The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

**Warning: the following review may not be unsuitable for some readers due to inordinate amounts of drooling over deadly sword-wielding boys, brilliant girls with pink hair, and gun-slinging guys who can quote Malory.**

I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Sarah Rees Brennan is frickin' brilliant. An evil genius to be sure who has managed to infuse her books with such wit and candor that I find myself wholly ruined for anything else. I don't know how the woman does it but she has managed to blow my mind. Yet again. After naming The Demon's Lexicon as my Favorite YA Fantasy of 2009, I began the endless wait for the release of The Demon's Covenant, not quite sure where Ms. Brennan would take me next, but fully willing to stick around for the ride.

Let me also take a moment to verbally adore this astoundingly cool UK cover. Stormy London, Nick kicking somebody's trash on the bridge, and a pink-haired Mae watching it all. It's not the one my copy came with - which makes me infinitely sad - but is most excellent and is the version I NEED for my own collection.

Not much time has passed since Mae and her brother Jamie have returned home after successfully facing down an entire Circle of deadly magicians led by enormously powerful Black Arthur. In her head Mae knows Jamie is now safe, thanks in large part to the help of Alan and Nick Ryves, but Mae can't help but remain tense, constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting for the next attack to appear. When the unthinkable does actually happen and Mae discovers magicians circling Jamie again, she panics and calls the only people who she trusts implicitly to help. Like the cavalry, the Ryves brothers swoop back into Mae and Jamie's life without a thought. Ready to protect, ready to defend. Mae has always had trouble staying in complete control when it comes to Alan and Nick and this time proves to be no different. She's torn and stuck in the middle of their ever-increasingly explosive relationship and above all, ready to do anything to rescue the ones she loves from harms way.

After falling hard for the Ryves brothers in The Demon's Lexicon, I will admit to some slight hesitation upon discovering that The Demon's Covenant centers around Mae. Who I also liked, just maybe not as much. But boy howdy - I changed my mind. There are infinite quotable selections from Mae, but one of my favorites happens when she is heading to meet Alan and Nick for the first time after calling them for help with Jamie.
She went downstairs and told herself with every stop that she was fine, that she had called them because she needed help, that she hadn't particularly wanted to see either of them. She prepared a number of calm and practical things to say.

When she opened the door and saw their faces, she forgot them all.

She and Jamie had lived with them for over a week; their faces were as familiar to her as old friends', but she hadn't seen them since the day she'd killed someone and they'd found out the truth about Nick. They looked different to her, new even though they were familiar, and she felt new as well, as if she'd been broken apart and put back together with the pieces not fitting quite right. They were real. It was all real, that world of magic so different from the world of Exeter. They were part of magic and of danger and the blood she woke remembering every night.

"Hi," she said, and opened the door to let them in.

"It's good to see you again, Mae," said Alan, and gave her a hug.

She was startled not so much by the gesture as by how it felt. It made her recall her first impression of Alan, when she'd seen a skinny but sort of cute redhead with kind eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and thought that he seemed nice, harmless and not at all her type.

She knew better now, but there was still a moment of complete cognitive dissonance when he put his arms around her. He looked like one thing and felt quite like another.

His chest and arms were surprisingly hard, lean muscle against her hands, and under his thin T-shirt he was carrying a gun. Mae felt the shape of it press briefly against her stomach.

Alan wasn't harmless. He didn't mind if she knew it.
Shivers down my spine and all that. She is something else. Fiercely determined to stick by and protect Jamie, their relationship is something to behold. Truly, Sarah Rees Brennan is a master at crafting sibling relationships because even Nick and Alan take their crazy, volatile brotherhood to a new level. I am over the moon about both those guys. One brother is supposedly the normal, nice, good guy - but who in actuality is a consummate liar; while the other is seen as evil and wicked but who actually cannot lie and is full of loyalty.

Bit of a conundrum, ain't it?

