Sunday, 30 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Genre: YA, Social Issues, Child Abuse
Rating: R
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 2, 2008
Pages: 170
Source: Purchased Finished Copy
My Rating: 5*

[Goodreads | Amazon]

Synopsis

The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can't, you want to die, but you don't. You won't. You just are.

This is Alice.
She was taken by Ray five years ago.
She thought she knew how her story would end.
She was wrong.

Quotes

     The audience always boos and says You Should Have Done Something.  You should have fought back.  You should have known no one has that kind of power.  You should have been strong.
     You shouldn't have been so stupid.
     The women nod and sniffle.  They are still broken.  They still agree with everything anyone wants.  Even the ones who try to explain end up with their heads down, their hands in their laps.  Little girl ready to say she's sorry.
     All our fault, always.

My Thoughts

Let me start this review off by saying that I have a cast iron stomach.  I also have a pretty warped sense of humor and I am not usually bothered by things that would make most people spend the rest of their lives on a psychiatrist's couch.  Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott disturbed me so much that it actually made me physically ill.

I have read books about abuse and I have read books about child abuse.  None of the other books I have read have have communicated the utter devastation, degradation and hopelessness that is demonstrated in Living Dead Girl.  It's not enough to just say that Alice is a victim and to get glimpses of the abuse that she has and is suffering.

What makes this story so profoundly disturbing is the insight into both the minds of Alice and her captor/abuser/tormentor Ray.  To see that Alice knows that she is never going to get out of this, in the traditional sense of being rescued and going home, but rather that the only way out for her is death and to watch her accept and welcome this is absolutely horrifying.

All I have to say is thank the lord that this book was only 170 pages long.  I don't think I could have handled reading much more.

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About the Author
Hey there, I'm Elizabeth. I write young adult novels. I live just outside Washington DC with my husband and dog, and am unable to pass a bookstore without stopping and going inside.

All right, and I can't leave without buying at least one book.

Usually two. (Or more!)

Visit her website!
Saturday, 29 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: G
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Pages: 384
Source: ARC provided by Publisher
My Rating: 3*

[Goodreads | Amazon]

Synopsis

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

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

Quotes
     I wonder if some of that longing came through in my voice when I spoke of the painting, if Xander noticed and remembered.  Xander still plays the game in a subtle way.  This painting is one of his cards.  Now, when I see the painting or touch one of he newrose petals, I remember the way he felts so familiar and knew so much, and I ache for what I've had to let go.


My Thoughts

I really, really did not like Matched, but as a follow up Crossed was actually pretty decent.  I ended up  reading both books back to back so I was able to keep going with the story.  As a result, I really can't help but compare the two books.

I must say that I enjoyed the setting in Matched much more.  For me, having the characters leave the city for the Outer Provinces lends credibility to the whole Dystopian aspect.  I felt that it gave Crossed a sense of danger and excitement that I found was lacking in Matched.  There were so many plot twists that I found myself unable to predict what was going to happen next; something that I greatly enjoyed.

Once I got used to them, I loved the differing viewpoints.  In my opinion, it really helped keep the story from revealing itself too soon.  Plus it was really nice to get a look inside of Ky's mind.  I found his viewpoint to be very refreshing and almost pure in his feelings.  Plus, it was a bonus to have male characters, who while very different from one another, were not absolute morons.  It was so nice to just finally get some decent male love interests.  I am really tired of this whole trend in YA of girls always falling for the pining after the controlling jerk.  Kudos to Ally Condie for creating two different male characters in Xander and Ky who aren't actually jerks masquerading as the ideal choice.

I have to say, that now I am kind of bummed that I have to wait a whole year to find out just how this series ends.

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About the Author
Ally Condie is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel MATCHED. She is also a former high school English teacher who lives with her husband and three sons outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves reading, running, eating, and listening to her husband play guitar.

In My Mailbox #24: October 23 - 27, 2011 Edition!




In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren.

The purpose of the meme is to highlight books that you have received in your mailbox over the past week.  So let's see what I got in my mailbox this week!

I must say that I went on a pretty epic shopping spree with Evie from Bookish.  She thinks I am insane and I just may very well be because after that shopping trip and combined with books that were sent to me for review, I have 25 books for you this week.  Yes, I did say 25!

