Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (80)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Necromancing the Stone
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?

I loved Lish's first book so much, so I'm desperately waiting for this one. I might have to do a re-read of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer before so I remember what happened. :) I love how Lish is able to mix humour with horror. Sure, things aren't always going well with Sam, but it shows he's got guts and spine to crack jokes in the face of death.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Me on Shadows Cast By Stars

Title: Shadows Cast By Stars
Author: Catherine Knutsson
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Atheneum (S&S imprint)

Two hundred years from now, blood is the most valuable commodity, but only if you're of Aboriginal heritage. If you do, your blood will be harvested for the Plague antibodies the rest of the world needs to survive. Cassandra might be immune because of what's in her blood, but that doesn't mean she wants her blood taken from her. When a search threatens her family, they go off to the Island, an idyllic and mysterious place protected by the Band, a pack of guerrilla fighters, and an energy barrier that keeps enemies out and the spirit world in. But even though the village healer is teaching her, and even though the village leader's son is falling for her, that doesn't mean she's safe in her new home. The creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they've chosen Cass as their instrument.

Shadows Cast By Stars is an enchanting debut, a tale that captivates and ensnares the reader's soul. My heart was in my throat right at the beginning and didn't fall until I turned the last page. Cassandra's world, already dangerous, becomes lethal, and all she can do is run, run straight into the heart of something that wants to make her theirs. This book awakens ancient tales and myths, customs seldom-used and more often than not forgotten. In this book, the past lives on in the future, and it might be the only way to survive.

The prose is so visual. As I read, I could picture the wide lake and the house nearby, the large trees that cover paths so it feels like you're inside and not outside, the totems that Cass sees. It has a very rustic and ancient feel, living off the land, the scent of cedar strong in your nose the second you wake up. There seem to be two types of novels that take place in the future: those where the world is overrun with technology, and those without. This is the latter, and it's written wonderfully.

What enchanted me most about this book is the other side, the world made of of Spirit, of Raven and Sisiutl and Thunderbird, the ancient sensations brought on by a book set two hundred years in the future. The spirit world, the things that Cass can see, make this book unbelievably compelling. The Aboriginal mythology, the legends and tales of spirits and animal gods that were present, made this book for me. The sense of being surrounded by something greater than us, something more than we are, something we can't see but is always watching over us is powerful.

Also Cass, I can't leave her out as one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so. She's so lost, so confused, but so strong in the face of the unknown and pain. She's a girl with some spine and courage of her convictions who's ended up in a primarily male-driven society where said males in charge hope to keep her under their control so the order of things isn't disturbed. Knowing that, we all know that something will happen, that her going to the Island will change everything, that she might lose everything if she doesn't fight back with all of her being.

Not many books I've come across focus on Aboriginal people and their beliefs, but I have to say it's something I'd like to see more of. There's something about legends and stories passed down for generations, about spirit guides and animal totems, about trickster gods that unknowingly fascinate me. I didn't know that I'd be so captivated by this book when I first started reading it.

(I borrowed an advance copy from another book blogger.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Me on Available YA Books

I'm running out of room for books, and so, in an effort to gain some space, I've compiled a list of YA (and semi-YA) titles that are available for a swap or trade, or even just me giving to you. At the moment, I don't have any shipping limitations, but that might change if I end up spending a lot on postage and so on. I also don't necessarily have a wishlist if you've also got books you want to get rid of, but you're welcome to check my to read list on Goodreads. Or the list of books titled "will punch a lion in the face." It's rather self-explanatory. :)

I don't know how long this list will stay up, but I don't want to force you to pick one if you don't want to. All books are in new or like new condition (I'm neurotic about keeping books nice), but they might be a little dusty. And it'll say next to the title if it's a paperback, hardcover, or an ARC. Feel free to @ me on Twitter or comment here.

And I'm covering the shipping costs. Because of that, people from Canada or the US will be given priority. But I'm not against shipping international, I'm just saying it might take a little for me to send it.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (hardcover)
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs (hardcover)
You Wish by Mandy Hubbard (paperback)
Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne (paperback)
Full Moon by Rachel Hawthorne (paperback)
Dark of the Moon by Rachel Hawthorne (paperback)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (hardcover)
Wake by Amanda Hocking (ARC, August 2012)
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney (ARC, March 2011)
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (paperback)
My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent (paperback)
My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent (paperback)
Paper Towns by John Green (paperback)
Heist Society by Ally Carter (hardcover)
Fateful by Claudia Gray (paperback)
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (hardcover)
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (hardcover)
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (paperback)
Abandon by Meg Cabot (ARC, April 2011)
Eve by Anna Carey (ARC, October 2011)
Carrier of the Mark (ARC, October 2011)
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda (ARC, May 2012)
Partials by Dan Wells (ARC, February 2012)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (ARC, September 2011)
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (ARC, October 2010)
Fated by Alyson Noel (ARC, May 2012)
Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo (ARC, June 2012)
Soulbound by Heather Brewer (ARC, June 2012)
Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan (ARC, July 2012)

Books/ARCs I'm looking for: (if you have them and are willing to make the trade, no pressure)
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Origin by Jessica Khoury (Sept 2012)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Sept 2012)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (Sept 2012)
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (Dec 2012)
You're also free to send me a list of what books you have available in your trade pile.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Me on This Week's Book(less) Haul (4)

Hello, again. It's been another week of fairly nice weather. Which is nice, it's better than last year. Last summer was so cool and sometimes rainy. So far, it's been warmer this time around. *knock on wood*

No books this week. *sad face* Well, it's for the best, you know. I really need to put a dent in my review stack. And I did, sort of, after reading Shadow and Bone and Shadows Cast By Stars during the week. Look for reviews of these books Tuesday and Friday. :) (Reviews are auto-posted around 6am my time/9am East Coast time, if you're curious.)

I was going to read Timepiece after The Golden Lily, but the e-galley expired and Egmont archived the title on NetGalley. *head-desk* First time this has happened to me, too. It kind of sucks. It's half my fault for not checking the archive date.

There's a thing authors do on Twitter and in blog posts that I like, and that is saying what they're favourite TV shows and movies and songs are. :) You all know that Kathleen Peacock, author of Hemlock, got me to watch the anime Fruits Basket, which got me to read all 23 volumes of the manga, which got me into reading manga (am currently enjoying the English translation of Dawn of the Arcana, it's like Game of Thrones-lite). Well, earlier in the week, Natalie Whipple, author of the 2013 debut Transparent (find it on Goodreads here), was asking for anime and other TV reccomendations because she's up at all hours with her new baby. She then proceeded to list some of her faves in terms of anime. I think it was through Natalie that I discovered one show which led me to discover Crunchyroll and get addicted to watching anime streaming online. I suggested one of the new Spring shows I've been watching called Tsuritama (it's not based off a novel or manga, as far as I know). It's rather odd, rather quirky. I didn't think it would be all that interesting, since it's plugged as a slice of life show about 4 guys who fish, but there's some mystery and intrigue going on. Plus there's some aliens and a duck named Tapioca. And it's brightly coloured, which makes it pretty to watch. :) I'm also surprised I'm enjoying a new anime about basketball. I don't even like basketball.

BEA happens soon. *pausing for jealous face* While I'm outrageously jealous of the people who go to BEA and ALA and ComicCon, I'm grateful for the people I know that go who let me borrow the ARCs they get. And grateful for the people that offer to send me an ARC or two, I owe Kathy big hugs for saying she'd pick up one for me. Plus I imagine everyone out here will want to go through Alita's stack when she gets back. :) The jealousy makes me consider going to ALA Midwinter next January in Seattle.

