Friday, October 29, 2010

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Let me start by saying this is NOT a YA novel. I've appreciated Dennis Lehane for a long time and try to indulge in reading his books from time to time. This has a release date of November 2nd.  Here's a blurb about the book from Mr. Lehane's website:
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. The pair risked everything to find the young girl—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.

Now Amanda is sixteen—and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is once more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman—a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks.

My Take
I was supposed to go hear Mr. Lehane speak, but wound up feeling punky that night and decided not to go.  Bummer.  Also I received this ARC from Harper Collins.  I feel that Dennis Lehane is the master of the analogy.  He has a humorous way of looking at things and his characters are always rich with development.  Patrick was the quintessential hard boiled investigator but he was so much more too.  He's now a family man and his priorities have changed.  He's so knowlegeable about human nature and that of the criminal mind.  I found myself wishing I could write characters with that deep innate knowledge, but realized how unrealistic that would be for a teen. 

There's a fair amount of swearing in this, which I personally kinda' like.  What can I say, I'm a bit of a curser myself.  There were things that had me laughing out loud (yes literally) in this book.  And Lehane is always good with a twist or surprise.  This is no different.  There were a couple of things that had me saying, "Whoa, dude."  So if you'd like something different, check it out.  Again, this is set to be released November 2nd.
One of my favorite lines: "There were about forty different ways I hadn't cased the place properly.  I'd driven around the front so slowly a three-legged basset hound with hip dysplasia could have lapped me."
I'm giving this one four solid swaks!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harper Collins. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with Beth Fehlbaum, Author of HOPE IN PATIENCE

Today I'm so excited to welcome Beth Fehlbaum to my blog. Beth was kind enough to answers my questions about her book HOPE IN PATIENCE, that is being released tomorrow, October 27, 2010. Congratulations Beth! Before we dive into the questions, here's a bit about HOPE IN PATIENCE.

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Asher has spent half of her life living in fear. Her stepfather has been sexually abusing her for years, but her mother doesn't believe her. After his latest assault lands her in the emergency room, Child Protective Services finally removes Ashley from her home, and sends her to live with the father she barely remembers and his new family.

Her new life in Patience, Texas, is much better. She's in therapy to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is trying to make her way in a new high school. She's getting used to living with her father, stepmother, and stepbrother, and she's made new friends in the summer course taught by her stepmother, Bev. She even joins the track team at the urging of her new African American friend, Z. Z.

But Ashley is so traumatized by her past that she sometimes scratches herself until she bleeds and sleeps in her armoire, even though she knows she's safe now. Worse, when her stepfather is finally put on trial for hurting her, she learns that truth and justice don't always go together. Will Ashley adjust to a better life? Will she trust enough to date Josh, the cute guy on her track team who likes her? YA readers will be caught up in the heart-pounding story of a damaged girl trying to heal herself and get on with the rest of her life.

You can find more info about Beth and her wonderful books at

Okay, now for those questions. My comments will be in purple and Beth's responses will be in the usual white.

This book deals with some heavy topics. Do you think it’s important for kids to be able to read about these problems?

Absolutely! I make a point of showing that nobody’s life is perfect. As a good friend of mine says, “Life is messy.” It’s important that all kids be able to find themselves in literature. For people who are not enduring some of the problems in my books like abuse, homophobia, racism, or religious fanaticism, reading about other people’s experiences with those things is a way of inspiring compassion for what the person next to you in class may be going through. ~I couldn't agree with you more Beth. Very important points you made.

Did writing these books help you in your own healing process?

Yes. I wrote my first book, COURAGE IN PATIENCE, as a way of working through the pain I was processing in therapy for my own recovery from childhood sexual abuse. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that my mother chose her husband, my abuser, over me, and that she saw what I was going through as “all my problem”. It was my therapist’s suggestion that I try writing a novel, and it didn’t come easy. It took me about 4 months of stopping and starting because I kept ending up in the same place of rage, grief, and disbelief—of trying to understand and asking, “Why, why, why?” The thing is, there is no answer to that question—none that’s acceptable, anyway, because there is no excuse for a child to be sexually abused—ever.

