Friday, April 30, 2010

Zombies: Know Your Escape Routes

Have you seen the zombie book to end all books? FEED by Mira Grant. AWESOME!

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

Orbit has the coolest website EVER for FEED:

On author Mira Grant's website she has cool wallpaper and icons:

(Shhhh...Mira is actually the Maine Coon cat loving writer Seanan McGuire)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Magic on the Storm

Magic on the Storm:
An Allie Beckstrom Novel
Author: Devon Monk
ARC Releases on May 4, 2010
Preorder on Amazon

Summary: Allison Beckstrom is committed to her work tracing illegal spells. Now, there's an apocalyptic storm bearing down on Portland, and when it hits, all the magic in the area will turn unstable and destructive. To stop it from taking out the entire city, Allie and her lover, the mysterious Zayvion Jones, must work with the Authority-the enigmatic arbiters of all things magic-and take a stand against a magical wildstorm that will obliterate all in its path...

I won a Magic on the Storm ARC, and it's my first Devon Monk read. Once again, I'm smacking myself in the head for waiting this long to read her books. I loved her writing, the characters and the plot. There were action scenes that completely floored me. I couldn't have stopped reading for any reason, short of the kids stabbing each other or the house exploding during these scenes.

Magic on the Storm is urban fantasy mixed with paranormal romance. It's on the dark side, but has humor to offset the darkness. I loved the main characters, and will be picking up the first three books to learn more about them and what has come before the current book. Shame (Shamus Flynn) is an awesome side character. He first shows up in this book, throwing ice cubes at the two main characters:

"Thank God I got here in time." He tossed another volley our way. "You might have gone up in flames. Burst into sex at any minute."

He's the comic relief, but he is also tortured, loyal and can kick ass to protect his friends. The man could have his own book for Pete's sake.

Allie, the main character, is strong, loyal, passionate and she can kick butt physically and magically, though she's still learning how to use her powers. Her father's spirit lives within her, attempting to possess her every chance he gets, but actually becomes useful along the way later in the book, or at least appears to be. Zayvion Jones is Allie's magical Soul Complement, her boyfriend and her sparring partner. The man sizzles while just standing in a room, but put him with Allie and he's hot and explosive. Seriously.

"Zay was Zay. Silent. Brooding. When he carried himself like that, he was a force, a darkness, a power.

I was glad he was on our side."

If you enjoy Ilona Andrews, Stacia Kane, Jeaniene Frost or Lilith Saintcrow you will love Devon Monk. Magic on the Storm is the fourth in the series:

Allie Beckstrom Novels
1. Magic to the Bone (2008)
2. Magic In the Blood (2009)
3. Magic in the Shadows (2009)
4. Magic on the Storm (2010)
5. Magic at the Gate (November 2010)

You can learn more about Devon and her books on her website here.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Series Review: The Final Prophecy

The Final Prophecy Series
Author: Jessica Andersen
Publisher: Signet
Books Available on Amazon

Books in the Series:
1. Nightkeepers(2008)
2. Dawnkeepers(2009)
3. Skykeepers(2009)
4. Demonkeepers(2010)
5. Blood Spells(November 2010)

Summary: The final four-year countdown to the end of days has begun. According to ancient Maya prophecy, demons from the underworld will arise on December 21, 2012. Only the Nightkeepers, mortal descendants of an ancient race of magic-wielding warrior-priests, can prevent the apocalypse by stopping the demons from bringing the old legends to life.

Jessica Anderson is a very smart woman. She has a PhD in molecular genetics, and a love of research. So when I say that The Final Prophecy series is a action-packed, sexy and SMART read, I mean it in the fullest sense. Her characters are complex, moody, sexy and driven. Her writing is detailed, but not so much that it bogs the reader down. She gives us bits and pieces of the Mayan culture, history and magic as the books move along, but she mixes it with fast paced action, steamy sex and characters that keep you guessing.

I will say that The Final Prophecy books needed a little more of my attention. I tend to pick up my books and read them throughout the day, as well as before sleeping. I may be sitting in the living room with my kids, chatting, watching television and pick up a book, reading in the midst of it all. Demonkeepers,the fourth book in the series, took more of my attention than usual to follow along with all that had happened in past books. The other three I had read fairly close together, so they had all flowed together as I finished one, and jumped into the next one. Since it had been awhile this time, I had to let the book jog my memory as I read of something that was coming to a conclusion. So, what am I saying? The books CAN be fast reads, but to really appreciate the plot revolving around Mayan prophecy, the reader should pay attention and digest the information as they move through the books. It's tempting to just get to the sexy parts as quickly as possible, but that is really doing an injustice to Doc Jessica's research and plot.

I recommend reading the books in order to really appreciate the characters and the ongoing plot. Each book revolves around a couple BUT has details on all the Nightkeepers and their fight against evil. I appreciated the struggles of each couple more by knowing their background and how they came into the group.

The books in the series are:

1. Nightkeepers: the first book that introduces the characters and revolves around Strike and Leah.

2. Dawnkeepers: Nate and Alexis are ex-lovers and are forced to work together while recovering seven artifacts before the demons discover them first.

3. Skykeepers: Sasha and Michael's story is riveting. A Nightkeeper with a dark past, and a woman who thought the tales of the Final Prophecy were ravings of an obsessed father.

4. Demonkeepers: The fourth and most recently released of the books. There is SO much going on in this book. Lucius has been in all the books as he gets sucked into the Nightkeeper's world. At first he seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but was it more than that? Jade is a therapist, and a researcher within the Nightkeepers. She wants to be more and is tired of sitting back while everyone else has an active role. For me, Demonkeepers had a theme of understanding sacrifice and duty, which I loved. Do you ignore love for duty?

You can learn more about The Final Prophecy series on the authors website here:



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Werewolf Weekend: My Favorites

I love werewolves. When I came across Werewolf Weekend over at vvB32 Reads how could I NOT participate? Tonight I'm sharing my favorite werewolf movies, television and books. I can't imagine what urban fantasy would be without our sexy, furry friends. They rock.

Let's get started with two of my favorite werewolf movies, Underworld and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I know, there are also vampires in the Underworld movies, but I personally think Lucian steals the show from the vamps. Here is a picture from Rise of the Lycans with Sonja, the woman he loves, who is, alas, a blood sucking vampire with an evil father who hates werewolves.

