April 30, 2012

Slated: Excerpt #1

The release of Slated by Teri Terry is just four days away (May 3rd) and I'm pleased to be able to provide you guys with an excerpt, courtesy of the publisher, for each day from now until its release!

Here's the first:

April 29, 2012

A Witch in Winter: A Panoramic Review

"Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain." (from Goodreads)
A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

In ten words or less: witchy story with unrealized potential.

My reaction: 

Well, throughout the first half or so I was thinking it might be a 3.5 star read. But unfortunately, it started going downhill in the latter part of the book and didn't redeem itself. I feel like this book had potential in several different areas, but fell short. 

Character-wise, I liked Anna at the beginning. She seemed pretty down-to-earth and just generally relatable. My enthusiasm for her lessened as the book went on, particularly once her relationship with Seth changes. I just didn't buy that she could be "in love" that quickly, without spending very much time with him. If it had been downgraded from "love" to "interest" or "attraction" and then have the tension upped gradually, it would have been a whole lot more believable. Seth is no better, suffering from seriously rapid attitude adjustments and the unfortunate fate of ending up rather 'whipped'. And just overall, I felt like the characters didn't have much personality and could have used some more description to help me visualize them.

Plot-wise, I liked the concept of the love spell and its initial effects on Seth. The whole is-he-or-isn't-he-really-in-love-with-me premise is a great hook, and one that I think could have been exploited more effectively. Instead, the love spell storyline is pretty much resolved (in a predictable manner) about halfway through and a whole new storyline is set up to take its place. This fast acceleration of their relationship is too sudden, and love is portrayed in a black-and-white way that fails to fully explore the gray areas.

Now, at first I was okay with this second, more adrenaline-filled, plot. The Ealdwitan were threatening Anna and Mr. Brereton seemed pretty creepy. Plus, there was the question underlying their menacing stance: why do they want Anna so badly? But we don't see enough of the Ealdwitan to really get a sense of who they are or what their motivations are. Consequently, the spell they unleash on Winter just comes off as ridiculously overkill for the situation at hand — and not very well thought-out, either. The question regarding Anna's role is never answered. I suspect it is being saved for the sequel, but not having that pertinent information means the reader is left going, "WHY????"

As for the world-building... the setting of England countryside by the sea — with cliffs and a castle and an old, dilapidated house — was pretty cool. I thought more description could have been used to heighten the atmosphere, but still, the backdrop was fitting for a story about witches. However, the magic system was all over the place. Sometimes spells were done reading from a Grimoire. Sometimes they weren't. Certain witches saw the future, but not consistently. I'm pretty sure there is shapeshifting at a few points. One character conveniently talks to Anna in her mind at a crucial moment. If there'd been more structure and explanation for the different kinds of magic, then I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it, but it just seemed to depend on the individual witch. Anna basically gets no training in magic, but she seems to develop some good instincts once she's told she's a witch. It's like she's sucked up witchy knowledge by osmosis or something. The magic itself isn't articulated very clearly, beyond the generic "threads" or "webs" of spells we've seen many times before in fantasy novels.

Best aspect: I enjoyed Abe's character. He's this older, mysterious, sexy rebel guy (with a faint aura of danger) and you can't always anticipate what he'll do next. I hope he'll figure more prominently in book 2, but I kind of doubt I'll be reading it to find out. (That would be pretty much the only reason I would read book 2.)

If I could change something... I would majorly rehash the magic system to make it logical and straightforward. The storyline would be reworked so it didn't come across as two sub-plots accidentally smacking into each other at the halfway point. And I would keep cheesy emotional declarations to a bare minimum, spicing up the dialogue to make it more fresh, memorable, and authentic.

Spot the allusion? There's one scene that made me think of Romeo & Juliet. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but I enjoyed the dramatic irony (and humor!) inherent in the scene. (Spoiler, highlight to read: the part where everyone thinks Anna's dead and she's actually recorded at the hospital as such, but the reader knows she isn't. And then she shocks everyone by sitting up!)

Just one more thing I want to mention: June, Lily and Prue just get dropped out of the story soon after the love spell is cast. I'm pretty sure the only reason they were included was to provide a plausible vehicle for Anna enchanting Seth. Plot device, anyone?

If you haven't read it: if you're really crazy about witches and don't mind unreasonably lovestruck teens, you might like this one better than I did. Just don't expect it to make a whole lot of sense.

If you have read it: Anyone else have a Twilight flashback in the scene with Seth in the tux? 


My breathing slowed. I was almost asleep when my ear caught another sound, something fluttering against the window pane. The noise was stealthy, soft, persistent. I shut my eyes tighter and pulled the sheets to my chin, pushing away the vision of a dry, dead hand, pressed paper-thin, scrabbling against the window, trying to get in.

Final verdict: 2.5 shooting stars. I think the book description is a bit misleading, since the love spell aspect really only has a role to play in the first half of the book. On the whole, I found this one pretty bland and generic, not adding anything new to the genre. 


Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher.

This book counts towards my goal for the Debut Author reading challenge.


April 26, 2012

U-Pick: Couple Best Described by the Facebook Status "It's Complicated"?

Here's how this feature works: each week I'll post a categorical superlative (e.g. "most sadistic villain" "crankiest father figure" "protagonist you would most like to slap some sense into" etc.) and list a few choices of characters from YA books in a poll. You get to pick! The poll will run for a week, and then in the following post I'll update with the name of the winning character. 

Last week the poll was for Most Alluring "Bad Boy". I watched the results of this one with interest since the leader kept changing between three candidates. But in the end, the clear winner was...

...Alex from Perfect Chemistry!

I was actually a bit surprised at this result, since this was the only straight-up contemporary YA book of the bunch. However, Adrian from the Vampire Academy series and Jace from the Mortal Instruments were not far behind, tying each other for second place. Draco came in a distant third, and the others? Well, they're clearly going to have to work on upping their "bad boy" allure if they're going to get anywhere.

This week's poll: YA Couple Best Described by the Facebook Status "It's Complicated."

There are lots of choices here, so vote below! (If the book is part of a series, I've just listed the series name. You can decide which book you want to base your vote on.) For this one, don't worry about whether the "complicated" factor gets resolved at some point in the storyline. Just base it on when the couple hits their most complicated point.

There's also an option for a write-in vote if your pick isn't listed. If that's the case, please choose "other" and then leave the character's name and book title in the comments :)

Next week's topic will be: Character You'd Most Like as Your Personal Matchmaker. Any suggestions for who I should include in the choices?


Wentworth Hall Giveaway! (US only)

I'm happy to be able to host a giveaway for Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame! Thanks to Simon & Schuster for this opportunity.

First, a bit about the book:

"And you thought there were secrets in the Abby . . .

The Darlington family of Wentworth Hall, an elite British family, fills their time by caring for their extensive estate, and looking over their shoulders as they struggle to keep up an elaborate charade to hide their scandalous secrets of illicit romances, and bitter betrayals.

Wentworth Hall is a lush historical novel by debut author Abby Grahame, which is spot-on perfect for fans of Downton Abbey!"

There's an excerpt available here.

 The giveaway:

- Open to US only (as per Big Honcho Media's requirements)
- One entry per person.
- Entrants must be 13 years or older.
- Giveaway ends on May 10, 11:59 pm EST.
- There will be 2 winners and each will receive 1 copy of Wentworth Hall.
- Comments are nice but do NOT count as entries.
- Following or tweeting is not required but greatly appreciated!

The 2 winners will be selected randomly and contacted by e-mail for their mailing addresses, which I will pass on to Big Honcho Media.

This giveaway is now closed.

Also, anyone else a Downton Abbey fan? Who is your favourite pairing? :D

April 25, 2012

Rants & Raves: Embrace Your Inner Expert!

This is a feature that appears sporadically on the blog, whenever I have a bookish issue I need to rant or rave about. Feel free to comment with your thoughts!

We've all seen how a negative review can sometimes spark an outraged reaction on the part of the author, who retaliates publicly on the blog, catalyzing a whirlwind of response in the comments thread and a good deal of drama.

The author may have a legitimate concern, but all too often it seems that he or she thinks that they know best when it comes to their book. "How could you claim it was scary/boring/unevenly paced/demeaning to women?" they might ask. "That's not the book I wrote!"

It's understandable if the reviewer is cowed by this reaction. Authors' comments can be surprisingly inflammatory and defensive when it comes to their own writing, and the blogger might start thinking, "Did I get this wrong? Am I the only one who thought this? After all, So-and-So did write the book...I guess she should know..."

Why yes, that WAS a Twilight reference! Nicely spotted.
WRONG. Yes, she wrote the book. And yes, if we're talking about factual accuracies here, then the author may well be in the right. It's kind of hard to dispute that a character has bronze-coloured hair or smouldering golden eyes when it says so multiple times in the story.

But when we're talking about what this book made you think and feel, then the author has absolutely no right to criticize your viewpoint. "That's not the book I wrote!" he claims, incensed. Perhaps not, but it is the book YOU read —and that's perfectly fine.

We are all experts somewhere in the process of creating a reading experience. Writers are the experts when it comes to the words they pen. Editors are the experts at manipulating those words. Publishers are the experts at packaging up those words and selling them.

And readers? We're the experts at reading those words.

^^ this is you.

No one knows better what the reading experience was like for you than you do. No one else knows what parts made you laugh, what scenes had you tensed up, what you wish had been written differently, what you couldn't understand at all. No one else knows the characters you loathed and the ones you loved. YOU are the expert on that.

So don't ever let anyone — an author, a blogger, the bookstore clerk, or even yourself — make you feel like less of an expert than you really are. Without readers, after all, there'd be no point to writing a book.
A perfectly legitimate question that this reader has every right to ask.

April 23, 2012

Facing the Mountain: Interview with Wendy Orr

I'm pleased to welcome Wendy Orr, author of Facing the Mountain, to the blog today for an interview! First, a bit about the book and its author:

From the Scholastic Canada website:

"A gripping wilderness adventure by the author of Nim’s Island.

Raven is hiking in the Rockies with her family. But when she gets to the top of her first mountain, the world tilts. She finds herself falling, riding a wave of rocks. Her sister and stepfather are trapped by the avalanche. Now Raven faces wild animals and treacherous terrain as she goes for help. Can she survive long enough to save her family?"

From Wendy's blog: "I'm a Canadian born Australian author, mostly of books for children and young adults. My books include: Nim's Island (the book that the film was based on), Nim at Sea, Peeling the Onion, Ark in the Park, The Princess and her Panther and Raven's Mountain."

And now for the questions...

1.) You've written numerous books for children and young adults. Do you feel the writing experience for Facing the Mountain was different from others? If so, how? Has your writing process changed over the years?

Every time I think I’ve worked out how I write books, I start a new one and all the rules change again. One thing that has changed over the years is simply that when I started I could concentrate on one book and there were very few other demands (except for the outside job, small children, farm… I guess I mean very little else to share the writing head-space.) Now there are always other books in different stages: promotion, proof reading, copy editing, so I have to make the switch back and forth from the intensely internal creative world of the early drafts, to the more external or logical demands of proofing and study guides, etc. For the first year of writing Facing the Mountain I deliberately cleared some of this by postponing other deadlines, but this book had the challenge of following the adrenalin rush and continuing publicity following the release of the Nim’s Island movie. I combated this by using meditation in a more focused way during the first drafts.

I think one thing that has changed, or developed over the years I’ve been writing, is that I’ve become less averse to planning. I still feel that a chapter plan before I start would kill the story for me, but I think I’ve also developed a better feel for the overall shape of the story, and am able to look at structure a little more rigorously after the first draft. This book went through several rigorous restructurings in the first six drafts: in the first draft the story was told alternately between Raven and her older sister Lily. I always think it would be great to be someone who could do chapter plans, follow them, and still have the story come to life, but I seem to have to take the slow way.

However one way that I do structure quite strictly is with maps. For this one I drew several maps of the mountain: an overall view of the mountain including the road in, around the lake, and the mountain top. I also made a salt dough model of the peak. That was on the back of my office door so I could easily check if the waterfall was east or west of the track, etc.

2.) It sounds like Raven has to overcome some major obstacles and face her fears. What are your top three fears? Have you been forced to face them?

Isn’t that interesting: I’m not sure what my top three fears are. I’ve had a phobia about seeing doctors ever since I broke my neck and other bones in a terrible car accident, but that’s a bit different. And of course as a mother you get a bunch of fears delivered with your first baby.

But in this sense… Probably fear of failure. Which means facing it every day, because you can’t write if you’re too afraid of failing. Writing means putting your soul out there for the world to see, all the time. And, depending on your definition, failing an awful lot of the time!

3.) Facing the Mountain is set in Alberta and British Columbia. What’s your favourite location in Western Canada, and why?

A tough question in a different way. A lot of places have that childhood nostalgia overlay, like the beach my grandparents lived by on Vancouver Island and my aunt’s on Salt Spring Island. They’re probably my favourite places in the world: that combination of rocks, trees and sea seems just perfect to me. But the feelings that started this book drew a lot on the camp I went to when I was 8 or 9, Camp Kananaskis in Alberta. There was a clearing that may have been an outdoor chapel, or I may remember it as that because I felt it was a holy place… but what I remember clearly was a conscious awareness of the beauty, the moss on the stumps, the light coming through the trees…. (But then I had to throw out a lot of that feeling, realizing that Raven, a prairie child, did not have the same feelings for mountains that I did. For her feelings I drew more on a Red Deer friend’s reactions when she came out to Vancouver Island with us on holidays, when we were 11 or 12. She found the mountains and trees claustrophobic and overwhelming.)

4.) I read on your website that you had the fairy tale of Rose White and Rose Red in mind when you wrote this novel. I’m a fan of fairy tales so I’d love to know more. Can you elaborate a bit? How did this fairy tale influence the storyline or characters of Facing the Mountain?

I realized I was thinking of the fairy tale as the story was growing in my head. I waited till the characters were fairly fully formed before reading it, so that it reinforced rather than instructed their development. Rose White and Rose Red are very different from each other, but, unusually for a fairy tale, not because one is good and one bad, or one clever and one stupid. They are both good, just different – and that’s how I saw Lily and Raven. And of course there’s the bear in it too…

5.) Stories often ask questions of the reader. What do you feel is the most important question your book asks?

I think it’s something about finding who you are when all the normal rules are stripped away – not sure how to put that into a neat question.

6.) What’s next for you, writing-wise?

In the next few months I’ll have copy editing and proofing to do on the last two Rainbow Street Shelter series (Henry Holt, US). I think the fourth, ABANDONED! A Lion Called Kiki, which comes out in July, is all done, but it might have one more lot of proof reading edits.  I’ve also been working on a picture book. And I’ve got started a new book that would really like me to do nothing but live in its world for a while. It’s still at that wonderful secret bubble stage, totally different from anything else I’ve done, and I haven’t even discussed it with my editors or agents yet. So we’ll see. 

Thanks for dropping by and answering my questions, Wendy! It's always a pleasure to find new children's books set in Canada. (There aren't enough of them out there!)


April 22, 2012

In My (Masked) Mailbox (51) - Belated Birthday Edition!

In this meme, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, we share the books we've received, bought or taken out from the library. This post covers the past couple weeks.



The Clearing by Heather Davis

For review:

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame (thanks to Big Honcho Media!)

And thanks to my parents for the bookish items I received for my birthday — an awesome "Bookworm" mug and the DVDs of 10 Things I Hate About You (modern retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew) and Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare again!)

April 21, 2012

A Tribute to Vanished Bloggers

I spent some time today going through my Feedly and unfollowing blogs that had either been discontinued or had been inactive for a long time. There were a few blogs that no longer existed, and one URL that now leads to a page about anti–hair loss products for men (the greatest irony being the blog had been called "Forever Young: A YA Lit Blog"...well, I guess that's one way to try to stay forever young, eh?) And then there were some bloggers whose last post was a declaration that they would not be blogging anymore, or would be taking a hiatus, etc.

But I was actually kind of shocked at the large number of bloggers who simply seemed to have vanished into the mists of cyberspace, never to be seen again. Bloggers who hadn't posted in over a year, but whose last post gave no indication that they'd be up and leaving.

Maybe they read this?
Which made me wonder...what happened to them? Are they okay? Are they just super busy with work/school/life? Are they ever coming back?

The thing is, we don't tend to notice a lack of something. We notice when somebody posts, yes. If they haven't posted in a long time, we may go, "Oh! It's a new post from So-and-So! Man, it's been a while!" But the absence of activity does not raise the same flag, and so we continue on, reading new posts from other bloggers and forgetting all about good old what's-her-name who hasn't uttered a peep since February 2011.

And once you do notice, then how do you respond? Online friendships are a tricky thing. Unless you know the blogger really well, you can hardly just call them up and go, "WHERE ARE YOU?" You can shoot them an e-mail or tweet or comment, sure, but you don't want to go overboard and be perceived as some kind of weird stalker.

So, this post is a tribute to all the disappearing or disappeared bloggers. Think about it for a moment. Which bloggers do you know who have faded from the blogosphere? Who do YOU miss? And how do you react when a blogger friend just suddenly seems to fall off the face of the planet?

April 20, 2012

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters: A Close-Up Review

"Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…
" (from Goodreads)
Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin


Kelsey was a very enjoyable narrator. At first I was a bit worried she was going to be too perky and optimistic for my taste, but once she started landing in some less-than-enviable situations, her self-deprecating sense of humour rose to the occasion. She's kind of sarcastic, but not bitter, and her voice comes across as quite relatable. Kelsey's written to be an easy protagonist for the reader to sympathize with — you have to feel for her! I really admired the way she was able to let things roll off her shoulders without dwelling on them. While I wouldn't say there's a ton of character development happening, she is somewhat self-absorbed at the beginning of the book, and that improves. She's also annoyingly obsessed with crushing on this one guy. I dislike the hopelessly-infatuated-crush trope, by and large, but thankfully that dies partway through.

We don't get to know the other characters as well as we do Kelsey; in particular, I would have liked to have seen more depth to Cassidy and Em. And although Kelsey's mom feels quite present as a character — oh, the pain of being a teenager and getting embarrassed by your mother — we don't really get to find out what her dad's like at all. I love what we see of Ben, though! He's adorable, and the tension and banter between him and Kelsey was very cute. 

I also appreciated the author combating a couple of stereotypes. It seems like all too often in YA books the protagonist befriends the bully and then they bond. Yeah, it doesn't always happen like that in real life. Some "mean girls" never change, even if you are nice to them, as Kelsey finds out. Second, Lexi manages to be a beautiful, popular girl who is also genuinely nice. You don't see too many of those! Usually they are walking around, ruling the halls as the snotty Queen Bee cheerleader-types.


There isn't really one overarching storyline driving the book from beginning to end. Rather, it's more like a collage of all the events that happen to Kelsey in freshman year. It's episodic more than anything else, which means that some parts feel kind of separate and disjointed from other storylines. That said, the humorous plot of Kelsey's repeated photos in the school newspaper does thread throughout the novel, and in fact is responsible for sparking the romance. I found this storyline, full of seeming coincidences, to be quite amusing (although I wanted to actually see a bit more of the teasing Kelsey claims she endures about the photos...we're told this more than we're really shown it).

There's nothing startlingly new about the plot; Kelsey faces some pretty typical challenges that other teens face. There's the girl who has it in for her from day one, the friend who kind-of-backstabs her, the other friend she thinks might be lesbian, and all the guys who walk in and out of Kelsey's life. Not to mention playing on the soccer team and acting in the school musical, of course.

Speaking of which: really, you should read this book for the hilarity of the calamitous "Fiddler on the Roof" musical scene alone. I was positively chortling with laughter as I read that part! If you enjoy slapstick humour, you'll love it. (I have a few different brands of humour, and I admit that slapstick is one of them. Don't judge.) I wish there had been more uproariously funny scenes like this one! I think her being a hapless goalie on the soccer team could have been played up more and resulted in similar hilarity.

So, yeah, it's quite predictable, but that doesn't really matter so much. The embarrassing situations Kelsey finds herself in are enjoyable in an oh-so-glad-that's-not-me kind of way, and her attitude makes it easy to read about her experiences, because she's not overly whiny. 

I did feel like the book ended kind of abruptly — I wanted more pages at the end! Perhaps an epilogue would have helped give us a sense of what all the characters would be doing in the near future. Plus, I wanted a little bit more from the romance at the end. (Spoiler, highlight to read: she kisses Keith and Sam, but we don't see a kiss with Ben? What's up with that? I totally wanted a romantic declaration, and then a kiss to seal the deal!). I'm not sure if there's a sequel planned, although I think there could be since Kelsey still has room to grow and mature. 

Writing style:

There were a few errors (formatting, punctuation, etc.) sprinkled throughout, but nothing to detract from the reading experience. Kelsey's voice felt really spot-on for her age, as did the maturity level in terms of content and language. There's a bit of swearing, but not a lot, and some sexual references, but nothing explicit. In essence, it manages to stay away from gratuitous "gritty" content without resulting in a dumbed-down or sanitized feel.

Final verdict:
4 shooting stars. This one was a pleasant surprise for me! Well-written, funny in parts, true to life, and surprisingly readable. It probably won't stick with you for very long, but you'll enjoy reading it in the moment. (Plus, it contains the grossest kissing scene I've read in quite a while.)

Note: there is a bit of mature content, language, and references in this book. It might not be suitable for some of the youngest YA readers, but I think it's a good fit for junior high-level.

Disclaimer: I received an e-book for review from the author's PR (not sure if it was an ARC or a finished copy).

This book counts towards my goals for the Just Contemporary reading challenge and the Debut Author reading challenge.

April 19, 2012

U-Pick: Most Alluring "Bad Boy"?

Here's how this feature works: each week I'll post a categorical superlative (e.g. "most sadistic villain" "crankiest father figure" "protagonist you would most like to slap some sense into" etc.) and list a few choices of characters from YA books in a poll. You get to pick! The poll will run for a week, and then in the following post I'll update with the name of the winning character.

Thanks to everyone who voted in my first U-Pick poll! The category last week was "Most Sadistic Villain" and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of...

Professor Umbridge!

Voldemort and President Snow battled for a distant second and third, with Voldemort just edging out President Snow by a single vote. Boys, you might want to take a few leaves out of Professor Umbridge's books and really get to work on upping your delight in someone else's pain if you want to significantly figure in the running. Congratulations to Professor Umbridge!

And now, this week's poll: who in YA is the Most Alluring "Bad Boy"? You choose!

There are lots of choices here, so vote below! (If the book is part of a series, I've just listed the series name. You can decide which book you want to base your vote on.) There's also an option for a write-in vote if your pick isn't listed. If that's the case, please choose "other" and then leave the character's name and book title in the comments :)

I'd also be interested in knowing how YOU define "bad boy". When I did a Google search looking for characters to include in the poll, it seemed like there were a few different ideas of what constitutes a fictional "bad boy". What do you think?

April 18, 2012

Another Fairy Tale Fortnight Guest Post!

That's right, my second guest post for Fairy Tale Fortnight is up on Ashley's blog here! Today I'm discussing why the tale of Rumpelstiltskin freaks me out. (I'm not the only one, am I?) Come drop by and share your thoughts!

