Tag Archives: Book Reviews

I’m baaaaaaaaack!

12 Sep

Hey, remember me? The book blogger who runs this blog? I used to post reviews and stuff? Yup, I’m still around. I just took a bit of a break from, well, almost everything but work for a few months. But I’m now getting back at it. So I’ll be posting reviews of books I get from authors, publishers and books I buy myself, starting tomorrow.  And probably some other bookish ramblings.

Happy reading!

Colleen

My best reads of 2011

1 Jan

Okay, so I was hoping to read 100 books in 2011, but I only finished 91 ( I know, I know for some that’s a HUGE number. But for me, not so much). And out of those 91 books there were only a couple I really didn’t like. A handful I was meh about. Most of them I really, really liked. And I few of them found their way into my “I loved it and will keep loving it forever and ever and recommend that everyone reads it” list.

Here’s my top read of 2011, in no particular order. And I’m quite happy to see that the majority of them are by Canadian authors. 🙂

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay –  So beautifully written. I loved Moth and her story and can’t wait to hear more.
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts – This one was CREEPY! Reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s The Stand.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret – This one had my favorite secondary character of the year, Dolores. And it was funny and quirky and I am in love with it.
Falling Backwards by Jann Arden – It’s Jann. In book form. What else can I say?
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr – This one killed me in all the good ways a book should. My fave YA contempt read of the year and possibly forever.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – This book blew me away with its writing, plot and genre- jumping. Just stunning.
Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari – From the opening scene, I was hooked. My favorite dystopian read if the year. (I liked it even better than The Hunger Games.)
The Canterbury Trail by Angie Abdou – I loved the characters in this one. And how they all intermingled, smooshed together by life.
Pluto’s Ghost by Sheree Fitch – The writing in the book blew my mind. Sheree captures free-flowing thought patterns like nobody else. Amazing.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – I don’t even know how to begin to describe my love of this book. By far the weirdest (and possibly most honest) book I read all year.

Okay, those were in no particular order, like I said. But if I was forced to choose my favorite read of 2011? Well, it would be a tie between The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and Ashes, Ashes. Two kick ass books that kept me thinking about them long after I finished reading them.

Most of these books came my way as review copies, so a big thanks and a massive hug to all the publishers who sent them to me.

And that’s the list, folks! Happy New Year and happy reading!

Happy blogoversary to meeeeeeeee (Friday, that is)

24 Aug

Yeppers, guys and dolls. Friday is my 2 year blogoversary as Lavender Lines.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time. For those of you who follow the blog or follow me on Twitter, then you know, book wise, the last couple of months have been rough. I haven’t really been reading a lot and haven’t been loving what I was reading. After a dismal June and July I took August off to decide what I wanted to do. I seriously thought about shutting down the blog and not reviewing anymore. It was the worst reading slump I’ve ever been in.

There were several reasons, I think, that I hated reading. It was hard to admit some of the reasons to myself. But I love all of you guys and feel like we’re friends. So I wanna let you guys know what’s been going on.

First of all,  you may or may not know that I held an online book auction to raise money for Slave Lake Library. It was hugely successful and with over a hundred auction items it raised almost $5,000. But man, running an online auction all by yourself? DRAINING. I’m happy that I did it, but when it ended mid June I was physically and emotionally wiped. I’m still tying up loose ends. Was it worth it? Hell yeah. Would I ever do it again all on my own? Hell to the NO.

About a week into the auction the hubs decided we were going to go forward and open a used bookstore. While he and his best bud John did almost all of the renovations to our building, I gathered, sorted, inventoried and shelved over a thousand books for the store. Then we opened. And I averaged about $10 a day in sales. And I forgot that I pretty much hate talking to strangers and trying to get them to buy something. Also turns out I have a mini panic attack when referring books to people I don’t know. So my dream wasn’t quite the reality. Then we got hit with an infestation of earwigs at the beginning of August. The store has been closed since. Which my brain took as a failure. And since my brain was still exhausted from the auction, well, it wasn’t a happy situation.

