Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Negima!? Neo by Ken Akamatsu & Takuya Fujima

Title: Negima!? Neo
Mangaka: Manga by Ken Akamatsu and adapted by Takuya Fujima
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 6
My Rating: 3/5

In the world of witchcraft and magic, Negi Springfield is determined to grow up as a great wizard like his missing father. Only ten years old, he graduates from his magic school with phenomenal skills. But his real training is just starting now. His assignment? To go to Japan and teach English at an all-girl school!

With no choice, he packs his bags and goes to this foreign Asian country. While walking to the school, he saves the pretty and apparent student, Asuna Kagurazaka, from a fall by using a little magic without her notice. Right away, she does not trust him. Like, he's just a kid! How can he be a teacher?? But every other girl accepts him immediately and thinks he is simply adorable.

With trouble brewing, Negi must do his duty to protect his lovely female students without the help of magic! For fans of Negima!, Negima!? Neo has a different twist with your old favourite characters in new situations!

I was never hyped up for Ken Akamatsu's work. I have read Negima! before, but it was something I was not into along with his other popular manga, Love Hina. And Negima!? Neo didn't actually change my perspective either. It's not a horrible manga nor was it out-there amazing. It has just too many mistakes.

Negima?! Neo was in a way, unrealistic, even for fantasy standards. When Negi sneezed, all the clothes on the girl in front of him would disappear! There was no logic behind it and a complete random way to get the female character naked. Not to mention no questions were asked on how it happened! And when Asuna suddenly assisted him in battle without batting an eye got me weirded out too. How did she know he was a wizard? Was she even human? I kept pondering about that. There were so many plot holes in the story that if you looked at the overall picture, it could get nerve-wracking.

The art and characters were cute but that was about it. If you read it, don't think too hard about it. Maybe it's just me. I do not have the second volume (which has not been released yet) so the answers I'm looking for might lay there. There is potential in Negima!? Neo but it seems like all effort is wasted as the plot jumps all over the place.

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Title: Bad Girls Don't Die
Author: Katie Alender
Description: Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.

When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?



I saw this book many times around the YA book blogverse but never really took interest in it. I always passed by the reviews even though it received many high ratings. I finally stopped to give it a chance when I saw the trailer at The Compulsive Reader. I think this is the best one made for a YA novel second to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I might go check it out if I have the time. Has anyone else read it? Opinions?

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Gakuen Prince by Jun Yuzuki

Title: Gakuen Prince
Mangaka: Jun Yuzuki
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 3
My Rating: 5/5

Azusa Mizutani is the new male student at the prestigious Jyôshioka Gakuen Private High School. It used to be an all-girl school. Only recently, it became co-ed but only a small number of boys are enrolled because of the difficulty to get acceptance.

On Azusa's first day, he finds the individuals of the male population to be very strange. But no stranger than the fact that the whole entire female body tries to mob him! Their sexual desires are at the maximum! With rarely any boys around, they would always take on the new student (especially if they are good-looking!). And this time, Azusa is on their hit-list!

While hiding from them in a closet, he meets the nerdy Rise Okitsu. She wants no part in the battle to get him and just wants her peace. Remembering one of the techniques that another male classmate told him, Azusa decides that he must pretend to commit to Rise to avoid the female herd. Pulling out the girl, who's appearance he fussed up (making her look undeniably pretty once you get rid of her geek getup) and half naked himself, all the girls gasp in shock. How could he pick her??! From then on, they are "officially" a couple!

To Rise's horror, she now has to go through endless bullying from all the girls. She hates it. She tries to stay low in high school until this idiot shows up and wrecks everything!

Both Rise and Azusa are now constantly being attacked by the school; will there be no end to this sea of madness?!?

To start off, when I glanced at the cover and summary, I knew it was a clique story. And it is. I thought I wouldn't like it as much because it is one of the many repetitive plots that mangakas are using nowadays. But remarkably, Gakuen Prince was an entertaining read that I could not put down!

Sometimes, the main girl could be quite annoying. But I actually like Rise! Maybe because I can relate to her in the nerd factor and tries to avoid attention too. Even though she is the "girlfriend" to a hot guy, she is completely unfazed while other girls are attempting to rape him! She was bullied when she was younger (yet to explain why), giving the reason why she likes to stay out of the spotlight. She may be quiet but can be strong and scary if you provoke her enough!

Two of my other favourite characters would be Akamaru and Munechika, both males. Akamaru is a solemn guy who you would never know what he is thinking of. Munechika is the polar opposite. He may look and appear more mature, but he fools around with more girls than you could count. I liked the way the mangaka potrayed these two stereotypes (or they wouldn't be my favourite characters!). And Azusa is just the stupid sort of guy that you would just want to make poke fun of!

Gakuen Prince is a definite non-serious read for those who likes your typical girl-meet-boy-but-they-don't-really-like-each-other-except-they-have-no-choice-to-be-stuck-with-each-other-anyway plot (phew)! The art is also drawn very nicely! The character would be all beautiful one second and then down-right comically ugly the next! Check it out manga fans! The second volume is totally on my wishlist!

(The third one has been released in Japan but I am unsure if that is the last volume in the series or not.)

Review copy provided by Del Rey.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

In My Mailbox - XXI

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed


Free Collars Kingdom vol. 1-2 by Takuya Fujima
Nodame Cantabile vol. 1-3 by Tomoko Ninonmiya
Sugar Sugar Rune vol. 5-8 by Moyoco Anno

The Bought

None

The Received


Negima!? Neo: Magister Negi Magi vol. 1 by Ken Akamatsu and adapted by Takuya Fujima
Maid War Chronicle vol. 1 by RAN
Orange Planet vol. 1 by Haruka Fukushima
Samurai 7 vol. 1 by Akira Kurosawa and adapted by Mitzutaka Suhou
Gakuen Prince vol. 1 by Jun Yuzuki
Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell

Okay, so this week I have been rolling in blog awards. Literally. So I would like to thank everyone below very much for the awards!:

FANTASTIC BOOK REVIEW for One Lovely Blog Award
Wdebo from The Electrical book cafe....and more! for One Lovely Blog Award
Diane from The Book Resort for Lets Be Friends Award and Friendly Blogger Award 2009
Steph from Hey, Teenager Of The Year for One Lovely Blog Award

I think I'll go and make up a new one later or so. Haha, I feel bad for not passing on the awards but if I was to try, my fingers will fall off! Oh and FANTASTIC BOOK REVIEW is hosting a great contest where you can win one of the six books she listed! Also win Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon at Hello Ello 2!

