Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading, and anyone can play along!

  • grab your current read
  • flip to a random page
  • select two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • try not to include spoilers!
  • please let us know the author and book so we can add them to our TBR pile!
This week my teaser hails from the book The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I have to say that I am enjoying this read immensely and when I came across this quote, I just HAD to use it for my teaser this week. 

"She remembered one of her boyfriends asking, offhandedly, how many books she read in a year. "A few hundred," she said.
"How do you have the time?" he asked, gobsmacked.
She narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don't spend hours flipping through cable complaining there's nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads? Because I do not spend every night drinking overpriced beer and engaging in dick-swinging contests with the other financirati? Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in reflective surfaces? I am reading!
"I don't know," she said, shrugging."
pg. 71

Does that not sound very familiar? ;)

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox -55- I'm back!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

This edition of In My Mailbox finds me back from vacation. We had an excellent time, though our train may not have fared as well as we did. The train hit a truck in Saskatchewan, just over the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border. That was crazy, but thankfully the 3 occupants of the vehicle were not seriously injured (if at all). (What a blessing!) 
Coming home our train had electrical trouble on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border in -35 degree weather. Later that day we had to stop and wait a few hours as a CN train had broken down on the rails. (Honestly... I think Saskatchewan doesn't like trains...) We finally crossed back over into Manitoba, and didn't have any train issues until Northern Ontario, but that was caused by a different train that had broken down (again). We ended up arriving well over 8 hours late back in Toronto, just in time to see the sun set behind the CN Tower. (That was beautiful!) From Toronto, we had to catch another train to take us the rest of the way home. Though the vacation was nice (and relaxing!) it was good to be home. Now I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things around here. I've got something like 5 books to review, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to get back into posting every day rather than the sporadic posting of the last two months. Thank you for your patience with that!

On with the books! The books pictured below were received or bought over the last two weeks. 
For Review
1. Cows Can't Jump - Dave Reisman (board book and paperback versions, both signed. Look for the review and giveaway for one of those books to come up shortly.) 
2. Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale - Ramona Wray

Many thanks goes to Dave Reisman and Ramona Wray for the books I received this week for review.
1. Bleeding Violet - Dia Reeves
2. Delirium - Lauren Oliver
3. Incarceron - Catherine Fisher
4. Cryer's Cross - Lisa McMann
5. The Demon Trapper's Daughter - Jana Oliver
6. Vesper - Jeff Sampson


I received some signed swag from Leah Clifford (bookmarks and stickers) for A Touch Mortal. Thank you for that, Leah!

Giveaway Winners

Just a quick note to say who won the two titles I had up for grabs this past week on Lost For Words. 

The winner of Bloodmaiden is: Patricia
The winner of The Long Weekend is: natalie23

Congratulations, ladies! I hope you both enjoy your new books!
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaways! Keep your eyes open as there are more giveaways coming shortly!

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours? 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson - Jerome Charyn

Jerome Charyn, "one of the most important writers in American literature" (Michael Chabon), continues his exploration of American history through fiction with The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, hailed by prize-winning literary historian Brenda Wineapple as a "breathtaking high-wire act of ventriloquism." Channeling the devilish rhythms and ghosts of a seemingly buried literary past, Charyn removes the mysterious veils that have long enshrouded Dickinson, revealing her passions, inner turmoil, and powerful sexuality. The novel, daringly written in first person, begins in the snow. It's 1848, and Emily is a student at Mount Holyoke, with its mournful headmistress and strict, strict rules. Inspired by her letters and poetry, Charyn goes on to capture the occasionally comic, always fevered, ultimately tragic story of her life-from defiant Holyoke seminarian to dying recluse.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: February 14, 2011
Format: e-book
Source: Received from publicist as part of the Tribute Books blog tour for The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson. You can follow along with the tour here. Many thanks goes to Nicole from Tribute Books for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4/5

