Saturday, 30 April 2011

Austenmania!

My recent reading of Shannon Hale's Austenland brought to mind a special class my Jane Austen professor holds every year at the end of the fall semester. Rather than spending time discussing a reading, she has each student search for Austen inspired items, gifts, and gadgets to present to the rest of the class. The title of this project is Austenmania, and its purpose is largely to draw attention to the commodification of Jane Austen herself. Some of the items that were displayed were absolutely ridiculous, ranging from a Pride and Prejudice perfume to a thong with an image of Austen's face on it! Austenmania was so much fun that I thought I would share some of the Austen items that were shared that day, as well as some of the ones I have come across on my own!


Jane Austen the Action Figure!
Never fear...Jane Austen is here! Own an action figure that changed history! Jane Austen will save the day battling evil with the power of her wit and writing quill!








Jane Austen Perfume
Did you ever wish to smell like one of your favourite Austen characters? Now you can with the Jane Austen perfume collection! Consisting of scents like Longbourn (Pride and Prejudice) and Matchmaker (Emma), these perfumes make the perfect gift for any Austen fans! Even Mr. Darcy could not resist!






Jane Austen Video Game: Matches and Matrimony
Austen's literary world is now available in the form of a computer game! Combining the plots of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion, "Matches and Matrimony" allows players to twist the story through the choices that they make throughout the game.







Jane Austen Drinking Game
This is my personal favourite! Developed by Mostly Water Theatre, the Jane Austen drinking game is to be played while watching a film version of one of Austen's novels. Throughout the movie, players must take a drink for various actions that occur on screen such as: One drink for mention of an inadequate dowry, three drinks if a man kisses a woman on the hand, ect. 

Friday, 29 April 2011

Book Review: The Better Mother

Goodreads Synopsis
In 1958, eight-year-old Danny Lim has been sent to buy cigarettes for his father, when he realizes that he has lost the money. Frantic, he rushes through Vancouver's Chinatown and behind a nightclub, where he sees Miss Val, a long-time burlesque dancer. Danny is enraptured with her sequined garters and silk robe, and Val, touched by his fascination, gives him a pack of cigarettes and her silk belt. Years later, Danny spends his days working as a photographer and his nights cruising Stanley Park, far away from the home where his parents and sister live. He realizes that the key to understanding himself and his family lies in his connection to Miss Val, and he is determined to find her. Before she became the Siamese Kitten, a major player on the North American circuit, Miss Val was Valerie Nealy, a feisty girl growing up in a rundown house beside the Fraser River. But to find the stardom she thought she wanted, she had to make a series of seemingly irrevocable decisions. Set mostly during an unseasonably hot summer in Vancouver in 1982 when HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, The Better Mother brims with undeniable tragedy, but resounds with the power of friendship, change and truth.

Jen Sookfong Lee's soon to be released novel The Better Mother focuses on the intricacies and complexities of family dynamics. Weaving together the story of photographer Danny Lim and former burlesque dancer Miss Val (aka The Siamese Kitten), the novel touches upon such issues as AIDS, prostitution, and homosexuality.

I have been gorging myself with a lot of YA fiction lately, so when I discovered that I had won a copy of The Good Mother from Goodreads I was excited for a change from my recent reading habits. Many of my favourite books have been written by Canadian authors, so the fact that Sookfong Lee is from British Columbia and had set the novel there made me even more eager to begin reading!

The Good Mother was both thoughtful and beautiful. Sookfong Lee's writing was so smooth and seamless that I flew through the chapters! Not only did I quickly fall in love with her style of writing, but also the two main characters, especially Miss Val. I actually would have loved reading an entire novel about Miss Val alone as her personality and story were vivacious and intriguing.

While the novel itself wasn't a very happy tale, I enjoyed the way in which The Good Mother revealed the darker side to Vancouver throughout history. I also feel like the author did a good job in the way that she concluded the story. Although readers never find out what happens to some of the characters, I think I actually prefer having unanswered questions for this particular novel rather than a wrapped up ending. Overall, I would recommend The Good Mother to those with an interest in Canadian literature and the history of burlesque, and don't mind delving into more serious social issues.

Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3): Anno Dracula

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine :)


Synopsis
England 1888. After defeating Helsing and his friends,  Count Dracula marries Queen Victoria, ushering in a period of increasing vampire domination. The streets of London at night are overrun  by gangs of vampires on the prowl and  prostitutes-vampires who lure customers in exchange for a pint of blood. In the shadows of this metropolis is a cold-blooded murder who kills young women, calling himself Jack the Ripper ... Charles Beauregard, special agent employed by the mysterious Diogenes Club, and Geneviève Dieudonné, a vampire opposed to the Count of Transylvania, join forces to hunt down the perpetrator of these heinous crimes, which threaten to subvert the social order giving rise to a surprising world, where the live and undead co-exist and the law of Dracula has supplanted the rules of civilization


I recently took an English class that focused on adaptations of the Victorian period and Steampunk, so when a friend of mine showed me this book I was immediately interested. I found it especially amusing that the novel focuses on a world where Dracula has become married to Queen Victoria. While Anno Dracula has in fact already been published back in 1992, it has been out of print for over five years now making it impossible to find a copy. I was happy to discover recently, however, that Anno Dracula is set to be republished for May 30th! Not only are they redoing the cover, but the author has also added more historical details to the new publishing! I can't wait to see how Kim Newman has blended elements of fiction and history together to create this novel which reminds me very much of the steampunk genre.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Review: Austenland


Goodreads Synopsis
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of
 Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined. 

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?


I should probably start out this review by admitting that I am a hardcore Austen groupie, so any conclusions I may make about this book are bound to be heavily biased! For one of my fourth year classes at university I  even took a lecture devoted to Austen's six novels, which was taught by my all time favourite professor and Jane Austen expert Dr. Seeber! Needless to say I am about as obsessed with Austen as the main character of this book!


Shannon Hale's Austenland was humorous, lighthearted fun which pulled me in right from page one! I found it impossible to tear myself away, reading it well into the night so that I could find out what happened in the end. I loved how Hale not only drew upon the plots of many of Austen's novels, but also clashed them together with aspects of modern society.  At many times it even seemed as if she was poking fun at Jane Austen herself, which I found highly amusing!


While Shannon Hale may have used aspects of Austen to inspire her work, I felt like the plot itself was very original. I feel like every women who has ever read Austen's novels or watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice would secretly wish for a getaway like the one described in Austenland.  The ending especially caught me off guard, with a delicious twist that I did not see coming at all! I almost wish that Shannon Hale had written more than the 208 pages that this book provides because I was sad to see this adventure with Jane come to an end. So would I recommend reading this book? Most definitely! Those familiar with Austen's works and life will absolutely adore this comical, charming, and spellbinding tale of a woman simply searching for the Mr. Darcy in her life.


Rating: 5 Stars
(Honestly, everything I have ever read by Shannon Hale has been 5 star worthy...I simply love her!)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren :)

The Iron King By Jule Kagawa

I picked this YA novel up at the library this week after seeing so many reviews of the third book in the series (The Iron Queen) popping up on blogs that I subscribe to on Blogger! The series focuses on Meghan, a girl who discovers that her father is actually a mythical faery king. I don't remember ever having read a book about faeries before, so I'm intrigued to see how this book goes!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Better Mother by Jen Sookfong Lee
I was really excited to discover a couple of weeks ago that I had won an ARC copy of The Better Mother from Goodreads.com! I have always had a soft spot for Canadian literature (like The Birth House, Water for Elephants, Three Day Road), and I'm sure this soon to be released novel by Jen Sookfong Lee with not disappoint! Set in China town of Vancouver, the plot focuses on wedding photographer Danny Lim as searches for Miss Val, a burlesque dancer he remembers as a child who holds the key to finally understanding himself.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Book Review: Entwined

Goodreads Synposis
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation. Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.