I squealed for the two consecutive days where there were mangas in my mailbox. Loved it so much that I decided to spread them out so you can admire the covers, haha. I finished a couple of them already so there will be reviews up this week along with The Elite by Jennifer Banash.

So what did you guys get this week?

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Title: Cold Hands, Warm Heart
Author: Jill Wolfson
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 244
My Rating: 5/5

Amanda is a young teen with a bright future ahead of her as a gymnast. She has a healthy and strong petite body that enables her to spin and flip with great height and skill. Until one competition changes everything...

All of her life, fifteen years old Dani could never experience the normal things everyone else could. She grew up with a heart on the wrong side of the body ever since she was brought into this world. With so many problems, her days may soon be cut short if she does not receive a transplant soon.

As she awaits for a new heart, Dani befriends with Milo, who is in dire need of a liver. As her time in the hospital passes, she wonders about her donor after finding out she will soon get the surgery. Who is this deceased person that will give her the opportunity to live as a normal girl?

I know people say, "Don't judge by a book by its cover" but we all secretly do that. I almost didn't request to review this novel because of the cover. What was I expecting? The protagonist to be some poetic girl who is incredibly kind and tries to think the best of the situation even though she is dying. How incredibly blah! I dislike characters like that when it comes to stories of loss and survival. I literally braced myself to get ready to force my way through the book because I thought I wouldn't like it.

Except from the very beginning to end, my brain devoured Cold Hands, Warm Heart like bitter sweet candy! The story was written so fluidly, unraveling itself beautifully bit by bit. (It flipped back and forth from third to first person every other chapter but would get used to right away). Every chance I got, I would try to continue it as much as I could before putting it down again. I even neglected my studies to complete it because that was how much I loved it!

Dani is a great character. No, she does not have a big goal to fulfill. No, she doesn't want to go out there and change the world. She just wants an ordinary life and do ordinary things. She thinks like all teenagers. Things like, will she ever kiss a boy or lose her virginity? I find her simply charming. She's not doing anything to prove herself but only wishes to live longer than the time the condition has limited her to. Even the way she thinks and talks, I am drawn to her and wanting to be her friend.

I also really like Milo's character. He is such an interesting fellow, especially how he views life and death. He knows his faults and learns from it. Sure he may have yellow skin and is somewhat of a punk, but he is very considerate and a person you would always listen to whenever he talks. He too is someone I want to become friends with if he was real.

If you didn't get my message up until now: Go and get yourself copy! Maybe it's just me who is worshiping here but I think it is definitely worth checking out. There aren't any teary parts except for one where my eyes got a little wet. Cold Hands, Warm Heart has a perfect balance of everything a realistic fiction could ever be! It will change your perspective of organ donation if you are against it. Maybe not, but you will definitely give some thought about it. To know that if you die, you can give someone else a second chance they always wanted.

Review ARC copy provided by Henry Holt and Company.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Emma by Kaoru Mori

Title: Emma
Mangaka: Kaoru Mori
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 7
My Rating: 4.5/5

Victorian England is a time where your future is predetermined by your class.

Emma is a maid working for the retired governess, Mrs. Stownar. She is kind and humble, not to mention beautiful. She is extremely loyal to her employer who took her in when she was a young girl and looks to her as a mother figure.

William Jones is the eldest son in his aristocratic family and Emma catches his eye when they first meet. His royal Indian friend, Hakim, also thinks she is quite attractive. But he backs off, knowing the two have feelings for each other.

But a maid and rich man can never be together. William's father is against their relationship. He thinks his son is selfish and should settle for Eleanor, the daughter of the Campbell family, instead. Will society drive Emma and William apart? Or is their love stronger than that?

I have to say, Emma was not as boring as I thought. The story was very pleasant in fact. Nothing along the lines of The Luxe. It's more of a mellow and relaxing read. I think the mangaka has captured the setting quite perfectly. It was said she researched extensively and even brought in a historical consultant to make sure everything was correct to the last detail. Just reading it shows how passionate the mangaka is about this old British era.

My favourite character would have to be Hakim. Tell me, how often do you see Indian characters in mangas? Like one in a million! (He reminds me of Kartik from The Great and Terrible Beauty, another favourite character of mine. I have a thing for hot fictional Indian characters...). I just love his laid-back attitude and the four Indian girls that follow him around (they are so expressionless that it's funny!). When Hakim changed into English clothing, it made me go "Yay!", haha.

Although it's a nice manga, I don't think it would be everyone's cup of tea. It requires patience to fully enjoy it. I just wish there is a little something more to Emma. It gets better and better as the volumes precede. It is definitely different from most mangas and worth checking out!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The Complete First Season)

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The Complete First Season)
Type: Show
Age Group: Teens +
Release Year: 2002
My Rating: 4.5/5

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the new student who just moved to good ol' Sunnydale. Apparently she caused a lot of trouble in her last school. But she has a good reason for her bad reputation: she is a vampire slayer.

When the school librarian, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), approaches her, she immediately rejects the idea of continuing her slaying career. After all, she left California to start a new and normal life here. Unfortunately, Sunnydale High School is right on top of Hellmouth, the gateway for demons.

