Archive | October, 2010

Review: Storked by Wendy Delsol

29 Oct

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Released: October, 2010
Genre: YA supernatural
Review copy from publisher.

Sixteen-year-old Katla has just moved from Los Angeles to the sticks of Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, she learns to her horror that she’s a member of an ancient order of women who decide to whom certain babies will be born. Add to that Wade, the arrogant football star whom Katla regrettably fooled around with, and Jack, a gorgeous farm boy who initially seems to hate her. Soon Katla is having freaky dreams about a crying infant and learns that, as children, she and Jack shared a near-fatal, possibly mystical experience. Can Katla survive this major life makeover and find a dress for the homecoming dance? Drawing from Norse mythology and inspired by THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen, debut author Wendy Delsol conceives an irreverent, highly entertaining novel about embracing change and the (baby) bumps along the way.

Oh baby! A hip heroine discovers that she has the ability to decide who gets pregnant in this witty YA blend of romance and the supernatural from a debut author.

From Candlewick Press website.

 

 

I think from now on when I’m trying to decide the awesomeness of a humorous book, I’m going to gage it in snortability.  And Stork had snortability coming out its wazoo. This book was laugh out loud funny. And I’m not just saying that. I was reading Stork while waiting for a presentation to start. I ended up snorting OUT LOUD in a room full of soccer moms. Seriously. Then it happened again a few pages later. Finally I put the book away and just stared at my water glass.

Katla was funny and sarcastic, if a bit obsessed with fashion. But after all she is from LA. I also found some of her fashion choices pretty hilarious, but I think that’s because of my major ass-backwardness when it comes to clothes. I am strictly a Tshirt and jeans kinda gal.

I’m not familiar with Norse mythology at all, but the mythos surrounding Katla and the secret society was very cool. The other women in the society were freaking hilarious old bitties and their relationships with each other added a neat dimension to the story.

Wade’s a douche and Jack’s a sweetie and both have some things going on in the background that the reader isn’t sure of. Neither is Katla for that matter.  It’s not the typical love triangle (thank the gods!) and I really enjoyed trying to figure out what the deal was with both of them.

Like I’ve said, this was one hilarious book. Except for a few of the chapters. I found the dream chapters uber-serious and kinda out of sync with the overall tone of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, they were just as well written and important stuff happens in them. I guess because the rest of the book was funny after funny, that I just found the seriousness of the dreams a bit jarring.

But I still loved this book. Lots. And I was so thankful to hear that there’s a sequel in the works because these are definitely characters I want to see more of.

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Canada Reads Top 40

28 Oct

Hey, did you guys hear that? Don’t worry it was just me squeeing my little reading head off because the Canada Reads Top 40 was announced and – THE DAY THE FALLS STOOD STILL MADE THE LIST!!!!!! Not that I’m really overly surprised, but man I am so freaking happy! The only thing that could make me happier is if it made the top 10.

So I need your help again folks. Please go to the Canada Reads website and vote for The Day the Falls Stood Still. If you’ve read it then you know what a wonderful, amazing, special book it is. If you haven’t read it yet you’ll just have to trust me. In the sea of literature, this book stands out.

I’d promise the hubs famous chocolate chip cookies to everyone who voted, but that’d kinda get expensive. So instead you’ll get air hugs and kisses sent your way.

My Spooky Swap package o’goodies came!!!!!!!!

27 Oct

Yay! My Spooky Swap package arrived!!! For the last few days I have anxiously been scoping out the mailbox DYING for my Spooky Swap package to come. I love Halloween and I love surprises so you can well imagine my anticipation level.

So, it final came today! And how surprised was I to see that it was from Amanda over at The Zen Leaf ? Amanda and I are Twitter buddies and quite often chat about books, writing and life in general.

I have to say I giggled with joy when I saw what Amanda sent me. All things I would have picked up for myself.

The little book of Scaredy Cats is so cute! God knows with my crew I could probably write my own. 😛

The skull and crossbones bookmark is wicked cool. And little did Amanda know, but last week I picked up a couple of skull and crossbones  ornaments for what I think is going to be a new collection.

Godiva milk chocolate with almonds. Need I say more?

Ruined by Paula Morris. I’ve been eying this one since it came out. It just looks so wonderfully creeptastic.

Thanks bunches to Travis and Jessica for hosting this awesome swap.

Now to resist the urge to have chocolate for breakfast.

Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

26 Oct

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: October,2010
Genre: YA  fantasy, urban fantasy
One sentence summary: Disney gone bad, but in a good, good way
Review copy from publisher.

Henry Whelp is a big bad wolf—or will be,someday. The only son of the infamous Red Riding Hood Killer, Henry is worried that he may be following in his father’s violent footsteps. He tries to distance himself from his past, and avoids the other teens at St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth, a detention centre in Dust City—a rundown, gritty metropolis known for its production of fairydust. But when Henry’s psychiatrist turns up dead, Henry finds himself on a trail of clues that may lead to proof of his father’s innocence—and the horrifying secret behind fairydust.

From Penguin Canada website.

 

Holy shit Dust City is all kinds of twisted. And I liked it! I mean, first of all, this book is gritty and dirty and violent and oh-so much FUN! I read a lot of urban fantasy and I love when I stumble across one that really knocks my socks off, you know?  This one was very different from the usual YA urban fantasy that I read.

I’m not going to go into the plot or the characters, which sounds kinda funny for a review, but there are so many surprises and wonderful “a-ha!” moments throughout  Dust City that I don’t want to ruin it for you guys. Part of the appeal and fun of the book was figuring out who characters where, what they were up to.

I loved the writing style of this book and I think that it fit in perfectly with the gritty story-line. I haven’t read a lot of old fashioned  murder mysteries, but that’s kinda what the writing reminded me of.  You know, the whole “a dame walks into my office” kinda deal. And I guess that’s another reason why this was such a  cool, unique book: it had both an urban and an old school feel to it.

So, yeah, I have all kinds of love for this book. Really. I think anyone who enjoys fantasy, urban fantasy, murder mysteries or just a well told tale will dig Dust City.

 

Review: Rough Magic by Caryl Cude Mullin

25 Oct

Publisher: Second Story Press
Released: September, 2009
Genre: YA fantasy
One sentence summary: Mystical magic with some Shakespeare thrown in.
Review copy from publisher.

Out in the midst of the ocean, rising out of the rough seas, lies a mysterious island.

It has seen visitors over the years, and has learned to fear them. Humans have done nothing but take, stealing the island’s magic and enslaving its spirits.

Caliban, born to a great sorceress who was marooned on the island’s shores, grew up half-wild with its creatures. Having escaped the island to live amongst kingdoms and courtiers for many years, he now finds himself returning with his young charge Chiara, a girl who has a power within her that no one suspected. Once back on the island they are joined by Calypso, a magical young woman with ties to them all.

Inspired by The Tempest, Shakespeare’s famous play of love, loyalty, and magic, it is the island and its power that draws them all back. But this time the dragon who lives at the bottom of the sea has been awakened and must be satisfied. It will be up to the humans to strike a balance between their power and the natural world.

From Second Story Press website.

 

Here’s the thing: I don’t read a lot of straight fantasy (or really ANY straight fantasy) but Rough Magic sounded interesting and I’m all for supporting local writers, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. And I really enjoyed it – for the most part.

I was surprised by how quickly I was sucked into Rough Magic. Usually when I try to read fantasy my eyes glaze over and I have a hard time keeping all of the characters straight. But this was an engaging book and straight off I was interested in the story. I am, after all, a sucker for the dark arts.

While the blurb on the back of the book makes it seem like the whole book is about Caliban and what happens when he’s back on the Island, this is really just a small part of the story. The book actually starts off with him Mom as a child and a good chunk of the book is about her life, the choices and sacrifices she made, and I really, really dug it. A lot. I thought, “Wow, this is a super book!”. Then I hit around page 171 and, unfortunately, things went a bit downhill from there.

Now, this is based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a play I have neither read nor seen, so my misgivings about the latter part of the book may be because of that. But once they return to the Island, things got really wonky and weird for me. There’s a Leviathan and people turning into dragons  but not really and just a lot of stuff I didn’t understand.

Like I said, I don’t generally read fantasy, and  maybe if I did I would have liked the last chapters of Rough Magic a lot more. But for me they were far fetched and I didn’t enjoy them nearly as much as the first parts of the book.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that since it’s a genre unfamiliar to me based on a play that’s unfamiliar to me, you should take this review with a grain of salt. If you’re a fan of fantasy, then you’ll probably enjoy this book. For me, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if Caliban hadn’t returned to the Island, because up until that part Rough Magic was a super read.

Review: Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen

19 Oct

Publisher: Tundra Books
Released: August, 2010
Genre: MG/YA contemp
One sentence summary: Quirky characters + a quest for George Clooney = one hilarious, lovable book.
Review copy from publisher.

Violet’s TV-director dad has traded a job in Vancouver for one in Los Angeles, their run-down house for a sleek ranch-style home complete with a pool, and, worst of all, Violet’s mother for a trophy wife, a blonde actress named Jennica. Violet’s younger sister reacts by bed-wetting, and her mother ping-pongs from one loser to another, searching for love. As for Violet, she gets angry in ways that are by turns infuriating, shocking, and hilarious.

When her mother takes up with the unfortunately named Dudley Wiener, Violet and her friend Phoebe decide that they need to take control. If Violet’s mom can’t pick a decent man herself, they will help her snag George Clooney.

From Tundra Books website.

 

Let me just pause for a moment and worship the awesomeness that is Susin Nielsen. Seriously. I love her writing so much I’m thinking of setting up a shrine.  I’ll call it The Queen of the Quirky Character and it will include a scrabble board, stocking hat, and season 1 DVD of ER. Each day before I sit down to start writing, I’ll pray to The Queen of the Quirky Character to guide me and let me create characters half as interesting as hers.

So, yeah, I kinda fell in love with this book. I mean, the title alone would make anyone wanna give it a read. In a sea of one and two worded titles, it sticks out like a sore thumb. A glorious, wonderful, inspired sore thumb.  And the innards of the book match the awesomeness of the title, for sure.

Violet isn’t always a nice kid and that’s cool. I mean, in the opening scene she does something so horrible, so gross, so funny that I was shaking my head in awe of Nielsen. It takes a lot of guts to start a book off the way she did. I won’t say anything else, but trust me, it’s horrifically cringe-worthy stuff.

In fact, the whole book is filled with cringe-worthy stuff, and that’s what I love so much about Nielsen’s writing. This isn’t a book filled with gorgeous, perfect characters who always say and do gorgeous, perfect things. Oh, no. Violet, her family and their friends are awkward, imperfect and so realistic. She’s a kid who acts like a kid. Kinda refreshing, no?

I also love that we see the characters from Nielsen’s Word Nerd, too, although it took my slow brain until almost the end of the book to realize this. I think it’s awesome that her books are kinda, sorta companion books, but not really.

Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom made me happy. It put a smile on my face and made me sigh blissfully. And the George Clooney parts made me snort, for real. Funny stuff. Hell, the whole book was filled with funny stuff, another reason why I love it so freaking much.

Music Monday: Mike and the Mechanics

18 Oct

I know that this song is most likely about Russia, the cold war and the threat of nuclear world war (it was written in the 80s after all) but when I heard Mike and the Mechanics Silent Running yesterday for the first time in years, the song screamed “dystopia” to me.