Sunday, September 9, 2012


Today is a great day here at The Bookish Babe. Populazzi, by Elise Allen recently released in paperback. To celebrate, I'm hosting a review of the book, a Q&A with Elise and a giveaway, courtesy of SparkPointStudio. So lets' get to it!

PopulazziSeries: Stand alone
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: Received form publicist for review.
Cara has never been one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and always ready with the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

Now, junior year could change everything. Cara’s moving to a new school, and her best friend urges her to seize the moment—with the help of the Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms into the perfect girlfriend for guys ever-higher on the tower, she’ll reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment, a straight climb up, but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

Cara Leonard doesn't want to be invisible at her new school. She doesn't even want to simply fit in. Cara wants to shine, to sit at the top of the social heap. Cara wants to be Supreme Populazzi, and she's determined to do whatever it takes to make her way to the top. But popularity isn't always what it seems, and Cara must decide if she's willing to hurt those who help her climb the social Ladder.

So...I'm going to be "dating" myself here, but my one of my very favorite movies ever is Can't Buy Me Love. It's a movie that I feel is required watching if you want to be my friend. Can't Buy Me Love features Patrick Dempsey, pre-Dr.McDreamy, as Ronald Miller, an uber-nerd who uses a popular girl to buy his way to the top of the school's social scene. In the movie, Ronald changes everything about himself in order to fit in. He drops his friends, becomes a gigantic douche and ends up losing everything when he lets it go to his head. The story is by turns sad and funny as you watch the inevitable train wreck, and there are lesson to be learned about the value of being true to yourself. My point? With it's misguided protagonist and hilarious scenarios, Populazzi reminded me very much of Can't Buy Me Love. And that makes this book a total win.

Author Elise Allen did a super job of conveying the emotional turmoil of being a  teen. The need to be recognized, to even be seen, is a feeling any person can relate to. My teen years are so long gone, but I was sent right back to those moments of sadness, longing, and angst.

Populazzi is an extremely funny book. Extremely. The situations Cara got herself into were humiliating and priceless. The dialogue, particularly between Cara and Claudia, her BFF, and Archer, a potential BF was witty and sharp.

In reading, not much makes me happier than a funny story with a lot of heart, laughs and character growth. Populazzi delivers on all accounts. I had such a blast reading it and can safely recommend it to all Contemporary Young Adult fans.

Favorite Quote:

" 'Great show, right? he shouted over the music, then turned back to the stage.
  Great show? Did he not know I'd just been wrestled across the room and nearly scalped by a midget with biceps as big as her boobs?" (pg. 137)

You can purchase Populazzi at:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository

Q&A With Elise Allen

Describe Populazzi, Twitter-style
Elise: The plan: transform into perfect girl 4 guys higher and higher on Popularity Tower 2 prove misfit can B popular.  The problem: chaos ensues.

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?
Elise: There’s no one place, really.  Often my characters start as an amalgam of people I know, have met, or maybe have only heard of.  I pluck traits from these people like entrees off a Chinese menu: one from column A, one from column B…
That’s how I begin, then during the writing process the characters grow from these cherry-picked traits into their own, fully-fleshed out people.  By the time the book’s complete, it’s rare that the final characters have anything in common with their early inspirations – they’ve developed far beyond that point.  I know the characters are coming into their own when they balk at the plot I have planned for them because there’s no way they’d say or do what I imagined they would when I didn’t know them as well.  That’s the most exciting part – when I have to completely alter my plan to suit these suddenly strong-willed people who refuse to make false choices just because I have an outline I’d hoped to follow.
I know; it sounds psycho… but it’s pretty spectacular.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Elise: Anything athletic and outdoorsy.  I love hiking, bike riding, running (I’ve done 15 marathons)… and while I don’t do it very often, I’m head-over-heels for stand-up paddleboarding.  It feels like walking on water.

Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?
Elise: I really don’t.  Usually I can snap into that place, but sometimes I’m just not there and if I’m smart, I give into it.  When I fight upstream to write, it’s very rare that I accomplish anything worthwhile.  At those times, I’m best off taking a break and working out or paying bills or doing something else as unlike writing as possible.  Then I can come back to the computer and everything will flow much better.

What are you reading right now?
Elise: Two books: Anne Lamott’s Grace (Eventually), which is her memoir about faith; and David B. Agus’ The End of Illness, a non-fiction book about all the ways we can keep ourselves healthy decade after decade.  I’m on a major non-fiction kick right now, and have several more non-fiction tomes in my TBR pile.

Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
Elise: I have many, but Anne Lamott is certainly among them.  Her non-fiction is beautifully honest and compelling; and her fiction is breathtaking in its rich, layered characters and remarkably keen observations about the choices we make and why we make them.

