Harmony Book Reviews

Archive for March 2008

I’m very happy to say that I have an interview with Jennifer E. Smith, who wrote The Comeback Season, which was recently released. I absolutely adored it and if you haven’t already, you should check out my review. Enjoy!

So what does it feel like to be a published Young Adult author?

It’s very exciting. I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, so it’s a lot of fun now that it’s finally happened. I actually work in publishing, so I see people go through this process all the time, and to many authors – particularly the ones who have written a lot of books – this whole process becomes sort of routine. I can understand that, of course, but from where I’m sitting now, I can’t imagine ever not wanting to jump for joy when you see a finished copy of your own book!

When did you first know you wanted to be an author? When did you first begin writing?

I won a short story contest in fourth grade, and I feel like that’s when the idea was first put into my head. In seventh and eighth grade, I wrote my first “book” – a 200 page story about a girl and a racehorse that I’m sure I thought was brilliant at the time. In high school, I had a couple of very encouraging teachers, and I continued writing through college, but even though I always secretly hoped to be a published author, I don’t think I ever really believed it would actually happen. It seemed to me a lot like winning the lottery. (It still does, in fact!)

What was your road to publication like?

It was easy in some ways, and very difficult in others. I wrote lots of stuff before this that will probably never see the light of day, and I experienced my fair share of rejection, which I actually think is a very important part of the process. So overall, I wouldn’t say it’s been completely smooth sailing. But with this book, something just clicked. My editor bought it after reading the first sixty pages, and the whole thing only took about six months to write. It sounds corny, but I really believe that if you just keep at it, things work themselves out in the end.

How did you come up with the idea for The Comeback Season?

It really came to me in pieces. I guess I got the initial inspiration one night while watching the Cubs lose for what felt like the millionth time. I was flipping back and forth between the game and the movie “Fever Pitch”, which was on another channel, and I got to thinking about how Cubs fans have an equally interesting (albeit depressing) history, and how they deserve to have their story told too, and then the image of Ryan sitting on the train on her way down to the ballpark just sort of popped into my head. I didn’t know what would happen at the game, or that she’d meet Nick, or anything else that followed. But I somehow knew her whole history, and so I just sort of went along for the ride with her, and figured out the rest from there.

How is the published copy different from the first draft you wrote?

It actually didn’t change as much as I thought it would. There are entire scenes that are hardly different from when I first sat down to write them. The biggest difference is the ending – I won’t say too much, because I don’t want to give it away, but I flip-flopped a lot on how Nick’s story would come out in the end, and I wrote three different endings before deciding on this one.

Who is your favorite character in The Comeback Season? Which one are you most like?

I think the answer to both those questions would be Ryan. We’re not completely alike – she’s had a much more difficult time of things than I ever did – but her personality is a lot like mine was at that age. She’s a little bit shy, somewhat hesitant, and very introspective. She’s probably too impatient for her own good, especially with her family, and she’s not the least bit interested in facts, but she’s got a lot of heart and is basically a good egg. I had a lot of fun writing her.

For those of us who know nothing about the Cubs (me included), is everything included in your book about how they never won the World Series and the goat story, along with the other stuff, true?

Yes, all true! It’s hard to believe, I know. This year will be the 100th season since they last won a World Series. And though some people would argue that the curse doesn’t actually exist, the goat most certainly did, and I sort of feel like he’s been mocking us ever since!

What are some of your favorite authors?

I actually don’t read as many YA books as I’d like to, mostly because I spend a lot of time reading and editing other types of books for work. I do love John Green and Meg Rosoff, and also some of the more classic books by authors like Katherine Patterson and Wilson Rawlings. And I absolutely adore J.K. Rowling. I mean, who doesn’t?

What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?

I’m working on another YA book called You Are Here, about a boy and a girl who come from different backgrounds and seem like complete opposites, but who get thrown together on a sort of haphazard road trip, and find out they’re a lot more similar than they thought. It’ll be out in Summer 2009.

Do you have any advice for your teen fans?

