Monday, December 5, 2011

Moving Out!

That's right folks! My Ever Expanding Library  is moving and changing to something bigger and better over at WordPress. Mel from He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him?  and myself have decided to join forces. To this end, we have created The Novel Nation, a site we hope will be a great blend of our reading tastes, with awesome new content and more!

Make sure you stop on by to see what we have cooking!

Thank you for everyone's support at My Ever Expanding Library.  I look forward to more book chats in the future, at the new home base :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Survived NaNoWriMo....and lived to tell the tale!

So, my poor little blog has gone unattended for the last month, but it was for a good reason. I'm happy to report that I struggled, I drank tea like mad, I shed tears of 12 font print, and as a result, I got this:

I thought I would take a moment to share what I learned throughout this last grueling month with any of you out there that are considering joining in for NaNoWriMo next year:

1- Getting over your own fears is the biggest obstacle. It's great to have an idea in mind but overwhelming when it comes to putting that idea into words. The things is, when you sit down and actually start to type (or hand write, if you want to go old school), there are times when the words just flow right out. It is an awesome feeling. (There are also days that you look at your work, have no clue where to go next, and wonder wtf to do, but once you get beyond those, it's a total rush to see your 'novel' come to fruition.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog update

I've decided to put this up publicly and let you all know what I'll be up to for the next month. That's right, I'm NaNoWriMo'ing! And now that I've told you all, I can't possibly back out at the last minute...which would be right now. Anyway, I have a bunch of reviews that I hope to have up shortly but if you don't see me around for a while, this is why. I'm hoping, though, that NaNo will encourage me to write like crazy and I promise to update my progress. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On Location with Jennifer Hillier

There's another great event upcoming, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area. Jennifer Hillier, a Canadian author, will be launching her debut novel, Creep,  on November 7th. Check out the flyer below for more info:

To read more about Jennifer's work, check out her website here. She's already got a second book in the works and let me tell you, any book that has Jeffery Deaver telling you to lock your doors, sounds like a win to me! Hope you can make it out to the event.

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Harlequin

I'd been working on this series as part of a book club read on Goodreads and I will admit that each book gradually made the entire series grow on me. (My reviews of The Iron King, Winter's Passage and The Iron Daughter are linked here.) The idea of Iron Fairies and how they came about is a very cool concept, but it's the characters and their situations/battles that have steadily improved for me.

Going into The Iron Queen, it was initially with the thought that it would be the end of the series, then, of course, with the announcement of The Iron Knight coming out, it was uncertain whether much closure would come about. Truly, I had certain formulaic expectations of how this book would end. And, wow, I did not expect things to go the way they did (I even said this out loud as I was reading it.) Kudos to Julie Kagawa for surprising me (and going against the grain!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

In this emotionally powerful novel, three women face the age-old midlife question: If I’m halfway to death, is this all I’ve got to show for it? Holly, filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Andrea, a single mom and avowed celibate, watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband? Then there’s Marissa. She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts. As one woman’s marriage unravels, another one’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s is reconfigured into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all three of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness before it is through.

Available from Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Simon and Schuster Canada

When starting to discuss Ellen Hopkins, the first thought is about her writing style. While it is not new to the world at large, it was a new reading experience for me. Sure, it's in a poetic form, but she tells a narrative tale, even incorporating titles into the main stream of the story, giving the impression (and rightfully so) that constant care has been put into every line; every page.

One particular font is used in the telling of each woman's part until the point of view is about to change. At this precipice between character POV's, there would be a breakdown of sorts. Hopkins moves into a more abstract thought to sum up what she'd just written. I found this served an effective method to withdraw the reader, temporarily, from the intense emotions of each "chapter"; a carefully placed pause to allow the reader time to regroup. And, visually, with each turn of the page, you never knew what the next one would look like. This made for an artful, fascinating reading adventure.

Format and style aside, I was emotionally invested in the story from the very beginning, with her portrayal of a disgruntled wife, a mother with an ailing child, and a lonely single mother. Before page 50, I could barely bring myself to read Marissa's story (the mother with the sick child). The anticipation alone of what might happen in each of her "chapters" was enough to reduce me to tears. Considering the relatively small number of words used to this point, they were chosen and positioned so well as to offer the reader maximum impact....eliciting full on waterworks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday (1)

I have seen this post over at My words and pages, with Melissa participating frequently. It sounded like a great idea, so today I give it a shot!

The credit for the original idea goes to Dottie at Tink's Place. A picture is posted on Monday mornings to which you write a story of around 350 words, and link up on her blog on Friday. Simple enough, right? We'll see....

Here's this weeks picture and my virgin offering. Please feel free to critique honestly (but not cruelly ;):

Jonah swung his arm back, hesitating slightly. Then he pitched his arm forward, with all of the force he had, the line swinging out from the fishing rod in a near perfect arc.  He was usually a much more patient fisherman, but he had other things on his mind tonight.

He had arrived here a few hours ago, to the place he had found such comfort in as a child. Try as he might, he couldn’t wait until morning to get out on the water. The night was peaceful with only the call of the birds to detract from a feeling of total remoteness. The water was still; smooth like a sheet of perfectly made glass. What Jonah couldn’t figure out was why none of this was settling his sense of foreboding. So here he sat, hoping his favourite method of meditation would do the trick. Maybe he'd find a reasonable explanation to everything that was going on around him besides the obvious "you're losing your mind".

Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou's close friend and a Lancaster supporter - until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.

Available from Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Simon and Schuster Canada

It's no secret I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory's, though I'm still working on reading her backlist of books. The Lady of the Rivers  represented something new for me: a more complete look at a series (in this case, The Cousins's War).

Ms. Gregory is known for her portrayal of historical women, giving life to otherwise one dimensional historical facts. This is very much the case with Jacquetta. What is interesting though, is that all of the characters involved in the Cousins' War are given this same opportunity and, as such, you feel empathy for them all. But the stories throughout this time period are about picking sides. Ms. Gregory gives equal attention to each woman, making it hard to do that. Fortunately, which ever side we would choose today has little relevance to history.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Betsy Wickwire's Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant

Betsy’s life is officially over: Dumped by her boyfriend, betrayed by her best friend . . . how is she ever going to show her face again? 

Determined to avoid everyone and everything from her previous life, Betsy stumbles into an unusual cafĂ© and an even more unusual girl. Dolores Morris—a mouthy, green-haired outsider Betsy can’t quite remember from school—talks her into starting a cleaning service. Before she knows it, Betsy is down on her knees, dressed like a dust bunny, scrubbing strangers’ toilets. 

It’s a long way for the most popular girl in school to have fallen. But Betsy finds comfort in the wine bottles and prescriptions and other dirty secrets she finds hidden in her clients’ homes. She also finds love with a client’s son, friendship with Dolores and a liberated sense of herself. Her new life soon falls apart, though, when valuables begin to go missing from some of the homes she and Dolores have been cleaning. Betsy discovers the hard way that not all dirty secrets can just be swept under the rug.

Available from  Chapters, HarperCollins Canada,

Betsy Wickwire's story is a completely relatable one: having your heart broken in such an overwhelming manner has happened a million times over. And Betsy's ensuing desire to hide herself from the world....well,who hasn't wanted to do that at one time or another? It's these initial reactions to Vicki Grant's Betsy Wickwire's Dirty Secret  that had me hooked..

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink

With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way. 

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers.

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, HBG Canada, Author's Website

Circle of Fire is the last book in the Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy, and it was something I had long been waiting for. It is a strange thing though, when you have been anticipating a book like this for so long but when you begin to read, the realization hits that this is truly the end. Such was the case as I read through this book. Initially, I read at such a slow pace, I thought I would never finish! I couldn't keep it up for long, as I really needed to see how things would play out between Lia and Alice.

Part of my enjoyment with this series stemmed from familiar elements that I love built right into the story (standing stones, mystical worlds, etc.). There were also new places, new wonders to be discovered this time around. In Circle of Fire, we get to travel to Ireland, to a series of underground caverns (cairns) and see the ingenuity of people from long, long ago. I've said it before, I love learning about "real" things from fictional books. Thank you, Michelle Zink, for furthering my education!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

I'm not sure where to start talking about this book. You see, I started reading it on Friday night last week and reached 1/3 of the way through very quickly. At that point, I was still questioning whether I liked the story or not. Weird, right, that I wouldn't know one way or the other? Well, it's true.

By Saturday, when I delved into it again, I was better able to understand what it was that had me initially confused then, ultimately, enamored with Mara Dyer and Michelle Hodkin. The author has you in the present, then in the past. She has you in Mara's head, which is a touchy area considering her mental faculties are seriously in question. You never know what is real and what is imagined. It is this back and forth feel that keeps you mesmerized, waiting for final clarification of what exactly is happening to this poor, messed up girl. (And did I mention I finished this 450 page book on Saturday?)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Could you date a man with wings?

It's almost time for the release of the much anticipated third book featuring Nora and Patch, Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick. As the date draws closer, Simon and Schuster Canada has cooked up a few features to tide us over till then (including a link below to an awesome contest).

Nora and Patch have had a rocky go of things through the last two books, and in Silence we get to see how/if it will work out for them. Patch has the bad boy image down pat but he's also an angel, so there's a little (a lot of?) good in him too. Nora has touched the scars where his wings were attached, and if you look at the countdown widget to the right, you'll see a stunning black and white image of Patch in his full feathered regalia (the feathers do not deter from previously mentioned bad boy-ness, right?). So my big questions is this: Could you date a man with wings? The first step to finding out is heading over to the Facebook app here, uploading a picture of yourself, and seeing how great you look together :)

Hopefully, the contest, app, and countdown widget will help to while away the hours until more Patch is available to us all....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sneak Peek! The Iron Knight is coming soon....

I've been reading the Iron Fey books faithfully this year and with the ending to The Iron Queen still fresh in mind, I'm very anxious to read The Iron Knight! So, it gives me great pleasure to be able to share a wee clip on the book trailer here on my site (thanks to Larissa at Harlequin for allowing me to be part of this exclusive group!)

Without further ado, check it out here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBAW Interview Swap featuring Janicu's Book Blog

I want to give a big welcome to Janice, my BBAW interview swap partner. Janice and I struggled a bit over the questions to ask, striving for a certain level of originality/creativity, but I think what we came up with gives a great look at our blogs, plus a little bit about ourselves. So, without further ado, I present the blogger also known as Janicu:

1. Tell us about yourself and your blog. 
Hello. I'm Janice, although I go by Janicu on my blog (pronounced Janice-oo). My blog is Janicu's Book Blog, although I'm seriously considering renaming it.  I live in Westchester, NY with my husband and our naughty cat. I started my blog back in 2007.  It all started because I had a new years resolution to read 100 books, and since I have an awful memory, I wanted to keep track of the books I read.  I mostly review speculative fiction, often with a romantic slant (I love happy endings), but I also review young adult and romance too (my favorites of these are the contemporaries).
I usually work on my blog in my spare time (end of the day, weekends). Probably in a given week I can spend 10-20 hours reading and working on the blog. Even when it's a couple of reviews, that's a lot of time, but I enjoy it. It gets kind of cathartic to have my thoughts on a book worked out and posted, and I always have that mental list of books I need to write a review for. I don't really do memes, but that's more because I am not sure I could keep doing it consistently than because of anything against them. I really, really suck at book challenges and have yet to complete even one. On the other hand, I love readathons. :) The best thing of course is the other people. I am sure everyone says this, but it's true. Meeting other book bloggers (or just plain book nerds - recognizable because they are excited to see you holding a book they liked), it's like Meeting Your People.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua

Inspired by the tale of Cinderella, Lila DiPasqua weaves a steamy historical romance that offers a glass slipper, a dangerous deception, and an impoverished beauty determined to find her handsome prince…and make him pay. 

Born into wealth, Sabine Laurent and her twin sister lived a life of luxury, their father’s prestigious theater frequented by royalty and aristocracy alike. And Sabine dreamed of her own prince charming—the devastatingly handsome Jules de Moutier. 

That was before the loss of her sister and her family’s fall from grace—a disaster Sabine blames on the Moutier family. Now, with her father’s death, she’s inherited his sizable debt and the responsibility of caring for his spoiled long-time mistress and her two wastrel daughters. But with the help of Sabine’s eccentric friends—the balance of her father’s acting troupe—she plans to get very close to her old infatuation, seduce the rake—and make away with a fortune. 

Resisting Jules’s skillful mouth and tantalizing touch is not as easy as Sabine supposed. And soon she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince…

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters

I had heard great things about Lila DiPasqua's previous books: short stories based on fairy tales with a definite adult twist. So, when I heard about her latest release, I jumped at the chance to review it. It was also an added bonus to discover that she's a Canadian author; I really enjoy featuring "local" talent on my blog.

With the story being based on Cinderella, you know there will be a rags-to-riches feel about it. This story kind of went in reverse, with Sabine on the verge of losing everything dear to her. While Ms. DiPasqua kept many of the familiar elements of the original story within her version, I really enjoyed the spin she put on things like the glass slipper, the ugly stepsisters, etc. There were times that I almost missed the associations, only to think back and see how skillfully the author had inserted them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy. 

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning. 

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.
I want to preface my review with a little background information. I have heard great things about the Vampire Academy  series, so much so that I purchased all the books. But, I haven't read them yet. I went into reading Bloodlines, knowing that it was somehow related to the former series, but not knowing how much I would be missing out on because I haven't read them. Mel at He Followed Me Home recommended that I Wiki the series to get some of the details to help me with reading this. Of course, I didn't (she loves telling me "I told you so" when I don't listen to her advice ;). So, I read this book with no prior knowledge of the characters or Richelle Mead's world. I was hoping this would serve as an objective way of reading, to see if it would stand up to the test of a "stand alone" novel.

With the above disclaimer in mind, I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. There was enough world information to make the story flow smoothly and character description to sort of give a heads up on what had happened up till now. I liked that it features Sydney Sage, an alchemist, as the main character. It's funny, alchemists have been popping up in several of my recent reads, in one capacity or another. This makes me wonder if alchemy is the next big thing, as opposed to the formerly popular vampire/werewolf/fairy themes? (Though Bloodlines  does contain vampires with the alchemists working to prevent their exposure to the unknowing humans.) Alchemy, I think, has a flexible quality about it, giving a writer lots of room to work with  chemistry, and not just the idea of changing lead into gold.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with Tish Cohen, author of "Switch"

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Switch by Tish Cohen (you can read my review here). Ironically, the same week I finished reading the book, I ran into Tish at a book launch for Lesley Livingston...ok, I'll stop with the shameless name dropping now :) I stopped Tish while she was (probably) on her way to the Ladies' room, but she was gracious enough to chat with me for a little while. (I still find it a bit overwhelming how book blogging has started to make me feel a little less fan girlie ...though not by too much :-p )

In the meantime, I had interview questions out there in cyber space about Tish and her latest book. I have the answers here, so without any further preamble, please help me welcome Ms. Cohen today:

(Note: Switch released here in Canada on May 9th but will be releasing next week in other countries).

Jackie - Can you tell the readers a little of what we'll find in the pages of Switch?

Tish - Switch is all about learning to recognize what, in our lives, is good and valuable. Andrea Birch is having a rough time being the only biological daughter of parents who take in many foster children. Because Andrea's parents view her own troubles are seen as minor in comparison to those of her foster siblings, she wishes she could switch lives with a girl she perceives as much luckier.

J - On your website, you tell a poignant tale of the girl that inspired parts on Inside Out Girl.  Where did you find inspiration for the characters in Switch?

T- I read an article in London's Daily Mail about a woman who lived a life much like Andrea's--she grew up with 35 foster siblings. She inspired the character of Andrea.

J -  From The Prince and the Pauper to Freaky Friday, the idea of switching lives seems a recurring theme. Why do you think this notion appeals to so many people? 

Friday, August 12, 2011

2nd Blogoversary Celebration - Day 5 (and giveaway!)

Well, I bailed on the Day 4 celebrations yesterday. I was too busy schmoozing with Penguin Canada the night before which left me no time to prep. But, all is not lost! I will just incorporate my idea for that post into this, my final day to celebrate 2 great blogging years.

Yesterday, I wanted to offer my own Top 5 list. All of the previous days, I had great recommendations from some of my best blogging buddies. Without a doubt, most of those books (if not all) will be going on to my TBR list very soon. What I want to share are the Top 5 books I have on my shelves that I really want to read, but haven't yet had the chance to. Without further ado, here are my picks:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2nd Blogoversary Celebration - Day 3

It's day 3 of my anniversary celebration, and I have one last guest post to share. Today, Mel from He Followed Me Home has agreed to share her Top 5 YA books that I really should read (and she keeps telling me this all the time ;) but haven't yet. Mel, my best friend and book cohort, has been an integral part of my blogging success. I'm not sure I would have made it these last two years without her. It is fantastic to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to share the milestones, and to enjoy the love of reading overall. (Btw, Mel is still celebrating her 2nd blogoversary with an awesome giveaway here!) Thanks Mel! And take it away:

Congratulations on two blogging years Jackie!!! You are my go to person for the fun, quirky reads (and maybe now romance?) but you know I’m a bigger sucker for YA so here are my five YA recommendations for you:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2nd Blogoversary Celebration - Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of the week long celebration for my 2nd year blogging anniversary! I've gathered a few of my book loving friends this week to stop by and share with me their must know, the ones they are always telling me about but I just haven't been able to squeeze in yet?! Today, Melissa from My words and pages is here. Melissa and I have worked on a few book club reads together this year and we're always chatting about our mutual lack of time to read, lol. Today, she's going to share her version of the 5 Urban Fantasy reads I should read (when I finally have the time): 

Thank you for inviting me over to chat about Urban Fantasy must reads. :) I love sharing books with friends, and learning about so many new ones too! I worked on coming up with ONLY 5 Urban Fantasy reads, I think would be wonderful reads for you. And boy was this a tough one. There are so many great books out there. You have read many great sounding ones (which have been added to my TBR pile or WANT list) and there are so many great ones out there that neither of us have touched on yet. But, only 5 is a hard number. But I narrowed it down as best I could. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

2nd Blogoversary celebration!

This week marks two years here at My Ever Expanding Library! I'm very thrilled to actually be celebrating this year (cause I let it just slide on by last year.) I've cooked up some guest posts, an unveiling of a new blog layout later in the week, and maybe definitely a giveaway to come.... ;) So, stick around this week and see what's in store!

Two years is pretty momentous, considering there is actually a syndrome for those who don't last called "blogger burnout" (it sounds serious but it is not fatal by any means ;). It can be a lot of pressure at times, but I think the fun totally outweighs that. These last two years, though, have made me realize how much I've been missing in the reading world. To that effect, I've asked a few of my favourite book bloggers to share with me some books that they think I should read but just haven't been able to fit in (yet).

Today's guest is Caroline from The Secret HEA Society and one of my co-bloggers at The Book Lovers Inc. Caro has been significantly influential in some of my favourite reads over the last little while, so I totally trust her recommendations now. Here are her picks for the Top 5 HEA's that I really need to get to. Take it away, Caro!:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In My Mailbox - July 25 - August 7, 2011

I missed last week's IMM so I thought I'd post my books received over the last two weeks. Once again, I have lots to show. Now, I just really need the time to read them all. As always, IMM is hosted by The Story Siren, who's site can be reached by clicking on the image.

Here's what I've added to my reading list:

Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Dark Souls by Paula Morris

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nicole Reviews: Not Dead and Not For Sale: The Earthling Papers- A Memoir by Scott Weiland with David Ritz

Click here for the book description.

