Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Waiting Sky

Seventeen-year-old Jane can’t quite face her mother’s alcoholism even though it sucks to spend all her time and energy keeping them afloat—making sure her mom gets to work, that the bills are paid when there’s money to pay them, and that no one knows her mom is so messed up. But when Jane’s mom drives drunk almost killing both them and Jane’s best friend, Jane can no longer deny her mom is spiraling out of control. Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left years ago to go to college. A summer away with him and his tornado chasing buddies may just provide the time and space she needs to figure out whether her life still includes her mother.

I'm usually not one for YA novels that focus on serious topics (I like them nice and light and fun!), but this one caught my attention the other day and now I'm really interested in reading it! It sounds as if it will be the kind of book that makes you think a little bit more about the world around you. Plus, I'm really curious to find out more about this brother of hers and his tornado chasing buddies. Ever since the movie Twister I've wanted to go chasing after tornados myself! 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Clockwork Prince Book Trailer Released!!!

I'm sure many of you are fans of Cassandra Clare's popular Infernal Devices series (I know I am!), so I thought you might be excited to know that the official Clockwork Prince trailer has been released! Ahhhhh!!!! It's only available here on the Entertainment Weekly website for now...but I'm sure that it will be uploaded to Youtube soon enough! As far as book trailers go I was pretty impressed with this one. It had a cinematic feel to it unlike the typical cheesy book trailers out there. Are you excited for the release of Clockwork Prince? What do you think of the trailer?? 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Movie Review: Summer Wars

Kenji, the teenage hero of Summer Wars, is an alternate for the Japanese Math Olympics team, but math is the only thing he's good at. He works part-time doing maintenance for the global computer network Oz, so he jumps at the opportunity when his pretty classmate Natsuki offers him a job--until he discovers she wants him to pose as her fiancĂ© at her grandmother's 90th birthday celebration. Kenji has his hands full coping with Natsuki's large, eccentric family, who constantly refer to their samurai ancestors as they squabble with each other. But when a malicious AI program known as The Love Machine attacks Oz, Kenji has to solve a series of complex mathematical puzzles to prevent the cyberterrorist from causing a disaster.

Back in the day (or more specifically, high school) I use to love watching anime movies like Spirited Away, Princess Monoke and Castle in the Sky. Feeling nostalgic last night, I did a random Google search for some anime trailers and stumbled across Summer Wars. If you read the summary I included above, you may be slightly rolling your eyes right now and thinking that the plot sounds pretty stupid. I know that's how I initially reacted. Intrigued by the title, however, and the fact that it had won a ton of awards in Japan, I decided to watch the first 10 minutes online to see what it was like. I was hooked immediately!

Putting the weird cyber world of OZ aside, Summer Wars tells a rather moving story about a family struggling to keep itself together and put the past behind them. Don't let the fact that this is an animated film fool you. Summer Wars makes the audience stop and think about the world around them. Part family drama, part love story, with a pinch of humour, Summer Wars was simply spellbinding. This isn't your average cutesy anime. It's something both anime lovers and those not so enthused by the Japanese cartoon style will fall in love with. There is no question why it won the 2010 Japanese Academy Award for best animated film! 

So, to put it simply...check out Summer Wars! Even if you aren't usually a fan of anime it is worth a look! It's very rarely that I get this enthusiastic about an anime you can tell that it really had an impact on me. I've put the dvd on my Christmas wish list so that I can add it to my collection of favourite movies! Check out the trailer below and hopefully you will be motivated to watch the movie as well! 

Friday, 25 November 2011

For Sex, See Librarian!

So the week of hell has officially begun for me at school! I apologize in advance for any lack of posting on my part and commenting on other blogs for the next few days. Apparently final projects are more important than reading and blogging :P

Now you are probably wondering what on earth the title of this post is related to! "For Sex, See Librarain"  is the title of a final project that two girls in one of my classes put together. They decided to study the evolution of librarian stereotypes, and how theses stereotypes are perpetuated in the media. Some of these stereotypes include librarians as spinsters or sexual icons. I thought it was genius! Check out their blog here with all of their findings! If you want to skip to the juicy stuff I suggest you read their posting entitled "Damn, You're Stacked Better Than The Library Of Congress: Sexy Librarians in Popular Culture." In this posting they talk about the sexualization of librarians in everything from Seinfeld to Supernatural to a commercial for Pearle Vision! I found it hilarious and interesting! Maybe that's just because I'm currently studying to be a librarian though....