Befriending Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander (Nicholas Brendon), the trio encounters a variety of supernatural evils. From a seducing praying mantis to invisible girls, Buffy tackles them all with her kick-ass fighting skills and wits.

She runs into Angel (David Boreanaz), who is a sexy and mysterious vampire. Whenever he's around, something bad will happen and he makes sure to let her know. She develops feelings for him, but can their relationship last?

Angel warns her the world will be in trouble when the The Master, an ancient and malicious vampire, rises to the surface of Earth. It is her duty to stop this from ever happening. But can Buffy handle such a powerful enemy?

When I was a kid, I never took interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was too young to understand what was happening and stuck to my Sailor Moon fandom. It wasn't until three years ago when I took notice of this show again. It aired on TV after school but I only watched three to four episodes before they removed it from the channel Razor completely. For the last two months, I was able to watch the first whole season. Even though it is an old show, I love it!

In the very beginning, I thought Alyson was a terrible actress. I found her extremely awkward as Willow for the first two episodes or so. She eventually grew and her acting became better suited for her character. And David Boreanaz? Now he was definitely eye candy of the 90s. But I had a bit of a problem with Angel's moodiness. I was not into the whole mysterious vampire act (//cough// But definitely better than a certain sparkly one //cough//). I hope to learn more about him in the next season. Sarah nailed her role as Buffy and her fighting moves were utmost impressive!

Every episode (or most), dealt with different paranormal creatures. And I liked how it was not solely based on vampires. To be honest, I thought that was what the whole show was going to be about. I didn't think there were going to be other supernatural beings thrown into the bunch. It was nice that they did this or else I might've became bored with it. (How far could you take a vampire concept without repeating yourself and make it more interesting than the last episode?) What I really wanted to know was how Buffy became a slayer. They never answered this question and she had normal parents who were unaware of what she did to save the world. I hope this would be cleared up in the later seasons.

If you haven't watched Buffy yet, really, go check it out. If you are sick of your usual vampire stories, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will make you love them all over again (like it did to me!).

Oh! And I have a little something for you! I took a picture of the actress who played the snobby, rich Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) at a convention a couple of years ago! Sorry, I don't want people stealing it and claiming the image (though I'm sure someone out there will be a thief) so I resized and watermarked it :


I had to take it a couple of times before I managed a clear shot. They hired big, fat men to block people from snapping pictures while she was at a signing. Yay for my ninja skills!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author:
Carrie Ryan
Description:
In Mary's world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.


The Guardians will protect and serve.


The Unconsecrated will never relent.


And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.


But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.


Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?



This was the first book trailer to have ever caught my attention and was meant to be posted on Trailer Tuesday for quite some time. It's creepy but full of awesomeness (I'm assuming and hoping)! And yes, it has zombies! (I know I know, I promise to make next week's non-zombie related... maybe). Sadly, I still am unable to get my hands on a copy. I pray so soon! So for those who've read it, opinions?

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Author Interview: Gitty Daneshvari

So if anyone read my review for The Makedown last month (or maybe right now), you know that I absolutely adore this down-right hilarious novel! And today I give you an interview with the one and only, Gitty Daneshvari! I am ecstatic to know that it might become a film! Especially after I mentioned how I would love to see a live version of it in my review! My wish may come true! So would you like to learn more about the book or the author? Check Gitty out at: www.gittydaneshvari.com.

What inspired you to write The Makedown?

I was sitting in a restaurant in LA when I saw Tobey Maguire, in between Spidermans, looking less than movie star fabulous. I joked to my friend that his girlfriend had “uglied” him up so now one would flirt with him. Obviously, he was far from ugly, but you get the point. And from this lunch, the idea of The Makedown was born!

How long did it take you to write the novel? And were there a lot of rewrites along the way?

It took me about two years with all the rewrites involved. I definitely did a lot of drafts with my editor as this was my first book and I had a tendency for going off track a bit!!


Is there going to be a sequel?

As of right now there isn’t a sequel in the works, although two production companies in Los Angeles are working on making it into a film. Fingers crossed!

What are your current projects?

I am currently working on the second book in my YA series SCHOOL OF FEAR which follows four kids with phobias as they are sent to an off the grid school to overcome their fears. The first book is being published by Little Brown this September 2009. Warner Bros has the film rights, so again fingers crossed that they actually make a film!

What’s your favourite comfort food? Have you ever gone all out with consumption like Anna?

I love food!! I have definitely spent a couple nights indulging in grilled cheese sandwiches while feeling low or a bit sad. My favorite place for grilled cheese sandwiches in LA is Swingers. I like to get them with avocado, extra pickles, French fries and a side of ranch dressing. I am also a huge fan of nachos or any Mexican food really.

Lastly, give us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know of!

I once poured a bottle of water over my head while on a flight because I was overheating from anxiety about flying…it was rather embarrassing, but also very funny, well at least after I calmed down.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

In My Mailbox - XX

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed

None

The Bought

None

The Received



Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson
The Elite by Jennifer Banash
A Crack in Forever by Jeannie Brewer (not shown)

Firstly, thank you LittleMoo (Rozelle) from Bookmooch for A Crack in Forever. My friend was ecstatic when I gave it to her. We were searching long and hard for the book (out of print) so she could give it for her boyfriend's birthday. And not to mention the great condition it was still in was a definite plus!

Also thank you Jennifer for sending me your book to review! I am eager to finish it!

This week, none of my new requests from the library came in. Therefore, no borrowed books. I have to still finish my stack from the last two weeks anyway. (Slowly diminishing... Slowly but surely. Until I get this week's books cause I know I will, ack!)

Thank you Diane from The Book Resort for the Super Comments Award! You give me more awards than I can count!

Lastly, head over to Hey, Teenager Of The Year to check out my interview with Steph!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn

Title: Kitty Goes to Washington
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Age Group: Adults
# of Pages: 342
My Rating: 4/5

Kitty Norville is a werewolf who hosts her own radio show, The Midnight Hour. She likes to voice her opinions but prefers to keep her face out of the public eye. Unforeseen, she is asked to testify on behalf of the supernaturals at a Senate hearing.

