Babe in Boyland


Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

Natalie Rowan doesn’t have much experience in the romance department. Sure she’s dated, but it’s never been anything serious. But those facts don’t stop her from doling out romantic advice in her high school newspaper column. And for someone who doesn’t exactly know what she’s talking about, she doesn’t do half bad. In fact, many people love her Dr. Aphrodite column.

Many people, but not everyone. The male population seems to rebelling against Dr. Aphrodite, saying that she’s doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and that she only tells readers what they want to hear. It’s unbelievable really, Natalie is a great journalist! Or is she?

Natalie sets out to uncover not only who she is as a journalist, but also what really makes guys tick. By disguising herself as Nat Rogers, new student at an all boy prep school, Natalie hopes to do both. Too bad things don’t go according to plan

Does Natalie, or rather Nat, have the guts to follow through with this crazy plan? And if she does, will she find the answers she’s looking for?

Babe in Boyland written by author Jody Gehrman is a book that make readers laugh and swoon simultaneously.

Instantly relatable, Gehrman’s characters are well crafted and, even though are one of a kind, are strangely familiar. Readers will find a little bit of themselves in each character. Yes, they’re real, yes they’re relatable, but most importantly, they’re flawed. Just like the rest of us, they aren’t perfect. For example, Natalie can seemingly only see the female perspective of romance, Darcy keeps running back to her loser boyfriend, and Chloe has a bad case of “bitchy-ness”

Reader’s will especially love Natalie (a.k.a. Nat) . She’s a strong lead character who is smart, intuitive, and what I liked most about her, a real journalist who does everything in her power to get the scoop. Sure, there are some major blunders along the way, but she’s persistent and dedicated.

Babe is Boyland is a real page turner. It may not be a mystery, but by the end of the first few chapters reader’s will be fully vested to find out how the story unfolds. Gehrman’s sharp and precise writing plays a big role in that. She has a way of not just telling the story, but showing it.

Even though there are some predictable moments, Babe in Boyland is a read that will satisfy reader’s tastes.

Shootin’ the Breeze With Gwendolyn Heasley

Food For Thought, Interviews

Gwendolyn Heasley’s debut novel Where I Belong is a real gem! It’s full of great writing, a memorable plotline, and outstanding characters. How could anyone not want to know more. More about the book and about the awesome author behind it.

Recently, Gwendolyn Heasley was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions. Read on for the answers to those questions!

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell me about yourself, and your writing?

Gwendolyn Heasley (GH): Sure! I live in Manhattan and I teach college in New Jersey.  I love running, skiing, ABC Family TV shows and all “kid food”—especially mac n cheese and grilled cheese!

BB: What was the inspiration behind Where I Belong?

GH: At the time, I was looking for a job and living with my parents. The recession was all around me, so I decided to write a hopeful story about how the recession did have positive elements—like reminding us what truly has “value.”

BB: Where I Belong is full of great, memorable characters. Part of what makes them so unforgettable are their names. How did you come up with them?

GH: I have a good friend Corrinne. She goes by Corrie, but I love her name and I liked the alliteration of Corrinne Corcoran. While on a visit to Texas, I really did meet a Bubby and I just loved his name. I found the name Kitsy on the Internet while researching rodeo queens. Kitsy is definitely my favorite name in the book. There’s a Waverly Diner in New York, so that’s where Waverly comes from. Rider is from the actor Rider Strong, who starred on Boy Meets World, although my readers might be too young to have seen that TV show.

BB: My two favorite characters were Corrinne and Kitsy for obvious reasons. If you had to say, which one reminds you most of yourself and why?

GH: While I grew up in a small (ish) town in Minnesota, it wasn’t the size of Broken Spoke.  But I was definitely not raised as a city girl like Corrinne. Also, neither girl grew up in a family similar to mine! I have one older sister and no little brother… so I’m pretty different from both girls in the background sense.

