Archive for August, 2011


Well folks, it’s the end of summer once again. How is that possible I ask you?!? But don’t get depressed ok?? There are still lots and lots of books that you still haven’t read yet. It’s important to look on the bright side right? 😉

So, here is a list of books you may not have read yet. All new to the library this month.

Enjoy! 🙂

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare   (Another book in this world. Come and get it!)

Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

Dark Moon by Steve Feasey

Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

Department 19 by Will Hill

The Duff, designated ugly fat friend by Kody Keplinger

August by Gabrielle Lord

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce   (Read about my love for Jackson Pearce here.)

Flawless by Sara Shepard

Heartless by Sara Shepard

Perfect by Sara Shepard

Chance to Dance For You by Gail Sobat

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

What it is about thieves? We certainly have a fascination about them that permeates western culture. Interestingly enough, what prompted me to do this book review this week was not the fact that I’d finished this book recently, but it was this news article about the Mona Lisa. This year marks the 100th anniversary of when the Mona Lisa was stolen. It is one of the more famous art thefts in history, but certainly not the only one.

But we’re not just intrigued by art thieves are we? No, we like the idea of people who steal anything. Case in point? Movies. We’ve got ‘To Catch a Thief’, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’, ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’, ‘Snatch’, ‘Ocean’s 11’, ‘The Italian Job’, and ‘Fast Five’. And those were just the ones that I thought of in the 15 seconds I sat in front of YouTube today. 😉

I doubt I’ll ever be able to answer the question … but I definitely fall into the category of people who loves the romanticized picture tv, movies and books paint of thieves. Real thieves… well not so much. But I don’t really have much worth stealing either… So I should be good!

Now it’s time for me to introduce to you a new thief on the block… star of this weeks’ book:

book cover for Hiest Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Summary:

Katarina Bishop is not like other girls. Her life thus far has been so far from ordinary most of us couldn’t manage to understand even if we tried. Katarina is a thief. A thief who comes from a very long line of thieves responsible for some of the most famous unsolved thefts in history.

But she’s had enough. Which is why she pulled the most elaborate con of her life to gain admission to the elite Colgan School. She figured it was the life she wanted, a normal life for a girl longing to be normal. She didn’t count on it being so boring.

But then, summoned to the headmaster’s office on totally false charges of theft and destruction of his prized Porsche, Katarina finds herself kicked out of Colgan, and immediately wrapped up again in the only world she’s ever known: the world of thieves. And no surprise, there’s danger and intrigue afoot.

Review:

So I must admit I did turn my nose up a wee bit when I saw that this book had been published by Disney. You know the folks responsible for Tinkerbell and this place:

The Castle at Disney

Them. They publish books. Oh good, because they needed another way to cash in on their movie and tv characters. *Head. Desk.*

But, as often happens when I’m being rather judgmental, I was proven wrong. This book was pretty darn good! I will take some points off, however, for it reading somewhat like a Disney movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with Disney movies really… I’ve seen many of them. Including (to my delight and shame) the HSM movies. But the book did feel a tad bit tidy and after school special at times… despite it’s appeal. I tend to like my books and my movies to be a bit messier. You know, like the original Degrassi?? No? Well I haven’t watched the new Degrassi, so I’m just going to assume they’ve stayed true to their roots there.

But I digress… hugely.

I really liked the characters in this book. All of them. Which is surprising, since I often find something I don’t like about at least one. But this was not the case with Kat and her friends. I also really enjoyed the idea of teens being able to pull off complex and challenging heists. It’s very true that you’re probably at your most daring while you’re a teen, so why not take advantage? (And no, I’m not telling you to go steal something for the thrill of it, so stop right there.) Clearly the number of teens with a heritage like Kat’s is as limited as the number of teens who have the funds available to her friend Hale, but that lends a sense of fun and unreality to the book that is great to escape with.

The plot moved well, and I liked how it was subdivided by location in the physical text. It broke the story into nice chunks, but wasn’t distracting and didn’t get in the way of the story. And who doesn’t love a good old fashioned story of kids pitting their wits against the evil adult villain. Now that I think about it, this book was also kinda like Scooby-Doo… but not at all in a bad way. 😉

Rating: 3 of 5 star rating

I give this book 3 stars. Like I said, I took off points for being a little too sweet at times. But I’m definitely going to recommend it as a light, fun, fast read about stealing things because it’s what you were born to do baby. 😉

How To Get This Book:

  1. book

Keep your eyes pealed for the sequel, Uncommon Criminals. It’s on order… I promise!!

Also of news about this book… it’s been optioned into a movie. IMDB says so. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, they’ve decided to age the characters into their 20’s… which I think is a stinker of an idea. Teens can too save the world… why doesn’t Hollywood get this???????????

