Review: New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

A young Southern woman of modest means suddenly finds herself thrust into New York’s high society when she discovers that she is the illegitimate daughter of a recently-deceased billionaire.

Savannah Morgan had high hopes. She dreamed of becoming a writer and escaping her South Carolina town, where snooty debutantes have always looked down on her. But at twenty-four, she’s become a frustrated ex-cheerleader who lives with her mother and wonders if rejecting a marriage proposal was a terrible mistake. Then Savannah’s world is shaken when she learns the father she never knew is Edward Stone, a billionaire media mogul who has left Savannah his fortune on the condition that she move to Manhattan and work at his global news corporation. Putting aside her mother’s disapproval, Savannah dives head first into a life of wealth and luxury that is threatened by Edward’s other children–the infuriatingly arrogant Ned and his sharp-tongued sister, Caroline, whose joint mission is to get rid of Savannah. She deals with their treachery along with her complicated love life, and she eventually has to decide between Jack, a smooth and charming real estate executive, and Alex, a handsome aspiring writer/actor. Savannah must navigate a thrilling but dangerous city while trying to figure out what kind of man her father truly was.

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Lorraine Zago Rosenthal’s sophomore offering, New Money, is a departure from her first book, Other Words for Love, but both novels have the same sense of heart and feature a main character fighting to stay true to herself.
New Money begins in the small South Carolina town where the main character, Savannah, was raised by her single mother. Savannah, now 24, often wonders if she made the right choices in her life. After all, her current situation – a dead-end job, an unused college degree, single, and disillusioned – isn’t what she’d dreamed of for herself. All that changes with a simple phone call: Savannah is the illegitimate daughter of Edward Stone, the recently deceased millionaire, and she’s been included in his will. Stone has left her his entire fortune, but, in exchange for her inheritance, she must move to New York and take a job within his company. Many things await Savannah in NYC, including two bitter half-siblings, a luxurious lifestyle, not one but two suitors, and drama and gossip, two things she’d hoped she’d left behind in SC. Savannah isn’t sure her rags to riches story will have a happy ending, but it’s abundantly clear her new situation will challenge everything she believes in.
While the premise of New Money is pretty straight forward, I still enjoyed following Savannah’s story. Though she has a good heart, she isn’t a perfect person, which makes her both frustrating and easy to relate to. Still, she redeems herself with her honesty. She admits when she’s wrong and doesn’t deny her faults.
My favorite character, however, was not Savannah but her new-found sister-in-law, Kitty. She’s a strong, independent, successful woman, who comes from money but never seems to take it for granted or believe that it makes her any better than others. I would definitely read a book where Kitty was the main character – I feel like there is so much more to learn about her!
New Money has the feel of television series fueled by drama, secrets, and good-looking men. It’s light, clean fun that I fully recommend.

Thomas Dunne Books, September 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781250025357, 336 pgs.

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Interview: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal, author of New Money

Today Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is at The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions about her writing and her newest book, New Money: A Novel. I loved Rosenthal’s first novel, Other Words for Love (review here), and this new novel, which has a complete different setting and main character than her first book. New Money is New Adult and features a rags to riches story, but still has the same heart I loved about Other Words for Love

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The Interview


Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?

In general, writing a novel is challenging. It requires a lot of dedication, effort, and focus on the characters and their individual stories. What often comes easiest is writing dialogue after the characters’ personalities and relationships with each other have been established. When you really understand a character, it isn’t hard to figure out what he or she is going to say next.

Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?

The title has stayed the same.

 What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 

I admire and have been influenced by so many authors. One of my all-time favorite authors is Emily Bronte. I love Wuthering Heights because of its emotional intensity and Bronte’s ability to make me understand and sympathize with characters who aren’t necessarily likeable. 

If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?

 “Yes” is a good word. It’s usually much better than “no.”

 My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 

I’m a movie buff, and I have always found watching a movie in a theater to be a great escape from reality.

Find out more about Lorraine and her books here! 

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Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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I’ve heard, repeatedly, that Rainbow Rowell’s writing has a magical quality, so I knew I needed to read one of her novels. So, when the opportunity arose to read Fangirl, I had high expectations, but that ended up totally fine because I loved this book to pieces.

