan and Elisabeth Wolfe. Just send me your name, address, and email with Click! in the headline to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com! Winners will be announced Thursday!

Monday, January 28, 2008

House of Dance by Beth Kephart

Rosie Keith is in for a long summer. Her friends are all scattered for the three months at various jobs and camps, and her mother is hardly ever home, preferring to spend time with her business partner, who is also the man she is having an affair with. So Rosie turns to her grandfather, who is dying of cancer. During those long summer days, she helps Granddad clean through his multitudes of possessions, placing things to keep In Trust. It is on one of those day she discovers The House of Dance, and begins taking lessons there, hoping to put In Trust again a few of Granddad's long-ago memories before he is gone for good.

House of Dance is a distinct and intense look at Rosie's life, her losses, and how her family reacts. Kephart's words are lyrical and her incisive style propels the reader easily through the book. Her in-depth look at illness and foreshadowing of death are very realistic and heartfelt. You will find yourself relating easily to Rosie, and admiring her strength in this wonderfully crafted novel.

Also reviewed for HarperTeen. This book will be available through HarperCollin on May 27, 2008.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker

Violet Greenfield just sort of exists. She's not especially good at anything in particular, she doesn't have many friends, and she can't seem to shake the plain image she's been carrying around forever. Just before her senior year, Violet's main goals are to get into college, refrain from growing past her respective height of 6'1'', and to become a member of the BK, the most popular clique in school. Violet knows that they're petty bullies in nice clothes, and that her chances of becoming friends with them are nil, but a girl can dream, right? However, a chance encounter with an agent from Tryst Models will catapult Violet into a world of glitz and glam, and she'll find herself far more famous than she ever could have imagined...

Violet on the Runway is an unflinching, honest, and fascinating look into the seemingly fabulous life of fashion models. Melissa Walker unabashedly explores the more serious topics that are associated with celebrities, while at the same time creating in Violet an admirable, strong, and fun-loving character who is at the same time a very engrossing narrator. Though many of the plot twists are those you've been reading for years, Walker's unique style and vibrant characters will make them seem new in this wonderfully crafted and fast paced novel that wraps up perfectly...until a surprise ending leaves the plot wide open for another marvelous look into the world of Violet.

Look for the sequel, Violet by Design in April, and Violet in Private in August!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day by Meg Cabot

I know that this book is a little young compared to what is normally reviewed on this site, but it was such a cute read, I couldn't exclude it!

Allie Finkle, a precocious, adventurous, and outspoken nine-year-old, is on a mission. A mission to keep her parents from making the worst decision of their lives and move her and her brothers out of their perfectly fine suburban home and into a creaky, dark, and gloomy Victorian house. Even such incentives as a new best friend, a new school, and a kitten all her own aren't enough to convince Allie that moving may actually be fun. Because Allie has a rule for everything...and one of them is: You can't let your family move into a haunted house!

For any Meg Cabot fan in training, Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls is a must read. Working the charm that won over the teenage set, Cabot expertly brings Allie to life in this laugh out loud book. A lively narrator, Allie will keep you entertained with her many exploits and her stark honesty. This is a book that Cabot readers new and old, young and not so young will all enjoy. Meg Cabot is on the fast track to the top of kids lit, with the promise of many more to come.

For more things Allie, visit megcabot.com or scholastic.com/alliefinkle

Also reviewed for TRT.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar

Charlie Brown is not a team player. This is what she tells the new soccer coach when she is recruited to play soccer on her school's losing soccer team. And with a name like hers, you can't help but sympathize. Charlie would rather surf all day than play on the same team as her perfect sister Krista. The stereotypical IT girl, Krista is blond, athletic, popular, and beautiful. Everything Charlie is not, and for that reason alone, the two hate each other. And suddenly going out for the soccer team seems like the perfect way to spite Krista. But what neither Charlie nor Krista expected was that Charlie would actually make the team. Or that should she would stay...

Pretty Tough is a novel that re-defines all of those stereotypes that run deep in YA literature. This is a novel with an empowering message: girls can be athletic, brainy, tough, and fashionable. All the while Tigelaar gives a strong and unflinching look at how seemingly unimportant decisions can make a lasting effect, especially on those you love. The true depths of the bonds of sisterhood are realized in this heartwarming and heart pumping novel full of love, acceptance, drama, strength and forgiveness.

Look for Liz's next book, Playing with the Boys, in April!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Top Ten Best Ways to Turn Your Energy Around

Your energy is inviting all kinds of stuff into your life. Focus your energy on the stuff you don’t like, that’s what you’ll get. Re-focus on what you really want, and it’s coming your way a lot faster. If you want to get your energy working for you, not against you, here are 10 things to do to turn your energy around fast:

1. Cut to the chase. Take all the stuff that’s flying around in your head and ask yourself what you really want. Set one or two goals that you know are yours - not your friends’, not your parents – yours!

2. REFOCUS on what you want: When you think about what you want, does it sound like this: I really want to make the tennis team but I totally humiliated myself at tryouts last year, and all those girls know each other so well and I am going to screw this up, and it’s totally unfair! Focus your thoughts on how great it will feel to be on the tennis team. Delete all that other garbage.

