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!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Book Review: DUST OF 100 DOGS

Poised at the Edge Book Review
A.S. King

The story begins with Emer Morrisey a swash-buckling; take no prisoners, pirate, dying on a Caribbean, with the love of her life only a few feet away. Before she breathes her last breath a mysterious pirate blows a dusty powder all over her, cursing her to the life of one hundred dogs. So she does. Over three hundred and sixty five years she lives the lives of a hundred dogs. With each of her lives she acquires all sorts of knowledge and memories. Including the memories of her pirate life, including the hidden treasure, which lies buried near where she and her beloved died.
Now, done with her lives as many dogs, Emer is reborn as a modern girl named Saffron Adams. Saffron, who is considered a genius, because all of her past life knowledge, has only one thing on her mind She wants to escape the confines of her uneducated demanding parents, and go find the treasure she buried on that Caribbean beach all those years ago. Her parents are very greedy about Saffron’s perceived genius. They want her to go medical school and support them forever.
Emer, with her bold fury, lives inside of Saffron, pushing her toward independence and escape. DUST OF 100 DOGS is a fascinating, highly original action novel that weaves brilliantly written historical passages with more standard modern teen ones. Written non-linearly we see Emer as an innocent child living Ireland during the merciless attacks of Oliver Cromwell. She sees her parents and brother murdered before being taken away by her sadistic uncle, who also hid during the attack. She so miserable living with her uncle’s family that she forgoes speaking for several years. Right after she meets her true love her uncle sells her to wealthy old man in Paris. Thus begins the hardships that end with Emer’s eventual transformation to pirate.
This adventure story is both engrossing and totally unpredictable. While the structure is fairly experimental, it totally works. A.S. King’s stunning debut is part history lesson, part dog training manual, part modern coming of age story. It dazzles with its risky originality and its shameless girl-power. Emer/Saffron is powerful, intelligent, willful protagonist that the sisterhood just has to love!

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Poised at the Edge Book Review
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys
Tina Ferraro

Parker Stanhope can’t wait to play varsity soccer now that she’s a junior. After all, she’s been playing soccer practically since she could walk. Her life has been working out just the way she wants it to. She’s made new friends who are a lot more popular than her middle school friends were, she’s paid her dues on the soccer field, and now she’s headed for varsity glory. But then her coach moves all of her best friends up, but leaves her behind with the JV losers!
This is social disaster of epic proportions. Now her crew of “best friends” is pretty much disowning her, using the excuse that she needs to bond with her own team mates. How could things possibly get worse? In an attempt to regain her “perfect life” back Parker, with the help of her studying to be lawyer big brother, cook up a ridiculous plan to be put on the varsity team.
Parker’s plan involves a prom king, a kissing booth, a desirable parking place, and lots of cash. Now all Parker has to do is pull of a realistic looking kiss. Here’s the problem: she’s never even really been kissed. Her solution: an unlikely kissing coach. How did her life ever come to this?
Now she’s having canoodling lessons from her (almost) hot freshmen neighbor! The plot thickens when her very popular ex-best friends find out about this strange relationship. Now it’s all over the school. Parker is in love with a freshmen (and she thought JV soccer was social suicide.) To make matters even more complicated, his father and her father, have a feud of Hatfield and McCoy proportions.
Tina Ferraro always writes funny, complicated novels about high school politics. The ABC’S OF KISSING is engaging story with laugh out loud moments, and memorable characters. Highly entertaining!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Justina Chen Headley

Terra Cooper thinks that if you saw her from behind you might be jealous of her. You might think she’s “perfect.” She’s tall, with a body that’s part dancer, part athlete. Her platinum hair always looks just right. As one might expect, people stare at Terra everywhere she goes. But when people are staring at her it’s usually not because of her aforementioned “beautiful” traits. Their unsolicited ogles are the result of Terra’s face. All the thick make-up and powder in the world can’t seem to cover the red-stained birthmark that stretches across her cheek.
Unfortunately Terra’s problems run much deeper than the mark on her face. Terra and her mother (and her two older brothers, before they escaped) are forced to walk on eggshells around their home for fear of being terrorized by her bitter and controlling father. Terra’s father suffered a professional humiliation, which cost him his credibility. Now he lives to humiliate and degrade the people around him, especially the members of his immediate family. Terra’s mom, Lois, is his primary victim.
Lois is always apologizing for everything. She’s one of those women who always put her needs and satisfaction last. She’s crumbled under the constant verbal abuse of her husband. She’s wracked with guilt about Terra’s birthmark (and is always trying to do ineffectual treatments for it.) Ever since Lois’s sister died in a travel accident a few years before Lois has buried herself in binge-eating and subsequent weight gain to try to insulate herself from the many painful truths of her life. Of course her eating and weight are continual fodder for her vicious husband’s tirades.
Terra secretly plans to escape her family, her boyfriend (who people think she should be grateful for, even though she doesn’t love him) and her stifling small town. She’s rushing her way through high school so she can graduate a year early. Her plans are carefully mapped out. But of course, her father finds a way to ruin her plans. Just when things are looking hopeless, Terra meets a most unusual boy who really understands her. Suddenly she finds herself being pushed in an unexpected, scary, and exciting direction.
Jacob is a Chinese boy adopted into a (fractured) American family. He goes for a Goth style because (he tells Terra) people are always going to stare at him. They stare because he doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of his white, blonde, all American family. He’d rather wear black clothes and eye-liner, so that they’d be staring at him on his terms, not theirs.
An exciting benefit of Terra’s relationship with Jacob is that Jacob’s worldly confident mother forms a deep bond with Terra’s mother Lois. Norah helps Lois expand her horizons and live up to her best potential. Norah recognizes Lois’s many talents and encourages her to monetize them. The four of them travel to China together.
NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL is an astonishingly deep and powerful novel that leaves a reader thinking about life and the real meaning of beauty. Justina Chen Headley is uniquely gifted at writing prose that is both light and witty, and remarkably serious and moving. NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL tells a tale of travel, discovery, true love and enlightenment. As always Ms. Chen Headley writes with an empowering feminist slant. NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL is highly educational and carefully researched. This book is a true gem. I would highly recommend it to women and girls of all ages.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lisa Schroeder
Ava's summer begins with a funeral. Now Jackson, her first true love, is dead and gone from her forever. Or is he? Soon after the funeral Ava feels cold drafts in the house, hears her CD player play songs of its own volition, and smells the scent of Jackson's sandalwood shaving cream. Though she can't see him, or touch him, she knows he's there. Jackson has come back to her.
At first it feels like a miracle, a blessing. He even visits her in dreams, where she can see him, and kiss him, and truly be with him again. Now all that Ava wants to do is stay home and be alone with him. She doesn't want her friends to call or visit. She begins to withdraw from the world around her.
But after a while it doesn't feel like enough. Jackson's spirit is prone to jealous fits when she goes out with other people. And let's face it, a presence sometimes isn't enough. Ava feels lonely, and wants people to talk to, and a real hand to hold. But she still feels tremendous love for Jackson, and substantial guilt about his accidental death. But how can either of them really let go?
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME is eerily romantic, slightly frightening, and incredibly engrossing. Powerful emotions, vivid characters, and a heartfelt lesson, come across in very few words. Written in verse, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, takes the reader directly into Ava's head and soul! This novel is beautifully executed. I just loved it.
Lisa Schroeder is the featured author at the Class of Y2K8