It was through writing COURAGE IN PATIENCE through the eyes of someone else—15 year old Ashley Nicole Asher—that I was able to come to know for myself what my therapist had been telling me: what happened to me was not a reflection of my worth as a person. I wrote HOPE IN PATIENCE when I was struggling with the notion of acceptance of the way things are. It took me a long time to get to that point. ~It is a process and I'm so glad that the outlet of writing helped in your healing journey.

I think our parents (like it or not) tend to be the people we allow deepest into our hearts and our psyche. Do you feel the betrayal by Ashley’s mother is as abusive as what she suffered at the hands of Charlie? How do you feel about the damage caused by her mother?

When a child makes an outcry of abuse to a parent and the child is not believed , or is believed but nothing is done to remove the perpetrator from the situation, a feeling of worthlessness sets in and just stays. Children tend to be angrier at the parent who did not protect them than the abuser. I’d say it’s a tie in terms of damage done to Ashley. Cheryl seeing Ashley as competition for her husband and Charlie treating Ashley as an object rather than a person did extensive damage to her emotionally and physically. ~It was heartbreaking but makes the fact that Ashley goes on to heal and thrive all the more powerful, I think.

What did you find most difficult about writing the Patience books?
Writing the rape scene in COURAGE IN PATIENCE was very, very difficult. At first, it made me physically ill to write it. The scene in Cheryl’s hospital room in HOPE IN PATIENCE was wrenching to write—but when I finished writing it, I knew that I had come a very long way in terms of acceptance of the situation in my own life, and I knew that Ashley would eventually realize what I had come to know. ~I can imagine that was a very emotionally exhausting and difficult scene to write.

Any new projects you’re currently working on?
I’m a teacher during the school year so I mainly write my novels during the summer. This past summer, I began writing the third book in the PATIENCE series, TRUTH IN PATIENCE. I expect this to be the last book in the PATIENCE series, although it’s possible I may write another, depending if I think I’m through telling Ashley’s story. I do intend to continue writing, though. I’m interested in writing a YA realistic fiction novel with a teen with a compulsive overeating disorder. At some point I may write a memoir of sorts of my own recovery from childhood sexual abuse. ~How exciting! We'll be sure and watch for TRUTH IN PATIENCE.

What message do you hope teens, and others take away from Hope In Patience?
I want those who may be in abusive situations to know that they are not alone, and that there is hope for recovery. I also want to encourage all teens to know that regardless of what they are struggling with, they have the power within themselves to face what frightens them most and overcome it. ~Wonderful words, and yes, I would hope they reach out to somone for help.

Okay now for a few lighter questions:

What is your writing schedule?
Do you write everyday or several times per week, etc.? During the summer I try to keep a regular schedule of writing from 9 a.m. to at least 5 p.m. During the school year, I do a lot of mental prewriting and when an idea comes to me for the story I’m weaving in my head, I write it on a sticky note and put it on my desk. ~Gotta' love those post-its.

What’s your favorite thing to munch on while writing?
I don’t eat while I’m writing, but I usually chew sugarless gum and drink Crystal Light. I used to be heavily addicted to Diet Coke but I gave it up. I haven’t written an entire novel without my Diet Coke muse, so I guess we’ll find out this summer if that was the secret to my writing! ~Okay, you're definitely one strong lady. I have a Diet Dr. Pepper habit that I just can't seem to kick.

What book has really shaped you and influenced your most in life?
The very first YA realistic fiction I read that made me realize I could tell the stories inside my head was STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES, by Chris Crutcher. His work has influenced me tremendously. ~Oh a wonderful new book recommendation! Thanks for that, I'll be sure to read it.

What one piece of advice would you give new writers?
Just write. Don’t get all hung up on finding an agentselling your work until you’ve written the best manuscript you can. Write for the joy of writing; for me, writing is a way of processing what’s inside my head… allowing it to trickle down my arm and come out my fingertips. I don’t know what I’d do without it! You have to really love it for the way it makes you feel, above all else. ~Amen to that! And great words of wisdom.

I want to thank Beth for taking the time to answer my questions. Please be sure and check out her Patience books. Also, please leave a comment for her here and swing by her website sometime.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girl, Stolen by April Henry and Interview News

Here's a bit about the book from April Henry's website: Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is asleep in the back of her mom's car when it's stolen from the pharmacy parking lot. Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia—she's also blind. Griffin, the teenager who was stealing packages out of parked cars, hadn't meant to kidnap her; he just impulsively stole the car with her in it. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of Nike, everything changes—now there's a reason to keep her. Will Cheyenne be able to survive this harrowing ordeal and escape? And if so, at what price?

