The Compulsive Reader: May 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Lynda Sandoval, Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Niki Burnham

Breaking up: something no one ever really wants to do, but is sometimes inevitable. And four of the best authors out there sure can empathize. Niki Burnham, Teri Clark, Ellen Hopkins, and Lynda Sandoval regale readers with the breaking up woes in their uniquely different and realistic stories. There's Tobey, who breaks it off when his girlfriend pressures him to have sex with her, and Dee, who, after a nasty bump on the head, is now able to read minds. She calls it quits when her newly acquired powers reveal her boyfriend's true colors. Lisa experiences heartbreak when she finds that she was merely "practice" for her inexperienced guy before he moved on to prettier girls. And Mia experiences anguish and humiliation when she's betrayed by the pretty, popular girl.

Each of these characters will speak to the reader as their story unfolds. The writing is straightforward and perceptive, from Clark's funny and fast paced style to Hopkins's beautiful and striking poems. This is one book that holds a powerful message between its two covers: heartbreak happens, and along with it is something better if you can let go and continue to move forward.

You might also want to check out Audrey, Wait! and Prom Nights From Hell!

Have You Seen the Cover of Breaking Dawn Yet?

Isn't this cover just the greatest? It's the first time I've ever seen it, and I absolutely love it! I like how the chessboard sort of fades out into the background. I'd reccomend that you pre-order your copy soon....they're bound to go fast!

In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

When Molly Hill's mom re-marries, she can't believe that she is being dragged on the honeymoon, to Boulder, Colorado to participate in a house swap with one of her stepfather's colleagues. Charlie Richards is also alarmed to hear that his moms intend to move him and his sisters to LA for the summer, and let a family that they hardly know inhabit their home. He's more comfortable on a bike on a mountain trail than in the streets of the city, and Molly believes that Boulder lacks the inspiration she needs to get her creative juices flowing. Both have resigned themselves to a long, boring summer. But when they find that they're staying in each other's rooms, a whole lot of mixed messages, late night IMs, misread signals, and long distance flirting is sure to ensue...

In Your Room was surprisingly candid and refreshingly humorous and human. The story is fast paced, and Fraiberg's clever writing downplays the predictability of the plot, forcing you to look at the novel with new eyes. Molly is an unpretentious character, but yet she has slightly selfish feelings about her mother's new marriage, and Charlie, despite being thoughtful, imaginative, and funny, has his faults as well. It's these imperfections in the lead characters that lend to the plot twists in order to In Your Room an enjoyable, quick, and relaxing read that you'll want to visit again and again.

In Your Room will be released from Razorbill on October 16, 2008!

You also might want to check out From E to You, and The Year of Secret Assignments!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Far is Too Far?

We all know about plagiarism. The evils of it have been pounded into our brains ever since middle school, even elementary school. We've been warned of the consequences of copying work, or even paraphrasing. While it doesn't seem like that big of a deal paraphrasing a well known fact from some obscure Wikipedia webpage (I mean, you just rearranged the words of an idea, it could have easily come out of your mouth, and out of the mouths of a million other people, right?), consider the Kaavya Viswanathan scandal. Viswanathan's novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life was going to be the next great teen novel. Fresh out of high school, she had two novels contracted, and even sold the movie rights. The only problem? Most of the passages were lifted from Megan McCafferty's first two novels, The Princess Diaries, Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, and Sophi Kinsella's work.

And then there's the case of Stephen Glass, reporter for The New Republic, who invented multiple details, facts, people, places, and even events to support his stories and make them more interesting. He wanted the perfect quote for his stories, but didn't have it. So he made one up.

The slacker in us thinks, Well, what's wrong with that? What's wrong with voicing the opinions of a bunch of people, even if no one person said it exactly?

I hear that there's something like only 32 possible plotlines for stories, and yet there are millions of books out there. So there's gotta be coincidences and resemblences in there somewhere, right? So where should the line be drawn?

I believe that it is the writer that makes each and every novel unique and different: their style, their choice of words, the way that they express their characters and their experiences. There is a difference between quoting colloquialisms and copying a phrase coined by your favorite writer and passing it off as original work, and anyone who has to question the difference shouldn't be writing. Each writer is inimitible, their work sacred. To blatantly copy, or even paraphrase, is a gross violation against that writer.

But true writers have their responsibilities too. They have a duty to be honest when it comes to their work. It is perfectly all right to embellish stories, to make up characters and scenarios, as long as it is understood that the work is fiction. To market a fictional piece of work as truth is dishonest, and insulting to the readers. I've known many an author who has taken experiences and situations from their own lives and incorporated them into their writing, myself included. Writing is a medium of expression, and by creating a fictional piece and trying to pass it off as reality would be deceiving yourself.

So what do you think? How far do the boundaries between common ideas and plagiarism extend? When does it go from being slightly exxagerated to outrightlies?

May Book(s) of the Month: Contest Winners and a HUGE Thank You!

Hey guys,

Well, first of all, I just want to extend a huge THANK YOU to Susane Colasanti for agreeing to visit this month, and a big thanks to all the readers who commented, asked questions, and promised to buy copies of When It Happens and Take Me There (which comes out TODAY!). You guys rock the book world.

Now congrats to Erica H. for winning a copy of When It Happens, and Angie T. for winning a copy Take Me There! Your prizes will go out in the mail soon!

