Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meridian by Amber Kizer Review

Book: Meridian
Author: Amber Kizer
Source: bought
Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems that wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family's home--and though she's untouched, Meridian's body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been hiding for her entire life: Meridian is a Fenestra, the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead.

It's crucial that Meridian learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife--how to help people die. Only then can she help preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But before she can do that, Meridian must come to terms with her ability, outsmart the charismatic preacher who's taken over Revelation, and maybe--if she can accept her sworn protector, Tens, for who he is--fall in love. Meridian and Tens face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. But together, they have the power to outsmart evil.
Review: I was so excited to read this after my interview with Amber, and she did not disappoint. 

I loved the concept, that a normal human being is that light at the end of the tunnel that you see in death. Or, in this case, a window. It was so different from everything I've read lately, it was refreshing. I really believed everything that was happening, and Meridian was a very believable character. I really liked her, and how she took everything in stride. She accepted that this ability was just a part of her life, and she had to deal with it and control it. Tens was charming, and hilarious. Auntie was sweet and tough, and Custos (a wolf!) was so incredibly awesome.

Highlights: Meridian's ability. It's an interesting concept. She was such a strong character too, and that is always refreshing.

Lowlights: I hated the antagonist, and how he was just kind of there. First, he's creepy, and that's all I ever got to see. I wanted some big run-ins, and it didn't happen until the end. But, I have a feeling that I'll see more good vs. evil in the next installment. The ending was slightly bothersome, in that it was so convenient, but overall, the novel was super-fantabulastical.


Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman Review

Author: Emily Whitman
Source: Borrowed
Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more--something dangerous and exciting--something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself.

In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who--and what--she really is.
Review: This novel contradicts the myth of Persephone. Here, Persephone leaves by her own free will, and Hades isn't really all that bad (ie: a hot guy).

I'm such a sucker for mythology, that I couldn't pass up this novel. I was pleased with the story, it was fresh, humorous, fun and current. I loved the author's take on the Underworld, and the people in it. This novel is just so hard for me to decide on, because I was so hyped up to read it (refer back to "I'm a sucker for mythology"), but in the end it kind of let me down. It wasn't jaw-dropping fantastic, but it wasn't bad either.

Highlights: I loved the fact that Persephone choose to leave. It's an interesting take on her story. And I really loved the locations (Underworld included). The description was wonderful, and I could have spent forever just reading about these places. 

Lowlights: Persephone bothered me at times, and her relationship with Hades felt a little fake to me. I hardly believed it, and Hades seemed underdeveloped. I felt like there should have been more to the story, and at times there were bits that didn't seem to matter. I wanted more story, more originality, because I knew how it would end. I wanted something crazy to be happening in between the beginning and end!!



Saturday, August 29, 2009


Hey Everyone!

You know, there are some awesome contests happening in the blogosphere.

Over at they are having a Blood Promise by Richelle Mead giveaway, that ends September 15th!

And what about The Hiding Spot's contest to win an arc of Hush, Hush? Awesome!

Also, Bloody Bookaholic's Mega Palooza Contest. Do not miss this.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Interview: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

1. What happens in your novel ONCE A WITCH?
Once a Witch centers on a 17 year old girl, Tamsin Greene, who comes from a long line of witches. But she herself has no magical Talent--what makes matters worse is that when she was born her grandmother predicted that she would be the most powerful witch of all. However, all that changes when one rainy August evening, a mysterious stranger approaches her in her grandmother's bookshop and asks for her help. Suddenly, she finds herself on a quest through time and in a whole lot of danger!

2. What is your main character Tamsin like?
She's prickly! She loves her family, but feels like a complete outsider and so she holds them at arm's length.

3. What are some of the characters "Talents"? Are they all different?
Tamsin's older sister Rowena can compel anyone to do anything she wants just with the power of her voice. Tamsin's grandmother can see the future. Tamsin's mother can move at warp speed and Tamsin's father controls the weather.

4. How much research did you do for Once a Witch?
A fair amount. There are two episodes of time travel in the story so I wanted to get the period details right.

5. Was there any inspiration behind writing Once a Witch?
All of my books start with the main character talking to me, telling me their story. This book was no different.

6. How long did it take you to write Once a Witch, and did it turn out the way you expected it to?
It took about a year and a half to get it where I wanted it before my editor took it on. After she acquired it, it went through many more rounds of revision! And I think books never quite turn out the way you expect them to--maybe they just turn out the way they need to.

7. Were there any favorite bits to write in this novel?
Oh, the banter between Tamsin and Gabriel (her childhood friend/love interest) was so fun to write!

8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Come visit me at to learn more about the book!

Thanks so much Carolyn!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead
Pages: 332 (paperback)
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: bought
Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies... 

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi Princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires - the ones who never die. 

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them....more info at Goodreads.
 I'll admit it, I was so nervous to read this novel.

I avoided it for as long as possible, until I recently found it for a great price I couldn't pass up. I'm always a little wary with "vampire" books, because they always seem so lame and unrealistic to me (well, the one's I've read in the past did). As the novel progressed, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into Rose's world and her voice. I could easily believe every single word of this book, it was that great.

Rose is strong, fearless, and believable as a protagonist - she can take care of herself. I loved how she was such a well-rounded character, but still full of her own insecurities. I equally loved how strong the plot was, and how I never quite knew what would happen next. Even the reason why Rose and Lissa left in the first place was a complete mystery, and it was only as the novel progressed that little bits of their story surfaced.

Highlights: Rose and Dimitri's relationship, for sure. The two of them are just so amusing together...Plus, I loved the "bad" guys. I was not expecting them at all, and I usually have a skill for guessing the bad guys.

Lowlights: At times, Lissa really bothered me. She was so weak, I wanted her to be stronger. However, in the end, I ended up changing my mind about her entirely.

Rating:  5 out of 5

Update: I've long since finished the entire series, and I can guarantee one thing - it keeps getting better. Give this series a chance, it may surprise you.

My reviews in this series:
Frostbite #2
Shadow Kiss #3
Blood Promise #4

Friday, August 21, 2009


Hello everyone!

I can hardly believe this contest has come to a close, and I'm so excited to announce the winner's. 

Thank you all so much for entering and following me! I also would like to apologize, this week has been so hectic. First my laptop broke down (causing me to use the slow computer that takes forever), and this was also my first week of college (yikes!) but I survived! Yay! But now, our winners...

The winner of Meridian by Amber Kizer is LESLIE

and the winner of One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer is PARADOX!

Congrats you both, and I sent you guys an email so send me one back with your addresses please!!

Thanks again to all who entered!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler Review

Source - Won
According to her best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy everyday, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie--she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.
It's been a long time since I've read a novel that made me say, "A new novelist wrote this?". Twenty Boy Summer was great, fantastic, and realistic. Normally, I'm really critical of novels by writer's I've never heard of, I'm always looking for what's wrong with their work. With TBS, I was looking for the greatness on every page.

Twenty Boy Summer is fresh, raw, and realistic. Anna's emotions really took this book to a whole other level, where every page felt like reading something personal. Ockler made me care about Anna, and believe in her character. The setting was wonderful too, Ockler's description was just right (never too much, never too little). Twenty Boy Summer is truly a story you should put up high on your To-Read list, because it's bound to become a favorite.

Highlights: The characters' were all very well developed. I felt Anna's pain, loss, betrayal. Frankie seemed like a realistic character, and her parents as well. I could see everything that happened in this novel actaully happen in life. It felt real, and the writing felt very Sarah Dessen-like. I enjoyed the growth of each character throughout the story.

Lowlights: I just wanted Anna to come clean with Frankie, but in the end, it all works out the best it could.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater Review

Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
 Won, then bought
the cold. 

Grace as spent years watchingg the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf --her wolf-- watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why. 

the heat. 

Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now. 

the shiver. 