Since I didn't get books this week, here's a picture of the stack of books I currently have to read. E-galleys aren't pictured, but I've got about 12 or 13 of those to read. Anything you see here that I don't have listed to review that you want to see a review of? Say so in comments.
To review: Flirting in Italian, Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, Innocent Darkness, Glitch, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Me on The Hunt

Title: The Hunt
Author: Andrew Fukuda
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can't run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn't hurt, and he doesn't drink blood. He's human, and he knows the rules: don't sweat, don't laugh, don't draw attention to yourself, and don't fall in love with one of them. It's the only way to stay alive in a world filled with vampires. But when he's chosen to participate in a hunt for some of the last remaining humans, his carefully constructed life begins to crumble. He's thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel, and into a pack of dangerous hunters. Now that there's something worth fighting for, the need to survive is stronger than ever, but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

The Hunt is dark, mysterious, and dangerous. This whole book is about survival, about staying under the radar, about hiding yourself in plain sight. One wrong move, an extra breath or a misstep, a scratch or a scent, and the vampires would be all over him. His years of hiding would be worthless.

Reading a book where every move a character makes could be his last is interesting, it makes the book rather immediate and frightening. He has to blend in with the vampires no matter what, because if he doesn't, if he twitches or gets a papercut or happens to smell, they will be all over him. It'll be a bloodbath.

There was a certain vibe or feeling I kept getting while reading this book that constantly reminded me of Heather Brewer and her The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, but the only thing they seem to have in common is the vampire element. Here, the book is very dark, very dangerous, very immediate and cautious. It's like the reverse of Brewer's series, instead of the vampire hiding amongst the humans it's a human hiding in the vampires. Not sure which would be more dangerous.

It's my opinion that this would be a great suggestion for teenage guys to read. There's action and danger, there's blood-thirsty monsters. There's that one perfect but unobtainable girl constantly thrown into situation with the main character so he can't avoid her unless he wants to look suspicious, but she's got her own secrets. Like everyone else does in this book.

(I received an advance copy from Raincoast Books.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesay (79)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost.

Someone explain why I want this book so much. At first glance, I didn't think I'd be all that interested in this book, but I am. I so am, and I'm so jealous of all the people going to BEA who might get an ARC.

Maybe this is the year where I read books with settings I'm not used to. I can't really remember the last time I read a book with a jungle setting. Anyway, this book sounds like it might be interesting. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Me on Dark Kiss

Title: Dark Kiss
Author: Michelle Rowen
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

Samantha doesn't really do dangerous. She's smart and super careful, but she just could pass up a kiss from her secret crush. But then things started to feel different, like she was always hungry. And not for food. Part of her is missing. Then she meets Bishop, a confused street kid look-alike with loads of secrets. But something's moving into Trinity, and Bishop might be the only one who can help Sam before she loses herself to the darkness.

Dark Kiss wasn't the book I expected when I first started reading. I knew there would be mystery and intrigue, loads of teenage girl angst and confusion, but I didn't expect the urban fantasy tweak that I ended up with. Rowen put enough of her own spin on angels and demons to keep me interested, to keep me turning the page. Coupled with funny one-liners, this book was enjoyable to read. It's something I prefer, characters with sass and snark when facing down angels, demons, and the prospect of having your soul sucked out of your body.

Readers are given a rather authentic misfit teenage girl voice when they meet Sam. She's intelligent and careful and oh so cautious, right until that kiss, right until she meets Bishop and everything does a massive 180 degree turn. There was a moment in the book where a discussion got a bit serious and Sam, after asking a question and getting an answer, went and freaked out like a normal teenage would. That moment was great. No false bravado, no faking it. Characters who realize their fears, who know they have them and still struggle to keep on going, are awesome. Everyone's afraid of something, but you still have to man up, or girl up in Sam's case, and face it.

There's nothing new these days in urban fantasy, but twists and tweaks and unique interpretations are always welcome. Rowen took angels, demons, and the idea of stealing someone's soul and changed it just enough to stand out. In a way, it reminds me of Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal, but it other ways is doesn't. I don't think this series will be as dark.

I kept reading this book all the way to the end because I wanted to know what was going on. I needed to know. At times there was just enough information to fill in some blanks, at others there were hints and guesses. I always wanted to know where the story was going, what made Sam so special, what had happened to Bishop, and why everything was happening. At the end, I was left cursing the fact that, while the book had an ending, I still have to wait for the next book in the series.

(I received an e-galley of this book from Harlequin through NetGalley.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Haul (3)

Calling it a book haul seems like lying. It's only 1 book. *sigh* What's smaller than a haul? An armful? A handful?

There was a blogger meet-up dinner this week, but because of people's busy schedules it was only me, Alita, and Jenny. Oh, well. It was still nice to see them. :)

I was still in a semi-reading slump, but then I finished an e-galley and put another book on hold. Then I read Shadow and Bone Friday evening. *head-desk* If that's all it took, I'm going to hurt someone.

I saw Richelle Mead's coming up to Vancouver as part of the release tour for The Golden Lily near the end of June. I wasn't surprised, it's not like we're that far from Seattle. I'll probably get a finished copy as well as one of Bloodlines and get those signed. :) (I also figure there'll be another blogger meet-up that day like the one this past week, if any bloggers or local authors are interested in hanging out before or after.) Are there any fun book signings happening near you guys soon?? This one is looking like the earliest one for where I live.

So, I've got this thing about reading the book before watching the TV/movie version (not always but often) and it sort of translated over to manga and anime as well. Mostly because I watched Fruits Basket (thanks to Kathleen Peacock) then was totally bored for the first few volumes when I read the manga. There's one series I started reading, then discovered there'd been an anime made years ago, and I told myself I'd read the manga first before watching it. Then I watched the first 2 episodes (they took place over volume 1 (which I've read)). Then I totally caved and watched the rest and flipped out when weird stuff kept happening. *sigh* It's my own fault, really. If I'd read the second volume first before watching the corresponding anime episodes, things would've been different.
Shadows Cast By Stars by Catherine Knutsson (Before the blogger meet-up dinner, I asked if anyone had an ARC I could borrow. Then Jenny handed me this when I arrived and said she just got it the day before.)

To review: Timepiece, The Golden Lily, Flirting in Italian, Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, Innocent Darkness, Glitch, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Me on The Year of the Beasts

Title: The Year of the Beasts
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrator: Nate Powell
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Every summer comes the carnival, its trucks rolling in, bringing infinite possibilities to town. This year, Tessa and her sister Lulu are un-chaperoned and want to be first in line for everything. The rides, the food, and the boys. But this summer also brings jealousy, and will set in motion a course of events that will put everything to the test.

The Year of the Beasts is such a surprising story, told in alternating chapters of prose and comics. It gives readers insight into a girl who just wants to belong, who wants to keep her place, who doesn't want to be overshadowed by her younger sister. This book was heartbreaking and emotional, honest and powerful. Your heart will bleed for Tessa.

The start of the book was so uniquely summer for teenagers. The carnival comes to town, but just for a little while, so you have to rush before it leaves. There's magic in the darkness, if you're brave enough to find it. But then it leaves and summer happens. Summer, where everything changes, and you wonder how it'll be going back to school, how you're so different than you were a few months earlier. How the world can change in the blink of an eye.

Tessa wasn't necessarily a familiar character in the sense that she reminded me of one from another book, but her struggle was. She's maturing, she's trying to find her place in that young adult range with friends and family and school and boys, but just millimetres behind her is Lulu, ready to unknowingly take her place. It's a battle of the siblings, but only one person knows.

The alternating comic chapters were so compelling, filled with gorgeous artwork. At first glance, it doesn't look like it mixes well with Castellucci's prose, that instead of Tessa's summer you're reading a separate story about a lonely Medusa girl and her troubled life, but then you understand the larger picture. Everything is connected and soon your heart breaks, but it doesn't matter if the cause was Castellucci's words or Powell's art. The metaphor in the comic pages took a few chapters to understand, but then I'd read the prose chapters and think back to the comics, I'd realize which beast was which person and vice versa.

