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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

Title: Tell Me a Secret
Author: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 6.22.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Teen pregnancy, Relationships, Family, Friendship, Secrets
Pages: 256
Description (from GoodReads):
Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

TELL ME A SECRET is the story of a girl with a tragic past determined to find a hopeful future.

When I picked up TELL ME A SECRET I was expecting a straightforward story about a pregnant teen girl experiencing the issues that immediately jump to my mind: shocked parents, absent boyfriend, and maturity issues. Holly Cupala surprised me though; her debut is so much deeper than that. Miranda endures horrible treatment at the hands of her parents, classmates, and boyfriend, but she remains strong and fights for what she believes is right.

When Miranda first suspects she may be pregnant, she makes the decision to keep it a secret and avoids taking a prenancy test. She waits months to take the test, preferring to live in ignorance rather than face the facts. Though I was angered by Miranda's actions, I could understand why she made those choices. In fact, I've known teen mothers who waited as long as possible before finally taking the test, so I know that it isn't a far fetched idea. I'm thankful that, while Miranda didn't want to see the proof, she still knew, deep down, that she was pregnant and she avoided alcohol and other teratogens that could seriously harm the baby.

The novel is largely about Miranda's pregnancy, but it was her connection and relationship with her sister, Xanda, that I found most compelling. Xanda, and her death, have had an enormous impact on Miranda. Miranda constantly looks to her memories and the Xanda that resides in her mind for guidance. Xanda was definitely not a horrible person, but she also is not the person Miranda idolizes. It was interesting to see the vast differences between Miranda's childhood perceptions of Xanda and who she really was.. the good and the bad.

Holly Cupala proves that she can, and will, tackle difficult material with TELL ME A SECRET - I can't wait to see what she takes on next!

Grade: A- 

Review copy provided by publisher.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

{Virtual Tour} Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala

I was pumped when Holly Cupala agreed to visit The Hiding Spot and invited me to participate in her virtual blog tour. I hadn't read TELL ME A SECRET at the time, but I'd read rave reviews, so I jumped at the chance. Since then, I've experienced Holly's amazing debut novel and I'm so glad that I listened to my instincts! It's an honor to have Holly on my blog and to, hopefully, inspire you to pick up this book as well!

A Brief Bio

Holly Cupala wrote teen romance novels before she ever actually experienced teen romance. When she did, it became all about tragic poetry and slightly less tragic novels. When she isn't writing and contributing to readergirlz, she spends time with her husband and daughter in Seattle, Washington. These days, her writing is less about tragedy and more about hope. TELL ME A SECRET is her first novel. Ten percent of the author's proceeds go toward World Vision's Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls.
The Interview

In the video below, Holly reads one of my favorite passages from TELL ME A SECRET and answers a few questions about the novel.


You can check out Holly's next stop tomorrow, July 30th, at The Bookologist! Tomorrow is the last stop on the tour, but be sure to go back and check out all of Holly's adventures. The full tour schedule with links to each post can be found HERE.

Though her virtual tour is ending, Holly is the featured author at readergirlz for the entire month of August, so there's still plenty of time to learn more about her and TELL ME A SECRET.


Holly is giving away some great prizes during her tour! Details about eligibility and how to win can be found below!

TELL ME A SECRET Tour Contest Entry Rules

• Leave comments at any official tour stop or Holly’s blog ( throughout the tour! Each comment counts as an entry (one comment per post*).
• Tweet about the tour (@hollycupala) and tell us what you think!
• Post about the tour, then leave a comment at my blog.
• Prizes available to US/Canadian shipping addresses only.

Each week's prizes will be announced at Holly’s blog the following week - check back to see if you've won and contact us at the contact link at (we will hold prizes for 2 weeks).

* Comment calculation: for instance, during week one you can comment once at every official stop, and once on any of my posts for that week to be entered in that week's prize drawing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Description (from GoodReads):
A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

I think I was most drawn to this novel by the fact that she falls for a dead guy. Even though this plot is nothing like Meg Cabot's MEDIATOR series, I can't help but compare the romances... and find myself liking the similarity! The rest of the plot sounds interesting as well. I'm a fan of boarding school mystery type novels, so I'm definitely interested!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of The View from the Top!

