November 29, 2010

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 288
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The higher you aim, the farther you fall....

It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie.

When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge, epic failure?

My Thoughts:
I absolutely flew through this book because I found it so delightful and funny. Leila Sales has written a book that is comparable to the awesomeness of E. Lockhart (Ruby Oliver’s zaniness) and Louise Rennison (Georgia Nicholson’s ridiculous hilariosity), and yet also something all her own. I found Violet to be smart, funny, and relatable, and I think you can even understand the behaviour of Violet’s best friend Katie in some ways, as she acts out in response to feeling stifled in her private school bubble. I thought it was awesome how this book managed to cover “Issues” while still being so light and funny. There were moments of deep emotion, where I got so mad at the school principal for being unfair or the nasty girl at school for being so, well, nasty, and yet also moments where I laughed out loud (not something that happens often when I read a book). This is a really great contemporary book full of the humour and heartache of being a teenager; I highly recommend it.


Find Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 26, 2010

Freefall by Mindi Scott

Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 315
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend, Isaac, alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time when Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn't wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend's death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth soon realizes he isn't the only one who needs saving . . .

My Thoughts:
Overall I definitely enjoyed this book. You could tell that Seth was a good guy who really wanted to succeed and make something of himself. However, I was a little bit surprised at the tone of this book. I expected it to be very dark, but I was surprised that while Seth has to deal with some very serious issues, I never found the book to be especially depressing. I expected there to be more of a fight between Seth’s decision to be clean and in school versus taking the easy route, but I didn’t really see a lot of struggle there. In one way, I think this is a good thing. It’s clear from the beginning that being off drugs and alcohol is Seth’s decision, so I’m glad this wasn’t another “saved by the love of a good woman” type of story. Rosetta was really sweet and kind, and I think she and Seth were a good match.

I don’t mean to sound so negative, I guess 'Freefall' was just different than I expected it to be. It wasn't the right book for me at this time, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have merit. Like I said, I did enjoy this book, and I can see why it’s been getting a lot of praise. It's a really great contemporary novel that involves a serious and important topic. I’m glad that there are novels like ‘Freefall’ because they may encourage a more open dialogue between teens and adults, and even between teens themselves, to talk about the serious effects alcohol and drugs can have.


Find Freefall by Mindi Scott on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 23, 2010

Past Midnight (#1) by Mara Purnhagen

Sorry that it's been a week between posts! I can't believe it, but in 3 weeks I will be in possession of an MLIS. It's crazy how close I am to being finished my master's degree, but of course that also means a flurry of assignments before the finish. I've managed to schedule a couple of posts, so hopefully I can cut down on the gaps between posts until I'm done school and I can focus on the blog as I continue to job search.

Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 216
Review Source: eBook from publisher for honest review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive...

My Thoughts:
When I wrote my initial feelings on Goodreads after I finished this book I summed it up in three words: enjoyable, suspenseful, creepy. Let me start this review by saying that I seem to have this problem where I love ghost stories, but they totally terrify me at the same time. And I don’t mean that “good” type of terrified that some people seem to love. No, I literally get petrified by most books or movies that delve into what I might call the horror genre. So I will tell you that, thankfully, while this book has creepy ghosts and spirit activity in it, it probably won’t keep you up at night. And I mean that as a compliment -- for wusses like me this book was the perfect mixture of suspense and creepy ghostly encounters, while still allowing me to function.

I really liked how Mara Purnhagen combined the paranormal aspects of the book with real-life contemporary YA issues, like Charlotte’s parents embarrassing her and how it can be difficult to make friends at a new school. I felt like this book was unique because Charlotte was just a normal girl, and all the people interacting with her (minus the ghosts) were human beings. I was so glad it didn’t turn out to be another “fall in love with a supernatural being” book. It fits with the genre, but it’s still unique and fresh. I also liked how while this book is the first in a series, the major storyline of the book was wrapped up, so you’re not left hanging. My one complaint is that this book is rather short. It made it a nice, quick read, but I wished I could have been emersed in the story for a longer period of time. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I would definitely recommend it to people (like me) who usually stay away from paranormal books, because I thought it was really well done.


Find Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 15, 2010

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic Canada
Pages: 311
Review Source: Won a copy from YA Book Shelf

Synopsis: (from
Plain Kate lives in a world of magic and curses, where cats can talk and shadows can bring back the dead. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans seem to reveal hidden truths about their owners. But she and her village have fallen on hard times: Kate's father dies, crops fail, and a strange sickness is spreading across the countryside. The village is looking for someone to blame, and for her skill with a knife, Kate is accused of witchcraft.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: If Kate gives him her shadow, he'll grant her heart's wish, and he'll also find a way for her to escape the angry townspeople. Kate reluctantly agrees, not realizing that she's given a powerful tool to a man driven mad with grief. Aided by new friends and armed with the carving knife that has never failed to show her the truth, Kate must stop Linay in his terrible plan of revenge and become the heroine she knows is within her.