In the end, we're all beasts, no matter how much we don't want to be or how much we try to hide it. The bast we can do is accept it, to move on, to understand that we're not alone. The world is full of beasts.

(I received an e-galley to review from Macmillan through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (78)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Middle Ground
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

From Goodreads:

In this provocative cautionary tale for teens, the sequel to Awaken, seventeen-year-old Maddie’s rebellion against the digital-only life grows dangerous. Maddie is in Los Angeles, trying to stay out of trouble. But one night, a seemingly small act of defiance lands her in the place she fears the most: a detention center. Here, patients are reprogrammed to accept a digital existence. Maddie is now fighting for her mind, her soul, and her very life. Once again, Katie Kacvinsky paints a disturbing picture of our increasingly technology-based society.

I read Awaken and it freaked me out. Everything felt so believable, so close to happening, that it made reading the first book all the more poignant. In certain part of the world, technology is slowly taking over our lives. This near future imagining makes me crave human contact, makes me want to get away from any kind of screen. Of course, now that I see this cover, I want to re-read Awaken. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Me on Revived

Title: Revived
Author: Cat Patrick
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

When she was a little girl, Daisy was killed in a bus crash. Moments after, she was brought back to life. At that moment, she became one of the first test subjects in a covert government program that tests a drug called Revive. At fifteen, Daisy has been Revived five times. Each death means a new name for a new town. After moving across the country again, Daisy meets Audrey and Matt, siblings who become her first real friends. But when she begins to question some moral implications of the drug, when she begins to realize the agency's true goals, Daisy might have to escape from an experiment much larger and far more sinister than she ever imagined.

Revived is a unique mix of different genres and ideas. A little contemporary, a little sci-fi, a little thriller/mystery, a little experimentation, a little intrigue and suspicion, a little romance. In the end, it reads like a contemporary romance with a few twists and surprises, plus the secret government agency. Cat Patrick has crafted something so imaginative but also so emotional. At the heart, this book is about life and death, about living after death, about what happens after you've experienced both and what's left behind.

This book wasn't what I expected. I imagined it would be about Daisy, about her experiences with the drug, about her living and dying and living again. At the end, it felt more emotional. An exploration of life and death and what happens after death, of the emotional struggles and the loneliness, the despair, the hopelessness. The need to do something to prolong life when death is staring you in the face. Most importantly, if you have the strength to move on and look ahead, to look beyond death and stare straight into life.

Daisy. She's rather interesting, not overly emotional but rational, a little stubborn, more than a little inquisitive (but who can blame her). I like that the being Revived five times didn't necessarily detract anything from her character, except perhaps a stoic view on death. And my heart always goes out to the loner kids with few friends who suddenly gain friends in a new town because someone super friendly walks up to you. Audrey and Matt were perfect for Daisy.

There isn't as much tension as one would expect, but I'm not saying it's bad. It's very reminiscent of Patrick's first book Forgotten, mysterious with its own quirks and twists but not necessarily pulse-pounding. The tension is rather subtle, you only get hints and glimpses until Daisy starts to question a thing or two.

The drug Revive is the massive plot idea that drives the book and I found it so interesting. Sure, it's nothing new, but the world-building and crafting that Patrick had to do around it to make it believable was flawless. A secret government agency, operatives, procedures, annual physicals, passwords, super computers, safe houses. Everything felt real.

This book is rather honest. Perhaps not about a government group that uses a drug to bring dead children back to life (that we know of), but about teenagers and certain struggles. Moving and fitting in, finding friends, living to the fullest extent. Living after death. The subject of death is rather emotional, for some more than others, but its collision with life, when both occur at the same time, is a unique experience.

(I received a copy of this book from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 14 - Canadian YA Authors

On this, the last day of my Canadian YA Lit blog event, I have for you readers and other book nerds a big list of all the Canadian authors I could think of that write young adult books and some middle grade books. This isn't a complete list, I'm sure there are loads I've forgotten, so if you can think of any feel free to add them in comments and I'll keep on adding them to this list. :) (Thanks to Robin Stevenson for listing about a dozen names on Twitter that I either forgot or are new to me.)

Don Aker (The First Stone, The Space Between)
R.J. Anderson (Spell Hunter, Swift, Ultraviolet)
Joelle Anthony (Restoring Harmony, The Right and the Real)
Kelley Armstrong (The Gathering, The Calling (April 2012))
Catherine Austen (Walking Backwards)
Karen Bass (Drummer Girl)
Helene Boudreau (Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings, Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath)
Leah Bobet (Above (March/April 2012))
Erin Bow (Plain Kate)
James Bow (The Unwritten Girl, Fathom Five, The Young City)
Martha Brooks (Mistik Lake, Queen of Hearts)
Don Calame (Swim the Fly, Beat the Band, Call the Shots (September 2012))
Lena Coakley (Witchlanders)
Tish Cohen (Switch, The Truth about Delilah Blue)
Eileen Cook (Unraveling Isobel, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, The Almost Truth (December 2012))
Megan Crewe (The Way We Fall, Give Up the Ghost)
Anita Daher (Two Foot Punch, Spider's Song)
k.c. dyer (Facing Fire)
Sheree Fitch (The Gravesavers)
Natalie Ghent (No Small Thing, Gravity Brings Me Down)
Beth Goobie (Something Girl, Sticks and Stones, Jason's Why (Nov 2012))
Hiromi Goto (Half World, Darkest Light)
Vicki Grant (Not Suitable for Family Viewing, Betsy Wickwire's Dirty Secret)
Judith Graves (Under My Skin)
Janet Gurtler (I'm Not Her, If I Tell, Who I Kissed (October 2012))
Lisa Harrington (Rattled)
Rachel Hartman (Seraphina (July 2012))
Alyxandra Harvey (Hearts at Stake, Blood Feud, Stolen Away)
Sarah N. Harvey (Shattered, Plastic, Death Benefits)
Faith Erin Hicks (Friends with Boys)
Shelley Hrdlitschka (Sister Wife, Sun Signs)
Denise Jaden (Losing Faith, Never Enough (July 2012))
Susan Juby (Alice, I Think, Miss Smithers)
Adrienne Kress (The Friday Society (December 2012))
Catherine Knutsson (Shadows Cast By Stars (June 2012))
Alice Kuipers (Lost For Words, 40 Things I Want To Tell You)
Leanne Lieberman (The Book of Trees)
Charles de Lint (Under My Skin)
Jean Little (His Banner Over Me)
Lesley Livingston (Wondrous Strange, Once Every Never, Starling (August 2012))
Jodi Lundgren (Leap)
Carrie Mac (The Opposite of Tidy (April 2012), The Beckoners, The Gryphon Project)
C.K. Kelly Martin (My Beating Teenage Heart, Yesterday (October 2012))
Norah McClintock (Guilty (April 2012), Masked, Down)
Jill Murray (Rhythm and Blues, Break On Through)
Susin Nielsen (Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom)
Kenneth Oppel (This Dark Endeavour, Such Wicked Intent (August 2012), Half-Brother)
Cathy Ostlere (Karma)
Kathleen Peacock (Hemlock (May 2012))
Kit Pearson (The Whole Truth, The Sky is Falling)
Caroline Pignat (Greener Grass, Wild Geese)
Gabrielle Prendergast (Wicket Season (April 2012), Audacious (2013))
Monique Polak (Miracleville, What World is Left)
Yvonne Prinz (The Vinyl Princess, All You Get Is Me)
Cheryl Rainfield (Hunted, Scars)
Jeyn Roberts (Dark Inside, Rage Within (September 2012))
Michelle Rowen (Dark Kiss (May 2012), Falling Kingdoms (as Morgan Rhodes, December 2012))
Tom Ryan (Way To Go (April 2012))
Michelle Sagara (Silence (May 2012))
Jocelyn Shipley (How to Tend a Grave)
Arthur Slade (The Hunchback Assignments)
Robin Stevenson (Hummingbird Heart (April 2012))
Courtney Summers (This Is Not a Test (June 2012), Fall for Anything)
Amanda Sun (Ink (February 2013))
Nikki Tate (Fallout, Tarragon Island, Venom)
Meg Tilly (Gemma, Porcupine, First Time)
Teresa Toten (The Taming)
Jo Treggiari (Ashes, Ashes)
Max Turner (Night Runner)
Robert Paul Weston (Dust City)
Moira Young (Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart (October 2012))
Eric Walters (The Taming, Wave)
Tim Wynne-Jones (Blink & Caution, The Uninvited)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 13 - Guest Post by Catherine Knutsson

