Archive | May, 2010

Review: Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

31 May

Candlewick Press, 2010

Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

From Candlewick Press website

 

You know when it’s a nice summer day and your sitting at the beach, on the deck or by the pool and you’re looking for a fun, light summer read?  That’s exactly what Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is. Yes, the title is a bit of a mouth full, but that’s the only super heavy thing about this book.

Jenna was a likable character, even if she did sprout off a bit too much about all things environment, at least in the beginning. As the book went on, she mellowed out and learned the very valuable life lesson that there is two sides to every story. Or in this case, every cause.

The only thing that really bugged me was Jenna’s incessant need to have the boys in the book like her. I don’t mean that she wanted every guy to fall in love with her, no. But when she was trying to make friends, she basically let them treat her like dirt and then was still trying to find ways for them to like her. I  mean, there’s no way they were the ONLY teens in the town. I totally would have told them to go jump in the lake, but that’s just me. And it may explain why I didn’t have a lot of friends as a teen.

There are some twists and turns and a bit of romance, as there should be in any self-respecting YA book. None of it felt heavy handed, though and McDonald did a great job of weaving them into Jenna’s story.

The writing style was very airy, fitting in with the overall tone of the book. I really felt like I was there in the wild with Jenna, experiencing it for the first time. Of course, as a Canadian I chuckled over some of the scenes, particularly the one with the moose. (BTW honking your horn at a moose? So not the thing to do.)

So, while I didn’t love Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, I did like it an awful lot.

Thanks bunches to the folks at Candlewick press for the review copy.

Review: Folly by Marthe Jocelyn

13 May

Tundra Books, 2010

A love story, a social history, and an act that echoes through generations.Set in the late 1800’s, Marthe Jocelyn’s stunning new novel is told in the voices of four people whose lives and destinies intertwine. There’s Mary, who begins “exceeding ignorant” (apart from what a girl can learn from family mayhem, a dead mother, and a grim stepmother) and winds up encountering lust and betrayal when she becomes a servant in a fine house in London. Mary’s nemesis is another maid in the household, Eliza. Eliza also knows lust and betrayal, but she doesn’t know who is betraying who.

Mary’s and Eliza’s actions will intersect with a foundling home in London, where Oliver is a teacher who tries to avoid feeling anything that will perhaps make him live a real life. And then there’s the foundling boy, James. Who will he grow up to be if he doesn’t know where he comes from?

From Tundra Books website

 

Oh, my!  This was a delicious read. And I mean it.  Delicious.  I don’t normally read historical or romance novels, but the cover of Folly caught my attention and I thought I’d give it a whirl. I was sucked in my Mary’s voice from the first page and I stayed entranced with her story. Love, lust, longing, deceit, envy. This book has it all.

I love stories where strangers end up being interconected, and that is definitely the case with Folly. The story is told by the four main characters (Mary, Eliza, Oliver and James) during two different time periods.  At first I thought that I would find this a bit confusing, but nope, not at all. Jpocelyn writes it in such a way that it is both rich in detail and easy to follow.

This was a fun read. It had me cringing, shaking my head and my fist, laughing and crying. If you are looking for a great summer read, then Folly should definitely go on your list.

Review: Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

11 May

Tundra Books, 2010

Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.

Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to.

From Tundra Books website

 

Man, don’t you love when you pick up a book to read and about three sentence in you’re like, “This rocks!”.  Yeah, that’s how it was for me and Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen. 

Ambrose, and all of the characters, are wonderfully quirky, but not so much that they aren’t believable. All of us, regardless of our age, know or have known an Ambrose (some of us have been an Ambrose). Awkward, geeky, no social skills yet blissfully unaware most of the time. He was just such a great character to read about and get to know, from his scrabble loving ways to his purple pants and hand made hat.

The friendship that blossoms between Ambrose and Cosmo is so unlikely, yet makes perfect sense at the same time. Kinda like when someone dares you to eat some food combination that should be gross but is totally delicious.

Nielsen has written episodes of the popular Canadian TV series Degrassi Junior High and also four Degrassi books (there are Degrassi books? MUST FIND!), so she is well versed and well practiced in writing about youngsters. And it shows in her writing. Everything described, no matter how weird, is believable.

There are messages in Word Nerd but they don’t seem forced. From family love, to getting over our fears after losing someone, to realizing that no matter how weird you are, there’s a place where you fit in, this is just a warm and funny and fuzzy book. And I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

10 May

Random House, 2010

Only two weeks ago, life was all too predictable. But that was before I saw my first ghost. Now along with my supernatural friends Tori, Derek, and Simon, I’m on the run from the Edison Group, which genetically altered us as part of their sinister experiment. We’re hiding in a safe house that might not be as safe as it seems. We’ll be gone soon anyway, back to rescue those we’d left behind and take out the Edison Group . . . or so we hope.

From Random House Canada website

 

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite authors, plain and simple. I’ve read everything she has published and never once have I been disappointed. That goes for the final installment of her YA trilogy, The Reckoning, as well.  I loved it.

This was another one day read for me, as all of Kelley’s books tend to be. Once I got into it, I simply didn’t want to put it down.  The plot, the writing, the characters – it was all perfect.

I love Chloe as a main character and I was sad that the trilogy had ended. But at the same time that’s the great thing about Kelley and her approach to her series:  she writes what the series needs, not necessarily what her audience wants. She’s taken flack for this in the past, but I think it’s great. And also one of the reasons her writing and her series never get stale.

Okay, the book. What can I say? There’s a lot of personal growth for the characters in The Reckoning and it was nice to see the four come together and work as a group. Chloe also learns more about her powers and how to use them.  Dereck, who was my least favorite character in the first two books, emerged as my favorite character.  We get a better understanding for him and some of the actions he takes.

There’s a bit of romance, but just a smidgen, which is perfect for my tastes.  The romantic stuff is very secondary to the plot, so it never felt like this was a romance disguised as a paranormal book. 

Kelley’s writing style is descriptive, yet quick and the action flows at a break neck speed.  And the scenes where Chloe does some of her necromancer stuff? Goosebumpy fun! I also loved the nods to her Women of the Otherworld series. Every time a Cabal was mentioned, or the werewolf pack, I giggled just a bit.

Browse inside The Reckoning.

Thanks muchly to Random House Canada for the review copy.

Giveaway: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

4 May

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen — and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

From Simon and Schuster website

I recently won Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush as part of a prize pack. The thing is, I already own it. All of my friends already own it. Then I realize I have a whole slew of friends who may not have read it – my readers and online peeps. So, I’m giving one of my copies away! And I promise it won’t be the one the cat chewed.

Now, some people make you go through a zillion hoops in order to enter a contest, but not me, nope. I just have one hoop. :0P

To enter, comment below and tell me if you had wings, what would they be made of?

(If I had wings they would be made of pink and purple post it notes of all the books I want to read.)

Get creative, get silly. Have fun.

*Contests ends May 31st. Open to Canada and the US only. One entry per person. Winner to be drawn randomly*

*NEW*  So, I’ve decided to add some surprises to Hush, Hush. And no, I won’t tell you what, no matter how much you beg!  What I will tell you is that at least one other book will be accompanying Hush, Hush.  And depending on my mood on draw day, I’ll throw in some other bookish things, too.