So she travels to Washington to meet up with her lawyer, Ben. During in traffic, she is pulled aside and discovers the vampire mistress of the city, Alette, welcomes her and wants to keep her safe from potential dangers. Weird out by her hospitality, Kitty has no choice but to stay under her care. Meanwhile, she is being watched over by the annoying vampire, Leo, and a couple of Men in Black figures who follows Alette loyally.

At a gallery show she runs into Luis, an incredibly sexy Brazilian were-jaguar. The two are attracted to each other instantly. But when there are good times, there are bad times too. For the hearing, Senator Duke tries to reveal that she is an evil being because she is not human. Kitty gets tangled up in a lot of trouble during her stay at Washington, which includes an evil fairy and unwanted broadcasting. Everyone is in it for their own gain.

I have received the second volume to review by accident instead of the first. Luckily, I did not need to know what happened before to understand this one. I quickly became accustomed to the novel by the end of the first chapter.

Instead of a specific problem, Kitty Goes to Washington is a series of events that interact with each other leading up to the climax. I liked Kitty's strong personality and her attitude towards the situations she was in, making her a great female werewolf protagonist.

This paranormal story is different from the usual plot line of good versus evil. It deals with what it is like for humans to know the existence of different species and how it is being dealt with by the government. It's definitely not over dramatic with the plot but surely a fun read. I wished Kitty's and Luis's relationship was expanded on. He wasn't there most of the time and didn't serve much of a purpose except for being the hot guy there when needed. Overall, Kitty Goes to Washington is definitely a recommendation for supernatural lovers. I am looking forward to the rest of the series and hopeful that it gets better each time.

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Interview: Gayle Nobel

Do you know what autism is? Yes? No? Either way, I have a little something different for you at Stop, Drop, and Read! Gayle Nobel is a co-author with Kathy Almeida of the non-fiction book, It's All About Attitude, for families that have to deal with autism through love ones. Today she shares with us some of her experiences of the disorder and what it was like writing the book. If you would like to know more about the authors or the book, please visit: www.autismwithattitude.com.

For those who do not know what autism is, can you please explain the condition?

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectruum disorders. (ASD) Children on the autism spectrum do not fully develop pathways in the brain between the prefrontal cortex (the brain's "executive") and the limbic system (the emotional center). Therefore, autism impairs a person's ability to relate to others. It can be, but is not always, accompanied by co-occurring conditions in other areas such as speech, motor skills, cognitive deficits, sensory disorders, seizures, allergies, and digestion. There are a wide range of functioning levels associated with autism.

What was the process like to cope with the fact that your child had autism?

At first, I felt devastated, sad and scared. The only experience I had was with my autistic brother who spent most of his life in an institution. The road to acceptance was long and challenging for me. In the beginning, I was grieving the loss of my dreams and of the child I didn't get. However, I had to get on with the business of living and helping my son be the best he could be. There were not as many options when he was small over 20 years ago. Fortunately, I ran into a philosophy that helped me form a vision of where I wanted to be emotionally. I learned the more I could accept, the happier I would be in my life. It didn't mean giving up, but it meant finding peace in the midst of what felt like adversity. I learned that by changing some of my beliefs, I could actually change my attitude and feel better. This was and is an ongoing process that really helped me cope and learn to love and live well with autism. It also helped me be a better and happier mom for my other 2 children who came along later on.

What made you finally sit down and write It’s All About Attitude with Kathy Almeida?

I was at a crossroads. After homeschooling my son for 11 years, I had just put him in school and needed something new in my life. There were so many lessons I had learned in taking care of him and living with autism, that I decided I really wanted to share them with others, particularly parents. Kathy (my coauthor) and I had been close phone pals for a very long time and combined, we had accumulated a lot of wisdom. The actual writing of the book was decided at the spur of the moment and after sharing a few initial essays with parents, we knew we were on the right track. It was definitely a very personal, joint labor of love.

What was the most difficult part for you while writing the book?

Carving out the time to write was a big challenge since Kathy and I both have sons with autism who live at home. Our sons can be a bit "high maintenance" in terms of time, energy, demand, and needs. So there was always a tremendous balancing act going on. Also, there was the challenge of writing with another person. We sometimes saw things differently in what we wanted for the book. Wanting to keep our close friendship in tact, we did a lot of compromising. I think we both grew a lot in the process of writing the book.

What have you learned while writing the book and after its completion?

In writing "It's All About Attitude", I relearned all the lessons I was sharing with my readers. Because the road to acceptance and peace is a journey, writing each story inspired me to live my own message on an even deeper level. I needed it as much as my readers did. I also learned how much goes into the writing of a book from start to finish and what's it's like to work closely with an editor. These were all new experiences for me. After its completion, I realized the journey was really just now beginning. The writing was actually the easy part. The marketing is the biggest challenge. I was also very well rewarded with feedback from my readers and became aware that this was just another way my son with autism, through the lessons he has taught me and then through my writing, has impacted the world in a big way. That awareness gives me goose bumps and is one of the things that keeps me going during some of the really challenging days with him.

Do you plan on maybe writing a fictional story based on autism and the challenges it imposes?

I hadn't really thought about fiction, though I wouldn't rule it out. Currently, I am finishing up a second inspirational book with a different, very hands-on, twist.. I very much want to be there to support parents, caregivers and on a larger scale, anyone who has any type of challenge in their life. That pretty much includes all of us!

What is the take home message for the readers?