I absolutely loved Hillary Frank's THE VIEW FROM THE TOP, so I'm passing on my arc to one of my lovely blog readers! I almost overlooked this amazing novel - don't make that same mistake!


How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of A VIEW FROM THE TOP or the interview with Hillary Frank. (Only one comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on at least one of the posts or fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

Extra Entries:
Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+5 entries - Comment on my review or interview (whichever you did not comment on for your original entry)
+4 entries - Old Follower/Subscriber (Thank you!)
+2 entries - New Follower/Subscriber (Welcome! You will gain 4 entries in the next contest you enter at The Hiding Spot as an Old Follower/Subscriber!)
+2 Follow me on Twitter (@thehidingspot)
+3 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+3 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

Contest will close August 17th, 2010. Contest open Internationally!

Good luck!

One Question Blog Tour feat. Lauren Baratz-Logsted!

Today Lauren Baratz-Logsted visits The Hiding Spot as part of the One Question Blog Tour to promote THE EDUCATION OF BET, which was released July 12th! As the name implies, I was able to ask Lauren one question before she traveled on to her next stop at There's A Book!

The Question

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?

Well, you got me. The only answer I can possibly give is the same answer you gave: books. Whether reading them or writing them, books are my escape. When reading, I get to explore other worlds. When writing, I get to create worlds that others will hopefully want to explore with me. Really, I'm a one-note person. When my daughter is in school, I either write or read pretty much every minute from 7am to 4pm. One thing I do wish? That I could read the way I did when I was younger. By that I mean truly lose myself in a book. I can remember lying in bed at night with a new book when I was a kid, stopping every so often to fully visualize characters and settings to the point where it was as though I was living inside the story. As a result I still have a map in my mind of exactly what I think the Devon School from A Separate Peace looks like. But ask me to describe in detail the setting from a book I read last week and, unless the author's power of description was truly spectacular, I can't tell you a thing. So the escape is still there but it's a different escape than it once was.
For more about Lauren and her novels, visit her website!

And be sure to check out some of the other questions Lauren's been answering... and what's coming up!

July 26: Christina/Insert Book Title Here: What advice would you give an aspiring author? HERE

July 29: Danielle/There's A Book: Recently, you mentioned that you have an absolute "love affair" with door stops aka Fat Books (BiblioBuffet's Writer-in-Residence). Having said this, knowing that you've written some "skinnier" books, and must have a few favorites of those out there...I'd like to ask what your top 5 "skinny" books are and none of them may have been written by yourself or a family member. HERE

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cover of the Week (17)

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster/3.22.11
Description (from GoodReads):
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

I saw this cover and couldn't help but say WOW. Literally. It's different than anything I've seen lately... And I love that birdcage. I don't know if the bird has anything to do with the actual story, I mean, I hope it does, but I love it so much that I don't even really care. I also like the circles; they appear to be pointing out specific parts of the cover. It's intriguing...

And, seriously, read that description. I like!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan

Title: Accomplice
Author: Eireann Corrigan
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: 8.1.2010
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Keywords: Lies, Hoax, Kidnapping, Friendship, Disappearance
Pages: 296
Description (from GoodReads):
They've gotten good grades - but that's not good enough. They've spent hours on community service - but that's not good enough. Finn and Chloe's advisor says that colleges have enough kids with good grades and perfect attendance, so Chloe decides they'll have to attract attention another way. She and Finn will stage Chloe's disappearance, and then, when CNN is on their doorstep and the nation is riveted, Finn will find and save her. It seems like the perfect plan - until things start to go wrong. Very wrong.

I find it almost scary that I identify with Eireann Corrigan's ACCOMPLICE. I understand Chloe and Finn's fear that, no matter how hard they work, they still won't be good enough for their dream colleges. I think most prospective college students stress about that. But most kids, myself included, would not go to the extremes the main characters do. Still, I found myself thinking 'what if?'

Having only read Corrigan's poetry memoir previous to ACCOMPLICE, I had no idea what to expect from the novel. The story progressed slowly, which some may dislike, but, for me, it was positive characteristic that further illustrated the narrator's POV. The narrator, Finn, is the half of the duo that must lie to her friends and family about Chloe's whereabouts and I can only imagine that, while Chloe was in hiding, time would have seemed to move at a glacial pace.