Anyways... just thought I would share their project with you and warn you of my lack of blogging for the next few days!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Book Review: Born Wicked

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. 

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. 

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Those of you anxiously anticipating the release of Jessica Spotswood's novel Born Wicked in February will not be disappointed! After drooling over the cover for months now, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy, and eagerly began reading it as soon as it was in my hands. I was literally hooked from page one! If it hadn't been for my pesky assignments and the fact that I had to wake up for class at 7 am, I probably would have read the entire novel in one night! Without revealing any spoilers, here is what I loved most about Born Wicked:

The Characters Are Magical:
The Cahill sisters captured me under their spell. The further into the story I went, the more emotionally involved I found myself becoming for their well-being. Even the bratty Maura, a constant source of grievance for Cate, eventually won me over in the end. Cate's independent spirit and stubbornness, however, quickly made her my favourite character. Had she and Elizabeth Bennet ever crossed paths in the 1800s, I'm sure that they would have been fast friends! 

The Plot Keeps You Guessing:
I'm usually pretty good at guessing how a novel is going to end. I suppose you could say that picking out the twists in a book is one of my few talents in life. While I made a bunch of assumptions going into Born Wicked, I was pleasantly surprised to find several of my hypotheses proved wrong! Although I still figured out how the book would ultimately end, there were several little twists and turns throughout the plot that kept me on my toes. There were a few moments towards the last chapter that I definitely didn't see coming at all! These surprises made me enjoy the book  even more, and now I am dying to find out what happens in the rest of the series! 

Boys Who Love Books Can Be Hot Too:
Finally! A book where the main male protagonist isn't a brooding vampire/jock/popular guy who everyone in the novel is tripping over themselves to date! It was really refreshing to discover that Finn was your not typical hero, but rather a scholar who would prefer spending his time reading over sharpening up on his combat skills. That's right everyone! Boys who like books can be sexy too! 

Overall, I really loved Born Wicked, and would definitely recommend picking up a copy when it comes out! This isn't one of those reviews where I simply sing the praises of the book because I was lucky enough to get an ARC. I'll admit, there were a few parts that were irritating at times, like Cate's constant worrying over her sisters. I was able to overlook this irritation, however, because Cate's worry made the book more realistic and kept her true to her character. Born Wicked was a spellbinding read and I only wish that I had taken my time to read it more slowly so that I could savour each delectable moment! 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Enshadowed

While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself “Reynolds.”
Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster’s ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe’s presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen’s innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger.
When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love.
Enshadowed is the second novel in Kelly Creagh's "Nevermore" series...and I am dying to get my hands on it! After the ending of the first book I have been anxiously waiting to see what will happen to Varen and Isobel next, and have my lengthly list of questions about this dream-world finally answered! Unfortunately, Enshadowed won't be published until August 2012. On the bright side, that gives those of you who haven't read the first book in the series plenty of time to get started! I highly recommend that you do! 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Book Review: Vampire Academy

Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever...

What can I possibly say about Vampire Academy except that I fell absolutely head over heels in love with it!?! And this is coming from someone who generally hates everything to do with books involving vampires. I can't believe I almost let this series pass me by simply because I'm a cover snob. Yes, that's right....I'm one of those people who judges books by their covers (but then again aren't we all?). After being introduced to Razorbill, however, and hearing constant talk about how amazing Vampire Academy is, I finally decided to pick up a copy and give it a try for myself. Thank goodness I did! Here's what I loved so much about the book:

1. A Unique Vampire Story
One of the first things that I loved about Vampire Academy is that it presented what I thought to be a slightly different twist on the over exhausted vampire genre. I think the separation between the Moroi and Strigoi was refreshing and really kept me fascinated in the story. I had never before encountered a story where vampires could potentially age and die like normal human beings, and I think this made it easier for me to get over my usual dislike for vampire fiction. 

2. Rose Kicks Some Serious Ass
I love how Rose wasn't your typical whiny female protagonist who spends half of the book filled with insecurities and feeling sorry for herself. Instead, Rose speaks her mind and isn't afraid to kick some serious ass when people get in her way! While her super close relationship with Lissa was slightly annoying at times, it was understandable considering the bond that they share. 