For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human--and Grace must fight to keep him--even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future. 
Review: I knew after the first seven pages, I was hooked. I loved how Sam and Grace's relationship was something that grew through the years, so that once they met, it felt real. Sometimes I get annoyed, when all the books I read have the protagonist fall in love out of nowhere (not that it couldn't happen, but you'd think feeling that strongly about someone would take a little time). I really felt like they could have been so in love, just from watching one another from afar...

Out of all the werewolf stories I've read, this is without a doubt my favorite one. The ideas in it make sense, the characters are perfect for the story, and it was all very original. I never felt like I knew how it would end (I just knew how I wanted it to end!). Grace's obsession with the wolves was a little odd to me, but I guess my obsession with books is a little odd to others, so I can't fault her for it. Sam was a sweet, adorable guy, and I couldn't help but to love him. I loved the minor characters, especially Olivia and Isabel (who grew on me eventually). In all, a fantastic novel, and I really need to see about checking out some Maggie Stiefvator's books at the library. If they are anything like Shiver, then I have found a new author to keep an eye on. 

Highlights: The minor characters definitely brought more to the story. They were fun, crazy, scary, and everything in between. Plus, I wasn't expecting to love this novel, I thought I just might like it. But I loved it.

Lowlights: Grace's family really disappointed me, but I thought they were highly realistic. Some people have parents like that, who never notice anything, and it's sad. 

Rating: 5 out of 5


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interview: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Description from Amazon: Five month's ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

1. The premise of HATE LIST is about the after-effects of a school shooting, and your main character's role in it. What is your protagonist dealing with?

Oh, boy, Valerie is dealing with an awful lot. She's been physically wounded...and somehow that manages to be the least of her troubles. She has lingering feelings of love for her boyfriend, Nick, and the grief over him being gone. But there are also feelings that he betrayed her...that she never really knew him at all...and a feeling of horror over what he did. In addition to those things, Val's dealing with repairing her life, which includes dealing with her family's problems, taking a deep look inside herself, and (most importantly...and also perhaps the most difficult) taking a deep look at the reality of the people surrounding her.

2. Was this a difficult novel to write, because of the subject? Did it take you a long time to write?

It's a difficult subject, yes, and it did tend to take a lot out of me to broach such a terrifying and sad topic. It not only necessitated me imagining what it would be like to be involved in something so horrific as a school shooting, but it also meant I had to sort of re-live some difficult times of my own past to tap into Val's feelings. Also, writing this was a little frightening, because it forced me to face, ever day, the fact of what my children's realities are (school isn't necessarily the safe place it used to be, and that's really scary to me as a mom).

Fortunately, I write a weekly humor column and blog, which helped keep me somewhat balanced out. At least two days a week, I had to switch gears and focus on lighter subjects instead.

Hate List took me about five months or so to write, and that was with me not working on it full time. I was also, at the time, writing regularly for a couple websites, and I had my column to work on...and there was also a little "slump time" when I let Hate List bubble in my brain for a while when I got stuck.

3. What inspired you to write this novel?

A lot of things came together to inspire this novel, but I give most the credit to Nickelback's song "If Everyone Cared," which got stuck in my head one night while I was sleeping. I normally hate it when this happens, but this time I woke up with the idea for Hate List, so it worked out okay for me.

4. What are you working on now?

I'm working on a new YA novel...have just ironed out the details and will be making official announcements soon!

5. Any favorite characters? Why that character?

Dr. Hieler is definitely near and dear to my heart, because he is modeled after my amazing husband. But I also just truly love Val. She's real and she's strong and she's vulnerable and I have great hope for her future. weird as this sounds...I fell for Nick right along with Val. He wasn't all evil. He was hurt and messed up and definitely had an evil side to him -- but he also had the capacity to love deeply...and I think I kind of felt sorry for him.

6. Do you think your cover represents your novel well?

I love my cover! Yes, I think it's a perfect fit for Hate List...and there's no mistaking it --you see that cover and there's only one book out there that it could be. What I love most about my cover is that it's clear that the book is going to be "darker." Because I also write humor, I was somewhat afraid people would pick up Hate List expecting something funny. But there's no way you'd pick up a book with this cover and think "comedy." So, yeah. I'm totally happy with it.