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Sara Zarr

When Jennifer was a little girl she was ostracized, and teased mercilessly. Grade school was awful; it would have been pure hell if it weren't for her best friend Cameron. Together they weathered the taunts of the more mainstream children. They were always there for each other, until one day Cameron wasn't.
At first things were agonizing for Jennifer, but over time things began to change for the better. Her weary mother married a very decent man, who took them out of poverty, and helped Jennifer build a new life in a new place. Jennifer took it upon herself to leave her old identity behind. Gone was the chubby girl in shabby clothes, who cried at every insult (and there were lots of those.)
So Jennifer morphed into Jenna. Now she was slimmer, with shiny hair, nice clothing, popular friends, and a "normal" family in a nice house. Jenna even finds herself with a boyfriend, who lots of other girls like. But Jenna still feels Jennifer living inside her. It's almost impossible to erase the past, and be the bubbly charming girl she knows she has to be (lest people hate her, and tease her again.)
Then one day Cameron returns. His sudden appearance cracks at the fragile veneer that Jenna has been showing to the public. Now Jenna is forced to face her past, and find closure with her former self.
SWEETHEARTS is a literary victory. Sara Zarr's debut novel, STORY OF A GIRL, was universally acclaimed by critics and fans alike. Now she proves herself as a highly skilled, emotionally smart, and totally exciting member of the YA writing community.
Poised at the Edge Book Review

Kerri Langston has always had psychic visions of the dead. After her father's presumed suicide the visions have become more intense. Her belief in his pleas to help solve the mystery of his death have earned her the label of "unstable" by the kinder people, and "town freak" by some of her less sympathetic peers.
When Keri stumbles upon a body in the woods near Deacon Pond, she realizes that her connection to the dead may help her solve a crime. The murder victim turns out to be a small piece in a complex puzzle. The murder is also intricately connected to Kerri's father's death, and Kerri's childhood best friend, who she's starting to fall in love with.
E.M. Alexander creates a tightly written suspense story that delves into both the world of paranormal, and real-life crime. This mystery takes turns that are truly unexpected. The writing is both intelligent and original.

Book Review: WAKE

ised at the Edge Book Review
Lisa McMann

Some might call it a gift; others might call it a curse. Ever since she was a little girl Janie has found herself getting sucked into other people's dreams. It happens, on trains, school buses, and classrooms; anywhere that people fall asleep in a near proximity to her. Not only does she see all the dream's action, she actively participates in the events.
Janie's role as a "dream catcher" allows her to help people solve specific problems, and move on from catastrophic events that define their lives. But on the flip side, she also is subject to a lot of embarrassing information and revelations. Worst of all, she's sometimes exposed to terror. Life becomes complicated when she starts seeing the terrifying, panic-inducing dreams of mysterious guy named Cable.
Cable, like Janie, comes from a poor, dysfunctional family, and is a bit of a social outcast. Janie has spent so much time and effort trying to fit in, and be accepted by the wealthier mainstream kids at her school. It's probably a huge mistake to befriend Cable. But he seems to understand Janie better than anyone else. She even trusts him enough to reveal her secret. But what is he hiding from her?
Lisa McMann writes a suspenseful thriller, full of twists and turns that keep the reader engaged, down to the very last page. I eagerly await the sequel FADE, which is coming soon. WAKE will be in stores in just a few days.


Poised at the Edge
Debbie Reed Fischer

Alee Rosen has been called numerous names in her high school career: "egg-head", "brainiac", and "the queen of serious" to name a few. She's a literature-loving feminist, whose primary goal is to Yale. So imagine her dismay when she's accepted at Yale, only to find that her parents can't afford the tuition.
Allee's luck takes an unanticipated turn when she takes her beautiful sister Sabrina (aka "The Fluff") to modeling competition at the mall. Much to Allee's (and her sister's, and well everyone's) surprise, she "discovered" by talent scouts. Allee is signed to major modeling agency in Miami. Now she is leaving the mundane suburban comforts of Cape Comet, and heading to the whirlwind wonderland of high fashion.
But the glamorous life isn't all it's cracked up to be. Allee falls into a hole filled with backstabbing roommates, tireless competition, and over-the top partying. It's hard to keep to her feet on the ground, and her mind on her goals (Yale!) while she's living in this alternate reality.
BRALESS IN WONDERLAND is fast-paced, clever, entertaining, and oh-so satisfying read. Debut author Debbie Reed Fischer gives us a funny, scary, realistic peek into the sometimes vicious, always fascinating world of professional modeling. This book is definitely a keeper!

Book Review: THE SQUAD

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Toby Klein is not exactly a Bayport High Socialite; definitely not varsity cheerleader material, or so she thinks. Her combat boot wearing, black belt in karate ass-kicking, class skipping, computer hacking ways don’t exactly fit the mold. So why is the reigning socially elite squad soliciting her membership?
On the surface Bayport High operates like any other high school. Cheerleaders and jocks rule the roost. Outsiders are disdained, and everyone else scrambles for acceptance. But appearances can be so very deceiving. Turns out Bayport’s varsity cheerleading squad is a government run covert super-spy organization. Toby has some serious hacking skills that have caught the squad’s eye. And they’ve been watching her for a long time.
Now Tobey must forgo her combat boots for something a little more sparkly. Post "stage six make-over" she is part of the athletically unmatchable, mentally phenomenal, socially gifted (as in masters of manipulation) group of perfectly polished undercover agents ever. Along with the squad she gets sucked into some action packed espionage.
Highly accomplished YA author, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, makes a leap from paranormal into (not very) realistic fiction. Not unlike her glossy super-sleuths, she manages to make it look easy. The squad is full of such delightful, laugh-out loud, wit, it is sure to please fans of her GOLDEN series, and probably earn her a bunch of new fans as well. Hurrah!

Book review: AUDREY WAIT!

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Robin Benway
Audrey Cuttler is your typical So. Cal teenager. She scoops ice cream for cash, has an awesome best friend, and a happy home with hippie parents, and a fat cat named Bendomelena. Another thing Audrey has is a self-involved musician boyfriend, Evan, but she’s dumping him. Sure his band is good, and he has really nice oral hygiene, but with Evan, it’s all about him.
Audrey’s great love is music. Her time and energy goes to downloading songs and going to concerts. Little does she know, music is about to redefine her life. Evan has always said he’d write a song about Audrey, but he only gets around to it after they break up. And guess what? It’s not particularly flattering. To make matters worse this unflattering song is extremely catchy. Suddenly, it’s the song that’s always on the radio.
Now newspapers are calling for interviews, the paparazzi won’t leave her alone, and the Do-Gooders (Evan’s band) are getting international acclaim. She’s even getting mobbed by fans! Fans? Of course kids at her school are getting lots of mileage out of Audrey’s unique situation. How many times does she hear someone yell "Audrey Wait!" (The title of the song.) But she’ll get by with a little help from her best friend Victoria (who’s always looking for a way to capitalize on the situation, and James the super-cute, but sort of dorky, guy from her work.
AUDREY WAIT! is an awesome read! It’s fast-paced, totally fresh and original. Robin Benway has a delightful voice. I can’t wait to see what she has for us in the future.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Stephanie Hale

