Archive | June, 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

28 Jun

Publisher:Random House Canada
Released: June 14th, 2011
Genre: adult fiction
Review copy from publisher.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends,Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

From Random House Canada website

Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a weird review. Why? Because I can’t really talk about ANYTHING in this book without giving plot points away. And I won’t do that to you guys. So I’m going to try to talk about the book without actually talking about the book, kk? Should make for interesting times.

I LOVED the first four books in this series. So much that I read them all in three days. I loved Tibby, Lena, Carmen and Bee like they were my own friends. I loved getting to be a part of their lives and watching them grow up.  They’re the type of characters that I was dying to read more about, so I was super excited (read:screaming and jumping up and down) when I head that Brashares was coming out with another sisterhood book filling us in on their lives 10 years later.

I liked this book. And I didn’t like this book.  I know, I know, really helpful, right? I loved catching up with the girls again, but Brashares does some things that I just didn’t like. But I can’t tell you. Cuz then I’d ruin the book for you. Because of this love/hate relationship I had with the book, it was a bit of a difficult read, even though I devoured it in an afternoon. I kept flipping back between being in awe of where Brashares was taking the girls and being pissed off with where she was taking the girls.

I also felt that the ending was a bit over-the-top, melodramatic and tied together too neatly. All things I normally HATE. But for some reason it worked in Sisterhood Everlasting. I liked where things ended up (for the most part). And I wanted to read more. I want to know what happens in a year. Five years. Ten years. I think, no  matter how many sisterhood books there are, I will always want to know more.

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And the winner is……..

28 Jun

Thanks to Random. org AND Scholastic Canada, Colleen Easter won the copy of Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari!!

Congrats, Colleen!

Switch by Tish Cohen

24 Jun

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: May 9th, 2011
Genre: YA contemp
Review copy from publisher for blog tour

Good girl, honour-roll lifer, Berkeley-bound, mildly neurotic, high strung twelfth grader Andrea Birch just wants a bit of privacy. Oh, and perhaps a bit more of a social life. Or just a life in general. But when your mom and dad are foster parents who can’t turn away a child, trying to carve out a little space for yourself while tending to the needs of everyone from twin toddlers to angst-ridden adolescents is nearly impossible. And then Joules Adams, daughter of internationally famous rock star Nigel Adams, jumps into Andrea’s car, setting off an improbable car chase and ending in detention.

For Andrea, it’s the last straw. Why is it that Joules, breaker of all rules, living a life of luxury, gets off so easy? Why does she have everything, including a cool famous dad, and Andrea has nothing, not even her parents’ full attention?

In a modern, hip take on the classic Freaky Friday story, Tish Cohen delivers a fresh look at wishing your life was someone else’s.

From HarperCollins Canada website

So I’ve read a couple of Tish’s adult books and loved them, so it wasn’t a HUGE leap to think that’d I’d love her YA offerings, too. And I did. While Switch did have a message to it (the grass is always greener on the other side kinda deal) it was also a light, fun and intelligent read, something I’ve come to expect from Tish.

Who doesn’t, ever once in a while, wish that they had someone else’s life? You know, a celebrity, favorite author, popular girl or guy that you know. Someone who just seems to have a better, easier, cooler life than yours.  When I was in junior school it was Debbie Gibson. (and did I ever just age myself). In high school I thought that the popular girls had it soooo easy. I had that weird combination of hate and admiration for them. Just like Andrea had for Joules. And that’s why I think that pretty much anyone who reads Switch will be able to identify with Andrea.  That whole “I hate you but I wanna be you” thing that I think most teens (and let’s face it, most adults) deal with from time to time.

The only thing that didn’t ring 100% true to me was that Andrea does SO MUCH complaining about her life and all the responsibility she has that I thought when she switched with Joules she’d go hog wild crazy, even if just for a bit. But she doesn’t. She worries about her foster brothers and sisters and even worries about Joules. While she does learn an important lesson (her life doesn’t suck near as much as she thought) it would have been fun to see her cut loose for a while.

The book wraps up kinda neat and tidy, but it totally fit with the rest of the story so it didn’t seem forced or like an after school special or anything. There was also a nice, little twist at the end that made me go “Awwwww”, but not in a bad way.

Switch made me smile. A lot. And you know what? That’s NEVER a bad thing. 🙂

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari & giveaway

17 Jun

Publisher: Scholastic Canada
Released: June 1st, 2011
Genre: YA dystopia
Review copy from publisher


Smallpox epidemics, floods, droughts — for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park, hunting and foraging for food. But when she is rescued from a vicious pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she cannot continue on her own. She joins Aidan’s band of survivors, yet a new danger awaits her: The Sweepers are looking for her, and they’ve laid a trap. There’s something special about Lucy, and the Sweepers will stop at nothing to have her in their clutches.

From Scholastic Canada website.

Holy snappin’ TURTLES! This book starts off with a shot of adrenaline and doesn’t stop until the last word. Seriously. There’s no preamble or anything. Jo starts us off right in the middle of the action and I DUG IT. Majorly. This is the best kind of dystopia in my opinion and Ashes, Ashes was very reminiscent of The Hunger Games and The Forest of Hands and Teeth in action, pacing and OMG factor.

Okay, Lucy was one kick-ass heroine. And I loved the back and forth snarkiness between her and Aidan when they first met and through most of the book. The dynamic between the two of them was pitch perfect.

Maybe I’m sadistic or something, but I LOVE when in dystopian literature and movies the main characters overcomes adversity and find themselves gathered with others, apparently “saved” and then BAM! more badness comes along, usually from somewhere unexpected. Lucy is on her own then meets up with Aidan and other survivors. Things should be grand. Strength in numbers, right? Yeah, so, so not the case. Cuz there’s these Sweeper dudes tracking Lucy and they want her bad.

This book was ooey, gooey fun and I whipped through it so fast that I had to force myself to slow down at times. It has EVERYTHING I love about dystopian novels: a wicked cool heroine, plague, natural disasters, plots within plots and twisted villains.

Honestly, folks, I can’t recommend it enough.

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Okay, if you are in Canada, then this giveaway is for you! I have one copy of Ashes, Ashes to give away. You don’t have to follow the blog or tweet or video tape yourself fighting the elements or anything. You just have to answer one little question: What would you rather face – plague or natural disaster? You can also throw in why if you want. Contest will end June 24th and I’ll be randomly choosing a winner.

The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider Blog tour

16 Jun

Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Released: June 7th, 2011
Genre: Chick-lit
Review copy for the blog tour

Four talented women, one glossy wedding magazine: life should be as perfect as a bridal catwalk… right?

Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn’t easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York’s glamorous magazine industry – making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.

Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine’s major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine’s helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her too well…

As the ripples of Lucky’s promotion spread, the intricate lives of four women begin to unfold. Felice, Your Wedding’s elegant and unshakeable Art Director is now being shaken for the first time by troubles at home. Sara, the Fashion Director, is famed for her eagle eye for fashion trends and exquisite hair. But, for all her know-how, “the Angel of Bridal” has never come close to starring in a wedding herself – she’s picked the dress, but where’s the groom? Grace, recovering in the wake of her sudden, humiliating fall from power, must learn to accept herself – and love – after a life dedicated to fulfilling other women’s dreams. And, through it all, Lucky begins to discover just how lonely the top really is.

From St. Martin`s Press website.

So, as you may have noticed, I don’t review a lot of chick-lit on the blog. Unlike some folks who think they are “above” the genre, I just don’t have a lot that cross my path. And I’m not big on romance. So I guess what I’m saying is while it’s normally not my cup of tea, sometimes it is (Clear as mud, yes?). The point is when I review a book that is considered chick-lit assume that it’s a bit different from the norm. Kinda like the reviewer. 🙂

The Wedding Writer wasn’t what I was expecting AT ALL. While I had been expecting a pretty light-hearted-us-girls-gotta-stick-together sorta read what I got was perhaps one of the most realistic look at women’s friendship that I’ve seen in a while.

This was not a touchy feely we’re the best of friends story, no. This was a book about four women who on the inside were much, much different that what they were showing on the outside. Everyone thought that the other had it all together while their individual realities were much closer than they thought. I wanted to get them all together, open a couple of bottle of wine and GET THEM TALKING. Sure, they talked to each other in the book, but it was always through an “I’m strong and everything’s fine” brave face. It was heartbreaking and the cause of so much strife between the women. It was also unbelievably realistic. I mean, we all do it, don’t we? Think that everyone else has their shit together but us? Well, I do anyway, which is why I think this book struck a cord with me.

I loved the fact that Schneider didn’t make one of the women more sympathetic than the others. They all had their good and their bad moments. It was also interesting to get a peak into the bridal magazine industry. For all its apparent glamour and sparkle, it’s really a dog eat dog world.

If you like your chick-lit realistic the The Wedding Writing should be just the thing for you.

Author’s website: http://www.susanschneiderauthor.com/

Plague & Pestilence Blog Tour

15 Jun

I am all kinds of tickled to be part of the Plague & Pestilence Blog Tour. No, this isn’t a a tour where you have to guess the disease by looking at a really gross picture. It’s a celebration of all things Ashes, Ashes, Jo Treggiari’s AMAZING post-apocolyptic, post-plague, post- pretty-much-your-worst-nightmare YA book.

For my blubbering review of Ashes, Ashes (I HEART this book so much!) and the chance to win a copy (Canadians only) pop back on Friday. But for now get comfortable in your home with heat and food and no super bugs ANYWHERE and enjoy my Q&A with Jo.

Lavender Lines: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions, Jo! What made you decide to write a post-apocalyptic YA dystopia?

Jo: It was really just the idea that came to me. I wanted to write an adventure story with a teen girl heroine, and I knew I wanted her to be pro-active and challenged, so basically I had to come up with a scenario that would be fraught with difficulties. A survivalist, apocalyptic setting just worked really well with that. It’s also enticing to a writer to re-imagine the future and what the world would look like. Combined with my concerns about our dwindling resources, disease and the terrifying storms, earthquakes and climactic aberrations which have devastated so many countries, a post-apocalypse, post global pandemic world seemed all too probable.

LL: How much research went into writing Ashes, Ashes?

Jo: I tend to read a variety of non-fiction sometimes directly linked to an idea I might have, sometimes just because I’m interested in the subject. For Ashes, Ashes I read a lot of different books and scientific articles on global warming, some articles on epidemic disease, histories of plague, survivalist manuals, wilderness foraging books. I also studied maps ofNew York City and various locations. It doesn’t feel like work though ‘cause it’s fun. All that information swirls around in my head and I’m never sure exactly how it’s going to come out. It is important to me though, that however fictional I make my world, it still rings true. It must be plausible.

LL: Were there particular songs or artists that you listened to when writing Ashes, Ashes?

Jo:  I listened to a lot of punk and a lot of atmospheric artists. That would include Arcade Fire, American Steel, Jets to Brazil, Bjork, Neko Case, and Gogol Bordello to name a few.

LL: What’s next on your writing agenda?

Jo: I’m finishing up a 2nd draft of an urban fantasy, coming-of-age tale with great white sharks. And I also have a punk rock road-trip-without-a-car book set in 1983California about two teen girls searching for beauty in an ugly world. And of course, I have a fleshed-out plot for another book based in the Ashes, Ashes world.

LL: What are some of your favorite dystopian books?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1984 by George Orwell

The Hunger Games  by Suzanne Collins

The Postman by David Brin

LL: Let’s say that Nova Scotia is hit with a plague that takes away everyone’s sense of humour and only a small portion of the population (including yourself) is immune. Would you move, not being able to handle a humourless Nova Scotia? Or would you stay and try to make the province funny again?

Jo: Hmm, you know, this province already does not carry orange cheddar cheezits (the ultimate snack food) and if there was also no humour it might tip the scales in favour of me moving back toNew York. However, we will not speak of cheezits.

Of course I would stay and battle the forces of humourlessness with a lethal combination of the Trailer Park Boys and my 4 year old daughter who is hilarious and guaranteed to crack the stoniest facade. She’s sort of like the Bart Simpson of girls. Her puppy impression with toilet paper tail is priceless.

LL: Thanks so much for stopping by Jo!

Jo: You’re very welcome!

If you want to stalk Jo online (not that I online stalk authors that I adore or anything, nope, not me) then here are some places you can find her:

www.jotreggiari.com

Jo Treggiari on Facebook

Jo Treggiari on Twitter


Pluto’s Ghost by Sheree Fitch

1 Jun

Publisher: Random House Canada
Released: September 28, 2010
Genre: YA contemp
I heard Sheree read a snippet at Word on the Street and I was hooked.

“Murderer. It’s one kick in the belly of a word isn’t it? Has a taste, too. It tastes like barbed wire and has wild hyena eyes. Murderer. Murder-her. Did he? Did I? That’s when I remember what I want to forget.”

Jake Upshore has loved Skye Derucci since before he can remember. Volatile, complex and frustrated (he’s got a label disorder from all the labels he’s been given) at the best of times, Jake’s on a desperate quest to find Skye before she aborts the baby he believes is his. As he hurtles headlong toward certain tragedy, Jake relives the fatal choices he’s made and the powerful forces that have led him to this to end. A gripping thriller and a heart-wrenching love story,Pluto’s Ghost is a raw and powerful novel about anger, escape, and redemptive love.

From Random House Canada website.

I’m not even sure I can write a review for Pluto’s Ghost. If I had a million dollars my review would simply be to buy each and every one of you your own copy.

The writing. Oh my God, the writing! I know I throw around the words brilliant, amazing and awesome a lot on the blog, probably to the point that they’ve lost their impact, but all of these words come to mind when I think of the writing in Pluto’s Ghost. It was so wonderful and awe-inspiring that it hurt. I mean I read passages and then had to stop to catch my breath.

Jake is one of the most unique voices that I’ve read in a long time. He’s not necessarily an overly likable or cuddly character, but I couldn’t help but feel for him and what he was going through. He’s damaged and he knows it.

The story of Jake’s journey to find Skye wasn’t a straight trip from point A to point B and we learn so much about him from his little mini-adventures. And where he finally ends up and the climax to the his story took me completely by surprise.

Pluto’s Ghost is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Haunting and honest, I think it’s going to stick with me for a while.