Monday, 30 July 2012

Book Review - The Selection, Kiera Cass

The Selection - Kiera Cass

I'm not in a writing mood, but I just had to get this one down on screen-paper.

Full disclosure, I got this story mixed up in my head. It was rec'd to me by a perfect friend, and we must've been talking about several books at once, because I thought this story was going to involve a plane crash and a deserted island full of beauty queens. Kept waiting for that plane crash to happen -- but when they landed safely, I was surprized! Anyway,

I --loved-- reading this book because:

- A strong female heroine, in the shadows of despair, is able to keep what's important in front of her and that's enough. She's not for wanting anything (except maybe more food) because she already knows what she has is great. That takes strength and character, and Miss Cass didn't have to heave on a sad backstory to make us see and believe it.  So, kick ass girl? Yep. Cool name? Yep.

- The love interest indeed sounds great. Seems special to her. Through America, we learn what HE has done, sacrificed, and what he would do for those he loved. Clearly they were on the same page in terms of values. Except... he has a tragic flaw.  Realistic relationship problems at that age? Yep. Ironic intrigue? YEP.

- When introduced to a world she can't have, America stays herself. Independence. Confidence in who she is, even when swarmed with temptations.  Good role model for impressionable ladies minds? Yep.

- Love triangle -- this is where things get good and juicy. The prince of the story? I like him. I like him because he's the boy from the other, other side of the track. At first unattainable, but then, he shows America something she hasn't had the freedom or space to see -- how a friendship can grow, and what that can mean for her.  Little by little, he wins her over. It seems clear to us that he see's a spark in her and is just as stubborn as she is, even though he can do it more diplomatically. I enjoyed their banter. Because - it wasn't oozing with romance. It had a much stronger foundation.

- I want America to be crowned.

- I want the next book in my hands tonight.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Preview: The Moon Dwellers (David Estes)

Okay, I am rampaging through the internet and coming up with all these other authors I've never seen before but immediately want on my bookshelf. I mean, their books. On the shelf. Not.. them.. really.. well..

Preview: The Violet Fox (Clare C. Marshall)

The Violet Fox - Clare C. Marshall

I came across this website last night, and then I came across this preview of a book, and then I wanted to review this preview!

At first glance, it seems to be a dystopian-fantasy-adventure-excitement-in-a-book! Mark your calenders; OCTOBER 13, 2012!


There are two kinds of people in the land of Marlenia.

The Marlenians, who live on the surface,
and the Freetors, who are forced to live underground.
The war between them ended two hundred years ago, but the Freetors still fight for the right to live under the sun. Fifteen-year-old Kiera Driscoll embodies the Freetors’ hopes as the Violet Fox. In a violet cape and mask, she sneaks around Marlenia City stealing food and freeing her people from slavery.

I strongly encourage you to read more, and to visit Clare's website. She's a Canadian YA author, and while I haven't read any of her material --yet--, I'm going to be keeping my eyes and clicks on her.

While there is many YA books out there with a strong female protagonist, there is not enough strong female protagonists that wear a mask and cape. I'm pulled between imagining The Violet Fox as a Robin-Hood(who can wear tights better) or a Katsa from the Graceling series (an insta-favourite of mine)

I enjoy stories that begin with a good vs evil obvious side, and then the grey matters slowly bleed into the middle where you're not sure exactly what's the right and wrong thing to do. The moral battle of a (strong female) protagonist is especially important, in my humble opinion, when young impressionable minds are soaking up the words and stories.  I'm not young, but my mind is still impressionable! Make me do good, Miss Marshall -- Make me do good!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Book Review: The Darkening Dream - Andy Gavin

The Darkening Dream, Andy Gavin

I finally finished reading this book. Here is my review on it;

What I submitted to - 

" I really liked how the setting was much earlier in the century, and how some history and mythologies coalesced into the story.  "

I don't like to give negative feedback of any kind. I couldn't do any better, even if I spent my whole life writing! 

It's not NEGATIVE feedback I want to give. It's just a difference of opinion, I suppose. Let me explain --

One of the biggest reason I wanted to read this book was because I learned that Andy Gavin, the author, had been in the gaming industry. Since I am a big fan of the gaming industry, I thought he might be able to put in a more fantastical - adventurous - spin to the story inside. I had thought it would greatly benefit the writing, in a different way.  And it did! It absolutely did! Where the story took you was akin to an RPG, and there was a lot more adventure than expected.

The thing is...

Maybe you can't have all the elements put together to create one perfect story. Maybe you need to pick a path, and stick to that path - especially on the debut - to highlight the story the author is trying to tell.

For instance, the story's setting takes place earlier in the century. Great! I love me some old-timey teen proprietary. I think Andy does this very well - of course there was hormones back in the day, and of course teens acted on it. It was well done.  It was realistic.

The history and mythology and religion themes of the story -- put together ... like a...... big ...... ball.... of coloured yarn.... so, in the end, there was a big ball of different threads of different colours that, combined, was a bit messy. Hebrew + Greek + (not much christian - even though that was the run of the mill religion then?) + Eastern Mythology = a lot of different paths mixed into one. This was confusing, and when the end came around, I was basically reading to just be along for the  ride. I didn't understand (probably my own stupidity, I'll admit) but it was so off the chart from the beginning of the story that, to make this read-able, I had to imagine I'm watching an anime.

Suffice to say, the story was interesting, but I didn't quite like it. There was a lot of great elements to the story -- but, it's not one I would recommend or read again. 


Saturday, 14 July 2012

I moved to London, ON

And while I could go on about the different plant life I've seen here, and the beautiful (hot) weather it is here, and how kind people seem to be, this is all I can publish -- the countdown for when my friends come to visit me for a poke party. I probably will kidnap them-- just a warning.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Happy Canada Day! My recommended Canadian Authors

What a fantastic day! I see my first follower ( I <3 you Kristin!), it's Canada Day, and I was very productive at home.

In honour of Canada Day, I'm going to share with you a few Canadian authors that I would recommend to anyone in the YA business.

First off, Kelley Armstrong. She has written the famous The Summoning series, and even better - The Otherworld Series. Even though according to Chapters (Barns n Noble) the Otherworld series is classified as Horror, I wouldn't put it in that category.
It would be YA if they weren't adults.
So, they would be mature - YA.  Lite horror.  Fantastic reads, either way.

Kelley has created a universe where vampires, werewolves, demons and half-demons, witches and clairvoyents get into all sort of strange and moderns problems. These vampires aren't glittery (SORRY MISS MEYER!) but they aren't all malicious. There are some good, some bad.

The first book, Bitten, starts off with Elena. It's no secret she's the --only female-- werewolf. She tries to turn away from her past but it literally comes to bite her in the ass. Mix in an adorable but protective ex-boyfriend, and a universe that ELENA herself has no idea exists.. you get frequent adventure. The best part is, it starts in downtown Toronto, Canada. #CanadaRules!

I particularly love this series when I began, because as Elena learned stuff, you learned stuff. The characters you were introduced to in the first book, you start to follow in the second book. The characters in the fifth book might all be different, but they reference each other and it's all part of this continuous universe that could easily co-exist with us. Love, love, love it.

Secondly, I recommend Anne-Marie MacDonald. She has not written anything YA, but her works are beautiful. Lyrical and savage. She uses music and language to communicate emotions. While you read you explore so many layers all at the same time, it's nearly overwhelming. But, you let that wash over you and waves of rage, sadness, fear and hope crash against each other the minute a character makes a bad decision, a good choice, or misinterprets another's actions.  I've read her books and would like to single out Fall On Your Knees. Again, NOT YA.  Bad language, nudity, rape, and many other bad decisions. It follows a man entering Canada from a foregin country, and trying to make it on his own. Great ambition, but falls prey to lust to a lovely girl (who is lebanese, way to show our multiculturalism!). Armstrong also imparts of a lot of Canadian historical knowledge, sheding light on how the outskirts dealt with war.

Basically -- Tragic and heartbreaking but you can't put it down. You just, can't.

Those are my 2 top Canadian authors right now.