Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Published: Sept 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Pages: 405
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads


Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Violence in the community. It is all around us and we often point fingers and judge but when you start to peel back the layers and learn about the people involved, it isn't always so black and white. This was such a powerful book. I had seen it on the shelves and walked by over and over again. I hate to say it but I really chose not to read it because I didn't like the cover. One day, I decided to branch out and try. I'm so glad I did.

Hate List was such a compelling book. Val and Nick created this list to share between themselves as an outlet for their feelings of being ostracized and criticized for being different. Nick just chose to take it one step further. Val's return back to society is a long climb and she encounters a mix of both positive and negative experiences and has to learn to re-integrate herself back into society and deal with the intense feelings of guilt that she carries. It doesn't help that she still loves Nick, someone who has now been characterized as a heartless murderer. She is seen as both a villian and a hero in the shooting and I loved watching her grow. Yes, it is another story about coming into your own and growing up.

If you enjoyed Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult, you might like this as well. This book made me cry....but in a good way. Let's see if it does the same for you.

The Darkest Powers Series by Kelley Armstrong

Published: 2009/2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copies provided by: Library

I have been a fan of Ms. Armstrong since she wrote her first adult novel, 'Bitten'. I had gone to a workshop on 'horror fiction' and was surprised to find her werewolf book included under the horror banner, but I tried it out and loved it and have been a major fan ever since then. The fact that she is one of us, i.e. Canadian, just made it all the sweeter. When I heard that she was going to venture into YA fiction, I was immediately curious and decided I had to try them out.

The world that this series is based in is the same as the one her adult books inhabit, so most of the actual world building is already in place, and some of the characters from those novels are mentioned in passing. Psychic and magical powers are accepted as part of life, if swept under the carpet somewhat, and just about anything can and does happen. Chloe Saunders can see ghosts, in fact it turns out she's a 'genetically altered necromancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying'. (from Ms Armstrong's website) When she finds herself at Lyle House, a home for troubled teens, she discovers that she is not the only one with problems (read powers). Chloe runs away from Lyle House with Simon, Derek and Rae, but instead of finding a safe place they are betrayed over and over again. It's a wonderful story, with complex twists and turns and if you haven't tried the series yet, I highly recommend it.

I've just been looking on Ms Armstrong's website and here is the cover for the next YA book 'The Gathering'
It looks as if it follows in the series, but the blurb on the website doesn't mention any of the old characters! It's due out April 2011 in hardcover, so keep your eyes peeled.

You can find a list of Ms Armstrongs adult novels HERE and if you are an older teen, there is no reason that you can't try them out for yourself. Some of you may remember me saying that Christinabean had given me a copy of the latest title 'Waking the Witch' for my birthday, which I am looking forward to reading. May'be I'll be able to get it signed at the Smart Chicks Kick It tour stop in Brampton, which Christinabean and I are going to on Sept 25th. If you're interested in a list of the dates you can find one HERE.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In My Mailbox (Christinabean) - August 30

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which bloggers post about the books they have received for the week. Books may be won, taken out from the library or bought from a store.

A couple weeks ago I received a signed copy of Fallen from Lauren Kate. She generously sent one to me after I sponsored her in a fundraising marathon for cancer. That was so sweet of her. If you'd be interested in sponsoring her as well, you can find out more here.

As always, I do have quite a haul from the library as well. Those that I aim to finish are -

I was tempted to purchase Mockingjay but I'm holding off since I'm one of the first people on the list to receive it once it is catalogued. Can't wait to read it!! Has anyone else finished it yet? Besides, my TBR pile is about a mile or two high.  What's in your mailbox?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Published: May 2009

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 294

Copy Provided by: Purchased

Summary: Goodreads


Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

I have to admit, this is my first fairy book. I'm not sure why I have never tried reading about fairies before. Perhaps I am more interested in vampires, demons and werewolves but I thought I'd give it a try. Part of the reason why I love this blog is because it pushes me to try new genres of reading. So to give you an idea of the depth of fairy knowledge Curlypow and I have, if we were to be reading about fairies, I would be reading Fairies for Dummies and Curlypow would be writing the Fairy Encyclopedia. I guess that makes me a fairy virgin...so does that make Miss Curlypow a fairy ho? (hahahahaha! Sorry, C, that was such a funny comment....I didn't mean to make it rhyme though!)

OK, back to the book. This was an easy read and at first I felt that it could be aimed at a younger audience (pre-teens). I feel that older teens would like it as well but the reading level was set lower than some of the books I have been reading as of late.

Laurel is such a lovely girl - cautious, careful and always thinking of others. Ms. Pike captured her innocence beautifully and slowly built up her relationship with David. When Tamani steps in, he really throws her for a loop as he is so familiar to her and understands her well without taking the same time to know her as David has. This book gives perspective in growing up one way and then discovering that you belong to a different culture. I can't wait to see how she develops as a character in future books (plus, will she choose David or Tamani?).

The pace of the story was steady and the author took the time to develop the characters well before the real action began. Overall, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to adding Spells to my TBR pile.

Curlypow reviewed the 2nd book, Spells last month so stop by and take a peek. Ms. Pike is coming out with two more books in the series. Book # 3 is called Enchantments (release date is May 2011) and #4 is Illusions. I visited her website and unfortunately, she does not have any appearances planned. I did find out that she is the mother of 3, she just finished a draft of Book #4...now not entitled Illusions, and is also working on a stand-alone title! Busy girl! Learn more about Aprilynne Pike on her website and her blog....she's also on twitter.

Don't forget to enter our contest! We are giving away a copy of Wings + a pair of hand-knit socks. The contest is open to Canada and the USA and ends at midnight on September 2nd. You must be a Google Follower to enter but there are many ways to gain extra entries as well. Good luck!

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Published: March 2010
Publisher: Delacorte
#Pages: 407
Copy provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known and, and all she needs for happiness. But life after the Return is never safe and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back. Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but, like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling. One night beyond the Barrier . . . One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery . . . One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry knows only one thing: if she has any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.

I have to hand it to Ms. Ryan, she must be extremely talented to write two books about everyone's (almost) favourite monster without ever mentioning the 'Z' word. Yes, The Dead-Tossed Waves and its predecessor, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, are both about Zombies, but nowhere in either book is the word mentioned. We hear about 'Mudos', the 'Returned' and the 'Unconsecrated', but never zombies. There's not even a mention of rotting flesh! Plenty of moaning tho' - 'I hear the moans before I see anything' (p188)

Now don't get me wrong, DTW is not just about z.....s (I'm loath to actually write the word now), it's also a story about finding yourself, and your roots, and navigating the eternal teenage love triangle. 'Once I thought I understood Catcher, or at least was starting to. Now I feel as if he's more of a stranger to me than Elias' (p268)

The main character in this book is Gabry and the story tells of her friendship with Cira, Catcher and Elias. An incident occurs at the beginning of the book that shapes the way their lives will play out, and we follow their journey through the forest to their future. There is a certain sense of futility throughout the book that is overcome by determination and I just love this.

'I realize that this is the way the world works. If I could stop the spin, stop the rotation, I would have done so long ago, I would have stopped the first moment that ....... lips met mine under the moon in the amusement park. I would have held us in that eternity forever. But of course everything presses forward, even as we dig our feet against the reality of it all. One event tumbles from the next out of our control and we are dragged along, helpless.
That's why I force myself to raise my eyes, to take that step and to face what's happened. Even though I know more clearly than I've known anything else that what I'm about to see will break me." (p281/2)

This book is written so beautifully that I want to quote from every chapter. Here's an amazing description of a kiss (but I'm not telling who's kissing who!).

'His kiss is warm. It's more full of life than any moment I've ever experienced. It's heat, it's pressure and need and desire. His fingers tangle in my braid, bringing me closer to him and my hands pull to his back, feeling the flex of his shoulders under my touch. Sparks shatter in my head and I understand in this moment what he means about this being what life is.'
Isn't that just beautiful?

The suspense really ratchets up a notch or two towards the end of the book, and I found myself racing to finish it. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story (even if it is about z......s). If you haven't read 'Forest of Hand and Teeth' don't worry, it won't stop you enjoying this one, but I'm sure you'll want to go back and read it after you've finished. I'm going to leave you with a few more quotes, just because I loved the way this book was written, and I think the real message is one of hope.

'My mother places her palm flat against mine. "It's never been a perfect world. It's never going to be. It's going to be hard and scary and, if you're lucky, wonderful and awe-inspiring. But you have to push through the bad parts to get to the good." ' (p362)

'He pauses, rests his forehead into the curve of my neck. "Before you my life was nothing but wandering and solitude and death. Now with you there's possibility." ' (p358)

'I let her words roll through my head and nod. And we sit together for a while listening to the Mudo thrash against the fences and the water drip through the night and then finally she stands and pulls me to my feet and we push on up the path toward morning.' (p359)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Get on the ARC train - woot! woot!

There are some crazy contests going on right now with massive prizes.  This one caught my eye.  Sara has a brilliant blog and seems plow through that TBR pile.  She has over 150 books read in 2010 alone!  Wow!  So she is holding an ARC contest and here are some of the ARCs that are included -

There are more than this and the best part is that Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness are signed!!  The contest is international and runs until September 8th.  What are you waiting for?

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Published: January 2010
Publisher: Point
# Pages: 336
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads

For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back. With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again. In a breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, Wish asks the question: If you could have anything, what would you wish for?

This was a very sweet story about Olivia trying to come to terms with her sister's death. When she moves to San Francisco she makes new friends and tries to fit in, while learning how to live on her own and become her own person. She becomes friendly with Calla, who is not your usual queen bee, but seems like a genuinely nice person. When Olivia is invited to a fancy gala, she receives a fancy new dress and discovers she can have one wish.

Wish is a little bit of a Cinderella story, with a combination fairy godmother and genie in Posey, who is wonderfully gruff and unfriendly. There is of course a handsome prince, and the development of this story arc was interesting, with a wonderful little twist half-way through. The first kiss was just really lovely and I had a wonderful aaahhh moment. In fact all of the characters were nice - I related to Calla's heartbreak and Olivia's confusion, Mike's disappointment and Soren's tentative flirting.

I personally hadn't seen any advertising for 'Wish', although I'm sure there was some out there. I was going through the new additions at work and I thought it looked interesting. When you read a story that has had a lot of press, you start with certain expectations and this wasn't the case with 'Wish'. I was very pleasantly surprised. It didn't take me long to finish the book and I quite enjoyed it. It was a gentle, thoughtful story, that I think gave the message that it's ok to move on with your life after tragedy.

Friday Book Blogger Hop - August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Friday Book Blogger Hop

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop  is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!

Each week, participating blogs are asked questions to post and answer on their websites.

Today's question is -
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?
We do not use a rating system for our reviews.  Instead, we prefer to give you only subjective description of the book and why we enjoyed (or didn't) the book. 
Make yourself at home, take a look around our blog and let us know what you think in the comments section. We would love to hear what you have to say about our posts. Since there are two of us running the show, we always have a variety of titles and events we are commenting on.

BTW, have you seen our COZY UP WITH A GOOD BOOK contest? It is running until the beginning of September. We’re giving away a copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike and a pair of hand-knit socks. You can enter here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Musings by Knitwits

Author: Pam Allen
Published: Sept. 2004
Publisher: Interweave Press
Copy provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads
This collection of 31 elegant and ingenious scarf designs tap the expertise of more than 25 knitwear designers who offer new ways to think about this most basic of garments. Designs by Kathryn Alexander, Debbie Bliss, Nancy Bush, Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, Sasha Kagan, Sally Melville, and Kristin Nicholas are included, representing a varied exploration of techniques that provide innovative ways to think about knitting and crochet. Sections on knitting and crochet basics, making a scarf without a pattern, and a designer's notebook with templates for basic scarves and suggestions for design variations are provided.
Ok, last month I mentioned socks - speaking of which, have you checked out our Curl Up With a Good Book giveaway yet. If not, check it out HERE. Sorry, back to the post! This month I wanted to suggest that you budding knitters out there try a scarf this time around. Scarves are pretty straight-forward. You can cast on 30 stitches, and then knit every row until just before you run out of yarn, then cast off. Yep, it's that easy! But sometimes you want a scarf that has just a little more to it than that.
This book is really good for that. It gives instructions for striped scarves, cabled scarves, lacy scarves, fringed scarves, big scarves, little scarves, huge scarves - ok you get the picture. It even has instructions for a turtleneck with arms, that you can turn into a scarf - ok, you have to see the photo of that one on the cover and inside to understand it, but it's pretty cool. Oh, I just found a pattern for a neat crocheted scarf as well!
Anyway, with Fall on the way and the weather thinking about getting a little cooler, scarves are a really neat way to keep warm. You can never have too many if you ask me. So if you'd like to try out your knitting skills on something simple and useful, check out this book. There are actually 31 patterns for you to choose from, and I'm sure you could find at least one that you'd like to attempt.
Hmmm! May'be we could try another giveaway in the winter with a book and a scarf instead of socks? Let's see how popular this month's giveaway is and we might just consider it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday- Crusade

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Published: Sept 7th, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
# Pages: 384
Summary: Goodreads

The ultimate battle. The ultimate love.
For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.
Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated—and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.
Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself—and her heart.

I've enjoyed so many of Ms. Holders books, this one looks as if it will be another good one.
What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Published: March 2010
Publisher: Harper Teen
#Pages: 329
Copy provided by: Christabean via Library
Summary: Goodreads

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Christinabean was ahead of me on the hold list for this one, but she very kindly gave it to me to read first and I am really glad she did. This book was absolutely amazing! I finished it in less than 24 hrs and I loved every minute of it. It's really 2 stories in one. A beautiful tale of first love that just swept me away, and a gritty, frightening mystery that had my stomach churning.

Violet's growing feelings for her childhood friend are real and believable and I found myself smiling while I was reading. 'He was like an eager five-year-old. It was kind of childish. But also really adorable.' (p65) I really enjoyed exploring the new feelings Violet and Jay have for each other, at times happy and at others bittersweet. Never once did they feel forced or false. I also very much enjoyed Ms Dertings descriptions of life at school., 'Violet had never really stopped to watch the groupings before, and it was a bit like watching spastic monkeys at the zoo.' (p116)

But the other side of the book, the mystery over the deaths of several teenage girls, had me holding my breath, and checking over my shoulder. Ms. Derting uses italics for the chapters that are written from the killers POV and it got to the point that whenever I saw the change in typeface my stomach would clench. There was one point, around p180, where my heart almost leapt into my throat. I was so involved in what was going on that I started to feel nervous, and I could feel the adrenaline in my system. I was completely hooked.

Violet has a psychic ability, but this is not the focus of the book. The focus was on the characters and the tension that builds from the murders. Violet has come to terms with her ability (she refuses to call it a 'gift'), and is very down to earth about it. It is used as a tool to help solve a mystery. There is no drama attached to it, she just accepts it and I really liked this in the book.

There is a very important message that becomes obvious early in the book about never talking to strangers. We all know we shouldn't, and as little kids we are very aware, however as a general rule, as we get older we tend to forget and become more trusting. After reading this book, you won't be going out at night by yourself, or talking to anyone you don't know.

Excellent romantic suspense Ms Derting. I loved it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox - Curlypow Aug. 23rd, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which bloggers post about the books they have received for the week. Books may be won, taken out from the library or bought from a store.

So I had lots of fun this week spending money at book closeouts. Veeerry dangerous place to visit with a credit card, but oh, so much fun. My favourite book to arrive in the mail was this one, which may not mean much to you out there, but to an embroiderer like me it was an amazing bargain and I am so excited to get it- its been on my wish list for over a year.

Then, I decided that I had enjoyed the House of Night series so much that I might just as well own some of them.

Then, I saw Evermore, and since Alyson Noel is going to be in Brampton in Sept at the Smart Chicks Kick It tour stop, it seemed like a good deal.

Then, I saw Tamar, which is one of my favourite YA war novels - I just love it so much - and I thought I might do a post on it, so I'd better buy it and remind myself exactly what goes on in the story. Are you beginning to get the idea why Book Closeouts are a bad idea!

Then of course there are the books I got from the library: Suite Scarlett; Infinite Days; The Dead Tossed Waves; Perfect Chemistry; Need, and Jealousy, and then Christinabean asked me if I'd like to read Sea, by Heidi R. Kling and Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon, and of course I couldn't say no. So, why am I still on the computer and not reading?
What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Touch by Francine Prose

Published: June 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 272
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads


What really happened at the back of the bus?

Did they, or didn't they?
Did she, or didn't she?

Something happened to fourteen-year-old Maisie Willard—something involving her three friends, all boys. But their stories don't match, and the rumors spin out of control. Then other people get involved . . . the school, the parents, the lawyers. The incident at the back of the bus becomes the center of Maisie's life and the talk of the school, and, horribly, it becomes news. With just a few words and a touch, the kids and their community are changed forever.

From nationally acclaimed author Francine Prose comes an unforgettable story about the difficulties of telling the truth, the consequences of lying, and the most dangerous twist of all—the possibility that you yourself will come to believe something that you know isn't true.

This was a short book to read and may be a good one for an ISU project, especialy for someone who is a reluctant reader. Maisie is a girl who becomes isolated from the rest of her schoolmates when an incident occurs on the bus. While reading this story, I could really feel for this poor girl. Not only was she going through some real-life physicaly changes with her body but emotional ones as well. All of of her life she had been 'one of the guys'. From childhood, it was her and three other boys. When you are young, it does not matter if your friends are girls or boys, they are just friends. Maisie moves away for a year, develops breasts and BOOM! She is from another planet. It is bad enough that she is not comfortable with her own body yet but now the relationships she had as a child have also developed and changed. This story is about finding a way to be comfortable with yourself and finding a way to speak up. I was sad for her to see her friendships change so drastically but I never really felt like I was 'in her shoes'. The character didn't draw me in as emotionally as other books have.

Maisie did what many people do. In a panic and highly-charged emotional situation, it is hard to recall what is real and what is imagined. When something terrible happens, it is easier for you to become detached from what is going on. Right up until the end of the book I was questioning -

Did they? Didn't they?
Did she? Didn't she?

I love it when books still make you question what is happening right until the end. Even though I didn't feel like I connected with Maisie (except for feeling sorry for her), I still found it to be a quick, satifying read.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith Ready

Published: May 4th, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
# Pages: 309
Copy provided by: Bought at Chapters
Summary: Goodreads

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last. Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone. Well, sort of. Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost. It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit. As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

I bought this book because I have read some of Ms Ready's adult novels and enjoyed them, so I thought I'd give her first YA a try. I am so glad I did. I found myself being pulled deeper and deeper into her world where ghosts are a reality and because of an unexplained 'shift', kids born after this can see and hear them. These ghosts haunt you in more ways than the obvious. I also just loved the fact that these ghosts had attitude, while at the same time I found myself sympathising with Aura, who had no choice but to see them.

'I ditched the patience. "How the hell should I know?" I flapped my arms. "I don't know why we see you at all. No one knows, okay?" ' (page 4)

Logan is a bit of a 'bad' boy and the circumstances of his death highlight a very relevant issue, that of teen drinking and drug use and I hope many readers will hear the message that Ms. Ready is trying to give - it's dangerous. Aura's confusion over the events leading up to his death and her feelings about Logan during and after rang true to me. Life is not cut and dried and death can leave a huge void, and this is made quite clear. On a different note, I must admit though that the idea that ghosts can have input into their own funerals was just downright creepy.

'Everyone had left after that - everyone but the McConnells, that is, who needed to alter the funeral arrangements now that Logan's ghost was around to give his input. ...... But catholics can't have their ashes scattered. Not everyone obeys that rule, but the Keeleys are hard-core. "What did Logan say when they told him no?" "He freaked." Megan set down her fork and shoved away her yellow plastic tray. "I swear, if he could've actually touched anything in that living room, the place would be a wreck. The more he tried to throw and kick stuff, the more pissed he got." ' (page 97/98)

One of the things that Aura struggles with is her growing attraction to Zachary, and I totally understand why. He seems like such a genuinely nice character, but she feels disloyal to her memories of Logan.

'The boy stood alone now, hands on his hips, examining me. A breeze blew a splash of dark bang across his forehead, and his posture made his faded blue T-shirt stretch across his broad chest.'
(page 19)
'My neck warmed at the way his lips puckered with the oo sound, and then the way his tongue tagged the d. This was Bad with a capital Hell No. Logan was the only guy who'd ever made me feel like this, like I had a caffeine overdose and a second-degree sunburn. Get a grip, Aura. It's just the accent.' (page 24)

I could just go on and on giving you Zachary related quotes. I think I fell for him myself. Note: there are a couple of fairly descriptive sexual references in the book that got my heart racing, but make this unsuitable for younger teens.

At around page 250 it dawned on me that things just weren't going to be resolved in one book. The mystery behind the 'Shift' amped up and things got really interesting. (I've since found out that there is a second novel due out May 2011, called 'Shift'. )There is a wonderful sense of achievement at the end of Shade, that is, at the same time, an annoying cliffhanger - does that make sense? Aaargh, I can't explain it without giving too much away - but it sort of makes sense of the title. You're just going to have to read it yourselves to find out what I mean!

For fans who live in Ontario, Canada, anywhere near Brampton, Jeri Smith Ready is one of the authors who will be at Chapters on Sept. 25th for the Smart Chicks Kick It tour. Check out Christinabean's post about it here.

Before I sign off, let me remind you to check out our Cozy up With a Good Book giveaway - handknit socks and a copy of 'Wings'. You can find the details HERE. Check it out and enter if you haven't already done so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop - August 20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on!  This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!!

Each week, participating blogs are asked questions to post and answer on their websites.

How many blogs do you follow?

Right now there are 153 blogs on my Google reader list.  However, I do follow blogs using Bloglines as well so I'd guess that the number would be closer to 250-300. Of course I don't read every single post and not every blog is active anymore.  Which reminds me, maybe I should do some housework and clean them up....

Thanks for stopping by. Make yourself at home and take a look around.  Let us know what you think in the comments section.  We love to hear from our follows.  Also, we JUST posted our first giveaway called COZY UP WITH A GOOD BOOK.  It includes a pair of hand-knit wool socks (if you haven't tried a pair of these, you are missing out) and a copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike!  You can find the link here.

Looking for more great blogs to hop to?  You can find them at Crazy for Books, the host of this great meme!  Happy hopping!!


Welcome to our first giveaway! We have only been blogging now for a couple months and were going to wait until we reached 50 followers but are enjoying it so much that we thought we'd have a giveaway!

So both Curlypow and I like to 'make' things when we're not reading. I just learned how to knit last October. After 7 scarves, I went on to make a little stuffed stripey elephant. Curlypow is a bit of an expert at knitting as she has been doing it a bit longer than I have. So to show our appreciation to our followers, we have decided to do something different and have our first giveaway with the theme -


Included in this package are

- One pair of beautiful hand-knit wool socks (Anyone who has a pair of hand-knit socks knows how comfy these are on your feet.  You really should give them a try!)

- Paperback copy of Wings by Aprillynne Pike (Fantastic read!)

I recently finished reading Wings and loved this book. I will be doing a review later this weekend.  In the meantime, take a look at Curlypow's review on Spells, the second book in the series here.

So onto the COZY UP WITH A GOOD BOOK GIVEAWAY!  To enter, you must be a Google follower (sorry RSS peeps...but if you want to win, we have to be able to track you following us).  You can earn extra entries by doing the following -

  • Tweet about our contest (+1)
  • Add a sidebar to your blog (+2)
  • Make a thoughtful comment on this blog (don't just say 'great giveaway') (+1)
  • Make a separate blog post about our contest (+5)
This giveaway is for the U.S. and Canada only (of course if you are International and have someone who can mail it to you from one of these areas, that will work).  You have 2 weeks to enter.  The deadline is two weeks from today - September 3rd at midnight EDTDon't forget your links or the extra entries won't count!  Fill out the form below to enter!

**Please note, I've changed the deadline from midnight September 2nd to midnight September 3rd!!***

Sorry, this contest is now closed.  Thank you to everyone who entered!  The winner will be announced shortly. 

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Published: May 2009
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 213
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

I remember reading a quick summary of this book in a newsletter or in a blog. I am agnostic myself and while I do not have a religion, I certainly do not falter others who have beliefs different from my own. At first, I was weary to read this book and was concerned that it would be a bit preachy but this was not the case. It just sounded so intriguing!

The main character, Kyra is well-developed and as the story progresses, you see how strongly her beliefs are rooted. As small cracks in her beliefs fissure and start to spread, she slowly begins to question some of the actions of the God Squad, the Prophet and The Chosen One compound.  At first I thought that she may have been from a Mennonite or Amish community but then you discover that she is in a polygamous cult society.

There were a couple scenes in the book that I found particularly disturbing to read. One refers to a baby of less than a year old and the discipline she receives for crying at an "inappropriate time". The strength of this scene really hit home as to the harshness of this culture/cult.  (I have a toddler at home and cannot imagine treating my child like this or allowing someone else to.)

Page 80

Mother Claire holds her hands out to take the baby. They tremble. She won't look me in the eye. She won't look Father or Uncle Hyrum in the eye either. She cuddles Mariah to her chest. Her belly supports Mariah's bare bottom.

"Deliver the punishement," Uncle Hyrum says....

Being forced to marry her (much older) uncle is a catalyst that sets off a much faster-paced storyline. During the last 100 pages or so, the story really picked up. Of course she doesn't want to marry her uncle! But if she doesn't then she is considered disobedient and will bring shame to her family. It puts them in a difficult position. If she does marry Uncle Hyrum, she will be miserable for the rest of her life.

In many ways this story could be compared to cultures around the world that have strict conditions regarding arranged marriage and the freedom to choose whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. I found The Chosen Ones to be an incredibly thought-provoking and intricately woven story. Great for an ISU or just an interesting read to make you reflect on your own freedoms (or lack of).

So tell me, what would you do if one day someone made you question everything you thought you believed to be true? If your family were in danger because of your actions, would you save your family? Or save yourself?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fantastic Fairy Tales

Author: Alex Flinn
Published: October 2007l
Publisher: Harper Teen
# Pages: 304
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Good reads

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster. You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fairytale fan and have been since I was old enough to go to the library on my own. I used to take out the coloured fairy books by Andrew Lang and I read them all from cover to cover. One of my very favourite tales was Beauty and the Beast. I've always loved the idea that a strong woman would be able to fall in love with a beast and save him.

The interesting thing that becomes apparent in all the many versions of the story is that being a beast is not just a physical thing, it can be temperament as well. In Beastly, a modern retelling of the fairy tale, Kyle Kingsbury is handsome, wealthy, priviledged and an absolute monster in the careless way he treats other people. When he upsets the school witch, she transforms him into a beast and gives him 2 years to break the curse. The setting for this version is contemporary New York and is easily related to by readers, as are the references to computers and chat rooms. This beast is locked away in an apartment and still has many of the luxuries of life, but his life is changed in every way and he has to overcome many obstacles before he breaks the curse.

I must confess to being somewhat disappointed with the news that the release date of the movie version of this book has been pushed back from this Fall to next Spring. Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer are the stars. Many of you will have seen the trailers for the upcoming movie, so be prepared for some major differences between it and the book - particularly in the physical aspect of the beast, but the book is well worth reading. It has become one of my favourite versions of the story. Try it, before you see the movie, and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High Five for Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey has been writing books for over 40 years. She has many series, trilogies and short stories and writes both science fiction and fantasy. One of my all time favourite series is the Dragonriders of Pern. Originally her books were not written for a younger audience, but recently some of her earlier titles have been reprinted and marketed for YA, specifically Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums.

Pern is a world that is complete in every detail, with a rich, multi-layered society. At the top of these layers are the dragons and their riders, who live in weyrs, or dragon holds. It is almost a feudal system, with tithes going to the dragon riders, and as the stories progress, you begin to understand that if it wasn't for the dragons and their riders, there would be no Pern. Each story is basically complete in itself, but many overlap in the time-lines, with the same story being told from a totally different POV.

The three books shown above are often referred to as 'The Harper Hall' trilogy and tell the story of Menolly and her quest to become a harper, or story teller, and how she impresses 9 fire lizards (basically mini dragons). Other books tell different stories about the people and history of Pern. You'll be fascinated by the way the dragons were introduced onto Pern - through gene manipulation. All of the books mention the dragons, but the dragons are not always what the stories are about.

The newest books in the series have been written by Ms McCaffrey and her son Todd, or by Todd McCaffrey on his own. I for one am extremely grateful that he has decided to continue his mother's legacy.

I just finished Dragon Girl (Todd McCaffrey), published in July this year by Del Ray. This is the second story about Fiona, who impresses (forms a telepathic connection with) a dragon at the age of 13 and after 'timing' it (going back in time with her dragon) returns to the weyr at age 17 and becomes weyrwoman. I really enjoyed this newest book in the series, but as I was reading, it dawned on me that newer readers might not fully understand all the references in the book and that's what prompted me to write this post. At the beginning of the book is a short outline that explains some of what has happened prior to the story and this should make it easier for first time readers. One of the things that isn't explained is why when a boy impresses a dragon, his name changes - Kelior to K'lior or something similar - but when a girl impresses a dragon her name stays the same. Doesn't strike me as fair, but then you have to remember the first book in this series was written in 1967.

Don't let that early publication date put you off though. These books are fantasy and there is no technology to make them age or seem out of date. There are basically 3 series about Pern -
The Dragonriders of Pern, The Harper Hall of Pern, The Renegades of Pern and IMO they are all well worth searching out and reading. A full list of all the titles can be found here, along with titles in other series Ms McCaffrey has written.

If I can convince just one person to try Ms McCaffrey's books with this post I will be happy, but I hope many more of you will try them out. Many of her series feature young, strong heroines and are perfectly suitable for older teens. I personally own all but the last three pern books and have read them all many times, they never grow old for me. So - try them out for yourself and let me know what you think. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

If you have not yet read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Mockingjay is the third book in this exciting trilogy. Think Lord of the Flies with a little bit of Graceling and a bit of the Big Brother reality show and mix them all together. Sounds odd, doesn't it? Well, it's fabulous. Mockingjay set to release August 24th. There are several midnight release parties happening. Chapters/Indigo is having a midnight release party starting Monday August 23rd at stores across Canada starting at 10pm. You can find more information here. Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?

YA Fantasy Showdown

As a blogger and someone who is on the net ALL OF THE TIME, I do run into interesting websites that I love to share. This one is so much fun. It is particularly geared towards those of you who read much more YA than the average reader. Hands up if you can check off any of the items below

  • You have 20+ books out of the library at any given time

  • The people at Chapters/Barnes and Noble (insert fav bookstore here) know your name

  • You can identify the following characters and shoot off their book titles without mulling it over - Katniss, Sabriel, Edward Cullen, Jace, Sam Templeton and Percy Jackson

  • You actually write the release date of books in your calendar
Well then, you might be ready for this next phenomenon. Think of it as a virtual book character battle. (Is the Mortal Kombat theme song running through your head? I know it is in mine...wait a minute...maybe some of you are too young to remember that....)

Head on over to YA Fantasy Showdown and check out the battle format. They are currently in Round 2. Read about the competitors (this week it is Katsa vs Hermione, Jace vs Ai Ling, Enna vs Percy Jackson, Sabriel vs Howl Jenkins, Astrid vs Katniss, Eugenides vs Lessa, Thorgil vs Aragorn and Alanna vs Ged). If you click on the participant names, it will take you to a screen describing how a battle might play out between the two players as well as each player's advantages and disadvantages. At the bottom of the battle, there is an area for you to vote for the winner. Cool huh?

The Schedule

Round 1 (16 Battles) - Tuesday, August 10th--Thursday August 12th. = 3 Days
Round 2 (8 Battles) - Sunday, August 15th--Monday, August 16th. = 2 Days
Round 3 (4 Battles) - Wednesday, August 18th--Thursday, August 19th. = 2 Days
Round 4 (2 Battles) - Saturday, August 21st. = 1 Day
Round 5 (Final Battle) - Monday, August 23rd. = 1 Day

Voting closes at 9pm (not sure which time zone) so check it out and tell me what you think. I know what my first thought was - Why didn't I think of that?

Monday, August 16, 2010

In My Mailbox (Christinabean) - August 16, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which bloggers post about the books they have received for the week. Books may be won, taken out from the library or bought from a store.

I asked Curlypow to trade IMM weeks with me. You see, my mailbox was full of cool stuff last week and I just had to share. First off, my week started off on a bad note. I waited for 1 1/2 hours at the doctor's office for a scheduled appointment only to have them tell me that they forgot about me. I re-scheduled calmly and left quickly before I said anything nasty. On the way home, I stopped by the post office and found a lovely surprise waiting.

About a month ago I won a Nancy Holder prize pack from Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers. IT CAME SIGNED FROM THE AUTHOR!! This totally turned my day around. Thank you Gina from Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers and Nancy Holder! You ROCK!!

Next up is a two chapter preview of Tell Me a Secret signed by Holly Cupala. She had a big Giveaway month and I commented on a post to win. Thanks Holly!

Another win that came in this week was Sea by Heidi R. Kling. I didn't know much about this book and I won it from The Well Read Wife. It sounds interesting and I can't wait to get started! She had a Twitter giveaway. Thank you!

Last by certainly no least, I placed an order with the Book Depository (it took two days to arrive!!) for my niece and nephew...while I was browsing their collection, I did find some interesting things that I just couldn't turn down...

As you may have noticed, Itty-Bitty Toys and Baby & Toddler Knits don't seem to jive with the rest of the YA fiction but sometimes Curlypow and I like to share a bit of the other non-fiction items we read, projects we're working on and fun things to try. Stay tuned for more under Musings by Knitwits... :D

What's in your mailbox this week? I hope you had as happy an IMM week as I did!