February 28, 2011

Forget-Me-Nots: Tall, Thin, and Blonde

Forget-Me-Nots is a feature on my blog for highlighting books I enjoyed in childhood and the teenage years that I don't see getting much attention nowadays.

Tall, Thin, and Blonde by Dyan Sheldon

Our copy actually had this cover (sorry for the terrible image quality, I couldn't find a good one):

Amazon's description:

"Best friends Jenny and Amy have no time for Miss Perfect Teenagers, the tall, thin blondes whose only talk is of boys and fashion. Suddenly Amy's changed: she's into salads and diet Cokes; she's got a new hairstyle, wardrobe and set of friends. Jenny, meanwhile, finds herself part of a group of oddballs nicknamed the Martians. Will she follow Amy or find her own way?"

Okay, so it's not a ground-breaking premise, but the main character Jenny is very relatable — insecure about her body, unsure about what kind of 'image' she wants to be projecting in high school, and upset that her friend Amy seems to have "dropped" her. The characters are fun (especially the quirky "Martians"), the storyline familiar (sometimes cringe-worthily, as there are some embarrassing but hilarious scenes) and the overall message positive. I think it's definitely one for the younger YA set, but I do remember re-reading this book several times when I was younger — Jenny has such a fabulous sense of humour that you'll be rooting for her in no time!

Anyone remember this one?

February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

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

For review:

Must've Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory (from the author - thanks, Cheryl!)

From the library:

Sea by Heidi R. Kling
Suite Dreams by Rachel Hawthorne
Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Half World by Hiromo Goto 
Everlasting by Angie Frazier 
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson 
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

And a discard as well:

Daniel Half Human by David Chotjewitz

February 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (28)

Yes, that's right...time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This awesome meme is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is, "Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

Yeah, sometimes...but I've never really come up with another name that I thought would work better. Sometimes people forget there's an "A" and just call it "Tapestry of Words," and in alphabetical lists it can end up as "Tapestry of Words, A" which looks kind of odd. I also think that having your blogger name/alibi in the name of your blog helps people make the connection between you and your blog, so perhaps I should have had "Danya" in there somewhere!

There really isn't a story behind why I named it "A Tapestry of Words"...I was just thinking about how books are words woven together, and I also like creative writing so I thought it worked on a couple levels.

Recent posts on the blog:


Sunshine: Review

Waiting on Wednesday: Instructions for a Broken Heart and The Girl in the Steel Corset

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Movies 

A Tapestry of Words 
A Cornucopia of Dystopia! —If you like dystopian YA, you should keep your eyes peeled for the blog event Casey from The Bookish Type and I are co-hosting in March and April. There will be reviews, interviews and giveaways of several 2011 dystopian releases!!

Find the Gap: Concepts — What's missing in YA in terms of concepts/premises? Join the discussion!

Predicting Personality from Genre: Take the quiz! —I've designed a little quiz based on the results of my Is Personality Related to Genre? survey, attempting to predict personality based on your top 2 favourite YA genres. I'd love to know if it's accurate for you!


February 24, 2011

Sunshine: Review (Adult/YA?)

Sunshine by Robin McKinley, read for my "Read Outside Your Comfort Zone" Challenge. This is a pretty long, in-depth review, so brace yourself.
Amazon's description:

"There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts for a minute. But then the vampires found her . . . Now, chained and imprisoned in a once-beautiful decaying mansion, alone but for the vampire, Constantine, shackled next to her, Sunshine realizes that she must call on her own hidden strength if she is to survive. But Constantine is not what she expected of a vampire, and soon Sunshine discovers that it is he who needs her, more than either of them know.
Originally published as an adult novel, but now in YA for the first time, Sunshine is an alluring and captivating vampire story — one that will ensnare fans of paranormals everywhere."

Why is it outside my comfort zone? I've tried a few vampire novels in the past, but the ones with traditional vampires (i.e. not glittery "vegetarian" Twilight ones) often just didn't appeal to me that much, as I get grossed out by the whole drinking-your-blood thing. Still, I see so many bloggers raving about vampire paranormal books I figured I should try a few of the more popular ones and see if they can suck me in. (Yes, pun intended.)

Did it win me over? Why or why not? Um, in a word: no. I thought all vampire books, even if somewhat gory at times, were at least exciting and action-filled...that is, until I read Sunshine. I don't know that I've ever read such a slow-moving paranormal novel before. I admit I was intrigued by the beginning scenario of the protagonist, Sunshine, being chained in the same room as a vampire. However, once she manages to escape (which doesn't take that long, really) the whole huge middle section of the book feels...well, to put it bluntly, kind of pointless.