Without a doubt my favorite television werewolf is Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Who didn't love Oz?
Oz had a subtle, odd kind of sexiness. At first he seemed witty and droll, kind of geeky, and certainly didn't look like he could kick anyone's ass. Then he fell in love with Willow and we found out he was a werewolf. Gradually, he shows us that he will protect her, and love her until...well, until things start to go wrong. Here is a typical Oz line from the show:

Oz : "Sometimes, when I’m sitting in class—you know, I’m not thinking about class, ’cause that would never happen—I think about kissing you. And, it’s like everything stops. It’s like, it’s like...freeze frame. Willow kissage. (pauses) Oh, I’m not gonna kiss you."

As far as my favorite picks for werewolf books, there are a lot of cool books that have weres, but not necessarily werewolves. If I'm going to stick with werewolves, I have to go with Patricia Briggs and her Mercedes Thompson series. Adam, is hands down my favorite alpha werewolf. In Iron Kissed he comes to Mercy's rescue after she's attacked and helps her recover. I could read this part of the book hundreds of times and never tire of it. It's love, safety, and nurturing at it's best wrapped in a sexy, alpha package. It just does not get any better.

These are the Mercy books with their publishing years and titles. I think they are best read in order.

Mercedes Thompson
1. Moon Called (2006)
2. Blood Bound (2007)
3. Iron Kissed (2008)
4. Bone Crossed (2009)
5. Silver Borne (2010)

If you haven't experienced any of the werewolf goodness I've mentioned be sure to check them out. Plus, if you go here and look in the comments, you'll find links to more werewolf blog posts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Tour & Contest: The Eerie Firefly Rain

Firefly Rain
Author: Richard Dansky
Publisher: Gallery
Paperback: 352 pages

Summary: After a failed business venture in Boston, Jacob Logan comes back to the small Southern town of his childhood and takes up residence in the isolated house he grew up in. Here, the air is still. The nights are black. And his parents are buried close by. It should feel like home—but something is terribly wrong.

Firefly Rain creeped me out. It gave me shivers as I read it before sleeping, with my small tiny book light. I really wanted to reach over and switch on the bright overhead light. My husband didn't really need sleep, did he? The author kept me guessing right up until that last chapter when he laid it all out for the reader. Horror can be gruesome, shocking and in your face. It can also sneak up on you. It can give you that feeling that makes you keep looking over your shoulder. You know, the one that causes you to say "Hey, now wait a minute...". To me, that takes special talent and Richard Dansky proves he can creep out his readers with the best of them.

Firefly Rain, has an eerie, subtle weirdness. The characters are interesting and odd enough that the reader suspects everyone, including the main character, of wrong doing. Mr. Dansky gives us mystery, suspense, thrills and in some ways a bit of a love story.

I thought the author did a wonderful job of using issues many of us have experienced and giving them an eerie twist. How many of you couldn't wait to leave a small town to live a bigger and better life? Maybe you didn't come home as often as you promised, or you waited too long to tell a family member you loved them. These are things that all of us have struggled with in varying degrees. I think this made the book more poignant, giving it a little extra depth beyond the mystery and horror.

If you enjoy Stephen King or Dean Koontz you should give Firefly Rain a read. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The publisher has kindly allowed me to give away one copy of Firefly Rain to spread the scariness. As usual, I will ask you a question. Simply answer it in the comments to enter the contest:

What is the scariest movie or book you've ever read or watched? Why?

For me it was The Exorcist. YIKES! I never did make it through the entire movie, though I did read the book when I was a teenager. I guess the green vomit frightened me more than the story itself:)

Leave your email in the comment if it's not linked to your profile. The contest will end May 2, 2010 and I'll post the winner on May 3rd.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: The Brotherhood of the Blood

Be Mine Tonight
Book #1 in The Brotherhood of the Blood
Author: Kathryn Smith
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Release Date: JULY 2006
Publisher: Avon Books
Visit the Author's Website
Available at Indie Bound, Powell's Books, Barnes & Noble
and Amazon

Summary: In the 1300s, six soldiers went into a Templar building searching for treasure. What they found changed them forever, making them vampires – and unlike any other of their kind. The suicide of one of their own and events that followed drove them apart, but six centuries later, an ancient evil conspires to reunite them once more.

I picked up Be Mine Tonight on Amazon a few months ago where it resided on my To Be Read Shelf until I read it this weekend. The first of The Brotherhood of the Blood series, this book features Pru and Chapel, who is one of the brotherhood. It serves as an introduction to the series and the brotherhood. Chapel was the first soldier in the group to become a vampire, and it's been about 600 years since his change when he meets Prudence Ryland in 1899. I loved the character of Pru right from the start. She's witty and rather forward for a young woman of her time, mostly because she's dying and doesn't have time to play games or be overly gracious. It took me a little longer to warm up to Chapel. He's a tortured, brooding man who has lost his sense of humor along the way. Pru tells him:

"What have you done with your time? Spent it mooning over a woman who didn't want you and hiding behind a church that despises you?"

Be Mine Tonight is what I would call a historical paranormal romance. It takes place in the 1800's, so the writing isn't gritty or snarky, but instead the humor is subtle, and the romance anguished. There is a bit of intrigue and adventure as Pru, Chapel and their colleagues search for the Holy Grail or it's antithesis, the Blood Grail.

I read on the author's website that she consulted with her niece, who works in oncology, for the scenes involving Pru's cancer. I can tell that she took special care in writing about her symptoms and her emotional distress in regards to the cancer. It's heartbreaking, yet Pru's strength is amazing as she refuses to give up until the last possible moment, and then she faces her death with grace. If I hadn't already grown to like Chapel, I would have been won over by his care and nurturing of Pru during her sickness.

Be Mine Tonight is foremost a romance with the paranormal elements as an aspect of the story, along with the adventure and suspense. Pru and Chapel's love story is one of hope, and forgiveness above all else. There are sexual elements to the book, though I wouldn't consider it an erotic story. They come with the natural progression of Pru and Chapel's relationship. I don't think the story would have been as intense or heartbreaking without the sex scenes.

I think fans of both historical and paranormal romance will enjoy Be Mine Tonight. It's the first in a series:

Brotherhood of Blood
1. Be Mine Tonight (2006)
2. Night of the Huntress (2007)
3. Taken By the Night (2007)
4. Let the Night Begin (2008)
5. Night After Night (2009)



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paranormal Inspiration Via Cello

The first time I saw a video of Apocalyptica I was stunned. Creepy, but very hot, Finnish guys playing cello that rocked. Something about them screams paranormal. Enjoy:)


Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome to the Night Shift...