While the plot of this novel is, for the most part, straight forward, Corrigan did incorporate a few twists that kept me interested. I would have been disappointed if the summary had revealed the entire plot.

Overall, ACCOMPLICE is an interesting novel that may appeal to fans of psychological thrillers minus the thrill aspect. I can't really say I'd describe this novel as exciting...

Grade: B

Review Copy Provided by Star Book Tours

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

Title: The Karma Club
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pub. Date: 4.27.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Karma, Revenge, Love, Friendship, Lies
Pages: 272
Description (from GoodReads):
Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. It’s that mysterious, powerful force that brings harmony to the universe. You know—do good things and you will be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what’s coming to you. A sort of cosmic balancing act.

But when Mason Brooks, Maddy’s boyfriend of two years, gets caught tongue-wrestling with Miss Perfect Body Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them—except that they wind up the hot new couple of Colonial High School, it seems like Karma has officially left Maddy in the lurch. That’s why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start the Karma Club—a secret, members-only organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind. Whether they’re modifying Heather Campbell’s acne cream as part of “Operation Butterface,” or righting a few wrongs when it comes to Angie and Jade’s own slimy exes, they know they’re just doing what Karma should have done in the first place. They’re taking care of one another.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. Because it turns out, when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, even as everything around her seems to be toppling to the ground.

Jessica Brody's THE KARMA CLUB is a great novel with an even greater message.

Maddy Kasparkova is an extremely relateable heroine, though I did find her a tad overwhelming at the beginning of the novel. She is completely consumed with being popular, which was definitely not me in high school. After Maddy realizes that being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be, she grew on me. I'm not sure it's a good thing, but I definitely identified with her revenge schemes. I think everyone has those times when they're fed up with how the chips fall and how terribly unfair things can be. Like Maddy, I sometimes feel like I should somehow even the score. I've learned that, while it may feel good in the moment, it doesn't feel so great later, a lesson Maddy quickly learns as well.

I'll admit to finding the Karma Club's revenge schemes hilarious. "Operation Butterface?" Classic. But it wasn't just the adventures and sticky situations the girls find themselves in that I found amusing, the dialogue and Maddy's inner monologue kept a smile on my face as well.

At the start of the novel, I wasn't sure that Maddy would have a romantic interest. In a fit of girl power she swears of boys and I felt confident that she'd keep that promise. I was suprised, but happy, when I discovered that was not the case... Actually, Maddy's unexpected relationship bore a happy resemblance to my favorite One Tree Hill (CW) romance.

It's rare that I can pinpoint my favorite part of a novel, especially in a fun novel like THE KARMA CLUB, but there was a part, near the end, that sticks out to me. After Maddy realizes that she has completely misunderstood karma, and scored herself some bad mojo in the process, she still admits that there is a part of her that enjoys all the drama and stunts The Karma Club orchestrated. I loved how honest that was. And it sticks with me because you can know something is wrong and still get some satisfaction from it. I find that people, myself included, often have a hard time admitting that. I thought it was important that Maddy came to that realization.

THE KARMA CLUB relays some important messages under the guise of a fun, lighthearted read. I highly recommend!

Grade: A

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

See What I See by Gloria Whelan
Description (from GoodReads):
Kate Tapert sees her life in paintings. Yet one place she never sees her life is in the work of the famous and reclusive artist Dalton Quinn—her father, whom she hasn’t seen or heard from in nearly ten years. Now Kate has an art dream of her own, and a scholarship to art school to help make it a reality. The last piece to the puzzle is staying with her father, which means it’s time for Kate to work her way into Dalton’s life, into his mind, and into his heart, whether he likes it or not.

See What I See is a powerful family story filled with uneasy relationships, deep secrets, reluctant togetherness, and an examination of the unbreakable bond between father and daughter. Celebrated National Book Award–winning author Gloria Whelan delivers her most modern story yet, with all the beauty, emotion, and timeless themes that she is known for.

In elementary school I loved Gloria Whelan's books, so I was excited when I saw SEE WHAT I SEE in HarperTeen's winter catalog. Judging by the description, this book looks like it'll deal primarily with Kate's relationship with her father, which excites me. I haven't read very many YA novels that have a narrow focus on familial relationships, but I think there should be more.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview: Hillary Frank (Author of The View From the Top!)

