6/30/12

Beauty Queens - Libba Bray

It's hard to know where to begin with Beauty Queens.  This book was filled with a little bit of everything: humour, satire, mystery and adventure, as well as evening gowns, high heels and eyelash curlers.  (And for those of you that are concerned about content, there's swearing, sex and drinking).  But it's a wild ride from beginning to end, and I absolutely loved the book.

The premise can be summarized as a simple sentence: a plane full of beauty queens crash land on a deserted island and have to learn to survive.  Yet that statement doesn't quite encapsulate the complexity of the storyline.  It is a book about beauty queens, but it's also a story about how the girls learn that there is so much more to their identities than smiles, circle turns and waves.  Possibly the easiest way to describe the book, which still doesn't quite seem to do it justice, is to compare it to the movie Miss Congeniality (which happens to be on television this afternoon as I write this review!); however, even THAT comparison doesn't seem to quite do the story justice.

So let me leave it at this: this book is really unlike any other book that I've ever read.  The characters are loveable, interesting and so well-developed.  The storyline is not only the story of the beauty queens, but also a social commentary on our world of product placement, corporations and consumerism.  (Seriously, I have never seen a book with "commercial breaks" before).  If you have the opportunity, listen to this book on audio -- Libba Bray does the narration herself, and she does a different voice for each character.  She's phenomenal, the book is amazing and I'll stop gushing right now!
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6/29/12

TGIF [6] - June 29


Happy Friday Everyone!

TGIF is hosted, as always, by Greads.  This week's topic is: Best I've Read So Far: We're half way through the year (crazy how time flies!), which top 3 books are the best you've read so far this year?

This one is an easy topic.  Although I've read many wonderful books this year, three immediately jump to mind.

1. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
This is a middle grade novel, but not to be overlooked.  August's story is unbelievable and this book resonated so deeply with me.  I firmly believe that, if this book was taught in every Grade 5 classroom, there could be no more bullying in the world.  Read it.  Read it NOW.

2. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
This book will surely be on many reader's Best Books of 2012 list at the end of the year.  I LOVE John Green's books, but this book was truly remarkable.  Plus, I sobbed like a little girl at the end and who doesn't love a good therapeutic bookish cry?

3. Wither - Lauren De Stefano
I've read so many dystopians this year that it really is hard to choose just one.  Yet Wither was so extraordinary, from the beauty of the writing to the simply, yet majestic, quality of Rhine's world.

What about you?  What's the best book (or best books) that you've read this year so far?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!  And Happy Friday everyone!
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6/27/12

WWW - June 27

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
I just started Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are, which was recommended to me by the lovely Magan @ Rather Be Reading.  So far?  Intense and heart-wrenching.  I was in a bit of a reading slump and nothing was really grabbing my attention, until I started reading this one.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus' Between You & Me over the weekend.  It was a fun Britney-esque meltdown reincarnation, but the main character lacked a spine.  Read my review here.

What do you think you'll read next?
I still have two more library books to read, Paranormalcy (recommended to me by Jenny @ Into the Morning Reads) and Living Dead Girl (recommended to me by Sarika @ Three Handsome Owls).

What about you?  What are you reading?  What did you recently finish?  And what are you looking forward to reading?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll come visit!
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6/26/12

Tune in Tuesday [6] - June 26


Tune in Tuesday is hosted by GReads.  I went to see Snow Patrol in concert at the end of April this year and, after seeing them live, they clinched a spot on the list of my all-time favourite bands.  Prior to seeing the show, Chasing Cars was my favourite of their songs, but they closed with Lifening, which has been on my current iPod playlist for a couple of months now!  I hope that you enjoy both songs -- let me know what you think and leave me a link to your post so that I can stop by!


Chasing Cars -- I originally heard somewhere that he wrote this song about his dog, but then I recently heard that the lyrics are about doing things that are as futile as chasing cars.  Regardless, whose heart doesn't melt at the lyrics "If I lay here / if I just lay here / would you lie with me / and just forget the world?"  *swoon*


Lifening - in this song, Gary Lightbody shares a list of things that that he wants in his life, from kids one day to Ireland being in the World Cup.  The haunting lyrics "This is all I ever wanted from life" gave me goosebumps from head to toe, and I left the Orpheum Theatre feeling like this was one of the best shows I've ever seen.
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6/25/12

Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life

Happy Tuesday Everyone!  It's time for another great Top Ten Tuesday hosted, as always, by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is a little challenging: Top Ten Characters Who Remind Me Of Myself Or Someone I Know In Real Life.  So, without further ado, here goes...

Five Characters that Remind Me Of Myself

1. Sheila in The Unicorn Chronicles (Various Writers).  I can't say for SURE that this character reminds me of myself, since I haven't read the series in YEARS, but I do know that I read and reread and reread this series when I was younger, and dreamed that I could escape to a world filled with unicorns, just like Sheila did.  I recently found the first three books at a used bookstore.  I have contemplated re-reading them, yet I'm also scared that they won't live up to the magic of my childhood.  Perhaps I'll wait and discover them again with my children one day.

2. Emily in the Emily of New Moon series (L.M. Montgomery).  One of my favourite book bloggers (Hannah @ So Obsessed With) is currently re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series.  While I have much love for Anne (umm... my middle name is because of her!), I love Emily just that little bit more.  She's a writer, like me, and I just connected with her SO MUCH when I read the books the summer after Grade 11, then saw the play on Prince Edward Island the summer after Grade 12.  It's the only time I've had the gut-wrenching sob experience from a stage play (think The Notebook, but messier).

