Harmony Book Reviews

Archive for October 2008

Hello readers,
I’m so honored to be the author of the month for Harmony’s amazing site. My book has been out for exactly two whole weeks. Everyone says the release of a book, especially your first one when you’re still an unknown author like me, can be really anti-climactic. I would have to disagree, and tell you that it’s been anything but. There’s nothing like the feeling of having a piece of you out in the world, or hearing that this story I poured myself into has entertained or touched some readers out there. The release of this book has also introduced me to the wonderful world of YA book bloggers and book lovers — a truly remarkable and passionate group of people that I only wish existed when I was a teen. But unfortunately that was another era, before the internet.
And how awesome is the internet? I know it gets some bad press because of its potential dangers, but I think that most users are pretty savvy and the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls. I mean the internet is the basis of my whole book, and the point of that was to show how people can connect more easily sometimes when the normal social pressures are removed, and people can get right down to communication, the good-old fashioned kind, only in a wholly modern and contemporary context.
Now, on to the business of why I wrote this book from two points of view. I knew right away, from the concept, that it was important to tell both sides of the story, that one would not be complete without the other. All Molly and Charlie have to go on in getting to know each other are the words exchanged between them, and whatever else they can garner from living in each other’s bedrooms. As a result, I wanted to write all the good stuff that happens in between, like their thoughts and feelings, and to track that progression from each of their perspectives. Not only does that help ratchet up the tension between them, but it felt like the best way to get into their heads.
Why didn’t I write it from 1st person POV if I really wanted to get into their heads, you might ask? The most immediate reason is that their voices came to me in 3rd person. It felt like the most natural way to tell their stories equally, while maintaining some distance. It was a little challenging making sure I differentiated their voices and characters enough in the first draft, but the better I got to know them, the easier it became.
Also, I wanted to tell their love story both through the narrative, and directly through the emails and IMs exchanged between them. My goal was for the love story to be evident from those exchanges alone, and for the rest of the story to enhance and build on these exchanges. As a result, it made most sense for their voices to really emerge in 1st person in the IMs and emails, where they could really express themselves in their own words, as opposed to the narrator’s (er…mine).
My next book will be told from just one POV, even though it’s also a love story, but the premise lends itself better to this format. It’s not something I thought through all that much until after I found the character’s voice, to make sure I was making the right decision. I think that it basically always comes down to instinct, to listening to the voice that is compelling you to write the story, and to follow it.
Happy reading and writing!
x Jordanna

Thanks, Jordanna!

A reminder to all readers – don’t forget to enter the In Your Room contest! It ends in a just a few days!

Well, NaNoWriMo starts in just two days. For those of you still in the dark, that’s National Novel Writing Month. I can’t wait! My basic plot is that of a fourteen year old dating an eighteen year old and how while age doesn’t always matter, maturity does. I’m still working on the outline but I’m extremely pumped up and excited. I even bought myself a new cd player since my MP3 isn’t working and there’s no way I’m surviving November without music.

I participated last year but only reached 13k. This year, I have a much better idea of where I’m going and have a short outline so I’m not winging it entirely. My goal is to either finish the novel or reach 50k, which ever comes first. I’m very hopeful that unlike last year, I’ll be able to make that happen this year.

So is anyone else participating? What are you writing about? Have you done it before? What’s your goal for this year?

In Too DeepTitle: In Too Deep
Author:Jennifer Banash
Rating: 8/10
Summary: (Taken from Amazon)
If you don’t belong here— you just don’t belong…

The Bramford building’s newest resident and small-town transplant Casey McCloy is adapting to life in the Big Apple and loving it. She’s got the look, the attitude, and a delish new boyfriend, Drew Van Allen. But she’s starting to have second thoughts as to whether the “New York” Casey is the real Casey. And she’s not so sure she likes herself much anymore. She’s not the only one.

Madison Macallister has always had her Manolo Blahniks firmly planted on the top rung of the social ladder—until that corn-fed cow Casey stole Drew away from her and made her look the fool. So what if Madison wasn’t exactly dating Drew at the time? She wanted him. And everyone knows that Madison gets what she wants, like Drew—and a little revenge.

My Thoughts:If you’re been following my blog for long, you know that I absolutely adored Jennifer Banash’s first book, The Elite. In Too Deep is, if anything, better than it’s prequel.

In Too Deep takes us farther into the drama of the five main character’s, Casey, Sophie, Phoebe, Madison, and Drew’s, drama-filled life. Farm girl Casey is climbing up the teen social ladder, first by becoming a sort-of girlfriend to Drew, Madison’s ex, and then by becoming close with Madison’s other friends. Madison’s fed up and ready to take Casey down, once and for all.

But, In Too Deep is in no way just about Casey and Madison’s little drama. In Too Deep introduces us to a new meaning of “family drama”. Without giving too much away, there’s a ton of secrets, cheating, and parents secretly dating friends’ parents.

With all that drama, you’re probably going to feel like you’re watching some MTV drama, and that seems to be exactly what Banash is going for.

I definitely think In Too Deep is a step up from The Elite, even with all of the brand names I’ve never heard of. (Kidding. Slightly.) If you’ve read and enjoyed The Elite, I definitely recommend picking up In Too Deep, though you’ll have to wait until January. If you haven’t read The Elite, now is the perfect time to pick it up so you’ll be ready for In Too Deep when it comes out.

You’ve read my review on it and heard all about it other places and now it’s your turn to win your own copy! Jordanna and I are teaming up to present a contest where the winner will recieve a signed copy of In Your Room!

Sound good? All you have to do to enter is leave a comment or email me at harmonybookreviews[at]yahoo[dot]com. To get an extra entry, just post about this on your blog or myspace and send me the link. All entries must be recieved by midnight on November 1st.

Song Of The SparrowTitle: Song of the Sparrow
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Rating: 8/10
Summary: (Taken from Amazon)
The year is 490 AD.  Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat,  the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters,  lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp,  the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere– joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?

My Thoughts: Books written in verse are a hesitant choice for me. Those about history are even more so. But upon hearing about this retelling of the tale of King Arthur, I became intrigued. Then, after seeing so many glowing reviews from reviewers I respected, I knew that I need this book.

Upon starting it, I knew very little of the legend of King Arthur. That made it take a little while longer for me to actually get into the whole retelling but after a few pages, I was hooked.

The characters were extremely well developed, especially for a verse novel, and the plot seemed quite original, though since I’ve yet to read any other retellings, I can’t really say. The plot was full of action and romance and always left you on the edge of your seat and made it hard to put the book down.

All in all, Song of the Sparrow is a great book and I definitely recommend it, even if you don’t know too much about King Arthur.

As some of you have probably heard, I’ve recently started a project to raise money for the ASPCA Equine Fund. The Equine Fund rescues horses that are abused or going to be slaughtered. Each year, they rescue tons of horses and the rely solely on donations. Being a horse activist myself, I’ve recently been outraged by the number of horses being slaughtered and abused. This project is my way of helping.

For my project, I am collecting autographed memoribilia from singers/bands and authors. So far, I’ve recieved books from Julie Anne Peters and Stephanie K. (THANKS SO MUCH YOU GUYS!!) If you’re an author (or publicist/publisher) and would be interested in helping out, please go visit the myspace I’ve set up at: myspace.com/charityautographs. All info you need will be there.

These auctions will take place sometime in January. Please help out me and the horses of America by either donating a signed book (if you’re an author), spreading the word, and/or bidding when the time comes around.

Thanks!!

Harmony

Peaches Title: Peaches
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Rating: 7/10
Summary: (Taken from publisher’s site)
Murphy McGowen has bright green eyes, a reputation as the wildest girl in Bridgewater, and a way of getting out of all the trouble she gets into. But when she’s caught stealing from the Darlington Orchard, she’s forced to repay her debt picking peaches in the hot Georgia sun.

Leeda Cawley-Smith has professionally whitened teeth and the softest skin her boyfriend has ever touched. Unfortunately, Leeda’s parents aren’t too keen on her being touched anymore. Now Leeda’s country-club summer is out the window — she’ll be getting a serious sock tan working at her uncle’s peach orchard instead.

Birdie Darlington used to dance around her family’s orchard picking peaches for fun. But now that her parents are getting divorced, Birdie would rather spend the summer in the A/C eating Thin Mints than pick another peach — too bad she doesn’t have a choice.

Thrown together at Darlington Orchard, Murphy, Leeda, and Birdie discover what it means to find a real soul mate, and that sometimes cute boys know a lot about peach cider. And, of course, they learn the trick to picking a perfect peach. One thing’s for sure — it’s going to be a juicy summer.
My Thoughts: Peaches has sat on my shelf for two years. I’ve started it 3 times. Only on this third and final time did I manage to make it past chapter two and man, I’m glad I did.

The problem with Peaches is that is drags ridiculously in the beginning. The middle and the end? Oh, they’re great. The beginning? You need one heck of a lot of dedication to make it through. Once you do, it turns into something made of awesome.

There’s Murphy – the “bad” girl. Outspoken and tough.
There’s Leeda – the “perfect” girl. Always trying to please.
And there’s Birdie – the Peach girl. Home schooled and hardworking.

Put them together and you get a true friendship that no one expects. That, I believe, is what makes this book so great. You’ve got three extremely different but realistic girls stuck on a peach orchard for Spring break. They hate each other. They can’t become friends. it’s impossible. But then it’s not. The girls are more than what they appear on the outside, more alike than they think. And that’s exactly what starts one of the most realistic friendship trio’s in all of young adult fiction.

Let’s not forget all the supporting characters. There’s Poopie, Birdie’s superstitious housekeeper; Enrico, the shy Mexican hand; Jodie, Murphy’s flamboyant mother; and Rex, the boy who captures two of their hearts. That’s quite a cast, isn’t? They definitely are characters you’ll find repeated in every other teen novel.

On the other hand, the plot is quite cliched. It’s full of the normal family problems, friendship drama, and break-up but I honestly think that being set on a peach orchard gives such a uniqueness that you probably won’t even notice.

To wrap this up, I’d say this book is definitely more for dedicated readers since the beginning can be pretty daunting to some. After that, though, it’s fresh and enjoyable. I definitely recommend it.

 

 

In Your Room

Title: In Your Room                                  
Author: Jordanna Fraiberg                  
Rating: 9.5/10
Summary: (Taken from Amazon)
Molly and Charlie have fallen head over heels in love—even though they’ve never met Molly is a fashion-conscious city girl in L.A. Charlie is an earthy, mountain-biking dude from Boulder, Colorado. Each of them has big plans with their respective friends for the summer—until they discover that their parents decided to swap houses!

Luckily there’s no amount of homesickness that a bit of snooping can’t cure. Charlie and Molly begin crawling under beds and poking around in closets to find out a little more about each other—and they like what they find.

Can Charlie and Molly’s long-distance romance survive jealousy, misunderstandings—and the thousand miles between them?

MTV’s Room Raiders meets You’ve Got Mail in this sweet, old-fashioned love story for the digital age. . . .

My Thoughts: I expected In Your Room to be some cute and fluffy teen romance book that would take me a half hour to read. I was obviously wrong.

Yes, In Your Room is cute and even fluffy in some places but it’s also a lot more than that. There’s an actual plot, the characters develop, and there’s so much more to it all than some fluffy romance.

Having two families switch houses for a summer without involving a reality TV show was definitely an original concept. Fraiberg extends on the idea nicely, adding some familiar in with the unexplored. Her characters, Molly and Charlie especially, add their own quirks to the plot. Molly is your typical teen girl with the exception that she designs her own clothes. Charlie is your typical popular teen guy, with the exception that he’s not a total ass about it. They’re obviously different but not extremely so which makes their relationship a nice, realistic change to the normal “extreme opposites attract” cliche. Their relationship was cute and cozy but also realistic. Combined with the plot, it a made the perfect book for those looking for something a step up from your normal fluffy romance.