Even if a book doesn't have a lot of plot, I can sometimes get on board if I like the characters. Oh, how I wish I could say I did with this novel. But frankly, Sunshine irritated me so much. I like sarcasm as much as the next person (probably more, actually) but Sunshine was snarky and cynical so frequently it got old pretty fast. It felt kind of like she was hating on the whole world all the time. She came across as incredibly self-absorbed, pessimistic and sometimes downright whiny, and she had this stream-of-consciousness rambling style to her thought processes that annoyed me no end. This also had the effect of slowing down the plot whenever it managed to build up a bit of momentum, and considering it needed every little ounce of momentum it could get, these "info dumps" didn't help matters.

Most of the other side characters didn't particularly impress me (all of the "Special Other Forces" guys seemed really similar), but I didn't really dislike them the way I did the main character. I'm not sure what function Mel, Sunshine's trusty, loyal boyfriend was supposed to fill, but he was usually just mentioned off-screen and he played no central role (actually, he didn't even play a peripheral role, really) in the main storyline. I will put in a good word for Con, though: yes, that's right, I liked the vampire the most. There was a lot to admire in his character — willpower, honesty, and even some good old-fashioned politeness, in a way. And I enjoyed seeing him become at least a little less vampire-ish and a little more "human" as his bond with Sunshine strengthened.

As for the villainous characters...well, the main 'bad guy' doesn't truly put in an appearance till right near the end. That also diminished the tension and sense of urgency, since the threat was not very immediate most of the time.

Best aspect? Can I say the cover? No, that doesn't count? Darn.

I did enjoy some aspects of the world-building —for instance, there is a real blend of paranormal and fantasy here that ends up making the setting unique. Vampires, demons, and magic-handlers all co-exist, along with a special police force for keeping them under control. Sunshine's magic comes from the sunlight and I loved that twist on the elemental magic that traditional fantasy often uses. I also liked the creative take on charms McKinley uses — they're made to seem almost alive, somehow.

If I could change something, I would... I don't even know where to begin. I would cut a *lot* of the extraneous information that Sunshine gives us when she wants to just ramble about her world or her observations for a while. Some world-building information is necessary, of course, but the reader gets hit over the head with a 50-pound world-building brick of information here. The dense and wordy writing style just exacerbates the problem.

I'd give Sunshine a personality make-over so that she's easier to relate to...or if that was impossible, then give her character more development over the course of the story. She is perhaps slightly less self-focused at the end — she actually thinks about Con's safety at one point — but in my opinion she still has a long way to go. 

This book also needed way more excitement, action, danger, tension — you name it. We get a bit of this, finally, in the climactic scene, but then the threat is resolved way too easily. Spoiler, highlight to read: Why does she suddenly have the strength to rip out vampire's hearts? Is that from the partblood demon side of her that we never really find out about?

I also got very confused in some parts due to the extremely vague description of the magic. For instance, terms like "beyond-dark" and "nowheresville" were thrown around when talking about Sunshine's contact with the vampire world, but they were never properly explained. This made it difficult to visualize what she was experiencing, and a lot more clarity in the description would have helped immensely.

Target audience? This isn't one of my usual review sections but I wanted to point this out: Sunshine does not feel like a YA novel in the slightest. My library copy had categorized it as young adult, but as I started reading I kept checking the sticker on the spine...I just couldn't believe this book had been labelled YA.

For starters, the voice doesn't sound remotely like a teen. Indeed, I don't think Sunshine even is a teen — I'm not sure we ever find out her exact age but she's graduated from high school and she sounds like she might be in her mid-twenties. Her jaded attitude and just the way she thinks all feel much more 'adult' than 'young adult'. The detailed and information-heavy sidenotes of her thoughts and the slow-as-molasses plot also scream 'adult fiction'. And then, of course, there's also the explicit language and mature sexual content, just in case you were in any doubt.

Apparently it was originally published as an adult novel, then re-issued later with a different cover as YA. I really have no idea what the publisher was thinking when they made that change.

