Harmony Book Reviews

Archive for September 2008

Title: Sleepless
Author: Terri Clark
Rating: 9.5
Summary: (Taken from AMazon)
The swaying Palms Hotel late-night room-service menu

Tuck-Me-In Tuna Salad on Rye
$7.50

Catch-Some-ZZZs Cheeseburger and Fries
$10.00

Up-All-Night Chocolate-Chip Cookies with Milk
$5.50

Bedtime Banana Split
$7.00

I can’t go to sleep!!! And not because of the cute boy lying next to me. There’s a killer stalking me in my dreams. And if it’s up to him . . . I’ll never wake up. I have to find a way to get him, before he gets me.

My Thoughts: When I picked up Sleepless for the first time, I had no clue what to expect but I also had very high expectations. I’d heard so  many good things about it and Terri Clark was already my AOM. Needless to say, I was not let down.

Sleepless is full of characterization, each of the characters becoming more alive and relatable with each passing chapter. The plot is original and enticing which combined with Clark’s haunting and sophisticated prose leaves you wanting more even after the story ends.

Sleepless is full of action, adventure, romance, and a little supernatural twist. The end result? A book that I recommend that everyone reads as soon as possible.

We’re joined today by C. Leigh Purtill, author of Love, Meg and All About Vee. My review for All About Vee can be found here. Enjoy!

Hollywood plays a big role in both of my books, LOVE, MEG and ALL ABOUT VEE and it’s not because I’m obsessed with the entertainment industry, although at times it certainly feels like I am. Actually, I’m just following the common advice given to writers: write what you know. And I happen to know film and television.

I’ve held several positions on film sets, including assistant director and director, but the one in which I have the most experience is script supervisor. Lots of people call this person the continuity clerk (and in the bad old days of male-dominated movie sets, it was called script girl – blecch!!) because much of the job involves maintaining continuity within a scene, from scene-to-scene, and from beginning to end.

Most people think of continuity in terms of props because that’s the easiest error to spot. For instance, in the movie “Pretty Woman,” Julia Roberts is eating a pancake in one shot and then when they cut to another angle, she’s eating a croissant. That’s a continuity error and one that is usually corrected by a script supervisor on set. It all begins with the “master shot,” which is usually the widest shot of the scene. If the action in the master shot had established that Miss Roberts picked up a croissant, then every other time we see her from all the various angles and close-ups (which together are called “coverage”), she needs to do just that.

If I had been on that set, I would have told the director, Garry Marshall, that in a close-up, Miss Roberts picked up a pancake instead of the established croissant. I also would have reminded Miss Roberts to pick up the croissant before her close-up was shot. However, several factors come into play that I have no control over:

1. Mr. Marshall (like many directors I worked with) could decide he doesn’t care about continuity within the scene, that an actor’s performance is more important than which prop is used and when.

2. Miss Roberts (like many actors I worked with) could disregard my reminder or simply not wish to listen to me at all. And the reasons for that are also many and varied: some actors don’t want to be bothered by crew between shots because it throws off their focus, some insist they know better than someone who was watching them, and some just don’t like to listen to script supervisors. I have also had the converse be true: many actors relied on me to tell them what they were doing in a scene – some even tested me!

So the coverage is shot and everyone rejoices and Mr. Marshall is especially pleased at how charming and sweet the lovely Miss Roberts is and he turns to me and says, “I want that one” which is my cue to make a note for the editor and the assistant director is about to yell, “Moving on!” but I have the disheartening news for our director that the coverage doesn’t match the master shot.

I have to tell him. It’s my job. So I take a deep breath and say, “Garry (because we would probably be friendly and he wouldn’t make me call him Mr. Marshall), the coverage doesn’t match the wide. Julia (because she would probably let me call her that since she seems to be really nice) picked up the pancake.”

All eyes would be on Mr. Marshall and some would probably glare at me for making them stop what they’re doing and we would all wait. And Mr. Marshall would say, most likely, “I’ll deal with that in post,” meaning he will handle it in post-production when the editor has assembled all the footage from the chosen takes. When this sort of thing happens, the editor and director work together to minimize the continuity error as much as possible. But you see, sometimes these things simply cannot be helped.

