Saturday, June 30, 2012

Me on This Week's Books (9)

Wooo, made a library run. And it was nice and sunny that day, too. :) Do you guys like the blog layout?? It's been like this since October 2010 and I'm curious if I should change it up.

I had a weird depressed evening this week when the video of two bloggers (don't know who, haven't watched it) and the books they got at ALA circled Twitter. From how people described it, I felt sick. 20 minutes of them showing all the ARCs they picked up, plus extras. Why would you get doubles?? There's two of you. Then the whole 'ALA is supposed to be for librarians' thing circled again and I felt depressed because I was thinking of going to ALA Midwinter in January. So, I don't know. I'm not a jerk, you know, I hate people who are all grabby hands about things, and I hate big crowds. I don't see myself going to BEA in the next few years. *sigh* Yeah, so, way to make me feel like a jerk for not being a librarian.

In happier news, I got the final e-mail saying I get to volunteer at the library in downtown Vancouver again this August. Yay. :) It looks like it'll be interesting, they're got some improv people running some of the workshops this year.

I'm not sure if I like Edelweiss. It seems like the snooty version of NetGalley where I don't get approved. What is the secret formula for Edelweiss? (I hope you realize I'm being semi-sarcastic here. I know they want stats.)

Saw Brave with my sister on Friday. We also picked the worst time to go to brunch near the theatre. It's like every teacher in the area went there for breakfast. We were there during the 3rd group of 30. *wide-eyed*

Well, I know what I'm doing this long weekend (Canada Day is on Sunday): reading the books I have scheduled to review next week and the week after. Ooooops. I'm a little bit behind.
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (from Random House through NetGalley)
Borrowed from the library:
Lost in Time by Melissa de la Cruz
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Au Revior, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

To review: Spark, Endlessly, The Goddess Legacy, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, The Blood Keeper, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Mystic City, Romeo RedeemedMeant to Be, Tune and Altered. :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Me on Ghost Flower

Title: Ghost Flower
Author: Michele Jaffe
Release Date: April 20, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Eve's a runaway, working in a coffee shop outside Tuscon when she's approached by two siblings who say she bears a creepily uncanny resemblance to their missing cousin Aurora. Soon, Eve's drawn into a scheme to get Aurora's inheritance to split with Bain and Bridgette, only there's more to pretending to be someone than meets the eye. Like how Aurora's best friend Liza died and Aurora went missing the same night. Like how Liza's ghost is haunting Eve, hurting people as a form of "protection." It doesn't take her long to realize she has to find out the truth of what happened that night, what happened to Liza and to Aurora, before she's next to disappear.

Ghost Flower is very mysterious, very much a thriller for a teen audience. Fast-paced, dark and dangerous, Eve, and the reader, is always on the lookout, always trying to figure out what happened in the past and what will happen in the near future. It feels like a fairy tale, a struggling girl discovered by two people willing to make her over and have her pretend so they can all get something out of it, but if Eve's not careful, the ending will be anything but a happy ever after.

Eve is really damaged at the start of the book, she's on the run, she's got some hidden shadows in her past that she wants to keep hidden, and then she's tossed into an unfamiliar situation with half-truths and possible lies. It's very interesting when the reader is tossed into a story blind along with the narrator. The author's left you to feel your way around, it's like standing on the outside watching while you've been forced to be on centre stage.

While the book is fast-paced, there were some parts where the story slowed, like the beginning. It took a little to get into the story, to get into Eve's head as she got into Aurora's head. There's also the ghost aspect which sort of takes this book into the realm of the paranormal, but it didn't for me. It felt expected, that Liza's ghost was bound to haunt Aurora when she returned, imposter or not.

Still, in a market where there doesn't seem to be a lot of YA contemporary mysteries like the author's previous Rosebush or the upcoming Ten by Gretchen McNeil, this book holds up as a thrilling tale that will keep readers guessing who's the culprit. At the very end, even I was surprised.

(I own a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (84)

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

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Penguin

From Goodreads:

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war. In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable--they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash's long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they're caught, they'll be executed--but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

Who doesn't like it when flowers explode? ;) This book sounds dark and weird, and I think I want dark and weird right now. I also think I want a book that will wreck me the way Shatter Me and The Space Between wrecked me last year and how Above wrecked me this year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Me on Croak

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fed up with her wild behaviour, Lex's parents send her off to upstate New York to spend the summer with her uncle, hoping a few months of hard farm work will straighten her out. But then Lex learns that Uncle Mort is a Grim Reaper and that he's going to teach her the family business. It doesn't take long for Lex to fit in with the other young Reapers in town, but whenever she comes across someone who's been murdered, she wants to go after the person who did it. Plus, someone's been killing people who aren't supposed to die. If she finds out who's going the killing, will it stop, or will she join in?

Croak is creepy and dark with loads of snark and humour mixed in. The world Lex is introduced to is so complicated, but then death is rather complicated. The book starts off slowly, introducing the outrageously complex and rough character that Lex is, then you start working your way into the story, into the strange town that is Croak, and then it's like a rush straight towards the end.

Lex is something of a badass. She's rough, she's belligerent, she swears like a trucker, but there's a massive load of snark and sass hidden underneath the hoodie. She definitely has some baggage, has her own opinions about the world, her own sense of right and wrong, and being in Croak will be the biggest lesson she could learn over a summer.

What interested me the most in this book is the twist on grim reapers. Using grim reapers as characters in popular literature and culture is intriguing in that it gives death a face, gives us something tangible to focus on when faced with death. The idea that there is a group, hidden from society, going around taking our souls before we die, sounds impossible, but there's so much we don't know about death, about what happens after death. Saying people are involved, saying there are grim reapers, normal people who travel around and see our last moments, is both whimsical and lightly macabre.

There's also a fair amount of teenagers dealing with violence and death in this book. Sometimes, life isn't perfect, some teens don't have happy families with parents and siblings and white picket fences. But there's still the chance for them to live their own lives, to come together with teens from other situations because they have certain skills. The group of friends that Lex makes in this book is like a family of sorts. Sure, they're all reapers and deal with death on a daily basis, but family is family.

A wry look at death while still fighting to stay alive. Well, if you can't mix humour and death and end up with a great story, what's the point?

(I own a copy of this book.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 23 - Richelle Mead

Yesterday was the last stop on Richelle Mead's tour for The Golden Lily. It's not the first time I've seen Richelle, I was at a writer's conference a few years ago and watched her speak about writing and urban fantasy and YA, but this is the first time I got books signed by her.

Like most signings, the set up was to have her read and talk, then answer questions, then sign books. I showed up a couple hours before the event started. I heard some girls showed up at 9am. Before the bookstore opened. Hardcore fans or what. I think I was about 12th in line (and was the end of the line for a good almost half hour), but then people started to show up around noon-ish and soon the line grew and grew. My guess would be between 100 and 150 people showed up, maybe closer to the high end. Less than Cassie Clare and Holly Black, more than Tahereh Mafi, maybe around the same as Marissa Meyer or the Smart Chicks Tour.
So, this is how close I was. How awesome. And no one was sitting directly in front of me. Weird. If the people who didn't get seats knew that, someone would've rushed up and taken it.

Richelle showed up looking all pretty. Curse you, authors and all your pretty. She said she was going to show up in jeans and her husband said, "You're going to another country, you have to look nice," or something along those lines. Pffft, we're not picky. ;) Then she read from The Golden Lily, a part from Chapter 12 when (plot point spoiler) Sydney and Adrian go to the self-defence class. So funny.
Then she answered a bunch of audience questions, some of which I tweeted yesterday but some I didn't. She knew there would be a spin-off series about halfway through the Vampire Academy series, she thought Sydney was interesting, and she knew Adrian would need his own series. She describes her writing style as very dialogue-heavy and full of pop culture references. There's going to be a Rose/Dimitri short story in an anthology soon and has to do with "prophecy." Her own desire to write keeps her writing, she'll look back at the books she's had published and feels happy, and she likes seeing readers and fans who make her want to write a better book. There's no movie news, but there's a production company trying to shop it around (the market might be a bit too vampire-heavy right now). She doesn't listen to music while writing, she'll get distracted by the lyrics, but listen to music when driving and thinking about the book is fine.
Her advice to writers is to write what you want to without caring what others might think and to keep writing every day because it can be hard to write again after taking a break. She always wanted to write, you read enough books and sometimes you get the desire to write your own, but she felt she needed to be older and a little disciplined before writing such a sprawling story like the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series and her other series. She outlines the entire series so she knows how each book will end and how the series will end, then outlines each book meticulously. There was only one ending for Last Sacrifice, it didn't suddenly change halfway through the series. There aren't any characters based off people she knows, but she did once know a guy who dressed like Abe dresses. There might be similarities between Mason (from Vampire Academy) and Micah (from Bloodlines) but they're not secretly related or anything. And she brought Mason back to mess with Eddie's head. ;)

Then came the signing portion of the event. I only had two books with me, my copy of Vampire Academy and a copy of The Golden Lily that I bought there.
I looked through the pictures that one of the employee-helper-people took and I have the same pose in (almost) all of them. *sigh* Sad face. Stupid Lindsay, stop sticking your hand up into your neck.
Richelle noticed that my paperback copy of Vampire Academy has the old cover (before they invested some money in them, her words (how cheeky)) and I told her that when I bought copies of Frostbite and Shadow Kiss, the covers changed so I have two old covers and the rest all new covers. Oh, publishing. Don't ever change.

Thanks so much to Chapters for the event, for Penguin Canada for bringing her up here, and to Richelle for being awesome. :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Haul (8)

Sorry about the lack of reviews this past week. I needed a break and I had no review buffer. Well, I had a couple unposted reviews, but you guys know me. The earliest before the release date that I'll post a review is about 2 weeks. I wasn't about to post reviews in mid-June for books coming out in August.

Earlier today was Richelle Mead's signing in Burnaby for The Golden Lily. An event recap post will go up either tomorrow or on Monday. All the bloggers were there. Well, no. Some of the bloggers were there. ;) I'd hoped to pick up a copy of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers but they didn't have any.

I've been in such a slump lately, and it's bugging the *#@^ out of me. Like, I have books to read, and I have books to read to review, but it takes me a bit to get into them. *sigh* I'm going to the library on Monday, maybe I'll find some good stuff. Give me some recs, people. YA and maybe some MG and graphic novels and even some manga.

And, if you're at ALA this weekend or happen to have an extra, I'll like/love you forever and pay you back if you've got a spare ARC of The Raven Boys. If not, no worries. :)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (bought at the event so it's all signed and pretty, and I got my copy of Vampire Academy signed)

The Girl with Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti (from Penguin Canada/Razorbill) (When it arrived, I wasn't sure why it was sent, then I realized that the Razorbill site has that 'Get It First' page where you can request an advance copy and people are randomly picked to get their choice and this was the book I picked.)

To review: Spark, Endlessly, The Goddess Legacy, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, The Blood Keeper, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo RedeemedMeant to Be, Tune and Altered. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (83)

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

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion

From Goodreads:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Doesn't this sound like it'll be all kinds of awesome? Who doesn't like books about libraries? This sound so mysterious and so interesting. I can't wait to read it. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Haul (7)

Almost all the books I got this week came on Wednesday. If there's a Wednesday when I don't get books, the other people in my house (meaning, my family) think something's wrong.

Is it summer yet? Last year was crap, so it already feels more like summer than last year, but considering I live in the Pacific Northwest, summer isn't always that awe-inspiring. There's usually one really hot week where the humidity spikes a bit, then it mostly sunny and some random rain. Or there's last year when it was mostly cloudy and rainy until August for a week or two.

So, because I don't have a lot of summer releases and because I've got a lot of books to read that I haven't been in the mood to read, next week will be a bit of a hiatus. I might be around on Twitter, but there won't be any new reviews.

I hear ALA is happening soon and then ComicCon. There's been talk of maybe going to the midwinter conference in late January. Seattle's only 2 and a half hours away, it's doable. And it seems like it would be the only chance for me to go to something like ALA or BEA for the next few years (unless I find a willing proxy who's ok with picking up an ARC or two for me).

I updated the 'books/ARCs available to a good home' list and added a few titles I wouldn't mind reading. It's just a suggestion.

Next weekend is the Richelle Mead signing. It makes me wonder what I should do with my ARC. I've got published copies of the Vampire Academy books (one signed that I won) but ARCs of the Bloodlines series. So. Hmmm. Should I get the ARC signed but take my finished copy of Vampire Academy as well? Do you want my ARC? Will you trade for it? Like, for an ARC of The Raven Boys? (Or can I bribe someone going to ALA to see if they can get me an ARC of The Raven Boys? Or can I just borrow it? I'm totally okay with borrowing it. Odds are if you let me borrow it, I'll read it the day it comes then send it right back.)
Crewel by Gennifer Albin (from Kathy who picked it up for me at BEA and got it signed, so excited about this one)
Altered by Jennifer Rush (from Hachette Book Group Canada) (my first ARC for 2013, if the release date doesn't change)
The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton (from Random House through NetGalley)
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (from Random House through NetGalley)

Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe

To review list: Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, The Goddess Legacy, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, The Blood Keeper, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo RedeemedMeant to Be, Tune and Altered. :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Me on Soulbound

Title: Soulbound
Author: Heather Brewer
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

In Tril, there are Barrons who fight the war against the evil Graplar King and Healers who heal the Barrons. Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. At the Shadow Academy, it's against protocol for Healers to be trained to fight. So Kaya learns in secret, but there are barriers. Like the Barron she becomes Bound to, a guy who follows the rules, the golden boy of the Academy. Like the mysterious instructor seemingly hellbent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Only one of them will agree to train her, and once that happens, the consequences could change everything.

Soulbound is action-packed and mysterious, a fantasy novel that feels like a fantasy novel in terms of world building and society but without a lot of magic. Still, the author makes up for the lack of spells and magical powers with Barrons and Healers, with connections, with being Bound and being Soulbound.

Kaya ends up on a journey she doesn't want to take. From her parents' home, from the only life she's known, from hiding that she's a Healer born to two Barrons, to the Shadow Academy, to being treated like something precious with kid gloves, to being told her life's purpose is to heal the Barron she's Bound to. And she doesn't want that, she doesn't want to be helpless. She doesn't want to be told that if something goes wrong in a life or death situation, she doesn't need to learn how to keep herself alive. And she doesn't really know what to do with the two new guys in her life, one who likes her and one who constantly rubs her the wrong way. It made for some fun exchanges between her and each guy.

There's some interesting world building in this book. Fantasy often seems more complex than urban fantasy or contemporary in terms of world building. Sure, authors can base the setting off of actual places and events, but they still have to craft everything else from the ground up, from societal norms and rules to class structure to units of money and measurement to buildings and languages and names and terms.

There was one thing that kept be from liking this book more than I could've, and that's how the Academy that Kaya is sent to kept having this high school feel because of one character in particular, a jealous pretty girl who wants what/who she can't have. Everything else in this book was interesting, but this one girl bothered me too much. It's a little upsetting when one character has a knack of spoiling the parts of the book she's in. It's a good thing Maddox was there to provide some slightly bitter girl sass, her I liked.

There might've been less magic than I've come to expect from a fantasy, but maybe this was like a wake-up, that fantasy doesn't have to be packed with magical abilities. There's still being Bound and being Soulbound, and the differences between Barrons and Healers, as well as an intriguing setting and an ending that blew everything Kaya thought she knew straight out the window.