7. Anything else you'd like to share?

I'd just like to say thanks to you, Lea, for having me on your blog, and also to the great YA book blogging community for keeping reading alive!

Thanks so much for the interview Jennifer, I'll definitely be picking up Hate List when it hits the shelves on September 1st!


Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen Review

Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen
Released: June 16th, 2009
Pages: 383 (hardcover)
Publisher: Viking Children's Books
Source: Bought
Riding a bike is only one of the many things Auden's missed out on. Even before her parent's divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother.

Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town Colby with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A former star on the bike circuit and a fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen.
After the first chapter, I was internally panicking. Auden seemed like a Macy-clone, whom I love, but far less likable and more uptight. However, as I went on, I found Auden to be different from Macy (The Truth About Forever). Auden's a smart girl, but she has not lived life. I loved how this novel really gives hope to people that haven't done everything they wish they could have in the past. Auden shows you that it's never too late to learn something new, no matter how old you are. The characters took a bit longer for me to grow to like, but I grew to love them, nonetheless.

I actually found Heidi, Auden's new step-mom, to be one of my favorites, oddly enough. Eli turned out to be a sweet, loner guy, and the girls at the boutique are the type you want to be best friends with. Although, at times, I found Auden's relationship with Maggie, Leah and Esther to be unrealistic. I highly doubt they would have liked her as much as they did, so quickly. Auden comes across as cold-shouldered (to me anyway), and I couldn't help but think that she wasn't likable.

Highlights: Isabel and Morgan made a short appearance, which I loved. Dessen got her super-fantabulousness back with this book, and it shows. Also, I love the name Auden. It's so original and beautiful. The nightlife that Dessen explored in this novel was great too, the whole what-goes-on-while-you-are-sleeping concept. And pink! The cover is so daring: pink and red? But it looks great, and it is just as great inside.

Lowlights: Jason. Jason? Really? What about Auden's father? What the hell is wrong with that guy? I realize no one is perfect, but what on earth could Heidi have even saw in him? He cannot even care for his children, he doesn't seem to want them. He wouldn't even compromise on their child's (Thisbe??) name. 

Allusions: Isabel, Morgan and the beach town of Colby from Keeping the Moon. Jason Talbot from The Truth About Forever. (I need to reread and look out for more references, so I'll update once I do)

Rating: 4 out of 5

My reviews of Other Novels by Sarah Dessen:

Keeping the Moon
What Happened to Goodbye

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Contest: Win Meridian or One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer



+1 for commenting with your valid email address
+1 for becoming a follower
+3 for already being a follower
+1 for linking this contest in your sidebar (or blogging in your blog. Only 1 point, and leave a link for me to check!)
+1 If you add me to your blogroll
Contest Ends August 20th, Thursday at Midnight
*US Residents only (sorry!)

Good luck everyone!!!!!


*Comments have been hidden in order to keep my reader's email addresses private. 

Interview: Meridian by Amber Kizer

Tell us a little about yourself.
Amber's bio:

Amber is addicted to trashy reality television, sour candy, loud pop music, and the scent of fresh lilies. Like Auntie in Meridian, Amber finds inspiration in quilting and baking. She likes to write with book-specific playlist going in the background (for this book pine and fir-scented candles and Celtic fold and rock music). She lives on an island with a menagerie of animals and too many yet-to-be-read books.

Amber's debut novel ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME, was named a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age. She loves to visit school and book clubs and she enjoys hearing from readers.

How did you come up with the name Meridian for the main character?
Character names are very important to me and usually that's one of the first things I know about a story-who is in it and what are they called? I knew Meridian's name from the very beginning, but it wasn't until we got to know each other (sounds strange to non-writers, I know!) that I realized her name has all sorts of levels to it. Meridian can mean a midpoint like midday. It can also be the center of an object. It's used when talking about the longitude of Earth. In Chinese medicine Meridians are the energy pathways used in acupuncture. So it can have many connotations-what the reader should take from that is that our Meridian is caught-she lives-in the middle of life and death.