And the twists just keep on coming. Once again, Sarah Rees Brennan manages to catch me completely off guard with her unforeseen ending, leaving me shaking my head over the sheer brilliance of it all. I can't even begin to imagine where she plans to go next, but I know I'm in for whatever it is.

series reading order:
~ The Demon's Lexicon - my review
~ The Demon's Covenant

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review & interview
The Book Butterfly review
The Book Smugglers review
Cry Havoc! Book reviews
WhatMissKelleyIsReading review

book source: my local library

The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

Claire Donovan, a visiting history professor at Cambridge University, is in over her head. After helping historian Andrew Kent to uncover a centuries old secret as told in Christi Phillips' previous novel, The Rossetti Letter, she's now at Cambridge upon Andrew's request but instead of enjoying her time in the history-filled campus, she's feeling out of place and abandoned. Awkwardly alone in such an unfamiliar, traditional English environment, it's not until she stumbles upon the diary of one Hannah Devlin that Claire once again finds herself in the midst of what she loves best: unraveling the mysteries of history. Because Claire will soon discover that Hannah is unlike most usual 17th century women. She's a talented physician (which is uncommon in itself) whose experiences in the royal court of Charles II could shed light on a series of brutal murders left unsolved for generations.

Told from the alternating perspective of Claire and Hannah, The Devlin Diary moves along at a fast clip, yet the more fascinating story by far resides with the woman doctor Hannah. Her experiences are documented with such feeling and detail that I could picture the contrasting filth and splendor of 17th century England. While Claire's lackluster account of her dealings within the backstabbing community of Cambridge failed to ever capture my interest. Which shouldn't come as a surprise as the focus of the novel itself leans very heavily upon Hannah's unfolding story and not so much on the historian Claire. Unsurprisingly, I found myself much more drawn to Hannah and her mystery than I ever did to Claire. I think I might have liked Claire more as a character if I had been able to spend more time with her, but as it was, I didn't. I have however heard many, many good things about The Rossetti Letter - which I know follows Claire much more closely - so I'm thinking my opinion could differ from those who have already had the opportunity to meet and like Claire.

The Devlin Diary immediately brings to mind a Da Vinci Code-like chase where instead of the clues being found in art, they are discovered in historical documents. Intriguing for any fan of historical fiction to say the least. Although it did seem like every time the story switched back to Claire I found myself constantly pulled out of the adventure due to her misguided attempts at crime-solving. I'm thinking if The Devlin Diary had simply been Hannah's story, without the unimaginative addition of Claire, I would have eaten it up with a spoon (which I did) and then passed it without hesitation to friends.

series reading order:
~ The Rossetti Letter
~ The Devlin Diary

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Avid Reader review 
Book Hounds review 
Reviewing the Evidence review
Rundpinne review
S. Krishna's Books review

book source: provided by the publisher

The Fabulous, Marvelous, Wonderful Day of Books

Yesterday was a Red Letter Day book-wise. I got no less than TWO special bookish deliveries.

Package #1:  

Another, wholly unexpected, Mother's Day gift from the Hubby - the shipping just took forever. After seeing how well his Anniversary Present was recieved, he's decided he can't go wrong with Ellen Emerson White. I agree.

Package #2 (one of my most anticipated reads of the 2010):


Someone needs to come and scrape me off the floor, because I am basically a puddle of goo at the moment. *dies*

Amazon Queen by Lori Devoti

Nothing ever stays the same and that is something Amazon queen Zery is slowly coming to understand. For the past ten years, Zery has staunchly enforced the strict Amazon way of life in her small tribe but it seems that within a matter of days everything she holds near and dear is coming apart at the seams. Until recently, Zery considered her tribe's only enemy to be a group of sons - men who had been born to Amazons, but who had been abandoned at birth in order to preserve the all-female Amazon way of life. But it seems now a new enemy is stepping forward, one who would threaten to destroy every Amazon tradition and belief. With her leadership under question and help coming from the unlikeliest of groups: the Amazon sons, Zery must try to discover the source of betrayal. Before it destroys the entire tribe.

Although intriguing in premise, Amazon Queen failed to deliver on a variety of fronts. I for one was extremely intrigued to learn more about such a fierce group of women who distance themselves from society in order to protect and maintain their ancient abilities. Unfortunately, Lori Devoti never manages to make me fond of any of her characters. Time after time, I found myself exasperated with Zery's lack of foresight - I mean, the woman supposedly had been chosen as queen for her leadership and brains, but all I saw was indecision and someone who was unable to connect the dots until every piece of the puzzle was laid out plainly for her to see. No foresight, no ingenuity. Maybe warrior Zery needed to spend a little less time at the gym and a little more time reading or studying. And that leads me to another issue: supposedly, the Amazons eschewed all types of technology in order to keep their distance from mainstream society, but I would think as an ancient civilization, they would have had to adapt and change their ways over the years in order to not obviously stand out anytime they were around normal humans. I mean, Zery had never even used a computer? Seems a little far fetched. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my issues with this book. Very disappointing. And although Amazon Queen could have been a real page-turner, I was put off by the clumsy writing and my utter lack of emotional attachment to any of the characters. Definitely not one I'm going to be recommending.

series reading order:
~ Amazon Ink
Amazon Queen

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
A Journey of Books review
Bitten by Books review
BookHounds review
Gnostalgia review
The Avid Reader review

book source: provided by the publisher

Simone Elkeles Winners!