Alice in Wonderland and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics Series) by Lewis Carroll

[Goodreads | Amazon]


Everything that Lewis Carroll ever published in book form appears in this volume. In addition, at least ten of the shorter pieces have never appeared in print except in their original editions. Included are: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" "Through the Looking-Glass" "Sylvie and Bruno" "Sylvie and Bruno Concluded" "The Hunting of the Snark" & all of the poetry, essays, phantasmagoria along with a substantial collection of the miscellaneous writings.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories is part of Barnes & Noble's series of quality leatherbound volumes. Each title in the series presents a classic work in an attractively designed edition bound in genuine bonded leather, with beautiful illustrations and breathtaking endpapers. These books make elegant additions to any home library.

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So this one was not a planned purchase at all.  I was actually looking for another book and saw this one. Once I saw it I just had to have it.  The pink is really vibrant, not to mention the pages are edged in gold (and it has a built in bookmark).  It is going to look so awesome on my shelf.  It will look even better when I pick up the rest of the collection.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami


The long-awaited magnum opus from Haruki Murakami, in which this revered and bestselling author gives us his hypnotically addictive, mind-bending ode to George Orwell's 1984.

The year is 1984. Aomame is riding in a taxi on the expressway, in a hurry to carry out an assignment. Her work is not the kind that can be discussed in public. When they get tied up in traffic, the taxi driver suggests a bizarre 'proposal' to her. Having no other choice she agrees, but as a result of her actions she starts to feel as though she is gradually becoming detached from the real world. She has been on a top secret mission, and her next job leads her to encounter the superhuman founder of a religious cult. Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange disturbance that develops over a literary prize. While Aomame and Tengo impact on each other in various ways, at times by accident and at times intentionally, they come closer and closer to meeting. Eventually the two of them notice that they are indispensable to each other. Is it possible for them to ever meet in the real world?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is an absolute beast of a book at about 900 and something pages.  I must say, this is one of the best covers I have seen in a while.  The actual hardcover has the picture on the front.  The book then has a very thin dust jacket that almost looks like ricepaper, which then gives it a filmy overlay look.  Amazing marketing really!


The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman


In 70 CE, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on a mountain in the Judean desert, Masada. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic historical event, Hoffman weaves a spellbinding tale of four extraordinary, bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her twin grandsons, rendered mute by their own witness. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman, who finds passion with another soldier. Shirah is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege, as the Romans draw near. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been wanting to read this one for a while.  After hearing Indigo CEO Heather Reismann speak about it last week and reading Christa's review (you can find it here) I just knew I had to pick it up.  Plus I just love historical fiction and this is something outside of the normal time period that I read.



Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I finally broke down and picked this one up.  Fingers crossed that I actually like this one as I didn't enjoy the Mortal Instruments series at all.  I don't even think I got a quarter of the way through the first book.  I am really, really hoping I like this one!




Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer


When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I had been holding off on picking up Wolfsbane for a while.  I am pretty funny when it comes to my books.  I like them all to match.  I have Nightshade in paperback and I also have an ARC of Bloodrose (which is also in paperback).  I was hoping that this one would come out in paperback before I needed to read Bloodrose, but no dice.  I finally caved and now have another mis-matched set on my shelves :(



Ashfall by Mike Mullin


Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

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I originally got a copy of Ashfall by Mike Mullin months ago on NetGalley.  The formatting for the kindle version was so messed up I gave up reading the book half way through.  I have been eagerly waiting for this to come out so I could finish the book.  From what I have read so far, I really like this one.  Bonus, I only have like 1/2 the book to read.



Delirium by Lauren Oliver


Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.

I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.

I want to get it over with.

It’s hard to be patient.

It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.

Still, I worry.

They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.

The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So many people *cough* Angel *cough* Brenna *cough* Shannon *cough* couldn't believe it when I told them that I hadn't yet read Delirium.  I promised to pick up a copy and I did.  I tell you the most time I spent in the store was trying to decide if I should get the copy with the original cover or the Special Edition cover.  I ended up with the latter as when the second book comes out, the cover will be more along the lines of this one.  My set will match!




Bunheads by Sophie Flack


As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

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Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts


Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everyday people into hunters, killers, crazies.
Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong


Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can't find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students — for every grade from kindergarten to twelve. Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won't go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret — and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.



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I must say that I quite enjoyed the Darkest Powers series, so I finally broke down and purchased The Gathering.  Fingers crossed that it lives up to the hype!



Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer

[Goodreads | Amazon]

It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder. Smart, courageous, ambitious and sensuously beautiful, she possesses the charm to cause two of history's most famous leaders to fall in love with her. But as her cruel sisters plot to steal the throne, Cleopatra realizes there is only one person on whom she can rely--herself.

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Yes, I did purchase another book on Cleopatra.  I would purchase a book on something else to do with Ancient Egypt if someone wrote one!




In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood


In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is Margaret Atwood's account of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as "science fiction." This relationship has been lifelong, stretching from her days as a child reader in the 1940s, through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she worked on the Victorian ancestors of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer. This book brings together her three heretofore unpublished Ellmann Lectures on 2010 - "Flying Rabbits," which begins with Atwood's early rabbit superhero creations, and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; "Burning Bushes," which follows her into Victorian otherlands and beyond; and "Dire Cartographies," which investigates Utopias and Dystopias. In Other Worlds also reprints some of Atwood's key reviews of other practitioners of the form and thoughts about SF. She also elucidates the differences (as she sees them) between "science fiction" proper, and "speculative fiction," as well as "sword and sorcery/fantasy" and "slipstream fiction." For all readers who have loved the work of Margaret Atwood, especially The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood - not to mention Atwood's 100,000-plus Twitter followers - In Other Worlds is a must.

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This was one of the two books given to me in my Ninja Bag Swag from the Indigo Holiday Party.  Margaret Atwood is a Canadian icon and that is enough for me.  The fact that she can put our moron of a mayor in his place is just a bonus!




The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje


In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly "Cat's Table" with an eccentric and unforgettable group of grownups and two other boys. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys find themselves immersed in the worlds and stories of the adults around them. At night they spy on a shackled prisoner -- his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever.

Looking back from deep within adulthood, and gradually moving back and forth from the decks and holds of the ship to the years that follow the narrator unfolds a spellbinding and layered tale about the magical, often forbidden discoveries of childhood and the burdens of earned understanding, about a life-long journey that began unexpectedly with a sea voyage.

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This was the second book in my Ninja Bag Swag.  Michael Ondaatje is also another awesome Canadian author.  Plus, he is a Giller Prize Winner!




So Pretty It Hurts by Kate White


Bailey Weggins, the thirty-something, true crime journalist for Buzz, a leading celebrity magazine, needs a break. Plenty busy with her day job, her freelance work, and trying to get her first book noticed, she barely has time for her recently exclusive boyfriend, Beau Regan, much less herself. When Beau goes out of town, Bailey accepts an invitation with her friend Jesse to a music mogul's weekend house in upstate New York.

But, the relaxing weekend getaway turns out to be more like an Agatha Christie whodunit. A weird tension has infected all the guests—a glamorous crowd of journalists and models, including the famous, and famously thin, supermodel Devon Barr. An impending snowstorm only adds to the tension. When Devon’s cold, lifeless body is found in her bed, Bailey immediately suspects foul play: she can’t shake the memory of a fearful and angry Devon shivering in the woods outside the house, whispering , “I have to get out here . . . It’s not safe for me.”

When evidence goes missing from the crime scene, Bailey once again finds herself a moving target—running closer to the truth and farther from safety.

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This one was my Waiting on Wednesday pick sometime back in September.  I am so stoked to actually have an ARC of this one.  I can't wait to read it, but I am probably going to wait until the new year as the book doesn't come out until March 2012!



Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride


The gritty new standalone crime novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Shatter the Bones and Dark Blood Detective Constable Ash Henderson has a dark secret! Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front -- Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last. The tabloids call him The Birthday Boy. He's been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his homemade cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death. But Ash hasn't told anyone about Rebecca's birthday cards -- they all think she's just run away from home -- because if anyone finds out, he'll be taken off the investigation. And he's sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter's killer gets what he deserves!

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So I received an ARC of Stuart MacBride's upcoming book Birthday's for the Dead earlier this week at an event at the HarperCollins Canada HQ.  Stuart is flipping hysterical and if you ever have a chance to attend a reading or signing with him, do it!  I dragged Evie along with me and we had a blast.  We learned things that I probably shouldn't write here.  Let's just say it all had to do with ways to kill a person.



The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman


There's hope for the future, but what about the past?

It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.

In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.

These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.



The Bronze and the Brimstone  by Lory S. Kaufman


What could go wrong in the 14th-century
for three time-traveling teens?
How about – EVERYTHING!

Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention to the rich and powerful.

But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.

Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disasterous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.

Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.

Do they have a future in this past?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I received the above two books directly from the author.  I am part of the blog tour for the second one, so look out for that in December.  I already have a copy of the second book, so I may do a giveaway here on the blog.



Various Positions by Martha Schabas


Nuanced, fresh, and gorgeously well-written, Martha Schabas' extraordinary debut novel takes us inside the beauty and brutality of professional ballet, and the young women striving to make it in that world. Shy and introverted, and trapped between the hyper-sexualized world of her teenaged friends and her dysfunctional family, Georgia is only at ease when she's dancing. Fortunately, she's an unusually talented and promising dancer. When she is accepted into the notoriously exclusive Royal Ballet Academy--Canada's preeminent dance school--Georgia thinks she has made the perfect escape. In ballet, she finds the exhilarating control and power she lacks elsewhere in her life: physical, emotional and, increasingly, sexual.

This dynamic is nowhere more obvious than in Georgia's relationship with Artistic Director Roderick Allen. As Roderick singles her out as a star and subjects her to increasingly vicious training, Georgia obsesses about becoming his perfect student, disciplined and sexless. But a disturbing incident with a stranger on the subway, coupled with her dawning recognition of the truth of her parents' unhappy marriage, causes her to radically reassess her ideas about physical boundaries--a reassessment that threatens both Roderick's future at the academy and Georgia's ambitions as a ballerina.

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I have been dying to read this one.  I thought it was coming out in February 2012, but when I went to the bookstore it was out on the shelves.  Bonus is that is signed by the author!



Playground by 50 Cent


This poignant novel from international icon 50 Cent opens with thirteen-year-old Butterball in the office of a therapist named Liz. She is trying to get him to talk about why he assaulted his former best friend on the playground with a sock full of batteries. Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to, and he wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. Butterball’s dad is meaner to him than he likes to admit, and his mom is constantly working. Now Butterball is stuck in mandatory therapy sessions with Liz, who tries to uncover just what happened that day on the playground.

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Yep, you read that right.  50 Cent wrote a book, and I am in possession of it.  This is an ARC that I received from Evie.  She's flying back to BC on Saturday and has no more room for books in her luggage!  It looks like it's a fairly short book and I am kind of intrigued to see just what it's all about.




Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott


The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can't, you want to die, but you don't. You won't. You just are.

This is Alice.
She was taken by Ray five years ago.
She thought she knew how her story would end.
She was wrong.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sometimes my choices for books creep me out.  Nevertheless, Living Dead Girl has been on my wish list for a while now.




The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa


My name—my True Name—is Ashallayn'darkmyr Tallyn.
I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her.

My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yes, I bought it.  I now have a complete set.  Too bad I haven't even started reading them.  I am sure I will get to them at some point, but I more than likely won't review the series.




The Chosen One by 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. That is, without questioning it much—if you don’t count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret 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 Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.


Cemetery Girl by David Bell


Four years after Tom and Abby's 12-year-old daughter vanishes, she is found alive but strangely calm. When the teen refuses to testify against the man connected to her disappearance, Tom decides to investigate the traumatizing case on his own. Nothing can prepare him for what he is about to discover.




Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday


Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he's pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren't enough, now he's depending on Hartley to clear his name. Seriously? Not cool.

But as much as Hartley wouldn't mind seeing him squirm, she knows he's innocent, and she's the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school's resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer's next victim.


So that is it for my mailbox this week.  A big thanks to Evie and HarperCollins Canada for giving me some awesome books.  What did you get in your mailbox this week?


Bonus Pic of Evie finally realizing what I purchased!


Tuesday, 25 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

Author Interview: Trevor Shane - Children of Paranoia

So today I am joined by Trevor Shane, author of Children of Paranoia.  He has graciously agreed to allow me to interview him about his debut novel.  Children of Paranoia is published by Dutton Books and was released on September 8, 2011.


N: What inspired you to become a writer?

T: Ever since I was a very young kid, I’ve been a gluttonous reader and an uncontrollable daydreamer.  The daydreaming has simply always been an integral part of how my brain works.  Not only have I always daydreamed incessantly, but all of my daydreamers take on a very vivid and often complex narrative.  So I didn’t really need any inspiration to write; the stories were already in my head.  I simply needed inspiration to overcome the fear of the rejection that is inherent in being a writer.  The inspiration to overcome that fear came from three things that hit my almost simultaneously: (1) a sudden realization that I was getting older and that the time I’ve been allotted is finite; (2) a day job that I hated; and (3) a story that I felt like I had to share with the world.  Children of Paranoia just happens to be that story.