As for personalities, I’d love to say that I’m as sweet and optimistic as Kitsy, but I’m not.  She’s one of my heroes; she’s got such an amazing spirit.  I’m not that much like Corrinne either though; she’s much bolder than I am but I really appreciate her honesty and adaptability. I’d say that there’s a lot I look up to in both girls and I loved living in their heads.

BB: What kind of research did you do for this book?

GH: I wrote the book during the recession so that didn’t require much research.  As for Texas and rodeos, I’ve been to Texas many times and have a bunch of Texan friends. While none of my friends are the inspiration for the book, I learned a lot about Texan culture and pride through them. As for rodeos, I’ve been to a couple of them but I also did a lot of internet research and youtubing for the details.

BB: When you were writing Where I Belong, where there any other titles that you were considering that just didn’t make the final cut?

GH: The original title was CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE RECESSIONISTA but we decided that wasn’t a classic title. Although the book takes place during the recession, that is truly only one element of the book.

BB: If Where I Belong were to be made into a movie, who do you think would, or should, be cast as Corrinne? Kitsy? Bubby? Waverly?

GH: I’ve always seen Kitsy as Taylor Swift. As for Corrinne, I think Alexandra Chando, who plays twins Emma and Sutton Mercer on ABC Family’s The Lying Game, is super talented.  As for Waverly, I really like Vanessa Marano, who plays Bae on ABC Family’sSwitched at Birth.

BB: Corrinne spent a lot of time listening to her iPod in the book. If you could choose one album that would describe her,  what album would it be and why?

GH: I  think she wouldn’t pick one album; she’d make a playlist. She’d definitely put some country on it, but it would also have some classic rock and a few NYC anthems on it too. As she grew up in the book, I think her taste evolved to include more and more things and I think the mix would reflect this.

BB: You have a new book coming out this June, a sequel called A Long Way From You. Can you tell us what it’s going to be about, and how your writing process differed from Where I Belong?

GH:  This time it’s Kitsy’s story and she’s coming to NYC for art classes. Over the course of the summer, she learns a lot about herself, especially since she’s away from all of her familiar surroundings. She also truly develops as an artist, which is something I loved writing about.  I got to visit art museums and imagine that Kitsy was there with me!

I wrote the book about Manhattan while living in Manhattan, which was great. For research, I could mine my own experiences, especially my initial experiences living here when I was first learning the city.

 BB: Any advice you can give aspiring writers?

GH: Everyone always says it so it’s almost becoming a cliché but my best advice is to read a lot. Spend at least as much time reading as writing. Read anything and everything, but only write things that interest you. If you only like telling stories about unicorns, then write only about unicorns. You will write much better if you focus on topics that you’re passionate about.

Where I Belong


Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Corrine has it made. She spends her days shopping in New York’s highest end shops while her nights are spent surrounded by friends in the trendiest restaurants. Her life is seemingly perfect, and why shouldn’t it be? Hasn’t her father worked hard to ensure she gets everything she’s ever wanted – whether her own horse or a spot at the hottest boarding schools on the East Coast.

Corrinne really is in her own world. Sure she knows that many people aren’t lucky enough to be her. Sure she knows that the economy is plummeting downhill. Sure she knows that a recession has hit, and is affecting almost everyone. But these things don’t affect her.

That is, until her hard-working father tells her that he’s made some bad investments and that they’ve lost everything. And if things couldn’t get any worse, her and her younger brother are being shipped off to Broken Spoke, Texas – the small town her mother grew up in and ran away from as fast as she could.

Sentenced to living with two grandparents she barely knows, she’s forced to do things she never imagined: doing chores, eating calorie-filled food, getting a job, and worst of all attending public school.

Little by Little Corrinne starts to make a life for herself. Sure it’s not the life she imagined, but it’s a life all the same. It’s a life filled with struggles and laughs, budding friendships and even romances. Before she knows it, Corrinne really figures out where she belongs.

Where I Belong is author Gwendolyn Heasley’s debut novel. It’s an endearing read that will make capture reader’s attention and hearts.

