Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just Finished: Eye of the Storm

Happy Halloween! I read the suspenseful and slightly spooky short story (how’s that for alliteration?) Eye of the Storm by Denise Moncrief a little while ago and I thought posting my review on Halloween was a good fit!

Here’s the synopsis:
Kieran Talbot’s problems as a resident at a Tallahassee hospital force her to take a leave of absence and escape to the beach. One stormy night, a bruised and bloodied man collapses in the front doorway of her borrowed house.
A storm blows in off the warm Gulf waters, promising to drench the coast with the first downpour of a very hot summer. Kieran retreats to the beach house as the deluge begins. Just as she gets comfortable, the door bursts open. Rain soaked and bloody, Davis Jackson falls through the doorway. He needs a hospital, but he doesn’t want the cops involved. Danger follows Davis wherever he goes. Kieran won’t tell him her story and Davis won’t tell her his. Together they must fight for their lives during a Class Three Hurricane on Florida’s Gulf coast.

I have to admit that I wasn’t super into this story. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I had no idea how long it was. I started reading it at the gym one day and then decided to finish it the next. It turns out I had read almost the whole story while at the gym so I barely had time to get back into it before it was over. For this annoyance, I blame the ereader. However, I’ve also realized that suspense isn’t really my thing. At least, not with reading. I think I require the actual visual of a good looking male instead of the one in my head… :)

Putting aside the fact that suspense stories aren't my favourite, I think Eye of the Storm provided a good little mystery. Who is Davis? What did he do? What’s Kieran's story? Why is she hiding? These are all questions that eventually get answered – but not before some craziness ensues. And I'm not talking about the hurricane!

Overall, I liked Eye of the Storm by Denise Moncrief but I think others would like it more. It’s got a bit of a crazy twist mixed in with some romance and was an enjoyable, quick read.

I received a copy of Eye of the Storm in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Still Moments Publishing!

Happy reading :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winner of Living In Glass Houses!

Thanks to the generosity of author Zoe McKnight, I had a copy of her novel Living in Glass Houses to give away as part of the recent CLP Blog Tour. You can read my review here.

To choose the winner, I assigned each entry a number and went to to choose the winning number. It picked 1.

And the winner is...Kelsey!

Thank you all for entering this giveaway! I loved hearing everyone's favourite thing about fall. It's nice to think about the good things about the season - the colours, the food - instead of the fact that cold weather is coming!

Thanks again for entering and following. I hope you stick around!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Guest Post: Laurel Osterkamp

Welcome to a stop on the November Surprise CLP Blog Tour! Since I have oodles of things happening right now, I didn't quite have the time to read the novel by Laurel Osterkamp but I wanted to spread some awareness of this book so today I have a guest post from Laurel for you all to read. Most of you reading this will know that I'm Canadian so since the upcoming election will not directly affect me I haven't been immersed in political thoughts or conversations at all. Confession: I'm also not really into politics anyway. I've voted but I don't really have a super strong feeling for any of our parties. All of these thoughts kind of made me curious about what made Laurel want to write a book that has a side story that's all about politics. Thank you to Laurel for writing this great post! And make sure you check out the main page for this tour to read some reviews so you can see if you'd want to read this novel yourself.

November Surprise – a Political Romance

I've gotten some wonderful and much appreciated feedback on my latest novel, November Surprise. However, the premise seems to confuse a lot of readers. It’s political, and a romance? A political romance? What is that?

I think of it as a romance first, and as political second. My goal in writing it was not to influence anyone, or to put forth some sort of agenda. The main characters in all my novels always resemble me in some way, and Lucy resembles me in that she’s a political junkie. It’s how she relates to the world. It would be unrealistic to have someone so obsessed with politics to not have firm opinions and ideologies, so I gave her mine. However, I specifically stayed away from some of the more subversive issues (abortion, for example) and I made sure to create at least one likeable Republican character.

What I wanted to do was to revisit the last six presidential elections, and use them as a symbol of the times. The goal was to chart Lucy’s growth through these times, and to illustrate her progress as she discovers things about herself, and the world. At the base of it all, there’s a love story. Two people connect and feel a mutual attraction, but time and circumstance keep them apart. Can they wade through the hubbub and find each other? Can they find themselves? These are the questions I aimed to answer in November Surprise. The politics were more about setting and character development than anything.

I'm really glad I wrote it, because I had a lot of fun, and I learned things through my research that I didn't already know. Plus, it was a challenge, and I love challenges. Still, I'm worried that the politics may scare off potential readers, even though I've had positive reviews from both conservatives and apolitical people. But in the end, I feel the only books I can finish are the ones that are bursting to come out. November Surprise is what was bursting at the time.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Just Finished: One Pink Line

You know those books that you read that completely grab you and will not let you go until the last page? And sometimes not even then? One Pink Line by Dina Silver was one of those books for me. I loved it. I adored it. I didn't want it to end. Yes, it was that good!