Thanks again, and be sure to grab yourselves a copy of When It Happens, and Take Me There!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Ruby doesn't think too much of it when her mom takes off, leaving her to live alone in their small yellow house. She knows that she's just better off that way anyhow, and if she can keep up on rent and her job for the next few months, she can live alone, unbothered, until she hits her eighteenth birthday. But then the dryer breaks down, and her landlords poke their noses into her business, and before she really realizes it, she's sent to live with her sister Cora and her husband. Cora, who is almost as strange to her as an attentive mother, who left her 10 years earlier to go start her own life, and acts as if Ruby is a flaw in her perfectly laid out life. Ruby wants nothing more than to run away from her sister and become self sufficient, but then again, we can't always get what we want...

Lock and Key is a very vivid, honest, and poignant book. Each scene and situation is realistically portrayed, and moves at a good, steady clip. Dessen's trademark style of gathering scattered bits and pieces from the character's life and deftly weaving them together to create a seamless, beautiful novel shines radiantly through in Lock and Key. But it is the characters that define this book: quirky, puzzling, humorous, endearing, and completely and totally enjoyable. Dessen has succeeded in creating a protagonist that, though she is very different and unique, becomes intimately familiar to the writer throughout the course of the story, while at the same time never letting the plot become predictable. Lock and Key is sure to captivate readers again and again.

I've never really been a Sarah Dessen fan, simply because I haven't ever read any of her books before. But after a friend lent me Lock and Key, I am proud to say that I am a fan. Now I'm on a mission to read the rest of her books. Any suggestions as to what to read next of hers?
Also, congrats to Liv, whose comment won a copy of Twelve Long Months by Brian Malloy! Send me your address, Liv!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chill by Deborah Reber

As exams approach at a breakneck pace and all those deadlines loom ominously over your head, you may find yourself more stressed than ever. We've all heard the stories, the advice, and the do's and don’ts. But what it usually comes down to is cramming everything that needs to get done is as short of a time as possible, because let's face it: your technique works.

Well, sort of.

In Chill, Reber offers a practical, sensitive, and very down to earth advice that can be of use of anyone. She knows that teens live in a world where the competition for everything--from yearbook mock elections to spots in college--is tough, and what's more, she empathizes and doesn't try to talk down to her readers. Instead, she asks the questions that matter to determine just how much stress you add on to your life, and offers up sensible ideas to help keep you organized and relaxed--with minimal effort, and in easy to adopt practices. From tips on how to de-clutter your hard drive to ways to organize your social life, Reber's advice will motivate and inspire to do more than just get it done, but get it done in a laid back and relaxed fashion.

Cool New Reads!

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Click here to read the review.

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Evernight by Claudia Gray

House of Dance by Beth Kephart

Click here to read the review.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

When her father dies, Charlotte Miller is determined to keep the Stillwaters Mill in her family. She, along with her younger sister Rosie, work from sun-up to sun-down to keep the mill in operation, despite the many opposing forces that would have them fail. But then a young banker approaches Charlotte with devastating news—a mortgage has been taken out on the mill by her late father, and unless they can pay the impossible sum, the bank will be forced to foreclose.

And so when Jack Spinner shows up, offering Charlotte a way out of debt, it is with trepidation that she accepts, knowing that it is her only choice. At first the price is small. But as times grow harder, and the supposed curse of Stillwaters closes in around her, Charlotte is forced to rely on Jack Spinner more and more. And the price of his help grows steeper, until one desperate day, Charlotte finds herself inadvertently promising Spinner more than she is willing to give.

A Curse Dark as Gold is a hauntingly beautiful tale. The story reads more like a historical fiction steeped in superstition than a fantasy, but is nevertheless spellbinding, magical and absorbing. Though it is a retelling of the fairy tale Rumpelstilstskin, this version has been tweaked to give it its own unique and inimitable flair that will keep readers intrigued, while at the same time staying true to its roots. Charlotte is the ideal narrator—determined, human, and amusing, and the cast of wonderful and diverse characters that surround her all work together to create a highly convincing picture of village life. Bunce shows real and promising talent as she weaves seamlessly a story that is just the right mixture of suspense, magic, romance, and charm, making her an author to keep your eye on.

Fairy tale retellings are my absolute favorite kinds of books, whether they are completely mixed around, like Snow by Tracey Lynn, or follow the original story closely, like The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Either way, I'm always on the lookout for new ones. What's one really good fairy tale retelling that you've read? What are your thoughts on A Curse Dark as Gold, or any other similar read? Be sure to comment, because today is officially RANDOM COMMENTER WINNER day, and I'll be giving away a copy of cool new June release Twelve Long Months to one random person who comments on this post. So go ahead, tell me what you think.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Book(s) of the Month: A Word from Susane Colasanti!

Back in my teaching days, some kids didn’t understand why I was all perky on Monday mornings with my whole TGIM routine. They were like, “How can you have so much energy? It’s mad early. And you don’t even drink coffee!” They didn’t get why I was so happy all the time. What they didn’t know is that it took me years of surviving painful times and horrible situations to get to this point where I can be the person I wanted to be for so long. I used creative visualization to get here and I keep using it to reach my goals. It’s a way to create your ideal life and love what you do.

Creative visualization isn’t about just wishing for things and then they, like, magically appear or something. It’s about clearly imagining the life you want to live and then taking steps every day toward manifesting that image. If you work on creating your ideal life every day, you will eventually be living that life.

This is how I found my apartment. More than anything, I wanted to live in this neighborhood. The problem? Is that the average one-bedroom is way more expensive than I could afford. Every single person told me I was crazy and that I could never find a place here within my budget. Brokers laughed at me. Agents told me to try Weehawken, just like in that Sex and the City ep where Carrie can’t believe that a tiny shoebox of a place cost $2,800 a month. But I didn’t let go of my dream, and I found an affordable place here that’s awesome.

