Thursday, June 30, 2011

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Something super exciting just popped through the mail slot.  Well actually it came knocking on the door because it was too fat.  

It's like an early Birthday Present, since it's not out until July 12th.  I feel like I should walk up and down the streets holding it Vanna White style letting people touch it reverently.


Look pretty maps!


There are 959 pages pre-appendix's etc.  So here you go those who doubted it was real until they saw it with their own eyes!  Look at all those pages!

I finally sat down to book one last night, thank you Canada Post strike!  I finally have a small lull in review books so I can eat up George R.R. Martin's huge books packed with type!  See there is always a silver lining.  I still can't believe I never stumbled upon this series earlier, but can't wait to waste away my summer Game of Thrones style.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray- Review


I've been looking forward to the release of Beauty Queens for some time.  I religiously followed every moment of writers block and frustration Libba Bray blogged about while writing, and was a consummate cheerleader of her efforts by thinking good thought her way on a regular basis.

I freely admit her unusual writing style might not be for everyone.  But it's part of what I love about her, you know picking up one of her books that it's not going to be your average YA reading experience.  Like Tamora Pierce her female characters are empowered, they're strong, their bodies are their own to discover and share and they don't need boys to complete them.  But as Going Bovine proved, her male characters are just as well written as her females.  Plus she's hysterically funny; like, she should be sponsored by Depends, funny.

I'm going to start by saying that while I actively avoid reading other reviews before mine is done, this one was taking forever, so I broke my rule and read a couple.  Amy from Amy Reads mentioned that the Book Smugglers hated it, and so I had to read their thoughts (not fully a review as one of them didn't finish it), and then it was sooooo bad I had to read a couple others to get a feel for what was being said out there.  This is the problem about not reading reviews until I've A- finished reading a book myself, and B- written my own review, it means I'm floating around in a bubble with no idea the furor certain books are causing.  And I really want to know about the furor people, cause' I don't have a book club- you guys are it.

Well first off, I was hugely relieved to see it wasn't all bad.  The Book Smugglers had me worried, I have to say.  So without further ado let me throw my thoughts into great wide interweb on Libba's latest.
 Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
Funny, wonky, and totally 100% Libba style, Beauty Queens is almost the girls version of Going Bovine.  Each girls quest for self discovery, after the enforced conformity's of the pageant circuit and away from demanding parents, handlers and the expectations of society, was an ode to the struggles of teenage girls everywhere.  And as Going Bovine proved, Libba has a lot to say about how to live life well, and as yourself.
I think Beth of Beth Fish Reads, hit it on the nail when she called the story campy.  Beauty Queens has been criticized for being didactic and for missing the mark with it's satire.  But I feel like you need to look at the story in a Rocky Horror Picture show light.  It's fun and crazy, it's rude and completely politically incorrect, it was her flipping the bird at anyone who thinks teen girls are there to wear short skirts and look nice.  Oh and reality TV, bad boys as love interests in YA, and many other juicy things.  I feel like we should all pick a character, dress up like them, listen to the audio book together, throw toast in all the right places, and leave the debate about the fine art of satire at the door.  It could even be a drinking game (dude she broke both her elbows while recording that baby, we should at least drink to that)!

One of my absolute favorite things about Beauty Queens is that the bad boy didn't wheedle his way back into any one's affections.  There's nothing more disturbing then the YA trend for the love interest to be mean, unavailable or down right scary and then turn into the love of the main characters life.  It's the mantra of most women that you should never believe you're going to "change" whoever you're in a relationship with, so why is it that women writers never seem to want to pass that gem on to the younger generations?

Anywho, next time you think "nope, not going to buy Beauty Queens, I've only heard bad things" come on back here and let me take a stab at changing your mind.  I loved it!

Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray
Published by Scholastic, May 2011
Check out Libba's always funny blog
And do me a favour? Buy Beauty Queens on Amazon. You might thank me for it, if not head on over to The Book Smugglers, they feel your pain.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by John Boyne- Review

This is one of those stories that is equal parts fun and a bit dull.  Fun because it's a bit wacky and mysterious, dull because it drags a bit. 

Drag you say? But is it not only a 240 page book??!  That's right, it is, and it does.

I feel like Noah Barleywater Runs Away would have been more suited to a small children's picture book then a middle school novel.  The adventures lend themselves nicely to the tiny amount of illustration on the chapter headers and I feel like a lot of what was told to you could have been shown to you more effectively.
Which isn't to say I disliked Noah Barleywater Runs Away, only that I found it hard to be engrossed in it.  And if I can't be engrossed in it, how's it going to capture the attention of sugar buzzed 10 year old who'd rather be playing a video game?

The general gist of the story is this, Noah Barleywater gets up so early one morning that it can almost be considered late, and runs away from home.  After a half day of running away he comes upon a mysterious toy shop full of puppets, and a puppet maker with the most unusual tales of adventure Noah has ever heard.  So as they sit down to share a meal, Noah and the Puppet maker begin to share their stories only to realize they have a lot in common.

The crux of the story is Noah's mom, and it's gradually revealed she's dying.  I suppose that makes it a nice gift for a grieving child? God that's depressing to even suggest, but otherwise I'm not entirely sure about the audience for this book.  On the one hand it has all these fun little adventure stories to it, on the other both Noah and the Puppet maker have some depressing stories about the loss of your parent.  It ties up nicely in the end, with a sudo happy ending, but honestly this is a book about grief and loss.

In the end I was left with the strange feeling of "boy that was depressing" coupled with "it was kind of cute?". 

