Saturday, June 28, 2008

Interview with Jennifer Echols

'Ello, everyone! I've got another interview here with Jennifer Echols, author of two good books called Major Crush and The Boys Next Door. Thank you, Jennifer, for doing this interview. And yes, I know they're the same questions as my last interview, but I think they're pretty accurate and basically ask what I need to know.

1. Why did you start writing?

Because I loved to read, but there was always something I wished I could adjust about every book I read. And the only way to do that, really, is to write your own.
2. Who/what inspired your stories?

So far my novels have been inspired by experiences I had when I was a teenager. I was the first female drum major of my high school marching band, which fueled Major Crush. I grew up on a lake in Alabama, which serves as the background for The Boys Next Door.

3. Did you always want to be an author?

I always wanted to be an author, an artist, or a musician. Sometimes one of these choices has prevailed over the others. Music was my first major in college, before I switched to English. But author has always been in the top three.
4. Could you see yourself doing anything else?

No. I wrote for a long time before I had any success. If I stopped having success now, I wouldn't stop writing. It becomes a part of you.
5. Is it difficult to write stories about fields of which you know nothing?

I don't think I've ever done this. If there's information I need to write a story, I go and find it. That said, I think it's important to remember that no matter what the background, a novel is mostly about relationships between people, and we all have plenty of experience with that.

6. How time-consuming is it?

Probably not as time-consuming as you might think. Lots of people tell me they would write a novel if they had the time. I don't have time either but I find the time. People who take years to write one novel probably aren't writing every day.

7. Do you feel it's rewarding?

When people invite me to be interviewed on their blogs, it definitely is! Thank you, V.

Thank you, Jennifer, for doing this interview! I look forward to reading your next book!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Graphic Request

You should all add the myspace Graphic Request. I'm friends with the owner, and besides being super nice, she's amazingly talented at anything related to making graphics and html code (which means cool things on websites) and all that. So go check it out and enjoy!


How NOT to Spend Your Senior Year by Cameron Dokey

How NOT To Spend Your Senior Year is a novel that I thought was, in all honesty, good, but not amazing or anything like that. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if I had to force myself to read this, but I thought the characters and the situation were pretty unrealistic. My favorite part in the book, though, comes when she pretends to be someone else... You'll find out why soon enough.

Anyway, this book tells of Jo O'Connor, who has spent her whole life moving around. She's pretty much an expert on starting over at new schools. So when she moves to Seattle, she's really not expecting anything different from any other town.

But what happens is that she meets a guy who is cute, popular, and likes her. Then she meets Elaine and bam! She's settled in. So when her dad tells her she has to move again, she really doesn't want to.

Her dad finally explains why they've been moving around for so long- he was the witness of Jo's mom's murder, and is one of the few who knows what the criminal looks like. So obviously, there's a bad guy following them.

And that's how she ends up going to a different high school in town, acting as a different person, and Jo is somehow dead. All to throw off meanie murderer guy. However, Jo feels that she needs to tell Elaine and Alex (the guy she liked) what really happened. She tells Elaine without any trouble, but when she tries to tell Alex, he thinks that it's her ghost who came back, and that's what he tells everyone.

In her new high school, Jo (Now known as Claire) joins the newspaper, and ends up at her old high school, doing a newspaper exchange. And her old high school? They all think that her ghost is about to come back again. Suddenly, Jo is everything she never was when she was "alive". Known, popular, cared about.

So she tries to set the record straight with Alex, but it all goes pretty wrong when a fellow reporter from her new school, Mark London, says he knows her secret. Desperate to protect her dad, and knowing that if this gets out it will make it pretty clear that they're hiding, she denies everything, and tells him he's just insane. The result? He wants proof.

So at the old school's prom, where everyone's sure Jo's ghost is going to appear, Claire is desperate to figure out what to do. But she does, and the record is set straight- Jo's ghost is never coming back.