It's All About Attitude. Our attitude determines our experience. We may not have control of a situation (ie : having a child with autism and all that it involves), but our attitude is something we do have a choice about. We hope to inspire parents to take some of the fight and struggle out of their lives and see their child in a different way. Creating a shift in attitude is all about changing perspective and even the tiny shifts can have a big impact on our quality of life and that of our family. It's a very powerful stance to take toward life.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wolverine: Prodigal Son by Antony Johnston & Wilson Tortosa

Title: Wolverine: Prodigal Son
Comic Artist:
Antony Johnston (Story) & Wilson Tortosa (Art)
Age Group:
Teens
# of Pages: 186
# of Volumes:
2
My Rating:
4/5

Logan is a formidable student at Quiet Earth, a martial arts school in a desolated part of Canada. He has a hot temper and wants to be the winner in every fight. He is raised by his teacher, Mr. Elliot, ever since he was left outside near death in front of the school at a young age. Nicknamed the "Wolverine" by his classmates, he has a secret ability to emerge claws from his knuckles.


Logan is given a challenge and completes it, winning himself a trip to New York with his teacher. But he gets more than he bargains for. The past he never remembered will be soon revealed and is one that will endanger him and those around him. Why is he being chased by people with mutant abilities like his and who is he really?

I am not a Marvel fan so to have received the manga version of Wolverine, I was not sure what to expect. To say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The transition of the scenes went by smoothly, unlike plain American comics. The art itself would be considered manga-ish but with a CAPCOM twist. The facial expressions were done quite well too. The storyline was enthralling in its own action-packed way and I loved the character designs. Logan and the villains were quite interesting, making me wanted to learn more about them. You do not need to know what happened to Wolverine in Marvel to understand this story because they are completely different. I am definitely looking forward to the second volume.
Recommended to shonen (manga geared towards males) fans who enjoys Marvel also.

Review copy provided by
Del Rey.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watching on Wednesday: Fired Up!

Title: Fired Up!
Type: Movie
Age Group:
Teens +
Release Year:
2009
My Rating:
5/5

Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) and Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) are your football athletes. They are also your players and no, not just game players if you know what I mean. Girls are always on their minds and, well, on them.


During a bonfire party, the duo finds out that their school cheerleaders are going to cheerleading camp with over 300 girls attending. Now that is a lot of new booties for the two best friends to get their hands on. So they come up with an ingenious plan to skip out on football camp which overlaps with the cheerleaders' to join them! This uproarious new film will have you falling off the edge of your seat in laughter!


I think I have found my movie of the year. I went to the theaters last week with my friend and we did not regret spending our money on it! Fired Up! is a hilarious movie that all teens should watch and get a kick out of. No worries, it is not as dirty as Super Bad but there are a few scenes that people may get offended from.


Shawn is a sweet guy once you get past his playboy ways and Nick is comical in every way whenever he opens his mouth. I think the two actors played their roles perfectly. In fact, I became Nicholas D'Agosto's fan right after! (Honestly, I never heard of him before this movie and I think he resembles a lot like Owen Wilson!) This movie appeals to both females and males because not only does it have butt-cracking jokes but there are times where you would just go "Awwww!".


If you are looking for a comedy (and possibly romantic) film, please, you got to go and watch Fired Up!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Truancy by Isamu Fukui

Title: Truancy
Author:
Isamu Fukui
Description:
In an alternate world, in a nameless totalitarian city, the autocratic Mayor rules the school system with an iron fist, with the help of his Educators. Fighting against the Mayor and his repressive Educators is a group of former students called the Truancy, whose goal is to take down the system by any means possible—at any cost.

Against this backdrop, fifteen-year-old Tack is just trying to survive. His days are filled with sadistic teachers, unrelenting schoolwork, and indifferent parents. Things start to look up when he meets Umasi, a mysterious boy who runs a lemonade stand in an uninhabited district.

Then someone close to Tack gets killed in the crossfire between the Educators and the Truants, and Tack swears vengeance. To achieve his purpose, he abandons his old life and joins the Truancy. There, he confronts Zyid, an enigmatic leader with his own plans for Tack. But Tack soon finds himself torn between his desire for vengeance and his growing sympathy for the Truants….

So I decided to take a break from my zombie madness and skimmed for some new book trailers. Truancy is a novel that has caught my interest many times at the store because the author wrote this book when he was fifteen years old. (Now he is eighteen I believe?) There are a small number of young published writers out there so I really want to know how good this one is. I don't like the trailer personally but the plot sounds intriguing.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

V.B. Rose by Banri Hidaka

Title: V.B. Rose
Mangaka:
Banri Hidaka
Age Group:
Teens
# of Pages:
Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 6
My Rating:
2.5/5

Talented purse maker, Ageha, adores her older sister. In fact, she has a huge sister complex. When she finds out that Hibari is getting married, she is absolutely shocked! How could her beloved sibling go off and get engaged without her knowing?!?


Reluctantly, she agrees to go with Hibari for her wedding dress fitting. It is going to be custom-made at the bridal design shop, Velvet Blue Rose, in the hands of two skilled and handsome young men. During their visit there, Ageha blows up. She can not bare to know that her sister will go away with some boring man and leave her like this. She immediately gets kicked out of the store by the owner for her impudent behaviour. Finally realizing that this is Hibari's happiness, she must not ruin it for her. So she decides to help out by aiding in the completion of the wedding dress. Can Ageha put asides her own feelings for the sake of her sister's?


It sounded and looked cute but the story was very dull. I read this manga once before in the bookstore and I remembered skimming a lot through it. Now that I re-read it carefully, it didn't get any better. I loved the wedding dresses idea, but that was about it. Everything just rolled by without actually peaking my interest. Even the ending climax was not so exciting. In fact, I was quite annoyed at Ageha. Her obsession with her sister frustrated me. She was whiny and would throw fits because she did not approve of her sister's marriage. I could not stand characters like her that caused tantrum.


The art itself was clean and cute but the two designers, Yukari and Mitsuya, did not look like they were over 20 years old. In fact, they looked younger. I mean, there are plenty of mangas out there where the characters appear older than their age but to have them look younger? This part bothered me a bit.