Although I know of the Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, I haven't actually read any of John Boyne's work before, therefore I would be really interested in what a John Boyne fan would have to say about Noah Barleywater.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away, By John Boyne
Published by David Fickling Books, May 2011
My copy was sent to me by the kind folks at Random House Canada
Buy Noah Barleywater Runs Away on Amazon

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor- Review


I tell no lies.  This was THE top book I had to come away with from the BEA.  Laini's Dreamdark books swept me away when I read them earlier this year, and her tantalizing hints at her newest story have been utterly painful.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone was supposed to be there, and come hell or high water I was leaving with a copy.

I was also super keen on meeting Laini herself as her blog has been one of my favorites for probably six months now. Between posts of her cuter than cute daughter Clementine, writing chit chat and house reno's I'd developed a bit of an author crush.  She did not disappoint, and was completely lovely when I had ten minutes or so to chat to her at the Speed Dating for Authors (see my BEA recap).  My only regret is not bringing a little something for Clementine, who, lets face it, should have groupies.


Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
I have just a few words that will sum this reading experience up- one of the best books I've read all year.  With books like Red Glove (Holly Black), Rot and Ruin (Jonathan Maberry), The Dark and Hollow Places (Carrie Ryan), Behemoth (Scott Westerfeld), and Goth Girl Rising (Barry Lyga), already competing for the best book I've read in 2011, that's saying something. 

A beautiful tale, I was completely swept away by both the story and how it was told.  I've previously commented on Laini's impressive ability in building a completely encompassing world in a way that would rival both J.R.R Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, but it needs to be said again.  Not only is her world breath taking and fascinating, you'll step into it through her first couple of sentences and never question it once.  It's the quintessential art of writing Fantasy and Laini has repeatedly proved to me she's a master at it, and yet I'm still completely impressed by it with each new book I pick up of hers.

There is also a beauty to her writing, an almost Shakespearean talent of the actual story telling, which whips the whole thing up into this decadent, multi-layered chocolate cake of a treat.  And oh what a treat!  I picked Daughter of Smoke and Bone off the shelf knowing it was going to be a special read but completely unprepared with just how special it would be.  I could hardly put it down!  I mean we almost didn't eat for two days because of it, which has not happened since Mockingjay.  And tearing myself from the story for something as mundane as a work day was torture.

Karou's slow discovery of some of the mysteries that have surrounded her all her life, made the story an absolute page turner of intrigue and surprise twists. But hands down, my favorite aspect of Daughter of Smoke and Bone were the characters.  All carefully nuanced, I was constantly impressed how nobody was a stereotype or filler character.  Even the smallest characters were rounded out so nicely I felt I knew them, and nobody was strictly good or evil, which in a story who's tag line is
"Once upon a time an Angel and a Devil fell in love.  It did not end well"
was not only a feat but also unusual.  It gave Daughter of Smoke and Bone that added depth, which is often missing from less well crafted stories.

By the end I had two great regrets.  A- I didn't get this book signed, although I had the chance. and B- I'm going to have to wait what seems like forever for book two since I got Daughter of Smoke and Bone so early! 

I didn't get it signed because both my other two copies of Laini's books (the Dreamdark books) were signed by both her and her husband (the illustrator).  Also, since I'd already met Laini earlier in the week I felt like I should give someone else the chance (all the lines were limited to a certain extent at the BEA, so my being in line would inevitably mean someone else wouldn't get a copy).  Alas, hopefully I can see her on tour later in the year and get a signed copy then.

Coming out in September, you'll want to pre-order this baby now.  Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this story for even a minute if you don't have to.  If there is any justice in the world, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch Laini's career into the stratosphere, which will be well deserved to say the least.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor
Published by Little Brown, September 27th, 2011
Laini's Blog (you can become a Clementine groupie too!)
Laini's Website
Pre-order Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Amazon ASAP!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Link Salad

It's that time of week folks, time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on the news of the week!


-The biggest buzz of the week was certainly the Pottermore reveal, which turns out was really a Pottermore tease as the site doesn't come online until October.  Information released about the site talks about it being an interactive experience with the stories, with new and "hoarded" materials from Rowling as well as the official place to purchase the ebooks.


Honestly you have to read at least a half a dozen of the interviews with her to figure out the scope of the site as it's not all spelled out on her Youtube announcement .  So if you didn't read all the news make sure to check some of these out: msn entertainment article, usa today.com article, and this msn video interview with Rowling.  For by far the most comprehensive info on Rowling and Pottermore, including video, Press release and screen shots, make sure to check out the Leaky Cauldron.


If you head over to Pottermore.com you can register your email to be alerted on Harry Potters Birthday (also Rowlings) to sign up for early entry into the site.  The Rumor mill is abounding with all sorts of exotic extras that will be included for those folks, but likely as not you'll just be a test user to get buzz going.


-At Lesley Livingston's launch party for Once Every Never, she announced two more books in the series.  Titled: Every Never After and Now and for Never, and published by Penguin Canada.  This cleared up some confusion for me as I was so sure when she originally announced this book she had mentioned it being a series, but then I read the book and thought I must have misunderstood.  So voila! It is going to be a series.  


I reviewed Once Every Never earlier this week, so make sure to check it out if you haven't already.


-Finally, if you live in Toronto and would like to hook up with fellow book bloggers for events, coffee and such Amy of Amy Reads has the sign up for you! Head on over to her site an fill in her form and hopefully we can all get together soon (virtual or in person!).  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Feline Fridays- the lounge about report

Well we're all taking it easy today, it's on and off pouring rain and then insane humidity.  I'm planning a big Annex Cat Rescue event for next sunday's Pride Parade (you'll be able to find our table at 97 Maitland st., in front of Distinct Hair Design), the hubby is reading and the kitties are alternating naps and cuddles.

A few weeks ago my mom shipped a variety of furniture bits and bobs to me.  After 11 years of living in the big TO, it was deemed time for me to take on the various things I wanted to keep but couldn't bring back on the plane.

