November 30, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters You Want To Be Best Friends With

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is characters you'd love to be friends with!

My picks, in no particular order...

1.) Liz from Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty is a master of characterization, but I think the one I would most want to be friends with is still Elizabeth from the first book in the Brookfield-Ashbury series. She's so very relatable, struggling with a lot of issues all teens do without once coming across as over-angsty. And she's got a great, dry, subtle sense of humour, similar to my own, that I love. I think she'd make a loyal and supportive friend.

2.) Fflewddur Fflam from The Prydain Chronicles - Because he is absolutely hilarious, I'd always be able to know when he was stretching the truth (oh those harp strings), and he really does come through in a pinch. Actually I'd want to be friends with a lot of the characters from this series.

3.) Mary Quinn from the Agency series - She's courageous, loyal and determined to do what's right and figure out the truth. I think she'd be a bit hard to get to know since she's quite a private person, but I'd definitely want her on my side if there was any trouble.

4.) Suze from the Mediator series - Suze picks her friends well. She's not fooled by all the snobby but nasty girls at her school and instead befriends one who's a lot lower on the totem pole. I like that she's not afraid to say what she thinks and that she respects and cares about her geeky younger stepbrother Doc. Plus, she'd be a good ally to have in a fight!

5.) Areida from Ella Enchanted - I'd probably want to be friends with Ella, too (though the curse-less Ella), but Areida's a side character who doesn't get too much screentime and yet is a fabulous friend. Ella has been pretty alone until she meets Areida, who is also a bit of an outcast at their finishing school. The two girls bond and I always felt sorry for Ella when she is forced to let go of that friendship.

6.) Nee from Crown Duel - Meliara is a difficult person to befriend, but Nee manages to do it. She is sweet, well-meaning and genuine, and although she doesn't play a critical role in the book, she makes Meliara's days at court much easier.

7.) Kate from Sorcery and Cecelia - We are quite similar personality-wise and I always thought we'd get along. She doesn't like huge parties either, so we'd probably just hang out and talk :)

8.) Elinor from Sense and Sensibility - I know, everyone's picking Elizabeth Bennett, and she might be more fun to hang out with. However, I think Elinor would be a truer friend and would give better advice. I get the impression that she doesn't make friends with just anyone, but she holds onto the friends she does make closely.

9.) Alice from the Alice series - I grew up with Alice, and the series is still going although I have surpassed Alice in age. She has all the typical sorts of teenage troubles, but one of the themes that this series stresses the most is friendship. Alice has her ups and downs with Elizabeth and Pamela, her two closest friends, but they have managed for years to stay friends with each other and in tough times that's who Alice turns to. I relate well to both Alice and Elizabeth, so I'd probably enjoy spending time with either of them.

10.) Edward from Sense and Sensibility - Yeah, I know we're used to seeing Jane Austen's men as romantic interests. But I think Edward and I might get along as friends (provided he told me all about his secret engagement, because seeing as I'm also friends with Elinor, that could get VERY tricky otherwise). He's not outrageously funny but he does have a subtle sense of humour I think I would enjoy, and he follows his moral principles as well as he can. Perhaps I could play matchmaker and help Elinor and him work things out... :D

Which characters would you like to be best friends with?

November 28, 2010

Nevermore: In A Nutshell

horizontal space "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore..."

Isobel isn't the type to stay up late pondering tomes of forgotten lore. She'd much rather be practicing her cheerleader jumps and hanging out with her friend Nikki. But when she is paired with the unsettling Varen for her English project, and he decides they are studying Poe, she is forced to become a little more familiar with the topic. But it seems like the more she finds out about Varen and Poe, the stranger her life becomes, and the harder it is for her to discern what is and is not reality...

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

One sentence sum-up: A story just creepy enough to make you want to keep reading.

My reaction: Nevermore was a captivating read. It starts out simply enough — goth and cheerleader must work together on an English project — and gradually builds as mysterious elements are introduced. Creagh balances her horror with humour, and for the most part she pulls it off; despite the fact that it's a homage to Edgar Allen Poe, the dark aspects of the story don't become too overpowering.