If you looked next to the definition of introvert in the dictionary, you might see a picture of Fangirl‘s main character, Cath. In real life, Cath is quiet, solitary, and anxious when it comes to interacting with others. Which makes her first semester at university especially difficult: she’s far from her dad, who she worries about constantly, her twin sister wants to branch out and begin her own, independent life, her new roommate might hate her, and her roommate’s boyfriend is entirely too chatty for loner Cath. To add to the overwhelming mess of college, Cath has some very unique commitments: she’s a Simon Snow fangirl. In fact, she’s so committed to the Simon Snow books that she writes them… well, versions of them. Cath is well known – and widely read – in the Simon Snow world and, with the release of the final book approaching, she’s under more pressure than ever to finish her version of Simon’s story as well. Cath has to figure out how to balance her relationships and responsibilities, how to leave the safe warmth of her comfort zone, and, ultimately, embrace happiness.

For me, the most amazing aspect of Fangirl was how completely I was able to relate to the characters and actually picture the events as they happened. I think this was partially from having gone to university and having felt just as lost as Cath at the beginning Everything that happened in the book, whether it ever actually happened to me personally, felt achingly familiar. There is an honesty about Rowell’s writing that allows for this sense of connection. Fangirl is a perfect example of a book that let’s readers know they’re not alone, that someone else out there in the world has experienced the same feelings and made it through the same situations.

I loved Cath’s writing professor. In my experience, it isn’t often that students run across professors that take such an interest in their students, who really care whether they succeed and embrace their potential, but it’s those professors who make the college experience really worth it. I appreciated the professor’s part in Cath’s story; she was a valuable source of direction and encouragement in the sea of overwhelming newness that is the first year of college.

It was also refreshing to see Cath have such a close relationship with her family. Her father, in particular, was an interesting character. Often, in YA, the reader only sees bits of the parent(s), but I felt like I really got to know Cath’s father. Cath’s mother is an entirely different story, having left the family when Cath was quite young, we are only able to see flashes of her, memories and quick images as she tries to salvage a relationship with the twins after years of absence. What struck me, however, about Rowell’s portrayal of Cath’s parents, is that they are neither good nor bad. They are just people with flaws and quirks and twin daughters. Again, the honesty of Rowell’s writing asserts itself.

Cath’s college experience is like that of many young adults, so the premise of Fangirl is by no means new and shiny, but Cath – and the way she thinks and sees the world – makes the premise feel new again. Cath messes up, she makes unexpected new friends, faces challenges, and falls for a boy. She must admit to her mistakes, open up to her new friends, find the strength tackle new situations, and the bravery to love a boy.

Read Fangirl, whether you already love Rowell’s writing or have only heard good things about it. And be prepared to fall in love with the raw honesty you’ll find within these pages.
St. Martin’s Griffin, September 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9781250030955, 405 pgs.

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch


There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

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Emily Murdoch’s If You Find Me is unique in that it has a slow burning intensity that pulls the reader in until they’ve completely fallen in love with Carey and Jenessa without even realizing it was happening.

If You Find Me tells the heartbreaking story of Carey and her little sister, Jenessa, who have been kept away from people and civilization – and often completely alone in the wilderness – by their addict mother. The girls often fend for themselves, as their mother regularly disappears for long stretches of time, but, as the novel opens, they’re nearing the end of their food stores and Carey is starting to worry about what will happen if their mother doesn’t reappear. Things take a turn when a social worker and Carey’s estranged father find the girls, as directed in a letter by Carey’s mother, and take them back to live with him. The girls are thankful that they’re still together and that they’re warm and fed, but things are still complicated. Jenessa still refuses to speak (she’s been selectively mute since something happened to the girls during their time in the wilderness) and Carey finds that, while she isn’t behind academically, socially she’s an entirely different wavelength from her peers. She’s either too mature or too naive and she often struggles to adjust to the new world she’s so suddenly entered.