Day 13. *sigh* It's almost over. I'm kind of sad now (although I won't miss the posting every day). :)

Today is more like a preview to a book featuring a guest post from the author. Catherine Knutsson's debut YA novel Shadows Cast By Stars comes out on June 5. This book sounds so interesting. I haven't read it, but if you have an ARC of this I hope you enjoyed it or you're reading it soon. Also, if you have an ARC, I'm extremely jealous. ;) Since the book doesn't come out for another few weeks, and since I haven't read it, instead of a Q&A (which authors seem to like) I've got a guest post/real life story from Catherine that's connected to the book. Hope you enjoy. :)

First of all, thank you so much, Lindsay, for asking me to write a post for your Canadian YA blog event! I’m really glad to be here.

Since this event is all-things-Canadian-AND-YA, I thought I’d give readers a peek behind the scenes, as it were, by relating a ghost story. Now, this is no ordinary ghost story. This is a true ghost story that I used in SHADOWS CAST BY STARS, and the reason I know it’s true is.....I was there.

So! I grew up in the Comox Valley, a little nest of communities about two-thirds of the way up Vancouver Island. When I was little, our family picked up and moved to the Middle East for a year (Iran, if you can believe it!), and when we moved back, my parents bought a small acreage north of the Comox Valley, where they built a house and set up a hobby farm. Right from the get-go, we knew this was no ordinary place. Weird things happened there, and by weird I mean...spooky. Things would disappear, and then reappear, like keys and coats and fan-belts and ladders. Cats would go missing, and turn up, um, desiccated, in places where they could not possibly get on their own. Our power lines would bounce, and by bounce, I mean five feet in the air. At night, we could here gravel being tossed across our roof, and once, lightning hit a tree ten feet from the house--the only tree on our property that just happened to have an insulator attached to it.

Coincidence? Maybe. But add everything together, and well, to us, it was clear something strange was going on. But, our family just went about our normal business, because, well, what else did you do?

Anyhow, one night, we were all out in the yard. It was dusk in the fall - late October, I think. My dad was up on a rise, chopping wood, while my brother, my sister, and I were riding our bikes in the driveway. Our dog was out with us, and all was fine, until, all of a sudden, the dog went berserk. He started barking and growling like a crazed thing, and then, took off up the bank, running past my dad, straight into the bush.

Now, something to know about the forest behind that house was that the bush there was thick with salal, salmon berry, and bracken, along with a century of windfall from old second-growth firs. There was no way anyone could walk through it without making a huge racket. The other thing to know is that no one lived behind us. There was a nature park behind our house, but the closest trail was about, oh, two hundred meters from our house. Now, we did have bear come through our yard from time to time, and certainly deer, but bear and deer make noise. Keep that in mind as I relate the rest of this story!

So, the dog took off and I remember everyone stopping what they were doing, because this was strange behaviour for our normally mild mannered pet. And then, about three seconds later, the dog screamed out of the woods, yelping, tail between his legs. A rock, about the size of a softball, came bouncing after him.

The dog careened into the garage, hid, and wouldn’t come out.

My dad, since he was chopping wood, grabbed the axe and pushed his way into the bush to see if there was someone out there, but with night approaching, and the fact that the woods were almost impassable, he didn’t get far. That was when he told us kids to go inside (we only went as far as the garage, because there was no way we were going to miss seeing what happened next!) while he called a friend to bring his tracking dog over.

Now, remember, if anything was out there, we would have heard it moving, since our garage was only about ten feet from where the woods started. But there was nothing - no movement, no wind, nothing to suggest anyone walking through the forest, nothing. The silence was one of the things I remember most. That night was eerily silent.

A short time later, my dad’s friend arrived with his dog (both my dad and his friend were experienced hunters). They took the dog into the woods to see if it could pick up a scent, and though they were gone for quite a while, they found...nothing.

To this day, we don’t know what was in the woods, but whatever it was, it had to be pretty big to throw that rock with such force. And yet, it didn’t make a sound when it left. Plus, because of the way the forest was around our house, that rock wasn’t just lying around, waiting to roll out of woods (not that it rolled - it bounced. The image of it doing so is ETCHED in my mind!). So what was it? A bear with opposable thumbs? A ghost? Something else?

Though I’ll never know, my bet’s on something else, and I have thoughts about what that something might be.

So, how does all this relate to SHADOWS CAST BY STARS? Well, Cassandra, the main character, has a similar encounter with a rock bouncing out of the woods. The difference is...she finds out who throws it!

Thanks so much to Catherine for writing this up. I can't wait to read Shadows Cast By Stars. :) (Catherine sent a nice picture for me to add to the post, but it seems Blogger wants to be stupid and not let me put pictures where I want to. Maybe if we're nice, she'll tweet it. ;))

Me on This Week's Book Haul (2)

It's been nice up here in my corner of BC. Like, sunny and no rain. It was nice. :) Of course, that meant working out in the yard clearing out some dead crap. So much dead crap. And we had this blackberry vine that went nuts grew all over with its very very very prickly vines and through a big shrub. What a jerk.

Meeting up with some of the local YA bloggers for dinner this week. Yay. :) I think someone made the joke that we need to get in our BEA requests before Alita goes. ;) Honestly, she can bring back whatever she wants, but I know we'll all want to go through them.

I finally finished a book this week. *flops over* Something is wrong with my brain.

Didn't get a lot of books this week. Well, considering how big my pile is with ARCs that have summer release dates, I should really get through those before buying any more or borrowing any more.
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (not sure when I'm going to read it, though)

To review: Shadow and Bone, Timepiece, The Golden Lily, Flirting in Italian, Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, Innocent Darkness, Glitch, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day 12 - Q&A with Jocelyn Shipley

Day 12. You know, I hope these reviews and posts with authors have gotten some of you to check out authors from other countries and not just Canada. It can be a bit tricky to get them if they're not published in your country, though. Hmmm.

Today's Q&A features a new to me author, but her upcoming book sounds rather interesting if you're a fan of contemporary YA. Jocelyn Shipley is co-editor of the anthology Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls and is the author of Getting a Life, Cross My Heart and Seraphina’s Circle. Born and raised in London, Ontario, Jocelyn graduated from York University and has studied writing at St. Lawrence College and the Humber School for Writers. She now lives in Toronto and on Vancouver Island. You can visit her at her website and check out her new book, How to Tend a Grave, on Goodreads. :)

Q: Where did the idea for How to Tend a Grave come from?

A: I started writing the book in 2005, when I was living in Kingston, Ontario, and had read in the local paper about teens vandalizing a historic cemetery. The vandalism wasn’t an isolated event – it had happened several times. I did some research and learned that vandalism in cemeteries is a problem in many places. I couldn’t help wondering what would make a kid do something like that? Sure, teens vandalize things, but gravestones?

Q: Were there any drastic changes from when you first started writing it to the finished book?

