Archive | August, 2010

Review: Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

31 Aug

Publisher: Random House Canada
Release year: 2010
Genre:
Adult, urban fantasy
One sentence summary:
Kick-ass heroine,kick-ass plot, kicked ass writing all rolled into one kick-ass book.
Rating:
5 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

The new novel in Kelley Armstrong’s bestselling Women of the Otherworld series showcases the fascinating Savannah Levine, a powerful young witch with a rebellious past and a troublesome heritage.

The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at twenty-one she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town, as a favour to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.

Soon Savannah is in over her head. She’s run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn’t her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she’s ever had to learn.

From Random House website.

CHARACTERS: If I use kick-ass again, it’ll be a bit too much, won’t it? Okay, thinking up another word to describe Savannah. Thinking, thinking……nope, it looks like it’s gonna have to be kick-ass. I love all of Kelley’s female leads. She always writes strong women who are also vulnerable and very, very realistic, and Savannah is in no way different.  Savannah is the youngest female lead in the series right now (although I am crossing my fingers that this series goes on long enough that we get a book about Elena and Clay’s twins. Hint, hint Kelley.) As I read Waking the Witch and learned more about her, Savannah fast became one of my favorite characters in the series.

PLOT : I am a huge fan of books surrounding a character coming into their own. With Savannah taking front and center in Waking the Witch, taking on a case by herself, we see her make the step from child to woman. And the twists and turns in Waking the Witch were dizzy-making. There is one serious WTF moment that had me shaking my head, laughing and applauding Kelley all at the same time. And the ending! OMG the ending. I won’t give anything away, but kudos Kelley, kudos.

WRITING: Seriously, what can I say? Kelley is one of my all-time favorite writers and she never disappoints. Since this book is from Savannah’s point of view and written in first person, the writing was a bit different than the other books in the series. It was looser, fresher, younger and a bit “dirtier”. (Not sex dirtier, thank God. Like gritty dirtier, if that makes any sense.)There was more slang, more cursing and the writing seemed faster paced. It was perfect and I really feel like I got to know Savannah. I’ve read all of Kelley’s books, and I think that Waking the Witch is my favorite so far, beside Stolen.

WHO I WOULD RECOMMEND WAKING THE WITCH TO: It goes without saying anyone who even remotely enjoyed any of the other Women of the Otherworld books will love Waking the Witch. As will anyone who is a fan of urban fantasy.

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Review: My Worst Best Friend by Dyan Sheldon

30 Aug

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release year: 2010
Genre:
YA
One sentence summary:
Keep your friends close, keep your selfish, annoying treats-you-like-crap best friend even closer.
Rating:
3.5 out of 5
Review copy from publisher

Gracie and Savannah are best friends –and utterly unalike. Savannah is beautiful, outrageous, and irresistible to the opposite sex. Gracie is shy, smart, and would rather be studying lizards than meeting boys. Still, they’ve made a surprisingly great team, and (until now) it seemed as if nothing could come between them. But lately, Savannah’s talent for lying and manipulating is becoming harder to ignore. She’s fallen head over heels for an elusive college boy, and Gracie can’t help wondering: is her friend as confident as she seems? When Savannah gets between Gracie and her crush, the line separating best friend from worst friend is crossed.

From Candlewick Press website.

CHARACTERS: Here’s the thing: I didn’t love any of these characters. Well, except for Cooper who reminded me of Johnny Depp in Benny and Joon. Cooper was just a cool, weird dude.  I found Gracie to be a living, breathing doormat for Savannah. And as for Savannah, well, she was just a peach. But even though I didn’t care for them all that much and I did a lot of eye-rolling and head-shaking as I read, they were believable. And I think A LOT of teen girls are going to be able to identify with Gracie. Hell, I haven’t been a teen for a while and I identified with her.

PLOT: OMG this brought back memories. Savannah is just using Gracie and really doesn’t give a damn about her, but Gracie doesn’t see it. Everyone around Gracie sees it, but not her. There were times when I was literally screaming at Gracie to wake the Hell up and ditch Savannah. When their friendship starts to go south, it was great watching Gracie come into her own. And really, that’s what this book is all about: discovering who you are and what’s best for you. It’s also about finding the right balance between being a good friend and not being taken advantage of.

