June 30, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness - June Wrap-Up

RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) is an amazing feature hosted each month by Isalys and Vanessa at Book Soulmates. Click the banner above to find out more information.

June was another awesome month for RAK!

As I mentioned last month, Sara had sent me 2 books, but they hadn't arrived yet. She sent me two books that we both adore, which are 'Wither' and 'Jellicoe Road'.

Emilie sent me 'Clockwork Angel' because she had an extra copy. This makes the 4th Cassie Clare book I have been gifted in the past two months. How cool is that?

Katherine sent me that chapter sampler of 'The Death Cure' because she saw I had that book on my wishlist. I can't wait to delve into it!

What I sent out:
One of my favourite reads, 'Anna and the French Kiss', to Sonia.

Needless to say, this was a very exciting RAK month. Thank you again, ladies! The coolest thing is that all the books I received came from Canadian bloggers, and the book I gifted was to a Canadian blogger as well!

I've signed up again for RAK in July. You can view my wishlist here.

Between by Cyndi Tefft

Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Self-pubbed
Pages: 224
Series: Between #1
Review Source: eBook for review from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

My Thoughts:
What I Liked:
- the time travel-y type aspect of the book
- the ability of Lindsey and Aiden to “cast” into their own memories and to change their reality
- the plot twist that occurs about 1/2 way through: it literally made to say “woah!”
- a few of the more emotionally honest scenes, like one particular encounter between Lindsey and her Dad

What I Disliked:
- insta-love to the extreme: I really couldn’t stomach the relationship between Lindsey and Aiden, and when I couldn’t buy into their relationship it pretty much meant the book was lost to me
- Aiden: he seemed like a stereotype or a cliche, rather than an actual character, and I found him to be pretty skeevy (when he checks out Lindsey's mom's butt is one particular example that sticks out in my mind... ew)
- Lindsey: she was weak and mopey, and pretty selfish as well, wanting to choose death over her family, friends, and whole life, just because of some guy she just met

Definitely not the book for me. It all rested upon Lindsey and Aiden’s relationship, which meant I really didn’t enjoy it. I basically skimmed the last 1/3 of the book in order to finish it.

The book just doesn’t really feel like a YA title, partially because of the sexual content (the lust factor of it all), but a lot because of the characters as well. However, as always, I have seen positive reviews for ‘Between’, so feel free to peruse those and see if this might be the book for you.

The Cover: I like the blue colour and I think it works - it's memorable. The tagline is really great as well.


Find Between by Cyndi Tefft on Goodreads. Click on over to Cyndi's blog to find the many ways of purchasing 'Between'.

June 29, 2011

Future Reads (8)

Future Reads is a feature on Book Labyrinth where I sporadically post about books coming out in the near (or not so near!) future and explain why I want to read them. This feature is inspired by memes and features like Waiting on Wednesday and Books to Pine For. I hope you'll discover something you want to read as well! (All title links will take you to Goodreads.)

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Release Date:
November 2011

One for the Contemps Challenge, it sounds seriously sad but good. Harper takes a road trip to deal with her sister's suicide, and ends up discovering love and secrets.

Legend by Marie Lu
Release Date:
November 29, 2011

This one seems to be getting a lot of hype. It sounds great, though... a republic at war, a privileged girl hunting down her sister's killer. Suspense, action, & romance? Yes please.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date:
January 2, 2012

You guys know that I hate insta-love, but I'm definitely intrigued by this premise. It's set over a period of 24 hours and it involves two people with very cool names (Hadley and Oliver). Oliver just happens to be a cute British guy. Um yes, I think I'll check this one out!

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
Release Date:
January 3, 2012

Sprawling gothic mansion, hot new stepbrother (ooer?), ghosts... I don't even know what all, but it sounds fabulous! Plus I just love the cover.

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
Release Date:
February 6, 2012

I absolutely LOVED The Mockingbirds, so I'm really excited for this next installment.

I hope you've enjoyed these future reads! What not yet released books are you looking forward to?

June 28, 2011

Walk the Wild Road by Nigel Hinton

Release Date: January 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages: 272
Series: n/a
Review Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Leo took one step forward and then stopped. This was it-the road away from everything he knew. He could turn back. But then who would save his family from starvation? No, Leo was their last hope. He must go on...

