Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (31)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga of Tynga's Reviews. It's a weekly post where book bloggers showcase the book they received throughout the week.

Once again, it has been a while since I've done a Stacking the Shelves. The last few weeks have been a little hectic with my graduation from university, family visiting me, me visiting family and work throughout all of that. But I am finally back to posting semi-regularly and so I thought I would share the books I have gotten in the last few weeks.


- The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky - The Golden Day caught by attention when I saw it in the Candlewick catalogue and it sounded like something that I would really enjoy. It also sounds quite different so I'm really looking forward to reading it soon.

- Juvie by Steve Watkins - I am always looking for good contemporary stories that deal with some tougher subjects, so I was excited when I first heard about Juvie. And having now found out more about the book, I can't wait to read it.

- Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi - I only first heard about Anywhere But Here this past week, but all I really need to know to get excited about it was that it's contemporary. But beyond that, this sounds like a great contemp story and it has a male protagonist so I'm really looking forward to it.

- The Great & Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms by Ian Thornton - This one is an adult historical title, but sounds really interesting. Plus I love anything to do with the period around the World Wars so I am definitely looking forward to reading this one.

- Belladonna by Fiona Paul (not pictured) - I loved Venom when I read it last fall so I can't wait to read Belladonna. It doesn't hurt that I've heard nothing but good things about it, so I will be reading this one soon.

Thank you to Candlewick Press, Simon & Schuster Canada and Penguin Canada for sending me these books for review!


- Losing It by Cora Carmack - Everywhere I turn, everyone is talking about this book so I figured I would give it a try. And I started reading it and the next thing I knew, I was halfway through. So that's to say that so far it lives up to what everyone has been saying and I haven't been disappointed yet.

- Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer - So far, I have loved the other books in this series. There is just something about these books that captures my attention so I can't wait to read the next installment.

- Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin - I finally got around to reading Masque of the Red Death since I had to read it for my book club and now I can't wait to find out what happened next. So picking up a copy of the sequel seemed like a good idea. 

So these are the books I have gotten in the last few weeks. Be sure to keep checking back in this week and next as I get back to posting regularly because even though I haven't been posting, I have been getting a lot of reading done.

Also, Google Reader/Google Friend Connect is going away starting July 1st. If you want to keep following, be sure to check out my sidebar for other ways you can follow this blog.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Paradox by A.J. Paquette Blog Tour - Guest Post & Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of having A.J. Paquette, the author of Paradox, here to talk about the process she went from writing her book to having her book published. And be sure to keep reading to find out more about the book and enter a giveaway.

Joy in the Process: Seeing Your Book All the Way Through to the Finish Line

It’s a true fact that there are as many different ways of writing a novel as there are novelists who write. For me, I’m a drafter. I love the rush of early creation, both for its manic excitement, and also—okay, mostly—because I’m a strongly task-oriented writer. I love the simple act of creating a to-do list and working through it methodically from start to finish.

When I begin a new project, I tend to start by writing the first few chapters. This anchors me in the main character’s world, hooks me into her or his voice, and generally gets me going in the right direction. From there, however, I almost always pull back. And get myself a concrete plan.

I confess it: I’m an outliner. I start with that thumbnail story-nugget idea which launched me into the project, and I build outward from there. I usually start the outline in fairly broad strokes, carving away at the story until all the bones are there, then going back over it to be sure the logic aligns and the structure holds together well. What I end up with is a pretty straightforward “this happens next and then this and then this” story description. I then break this down into chapter-sized nuggets. And then I get writing.

It’s like a giant to-do list, and I find great satisfaction in working my way down the list, and also in keeping up with the subtle changes that always arise as I’m writing.

So this is my favorite part of the process. Next comes revision. Which, well, isn’t my favorite. I know many authors live for this part of the process, but my task-oriented brain finds it a little too amorphous to truly enjoy. One can work for hours doing very necessary revision work without feeling like there is anything “concrete” to show for it.

So I’ve come up with my own work around, and those who know me well won’t be surprised to hear what it is. Can you guess? It’s a to-do list! Basically, I go through my draft, open a separate document, and list all of the things I still need to do. Here’s a few of the points that were on my massive, 50+ point to-do list when I was revising PARADOX:

[ ] Revise the whole ending portion to make it tighter

[ ] Check the trajectory of the suns across the planet to make sure they follow proper path
[ ] Fix the final [specifics redacted] memory to show more significance
[ ] Do we need more [element redacted]? Make sure sightings are balanced throughout the story.
[ ] Come up with new names for land formations on the planet.
[ ] Check pacing/keep it moving/efficiency of scenes

And so it goes. In the end, every book is its own little mystery, its own treasure hunt that can only be uncovered one clue at a time. The joy is in the journey, of course, but without a doubt the joy is also in pushing back one’s chair, picking up that hardcover book and being able to say, at last and with satisfaction, “I’m DONE!”

