I really enjoyed Kelly Fiore’s debut, Taste Test, so when I saw this being talked about on twitter I knew I had to read it.
Fiore does a great job of writing realistic characters. One of the strongest attributes of Just Like the Movies is that the two main characters, Marijke and Lily, truly come from two very different high school worlds – one very popular and the other nearly invisible – but they forge a friendship that becomes one of the main focal points for the book. I think romantic elements in YA are great (and, honestly, what we girls want to see), but it’s nice when that’s not the ONLY big focus int the story, and Fiore did a great job of balancing two sweet romantic elements with this important friendship.
Just Like the Movies is a fun book that only took a few hours to read, and it’s full of references to classic romantic comedy movies. Opening with a scene straight out of Say Anything definitely got me hooked on the story immediately!
Click here to find it on Amazon, or ask about it at your favorite local bookseller!
I’m a sucker for a good YA novel with a pretty cover, but a book with a pretty cover (even gold foil on the paperback! too gorgeous) AND Robert Frost poetry woven in? I’m so there. Golden by Jessi Kirby is a really beautifully written story full of romance, mystery, and adventure. The story is compelling and the characters are realistically flawed with plenty of redeeming value. Parker, the main character, is a protagonist that I rooted for all the way through, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way her story turned out. You’ll love this one! Click here to find Golden on Amazon!
When I found out that Madelyn would be willing to do a guest post for me, I sent her a long string of rambling questions and thoughts I had after finishing Dream Boy a few months ago. I’m excited to turn the blog over to her today so she can give you more insight into where the idea for Dream Boy came from and how the characters were developed! (AND you still have time to enter the GIVEAWAY for a copy of Dream Boy! Click for a Rafflecopter giveaway! ————————————————————————–
Nothing could hurt you when the world smelled like cotton candy—at least that’s what Chance Bell thought as she inhaled its pink spun sweetness.
That’s the first sentence for a novel Mary and I started together years and years and years ago, before either of us knew what novel-writing really was. We got about six chapters in, and we sent off a query to Harlequin, and they wrote us a lovely I’m-sorry note about why it wasn’t perfect for them. Then Mary moved forward with her poetry career and I moved forward in the world of kidlit. Fast forward about 10 years, maybe more, to the day Mary asked me if I wanted to write about a boy from a dream that came to life. I said yes right away. I don’t remember if she asked via e-mail or phone (I saved most of our e-mails and couldn’t find the first of them, but there were well over a thousand between then and now.)
The original spark, Mary said, came after she watched a Ginger Rogers movie at 4 a.m. She was half asleep while the movie (It Had to Be You) was playing but in it, a guy dressed like a Native American seems to pop out of Ginger’s dream. So what if we did a story where that happened in a girl’s dream? Then, the negotiations started. Mary wanted it to be romantic. I told her I wouldn’t do it unless it could be funny, too. And both of us loved stories that were grounded in reality but had fantastic elements to them. We started writing. I wish we could tell you there was a great plan or outline, but really we figured out almost everything as we went along. Which may have lengthened our writing process a little. Mary would write a chapter. Then she’d pass it off to me and I’d pick up where she left off (changing some of her chapter as I went) and so on. I’m not sure we knew where we were going until we got there.
We definitely changed the plot as we went. We debated who Annabelle would end up with, in part because we ended up liking our characters so much. Even the jerks. And we added and deleted some spooky elements and then added others.
Mad: We can’t use that. I just think it sounds too much like The Exorcist.
Mary: But I’ve never even SEEN The Exorcist.
Mad: How can you have never seen The Exorcist?)
We gave Annabelle’s mom an obsession with old movies as a tribute to Ginger. Annabelle remains fairly grounded in the story (something Melissa asked me about because, as she said, “I’d be freaking.”) I think there are two reasons for this. One: pre-emptive hormones. In that I think the idea of love and what she has to do for it keeps her moving forward and too much panic would get in the way of that. I don’t want to get into any spoilers, so I’ll just say that she’s stronger than she knows. Plus, she’s dealt with some real-life things that have made her feel crazy, and I think she learned from those that panic and craziness don’t get you anywhere. (Or help move the story forward as much as we needed it to move =)
Melissa also asked about a sequel or companion book. We wrote Dream Boy as a standalone, so there’s nothing in the works. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t thought about it, as neither of us feels finished with these characters. As a reader, one of my favorite things when I finish a book is to imagine what happens next. And as a writer, it’s pretty much the same thing. If the story were to continue, I think we’d both be interested in exploring Dream World a little bit more. And we’ve been doing a little matchmaking, too, which I won’t go into – no spoilers, not even for a story that may never be written. But for now, what happens next is really up to readers’ imaginations.
You know the feeling you have when you wake up after a particularly vivid dream? Struggling to decipher between dream and reality because it just seems so real, maybe trying to go back to sleep and enter that dream again, but eventually losing the details as it fades from your memory?
In Dream Boy, Annabelle is having a series of those very vivid dreams all featuring the same guy – she can hardly wait to get back to sleep and see him again – until he walks into her Science class as a new student… And he knows who Annabelle is as if they’ve met before! Talk about blurring the lines between real and imaginary. Of course,
I really enjoyed Dream Boy and loved the way that the authors wove paranormal elements into an otherwise contemporary realistic piece of fiction. It reminded me of Lisa McMann’s books, which I also think are wonderful, in that it’s a very accessible YA form of magical realism. They’ve also done a great job of creating characters with enough depth to handle the twists and turns they throw into the plot as the story goes from a simple “oh hey, my dream came true” to a “oh crap, does that mean nightmares can too?” kind of suspense.
I totally recommend getting a copy and reading right now… and then stopping back by here in a few days, when one of the authors, Madelyn Rosenberg, will be here to answer some questions about how Dream Boy came to be after I sent the following long, rambly e-mail to her:
- I’d love to know more about where the idea came from – it felt familiar in that there are books out there that sort of dance all over that boundary between realistic fiction and paranormal, but it also felt refreshingly new.
- It was impossible to read, too, without thinking of how much I’d be freaking out if I were in Annabelle’s shoes. So where did the idea of a literal dream come true come from? And from the spark of the idea, how did the whole story develop?
- I’d love to hear, too, about the possibility of a sequel or companion novel. What’s next for Annabelle, Will, Martin, and the rest?
Summary from Goodreads:
Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.
But then everything changes overnight.
When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.
Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?
Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.
This is a really sweet and beautifully written middle grades novel. The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is that I felt like the ending, while hopeful and complete enough to resolve the book, didn’t quite do Lola and Canaan justice. They were such great characters – there should have been more resolution, both in their relationship and in Canaan’s family life.
I definitely recommend The Swift Boys and Me to kids in the 4th-6th grade range! The adorable cover will no doubt appeal to lots of young girls, but the messages and themes are perfect for boys, too. For my fellow teachers, this would make a great summer reading choice for students coming into 5th and 6th grades!
Find it here on Amazon or at your preferred bookseller. Enjoy!