Overall, V.B. Rose something you should not invest in. My younger sister really liked it so this manga would be more suitable for a younger girl. If you want, maybe read it to pass time. I am not keen on picking up the second volume but will if the library purchases it.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

In My Mailbox - XIX

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed



Bleach vol. 24 by Tite Kubo
N A N A vol. 10-12 by Ai Yazawa
School Rumble vol. 5 by Jin Kobayashi
V.B. Rose vol. 1 by Banri Hidaka
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

The Bought

None

The Received



Corrector Yui vol. 1 by Kia Asamiya
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
She's So Money by Cherry Cheva
Juline vol. 1 by Narumi Kakinouchi
More How to Draw Manga vol. 3: Enhancing a Character's Sense of Presence by Go Office

I thank
Cassie from Bookmooch for sending me Corrector Yui, Juline, and How to Draw Manga!

Soon, my TBR pile will be as tall as me. Sadly I did not get a chance to finish Airhead by Meg Cabot and had to return it before it was overdue (someone requested it so I could not renew). And jeezus, I have so many borrowed mangas in waiting also. I pray to minimize the pile but I doubt it'll happen anytime soon...

Before I forget!:

Want to win a star? Yes, a real star! Well, all you have to is enter Elizabeth Scott's Something, Maybe Out Of This World contest!

Here's how you enter:

1. Buy a copy of Something, Maybe, which is available at your favorite local bookstore and also at Wal-Mart and save the receipt.

2. Take a picture of the receipt and then send the picture to elizabethscottcontest@gmail.com

3. Once Elizabeth gets the picture of your receipt, you'll be entered into the Out Of This World contest!

Here are the prizes:

First Prize: A star (If you read the book, you'll know why this is the first prize, and not only will you get your very own star--you'll even get to name it, and it is your star FOREVER!)

Second Prize: Two people will each get a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore of their choice

Third Prize: Three people will a signed copy of any of Elizabeth's current novels--including the upcoming Love You Hate You Miss You

Again, all you have to do to enter is buy Something, Maybe and send a picture of your receipt to elizabethscottcontest@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Title: How to Ditch Your Fairy
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 307
My Rating: 4.5/5

In this world, everyone (well a majority of the population) has their own fairy. From the good hair fairy to the bladder fairy (where you would never need to go when you are in the middle of a presentation and a washroom would always be present when needed), there are so many kinds of fairies beyond one's imagination. Each invisible fairy a person has would be their key to success in life.

Charlie is stuck with a fairy she believes that is absolutely horrible: a parking fairy. So whenever she is in a car, that car would always find the perfect parking space no matter how crowded a lot may be. But she hates her fairy. She can't even drive yet! With her stupid fairy, she is constantly being tracked down by the school bully so he could get a convenient parking space. Sick of it all, Charlie wants to get rid of her fairy, no matter what it takes!

So what to do? She decides to work with her enemy, Fiorenze (she has the all-the-boy-likes-you fairy), who's parents are fairy geniuses. When Charlie finally gets what she wants, she discovers that it is not all that great as it seems.

This novel sparked my interest ever since I saw it around the net. It seemed like something I would enjoy because the plot seemed light and adorable. And I am happy that it came out to my expectations!

New Avalon (location of this book) school's system is completely different from our own. It is very strict and quite amusing to see how something as simple as not wearing clothes properly would get you a demerit. The New Avaloners are so proud of their own city and that they do not think beyond their borders. Their society contrasts to our own world but works well with the story.

I simply adored the idea of having your own fairy. The frustration of having a parking fairy for Charlie was hilarious. She would always be on the run from Danders Anders (the bully) and would constantly rack up demerits. It was comical how she took extreme measures to get rid of her fairy. I don't know if I would even go that far to get rid of mine (well, unless it was really crappy one like, always-get-pooped-on-by-a-bird fairy)!

After reading this novel, you would be pondering about what fairy you might have. I did this for a day and came to a realization what mine was! An always-having-an-excuse-to-not-go-somewhere-when-doesn't-want-to-with-friends fairy. It's true! Every time my friends invite me a hang with them and I'm not in the mood, something always occur to stop me from possibly going. For example: getting sick, a couple of friends are suddenly busy, holidays result in no stores being opened (haha, these are all the ones that happened so far!), and etc.

If you are looking for a fun read, How to Ditch Your Fairy is for you! Do not expect a deep, provoking plot with characters of so many layers in any possible way. But it keeps you turning the pages for sure!

Oh, and those who have already read it, what is your fairy?

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Author Interview: Amanda Ashby

Zombie this, zombie that, I don't think I will ever get tired of them! Speaking of zombies, today I have a new author interview for you! Amanda Ashby is the author of the funny and zombirific young adult novel, Zombie Queen of Newbury High! You can learn more about Amanda either on her site: http://amandaashby.com/ or her blog: http://amandaashby.blogspot.com/.

If we were in an Apocalypse right now, what do you think your chances of survival are?

Pretty good because I’ve been secretly taking some special pills that will make me taste bleurgh to all zombies. In fact if they even take one bite of me they will shrivel up and die. Best news is that these pills are chocolate coated!!!!

Let's say you and your love ones are separated by cities. Would you try to save them, knowing the fact that the city they are in are crawling with zombies? And not knowing if they are alive, dead, or already escaped?

Okay so I’m not a particularly brave person but there is no way in the world I’d let any zombies munch on my kids so yes, I’d definitely go back and those zombies had better be scared because I’ll have my mean face on!!!

If you became a zombie, who would be the first person you would want to snack on first?

Is it wrong that it would be David Boreanaz????

Are you planning on making a sequel to Zombie Queen of Newbury High by any chance?

If my publisher would like a sequel I’d be happy to do one. In fact I already have a rough plot and let’s just say that if Mia caused all the problems this time around, in the next book, it will be Candice that makes a wee small mistake!!!!

