Author Interview: Stacey Kade (The Ghost and the Goth)

Today I am so honored to post my author interview with Stacey Kade, who wrote the really fun book The Ghost and the Goth.  Read my review here.  I usually don't like books with ghosts in them, but I loved this one!  It's got mystery, love, family issues, jealousy and more!  My questions for Stacey are in purple.

Before writing The Ghost and the Goth, you were an award-winning copywriter. Can you tell us about your journey from copywriter to writing fiction?
Actually, I've been writing fiction pretty much since I graduated from college, so I was doing both for a long time. It takes a while--at least it did for me--to get the skills and practice you need to write a book that's, well, readable! :) I wrote my first book back in 1999-2000 and only a few friends saw it. It was so not publishable! But I learned a lot from that experience, and I have worked to improving my writing and editing skills with every book.

Alona personifies high school's typical "mean girl." Did you base her, or any of your other characters, on real people?
I don't base characters off of real people, no. But you see characteristics in people that you want your fictional people to have. Does that make sense? So, Alona is not based on any mean girl in particular, but I had a great deal of experience with mean girls in high school (and beyond--hey, they don't go away just because you graduate!) and I paid attention to how they operated, how they thought. Mainly because I was trying to avoid them!

Do you have a specific time or place when you do your best writing?
I work most days out of my home office, and morning is usually best. But if I really need to focus and get pages done, I love working in the cafe area of my Barnes and Noble. It forces me to concentrate on writing, and when I want to take a break, I can people-watch to my heart's content.

You have a great list of recommended reads on your website. What are you reading now? What's your all-time favorite book?
Right now, I'm reading A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read, and it's excellent. But if I'm not finished with it by Tuesday, I'll probably end up putting it aside for Mockingjay!!! :) All-time favorite book...going strictly by number of times I've read and re-read it, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

What's next for you?
The sequel to The Ghost and the Goth is called Queen of the Dead and it will be out in June 2011. I'm working on the third book now as well as a couple of new ideas.

Thank you, Kelli, for having me here today!
Visit Stacey Kade's webiste here.

Book Review: The People of Sparks (The Ember Series #2) by Jeanne DuPrau

The People of Sparks picks up where The City of Ember leaves off. Lina and Doon have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above, and it isn’t long before they are followed by the other inhabitants of Ember. The Emberites soon come across a town where they are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep. But the town’s resources are limited and it isn’t long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it’s up to Lina and Doon to discover who’s behind the vandalism and why, before it’s too late.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to.  I found it by chance my last trip to the library and picked it up, wanting to find out how the people of Ember fare above ground.  The City of Ember was good, but I thought The People of Sparks was even better. 

One thing I've really been attuned to lately is the message middle grade and YA authors send to their readers.  Jeanne DuPrau sends a great, positive message to her readers, done in an age-appropriate, tasteful way.  

There are two more books in this series; however, this book does not have a cliffhanger ending like the first book did.  If my library doesn't get the next two books, I think I'll be okay stopping with The People of Sparks.  While I do enjoy this series, I'm just too old to buy middle grade books! 

Just One Gripe: 
Once I got past the fact that I am almost 30 years old reading middle grade fiction, I really enjoyed this one.  

The Best Thing About This Book: 
The positive messages.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

As this is a middle grade book, I am scoring it against other middle grade books.  A five star middle grade book is not equivalent to a five star adult book, just because I prefer reading YA and adult fiction.
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Total Score:  24/25

Book Review: The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. 

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.

My favorite thing about reading historical fiction is learning something new.  When I used to think about the royalty of England, I never thought about the constant struggle they endured to stay on the throne.  

The White Queen tells the story of King Edward, who was a member of the York family,  and the battle between the Yorks and the Lancasters for the throne. The families claiming ownership of the throne were, of course, very prosperous landowners.  The battles for the crown involved the families requiring the people who lived and worked on their land to fight for them.  Whoever could raise the biggest, best army won.  I can't believe I never knew or thought about this issue before!

The White Queen is told in the first person, which I just love, and is not as difficult a read as I expected.  I started and finished it on the way home from Destin (a seven hour trip).  It was just what the doctor ordered to break me out of my reading slump!  I would recommend this book to anyone.

Just One Gripe: 
The names.  There were several names used over and over (Richard, Thomas, Elizabeth, Edward, Henry, etc) and it became difficult to keep the characters straight.  This was not Philippa Gregory's fault, as this novel is based on historical facts, but it was confusing at times.  

The Best Thing About This Book: 
The narrative, the writing style, the development of the romance, I loved all of it.  I think my favorite thing is how Gregory weaves the legend of Melusina into the lives of Elizabeth and her relatives.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters:  5/5
Plot: 5/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Total Score:  25/25

Book Review: The Secret of the Scarlet Stone (A Gabby Girls Adventure Novel #1) by T.L. Clarke

In My Mailbox (8/29/10)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  I love visiting my blogging friends' mailboxes and finding new books to read!