Or take becoming an author. I was like, “I’m writing a book. And it’s going to be published.” People looked at me funny. A friend sent information on how to self-publish your book. People doubted. They were like, “But you’re a high school science teacher. Did you even take a creative writing class?” The answer to that question is no. And the truth? Is that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was passionate about becoming an author. I had this knowing that When It Happens would be published. I never gave up making that dream come true.

What I’m discovering is that the more you dream and hope and wish, and the more you send positive energy out into the universe, the more amazing things happen to you. It’s all about the karma. So imagine your ideal life and live that dream. Carry that image in your heart every day until the day arrives when your dream is reality. Because you deserve to live your happiest life.

I’d love to connect with you! You can find me at:

Website: http://www.susanecolasanti.com

Blog: http://windowlight.livejournal.com

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/susanecolasanti

P.S. from TCR: Are you a writer? If so, Susane is also running a contest for you! Submit your writing piece to her, and if you win, besides getting copies of her fabulous books, your piece could be published in her next book, Waiting For you! Click here for more details!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Center of the Universe (Yep, That Would Be Me) by Anita Liberty (aka Suzanne Weber)

Anita Liberty is a teenager. And it sucks. She's subjected to her parents' craziness and other cruelties that the world saves especially for teenagers. Throughout her junior and senior years of high school Anita is put on a platform, given drama lessons, dumped by a French boy, dumps an egomaniac, and has a curse cast upon her, among other painful, embarrassing, and sometimes joyful things. Ah, the life of a teenager...

Told completely in hilarious, heartrending, and very candid poems, diary entries, and lists, The Center of the Universe (Yep, That Would Be Me) is a wonderfully fun and quirky cross between The Princess Diaries and The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. Anita Liberty is you, your best friend, that girl who sits next to you in English. Amazingly perceptive and full of wry humor, fun times, awful times, and many, many cute guys, this is one cool and edgy book that reaches out to teens and sends a message that is loud and clear: YOU'RE NOT ALONE!

This book will be available from Simon Pulse July 1st, 2008!

Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks

Cadel Piggott is back...only he doesn't know who he is. His adoptive parents were really just secret agents who were pretending to be his parents, and with Dr. Darkkon now dead and English Prosper refusing to acknowledge him, Cadel is being jumbled into the system, stuck in a dismal foster home. Though his social worker and detective mean well, they're overbearing and can't seem to understand his need for a computer of his own.

So when he is approached by the Genius Squad on the sly, offering both him and his only friend Sonja an opportunity to take down GenoME, one of Darkkon's ironclad projects, he leaps at the chance...even though the group may not be as secure as he'd like if Prosper were to escape.

Just as harrowing and blazing fast as its prequel, Genius Squad is a winner. You'll have to pay rapt attention as the story unfolds in order to not miss a single detail. Full of computer jargon, wonderfully clever tricks, and sometimes confusing numerous subplots, this is one adventure that is packed full of action from beginning to end. Cadel's character is a bit more grown up, and his actions and feelings reflect his new maturity, which will especially appeal to the older teen. Jinks's Genius series is the Ocean's 11 for teens--and that's high praise!

Click here to learn more about Evil Genius, prequel to Genius Squad.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wanna Win an Airhead Tee?

Hey guys!

So look what I have:

That's right! Official, American Apparel sparkly gold Airhead by Meg Cabot t-shirts! Aren't they gorgeous? Well, I have five of them in my possession, and since I am pretty sure that it is a fashion faux pas to wear five shirts at once, as cool as they are, I guess I will just have to hold a contest!

So if you want one of these nifty tees, send me your name, address, and email address to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with AIRHEAD TEE in the subject heading to be entered for a chance to win! I'll be picking 5 winners on June 1st, so be sure to send in your entries by midnight, May 31st!

Good luck!

P.S. This greatly disturbs me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fix by Leslie Margolis

Cameron Beekman's life changed forever when she had a nose job at age 15. No longer Beakface, she's now one of the Beautiful People. Accepted, popular, and glamorous, she's never been happier. Now 18, Cameron has no qualms about going under the knife again, but her decision has angered her parents, despite the fact that her young sister Allie will soon get a nose job herself. Allie has her reservations about the procedure, but when surrounded by her glamorous, model mother, and gorgeous, successful sister, she can't help but wonder...would plastic surgery finally allow her to fit in with her own family?

Scintillating, gritty, and engrossing, Fix poses a simple, yet powerful question to women of today: what exactly is beauty? It's a controversial subject, and Margolis handles it with supreme competence. This is a novel that doesn't choose sides, but instead qualifies each view of cosmetic surgery. It's full of facts and details, delivering a truthful, introspective look at the issue of appearance. Each character's individualism stands out as they must make a decision that will change their lives. Unflinching and riveting, Fix will make you think.

Click here to learn more about Leslie Margolis's second book, Price of Admission.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cool New Read!

Hey guys,

Summer is coming, and if you're looking for a great beach read or summer read, then I reccomend Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber, out today!

Anyone would love Aphra Behn's life. She lives on an isolated island, home to a cushy resort owned by her father. Her days are filled with attending to the guests, taking long swims in the ocean, and exploring the lush island. The only hitch? She's always alone.