My Take

This is one of the books in The Contemps Challenge.  Wow, holy super suspensful Bookies!  I read this book quickly (1 day) because it was so on the edge of your seat amazing.  Cheyenne is this strong, centered character.  She's been through so much adversity and come out the other side.  Will she make it through this inadvertent kidnapping?

Every chapter ended in a place that you simply had to turn the page and read more.  This book spoke to the depths of the dark side of humanity.  However, it also spoke of personal strength and the resiliance of the human spirit.  How even amongst all the darkness, there can live someone with a good spirit. 

Go check it out!  I'm giving it 4 big super kisses!  **By the way, tune in tomorrow to read my interview with the author of Hope In Patience, Beth Fehlbaum.  I hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce

Here's a quick blurb from the Harper Collins website: Big Nate will surpass all others!

But it wont be easy. He's stuck with Gina, his all time enemy, who just might ruin everything!

Will Nate win or lose? Pass or fail? Or end up in detention . . . again?

My Take
Sometimes it's fun just to take a step back in time.  I read YA most of the time, but occasionally I love me some Middle Grade.  This little MG jewel is along the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I read this book all in one sitting that took a couple, few hours.  Nate is funny.  I laughed more than once and throughly enjoyed this quick little read with the fun pictures included.  The only thing I didn't like was the fact that Nate is self-centered and pretty much remains that way.  I loved learning about Fleeceball and felt for Nate having to live with the name Kuddle Kittens for his team.  Oh and now, I see Ben Franklin in a whole new light.   I'm giving this fun little read 3 1/2 big kissies!  :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an Advance Reader's Edition of this book free from Harper Collins. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

Here's a quick blurb from goodreads: All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself and igniting Ella's rage. As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter. Adele Griffin's riveting novel explores the issues of generation Facebook: the desire to be someone else, real versus online friends, and the pitfalls and fallouts of posting your personal life online for all the world to judge.
My Take

First of all I would like to thank goodreads who I won this book from.  Go check them out at if you aren't familiar with them.
Wow, Ella is one mean biotch!  This book felt authentic to me.  With a son who's about to head to high school, it felt frighteningly authentic.  Being a teenager is rough enough, but trying to escape the clutches of the cruel Ella (get it, like Cruella - okay nevermind) is downright scary. 

I'm not sure what I want to say addressing the fact that Ella has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Her compulsive habits were mentioned throughout the book, but not as being anything unusal.  I have no idea if Ella or anyone else realized she has OCD. 

I enjoyed the story and really liked Raye's friend Natalya, whose family pulled Raye in as one of their own.  Natalya is super smart and self respecting.  She knows the score isn't to let some guy use you, no matter how hot he is.  Definitely a good read about the true value of friendship and the importance of self esteem.  I'm giving this read 4 berry-licious kisses!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from goodreads as part of their first reads program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Thursday, October 14, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I know everyone in all likelihood knows what this book is about, and has probably read it.  I however, had not.  I will post a quick bit from goodreads on here: Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic, Puliter Prize-winning novella, a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus's children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.

My Take
Please do not send me hate mail.  That's all I ask.  While I loved the overall message behind this book, I personally wasn't thrilled with the book as a whole.  I became mired in extreme descriptive nature of everything.  I kept waiting for something to happen to really draw me in to this story. 

Once the trial came about, that really solidified it for me.  That pulled me in and I was cruising along through it.  But, that was a fair amount of the way through the book.  The railing out against the hideousness of racism and learning that the world is not always a fair and just place.  That in itself is a tough lesson.  I appreciated the deeply steeped principles that Atticus lived and raised his children with.  The fact that you can never really know someone until you can place yourself in their skin.  Tolerance and understanding, two virtues that in many places, have remained unknown.  In this day and age, that is a sad statement indeed.

I like the characters.  Miss Maudie Atkinson, Atticus, Calpernia, Jem, Scout and Dill.  I thought they were endearing and loveable.  I could almost see each one of them.  It's been forever since I've seen the movie too, so I really didn't have that to go by. 