I loved all the connections to Poe. It's a creative premise, although I wish the book jacket description hadn't given quite so much away. I never officially studied his work in school, so apart from some familiarity with "The Raven" I wasn't aware of Poe's other poems, or his life generally. Now, I don't know how much Kelly Creagh took strictly from Poe's work, and how much was her own genius, but it doesn't really matter. Her book may spark an interest in Poe for some readers, who can look up all the specifics on their own, and for others, it can simply be an entertaining story.

Best aspect: Nevermore is one of the only books I've read that has a main character who is a cheerleader and yet who is likeable. Yay for breaking the stereotypes! It's become such a cliche to have the cheerleader be the nasty spiteful bully in a YA story. While I have no interest myself in cheerleading, I respected Isobel for the passion she felt for her sport and the desire she had to excel at it. (Although I did think that she didn't have the right to worry about her grade in English when it was so clear that she was *not* trying very hard to work on her project.)

I also admired Isobel for being able to switch friendships so quickly and so dramatically (Gwen and Varen are nothing like her former friends) without making a big issue out of it. Isobel stands up to her "friends" without even really thinking about it, and then later doesn't angst too much over losing Nikki and Brad and her former cheerleading life. She's not afraid to speak her mind, and I really liked that about her. I often felt like the reader was given such a good perspective of Isobel's mindset that it surprised me a few times when something would remind me that it is written in third-person.

Also, several of the other characters and their relationships with Isobel were well-sketched. Varen gets some great sarcastic lines, and he has the whole 'moody goth' persona down. He was pretty nasty to Isobel at the beginning, but I felt sorry for him once we see what he has to deal with at home. Gwen was a fabulous, fun character, Isobel's dad was written to be so very irritating, and I could tell that Isobel and her brother cared about each other.

If I could change something... Well, it did begin to frustrate me that neither Isobel nor Varen ever confided much in each other about the strange things that were happening. This isn't so shocking on Varen's side, since it goes along with his personality, but there were several times where Isobel would broach the topic but then Varen would have to leave or there would be some distraction. That was a little too convenient for me.

The book is long, and perhaps it did not need to be stretched out quite so far before the climactic scene, but the pacing never really put me off while I was reading.  I did find the climactic scene itself rather drawn out and kind of confusing; I had difficulty keeping track of everything that was going on and what the various characters' motives and goals were. Spoiler, highlight to read: Of course, this was partly because it is a dream sequence of events, and dreams are never too straightforward.

Also, I occasionally found the dialogue inauthentic, and I thought a few of the side characters (like Nikki and Alyssa) were a little flat.

Hopes for the sequel? I was under the impression that Nevermore was a stand-alone novel so when I came to the end I was thinking, "Um, WHAT? That can't be it!" Turns out it isn't, thankfully! Apparently it is set to be a trilogy. I'd like to learn more about both Reynolds and Ligeia, and hopefully see some resolution to Isobel and Varen's story. Also, some more of the sibling relationship between Isobel and her brother would be nice.

Plus, a little spoilery question I would love to get answered: How did Varen come to class that day while at the same time he was supposedly asleep? That is still puzzling me. Did he dream himself there? But if so, how was everyone able to see him? Or was it someone else posing as him?

In five words or less: engrossing, imaginative, and slightly disturbing


Isobel looked up. She stared past her reflection in the dresser mirror, her gaze fixing on her window. She waited, and the sound came once more. A soft and quiet tap. It was accompanied this time by a low scuffle, like the scrape of rough fabric against wood. 

She twisted around to stare at her window, ears straining.

The rustling came again, louder this time. There, beyond the lace of her curtains, under the tiny slit at the bottom of the shade, something moved.

Recommend for: anyone who likes Poe, goths, or creatures that go bump in the night.

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars

Author's website:

In My Mailbox (9)

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

In my actual mailbox, I just got one item this week, but was it ever heavy!

I had to lug it all the way down my street, in the snow, along with all of the other mail and while walking my dog. Not an easy task! I wanted my own copy for my copyediting class, though, so I'm glad it finally came.

And borrowed from the library:

A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
The Candidates by Inara Scott
Paper Towns by John Green

What did you get in your mailbox?

November 26, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (18)

It's time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is,"What is your favourite book cover?"

Hmmmm...okay, I just can't choose a favourite. There are too many gorgeous covers out there. But here are a few recent ones that I have oohed over:


- I am currently having a giveaway for Kiersten White's Paranormalcy, ending in just a few days (11/30). I really enjoyed this one, and you can read my review and enter the giveaway here (you don't even need to be a follower, though if you'd like to, please do!) 

- Getting into the holiday spirit? Share a book from your Christmas wishlist each week in my "All I Want For Christmas Is..." meme! Link your post up for this week here :)

Other recent posts:

Waiting on Wednesday: Little Women & Me and Honalee

Once Dead, Twice Shy & Early to Death, Early to Rise: Review
Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

November 25, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is... (7)

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book each week leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist – and I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get! I'll be posting my pick each Thursday, but you guys can link up and visit other people's posts all through the week.

This week's pick: Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman
From Goodreads:

"On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is the headmaster. But Emily also suffers from devastating nightmares about fire and water, and nobody knows why. Then the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, and Emily is immediately swept away—but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren't quite what they seem in Emily's life. As the lies she's been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmare; on a journey that will lead her to question everything she thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past.This companion novel to Warman's critically acclaimed Breathless proves that sometimes the biggest lies are told to the people you love the most."

This one sounds full of mystery and secrets! I haven't read Breathless but it sounds like Where the Truth Lies works as a stand-alone, and I'm intrigued by Emily discovering the truth about her past and her nightmares. Also, the cover = gorgeous, love the angles used and the color of her outfit.

And to add to the holiday spirit... here are some pics from my yard today. Is it ever snowing! (So unusual for Vancouver at this time of year!)

What books are you hoping to find under the tree? Link up below!

November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Little Women & Me and Honalee

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:

Little Women & Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Goodreads' description:

"A twist in time gives Emily the power to fix Little Women. Oh, where to begin!

Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she'd change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can't change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1850s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won't be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily—not the four March sisters—who undergoes the most surprising change of all. Lauren Baratz-Logsted's winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite."

I don't think I've read anything by Lauren Baratz-Logsted yet, but this one sounds so cute! I've heard so many people complain about how Laurie doesn't end up with Jo, LOL...

Honalee by Amanda Hocking

Goodreads' description:

"In the small midwestern town of Honalee, Hazel Panning and her best friend Molly Novak are determined to get through her sophomore year in one piece, despite the vicious cheerleaders and Hazel's ridiculous crush on Landon Hooper.

Life gets more complicated when Hazel realizes that she has a penchant for sorcery, like her aunt. Her plans to stay under the radar take a detour when she and Molly stand up for themselves, and Hazel gets the courage to act on her feelings for Landon.

Hazel discovers that the sleepy town of Honalee isn't so sleepy, and magic doesn't make high school easier."

Love the title and cover for this one! I know the whole 'witches in high school' thing is pretty done, but I'm interested to see if Hocking tries anything different with it (and plus, I just like stories with witches and magic!)

What books are you waiting on?


November 23, 2010

Once Dead, Twice Shy & Early to Death, Early to Rise: Review

Madison Avery is dead. Well, sort of. She's been scythed by a dark reaper, which should have been enough to do the job properly and finish things off...except she managed to grab his amulet in time. Turns out that gives her the semblance of a body, while her real body is lying between now and the next.

Before Madison knows it she is swept up in a fierce debate between the dark reapers, representatives of fate, and the light reapers, representatives of human choice. Really, she just wants her body back, but the reapers seem to have other ideas...