3. Bastian in The Neverending Story (Michael Ende).  Yes, I know that he's a boy, and I'm a girl, but his bullying experiences touched my heart.  And I longed for a book that I could literally escape into and disappear for a while.

4. Awake & Dreaming (Kit Pearson).  I connected with so many of Kit Pearson's characters when I was younger, but none more so than Theo.  The book is set in my hometown of Victoria and, although I haven't lived through the same things as Theo, her dreamlike quality of wishing her stories into real life was another literary element that I wished could be part of my own reality.

5. Hermione from Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling).  I'm sure that Hermione is going to show up on a few lists -- she's bookish, she's smart, she's pretty -- isn't there a little of Hermione in all of us?!?

Five Characters that Remind Me of People I Know

1. My husband - Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger).  No, he didn't travel through time to meet me when I was a child, but I was reading this book when we first started dating.  Although I was immediately smitten with him, I did wonder if our eight-year age gap was too much.  In the book, Henry is eight years older than Clare -- and if it works in literature, it works just fine in real life too!

2. My sister: Frances in Fall On Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald). My sister hasn't got up to quite the caliber of misdeeds that Frances does in this book, but the impulsive acting-before-she-thinks aspect of Frances is present in my sister's personality for sure =)

3. One of my best friends, R: The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver).  I can't think if there's a character that actually reminds me of her, but R is a phenomenal woman who has also travelled to Africa to do missionary work.  She loves this book as much as I do =)

4. One of my other best friends, L: The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy). Again, I can't think of a specific character, but L loves this book so, so much.  And she loves with the same kind of passion that is found in this book.

5. My sister-in-law: Marianne in The Gargoyle (Andrew Davidson).  If you've ever heard her tell a story, you'll understand the connection.  Plus, she fell in love with this book even more than I did.  And, although her angel wings aren't physically tattoed on her body, they're definitely still there.

Well, that actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be!  I hope that you enjoyed my list, and please leave me a link to your post so that I can stop by and visit!
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6/23/12

Between You & Me - Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

A slightly guilty admission: I love these girls' books.  The Nanny Diaries, although it made me cringe in places, was awesome.  Dedication was really, really good, as was Citizen Girl.  So, when I started reading Between You & Me, I had high hopes for this book.  These girls always manage to weave together a story about an ordinary person, who somehow manages to undertake extraordinary things.

I described this book to a friend on Twitter as "a fictionalized Britney meltdown."  Her response back was that it sounded like fun.  And it was, but it was almost like the real Britney meltdown.  You know, when you really couldn't care less that she shaved her head, attacked someone with an umbrella and flashed the world her underwear-less parts?  But, yet, at the same time you grabbed that US Weekly magazine off the rack in the grocery store line-up in order to find out what the latest event had been in her very public downward spiral?  Yes, you know you did it -- we all did.  And this book will fulfill all of those celebrity-drama obsessed tendencies that we all have.

Yet, at the same time, I also have some criticism of the book.  I found the main character, Logan, to be totally spineless.  At the beginning of the book, Logan is waiting for her loser of a boyfriend to show up or even call her on her birthday.  He sounds like such an idiot, and completing uncaring, yet when he finally does arrive, extremely late, to her birthday get-together, she forgives him for all of his transgressions, and then is devastated when he puts her in a cab at the end of the evening, and doesn't even accompany her home.  On her BIRTHDAY.  Then, Logan is asked to come and work for her estranged cousin, Kelsey, the Britney-esque heroine of the story.  Logan immediately leaves her life behind, and steps into the glitz and glamour of the work of show business.  Yet, underneath that sparkly exterior lies a number of deep, dark family secrets that surround why Logan and Kelsey became estranged in the first place.  And, no matter how tough it gets, and even when Logan's work with Kelsey is threatening her own right to happiness, she soldiers on, determined to do the right thing to make up for all of those years that the two girls spent apart.  Those were the moments that I wanted to reach into the book, slap Logan and tell her to wake up and realize that she has her own life, and her own future, to fight for.


So, in conclusion, it was a good book because of the celebrity train wreck aspect, but the story was poorly delivered in terms of character development.
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6/22/12

TGIF [5] - June 22


Happy Friday Everyone! I don't know about you guys, but I am SO ready for the weekend this week -- it's been a bit of a crappy work week, full of drama that didn't need to be part of my work day.

TGIF is hosted, as always, by Greads.  This week's topic is: Authors Are Our Celebrities: Have you ever contacted an author you admired? How did that experience go?  If not, which author would you love to have a chat with?

Here's a good story for you.  When I was in Grade 2, Julie Lawson came to my elementary school to talk about being a writer, and to share her newest book, The Sand Sifter.  My mom happened to be volunteering in the library that day, so she bought me a copy of the book and Julie signed it for me.

Years later, when I was taking a journalism class in university, we had an assignment to interview "someone who is outstanding in his or her field."  I thought and thought about this assignment, and then wondered if, somehow, I would be able to interview a local writer.  I went online and searched for authors, and stumbled across an e-mail address for Julie Lawson.  I sent her an e-mail, but wasn't sure that I'd hear back from her since, by then, she was a very successful author (her most successful novel is probably White Jade Tiger, which won the BC Book Prize, and takes place in my hometown of Victoria, BC and is probably read in every elementary school in BC).

