Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marshmallow Madness Cookbook by Shauna Sever: Chef Jeff Reviews

Marshmallow Madness
by Shauna Sever
Photography by Leigh Beish
Quirk Books (Random House)
ISBN: 978-1-59474-572-0
Buy From Indigo

Description: If you’ve never tasted a fresh, homemade marshmallow, are you in for a treat! Marshmallow Madness! shows how to whip up dozens of fluffy, puffy flavors—from Strawberry and Vanilla to Buttered Rum, Root Beer Float, Maple Bacon, and more. Author Shauna Sever also includes easy recipes for homemade graham crackers, drinks for mallow dunking, and a host of irresistible desserts, including Lemon Dream Whoopie Pies, Blonde Rocky Road, and S’mores Cupcakes


The Good Stuff
  •  Great idea having the puffy cover for the cookbook - really adds to the overall enjoyment of the book
  • Original idea 
  • Fantastic for bringing unique housewarming treats (Wife says also fab for wowing authors, publishing and twitter pals -- not to mention sugar happy co-workers)
  • Lots of unique and unusual recipes for different occasions
  • Quite a few different tastes and textures
  • The introduction is extremely helpful (MUST READ BEFORE STARTING ANY OF THE RECIPES), interesting and highly entertaining - it really gets you in the mood to experiment and have fun
  • Wife and I had a great time on a rainy February afternoon trying out the different treats  - 10 yr old even helped
  • Fun change of pace from cookies, fudge and chocolate - it will impress friends and family
  • From our experience we really recommend you put all your ingredients/tools together before you start your recipe as many steps really must be done quickly.
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Should be a disclaimer - Don't try to make the recipes before you read the introduction
  • Another good suggestion would be mentioning if you don't have a stand mixer (must get one soon) that it would be extremely beneficial to have two people working together to make these.  Wife made two batches by herself and was a wee bit stressed while doing it but when we worked together it was so much smoother and she didn't get all snappy or depressed afterwards (yes readers he says crap like this all the time, and no I have not killed him yet - though tempting I tell you)
  • Once you have tasted one of these homemade marshmallows -- you will never ever want to have a bagged one again!
Favorite Recipes
  • Cookies n' Cream Marshmallows
  • Concord Grape Marshmallows
  • Margarita Marshmallows (Get yourself a good lime juice though!)
  • Sea Salt Caramel Swirl Marshmallows
  • Mallow Cones (Wife gave these to Anne Rice)
Who Should/Shouldn't Use
  •  I would recommend this to anyone who knows their way around a kitchen and who doesn't get intimidated easily (what he really is saying is not for my wife LOL!)
  • Definitely for the more experience cook/baker - although my wife did get a hang of it pretty quickly
  • If you are going to make these recipes all the time -- trust us -- buy a stand up mixer - our really good hand held one took a beating and probably will never be the same again
4.75 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review
 
PICTURES
Ingredients for Margarita Marshmallows

Don't look as good as picture -- but still taste good (use a good fresh lime though - it makes a huge difference)
 Owly Images

Lindsey took above pic for me - Thanks cannot believe I forgot to take picture

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium (Delirium #2)
by Laurenn Oliver
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-197806-7
Suggested Ages: 14+
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: February 28, 2012

Description: The old Lena is dead. The old Lena remains with Alex in Portland, Maine, behind a wall of smoke and flame, but the new Lena was born in the Wilds, transformed by hardship, deprivation, and loss.


Now an active member of the resistance, Lena fights for a world in which love will no longer be considered a dangerous disease. Her inner life is as turbulent as the world around her. . . . Although consumed with grief for Alex, might she be falling in love with someone else?

The Good Stuff
  • Brilliant character development
  • The story builds slowly but it is still exciting with lots of twists and turns
  • The brilliantly written  kissing scene reminded me of my very first passionate kiss -- with Ken Stewart - it was awesome (Both the kiss from Ken and the scene in the book )
  • Loved how strong Lena became without Alex - good positive message for young women
  • Very strong second novel in a trilogy
  • Great moral questions to discuss
  • Totally absorbing read - sucks you in and doesn't let go
  • Introduction of some new complex and interesting characters really add to the story
  • Sorry this is a little brief but hard to give some more good points without spoiling anything
The Not So Good Stuff
  • The jumping from past to present really through me at first (Just more of an FYI, you get into the style by fourth chapter)
  • The world they live in is hard to read about especially the lack of all consuming love for their children - this is an alien concept to me
  • The ending leaves me feeling a little nervous about book three in terms of plot  (Sorry would spoil if I said more, but was irritated by the ending)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"But you can build a future out of anything. A scrap, a flicker. The desire to go forward, slowly one foot at a time. You can build an airy city out of ruins."

"A world where children crack their heads on stone fireplaces and nearly gnaw off their tongues and the parents are concerned. Not heartbroken, frantic, desperate. Concerned, as they are when you fail mathematics, as they are when they are late to pay their taxes."