Today author Hillary Frank visits The Hiding Spot to discuss her novel THE VIEW FROM THE TOP. You can read my review of her fantastic novel HERE.

A Brief Bio

Hillary Frank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She is the author and illustrator of the novels "Better Than Running at Night," "I Can't Tell You," and "The View From the Top."
Hillary is also an independent producer for a variety of programs on public radio.

Her work has aired on This American Life, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Studio 360, Marketplace, Day to Day, Weekend America, and Chicago Matters. She has won awards for her radio stories from the Association for Women in Communications, the National Mental Health Association, and the Third Coast International Audio Festival, one of the highest honors in public radio.

Hillary has taught courses and workshops to young and grown adults at Loyola University, River Oak Arts, Off Campus Writers' Workshop, and the City of Chicago's inner city writing program Words37. She has also appeared as a guest speaker at many schools and libraries, including the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, Tufts University, Simmons College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and high schools around the country. Both Hillary's first novel and her first radio story started as unsolicited submissions, which she hopes is proof to aspiring writers that getting published really is possible.

The Interview

Give a short statement describing A VIEW FROM THE TOP.

Whenever I write a book, I am trying to answer a question I have about how life works. For THE VIEW FROM THE TOP, that question was: Why, as teenagers (sometimes as adults, too), do we feel so alone, when really in the big picture we’re all going through the same things?

What did writing the novel from the point-of-view of six different characters enable you to convey that one POV wouldn’t have allowed.
By writing the novel from the point-of-view of six different characters, I hoped to convey that while externally these characters may seem very different, internally they are having a lot of the same feelings and insecurities.

Which character did you find easiest to write? Hardest?
Matt was probably the easiest because he’s a little more of a caricature than the others. Everyone else was about the same degree of difficulty. But the hardest scene to write was the “Mrs. Robinson” scene between Jonah and Matt’s mom. It was tricky to do it in a way that felt real.

If you were to write a full novel that featured just one of the six characters, which would you choose and why.
Well, I sort of feel like the entire book is really about Anabelle. But if I were to explore another one of the characters in more depth it would probably be Tobin because I think I could do more surprising things with him than with the others.

Anabelle is “the one that ties them all together.” What is it about Anabelle that the five other characters find so alluring?
I think each character sees a quality in Anabelle that they want for themselves. For Tobin, it’s her ability to fit in; for Jonah, it’s her purity; for Lexi, it’s her confidence; for Matt, it’s her talent; for Mary-Tyler, it’s her lack of wealth. In one way or another, each character is projecting his or her desires and fears on Anabelle. I think Anabelle is the sort of person who makes this easy for people because she is so genuine, curious, and caring.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
Not yet... but I've just launched an exciting new radio fiction project called The Truth.
Here's a link to our Facebook page:

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
I love a good TV series. Some favorites have been Freaks and Geeks, The Wire, and Lost. Right now I’m enjoying the 4th season of Friday Night Lights. That recent episode where Matt Saracen buries his dad just kills me. The acting, the writing--amazing. And, since I just had a baby, I’ve been getting a kick out of Parenthood and Modern Family. I could watch the Modern Family pigeon scene over and over again.

Thanks for visiting, Hillary!

You can learn more about Hillary at her website.

Review: The View from the Top by Hillary Frank

Title: The View from the Top
Author: Hillary Frank
Publisher: Dutton
Pub. Date: 5.13.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Love, Friendship, Choices, Split Narrative
Pages: 272
Description (from arc):
Tobin won't miss anything about life in Normal, Maine, when he leaves for Conservatory... except for his dream girl.
Jonah would give up his players ways - and his best friend - for a chance with his best friend's girlfriend.
Lexie desperately hopes her crush will see her in a new light, but fears that her love will remain unrequited.
Matt is anxiously clinging to the past, afraid that he won't be a part of his girlfriend's brighter future.
Mary-Tyler wishes people would look past her weight and wealth and accept her for who she is.
And then there's Anabelle, the one who ties them all together. As she sorts out her love life and tries to make sense of her increasingly complicated friendships Anabelle begins to question how well her friends really know her... and how well she knows herself.

