Harmony Book Reviews

Archive for June 2008

I’ve recently read some posts by certain people whining because their books don’t get as much publicity with reviewers as others do and there’s been other authors asking what the best way to get noticed by the reviewers is. I’m going to attempt to answer.

The reason that some authors get more publicity with reviewers is because they make themselves AVAILABLE. They ADVERTISE. They have websites, blogs, myspaces, and they CONTACT the reviewers.  If you want us to review your book, we have to know about it and we have to be able to contact you.  But if you really want a lot of publicity, you should contact US. I know of quite a few reviewers who find it rude to contact the authors to ask for review copies and wait for the authors to contact them.

Besides just handing out any review copies you might have, you need to make your self available. Most reviewers are happy to do interviews, guest blogs, or giveaways. Many of them even have other features (like my Author of the Month). Get yourself out there. I love, love, love hearing more about the authors and their writing process and the idea behind their book.  The more I know about an author and their book, the more real the author becomes, the more likely I am to pick up the book.  So get yourself out their – set up a blog, a myspace, a website, and contact the reviewers!

As for the best way to get noticed by reviewers…. all of the above stays the same. Just don’t expect us to come to you, come to us. Also, if reviewers do contact you and you don’t have any copies left, don’t be all nasty about it. We’re really only trying to help advertise your books. We promise.

That’s all I have to say. Maybe you’ll find something useful from that very long post. Who knows.



I’m lucky enough for Claire Carmichael to take a few minutes out of her schedule to answer a few questions on Leaving Simplicity and writing. My review of Leaving Simplicity can be found a few posts down. Now, without farther ado, the wonderful Claire Carmichael:

1. Inspiration for Leaving Simplicity?

The realization that advertising was becoming more and more intrusive in everyone’s life, particularly online. Advertisers are becoming sneakier, too, with product placement in movies and TV programs.
2. My opinion of advertising today and where it will be in the future.
We are bombarded with so many ads that we scarcely notice most of them, which leads advertisers to do two things–either produce ads that are frantic to catch our fleeting attention with noise, color, movement, or to find more underhand ways of seeping into our consciousness.
The future will be more of the same, but utilizing even more research into consumer’s motivations and psychological hot buttons. Also ads will be tailored to specific receptive audiences, rather than to the general public.
3. My favorite character in Leaving Simplicity? Whom am I most like?
My favorite would be Barrett. It was fun seeing the world of the near future through his astonished eyes.
I’m not like any of the characters, although of course, like most authors, I realize there’s a little bit of me in every one of them.
4. Writing process–outline or wing it?
I start with a premise and one or two main characters come to life as I ask myself “What if…?”
I know how the novel begins and ends–but everything in between I discover as I write.
5. Write with music playing? Some of my favorite singers and bands?
I have to have absolute silence while I write so I can hear my characters speaking to me. I read all dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds natural for the individual in question.
As far as music is concerned, I enjoy the widest range, from classical to the latest hits. My only true dislike is Hawaiian music–I can’t stand it! 
6. Favorite books? All-time favorite author?
I have countless “favorite” books–there are so many excellent writers in the young adult field. Two authors I do particularly admire are Lois Lowry (“The Giver” is a masterpiece) and Philip Pullman (especially “His Dark Materials” trilogy).
7. Working on now? 
I’m writing a YA novel about the need for young people to be electronically connected to each other 24/7. It’s called “Gotta B” (got to be connected) and is set slightly in the future where huge communication companies link everyone in a worldwide electronic sea. I asked myself what would happen if one of those young people were to be totally cut off from everyone–no Internet, no instant messaging, no team game-playing. In my imagination, I heard the character say, “When I’m disconnected, I feel like I don’t exist.”
8. Advice for readers?
The world is full of the most fascinating things. Don’t waste of moment!

Liv, from Liv’s Book Reviews, has agreed to present us with a blog on summer reading. Read and enjoy! Any comments would be lovely.


It’s summer. Yes, the beloved season of rest and relaxation is finally here. And it’s about time. Maybe now I can finally get a tan and get caught up on my enormous “to-read” pile of books. But in order to get down to reading, I’m going to have to have a plan. You can’t just sit around reading book after book. That would get rather boring if you ask me, not to mention hot. Can you imagine sitting around on your bed for hours on end, just reading. I really can’t. No matter how much I love reading, there has to be a limit sometime and that is where the summer reading survival plan comes in. To be able to do all of that reading, you are going to have to pace yourself and have all of the necessary provisions.


