Archive | February, 2011

HCC March Madness!!!!!!!!

28 Feb

I love HarperCollins Canada’s March Madness. It’s one of the literary fun things that I look forward to every year. Yes, I’m that much of a book dork. I love seeing which books are being pitted against each other and I get all tingly when I vote for my favorites. Well, this year my bookish sense are in tingle overdrive because I’m part of the book blogger draft. What does that mean? Well, my fine reading friends, it means that I will be defending 4 of the 64 books battling it out. So over the next few weeks expect some posts about my chosen 4, why I love them so much (and I really, honestly love them ALL) and why you should hop on over to the March Madness site and give them some love. For now how’s about I just introduce you to my books? Round one voting goes all week, so feel free to take a day or two to get to know them. Or, if you 100% trust my amazing book prowess, head on over and vote for them now. 🙂

Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen: This is a recent read for me and from page one I fell in love with Olivia. It’s the perfect blend of quirky characters and serious subject matter that makes for a perfect read.

The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro: These are definitely not your teenagers’ vampires. I loved that the vamps in this book are basically mindless, driven killers. Not a sparkly brooder in the bunch.

Spin by Catherine McKenzie: One of the funniest, smartest chick-lit writers out there right now. This book made me laugh, cry, shake my head and smile my ass off. Loved. It.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan: If you know me you know how brilliant I think this book is and how much I love it. It is the perfect example of historical fiction and even though it’s been about a year and a half since I read it I still get goosebumps over that ending.

So there you have it. My four books and why I loved each of them. So please pop by the March Madness site and vote for them, k?

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

25 Feb

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books – Random House Canada
Released: April 11, 2006
Genre: YA dystopia
Part of a book blogger’s Christmas swap.

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

From Random House Canada website.

I love YA dystopia, be it post-apocalyptic, post-war, a zombie invasion or perceived utopia. I know there are all kinds of technical terms for the sub-genres of dystopia, but I really don’t give a fig about them.  I just know that even if there’s a hit of dystopia, I’m usually hooked.

I really, really enjoyed How I Live Now. For the most part. Without giving anything away, there was one aspect of the story that kinda made my skin crawl. I coulnd’t get past it and it stopped me from absolutely, positively falling head over heels in love with this book.

*SPOILER*

Okay, here’s the relationship that made me feel a bit icky: Daisy falls madly in love – and lust – with one of her cousins. First cousins. Her relationship with Edmond was just something that I couldn’t get past. I dunno, maybe the point of it was to make the reader uncomfortable. But it just wigged me out and I couldn’t get behind it AT ALL.

*END OF SPOILER*

One of the things I did, however, love about How I Live Now is that there is absolutely no historical reference point. Sometimes it felt like it took part around the time of WWII, but the author would throw in a modern reference that had me wondering. I think that the story takes place “now” or “some time in the near future”, but it’s hard to tell. This only added to the feel of the book. I loved that even though this was obviously taking place in contemporary times, things were done just different enough then they are in our world that the reader is lead to believe that it might be a different time.

There are also touches of things magical in this book, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if they had either been left out or explored a bit deeper. Each of her cousins seems to have some sort of sixth sense, but I just felt that it didn’t gel really well with the rest of the book.

I really enjoyed the writing and Daisy’s voice. She was sarcastic most of the time, but also sensitive. She was thrust into this situation that only gets worse and instead of simply giving up, she fought back while taking care of her cousins the best that she can.

Mini review: Ruined by Paula Morris

24 Feb

Publisher: Scholastic Canada
Released: August 1st, 2010
Genre: YA paranormal, mystery
Part of my Halloween book bloggers swap from the wonderful Amanda over at The Zen Leaf.

When Rebecca goes to New Orleans to stay with her voodoo-obsessed aunt, she finds the beautiful old city haunted by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Rebecca is also startled to discover a haunting of a different kind; near a graveyard one night, she meets a ghost girl by the name of Lisette, who has been dead 150 years. A former slave, Lisette helps Rebecca unearth an ancient mystery along with some troubling history truths. Meanwhile, Rebecca must deal with her snooty new prep school, a serious crush, and an elite group of popular girls who may be linked to the mystery themselves.

From Scholastic Canada website.

 

I don’t read enough ghost stories. Plain and simple. Which is weird, because I loves me a good ghost story. And Ruined? Yeah, it was a good ghost story.

It was a quick read. A quick, juicy, mysterious read filled with characters you aren’t sure about, an unsolved murder, deceit, lies and a cute boy. Really, what else could you ask for?  I found the writing to be engaging, and the voodoo angle had me hooked from the beginning.

I’m not really sure what else I can say. The book had a very Gothic feel, without being to heavy and dreary and despite the fact that it’s a ghost story, I’d almost describe Ruined as a light read.

Review: The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden

22 Feb

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: Jan 25, 2011
Genre: Canadian literature, post-apocalyptic dystopia
For review from Penguin Canada.

John Morgan and his wife can barely contain their excitement upon arriving as new teachers in a Yupik Inuit village on the windswept Alaskan tundra. Lured north in search of adventure, the idealistic couple hope to immerse themselves in the ancient Arctic culture. Their move proves disastrous when a deadly epidemic strikes and the isolated community descends into total chaos. When outside help fails to arrive, John’s only hope lies in escaping the snowcovered tundra and the hunger of the other survivors. His thousand-mile trek across the Alaskan wilderness grows more improbable when he encounters a blind Inuit girl and an elderly woman. The two need his protection from those who would harm them, and he needs their knowledge of the terrain and their companionship to survive. The harsh journey and constant danger push him beyond his limits as he discovers a new sense of hope and the possibility of loving again.

From Penguin Canada website.

 

Blown. Away. I swear those are the first two words that come to mind when I think of The Raven’s Gift. Other words that pop into my brain are beautiful, stunning, stark, desperate and hopeful. But this is not a happy story, no.  It’s heart-wrenching pretty much from beginning to end. Rearden does an amazing job of putting the reader right into the thick of things. I mean, I felt like I was there, going through everything John was going through.

The Raven’s Gift is not told in a linear manner, but rather during three timelines: when John and his wife first take teaching jobs up North, when the epidemic first starts and the present as John tries to survive. Now normally this would have driven me insane. But Rearden does such an amazing job of making sure that the reader always knows what timeline they are in that it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it added to the suspense of the story and the telling of John’s tale.

I normally HATE comparing books to one another, but The Raven’s Gift, in many ways, reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Both book have the same feel and tone to them, although I have to say that I enjoyed The Raven’s Gift more.

If, like me, you love a good post-apocalyptic tale, then I can’t see how you wouldn’t like this book. If you aren’t familiar with the genre, or are just looking for a wonderfully written, engrossing tale, then The Raven’s Gift is a great choice on both fronts.

Mini review: Heartless by Sara Shepard

18 Feb

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: May 31st, 2010
Genre: YA mystery
Bought.

Four gorgeous girls are telling very ugly stories.

First Emily, Aria, Hanna, and Spencer claimed they found a dead body in the woods behind Spencer’s house, only to have it vanish without a trace. Then, when the same woods went up in flames, they swore they saw someone who’s supposed to be dead rise from the ashes. And even after all that, the pretty little liars are still playing with fire. Call me heartless, but it’s about time someone shut these liars up for good. After all, nobody likes a girl who cries wolf—least of all me. . . .

From HarperCollins Canada website.

I have a soft spot for the Pretty Little Liars series. It was one of the first book series that I read when I started reading YA and blogging. I loved the snarkiness, the mystery and the relationships in the books.  But, I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy Heartless, the seventh book in the series, as much as the other books. At all.

While the story was okay, I had some MAJOR issues with the writing. I found that there was a lot of repetition of phrases and over explanation of something. I mean, on page 271 of a 275 page book, I don’t need to be told that Andrew is Spencer’s boyfriend. That’s been well, well established through-out the book. For me, little blunders like this add up and take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. And by the time I was finished Heartless? Yeah, I was glad there was only one more book left in the series so I can just find out who A is and who really killed Allison. ( I know, because of the popularity of the TV show, Shepard is writing four more books after the eighth. But I probably won’t be reading them.)

Music Monday: My version of romantic music

14 Feb

I’m not a fan of big, epic romantic songs. At all. I much prefer gritty, realistic love songs with just a touch of desperation thrown into to the mix. (After all, Blue Rodeo’s Lost Together was my wedding song.)

One of my favorite love songs is I Will Give You Everything by The Skydiggers. The singer is basically saying, “Hey, if you come back I’ll give ya whatever you want but take off again and I’m out.”

It’s romantic, but in a realistic way. And I think it’s one of the prettiest songs I’ve ever heard. I’ve been known to play it over and over and over and over again.

MAX-imum Exposure interview and giveaway!

11 Feb

Welcome to the MAX-imum Exposure Tour for the 13 to Life Series!

Each site throughout the tour will have swag and an individualized interview with either Pietr, Max or both! Shannon has also included an audio download for each interview so you can hear the Rusakova boys!

And make sure you join us live at 11 am EST on 2/12 for a Blog Talk Radio event with host Barry Eva, Pietr, Max and Shannon! Go here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond

Can’t make the live BTR event? Join us instead on 2/17 at 9pm EST for an exclusive chatroom chat with the boys over at the Mundie Moms (http://MundieMoms.blogspot.com).

I’m soo freaking happy to be today’s stop! The chance to ask hunky Max a couple of  burning questions? Oh, I was so there! Below is a transcript of my short but very, very sweet interview with Max. Wanna hear the sexy Russian for yourself? No worries, since I also have the audio version!

Colleen:
Hi Max! First off, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and have a little chat with me.

Max:
Happy to be hanging out with you, Colleen.

Colleen:
So, I’m going to start with the question that I’m sure is on all of my readers’ minds: boxers or briefs? LOL I’m just joking, no need to pretend to be embarrassed.

Max:
Hold on, Colleen. I am all about giving the girls what they want… Boxers or briefs? As an oborot I need to be a master of the quick change. So–commando.

Colleen:
Wow. Well, thank you for your honesty. With Christmas barely over and Valentine’s Day around the corner, I was actually wondering which holiday you prefer?

Max:
Christmas is great but I have an even bigger appreciation for Valentine’s Day. I have…a lot of love to share and there are a lot of girls that are more than happy to share some love with me. Valentine’s Day is a day to remember I’m a lover, not a fighter. I am a fighter, too, but I would rather spend my time–loving.

The giveaway!

Okay guys, Shannon was super nice and sent some cool swag my way to give to you guys. Up for grabs? An autographed mini Secrets and Shadows poster and an autographed 13 to Life postcard. I debated keeping these for myself, but I couldn’t do that to you guys. 😛

As always, if you want to enter to win one of these, you just have to answer a teeny, tiny question: if you could interview one YA lit guy, who would it be? Comment below before the 25nd to enter. Winner gets their choice and then I’ll draw another name for the remaining swag. Oh and it’s international. 🙂

Some info about Shannon:

Shannon Delany is the winner of the first-ever cell phone novel contest in the western world and the author of the 13 to Life series through St. Martin’s Press. 13 to Life is already available and Secrets and Shadows hits stores 2/15/11 with Bargains and Betrayals landing on shelves 8/16/11 (already available for pre-order!)and two more as of yet unnamed novels coming out in 2012.

For more about Shannon, visit her author website: http://www.ShannonDelany.com or her series website: http://www.13toLifeseries.com You can also find Shannon on Facebook and on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/Shannon_Delany

Want a fun freebie you can print out and use with a web-cam to make a bookmark much more than a bookmark? Go here and check out the Augmented Reality bookmark: http://ht.ly/3KgG7