I knew had to read Hillary Frank's newest release when I asked one of the librarians at my local public library what she'd read recently and been impressed by and she named THE VIEW FROM THE TOP. Coupled with the fact that some of my recent favorites have been books that I had never heard of before, just randomly selecting them from the shelf, I knew that I had to give THE VIEW FROM THE TOP a shot.

I've been reading many wonderful contemporary YA novels lately and I always think that the next one can't possible be better than the last. I've come to the conclusion that I can no longer have a favorite book - I just can't pick only one! I was shocked by how quickly I was pulled into this novel and how deeply I identified with the characters, particularly Anabelle. I understood the characters and their motivations in such an intimate way, which caused an emotional connection to the story, and, I think, provided a more intense reading experience. But, even without this deeper connection, I think I would have loved this novel.

The story is told in alternating POV by the six different characters, each chapter and character beginning where the last left off. I've been reading quite a few novels done in this format and I'm really starting to like it. Seeing situations from more than one POV adds another dimension; it's like going from 2D to 3D. I was worried that having six narrators would be confusing, but this definitely wasn't the case. Each character had a unique voice and a completely different view of the summer... and Anabelle.

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP takes on many different, and sometimes sticky, situations. Some of these situations I've experienced myself, so it's understandable that I identified with those, but I felt a connection to the others as well, which can be only be credited to Frank's fantastic writing. I'll definitely be reading more by Hillary Frank!

Grade: A+

Cover Notes:
I liked the cover before I read the book, but I loved it after.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cover of the Week (16)

A Touch Mortal  by Leah Clifford
Greenwillow Books/2.22.10
Description (from GoodReads):
Eden didn’t expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.
So long happily-ever-after.
Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.
She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own.
And that’s only the beginning of the end.

You have to appreciate a book that makes you drool, no matter how unattractive. The colors of this cover just POP! Can you imagine how amazing it's going to look on a bookshelf? Hint: Freaking fantastic.

Also, we already know that Az "saunters." Saunter = hawt. I'm pretty sure that's one of those basic math equations.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author(s): John Green & David Levithan
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Pub. Date: 4.6.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Love, Chance Encounters, Homosexuality, Theatre, Musicals
Pages: 310
Description (from arc):
Will Grayson, meet Will Grayson.
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens - both named Will Grayson - are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building towards respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most fabulous high school musical.

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON has been sitting on my to-be-read pile for quite some time. Other books kept pushing ahead in line until, finally, I took it off the stack and stuck it in my bag, refusing to look at another book until I'd finished it.

At first, I wasn't as enthralled as I'd imagined I'd be. I thought that John Green's Will Grayson was hilarious and I was enjoying the sections he narrated, but I simply couldn't connect with David Levithan's Will. He was just too for me. Too negative, too sarcastic, too much in general. I found him extremely annoying - until he met the other Will Grayson. I can't pinpoint the exact change that occurred, but I know that when the Will Graysons met in that "unlikely corner of Chicago," I started to like Levithan's Will, sometimes even more than I liked Green's! *gasp* Once I made a connection with both Will Graysons, my attitude towards the book changed completely. At first, I could easily set the novel down and was distracted by other things, but after, it was nearly impossible to tear my eyes from the page. So, if you've yet to read WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, don't give up on it if you aren't connecting with both characters. There's a chance that this will change for you, as it did for me, but, even if it doesn't, this novel is definitely worth finishing!

I can't write a review of this novel without mentioning Tiny Cooper, who is both a best friend and love interest in the novel. He was a fabulous character and, of all the characters, I'd have to say that he shines the brightest. I'd love to read a novel from his point of view!

Overall, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is a hilarious novel written by two phenomenal authors. It reminded me just how amazing John Green's writing is and has encouraged me to seek out more by David Levithan.

Grade: A

*Edit: I said above that I didn't know what changed to allow my connection with Levithan's Will, but thanks to the wonderful comment below, I realized the reason! Will meets Tiny!! Now that I've realized this, I feel slightly silly, as it is actually quite obvious.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley!

Knopf has provided one finished copy of A LITTLE WANTING SONG to be won by a lucky reader at The Hiding Spot!

