Tag Archive: compelling


When I was 12 my mom went to teachers college. She had to move to be able to go, which was odd for me to say the least. But it ended up giving me two things that directly relate to this book. Thing 1: experience ‘parenting’ a younger sibling. Thing 2: An awesome anthology of children’s literature. (I would love to be more specific about this book, but I’ve just spent the last 15 min scouring the house for it and I don’t know where it has gone. It was dark green and hardcover and about 2 or 3 inches thick… but where it has gone, I have no idea. This makes me le sad. 😦 )

So thing 1 was… interesting. Needless to say my sister and I have very different memories of that time. I remember having to get her up and fed and dressed and to school (no easy feat, which usually involved threats and tears from both of us)… tearing her away from Sailor Moon at lunch time… and making a lot of pasta. She remembers me being mean, me being mean, me pulling her hair when I would put it up, me being mean some more, and hating spaghetti for a long while after this year was over. I’d love to say that this brought us closer together right away and things were awesome between us once our Mom returned and restored the parental balance. But I would be lying. I was 12. She was 8. There were many more years of both of us being mean (probably more me though), not talking to each other, and tears to come. But fast forward to now? I think we are closer because of it, and also because we have stopped being so mean all the time. Dare I say it? Did we grow up?? *gasp* Who knew this day would come??? lol But this arc that our relationship took… I think it’s a lot like what the two sisters in this week’s book go through. Just with more sharp weapons. 😉

Now thing 2. Thing 2 was my favourite book for so long because of one thing. Roald Dahl’s poem about Little Red Riding Hood. Here’s a link to the full text, I highly recommend you read it. NOW. lol

No, seriously. Go now. I’ll wait.

Ok. So this poem totally tickled my fancy. I used it for auditions for school plays, recited it to strangers for funzies, and even used it in my Children’s Materials class last year at library school. I ❤ THIS POEM FOREVER. Understand? 😉 It’s totally twisted and different, and spins off from the original fairy tale that we are all familiar with in a delicious way. (Now that I think about it, it’s just as awesome as Lizzy’s Lion by Dennis Lee. If you can get your hands on that book, do. You won’t regret it.) And this is what I love very much about this week’s book. It is a brilliant reinterpretation of the Grimm Fairy Tale (and you already know how much I like those…) that works in the modern world and maintains all of the fabulous horror that those original tales were meant to incite.

And now, it is my great pleasure to share with you this week’s kick-ass book:

Book cover of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Summary:

Scarlett and Rosie March live very happily in the forest with their Grandmother. Until one day when a salesman comes to their door. This is no ordinary salesman. In fact there is nothing at all ordinary about him at all. He changes into a wolf, attacks and kills their Grandmother and Scarlett has to fight him to the death to protect herself and Rosie.

Left alone after the death of their neighbour, the woodsman who looked after them after the wolf attack, Scarlett and Rosie spend their time fighting the wolves who prey on young women. Scarlett is obsessed with ridding the world of these wolves, but Rosie wonders if there isn’t more to life than hunting down evil beings. Then Scarlett’s friend, Silas, returns from a trip out west and Rosie becomes sure that there is more to life than hunting. At the same time, they all notice that the wolves have increased in numbers and set out to hatch a plan to bring them all down.

But will their plan work? And will Scarlett let Rosie be more than the skilled hunter she herself has become? Or will they all die fighting the evil wolves?

Review:

Ok, so I just have to get this out of the way. As I was finishing this book I had an epiphany. And while you may not understand this until you read the book (do it!), you might still chuckle or LOL like I did. 🙂

Scarlett could be Batman.

Totally.

Like this:

Or this:

She would seriously just need sufficient start-up capital. Oh and an Alfred.

But then she would be Batman.

Ok, so aside from the Scarlett/Batman realization, what did I think of this book? Well I loved the heck right out of it. This sucker’s got something for everybody. Action, romance, mystery, intrigue, blood, guts, gore… and it’s really well written. Jackson Pearce has certainly moved on to my short-list for ‘Fav YA Author Discovered This Year’. Otherwise known as my FYAADTY list. 😉

Her characters are well fleshed out and definitely believeable. Like I mentioned in my preamble, I really related to Scarlett and Rosie. It’s not easy having a sibling, especially when you feel that you aren’t as good as they are or you feel that you are indebted to them.  Sibling relationships are complex, and the fact that Jackson Pearce can write a book from both perspectives and show them to be of equal merit and depth highlights her skill as a writer.

But it isn’t just her characters that shine in this book. Jackson Pearce put together one hell of an action-packed plot! This book was a total page turner, that sucked me in and only very reluctantly let go. You know you’ve got a good book on your hands when hours pass and you don’t even notice! The fight scenes in the book were very awesome too. I love the idea of two kick-butt girls taking on deadly wolves with only their training and blades to keep them safe. And I also really liked the fact that both Scarlett and Rosie didn’t leave the battles unscathed. There is nothing more insulting than a book or movie that tries to sell the idea that you can come out of a fight without a mark on you. I can barely walk around my house without slamming into something, let alone fight someone to the death (which I’ve never even come close to doing btw… but I’m using my imagination here!) and come through it all unscathed. I remember a pillow fight ending in a bloody nose, and a judo battle that ended up with me at the orthodontist and my sparring partner with shredded knuckles. Neither of my combatants in these two cases were demon wolves btw. 😉

And the last reason I loved this book is because of Silas. Dear, sweet, wonderful Silas. Silas, who knew enough to let the girls fight and not try to be macho and steal their power. I loved him for that, and for loving Scarlett and Rosie for who they were. Not going to lie, but if my boyfriend weren’t so awesome… I’d totally go and see if Jackson Pearce modeled him on a real guy. See if I could get his digits. 😉 lol

Rating: 5 of 5 star rating

I flipping loved this book. Devoured it hole. And now I am very impatiently waiting for Jackson Pearce’s next book to come in. Fingers crossed that it comes soon. 😀 There is always time in my life to curl up with an awesome fairy tale!

