Category Archives: Five Star

First Comes Love: Interview + Love in Bloom Giveaway!

This week, Making the Grade is taking part in the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop. As part of the Hop, we are giving away an ARC of First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky. In addition, we have an exclusive interview with Katie Kacvinsky right here on the blog for you to enjoy! To view the interview and to enter for your chance to win the giveaway please continue reading below:

This hop ends on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at midnight.

First Comes LoveFirst Comes Love
By Katie Kacvinsky
May 8, 2012
Ages 14 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reviewed: ARC (from publisher)
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Read Our Review

Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what’s next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m  a loner, but I’m also a people person. I’ve lived all over the place (my record is moving nine times in two years).  I love people watching. I love doing random things, like wearing a prom dress to go grocery shopping.  I like to keep people guessing.

Wow, sounds a lot like my life! What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)

When I’m not writing or reading or daydreaming, I’m usually outside. I live in Oregon, close to the coast, and close to rainforests and amazing hiking trails.  It’s a great place for loners because there are so many desolate spots to explore.

I also love sports. I’m a diehard NCAA basketball fan and an NFL fan, and in the summers I love going to minor league baseball games. Every morning my husband and I listen to sports talk radio. I was on the crew team in college, and I played sports growing up, so I have a huge respect for athletes and how hard they work to succeed.

What are you currently reading?

I just started Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Regarding First Comes Love: Are there any events in the book that you yourself have experienced?

Not really any specific events, but I have experienced how frustrating it is to fall in love with somebody when you know timing is going to get in the way. Since I’ve moved around so much, most of my relationships ended because of distance (not because I stopped caring). At some point, you need to say, “Okay, this guy is amazing and I’m not going to let him go.”  At some point you need to work to make a relationship last.

Which character do you find that you relate to more, Gray or Dylan or both? And why?

I relate to both of them equally; I can understand where each of them is coming from because I’ve been in both of their shoes.

What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why? (Spoiler free, of course!)

I loved writing about Gray and Dylan’s “first time.” I especially loved writing it from the male perspective;  I was cracking myself up the entire time.  A lot of writers skip around the sex or just “infer” that it happens, maybe to avoid criticism, or because it’s simply awkward to write about, but I couldn’t do that in this book. I treated it as honestly and emotionally as I could.

If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about First Comes Love, what would it be?

It’s a story about a relationship, pure and simple. If you’re looking for post apocalyptic zombie invasions, this is not the book for you.

Can you reveal anything about your next book, Middle Ground (the sequel to Awaken)? *eye wink*

I’m so excited for Middle Ground.  It’s darker than Awaken, but I think it’s more psychologically interesting, and I think the changes Maddie and Justin are forced to work through will make their characters really fun to write in the third (and final) book of the series.

Do you believe in “love at first sight”?

I would have to say no. I believe in “lust at first sight” (I’ve experienced that one many times) and I think you can instantly click with people, but love is trickier. You need to understand a person’s weaknesses as well as their strengths, you need to accept their flaws, you need to go though some hard times together to really love and appreciate them, and that takes time.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Mmm, both please.

Pepsi or Coke?

Neither. I’m a full out coffee girl.

Tom or Jerry?

Tom. He never gives up, even if Jerry plugs his tail into an electric outlet.

Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?

If you’re my fan, then I pretty much love you and I would love to pick you up and spin you around in circles. I once tweeted that writers need readers like fish need water. You keep us floating. So, if you’re my fan, then, THANK YOU.

Oh, one last thing, I am mailing people free autographed bookplates if they buy First Comes Love during the month of May (or if they preordered it before May). To find out how to get one, visit my blog post.

Thank you for visiting Making the Grade, Katie!

Enter to Win an ARC of First Comes Love!

This giveaway is OVER. Congratulations to Ashley Evans, who won the ARC of First Comes Love! You have been emailed. Please respond to the email within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected. Thank you to all who entered and commented below!


Book Review: Gilt

By Katherine Longshore
May 15, 2012
Ages 14 and up
Viking Juvenile
Reviewed: e-book (Netgalley)

Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free– and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men–the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.


What can I say about my love for GILT by the immensely talented Katherine Longshore? (Is this her debut? I think it is! If so, then WOW.) She has created a masterpiece at first bat. Even if you are not a fan of historical fiction, as long as you like intense character interactions, romance and betrayal, you will find plenty to love about Gilt.

Plot: 10

The basic story is about the rise and fall of King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard (or “Cat”), during the Tudor Dynasty in England. The “real” story within Gilt is how the downfall came to be and the lives affected among those surrounding Cat. Gilt is told from the perspective of her closest “friend”, Katherine (or “Kitty”). Yup, that’s right. In this Tudor tale, the main character is not Cat, but Kitty. And what a whole new perspective it brings to the story. Gilt is a story of friendship, love, lies and betrayal – of going from nothing to “something” in the Tudor age. If you’ve ever wanted to read an excellent drama, Gilt is right up your alley, whether you like historical fiction or not.

