Monday, November 28, 2011

Tour Stop: Unleashed (Wolf Springs Chronicles #1) by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Hardcover, 382 pages

Released: November 22, 2011

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Katelyn McBride’s life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It’s a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything. 
Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night—welcome to Wolf Springs.
I love the idea of small towns and their secrets and this one sure has some! After her mother's death, Katelyn is sent to live with her grandfather and this small town of Wolf Springs is not so normal.  Kat slowly discovers their secret, being thrust into the drama herself. A little lacking in a connection to the characters but a great plot carried it along.  Be prepared for a cliffhanger ending! 

Please give a warm welcome to Nancy & Debbie as they reveal their secrets of writing as a team!

People often ask us about how we work together—how we keep the voice consistent, who does what, etc. We are celebrating our tenth year as a writing team, with eleven books to our credit (so far!) So we must be doing something right. We’re definitely doing something fun—we truly enjoy working together. The only things we fight about are how much to tip cab drivers and waiters, and dog training. (Debbie grew up with poodles, and Nancy is ruled by her Corgi overlords. Debbie also had a wolf hybrid named Wolfie, to whom she dedicated Unleashed.)

We think the secret to this friction-free partnership is our emphasis on moving forward. We have discovered that Debbie loves to write first drafts, while Nancy likes to revise. It took a while to figure this out, because each of us thought their preferred “chore” was the easier one, and didn’t want to make the other guy do the heavy lifting. But once we did confess, our system fell into place: after we come up with our concept and a chapter-by-chapter outline, Debbie usually writes the first draft of the first chapter. She gives this to Nancy, who edits that chapter, and adds the first draft of chapter two. She sends that to Debbie.

Now here is our big secret: when Debbie gets back her edited chapter one, she cannot do either of two things: 1) Get mad, and 2) Change it back. We don’t ever check to see what the other guy took out or changed. Whatever is in the inbox is the only manuscript we have, as far as we’re concerned.

If we don’t like something the other guy did, we can try to do something new, but we can never go backwards. This keeps us from innumerable hours of checking, rehashing, and losing momentum. We make a point of leaving our egos at the door so that our books are not part Debbie and part Nancy. They’re all “us”—as if a third person is actually doing the work. When we’re finished, we honestly don’t remember (or care) who wrote what. We’re written two series with lots of POV shifts—Wicked and Crusade—and in Wolf Springs Chronicles, we stick to one POV—Katelyn’s. But it’s all written by the same “third” author.

We are a lot alike in our tastes—we both love fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, Dr. Who, Chuck, Castle—and Disney! Debbie lives in the Orlando area and Nancy lives about 90 minutes south of Disneyland. Nancy went to Disneyland Paris in August and Disneyland on the day after Thanksgiving. Debbie goes to Disney World for lunch, even! Debbie and her husband have also been to Disneyland Paris and had a trip to Tokyo Disney planned, but then the earthquake happened. Nancy flew to Orlando to finish Unleashed with Debbie, although we usually do it all over the phone and by email, and then we partied hard at DW! We’ll see each other in March at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival and the big question on both our minds is, Can we cram a trip to Disney World in there?

What is next for us? We have one more book in our Crusade series, titled Vanquished, and two more Wolf Springs Chronicles books. The next Wolf Springs Chronicles book is Hot Blooded, and we’re putting the finishing touches on it now. We’ve both been werewolf fans for about as long as we have been Disney fans, and we are howling for joy that we get to write about them. We had a werewolf character in Crusade we both fell in love with (Holgar Vibbard) and we swore our next series would be about werewolves. And it is! Nancy has kinfolk in Arkansas, and her mom was from Pine Bluff. We especially loved exploring the tall tales and legends of the hills, and it was neat to watch Dark of the Moon again, although fair warning: It’s a very dark, disturbing play.

Speaking of disturbing, we’ve been putting together an idea for a scary adult horror series, so we’ll be working together for a long time to come. Which is exactly how we like it.