Aside from the continuity of props, there is also continuity of wardrobe and hair and special effects, as well as action within the scene with all of these things (such as, when did Miss Roberts pick up the pancake? On what word did she take a bite?) and that’s just the stuff you can see. Much of my job as a script supervisor regarded the script itself: ensuring what was on the page actually was shot. It’s very important that the director has all the footage he needs to make a scene work, to be edited together properly, because when you’re in the editing room and you realize you didn’t get a close-up of the pancake in Miss Roberts’ hand, it’s super expensive to recreate that set and get everyone back to do it again.

Working as a script supervisor is one of the best ways to get to know all the jobs on a set. You have to interact with so many different departments: art, hair and makeup, wardrobe, camera, etc. Plus you have to work closely with the director, the actors, and the assistant director who runs the whole set. I highly recommend this position to anyone who is interested in becoming a director. It’s a tough job – and a lonely one because there’s only one of you on any set – but it’s an influential one. A good script supervisor is a director’s best asset.

In television, I worked as a broadcast standards editor for The WB and The CW Television Networks. Maybe I’ll post about that someday. If anyone has any questions about the jobs I’ve had, or about specifics of a movie set, or just wants to know more, please feel free to email me!

Thanks for letting me post on your blog, Harmony!

Cheers~

Leigh

What gave you the inspiration for Sleepless?
Sleepless was inspired by a number of things converging, but my two biggest inspirations were my own fascination with dreams and a Denver Post article that exposed how violent criminals were pretending insanity so they would get locked up in a mental institute instead of jail. Many of these men then committed violent crimes on the staff–battery and sexual assault–and even walked off the campus to commit more crimes and disappear entirely. I found this appalling and one of the best things about being a writer is that you can write a wrong. 😉 
 
How has the final copy of Sleepless changed from the rough draft?
In too many ways to count! It was originally called IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE, then SLEEPLESS SUMMER. When I pitched the idea it was set in Colorado and they asked me to change it to a beach. Coral, Trinity’s best friend, wasn’t in the first draft and the first chapter has had four different openings! LOL.    
 
Writing wise, are you a plotter or a plunger?
I love the word plunger! I’m somewhere in between. I usually plot out major points and then I like to wing it. However, Sleepless was so complicated that this was the most plotted out book I’ve done. I’ll probably do more plotting in the future because I found having a strong road map really strengthened the book for me.
 
What are you working on now? What will we be seeing from you next?
I’m working on a number of things. I’ve contributed an essay about Ellen Hopkins, my co-author on Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, for an anthology about her work. That will be published by BenBella sometime down the line. And then I’m working on another thriller about dopplegangers that I hope to sell sometime soon. I’d also love to write a sequel for Trinity, but that remains to be seen. Maybe if everyone writes HarperTeen and tells them they’d like to see one. 😉
 
Do you listen to music while you write? Who are some of your favorite singers and bands?
I can’t listen to music while I write. I’m weird that way. I hear the lyrics and start singing instead of writing. But I like to listen to classic rock–AC/DC, Kansas, etc.–and Evanesence, H.I.M., Paramore, Finger Eleven, The Veronicas, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, really a little bit of everything.
 
Sleepless focuses a lot of lucid dreaming. Have you ever experienced it? Where and how did you research it?
I do have lucid dreams. I know I’m dreaming while I’m in my dreams, but I’ve yet to figure out how to manipulate my dream universe. I need to work on that! I did a lot of online research and book research. I’m a librarian, so I’ve got a lot of great resources. 😉 And one secret I’ll confess…that part in the book where Trinity meets real people in her dreams before she meets them in person…I used to do that a lot back when I was in college. I don’t as much now, but I still get that annoying feeling of “Don’t I know you?”
 
What of the characters in Sleepless would you most like to meet? Why?
Trinity and Coral. They’ve got such a snappy rapport and funny friendship. I think they’d be fun to hang out with. As for Dan, I already hang out with him. He’s based on my husband. Aren’t I lucky? We were high school sweethearts. I’ve been with him since I was seventeen.   
  
If a movie were to be made based on Sleepless, who would you like to see cast in the parts of the characters?
Ooh, I’ve already cast this in my mind. I’ve always seen Trinity as a Amy Lee.

 
Dan is played by Matt Dallas from Kyle XY.

And the villain is Peter Firth‘s serial killer character in White Angel. Is the dude scary looking or what?

And I just added Renee Olstead as Coral after watching her in Secret Life of an American Teen.

Finally, what advice do you have for your teen readers?

 
One thing I’d like readers to know is that everyone feels different, but it’s often the things that set us apart that make us stand out. I’ve realized I unconsciously put a running theme in both Sleepless and Don’t Mind Me, my short story in Breaking Up Is Hard To Do–Learn to accept who you are, embrace what makes you you, and you’ll feel empowered.