All of it did not make the first trip, as the moving company "misplaced" some of it.  So it all sits in my studio waiting for the missing bits so it can all move into it's permanent positions around the house.
This is Kitty heaven of course.

Deliah has been sleeping on the bench to an antique vanity my mom bought and refinished for me as a gift years ago.  Apparently it is the preferred nap place for princess's, despite it's missing mirror.

Thurman is in love with Deliah, (who pretends to hate him when everyone is looking but really gets all mushy for him in private) and wants to be as close as possible.  So he's taken up sleeping in the kitty stroller.

Don't be fooled by Thurman's apparent love of the Kitty Stroller.  Try to actually roll him out of the house in it and he won't look nearly so relaxed.  Now in my defence (I know you're looking at the kitty stroller and thinking- wow, crazy lady), the kitty stroller was bought for ease of taking said furry children to the vets- which is about a 15 minute walk away from the house.  But I would be a liar if I told you I didn't try to take them out for the occasional stroll.  Unfortunately, to-date, Topaz has been the only connoisseur of stroller strolls, everybody else just freaks out.  
Not to mention we get lots of dirty looks from new parents with strollers of their own (parents with older children love us, because their kids are completely enamoured by the whimsy, go figure!).  I'm sure we've either equalled or surpassed the fame of the lady who took late night strolls with her kitty on a leash in the neighbourhood. 
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini- Review

I have to be up front about this.  If you liked this book, go no further into this review.  Honestly, I know there's a crazy fan base out there but I'm going to be killing your mojo folks so be warned.

How do you defy destiny?
Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.



Starcrossed committed so many crimes against fiction I'm amazed it ever made it to publishing.  The story rambled like a lost baby bird, flitting here and there with very few of the actions either tying into the plot, developing the characters or Angelini's mythology.  The characters were many, and all equally unlikeable either because they were so underdeveloped they appeared more as cardboard cutouts then actual people in the story, or because they were developed in a completely bipolar way so you never felt like you understood them.  And finally the dialogue was so stilted and often absurd I found myself embarrassed for whoever was talking at the time.  

In short, the story was bad on an epic scale.  I was injured and totally couch bound while reading it, so my standards were set to the lowest of the low- entertain me levels.  I wasn't looking for Shakespeare folks, just an escape from hurting all over and not being able to eat any solid foods.


I'm pretty sure Josephine Angelini  lost me by about two pages in. Don't get me wrong, I stuck it out all agonizing 487 pages, but good lord!  A best friend nicknamed Giggles (they call her Gig and I really wanted to poke out my eyeball every time I read it, especially since she didn't seem to laugh a lot . Yah, honestly right?!), coupled with the description of Helen where she comes out sounding like some huge, buff giantess girl that people stare at, and I was already loudly going "huh?" and back peddling to re-read.  When a few pages in you think you've missed something? Not good.

But wait! There's more!  Wall flower giantess, Helen,  flies into a murderess rampage at the sight of the cute new guys at her high school (well, ok, isn't that every one's first reaction?).  And then finds out she can fly. And then falls in love with the guy she tried to kill.  Did I mention she's actually stunningly gorgeous and turns out, has Helen of Troy's face? Nope? Well how could I forget that?!  Guess the buff giantess thing was just supposed to throw us off the scent for a few hundred pages.
ps- notice the pacing of those sentences, the lack of development?  now imagine 487 pages of them.

Besides the just plain annoying things (Gig!!!! gah!), this story was all over the place. Descriptions about characters were flung around in this half hearted way but never seen through to their conclusions or just blatantly ignored. I.E. Helen is supposed to be incredibly shy but ends up wandering around an unfamiliar house in a transparent nightie completely unconcerned and then crawling into bed with the guy she previously tried to strangle.  Don't even get me started on her absurd relationship with her dad who is wildly unimpressed by her sudden relationship with this buff, hot guy driving a convertible but who also doesn't cause a fuss when she disappears for entire 24 hour periods.

Since I've obviously given up the "if you can't say anything nice" motto, I have to say this as well, why write about something that has already been beautifully done by someone else if you don't have anything new to add? Lets be honest, Rick Riordan has rocked the socks off of the Demigod story, and it's inevitable that Angelini's story be compared to his since they share similar mythology. Even the idea of Helen's un-resistible beauty has been done better in other YA fiction, Fire (by Kristin Cashore) is a stellar example of a character with a beauty so powerful it could be her downfall, and on both scores I feel like Angelini hasn't added anything that could be called her own to those ideas. 

But seemingly, what do I know?  Bloggers and authors alike have been raving about this debut novel, so I will leave you with this little clip of dialogue between Lucas and Helen and let you decide if you can take any more of it, 

"Falsefinders-Scions who can feel lies- are very rare, but I'm one of them.  I always know a lie when I hear it, and if it comes from someone close to me I can't stand it.  So you can't lie to me , Helen. Ever. If you don't want to tell me the truth, please, for my sake, don't say anything at all," he pleaded.

"Does it hurt?" Helen asked, her curiosity piqued.

"I've tried to explain to Jase how it feels, but I've never been able to get it right.  It's almost like that feeling you get when you've lost something really important and you can't find it, but it's much worse.  The longer the lie hangs there, the more frantic I get to find the truth.  I'll dig and dig for it..."

Starcrossed, By Josephine Angelini
Published by HarperTeen, May 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Once Every Never, by Lesley Livingston- Review


Honestly, I think this review might be torture for some of you.  Why you ask? Well, if you have the misfortune of living anywhere but Canada you're going to have a hard time getting your hands on Lesley Livingston's latest book, Once Every Never.  Sadly it's currently only set for publishing from Penguin Canada on July 1st, with no news yet on any foreign rights. Good news for me, bad news for any of you who don't have a Canadian pen pal.

