Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis


Sadie Lester has been dumped with relatives for the summer. Boredom seems inevitable in her small Minnesota town until she meets Allie—a spiky-haired off-road biker with incredible grace and speed. Training for the upcoming bike race, Allie leads Sadie and cute fellow cyclist Joe up and down Mount Kato—an exhilarating rush that pushes their limits. The fun ends abruptly when they stray off the trail and find a priest, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie mysteriously disappears from their lives.

Just like the trash littering the beautiful river bluffs, there's something foul afoot. Creepy rednecks are prowling the woods, the same ones who ran Sadie and Allie off the road one night. It's not until the day of the big race that Sadie finally learns the startling truth about Allie, her connection to the priest, and what drove her into hiding.


The Short Version:
Honest and uniquely presented, Chasing Alliecat does a remarkable job tackling some rough issues and blending with a coming of age type tale. Fully investing the reader in not only Sadie's story but Allie's as well, the biking angle of this one ties everything together in a great way. With a vivid setting, and plenty of action throughout, the mystery surrounding Allie is well told, with Sadie's role and reactions progressing things more.

The Extended Version:
Sadie is an easy character to like from the start with her sarcastic nature that comes through in her thoughts and sometimes outright, but still remains quiet as well. She's strong in ways not immediately apparent, and loyal in a very bold way to her friends. Her frustrations about certain things are clear, without being something she harks on and can't let go of. She has both a fierce and a sweet side, and neither came off as fake or forced, making her a very dimensional, well developed character.

Allie is sassy and fiery, and most definitely a highly memorable character. Carrying a big mystery with her that is only made more prominent by her reactions to things, it's clear early on that things really aren't quite right for her. Regardless, though, Allie has a unique outlook on things and a huge internal drive that pushes her through things. Taking Sadie under her wing from the start, her friendship proves invaluable despite some incredibly trying events.

Joe is very well pitched, particularly for a love interest. With the bad boy image to get him started, it's quickly dissolved once Sadie and the reader get to know him. He shows the full range of emotions and responses, including fear and uncertainty in a way that speaks so much more for his character than is said on the pages. His interactions with Allie add plenty of spunk and amusement to the book, but he also has some incredibly sweet and tender moments with Sadie that make him shine.

The rest of the characters each of their own quirks and unique mannerisms that set them apart. Set in a small town that has plenty of rednecks, the setting comes alive vividly and the way this impacts Sadie and her family is also clear. The full back and forth between the two certainly adds its own element to the book.

Though the mountain biking does play a huge role in this book, and is described in some detail, it isn't off putting or pitched in a way that is talking down to even the readers who don't know a thing about biking. Davis does a beautiful job blending the mountain biking with the character development and progressing the plot, with some key scenes happening on the trails. The pacing is mostly steady, with only a few lags that focus on the characters strongly, but also with high action scenes that push things forward quickly.

There are some rough to swallow elements of this book, and some incredibly intense, well handled scenes. The writing is easy to read while still remaining descriptive and gives a good voice to Sadie. Her view of the the world in general clearly changes by the end of the book, reflected in the writing but happens in a smooth way. Even things related to the biking are explained exactly as Sadie would, making it real and readable.

With an emotional and character driven plot set against mountain biking, Chasing Alliecat pulls some new elements and weaves them in a smooth way. The characters are well developed and each scene has a clear purpose. Add in just enough romance to lighten things while never straying far from the biggest aspects of the story, and this is definitely a great addition to the contemporary genre.

Special Note: This review is part of the Chasing Alliecat blog tour, where Rebecca will donate $1 for every(meaningful) comments this and all the other posts that are with the tour receive to a foundation dedicated to giving bikes to girls. So comment away!

Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: February 8, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Wherever You Go by Heather Davis, coming November 14 from Harcourt Children's Books.

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend? 

As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side? 

Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob, Wherever You Go is is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.

My Thoughts: This one sounds like it's one of those contemporary books with just a touch of supernatural to it. I am loving the ghost angle of this one, and how big a role it seems to play while still letting all the characters just... be. Yes, we'll get Rob's perspective who is a ghost and yet, I think it will be very human and real, and likely very emotion and engaging. This one isn't necessarily a unique concept, but I am completely digging the way Heather is spinning it and the multiple perspectives of it. The cover, too, is beautiful, and I really love the pensive look on the girl's face with a little worry mixed in. The color scheme of it somehow does make me think of ghosts a little, and is still just catchy all around.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Five Reasons to Read Contemporary Fiction

It's no secret to anyone who follows my blog regularly that while I do love fantasy and paranormal, my heart lies with contemporary fiction. I realize I'm somewhat of a minority with this, and I'm okay with that. And while I totally respect everyone's varying tastes, I have to admit, it twists my heart a little every time I hear someone flat out say "I don't read contemp." Especially because usually when I ask why, their reason is "I just don't" Okay, I do respect that. But sometimes, I wonder if people have really given it a fair chance, or if they've just read one or two, didn't like it, and judged the entire genre based on it. But beyond that, a lot of times, these same people who just don't read contemp are also the ones starting to get more frustrated with the redundancy in YA paranormal/fantasy. So with that in mind, I bring you guys my top reasons why contemp rocks.

5. Variety. Contemporary fiction, as a whole, has a huge variety of subjects. From chick lit to straight romance, to the issues books and the ones that are just fun, there honestly is something for everyone with this genre. To pick up your good mood, or because you're in the mood to really feel something, contemp has not just one or two titles for it, but most likely, quite a few.

4. When things get rough, the characters can't just use some paranormal advantage to make things okay. When they overcome hard odds... when they make it through a seemingly impossible situation... it's because of them, and not anything else. It's almost empowering to read a more or less normal person figuring out the things thrown at them.

3. No books have ever effected me or had a potent effect on me like contemp fiction. Getting lost in a book is great, but at least for me, getting lost in something with real elements is even better. Even when I'm feeling down, I can pick up a rough and tumble book and walk away feeling better because it's such a beautiful reminder that for me, it's not so bad. It could be worse.

