Sunday, January 24, 2010


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lynda Sandoval

What could possibly be worse than your dad dating your boyfriend’s mother? That’s how the summer begins for Lila. Little does she know that this summer is going to be filled with a twisting series of surprises? At the onset she is so unhappy that her father is dating Dylan’s mother, Chloe. She can’t help but imagine worse case scenarios. What if her boyfriend ends up being her stepbrother? Ew, can you imagine?
Her ultimate summer goal is to break up the relationship, but nothing turns out the way she expected. Chloe keeps being ,well….nice. To make matters worse Dylan thinks that Lila’s issue is that she doesn’t think his mother is good enough for her dad. But when she can’t find a job to help pay off her dream car Chloe gives her a job at her travel agency. Lila thinks she’s not going to like working for Chloe, but she ends up loving the job.
Things get even more unpredictable when Dylan’s ex-girlfriend, Lila’s arch nemesis, Jennifer Hellspawn Hamilton, announces she’s pregnant. Lila and her two best friends Meryl and Caressa can’t stand Jennifer. She has always been extremely superficial, and treated all of them like dirt. Still, when Jennifer’s fair-weather friends dump her as a result of her pregnancy Lila’s compassionate best friend Meryl takes her under her wing. At first Lila feels a little betrayed, but people can be surprising.
FATHER KNOWS BEST is warm-hearted, humorous romp, filled to the brim with girl-power and sincerity. The characters are likeable, believable, and often insightful and witty. It’s a story that blasts preconceived notions, and shows how life and fate have a mind of their own, no matter what plans you have. The message is positive and the story leaves the reader wanting more.a

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Review: EVERMORE

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Alyson Noel

Ever Bloom’s life is changed is changed forever when her family gets in a serious car accident. Ever, the only survivor of the accident wakes up able to see people’s auras and hear their thoughts. Any accidental physical contact causes Ever to know any individual’s whole life story. In an attempt to avoid human contact (thus control her abilities) she shuts down. She’s been branded an outcast at her new high school, but she does have two fellow outsiders to spend time with.
All this changes when she meets the mysterious new boy, Damen Auguste. The fact that he’s rich, gorgeous, and anything but typical is nothing compared to the fact being in his presence silences all of Ever’s intrusive new powers. But just like Ever, Damen is hiding dangerous secrets.
Things get even worse when his old flame, Drina enters the picture. Cold, calculated, and preternaturally beautiful, Drina shares Damen’s lack of an aura. The fact that Ever’s best friend Haven is fixatedly drawn to Drina is source of even more peril. Drina is a menace who makes no secret of her hate for Ever. But what begins as a game develops into something far deeper and dangerous.
EVERMORE marks veteran YA author Alyson Noel’s debut into the paranormal. Beautifully written and darkly seductive is one of the more exciting books of its genre. It is infectiously exciting to read! Look for the sequel BLUE MOON due out this summer.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Author Interview: A.S. King

Poised at the Edge Author Interview

A.S. King

THE DUST OF 100 DOGS is not your typical YA novel. With its mysticism and history, as well as unique and complex characters, it comes off as totally original and fresh. What inspired you to write this complex one of a kind novel?

I first got the idea while I was walking my dogs along a centuries-old road. I’d be lying if I said I aimed to be complex or original. I don’t really plan my books, and so, I work for a few months or years, and they come out looking like this. J But to answer your deeper question, these things inspired me: history, women in history, and dogs.

For the benefit of those who are yet to read THE DUST OF 100 DOGS will you please tell us a little about both Emer and Saffron, who they are, what motivates them, and what is their relationship with each other?

Emer Morrisey is a six year old Irish girl in 1650, when Oliver Cromwell’s army attacks her village and kills her family. She is brought up by her uncle and aunt who sell her to a man in Paris when she is fourteen. When she escapes him, and then escapes Paris , she ships herself to the Caribbean and eventually becomes a ruthless pirate.