(1) finished copy of A LITTLE WANTING SONG

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of ALWS or the interview with Cath Crowley. (Only one comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on at least one of the posts or fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

Extra Entries:
Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+5 entries - Comment on my review or interview (whichever you did not comment on for your original entry)
+4 entries - Old Follower/Subscriber (Thank you!)
+2 entries - New Follower/Subscriber (Welcome! You will gain 4 entries in the next contest you enter at The Hiding Spot as an Old Follower/Subscriber!)
+2 Follow me on Twitter (@thehidingspot)
+2 Follow Cath Crowley on Twitter (@CathCrowley)
+3 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+3 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

Contest will close August 5th, 2010. Open to US mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers!

Good luck!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Interview: Cath Crowley (Author of A Little Wanting Song!)

One of my favorite authors, Cath Crowley, is visiting The Hiding Spot today! Crowley's recently released novel, A LITTLE WANTING SONG, is one of the most gorgeous novels I've ever read. Be sure to check out my review!


A Brief Bio

 Cath Crowley spends her time "writing young adult fiction and fiction for younger children. She likes reading, TV marathons, the planetarium, politics and hanging out with friends." She is the author of  A LITTLE WANTING SONG, which was released in Australia as CHASING CHARLIE DUSKIN.

The Interview
Give a short statement describing A LITTLE WANTING SONG.
A Little Wanting Song is about longing. For a first love. For escape. For the dead to come back to life. For something beautiful in world that seems anything but beautiful. The writing style is mostly lyrical because the book is meant to feel like a wish or a song.

Why did choose to write A LITTLE WANTING SONG from both Charlie and Rose’s point-of-view? Why not just Charlie’s POV or vice versa.
On the surface, Rose and Charlie seem different, but actually they have a lot in common. Writing from both viewpoints allowed me to show the things that divided and linked them. Also, I wanted the characters to swap places at the end of the novel – for the reader to see that without luck we could all be outsiders.

And I guess, honestly, I just really like writing split narratives. It’s fun to write two characters that bounce off each other through the narrative.
Music plays an important role in the novel, especially Charlie’s story. I loved the lyrics scattered between chapters; they’re simple, but full of raw emotion and longing. Did these lyrics form in your mind after Charlie developed into a character? Are you a musician yourself?

Thanks for writing that about the lyrics – they took me a long time to write. They’re not in the first version of the book because I couldn’t find a way to translate Charlie’s prose voice into poetry. My brothers are very talented but the musical gene missed me entirely.
But when I rewrote the book for the US market it seemed to me that her voice was already so lyrical that it wouldn’t take much to shift it to poetry. Even so, I stared at a blank screen for ages. And then I began to write with my IPod in, the music turned up loud.
I couldn’t think, so I had to write without thinking, if that makes sense. After a while I’d turn the music off and look at what I’d come up with. There were some strange things on the page but I like strange and Charlie’s quirky so I knew I had the start of her poems/songs. My favourite lines are from after Charlie kisses Dave: So slowly, really slowly/I’m spinning song and dancing/Rising voice beneath my skin.
Allison Wortche, my US editor, did a beautiful job of editing them. Still, I was nervous about what the reader would think, so it’s a relief that people have liked them.

Both Charlie and Rose have a romantic interest in the novel, but each has an extremely different attitude toward the relationship. What does each girl’s view of boys and relationships say about them?
Rose is desperate to have a different life from her mother’s. She loves Luke but she can’t stand the thought that he’ll give her the same life that her parents have: long days with nothing in them but eating fish and chips while the conversation circles around cars. (I actually think Luke would give her more than this but she’s not willing to take that chance.) She sees him as the person who will hold her back.
Charlie ’s less complicated. She wants to connect. She wants a ‘normal’ experience with a boy. But what’s normal anyway? I think her relationship with Dave shows their quirkiness and I like that. She moves slowly towards him because she’s unsure. She’s been pushed to the side for such a long time.