Heather Dixon's Entwined was one of the young adult books that I had been eagerly anticipating since I first read a description of its plot online a few months back. The cover is gorgeous, the plot sounded intriguing, and I've always had soft spot for fairy tales, so I pre-ordered a copy a couple of weeks before it was released. Upon actually receiving the book, the beauty of the cover far surpassed my wildest imagination! I only wish I could say the same about the plot...

While I enjoyed reading Entwined, it took me a long time to actually get into the book. It wasn't until around Chapter 14 that I found the plot to get a little more exciting. Despite the slow pace of the overall story, I fell in love with several of the main characters. I adored Bramble's mischievous antics, Lord Teddie's rip roaring manner of speaking, and Captain Bradford's personality, which could have been taken straight out of one of Jane Austen's novels! If anything, it was the characters who made this book the most enjoyable for me as the story went on.

Overall, I did find Entwined to be a pleasant and delightful read. While it certainly wasn't a "I Can't Put It Down Must Keep Reading Into The Early Morning" kind of book, I enjoyed Heather Dixon's reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I'm sure many people who read this book will adore this novel much more than I have (especially based on a lot of the 5 star reviews I've seen on Goodreads). I would still recommend reading this book, however, in my opinion it is definitely a novel to get from the library rather than the bookstore.

Rating: 3.5 Stars
(I initially had it rated as a three, but a few days of reflecting on the book has made me waver between a 3 and a 4...so I decided to be diplomatic and go with a 3.5)

Friday, 22 April 2011

A New Chapter in My Life...

This week I finally received the good news that I have anxiously been anticipating for over three months now... I've been accepted to complete my Masters in Information and Library Science at Western University in September!!! Becoming a librarian has been my dream for over two years, and now I am a step closer to the career that I have always hoped of having! What better job could there possibly be that pays me to support and encourage my love affair with reading!?

Now I realize that being a librarian is not always the most glamorous of jobs, as I worked as a part-time circulation clerk at my local library for over five years. Librarians have to deal with cranky patrons, screaming children, and technological meltdowns on a daily basis. I even remember one day while at work when a mentally unstable man stalked me around the library, reeking of alcohol and lecturing me about monogamy. Let me just say it was not a very enjoyable experience!

Most of the days I spent working at the library as a student, however, I found to be both fulfilling and pleasant. There is nothing better than being able to help someone find the information that they have been desperately searching for, or having someone tell you that they absolutely loved the book you recommended to them the last week. While I'm currently undecided about focusing my studies on academic or children's librarianship, I do know that doing my Masters in Information and Library Science is defiantly the right choice for me! As I prepare to begin this new chapter in my life, I can't help but be excited for whatever the future may hold for me!

Ps. Anyone know of someone who needs a roommate at Western lol?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2): Hourglass

Goodreads Synopsis
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?



I have heard so many good things about Hourglass from those lucky enough to get an ARC copy that I am highly anticipating getting a chance to read this YA novel by Myra McEntire as well! I love how mysterious this Hourglass organization and Michael character sound! In a way, Hourglass kind of reminds me of Meg Cabot's The Mediator series (which I loved), but with a twist. All I can say is that June 4th cannot come soon enough!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Book Review: City of Bones

Goodreads Synopsis 
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? 

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....


Why is it that I did not know about The Mortal Instruments series before!? Within reading the first few pages I was instantly hooked on Cassandra Clare's paranormal novel City of Bones, which focuses on the life of fifteen year old Clary after she comes into contact with a group of demon killers called the Shadowhunters. Over the period of 48 hours I found it extremely difficult to tear myself away from the pages (and even snuck some reading time in at work)!  City of Bones is  well paced and hauntingly good. The characters were both dark and humorous, and I soon found myself becoming pulled into the complex love triangle (or perhaps love pentagon?) of the story. 