Heasley’s writing drips with charm. And surprisingly intrigue. Through her strong writing and well crafted plotline, readers will have a vested interest in Corrinne’s outcome. Will she remain the snobby Manhattanite? Or will be she the rough and tough girl who oozes Southern charm, grace, and manners?

What really brought Where I Belong to life were the complex characters who have some truly one of a kind names. Takes Kitsy for example. From the outside she appears to be just another over-bubbly Mockingbirdette. On the inside though she’s a talented artist with a strong sense of familial responsibility, and an even stronger sense of self.

And of course there’s Corrinne, Where I Belong’s heroine. She’s a memorable character that reader’s with hesitantly love. Even at her worst, she’s a great character. Often times, in not so obvious ways, she reminded me of Cinderella – in the sense of transformation. At the beginning she was ugly on the inside – materialistic, bratty, full of herself – but with the help of great family, true friends, she really does transform in front of our eyes. By the end she’s beautiful, on the inside as well as the outside.

Besides being realistic, Where I Belong is a really fun book. Heasley has filled it with memorable one lines that shed light on the characters and the plot. These one liners will make readers laugh out loud. Personally my all time favorite quote from Where I Belong is: “Manhattan, Grandma and Grandpa want you home before it’s dark. Hurry before you turn back into a stiletto.” (172)

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

Contests, Food For Thought

It’s hop madness around here. Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer is hosting the Spring Cleaning Giveaways Hop (Thanks Kathy!).

So I did some spring cleaning and am offering two winners the chance to win a book.

What’s up for grabs?

Book 1 that I’m giving away is a (used) hardcover copy of Lizabeth Zindel’s A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills.

Book 2 that I’m giving away is a (used) hardcover copy of Alice Sebold’s  The Lovely Bones.

To enter you must be 13 years or older and live in the United States. Contest is open from March 20 (midnight) and will run until March 25th (11:59 p.m.). To enter simply leave a comment on THIS post telling me which  book you would want to win. Please make sure to leave a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS  with your comment. Winners will be chosen via random number generator, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have until March 27th (11:59) to respond with shipping address. If response is not received, I will select another winner.

There are a ton of other blogs also participating in this hop, please check them out here! Also, my Lucky Leprechaun hop is still going on until the 22nd.

Thanks for stopping by!

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Contests, Random

Hello Readers and Followers!

I know how you all love when I participate in giveaway hopes, so for you guys, I decided to participate in another hop. I am participating the the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and author Cindy Thomas.  As always, thanks to them for hosting an awesome hop!

I have something really special for this giveaway hop. I recently reviewed Deadly Cool written by author Gemma Halliday. If you haven’t read (the book or my review) you should totally check it out. Gemma Halliday was very kind enough to offer one lucky winner some signed swag.

The Prize:

A set of Deadly Cool trading cards signed by author Gemma Halliday.  Because Gemma Halliday was so kind to offer this prize, the prize will be shipped by her, not by me.

To enter, simple post a comment on THIS post telling me your favorite Young Adult mystery novel.

Contest is open to U.S. resident 13 years old and older. Contest will run from March 17th (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!) until  March 22nd (11:59 p.m.). One winner will be selected via random number generator ( Winner will be contacted VIA e-mail on March 22nd. Please made sure to include a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS in your comment. Winner will have Saturday March 24th to reply to e-mail. If response is not received by March 24th (11:59 p.m.) I will select a new winner.

Please note that since this prize is being offered by the author, I will NOT be shipping this prize out. Rather, author Gemma Halliday will be. I will forward winner’s shipping address to her after I receive e-mail response.

And don’t forget to stop by the other participating blogs for more awesome giveaways! (Click here)

Thanks! Happy Hopping!



Deadly Cool

Contests, Reviews

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Hartley Featherstone is having one of those days where everything seems to go wrong. When she gets to school she finds that her relationship with boyfriend Josh has been circulating throughout the rumor mill of Herbert Hoover High School. Word in the halls is that Josh cheated on her with head of the chastity club, Courtney.

