Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Author Interview - Georgia Clark!

So, on Monday I reviewed Georgia Clark's new YA dystopia, Parched (check out my review here). Today, I'm lucky enough to welcome Georgia to the blog to answer a few questions! 

Photo from Georgia Clark's Goodreads page 

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs to write your newest book, Parched?

I started working on Parched the year I moved to New York from Sydney: 2009, towards the end. I handed in the final manuscript to my publishers at the end of 2013. But I was working on it on and off, and the first draft barely resembles the final one. It took a long time, because I was basically teaching myself how to write a full-blown dystopian sci-fi as I went.

2. What kind of research did you do to write a book about a teen living in a domed city because the outside environment was considered unlivable?

I did a lot of research! I listened to podcasts about artificial intelligence, interviewed scientists and other experts, talked to smart friends, subscribed to Popular Science magazine, read similar YA titles etc etc. most of my research centered around AI and robotics, which I didn't know much about when I started working, but am somewhat of an expert in now. I've even given talks on it, here in Brooklyn!

3. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?

The only topics I’d feel the need to secretly explore would be topics that would be risky for me. The very real danger that feminist journalists are getting into over #GamerGate is frightening, but so important they’re speaking up. So something like that. Everything else I’d slap my name on and yell it from the rooftops!

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?

Assuming money was no object? I’d love to go scuba-diving in the Greek Isles. This would feed my fondness for sun, the ocean, and olive oil. I also really need to try the Salted Caramel ice cream at Blue Marble in Park Slope. I’ve heard it’s amazing.

Quick picks list:

Favorite vacation destination – The Amalfi Coast, Italy. My friends and I stayed in a 4-story, 400-year-old villa there for a week last summer. Thank you Air BnB! Truly spectacular part of the world.

Favorite childhood book – I inhaled Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone series. Classic YA fantasy. Also loved Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series: fantastic, highly imaginative early chapter series.

Favorite writing snack food - Financier’s chocolate macaroons. Little slice of heaven, right there. I always spend ten minutes critically assessing every delicious-looking pastry in their display cabinet, then get the same thing every time.

Favorite clothing item - I have a great pair of beautiful tan leather boots I bought in Bologna, Italy, many years ago that are still going strong. And, like every Brookline, I have a khaki-green cotton parka that I basically live in.

Thank you so much, Georgia, for stopping by to visit today! 

Author Bio
I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and spend a lot of time hanging out with improvisers and searching for the perfect pair of skinny jeans. I love Katniss, Katsa, Karou, Clary, Grace, Puck, Lena—you get the picture.

Places to Contact Georgia:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brunette Ambition

Brunette Ambition 
by Lea Michele

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way. (Description from

I like to flip through a lot of non-fiction "lifestyle" books.  I dabble in books on diet, fashion, and decor but I don't often truly read them from start to finish. When my friend Jen over at yabooknerd reviewed this one I was immediately curious and requested it through interlibrary loan. I was hesitant to let my hopes build up too much because I often find celebrity books to be either knowingly pretentious or to just be written as if we all had enough money and time to live as they do and thus, unknowingly unrealistic. 

I was pleasantly surprised that though, there were a few moments like that here, they were few and far between.  For the most part Lea Michele seems down to earth and the tips she gave and stories she shared seemed well chosen for a large audience.  I liked that she threw in tips on every part of a healthy and happy lifestyle - from loving yourself to choosing and cherishing good friends, to staying  healthy and stress-free, to looking and feeling great! It was not only a fun book to flip through, but one that I actually sat down and READ.  I even took it back to work and photocopied some of the exercise and recipe pages.  

A much better read than I'd anticipated. 