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook

I would just like to point out that Jackson Pearce has a YouTube channel. She’s also a pretty awesome puppeteer apparently. I think I’m in love. 😀

Advertisements

IT’S ALIVE!!!!! ALIVE!!!!!!!

One summer when I was a teenager I decided that I needed to read more ‘classics’. You know, those works of fiction that everyone harps on you to read, saying that they’ve stood the test of time and if you don’t read them you’ll be lost in your life forever. Blah, blah, blah. Amirite? Anyhoo, a lot of these classics you’re forced to read in high school… depending on where you go to school of course. My high school focused a lot on Canadian literature, which meant that most of the books I read were by authors I’d never heard of before but now know are some of the most highly regarded authors in Canada’s literary world. (Why some of them are on the list boggles my mind… yes W.O. Mitchell I’m talking to you, but hey, what do I know?)

Now the people reading this who are into classic literature are probably coming up with an extensive list in their head of what books I should have read during this summer. Chances are what I read will not be on that list. Unless they’re a classic novel enthusiast who happens to love monsters that is. No Grapes of Wrath, War and Peace, or Pride and Prejudice for me! (Although another summer saw me read the entire collected works of Jane Austen. A lady that I will love forever for giving us Mr Darcy!) Nope, I read the great monster classics, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Dracula by Bram Stoker. At this point I think I got distracted by other books, and that ended my run of ‘classics’, but these two books have always kept a special place in my heart. 🙂

So I credit this foray into the world of classic monster literature as part of the reason why I got SO INCREDIBLY CRAZY EXCITED when I read that this week’s book was coming out. So if you like monsters, or wonder what teenage boy goes on to create monsters… this is a book for you!

Let’s get to it shall we?

Book cover of 'This Dark Endeavour' by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Summary:

Victor Frankenstein has things pretty good. He along with his twin, Konrad, cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry have the run of a huge castle (Chateau Frankenstein, don’t you know), indulgent parents and hoards of servants who care for their every need. It’s not shocking that Victor’s a little bit spoiled and full of himself. Wouldn’t you be? Thankfully Victor has Konrad to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Until, suddenly, Konrad becomes deathly ill. Victor is desperate to save his twin and will stop at nothing to ensure that he will not lose the only person he loves as much as himself. But what this quest to save Konrad will ultimately lead Victor to do may change the course of his life forever.

Review:

So Kenneth Oppel is a pretty famous Canadian author. (Interesting tidbit about Mr. Oppel? He wrote his first novel at age 15. Sent it to his fav author, Roald Dahl, who passed it on to his own agent and, presto, it was published in 1985.) I haven’t read any of his other books before… so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Like I said before, I don’t always understand why some authors are held in such high esteem, and this has made me skeptical. But I was very very pleasantly surprised!

The characters in this book were so life-like for me. I really felt that Victor was a real guy, experiencing totally normal emotions given the fact that his twin was deathly ill. I also really liked the love/rivalry that defined so much of his relationship with Konrad. I don’t have a twin, but I can only imagine what it would be like to have someone in your life that was physically identical to you, but different in so many other ways. The best part of Victor for me was how easy Kenneth Oppel made it to understand the things that Victor was willing to do. In the hands of another author I feel that Victor could easily have become a character that you could not relate to, one that was a villian rather than the genuinely conflicted young man that he seemed to be.

The pacing of this story was excellent. You not only got to know what was going on in the character’s heads, were given sufficient backstory to make them and the whole tale feel genuine, but it moved like a runaway freight train! There was just enough down-time in the story to give your poor brain a rest, but never enough to make the it drag or become boring. The historical setting was also very interesting. I don’t know much about alchemy or the history of modern medicine, but I really enjoyed learning bits and pieces about it through the story. Inadvertent learning really is the best, I feel. 😉

Now, I know that my natural disposition is to want a sequel or series from any book that I like as much as I liked this one. This situation is no different. However, I could cope should there not be any other books about Victor Frankenstein forthcoming from the brilliant place that is Kenneth Oppel’s brain. This book is such a great standalone novel… it gives you lots of material to work with and although you would very much like to know what happens next, it is rather fun just imagining it for yourself. And I never think that. Ever. I always want my worlds to continue and my relationships to characters to last for more books than any author would ever want to write. So I think that either I’m coming down with something, or Kenneth Oppel has managed to do what I never thought possible. Create a world that I would like to explore in my own imagination without an author spoonfeeding me the story. It’s an odd feeling, but I like it. Kind of like the first bike ride without the training wheels… kind of freeing, but totally scary! 🙂 So I think you should get out there and take off your training wheels… see what you think about this awesomely fabulous addition to the classic monster story genre!

Rating: 4 of 5 star rating

I really liked this book! I was impressed with Kenneth Oppel’s ability to look beyond the classic story and imagine a world in which Victor Frankenstein became the man from Mary Shelley’s classic novel. I think this must have been very exciting to write, but I also imagine that he would have had some trepidation in adding to the story that is so well known and respected in western literature. But let’s see what he has to say about writing this book shall we? (Isn’t YouTube awesome?)

How to get this book:

  1. book
  2. e-audiobook

And now, here’s a clip from one of my favourite interpretations of the Frankenstein Monster tale: Young Frankenstein. Clearly not your traditional take on the story. 😉 But honestly people, dancing monsters? What’s not to love?!?!?

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. 🙂