Archive | May, 2011

Slave Lake book auction #1

30 May

As I mentioned last week, I’m running an online book auction to raise funds for Slave Lake Library. So over the next little while I’ll be posting links to the auction items.

The first item up for bid is a signed copy of Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Day the Falls Stood Still (one of my all time fave books). Here’s a link to the auction:

Pleas help spread the word around. The more people who know about this, the more money we can raise.


Blog tour and giveaway: Whole Foods to Thrive by Brendan Brazier

30 May

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: May 10th, 2011
Genre: non-fiction, health, food
From publisher for blog tour.

What impact do food choices have on your health? Have you ever been curious as to where your food came from, who grew it, and the path it took to get to your table? Have you every wondered how much of each natural resource was used to produce your food—in other words, the soil-to-table environmental cost? In Whole Foods to Thrive, Brendan Brazier clearly explains how nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are the best choice, not only for your health but also for the health and sustainability of the planet.

Versatile and packed with flavor, whole foods have an abundance of health benefits for those who want sustainable energy, high-quality sleep, physical strength, and mental sharpness. Whole Foods to Thrive builds upon Brendan’s stress-busting, energy-boosting approach to nutrition and food introduced in his acclaimed bestseller The Thrive Diet, and includes 200 delicious, easy-to-make, plant based recipes that are all allergen-free and contain no wheat, yeast, gluten, soy, dairy, or corn.

• Breakfast Cereals • Salads • Dressings, Dips, and Sauces • Soups and Sides • Burgers, Wraps, Pizza, and Rice Bowls• Cookies, Ice Cream, and Pies • Kale Chips and Nori Crisps• Energy Bars and Gels

Features recipes for dishes such as • Gorilla Food Green Tacos • Quinoa Falafels • Indian-Spiced Lentil Hemp Burgers • Maple Crispy Rice Treats.

From Penguin Canada website.

This book seriously gave me some food for thought (no pun intended. Well maybe just a little). Brazier talks about food in relation to stress and this is definitely something I’ve never really thought about.  I mean, I know that eating healthy is important but he explains how there’s eating healthy and then there’s eating healthy.  I’m not going to go into it here in the review because I would most likely screw up the science, but he presents a solid case for eating whole foods and explains that there’s a huge difference between filling up and being full. And the way he explained everything, although very scientific, also made a lot of sense and I found myself going  “Uh huh, yup” a few times.

This isn’t just a book where Brazier explains the concept of whole foods: about half of the book is recipes using the recommended whole foods.  There are a lot of great recipes in this book, folks. So it’s kinda like getting two books for the price of one.

Here’s just one of the recipes from the book. You’ll notice it has chocolate in it. 🙂

Chocolate Almond Smoothie with Sacha Inchi Milk
Rich in protein and omega-3, this smoothie will keep you going for hours with
sustainable, non-stimulating energy.
Time: 5 minutes • Makes about 3 ½ cups (2 large servings)
1 banana
2 fresh or presoaked dried dates
1 cup water
1 cup Sacha Inchi Milk (or chocolate variation) (see p. 126)
¼ cup almonds (or 2 tbsp raw almond butter)
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
1 tbsp roasted carob powder
• In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Giveaway time!!!!

I have, for one lucky Canadian, a wonderful prize pack containing six Vega smoothie mixes (either Shake & Go Smoothie mixes or Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer mixes) in an assortment of flavours like Vanilla Chai, Bodacious Berry, and Choc-a-Lot. Yummy!

Entering is easy (as always). Just leave me a comment. Say hello. Tell me what the weather’s like in your neck of the woods. Talk about your favorite summer food. It really doesn’t matter what you want to chat about. 🙂 Contest ends June 5th at 11:59 Est and is open to Canada only.

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

27 May

Publisher: SLG Publishing
Released: Nov 27th, 2007
Genre: Graphic Novel
Bought at Word on the Street because I loved the title and cover image.

Joss’s life sucks. She’s worried about exams and student loan debt when she’d much rather be watching the zombie movies she loves. So it’s no surprise that when she tells her roommates that she’s been attacked by a swarm of real-life, brain-hungering zombies-zombies!- they think the stress has finally cracked her.

But Joss knows she’s sane- and it’s a good thing, too! Because the zombies are real, and the she’s the only one who knows how to fight them. Armed with “The Rules,” truths about fighting the undead gleaned from zombie movies, Joss, Sonnet and Robyn just might make it out of their dorm alive.

From SLG Publishing website.

Holy shit this was FUNNY. And not just “ha ha how cute” funny. I mean “snorting and tears streaming down my face” funny.

I’m just getting into graphic novels and I seriously think I need to read more like Zombie Calling. It’s a short little graphic novel, but my God it packs a wicked punch. Joss was a pretty cool character, as were her friends Sonnet and Robyn. And I loved that she was depending on her vast knowledge of zombie movies to keep them alive.

I also really, really dug that this takes place at a Canadian university. The whole idea of a zombie outbreak on campus was hilarious. After all, I pretty much felt like a zombie during most of my university days. 🙂

Slave Lake Book Auction

25 May

So, last evening I decided to put together an online book auction to help raise funds for Slave Lake, which was basically wiped out at the beginning of the week when it was hit with a wild fire.  In typical Colleen fashion I jumped right in, despite the fact that I’ve never done something like this before.

The first thing I did was set up a very simple blog.  I also started asking for donations and I have some AMAZING things lined up.

If you could spread the news, spread the blog and come back Monday when the auctions go live and bid, that would be great.

Let’s raise a load of money for these poor people, shall we?

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

23 May

PublisherLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Group)
June 1st, 2009
YA contemp
Bought after some douche tried to get it banned in the US.

“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

From Hachette website.

So a while back some religious fanatic freak douchebag was trying to get Twenty Boy Summer banned. I think the reason was because Anna and her best friend were planning to hook up with 20 different guys. Or maybe it was the very PG13 sex scene. But most likely it was the aforementioned douchebaggery. Because I read this book, fell in love with this book and so couldn’t see the issue.

To say Twenty Boy Summer wasn’t at all what I was expecting would be putting it mildly. For some reason I thought this was going to be funny, light and a bit fluffy. So, let me warn you now: it is none of these things. I basically cried my way through the book, having to stop a few times to get myself together. Ockler attacks the issue of loss and how different people deal with it in different ways so honestly that at times the book was painful to read. What Anna and Frankie go through, both together and apart, is nothing short of heart wrenching.

Like most books that unknowing and small-minded twits try to get band, this is an important read for teens, especially if they’ve lost someone in their lives. And it’s one of the most touching and honest books I’ve ever read. So much so that I’m actually getting a bit emotional as I write this review and I’m having a hard time getting my feelings about Twenty Boy Summer down.

I guess it boils down to this: Twenty Boy Summer moved me. It wasn’t overwrought with a lot of hand-wringing and such, but the book is filled with so much emotion that it’s basically spilling from the pages. Ockler wrote a beautiful and important YA novel. And anyone who thinks that there is anything wrong or dirty about this book seriously needs some help.

The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods by Kate Inglis

20 May

Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Released: Oct 30th, 2009
Genre: MG
Bought at Word on the Street because of  its awesome title.

The pirates of the Dread Crew, ruthless junk hunters, are on the rampage through the Maritime woods. On their trail is a boy pirate tracker Eric Stewart, who gathers mounting evidence of their hooliganism until one day their clue-laden path of destruction completely disappears. Little does Eric know that the rumbling, stinking pirates are much, much closer than he thinks. This paperback edition includes eight pages of new content including a pirate glossary and praise pages. Check out for lots more additional content! This book is recommended for antsy boys who long for glory, for spritely girls inclined to reach out for adventure, and for good-humored grown-ups who like the smack of Limburger and devils’s club sandwiches with a dash of junebug pepper. The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods contains things disgusting, rude, repulsive and crush-like in nature. It also includes the most gigantic party ever seen, a rampaging woodship, random explosions, a prison, an escape, inventions, blackberry sploosh and many, many secrets as well as unexplained stinks.

From Nimbus Publishing website

The hubs and I have no plans to ever have children. But once I started reading The Dread Crew, I wanted to pop out a kid and have it speed grow to about 8 or so that we could read this book together. It was that good. For me, it’s everything a kids book should be: imaginative, informative, fun and at times gross. Very gross.

This was such a cool book. I mean, it has PIRATES. Disgusting, gross, icky pirates that Inglis still managed to make lovable. And as with the best characters, there’s more than meets the eye with this crew.

I honestly had no idea where Inglis was going with the story, and I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it’s pretty amazing. And, more importantly, believable. There were twist and turns and unexpected adventures but the story lands where it should and the ending was fun and satisfying.

The Dread Crew is such a fun book that I think all kids will like it. And most adults, too.

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau

19 May

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: Dec 1st, 2010
Genre: YA, tweens, paranormal
Purchased for Coco my Kobo.

Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning…

If she hadn’t been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?

Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.

Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?

Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?

This summer is about to get a lot more interesting…

From Sourcebook website

OMG, OMG,  O.M.G!!!!!!  Cute, cute, CUTE! Loved, loved LOVED!!!!!!!! Buy it, buy it, BUY IT!!!!!!!!!

And that’s basically my review. Okay, I guess I should do some specific gushing of why this book was so wonderful and why you all must buy it right away so you can love it as much as I do.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been Jade’s age, but some of the things she embarrassingly goes through made me cringe in an holy-crap-that’s-so-embarrassing way. Boudreau nails those moments and I dare anyone to read them and not be able to identify with Jade.

This was a gigglicious book. There were laugh out loud moments and I found myself chuckling through most of. I really enjoy my paranormal with a side dish of funny and that’s exactly what Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings was. It was the perfect balance of serious and light.

Despite the fact that this was a humorous book, there was a lot of meat to it and I LOVED the whole mermaid angle. There’s mythos and mystery throughout and the plot had me hooked until the end. Actually, it had me hooked well past the end because as soon as I finished it I started hounding Helene about how much I needed more of Jade. And thankfully there is a sequel in the works. 🙂

Alice, I Think by Susan Juby

18 May

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: June 5th, 2003
Genre: YA contempt
Bought at a second hand store with much sqeeing.

After her first counselor has a meltdown, Alice MacLeod and her new counselor decide that Alice’s horizons should be expanded. Enter Alice’s Life Goals List. It’s time to grow up, act her age, maybe even go back to high school after years of being taught at home. Alice is on the hunt for a look, a social life, a job, a boyfriend, and, most importantly, a half-decent haircut. But getting those things in Smithers, B.C., isn’t easy. Particularly if Irma of Irma’s Salon is in charge of the new look.

Sporting a new haircut that is reminiscent of a large construction helmet, Alice is attacked by marauding headbangers as she sits in the family station wagon in the parking lot of the Smithers Grocery Giant. Her mother comes to the rescue and the situation ends up in a brawl. An aging hippie chick who makes her children wear lead aprons in front of the computer, Alice’s mom is just one of the novel’s wonderful and wacky characters.

Alice, I Think is about that all-important good haircut, the one that has the potential to change your life. It is also about becoming who you want to be, on your own terms.

From HarperCollins Canada website

Okay, this book kicked ass. And I kicked mine for taking so long to read it. When another one of my favorite Canadian authors, Susin Nielsen, mentioned I should read it, well, I did. And I loved it.

I love that Alice is, well, a bit odd (okay A LOT odd) but doesn’t seem to notice. She marches to the beat of a very different drums and she’s okay with that.  She keeps trying to fit in, but just keeps missing the mark. From her new haircut to her amazing new style, she tries to make an impression and she does: it’s just not the right one.

I felt sorry for Alice, but at times I was also a bit envious of her. I mean, sure she was an outcast even among outcasts and the harder she tried the worst things became, but at the same time she didn’t seem to care a whole Hell of a lot. And she stayed true to herself as she tried again and again to tackle her list of life goals and turn things around.

This was a funny book, but I never once felt that I was laughing AT Alice. It was more that I was laughing at the situations she got herself into because the former teen in me could identify with her and sympathize with her.

I was very excited to discover that there are more Alice books. They are definitely on the top of my “must buy” list. Alice is a character that I want to spend some more time with, for sure.

*NOTE: While looking for another book I discovered I actually OWN a copy of Miss Smithers, the next Alice book. Color me excited!*

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

16 May

Publisher: Random House Canada
Released: April 5th, 2011
Genre: fiction
For review from publisher.

Miriam Toews’ new novel brings us back to the beloved voice of her award-winning, #1 bestseller A Complicated Kindness, and to a Mennonite community in the Mexican desert. Original and brilliant, she is a master of storytelling at the height of her powers, who manages with trademark wry wit and a fierce tenderness to be at once heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny.

Irma Voth entangles love, longing and dark family secrets. The stifling, reclusive Mennonite life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth – newly married and newly deserted and as unforgettable a character as Nomi Nickel in A Complicated Kindness – is irrevocably changed when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the community. She embraces the absurdity, creative passion and warmth of their world but her intractable and domineering father is determined to keep her from it at all costs. The confrontation between them sets her on an irrevocable path towards something that feels like freedom as she and her young sister, Aggie, wise beyond her teenage years, flee to the city, upheld only by their love for each other and their smart wit, even as they begin to understand the tragedy that has their family in its grip.

Irma Voth delves into the complicated factors that set us on the road to self-discovery and how we can sometimes find the strength to endure the really hard things that happen. And as Gustavo, a taxi driver, says, you go on, you live and you laugh and you are compassionate toward others. It also asks that most difficult of questions: How do we forgive? And most importantly, how do we forgive ourselves?

From Random House Canada website.

There are just some authors that blow you away every freaking time. I mean EVERY time. They change things up from novel to novel and when you open their latest offering you never quite know what to expect, except that it’s going to be brilliant. For me, Miriam Toews falls into this group. I have been left speechless by everything she’s written, and Irma Voth was no different.

I don’t even feel qualified to talk about her writing, really. I feel that anything I say won’t capture how fluid and simple and complicated and poetic it is. She can evoke so much emotion with one sentence that it’s ridiculous. Seriously.

While I loved the whole book, I was riveted once Irma and Aggie flee to the city. There’s one scene, just as they’re leaving, that left me gasping for air it was so beautiful and painful and honest. Toews weaves a story not just about finding yourself, but also about helping others find themselves.

At first Irma might strike readers as a fairly simple character, but as the book goes on and you spend more time with Irma, you find out that there’s more than meets the eye. In fact, most of the characters, one way or another, blossom throughout the book and become multi-dimensional. It’s kinda like it works when you meet people in real like: the longer you know them, the more you see the different layers that make them up.

Irma Voth, both the book and the character, are going to stick with me for a while I think. As do most of Toews characters.

Q & A with author Jo Ann Yhard

13 May

I love when I read a book that I know I’ll like but then end up loving. What I love even better is when I get to meet the author and she’s well, she’s just lovely. Such was the case with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines and author Jo Ann Yhard.  Jo Ann has a new YA, Lost on Brier Island, coming out on Monday and it’s one of my top “OMG I HAVE to read it” books of the spring. So I was very happy and honoured to get the chance to pick at  Jo Ann’s brain and ask her some questions.

Lavender Lines: Hiya Jo Ann! Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. You always hear from musicians that the hardest album to write and record is the sophomore offering. Do you think it’s the same for writers?

Jo Ann Yhard: I think it could be, for the second in a series. While Lost on Brier Island is my second published book, it’s very different from my first one, The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. It has a few similarities – heavy on dialogue and action, but it’s not a mystery and there are different characters. I actually found Lost easier to write. I was learning a lot with Fossil Hunter, since it was my first novel attempt, and it went through many changes. Not that you ever stop learning, but everything flowed much better from the beginning in Lost.

LL: What was it in particular that made you want to write Lost on Brier Island?

JY: The main character, Alex, was one that stayed with me from an earlier unpublished project. She wouldn’t go away. So I finally had to listen to what she had to say. The setting came later. I love the ocean, and I fell in love with Brier Island when James and I went there whale watching. It’s a magical place.

LL: Do you have certain music or artists that get you in the writing mood?

JY: I think it’s more my mood in general, rather than a writing mood specifically. I love listening to Norah Jones and Tracy Chapman some days, and other times I could be cranking up The Doors.

LL: Which do you find more challenging: getting out that first draft or editing?

JY: Hands down, the editing. It feels more like work to me. The first draft is an adventure! I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I am on the discovering journey along with my characters.

LL: Your writer’s beverage of choice: tea or coffee?

JY: I was always a coffee drinker, but was never much of a coffee lover – it was a habit. I’ve switched to teas now, the decaffeinated kind. I can’t believe I’m saying that out loud – on paper. I used to be exactly like one of the characters in Lost on Brier Island, crusty old fisherman Gus, who likes his tea “leaded, none of that herb crap!” All time favourite? Chai latte at Starbucks!

LL: What’s next on your writing agenda?

JY: I’m about halfway through the first draft of Buried Secrets at Louisbourg, another book with The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines characters. It’s from Fred’s point of view this time, and takes place during a grand encampment at The Fortress of Louisbourg. It’s another Atlantic Canada setting. That seems to be a bit of a trademark for me so far. I love showcasing all the amazing places we have here. I was at the Fortress many times, and was excited at having the characters camp there over a weekend. The readers get to explore the Fortress along with them. And yes, it’s a mystery, of course!

Thanks so much Jo Ann! Always great chatting with you.