January 31, 2012

Heads-Up, Vancouverites: Marissa Meyer Signing in Feb!

Hey everyone,

For all of my readers residing in the Vancouver area, you might be interested in an upcoming bookish event: Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder (book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles), is going to be signing books at Chapters Metrotown on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 2 pm.

That's right, Vancouver, not Toronto! (LOL, sorry Torontonians, it's just so rare that a YA author comes to Vancouver.)

Anyone know yet if they're going?

January "New Adult" Challenge Reviews – Link Them Up Here!

A Tapestry of Words

So, it's one month into the "New Adult" reading challenge, and if any of the participants have reviewed a book that qualifies, here's your chance to link up your review(s)! (Embarrassingly, I am just partway through my first book for the challenge so no links for me this month, LOL.)

If you are interested in joining the challenge, please see the details here. The more the merrier! :)

January 29, 2012

Cross My Palm: Sci-fi/Dystopian YA

This is a series of posts I'm doing discussing current trends in YA genres and what might be in store for the future. This is just based on my own observations of books and what I've seen publishers/authors/other bloggers talking about.

Last week, I touched on current themes in contemporary YA. This week, it's sci-fi/dystopian:

  • Genre-blending is on the rise. Dystopian mixed with fantasy or paranormal elements (or vice versa) seems to becoming quite popular. Examples include: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Above by Leah Bobet, Glitch by Heather Anastasiu, Renegade by J.A. Souders, and Crewel by Gennifer Albin.

  • The dystopian premises keep getting weirder and weirder. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the premises are becoming more far-fetched as writers desperately try to come up with scenarios that feel "fresh" and haven't been done before. Sometimes "thinking outside the box" leads to great creative pay-off, but it can also lend itself to "what were they thinking?" moments on the reader's side. (Not going to list examples here!)
  • Post-apocalyptic is coming into its own, with darker and grittier being the order of the day. We're talking Enclave by Ann Aguirre, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker, Pure by Julianna Baggott, and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. I wouldn't say, though, that it is yet overshadowing dystopian, and I'm not sure it's going to get there. Right now I think this category needs to work on distinguishing itself from dystopian, in order for it to trend on its own somewhere down the line.

  • Space is the final frontier...and it's finally getting explored. Examples: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans, and For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

  • Artificial intelligence, genetic modification, bioengineering and the like seem to be getting more popular. I think sci-fi overall is getting a boost from the dystopian fascination, so while stories with these elements aren't new to YA, it's getting easier for them to sell. Upcoming books with these themes include Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, Beta by Rachel Cohn, Cybernetic by Laura Riken, Altered by Jennifer Rush, Glitch by Heather Anastasiu, and False Memory by Dan Krokos.

Just generally, sci-fi/dystopian is "hot" right now in YA, and I don't think that trend is going to die anytime soon.

Interestingly, you might think that of all genres, sci-fi/dystopian would have the most appeal to boy readers...but take a look at those covers! *points up* Those are definitely being marketed to girls. I think most teenage boys wouldn't want to be caught dead holding a book with a butterfly on the cover. While I'm happy that this genre is no longer being viewed as a "boys only" domain, I find it pretty sad that teenage guys don't seem to be reading anymore...even what used to be considered a genre for their gender.

What do you think? Spot any trends in this genre I missed? Agree/disagree with the ones above?

January 28, 2012

In My Mailbox (45)

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 few weeks. 

For review:

Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt — thanks to Sand Dollar Press!

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin, illustrations by Lisa Brown (thanks Sourcebooks!)

Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff (from the author — thanks, Beth!) She also included a hardcover copy for me to give away, so be on the lookout for a giveaway of that!

And a couple e-books:

Thanks to Callie Kingston and Meredith Zeitlin's PR rep for these!


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — This was a pre-order of mine, and I was dismayed to see that it came unsigned! All pre-orders were supposed to be signed, but I think Amazon.ca screwed up. Did anyone else have the same problem? Anyway, the author has promised to fix it with a signed bookplate if you e-mail him with your information, so I've done that. *crosses fingers*

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares — got this as a library discard! I have the first two, so I thought it would be nice to continue the collection.


An awesome swag package for the book Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman! It came in this cute gauzy bag, and inside was...

...assorted swag, including a couple bookmarks, a sticker, and a button! Charlotte enclosed a nice card, too :) Thanks very much, Charlotte!

And a few books out from the library:

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap
Frostbite by Richelle Mead
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

January 27, 2012

Forget-Me-Nots: There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom

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.