Here's the synopsis:
Can the love of a lifetime be forever changed by one pink line? Dina Silver's tender, absorbing novel, One Pink Line, is the warmhearted, wry story of love, loss and family, as seen through the prism of one singular, spirited young couple who find themselves in a predicament that changes the course of their lives, and those closest to them. With heart, humor and compassion, this debut work of women’s fiction is certain to stir anyone who relishes a good laugh, can stand a good cry, and, above all believes in the redemptive power of love. 
This unique, contemporary story gives readers a dual perspective. Sydney Shephard, a sweet-tempered, strong-natured college senior is young, in love with an exceptional man, and unexpectedly pregnant. Faced with a child she never planned for, she is forced to relay this news to her neurotic mother, relinquish her youth, and risk losing the love of her life. Then there's Grace, a daughter, who believed she was a product of this great love, grows to realize her existence is not what she assumed, and is left with profound and puzzling questions about who she really is. 
Spanning generations and every imaginable emotion, One Pink Line reveals how two points of view can be dramatically at odds, and perhaps ultimately reconciled. Simultaneously deeply felt and lighthearted, One Pink Line deftly mines how the choices we make are able to alter so many lives, and how doing the right thing and living honestly can bring unexpected, hard-won happiness. It's a must-read for anyone who relishes a great love story, absorbing characters, and plenty of laughs along the way.
I was immediately sucked into this story. I felt like I was feeling every one of Sydney's emotions right along with her. I was panicked with her, happy, sad, angry, everything. I love when I am that involved with a character and that's probably a huge contributing factor to the five star rating I gave this novel.

I love how she had Grace handle everything. All these emotions and revelations would be a lot for a young girl (hell, it'd be a lot for anyone, even a grown adult) and Grace showed maturity beyond her years. That made things so much better. I didn't want to see her mother suffer because she had to keep something from her. I could understand where she was coming from because I'm sure it would be incredibly difficult to pick the "right" time to tell your daughter this huge secret. I'm glad Grace didn't shut her out completely and that their relationship was never destroyed.

There are little twists and turns that Dina threw in that made the story a little more fun. Now, these weren't major mysteries but they kept me on my toes and kept me guessing. I liked that I didn't know exactly how everything was going to turn out. Though, I do admit, if the ending had been anything different I probably would have wanted to throw the book across the room (but I wouldn't have since it was on my ereader and throwing an ereader is never recommended). I was actually panicked that I wouldn't get the resolution I wanted! I didn't need to worry since Dina wrapped up this story in a fabulous way.

One of the reasons I wanted to review Dina's book in October (it's been sitting on my kobo for awhile...patiently waiting for me to get to it) is because she's doing a fundraiser this month - Read for the Cure. $1 from every sale of One Pink Line will be donated to the Noreen Fraser Foundation in honour of breast cancer awareness month. Now, I don't know anything about the Foundation but if you've been waiting to buy this book, now's as good a time as any! And if you weren't thinking about it before, you should now because it is awesome. Or, if you're feeling particularly philanthropic, buy the novel and donate some money to your breast cancer awareness charity of choice! :) You can buy the book on Amazon here.

Dina just recently announced that she's now going to be published with an Amazon publishing label. I think that's super exciting for her! (One request: don't change the cover! I love it!) The reason I'm mentioning this (other than the fact that it's fabulous for Dina) is that in the same post she mentions that she's working on a spin off to One Pink Line that will feature Grace as a grown up. I'm so excited! I loved reading about Grace as she grew up and I want to know where she ended up.

I loved One Pink Line. LOVED it. I will definitely be adding Dina Silver's other novel, Kat Fight, to my (massive) to be read pile, along with anything else she writes. I strongly recommend this book. I think any chick lit lover would adore this book as well. So what are you waiting for? Go buy it and let me know what you think!

Happy reading :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Winner of Forgotten!

Thanks to the generosity of author Catherine McKenzie, I had a copy of her novel Forgotten to give away in honour of the US release.

To choose the winner, I assigned each entry a number (thanks Excel!) and went to to choose the winning number. It picked 3.


The winner is Bonnie! I've emailed her and she's responded so the book will be sent off to her. Congrats!

Thank you all for entering this giveaway! I appreciate you all sharing your dream vacations with me. Just for interests sake, I took a look at all the locations to see if any were mentioned multiple times. Italy was the clear winner with two people picking the whole country and two others mentioning Venice in particular. Some people were very specific (tea plantations in India, Japan, and China - very cool!) and some couldn't pick just one place to visit. As for me? My first big trip would be to Great Britain - specifically Scotland. I'm a Stewart so of course I need to visit Scotland once in my life!

If you didn't win, don't despair. I've seen quite a few giveaways around the blogosphere so poke around and you might be able to find another copy to win! I also have another giveaway going on for Living in Glass Houses if you haven't entered that one yet.

Thanks again for entering and following. I hope you stick around!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Author Interview: Zoe McKnight

Final stop (for me) on the Living in Glass Houses tour! I reviewed the book last Saturday and you can read the review here – I really liked the book! I got the chance to interview author Zoe McKnight for this stop. Thank you to Zoe for answering my questions! And don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of this book - details are at the end of the post!