3. Beware of the desperate crush! Why do you like him so much? Is he really so great or is his appeal just what he represents to you? If you’re into him because he seems cool and confident, maybe those are qualities you need to start developing in yourself. Work on yourself and you’ll start feeling less desperate. Desperate energy doesn’t bring anything but more desperation, swap it for a little confidence and see what you get.

4. Zip it. Ever notice that yicky feeling you get after you’ve really dished some serious gossip. It’s the bad energy you’re feeling and duck, because it’s coming back at you like a boomerang. Next time, when you’re about to get sucked in, walk away or pretend your cell phone’s ringing.

5. No whining! What you focus on most intensely is what you are attracting more of. So moaning about your big butt, your sadistic teacher and your lame parents will bring you…. More of the same.

6. Day dream. Take 3 minutes and really visualize that what you want it already yours. Where are you when you get the great news? What are you wearing? Who’s the first person you’ll tell? How do you feel? If you can really feel it, your energy has invited it.

7. Get grounded. It’s hard to focus on what you want when you’re frazzled. Take a few minutes every day to get organized, check when your assignments are due, make sure your favorite jeans are ready for Friday night. When you feel in charge of the little things it’s easier to focus on the big stuff.

8. Neg the negative people. Is there anyone in your life who is always dragging you down? It’s time to send them to the left, to the left! Try to spend more time with your friends who are a little more positive and who make you feel good about yourself. Don’t get sucked into someone else’s misery.

9. Get some ‘tude. Sorry, we just mean gratitude. The quickest jumpstart for good energy is to think of a couple of things you already have that you feel thankful for. It’s an easy way to attract more things to feel great about.

10. Meet the Universe Halfway. You can have items 1-9 perfected, but really making it happen requires you to take inspired action steps toward your goal. If you want new friends, make eye contact with your lab partner rather than the beaker. Don’t wear that new pair of Steve Madden 2 inch heels to the first hike of the Outdoors Club you are trying to join. And just so you know, it’s usually true that term papers don’t write themselves. Remember, the Universe will do it’s part, but you have to help it along.

Check out Click! The Girls Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making it Happen by Annabel Monaghan and Elisabeth Wolfe. Learn more about what your energy is attracting, take the quizzes to see where you may need a tune up. Use the day planner to start making the things you want happen. Also check out clickthegirlsguide.com for more information!

*Note from TCR: Remember, all entries for the Click! giveaway are due by next Wednesday night! To enter to win a free copy of Click!, shoot me an email with your name, address, and email address. A very simple and pain-free thing, I promise!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Nightmare Academy by Dean Lorey

If Charlie Benjamin ever had any hope of being a normal kid, it vanished in a cloud of smoke the night he went to that sleepover and he unwittingly unleashed a monster, causing the other kids to avoid him like the plague. Because Charlie's nightmares have a strange tendency to come to life. Each night sets loose a new terrifying creature...until the night Charlie wakes up to find Rex, Tabitha, and Pinch, combatants against these monsters, corralling them back to where they came from...Nether, a world where monsters reside, let loose into our world by the sprinkling of portals that are opened when certain children dream. It's then that Charlie learns he has a gift far greater than any average child. He must attend The Nightmare Academy to learn how to control his powers. There he will make friends and enemies, learn the true extent of his gift, and start to come to terms with his own destiny.

The Nightmare Academy is a rollicking read, full to the brim of strong, unique and witty characters, wild and mysterious settings, and one fast paced and engaging adventure. You'll find yourselves almost wishing to be Charlie or his friends as this tale unfolds. For those who are still mourning over the completion of Harry Potter, or are waiting for the next Charlie Bone installment, here is one book that will keep you reading late into the deepest part of night, with an ending that promises much more to come. The Nightmare Academy is a winner.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dragons from the Sea: Book Two in The Strongbow Saga by Judson Roberts

The sequel to Viking Warrior, Book One in the Strongbow Saga, Dragons from the Sea pick right up from where the first book left off. Once a slave, Halfdan sets out for Frankia, seeking fortune and vengeance. His skills with the longbow ensure that he is taken on a ship, despite the crew's misgivings. He makes enemies and friends and proves once again his intelligence and skill, building up to yet another abrupt ending that will leave readers gasping in anticipation.

Living up to it's predecessor, Dragons from the Sea is lively and sharp. You'll have to pay close attention to this gripping peek at life during the Viking era. Steeped with many historical facts told in a highly entertaining way that never grows dull, Robert's latest will keep you enraptured til the very end.

The sequel, The Road to Vengeance, will be available from HarperCollins June 17, 2008, so be on the lookout! I can barely stand the wait!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dirty Work by Julia Bell

Warning: If you are easily upset, or are you are younger than 14, this book may not be for you.

Hope never thinks anything interesting will happen in her life. She seems to be on the fast track to nowhere, and her parents despair of ever understanding her. But she is jolted out of her quiet and idyllic life when she encounters Oksana, a Russian girl who has been sold as a sex slave. Hope's tentative friendship with Oksana leads to her own kidnapping by the owner Oksana is running from. These girls have only each other, and they will have to overcome their bitterness and prejudice and work together to escape from their captors. But will it be too late?