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker … but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time— literally—maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every … never.

Once Every Never was the kind of rollicking adventure I'm starting to think is Livingston's signature way of telling a story.  Funny, fast paced and teeming with great characters, Lesley even managed to pick one of Europe's most under-appreciated historical female leaders as her historical hook up.  I think it's cool she's thrown in a little pre-Roman history, it's not the stuff you'd ever touch on before University so it should be news to most teens, plus Queen Boudica was pretty awesome.

Her main character Clare and her best friend Allie are the kind of girls I really enjoy reading about.  Friends since forever, really bright but way too capable of getting into loads of trouble, and full of amusing repartee largely made the story for me.  Set against them was the Celtic cast, who although 100% serious were intriguing and full of mysterious motives.  The way the two realities played against each other was the true success of the the story.  The levity of the present often keeping the seriousness of the past from being utterly grim.

I'm a huge history buff, and what little information or writing there is on the Iceni Queen I've eaten up like candy.  Not only does Lesley breath  life into a little known segment of history but she does a great job of presenting them as the glorious and proud people they're known to have been.  For those of you who read Once Every Never and then find yourself jonesing for a little more info about Boudica as well as several other lesser known kick-ass historical women, I would highly recommend Antonia Fraser's book, The Warrior Queens: The Legends and Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations to War.  Dry title but riveting stories, trust me, if you like the history of Once Every Never you'll really love Warrior Queens.

If you have the pleasure of being in Toronto this Tuesday night, make sure to RSVP for her launch party for the book.  Assuming I'm healed enough from my epic bike accident, I'll see you there.


Once Every Never, by Lesley Livingston
Published by Penguin Canada, July 2011
My Copy was kindly provided by Penguin Canada
Buy The Warrior Queens on Amazon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Suitcase/Mailbox

I realised I hadn't given you all a glimpse of my BEA books.  This is them, minus Beauty Queens and the Pirates of the Caribbean book.
The week I got back these 8 books popped through the mailbox as well.  I was so excited to see In The Forests of the Night I was almost beside myself!  Tyger Tyger was so amazing I can't wait to read this second Goblin Wars book.  And I have to say, 8 more books a day after unloading those suitcases was stressful, and yet still exciting (I have a problem obviously).
Although our postal system went from rotating strikes to full on lock out shortly after this box arrived Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (not pictured here) managed to sneak in my mailbox just before cut off!  I've been waiting on the edge of my seat for that one for awhile now.

Now, what's weighing down your shelves?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Link Salad

Well I'm still only typing with one hand, but at least I can eat and drink while I do it!!  So without further ado, let me get to this weeks news.

-Pottermore.  Ok, you've heard right?  If not where have you been?  Rumours have been running rampant all over the interweb about what this exciting new JK Rowling thing may be.  Looks like it will largely be interactive other webiness for the books.  Sigh if you thought it was a new book, I'm with you.  What has she been doing the past four years?  Anywho, official announcement countdown is on her very fancy Youtube spot.  4 days, 10 hours and 56 minutes and then we'll all officially know what the announcement is.  Evil, sheer evil.

- Veronica Roth has announced the title to book two of her hotter than hot series that started with Divergent.  Insurgent.
Yah, I know. Rhyme-y.   I forgive her though, Divergent kept me sane while waiting in the emergency and hurting a lot.  It kept me from thinking about how I was going to get home and how bad my face was going to look when I finally got a look at myself in the mirror.  So she's done her job well. Rhyme-y cutsiness is forgiven.

-Julie Kagawa revealed the back to her Iron Knight cover.  Is it just me, or is this a first?  I have got to read these books already so I can know who these guys are!

- The second part of the Deathly Hallows trailer has been released.  It's intense, and like the first one sort of shows to much, but boy oh boy will it get you in the mood! 

Cassie Clare has released some teasers for June.  Clockwork Princes is from the first chapter (which I know because of the sampler) and the ones from City of Lost souls are all one liners.  All good though, so make sure to check them out!

-Finally, Inkpop has made their move to the new 2.0 site.  It's pretty sweet, make sure you check it out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a good excuse

Things have been a little quiet here the past few days, and unfortunately they're going to stay that way for probably a couple more.  I had a little bike accident on the way to work Monday morning and haven't exactly been in the best shape.

I sort of caught myself with my face.  This is me with a few days of healing, and considerably less swelling (my lip was so swollen I haven't been able to eat except through a straw).  Sadly I also took out both my knees (so I can hardly walk), one foot, and my left hand (can't move my badly sprained left index finger, so I'm currently typing with my right hand only. Slow and oddly, full of typo's!).

I'm still reading though! It's about the only thing I can do right now, so I'll have oodles of reviews for you once my finger heals a bit.

Also, Happy Birthday to the amazing hubby.  He's had to baby me, to the  point of coming up with healthy mushy/straw food, and deal with the ambulance/emergency call and other stresses all during a week that should have been bout him!  I have the worst timing on earth.  I'm gonna have to throw him one hell of a party once I'm feeling better

So I hope everyone is having a better week than me! Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dreamwalk, by Sarah MacManus- Review


After the death of her mother, eighteen year old Chloe Hawthorn is haunted by terrifying nighttime hallucinations. Determined to take control of her dreams, she uses them to find Shane Anderson, a charming and troubled musician whose online videos have been holding her in thrall. She finds him in the Dreamtime, sweating out heroin detox in a run-down rehab center.
Chloe sets out to find Shane in the waking world and discovers her dreams have been taking her into the past. Horrified, Chloe realizes Shane doesn't survive his addictions. In order to save him, Chloe must master her Australian mother's legacy — the secret of walking the Dreaming through time. But what price will Chloe pay for this Dreamwalk and will she save Shane only to lose him forever?