Let’s start the interview with some fast and furious favourites:

Favourite movie? The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley
Favourite author/book? The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory 
Favourite (or dream) travel destination? London. Would love to live there at some point. 
Favourite indulgence (food to eat, store to shop in, etc.)? Banana Republic and Eggnog lattes. 

What was your experience like writing and publishing Living in Glass Houses, your first novel?
It was exhilarating. It was the first time in a long time I embarked on a project that I cared so much about. I pulled many an all-nighter, spent hours on end brainstorming on ways to make it better, often vacillating between pride and self-doubt. That’s how I knew I was meant to be an author because this process breathed new life into me. The book was a definite burden of love, but I have to say I enjoyed almost every moment of it. 

Are you an outliner or a write by the seat of your pants author?
Definitely from the seat of my pants. Before I start writing, I set up the characters and their conflicts, but the details and subplots come to me along the way. Typically, I’ll have the beginning and the end in mind, then I just fill in the blanks. 

What made you decide to try your hand at writing a novel?
I'm fascinated with psychology. I love to figure out what makes people tick and I've learned that if there’s one thing that brings out the best and worst in people, it’s relationships. Some of the most rational, level-headed people I know have made some of the most shocking decisions when it came to affairs of the heart (myself included). I thought it would be interesting (and educational) to chronicle spin-offs of these stories in a novel. Blair, Jonathan and Elle are composite characters based on people I know. 

Do you have a particular writing routine? A favourite place to write or time of day to get work done?
I'm trying to develop a routine, but so far it’s been a bit of a random process. My mind is the freshest early in the morning or after midnight, so I try and stick to those time frames when I'm under a deadline. Otherwise, I try to write a little bit each day. Some days that results in several chapters, other days, just a few lines, but I think it’s important to maintain the momentum. 
As for venue, it all depends on where I am in my writing process. Early on, while I'm still brainstorming and basically throwing ideas against the wall, I can write at my local Starbuck's. But once I'm in the final stretch or editing, I need quiet. I’ll lock myself in my bedroom with no music, no TV and no cellphone so that I can focus. 

What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I'm not hanging out with my dogs, I'm watching a LOT of reality TV or 80's movies. I'm a huge on-line browser. I get a kick out of surfing my favorite websites and creating wish lists, although I rarely go back and purchase any of it. 

What can we expect from you in the future?
The sequel to Living in Glass Houses is in the works. It should be out by November 1. It follows the story of Blair and Vaughn from the first book. So much of the feedback I received was about the two of them and what happens next, so I decided to continue their story in my next novel. 

Now, for that giveaway! Zoe is kindly offering a copy of her novel to one of you lucky readers. You can choose a print copy or an ebook. All I ask is that you leave a comment on this post, or any of the previous posts, with your email address so I can contact you (use AT and DOT if you wish), and let me know what your favourite thing about fall is. I tried to come up with something that was related to the book but I decided to do something fun and random with this one! Bonus point if you follow the blog and/or the Facebook page. The contest will be open until midnight on Monday October 29 - the last day of Zoe's tour. If you've already commented on either of the previous posts, there's no need to comment again to enter (but I welcome responses to this interview!).

Happy reading :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guest Post: Zoe McKnight

It's another Living in Glass Houses tour stop! Today, author Zoe McKnight has generously written a guest post for Books Etc. I reviewed the book on Saturday and you can read the review here but the short version is that I enjoyed reading it! I was curious to find out what it was like writing from multiple perspectives and if it was difficult to make sure each character got the right amount of attention. Thank you for this great post, Zoe! And don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of this book - details are at the end of the post!

When I started writing Living in Glass Houses, it was my plan to tell the story from only one character's point of view—Elle. But I found her too level-headed and logical to make for an intriguing story on her own. So, I introduced more characters and felt their stories needed to be told as well. 

In order to balance out Elle's pragmatism, I developed a second character. One with a riveting story-line, to which I believed readers would respond strongly. And, they did. The most impassioned feedback has been about Blair. Readers either sympathize with or hate her. 

And because chick-lit (by definition) focuses solely on women, I thought it would be cool to show things from a man’s perspective. Having several close male friends I've learned that they go through a lot of the same relationship woes we do. Only, they rarely talk about it. That was the genesis of my third character,  Jonathan.

I had a lot of fun dipping in and out of the three character’s heads, but my challenge was in telling enough of their personal stories so that readers could connect with them each. Believe me, there was a lot more I wanted to write, but for the sake of brevity I had to limit their back stories. In order to find their individual voices, I created a bio for them each. A detailed story about who they were and not just the surface things like their occupations and hobbies, but also details like their personality quirks, fears, and bad habits. The small things that make people who they are. For instance, I knew Jonathan had a touch of ADD and Blair was perpetually late. Once I felt like I really knew them in my mind, I had a better sense of how they would react under certain circumstances and what drove their decision-making. It also helped as a reference when I came to points where I wasn't sure which direction to take. 

I must admit, I was a bit biased in that I had my favorite characters. And the plot I was most fascinated with, did get the most attention. But, overall, I think I balanced them out well and towards the end, the stories began to overlap so I was able to feature more than one character in each chapter. 

In my next novel, the sequel to Living in Glass Houses, I'm only telling the story of one character, Blair. This will answer a lot of questions readers had after completing the first book. It gives a deeper look into her past, who she is and why she's such a controversial character.

Now, for that giveaway! Zoe is kindly offering a copy of her novel to one of you lucky readers. You can choose a print copy or an ebook. All I ask is that you leave a comment on this post, or any of the upcoming posts, with your email address so I can contact you (use AT and DOT if you wish), and let me know what your favourite thing about fall is. I tried to come up with something that was related to the book but I decided to do something fun and random with this one! Bonus point if you follow the blog and/or the Facebook page. The contest will be open until midnight on Monday October 29 - the last day of Zoe's tour. If you've already commented on either of the previous posts, there's no need to comment again to enter (but I welcome responses to this guest post!).

Happy reading :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

CLP Blog Tour: Living in Glass Houses

Welcome to a stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Living in Glass Houses, the debut novel by Zoe McKnight. This is going to be a busy tour for me - I've got the review today, and a guest post and interview coming up in the next few days. Plus, there's a giveaway going on, too! All the details for that awesomeness will be at the end of my review.

Here's the synopsis:
Even good people make bad decisions when it comes to affairs of the heart.  
Living in Glass Houses is a contemporary story of three friends, all at a crossroads after discovering that sometimes even the best laid plans won’t result in the life you want. It’s about navigating the murky waters of relationships and friendships and having the courage to make those hard, life-altering decisions which mark the difference between existing and living.
There was a lot going on in this book. A lot. In fact, I sometimes I felt there was too much happening and that the characters - Blair, Jonathan, and Elle - were competing for my attention. It was sometimes hard to keep track of who knew who and what was happening in each of their lives. There were a few times that I really wish there would have been more detail. For example, one of the characters finds out she was pregnant and then has the baby (with a bit happening in between) but the pregnancy revelation and the birth all happened off the page with nary a mention. It was sort of like, "Surprise! This has happened and we're now moving quickly along to the next plot twist." There was also a surprise engagement with no details on exactly how it got to that point. Would I say others shouldn't read this based on this fact? No, I still think a lot of people would love how much drama was going on.

I also thought their situations were almost all too similar. It wasn't until I rated this book on Goodreads that I really thought about the title and how it reflected the story. You know that old saying, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones?" That pretty much sums up this book. Everyone is both in a position to judge while also having no ability to because they'd essentially be judging themselves. Pot calling the kettle black, and all that. That part of the story wasn't necessarily a deterrent but it was sometimes hard to read about the many lies and deceptions. It also didn't help that some of the characters needed to's say a backbone and not another part of the anatomy...and make a decision that made them happy, instead of worrying about other people or appearances or money or what might happen. The grass is not always greener (there's another theme for ya), as these characters learned.

OK, so I'm reading over what I've written so far and it's really looking less than complimentary so I feel the need to state that I really did enjoy reading this novel. It was interesting to see that dark side of relationships that no one wants to talk about. That little voice that might be inside your head saying, "Are you sure this is the right choice?" Everyone has those insecurities and I think everyone can identify with at least parts of the novel. As uncomfortable as that may be. This also points to a strength in Zoe's writing - the characters were all very believable. Either you've felt that way yourself or you've heard a friend say or do some of the same things as these characters.

I'm glad I got the chance to read Living in Glass Houses and I'm really looking forward to the sequel, which will focus on Blair. Author Zoe McKnight provided me with quite the rollercoaster ride and I'm interested to see how she continues the story. Remember to stop by in the next few days to read the guest post Zoe was nice enough to write for Books Etc. and to read the interview I did with her. Interesting stuff!

Now, for that giveaway! Zoe is kindly offering a copy of her novel to one of you lucky readers. You can choose a print copy or an ebook. All I ask is that you leave a comment on this post, or any of the upcoming posts, with your email address so I can contact you (use AT and DOT if you wish), and let me know what your favourite thing about fall is. I tried to come up with something that was related to the book but I decided to do something fun and random with this one! Bonus point if you follow the blog and/or the Facebook page. The contest will be open until midnight on Monday October 29 - the last day of Zoe's tour. If you've already commented on the post from the other day, there's no need to comment again to enter (but I welcome responses to this review!).

Happy reading :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blog Tour for Living in Glass Houses - and ANOTHER Giveaway!

Hi all! I wanted to have this up at the start of the CLP Blog Tour for Zoe McKnight's novel Living in Glass Houses. That was Monday. Today is Thursday. Obviously I'm on the ball!

Moving right along...