Dirty Work is a riveting and captivating read. The pages go by quickly, and Bell keenly builds suspense throughout the entire book by interspersing flashbacks of Oksana's past in between telling the two girls' predicament. Without being inappropriate or too mature, Dirty Work easily conveys the horrors of human trafficking and how very easy it is to get caught up in it. This terrifying, entrancing novel will certainly grab your attention, and won't let go long after the book is finished.
Also reviewed for TRT.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lucky by Rachel Vail

Phoebe, the youngest of the Avery sisters, is graduating from middle school. Her life seems perfect. She and her four best friends will be having the party of the year, she has an eye on the perfect dress, and the promise of high school's new beginnings. But when Phoebe's mom starts acting weird, and her friend starts alienating her, her perfect conclusion to her eighth grade year is at stake. Can Phoebe pull it together and do what's right, even if it means swallowing her pride and forgoing what she wants most?

Lucky is the wholly enjoyable first novel in Rachel Vail's new trilogy. Phoebe is a nicely relatable narrator that nearly anyone can empathize with. Her problems are those that we've all faced at one time or another, reminding us once again that you don't have to have to be privelaged to be able to solve them with your dignity intact. Witty and engaging, by the time this coming of age story is spun, you'll feel truly lucky to read it.

Lucky will be available from HarperCollins Publishing March 29, 2008.
Also reviewed for TRT.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

Twelve-year-old Louise Collins's quiet and uneventful life is shaken to its core when her school in the Ninth Ward, New Orleans is ordered to integrate first grader Ruby Bridges, a Negro student. Louise's mother pulls her from school and is one of the many mothers who stand outside every morning and afternoon to insult and heckle the girl. Louise's only thought on the whole matter is as to why anyone would want to transfer to her broken down and understaffed school. But no one ever asks Louise's opinions. No one except Morgan Miller, a puzzling new guest at her mother's boarding house. His keen interest in Louise and her mother's lives mystify Louise, and his presence in their community causes tensions among many. Only one thing is for sure...their lives will never be the same.

This compelling debut of a novel paints an extraordinaily candid picture of life in the segregated South. Sharenow's portrayal of the characters, right down to the dialect, is completely real. Louise's voice is an entertaining and believable one. This incisive, alarming, and very readable take on what really happened at William Frantz Elementary is a powerful one, and not to be missed.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, Sarah Mlynowski

When Jesse, Vicks, and Mel jump into Jesse's mom's Opel for a weekend road trip, it's all for different reasons. Jesse is desperate to escape her mom and the problems at home. Vicks wants to see her long distance boyfriend--who hasn't made any contact in two weeks. And Mel desperately wants a piece of the seemingly easygoing friendship that Jesse and Vicks share. The only thing these three girls have in common is a job at The Waffle House. Despite that, will the road see them through their personal issues, hot dogs, alligators, hurricanes, pirate hotels, Epcot, some really bad choices and some really great times and on into the land of friendship?

HarperCollins has brought the best of the best together to create this fully wonderful, hilarious, and heartfelt novel. Lockhart, Myracle, and Mylnowski are a delight. Their characters are imperfect, passionate, witty, and memorable; their plotline quirky and exciting as the girls experience their ups and downs. This is a book that will remind you of what friendship is truly about as the words roll right off the pages and straight into your heart.
How to be Bad will be available from HarperCollins May 6, 2008!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008...Your Year to Start Kickin' It Ol' Skool

There you were on January 1st, sitting around the dining room table with your family nibbling on stale Christmas cookies when Aunt Fi Fi uttered those dreaded words…let’s go around in a circle and share our New Year’s Resolutions!

As Monique, (your Ivy League-bound cousin with the perfect mane of Jennifer Aniston-esque hair) divulged her list (run her 5th consecutive marathon, stay on honor roll, save the world, blah, blah, blah), panic began to set in. With all those exams, term papers, and holiday shopping lists, that whole New Years Resolution thing kind of got away from you. OMG…does watch a little more reality TV count as a resolution? By the time your turn to “share” rolled around, you’d already made a break for the bathroom.

Put down that TP and come out of hiding! January is the perfect month to start kickin’ it ol’ skool. Remember when you were little and you only cared about what you wanted? In other words, relax and get back in touch with your inner voice. Like a long lost BFF, your inner voice will help you start figuring out what you want (and don’t want) for 2008. We aren’t knocking reality TV, but maybe you can check out the Real World and Your World. For instance, maybe your inner voice whispered “cool” when your friend gushed about her winter break internship at the local newspaper. If so, maybe you’d like to look into internships too. Was your inner voice mumbling “boooor----ing” during your brother’s daily rant about his totally unfair teacher? Remember that next time you’re about to become a member of his captive audience. Whether you are lacing up your soccer cleats or reading in study hall, don’t blow off your inner voice. Take it seriously. We suggest you get a little inspiration from 80’s artist Colourbox aka M/A/R/R/S and Pump Up the Volume of your inner voice. (If you’ve never heard the tune Pump Up the Volume…you can listen to a song sample on i-tunes...it’s an oldie but a goodie!)

