September 29, 2012

A post in which I am interviewed by Rachel

Usually the interviews we all post are questions we've asked someone else. Well, Rachel (from Beauty and the Bookshelf) and I are a bit different, okay? ;) As a collaborative guest post interview type of thingy (I'm all about the technical terms), Rachel has asked ME some questions about myself.

Keep in mind that I started answering these at about 12:30 in the morning after my birthday, so I might have been a wee bit giddy. Here it goes...

1. Describe yourself in the form of a haiku.

Canadian girl
Quiet and a bit unsure
Loves the written word

2. Using the letters of LABYRINTH, please describe your blog.

I can use the letters more than once, right? Because otherwise I give up. ;) Okay, I think I’ve got the perfect description: “A YA lit library”. I have to say I'm kind of high-fiving myself over how well that worked out.

3. Your blog is (obviously) called the Book Labyrinth. Is it because books get you lost in a maze, or because you love the movie? (Dance magic dance, anyone?)

Oh it’s both! Honestly I just wanted a really cool word that was a bit unique, and labyrinth kept sticking out in my mind. I love mazes/labyrinths, both visually and conceptually, and I figured it worked in an abstract way: that reading can make you feel lost in something magical. It also really describes the state of my room. =b But then there’s also the awesome movie angle. I haven’t watched it in years, actually, but it was definitely a favourite of mine when I was a kid.

(Image found here)

4. Why should people visit your blog? What makes it different from all the others?

I think at a certain point it’s not necessarily about uniqueness (although that helps), but it’s really about finding someone whose book tastes you either identify with or admire, and if you’re lucky, perhaps a bit of both.

Within YA I review a good range of genres, and you can always count on me to be honest with my reviews. After struggling with it a bit, I’m proud of the fact that I’m somewhat of a critical reader, and therefore when I give five stars you know that I absolutely loved the reading experience.

5. You're a tribute in the Reader Games! Which three fictional characters are your allies, and which are your enemies?

Eep, who or what are we fighting?! Well since I don’t know for sure I definitely need a girl who can physically kick butt. I’m going to go with the lesser known Kat -- Katsa (Graceling). She’s graced with survival, so I hope that she will let me into her inner circle and protect me too! Second I need someone else with some battle experience, but who is also super smart. It’s got to be Hermione Granger. She’s loyal, brave, and intelligent. Please be on my team, HG! And just in case this isn’t a physical fight, but one of cunning, wit, and overall awesomeness, then I’m going to need Frankie Landau-Banks (The Disreputable History of...) on my team.

Who are our enemies?! Good question. Well, I’m really interested in villains who are layered characters. Ones who are truly bad -- crazy evil and the like, but who also have moments where you can see a sliver of humanity. First off we have Mayor / President Prentiss (Chaos Walking). That guy gave me the shivers (in a bad way, obvs), and yet there are so many moments when you’re like “Omigosh, should I trust him?!” Second, if we’re having a conflicted and complex villain party then I’ve got to invite Warner (Shatter Me) for the eye candy. And then for someone who I really think is just pure evil, there’s Dolores Umbridge. I think I want to punch her even more than I want to punch Voldemort (please note I’ve never punched anyone in my life, so maybe Katsa will do it for me?).

6. Ebook or physical book? Why?

If I had to pick one format to read as it stands right now I think I would pick ebooks. My eReader is portable, I tend to read more quickly on it, and I have hand problems as well, so sometimes an eReader is so much easier to hold/handle. But honestly I love both formats. When it comes down to it I mostly still buy physical books, a lot because of the price, and also because they’re easier to loan. When it comes to book design, physical books will always win as well -- plus the ability to flip back and forth easily, and look things up in indexes more simply, etc. And if it comes to an apocalypse I don’t think I’ll be able to charge my Kobo, so physical books win out in that situation.