For Review:

Private by James Patterson (thank you Mom for passing this book on to me!)
 Witch and Wizard by James Patterson (thank you to Emma Michaels for the recommendation)

Thank You Note:
From Olivia Byrd Cooley, who wrote Miss Hildreth Wore Brown. She sent me the nicest thank you note, written in brown ink on pink and brown stationary (which coordinates with her book cover!).  It is the second thank-you note I've received from an author, which is very exciting.  I showed it to my mom and she said, "That's what good Southern manners are all about!"  
What's in your mailbox this week?

Book Review: Her Mother's Hope (Marta's Legacy #1) by Francine Rivers

Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive.

Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

There's only one thing I love more than historical fiction, and that's Francine Rivers'  or Liz Curtis Higgs' historical Christian fiction.  Some Christian fiction is just too sappy for me---hey, it's hard to go from the sexuality of Halfway to the Grave to a book where the main characters feel like they have to repent if they look at each other too long (some Christian fiction feels that way).

But Francine Rivers doesn't do that. Her Christian fiction romances have more feeling in one kiss than the whole of chapter 32 in One Foot in the Grave.  Oh yes, I did just say that!  If you don't believe me, then read Her Mother's Hope, Redeeming Love, or The Mark of the Lion trilogy and see for yourself!

Her Mother's Hope tells the story of two women from childhood to adulthood.  They face many trials but are strong in their faith throughout.  The way Rivers writes the mother-daughter relationships reminded me a lot of Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, in a good way.  As is typical with a Francine Rivers book, I read the whole thing in one sitting (despite it being 483 pages!) gasped aloud in shock and cried several times.  Her Mother's Hope was one of the best books I have read this year---definitely in the top five.

Fans of Kristin Hannah, Jodi Piccoult,  Ken Follett, Nicholas Sparks, historical fiction, and of course Christian fiction fans will love this one.

Just One Gripe: 
I really can't think of one! I guess if I had to pick something, I'd say that I can't stand waiting for the second half of the story.  The conclusion to Marta's Legacy, Her Daughter's Dream, is due out in October 14, 2010.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
It is so moving.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Total Score:  25/25

I Can't Wait For:

Blog Hop (8/27/10)

The Blog Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

We use a five star rating system here at I'd So Rather Be Reading.  Why?  Because we appreciate honest opinions.

Didn't finish it.

Finished but did not like.

It was okay.

Slightly better than okay.

Liked it.
Would recommend.

It was really good.
It was great.

It was close to perfection.

Stalker Worthy: It was perfection and I can't stop thinking about it!  This is the highest honor a book can get here at I'd So Rather Be Reading.

I'm off to hop around and see how other people rate their books!  Have a great weekend everyone!  Oh, don't forget to sign up for our August giveaways, ending Aug 31st.  You can win a "Fictional MEN Never Let You Down" t-shirt or an autographed copy of Close to His Heart by Leonora Pruner (historical Christian fiction)!


One Lovely Blog Award

We have recently received the One Lovely Blog award nine times!  A big thank you to:
Brandi of BLKosiner's Book Blog 
Scoot of See Scoot Read 
Bailey of IB Book Blogging 
Danielle of Every Last Page 
Rummanah of Books in the Spotlight 
Tina of Book Couture
Elena of Elena's Book Cafe
Morgan of The Paperback Princess
Stephany of Stuck Between the Pages 
for giving us this award!

The rules for this award are:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are some blogs we've recently discovered and really enjoy:

With Love, 


From Dusk 'Till Dawn Read.A.Thon in Progress

I am a night owl, always have been and more than likely always will be... so when I came across this read-a-thon on Jami's blog (YA Addict) I knew I had to sign up! I will be participating each night and will post a "results" posting at the end of the challenge. I would say wish me luck but I think my family will need luck more than I will... momma is out of order this week!  

Here is my list of books so far (I am hopeful.. Kelli don't laugh) and why I chose them:

(Review) Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
To prepare myself for the final installment
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Because I have been anxiously waiting for 2 years! Kelli & myself are at great odds when it comes to Peeta and gale (yes I purposely did not capitalize his name... & I spelled in correctly Kelli). See Catching Fire Second Opinion Review for the battle of words.

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
It seems like a quick, spooky read and becasue this is an ARC that we received that needs to be reviewed.