Dreamwalk had the honour of being one of only two ebooks I've ever enjoyed.  There are a lot of really bad ebooks out there people.  So many in fact I feel there should be ebook police, because apparently it's just far too easy for someone to digitally upload a book to Amazon and sell it.  I'm with Beth Fish Reads on this one, Editors are important for a reason.
 
So doing my due duty on the ebook patrol, I'm telling you up front Dreamwalk is not only grammatically correct with no glaring typos, but it has a cohesive story with no big plot holes.  Better yet?  I really enjoyed it.
 
Chole and Shane are very likable, and as improbable as their relationship is, (he's from the past, she's from the future) I found myself cheering them on.  Though I have to say, he's older than her while in the past, and  although my hopeless math skills couldn't put a number to it,  I'm guessing that makes him quite a bit older than her when they meet up in the same time frame.  All the same I liked them, and my first question to Sarah was- well, do they get together??! See her guest post on the topic.
 
For me though, the originality in Dreamwalk was in the actual act of Dreamwalking, and some of the Australian aboriginals beliefs and practices behind it.  I loved that it tied back to her mom and customs passed down through women.  It was a really nice touch to something that would otherwise be just another paranormal YA thing.
 
It's always refreshing when something breaks the mold a little bit in YA, and Sarah definitely achieved that with this story.  So next time you're feeling stuck in a rut of stories with different titles but the same old romances give Dreamwalk a try. 
 
Dreamwalk, by Sarah MacManus
EPublished by YoungRebel Publications, March 2011
Buy the Ebook on Amazon
read an excerpt on Sarah's site

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday link Salad

It's been an almost supernaturally quiet week, so quiet in fact, that I worry somehow I just missed it all.  Either that or every single YA and Children's book blogger, author, critic, Librarian or reader has just been to consumed by the Wall Street Journal article to talk about anything else.

-Everyone has heard the legions of opinions for and against this article but I thought Laini Taylor's post the other day summed it up nicely.  Make sure to check out the links she highlights as well to get the full flavour of this ongoing debate.

-My only other piece of news *gasp* is that Lesley Livingston and Penguin Canada are having a Once Every Never launch party!  If you're going to be in TO on June 21st then make sure to RSVP.  I'm going, so hopefully I'll see you there.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Feline Fridays- Why the fuzzy kids love reviewing books

Every single time review books come in a box, the kitties have a fun filled day. Sleeping, playing, sniffing and otherwise abusing the box.  All day.  And then at bed time it goes into recycling, and they just have to wait for the next box to arrive on the doorstep.  It makes the appearance of every review book just as exciting for them as it is for me!

ps- Random House- the kitties thank you for the fun provided to them today!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Clockwork Prince Chapter Sampler

One of those lovely surprise moments for me at the BEA was when I grabbed a chapter sampler of Clockwork Prince.  It's no surprise that the cover reveal of Clockwork Prince, at the Simon and Schuster booth, was one of the Mega events of the week.  I headed straight there upon arrival because, like everyone else, I wanted to see it.  So I was kind of taken aback when I discovered, in the less than five minutes the doors were open, there was already and enormous snaking line up.  I asked someone who was already eagerly waiting in the line if it was just for the cover reveal, only to find out there were going to be T-Shirts and Chapter samplers given out as well.

I had no desperate need for a Tshirt, and as cool as the chapter sampler sounded I wasn't getting in the line for it, not when there were some pretty exciting book line ups to get into (as in, complete books. Lisel and Po, Crossed and Daughter of Smoke and Bone were already forming lines).  So I buggered off with a shrug of my shoulder, alas me and Clockwork Prince teasers would have to be online buddies instead.

When an hour or so later I passed through the booth to see the cover, now the crowd had dispersed, I was totally shocked to see a pile of about 10 or so chapter samplers left.  I wandered over to the publicist to see if I could snag one, and ask why they weren't all gone.  Turns out the line wasn't really a reading one (weird right? this was the BOOK expo of America after all), they were largely after the Tshirts, and sadder yet, a good many of them were there just because there was a line and didn't know what Clockwork Prince was!
Sacrilege!!

Wednesday really was my lucky day, because I curled up to read the sampler last night and it made my night.  57 pages of super Cassie goodness, of which I desperately wish I could quote you some of.  Suffice it to say I was jonesing for the rest by the end.

It looks like Jem is going to be a big part of this story, and as Cassie's teasers seem to hint, there's going to be some love triangulating.  It also looks like we'll get a closer look at some of the peripheral shadowhunters from Clockwork Angel, the Lightwoods and Consul Wayland. Not to mention there was a wicked scene with Magnus which hinted a tiny bit about Will's issues.  In true Cassie style, she covered a lot of ground in the three chapters given out.

I'm so smitten I might just wish away my summer in anticipation of  Clockwork Prince's December 6th release.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blood Magic (The Blood Journals), By Tessa Gratton- Review

Don't let the sub title confuse you (the Blood Journals), according to Tessa Gratton's site this is a stand alone novel.  To quote Jeff Hirsch from the Speed dating with children's and YA authors "I know right? Probably the only stand alone book on the planet" (of course he was talking about his own, but it's the reaction these days to anything that, egads! isn't part of a series).  Stand alone's are pretty appealing in a book; a fully wrapped up story contained in one book, already in your hands?  No waiting for a sequel, or part three, two or three years down the road?  I'm in.


Now mix that with an almost Poe like story done up YA style and you'll start to see why people like Maggie Stiefvater are swooning over this tale.