Pumping up the volume of your inner voice may take some practice. Don’t be surprised if you need to lower the volume of your friends’ and your parents’ voices in order to recognize your own voice. Elisabeth sometimes hears her inner voice best when she’s running, walking or driving by herself. Annabel’s comes through loud and clear when she’s writing. In fact, both of us find it helps to write stuff down, which is why Click! has tons of exercises and a journal. A friend of ours gets inspired every evening just before she dozes off. And lots of people swear by meditation and yoga. Figure out whatever works for you. Either way, make 2008 your year to start kickin’ it ol’ skool and reconnect with yourself. Once you understand what you really really want, you can have fun making it happen. E-vite reads Pump up the Volume. The Universe’s RSVP? Dance Dance.

As always, visit clickthegirlsguide.com for all things Click!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Third Book In the Inheritance Trilogy Is...

Brisingr! Just announced today, the third book in Christopher Paolini's series will be Brisingr, which is Old Norse for Fire. Not many more details were released, but I know of many people who were quite dissapointed that Paolini broke the six letter E pattern. Personally, I don't care as long as we're getting another book out of him! Hopefully this one will be another fabulously long one! Look for it September 20...I can't believe I forgot to put it on my Sneak Peek of 2008 list and my poll. Please forgive me!

Also, I'm having issues with getting the image up, but visit alagaesia.com to see the cool gold cover (I know, gold!).

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

Five years ago, Ryan's father died, and since then she's felt as if she's been living life in a fog, never truly awake. All of that changes on opening day of the Chicago Cubs' season, when she finds herself skipping school and on a train headed to watch the game. Here is where she feels her father the most, eagerly cheering on the worst team in the league, and making that timeless bargain of "If the Cubs win, then..." Here is where she also meets Nick, new to her school. Nick shares her passion for baseball and the Cubs, and soon the two are fast friends, and maybe even more. But do they have the courage to look beyond what may happen and live their lives the way they want?

Smith takes a deep look at death at how the human spirit deals with the trajedy in this novel. Ryan is an admirable character and the reader will find themselves empathizing, crying, and rejoicing with her as this beautiful story unfolds. Though some readers might find the thorough history of the Chicago Cubs team history dull, it is cleverly interspersed throughout the book so as not to slow down the story. The Comeback Season is a heartwarming mix of love and acceptance, life and death, and humor and sadness that you will not soon forget. Jennifer E. Smith is definitely an author to watch.

This book will be available through Simon and Schuster on March 4, 2008!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson

Just a short review today! I finally, finally, finally got The Sweet Far Thing, and am about a third of the way through that and have just found that reading two books at once does not work well for me. However, my ever growing stack of books to be reviewed might force me to change my mind!

Doucette has always wanted to shed her chastelaine duties set for her by her mother in favor of taking up a swan skin and joining her sisters in flight. But without the magic that her sisters have, and as the youngest daughter, she is expected to stay home and marry for duty. However, when old family secrets come to light, Doucette is suddenly faced with new freedom. And with that freedom comes choices. Does she choose to embrace her birthright and risk everything she has and loves, or stay safely in the shadows of her sisters and do as is expected of her? Readers may feel exasperated with Doucette's lack of confidence at times, but will ultimately find themselves experiencing every one of her triumphs and failures as though they were their own in the magical and entrancing tale full of love, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Also reviewed for BookDivas.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Alex Unlimited: The Vosarak Code by Dan Jolley

Alex Benno sees herself as her own sidekick. Under government influence since 2 years of age, she's always done everything they've asked when it comes to conjuring up smarter, stronger, better, arrogant versions of her parallel dimension self. Even if it means she is shunned and ignored by fellow agents while her her own 'Alex Primes' take all the credit for successful operations.

But when she conjures Rachel, a master linguist version of herself to locate and decode that Vosarak Sword, the Rosetta Stone of the ancient language of Vosarak, she finds herself in a new position--sharing the front seat with her latest and surprisingly nice Prime, and not entirely sure she can handle it.

Fast paced and full of adventure, Alex Unlimited sets a far fetched sort of air not seen since TV's Alias. Alex doesn't always act her age, and is a little hard to get into, but random clues about her past will motivate you to keep going with this series.

Also reviewed fro BookDivas.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Cadel Piggot has been visiting Dr. Thadeus Roth since he was seven years old and had been caught hacking into credit card comany files. His adoptive parents, terrified of his intelligence and innocence, forbade him to touch computers and hauled him right off to the psychologist.
But it's not long before Thadeus is not only letting him use his computer, but is also facilitating a relationship between Cadel and Dr. Darkkon, an imprisoned criminal mastermind who claims to be Cadel's father.

As Cadel grows older, expanding his talents and often "testing" them, he finds himself at Axis Institute, a school founded by his father where evil schemes and rule breaking is encouraged (as long you don't get caught). But he also meets Kay-Lee. It's her friendship that opens his eyes to what's really happening, and makes him face the ultimate question: Has Cadel's whole life been just another one of his father's schemes?