3. The Love Plot
One of the things I loved most about Vampire Academy, however, was the fact that Rose's love interest was much older then her. Dimitri is described as being 24, a huge leap from the general 16-18 age range found in most YA novels. Finally, a main male character who is older even then me so that I don't feel too weird about pining for him! The age difference between Rose and Dimitri also adds some depth and an interesting conflict to the story!

So would I recommend reading Vampire Academy! Hell yes!! Even if you are like me, and typically hate vampire novels, I think this is one that the majority of YA readers will absolutely enjoy! I'd suggest buying the whole box set if you can, because it is just that addicting! I literally could not put the book down and I am already going through some series Vampire Academy withdrawal. I'll be hitting up my local bookstore soon in order to get my fix!

Rating: 5 Stars!!!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Simpsons Parody Young Adult Novels

I've never been a huge fan of the Simpsons, but you can bet that I will be watching this Sunday night, as the sitcom will be exploring the world of YA novels such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight! According to the LA Times, tomorrow's episode will take on the publishing industry as Homer gets together a team of Springfielders in order to write the ultimate young adult novel. Meant to play off of the classic movie "Ocean's 11," the episode will guest star Neil Gaiman as himself, who joins Homer and his team of writers.
Apparently the idea for this episode was inspired by an article in the New Yorker which discussed Alloy Entertainment, who publishes YA books such as Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries. According to the New Yorker article, Alloy Entertainment develops book ideas through market research and then distributes them to writers who are ultimately published under fake names. In the Simpson's episode, this will be played out through Lisa's discovery that her favourite author doesn't actually exist.
I am pretty excited to see how the episode plans to poke fun at YA books. I think the fact that the Simpsons are basing an entire show on the YA publishing industry only goes to show how much it has grown within the past couple of years! Check out a couple of the stills from the episode below. What do you guys think about the fact that the Simpsons are parodying the YA publishing industry? Will you be watching tomorrow night?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dissecting The Hunger Games Trailer

So I can't take full credit for this blog post. I was actually inspired by a slideshow that was done on the Entertainment Weekly website, but their pictures didn't work! I was only able to view the first two slides before the whole page would go crazy and crash on me. Maybe it's just my computer though? Click here to view it for yourself. Anyways! As a result, I decided to do my own version of a Hunger Games trailer dissection... so here it is and I hope you enjoy! I know the pictures are a little fuzzy...that's because they are screen shots. You should also be able to click on them to make them bigger!

One of the first things I have to say is how creeped out I was by Effie's character! I know the make-up and fashion in the capitol is supposed to be unique...but in the trailer she kind of looks like the ghost of some scary clown or something! Am I the only one who thought this? I'm personally terrified of clowns. Oh well...she was never really my favourite character anyways!

I laughed out loud the first time I saw the guards! What is with the whole dressing in white and black thing? Maybe it's in the book...but I don't remember it. Seems like they are trying to personify the Stormtroopers from Star Wars a bit, especially with the helmets! The polo pants are a nice touch haha!

LOVE LOVE LOVE Lenny Kravitz as Cinna! While I've heard other people say that they are worried that he doesn't fit the part, this is totally how I pictured him in my mind while reading the books! I let out a squeal of happiness when I saw him pop up in the trailer!

The first three times I watched the trailer I was confused why there were no scenes showing Katniss and Peeta in their grand flaming entrance. Upon doing a closer inspection thanks to the good old fashioned pause button, however, I discovered that the director did include some sneaky footage of their costumes. In the top picture is a glimpse of Katniss entering the arena, and just below it you can see their horse-drawn carriage through the magnifying glass. This is one of the scenes that I'm most looking forward to seeing, so I hope they do a good job on the whole fire outfit part, especially considering Katniss becomes known as "the girl who was on fire!"

Not a big fan of the gamekeeper in this book, but can I just say how amazing his beard is? I was like "Damn! That is one badass beard!" Kind of makes him look more devilish, which suits his character considering he's the one in charge of making the tributes' lives miserable! 