At first she doesn’t readily believe the rumors. But when she finds an empty condom wrapper buried deep between books and jock straps, but not deep enough to dig out, she knows in her heart of hearts that the rumors were right.

Hurt and embarrassed, Hartley enlists best friend Sam to confront boyfriend, or rather ex-boyfriend Josh. But when they break into Josh’s house they don’t find Josh. Instead, they find Courtney – dead in Josh’s closet.

From the apparent evidence all fingers point to Josh. But Hartley knows that he didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t do such a thing. Cheating on her was one thing, killing someone was entirely something else. So when Josh reaches out to her, she takes the biggest risk, and decides to help prove his innocence.

But if Josh is really innocent, how many people will have to die to prove it?

Deadly Cool written by author Gemma Halliday is a fast paced read that mystery and non-mystery fans will flock to. Not only is it full of foreboding mystery (obviously), but there’s quick and catchy dialog, characters that are believable, and even the slightest spark of a charming romance.

Now I’ve only read a few mysteries in my reading lifetime, but Deadly cool seemed like it wasn’t your typical mystery. Sure there were twists and turns, chapter endings that won’t just leave readers hanging from a metaphorical cliff but will leave them slack-jawed, and some genuinely creepy moments. So what makes this mystery so atypical? For one thing there was a certain lightness to it. It has some real laugh out loud moments. For example when main character Hartley finds herself squeezed tightly under hottie Chases’s bed – while he’s undressing.

Secondly, main character Hartley is charming . She’s smart, sometimes snarky, and an all time terrible liar, which makes for some real life blunders. Hartley is very reminiscent of famed girl detective Nancy Drew. She has a real knack of solving the case while getting herself into some hot water situations.

Halliday’s writing is strong and engaging. By the time readers reach the end, they’ll be craving more. And luckily, there’s another Hartley filled murder mystery on the horizon (Social Suicide, Book 2 of the Deadly Cool Series comes out April 2012). It doesn’t really matter if you are or aren’t a mystery fan/reader, all that matters is that there is something with in Deadly Cool’s* pages that readers will genuinely love.

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

Food For Thought, Random

I recently received a new fancy pants camera. And when I say recently I mean this past Christmas. I’ve been itching to toy around with it, and after waiting for decent weather, more free time, and inspiration to strike, I’m finally setting out to play.

Now I’ve never considered myself a photographer, nor have I ever considered I have an eye for photography. I simply know what I like, and appreciate those who have actual photographic talent and skill.  But even though I’ve never considered myself to be a photographer, I’ve always considered taking pictures a hobby. Nothing serious, just another creative outlet.

Since I have this new fancy pants camera I’ve decided to put it to good use. I will take at least one picture a day, and at the end of the week (meaning Saturday) I will post said pictures. I think taking one picture a day will help with all aspects of my creative life – blogging, reviewing, and even my writing.

With these said pictures, I will select one and write something to go along with it – a thought I had while taking the picture, a short poem or story, etc.. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.

Coney Island’s Own Wonder Wheel, taken by myself

a few years back. It’s still one of my favorite pictures!

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters


Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Copy provided by Putnam)

Fourteen-year-old Kelsey Finkelstein has been dreaming about freshman year for some time now. She’s been dreaming about just how great this year is going to be. This is going to be her year, the year she makes a name for herself. With her new positive attitude, Kelsey has high hopes of landing a spot on the JV soccer team — and winning hottie Jordan’s heart. But Kelsey quickly finds out that dreams don’t always come true.

Freshman year is one unnatural disaster after the other. It starts with a very unflattering picture of her (tripping, of course) plastered to the front page of the Reflector, her high school’s newspaper. And ends with her being cast – as a man – in the spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

As if this isn’t bad enough, she catches best friend Cass making out with Jordan, the same Jordan Kelsey has been crushing on forever. This is too much to handle, especially for a fourteen year old. Will Kelsey survive long enough to tell the tale that is the unnatural disaster called freshman year?