A little slow towards the beginning, and some times a bit too fast when it comes to number theory and computer technology, but ultimately a book that doesn't require a remarkable genius of any kind to enjoy.
Also reviewed for BookDivas.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Take Me There and Prey Giveaway Winner

If you just can't seem to really get into reading, or know someone else who is a reluctant reader, be sure to watch out for Take Me There!

Rhiannon has just been dumped without a reason. She's miserable beyond belief. Nicole has just dumped her boyfriend with a reason. She's confused beyond belief. And James...James would do nearly anything to get Rhiannon to stop mooning over her ex and finally notice him as more than her buddy. Over the course of a week, many things will happen to these three friends. There will be confessed secrets, messages on sidewalks, delivered flowers, a ton of photocopied notes, one awesome speech, and lots and lots of karma. But in the end, will they discover what they truly want?

This realistically honest book told in three different points of view will blow you away. Colasanti has such a real talent for capturing the personality of teenagers, it's like she is one herself. Her plot is unique and her delivery attention grabbing. Insightful, humorous, moving and never dull, Colasanti's characters will feel like they're your best friends by the time you have finished this delightful novel.

This book comes out on May 15, 2008. For more information on Take Me There and Susane's other book, When It Happens, visit susanecolasanti.com! (Also reviewed for TRT).

And congratulations to Jocelyn P. for winning the ARC of Prey by Lurlene McDaniel! If you didn't win this time around, don't fret! You still have a chance to win Click!, and I have more contests and other such surprises planned!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Book of the Month: Click! Q&A with Authors Annabel and Elisabeth

Authors Annabel Monaghan and Elisabeth Wolfe here to answer your questions!
How did you guys meet?

We met each other hanging out at our friend Gwen’s house and hit it off immediately, but then lost touch. Somehow, our kids ended up at the same preschool the following year. One day we were stuck selling raffle tickets and just got into the most amazing conversation about energy and positive thinking and other non-preschool topics. We’ve been great friends ever since!

What made you decide to write an advice book for teen girls?

This is the book we wished we had when we were younger. We wrote it because we want so badly to empower teenage girls and give them to tools to make a great life happen. We’ve noticed so many people getting stuck in bad situations and then complaining about them at length. There is so much emphasis placed on what’s wrong or what’s missing in our lives. This habit of complaining keeps people stuck. Making a great life happen isn’t that hard and we wanted to get this information to girls as they are just starting to figure it all out, so that they can get where they want NOW rather than later.

What’s the Focus Factor?

The Focus Factor is really simple. Your thoughts have energy and whatever you focus your energy on is what you get. Obsessing about how awful you are at math, won’t make studying very pleasant or productive. Your energy is not in a good place to make an A happen. Complaining about how you never make the tennis team will keep you where you are. Focusing on how much you love to play tennis and how great it would feel to make the team, will get your energy in the right place to help make it happen.

It sounds a little bit like The Secret. Is it the same idea?

The idea of putting out great energy to bring great things into your life is a lot like what they talked about in The Secret. This idea has been around forever. But Click! has what we think is a more grounded approach to making it happen. We talk a lot about putting out great energy and then meeting the Universe halfway through inspired action.

So you’re not supposed to just figure out what you want, focus on it and wait for it to happen?

Ha! We wish! Sadly, we were not all born to sit around making wishes. You have to put the clicker down, get up off the couch and meet the universe halfway. If you want to be a prima ballerina and you’ve never put on a tutu, it’s not going to happen for you. If you’d like to make new friends but you won’t talk to people, it’s not going to happen for you. There are no free rides.

But it’s interesting that if you start to get excited about something and really start to get your energy moving with it, you start to feel motivated to take the steps you have to to make it happen. When you are sitting around feeling out of shape, you aren’t inspired to go for a run. But when you really get thinking about how energized you’d feel to be in great shape, you’re lacing up your running shoes without even knowing it!

What’s this E-vite thing you guys keep talking about?

Well your energy works just like an e-vite to the universe. You are inviting exactly what your energy is focused on, the catch is that the universe always RSVPs yes. If you spend a lot of time thinking about how no guys will ever like you, well, that’s an e-vite. The Universe’s RSVP is Yes. But if you focus your energy on how great it would feel to have a guy like you and you can really imagine it and get excited about it, that’s an e-vite. The RSVP is always Yes. So be careful where you are focusing.

What’s the most common thing girls do to keep themselves from getting what they want?

It’s not just girls, it’s guys and old ladies alike. The number one thing you can do to keep yourself stuck where you are is complaining. Once you start that habit of hanging with the evil stepsisters, who we like to refer to as Bitching and Moaning, you are focusing all of your energy on your big butt, your tragic wardrobe or your lame parents. The E-vite is sent, RSVP: Yes.

This doesn’t seem that hard to understand, why aren’t we all living exactly the life we want?

Well, the concept is pretty straightforward but habits are really hard to break. And thought habits may be among the hardest because they often go on without your noticing. They say that it takes 28 days to break a habit, so Click! has a 4 week day planner and journal in the back where you can keep track of what you need to do and also work on changing your energy about what you want.

How did you guys decide who would write what?

We got together about once a week and talked about where we were with the book, what we needed to do etc. and then just come up with ideas. We’d get really excited about something, but there was always one of us who was more excited about any given idea than another. The one who was really into it got to write it. Then we’d email each other what we wrote and edit each other’s work. At first we were really polite with each other but as we went on, um, we were a little more direct!