Aspen Brooks is back! The Dooney-toting princess/super-sleuth finds herself caught up in another mystery. After a senior year that includes slashed tires, subterfuge, and being kidnapped Aspen should be ready for anything, right? But Aspen thinks college will be a great place to chill. Harry Malone (who helped save her when she was held hostage last year) is paying her tuition. She's been accepted into the most desirable sorority on campus, and her beloved super-hottie boyfriend, Rand is living directly above her. Perfect, right?
So wrong. The Zeta sisterhood turns out to be totally twisted. Aspen didn't join the Zeta's just for the obvious social reasons. Detective Harry Malone's niece Mitzi was also a Zeta member. She went missing last semester, leaving nothing behind but a blood-soaked bed. Now it's Aspen's job to infiltrate the sisterhood and find out anything she can about Mitzi' disappearance. Now she's dealing with militant, malicious meanies, who want to control every aspect of her existence.
But Harry Malone is not the only one trying to solve the mystery. Rand's super-hot, (but rude, slimy, pervy) roommate also wants to find Mitzi. He claims they were embroiled in a top-secret love affair. Aspen is totally undercover, and facing a fair amount of danger herself. To make matters worse Rand is becoming more and more detached. He's too involved with his new fraternity's obnoxious antics. Plus he's incredibly suspicious of Aspen's involvement with his misogynistic roommate.
Now Aspen's freshman year of college has turned into a big fat Greek mess! Fans of REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING will eat up TWISTED SISTERS. Stephanie Hale re-establishes herself as YA/Chick-lit royalty with this laugh-out loud adventure, full of surprising twists (yes-pun intended), and memorable characters (and one of the grossest representations of low-carb diets ever!) Brava Stephanie! Keep 'em coming!


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Maryrose Wood
Emily Pearl has a serious love of theater. In particular she is in love with the Broadway musical AURORA. She and her best friend share an obsession for the show (who reclusive author has never been named.) Emily and Phillip take weekly excursions to see AURORA, thanks to a secret loan by Emily's grandmother Rose. The weekly ritual is the brightest spot in Emily's otherwise drab existence.
Some people (especially Emily's English teacher, Mr. Henderson) are annoyed by, or worried about, Emily's borderline obsession. Emily's neatly-packed world begins to unravel when AURORA chat sites are over-run with rumors that AURORA will soon be closing. Not only that, but Emily's warm and cozy friendship with Phillip is becoming increasingly confusing. Is she falling in love with him? Does he love her back? Does he even like girls?
MY LIFE THE MUSICAL is a tender funny story, deeply imbued with the colorful flavor of Broadway musicals. Emily and Phillip are particularly likeable characters, who you can't help rooting for. It's story about love, friendship, and life's big mysteries! It's highly-recommended read. I'd suggest pairing it with E. Lockhart's DRAMARAMA. Brava!


Poised at the Edge Book Review

Witty, feminist, YA writer E. Lockhart returns to bookstore shelves with what may be her best novel to date. The story is most original, with its own special austere humor. Its third-person narrative and unique vocabulary set a tone that sets it apart from your everyday YA novel. THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY is a story of a girl coming of age in an elitist man's world. Set in the privileged world of private boarding school.
During the summer before her sophomore year Frankie morphs from invisible to desirable. These aesthetic changes enable her admission to the fringes of Alabaster Preparatory Academy a-list society. But while she can be the arm candy of Alabaster royalty Matthew Livingston, she can't really be part of his world. His world is this generations "old boy club", complete with secret societies.
But Frankie would rather use her brain than her body to unlock the secrets of the Loyal Order Of Basset Hounds. Frankie, who won't take no for an answer devises a scheme (or really series of schemes) which put her at the head of the society that has always forbidden the presence of females. But she's playing a dangerous game.
This is a book that I devoured in a single reading session. It's so incredibly witty, with a healthy dose of girl power. E. Lockhart spins a tale that is thoroughly unpredictable, and unlike any story I've ever read. Her characters are multidimensional, interesting, and totally believable. I wish every book was this good.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Jody Gehram

Geena can't wait for summer vacation. She'll be spending her days sweltering in a drive-through coffee shop, The Triple Shot Betty. So why the excitement? She'll be working with her two favorite people, her best friend Amber, and her cousin Hero. What could be better?
But the first meeting between the privileged and austere Hero, and in your face, wild child Amber, does not go well. Geena begins to have doubts about how great summer at the Betty is really going to be. Her two favorite people cannot stand each other. The situation is further complicated by the presence of boys. Amber loves John, the boy who every boy wants to be, and every girl wants to be with. But he's already used Amber, and cast her aside. Now he has his eyes on the untouchable Hero. Hero is infatuated with Claudio. She just doesn't fall for John's universal (yet despicable) charms.
Meanwhile, skater-girl, Geena, likes to keep boys at a distance. Especially after her dad trades her mother in for a decade younger trashy bimbo. But amazingly enough, Hero and Amber end up calling a truce over trying to set Geena up with her academic rival, Ben. Things become a romantic comedy of Shakespearean proportions. But then John does something seriously evil, causing all three of the Betty girls (and several other girls in their sleepy-Sonoma town) to bond together and enact a perfect revenge!
Bravo for this witty, energetic, feminist classic in the making! This is fun, infectious read, that's great for the beach! I just loved this book!


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Mary E. Pearson

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awaked from a year long coma without a single memory in her head. Her world is curious. She's been told her name is Jenna, she's been told the woman with her is her mother; but she doesn't know what to do with this information. She doesn't know if she ever had friends, she doesn't know how to eat food. And she doesn't understand why her grandmother Lily looks at her with a combination of resentment and horror.
Time heals; the memories will come back slowly. That's what her distant doctor/father tells her. But why did her family have to relocate? Why is every part of her former life completely gone? All she has is a series of DVDs that her parents filmed of her over the years. These DVDs generate more questions than they answer. For instance; why is Jenna two inches shorter than she used to be?
Then the memories do start coming back. Jenna knows she had friends; two best friends. The scary thing is she hears their voices. They're telling her to hurry. What does it mean? Everyone around her wants to protect her, and sequester her. No one wants to give her real answers. By accident she makes a discovery about herself that begins to unravel a truth too frightening to comprehend.
Mary E. Pearson's brave new story about futuristic medical ethics is nothing short of phenomenal. It poses so many questions about the soul, and how far should people go to keep people alive. This engrossing story reads quickly, but will leave the reader thinking about it for a long, long time.
Watch the book trailer!