I've got lots of good stuff coming up for this tour - a review, a guest post, an interview, PLUS a giveaway! Zoe is kindly offering a copy of her novel to one of you lucky readers! You can choose a print copy or an ebook. All I ask is that you leave a comment on this post or any of the upcoming posts, with your email address so I can contact you (use AT and DOT if you wish), and let me know what your favourite thing about fall is. I tried to come up with something that was related to the book but I decided to do something fun and random with this one! Bonus points if you follow the blog and/or the Facebook page.

The contest will be open until midnight on Monday October 29 - the last day of Zoe's tour.

If you'd rather wait until you read my thoughts on the book before entering the contest, my review will be up on Saturday.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Repost AND a Giveaway: Forgotten

Some of you may recall me reviewing Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie way back in April. I'm reposting my review because this book has just been released in the US. Now all you readers who live south of the border can read this amazing book! Make sure you check out the bottom of the review for the most exciting part...

Catherine McKenzie is one of my favourite authors - she gets bonus points for being Canadian - so I was very excited when I learned she would be publishing a new book this spring. Forgotten (published May 1) is McKenzie's third novel (I've reviewed her first two on this blog, Spin is here and Arranged is here and both made it on my top books I read in 2011) and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy from NetGalley.

Here's the synopsis for her new release:
When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?
Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.
When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?
It's quite the interesting premise, isn't it? I can't know exactly what Emma was feeling during this insane/tumultuous/stressful time but because of the way McKenzie writes I was better able to imagine it. I did think that Emma was crazy because she assumed she could just plop herself back into her old life without any issues whatsoever but I didn't think she needed to change something about her life, as many others believed she should. If you like your life, why should you bother changing things just because you've gone through a traumatic event? Makes sense to me. It was tough to read when Emma realized that things were not going to be as easy as she hoped. It's a brutal situation but she handles it well and I was so happy with the way things turned out for her.

Even though this book deals with some pretty serious issues there are still some light and humorous moments. For example, there is a scene that involves Emma wishing she could use the Marauder's Map incantation from Harry PotterThis would be most hilarious to Harry Potter lovers but even those who don't know which spell I mean can appreciate the humour in an adult female lawyer wishing she was able to use the same magic as teenage boy wizard.

I don't want to give anything away (and, ok, I didn't make specific notes) but I just want to say - I love love love the New Year's Eve scene. It's sweet, fun, and a little heartbreaking all at once.

I adored Emma's best friend Stephanie. The two were childhood best friends who continued to grow closer as they got older. Stephanie has been with Emma through it all and is able to provide a family-type link when Emma is left alone after her mother's death. She knows just when to push Emma and when to leave her on her own, and is always there for her. In short, she's an amazing best friend - and a well written character. In fact, I would love to learn more about Stephanie and find out what she's up to now. At the end of Forgotten she's launching a new business that I think would be quite entertaining. What do you think, Catherine - care to write a sequel that focuses on Stephanie? :)

I could probably continue gushing about this novel but I won't. Instead I will say: I cannot recommend Catherine McKenzie's books enough. If you want to check them out and wonder what order you should read them in, I would personally suggest starting with Spin, moving on to Forgotten, and finishing up with Arranged. By then, I would hope that you'll be just like me - already eagerly awaiting her next novel.

Happy reading :)

Now, the most exciting part of this repost and book release - Catherine has offered a copy of Forgotten to one of you! To win the book you need to live in Canada or the US and you need to leave a comment (with an email address so I can contact you) telling me your dream travel destination - Emma's mother's dream was to go to Africa, so I want to know what yours is! Bonus points if  you start following (or already follow) Books Etc. here and/or on Facebook. Giveaway will be open until midnight on Wednesday October 24th. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors in X Genre

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

This week we're all listing our favourite authors in a particular genre. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I picked chick lit. I love those kinds of fun, sweet, and sometimes serious, books. I don't often do these lists in order of favourite but this week I started writing down the chick lit authors that came to to mind and this is how they appeared. There are also MANY more that I'd love to list. I probably should have listed more of my indie faves but consider this a list of authors to choose if you're just getting into chick lit. :)
Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating in this week's rewind!

What genre is your favourite? Who are your favourite authors?

Happy reading :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I was scrolling through Twitter last night during a Castle marathon when I saw a tweet about Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I've heard of this before and I decided to finally investigate further. Then, once I read a bit about it, I decided to sign up. Less than 10 hours before the start of the event. And after drinking a few beers. Stellar decision making skills, right there. 

So what is this read-a-thon? Coming straight from their website:
For 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October. It was created by the beloved Dewey. The first one was held in October 2007. Dewey died in late 2008. We’re still saddened by her absence, but the show must go on. The read-a-thon was renamed to honor its founder in 2009.

I haven't necessarily been in a slump but I have been trying to work through a big biography as well as working full time and taking two distance ed courses. Combine all of that and my slow non-fiction reading skills and you've got a bit of a humdrum, slow reading period. I did the Random House Canada Olympic Read-a-thon in the summer and that helped me get a move on so I'm hoping this read-a-thon will do the same.

So what am I planning on reading today? Like I said, I'm trying to finish a biography (the new Mick Jagger one, to be specific). I'm just at the part where the Stones are starting to get big so I suspect things will start moving along a little quicker soon. I don't think I'll finish it, but I need to get more read asap.