Once Dead, Twice Shy and Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this series; in fact, the only reason I picked these up was because the 2nd book was on sale at my library for $1. I couldn't really turn down the deal of a hardcover for that price, so I figured I'd give it a shot, and took the 1st book out from the library while I was at it.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself quite enjoying these books! Madison is a lively protagonist who doesn't mope around too much, despite the fact that she's dead. The book starts several months after her death, so she's had some time to absorb it all and acclimatize to the situation. For the reader, it is somewhat confusing at the beginning to get a picture of the paranormal/magic system but it does become clearer as you read.

I did take issue with a few things. The characterization isn't phenomenal; in particular I found Josh's character to be quite flat. He didn't seem to bring any personality except for being a "nice guy." Madison, at least, has the hobby of photography to flesh her out a bit more. I think my favorite character would have to be limerick-spouting Grace, Madison's guardian angel (even though most of the limericks were pretty bad!) Some of the dialogue is cheesy and/or a bit dated, and Madison's substitutions for swear words ("son of a puppy," for instance) just made me groan mentally.

Also, even though we have a better idea of the magic system at the end than at the beginning, I still had several questions. What exactly is the role of the seraphs (and what do they look like? We never get a description.) How do Madison's powers with the amulet work exactly? What are the limits of guardian angel ability? What about reapers? Just generally, the descriptions of the magic itself are vague. I felt like I couldn't quite pin down the restrictions on the characters' powers, and how their abilities differed. It seemed a little too easy that most of them were so magically talented.

In fact, Madison's trial-and-error attempts with the amulet are usually at least somewhat successful - conveniently lucky for her! I distinctly recall being skeptical at one point, when she is in a terrible amount of pain and anguish, but somehow manages to summon the strength to pull out a few martial arts tricks... Also, Madison intuited an awful lot of information very easily about the magic system. Spoiler, highlight to read: she instinctively understands that the black wings are "eating her memory" — but how does she know this? In fact, we never seem to see her missing any memories at all. And then she later realizes that Nakita has developed a sense of fear from "falling through" Madison. Her descriptions of what Nakita is suffering seem to come out of the blue, and portray Madison as far more knowledgeable and experienced than she really should be.

That said, the world of reapers, seraphs, and guardian angels is rather creative, and the journey we accompany Madison on, as she discovers more about herself and her powers, is entertaining. The writing style is immensely readable, and it is fairly well-paced (though in the second book, I thought there was far too much time spent on arguments between light and dark reapers instead of focusing on the boy Madison wants to save, which was really the main story arc). The romance quotient is very low in both books, but there are hints, and the story carries along well without needing it - unusual for a YA! The plots aren't remarkable or particularly memorable, and while it might make you contemplate philosophy for a moment, it won't stick with you for days afterward.

So if you're looking for a deep read, look somewhere else. This series doesn't pretend to be a monumental philosophical statement about fate vs. free's just a fun paranormal/fantasy read. But I am looking forward to the third one (spoiler: will we finally get some romance? I am rooting for Barnabas!).

Final verdict: 3.5 shooting stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is books for the holiday season!

My picks, in no particular order...

1.) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson — this one's a classic Christmas read and a lot of fun!

2.) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens —of course, this one kind of *has* to make the list.

3.) Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle —this one is such a cute holiday read. I love that the three stories are interwoven and various characters from each pop up in the others!

4.) Skipping Christmas by John Grisham — the hilarious account of what happens when one couple decides to save some money and not "do Christmas" one year.

5.) The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien —yes, something of Tolkien's NOT set in Middle Earth! Written entirely in the format of illustrated letters from "Father Christmas" to J.R.R. Tolkien's children, about Father Christmas's adventures at the North Pole. He kept these letters up every single year for over 10 years!

6.) The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory — this is a sweet Christmas read, especially for animal-lovers!

7.) I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles — for the young and young at heart! I used to love looking at the pictures in this one and trying to find the items.

8.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss —because Dr. Seuss is amazing, and we all love the Grinch.

9.) A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz —this one is so well-known that even now we still use the phrase "a Charlie Brown Christmas tree" :D

10.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — not strictly a Christmas book per se, but it starts out during the holidays and I think it's a good comfort read.

What are your favorite holiday reads?

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