What is your current project at the moment? Can you please give us a brief description on what it is about?

My next book for Puffin is about a girl who goes to an elite slaying academy and longs to follow in her dragon-slaying mom’s footsteps. Instead she gets stuck slaying four-inch fairies. Not exactly the stuff that high destiny is made of, but things start to go a bit crazy when she suddenly starts to another kind of fairy that no one has ever heard of before and this is one is a lot bigger. And a lot more dangerous as well…

What kind of themes/genres are you planning on writing in the future?

I love writing young adult books with a touch of paranormal but I could see myself eventually trying to write a mid-grade fantasy book (though whether I’d be any good at it is another thing entirely!!!)

What is your favourite zombie movie of all times?

Shaun of the Dead

And lastly, please give us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know about!

I can’t spell. Like really can’t spell, which is pretty embarrassing to admit since I’m a writer. Thank goodness for spell checker, critique partners and editors, that’s all I can say!!!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Title: The Luxe
Author:
Anna Godbersen
Age Group:
Teens
# of Pages: 433
My Rating:
5/5

In the late 19th century of the fashionable New York City, gossip of the rich and reputable families are always the latest news. Elizabeth Holland is an uprising star with beauty, grace, and manners. She is the pride of the Holland family. All girls wish they could be her and all guys wish to be with her.

Diana Holland is the opposite of her delicate and soft-spoken sister. She wants excitement and thinks her luxurious life is a bore. She is not afraid to speak her mind and is quite fearless compared to Elizabeth.

The lives of both sisters change completely when they find out their family is not as stable as they thought. Arranged marriages, forbidden love, scandalous events, and backstabbing so-called friends, The Luxe has it all delivered in a pretty written package of rich imagery.


The first thing that drew me to this book was the lavishing cover of the lovely model and the exquisite dress. But, did the story lived up to its appearance? I can confidently say yes, yes, and yes!


The difficult thing about writing a historical novel is capturing the era for the audience. I am not so familiar with what life was like back in 1899 but, The Luxe brought the past to me through its pages. The novel guided me through the eyes of the different characters who were observing the affairs occurring around them. I saw what the characters were experiencing and understood the reasons why they did what they did. I hated them, I loved them, and sometimes I didn't know what to feel about them! I liked how each and every one of them played a significant role to give the story more depth and desire for the reader to continue on.

I personally do not read many novels dealing with history but I can see why so many people love The Luxe. One can relate it to Gossip Girl but I find it a hundred times better. The author kept building up tension in the plot, making the reader curious to know what would happen next. The fact that all the characters are teenagers, most of the readers (female teens especially) would love to put themselves in the position where they could live the dramatic and high-end life. The Luxe unfolds in front of you and all you need to do to keep enjoying the show is to continue reading.

Review copy provided by
Book Divas.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trailer Tuesday: Breathers: A Zombie Lament by S.G. Browne

Title: Breathers: A Zombie Lament
Author:
S.G. Browne
Description:
Meet Andy Warner, a recently deceased everyman and newly minted zombie. Resented by his parents, abandoned by his friends, and reviled by a society that no longer considers him human, Andy is having a bit of trouble adjusting to his new existence. But all that changes when he goes to an Undead Anonymous meeting and finds kindred souls in Rita, an impossibly sexy recent suicide with a taste for the formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and Jerry, a twenty-one-year-old car crash victim with an exposed brain and a penchant for Renaissance pornography. When the group meets a rogue zombie who teaches them the joys of human flesh, things start to get messy, and Andy embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will take him from his casket, to the SPCA, to a media-driven class-action lawsuit on behalf of the rights of zombies everywhere.

Breathers is a contemporary dark comedy about life, or undeath, through the eyes of an ordinary zombie. It’s a classic story of suffering and redemption, like The Color Purple or the New Testament. Only with cannibalism.


Forgive me, I could not resist putting up another zombie trailer. I heard of Breathers awhile back and thought that it is a book I have to pick up! I didn't get a chance to do that yet but I hope so soon! I love the twist to the whole zombie plot!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

In My Mailbox - XVIII

To do your own In My Mailbox, please check out how to at The Story Siren!

The Borrowed



Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney vol. 1 by CAPCOM
Bleach vol. 23 by Tite Kubo
Dragon Drive vol. 10 by Kenichi Sakura
Emma vol. 1-2 by Kaoru Mori
Eyeshield 21 vol. 5 by Riichiro Inagaki & Yusuke Murata
Hikaru no Go vol. 12-13 by Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata
Honey and Clover vol. 3 by Chica Umino
Hoshin Engi vol. 6-8 by Ryu Fujisaki
Shaman King vol. 15 by Hiroyuki Takei
Monster vol. 2-6 by Naoki Urasawa

The Bought

None

The Received



Wolverine: Prodigal Son vol. 1 by Antony Johnston & Wilson Tortosa
The Puppet Wrangler by Vicki Grant

Don't you love it when the library gets new books? I do, especially when it comes to manga. I would check their site every other day to see if there are any new shipments. When there is, I would start requesting. And a huge pile would be waiting for me like above.

I want to thank Athena from Bookmooch for The Puppet Wrangler and I am glad to have another book by the great comedical writer, Vicki Grant. I also want to thank Diane from The Book Resort again for the Zombie Chicken Award! Haha, with all of these awards being given, I don't think I will have time to do the nominations!

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Forever... by Judy Blume

Title: Forever...
Author: Judy Blume
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: 220
My Rating: 2/5

Katherine meets Michael at a party and they immediately hit it off right away. Their love for each other grows everyday and even becomes very physical. They believe they are going to be together forever. Until one event changes everything.

Who here read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing? Now that is a kids' classic. I loved it when I was in elementary. So when I got Forever..., I had no idea what to expect because this was my first YA novel by Judy Blume. How should I put my thoughts of it? She wrote it exactly in the style she did for her younger audiences.