And the winners are...


Becca who asked for Perfect Chemistry

Congrats to both ladies!! I've sent you both emails, so please be sure to send me your address within the next 48 hours. And a big thank you once again to Walker Books for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Retro Friday Review: Tangerine by Edward Bloor

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc
As a parent, I feel like there is often quite a bit of pressure to make sure you instill a love of books and reading into your children at an early age. And since I have a little boy, I'm a little out of my reading comfort zone and therefore constantly on the prowl for books that I think might appeal to him either now or in the future. And just because the little turkey happens to only be two at present doesn't mean that I should wait years to start collecting books he'll like, right? Right. At least that's what I keep telling myself and the clerk at Barnes & Noble.

In my quest for boy-friendly books, I kept hearing good things about this odd middle-grade book called Tangerine by Edward Bloor. My former library co-workers always said it was the perfect boy book: sports, mysterious going-ons, heros, villians, and tangerines. Wait, tangerines? Intrigued ever since, it's been on the list to acquire and when I came across it at my local library booksale the other day, I snatched it up and ran home to start reading right away.

For as long as he can remember, seventh-grader Paul Fisher has lived in the shadow of The Erik Fisher Football Dream. Ever since Paul's older brother Erik kicked his first successful 50 yard field goal, it seems to Paul that the entire Fisher household has revolved around Erik getting a football scholarship in hopes of one day advancing to the Pros. But there are two big things Paul just can't understand: 1) why everyone adores Erik, who he truly knows to be cruel and underhanded, and 2) why those same people are also in love with football. Now soccer, that is a sport Paul can get really get behind. Even though he happens to be legally blind, Paul is a talented goalie and is more than ready for the soccer season to begin at his new middle school in the town of Tangerine, Florida. Though, as usual, Paul is the first to notice that their seemingly idyllic planned community is not what it appears to be as natural disasters strike again and again and neighbors turn against one another; all while football and soccer games continue to be won. And lost.

I can now fully understand why Tangerine is often embraced by educators. Its many themes could easily foster intriguing and highly relevant discussions in any classroom. Truly, it is astounding that such a small book could contain such a wide range of significant topics yet still remain so accessible to teens on a variety of levels. A list of themes discussed include clashes between the haves vs the have-nots, the impact of family relationships, the treatment of those with 'disabilities', environmental issues, race discrimination, and even bullying scenarios. And that's not even a comprehensive list. But even with its appeal to teachers, Tangerine can still readily resonate with any reader be they young or old, student or parent due to the honest and captivating narration of the observant Paul. His voice is clear, insightful, and above all, entertaining. A hero with coke-bottle glasses and courage to spare. I'm glad I found room on my shelves for Paul Fisher and Tangerine. It's one I'll be sure to share with my own son. Even if I have to wait a few more years to read it with him.

book source: purchased

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.
In starting off this review, I think it's safe to assume that many of you out there are book lovers. Bibliophiles. Bookworms. Readers. So my lovely readers, what is the one thing all book addicts adore more than anything (other than free books) when reading a book for the first time? Well, at least in this readers case, it would be cracking open a book only to discover it is all about other people discovering and loving books too. le sigh. It's like meeting another kindred spirit, only in book form, who too understands just exactly how paper and ink can be turned into something breathtakingly profound.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
is a witty and ever-so-charming epistolary novel set just after the end of World War II in London. Juliet Ashton, a successful young novelist, has just finished an exhausting book tour for her publisher (and dear friend) Sidney Stark when she receives a letter from a farmer/fisherman from the Channel Island of Guernsey asking for book recommendations for his literary society. Currently between book ideas, Juliet is intrigued by this simple request and eagerly continues her correspondence with the fisherman and other Guernsey Literary Society members. What she receives are countless letters detailing individual accounts of life during the German Occupation of their small island - some hilarious, some heartbreaking, and others simply charming. Above all, Juliet receives a collection of letters explaining how and why these average working men and women fell in love with books and became true readers. And just because some accounts were so profound, let me share this passage where Eben Ramsay explains why he feels Shakespeare was "thinking of men like me when they wrote their words":
It seems to me the less he said, the more beuaty he made. Do you know what sentence of his I admire the most? It is "The bright day is done, and we are for the dark."

I wish I'd known these words on the day I watched those German troops land, plane-load after plane-load of them -- and come off ships down in the harbor! All I could think of was damn them, damn them, over and over. If I could have thought the words "the bright day is done and we are for the dark," I'd have been consoled somehow and ready to go out and content with circumstance -- instead of my heart sinking to my shoes.
That, is why I read books. 

Of course all these honest and witty letters and telegrams lead Juliet to make the voyage to Guernsey herself where she finds herself falling in love with not only the people but the island itself. As she states in a letter to Sidney:
Quite apart from my interest in their interest in reading, I have fallen in love with two men: Eben Ramsey and Dawsey Adams. Clovis Fossey and John Booker, I like. I want Amelia Maugery to adopt me; and me, I want to adopt Isola Pribby.
And let me continue with Juliet's thoughts by adding: Juliet Ashton and Sidney Stark, I want to have as pen pals and Kit, I want to play "dead bride" with.

If you, like me, are one of the very few people yet to read this surprising little book, please do yourself a favor and do so at once. I have no idea why I let it languish on my bookshelf for months on end, but I am just kicking myself for not diving in sooner, because it is absolutely wonderful. History, love, humor, heartbreaking trials, and of course, books. A must-read for any bibliophile.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion (there are lots): 
Bermudaonion's Weblog review
Booking Mama review
Maw Books Blog review 
She is Too Fond of Books... review
Small Reads Reads review

book source: purchased

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Certainly there are a good many books that catch my eye on a hourly daily basis due to their just so covers. But I have to say there haven't been many to capture my complete interest like Julie Kagawa's debut The Iron King in quite some time. First off is the title font: I'm loving everything about those sharp, pointy letters that wind up evolving into these twisty, curling vines. It's bold, yet whimsical and almost dangerously thorny looking at the same time. Then we have this stunning, bright blue-eyed girl almost obscured by the same greenish vine motif - all of which scream faery. Honestly, I found the entire cover so visually appealing that I knew I would wind up reading it just to find out if the story inside was half as good as its brilliant outside.

Meghan Chase isn't enjoying her sixteenth birthday like any other normal teenager. Instead of parties and cake and adoration, she's shunned by her classmates and forgotten by her family. And then the unthinkable happens, her little half-brother Ethan is kidnapped by faeries and a horrific changeling is left in his place. Not knowing how she is going to rescue Ethan (just knowing that she will), Meghan sets off for the Faery realm with her best friend Robbie as her guide. Although Robbie isn't exactly human himself and turns out to have some handy connections within the high courts of the fae. Completely unprepared for dealing with countless vicious faery creatures, Meghan inevitably finds herself discovering allies in truly unexpected places: the moody yet clever cat Grimalkin and the young Prince of the Winter Court, Ash, who is as dangerous as he is striking.

Notwithstanding the many recognizable fae elements in Julie Kagawa's world of faery (the Summer and Winter Courts as presented in A Midsummer Night's Dream), Kagawa has managed to create a fantastical world that mixes so seamlessly with the modern landscape that I was totally caught up in her storytelling and believed every single word. Of course the nonstop adventure could have added to its appeal too. ;) Without fail, I find myself drawn those faery stories that clearly detail the sharp danger as well as the glamour and beauty of the faeries. And let me tell you, The Iron King does not shy away from the dark and dangerous side of the fae whatsoever. Literally the action in The Iron King is constant and completely engrossing. There are trolls and ogres to be fought, hounds to elude, Kings to outsmart... the list goes on and on. And although Meghan is in waaay over her head, she is still resourceful, intelligent, and unfailingly loyal. Three cheers for a strong YA female lead!! Not to mention the inclusion of a surprisingly realistic romance - which I saw coming from a mile away, but still swooned over anyways - that utterly captivated me with its selfless quality. So let me just go ahead and say it for the record: after that wide open, cliff-hanger ending, just know that I'll be picking up Kagawa's sequel, The Iron Daughter, to be sure.

series reading order:
~ The Iron King
~ The Iron Daughter (August 2010)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Pushers review 
Dark Faerie Tales review
Jenn's Bookshelves review
La Femme Readers review
The Story Siren review

book source: my local library

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

For the past couple of years now, I've been a devoted reader of Carolyn's always unpredictable yet truly hilarious blog The Thrillionth Page. Some of my favorite posts include how to tell if you are a literary Little Red Riding Hood or a Cinderella (I'm a Cinderella), and a very definitive gift guide for what NOT to buy a vampire or werewolf. Ahem. Like I said, always unpredictable. So it's safe to say as soon as I learned that Carolyn would be publishing her very own, very shiny Urban Fantasy novel, Mind Games, I just knew I'd have to get my hands on it. If only for a chance to delve deeper into the mind of such a entertaining woman. Truly, Carolyn Crane's humor is one-of-a-kind.

Having lived on the outskirts of normality her entire life due to a eccentric father, Justine Jones would like nothing more to be normal. It's why she's worked so hard for the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend, Cubby. But the one wrinkle in her otherwise neat and tidy life is a severe case of hypochondria. Severe to the point of obsession actually. Justine is sure she is going to drop dead at any moment from the same rare condition called vein star syndrome that killed her mother years before. Knowing that her preoccupation with the disease is going to wreck her life but unable to do anything to stop it, Justine simply continues forward until a simple dinner with Cubby changes everything.

One minute Justine is sitting there, enjoying a cozy dinner at Mongolian Delites and in the next, she's meeting the magnetic and steely manager, Sterling Packard. Not such a chance encounter she'll will soon discover. Packard reveals himself to be a highcap, or a human with a rare supernatural ability - his being able to see directly into the emotions of anyone. After taking a glimpse at Justine's neurotic, illness-obsessed mind, he's decided to recruit her into his elite band of crime fighters called the Disilluosinists. Their specialty is to take down those criminals who the law has a hard time pinning down by debilitating them with each of the Disillusionist's own 'specialty' (aka: their particular brand of crazy). Gambling, hypochondria, low self esteem - the Disillusionists hit hard and enjoy an extremely high success rate. Justine isn't too sure about turning vigilante but as she ventures deeper and deeper into the criminal maze of Midcity, she'll quickly learn that innocence and guilt are not so black and white as she thought.

To start things off, I have to go ahead and say that Mind Games is unlike any other Urban Fantasy novel you've probably ever read. Ever. It's part sci-fi, part fantasy, a whole lotta noir thriller thrown in for good measure, and multiple parts humor. Hold on people.

First off, Justine is unlike any other UF heroine out there. Instead of flashing on the scene fists flying ready to take 'em all down, she's a literal and complete mess. Her hypochondria is gonna land her in an institution any day now but it's not until Packard takes a deep look into her mind and sees her willingness to stand up for justice despite her fears does she get a chance to find her own hidden strengths. And then begin to use those strengths. I loved watching Justine learn to develop her abilities while interacting with her fellow Disillusionists. All of whom alternately either gave the willies or had me cheering loudly - sometimes both at the same time. Mind Games is one of those novels that simply defies classification. One thing for sure however, it boasts an impressive twisty, turny psychological storyline (complete with some truly nasty villains) which stunned me with each new revelation and left me clamoring for more. I just knew it was gonna be good. And it was.

series reading order:
~ Mind Games
~ Double Cross (September 2010)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
All Things Urban Fantasy review
Angieville review
Babbling About Books, and More! review
The Book Smugglers review
SciFiGuy review

book source: my local library

How to raise a NONreader

I saw this over at Squeaky Books and it was just begging for a re-post. I'm thinking I'm not going to mind it so much anymore when my little Turkey asks me to read him The Little Engine That Could for the 613th time. Or 614th.

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda

In a school packed with white faces only, Chinese immigrant Xing (pronounced Shing) but called Kris, knows what it is to be on the outside looking in. Ever since he came with his father and mother to the Land of Opportunity he's found himself shunned because of his accent, because his Oriental looks, and because of his parent's low income. The only bright spot in Xing's endless sea of despair lies in the refuge of his best friend Naomi, also a Chinese immigrant, who from day one relied upon Xing as translator and tutor. But tutor has surpassed the teacher and lately Naomi has begun to assimilate in ways that Xing could never accomplish, seeming to leave Xing yet more alone.

After a string of high schoolers from Xing's school turn up missing, the entire town becomes suspicious and frightened and looking for villains on every corner. In his solitary observances, Xing begins to notice seemingly isolated occurrences which lead him closer and closer to the frightening culprit. Though a series of freakishly random coincidences seem to level the finger of suspicion straight at Xing himself.