And we’d like to see you at Gallifrey One: Network 23 if you’re in the Los Angeles area in February Hmm, can we cram a trip to Disneyland in there?

And if you can’t…we hope to see you at another event…and that you enjoy Unleashed.

Learn more about Nancy, Debbie, and the Wolf Springs Chronicles: Unleashed site and LIKE the Wolf Springs Chronicles facebook page

Other stops on the UNLEASHED blog tour:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Hardcover, 568 pages

Released: November 1, 2011

Publisher: William Morrow

Other places to find the book:

The marvelous land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes, that Dorothy.

Amid all this chaos, Elphaba’s granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now, Rain will take up her broom in an Oz wracked by war.

The stirring, long-awaited conclusion to the extraordinary bestselling series begun with Wicked, Out of Oz is a magical journey rife with revelations and reversals, reprisals and surprises — the hallmarks of the brilliant and unique imagination of Gregory Maguire.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

As someone who absolutely loved Wicked, I HAD to know how Maguire would end it. For me, the first book in this series was so magical. By giving Elphaba a backstory, Maguire made me feel sympathy for a character I had always known to hate, the evil Wicked Witch of the West. Knowing his writing style and the fact the the two previous books in this series did not go over too well, I was hesitant but curiosity got the better of me. For those who have not read the entire series so far, the book begins with a brief refresher of the story so far as well as family charts and maps.

The focus of this book is Rain, the granddaughter of the Wicked Witch of the West, daughter of Lir and Candle. Rain, nor anyone around her, knows who she is as her green skin has been hidden by a charm. It is her journey, along with the protection of the Grimmerie, that we follow and to be honest, it was long and drawn out. Many characters make an appearance, including Glinda (who employed Rain, not realizing she was her best friends daughter), Brrr, Liir, Candle, the Time Clock Dragon, nasty Cherrystone and Dorothy! Oh Dorothy, I really wish her comic relief lasted longer. I wasn't left completely disappointed, with a strong ending the last 50 pages were devoured like there was no tomorrow. There were a few more questions I had hoped to have answered though. Although the entire series didn't win me over, I highly recommend checking out Wicked, a book that still sticks with me years later.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Hardcover, 342 pages

Released: November 15, 2011

Publisher: HarperCollins

Places to find the book:

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

My Rating: 5 / 5

My Thoughts:

Dystopian's are hit or miss for me, this one nailed it. Blown away, this is going to be in my Top 10 for 2010 for sure, maybe even #1!

Shatter Me is a book you will consume in one sitting. I read a lot on my commute to work and stop at the end of a chapter but not with this one, I needed to read as much as I could and didn't waste one minute! Juliette is a strong character who just happens to have a natural ability that people would love to have power over. She is in demand, so to speak, but has her morals and knows that what she can do is not something to play around with. I loved seeing her defy Warner, who stole her to use as a weapon. But what I think makes this book stand out so much for me is that in Warner,Tahereh Mafi created a bad character that you also feel sympathy for! But wait, she doesn't stop there...she also gives us Adam, and the chemistry between Juliette and him is perfectly played out. Full of non-stop action & intrigue, this debut is not to be missed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - November 9, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

Hardcover, 320 pages

Expected publication: April 3, 2012

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

White Cat ended so strong and Red Glove blew me away. Oh Cassel, will Lila break you? Who knew I could feel sorry for a con man!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Paperback, 320 pages

Released: October 11, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Places to find the book:
First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.
My Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:
Hartley hasn't had a good day. She just found out her long time boyfriend, Josh, was cheating on her and with the president of the Chastity Club of all people! She decides to call him on it but when he isn't at practise after school, she grabs her best friend and heads over to his place. With his Jeep out front but no answer at the door, that doesn't stop her. She is on a mission so climbs into his bedroom window, searches for him, only to discover he wasn't home after all and there's a dead body in is room! Josh goes into hiding, more bodies are found but Hartley trusts her gut that Josh isn't the perpetrator. Playing detective with the help of her best friend and the guy next door, she wants to solve this crime the risk of becoming the next victim.

After reading a few pages of Deadly Cool, my first thought was "I need to check out all of Gemma Halliday's books". Just like Bumped by Megan McCafferty, her witty writing style has me smiling and giggling even though this premise of the book is not a laughing matter. Some of the time Hartley's actions are frustrating, but that is what makes this serious situation fun. Hartley is a character you wish you could hang out with, someone you feel comfortable wanting to smack upside the head :D Part mystery, part high school drama, Deadly Cool was a hilarious read.

On a side note: This was not what I was expecting, it was even better. For me, the shocking blue eyes on the cover lead me to believe there was some paranormal element when there was none! The fonts used in the title are perfect, the use of iPod headphones ingenious really, but alas, read the synopsis and don't look at this cover to get the feel for this book. This is the start of a series and there is not a year long wait for book two! Here's the link for Social Suicide.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recap of the 1st Annual(?) Ontario Blog Squad Meetup

After days of anticipating 'the big day' as if it were Christmas, it finally happened! It's amazing to see how when a few people say "hey we should all meet up" it can quickly turn into something huge! A big thank you to the fellow Blog Squad members Jackie, Liz, Nicole, Christa, Wendy, Angel and last but not least, Jen.
The Blog Squad Team
It was awesome to see the enthusiasm for the meetup. The 37 free tickets were snagged up within a week; totally not anticipated. Who knew that there were this many eager bookworm bloggers in and around Toronto? But what was even more awesome was the support we received from all the publishers: Random House CanadaHarper Collins CanadaSimon & Schuster Canada, Hachette Book Group CanadaScholastic CanadaPenguin Canada and Kobo! Another big thank you goes out to the participants and publishers for making this event beyond our wildest expectations!

Ok, let's get on with the show...Our day started off early, the organizers all met up at 10:30...we had the big (and exciting) job of putting together the goodies bags! Thankfully we had two cars to lug all the bags, but let me tell you the one block walk from where we parked to The Duke of York pub was painful. Carrying all those books was backbreaking work (there were five books in each bag and 38 bags)!
The Loot Bags
We arrived to see a few bloggers beat us there. Yes, there was excitement all around. Each person attending received a bag full of goodies: books and swag, including a mega size coffee mug! It was an afternoon full of mingling, putting faces to blog/twitter names and snacking on yummy nachos & quesadillas (generously provided by Jen)! Thanks to the donations, we had trivia questions to win t-shirts and raffle draws for rare ARCs, bookish goodies...and the grand finale was a Kobo Touch, generously donated by Kobo!

Here is a picture of my goodies!!! (jumps for joy)

Thanks so much to everyone for an awesome bookish day, we need to do this again :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Paperback, 342 pages

Released: October 4, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Other places to find the book:
Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:

Megan's latest move is  from Boston to Ireland for her Dad's new job. On her first day of school she notices a boy watching her and finds herself instantly captivated by the mysterious Adam DeRis. After all the moving around she had never gotten close to people, until now.

If you enjoy stories about mythology, the lore behind the story was fabulous. We learn about Druids, a secret world full of history and power and how when the the four elements (air, earth, fire, water) are together they have the power to transform the world! At times it was a lot to take in so pay attention.

I adore the idea of people being brought together by fate but lately I haven't found one that really worked. It's hard to make people instantly fall in love and for it to be believable. I think Leigh Fallon did a good job making this one work. What for me was lacking was a bit more romance/connection without being cheesey, and to be honest, I didn't get enough of the Irish setting, I wanted more! Megan's acceptance of her new found role was too sudden. She did not fear or question it as I think most would have. After finishing the book, I wonder why the school friends were even there, for me their presence didn't really add anything extra to the Mark storyline. That being said, I see book two as the opportunity to really develop all the characters, now that the world building has taken place. Maybe one of them may surprise me?!

Carrier of the Mark was great debut, I can't wait to see where Meagn and Adam go from here! Did you know Leigh Fallon was discovered on Inkpop?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - November 2, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Expected publication: March 6, 2012

Publisher: Simon Pulse

from Goodreads:
Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving and lacking a single memory of the accident that landed her there. What she can remember, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the accident.
As she takes us through her transformation from invisible girl to on-trend Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby herself does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why is Gabby left alone to take the fall?

Putting the pieces together will take every ounce of Gabby's strength. As she peels back the layers of her life, she begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex...and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.

Books about memory always fascinate me and it's truly amazing how life can change dramatically in an instant! I also have to admit that this cover is eye catching, I love it!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: Variant by Robison Wells

Hardcover, 356 pages

Released: October 4, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Places to find the book:
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.
My Rating: 5 / 5

My Thoughts:
Not your typical boarding school book, Variant takes the idea of school as a prison to a whole new level.

Benson receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy and having been through many foster families he's used to new schools. Only given an envelope and a contact name for inside, he is driven to the school and dropped off at the gate. It's odd to see a school surrounded by wire razors and with many cameras. As soon as he arrives, kids are running, hanging signs in windows and he begins to wonder just what he has gotten himself into....and he should. This is not your average school. Benson discovers that there are only three rules to follow, no teachers or adults, there are tests but you never see your score and detention means you may never come back!

 The 'students' have learned that to avoid a fate similar to the kids of Lord of the Files, they must work together. Three groups are formed: Society (the rule followers), Havoc (want to rule) and the Variant (everyone else) and contracts are made so work can be done and rewards earned. The kids are put through stressful situations, many that are strategy based games. Paintball plays a big role in this book and I loved it! As a mom to boys, I am ecstatic when I come across a book that appeals to both girls and boys. Full of action and intrigue, Variant was a wild ride as we follow Benson on his mission to bust out. It keeps you guessing and trusting no one!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard

Paperback, 352 pages

Released: October 11, 2011

Publisher: Harper Paperback

Places to find the book:
How do you choose between your family and your history?

Emotional and compelling storytelling from Sara Shepard, author of All the Things We Didn't Say.

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...
My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
Yes, this is a book written by THE Sara Shepard, but no it's nothing like Pretty Little Liars. It is an adult book and one where life experiences come in handy.

Mrs. Bates-McAllister comes from old money but we soon learn that when you dig deeper under the surface, money does not mean pure bliss. She recently lost her husband, and quite suddenly. Her two, grown sons have their own issues as well. Charles is married and Scott is the wild one, but both are dealing with issues of belonging. Charles and his father never clicked and he never understood why. Scott, the adopted son, always felt out of place and that people never expected anything from him. It was a phone call that sparks a new beginning for everyone and sets the tone of the book.

While I didn't necessarily feel a connection to any one particular character, I found the arc of the story and what the characters learn, enjoyable. I think everyone can relate to parts of each character here: doing things for ones family instead of what you want, believing the grass is always greener on the other side, feeling trapped, to name a few. Part of growing up is listening to what you're told, but there comes a time when one has to take control of their life, it just takes some time and bumps along the way to figure that out.

A story of assumptions, expectations, and regrets, it moves slow but with purpose. This is a realistic look at life and living. Life is short so the earlier you lose that layer of resentment or weight that bogs you down and is doing you no good, the better your chance of finding happiness. Sometimes life puts you in a funk, but as Sara shows us, there is hope after all.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

This is actually two weeks worth as I've been super busy with life and neglected my poor blog :(  I'm also posting the reviews in my backlog so be prepared for daily goodies coming up! Sorry guys, but hope you enjoy.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton - I heart all things fae and after seeing this around with lots of great reviews, I knew I  HAD to read it!
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez - A book about music, I'm so there (I actually reviewed music prior to book blogging!)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - Huge fan so a must read for me :D

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3) by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl - Can't wait for this next installment!
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan - As a mom of boys, I am a mega fan of all things Rick Riordan :-P

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

What goodies did you get?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - this line of the synopsis sold me "With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s". I love secrets and stories centered around mystery...and books about books!