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson takes on the task of deciphering just what makes Emily tick, and gives us a glimpse of the reclusive life that she led. Although this is a work of fiction, it is a plausible interpretation of her life. Though I don't know much about Emily Dickinson, I  do recall learning various facts about her from school, and while reading the book, I also did some research to refresh my memory. I enjoyed reading about Emily in this volume. I found The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson surprised me actually with how vivid it was, especially knowing that some works can be written with a voice that is too dry. This is not one of those books. Emily is a girl who wants to get married, and she is emboldened by her sharp wit. Her humorous and albeit dark lookout on life had me reading voraciously to see what knowledge I could glean from her. 
It was interesting to see where history and fiction collides in The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, and though I may not necessarily agree with some of the liberties taken, I do realize that this is fictional recreation of her life. As such, I applaud Charyn for creating such a vivid backdrop, and making history so real for those who may not enjoy reading about historical figures due to the fear of 'textbook syndrome'. It really was a captivating read, especially when you see how she was influenced by the writers of her era; to us, they are prestigious and influential, but back then, they were just evolving, and coming into their own. I wished more of Emily's work could have been captured in the book though, as it would have added more to the read. However it was neat to see how Currer Bell was brought to life, and how that affected women in writing, especially Emily.
All in all, a historical and fictionalized recounting of the life and times of the reclusive Emily Dickinson. I think many will either love or hate this read, based on their views of Emily in history, and the version of Emily detailed in this story. History is detailed fluidly in this book, and the voice, set in the 1800's, just adds to the descriptive quality. History comes to life, and will leave the readers questioning whether or not how true to reality this actually is. I'm glad I picked it up as it challenged my views and gave me an appreciation for life as a female authoress in those times. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Big Show Stopper - Ken Dalton

The Big Show Stopper opens in a packed concert arena with everyone waiting for the entrance of Brady Blackstone, the richest, and premier concert performer in America. But before Brady sets his foot on the stage, a tragic accident takes his life in front of Bear and a devastated Flo. However, it does not take Bear and Flo very long to question if the death was it an accident or murder?
Once again, in the pursuit of a pile of money and a little justice, Pinky travels to an exotic site while Bear and Flo end up in one of the least desirable locations in California.
The Big Show Stopper brings back Pinky, Bear, Flo, along with a gaggle of quirky characters. A beer swilling wacko. A naked old fart. A couple of downright dangerous folks. And concludes on a dark night with the dynamic trio spread eagle counting down the final seconds of their lives.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: The Big Show Stopper
Author: Ken Dalton
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
Publication Date: September 16, 2010
Format: Softcover
Source: Received as part of the Tribute Books blog tour. Many thanks goes to Nicole for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Look for it: Amazon, Kindle Edition.
My rating: 3.5/5

Bear and Flo are heading out to a concert, and they've managed to obtain backstage passes. Before the show starts though, it is stopped in its tracks when the main attraction winds up dead. Was Blackstone's death accidental, or intentional? Bear and Pinky are on the case when they are asked to investigate Blackstone's death by his widow. With Flo in tow, Bear heads to Carson City to question Blackstone's crew. Pinky is left to handle any problems that arise back at the office. Will they find the bad guy?
The Big Show Stopper has a very noir-like vibe to it. It's set up as a true who-dun-it and the reader will be wondering until the very end if Bear and Pinky will solve the mystery. With an engaging and colourful cast of characters, there is no end to the witticisms. A trigger-happy cop, Bear's girlfriend, Flo, a homeless man, and Blackstone's crew all add their own brand of flair to the story.  
Bear and Pinky test the bonds of employee and employer, and the book is told from both of their points of view. They both seem to know when to give and have a relatively good working relationship, though I think Bear is treated poorly by Pinky on more than one occasion. Bear and Flo's relationship is also up for debate as Flo constantly is questioning Bear's whereabouts. While readingThe Big Show Stopper I found that it reminded me of a masculine version of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. The main reason that I drew the connection was due to the relationships that Bear has with his fellow co-workers and family, as well as the characters that he has to hunt down and question. There are many situations in the book that are inflected with humour which makes this book an interesting read.
All in all, an engaging storyline. The reader will be invested in the outcome, and will enjoy the behind the scenes look at different aspects of the music industry. A humorous and, at times, tongue-in-cheek read, avid mystery readers will like the nuances of the characters and story as Bear struggles to piece together the mystery of Blackstone's death on a deadline.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blog Tour: Drought - Pam Bachorz - Tens List

Pam Bachorz is here today with a Top Tens List as part of her blog tour for Drought courtesy of Teen Book Scene. Feel free to follow along with the tour linked here, or through the banner. Enjoy! 

What ten places do you recommend visiting when in Washington?

1. Take the time to get tickets and wait to go to the top of the Washington Monument.
2. Get a Segway tour of the Tidal Basin and the Monuments, or rent bikes to do it.
3. Go get crabcakes and iced tea at the Eastern Market.
4. Mount Vernon: beautiful, historical, unique. Worth the boat ride or car ride into northern Virginia.
5. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. I love the exhibit of First Ladies' inaugural gowns. So DC.
6. If you are a Top Chef fan, head over to Spike's burger (Good Stuff Eatery) and pizza (We The Pizza) joints in Capitol Hill. Even if you have no idea who Spike is, you will still LOVE the food.
7. Use the Metro. Seriously. It's clean, easy to navigate, and way cheaper than cabs. And don't even attempt to rent a car.
8. Tour the Library of Congress, which I think is the most beautiful building in all of DC. It also has a surprising amount of special and permanent exhibits, and guided tours! Don't miss the chance to peek into the round reading room from up above.
9. Love books? Go to Politics and Prose, my favorite DC-area indie bookstore. They have an incredible number of authors coming to speak and sign, almost on a daily basis. While you're there, eat at Comet Ping Pong, down the street. There's pizza. And ping pong.
10. Head over to Baked and Wired in Georgetown for the city's best cupcakes! (I have more cupcake details posting to my blog on Thursday Feb 1)

Love that list! I'll have to keep those places in mind if I ever get a chance to visit Washington!

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog Tour: The Long Weekend - Savita Kalhan - A character interview with Lloyd & giveaway.

Today heralds the first character interview I've ever done. I'm happy to bring you this interview with The Long Weekend's Lloyd courtesy of Teen Book Scene. Feel free to follow along with the tour by either clicking the link located here, or the tour banner. The giveaway will be posted below the interview.

Hi Corrine. It’s pretty brave of you to ask me here – most people avoid me!

Thank you so much for being here today, Lloyd. I'm happy to have you here today! Feel free to disregard any questions that you don't feel comfortable answering!

What drew you to become friends with Sam?

He was the new kid and I guessed from the way that he hung around the edge of our football game that he wanted in on it. We could always do with a few extra players, so it started from there, I suppose. He was in my class, he didn’t know anyone, and he was a good laugh.

What did you and Sam have planned for the weekend before you were abducted?

Nothing life-shattering! We were going to hang out and play on the Xbox – it was the new thing in those days, wasn’t it, so Dad had already got one for me. But Sam thought we were going to his house. It was a massive blunder really.

What is your favourite pastime? Do you play any sports?

Yeah, I’m into every sport going except maybe hockey and snooker. Cricket’s my game though.

What did you think of the mansion and the games room?

Pretty sick, except three years I would have said sick and meant cool or totally legend by it. Can you imagine walking into a room like that? It had everything you could possibly want in it, you name it and it was all there in that room. You could spend a week in there and not get bored. When I first saw it, I thought yes! I’m gonna ask my dad for a room like this, and I know he’d have got it for me. Maybe not all of it, but definitely some of it. We’ve got a big house and there’s tons of spare rooms. Yeah, I was spoilt a bit, all right – a lot.
Now it just means sick, as in psycho-sick. I’ve never played any of those games ever again. I never go into a games arcade, or a snooker hall. I never even played on the Xbox again, and I didn’t bother getting a Play Station, although the new one is supposed to be totally cool. I just can’t play games like that. I go out and play a sport instead – half the time it doesn’t even matter what sport it is. It could be football, or cricket, a run, biking, or even golf with my dad. As long as it’s outdoors and in a wide open spaces.
You see, I know what that room was all about. Not why that band, XX, had it put in, but what that sicko was using it soften up his prey... I found out about the other kids later. You know, the ones that didn’t make it? Talk about deterrence therapy.

When did you realize you were being abducted?

I guess it was in the car when Sam asked me that question. But then later, it all seemed to be okay and I thought my Dad had organised it all. It made sense. I wanted it to make sense, so I completely deluded myself into believing it. I did such a good job of tricking myself that the guy really didn’t have to do much at all. It was only after I got shown to my room that it really truly hit me. I was too shocked to do anything then, and I wasn’t strong enough to-

What was going through your head when you and Sam were first separated?

I’m not sure I was really thinking straight. I know I wasn’t. I’d got carried away with the band story, which I’d fallen for hook, line, and sinker like a complete idiot. Sam hadn’t, and if I’d realised that maybe things would have come out differently.

How did you cope with what happened?

Cope? I’m not sure I did. At the time, I couldn’t handle it, not one bit. Lucky Sam was there, or else I think I... Hey, Sam, if you’re reading this then, well, cheers. I never could thank you properly then, but I’m glad I asked you to join our football game in the first week of school! And you weren’t a bad player either.
Afterwards, well, much later, I took all that anger and pain out on to that assault course I had my dad build for me. It was a killer. I was so shattered at night that I could finally manage a few hours of sleep. I hadn’t slept for months.
It helps to get help, if you know what I mean. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, and so many times I wanted to give up on it and refused to go, but my mum and dad forced me to go. They literally bundled me into the car. Once I locked myself in my room so I wouldn’t have to go, but it didn’t work. You can’t keep your door locked forever. It took me a while, but I kind of dealt with it. You never want them, those monsters out there, to beat you, so you think that’ll be enough to move on from it, but it’s not quite enough. I guess in the end you either deal with it or you don’t, and sometimes you just can’t do it alone.

If you could have said anything to your parents during the ordeal, what would you have said?

Get me the hell out of here! Please, please get me out of here.

How did that weekend affect your friendship with Sam?

The funny thing is that I haven’t seen Sam since then, which was three years ago. Oh, apart from once. He came over, but it wasn’t like old times. There was too much of the wrong type of history between us and not enough of the right type. Not enough good memories to cancel out the bad.
When he came over he brought something with him, something I didn’t know he had, didn’t even realise existed, and that was bad. He thought he’d been looking out for me by taking it, and he was, but it brought it all back. I couldn’t see him again after that. Yeah, so in terms of friendship there isn’t one now, but I still see him as my best mate. If I picked up the phone now, oh by the way I make sure it’s always charged these days, I know he’d come over right away. We’ve got this bond that ties us to this thing in our past. It’ll always be there no matter how hard we try to shake it off. Sam missed the worst of it, and maybe I might have as well if I’d listened to him. It doesn’t matter now. He knows what went on better than anyone else. He was there, which is why I might never see him again and why he’ll always be my friend.

I don't think I can put into words how horrible this ordeal must have been for you Lloyd, and I hope this interview hasn't stirred up any unwanted feelings. Thank you so much for being here today.

Savita Kalhan has graciously provided a copy of her book The Long Weekend for giveaway to one lucky winner.
Thank you, Savita!
The giveaway is international and will end February 24, 2011.
Giveaway has ENDED. Thank you to all who participated!
Please fill out this form to enter. Comments, while appreciated, will not be counted as entries.
Thank you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bloodmaiden - Christine E. Schulze - Blog Tour Review & Giveaway

Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties... They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that's exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for. For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan. These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulaimon-but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumored as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynanian brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet, any hope at all is valued in Tynan... If they are to stand a chance of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crisilin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there. Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the sacred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a young minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: Bloodmaiden
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Old Line Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: May 28, 2010
Format: E-book
Source: Won. Review is courtesy of the Teen Book Scene blog tour for Christine Schulze. You can follow along with the tour here.
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5

Crislin is the Quelda of Tynan. 70 years ago, dragons and human alike lived together in harmony, carrying out the long upheld tradition that would tie their two races together. Within the last 60 years or so, the dragons have implemented a cruel tradition, one that horrifies the people of Tynan. One with a price that they must pay if they are to live in Tynan. Crislin, and her new husband, Chalom, must decide if they are going to uphold the tradition, or if they are strong enough to defy it and find help to return the dynasty to the way it once was. 
Crislin and Chalom are easy characters to like. With their future ahead of them, one would think that nothing could go wrong, but as the new Quelda for her people, Crislin and Chalom's future together isn't that bright. They need to defy the dragons, and escape if they are ever going to consider a long and happy future together. With their escape, the future remains unclear, as they need to petition the other dragon dynasties to help return their homeland to its previous state of harmony. Along the way, more parties are added to the quest, and they will help determine the future of Tynan. 
Bloodmaiden is a character-driven plot, and a good one at that. However, I would have loved to see their quest fleshed out even more. The interactions between the characters is excellent, and I loved the riddles used in the one dynasty. Though this is a short read, it is a good one, and I enjoyed it. I think fantasy fans will enjoy it as well. 
All in all, a unique and haunting storyline that will have you on the edge of your seat hoping that things work out for Crislin, Chalom and their new-found friends. Young adults and teens will enjoy it, and I think those that like riddles will appreciate the riddles included as well. I can't wait to read more from Schulze.


Christine has graciously provided a paperback copy of Bloodmaiden to giveaway. 
Thank you, Christine! 
This giveaway is open to US/Canada only. (Sorry to those of you who are international!
Giveaway will end February 21, 2011. 
Giveaway has ENDED. Thank you to those who participated!
Please fill out this form to enter. Comments, while appreciated, will not be counted as entries. 
Thank you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Solid - Shelley Workinger

Eighteen years ago, a rogue Army doctor secretly experimented with a chromosomal drug on unknowing pregnant women. When he was killed not long after the children were born, any knowledge and evidence seemed to die with him--except the living, breathing, human products of his work. 

Almost two decades later, the newly self-proclaimed "open-book" military unearths the truth about the experiment, bringing Clio Kaid and the other affected teens to a state-of-the-art, isolated campus where they soon discover that C9x did indeed alter their chromosomes--its mutations presenting as super-human abilities. The military kids, who come from across the nation and all walks of life, come into their own as lighter-than-air 'athletes'; 'indies' as solid as stone walls; teens who can make themselves invisible and others who can blind with their brilliance.

While exploring her own special ability, forging new friendships and embarking on first love, Clio also stumbled onto information indicating that the military may not have been entirely forthcoming with them and that all may not be as it seems...

Title: Solid
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Thriller
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: July 9, 2010
Format: ARC
Source: Received from author. Many thanks goes to Shelley Workinger for sending me a copy of her book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 3.5/5

When a secret military experiment is unveiled, the military realizes that they'll need to figure out what happened all those years ago. The unborn children who were part of the experiment are all in their teens now, and some of them are starting to show some super-powerful abilities. With a camp set up to explore these abilities, everything seems to be aboveboard. However all might not be as it seems. 
With a character-driven plot, this book is an engaging and fast-paced read. The relationships between the characters jump out to the reader, as they show how powerful friendship can be especially when forged under less than ideal conditions. Clio is the main character, and though she's a little shy at first, she bonds with a group of like-minded teens. When she realizes that they may have been brought to the facility under false pretenses, she divulges to the group and it is up to them to find out what is going on. 
Bliss, Miranda, Jack, Garrett and even Alexis bring much needed back up, and humour to the story as they all play off of each other. With the characters bringing completely different aspects to the group, and some having clashing personalities, it is interesting to see how they resolve situations. 
I wished we could have gotten more information about was the experiment, and also more of the characters as they dealt with the information given to them. Regardless, I did enjoy the book and the interactions therein, but I just wanted to see more. I'm definitely interested to see where Workinger is going to take the story next. 
All in all, a good storyline, with excellent, well-drawn characters. The military experiment adds intrigue and sinister undertones to let the reader know that all is not as it seems. Fans of adventure, or young adult books will enjoy this one. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Vyne: Mystery of the Hidden Ember - Daniel Walls - Blog Tour Review

For as long as he can remember, Asher has possessed unexplainable abilities, which his widowed father has forced him to keep hidden. But when an elusive girl named Scar enters his village, Asher's life is forever transformed.

Bound by despair, the teens plot to run away. However, when a mystical medallion finds its way into Asher's hands, they soon learn that running is not an option, it's imperative. Asher is thrust into the pursuit of a legendary treasure, believed to possess the power to save the world from the prophesied apocalypse. And the key to unlocking this power lies within the secret of his curse.

While hunted by dark forces, Asher realizes that Scar has secrets of her own; she is not the girl he thought she was. Time is running out as he struggles to find the strength to let go of his feelings and summon the courage to embrace his destiny.

A chilling, heart-wrenching tale of colliding worlds and forbidden love, The Vyne reinvents steampunk-fantasy for a whole new generation.
(Synopsis taken from Amazon.)