Night Shift
Jill Kismet Novels
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Available at Indie Bound, Powell's Books, Barnes & Noble
& Amazon

Summary: Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night. Not everyone tries. But Jill Kismet is not just anyone. She’s a Hunter, trained by the best–and in over her head. Welcome to the night shift…

I picked up Night Shift because I'd been following Lilith Saintcrow on Twitter and reading her posts on Deadline Dames. I love her sense of humor and knew I would love her writing too. Boy, was I right on target. I loved Night Shift. It's a gritty, dark urban fantasy with demons, weres, and things that go crash in the night. The humor in the book alternates between black humor and dry wit, at least that is how I read it. It reminds me of the humor nurses and doctors that work in an emergency room develop. They do it because if they don't, the things they see overwhelm them, and they burn out. My husband has this sense of humor, so I know it well. The dry wit comes mostly from Saul, the were that sort of "attaches" himself to Jill Kismet, the main character. He seems like a polar opposite of her. She's this vessel of supernatural energy, pain and anger. He's calm, soothing, nurturing, strong and most of the time his anger is a silent simmer. Wow, the scenes between the two of them are my favorite. There are, if I remember correctly, 3 kisses between them in the entire book, but I found myself practically holding my breath during every one of them. Seriously, the emotion Ms. Saintcrow put into those scenes just floored me.

The characters in Night Shift are very in depth, but not necessarily with wordy descriptions. The author has this way of nailing the characters motives and their personality in one scene, no matter how small it is. I know many reader's will find Jill to be bitchy and stubborn. In some ways, this is true, but in her world it's the only way to survive. If the reader pays attention, and looks at her as a whole, after learning her background and what she does for a living, it makes sense. I cannot imagine her personality being any different than the author has made it. This is one of my favorite lines when Jill answers Saul after he questions her use of a very large sword:

"That's the advantage of having a hellbreed scar on my wrist, furboy. I get to play with all sorts of toys that are too big for me."

Night Shift is a fast paced, action filled read, but it also tackles many issues that are thought provoking and faced by many of us. Is the world black and white? Is there only good and evil, with nothing in between? Are we damned by our actions, or is there forgiveness? Another issue, at least that I saw in the book, is the one of putting someone on a pedestal. Do we hold a teacher, a parent, a lover, in such high esteem that they can do no wrong? Do we base our worth or self esteem on what they think of us? Then lastly, is the struggle to trust again, to realize we need another person, no matter how strong we think we are alone. Granted, other readers may see different issues in Night Shift, but these are the ones I came away with.

If you enjoy Lori Handeland, Vicki Petterssen and Marjorie M. Liu you will love Night Shift. It's part of a series:

Jill Kismet
1. Night Shift (2008)
2. Hunter's Prayer (2008)
3. Redemption Alley (2009)
4. Flesh Circus (2009)

You can learn more about the author at the links below:
Deadline Dames


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contest & Review: Jane Slayre

Jane Slayre
Sherri Browning Erwin
Charlotte Bronte
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Gallery

First, let's start off with a confession. I do not generally like literature from the 1800's. I know this will shock many of you, but I wanted you to know before I review Jane Slayre. Many of the reviews out there will be from fans of the original book that may have read it over many times. They love the characters and go into it with an eye towards what was changed. Not me. I opened the cover and thought "This should be interesting." It's my first literary mash-up as books such as Jane Slayre are being called. I had no idea what to expect.

Things started out a little slow, but I think it was just me adjusting to the style of the writing. I was surprised that it was written in a first person POV. I've heard so many negative things about books written in the first person, but I thought it worked well and made the story more personable. I was stunned to find that Jane was only 9 years old at the start of the book, living in a house of vampires, except for the servants. All I could think of was "Run, Jane, Run!".

The story moved from that house of horrors to a new one where Jane discovers a group of Zombie children, but also makes a friend and ally in one of the teachers. I rarely have nightmares, but I'll admit this part was creepy enough that I had one the night I read it. I thought Ms. Erwin did a wonderful job of working the paranormal and horror aspects into the story. The style of writing flowed smoothly, and I never had a feeling of something new being mixed with the old. It was rather obvious to me that she loved the original book, and was very careful in merging her ideas with Charlotte Bronte's.

Jane Slayre has a very clear cut sense of what is wrong and what is right. Vampyres are evil. Though they may come to regret their choices, they will never be redeemed except by death. The descriptions of the monsters and their mischief were eerie and horrible, as they were meant to be. There was no softening of the details.

I also learned to appreciate the humor of Charlotte Bronte and Ms. Erwin. It's not a snarky, in your face wit, but is instead subtle. It made me smile more than once throughout the book, as I'm sure it was meant to. I loved this statement from Jane:

"It happens when one stakes them too. Poof! They turn to dust. It's fascinating, really. Even a little pretty in the moonlight."

This happens later in the book, as Jane slays a vampire lurking behind her and Mr. Rochester:

"Fortunately I had sharpened that stake just this morning and my aim was true as my love for Mr. Rochester, for I would not have had a second chance."

Jane does not brag of her slayer accomplishments nor does she whine about having to resort to violence. She goes about sharpening stakes and hiding daggers as if it's as normal as needlepoint.

I really like Jane Slayre and hope many of you will give it a chance, whether you are a fan of Charlotte Bronte, literary mash-ups or not. The book was obviously written with care and much thought on the part of both authors. Then there is the ending. The. Best. Ever.

Learn more about Sherri Browning Erwin:
Visit the author's website
Follow Sherri on Twitter
Visit Jane's Publisher Page which includes a reading!

The publisher has graciously allowed us to give away one copy of Jane Slayre! As usual, I ask a question, and you leave me some wit or wisdom in the comments.

Have you read any literary mash-ups yet? Is there a classic book you think would make a cool paranormal mash-up like Jane Slayre?

Leave a comment as an entry to the contest, which will end on April 30th, 2010 and I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner and post the results on May 1st. If your email is not associated with your profile then please leave it with your comment, so I can reach you.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

The Fever Series
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Kindle Edition
Print Length: 382 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Summary: As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands. . . .

I have been getting recommendations from friends and fellow book bloggers to read Darkfever for almost a year, and I finally decided to pick it up on my Kindle. I started reading it one night on a whim, and I could not put it down. I kid you not. I was surprised at how laid back, and personable the author comes across writing in the first person POV. I loved the main character, MacKayla, because she was so normal. She travels to Ireland to find out more about her sister's death. She's stressed and frightened, yet determined. She doesn't gain martial arts skills overnight. She is bright, and perky and she lives in Denial Land, a place I am well acquainted with. It's a place normal people go to when they can't believe things have become so chaotic and out of control.