Read a lot. Then write a lot. Then read some more. It might sound really obvious, but you’d be amazed how much you can learn about writing by reading books you admire. And then the only way to figure out whether you can write one yourself is by sitting down and actually attempting to do it!

Thanks so much!

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As a teen book reviewer, I feel that it’s my job to come up with ways to promote the books I read, especially for the ones I recieve directly from the authors. From now on, I will be posting each review I write on Amazon, my myspace page, and Barnes and Nobles. I will also be starting a newsletter that will be sent out monthly where I will write about books (and authors) that I feel need to be talked about. Along with these, I’ve come up with others ways to promote your book. If you’re interested in any of these, please shoot me an email or a message and I’ll give you the information you need.

Reviews

If you’d like me to review your book and post it on my blog, along with the other places discussed, I’d be happy to send you my address. Please note that I read TEEN books ONLY. (Though if it’s an adult book that will appeal to teens, I’m willing to try it.) I can’t give you a date as to when I’ll have the book reviewed, as I’ll probably have other books too, but I do try to read and review it within a month.

Interview

If I’ve read you’re book, I’m always willing to do an interview. Interviews are posted on my blog and myspace and mentioned in other places as well. I’ve found that readers (definitely me) are more likely to buy a book after they’ve read an interview with the author and learned more about them.

Chat on my Forum

I have a forum for teen reviewers to get together and hang out. I want to start hosting monthly chats with authors. This not only gets reviewers even more excited about the book, it helps us get to know the authors better, which might even make us want to recommend the book even more than normal.

Book Giveaway

EVERYONE loves to win stuff, and books are no exception to that. Quite a few people enter book giveways (probably more than you imagine) and they’re a great way to promote. If you’d like to give away a copy (or two or five) of your book, please let me know. I’ll take care of the contest and pick the winner. Then, I’ll give you the address of the winner and you can send the book out.

Author of the Month

This is by far the most popular feature on my blog. Each month, a different author is featured on my blog. Since so many authors love this idea, I try to make the AOM one whose book is coming out that month. If you’d like to be AOM when one of your books comes out, please let me know. I already have a few months booked, so it’s best to reserve your spot ASAP. When you’re AOM, we’ll discuss doing a bunch of different things, but an interview, review, and giveaway are the most common.

Any of this sound good? If you’re interested in any of it, whether you’re a published YA/MG author or a soon-to-be published author, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Can’t wait to hear from you,
Harmony

I’m happy to say that I have even more questions with answers from the fantastic D. Anne Love. I know one interview usually does it but since she’s the Author of the Month and due to certain reasons, I was unable to ask questions about her latest novel, Defying the Diva, in the previous interview, I’m adding some more. So I hope you all enjoy!

What inspired you to write Defying the Diva?
I mentor a couple of teen writing groups. After Semiprecious was
published, and Picture Perfect was in production, I was looking for a
subject for a new book. A couple of my teen writers suggested writing
about school bullies, because as one of them said, “It’s a huge problem.” When my research revealed that as many as 6 million teens are involved in episodes of bullying each year, and that as many as 100,000 skip school every day to avoid being harassed, physically harmed, or worse, I knew I had to write about it.  Haley faces some serious verbal bullying from Camilla. Did you have  anything similar happen to you during High School? Because I was a southern girl living in the northeast during my last three years of high school, I  took a lot of taunting  and insults from the other kids about my accent, my clothes, and my home state.  It  didnt’ rise to the level of what Camilla did to Haley, but it made my life pretty miserable. As I was writing DIVA, I definitely remembered the feelings of hurt and isolation stemming from that situation.
 