But then, SHE RESPONDED.  And invited me to HER HOUSE FOR TEA.  Seriously.  I sat with her for about two hours, talking about everything from teaching to writing to publishing and everything in between.  She was so amazing and down to earth.  I even brought my copy of The Sand Sifter to show her, and she was amazed at how legible her autograph had been in her earliest days of writing!
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6/20/12

WWW - June 20

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?

I'm just over halfway through Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus' Between You and Me.  It's pretty good so far, not amazing, but pretty good and I'm glad it's a short-ish book.

What did you recently finish reading?
I read Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in ONE SITTING last weekend.  Super cute story -- check out my review here.


What do you think you'll read next?
Honestly, not too sure ... my library book pile next to my bed is scarily tall.  Probably Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool.

What about you?  What are you reading?  What did you recently finish?  And what are you looking forward to reading?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll come visit!
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6/19/12

Tune in Tuesday [5] - June 19


Tune in Tuesday is hosted by GReads.  In honour of it being the first day of summer this week, I thought I would share one of my all time favourite summer songs.  I will frequently blast this song, with my sunroof open and the wind blowing through my hair ... especially when heading home from work on a Friday afternoon.  Is it even possible to listen to this song without feeling summery?  I think not.


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6/18/12

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List!

Happy Tuesday Everyone!  It's time for another great Top Ten Tuesday hosted, as always, by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

So, I failed miserably at my TBR spring list (check it out here).  I only read three of the ten books that I posted in my list (I almost wish that books would stop coming in at the library so that I can get caught up on the books that I already own!).  But, it's summer now, so time to plan for the books that I'll be reading this season.  Summer plans include a road trip to Alberta to visit my hubby's family -- LOTS of time for reading, especially at his dad's house where everyone chats away in Serbian.  I'll happily curl up on the couch with my book and let him converse in his first language (I can only understand the occasional word), without anyone feeling obligated to translate for me.

So, without further ado, here goes:

1. Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare
This book is from my spring TBR list, and I've had it on my shelves since CHRISTMAS.  Seriously.

2. Across the Universe - Beth Ravis
Another book that was on my spring TBR list, and I must read it soon!

3. City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare
I preordered this book, and have had it since mid-May, but yet it sits on my shelf unread.

4. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Ditto for this one -- pre-ordered, yet I haven't read it yet!  Which is odd, considering how much I loved the first one, and I couldn't wait to read the next book.

5. Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson
I ordered this from The Book Depository (my first order ever!).  After reading, and loving, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, I can't wait to dive into another of Morgan Matson's beautiful books.  I've saving this one for a sunny day, since I think that would best suit the story.

6. Half-Blood - Jennifer Armentrout
Evie @ Bookish recommended this one to me many months ago.  My library didn't have it, and neither did Chapters for some reason.  So, I ordered it from The Book Depository and it's sooo pretty. I can't wait to read this one!

7. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
I added this book as my next TBR Intervention book, but still haven't picked it up yet.  I have had this one on my shelf for YEARS.  Even my mom has already read it.

8. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
I have read glowing review after glowing review of this book, yet it sits on my shelves unread.  I bought it in hardcover, and if it's out in paperback before I get around to it, I will seriously kick myself.

9. Bedtime Story - Rob Wiersema
I loved Before I Wake (and cried my heart out) and I've had this book sitting on my shelves for quite a while.  The premise sounds incredibly intriguing.  Not to mention the fact that I totally used to work with the author.  Yeah, I'm cool =)

10. Vamplayers - Rusty Fischer
Honestly, the title on this one just sounded hokey, so I'd dismissed it as a potential read.  But when one of the characters showed up on Jenny's Cast Your Own Story post, I thought I'd give it a shot.  After all, we appear to be book twins, so I'm sure I'll like it.  Just as soon as I can stop giggling at the title.

What's on YOUR summer reading list?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit.  Or leave a book recommendation in the comments -- my TBR list can always be bigger!  Thanks for stopping by =)
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6/17/12

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith

A word of caution: this book is so sweet that it may cause cavities.  Extra brushing and flossing is highly recommended.  I read this book in one sitting on a rainy (no, that's an understatement -- torrential downpour) Saturday afternoon.  It was an adorable story, with seriously cute and loveable characters.

Hadley misses her flight to London by a mere four minutes.  While struggling with her suitcase wheels, an adorable and British Oliver comes to her rescue, and thus begins a friendship that will take them across the Atlantic Ocean.  It turns out that it's easier to talk to a complete stranger about their problems.  When they land in London, they become suddenly separated ... and I'll leave it at that. 

This book would make a FANTASTIC movie -- there were so many moments where I said "Aww..." out loud and/or read a cute phrase aloud to my husband.  If you're looking for a lighthearted, fun and uplifting read (think ... something a little Sarah Dessen-esque, but slightly less profound), then this book is perfect.


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Book Haul [5]

Happy Saturday everyone!  It's pouring rain here in BC; therefore, it's the perfect weather to curl up with a good book.  Thankfully, I have a HUGE stack of library books to keep me occupied this weekend -- if, that is, I can avoid looking at Pinterest for longer than half an hour.  Seriously, I've avoided that website for a long time, since I knew it would be addicting.  I got sucked in, and the majority of my morning has completely disappeared!

Back to the books -- here is the pile that is currently sitting on my bedside table... I'm hoping that it doesn't fall over on me in the night!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
I read this entire book yesterday in one sitting.  SUCH a cute story, and will have a review up shortly!