This scene could only be referring to one thing...Rue's death. Gah! I'm already tearing up!! I'm hoping that this scene in the movie is made as powerful as it was in the book for me. I wonder if Jennifer Lawrence has a good singing voice?

Finally, a touching moment between Katniss and Peeta. I'm assuming this is the scene where they are sitting on the roof together before the games. Looks pretty cozy up there! I'm looking forward to seeing how the love plot in this series gets acted out on the big screen....

Was there anything funny, interesting, devastating, or curious that you noticed about the trailer for the upcoming Hunger Games movie? What scenes/characters from the book are you looking forward to seeing in the movie?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

H&M Launches The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Clothing Line!

I love H&M. Ever since I first walked through its hallowed doors during a family trip to Portugal in high school I have been addicted to the range of clothing and styles that they offer. When the store finally came to my local mall a few years ago I cried tears of joy! Not only has the Swedish retailer gone international, however, they are now apparently in the movie business as well! According to recent news, H&M is pairing up with Trish Summerville, the costume designer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, in order to launch a new clothing line based on the character of Lisbeth Salander. Although I have yet to read the book (I finally picked up a copy last week), based on what I've seen from the movie trailer Lisbeth is not your average girl next door. Rather, the clothing line will be reflecting the edgy goth-punk fashion of this slightly rebellious character. 

Although my fashion sense doesn't tend to lean towards the goth-punk scene, I think some of these pieces look great. There is a jacket and knitted hood that I am particularly interested in that you can view here. I find it so fascinating that designers are now drawing inspiration from fictional characters when it comes to fashion design, and I hope that this is a trend that continues! I mean how cool would it be to have an outfit inspired by someone like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter or Lola from Stephanie Perkins' novel Lola and the Boy Next Door? I know that I for one would be all over that! What do you guys think about this new clothing line? If goth-punk isn't your style, are there any other fictional characters that you would love to see a designer base their clothing line around? Check out the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo below! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: A Temptation of Angels

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.
I think this book sounds amazing! I've been meaning to read an angel inspired novel for a while, but  none of them have really caught my eye until now. I'm wondering how the whole protecting of the past, present and future will be worked out in the plotline. Plus, I love the potential love triangle (or square?) going on, especially considering that it involves angelic brothers! A Temptation of Angels won't be published until March 2012, but I am already anxiously looking forward to it! 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Book Review: Across the Universe

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Why did it take me so long to finally get to this book!?! I LOVED IT! Beth Revis' debut, Across The Universe is a breathtaking story that successfully combines aspects of romance, science fiction, mystery and suspense all rolled up into one amazing dystopian novel. I devoured this one over the course of a few days, and probably would have finished it even sooner if pesky homework hadn't gotten in the way! It was one of those books that stayed glued to my hands and I just couldn't put down! 

So what did I love so much about Across the Universe? Let's start with the characters. Through the alternating viewpoints of Amy and Elder the reader really gets to understand their individual viewpoints and struggles. Rather than making Elder perfect, Revis allows him to be as flawed as the society in which he lives, and slowly allows the influence of Amy to chip away at his frame of mind.  *Spoiler Alert* I also enjoyed the fact that Elder and Amy do not get together right away, and that by the end of the book their relationship is still teetering on the edge. Having them be together at the end would have been a real betrayal of Amy's character and made things a little too wrapped up considering the current chaos of the ship *End of Spoiler*

Speaking of the ending, that was the next thing that I loved most about Across the Universe. Without giving away any spoilers I will admit that while I foresaw who the murderer was on the ship, I definitely did not see Elder's secret coming! It took me completely by surprise! I always love a good twist at the end that leaves you with your mouth hanging partially open! Needless to say I am eagerly anticipating the next book in this series to see what happens to Elder and Amy as things start to get crazy on the ship. Thankfully the sequel, A Million Suns, is set to be published in January 2012! 

So would I recommend this novel? YES! I thought it was great! While there were a few minor details that irked me at times, the overall story and Revis' writing style made it easy for me to toss these grievances aside. If you love dystopian novels, sci-fi, or simply like a good twist in the end then Across the Universe is definitely for you! 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Official Hunger Games Trailer Is Released!

Finally! Ever since the teaser for The Hunger Games movie was released a few months ago I have been desperately waiting for the official trailer to come out. While the teaser trailer was nice, it only made me more anxious to catch a bigger glimpse of how the director and producers have adapted the book. After viewing the trailer about three times already, my worries that they would ruin this great series have been relieved (for  now), and I am more excited then ever for the release of the movie in March 2012!

There were so many things that I loved about this trailer! First of all, as readers we are finally able to see the world of Suzanne Collins come to life. I think that the contrast between District 12 and the Capitol was made much clearer through the visual representation provided by the film. I also cannot even begin to explain how thrilled I was to catch a glimpse of some of the other characters, like Cinna, Haymitch, and Rue in this new trailer! These are three of my favourite characters from the series, and I would pay a huge sum of money just to see a movie about them alone!

What I loved most about this trailer, however, was that I was finally able to see some of the main characters in action. When I first heard that Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were playing Katniss and Peeta I was somewhat hesitant. Being unfamiliar with their previous movies, it was difficult for me to envision them as the characters based solely on the few photos that had been released online. After the trailer, however, I believe that the casting director certainly knew what they were doing! Jennifer Lawrence appears to have the right amount of seriousness and maturity to successfully pull off the complex character that is Katniss. Hopefully I will feel the same way after I see the actual movie! 

Anyways, if you haven't already seen the official Hunger Games trailer then check it out below! If anything, the official trailer is just a slightly longer version of the teaser trailer....because now I want more! What do you guys think of the trailer? What is it about The Hunger Games movie that you are the most excited for?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Have you heard about Razorbill?

I love Blogger. Since I first joined this past April it has allowed me to share my passion of books with an amazing community of readers who have been so kind and welcoming. Putting this fact aside, I have always felt like there has been something missing. While I love the ability that Blogger gives me to share my own thoughts and comment on the postings of others, it has been difficult to interact with bloggers outside of the site.

Enter Razorbill. This offshoot of Penguin publishing, which focuses particularly on YA fiction, has recently moved to Canada and is already hard at work in helping to foster new ways for bloggers to interact with one another! Their new website aims to give book lovers a way to connect with one another, share the latest book news, and join in a larger conversation about books together! The best way that I can describe it is a combination of Facebook meets Blogger. Each member gets their own page where friends can leave comments, view their latest blog postings, and read their status updates!

One of my favourite features, however, is the forum and group options that are offered. Although the beta site has only been up for a few days, the forum has already been filled with some amazing discussions ranging from why readers are drawn to book covers to favourite fictional characters. If you are curious and want to learn more, then the best advice I can give you is to go check out Razorbill for yourself! While the website won't officially be launched until this upcoming January, you are more than welcome to sign up now and get a sneak peek of what Razorbill will offer. Just click here and don't forget to add me as a friend :D

What do you guys think about the Razorbill website? Does it sound like something that you would be interested in joining? Check out my screenshot of the site below! If you click on the picture you should be able to view it much better!

In My Mailbox!

Whenever I come home to visit for the weekend I always seem to end up at Chapters! I guess the bookstore is like my second home or something! Despite the fact that I told myself last night that I was going in simply to "browse" and not buy, I managed to snag a couple of really good deals that I just couldn't pass up!  I was lucky enough to find a hardcover copy of Richelle Mead's novel, Vampire Academy, for only $5 because it was banged up a little, and Steig Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for $6 dollars! That brought my total purchase to just a little bit over $11! That's pretty much two books for the price of one! Woohoo! Anyways, I've been dying to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo before the new movie comes out, and one of my friends has been bugging me to read Vampire Academy for a really long time now, so now I can finally get started on both of them! I would say that this has been a fairly successful book week! What's in your mailbox?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Follow Friday: Remembrance Day

In light of 11.11.11 and Remembrance Day, tell us about your favourite solider and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

Every Remembrance Day I always stop and think of my great-grandfather. Born in Scotland, he moved to Canada with his family as a teen. When World War 1 broke out, he was still too young to fight, but he lied about his age and joined the war anyways. He managed to survive, but lost most of his closest friends in battle. When World War II rolled around, he was now deemed too old to fight. In his early 50s, his hair was already starting to turn white. Rather than sit this war out, however, he grabbed a bottle of dye, turned his hair black, and signed up to fight again! You would think the horror of one war would be enough for any man! As the hair dye eventually faded away, my great-grandfather became affectionately known amongst his troops as "Snowy." 

