Archive | September, 2010

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

30 Sep

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release year: 1999
Genre: YA contemporary
One sentence summary: Silence doesn’t always speak louder than words.
Rating:5 out of 5
Purchased after some douche decided it should be banned

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

From Penguin Canada website.

*There are some slight spoilers in this review*

So a week or so ago some twit decided that Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Speak should be banned from schools. Why? He said that it contained soft porn. The book – SPOILER – is about a teen dealing with rape. The so-called soft porn is the rape scene. Yes, you read that right. I was enraged at this and immediately went out to buy Speak, since I hadn’t read it before.  After reading it I was even more pissed off at this jerk.

Speak is a beautiful and very, very important book for teens. If I had the money I would make sure that every girl entering high school had a copy. Unfortunately I think a lot of girls will be able to identify with Melinda and what she goes through.

Anderson’s writing is both sparse and poetic at the same time. From the opening line you get a feel for Melinda and the strength and courage she must have to face school every single day knowing she’s mostly likely going to be harassed and ridiculed. Starting high school is tricky enough but also having to deal with both people you know and strangers hating you without understanding why you did what you did? I can’t even imagine.

This was another quick read for me. Once I started Speak I couldn’t seem to put the book down. As I read further and witnessed Melinda sinking more and more into silence, my heart kept breaking. While this is a dark book, it isn’t bleak: I saw hope on every single page, especially towards the end.

I have to say I loved her art teacher, Mr. Freeman. He knew something was going on with Melinda, and instead of simply writing it off as teen angst like her parents do (don’t even get me started on them) he tries to help her open up about what’s going on through her art.

Okay, this so called soft porn scene. Here’s the thing. I got to the end of the book and had no idea what scene he was yammering on about. I actually had to ask some others who had read the book. Once I realized which scene he was talking about, I got even more pissed off.

I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to not only write a rape scene, but to do it so that it doesn’t seem gratuitous or too violent for the readers. The scene this twit zeroed in on is short, to the point and unbelievably well written. The actual act of the rape isn’t even described in any kind of detail. This guy is a loon and needs to have his head examined. Or lay off the hooch because he is way off base.


WotS – My fangirl moment

30 Sep

I had three very specific reasons for going to Word on the Street last week end: pitch my book, buy some great reads and meet Jo Ann Yhard. Jo Ann wrote The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines, one of my favorite reads this year. If you know me this isn’t new information, since I’ve been gushing about the book for weeks.

Living on PEI, I don’t often get a chance to meet authors I’ve read, so this had me over the top excited. I’ve been chatting with Jo Ann on Twitter and through email and was tickled pink to find out she was looking forward to meeting me, too.

Jo Ann was part of a panel on writing for YA along with Lisa Harrington and Sheree Fitch. Each author read from their book then answered questions. What I thought was cool was that half of the questions came from the authors themselves, so instead of being a simple Q & A it became more of a dialogue. Very neat.

When it came time to meet Jo Ann, I figured I’d pull my usual dork act, stammer and stutter and not make any sense at all. I went up to her, said hi and got a big hug in return. It was awesome.  Then I just concentrated on the fact that besides meeting a favorite author, I was meeting an online friend. We chatted and she introduced me to Lisa. They both signed their books and we chatted some more.

It would have been great to sit down with Jo Ann and Lisa over coffee and chat about writing and books, but of course they were on a tight schedule. But the great thing is I could totally see that happening in the future.

This is where I would normally post the pic of me and Jo Ann with her book, but I took pretty much no pictures except of the Public Garden ducks and a rat. Next time, Jo Ann, we must remember to get a picture!

WotS – it’s all about the friends

29 Sep

I’m on Twitter, well,  ALL the time. Not only is it a great way to procrastinate, but I’ve met some really, really nicce people through Twitter. In fact, Amy from Amy Reads ( who I met on Twitter) was one of the gals that headed over to Word on the Street with me.

Before I went I put out a general tweet asking if anyone else was going to be there. I knew I chatted regularly with some folks in the Halifax area and thought it would be fun to meet face to face.  As a result I got to meet 4 of my favorite tweeps.

I’ve met people in real life from online before (Hell, I married one) and it’s always a bit nerve-wracking because you never know if you’re going to hit it off once you actually meet. When we all met up there was some general nervousness at the beginning, but from there it was just like a group of friends hanging out.

It was a super cool experience. Honestly there wasn’t anything weird about it at all. We laughed, we talked, we ate, we drooled over books. We all parted with hugs and promises to try and visit again.

I’m a major introvert – no really, I am – and I don’t often do the group thing. I usually prefer to hand out with one person at a time, and that’s usually the hubs. But my total WotS experience wouldn’t have been half as fun if I had been by myself or with the hubs.

So I say “Yay!” for online friends. You guys rock in a big way.

Review: Truly, Madly, Deadly by Becca Wilcott

28 Sep

Publisher: ECW Press
Release year: 2010
Genre: Non-fiction
One sentence summary: Vamps, vampires and vampyres, oh my!
Rating:5 out of 5
Review copy from author through publisher

Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion is at once an introductory guide to the first two seasons of HBO’s immensely popular vampire series True Blood, and an all-in-one treasure tomb for the “truest” of fans. Created by Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning writer of American Beauty and creator of HBO’s cult ensemble sensation Six Feet Under, in 2009 True Blood surpassed The Sopranos as the largest ever audience for a cable show at over 12.4 million viewers a week, relaunching the career of Oscar winner Anna Paquin, and introducing international audiences to Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, and Ryan Kwanten, to name only a few of the award-winning cast.

This book offers in-depth biographies of each major cast member, along with pictures and fan quotes; guides to each episode along with a host of fun facts and behind-the-scenes anecdotes; sidebars providing additional cast or character info; full chapters, which tackle some of the greater underlying themes of True Blood such as the paranormal and the politics of race, sexuality, and gender; an overview of literary and cinematic vampires; an in-depth look at how social media has contributed to the success of the show, including interviews with the Twitter True Blood players; tributes to the supporting cast, including an interview with Kristin Bauer (Pam Ravenscroft); and an exclusive interview with, and introduction to, Charlaine Harris, author of the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse novels, on which the series is loosely based.

From ECW Press website.

Since Truly, Madly Deadly is the unofficial companion guide to True Blood, I stupidly thought that it was simply going to be an episode by episode summary and discussion. Holy crap I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This book is so, so much more than that. It’s a discussion about every single frigging aspect of vampires and vampyres (yes, there is a difference. Read the book to find out!) from current popular culture to vamps through the times.

To say Becca was thorough in her research is putting it lightly. I mean, the books has interviews from pretty much every angle of the show and the culture of vampires in general.  Hell, she even has twitter conversations with some of the characters from True Blood. I mean seriously, this book has everything. I loved it.

I also loved the writing style. Straight forward and engaging I felt myself engrossed. Even though the chapters and section delving into the definition of vampires and the history could be deemed educational never once did it feel like I was reading a text book. It felt like I was having a conversation with someone who loves True Blood and all things vampire.

If you’re a fan of the show then, duh, this is a must have. But, if you’re curious about True Blood, or vampires in general, then this is also a must read for you.

WotS – The books

28 Sep

I must admit – I was mucho overwhelmed by all the wonderful books available at Word on the Street. I knew this was going to happen, so I did up a list of books I wanted to buy before hand. Of course, the list pretty much went out the window from the get-go, but I did manage to stick to my book budget. In fact, I was actually under. I know, everyone go ahead and gasp in surprise. The reason was by about 4 pm I got so tired giddy I had no idea which was was up. (Wait, since I was under, that means I have some book money this week!)

So, the books.  Most of the ones I picked up are YA contemp with some MG thrown in for good measure. I also couldn’t resist picking up a few graphic novels by local writers and artists. I’m not a HUGE graphic novel fan, but it’s a genre I want to get into more.  Here’s the books I brought home with me.

Zombie Calling by Faith Erin Hicks
Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan and Faith Erin Hicks
the road to god knows where by Von Allan
Play Me by Laura Ruby
how to ruin your life and other lessons school doesn’t teach you by Carolyn McTighe
The Dread Crew : Pirates of the Backwoods by Kate Inglis
Rattled by Lisa Harrington(signed)
The Nine Lives of Travis Keating by Jill MacLean(signed)
The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy by Jilkl MacLean(signed)
The Canadian Press Stylebook(14th ed)

I also grabbed some preview books from Island graphic artist and writer Brenda Hickey.

So, yeah it was a great book haul day for me. Now to figure out what to read first……..

Forever cover revealed!!!!!!!

27 Sep

OMG the gorgeous awesomeness of this cover!

I had been hoping for a purple cover, but I love the richness of the reds. Now I am even more excited for the third and final installment of Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy to come out, which I didn’t think was remotely possible.

AND ….. drum-roll please…… Forever is available for pre-order through Fountain Bookstore! You can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be pre-ordering to add to my collection of signed Maggie books. After all, what kinds of friendly Canadian stalker would I be if I didn’t?

WotS Pitch the Publisher

27 Sep

Any of you who follow this blog or my Twitter account will know that yesterday I went to Word on the Street in Halifax to pitch a book.  I had never done a pitch before so I was pretty freaking nervous. We left at a ridiculously early hour (5:30) and got there in plenty of times for my nerves to kick in full force. We had about an hour before the pitch started so we decided to grab coffee and head over to the Public Gardens. I grabbed a muffin which was stupid because there was no way in Hell I could eat anything. I had entered that teeth chattering, shivering, panicky nervousness where I was pretty sure I was going to either puke or pass out.

But the world works in mysteriously weird ways and apparently the world realized exactly what I needed at that moment. Ducks.

That’s right, ducks. They were everywhere in the gardens. And there is pretty much nothing that makes me happier or more relaxed than feeding ducks. 20 minutes of illegally feeding the Public Garden ducks and I regained a bit of perspective and wasn’t flat out panicked anymore. I was ready to pitch.

And pitch I did.  I pitched my little dorky heart out. And – they liked it! All three panelists LIKED it.

I was floored. My hope going into the pitch was that one of the three panelists would be like, “Yeah, sounds like you’re on the right track. Keep at it!” But I got so much more than that.

Kristin from Formac Publishing said that it sounded like a great YA book and she saw how she could tie it into what they publish. She loved that it was humourous and edgy. She also loved the tentative title WEIRDO (which I came up with 10 seconds before the pitch.)

Patrick from Nimbus Publishing said it was a marketable idea and that I had obviously research the kind of books the publishers were looking for. He also said it was clear I know the genre and the market and it was the type of YA that they would consider publishing.

Donna from Creative Books Publishing – OMG, Donna wants to read some! I mean, she actually said she’d like to read some of it because it sounded like it fit in perfectly with what they publish. We exchanged business cards after the pitch. I even managed to sound professional and keep the happy giggles to a minimum.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but was never sure if it was really what I was meant to do. During that pitch, listening to the feedback it dawned on me: this writing thing, here? It’s gonna work.

Music Monday: Word on the Street in song

27 Sep

OMG, Word on the Street kicked so much ass yesterday. I will be doing a few rambling, giddy post over the next few days, but I thought this week’s Music Monday would be dedicated to all thing WotS.

I’m a huge music lover and for special events or days I will often have a bit of a musical background running in my head. I don’t pull a Glee and breakout in song or anything, but I will think of tunes that fit how I’m feeling.

So, I pitched a book yesterday. It’s an YA dealing with being weird and trying to accept it. I’ve spent the last week not only polishing my pitch, but also trying to get to the root of why I wanted to write this book. I realized it’s because for most of the time I still feel like the weird, awkward teen that I was. Once that realization hit, this Kim Stockwood song instantly popped in my head.

Four of us gals headed over to WotS and as often happens when you get girls together, there was talk of boys. And of course the talked veered into the Land of Exes. Whenever I think of exes (and one in particular) this songs always plays in my head.

Yeah, yesterday was pretty much the perfect day for me. Books, friends, and cheesecake. I mean what else could I ask for? It was one of those days that makes me truly happy with where I am in my life. I could get all gooshy and cliche, but I’ll let Shaye take it from here.

In My Mailbox

26 Sep

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.

One Bird’s Choice by Iain Reid (House of Anansi Press)
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut & David Henry Sterry (Workman Publishing)
American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque & Stephen King (Random House Canada)

WON (I think)
The Things that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley (Delacorte Press) – This one arrived signed to me. I think I won it? I’m not sure, so if I won it from you, please let me know!

Kiki the infamous KINDLE!!!!!!!

AND ……

My business cards!!!!

Banned Book Week guest post

25 Sep

When Cait over at Escape through the Pages asked me to do a guest post for Banned Book Week I was totally into it. I was going to do a Very Serious Post but then realized that wasn’t really my shtick. So, in typical Colleen form, my post is very much tongue-in-check. Pop over to her blog and give it a read.