Darkfever was a surprise for me in many ways. Though there are scenes of sexual "magic", there isn't actual sex. The cover gave me the impression of an erotic romance. I'm not complaining because Jericho, the other main character, is dark, brooding and challenging to Mac at every turn. Attraction is there, but trust isn't. It makes for a fun read as they bantered. The build up can be just as good as the couple finally giving in to each other.

The fae Mac runs into at every turn are deadly, mysterious and can't be trusted. Some are gruesome, some are beautiful, but all are dangerous. It will be fascinating to discover more of their factions in the next book.

Darkfever takes place in modern day Ireland, which is fascinating to me. I love all things Celtic, and have always dreamed of visiting Ireland. Though Mac is visiting under stressful circumstances she also appreciates the beauty of Ireland that her sister must have seen before she died.

I thought Ms. Moning's writing was similar to Kim Harrison's where she uses humor and snark, even in dark situations. There are four books in the series, and a fifth coming out in December of 2010.

The Fever Series
1. Darkfever (2006)
2. Bloodfever (2007)
3. Faefever (2008)
4. Dreamfever (2009)
5. Shadowfever (2010)



Smashing Pumpkins Do Steampunk

My son, Pseudo Emo Teen, insisted I share this Smashing Pumpkins video because of it's steampunk elements. So, in honor of The Book Smugglers' Steampunk Week I give you Tonight, Tonight:

Visit Book Smugglers this week here. Steampunk goodness for all:)


Monday, April 12, 2010

YA Week Winners!

Last week was SO much fun! I just picked the two YA Week winners. We had 55 comments overall. I wrote them out and assigned them a number in the order. The first winner receives these YA Books:

Bite Me! by Melissa Francis
Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
Evernight by Claudia Gray
Poison Ink by Christopher Golden
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Number 39 is the winner picked by the random number generator...which is Melissa from My World ... in Words and Pages! Congrats Melissa:) You can visit Melissa here:

Our second winner will receive:

Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones (Book 1)
Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones (Book 2)
Daughter of the Sea by Berlie Doherty

The number chosen was 28, which belongs to Emma! She doesn't have a blog, but stopped by to comment during YA Week to comment.

I've emailed the winners, and will ship their books out later this week.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by, contributed and commented last week. I had a blast and will do this again:)


More Authors on Writing Young Adult Books

Georgia McBride is a young adult author, a mom, and founder of #YAlitchat on Twitter. She has written Praefatio, a YA urban fantasy series. Learn more about her on her blog. I follow her on Twitter, and on the blog, so I asked her about writing YA books.

Why did I choose to write YA?

I didn’t. YA chose me. Every single character that has every come to me with a story to tell has been a teen.

Are you more careful as far as sex, violence etc. because it is a YA book?

I am mindful that I am writing YA and I think about what I would want my daughter to read (she is now 6) or not. But I’m careful to stay true to my characters regardless. My characters are emotional, vulnerable, sensual, human beings--well not all of them are human. But, I can't censor them in one area and expect them to be fully realized in another. It simply wouldn’t work.

Sandra Cox is the author of Vampire Island and Grounded, both YA paranormal novels. I asked her about writing YA novels:

As to why I decided to write a YA series and why it appeals to me: Basically, because its fun:) I love writing YA/YAH (young at heart). Its like writing anything else, except your heroine is younger and the energy level is higher.

Visit Sandra here.

Linda Palmer currently writes YA paranormal romances including her series, Wolf of My Heart. She gave me some insight into why she decided to start writing for teens. You can visit Linda and get more information on her books here.

I wrote category print books (specifically Silhouettes) for 10 years, 21 books in all. The reason these books are called "category" is because they fulfill specific reader expectations. So I wrote cowboys, brides, grooms, wedding and babies until I coudn't write one single more, much less read one. I burned out totally. In search of something else to read, I stumbled across Meg Cabot's paranormal teen series, 1-800-Where-R-You? and The Mediator (the basis for Ghost Whisperer). These reads were so refreshing after the rut I'd been stuck in that I actually wanted to write again. So I made a list of everything in them I loved: feisty heroine, inappropriate boyfriend (ghost or on probation for some crime), messy family (bipolar illness, step-siblings, half-siblings, divorced parents, etc.), a hint of mystery and a paranormal aspect. Based on my list, I began writing exactly what I wanted to read.

As for the YA aspect, Jacob Black says it best in New Moon: "Age is just a number, baby." Twilight is a YA book, and what 9 to 99 year old female (or male) can resist reading it? The same goes for Harry Potter. I like YAs because I don't have to deal with adult issues such as past marriages, children (either the hero's or heroine's), or sex. Instead, I can write a book that's young in tone, but has an "adultness" (according to one of my editors) that makes it ageless. I still deal with life issues, of course, sex included, but with a younger approach. The YA market is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to some saavy writers. I'm glad to have gotten in on the ground floor of YA e-publishing.

Thanks to all of the authors that shared their opinions and experiences with me during YA Week! ~Moonsanity

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Write for Middle School Age Readers?

Bonnie J. Doerr has taught students from kindergarten to college in eight states. Her degrees in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, led her to write ecological mysteries. I asked her about writing YA books:

Why did you decide to write a YA series?

Let me begin by saying my books are for the younger teens. So my series is more tween than what readers usually think of as YA.

I didn't start out to pen a series. But the characters got so involved in their environmental passion that they wouldn't quit after one success story. When they saw injustice they simply had to do something about it. I must admit, it was also a great excuse for Angelo and Kenzie to spend time together. Alone. In remote areas. In the sun, sand, and water.

Why do you write for this age group? Do you have a certain mindset when writing for teens?

Well, first, this is the age (middle-schoolish) when kids often lose interest in reading. Let's face it. There's a great deal of competition for kids time and energy out there.So I wanted to write fast-paced, fun reads that could hold their attention and that might actually get into their hands via the gatekeepers. By this I mean, most books for middle schoolers are still being vetted by adults: teachers, parents, mentors, etc. So, I write about topics and an area I feel passionate about--ecology, nature, and the Florida Keys. And I know that there's nothing objectionable about those topics. They're even educational subjects. Yet, I hope when my books are read, the fact that learning is taking place is secondary to readers losing themselves in the story.

And no, I don't have a different mindset when I write. I deeply care about my topics, and I research them carefully through travel and personal experience. My writing actually allows me to further pursue lifelong goals and enrich my life.

Bonnie's book Island Sting is out now, and her next book Stakeout will be published in January 2011. You can visit Bonnie at her website here.

Dana Davis Talks YA vs. Adult Fiction

Dana Davis is a four time award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction. She writes both for adults and young adults. I asked her why, and what she feels the difference is when writing for teens. You can see all of Dana's books here.

Why did you decide to write Young Adult books?

Actually, I began writing science fiction and fantasy for young adults because I wanted to have girls as the main characters. I wanted girls to have the same adventures as boys. And I want my readers to have fun. As a kid, I loved these genres but had difficulty finding books that featured girls, especially in sci-fi. While I have boys and men as important characters in my young adult novels, a girl always has the main role. At least, so far.
In fact, when I was shopping The Mask of Tamirella around, one editor suggested I change the main character Caitlanna to a boy to make the book more marketable. This was when Harry Potter had come onto the scene and everyone seemed to be looking for that type of novel. I declined to make those changes. And I’m very glad I didn’t give up on Caitlanna. I’ve been very lucky to have only positive comments from girls who have read my books. Many adults have picked them up and told me how much fun they had reading.

Do you have a different mindset when writing YA rather than your adult books?

I don’t censure my thoughts and let my muses have free rein, just as I do with my adult novels. But there are things those in the young adult field frown on, like excessive cursing, graphic sex, and too much violence. There is violence in my young adult books, you might see a mild curse word from an older character, and my adolescent girls can and do lust after boys, but I don’t put anything graphic into the books. Sorry kids.

I don’t preach in my writing because I don’t like being preached to. I write for enjoyment and want my readers to read my books to escape whatever might be going on in their lives. Though my main characters have problems, get into heaps of trouble, and don’t always make the best decisions, I want them to learn from their mistakes. I don’t want them to be afraid of asking for help when they need it, though some have more trouble with that than others. Just as in my adult works, I have to like and trust my characters. If I don’t like them, then my readers certainly won’t.

You can visit Dana at her website which is Her publisher is

Bobbie Pyron on Writing Young Adult Books

Bobbie Pyron is a writer and YA author. In her book, The Ring, fifteen-year-old Mardie is trying her best to fit in at high school, with disastrous results. She finally hits rock bottom and her salvation is the boxing ring. I asked Bobbie to share with us why she writes for young adults.

Here's my "musings" on writing for teens and younger kids. My teen novel, The Ring, and my mid-grade novel due out next January (2011) are both stand-alones.

Here's a typical scenario for those of us who write for teens and younger kids encounter frequently: we meet someone for the first time--say at a party or on an airplane--and they ask what we do. We say (with pride and humility):

"I, um, am a writer."

"Oh," the questioner says, thinking you might be more interesting than you look. "What do you write?"

We say, "I write novels for teens and for kids grades four and up."

The person narrows their eyes and says, "Why don't you write real books? You know, like for adults. Are these books you're writing now just for practice?"

After enduring this scenario with the tedious frequency of the poor sap in "Groundhog Day," I've learned to say with pride:

"No, actually. I have no intention of writing for adults. I love writing for kids and teens."

Usually, the questioner doesn't ask why, they just shrug and move along. But you asked so I will tell you why I write for teens and kids: because they're brutally and passionately honest. They are honest with the world and they are honest with their many, many feelings and they are honest readers.

I love the big questions kids and teens are wrestling with in their own lives: who am I? how do I fit in this world? what do I believe in? what is worth fighting for and why shouldn't I ask questions? what is my north star, my passion? I love exploring all these questions with my characters and with my readers.

I have no interest in writing about adulterous husbands or corporate greed or who killed who. I want to write about people who are on that cusp, poised on that point, of staying in that safe cocoon of all they've ever been told about the world and who they are in it, and setting out to break free and explore. And by writing these stories, I get to break free and explore those same questions about myself, too. That's why I write for teens and kids.

Bobbie Pyron is the author of The Ring (Oct. 2009, WestSide Books) and A Dog's Way Home (February, 2011, HarperCollins. You can find out more about her on her website:

Why Do We Read & Write Young Adult Books?

Why do I love Young Adult books? First, I love them because I'm a mom to 15 and 16 year old boys, and a ten year old girl. I've been reading out loud to my kids since they were born. I was determined to pass along my love of books and reading. Forcing a teen to read is like trying to get a toddler to eat peas. You can force it, but they will just spit it out and look at you like you are insane. Instead you provide the example, the material and you let them figure it out on their own. So, my first reason for loving YA books is I find books that my kids might enjoy. An added benefit is that because I've read them we can talk about the books with each other and have some really cool discussions.

The second reason I love YA books is because I like to read books that weren't around when I was a teenager. Back then, I jumped from Encyclopedia Brown and kid friendly mysteries to Willian Blatty...., Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. The only non-horror titles I remember reading were Go Ask Alice, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Flowers for Allgernon. My senior year in high school I discovered Science Fiction. In college I started reading J.R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, Peter S. Beagle and Piers Anthony. Other than Salem's Lot by Stephen King, I don't recall reading any vampire themed fiction until I was in my 40's. I have a lot of ground to make up in the YA world and this month I've made a pretty good dent.

Why do authors write YA books? I really wanted to know, and sent out emails to a few authors asking them this very question.

My first author is Michelle Rowen, who has written two YA books, both in her Demon Princess series. Reign or Shine came out in October 2009 and Reign Check will be released on May 24, 2010. Here is Michelle's response:

Young Adult has always been my favorite genre. It was YA books that inspired me to focus my writing on something I really loved to read (L.J. Smith in the nineties). The first book I finished (as yet unpublished) was a YA about ghosts. What appeals to me is the fact that every piece of fiction out there can be encompassed within this genre -- there are no constraints other than the general age of the characters.

Also I like the idea of exploring characters as they are making the decisions and learning lessons that will take them into adulthood -- like they're "coming of age". That sounds kind of dry, but with adult books, your characters are somewhat "been there done that," but with teen books everything is fresh for them. Teens are rarely closed off, they're willing to jump in with both feet, make mistakes, fall in love for the first time, and have deep issues with friendships and school like what is happening is the end of the world. And sometimes it is. ;-) Also, I like writing YA because I can add in some romance, but the plot doesn't have to depend on it. There can be a lot of other stuff going on. In my romance novels, the romance is the most important thing to keep in mind.

You can visit Michelle at her website: where you can read the first two chapters of each book.

I'll be posting more author's opinions on YA later in the day and tonight.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

YA Sequel to Shiver: Linger

Wolves of Mercy Falls #2
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 20, 2010)

SUMMARY: Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn't cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend. But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it's only me who's not firmly in my own skin.

I won an ARC copy of Linger and decided to read it for my YA Week. Maggie Stiefvater is a new author to me but I had read good things about the first book in this series, Shiver. The book is written in first person POV (point of view) and alternates between four characters, with their name at the top of the chapter or section when it's their point of view. Though this was a little odd, it worked, and I had no trouble following the characters thoughts and actions.

Linger is a paranormal YA novel revolving around werewolves. The two main characters, Sam and Grace, have been through a "cure" which was part of the plot in the first book, Shiver. I found their relationship touching and romantic. Though there are sexual elements they aren't detailed. The book examines their emotions more than a physical relationship.

Cole, a new wolf who seems to have trouble staying in his wolf form, and Isabel, Grace's friend, are emotionally damaged. Cole rarely allows people to see his true self, and instead gives off a cocky, no care vibe. Isabel feels responsible for her brother's death and never truly lets her guard down, even for her closest friends. She's gruff and angry most of the time, though she is a loyal friend to Grace and Sam. She finds herself attracted to Cole, though she knows it's the worst thing she could do.

I found Linger to be an intense, rather difficult read at time. All of the main characters are damaged or dysfunctional in some way, adults and teenagers alike. Grace and Sam were my favorite characters, but even they had trouble being honest with each other in some instances. Difficult is not always bad. I have read many books in which the main characters are working through very difficult experiences. When I was reading Linger though, I felt overwhelmed at the sadness and anger of the characters. Much of the author's writing is descriptive and beautiful, yet the dialog had a tendency to be short and to the point most of the time. It didn't ring true to me that all the characters would be this way. Sam and Cole had been wolves, and yes, their dialog would perhaps be more direct and no nonsense, but would everyone else?

I found myself wondering if the characters would ever find resolution. The circumstances were so horrendous at some points I had to take a break from reading. I said something to my 15 year old son about the book as I was reading it, and he commented "Good books aren't always happy." I realized he is correct. Because I found Linger to be sad and overwhelming does not mean it's a badly written novel. It simply means that I felt the characters were so dysfunctional that it was a hard read for me personally.

I did love the relationship between Grace and Sam. I felt they truly loved each other and that their love was emotionally healing for both of them. After reading about the first book, I really think I would have enjoyed that a bit more than Linger.

Mom Notes: There was one adult in Linger that was supportive, but she was in one small scene with Sam. All other adults in the book were bitter, mean and uncaring. I am not naive and I know parents who are like that, unfortunately. I did notice there were mentions of adult werewolves that cared for Sam in the first book, Shiver, and they appeared to love him and care about him, but they were not present in Linger. There are issues with drugs and sex, but the author does handle it well, and I didn't feel it was over the top. The book's main theme seems to be about the consequences of our choices, which is something we all need to learn. I wish the author had given us a little more humor or perhaps lightness to offset the darkness of the plot.

The author plans to have three books in this series. You can keep up to date with her at these websites and social networks:


Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: Evernight Series by Claudia Gray

Evernight Series, Book 1
Author: Claudia Gray
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

SUMMARY: Bianca has just left the small town where she's spent her whole life. She's a new student at Evernight Academy, a creepily Gothic boarding school where her classmates are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in. Then she meets Lucas, another loner, who seems fiercely determined not to be the "Evernight type." There's a connection between Bianca and Lucas that can't be denied. She would risk anything to be with him—but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart... and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed to be true.

I bought Evernight because I kept hearing about Claudia Gray and her awesome YA vampire series. I found the first one on sale and picked it up last month. I didn't read any reviews or spoilers of the book itself and I am SO glad I waited until I had read the book. The author completely surprised me. I seriously looked around the room and was like "Oh man, I cannot believe I DID NOT see that coming!". She does such a great job giving hints, building suspense,and telling the reader JUST enough, but not too much before all is revealed.

The characters in Evernight are complex. Even the characters that appear to be superficial have things that end up making their personalities deeper than the reader first thinks. I really enjoyed reading Evernight, and will be picking up the other books in the series. The plot has mystery, romance and suspense. The characters have to face issues such as peer pressure, honesty, loyalty, independence, and doing what is right even when it's almost impossible.

Mom's Notes: For me this was an interesting look at parenting because Bianca's parents have taken overprotection to a new level. There is no doubt of their love for her, but they haven't allowed her to grow and learn on her own. My boys are 15 and 16 and we deal with this on a daily basis as they want to do more and we want them to be safe. Evernight dealt with a lot of great issues for teens, and I was really happy with the way the author presented them.

Evernight Series:
1. Evernight (2008)
2. Stargazer (2008)
3. Hourglass (2010)
4. Afterlife (2011)

The anthology Immortal (2008) has the story "Free" which tells the history of Patrice Devereaux, Bianca's friend and roommate in Evernight.

You can find the author at her website and other social networks:
Claudia Gray's Website


A Year in an American High School

a year in an american high school
Author: Elisha Cooper
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Dial (March 13, 2008)

ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool: A Year in an American High School is an interesting, nonfiction YA book. The author sent a copy to me, and I planned on doing a review from a mom's point of view, but something interesting happened. My 15 old son saw the book and asked what it was. I explained and he shrugged, of course. Next thing I know he wants to take it to school and read it. That was great. Then it got even more interesting. My son had it sitting on his desk while he finished up some work and a girl he knew grabbed it and read the first 30 pages. She gave it back and asked if she could borrow it, but apparently there was a waiting list. Another friend on the bus had already called dibs on the book. Wow, this was weird. Teenagers not only wanted to read a non-fiction book without being asked, but they are calling dibs on it. I'm thinking Mr. Cooper will love hearing about this phenomenon:)

The book follows six seniors and two juniors through the entire school year and tells their stories. The language does get rough at times, there are a few awkward guy/girl moments plus drinking and drug use. It's for mature 14 year olds or kids 15 and up. My son talked to me alot about the book as he read it and afterwards. The students in the book don't attend a public high school like he does, it's a prep school, but my son said that didn't really bother him. They were interested in things that all teens are: sports, drama, college, relationships, and family. He was really glad that the author included an epilogue at the end so he could find out what happened with each kid afterwards.

I know it's hard to let our teens read about things that are awkward like sex and drugs, but all they have to do is pick up a newspaper or watch the news to get a hard dose of reality. We can't protect them forever, so I think it's better to PREPARE them. Sitting them down out of the blue and saying "Hey, let's talk about drugs." is often an awkward and one-sided conversation. Reading a book together and chatting about the kids in it, is MUCH more relaxed and interesting for our kids.

You can visit Elisha Cooper's website here and the book can be ordered there too. ridiculous/hilarious/terrible/cool would make a great gift for any teen in your life. I'm really glad that my son and I read it and had such cool discussions. I think you will be too.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The World of Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely
by Melissa Marr
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins

Summary: Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything. Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21st century faery tale

I picked up Wicked Lovely last week, partly to read for my YA Week, but also because I've been wanting to read Melissa Marr's writing for a long time and just hadn't gotten the chance. Her book did not disappoint. It's creative, eerie, romantic, suspenseful and kept me on edge right up until the end of the story. The only character I was truly convinced was being truthful was Aislinn, or Ash as her friends call her. She is a haunting young woman who has been able to observe the fae her entire life, but was warned there were three rules she must abide by at all times:

1. Don't ever attract their attention.
2. Don't speak to invisible faeries.
3. Don't stare at invisible faeries.

Ash is a strong character, but at the same time she is young and inexperienced. Suddenly the rules she's been taught by her grandmother throughout her life are no longer holding true. She has never told anyone else that she can see the fae. She needs a friend to confide in as things change and overwhelm her. Seth, her best friend, wants more than friendship, the fae want her as well, and her grandmother wants to hide Ash until it all goes away. I loved Wicked Lovely for many reasons, including the characters, the writing, and the plot, which kept me guessing and moving forward at a quick pace just to see what would happen next.

It was really refreshing to read a YA novel without vampires for a change. Don't get me wrong, I love to read vampire fiction, but it's also nice to find a book with a unique fantasy world. Melissa Marr has created an unseen world of the fae, who can be beautiful but deadly. Appearances are almost always deceiving, and manipulation is a way of life. I don't want to give any more information about the plot because it's best to read it with no spoilers.

Mom Notes: Wicked Lovely is a mature YA Novel with mentions of drugs, drinking, sex and swearing. I would say it's for age 16 and older because of the mature themes. I thought the topic of sex was handled very well. Ash is a virgin, and her attitude and that of her boyfriend is a good one. It's realistically handled, written as I remember feeling as a teenager, which is confused, and wanting to go farther but not wanting to make a mistake. Ash's boyfriend is experienced, and lives alone, which will be uncomfortable for some parents, but I know the situation is not an uncommon one. I always recommend that parents read books along with their kids (before or after they do) so they can discuss it with them. I do this with my 16 year old son quite often.

Harper Collins has released a free electronic edition of Wicked Lovely with bonus materials. On this page you can download that, plus a two part story in the Wicked Lovely world.

Wicked Lovely Series
1. Wicked Lovely (2007)
2. Ink Exchange (2008)
3. Fragile Eternity (2009)
4. Radiant Shadows (2010)
5. Stopping Time, Part 1 & 2 (ebooks)

You can visit Melissa Marr on her website, her blog and on Twitter:
-Twitter Account


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods
Book 1
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book
Available at Indie Bound, Powell's Books, Barnes & Noble.

SUMMARY: Schuyler Van Alen has never fit in at Duchesne, her prestigious New York City private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapidated mansion. Schuyler is a loner-and happy that way. But when she turns fifteen, Schuyler's life changes dramatically. She has a mosaic of blue veins on her arms, and craves raw meat. The death of a popular girl from Duchesne is surrounded by a mystery that haunts her. And strangest off all, Jack Force, the most popular boy in school, is showing a sudden interest in her.

I picked up Blue Bloods because I had heard so much about the series and wanted to give it a try. It did take me awhile to decide to read it because it takes place at a private school where the students are extremely wealthy and live for designer clothing and the New York social scene. This is so hard for me to relate to since I grew up on a farm in a small rural community. However, within the first three pages I relaxed, as the main character, Schulyer, is described as chipping at her black nail polish, and wearing duct-taped sneakers. She buys true thrift store finds, not expensive clothing made to look aged. I like that Schulyer is her own person, despite the constant temptation to give into her peers and join the "in crowd". Not that she is isn't tempted. Blue Bloods is a slightly more mature read than some YA novels I've reviewed this week. I would say 16 and up, maybe 15 for mature kids. It will appeal to girls more than it will boys, though it isn't overly sappy as far as the romance goes.

The author's blurb in the back of the book states that she has written for Glamour, Marie Claire and other fashion magazines, as well as appearing on television as a fashion expert. This comes across in Blue Bloods in the descriptions of the clothing, shoes and the modeling scenes in the book. However, the fashion doesn't take over the plot, which has some good twists and turns. As I was reading the first few chapters I thought I knew what was coming, but I was surprised at several turns in the plot. It had the signs of a first book in a series where I could tell nothing would be wrapped up by the end, but it was a good read and ended in a spot that didn't have a horrendous cliff hanger, like some series tend to do.

I enjoyed Blue Bloods, and thought the concept of vampires coming to America on the Mayflower original and fascinating. The author provides pages of a diary throughout the book from a young woman who sailed with the ship and the pieces fall together for the reader as the end of the book nears.

Mom Notes: The sexual elements in the book aren't too detailed, but they are present, including a scene where one couple undresses to have sex but are interrupted. Another female character in the book is especially fond of young men, and "feeding". As I said before, the book is a little mature for younger teens. I thought that over all, Blue Bloods was a good read for older teens as far as lessons in learning to be yourself, not giving in to peer pressure and standing up for what is right.

You can learn more about the author and the books on her website:

The series includes:
1. Blue Bloods (2006)
2. Masquerade (2007)
3. Revelations (2008)
4. The Van Alen Legacy (2009)
5. Misguided Angel (2010)
6. Bloody Valentine (2011)
Keys to the Repository (2010)


We Interrupt YA Week for a Winner!

The winner of our drawing for The River Kings' Road, A Novel of Ithelas by Liane Merciel is:

Kelsey...who said:
Medieval and fantasy: two great combinations! This book sounds GOOD.

Visit Kelsey at

We will now continue with our YA goodness...


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bite Me! YA Interview and Review

Bite Me!
Author: Melissa Francis
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Available at Indie Bound, Powells, Barnes & Noble.

SUMMARY: AJ Ashe isn’t your typical seventeen-year-old vampire—as if there is such a thing. Her ex-boyfriend—whom she’s still totally in love with—is now her stepbrother. A former classmate—who, um, she may or may not have turned into a vampire—is stalking her. And now, apparently, the fate of humankind lies in her little undead hands. Whatever happened to the good old days when all a vampire girl had to worry about was the occasional zit and hiding her taste for blood?

I bought Bite Me! on sale and was intrigued by the cover and the description, though I hadn't read anything about the author or the book previously. I really enjoyed the plot, the characters and the writing style. The main character A.J. is 17 and we learn in the first sentence that her mom is getting married. She likes the man who will be her stepfather, she loves her mom and she wants her mom to be happy. So what is the problem? She's been dating her brother-to-be for months and now they have to break it off. It's the right thing to do, but it's breaking A.J.s heart. Plus, their new blended family doesn't know everything about one another which makes it even more stressful. A.J., her mom and her sisters are vampires, and they can't tell anyone. Can you imagine?

I loved the main characters in Bite Me!, and the plot twists which kept me guessing. Who should A.J. trust? The reader isn't really sure until the end of the book reveals all. I thought the author captured the teen angst that makes high school a roller coaster of emotions. A.J. deals with issues such as jealousy, loyalty, friendship, love and fear. She learns that her actions have consequences, something that all of us deal with sooner or later.

Bite Me! has humor, action and romance. It's a fast, fun read for ages 14 or 15 and older. There are sexual situations, but no sex. I thought it was handled well by the author.

Mom notes: I loved the main character's mom, and their relationship. When A.J. was upset she ran straight to her mom, who as a vampire, wouldn't judge her and knew how to help her. A.J.s mom MADE the time to help, even at work. The issues A.J. has with a teacher and the consequences of NOT telling anyone about it were something that has happened to many kids, and unfortunately doesn't always have a good ending. It's an important lesson for kids to learn.

Melissa graciously answered my nosey questions, so I could share them with you during YA Week. Don't forget that every comment this week enters you for a chance to win Bite Me! and four other YA books.

I loved your book, especially A.J 's mother and their relationship. Why did you decide to make them so close, and not give them a "typical" teen/parents relationship?

Honestly, I hated the relationship I had with my mom growing up. No trust, always combative, etc. I don't have that relationship with my teens and decided that I can't be alone. So I put a lot of 'us' into the book.

Did you find writing YA different from writing adult fiction? Did you find yourself thinking about what you wanted teens to take away from your book?

YA isn't that different to me except the angst and melodrama is elevated a bit more. (because honestly, teens are nothing if not dramatic! LOL) I want kids to read, get lost in the story, imagine themselves as the main character, and come away satisfied. I want girls to understand that they are strong and wanted them to read a story about a heroine who, even though is very flawed and made lots of mistakes, was also strong enough to know she could rescue herself.

How the heck did you come up with the idea of a boy and girl who were dating finding out they were going to be brother and sister with almost no warning after dating so long?

Well, I always thought that could happen in real life and one day I just started really playing with the idea. And the more I thought of it, the more intrigued by it I became. How devastating would that be if you were a teen and in love for the first time? And wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am I had a story!

Thanks Mel:) Love Sucks! , Mel's next book, will be released on July 27, 2010. Be on the lookout for it this summer!

-You can visit Mel at her website here:

-Download cell phone wallpapers in Bite Me! themes here:



Monday, April 5, 2010

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

Eleventh Grade Burns
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
Author: Heather Brewer
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Summary: Things have taken a darker turn for the half-human teenager with an appetite for blood. Joss, a vampire slayer and Vlad’s former friend, has moved back to Bathory. A mysterious and powerful new vampire, Dorian, appears with a shocking secret and an overwhelming desire to drink Vlad’s blood. And Vlad’s arch enemy, D’Ablo, has a sinister plan to eliminate Vlad once and for all. With death threatening from every angle, Vlad will have to use every ounce of his skill and training to survive, but nothing can prepare him for what awaits him in the end.

I won Eleventh Grade Burns from Steph at in one of her contests where I was allowed to choose YA books.

I've been wanting to read Heather Brewer's books for awhile now, but with such a huge To Be Read shelf, and blog tours coming up I had put it off a bit. When I won Eleventh Grade Burns I decided to read it for my YA Week. What did I think of Vlad and his world? I loved it, both as a mom and a reader.

The author did a great job dropping in past events so I had no problem understanding what was happening in the book. Vlad is a teenage vampire who's entering his junior year of high school. Instead of worrying about AP classes and ACT or SAT tests, he's trying to keep his family together, protect his friends and keep himself alive. I loved how the author kept Vlad down to earth, and slipped in things that would concern any 16 year old. He may be able to read minds but he's the only one without a car, at least among his friends. He has super speed, but that isn't going to help him pass his trigonometry test. Vlad's having trouble figuring out his feelings for two different girls. His best friend wants to kill him, but he still wants to hang with him. I have two teenage sons, 15 and 16 years old, and I know how teenagers think and feel. The author hit the nail on the head when it comes to the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.

Eleventh Grade Burns isn't a romance, though there are issues with girls and guys. It would be a great read for boys or girls from ages 13 teen and up, possibly younger depending on maturity and reading level. It has action, suspense, twists and turns but it also has drama and humor that keeps it from being too dark of a read. The author does a great job of being hip with out going over the top.

Mom Notes: The author scored big with me as a mom. The adults weren't idiots, but they weren't perfect either. They cared for their kids, and admitted when they made mistakes. There weren't any sex scenes but there was teen romance. One situation brought up the issue of making out just to make out, instead of caring about the person and getting to know them. There was violence because it's a book about vampires, but it wasn't horrendous or over the top. The idea that there are always consequences to our actions was there as well.

Eleventh Grade Burns is the fourth book in Vlad's series. The fifth book is coming out in September 2010 as well. I love all the covers, especially this last one that shows Vlad's face.

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod
1. Eighth Grade Bites (2007)
2. Ninth Grade Slays (2008)
3. Tenth Grade Bleeds (2009)
4. Eleventh Grade Burns (2010)
5. Twelfth Grade Kills (2010)

You can find out more about Vlad and his series at Heather Brewer's website here:

Heather is on Twitter here.

Vlad also has his own website: