Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sisters From Hardscrabble Bay - Beverly Jensen

A tale of two sisters over seventy years that recovers the vibrant and unforgettable voice of Beverly Jensen.

In 1916, Idella and Avis Hillock live on the edge of a chilly bluff in New Brunswick-a hardscrabble world of potato farms and lobster traps, rough men, hard work, and baffling beauty. From "Gone," the heartbreaking story of their mother's medical crisis in childbirth, to the darkly comic "Wake," which follows the grown siblings' catastrophic efforts to escort their father, "Wild Bill" Hillock's body to his funeral, the stories of Idella and Avis offer a compelling and wry vision of two remarkable women. The vivid cast includes Idella's philandering husband Edward, her bewilderingly difficult mother-in-law- and Avis, whose serial romantic disasters never quell her irrepressible spirit. Jensen's work evokes a time gone by and reads like an instant American classic.

Beverly Jensen died of cancer at the age of forty-nine without publishing her work. Since her death, her fiction has been championed by a dedicated group of supporters, including Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay
Author: Beverly Jensen
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 24, 2010
My Rating: 4/5

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay chronicles the lives of both Idella, and Avis Hillock. The book is sectioned off into snippets, and there is a span of 4 to 5 years, or longer between each story. The book itself spans roughly 70 years. It primarily follows the life of Idella, but we do get to read from Avis' viewpoint from time to time.

I found myself immersed in the story at the beginning. I really enjoyed the writing style and found that I was reading fairly quickly. I loved how independent Idella was, and how she wanted to get away from the life she was living. However, midway through, the book started to drag a bit. I'm not sure if it was anything in particular, or if circumstances in the book warranted the story to slowly unfold. It then picked up again closer to the end. I found that I enjoyed the stories more so when the sisters were together, though I didn't particularly like Avis' character. I found her too crass, and didn't always appreciate how she treated Idella. Such is sisterly love though.
This book was published posthumously, and is a tribute to Jensen's writing and family. It's a shame that she couldn't see her dreams realized. However, her family will always be able to hear her voice through this novel.
All in all, an interesting read. The trouble that Idella and Avis get into make this a heartwarming and sad read. Some may not enjoy the slow pace, but the antics that the girls get up to will have your head shaking, and your lips turning up into a rueful smile.

Disclaimer: I won this book through Penguin Canada's Exclusive Reads program.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It Started With A Dare - Lindsay Faith Rech

Self-proclaimed nobody CG Silverman sees her move to an upscale new school as her chance to be somebody different. Her devil-may-care attitude attracts the in-clique, and before CG realizes it, a routine game of truth or dare launches her to iconic status.
While this rebel image helps secure CG’s newfound popularity, it also propels her through a maze of unprecedented chaos, with each new lie and every dare opening doors that, in most cases, were better off left shut.
CG is on a collision course with disaster. Will she be able to keep up the façade? Or will the whole world find out she’s a fraud?

Title: It Started With A Dare
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Graphia
Publication Date: September 13, 2010
My Rating: 4/5

CG is hoping to reinvent herself. New school, new crowd, why shouldn't she be popular this time around? No one knows her here, she can be whoever she wants to be. She ups the ante with a simple game of truth or dare. Telling the truth isn't hard for CG, but she prefers to embellish her answers. As for the dare, well, the more outrageous, why not? Her devil-may-care attitude gets her in the door with the popular crowd, but once there, she needs to maintain the status quo.
I, curiously, enjoyed reading about CG and did connect with her on some level. The more I read though, the more my head started shaking. I could just imagine where she was headed, and kept pleading with her to stop. Of course, she's a fictional character and can't hear or comprehend what I'm saying, so that didn't help matters any. She is a loveable character, though she does some daft things. Her character does evolve and there is hope for her. Whether she continues on the path she is on, or realizes what she is doing and stops, is another matter entirely.
The integral characters to the book are all richly realized. They are fleshed out and you can't help but feel sorry for some, or roll your eyes at certain others. Regardless, they are all human, and this book goes to show that what some may constitute as fun, may unintentionally harm others.
The humour throughout the book kept the general atmosphere tongue in cheek, without being cloyingly sweet. CG's use of expletives was abundant and varied; some of her outbursts had me laughing out loud, they were so off the wall.
All in all, a lighthearted book about the measures that people will take to fit in. Well worth the read, the moral of the story is pure. This will definitely be a book that I remember, especially for the lessons on what not to do to fit in.

