February 26th, 2008

Lucy Woodward, happy

Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone

Emily Bennet wants to take the world by storm. She came to this decision after seeing a hurricane with her name make the headlines between her eighth and ninth grade years. She liked seeing her name in print, and she wanted to rock in her own way. Oh, she doesn't want to be as destructive as the hurricane, but she wants to make an impact. She wants to rock. Now, three years later, she just might get her chance.

Right from the start, Emily tells readers that "[j]unior year was supposed to be all about Brian Harrington, the prom, and becoming editor in chief of the Crestview Courier." Brian, a basketball player, is literally the boy next door. Unfortunately, his most recent girlfriend is Emily's ex-best friend. Brandy and Randy Clausen were Emily's best friends until the summer before eighth grade, when they suddenly decided Emily wasn't cool any longer. They've sent disapproving looks and snide remarks her way ever since. Luckily, Emily found encouragement in Ms. Keenan, the journalism teacher, and friendship in Lindsay, a classmate whose dedication to the piano matches Emily's dedication to the school newspaper.

When she attempts to out-scoop fellow staff reporter Daniel Cummings and do an investigative report - okay, it was kind of an excuse to see what her crush and his teammates were doing - things don't go according to plan. Happily, Emily soon finds herself getting closer to Brian while playing courier for Brian's lively grandmother Lily and her would-be suitor, a lonely cruise captain. Brian is all that she ever hoped for - but what if she sets her sights higher? In her efforts to become co-editor of the paper, Emily must write a piece on the upcoming prom with Daniel. She is surprised to find depth in the boy while they perform community service at a local nursing home. The two come up with a plan that not only combines their two current "jobs" but also promotes compassion and individuality rather than wealth and popularity. As a result of this, Emily finally learns how to rock.

Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone is a delightful dramedy. Every chapter has a headline worthy of both hurricane and human. (Examples include "Emily Poses Little Threat" and "Emily Changes Course.") Cirrone allows her protagonist to have levity throughout the book and integrity with the going gets tough. Give this book to amateur reporters, reluctant readers, and romantic comedy fans. With journalistic endeavors, romantic mishaps, and a catchy title, Prom Kings and Drama Queens will be appreciated by young adults and the young-at-heart.

Further reading:

Read my interview with author Dorian Cirrone.

I also strongly recommend Dorian's previous novel Dancing in Red Shoes Can Kill You, especially to dancers and dance aficionados.

If you liked Goy Crazy by Melissa Schorr, you'll like Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone.

If you'd like another story about high school reporters, read the dramatic The Alison Rules by Catherine Clark.

For more fictional promenades, check out my prom booklist.

For a true story, try Wonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School by Michael Bamberger, a reporter who got the inside scoop on one school's prom.
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Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden

Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden is a harrowing trip into pure terror.

One wrong turn can change your life forever . . .

Michael and Jillian Dansky seemed to have it all -- a happy marriage, two successful careers, a bright future. But late one Halloween evening, driving home from a masquerade, Michael momentarily nods off behind the wheel -- and wakes to find everything changed.

Standing by his car is the little girl he came within a breath of running down. She leads Michael to her "home," an empty house haunted by whispers, and sends him away with a whisper of her own: "Come find me." But in the weeks that follow, it's clear that someone -- or something -- doesn't want Michael to find her. And when one morning, a cruel, vindictive woman awakens in the guise of his wife, Michael must now search not only for the lost girl but for a way to find the Jillian he's always loved -- or die trying.

"WILDWOOD ROAD is a brilliant novel of supernatural suspense that reminded me of the early classics by Ira Levin--think ROSEMARY'S BABY and you won't be disappointed. There's no baby, but oh baby, there is one creepy little lost girl that kept me turning the pages long after I should have gone to bed. This one's a keeper." -- Stephen King

Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden is now available in a new mass market paperback edition from Bantam Spectra.

For more information on this and other stories by Christopher Golden, please visit http://www.christophergolden.com
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden

The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden is a compelling and uniquely original work of paranormal suspense in which one man finds himself trapped in a web of ever-shifting reality which threatens to remake the whole of the world -- unless he can find a way to stop it.

For Will James, facing his tenth high school reunion is far from his finest hour, especially since his life has not gone exactly as he planned. Dumped at the altar by his high school sweetheart and with his dreams of being a prize-winning reporter dashed by his job at a Boston tabloid, he is not sure he is ready to face his former peers.But what he does find at the reunion is far more than he bargained for. He soon learns that one of his buddies had died several years back -- even though Will had received an e-mail from him only a few days before. It is not long before other people Will was convinced were alive are turning out to be dead as well, or married to other people, or childless where they used to have children. And new memories are swarming in to replace what Will is convinced was his old life, until he no longer knows what is real and what is not. The only thing he does know for certain is that he has to figure out why he alone remembers snatches of another life before everything dissolves into this new, darker reality.