The main reason, though was that most times I don’t feel like I’m a very good book blogger. I’m finding it harder and harder each review to really put into words my feelings, besides “I liked it, you should read it.” And, when you read a book that you know you should love and you were just meh about it, it’s hard to review.  There’s also the fact that I am so frigging behind on review books it isn’t even funny. I hate to admit this, but I have books from 2009 that I requested and haven’t read yet. I mean, I ASKED for the books. The publisher took the time AND the money to send them to me, fully believing that I would review them, and hopefully in a timely manner.  But I’ve found that I don’t do well with schedules when it comes to reading. I’m more of a “grab a book that appeals to me” and read it kinda reader. I have every intention of reader my backlog of review books. But when I look at the shelf, I get panicky and anxious. And I feel horrible and like a failure that I haven’t read them yet. Which makes me not want to read them. It’s a horrible cycle to be stuck in.

So, yeah, those are the main reasons I’ve hated anything book related the past couple of months. But this past week  I’ve felt myself coming out of it. I’ve read three books and loved each one. And I’ve decided that I would continue book blogging, but will be taking a bit of a different approach to it, for my own sanity.

  • Unless it’s a book by an author I absolutely adore, I won’t be requesting any review books for the near (and possibly distant) future.
  • I’m going to stop worrying about whether or  not my reviews are good and concentrate on making them me. So they’ll probably be short, a bit full of piss and vinegar and there will be the odd curse word (or five).
  • I will be working on my backlog of review books, but I won’t stress about it. So, dear publishers and authors, continue your wonderful patience. You’ve all been amazing.
  • There will be some mixed content on the blog. Some posts about me, music and my writing.
I’m excited about my third year as Lavender Lines. I’m frigging beyond excited about all the giveaways I have coming up over the next week. Honestly, there’s something for everyone. I even have a couple of international giveaways! So pop back in and enter as many reviews as you want.
Yeah, it’s good to be back. 🙂

Some changes are a’ comin’

1 Jan

You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit MIA in the last little bit. I decided to take a break from blogging because, to be completely honest, I had no desire to do it anymore. I even entertained the idea of quitting and just going back to being a regular, old reader. I guess you could say I was burnt out and disillusioned with the whole book blogging thing.

Instead of just giving it up, I decided that I would make a few changes here on the blog and in real life to help me get my reading and reviewing mojo back.

Review Books
I got desperately behind on my review books, which in turned stressed me out and made me read less, which in turn put me further behind. I got caught in that vicious circle and went from reading 3 to 4 books a week to 3 to 4 books a month. I wasn’t getting pressure from publishers or authors who sent review copies that I requested, but I was still overflowing with guilt that they spent the money to send me the review copies and I hadn’t read them yet. So, this year I’m not going to be requesting or taking on any more review books unless they are REALLY books I want to read. And even then I may just wait until the release date and buy the book myself. This isn’t an easy decision, because I LOVE shiny new books, but it’s one that needed to be made. Once I get caught up on my review books I may change this, but for now, no review books for me.

Reading schedule vs mood
Part of the reason I go so behind on my review books is that reading on a schedule is kinda a new thing to me. And I found that when I had to read a certain book by a certain date it took some of the fun out of reading. It didn’t matter if I was scheduled to read an amazing book by one of my favorite authors, reading started to feel a bit like a chore to me. So this year I’m going to go back to how I used to read before I started blogging: based on my mood. Besides the delinquent review books I have a huge amount of bought books unread and I love the idea of perusing my TBR stacks and grabbing a book that appeals to me. Now, as for the 40 or so reviews I have here waiting to be read (yes, I said 40), I promise all you publishers and authors that I will get around to reviewing them. But I think this way of reading will not only help me read more, but it will help me be able to more fairly review the books that I have. If I force myself to read a book, no matter how great, I’m probably not going to like it.

Book buying freeze
My own unread bought books also stress me out sometimes. I’d say, including ebooks, I have about 500 of my own unread books in the house. I am not proud of this fact. Actually I’m embarrassed. It seems a bit wasteful and borderline hoarding. So my plan for this year is to not buy anymore books unless it’s part of a series I am in love with (Like Women of the Otherworld or Wolves of Mercy Falls) or by one of my favorite authors. No more buying books to buy books. Or because I’m bored. Or stressed.

Ignoring the hype
While Twitter is a great way to discover new books, it has its downfalls, too. Namely allowing me to get sucked in to the latest hype surrounding the newest must-have book. I tend to easily fall into the everyone-is- talking-about-it-so-I must-have-it mentality when it comes to books. And, unfortunately because of this, I’ve read a lot of mediocre books this past year. So my plan is to ignore the hyped-up books. I’ll still be on Twitter, of course, but I’m going to try to train my brain to filter out all the excitement about new releases.

I know some of the above kinda goes against the grain of what a book blogger is supposed to do, but I’ve never been one to fit a mold. Basically I’ll keep reading and reviewing books, but I’m going to go back to doing it my way. I think with these changes in place I’m going to find that I read and review a lot more and my posting is more consistent.

I’m kinda excited about this, guys.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

19 Jul

This fun weekly book meme was created by  J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but  Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books has taken over hosting duties. It’s a great way to not only keep track of what you are reading and have read, but to let others know of any great books coming up.

Read last week:
Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher – Hil.Ar.Ious! Here’s my review.

Currently reading:
The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness – The second in Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. I’m actually enjoying this one much, much more than The Knife of Never Letting Go.

To Read:
Will this be the week that I not only read more than one book, but that I read what I say I’m going to read? Stay tuned to find out!

Promise by Kristie Cooke – I’m part of the blog tour for this one, so yeah, I better read it! Plus, it just looks soooooo good.

Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon –  This volume of poetry has been calling to me for weeks. ‘Bout time I answered it.

The Whisperers by John Connolly – This book isn’t YA or paranormal, which is good. Changing things up never hurt.

BBAW and awkward self-promotion

8 Jul

Last year I was a bit of a lurker when it came to Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW).  I poked around different blogs, entered contests and followed the goings-on through Twitter. This year I decided I wanted to take part, so I hopped on over to their website and registered. Well, it seems that when you register, you have to self-nominate yourself for an award in your chosen category. I baulked at this at first, because I didn’t want to throw my shoulder out patting myself on the back. But then I thought, “You know what? I like my blog. I like working on my blog. So what the heck, I’m gonna do it!”

Since I don’t really have a niche and tend review what appeals to me regardless of the genre, I plopped myself into the Best Eclectic Book Blog category. The next step was to choose 5 blog post that I thought best represented my blog.  I went back through my posts and, low and behold, here are my 5:

Review: Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

Review: Spin by Catherine McKenzie

The Author Effect

Review: The Hands of Forest and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Review: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

There you have it, folks. My 5 top posts, according to moi. I think that they best represent not only me, but the slight evolution my writing and review style has taken over the past year. I don’t think I’ll win, but, hey, who knows? Weirder things have happened.

Getting back on track

13 Jun

The past couple of months have been a wee bit hectic . Hubby is still working away from home 3 weeks out of the month. That alone is starting to wear thin, since he has been doing it for almost a year.

In the last month we have purchased  4 baby chickens who are currently living in an aquarium in our living room until they are big enough to go outside in the chicken coop. I was also raising 5 sparrows and 3 grackles for release. 4 of the sparrows have been released and I have since picked up 2 baby crows that are living in our aviary outside until they can fly and be released. Add this to our own animals and I have been a bit run off my feet. And I have, unfortunately, once again  let this blog slip a bit. It seems that when I have too much going on in my life I stop writing and blogging, which is kind of counter-productive, since sometimes the only “me” time I get is when I’m working on the blog, be it writing a review or reading.

Now that I seem to have had a spike in viewers I want to get things back on track. So I’m setting some goals, but small ones. Consider them baby steps. This way I can get this blog running the way I want it to without adding too much extra responsibility and pressure on myself. I tend to set a thousand unrealistic goals all at once (Multiple posts daily, 5 books read a week, writing 3 hours a day) that are impossible for me to accomplish. So smaller goals are something new for me.

1. Post once a day. This one is the most important, I think. Be it a review, some of my own writing, a link to another blog or ramblings about my life, I’ll be updating the blog daily.

2. 2 books a week read.  This is way more realistic than my 5 books a week. After all I do need to eat and sleep.

3. Some form of my own writing daily. I need to get back into writing. I think once I do, other things will start to be easier to deal with. Instead of starting off with a set amount each day, I’m just going to make sure that I’m writing something, be it a poem, part of one of my WIPs or the outline for a short story.

Once I’ve been accomplishing these goals, then I will slowly add more.