Characters: 9

Sure, there’s the history (and dang does the author know her history) but more-so than that is the relationship between Kitty and Cat. This “relationship” is what moves the story forward, where most of the plot is involved, and the driving factor in Cat’s historical downfall. Their relationship is the reason for reading the book in the first place, much more-so than the history (which is still so amazingly perfect in this book)…

At the start I sincerely despised Cat. Cat gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants and by whatever means she wants. She uses Kitty and, in my opinion, she abuses their friendship. And Kitty, poor Kitty, she allows herself to be used. In spite of this, I also loved Cat. She was the spark that set the whole series of events within the book into motion. Her devious nature is simply captivating and so horribly seductive. It was a joy to see her devious plotting throughout the book.

As for the story being told in Kitty’s point of view. Bravo. She was the third person that told the historic tale in such an intimate way, that while the story was one of fiction I truly felt that it could have been. And how she remained friends with Cat, in spite of their history, is beyond me.

Setting: 10

All I can say is that Katherine Longshore knows her history. I wonder, and would be curious enough to ask her, if her interest in the period and in this particular character is in part because of her name. Interesting thought… Not much more to say unless you really know your Tudor history, except that the tension she builds among her characters is so palpable you can practically reach out and touch it. You will certainly feel it within you as you read.

Pacing: 9

Gilt is an easy read, regardless if you like historical fiction or not. There are enough dramatics and multiple plot lines to keep the story flowing at a perfect pace, with the tension building from the very beginning. The interactions between Cat and Kitty will keep you biting your fingernails to the quick (and possibly wanting to throw the book across the room at least once or twice). Though I know what was coming in the end, the build up to that tragic moment keep me flipping through the story at an incessant pace.

Style: 10

Gilt was such an enjoyable historical work of fiction that I can’t wait to hold the actual physical copy of the book in my own hands, just so I can say I own a piece of literature perfection. I have never before read anything set in the Tudor period quite like this, and I think that is all due to the fact that the author creatively told the story from a bystander, through the eyes of Katherine (aka. “Kitty”). You have to set aside all needs for action, adventure and daring situations aside in order to read this one. In it’s place is seduction, secrets, lies and betrayal.

At the very least, Gilt may cause you to step back and look at the relationships in your own lives. Making you question whether or not you treat others, or you yourself are being treated, as you should. Go, read this now. If you just recently got into historical fiction with Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, you might want to continue the new trend in YA with GILT by Katherine Longshore. You’ll thank me later.

Grade: 98

STARTERS: Author Interview + Giveaway

By Lissa Price
March13, 2012
Random House / Delacorte Books
Author’s Website
Order from Amazon

Read Our Five Star Review

In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party–her body will commit murder, if her mind can’t stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first–the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as Enders, who get to be young again. Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It’s a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank’s horrible plan…


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a big believer in dreaming big because whatever it is you want to do, someone has to do it. But of course hard work is part of it. But if you love what you’re doing, then you’re on the right path. I love that I get to write books now and transport readers to this place in my head that combines with their vision to make an entirely new experience.

What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)

I’m not sure I can picture a time when I won’t be writing 24/7 as so much going on now. But back before the book sale, I used to love kayaking, snorkeling, swimming (seeing a theme here?), travel that involves wildlife, films, going out to eat with my friends, and NBA basketball (watching, not playing).

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult?

I was influenced by so many books, but most recently by THE HUNGER GAMES and the UGLIES series. I read many YA  science fiction and fantasy books before I started writing my own.

What are you currently reading?

Ha, you think I have time to read now? I have a huge TBR stack and at the top is CINDER, WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, and many more. But with ENDERS at the first stage of revisions, two e-shorts to write, and other projects in the future, my reading time has been limited.

Regarding STARTERS, what inspired you to write a book that essentially pits the world’s youth against the elderly? How did you come up with this idea?

I was trying to get a flu shot and found out there wasn’t enough. So the government set up a triage system and only the very young, the very old and the infirm could get it. I went away thinking what would happen if this were a killer flu, how there would only be the weakest members of our society left. What would that landscape look like?

And there were the beginnings of STARTERS.

What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why?

Probably the confrontation between Callie and The Old Man at the end. Because when it came to me, it felt so deliciously creepy.

Can you reveal anything about the next installment? *eye wink*

Just that you will have more big surprises!

Tease… Well then, if there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about the STARTERS, what would it be?

I was happy to learn from my national tour that STARTERS has broad appeal. Of course I wrote it with teen girls in mind, but it is also appealing to boys from middle grade to teens, to adults.

If you could live to be 200 years old, what would you do to pass the time?

I’m living life at warp speed right now, with little time to do normal things like exercise. So I’d have no trouble filling up time – I’d write more books!

This is your debut novel. How has the road to publishing been for you? Is there any memory that stands out?

I have been so lucky, I’m very grateful to all the wonderful people – agents, my editor, everyone at my publisher, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and newspaper reviewers. And to Kami Garcia for giving me that wonderful quote. I have also just received another quote from Dean Koontz.

The highlight might be getting the call from my agent that the 10-publisher auction had been called off because Random House made a pre-emptive bid at 8:30 at night.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Life’s too short for vanilla.

Pepsi or Coke? Diet Coke with extra lemon.

Tom or Jerry? Peeta.

Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?

Yes, we hope to announce some film news in the next couple of weeks! (Free Game & Cover Apps) |
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Enter to win an ARC of STARTERS!

One winner will receive an ARC of STARTERS.
Open to US residents aged 13 and older only.
Giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.