Archive | February, 2012

will grayson, will grayson – John Green & David Levithan

29 Feb

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.

I just, I can’t, I mean, it’s, well, GAH!!!!!!!! I have no frigging idea what to say about this book. Can I just say it’s unbelivably awesome and leave it at that? Because the level of love I have for will grayson, will grayson leaves me pretty much mushy-brained and speechless.

This is one of the most honest, uniquest books I’ve read in a long time.I mean, some pretty out there stuff happens, but it all makes sense in the context of the main story. The character portrayals were so realistic it was awkward at times.

Yes, the story is about two guys named Will Grayson, but it’s Tiny Cooper, a secondary character and best bud to one of the Will’s that steals the show and takes the book from awesome to amazingly awesome. I just loved him. I mean, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to know him or be his friend, but I loved him none the less.

The two Wills meeting, their lives intersecting like that was just, well, neat. Yup, neat. I love when random characters in a book or movie all of a sudden are connected. I mean, really, isn’t that how life goes a lot of the time?

This was a loud, obnoxious, hilarious, awkward book. I’m just filled with so much love for it I’m about to bust.


At First, Lonely – Tanya Davis

27 Feb

Best-known as a musician and a spoken-word performer, poet Tanya Davis has now taken to the page with At First, Lonely. In this collection, she reflects on life’s many passages: falling in love and out, the search for personal truth, the search for home. Davis’s style is one-of-a-kind: a blend of contemporary phrasing with profound personal expression. But her message is universal; over two million people have watched How to Be Alone, a film adaptation of her poem created by independent filmmaker Andrea Dorfman. Tanya Davis’ poetry challenges the intellect and touches deep places in the heart.

I don’t think I can explain how much I love At First, Lonely and Tanya Davis. I don’t throw the word brilliant around lightly, but I have no issues using it here to describe Tanya and her work.

I don’t read a lot of poetry. I think it stems from my university days when I had it shoved down my throat daily. I learned quickly that I’m not a fan of metaphors and such. I want poetry that I can understand and identify with. And At First, Lonely gave me exactly that.

These aren’t just poems. They’re pieces of Tanya: her personality, her life, her being.  It’s impossible to read this volume and not feel like you know her, just a little bit. And that you could sit down, tell her about the shit in your life and know that she’d understand.

I own two of Tanya’s albums, so when I read At First, Lonely, I couldn’t help but read it with her intonations and pauses. For some this might have taken away from the poems, but for me, it added to them.

This was just a gorgeous, honest collection of poems.I feel that if I say anything else I will cross the line from acceptable gushing to insane gushing, so I’ll leave you with Tanya’s spoken word piece, How to be Alone, which is included in the book.

Fever – Lauren DeStefano

22 Feb

The second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy reveals a world as captivating—and as dangerous—as the one Rhine left behind in Wither. Rhine and Gabriel may have escaped the beautiful prison of Wither’s mansion, but they are far from escaping danger. First they’re chased for stealing a getaway boat, and then the fleeing pair ends up in the eerie den of Madame, an old woman who collects girls and sells them to the highest bidders. Worst of all, Vaughn, Rhine’s sinister father-in-law, seems to be on her trail every step of the way. Rhine remains determined to get to her brother in Manhattan—but the road they are on is long and perilous.

Now that Rhine has finally regained her freedom, what lengths will she need to go to in order to keep it?

OMG this book! I think one of my favorite things is when the second book in a trilogy is different than the first book. I found Wither a quiet book. There were moments of tension, but over all it was a calm read. More psychological than action driven. (This is actually a good thing. I LOVED Wither). Fever was a much darker, scarier book.

My heart was literally pounding through the whole book. It’s not that it was cover to cover action. It was more the fact that now that Rhine And Gabriel were out in the real world,there are more variables that they have to deal with. They run into some less than savory people and some pretty dicey situations. There were times I honestly  had no idea how they were going to survive. I felt like I was right there with them, trying to figure things out.

I find that with dystopia books, sometimes the hero or the heroine can appear larger than life. Nothing scares them and they stay on their path, come hell or high water. One of the things I love the most about Rhine is that this isn’t the case. She has moments of doubt, when she’s not only unsure of what she can do, but unsure that she’s making the right choice. This added more intensity to the book and made Rhine a realistic character.

DeStefano’s writing was wonderful and her descriptions of the various places that Rhine and Gabriel end up really drew me in. I also loved that while romance played a part in the book, it wasn’t the main focus.

I am beyond anxious to find out how this trilogy wraps up.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for the surprise review copy!

13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson

20 Feb

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

13 Little Blue Envelopes was just a wonderfully fun book. FUN! I mean, there’s more to it than that, but fun is the first word that comes to mind when I think of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. But under the fun of watching Ginny follow the path of the envelopes there were themes of love, family, accepting and forgiving. And in the end it was all about Ginny find her way and her place in life.

For me, this was like one of those old English tales where the hero or heroine went off on a quest and met up with not only obstacles, but also friendly and interesting characters along the way. The envelopes were in a way like Ginny’s yellow brick road and she had no choice but to follow them.

There were also lessons to be learned, but the reader wasn’t smashed over the head with them. They were there, but they were well placed and interwoven within the story.

I know I’m not being as articulate as I should, but I really liked this book.

The Lunenberg Werewolf book & T-shirt giveaway

17 Feb

My friends over at Nimbus Publishing were nice enough to give me one copy of Steve Vernon’s The Lunenberg Werewolf and Other Stories of the Supernatural AND a Lunenburg Werewolf T-shirt(size large) to give away to you guys. I’m about half way through the book and it’s so good! Creepy and spine-tingling in all the good ways.

As usual, I’m going to make the giveaway pretty easy. No hoops to jump through, no need to follow, retweet, reblog, etc. All you have to do is comment below and tell me of something that creeps you out. The contest is open to Canucks only and will run until 11:59 Est February 24th.

The Eleventh Plague – Jeff Hirsch

13 Feb

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank on the town bully’s family that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.

I loves me some dysoptia. Man, I was reading post-apocalyptic books back when I didn’t even know it was a genre. These days I try to read whatever I can get my grubbies on. Zombies, plague, war…. I’m not picky.

The Eleventh Plague is right up my alley. The devastation has already happened and we’re dealing with several years later. Sometimes I like reading about the actual event, but in this case I think the author starts the story off where it needs to start. We’re filled in on what happened throughout the book, which is awesome.

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it. I found the pacing just a bit off. I think I would have liked to have seen the last third of the book actually be the last half of the book, or even more. Once Stephen and Jenny play their prank, things happen really, really fast. And I know that’s how it would have played out, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that part of the story.

With that being said, I did enjoy The Eleventh Plague. The writing was great and I really felt like I was there with Stephen. And I LOVE when things aren’t quite what they seem. And you get that plenty in this book.

Spin – Catherine McKenzie

8 Feb

Kate’s To-Do List:

Go to rehab
Befriend/spy on “It Girl”
Write killer expose
Land dream job
Piece of cake!

When Kate Sandford lands an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line, it’s the chance of a lifetime. So Kate goes out to celebrate—and shows up still drunk to the interview the next morning. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t get the job, but her performance has convinced the editors that she’d be perfect for an undercover assignment for their gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow “It Girl” Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop—and complete the thirty-day program—they’ll reconsider her for the position at The Line. Kate takes the assignment, but when real friendships start to develop, she has to decide if what she has to gain is worth the price she’ll have to pay.

So, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I’ve already given Spin a glowing review when it was first released in Canada two years ago. But see, yesterday was the US launch of Spin (YAY!) so I wanted to reread it to see if I loved it as much as I did the first time. And you know what? I think I might have loved it even more.

There is nothing more satisfying than rereading a book a couple of years after you first read it and discovering that yes, it’s still just as yummy and awesome as it first was.  Because that’s not always the case.  but it definitely was with Spin.

Kate is so f— up that I couldn’t help but lover her. Because despite her many, MANY shortcomings, she had a good heart and I could see this even as she was basically ruining her life.  She was just so damn believable. There were times I just wanted to hug her, but then on the next page I wanted to reach into the book and give her a good shake. I felt invested in her from page one, which is a testament to McKenzie’s writing.

The people that she meets in rehab, even the minor ones, were just as beautifully written as Kate was. I really felt like I was getting to know them as Kate was. And Amber Sheppard could have easily been written as an over the top character. And while she did over the top things, she herself was grounded in the small things that she did and how she acted in certain situations.

There’s some romance in Spin, folks. Yes, romance. If you know me, you probably think that I’m rolling my eyes. Because I am not a fan of romance in books. But, here’s the thing: when it’s done well and it isn’t the main focus of the book, I kinda love it. And I LOVED the romantic elements in Spin. I won’t ruin anything for you, but there were moments that my heart was beating nervously along with Kate’s.

Chick lit, or women’s fiction, sometimes gets a bad rap for being light and fluffy and not great literature. But, like with any genre, when it’s done right and written as beautifully as Spin, then it’s amazing. And who really gives a fig what the genre is? Damn great literature is damn great literature regardless of the label slapped on it. And Spin? It made me sigh with unbelievable happiness when I finished it. And, like a favorite movie, I immediately wanted to start back at the beginning as soon as I finished it. I loved it THAT much.

Happy US launch of Spin Q & A

7 Feb

Yay!!! Today is the official US launch of Catherine McKenzie‘s Spin, one of my favorite books. I was part of the Canadian launch two years ago and I am so happy to be part of this launch, also. Tomorrow I’ll be re-reviewing Spin, but today I want to welcome Catherine to the blog again for another Q & A.

Lavender Lines: First, let me just say I am beyond excited to be taking part in this blog tour! Okay, now for the hard-hitting questions……..Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Catherine: My next novel is called FORGOTTEN. It’s about a woman who inherits a trip to Africa when her mother dies. She’s supposed to be gone for a month, but gets stuck in a remote village when an earthquake hits the country. When she finally returns after six months, she discovers that everyone thinks that she has been dead, and her life is – obviously – a little chaotic. It’s coming out in May in Canada and August in the US.

Lavender Lines: Spin was released a couple of years ago in Canada to rave reviews (It was one of my fave books of 2010). Is this US release more nerve-wracking or are you an old pro at it now? 🙂

Catherine: Thank you again, for that! Made my week!

It’s funny, I have been thinking about this. In some ways I am an “old pro” in the sense that I’m used to the fact that not everyone is going to love my book and that’s life. On the other hand, the US is such a big market that it is pretty nerve-wracking to be honest. Harper US has put a lot of faith in me in deciding to publish all three of my books in one year and I hope that faith pays off!

Lavender Lines: Coffee or tea?

Catherine: Tea definitely. In fact, I don’t drink coffee! I know, weird right?

Lavender Lines: How much research went into Spin?

Catherine: There was definitely some, but I didn’t attend rehab or anything to do it. Mostly I researched rehab programs to find a structure that would work. I did research into AA to figure out what the steps we always hear about are supposed to mean. I had read some memoirs from people who had been to rehab before I wrote the book. I abstained while writing it, but then read a few more afterwards as a sort of “feel” check. I also discussed certain things about therapy with psychologists I know. Essentially, what I was going for was that it would be realistic enough to be a background for the story, but not the main focus of the story.

Lavender Lines: Where did the idea to write Spin come from?

Catherine: Years ago – and of course this is still going on – there were a lot of celebrities going in and out of rehab. The Paparazzi and regular press were going nuts, and stories were coming out about behaviour in rehab from fellow patients. I believe I was watching some news show – TMZ probably – and it was a scene of just all these journalists with their lenses trained on a rehab facility trying to get a shot. I remember being a little disgusted that it was going on & asking myself sarcastically “I wonder why they don’t just follow a celebrity into rehab?” My next thought was: What a great idea for a book! And so it goes 🙂

Lavender Lines: Thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions Catherine. Always appreciated.

Catherine: Thank you, Colleen! You’ve been such a super supporter over the years, and I really appreciate you having me back for my US launch.

Fade to Blue – Sean Beaudoin

6 Feb

Sophie Blue started wearing a black skirt and Midnight Noir lipstick on her last birthday. It was also the day her father disappeared. Or spontaneously combusted. Which is sort of bad timing, since a Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. His sneakers cost more than his Jeep. He’s the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don’t have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they’re losing their minds.

Losing my mind is exactly how I felt as I read Fade to Blue. Quite honestly for most of the book I didn’t have a frigging clue what was going on. I almost didn’t review it because I had no idea how to talk about a book I’m pretty sure you need to be on heavy meds to understand. But here’s the thing: despite the fact I have no idea what the Hell this book is about I LOVED IT.

I’m weird. This isn’t a huge secret. Or even a secret at all. And I tend to like weird things. Fade to Blue was weird. Hence my love for it.

Beside the fact that this is an YA book, I’m not even sure what genre it is. Paranormal? Mystery? Romance? No. Clue. But whatever it is, it was a seriously enjoyable read. I actually liked not really understanding what was going on. Because that’s how Beaudoin wrote the damn thing. Never once did I feel like I was stupid, or that the author was trying to make me feel stupid. What I did feel was happily confused. It was almost to the point that whenever I stepped outside the house, I kept expecting to see an ice cream truck.

I just really, really enjoyed Fade to Blue. What can I say? I like the weird.

The Devouring – Simon Holt

3 Feb

When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.

Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?

Ah, sometimes you just need to read a scary, creepy book to get your juices flowing and your heart beating, you know, clean out of your chest. And for me, that’s what The Devouring was.

Here’s a little story: see, I wasn’t always the reader that I am today. I was what you could call a late bloomer. In my early teens I’d read a book or two a month, but that was it. Until I discovered Stephen King. Then I couldn’t read enough. And horror was the only way I would go. For years it was all I would read. Not so much anymore, so when I dug into The Devouring it took me back to those days of furiously reading and scaring the crap out of myself.

This was gross, creepy and several times I was pretty damn happy I wasn’t eating. Now, for you hard core horror fans, you might not find it all that scary. But for someone delving back into the genre after a long hiatus, it was just scary enough.  And I seemed to have discovered a love of legends that come to life, which is kinda cool.

The Devouring read like a scary movie, which is high, high praise in my books. I’ll definitely be devouring the rest of the series. (Yeah, I couldn’t help myself.)