A: At first the book was only about Liam, but it didn’t have enough plot or depth for a novel – it was just some scenes with him and a gang partying in a cemetery. But I didn’t know how to develop it, so put the ms aside to work on other things. When I went back to it a couple years later, I figured out that Liam needed something or someone to help him heal, and so added a female character who was in as much pain as he was, for him to fall in love with. Another newspaper article, this time about the unacknowledged grief women carry after a miscarriage, triggered Harmony’s story.

Q: The book itself sounds rather emotional, with Liam's mother's death and Harmony's miscarriage. Did you intend to write about those issues, about teenagers and grief and healing, or did it just happen over the course of writing the book?

A: No, I didn’t set out to write about teens and grief, although I always knew that most of the story would take place in a cemetery. When I began the book I was more interested in how a fifteen-year-old guy copes with the fact that his mom worked as an escort. At first, Liam’s mom’s death was just a way to get him out of his familiar setting and to the town where he’d meet up with the gang. I soon realized there was so much more to it than that, especially after adding Harmony's story.

Q: Did any real-life inspiration or events sneak their way into the book as you wrote it?

A: Not so much for Liam’s story, but definitely for Harmony’s. I had a miscarriage when I was in my early twenties – I was four months pregnant when it happened. It  was so sad and upsetting, but nobody talked about miscarriage back then. I was just supposed to get over it and get on with my life. It wasn’t a conscious decision to use that experience I’d kept hidden away for so many years, but I’m sure that’s where Harmony’s story came from. 

Q: What do you hope readers, especially teen readers, will take away from this book?

A: My editor has said that more than anything the book is about finding a way through, and I agree completely. How to Tend a Grave isn’t so much about death as it is about life. You just never know what will happen next, or who you might meet. So no matter how bleak the future looks, there is always hope. And hope is what I’d like readers to take away from this book.

Thanks so much to Jocelyn for answering my questions. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 11 - Half World

Day 11. :) I've been wondering if you guys want to see an event like this again next year. Maybe have a bunch of blogs share the posts, maybe have a bunch more authors involved. What do you think?

Title: Half World
Author: Hiromi Goto
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Publisher: Puffin Canada

Melanie Tamaki is an outsider. An unpopular and poor girl, she's barely coping with school and life, but everything changes when she returns home one day and finds her mother missing. Soon, Melanie embarks on an epic journey to Half World, a dark place where her mother must be saved from the vile creature known as Mr. Glueskin. What Melanie doesn't realize is the fate of the universe is at stake, and her choices could change everything.

This is a unique and darkly fantastical book, introducing readers to a whole new world in Half World. The journey Melanie takes is not easy, but I knew that going in. Nothing was ever going to be easy for Melanie, and she was going to have to work hard, to suffer, to learn her place in the world.

The different worlds in this book were astounding. This book was a new experience for me, reading about the world of flesh, the world of spirit, and the half world. The world of flesh was familiar, it's the world we live in, but Half World was frightening. I found it to be so rich and descriptive, so haunting. Mr. Glueskin especially so. The way he was described was so vivid.

Melanie's searching for so many things in Half World. Searching for her mother, yes, that much is obvious, but she's also searching for herself. She's lost and alone in the world of flesh, horribly misunderstood and confused, and only in the confusing place known as Half World can she find her own power, her own purpose in life. Only there can she find a reason to continue living.

Half World was a very interesting book, but I can't help but wonder if it was one of those deep and meaningful books with a message that I wasn't quite able to grasp. Still, it was unique, the differences between it and what I usually read kept me turning the page. I'm sure there are readers who will enjoy this book with its Asian influences and wonder.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 10 - A Canadian Lit Memory from My Childhood

Day 10. Enjoy. :)

Today's post is a little different. Instead of a review or a guest post from an author, it's more like a guest post from me. Or a feature on a series by a well-known Canadian author that I relished when I was younger.

I don't remember how old I was when I first read this series (but I know it was before I turned 13), and I don't remember how I first discovered it (probably some kind of present), but one of the best series I ever read when I was a kid was Kit Pearson's Guests of War series. During World War II, thousands of children from Britain were sent to Canada. This series is the story of two such children, Norah and her younger brother Gavin, sent to Canada by their parents to keep them safe during the war. They end up in the care of a rich, elderly widow and her daughter, and are introduced to a brand new world in 1940's Toronto. The three books, The Sky is Falling, Looking at the Moon and The Lights Go On Again, take place over the span of about 5 years and are a coming-of-age for Norah and Gavin. Well, more Norah in the first two books and Gavin in the third.

There was something so fascinating about this series when I read it as a kid. I imagine it was the realism and the drawing from real events that did it. I could only imagine what it would be like to be Norah or Gavin and be forced to leave my parents at such a young age, and to have to go to a different country, too. It's times like this I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and watch me read this series for the first time so I could ask myself why I loved it so much. And also why I had two copies of the third book.

Earlier this year, I re-read the second book, Looking at the Moon, mostly because it was my favourite of the three. In it, Norah is on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and a woman, in her eyes. Anything can happen when you're thirteen, the world is your oyster. It was just as I remembered. Norah and Gavin, the massive family that accepts them as theirs, the cabin, the lake, the simplicity but also the danger of the 1940's. I read this book over and over and over again because I adored it so much

For all the historical source material and setting, for all its realism, this series is so magical in my eyes. I'd recommend this series to anyone who's a fan of Kit Person, to anyone interested in the time period, and to anyone with a 10 year old daughter hungry to read about a girl her own age. To me, these books were the kind that kept me reading, that showed me what different worlds you can discover in books.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 9 - Q&A with Helene Boudreau

It's day 9. I hope these posts have introduced you to some interesting books. :)

Today's post was a little last minute, but I hope you won't mind. And I hope the author doesn't mind. :) If you were interested in the book I reviewed yesterday, then you'll enjoy this Q&A with the author, Hélène Boudreau. She even added a video to the end of the Q&A. How awesome is that? :)

Q: Where did Jade come from? Was anything drawn from life? (setting, characters, etc.)

A: My main character, Jade, came about through conversations I had with my daughters after reading Mélanie Watt’s picture book ‘Scaredy Squirrel’. The book is about a neurotic squirrel who’s afraid of everything. We were getting a bit silly, talking about birds that were afraid of flying or fish that were afraid of swimming; which led to the idea of an aqua-phobic mer-girl. It just seemed like such a ridiculous idea that I just had to see where it led. Little did I know; it would lead to this book series!

Port Toulouse in the story is actually based on the town of St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia, near where I grew up. My dad used to take us there by boat and we’d sail from the ocean, up a canal and through a boat lock to the Bras D’Or Lake. I was always amazed by the purple jelly fish in the ocean compared to the white jelly fish in the lake. It always made me wonder how different it would be to live in a lake compared to the ocean. That was the inspiration for my underwater mer-world in the Real Mermaids series.

Q: The titles of the first two books are rather catchy, Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings and Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath. Did they come easily or was it a struggle?

A: Coming up with a title for the first book was actually really tricky. At first, I’d called the book Big Splash because my main character, Jade, is a bit on the heavy side and she was definitely making a big entrance in her mer-world. But that title was a bit too similar to another book that had just been released.

A few more titles were thrown around (and thrown out) then finally, I was having dinner with my sister and she was wearing this cute thumb ring, which led to a discussion about toe rings, which led to Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings.

The other two titles came about through a lot of collaboration with my editor, my agent, and my mom. My mom insists she gave me the idea for Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath on a road trip we took last summer.

I choose to leave her believe that. *wink-wink*

Q: Was there anything specific to mermaids or ocean life in general that you had to research?

A: I spent a lot of time researching tides and tidal pools and the mechanisms of boat locks throughout the whole series. I really wanted to explore how salinity and tidal conditions might affect mers.

I also researched a lot of theories on primordial development and the concepts of human evolution. My main focus was to make the magic as ‘believable’ as possible by basing it on scientific explanations (which I extrapolated from, of course).

Q: Any hints on what's next for Jade? (and Luke, of course. ;))

A: In Real Mermaids Don’t Need High Heels (Book #3) Jade tries to overcome her fear of awkward dancing as she prepares for her first formal high school dance, while trying to orchestrate the biggest political coup in mer history.

Q: Mermaids: in your opinion, real or myth?

A: Real, of course! Was there ever any doubt? ;-)

Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for the advance copy of Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath and for facilitating the Q&A as part of a blog tour for its release. And thanks so much to Hélène for answering my silly questions. :)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (77)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes (Michelle Rowen)
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Cleo has grown up in luxury, the royal heiress to a prosperous kingdom. But beneath her nation’s seemingly peaceful surface lies dangerous unrest. Whispers of war are growing ever louder—intensified by a murderous incident for which Cleo’s betrothed, Aron, is accused.

Amidst the ongoing intrigue, Cleo has a more desperate mission. She defies her father’s orders and sets off on a secret and perilous journey into a neighboring country, seeking a magic long thought to be mythical. If it’s real, it could be the cure that heals her ailing sister. If it’s only legend, Cleo will be stranded in a kingdom that has just declared war on her own.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with unforgettable characters and vibrantly imagined magic. Falling Kingdoms is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Cinda Williams Chima, and George R.R. Martin.

Another upcoming book by a Canadian author. And another December release. *sigh* Why must we wait so long?

I don't usually read a lot of fantasy, but this sounds interesting. I rather like books with magic. And I'm a fan of Michelle's. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 8 - Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath

It's day 8. Yay. Feels like just yesterday I was planning this event when it was a baby of an idea. :)

Today's a review day for a book I just got a couple of weeks ago and totally slipped in when I was still finalizing some posts. It's so nice when that happens. :) And I have to say, I like the actual cover more than the ARC cover (that could just be because I like green more than purple). ;) Now, this is book 2 of the series. If you want to start at the beginning, then check out Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings.

Title: Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath
Author: Hélène Boudreau
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Jade's summer starts off rather confusingly. She's never sure if it'll be a tail day or a legs day, she's heard nothing about her mom's whereabouts after she returned to the ocean, and while she might've been kissed by mer-boy Luke, it's been twenty-one days since and now... nothing. But she doesn't really have time to figure him out or how to use her new tail. The plan: find Mom and figure out a way to get her back on dry land. If only the ocean wasn't so big and frightening.

More than anything, Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath is fun and entertaining. Jade's story continues in this book with some of the same issues as the first, like her shiny new mermaid's tail and the weird complexities of teenage boys, but there are also some new ones that keep it fresh and exciting.

What I've enjoyed about both the previous book and this new one is that all of Jade's problems and experiences get an equal amount of worrying over. Sometimes, certain plot points or events get overshadows by others, but Boudreau has a way of plotting and gives readers a well-rounded mix of Jade and the things she has to deal with. Like being a mermaid, and searching for her mom, and figuring out Luke and why he's been acting weird, and some undersea troubles, and some dry land troubles. Jade gets wrapped up and weighed down by so many things, but she seems to find a way to keep on going.

Jade's character is rather interesting. She's quirky and not so average (not counting the mermaid's tail). Her teen girl insecurities were perfect, because what teenage girl actually understands teenage boys? Also, it might just be me, but I kept having to remind myself that Jade is only fourteen. There were times when she felt older. Of course, there were times when her age did show.

There's an apparent influx of YA novels featuring mermaids, but the humour and the intrigue of this series makes it stand out. It's not as dark as some, not as otherworldly as others, but there's something about it that made me think it was all real. That Jade was real, that her small oceanside town was real, that the ice cream store she worked part-time in was real, that everything was real. It's the fact that Jade has mermaid issues mixed with actual real-life issues that make this series one to enjoy.

(I received an advance copy from Raincoast Books.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 7 - Q&A with Eileen Cook

Day 7. Sometimes, when I was planning this event, I never thought I'd get enough authors interested to fill the two weeks. Then I thought I had way too much. It flip-flopped a lot. ;)

Today's Q&A (the authors I contacted seem to love Q&A's) features another Vancouver area author, Eileen Cook (one I've met). Originally from the US, we've claimed Eileen as one of our own. ;) She's the authors of multiple contemporary YA novels like Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, What Would Emma Do?, and The Education of Hailey Kendrick. Her most recent book is the humourous and haunting Unraveling Isobel, and her next, The Almost Truth, comes out this December. Eileen is also the author of the middle grade Fourth Grade Fairy series. You can find out more about Eileen at her website or talk to her on Twitter. :)

Q: All of your books have funny moments mixed in with the teen angst and the high school horrors. How important is it for there to be humour in your books?

A: I've always been the funny one. It's like my own secret super power. When I first started writing I tried to be very serious. I got a lot of rejections, one of them wrote on the manuscript "be aware the funny bits are good."  I realized that because being funny came natural to me I tended to think it wasn't "real" writing.  I think humour lets us look at difficult issues more easily.  Since I enjoy books that make me laugh I've decided to embrace that in my writing.

Q: Unraveling Isobel was a little different than past books, mostly because of the gothic/creepy/ghost parts. How did that come about? Was there anything specific you had to research for Isobel?

A: Like most of my book ideas, Unraveling Isobel started as a "what if."  I had seen one of those ghost hunter TV shows and a friend and I were discussing how we would respond if we saw, or experienced, something paranormal.  I wondered if I would assume it was real, think I was going crazy, or wonder if someone was trying to pull something over on me.  The more I started to think about it the more I wanted to explore the idea in a book- plus I absolutely love gothic books with creepy houses and family secrets so I liked the idea of writing one.

I love doing research!  Not only is a great way to procrastinate writing, but you learn some really interesting things. For Isobel I already knew a fair bit about schizophrenia because I work as a counsellor, but I did do some additional research on how children who have parents with mental illness feel.  I also made a floor plan of the house so that I could see it more clearly in my mind.

Q: Did you ever want to get revenge on someone like Lauren Wood in real life? How much of real life has made its way into your books?

A: I think everyone I've ever met has known someone who hurt or betrayed them and dreamed of getting them back.  Hopefully most of us realize that the best revenge is moving on and being happy, but the best thing of writing is that you get to do all the things you wouldn't do in real life.  Most of my books have something in common with my own life, or a friend's life, and then I take that tiny bit of truth and spin it in a completely different direction.

Q: What is your middle grade series, Fourth Grade Fairy, about? How different is it writing middle grade as opposed to YA?

A: The Fourth Grade Fairy is about Willow who happens to be born into a family of Fairy Godmothers.  Unlike her parents and annoying older sister, she doesn't want to do magic, what she wants is to be normal. Alas, Willow's efforts to be normal rarely go well.   Writing middle grade was an interesting challenge.  I remember being a teen really well, but my memories of fourth grade are a bit more murky.

Q: I know writers often spend their days writing and revising (and staring at the blinking cursor wondering why words don't write themselves), but have you read anything recently that you'd recommend?

A: So many good books, so little time.  I had a chance to get a sneak peek at two books coming out this year that were great.  The first is The Right and The Real by Joelle Anthony and the other is Never Enough by Denise Jaden. 

Q: Do you have another book coming out this year or next year? Will it be straight contemporary like The Education of Hailey Kendrick, or will it be more along the lines of Unraveling Isobel?

A: I do have a new book coming out!  It is called The Almost Truth and it will be out in early December. It is a contemporary, but there is a bit of a mystery. It's the story of Sadie who is a teen age con-artist from the wrong side of town. When she realizes that she looks like the age-enhanced photo of a missing child she decides to pull the ultimate con- until she begins to suspect she may actually be the missing girl. I absolutely love this book and can't wait for it to get out into the world.

Thanks so much to Eileen for answering my silly questions, as well as offering a lucky commenter the chance to win a signed copy of The Education of Hailey Kendrick. This was the first of Eileen's books I read and I found it so funny. :) To enter, all you have to do is answer a question of Eileen's, and at the end of the event I'll get Eileen to pick a winner (I'll send her numbers, like if 20 people comment, she'll pick from between 1 and 20).

Here's Eileen's question: since you asked me what I was reading- I'm curious what book your blog readers have read recently and enjoyed.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Haul

Let's see how this goes. :)

Hope you've been enjoying the Canadian YA lit blog event, if you're at all interested. Don't forget about the giveaway. :) There'll be another happening this week.

My to-read pile (of books I have as opposed to books I want to read but don't have) has gotten out of control. Out of the 27 books in the pile, there are 13 paper books and 14 e-galleys, 19 of them are review books, 5 are books I bought (1 of those being a paperback buy of a previously read & reviewed hardcover), 2 are books I won, 7 don't come out until September or later, and 1 is a paperback finished copy I got to review back in January (some are counted twice for different reasons, it's not my crappy math skills, and I'll have you know I took honours math in high school ;)). My brain hurts. I sort of have an order, mostly in terms of release dates, but sometimes you just read what you want to. This is proved by all the manga I read when I should've been reading review books. Stupid manga, why are you so funny with pretty artwork?? *sigh* I think I might take a few days and read what I want to

I went to the bookstore on Tuesday (not the big one but the smaller indie one in the mall up the street). I was looking through their YA section and overheard about half a dozen calls to customers saying their reserved copy if Insurgent was available, which lead to me talking to the (super nice) woman about books and reviewing and so on. And I gave her my card, which made me look rather professional. :)

I had some BEA angst this week. *sigh* My big 4 covets of BEA would have to be Gennifer Albin's Crewel, Maggie Steifvater's The Raven Boys, Kat Zhang's What's Left of Me, and Jessica Khoury's Origin.
Velveteen by Daniel Marks (to review from Random House through NetGalley)
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (to review from Random House through NetGalley)
Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson (to review from Random House through NetGalley) (I re-requested this one as a test, and suddenly Random House approved me for everything I'd requested previously but hadn't been approved for. Hence the 4 e-galleys.)
Touched by Cyn Balog (to review from Random House through NetGalley)
Endlessly by Kiersten White (to review from HarperCollins Canada)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (I caved. It was the last copy at the bookstore that wasn't reserved.)
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (paperback) by Lish McBride
Silence by Michelle Sagara (*pointing at book* Canadian author, people)

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (won from Kathy at A Glass of Wine from her blogoversary giveaway)

Borrowed from the library:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (let's see if I can read this again, but considering it's due back in 2 weeks and my stack is big, possibly not)

To review: Shadow and Bone, Timepiece, The Golden Lily, Flirting in Italian, Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, Innocent Darkness, Glitch, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. *dead* ;)

Day 6 - Under My Skin

Day 6. :) Don't forget to enter the giveaway I'm holding for another week.

Today's a review day. :) I hope you enjoy this one, I'm tempted to offer it to teenage boys as something to read, it seems like a very teen guy sort of book, rough around the edges, trying to figure out the world, meets a cute girl that's different than all the other girls. I hope some of you will check this book out. :)

Title: Under My Skin
Author: Charles de Lint
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill Canada (Penguin Canada imprint)

For the past six months, something strange has been happening to the young people of Santa Feliz. Week after week, there are reports of teens transforming into wild animals. Josh has seen the news, but he's totally unprepared when it happens to him, when one moment he's arguing with his mother's boyfriend and the next standing over him with bloody claws. Trusting on his friends Marina and Desmond, he tries to return to a normal life, but an encounter with a few more Wildlings and an accidental betrayal shatter his carefully constructed cover story. His friends are forced to trust other Wildings, and themselves, in order to save Josh.

Under My Skin is action-packed and thrilling, never once stopping to let the reader take a full breath before jumping right back into the story. I almost feel bad, saying that this is my first foray into Charles de Lint's writing, but everything was crafted perfectly. The setting, the characters, the fantasy world-building, all of it was amazing.

The book starts off so quickly with just a little bit of background info before Josh is standing over his mother's jerk of a boyfriend after transforming into a mountain lion and clawing him. Everything was fast-paced, and everything felt so immediate, like there was no time to stop and think about what just happened. There were small moments for Josh to try and catch his breath, to hopefully understand how he needed to hide to survive, and then something else would pop up and amp up the speed of the book.

What isn't said in the summary is that the book changes narrators, that it goes back and forth between Josh and Marina. There were a few times when it changed from a Josh chapter to a Marina chapter and I didn't notice, but it's possible that's because I got so caught up in the story. Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that Josh and Marina felt so similar in my mind.

There have been a lot of novels just focusing on werewolves, but I found this to be a welcome change, an intriguing twists on shapeshifters and skinwalkers. The whole book had a Native American/First Nations (if you're from Canada) feel to it that I enjoyed. It's possible that I don't read a lot of books that draw on those kinds of stories, myths about coyotes and ravens, but I think I'd like to read more.

What was rather important in this book was the reaction the general public got to the teens suddenly turning into wild animals. It was important because it was the reaction that should've occurred. The fear, the distrust, the government stepping in thinking they know what's best, all of those things can be seen as a wider observation of the world in general, of the prejudices people have against those who look different or believe in different things. Human beings have this fear of the unknown and the strange, of what they don't understand, and in this book, it's only right that most of the general public would fear the Wildlings. I'm not saying it's right, just that it was what I expected. Of course, if the world was more open to change, perhaps this wouldn't have been the expected reaction. Why fear them when they had no control over the transformation?

The California setting and the different ethnicities of the characters added so much depth and life to the story. It felt so real, and the voices of Josh and Marina and everyone else felt so authentically teenager. This book is like a coming-of-age story, only instead it's more like the transformation of Josh into a mountain lion as the metaphor for the young boy coming into adulthood story. Shapeshifters, mystery and intrigue, government agents, real life or death consequences, this book was wonderful rough and gritty YA urban fantasy.

(I received an advance copy from Penguin Canada.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 5 - Q&A with Denise Jaden

It's day 5. :) I have to say, after planning this out since about mid-January, it's so nice to have everything come together. Plus now the authors can look back and go, "that's right, I did answer some questions for that crazy book nerd girl." ;)

Today's Q&A comes from a local (well, to me) author, but it feels weird to say local because I haven't yet met her. I do think I caught a flash of her curly hair at a signing once or twice, but that was it. ;) Denise Jaden is the author of two contemporary YA novels, Losing Faith and Never Enough, the latter of which comes out two months from now on July 10. :) My review of Never Enough won't be up until July, I actually haven't read it yet, but you can always check it out on Goodreads or at Denise's website.

Q: A big part of your first book, Losing Faith, is about religion, about having faith, about finding it, which makes it a rather moving book. How important was it to write about faith and religion?

A: Thank you! I didn’t go into the book with the intent of writing any kind of “message” about faith or religion, but to be honest, it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about, so it didn’t surprise me when it became a main theme of the book. I loved exploring spirituality from so many different character viewpoints while writing it!

Q: Was Brie, or any character in the book, inspired by anyone?

A: Brie was named after my husband’s birth sister, whom we first met a few years ago. But only their names are the same. If any of my characters was inspired by a real person, it would be Tessa. When I was in high school, I befriended a tough girl a little like Tessa, and I thought of this girl often while working out Tessa’s dialogue.

Q: Tessa is such a unique character, and her family situation was rather unexpected. Why Tessa as someone for Brie to connect with after Faith's death?

A: Tessa was not in my original outline for the book. When I was maybe about a third of the way into writing the novel, I realized that Brie was spending too much time alone. I wanted a helper for her, but someone who would bring some added conflict. Tessa showed up and fit the bill (and then some!)
Q: Never Enough comes out this July and is about two sisters and eating disorders. Why eating disorders? Was there a specific reason? Was it one of those instant flashes of a book idea?

A: I have a fairly lengthy author’s note at the end of NEVER ENOUGH explaining in more detail why I chose to write about this subject, but as a short answer, let me just say that I was very close to someone who struggled for years with eating disorders and I felt like it was something I had to write about in order to understand my friend better.
Q: Is there anything you've read recently that you'd plug to your heart's content? YA or Canadian or otherwise.

A: Yes! A few books, and they’re all YA. WANDERLOVE by Kristen Hubbard, UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker, ZERO by Tom Leveen, and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. All breathtakingly beautiful books!
Q: Perhaps the most important question: will a future book have a Polynesian dancer? ;) (For those who weren't aware, Denise spent time as a professional Polynesian dancer.)

A: You know, I’ve thought of that, and I’ve tried to work it into a couple of stories, but so far it hasn’t quite worked with any particular book. I hope so one day!

Thanks so much to Denise

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 4 - Q&A with Megan Crewe

Day 4. I hope you've enjoyed yourselves so far. :) Today's the start of a bunch of Q&A's. Authors seem to like Q&A's, for some reason. Do they know how stressful it is to think up questions I hope they haven't been asked yet? So stressful. But I have to say, I do appreciate them taking the time to answer my questions about their books. :)

Today's Q&A features Megan Crewe, author of the semi-dystopic semi-post-apocalyptic survival disease YA thriller set on a small Canadian East Coast island The Way We Fall. Kaelyn lives on a small island, but when a deadly virus sweeps through, the government shuts it down, and the race for survival begins. You can find my review here. :) You can also find Megan at her website or on Twitter. The second book in the triliogy, The Lives We Lost, is set to come out in January 2013.

Q: The format of the book, the journal entries of Kaelyn's as letters to Leo, gives readers a sort of mix of second person and first person, when she talks to Leo and when she recounts what's happening on the island. It feels a little more personal, how Kaelyn tells Leo things she wouldn't dare tell Gav or Tessa. Why did you write it that way as opposed to just first person? Was it difficult?

A: One of the inspirations for THE WAY WE FALL was the idea of someone trapped in an apocalyptic situation, writing to someone far away to warn them and/or let them know what had happened.  I liked the idea of my main character having someone concrete who was outside the zone of the disaster, to focus on when hoping things were better elsewhere and when trying to explain how the situation was changing.  To some extent, Leo ended up symbolizing all the unknowns beyond the borders of the island.  I was hoping the format would make the narrative feel more real--that it would enhance the sense that readers are getting a glimpse inside a catastrophe that could almost be happening right now.

Including that element definitely made the writing more complicated.  I had to develop a character that the reader never actually "sees" other than through Kaelyn's memories and show why he's so important to Kaelyn.  It was also tricky handling the shift as Kaelyn writes more and more for herself and not so much for Leo anymore.  And simply writing in journal format in general requires a lot of care, because I wanted it to feel as believable as possible, so I had to take into account factors like where Kaelyn was when she was writing, and why she would be writing then and not earlier or later, which you don't have to consider in regular first person.  But I'm glad I put in the work, because I'm very happy with how it turned out!  :)

Q: Kaelyn seems like a regular teen girl at the beginning, then takes on more responsibilities and finds this inner strength to carry on through the hardest times. Was writing Kaelyn difficult, or did her voice come easily? Did you draw on any real-life experiences or people you know?

A: Kaelyn's voice is very similar to my own when I was her age, probably because our personalities are similar in many ways.  That was a little difficult for me to accept that at first--I felt like I should be giving her a more separate, distinctive voice--but when I tried, my critique partners told me it sounded artificial.  So I went back to writing her the way that felt more natural, which everyone liked better.

As I was writing, I thought a lot about the journals I kept as a teen, the sorts of things I'd record and the sorts of things I'd leave out.  And I'm very scared of viruses and epidemics, so I drew on my fears and the factors that I find most scary in portraying the outbreak and characters' responses to it.  Thankfully in real life neither I nor anyone I know has been sick with a mysterious deadly illness!

Q: How did you come up with the disease and its symptoms? It was rather interesting, starting with something innocuous like the itch and the cough, but then it gets worse. Did any of the research surprise you, make you look at some things differently?

A: I read several books on epidemics, viruses, and the immune system before coming up with my disease, because I wanted to make it as realistic as possible.  Many serious illnesses start with common flu-like symptoms like coughing and fever, because those are standard bodily responses to infection.  The coughing and sneezing also create an easy way for the virus to spread.  The more serious symptoms were inspired by parasites like the Cordyceps fungus, which can control insect behavior in order to spread itself, and Toxoplasma gondii, which causes rodents to be less afraid of cats (again, to help them spread the parasite from animal to animal) and may influence behavior in people as well.  I don't think there's anything scarier than knowing a disease will take over your brain and make you think and act in ways you can't control.

What surprised me the most from my research was how little scientists still know about many deadly illnesses and how to prevent them, and also how close we've come to having a serious outbreak in North America.  I'd say I'm even more nervous about epidemics than I used to be now!

Q: Why set The Way We Fall in Canada? How important was it to set it here than in another country?

A: Before I started writing THE WAY WE FALL, I'd been thinking of how few books, especially how few young adult books, are set here in my country.  I know when I was a teen, I would have loved to see familiar locations and cultural details in the novels I read more often.  But if even the young adult authors who live here aren't writing stories set here, how can we expect anyone else to?  So I decided that from now on, if I have a story for which a Canadian setting fits, I'll set it here.  And with THE WAY WE FALL, it fit perfectly.  There are many small island communities off the coast of the maritime provinces (though mine is made-up), and our winters would provide the perfect setting for some of the events in the sequel.

Q: The two covers for the book are striking in their own ways, the blueish one focusing on Kaelyn, her fear, her wide eyes, while the yellow one reminds me of a biohazard warning with Kaelyn alone on the street. What are your thoughts on the covers? Do you favour one over the other?

A: I love both the original cover that's on the ARCs (and the Australian edition) and the final cover that appears on the finished book.  The bluish cover captures the mood very well, but the concern was that it didn't suggest the apocalyptic situation in the book very clearly, which I can understand.  I was impressed when I saw the final cover, because it manages to combine that sense of isolation with the striking biohazard yellow.  It captures so much of what's important about the story.  And I think the color and typography also makes book stand out compared to many YA covers right now, whereas the bluish one might have blended in a little.  So while I do love both, I'm particularly fond of the final version.

Q: It was nice to read the first book in a series with an ending that wasn't a cliffhanger, an end that made sense, that leans towards something more in the next book. Is there anything you can share about The Lives We Lost? Will we meet Leo soon?

A: I'm glad you felt that way about the ending!  I find books that end leaving nothing resolved until the sequel very frustrating, so I've tried to make sure that even if certain plot points are left hanging, there's some sense of resolution at the end of each book in the trilogy.

I can tell you that THE LIVES WE LOST is still from Kaelyn's point of view, but it's in regular first person rather than journal format.  The reason for that is that there's quite a bit more action in this book, and I didn't feel I could tell it properly if I was relying only on what Kaelyn would be able to write down.  You will see all of the characters still alive at the end of THE WAY WE FALL again, and you will get to meet Leo right away (the book starts immediately after the end of THE WAY WE FALL, with Kaelyn meeting him as he comes off the ferry).  You'll find out what's been happening on the mainland all this time, and Kaelyn will make a surprising discovery that sets the events of the rest of the trilogy in motion.

Thanks so much to Megan for answering my questions, and thanks to Kaitlin at Hachette Book Group Canada for facilitating the Q&A. :)