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman - an adult book that caught my eye, more secrets! "Hoffman delivers her most masterful work yet—one that draws on her passion for mythology, magic, and archaeology and her inimitable understanding of women. " What a combo, I can't wait to get started!

What goodies did you get this week?

In case you missed it, last Thursday was the 125th anniversary of The Night Circus! To celebrate I interviewed the author, Erin Morgenstern and have a copy to giveaway. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celebrating The 125th Anniversary of THE NIGHT CIRCUS

**waves to red scarf wearing reveur** In honor of today's 125th anniversary of the Night Circus, I am excited to share an interview with Erin Morgernstern...and a chance to win a copy of her fabulous, magical debut THE NIGHT CIRCUS! For those that have not read this masterpiece, if there is one book you MUST read and experience this year, I suggest this one!

Mel: What inspired you to write a story centered around a circus?

Erin: The circus came as a surprise, I was working on a different manuscript and got bored with the story so I sent the characters to a circus and the circus was immediately more interesting. I thought it had a lot of potential to explore as far as where it came from and who its inhabitants were, it was an imaginary place I felt like spending a lot of time in, even though I’m not a big fan of traditional circuses. Mine is more like performance and installation art encased in tents.

M: Everywhere I turn, I see your beautiful, descriptive writing mentioned. What was the most enjoyable part of The Night Circus to write?

I think the whole thing was enjoyable in a way, but the actual descriptions of the circus itself were probably the most fun since they involved the most unadulterated creative freedom, deciding how each tent was arranged, how things looked or felt or what they smelled like.

M: What do you hope readers take away from reading The Night Circus?

E: I hope after finishing the book readers might take away a renewed sense of wonder, I think it’s a sense that needs renewing once in a while.

M: Your book started out as a Nanowrimo project, do you have any suggestions for those taking part in a few months?

I think the most important part is to have fun with it and not worry about every little sentence, just keep moving on to the next and the next and the next. Never delete anything, and I don’t recommend re-reading until afterward. Also, stock up on caffeine and snacks. I am fond of things that hit the salty/sweet snack cravings in one go, like chocolate-covered popcorn.

M: What role would you take on if you were to run away & join the circus?

I don’t really have any good circus skills so I’d probably end up selling tickets or something like that. If I could join my circus I think I’d like to be a living statue, but I’d need a lot of practice.

A big thank you to Random House Canada and Erin!

Guys,  there is a Night Circus game!! Click here to check it out

For your chance to win a copy of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, please fill in the form below:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 11, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - I've always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper (Thanks so much Kate!)

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah - A special thanks to Penguin Canada's street team for this one

Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick - One word..Patch!

What goodies did you get this week?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Do You Think (8) - Augemented Reality: Are You Game?

Last week HarperCollinsCanada launched a unique and creative marketing campaign for Kenneth Oppel's latest book, This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein. For those of you who live in Canada and are lucky enough to visit one of the larger flagship stores, you will find a setup with a large bookcase backdrop (as shown on the right, click to enlarge); all other stores will feature a poster format.  Using a free app on your (Android based) smartphone, you scan the bookcase. Suddenly books fly off the shelf and begin telling a story, playing on the The Dark Library, secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies which are discovered by the characters in the book. Don't fret if you don't live near a Chapters store or even in Canada, the experience is also available on the authors website or by clicking here. Sounds pretty cool, eh?! Remember how I suggested having book trailers playing on TVs instore? Well, I think this has just one-upped it.

 With the astronomical growth in ebooks, combined with the young age that kids are using technology these days, it is no wonder that books are using other platforms to generate buzz. 
Augmented Reality is taking new technology to help the old, "tricking kids into reading" as Kenneth Oppel puts it. Adding something not available from your average book,  the Augmented Reality layers on the sensory input, using 3D interactive tools.

For those lucky to have early access, the idea is similar to, the Harry Potter online game which is currently in beta mode. Both integrate reading with gaming elements, this campaign just does so on a smaller scale. Speaking of Harry Potter,  I noticed the other day that my Wii version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 came with a code to access a special Augmented Reality feature! Who knows, maybe Augmented Reality can get the attention of those video gamers who may not read often. Still in it's infancy for book promotion, I can't wait to see how quickly this takes off and becomes the norm.

What do you think.... are you up for bookish fun and games? Would you play?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - October 5, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Hardcover, 326 pages

Expected publication: February 7th 2012

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Add it to
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.
The cover instantly grabbed my attention, then when I saw this "A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare in this spellbinding fantasy" and my eyes popped out! Add in that I'm a total witch fanatic and I HAD to read this one.

What are you waiting one?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Hardcover, 273 pages

Released: September 5, 2011

Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy

Other places to find the book:

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.
Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

If you've followed my blog you will know that I absolutely LOVED Kody's debut, The DUFF! I have been eagerly awaiting Shut Out since I heard it was coming out, but guys I didn't feel this one :(

The DUFF for me was so unexpected, it took the topic of sex in YA to a whole different level, pushing the boundries, and I loved that about it. Now you are probably saying "but this book is about sex too" and yes, it is but it didn't work for me this time. I know that sex in high school happens, yet I think the story would have worked better in a college setting. I would hope that young high school couples aren't so focused on sex that they think holding it back could create change. Even the plot driver that leads Lissa to start this club was weak for me - she's sick of being interrupted when making out? Not all players were very sexually active as you soon find out, but for a while it is assumed so. I loved this addition to the storyline, I think it's important to know that it's OK to do what you want to do and not let peer pressure lead you astray. Both Shut Out and The DUFF carry the message of being yourself and loving who you are, something we all need a reminder of now and then.

I normally love stories that are character driven. Unfortunately, the main character, Lissa, was not very relateable for me. She was a control freak to the max and there wasn't much to make you care or feel support for her cause. I did find her best friend Chloe a hoot though. (Bianca from The DUFF totally won me over, she was full of spunk.)  Cash is the boy who every girl likes but is unattainable and while I did really like the guy, I wish there was more background into WHY he was that way. Being elusive and hot was not enough for me to fall for him. (Now Wesley from The DUFF, *fans self*)

A tight ending wraps the story up nicely, I just wish there was more of a character connection for me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl Of Fire And ThornsHardcover, 432 pages

Released: September 20, 2011

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Other places to find the book:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
My Rating:  4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

I've noticed myself enjoying more and more fantasy this year where you are pretty much guaranteed strong characters, secrets and battles over power. The Girl of Fire and Thorns was fantastic!

From the first line I was drawn into the world Rae Carson created, you would never guess this is a debut. Her strong prose thoughout the story stand outs as impressive, I was captivated, eager to know what the Godstone meant and Elisa's chosen role. As pieces of her past are woven into the story, Elisa discovers more about who she is and the sheltered life she had lead.

On her sixteenth birthday. Elisa is married off to King Alejandro of Orovalle, unsure why it's not her beautiful sister that he chose.When they arrive at her new home though, there is no announcement, in fact it is a secret. Soon enough, she  realizes there is more to this marriage then meets the eye. Kidnapped while asleep in the castle, this is where her true journey begins. This wasn't just another 'chosen one' story,  it is about self-discovery as well. Elisa's journey changes her, making her a powerful force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed her more when she was with her captors (they were not out to harm her) and this is when we learn the Godstone's history. It is also where we meet Humberto ;) I have to say I was surprised at the lack of action on the part of some characters, but then again this is told from Elisa's perspective, limiting us to what we know. There was only one thing that bothered me a little during the story, which I should have known considering she is the carrier of a Godstone. Although I believe in a higher power, I am not religious so I found the repetitive use of 'God's will' a little tiring.

Knowing this was book one of a trilogy when I started, I anticipated being left with a cliffhanger. I am happy to report that, although the journey has just begun, the ending was satisfying, leaving you curious to know what comes next for Elisa. One of the strongest debuts I've read, if you love a story rich with lore, I think you'll love Girl of Fire and Thorns too.

Buy the book:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox - October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

This week I squeed a few times :D

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - I've seen numerous people rave about this one, plus I enjoyed her previous book Lips Touch: Three Times, so I HAD to get this!

Clockwork Prince by Cassie Clare - Cassie is one of my all time favorite writers, I love her world building.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan - This is one series I have yet to start and know I will love. When I was at Word on the Street Toronto, I saw this one the Simon & Schuster table...and it was only $6!!! Now that I own the complete trilogy, I really should have a reading marathon...that is the one benefit to starting it late :D

What goodies did you get this week?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - September 28, 2011

This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Expected publication: October 4th 2011

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Add it to Goodreads

from Goodreads:
The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.
Hush, Hush was a one of my favourite reads in 2009 but, to be honest, I was not thrilled with left me with many questions from Hush, Hush unanswered. I guess, technically then, I've been waiting two years for Silence! What I'm really dying to see if the yummy Patch I loved in Hush, Hush return so I can <3 him all over again :D

Are you Canadian and a hugh Hush, Hush fan? Want to win books and a chance to meet Becca? Click here to enter!

Do you <3 Patch? Check out the Patch and You Facebook app

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss
Hardcover, 336 pages

Released: today (September 20, 2011)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Other places to find the book:
Taken from
“It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder.
That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.”

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
My Rating: 3.5 / 5

My Thoughts:

Wren has seen her mother do some magical things and has noticed that she has unique powers herself, but they don't talk about it. Danny was the perfect boyfriend, he was so sweet and Wren and Danny did everything together. When Wren gets a call to say that Danny died in a car crash, she is heart broken. Faced with losing the love her life forever, she decided to try out her powers and brings Danny back to life, she can't lose him. Keeping him hidden and a secret is hard, even harder when Gabriel comes on scene and 'knows' what Wren has done.

I think everyone can relate to the premise of this book... if one could keep the one you love with you forever, I'm sure many would try and find a way. The problem is, that the person you love may not be the same as the one you have now and this is the dilemma Wren faces. This was a cute story about love, loss and regrets...oh and zombies! Well sort of, the zombie aspect is quite different here. We are not talking the brain eating kind, rather an empty person version. I just wish there was more substance to the story, it felt like there was so much more to tell and we were only given a glimpse. Wren has powers! Where did both Wren and Gabriel's dad go and why? Who is Gabriel? I was left curious but not super eager and in my search I can't see any mention of there being a book two.

Buy the book: 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox - September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where we show what books have found a new home with us!

Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller - I won this from It's a story about love and betrayal and regrets!
A Million Suns by Beth Revis - the second book in the Across the Universe series. I wouldn't call myself a huge sci-fi fan but I loved Across the Universe so can't wait for the story to continue.
The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothernberg - I'm always up for love stories and this title plus Lauren Olivers blurb sold me :D
..and see that card, it's an invitation to TD Canadian Children's Literature Awards! Thank you so much The Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC), it is an honor to be invited.

Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink - the final book of this trilogy :(
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I think this was my most anticipated book for 2011.
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - a companion to Sisters Red which was a fun read last year
Random House Canada organized a fun party for the launch day of The Night Circus. In the middle on downtown Toronto (and Vancouver) they had a uni-cyclist juggling, lady on stilts, popcorn...and free books! Dressed up in black and white with red scarves (if you've read the book you will know why) are the RH crew, literally handing out books to passer-bys, likely on their way to school or work. I met up with Nicole from All I Ever Read plus I finally had the chance to mee Jess and Lindsey from RH in person. What a way to start off the work day :D