Full Disclosure: Borrowed through Interlibrary Loan

Monday, October 27, 2014


by Georgia Clark

Sixteen-year-old Tess lived in Eden, a seemingly idyllic, domed city where access to information and water is regulated by the governing Trust. After a rogue robot killed her scientist mother, Tess fled with a terrible secret to the desperate, arid Badlands, where she’s recruited by Kudzu, explained to her as a “nonviolent collective working to undermine the Trust and free the Badlands.” Learning Kudzu plans to destroy Aevum, the Trust’s latest advanced robot, Tess reluctantly returns to Eden, where she finds the luxurious life morally unconscionable and secretly trains with Kudzu. Living with her uncle, who’s involved with Aevum, Tess is strangely attracted to his sympathetic assistant, Hunter. During a Kudzu raid on the Trust’s lab, Tess discovers that Aevum will be used to eradicate all inhabitants of the Badlands—and that Hunter’s not what he seems to be. (Description from

Okay, the very fist thing I am going to say is don't judge this book by it's poorly chosen cover! I don't know who designed it but it is somewhat off-putting. It's very unfortunate, too, because I was hooked on this book from page one! 

Clark is gifted with the ability to set the atmosphere and settings for this book right from the start. I never doubted the desperation of the people starving in the Badlands. I could feel the searing heat and my lips got dry just reading the first section of the book.  Then, when Tess returns to the domed city of Eden, Clark makes the shift to opulent technological excess so smoothly and believably that I felt as if I was in Eden.  The technologies were also clearly based from our own making it very easy to imagine and understand how things were supposed to work in Eden.  

I really enjoyed Tess as the main character.  She had spunk like many other dystphoic heroines, but also was well-rounded in the sense that she seemed truly concerned about others in her society (because she had personal experience living the lives that they did...unlike some other heroines just thrown into their new leadership roles) and the new friends that she made in Eden.  She felt guilty if she put others in danger, she aimed to clean up her own mistakes, and she thought about how her actions would affect the future of her world.  She was determined and brave and also funny.  I rooted for her right from the start.  

This book also had a great sense of immediate danger, though it takes place over the passage of weeks.  Clark threw Tess and her compatriots into some very hairy situations and there were believable consequences.  I was happy to find in the end, though, that things worked out for at least a few of them the way that I'd hoped.  

A book that I flew through, unable to put down, and one that deserves more attention than it may get if not talked up by those who have read it! So...go read it! 

ALSO - STAY TUNED...I have an interview with the author, Georgia Clark, here on Wednesday! 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Publisher 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Anxiously Awaiting (and a Cover Craving)...The Heir by Kiera Cass!

The Heir
by Kiera Cass
The Selection, book four

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought. (Description from EW announcement article)

I am SO EXCITED that Kiera Cass and her publisher decided to turn The Selection trilogy into a longer series. The Heir will also be followed by a fifth book, which I assume will also feature Princess Eadlyn, but there's no real information about it out yet.  For now, I'm just stoked to read the start of her story...May cannot come fast enough! 

ANd...don't you just love the covers for this series? I am a total sucker for a gorgeous gown on the front cover and I love the way they use the mirrored reflections... 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ooh...Morganville: the Series is Finally Coming Out!

Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series was turned into a web TV series through a Kickstarter fund.  They finally released the trailer for the series today, and boy does it look good!

I think their casting of Claire looks spot-on and that's what I was the most worried about. I'm excited for it to start next week...will you be watching?

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
by Kady Cross
Steampunk Chronicles, book two

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling-or dangerous Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper from the clutches of a devious criminal demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him... for the life of the girl Jasper loves. 

One false move from Jasper, and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens and tightens. From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens follows Jasper's elusive trail. And they're about to discover how far they'll go for friendship. 

More than ever, Finley must rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley... and will risk his life and reputation to save her. 

Now, to help those she's come to care for so deeply, Finley must infiltrate the criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much... (Description from

God, I need to catch up with this series! There's four books now and I'm JUST reading book two *facepalm*.  Not only do I love Kady Cross' (also known as Kate Locke, whose books I DEVOUR) writing, but these are such fun steampunk adventures.  

I really enjoyed not only getting to follow some more of Finlay's adventures, but also getting to learn more about some of the secondary characters, especially Jasper.  Learning more about his origins added a whole new layer to the series and I'd love to see even more of that in the other books...we'll have to see when I catch up! LOL.  There were new nuances to the romantic relationships in this follow-up, as well, which left me grinning and slightly swoony at times.  I can't wait to see Finlay and Griffin finally figure their relationship out!! 

I liked the jump over to America in this one.  I thought it let things sort of start fresh for a few people.  The addition of some key New York inhabitants had me grinning, and I longed to be there at that time (in this steampunk world, of course! I want to ride a dirrigible!!). A great read that has me scrambling to find time to read the next one... 