Title: The Vyne: Mystery of the Hidden Ember
Author: Daniel Walls
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Steampunk, Fantasy
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Publication Date: January 3, 2011
Format: Softcover
Source: Received from Teen Book Scene as a traveling blog tour book. Many thanks goes to Jessica from Teen Book Scene for sending me a copy of this book for review through the Teen Book Scene ARC tour system. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. You can follow along with the tour here.
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5

Ash thinks that he is never going to get out of his town and that he'll work for his aggressive and somewhat abusive father for a long time to come. When he rescues a girl, Scar, from those who would take her captive, he doesn't realize that she may be the one person to propel him away from the town he thought he'd stay in forever. With Scar's appearance, Ash's destiny becomes more clear even as it becomes more obscure. When a medallion of ancient and legendary power falls into his hands, he realizes that he might not be who he thought he was. He'll have to stand up to the forces of evil to fulfill the prophecy that the medallion brings with it, all the while fighting to survive the evil encroaching its way across the land. 
Within the first few pages of the book I found myself immersed in the storyline especially when we first start reading about Scar and her dangerous ploy at retrieving a valuable object from one of the most daring and corrupt pirates to roam the high seas. Scar adds an element of uncertainty to the novel as we are left to wonder who she is working for. With Scar's identity in question, and most of the port decimated, Ash is left to defend her to his colleagues and friends. He doesn't know who or what she is, though he can't help but feel drawn to her. He is coming to realize that he might not be as normal as he thinks he is, and when he finally gets some answers he realizes that there might be more to his past than he originally thought. This in turn sets him up to realize that his skills will be needed if they are to survive the war threatening to rip apart the world. 
Though he and Scar are written beautifully, I found that the romantic element between the two fell a little flat. I found the action scenes more believable, and didn't find there was any lead up to anything that Ash did concerning his feelings towards Scar, especially when he kissed her. It seemed to come out of the blue though this aspect didn't detract from the read too much. 
Another character that I thought was illustrated and fleshed out brilliantly was Xavier. I couldn't help feeling both sad and happy for him. Especially since he managed to play both sides of the field. I think many readers will have a love/hate relationship with him as he shows the dual sides to his personality, and the reader will have to decide what side Xavier is actually playing. 
All in all, a great debut with good bones. With a main character who needs to step up to fulfill his destiny, and a diabolical villain, readers will be waiting with bated breath to find out who will prove the stronger candidate. The side characters are just as memorable, and I can't wait to see what's in store next for Ash. Fans of fantasy, and steampunk will like the steampunk elements mentioned in the book. The action doesn't let up in this one, and I think a lot of teens will enjoy this one for that reason, as well as for all of the characters that they will become acquainted with in this brilliantly envisioned world. 

In My Mailbox -54-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

This week's IMM post finds me heading off on vacation. By the time you read this, I'll probably be gone... or going crazy packing and generally running around doing a ton of stuff as I left everything to the last minute. Again. I'll be back in 10 days, so if you don't hear from me, don't fret. I will return any comments I receive (on any and every post). I should say I need to return some from earlier this week too but I've been neglecting that in favour of getting at least *some* stuff done around my place. I will get back to you though. :) 

With that said... Happy Valentines Day! Now, on with the post. :) 
For Review
1. Goth Girl Rising - Barry Lyga
2. A Lesson in Secrets - Jacqueline Winspear
3. Afraid of the Dark - James Grippando
4. Reunion - Jeff Bennington (e-book, not pictured)
5. Cows Can't Jump - Dave Reisman (e-book, not pictured)

Many thanks goes to Thomas Allen & Son, Mark from HarperCollins, Jeff Bennington, and Dave Reisman for the books I received this week for review. 

All of the books are linked to their goodreads profile page with the exception of "Reunion" as it doesn't have a page yet on Goodreads or Amazon. It releases May 1, 2011. 

Shades of Atlantis Winner

The Shades of Atlantis giveaway is now over, and it is my pleasure to announce the winner. 


Congratulations, Petra! I hope you enjoy the book. Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. Stick around as this coming week I have two giveaways in the works. 

What did you guys get in  your mailboxes? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard

Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she's left behind are caught forever in the heady currents of her absence. 
As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell's story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her. 
Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard's beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora's fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriages, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl--and a life--that no longer exists, except in the imagination. 
A masterful literary debut that shines a light into the dream-filled space between childhood and all that follows, The Fates Will Find Their Way is a story about the stories we tell ourselves--of who we once were and might someday become. 

Title: The Fates Will Find Their Way
Author: Hannah Pittard
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Format: ARC
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Mark from HarperCollins for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5 

When Nora Lindell went missing, the neighbourhood boys did not realize how her disappearance would affect the rest of their lives. As teens in her class, they banded together to figure out what happened. Did she run away, or did something bad happen to her? Throughout the next several decades, the boys gravitate towards the mystery surrounding Nora and her disappearance, all the while growing up and starting families themselves. With time marching on, they have nothing to do but live their lives, however they can't seem to forget about Nora or her family. 
With a haunting tone, and a mysterious and seemingly omniscient narrator, we are told the fate that may have befallen Nora Lindell. She is such a person that the boys of her class, and neighbourhood, gravitate towards, and when she disappears she becomes all the more mysterious. While her last actions are scrutinized, her fate is left up to debate, and the boys all have a version of events that they think is plausible. Their imaginations run wildly as they ponder all of the possible outcomes that could have befallen Nora, and though she disappeared while they were teens, they still in their later years can't seem to forget about her. Throughout the decades, they reminisce about Nora as they seem to focus more on her and her family, thinking of their own families as more of an afterthought. 
Throughout there is a sense of mystery upheld, visible while every scenario is explored. The boys enjoy reminiscing about their past, and the history they share with the Lindell family. They, though adults now, still feel the sting of those memories, and enjoy dredging up the memories of pranks long past. With a healthy balance between the Lindell's new reality, and the boys lives, this book is sure to strike a chord in those looking for something to question what is and what could have been. 
Though this book is written for an adult audience, I believe some young adults will also enjoy the resonant mystery inherent in The Fates Will Find Their Way. Though this is not a fast-paced book by any means, it is still a quick and meaningful read. It will keep the reader guessing, along with the boys, as to what happened to Nora. A brilliant debut, I look forward to reading more from Hannah Pittard. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blog Tour: Bloodmaiden - Christine Schulze - Guest Post

Christine Shulze is here today, courtesy of the Teen Book Scene blog tour for her book, Bloodmaiden. Look for my review of Bloodmaiden coming up on Monday. You can follow along with the tour here.

What books were your favourites growing up, and what authors have inspired you?

These days, I sadly don’t have much time for reading, as I am ever writing, promoting, and such.

However, as a child, some favorites included classic fantasies like The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Little House series, Dr. Suess, Stardust, and Diana Wynne Jones’ works. I tend towards both the epic and the quirky, so if you know these authors, you know what I mean! I revel in creating deep, intricate worlds, and especially deep characters and plots which intertwine into a vast whole. All of my books connect in some way, whether big or small, though all can be read as individual works as well. The Narnia books really helped inspire me as a Christian fantasy author, while I truly love the fresh ideas found in Diana Wynne Jones’ books, such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air.

Another big inspiration for me, from childhood through now, has been the video game series, The Legend of Zelda. Awed as an eight-year-old watching Ocarina of Time at a birthday party, I rushed home the same night to make a comic of everything I could remember—the gorgeous fantasy world and creatures, the epic and unique story-line, the wonderfully quirky characters—never had I seen such a game! It spurred the concepts for many future books, especially once I finally got to play and own it myself at the age of twelve.

I suppose you could say the Bible is a great inspiration as well, more by proxy. I consider a lot of my books to be not just fantasy but Christian fantasy. I have a couple which are definitely Christian, but the rest are not “preachy”; I aim for them to be reader-friendly to Christians and non alike, and a couple reviewers have said the books are not preachy and the Christian elements are subtle enough to be reader-friendly. Mainly, I have an allegorical God whom the characters refer to, talk about, sometimes even meet on occasion in certain stories. I also include values like friendship, forgiveness, and such, which are present in many young adult or middle grade works to begin with. Even Harry Potter speaks of self-sacrificial love—speaking of which, that series inspired my own called The Hero Chronicles. Available as both ebooks and print, the series follows a group of fairy and elf students on their ventures, and while they start out at a magical school, their world and its ventures greatly expand, crossing time and space, before the series’ end. Receiving a few good reviews, I highly recommend checking it out—along with Bloodmaiden, of course.

Well, hopefully this gives you a glimpse into some of the inspirations behind my works. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and to Corrine for having me. To you all, God bless, happy reading, and may you someday be inspired by my stories!

Thank you for being here today, Christine! I enjoyed reading about your inspirations, and love the fact that Harry Potter is one of them. I'll have to check out your "Hero Chronicles" series, it sounds great!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Blog Tour: So Shelly - Ty Roth - Interview

Today Ty Roth is here promoting his debut YA release, So Shelly, courtesy of Teen Book Scene. You can follow along with the tour here

What books would each of the main characters personally identify with, or love?

Gordon Byron: Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones

Shelly Shelley: Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why

John Keats: Libba Bray’s Going Bovine

Who is your favorite poet?

I’ve always been drawn to Irish poets; my two favorite are William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney. My favorite poem of all time is Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” The poem is fantastic in both senses of the word. The two phrases from the poem: “Soul clap its hands” and “Peace comes dropping slow” possess the elusive and enigmatic meaning that all great lines of poetry contain. They speak to me in an transcendent way beyond words; they mean something to me in a way I can’t put words to and to try would ruin them. Heaney’s work is just so poignant in its universality. He writes poetry simultaneously understandable for the common man and woman and with the erudition loved by English majors.

Do any of the characters have theme songs? If so, what are they?

It’s funny that you should ask this. Actually, in the novel, Shelly assigns an R.E.M. song to both Gordon (“Nightswimming”) and to Keats (Try Not to Breathe). She also has her own favorite (“Shiny, Happy People”). If, as the author, I could choose a theme song for the novel, it would be “Kings and Queens” by 30 Seconds to Mars. It really captures the spirit of the story and also some literal plot occurrences.

What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you?

Blind Squirrel Finds Nut

If you could be any tree, which kind of tree would you be, and why?

This is a tough one; I’m not much of a nature person. Is it cheating if I say a “Family Tree?” I am all about family, or how about a “Shoe Tree?” I’ve recently developed a love of shoes. Okay. I’ll be serious. How about a Weeping Willow? I think they are sadly beautiful, shade-giving trees. I also have a propensity for liking dark stories with unhappy endings.

Thank you so much for being here today, Ty! I love your answers! 
Don't they make you want to run out and get a copy of the book? I know I want to get one as soon as possible. :) 

Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.

The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern

The magical new novel from number one bestseller Cecelia Ahern. Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: The Book of Tomorrow
Genre: Adult Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Format: Softcover
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Mark from HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5

Tamara Goodwin has everything she could ever ask for, until one day her world caves in around her. With her father gone, leaving his family to deal with the massive amount of debt that he had incurred before his death, Tamara and her mother have no choice but to move in with Tamara's Aunt Rosaleen and Uncle Arthur. To say that Tamara's world has turned upside down is an understatement. Removed from everything and everyone that matters to her, Tamara has to get used to her new living arrangements, and living in the middle of nowhere is not her idea of fun especially with the erratic behaviour of her Aunt. When she finds a book that journals her future, she is left with more questions than answers, and resolves to find out just what is going on in her new home. 
Tamara is a spoiled brat at the start of the book, and she states that she is going to change. Whether she does or not is up to the reader's interpretation. I honestly didn't find her that bad. Yes, she made some bad choices, but overall I found that from the start of the book to the end her character had marked improvement and she learned a lot from her mistakes. She is very much a product of her upbringing and once she sees the world from a different perspective, she realizes just how spoiled she is and vows to change. I could empathize with her character, and found her questioning everything around her quite realistic. Her relationship with her mother is also a work in progress, but ultimately we see that Tamara cares about her and will do anything for her. 
Though this is very much a contemporary read, there is a sense of mysticism as well. With a journal that predicts the events of tomorrow, Tamara feels scared and confused, until the events written in the journal start coming true. Now she'll use the book to see if she can change the future and find the truth. 
Tamara's relations are an interesting pair to say the least. Arthur is very much a man of few words, however I think he truly cares for his wife, as well as his sister and niece. Rosaleen on the other hand is a character that garners both compassion and mistrust. She is a character that will make the reader feel conflicting emotions as they try to figure out what she is up to, and she will keep them guessing until the very end. Though the book revolves around Tamara and her extended family, the secondary characters add to the story as well. Sister Ignatius is one such character, and every scene with her adds light and humour to the read. 
With an intricate and interwoven plot, this is a haunting coming of age story. Both beautiful in the telling and appropriately mystifying, the reader will be engaged from the first glimpse of the underlying mystery. Memorable characters, and a devious undercurrent will bring this family full circle. With a storyline that is geared towards both the young adult and adult market, The Book of Tomorrow is sure to have massive crossover genre appeal.