The writing was extremely brief and if you skipped a line while reading, you would jump to the next scene without expecting it! Therefore, no depth in characters. Everything just went by with a lot of dialogue. I think this took me a month to finish because I was absolutely bored with it. The plot did not build up and the climax wasn't even a climax. If you read it, you can tell the difference of the stories written recently and ones from a couple of decades ago. Forever... explores a lot on sex and the responsibility you have to take in account if you wish to decide on intercourse. Comparing the sex in teen books now to back then, they took it much more seriously. If you are offended by explicit content, you shouldn't look into it. Either way, I wouldn't recommend it in the first place.

I just have to add that what made the story extremely awkward was the fact that Michael's penis had a name. So whenever Katherine mentioned it by name, I thought it was absolutely strange. Naming body parts is extremely weird in my case.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Pixie by Mathieu Mariolle & Aurore

Title: Pixie
Author: Mathieu Mariolle (Story) & Aurore (Art)
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 98
My Rating: 2.5/5

As a prince stuck in a palace with nowhere to go, Ael dreams of breaking free from his boring, royal life to go on wild and exciting adventures. He adores listening to the stories that his tutor tells him about the magical creatures from far away lands. Oh how Ael wishes to encounter these fairy tale races.

Meet Pixie. He is your round-and-about thief who attempted to rob Ael. By mistake, he takes the young prince along with him when he could not remove the expensive bracelet from the child's wrist. While on the run, Pixie and Ael found themselves mysteriously transported to an unknown land. The prince is thrilled to to know that his wish is finally coming true, not caring the fact that he is kidnapped! He later discovers he has an ability that may cause disaster by those wanting to take advantage of it. With his life endangered, will Ael and his newfound friends escape from those chasing after them?

I follow the artist of Pixie on the popular art site, Deviantart. When I heard that Tokyopop decided to release the English version of it, I was desperate for a copy because I wanted to support a favourite artist. I was lucky to have received a free copy!

I found the plot confusing, which is a major letdown. I understood the basics while it focuses on Ael and Pixie but when it moves to the bad guys' side to the story, I had no idea what was going on. When the scenes transisted from one to another, it came out choppy. I got lost often and I would need to re-read it later to figure out the situation. The art is very lovely but that is about it to Pixie. It has great potential but needs to redo from beginning to end before I could change my mind.

Free copy provided by Anna from TangognaT.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Author Interview: Lynn Messina

No Watching on Wednesday post for today (because jeezus, when do I actually sit down without squirming to watch a movie if not in theaters?) but I do have an author interview! Lynn Messina wrote the fun, hip novel about an inspired journalist working at a popular magazine company, Savvy Girl!

Her site is still under construction so you can view Chrissy's (the protagonist of Savvy Girl) site for more info: http://www.savvygirl.us/

First, I am curious to know what led you to write Savvy Girl?

I've always loved teen books and wrote a bunch of them when I was younger. I sent them out to publishers but no one was interested, so I switched to mysteries (which nobody was interested in either). Then after my third novel came out, an editor I was friendly with emailed and asked if I'd ever thought of writing a YA book. I immediately wrote back and said no, because I didn't want to go there again. But once I stated thinking about it I couldn't stop. So I emailed her some ideas.

Did you write the story from your own experience or through research?

I'm terrible at research. I can google and wiki, but my skill ends there. Almost all my stories are from experience. Right now, I'm at Self, so Chrissy works at a health-oriented women's magazine. A few years ago, I worked at In Style, so my novel Fashionistas is set a celebrity style magazine.

Who is your favourite character from Savvy Girl? Why?

Adele, the editor who makes Chrissy do most of her work because she's too busy planning her wedding. She was the most fun to write because she's over-the-top and silly.

Who do you think you relate most to in the novel and in what way?

I relate most to Chrissy because she gets a lot of things wrong and so do I. The difference is, she thinks she has everything under control and I know I don't.

Moving on to a personal level, did you see yourself going into a writing career? What else have you worked as (or still is) before becoming an author? And what do you want to be right now if you are not an author?

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 15. I'd just finished reading the silliest book ever (girl creates and sells video game and convinces parents to let her build house in backyard with proceeds) and thought, Hey, I could do better. So I did. Or, rather, I tried. And I've been trying ever since.

For most of my career I've been a copyeditor for magazines, which means I make sure the articles make sense and are grammatically correct. (We also fix for repeated words like "make" in the previous sentence.) I still do this two weeks a month at Self. I spend the other two weeks at home writing. It's the perfect schedule for me because I love the people I work with and after two weeks by myself I can't wait to get back into an office and chat.

I have no idea what I'd do if I weren't a writer or copyeditor. I love to sit in a big comfy chair in a cafe drinking hot chocolate and eating pastry but I don't think anyone pays you to do that.

What is the most difficult thing about being a writer? And the best thing?

The most difficult thing is unfortunately the commercial aspect. It's all very well and good to write something you love but then you have to find someone else who loves it enough to publish it. That's rare. The best part is the writing itself, the moment when you finally manage to say exactly what you want to say in exactly the way you want to say it. That's rare too.

After writing a few books, what is the greatest lesson you've learned about being a writer?

That it's always hard. Having finished one or two or even twelve books doesn't make starting the next one easier. A blank page is always daunting.

Are you in the middle of writing a new novel? Or about to release one soon? If so, can you please give a brief summary about it?

Right now I'm working on a science fiction story about robots. It's totally crazy because I've never been into science fiction or robots but I had an idea and went with it (and googled constantly). I haven't submitted it to publishers yet so I don't know what kind of future it has. But fingers crossed.

Fact about me: A hippopotamus once pooped on my tent. I was camping in Kenya and in the middle of the night I heard a sound like it was raining but it stopped immediately and I went back to sleep. In the morning, I saw--and smelled--the mess. Hippos wag their tail while pooping so it scatters everywhere. Lucky me.

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