And as someone who took a loooong time to reach her dreams…never, ever give up!

Thanks Terri!

Well, I realize I didn’t post one last week but here’s one for you now. Today, I’ve been joined by Chelsie of Read, Read, Read (also known as bookloverreviews), who you can tell really loves what she does, not only by the work she puts into her blog but also by the thought you know she put into these answers. So keep reading to learn more about the girl behind the blog!

———–

How long have you been reviewing? What made you decide to become a teen book reviewer?

Technically, I’ve been reviewing since I was in 8th grade, so 14. But that was only Amazon reviews. I’ve had a blog since March, so for five months. Before that, I had an actual website for about 2 months, but that didn’t work too well.

And initially when I started reviewing, it was just for fun, but then I just loved the idea of being a part of such a fun group of people. Plus to be honest the free books don’t hurt either =P


What do you think is the best feature you run on your blog? What do you think people enjoy most about it?

Well I’d like to say my new feature, the Inte(Re)view, but I’ve only done one so I’m not sure how successful it will be. But I also think that maybe people like my review style and the mix between reviews and personal-ish entries? I suppose it gives it a more real feel to it. But I’m not sure, I’m not good at complimenting myself…

 
Is there a specific way you run your blog? Do you have to be in a certain chair to write reviews? What, if anything, are you trying to accomplish by running your blog?

I run my blog exactly how I want… I’ve seen other reviewers make schedules for when they post things, and that’s a great way to do it but I couldn’t even begin to pre-plan what I want to blog about. For me, it’s pretty random.

I used to have my special computer chair that I wrote everything in, but then I got kicked off of my parent’s computer, so I’m stuck in this not-so-comfy one… but I’ve gotten used to it.

As far as what I want to accomplish… I just like giving recommendations. I’m trying to share my opinion, so if someone is wondering, “Hmm, will I like that book?” they’ll be able to see if I liked it or not, and if I did or didn’t they’ll know what was good or bad about it. I also run my blog for myself… it makes me feel good to be part of the book blogging world, and it also makes me feel good to see what other people have to say about my reviews, and to hear other opinions.

 
In your opinion, what is the one thing that makes a book perfect?

That new book smell… c’mon, don’t even try to tell me you’ve never opened a book up and just stuck your nose in it. =D

Actually, I don’t really think there’s any one thing that makes a book perfect. It’s a combination between good writing, good characters, good description, and relatability. Then again, I have never found a perfect book (although there have been some that have come close) so it’d be hard of me to answer this question really well.

 
Any advice for authors trying to attract the attention of reviewers?

1. Blog. Stop by our blog and say hi. Comment on a review, leave a message in the chatbox, whatever. Make your presence known.

2. Email. Want us to review a book? Email your request. I think everyone pretty much as at least one email (I know I actually have four or five…) that they can be contacted at.

3. MySpace. In my opinion, it’s an amazing phenomenon that came along and now everyone is using it to network and talk. All authors should have one, to connect with reviewers and readers, and even other authors. Add us on MySpace, send us a message or comment… whichever.

Those are three that I can think of, but all you really have to do is make your presence known somehow. And don’t be afraid to mention your book or ask us to read it. Even if you don’t hand out review copies right and left, if someone asks me to read their book, I’d be likely to at least consider it.

 
What about for teens (or adults) that want to start their own book review blog. What’s the first thing they should do?

First thing, of course, would be to read and review the books. Then, you can start your blog, and then talk to other reviewers. Ask them to be on their blogroll or to check out your blog, and just make a name for yourself. Every reviewer I know is extremely nice, so of course you’d be accepted into the blogging world, but for sure make sure your blog isn’t a mess, and make sure you find an audience.

But most important, just have fun with your blog. Even if you don’t get tons of comments, or if it doesn’t seem like anyone reads it, if you get too worked up about it, it just isn’t fun anymore. Read and review for yourself, and don’t feel like you have to make your blog a certain way to get readers. As long as you’re having fun and reviewing honestly, you’ll be sure to get readers.

 
Okay, we all have our favorite books. What are five of yours? Has there ever been a book that has changed or greatly affected your life in someway? What about authors?

