Minute Review: Epic Fail (Claire LaZebnik)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 295
Publisher: August 2nd 2011 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780061921261
Genre: retelling
Source: my own copy


Epic FailAt Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

- As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school--not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
- As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn't exactly on everyone's must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise's beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince's best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.






























I love a good retelling. Especially when the retelling is of one of my favorite books. Epic Fail is Pride and Prejudice in a new, more modern setting.


What you will find in Epic Fail is a fun twist on the setting and character roles. The story is straight forward-- obviously. There really isn't much that would be considered a surprise if you're already familiar with the classic. The one twist I thought was clever as making Ms. Bennet the principal of the sisters' high school. That really allowed for her to play up the annoying, busy-body role.

One thing worth noting is that the classic Elizabeth Bennet didn't come across as strong in the retelling. We all know Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. She was a cut above the rest. But in Epic Fail she seems to blend in with the cliche of girls caught gawking at a pretty face. Oh well. It was still a fun read.







Release Day Book Blitz: Louder Than Words (Iris St. Clair)



Louder Than Words
Release Date: 09/16/14
Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:
Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson's life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her. 

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can't let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm's length.

But by the time Rex's charm wears down her resistance, it's too late. He's put Ellen on the "just friends" shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it's the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.


Get your copy:

Excerpt from Louder Than Words: "Milkboarding in the Cafeteria"



I finish chewing and begin to sputter something about how she’s imagining it when a white curtain of liquid cascades down the front of my face. Shocked, I jump up from my seat. “What the … ”

Two of the girls from the Easy Chair club stand next to me, one with an upended milk carton in her hand. They’re laughing and everyone at the nearby tables is watching and snickering as I snatch up a handful of napkins to wipe my face.

“No use crying over spilt milk,” the one who poured the milk says.

Her friend says, “That’s for Mr. Hamer, you lying bitch.”

“What’d you do that for? Are you crazy?” Leanne bolts around to my side of the table. “You have no idea what’s going on!”

“I know a liar when I see one,” Milk-Pourer’s friend says.

“And a drug addict,” Milk Girl tacks on. “Maybe she thought she’d blackmail Mr. Hamer into letting her use his lab to cook up some meth.”

Milk Girl never sees the hands that shove her to the ground. In the background, someone is screaming. I’m too busy waterboarding Milk Girl with my own dairy beverage to care.

Milk Girl wails beneath the stream of liquid, thrashing her legs but seeing as how I’m sitting on her body with her arms pinned between my thighs and her sides she’s not going anywhere until I let her up.

Or someone pulls me off.

Milk Girl’s rescuer sets me on my feet but retains an iron lock on my arms.

Mr. Delvecchio lowers his face to mine. “Ellen!”

I peer around him, my pulse pounding through my veins, and watch as another teacher helps Milk Girl to her feet.

“These two started it,” Leanne says to Delvecchio in my defense.

“The four of you, to the office! Now! The rest of you, return to your tables!” Delvecchio’s bark sends the crowd scurrying, all but one that is. Rex has arrived and stands nearby watching me, his brows puckered, his mouth open.

“What’s going on?” he asks.

I’m too mortified and agitated to answer him. Delvecchio nudges me forward. I need no further encouragement to walk on, away from Rex, out of the cafeteria, away from all the dog-piling students who smell blood.





About the Author
Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that's another bio.)
No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.
In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year "fish or cut bait" dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Author Links:
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Book Blitz Organized by:


Blog Tour: Rose and the Magician's Mask

The Deets:
Audience: Middle Grades
Pages: 224
Publisher: September 2nd 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN: 9781492604303
Genre: fantasy, magic, mystery, historical fiction
Source: eARC from Netgalley


Rose and the Magician's Mask  
Rose is now a fully fledged magician's apprentice-will her new magic be enough to find the dangerous magician's mask?

When a precious mask of unimaginable power is stolen from the royal palace, Rose suspects that dark magicians are at work and that danger looms. The race to stop the evil thieves will take Rose to the mysterious city of Venice, where nothing is quite what it seems. Can Rose use her magic to find the terrible mask before its true powers are revealed?








Our dear Rose is changing. She is growing and learning more about herself, including accepting who she is regardless of her unknown past. I liked how Rose struggled with the idea of not having a family, and yet she still stayed true to herself. That is one of the qualities I think I like most about her, and other readers will appreciate it to. In a culture so set on blending in, Rose shows it's okay to stand out.

The quick wit and fun humor in the characters is back. Freddy still does silly things that gets him admonished by Gus, and made me chuckle. There were also some new characters in Rose and the Magician's Mask. I am very curious to see how Ms. F plays out in the future books, because she is going to be huge.

My absolute favorite part of this book in the series has to be the fantastic setting-- Venice! The detail that was given to make it both realistic and magical was great. I loved every page!


My only gripe, though, would be the that the climax ended suddenly. It didn't seem enough to have Gossamer disappear so quickly and without much of a struggle. Maybe that's to help set up the next book? Is he really gone? Who knows... until next time.

Overall, Rose and the Magician's Mask is another success! It's perfect for middle grade readers looking for a strong female lead and a magical adventure.


Fantasy League by Mike Lupica blog tour

I am thankful to have the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for Mike Lupica's Fantasy League. While I did not have time to read the book prior to the tour, I can say I am a fan of his previous books. Mike Lupica has a gift for writing books for teenage boys. I cannot tell you how many copies of his books I have bought for my classroom library over the years. They were always the most coveted books for the male readers. I am happy to say that he has a new book coming out this fall: Fantasy League. It's sure to be as well received as his many other novels.


Author Bio

Mike Lupica is the 31 bestselling author of many popular books for young readers, including QB 1, Heat, Travel Team, Million-Dollar Throw, and The Underdogs. He has carved out a niche as the sporting world's finest storyteller. 
Mike Lupica has been called "the greatest sports writer for middle school readers." He is the author of multiple bestselling books, including Heat, Travel Team, Million-Dollar Throw, and The Underdogs. As a sports columnist for New York's Daily News, a host of his own show on ESPN Radio, and a weekly member of ESPN's The Sports Reporters, which is televised nationally, he has proven that he can write for and speak to sports fans of all ages and stripes. Mr. Lupica lives in Connecticut with his wife and four children.

Book Summary
Twelve-year-old Charlie is a fantasy football guru. He may be just a bench warmer for his school's football team, but when it comes to knowing and loving the game, he's first-string. He even becomes a celebrity when his podcast gets noticed by a sports radio host who plays Charlie's fantasy picks for all of Los Angeles to hear. Soon Charlie befriends the elderly owner of the L.A. Bulldogs -- a fictional NFL team -- and convinces him to take a chance on an aging quarterback. After that, watch out . . . it's press conferences and national fame as Charlie becomes a media curiosity and source of conflict for the Bulldogs general manager, whose job Charlie seems to have taken. It's all a big much for a kid just trying to stay on top of his grades and maintain his friendship with his verbal sparring partner, Anna.

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