WRITING: What struck me the most about Sheldon’s writing was her dialogue and the way she used it to as an extension of her characters’ personalities. The main characters each had very distinct speech patterns, especially Savannah and Cooper. The story is told in first-person and it was neat to see what Gracie thought of them and how much it differed from what we learned through what they said.

WHO I WOULD  RECOMMEND MY WORST BEST FRIEND TO: If you are into realistic, honest YA, then you will probably enjoy this book.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

30 Aug

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 had another not too bad reading week. I got hit with a mondo headache Wednesday, which slowed me down a bit.

Read last week

My Worst Best Friend by Dyan Sheldon

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Rotten Apple by Rebecca Eckler

Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

Currently reading

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The Demon Kiss by Lacey Weatherford

To read

I am sooooo behind on my review books it isn’t funny. What it is in panic attack inducing. So while I need to go through my stack and prioritize, I’m not sure what I’ll be reading this week, but I’d like to get 4 – 6 read.

In My Mailbox

29 Aug

This weekly meme is a great way to let other readers know what books they should be looking out for. In My Mailbox is hosted by the  The Story Siren.  You can find out more deets about it  here.

Last week my book buying ban kinda went straight to Hell. But, after counting and realize I have, oh, about 400 unread books in the house, I’m thinking I really need to try harder not to bring any books into the house. But, on the other hand, I have a small talking book on my shoulder mumbling, “What’s the damage? Who are you hurting by buying books?” So, we’ll. Now for this weeks books:

REVIEWED/GIFTED

Thankfully the number of review books that are coming into the house has slowed down. I find that most of my review books tend to arrive all at the same time, leaving me with so many books to review that I get a bit panicky. I am woefully behind on the review copies I have that have already been released and my September/October releases are begging to be read. I’ll pick away at them, and have decided not to accept anymore review copies until my stack is much, much lower.

Review
Rotten Apple by Rebecca Eckler(Random House Canada)
The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden (Penguin Canada)

Gifted
Amy from Amy Reads, who is fast becoming my local bookish partner in crime, gifted me some ARCs that she has already finished.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Home is with Our Family by Joyce Hansen
Stranger Here Below by Joyce Hinnefeld
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan

BOUGHT

So, that big book sale at Indigo I went to last Saturday? I kinda went back again on Sunday. Only so the hubs could check it out, you know? And, lo and behold, any book over $10 was on for $2 and the rest were all $1 each. Seriously, what was I to do but buy some more books? I also picked up a book at the Mockingjay release party and received one through bookmooch.

Hinterland from James Clemens – This one came via bookmooch
Benny and Omar by Eoin Cofler
Ordinary Ghosts by Eireann Corrigan
Alex Detail’s Revolution by Darren Campo
Alien Taste by Wen Spencer
The Magical Monastery by Idries Shab
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

And, of course, the big one:

Book purge 2010 update: an idea is born

27 Aug

So, as some of you may know, about a month or so ago I did a major book purge. In total I think that I decided about 200 books needed to find a new home. A bunch of them went to a really cool local second hand bookstore and the hubs and I exchanged them for more books (kinda counter-intuitive, I know, but work with me folks.) At that bookstore visit an idea took seed in the hubs’ brain. He didn’t share it with me right away,  but later that day he said the magical words most bookworms would love to hear;

“Hey, wanna open a second hand book store?”

Of course my first response was “Bawha?”  Then I giggled. A LOT.

So it looks like I’ll be opening a used book store next June. Wanna see where it’ll be?

Future home of the Book Nook

I know, I know. It doesn’t look like much now, and trust me, it isn’t. It needs to be re-shingled, re-floored and windowed. But the hubs thinks it’s all doable. Swears that it’s all doable. And he says even if we have to sell the books on tables outside the store, I’m opening up in the spring.

Aaaand, since I didn’t sell all of my purged books, I even have some stock!

Yes that's Twilight. Please don't judge.

Am I excited? You bet. Scared shitless? Goes without saying. But it’s a new adventure and I’m about due for another one.

Review: Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski

27 Aug

Random House Canada, 2010

A new life is just a phone call away!

Devi’s life isn’t turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn’t join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn’t some wacko—she realizes that she’s been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she’s already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?

From Random House Canada website.

*Warning: overuse of the word “cool” ahead.*

Imagine being able to get a hold of your 14 year old self. How cool! I mean, the things I’d tell myself at that age! Let’s see, I’d start with “110 pounds is not fat”, “Ditch the dude but keep the music he introduced you to,” and “That scribbling you do all the time? For the love of God, keep at it!”  But enough about me. On to the book.

I first hear of Gimme A Call a while back on Twitter when the #gimmeacall hashtag hit. I think it was perhaps one of the coolest cases of viral marketing I have EVER seen. What started as a quiet way for the author to publicize her upcoming book on Twitter exploded into everyone and their dog tweeting what they’d tell their 14 year old self. Mucho cool and genius to boot. It made me curious about the book. Curious enough to request a review copy. So, yeah, kudos to Mlynowski.

This was just a cool book. Really. The idea was cool, the writing was cool, the ending was cool.

The book flips back and forth between now Devi and 14 year old Devi. It was cool to watch 14 year old Devi change something and then get to see how it affected today Devi. It was very butterfly affect-y. And of course the changes were rarely what today Devi was expecting.

I love when on the surface a YA book seems to be all about the fun and fluffy but underneath there is a layer of seriousness. Gimme A Call wasn’t just about watching the changes that happened in today Devi’s life and giggling about the snafus. It was also about choosing the right path, doing what’s best for you and how no matter how much you try to change, somethings are just inevitable. What was cool was that Mlynowski didn’t shove any big meaning in your face, but rather let it sneak up on you.

I think a lot of readers are going to enjoy Gimme A Call and find it as cool as I did.

Browse inside Gimme a Call.

It was very cool of Random House Canada to send me a review copy.

Happy blogiversary to me! (kinda)

26 Aug


So, today is and isn’t my blogiversary. Confused? Let me explain.

It is, indeed, the 1 year blogiversary for this blog, but not for me. Before I settled in at Lavender Lines, I had another blog. I’d link to that blog if I could remember the name. But I can’t. So just take my word on it. Aaaaand before I had the unnamed blog, I started off reviewing book for Edwards Magazine Bookclub (Go visit them, k? Tell them I sent you).

But a year ago today I started Lavender Lines with very little idea about what the Hell I was doing. I still wander around the blogosphere clueless for most of the time, but there have been a few things happen over the past year:

My voice
When I started this blog, I had no idea what my voice was and when I look back at those early reviews they really don’t sound like me. They’re good reviews and a bit more in depth and traditional than what I spew out these days, but they didn’t have a whole lot of personality to them. I was trying to write reviews like I thought they should be written. I have slowly come to realize I prefer writing about books like I talk about books. So there’s slang, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, some cursing and a whole Hell of a lot of OMG-ing.

Books
While I still review adult books, the majority of my book reading is now YA, MG and urban fantasy. Those are just the books that I prefer now. Once again I’ve stopped reviewing what I think I should review and prefer to review what I like. I still step outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis, but for the most part I stick to what I know I will dig.

Stats
I’m not going to bore you by listing a slew of stats or anything, but I will say this: I now get more hits per day than I used to get monthly. I still have small numbers compare to most, but hey, I’m just happy that anyone reads what I write.

Now for the party!
I hemmed and hawed for the past week about whether or not I wanted to do a giveaway, and finally decided late last night that I did. (The decision could have been a direct result of too much sinus medication.) I wanted to do something cool and related to my blogiversary, so here’s what I came up with: I am giving away one copy of a book that’s on my wish-list.