Five books:
1. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
2. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
4. Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde
5. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty (not to be confused with the other three books in the series… this one will always be my favorite 😀 )

A book that changed or affected my life? Um, none really come to mind as being too life-changing. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen I suppose, because it was basically the first real young adult book I read and at the time it seemed to really relate to my life (although looking back, I don’t see how). Dreamland because it scared me, and really really made me think. Sweethearts for almost the same reason as Dreamland.

And then if I wanted to be really funny, I could say the children’s book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina because my absolute favorite teacher gave it to me at the end of 1st grade, and because when I moved I made my childhood love write his phone number in the back of it. =D

And then my absolute favorite author, if you can’t guess, is Sarah Dessen. Followed by Sara Zarr. And then there are way too many more to name. But the two I mentioned are absolutely amazing.

 
If you could plan a party anywhere in the world and invite anyone you wanted, who would be there? Authors? Musicians? Fictional characters (I didn’t say they had to exist)? Where would it be? Describe the event.

A party?! Oh gosh. If I thought my other answers were long, this is going to take forever.

Who: Me, of course. My three closest friends. Every author who wants to come, but hopefully all of my favorites. And then all the members of Nickelback, but most importantly Chad Kroeger, because I’m gonna need someone there who can sing. And then the Spice Girls, all the members of NSYNC, and then Christian Alexanda, Matt Nathanson, Marc Anthony, David Archuleta, Kylie Minogue, and Chris Daughtry. And then I’d invite Christian Siriano from last season’s Project Runway.

Fictional Characters… Dexter from This Lullaby. Cameron from Sweethearts (oh, he would not get away from me without answering all my questions). Um… There’s probably more, but my mind isn’t working the way it should right now.

What: A party, of course, complete with musical guests and diamonds that everyone is allowed to wear (like in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) and free books… But there’s no drinking at my party. That’s not cool for me….

When: Next Saturday… (although I’m not sure when exactly this is going to be posted, so we’ll just say August 30th.)

Where: The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan. I saw this hotel in the movie Somewhere in Time (it’s older, but I really liked it) and I fell in love with it.

Why: Well, because the 30th is my birthday =D Sweet 16!

 
Name three of your favorite animals, bands/singers, T.V. shows, and movies.

Animals:
1. Wolf. (I read Julie of the Wolves when I was younger. Those books = <333)
2. Fish. So easy to take care of.
3. Dogs/Puppies. So cute!

Bands/Singers:
1. Nickelback
2. Daughtry
3. Seether
(Unfair question, since I have so many more. Don’t judge me by what I put down, because I listen to a lot more variety than that.)

T.V. Shows:
1. Project Runway
2. American Idol
3. Make Me a Supermodel
(I have an obsession with fashion shows, although I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl)

Movies:
1. The Lion King (always going to be my favorite)
2. 21
3. The Butterfly Effect
(Eek, another unfair question… =P)

 
And now, ask yourself a question and answer it. (Can you tell how original I’m being?)
Q: What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done in the past week?
A: Two things. First, I left my purse in the movie theater, and didn’t notice it until three days later. Second, today I left three of my books (including the 2 I was planning on reading next) behind the desk at the library I work at. *smacks self* D’oh!

Deborah Reber is the author of Chill, a book about teens and stress, which I reviewed here. If you’ve ever had to deal with any type of stress, then I definitely recommend reading Chill.  

What gave you the idea for Chill? Why did you decide to write a book on stress for teens?
I had just finished writing my book for teen girls, In Their Shoes, and was talking with my amazing editor at Simon Pulse about what we could do together next. She mentioned to me that they were interested in publishing a book dealing with the stressed out lives of teens, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in taking it on—I jumped at the opportunity. My passion is helping girls live their best lives and understand how to take charge of one’s life to ultimately have more peace and balance (which means less stress). I knew writing a book on stress reduction would give me the opportunity to present the exact kind of information I desperately wanted to share with girls everywhere. I’d also noticed in the past several years a huge jump in the stress levels of teens, and so I knew the timing of this book was important and could have a seriously big impact.

Growing up, did you face a lot of stress? Do you think reading Chill would have helped you deal with it better?
Yes, and yes! Honestly, I think that everything I write I do in part because I want to share information that I desperately needed and wanted as a teen, but didn’t have access to. When I was a teen, most of my stress revolved around social issues…I don’t think the academic pressure back then was as intense as it is for teens today. But I was a very emotional person and definitely struggled to keep my out-of-control and irrational emotions from getting the best of me. Chill would have helped me immensely.

