Archive | September, 2012

America Pacifica – Anna North

27 Sep

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Released: June 12th, 2012
Genre: Dystopia
Review copy from publisher

Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica–one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in “Manhattanville” mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of “Hell City” and “Little Los Angeles,” places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy.

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home–the only one she’s ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It’s only when her mother doesn’t come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former “Mainlander,” and her mother’s role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica’s early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island’s first inhabitants–including her mother.

From  publisher’s website

I LOVE dysopic stories that start right in the middle of things. We don’t get to see what happened to make things they way there are. We don’t get long explanations of what’s what. And that’s how America Pacifica starts. We’re immediately thrown into Darcy world. No preamble, no explanation. Just – splat! – there it is. It really gave the story a sense of immediacy in the beginning that continued throughout the book.

I love how the world that Darcy lives in, the poverty that she experiences day after day is the back drop for the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. There’s more than meets the eye with both the island AND Darcy’s mother and North weaves the two together wonderfully. Nothing ever feels force or fake. Every word, every phrase is believable.

I loved Darcy and the way that North wrote her. She isn’t a super hero. She isn’t a super whiny teen. She’s an average girl who has to do above average things to get what she wants. And what she wants is to know what happened to her mother.

This isn’t a happy little story with a nice, happy little ending. Bad shit goes down. But not in a sensational way. Nothing is done for shock factor although there are some shocking things in America Pacifica.

This is a very nitty gritty dystopia, but it didn’t leave me feeling depressed. I think this is a testament to the talent of the writer. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from North.


In Leah’s Wake – Terri Giuliano Long

20 Sep

Publisher: Laughing Moon Publishing
Released: Feb 28th, 2010
Genre: Adult fiction
Review copy from author

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious. Their youngest, Justine, more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years, just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly together kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong.

As Leah’s parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes her sister’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family—leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.

Can this family survive in Leah’s wake? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

From the author’s website.

This book was one emotional roller coaster of a ride. This family is so fragmented and broken that at times it was awkward to read about. But the good kind of awkward, you know? The kind that most of us can identify with.

I really appreciated the fact that this was a true family drama. The author lets us see things from all perspectives and while there’s a lot of blame from different family members, it’s easy to see that the problems, the issues involve everybody. There really isn’t one person to blame.

With that being said, Leah is at the centre of most of the drama and problems with the family. But I didn’t feel that Leah was written in such a way that I was always thinking “Sheesh, teens!” There were often times that I felt a lot of empathy for Leah, even when she was wandering down a bad path and when she was being, well, obnoxious.  She was a well-rounded character, as were all the characters.

In Leah’s Wake surprised me. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but what I got was a well-told story of relationships and families. I think anyone who enjoys a book where things get messy and the characters aren’t perfect will enjoy it. I did.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen

18 Sep

Publisher: Tundra Books
Released: Sept 11th, 2012
Genre: YA contemp
Review copy from publisher

Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

In spite of Henry’s desire to “fly under the radar,” he eventually befriends a number of oddball characters, both at school and in his modest apartment building. And even though they know nothing about his past – at least, not yet – they help him navigate the waters of life after “IT.”

From Susin Nielsen’s website.

It’s no secret that I absolutely fell in love with Susin Nielsen’s writing in Word Nerd and that love just grew with Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. Despite the fact that The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is darker and deals with a more serious subject matter than the first two books, I absolutely, positively LOVED IT. I devoured it in one sitting and when I was finished, I just felt like a better person for having read it.

OMG this book broke my heart. Just smashed it to little pieces. But it also made my heart swell with love at places. I wanted to jump through the pages and give Henry a big hug and buy him an ice cream. He was such a sweet, awkward, lovable character that I just wanted to do something to make his pain stop. Nielsen wrote him in such a caring yet straightforward manner that he never felt pathetic or whiny to me. He just seemed like a kid who was going through some serious crap and trying to handle it the best way that he could.

I’m not going to say a whole lot about “IT” except that her telling of what happened, the way she presented it, was just amazing. It’s hard to take a situation like that and write about it in a way that doesn’t come across as sensational or crude. But through Henry, Nielsen explains what happened in a way that was both heartbreaking and understated. Perfection.

As always, there’s a slew of wonderfully weird secondary characters in The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. I loved them all so much that it would be impossible to pick my favorite.  And even thought they were secondary, they each had a huge part in helping Henry to deal with what happened.

I loved this book so much that I could probably go on and on and on about all the wonderful things that sucked me in and made me sad when I got to the last page. But about all, I loved Henry’s voice. Nielsen wrote him so honestly that it hurt my soul at times, to witness how he was feeling and what he was going through.

Henry’s is a tough story to read and I can only imagine how hard it was to write it. But it’s one that really needs to be heard. And honestly, I couldn’t have pictured anyone but Nielsen telling it.

Yes, I’m still here…..

17 Sep

It’s been a month since I’ve posted a review. A MONTH. I’ve been so busy with Fierce Ink Press that I honestly barely had the time to read, let alone think out the words to a review. So I let the blog slide. In fact, my plan had been to get caught up on the reviews that I owed and shut Lavender Lines down. For good.

Then I hop on Twitter (something else I rarely do these days) and see that two of my favourite authors, Cathy Buchanan and Susin Nielsen, have mentioned me in a tweet related to CBC Books.

Seems last week book blogger appreciate week and CBC Books did a blog post a couple of days back, title Book blogs we appreciate: the 2012 Edition. And there I am.

I am surprised. I am honoured. I am motivated to get back on track with the blog.

I love how when you’re struggling with something, with whether or not you want to continue, the universe sometimes throws you a hint. Sends something your way that helps with that decision.

So Lavender Lines is sticking around. There will be some changes, but this blog will be staying.