So what about you? What’s your writing process? What parts do you find most and least enjoyable?

About the book:
Ana only knows her name because of the tag she finds pinned to her jumpsuit. Waking in the featureless compartment of a rocket ship, she opens the hatch to discover that she has landed on a barren alien world. Instructions in her pocket tell her to observe and to survive, no doubt with help from the wicked-looking knives she carries on her belt. But to what purpose?

Meeting up with three other teens--one boy seems strangely familiar--Ana treks across the inhospitable landscape, occasionally encountering odd twists of light that carry glimpses of people back on Earth. They're working on some sort of problem, and the situation is critical. What is the connection between Ana's mission on this planet and the crisis back on Earth, and how is she supposed to figure out the answer when she can't remember anything?

About the author:
A.J. Paquette has been writing stories since early childhood. She and her sister would spend hours creating masterpieces of stapled paper and handwritten words, complete with pen-and-ink covers and boxed illustrations.

The road to publication was long and winding, peppered with many small successes including: a variety of national magazine publications, being a 2005 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award honoree, and receiving the 2008 SCBWI’s Susan Landers Glass Scholarship Award, for the book that would later become Nowhere Girl. Her first picture book, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, was published in 2009.

She now lives with her husband and two daughters in the Boston area, where she continues to write books for children and young adults. She is also an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.


Does Paradox sound like something you want to read? If it does, enter below for your chance to win one of three ARCs of Paradox. Giveaway open to US/CANADA ONLY.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Title: Rules of Summer
Author: Joanna Philbin
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people waring pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules--a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done. 

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is brining Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?

Unlike a lot of people, I had never read anything by Joanna Philbin until I was offered a copy of Rules of Summer for review. But as many of you know, I am a sucker for any contemporary read, so I didn't think twice about picking it up. And just like I predicted, it was the perfect summer read and it didn't take long for me to get completely sucked in to the story. 

Rory McShane is ready for something different this summer. As she heads to East Hampton to work as an errand girl for the Rule family, she isn't sure what she should expect. Rory knows that she should just do her job and not get involved with the family she is working for. Everyone has warned her not to socialize with the Rules. But the more time she spends with certain members of the family, the harder she is finding it to stay away and just do her job. And it doesn't help when the youngest Rule, Isabel, decides that Rory is going to be the one to help her sneak around with a boy her parents would never approve of. But Isabel, isn't the only Rule Rory has been spending time with even if she knows that the more time she spends with Connor, the more she risks losing the one friend she's made in East Hampton.

I am a sucker for a good contemporary story, and I am even more of a sucker for those stories if they are summer themed. I just can't seem to stay away from them. It's like they have this special pull on me. All that to say that when I first heard what Rules of Summer was about, I knew right away that it was something I wanted to read. And so I picked it up and started reading and it wasn't all that long until the story had completely sucked me in. While reading Rules of Summer, I couldn't help but be transported to the Hamptons and the world Rory was living in for the summer. But the thing about this story is that it kind of took me by surprise at moments. Sure it wasn't the world's deepest and most complex story, but then there were moments when something more seemed to be happening. And those moments were the ones that kept me reading. It was exactly what I needed when I read it: a summer romance story filled with just the right amount of emotions and depth.

I loved that the story followed both Rory and Isabel. At the start of the story, the two girls could not have been any more different. But despite their differences, I could tell rather early on that the two would become friends. And even though I knew it would happen, it didn't stop me from enjoying seeing the way Rory and Isabel came together as friends. It was kind of gradual and unexpected--they were thrown together almost against their will but eventually they both started realizing that they were actually becoming friends. What I especially liked is that both Isabel and Rory needed the other girl, though they may not have realized it at first. And except for Connor, I had my issues with the rest of the Rule family. Mrs. Rule, though you eventually find out why she is the way she is, rubbed me the wrong way the whole time I was reading. It seemed like she couldn't accept that her children found happiness in ways that she didn't necessarily approve of for reasons that were a bit of a mystery to me. And the same kind of goes for the rest of that family. Except for Connor. Connor, I liked right from the beginning. And that's all there is to know about Connor without revealing everything.

Joanna Philbin's Rules of Summer was exactly what I was looking for. Right from the start, the story drew me in and I found myself having trouble putting the book down. If you are looking for a light and fun summer romance that will put a smile on your face, then I strongly recommend you pick up Rules of Summer

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Savage Blue by Zoraida Cordova

Title: The Savage Blue (The Vicious Deep #2)
Author: Zoraida Cordova
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
A storm is coming…

The ocean is a vicious place. Deeper and darker than Tristan could have imagined. Beneath its calm blue surface, an ancient battle is churning--and no one is safe.