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman
I won both of these from a giveaway @ YA Addict!  and I just got them in the mail. And I am a sucker for any type of love story.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
I bought this one because I thought the cover was so cute, then I gave it to Kelli to read and she told me it was my kind of read ;0)

... just in case you are new to I'd So Rather Be Reading... I (Natalie) openly admit that Kelli is my "filter"... don't be jealous, you can benefit by reading her reviews :0)

Waiting on Wednesday (8/25/10)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

It's kind of hard to choose a book this week, after the emotional roller coaster of Mockingjay that we've all been on.  After some reflection, I decided on:
Release Date: February 22, 2011

Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series is one of my favorites and I can't wait to read the next installment!  What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

This is a spoiler-free review.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

This is a spoiler-free review.  Natalie and I may do a review with spoilers included later, once more people have had a chance to read Mockingjay.  I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, so I'll keep this initial review general.

Anyone who has read the first two books knows that they are full of action---they are pretty much non-stop the entire time.  I was expecting the same out of Mockingjay, and was very surprised when the whole book felt slow.  It was almost like the book was a transitional, world-building piece that had all of the action in the last 40 pages.  I found that to be very disappointing.  You know what the tone of the book reminded me of?  Sookie's raw emotions in Charlaine Harris' Dead in the Family and Zoey Redbird's shattered soul in PC Cast's Burned.  

Katniss is not her usual fighting self in Mockingjay.  She has been almost irreparably damaged by the events in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and a lot of the book focuses on her emotional upheaval and subsequent attempts at healing from injuries both physical and emotional.  

The world-building was, as usual, superb, but the plot was too predictable.  The first two books transcended the YA genre while this one definitely had a simpler, YA plot.  I predicted all of the ending events well before they occurred---something I hate to be right at!  

The whole book has left me somewhat unsatisfied---don't get me wrong, it's still a very good read, but it's not as good as what I expected.  After two years of waiting for the series to be concluded, I expected more out of Mockingjay.  I was ready for it to be as stalker-worthy as The Hunger Games and Catching Fire; however, the first two books were much better. 
Just One Gripe: 
The plot predictability. That, and the predictable ending are what left me so unsatisfied.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
I can't say what I liked best without spoiling anything---I'll just give you two page numbers to my favorite parts:  page 165 and page 197.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 
Hmmm, some parts did get very gory.

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Total Score:  19/25

Book Review: Close to His Heart by Leonora Pruner

In this eighteenth-century romance, a young and naive Grace Carstares plans a midnight elopement with a handsome stableman with suspicious motives. Their plans are thwarted, however, when Grace discovers a mysterious stranger lying guard at her bedroom threshold. All is explained the next morning when, to her dismay, Grace learns her nighttime guardian is young Lord Buryhill, a suitor approved by her father who caught rumor of her misguided romance and decided to protect her from ruining her life.

Determined to marry this particular young woman, Lord Henry Buryhill comes to deeply love Grace and hopes to win her love in return. Yet buried beneath this determination is his own abandoned hope that he would meet a woman who might share his commitment to God.

Henry wins Grace’s heart as well as her hand in marriage. But Henry cannot overcome his nagging fears that Grace clings to her affection for the stableman. His distrust darkly clouds their wedding night and shatters their hopes for a joy-filled union. Unaware of the reasons driving her husband’s suspicions and jealousy, a devastated Grace withdraws from Henry, busying herself in gardening and taking solace in God’s love.

An ensuing pony-cart accident, through which Grace loses all memory of former things, presents both Grace and Henry the opportunity to either abandon their shattered marriage or begin anew. A guilt-ridden Henry is determined to win Grace’s heart once again, but Grace must decide whether to accept the courtship of a complete stranger or continue her life in the small community among the people who found her and nursed her back from a head injury. Will Henry’s determination, forgiveness, and tender care be sufficient to rebuild a foundation for their marriage?

Publisher:  Nordskog Publishing
Release Date:  March 25, 2010
Age Group:  Adult
Pages:  368

My favorite genre is historical fiction, seconded by Christian fiction.  So, when I found out that Close to His Heart is historical Christian fiction I was really excited to read it.  

Close to His Heart is set in the 1700s and is about a young couple navigating the ups and downs of married life along with Grace's memory loss.  I really enjoyed this book!  The love story was sweet and touching, all of the characters were very well-developed and grew throughout the course of the story, and I can tell that Pruner did her research in keeping the story historically accurate.  

Grace and Henry spend most of the book attempting to overcome hurt feelings, disappointed hopes, and disillusionment over a huge misunderstanding the night they get engaged.  I like knowing more than the characters and having to wait for them to catch on!  

Don't judge Close to His Heart by the playful tone of the cover---it really is a deep, heartfelt read.  I would recommend it to all fans of historical and Christian fiction, and also fans of romance.  If you're looking for the bedroom scenes typical of romance novels, be aware that this is a very clean romance, which I find to be a nice change of pace. 