I also want to finish the short story Eye of the Storm. I'm about halfway done and it's quite mysterious so far!

I would also like to start and finish One Pink Lineby Dina Silver. She asked me to review her novel ages ago and I'd like to read it this month because of a promotion she has going on. She will be donating $1 from every sale of her book to a charity. Pretty awesome, right?

I don't want to commit myself to too much. I'm realistic. After all, it's two and a half hours into the read-a-thon and I have yet to pick up a book. (I desperately needed a sleep in!) I am planning on trying to read in a couple of different places, too. My thoughts? My house, the gym, and a coffee shop. There are errands to be done today so I may as well treat myself to a tasty drink while I'm out!

I'll update this post throughout the day as I get some reading done.

Happy reading :)

Update #1
It's now approaching hour of the read-a-thon. I think. Numbers aren't really my thing. It started in my timezone at 8am and it's now 5pm so you can do the math and let me know if I'm wrong :) I thought I'd let you all know that I have failed on the reading in different places front. Too lazy to make it to the gym today! I have finished the short story and have read four chapters (123 pages) of the Mick Jagger bio. I have also gone to the bank and the grocery store, cleaned my plastic container cupboard, and put dishes away. Productive, no? It's been fun having a bit of a motivator in this read-a-thon to really get moving on the biography. I'm off to investigate some of the mini-challenges the organizers hold to see if I can participate a little more fully in this read-a-thon!

Update #2
Ah, the day after a read-a-thon. I feel happy with what I accomplished. I ended up reading a total of 224 pages of Mick Jagger. I'm just getting to some real craziness (their ex-guitarist just died, days after  Mick and Keith fired him) and am looking forward to the rest of it. I did one mini challenge (had to guess the titles of books based on partially hidden covers). Next time I'll plan this all out better instead of deciding the night before to participate :) Overall, I'm glad I took part and I'll be marking my calendars for the next read-a-thon in April!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where We Belong: Audio Clip

This post is LONG overdue but I was asked by Macmillan Audio to share an audio clip of Where We Belong, Emily Giffin's latest novel, with all of my lovely readers.

I admit, I'm not a huge audio book fan. This is definitely a personal thing and not anything against the format. I think it's because I don't absorb as much when I'm not reading something myself.

I do, however, think it's awesome that audio books exist. Sometimes it might be the only way people get a chance to "read." I know that if I was going for a ridiculously long road trip on my own I would probably look into buying or borrowing an audio book.

I realllly liked Where We Belong (review is here) so hopefully this post (and the clip) will nudge you procrastinators a little bit. Stop putting off purchasing this book and get to it! :)

Without further ado, you can listen to the clip here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Rewind!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature. 

This week's list is a rewind post. We're able to pick a previous TTT topic and create our list or add more to it if we've done it before. I missed the boat on the bookish confessions week awhile back so I've decided to come up with ten confessions for you all!

Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating in this week's rewind!

1. I didn't have time to finish the copy of A Discovery of Witches that I got from my local library and since it was so popular there were a bazillion holds on it and I couldn't renew it. So, I did what any book lover would do and I bought a kobo and the ebook copy of the novel. (I was planning on buying a kobo anyway. I swear.)

2. I sometimes have problems lending people books. Especially if I haven't read them yet myself. How am I supposed to trust someone else to be completely anal about my book and not hurt it? I once had a friend who folded the covers back on my paperback books *shudder*

3. I judge others by what they read. This is especially awkward when I'm judging based on Twilight or Fifty Shades as I have read them. But if people honestly think those are the greatest novels ever written then I'm going to go ahead and judge them. Hey, I'm all for an entertaining story but I can't agree with those folks when I know there are MUCH better books out there in the world.

4. I have to refrain from being overeager and totally nerdy when talking about books with people (you know, those real life friends you have that just don't quite get this whole blogging about books thing). I could honestly talk about books all day but I realize that makes me seem a bit crazy in the real world so I tone it down. A bit. 

5. I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at work the Monday after it was released. Six of the eight hours I was there were spent reading. My sister did the midnight line up thing and read the book over the weekend. I saved it for Monday when I knew I'd be alone in the store I was working at and could read all day. Summer's best employee, right here. 

6. I have yet to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's something that I would like, I know, but I just haven't done it. And honestly? I probably won't ever get around to it.

7. I have four library cards. And they used to all be in my wallet, too. Only two of them are still active - the one from my home town and the one for the city I currently live in. 

8. I also haven't read a ton of those classics that everyone's supposed to read. You know, Jane Eyre, 1984, Catch 22, Animal Farm, and so on. I HAVE read Catcher in the Rye though. Actually, this is kind of a two part confessions: I borrowed the copy my best friend was reading for her grade twelve (eleven?) English class because I wanted to read it and my class didn't get to. 

9. I have probably close to 100 books on my shelves (real and electronic) that I need to read. Another two parter: some of those books were purchased when I still worked at Coles. I know that one in particular was bought three years ago. Yeah. I've got a problem.