From Tessa Gratton's website:


For Nick Pardee and Silla Kennicot, the cemetery is the center of everything.
Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths.
Together they plunge into the world of dark magic.....
I liked so many elements of this story totally in and of themselves but how they came together was fresh, exciting and what made Blood Magic it's own animal in the realm of YA paranormal fiction.  Both Nick and Silla are really unique characters.  They have no interest in what others at school think of them and quickly become the pariahs of their high schools hierarchy. One of my favourite Nick moments is when he shows up to barn party wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora.  I grew up in Saskatchewan, and while I might have been a city girl, I can fully appreciate how strong an individual he would need to be to even consider doing that let alone pulling it off.  And honestly, when he later ploughs through a damp field and considers for the first time that his dress shoes weren't the best choice, I was sold.  He's possibly my favourite male character, in YA, since Jace and that's saying something.
Tessa goes full out dark with the story and doesn't wimp out with the usual halfway measures.  Characters die, things get messy and screwed up in a way that's not fixable, and the line between good and evil definitely blurs from time to time.  The horror elements pack excellent punch as well.  Reams of reanimated dead animals, ghoulish grave robbing and an evil force to be reckoned with, who only slowly reveals herself through journal entries.  I loved being dragged through the drama, sometimes grossed out but always on the edge of my seat, and dying for more.
The flavour of this book was, as I've said, very Poe-ish, lots of horror, a little bit of the requisite teen romance, and a very dark atmosphere.  It came together beautifully and was a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I can hardly wait until next year when the companion novel The Blood Keeper comes out (also a stand alone).  May she inspire more YA authors to test the bounds with their novels.
Blood Magic (The Blood Journals), by Tessa Gratton
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, May 2011
Check out Tessa's website
Buy Blood Magic on Amazon

Monday, June 6, 2011

And the Winners are.......

I have two contests that need announcing, so without further ado...

Two copies of Vaclav and Lena were up for grabs from the charming folks over at Random House.  They're being sent off to:
Christa of Hooked on Books
and
Christine Davis!

Now the big one.  There were 219 entrants for my Splash into Summer, wish you were here at the BEA contest! Wow.  And that's not even including the bonus entries!
Here's the list of lucky winners:

Melissa Caldwell will be receiving:
A Binky the Space cat display, Signed copy of Original Sin, Chapter Sampler of the highly anticipated Death Cure, and Sampler of the Art of Epic Mickey

Kris Chen will be receiving:
Signed Copy of Dreams of Joy, the collection of bookmarks including a signed book mark for the forthcoming Faerie Ring.

Spav will be receiving:
An ecopy of Sarah MacManus's Dreamwalk

Ambur Hostyn will be receiving:
A signed poster for The Knightly Academy

Thanks to everyone for entering, I hope you all enjoy your books and swag.

*two quick notes, all books and swag from the BEA were taken by me, for me, and are not duplicates. Also please note, Canada Post is currently experiencing a rotating walk out (strike).  Books and swag may take a little longer than usual to arrive at their destinations.

Angel Burn, by L.A. Weatherly- Review

With a stunning cover, a brand spanking re-branding for American audiences (including title) and an interesting premise, Angel Burn shot straight to the top of my reading list upon arrival.

Willow is the odd girl out, she has an unusual family situation, loves tinkering with cars and to top it off, is psychic.   After doing a psychic reading for a girl at school, Willow is alarmed to discover not only is there such a thing as Angels, but there's such a thing as evil Angels.   Before she knows it, this discovery has her on the run with a bonafide Angel assassin, not to mention uncovering an unbelievable secret about her own background.  

I really loved the premise behind this story.  The idea that Angels aren't all they've been trumped up to be over the past few millennia, and in fact many of our health problems stem from them directly, was a really fun twist on the traditional angel mythology.  I also really enjoyed Alex's background as an AK- Angel Killer.

Which brings me to my next great love of this story.  Alex.  What a fantastic character!  One part super assassin and one part teenager without a childhood he had great potential.  I wasn't the slightest bit surprised when I read L.A. Weatherly say he'd been floating around in her head for almost twenty years.  His and Willows mad dash across the country was much more believable with his list of talents.

However, and I have to say this, the love story plunked in the middle was hugely cheese ball.  I know, I know, there's gonna be girls swooning over it from Manitoba to the Philippines, but it really made me gag.  Not only did I not buy into the switch from resentful road companions to hard core sappy love story but the endless cheesy rehash of how they really were hot for each other while they weren't getting along to begin with made me want to stop reading.
And then maybe bleach my eyeballs a little.
It was painful how over the top it was, for the first time ever I felt like the line was being seriously blurred between my mom's bodice rippers and the YA I was reading, and I was embarrassed by it.

But I did love the actual story (when it wasn't on hiatus for romance pandering), enough so that I will actually pick up part two whenever it makes its way to the American publishing market (book two is called Angel Fire in the UK and is set to release there in October of this year).  I have faith in L.A. Weatherly, she has a strong story with a cool concept, and hopefully she's gotten the cheese out of her system and these books can become the action packed race against religious ardour they have so much promise to be.

This book was sent to me by the fine folks of Candlewick Press.
Angel Burn (Angel in the UK), by L. A. Weatherly
Published by Candlewick, May 2011
L.A. Weatherly's website
Buy Angel Burn on Amazon

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The long awaited BEA post

the entry into the party
Alright, now some of you are likely to be sick to death of all the BEA recaps at this point, but seeing as some of you don't follow anyone else who BEAed, I'm just going to go for it.  So welcome to the mammoth BEA post.  I'll try to make some identifiable breaks so you don't have to kill yourself reading it all in one go.