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Simon and Schuster Canada

Scott Weiland is my most favourite musical artist of all time.  When I found his book sitting on the biography table at Chapters, I knew that I had to have it.  My birthday was the next day, so I told my husband that this book was the one thing that I truly wanted.  As always, he came through- and now it has become one of the most cherished books on my book case.
To me, Scott and the band STP represent my youth.  I was introduced to their music over 15 years ago, and I was an instant fan.  Scott's lyrics are honest and deep, and the band's music is out of this world.  I fell in love with Scott right away.  I find it funny that now, in my thirties I still have my teenage crush on him.  I know that he has made many wrong choices and through the writings of this book, he is the first to admit them.

Scott's memoir is a brief overview.  It was a quick, raw and honest look into his life.  I wanted to see more depth, but understandably he was reserved, as his life has been plastered in the media.  I mean everything has been out on display for years.  That is what happens when you are a rock star, and find yourself deep in trouble.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One good reason to look forward to autumn....

The summer seems to be flying by, but Simon and Schuster Canada has given us a reason to look forward to the fall season: they have a sweeps starting today (Aug. 2, 2011) and running until August 31, 2011. There are 3 prizes packs up for grabs for you and your book club. Check out the great titles featured:

The Distant Hours / Kate Morton
Left Neglected / Lisa Genova
Wildflower Hill / Kimberley Freeman
The Memory Palace / Mira Bartok
The Red Queen / Philippa Gregory
A Mountain of Crumbs / Elena Gorokhova
The Hundred-Foot Journey / Richard C. Morais

Each prize pack includes 10 copies of the book you chose for your book club, with a grand prize including a cheese basket to share at your next meeting! Interested in entering? Just click the image above to be directed to the Sweeps page. Good luck!

(The Fall Sweeps are open to Canadian addresses only!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Have you ever...(4)

It was no joke when I named my blog "My Ever Expanding Library". I still have books from when I was ten years old! But the need to 'beautify' my library has been a more recent pursuit for me. I've felt a greater need to have all hardcover books, with matching heights and so on. This has caused a bit of an issue with all of the mismatches from my earlier reading days.

I have all of David Eddings' books. I initially bought them in paperback, when I first discovered them, then as new books were released, I purchased the hardcovers. So, last year I managed to pick up an anthology of The Belgariad series in hardcover that would look better on the shelf beside the rest of the books. Why is it, then, that I can't seem to part with my original paperback copies? Which brings me to ask you, my readers:

Have you ever: Bought a book that you already owned so you could have a set in the same format? (HC/PB) (and still kept the original book!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Return to sender? My "You've Got Mail" Critique

Last weekend, I had to chance to have a movie day with my nine year old daughter. We parked ourselves on the couch, for a serious do nothing day, and immediately found one of my favourite romcoms showing on TV: You've Got Mail. It's a weird thing, I own the movie but rarely pull it out to watch. Yet, every time it's on TV, I tune in. I love the Tom Hanks/ Meg Ryan conversations, in person and by e-mail. This time though, the movie showed me a side of Tom Hanks I hadn't really thought him capable of before: a near villain, of the bookish kind!

As a book lover with my finger on at least some of the book business (it's really amazing how much information an amateur can amass through Twitter, book blogging, and so on), watching this movie again from a newer perspective left me torn. How could Kathleen Kelly fall for the guy that made shooting noises, complete with finger guns, at the closing of another independent bookstore?!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox - July 18-24, 2011

In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren (click the image to go to her blog), is a great way to feature books we've received over the current week and share them with our readers. Here are the books I received this past week:

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
And an awesome mug from Harper Collins Canada :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Click here to read the book description:

Available at Amazon, Book Depository

From the outset, this third installment in The Mortal Instrument series is all action. I was glad to see the faster pace return, as I thought City of Ashes had started a little slower. But coming into this book, there were so many parts of the story that needed resolution, that jumping in head first kept me distracted enough to not dwell on the things that just weren't sitting well with me (Jace & Clary, specifically).