"The animals are on the other side of the fence: monsters wearing uniforms. They speak softly, and tell lies, and smile as they're slitting your throats."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Fans of dystopian fiction
  • Would highly recommend that you read Delirium first or you will be quite lost
  • Fans of Lauren Oliver's previous books obviously
4.5 Dewey's


I borrowed this from Jenn

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Trail of the Spellmans (Document #5)
Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-0812-0
Buy from Indigo
Release Date: February 28, 2012

Description: The long awaited fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling, Edgar- and Macavity-nominated series about an eccentric sleuthing family.  For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. As always, the Spellman clan has yet to settle into any kind of status quo. Mom, Olivia, has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities, seemingly without motive. Dad, Albert, has a secret. Her brother and sister, David and Rae, are at war, but neither will reveal the source of the conflict. And Izzy's niece, Sydney, keeps saying banana even though she hates bananas. That's not to say that Izzy isn't without her own troubles. Henry Stone keeps wanting "to talk," a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry's mother. While domestic disturbances abound, there is one source of sanity in the Spellman household: Demetrius Merriweather, now employee of the month for 18 months straight (the entire tenure of his employment).

Things aren't any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, parents hire the firm to follow their daughter. Rae is assigned the case, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. A socialite has Isabel follow her husband, despite a conspicuous lack of suspicion. A man in a sweater vest hires the firm to follow his sister, who turns out to be the socialite. Isabel wants to get to the bottom of all this, but her father erects a Chinese wall to protect the clients' wishes. As the questions pile up, Izzy won't stop hunting for the answers-even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.  Once again, it's up to her to pull the Spellmans back from the brink


The Good Stuff
  • Really enjoyed the scenes between Walter and Izzy.  She treated him firmly but with humour and compassion - nicely done
  • Great character development in this one, Izzy and Rae are growing up and learning how to be better
  • Bloody hilarious -- the dialogue is guaranteed to make you laugh aloud
  • Some nice sweet honest and heartbreaking moments
  • The ending is fantastic, the series could end now and you would be satisfied (But you will still miss this quirky families adventures)
  • Fast paced and quirky
  • As usual could not put it down and was slightly sad at the end because this is the last of the Spellman books I have -- have read 5 in a month and they feel like family to me
  • Love the footnotes, always good for a chuckle
  • Avadavits section was a wonderful bonus
  • Introduction of new characters gave the series a nice boost -- not that it needed one, but this premise could get old without new blood
  • Fabulous that Demetrius has become a major character, he's got so much potential
  • Lutz never falls back on her laurels, always brings something new to each book
  • This would make a brilliant tv series
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Certain plot development made me sad
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"What I can tell you for certain is that her handbag cost more than my car.  While I understand the desire to have the best (single-malt scotch is indeed better than most blends), I still have to wonder what deformity of character makes someone think that a bloated leather handbag that can be ripped off your shoulder by anyone with good leverage is an item to covet. Suffice it to say, I knew the client had money and I was happy to take some of it off her hands."

"I know what you're thinking. Surely all three cases will become ensnared and converge at the end. But don't get ahead of yourself. That kind of shit only happens in detective novels. How about you quit guessing and let the story unfold as it may? Even I don't know how all the pieces will fall."

"I believe in the folly of youth. I believe in rebellion and questioning authority and I even believe it's okay to commit a few misdemeanors now and again. "Try to steer clear of felonies is my motto." 

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • For those who like something just a little bit different
  • Obviously fans of Spellman series will enjoy
  • Not for fans of straight laced mysteries or P.I. style books, this is very unique
4.75 Dewey's


I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Monday, February 27, 2012

Flatscreen by Adam Wilson

Flatscreen
by Adam Wilson
HarperPerennial
ISBN: 978-0-06-209033-1
Buy from Indigo
Release Date: February 21, 2012


Description: Flatscreen tells the story of Eli Schwartz as he endures the loss of his home, the indifference of his parents, the success of his older brother, and the cruel and frequent dismissal of the opposite sex. He is a loser par excellence—pasty, soft, and high—who struggles to become a new person in a world where nothing is new. 

Into this scene of apathy rolls Seymour J. Kahn. Former star of the small screen and current paraplegic sex addict, Kahn has purchased Eli’s old family home. The two begin a dangerous friendship, one that distracts from their circumstances but speeds their descent into utter debasement and, inevitably, YouTube stardom.

By story’s end, through unlikely acts of courage and kindness, roles will be reversed, reputations resurrected, and charges (hopefully) dropped. Adam Wilson writes mischief that moves the heart, and Flatscreen marks the wondrous debut of a truth-telling comic voice


The Good Stuff
  • Totally bizarre and unique
  • Some of the dialogue (and inner dialogue) is LMAO funny
  • Good writing
  • Excellent character development
  • All of the characters feel very realistic like people you would see on the street
  • Dark and quirky - sort of reminds me of something that Apatow would make into a movie
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Eli is a loser and I just found myself disliking him and feeling uncomfortable because he was so pathetic
  • Language is over the top base and vulgar at times & I am no prude, but it just really irritated me
  • This is definitely one that men will enjoy more
  • This was not my sort of book, so its hard to review positively - but please Adam if you read this review do not be offended, its just not my bag - you got talent though
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"She's a sucker for men who are the opposite of me," Kahn said. "In that I taught her well."

"She'd bought a Mercedes SUV after the divorce, but sold it later to pay medical bills when her brother got prostrate cancer. Now Ned was dead and I bet she wished she'd kept the car, as the money she'd spent on health care didn't help in the end, and the medical costs had sealed her fast as a social pariah among the wallet-conscious women of Quinosset."