Carey and Jenessa are two of my absolute favorite characters. They felt so real to me that I often forgot that they weren’t real people. I was so caught up in their story that I found myself telling anyone who would listen about what was happening to them as the story progressed and I often referred to them as if they were real people. 

I loved Carey’s complexity. I think part of the reason that she felt so realistic was that she was complicated and unsure and often contradicted herself, as I imagine someone who grew up like she did would. At different points in the novel, she either hated, felt love for, or missed her mother. As an outside observer, I had no love for Carey’s mother and what she put the girls through, but I could definitely see how things wouldn’t be so easily black and white for Carey. After all, though she knew on an intellectual level that what her mother did was wrong, it’s often extremely difficult for an individual, especially a young person, to completely hate their parent, especially when that parent is one of the only people they’ve ever had contact with.

I really enjoyed the novel’s secondary characters as well, especially Carey’s father. He’s definitely an important character, but he never really says much nor does Carey talk about him extensively, but every time he is mentioned or appears in the book, the passage had weight and meaning. 

Even if I hadn’t been tied to the novel by my love of Carey and her sister, the mystery element – which is directly tied to Jenessa’s selective mutism – would have made it hard for me to set If You Find Me aside. I had to know what happened to the girls that had affected their lives so deeply, especially when their lives were already so difficult and unusual. I felt that I had to know, yet I was afraid to find out because I was so emotionally invested in the characters.

Lastly, I have to mention the romantic aspects of this novel. It might seem that their is no place for romance in If You Find Me next to the novel’s premise and emotional weight, but that isn’t the case. The romance in this novel isn’t at all random or an attempt to appease or attract romance readers – it has meaning and fits beautifully. 

I highly recommend Murdoch’s If You Find Me and will definitely be reading her future offerings. This is a book that I’ll no doubt be constantly pushing on my fellow readers!

St. Martin’s Griffin, March 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781250021526, 256 pgs.

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you’d been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue? 

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth’s collapse, the ship’s crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader’s efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don’t know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them… 

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. 

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren’t all from the outside.

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I have very mixed feelings regarding Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Glow. On one hand, it does have a very interesting premise. Interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading and see what would happen next… even though I often found it thoroughly creepy and I didn’t particularly like any of the characters.

As I read, I kept hoping for a moment when I would feel a spark with a character… any character. It never happened for me. All of the characters felt one dimensional and I didn’t feel any passion behind their actions. At times, I felt like scenes were supposed to be intense – they were written with lots of exclamation points and the wording seemed to be carefully selected – but they just weren’t. Yes, Glow is set on a space ship and all the rest, but I excepted it to feel more realistic than it did and ended up disappointed.

Also, there were a lot of events and details that just didn’t add up for me. There is a battle for power occurring between Keiran and Seth, two of the oldest boys and both potential matches for Waverly, the eldest girl. Keiran and Waverly are supposed to be in love, though Seth loves Waverly and Waverly is obviously drawn to Seth. Or that’s what the reader is told anyway. I never felt like these emotions were ever shown, only told. 

While Waverly and the girls are being kept prisoner aboard the sister ship, Seth and Keiran both have their time in charge of the Empyrean and keep the other boy locked in a cell. I didn’t understand how all of the others boys were so weak that they’d blindly follow either boy, no questions asked. I guess it could happen, but it didn’t feel real to me. Neither boy had much basis for his arguments and neither seemed all that close to the other boys, so why were they so loyal and willing to accept whatever they were told? 

Aboard the sister ship, Waverly and the girls are being kept captive. This is confusing in multiple ways… The girls were repeatedly told they were being rescued from a doomed ship, only to find themselves being carefully watched by armed gunmen in their classroom? The girls knew they were prisoners, but those aboard the ship kept insisting they were rescues… why keep insisting that? I didn’t understand the rationale. Unless the population of the Empyrean’s sister ship is is composed of idiots. Which might very well be true. Amanda, one of the women that became friendly with Waverly, seems completely naive and immature… much younger, in fact, than the sixteen year old Waverly, despite the fact that she’s supposed to be at least near middle aged. The only person aboard that ship that seemed to have common sense was Anne Mather, the crazy pastor and captain of the ship. 

Still, the premise of Glow is intriguing. It reminded me of the Across the Universe trilogy, but without parents. And with a much bigger emphasis on reproduction and repopulating the new world. The entire novel definitely has a sinister feel, which I appreciated.

While I finished Glow and plan to read the next installment, Spark, the plot holes and inconsistencies within the first novel were distracting and took away from the story. I’m really hoping these aspects were resolved in the second novel so I can better focus on the novel’s positive aspects and leave the distractions behind.

St. Martin’s Griffin, September 2011, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780312590567, 307 pages.


Check out the book trailer for Glow below:

Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. 

Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

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I’m in awe of Courtney Summers. I’ve come to the conclusion that she can’t write anything I won’t end up in love with. 


I’m completely freaked out my zombies in realistic settings – because I seriously believe that the zombie apocalypse will happen someday and I am so, so screwed – but I couldn’t pass up a book by Summers. Honestly, I’ve become dependent on the fact that she releases a new novel every year, and I couldn’t not read This Is Not a Test just because zombies and gore make me a bit nauseous. And, though I can’t say that any of Summers’ novels are particularly happy, I find them oddly comforting. These are the novels that people refer to when they say reading makes them feel understood and less alone.


The best thing about This Is Not a Test is that yes, it’s a zombie book, but it is so much more than that. For me, it was everything I loved about Summers’ past novels, including the intense emotion, flawed characters, and desperate situations PLUS zombies. I mean, Summers’ novels always crackle with intensity, so much so that I didn’t believe she could turn it any higher, but she definitely proved me wrong.


I’ve yet to stop myself from falling in love with all of characters in Summers’ books. It’s a bit ridiculous really. I’ve even gone so far as to name pets after them. (Okay, one pet. My cat, Milo, is named after a character from Fall for Anything.) Like Summers’ past novels, the characters in This Is Not a Test each have a distinct personality. I always feel that I truly understand what motivates each character’s actions and emotions, whether they’re the main character or small, seemingly unimportant character.


I can’t stress enough how much I adore each and every novel Summers’ has written and, though This Is Not a Test is in some ways a departure from her previous novels, it is, at it’s core, what readers have come to expect from  her. Plus zombies. And while this book may sound horribly bleak, I’ve come to find that Summers’ always leaves her characters, and her readers, with a shimmering ray of hope. Even during the zombie apocalypse.

St. Martin’s Griffin, June 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780312656744, 320 pages.

Review: Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams



Title: Miles from Ordinary
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pub. Date: 3.15.11
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Mental Illness, Single Parent, Grief, Hallucinations
Pages: 197
Description (from Goodreads):
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother’s ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control….


Carol Lynch Williams is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite authors… Of her three published titles, I’ve read both GLIMPSE and MILES FROM ORDINARY and am completely in awe of both. 


I feel the need to point out how very different GLIMPSE and MILES FROM ORDINARY are. Both are powerful, relatively short reads, but GLIMPSE is written in free verse and MILES FROM ORDINARY is written in traditional novel format. Williams’ mastery of both forms astound me… Neither story is more or less detailed or profound, the writing is fluid and each word seems chosen for a specific purpose. 


MILES FROM ORDINARY is narrated by 13-year old Lacey, which, under normal circumstances, might bother me. Luckily, a novel by Williams doesn’t count as “normal circumstances.” Williams has the ability to write a novel with a 13-year old main character in which the character genuinely acts like a 13-year old, but the novel still feels YA not MG. When I read the descriptions of Williams’ books and see the young age of the narrators, I don’t even pause. I know that the character’s age will not slow the plot of soften the book’s message; Williams is definitely a YA author.


This novel definitely has a sinister edge. Williams hints at the drama in Lacey and her mother’s life, revealing more and more as the novel progresses, building until the truth descends like a torrential downpour and there’s no holding back the darkness. 


I highly suggest you read MILES FROM ORDINARY and GLIMPSE… I’m left speechless each time I finish one of Williams’ novels. The stories held within these covers are powerful and they need to be heard. I’ve also heard wonderful things about THE CHOSEN ONE, Williams’ debut, and will be reading that as soon as possible.