Jace, being the stubborn guy he is, sets off almost immediately to try to protect Clary from the battle that everyone knows is on the horizon. Seriously, though, he should have known better! And while this could have been aggravating for the reader, it helped to guide parts of the tale that became vital as it reached the climax. In saying this, its Clary's equally stubborn side that makes her end up in the lake, in an effort to join her friends  in Idris. Though the significance of this accident seemed quite obvious (to me, anyway), it was the character interactions thereafter that allowed for the story to take on many other dimensions.

We meet a lot of new people in City of Glass, as the battle plans are discussed and debated in Idris and this allowed for more intrigue in the story. The different factions that had been previously just barely mentioned, were in full view here, and the in-fighting added to the mounting tensions. Truly, through the three books, you were never sure which of the Shadowhunters were still in allegiance with Valentine and which were honestly opposed to him. In this sense, Clare keeps you on your toes; it is a terrible thing for these young people not knowing exactly who to trust at any given time. Then again, despite his crazy hair and flamboyant wardrobe, I'd trust Magnus any day :)

Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

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Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters, Scholastic Books Canada

I was nervous going into my reading of Forever, knowing that this would be the last book in the series. First, because it was a series that had grown on me, considerably, between Shiver (book one) and Linger (book two). Secondly, because I don't like endings! But I put on a brave face and dove in.

Having spent so much time away from the books since I had read Linger (a whole year), it was nice, early in the book, to have a reminder of why I've enjoyed this series so much. It is this: Stiefvater's writing takes on the essence of what is beloved in poetry; the tone mournful yet full of observation,. It makes the reading feel surreal; slightly mystical. For example: (pg. 71 of ARC) "Overhead, thunder rumbled, seemingly in advance of the storm cloud, which was cupping around the tops of the trees like a hand hiding a secret." I think this imagery is just stunning! But more than that is when these little bits of insight are revealed. It could pop up just after one of the characters had been discussing a mundane element of life, then bam! something beautiful and intuitive shows up. It always makes me wish I had realized it myself, but happy that someone else had, and found a way to share it with me (and all of the other readers).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nicole Reviews: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Click here for the book description.

Available at Amazon, Book Depository, Chapters

Generally when I pick a novel, I like to read ones that have a light and "fluffy" plot, with easy characters.  I like to escape into their fictional world.  So naturally when Jackie asked me to review FORBIDDEN, I was more than a bit hesitant.  I read the brief overview on the back (which I almost never do), and truthfully the thought of reading this book made my stomach turn.  Then I gave myself a shake, and thought that there is nothing wrong with reading something outside of my comfort zone.  I am sure glad that I did because the minute I started reading this book I was hooked.  I have one word to describe this book, and it is ... FANTASTIC!!!

    The author did a wonderful job connecting me with these characters and their world.  She made me feel as though I was witnessing their struggles first hand. I wanted to wrap my arms around each one of these kids and tell them that everything was going to be alright. 
"... I didn't take the photo from my room.  Perhaps Maya will remember it and keep it safe.  But I can't help hoping she'll cut off the two adults at either end of the bench and just keep the five children sandwiched in the middle.  Because ultimately, that was the family that we became." (pg.417  Lochan)

Review: City of Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Click here for the book description.
Available at Amazon, Book Depository

City of Ghosts is the third installment in Stacia Kane's Downside series and despite my desire to smack the main character, Chess, upside the head in the second book (Unholy Magic), I was more than willing to give her another chance to win back my heart.

Once again, the time frame isn't much beyond the previous book, and with that, all the fallout of Chess's actions and their effects on Terrible are still fresh . This for me was the biggest part of the story that I needed cleared up coming into City of Ghosts. Things are never that simple, though, and we have to allow for Kane's delivering the tale her way, to see if we're going to get what we want.

This story contained some new characters, Lauren, the Black Squad member that Chess has been asked to assist, and the strange man with all of the kids were major parts in the storyline. But it was the kids, the descriptions of their infirmities, how this could have happened that saddened and shocked me. Kane we true to form in her no holds barred way of story telling. As ever, the grit of the Downside world is evident in every element of the tale..
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