#1: The perfect spot. Preferably not inside. Air conditioning can only do so much. Go out on your lawn, to a park, even outside at a café. Just get some vitamin D! And don’t forget the sunscreen. I myself have extremely fair skin and if I’m out in the sun for even five minutes, I’ll get all red and blister-y. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Working on your summer tan while reading is a great form of multi-tasking. That way when people see us book worms, they won’t be able to immediately label us by our sallow skin and squinty-eyed expression whenever we’re in the sun. Reading is good, but so is appreciating the season.


#2: Music. I don’t know about you, but I am a music fanatic. I love just about anything and maybe it’s some strange trait in me, but I also love listening to tunes on full blast when I read. Is that weird or do you guys do that too? It doesn’t work to just randomly scroll through your iPod whenever you want to listen, so you need to make up your summer play list. Include whatever makes you groove (haha, funny word) and feel good. For me personally, that would include some of the top 40 hits as well as some soft rock-ish stuff. It’s very important to set the mood.


#3: Yummies! While you’re sitting in your perfect spot with your summer playlist blaring, don’t you think you’d get hungry? We all have to eat at some point and it’s best to eat quality food than randomly snack on some crappy stuff. Lemonade or ice tea is a must. Summer can’t be summer without sugary drinks so, one of those two things needs to be put on your shopping list. Also, fruit is good. Pineapple and strawberries are my favorites and should be included for any big day of reading. For the last item, you’re going to need some kind of sandwich thing. Hamburger, hot dog, PB & J, whatever floats your boat. And now we’re almost set…


#4: The actual books! It wouldn’t do to read heavy and depressing stuff over the summer now would it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of books that make you think, but personally, I’d rather read those during the school year than during the time that is meant for fun and happiness. So make a list of perfect beach reads for the summer. Light, fluffy, cute, and sappy books are the things you’re looking for. My faves are the Simon Romantic Comedy books. It doesn’t get much lighter or fluffier than that. 😀 Do you guys have any other suggestions of books to read over the summer?


So now you’re set for those days ahead filled with endless reading, music, and lemonade. I know that throughout the summer, I’ll be laying on my lawn in shorts and a tank top reading cheesy romance books. For me, that’s exactly the kind of summer that I’ve been looking forward to all year long. No cares, blue skies, peppy music, and of course many many fun-filled chick-lit books. Enjoy your summer!

Summer is finally here and while that may be the busiest time of the year for some of us, it’s also the most relaxing time. And that usually means more time for reading. I love reading during the summer, sprawled out on my trampoline getting a tan at the same time, and I can usually read at least a book a day. Maybe you already have a huge stack of books ready for your summer reading or maybe, like me, you’re always on the lookout for new summer reads. Here are some of my favorites to read during the summer:

Frenemies by Alexa Young
Defying the Diva by D. Anne Love
Wish You Were Here by Catherine Clark
Better Latte Than Never by Catherine Clark
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Wild Horse Island series by Terri Farley
Airhead by Meg Cabot
ANY of Meg Cabot’s Books
I’d Tell You I Love You, Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Breaking Up is Hard To Do by various authors
Violet on the Runway (and sequels) by Melissa Walker
Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley
If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? and Confessions of a NOT It Girl by Melissa Kantor
Dairy Queen and The Off Season by Catherine Murdock
Private series by Kate Brian
Mermaid Park by Beth Mayall
Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde
She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva

Books like Frenemies, Wish You Were Here, Violet on the Runway, and I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You have the fun style to them with a more slightly serious underlying plot, like friendship troubles or identity issues, that make them fun to read but also make you think.

Becoming Chloe, Lock and Key, and many of the other books on the list deal with difficult topics (like abuse) by creating characters that you’ll love and even though certain topics aren’t exactly light, they make a great summer read if you want to think.

But if you don’t want books that make you think and just want the summer romance, I’d suggest any of Meg Cabot’s books, as well as She’s So money, Confessions of a NOT It Girl, Mermaid Park and almost the rest of the list might be your thing.It all depends on your summer reading style but I hope you find something good to read this summer. 

I know that there’s also a bunch of other books coming out this summer and others that are already out that I really want to read this summer. Breaking Dawn is coming out in August and so is Violet in Private, both of which I’m extremely excited for and I’m hoping to get my hands on The Luxe as well as some of the Simon Romantic Comedies. I’m sure that there will  be others I find after I go to the bookstore.

So what does your summer reading list look like? Do you find yourself reading a different books in the summer than what you’d normally read the rest of the year? Are there any books that you reread every summer?

Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful YouIf you’re anything like me, you’ve had to deal with stress over things like getting a huge assignment done on time, looking perfect for the school dance, and dealing with friend and family drama. You may even start your day at six in the morning and end it at midnight, trying to keep up with all 200 of your Facebook friends, as well as keep your grades up, and deal with everything else that comes with being a teenager. Either way, no matter what type of life you live, you’re going to have stress. And Chill is the book to help you deal with it.