Just one more thing I want to mention: The loose ends lying around when the last page was done. Spoilers, highlight to read: Are we supposed to believe that the "goddess of pain" is going to just forget about everything? And how come we never find out about Sunshine's true ancestry? Also, what happens to Mel? Sunshine just seems to conveniently forget about her steady, dependable, almost-never-on-the-page boyfriend at the end. I wanted some more answers, especially considering I slogged through over 400 pages to get them. (For the first half I kept thinking that the plot *had* to pick up at some point...then once I got over halfway I was determined to push through so I could finish it for my challenge and write a review.)

Would I read more like this book? I think this is obvious, but no. Robin McKinley wrote one of my all-time favourite fairytale retellings (Beauty), but this book of hers didn't work for me at all. However, I am not ruling out vampire books entirely, especially considering my favourite character of Sunshine was a vampire.

Final verdict: 2 shooting stars. 

Note: This may have been marketed for YA but due to the voice as well as explicit language and sexual content, I do not think it should be considered a YA novel.

If you haven't signed up yet for the challenge and would like to, you can fill out the form HERE.

February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Instructions for a Broken Heart and The Girl in the Steel Corset

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:

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Goodreads' description:

"Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself."

I really like the premise of this one, sounds like it could make for some embarrassing or funny moments! Also love that it's set in Italy, such a nice break from ones that are normally set in an American or British city. And the cover is so colourful and eye-catching.

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

"She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right. 

Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset."

I haven't read much steampunk yet, and I'm not altogether sure it's really my kind of genre, but I think I should give it more of a try. This one sounds like it's got action and romance all set against the backdrop of Victorian England (and possibly magic? I can't tell...what exactly is 'wrong' with Finley?) Also, the cover is just breathtaking...I so totally want that gown (minus the steel corset, of course). 

What books are you waiting on?

February 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Movies

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is film adaptations of books. I really enjoy a lot of book-to-movie adaptations, but I'm also a bit of a purist, so they have to be done right.

And just to warn you... Jane Austen movies own this list.

Here are some of my favourites:

1.) The BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. This one beats the Keira Knightley version hands-down, no contest.
Who can resist that???

2.) The 1983 Jane Eyre with Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke. Of the versions I've seen, this is the one that by far sticks the closest to the actual novel (including with the gypsy scene!) Timothy Dalton plays the brooding Rochester to perfection, and Zelah Clarke pulls off the role of the quiet but determined Jane beautifully.

3.) The 2007 version of Northanger Abbey. I was so impressed that the actor who plays Henry Tilney (JJ Feild) looks almost exactly how I would have pictured his character! And Felicity Jones manages to act a Catherine that is sweet and naive without coming off as annoying.

4.) The 1993 Much Ado About Nothing — Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson are masters of witty banter, and they carry off Shakespeare's lines brilliantly.

5.) The 1995 version of Persuasion — I've seen a few Persuasions but this one is my favourite. The romantic longing between these two and their regret over the past is very believable.

6.) A Walk to Remember — I'm not a super huge fan of the book, although it is my favourite of the Nicholas Sparks books I've read. The movie, while it doesn't follow the book that closely, is really sweet. I think because I saw the movie first before I read the book I don't mind as much that it departs somewhat from the original.

7.) The 1996 version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam — I don't think this was the first version of Emma I saw, but it's my favourite. The foreshadowing and tension between Emma and Mr. Knightley is really well done, and Jeremy Northam is just SO amazing as Knightley. Seriously.

Who can resist this either?

8.) The Lord of the Rings — EPIC. Does anything more really need to be said?

9.) Gone with the Wind — Actually, I didn't make it all the way through this book when I tried to read it years ago. It's so huge and daunting! I am hoping to try it again sometime though. And I do love the film — both of the star actors are so perfect for their roles, and their journey is an emotional rollercoaster.

10.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — I think this is my favourite so far of all of the Harry Potter films (though Part 1 of the last one was pretty intense!) I really love how they dealt with the time travel, and plus it's one of my favourite HP books too.

Honourable mention to the film adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South and Wives and Daughters...what can I say, I love period dramas!

February 21, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia!

Casey from The Bookish Type and I have been planning this blogging event for a while now, so I am really excited to announce that from March 21 to April 18 we will be co-hosting "A Cornucopia of Dystopia"!

A Tapestry of Words
Thanks so much to Andrea from Loud Words and Sounds for this gorgeous button!

I know there are tons of bloggers out there who have been eagerly anticipating (and happily devouring) several 2011 dystopian YA releases. We wanted to host an event featuring these books, so we've put together a jam-packed schedule full of reviews, author interviews, cover redesign contests and giveaways! The books being featured are Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, XVI by Julia Karr, Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, Dark Parties by Sara Grant, Memento Nora by Angie Smibert, Possession by Elana Johnson, and Bumped by Megan McCafferty.