"If you don't write back just know that I don't mean anything weird by this message. I'm a good soul who's gone a bit off the deep end. My brother is a nerd, my mother is a drunk, my father is an asshole. I'm trying here, I'm really trying. Please write me back."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Hate to be sexist but this is one I think will appeal to the male reader
  • Those who like something just a little bit different, this one is for you
  • Think my brother would like this one
3 Dewey's


I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bond of Passion by Bertrice Small: Mini Book Review

Bond of Passion
by Bertrice Small
New American Library
ISBN: 978-0-451-23476-6
Buy From Indigo


Description: Called the handsomest man in the borders, Angus Ferguson, Earl of Duin, lives a quiet life, avoiding the constant political intrigues of his neighbors in order to keep his small clan safe. Now, in exchange for a piece of land he has long coveted, he has taken a wife: Annabella Baird, the plain-faced daughter of the laird of Rath.

Reluctant at first to bed the unassuming Annabella, Angus finally accepts his duty as a husband—only to discover that beneath his bride's modest demeanor is a wildcat with a spark waiting to be ignited. When, however, they accept an invitation to the court of Scotland's Queen Mary, they find themselves caught up in royal intrigue.

Mary's unfortunate marriage to her cousin Lord Darnley has proven a disaster. Worse, it has driven her into the arms of another man, James Hepburn, the dashing, powerful Earl of Bothwell. When Darnley is murdered in spectacular fashion, and his body barely cold before Mary and Bothwell wed, the queen's adversaries retaliate with a war that divides Scotland and tries the long friendship between the Earl of Duin and James Hepburn—even as it tests the bond of passion between Angus and Annabella in ways they have never expected



Mini Book Review: Not my favorite of hers, but still an enjoyable read.  Lots of steamy scenes between a married couple which is a nice change of pace for a historical romance.  There was just something missing in this one like she was sorta bored with the whole thing.  The characters are intriguing, its historically accurate and well its set in Scotland so that is always a bonus.  Its just the story that fell a little flat, almost like she was giving a play by play of what was going on, instead of telling a tale.  I think it would have worked much better as a short story. I guess I just expect much better from Bertrice who was always my go to girl for a story that I could lose myself in.  And yes, even-though was disappointed, I will still buy her next book  If you have never read her before I would suggest picking up A Moment in Time or Skye O' Malley, now those were outstanding tales!


3 Dewey's


I purchased this and will keep buying a copy of every book she writes

CONTEST: Mom and Me Mondays (On Tuesday) Quest for the Spark book two by Tom Sniegoski

Bone: Quest for the Spark Book Two
by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith
Graphix (Scholastic)
ISBN: 978-0-545-14104-8
Suggested Ages: 7+
Buy From Indigo

Description: he quest continues!The Nacht, the evil dragon that threatens to destroy both the Dreaming and the Waking World, is growing stronger, and twelve-year-old Tom Elm is the champion the Dreaming has chosen to defeat it. Along with Roderick the raccoon, Percival Bone and his nephew and niece, Randolf, Lorimar, and the two stupid Rat Creatures, Tom must race to find the missing pieces of the Spark. This leg of the journey introduces him to a trio of scheming bears and takes him into the depths of a dangerous beehive. And, on top of everything else, a traitor might be among them.

Jake's Review: I really wish that these books would go back to being graphic novels. There is way too many words and it takes me forever to read it. I like that there is lots of action, but you can show that in a comic book too.  Liked how they brought back the bees from the other books and there was some funny stuff too.  My favorite character is Joey because he never listens and he falls asleep all the time like me.  I don't like Fredrik because he is kinda weird looking (and sounding). If I could change this book I would make it into a graphic novel with lots more action and less talking. I would recommend this book to boys who like to read alot and don't care if there are not any pictures.  While I was reading I kept thinking on how hard it would be to fight rat creatures which also kinda scared me too.

Jake's Rating:  5/10

Mom's Review:  Well I definitely enjoyed it more than Jake did, but only slightly to be honest. I really think it is extremely well written and interesting but I like Bone for what it was, a fantastic graphic novel.   That being said do not let our review taint you, it really it brilliantly done. It is a fast paced (yes Jake, I know you thought it was slow, but that is because you wanted pictures) the characters are interesting and it is hilarious at times.  The artistry is top notch which I think is a little why I was disappointed -- I just wanted more of it.  I think it would really appeal to the more mature/sophisticated middle grade reader who loves fantasy. 

Mom's Rating: 7/10

CONTEST
1 Copy of Bone: Quest for the Spark Book 2
US/Canada
FOLLOWERS ONLY 
Ends February 28th
In Comments - What is Your Favorite Graphic Novel & put some way to contact you.  Again must be a follower

CONTEST & The One Dish Collection by the Canadian Living Test Kitchen: Chef Jeff Reviews

The One Dish Collection
by the Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Transcontinental Books
ISBN: 978-0-9813938-9-6
Buy From Indigo

Description: Sometimes all you want after a long day is a little bit of comfort. And what better place is there to sit back and enjoy some than at the dinner table?

Nothing says comfort like a warm, homey, all-in-one-dish dinner. It''s a delicious way to welcome people to the table without the fuss of preparing multiple, complicated recipes. And when your one-dish wonder comes from Canadian Living, Canada''s most trusted cooking authority, you know it''s going to turn out perfectly.

The One-Dish Collection offers tasty options to satisfy your cravings. Inside, you''ll find hearty meat-and-veggie soups and stews, filling dinner salads, simple skillet suppers (complete with fresh biscuits on top!), rich casseroles, flavour-packed pastas, creamy risottos and more. Add a sprinkle of helpful tips and advice from Canadian Living''s cooking experts, and you have a recipe for dinnertime success.