While I'll admit that elements of the story are very familiar to other popular narratives (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Buffy), I don't think that these similarities necessarily took away from the plot. As I've come to learn through studying English literature in university, there is no such thing as a original story to begin with. Everything that is written in the world is inspired or influenced through a series of intertexts or cultural objects. Instead, I found that the incorporation of elements taken from other series and mixed with Cassandra Clare's own creativity made me enjoy  City of Bones even more! 


Overall there was only one thing that bothered me about this text, and that was how things occurred in the end. That isn't to say that the ending of City of Bones was horrible, it was actually quite excellent! It was more the fact that it didn't conform to my idea of a happily ever after (and those of you who have read the book already may have an idea of what I am referring to). I know that this is only the first book in the series, so I'm sure that the problems which occurred at the end of City of Bones will eventually be resolved. Despite this significantly small and minor vexation on my part, I really did love this novel and would recommend it for those who also like reading paranormal and young adult fiction! I will definitely be getting my hands on the second book ASAP as I am desperate to know what happens next! Happy reading :)


Rating: 4.5 Stars

Monday, 18 April 2011

Book Review: Garden Spells

Goodreads Synopsis
The women of the Waverley family -- whether they like it or not -- are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them. 
For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways. 


I happened to come across this book at my university's annual used book sale a few weeks ago, and I couldn't resist the magical description of the plot!  Sarah Addison Allen's novel, Garden Spells, definitely lived up to its description as a bewitching read, for I soon became highly engrossed by the whimsical characters and enchanting storyline. In many ways this novel really reminded me of Practical Magic, as it focused on the lives of two sisters with magical abilities, who struggle to accept their powers and become accepted members of their community. 


What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that Allen did not  just create a pair of magical sisters, but an entire town with various unique abilities. For example, the girls in one family are always destined to marry wealthy men, and the men in another family are predestined to always end up marrying an older woman. This use of family myth and fate allowed for a slew of quirky and fascinating characters with intricate backgrounds and personalities. 


While I quickly devoured Garden Spells over a couple of days, I was nevertheless somewhat disappointed by the ending. The novel seemed to wrap up way too quickly for my liking, and I was left wanting more. For example, although the love plots were developing really well throughout the story, any complications were immediately eliminated to make room for a happy ending. Despite the ending, Garden Spells is still a fun, magical read to be swept away in!
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Saturday, 16 April 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren :)


Entwined by Heather Dixon
I pre-ordered this book about a month ago and I was super excited when it arrived in the mail finally last night! It took every ounce of self-restraint to stop myself from cracking it open right away to start reading! I love YA fiction that incorporates myth and fairytales, so I'm interested to see how Heather Dixon interprets the tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And the cover is twenty times more breathtaking in person then it is online! 


Austenland by Shannon Hale
I picked up Austenland from the library this week! I loved Shannon Hale's book The Goose Girl, and I am absolutely obsessed with everything to do with Jane Austen, so I can't wait to see what Austenland has in store for me! I was actually surprised about how skinny the book was in real life (its only 208 pages), so I'm sure I'll be able to read the whole thing before I go to bed one night!








The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittridge 
I also picked up The Iron Thorn from my local library this week! I put a request on it a while ago and I was excited when I finally got the phone call that it had arrived! I only hope that with all the books I now have to read that I'll have a chance to read this one before it becomes overdue! 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Goodreads Synopsis 
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


How can I possibly put into words how absolutely amazing and sensational Suzanne Collins's novel The Hunger Games is? It totally blew me away from page one to the very end! The anticipation of wondering what would happen to Katniss had me constantly on the edge of my seat! Every spare moment I could manage over the past two days was spent devouring this exceptional and powerfully written young adult fiction, which happily for me, is currently in production to be turned into a film! I can't believe that the first time I saw this novel in the store I actually passed it by because the cover simply did not appeal to me (serves me right for judging books by their cover all the time!). If it hadn't been for all the buzz surrounding this book online I'm horrified to think that I may never have read it!