In the quest for the Sea Throne, Tristan has already watched one good friend die. Now he must lead the rest on a dangerous voyage in search of the trident that will make him king. But while Tristan chases his destiny, the dark focus racing against him are getting strong, and the sea witch of his nightmares is getting closer.

Battling sea drains and savage creatures of the deep, Tristan needs his friends' support. But they each have their secrets, and a betrayal will force Tristan to choose between his crown and his best friend Layla--the only girl he's ever loved.

When it comes to mermaid stories I am always game. Often, all I actually need to know is that mermaids are involved for me to pick up those books. And that's how last year I found myself reading Zoraida Cordova's debut, The Vicious Deep. And though it wasn't a story I loved, it was one I enjoyed enough to pick up the sequel, The Savage Blue. And I am happy to report that I enjoyed that one even more.

Now that Tristan knows the truth about who he really is, he has to find a way to make his family proud by beating the other champions and taking his grandfather's place as king of the sea. But this whole champion thing might be a little harder than Tristan thought it was going to be. It doesn't help that Tristan has a lot of catching up on the whole merman thing. But as is often the case, there might be more going on than everyone originally thought, putting everyone Tristan cares about at risk.

While I enjoyed the first book, I had my issues with The Vicious Deep. The story was well laid out and moved along at a decent pace but I remember feeling that the action finally really started once I was about 50 pages from the end of the book. And so for that reason I decided to pick up the sequel, The Savage Blue. And it was off to a good start. Right from the first page I was thrown into the action from the end of the previous book. And for a while the action kept up. But then it slowed down until, again, it picked up close to the end of the book. But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the story. Because I did, maybe even more than I enjoyed the story in the first book. The way it would slow down than pick up again almost felt more natural this time around. This might be because there was less setting up that needed to be done which made the story flow more. But regardless of what it was, it has convinced me that I will be picking up the third book to find out how Tristan comes out of all of this.

Here's the thing, I love romance in the books I read. Typically I'm one of those people that thinks along the lines of the more romance the better. But the romance in The Savage Blue kinda of frustrated me. The whole time I was reading the first book, I was rooting for Tristan and Layla because he is obviously in love with her and she with him. And then at the start of The Savage Blue it seemed like progress had been made on this front until it felt like we were back to square one with Tristan and Layla both clearly aware of each other's feelings but not willing to act on them. I can appreciate the situation they find themselves in is quite unusual and that for all they know Tristan is going to have to leave to go live under the sea and Layla wants to protect herself. But still. These are two characters that I've come to genuinely like and keep rooting for, but at times I just seem to get frustrated with their relationship. Hopefully this is something that changes in future installments. Though I will say this, the other characters, in particular the mermaids and mermen currently forced to live outside of the ocean can be quite the entertaining bunch at times...that is when they are not trying to manipulate someone into doing something they shouldn't be doing.

Overall, I enjoyed The Savage Blue more than I did The Vicious Deep. Some of the problems I had with the first book were fixed, though others kept frustrating me as I was reading. But either way, it makes for a mermaid story that is different from the other ones out there. And because I still want to know how it all turns out, I will be reading the next book in this series.

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (30) - BEA Edition!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga of Tynga's Reviews. It's a weekly post where book bloggers showcase the book they received throughout the week.

So I've kind of been a bad blogger the past couple of weeks...but I have an excuse! You see, I was in NYC for Book Expo America and that pretty much had all my attention. And then I got back this week and had to go back to work and recover so the blog was a little neglected. But on the plus side, I now have A LOT of reading material. Because not only did I come back from BEA with a lot more books than I thought I would, but there were also some waiting for me at home when I got back. Be warned, there are A LOT of books in this post.

Non-BEA books:

- Creeps by Darren Hynes
- Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl-Weary
- Confederates Don't Wear Couture by Stephanie Kate Strohm
- The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
- To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones
- When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
- In Too Deep by Coert Vorhees
- Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Thank you to Penguin Canada, Thomas Allen & Sons, and HBG Canada for sending me these books for review.

BEA Books

I'm not going to list all the books in this picture because that might be a little more than I can handle right now. But here are a few that I'm particularly excited about:

- How To Love by Katie Cotugno (I've read this one already and it was absolutely amazing. EVERYONE needs to read this book.)
- Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles (I've also already read this one and loved it. It was as awesome as I thought it would be.)
- The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
- Fire with Fire by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
- This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
- All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

...And basically every other book in this picture. But seriously, BEA was an amazing experience beyond all the exciting books. If you ever get a chance to go, you should seriously take it.

So that's all for me this week. Hopefully I should be back to posting regularly this week, but I don't promise anything since this week is also my university graduation so it's sure to be busy. If you entered any of my Starcrossed Week giveaways, keep an eye on your e-mail in the coming days as I will be contacting the winners. 

Other than that, enjoy your week & happy reading!

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