My Thoughts:
I think I could give four stars to this book just for Taggle alone. I’m what you might call a “cat person,” so reading about this great cat character was a huge bonus. To me, Taggle was a huge part of the book. He really represented the changes in Plain Kate, and he did this while being both deliciously catty and wise in a not quite human way at the same time. Besides Taggle, though, this book really resonated with me. It truly felt like an old world fairy tale, with symbols, witches, the weather representing the mood, and the buying of shadows. Kate is a lovely character, both strong and sad, and I really rooted for her as I read the book, wanting her to find the love and acceptance she so desired. This book is so different from all the typical YA books out there, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good fairy or folk tale, or a book with strong characters and mythology behind them.


Find Plain Kate by Erin Bow on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 12, 2010

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 377
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely breezed through ‘Losing Faith’ because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I can’t believe this is Denise Jaden’s first novel, because the writing flowed so beautifully and the main character, Brie, was so engaging. I do want to get nitpicky for a second and say that I thought the action at the end happened a little too quickly, and while Tessa was an interesting sidekick character, I felt like her story alone could be a whole novel. However, besides a few things like this, I absolutely loved ‘Losing Faith.’

I was really glad to see religion brought into a mainstream book, even though parts of it were the scary side of what religion can do to people. This book is great because whether you’re a person of faith or not, I think you’ll appreciate this book, since it’s not a Christian novel, it just involves Christianity. As I said, I found Brie to be very engaging, and I was really rooting for her, wanting her to find out what happened to her sister, and hoping that her parents would start to be okay again after losing their other daughter. Denise Jaden has written a very interesting novel that contains friendship, family, grief, suspense, and even a little romance. I would definitely recommend this book.


Find Losing Faith by Denise Jaden on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day

I'd like to take time away from book reviews and make a post about Remembrance Day. I specifically scheduled this post for 11 am, because it marks the ending of War War I on November 11, 1918.

Why celebrate Remembrance Day?
"We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument."

I'm a peace loving person. I don't generally believe in war. But our country would not be where it is today without the brave soldiers who have fought for Canada, and continue to do so. On a personal note, my grandparents might not be alive today if the Canadians hadn't liberated the Netherlands when they did. So please take a bit of time today, no matter where you are in the world, to remember those who have fallen for your country. Every day should be Remembrance Day, but today is an extra special time to think about freedom and sacrifice.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A few links to information about Remembrance Day:

November 10, 2010

Life is Good Award

I'd like to say a big thank you to Meghan from Midnight Fume who has awarded me the 'Life is Good' Award.

Here are the "rules" for this award:
  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
  2. Answer the following survey questions mentioned below.
  3. Pass it on to another 15 Blogs that are fairly new and interesting to you.
  4. Contact the bloggers so they know they've been chosen.

This award is given to blogs that you find fun and/or interesting, and the questions allow your blog followers to get to know you better. And now, onto the questions...

If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?
I would say I definitely don't blog anonymously... as in, everyone knows my name and I put my picture up, and people in my "real life" know I'm a book blogger. Besides the general purpose of writing reviews because I like to do it, I see my blog as a networking opportunity for my future profession (public librarian), so I definitely wouldn't change the fact that I don't blog anonymously.

Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:
Hmmm, I'm not sure I can think of one specific incident! That's kind of a difficult one... I am VERY stubborn, though, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I don't like giving up on things, and I tend to be very stubborn with trying things myself and wanting to do things right. Maybe it comes with being an only child?

What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
I think when I truly take a good look, I see someone who has matured a lot in the past few years... I see the person I was, who I am, who I want to become. And then, of course, on the surface non-metaphorical level I see a really pale 20-something girl with glasses who could pass for a teenager, and with hair that isn't really blonde, brown, or red, but it somewhere inbetween.

What is your favorite summer cold drink?
It's a toss up between iced tea and lemonade.

When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Most of my time is spent doing assignments for library school (which I'm almost done, I can't believe it!), so when I have "me" time I pretty much just read, watch TV, and update the blog.

Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
I'd really like to get a librarian job within 6 months of graduating... it would be so amazing. Outside of career goals, I'd love to visit Holland see where my grandparents grew up.

When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?
In elementary school I was painfully shy. I'm still quiet and introverted to an extent, but I'm not really shy. I was never a teacher's pet, but I've always been the "smart" one. Now in my master's program we're all just geeky librarians. ;)

If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?
I guess I have two answers. One, would be when I found out my parents were splitting up. It just totally changed my whole reality and future, so in that way it had a huge impact on me. Another is when I found out I was accepted to my master's program. I had a year off between undergrad and grad school, and I hadn't been able to find a job... I felt like I was completely stuck, I didn't know where I was going. I applied really late to the program, and there were only 2 spots left, and a lot of applicants... and then I found out I was accepted, and it (once again) changed my whole future and reality. Both those moments meant a lot, in 2 very different ways.

Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
Well, I guess these answers show that I definitely don't mind sharing about myself and my feelings. This is a very public forum, so I would never share intimate details about my life, but for more general thoughts and feelings, I feel good about being open. I suppose it's much easier to write about other people because it's not going to personally change you or effect you at all.


I am actually going to break the rules of this award, and not pass this on to anyone in particular. Hopefully that's okay with everyone. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to answer the questions, however...
  1. I'd like to draw everyone's attention to my left sidebar and point out the "Great YA Book Blogs" I have linked there, & ...
  2. I'd be glad to present this award to anyone reading this who feels like answering these questions and passing it on to other bloggers.

Thanks again for presenting me with my very first award, Meghan! It means a lot!! =)

November 8, 2010

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 278
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on "a touch of Asperger’s.”

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.

It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

My Thoughts:
I wasn’t totally sure what to expect with this book, I just knew I wanted to read it because I had heard so many people talking about how good it was. And? The reviews I read were absolutely correct. I breezed through this book, not just because it’s not super long, but because I was so emotionally invested in Drea and her story. Having this story told through Drea’s perspective was really interesting. I like how Tara Kelly wrote at the back of the book that this story is not about people with Asperger’s and/or ADHD, but about one individual’s journey who happens to have those conditions. I appreciated how blunt and honest Drea was, and I liked how she was confused with certain social norms, because it made sense to me. Who hasn’t questioned the way that things are before?

There are so many things about this book that are so great. The characters, the plot itself, and the writing were amazing. I loved the relationship between Drea and Justin; I liked how he wasn’t afraid to call Drea on how she judges everyone, and how he was also gentle and kind to her, even when she wasn’t sure how to behave. Nevertheless, I thought that their relationship progressed a little too quickly to be believable; Drea’s change in personality seemed so drastic in a couple of scenes. Naomi was interesting... I kind of wanted to smack her and make her all better at the same time. One thing about the synopsis: I thought that the band would have played a much larger role in the book, considering the description, but it wasn’t really a huge thing, although Drea's love of music was a main part of it. I would definitely recommend this to older teens because of its more mature themes (sex, drugs, some language), but for anyone who feels old enough to read it, this was a really beautiful and emotionally honest book.


Find Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 4, 2010

Cover Reveal: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Have you seen the gorgeous cover for Melissa Walker's new book?


What do you think? I love the fonts used, and I love how interesting the cover is in general... how about the apple? It adds a cuteness to the haunting feel, yet it's still ominous at the same time. Plus I'm sure it has some interesting religious significance, considering the topic of the book. Here's the official description:

Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.

You can add "Small Town Sinners" to Goodreads here (it doesn't come out until July 2011, unfortunately!) & be sure to check out Melissa Walker's blog for the upcoming cover story.

Leviathan #2: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 485
Review Source: Simon & Schuster Canada, for honest review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.

My Thoughts:
This was a great second chapter to Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. ‘Behemoth’ held my attention even more than the previous book. I think this is because most of the world-building had already happened in the previous book, and we had already been introduced to the characters, so this book could focus on getting to know Deryn, Alek, and the others more deeply, while also focusing more on the action. I’m not someone who is usually a fan of long descriptions, but Westerfeld’s words, along with the gorgeous artwork by Keith Thompson, bring Istanbul and the whole world of the Clankers and Darwinists come to life.

If you enjoy steampunk, alternate history, or even a good adventure story, I think you would like ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Behemoth.’ One of my favourite additions to this book was Bovril, but I don’t want to spoil it, so you’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean. Despite the length of this book, it’s an easy read, and I think teens (as well as adults) of all ages and both genders would appreciate it. I’m a big fan of Westerfeld’s writing, and I look forward to reading the completion to this trilogy when it comes out.


Find Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld on Goodreads, Book Depository, &

November 1, 2010

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

Release Date: August 5, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 272
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
What if all your wishes really came true?

Kayla McHenry’s sweet sixteen sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla’s secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually came true. Because they never freakin’ do.

Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year’s supply of gumballs arrives. A boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of the same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla’s wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride . . . but they MUST STOP. Because when she was fifteen? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her. And Ben is her best friend’s boyfriend.

My Thoughts:
This book is funny, sweet, and so perfectly in tune with the voice of teenagers. Kayla’s cynical yet vulnerable nature reminded me so much of high school, and I wish I had this book back then to put in the hands of some of my friends. Kayla’s attitude toward everything and anyone popular reminded me a lot of people I knew in high school, which is partially why the book rang so true to me. I really appreciated the lessons that Kayla learned throughout the book, and I think Mandy Hubbard did a good job at presenting a "Message" without it being didactic. Instead of preaching to readers, Hubbard allows you to love and empathize with Kayla and be happy for her when she realizes some things about herself. The “I’m in love with my best friend’s boyfriend” plot device is a bit old, but I still squee’d at the chemistry between Kayla and Ben. All of the birthday wishes led to crazy and interesting situations which ranged from being absolutely hilarious to touching and sad. If you’ve been searching for a quick and funny read which also has romantic aspects and emotional depth, look no further.


Find You Wish by Mandy Hubbard on Goodreads, Book Depository, &


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