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Paula Yoo

The pressure is on! Seventeen -year-old Patti Yoon is driven to please her overbearing, though completely hard-working, honest Korean parents. Her job is to be a PKD (a perfect Korean daughter), attend an Ivy League school, marry a Korean doctor, and become a Korean doctor. Her parents also push her in her "hook." Ivy leaguers need a "hook' that sets them apart from all the other college applicants. Patti is an amazing violinist. She plays with great passion and a natural gift. Despite her talent, Patti's parents believe that being a musician is too risky as a career goal.
Patti is a not quite a prodigy when it comes to the violin. For the last three years she's been concertmaster at the All-State music competition. Her parents are shamed when she is demoted to "assistant concertmaster" her senior. It's just one more thing that's not "good enough." Patti's position has been usurped by a twelve-year-old prodigy, who has completely lost his love and passion for music. Seeing the boy is part of what makes Patti realize that she has to be the master of making decisions about her own life.
Patti's world opens up when she meets Cute Trumpet Guy. He's really smart and cool. Also he opens her up to music in a whole new way. Here's the problem, even though the two of them have a great relationship, built on like-mindedness and camaraderie, he only has eyes for Stephanie. She's the quintessential white Barbie doll. And she's not very nice. Life just seems really unfair.
In GOOD ENOUGH Paula Yoo uses rampant humor to illuminate the life of a (fairly) dutiful, first generation Korean American girl. While the story itself is often hilarious, many of the situations are poignant and sad. We see Patti having to watch her successful immigrant father be publicly humiliated by an ignorant racist. We see a culture of people who put tremendous pressure on themselves, and their children. It's tough to be Patti Yoon.
Although GOOD ENOUGH is thoroughly seeped in Korean culture, it's also full themes and ideas that almost anyone can relate to. Patti suffers from an unrequited love that at times obliterates every other area of her life. When she's thinking about Ben Wheeler she's not thinking about the violin, her SATs, or HARVRDYALEPRINCETON. Also Patti is so driven to please her parents that she has never really explored what it means to please herself. GOOD ENOUGH is ultimately about Patti learning that she is good enough to follow her own dreams. I loved this book!


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Maureen Johnson

Scarlett Martin leads a unique life. Just because her family owns the legendary Hopewell hotel, in the heart of New York City, doesn't mean they're rich. In fact, the summer after her freshman year, her family is in financial turmoil. While all her wealthy school friends are off for exotic summer adventures, Scarlett is working in her family's run-down, once glorious, nearly deserted hotel.
It is a family tradition that when a Martin turns fifteen, they are expected to take care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby hotel. When Scarlett inherits the Empire Suite, she also acquires the hotel's only guest, an eccentric world traveling, former "actress" Mrs. Amberson. Mrs. Amberson knows how to stir up endless drama. Suddenly Scarlett's summer, which began merely blah, is fraught with unanticipated wild adventure.
Money woes force Scarlett's older brother Spencer to almost give up his life-long dream of Broadway, until Mrs. Amberson steps in to save the day. The price, she calls all the shots. Scarlett is left breathless, answering to every one of Mrs. Amberson's (often bizarre and inexplicable) requests. But if Spencer does not get a real acting job, like NOW, his parents will make him abandon his dream, and go to culinary school.
So, without their parent's knowledge, the historic Hopewell Hotel becomes a theatre for Spencer's troupe's presentation of Hamlet. This is wonderful for Scarlett, who has fallen for Eric, a member of Spencer's troupe. Now, if only their parents don't find out.
SUITE SCARLETT is a hilarious, carefully crafted novel, full of unique characters, and endless wit. Maureen Johnson has a creative style, which makes her one of the freshest YA voices out there. This book comes highly recommended.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lisa Yee

Stanford Wong used to be sort of a geek until he proved his worth on the basketball court. Now he gets to hang out with The Roadrunners, and doesn't have to sit at the dork table with the Trekies at lunch. He's even the first sixth grader selected to be on the A-Team. Stanford plans to spend his summer at an elite basketball camp. Everything is going great until he flunks Mr. Glick's English class. Suddenly Stanford will not be going to basketball camp. He'll be going to summer school; and if he doesn't pass he won't be able to play on the A-Team.
To make matters worse, his aloof, academic-obsessed father is furious and disgusted with him. Also, Stanford can't tell the roadrunners that he has to go summer school. They really look up to him, and he doesn't want them to doubt that he's going to the A-Team next year. Plus his parent's are fighting all the time, and they're putting his beloved grandmother in a retirement home. But the icing on his crap-cake of a summer is that his parents have hired uber-nerdling Millicent Min to tutor him!
One unexpected bonus, Millicent Min's best friend Emily is a total hottie. Stanford starts crushing on her big time. She even seems to like him too, but life gets complicated. Stanford ends up lying to Emily too. You know how things go when you start telling lies: everything gets messed up, and everyone ends up mad at you. Suddenly Stanford is put positions where he can clearly see who is real friends are. And the results are truly surprising. That summer after sixth grade Stanford learns a lot about his father, his grandmother, and most of all himself.
This middle grade story is full of so much humor, and lots of other strong, unexpected emotions. Lisa Yee, the recipient of the of the prestigious Sid Fleischman humor award, is quite the girl genius!


Poised at the Edge Book Review.
The Debutante
By Kathryn Williams

In The Debutante, Annie finds herself living her worst nightmare. Right before her senior year Annie's family moves from Connecticut to Beaufort, Alabama. The fact that her boyfriend dumped her right before the move did not improve the situation. Life in Beaufort promised to be a special version of hell, filled with her overbearing Gram, "the club" filled with judgmental old biddies, a dress code, and criticism. Just when Annie thought that was more than she could take, the cherry on the proverbial cake was the invitation to be a debutant, which was shoved down her throat. If she dared refuse, her college funds held by Gram would be withheld.
Reluctantly, Annie entered a foreign world of blond cheerleaders with southern drawls and two names. Her only consolation was that there was actually a field hockey team, her passion in her past life. Annie clings to her Connecticut connections, particularly her best friend Jaime. When it seems like Annie could not feel any more alone, she suffers the worst betrayal of all – Jaime hooking up with her ex-boyfriend.
Slowly Annie finds her way; discovering that not everyone was a backward redneck. She makes friends with the pretty "Marys" (Mary Price and Mary Katherine) and finds other friends, especially cute Robert. Her new friends are actually normal teenagers, but with a southern twist.
The Debutante is a page turner with honest expressions of true teen angst and self deprecation. The special and complicated friendships that form with their twists and turns during the teen years are played out in this southern teen novel. Annie grows and changes, learning new appreciation for family and embracing change.

Book Review: HOW TO BE BAD

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lockhart, Mlynowski & Myracle
Seventeen days after her mother finds a malignant lump, Jesse (who used to be fun) embarks on a road trip with her best friend, Vicks, and Mel (the rich new girl in town.) Even though they're best friends Vicks and Jesse are polar opposites. Vicks is a spirited badass who usually errors to the side of naughty. Jesse is a trailer dwelling, bible-thumping, good girl, who never takes the Lord's name in vain. They work with Mel at a greasy-spoon waffle house (Vicks and Jess have no idea why she works there; her family is loaded.) Mel is one of those super prim girly-girls, who wear four hundred dollar jeans. The only reason they let Mel join them on their adventure is because she's financing the whole thing on her mummy's credit card.
The girls are headed to Miami, to take Vicks to see her boyfriend who left for college two weeks before. On the way they will meet, not one, but two alligators. They will fight against each other, and for each other. They will drink too many beers and wine coolers. They will drive through hurricanes, and sleep in the Black Pearl Suite. They will meet a boy who's an angel, and a boy who sucks! They'll face the very best, and the very worst aspects of each other, and themselves. Jesse, Mel, and Vicks will bond in a way that will connect them for a lifetime.
This experimental novel, written by the righteous babe trio: E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle, is beyond fabulous! It's a delightful road romp, full of laughter, adventure, and heart-felt growth. I loved, loved, loved it.