- 6 recipe chapters, each focused on a single food category: soups, stews, hearty salads, casseroles, skillets and simmers, and pastas and risottos\
- 80+ colour photographs
- Most recipes includes the major components of a balanced dinner (protein, starch and some vegetables)
- Simpler dishes come with suggestions for super-easy sides to round out the meal
- Helpful sidebars and tips sprinkled throughout


The Good Stuff
  • Recipes are easy to make (and in most cases really fast to make as well)
  • All of the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket even in a small town like Bolton
  • Simple step by step instructions 
  • The pictures really add to the enjoyment of the book as well as encourage you to make the recipes
  • Good variety of recipes for all tastes and skill levels
  • Nice to see some Gluten Free recipes included
  • Helpful tips and tricks on some of the recipes
  • This book is perfect for those who want to do some weekend cooking and fill up the chest freezer with ready to thaw meals for busy weeknights 
  • Wife wants you to know the Index is awesome - she is such a nerd for this sort of thing, but in her defense it really makes it easy to find things. And she also likes how the book is organized
  • The tips dealing with if you are freezing a recipe are extremely helpful
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Really could have benefited by having more pictures
  • Would have been nice to have some one dish desserts
  • Not a lot of low fat types of recipes
Favorite Recipes
  • Lemon Chicken and Spinach Noodle Soup (wife made with gluten free noodles & still tasted good)
  • Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Stew (house smells really good when making this one)
  • Slow Cooker Creamy Mushroom Chicken Stew (FAST, EASY & YUMMY)
  • Gluten-Free Quinoa Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing
  • Creamy Meatballs and Noodles (Make sure onion is chopped really fine & we used only 1/2 onion)
Who Should/Shouldn't Use
  • This cookbook (like most of the Canadian Living cookbooks) is perfect for the beginner to intermediate cook.  The more experienced cook may be a wee bit bored with this one
  • A must have for every house especially for busy households where you can make this stuff ahead and thaw as needed
4.5 Dewey's


We received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review
Contest 

1 Copy of The One Dish Collection
Canada Only
Ends February 28th

Fill Out Form


Pictures From Cooking

Ingredients for Lemon Chicken and Spinach Noodle Soup

Veggies etc chopped up and ready to go

Final Product (Yummy - BTW we added Parmesan when we served it and it made it even better!)

In My Mailbox

For Review
Thanks Simon and Schuster

Purchased
Awesome I know - got them from RedBubble
Borrowed
Thanks Jenn!
Anne Rice Book Signing

Luma and O&B Cateen

Luma and O&B Canteen

Last year during the fabulous first ever Indigo Tweet Up,  Captain Awesome (aka Jeremy Cammy)  introduced me to a fabulous restaurant called Luma located in the TIFF light box.

Indigo Tweetup Crew (and Chef Jason)


Ever since that wonderful night each time I have to go into the city for dinner/lunch I head to either Luma or O&B Canteen to eat. Nowhere else is good enough anymore - I have been spoiled for life, once you have had perfection, nothing else will do.

Picture from O&B website
Chef Jason Bangerter and his fantabulous crew can always be counted on for a truly unique and delicious meal.   Brussel sprouts or liver - which to me are the most foulest things alive - I would eat if Chef Jason made them -- That is how good he is .They also have an incredible selections of wines and the staff are extremely knowledgeable with their wine pairings. The last time we were there a couple of weeks ago our server suggested a wine  -- and we hit the LCBO the very next day to buy some.

Info about Luma
Info about O&B Canteen

If I was more talented with words I would write a poem to the most fantastic thing I have ever eaten which was this seafood sausage (that had scallop, crab, cream, fine herbs, S&P and was wrapped in caul fat and sauteed in butter)  but an ode to Chef Jason's sausage, just wouldn't sound right

Here are some pics of the fabulous food and some of my recommendations

Beef Burger (Sauteed Mushrooms, Caramalized Onions with Parmesean Frites)



Cream of Mushroom Soup (It's to die for!)

Beet Root Salad with Greek Yogurt and Savory Granola (Yes Beets and they are frickin awesome!)
Bread Pudding - mmm want again

The Famous Willy Wonka (Caramalized Banana, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Valrhona Chocolate & Chocolate Pop Rocks)
Highly Recommended at Luma

Marc Bredif Vouvray, Loire Valley, FR (White Wine)
Fattoria Castellina, Chianti Montalbano, IT (Red)
Quinta de Ventozelo, Douro, PT (Red)
Scallop Sashimi (Appetizer)
Lamb Sirloin (Main)
Steak Frites


Highly Recommended at O&B Canteen

Beef Tartare
Seared Scallops
Beet Root Salad
Salmon Frites
Chocolate Brownie


So do yourself a favor if you are in Toronto and need some good food -- Check them out

Reservations for Luma
Reservations for O&B Canteen

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever (Chemical Garden Trilogy #2)
by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0907-1
Suggested Ages: 14+
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: February 21, 2012

Description: Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind. Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ring-mistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever


The Good Stuff
  • Fabulous character development of Rhine, she has become a far more three dimensional character in this installment of the trilogy
  • DeStefano's writing is beautiful, one could actually say lyrical or poetic 
  • Very dark but truly compelling 
  • The mood and landscape of the story feel so real you feel like you are part of the story (hence the mention in the not so good stuff section)
  • New characters bring a lot to the story. Especially enjoyed and want more of Lilac, Silas, Maddie and Claire)
  • The story moves along at a good pace, keeps you interested throughout with lots of twist and turns
  • Was actually some humor which was unexpected due to storyline
  • Nice fleshed out background of Rhine's parents and what has happened to their world
  • Even-though this installment is quite dark, I didn't want to put the book down and the ending has me waiting very impatiently for the finale of the trilogy (don't even want to think how long I am going to have to wait)
  • reminiscent of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale - which is a compliment as I think it is a brilliant book 
  • Story starts with a bang too got me hooked right away
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Gabriel was very whiny and I was extremely irritated with him, without putting a spoiler in, it does makes sense in terms of the plot, but I still found him weak
  • It was very bleak and depressing and sort of put me in a down mood while reading (But as mentioned in the book sometimes things have to get worse to get better)
  • I think I am the only one, but I really didn't like the cover
Favorite Quotes/Passages


"I think of Deirdre's small, capable hands making it for me; they were etched with bright blue veins-her soft skin the only indication of her youth. Those hands could turn bathwater to magic, or thread diamonds into her knitting. Precision was in everything she created. I think of her wide hazel eyes, the soft melody of her voice. I think of how I will never see her again."


"My brother says the presidency is a useless tradition that might have once served a purpose but has become nothing but formality - something to give us hope that order will be restored one day."


"In my captivity the outside world became twice as bright in my memories, and wonderful, and so deliciously tempting that I wanted him to be a part of it.  I wanted him to know what life was beyond Vaughn's mansion. I was so swept up in these things that I forgot how cruel the world can be. How chaotic and dangerous."


Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • If you enjoyed Wither you are going to enjoy Fever 
  • I recommend this for more mature YA readers (14+) due to subject matter
  • I think you must read Whither first as you would be quite lost if you started with this installment of the trilogy -- there is enough to be able to make sense of the storyline, but you would be missing so much, I think it would effect your enjoyment
  • Definitely for fans of Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic (Really someone has to explain to me what the difference is between the two terms) 

4.25 Dewey's


I received at the Ontario Blog Squad Tweet Up

Friday, February 17, 2012

Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched #2)
Ally Condie
Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-525-42365-2
Suggested Ages:
Buy From Indigo

Description: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.


Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever

The Good Stuff
  • Exceptionally good for a second novel in a trilogy
  • Plenty of action, once you start this one, you do not want to put it down
  • Less boy angst in this one, as an adult I really enjoyed this (target audience may be disappointed in this though)
  • Introduction of some new intriguing secondary characters (Indie, Vick and Eli)
  • Don't want to spoil anything, but one part broke my heart
  • Liked that it was narrated from both Ky and Cassia's point of view
  • Good character development for both Ky and Cassia
  • Found out so much more about how Society came to be and about what is going on in their world -- kept me wanting to find out more
  • Some good moral questions entwined within the story, would be great for discussion
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Barely any Xander, would have liked more of his story
  • The same for Cassia's family -- barely any mention of them - hoping the final book brings them back
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Xander is not usually a mystery to me. He's open, honest, a story I read again and again and love every time. But, in this moment, I can't tell what he thinks."

"And then they rewarded him?" I say, my breath ragged. "Did an airship come down and save him?"
"No," she says. "He delivered his message. Then he died."
"I start to laugh, which isn't good for saving breath, and Indie laughs, too. "I told you that you wouldn't want to hear it."

"My father wanted to be the person who changed everything and saved everyone. It was dangerous. But they all believed in him. The vilagers. My Mother. Me. Then I grew older and realized he could never win. I didn't die with him because I no longer went to any of the meetings. I stopped believing."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Obviously if you enjoyed the first book in the series, you will enjoy this one
  • I wouldn't recommend reading this if you haven't read the first book, you would be pretty lost, you could do it, but I don't recommend it
  • Fans of Dystopian and Post Apocolyptic fiction will enjoy
4.25 Dewey's

I borrowed this from Jenn

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Day in the Life Series

I am putting together a series of posts called "A Day in the Life".  The series will deal with a typical day in the life of all sorts of people involved in the writing, publishing and marketing of books.  The series will start the first week of March and I am looking for more people to take part

Really interested in hearing from Editors, Agents and Authors & pretty much anyone involved in Books

If you are interested please contact me (Contact info can be found in About Me profile)

The posts would involve something like the following & would obviously be tailored to what role you are in

Job Title
Education/Work Experience (that led to current job)
What’s a “Typical” day like for you?
What books have most influenced your life most?
What was the first story you remember writing -- this could even be something you wrote in Grade 1?
How do you deal with negative reviews?
What are you working on now?
If you could be one of the characters in your books, who would it be?
What One book would you bring if you were stuck on a desert Island?
Have you ever “geeked” out over a celebrity/author
What was your favourite author/celebrity even that you have hosted so far?
What Author/Celebrity would you like to book for an event?
What One book would you bring if you were stuck on a desert Island?
What have you learned never to do again, when hosting an event?

Choose one of the following (Some poor uniformed people actually have no idea who Joss Whedon is so I had to make back up questions)
If you could be one Joss Whedon character, which one would you be and why?
IF you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Cats or Dogs  - Why?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?