The blogs participating are:

Midnight Bloom Reads
I Swim For Oceans
Down the Rabbit Hole
Musings of a YA Reader
Reading Teen
Supernatural Snark
Good Choice Reading
365 Days of Reading
Books Are A Girl's Best Friend
Brandiheather's Reviews
Loud Words and Sounds
Books, Sweets and Other Treats 
Literary Explorations
The Book Worms
Books in the Spotlight
The Bookish Type
A Tapestry of Words 

Here's what the schedule's looking like at the moment (it is subject to change so please check my blog or Casey's for the latest version):

                  21 – Books Are A Girl's Best Friend Bumped Interview, The Bookish Type Memento Nora Review & Interview
                  22 – I Swim For Oceans Awaken Review & Interview, The Book Worms XVI Review & Interview
                  23 – A Writer’s Review Bumped Review, Musings of a YA Reader Memento Nora Review & Interview
                  24 – Books in the Spotlight Delirium Review, Supernatural Snark Possession Review, Reading Teen Wither Review
                  25 – Down the Rabbit Hole Bumped Review & Interview, Supernatural Snark Possession Interview
                  26 – Musings of a YA Reader Awaken Interview, Books in the Spotlight Dark Parties Review
                  27 – Midnight Bloom Reads Awaken Review, The Bookish Type Delirium Review, BSAOT XVI Interview
                  28 – Midnight Bloom Reads Awaken Interview, A Tapestry of Words Dark Parties Playlist
                  29 – Supernatural Snark Memento Nora Review & Interview, Reading Teen Possession Interview
                  30 – 365 Days of Reading Bumped Review & Interview, The Bookish Type XVI Interview & Review
                  31 – Loud Words and Sounds Awaken Review & Interview, Good Choice Reading Dark Parties Review & Guest Post

                  1 – Reading Teen Bumped Review & Interview, The Book Worms Memento Nora Review, Literary Explorations Wither Review
                  2 – Musings of a YA Reader Possession Review & Guest Post, Books are a Girl’s Best Friend Delirium Review, Books in the Spotlight Awaken Review
                  3 – Down the Rabbit Hole XVI Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Memento Nora Review
                  4 – The Bookish Type Dark Parties Review, 365 Days of Reading Memento Nora Interview, I Swim For Oceans Bumped Review & Interview, Books in the Spotlight Awaken Interview
                  5 – Books are a Girl’s Best Friend Awaken Interview, A Tapestry of Words Wither Review, Literary Explorations Possession Review
                  6 – Reading Teen Delirium Review, Musings of a YA Reader XVI Review
                  7 – Books in the Spotlight Dark Parties Interview, Supernatural Snark Awaken Review, A Tapestry of Words Awaken Playlist, Loud Words and Sounds Bumped Review
                  8 – The Book Worms Bumped Review, Midnight Bloom Reads Delirium Review, Supernatural Snark Awaken Interview
                  9 – The Book Worms Bumped Interview, Literary Explorations Memento Nora Review, 365 Days of Reading XVI Interview
                  10 – The Book Worms Possession Guest Post, The Bookish Type Possession Interview
                  11 – Reading Teen XVI Review & Interview, The Bookish Type Possession Review
                  12 – The Bookish Type Dark Parties Interview, Books in the Spotlight Memento Nora Review, Literary Explorations Bumped Review
                  13 – Supernatural Snark Bumped Review, Books in the Spotlight Memento Nora Interview
                  14 – Reading Teen Awaken Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Dark Parties Review
                  15 – A Tapestry of Words Memento Nora Review & Interview, A Writer's Review Awaken Interview, 365 Days of Reading Dark Parties Interview
                  16 – The Bookish Type Bumped Review & Interview, A Tapestry of Words Enclave guest post, Books in the Spotlight Possession review, Supernatural Snark XVI Interview
                  17 – Literary Explorations Delirium Review, Books in the Spotlight Bumped Review, The Bookish Type Enclave guest post
                  18 – Delirium Scavenger Hunt Interview, A Tapestry of Words Possession Interview
                  19 – The Bookish Type Divergent Review
                  20 – The Bookish Type Reader Q&A with Elana Johnson; A Tapestry of Words Enclave Review
                  21 – A Tapestry of Words Reader Q&A with Sara Grant

Giveaway schedule:

21 – Loud Words & Sounds – Awaken cover redesign contest
22 – I Swim For Oceans – Awaken
23 – Musings of a YA Reader – Memento Nora
24 – Down the Rabbit Hole – XVI cover redesign contest
27 – Midnight Bloom Reads – Awaken
29 – Supernatural Snark – Memento Nora


1 – The Book Worms – Memento Nora
7 – A Tapestry of Words – Awaken

8 – The Bookish Type – Divergent 
12 – Books in the Spotlight – Memento Nora 
14 – The Bookish Type - Enclave
15 – 365 Days of Reading – Dark Parties mug; Reading Teen – assorted dystopian YA
16 – The Bookish Type – Bumped & Awaken; A Tapestry of Words – Enclave
17 – Literary Explorations – signed Delirium
22 – A Tapestry of Words – Divergent

There is also one larger giveaway for my Canadian readers (sorry, but shipping outside of Canada is crazily expensive) going on throughout the event on my blog.

So mark it on your calendars and drop by these blogs during March and April to enjoy a cornucopia of dystopia!

Find the Gap: Concepts

This is the 4th "Find the Gap" post (the previous ones discussed what's missing in YA in terms of settings, characters, and breaking stereotypes) and this week the topic is concepts. Often books really grab my attention when the premise or plot of the novel involves a neat concept. Perhaps the magic system in the fantasy world works differently than any other I've read. Maybe it's a mystery told from the end to the beginning, and the reader must unravel what has happened.  I'd like to see YA books get shaken up a bit with some fresh ideas — even a small twist on an "overdone" premise can make it feel totally different!

So here are some concepts I think it would be fun to see done more in YA books:

- Parallel lives: these are done lots more in movies than in books, and I'm not sure why. Think something like the film "Sliding Doors." Wouldn't it be awesome to read two different storylines with the same character and see how their lives unfold after one crucial turning point? Um, YES. Or how about movies like "Mr. Destiny" or "The Family Man" where the main character gets to see what their life would be like if just one moment in their past had been changed?

Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall sort of approaches this in a way (Sam doesn't live parallel lives, but she lives the same day over and over), and that is a good part of what makes her novel stand out: the entire concept was different than just a straightforward, linear storyline that we typically find.

Alternate histories: there are a few of these in YA (for instance, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson) but I think there is plenty more fodder for stories here. As discussed in the settings post, there are many time periods that aren't touched upon much in YA — so how about an alternate history for some of those? Why not rewrite the past with a completely different version of events?

- Magical realism: I haven't read many of these, even in adult fiction (although I did really enjoy Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen) but they seem almost non-existent in YA. Wikipedia defines magical realism as "an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences that are presented in a straightforward manner which allows the "real" and the "fantastic" to be accepted in the same stream of thought." Part of what I appreciated in Garden Spells was how closely magic was tied to everyday life — everyone in the story was affected by magic, not in a showy, fireworks kind of way, but much more subtle. I'd love to see this sort of story with a YA protagonist.

- "Contemporary" futuristic stories: I know, sounds like a contradiction in terms, right? My sister suggested this one and I have to agree with her: there really aren't very many YA books that *happen* to be set in the future and yet aren't trying to make some kind of colossal point about what society will be like then. There are plenty of novels detailing a future that either a) is set in a dystopian society, b) is post-apocalyptic, or c) involves a massively dramatic advance in technology. What about a futuristic story that's a little easier to actually visualize coming to pass soon? One that feels like we could really and truly live it in just a few years...

So, a future that *doesn't* look like this.
Or this.

Or even this. Although I must say all the bluish-purple mushroom buildings are pretty cool.

- Unusual genre combinations: some genres seem to go hand-in-hand more often than others. It isn't too hard to find historical mysteries, for instance. Others don't seem to get crossed much, which is a shame, because it could make for some very captivating stories! How about a historical urban fantasy? Or a mystery set in a fantasy world, where the main point is the mystery storyline? A sci-fi set in a past era (excluding 'steampunk,' as that has been on the rise these days)? A dystopian fantasy? One aspect I liked about Andrea Cremer's Nightshade is that it combines paranormal, fantasy, and dystopian elements together in the world-building — but it's not something you come across too often in YA, unfortunately.

What are some concepts or premises you think are missing in YA? Any suggestions of books that fill the gaps I've mentioned? Also, I think this will be my last "Find the Gap" post, unless you guys have another category you'd like to discuss (that doesn't fall under characters, settings, stereotypes, and concepts)?

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