If there is one lesson or meaning you hope readers take away from A LITTLE WANTING SONG, what would it be?
I guess I’d like them to take away the idea that most times there’s a way back from loss. Charlie and her dad lose a lot in the novel but the end is hopeful. Also, that everyone’s different and that’s okay. That’s the way it’s meant to be.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
My next book is Graffiti Moon, out with Pan Macmillan in August this year.
It’s about the graffiti artists Shadow and Poet. Shadow paints these amazing pictures all over the city - birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Poet writes the words to go with the pictures and sometimes he does his own walls too.
Lucy Dervish and her friends, Jazz and Daisy, go on this all-night adventure to celebrate the end of Year 12. Lucy’s really along for the ride because she thinks she has a chance of finding Shadow. She thinks she’s in love with him – if only they could meet, she’s pretty sure they’d hit it off.
During the night Lucy is separated from the group and she runs into Ed, who’s pretty much the last guy she wants to have anything to do with. He knows where to find Shadow, though; so the two of them start searching together.
The book is split narrative, alternating between Ed and Lucy. Occasionally, there’s a piece from Poet. I love the way Ed and Lucy bounce off each other. I loved writing a narrative that took place on one night, two people racing across the dark together.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Story is my escape from reality. I take it in any form I can get- books, plays, TV, film, conversations with friends, music. I’m sure it’s not entirely good but I love disappearing into other worlds.
Once the book I’m writing is up and running, I mostly hide there. I dream about my story. I think about it on my walks. My friends often say that they will be talking to me and then I get this look and they know I’m off some place else.
Thank you, Cath!
Be sure to check out my review of A LITTLE WANTING SONG here!

Review: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Title: A Little Wanting Song
Author: Cath Crowley
Publisher: Knopf
Pub. Date: 6.8.10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Music, Love, Friendship, Grief, First Impressions
Pages: 228
Description (from GoodReads):
A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . . .

CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

I could tell by the description of A LITTLE WANTING SONG that I would enjoy it, but I had no idea how much I would come to love it.  Often, when I finish a good novel, I'll feel satisfied, but ALWS was different. Cath Crowly left me longing... longing for more of this brilliant, soulful novel and the characters I had come to love.

ALWS is told in alternating point-of-view by Charlie and Rose, two girls who are, at first glance, complete opposites, but, in truth, have more in common than either ever imagined. At first, I felt much closer to Charlie, which I think was primarily due to her music. Her lyrics are simple, but so incredibly full of truth and raw emotion; I could feel the power behind them. It's just a little wanting song/ It won't go on for all that long/ Just long enough to say/ How much I'm wishing for/ Just a little more Rose is much more guarded than Charlie and keeps her emotions tightly locked away. It wasn't until she allowed some of that emotion to show that I really connected with her. By the time I finished the novel, I had become so invested in Crowley's characters that it was almost painful to leave them behind.

Often, in YA literature, parents are mysteriously absent. Other times, they are completely horrid. There are, of course, exceptions, but, in my experience, those exceptions are few and far between. In ALWS, Rose and Charlie's relationships with their parent(s) profoundly affects their actions and beliefs. I'm extremely greatful that Crowley focused on this aspect of Charlie and Rose's life, since, in real life, this relationship definitely has an impact.

Since ALWS is told from two POVs, the romance is unique. Charlie's budding romance with Dave, one of Rose's closest friends, was absolutely perfect. Their relationship moves slowly, with shy smiles and wistful glances. The tension between the two was fantastic. If Charlie and Dave's relationship is a steady flame, Rose and Luke's is an explosion. It isn't that the couple doesn't care deeply for one another - they honestly do - there's just many unresolved issues between the two. While the romantic in me dislikes their rocky relationship, I could identify with Rose's fears and anxiety, allowing me to appreciate it.

A LITTLE WANTING SONG is a gorgeous novel that has captured my heart and refuses to let go.

Grade: A+

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Greenwillow, 3.29.11
Description (from GoodReads):
Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

"Lush, romantic, and compelling..." I'm already in love with this book! Being compared to Shannon Hale and Robin McKinley isn't too shabby either!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Siren by Tricia Rayburn

Title: Siren
Author: Tricia Rayburn
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pub. Date: 7.13.10
Genre: YA
Keywords: Supernatural, Siren, Love, Friendship, Sisters, Murder, Myths
Pages: 352
Plot (from arc):
Something deadly waits beneath the saves off Winter Harbor, and this summer, no one is safe.
Vacationing in Winter Harbor, Maine, is a tradition for Vanessa and Justine Sands, and that means spending time with the Carmichael boys. This summer, Vanessa is determined to channel some of her older sister’s boldness, get over her fear of the ocean, and maybe turn her friendship with Simon Carmichael into something more.
But when Justine goes cliff-diving after a big family argument, and her body washes ashore the next day, Vanessa is sure that it was more than an accident. She is more certain of this, when she discovers that her sister was keeping some big secrets and Caleb Carmichael’s gone missing! Suddenly, the entire oceanfront town is abuzz when a series of grim, water-related accidents occur, with the male victims washed ashore grinning ear to ear.
Vanessa and Simon team up to figure out if these creepy deaths have anything to do with Justine and Caleb, but what Vanessa discovers might mean the end of her summer romance and life as she knows it.