(I received an advance copy to review from Penguin Canada.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (82)

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

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Gena Showalter
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

From Goodreads:

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

I've rather enjoyed the books that HarlequinTeen has been publishing in the past couple of years (like The Goddess Test, On a Dark Wing, Dark Kiss, and Inside Out), and this sounds like it'll be just as interesting. All the zombie books I've read so far have had their tweaks and differences, so I'm looking forward to reading this one to see how the author will put her own spin on zombies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Me on This is Not a Test

Title: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Six students have taken cover in Cortege High School, but shelter is little comfort when the dead won't stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes. Then you're dead, and you come back as something monstrous. To Sloane, that doesn't sound so bad, since her world ended six months ago and she failed to find a reason to keep on going. As she waits for the barricades to fall, she's forced to witness this apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways, and soon the group's fate is determined less by what's happening outside and more by the unpredictable bids for life and death inside the school. Because, when everything is gone, what do you hold onto?

This Is Not a Test is a book that sticks with you long after you finish reading it. It starts off so sad and dismal, so depressing and hopeless, but then it starts, like a gunshot, like a lightning strike, and the race starts. The race to survive.

At the beginning, being in Sloane's head is like being trapped in a fog. Everything is slow, hazy, like trying to walk through thick mud while everyone around her is moving a hundred miles an hour and the clock is ticking. It's so intriguing to see the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a depressed and most likely suicidal teenage girl. But then you think about it, and Sloane is actually the perfect narrator for the situation: a person who doesn't want to live surrounded by both those with the desire to survive as well as the walking dead.

This book is so complex. It's all about survival, about how far we will go to survive. It's all about trust, about who you can trust, about how you trust when the world is falling apart around you. Where do you draw the line, trusting one person but not another? Who do you trust when they both want to keep on living and you don't? What if you have nothing left? What good is trusting someone when you want to give up?

The nothingness, the waiting for something to happen, for someone to come, the self-imposed semi-isolation from the outside world. It will drive you mad.

This book can be bleak and heartbreaking, waiting for something or for nothing, hoping you don't hear them on the other side of the barrier, but this book is also about what you find during the waiting, during the hopelessness. What you can find when you don't have anything left, what's hidden out where in the nothingness. It could be anything. Maybe a reason to survive, to keep fighting, to keep living. Sometimes, you can find life hidden out in the death.

(I received an e-galley of this book from Macmillan through Raincoast Books.)

Q&A with Courtney Summers

Am I taking part in another blog tour? Why, yes. :) And, once again, it involves a Canadian author and her new book. I think I've been typecast. ;)

When Raincoast Books asked if bloggers were interested in taking part in a Canadian blog tour for Courtney Summers' new book This Is Not a Test, I jumped at the chance. Courtney has a way of writing emotional contemporary YA that cuts deep, and this book is no different. Except for the zombies. That's right, Courtney's new book has zombies. And it's awesome. :)
As part of the blog tour, I got the chance to ask Courtney some questions. Now, I did something possibly foolish and didn't ask about the book. At all. Honestly, if most of the questions she answered weren't about writing, This Is Not a Test, or any of her other books, I'd be surprised. I blame Crystal at Raincoast Books, her e-mail said to ask unique questions. And so I asked bizarre questions that had nothing to do with the book. Thankfully, Courtney was awesome and still answered everything. :) I hope Courtney doesn't think I'm weird. Well, too weird.

Q: What is your favourite pop culture (TV/movie/comic book/book/video game) zombie?

A: I LOVE the zombies in the game Left 4 Dead even though they're more zombie-like than actual zombies.  I used to hate zombies that mutated until I started playing that game and now I'm receptive to them.  :)  The Taaaaank! is particularly horrifying.

Q: What is your favourite video game? (doesn't have to be zombie-related)

A: I have three because I'm a cheater because it would be impossible for me to pick just one.  The first was mentioned above:  Left 4 Dead/Left 4 Dead 2.  I like the campaigns and look of the first but prefer the characters in the second.  Portal 2, because the gameplay is amazing and GLaDOS is one of the best villains of all time and finally, Alan Wake because it's so atmospheric and moody and creepy and the story gets me every time. That ending--wow!  I also love Mirror's Edge.  Okay, that was four.

Q: What is the one scary/horror movie you would recommend above all others?

A: This is one of the toughest questions I have ever been asked so I am going to cheat again and name more than one.  The Changeling is one of the spookiest ghost stories I've ever seen--I still can't watch it at night--and One Missed Call was my introduction to J-Horror and it scares me on repeated viewings too.  So does Ju-On: The Grudge, which I totally recommend.  And one of my all-time favourite scary movies is the original Pulse. It's not conventionally scary but it's unsettling and beautiful and lonely.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best weapon against a zombie attack (both one-on-one and a horde)?

A: Probably a gun for the one-on-one and an ultra-weaponized, reinforced vehicle of some kind for a horde.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best plan of attack against vegetarian zombies?

A: Vegetarian zombies!  Hmmm... since they'd pose little threat to humans, I imagine booby-trapping gardens would be the way to go.  That's what a vegetarian zombie is, right?  Undead who rove around looking for fresh produce?  :)  If it's more like the 28 Days Later kind of zombies where they don't eat you so much as just tear you apart in a fit of anger, then my answer is there is no best plan of attack.  We are totally doomed. So I really hope you meant the first kind.  :)

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Lindsay!

Thanks so much to Courtney for answering my non-book-related questions. ;) This Is Not a Test comes out on June 19, so spend the next week waiting desperately on the edge of your seat so you can go buy a copy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Haul (6)

Did I get books this week???? Why, yes I did. Hooray for stop-gap measures. ;)

If you know me, you'll know that I do this volunteer spot for a week in August at the Vancouver Public Library. I'm doing it again this year. :) It looks a little different than last year, but then last year was a little different than the year before.

Did everyone see the new cover of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me? It's gorgeous. And I will totally admit that while the first cover was nice, I didn't totally get it. Looking at the new cover, I realize that this isn't a 'girl in a dress on the cover' series. Isn't it pretty? I'll so be getting a copy when it comes out in October.
Kathy tweeted me Tuesday night to let me know she was able to get a copy of Gennifer Albin's Crewel for me at BEA. Then she told me Genn signed it. Awwww. Last year BEA sucked because I was at home still hobbling around in the air cast. This year it sucked because I won't be in New York until September. (My mom bought the tennis tickets, so we're actually going.)

So, while I'm off in New York for that first week of September, I'll probably have some scheduled reviews go up, but I won't be taking my laptop with me. Hopefully, there will be Wi-Fi at a bunch of places so I won't be totally cut off from Twitter and e-mail (like, not just at the hotel).
The Goddess Legacy by Aimée Carter (from Harlequin through NetGalley)

Borrowed from the library:
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Savage Grace by Bree Despain
In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

To review: Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, The Goddess Legacy, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Me on Flirting in Italian

Title: Flirting in Italian
Author: Lauren Henderson
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

It wasn't hard for Violet to convince her mother to spend the summer in Italy: she thinks it's for university applications. But Violet's on a mission to discover the identity of a young Italian noble who's portrait was painted in the late 1700's. A girl with Violet's face. Maybe there's some kind of connection between them. Settling in at the Villa Barbiano, she meets her fellow students, two brash American girls and an English scholarship student, as well as the bitter daughter of the woman running the class and more than a few handsome Italian boys. A summer full of romance and mystery awaits Violet, and she's determined to discover the secrets of the girl in the painting, no matter what the cost.

Flirting in Italian is a fun and entertaining look at a teenage girl's summer in Italy. Violet centers the book, giving readers glimpses of her own adventures and encounters as well as those close to her. The book starts off with a rather intriguing mystery, this portrait of an unknown young woman by an unknown painter, but it seems to fade into the background by the introduction of new friends, spiteful Italian girls, and attractive Italian boys. As annoying as a character's motivation for taking action disappearing can be, there was still some mystery and intrigue, enough to keep me reading.

Her first time meeting Kendra and Paige felt a little clichéd. Not all American girls who head off to Europe are loud, obnoxious, and opinionated, but it's a popular stereotype. Besides, say you're taking a trip to Italy with a friend for two months. Who wouldn't be loud and excited?

It took a little while for me to get comfortable with this book. It's possible that's because I expected something different from this book. Before I started, I thought it would be back and forth point of views with Violet, Kelly, Paige, and Kendra and their adventures in Italy. Then I thought it would be Violet and her three new friends investigating the mystery of the painting. It turned into a book with Violet's point of view of their finishing school-esque stay in Italy with a little mystery here and there.

There's a clear difference between Violet and Kelly, Kendra and Paige, and the Italians that they meet. There's a bit of a laissez-faire sensation with the boys, rather, a bit of an over-excited sensation. They're rather loud and enthusiastic, the young men the girls meet, rather boisterous and led around by hormones. I hope it's not an overblown cliché or stereotype. There's also the more comfortable attitude with teenagers drinking alcohol, but it is Europe.

The story was fun, I was drawn in, I didn't not want to keep reading it, but there were some spots that confused me. First, the painting. I wanted some more research into the painting. Perhaps I wanted a little Nancy Drew in Italy. Second, the ending. While, in a sense, it is an ending, it's an ending that sets up for an obvious sequel or companion book and leaves a fair number of questions unanswered.

That being said, even with the issues I had, it's still a good story if you're looking for contemporary YA set in Europe in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss or The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love. Some readers might have an issue or two with the language, the narrator (and the author, for that matter) are British and there was a term or two I had to look up, but other than that, it should be smooth sailing. Also, the copious amount of attractive Italian boys that appear in this book would bring a smile to many a teenage girl's face.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (81)

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

Title: The Forsaken
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: S&S Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

A thought-provoking and exciting start to a riveting new dystopian trilogy.

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

The cover looks rather old-fashioned, or at least something out of the 1980's. Like, science fiction book covers from the 80's. Maybe it's just me. Still, this sounds rather interesting. (Makes me wish I knew who to contact at S&S Canada about review copies.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Me on The Golden Lily

Title: The Golden Lily
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Tough, brainy Alchemist Sydney and doe-eyed vampire princess Jill are still hiding out in Palm Springs at a human boarding school. Their fellow students, spoiled children of the wealthy and powerful elite, carry on in ignorance as Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian do everything they can to keep their secret hidden. That Jill's a vampire princess hidden away to keep her alive. But with some forbidden relationships and dangerous threats, keeping a secret is harder than expected. This time around, Sydney's got even more on her plate, like questioning the motives of the Alchemists, like dealing with a possible new threat to everyone's safety, like maybe figuring out what to do when a guy asks you out.

Second in the series, The Golden Lily doesn't fail to disappoint for loyal fans of both this and the previous Vampire Academy series. Readers will be tossed straight back into Sydney's story, complete with all her issues and neuroses, her uneasiness over her Moroi friends drinking blood, her gradual acceptance that perhaps not all vampires shouldn't be trusted.

What makes reading this series so much is Sydney. She's smart, she's interesting, she's got morals. Apart from the Alchemist knowledge, she's rather plain, there's nothing super about her, she's not fashionable or outgoing, but it's the other aspects of her character that make her enjoyable. It's the multiple internal and external conflicts that she's mixed up in, the fact that the Alchemists want to use her to keep tabs on the vampires, the fact that she's liking Jill and Eddie and Adrian more than the Alchemists, the fact that the Alchemists are keeping secrets from her that might get her killed. It's all about instinct now, which feelings to trust, which people to trust.

The biggest surprise in this new installment is the prospect of Sydney getting a boyfriend. Considering the fact that she's more focused on schoolwork and the job at hand, you know she'll be flustered and ever so confused when she doesn't know how to proceed with a guy that likes her.

The side characters like Jill and Eddie and all the others are so fleshed out and flawed, and such a contrast to Sydney's practicality. It's the vampire's ability to control the elements, to use magic, that's at odds with Sydney's Alchemist nature to only believe in something when she sees it.

This is what I expect from Richelle Mead: interesting and outrageously complicated characters, something insidious hiding in the shadows, conflict upon conflict upon conflict, revenge and betrayal, loyalties stretched to the breaking point, romantic entanglements and love rectangles and polygons. Fan will relish this new story, and also be left clamoring for more.

(I received an advance copy to review from Penguin Canada.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Me on This Week's Book(less) Haul (5)

 If I hadn't gotten a declined e-mail from NetGalley on Friday, I'd have gotten 1 book to review this week. And I'll totally say what book it was for, it was the short story collection The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton. *sigh* Be warned, I might get punchy in this week's post.

Reviews of two debuts went up this week, Catherine Knutsson's Shadows Cast By Stars and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, if you're interested in either of those titles. Note to authors: no more "shadow" in your book's title. I think "shadow" is 2012's most popular word in the title of a YA novel.

The lack of books in these posts comes from me not requesting, but it's the age old problem of never knowing what to request. It's a mix of guessing how far in advance to ask and if it was a title that the Canadian office was lucky enough to get copies of. I want to know what you've been requesting, people (especially those in Canada). Most of the time I ask I'm too late or they weren't sent any from the US. What month should I be looking at? August? September? October? I'd kill for an ARC of The Raven Boys or What's Left of Me or The Friday Society. (This is why I wish I was going to BEA. ALA in January is sounding rather interesting these days.)

Oh, week leading up to BEA, I hate you almost as much as the week of BEA. If I'd known months ago that my mom wanted to go to NYC, I would've suggested we go now and work in a day or two of BEA as opposed to September to see some tennis. Oh, well. :)

*sigh* I guess it's one of those weird depressive weeks or something. :)

EDIT: This post is now a bit misleading. I was out this afternoon, stopped at a bookstore, and picked up an on sale early copy of Shadows Cast By Stars. :)

To review: Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Endlessly, Glitch, Touched, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Unspoken, Yesterday, Velveteen, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Me on Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan imprint)

Alina Starkov had never really been good at anything. When her regiment is attacked on the Fold, the darkness that cuts her country in two, and her best friend is injured, she reveals a power that could be the key to setting her country free. Soon, she's whisked off to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Only nothing in her lavish new world is as it seems, and with darkness looming, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha as well as those inside her.

Shadow and Bone is a dark and mysterious book. Mystically dangerous and deceptive, it's all about hidden abilities and relying on inner strength as opposed to outer beauty, about being in control of your power and not living as the tool of another.

Alina doesn't want to be special or different, she just wants to survive and not end up another casualty of the Fold. I didn't have a problem with that part of her character, sometimes people just want to be normal, sometimes there are parts of ourselves that we don't want to acknowledge, that we don't want to be exploited, but there were times when I wished she had more spine. The self-confident kind, as opposed to the shield that made her mouthy but you could still see the fragile girl underneath. Also, her thinking that being pretty would solve some of her problems rubbed me the wrong way. Sometimes, beauty only makes things worse.

In the beginning, things seemed to go by quickly and I wasn't bogged down by unnecessary information, but sometimes that can be bad. A story can be written too simply. I found this book to be smoothly written, it didn't take me that long to read it, but I imagine there will be some who find the story or the writing too simple for their tastes.

The world-building was intriguing, the different types of Grisha and their powers, the country and the Shadow Fold, the bitter cold winter. It was obvious to me that the author drew on Russian history for the world-building, even though it's not a subject I'm familiar with, so in that way the book was interesting and rather atmospheric.

For a reason I can't put my finger on, reading this reminded me of reading fantasy novels when I was a teenager. Devouring every word in the span of a few hours, getting lost in a strange world on a dangerous journey with a character struggling to make sense of what sets her apart from those around her.

(I received an advance copy from Raincoast Books.)