Saffron Adams is a very clever teenager in the 1980s, trying to please everyone until she can finally escape her loser family and get to Jamaica , where she knows there is treasure buried, because she buried it 326 years before, when she was Emer Morrisey.

Location clearly is a key defining element of THE DUST OF 100 DOGS. From the green hills of Ireland , to the drizzly streets of Paris , to the balmy beaches Jamaica , the setting of the story has almost as much character as the characters themselves. Why did you choose the particular locations, and what did they have to do with the evolution of the story?

Because the story started with the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland , in a fictional location based on where I lived at the time, the backdrop of Ireland was a definite. I started writing that, and the American parts of the story, and wondered how the two would meet. A trip to Jamaica and a few pirate video games helped it land in the Caribbean . I love traveling, and I guess it shows in my work.

What kind of research did you do for the historical parts of your novel? What was it that drew you to Cromwell’s invasion? Would you say that the attack on Emer’s little village was a fairly realistic and accurate account of the invasion?

A small plaque in the nearby village (about a woman who defended her house against Cromwell’s army in February 1650) drew me to want to learn more about the Cromwellian invasion. Realizing that Cromwell’s army might have marched down the road I lived on (and learning about other injustices, in later years, on our own property) made me feel very close to it. The attack on Emer’s village is a fictional amalgam of many documented invasions, but not an actual historical event.

You’ve referred to your story as magical realism. Will you please explain the difference between magical realism and fantasy?

Fantasy is usually complete world building and involves fantastic characters and storylines. Magic realism is when magical or illogical events happen in a normal or everyday setting, to totally normal characters.

Why pirates, curses, and dogs?

The pirates and curses got the job done. The dogs helped along the way. Really, what can I say? I start writing a book, and it drags me where it wants to go, usually not the other way around. At the time, I was interacting with more dogs than humans, so that’s probably a factor.

Did you write from a carefully plotted outline? Did you know what was going to happen, and how the story would end? Were the characters carefully planned or did they evolve along with the story?

I didn’t write with an outline, though I did write a lot of notes, which I do for every book. Pages and pages of them—a kind of thinking out loud for me, where I bounce things around to see how they sound. I make a list of these ideas. I then try to use them to roll the snowball of a story into a bigger story. Some ideas die along the way because they don’t quite fit and get scratched out with black Sharpie marker. Some spring up right at the end and slot into place as if they grew there. But on a whole, my stories and characters evolve over time.

It is my understanding that you stumbled into YA literature unintentionally. Will you continue to write for the teen market in the future? Also, do you read any YA yourself? If so what are some books you enjoy?

It’s true. When I wrote this book, I was living in another country and had no idea about the US YA market for books. But I’ve always written teen-protagonist books, so landing here wasn’t so far off the mark. I do read a lot of great YA books. In the last year, I enjoyed WAKE and FADE by Lisa McMann, THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING by MT Anderson, CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson, EXIT HERE by Jason Meyers, GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones and THE SHAPE OF WATER by Anne Spollen.

Thanks so much for having me over, Melissa!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Author Interview: Justina Chen Headley

Poised at the Edge Author Interview

Justina Chen Headley


Congratulations on your third extraordinary YA novel NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL.  It’s a richly woven, theme-driven, thought provoking piece of work.  The story’s protagonist Terra Cooper can check a lot of the boxes in today’s oppressively rigid standards of “true beauty.”  She’s got the cascading flaxen hair, the long lean legs, the perfect six-pack abs; but that’s not what makes people stare.  People tend to gape unabashedly at her unfortunate birth mark.  Terra has a large port wine stain on her face.  What inspired you to write about this subject? 

For a long time—as a woman, a writer, and a mother—I’ve wanted to tackle our society’s super narrow definition of beauty, but I wasn’t sure what the entry point to a story would or should be.  It wasn’t until I was telling an acquaintance of mine what a great mothering job she was doing because her son is well-adjusted, popular, confident—and has a port wine stain on his cheek.  She stopped me in the middle of my accolades and said, “That’s because he’s a boy.”  With that one comment, my story was born and Terra sprang to life in my imagination like Athena from Zeus, fully-formed.


When you first began writing the story did you plan how Terra was going to handle her situation (or how her family, friends, boyfriends and peers would?)   Or did her character lead you as you began writing? 

Even before I began writing North of Beautiful, I knew precisely how the story was going to end down to the very last line.  But the murky middle?  That revealed itself as I wrote with Terra leading the way.   She kept making choices that made me uncomfortable—her relationship with her first boyfriend, her deception with her second—but it was Terra’s story.  And her decisions were real and made sense and, most important of all, they helped her grow.


NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL is a highly educational book on so many levels.  One subject of particular interest to me was geocaching.  Will please explain this pastime for the benefit of the uninitiated?

Think of geocaching as high tech treasure hunting.  Armed with a GPS device and specific coordinates for latitude and longitude, you search for caches filled with goodies.  There are literally thousands and thousands of caches around the world—even in Antarctica, on the Great Wall, probably in your neighborhood.  What can I say?  Embrace your inner geek.


 There are so many supporting characters that add richness (in both positive and negative ways) to Terra’s life.  Probably the most significant supporting character is Jacob, her unexpected love interest.  Even though at the beginning of the story Terra starts with a different boyfriend she ends up bonding with Jacob.  Jacob is truly empathetic toward Terra.  He’s also been the recipient of endless unsolicited stares, as an adopted Chinese boy, with a repaired cleft lip, and an uber-white family.   Where did the inspiration for this wise beyond his years character come from? 

I’ve been lucky to have incredible men in my life.  Two inspired Jacob:  one is a guy who was one of my best friends in college, and the other someone I met when I was researching a novel early in my writing career.


Terra’s fractured family members all have fascinating personalities and serious issues.  They all play a huge role in why Terra is the way she is.  Are any of these characters inspired by real people? Was it difficult to write a character like Terra’s father (I found myself seriously wishing he would drop dead?) 

Let’s just say that of all my books, North of Beautiful is probably the most autobiographical.  But I also want to get it out there:  people can change for the better.  And people do change to be their personal best.  Take heart because it does happen. I’ve seen it.


Unlike many other YA novels NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL has adult characters who are well defined and interesting.  Both Terra’s mom Lois and Jacob’s mom Norah are well-developed and have very interesting stories of their own.  Have you ever considered writing an adult novel?

Yes!  A number of my readers have asked me for a novel told from a woman’s POV.  While my main love is YA, I do have an idea for an adult novel.


Along with writing you like to do philanthropic work.  Can you please tell us what you (and the readrgirlz) have been up to on that front?

To celebrate North of Beautiful, I’m hosting the Find Beauty Challenge where I’m asking people to tell me what they find to be truly beautiful. For every uploaded video, I’m giving $10 to Global Medical Outreach, which sends surgeons to third worlds to help kids with cleft lips.  You can find all the info on

Then with readergirlz, we’re gearing up to host our second annual Operation TBD (Teen Book Drop), working with Guys Lit Wire, YALSA, and publishers to drop thousands of free YA novels into pediatric hospitals around the country.  Teen patients need the solace of story; we’re giving it to them! 

The video url:



Are you willing to tell us a little about your next project?

I’m not working on two…one is a YA fantasy, the other is another YA contemporary.




Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review: NEED

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Carrie Jones

Zara White has a very peculiar obsession with phobias. She can tell you the name of everything from the fear of noises or voices (phonophobia) to the fear of eating (sitophobia.) But what she can’t tell you is how she can snap out of the depression that began when her beloved stepfather dropped dead of a heart attack. In fact, her depression is so over the top that her mother is exiling her to frozen, remote, small town in Maine to live with her stepfather’s mother.
Zara is convinced her mother is doing this simply because she just can’t handle her right now. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Maine couldn’t be more different from Zara’s home town of Charleston. The kids at her new high school are not entirely easy to get along with. The only two really nice kids begin spouting off about their belief in Pixies….not exactly normal. But the presence of a mysterious stalker who’s been seen both in Charleston and Bedford, Maine (leaving a mysterious powdery gold trail behind him) is making Zara’s new friends tales seem almost viable.
Also the there’s Nick, a mysterious boy who seems disconnected, as if he’s got some serious secrets. He seems aloof, angry, yet protective over Zara. Protection is something she really needs when people begin going missing in Bedford, Maine. Could Devyn and Issie’s stories about vicious pixie’s and blood sacrifice possibly true? How does Zara tie in to it?
Carrie Jones writes colorful paranormal suspense with as much care and grace as her realistic teen fictions. Fans of Stephanie Meyer and Holly Black may rejoice at this well plotted, mystic creature filled extravaganza. The cover art is stunning, and the story, deliciously satisfying!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Review: FADE

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lisa McMann

Janie has an unusual gift (although some might consider it a curse.) She has the ability to enter people’s dreams. It happens when anyone falls asleep in the near vicinity of her. She learns to use her capability to help people solve problems. She also uses her dream catching to help undercover law enforcement. Now, with the help of her fellow undercover boyfriend Cabel, Janie is going to take down a very unsavory group of high school teachers who drug and molest their unsuspecting students.
FADE is the sequel to WAKE, the story that introduces us to Janie, her abilities, and her circumstances. We see Janie living with a thoroughly irresponsible, chronically alcoholic mother. Janie is forced to work just to keep food on the table and clothes on her back. She also has little or no basic supervision. What she really wants to do is go to college, but that seems like an almost impossible dream.
In WAKE Janie meets Cabel, a rough around the edges boy, who comes from equally unfortunate circumstances. He’s impressed with her abilities and introduces her to undercover law enforcement. But in FADE he has a hard time dealing with Janie having to put herself in jeopardy to bust a nefarious group of pedophiles.
The criminals are not the only source of danger for Janie. As she begins to master and control her abilities, she finds that they are taking a serious physical toll on her. Now she’s faced with a difficult choice. Should she follow her path in the name of the greater good, or should she isolate herself in an attempt to stay safe?
FADE is written in a unique third person present style. It seems simplistic, yet it tells the story at an urgent, real time pace. It’s a fast fun read for teens and adults who enjoy suspense, drama, and strong characters. I’m looking forward to the third book in the series, because I’m still intrigued by Janie and her gifts. One aspect of FADE I enjoyed was the dream presence of Mrs. Stubin a now deceased, elderly dream catcher, who educates Janie about her abilities both in the dream realm and in a journal. As readers we learn about dream catching right along with Janie.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Review: ETERNAL

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Cynthia Leitich Smith

In her mortal life Miranda was always pretty introverted and shy. Even though she was a wannabe theater geek, auditions were totally mortifying. What could possibly transform a retiring wallflower into the belle of the ball? How about a bite from undead royalty? When Miranda finds herself elevated and adopted by the King of the Mantle of Dracul she’s immersed into a decadent world of infinite wealth and luxury. But the dark gift comes with a heavy price.
Who can possibly save her from eternal damnation? Salvation (or an attempt at it anyway) comes in the form of her super-hot, recently demoted, Guardian Angel. Zachary has had his wings clipped for revealing himself, in all of his glory, while trying to save Miranda from the grasp of the menacing Dracul. Now, clumsy in his new human form, he lands a job as Princess Miranda’s personal assistant (all the undead have human PAs. It’s status symbol in the Eternal world.)
ETERNAL, which is written in alternating points of view (both Miranda and Zachary’s) reveals in exquisite detail the cutthroat antics of the self-indulgent Eternal aristocracy. Cynthia Leitich Smith borrows both from classic vampire lore, and her own unique darkly witty imagination, to create a dangerous love story that parallels Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine and all those other literary star-crossed lovers. Wholly original, and delightfully morbid, fans of TANTALIZE will eat this one up!