Since this book was written, I believe writing has changed drastically.  There's much more action in novels now.  The writing is tight and sparse on descriptors.  I cringe because I know I've set quite a few people's teeth on edge saying all of this.  I'll just stop now and say I'm giving this one 3 kisses!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Here's a super short blurb from Ms. Dessen's website: Rogerson Biscoe, with his green eyes and dark curly
hair, is absolutely seductive. Before long, sixteen-year-old Caitlin finds herself under his spell. And when he starts to abuse her, she finds she's in too deep to get herself out.

My Take
This was my first time reading a Sarah Dessen novel.  I really liked this one and have a couple more on my list soon.  In the beginning you really feel for Caitlin, her sister taking off and on her birthday nonetheless.  Then she meets Rogerson.  Things seem to be going so well.  Well, except for the fact that he never really takes her anywhere and she's becoming always going on his 'appointments' with him...and now she's smoking tons of pot. She is trying to find her way, a unique path apart from her older sister, whose shadow she's been living in for so long.  She thinks she's on the right path.  Then Rogerson hits her!  Things only get worse from there.
It was so draining to watch Caitlin spiral down the rabbit hole.  I think the fact that Ms. Dessen makes you feel as though you're being emotionally pulled down with Caitlin is a plus.  We get to experience all this right along with her. 
You pray for someone to see the hideousness that is happening.  It's a long time before they actually do and it's only because they are slammed in the face with it all.  I think this is a great read for teenage girls.  I hope they all have enough self confidence to say no to the Rogersons of this world and to tell someone what's happening to them.  I'm giving this one 3 1/2 kisses!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Karma Bites by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Here's a quick bite from the books website: Life kind of bites for Franny Flanders. Her best friends hate each other, her parents are recently divorced, and her crazy grandmother has just moved in. Franny can’t seem to catch a break. The only karma she’s got is bad karma.

Franny’s not sure she can take another moment of her miserable life in suburban New Jersey. She considers heading to Canada on a Greyhound bus, in search of greener pastures. But just when things are at their absolute worst, help arrives in the strangest of ways.

Franny finds a box of recipes, hidden deep in the bowels of her hippie grandmother’s closet. These aren’t just ordinary recipes. They’re magical recipes. Fantastical, delicious, enchanted recipes that could fix all of her problems and possibly even change the world. Recipes so amazing, they could get her best friends speaking, alter the social order of middle school and maybe even get her parents back together again. Life is finally looking up. Way up.

But magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when you’re a novice. Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren’t to be toyed with. Turns out, when you mess with the universe, it can bite back. Hard.

My Take
I got this book through the Traveling ARC Tours. This was a fun little book full of little messages.  If I found a box that could make my desires a reality, it would tough not to abuse that priviledge I think.  Being twelve doesn't make it any easier.  Poor Franny gets in over her head before too terribly long. 
Franny was a great character.  Things are turned upside down for Franny and she thinks with the help of the box, she can set things right again.  I loved the fact that the recipes and directions for all the things were included in the book.  I really need to copy them to use later.  Such fun! 
My favorite character was Franny's Granny.  She is a total hoot.  What fun to have a granny like Mathilda.  This book was terrific!  I would say it's middle grade.  Maybe upper middle grade, since it's kind of a long book.  Nice clean fun with nothing too terrible.  Favorite line: "The light in me honors the light in you."  ;)
I'm giving this one 3 1/2 smooches!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Here's a quick bite from Denise Jaden's website: A terrible secret. A terrible fate. When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

My Take
One of the things I liked about this book was the fact that Brie was the fact that her mourning was not cliche.  It was messy and confusing.  Brie and Faith were so different and I thought it was great to see those differences. 
I think one of the hardest things for people to process is loss.  Adults have a hard time with it, let alone teens.  Brie's friends aren't sure what to say to her or how to behave around her.  I like the character of Tessa, who she becomes friends with.  Alis was great as well.  I'm hoping there may be another book to this down the line. 
I loved the part in the end between Brie and her mother.  The fact that Tessa kinda' found herself through it all.  Oh and growing up one of my best friends name was Rena.  Alis's sister is Reena.  Interesting enough the book I'm currently reading (Dreamland) has a character name Rina also.  Just a funky little coincidence I thought I would mention.  This book was fast paced, well written, wonderful book.  I'm giving it four kisses!

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