So when the Smiths arrive with their teenage son, she's ecstatic. Maybe she can actually make a friend. But the circumstances surrounding the Smiths' arrival don't add up. Why did her dad put them in the villa under renovation? Why didn't he check them in? And how did they even get on the island? And when another guest washes up from the ocean dead, strangled by her bikini strings, Aphra is convinced that no one will be safe until the Smiths are off her island.

This suspenseful novel moves at lightening fast speed. Gerber cunningly draws readers into Aphra's paradise-esque life that anyone would envy. Her character is made intriguing by dropping sly hints about her past periodically throughout the book. But Gerber's delivery ensures that's not the only thing to keep readers going as the strange mystery unravels into something big that can't be resolved easily. Pay close attention, because this is one novel that doesn't slow down a bit, and will assuredly be the start of a fresh, fun, and exhilarating new mystery series for teens.

May Book(s) of the Month: The Game of Favorites

In When It Happens, the two main characters, Sara and Tobey, like to play a game called The Game of Favorites, where they'll take turns choosing the topic, and then each of them has to answer with their favorite. Well this week Susane Colasanti has agreed to tell us what some of her favorites are!

Comic: “Mutts” by Patrick McDonnell
Poet: E. E. Cummings
Constellation: Orion
Band: The Cure / R.E.M.
Mineral: tourmalinated quartz
90s TV show: My So-Called Life
Season: I’m all about the springtime
Artist: Paul Klee
Font: Helvetica
Word: love
Atari game: Adventure
Eye shadow: Urban Decay Cherry
Mythical creature: unicorn
Coffeehouse: Joe the Art of Coffee
Obscure 80s song: “Perfect Way” by Scritti Politti
Boy TV character: Seth Cohen / Dawson Leery
Performance artist: Mummenschanz / Blue Man Group
Tree: palm
Photographer: Alan Maltz
Furniture material: wood (light colors)
Way to spend a free hour: reading in the park
Comedian: Demetri Martin / Godfrey
Quote: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
NYC architecture: Citicorp building
Vacay spot: southern California
Time of day: twilight
Pen: Gelly Roll lightening
Bagel: plain
Origami shape: giraffe
Museum: MoMA
Fish: neon / angelfish
Young-adult novelist: Laurie Halse Anderson / Blake Nelson
Clothing designer: Free People
Gelato flavor: mint chocolate chip
Outfit: T-shirt, jeans, and Converse
Sticker type: oily / metallic glitter
Sticker designer: Mrs. Grossman
Magazine ad: PETA’s We Are Not Nuggets! Please Don’t Eat Us.
Game: backgammon
Flower scent: lavender / lily of the valley
Crumbs cupcake: vanilla buttercream sprinkle
Netflix viewing during the last three months: Gilmore Girls
Movie scene: Lloyd Dobler holding the boombox over his head in Say Anything…

Let's start our own game of favorites! I'll suggest a topic, answer it, and then the first person who comments will give their favorite for my topic, and then suggest a new one and answer it, and then the next person repeats the process. Let's give it a try!

Topic: Reading spot
My Favorite: Outside, on my wicker couch on the deck.

Now continue it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Author Spotlight: An Interview With Mary Hogan

As a part of out Author Spotlight, Mary Hogan, just back from a book tour in the UK, has graciously agreed to answer any question that may come her way. First of all, let's give Mary a BIG THANK YOU for being so honest!

And now, without further ado, here's Mary Hogan, with YOUR questions!

Your books focus a lot on self image. Is this due to past experience?

And present experience! I grew up in L.A., near the Baywatch beaches. My middle name is Helen and my sister called me Mary Helen Watermelon. 'Nuf said.

What would you change about yourself?

My middle name.

I have issues with my weight and the way I look, and wonder what it'd be like to get plastic surgery. If you had the chance, would you go under the knife?

I had my nose fixed about twenty years ago and it grew back. (I'm not kidding!) Noses and ears continue to grow throughout your life. A little-known fact. So, if you do your nose (or your ears) do it late in life. As for lipo....hmmmmm. I've always been tempted. But I know women who've had it done and they are still obsessed with their weight. Right now, my goal is to like--accept--myself as is. I'll let you know how it's going once we enter bikini season.

What kind of advice can you give to someone who doesn't like themselves?

One thing I know for sure is this: Everyone doesn't like something about themselves. Even (especially!) models. To me, it's just a matter of focus. Like my recently-regrown nose. I'm not thrilled with it, but I do adore my new haircut. So, I spend a lot of time at the mirror gazing at the back of my head. Accentuate the positive, ignore the negative. And always, always get a great haircut.

Have you ever met a celebrity like Susanna?

My husband is an actor, so yeah, I've met a few celebs. The trick is to treat them normally, because SO many people don't. Whenever I see a celeb on the streets of NY, I always ask for directions to the subway. I pretend I have no idea who they are. Honestly, my tactic rarely yields accurate directions (what celeb rides the subway??), but I do get a close-up look. Between you and me, lots of celebs have noses that have grown back.

How many books about Susanna will there be, and when will the next one be out?

Four books, total. Susanna 3...SUSANNA COVERS THE CATWALK...will be out this October. Our girl has a fab adventure at Fashion Week in NYC. Great fun.

Did you ever have anyone like Aunt Martie in Perfect Girl? (I wish I did!)

I wish I did, too! The thing I love most about Aunt Marty is that she's fabulous and (ultimately) human. If you can swing it, what better way to be?

The idea that Ruthie's dad was a sperm donor is really different, where did you come up with the idea?

