Archive | January, 2010

Review: Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

21 Jan

Paradise wasn’t supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn’t have to be a jerk just because people think he’s one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come toterms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise. . . .

From confused to confident and back again, one thing’s certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

From HarperCollins website

I have to say, this book wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

I knew it was going to be about four teens whose lives intertwined, but I had assumed their stories would also be intertwined, ala Crash or Magnolia,  but instead the author chose to tell each character’s story separately.  And while they all crossed paths initially in Paradise, a good chunk of the book takes place after. At first I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but in the end it did, and it worked well.

I also really liked how, no matter how popular/unpopular the character was, each had moments of uncertainty about themeleves and who they are.  At one point one of the popular characters was jealous of one of the unpopular characters, making it clear that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

While my teen years are starting to become a distant memory, I do remember being envious of the pretty, popular girls, thinking that their lives were perfect. I think that Tangled could go a long way in helping teens realize that even those that seem to have it all, usually don’t.

Browse inside Tangled.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for providing a review copy of Tangled.

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A (sort of) reading challenge

19 Jan

I own waaaay too many books. I know this. I knew it when I was packing them up to move and I knew it when I was unpacking them. I have probably close to 100 books that I haven’t read yet.

While I was unpacking, I was actually having mini panic attacks over the book situation. Talk about overwhelming. And now I find that when I finish a book, I have no idea what I should read next.

So when I came across a post on Bart’s Bookshelf about a self imposed book buying bane, I thought, Yeah, I so need this.

So here’s the deal: for the next three months I’m not buying one book. Not at a bookstore, yard sale, flea market or anywhere else I may come across books. April 1st I will re-evaluate the book sitch and go from there.

It’ll be hard since I’m a bit of a stress shopper, and trust me, there is no end to the stress in my life right now. But it’s something I need to do. So here I go.

Q & A with Catherine McKenzie and a giveaway!

19 Jan

If you read my review of Catherine McKenzie debut novel Spin, then you know that I simply fell in love with this book. I was so happy to get the chance to ask Catherine a few questions about writing and the book. AND, I get to give a copy of Spin away. Yay!!!! Nothing is better than sharing an excellent read with another book lover.

Lavender Lines: Besides Katie, which character was the most fun to write?

Catherine: I’d have to say Amber Sheppard (the actress Katie follows into rehab). It was fun thinking up outrageous things for her to do, but also to come up with some of her less stereotypical characteristics. In a way, Amber’s journey is bigger than Katie’s, and just as important.

LL: What are some of your favorite books/authors discovered in 2009?

C: The best book I read in 2009 was Andre Agassi’s Open. I was already a big fan of his (I watched his first televised professional match and his last and hundreds in between), but the book was gripping in a way I hadn’t counted on. I know he wrote it with someone else, but the voice, the honesty, feels like his. It also had extra meaning for me because my sister, who lives in Vegas, went to see him and got him to autograph my copy as a birthday surprise. I also just finished Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall – historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s lawyer who was one of the chief architect’s of the Reformation. I studied Tudor & Stuart history in university, and I can’t even begin to imagine how she organized and learned the history well enough to write that book. Impressive.

LL: There are a lot of references to music throughout Spin and a track list at the end of the book. Are Katie’s musical musings indicative of your personal music preference?

C: In a word: yes. Probably too much so. Not that I love every song mentioned in the book or appearing on the playlist, but I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan, Matt Nathanson, David Grey, Eric Hutchinson and many of the others named in the book.

LL: You take on a very tough and serious topic in Spin (addiction). Was it hard to find the balance between maintaining the humorous tone of the book and addressing the serious consequences of drug and alcohol addiction?

C: It is something I struggled with at some points in the book. I didn’t want the book to come across as an attack on AA or treatment programs, but I knew a lot of the humour in the book had to come from Katie’s denial both of her own problems and the efficacy of the treatment she’s in. I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I did want to explore how someone who doesn’t believe in the fundamentals behind the twelve steps can succeed in treatment.

Contest deets:

Okay, now I get to give away one copy of Spin. This is my very first giveaway, so I wanted to do something fun. Here goes!

To enter to win a copy of Spin, all you have to do is comment with a “chick lit” moment you’ve experienced.  Not sure what I mean? Well, a “chick lit” moment I had was eating at a restaurant where the only other people there were my ex fiance and his whole freaking family.  I kid you not.  Or there was the time I interviewed with a company and half way through the interview realized I had research a different company with the same name (yeah, I so didn’t get the job). We’ve all had “chick lit” moments (even you guys!) so go ahead, dish the dirt. You’ll feel better. And you may win a copy of Spin.

A few small things……

The contest will run until Feb 18th.

It’s only for us Canucks, so if you don’t live in the Great White North (aka Canada) you’re out of luck.

Keep comments clean, please and thank you. Any comments I deem dirty will be deleted. Sorry folks, that’s just how I roll.

Music Monday: Norma MacDonald

18 Jan

I first heard Norma sing way back in the hay-day of Celtic music’s second (or was it third?) revival.  In the early ’90s it seemed that every Celtic band from the Maritimes had one female in the group, and for Highland Heights, it was Norma.  I was a huge fan from the get-go and actually got to know Norma and the boys from going to their concerts.

When Highland Heights broke up, I was a bit devastated. But then I found out that Norma had branched out on her own. And am I ever glad she did.

Her songs tend towards alt-country, but I hate categorizing anyone. For me, her songs are just great music.  Her debut CD, Nothing is Where it Was, was great, but her follow up, The Forest for the Trees, blew me away.

And while some people may think that this doesn’t have a lot to do with music, Norma is just a nice person. And whether she is playing to a crowd at the ECMAs (where she was nominated last year for female artist of the year), or a few people at a local bar, her stage presence is relaxed, funny and inviting.

She doesn’t have a video out yet (Hey Norma, when you do, I wanna be in it!!!) but here’s a clip from a December show she did at The Carlton.

Review: Spin by Catherine McKenzie

18 Jan

Katie Sandford has just gotten an interview at her favourite music magazine, The Line. It’s the chance of a lifetime. So what does she do? Goes out to celebrate — and shows up still drunk at the interview. No surprise, she doesn’t get the job, but the folks at The Line think she might be perfect for another assignment for their sister gossip rag. All Katie has to do is follow It Girl Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop (and complete the 30-day program without getting kicked out), they’ll reconsider her for the job at The Line.

Katie takes the job. But things get complicated when real friendships develop, a cute celebrity handler named Henry gets involved, and Katie begins to realize she may be in rehab for a reason. Katie has to make a decision — is publishing the article worth everything she has to lose?

From HarperCollins website

Damn, I loved this book! Damaged female lead, awkward situations, quirky friends and a hunky guy – honeslty? What’s not to love?

When I’m really into a book I devour it until I’m done. I also have a tendency to want to see what’s coming up so bad that I skim words, sometimes even whole paragraphs, so I can see what’s going to happen next. While reading Spin I quite often had to remind myself to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case read each wonderful word that McKenzie wrote. And the way she strung words together in this book was wonderful. And addictive.

I love damaged characters, and Spin had them a-plenty. And they weren’t so damaged that they were unbelievable – I could definintely identify with them. Maybe not with what they were going through, but the under lying reasons for their problems.

Quite often books that are catagorised as chic lit end up being a bit over the top and the characters come off as, well, cartoonie. McKenzie did a wicked job of keeping the balance between humourous and believable and given the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction played a major part in the plot, I’m sure it was a tough thing to do. But McKenzie pulls it off brilliantly.

Another thing that chic lit books sometimes go over board on is the romance (which usually makes me roll my eyes, gag, or both). For me, Spin had just the right touch. It wasn’t too steamy, too over done, or too romantic. It was realistic. And realistic romance is something that I appreciate in books.

I was actually sad when Spin was over, I like the characters so much. And I can’t wait to read more from McKenzie. I have a feeling she’s going to become one of my fave authors. In fact, I actually think she already is.

Browse inside Spin.

I Beta get going!

14 Jan

Holy snapping turtles, I have Beta readers! Yeppers, actual people besides me who are going to read my manuscript and tell me to what degree it was brilliant. Or at what point they fell asleep.

The back story to this book is I wrote it three years ago during NaNoWriMo and then put it away. I had no idea how to edit it. A year or so ago, I took it out, dusted it off and did two edits. Then I once again froze, and packed it away.

Well, now I want to see if it’s worth trying to get published. I have one more edit I want to do before handing it off to my Beta readers.

I’m excited and nervous at the same time. While I think the book’s good (even great at times) I can’t help but think of American Idol.

Okay stick with me here, folks. You know how they do those pre audition interviews and the potential star says they are the next Mariah, Whitney, Britney, Justin, or Michael? And then they sing and you can feel your ears bleed? What if I’m the writer’s version of that? What if I am literary tone-deaf?

It’s all very nerve-wracking, thinking of someone else reading my words. But it also makes me happy. Because I’ll soon know whether I should continue down this road of writing or apply at the nearest Walmart.

Music Monday: Christina Martin

11 Jan

So, there’s this thing on Twitter called #musicmonday. Pretty self explanatory. Using the hashtag, you give a shout out to music, songs or artists that you are listening to or want to let your followers know about.

I thought it might be kinda cool to do a weekly Music Monday post. You know, I mention a song or artist that I currently love and you guys can either check them out, fall in love with them also, or tell me why you think I’m way off the mark.

Feel free to comment on your current faves, also. I’m always looking for new music to listen to.

Today was a first for me, musically speaking. I bought a CD on line and downloaded it to my PC, rather than heading into a store and buying a hard copy. The CD is Christina Martin’s Two Hearts.

I first came across Christina on a compellation of East Coast female singer song writers, Atlantic Voices. Now, this whole CD is amazing, but Christina’s song Two Hearts gave me goose bumps. I’m listening to the whole CD for the first time as I type this, and so far I am loving it.

If I was forced to try to categorize Two Hearts and Christina’s music in general, I guess I’d have to say it’s alt-country-rock-folk. Yep, she’s all that wrapped up in a package of touching lyrics and possibly one of the most haunting voices I’ve heard in a while.

And if you don’t believe me, check out her video for Two Hearts.