Do you have any weird / crazy writing quirks?

E: I do my best work in the middle of the night and when I’m working on something I don’t sleep very much. When it’s done I crash, satisfied, for about 12 hours.
A: I like to work at my kitchen table in broad daylight, surrounded by a lot of chaos and half-eaten boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

What’s your favorite / least favorite part of writing?

The best part is definitely the high you feel when you know you are on to something good. It’s almost like it’s writing itself. The worst part is probably the editing, having to divorce yourself from an idea that isn’t working but that you’re really committed to. Again, we recommend Girl Scout cookies to get you through.

Do you have any books planned for the future?

We haven’t officially started anything but we have lots of ideas. We meet a lot of moms who are reading their daughters’ books and saying they wish there was a Click! for grown ups. It’s funny because it’s really the same idea, we’d just talk about George Clooney rather than Justin Timberlake and a whole lot less about the prom.
Got a question that wasn't answered here? Visit clickthegirlsguide.com!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes has a serious problem. And that problem is an obsession -- an obsession with Mr. Darcy, the immortal hero of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

When a well-off great-aunt gives Jane a vacation to a Regency-era resort in England, Jane hopes she can finally overcome this obsession of hers. But as she finds herself dressed to the nines in time period apparel and flirting in true Austen fashion with the ever-charming male actors, fantasy and reality blend together until the two are indistinguishable.

This novel, while at times a little unbelievable, was wholly enjoyable and amusing. Not lacking in wit or intelligence, AUSTENLAND is a carefree and lighthearted story that will delight even the most die-hard Austen fans.

Remember to enter the Prey Giveaway! Today's the last day...click here to enter!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

News Day!

Hey guys! Today's just going to be a hodge-podge of stuff. It's a Tuesday, so you know what that means...book release day! Some new books that are out today:

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher
The Ashleys by Melissa de la Cruz
How NOT to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler

Liz Gallagher is a part of Class of 2k8, a group of YA and middle grade authors whose books are making their debut appearance in 2008. Check the site out, it's quite cool. They have contests, and virtual launching parties every time one of their books is released.

With that said, I wanted to make something clear to you guys--I love comments. Absolutely adore them. I will jump up and down and giggle maniacally when I see that I have a new comment, no joke. Just ask my pals in the science lab, where I routinely check my email. I provide free entertainment for them daily. So won't you make my day and leave a comment (and I know there are tons more of you out there then just those of you who have been commenting).

Want to really make my day? Become my MySpace friend. Usually when I can't contain myself, I reveal cool upcoming features by posting a bulletin.

On to contest news: The Page Flipper is giving away a copy of Pretty Little Liars! All you have to do is comment her! Last time I looked, she had 9 comments (lucky duck)! So go say hi to her, she's very friendly.

Also, remember that tomorrow is the deadline for all entries for the Prey giveaway! Just send me your name, address, email, and the title of the book you most want to read in 08, and the title of the book you just finished/are reading now. I am asking this because not only am I nosy, but I want to know what you guys are all reading so I can read it too! I love suggestions on what to read! As much as comments!

And of course, don't forget the Book of the Month giveaway! I received an extra copy of Click! The Girl's Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making It Happen. It was quite excellent, so enter! I may even throw your name in the hat (or pot or beaker or fruit basket or whatever I happen to use) twice if you give me a link where you advertised the Book of the Month.

Also, I've become aware of the fact that my spam filter is working a little too well. I unearthed a large amount of your emails, but don't worry--I'm going to keep a closer eye on it all and I made sure that no one's message got deleted or anyone's contest entry was missed.

Well, that's it for now. Just know that I received a whole nice big box full of books that are screaming to be read, so be expecting some pretty cool reviews soon!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Interview With Meg Cabot

I recently got the opportunity to sit down and ask the lovely Meg Cabot some questions about her new book, Princess Mia, and several other things as well, such as what the deal was about all those books being made into movies, her upcoming books from Scholastic, and her inspiration behind Princess Mia.

TCR: First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed Princess Mia. In it, you explored a more serious topic than the rest of the books in the series: depression. I believe that you did an excellent job in making sure it was conveyed in a very realistic way. What made you decide to have Mia go through depression?

MEG: Thanks! Well, the Princess Diaries has always been semi-autobiographical (not the princess part, of course), and when I was Mia's age I went into a deep depression (over my SAT scores, though, not over a relationship).
So I was writing from experience. I've always plucked parts of my own life and stuck them into Mia's, and I wanted to make sure I got the depression part in there--so many teens go through it, and yet there's still this kind of weird belief that only "freaks" ever go to psychiatrists. Not true! Lots of "normal people" do, too.
I'm glad you felt it was true to life, because it was based on real life!

TCR: Dr. Knutz is certainly a unique character. Was he based on a person you have met?

MEG: Ha, thanks. He was based on my therapist when I was teen. Even his name (which I changed a bit). I was really mad at my parents for picking out such a seeming weirdo, but he was so full of common sense and so practical (I said to him, "I can't sleep at night because I drink too many Diet Cokes!" and he said, "So...quit drinking Diet Coke!"), he ended up really helping me, just as Dr. K ends up helping Mia.