What book, if any, do you read over and over again?
Elise: I’m actually very bad about reading books over and over.  There are only so many hours in a day, and I want to explore as many books that are new to me as possible.  That said, I’ve been going back and reading all my favorite kids’ books to my daughter.  That means I’ve had the joy of re-experiencing favorites like From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Judy Blume’s Peter Hatcher/Fudge books, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and of course the entire Harry Potter series.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog!
**Huge thanks to Elise for taking the time to answer my questions.**

About Elise Allen
POPULAZZI is Elise Allen’s first solo novel but she previously co-wrote the bestselling novel ELIXIR with author and actress Hilary Duff and is at work on the next book in the series with Hilary. She's written for several television shows from the Cosby to Muppets to Dinosaur Train, which recently garnered her two Daytime Emmy Awards. Elise has a sick penchant for running marathons, and can’t seem to stop even though fifteen really should be enough already. She lives in L.A. with her husband, daughter and insatiable food-hound of a dog, Riley. For more, visit or follow Elise on Twitter at
I have one paperback copy of Populazzi to give away, courtesy of Spark Point Studio.
The Rules:
  •  Must be a US Resident to enter. (Due to shipping costs.)
  • Must be 17+ years of age to enter:
  • Must fill out the Rafflecopter form.
Giveaway ends September 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I've seen this book around alot.. && since I haven't read a bad book recommended by you before; I'd say I will give this one a shot too (:

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  3. As soon as you mentioned Can't Buy Me Love I was like YAY! I really like that movie too so the fact that you found this similar definitely makes me want to read it! Great review, Andrea :)

  4. Great Q&A and thanks for the giveaway. The book sounds really interesting.

  5. This sounds really great!! I love Can't Buy Me Love too!! That makes me really want to read this book. The Q&A was really great too. I'm a sucker for interviews!!

  6. This sounds like a really cute book. It's always fun to read a cute and funny story. Thank you for the giveaway.

  7. I haven't watched Can't Buy Me Love, but now I'm going to! :) And Populazzi sounds great, just up my alley. Great review.

  8. I fail! I haven't watched Buy Me Love, but the way you describe it I will be checking it out. Sounds like something I would love. I wasn't too sure about Populazzi as I haven't seen too much about it but the cover always pulls me in. I'm right there with Elise on not being able to work upstream to write. I know if I am not in the mood for writing a review there is no way I can force myself to make it happen. Thanks for featuring this!

  9. Ooooh I'm loving this cover hardcore, and totally saw Andrea tweeting about this book last night!!! WIN!

  10. Saying that this book reminds you of Can't Buy Me Love is a total WIN for me as well. I'm a huge 80's teen movie buff, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Just One of the Guys, Say Anything, etc. *funnily enough I wasn't actually alive in the 80's haha* Great review! I love books that are emotional but balance it out nicely will a lot of great humor. I have a really good feeling that I'll be checking this book out :*tbr addition* :)

  11. This looks really cute and I loved Can't Buy Me Love!!! They don't make movies like that anymore. We hit the jackpot in teen movies. ;)

  12. LOVE the Can't Buy Me Love comparison!!! Fun fact: Ami Dolenz was in that movie, and Ami is the daughter of none other than Monkee Mickey Dolenz. I remember thinking that was VERY cool when the movie came out, because MTV was airing all the old Monkees episodes and Mickey was my favorite.

    Thanks so much for the interview and the contest!!! So happy you loved Populazzi!

  13. The fact that you mentioned Cant Buy Me Love in correlation to this book is a total win! Sounds like a fun read.

  14. This book sounds really cute! I love a book that can make me LOL.

  15. Such a great review, awesome answers. I've noticed a lot of authors say they like to do outdoorsy stuff in their spare time. I absolutely love the quote you shared from the book, it's hilarious. Thanks for the giveaway. (:

  16. I'm not sure if I have seen Can't Buy Me Love. It sounds familiar so probably but definitely not recently. I think this book is a huge thing teens go through. Just how important and how far should you go to fit in. Can anyone be popular or are some people just made for it? lol

  17. Wonderful review. I've never heard of this one before but it sounds interesting. great q&a too.

  18. Sounds like a good read. Also, I love the cover, especially that necklace.

  19. This book sounds like it'd be right up my alley! Hope I win! eclairre(at)ymail(dot)com

  20. Sooooo many great book giveaways!

  21. Love the great book giveaways. thx so my,h

  22. Thanks for the giveaway :) I would love to win this book. I enjoy books with humor and witty dialogue.

    Re-inventing oneself and starting fresh when changing schools is common but what I found unique about this story are the rungs of the ladder. Each subsequent rung represents the hierarchy of potential boyfriends. I'm curious as to what are the pre-requisites for each rung. I would think that determination would be more subjective.

    Like the author, I also don't re-read books. There are sooo many on my TBR list and not nearly enough time. But, on the other hand, I would also like to share my childhood favorites with my daughter.


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