Actually, all the characters in this book have names that "mean" something to me as the writer and might resonate with readers who like to dissect deeper levels in a story.

Tens, the male lead, is a Protector and as such knows things about Meridian that he doesn't really know how he knows. His full name is Tenskawtawa and comes from a Shawnee religious and political leader from the 18th century. He was Tecumseh's brother and he was also known as "The Prophet". With our Tens's backstory, and gifts, I knew it was the perfect choice and it felt right.

Also to find Fenestra and Aternocti, I played with all sorts of different languages and took inspiration from Latin primarily. I wanted names that could be pronounced even without knowing the meaning but here's my definition of both:

Fenestra is a human with Angel DNA that is triggered if they are born at midnight on December 21st. Fenestras are "Windows to the Afterlife"-they literally become windows for dying souls to get to the good place (call it Heaven or Enlightenment or Nirvana).

Aternocti are "Dark Nights," also human with Angel DNA of a different nature. As they are corrupted they lose their humanness, but Aternocti thrive on disaster, fear, destruction, and cruelty. They shepherd souls to a bad place (call it Hell or Ignorance or the Underworld).

What element(s) make(s) Meridian unique?
Honestly, I think it's the origins of the idea. I didn't set out to write a paranormal story and fit al the bits around that. This book is very close to my heart--the idea came from sitting vigil as my grandparents died (about 18 months apart). They both had very different dying experiences, though in both cases, as a family, we choose to work with a wonderful hospice organization (St. Vincent's Inpatient Hospice Care, in Indianapolis, IN).

With everything in life, I like to know as much as possible so I read and did a bunch of research on dying, the physical process itself, the psychological process, and people's near-death experiences.

For this story, I wanted to explore the idea that the "light" people talk about as they die is an actual person and what that might mean. For the story, Meridian looks like just a girl, until a soul is dying and then she becomes the bright light, the window they can take to the afterlife, the next step.

What if everyday of a person's life was that of being a window to beyond? I wanted to give a face to death that wasn't the Reaper's, wasn't something out of nightmares. And saying "God" is there in death doesn't say much--what does that mean really? How does that look?

And from a science aspect we're all energy. Where does that energy go? And isn't a soul of any animal or plant worthy energy? How does that look? How does that fit with the major religions and cultural norms?

And I also wanted to explore some organized religion as fear based--the idea that people hide behind religion because they're afraid or upset or angry. How does that twist what can be profound and comforting in faith. The mob mentality is so easy to manipulate if you're good at it--I wanted a character (Perimo) who was good at it and used it.

Of course readers don't have to know any of that-but that's where I came up with the question I tried to answer in this book!

Did you always want to be an author?
No, I didn't. My freshman year of college I developed a rare nerve disorder in my legs. You can't tell by looking, but I deal with a ton of whacky and weird symptoms including really tough leg pain on a daily basis. So I had to change my plans and figure out how to have a career that was flexible and didn't rely heavily on my legs cooperating on a schedule.

I took a friend's writing workshop and by the end had a story idea I wanted to keep working on, the first manuscript was born! Then it's about studying the craft and practicing it like an Olympic athlete or a concert Painist. It's not easy, it takes discipline and determination to be a published author. It takes writing when you can't even remember how to spell "Muse."

Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere and anything! I love to eavesdrop at the mall or standing in line. You'd be shocked at the things people talk about in public! Magazines, music, art exhibits, trashy TV, history-it's all fair game and really how it comes out onto the page sometimes has very little to do with how it went into my brain. Music plays a large part for me-I always have a playlist for a project that helps me get into the zone that much faster. And scented candles-I have different scents for different books and if I'm burning the wrong one-it totally messes with my mojo!

On the cover, there is a design of skulls in the back that seems to lead into a door. Does this have any meaning for the book or was it simply added by the illustrator? And if it does have a meaning, anything you can share?
Isn't that the coolest cover? And the metallic additions they've added make it glow in the sunlight. I'm so impressed by the designer's vision and the artist's interpretation. And if you take a look at the cover, the girl is a painting. She's not a real girl, she's the artist's idea of what Meridian looks like based on my description in the book.

Meridian is a Fenestra-a Window to the afterlife--so the door behind her is a window like what she becomes for the dying. The skulls are a hint that where there is a good, there is also evil. Everything on this cover is found in the book-even red roses--I'm very lucky-readers know what they're getting when they pick it up!

I hear you love to bake (of which I'm so jealous!). If you could make any kind of cake (the dream design if you will) what would that be? Also, would you ever want to see your book cover on a cake (or have you already)?

Thanks! Yeah, I really find baking a cake is a great way to work on a book-just like gardening or quilting which I do as well-while I've got a story stewing in my brain.

Honestly, I think everyone can bake if they can follow directions-if you can follow instructions for hooking up a new appliance or computer you can do the steps in a recipe. Really. It's chemistry which seems like magic and of course there are levels of difficulty, but anyone who likes to eat food should know how to prepare it!

I have to say I'm totally hooked on TLC's Cake Boss-Buddy is amazing with cake and fondant. I wish I could intern in his bakery (okay, I'll be honest, I wish I could shot in his bakery!) and learn from his expertise. I love getting a request and then trying to translate that into cake-like a Goldfinch or a Bat from the book Bat's in the Library. But the wedding cakes that are modern and goofty are my favorites to play with. Of course, there's more pressure there to come out with a good cake when it's for a wedding! Everybody should play with luster dust and lemon extract-painting the most amazing, beautiful designs on cookies is just so fun and the colors are incredible (and edible!).

A dream design? I guess it would be more like working with a cake artist who I really respect and learning from them-like Buddy on Cake Boss, or Colette Peters who has fabulous cake books (her recipes turn out just like they say they will). CAKES TO DREAM ON is my favorite and a great place to start. I know enough about cakes to be dangerous, but taking it to the next level would be fantastic!

They've come a long way with putting art on cakes and it's actually really simple to order a book cover on a sheet cake-they "print" them with edible food colors. But what I'd really love is to have a Food Network Challenge with four of the best cake artists interpreting Meridian in cake! That would be awesome! I'm so in to judge that competition!

Your two young adult novels are very different. Do you prefer the end result of one over the other? Did you have more fun writing one than the other?
The funny thing about being a writer is that I'm always in love with whatever project I'm working on in the moment-which means I'm years ahead of what readers are looking at and reading! Trying to pick a favorite is like trying to pick a favorite flavor of ice cream-not possible!

Do you find yourself relating to any of your characters? If so, how?
There are always parts of characters that I feel on a gut level--Gert cracks me up. She hates high school and I did too (for different reasons in some cases but still loathed most of those years!). Meridian's struggle with grief and death is something I completely understand-again differently, but it's the emotions of the characters that I relate to more than anything else.

Tell us about your most recent/upcoming release.
Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra-a Window to the Afterlife. She lives between life and death and must shepherd dying souls across. Of course, it's not easy and her own life hangs in the balance as she learns how to do this. Here's what's on the jacket:

Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems that wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family's home-and though she's untouched, Meridian's body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been hiding for her entire life: Meridian is a Fenestra, the half-angel-half-human link between the living and the dead.

It's crucial that Meridian learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife-how to help people who died. Only then can she help preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But, before she can do that, Meridian must come to terms with her ability, outsmart the charismatic preacher who's taken over Revelation, and maybe-if she can accept her sworn protector, Tens, for who he is-fall in love. Meridian and Tens face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. But together, they have the power to outsmart evil.

Readers can find the first three chapters of MERIDIAN on

Thanks so much for a fantastic interview Amber! I personally love watching Food Networks Last Cake Standing! Also, I thought I was excited for MERIDIAN before, but now it sounds even better! I can't wait until August 11th!