See, for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries or any other gift-giving occasion, I always get books. So, for my blogiversary I wanted to share with you guys some of the books that I will be hoping to get this year for my birthday, anniversary and Christmas, all of which are right around the corner. These beauts are all either new or soon to be released YA books that make me drool every time I think about them. I will be sending one copy to someone anywhere in the word, as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country. Cool, eh? If it wasn’t my contest I’d totally enter. So, here’s the books:

Hex Hall

The Iron King

13 to Life

Infinite Days

Ash

Delirium

So, all you have to do to enter is leave me a comment by September 1st with your email addy, letting me know which book you want. Oh, and just to make things fun, and since it’s MY blogiversary, if you win, whichever book you choose, I’ll be ordering for myself, also. 🙂

Review: You Wish by Mandy Hubbarb

25 Aug

Penguin Canada, 2010

Kayla McHenry’s sweet sixteen sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla’s secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually came true. Because they never freakin’ do.

Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year’s supply of gumballs arrives. A boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of the same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla’s wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride . . . but they MUST STOP. Because when she was fifteen? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her. And Ben is her best friend’s boyfriend.

From Penguin Canada website.

Okay as I read You Wish I couldn’t help but try to think back on the birthday wishes I made before I turned 16. Now, my early teen years were a while ago, so the memories are a bit fuzzy. But, like Kayla, I know that somewhere along the line my wishes must have had to do with kissing a boy. And for me I’m pretty sure a year supply of Sour Patch Kids would have come a’knocking.

This was just a cute book. I usually HATE describing anything as cute, but it is what it is.

I felt bad for Kayla as her birthday wishes descended on her, but I couldn’t help laughing at the whole thing, too. I mean, a pink My Little Pony? I had one of those. I still have one of those . But in no way would I have ever wanted the thing life-sized and following me around. Being a teen is embarrassing enough without a Ken Doll thinking your Barbie, and some of the scenes were definitely cringe-worthy. You know when you see someone else do something so awkward you get embarrassed for them? You Wish was full of them.

You Wish wasn’t just a cutsey book, though. There were other things going on, deeper things, teen-aged things, that I think the author handled terrifically. I won’t say anymore, because I don’t want to give anything away, but I wanted to make sure that you guys didn’t walk away from the review thinking this book was pure fluff.

I liked this book.It had a super balance between light and semi-serious. When I was finished, I was left with a smile on my face. Which is exactly what I wished for.

Thanks to Penguin Canada for the review copy.

Wednesday’s Words

25 Aug

Here’s a short I’ve been working on

The Leaving

He shifts the truck into drive and I’m immediately reminded that the shocks need replacing. We bounce along for about fifteen minutes, neither of us saying a thing as we pass the local chipwagon, town limits, and then the National park. The comfortable silence between us halts and changes, like a drop in temperature. I shiver and breathe out, half expecting to see ice form in my breath. Tommy clutches the steering wheel harder, back molars grinding slightly. I flick on the radio. Leonard Cohen singing about broken Hallelujahs. I turn the radio off, sit on my hands so I don’t fidget. The stale silence is killing me but I refuse to be the one to break it. After showing so much humility, so much of my core in the past 24 hours, I refuse to give in.

After another five minutes, Tommy finally breaks down and speaks. Although once I hear the thought slip from his mouth I wish he had continued shutting up.

“You wanna leave, fine. I don’t care.”

I want to tell him that I know that. That I remember the exact day and time that he stopped caring. It was a Monday after supper. It was snowing and we ended up stormstayed for days.  I knew before he had even said the words that he’d stopped really caring.  But I let him have his say. Let him feel better about himself while crushing me further and further into the ground.

I have no idea if I’m supposed to answer him, because he really didn’t ask a question. I don’t think I could have answered even if I wanted to. His tone and my memories feel like poutine in my mouth. Chewy and sometimes hard to swallow.

I take the elastic out of my hair and run my hands through my curls, enjoying the slight sting of static. I wrap the band back around my hair, not really caring about neatness. Tommy’s seen me with spiked hair, permed hair and after sex hair. A sloppy ponytail wasn’t going to turn the tide either way.

“I’m not going with you.”

“I know”.

“It’s like I told you, I can’t.”

“S’okay.”

“I want to, I think, but –“

“I know, Tommy, I know.”

I don’t want to hear his reasons again, his list of why. Why it’s not right for him. Why I’m not right for me.

Some women in my shoes would try to convince him. Jack up their boobs, lower their lashes and voices. I had thought about it for a second before realizing I would never do that. I don’t think I could pull it off.

But just now, just for a moment, I feel a twinge of doubt. Maybe it would have worked. Maybe instead of being in this truck we’d be home, curled up on the couch watching TV, or at the kitchen table playing Scrabble, laughing and sharing a Bloody Caesar. Maybe.

I put my feet up on the dashboard and try to squish myself into a ball. Look at my worn hiking boots and sigh.

“We did our best. Still do, I guess.”

“I know, Cady, but if only –“

“If only’s a dangerous game.”

“I didn’t know she’d come back.”

“But you wanted her to.”

In his silence I get my answer.

Her coming back was sudden. I blinked. A second slipped by and there she was in front of me, flowing blond hair perfectly mussed up despite the high humidex. Layered gypsy skirt blowing in the breeze. I stood outside the hardware store in paint splattered cutoffs, hair shoved under one of Tommy’s baseball caps. I watched her approach, gliding across Main Street on silver strapped sandals, and before he came out and saw her, heard her voice sweet like a butter tart, I knew I had already lost. That maybe I had never really even been in the game.

We continue driving, going forward even when our thoughts are leading us behind. And even though we’re in the truck together, we’ve already started living our separate lives. I know he’s thinking a bit about me, but mostly about her and how to make her happy. Make her stay. I concentrate on breathing and stare out the window. Watch the sun glint off of the trees, sparkly from the latest silver thaw. Breathe in. Out.

I look at him out of the corner of my eye, scrunching his nose and pulling his toque down, and realize despite the months that have passed, the hurt and anger are still fresh.  They haven’t had enough time to shrink in depth.  I turn my eyes back towards the window and watch something less hurtful.

The bus station appears to our right. Tommy blows a breath out as he rolls the truck to a stop. I have my door open before he has the key out of the ignition. I grab my bag from the back and head toward the ticket book. I’m nervous, shaking, and my steps are those of someone impaired. I hope he stays in the truck. I hope he gets out and comes after me. Tries to stop me like he means it, not because he feels guilty. He gets out of the truck at half speed, like he’s walking through chocolate pudding. He’s next to me by the time I have my ticket in hand.

“This is stupid.”

“To you, maybe.”

“You don’t have to go.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Cady.”

“Don’t Tommy, please.”

I watch his eyes frowning and pleading. Oddly enough I don’t feel like crying, but he does. I can see him suck in his lower lip, a tell-tale sign of how upset he is. He reaches out a finger to touch my cheek and then seems to remember I’m not his to touch. Not anymore.

“I still love you.”

“I know.”

I walk away. There’s nothing more to say. I know a part of him still loves me. It’s why I’m leaving.

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

25 Aug

Scholastic Canada, 2010

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

From Indigo.ca website.

*SPOILER FREE REVIEW*

“No way!”

“What?!?”

“Oh my God!”

“Nooo!”

“*+@#*”

These are all things that I said out loud as I was reading Mockingjay. Yes, folks, I was talking to myself, the book, the cats as I read the final installment of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Now, this is not something I normally do by any means. I was just so shocked by elements of this book and couldn’t believe Collins had gone where she had gone that I needed to vocalize that disbelief. I mean, there are parts of the book where Collins blew my mind. Freaking amazing.

Besides talking out loud, I laughed, shook my head, got angry and cried. Seriously, when I finished Mockingjay I felt like a needed a nap to recuperate from the emotional teeter-tooter I had been on.

The writing as usual was amazing and from the very first line I was completely drawn into the story. I didn’t whip through Mockingjay in one sitting, though, but that had nothing to do with the book and more to do with me. I didn’t want it to end, so I kept getting up and doing other things. But once I hit those last 100 pages? I was glued to my sit and my eyes never left the pages. And as soon as I was finished I wanted to start back over again at the beginning.

I think that fans of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are going to be pretty happy with how Collins ties up the trilogy. And if you haven’t read these books yet, you really should. It’s not often that I think books live up to their hype, but these ones certainly do.

I did pick up a copy at the midnight release party, but that’s going to go to a friend. Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for further feeding my Hunger Games addiction.