Chill is filled with tons of stress-management tips. If you could only pick one, which do you think is the most important to remember? Why?
Tough question. There’s a chapter in the book called Getting Perspective, and it’s all about keeping the problems and stresses in our lives in perspective so they don’t take over our lives. It involves little things, like realizing that we’ve overcome challenges in the past and come through them okay, putting our personal problems in perspective with global issues, and focusing on the things in our lives that we are thankful for (we’ve all got them!).

Describe your ideal writing location. Where is it? Why does it work best?
I move around a lot when I write, but I would say that I do my best work while sitting in my living room with laptop, legs propped up on the coffee table, sunlight pouring in through my windows, the front door open to let the breeze in, my white German Shepherd by my side, and the sound of peace and quiet all around me.

What are you working on now? What can we expect from you next?
I’m actually working on a cool new publishing projectI I’m creating and editing a series of nonfiction, memoir-type books that will be written exclusively by teens for teens. You can find out more on my blog Smart Girls Know (www. smartgirlsknow. com).

Do you listen to music while you write? What are some of your favorite bands?
I’m one of those people who needs absolute quiet to write, although sometimes I use music to get me “in the mood” or shift my frame of mind to a time that connects with the material before I sit down to write. Favorite bands? I’m all over the place musically. Here are a few: Indigo Girls, Imogen Heap, Badly Drawn Boy, Swell Season, Frou Frou, Moby, just to name a few!

What are three movies that you can watch over and over and not get tired of?
Great question! Broadcast News, When Harry Met Sally, and A Room with a View.

What advice do you have for your teen readers?
You will survive teenhood, no matter how unlikely that seems today. Believe in yourself and trust that you are capable of reaching your goals and becoming the person you want to be!

And finally, as yourself a question and answer it!
Okay…here’s my question for myself: What is your favorite sugary treat? My answer: Peeps! I have a thing for those marshmallow bunnies and chicks, and every year around Easter, friends from all over the country send me packages of Peeps to let me know they’re thinking of me (and my sugar addiction).

Thanks Deborah!

Title: Talent
Author: Zoey Dean
Rating: 6/10
Summary:(Taken from publisher’s site)

It’s all about talent in LA: who has it, who doesn’t, who wants it, and who can find it first!

When thirteen-year-old Mac Armstrong witnesses newcomer Emily Mungler’s stellar lying-to-gain-entry performance during a movie premiere party at the Roosevelt in Hollywood, it dawns on her that her own talent is to discover it in others! So Mac and her BFFs set out to prove it by turning fresh-from- Cedartown-Iowa Emily into a box office bombshell. They’ll make deals, throw parties, crush on boys, all on the way to discovering that no matter how famous or important you are, friendship always comes first. Well, almost always.

 
My Thoughts:

WHY THE HELL IS THIS BOOK SET IN MIDDLE SCHOOL!?!

Every problem I could possible have with this book is stemmed from that one thing. You see, the characters in this book act like high schoolers, they dress like high schoolers, and they talk like high schoolers. The problem? They’re in MIDDLE SCHOOL. This might be a problem, had the plan the whole novel revolved around not taken place. It did though, which made everything seem a little off in the novel because of their age. I can’t really say I know what the publisher or author were thinking when they made them that young. Maybe they thought it would help sale. Gossip Girl for tweens or something. Okay, but if you’re going to do that, you need to make sure the plot fits their age or it just doesn’t work. What’s even sadder is that this book would have been nearly wonderful if the girls had just been two or three years older.

Now, you’re probably thinking that I hated this book but that’s not really true. I did, obviously, have some problems with it, but in the end, it was a good book. The characters, despite the above problem, were actually quite well-developed and the plot was enjoyable, though slightly predictable. More importantly, however, was the fact that everything came together in the end to make a novel clean enough for younger readers and enjoyable enough that even the older readers will quite enjoy it. I do plan on reading and reviewing the upcoming sequels, in hope that they may get better as they go on.

Want to read it? I suggest getting either a cheap, used copy or finding someone to borrow it from.

(BTW, what do you think of the new review style? Let me know what you think!)

So it’s that time of month for me to host the AOM contest and this month, Terri Clark, author of Sleepless, will be providing a signed copy of SLEEPLESS, as well as a Dream Catcher necklace. Now is that awesome or what?

 

So to enter, leave a comment on this post by 12:01 AM on October 1st. Also, if you post about it on your blog or a myspace bulletin and either send me the link or leave it in a comment, you will get TWO extra entries.

 

There ya have it 🙂 Good luck!


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