Suzanne Collins is one of the most brilliant young adult writers I have ever read. Not only is her plot original and well paced, her prose is elegant, rolling off the pages and straight into my imagination.There have also been few writers I have encountered who could structure a love triangle as believable and intricate as is present in The Hunger Games. I constantly found myself wavering between the two love interests which Collins has set up for her main heroine. With the way book one ended, I could see Katniss easily ending up with either one of the male characters set before her, and I like that it is not easily revealed as to who she will finally end up with like most novels which contain elements of romance. 


All I can say is thank goodness that the second and third book in this series are already out, because there is no way I could wait months on end to find out how everything is going to end! My only regret about this book was that it was so good I did not pace myself and finished it far too quickly! I'm defiantly going to have to take my time on Catching Fire so that I can prolong my enjoyment for the second book. This book is an easy five stars! If I had a higher rating system then I would give it even more! So, if you've read this review and are intrigued, then I highly suggest you go out and grab a copy of The Hunger Games right now, because it is definitely not something you're going to want to pass by! 

Rating: 5 Stars!!!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

"Waiting on Wednesday" (1)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Goodreads Synopsis
 In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a  conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she  loves...

I absolutely cannot wait for Divergent to be released in May! I am a huge fan of Dystopian novels, and the plot of this story sounds really fascinating! Having just finished reading The Hunger Games this morning (review to come soon!), I can't help but wonder how similar this book will be to Suzanne Collin's novel. They both seem to have the whole separation of North America into factions thing going on. Nevertheless, I will defiantly be in Chapters to hunt it down when it comes out, because there is no way I'll be able to wait on the already super long library hold list!  

Monday, 11 April 2011

Book Review: Wither (Chemical Garden #1)

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 


When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.



I was browsing around the YA section of Chapters last week with my boyfriend when my eye happen to catch Wither by Lauren DeStefano prominently displayed on one of the bookshelves. Wither is a book that I have been drooling over online for weeks now, and seeing it in the flesh caused me to break down and immediately hand over my credit card to the cashier. For those of you who don't know me this is a BIG deal! I usually never spend money on books unless they are from the used bookstores (due to my pathetic student budget), and for the most part I get the majority of my reading material from the library. Usually on my trips to Chapters it's my boyfriend who ends up dropping tons of cash on books rather than me!

As soon as I got home I devoured Wither in under three days! The plot is what excited me the most  about this novel. In a way, it could be considered as a re-imagining of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, as they both deal with a society in the future whose population is threatened due to some form of genetic mutation. I loved the dystopian focus, and the fact that a lot of the content of the novel was something which I could actually picture as a possibility for the future.

Not only is the plot of Wither intriguing, but the cover of this novel is gorgeous! I hate to say it, but I do indeed suffer from "Judge a book by its cover" syndrome. I really hope that the books which follow in this series produce covers which compliment this first one!

While I fell in love with the plot and cover of DeStefano's novel, Wither is not without its downsides as well. One of the aspects of this book that bugged me by the end was the development of a couple of the characters. While I found characters such as Rhine, Linden, and Cecily to be developed really well, I found other characters like Vaughn to be lacking. *Spoiler Alert* Gabriel was especially disappointing, since it's quite obvious that he is being set up to be Rhine's love interest throughout the rest of the series. I found his character to be flat and static, and with hardly any personality at all. I'm hoping that this will change as the series progresses, for at the moment I actually find myself hoping that Rhine will somehow end up falling in love with Linden despite her mixed feelings of resentment for him. I found myself sympathizing with Linden's character more and more as the novel went on and DeStefano gave us greater insight into the back story of his life.

Overall I enjoyed Wither, and I am looking forward to the release of the next book in its series to see what happens next. While I really enjoyed the general plot, I find myself still hung up on the lack of character development for Gabriel. I'm going to give this book a 4 though, with hopes that the next book in the series will give us a little more insight into his personality and character.

Rating: 4 Stars
Recommend it for: Fans of Dystopian novels, The Handmaid's Tale, and Sister Wives

Friday, 8 April 2011

Having Fun Isn't Hard When You've Got A Library Card!





If you were ever a devoted fan of the TV show Arthur like I was when I was a kid, then there is a good chance that you've seen the episode where Arthur and his friends sing about the library at least once...if not multiple times! I LOVED this song when I was a kid and would sing the chorus over and over again whenever I was trying to convince my parents to take me for a trip to the library. While I haven't thought of this song in a long time, for some reason it happened to pop in my head yesterday afternoon, and I immediately had to track it down on Youtube! Since then I've been subconsciously humming the song to myself all day (and I even caught my mom singing it while she was looking through the newspaper a couple of minutes ago).

One of the things I found funny watching this clip was the amount of literary references that I defiantly did not catch on to when I was a kid! The song mentions everything from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Giving Tree, to Jules Verne and Ray Bradbury! The only reference that I still don't understand is when D.W. mentions a book where you shouldn't keep your brother in a jar? Am I missing something with that one? For some reason I thought of the Bell Jar but I'm pretty sure that isn't what they are talking about haha!

Something else that I also found entertaining was that the librarian in the video looks just like one of the librarians at my local library (minus the bunny ears of course)! Anyways, I just found this video so amusing that I just had to share it online! I hope that those of you who watch it find it as funny and nostalgic of your childhood as I did :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Book Review: The Wedding Girl

      
         In between writing final essays and getting ready for exams I decided on Monday night that I deserved a break, and picked up  Madeleine Wickham's book The Wedding Girl as a treat for myself. As soon as I started reading it, however, I found it very difficult to put back down! The story centres around Milly as she prepares for an enormous wedding to her finance Simon. Days before they are to be married, however, a part of Milly's past is revealed, (a secret marriage to an illegal immigrant at 18) throwing all of her plans off course.

         While I've read most of Wickham's books written under the pseudonym of Sophie Kinsella, this novel was very different from the typical plot of her Shopoholic series. Not only were the topics in the book much more serious (such as gay marriage and abortion), but the plot also seemed somewhat more realistic than most romance and chic lit novels. I also appreciated how much more developed Wickham's characters were compared to her other books, and the opportunity which readers are given to view the story from several points of view. While I'll admit I found the style of writing a little aggravating at first, the surprise twists throughout the novel kept me hooked until the very end. Overall, this novel was about being honest with yourself and those you love, which I found to be fitting and perfect moral.

           Despite the slightly more serious tone, Wickham's  The Wedding Girl is still your typical chic lit novel, complete with romance and a happy ending.  The fact that I couldn't put it down should speak for itself, and I look forward to reading many more of Madeleine Wickham's books in the future!

Rating: 4/5 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Extinction of the Card Catalogue

      
         I was browsing on tumbler today (my source of procrastination when I should be writing essays) and was amused to come across a site which lets you create the image of your own catalogue card. I instantly found myself transported to the past, to the days when I remember flicking through the assortment of catalogue cards at my local library while I waited for my parents. People always talk about how far technology has come over the years, but it never really hit me until now.  It's crazy how quickly things like computers have changed something as simple as a library. Not only have computers allowed objects like cataloguing cards to become obsolete, but they have even gone so far as to allow readers to access and download books online.

        While I would certainly miss the benefits of the computer age, I can't help but be nostalgic for the loss of the catalogue card. It makes me wonder what the future holds when it comes to books and libraries. If the catalogue card has already become extinct, what will be next? Will the invention of devices such as the e-book reader make paper copies of books obsolete? I strongly hope it will never come to that! Although technology may be improving the ways in which people are accessing information, I for one will always prefer the sensation of turning the crisp pages in a new book to the glare of words on a screen.

Check out the catalogue card I made below, and make your own at http://www.blyberg.net/card-generator/


Monday, 4 April 2011

Bookshelf Overload


          Two weeks ago I was excited to discover that I had won a contest at my local Book Depot to fill an entire box of books for free during their annual clearence sale. Needless to say I was ecstatic! My mom had entered me into the contest on a whim, never expecting that we would actually win! While I probably could have filled an entire box by myself, I decided to share my winnings with my cousin, and together we spent over two hours in the warehouse rummaging through the immense pile of books to choose from. At the end of the day we both left with about 15 books each, and my already overcrowded bookshelf is now overflowing! Although I haven't yet had a chance to read any of them due to schoolwork, I thought I would share a few of my findings with you that I am the most excited about.


The Girls By Lori Lansen
I read this book a few years ago and it instantly became one of my all time favourite reads! I have searched countless used bookstores (the only way I can afford books on a student budget) in order to find a copy and was so thrilled to finally add it to my own collection. The story focuses on the lives of conjoined twins Ruby and Rose who were abandoned at birth by their mother. While the plot may seem a little wierd and depressing, Lansen's writing was so beautiful I soon became swept away in the story. The following is probably my favourite quote from the entire novel:
I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I've never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I've never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I've never climbed a tree.
Or faded into a crowd. So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.


Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
         Despite the fact that I'm 21 (soon to be 22!) I still have a soft spot for YA and teen fiction. Whenever I need a laugh I have turned to books by Gordon Korman, like Son of the Mob and Something Fishy at Macdonald Hall. Born to Rock focuses on Leo, a high school senior preparing to attend Harvard, only to discove that his real father is a punk rock music legend. Hoping to get his father to pay for his university tuition, Leo goes on tour with his dad's band, resulting in some chaotic and crazy situations. I'm definiatly looking forward to this book when I'm looking for a light, humourous read this summer!


The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham
         I only recently discovered that Sophie Kinsella was actually a pseudonym for author Madeleine Wickham, opening up a new door of several other books for me to read! This book focuses on Milly as she prepares for an elaborate wedding to her wealthy fiance Simon. Trouble strikes when a secret from her past (a previous marriage at 18) reveals itself only four days before her wedding. Having read everything written by Sophie Kinsella, I expect this book to be very similar to her other novels: light, humourous, and of course a happy ending. The romantic in me can never turn down a good chic lit read!

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
         I'm so excited about the fact that Emily Giffin's novel "Something Borrowed" is going to be released as a film that I want to re-read not only that book, but everything she has ever written! Heart of the Matter is the one novel, however, that I haven't already read, and so I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy at Book Depot! The plot of the story revolves around Tessa and Valerie, two women who have little in common besides the love of their children. One night, however, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. While I've heard mixed reviews about this book, I'm going to try and put those past judgements aside and hopefully find this book as heartwarming and engrossing as Giffin's other novels.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Starting a Blog...

      As an English student I do ALOT of writing. It seems like almost every week I'm cranking out another essay for one class or another. With all that writing taking up most of my time you may wonder why I'm now starting a blog on top of everything else. For one thing, my days of essay writing will soon be gone as I'll be graduating from university within the next month. As much as I may complain about all the writing I do, I nevertheless enjoy it, and don't want the skills I've learned in school to slowly disappear. While I was at first skeptical about the blog writing experience, I soon discovered that it was a lot easier and more enjoyable then I had first imagined after I was given the task of creating one as a project for one of my English classes this past semester.
    
      Rather than continuing my blog for school, I decided to create an entirely new one which focuses on my own interests. If you haven't been able to discern what those interests are already from the title of the blog, I hope to use this site to post about my love affair with books and reading! I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember, and I trust that this blog will soon be filled with everything from book reviews to lists of the drool worthy books I have yet to get my hands on. Overall, here are some of the goals I wish to make for my blog by the end of the year:

1. Write at least two posts a week (or more if I have the time!)
2. Read and Review at least 50 books (the reading part will be easy, the reviewing part not so much!)
3. Write/Email some of my favourite authors....and hopefully get a response back!
4. Chronicle any other stories, events, or happenings in my life (book related or not) that I find of interest!

Considering its already April 1st, and a third of the year is gone, I hope I can reach my goals! If anything, getting myself into the routine of writing will be the most difficult, especially when summer starts! Nevertheless I'm going to buckle down and give this blog my best effort....and who knows...maybe I'll accomplish everything I could possibly hope and more!