Disclaimer: This book was obtained through netgalley, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for sending me this copy to review.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country - Allan Richard Shickman

Well past the middle of the night Zan felt a shaking of his shoulder as he slept, and then an impatient foot kicking at him. Instinctively grabbing for his spear, he looked up and saw the orange glow of a torch, and as his eyes adjusted to the invading light he recognized his brother's ghastly face. Dael's dangerous brow was furrowed, and the vein of his forehead bulged under the old scar. His teeth were clenched, and his eyes darted nervously back and forth. His every motion expressed a profound agitation, and Zan knew that what he had been dreading had come.

"It is time, Zan. Let us go!"
"Where? It's dark!"
"I want to find where the river comes from."

The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them.

Title: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country
Genre: Young Adult, Prehistoric Fiction
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Publication Date: September 26, 2009
My Rating: 4/5

Zan-Gah has returned with Dael in tow to the land of his people. Dael is not the same person he was prior to his abduction, and Zan-Gah is concerned for his well-being. Together, the clan decides to move to a more prosperous region, however Dael attempts to stir up conflict along the way.
I enjoyed this book more than the first one, more so because it captured my attention right from the start. The conflict between the brothers was portrayed beautifully, and I enjoyed how the characters evolved; though I felt heartbroken for Dael. He has definitely had a hard time adjusting to life outside of captivity, and still dwells on his past, making him an extremely troubled and volatile young man. Zan-Gah tries to understand, and gives him leeway, however Dael takes it to mean that his brother is passive, and that he is the more agressive of the two. He wants to become leader of the clan, and soon the clan is divided into two. I loved the evolution, and resolution given for several of the main characters. I felt that their progression was true to form. The imagery was also stunning and evocative. The description made the land, and vegetation stand out.
All in all, a successful follow up to the previous book in the series. Action abounds in this sequel, and we also get to see more inventions, and more of the inner workings of certain characters in this book.

Many thanks goes to Bonnie from Earthshaker Books for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gold Medal Murder - Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon

"That's Scott Trevor!" said Frank. "People say he's the fastest man on earth! Or, well, in water."

Turned out Scott had, at twenty-one, already won six Olympic gold medals and set multiple world records. He'd also begun to receive numerous death threats, all focusing on the upcoming Summer Olympics in LA.

"I know that look," said George. "What are you thinking, Nance?"

"Nothing," Nancy said. "But you know... I've never been to the Olympics. And it's in the country this year. It would be a shame to miss it."

Bess looked at George, a smile spreading across her face.

One Olympic scandal. One big crime.
Three of the best teen detectives of all time.

Title: Gold Medal Murder. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery #4.
Author: Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon
Genre: Young Adult, MG, Mystery.
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys tackle crime in an all new crossover. Their mission? To catch those responsible for sending death threats to a pair of Olympic athletes, before things escalate to murder.
I admit it, I absolutely loved reading the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books when I was younger. I still enjoy reading them now. They are a classic, fresh read, full of mystery, and mayhem. I especially love the crossover books as I love the chemistry between the characters, and I love trying to figure out "whodunit".
This book stays true to form, and we are immediately immersed in the story. The action is fast-paced, and it takes us for a roller-coaster ride, along with all of our favourite characters. Both Bess and George are in this installment, and they also help the three sleuths figure out what is going on, and who is involved.
All in all, an excellent read that reminds me of why I love both of these series, and especially the super mysteries. It doesn't disappoint, and will keep you guessing to the very end.

Many thanks goes to Loretta from Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In My Mailbox -28-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

For Review
1. Repairing Rainbows: A True Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices - Lynda Fishman
2. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson
3. & 4. Scars - Cheryl Rainfield. I received a second copy of this book to give away during the Scars blog tour which is being hosted in September. Look for the giveaway then. You can look HERE to see which blogs are involved in the tour.

Many thanks goes to Alina, Cheryl Rainfield, and Loretta from Simon & Schuster for sending me these books for review.

1. Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover - Ally Carter
2. Forget You - Jennifer Echols
3. Adam - Ted Dekker
4. Stormlord Rising - Glenda Larke

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Richard Shickman

The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes: survival, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, nature's wonders and terrors.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
Genre: Young Adult, Prehistoric Fiction
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Publication Date: July 15, 2007
My Rating: 3.5/5

Zan is in a highly exalted position after he has killed a man-eating lion. He earns the new name Zan-Gah; "Gah" being "of the rock". His tribe celebrates their victory over the demise of the lion. Zan-Gah, however, still feels responsible for his twin brother's disappearance well over a year prior, so he decides to embark on a journey to find Dael. Along the way he befriends several people, and makes enemies of others. Nevertheless, he will not give up until he has found Dael, and will do everything in his power to bring him home.
I found that this book was quite similar to Jean Auel's Earth Children series, in the sense that they are both set in prehistoric times. There is not a lot of literature set in this particular era, and I found the book quite captivating. The people, and dwellings, as well as the cultures of all of the different tribes proved fascinating. The imagery was painted vividly throughout the story, and it didn't detract from the storytelling. Zan-Gah is a unique individual himself, as he overcomes obstacles and he puts everything he has learned to good use. He is extremely bright, and manages to grow into a formidable young man.
One thing that younger teens, and tweens may not enjoy is Dael's emotional and emotionless killing. The scenes, though vivid, are written in such a way that the reader knows that they are set apart from the story. The storytelling itself was done remarkably well, and I found that the plot never really dragged. It meandered while Zan-Gah was searching for Dael, however several years would fly by before the end of the next sentence.
All in all, an insightful read set in prehistoric times. Some violence and graphic scenes, however they were few and far between. Captivating, interesting, and empowering. Many teens, and tweens will enjoy this book.

Many thanks goes to Bonnie from Earthshaker Books for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Emerald Talisman - Brenda Pandos

To be normal, sixteen-year-old Julia Parker would shed her empathic gift in a second. Life has been difficult since her mother's mysterious disappearance ten years earlier - an event she witnessed, but can't remember. Julia's situation becomes more complicated after a near death experience from a blood thirsty stalker. As high school students go missing it is clear there is a connection to her own experience--past and present. Someone has to stop the madness and a chance encounter with a creepy psychic foretells that only Julia is the key to stopping the madness, but it may require the life of the one she loves.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: The Emerald Talisman
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Vampires
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Publication Date: March 24, 2010
My Rating: 4/5

Julia isn't your normal everyday girl, though she would love to be. She is an empath, and hasn't really found her abilities all that useful. That is, until she makes a decision that could end up killing her. Now, more than ever, she will need to watch her back and rely on her abilities so she doesn't end up dead, or worse.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and devoured it at a leisurely pace. I enjoyed Julia's character and growth throughout the book. Originally, I wasn't all that impressed with her, but as she responds to certain situations throughout the book, I grew to really like her. I especially enjoyed the chemistry between her and Nicholas, and kept wanting to read more about him. I also really enjoyed her group of friends and hope we get to see more of them in the sequel.
I found the plot fast-paced, and engaging. Julia's love and compassion for her friends, and those around her really helps showcase her character. I loved the mystery surrounding certain characters, and events, and even now I am left wondering what exactly is going to happen next. The mystery deepens the further you get into the book, leaving you with questions for the sequel. The book also has its own unique spin on the vampire mythos making it a refreshing read.
All in all, this was an excellent page-turner. It captured my interest immediately, and never let go. Pandos is definitely one to watch. This is a great debut, and would be a worthy addition to any collection.

Many thanks goes to Brenda Pandos for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Red Queen Giveaway

Hey all, I have received an extra copy of The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory and would love to give it away to someone who would enjoy reading it, and is willing to review it. The review can be on your blog, amazon, or goodreads, as long as it is posted somewhere. If this is a title that interests you, feel free to contact me at my email address or through the comment section of this post.

The copy that I will be sending out is the ARC of this book. It is in paperback format. I would like to make this available to those in the US or Canada only. (Sorry to those of you who are international.)

A little bit of information about the book--taken from goodreads.