The journey is not easy-he'll have to sleep on the streets, steal food, and even fight off greedy soldiers. Along the way, Leo discovers the kindness of strangers and the loyalty of friends. But he also learns there are some people you just can't trust, especially when you're on the wild road to America.

My Thoughts:
‘Walk the Wild Road’ is a perfect middle grade adventure novel. Nigel Hinton uses straightforward language to tell Leo’s story, but he focuses on very serious subject matters. Right from the beginning Leo’s conditions of living are pretty devastating and his situation is quite drastic. The story is about Leo’s journey and about his survival. There are plenty of scary and sad situations described throughout the book, but there are fun and sweet moments as well.

The book features a whole cast of interesting and lovable characters that Leo meets along the way, including Bel the dog who is a lovely animal companion. The great thing about this book is that while it is an adventure story it also delves deeper into really important issues like war, nationalism, religion, and poverty. It doesn’t do this in a heavy way, though, and it doesn’t try to teach a lesson. It’s just a part of the story: a part of Leo’s reality. I definitely enjoyed reading about Leo’s journey and I appreciated that while the ending was bittersweet it also showed a lot of hope for Leo’s future. I would definitely recommend this for young boys who like adventure and survival stories, but also for readers of all ages who appreciate a layered story of "daring and adventure", as the cover says.

The Cover: I like it! It draws me in, and I think it represents the story perfectly.


Find Walk the Wild Road by Nigel Hinton on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

Top Ten Bookish Websites

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Bookish Websites

1. Better World Books: I haven’t actually used this site, but the idea behind it? Amazing. They sell new and used books to raise money for literacy initiatives around the world (libraries, not-for-profits, etc).

2. Book Blogs Ning: I’m new to this site, but it seems like a pretty great resource. You can connect with other bloggers who review the same genre, or maybe those who live in the same area. It’s a social network specifically for book bloggers, which makes it pretty cool.

3. Book Depository: I’m pretty positive most people know about Book Depository’s awesomeness, but how can I not mention it? Such great prices, no tax, and free shipping around the world? Just... wow.

4. Edelweiss: I haven’t used this one a lot, but it’s so perfect for searching different publisher’s catalogues in one spot. You could spend hours looking through all the awesomeness!

5. Fiction_L: This is a really good readers advisory source if you’re looking for a book with a particular setting or on a particular topic. Check out their assembled lists, but also search the archive. Can also be helpful if you’re looking for a particular book.

6. Free Book Friday: This site is exactly what it sounds like. Every Friday (if you're in the US or Canada) you can sign up for the chance to win free books! The site was founded by author Jessica Brody.

7. Goodreads: My love of Goodreads precedes book blogging, but now that I'm reading more than ever and finding out about even more awesome books it's such a perfect tool to keep track of my TBR list. Plus I love seeing my friends' reviews and keeping track of what I've read as well.

8. Netgalley: Kind of a ‘duh’, but how awesome is Netgalley? It allows us non-US bloggers and bloggers with a bit lesser following to get early access to some amazing books.

9. WorldCat: WorldCat is a global library catalogue. What that means is that you can search the catalogue for a particular book, author, subject... whatever, and WorldCat will tell you which libraries closest to you hold a particular item.

10. Young Adult Book Blog Search Engine: Looking for reviews on a specific book? You’ll find them here! Better yet, add your own blog to the search engine so people can find your reviews easily.

I hope I've been able to introduce you to a few new websites, and I'm excited to see which ones other people have listed!

June 27, 2011

Karma by Cathy Ostlere + Author Interview

Release Date: March 31, 2011
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Pages: 528
Series: n/a
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world. KARMA is the story of how a young woman, straddling two cultures and enduring personal loss, learns forgiveness, acceptance and love.

My Thoughts:
What a beautiful novel! I believe this is actually the first book I've read that was written in verse, so that made me a bit nervous at first. I wasn't sure what to expect, but thankfully I found it quite easy to sink into. The writing is gorgeous and flowing, and the subject matter is at times horrifying and then beautiful. The political aspects of the work were fascinating. The book is set in 1984, right before I was born, and I have to say I don't know a lot of went on in India around then. I knew the basics, but this opened up my eyes to what it must have been like for people trying to survive.

So many parts of this book are incredibly intense, and the way they're written about is amazing. So much of the book makes you feel the same way that the characters are feeling. I guess my only complaint is that the relationship between Sandeep and Maya seemed to happen so quickly because we weren't privy to Maya's thoughts during that time period. I love the way that the narrative is split like that (it's a powerful statement), but I really missed hearing from Maya, and it made the conclusion seem very sudden.