🙂

I don’t like horror movies. I don’t like gory scenes, or things jumping out at you from dark corners, or knowing that something really really bad is going to happen just from what music is playing during a particular scene. I’ve seen some horror movies (generally not by choice :S), and forced myself to watch some of the classics just so I would get the pop-culture references. Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock was one. And even though it is in black and white and I knew the basic plot, it was still more than scary enough for me. Generally speaking, I keep my movie watching limited to comedies, dramas, or other movies that I figure won’t cause me to jump and scream or have to hide my face.

Unless of course, it’s a Harry Potter movie.

Then I just squint my eyes and flinch and pray that the scary scene doesn’t last too long. Mostly because I forget to breathe during them… and well I’d hate to pay over $9 for a movie and then pass out for part of it. 😉

So it is rather strange to me that some of my favourite movies feature the horror movie staple, Zombies.

Exhibit A:

Shaun of the Dead. Seriously, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost… they can do no wrong!

And Exhibit B:

Zombieland.

But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself this week. So I’ll let you read about this week’s book, and then I’ll explain why I’ve been rambling about horror movies, and zombies. 🙂

Here you go:

book cover of "Enclave" by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Summary:

“I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories. Nobody even lived to see forty in my world.”

Duce lives underground, in a small community of other holocaust survivors. Everyone here has a specific purpose and is expected to do their job to support the community. Well everyone over the age of 15 that is. If you’re under 15, you don’t even rate a name. But that’s because most ‘brats’ don’t live very long in the enclave… so why bother to give them a name?

Duce has finally reached her 15th birthday and along with her name has also been given a job as a hunter. Being a hunter is the dream she has had for as long as she can remember. But she is partnered with the only hunter who has ever survived life outside the enclave, and she doesn’t trust him at all. Something that could be fatal, given how dangerous the Freaks (fleshing-eating monsters that eat anything that moves in the tunnels) make hunting in the tunnels around the enclave. But Duce quickly comes to realize that her new partner may be the only one she can trust with her life, both in and outside their home.

Reivew:

So everyone and their dog seems to be jumping on the dystopian bandwagon. I’ve already reviewed three such titles, as I’m sure you remember. (Find them here, here & here if you need a refresher!) So when I pulled this book off the new book shelf and saw that it was ‘for fans of The Hunger Games’, I may have rolled my eyes. But, I liked the book cover, and decided to give it a try. And you know what, I’m glad I did.

It took me a little while to get fully into the book. I liked Duce, but our relationship started out slowly since we don’t have much in common. I have never lived underground, although I have lived in basement apartments for many years… and that is almost the same thing. 😉 Nor have I ever lived in a postapocalyptic world where one is limited to 3 job descriptions and only lives for a max of 40 years. Clearly my life experience hasn’t been very exciting. 🙂 But, slowly and surely, Duce grew on me.  She’s a fiesty character, and is very interesting to watch as she trys to make sense of the new world rapidly unfolding around her. It wasn’t until things really started falling apart for Duce and her fellow hunter Fade, though, that I really started to sit up and pay attention. Unfortunately, as far as I was concerned, the book ended just as things really started to get good. Thank goodness it’s a series!!

So like I’ve indicated with my tags, this book is pretty action packed. It moves along quite quickly, especially in the latter half of the book, and there isn’t an epic amount of time spent on describing the local flora and fauna (yes J.R.R. Tolkien I’m talking to you!). So if you’re a fan of the action, this is another good pick for you.

And finally… like you didn’t see this coming right???… the Freaks that I mention in the summary? They’re so much like Zombies it’s unreal. Flesh-eating, blood-lusting, ravenous Zombies. (Amazeballs!) I’m sorry, I know this is a bit of a spoiler, but seriously dudes it is such a selling point for the book, I had to mention it! I would not have rolled my eyes if the tag-line on the front of the book had said ‘for fans of The Hunger Games and Zombies’! I would have been all over this book so fast it’s head would have spun. Well had it had one that is. *Ahem* Anyhoo… so if you happen to like Zombies, I suggest that you pick this sucker up. And from how Ms. Aguirre leaves things at the end of this book, I feel confident in saying that you’re going to want to pick up the second book when it comes out in 2012 (beware the spoilers through the link!).

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

Enclave, you get 4 out of 5, and most of that is because of the Zombies. Not going to lie.

However, had I not already made up my mind to give it this rating, I might have made it 5 out of 5 after watching this rather impressive book trailer. This takes the Gone trailer and just blows it right out of the water! WIN. 🙂

Just FYI, I don’t remember the book being quite so charged with sexual tension… I think they’ve Hollywooded the trailer up a tad. Figures. But still awesomesauce right?? And who else thinks that the dude they have playing Fade looks a wee bit like Heath Ledger???