Defying the Diva has a cast full of unique and realistic characters. (Harrison was my favorite.) Which character was the hardest to write?Which one was easiest?
Thanks. I love Harrison, too. As I was writing him, I so wished I’d had a boyfriend like him in high school. He is totally comfortable in his own skin. Wise beyond his years. I miss him. Evan was a hard character to write, because I had to show him as desirable and at the same time, careless with Haley’s emotions. Evan is the quintessential boy who’s
bad for you and at the same time, hard to resist.. It was a balancing act. Camilla was among the easiest to write, because I’d spent a long time thinking about her, reading up on the psychology of bullies in general, and figuring out her backstory before I began the actual writing. Frankie was loosely based on one of my best friends  from college, so she came to life easily, too. I loved writing the interplay between Frankie and Nora. The scene where they kidnap Haley for the trip to Beauty Emporium is one of my favorites.
 Which character is most like you?
Like Haley, I had a hard time in school for a while, and I was also a
budding journalist. I got involved in journalism my sophomore year in
high school. Writing for the paper and being named editor in chief my
senior year became my saving grace.

If Defying the Diva were to become a movie and you could choose the 
actors and actresses, who would you pick to act in the role of your 
characters?

Oh man, that’s a hard one I am so busy I hardly ever get to the movies
so I’m not that familiar with  the current roster of young actors.
Ellen Page was great in Juno. She could play Haley. I’d have to think about
who to cast as Camilla, Frankie, Nora, Evan, and Harrison. Who would
YOU cast?? Maybe your readers could weigh in. I’d love to know who they
think should be in the movie.

Readers: If you have any suggestions about who you think should be cast as the characters in Defying the Diva, be sure to leave a comment.

Thank you so much for doing this second interview!

I have a habit of making New Year’s Resolutions and breaking them at this time of year. This year I’m going try to keep as many of them as possible. Since I’ve been participating in a bunch of book challenges this year and I’m actually keeping up with most of them, I’ve decided that the best way to keep my New Year’s Resolutions was to start a book challenge.

So here’s the deal: Pick one, two, three, or how every many New Year’s Resolutions you want and read at LEAST ONE book on each of them and it between March 24 and December 31st 2008. For example, the resolutions I made were to expand my music knowledge and taste, keep up with scrapbooking and cardmaking, and to care about my looks and keep my body healthy. So I could read a biography on a band, a book on scrapbooking ideas, and a book with tips and recipes for natural hair products, etc.

It doesn’t matter what your resolution is  as long as you can read a book – fiction or nonfiction – to help keep the resolution, feel free to join me. All you have to do is leave a comment on the Challenge Page to let me know you’re joining me and try to leave a comment whenever you post a review for a book that you’re using as part of this challenge.

 Any questions? Let me know

The Comeback SeasonWhen Ryan Walsh skips school on the day of the opening Cubs game, she’s not worried about her lack of friends, her horrible math grade, or that it’s been five years since she was last happy. All she can think about is that she’s finally returning to the place where she and her father spent so many afternoons cheering for their favorite team and that it’s the fifth anniversay of his death.

Good luck is hard to come by at Wrigley Field but it’s on there that she first meets Nick, whom she’s seen around school but never really had the chance to talk to. It seems that Nick loves the Cubs almost as much as she does and they instantly connect, though Ryan has a hard time believing it. But everything isn’t perfect for them. When Nick disappears for the summer, Ryan finds out that he’s been keeping a secret and she begins to wonder if they can ever really be together.

The Comeback Season is a gripping, raw, and heartbreaking novel about first love, baseball, and friendship. Ryan is a character that I believe most girls can relate to and Nick is the boy all girls want to meet. Even though I know absolutely nothing about baseball and don’t really care about, I found The Comeback Season hard to put down once I began reading it. Though there’s a bunch of baseball references in it, The Comeback Season is more of a story about first love, loss, and friendship and I would recommend it to anyone, whether they’re a baseball fan or not. Just as the blurb on the back says, The Comeback Season will make you cry, laugh, and cry again.

I’m very happy to announce that I’m finally able to post an interview with our marvelous Author of the Month, D. Anne Love.  This is the first part of the interview and I will have another, more focused on Defying the Diva very soon!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in third grade, one of my teachers encouraged me after
reading a story I wrote. I was a total bookworm, and from then on all I
 ever really wanted to be was a writer.
 Do you remember what your first stories were like? Do you still have 
any of them?