Chill explains exactly what stress is, the different types of stress, and how to deal with it. Reber does a wonderful job of explaining exactly what will help relieve stress, from organizing to eating right, as well as how and why it works. More importantly, she does it in a way that proves she knows what she’s talking about, without ever talking down to the readers.

I, for one, face a ton of stress in my everyday life and reading Chill helped me eliminate most of that stress. After reading the section on organization, I felt compelled to re-organize my room and toss the stuff I no longer needed. After I did, there was a lot less stress trying to find things and feeling cramped. That just proves that the techniques in this book really do work. All in all, I found Chill to be a quick but informative and helpful book.

Taylor and Barrett are cousins but they come from completely different worlds. Taylor is the daughter of a high-profile marketing specialist and lives in a city where advertisements are everywhere. Barrett was raised by his uncle in rural isolation where they do everything the old-fashioned way. After a tragic accident, Barrett is forced to move in with family he’s never met in a world he’s never known. But an untouched mind could prove to be very helpful in advertisement researched and soon both cousins find themselves in a dangerous situation, betrayed by those they trusted most.

Leaving Simplicity is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. The idea of advertisements pretty much taking out our society in the near future is one that I find to be very realistic and scary at the same time. The cast of characters, from simple Barrett to tech savvy Taylor, were each incredibly unique and realistic. The world they lived in was so much like our but so different at the same time. There is no praise I can give that could explain how much I loved this book. Buy it, read it, love it. It will make you think.

*This book is available from annickpress.com*

The previous winner never responded to my email or contacted me in any way, though I’ve waited a few weeks, so I picked a new winner of the Frenemies contest. The new winner is…..



Liviania, please send me an email at harmonybookreviews at yahoo dot com with your address by June 16th.

Book Chic is a fabulous book reviewer whose headquarters are hidden somewhere in myspace. I’d also like to point out that Book Chic is pronounced like “Book Sheek” rather than “Book Chick”, which I only recently learned. Now, without farther ado, an interview with Book Chic!

1) What made you decide to become a book reviewer?

There’s a huge story about it in one of the Ask Book Chic’s on the blog (the 1st one in February, if you wish to go find it), but I’ll keep this brief. Lauren Barnholdt wanted to promote her book Two-Way Street via blogs, and I had a livejournal, so I was going to post an interview and book review there, but after sending off the questions, I got excited about it all and how cool it was to do, and thus a book review/author interview blog was born!

2) You’re obviously pretty popular among authors now but what was it like when you were just starting out? How do you feel your blog has changed since then?

Starting out, I was actually REALLY surprised at how awesome authors were being when I’d ask them for interviews. They were always so willing to help and it was really amazing to actually hear back from Meg Cabot, one of the first authors I contacted when I was starting out. But they were so helpful with me and my site when I was starting out and so encouraging. It really helped me to continue with the site and keep it going for a year now.

In regards to how it’s changed, there’s been all the new features that I started up throughout the year, like author guest blogs, Fresh New Voice of YA, and Ask Book Chic. I also think that I’ve gotten better at writing reviews, and talking about certain aspects of a book that I like or didn’t like. Starting out, it was hard for me to write reviews in a professional(ish) manner. That was always what I had set out to do. I wanted to do more than just say “This book rocked my socks off!” or “This book sucked, and should be used in litterboxes!”. Over time, I got better at writing about what I liked about this character or that scene or this climax. But I do also let the fanboy in me show a lot because I don’t want the reviews to be boring. Haha. I don’t think my reviews are the best or anything, but I do feel like I’ve gotten better at writing them.

3) To you, what is the most important thing you’ve learned from reviewing?

To be honest, I don’t really know if I’ve really learned anything from reviewing. From doing the site, I’ve learned two things: 1) YA and chicklit authors absolutely ROCK! and 2) I love doing giveaways. I’m a very selfish person, and so I was always wary of doing giveaways because I like to keep things for myself, but I held my first one with some Meg Cabot stuff, I believe, and I absolutely loved doing it. Getting emails back from the winners and seeing their excitement over winning just makes me want to do it all the time. Although I think after the month of June (i.e. Giveaway Month on the blog), I won’t be doing giveaways for a while because this is just going to take so much out of my bank account, it’s not even funny. But it makes my heart swell with happiness to make other people happy.

4) What advice do you have for reviewers just starting out or for those who are thinking of starting a book review blog themselves?