2. Boys! No, really. Even in realistic fiction, there are still hot and sexy, swoonworthy boys. Some of my favorite boys ever, actually, are from contemp fiction.

1. It's real, but it can still take you away. Just because I pick up a book that's realistic fiction doesn't mean I've ever experienced the situation. It doesn't mean I've walked that path.

And just in case you need some recs to get you started, here's some of my favorites:

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: A mix of funny and intense, this one will pull you in from the start with the gorgeous writing, amazing character and fantastic story.

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker: A seriously well done mystery set in a private school, with hints of sorrow but plenty of humor along the way.

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe: One of the few books to ever make me cry, this one will challenge your way of thinking and really make you question some things.

Freefall by Mindi Scott: If you want to get into male POV books, start here. It's got huge crossover for female readers, is most definitely a romance, and has just an astounding element of realism to it.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown: This one gives a new perspective to school shootings, because it focuses on the girlfriend of the boy who brought the gun. It's one of the single most emotional and infuriating books I've ever read, but certainly one of the most potent as well.

Kiss It by Erin Downing: This one deals with some rough issues, but does it with grace and humor throughout. It has a fantastic protag who is all kinds of witty and funny, but doesn't shy away from anything either.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: This one is a romance with a different twist, but plenty of steam to go with it. This one puts head to head both sides of the "girl" issue, whether she should be basically uptight and swear off boys, or flaunt her sexuality, and does it well.

So there you have it. What are some of your favorite contemp books? And why?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Aric Davis

Popping in today is Aric Davis, author of the newly released Nickel Plated, to answer some questions and bring you guys a giveaway of his book!

What was the hardest aspect of Nickel's life to write and develop?

His past. I love the idea of a sequel, or sequels, and holding back on what I think is one of the most interesting parts was not easy. That said, I think I gave enough of a taste, and it makes me look forward to finding out more about him. I hope other people feel the same way.

If you could pair Nickel with any character from any book, who would you pick?

Scout, from “To Kill a Mockingbird”. She’d need to be a little older, but she would be perfect. What a duo, but I’m not going to be the one to tackle Harper Lee’s leading lady. I’m brave enough for a lot, but not that! Still, Scout would be one heck of a partner in crime, and I think Holden Caulfield could be a good fit too.

You're traveling back in time with Nickel at your side! Where do you go?

In my world, we’re going to kill Adolf Hitler in 1921. In Nickel’s, I think we need to try and save his father.

If you were a demigod, who would your parent be?

Absolutely Dionysius, he seems like he’s always having a good time, and I don’t remember him being involved in too much conflict. Plus, I would be guaranteed to be the life of the party!

What kind of cake/confection would you describe yourself as?

Jelly donut. Cut me in half, and the guts fall out.

Thank you, Aric, for those awesome answers, and congrats on your release!

Now for your chance to win a copy of Nickel Plated, just fill out THIS form!

Contest is US only, and ends April 6.

Comments are very appreciated, but no contest entries will be accepted through the comments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer


Every ghost has a story to tell.

The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.

Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.


The Short Version:
A ghost story mixed with a realistic contemporary setting and an intricate weaving of two different time periods makes Through Her Eyes a very haunting and beautiful read. Tansy is a character many will relate to, an outsider as a product of her constant moving but still someone who wants to make connections with others. The small town Texas setting plays a large role in the book, and the overall story line is very well thought out and in depth. Rapt with deeper nuances and meaning, and rich in character motivation and development, Through Her Eyes does a remarkable job of blending the paranormal with the realistic.

The Extended Version:
Tansy is an interesting character, frustrated with her mother for how often they move and intensely loyal to her declining grandfather. Her fierce love for him is refreshing in nature, and speaks volumes of her character. This angle adds another source of tension with her mother, twisting both the reader’s and Tansy’s feelings regarding the entire situation. Tansy is a mixture of good and bad qualities, a bit of a leper at school while still holding her own personal reservations about the usual school outcasts. Despite her initial reactions, Bethyl Anne proves to be a great friend for Tansy and a fantastic addition to the story overall.

Bethyl Anne is a unique character, two years younger than her classmates but incredibly intelligent and jumped two grades because of it. From her appearance to her brains to her looks, she has all the typical makings as a target and an outcast, but she finds a way to push it off. Her habit of spouting off Shakespeare in response to almost any situation is amusing and endearing, and her overall role in the book is very well done.

Tate seems like the stereotypical jock, but he has much deeper qualities, and his own development comes in surprising ways. He has piercing eyes and is downright hot, but he’s got his own bits of torment and disappointment. He, too, plays a surprising role in the book, with some unexpected reveals related to him happening at just the right times. His reasons for things are explained in due course, and overall, Tate is both swoonworthy and likable.

The plot itself is well thought out, filled with little things that mean something more and tie ins that are unexpected or forgotten until they are revealed at the perfect moment. The way the entire potential possession aspect plays out is fantastically well written, smooth to read, and easy to understand in nature and reason. Henry, the boy who lived in Tansy’s house decades before and who is thought to have killed himself, plays a strong role as well, and he is developed in a beautiful way. The mixing of his time and Tansy’s is a beautiful aspect of this book, merging the two in surprising ways and throwing several unexpected twists along the way.

There is an overall sense of isolation and solitude in this book, which does rebound to make things seem slow. While Tansy does interact with people in the town here and there, and her mother, it isn’t until about halfway through her social type interactions really start picking up. Before that, it is heavy on internal monologue, centered around Tansy adjusting to the new house and town, mixed in with the legends surrounding the previous owners and the strange happenings that start almost immediately. Given how strongly characters play in my liking of a book, I enjoyed this aspect but I can see it being a sticky angle for some. Regardless, the story as a whole is well worth it to push past this sense of loneliness, written in a way that can even pull the reader in to the feeling.

With well developed characters- both central and secondary, in the present day, and from the past- and a strong premise twisted to something Archer can easily call her own, Through Her Eyes really mixes things up in a fantastic way. The setting is spot on, mirroring life in a small Texas town through the eyes of an outsider, and is built in a smooth manner without being overbearing. Archer’s writing is strong, showing her ability, without being overbearing or pressing, and lulls the reader into the story easily.

Source: ARC Received from author in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 384 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 5, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox

I had a fantastic week in books! Not only did I get some awesome titles, but last year, I won an auction from Doing the Write Thing for Nashville from Kiersten White, and part of my prize was a character named after me. Originally, it was for book 3, but she ended up adding me into book 2. And okay, I have been waiting since then to find out what I am. So FINALLY. This week I did. AND. I am... Okay. I'm so not telling. You'll have to read and find out. But when you see a Kari in Supernaturally. Yep. It's named after me and it's a friggin' awesome feeling. So with that little story that still makes me do a happy dance told, I bring you, my mailbox!

For Review:
Supernaturally by Kiersten White (Already read-- FANTASTIC)
Stay by Deb Caletti
Intriniscal by Lani Woodland
Those Who Fight Monsters (Compilation), Edited by Justin Gustainis
Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan
(Huge thanks to Kiersten White, Simon & Schuster, Lani Woodland, Justin Gustainis, WestSide Books, and Running Press)

 Wildefire by Karsten Knight (Already read-- Amazing)

Clarity by Kim Harrington (Signed from her launch party. Already read- LOVE)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Author Tens List + Contest: Holly Schindler

Here today as part of her Playing Hurt tour is Holly Schindler, to share her top ten love stories!

Releasing my first romance, PLAYING HURT, has me thinking about all things romance. Some of my favorite love stories haven’t actually been novels, but silver screen romances. (In all honesty, I don’t think of the movies as a place I go to turn my brain off for a couple of hours. I really think of the movies as another type of literature…)

If I were to list ten of the best cinematic love stories? Ten love stories that stuck with me, long after those final credits rolled?

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. An oldie—this one goes all the way back to ’34. But it continues to be so, so influential. All those tricks we’ve seen a hundred times in the movies (say, a girl sticking out her leg to flag down a ride)? It happened here first!

DIRTY DANCING. I watched this one over and over when I was younger. I rarely read books more than once, though…Which just goes to show the ability of the movies to transport, to lift the spirits…

PICNIC. Mom rented this after I saw DIRTY DANCING, and I actually guffawed at the scene of Kim Novak coming down the stairs. Now, though? I’ve got new appreciation for this one.

PRETTY WOMAN. A friend and I had to sneak in to see this (the movie was released when I was in junior high). Talk about love, we fell in love with this movie…

THE PRINCESS BRIDE. The humor is incredible. (So much of humor depends on timing…How to you write perfectly-timed pauses on the printed page? Can it even be done?)

AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN. Great character development. Harsh stuff. But a beautiful love story, too—that’s really hard to accomplish, combining grittiness and romance…

DESK SET. Again, an oldie. (On a list of big-screen romances, Hepburn and Tracy had to be here somewhere!) And I love the fact that humans triumph over technology in this one. Makes you want to completely unplug.

SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. Probably my favorite teen romance of all time. Again, great humor. I think I could actually recite the dialogue from the entire movie word-for-word.

MURPHY’S ROMANCE / SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. Proof that super-steamy love scenes really don’t have to be part of a story for the romance to work…

HAROLD AND MAUDE. I saw this for the first time when I was about fifteen, and it remains my favorite movie. Quite simply, this is the oddest couple ever in the history of movies. In part, that’s what makes them so endearing…Also, Harold’s life changes because of his time with Maude. I wanted that to be part of PLAYING HURT…but I wanted BOTH of my protagonists to change from their time together…

Thank you, Holly, for sharing those! I think Pretty Woman might still be my favorite. What are some of your favorites?

And to celebrate Holly's release, I have one signed copy of Playing Hurt up for grabs for one lucky reader!

To enter, just fill out THIS form.

Contest is open to US/Canada addresses only, and ends April 3.

No entries will be accepted through comments, but they are very much appreciated.

Mini Reviews: Wildefire, Hourglass, Supernaturally

It's mini review time again! Wherein I basically go fangirl gushy about some books I've read and completely loved, a little more laid back than my usual reviews-- which will come closer to the actual release for these ones.

Wildefire by Karsten Knight: The characters stand out to me more than anything with this one. They are fantastically well done, from Ash who the story revolves around right down to even the small characters like the school headmistress. Knight develops them so intricately that even a quick scene gives you quite a bit about that character's personality. Ash is sarcastic and a master at the witty banter, and there is plenty of humor in this book despite a somewhat somber and questioning overall air. Then there's Colt, suave and charming with an interesting intensity and passion about him. I loved watching these two together. And even with seemingly stereotypical characters, Knight makes them his own and makes them someone you want to see more of on the pages, from the jock to the quiet girl to the beautiful snob. Characters aside, though, this one has a stellar plot with plenty of completely original additions, and twists that are near impossible to predict. It's original and insightful and just downright awesome. Add in the killer cliffhanger, and Knight leaves you salivating like a St. Bernard for the next one. Oh, and I love love love his writing. It is beautiful and has a fantastic flow, and even though it's in third person, he pulls you so effectively into Ashline's head that you don't even really notice it's not first person.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire: This one blew my mind and frankly, made my brain ache just trying to fully think about the total implications of everything McEntire put into this book. The plot is absolutely brilliant and fantastic and amazing, and is so intricate that it's one of those where if you even try to explain why it's so awe-inspiring, you'll probably accidentally spoil something. Just when you think you might have it figured out... Nope. Something else is thrown in that kicks you in the chest like a ticked off horse but makes you go back for more all the same. So suffice it to say, this one has more twists and turns than a Tilt-a-Whirl, and pulls it off without ever being confusing or frustrating or cliche. Engaging from the start, with fantastic characterization, and completely phenomenal, this will likely always stay in my top ten books ever. Not to mention, it has two seriously hot boys. Yeah. Two. And holy hormones batman does McEntire know how to make you want them both.

Supernaturally by Kiersten White: So, you know how in Paranormalcy, there were all these new things, or already known creature things but that you never read about? And you know how it was funny, even when it shouldn't have been? Yeah. Supernaturally is just like that. Except not exactly like that, because White still adds all this new stuff, and keeps you guessing, and makes you wonder what the heck is going on in her head except then you read more and think maybe you don't want to know what's in her head, unless of course that means finding out about book three because you will want it like NAO once you finish this one. But it doesn't have a cliffhanger ending. It's just that good, and so fantastically well built. And the characters are awesome. And they have to go through so much stuff, and there's SO much emotion in this one, but still it's funny and overall, has a light air in a way that I think only Kiersten White can pull off. I've said it before and I stand by it. Kiersten's brain is a weapon of mass destruction, but at least her destruction is the good kind. Or something like that. But this one doesn't rely on having put out a great first book to carry it. Nope. It stands on its own as amazing and fantastic and every other word that means something like that and heck, we might even need to make up a few new ones just for this book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Author Guest Post: Estevan Vega

Here today to celebrate the release of his short story ebook compilation, When Colors Bleed, is Estevan Vega to talk about the cover design process.

WHEN COLORS BLEED is a collection of three unique stories that, when compiled together, create a palpable blend of love, loss, and regret. When I was working on these stories, all at different times, I had no idea that one day they’d be put together and published in one volume. In fact, I wrote them to distract my mind for a bit while I was feverishly pumping out ARSON book one and two. Sometimes you just have to step away for a moment from the thing you’re working on in order to keep it fresh. So I worked on short stories, never thinking I’d publish them. Sure, the idea of publishing them was nice, but it didn’t seem like it’d happen.

When I decided that publishing was a reality with the Kindle, I knew I could bypass the traditional, painful, agonizing, full-of-B.S. route and instead release it digitally right to my readers. It was a liberating thought. It also meant I could include or exclude whatever I wanted, and I could use whatever cover artist I wanted to make this collection light up on a computer screen. I, of course, turned to the creativity of Tyler Evans, the master artist behind my ARSON cover. But when I contacted him, I told him this process was going to be a little different. Since there were going to be three distinct stories, I wanted three distinct pieces of art to represent each story, in addition to the cover art. This process took nearly a month, and over several weeks, I wondered if I was going overkill (I tend to do that with my work). After all, it was just a collection, right?


WHEN COLORS BLEED is so much more than that. It is a collection of three unique stories, all with individual identities that are expressed and felt in different ways. Therefore, I felt like each one should be able to stand on its own, speak for itself, and have its own face. I wanted this collection to stand out from others. Not just in the way it is written, but in the way it is presented to you fine people. When you search for the collection on Amazon or on the Nook, however, you don’t get to see the art for each individual story, so I figured I’d let you see it here. Also, I figured I’d let you see what each one looked like before the final draft. Like writing, art comes in many drafts before it’s made perfect.

So here is the complete artwork for WHEN COLORS BLEED.

Comments: I loved the initial artwork (from the rain to the indistinct facial expression to Thomas grabbing his neck in uncertainty). It was all really good stuff, but it wasn’t cohesive with the story. The suit was supposed to be baby blue matched with a white shirt, so he made some minor changes and Baby Blue evolved into this:

Comments: This one definitely holds truer to the text, and it’s just unique. I mean, how often do you get to see a guy walking around in a strange, baby blue suit?

Next in the collection is Vanilla Red. It’s a story masking itself as a confessional hoping to be a morality tale. Yeah, it has many faces, but one fact remains regardless of your interpretation: it’s a sick puppy. This one is probably one of the creepiest stories I’ve written to date. It tells of a nameless man who now resides in a prison/asylum for the murder of a woman from his past. Once you read it, you’ll understand its odd title a bit more clearly. Here is Tyler’s original cover art.

Comments: My gut reaction to this was that I loved it! It was actually the first image designed for the collection. It was breathtaking and creepy, exactly the reaction I wanted people to have from the story. However, my name was barely visible, and I wanted people to be able to tell that I was indeed the author. So he reworked it and this is the final.

Second to last was designing artwork for The Man in the Colored Room. If you’ve read it, you understand it’s a strange story, and it keeps you on edge, biting your nails and guessing until the last page. Of all the included stories, this one resembles The Twilight Zone the most, in my opinion (God Bless you, Rod Serling!). Colin awakens in a room with bleeding color and a hot cup of coffee waiting for him. He’s not sure where the color’s coming from or why it’s there. Then a man who claims to be Colin’s friend, Jack, is able to shut the colors off with the push of a button. What follows is a creepy series of questions, but Colin can’t seem to remember how he arrived in the colored room. My designer shot back with these cool covers.

Comments: My first reaction of these was that they were both very cool and unique but not what I was looking for. I loved how the colors blended with the gray floor, but it just didn’t feel like the story I had written. Plus, I wanted the formation of the colors to be a picture that each reader created in his/her own mind, rather than something I was responsible for putting there. So we decided to stick with a much creepier, neutral approach to the story and resolved to let each reader decide for themselves what the room looked like to them.

Finally, it was time to tackle the front cover. I kept getting this image of a rose bleeding. The symbolism sort of speaks for itself, but I knew that each story dealt with something fragile within humanity. And we’re all bleeding to some extent. We all feel pain and loss and love and beauty. A rose represents beauty and fragility as every so often its petals die. Then Tyler made the flower bleed to show the flower’s human side, that it too can bleed in spite of its beauty. The rose is also fading, to represent the birth and death of all life.

I loved playing with these concepts. The collection was made even more real once it had an identity. I hope you enjoyed the journey of each piece of art. Now go get your copy of WHEN COLORS BLEED and look for ARSON part dos very, very soon.

When Colors Bleed is a collection of short stories. Three short stories. I wrote them over the course of two-three years, while I was working on ARSON and ARSON part dos (releasing very, very soon). I have always been a lover of short stories, probably ever since I discovered Edgar Allen Poe, sick freak that he was. Since so many people in our culture today don’t make time to read, a short story provides an opportunity for even the most reluctant reader to dive right in and give an author a shot.

Estevan Vega is the author of three novels (ARSON, THE SACRED SIN, and SERVANTOF THE REALM) and a just-released short story collection WHEN COLORS BLEED. THE SACRED SIN will be re-released in 2011 in a more complete, revamped edition. Also, look for book two in the ARSON series, out soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Author Interview + Contest: Hannah Moskowitz

Taking over my blog today is none other than the awesome and witty Hannah Moskowitz, author of Break and the upcoming Invincible Summer. I adore both of her books, and think they have such raw emotion, and for that reason, stick around after the interview for your chance to win!

Describe Invincible Summer in 5 words.

Gritty, funny, raw...vaguely incestual?

Chase made the front page of the newspaper. What does the headline say?


(that's not a plot point, it just sounds like Chase.)

What was the hardest part about having the book span four summers in terms of character voice and development?

I needed to make Chase sound older without making him sound like a different person, and that meant I had to fill in all the blanks for what happened in the off-seasons. So I know what Chase is like at school and who his friends are and who he's dating, even though that stuff isn't in the book. I have to know, because I have to figure out how he's affected by all this stuff.

It's a lot to keep in my head. I can't tell you how many times I've made lists saying how old everyone is every summer. I can never keep Claudia's age straight.

Of Chase's siblings, which was the hardest to write both in character and dynamic with Chase?

Gotta be Claudia. Girls are tough for me.

If Jonah and Chase were to hang out, what would they do?

Whatever Jonah wanted to do. Chase is a doormat. So they'd probably play basketball and Chase would be crushed and he'd quote something to make himself feel better, and Jonah would look at him like he had some sort of disease, then he'd offer Chase some psychological insight he learned while he was locked up. Then more basketball?

Their brothers would be more fun. They'd just be angry together.

If you were a demigod, which god/goddess would be your parent?

Demeter, def.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Lemon chalets. Delicious, but you've never heard of me.

Thank you, Hannah, for those awesome and amusing answers!

So there you have it, lovely readers, a glimpse into Invincible Summer and a look at Hannah's humor that just comes off naturally. Invincible Summer releases April 19, so make sure you check it out!

Now for your chance to win a preorder of Invincible Summer, fill out THIS form.

Contest IS international, as long as The Book Depository delivers to you, and ends April 6.

No entries will be accepted through the comments, but comments are more than appreciated.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies, coming September 27 from HarperTeen.

Summary: Skye never questioned the story of her life. Her Aunt Jo adopted her after the death of her parents when she was just a child, and together they flip through memories the way some people flip through photo albums.

She never questioned if the stories were true.

Until the night of her 17th birthday, when the arrival of two strangers intrudes on her cozy life. Polar opposites, like fire and ice, Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair, cold, and aloof. Skye has no idea what they want—only that their presence coincides with the beginning of some shockingly strange events. Events that Skye, if she dares to think it, might be responsible for causing.

High up in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, Skye finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient battle, one that began untold millennia ago. Torn between unpredictable Asher, whom she loves, and the infuriating Devin, who she can’t stay away from, her fate is murky as a starless night. And as the secrets of her true identity are revealed, Skye realizes that her destiny may reside in the Heavens—or somewhere darker.

My Thoughts: Two boys?! Yes! As if one hot boy to drool over and plot to steal isn't awesome enough, now there are two! And yet, I'm not entirely sure this is really going to be a love triangle, but if it is, I think it will be an awesome one. Not to mention, their names alone are sexy. Also, I really like the hints of this being a Heaven vs Hell, good vs evil kind of story, yet I get the sense that that isn't the only platform for the plot. Whatever her overall role is, and the role of each of the boys... I have no clue, and that's just how it should be. Add in the family secrets angle, and the fact that Skye will have to deal with that on top of everything else, and I think Davies has a firm launching point for a fantastic book. 

As for the cover... it is gorgeous! I really am loving the blue background, especially compared to the white and gray it was before. It isn't quite Heaven, and not quite Hell, but something hinting at the turmoil between. It also makes her dress stand out more, and I really just love her posture. Is she about to freefall off something, not knowing where she'll end up, or is she spreading her arms into the wind? Oh, and the title print is just awesome. Too bad September is half a year away...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Q&A With Lauren DeStefano

Along with several other bloggers, I recently had the chance to submit an interview question to Wither author Lauren DeStefano for a cumulative interview in celebration of her debut release. Instead of posting the whole thing for you guys, I decided to just post my question which is, of course, one of my favorites to ask authors:

If you could pair Rhine, Linden and Gabriel with any character from any book, who would your pick for each be?

I probably wouldn’t do that. It’s hard to imagine the characters in this world entering another world. But for Rhine, I would say that being paired up is the last thing she’d want. She’s a strong-willed girl who values freedom above all else; love is not something she’s ever thought to look for.

 So there you guys have it! Thank you, Lauren, for the answer, and congrats on the release! And make sure you guys all run out and pick up Wither, out today!

Teaser Tuesday

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

This week, I'm doing two teasers since, well, I'm working on two fantastic books.

First up is Wildefire by Karsten Knight: 
"Everything went still. She lay there, unmoving, watching the troubled night clouds billowing overhead, like the writing gray matter of a brain come to life. Her vision grew bleary as a pool of rain and tears filled her eyes in a thickening sheen." -- pg 36 in the ARC, subject to change.

And second is Supernaturally by Kiersten White:
"I did not scream like a little girl."
Flashing his dimples, he took a huge lungful of air and burst into an earsplitting—and decidedly little girlish—scream. “Like that. Only with crazier eyes and more flailing.”

So there you have it! My teasers for you lovely readers. And if the Supernaturally quote didn't tell you already, this one has just has much laugh out loud hilarious humor even when things are rough as Paranormalcy did.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Author Interview: Sybil Nelson

Here today, I have Priscilla the Great author Sybil Nelson hitting up my blog to answer some questions. But this isn't just any author interview. Nope. I gave Sybil the stipulation that her answers had to either directly relate to the book, or be actual lines from the book.

Describe Priscilla the Great in 6 words.

If Pippy Longstocking was an X-Men…

If you found yourself in Priscilla's situation, what would you do?

Hmmm…Shooting fire out of my fingers really isn’t a required skill for my day job as a biostatistian. I would probably just roast some marshmallows and call it a night.

What extraordinary gift would you want to have?

I would love to be able to freeze time. Ever since the days of playing Freeze Tag as a kid, I always thought that it would be cool to hit a real-life pause button. I would get so much done! Or I’d take a quick nap here and there.

You're stuck in a jail cell for a night. Which of your characters do you want to be stuck with and why?

Um, Priscilla, duh! She has super strength. She can break us out! My second choice would be Josh. At least he could keep me entertained by singing some Christina Aguilera songs!

It's Priscilla's 50th birthday. What does she do?

Tricks Kyle into buying her menopause medication! (This is an inside joke. You gotta read the book!)

What is your favorite time of day?

When my kids go to bed and I can get some writing done.

What kind of cookie would you describe yourself as?

Is there a cookie made of bacon? Cause that would be me.

First, BACON! Ahem. Second, thank you Sybil for those awesome answers!

Now make sure you guys all check out Priscilla the Great, and even better, you can even enter to win a Priscilla the Great prize pack! All you have to do is comment on any one of the posts (hey, like this one) in the blog tour, and you're entered! Simple, right?

Up for grabs is a signed copy of Priscilla the Great, a Priscilla the Great T-shirt and tote bag, and a $15 I-tunes gift card.

Mini Challenge Contest: Character Mishmash!

As part of Princess Bookie's contest craze, I'm hosting one of the mini challenges. And in Kari style, I'm turning my Ladies and Their Tramps feature over to you guys! What does that mean? You have to come up with a new YA couple, using characters from two different books!

Characters: Harlin from Suzanne Young's A Need so Beautiful and Kendall from Mindi Scott's Freefall.

Why: Harlin is the bad boy with the mushy inside. Quiet and intense, sweet and sexy. Kendall is fiery and can hold her own. Intricate and intelligent. She would be able to handle Harlin's bad boy side, and embrace the rest of him. He'd protect her, she'd pretend to let him while really protecting him back. They'd have a certain passion and intensity about them that would just explode.

See? Easy. Just give me the characters and their books, and why you think they'd make a great couple. Maybe they are completely polar opposites, or maybe just the right person to complete the picture. Have fun, be creative!

What can you win? Either a preorder of A Need so Beautiful (out in late June), or a copy of Freefall.

To enter, just leaving a comment telling what characters you'd couple together and why. They can be from any YA book, whether it's not yet out or has been out for awhile. Also leave your email so I can contact you if you win!

This contest IS international, so long as The Book Depository delivers to you. There will be two winners, one for each book.

Contest ends March 28.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In My Mailbox

I really have nothing exciting to say for the intro, but as always, I feel the need to put something. So insert fun intro here, and onto the books we go!

For Review:
Family by Micol Ostow
Die for Me by Amy Plim
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Nickel Plated by Aric Davis
Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi
My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff
Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
(Huge thanks to Egmont, Amy Plum + HarperTeen, Little Brown, Aric Davis, Claire LaZebnik + HarperTeen, Random House, Candlewick Press, and Emily Wing Smith)

Miles from Ordinary by Cynthia Lynch Williams (Thanks Melina!)
Father of Lies by Ann Turner (Thanks Sandy!)
Naomi and Ely by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (German translation of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, signed by Rachel Cohn)

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker (Signed from their launch!)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mini Challenge: Island Guests

Okay... so I really couldn't resist doing this mini challenge... not even because of the prize (though it is nice), but because of what it is. You can check out the full post here on A Casual Reader, but basically, if your backyward was a little island, what 5 guests would you invite? All guests have to be from books read in 2010/2011...

So, I'm thinking... Hammock and palm trees. Sand and water. Who ELSE would I want there with me but five hot boys?!?! And with that hotness in mind, here are the five hotties, I mean guests, I would choose:

Adrian from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead: Apart from being my all time favorite YA boy, he would most definitely bring humor and fun with him. Plus, I think I'd love to see how my own bantering skills would hold up against sardonic Adrian.

Harlin from A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young: Hello hotness. Harlin has a motorcycle. Um. Do I really need another reason? And he'd look really good shirtless. And even if he hit up my island's margarita bar, he would be the guy that makes sure no one goes swimming incapacitated. Because he's nice like that.

Seth from Freefall by Mindi Scott: Okay this one, believe it or  not, is less based on the hotness factor and more... he would be fantastic to talk to. So real and down to earth. Plus, I'd totally pick his brain about mastering my own boy POV in writing.

Kaleb from Hourglass by Myra McEntire: He'd be the first one to lose his pa--shirt. And he's a swimmer. With a swimmer's body. He is really just eye candy.

Will from Firelight by Sophie Jordan: Apart from being hot and nice to look at, just in case any dragons or other unexpected supernatural beasties showed up, Will would have us covered.

Book Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt


According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object—an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas—it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking—er, focusing on—Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.


The Short Version:
A well done mix of seriousness and romance, with an overall light and humorous air mixing in with the emotions and frustrations that Payton is enduring. With a very distinct voice and protagonist that jump off the page from the start, and a smooth progression of the events of the story, Sean Griswold's Head easily navigates every element easily. Though Payton can be a brat at times, and doesn't always connect the dots of even rather obvious things, she is relatable as a character and her full struggle is grabbing to read.

The Extended Version:
Payton's personality comes off vividly from page one, very Type A and certainly falling into the quirky category, and pitched a way that isn't annoying or frustrating, but rather amusing and understandable. Early on, however, she learns about her father's illness and the abrupt shift in her world has a clear impact on her. Leavitt smoothly portrays Payton's inability to cope, her sometimes frustrating reactions, and inserts plenty of moments of realization for Payton to see things at just the right moment she's ready. Payton goes through fantastic strides in personal growth, and makes some great changes while still holding plenty of aspects of who she was at the start.

Sean is sensitive and understanding, and has a smooth air about him without an overly cocky attitude. He takes things as they come, never getting too upset over small things but still is far from a doormat. He can be stubborn, but not so much that it's annoying or unrealistic, and overall, he makes not only a great love interest but a great friend. There are some cute scenes with Sean, filled with the airiness that comes with budding romance, while still also holding a strong point in the plot for more reasons than being Payton's focus object. He pushes her in ways she doesn't even see right away, and is as well developed and multidimensional as Payton herself.

Even with the focus of the book being on Payton and Sean, the secondary characters also hold strong presences throughout. From Payton's sprightly best friend, Jac, to Sean's out of the box friend Grady, they have very distinct personalities and a notable impact on Payton in one way or another. Her family, too, plays a strong role, and the dynamic both before the news and after comes through clearly and has a lasting effect.

Despite the rough patch Payton is going through, Leavitt does a fantastic job of making this an overall light and cute book. There are plenty of fun moments in it, and she has beautifully weaved a budding romance with everything else in a way that neither overpowers the other, and is very enjoyable to read. Even when Payton's family problems bleed into things with Sean, it is handled realistically and understandably. Nothing felt drawn out, even in Payton's lasting responses, and there was always something new coming in at just the right moment to propel the plot further.

Though some transitions felt awkward for me, especially in a few conversations, there is a smooth flow overall, with a steady plot pace. Leavitt uses some original ways to heal Payton, and though there are quite a few elements to this book, they aren't muddled or left dangling at the end. There are some bold truths in this one, pitched in a gentle way, and Payton gets hit with every one of them, letting the thought come to full fruition when she is ready. A few things were almost annoyingly obvious, but the reason Payton ignores them is explained or implied in a way that negates the frustration.

Leavitt's writing is flirty and fun, mixing between Payton's narration and stream of conscious, and her journal entries. Both hold the same very distinct voice, but is still intelligent and easy to read. There is a smooth flow to the writing, and it does a great job of showing the story and pulling the reader in.

This one is, first and foremost, a romance, but Leavitt has done a great job of blending in some harder issues and setting it up in a way that the diagnosis of Payton's father is the launching point for everything else. Even some potentially cliche romantic moments hold their own twist, without coming off as forced or there just to avoid the cliche. With a very swoonworthy love interest, a mess of a protagonist who is both stubborn and fierce in a soft way, and what is an enjoyable story line, Sean Griswold's Head is a great read for both a feel good and an emotional mood.

Source: ARC Received for review from author in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 288 pages 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Author Interview: Lindsey Leavitt

Taking over my blog this week is Lindsey Leavitt, author of Sean Griswold's Head, a great contemp with a little bit of emotional intensity, a little bit of romance, and a completely swoonworthy boy. So without further ado, I bring you Lindsey, and maybe some questions about Sean.

If Sean Griswold's Head was made into a movie, what would it's tagline be?

I LOVE the tagline they already have on the cover, so I’ll go with that.

What if the love of your life was literally right in front of you?

If there was one person who's head you could stare at for a year, who would it be?

My husband’s for romantic purposes (I don’t know what those purposes would be, but I’m not going to say Brad Pitt of something because that’s just a little creepy).

If you could pair Payton and Sean with any character from any book, who would your pick for each be?

Okay, this would be in a NON romantic way, because, you know, Payton + Sean= <3 4 ever.

Payton . Mmmm, Matilda from the mind of Mr. Dahl? She can be her little sister. Both of those girls need a sister.

And Sean…. Eli from Sarah Dessen’s ALONG FOR THE RIDE. Because they can be bike buddies.

What is the most private thing you're willing to share here?

Yikes. My shoe size. 8.

Wow, that felt good to get out.

What kind of plant would you describe yourself as?

A dandelion. Like to go where the winds of chance takes me.

Thank you, Lindsey, for those fantastic answers, and congrats on the release of Sean Griswold's Head!

Make sure you guys all check out this great book, out now!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Author Interview: Gwen Hayes

Here today I have the lovely Gwen Hayes, debut author of Falling Under, to answer some questions for me!

If you found yourself in Theia’s situation, would the hottie boy be worth losing your soul or would you find a way out of it?

I can promise you that Theia almost never does what I would do. She also never does what I ask her to do. Haden calls her a minx and he’s not wrong.

Haden has the chance to set up the perfect first kiss, even outside the confines of his world. What does he do?

I can’t tell you that because he DOES set up the perfect kiss in the sequel and it will make you all melty inside when you read it.

If you could pair Theia and Haden with any character from any book, would be your pick for each?

The thought of them romantically involved with anyone else makes my teeth hurt. But I would love to see Haden as a special guest in Morganville, hanging out with the Glass House characters (written by Rachel Caine). He’d love to play video games with Shane and Michael.

What is one of the worst nightmares you’ve had?

I have recurring dreams about tsunamis. Usually when I’m stressed out.

As a lover of pop culture, what’s your favorite bit so far in 2011?

Gosh, 2011 is still so young. The Darth Vader kid was cute. I love Betty White’s resurgence into iconhood. She’s like Chuck Norris. Oh, and I was pretty giddy about seeing Justin Bieber and the Church Lady together on SNL.

If you were a demigod, what god/goddess would be your parent?

All the gods and goddesses kind of scare me—but I like Athena. I think it’s cool that she’s simultaneously the goddess of crafts and war, ya know? Plotting battle strategies while knitting a scarf is pretty neat.

What kind of shoe would you describe yourself as?

Thank you, Gwen, for those answers!  And you are the first to give me an actual picture instead of a description!

So make sure you guys all check out Falling Under, out now, and hit up Gwen on twitter (@gwenhayes)!

Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick is Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess, coming June 14 from MTV Books.

Summary: A young woman struggles to escape the shadow of her mother's addiction and neglect in this story from the author of Such a Pretty Girl.

My Thoughts: Okay,  I know that isn't a particularly helpful summary but for me, that doesn't matter. Laura Wiess is without a doubt an autobuy for me, and just knowing that premise, and having read her three other books, it's all I need. It's guaranteed to be gritty and raw, emotional and intense, and so catastrophic but beautiful that it will take your breath away. Just think of the basics of this- a parent with addiction, that neglects the teen... a girl trying to figure it out and not get sucked under. Even with a more fleshed out summary, I honestly don't think it'd do any true justice to the full content of this book. I cannot wait, and this is a book I will be using my lunch break for to get to the store and buy. As for the cover, I do like this one. It's simple, it's a mix of light and dark, and I love the expression on the girl's face, and I like that her hair is a little messy on the edges, not quite perfectly put together. While I'm sad it won't match with the covers of her other three books that are much more simple, it's still one that the cover alone would make me pause.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz


Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....


The Short Version:
A great blend of light and hard emotion, with an unflinching realism and raw voice, Invincible Summer does a remarkable job of chronicling the life of one teenage boy across four summers. The transitions between the summers are smooth and clear, and the overall development in not only Chase but all the characters is astounding in scope and handled fantastically. The writing is easy and gives a strong voice to Chase, and the playout of the plot has so many twists and is filled with small intricacies that add up to something heartwrenching and beautiful.

The Extended Version:
Chase is likable from the start, a great brother and son, and easy to get along with. He’s intelligent and funny, starting out on the cusp of really hitting the teenage coming of age issues while still holding a certain softness and innocence. His love for his family is clear, and his yearning for his older brother, Noah, to stick around more says so much about his character early on. With each passing summer, Chase grows and learns, and his character development from start to finish is stark and vivid. The motivations and causes, the reactions and implications, were all handled beautifully and poignantly. Chase’s mindset and emotions changed not only with each new year as expected but also from the events that take place.

Noah is a character that most definitely will get a different reaction from every reader. Some will find reasons to dislike him, while others will be completely unable to no matter how much they might want to. He is seemingly flighty, but perceptive and bold in his actions. The dynamic between Noah and Chase plays a strong role in this book and is handled beautifully, showing both the good and bad of it, and nailing the push and pull. Even through Chase’s eyes, Noah’s character is well rounded, fully dimensional, and shines as something all his own. There is intrigue about him from the start, and the full scope of his actions and desires come to light with each passing summer.

Melinda, too, plays a very clear role in this book and is a multifaceted character. She has a depth that can't be described easily, much of which even Chase doesn’t completely understand, especially early on. She slips in and out of the story at just the right time, and her characterization is raw and gritty. She forces Chase to grow up in some unexpected ways, and forces him to accept and face some things that really drive his own development. Melinda is as memorable character as Chase and Noah, and there is a playout within the relationship of these three that is handled carefully yet poignantly.

The rest of the rather large cast of characters is also well defined, each one standing out in their own way. Chase’s parents very clearly love their children, and though even early on there is some tension between them, both are devoted to their children. Chase’s younger siblings, too, play a large role, from deaf but fantastically well done Gideon to Claudia, who goes through her own coming of age type plotline that shows up at just the right moments. The Hathaways—the family that has the beach house next to Chase’s and who also spend their summers there—have a great dynamic with them and also a great sibling set that plays in and out of Chase’s in a memorable, unique way.

There is a very strong family component to this book that not only builds Chase’s character but also the plot. Moskowitz does a remarkable job blending this element with everything else, and each new summer brings something unexpected and changing. The entire plot is played out only during the summers, with smooth transitions between each. The summarization of the in between eleven months is well scripted, with important parts being slipped in at just the right moment without ever taking away from the momentum and progression of the plot itself.

This book holds an array of issues and situations, some unexpected and some predictable yet their purpose is clear. It is emotional and raw, gutting and gripping, but Moskowitz doesn’t hold anything back. From the sex to the language to the emotions and fights, she includes everything a teenage boy would experience, think and go through. Chase’s narrative is completely spot on, absolutely unique to him while being readable and enjoyable for a range of ages and both male and female readers. There are several very poignant scenes that stand out, leaving a long lasting impression.

Also notable in this book is how smoothly the work of Camus is slipped in, never once pulling the reader out of the overall story. The quotes are completely relevant, and also give a great insight into the characters and their deeper thoughts. Not only is this addition unique, it’s well handled and not there just to try to get attention.

The writing is easy to follow, smooth in flow, and so often, Moskowitz speaks volumes in a few well done sentences. Rich in subtext, but with enough to make it clear what’s between the lines, this is a quick read page wise but astounding and in depth in scope. Not once did I stop to question something, nor did I ever feel like things were rushed unnecessarily. The pacing is steady, mixing powerful and emotional scenes with easier, lighter ones. Filled with banter and humor, Moskowitz breaks the tension at just the right moment and throws in plenty of softer scenes that will give the reader a beak before pushing on to some completely heartbreaking scenes that drive things to the final outcome.

From the well handled, stunning and emotional plot, to the smooth writing, and rounding out with a wide cast of very deeply developed characters and bold dynamics, Invincible Summer is a gorgeous coming of age that holds nothing back. This is a book that will leave a lasting impression and worm its way into the reader’s mind, where the full scope and extent of things gets stronger as time goes by. With unadulterated emotion and realism to tie everything together, and a very sympathetic and intricate protagonist, Moskowitz will reach a range of readers with this one.

Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 288 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 19, 2011