I consider myself lucky when I say that I was able to read SIREN months before its release. In fact, I picked it up based solely the title and cover art, before I'd ever even heard of it. I had no idea what to expect, but soon found myself completely immersed in the mystery and romance of Rayburn's phenomenal YA debut.

It isn’t hard to guess what the novel is about, given the description and title, but that doesn’t stop Tricia Rayburn from writing a compelling mystery with a great love story. Sure, the reader knows that there will be mysterious deaths and Vanessa's relationship with a childhood friend will most likely grow into something more, but the lack of mystery is made up for by the superb writing and characters.

When I hear "siren," the first thought that pops into my head is mermaids. Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid to be precise. Sirens are not mermaids, which Rayburn makes abundantly clear. There are very few YA novels that involve honest-to-goodness, homocidal sirens, but, if they're anything like Rayburn's, I wish there were more. I'm hopeful that Rayburn will further explore siren lore in her future novels; in SIREN the history and motivations were mentioned, but I would love to see further exploration.

Despite the obvious spoilers about the mysterious deaths, Rayburn still keeps readers on their toes. While it is quite obvious who is killing these men, the why isn’t so clear. In addition, Vanessa’s sister dies under mysterious circumstances, adding an unexpected twist. Justine’s death can't be pinned on the sirens as easily as male deaths.

Apart from the supernatural plot line, SIREN is also a great coming-of-age story. Vanessa grows significantly throughout the novel as she discovers more about herself, Justine, and the history of Winter Harbor. I found her relationship with her late sister to be particularly interesting; there was so much more to the sisters’ story than I had anticipated.

And then there’s Simon. SIREN's description boasts a burgeoning relationship between Vanessa and Simon, which, of course, caught my eye. I definitely like romances where "friends" find themselves becoming "more than friends" and Rayburn writes the evolution wonderfully. There's just the right amount of tension and denial and confusion.

Grade: A

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cover of the Week (15)

Cover May Not Be Final.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
HarperTeen, 1.4.11
Description (from GoodReads):
In this first book of a thrilling trilogy about angels, one girl must choose between fulfilling her Purpose and following her heart.

Clara has known she was part–angel ever since she turned fourteen two years ago. But now she is finally getting visions of what her Purpose—a rite of passage for every part–angel—is to be, and it happens to involve a gorgeous guy. Of course, there is the raging forest fire surrounding them, too. When Clara’s Purpose leads her family to Wyoming, Clara finds the boy of her visions, Christian, but complicating her mission are her growing feelings for another guy, Tucker. As the day in her visions draws closer, Clara discovers that her Purpose may play into a larger struggle between angels and Black Wings—fallen angels who spread sadness and misery wherever they go. But when the fire erupts and both Christian and Tucker are in danger, who will she choose to save?
From debut novelist Cynthia Hand comes a riveting tale full of supernatural powers, forbidden romance, and the choice between fulfilling your destiny or following your heart.

Such a beautiful cover! My favorite part is definitely the title and the feather detail. I'm very interested to see how the purple will look on the finished copies.

I'm intrigued by the book's description as well. When I saw that UNEARTHLY was about angels I expected something much like HUSH, HUSH. Hand's debut looks completely unique: the main character, a girl, is the angel! I can't wait to explore this world!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June!

I was lucky enough to receive not one, but two arcs of THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE. One copy is signed to me, but the other is waiting to be read by YOU!

Description (from GoodReads):
Three sisters, three extraordinary, life-changing powers!

I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself.
Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?
April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.
Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.




How to Enter:
You MUST comment on the Playing Favorites post featuring Robin Benway. (Only one comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on the post or fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

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Contest will close July 30th, 2010. Open Internationally!

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