There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar

This was the cover of the copy I owned.
Goodreads' description:

"Bradley Chalkers IS the oldest kid in the fifth grade. He tells enormous lies. He picks fights with girls. No one likes him—except Carla, the new school counselor. She thinks Bradley is sensitive and generous, and knows that Bradley could change, if only he weren’t afraid to try. But when you feel like the most-hated kid in the whole school, believing in yourself can be the hardest thing in the world. . . ."

I re-read this book several times when I was younger. It's a story about friendship and growing up and changing, and yet it's not at all sappy. There's humour laced throughout, but it's all done with genuine emotion. I love the relationship that develops between Carla and Bradley, and I have to admit: this book made me cry. Actually, I've cried upon more than one reading of it.

Anyone remember this one? 

January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Wentworth Hall and The Glimpse

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:

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

From Goodreads:

"A lush, historical novel about the secretive Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall! The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…

Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.

It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been…even as their carefully constructed fa
รงade rapidly comes undone.

Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one…the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.

When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.

I think I saw a comparison to the TV show Downton Abbey somewhere, which I am a fan of, so that's a good start. Sounds like there's plenty of drama here! I just hope it doesn't succumb to the pitfall of the Luxe series, in having a bunch of characters who are only after wealth and power and aren't very endearing. In any case, it looks like it will qualify for my "New Adult" challenge!

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

From Goodreads:


In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.

Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.

Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not intefere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society and into the pits of the human soul. And as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper's abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe, but she also learns to love as she has never loved before.

A heart-pounding thriller."

I really like the sound of this premise — dystopian + mental health aspect? Sign me up! I'm a little skeptical about the scientific basis of it, but I'll have to wait and see how it's explained. This one's coming out in the UK in June, but I don't know if/when it's being released in North America.

What books are you waiting for?

January 23, 2012

Reader Reaction Survey: Please Fill This Out!

I've seen some other bloggers doing these kinds of surveys, and I thought it might be helpful to do one for my own blog. I'm wondering what direction to take things in this year and I'd love your input as to what you think I should keep/change/add to A Tapestry of Words! I'd appreciate it if you could take just a minute to fill out this survey.

It's anonymous, of course, so please give me your honest opinion :) If you don't feel comfortable answering some of the questions, you are more than welcome to leave them blank.


January 22, 2012

Cross My Palm: Contemporary YA

I've taken a good hard look at what YA literature has looked like in the past, so I thought I'd spend a few posts now discussing current trends and what might be in store for the future. This is just based on my own observations of books and what I've seen publishers/authors/other bloggers talking about.

This first post focuses on contemporary YA. Check back in a week for the next post in this series!

  • Books about sisters, especially serious, complicated sister relationships. These seem to be popular at the moment and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. We're talking Without Tess by Marcella Pixley, Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott, The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez, Losing Faith and Never Enough by Denise Jaden, and Irises by Francisco X. Stork. I enjoy a good complex sister story, but it would be neat to see some more brother/sister or brother/brother relationships.

  • Stories involving trips, road or otherwise. Books like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern, The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John, Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson, and Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham. This looks like it's emerging as a trend in YA, and I'm glad, because it's a lot of fun to travel vicariously!
  • War/PTSD stories. These seem to have surged in number recently. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller, While He Was Away by Karen Schreck, In Honor by Jessi Kirby, Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie, and A Brighter Fear by Kerry Drewery all fit in this category. In fact, there's even been a Goodreads list started specifically for YA and New Adult books with characters in the military!

  • Amnesia. Amnesia seems to be super popular right now in YA. I can't really figure out why, since most teens don't suffer from amnesia as far as I know (I never did!). Recent and upcoming books include: Forget You by Jennifer Echols, Forgotten by Cat Patrick (admittedly this has a paranormal element as well), Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler, Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom, One Moment by Kristina McBride, and Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf.

  • Car accidents/crashes. These tend to go hand-in-hand with the amnesia, but not always. In addition to Forget You, Where It Began, and Breaking Beautiful, there's If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle, The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes, and My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend. I'm kind of hoping that this trend will end soon, as it's getting overused. Surely you can introduce drama or tension into the characters' lives in another way? 

  • Books about grief/death/the afterlife. Given all the accidents and war, I guess this makes sense! Think Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, Losing Faith by Denise Jaden, Saving June by Hannah Harrington, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle. And there are plenty more in store — Before You Go by James Preller, The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg, Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough, and Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini — so it doesn't look like this angle will be fading anytime soon.

So, to sum up:

What you won't be seeing: books for boys and books with PoC characters.

What you will be seeing: misunderstood, grieving sisters who go on road trips, get in car crashes, and end up with amnesia and/or PTSD. You are in for a morbid ride. Enjoy! :D

So, what do you think: am I on the mark about this, or way off? What trends are you seeing in contemporary YA?

January 19, 2012

Vampire Academy: Outside My Comfort Zone Review

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Goodreads' description: "Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever..."

Technically I read this one last year, even if I didn't get around to reviewing it until now, so I'm counting it towards last year's "Read Outside Your Comfort Zone" Challenge. (I'm not hosting this challenge this year, but I will still be trying to broaden my comfort zone boundaries a bit, so you'll probably see a few reviews like this throughout the year.)

Why is it outside my comfort zone? Vampires...something about the whole sucking-your-blood gorefest has me more than a little wary of this sub-genre of paranormal YA.

Did it win me over? Why or why not? Okay, I have to admit: I was wrong about this series! It's dramatic, very addicting, and so much fun. The parallels/allusions to mental health issues (depression, schizophrenia, addiction) were really fascinating, providing a connection to the 'real world' despite the fact that this is a book all about vampires. For someone with a psychology background like me, this added an extra layer of interest.

The characterization and world-building were solid, but I took some issue with the plot. This is one of those books where dribs and drabs of information are handed out to the reader as the story goes along, but it's information that the protagonist knows and is just withholding from the reader for the moment. I'm sorry, but that always feels like a bit of a trick to me. It was executed quite well here, but the device itself I personally find kind of annoying.

Best aspect? Difficult to pick! I enjoyed both the characterization and the world Richelle Mead has created.   

I liked seeing the bond that Rose and Lissa share, though I took issue with Rose purposefully using that connection without informing Lissa of it. I found Rose to be a complex character — immature in some ways, but I'm hoping to see her grow throughout the series. Her ethics are shaky, she uses guys and even her friends sometimes, she spreads rumours, and she's a tad too quick to judge people. She can be rude, abrasive, and dishonest when she wants to be. She acts (as she admits herself) recklessly and impulsively, and she often views the world in black and white...but she has some wonderful qualities too. She's extremely loyal and brave; she sticks up for what she thinks is right, but she'll admit when she's wrong (although it might take a bit.) She's tough, and very protective of Lissa.

Mead has laid out a solid foundation for the social strata of this world. Each group of beings has a clearly marked role in society to play — the Moroi to beget more Moroi, the dhampir guardians to defend the Moroi, the feeders to keep the Moroi sustained, the "blood whores" to be treated as deviant social pariahs, the Strigoi to threaten the Moroi. I think there's a lot of potential in the way the society is structured for interesting dynamics and interactions to occur between the different groups, and for the stereotypes of each group to be challenged.
If I could change something, I would... raise the stakes for the climactic scene — it wasn't exciting enough for me,
and the villain reveal in particular was somewhat disappointing. The whole thing ended up being less "epic" than I had anticipated (although I suppose considering it's a series the author wanted to start small.) 

Also, a couple of the tactics used by the villains were far-fetched and require a serious suspension of disbelief (spoilers, highlight to read: seriously, a *lust* charm? Couldn't Victor have incapacitated Rose and Dimitri in some less convoluted way, that didn't rely on Rose actually deciding to wear the necklace? It seems a bit obvious that this was an attempt by the author to get the chemistry between Rose and Dimitri happening. Also, Natalie rotting the bench...how could she have had any idea Rose would jump up on it? Unless she was spying on her? This is never properly explained.)

Just one more thing I want to mention:  I wasn't entirely on board with the Dimitri/Rose dynamic. Perhaps it was the age thing, but it felt a little weird to me. However, I liked that she'd found someone she wanted to be with in a romantic way, that she actually connected with emotionally rather than just physically, someone that she respected.

Would I read more like this book? Yes! I'm definitely continuing on with this series.



He let go of my arm, looking disappointed, and ran a hand through his bronze-colored hair. Yeah. Not being able to hang out with him was a damned shame. I really would have to fix that someday. "Can't you ever get off for good behavior?" he joked.

I gave him what I hoped was a seductive smile as I found my seat. "Sure," I called over my shoulder. "If I was ever good."

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars.
I was really engrossed in this one!

Note: this book contains some violence, mature language, and sexual content.

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