Please share this with anyone you think would be interested in

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Anne Rice

A couple of months ago I saw a tweet that Anne Rice was coming to do a talk and book signing in Toronto. I immediately picked up a ticket for me and got a second one just in case someone was interested in joining me.  As soon as Jenn heard I had an extra ticket she jumped at the chance and came with me.  I read all of Rice's books (except The Mayfair Witches series as they confused the hell out of me) as they came out until the late 90's (wasn't interested in the Jesus books) so I was super excited at the chance to meet her.

Thanks to a text from Literary Treats I heard that there was already a line forming so I took off 30 minutes early from work (I had worked through my lunch so I feel no guilt) and headed over to the Toronto Reference Library where the event was being held in the Appel Salon. I hadn't been to the Reference library and a long time and wow tons of changes -- and obviously more to come.



I was excited to run into some of my blogger pals and made sure I shared some of my cookies with them. I had a separate box for Lindsey to share with Anne Rice (seems she gave most of them to Rice so hopefully they didn't taste like crap).  Michele, Wendy, Andrea (nice meeting you), Christa, Rhiannon  , Jaclyn and Gwenyth were all there and all very excited to be meeting the Queen of Goth.

The Appel Salon is beautiful and has a fabulous little wine bar where you could pick up a beverage and a treat to enjoy during the event. I was pleasantly surprised by how yummy the wine was, and will have to find out what it was so I can pick up some for the house -- I know it was a Jackson Triggs, but that is all (Have emailed them to find out)

Anne was interviewed by Mary Hynes from CBC who was lively, down to earth and intelligent.  Anne discussed how she came to write the book in terms of the inspiration and the writing craft itself. She discussed her love for her facebook fans and how she is there everyday interacting with everyone.  I found her discussion of  her break from the Catholic Church to be honest and very much respected her reasons why she left.  It was also done in a matter of fact, yet tactful way, which I was very much surprised by considering some of her past rants.

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian."


  I was actually very surprised how fun and down to earth she was and also by how young she looked -- the women has some seriously good skin. She was also very gracious and took the time to talk to people while they had their books signed, and even with that the lined moved along very quickly.



I picked up a copy of The Wolf Gift for my "adopted son" Liam and a copy for me as well.  After her talk I am very much excited about reading it, it sounds truly intriguing and unusual.  Jenn helped me out by getting some of my old Rice books signed as well (You were allowed 2 back list if you bought a copy of The Wolf Gift - I had bought 4)  Thanks so much Random House for getting this in motion, it was a fabulous event.  It was also a lot of fun talking to Lindsey Reeder who is always so enthusiastic and funny.  Nothing better than having a relaxing glass of wine and interacting with fellow book lovers.  Bravo!
Man, my camera bites!

Thanks Lindsey so much for taking this picture

 If you are interested some of my fellow bloggers also posted about their experience at the event

Lindsey Reeder
A Cupcake and a Latte
Cozy Up with a Good Read
Just a Lil' Lost

and the Toronto Public Library's Video of Event

Random House of Canada Loves Bloggers Event

I luckily made the cut and was invited to the Random House of Canada Loves Bloggers event on Saturday February 11th held at the mother ship  headquarters of Random House Canada.

Entrance & next 3 books on my TBR list
The event started off with a meet and great where we had some yummy treats and got to chat with some bloggers that I have had the privilege of meeting before as well as meeting some bloggers who I follow (still sounds creepy and stalkerish) but have never met.  Also met some new Bloggers who will now be added to my Google Reader - thank god for GR for keeping me organized and up to date! Especially enjoyed talking to Rhiannon (whose hair I also coveted - such a spectacular colour) who had a bunch of helpful tips for my upcoming trip to BEA.  Tons of my favorite people were there and I am not going to name them all just in case I forget someone -- I have guilt issues you know.

A few of the lovely girls -- sorry was so busy chatting forgot to take more pics
We than got introduced to the mystery special guests of Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus), Paula McLain (The Paris Wife) and Ami McKay (The Virgin Cure) who all gave a little talk. All three of these talented ladies were charming and funny and I coveted Paula's hair (may have to show hairdresser picture and say give me this style).  I was so ashamed that I had read none of their works and have now moved them all to the top of my almost topling TBR pile.  I loved Ami so much hers will be the first on my list -- plus she's Canadian.  Erin was hilarious and had me lmao. Paula was so articulate and intersting that I truly felt like a 12 yr old girl while talking to her, but she was so sweet and passionate about her work.

Ami reading her very first blog post
Lindsey than put together a Slideshow highlighting some of our reviews as well as some upcoming books (Very much looking forward to reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) that got us all excited. Lindsey is such an enthusiastic and fun speaker that I am now looking forward to some more books that I might not have been in the first place. Random House has introduced me to so many different books that I never would have looked at twice, and now count them as my favorite reads.

Look that's me mentioned
The Enthusiastic and fun Lindsey
The very best part we than got copies of all of the authors books that we could get signed -- I know so seriously cool isn't it -- and even after that we all got a goody bag with more books and some pens (I know a little silly about getting excited about pens, but I work in a college library and the little heathens are always stealing them and we have to beg the cheapskate office manager for more) I got Paula to sign the book for my niece Tanya as  I think she would love The Paris Wife -- sorry Tanya, I'm reading it before I pass it on to you at the Jodi Picoult event --which Paula mentioned that she also was going to be hosting.
(Thanks for trading for Spellbound Jen!)
Thank you Lindsey, Cassandra and the rest of the RH Crew as well as Erin, Paula and Ami for a truly wonderful event. Look forward to the next one (hint hint invite me again LOL!)