10. Finally, I also judge people who don't like to read. Or say they "can't find the time" to read. I. Just. Don't. Get. It. 

So, now that you all know that I'm a judgemental, crazy, obsessed reader...what are some of your bookish confessions?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Just Finished: All At Sea

It should come to no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love Heather Wardell and all of her novels.  I was more than happy to agree to review her latest, All At Sea. As usual, her novel didn't disappoint! I devoured this book in three, two sittings and one gym workout! It was one of those books that I couldn't wait to finish but I also didn't want it to end. Hallmark of a good story!

Here's the synopsis:
Melissa and Owen met on New Years' Eve and he proposed on Valentine's Day. Now it's March, and they're about to set sail on a two-week Caribbean cruise - and get married on the last day at sea. Though their relationship's moving fast, Melissa's wanted to be married for years and she knows the smart stable Owen is a great catch so she's sure they'll be fine.
At least, she's sure until she meets his brothers on the cruise and discovers she's dated both of them: Austin, the fun-loving flirt whose kisses still haunt her dreams, and Nicholas, the sweet horror movie fan whose lack of ambition upset her in ways she still doesn't understand.
Melissa expected to spend tons of time onboard with her fiancé, but he instead spends nearly his every waking moment in the casino displaying a previously unseen love of gambling. This surprise, and the time she spends with Nicholas and with Austin, makes her question everything she thought she wanted.
Her relationship with Owen was just fine before, but suddenly 'just fine' doesn't seem good enough to keep a marriage alive for a lifetime. Melissa has two weeks to decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.
As per usual, Heather created some exceptional characters. I was so invested in Melissa's story and was so worried about how things would turn out. Would she go through with the wedding? Would she be true to herself? It actually felt like I was going through this right along with her. That is how emotionally involved I was.

I also loved her friends. Wendy and Mark were so funny and so cute together. Wendy knew just what to do for Melissa when she wasn't sure herself and knew she couldn't keep quiet when her best friend was in such turmoil. I also thought that Austin was hilarious. I'm realllly hoping Heather decides to write a book that features him sometime in the near future :) All of the supporting characters really added to my enjoyment of this novel.

What made this book a little more fun for me was being able to recall my own time on a cruise ship. My sister and I went on our very first cruise in February and had a great time. I thought about where the quiet pool was on our ship, as well as the casino (no, we didn't go in there), and the towel animals that were left in our room. I just found that it was nice to have a personal experience with a cruise to help me enjoy the story just a little bit more. Not that you can't enjoy it if you've never been on a cruise! It just heightened the fun of it for me :)

Side note: I love that Heather was able to get the words "polar bear" into a novel that takes place on a cruise ship. She makes sure to slip it in in every one of her books and I love finding it!

Read All At Sea...seriously. It's wonderful. If you really want to get hooked, go back to the beginning of Heather's Toronto Series and read Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo (bonus - you can get it for free for your ereader! Click that link to get it for your Kindle). Characters from one book pop up in another and you'll enjoy the novels more fully if you understand the backstories. Heather has ten novels released now and I've read six of them. I wish I had the time to cuddle up with the remaining four over the Thanksgiving weekend (which, by the way, is this weekend for myself and my fellow Canadian readers). If only life didn't get in the way of reading time... :)

Happy reading and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Just Finished: Much Ado About Magic

You have no idea how excited I was to find out that there was a new book in the Enchanted Inc. series. There may have been cheering. And pompoms. And celebratory ice cream. OK, maybe not the pompoms :) But I was seriously excited. Much Ado About Magic is the fifth book in the series by Shanna Swendson and fans have been waiting OVER FOUR YEARS for the next book in the Enchanted Inc. series. FOUR YEARS! 

Here's the synopsis:
Katie Chandler is back in New York and at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. – and just in time. The city’s in the grip of a magical crime wave from spells that wizarding whiz Owen Palmer thinks look awfully familiar, and the rogue firm Spellworks is raising its profile in the magical world by selling protective amulets. It’s Katie’s job as the new director of marketing for MSI to fight this battle of public perception while Owen and the other wizards try to uncover what’s really going on.
What Katie doesn't realize is that her idea to stage a showcase for MSI's magical achievements is playing right into a devious plot more than three decades in the making. Now Katie has to do damage control that has nothing to do with marketing. To save the magical world, she’ll have to prove who the real enemy is, and doing that will require digging deeper into Owen’s mysterious past than he wants anyone to go. If she fails, she not only stands to lose a magical war, but she could also lose the man she loves.
HOLD THE PHONES! I just learned that there will be a book #6. Cue the pompoms.

Book six will be called No Quest For The Wicked and Goodreads is saying that it was released on the 1st! Happy October! *hops off to request the book on NetGalley* (ha..."hops"...get it?)


Anyway. Back to the review! 

I really enjoyed catching up on Katie and all of her magical - and non-magical - friends. Though, truth be told, I kind of forgot what had been going on. Four years is a long time to wait. My advice? Reread at least book #4 (Don't Hex with Texas) before diving into this one. 

