Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Once Upon A Toad

The sweet, green glittering book jacket of Heather Vogel Frederick’s Once Upon a Toad proclaims the novel to be “charming.” And a more concise and precise thing has never been said. The world of young adult fiction these days is dark – sexy vampires, sexy heroin addicts, sexy post-apocalypse survivors, sexy demons. We YA readers apparently like our novels morose and - well - sexy! Once Upon A Toad is neither. It’s a light and fun; an easily digestible spoon full of sugar about two-twelve year old step-sisters becoming friends after a little unwanted magic enters their lives.

Cat Starr is the perfect young heroine: unconcerned about her looks, popularity or boys; passionate about learning and the bassoon; a drama-free pre-teen with a large vocabulary and a sense of humor; a kid who respects and enjoys spending time with adults. In other words, a completely unrealistic adolescent, except that Cat is very realistically rude and spiteful when it comes to her snobby step-sister, Olivia. Pretty and prim, Olivia resents that Cat is spending three months with her and her family and getting so much attention for being such a nice darn person. A war breaks out between the step-siblings. Olivia gets their classmates to create an elaborate tap dance routine while chanting “Catbox” to our protagonist. Cat gets even by manipulating Olivia’s precious room d├ęcor models. The girls seem more foes than family until the mysterious, orange-haired Great Aunt Aby shows up at their house in her rickety RV. Armed with a twinkle in her eye and a pep talk for her great-niece, Aby soothes discouraged Cat just a bit before departing, urging her to find “common ground” with Olivia. Cat holds no hope that she will ever bond with boy-crazy, selfish Olivia. Common ground comes in the form of supernatural oral ejections. Olivia is spitting flowers and diamonds with every word she utters, and Cat is coughing up toads. Could Great Aunt Aby be behind this? When Olivia’s gem-producing ability hits the news, criminals are gunning to get to her precious stones. Drama unfolds and the girls set out on the road to Las Vegas, being brought closer together by near death experiences and team work.

I absolutely adored this story. From Cat’s snarkiness to the humor that develops from toad-spitting situations to the non-stop action of the sisters’ road trip – this novel was book was a little diamond. Toadally awesome.

Five stars!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why So Serious?

     The Hub recently wrote a great article on the lack of humorous YA books out today. Now, I remember how serious and morose I was at fifteen, but I always enjoyed a good laugh! Luckily, their blog found a few chuckle-worthy reads for lovers of teen books. Check out The Hub's article, "Where Has All The Humor Gone?"

Freebie and Excerpt

Reviews to come.. I promise! I am almost done reading Once Upon A Toad so expect that this week! This qualifies as news, I suppose, even if the YA author in discussion is me..

I feel like giving!

That's right. I feel like doing a little impromptu giveaway! The first 10 people to email "I want Ricky" to will get a free Amazon code for my new story, "A Very Ricky Sunday." No weird catch or anything! You don't have to review it, blog or tweet. I just have a lot to celebrate and want to send some laughter your way!

First page of a "Very Ricky Sunday" here:

“This here tie feels like a noose ‘round my neck. Can’t you loosen it up just a little? I’m suffocating. And why I got to wear your dang boyfriend’s clothes? Looks like I’m wearing my dad’s threads. (‘Course if I was really dressed like my daddy, I’d be wearing an orange jumpsuit, if you know what I mean.) Why I got to go to church again? Your brother done lured me over by telling me he had the bloodiest, gruesomest video game ever been made. I was all excited, and then ya’ll hold me down and put this tie on me,” Ricky whines. “Ya’ll know it’s wrong to trick a dude like that.”
            I stand back and look Ricky over. In David’s khaki pants, light blue button down shirt, and navy tie, he looks a far cry from the hick bully I was dodging in tenth grade. He looks normal. Almost handsome, with his platinum hair slicked back and his air horn of a mouth closed.
            “Ricky,” I say, noticing the green enamel leaf poking from underneath his tie, “You’re going to have to lose the pot leaf necklace. Seriously. You’re not wearing that into a Pentecostal church. Unless you’re in the mood for an exorcism.”
            He sighs and unfastens his chain. “My grammaw gave me this. Fine. But I ain’t putting on them penny loafers over there. I am keeping on my tenny shoes.”
            “Those are dress shoes, but okay, never mind. You’re passable now,” I say, “Let’s get a move on.”
            “I don’t want to go to church. Ya’ll go on without me. You know me; I can’t sit still for long. I get antsy. I get all sweaty in my pits and privates. Bad nerves, I reckon. How’d you get Kip to go? I thought your brother was acrostic.”
            Kip swaggers up to us in a full power suit. His suit and his immaculately groomed mustache make him look like a five-foot-tall stock broker. “Acrostic is a poem, my friend. An example: K – knowledgeable, I – intimidating, P – powerful. I believe you mean to say ‘agnostic’. And to answer your question, Christina paid me to go.” Kip is the first fourteen-year-old, mustached, evil genius I have ever known. And he’s my only sibling. Lucky me.