Friday, 30 December 2011

The Sudden Popularity of Graphic Novels

During my recent internet browsing, and my past couple of visits to Chapters, I have noticed something that I find somewhat curious and interesting. Apparently turning works of fiction into graphic novels is becoming somewhat of a norm! Over the past year or so more and more adaptations of books as graphic novels have been hitting the shelves, such as Fahrenheit 451, Twilight, City of Bones, and Macbeth. Most recently it was announced that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo would be coming out as a graphic novel sometime in 2012! While I'm by no means complaining about this recent phenomenon (I love graphic novels), I'm kind of curious about why publishers are suddenly turning these popular books into graphic novels?

Perhaps one of the main motivations is to target books that already have a fairly large fan base in order to make a larger profit. I could certainly see this being the case with novels like Twilight, City of Bones, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo based on how popular these books have become. Other, less known books, however, have also been adapted into graphic novels, like Wicked Lovely. Although I'm sure the Wicked Lovely series is popular within it's own circle of fans, it by no means has the amount of followers as other YA books like Twilight.

Maybe another reason why adaptations of books into graphic novels has become so popular is in order to make it easier for readers to understand works of fiction that may be more difficult to comprehend. This could certainly be the case for books like Fahrenheit 451, Macbeth, and Crime and Punishment, which I'm sure many students and adults alike have had trouble fully absorbing and understanding. By having these books adapted into graphic novels, the visual cues could make it much easier for readers to follow along. For this reason I think graphic novels are a great tool for encouraging reading, and helping students better comprehend some of the more difficult concepts within certain novels.

Whether or not this recent phenomenon is due to the large following of some books, or making difficult works of fiction more accessible, these adaptations into graphic novels have proved that they have worth through the many awards they have received, and their own level of popularity. For example, the graphic novel adaptation of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series was chosen by readers themselves to win the 2011 Goodreads Choice award for Best Graphic Novel. The fact that many people appear to be reading and enjoying these adaptations proves that there is definitely a growing demand for these particular graphic novels.

What do you guys think about this growing trend of turning works of fiction into graphic novels? Have you read any of these adaptations? Is there a particular book you would be interested in reading as a graphic novel?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The Fault In Our Stars

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Prepare to be shocked... I have never read a single book by John Green. I know! It really is quite horrifying! I'm prepared to fix this situation, however, by starting with his upcoming book The Fault In Our Stars. I already have it pre-ordered and everything! This book sounds absolutely touching, and I'm sure I'll burst into tears at some point while reading. I first heard about it when I stumbled across a vlog done by John on youtube. He is hilarious and I've included the video below for you to check out as well (I'm now shamelessy subscribed to his channel!). Thankfully the book is coming out January 12th, so I won't have very long to wait! After I finish this one, hopefully I will move on to his other award winning novels like Looking For Alaska

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Year In Books

Well in a couple of days 2011 will officially be over! Sitting at home reflecting on all of the reading I have done over the past 12 months, I would have to say this was a pretty amazing year for books! To help wrap up 2011 I decided to participate in Inkcrush's Faves of TwentyEleven Book Awards! As a result, here are some of my favourite books that I have read over the past year...

Favourite Book Read in 2011: 
An extremely tough decision!! I think I'm going to go with The Hunger Games though (despite what an obvious choice it is). The Hunger Games caught me completely off guard and I loved every second of it! I can't believe I initially turned my nose up at it because I thought the cover looked weird. I definitely learned my lesson that being a cover snob can really prevent you from reading great books!

Delicious Rainy Day Comfort Read: Vampire Academy
I actually did curl up in my bed with Vampire Academy on a rainy day while away at school! It definitely helped me forget about the fact that I was trapped at home instead of out having fun with my friends! It's such an amazing book it would make a good read on any day whether it's raining or not!

Adrenaline-Fueled, Unputdownable Book: Divergent
Reading Divergent was like being on a sugar high... I could not but it down!! As soon as I finished it I was already pacing the floors waiting for the sequel to come out! Plus, all of the action involved with belonging to Dauntless really pumps up your adrenaline!

I So Want To Go There Award:
Ever since I read Pride and Prejudice I have dreamed of visiting the world of Jane Austen. Shannon Hale's book Austenland made that dream seem like it was actually within my grasp! Who wouldn't want to spend a week at an Austen inspired vacation resort where you can be swept off your feet by a Mr. Darcy-esque gentleman?!

Most Beautiful Prose Award: The Dovekeepers
Alice Hoffman's writing in The Dovekeepers was absolutely beautiful! The imagery and style simply took my breath away! I can't help feel a strong fondness for this book because of the magic that I felt while reading it! Definitely one of the best written books of 2011!

I Had No Idea I Would Love This Award: Anna and the French Kiss
When I read all of the 5 star reviews of this book I couldn't help but be skeptical. Based on the summary I had read, Anna and the French Kiss didn't sound like anything special. Boy was I wrong! I absolutely devoured this book! It was amazing from page one until the very end! Stephanie Perkins is now one of my favourite authors of all time!

Best Series: The Summer I Turned Pretty
If there was a best beach read award this book would get it! Instead, I'm awarding it with the best series award for 2011! Reading about Belly, Conrad, and Jeremy was one of my book highlights of the summer! I could not get enough of this series! It was cute, funny, and emotional rolled up all into one!

Would Make A Great Movie: White Cat
With all of the recent announcements about various books becoming movies, I'm shocked that the rights to White Cat haven't been snatched up yet! The story of Cassel and his shady family of curse workers would make an amazing movie! Plus, I really just want to see Cassel himself on the big screen....

Best Love Triangle: Clockwork Prince
The intricate relationship between Will, Jem, and Tessa becomes all the more complicated in the second book of the Infernal Devices series! I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't read it yet, but let's just say the recent development in the love plot caused me some emotional turmoil! As a side note...Will Herondale also wins the best literary crush of 2011 in my opinion!

Best Plot Twist: Across the Universe
While I was able to figure out some of the main things that would happen in this book, I definitely did not see the plot twist at the end coming! It was so well executed that I think I actually gasped out loud!

Most Hilarious Scene: Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Angel wins not so much most hilarious scene as funniest quote: "You know," Gabriel said, "there was a time I thought we could be friends Will." "There was a time I thought I was a ferret," Will said, "but that turned out to be the opium haze. Did you know it had that effect? Because I didn't." 

Favourite Cover: Wither
Out of all of the covers that I fell in love with over 2011 (and trust me... that as a lot!), my all time favourite has to be Wither! The colours and imagery just work so perfectly together!

So what were some of your favourite books from 2011? Do you agree/disagree with any of my choices?

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Book Review: Legend

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

I woke up yesterday morning to rain. That's right folks! It's less than a week away from Christmas and no snow in sight! Despite the depressing lack of snow, it was the perfect day to stay inside curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book. So what did I do? Cracked open Legend by Marie Lu of course! Legend was a fast paced and gripping story that I found almost impossible to put down! I literally started it in the morning and had it finished by midnight last night. Here are some of the things that made Legend so amazing....

The Mystery
While Legend isn't quite a mystery novel, I loved how the plot contained several puzzle pieces that June had to put together in order to hunt down Day and discover the truth about some of the Republic's hidden secrets. As a result, it sometimes felt a bit like a detective story, although the clues somewhat fall into June's lap out of convenience. Despite the mystery aspects of Legend, I found the plot somewhat predictable at times, but this didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. 

The Characters are Kickass
I loved the fact that both June and Day were able to kick some serious ass in this novel. It was sometimes hard to imagine that these characters are only 15 years old due to their perception and skills in combat, but I suppose that's what comes from being a child prodigy! One of the things I liked most about June was that her character showed how women can be just as powerful and intelligent as any man. My favourite aspect about Day, on the other hand, was his concern for his family and fellow man. He almost has this Aladdin/Robin Hood like quality about him as he leaps from rooftops and sneaks into buildings with agility and ease. 

The Narration
I loved the narration style that Marie Lu chose for Legend! Told through alternating viewpoints, readers are able to get inside of the heads of both June and Day. I love novels that use alternating viewpoints because this narration style really allows you to get to know the actions, thought processes, and feelings of the main characters. As a result, alternating viewpoints really allow for more complex character development. I especially loved how the publishers of Legend decided to print Day's narration in a different font type and colour in order to help differentiate his story from June's!  

While reading Legend, the only thing that really bugged me about the book was the age of the characters. Although I understand that the author made them 15 in order to better demonstrate how intelligent they are compared to the rest of the population, both Day and June seemed like they should have been a little bit older. I couldn't stop myself from imagining them as 18 in my mind. *Spoiler Alert* Their sudden  love for one another also felt a bit rushed near the end, and the language used to describe June's attraction for Day seemed a little too mature for a 15 year old....but then again that could just be me...*End Spoiler Alert* Nevertheless, I definitely think that anyone who picks up this book will instantly enjoy it! I'm already counting down the days until I can get my hands on the sequel! 

Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Croak

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure. 

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business. 

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her Targets like a natural born Killer. 

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

Grim Reapers? SWEET! Although this book seems somewhat dark (at least compared to the usual books that I read) it sounds like it will be fantastic! Croak isn't set to hit the shelves until March 2012, but I think it will be worth the wait! Hopefully some reviews for this book will start popping up in the blogsphere soon so that I can see if it's really as good as it seems! Have you seen any reviews up for Croak yet?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Arc Review: A Million Suns

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.
But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.
In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.
Fans of Across the Universe are going to go absolutely crazy when they get their hands on a copy of A Million Suns in January! The novel starts off a couple of months after the crew of Godspeed has been taken off of Phydus, and chaos is beginning to take over the ship. With those who were once closest to Elder now questioning his ability to act as a leader, a revolution is threatening to tear apart Godspeed's population. To top it all off, amidst this confusion Amy is sent on a wild scavenger hunt in order to reveal a hidden secret about the ship. Needless to say, all of these events rolled up into one book make for a very exciting and thrilling read!
What I loved most about A Million Suns is that Beth Revis continues to supply her readers with a number of surprises and revelations that I never saw coming as a reader. Just when I thought I had the whole story figured out "BAM!" she throws something at me I didn't expect at all. These twists and turns really kept me on my toes  and made the whole reading experience all the more exciting! 
Another aspect that I enjoyed about A Million Suns was the continued narration through the alternating points of view of both Elder and Amy. This style of writing really allows the readers to get a better sense of the individual thought processes of the two main characters, especially during the several times they disagree in this novel. It also really helps to make the reader become more emotionally involved with Amy and Elder, and sympathize with their feelings during all of the chaos on board the ship.
Indeed, my level of emotional involvement with this book often resulted in me feeling anxious and tense while I was reading. At one point while I was reading my distress must have been visible on my face because my brother happened to be walking by and remarked, "What's wrong? You look really concerned about something." While on the one hand my feelings of anxiety can be attributed to Revis' amazing writing, I don't always like to feel this tense when reading a book. Although I knew in my head that I should just relax and enjoy the book, I couldn't help but be somewhat antsy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while Revis' ability to get me so emotionally involved in the story can be a positive aspect for some readers, it could also be a negative for others. 
Nevertheless, despite my anxiety while reading, I really did enjoy A Million Suns! It was fabulous! I would have read the entire novel in one sitting if I had been given the chance! The ending has me eagerly anticipating the final novel in the series to see what happens next. Those who loved the first novel will fall head over heels in love with this one!  If you haven't yet read Across the Universe get started now! 
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Monday, 19 December 2011

The "Hey Girl" Phenomenon

If you use the Internet to procrastinate as much as I do (which is quite a lot), then you may have stumbled across a surprising new obsession with Ryan Gosling appearing across the blogsphere. This phenomenon includes fans taking random pictures of Ryan Gosling and adding text that starts with the phrase "Hey Girl." From what I can tell, this obsession first started on a tumblr page called Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling. Since then, the "Hey Girl" phrase has exploded to include sites dedicated to Feminist theory, Typography, Publishing, Libraries, and most recently... YA books! That's right fellow YA lovers, you can now get a daily dose of Mr. Gosling talking about some of your favourite lit!

While I've never really been a huge fan of Ryan Gosling or his movies (the only thing I find overly attractive about him is that he is a Canadian and from London, the city where I'm currently going to school!), I can't help but be amused by the wit and humour demonstrated in these various postings. The Library tumblr page has to be my personal favourite, but that's probably because I understand a lot of the inside jokes a lot better than the average user. The recent development of the YA Hey Girl page, however, has also caught my interest, and I've included a few of my favourite postings below.

So why the sudden popularity of these "Hey Girl" sites? Perhaps it's because some people would actually like to imagine that Ryan Gosling is looking deep into their eyes as he talks about gender issues or their favourite book. I also think part of the popularity can be found in the fact that many of these sites focus on a particular profession like publishing or libraries. For example, I'm sure the majority of the people following the "Hey Girl" meme on libraries just so happen to be librarians (or librarians in training!). Nevertheless, it seems like the rising popularity of "Hey Girl," and Ryan Gosling in general, is here to stay... at least for the time being!

So while I find the whole "Hey Girl" phenomenon somewhat strange and amusing, I can't help but wonder how others feel about this rising trend. Do you guys think these "Hey Girl" sites are funny? Are you even a fan of Ryan Gosling? I'm really curious to see what you have to say on the subject! Please leave your thoughts in the comments below :)

Book: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Book: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Book: Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Book: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Sunday, 18 December 2011

In My Mailbox!: December 18th

With Christmas only a week away (YAY!) I've been busy these past few days getting together with various friends and family for holiday dinners and gift exchanges. For example, on Monday, a group of my close friends got together for dinner at Milestones and Secret Santa. My friend Jackie from The Hardcover Harlequinn had picked my name, and presented me with a copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (a book I've been dying to read!) and a kickass mug with a quote from my favourite show, Castle!  On Wednesday I exchanged gifts early with my boyfriend as well. A couple of the gifts he gave me included The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, the movie adaptation of Something Borrowed, and I Am Better Than Your Kids by Maddox! Obviously my boyfriend knows that books are the best way to a girls heart haha!

The cherry on top of my week, however, was a free copy of Legend by Marie Lu sent to me by Razorbill through the "Request it first for free" promotion occurring on their website! I posted about the new Razorbill website before here, but if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet then do so now! Especially if you are a Canadian because you can get ARCs for free! So basically, my to-read pile continues to grow... but I definitely can't wait to get started on them all! 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Book Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

“I’ve left some clues for you. 
If you want them, turn the page. 
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” 

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Timesbestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
The best possible word to describe this book is "cute" (which is an adjective dictionary loving Dash would probably find inadequate if he was a real person).  Set during the time leading up to Christmas, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was the perfect read to get me in the holiday spirit! It was simple and light hearted, with no huge drama other than the struggle of Dash and Lily to discover whether their feelings for one another can exist outside of the notebook that they mysteriously swap back and forth between each other. 

Reading about Dash and Lily's flirtations through the notebook was a unique experience for me as a reader, and one that I really enjoyed! The intimate conversations between Dash and Lily in the notebook really allowed the characters to develop and gain some depth that would have otherwise been lost in the pacing of the plot. In fact, the first half of the book before Dash and Lily met was my absolute favourite part about the entire novel! My curiosity over how they would eventually run into each other really created a lot of anticipation and eagerness on my part. Once they did meet, however, I found that my enjoyment of the book started to slowly decline. While it was still cute, I felt like the climax of the book had passed and my excitement for what would happen next had somewhat faded.

Despite the fact that the thrill of the chase was gone, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was nevertheless a fun and humorous read. Cohn and Levithan created a cast of quirky characters that any reader can't help but fall in love with, including Dash's clueless friend Boomer. There were several times (especially near the beginning) where I actually laughed out loud (to the confusion of my mother who thought I was going crazy). While the novel was light and really relied on convenience to make things work out in the end, I found it a nice break from the stress and pressure required in reading my textbooks for school. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who is looking for something simple and fun to enjoy over the Christmas break! 

3  Stars

Friday, 16 December 2011

Follow Friday

When you've read a book, what do you do with it? (Keep it, give it away, donate it, sell it, swap it..?)

I've only recently become addicted to purchasing book before I've read them. Before that I got about 98% of my books from the library, and as a result the only thing I did when I finished it was return it before I got hit with late fines! Now when I finish a book that I've bought, however, I hold on to it! I love looking at my bookshelf and seeing all of the gorgeous spines lined up in alphabetical order (I'm turning into a librarian already!). In order to keep my books from collecting dust though, I do loan them out to friends to read if I think that it is something they would love too. I think the picture below sums up nicely the process that I go through before lending someone a book though...I guess I'm paranoid...or maybe I just love my books too much haha! I trust my friends to take good care of my books though, especially considering the majority of them are obsessed book lovers as well!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Book Review: The Spellman Files

Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

To say this book was entertaining would be an understatement. Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files was a fast paced read that kept me both on the edge of my seat with anticipation and constantly laughing out loud. Sure some of the events in the novel were a little outrageous at times, but that is what made it so enjoyable! The Spellman family is so crazy they make my own dysfunctional family seem like a bunch of angels! 

One of the aspects I loved most about this book was the way that the plot progressed. The majority of the novel is Izzy thinking back to the events over the past few months as she sits in an interrogation room talking to a police investigator. Through these fragments the reader gets a fairly good picture of each of the members of the Spellman family, and how they fit in to the disappearance of Izzy's sister. At times the novel almost felt like a bunch of short stories until the pieces of the puzzle finally came together in the end. 

If you are the type of reader who enjoys character development over plot then this is definitely the book for you! While the novel does have a plot (of course), the main focus of The Spellman Files seems to be more on the character development rather than the events that are occurring. Each of Izzy's memories dives deep into the inner workings of both herself and those that she is close to, allowing readers to really feel as if they know the characters themselves. Despite how crazy the Spellman family is, I couldn't help but grow attached to them as the story progressed. 

While I generally liked this book, there were nevertheless a few aspects that irked me at times. *Mini Spoiler Alert* One of the things I didn't like was the fact that the main romantic interest developed throughout the story falls to pieces by the end. While the readers are warned way ahead of time by Izzy that Daniel is doomed to be ex-boyfriend #9, I couldn't help but wish that the two of them would stick together. I suppose this is a more realistic portrayal of relationships though then most chick lit books. *End of Spoiler* Another thing that bugged me at times was Izzy's self-destructive personality. As a reader I just wanted to slap her in the head a couple of times and tell her to not be so stupid. Without her bad choices, however, the novel wouldn't have been as exciting and probably wouldn't have progressed very far. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my time spent reading The Spellman Files, and I look forward to seeing what this crazy family gets up to next! While this is an adult book, I think it is something that teens could read and enjoy as well. I would recommend it to fans of mystery or chick lit novels like the Stephanie Plum series. 

Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dragonswood

Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends. 

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood. 

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted

Dragons? Fairies? Witches? Sign me up! Dragonswood sounds like it has the perfect combination of magic and fantasy wrapped up in one (hopefully) amazing book! And to top it off the cover is absolutely gorgeous! I didn't hear about this book until it showed up on a couple of other Waiting on Wednesday posts last week, and I was super excited to find out that I don't have to wait very long for this book to come out! It's set to be released January 5th! Yay! 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Book Review: Half World

Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive.

When I was in high school I couldn't seem to get enough of manga and Japanese anime. I inhaled it. When I caught a glimpse of the cover of  Hiromi Goto's YA novel, Half World, I immediately thought back to these days of flipping through the pages of countless comic books. Despite the sense of anime and manga created by the cover, I was nevertheless surprised by the cinematic feel of the text itself. Reading Half World was like watching a film by Miyazaki.  In fact, the plot was somewhat similar to Spirited Away, as both stories are about a little girl trying to save her parents from the evil of a strange world. Needless to say, Goto's use of imagery and fantasy elements really fits in with the style of Japanese animation. Perhaps Miyazaki will make Half World into an anime itself one day, which would be positively amazing! 

Despite the fact that I adored the cinematic and anime feel of Half World, I wasn't completely blown away by the story. Perhaps hearing that it had made the list of YASLA's 2011 best fiction for teens really made my expectations higher than they should have been. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the story. The plot was clever and fast paced, but the characters felt a little bit flat at times and didn't get as in-depth as they could have. Perhaps adding a little more back story to Melanie and her family, however, would have made Half World feel less cinematic. 

When it came to choosing a rating for this book I really struggled. While the part of me that loved the anime style of the writing wanted to give Half World 4 stars, the reader part of myself wanted to rate it at 3 stars. As a result I decided to simply give the book a rating of 3.5 in order to keep it in the middle of these conflicting numbers. Ultimately, I think anyone who reads this book will enjoy it, but I believe that those who love anime and manga will appreciate the story more. A companion book to Half World, called Darkest Light, is being released in January, and I will definitely be checking it out in order to find out what happens Melanie and Baby G next. 

Rating 3.5 Stars

Friday, 9 December 2011

YA Christmas Reads

Ever since I finished my last class of the semester (which was technically last night...) I've been craving to read something with some kind of wintery focus. After all, what better way to get into the Christmas spirit then by curling up with a book set during the holiday season! As a result, I did some searching online to come up with a list of potential reads for myself over Christmas break, and thought that I would share my findings with you! Take these recommendations with a grain of salt, because since I haven't read them myself I have no idea if they will actually be any good! All I did was read the synopsis and a couple of quick reviews in order to decide that each book had the potential to be a fun holiday read! Without further ado, here are the YA Christmas/winter books that I came up with! 

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Lily leaves a notebook full of challenges on the shelf of her favourite bookstore waiting for the perfect guy to come along and accept its dares. Set during the holiday season, this is definitely the first book I plan on reading this Christmas!

Let it Snow By John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
 This is a fantastic collection of short stories by some of YA's most beloved authors. Each story is set in a small town where a snowstorm on Christmas Eve causes some interesting romance to blossom. Romance? Christmas Eve? Sounds like the perfect book to curl up with by a warm fire!

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka
While the plot of this book didn't initially grab me, I've read some of the books from this series before back in high school and remember really enjoying them. After breaking up with her boyfriend, Lexi suddenly realizes the mistake that she's made when he starts dating someone else. Can she find a way to steal him back before Christmas? ( I said plot seems annoying but I might give it a chance)

The Best Girl by Emma Harrison
This one caught my eye because the main character is in college rather than high school (a rare occurrence for YA novels!). Farrah is supposed to be her brother's best man for his wedding during Christmas break at a ski resort in Colorado. Family drama ensues resulting in a variety of mishaps along the way!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I just had to throw this one in here! I've actually read Little Women and loved it! While this book doesn't exclusively focus on the holiday season, the Christmas and winter scenes are some of my favourites! A real classic that everyone should read at least once!

Winter's Kiss by Jennifer Echols
I'm not entirely sure what this book is about due to the fact that I couldn't find a synopsis on Goodreads, but I love Jennifer Echols and her writing so I'm sure this book will make for an enjoyable read!

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
Now this is a Christmas classic! I read it years ago and remember it being the kind of book that really pulls at your heartstrings. It's a super short and easy read, and will definitely remind you of the importance of love during the holiday season!

Do you have any recommendations for books that will get me into the Christmas spirit? Have you read any of these books before? If yes, did you enjoy them? I apologize for those who celebrate holidays other than Christmas during this time of the year like Hanukkah. I tried to find a couple of wintry books that weren't specifically Christmas related, but it was more difficult than I thought!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Summer My Life Began

Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time

Is it weird that winter has just begun and I've chosen a summer themed book for my Waiting on Wednesday post this week? Oh well! Now that I've finished Jenny Han's Summer series this past summer, I'll need to find some new beach reads for next year! This one looks like it has potential! I don't like that they've given away the fact that she gets together with a surfer dude in the synopsis (I like my romantic plots to be somewhat of a surprise), but this book sounds like it has the potential to be a good summer read! The cover alone makes me want to go lay on a beach and soak up some sun! 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Top Ten Childhood Favourites!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme by The Broke and The Bookish
This week's topic is:  Top Ten Childhood Faves

This is probably one of the most difficult top ten list I have ever had to make. There are so many amazing books from when I was a child! In no particular order, here are ten random selections out of the hundreds of books I could have possibly chosen from! (This list is not including some of my more obvious choices, however, like Anne of Green Gables, considering how much I already talk about it on this blog!)

This is the first chapter book that I ever read by myself. I pretty much inhaled it and couldn't get enough of this series until about book #20! 

I was obsessed with horses as a kid, and I use to beg my parents for horseback riding lessons. Instead, my mom got me hooked on the Pony Pals series....which in retrospect only fuelled by obsession for horses even more...

I read pretty much everything by Kit Pearson as a child, but the Guests of War trilogy was by far my favourite! A must read for every kid! And a bonus is that the book is set in Canada :)

For some morbid reason I loved novels set during World War II as a child (and still do today), so I remember loving this book. Like Kit Pearson, Jean Little is also a Canadian author, which is of course an added bonus!

I am still in love with these books today! I kind of have a craving to re-read them right now actually! Ever since I saw the tv show as a kid I've been a hardcore Little House on the Prairie fan, which is what got me into reading the actual novels! 

I guess this is technically the first vampire novel I ever read! Bunnicula is such a fun series...I mean a rabbit that sucks the life out of vegetable? How silly is that! I remember wishing I had a vampire rabbit after these books...

I'm pretty sure that this is the book that got me hooked on fantasy and adventure stories. I devoured everything and anything written by Tamora Pierce after this first book. Such an amazing series! 

I pretty much fell in love with any book dealing with animals and adventure, and Redwall was no exception! While I never did finish this series (I think I got around to #5), I remember absolutely loving this book! 

I know....another historical novel set in Canada by a Canadian you see a growing trend here? The Hollow Tree really is an amazing book though! Filled with adventure and a bit of romance, I devoured this novel in the course of two days! I also fell in love with her other more popular novel The Root Cellar!

No little girl should grow up without having read a single one of the Nancy Drew books! They are classics! I read tons of them as a kid and couldn't get enough of them! The Secret of Shadow Ranch was one of my favourites....but only because of the fact that there was a horse on the cover (ya I was a crazy child!).