Book Review: TANTALIZE

Poised at the Edge book Review
Are You Predator Or Prey?
Hungry horror fans will be fully satisfied with Cynthia Leitich Smith's darkly delicious debut YA novel, Tantalize. It's a fine combination of edge of your seat suspense, mixed with sensuously atmospheric romance.
Tantalize tells the story of Quincie Morris, whose life is fraught with loss. Her parents are dead. Now her best friend, who happens to be the love of her life, is leaving too, and under the worst of circumstances.
All Quincie really has is Sanguini's, the restaurant she inherited from her mother. She and her uncle have decided to have the first and only vampire- themed, fine dining in Austin, Texas.
A confusing chain of event begins when Sanguini's head chef is mysteriously murdered in the restaurant kitchen. Quincie is left having no idea who she can trust in a world peopled with shape shifters, vampires, and friends who aren't what they seem.
Fans of Twilight, Great and Terrible Beauty, and Blood and Chocolate will rejoice in this gothic fantasy masterpiece, that will keep them guessing until the end. With gorgeous cover art, well-researched plot, and a unique splash of wit, Tantalize is a keeper.

Book Review: SKIN DEEP

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Daphne Grab

Matisse Osgood, an urban sophisticate, feels like she's dying a slow and painful death when she is uprooted from Manhattan, and forced to move to rural nowhere Prague, New York. The only thing worse than living Hicksville is the reason that they moved there. Matisse's beloved, artist father is stricken with Parkinson's disease. He is no longer able to create the amazing sculptures that made him famous. In fact, eating a meal, or dressing himself has become a major challenge.
No one in Matisse's family knows how to handle the drastic and truly life-changing situation they are thrown in to. Matisse's mother tries to respond with false cheer, acting as if everything is just fine (when it REALLY isn't.) But her depression is evident in the fact that she hasn't done a painting in months. Matisse's father is withdrawn and impenetrable. He feels like a shadow of his former robust self to Matisse.
Matisse had dumped her life-long best friend, justifying it by finding reasons to shift the blame. Now she's alone in a small town where she can't indulge in indie films, art openings or fine dining. In fact, Prague's idea of a good time is pep rallies and hayrides (no really, hayrides!) How will she ever survive?
Matisse and her father become the subject of some malicious gossip, generated by the most popular girl at Matisse's new high-school. In the midst of all the turmoil Matisse discovers there are a few other kids there that she can actually count, and finally begin to like. There's even one particular farm boy who enlightens Matisse to some of the finer aspects of small town living.
Debut author Daphne Grab writes a stunning first novel, full of heart, forgiveness, and the human experience. Besides being entertaining, this book speaks to families that are suffering from serious illness. The characters are believable and intriguing. All and all, it's one terrific read.

Book Review: SKIN DEEP

Poised at the Edge Book Review
E.M. Crane

Andrea Anderson feels perfectly average. At least she's one step ahead of the ugly kids, the fat kids, the kids with terrible skin. Andrea sees her high school as a stage and she's sitting in the audience. She's not one of the desirable players nor is she an unfortunate kid who has to hide in the shadows. She's a professional spectator. In her bossy working-class mother's home she is almost invisible.
Then the script gets flipped, and some surprising things happen. Andrea's homeroom teacher commits suicide. And that's just the beginning. Andrea gets a job working for her reclusive neighbor who is ill. Andrea's job description is simple enough: Honora Menapace's garden must be tended, her pottery finished, and her giant dog Zena fed. But what starts out as a simple job turns in to so much more. Andrea finds herself growing very attached to the mysterious free-spirit Honora.
Her life is suddenly totally unpredictable. Nothing is what it seems. Light is dark, villains are heroes, and what she what thought was ugly turns out to be too beautiful words. Her life becomes a lesson that what seems one way at first glance doesn't even crack the surface.
The story is unique and intelligent, with incredible depth. E.M. Crane's debut novel won the coveted 2006 Delacorte Press Contest for First Young Adult Novels. This is a quiet book with many layers. It's one of those books that will invade your head, and stay there for a long time.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Jennifer Ziegler
Sometimes hippie parents blow! Not only did Maggie Dempsy's parents name her Sugar Magnolia, but they have a cruel and unusual habit of moving her from place to place, yanking her away from every school and every friend that she ever has a chance to get used to. When she was younger she was pretty much okay with the arrangement. But as she got older it felt worse and worse to abandon everything she comes to care about.
The final straw is when Maggie is forced to move after her sophomore year. Not only is she leaving behind great friends, she's also leaving behind her first real boyfriend, who she spent the last six months falling in love with. Not only does she feel isolated and lonely, but her ex has no issue with moving on. Maggie's furious at her parents. In desperation she devises a plan to not get ripped away from another life she loves.
It's always been easy for Maggie to assimilate into the "popular" crowd. But now that she's moved to Austin, she has a totally different strategy. She does not want to make friends. She does not want to fit in. She most definitely does not want to get another boyfriend….just to get it all taken away again.
So instead of trying to wear cute clothes and lip gloss she dons muumuus and swim caps. She wears mechanics jumpsuits and carries Star Trek lunchboxes. She even takes her crazy, touchy-feely, hippie parents to school, where her mother gives an unnecessarily graphic description of kegel exercises in the school cafeteria (if you don't laugh when you read this, you have NO sense of humor!) Maggie will do anything to keep everyone at a distance. But of course the best laid plans never turn out quite how you want them to.
HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR is consistently hilarious, and that's a really good thing! It's funny, refreshing, and quite simply, a delightful read.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Alyson Noel

This is the year that things are happening for Colby Cavendish. She's been hanging out with Amanda Harmon, the most popular girl at Harbor High School. Too bad she had to discard Natalie, her best friend since forever. Colby can't wait to start her first summer sans dorkdom, when her parents drop a bomb! They're getting a divorce. Now they are selling her childhood home, and sending her to Greece for the summer to live with her "crazy" aunt Tally. All the begging and pleading in the world will do no good.
Colby's hopes are dashed. And to think, she'd just hooked up with Levi Bonham, the hottie she'd been pining for since sixth grade. To make matters worse, Amanda has what is basically the equivalent of social A.D.D. Colby's role is bound to be usurped by some desperate wannabe. This is a fate worse than death.
So, completely against her own will, finds herself on the tiny and remote island of Tinos. Deprived of shopping malls, friends, and a life in general, Colby finds an internet café where she blogs about her (BORING!) experience in Greece. Much to her disappointment, Amanda isn't much of a correspondent. In fact, she seems to have forgotten about Colby all together.
Aunt Tally, a Bohemian free-spirit, doesn't turn out to be so crazy after all. But the real highlight of the summer is meeting Yannis, a local boy, who opens her eyes to a whole different world. Suddenly the social games with Amanda (and Levi) seem less important. Colby experiences something much deeper and intense than a summer fling. It forces her to look at herself, and the life she left behind in a whole different way.
Alyson Noel is an adept story teller who captures the emotions of the teen years in a way that is both realistic and moving. CRUEL SUMMER is fun summer read, perfect for the beach or travel.
Poised at the Edge Book Review
First Daughter – White House Rules
By Mitali Perkins
Sameera is your ordinary teenager, with a popular blog, who happens to be the daughter of the newest President of the United States. Life in the White House has its own special sets of rules, "Protocol", if you will. As Sameera and her cousin Miranda (Ran) settle in, they develop a funny language for some of the crazy aspects of White House life, filled with cougars (Secret Service), Pandas (chefs), and Rhinos (paparazzi), and many others. The protocol even includes waltzing lessons.
While Sameera tries to adjust to White House life, one thing she can't adjust to is the Bobby, a friend who she really wants to be more than a friend, is suddenly AWOL after her father was elected.
Sameera's journey to establish some normalcy as the First Daughter is humorous and entertaining. I enjoyed the book's vantage point, where Sameera (whose nickname is Sparrow) is adopted and Pakistani by birth. One of the most interesting issues that this book tackles is the racial divide between the Muslim from Pakistan and the Hindus from India, which doesn't make sense to teenagers who grew up in the United States, but still stays relevant to the older generations of both cultures.
Mitali Perkins writes a readable and engaging book that teenagers will easily read and relate to. Sameera keeps it real and works through some of her issues through her popular Sparrowblog, including letting the public in on some of the bizarre issues that come along with life in the White House. Her friendship with her cousin Ran is also an aspect of the book that everyone can relate to, which made the reader think about how important special relationships are for every walk of life.


Poised at the Edge Book
Review Midnight Twins
By Jaquelyn Mitchard

TwinsTwins with a gift passed down to twinsTwins who dream the same dreams, until everything changes on their 13th birthdayMerry and Mally are identical on the outside but totally different on the inside. Merry is always the optimist and loves to socialize and wear makeup – Mally is reserved, a computer wiz who questions the status quo. Yet Merry and Mally are incomplete without each other and have know it since they were infants. They can hear each other's thoughts without talking and always have the same dreams, that is, until their 13th birthday when they are almost killed in a mysterious fire.After the fire the twins mysterious gift begins to surface in their dreams, which are like a puzzle. Their grandmother, Gwenny has known their whole lives that the day would come where their special abilities would inject themselves into the girl's lives, altering them forever. You see, Gwenny was a twin herself, something that Merry and Mally have never known because Grandma Gwenny lost her twin when she was very young. She knew the gift that the twins in her family had for generations.In the Midnight Twins, Jaquelyn Mitchard takes you on an amazing ride with this page turner. The little understood world of twins, together with a special sight that is passed through the generations, adds to the intrigue and suspense of the Midnight Twins. You won't want to put this book down, it is a must read.
Poised at the Edge Book Review
Carrie Jones
Belle of TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND is back, exploring the ins and outs of young love. Here's the problem, she's not getting any! Her best friend Em can't keep her hands off Shawn. Even her widowed mother has a great new boyfriend who makes her giggle like a teenager. Dylan (her gay ex.) seems to be getting along great with his significant other. But in spite of the fact that Belle has a super-cute, super-nice new boyfriend, there just isn't much happening. No "I love yous" and no doing "it."
Belle has a really hard time trusting life, and trusting people. Her ex-boyfriend of two years's confession that he's really gay left her feeling unsure of her own lovability. Also, she feels empty and abandoned by her father, who died in the first Iraq war. Now Tom, her new boyfriend, feels like he's holding back and moving too slow. Belle really only trusts her guitar and her music. She likes to make order out of the chaos of her life by making lists.
When Belle's best friend Em finds herself in a serious life-altering crisis, Belle is forced to evaluate her whole purpose in life. It's her number one job to be a protective steadfast friend. Maybe her "problems" are really not that significant after all. Maybe she really has been too self-involved. Now is the time to let go of all her hang-ups, and really trust herself. By being true to herself she is able to be a better friend, a better girlfriend, and a better daughter.
LOVE (AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE) is just as beautifully introspective as Carrie Jones's first book. Carrie Jones is an outstanding writer, who tells quiet stories full of heart and eloquence. Her characters are well-developed, and thought out. Her writing is poetic, yet never flowery. I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

Book Review: Cindy Ella

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Cindy Ella
By Robin Palmer

Cindy Ella Gold is a non-conformist. She routinely writes letters to the editor of the Courier, the Castle Heights High School news paper, which are systematically ignored….. until she writes a letter disparaging the prom and all it stands for. When her letter is printed, Cindy goes immediately from being invisible to being the school leper. The outrage at her opinion doesn't stop on campus; her stepsisters, the Clones, and her stepmother Clarissa are affronted and humiliated by her letter.

As the prom approaches, Cindy Ella's only allies defect and accept invitations to the prom. While the Clones and Clarissa and in a feverish pre-prom shopping frenzy, and Cindy is tormented with the teen angst of unrequited love, Cindy Ella is also developing a friendship on-line with someone who thinks that she is awesome exactly the way that she is.

Cindy Ella is a book about being yourself, with only hints of Cinderella, where dreams really do come true. It is funny and embarrassing, with those humiliating high school moments that only the lucky escaped. It is a story about a girl with character and great best friends. I recommend you pick up Robin Palmer's book and eat it up like candy

Book Review: WOULD YOU

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Marthe Jocelyn

Natalie and Claire are having a good summer. Natalie is working at the Y and hanging with her friends. Claire is spending her last glorious summer before going off to college. Nat and her friends are sneaking into neighborhood pools, while Claire is trying to figure out a way to ditch her high School boyfriend. But what begins as a typical summer of mischief ends in a life changing accident, leaving Claire comatose, and Natalie wondering what next?
Grief and desperation drive Natalie's family to walk a precarious line between survival and insanity. Natalie now sits with her big sister (kept alive by a ventilator) barely recognizing her. Gone is beautiful, vibrant, animated Claire. Now Natalie's soul-mate and greatest confidant is bloated, bald, with an enormous scar on her head. The biggest blow comes when tests determine that Claire is entirely brain-dead.
Now Natalie's family is forced to deal with the most painful decision of their life. WOULD YOU is a serious story, with many bitter-sweet funny moments. Natalie leans on her group of funny irreverent friends to help pull her through a situation too big and awful for anyone to handle. The story is smartly written, and moves at a fast pace. Be prepared to cry.

Book Review: BLISS

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Lauren Myracle
Bliss spent her early childhood on a commune. But when her hippie parents head north to avoid being drafted to go to Vietnam, Bliss is left behind with the cold and aloof grandma she never knew. Bliss, who mainly slept in a tent, is now sleeping in a luxurious southern mansion. Now she will be attending the elite private school Crestview Academy. As if learning to navigate through the murky waters of affluent teen social politics wasn't enough, Bliss is hearing a strange voice in Hamilton Hall the oldest building in the school.
Much to Bliss's surprise she finds that likes the amenities of her grandmother's world. She likes her soft bed, her lavender soap, and even watching lots of television. Of course the biggest news story in the summer of 1969 is the brutal Manson murders in California. In fact everyone is talking about it as the school year begins at Crestview. Crestview has always been a bit of morbid place. In fact it has its own history of suicide, torture, and dark occult activities.
As Bliss begins the awkward process of making friends she continues to hear the creepy voice as it speaks to her of blood, revenge and ritual. She's also torn between her new social group (a crew of somewhat bland, yet totally socially acceptable girls) and the school misfit, who she believes to be a misunderstood Good Samaritan. Her regular friends are alarmed when Bliss aligns herself with Sandy, even though no one in the school can stand her. Even Bliss begins to doubt herself when Sandy becomes irrationally clingy, while exhibiting some very antisocial and even frightening behaviors.
Sandy introduces Bliss to an elderly lady named Agnes, who reveals part of Crestview's dark history to Bliss. The voice that Bliss has been hearing belongs to the ghost of Lilianna, a girl with dark powers, who commit suicide there many years before. Now more than ever Bliss knows that she has reason to fear the "blood voice" that speaks to her whenever she nears the oldest building in the school. The disembodied voice that terrorizes Bliss becomes increasingly insistent that Bliss must bring her "the key." It also tells her that she is going to be part of ritual ceremony that will help the Lilianna come back to life, while occupying the body of a vessel.
Now Bliss finds herself caught up in a horrifying supernatural situation from which there is no easy escape! The fast paced tension, mixed with dark, unique story telling make BLISS one of the most exciting pieces of YA horror that I've read in a very long time. The story is rich with humor and satisfying detail. The 1960's setting and the pervasive Manson motif adds to its flavor and originality. BLISS is seriously spine-chilling scary. I must say that some of the Pagan ritualistic detail is not for the weak of heart (or stomach.)
I think Lauren Myracle has raised the bar on YA horror with BLISS. I absolutely loved it, and think it will have wide appeal with the 14 and up crowd. Brava!

Book Review: IDENTICAL

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Ellen Hopkins

On the surface they seem like a perfect family. Sixteen-year-old Raeanne and Kaeleigh are identical twins, mirror images of each other. Their father is a highly respected district court judge, their mother, a high-profile politician. The girls are carefully watched over by their possessive intense father. He tells them what to eat, what wear, who they can hang around with. In the Gardella family image is everything. All that exterior polish is hiding a truly filthy secret. When the girls were young the Gardella family was involved in a serious car accident. Daddy was driving (perhaps under the influence) and Mommy was injured (with a slow and painful recovery.) After the accident their mother and father drifted apart. Their father buried himself in a grave of alcohol and oxycontin. Their mother hid inside her career. But their father came to nine-year-old Kaeleigh in the night, begging for the kind of love a father should never take from a daughter. Meanwhile Raeanne watched, jealous that he didn't choose her. She didn't understand that what he was doing was evil. It completely distorts her vision of what real love is. Raeanne finds her escape in drugs and inappropriate men who use and abuse her. Kaeleigh internalizes her role as a surrogate lover for her father with rampant self abuse. She's into purging and cutting. Both girls feel completely incapable of giving or receiving any healthy normal form of love. Ellen Hopkins is no stranger to tackling difficult issues with grace and gritty realism. The unexpected and somewhat terrifying twist of IDENTICAL make it, perhaps, her best book yet. Ellen's legions of loyal fans are sure to rejoice in this latest triumphant novel in verse. IDENTICAL can be found in bookstores tomorrow.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Deb Caletti

Life is pretty wonderful for Indigo Skye. She's an eighteen year-old waitress whose plans for college are firmly planted on the back burner. She loves her job at Carrera's café, with all the crazy regulars who share their life stories. Indigo could not be more content with her super-cute, menial laboring, long-term boyfriend. Her home life is perfectly happy: weird, but happy. Indigo does miss her father, who ran away to start a new life in Hawaii. She lives with her twin brother Severin, her younger sister Bex, and her absentminded mother. They have an obnoxious parrot named Chico, and a slightly evil cat named Freud.Indigo is a philosophical girl. She loves access her customer's psyche by what they order for breakfast. For instance one her regular customers (or irregulars as she fondly calls them) always orders oatmeal with raisins for breakfast. The most unique thing about this oatmeal eater is that he's been judged guilty of murder in the court of public opinion. A couple years prior his wife died falling down a flight of stairs. While the courts exonerated Nick Harrison of any wrong doing, people still stare and whisper. But Indigo knows better. Nick is a very gentle kind man. Besides, Indigo believes a man capable would be more likely to order something strong meaty, "fried eggs, bacon, sausage."Indigo's life changes forever when "Vespa Man" come to Carrera's for coffee. He's a stylish, mysterious, and has a faraway look in his eyes. The irregulars are buzzing with curiosity about this enigmatic character who has come in a couple times for coffee. Indigo, being Indigo, strikes up a random conversation about the meaning of life with him. This conversation is a huge turning point in the story. Unbeknownst to Indigo "Vespa Man" is very wealthy, but feels trapped in by the tyranny of his job. The conversation encourages him to ditch the life he's living, and run away to Maui.As a token of his appreciation he leaves Indigo an envelope containing two and a half million dollars. Now I know many of you readers are probably thinking okay, here's another cliché story about a waitress being given a giant tip. Never fear, this is Deb Caletti. She's such an original and intelligent author. THE FORTUNES OF INDIGO SKYE is not exactly plot-driven. It's the wildly imaginative characters, beautifully crafted dialogue, and unique voice that make this story sing. Deb Caletti does not disappoint.


Poised at the Edge Book Review.
Kelly Para

Kara Martinez has an enormous secret. She can't tell anyone, not even her best friend Danielle (who seems to have some secrets herself.) Kara has been chasing "normal" since she was in a serious accident eleven years before. Since her beloved father died Kara's hard working, but domineering mother tries to eliminate the caliente side of her Mexican heritage. Also, since their dad died, her brother Jason has drifted further and further away.
After the boating accident that killed her father Kara was officially dead for eleven minutes. When she awoke she had a new and strange gift. She sees signs, visions that are clues to a person's fate, if she can put together the pieces of the puzzle fast enough. She is sometimes able to use the signs to help avert disasters. Even though she can do good, sometimes this special ability makes her feel like a freak. Why can't she just be a normal girl?
Because she has no one to confide in, Kara creates an anonymous blog called SECRET FATES: the sign seer's blog, where she spills her guts about her strange and alienating ability. It's exciting for her to hear people's responses to her extraordinary situation. Suddenly she feels less alone.
The stakes of the game become much higher when she sees the sign of a gun appear on a classmate from Valdez High. Now as she investigates the clues she finds herself falling for a mysterious, possibly dangerous stranger, who appears to be a central part of the puzzle. But while she's drawn to Anthony everyone else seems to have a problem with him. Her mother calls him a gang banger, and her brother wants to fight him. Also, the signs and clues seem to be encompassing more people. Kara can't seem to put all the pieces together.
Kara also finds anonymous notes in her locker from a SECRET FATES reader who knows her true identity. At the same time Kara's mom is concerned about Kara's mental state that she wants to have her institutionalized again. There also seems to be something wrong with her best friend, Danielle. Life is pure chaos. And time is moving quickly, if Kara doesn't solve the latest puzzle someone might end up dead.
Author Kelly Para still writes rich, believable characters that are immersed in Latin culture, but this time she enters a whole new realm of storytelling. INVISIBLE TOUCH is a gripping paranormal tale, with fast paced suspense, and a satisfying conclusion. Readers will delight in the suspense, romance, and insights of this dynamic story!