TCR: Rumor has it that you have decided to write a fourth novel in the Heather Wells series. Keeping in mind I haven't read Big Boned yet (it is most definitely on my to-buy list), can you tell us what that might be about without giving away too much? Possibly the Tania Trace summer camp as suggested in the back of the first paperback edition of Size 12 is Not Fat?

MEG: Ah, no, not the Tania Trace camp. If you've read Big Boned, you'll see why that won't work (don't worry, Tania doesn't die...it's a happier reason than that). Maybe some day I'll do a book set in the Tania camp though. No, the fourth book will be set during a wedding. I won't tell you whose though. I just don't when I'm going to find time to write it, because my schedule is seriously clogged up right now!

TCR: You have mentioned that you will be having new books coming out under Scholastic, such as Airhead, and another paranormal novel. Can you tell us anything more about those books, and if there will be more of them?

MEG: Yes, both Airhead and Abandon will be series. Right now only the first Airhead book is scheduled for release in June. The first Abandon book is still kind of up in the air schedule wise (it was scheduled for a Summer 2009 release but now it's been pushed back because the second Airhead book is scheduled for release then).
I can't really tell you what Airhead is about (though you can zip over to Amazon and look it up) because if I say too much it'll give it away. A big chunk of the plot is the heroine finding out for herself what's going on, so if I tell you, it will spoil it!
So, I'm not going to say anything. All I can say is, it's not magic, and it's not a Freaky Friday body-switching plot. It's more sci-fi (but there are no aliens, and it's not set in the future). There's a definite bad guy (more than one actually), and some of them are hot.
Oh, and there's a really cute poodle named Cosabella, which is a brand of underwear.

TCR: Rumors have been flying all over the place about many of your books being optioned to be come films. Can you clarify which ones have and have not been optioned?

MEG: Actually, I can't, because some new things have been optioned, but the contracts have been signed or announced yet. And because of the writer's strike, there's been a "force-majeure" put on some things, which means, no movement.
But basically, Avalon High has been optioned for a television movie by Disney; How to be Popular has been optioned for a television movie or series by MTV; the Queen of Babble series has been optioned by Jeff Sharp of Sharp Productions, who did Proof and Nicholas Nickleby; and the Mediator series has been optioned as either a TV series or feature film by Julia Pistor, who did Lemony Snicket and the upcoming Spiderwick Chronicles.

TCR: When talking with some of the readers of my website, I've found that they're split half and half on whether or not they liked Avalon High being continued as a manga, and some even refused to consider checking out your new manga books. Because I haven't read The Merlin Prophecy yet (another one that is on my to-buy list!), I often find myself at a loss as to what to say to these people. What would you say to these 'doubters', and is The Merlin Prophecy doing as well as you had hoped?

MEG: Honestly, it's a personal thing. I love graphic novels and comic books, and I would categorize The Merlin Prophecy as much closer to those than to a manga. So of course traditional manga lovers hate it. And of course people who don't like graphic novels hate it because it's not a novel.
I understand, and that's fine. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Pretend it never happened. I do that with Princess Diaries 2, the movie.
But I still acknowledge that a lot of people loved PD2, and hey, every day I get emails from people who freaking loved that movie. And every day, I hear from people who love the manga.
So acknowledge not everyone has the same taste as you. And move on.

TCR: In a recent poll on my site, Ready Or Not was voted the most popular of your books. Have you ever considered writing a third American Girl book?

MEG: Really? No, I never have thought about doing another one. I'm not sure there's any new place to go with those characters without breaking them up, and I'm not going to do that, so I'm leaving them where they are.

I do sort of feel like the main character of my new series, AIRHEAD, is very Sam-like, though.

TCR: I believe that one of the reason so many readers like your books is that each of them is so unique and different. In a series with so many installments, such as The Mediator, and especially The Princess Diaries, how do you keep each novel fresh, and from being repetitive after a while?

MEG: Hmmm, well, each of those series is based on a period of my life. For instance, the Mediator books are based on a period when my family and I moved to Carmel, CA, and I attended the Mission School, just like Suze (though of course I didn't see or speak to ghosts).
Within the confines of the series, I was able to "keep it fresh and real" because most of the non-ghost related things that happened in those books really happened (the shoe thing with the blisters; I really did have an albino friend there; working as a babysitter at the fancy country club; etc). Same with the 1-800-Where-You series. Same with All American Girl. Same with The Princess Diaries. I really lived and felt those things.
Except the psychic, save-the-president, princess stuff, of course.

TCR: What is one of the hardest parts of being a writer?

MEG: Oh, probably doing interviews. JUST KIDDING!

TCR: Are there any questions I didn't ask that you wish I had?

MEG: I wish I had a witty reply for this. People always ask it! I wish you'd asked....If I can name all fifty states in alphabetical order under 30 seconds. Because yes, I can. But I can't prove it, can I? Unless you see me in person!

TCR: Thanks a lot for taking time to answer my questions!

MEG: You're welcome. Thanks for interviewing me!