Sorry for the crappy pictures and childish writing (the English professors at Humber would be disgusted by my writing style) check out the following list of far more articulate bloggers for their recap of the event

A Cupcake and a Latte
Literary Treats
Just a Lil' Lost (There be a picture of me on this one -- its a rarity I usually hide)
Mermaid Vision Books

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Bewitching (The Kendra Chronicles)
by Alex Flinn
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-202415-2
Suggested Ages: 12+ (Nothing objectionable, so younger mature reader could definitely enjoy)
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Description: Kendra Hilferty, the witch who curses Kyle Kingsbury in Beastly, tells about her immortal existence-how she discovered she was a witch and the various ways she has used her powers to help people throughout the centuries. (Unfortunately her attempts have often backfired.) As it turns out, Kendra has actually had a hand in "Hansel and Gretel," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Little Mermaid"-but these are not the fairy tales you think you know! Kendra's reminiscences are wrapped around a real-time version of "Cinderella," except the "ugly" stepsister is the good guy. With dark twists, hilarious turns, and unexpected endings, Bewitching is a contemporary read for fairy-tale lovers, fantasy fans, and anyone looking for more Alex Flinn

The Good Stuff
  • A delightfully sweet and funny read
  • Kendra is an intriguing and likeable character
  • Like the twists on the fairy tales as nothing is stereotypical which makes it an interesting and never boring read.
  • Nice realistic character development
  • Things are never cut and dried, so no one is truly evil or truly good which I liked
  • Makes me want to read Beastly which I picked up at Word on the Street but haven't had a chance to read yet
  • Love the introduction, it hooks you in and makes you laugh
  • Geeked out about the Titanic subplot
  • Loved the relationship between Kendra and Emma
  • Simply a lovely way to spend a couple of hours escaping from reality and I will be looking for more of Flinn's works to enjoy (Beastly just moved up on the TBR shelf)
The Not So Good Stuff
  • I actually prefer the ARC cover, but this one is nice too (the actual cover actually looks closer to the description of Kendra)
  • Storyline jumps around a little with the sub-stories which can be a little disjointing to read
  • Would have liked more of Kendra's actual story
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"If you read fairy tales, and who doesn't, you might believe there are witches all over the place - witches baking children into gingerbread, making princesses sleep hundreds of years, even turning normal teenage boys into hideous beasts to teach them a lesson. But, actually, there are only a few of us. The reason it doesn't seem like that is because we're pretty long-lived. We live hundreds of years, as long as we don't find ourselves fueling a bonfire."

"Did you know that in West African folklore, manatees are considered sacred?" When I shook my head, Warner said, "It's true. And in days of old, sailors used to mistake them for mermaids."
"Sailors must have been pretty hard up for female companionship, huh?"

"So we were all quite happy.
(Kendra's note: except for the helpful witch, who was still banished)"

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Those who need a light fun read
  • I imagine if you liked her other books, you will like this one -- but this is my first book by Flinn so I'm just guessing here
  • Fans of Fairy Tale based books will obviously enjoy
  • If you like dark, twisted, non stop action, this will probably not be your thing
4 Dewey's

I received this from the Ontario Blog Squad Tweet Up

Contest and Review of Agorafabulous: Dispatches from my Bedroom by Sara Benincasa

Agorafabulous: Dispatches from my Bedroom
by Sara Benincasa
William Morrow (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-202441-1
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Description: “I subscribe to the notion that if you can laugh at the shittiest moments in your life, you can transcend them. And if other people can laugh at your awful shit as well, then I guess you can officially call yourself a comedian.” 

In Boston, a college student fears leaving her own room—even to use the toilet. In Pennsylvania, a meek personal assistant finally confronts a perpetually enraged gay spiritual guru. In Texas, a rookie high school teacher deals with her male student’s unusually, er, hard personal problem. Sara Benincasa has been that terrified student, that embattled employee, that confused teacher—and so much more. Her hilarious memoir chronicles her attempts to forge a wonderfully weird adulthood in the midst of her lifelong struggle with agoraphobia, depression, and unruly hair.


The Good Stuff
  • The description of the history of Sicily will have you laughing your ass off
  • A self deprecating honest look at life with a mental illness in a hopeful yet extremely hilarious way - this to me is hugely important and should be required readings for those dealing with these types of issues - things will get better no matter what
  • Doesn't blame her illness on anyone and doesn't go go all self-pity about it - just honest, straight to the point and did I mention OMG hilarious
  • Love the blender recipes
  • Her stories about her trip to Sicily as a teen, her boss at the Blessed Sanctuary and her trip to Planned Parenthood will have you laughing and cringing at the same time
  • Impressed with her bravery to come out with some very personal stories 
  • She doesn't hold back with her recovery - she makes you know it was very slow, painful and it never completely went away but she can live and most importantly  laugh at it which is incredibly healthy in my humble opinion
The Not So Good Stuff
  • I had a hard time with the jump from chapter to chapter - left me a little disorientated at first (only lasts for a sec though)
  • The many mentions of the bowl of pee grossed me out 
  • You will snort out loud on the bus and people will stare (why oh why can I not learn that reading funny/sad books on the bus  is not a good idea for someone who wants to be ignored during commute)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The island was independent for, oh, six seconds, at which point the Kingdom of Aragon (not Aragorn, the foxiest dude in the Lord of the Rings) kindly stepped in."

