Archive | June, 2010

And the winner is …….

30 Jun

Bailey wins the copy of Emily the Strange I had up for grabs. Congrats Emily!

If you didn’t win, don’t worry. I’m still giving away a copy of White Cat by Holly Black.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered. Nice to know I’m not the only one who leads a strange life!

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Review: Stolen Child by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

30 Jun

Scholastic Canada, 2010

Nadia arrives in Canada after the end of World War II, from the Displaced Persons’ camp where she has spent the last five years. But troubling memories and dreams begin to haunt her. Who is she really? She sees images of another family, Nazi uniforms, Hitler . . . but can she believe what her dreams are telling her?

From Scholastic Canada website

At this point in my life I’m not ashamed to admit that I know pretty much nothing about history. I sucked at the subject in school and the way it was taught didn’t entice me to learn about it on my own. I know the basics like everyone else, but as for actual details? Yeah, you so don’t want me on your trivia team.

So I love that there are all these books out there that may be fiction but are based on historical facts. I’ve read a few adult historical fiction novels but recently discovered a pure love for middle school and young adult historical fiction. I think it’s because these books don’t tend to assume that the reader already knows a crap load about the period or subject matter.

Stolen Child is an engaging story about one child’s journey to not only fit in in Canada after fleeing the Nazis, but to also try to piece together her past and where she came from.  I loved reading about Nadia learning to speak English and her wonder at the local library. Her simple joy over the most basic things really brought home how lucky were are, and have always been, in Canada.

Aspects of WWII and the Nazis are revealed through Nadia’s returning memories of her younger years.  I loved that rather than simply telling us about Nazi specifics, the author chose to reveal the details in this way. I can’t really say too much because I don’t want to give anything away, but I definitely learned something new about that time period from Stolen Child.

There are also a few pages of “Author’s Notes” at the end of the book that explain a bit more about what Stolen Child is about. I think that these included pages would be a big help to not only solidify what was in the book, but to help any younger readers who may be a bit unsure about what was fiction vs what was historical fact.

I really enjoyed this book and I love that these middle school and young adult historical fiction books are kind of a sneaky teaching tool. I think that if I had had them available to me when I was in school, I wouldn’t have been such a reluctant history student.

Thanks to Scholastic Canada for helping this late learner.

Wednesday’s Words

30 Jun

Behind his eyes I can see it.
Deep down it’s there,
earthy and brilliant
waiting to open up, show itself.
Produce fireworks that burn cold,
leaving me wanting to buy more.

Because I believe in the enormity
that is passion,
burning through time like a cigarette.
Clouding judgement pleasantly and
making fire shine like blue diamonds.

Quick giveaway: White Cat by Holly Black

29 Jun

Holy smoly I finally figured out how to add a widget to my home page so you peeps can subscribe to my blog on any feed you want! Yes, I know this may not seem like such a big deal to you, but it is to me. Not because I figured it out, but because I finally got off my but (or in this case on it) and actually figured it out.

To celebrate I’m hosting an impromptu giveaway. Up for grabs is a copy of Holly Black’s White Cat. Now, to be honest, I really didn’t care much for this book, but I seem to be in the minority. Most readers love, love loved it!

All you have to do to enter is subscribe to my feed (Duh, like you didn’t see THAT one coming) and just drop me a quick “hello” in the comment section letting me know you’re a subscriber. *

I’m quite giddy about today’s accomplishment, so don’t be surprised if I add something(s) to the giveaway.

Yay me!

*If you only leave a comment and don’t subscribe, you won’t be entered in the draw.

Music Monday: Midnight Oil

28 Jun

My husband recently surprised me by uploading some amazing 80s songs to his iPhone. The reason I was so surprised? Not only were they some of my favorite songs, but they were tunes I didn’t even know hubby liked. When I asked him he said the reason he uploaded the songs was because he knew they were faves of mine. (Cue the “aaaaahhhhs” now).

One particular song brought me straight back to grade 8 and instantly put a smile on my face.  I laughed and clapped my hands in glee, because I hadn’t heard it in years.

I love this video. The dancing antics of the lead singer, Peter Garrett, alone make it watchable. And I find him kinda hot, too.

Did I mention my hubby is bald? 😛

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

28 Jun

This fun weekly book meme was created by  J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but  Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books has taken over hosting duties. It’s a great way to not only keep track of what you are reading and have read, but to let others know of any great books coming up.

I haven’t posted one of these in a while and I’ve really missed it.

Read last week:
The Truth about Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen – My first Cohen book. I simply adored it. Beautifully written with wonderful characters. I will definitely be going back and reading her other books.

The Breakwater House by Pascale Quiviger – This was a different read for me. Stories within stories within stories. Sometimes confusing, but the language is so stunning it’s well worth it.

Currently reading:
The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty – The format of this YA gothic novel has made it a bit hard to get into, but I am starting to enjoy the story.

To Read:
Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher – This looks like a freaking hilarious read.
Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill – I think this YA book is going to be dramatic and delicious.

What are YOU reading this week?


Do Nothing but Read Day? Hrmmmm

26 Jun

Yeah, so my big Do Nothing but Read Day will hopefully start now, at 2:30 pm. I know, I know, I was all hyper and set to go at 9 am this morning. But remember that little aside about the orphaned raccoon babies? Well, they arrived. 🙂 So there was de-ticking, feeding and raccoon cuddling happening today.

But the little tikes are sleeping so I should get in a couple of hours of reading.

Oh, and hubby informed that in Colleen-land Do Nothing but Read Day can actually be TWO days.

Do Nothing but Read Day!

26 Jun

Yay! It’s finally here!  Okay, so I just heard about this Tuesday and didn’t have long to wait, but still. Yay! I have so many great books picked out. And if I get bored with any of them?  I have about 400 others to pick from.

So today all I have to do is read, read, read!

Well, except for maybe go pick up day-old orphaned raccoon babies.

But that’s another blog post.

Review: No Moon by Irene N. Watts

25 Jun

Tundra Books, 2010

A story of reliance and resilience. Did you call out to us, Johnny, before your small body was dragged down under the water? Why didn’t we hear you? I am sorry! I’ll never forget.

Louisa Gardener is the fourteen-year-old nursemaid to the young daughters of a wealthy, titled family living in London, England, in 1912.

Despite the bullying Nanny Mackintosh, for whom she is an extra pair of hands, she loves her work and her young charges. Then everything changes. The family decides to sail to New York aboard the Titanic. An accident to the children’s nanny, only days prior to the sailing, means that Louisa must go in her stead. She cannot refuse, although she dreads even the mention of the ocean. Memories she has suppressed, except in nightmares, come crowding back.

When Louisa was five and her sister seven years old, their two-year-old brother died on an outing to the seaside. Since that time, Louisa has had a fear of the ocean. She blames herself for the accident, though she has been told it wasn’t her fault.

If Louisa refuses to go on the voyage, she will be dismissed, and she will never get beyond the working-class life she has escaped from.

From Tundra Books website.

I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction in the past. It isn’t because I hate the genre, but more because I just didn’t have a strong interest in it. But in the last year I’ve read a couple of great adult historical fiction novels, including The Day the Falls Stood Still. I recently decided to give YA historical fiction a go, and to my delight it’s fast becoming one of my favorite genres.

No Moon definitely qualifies as historical fiction. And even though it’s story line is somewhat centered around the ill-fated Titanic, the Titanic plot line was secondary to Louisa’s story. So, even though most of us know what happened to the Titanic, this retelling never appeared stale. Nor was that part of the novel over-dramatic and heavy, which I appreciated.

Watts’ created such a wonderful character in Louisa that her decision of whether or not  to go on the Titanic weighed on me. I felt vested in what happened to her and the family she was working for so much that at times I wanted to yell “Don’t go!”. The will she or won’t she element of the book presented some nice moments of tension for both the character and the reader.

This was a short read (232 pages) but very meaty in detail and character development.  I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA historical fiction.

A big curtsy to Tundra Books for the review copy.

Review: The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers

24 Jun

HarperCollins Canada, 2010

All Sophie wants is to forget what happened last summer. But that’s not easy when people keep asking if she’s okay, and her mother locks herself behind closed doors for hours at a time. And now her best friend, Abigail, cares more about parties and boys than hanging out with Sophie.

Lost in memories of the life she once had — before that terrible day — Sophie retreats into herself. But it’s only so long before she must confront the tragedy of her past so she can face the future.

From HarperCollins Canada website.

This was a beautifully written book that was, by times, tough to read. I don’t mean that it was confusing or bad. What I mean is the pain that Sophie goes through and the vivid description of her panic attacks and anxiety was hard to work through, but well worth it. For me, it was the depth and the detailed telling of Sophie’s emotional state that made The Worst Thing She Ever Did such a gripping read.

As readers, we don’t know what happened last summer until nearly the end of the book. It was this unknowing that added mystery to the novel and also intensified what Sophie was going through. Throughout the book I was constantly imagining what could have happened to make her as anxious and out of touch as she was.

The closer I got to the moment of revelation, the closer I got to figuring out what had happened. This is because Kuipers shows us, through bits and pieces, memories and Sophie’s wanting to forget, exactly what happened rather than simply telling us. And while I won’t give anything away, it was heart wrenching.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that towards the end, once we find out what happened to Sophie last summer, there is a bit of a generalized life lesson that is thrown in. While it by no means ruined the book for me, I think that it took me out of the main story for a bit.

This was a beautiful read and I highly recommend it.

Lots of thanks go out to HarperCollins Canada for this unexpected but much loved review copy.

Browse inside The Worst Thing She Ever Did.