Saturday, 29 May 2010

Not Enough Bookshelves

I am in a book buying ban, on account of having Not Enough Bookshelves and an overflowing TBR pile.

If I wasn't these are the books I'd be buying

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans. (from Goodreads)

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I’d been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I’d been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.

At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. Then everything changes: In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.

Karen Healey introduces a savvy and spirited heroine with a strong, fresh voice. Full of deliciously creepy details, this adventure is a deftly crafted story of Māori mythology, romance, betrayal, and war.
(from Goodreads)

  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself. (from Goodreads)

What books are on your to buy list?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Review: Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

What it's about

You know, I always thought I told you everything, but there are some things I should have said but never did. I should have told you about the time I lost your new sunglasses. I know you really liked them. I should have apologized the time I ruined your brand-new skirt, the one with the beading. I should have apologized for a lot of stuff.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.

It's been seventy five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her, and she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. No one knew Julia like she did. No one gets what life is without her.

No one understands what it's like to know that it's all your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks she should keep a journal but instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. As she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past holds its own secrets--and that the present deserves a chance. (from Goodreads)

 What I thought

I finally picked up a copy of Love You, Hate You, Miss You last week. I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to this book as I am something of a fan of Elizabeth Scott. She's one of the best authors around for realistic love stories. Not to mention the kissing scenes, ah the kissing scenes, they're the turn your insides squishy kind.

If she just wrote gorgeous romances, I would gobble them up and move on. What makes her one of my favourite authors and makes her books worth re-reading, is the romance and everything else. There's always so much going on with the main character, beside their falling in love and it's always so beautifully woven together.

I've noticed that her books always seem to have the theme of loss somewhere in them, whether it's the loss of a parent, the loss of a friend or the loss of an illusion you held.

In Love You Hate You Miss You loss takes center stage. Amy has been left heartbroken, guilt ridden and alone, following the death of her best friend Julia. If that wasn't enough she's also dealing with not drinking, when alcohol used to be the thing that made her life easier. Her usually distant parents are taking an interest in her, she's being shunned at school, and she's confused by her feelings for a boy she used to know. Then there is the guilt that hits her every time she enjoys something without Julia.

If this novel is about being lost it is also about being found and finding out who you are. Amy had Julia on a pedestal. But while Julia was a wonderful friend in many ways, she wasn't perfect. She could be selfish and inconsiderate and she enabled Amy's drinking.  Amy has to come to terms with that in order to let Julia go.

I loved all Amy's relationships in this book, with Julia, with her parents, with Patrick and with Laurie her therapist. They all allowed us to see different aspects of Amy and how she viewed herself. My favourite relationship was her resurrected friendship with Caro or Corn Syrup as Julia had nicknamed her. I felt so sorry for Caro, who is almost as lost as Amy but better at hiding it, and so proud of her at the end of the book. Yay Caro!

As a reader Love You, Hate You, Miss You isn't a comfortable journey to go on, it's heartbreaking and emotional. Amy's grief pours off the page and slams into you. I ached for her. It's definitely a journey worth taking though. Love you, Hate You, Miss You is Elizabeth Scott at her best. 

Friday, 21 May 2010

Finally Friday

1) I've been on something of an Elizabeth Scott kick this week. I read Love You, Hate You, Miss You. Which was fabulous and so sad. I just wanted to reach into the book and hug Amy.Then I read Grace which was also fabulous and heartbreaking and really distributing. I kept wanting to put it down while I was reading, now I can't stop thinking about it. Epic review, pending! Then I had to read Perfect You to recover my happy vibe (Audrey pick it up!) That these three books are by the same author kind of blows my mind! So very, very different!


2) I am counting down till Sunday night. What will happen in Lost? I have NO idea. Talk about keeping you guessing. As long as there's plenty of Desmond I'll be happy.

3) On Wednesday I posted about tattoo's and lots of you mentioned having quotes, which I hadn't thought of, don't know why. But I think I might have this one from Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series. 

I know because I read...Your mind is not a cage. It's a garden. And it requires cultivating.

4) Just one link this week. My google reader is overflowing as I try and get this first draft down. But Jo Knowles (whose blog and books I love) had some excellent advice in this post, No 2 on the list. I can completely picture the ending.

5) Finally, Diana Peterfreund, released the cover of Ascendant.

It is so gorgeous. I can't wait to have it on my bookcase (and maybe this background). I can't wait to read it either. Diana's giving away an ARC on her blog.  Go here to enter. Although be warned, you have to work for this one by writing a six word story. Harder than it sounds!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Road Trip Wednesday - Tattoos

What tattoo would you get to pay homage to a favorite book or celebrate the success of your own?