MONDAY


The trip got off to a slightly stressful start.  I had dressed, at 9am in the morning, for both the trip as well as the possibility that I might have to head directly to the Random House tea I'd been invited too.  The plan was to arrive, check in, and flit off to the tea in fairly short succession, with ample time to
change should the need arise.  But I'm a practical girl and I realize that if I'm flying, then something is bound to go wrong.  It's Murphy's law that if you need to fly somewhere on a tight schedule and look nice then you're going to  sully yourself in multiple places using many imaginative techniques, as well as have delays.  So we soon found our flight an hour behind schedule with more and more unpleasant brown spots cropping up all over my outfit as we waited to leave the tarmac (of course they all looked like pooh, or chocolate, but since I'd been nowhere near either, who knows what they were?!).

the tea station
Lucky for me our luggage came way before everyone elses (there was some crazy obnoxious high school group on our flight who were taking over the entire airport the longer we hung around) and our cabbie was an almost super pro at dealing with unmoving traffic, and despite the odds I made it in excellent time to the Random House party (without changing or going to the hotel alas).

Every picture I took of Lisa was like this. Sorry Lisa!
Since it turned out to be the perfect way to start the book lovers marathon that was our week, I couldn't be happier I was both invited and able to make it!  Set up like a quintessential tea party the room at Random House's head offices was packed with books, delectable treats and book lovers of all sorts.  There were little sandwiches, cocktails and both hot and cold tea but the highlight of the munchies were the trays of Macaroons! mmmmmm, yum!

The yummy spread
Lisa See was the author for this event, and after snacking and perusing the Random House book club picks set up for the goodie bags, Lisa regaled us with stories of her son's wedding, how everyone told her nobody would want to read Snowflower and the Secret Fan and how everyone who did read it would think she was a lesbian. She wrapped things up by signing the sequel, Dreams of Joy, and sent us back to the food tables and mingling.

I met a few fine folks, ate a couple more macaroons and then wandered down to the hotel to catch up with the hubby who'd meanwhile picked up our BEA badges and checked us into the hotel (that hubby sure is handy).  For the evening we strolled the hood and found some scrumptious Turkish food (mmmmm lamb done 4 different ways! heavenly) then discovered I have an unerring memory for direction as, on a crap shoot wander, I led us right to the door of the Strand!  All I have to say is thank god we didn't succumb and buy any books the first night.

TUESDAY


Ashley Spires
Tuesday morning was the official start of BEA, and the hubby and I arrived just as the doors were opening and were immediately swept away by it all.  I had RSVP'd for the speed dating with children and YA authors for 10:30am  and so didn't get too carried away on the floor before I had to trundle off, but somehow we already had a handful of books (and I was honestly trying to be sooo good!).

The Speed dating was awesome, in an hour and a half I met 19 children/YA authors and had a pitch about their forthcoming books.  To my great delight I arrived a bit early and got to sit with Laini Taylor and her editor Alvina and chat a bit before hand.  Since Laini and her book The Daughter of Smoke and Bone were in the top three things I was excited about for the week this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.  We talked about Laini's super star daughter, the cutest thing since kittens and puppies were invented, Clementine, and about driving on the wrong side of the road in England.  I couldn't have been happier.

James Dashner
Carrie Jones
The event was a great way to hear about books, straight from the source, before heading out into the melee of BEA.  Six of the books hadn't been on my radar which all sounded too good to pass up, and which I might not have run across otherwise.  The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, by Meg Wolitzer,  Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Aliens on Vacation by Clete Smith, After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel, and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

the beautiful drop set up for Dark Eden
After the Speed dating I hooked up with the hubby who'd found loads of great books while I was chatting up authors and booksellers. We had a quick lunch before he jetted off to the American Natural History Museum to meet his uncle and I went back to line up for the books I was now stoked about from the morning chats.  By 4:30pm I was running back to the hotel to drop off some more books and jumping in a near death cab experience (we made it more than 25 blocks in 7 minutes, I think it was the craziest NYC cab ride I've had in all three visits to the city) to meet the boys for dinner on the upper east side.   Yummy pizza ensued, with a stroll to Times Square and the Hershey store, on the way home,  for a much needed chocolate treat before some serious Wednesday planning and bedtime.

Now it needs to be said, I had carefully scheduled my three BEA days based on the schedules listed early on the BEA site, only to discover over the course of Tuesday that they were largely inaccurate and almost everything had either changed times, changed venues or both.  I also discovered Publishers Weekly is published daily over the course of the Expo and often contains some of the non scheduled or "surprise" events and drops. So Tuesday night I made up a whole new schedule based on the BEA guide and the Publishers Weekly info and then I made sure to arrive a bit early so I could check out the next days PW in line and be up to the minute on all the happenings.



WEDNESDAY


Lauren Kate
Ally Condie
Eoin Colfer
Wednesday was the BIG day, with probably 80% of the signings and drops all happening over the course of the day and most of them either at the same time or overlapping.  This is when the hubbies secret potential was fully unleashed.

I had  resigned myself to the fact, it would be impossible to do all the things on my list for Wednesday, there was just no way I would be able to be in multiple places at the same time.  Turns out having two people was the perfect way to do it all!  Especially when one of them is super into the hunt.  While I was stranded in some mega line somewhere, chatting up authors and librarians about all things bookish , the hubby would be trundling off and discovering coveted surprise signings and book drops all over the place.  Then he'd saunter back and casually hand me something like Lauren Kate's latest book Passion, signed no less, and make some major understatement such as "You're reading this right?", while everyone in line around me died of jealousy.  In the end we did all the things on my wish list on Wednesday except the talks, which were so wildly over packed they just weren't worth suffocating over.  Luckily they're all posted as podcasts now, so not only can I hear them properly but I can be completely comfortable while doing so!
Bill Willingham

Some of the highlights included getting signed copies of Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld, Crossed by Ally Condie, The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, Passion by Lauren Kate, Plugged by Eoin Colfer (number two on my top three things for the week, and although I got totally fanstruck and only managed a lame "I love Artemis Fowl", the hubby had enough fortitude to make the conversation happen without me), as well as unsigned copies of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, and Lisel and Po, by Lauren Oliver. Not to mention a large number of books I hadn't heard about before but looked like they had great potential.  Needless to say we were both thoroughly worn out by the end of Wednesday.  We ate some delicious and really unusual sushi (Aoki Sushi), I bought some Benadryl for my sleeping issues (endless thanks to Steph of Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust for that excellent suggestion) and we headed back to our hotel to plan, rest and get off our aching feet for awhile.

Don't let anyone fool you.  No matter how comfortable your shoes, how padded your soles, nothing will stop your feet from aching at the end of a long day of walking and standing in lines. Nothing but getting off said feet, and babying them up for the next days abuse.

THURSDAY



By Thursday, the BEA had quieted down considerably.  I wasn't so crazy I needed to camp out for the entire morning for Melissa Marr (her books are in my TBR eventually list after all, so I thought I'd leave the line to the die hard fans),  and the only really long line of my day was for Frost, which got cut off one person in front of me, so saved me standing around!  We called it a day around 3pm and headed out to the Shake Shack for late lunch burgers and shakes on our way down to scholastic for Libba Brays signing with Meg Cabot and Maggie Stiefvater.

The burgers were insanely delicious as usual, damn that shake shack! Why don't they branch out into Ontario?  And of course the ladies were hilarious.

While Meg Cabot regaled us with advice (keep a diary if you want to write someday, and then name all your evil characters after those who were mean to you), Maggie regaled us with all the ways a wolf could die in the wilderness, and Libba, meanwhile, pranced around in a Be Big, a Clifford the Big Red Dog poster and told us about how David Leviathan gave her the idea for Beauty Queens.

They were so amusing even the hubby found them funny, and I'm pretty sure it was one of the most amusing author talks I have ever been too.  I truly would have bought all three of their books to be signed if I wasn't already slightly panicked about how to get the close to 80 books back at the hotel into our luggage and home.

Scholastic threw an excellent This is Teen event, which we needn't have arrived so ridiculously early for because it didn't overfill until the last minute, and I would highly recommend hitting it up on it's tour run if it arrives in your hood.  

I've had my little swoon over how incredibly wonderful Libba was in person (so satisfying when you've adored someone from afar for so long).  But I'll say it one last time (well likely not last since I'm reading Beauty Queens as we interweb), she's funny and lovely and she knew my blog!  I nearly floated out of Scholastic, and it was certainly one of the biggest highlights of an amazing trip.

We proceeded to have divine lasagna at a restaurant we discovered on our last visit (amusingly enough called Ristorante Lasagna), while I mooned a little more about the signing and then went back to the hotel to crash.  By this point in the trip my feet had begun to swell hideously and out of control (no idea why), so it was a great relief to finally lay down that night and not worry about a super early alarm clock wake up.

FRIDAY

Because my feet were the size of watermelons, I decided to take it easy on Friday and headed over to the Book Blogging Convention in time for the first session and skipped the keynote and breakfast.  I checked out some great panels, but was a bit bummed I couldn't do both of the first two sets of panels since they were interesting enough it was hard to choose between them.  The final panel of the day was a bit of a disappointment, so as soon as it was not rude to do so, I crept out.

I headed to the hotel and put my feet up for a bit while the hubby headed out to pick up his old high school buddy and his girlfriend who had just pulled into NYC from Boston for a visit.  Once they were settled they came to pick me and my gruesome feet up and we headed out for the night.  We had an awesome time down in Soho and although I had to bail a couple of hours before they were done for the night (I could barely walk by 11pm and it looked like one wrong move and my stupid feet might actually have popped), they managed to carry on and even bump  into Jim Belushi!

SATURDAY


Now was the scary part.  We had to Pack.
All. Those. Books.
Turns out the hubby is also a super packer under pressure.  While I fussed and fumed he got down to business and packed all 84 books in such a way we didn't even have over weight luggage!  I know! amazing right?  His comment on his mad packing skills- It's like Tetris, but harder.
Three checked bags and two carry on's later (oh and there were a couple of books stashed in my purse too), and we were ready to check out of our awesome hotel and spend our last few hours in NYC.

My feet still were in pretty sad shape but the up side is it led to some interesting amusements for the day we might not have thought of otherwise.  We met up with Lance and Erika again, and started heading towards Central Park.  We found a Mexican restaurant with a bottomless mimosa included in brunch and settled in to enjoy.  Afterwards we hit Central Park and discovered some of what makes NYC such a great city.  Two words, Roller-skate Dancers.
Well, and turtles.

Did you know there are turtles in the Central Park pond?  There are.  A lot of them.  And they're pretty friendly.  Especially if they think you might feed them.  We didn't, but we didn't tell them that.

Now back to those Roller-skate dancers.  Not only do they dance on old school retro roller-skates, but they have a DJ, skates that you can borrow and join in, and the best part?  They're there every weekend, because they're an association.  It was awesome, a mix of 50 year old figure skaters, guys who were obviously still using their moves from the '70's and wearing the same outfits too (even though they were now 30 pounds heavier), some ripped young black guys who were doing some crazy moves, and one strange old guy with no skates who just danced in the middle.  It was fun, funny and somehow quintessentially New York.

And suddenly it was time to grab the luggage and head home.
I had an awesome time, I met some wonderful bloggers, authors and publishers.  The weather was stunning, and the hotel was perfect.  I came home totally exhausted but thrilled with how much fun me and the hubby both had.  I can't wait to do it again next year!