My real dad was an alcoholic when I was growing up (see THE SERIOUS KISS). So, even though he was there physically, he was really an absent parent. So, I've always been drawn to characters who have difficult family lives. I got to thinking, what would it be like if a girl never had a dad at all??? Which is how I came up with the sperm donor idea. It was either that, or a wild night in the backseat of a car. But, Ruthie's mom would never have done that. Or would she......????? Did she???? hehe

Have you ever had a crush on a guy friend like Ruthie did in Perfect Girl?

God, yes!!!! But, I can't tell you his name. I still see him from time to time. Honestly, I always wanted to be his girlfriend, but he always wanted to be my friend. Story of my life (sniff). But now, I'm married to an incredible guy who is also my best friend. So there, John! (fake name)

What did you study in college that prepared you to work in magazine editing and then write books?

I was a film major. I wanted to be a director, but I hate Hollywood (see above RE: watermelons). I think the biggest thing you need to be a successful writer is something I was born with: the ability to sit on my butt for hours at a time. Oh yeah, and lots of staring into space.

What's one of your favorite books?

My current fav is "Eccentric Glamour" by Simon Doonan. Extremely funny with great fashion advice. Who could ask for more?

Do you have any other books coming out besides the Susanna books? / What are you working on now?

I'm finishing up the final SUSANNA. She goes to London and falls in love (sigh). After that, I plan to sit on my butt and stare into space.

Are you a full time writer, or do you have a day job?

Full-time writer. Weekends and holidays, too. Though I do do windows.

I've heard a lot about crazy writing habits. Do you have a writing quirk to share?

My writing habits are tres boring. I work everyday from 9:30 to Oprah. I've always wanted a quirk or two, but I'm painfully ordinary. Any quirks you can share??

(Note from TCR: I make my excess of push pins on my bulletin board say things before I sit down and write. Right now is says nifty...and I'm not even sure why.)

How was your tour?

London was hot, hot, hot! And, I don't mean cool. I was sweating the entire time. But, the work part was fantastic. One bit of fallout: I returned with a slight British accent. A la Madonna. I'm thinking of going on concert tour next year if I can whip myself into shape. Cheers!

Is there anything that didn't get asked that you wish had been?

Yeah. How much I weigh. I've always been dying to say, "None of your business!" like Chelsea Clinton.

Many, many thanks to Mary! If that interview hasn't tempted you into reading her books, click here to read the reviews!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Airhead by Meg Cabot

Well, today's the release day for one really awesome book that I read a little while ago and have been absolutely dying to tell you all about! So without further ado, allow me to present Airhead, by Meg Cabot.

Emerson Watts is not pleased when her mother forces her to take her celeb obsessed younger sister Frida to the grand opening of the Stark Megastore. She'd much rather stay home and read or play video games with her best friend Christopher. But when she's involved in a peculiar accident, Em finds that her life is changed forever. Soon she's living a completely different life, and is being watched on all sides, by friendly and not so friendly allies.
For those of you who have longed for a novel that is right up there next to Cabot's Mediator series, this would be it! Airhead exemplifies Cabot's trademark of writing inimitable and one of a kind plot lines, but rather than come across as unbelievable, her grounded, witty, and sharp characters make this fast paced novel plausible. Although more elaboration on certain characters before Em's accident would give them more depth, Cabot's fresh twist on the modeling world and carefully constructed dialogue make this book appealing to all. It spectacularly transcends the boundaries of teen genre, combining contemporary fiction, romance, humor, and science fiction to weave together an impressive first novel of what will assuredly be a breathtaking and brilliant trilogy.

New Releases!

Airhead by Meg Cabot

See below for the review.

The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Click here for the review.

Frenemies by Alexa Young

Click here to read the review.

Congrats to the winners of the Frenemies

giveaway! They are: BookAdorer, sarahv, Elaina, Anidori-Isilee, Liv, tetewa, jennifer, bunnyb, Mari, and Hillary. Send your addresses to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com by Friday at noon Eastern Time, and your prizes will be mailed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Francey by Martin Dubow

Francey St. Michael is perhaps one of the luckiest girls in the world. Her father, Rick, is a renowned architect and dotes on her, and although she never knew her mother, Francey finds a friend in her 6th grade teacher, Lizzie Gingery, and she’s wonderfully smart and precocious. But then come the nightmares. Francey's nightmares are more than just a figment of her imagination though. They are memories, memories of a past life when she was a young artist whose lover was brutally killed. As the nightmares grow more menacing, Francey, her father, Lizzie, and Lizzie's brother will be drawn together as they search for an end to these night terrors before they claim Francey's life.

Sinister, suspenseful, and artfully written, Francey is one mysterious and engrossing read. Dubow's vivid wording will ensnare readers as he brings them back to the late 17th century and then up to modern times as Francey's story unfolds. The plot is briskly placed, and thrilling. Thanks to Dubow's keen eye for detail, you'll become intimate with each character and their background, making this an eerie novel that will propel you to read late into the night.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

When Illinois girl Casey McCloy's mother gets a temporary job in London, she finds herself standing in front of The Bramford, one of New York City's exclusive apartment buildings, ready to move in with her grandmother. It's here that she meets Madison, Phoebe, and Sophie, who are all filthy rich, and take pity on Casey and befriend her. Well, some of them anyway. Madison hates everything about Casey...from her less expensive wardrobe to the fact that Madison's long time friend and sort-of boyfriend Drew is drawn to Casey, and she’s not going to let some small town hick take away what’s hers. Things are about to get ugly.

Before you start thinking that The Elite is just another novel of its genre, Banash surprises the reader by giving the seemingly perfect rich girls problems and flaws that aren't unfamiliar to Midwestern girls like Casey. It's a hard task to get readers to feel an ounce of empathy for mean girls like Madison, but Banash does it.

When Madison is determined to humiliate Casey, rather than beat her at her own game, Casey admirably stands her ground, making her a real role model. But this novel isn't all about nasty remarks and stunning makeovers: it also explores the meaning of family, and the angst that comes with relationships that have run their course. Finally, a novel that isn't all about the materialistic things in life. This absorbing read will fly by quickly.

The Elite will be released from Berkley JAM June 3rd, 2008!

How I Found the Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood

The magic and adventure that Morgan experienced the previous summer in the novel Why I Let My Hair Grow Out are nearly forgotten as March drags on, and Morgan helps plan what will be the worst junior prom ever. Everything starts to look sunny again when Colin, her hunk of a tour guide from Ireland writes to say that he's coming to Connecticut.

But when he arrives groggy and bleary eyed, it doesn't take long for Morgan to realize that it's more than jet lag that's making Colin so weary...but the Fair Folk who invade his dreams and want to dance with him from dusk til dawn. They refuse to leave him alone, and it's going to take all of Morgan's brains to figure out how to get him away before he gives out in exhaustion.

How I Found the Perfect Dress is a nicely paced, fun, and magical read that tops its predecessor, Why I let My Hair Grow Out. It's full of sarcastic, witty humor, more hysterical magical beings, and meddling faeries. What makes it memorable are the Fair Folk--they're just as described in those old tales, but rocking a 21st century style. There's a plot twist that's building up suspense around every corner, and Morgan handles it all with flair. Wood has created an absolutely wonderful, sparkling read.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May Book of the Month: An Interview With Susane Colasanti

Hey there guys! This week, Susane is here to answer some of the questions you had for her!

Why did you choose to write When It Happens from the point of view of both Sara and Tobey?

When I was younger, it seemed like every teen novel was written from the girl’s point of view. I would read books and the whole time I’d be dying to know what the boy was thinking, what he talked about with his friends, and all of his secrets. I promised myself that if I ever wrote a teen novel, I would write it from both perspectives, so readers could discover more of the story that would have been hidden to them otherwise. I love telling both sides of a story. As a reader, I think it’s fascinating to find out what the other side really is.

How do you plan out your books? Do you outline it, or just come up with it as you go along?

Planning the main plot of a book is an organic process for me. I have a notebook filled with ideas for future books that I’m constantly adding to, as well as individual notebooks for each book I’m writing. Sometimes I have these really intense dreams and key scenes will just come to me. Even as I’m dreaming, I understand which characters the scene relates to. It’s amazing what the subconscious works out while you’re sleeping!

It’s important for me to have a chapter outline so I know what the book is about and what’s generally going to happen with my characters. I find that if I don’t keep the scope of the story focused, chapters can easy become unraveled and tangential. While writing each scene, I ask myself, “How does this move the story forward?” If it doesn’t, that scene is probably not needed.

As I’m writing, I uncover deeper truths about my characters and discover interesting things that I may not have known before, which can lead to unexpected changes in plot. That’s part of the excitement of writing, when your character takes over the scene for you! So my chapter outline is constantly evolving, but the main direction of the story doesn’t waver.

Do you write full time?

Yes, and I love it! I was a high school science teacher for almost ten years here in New York City. When I started teaching, I never thought I’d resign. I loved my students and I love teaching. But the opportunity to be a full-time author is one I had to take. Also, I feel that I can reach more teens as a writer than a teacher, so it’s all good. I think it’s exciting to know that a person can have more than one career in life and that anything is possible.

I loved When It Happens! I could definitely see it as a movie! Do you think that will ever happen?

I hope so! That’s part of my creative visualization, like Sara practiced in When It Happens with her pink bubble wishes. When I was writing When It Happens, I saw the scenes like movie scenes playing in my mind, so I think the story has a very visual quality to it. And I get a lot of email from readers saying that they think it would rock as a movie.

Did you have any say in the covers of When It Happens and Take Me There? (I love them, by the

Authors don’t usually have any input on their cover designs, so it was awesome of my publisher to allow a consultation for both covers. I saw three mock-ups for the When It Happens cover and thought the tree idea was really cute. I was able to provide some feedback that was incorporated during changes in the design. For example, Tobey was originally wearing white sneakers, and I knew he would never wear those. I was like, “Tobey should really be wearing black Converse.” And now he is. It always bothers me when the characters on covers are so clearly not the characters in the book, so I really appreciated the chance to make the cover appear more authentic.

The Take Me There cover is phenomenal. It was designed by Sam Kim, who did an amazing job capturing the tone of the story and the look of the characters. I love the huge window and all of that natural light; it feels like positive energy is just radiating from the cover. My feedback was basically that the cover is gorgeous!

Was it hard to write from the perspective of a guy?

Not really. We’re all human, so we all have the same basic needs and wants. We all want to find someone to share our life with, someone who will get us in a way that no one else ever has. Someone who feels like home. So I just used the desire to find and be with a soul mate as the driving force behind Tobey’s actions.

Dialogue is a bit trickier, since boys and girls generally speak very differently. It was a challenge to keep Tobey’s voice distinct from Sara’s voice, since they have so much in common and share the same sense of humor. Sometimes they really do sound like the same person! But boy dialogue tends to be more condensed. Boys don’t usually sit around with their friends talking about feelings the way girls do. Since I was around kids all day as a teacher, I kind of developed a sense about boy speak, and now most of it comes naturally.

Can you tell us anything about your next book, Waiting For You?

Waiting For You has a boy-next-door theme going on. It’s about a girl who realizes that the one thing she’s been looking for has been right there all along. The book also deals with teen depression, sketchy online relationships, and a boyfriend who’s not exactly over his ex. So it’s packed with jealousy and emotional turmoil. But at the heart of the story is true love, which is my thing.

In Take Me There, a character gets a little too close to a teacher. Why did you decide to write about that sort of situation?

I’m glad you asked this question. There have been quite a few books recently that deal with intimate relationships between teachers and students, like Barry Lyga’s incredible Boy Toy. I wanted to show the scenario that is far more common, which involves a student having an intense crush on a teacher. So many students have crushes which never materialize in any real contact with their teachers, but the emotions involved are so overwhelming that sometimes kids think that there’s more going on than there actually is.

In Take Me There, Nicole is infatuated with Mr. Farrell and wants to take things to the next level. It’s not clear what Mr. Farrell is thinking, but it’s obvious that Nicole is obsessed with him. I feel that many teens can relate to this type of infatuation, so I wanted to connect with them by telling this story.

Are you like Sara from When It Happens in the sense that you are driven to succeed?

Definitely. I’m also super organized and into archival scrapbooking.

What's one thing you'd like your readers to know about you?

I rule at Pac-Man.

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Take Me There or When It Happens! Email your name, address, and email address to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood

Morgan is a bit too extreme for her parents. When faced with a breakup with her first boyfriend, she cuts her hair extremely short, and dyes it orange. She doesn't talk to any of her old friends, and is moping around the house. So her parents, meaning well, but perhaps a little misguided, book her a week long biking trip to Ireland, where Morgan meets Colin, one of the guides. Colin's unusual attitude appeals instantly to Morgan, but it's kinda hard to make any progress in the relationship department when you keep getting whisked away to Long-Ago, where you are evidently a half goddess and are expected to lift the kingdom of an evil enchantment....

Maryrose Wood's Why I Let My Hair Grow Out is an outrageously funny, quirky, and brilliant read. Each character is unique and vibrant, with their own distinct voice. Morgan is an endlessly witty main character who will appeal to the teen reader immensely. Her remarkable flair and zany attitude make this lively, fun froth of romance, mystery, and magic a MUST READ, with one kick-butt cover to boot.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Feel Like I'm the Last to Know....

....but the Twilight movie trailer is now out! Woo-hoo! And it is pretty much made of all awesome-ness.

Check it out here!

New Releases!

I am going to go absolutely broke. Amazing looking books just keep coming and coming! Check out today's new releases!

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Click here to read my review.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Ever by Cail Carson Levine
(I especially want to read this one!)

Fat Hoochie Prom Queen by Nico Medina

Guest Blogger: Alexa Young, Author of Frenemies!

What Do You Expect?

The countdown’s on! My first YA novel, Frenemies, comes out in just one week. So I guess it makes sense that people keep asking me if I’m excited or if I’m going to have a huge celebration. What might not make sense is that I’ve been decidedly low-key about the whole thing. Sure, I’m psyched to see the book in stores and especially to hear what readers think of it. But I’m not having a release party and I tend to cringe, even recoil in horror, when people speculate on my imminent fame and fortune. Mostly, I tend to worry that people won’t buy the book—or worse still that they will buy it, they won’t like it, and they’ll (gulp!) return it.

Yeah, yeah, there are those people (cough ~ Pollyannas ~ cough) who say you’ve got to think positively, focus on your ideal outcome, and really build things up if you want them to go your way. Sorry, Oprah, I just can’t do it. In fact, I’m going to be really obnoxious here and claim that optimism will lead to disappointment every time. However, realism—with a healthy pinch of cynicism, pessimism or whatever my neurosis-du-jou might be—has worked fabulously well for me. I mean, my life is good! I’ve got a great family, lovely friends, reasonably good health, a nice place to live, a fun career—and I think I feel this way because I keep my expectations in check. That way, I tend to be pleasantly surprised and content with what I get (although, okay, I might not act like it all the time; apologies to the hubby in particular). Even my good pal Stephen Hawking has said, When one’s expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have.” (How apropos that I received this quote in a “Daily Inspiration” email last week! Seriously.)

I know it probably doesn’t work for everyone, but I definitely prefer to live life in the neutral zone, with a sort of que sera sera, let the chips fall where they may, humble accepting of the fact that I simply can’t control everything (in spite of the fact that I’m a total type-A, Capricorn, control freak). Does that make sense? Is anybody with me on this? Or should I just go away and stop yammering on? Okay, fair enough…

But first, it’s your turn to weigh in: Do you tend to live life with high expectations, low expectations or no expectations—and how’s that all working out for you? Leave a comment here, and our beloved Compulsive Reader will pick 10 winners at random to receive a signed copy of Frenemies! Woo hoo! I wish you good luck…but I definitely don’t want to get your hopes up. Maybe you shouldn’t either. J

Thanks for having me, C.R., and for all the love and support. Love you (mean it)!



Click here to read the review of Frenemies!

ALEXA YOUNG spent the first several years of her professional life working in the music industry—for the legendary capitol records and the irreverently funny trade magazine HITS. She subsequently worked as an editor for the now-defunct teen magazine JUMP, as well as for the #1 women’s fitness magazine in the country, SHAPE. As a freelance writer, she’s contributed to a number of national consumer magazines, including Marie Claire, O: The Oprah Magazine and Family Circle. She holds a bachelor's degree in Literature/Writing from the University of California, San Diego, and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, son and dog. FRENEMIES is her first novel.





PS from TCR.....Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Phoebe and her friend Margi are used to being stared at and made fun of because of their unconventional Gothic style. But the tables are quickly turned and they are considered normal when certain teenagers throughout the country come back to lif e they don't breathe, eat, or function quite like normal teenagers, but they're alive nonetheless. And Phoebe's small town of Oakvale is becoming a haven for them, and a brewing pot for animosity, discrimination, and violence.

Things only get more and more tense when Phoebe bravely decides to befriend the "ringleader" of these living dead, Tommy Williams, dragging her friend Margi, whose reluctance to associate with any of the "differently biotic" kids has to do with the guilt and fear surrounding their friend Colette's death...and reappearance, and Adam, the football player who is head over heels in love with Phoebe. Their decision to do this isn't a light one, that's for sure, and they'll have to face far more than just petty discrimination: together with their differently biotic friends, they'll have to try to change the way their society thinks in a world where the differently biotic have absolutely no rights.

Generation Dead is one tremendous read. Phoebe is one brave, intelligent, and extremely admirable character. Waters's writing and imagination is gripping and engaging. Each reader will find themselves wrapped up completely in this unique and original story that is controversial and will challenge your thinking, and question what it means to be alive. Faced with adversity on nearly every side, this lively group of teens (no pun intended) will courageously face the new world in which they live, with an engrossing ending that will leave readers indignantly demanding more. Generation Dead is a profound, descriptive, and sensitive read that is sure to make waves in the young adult genre.

Borders Rocks My Socks Off

So I took a little trip to Chicago this past weekend. Before I say anything else, let it be known that I am a small town girl. I live on a farm outside of our tiny college town. The biggest city I have ever been to is Ann Arbor. Which is not that big. So, can anyone say culture shock?

But nevertheless, it was amazing! I loved it, even though it did rain on us quite a few times throughout the two days we spent there. I spent about 5 hours at Shedd Aquarium, where I met this guy:

But probably the best part about the trip was just being able to walk around downtown. It was so fun. And just when I didn't think that the trip could get any cooler, I saw this building:

That's right. A Borders. That was FOUR STORIES TALL! Now, if that makes me sound like a hick, I don't care. This was the biggest bookstore I had ever been inside of, and I made sure to visit every inch of it before settling down in the young adult section, where my friend Lisa found April's Book of the Month!

Besides finding the Comeback Season, we also found copies of How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, and Sarah Mlynowski, which isn't due to hit stores until Tuesday! (Click here to read my review).

And not only that, but there was also TONS of copies of Airhead! I loved this book, but I promised the publicist who gave it to me not to post my review until the official release date, May 13, so you'll have to wait til then, or just go to the big huge Borders in Chicago and buy yourself a copy!

The ride home left me plenty of time to read and catch up on some really stellar reads, so stay tuned for some new book reviews heading this way soon!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cool New Releases!

Hey everyone.,

There are a few new and really cool books out today! Check them out!

Sorority 101: Zeta or Omega? by Kate Harmon

Jenna, Roni, and Lora-Leigh couldn't be more different. But when these three girls arrive on the campus of Latimer University, one thing will pull them together: sorority recruitment. Roni has been looking forward to it for months and knows which one everyone expects her to belong in. Jenna decided to try it on a whim, but is worried that if she does, everyone will discover the secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden. Lora-Leigh is doing it just to please her mom, but will she find that sororities are more than just superficial groups of girls? Throughout the recruitment process these girls will become friends, defy expectations, and learn to decide for themselves what they truly want.

Zeta or Omega? is a satisfying and wholesome read. Jenna, Roni, and Lora-Leigh have a sense of realness about them that will make them instantly likable and entertaining characters. Harmon has a real knack for capturing the fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, and overwhelming feeling of those first few weeks of college. This pleasurable read will abolish any of those preconceived notions that sororities are just full of shallow girls who like to party, and will be sure to reel in countless readers.

The New Sisters by Marley Gibson

Sequel to Zeta or Omega?, The New Sisters looks to be just as fun filled as its prequel. I can't wait to read it myself!

Click here to learn more!

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

I'm really jazzed about reading this one! It is on my To-Read list, so expect a review real soon!

May Book(s) of the Month!

Well, this month, we're going to mix it up just slightly. Instead of having just one book to feature, we're having two! They're both written by the wonderfully smart and talented Susane Colasanti.

When It Happens

As a senior in high school, good girl Sara hasn't ever experienced true love. Her aim is to find it before she graduates. She thinks she has it in Dave, and they even start dating. But then Tobey comes along. Tobey is everything Sara isn't: a slacker, who has a solid C in each and every class. But Tobey is convinced Sara is The One, and so he tries to win her over. But Sara may not be so easily convinced.

When It Happens is magnetic. It's not often that an author comes along who can write from both the points of view of a guy and girl in such a way that is believable and authentic to readers, but Susane Colasanti pulls it off with ease. When It Happens is confident, and peppered with the things that make up teenage life in America today: the dropped swear words, the thoughts about sex, and that quick and sharp humor, but is not overdone. The alternating points of view give this story just the right amount of suspense and variety, and the characters' unfailing raw honesty make this a novel to remember as two teens strive to discover their soul mates, and chronicles that exhilarating, amazing feeling when it happens.

Take Me There

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.

We're also going to be giving away a copy of each book to one lucky winner! Email your name, address, and email to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com for your chance to win! You have until midnight on May 28th to get your entries in! Winners will be announced on May 29th!