What I like about this series is that even though it's a fantasy and the characters are almost all magical beings, it's so relatable. Take out the magic and you've got a typical struggle in the workplace, a (very chaste) romance, and a bunch of girlfriends living in New York. That's kind of oversimplifying but you know what I'm getting at, right? I think that's what makes me like some fantasy books over others. As long as there's something that grounds the story in reality I enjoy it a lot more.

It was really great to finally find out what was in store for Katie. She really seemed to come into her own in this novel, which was awesome. She really understands the magical world but can, literally, see through the illusions and answer questions that magical beings cannot. I was also curious about the future of MSI, her workplace, as well. And, of course, how things would turn out with her and Owen. I was a little disappointed in the romance department though. Not because anything bad happened but because nothing really...happened. It was like reading about a couple who were in the fifth grade. Apparently I would have liked a little more heat! That's definitely not a negative, it was just kind of strange that there didn't seem to be any sort of physical connection but I suppose that's just Owen's way. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Much Ado About Magic. It was fun, sweet, and had just the right amount of action. I'm so glad that I FINALLY got to read the fifth book in the series. Shanna Swendson finds a great balance between magic and reality that is wonderful to read. I'd definitely recommend this series if you like light-hearted magical books.

Happy reading :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Awesome Contest Announcement!

Hi friends!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know that I LOVE Catherine McKenzie's novels. No idea what books I'm talking about? Read my reviews of Spin, Arranged, and Forgotten to catch up.

Forgotten is going to be released in the US coming up on October 16th so in honour of that, Catherine's publishers William Morrow and HarperCollins Canada have dropped the price of the ebook for Arranged and are also holding a fabulous giveaway.

All of the info can be found on the note that is on Catherine's author page. Click here to be taken to it and to comment and share the note (they count as entries!).

Here are the ways you can win:
  • Comment on the note on her Facebook page (see above) – 1 entry
  • Update your Facebook status (e.g. 'Arranged is $1.99 for a week. Awesome!') – 2 entries
  • Share this note on Facebook - 2 entries
  • Tweet about it – 2 entries
  • Grab the tile ad (the image in this note) and put it on your website  – 3 entries
  • Write a blog post about the price drop and contest – 5 entries
  • NB -- add a comment on this post with a link to your shares to get those extra entries!
  • AND FINALLY: Email proof of purchase of the e-book of ARRANGED to - 10 entries
What can you win?: One of FIVE signed copies of FORGOTTEN

What else can you win?: If ARRANGED breaks the top 100 on Kindle or Nook or Kobo you can win a signed set of all three books + a $50 giftcard to the bookseller of your choice. And if we break the top 10, there may be more awesome prizes.

Not bad, right?

I strongly encourage you to go buy Spin, Arranged, and Forgotten (for those of you in Canada). My favourite is Arranged. My copy is currently with my mom to read on her upcoming cruise!

Where can you buy these wonderful books? Good question.

US Buy Links:

Canadian Buy Links:
Kobo (only $2.99!!)

(PS If for some reason those links decide to be stupid and not work, hop on over to Catherine's note and copy and paste the links from there)

I hope all of this has convinced you to give at least one of her books a try. Have you already read Catherine's novels? I'd love to hear what you think of them!

For now, I wish you all luck (but not too much luck since I want to win too ;) hehe) and happy reading!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Banned Books Week!

Since Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to throw in my two cents about the whole banning books issue.

How and why are people still banning books? I thought we were moving towards a more open society. Don't get me wrong, I definitely think it's a good idea to keep a six year old from reading The Hunger Games. Parents should still be aware of what their children are reading and if they don't feel their tween or teen is mature enough to handle the content of a certain book, that is just fine by me. But trying to keep everyone from reading books like The Hunger Games? Craziness.

Here's a little bit of information about challenging, from ALA:
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
I'm not saying that everyone needs to read these challenged books. I'm not saying that others aren't allowed to have their own opinions. What I want to stress is that the opinions of a few shouldn't mean that others aren't able to make their own decision.

Here's a list of the ten most challenged books (or series) from 2011:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

My Mom's Having a Baby!: A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

Alice(series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism

Source: Banned Books Week website

How many have you read? I've read The Hunger Games and Gossip Girl series but that's all.

There's also the list found here that has the 100 top banned books from 2000-2009. I've read 10 on this list. How about you? Top of the list? None other than Harry Potter. They have a similar list for 1990-1999 (10 again here). Surprising fact from this list: Judy Blume has five books on that list. Another surprise? You can find Where's Waldo on here too. For interest's sake and because everyone's talking about it because of the film adaptation - The Perks of Being a Wallflower made it on the top 10 list in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. I wonder if it will make it on the list again next year?

In closing, I want to suggest that you check out a banned book this week. Personally, I'm going to try to make time to read Perks (since I missed the boat on that one when I was in high school). Also, see if you can talk to your local librarians about creating some awesome displays like these:

As always, happy reading :)