And if you missed my first one — all about the pearls of wisdom we can glean from fairy tales — you can check that out at Misty's blog here!

Waiting on Wednesday: Burning Blue and Forgotten

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's picks:

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

"When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that—he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in—and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself."

This one sounds like a great combination of twisted mystery and the psychology surrounding self-image and identity. Love the way they've done the cover so that the title is obscuring the left side of her face, with the impression of droplets. 

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

"When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?"

I don't tend to read a lot of adult books, but I really like the premise of this one. I can only imagine what it would be like to get back from a trip unintentionally extended in such a dramatic way, and discover that everyone thought you were dead and nothing is how it used to be. That is a rough situation and I'm interested to see how Emma tackles it! And it doesn't hurt that it has a pretty cover giving off a serene, almost old-fashioned kind of vibe.

What books are you waiting for?

April 17, 2012

Guest Posting for Fairy Tale Fortnight!

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm talking about fairy tales today over at Misty's blog The Book Rat! Fairy Tale Fortnight (a fabulous blog event co-hosted by Misty from The Book Rat and Ashley from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing) has begun and it would behoove you to check out my post, since I'm telling you some very important life lessons you can learn from fairy tales... ;)

The event runs until April 30th and will be chock-full of fairy tale goodness, so be sure to stop by!

April 16, 2012

"New Adult" Niche: Guest Post by Chachic

I'm very happy to welcome Chachic from Chachic's Book Nook to the blog today for a guest post! This is part of the "New Adult" Niche feature I'm doing for my "New Adult" Reading Challenge. Chachic is the blogger who created this awesome Goodreads list last year, which I have now been using as a reference list for the challenge! 

As much as I love reading contemporary YA novels, it saddens me that there aren't as many New Adult titles out there. I keep looking for well-written novels with characters in their late teens or early twenties because I enjoy reading about their experiences: adjusting to college life, trying to figure out what to do after graduating and looking for a job that's a good fit for them. Those things remind me of what I went through at that period in my life and I keep hoping that more authors will realize that readers are just as interested in New Adult as YA. So when Danya invited me to write a guest post for her lovely blog, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the New Adult titles that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller Travis is only nineteen but he signed up to become a Marine right after high school and he's been assigned to Afghanistan so Something Like Normal has an older vibe than other contemporary YA novels. Travis is dealing with some serious issues because of his experiences in the war.

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta I love Melina Marchetta's writing, her characters just feel so alive. The Piper's Son occurs several years after its companion novel, Saving Francesca, with characters that are older but not necessarily wiser. The book has two main characters: twenty-one-year old Tom Mackee and his aunt Georgie.

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar Instead of studying in university, Carly dropped out and works the night shift in a cafe so she can surf as much as she wants during the day. So she definitely doesn't have typical high school worries. And her love interest? Twenty-six-year old Ryan, who's also a surfer.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols This is a classic story of bad girl meets good boy but with much more complicated characters. Going Too Far has such a great slow burn romance between wild girl Meg and young cop, John After.

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park Yay for novels set in college! I could relate to Julie's excitement at starting college and it was a lot of fun seeing her get to know the quirky members of the Watkins family. I also loved that social media sites (like Facebook) were an important aspect in this novel.

Jane by April Lindner In this modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane is a young college student who works as a nanny for the daughter of reclusive rock star, Nico Rathburn. If you're a big fan of Jane Eyre, then you should check out this retelling. But I have a feeling readers will enjoy this even if they're not familiar with the original classic novel.

These New Adult titles are installments in series so I won't say anything about them to avoid spoilers but I do recommend that you go through the earlier books so you can check these out:

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White

Thank you, Danya, for inviting me to write a guest post for your blog. Feel free to recommend New Adult titles that you think I'd enjoy!

Thanks, Chachic, for sharing your favourite New Adult reads with us! The Piper's Son is definitely on my TBR list (in fact, it's sitting on my shelf right now, waiting to be read!)

Readers, have you read any of the books Chachic has recommended? Do you have any New Adult suggestions for her?

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