Just One Gripe: 
This is a third-person narrativeMy only complaint is that it felt repetitive at times.  We experience an event as the character goes through it, then we experience as that character reflects on it, and sometimes we experience it a third time when the character relays the event to another character.  Grace's memory loss was the only part where it really got to me---the rest of the time I appreciated the different perspective gained from the retelling.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
I just loved the development of the love story and the ending.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Ending: 5/5
Total Score:  19/25

In My Mailbox (8/22/10)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

 For Review:
 The Victor by Marlayne Giron
Pride in a Prayer by Charles Soto

The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory
The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

What's in your mailbox this week?

Giveaway Reminders

Hey everybody!

Don't forget to sign up for our two really great August giveaways!  Both giveaways are open to the US and Canada and both end August 31, 2010.

Win a "Fictional MEN Never Let You Down" t-shirt.  We will give away up to seven shirts!  We are giving away five for sure!  This t-shirt is so cute, and fun to wear.  We get compliments on ours all the time...except our husbands just roll their eyes whenever they see us in these shirts!!

Win an autographed copy of Close to His Heart by Leonora Pruner.  This is a great historical Christian romance novel!

Click the links to sign up! 

Second Opinion: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I can't believe that after two years of waiting, Mockingjay is almost here!  In keeping with my habit of re-reading really great books before the next in the series comes out, here's my second opinion on Catching Fire.  

Click here to see my original review of Catching Fire.  

Things I like about Catching Fire:
I love it all---see my second opinion on The Hunger Games to find out more.

Things I don't like about Catching Fire:
I really can't think of anything!  Suzanne Collins has me in a frenzy for Mockingjay with the way she ended Catching Fire

Something New:
Since I don't have much to say in this review, I've decided to do something different.  It’s no secret here at I’d So Rather Be Reading that Natalie and I are a house divided on The Hunger Games teams. I am Team Gale while she is Team Peeta.

I went into the re-read with an open mind with regards to the love story. I was fully prepared to soften my feelings on Peeta, if not change teams completely. I have heard from many Team Peeta the same complaint: “I just don’t know Gale well enough.”  Okay, I said. I see your point. So, during my re-read, I found some things I’d like to share.  The following is my basis for being Team Gale:

A Case for Gale:
We’re at the very beginning of The Hunger Games when we first hear about Gale. The Hunger Games, page 6:
“In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale. I can feel the muscles in my face relaxing, my pace quickening as I climb the hills to our place, a rock ledge overlooking a valley. A thicket of berry bushes protects it from unwanted eyes. The sight of him waiting there brings on a smile. Gale says I never smile except in the woods.”
One thing I really like about Gale is that he has known Katniss for so long---six years by the start of Catching Fire. She has had an easy partnership with him through that time and is close with his family.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Catching Fire about Katniss and Gale.  Read it and weep, Natalie! 

Page 5:
“The only time I really get to see Gale now is on Sundays, when we meet up in the woods to hunt together. It’s still the best day of the week…”
Page 96:
"His skin, his whole being, radiates heat from being so near the fire, and I close my eyes, soaking in his warmth.  I breathe in the smell of snow-dampened leather and smoke and apples, the smell of all those wintry days we shared before the Games.  I don't try to move away.  Why should I, anyway?  His voice drops to a whisper.  'I love you.'"
Page 117:

"Gale is mine.  I am his.  Anything else is unthinkable."
Page 121:
"I have chosen Gale and the rebellion, and a future with Peeta is the Capitol's design, not mine."
Page 125:
"Of course, I love Gale."
Page 185:
"Gale knows I chose him over Peeta when I didn't make a run for it." 
Page 220:
"...but Peeta wasn't Hob the way the rest of us were....the last thing I want is his sympathy and comfort.  I haven't changed my mind about saving him in the arena, but I don't owe him more than that."
Page 390:
'Until one time, I open my eyes and find someone I cannot block out looking down at me.  Someone who will not plead, or explain, or think he can alter my design with entreaties, because he alone really knows how I operate.  'Gale,' I whisper."
If that's not proof, then I don't know what is!  I'm Team Gale because Katniss has always been sure of him.  She doesn't question her feelings or have to fake things the way she does with Peeta.  There are times where she talks about her feelings for Peeta, but she never outright says she loves him.  I know that she cares for Peeta and is confused about her feelings for him, but with Gale she can always be herself. 

Yes, I want Katniss to end up with Gale, but I also want Peeta to be happy too.  I have a sinking suspicion that Suzanne Collins will not give us our neatly tied up happily ever after, though.  I can honestly say I have never been this excited about a book as I am about Mockingjay!

Still not convinced?  Read this post about the men of The Hunger Games by Persnickety Snark.  Or this one by Ava at Book InfinityOr this one by Danielle at Every Last Page

I want to know what you think: are you Team Gale or Team Peeta and why?

Original Score/Second Opinion Score: