Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Addicts Haul

Sorry guys I know I haven't been keeping this on schedule -- Must make up a posting schedule like all you other wonderful bloggers

For Review
Thanks Scholatic

Thanks William Morrow and Random House
Thanks TLC Book Tours
From Library
From the sale table at the Shawnessy Public Library
For Smart Chicks Event in Edmonton
For Jeff for Christmas -- shhh don't tell him
From Chapters Shawnessy (My new workplace)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner

Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time
by James Dashner
ISBN: 978-0-545-38696-8
Suggested Ages: 8+
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Buy From Indigo
Online Game

Description: Scholastic's next multi-platform mega-event begins here! History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!

When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel -- a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring -- they're swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.Now it's up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak's missing parents while they're at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny

The Good Stuff
  • Wonderful adventure book for middle school kids 
  • Love the online component to this as it encourages kids to read, learn and have fun
  • Love Dashner's writing style, such a talented storyteller
  • Creative world building
  • Lots of dry humour
  • Characters are well developed and intriguing (And total nerds, how cool is that!)
  • Heads up Library & Bookstore staff -- this will be a big seller
  • Fast paced and exciting
  • Kids will love that they are the ones that are going to save the world (Take that you dumb ass adults LOL)
  • Actually many of the adult characters are helpful and intelligent - nice to see in a middle school book
The Not So Good Stuff
  • As an adult reader, its a tad predictable and the writing is more simplistic -- not a bad thing, but its a book that will appeal more to the intended audience rather than the older reader (hope that makes sense)
  • Not the biggest fan of series written by more than one author - but hey I will read all of Dashner's books no matter and the authors that are taking part are all gifted - so will keep reading
  • Time travel books make my head hurt LOL!
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The world was falling apart and the people in charge of things didn't seem to care. But Dak decided not to let little stuff like that bother him now."

"People still believe what the SQ tells them to believe. Because fear is always more powerful than truth."

"The teenager seemed to have lost some of his arrogance from before. Nothing like an invasion from an evil red-haired lady to shake you up a bit, Dak mused."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Fabulous for the reluctant readers
  • Excellent book for discussing history in a fun way
  • Never read the 39 Clues series, but I imagine if you liked them, this will be up your alley
  • Good for a classroom read
4 Dewey's

I Picked up a copy of this at Book Expo America 2012 (Plus I got to meet him and he was so much fun, didn't get a chance to get my book signed though : (

Mom and Me Mondays: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers
by Dav Pilkey
ISBN: 9780545175340
Suggested Ages: 7+
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Buy from Indigo

Description: Tra-la-laaa! Captain Underpants is back in an all-new epic adventure that's the zaniest, funniest, outrageousest, and time-travelingiest yet!

When we last saw our heroes, George and Harold, they were under arrest and headed for prison. Then Harold foolishly uttered the fateful words "What could be worse than going to jail for the rest of our lives?" and changed the course of human history.

In this ninth epic novel, Dav Pilkey takes readers back in time to the carefree days of kindergarten, when the worst thing George and Harold had to face was NOT evil mad scientists or alien cafeteria ladies but a sixth-grade bully named Kipper Krupp, the nephew of their clueless school principal. And because George and Harold don't actually invent Captain Underpants until fourth grade, the two clever kindergartners are on their own -- using their brains to beat the bully.

Hold on to your UNDERPANTS -- the Captain is back!

Jake's Review:  I think its totally awesome that mom got to meet the dude who wrote Captain Underpants.  The C.U. books were the first set of books I read to myself without my parents help.  I still remember how they used to read them to me at night too when I was a baby -- and btw Mom and Dad used to fight over whose turn it was to read that night (mom used to play the I gave birth to him and it really hurt argument).  This book was really funny and I liked how you found out how George and Harold became friends. The pranks they played on the bullies were hilarious -- but a little scary at times.  I liked the comics that George and Harold created and I think I want to make my own comics now.  The stuff I didn't like was that there were barely any flip o rama's and at times the story was kinda scary and sad.  I can't wait till mom scores me the next book!
Jake's Rating: 8/10

Mom's Review: I have been a huge fan of the Captain Underpants, and Dav Pilkey, since my sister introduced them to me when my son was born. Being the awesome aunt she is, she bought my newborn son the first three books in the series for us to read to him.  Well, we waited till he was 3, but from the first page the whole family was hooked.  We recently introduced them to Jesse, who is 3, and well, another fan is born.  My highlight of going to BEA this year was being introduced to the man himself and receiving a signed copy of this book.  This installment is a wee bit darker than previous stories, but still showcases Pilkey's wonderfuly wickedl sense of humor.  The man truly understands what entertains middle school readers (lots of potty humour and showcasing parents as morons), while at the same time emphasizing the importance of standing up against bullies and what a true friend is.  I enjoyed the back story about how George and Harold became friends and I am now counting down the days until the 10th book comes out. Mr Pilkey -- I love you and hope you enjoy Canada when you come to visit -- Captain Awesome will take good care of ya! (Sorry I cannot make it as my dh dragged me to the other side of the country to live -- and well you know what -- how about you come and visit Calgary too -- we need you out here!)
Mom's Rating: 9/10

I recieved a signed copy at the Captain Underpants event at Book Expo America 2012 (Yes it was my highlight of the event)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

I had so many thoughts and feelings while reading it, I wanted to give the book a fair review, and my ususal style would not reflect accurately. I'm sorry if this review is slightly rambling but I just had so many thoughts while reading. TONS OF SPOILERS. Would love to hear my readers opinion of this book if they have read it. Please comment!

Beautiful Disaster
by Jamie McGuire
Atria (Simon and Schuster)
ISBN: 978-1-4767-1204-8
Suggested Ages: 17+
Buy from Indigo

Description: The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesnt drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needsand wantsto avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abbys resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Traviss apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match

My Thoughts
  • Please remember my thoughts are based on the fact that I am a 42 yr old mom
  • I was a little hesitant to read this one as I had heard so much controversary over the relationship between the two characters
  • My real concern with the relationship is that it is partially romanticized. This couple in real life would be the ones you always here about in the news - you know the murder suicide headline ones
  • Without some serious therapy this relationship will never survive no matter how passionately in love they supposedly are
  • I had heard so much about how horrible Travis that I was actually slightly surprised that I actually had some compassion for him.  I found Abby to be extremely damaged as well,  and some of her behaviour inexcusable and just really frickin stupid (oh don't worry I was also disgusted by Travis on many occasion - the man has control and anger issues - also  hello can anyone say stalker. Girls this is not romantic, this is sick )
  • Abby's parents are so horribly awful, you are not surprised that she is damaged, but it also does not excuse some of the things she does - her reaction after she broke up with Travis and he ended up sleeping with a girl bothered me
  • Found characters were uneven & their actions didn't always fit with who they were supposed to be
  • Honestly - quite true to life at times -- there are many people who have been in this type of situation
  • Think this would be an excellent book for a discussion -- especially with teens
  • America's reaction to break up with her boyfriend because Travis slept with a chick when he and Abby were broken up made me want to slap her upside the  head
  • Would have like more of Kara, she seemed the only one who had any sense
  • If Travis was so damanged by his upbringing - why does he have such a good relationship with his family. Also his Dad comes across as the type of guy who would never beat him (seemed uneven)
  • Travis is controlling and obviously needs some serious help - but he also seems to be trying to be different -- where Abby not so much - honestly really didn't like her
  • Makes kids getting married at 19 seem very romantic and beautiful - and I think we all know ho rare that kind of relationship lasts.
  • Author was a pretty good storyteller which actually kept me interested in reading no matter how disgusted I was by the subject matter (But I won't be reading the sequel btw - please don't send me)
  • Some nice dry humourous parts which also helped keep me reading
  • Did like the constant mentions of condoms - at least they won't procreate and damage more children like their parents obviously damaged them
  • I know this review really focuses on the unhealthy relationship but I was really offended by the romantisizing of it and it affected my enjoyment of the book.
  • Also girls and boys if this is the type of relationship you are in -- get yourself some serious help - please (sorry guys I'm a mom I care about all of you out there)
Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • I think you all know I am very relaxed on what I believe is an  appropriate age for certain YA novels.  In the case of this book I recommend teacher librarians and parents really think if the book is appropriate for each individual teen.  (Hope that makes sense)
  • I would say for the more mature YA reader and not for the overly impressionable teen who might think that this is a beautiful romantic book
  • Great for a high school discussion on healthy vs unhealthy relationships
2.5 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review  - sorry guys have to be honest

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d'Arabian: Chef Jeff Reviews

 Ten Dollar Dinners
by Melissa d'Arabian
Clarkson Potter (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-307-98514-9
Cooking Skill: Beginner +
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Description: Melissa d'Arabian, host of Food Network's "Ten Dollar Dinners" and season 5 winner of "The Next Food Network Star, "makes good on the $10 promise of dinner for four in her eagerly awaited debut cookbook. For home cooks who care about what they feed their families and want to stretch their dollars, Melissa is the best guide for putting delicious meals on the table.
With four young girls ages six and under, and a hit show on Food Network, Melissa d'Arabian focuses on savvy budgeting, efficient shopping, and full-flavored cooking. "Ten Dollar Dinners" has 140 recipes and more than 100 creative, practical tips on great money-savers ("Clear-Your-Pantry Week"); inventive takes on old standby dinners (try her Moroccan Meatloaf); and how to get ingredients to last longer (keep your green onions in a glass of water and they will regrow several times over ). And with a coding system to help you create your own $10 menu, "Ten Dollar Dinners" celebrates spending with purpose, cooking with love, minimizing time spent in front of the stove, and savoring your homemade meal

The Good Stuff
  • Good variety of recipes for every taste
  • Simple easy to follow instructions
  • Ingredients are easily available in any grocery store
  • Once you have ingredients in house, recipes are inexpensive to make
  • Great tips and tricks for stretching your food budget
  • Excellent pantry list - items that you should always have  in your pantry in order to easily put together affordable, delicious meals
  • Lots of pictures (Not one on everypage though, which would have made my wife even happier - the women cannot make a recipe unless she sees a picture of it)
  • Recipe Cost index is interesting (see note in not so good stuff below)
  • My kids will probably eat some of the recipes, the picky little heathens
  • Well organized and easy to look through -- all the pictures make the recipe look extremely appetizing
  • Wife thinks the index is good (she is making me put this in the review -- don't tell her but yes a good index is important in a cookbook
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Recipe Cost Index took a few seconds to figure out - would have been nice to have it listed more obvious
  • meat terminology is American -- than again not really a bad thing, just a pain in the ass when Ayou go to the store looking for the item and its called something else
  • Not sure you can really say they are 10 dollar dinners as food here in Alberta is really expensive
Favorite Recipes
  • Moroccan Meatloaf (DELISH & easy to make)
  • Zucchini Carpaccio
  • Sole Napoleon with Tomatio-Caper Crudo
  • Four-step Chicken Piccata
  • Bruleed Mandarin Oranges and Sabayon
  • Black Bean Brownies (For the love of god don't tell the kids there were beans in this recipe - they loved them)
Who Should/Shouldn't Use
  • This cookbook is perfectly suited for the beginner to intermediate cook -- nothing fancy for the more experienced cook
  • A great cookbook for those on a budget (and that we are since we are now a one income family)
  • Highly recommended for inclusion into the inventory of a public library (yes that one is from the wife)
4.5 Dewey's
I received this from Random House in Exchange for an Honest Review


My Helpers

Sole Napoleon with Tomatio-Caper Crudo

Moroccon Meatloaf, Zucchini Carpaccio & herbed rice

Making Bruleed Mandarin Oranges and Sabayon
Ingredients for Moroccon Meatloaf

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Graveyard Shift by Chris Westwood

Graveyard Shift
by Chris Westwood
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-39919-7
Suggested Ages: 9+
Buy from Indigo

Description: A spooky fantasy-adventure in which death is only the beginning!

When Ben Harvester meets the mysterious Mr. October in London's Highgate Cemetery, he has no idea what a strange and dramatic turn his life is about to take. But Ben soon discovers that Mr. October works for the Ministry of Pandemonium, a secret organization responsible for tracking down lost souls and guiding them to the afterlife. And Mr. October wants him to be his new recruit.

As Ben's apprenticeship begins, his eyes are opened to a new world of wonder -- a world where magic is real and ghosts haunt every crime scene, accident site, and hospital corridor.

But with the wonder comes horror. Because the Ministry is not the only organization hunting spirits of the dead. The ghoulish Lords of Sundown want those spirits for their own sinister reasons. And as far as they're concerned, Ben's just chosen the wrong side in a very dangerous war.

Ill-mannered spooks and fearsome monsters populate the alternative London of this charming paranormal adventure!

The Good Stuff
  • Delightfully dark and funny - written perfectly for boys/girls in middle school
  • Intriguing characters - how can you not love Ben, Becky, Mr October and Lu
  • Reminded me a little at times of the tv show Dead Like Me (Excellent show btw, go get yourself a copy of it
  • Love the unusual and original storyline - very creative
  • Honestly this might make an interesting series - not sure if there are plans for it, but it might be interesting
  • Very wise commentary about life and death
  • Mr October is such an intriguing character, would have loved to have more back story information on him
  • Author fabulous at setting the mood of the story - I was hooked on the dark forboding feeling I felt the entire time I read - might be a lights on sorta night
  • I know I shouldn't have laughed, but the part about the fiance mailing himself to his intended made me giggle (Yes I do have a dark sense of humour thank you very much)
  • The scenes between Mr October and Ben are worth the price of the book alone -- not to mention how utterly adorablel the conversations between Becky and Ben
The Not So Good Stuff
  • A wee bit predictable for the older reader
  • Could have benefitted from a wee bit more editiing -- things just felt a litte off at times (Also could be me -- but hey have to be honest)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Everyone goes eventually," Mum said. "When they do, the timing never seems right. It always seems to soon.'

"Sorry, son, but after so long in the field, one's sense of humour does tend toward the morbid. But of course you're smart to question, and there's always a third choice, which is to do nothing at all. But then you'd always know what you're missing - and you'd never take advantage of your natural gift."

"But it's better to know the worst than to live in the dark, none the wiser.'

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • For the more mature middle school reader - though less mature readers could still get something out of it
  • Middle school readers who like their stories a wee bit on the dark and different will lap this up - would have loved this when I was that age
4 Dewey's

I picked up a copy of this from Book Expo America 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner 0.5)
by James Dashner
Delacorte Press (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-74288-7
Suggested Ages 12+
Buy from Indigo
Release Date: August 14, 2012

Description: he prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and theres something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, its mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced theres a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And theyre determined to find itif they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, youre worth more dead than alive.

The Good Stuff
  • fast paced non stop action - you are constantly on the edge of your seat
  • Intriguing male protagonist
  • Nice dark humour
  • Love the relationship between Mark and Alec - most of the best scenes involved the two of them
  • Will break your heart at times
  • adore Dashner's writing style, he is one of those gifted storytellers whom I admire
  • Good tie in to the Maze Runner series, really gives a good back-story to the series
  • I know its not really important - but I love the cover!
  • Very much highlights the willpower that humans have to live no matter what
  • I dare you not to fall in love with Alec
  • Fabulous ending if there is going to be another prequel - and if there isn't Mr Dashner I just may have to slap you (BTW you were totally adorable at BEA and I have a mad geek crush on you now)

The Not So Good Stuff
  • intense and hard to read at times - so much death and mentions young children - I am such a pansy but any mentions of death or abuse of children sickens me and had to put book down for a while
  • Could have used a wee bit more character development 
  • not a lot of hope in this one my friends - not a bad thing, but its something I prefer

Favorite Quotes/Passage

``The girl loved to read like no one else, and she was making up for the months they spent literally running for their lives. when books were few and far behind. The digital kind were all long gone, as far as Mark could guess - wiped away when the computers and servers all fried. Trina read the old-school paper kind.

Г’h, I`m good. Seriously, after all these years, you`d think I would stop amazing myself. But here I am, still doing it.``

``Crazy buggers is right - I was hoping they`d all die in the fire.`Mark said it before realizing how terrible it sounded. But the side of him that wanted to survive at all costs - that had become ruthless over the last year - knew it was the truth.``

 Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Obviously fans of the Maze Runner series will lap it up
  • Those who haven`t read this will be intrigued enough to read the rest of the series
  • Good for reluctant YA readers 
  • If you like dystopian or post apocalyptic fiction, pretty sure you will like this
4.25 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Dreamless (Starcrossed #2)
by Josephine Angelini
ISBN: 978-0-06-201201-2
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy from Indigo

Description: Can true love be forgotten?

As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out--a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies' cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen's sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

The Good Stuff
  • Fast paced, non stop action - where you are constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what else can happen to poor Helen
  • Love the little lessons in greek mythology and the Iliad - done in such a fun suble way that readers won't know they are learning something (sign of a fab author in my opinion)
  • Unique storyline
  • Most of the characters are flawed and interesting
  • Love how much importance is placed on the friendships between the characters
  • Enjoy the relationship and dialogue between Helen and her father Jerry
  • Fascinated by the idea and character of Morpheous -- me thinks I could stay with him for eternity
  • Cover is beautiful
  • Angelini's writing is developing beautiful - loved her descriptions of Hades & of the gods
  • Looking forward to reading the final book in this delicious series - nothing better than greek gods & fate
  • Excellent 2nd book in a trilogy - which as we know is a rarity
  • Love Orion -- found him far mor intriguing than Lucas -- so if I have to pick - I say Orion all the way -- eventhough I am pretty sure in the 3rd book we will find out that Lucas isn't really related - bets anyone?
The Not So Good Stuff
  • The constant mentions of incest gross me out
  • The beginning was a wee bit confusing for me at first, as it had been a long time since I read Starcrossed -- not really a bad thing, more my lack of brains these days, but it did affect my enjoyment of the book
  • Characters actions make me want to smack them for being so stupid sometimes (sorry I am older and jaded LOL!)
  • Angsty love triangle - again not a bad thing - just as a 42 yr old mom - not my bag baby (In defense of author not overly angsty and both of the boys are intriguing)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"It was a frustrating afternoon.  The more the two girls read, the more they were convinced that half the stuff written about Hades was written by medieval scribes on serious drugs."

"Apollo fell in love with Cassandra of Troy right before the war. When she told him she wanted to remain a virgin and rejected his advances, he cursed her. A dickhead move if there was one."

"How young you are!" A musical but melancholic voice came to them from somewhere inside the giant, gilded cage. "Knowing what you really want and having the confidence to say it are two of the hardest things to do in life, young princess."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Would only recommend to those who have read Starcrossed first - as you would be quite confused as to what is going on
  • But if the premise intrigues you - grab both books and sit down and enjoy
  • For those who enjoy mythology type stories

4 Dewey's

I won this from @harperteen in one of their Twitter contests

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Crow's Landing by Brad Smith

Crow's Landing 
by Brad Smith
Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
ISBN: 978-1-4516-7854-3
Release Day: August 7, 2012
Buy from Indigo

Description: For Virgil Cain, a day of fishing on the Hudson River yields more than he bargained for when, while pulling up anchor, he hooks onto a mysterious steel cylinder. As word of Virgils strange catch spreads around the local marina, it draws the attention of a crooked city cop, who seizes both the cylinder and Virgils boat. Soon, an old drug deal gone sour floats to the surface, and to get to the bottom of itand to get his boat backVirgil teams up with a captivating single mom, Dusty, who knows far too much about the cylinder and the pure cocaine it contains. When her past comes calling, the landscape is cluttered with the dealer who claims ownership of the cylinder, his murderous sidekick, and a wild card in the form of a crazy Russian cowboy. Virgil and Dusty find themselves trapped square in the middle of it all. And looking for a way out

The Good Stuff
  • Beginning sucks you in (and with a minor dry spot in the middle) keeps you totally engrossed and not wanting to put down
  • Lots of twists and turns and edge of your seat moments
  • I love Virgil Cain he is such a fascinating character, I love getting to  know him bit by bit through Smith's stories
  • Unique, yet realistic, secondary characters -- all quirky and colourful
  • Author is Canadian and mentions some Canadian settings (not to mention a fabulous storyteller)
  • Great story for the beach or cottage
  • Plenty of trademark Smith wit -- the man makes me laugh out loud with some of his dialogue
  • Really enjoyed Dusty as a character, she was kick ass, funny and just really likeable and real
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Drags a wee bit in the middle
  • Its kinda silly, but the cover again doesn't really match the story - I felt the same with Red Means Run -- but I'm a cover slut so please ignore this since its only an ARC copy -- just saw the cover for the final book and its much better! (Cover pictured above is the ARC one)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Nobody had a ready opinion as to what exactly the thing was, except for Mudcat, who was an expert on nearly everything, although his expertise was somewhat tempered by  the fact that he was basically an imbecile."

"I'd have an easier time doing that if it was true," Virgil said. "I never threatened Brownie. I did threaten Mudcat here. I told him I was going to kick the shit out of him if he didn't stop lying. Apparently he didn't listen to me because here he is lying again. And this time he's lying to the cops. Hey-- why don't you guys kick the shit out of him."

"Virgil started to tell him the hay mow story but he stopped. Kids get lied to enough in this world."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Fans of Elmor Leonard and Dennis Lehane - this one is for you (Also read Red Means Run)
  • If you enjoyed Red Means Run -- you will also love getting to know Virgil a little more
  • Just looking for a good mystery/suspense, this will definitely be your cup of tea
4.25 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Earth Girl
by Janet Edwards
Harper Collins
ISBN :978-0-00-744349-9
August July 27, 2012
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy from Indigo

Description: 2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She cant travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. Shes an ape, a throwback, but this is one ape girl who wont give in.

Jarra invents a fake background for herself as a normal child of Military parents and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarras role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. No hiding at back of class now. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates a norm from another planet. Somehow, she has to keep the deception going.

A freak solar storm strikes the atmosphere, and the class is ordered to portal off-world for safety no problem for a real child of military parents, but fatal for Jarra. The storm is so bad that the crews of the orbiting solar arrays have to escape to planet below: the first landing from space in 600 years. And one is on collision course with their shelter

The Good Stuff
  • Unusual storyline
  • Fast paced
  • Author is a gifted storyteller, I was sucked in by the story almost immediately. It made it very hard to put down
  • A strong character who admits her faults and tries to do better
  • Reminded me a little of Serenity at times -- One of the planets was Miranda and a couple of other little comments, author obviously a fan
  • Nice moral messages imparted
  • One of the only books I have ever read that had made up terms that didn't irritate the hell out of me. They actually work in this story
  • Nice light moments of humour
  • The science actually makes sense, you could see this happening
  • Characters emotions are believable for her age and her background
  • Liked the love story, it was sweet and fun and not all over angsty for older readers
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Jarra got over things and plot points were solved a little too neatly and quickly
  • She was also too perfect at times
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I really and truly hate to admit I'm wrong but sometimes I have to. Dalmora Rostha, the gifted daughter of Ventrak Rostha, born to be adored Alphan vid personality of the future, and a living embodiment of everything I envied, was nice. I'd fought the idea for as long as I could, but she really was. It was truly sickening that someone so perfect should actually be nice as well but..."

"Amelia glared at him. "Being polite isn't on Miranda's planetary development plan until next year."

"It took me a while to get it all sorted out, get past the pain of my parent's death, and realize what I had done."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • I would say a mature 10 - 11 yr old girl could also enjoy as well as the recommended age. There isn't too much violence and sex is hinted at but very subtly
  • Fans of scify, Dystopian and Post Apocolyptic will enjoy
4 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Book Addict's Haul

For Review

Thanks Random House (Cookbook has been used many a time already)

Thanks Simon and Schuster
 Library Visit
Our weekly visit to Calgary Public Library (check out the Comic Book I scored for .25c (Love me my Bruce Campbell)
When World's Collide Calgary Public Library Event

Awesome event at CPL - cannot wait to read Death Warmed Over

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Tour: Charlotte Markham and the house of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Charlotte Markham and the house of Darkling
by Michael Boccacino
William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062122612
Buy From Indigo

Description: When the nanny to the young Darrow boys is found mysteriously murdered on the outskirts of the village of Blackfield, Charlotte Markham, the recently hired governess, steps in to take over their care. During an outing in the forest, they find themselves crossing over into The Ending, the place for the Things Above Death, where Lily Darrow, the late mother of the children, has been waiting. She invites them into the House of Darkling, a wondrous place filled with enchantment, mystery, and strange creatures that appear to be, but are not quite, human.
However, everything comes with a price, and as Charlotte begins to understand the unspeakable bargain Mrs. Darrow has made for a second chance at motherhood, she uncovers a connection to the sinister occurrences in Blackfield and enters into a deadly game with the master of Darklingone whose outcome will determine the fate of not just the Darrows but the world itself.
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling is a Victorian Gothic tale about family ties, the realm beyond the living, and the price you pay to save those you love.

The Good Stuff
  • The prose is so hauntingly beautiful
  • Story so elequently puts into words the feelings I have had over the loss of my parents -- the part about dreaming of the dead brought tears to my eyes
  • Dark and gothic story full of old english manors, governess, death and the  paranormal -- dark and spooky, perfect for a cold December night
  • The author is truly gifted at setting the mood and landscape. When you put down the story you feel disjointed about being back in reality.
  • Unique world inhabited with truly unusual and creepy inhabitants ( the descriptions of certain scenes actually made me go ewww out loud)
  • Some wonderful insights into death, life and sacrifice
  • The description of the library was fantastical and highly original
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Extremely confusing at times. Found myself wondering what the hell (no pun intended) was going on on many occasions
  • Drags a wee midway through the story
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Every night I dreamt of the dead. In dreams those who have been lost can be found, gliding on fragments of memory through the dark veil of sleep to ensare themselves within the remains of the day, to pretend for a moment like a lifetime that they might be alive and well, waiting by the bedside whe the dreams is done. They never were, but I could not stop myself from wishing for the possibility that everything I remembered was a mistake, a nightmare taken too literally by the imagination. But morning always came, and with it the startling realization that the dead continued to be so, and that I remained alone."

"We were not so very close together, but the interlacing of our hands channeled a friction through the empty space between us that dimmed the rest of the room, changing the music into something that could only be for us.  I did not want it to end, and for a long while it seemed that it never would. We danced and danced until I could no longer feel my legs, just his touch against my own and the deep, primal thumping in my chest."

"The boys had lost their mother. Of course they were dreaming of her.  I knew that they were dreaming of her. I had lost my mother nearly 15 years before and still dream of her. It was not something that truly went away.  The three of us would perhaps always be bound by our grief, never truly finished with the long nightmare of loss."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • For fans of gothic literature most definitely
  • Honestly, I felt throughtout reading it that I was in a Tim Burton movie - so if you are a fan of his movies, this will be right up your alley (I can totally see Johnny Depp as Mr. Whatley)
  • Wonderful book for a cold winters night - or if you are staying in a Victorian Mansion
4.25/5 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review

About Michael: Michael Boccacinos poetry has been published in the St. Petersburg Times. He currently works and lives in New York City. This is his first novel.

Michael Boccacino's website, Facebook, Twitter

 Michael graciously agreed to take part in my A Day in the life series

What is a typical day like for you?
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write or should be writing, whether I'm at my day job in advertising or wandering around New York City, and sometimes I actually manage to write something down.

What books have most influenced your life?
The book that impacted me the most was probably Interview with the Vampire, which I read when I was 13 or so. Up until then I had only been reading a mix of techno-thrillers, classics, and young adult horror novels by R. L. Stine. The heady, evocative way that Anne Rice uses language, particularly in that book, helped me realize what novels could do and the kinds of worlds they could create. It really opened my eyes.

What was the first story you ever remember writing and what was it about?
The first short story I ever wrote was a page and a half long, and it was about a woman who had been surgically transformed into a mermaid. I believe she drowned in the end. I was a morbid child, but very well adjusted! Even then I remember being very focused on language and words, and what kinds of pictures could be painted with them.

How do you deal with negative reviews?
Thankfully most people seem to have enjoyed the book so far, and those that haven't were expecting something more historically Gothic than the mix of fantasy-horror that Charlotte really is. But even when there are negative reviews, by the time publication rolled around I'd already seen every kind of response possible from agents and publishing houses that turned us down in the first place, so it gives you a thicker skin. It would be amazing for everyone to love something you've spent so much time creating, but reading is such a subjective, individual thing that I don't take it personally.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on my second novel, which is inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and J. M. Barrie. It's a book about children placed into fantastic situations, but written for adults. I hope to be done with my first draft by the end of the year!

If you could be a character from any book, who would it be? and why?
Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice. He speaks his mind, lives in a fantastic manor home, and occasionally gets to slay some zombies.

What one book would you bring if you were stuck on an island?
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke. It's probably my favorite book of all time, and it's so densely packed with details that I notice something new about it each time I read it.

If you could have one superpower what would it be? and why?
I'd love the ability to grant other people super powers. It would be incredibly interesting to see how people reacted differently to the sudden influx of power.

What are you reading now?
I'm in the middle of two books at the moment:Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, and A Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. I'm also contemplating a long overdue return trip to Hogwarts in the near future. One can never have too much of the wizarding world!

Thank you very much for taking the time Michael to answer the questions.  I truly enjoyed and appreciated your answers!

Michaels Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 24th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 25th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, July 26th: Reading Lark
Friday, July 27th: Luxury Reading
Monday, July 30th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, July 31st: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, August 1st: Under My Apple Tree
Thursday, August 2nd: Jenns Bookshelves
Monday, August 6th: Sidewalk Shoes
Tuesday, August 7th: Twisting the Lens
Wednesday, August 8th: Misbehavin Librarian
Friday, August 10th: Stephanies Written World

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Choke by Diana Lopez

by Diane Lopez
Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-41822-5
Suggested Ages: Publisher says 8+ (I personally recommend 10+ - but just my opinion) Scholastic Canada does say 12+
Buy From Indigo

Description: A heartfelt novel about the disturbing "choking game" trend -- and one girl's struggle for self-acceptance.

If she could -- if her parents would let her -- eighth-grader Windy would change everything about herself. She'd get highlights in her hair, a new wardrobe; she'd wear makeup. But nothing ever changes. The mean girls at school are still mean, and Windy's best friend Elena is still more interested in making up words than talking about boys.

And then one day, Windy gets the change she's been looking for. New girl Nina -- impossibly cool, confident, and not afraid of anyone -- starts hanging out with Windy! Nina even wants to be "breath sisters." Windy isn't sure what that means, exactly, but she knows she wants to find out. It sounds even better than a BFF.

Windy is right, at first. Being a breath sister gains her a whole new set of friends, girls she feels closer to and cooler with than anyone else. But her inclusion in the new crowd comes at a dangerous price. Windy wants to change everything about her life ... but is she really willing to give up everything in the process?

Note: Having a hard time reviewing this based on the subject matter & recommended reading age.  It could be that I am just nieve and out of touch, but feel that 8 might be a little too young for this. Often at this age they often read stuff like this and try it no matter how hard the author tries to show the consequences of the act..  Now this is only based on my feelings and I would love to hear everyones opinion on this. 

The Good Stuff
  • Author very much understands the emotions of a  grade 8 girl - such a horribly confusing time and many parents forget how tough this period is
  • Some humour added at just the right moments
  • Lovely messages about being /accepting yourself (Love Elena - wish I had had that kind of inner confidence when I was that age)
  • Parents were mostly realistic
  • Not overly preachy - sorta reminds me of those Go Ask Alice type books I read when I was around 10
  • Story does show the horrible consequences of this horrific game (which I still cannot seem to get why anyone would do it -- but than again feel the same way about drugs)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • not sure I agree of suggested reading age -- but still undecided on this and would love to do some research into it
  • Nina's parents should have gotten her some help & fact that she had to change schools but no therapy mentioned for her problem seems off
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I probably learned more about Isaac Newton that anyone else in class - like he's the guy who came up with gravity, not the guy who invented Fig Newtons."

"I nodded. Elena might look and act like a little girl, but sometimes she was as wise as a ninety year old."

"I often tell her to get with the fashion program, to update, but she just points to herself and says, "This is me, take it or leave it" she honestly doesn't care what other people think."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • I would say for the more reluctant reader - as it is not as developed as a stronger reader may prefer
  • Obviously if a child you know seems to be getting into this dangerous game I would suggest this as a non preachy book about the dangers consequences of this stupid game
  • Would be a good one to keep on hand in all public and school libraries
  • Good for class discussion as well
3 Dewey's

I picked this up at Book Expo America 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

by Chris Colfer
Little, Brown and Company (Hachette)
ISBN: 978-0-316-20157-5
Suggested Ages: 8+
Buy From Indigo

Description: Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairytales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought

The Good Stuff
  • I was extremely surprised by how well written it is, won't lie wasn't expecting much, but it really is well done. This youg man is a talented storyteller - no fair though - I mean seriously - the guy can sing, act and write - ah well congrats Mr Colfer very well done
  • Lovely creative twist on the various fairy tale stories
  • Some very wise observations on life
  • Delightfully funny
  • Fast moving and exciting
  • Just so much fun to read, think this will be wonderful for the young bookworm out there -- I would have adored this as a kid
  • Will be definitely recommending this one. Have already passed on my second copy to the little girl 3 doors down
  • The siblings are very likeable and act like siblings would - some of the dialogue between the two is just plain delightful
  • The illustrations in the arc are nice and my copy is signed, but I still think I will buy a copy of the finished product for my boys (had two ARC's from BEA)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • drags a wee bit at times
  • pretty predictable if you are an older reader -- but for the suggested age range it is perfect
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I've never met a person I didn't learn something from!" Grandma said. "Even the most monotonous people will surprise you. Remember that."

"What was I supposed to tell Mom when she got home? Hi Mom, hope you had a good day at work. Alex fell through a book. By the way, what's for diner? Give me a break!"

"It's Rapunzel's tower!" Alex said., and her eyes became a little misty at the sight of it.
"Are you seriously crying?" said Conner, who was still on the ground.

The world will always choose convenience over reality. It's easier to hate, blame, and fear than it is to understand. No one wants the truth; they want entertainment. 

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • This is the perfect book for the 8-10 yr old bookworm - it will be one of their favorites
  • Adult will get a kick out of it as well
  • Fans of Glee should enjoy as well
4.25 Dewey's

I recieved a copy at BEA and my copy is signed by Chris Colfer (Thanks to Teri and Cammy for getting me a spot)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9329-5
Buy from Indigo

Description: Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasnt seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyces remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to himallowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

The Good Stuff
  • So incredibly good I could not put it down even though it was 2am and I had to get up at 6am
  • This one will win awards people 
  • So honest and real and makes you self reflect on your own life
  • I was bawling on many occasions (but I was smart this time I read this kind of book at home)
  • Harold is such a fascinating character - so very real - warts and all  - the type of man we all have met in some point in our own lives
  • So honestly portrays grief, guilt and forgiveness
  • So many wonderful insights about life
  • Uncomfortable to read at times as it makes you look into yourself and the see some of the misplaced anger and resentment that can occur in a marriage and the joys and horror of raising a child
  • I am having a really difficult time expressing how incredibly wonderful book this is, but I was incredibly moved by it and well just go buy it already (or of course support your local library and check out a copy & be really nice to the library staff as they most likely are incredibly awesome)
  • some wonderful light humour perfectly placed at the spot that you need it most

The Not So Good Stuff
  • some minor repetition but nothing too bad
  • It will break your heart (again not really a bad thing more a warning really)
  • So good once you start reading you will not want to put it down -- Rachel Joyce you owe me some very strong tea I was up till the wee hours of the morning reading it

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"He had never been good at expressing himself. What he felt was so big it was difficult to find the words, and even if he could, it was hardly appropriate to write them to someone he had not contacted in twenty years."

"They believed in him. They had looked at him in his yachting shoes, and listened to what he said, and they made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious."

"He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.  As a passerby, he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk, and he was free to listen.  To carry a little of them as he went.  He had neglected so many things that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past."

"He had learned that it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too.  The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and this was the dilemma of being human."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Anyone and everyone should read
  • If you like non stop action and plenty of sex -- well this IS NOT the book for you -- this is a book that you should read and discuss
  • Excellent read for a book club - so many honest discussions could arise from it
  • Know what I am getting for the SIL and sister this year for xmas -- shhh don't tell them!
5 Dewey's

I picked this up at BEA and it is signed by the author