"HELLO. ARE YOU THE DOCTOR?" he asked in the loud, slow voice that Americans reserve for non-English speakers (as if screaming in a foreigner's face is going to increase his or her comprehension of our mongrel tongue.)

"I imagine several generations of my father's Celtic ancestors consulted the same shaman whenever young Arthywolgen was possessed by the tree-spirits or little Domnighailag expressed an interest in Christianity,"

"I prayed for forgiveness, but to the Virgin Mary, not God. I figured she'd be more sympathetic to the whole unplanned pregnancy thing, especially since she and I both knew I wasn't carrying any messiah. And I'd always had a sneaking suspicion it was Joseph who knocked her up, anyway, and the Archangel Gabriel thing was a less secular version of the stork story."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Definitely not for those sensitive about religion or bodily functions- if that is you - do not pick up the book (but your world will be sadder for it)
  • Anyone who has or is suffering from a mental illness - especially agoraphobia - this is a must
  • Quite frankly other than those who are sensitive or serious about religion - you will get something from this (At the very least a good chuckle)
4.5 Dewey's


I received this from Williman Morrow in exchange for an honest review


Special Blog Post from Sara Benincasa


5 Reasons Books Make the Best Valentines

I've spent a fair number of Valentine's Days with gentleman callers, and have even scored a few gifts over the years. Maybe I'm biased because my own book, Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom, comes out on Valentine's Day this year, but it recently occurred to me that a book would make the best possible present for the most romantic day of the year. Here's why.
1.)  It's incredibly sexy. I mean, duh. Is there anything hotter than a guy who reads? How about a guy who reads Pablo Neruda's love poems, realizes they're the perfect aphrodisiac, purchases a volume of them, wraps it in pink and red paper and presents it to a swooning lady love?

2.)  It's incredibly affordable. Diamonds are boring and often come from ethically suspect sources. Chocolate makes you fat and sluggish. Books have the potential to make you smarter, more interesting, fitter, richer, and better in bed! At the very least, a good read will improve your dinner party conversation.

3.)  It lasts forever. Or at least for the rest of your natural life, which is more than I can say for some stinky pile of flowers or some soon-to-be stale red velvet cake.

4.)  It won't leave you with a headache in the morning. Reading a book is an inherently good choice, and while its content may vary, the book itself can't make you do crazy things. A bottle of champagne, on the other hand…that's a different (and potentially far more salacious) story.


5.)  It’ll help you weed out an unsuitable suitor. Two words: “The Fountainhead.” You’re welcome.

Now go forth and get some! (Books, that is.) And a happy, happy Valentine’s Day to you.
Click here to watch the book trailer.
Connect with Sarah on Facebook and Twitter.
Link to excerpt 

Contest
Prize - Signed Copy of Agorafabulous
US Only - Publisher Rules sorry my fellow Canucks
Ends February 21st 2012
In Comment Section below tell me your favorite Romantic movie or book & Leave someway to contact you if you win

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-385-34206-3
Buy From Indigo
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Description: I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus's family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate Poppy. Stay positive!!


Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!  Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realises that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life

The Good Stuff
  • Poppy is adorable, loving, supportive and a hilarious flake -- I can totally relate to her
  • Laugh out loud funny on many occasions, yet sweet and heart breaking at times
  • Realistic character development for both Poppy and Magnus
  • Throughout the book I totally pictured Magnus to look and act like Colin Firth, couldn't help myself -- also really could translate to a movie
  • I actually couldn't put it down, which surprised me, I kept reading even-though I really should have been doing the laundry, dishes, reviews -- well you get the point
  • Will definitely be passing it around to many of my friends
  • Adored all the phone/text conversations between Poppy  -- and well everybody
  • Liked the development of Magnus' parents - despised them at first and ended up feeling compassion and love for them
  • Did I mention I kept laughing out loud while reading -- freaked the cat out
  • Hands down my favorite Kinsellla book
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Could have really benefited from a bit more editing to tighten up the story
  • Predictable (not really a bad thing, because predictable is not all that bad - more of an FYI)
  • Also less of the footnote idea -- once in a while was ok, but it really became a little irritating at the beginning
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I've never had so much access to someone else's phone before. Not my friends'; note even Magnus's. There are some things you don't share. I mean Magnus has seen every inch of my body, including the dodgy bits, but I would never, ever let him near my phone."

"I've told her she just needs to exercise at home with her Dyna-Bands, but she insists she needs my help. I think she's become totally dependent on us - which might be good for the cash register but is not good for her."

"Of course he doesn't want to read it; he's trying to be nice. Which is sweet of him but makes me feel even more tragic, since I'm twenty-nice and he's seventeen."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Fans of Chick Lit, Romance and Contemporary will enjoy
  • Not for those who enjoy intense or non stop action
  • PERFECT beach read or if stuck at home with a sick child who sleeps most of the day 
  • Obviously fans of Kinsella's other books will love this
4 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, February 13, 2012

In My Mailbox

For Review


Thanks Scholastic, Random House and HarperCollins

Thanks HarperCollins
Thanks Scholastic - this one is going to be fun

Random House Blogger Event

The Night Circus, The Paris Wife and The Virgin Cure -- ALL SIGNED (Will post about event tomorrow)

Won
Won from Kelley's Twitter contest

Purchased

Met her at OLA - Have to buy whole series now, loved her so much