Overall, though? This is an incredibly amazing book that deals with so many issues. Politics, racism, religion, family, homeland, gender, love, etc. So many issues are addressed, yet it doesn't seem like an overload. All these things are ingrained in the text in such a specific way, and the messages brought across never seem forced. I absolutely fell in love with Maya, a beautiful and strong girl who was of two worlds, yet belonged to neither.

The Cover: It's so pretty, I love the colours. Represents the romance aspect well, but not the other (more important and serious) parts.


Find Karma by Cathy Ostlere on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

I'm so pleased today to be hosting Cathy Ostlere, a fellow Canadian and the author of Karma, for an interview. 'Karma' is such an interesting book that just makes you want to talk about it, so I was very excited when Cathy agreed to answer some of my questions.

For those who don’t know, what inspired the story of Karma?

A three-month trip through India in 1984 inspired this story. While I travelled across the country, I was sensually challenged by noise, crowds, filth, poverty, and sometimes felt frightened, particularly the weeks after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. I had to work very hard to accept this often wild, passionate, complicated country on its own terms. When I was finally able to pull back the veil of my own fear, I was standing on the Ghats of Varanasi in front of a burning funeral pyre listening to prayers for the dead – this was when I learned to love the country. India is beautiful, rich in history, religion, and culture, and has had a divisive past. I decided to explore some of these complexities by setting Karma during the ’84 riots when thousands of Sikhs were murdered for retribution. It was a bold, often uncomfortable decision on my part and much of my time was spent getting the facts and the emotions accurate.

How easy (or difficult) was it to get into the heads of both Maya and Sandeep, since perspective shifts throughout different parts of the novel?
I never felt like I was in their heads. It was more like sitting in my office listening to Maya and Sandeep talk to me while I wrote down everything they had to say. Sandeep was always funny, a flirt, and generally irreverent, in spite of his own painful memories. And I was pleased when he started to settle down and take his life seriously. Maya’s breakdown was horrible to experience and even I wasn’t certain that she’d be able to pull herself out of it. The arrival of her mother’s voice at Maya’s moment of need showed me that in spite of Leela’s death, Maya had been mothered well enough and could ensure her own survival.

I love that the characters' voices came to you like that. It definitely makes them seem more real.

What types of issues were you trying to address when writing Karma? Did you go in with a specific message in mind, or did the elements rise up organically?

I did not start (or necessarily even end) with any kind of intended message. Karma was completely character-driven. I always asked questions of my characters like: What would Maya do next? What does Sandeep want to do and what is stopping him? Why is Akbar so mean and angry? But as the story unfolded, it became clearer that the two main characters were motivated by love, a sense of duty (to themselves and each other), truth, peace, and forgiveness. But these are the things they taught me in the writing – I did not place the words in their mouths so I could stay on message. For me, Maya and Sandeep were very real, independent people.

That's so lovely! I often find that the best novels that deal with "issues" tend to be the ones written with the characters in mind, without trying to put a specific message across.

Was writing the novel in verse natural for you? Have you written in verse before?

Surprisingly, writing in verse was very natural. Karma came out of stream-of-consciousness writing that I was able to pull apart, phrase by phrase. I loved working with the text until I felt the line was tight, almost bare, but bursting with imagery, sound, truth, or a voice. This is my first work of verse. And I may do more but the verse would have to suit the story and characters. Karma’s style was organic and true to its origins and I believe that would have to be true in my future books.

If you only had 3 words to describe Maya, what would they be? What about Sandeep?
Maya: independent, passionate, self-reliant
Sandeep: curious, moral, humorous

What are some of your favourite recent YA novels?
This is an every changing list, but today this is what pops into my head: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Keesha’s House by Helen Frost; His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman; The Apprentice’s Masterpiece by Melanie Little; and, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin. Okay, so those aren’t very recent. I better get reading! Do you have some suggestions?

Oh, do I ever have some suggestions. ;) I'll have to send some titles your way.

What is something that most people would be surprised to learn about you?

I didn’t plan on having any children and I have three!

I’m afraid of camels.

I get nervous when I write – my stomach flips!

What can readers expect from you next?
An adult novel and a second YA novel set in a foreign country – not sure which book will be finished first. I’m also working on a film script for my first book, Lost: A Memoir.

You can visit Cathy at her website, or follow her on
her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cathy, thank you so much for stopping by Book Labyrinth today. 'Karma' is such an inspiring and powerful book and I hope that some more people will pick it up after reading your well thought out answers.

June 26, 2011

Fave Reads of 2011 (So Far) -- The Characters

inkcrush is hosting these awesome little awards. I love lists, so I thought I would join in.

1. best female POV
Do you know how tough that question is? Well, I want to feature a new book, so how about Kate from The Liar Society.

2. best male POV
I don't read a lot of male POV, so that makes things a bit easier. But still, Adam from Where She Went? Pretty epic.

3. best couple <3
Rose & Dimitri? Chloe & Derek? Tris & Four? Oh man, I could go on. Too many to choose from!

4. who i so want to be best friends with
I already gushed about her in the previous post, but definitely Evie from Paranormalcy. She's adorable, I love her! She would be a great friend, too.

5. who i fell completely in love with (new literary crush)
Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road. Um, yah. But I seriously cannot overlook Adrian or Zachary.

6. worst (best) villian
I had to stop and think about who would be considered an out and out villain. Valentine definitely made the list. What a d-bag.

7. best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa)
I really can't think of any extreme examples, but how about Steldor from Legacy? At first I hated him because the main character goes on and on about how much she can't stand him, but then I kind of grew to like him. He has ambition (but not in a zealous way) and he's actually a decent guy underneath his ego. I mean, he puts up with Alera's shenanigans, so there you go.

8. best kick-arse female
Is it Tris or Saba? I'll say it's a tie because I love them both and don't want them to have to fight it out.

9. best kick-arse male
Definitely Four. I mean, Four. The significance of his name kind of says it all, but then there's his beliefs and his steadfastness and his strength (etc).

10. broke your heart the most
Probably Adam in Where She Went.

11. best/worst character names
Linden is pretty bad, isn't it? Gabry and Catcher are pretty annoying, too. Love the name Aura, and Merista is very pretty as well.

BONUS: 5 fave covers (from books i have read)

In My Mailbox (19)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction.

Here's what I received during the past two weeks:


For Review:

**All links lead to Goodreads

June 25, 2011

Fave Reads of 2011 (So Far) -- The Books

inkcrush is hosting these awesome little awards. I love lists, so I thought I would join in. Unfortunately I was too lazy for covers, but hopefully you'll enjoy my picks anyway. =)

1. favourite book read so far in 2011
I would probably have to say Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta because it easily makes my Top Favourite Books EVER list.

2. most powerful book
Gotta go with Jellicoe again -- I found myself describing it as "life changing". So, yah.

Also If I Stay by Gayle Forman -- wowza. This one certainly packs an emotional punch.

3. brilliantly funny
Past Perfect by Leila Sales -- loveeeee almost everything about this book, but especially how much it made me laugh.

4. best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read
Where She Went by Gayle Forman -- oh Adam. You're so emo and broken and sad. I dare you to not feel weepy during this one, even if you don't actually cry.

5. most beautiful story
Hmm, possibly a lot of contenders, but I'll go with one I just finished and have not yet reviewed -- The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle. I can't believe this one is a debut! The story is heart wrenching, but lovely, I think, in its explorations of grief.

6. delicious rainy day comfort read
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong -- or the whole 'Darkest Powers' trilogy, really. I'm not sure why this is comforting to me, but delicious? Definitely. Just a really fun action-packed book with great characters.

7. adrenaline-fueled, unputdownable award
Divergent by Veronica Roth -- it absolutely lives up to the hype, and I could not put it down! tons of action

8. the beautiful prose award
Stay by Deb Caletti -- one of the reasons I gave this book 5 Stars is because I loved the writing so much. I swear my reaction throughout the whole book was "ugh" but not in a bad way. In an "ugh, that is so freaking beautiful" "ugh that sentence is amazing" type of way.

9. most atmospheric and vivid setting
Wither by Lauren DeStefano -- the manor house is so gothic, and even though the grounds are huge the book has such a stifling atmosphere. And then there's the mysterious basement. Dun dun dun.

10. i-so-want-to-go-there award
Waterfall (and Cascade) by Lisa T. Bergren -- so I don't want people continually trying to murder me like they are to poor Gabi, and I don't exactly want all the disease, but medieval Italy? C'mon. It would be worth a short trip to check out the countryside and all the amazing castles.

11. most original and imaginative
Blood Red Road by Moira Young -- partially because of the dialect it's written in, but it just felt like something new. It's not a typical dystopian/post-apocalyptic, or at least it didn't feel like one to me.

12. best under-appreciated, hidden gem book
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park -- an example of why big publishers are stupid for turning down amazing books just because they don't fit into a particular box.

13. i-had-no-idea-i-would-love this-so award
Vampire Academy (series) by Richelle Mead -- I was completely giddy when I first read VA. I wasn't a fan of paranormals for the longest time, and I am not a vampire fan at all, so I was so so so (etc) psyched when I loved this series.

14. most haunting story
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan -- I suppose the 3rd book is probably the most haunting of the three, but this one, the 1st, was my favourite. Either way, crazy scary. The paranoid feeling from trying to stay away from the Unconsecrated definitely stays with you. *shivers*

15. outside my comfort zone but gosh how i loved it
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta -- male POV, pretty slow paced. It just doesn't seem like a typical book I would read. I never would have read it except that I loved 'Jellicoe Road' so much. But after reading it? Holy crap. You can check out my Goodreads review here.

16. series that i’m loving
I wanted to go with a series that isn't finished yet, so: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready -- love Jeri's writing, love the plot, love Aura's voice, and loveeee (!) Zachary.

17. most memorable voice award
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White -- how cute is Evie?? I absolutely ADORE her! She loves pink, is excited by things that are totally normal to us (like lockers), and she loves watching teen soaps on TV. Something about her is just so energetic and awesome, and because her voice is so unique for the genre it definitely makes it memorable.

18. completely awesome premise award
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney -- this one tackles very serious topics (date rape and justice), but where the awesome premise comes in is the student run justice committee. Oh yah, and it's named/based after 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. Yah, pretty awesome.

19. would make the best movie
I'm sure there are tons, but my #1 vote goes to Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. I did, after all, go on about how movie-like this book is in my review.

20. want to re-read already
Divergent -- I basically wanted to re-read this as soon as I finished it, so yah. Definitely this one.

June 24, 2011

Silky by Lazette Gifford

Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: ACOA
Pages: 261
Series: Silky #1
Review Source: eBook for review from author

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Captured as a child and sold into heartless slavery, life has robbed Silky of his magical abilities and left him with no expectations of a better life -- until his own act of bravery delivers him into the hands of a powerful Lord of the Land.

His troubles are far from over since Lord Reed is out of favor with the King and danger threatens at any mischance. Working with Lord Reed starts him along a path that will lead to power, danger and heartbreak -- and a future the young slave boy could never have imagined.

My Thoughts:
'Silky' is a fantasy book that focuses a lot on the court politics of Anthica, the land where the story takes place. The main character of the novel is Silkation, or Silky as he quickly comes to be called. It was very interesting to see Silky rise from his life in slavery to be a freedman and then gain even more power as the story goes on.

I'm sort of on the fence with this book, though. There were some parts I really enjoyed, and I even liked the whole basis of the story. However, I found it hard to care a lot about the characters. The narration almost felt removed to a certain extent, so I didn't really get to know any of the characters that well. And for the characters whose motivations we did get to see? I'm not sure I bought it. Silky was so self-sacrificial, which I do understand, but it got to be a bit much at times. And during the second half of the book he was supposed to be so powerful, but he always had to be protected by his friends. Then there's the villain, Amity (gotta love the name irony). I understand that some people are selfish, and some people seem to be just plain evil, but would a person stoop to such horrible actions just because they wants attention? It seemed a bit much, especially because she grew up with such a lovely family, so I can't see why she would be that way.

Don't get me wrong, there definitely were aspects of the book I liked. Perhaps it just didn't really feel like much of a YA novel. It was also disappointing for me that there were very few female characters at all, though I guess it makes sense because of the men ruling the land. I did really enjoy the ending, even though I expected the one thing to happen right from the beginning. I wish we had gotten to hear more about Silky's personal journey and the emotions behind everything rather than all the political intrigue and the mechanical descriptions of law-making.

The Cover: I hate be to be critical, but ouch. It's pretty bad. Like it kind of creeps me out bad. =(


Find Silky by Lazette Gifford on Goodreads.

Buy the eBook through Amazon, B&N, & Smashwords.


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