The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all of those who have entered. I appreciate it. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scent of the Missing - Susannah Charleson

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Susannah Charleson clipped a photo from the newspaper: an exhausted canine handler, face buried in the fur of his search-and-rescue dog. A dog lover and pilot with search experience herself, Susannah was so moved by the image that she decided to volunteer with a local canine team and soon discovered firsthand the long hours, nonexistent pay, and often heart-wrenching results they face.
Still, she felt the call, and once she qualified to train a dog of her own, she adopted Puzzle, a strong, bright Golden Retriever puppy who exhibited unique aptitude as a working dog but who was less interested in the role of compliant house pet. Puzzle's willfulness and high drive, both assets in the field, challenged even Susannah, who had raised dogs for years.
Scent of the Missing is the story of Susannah and Puzzle's adventures and of the close relationship they forge as they search for the lost--a teen gone missing, an Alzheimer's patient wandering in the cold, signs of the crew amid the debris of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. From the earliest air-scent lessons to her final mastery of whole-body dialogue, Puzzle emerges as a fully collaborative partner in a noble enterprise that unfolds across the forests, plains, and cityscapes of the Southwest. Along the way, Susannah and Puzzle learn to read the clues in the field, and in each other, to accomplish together the critical work neither could do alone and to unravel the mystery of the human-canine bond.

Title: Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog
Genre: Adult Non-fiction, Memoir
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: April 14, 2010
My Rating: 5/5

This book chronicles the life of Puzzle, from puppyhood, to training, and ends with her certification for search and rescue. We also get to see the human-canine bond flourish, during the training sessions as well as at home, between both Susannah, and Puzzle. Scent of the Missing takes an in-depth look at what it takes to both volunteer, and train a search and rescue dog. Puzzle is still a mischevious puppy, and we get to see the curious and playful side of puppyhood clash with the seriousness of training.
Puzzle already from birth had the markers for being a service dog. She has an affable nature, and is willing to search. Through many trials and tests, she has honed her skill. Search and rescue is not up to just the dogs though. The handlers have to learn what signals their dogs are sending out, if they are working a trail with no scent, old scent, or fresh scent. They need to know exactly what each twitch of their tail or nose means, and they need to be able to keep up. Search and Rescue is definitely a team effort. It is up to the handler to decide whether or not they are going to respond to certain calls. Some areas are exceedingly dangerous to both the dogs, and the handlers. These teams put their lives on the line to track missing persons, as they track anywhere they are needed. Conditions are almost always hazardous, though in one chapter, one of the extreme calls mentioned was one where the area had to be swept for bombs and cyanide before the teams would be allowed in.
The sacrifice that the teams make is astounding. They pour their time, and money into an occupation that is mainly volunteer, with the hope that they can make a difference and help those in need.
Charleson writes a no-holds-barred account of what life is like for the search and rescue teams. Through her writing, and Puzzle's training, we get a glimpse of what is entailed for those who are in the search and rescue field. The misery, exhaustion, defeat, when cases are still ongoing, and yet, we also get to see the joy, when they successfully find someone, and bring them home.
All in all, this was an authentic representation of the life of the Search and Rescue teams, and it was also a heart-wrenching read. The teams are absolutely dedicated to finding and helping those in need. The dogs are brilliant, and they are phenomenal in their tracking. In the words of Charleson, trust the dog.

Many thanks goes to Julie from FSB Media for sending me this book to review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We have a winner!

Hi all! I just wanted to say that the giveaway for Hate List by Jennifer Brown has ended. If you are interested in reading the interview, you can find it here. Without further ado, the winner is:


Congratulations Spav on winning the book! I've sent an email already and am just waiting to hear back. If I don't hear back in the next few days, I'll have to pick another winner.
Thank you everyone for entering the contest! Keep checking back as I have more in the works. Currently, I am co-hosting one with Kari from A Good Addiction, and Sandy from Pirate Penguin's Reads. You can find that contest here. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! Happy reading everyone! :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In My Mailbox -27-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

For Review
1. The Emerald Talisman - Brenda Pandos (signed)
2. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
3. Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Richard Shickman (signed)
4. Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country - Allan Richard Shickman (signed)
5. Gold Medal Murder - Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon
6. Vampire Beach 1 - Alex Duval
7. The Season of Risks - Susan Hubbard
8. The Six Rules of Maybe - Deb Caletti
9. The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory (second copy)

Many thanks goes to Brenda Pandos, Bonnie from Earthshaker Books, as well as Loretta and Michelle from Simon & Schuster for the books I received this week for review.

1. Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail - Paul Stutzman
2. Voices of Dragons - Carrie Vaughn
3. So Many Boys - Suzanne Young
4. Twice Bitten - Chloe Neill
5. Moon Sworn - Keri Arthur
6. Remember Me - Christopher Pike
7. The Ghost and the Goth - Stacey Kade
8. The Prophecy - Dawn Miller
9. Rogue Angel: Tribal Ways - Alex Archer
10. Kitty Goes to War - Carrie Vaughn

That is what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours?

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Castaways - Elin Hilderbrand

With rumors of infidelity straining Greg and Tess MacAvoy's marriage, the couple head out on their sailboat one early-summer day to celebrate their wedding anniversary, hoping the roughest waters are behind them. But in an accident off Nantucket, they mysteriously drown, leaving behind two small children as well as the three couples who have long been their closest friends. Tragedy brings to the surface long-simmering conflicts and emotions, and the MacAvoys' six grieving friends find themselves unprepared for the revelation of secret upon secret as they struggle to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess?
The Castaways probes the boundaries of friendship and forgiveness as it tells a page-turning story of passion, betrayal, and suspense, filled with the perfect details of summer island life that have made Elin Hilderbrand's novels beloved bestsellers.

Title: The Castaways
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Back Bay Books, Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 1, 2009. Paperback edition published June 8, 2010.
My Rating: 3/5

Tess and Greg are at the center of a close-knit group of friends. When they die unexpectedly in a boating accident, their friends are left to pick up the pieces and carry on with their lives. They leave behind two children, whom the group of friends has decided to raise. The three couples are left to deal with their grief in some sort of fashion, all the while uncovering secrets, betrayals, and the truth.
The characters were all well-developed. I enjoyed some more so than others. They all remember different memories throughout the book. We get to enjoy all of these flashbacks courtesy of the 6 remaining friends. The story deftly weaves a sense of mystery, and suspense throughout the book as certain secrets are revealed. The one thing I didn't find enjoyable, was the fact that these characters all seemed to pine after, or have illicit affairs with another member of the group. I found the plot dragged a bit. I would have enjoyed it more, had some of the characters reacted to the uncovered secrets. They seemed to show no emotion, and took everything in stride. The book also wraps up smoothly. Everything is accounted for, and explained fully.
It was interesting to see what actually did happen, though I wish that there had been more of a mystery to the novel.
All in all, this would be a good beach read. It isn't too heavy, but there is a lot of back and forth between the 6 remaining friends. Their voices are distinctive, and it was intriguing to see how the story unraveled.

Many thanks goes to Valerie from Hachette for sending this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Wear Your Hair Winners

Hi everyone. The giveaway for How to Wear Your Hair by Morgan Gantt has ended. The winners have been contacted, and the consultations are done.

Lori A.

Lori won a signed hard copy of the book, and she received a free consultation as well. This is what author Morgan Gantt had to say:

She has an oval face! She can wear NEARLY EVERY style BUT too much volume is NOT recommended and should be avoided – pictures of recommended hairstyles are attached – she will enjoy reading the “do’s and don’ts” in How to Wear Your Hair and can read the list of celebrity matches to her face shape to identify styles for the rest of her life!


Morgan won an E-copy of the book, as well as a free consultation. This is what author Morgan Gantt had to say:

She's an oval --- She can have any desired hairstyle but try to stay away from heavy bangs and styles that cover the face or have too much volume. She needs to choose her best feature to highlight, which I feel are her beautiful blue eyes, in her next cut! Along I attached a few styles....

Congratulations to both Lori and Morgan on their wins! :) If you would like to know what hair style best suits you, I recommend checking out How to Wear Your Hair.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Left Hand of God - Paul Hoffman

"Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie, for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary...."

In the Redeemer Sanctuary, the stronghold of a secretive sect of warrior monks, torture and death await the unsuccessful or disobedient. Raised by the Redeemers from early childhood like hundreds of other young captives, Thomas Cale has known only deprivation, punishment, and grueling training. He doesn't know that another world exists outside the fortress walls or even that secrets he can't imagine lurk behind the Sanctuary's many forbidden doorways. He doesn't know that his master Lord Bosco and the Sanctuary's Redeemers have been preparing for a holy war for centuries--a holy war that is now imminent. And Cale doesn't know that he's been noticed and quietly cultivated.

And then, Cale decides to open a door.

It's a door that leads to one of the Redeemers' darkest secrets and a choice that is really no choice at all: certain death or daring escape. Adrift in the wider world for the first time in his young life, Cale soon finds himself in Memphis, the capital of culture--and the den of Sin. It's there that Cale discovers his prodigious gift: violence. And he discovers that, after years of abuse at the hands of the Redeemers, his embittered heart is still capable of loving--and breaking.

But the Redeemers won't accept the defection of their special subject without a fight. As the clash of civilizations that has been looming for thousands of years draws near, a world where the faithful are as brutal as the sinful looks to young Cale to decide its fate.

Title: The Left Hand of God
Author: Paul Hoffman
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: June 15, 2010
My Rating: 4/5

The first words or feelings that come to mind when reading the first several pages of this book, are those of desolation, loneliness, and cruelty. Cale has not had an easy life, and nobody seems to care about him. He is only good for being trained in the art of war. He is not allowed to make friends, lest he be punished. He has been made an example of, many times, in his young life. Sadly, he can't even tell anyone how old he is, as he doesn't know. He thinks that he is either 14 or 15, but doesn't honestly know for sure, and he can't ask anyone because they either don't know, or don't care. This book definitely captured my interest.
I really enjoyed Cale's character. He is multi-faceted and although he has had a rough start to his life, he still has a lot of depth. He learns about foreign emotions that had previously been withheld from him. He never knew that there were other emotions or feelings that he could feel, and it is interesting to see him explore these emotions, and therefore learn more about himself.
I enjoyed the world-building, and thought it was quite well done. The only drawback that I really found, was that certain places, or names were mentioned. These names are not "fantasy" based, and are more "real world" based, so I found that quite distracting. However, other than that, the book was quite well done. It was a fast-paced, engaging read, and I can't wait to read the next installment.
All in all, a great read. It had some distracting qualities, but overall, it was a really good debut fantasy novel. It has the markers for being the start of an epic story.

Many thanks goes to Bronwyn from Penguin Canada for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fall Release Six Title Contest

Hello everyone. I have amazing contest news for you all! As a thank you to all of our followers and for our 300, 500, and 1000 follower milestones, Kari from A Good Addiction, Sandy from Pirate Penguin Reads, and I have teamed up to bring you guys another amazing contest full of hot fall release titles. Up for grabs to six different winners:

Rules and Details:

There will be six winners- one for each title. First place gets first pick and on down the line. There will also be additional winners for swag packs.

All books will be preordered finished copies through Book Depository. These are not ARCs and will not be shipped until release.

This is international as long as Book Depository delivers to your country.

Fill out this FORM to enter. Comments are welcome but you cannot enter through comments. The comment form is the same on all three blogs- please enter through only one blog. Multiple entries will be deleted.

Contest ends August 8, 2010 at 6 pm CST.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In My Mailbox -26-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.
For Review
1. The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory
2. Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog - Susannah Charleson

Many thanks goes to both Loretta and Michelle from Simon & Schuster, as well as Julie from FSB Media for the books I received for review.

1. Sea - Heidi R. King
2. Raised by Wolves - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
3. Forgive My Fins - Tera Lynn Childs

That is what I received in my "mailbox" this week, what did you get in yours?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Chosen One - Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much--if you don't count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle--who already has six wives--Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Title: The Chosen One
Genre: Young Adult, Polygamy
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
My Rating: 5/5

This is a haunting and gripping tale of a young girl, growing up in a polygamous sect. She has been promised to her sixty-year-old uncle and is in defiance of this arranged marriage. She has been secretly meeting another boy, Joshua, and has fallen in love with him. This book follows her struggles as she comes to terms with the lighter, and darker sides of her religion. She must make some difficult choices. Either way, she will lose something.
This is a poignant read and will resonate with readers for a long time after it has been finished. The lifestyle alone is something that many of us can't understand and don't agree with. For Kyra, all she knows is that you must be wed to a man, and he must have at least three wives. You must bear his children, and through your husband you will obtain heaven. Kyra has had to mature rapidly as she helps both her pregnant mother, and helps take care of all of her younger siblings. She barely has any time to herself, but she still manages to meet the Mobile Library, and borrow a book every week. If the Apostles found out, she would be punished severely as reading, other than reading the Bible, is forbidden. The current Prophet of the sect religiously has Days of Cleansing and will do anything on these days, including burning everything that could be deemed as sinful.
The characters were exceedingly well developed, and within pages it felt like I was immersed in Kyra's life. The hatred I felt for her uncle was astonishing. He is a terrible man, and it's hard to believe that he, and Kyra's father are brothers. Kyra's father gives us hope that there are decent men in the compound who treat their wives kindly, and do not treat them as objects. Meanwhile, her uncle has 6 wives, and wants a young girl to "break in" and "train". He is absolutely appalling.
We get to feel Kyra's love for her family, and her love for Joshua, and her abject horror at marrying a man well over 50 years her senior. Her situation is incredibly sad, and all too real.
All in all, this is a must read. It is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and intense in its portrayal. It will ravage you emotionally.

Monday, July 5, 2010

All the Way Home - Mary Suzanne Lopez


Deep in the rainforests of southwestern Costa Rica, amid the dazzling beauty of orchids and brightly plumed birds, are the lush banana plantations of legendary Coto Valley. Nearby jungles and swamps, teeming with malaria and yellow fever infected mosquitoes, host more than just the huge Coto alligator. Lurking in its leafy shadows are stealthy jaguars, five-foot long iguanas, boas that can swallow a small child whole, poisonous frogs and a staggering variety of venomous snakes, including the most deadly in all the Americas: the bushmaster and its cousin the fer-de-lance. You believe you'll be safe if you just stay within the screened walls of your house high on stilts. What you don't know is that locked inside with you is the most dangerous predator in all of Coto Valley... your new husband!

Title: All the Way Home
Genre: Adult Non-fiction, Memoir
Publisher: Yorkshire Publishing Group
Publication Date: November 3, 2008
My Rating: 4/5

This book starts off with the author first arriving in Golfito, Costa Rica. She had recently married, and was starting a new life in a foreign country with her new husband. She learned Spanish by the seat of her pants, and illustrates how hard it was to learn, and to communicate with those around her, knowing that there was a language barrier. The people of Costa Rica were quite welcoming, and slowly but surely, she adapted to their way of life. I really enjoyed the Spanish to English translations as it did show her struggle with the language. Especially when certain words were misused. It made for some interesting conversations. I also enjoyed learning about the lifestyle, the people, and hidden dangers that abound in that region of the world.
The book follows the life of author Mary Sue, or Maria, after her marriage to Roberto. She quickly came to realize that he was not the doting, and loving man that she had married. He had a horribly abusive side, and he often could be found assaulting her, or threatening to kill her. He enjoyed collecting guns, and left her with the fear that he would one day use one of his beloved guns on her. She raised three children while married to him, and this story chronicles their lives, as well as their eventual escape from him.
She frequently relayed memories from her past, which made reading interesting at times. The book jumped frequently from the past to the present, to the past again; however, we then learned about integral characters that were around her while she was growing up. The backstory helped accentuate the current state that she found herself in.
All in all, this is a heartbreaking read about her struggle to survive, and her willingness to fight for her children. Her faith became the one stable thing in her life. She had a lot of help from God, and some parishioners from the church she was attending at the time. They helped her escape with her children unscathed. It truly was a remarkable, and eye-opening read.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to Ryan from Yorkshire Publishing for sending me this copy to review.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In My Mailbox -25-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.

1. Prophecy of the Sisters - Michelle Zink
2. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
3. Blood Feud - Alyxandra Harvey
4. How to Ditch Your Fairy - Justine Larbalestier
5. 13 to Life - Shannon Delany
6. Sea Change - Aimee Friedman
7. Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep
8. Web of Lies - Jennifer Estep

I interviewed author Kersten Hamilton about her upcoming novel Tyger Tyger this week. You can find that post here. She also has a giveaway posted up on goodreads. That contest is linked in with her interview.

I still have both contests ongoing. How To Wear Your Hair Contest ends July 9th so please continue to get those pictures sent in. So far, only a few have entered. You can enter here.

The giveaway for Hate List by Jennifer Brown is set to end July 16th. You can read the interview with Jen, and enter the giveaway here.

I hope all of my American readers have a happy and memorable 4th of July today. Happy Independence Day! :)

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Spotlight On: Kersten Hamilton

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Kersten Hamilton about her upcoming novel, Tyger Tyger. I instantly fell in love with the story and characters, and am glad to hear that there is another couple of novels to come. I really enjoyed the premise of the book, and loved the incorporated mythology. My review can be found here. To find out more about Kersten, you can visit her website, which is located here.

LFW: How did you come up with the idea behind Tyger Tyger?