The Partials - Dan Wells
I'm really not sure why I put this one on hold.  I can't remember reading reviews of it anywhere, but a review somewhere must have prompted me to place a hold on this one.  I was surprised by how long it is, but really have no idea what the book is about.  I hope it's a pleasant surprise!






Deadly Cool - Gemma Halliday
I have had this book on hold at the library for MONTHS, and have wanted to read it since I read Wendy Darling's glowing review on Goodreads.  And, can we just talk about the cover for a moment?  Absolutely hypnotic and so beautiful.  If my love for Wonder is any indication, I have LOVED every book that Wendy has recommended thus far, so I'm really looking forward to reading this one.





Die for Me - Amy Plum
This is another book that I've seen all over Goodreads, so I thought I'd check it out.  I really have no idea what this one is about, but the cover is really pretty!








Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
My friend Jenny @ Into the Morning Reads had this book included on her post about casting her own story, using characters from her favourite books.  I just had to check it out -- if Jenny loves the book, chances are that I will too.  After all, we're book twins =)






Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers
After I read, and loved, Siobhan Vivian's The List, Magan @ Rather Be Reading recommended that I check out this book.  I love her recommendations, so I was eager to give this one a try.  Then, when I picked the book up from the library, I was even MORE excited because she's a Canadian writer -- woo hoo!






Between You and Me - Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
I just started this one yesterday evening.  I may have been a little tired, since it was WAY past my bed time, but it's a little hard to get into so far.  Their books are touch and go with me -- some of loved and some I didn't.  It remains to be seen whether this one's a love or a not so much.






Torn - Amanda Hocking
I had Switched on my spring TBR list; however, I still haven't read it.  I put this one on hold at the library, expecting that I would have read the first book by the time the second one went through processing and landed on the shelves.  I'm not sure that I'll have time to get through all of the other books, plus Switched, before this one is due back at the library -- but I'll give it a valiant effort!





That's it for me this week -- the stack on my bedside table is starting to look like the leaning tower of Pisa!  I'm hoping that there's a few less books coming in this week, just so that I can get caught up.  Fortunately, the weather forecast for this week is rain, rain and more rain -- nothing unusual for the We(s)t Coast, but definitely the best weather for reading!

What new books did YOU get this week?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!  And I hope that you're all having a lovely weekend!!
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6/16/12

How to Rock Braces & Glasses - Meg Haston

So many of the books that I read have been recommended to me by friends, or other bloggers, or I've seen reviews of the books on other blogs, or on Goodreads.  But this one I saw on the library's recently ordered page, and I loved the title, so I put it on hold immediately.

It's definitely a younger YA title, since the characters are in Grade 7.  Kacey Simon is the most popular girl in her middle school, until an eye infection results in her getting glasses and a chipped molar results in her dentist deciding that she should get braces.  Suddenly, all of her friends ditch her and she ends up hanging out with some kids that she previously would have scoffed at.  Along the way, she learns that she wasn't a very nice person and her "honesty" towards other people was actually pretty mean.

As a former braces-wearing, glasses-sporting teen, I enjoyed most of the aspects of this book.  It was a cute, fun read with a good story, and excellent morals.  Kacey is spunky and loveable, and there's a really cute love story that accompanies the main plot.  For a quick, feel-good read, I'd recommend this one for sure!
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6/15/12

TGIF [4] - June 15


Happy Friday Everyone!

TGIF is hosted, as always, by Greads. Most Valuable Book: From your personal collection of books, which ones hold the most value to you - is it signed by the author? or maybe it's your favourite story of all time?

Last week, I wrote about Falcor (thanks Jenny for reminding me of his name!) in The Neverending Story, and this week I have to choose the same book.  It's hard to find the words to describe how much this book means to me.  I first read it the summer after Grade 5, when I'd had a really tough year at school with a bully in my class.  I desperately wanted a book like The Neverending Story -- wouldn't that be any bullied kid's dream?  Instead, I lived vicariously through Bastian's adventures, dreading the moment when I'd reach the last page.

Grade 6 was better (a respite before the horror that was Grade 7) and I chose this book for a book report for English class.  My teacher LOVED my report and gave me an excellent grade.  Mme. Dennison goes down in history as one of the best teachers I ever had, since she not only encouraged my love of reading but also my passion for writing.  Plus, I had a BLAST recreating the lettering from the cover, and these swoopy bubble letters made an appearance on many, many more school projects over the years.

My copy was given to me by a neighbour who lived down the street.  It was worn when I received it, and big chunks of the pages are falling out.  I've contemplated purchasing a new copy, and retiring my old one, but I just can't bring myself to do it.  I'd also like to reread this one in the future, but I'm not sure that my old copy can handle one more read!

What about you?  What's the most valuable book in your collection?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!  And Happy Friday!
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6/13/12

Dead to You - Lisa McMann

I'll admit, I was drawn in by the cover of this one.  I had NO idea what the book was about when I picked it up, but the cover was pretty and the blurb on the inside of the jacket drew me in.

Dead to You is the story of Ethan, who was abducted at the age of seven and, in the opening pages of the story, is reunited with his family at the age of 16.  The immediate thing that irked me about Ethan's character is the fact that he's so well-adjusted.  He has his little quirks that come from the experience that he's been through (such as laughing hysterically when a situation becomes overwhelming), but on the whole, he's remarkably calm about the fact that he'd been kidnapped and kept away from his family for nine years.  The only other abduction story that I've read recently is Emma Donoghue's Room (which is on a totally different, and much more intense scale) and, although it isn't really an apples-to-apples comparison, I felt that Ethan should have been a little more traumatized from his experience.

Yet, despite these shortcomings, the book really does have a great twist that I didn't entirely see coming.  Well, I did a little, but then it still surprised me.  And, for the ending alone, this book is definitely a good read!  Plus, the cover is pretty!
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Take a Bow - Elizabeth Eulberg

Take a Bow is a good book.  Not an amazingly incredible book, but a good book.  Perhaps I was expecting a little too much from the book, after having seen some rave reviews online, but I did feel a little let down after reading this one.  After I posted this on a recent book haul, Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner warned me that the book is a little juvenile, but the book is labelled as YA so I wasn't too sure what she meant.  Yet, despite a dash of alcohol drinking and a couple of swear words, the book reads more like a middle grade novel.  It's definitely juvenile.

Take a Bow is the story of four students at a fancy performing arts school in New York.  Each student has things to overcome and, without giving anything away, comes into their own throughout the course of the book.  There was one character that I just wanted to SMACK throughout the book, and that took a bit away from the development of the story.  Plus, the dialogue was a little too much like an adult writer trying too hard to sound like a teen.  Instead, there were certain phrases that brought back the preachiness of after-school specials.  Like, has anyone ever caught an episode of Full House, and rewatched it as an adult?  I LOVED that show as a kid / pre-teen, but now the preachiness of it just makes me gag.  At the end of the show, one of the adults would always say, "So, Michelle/Stephanie/DJ, what did you learn out of this experience?" And the girl would spout off her little gem of wisdom that she had learned.  I'm rambling (it's close to bedtime!) but there were certain parts of this book that I felt the author's voice came in over top of the characters, and she had them self-rationalize their life choices, and then verbalize what they'd done wrong or right and what they'd learned. 

I feel like I've ranted more about the book than I meant to.  It honestly wasn't THAT bad, but it just wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be.  So, if you're in the mood for a lighthearted youthful book that, in my opinion is not really YA at all, then check this one out.  But if you're looking for something with a little edge and depth, then this book isn't for you.
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WWW - June 13

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
I'm currently reading Lisa McMann's Dead to You.  The cover sucked me in, but it's just okay so far.

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished Take a Bow two days ago and STILL haven't written my review (this is very unlike me).  I think I'm in a bit of a "meh books" slump.


What do you think you'll read next?
I have SO MANY books to pick up at the library.  Seriously.  It's like a little kid on Christmas morning, and I hardly know where to begin.  I think I'll probably read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, since that one will have a shorter loan period.

What about you?  What are you reading?  What did you recently finish?  And what are you looking forward to reading?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll come visit!
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6/12/12

Tune in Tuesday [4] - June 12


Tune in Tuesday is hosted by GReads.  My husband and I have tickets to see the Tragically Hip (the ULTIMATE Canadian band) in a month's time.  In preparation for this upcoming concert, I've been listening to non-stop Hip music from the mix that hubby made me of their "Best Of."  (Hubby makes the BEST mixes, seriously).  Here's one of my favourite songs ... I absolutely love the line, "it was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations / reveal themselves one star at a time."  I read somewhere that Gord Downie has a degree in English literature, and it is very apparent in the song lyrics that he writes.


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6/11/12

Top Ten Books I'd Recommend As Good Beach Reads

Happy Tuesday Everyone!  It's time for another great Top Ten Tuesday hosted, as always, by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm approaching this week's topic with a tiny bit of hesitation.  I LOVE great beach reads and I just know that I'm going to find tons of great books on every else's lists.  My TBR list is already out of control, and this week's TTT is going to make it even worse.  I just know it.

Yet, that is one of the things that I love about reading -- no matter how many amazing books that I read, there are always going to be an even greater number of amazing books out there that I have yet to discover.  So, without further ado, here are my top ten books that I would recommend as good beach reads.

1. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
Just reviewed this book last week (see my review here) and I LOVED it.  My only complaint was that the book would have been even MORE amazing if I'd read it on a beach.  Or, at the very least, when the sun was shining.

2. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This book might not seem like the typical summer beach read, but I took it on my honeymoon last summer, and devoured most of it on a beach chair along the Adriatic.  So, in my mind, it's a beach read.

3. Anything by Sarah Dessen
I don't think I've ever done a Top Ten Tuesday post where I haven't crammed the complete works of one author into one slot on my list.  Sarah Dessen is the ultimate beach read author.  Each of her books takes place over the course of a summer, and her heroines will take you on one incredible journey after another.  (I read Along for the Ride on my honeymoon last year too!)

4. The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King
I read this book the summer that my husband (then boyfriend) and I first moved in together.  He recommended it to me and I devoured the whole thing in a couple of sunny afternoons on our front porch, while taking breaks from unpacking.  Thinking of this book immediately brings back memories of sitting in the sunshine, flipping page after page.

5. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
What would a top ten list be without a Lauren Oliver book?  Honestly, I'm a little surprised that I made it to #5 before adding one.  This is the first book of hers that I read, and I spent hours curled up on a deck chair on my patio, enjoying some rare spring sunshine.

6. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
I took this book on a road trip to Alberta two years ago, and I remember getting so into the story that I was tilting the page so that the light from the campfire would shine on the page, and I could keep reading just a little longer.  I finished the rest of the book at my mother-in-law's house, and we had to head straight out to a bookstore so that I could pick up book two for the rest of our trip.