Full Disclosure: Borrowed from My Library 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Quickie Novella Review: Goddess in Time

Goddess in Time
by Tera Lynn Childs
Oh. My. Gods Novella 

As a descendant of Greek gods, Nicole has attended the Academy alongside other students with magical powers on a Greek island. Life is pretty perfect—except for the fact that she was sentenced to stay there because of a childhood prank that also resulted in her parents' banishment. When Nicole discovers a book that teaches the forbidden magic of time travel, she knows she must take a chance to right her wrong. With the help of her friends Troy and Phoebe, Nicole sets off on a quest that will take her from the heights of Mt. Olympus to the ocean depths of Poseidon's home and to the bowels of Hades. Can she mend her mistakes? And is changing the past, what she really wants? The past and future combine in thrilling, unpredictable ways—especially when Greek gods are involved! (Description from

I was so happy when I finally got to read Nicole's story! Not knowing who her Greek God ancestor was had been driving me crazy with speculation. I loved who it turned out to be, too. Very clever TLC, very clever. It was neat to read a whole story from Nicole's perspective, too. It really fleshed her out into more of a fully-faceted character and made me feel more for her.  I truly loved diving back into this world and my only complaint was that this novella was too short! I hope there's more coming soon!! 

Full Disclosure: Purchased for my Nook 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
(Description from

I'm not sure if it's because I read FANGIRL first, or if I just connected more to the main character in that novel, or if it's because I just didn't "live" through the 80s, having been too young to really feel most of the culture of that time, but I didn't have the same overwhelmingly overawed reaction to this book that a lot of people did.  

I enjoyed it.  Rowell is a great writer. I really like how well she can craft a fully fledged character that feels as if I could meet him or her on the street.  I like that each one of her books is different...they take place in different settings and times, and yet, they have a similar feel to them. I know that Rowell wrote them.  

While I didn't love the setting of this book, I found it very believable. This book really felt like it was set in and embraced the 80s.  As I mentioned, I was just a peanut in the 80s so I don't have the same nostalgic connection to it that some older readers might, but I can remember the early 90s pretty well and some things felt eerily similar.  

I think what I liked the most about this book, though, was Park.  Eleanor was a fun and interesting character, but I LOVED Park...and I loved the way that Rowell described him. Here you really felt not only that Eleanor liked Park for his personality, but also that she really and truly wanted him.  Her descriptions of Park's skin as melted honey were truly evocative.  It wasn't just the way that Eleanor viewed him, though, either...Park was a fascinating character in his own right - flawed as any teenage boy would be, but also strong and brave and true.  The book almost broke my heart on Park's behalf, but thankfully Rowell left things in a way that left me satisfied at the end. 

As I said, not my favorite Rowell title, but well worth reading anyway. 

Full Disclosure: Audiobook borrowed from my Library

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After 
by Stephanie Perkins
Anna and the French Kiss, book three

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. (Description from

Though my favorite book in this trilogy is still Lola and the Boy Next Door (go Cricket!!), I sincerely recommend this series, any book in the series, ALL the books in the series, to anyone looking for a romantic and joyous read.  

Each book has it's very serious moments, because no real relationship is all sunshine and roses, but you can have confidence that things will work out beautifully in the end.  There's realism and the type of romance we all hope and dream of here. In fact, while  this book focuses primarily on Isla and Josh's romance, the cameos that Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket make are fabulous...and the final reason for their trip to France will leave readers of the entire series beaming! I shed a few happy tears myself. 

What I love best about Perkins' books is that ability to give me as the reader both a light, yet serious read.  The knowledge that there will certainly be sigh-worthy moments, but also ones that will reflect my own life, my own journey to figuring out not only who I was/am as a person, but what I wanted in life.  The questions that I had to answer to find (and keep) the love of my life.  You can feel the full and complex nature of Perkins' characters, relate to them, and cheer them on as they make their major life choices.  

Wonderfully done.  I wish there were more coming, but I will definitely read whatever Stephanie Perkins does next. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Accidental Highwayman

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides
by Ben Tripp

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….
(Description from

The press for this book has firmly compared it to The Princess Bride by William Goldman and I cannot help but agree.  This book has the same fun, adventurous, and romantic spirit as The Princess Bride.  The main character, Kit, is both bumbling and sincere, thrust into a situation that puts him in great peril, but he steps up and becomes the hero that we all wish we could be...a true gentleman rogue. 

With swashbuckling runs from soldiers, amazingly magical escapes from malevolent fairies, and fun friendships with unique characters developed along the way, The Accidental Highwayman was a quick, fun read.  I loved not only Kit and the perilous position that he finds himself in, but the characters, and yes, love interest, that he meets along his journey.  I'm really looking forward to seeing where he's led next, because, of course, the book leaves poor Kit staring right into the maw of his next dangerous adventure... 

As a small aside, the author, Ben Tripp, is the son of the illustrator for the Amelia Bedelia series. The illustrations that he adds to The Accidental Highwayman are perfectly matched to the text.  

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Publisher

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gold Star Interview: Barbara Dee!

Hello All! 

As you all know, when I LURVE a book, I give it a Gold Star Review here. Well, to liven up the blog a little, I'm going to (try to) interview the author of each book that receives a coveted Gold Star! I hope you'll enjoy these quick, little interviews. :D

Today I'm excited to have Barbara Dee here to talk about my latest GOLD STAR review book, THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS! You can find my Gold Star Review from yesterday here.

Photograph by Randy Matusow
Welcome Barbara! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I have just a couple quick, fun questions for you:

1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs to write your newest book, The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys?

This book has a funny history, actually. I wrote the first fifty pages of IMPERFECT BOYS in a couple of months, liked what I had, but was stuck. Then a friend who used to be an editor urged me to try writing a series. Since I had writers' block anyway, I thought I'd give it a shot. I worked for several months, but developing a plot that would span a number of books was harder than I'd imagined, and I could tell my writing was forced. Unfunny. Uninspired.

Finally I met my agent for lunch. She asked me what I was working on, and when I told her about the series, she just nibbled her salad. "Working on anything else?" she asked politely. I told her about those first fifty pages of IMPERFECT BOYS, and her eyes lit up. "That's your book," she said. But I was stuck, I protested. We agreed I'd scribble some ideas, and then brainstorm together. And maybe because I felt I was just "scribbling," I sat down and wrote the rest of the draft in about 5 weeks.

Two lessons from this experience. One: If you're stuck, let your manuscript breathe. Turn to another project, and then circle back to it when you're ready. Taking a break is NOT an admission of defeat.

Two: It's good to stretch, but don't feel pressure to write something that doesn't feel right, or that isn't fun for you. Maybe I'll try writing series fiction some day, but right now, it's not for me. And that's okay.

2. I really like the way that you were able to take a concept like the difference between boys and girls at the middle school age and seemingly encapsulate it within a scientific theory. It's both charming and makes the girls seem smart...and a little precocious. How did you come up with that idea?

It came to me one day when I was attending my daughter's eighth grade chorus concert. The girls sounded great, but the boys--well, let's just say they were a mixed bag of sopranos, tenors, basses and croaks. And I thought: how tough for these boys to be onstage, under a glaring spotlight, at such an awkward stage of development! They seemed like tadpoles developing frog legs right in front of your eyes! How could any girl "like" these half-tadpole/half-frog creatures? I started thinking about how I felt when I was in eighth grade, how I looked down on my silly, immature male classmates-- until I realized I hadn't figured them out as well as I'd thought. And that's what started me on the road to IMPERFECT BOYS.

3. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?

I'd love to write a really juicy, gossipy novel about my small town. But yes, I'd need that pseudonym, or I'd have to move!

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?

To learn how to play the piano.

5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination
- Italy
Favorite childhood book - Harriet the Spy
Favorite writing snack food - Cookies and fruit. It's fall now, so apples!
Favorite clothing item - A pair of cashmere socks I splurged on a few years ago. They're pretty worn now, but still warm and comfy. If you want to treat yourself, I highly recommend cashmere socks--great for walking your dog in cold weather!

Thank you so much, Barbara, for letting me interview you. It was a pleasure! 

For more information about Barbara and her books, check out her website at You can find info about her newest book, THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS at