Monthly Archives: April 2012

Book Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

“For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet & her Romeo” … until now, that is. Because the tale of Romeo & Rosaline is full of far more woe — as proven by When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, a modernized re-imagining of Romeo & Juliet told from the perspective of Rosaline, the girl Romeo dumped when he met Juliet.

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.    

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy … and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends …

I was never a huge fan of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, mostly because I just couldn’t buy into the whole fatal romance bit. It didn’t help that Romeo & Juliet were basically still kids, and they hardly knew each other. I just didn’t believe it. Their actions were so melodramatic, that I couldn’t be saddened by the tragedy of their deaths. I just thought their actions were stupid and immature!

But with When You Were Mine, Serle gives a modern twist to the doomed romance and offers a refreshing perspective on the story that is far more intriguing. Perspective really is everything, and Serle proves that in aces and spades by telling her version of Romeo & Juliet from Rosaline’s side. Things are going well for Rosaline as she starts her senior year of high school, especially when sparks start flying with her childhood BFF Rob. But just as it seems their romance is finally getting started, her estranged cousin Juliet moves back into town and Rob falls head over heels. Then there’s some hush-hush drama going on between her family, Rob’s family, and Juliet’s family — and nobody seems willing to tell Rose what’s really going on.

But Rose is also determined not to sit around and mope about her lost love. She’s going to get on with her life. And things start to brighten when she strikes up an unlikely friendship with her school’s social outcast Len. Except her past with Rob is never far in the shadows, and her inability to let go could cost her.

Serle brilliantly weaves a modern tale based on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved stories. At times, her characters — living comfortable lives in a wealthy community of southern California — can seem a bit one dimensional and privileged. But for the most part, they’re just teens dealing with issues any teen can relate to: relationships, family drama, grades, college, the Big Undefined Future. Serle shows us why Shakespeare’s work is still so revered today: because his stories are universal.

But maybe she shows the Bard up just a little bit, too, because I found her perspective on the Romeo & Juliet tale far more compelling. Seeing Rosaline’s side of the story, and how she deals with every new twist and the fallout of each choice, is what makes When You Were Mine so compelling.

When You Were Mine is in stores tomorrow.

The Best of Black Heart by Holly Black

Today is the last day of April, and therefore it’s the last day in our April Book of the Month feature on Black Heart and the Curse Workers series by Holly Black. As we wrap up another month of fun times, we take a look back at the highlights from our posts!

Curse Workers Writing Contest

You’ve got until midnight (PT) tonight to submit your entry in our Curse Workers Writing Contest. Be sure to check out complete rules & details before entering! We’ve got some books up for grabs for the winners.

Interviews Galore!

We recapped last year’s interview with Holly Black about Red Glove, plus chatted with her more this year and finally shared our video Q&A with Holly and her BFF Cassandra Clare!

Curse Workers in the Classroom

Cover Crazy

The Curse Workers series got a makeover this year, so we chatted with the designers behind the new look & crafted some desktop wallpapers to match!

For the comments: What was your favorite part of the last month’s features?


Insurgent by Veronica Roth Faction Focus: Candor

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware that Insurgent by Veronica Roth hits stores on Tuesday. And as part of the book’s release, we’ve been taking part in Harper Teen’s #DivergentNation promotion. In fact, we’re part of Team Candor … and since today’s featured faction on Harper’s websites is Candor, we decided to share one of our Candor wallpapers.

Be sure to check out for lots more great goodies, too!

See more here!

Another “peculiar” week before Riordan’s latest hits shelves

Once again, Ransom Riggs makes a peculiar play for the top spot with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but with a new Rick Riordan book coming out this week–The Serpent’s Shadow–you can bet it’ll steal away the spotlight, possibly giving Riordan three titles in the top ten!

This Week Children’s Chapter Books Weeks on List
1 MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, by Ransom Riggs. (Quirk Books, $17.99.) An island, an abandoned orphanage and a collection of curious photographs. (Ages 12 and up) 46
2 CHOMP, by Carl Hiaasen. (Knopf, $16.99.) Life gets wilder for a boy when his dad, an animal wrangler, takes a job with a reality-TV show. (Ages 10 to 14) 4
3 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, by John Green. (Dutton, $17.99.) A 16-year-old heroine faces the medical realities of cancer. (Ages 14 and up) 15
4 NANCY CLANCY, SUPER SLEUTH, by Jane O’Connor. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. (Harper/HarperCollins, $9.99.) Crime in the classroom? Nancy’s on the case. (Ages 7 to 10) 3
5 THE SON OF NEPTUNE, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $19.99.) The cast of characters expands; Book 2 of the Heroes of Olympus. (Ages 9 to 12) 29
6 THE LEGO IDEAS BOOK, by Daniel Lipkowitz. (DK, $24.99.) Projects with plastic bricks. (Ages 7 and up) 24
7 THE FAME GAME, by Lauren Conrad. (Harper/HarperCollins, $18.99.) Madison Parker has her own show; now she has to watch her back. (Ages 14 to 17) 3
8 THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, by Brian Selznick. (Scholastic, $22.99.) An orphan thief must decipher his father’s last message. (Ages 9 to 12) 110
9 WONDER, by R. J. Palacio. (Knopf, $15.99.) A boy with a facial deformity enters the fifth grade at a mainstream school. (Ages 8 to 12) 5
10 THE THRONE OF FIRE, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) The Kanes seek the sun god, Ra; Book 2 of the Kane Chronicles. (Ages 10 and up) 31

Prom Week: The Rest of Our Favorite Prom-Centric Reads

All this week, we’ve been featuring some great prom-centric books thanks to our Prom Week inspired by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Be sure to like HMH on Facebook & follow them on Twitter for more great Prom-themed contests & features!)

Today, we’re collecting some of our other favorite prom books & we invite you to share even more prom favorites in the comments below!

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

From the much-buzzed-about author of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (already blurbed by Stephenie Meyer, Lauren Myracle, and Jen Calonita), a prom-season delight of Jane Austen proportions.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be – especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk – so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Ditched by Robin Mellom

High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.
And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together – stain by stain on her thrift-store dress – exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag’s moving car…

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

High school senior Ashley Hannigan doesn’t care about prom, but she’s the exception. It’s pretty much the only good thing at her urban Philadelphia high school, and everyone plans to make the most of it-especially Ash’s best friend, Natalia, who’s the head of the committee. Then the faculty advisor is busted for taking the prom money, and Ash suddenly finds herself roped into putting together a gala dance out of absolutely nada. But she has help-from her large and loving (if exasperating!) family, from Nat’s eccentric grandmother, from her fellow classmates. And in putting the prom together, Ash learns that she has choices about her life after high school. Prom has everything that award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for-humor, poignancy, teen readers’ tough issues dealt with head-on, and a voice teen readers will recognize as their own.

The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald

Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.

They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy – some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, über-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night.

Prom Nights from Hell

In this exciting collection, bestselling authors Meg Cabot (“How to Be Popular”), Kim Harrison (“A Fistful of Charms”), Michele Jaffe (“Bad Kitty”), Stephenie Meyer (“Twilight”), and Lauren Myracle (“ttyl”) take bad prom nights to a whole new level–a paranormally bad level. Wardrobe malfunctions and two left feet don’t hold a candle to discovering your date is the Grim Reaper–and he isn’t here to tell you how hot you look.

From angels fighting demons to a creepy take on getting what you wish for, these five stories will entertain better than any DJ in a bad tux. No corsage or limo rental necessary. Just good, scary fun.

For the comments: What are YOUR favorite books about prom?

More to read from Black Heart author Holly Black

Our month-long feature on Black Heart and the Curse Workers series by Holly Black is nearly over — but before we bid farewell to one of our all-time favorite series, we thought we’d take a look at Holly’s OTHER books. Because, ya know, she’s got lots more to offer!

A Modern Tale of Faerie Series:

  • Tithe
  • Valiant
  • Ironside

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.

The Spiderwick Chronicles series (written with Tony DiTerlizzi)

It all started with a mysterious letter left at a tiny bookstore for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Its closing lines: “We just want people to know about this. The stuff that has happened to us could happen to anyone.” Little could they imagine the remarkable adventure that awaited them as they followed Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace and a strange old book into a world filled with elves, goblins, dwarves, trolls, and a fantastical menagerie of other creatures. The oddest part is in entering that world, they didn’t leave this one!

The Good Neighbors graphic novels

Rue Silver’s mother has disappeared . . . and her father has been arrested, suspected of killing her. But it’s not as straightforward as that. Because Rue is a faerie, like her mother was. And her father didn’t kill her mother — instead, he broke a promise to Rue’s faerie king grandfather, which caused Rue’s mother to be flung back to the faerie world. Now Rue must go to save her — and must also defeat a dark faerie that threatens our very mortal world.

Holly has also written some wonderful short stories. You can browse the anthologies that include her work here.

Holly has plenty more coming soon, too!

In Spring 2013, look for her new middle grade novel Doll Bones

Three kids — Zachary, Poppy and Alice — who go on a journey, despite their own uncertain friendship, to bury a doll that may or may not be made from human bones.

And in Fall 2013, check out her new YA novel, Coldest Girl in Coldtown:

“A refreshing and inventive new twist” on the vampire genre; set in the not-so-distant future, where the vampire population has surged, resulting in the establishment of quarantined cities of vampires and humans where predator and prey coexist in a never-ending blood party of revelry.

In 2014, she & Cassandra Clare will release the first book in their five-book middle grade series, The Iron Trial:

Twelve-year-old Callum Hunt has grown up knowing three rules by heart. Never trust a magician. Never pass a test a magician gives you. And never let a magician take you to the Magisterium. Callum is about to break all the rules. And when he does, his life will change in ways he can’t possibly imagine.

For the comments: Have you read any of Holly’s other books/stories? Share your favorites!

Prom Week – Review & Contest: The Fashion Coloring Book

It’s not often we feature a coloring book here at Novel Novice. In fact, we’ve never featured a coloring book here before … but as they say, there’s a first for everything. And as it’s Prom Week, it’s fitting that The Fashion Coloring Book from our friends at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is the first coloring book to be featured on Novel Novice!

You see, we’ve teamed up with HMH all this week to feature some great prom-perfect books. Besides catching all our features here, be sure to like HMH on Facebook & follow them on Twitter for more great Prom-themed contests & features.

As I mentioned, today’s featured book is The Fashion Coloring Book:

More than fifty iconic designers (Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Miu Miu, Christopher Kane, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen) and looks are featured in this one-of-a-kind coloring book that pays homage to fashion. Included are hundreds of outfits and accessories for fashionistas and budding designers to complete and reimagine. It’s not just a coloring book—it’s inspirational; it’s creative; it’s all about fashion; and it’s loads of fun!

I’ve long loved coloring books, and when HMH sent me a copy of The Fashion Coloring Book to review, I couldn’t resist. I mean, for starters, it came with a box of crayons. SCORE! But more importantly, this is easily one of the coolest coloring books ever.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What is Sara, a grown woman, doing with coloring books? Well, here’s the thing. I can’t draw. But I love pretty pictures! And whenever I’m home sick in bed, one of my favorite activities is to fill in coloring books. Most of the ones I keep stashed on hand are of the Disney Princess variety, because I love coming up with new ways to color in their pretty dresses. With The Fashion Coloring Book, you’re given even more freedom to explore your fashion savvy coloring skills. The pages are filled with line drawings of designer duds, accessories, hair styles, and more. It’s a great way to pass the time and express your passion for fashion. The fact that the designs in this book are from actual couture designers just makes it that much cooler!

And now we’re giving you a chance to win a copy of the book!

The Contest:

Fill out the Prom Week: Fashion Coloring Book Contest Entry Form for your chance to win!

The Prize:

Winner receives a copy of The Fashion Coloring Book

The Rules:

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, April 27th.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Enter to win signed books by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

After bringing you our very belated video interviews with Holly Black and Cassandra Clare this week, we thought it was high time that we also brought you an exclusive giveaway!

We have signed copies of Red Glove by Holly Black and City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare — and as a bonus for this month’s Book of the Month, we’re giving away the books to two lucky winners!

Here’s how to enter:

The Contest

Fill out the Novel Novice Holly & Cassie Signed Book Giveaway Entry Form, and tell us your favorite Holly Black book and your favorite Cassie Clare book!

The Prizes

One winner will receive a signed copy of City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

One winner will receive a signed copy of Red Glove by Holly Black

The Rules

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, April 27th.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Prom Week: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Prom Week today here at Novel Novice — with another featured book & giveaway thanks to our friends at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! Be sure to like HMH on Facebook & follow them on Twitter for more great Prom-themed contests & features. And tune in here all week for more great featured titles!

Today’s featured book is Illuminate by Aimee Agresti:

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

And now we’re giving you a chance to win a copy of the book!

The Contest:

Fill out the Prom Week: Illuminate Contest Entry Form for your chance to win!

The Prize:

Winner receives a copy of Illuminate

The Rules:

  • One entry per person
  • U.S. only
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, April 27th.

Questions? Leave ’em in the comments & we’ll reply!

Review: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

I firmly believe you are never too old for fairy tales, and The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy is the perfect book to support my argument. Though written for middle grade readers, this book’s content is so hilarious, so universal, and so appealing that it transcends any age group. Healy’s laugh-out-loud look at the wayward lives of four Princes Charming is a book that can be read, shared, and enjoyed by pretty much anybody!

Enter a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never head of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as “Prince Charming.” But all of this is about to change…

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other associated terrors to become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

It’s rare that a book is so funny that I find myself literally laughing out loud, but that was exactly the case with Hero’s Guide. I couldn’t help myself. I’d be quietly reading along, and then I’d start chuckling and giggling and laughing so much, my boyfriend kept asking if I was okay. (And then he decided my book was so funny, that he simply had to read it, too. Isn’t that magical when that happens?)

Healy has masterfully woven a tale that both pays tribute to the traditional fairy tales of our youth (and the traditional way in which fairy tales were first told, way way back in the once upon a time days) — while presenting a story for modern readers. There are no damsels in distress, and the stereotype of the knight in shining armor is shattered entirely. Healy writes about four princes who are far more original and interesting to read about than the generic “Prince Charming” label they lament so much!

Not only are Healy’s characters fresh, exciting, and fun to read about, but his manner of writing is so appealing. He has a gift for turning a phrase that is so fitting for this twisted take on classic fairy tale characters. His words invite you into the story and keep you turning the pages, eager to find out what happens next. It is, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, enchanting.

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom will forever change the way you look at fairy tales, but only in the best of ways. It’s a new classic written for today’s readers.

Look for The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom in stores May 1st.