Just a quick reminder (yet again) to enter the Prey giveaway. Just send me your name, email, address, the title of the book you are most looking forward to in 2008, and the book you are reading/just finished in an email with Prey in the subject line. All entries must be in by Wednesday!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty

Bindy Mackenzie--student extraordinaire and perfectionist--is the heroine in this follow up novel to Moriarty's Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Year of Secret Assignments. Bindy is thrown when she is placed in FAD--Friendship and Development class. It doesn't make any sense! Who would rip away her study period so thoughtlessly? And what could she possibly learn from the other students in her class? But could Bindy actually be so perfect that someone wants to kill her? And if so, the only people who can figure out who the perp is in time are the classmates that Bindy underestimated and alienated.

Laugh-out loud funny, Moriarty doesn't disappoint. Full of her trademark intricate plot twists, quick wit, and told entirely in transcripts, journal entries, and letters, this novel gives a perfectly honest portrayal of teen life life that is appropriate for even younger readers. Bindy Mackenzie will keep you guessing.

Other books by Jaclyn Moriarty:
Feeling Sorry for Celia
The Year of the Secret Assignments
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor

Also, a reminder to send in your questions for Annabel Monaghan and Elisabeth Wolfe about our Book of the Month, Click! The Girl's Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making It Happen. The deadline is Tuesday at noon, eastern time!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Tristran Thorn would do absolutely anything to win pretty Victoria Forrester's heart. Even venture across The Wall into mysterious Faerie in search of a fallen star. But once he enters Faerie, mysterious things happen. Tristran knows the location of every place in the land. He meets a strange, small man who gives him a candle that allows him to travel great distances. And when he finally finds the fallen star, Tristran discovers that it is not a lump of rock like he thought, but a young woman, who has quite the mind of her own. But Tristran isn't the only one looking for the star. The witch queen and a group of three brothers all want something of the star. For these brothers, it's the power she possesses. For the witch, it's her heart.

Stardust was completely entrancing, and charming and a surprisingly quick read. The star's spunk and Tristran's humanity are both to be admired in this adventurous tale that will make you laugh outloud and break into tears. Stardust is not to be missed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Book of the Month!

I’m happy to unveil a new feature to this site: Book of the Month! Now, I’m going to do my very best to ensure that there is a Book of the Month every month, complete with reviews, discussions, author interviews, guest bloggers, and hopefully contests.

And so, I am proud to announce that January’s Book of the Month will be (drum roll, please): Click! The Girl’s Guide to Knowing What You Want and Making It Happen, written by the lovely Annabel Monaghan and Elisabeth Wolfe.

Click! is all about taking control. Relying on past experiences, Monaghan and Wolfe divulge their secrets to success. And best of all? Anyone can do it. All you need to know is how to focus your energy and concentrate on your goals, and you can make anything happen.

Fun and easy to read, girls of any age can benefit from Monaghan and Wolfe’s direction. Click! even includes a daily journal to help you achieve what you’ve been wishing for. What better way to help you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions than by following the advice in this useful and infinitely helpful book?

For more info, visit the authors’ website: http://www.clickthegirlsguide.com/

Check in every Thursday for an exclusive article pertaining to our Book of the Month. I’ve been working with Annabel and Elisabeth, and we’ve planned out something fun and exciting every Thursday. Next week will feature a Q&A with the authors Click! Email me any question you wish to ask Annabel and Elisabeth!

Contest: Want a chance to win Click? I have an extra copy that I will be giving away on January 31st. Just send your name, email address, and snail mail address to me at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com. All entries must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern on January 30, 2008. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Princess Diaries Vol. IX: Princess Mia

Happy New Year! I trust that you all had a safe and fun New Year. I sure did. And I would like to start 2008 off with what else but a review! Warning: If you have not read Princess on the Brink yet, you might want to run to the bookstore and read that before this review!

Princess Mia has hit rock bottom. Michael just wants to be friends, Lilly refuses to acknowledge she exists, and now Grandmere is insisting she give a speech before Domina Rei, New York's most successful business women. She can't even get out of bed, and now her parents are forcing to go to therapy. And her psychologist is so unconventional, Mia doesn't know if she can take him seriously. But the discovery of her ancestress's long lost diary may change everything...her future, her family's future, and her country.

The ninth installment of the ever popular Princess Diaries series is a bit more serious than its predecessors. Cabot explores the topic of depression in a perfectly believable sense that I believe many could relate to. Readers who may have felt a little frustrated at Mia in the past will rejoice with her as she matures, stands up for what she believes in, and finds her voice. But be warned: Princess Mia will leave you hanging in anticipation for the final book.

G out and grab yourself a copy! Also remember that I'll be interviewing Ms. Cabot soon, so keep reading for more information. Have a question you want to ask Meg? Send them to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with Question(s) for Meg in the headline and you might just see your question in our interview!

Also, a reminder to enter the Prey giveaway. I'm giving away an ARC of Prey by Lurlene McDaniel, To enter, just send me an e-mail with PREY in the subject line, with your name, email, and address, the book you are most looking forward to this year, and the book you are reading/just finished. Quite easy, and essentially pain free.