I wrote adventures set in exotic locales I read about in my geography
book. One was about a trip down the Amazon. One was about two kids who
meet a magic tiger. I dont’ have any of those early efforts, though.
 
What’s it like being a writer? What is your favorite and least  favorite thing?
Being a writer is just the coolest thing. I get paid to tell stories.
What could be better than that? My favorite thing is actually revising
first drafts. That’s when I see the story really taking shape and it’s
so much fun. Least favorite?? Having to worry about sales. It’s tough
nowadays when there are so many other ways people can be entertained.
But to me, there will never be anything better than a real book. It’s 
portable, it never needs plugging in, and best of all, each reader
brings her own experiences and  imagination to the story. I love
books!!!!!
  
I’ve heard it’s hard to choose but do you have a favorite book you
wrote?

Of course I love them all. I get a ton of reader mail on SEMIPRECIOUS
and I love that so many readers care about Garnet and Opal, the sisters
 in the story. DEFYING THE DIVA is close to my heart, because it deals
with a painful and important topic affecting so many teen girls today.

Everyone is addicted to atleast one TV show. What show(s) do you 
refuse to miss?
Okay, you got me! I confess that I am addicted to American Idol. My
friend and fellow author Rachel Cohn got me hooked when we toured
together a few years back. I really had never even heard of it, but
after Rachel talked about it I tuned in and was hooked. Once the show
ends each May, I really don’t watch much TV until the new season starts
 the following February. I do think in recent years the tryouts have
just become totally silly and outrageous, but it’s still fun….

Do you listen to music when you write or at any other time? What are your favorite bands and solo singers?
Lots of my  fellow authors listen to music when writing but I need
total quiet. If I am writing about a certain time period, I will listen to
music from that period while I am researching. When I was working on
SEMIPRECIOUS, I listened to a lot  of 60’s music. I’m working on a
novel about a girl who loves the Beatles, so I’m listening to them now. I
love everything  from jazz to blues to rock. Right now, I’m into The Fray; I
 have one of their songs on my MySpace page…I just discovered an up
and coming band called Lady Antebellum. I listen to Sugarland just to hear
the amazing Jennifer Nettles.When I’m in a mellow mood, I put on jazz,
John Coltrane or Diana Krall.
 
What can fans expect from you in the future?
Working on a couple of projects —a new novel and another project. I’m
 not sure yet what form it will take.
  
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for reading DEFYING THE DIVA. I hope you enjoy Haley’s
story….
 
-Harmony

Cover ImageFirst love is the greatest thing in the world. Until it ends. When it does, you wonder if you’ll ever make it. Or maybe you decide that guys are jerks and you pretend that it doesn’t bother you. The truth is that breaking up sucks, especially the first time. No one likes to grow through it, but everyone loves reading about it.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is the perfect short story collection to read about breaking up. Four short stories, each by an amazing author, tell the stories of Toby, who loses his girlfriend because he won’t have sex, of Dee who realizes that her relationship was nothing but research for a book, of Lisa who’s changed by her boyfriend and then dumped because she was “practice” and not pretty enough, and of Mia, who realizes her girlfriend can’t decide whether she’s straight or gay and ends up hurting Mia in more ways than one.
 
I don’t read short stories very often, because I always want more but I loved each of the stories. Each story was unique and written in a very different style (one was even written in verse) but they all went great together. If I had to pick my favorite of these stories, it would have to be the story about Mia. I loved reading about the acceptance club at school and Wade was just amazing.
I would definitely recommend getting this book as soon as it comes out. It’s amazing.


  • Megan: Just read LAST CHRISTMAS. I would SOOO reccomend it to people who havent even read the private series. It is soo good.The suspense was kiling me all t
  • Lola: Oh my gosh! i just finished it....i googled the song for i had never herd it before......may have been a mistake because it is in my head for taciturn
  • mais: heeeyyyy.... can anyonePLEASE give me the link or even send me the copy of the eighth book(revelation on my email because i cant find it anywhere for

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