7. White Oleander - Janet Fitch
I read this book towards the end of Grade 12, when we had a heat wave in May.  My English teacher was one of the worst that I'd ever had, and I started skipping her class (which, if you knew me in high school, was a VERY unusual thing for me to do).  Instead, I'd go lay out on the grass in the sunshine with this book and, when I reached the end of the book, I immediately flipped back to page one and started reading it a second time.

8. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
I read books 1-4 in the fall of 2002, and then anxiously awaited the July release date of each successive book.  I read book 5 while working at a summer camp in upstate New York, worked at the midnight launch of book 6 in July 2005 and waited in line at midnight in July 2007.  Summer = Harry Potter.

9. The Carrie Diaries / Summer in the City - Candace Bushnell
I read both of these books last summer / early fall.  I LOVED Sex & the City, but I hadn't read the books.  Both of these books are about Carrie before the Sex & the City show began, prior to her decision to move to New York City.  I loved her voice, her antics and everything about the books.  They're the perfect lighthearted summer read, but with a great story behind them.  Plus, it's super cool to meet each of the Sex & the City characters for the first time!

10. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
I feel that I could add many more books to this list, but I'll have to end with this one.  I read this book at the lake a few summers ago, and got one of the WORST sunburns of my entire life because I was so enthralled with the story that I forgot to apply more sunscreen.  Whoops -- yet, truly the sign of a good book!

Thanks for reading my list!  I swear, I always start these posts with the intention to keep them short, but the writing wanders away on its own.  What are YOUR favourite beach reads?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!
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6/9/12

Happy Birthday to Jenny!

I just wanted to wish a VERY happy birthday to my new blogger friend, Jenny.  If you haven't yet visited her blog, you definitely should!  She is a very talented writer and her posts are always thoughtful, funny and intriguing.  You can check her out at Into the Morning Reads.  Plus, as I have mentioned before, she is also the incredibly talented graphic designing guru behind the new look, here at Writer Grrl Reads!

Just to add more awesomeness to my little gush-fest here, Jenny is also hosting a giveaway on her blog, in honour of her birthday.  Check it out here!  More followers = more prizes, so go check her out!


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6/8/12

TGIF [3] - June 8


Happy Friday Everyone!  It's been completely exhausting week in my world, and I am fully looking forward to some down time this week -- and curling up with a book or two.  The weather forecast is for -- surprise! -- lots of rain, so it'll be a perfect time to kick back with a big mug of tea and get lost in a good story.

TGIF is hosted, as always, by Greads. Cast Your Own Story: If you could use existing characters from some of your favorite books to create a new story, who would be in it?

I'll be honest here -- I have a terrible memory for books.  Seriously.  I can remember that I liked the book, and a little bit about what the story was about (sometimes), but ask me about the characters, and I'll draw a complete blank.  My hubby, on the other hand, can rattle off complete plot summaries, complete with the names and descriptions of all of the major characters, of books that he read when he was NINE YEARS OLD.  Not kidding.  Naturally, when it came to think of this week's TGIF topic, I'm drawing a complete blank.

One character did jump to mind, and it's a character that I would actually like to see in pretty much any fantasy novel.  Remember the luck dragon in the Neverending Story?  Was he not the coolest fantastical creature EVER?  I loved him, and I've never seen that type of character in any other book that I'd read since then.

I hope that you were able to be a little more creative with this one that I was.  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!  And have a wonderful, reading-filled weekend!
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6/6/12

The List - Siobhan Vivian

What does it mean to be beautiful?  What does it mean to be ugly?  And how would you feel if the world had determined that you belonged in one group, and not the other?

These are just some of the questions raised in Siobhan Vivian's INCREDIBLE novel The List.  Ever since I read Magan's review over at Rather Be Reading, I knew that this was a life-changing kind of book.  And it absolutely is.  This is a reading experience that you don't want to miss.

"The List" is posted at Mount Washington high school, detailed the prettiest and ugliest girl in each grade.  Making the list guarantees instant popularity (for the pretty girls) and complete ostracism (for those that are unlucky and deemed to be ugly).  No one knows who writes the list, but it appears every year and dictates the way the year will be played out for eight girls.

The story follows each of the eight girls: Abby, Lauren, Bridget and Margo (who are named prettiest) and Danielle, Candace, Sarah and Jennifer (who are named ugliest).  Each girl has a completely unique story that transcends merely her reaction to being on the list, and delves deep into her experiences in school, her personality, and her interactions with those around her.  Each chapter centres around a different girl and, although the chapters aren't in first person, we see the world through that character's eyes, before moving on to the next.

Siobhan is a truly talented writer and she evokes so much emotion throughout this book.  The storyline really brings back memories of just how cruel girls can be towards one another, but also has its heartwarming moments that reminded me that high school wasn't ALL bad.

My only criticism of this book would be that I wished there could be a complete book for each character, since I wanted to know more about each of them.  But even that's not a major criticism, since the storyline is incredible, well-told and a perfect experience.  Read this book -- you won't be sorry.
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WWW - June 6

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
I'm devouring Siobhan Vivan's The List.  While this book is incredible, it's also heartbreaking.  It tears me apart to remember how cruel teens can be to one another.

What did you recently finish reading?
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.  This book is the ultimate summer read.  Check out my review here and ensure that this book is on your summer TBR list! 

What do you think you'll read next?
I have Unearthly and Take a Bow sitting on my bedside table.  I'm not sure which one I'll read next, since they book look interesting!  My copy of Second Chance Summer just arrived in the mail this week as well -- I want to dive into this book this weekend, but I'm hoping that the rain goes away before then.

What about you?  What are you reading?  What did you recently finish?  And what are you looking forward to reading?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll come visit!
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6/5/12

Tune in Tuesday [3] - June 5


Tune in Tuesday is hosted by GReads.  This week, I've chosen a song that has been on repeat during my drive to and from work for the last few days.  While I've always loved Florence + the Machine, the haunting aspect of this song became even more apparent after it was featured during the Revenge season finale.  Listening to it now just gives me goosebumps, from head to toe.


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6/4/12

Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is a rewind TTT -- choose any of their past topics!  Since I'm a relative newbie to the TTT world, there are SO MANY great topics that I have yet to do...

I'm generally a very positive person, so it's a little out of character for me to rant about pet peeves.  Take this list with a grain of salt -- many of my favourite books may have had some of these issues, so it doesn't necessary mean that I'll dislike any book that happens to have one of these problems.  These are just things that can annoy me in a book.

1. A series that goes on and on and on and on...  You know the ones.  The series that probably started as a standalone, but it did well so the publisher signed the writer on for a trilogy.  Then the trilogy did well, so the publisher asked the writer to just keep on writing.  But the series should have ended LONG before it did.  Harry Potter is the only series that I can name that was good and long.  Most other series should cap out at three books (in my opinion, a trilogy is the perfect length).

2. Love triangles.  This is the pet peeve that I was thinking of when I wrote my "grain of salt" intro.  Love triangles can be done really well, and add to a storyline.  Sometimes the love triangle is the driving force in a book and is what makes it so loveable.  But ever since the Edward/Bella/Jacob love triangle, it seems that a lot of books throw in a love triangle just because the writer THINKS that a love triangle is a necessary element for a successful YA novel, but there are so many great YA novels that don't have a love triangle.  Not every girl needs two men fighting for her love.

3. Typos / grammatical errors.  I know that publishers are only human.  Sometimes small details can slip through the cracks.  My small forays into the self-publishing world (note: I am no expert, and have only read a small number) left me so disappointed, since it just seemed like no one even reread the book before it hit the printers.  If a writer is going to pour his or her heart and soul into a book, it should be perfect when it hits the presses -- so that the fans can enjoy it as well!

4. Beautiful covers with disappointing stories.  You know the book.  You picked it up because the cover was absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful, and then the story let you down.  Personally, I'd rather have a cover that didn't wow me at first, and then be amazed by the gem of a story inside.

5. Rated books on Goodreads that aren't even written yet.  I understand that some lucky bloggers will read ARCs and review the books before they hit the shelves for the rest of us.  But rating a book 5 stars before the author has even finished writing it yet?  Come on.

6. Rating books 1 star on Goodreads because you won't read it. While I totally understand that not every book is for everyone, what is the point of rating a book that you have no desire to read?  Seriously.

7. YA writers that try too hard to be teens.  Granted, my own teen years are far behind me, but there are some writers (I'm thinking specifically of the House of Night series) that just seem to try to hard with the teen dialogue.  The Aphrodite / Zoey banter back and forth just gets on my nerves after a while.  I don't recall ever talking like that.  Excessive use of the word "like" for sure, but teen dialogue needs to be REAL.

8. Being afraid to not like a book. Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland wrote a brilliant post about the negative review, and the fear behind giving out the dreaded one star rating.  I find it hard to trust a reviewer when they consistently post five star reviews.  I wonder to myself how they can only choose books that they are guaranteed to like.  And is that even possible?  I mean, I've read books recommended by other bloggers whose opinions I totally trust, only to find that it just really wasn't for me.  And that's okay.  So, why not just say what you REALLY think and, if you didn't love it as much as you hoped that you would, just admit it?

9. When a book just doesn't live up the hype.  I love hearing a bit about a book before I read it (as long as it's spoiler free).  But when I see a book that's been raved about all over the place, but it falls flat for me, it's so disappointing.  Conversely, when a book lives up to the hype (like Divergent), there's nothing more wonderful.

10. Smelly books.  I was struggling to come up with a tenth item for this list, until I looked over my bookshelves.  While I love browsing the shelves of a used bookstore (who doesn't love being able to buy MORE books for less money?!?), I'm always very particular about not buying a book that has a bad smell.  If it's lived the majority of its life in a musty basement, it won't come home with me.  Hubby owns enough smelly books for the two of us.  On the flip side, I adore books that have a fresh, clean and new smell -- sometimes I just stick my nose into the book and breathe deeply.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my (rather lengthy!) post!  I didn't mean for it to end up this long but, I suppose, that's how ranting words.  Please feel free to leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by!
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6/3/12

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson

Words can scarcely describe how much I loved this book.  First of all, I am eternally grateful to Magan @ Rather Be Reading's gushing love for Second Chance Summer, Morgan Matson's second book.  I very rarely purchase a book unless it's an author that I already adore; however, after reading her review, and then hearing that Hannah @ So Obsessed With was loving the book as well, I placed my very first order on Book Depository.  Then, Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner posted this amazing list of dates inspired by books.  I couldn't order this one and wait for it to ship as well (although the Book Depository is cheaper, it takes SO MUCH LONGER for my books to arrive than my Chapters orders!!), so I put it on hold at the library.

One of the things that I absolutely ADORED about this book is all the little "extras" that are included.  The book begins with a copy of Amy's report card, then some e-mail messages.  We're then launched into the story and quickly learn that Amy is not coping too well after the loss of her father.  Her mother wants her to leave California and move to Connecticut and has planned for her to drive out with Roger, a boy from Amy's childhood.  An itinerary has been planned, hotel rooms have been booked and all Amy needs to do is bid a fond farewell to her home in California and climb in the car.

Although Amy and Roger knew one another when they were little, Amy barely remembers him.  She's struggling with her own grief and reluctant to open up, preferring to sit quietly and let Roger be the driver and the DJ.  Roger tells Amy that a road trip isn't complete without snacks and tunes.  After a quick stop for snacks, Amy suddenly realizes that she doesn't want to go on the prescribed road trip that her mother has planned, and instead her and Roger set off on a trans-American adventure that will change them both forever. 

The only small criticism that I have for this book, is that I felt that it needed a map so that I could follow along with Amy and Roger's path.  I'm Canadian, and I'll admit that my American geography leaves a little to be desired.  I kept jumping online to find out where certain states were, and what's connected to what.

I don't want to say much more about the plot of the book, because it's so wonderful and charming and well-written that you really must read it for yourself.  Scattered throughout the book are photos, receipts and music playlists.  I LOVED the music playlists -- isn't that the BEST part of any road trip?  My husband and I are planning a road trip to Alberta in August, and we love putting together our playlists prior to departure.  It's more important than packing, in my opinion.

So, if you're looking for the perfect summer read, look no further than this book.  It will wow you, break your heart a little, make you cry a little, and then leave you feeling like you've been on an amazing journey of love.
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6/2/12

Book Haul [4]

Happy Saturday Everyone!  After nearly a week of the rainiest weather I've seen in a long time, the sun is finally starting to peek through the rainclouds here in BC and it's so lovely to see.  In honour of the weather, I've even busted out one of my summer sundresses.  Come on summer!  You can do it!

I originally started using the title Book Haul after I saw LC's Adventures in Libraryland branch away from participating in the IMM meme.  Then, last week, she mentioned that she would be linking up with Tynga's Stacking the Shelves meme.  I miss linking up and visiting other people's blogs to see what they got for the week, so I'll be continuing with the title Book Haul (mainly because I'm too lazy to go back through and relabel and title my older posts), but I'll link up at Tynga's site.  

I've just returned from the library, where I was thrilled to discover some of my hold books had come in!  I have a habit of putting books on hold as soon as the library puts them on order.  The good news is that I'm usually the first person to read the new books (yummy new book smell!), but the bad news is that I often have to wait MONTHS for the books to arrive.  This batch is no exception; I've even forgotten why I put one of them on hold in the first place.  So, without further ado, here goes!

The List - Siobhan Vivian

I know that I've gushed before, but I have the utmost respect for the reviews posted at Rather Be Reading.  These girls are like my reading soul sisters.  So when I read Magan's review of this book, I immediately knew that I'd love it.  The premise sounds SO intriguing and I can't wait to dive into this book!  Good thing hubby's off to a chess tournament tomorrow -- lots of kitty snuggling and book reading time for me!




Take a Bow - Elizabeth Eulberg

Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner is another blogger whose opinion I value, and whose reviews I adore.  She posted her review of this book and I knew that it would be a great summer read.  I know I've mentioned this before, but sometimes it's refreshing to read some non-series books for a change, rather than reading one book and being committed to the next X books in the series.  I heart standalones and this one looks like it'll be great!



Unearthly - Cynthia Hand

This is the book that I honestly can't remember adding to my TBR list.  Something about the book must have spoke to me at some point, whether it was a glowing review or the plot, but I didn't make note of it and therefore have completely forgotten!  But I love the cover -- everything from the swirly text of the title to the fact that the entire cover SHIMMERS.  And the premise sounds intriguing too: the main character is half angel.  I love wings.  Anything with wings.  So I'm looking forward to this one as well.


Thanks for stopping by!  Have you read any of these books?  If so, which one should I read first?  Please leave me links to your posts and I'll stop by!  Hope you all have a FANTASTIC weekend!!
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6/1/12

The Mockingbirds - Daisy Whitney

First of all, I'd like thank Magan @ Rather Be Reading for reviewing this book.  A positive review of hers is usually a guarantee that I'll like it as well, so I was excited when this one arrived at the library.

The Mockingbirds are a completely unique brand of student group at Themis Academy, a boarding school for gifted students.  Because the students are of an excellent caliber, the administration of the school doesn't really involve itself in discipline.  Smart kids should NEED discipline, right?  Wrong.  And that's where the Mockingbirds come in.

The book opens with an intense scene that immediately had me madly flipping pages, as Alex wakes up a strange boy's bed, with no recollection of what happened the night before.  As she tries to collect herself, and her clothing, in order to make an exit, she realized that she and the boy had sex the night before -- and Alex can't remember a thing.  She tries to push it out of her mind, but her friends intervene and insist that she have her case tried by the Mockingbirds.

The book is filled with allusions to Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  Reading this book has given me the desire to reread Lee's novel -- the last time that I read it was in Grade 10 and I think that, even though I was a mature reader at 16, I would probably get even more out of the novel as an adult.

The Mockingbirds is an extremely heartfelt story and I found myself rooting for the main character.  Alex goes through an incredibly difficult experience, but the book is told in such a way that it would be empowering to anyone who'd been in a similar situation.  I was also amazed to read in the author's notes that the author was also date raped although, upon reflection, I can understand that her own personal experiences is what made the book even stronger.  Although the book deals with some tough, emotional issues, it's definitely a book that makes you believe in the goodness of humanity.
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