Sea of Love (Simon Romantic Comedies)Love on Cue (Simon Romantic Comedies)Miss Match (Simon Romantic Comedies)

*Sea of Love by Jamie Ponti

*Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka

*Miss Match by Wendy Toliver

Just One WishSecret KeeperChasing Boys

*Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

*Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins

*Chasing Boys by Karen Tayleur

Kisses and LiesThe Musician's DaughterPerfect Chemistry

 

*Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson

*The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap

*Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Love Is HellBand Geeked OutKissing Booth

*Love is Hell by various authors

*Band Geeked Out by Josie Bloss

*Kissing Booth by Lexie Hill

I’ve asked Stephanie Kuehnert, author of the magnificent I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, to pick out her favorite songs for each of the following situations. Enjoy and don’t forget to comment!

—–

Girl-Power Song – “Pretty On The Inside” by Hole, this has been my girl power song since I discovered it when I was 13.

Girl’s Night Out Song: “Tonight’s the Night” by Pink is it for me currently, but the classic of course will always be “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper

Friendship Song – “All I Want” by Civet, they could have written this song for me and my BFF

Bad Friendship Song – “Jaked on Green Beers” by Alkaline Trio, my friendship with my oldest friend fell apart last year when she betrayed me one too many times and this song always makes me thing of it.

First Date Song – I decided to think of this one as more of a “Crush” song because I have had way more of those than first dates (I think I just hang out with people and eventually we consider ourselves dating). I think “Pretty Girls (The Mover)” by Against Me! sums up that agonizing nervousness of having a crush on/asking someone out. But at the same time that song is a little bit depressing. For an actual sweet, light, first date song, I think I’d go with “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” by the Ramones.

Dating Song – “Who Would’ve Thought” by Rancid. I told my boyfriend that if we get married I want this to be our wedding song, though I don’t know if that would fly since it’s got a swear word in it… But it’s about all the hard stuff you go through to finally end up with someone who makes you happy and well, that was my path to romance at least. A sweeter dating song with less baggage would be “Clavicle” by Alkaline Trio.

Make-Out Song – I’m the weird girl who thought of Nine Inch Nails as make out music, but for my number one classic make out song, I think I’m gonna have to go eighties and say “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison. If that’s too uncool for you though, try “Spin the Bottle” by the Juliana Hatfield Three.

Bad Break-Up Song – “The Hunger” by the Distillers. In fact that whole album Coral Fang, is the perfect bad break-up album. I listened to it nonstop during my last break-up. An honorable mention for this one would be “Officially Dead” by Veruca Salt.

Cheated On Song – Oh there are so many good cheated on songs, but I think you gotta go country for a good cheated on song. I’d say “Family Tree” by Loretta Lynn for wallowing in your pain and “Mrs. Leroy Brown” also by Loretta for telling your man and that other woman exactly who they are messing with.

“You’re a Butthead” Song – If the butthead is a girl, “Bruise Violet” by Babes in Toyland. I used this song to tell someone off who spread rumors about me in high school. If the butthead is a guy, “Son of a Bitch” by Civet

“I’m Better Than That” Song – “On a Plain” by Nirvana. When I need strength, I listen to that one and sing the line, “I love myself better than you” really loud!

Bad Day Song – “F.T.W.” by Tiger Army, it stands for F*** the World, which is basically how you feel on a bad day.

Party Song – If you are going to a party, “Get The Party Started” by Pink. I don’t care if it’s an old song, it gets me revved up. If it’s the morning after a party, “T.S.R” by Against Me! It makes you want to dance again even if your head hurts :)

Dance Song- “Hey Baby” by No Doubt. It took me a long time to get into No Doubt because I like my girl rock stars a little bit more grrrr than Gwen. And I know that Rock Steady is a lot of people’s least favorite ND album, but that whole album just makes me want to dance. It’s my cleaning music and my work out music!

Stress Relieving Song – I really couldn’t pick one for this category because all music is stress relieving for me.
 
Sad Song- “Disintegration” by The Cure… Ahh those years when I sat in the dark a lot and listened to the Cure. Sniff.

Most Meaningful Song- “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion, I just like the way it makes you reflect on your life, I think that’s what makes it so meaningful.

All Time Fave Song – “Pennyroyal Tea” by Nirvana. It just is.



  • 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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