I do like it when characters have tattoos in books. I love how they always have some meaning behind them, rather than "well I got drunk and I woke up with this".

I adore that Melina Marchetta had Will get a tattoo in The Piper's Son. I also love Wes's hand in the heart tattoo from Sarah Dessen's The Truth about Forever. The meaning and inspiration behind both of those tattoos is wonderful.

The best tattoos though belong to Po in Graceling. I'd like to see those!

In my WIP, one of the characters has a tattoo of a compass (long story, hopefully an interesting one!) If the book is ever finished, represented, published etc, I may get over my fear and get that to celebrate. Although I may just buy the cute compass necklace I saw on etsy instead.

What would you get?

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," at YA Highway. To join in go here

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Review: Hourglass by Claudia Gray

What it's about

Bestselling author Claudia Gray’s Evernight series continues. In Hourglass, Bianca and Lucas have found a way to be together. But it means lying to the people who care about them the most.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school, Bianca and Lucas seek refuge with Black Cross, the elite group of vampire hunters led by Lucas’s stepfather. When Bianca’s close friend—the vampire Balthazar—is captured by Black Cross, Bianca knows she has to do whatever it takes to save him. But at what cost?

Hourglass, the third book in this gripping vampire series by the author of the New York Times bestseller Stargazer, has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s books runaway successes. 

What I thought

I was excited to revisit these characters. Especially as stargazer ended on quite a cliff hanger.

Hourglass is the most faced paced enstallment, switching locations constantly as Bianca and Lucas try to stay one step ahead of Blackcross and the vampires.

Although I did miss the gothic setting of Evernight Academy I enjoyed Hourglass. Lucas is a lot more likable then he was in Stargazer and Bianca and his relationship felt more even.

As with the previous two books, Claudia Gray managed to catch me off guard with a real twist. Things never happen as I expect in this series and once more I am left desperate to see what will happen next.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Five things on Friday

I feel like I should have a live journal account to use that title but, oh well.

1) Maggie Stiefvater  not only has an amazing trailer for Linger but an amazing giveaway running too. Here's the trailer.

check out the giveaway here.

2) If you love werewolves, and who doesn't? So much sexier than vampires. You might want to check out Ivy Devlin's blog she's got some ARC's of her book Low Red Moon, to give away.  This is the product description on Amazon  "As breathless as Twilight and as spooky as Shiver, this is a book to be devoured in one sitting—by an acclaimed YA author making her paranormal debut under the pseudonym Ivy Devlin."  Don't you want it right now?

3) Just a note on my post about Series being the new vampires. First thanks to all who commented, it was great to hear what you think and I am replying to comments, slowly.

I wrote it because the point of the blog is to chat about books (because I don't get to do that much in real life) and much as I love writing reviews and telling you about books you must read, they don't exactly get people commenting and discussing.

The title of the post was meant to be funny. I wasn't suggesting the books I mentioned  (or anyone writing series) were jumping on a bandwagon or writing series for the money (or just for the money I'm guessing all authors like royalty checks!). I was just interested how people felt about series, seeing as they're everywhere. The books I picked were the ones in my head because I've loved them or I'm super excited about reading them.

4) Talking of series I have White Cat by Holly Black to read this weekend. Along with Grace by Elizabeth Scott. I can't wait to settle down with them tonight.

5) And finally the winner of Restoring Harmony was Lynsey. Congratulations Lynsey. I emailed you!

Happy Book Birthday to Restoring Harmony!

Joelle Anthony's wonderful debut novel, RESTORING HARMONY, is out today. Run to your local bookstore and pick it up.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Whose Tweets would you follow?

The YA Highway is a great blog. If you're a fan of YA and you're not reading it you should check it out. They have a fun weekly meme and this week I thought I'd join in.

The question is

If literary characters had twitter accounts, whose tweets would you follow?

Well I love tweets that make me smile. All these characters have made me laugh out loud with their witty remarks, snarky dialogue and unique views.

Audrey from Audrey Wait by Robin Benway

Sophie from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Ruby from The Ruby Oliver books by E. Lockhart

Jamie from The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Poe from The Secret Society Girl books by Diana Peterfreund (I doubt he'd have a Twitter account though, although Amy might make him)

Who would you follow?

Are Series the New Vampires?

Series seem to have taken over YA. Even books that weren't meant to have sequels now have them! Melina Marchetta revisited the characters from Saving Francesca and Gayle Forman is writing a sequel to If I stay, set 5 years in the future.  Not that I'm complaining, far from it. I adored The Piper's Son and I can't wait to read Where She Went.  

As a reader I'm all for it. I love series and I love revisiting the same characters. As an aspiring writer, the rise of the series has me intrigued. Every bit of advice I've read says the same thing - Finish your book and, while you query it, start something new. But NOT the second book of a series.

And yet there are a lot of debut authors whose books are the first in series. Off the top of my head.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa

The Demons Lexicon by Sarah Ress Brennan

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Parnormacley By Kristen White

The Naughty List
by Suzanne Young

The Line by Terri Hall

Even Nathan Bransford (who has his finger on the pulse is anyone does) is busy working on the sequel, to his not yet published book, Jacob Wonderbar.

So are series the new Vampires? 

What do you guys think? And do you love series or prefer stand alones?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Interview with Barbara Dee

Yesterday I told you about This Is Me From Now On Barbara Dee's fresh and funny novel. Barbara was kind enough to answer some questions for me. Welcome Barbara!

1) Tell us about This is me from now on in one sentence or less.

THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON is a comedy about a pair of seventh grade girls who play matchmaker…badly.

2) In the book Evie and Francesca have to do a project on the past, using a diary written during the San Francisco earthquake. Which period of time would you like to read a diary from?

Interesting question! I’ve always thought the first Queen Elizabeth was a fascinating character, so I’d love to read a diary written by someone in her court. And if it turned out she kept a diary herself—wow! I bet it would be juicy. (oh I'd love to read that too!)

3) In This is me from Now on. Francesca wears a variety of outlandish outfits. She is the seventh grade Carrie Bradshaw! Do you love dressing up or are you a jeans and t-shirt girl?
I’m a total jeans and t-shirt girl! That’s why I’m so intrigued by a character like Francesca, who’s completely original, unselfconscious and fearless.

4) What's the best writing advice you've been given?

Anything you write, read out loud. Your ears will pick up things your eyes won’t.

5) What book would you tell my readers to go and buy right now!
If they’re tween readers I’d tell them to buy a copy of WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. If they’re YA, I’d say LIAR by Justine Larbalestier or GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray.

Thanks so much Barbara. 

Monday, 10 May 2010

Review: This Is Me From Now On By Barbara Dee

Evie has lived her whole life in Blanton. As she enters seventh grade she is ready for a change. She's ready to find out who she really is. Enter Francesca, quirky and outrageous and keen to live life to the full.

This is an old tale. The new girl stirring up trouble in old established friendships. Barbara Dee makes it fresh and fun though. Evie had a sweet and engaging voice and Francesca is just the right amount of crazy, while having endearing flashes of insecurity. I am also seriously in awe of her clothing choices! There's also a strong message about being accepted for who you are and accepting others for who they are.

Evie's a great role model, although she gets carried away by Francesca's glamour and impulsiveness she still knows what's right and wrong and is prepared to, both do the work and make the apologizes, when she realizes. I also liked that she didn't just fall back into her old role, she took the good things that being friends with Francesca had taught her and kept them. In short she became her own person and told everyone that this was her from now on.

This Is Me From Now On is a  sweet and engaging coming of age story with a great message about being true to yourself, friendship and not looking at people in one light. I think this book would make a great starting point for conversations about friendship with tween and younger teens.

Come back tomorrow for my interview with Barbara Dee.

Book received from the author.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Happy Mothers' Day!

Happy Mothers' Day to all the mums out there, especially mine!

If you want some great reads featuring mother/daughter relationships, check out this Flashlight Worthy list. I'm over there talking about one of my favourite books (3 guesses!) which has a fantastic mother/daughter relationship at it's centre.

What's your favorite Mother/daughter relationship in a book or on TV?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Interview with Joelle Anthony and win a copy of Restoring Harmony

Today I am delighted to welcome Joelle Anthony to the blog. Joelle's debut Restoring Harmony is wonderful and you should all rush out and buy a copy when it hits stores on May 13th. Joelle was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Tell us about Restoring Harmony in one sentence or less.

It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.

When things are going wrong for her, Molly always turns to her fiddle, Jewels, and makes some music. What song always makes you smile?
A friend of mine, the teen fiddler, Sarah Tradewell, actually turned the fictional tune, Brianna’s Reel, from my book into a real tune. Then she and my husband recorded it (she plays fiddle, he backs her up on guitar). Listening to that always makes me smile. And oddly enough, the blues always make me smile too! And while I’m at it, I might just add that my husband is a singer/songwriter and ALL of his music makes me smile.

Where do you write and what do you like to have round you?
I mostly write in my office, although sometimes in the summer I take the laptop out onto the porch. I actually walk on my treadmill 1.5 mph while I write. My friend built a desk over the handles of my treadmill so I can do this, and I generally walk about 3-4 miles a day while I write and answer email. I like to have tea and a cat or two around me.

You have section called Need to Read on your web page. Which five YA novels would you recommend to someone new to the genre?
This is way too hard a question! Can I just refer everyone to my Fave 15 lists that I do each year? And of course, you can never go wrong with the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. But you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

Molly goes on quite a journey in Restoring Harmony, from Canada, all the way to Portland. If you could go anywhere, where would you go and how would you travel?
I used to really love to travel, but I’ve become a real homebody since moving to Canada because it’s so lovely here. I’ve never been to continental Europe (except Denmark) and I have to say that I wouldn’t mind a big trip like that…Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Greece…but I would mind leaving the island, so it’s hard to say if that will ever happen! I’m probably more likely to explore the Canadian Rockies, which also calls my name.

When you have had a rough day what restores your harmony?
Knitting, cooking, walking, and just sitting and listening to my husband play his guitar (or banjo, mandolin, or even the ukulele).
Thanks for having me, Alexa! It’s been fun.

Thanks for visiting Joelle! I love this book so much I'm giving away a copy. Joelle has very kindly agreed to send me a signed book plate for the winner. So if you would like to win Restoring Harmony, with a signed bookplate, just leave a comment below.

+ 2 if you Twitter about it
+ 5 if you blog about it.

Edit: The Contest is INTERNATIONAL and I'll pick the winner of May 13th.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Review: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

The Piper's Son is the sequel to Melina's Marchetta amazing Saving Francesca. Set five years later the story revolves around Thomas Mackee and his Aunt Gerogie. It's been a rough five years for Thomas his favourite uncle was killed in the July 7th London Tube attacks, his family has fractured and he's drifted away from his old friends, especially Tara Finke, whose heart he broke, after the one and a half night stand.

My thoughts

I was so excited when this book arrived and then I got nervous. Very, very nervous. I loved Saving Francesca so much, and the end left all my beloved characters in such hopeful places. Although I longed to revisit them, I almost didn't want to see them struggling with new challenges.

When I finally opened it up, it was love at first sentence. I couldn't put it down. I was instantly drawn into the world of the Finch- Mackee family. Although this is Tom's story, he is very much a product of his family. Even when they're split up and not speaking, they play a huge and important role in his life.  I really enjoyed the family dynamics. The Finch Mackee's all have trouble with anger, addiction and showing their feelings. Melina shows how each generation affects the next, and the way your family shape you, even if you fight it.

As in Saving Francesca Tom's friends feature prominently. It was great to revisit Francesca, Will, Justine and that psycho Tara Finke. I loved their relationships, all the in jokes, affection and teasing. As with all Melina's books, the characterization is perfection. Everyone feels so real. They have complex lives, they have realistic conversations and reactions. They leapt off the page and into my heart. I cared so much what happened to everyone. I laughed with them, cried for them and almost stopped breathing at the end, I was so involved.

The Piper's Son deals with dark issues but hope, love, the importance of family, the joy of real friendship infuse the pages and there are always bright sparks even in the dark moments.

You really need to pick up this book.

A huge Thank You to Penguin Australia for sending me a copy.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Review: Something Like Fate by Susanne Colasanti

 Lani and Erin are bonded for life. One thing that connects them is their fascination of fate. Lani wonders how much of our lives has already been decided and how much we can actually influence. Since the Unknown can unexpectedly change our lives forever, how much can we really control?

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the intense connection they share. It feels like she's known him forever. She's not sure if he feels it, too. But it doesn't matter. Because Jason is Erin's boyfriend. Lani is determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than risk hurting her best friend.

How long can Lani keep running from the boy who might be her destiny?

Something Like Fate is a great summer read. It took me right back to those long school summers, when you can laze about doing nothing. Susanne captures that time perfectly and left me wanting to drink lemonade and eat watermelon.

Whether it is the summer read for you depends on how you feel about fate, signs from the universe and horoscopes. Personally, like Lani, I love them. If you think everything is coincidence, then this might not be the read for you.

That said, the writing, the world and the characters are lovely. It's the kind of book, where it could be twice as long, but I'd have kept reading, and enjoyed reading, because I liked being in the company of the characters. So maybe even if you don't believe in fate you'll like Something Like Fate.

Thanks to ARC Tours for the book.