KH: I had been thinking about the goblin world for a very long time. I knew it was Celtic and scary but I wasn’t sure exactly what form the books would take. The exact instant of inspiration for writing Tyger Tyger came while I was reading Beastly by Alex Flinn. Beastly is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I thought it was so much fun that I decided to make my goblin world story a YA story as well. But the ideas, the mythology and characters were so big they really had to be at least a trilogy to work.

LFW: Was there any specific music that helped you while you were writing? (If so, do you have a 'playlist'?)

KH: I wish there was. I wish I could do that. I have something called dysgraphia: which means among other things, that my brain is not wired like other peoples brains. When I am reading or writing, I can’t really hear anything. This may mean that I am using the neural paths most people use for hearing for vision instead.
When I am not reading or writing, however, I do listen to music to catch a mood then carry it with me into my writing. I will often have ‘theme songs’ for my characters. For Thomas, a character you meet very briefly in Tyger Tyger, it is Viva la Vida by Coldplay.

LFW: How many books are you hoping to have in the series?

KH: I am thinking that Finn and Tea with have a three books story arc—a trilogy. But there may be more books ahead if people love them enough.

LFW: Who was (and is) your favorite character to write?

KH: I love almost all of my characters. I have to ‘crawl into the skin’ of each character in order to write a believable scene— so I make sure that they are people I would want to spend a lot of time with. I say almost because I do not love the bad guys. Not at all.

LFW: What does your family think of your writing?

KH: My husband, my children, my brother and my best friend are all very involved in my writing. They drive me crazy looking over my shoulder and asking if there are any new chapters they can read. In fact, Tyger Tyger might never have been finished if not for Certain People demanding to know what happened next!

LFW: What is your favourite sentence from the book?

KH: I like so many sentences in the book, I thought I'd just open up the ARC and pick the first one my eyes landed on. It was the first sentence of chapter ten: "Take your shirt off." Then I was laughing too hard to try again.

I think I'd better go with this one, which has changed slightly from the ARC copy: "Teagan," Aiden shouted, "come quick! Thomas is growing feathers!" Only that one's not so funny unless you've read the book...

LFW: What kind of tree would you describe yourself as, and why?

KH: An apple tree, and all my stories would be apples. I hope people enjoy their crunchy goodness, then keep the seeds from every story’s core until they find a perfect time and place to grow some stories of their own!

LFW: What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you?

KH: I’ll give the full story:
Author Terrorizes Neighborhood Mall!
Mall denizens fled screaming into the night when local author Kersten Hamilton lurched in.
“Her hair was standing straight up,” mall security guard and part-time ghoul-buster Yoshua Reece said. “And the blue ink smudges gave her a distinctly cadaverous look under the florescent lights. I was scared, I’ll admit it. Scared sh— spitless. Spitless. That’s it.”
Hamilton, who was wearing a pink Nike tennis shoe on her left foot and a white Adidas on her right, insisted that she was not part of the current zombie invasion.
“I’m not undead,” she explained. “Just behind on a deadline.”

LFW: If you could write a letter now to your '16 year old self', knowing what's in store, what would you say to yourself?

KH: Never give up. Being a writer is going to take longer and be harder than you can ever imagine, but don’t ever give up. You will learn something useful every single day.

LFW: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

KH: Yes! Thank you for interviewing me, Corrine! And, I’d like your readers to know that they can enter to win a signed copy of Tyger Tyger at goodreads:
Also, Meg Wilson has created a Tyger Tyger facebook fan page where you can find more interviews and reviews:

Thank you for stopping by Kersten! It's been a pleasure having you. It's been fun getting to know the author behind the book, especially learning that you have dysgraphia. It's a condition I've never heard of before, until now. You are definitely an inspiration as you don't let that stop you from writing! I hope that everyone loves Teagan, Finn, and Aiden as much as I did. This book was excellent, and I can't wait to read the next in the series! Look for Tyger Tyger to hit shelves mid-November 2010.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day!!

Happy Canada Day everyone!

I hope you're all having a great day today, enjoying the festivities and hope you will be taking in some fireworks tonight. We just had our parade go through town, and it was great to see the community come together. I can't believe the turnout today!

I'll leave you with this commercial "I am Canadian".

Hopefully I'll have some pictures up from the parade later this evening. In the meantime, have a great Canada Day!