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook

Also, if you’re into Zombies and would like to see how they mesh with a work of classic literature, I suggest you pick up Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Oh book mash-ups, you make me so happy! *tear*

Finally, and this is not my find… all credit must go to my Zombie Apocalypse-Prepared boyfriend, there is this brilliant house. You may want to pick one up for the family … just in case. What a totally brilliant use of form and function. Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud. (Or not. I don’t know. I just know he was an architect. Sue me. :D)

Time for another Wayback Playback!

When I was a kid, probably grade 4 or 5, this author came and spoke to my class. This wasn’t super unusual… Robert Munsch had come to do a story-time when I was in grade 1. Which was as awesome as you’d think. Let’s take a break and listen to him tell one of my favourites shall we? 😉

So like I was saying… this local author came and did a presentation and signed copies of his books. I remember thinking it was pretty cool… but what I loved the most about it was that he told me that my name was one of his favourites because he had a daughter named Megan just like me. I had only ever met one Megan (or Meghan/Meagan/etc.) before, and she was WAY older than I was… so this was the highlight of my small existence. 🙂 This famous author guy had a daughter named Megan. How cool! 🙂

Flash forward many years… I’m in grade 12 English and I have that very same author as my English teacher. And let me just say, he was intense. Hardest teacher I’d probably ever had. Scared the living bajeezus out of me. That he had a daughter with same name as me really just didn’t seem to matter any more. But he was wicked smart. And I learned a lot. The whole class did. We learned so much, in fact, that the whole class begged him to stay on at the school (it was his last year teaching) to do our OAC class. (This was clearly back in the stone ages when we had 5 years of high school. It was better, even if it doesn’t sound like it… trust me.) Of course he refused (lame! Although he has published many more books since then… so I suppose it was worth it) and I went on to another ok teacher … who didn’t catch on to my shenanigans, didn’t push me to work harder and learn more than I wanted to, and gave me a 90 because I was smart.

Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘She’s complaining about a 90? Is she mental?’ And, ok, maybe it seems that way. But hopefully you’ll understand what I’m getting at. Hopefully you’ve had a teacher who has really pushed you beyond what you were comfortable with and helped you learn so very much about yourself and the subject they tought. This guy scared me into producing some of the best writing I had ever done. He made me think about why I felt certain ways about the books we read, and question those feelings. He did not accept my procrastinating ways, and if what I gave him was any less than the best work that I could do… well I’d just have to do it again now wouldn’t I?

And it’s completely thanks to him (and all the other teachers like him that I was so blessed to have) that I still love reading and writing and English as much as I do.

No, I didn’t have Mr. Mali as my teacher (although, how freaking cool would that have been!!), but I had this guy. Author of one of the best YA books around when I was a kid. Mr. William Bell.

book cover of "Five Days of the Ghost" by William Bell

or

new book cover of "Five Days of the Ghost" by William Bell

Five Days of the Ghost by William Bell

Summary:

Karen’s managed to survive grade 8 and just wants to spend her summer lying on the dock, swimming and soaking up the sun. But her older brother John has a different idea. He wants to start their summer vacation off with a bang by exploring the sacred Indian burial ground on an island in the middle of the lake. Karen isn’t big on scary things, but for some reason she goes along with her brother and his classmate Noah to explore the graveyard at night. This one simple trip plunges the three of them into an adventure they could never have imagined and helps Karen to finally deal with the hurt in her past.

Review:

This book is a good, quick read. It’s barely 200 pages and moves along really well, so you’ll never be bored. Mr Bell (I’ve never been able to kick the habit of calling him that…) does a fabulous job of creating cliffhanger ends for the chapters, which I have always found is the best trick an author has to stop someone from setting the book down and walking away. There are definitely spooky aspects to the tale, and a lot of history involved too. So if you like mysteries or history or both, you’ll probably like this book.

Another very cool thing is that this book is set in Orillia. For me, growing up in Orillia was good… but it wasn’t really the most happening place. But reading this story and learning about the local history really intrigued me. The other cool thing was that the places in this book are real places. Some of them don’t exist anymore (this book was first published in 1989 after all) but most of them do. The best part about the setting being local and realistic was that I could totally relate to where Karen, John and Noah lived, and that made it easier to see the world as they did. (BTW, I still think of the lit-up cross on top of the Catholic church as the bingo cross because of this book. You’ll get that when you read the book. Promise.)

I really enjoyed Karen, John and Noah as characters. Even re-reading this as an adult they still really rang true for me. I’m sure some of that is the residual fondness for them as characters I had already met in my past, but I don’t think that is the whole reason. They were complex and real and had feelings that made sense to me in the situations that they found themselves in.