Not too long after, the bad guy is caught, and Jo can go back to being herself. During the whole shindig with Jo's ghost, Jo learns that Elaine is in love with Alex, and she tells him to ask her to prom, so they end up together, and Jo is now guy-less. But all of you romance fans out there, fear not. Because, surprise surprise, Mark, annoying reporter guy, shows up at his doorstep, and they realize they're in love and all that.

One thing I did not like about this book was how completely unbelievable some parts of it were. But it was a good book, and I have to admit I was not expecting Jo to end up with Mark and not Alex, so it wasn't as if it was completely unpredictable.

All in all, this book gets a 7 out of 10. Not going on my top 10 list, but it was another fun read.

Major Crush by Jennifer Echols

The first thing I thought when I started reading Major Crush was, Whoa, this book is confusing. It starts mid-scene, like a lot of books do, but the beginning of this book had a 'beginning at the end' kind of vibe, and I got stuck on that. Not that it's a bad thing, though. Because once I caught up, I couldn't even look away from it.

This book tells of Virginia Sauter, an ex-pageant girl who decides to ditch the pageant circuit and try out for drum major (don't ask me how, she just did). I don't really understand much of how this whole drum major thing works, but what I did understand was that the other drum major, the incredibly cute Drew, is not happy to be working with her.

It's a tradition in his family for the men to be drum majors, and Drew is no exception. In fact, this is his second year as drum major, but definitely the first time in a while that the title was shared- especially with a girl. Most of the people in band are upset, and after a bad game for the band, everyone seems to hate Virginia.

The new band teacher (a really cool character in my opinion) tells them they either have to work together, or he will fire both of them. So as Virginia and Drew try to learn to work together, make the show better, and get along and not hate each other, they start falling in love. Go figure, right?

I guess that's all I can say about the plot without revealing too much. Now, as for my opinion, these books are sort of my guilty pleasure, because I read them all the time. In fact, I have four sitting next to me, I'm planning on getting more on my next visit to the library, and I've read tons already.

So of course I love this book. It's nothing life-changing, it doesn't have a glaringly obvious moral that taught me how to be a better person, but I can definitely relate to the situation, and anyone who's ever had any position of leadership definitely can.

The book does talk about one hard-hitting issue. Racial segregation. And it might not have made me cry, but it was definitely true.

And now comes the time to rate the book. On a scale from one to ten, I say I'd give it a 9. Not in the 'Oh-my-God-this-is-an-amazing-book-that-will-change-my-life-forever' way, but it was definitely a fun read, and I look forward to reading more of her books!

Interview with Wendy Toliver

Hey guys! Today I've got an exclusive interview (Doesn't that sound cool?) with Wendy Toliver, author of The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, and the upcoming novel, Miss Match. Thank you, Wendy, for answering all my questions, and I'm going to try to review your book as soon as possible!

1. Why did you start writing?
I've always been drawn to the arts. Writing has always been natural for me, from writing letters to novels. I started off in non fiction and copy writing, then evolved to fiction. I love writing YA fiction and I hope I get to do it for quite some time!

2. Who/what inspired your stories?
My first novel was inspired by Greek mythology. I just love ancient myths, and found the sirens important yet misunderstood characters. I stirred in some imagination and, voila!, The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren was born. For my second novel, matchmaking has always been a hobby of mine, and I wanted to write a story that celebrated young love as well as sisters. I had a blast writing it, and am excited that its setting is Utah, where I now live.

3. Did you always want to be an author?
Nope. I was ancient before the idea struck. But once I got the inkling, I didn't give up. That's why I'm an author today!

4. Could you see yourself doing anything else?
Yes. I loved working for an advertising agency. Other occupations I enjoy are acting and public relations.I also like schmoozing, so anything that has to do with wining and dining people would be fun, too.

5. Is it difficult to write stories about fields of which you know nothing?
Yes, but it's worthwhile to expand my horizons.

6. How time-consuming is it?
Research is the main time-gulper. Thanks to the internet, though, information is readily available. I also like to interview people because it gives me a human angle on something I'm unfamiliar with.