I think my advice would be to look at other book review sites and see what they’re doing. Obviously, don’t copy exactly what they’re doing but look at how and what they post. Talk with them as well if they provide their email address; I’m friends with a lot of different reviewers and they are such fun, helpful people and I’m sure they’d be willing to help out new reviewers.

Don’t be afraid to approach authors, even ones that you’ve admired for so long, or think they’re so popular that they won’t reply back (although don’t try contacting Stephenie Meyer- I tried and it failed, as I knew it would). Just give it a shot and, while this may seem like common sense, remember to be polite. You never know what’ll happen. I didn’t think Meg Cabot would reply back to me so quickly when I first approached her last June, but I had a response back the next day. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried and that’s really all that matters. But usually, YA authors are made of awesome and will reply back fairly quickly.

Also, do what you want to do with your book review site, but also keep in mind what your readers want and like to see. Be open to suggestions.

And read outside of what you would normally read because you never know, there could be a new favorite author waiting around the corner. I had put off reading Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins because they tackled heavy subjects in their books, and I’m usually more of a fluffy, humorous guy myself, but then I gave in and read books by them. And guess what? I really enjoyed them, so go outside your comfort zone every so often if you don’t already.

All of that advice probably sucked, but hopefully there’s something in there that you can get out of it, lol.

5) What’s one book that rocked your world and changed your life? What author?

I honestly don’t think there’s only one book that rocked my world. I will tell you that I don’t necessarily think any book changed my life- I think that’s a really big statement to make, and I’ve yet to read a book that will change my life and I’m not sure I ever will.

But anyway, Meg Cabot has rocked my world on many an occasion with her wonderful books. And one book that rocked my world would probably have to be Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway.

6) Name five (or more) books that you’d recommend to anyone and everyone.

I couldn’t name just 5, haha.

1) Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
2) Airhead by Meg Cabot
3) Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
4) Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
5) Take Me There by Susane Colasanti
6) Burned by Ellen Hopkins
7) Devilish and 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
8) Wake by Lisa McMann
9) Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes
10) Girlwood by Claire Dean

7) What are three books that you really want to read but don’t have yet?

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard (but I may have read it by the time this goes up)
Violet in Private by Melissa Walker
Princess Diaries 10: Forever Princess and the Abandon trilogy by Meg Cabot
And since Unbelievable may be read by the time this is posted, I’ll add a fourth: Paper Towns by John Green

8) Last but not least what’s one thing that you think everyone should know about you or your blog?

That it rocks? lol. But seriously, one thing that I think everyone should know about me is that I’m actually a guy and not a girl as my default pic would show. You have no idea how many people think I’m a girl, lol.

AirheadAirhead, Meg Cabot’s latest teen book, is impossible to summarize.  I’m sure you’ve seen countless reviews of it around so I’m not even going to try.  If you want a summary,  check out The Compulsive Reader’s review, here. Now, for my review.

I can honestly say that I think Airhead is Meg Cabot’s best book yet. There’s a lot less fluff than Meg’s previous novels, though the romance is still there, and it’s got a serious tone to it, though it was still fun to read. The characters, every since one of them, were well developedd and each had their own quirks and personalities. The concept behind the story, though slightly terrifying if it were to every happen, was unique and it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. I can’t stress how awesome this book was and even if you’ve been disappointed by Meg’s recent standalones, I’m positive you’ll love this. So if you haven’t done so already, I suggest you go and buy Airhead immediately.

Cover ImageKatie Ellison is not a liar.

It’s just that telling the truth is so . . . tricky. She knows she shouldn’t be making out with a drama club hottie behind her football-player boyfriend’s back. She should probably admit that she can’t stand eating quahogs (clams), especially since she’s running for Quahog Princess in her hometown’s annual Quahog Festival. And it would be a relief to finally tell someone what really happened the night Tommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the new wall outside the junior high school gymnasium—in neon orange, which still hasn’t been sandblasted off. After all, everyone knows that’s what drove Tommy out of town four years ago.

But now Tommy Sullivan has come back. Katie is sure he’s out for revenge, and she’ll do anything to hang on to her perfect (if slightly dishonest) existence. Even if it means telling more lies than ever. Even if, now that Tommy’s around, she’s actually—no lie—having the time of her life.

-Taken from Amazon.com

I’ve been a fan of Meg Cabot for a few years now, since she’s one of the few teen authors that my library has more than one book by. I’ve loved almost every single book by her and, naturally, Pants on Fire is no exception. The characters were realistic and the plot, while extrememly enteraining, seemed pretty realistic. Meg Cabot fan or not, if you’re looking for an entertaining book, I recommend Pants on Fire.

  • 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