7. Favorite book? Least favorite book?

My favourite book is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. You can read my glowing review here. I've also posted about how I'm thankful for Jellicoe, and how I think it's beyond description. I love absolutely everything about that book, including the fact that I fell in love with it even more upon re-read.

As for least favourite... there have been a few that I really didn’t enjoy (you can check out my 'Read' shelf on Goodreads ordered by rating), but honestly I think 'Lord of the Flies' sticks out in my mind as a book from school that I really, really disliked.

8. Three fictional characters: you marry one, kill one, and be in a book with one. Who do you choose?

Ah! I have a lot of book crushes, but I’m like “I can’t marry him, he belongs to ____!” Like, I adore Jonah Griggs so much (hello, my iPhone is named Griggs), but so much of why I love him is because of how he loves Taylor. Welllllll (I’m totally channeling the Tenth Doctor with that), I could play 'eenie meenie miney mo' forever, so it's decided: I’m going to marry Poe/Jamie from the Secret Society Girl books. Bonus: he’s age appropriate! (PS. You must read those books - so fab!)

I’m... going to (get Katsa to) kill Leck, appropriately enough. After reading Bitterblue his atrocities are fresh in my mind, and it breaks my heart that he had the grace to control people the way he did.

To get to be in a book with just one character is hard after being on Team Awesome with those fine ladies (see: above), but... I pick Luna Lovegood. You can read more about why I love Luna here.

9. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I think what I most want to accomplish is just to share my love of reading with others, and to continue to grow as part of the book blogging community. My specific goal is to hear back from people saying “I read this book because of your recommendation”. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear that a few times, which I think is amazing. There's really nothing better than hearing that people respect my reading tastes and feel that I have something valuable to share with them.

10. Five fun facts about you and/or your blog.

Hmm, alrighty... here are some random factoids:
  1. I purposely scheduled my first post on Book Labyrinth to coincide with the release of Mockingjay
  2. The very first movie I saw in theatres was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and I still consider it one of my favourites
  3. When I started blogging I really didn’t read the paranormal genre at all. It took a few really great series (based on recommendations from trusted bloggers!) for me to realize there were some awesome paranormals out there. I’ve actually had a huge post about this in the works for a long time -- maybe eventually I’ll actually finish writing it and post it for you
  4. I think my patronus would be a penguin (see: animal personality test)
  5. I'm left handed, but I do random things right handed. For instance, I play baseball left handed, but hockey and golf right handed.

Well, that was fun! Hope you learned some interesting things about me. =)

September 27, 2012

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 320
Series: The Assassin’s Curse
Review Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

My Thoughts:
This book features pirates, magic, a blood curse, and an assassin. Why yes, that does sound awesome, and ‘The Assassin’s Curse’ lives up to its insanely amazing premise. I actually enjoyed ‘The Assassin’s Curse’ more than I was expecting to, which made me fall in love with it all the more, if that makes sense. It's not every day that a book surpasses your expectations. The concept of this book in general is one that’s been done before, but Cassandra Rose Clarke has made it all her own with amazing characters and phenomenal world-building.

Ananna is a strong and determined character who has grown up as part of a pirate clan. She is witty, smart, and has a great deal of compassion for others, though she wouldn’t like it if you pointed that out. She’s also all kinds of adorable, though she would hate to hear that as well. As her match we have Naji, who is totally the strong and silent type, but who you can just tell is secretly amused by Ananna (Check out Asher's Book Boyfriend post about him for some well-deserved Naji flailing). I really loved how Ananna and Naji brought out different sides in one another and made each other stronger, even if they didn’t realize it most of the time.

This book features some truly fascinating world building. There’s an Arabian Nights-esque feel to the desert and the seaside markets, and there are also pirate guilds and northern islands that none willingly traverse. There’s tricky magic, and a 'working towards a quest' element. Really there’s just so much awesome-ness that it’s hard to describe it all.

‘The Assassin’s Curse’ truly deserves to become the next big hyped YA novel. The writing is fresh, the characters are interesting, and the plot will drag you in and leave you wanting more. I absolutely enjoyed this reading experience.

The Cover:
I love it! The whole concept is gorgeous, but it's also in my favourite colours, which doesn't hurt.


Find The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

September 26, 2012

Guest Post: Kevin Harkness on Fantasy Settings

Today I'm happy to welcome author Kevin Harkness to Book Labyrinth for a guest post. Kevin is a fellow Canadian whose YA debut was released earlier this year.

Here's a little bit more about him:

Kevin Harkness is a Vancouver writer who has just finished a third career as a high-school teacher. His first two careers: industrial 911 operator and late-blooming university student, were nowhere near as dangerous and exciting as teaching Grade 10s the mysteries of grammar and the joys of To Kill a Mockingbird. He also taught Mandarin Chinese – but that’s another story. Outside of family and friends, he has three passions: a guitar he can’t really play, martial arts of any kind from karate to fencing, and reading really good stories. In this fourth career, as a writer, he attempts young adult fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Fantasy Settings: This Doesn’t Look Like Camelot Anymore
By Kevin Harkness

Fantasists are cocky. We write a world, sometimes a whole universe. If you read any fantasy novel, it’s all there: a stone to stub your toe against, a big, blue - or red - sky to wonder at, a stalking beast to fear. Authors take all these bits and weave them into a new land, an ‘undiscovered country’ for the reader. Opening the first page is like drawing back the curtain from a window. If the author does his or her job, you’ll climb through that window into wonder. If we fail, you’ll mash your nose against the glass.

I wonder what we expect to see in that first glance.

I know what I was trained to expect. I grew up in a time when fantasy almost always took place in a quasi-medieval setting, half of it borrowed from the fantasy of King Arthur’s court and the other half from a mish-mash of western mythology and magic. If you were lucky, the story carried you through the overly familiar parts: another many-turreted castle, another knight in too-shiny armor.

Then a revolution broke out, an expansion of fantasy settings into new lands, new mythologies. I first experienced it when I read Andre Norton’s YA novel, Shadow Hawk. It was set in ancient Egypt, a land and time that I still find fascinating forty years later. What a revelation! Sword and sorcery could happen outside an Arthurian or even Tolkienesque world. That liberating trend has continued. Fantasy worlds now range from post-apocalyptic dystopias to Norse sagas and Arabian tales. It is an amazing time to be writing in this field. Or reading.

My own YA fantasy novel, City of Demons, began as an experiment. I taught English in high school and YA novels were a big part of the job. I wanted to see what it took to write one. I began with a concept: what kind of person could stand up to a psychic attack of paralyzing fear? That gave me a protagonist, but where to put him? The medieval setting wouldn’t work. Knights in shining armor would be very easy prey for my demons. So what would my setting be?

In the end, this world had elements of real world historical settings – I was also a Social Studies teacher. There was a bit of Renaissance Europe in the streets and guilds, and medieval China lent an influence to the land’s writing, religion, and theatre. Finally, and I think most importantly, the city of Shirath is shaped by its own imaginary history. For six hundred years, demons have attacked and killed its citizens. I discovered that every aspect of the city is shaped by this danger, from the power structure to its physical dimensions. It is a city built by humans, but shaped by demons.

And maybe that is the secret. You can put your fantasy characters in any setting you want, but the setting can’t be a cardboard cutout for them to lean against. It must be dynamic, changing. Place should be like character: a vital part of the story.

And thankfully, when we go into that rarest of settings, an independent bookstore like White Dwarf Books in Vancouver that is dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy, we are surrounded by many, many inviting, open windows.

Thanks for the fabulous post, Kevin! I totally agree that when a setting is truly great it becomes like another character in the book. I also love that the concept of what a fantasy world is has become more diverse in recent years.

Demons are invading the Midlands for the first time in centuries.

The farmers have no defences against the murderous creatures. Swords in the hands of ordinary soldiers have no effect against demons, for the ability to resist a demon’s power – a projection of paralyzing fear – cannot be taught.

Garet’s life is forever changed the night his midlands family is attacked. Demonstrating a rare talent for resisting demon fear, Garet is taken to the city of Shirath to become a Demonbane: one who can withstand the demons’ psychic assault, trained in combat, and learned in demon lore.

But the ancient city isn’t a safe haven, it’s a death trap. While opposing political forces vie for the throne, a new demon terrorizes the citizens. To save Shirath, Garet must find friends and allies quickly, because the biggest threat to the city isn’t the demons, but the people living within the city’s walls.
Be sure to add City of Demons to your TBR list on Goodreads or purchase it through Amazon.

September 24, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Pages: 563
Series: Graceling Realm
Review Source: Originally received ARC from Razorbill Canada; review based on finished copy purchased

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers
Graceling and Fire

Eight years after
Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

My Thoughts:
I’ve been anticipating this book for years, so it’s hard to say why I waited 4 months to read it. I think a lot of it had to do with that wait, and almost not wanting the trilogy to be over. I was finally in the mood to tackle this last book (it’s a long one!), and while I do have some conflicting thoughts on it, I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

My first reaction to this book was that it is gorgeous. The cover is beautiful, but so is the book itself. The key on the front and the key theme throughout was absolutely wonderful. The end papers are an amazing design, and each section of the book has incredible artwork. I truly love ebooks, but this is one where the actual reading experience was increased by having the tactile experience with a real book.

I loved this book primarily because of the characters. I loved getting to know Bitterblue as an adult, and I loved being reunited with characters from the previous books. Bitterblue is such a lovely character, because she’s grown up in such difficult circumstances and she’s dealing with so much responsibility, yet she’s not a brat. She’s a lovely young woman who wants what is right for her people. She has strength that she doesn’t know of, but she also has real flaws and insecurities, like any of us. I also enjoyed getting to know the people of the Monsean court, reading more about beloved characters like Katsa, Po, Raffin, and Bann, and even seeing different sides of characters from previous books.

While I loved this book for the most part there were two things that stuck out to me. The first is that this is an incredibly long book that probably could have been edited down a bit. There’s such a focus on day to day minutia and repetitive scenes that could have been taken out. The other thing that stuck out to me is that the ending was quite open. I don’t need a detailed Happily Ever After with every tiny problem solved, but I would have liked some more concrete assurances, rather than the actual ending which felt like more of a beginning. It's not that the ending was bad at all, it just made me want more books about these characters in the future, rather than making me content with where things were.

Despite the lengthiness and some repetition I was glad for more time with these beloved characters. While this wasn’t a perfect book for me, it is still a five star read because of the great characters, and because it tied the previous two books together in such an interesting way. I look forward to reading more of Kristin Cashore’s writing in the future.

The Cover:


Find Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

Here are some examples of how gorgeous the book is inside:

The endpapers (purple!):

The title page, continuing that pattern:

There's artwork on the title page of each part:

That's only a little bit of how beautiful the book itself is. You'll have to pick it up to see all the artwork, including the maps and pictures at the back of the book.

September 22, 2012

Guest Post: Chrystal's zombie obsession!

Snowdrop Dreams of Books I was so excited when Chrystal agreed to guest post here on Book Labyrinth while I'm on vacation. Chrystal is a fellow Ontarian who blogs at Snowdrop Dreams of Books (such a cool name!), and she runs an awesome weekly feature called Deserted Island that you should definitely check out.

When Ashley put a call out to bloggers for guest posts, I jumped in right away. One problem. I had no idea what to write about. But after much thinking, I realized there is only one topic that I can write about: my new obsession with zombie books!

Zombies are the new Vampires/Werewolves?

Here's the deal... I used to have a thing for vampires and werewolves. I mean with Twilight and such how could you not read about vampires and werewolves, they were everywhere. I fell in love with werewolves after reading a historical romance called The Dark One by Ronda Thompson. They both essentially were the types of books that intrigued me. I pretty much devoured anything vampish for the longest time.

But right now, I have a thing for zombie books. I'm kind of over the vampire/werewolf thing, though I do enjoy them here and there. I just have this desire to absorb every zombie book I can get my hands on. I find them fascinating and disgusting at the same time. And it's nice to read something that's not paranormal for a change.

From all of the zombie books I've been reading, I noted that each one has the zombies being created from different sources. Some are due genetic mutations in DNA, some are due to biological warfare and some books never tell you how it started. To me the source is the freakiest part – I mean what if it were possible for biological warfare to turn people into zombies?

Zombies seem to be more and more popular. I think with television shows like AMC's The Walking Dead they are becoming very dominant in pop culture. There will always be references to movies like Dawn of the Dead and to books like World War Z (which is still sitting in my TBR pile). For me it's more about the survival of the humans and how they learn to cope with the way the world has changed. The strong people will make it through and figure out how to survive, while the weak will fall. It would take a strong willed person to make it through such a horrifying ordeal. I like to think, that after all of the zombie books and movies I have absorbed, that I would make it through such an apocalypse.

My bookish suggestions for those looking to get into the zombie craze are:

And a few that I am looking forward to reading:

What are some of your favourite zombie books out there? How do you think you would fare in such an apocalypse?

Thanks so much, Chrystal! I have to admit that I haven't fully gotten on board with the zombie trend. I love the philosophical meaning and themes, but they haven't become my favourite yet. However I do have to give a huge props to Carrie Ryan's trilogy. Those books were fabulous!

I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts when I get home. =)

September 21, 2012

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Series: The Arcana Chronicles
Review Source: ARC from S&S Canada

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

My Thoughts:
‘Poison Princess’ was very strange from the beginning, and it doesn’t help that none of the main characters were very likeable. The main character, Evie, was really bland, and despite all her freak outs I never really felt the depth of her emotions. Meanwhile, Jack, the “love interest”, is a lecherous drunk who talks about himself in the third person. There are some tiny hints of goodness in him, but he’s never really a reformed bad boy - he’s just plain bad. He supposedly cared for Evie, but really all I could see in him was crudeness as he constantly tried to have sex with her, and repeatedly mentioned how she was his only option (super charming, right?).

Beyond my huge distaste for the “romance” element I just found the whole concept of the book to be bizarre. I was actually intrigued by the “tarot card characters come to life” gimmick, but I don’t think it was explained well enough in the novel, and definitely not enough to base a whole apocalyptic plot on it. Somehow I ended up reading this book in one afternoon, so I guess readability is one thing that it has going for it, though I think I stuck with it more in a “WTF is going on here?!” kind of way, rather than genuine interest. You guys know that I'm all about being fair in reviews and acknowledging the subjectivity of reading, but in this case I really can't see why there are so many 5 star reviews on Goodreads for this one.

The Cover:
I know Jack is supposed to look older, but why do those models look 30?! I like the title treatment, though.


Find Poison Princess by Kresley Cole on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

September 19, 2012

Avery flails over The Vampire Diaries

And now for something completely different...

The Vampire Diaries:
Avery's Top Ten Moments of Season 3

Hi y’all! I’m Avery from Avery’s Book Nook and Ashley, my best book friend, has been kind enough to let me take over her blog for the day!

Despite not being a fan of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES books I am a huge fan of the TV series adaptation and therefore I thought that it would be fun to count down the Top Ten Moments of Season 3 in preparation for the fourth season which premieres on October 11th (well, at least my top ten favourite moments, as you will notice I am biased towards Damon- sorry Team Stefan-ers!). 

***Be forewarned there are MAJOR spoilers included below- proceed with caution!***

10. Klaus literally tearing apart the neighbourhood: This was perchance the most ridiculous scene that I have ever witnessed on this show and therefore I couldn't NOT include it- from ripping up the neighbour's white picket fence and using it for dart practice to threatening the gang with a rolled up burning piece of newspaper and a propane tank. Just when you thought that Klaus couldn't be anymore crazy he proves you wrong. 

9. When Elena walked into the ball: The look on Damon's face when Elena walked into the Lockwood house? Priceless. But one criticism I have of this scene? WHO HAS A BALL GOWN JUST LYING AROUND IN THEIR CLOSET? If Caroline, perchance the most anal character of the series doesn't have one, then what are the chances that Elena would? 

8. Tyler Revealing to His Mom that He’s a Werewolf: I have to throw in a token Tyler moment and this is one of my most favourite- when he reveals to his mom his true heritage.“You don’t know about me, do you?” “Know what?”  This was such a moment for Tyler and his mom, without a doubt my most favourite. Can you say goosebumps while watching this scene? 

7. Everyone waiting for Alaric to die: How many parental figures do Jeremy and Elena have to lose? And how many bad things does one single individual go through? Especially one so undeserving as Alaric as he is hands-down the most selfless character in the entire show. When Alaric and Elena walked out of the tomb and we saw every important figure in his life waiting out there for him, in support of his choice, I admittedly lost it. 

6. Klaus's Crush on Caroline: Despite being an utter douchenozzle I can't help but like him whenever he is around Caroline- she truly brings out a better side of him. He's so childish and innocent and not at all his usual conniving self. He's like a puppy whenever he sees her, he lights up. And when he tells her that he'll show her the world? My heart may have melted just a little. Oh, and that dress that he chose for her? GORGEOUS. 

5. Stefan's Revenge on Klaus: Admittedly for the past couple of years I have described Stefan as a wet noodle- he literally had no personality for the longest time and hence, was as interesting as a wet noodle. But bad Stefan? Well, he slowly started to grow on me. And when he pulled this little stunt? Full blown like (not love, that's reserved solely for Damon). 

4. Elena and Damon Making Out at the Hotel: I'm pretty sure that the world breathed a collective sigh of relief when Elena finally jumped Damon. Plus, this scene has one of the most epic songs of the season. 

3. When Rose says she betting on Elena and Damon: I think that Rose hits the nail on the head when she explains how each of the boys is good for Elena. So who will Elena choose (since I refuse to accept her chose at the end of the season)? The guy who will love her until the end of the world or the guy who brings out the best of her, making her stronger than she ever thought possible?  

2. Damon and Elena's Initial Meeting: Do you understand what this means? Elena says that things might have been different had she and Damon met first- well, guess what?!? They did! And should she go through the transformation process (which is basically a given, seeing as if she isn't around there really isn't a point to the series, no?) then the compulsion that Damon put on her will be reversed and she will remember. *Cue fangirl squealing*

1. The Last Eight Minutes of Season 3: As I recently told Ashley I can pick out at least 5 EPIC moments in the last 8 minutes of the season- from the car crash, to Rick dying, to the look on Damon’s face when he realizes what Rick’s death means, to Elena drowning, to Jeremy then realizing what Rick’s death means, to Damon running through the hospital looking for Elena, to Dr. Fell admitting that she ‘helped’ Elena, to Elena’s reawakening. Okay, so more than 5- 8! Furthermore, as I recently said on Twitter, these 8 minutes could very well be the most epic 8 minutes of my entire life- I don’t know if I have ever experienced such a wide array of emotions in such a short period of time before, from flailing to sobbing to goosebumps and the likes of.

And there we have it- my most favourite scenes of season 3 (an extremely hard decision to make- at one point in time I had about 30 scenes). What about you- do you agree with my choices? If no, what are some of your most favourite scenes?

When I asked for guest posts Avery said "A COUNTDOWN OF THE FIVE GREATEST MOMENTS IN VAMPIRE DIARIES HISTORY" (for real, all caps). I told her she should definitely come on my blog and flail about TV, because, well, we love TV and The Vampire Diaries, and there is a YA lit connection there. Well, the Top 5 clearly became a Top 10, and all from Season 3. I have to say, these little scene recaps have me totally psyched for Season 4.

Thank you, Avery!! Can you people tell how much book and TV flailing we do when we get together? Avery is a very encouraging friend when it comes to these matters. ;)

September 18, 2012

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 245
Series: n/a
Review Source: ARC from Raincoast Books

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.

My Thoughts:
Miranda Kenneally, I bow down to you. You are my new queen of witty, smart, and swoony contemporary YA, and you will forever be on my auto-buy list.

If you loved 'Catching Jordan' the way that I did then you will definitely love 'Stealing Parker' as well. I’m beginning to find that I love companion books, and 'Stealing Parker' is no exception. It includes the main couple from 'Catching Jordan' without relying on them as a crutch, and it utilized the setting and some supporting characters from that book in an amazing way as well.

I absolutely adored Parker, especially because she was so completely different from Jordan. Even as I read the book and was screaming at Parker for some of the decisions she made, I just couldn’t stay mad at her. She was so easy to care about and empathize with. And don’t even get me started on Corndog/Will: way too adorable!

I love how in her books Miranda Kenneally deals with sensitive subjects in an honest way. She’s not sensationalizing them, but just bringing them into the foreground and showing how they’re a part of reality. 'Stealing Parker', for example, deals with homosexuality, religion, sexual relationships, and age differences in relationships.

If I had one teensy tiny criticism about the book it would be that it, in a way, followed the same story pattern as 'Catching Jordan', especially when it came to the romantic relationships. However it wasn’t enough to bother me in a huge way. ‘Stealing Parker’ was a book that I was highly anticipating, and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. I love this book, and I can't wait to re-read it.

The Cover:
Cute! I like the colours.


Find Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

September 16, 2012

Your Thoughts on Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff seems to have taken the book blogging world by storm. It's being released in North America as an adult title, but it's definitely one of those crossover books.

I haven't had a chance to finish 'Stormdancer', so I thought I would take a look at what some of my fellow bloggers have been saying about the book:

Yukkiko can definitely give any strong female character a run for their money. The girl is strong, resilient, beautiful, and can wield a weapon like no one else. Love her. ... This is one of those fast paced books that kept me up late to finish reading it. So freaking great! Stunning novel. I am in awe of the world Jay Kristoff built. A must-read y’all seriously.
-- Giselle from Book Nerd (Giselle also has a giveaway running until the 17th)

Kristoff’s writing is very descriptive with a lot of adjectives. It is very easy to picture the world created by the author. Stormdancer is not the sort of book you should expect to tear through, but the type of book one savors and takes time with. If you are an impatient reader, straight up you will not like this book. ... If you like sophisticated storytelling, tough as nails main characters, revolutions and Eastern based fantasy, Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff is worth a few days of your reading time.
-- April from Good Books & Good Wine

Jay Kristoff's writing is Whedonesque. This is one of the highest compliments I can pay because I think Joss Whedon is absolutely brilliant. He writes beautifully complex female characters living in gorgeously imagined worlds where no one is safe and anything can happen. And you know what? Jay Kristoff does, too.
-- Jenn from Tynga's Reviews

Unfortunately for this book, I did find the beginning rather slow to start. It stemmed from the combination of elaborate description and establishing the setting and its residents, customs, and culture. Once the book got into the main story, the main plot, it moved along at a much faster pace. ... Even though the book was slow to start and rather heavy with world-building backstory, I believe that fans of epic fantasy will enjoy it, especially those looking for an Asian twist on the standard epic fantasy that often has British roots.
-- Lindsay from Me On Books

Be sure to check out the kind of epic and definitely hilarious book trailer as well:

Stormdancer will be released on September 18 (this Tuesday!), and is already released in Australia and the UK.


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