The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden is available in mass market paperback and trade paperback from Bantam Spectra.

For more information on this and other stories by Christopher Golden, please visit http://www.christophergolden.com

Sneak Peek
Read the first three chapters.

My Review
The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden is my favorite book which employs time travel. It is also one of my favorite books written by Golden, which is saying a lot, considering 1) how much I love his books and 2) how many books he's written.

What adult hasn't wondered what life would be like if things had been different in high school, and what teen hasn't wondered what they'd do when they grew up? Take those questions, those ideas, and darken them, then insert the twists of tragedy and forgotten (or altered) memories, and you've got The Boys are Back in Town.

When Will attends his ten-year reunion, he expects to catch up with old friends, not discover that one is dead. The victim is someone with whom he recently communicated, yet everyone else claims died in high school. In the blink of an eye, Will remembers the event, yet retains his 'regular' memories as well.

As the story continues, more memories are revealed. These aren't suppressed memories, but rather new-old memories. Altered memories. Someone or something is changing the minds of Will and his old friends. Finding the source - and the strength to stop it - will lead him on an imaginative journey readers will always remember.

Personal Notes

This is one of my favorite Christopher Golden books and one of my favorite horror/time travel books, period. (Check out my time travel booklist.)

If you know me - if you really know me - you might be able to figure out how this book connects to me. (Notice that I said "to," not "with.") Think you know? Leave a comment below!

Check out the roundtable discussion of The Boys are Back in Town between moi and Courtney Summers.

Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone

Ballet dancers know that talent isn't always enough to keep their career afloat. They have to have determination, dedication, passion, and technical accuracy, give amazing auditions and performances - and maintain a certain physique. There are those who adhere to strict diets in order to maintain a certain weight, and some sadly resort to dangerous tactics to keep a slim figure, jeopardizing their health AND their career in doing so.

But what if a healthy, talented young dancer is naturally curvy?

When teen ballerina Kayla becomes, how shall we say, more shapely up top, a teacher recommends that she have a reduction surgery. News spreads quickly at her performing arts school, causing a private matter to become even more public, more obvious, and more embarrassing. Then a pair of red shoes appear with a note bearing the book's title. With her career and perhaps her life in danger, and with her peers (especially the boys) openly and enjoyably discussing her appearance, Kayla becomes uncomfortable in the limelight.

This book offers revelations and relevé, music and art, costumes and conflict. Years of rigorous training has made Kayla nothing if not determined, and, with the support of her sister and a few other supporting players, she holds her head up high and retains both her integrity and her love for dance. Dorian Cirrone has written a story to celebrate, all about sticking up for yourself (and others), sticking to your dreams, and having a positive self-image.

For more pointed stories about ballet and other forms of dance, check out my I Am a Dancer booklist.

Read my interview with Dorian Cirrone and my review of her novel Prom Kings and Drama Queens.
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Lucy Woodward, happy

Interview: Dorian Cirrone

Dorian Cirrone has a knack for writing thoughtful, compassionate stories that will encourage teen readers to respect themselves and others. Her protagonists dare to dream, even if they stumble through their paces or fumble around their peers. In Cirrone's new novel Prom Kings and Drama Queens, high school student Emily wants to take the world by storm not by getting a crown or winning a popularity contest, but by being herself. In her previous YA release, teen ballerina Kayla is warned that Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You. She is also told that her developing body will hurt her career, but she finds the support to hold her head up high and keep dancing.

Reading Dorian's books make me want to tour jeté around the room, then do the hula. Admittedly, it doesn't take much (or any) prompting to make me dance at any given time, but these particular movements would be in honor of Emily, Kayla, and Dorian - three ladies who dance to the beat of their hearts.

First, something easy - Readers have seen your name, but how should they say it? Which syllables are accented?

I answer to anything close, but the real pronunciation is: DOOR-ee-in sir-OWN-ee. People tend to drop the "ee" at the end of my last name.

How can shy folks like Emily summon up the courage to rock out?

Wow, that's a good question. I was very shy as a kid and I think being forced into situations where I felt uncomfortable helped. As a junior in high school, I started teaching a few dance classes to little ones at the studio where I studied. In the beginning, I was just awful – talking too softly, not exuding enough authority. But after I was forced to do it week after week, I soon rose to the occasion. The next year I was given more classes, and was soon teaching students twice my age. I think it's essential to force yourself out of your comfort zone in order to summon the courage to excel at anything. I still have to do that.

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Read my review of Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You.

Read my review of Prom Kings and Drama Queens.

Visit Dorian Cirrone's official website.

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