Monday, May 31, 2010

Blog Tour + Contest: Jennifer Sturman

Here today to promote her upcoming new release And Then I Found Out The Truth is Jennifer Sturman. This is a follow up to the lively, entertaining And Then Everything Unraveled which is hitting paperback soon. Check out after the interview for your chance to win a copy of both these great books!

If you could pair Delia with any character from any book (romantically or otherwise, your choice), what would be your pick?

I LOVE this question! Delia deserves the very best, and not a lot of guys can live up to that, fictional or otherwise. She also refuses to go out with vampires, werewolves, or anyone at all who isn’t entirely human or alive, so that sort of limits her fictional options these days.

My inspiration for Unraveled was Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame, and I think for Delia I’d have to go shopping in another of his books, The Joyous Season. Its hero, Kerry, is only 10, so we’d need to age him up a bit, but the raw material for a smart, kind, and wickedly funny guy is definitely there.

What is your favorite part about writing mysteries?

I love puzzles, and mysteries are puzzles. As a writer, there’s something very
satisfying about hiding the pieces of a puzzle within a book and watching my characters fit them together.

There’s also a very pra
ctical advantage to writing mysteries, in that they provide a built-in plot. There’s a disappearance or a crime or a murder that has to be solved, so you already have the basic skeleton of the book – you just need to bring it all to life.

What is the most fearless thing you've done to date?

I’m a total wuss. I’ve never been skydiving or anything like that (though I once went indoor skydiving – does that count?). In a way, writing requires a certain fearlessness, or to spin it a bit differently, putting your words out there for anyone to read can leave you feeling incredibly vulnerable. There’s a quote from Edna St. Vincent Millay that pretty much sums it up: "A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down."

If you could step into someone's shoes for a day, who's life would you like to experience?

I’d love to have a fabulous singing voice. It would be amazing simply to open your mouth and have wonderful sound come out, and the benefits are so much greater than just not offending yourself in the shower. If people enjoy listening to you, you’re making their lives better, and it can also give you the means to be majorly philanthropic (like Shakira’s doing in Colombia, for example) and otherwise be a force for good. Failing that, I’d like to be the person who reviews gelato stands in Italy.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Snickerdoodle. Not for any real reason – I just like the name!

Thank you Jennifer for the great answers and congrats on the release of both books!

ant your chance to win a paperback copy of And Then Everything Unraveled and a hardback copy of the upcoming And Then I Found Out The Truth? Fill out this form by July 10. US/Canada addresses only.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Author Interview + Contest: Holly Schindler

To celebrate her debut release A Blue So Dark, I had the privilege of asking Holly Schindler two questions- both of which she gave great answers to! Interested in this book? See below for your chance to win your very own signed copy!

Book Summary: Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

What was the process like for you in regards to the schizophrenic aspect of this book, from research to knowing the behaviors?

I don’t have any personal experience with schizophrenia, so I did have to do some preliminary research. I read everything I possibly could on the subject—including some nonfiction material I found in the YA section of my local library. I figured, if I was writing FOR teens, it was important to find out how the illness had been described and presented to a teen audience in a factual way.

But I wasn’t writing nonfiction—and I think you ride a really fine line, with research, of sounding TOO technical. So my goal was to absorb everything I could—behaviors, symptoms, treatments—and just put it all away. Let my characters and plot—all the elements of FICTION—drive the book, so that it wouldn’t sound like a factual account of a mental illness.

…Before I even got the general idea for A BLUE SO DARK, though, I had to do another kind of research…I had to explore the intricacies of the teen voice.

The thing is, I’d really only been focusing on material for adults when I started teaching piano and guitar lessons out of my home to help pay some bills. As I started to get to know my students, I was absolutely shocked at how…well, FAMILIAR they all seemed. They sounded so much like the kids I remembered going to school with…

So I dug out all my old papers, journals, notebooks—I poured through everything I could find that I’d written when I was a teenager. Once I’d reconnected with that teen voice, I knew I had to try my hand at YA…

At that point, I began to brainstorm topics. Over the course of a few weeks, I assembled all the biggie pieces (the conflicts and main characters) in A BLUE SO DARK…THAT’S when I started digging into research materials regarding schizophrenia…

A large part of the premise of this book is Aura hiding the truth about her mother’s mental state. Have you had a time where you had to keep a huge secret from everyone, even at the expense of yourself?

The short answer is—well. Ahem. No.

But the longer answer is—well. Kind of. I mean, when I got my master’s degree, everybody else I went to school with was moving on to either PhD work or an actual full-time job.

Me? I decided to chuck the whole full-time-job route in order to pursue my lifelong dream: being a writer. (This was only possible because I had some INCREDIBLE financial support from my family.) But when I TOLD everyone that was what I was doing? They kind of looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. And after a few unpublished years, that look EXPLODED.

I suppose, though, that anybody who DOESN’T write really doesn’t have any idea what hard work it is. I mean, I was putting in FAR longer days than I would have if I HAD gone after a 9-5 job. Wasn’t making any money at it, and I hadn’t gotten a single “yes” from a publishing house—nothing to show for my efforts. Yet. So after a while, when people asked what I was doing, I’d say, “I teach music lessons,” which was just what I was doing to pay the bills. My primary goal, my primary love was my writing. It was just easier not to have to deal with the YOU HAVE FLIPPED YOUR LID looks.

The hardest part of the whole thing was having to endure how much time it took to get to that first acceptance…and this is where I AM like Aura: In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura doesn’t really feel like she has much of a choice but to continue to care for her mother as best she can. I didn’t really feel like I had much of a choice in my situation, either. No matter how long the years were getting, I didn’t feel like writing was EVER something I could just walk away from. In fact, the longer it took, the more determined I was to get to that first publication. I can be incredibly, maddeningly stubborn. But I think every writer has to be, to some extent…

I just can’t say it enough: writing is INCREDIBLY hard work. And I’m not just talking about the struggle to put the right word on a page. Yes, writing a novel takes some blood and sweat. But the REJECTION is also hard. The WAITING is hard. And once your book is published, allowing your baby out into the world to let the world just say and do what it wants with it is may

Thank you Holly for those fantastic answers!

Fill out this form for your chance to win a signed copy of A Blue So Dark. Contest is US mailing addresses only and will run through Sunday, June 20.

Friday, May 28, 2010

In My Mailbox

I had a really good book week again which definitely makes me happy. I admit- I can't wait to see all the IMM posts going up with the BEA'ers hauls. So many exciting books to add to my list!

From Kiersten White, Signed (SO Happy about this one! Already half way through and yes, it's as amazing so far as it sounds!)

For Review:
Endless Summer by Jennifer EcholsS
tranded by J.T. Dutton
The Necromancer (Nicholas Flamel #4) by Michael Scott
Dido by Adele Geras
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Homecoming by Jason Garrett
Fatal Gamble by JP O'Donnell
Deadly Codes by JP O'Donnell
A Note From an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker
Zan-Gah: A Prehistory Adventure by A.R. Shickman
Zan-Gah And The Beautiful Country by A.R. Shickman
(Thank you to Jennifer Echols, J.T. Dutton, Amazon, Random House UK, Harper Collins, Yorkshire Publishing, JP O'Donnell, Bill Walker and Earthshaker Books for these review titles)

Won from Pirate Penguin Reads:
This very awesome 3 shelf glass bookcase from CSN Store
(Dog and books not included in prize)

That was my week around here. Surprisingly busy and very productive for me reading wise. I am definitely happy with it! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Summer Reading Recommendations

With summer coming up, and therefore a large number of bloggers having a sudden boost in reading time, I figured it would be a great time to showcase some books I personally recommend. I'll be posting a few titles a week I recommend, and at least at first I will try to lump them by genres until it gets into the ones that are hard to place or I simply want to keep
going. This week's focus is dystopian.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien: Set in the future after a devastating climate change, Birthmarked sets up a distant but very realistic world. The growth and development of the entire world created is phenomenal, touching into science without going overboard and holding an intriguing and well paced plot. Even for those who often find themselves unable to get into a dystopian novel, Birthmarked holds a certain finesse and appeal.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
: A creative set up with colorful characters, The Maze Runner has a way of pulling a reader in from the start. Bold, vivid writing slips the reader into the book, keeping them on scene at all times. Clues placed throughout the book will keep the reader's mind turning.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: Book 1 in the Chaos Walking series, followed by the already released The Ask and The Answer and the upcoming Monsters of Men, TKONLG is a very stylistic and engaging read. With a fantastic dialect and playing very significantly on plenty of real events in world history, this book is great way to spend the summer hours. I'd recommend having book 2 in hand, as TKONLG ends up a jaw dropping cliff hanger. The Ask and The Answer further builds the world already set up in TKNOLG and the character development as well as events are astounding.

Though these are all relatively recent titles, not every post will be only new. Some will spotlight older books so make sure you don't miss them! Check back next Thursday (the day this was supposed to go up but things happen sometimes) for some more recommendations!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristin Tracy


When best friends Dessy and Veronica arrive in Prague for a prestigious writing workshop, their priorities diverge. Dessy, fragile from a recent breakup, has come to mend her broken heart by honing her craft. Veronica has just dumped her boyfriend and plans to blow off the workshop. She’d rather master a different subject—boys. Veronica gets right to work on her “man-wall”— one paper cutout for every hot-dude she meets— and embarks on her mission to cover a wall of their dorm by summer’s end. At times, Dessy thinks her friend might be a genius. At others, Veronica seems more like an agent of chaos. As if their love lives weren’t complicated enough, soon a homicidal suitemate is bent on killing Veronica and Dessy, and both girls are hiding secrets that could wreck their friendship. Well, no one ever said breaking hearts was a simple craft....


Filled with outrageous, hilarious situations, sprightly and quirky characters, and a new setting, Field Guide for Heartbreakers is a cute, lively read. Two invigorating and vastly different main characters help add to the hilarity and endearment of this book. Stylistic writing and talented mindset help tie everything together.

Dessy is practiced and logical, not one to immediately throw caution to the wind. Still hung up on her ex and fault focused, she is a mix of damaged and naïve. She is a well designed character, her quirks, attributes and flaws coming across strongly. She complements Veronica and though she finds herself in some awkward and obnoxious situations on account of her friend, she is, in the end, a great friend. She starts out strongly developed but grows further and the way Tracy plays this out adds spark into the book. Both through her interactions with Veronica and her classmates in Prague as well as her analysis of both her own writing and others in her class help brings things together.

Veronica is rambunctious, boy crazy, blunt and apt to do stupid things. She is overdramatic and exaggerates yet through Dessy’s eyes, the reader can understand the affection and appreciation. As with Dessy, Veronica starts out with much of her personality exposed but she grows and changes as the book progresses. Despite this, she still holds many of the same quirks including her penchant for using euphemisms and sayings wrong. The banter between her and Dessy is engaging and amusing, cropping up at unexpected moments.

The "hot dudes" the girls meet and go after make up a large part of the characters, coming in a variety of personalities. Some are in their same program- college guys- while others are locals or visiting the area. The way they handle the situations is vastly different and even when things heat up and turn dramatic, the way they care for each other remains the same.

The plot is a tangle of love and betrayal and the addition of Corky, their roommate bent on tormenting and maybe killing them, adds another level. As things heat up, the reader is forced to choose which friend their feelings most relate to. Tracy handles this area beautifully, not forcing the reader to side with Dessy simply because it’s in her perspective. Dessy’s emotions come through the pages to the reader but so do Veronica’s. Their interactions with males is comical but the desire for love and attention is palpable. Much of their driving forces are understandable, lurking even in the simplest of places.

Rapt with Prague culture and scenery, the setting alone is a fantastic element of the story. The descriptions are beautiful and the reader can get a sense of being there with each place the girls visit. In character narrative, spunk and manner of speaking help bring this book to life as well, from the “hot dudes” to the many other adjunct words and phrases thrown in. Tracy ’s writing style is a bold one, exceeding the usual boundaries and spurring the life into her characters.

A fantastic take on a love based premise, a unique setting and colorful characters meld together to make Field Guide for Heartbreakers a fantastic, fun read. The plot is paced steadily with plenty of comedy to break up the emotion and keep the reader from growing bored. The writing class adds another element as its writing within a book, rather than art or photography that seems to crop up often in novels. Tracy tests her limits and handles it beautifully in execution.

Source: ARC received free of charge in from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423127188
ISBN-13: 978-1423127185

Author's Website

What Others Are Saying:
Chick Loves Lit
Cleverly Inked

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart, set to hit shelves August 24 from Egmont.

Could any two sisters be more tightly bound together than the twins, Katherine and Anna? Yet love and fate intervene to tear them apart. Katherine's guilt and sense of betrayal leaves her longing for death, until a surprise encounter and another near catastrophe rescue her from a tragic end. Set against the magical kaleidoscope of the Philadelphia Centennial fair of 1876, National Book Award nominee Beth Kephart's book conjures the sweep and scope of a moment in history in which the glowing future of a nation is on display to the disillusioned gaze of a girl who has determined that she no longer has a future. The tale is a pulse by pulse portrait of a young heroine's crisis of faith and salvation in the face of unbearable loss.

My Thoughts:
The simple cover is definitely intriguing- beautiful and automatically invokes positive thoughts until the title is noticed. The historic setting holds promise to add a unique element and the premise hints at dark elements while still keeping much of it hidden, automatically sparking plenty of questions about the book. I definitely want to know what the event was to tear the twins apart, what happened to Anna and what will happen to Katherine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: The Naughty List by Suzanne Young


As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List
. Is your boyfriend on it?


Flirty and fun, The Naughty List is an entertaining read but holds plenty of drama and emotion. Young does an incredible job blending the various aspects of this book, investing the reader in the plot line early on. From the start, the reader is smoothly eased into the set up, falling into a well paced plot and wanting to know how things will play out.

Tess is a very lively character, full of pep and unique euphemisms. Though she’s head cheerleader and certainly has her vanity and ditz type of moments, she is an intelligent, strong willed character. She has a very interesting outlook on life and Young does a fantastic job bringing this character to life. As with any good character, Tess holds her own flaws and as the story progresses, she finds certain aspects of her life falling more out of control. Her story is an engaging one, pulling the reader on the same emotional roller coaster she experiences and though there is certainly a “stereotypical” couple set up, this book is anything but cliché and mundane. She is easy to like for any reader, no matter what their high school experience had been like. Though she may be popular, she is far from cruel and holds herself to very high standards in her appearance, behaviors and treatment of others.

Aiden is Tess’ boyfriend and the captain of the basketball team. They are the perfect couple, having a long two year relationship under their belts. Lust and love are intermixed for them, playing off smoothly for their situation. Tess has her boyfriend and perfect social life, but hidden beneath it is her SOS related activities. Aiden is attractive and certainly horny but he is very caring and sweet- and, despite being a jock, he has a brain! Once again, Young casts a perfect blend between stereotypical jock and realistic character holding his own ability to think and experience a range of emotions. Aiden is a very likable character because of how well developed he is and many of the scenes with him and Tess are cute, fun and enjoyable.

Christian is another very well built character, shifting between being likable and irritating. His motivations are not easily discernible as his actions switch often, helping build mystery with the book. He is attractive with a good sense of humor but holds darker qualities, making both Tess and the reader question him. He is a vital part of the plot and an intriguing addition in general and despite some of his actions, Young still pitches him in a way to garner at least some sympathy from readers.

Although her parents are not constantly around due to their musical jobs and therefore many late nights at gigs, they trust Tess- a trust she has earned. Tess’ relationship with her parents is refreshingly open apart from her secret regarding SOS. It is their late nights that allow her to sneak around and spy on potential cheaters but the reader never gets the sense her parents neglect her. This is a strong feature of the book for me, and despite their late nights and travel, it is clear how much Tess’ parents care for her and how active they are in her life.

The plot is amusing, propelled easily by Young’s strong writing and her innate ability to possess a very vivid YA voice. Tess’ mentality comes through easily, with everything sliding along smoothly on the pages, even when her comments are airheaded or shallow. Although some aspects of the plot were predictable, it’s to be expected with the story line and premise- and with the way Young chose to play things out. Although obviously and necessarily extreme in how many cheaters these girls found in their school, the number of cheaters and cases explored made for a great plot set up and the case reports were fantastic additions. The entire operation was well thought out and executed and it brought a certain spark to the book as a whole.

With some incredibly intense and emotional scenes to break up the flirty, overall fun nature of this story, The Naughty List is a fantastic read. Tess and Aiden’s relationship is a beautifully played out one, holding all the truth of teenage love and showing how two teens can be in a long relationship. Even when things start being turned upside down, Young continues to hold a teenage state of mind and responses. Everything leads up to a very fantastic ending, leaving the book open for the sequel but providing plenty of closure for the events of The Naughty List.

Source: Signed copy received from author as part of a prize pack
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (February 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595142789
ISBN-13: 978-1595142788

Author's Website

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

This week's teaser comes from Abra Ebner's Knight Angels: Book of Love.

"The whispers in my head began to silence and I could no longer hear Alexis' thoughts. I looked to the ground, finally feeling relaxed for the first time today. Finally, I felt normal." -- pg 34

When seventeen-year-old Jane Taylor witnessed her father's death, something happened to her. Ever since, her thoughts have been consumed by death, going so far as to foresee the ever-changing deaths of those around her. Sixteen-year-old Emily Taylor resented her sister's closeness with their father, who died when she was six. With the strange ability to read minds, she drowns the voices out with drugs, sending Jane over the edge. When seventeen-year-old Wes Green was adopted, he moved in next door to Jane, finding in her a childhood friend turned high-school crush. All summer, the pain in his bones seemed unwarranted. He was done growing long ago. When senior year starts, however, the pain only gets worse. The foreseen changes are not expected, and far too animal for his taste. When Max Gordon found himself standing above the dying body of an innocent seven-year-old girl, he saw in her eyes something he hadn't seen in the century he'd spent roaming Earth. Her father was already dead, but there was hope to save her. Jane was her name, and already she was all he ever wanted. It was his job to bring her back, and it was his job to protect her - the biggest mistake of his life. When these four teens enter Glenwood High their senior year, no one but Max could understand the future ahead of them. Drawn together by blood and friendship, they each hide a dark secret that will soon bind them together. Max has to protect Jane, Jane wants to be normal, Wes wants Jane to love him, and Emily just wants the voices to stop... But their fate just wants them dead.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Author Interview: Peter Abrahams

Here today to promote his recent release Bullet Point is Peter Abrahams! Bullet Point is in stores now- be sure to pick it up soon.

Both Wyatt and Greer have a father in prison-did you do any research for the inmate aspect of this book?

I've done prison visits for research several times: my books Lights Out (an Edgar best novel nominee in 1995), End of Story and Delusion, as well as Bullet Point, all have prison elements. (And speaking of the Edgar, Reality Check won best YA 2010.)

Wyatt finds himself in a tumultuous relationship with Greer, in part due to her being 3 years older. What factored into developing things in this manner?

Greer just popped into the story and sort of took over, but of course a 16-year-old boy finds himself on another planet with a young woman like that. Who to believe, and how to ever be sure: those are important questions in the book.

The writing style used for Bullet Point is unique, taking on a third person perspective while still giving more of a first person type narrative. What made you decide to write it in this way and dialect?

Very glad you asked. That's a good description of the ultra-close third person narration I've used just about my entire career (except for the Chet and Bernie novels, written in first person under my pen name, Spencer Quinn). I love the perspective - you can pull off all kinds of neat effects, and it's just so immediate. I don't think there are many other practitioners.

If you could pair Wyatt up with any character from any book (romantically or otherwise, your pick), what would be your pick?

For his own sake, some fictional good father would be nice; but then there'd be no story.

What is the most fearless thing you've done to date?

Making the decision to be a writer, and damn the torpedoes.

If you could step into anyone's shoes for a do, who's life would you want to experience?

Some great musician, like Django Reinhardt.

Thank you Peter for answering some questions and congratulations on another fantastic release!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In My Mailbox

This was a great book week for me! I'm very excited about all of them!

From Suzanne Young (Signed!)
The Naughty List
So Many Boys

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Forget You by Jennifer Echols


There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.

But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.


Emotional and expressive, Forget You is another intricately weaved romance from Jennifer Echols. Starting with a simple premise, Echols builds an engaging story that will pull readers through a range of feelings. Although the question of what happened in the time frame Zoey cannot remember is carried throughout the book, Echols adds other elements to keep both mystery and enjoyment high.

Zoey is a mildly annoying character, the girl who sleeps with a guy and though he’s a playboy, she is sure things are different now. Despite this aspect, Zoey is still a strong, well developed character who holds a perfect blend of maturity and naivety. Her interactions with her dad are heartbreaking and infuriating and much of her actions- including the ones to dub her as annoying- are understandable. She is not a shallow person nor does she lack morals- despite her actions with Brandon. As she continues to investigate the events leading up to the car crash, Zoey encounters both entertaining and surprising events. Echols has done a fantastic job writing an amnesiac character, allowing things to slowly settle back into character and compounding it further by Zoey’s determination to keep the full extent of her amnesia a secret.

Doug, despite his past, his temper and the intrusiveness with which he suddenly asserts himself into Zoey’s life, is an adorable, heartfelt guy. The reader will experience a range of emotions towards this boy, some in response to Zoey and others in response to Echols’ beautiful writing and innate ability to profoundly develop her characters. The descriptions used to describe both Doug and many scenes he’s in is striking, painting a picture any reader can imagine vividly.

Echols makes nothing simple for either character, their battles firing instantly and often cooling just as rapidly. The push and tug of his relationship with Zoey is the epitome is teenage romance, with Zoey not falling instantaneously for the bad boy character but also not turning her nose up at him. Their story is a memorable one with the reader wondering the entire time if they really will end up together.

The pace of the plot moves steadily, considering the premise. Watching Doug and Zoey grow is a large part of this book but Echols leaves little time for boredom despite the magnificent character development- development which does take time. Echols shies away from nothing, including an arrange of teenage hormones, lust and emotion throughout the book in various ways but still writing in a way that will appeal to a wide range of audience ages.

Certainly a book to be read again and placed at the top of the favorites shelf, Forget You is a breathtaking ride into the world of teenage love and a perfect summer romance. Typical to a hallmark I associate with Jennifer Echols, Forget You holds very strong, memorable, and flawed characters along with an elaborate plot and several twists to keep the reader engaged. Complacency is not a part of Echols’ books, rendering Forget You, along with her first romantic drama Going Too Far, must reads.

Source: ARC received from author free of charge for review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: MTV; Original edition (July 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439178232
ISBN-13: 978-1439178232

Author's Website

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead


Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong...

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir's-and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can't wait for their real lives beyond the Academy's iron gates to begin. But Rose's heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. And this time he won't rest until Rose joins him... forever.


*Note: This review IS spoiler free for the series*

Beginning not long after Blood Promise closes, Spirit Bound follows suit with the other books and wastes little time catching the reader back up. The action begins immediately with only a line added here and there to trigger memories of what's happened before. With the big cliffhanger Blood Promise left readers on, Spirit Bound charges forward to face both those issues as well as a new array of events Mead has incorporated.

Rose is still the same fierce, determined girl we've watched throughout the series although how she has matured across the books remains clear. Not a full personality change, but her overall way of thinking has shifted in accordance with the events she's faced and is very noticeable and well played out in Spirit Bound. This strengthens further throughout the book and with Mead's strong ability to write emotional scenes, the reader experiences everything Rose does. Her sarcasm and banter add relief and entertainment, even in painful or action packed scenes. Her interactions with Lissa return in this book, showing again how closely connected these two are- and not only for their bond.

Lissa's character, I felt, grew tremendously during this installment. I found myself appreciation her far more than I had in the past and she now makes an even better counterpart to Rose. She develops her own intense determination and though she makes some shocking choices of her own, Lissa still remains a character most readers will relate to. Weak in many ways, it is understandable given her breeding and status and Mead continues to pull that through to the reader in a way that will negate most condescending feelings towards her.

Adrian is still absolutely swoon-worthy, a sardonic playboy who holds the ability to love intensely. He holds his own spark and passion and his interactions with Rose are a shining portion of the book. We get to see some new sides of Adrian in this book, showing the full scope of his character, also adding new elements to the plot as a whole.

Dimitri, of course, continues to play a role in this book, creating a large amount of friction throughout. His character is one of the best played out ones in the entire series. Mead does a wonderful job handling him in various situations, adding a few new layers and complications.

This plot is as stunning as those before it and though a few parts were predictable, Mead laid the groundwork for them in previous books. The entire book, however, is far from predictable and Mead has once again thrown a major, shocking curveball at her readers to change the game yet again. The ease in which Mead weaves the entire story is astounding as she ties off some story lines, continues others and even reignites some. As with the other books, I find my mind blazing with theories and ideas of where things will go from here but the only thing I am sure of, based on the series as a whole, is whatever I come up with is not likely to be what Mead has in store.

With a very enchantingly built world, established early in the series and expanded masterfully, a wide range of characters- many of whom the reader comes to know as personally and emotionally as Rose- and very fluent writing, Mead has another powerful installment to the Vampire Academy series. The overall thought put into things is becoming clearer, with each book showcasing Mead's talent more. A series fans of fantasy will enjoy- vampire obsessives or not- Spirit Bound is an engaging read to be quickly devoured, leaving the reader salivating for the next book.

Source: Purchased from
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (May 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595142509
ISBN-13: 978-1595142504

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Winners: CK Kelly Martin Contest has spoken and the 3 winners in my CK Kelly Martin giveaway are:

Jenn @ Books at Midnight - First place and will get both One Lonely Degree and The Lighter Side of Life and Death

Debbie F & Onge - Will each get a copy of One Lonely Degree.

I will be emailing you three shortly- you have 48 hours from the time the email is sent to reply or I'll be choosing another winner.

Thanks to everyone who entered and don't forget to check out the other contests still going on- links are at the top of the page!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is Stranded by J.T. Dutton, set to be released June 8 from HarperTeen.


My best friend, Katy, says a person with a sparkly two-part name like Kelly Louise should be guaranteed a little glamour and excitement and not be forced to move back to Mom's middle-of-nowhere hometown—now the center of a media frenzy since a farmer found an infant in his cornfield. (It just slipped from some mystery mother's body without anyone noticing.)


But Baby Grace shadows every hair flip, every wink, and is keeping me from losing my virginity, despite my dynamite new boots. Even Katy doesn't have any more good advice. The one boy around who rates anywhere near acceptable on the Maximum Man Scale only has eyes for my cousin, Natalie, who only has eyes for Jesus.

But Natalie has a secret.

Everyone is so busy burying the truth about Baby Grace, they can't see who they're burying alive.

Welcome to Heaven, Iowa.

My Thoughts: The premise alone hints at the numerous elements Dutton plans to include in this book, from the faith aspect to abandoned baby to the typical- and always engaging- teenage drama. The interactions between the four characters mentioned in the summary- Baby Grace not withstanding- are already set up to be both heartbreaking and entertaining. The cover is eye catching but certainly seems fitting for the premise and mood, particularly with the white colored dress. I am definitely looking forward to reading this one.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blog Tour Stop: Alyssa B. Sheinmel

In celebration of her recent release The Beautiful Between, Alyssa Sheinmel is giving us a glimpse into closet of her main character, Connelly. If you haven't yet, check out my review of this fantastic work here.

In The Beautiful Between, Connelly talks about her clothes – sometimes a lot. I know different readers will interpret this trait differently, but personally, I never intended for this to be a shallow part of her character. Connelly does indeed focus on her outfits after hearing bad news, she obsesses over what would be appropriate to wear to a funeral: wearing the right clothes was the one thing that Connelly believed she could do right when she was otherwise powerless to do anything to help. Connelly isn’t often comfortable expressing herself out loud, so clothing is a way for her to show the people around her a little bit of who she is. It’s a way for her to fit in, and – I think maybe someday – it can also be a way for her to stand out.

And, clothing is part of Connelly’s relationship with her mother; her mother taught her from a young age that whether or not she knew the right things to do or say, she could at the very least look the part. When her relationship with her mother began to grow distant, they could still always shop together. It reminds me of stories about men watching sports with their otherwise closed-off fathers. They had baseball; Connelly and her mother had shopping.

And so, now, a glimpse inside Connelly’s closet. It’s a long skinny closet, and Connelly tries to keep it organized. On the left, she hangs her jeans – and she has a lot of them. Jeans are her standby: the right pair can allow her to blend in with the crowd, or stand out from it. She has boot-cut, straight-leg, skinny and distressed boyfriend-style. They’re mostly dark blue, so she can dress them up or down.

Next to the jeans are her college interview outfits. Even though Connelly knows that wearing the right outfit to her college interview is not quite as important as her grades and entrance essays, she still thinks it’s essential to make the right first impression with just the right outfit. Shopping for the right outfit made her feel a bit like Goldilocks: too casual, she thinks, and she’ll look cocky, like someone who believes she doesn’t have impress anyone to get into school. Too dressy though, and she’ll look like she’s trying too hard, and won’t fit in with the rest of the student body. She has one pair of gray slacks that fit close around her hips and are loose around her ankles. She can wear them with a white t-shirt and a boyfriend blazer or cardigan sweater and look just right.

In the middle, she has some hanging shelves with stacks of sweaters. Connelly hates being cold. She has lots of cardigans, including a huge wool one that Jeremy lent her (and which she promptly decided to keep), when they were standing outside once and she got cold. The cuffs hung down over her wrists and she burned cigarette holes around the edges.

On the far right of Connelly’s closet hang two dresses: Prom dresses. A junior, Connelly knows that prom is still a year away, but when she saw these dresses, she knew she had to have them. One is white, and strapless. It has a fitted bodice and then puffs into a short skirt with layers of crinoline underneath. Her favorite thing about it: It has pockets. The second is black, and also short. It’s bodice is fitted, too, but it’s one-shouldered. The material is soft and silky, and it’s covered from top to bottom with elaborate pleating. When she tried it on, she felt like a movie star. (And for the record, she bought both on super-sale: like me, Connelly loves a good bargain.)

Outside Connelly’s closet is a chest of drawers. Two drawers are dedicated entirely to pajamas. Connelly spends a lot of time in The Beautiful Between in her pajamas, since Jeremy mostly comes over after she’s gotten ready for bed, so she has plenty of soft cotton pajama pants and sweatpants that she pairs with tank tops and tee shirts.

So there you have it, a small glimpse into Connelly’s Closet. I can tell you that as she gets older, she becomes more adventurous with her clothes, and more sure of her fashion sense. This will lead to the occasional disastrous experiment (e.g. leg-warmers over skinny jeans), but eventually, she gets the balance just right: classic pieces with the occasional funky accessory to make the look pop. (I only hope to master this myself one day.)

Thank you Alyssa and everyone, be sure to pick up your copy of The Beautiful Between soon! You can continue to follow this tour over at Hollywood Crush tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review + Contest/Tour Stop: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

SUMMARY: Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew—just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road—diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards—this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

A zealous blend of angst and fun, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is an involved tale of two teens branching out on their own. With seamless transitions between decisions and clear motivations, this book puts the reader right in the car with these two as they travel across the country. What begins as a trip neither wants to take shifts into something friendly and enjoyable before either can recognize the transition.

Lost in a state of despair resulting from the loss of her father, the displacement of her brother and a moved forced by her mother, Amy avoids people as much as possible. Used to her life of solitude for the past month while her mother is already across the country in Connecticut , Amy finds herself wondering how she is supposed to handle 4 days in a car with a boy she played with as a kid but barely remembers. The initial character we meet is a highly sympathetic one, struggling with burdens coming from multiple directions. Guilt wracks her powerfully, the causes of which are slowly unfolded to the reader in a way that allows them to piece together a timeline of events that have led to her current mental state.

Roger, on the other hand, is harboring his own despair but from a different source than Amy’s and his overall state of being is carefree and easy. He is likable from the start and though Amy notices immediately he is attractive, it isn’t something she harbors on or spends hours thinking about. He’s attractive but he’s still stuck driving her across the country to her soon to be new home, leaving everything she’s ever known behind in California.

Though their route is mapped out, the pair decide to make the trip their own.
The trip across the country is an incredibly engaging one, written with beautifully crafted imagery to let the reader know what they see, encounter, and how they handle everything. From Yosemite to Kentucky and up to Philly, a wide range of stops come up. Though hours are spent in the car, the pace rarely drags. Long stretches of time can be boring but Matson keeps things entertaining as Amy and Roger get to know each other- as well as slowly tell their darker stories.

This is, overall, a light and airy read with a fantastic amount of local culture thrown in with each stop. From Derby transitions in Kentucky to the In-N-Out franchise of the west coast along with Chic-Fil-A and Krystal on the mid and eastern states, there is a bit of learning that can happen for any reader along with an appreciation for what they know as standard while is completely foreign to someone not from the region. How much thought went into what the pair encountered, where they dined, and the hotels they stayed at helped bring this book to life. The cities, towns, and interstates traveled were as much a part of the story as the interactions between Amy and Roger.

Although this is a teenage girl and a soon to be sophomore college boy, romance and physical attraction are not a high priority. The entire book is not a lust fest although there are several humorous, very teenage, awkward moments that arise. On the flip side, however, it is certainly logical the pair grows closer and more attuned to each other as their adventure progresses and Matson has blended the aspects beautifully. The character growth and development for Amy is phenomenal and written so smoothly, the reader won’t immediately realize some of the leaps made until Amy herself recognizes them. It is a very realistic portrayal of what a road trip like that can do to someone.

Overall, this is a great read with a bold mix of angst and drama interspersed with lightheartedness and fun. The stops and route chosen pull the reader along for the ride, making them feel as though they are right beside the pair. A wide range of people are encountered, each with their own lasting effect on Amy. She is a character with a ride range of facets, holding a few different sides that come out at variable times but each one distinct and understandable as she tries to come to terms with everything.

Quotes About the Book
“This is an incredible book—heartbreakingly funny and utterly un-put-down-able.”
—Lauren Myracle, New York Times Bestselling author of Thirteen and TTYL

"One of the most touching, irresistible, and feel-good road trips I've been on in a long, long while. AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR is a book to love."
—Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; The Queen of Everything; The Nature of Jade, and more!

About the Author:
Morgan Matson received her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. A road-trip veteran, she has driven cross-country three far. She currently lives in Venice, California. Follow Morgan on Twitter at @morgan_m.

Want your chance to win a copy of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour + A $10 Starbucks giftcard? Fill out this form. US mailing addresses only. Contest ends June 7.

FTC disclaimer: This book was received free of charge in support of this promotion for review.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Book Review: Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe


Maya's life has always been chaotic. Living with a con-man dad, she's spent half her life on the run. Whenever her father's schemes go wrong, Maya finds a scientific way to fix it. But when her dad ends up in prison and foster care fails, Maya grasps at her last possible hope of a home: a long-lost aunt, who may not even exist.

So Maya formulates a plan, and with her wits, two unlikely allies, and twenty dollars in her pocket, she sets off in search of this aunt, navigating the unpredictable four hundred miles from Reno to Boise. Life on the streets, though, becomes a struggle for survival—those scientific laws Maya has relied on her whole life just don't apply. And with each passing day, Maya's definitions of right and wrong are turned upside down when she's confronted with the realities and dangers of life as a runaway. She can't help but wonder if trying to find her aunt—and some semblance of stability—is worth the harrowing journey or if she should compromise and find a way to survive in her own.


Searing, potent and unflinching, Compromised is a uncharted look into life on the streets and what it means to be pushed aside by society. Torn between her love of her father and her anger at being betrayed by him, Maya finds herself thrust into a world unimaginable to anyone not in it. Though her life has been less than ideal, she would easily take the cons and quick escapes to an orphanage.

Maya is a reverberating character, holding a powerful mix of courage and fear. Her character dynamic and progression is painfully realistic with her initial reactions to becoming a warden of the state to her decision to leave and try on her own. Holding a certain level of naivety, Maya's struggles are undeniably believable. Despite her anger at her father, she is unable to turn her back on him completely. Many of her reactions are wrenching to read but pull out the true nature of this story. With her penchant for science and a constant need to develop a hypothesis and procedure, Maya's character is pitched in a unique way. Though she has a large vocabulary, her school intelligence is not likely to cause a dissonance with readers.

Sick of being passed around to foster families that don't care, Nicole goes with Maya. Their companionship is both endearing and entertaining, the two tied together by a tragic cause. With nicknames understood only in context, they forge a friendship seen by the reader before the girls recognize it. The softer sides of both shines through, lurking beneath the forced rough exterior they must have to survive not only in foster homes and orphanages but on the streets as well. With an affliction for mobsters, much akin to Maya's science obsession, Nicole's character is as strongly defined and developed as Maya's. Strengthening the overall effect more, the banter between these two provides relief from the overall dark air of the book.

Further along their way, the two girls find a young boy also living on the streets. His character is as noteworthy, memorable and heartrending as Nicole and Maya, all three pulling the reader's compassion and emotions. With his own quirks and habits, Klon adds a strong dynamic to the girls, mixed further with his unique way of viewing things. He tugs Maya and Nicole between being motherly towards him and their own obligations to themselves. The battle between putting themselves first and helping the group comes up often, interspersed with their growing desperation to survive and the things they are willing to do to make it happen.

In a society where people on the streets, young and old alike, are written off and ignored, Compromised will pitch a jarring look into the other side. How wrong is stealing, when a cheap bag of cough drops could mean the difference between a night of pain and some sort of relief? How hurt is the diner who's stuck with a bill for some pancakes and coffee when it means some homeless teens have food in their bellies for the day? These questions and more are thrust forward in Compromised, ensuring the reader will rethink their state of mind on many things that have become accepted as normal.

With an unerringly strong voice and writing, Compromised pulls the reader in from the start and doesn't let them go even after the book has finished. A dark and depressing overall air mixed with innumerable twists, this is a gripping read unlike any other. The reader will constantly question the fate of all three kids, wondering if they will find a way to their goals or end up dying, frozen on the streets like many others. Death is lurking constantly around them, reminding them in countless ways. Intensely developed and defined characters, a guttural world created, and echoing writing, this terrifying look at events still taking place in our modern world is sure to pack a punch and remain with the reader.

Source: ARC received from author free of charge in exchange of an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061728497
ISBN-13: 978-0061728495

Author's Website

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In My Mailbox

Not a bad week for me book wise again. Got some great titles in, and won some amazing prizes on the Do The Write Thing For Nashville Auctions. There's still 3 more days of auctions left to close out with the last set of auctions to be posted today. There are some fantastic prizes donated by various people in the writing/publishing industry and all proceeds go to a charity to support the Nashville Flood Victims. As they come in, I'll be featuring my prizes in future IMM posts.

For Review:
Forget You by Jennifer Echols (Signed!)
The Second Trial by Rosemarie Boll
Saving Max by Antoinette Van Heugten
(Special thanks to Jennifer Echols, Second Story Press, and Phenix & Phenix publishers for these books)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: The Secret To Lying by Todd Mitchell


A teenage boy’s self-reinvention gets out of control in a sharp, funny, poignant, and compulsively readable novel that gives a familiar theme a surprising twist.

James was the guy no one noticed — just another fifteen-year-old in a small town. So when he gets into an academy for gifted students, he decides to leave his boring past behind. In a boarding school full of nerds and geeks, being cool is easy. All it takes is a few harmless pranks to invent a new James: fighter, rebel, punk. Everyone’s impressed, except for the beautiful "Ice Queen" Ellie Frost and the mysterious ghost44, an IM presence who sees through his new identity. But James is riding high, playing pranks and hooking up with luscious Jessica Keen. There’s just one thing awry: he’s starting to have vivid dreams of being a demon-hunting warrior, a thrill that is spilling over into dangerous and self-destructive acts while he’s awake. As he’s drawn deeper into his real-life lies and his dream-world conquests, James begins to wonder: What’s the price for being the coolest guy around?


A train wreck waiting to happen and an artful blurring between reality and fantasy, The Secret To Lying masterfully delves into one teen’s struggle to be noticed. The boy who was often forgotten, James finds himself at a new school with a fresh start. With opportunity ample before him, he holds nothing back in the stories he comes up with regarding his past- until it becomes too much even for him.

On a shallow level, this book is about lying and reaping what’s been sown. On the deeper level Mitchell incorporated, this book is the epitome of teenage confusion and a struggle to find one’s self. A coming of age novel mixed with moralistic questions, The Secret To Lying is a refreshing read for any age. James’ internal struggles, debates and fears aren’t hidden, clearly driving much of his actions throughout the book. Unable to see far enough in the future to realize the path he is on and resistant to help, James does nothing but continue to delve deeper into the darkness that threatens to engulf him.

James is masterfully done, making a complete character change early on as soon as he starts at his new school before developing through great strides by the end of the book. There are three different characters seen throughout centered with this one person and Mitchell has created a unique, memorable and promising method to bring about each one. Subtly touching on many areas of psychological, rationalization and motivations, James is a character any teenager- male or female- will relate to. Even the most outwardly confident teen will find some consolation in James’ struggles and from an outside perspective, his decisions and chosen methods to deal with the demons battling inside him can easily be identified as inept. From inside James’ head, however, the reader can easily understand the drives behind his lying and other things he does. Mitchell holds nothing back when he puts this character on display, creating a strong emotional connection between reader and damaged character.

In his journey to finding himself, James encounters a range of characters and because of the ASMA school setting, the social groups are different. This is a place where the geeks can be bold without repercussion, the nerds can be popular and being smart is idealized rather than ostracized. In some ways, James attending a boarding high school is much like a college freshman, suddenly rapt with new opportunities and no parental supervision. While some handle it smoothly, others go overboard and given his mental state starting at the school, James’ actions are easily understood.

Enter Jess, a punk style girl who shows interest in him and though an attraction is there, it is clear to both the reader and even James other things are off and missing. This relationship is a fluid example of teenage emotions, torn between a desire to be with someone and confusion over what they should be feeling. A lack of one thing and an upsurge of another create turmoil within James, pulling the reader along for the ride and leaving them as unsure about the outcome as James. Confounding James further is his inexplicable reactions and feelings towards Ellie, a popular girl dubbed as The Ice Queen. He is both annoyed and infatuated by her, unable to sift through and understand his reactions. James’ interactions with both Jess and Ellie are enjoyable though at times painful and help pull the plot and character development along beautifully.

Mixed in with the lies and uncertainty are numerous scenes of teenage pranks, banter, and companionship. There are several humorous scenes throughout the book, breaking up the serious aspect of the book. From shopping trips with his mother to an entire scene played out in the cafeteria as a stand against the food, James and his friends find themselves in some very entertaining situations that remind the reader of the characters' ages and though they are at a school for math and science, they are still teenagers.

Hosting a wide variety of characters with some interesting nicknames- from Cheese to Heinous to Muppet- The Secret To Lying is a smooth read along a tumultuous road rapt with rises and falls. The description and detail of James’ dreams paints a magnificent picture for the reader and the slow shifting of that world into James’ waking one is handled seamlessly. The integration of the actions of his dreams into the real world events is a brilliant method to tie everything together. Bold writing that gives a very strong mental voice to this smart but confused and unmotivated main character coupled with an endearing plot that very cleverly manipulates the lines between dreaming and awake, fiction and reality create a perfect novel for an emotional ride the reader is guaranteed to remain on until the ending.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher, free of charge, for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (June 8, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763640840
ISBN-13: 978-0763640842

Author's Website

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: Crossing by Andrew Xiu Fukuda


A loner in his all-white high school, Chinese-born Xing (pronounced “Shing”) is a wallflower longing for acceptance. His isolation is intensified by his increasingly awkward and undeniable crush on his only friend, the beautiful and brilliant Naomi Lee. Xing’s quiet adolescent existence is rattled when a series of disappearances rock his high school and fear ripples through the blue collar community in which he lives. Amidst the chaos surrounding him, only Xing, alone on the sidelines of life, takes notice of some peculiar sightings around town. He begins to investigate with the hope that if he can help put an end to the disappearances, he will finally win the acceptance for which he has longed. However, as Xing draws closer to unveiling the identity of the abductor, he senses a noose of suspicion tightening around his own neck. While Xing races to solve the mystery and clear his name, Crossing hurtles readers towards a chilling climax


Complex and reverberating, Crossing pulls together several seemingly unrelated elements and weaves them together to create a complex and engaging tale. With intelligent writing, a unique main character and a “who done it” premise, Fukuda has put a memorable spin on both bullying and murder mysteries. A phenomenal world has been built, central to the main character, cataloging the struggles that happen in the present day for a teenage boy who has immigrated from China to the United States . Additional struggles come from the community he lives in- a very white one.

Xing, otherwise known as Kris, is a freshman in high school, holding all the same insecurities as his peers but troubling him more is how ghostlike he truly is. Though he doesn’t blend with his classmates in terms of looks and certainly sticks out with is ethnic background, Kris goes unnoticed apart from one student- the only other Chinese girl. Kris is not only the son of two Chinese parents- he was born and spent the first several years of his life in China . He recounts when Naomi first arrived, the two thrust together while she still didn’t understand English only to learn she has surpassed him in that she no longer holds a thick accent like he does.

This thick Chinese accent sets him further apart from his peers. The writing, however, is strong and shows a very firm grasp of the English language, driving him a very bold point that though the words coming out of his mouth aren’t ideal, he most certainly understands. Kris is not ignorant, actually holding a better grasp of English with a wider vocabulary than some of his peers. This was one of the most notable and defining aspects of the book, making the character very realistic.

Xing is both bullied and ignored; a boy who has slowly changed and hardened over the years at the hands of his classmates. This aspect of the story alone drives the plot but adding another layer is the mysterious serial killer targeting teens at the school. As tension builds and the community grows more scared, just how far apart Xing is from everyone else becomes clearer. The elements continue to pulse and shift until they finally come together for a very startling and gripping ending.

My initial reaction to the ending was dumbfounded, primarily because readers, in general, have an inherent desire for everything to be wrapped up and tied off. This is not the kind of ending presented here- but the one provided is far more powerful. It is one that takes a little while to fully sink in and will remain with the reader for days after. The full scope of things will astound the reader, rendering it astounding and brilliant.

The lasting effects are eye opening and Fuduka has pulled in real world events that have happened in the past few years to drive both the overall points home as well as build the story. Though set in the perspective of a Chinese immigrant, any reader from any background will be able to relate to Kris. There are several surprising plot twists and left hooks thrown. Adding more elements is Kris’ journey to find himself, primarily through music and the rediscovery of his ability to sing. Fukuda has artfully weaved together a few different plot lines, all separate and strong enough to create their own story ideas but culminating in remarkable ways.