7. Do you feel it's rewarding?
Yes! For example, I had to research and interview medical professionals to make sure my hospital scene in The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren was as accurate as possible. When readers tell me they actually cried during that scene, it validates all the time and effort I put into it.

Thank you so much for this, and guys, keep on the lookout for new reviews and more interviews with authors coming soon!

Lucky T by Kate Brian

So yes, this is my latest book. Lucky T, by Kate Brian, tells of the incredibly lucky Carrie Fitzgerald, who along with a perfect boyfriend and an amazing best friend, has straight As, is the only sophomore on the varsity basketball team, and had just about the perfect life. So when she loses her lucky t-shirt (to which she owes everything, as it is told in an very long narrative of when her luck turned around) because her mom's friend accidentally donated it to a women's shelter in India, drama ensues. So what's the logical thing to do? Go to India and try to find it, of course!

And so Carrie ends up on a plane to India with her mom's best friend, Celia, and Doreen (or should I say Dor-mean?), where they are going to volunteer by building houses. Carrie wasn't thinking of actually volunteering, but she ends up with a hammer and a bunch of nails, building a house along with the other volunteers. But when Dor-mean pisses her off, they end up messing up the recently poured cement, which, obviously, pisses everyone off. So Carrie leaves and goes on a search for her t-shirt around Calcutta.

This search doesn't take her to the shirt at all, but it does get her to meet a cute guy when she walks into him. He introduces himself as Dee (romantic interest, people!) and as was expected, they "connect". She tells him about the horrible day she had at the construction site, and he tells her that, surprise surprise, they're looking for volunteers at the orphanage where he works. So of course, she takes the offer, and the kids love her and all that good stuff.

Dee and Carrie are getting to know each other, but at the same time, they fight twice and he tells her she should leave, even though she doesn't. But after a one-on-one game of basketball, which she wins, he says he'll help her find her shirt and he'll also show her his Calcutta.

And everything is good, of course, and she's falling in love with him and all that, when she finds her t-shirt, decides that she doesn't need it, and goes back home without her t-shirt, but without her superstitions either.

In my opinion, it is a really good book if you like this genre. It teaches you that superstitions are somewhat ridiculous, and that you do control your destiny. And being big on volunteering myself, I like how much of it she did. The kids at the orphanage were adorable, and I can see why Dee was always so serious about volunteering there. It really makes me want to do that one summer, in all honesty.

As always, Kate Brian did a great job getting her point across, and her characters and the situation were believable (for a book). I mean, everyone knows someone who is superstitious, don't they?

I've decided to rate the books I read, and in a scale of one to ten, this book gets an 8. Kudos to Kate Brian for being such a good writer!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

Yes, I know, it's another Meg Cabot book. But hey, I need to review books I've read, so there ya go. Anyway, this book is about Katie Ellison, who's one of the most popular girls at her school, and also one of the smartest. She's dating the adorable Seth Turner, a football player, member of the Quahogs.

She lives in Eastport, Ct, which is basically the home of quahogs, these clams or oysters or whatever that are supposed to be really good, except she doesn't like them. But everyone does, so she lies about it.

Also, she's making out with the drama club hottie behind her boyfriend's back, but, of course, she lies about that. The title make sense now?

The biggest lie she's telling, however, is about the night Tommy Sullivan is a freak is spray-painted on the wall of the brand-new gym at the middle school. Why was it? Because Tommy was the one who told everyone, through a newspaper article, that the stars of the football team had cheated on their SATs because their proctor was a former Quahog, and let them get away with it. When the article came out, the Quahogs had to forfeit the state championship for the first time in about 10 years that they'd been winning, which meant that everyone hated Tommy now.

And Katie? Katie used to be friends with Tommy, as he was his editor in the middle school newspaper, and they were a team. She took the pictures, he wrote the stories. When he found out about this, he was expecting Katie to agree with him, but she didn't, because she knew everyone would hate them. She tried to stop him, but it didn't work.

Then one night, Tommy Sullivan is a freak appeared on the gym wall, and that summer, Tommy left Eastport, having been ran out of the town, I suppose.

Now, it's the summer before Katie's senior year, and what is she doing? Working, making out with Eric Fluteley (drama club guy) in the parking lot of the restaurant, making out with Seth in his car, and participating in the local pageant, competing for the title of Quahog Princess.

Don't worry, though, she's only doing it for the money. Because she's been working towards a new camera for a while now, and the moneys she'd get for placing would be enough to buy her the camera.

So everything is fine, and Katie is happy, until her brother, Liam, a future Quahog, tells her Tommy Sullivan is back. She doesn't know why, but of course, she assumes he's there to get her.

And as my good friend Chelle says, drama ensues, as she tries to avoid him, not let anyone realize he's there, and keep her lips off of his.

Sound good? It's actually a really good book. I liked it, and as usual, anyone who's a fan of Cabot would enjoy it. It's honestly sort of funny, how she ends up lying about everything. But hey, she tells the whole truth at the end.

Read it. I recommend it. In fact, it gets my seal of approval. So go ahead and get it at the library or book store, because you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

I know, old book, but it's the one I read last night, so I figured I might as well start with something that's still fresh in my mind.

This book tells about Jenny Greenley, your average girl-next-door who everyone likes. She's a good student, she's in the school choir, and she's the advice columnist for her school newspaper. Anyway, so she's got this nice life going on, nothing special but not bad either.

Going on. Jenny lives in the boring town of Clayton, Indiana, where there is nothing to do. So of course, you can anticipate that there's going to be some plot-twist that will shake up the town. Okay, so this plot twist? It might have something to do with the fact that Luke Striker, the Zac Efron of this story, is coming to her school disguised as Lucas Smith for a character study. And of course, who else would be better to show him around that Little Miss Reliable?

So now Jenny has to show Luke Striker around, which means that he just follows her everywhere, all day. And she's not supposed to tell anyone who this is. Of course, though, she won't. The problem is, she also has to make sure no one else finds out who he is, and that includes his number one fan, Jenny's best friend, Trina.

Now, there is one person I've neglected to mention, and he is somewhat important to the story. This guy is Scott Bennett, the editor-in-chief and one of the few people who knows she's Annie from Ask Annie. It's fairly obvious to the reader that she likes him, but she herself doesn't realize it for a while.

Before I get off-track again, I need to explain something. All in all, the book has a 'let's-change-the-school's-social-structure' vibe. Like all of Meg Cabot's books, the characters are genuine, and the storyline believable enough to not sounds like Barbie-land without being too real and well, boring.

I don't wanna reveal anything, so I have t be extra careful with what I say, but the biggest change in the book is Jenny. She goes from being the smoother-over to the kind of girl who says what she thinks, and tries to change the way things are, and she does. She gets the school's social reject to go from, well, a pariah to someone okay.

The book teaches you that you shouldn't just follow what the popular kids say, because at the end of the day, it's not worth it.

One thing I didn't like was Jenny, at first. She struck me as this 'woe is me' kind of girl, and honestly, it bugged me. But then again, Cabot's characters are real people; I wouldn't be surprised if millions of girls saw themselves in this book.

The moral of the story (mine, not the book's), is if you have ever read one of Cabot's book, then go ahead and read it. It wouldn't make my list of top 10 faves, but it's worth the read.

Hey, y'all

My name is Valentina, and I am the poster child for bookworms. I swear I doubt there's any people out there who read as much as I do. Anyway, the whole point of this was because I wanted to review books so people could come to my blog and see if there's any they like. Does that make any sense? I'm a book-reviewer. I'll tell you about books I've read, and what I thought, and hopefully, I'll help you choose what books to read. Sound good?

Anyway, that's all you really need to know about me, so excuse me while I go get one of the books I've read to review it. Ta-ta!