Book Review LET IT SNOW

Poised at the Edge Book Review
The YA Dream Team
John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

LET IT SNOW tells three separate yet interconnected tales of a Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic winter wonderland (well sort of.) Each of these three phenomenally talented writers brings their own special flair for wit and language to the party. The common theme that threads throughout is love, love, love.
Maureen Johnson's JUBILEE EXPRESS tells the story of a girl who thought she had the perfect boyfriend, and wanted to have the perfect Christmas. But of course everything gets completely thrown off kilter. Instead of attending her beau's extravagant Christmas gala, Jubilee finds herself heading off on a train to Florida to spend Christmas with her grandparents. Meanwhile her parents are languishing in a jail cell for being participants in an altercation involving Flobie Village (limited edition, miniature Christmas decorations) items that makes national news.
The only thing that could make this Christmas Eve worse is that Jubilee's train has a gaggle of gregarious cheerleaders on it. But a snowstorm causes her train to be stuck in a place called Gracetown. Jubilee makes her way across the frozen highway to a remote Waffle House, where she accidently meets someone who might be the love of her life.
John Green's CHEERTASTIC CHRISTMAS MIRACLE takes us into the same waffle house, with (Lord help us all) the same gaggle of obnoxious cheerleaders. Fortunately they are not the main characters. The real stars of the story are Tobin and The Duke. Tobin, JP, and The Duke are at home having a James Bond Film-Fest when they receive an urgent phone call from their eccentric friend Kuen, who works up at the Waffle House. He wants JP and Tobin (The Duke is a girl) to come to the Waffle House quickly, bearing a game of Twister. He's got a group of uber-hot, snowed in, cheerleaders to entertain.
So the three of them set out in blizzard conditions on a strange and tumultuous journey to bring Twister to some cheerleaders. But they are not the only ones on this quest. They find themselves being accosted by sociopathic brothers who are on the same mission. They trudge through miles of snow, because their car breaks down. Finally Tobin and The Duke find true love, that was right in front of them all along.
Lauren Myracle's PATRON SAINT OF PIGS tells Addie's story. Addie, a Starbuck's barista, who has just gone through a regrettable break-up with her beloved (yet stoic) boyfriend Jeb (who readers first met on Jubilee's train.) Addie had a weak moment where she was unfaithful to him because she felt insecure. Even her two best friends keep telling her that she has an ugly habit of making things all about herself. Addie is determined to prove them wrong. So she decides to leave her crack of dawn shift at Starbucks, to pick-up a tea-cup sized pig for her pig lovin' best friend.
Of course everything that can go wrong does. Addie gets stuck on a monster quest to find the little pig that Pet World was supposed to be holding for her friend Teagan. Unfortunately the pig was snagged by an old lady, who might be crazy or might be a Christmas angel (sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.) Don't be too worried; happy endings are had by all.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Stephanie Kuehnert
Emily Black was only four months old when her wild and willful mother Louisa abandoned her to pursue the world of punk rock. All her life Emily has been raised on music (and the fantasy Louisa will one day return to her and her heartbroken father.) Her father Michael has raised in her in a rock and roll tradition that would have made Louisa proud. Michael passes his on his love of punk rock and blues. He teaches Emily to play the guitar from a very young age.
When Emily enters adolescence she and her best friend Regan (who happens to be the daughter of Louisa's best friend Molly) begin hanging out at The River's Edge, the club where Michael and Louisa first fell in love. The girls love to mosh to the best punk rock the small town of Carlisle has to offer. They also love to hook up with all the burgeoning rock gods. Thus begins Emily Black's groupie stage.
But being a groupie is not nearly enough for the girl with Louisa's wild blood pumping through her veins. Emily and Regan begin their own band She Laughs and rock their way right out of Carlisle. All throughout her childhood Emily has put on a rough façade, claiming she doesn't need the mother who was never there for her. Her lyrics tell a different story. Emily has a lot of anger and pain. Eventually it gets the better of her. Just as her band is reaching great heights of success Emily takes off on an odyssey to find her mother (who has spent years purposely not being found.)
I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE is a raw and gritty novel of tremendous unexpected depth. I picked up thinking it was going to be a fun, girl-power, rock and roll story, which it is. But it was so much more than I anticipated. The story, which chronicles the life of Emily (in first person) and Louisa (in third person) goes into very dark places. Both Louisa and Emily experience the horror of violence and sexual assault. This brutality is at the root of why Louisa abandons both the baby and the husband she loves.
Stephanie Kuehnert writes complex characters with complicated believable relationships. The tenderness we see between Emily and her vulnerable father, and the deeply rooted friendship we see between Emily and Regan, feel authentic and precious. This is about as good as a debut novel gets.

Book Review IN YOUR ROOM

Poised at the Edge Book Review
Jordanna Fraiberg

Molly Hill is overwhelmed when her mother decides to marry the boyfriend she's only known six months. She knows it's selfish to complain, after all, her father has been dead for nearly eleven years. Her mother deserves a little happiness, right? Still Molly is uncomfortable, and on some levels resentful of her new stepfather's presence.
Things get even stranger when Molly's mother and her new husband Ron invite Molly along on their honeymoon. If that's not weird enough their honeymoon is not really a honeymoon at all. They are doing a house swap with one of Ron's colleagues and will be spending their entire in summer in Colorado. This does not appeal to the Los Angeles dwelling, budding designer, total fashionista, Molly Hill.
Molly finds herself spending the summer in the bedroom of mountain bike shredding, granola munching, girl-magnet Charlie Richards. On paper they're not an obvious match. But through a series of e-mails and instant messages the two begin to connect in a unique and honest way. They also find themselves becoming inadvertently intertwined in each other's lives. Molly ends up working at used clothing store with Charlie's bitter ex, while Charlie hangs out with Molly's close friend Celeste (who visits Molly's closet on a regular basis to borrow clothes.)
Matters get complicated when Celeste (who knows nothing about the burgeoning virtual romance between Charlie and Molly) comes on really strong to Charlie. Even though Charlie has developed an undeniable attachment to Molly, he can't help but be tempted by the beautiful, but woefully insecure, Celeste. This unfortunate event almost destroys the love connection between Molly and Charlie. But this perfect summer romance manages to finish off with a happy ending.
IN YOUR ROOM is a sweet, well written summer romance. Jordanna Fraiberg writes characters who are likeable, believable, and painfully human. This engaging love story is just a lot of fun to read.


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Laurie Faria Stolarz

Sometimes it’s hard to tell who you can trust. Up until three months ago Camelia’s life had been both comfortable, and fairly predictable. Her parents are caring (even if her mom is a bit over the top with her wingnut-vegan ways) her grades are just fine, and she has an awesome part time job at an art studio. She’s got interesting (albeit borderline obnoxious) close friends; life is pretty smooth sailing. Then suddenly everything changes.
Camelia is nearly run over when a girl at her school loses control of her vehicle. A mysterious stranger pushes her out of the way just in time. She’s very intrigued by him, but doesn’t see him again for three months. Then he reappears in her life on the first day of her junior year. Ben Carter’s matriculation in Camelia’s high school is fraught with gossip and drama. Rumor has it that Ben is responsible for the death of his former girlfriend. The kids at school (and Camelia’s best friends Kimmie and Wes) are absolutely buzzing.
Camelia finds herself irresistibly drawn to Ben. He in turn has a very strange habit of touching her. But right around the time Ben resurfaces; Camelia begins getting harassing phone calls, mysterious gifts, and warning that someone is always watching her. Could it be the beautiful stranger who saved her life, or someone whom she’d least expect?.
DEADLY LITTLE SECRET is a gripping page turner that keeps readers guessing up till the very end. Veteran paranormal romance writer Laurie Faria Stolarz delivers another faced-paced fantasy, whose characters are unique, believable, and all together entertaining. Ms. Stolarz is an expert at writing humorous teen dialogue. She just seems to keep getting better and better at what she does.
The good news is that DEADLY LITTLE SECRET is the first book of series. It will be in stores December 16th, or you can preorder it at: AmazonBordersBarnes & Nobles....
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