October 29, 2011

Becca Fitzpatrick & Elizabeth Miles


  I drove like a crazy woman to make this event on time and I'm so glad that I did. I was a bit shocked at the turnout- there was no seating left when I arrived and a secondary line had started 2 hours before I even got there. The event was at 7 and apparently there were some people who had been there since 3 that afternoon.

I love the feeling in the air at a book event. The excitement, everyone sharing their love for the same thing.

  It wasn't long too wait before I the authors came out, and it was at that time that my camera decided to go nuts. I could sometimes take a picture and sometimes not... My friend has all the pics I had taken with Elizabeth Miles on her phone, so as soon as she sends them to me, I'll post them here. 
        I also took some video footage below that you can also watch over at the Ontario Blog Squad Blog. 


video




Elizabeth Miles author of Fury was fabulous! She was funny and you could tell how thrilled she was to be at the event. I truly adore her, and totally lost all ability to speak intelligently when I went up to meet her.




October 26, 2011

Book Review: Darkfall Review and Q & A with Janice Hardy

Darkfall (Healing Wars, #3)

Darkfall by Janice Hardy -Healing Wars #3
Published by HarperCollins Oct 4th 2011
Hardcover 336 Pages
Reviewed from ARC provided by the author

Summary
Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.

With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.

The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.

To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?

I can't say enough how much I love this series. Strong female protagonist, in junior fiction with definite cross over appeal for young adults.  Nya is a such a wonderful main character. I connected with her in Shifter (the first book in the series) and feel like I've watched her grow and develop through these past two books. 

  Still  on the run from the Duke, Nya is thrown into the role of being "hero" and "saviour" for everyone and all she wants to do is save her sister and her friends. She finds out quickly that playing the role of hero can come with unexpected responsibilities and consequences. The characters in this series are so well developed that I began to feel like we were old friends, and when I turned the final page of Darkfall, I was sad that it was over.          One aspect that I wish the author had developed more was the relationship between Daniello and Nya. Their friendship showed signs of becoming more...I could feel it as I read but "more" didn't happen. Maybe it's a good thing? Maybe every book has love develop too quickly and easily? I really wanted a relationship for these two though, they're perfect together.
 The Healing Wars trilogy hasn't garnered a whole lot attention in the Blogger world, but it definitely deserves attention. Compelling and well written. Highly recommended.

The Shifter (Healing Wars, #1)Blue Fire (Healing Wars, #2)Darkfall (Healing Wars, #3)

I was fortunate to be able to talk Janice Hardy about her series:


1. When did the idea for the Healing Wars series come to you?

I was playing around with common fantasy ideas, trying to see how I could turn them on their heads and do something different. During that time, I went to see the first X-Men movie. One of the characters is named Rogue, who is my favourite superhero, and her power is that she accidentally absorbs other people’s powers when she touches them. I left the movie thinking, “wow, what if you did that with healing? Accidentally healed people when you touched them?”

2. What was your inspiration for writing about healing vs. Pain?

It was that “what if?” idea that really got me thinking about the world and how this magic would work. It was a long process, spread out over several years (my first idea was terrible and got stuck in a drawer for a long time). The thing that really intrigued me though, was that (at that time) healing is almost always portrayed as something positive. I’d never seen any real downsides to it. I wondered what the negatives might be, and could something as good as healing be used for evil. Once I figured out this society bought and sold pain like other goods, the whole thing started coming together.

3. Did you know it would be a trilogy when you began writing? Anyway I can convince you to write more about Nya and Danello?:)

The series idea came to me about halfway through THE SHIFTER. I hadn’t planned on doing a series, but I saw a larger story arc developing that could turn into a trilogy. It started out a one girl’s struggle to save her sister in a dangerous and difficult world, and ended up being a story about a girl who saves her world. The more Nya got drawn into the troubles of her society the more she had to act and do something about it. I had no choice but to go along for that ride.
Folks do ask me about more Nya stories, and while I have no plans right now to do them, if I thought of a new place for the story to go I’d write it. I might do some fun short stories though. Cover some history the books don’t really get into.

4. If there was one thing you hope readers will take away with them after reading your books, what would it be?

That was a great story. I wish I had more profound hopes, but for me it’s all about the storytelling. My favourite authors always whisk me away into their stories, and I love the feeling I get when I finish a fantastic book. I want to give that same feeling to my readers. If they take more away than that, it’s a bonus.

5. Can you tell us what your next project might be?

I’m nearly done with a YA fantasy about an undercover spy. It’s been fun because the protagonist is very different from Nya in how she solves her problems. Nya is all impulse, the new girl is all calculation. 

6. Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

Let’s see… I just redesigned the website, and you can find some extras up there now. Maps and covers from the foreign editions of the books. Very shortly, I’ll also have some deleted scenes from the books. You’ll be able to read the original ending for THE SHIFTER, and one of my favourite scenes from BLUE FIRE that just didn’t work after revisions.

Thanks so much Janice for stopping by my blog! 

For more information about Janice and The Healing Wars Trilogy, please visit her website:

You can read my thoughts on The Shifter and Blue Fire, by clicking on the title links.

October 25, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Halloween Reads


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous Broke and the Bookish. 
This week's topic is Top Ten Book to Read for Halloween.

My List:

Room on the BroomI Don't Want to Be a Pea!Dark At The Top Of The StairsPumpkin TroubleThe Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)Cryer's CrossChokerThe Tommyknockers

1. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson. This is a favourite picture book of mine that I look forward to sharing every year.

2. Double Spell by Janet Lunn. I read this when I was 10 and had such nightmares. I don't remember too much about it, other than it scared me.

3. I Don't Want to Be a Pea by Ann Bonwill. This is new and fabulous. Hugo Hippo and Bella Bird can't decide on what they will dress-up as for the costume party- adorable pictures and story.

4. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam McBratney. A classic story with an interesting twist-can you guess what's terrifying the mice and is at the top of the stairs?

5. Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas. I love this series of picture books by this author. Bright bold illustrations and simple text! 

6. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Oh how I love this series. They always gross me out, (i have a bit of a weak stomach) but I love Carrie's writing style.

7. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann. I still have images popping up in my head from this story...it played like a movie in my mind as I read....maybe I should stay away from creepy, scary books.

8. Choker by Elizabeth Woods. Another one that still pops up in my mind every now and then. Good but creepy.

9. & 10. TommyKnockers and SilverBullet by Stephen King. Does anyone write scarier than Stephen King? He's a gifted story teller but I have to say I wish I hadn't read these ones. I was in my early teens and they totally freaked me out!

What are you reading this Halloween?


October 23, 2011

Book Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Collins October 4th 2011
Hardcover 304 Pages
Reviewed from ARC provided by the publisher

Summary
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
I'm not sure how I'll write a review that will do this book justice. It's also hard to write my thoughts on it knowing how personal this book was to to the author.

    I connected to the characters immediately. Liesl was lovely. Positive, considering all the trauma she had recently been through. Forced to live in an attic alone after the passing of her father. Locked up by her stepmother, she has only her memories to keep her company. Until Po and Bundle  appear in her room one night, it's the memories of her father keep her going, his love and belief in her. Po is from "the other side" and Lisel hopes this means that he might be able to contact her father, that she might be able to say the things to him, she never got to say.
Contrast that with Will. An apprentice to an abusive magician, like Liesl he's alone in the world. They never would have crossed paths if it weren't for the wooden boxes. One containing the "most powerful magic in the world" the other carrying the ashes of Lisel's father.The adventure that ensues is one of friendship, sacrifice and love.

  Lisel and Po feels like a classic. It feels older than it is and I was reminded of the feelings I had reading books like The Little Princess, and the Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. The feeling that you know you are reading something timeless, and special. One thing that really stood out for me were certain words that were repeated in the book...the  word ineffable -which means "to incredible to describe" this is a word that Lisel grew up hearing while sharing moments with her father.  Will grew up hearing the word "useless" and it takes helping Lisel for him to realize his true worth.

    Lauren is a wonderful storyteller, gifted with ability to weave such beautiful words together. The illustrations and cover fit the tone and mood of the story.There is a lot of emotion between the lines of the story and I'm so grateful that Lauren shared it with us. Lisel and Po has appeal for girls and boys and would be a great choice for a read-aloud in a middle grade class or to share at home. Highly recommended.









October 15, 2011

A bookshelf/office tour

Hey Guys,

I've been working on and talking about my new office for a while, and I finally did a video about how awesome I think it is....please visit and let me know what you think:)
(sorry for the jumpiness and sound....I will get the hang of filming at some point)


video

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard


Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard
Published by Harper Collins October 11th 2011
352 Pages
Reviewed from ARC provided by the publisher

Summary
How do you choose between your family and your history?

A late-night phone call on a Sunday evening rarely brings good news. So when Sylvie, a recently-widowed mother of two, receives a call from the head teacher of the school she's on the board of, she knows it won't be something she wants to hear. The school was founded by her grandfather, and she's inherited everything he strived to build up - a reputation, a heritage, the school and the grand old family house. And with this inheritance comes responsibility.So when her son Scott is whispered to be involved in a scandal that led to the death of one of the boys he coaches at the school, it throws the family into chaos: Sylvie has to decide between her loyalty to the school that has been part of her family legacy for years and her son who she feels wants nothing to do with her. She starts spying on the dead boy's father, making an unlikely connection.Sara Shepard's compelling new novel tells how hard it can be to really, truly connect to people, how making quick, easy judgments can come back to haunt you, and how the life you always planned for - and always dreamed of - often doesn't always turn out the way 
you  imagined at all...

    I am a Sara Shepard fan. I really enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series. Fast paced page turners are frequently the books that I love the most. There are a few "slower-moving" stories that I have relished reading as well. Stories whose plot, character development or language draw me in. Unfortunately, Everything We Ever Wanted just wasn't one of those books.
   The book has a lot of things going for it. Strong character development and an interesting storyline, and I had to finish it to find out what happened. I just wasn't able to connect with the characters. I felt apathetic to their lives and problems.  The one character I cared about was Scott, I wanted to know the role he played (if any) in the boys death. I wanted things to work out for him. When I think more about it I wanted life to work out for Joanna too. I really wanted to love this one, and there were moments when I thought the pace would pick up but overall it fell flat for me.

October 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the 1st Time

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's top ten list is:

Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again 
for the 1st Time

My list:

1. Harry Potter (The Series) by JK Rowling. I bet this will be on many lists today but who wouldn't like to experience the magic in those books unfolding for the first time.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I love to re-read this one, but it will never feel the same as when I first read it.

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. My new favourite.

5.The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. 

6. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Di Camillo. The very last page still tears my heart out no matter how many times I read it.

7. One Foot in the Grave by Jeanine Frost. Chapter 32 -need I say anything else?

8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.

9. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

10. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

This was a hard list to create....I could almost put every book I have ever loved on this list.

Teen Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press October 18 2011
Hardcover 416 Pages
Reviewed from ARC borrowed from a friend.

Summary
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.


Maggie Steifvater posted an entry in her livejournal a few weeks ago that completely moved me. It was about one of the things she hoped readers would takeaway from her books. "Be the Hero in Your Own Life" I printed it out and posted it on my bulletin board in a place where I could see it everyday. 

   While I was reading The Scorpio Races, those words repeated over and over through the characters of Sean and Puck. Both enter the races for seemingly different reasons, but really both are entering to win their freedom. I loved Sean Kendrick, his rough exterior masking his love for Corr. Puck (Kate) was my favourite. Strong, courageous, she fought to save herself and her brothers. Water Horse Mythology was new to me, but I found the thought of these powerful and ruthless animals terrifying and fascinating.

   The writing was incredible. There is a depth, tone and style to Maggie's writing that stands out, and I think I could pick out her writing anywhere. Vivid and dark she gets to the heart of the matter often pulling out my heart in the process. But her words are  beautiful and I felt like I was riding along side Dove and Puck smelling the salt in the air and having the wind rip through me.  Highly recommended.

October 4, 2011

New Favourite Picture Book

I'll be posting a full review on Story-time with Jen soon, but for now -you must check out this new gem by Oliver Jeffers. It has all the things that make a picture book worth reading over, and over and over again. LOVED it. Perfect for your kids at home or to share in storytime.

Stuck


October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox -Crazy Book Buying Binge Edition

In My mailbox is hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren. Each week we are invited to post about the books we received through mail, store or library.

This week I had a 30.00 gift card to spend in a book store, which then lead me to go into the book store....I was unsupervised which is always very dangerous and resulted in what you see below.......

StuckGrandpa GreenVariantA Monster CallsEnthralled: Paranormal DiversionsThe Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)Daughter of Smoke and BoneLola and the Boy Next DoorThe Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)The Faerie RingThe Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3)Harry Potter Schoolbooks: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I think I might have a problem........At some point I think my husband will forgive my insanity.......but I have to tell him in advance now when I plan to go to a book store....:)

What was in your mailbox?

Banned Books Winners

Wow the response was overwhelming!!!! 
Almost 400 entries to the giveaway which is totally a record for this blog!

Because of the response I chose 2 winners instead of just 1.

Congrats to:

Tamara B

&

Amanda K

I'm sending you an email today....please send me your book choices and addresses!

Special Thanks to Kathy and Jen for hosting and organizing the Hop and  thank you to everyone 
who participated.