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, written by debut author Meredith Zeitlin, is a fun-filled glimpse into the life of a fourteen year old girl. For the younger audience, it will give a scary glimpse into the ups and downs of freshman year. For the older audience, it will let us travel back in time to relive all of those “unnatural disasters”.

Zeitlin’s writing is precise and sharp. Each sentence is well structured, each chapter is well crafted. Reader’s really will appreciate the conversational tone this book has. Kelsey’s voice is real, and often times feel as if a close friend is relating a very personal story. Bottom line, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is unbelievably real.

Zeitlin’s characters are uniquely her own creations. Their voices are youthful, fresh, and authentic. They are easy to relate to, and reader’s will find a bit of themselves buried in each of the characters. Kelsey is a great character. In many ways she’s a typical fourteen year old – a bit scattered and overly self involved. But in so many ways she’s far from typical. She takes everything in stride, she’s smart beyond her years, and she’s willing to turn a bad situation into a good one. She’s a strong character that reader’s will remember.

This is a book full of messages – be yourself, you don’t need to drink (alcohol) in order to fit in or be cool, honesty is the best policy – but these messages don’t weigh down the book one bit. In fact they are weaved into the story so well, reader’s won’t feel like their being preached to. And that’s a hard thing to do. Zeitlin’s managed to weave solid life advice into a short two hundred plus pages.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters is a quick read that will leave reader’s laughing loudly. It’s charming, full of memorable characters, and has some real swoon-able moments.

Perception: A Clarity Novel


Perception by Kim Harrington

Life certainly has changed for Clarity “Clare” Fern. Ever since she helped the police crack that murder case last summer, her popularity has sky – rocketed. Girls who once made fun of her now flock to her side claiming to be BFFs. Both old and new flames vie for her attention and her heart.  All she wanted to do was clear her brother’s name and help the police. She never wanted this new found fame.

But when a local girl suddenly goes missing her mother turns to the Fern family for answers. Unfortunately they can’t help. Perry can only pick up the voice of a girl named Ashley, someone completely unrelated to the missing girl. And Clare can’t seem to coax any visions to come her. All Clare wants to do is help. Even if her mother forbids her to get involved.

But Clare has other mysteries to solve, like the one that involves her and a stalker-like secret admirer. At first she thinks it either Justin or Gabriel.  When they both deny it, Clare has to figure out who this person is. As she tries to track him or her down, things take a turn for the worse. Will Clare figure out who her secret admirer is? And if she does, will she live long enough to tell?

Perception, written by author Kim Harrington, is the second novel in the Clarity series. Full on intriguing twists and turns, readers will be kept guessing and gripping the edge of their seats.

Harrington’s writing is stellar. Her writing is simple, yet strong. Each word works toward the budding mystery, but doesn’t drop any obvious hints. She has a real way of attracting attention, captivating audiences, and weaving a mystery that will keep readers guessing up until the very end. She’s a real word-smith.

Unlike Clarity, Harrington’s fist novel, Perception has not one, but two mysteries: the missing girl and Clare’s secret admirer.  Each mystery presented within the pages is well-balanced – one never over-shadows the other. Each work together, in tandem, creating the a hard to crack case.

Perception is full of both new and well-loved characters. Not only are Clare and psychic family present and accounted for but so are ex-boy friend Justin and heart-throb Gabriel. Even though readers have already been acquainted, there is still so much we don’t know about them. As for new characters like Clare’s new friend (insert friends name here), they’re enchanting.

Reader’s will find themselves wanting to get know them, wanting to know what makes them tick, if they’re suspects (or not). Even more fleshed out, Perception’s characters – both old and new – are well-rounded, realistic, and ultimately believable, even the dead ones!

Perception does not disappoint. As a follow-up. Perception has certain expectations – is it going to be action – packed, fun-filled, and a solid who done it mystery? Perception lives up to and exceeds all expectations.