There are a variety of reasons as to why I picked up Andrew Xia Fukuda's dark debut Crossing. The promise of a young male Asian protagonist who constantly struggled - often without success - to assimilate into American society seemed too tempting a prospect to pass by. Not your usual YA character or hero, Xing proves himself to be compelling and extremely sympathetic narrator as a bully-magnet with deeply-rooted emotions. Every minute detail of the events leading up to the discovery of the kidnapper is painfully recorded, even those that paint Xing in a less than flattering light.

To be honest, I was not expecting such a startling conclusion to Crossing. If anything, due to the prologue I was anticipating the opposite of what actually occurred. Crossing is not a ponies and rainbows novel, it was almost painful at times in fact. It takes a deep, intimate look at how fear of the other can ignite with a single spark, spread like wildfire, and wind up just as deadly. And the prose itself is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the cruelty of teenagers at its most heartbreaking. But. Crossing was extremely well-written, but I found myself terribly depressed upon finishing. Perhaps I wasn't quite in the right frame of mind for such a stark novel, but I found Crossing to be a little too much on the bleak side without any hope of redemption acting as a counterbalance. Each time it felt like Xing might be on the brink of finding some measure of happiness or a little bit of success, some new catastrophe would inevitably occur sending him right back to square one. Which of course made for a page-turning novel but not one I'd recommend without some hesitation.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bart's Bookshelf review
Katie's Book Blog review
Sharon Loves Books and Cats review
Wondrous Reads review

book source: provided by the author

Interview with Simone Elkeles & Giveaway!

With some extreme giddyness and more than a small dash of excitement, I'm pleased to welcome the always hilarious author Simone Elkeles. I became a supreme fan of her work after stumbling across Perfect Chemistry last year and have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, Rules of Attraction ever since. Simone's here today to celebrate the recent release of Rules of Attraction (which I loved) and to dish on her books and characters. Welcome Simone!

First off, how do you pronounce your lovely name?

Simone is (Sim-own) and I always tell people Elkeles is “Not Elk-uh-more, it’s Elk-uh-less!” Or you could do it as El-kel-ess. Seriously, it’s not easy on the tongue to say Elkeles. Everyone gets it wrong, so I’m used to it.
I’ve seen before that you weren’t necessarily planning on writing a ‘sequel’ to Perfect Chemistry. What made you decide to write Rules of Attraction after all?

Ever since I wrote Perfect Chemistry, I thought it would be amazing to write about all three Fuentes brothers. When I sold Perfect Chemistry, though, I wasn’t sure I’d get to write a trilogy or even a sequel/companion novel. When my editor Emily Easton at Walker said that fans definitely wanted another Perfect Chemistry novel and weren’t ready to let my characters go, I was so excited. I didn’t want to have Brittany and Alex be the main characters because their story was already written – I wanted to let Carlos and Luis have their own stories. I’m so happy to announce that it will be a trilogy, so all three brothers can have their own story!
In your opinion, what makes Carlos and Kiara work so well as a couple?

They like challenges, and they both challenge each other. Kiara surprises Carlos, which is what he needs in a girl. And Kiara needs a guy who is going to pull her out of her shell. Carlos definitely does that!

Do you feel like you connect more with certain of your characters than others? As an author, how much of your own personality do you put into your characters?

There is definitely a part of me in every character I write. To be honest, I have a sarcastic attitude and connect more with the snarky and sarcastic side of my characters more than anything else. I totally “get” my male characters. I allow them to be rude jerks at first – which totally entertains me as a writer. By the end of the book, though, that attitude has been squashed because they are totally humbled by falling in love with the right girl. Yes, it’s fiction ha, ha. Amy from the How to Ruin books is more like me than any other character. On the other hand, Maggie was the toughest character for me to write, because she’s the total opposite of me. In the sequel (Return to Paradise), we get to see a totally different side of Maggie.
What’s it like to write a book with two distinct and unique voices? Both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction alternately switch between a male and female narrator. Do you ever find yourself having a hard time switching gears?

I love switching point of view between chapters. It lets me give my readers insight into both my hero and heroine and what they’re thinking. I don’t have a hard time switching, but maybe that’s because I’m switching from male to female characters. Sometimes I feel I have writers ADD because after a while I have a hard time focusing on a chapter and have the urge to switch. It’s refreshing to change gears and switch to another character.

Do you listen to music while you write? Is there a Rules of Attraction soundtrack?

I don’t listen to music while writing, but I do have a Rules of Attraction soundtrack that will be posted probably this week (it's up now)! Go check it out. The soundtrack for Perfect Chemistry is already posted there.

Is there a particular book (or movie for that matter) you wish you had written?

I loved the movie The Cutting Edge. It’s an amazing romance and every time I see it I find more things to love about it. It’s a classic romance. I also cry every time I watch Rudy. It’s not a romance, but it’s an amazing story about success due solely to heart and perseverance. If that movie doesn’t teach you that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it, nothing will!

What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and over again?

I loved Flipped, The Hunger Games, Rainbow Boys, and Wicked Lovely a ton!

So many books come out each year, but are there any in particular that you are really looking forward to reading?

I’m really looking forward to the third book in the Hunger Games series.

Are you currently working on another project? And if it’s the next Perfect Chemistry novel, what can you tell us about Luis?

I just finished Return to Paradise, the sequel to Leaving Paradise. Now I’m doing research for the third Perfect Chemistry novel. It will be about Luis, Alex’s youngest brother. Luis is a good boy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams. When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself. Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father? Oh, I can’t wait to sit down and write it! The sequel to Leaving Paradise is coming out in September and the third Perfect Chemistry novel is coming out in 2011!

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Simone! I was more than a little giddy at the chance to chat with you about your books! And for some strange reason I'm suddenly feeling the strong urge to go and track down The Cutting Edge...


Thanks to the marvy folks at Walker Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction to giveaway to a couple of lucky readers. For a chance to win one of these truly awesome books, just tell me who your favorite bad boy/good girl couple from literature (or film) is. Please be sure to leave me a way to contact you if you win and which book you'd prefer if picked. Sorry, but this contest is only open to residents of the US. Giveaway is open until Sunday, May 16th 23rd at Midnight.

Sorry, giveaway is CLOSED.

Like mother, like daughter

This past week my mom has been in town, helping out with my little turkey boy post-surgery, saving my bacon on numerous occasions and in general just being a good person to have around. Something else I have rediscovered on this visit however is that I seem to have gotten my bookish tendencies (unsurprisingly) from her. Imagine that. When I think about it, my mom is the single most important reason why I am such a bibliophile in the first place. She and my dad always had stacks and stacks of books lying around the house, silently tempting us kids to visit the various exotic worlds of Tolkien, Kipling, and Twain. My mom's one of those parents that read every single book I ever brought home, be it for school or one a friend lent me, she always wanted to find out what I was reading. And later would inevitably draw me into a discussion about it. A sneaky tacit I'll have to remember for the future as a way to communicate with unresponsive teenagers.

Until I found myself firmly surrounded by all you marvy book bloggers and readers, I'd never before met anyone besides my mom who enjoyed reading for the sake of reading like I do. Now, our reading preferences don't necessarily always align: I'm more of a YA/fantasy type of gal while she likes classics, mysteries, and non-fiction - what I call 'thinker' books; but we are always willing to try out what the other likes and recommends. So I'm always a little bit giddy and a just a teeny bit nervous when she comes to visit because I want her to love the books I've recently discovered as much as I did. And then I want to discuss them. Habit, I guess. I always set a few aside for her but mainly I just let her browse my shelves until she finds something that looks interesting or new. On this trip so far she's gone through (remember she's only been here 4 days folks): Crossing, A Song for Summer, Bewitched & Betrayed, Mind Games (which she set aside because, as she said "It had a little too much sex."), Dairy Queen and just tonight I laid my beloved President's Daughter set on her bed, hoping she'll be as awed by them as I am.
To my surprise (although not really, cause who doesn't love these books?) her favorite so far has been Eva Ibbotson's A Song for Summer. Like me, she was instantly overwhelmed by Ibbotson's lush and descriptive writing style. My mom loved the characters, the setting and of course, the ending. "Perfect" was her final verdict. I agreed wholeheartedly. 

I think I had forgotten how nice is it to actually sit down with someone, face to face, and discuss books you have both read and enjoyed. I also had forgotten that rush you get when you recommend a book to a friend and they wind up loving it as much as you hoped they would. Which is why I think I'm on a bit of a high at the moment seeing as how I had specifically picked out A Song for Summer as one she'd love. Although since our conversations have me itching for a re-read, I guess the apple really didn't fall too far from the tree in this case.