Unfortunately, only days before the end of the war was officially announced my great-grandfather hit a land mine as he rode out on a supply trip. After serving in two World Wars, the great Scotsman was finally laid to rest in the Netherlands. I will never forget the sacrifice that my great-grandfather and so many other soldiers made for us all by putting themselves at risk for the rest of the country. Today on Remembrance Day I will wear my poppy proudly to show my respect for the men and women in service to our country both in the past, present, and future. 

My great-grandfather's grave in Holland

Thursday, 10 November 2011

My Obsession With Picture Books...

Ever since I can remember I have had an obsession with picture books. I'm assuming it probably began back when I was myself was a kid...but my love for children's stories has only grown stronger as I have gotten older. There is just something about the imagination and creative freedom that comes from reading these short stories that leaves me with a warm happy feeling inside. You don't always get that sense of  enchantment and glee from YA or Adult fiction. Not to mention that each picture book is like its own individual work of art. The illustrations are probably one of my favourite parts about reading children's stories! I've often come across a few pages in a picture book that I've just wanted to frame and hang up on my bedroom wall (as strange as that may sound).

When I use to work at the public library in my hometown I was quite the terrible employee when it came time to shelving the picture book section. Try as I might, I could never resist crouching down behind one of the stacks in order to flip through a picture book or two before I put them away. The temptation was just too great! Luckily a few of my fellow librarians shared my picture book obsession, and we would sometimes sneak in some browsing time together when there weren't any patrons around.

Since moving away to go to school I've really fallen behind on my picture book consumption, and I was struck by a craving today to look up some of my favourite titles online. Here are just a few of the many picture books that I have fallen in love with over the years....

Grumpy Bird By Jeremy Tankard
I fell in love with this book for so many reasons! First of all, the story is super cute! Bird wakes up feeling grumpy and is eventually cheered up by his friends Fox, Beaver, Sheep, Rabbit and Raccoon. The artwork in this book is AMAZING! I love Tankard's use of colour! I actually recreated a scene from this book for a bulletin board at one of the library's I use to work at! Someone has scanned the entire book (and circumvented copyright laws...oops!) and it is available online to view here! Definitely check it out!

Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct 
by Mo Willems
If you have not read a picture book by Mo Willems you have been deprived of one of the greatest joys in life! Most famous for his Pigeon stories, like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Willems knows how to write a story that both children and adults will laugh out loud over! The tale of poor Edwina is especially amusing. She's the dinosaur who plays with the children and helps little old ladies across the road. Everyone loves her ... except the class know-it-all Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie. Reginald knows dinosaurs are extinct, and he is ready to prove it.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
I don't care how many times I read this story, it will always be my all time favourite picture book! The Paper Bag Princess shows that girls aren't always the ones who need to be saved by Prince Charming! Princess Elizabeth not only outsmarts the dragon, she manages to rescue Prince Ronald and discovers in the process that girls don't need to be dependent on men. Robert Munsch is truly a genius, and I never get tired of Michael Martechenko's great illustrations. The cherry on top is that Munsch is Canadian! Yay for fellow Canucks!  

Chester by Melanie Watt
Like Mo Willems, Melanie Watt knows the value of good humour! In Chester, an epic battle of authorship commences between Melanie herself and her pet cat! While Melanie attempts to write a tale about a mouse, Chester comes flying in with a marker in hand, and begins to change the story in an attempt to share his own creative side. The illustrations and storyline of this picture book will amuse readers of all ages!

Do you enjoy picture books as much as I do? What are some of your favourites now or from when you were a kid?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Undeadly

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird... 

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. 

Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts. 

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. 

To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly—against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally. 

I'm not going to lie...The first thing to catch my attention about this book was definitely the cover. It's gorgeous! And is it just me or does the girl on the cover kind of resemble J-Lo a bit? Anyways... The synopsis is equally appealing, and I really like the concept of the Reaper that the author has created. I'm interested to see how this story pans out, especially where this Rath character is concerned! He seems like he could be a potential bad boy with a heart of gold and love interest for the main female protagonist! Unfortunately I'll have to wait a bit longer for Undeadly, as it isn't set to be published until February 2012. Boo!