All in all I’m very happy I revisited this book!

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars both for how well it has stood the test of time and for the awesome nostalgia factor. Oh and for how totally great a story it is! Can’t forget that can I!

I’m sure there are books that you read when you were little that still give you the warm-fuzzies when you see them in a bookstore or at the library… this book totally does that for me. So I want you to come and get this book so that you can have the same feeling when you’re old and decrepit like me. 😉 Humour me ok?

How to get this book:

  1. book

We’ve got other books by Mr. Bell in the library too. If you’re looking for more, I’d try Crabbe or Stones. Also be on the look-out for his newest book, the sequel to Stones: Fanatics. 🙂

I am a child of the 80’s. I even have a shirt to prove it.

t-shirt with Rainbow Bright image and "Made in the 80's" textIt’s not this one… but close enough. 😉

This means that certain things resonate with me that might not resonate with you, despite the resurgence of 80’s inspired fashion. For example: He-Man, She-Ra, Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Show, Cookie Monster before they made cookies a sometime food… really the list goes on and on. There are things that you really did just have to be there to appreciate. 80’s fashion would be one. I saw it once, I don’t need to see it again. And yes, I know I sound like my mother… but trust me, you’ll end up feeling this way some day too. And then I will come and do the told you so dance for you. Again. 😉

So I’m curious to see what you think of this week’s book. It resonated with me big time, but I want to know if that is because I was a teenager just like Jessica when Y2K happened and therefore this period in time feels homey to me.

So without further ado, here is this week’s offering:

image of book cover for 'Sloppy Firsts' by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Summary: Jessica has lost one of the most important people in her teenaged life to tragedy. No, Hope (her best friend in the world) didn’t die. But Hope’s brother did. Causing her parents to go INSANE and separate Hope and Jessica by moving really really far away. All that is left for them is to keep in touch through phone calls and emails, but that really just isn’t enough to help keep Jessica from going nuts. So she starts a diary in order to keep a handle on her lonely and crazy life. And does it ever get crazy. High school. Always surprising isn’t it?

Review:

I love, love, LOVED Jessica Darling. She felt totally real and relateable. Had Jessica been a real girl and gone to my high school, I totally would have been her super good friend… or hated her guts. Hard to say. And I know what you’re thinking: ‘What does she mean she would have been her friend or hated her??? This makes no sense!!’ And you’re right. But what does make sense in high school I ask you? From what I recall, nothing makes sense AT ALL!!

So using this logic, I would have found Jessica to be totally in sync with how I was feeling and what I was thinking about our peers or I would have found her to be Jessica Not-So-Darling at all. I would have wondered what the heck her problem was and why she was so darn mopey all the freaking time. (This is why you could not pay me to go back to high school btw. It was a time of vast extremes… and I’m good just revisiting that world through books and movies from time to time. Much less painful. :D)

Anyhoo, clearly I felt that Megan McCafferty did a bang-up job on this book. Hence the gushing. 😉 It’s written as emails and diary entries from Jessica to Hope … although along the way Jessica realizes that she’s put things in the journal she doesn’t want Hope to know about at all. There’s a boy that both repels and fascinates Jess, and then there are her ‘friends’… and I felt that all of these characters were very well written and believable. As was the plot.

Basically, it’s just a really great story about being in high school and all of the experiences and feelings that go along with that time in a person’s life.

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

This book totally deserves a 4 out of 5. Thank you Megan McCafferty for Jessica Darling… and for having the same first name as me. 🙂

How to get this book:

  1. e-book

This is the first book in Megan’s ‘Jessica Darling’ series. You’ve got access to the whole series through OverDrive… but I’ll link it up for you, just to make it easy. 🙂

And, just because I can, here are some links to my fav high school movies. 🙂 Let me know what I’ve missed and what your favourites are!

Man I like a lot of movies eh??  😉

Here is your monthly list of all the new books that arrived for the YA section in the month of July!

A&L Do Summer by Jan Blazanin

The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (but you already know that, because you’ve read this. Right?!?!?)

Switch by Tish Cohen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Solace of the Road by Sibohan Dowd

Soft Targets by Harry Edge

Bigfoot by Pascal Girard

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

July by Gabrielle Lord (Another Conspiracy 365 book)

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

The Master of the World by Dale Mettam

The Lost Continent by Anne Moore Odell

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison  (And for your info… another witty and informative review. You’re welcome. 😉  )

We All Fall Down: Living with addiction by Nic Sheff

Giving Up the Ghost by Sheri Sinykin

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (You remember this lady right???)

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel

The Fallen by Celia Thomson (Book 1 of the Nine Lives of Chloe King series!!!)

Blood Red Road by Moira Young