June 28, 2012

Canada Day Blog Hop 2012

Happy (almost) Canada Day, everyone!!

To celebrate my love for this awesome country I've decided to take part in the Canada Day Blog Hop, hosted by Aislynn, Chrystal, and Carmel.

Here are the prizes:

1 winner will receive a book of their choice (up to $15, so if you can find 2 under $15, even better!) by a Canadian author. I am also willing to preorder for any 2012 titles yet to be released.

Here are just a few examples of YA books by Canadian authors:

There are so many great Canadian YA authors including Lesley Anne Cowan, Kelley Armstrong, Lesley Livingston, Alyxandra Harvey, Denise Jaden, Jeyn Roberts, Sarah Mlynowski, Y.S. Lee, Jessica Martinez, Eileen Cook, Moira Young, Kenneth Oppel, Megan Crewe, Jo Treggiari, Janet Gurtler ... and the list goes on! (Your choice doesn't have to be a YA title, that's just what I'm most familiar with.)

I will also be giving away 5 swagpacks, made up of the following...

I have items from Canadian authors Kenneth Oppel, Rhiannon Paille, Catherine Austen, Megan Crewe, Kelley Armstrong, and Denise Jaden, as well as bookmarks from Razorbill Canada and cool library cards from Open Book Toronto, and tons of other great stuff from non-Canadian authors as well.

The details:

  • Open internationally (everywhere for swag, and everywhere Book Depository ships for the book)
  • 5 winners (1 "grand prize" winner will receive the book of choice as detailed above AND a swag pack which will include the larger swag items; 4 other winners will receive a 'regular size' swag pack)
  • Ends July 2 at 12:01 am EST
  • I will email each winner for their mailing address & they will have 72 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen
  • To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below (From 1 - 8 entries available)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are links to the other blogs participating in the hop. Have fun entering, and Happy Canada Day!!!

June 27, 2012

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

Release Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pages: 416
Series: Grand Tour
Review Source: From publisher for blog tour review

It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father's health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.

Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person's education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King-a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.

My Thoughts:
'Glamorous Illusions' confirmed for me that Lisa T. Bergren knows how to write great characters that you root for. This book allows a glimpse into the life of Cora, who is put into a difficult situation and is then whisked away to foreign countries with people who don't necessarily accept her. It's interesting to see Cora's strength come out as her beliefs and values are questioned and while she deals with her new situation.

The book also offers the POV of Will, one of the tour guides, who is forbidden from having feelings for any of his charges. This isn't enough to stop the connection that he feels with Cora, however. Will is an interesting character who is also grappling with who he is. He's questioning his lot in life and figuring out who he wants to become. Will must reconcile what he wants to do versus what his responsibilities are.

'Glamorous Illusions' is a little bit slow at times, which made it hard to get into at first. I liked the characters and I was interested in general, but I would have liked more action and description about the activities and sites in Europe to balance out the internal philosophizing. Thankfully, though, by about half way I became more invested in the story and the action towards the end really drew me in.

This is an enjoyable book with likeable and sympathetic characters, and I'm very curious to see where the relationships go as Cora's grand tour continues in the next book.

The Cover:
Not to be punny, but I do love how glamorous it looks.


Find Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

You can check out links and excerpts from reviews as well as details about the book on the Glamorous Illusions Blog Tour page.

Lisa is also hosting a "Glamorous Illusions" Facebook Party TODAY, starting at 8 pm EST.

Here's some more about the event: "Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)"

June 25, 2012

Guest Post: Victoria Hanley on Defining YA

When I was approached by Sourcebooks to be part of the Wild Ink blog tour I was definitely on board right away. Being such a huge fan of YA I'm always curious how other people, especially experts, define YA.

Here's some of what I asked author Victoria Hanley to talk about today:
How do you approach YA? Is it a style of writing, a genre? What’s the age level, and just what makes YA unique?

Victoria Hanley on "Defining YA"

Defining the Young Adult (YA) genre is a bit of a challenge, because as as a group, YA novels are dazzlingly multifaceted. But here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Age of Protagonist. Protagonists in YA novels are usually age 15 – 17.

Style. The YA style emphasizes voice, which means that many YA books are written in first person. The pace tends to be fast, and there’s a trend toward present tense.

Categories of YA. Traditionally, YA books have a recommended reader age of 12+. However, because adults make up at least 50 % of today’s reading audience for YA, there’s a new category with a recommended reader age of 14+. To get a snapshot of the difference between 12+ and 14+, think of the PG-13 movie rating for 12+, while 14+ is closer to an R rating. Both categories are listed as “Young Adult” in online stores, and both are found in “Teen” sections of brick and mortar bookstores and many libraries.

Subgenres. There are dozens of subgenres within YA, so readers have plenty of choices. Here’s a partial list:

  • Contemporary Realistic. Novels in this subgenre can be about anything faced by modern teens, including personal relationships, health problems, multicultural and identity issues, drugs and alcohol—you name it!
  • Speculative Fiction. Covers a lot of territory too, from fantasy to sci-fi, dystopias, paranormal beings, angels and demons, horror.
  • Romance. Go first love! Need I say more?
  • Action-Adventure. Stories featuring wilderness, war, pirates, natural disasters, etc.
  • Mystery. Teen detective mysteries are shorter and less gory than adult mysteries.
  • Historical Fiction. YA themes in a historical setting provide rich storylines.
  • Graphic Novels. Not just comic books! You’ll find contemporary humor along with action, fantasy, sci-fi or other subgenres.

Themes. The young characters in YA books are coming of age. Depending on the author and the subgenre, this means that characters will endure grueling hardships. Adults cannot fix what’s wrong; the characters have to work things out on their own. Often, there’s a blend of passionate honesty, independence and rebellion, wild exploration, breakdown and breakthrough.

Writing YA. If you’re drawn to writing YA, open up to yourself and your experiences. Everywhere you’ve been, everything you’ve done, and everyone you’ve met can help you finish that novel!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Victoria!

Everyone, you can read Chapter Two of Wild Ink, "Getting Your Book in Shape, Novel Writing 1", on Prufrock Press's website.

About the book:
What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.

June 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers can share the latest books they've received and discover new titles while visiting other blogs.

Here's what I've received in the past 2 weeks:


- For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
- Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent
- My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

For Review:

From Simon & Schuster Canada:
- The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent
- Rage Within (Dark Inside #2) by Jeyn Roberts
- Envy (Fury #2) by Elizabeth Miles
- The Blessed by Tonya Hurley
- Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

From Netgalley/Edelweiss:
- The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
- Defiance by C.J. Redwine

June 19, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Release Date: May 15, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion / Doubleday Canada
Pages: 343
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

My Thoughts:
‘Code Name Verity’ is a very emotional book that really hits you hard. It’s a story of war and tragedy, but it’s also a celebration of female power and female friendship. I really connected with both the female characters, and I loved the how the story was was told in an epistolary fashion.

I don’t often like unreliable narrators, but this was one case where it was done so cleverly and interestingly that I really did like it. I had suspicions and curiosities, and that kept me engaged even when the story was a bit slow.

This book was very bittersweet at times and also surprisingly funny (not what you’d expect to read in a book where torture occurs). The characters were so lovely and real feeling that I couldn’t help falling a bit in love with them.

Despite all my praise I have to say I didn’t love this one quite as much as everyone else seems to. It really is slow at times, and not everyone will appreciate all the details about aircraft. However I definitely think ‘Code Name Verity’ is worth a read because it’s a very powerful and important story that will stay with you.

The Cover:
It's okay, but can we talk about how amazing the UK one is?!


Find Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein on Goodreads, Book Depository (OR Book Depository w/ UK cover), & Amazon.

June 16, 2012

Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 336
Series: Hourglass
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

My Thoughts:
It was extremely interesting that the narration in this second Hourglass book shifted to Kaleb’s point of view. Begrudgingly did I like it, and I think it was a bold choice that ended up working, yet I still can’t help but wish that Emerson was still the narrator. There was so much going on with Emerson in the background that I just wish we could have had insight into what she was thinking throughout the book.

What really works for me with these books is the way Myra McEntire writes time travel. The theories, the terms, and the way it all works is so interesting and well done. It never feels cheap or gimmicky... it just feels like the reality for these characters, and the author has done a great job at creating this feeling. This second book is very action packed and you definitely won't be bored, because there's tons going on. There are developments into stopping Jack and figuring out his whole motivations, new enemies of the Hourglass appear, and a romance for Kaleb also begins to blossom.

These are really good books, and yet I can’t seem to get very enthusiastic about them for some reason. I like them, don’t get me wrong, but maybe I just don’t connect with the characters as much as other people do. If you loved the first book, you will definitely love this one, and if you aren’t a fan of the series I would still suggest checking them out. They're a lot of fun, even if they don’t make it onto my favourites list.

The Cover:
It had me at damask.


Find Timepiece by Myra McEntire on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

June 14, 2012

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 418
Series: Bloodlines
Review Source: ARC from Penguin Canada

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The second thrilling installment in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy spinoff series

Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Richelle Mead's breathtaking Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive. In this second book, the drama is hotter, the romances are steamier, and the stakes are even higher.

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to read an early copy of ‘The Golden Lily’, because I absolutely love Richelle Mead’s writing and the characters in this series. I loved seeing Sydney’s character growth in this volume, and especially seeing her interaction with the vampires. It was interesting how Sydney wrestled with all her previous notions about vampires and what she had grown up believing versus what she was experiencing for herself.

While I loved the reading experience, and I love the series and the world Richelle Mead has built, I also found myself a bit frustrated by how obvious some things were. Sydney is supposed to be incredibly intelligent, yet she couldn’t figure out who the “bad guy” was, despite how evident it was to me as a reader. I also thought Sydney’s blindness to Adrian’s feelings for her (and her feelings toward him) was a bit forced at times. I know she’s supposed to be book smart and emotionally awkward, but it seemed a bit too much. Despite that, I still found Sydney and Adrian’s interactions to be all kinds of adorable. I won’t even go into how much I love Adrian’s character, because we would be here all day. Love him, and love those two together.

Despite having a few reservations about this volume I still really liked it for the most part, and I feel like the action and the relationships are going to be even more amped up in the next book, which really excites me. If you liked 'Bloodlines' then you’ll definitely enjoy 'The Golden Lily'.

The Cover:
Love the title font/design and the colour.


Find The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

June 12, 2012

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 485
Series: Blood of Eden
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

My Thoughts:
‘The Immortal Rules’ fascinated me right away because it was vampires but it was also post-apocalyptic. The post-apocalyptic element was very present with run down cities, vampires taking over in the absence of human leadership, and the plague that had been present among the humans. I also loved how the vampires were real predators. The transition isn’t easy and the hunger is present and debilitating for the vampire. I also really liked how Julie Kagawa didn’t shy away from bad things happening and that actions had real consequences.

It was interesting how we got to know Allie as both a human and a vampire character. I’m not sure I would make the same choices as Allie did, but I still really admired her for how strong and brave she was. There was also good character building among the side characters, which I always appreciate.

The book covers a very interesting journey that Allie has to take, as her being a vampire is a huge obstacle with the people she meets and gets to know. Allie questions whether, as a vampire, she can care about people, and even if she can whether it’s the smart thing to do. I enjoyed her getting to know these people and grappling with her feelings.

‘The Immortal Rules’ features both action and internal character development. It covers a good, full story, yet still leaves you intrigued as to where the series is going. I’m really not a vampire fan in general (The Morganville Vampires and Vampire Academy being two strong exceptions), but Julie writes so well and made vampires interesting for me. This is a common theme for her writing, because I haven’t really liked any faerie books either except her Iron Fey series. Overall this was a very interesting start to a new series.

The Cover:
It's pretty evocative, and I really like it!


Find The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.


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