N: What was your favourite chapter (or part) of Children of Paranoia to write and why?

T: Not to give too much away but there is a scene in Children of Paranoia where Joseph, the main protagonist, is on an island during a moonless night and is running away from people who are clearly out to kill him.  He eventually reaches a dead end on a beach and realizes that the only way he might be able to escape is to try to hide from them in the churning, black ocean water.  If you’ve ever swam in the ocean at night (or, failing that, if you’ve ever seen the first scene of Jaws), you know who scary floating in waves in the dark can be.  I tried to take that fear even further by forcing Joseph to plunge himself down into the water to avoid being seen by his chasers, leaving him floating in a black abyss.  A lot of Children of Paranoia was fun to write, but that scene probably tops my list because it is so visceral.


N: Was it a conscious decision to make this a series and not a standalone book?

T: From the moment that I conceived of it, Children of Paranoia was always the first book in a trilogy.  When done right, I love trilogies.  The key to a good trilogy to me is to have each part of the trilogy have a natural beginning and ending and to have each part tell a complete story but to have the three parts work together in a way that makes each part even more satisfying than it would be on its own.  With Children of Paranoia, I also saw a unique opportunity to tell each of the three books from a different perspective and to have each of the three books focus on a different character.  While that may have been done before, it’s a new concept to me and something that I’m really excited about.


N: Is there a message that you want readers to take away after having read the book?

T: I’m a firm believer that you can’t dictate the message in your writing.  If you try, your work is going to be much less compelling and you’re not going to convince people of your message anyway (though I’ll admit there are a whole bunch of Ayn Rand fans out there who would seem to prove me wrong).  Essentially, I believe that, once you publish your work, you don’t own it anymore.  Once it’s out there, it belongs to the readers and it’s up to them to find their own message.  All I’ll say is that I hope Children of Paranoia makes people think and that they find something in it that makes them look at the world a little bit differently.


N: If you had to go back to the beginning and do it all over again, is there any aspect of Children of Paranoia that you would change?  Why or why not?

T: This is a tough question.  I’m pretty sure my answer will be different ten years from now, but I can’t think of anything that I’d change in the final product.  I’m immensely proud of Children of Paranoia and incredibly happy with the feedback that I’ve gotten (you can read a bunch of the reviews here).  So, I guess the real question is the “why not” part.  Getting your first novel published by a traditional publisher is still an immensely grinding process.  I finished the first draft of Children of Paranoia in 2008 and it didn’t get published until 2011.  When I finished it, it had a different title, was 30% longer than the final product and wasn’t nearly as good.  I got lucky though and got to work with a wonderful agent and a great team at Dutton, all of whom really loved the book and understood what I was trying to do with it (so I never had to fight them on the things that I considered important).  All of whom also had opinions on how to make Children of Paranoia better.  I really think that the things that needed to be changed in Children of Paranoia were changed through this process and I ended up with a book that’s way better than I ever dreamed it would be.  So, no, I wouldn’t change a thing in the finished product and hope that most readers agree.


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I would like to thank Trevor for stopping by and participating in the interview.  You can order a copy of his book here!


Be sure to connect with Trevor Shane online!






Review: Children of Paranoia by Trevor Shane



Title: Children of Paranoia
Author: Trevor Shane
Genre: Dystopian
Rating: PG
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 8, 2011
Pages: 384
Source: Finished Copy provided by the Publisher
My Rating: 4*

[Goodreads | Amazon]

Synopsis

ALL WARS HAVE RULES


Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders.

Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of eighteen.

BREAK THE RULES, BECOME THE TARGET

Since the age of eighteen, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn't fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides-one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.

Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he's one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he's sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his singleminded, bloody purpose fades away.

Before Maria, Joseph's only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world. As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the War...is leaving it.



You can read an excerpt here!

My Thoughts

I am not even going to lie.  The title of the book hooked me before I even read the synopsis.  Then I read the synopsis and knew I had to get a copy for myself.  I am so glad I did.

For me, while the book started off a bit slow, it still allowed me to dive into both the characters and the story.  Once the story gets going, it really gets going and before you know it you are kneed deep in suspense, drama, action and intrigue.  I think it's a real testament to Trevor Shane's ability as a writer to be able to craft a character like Joe, who to me is the ultimate anti-hero and the opposite of everything that you would typically look up, and yet you still want to see him succeed.

I love the contrast between Joe's darkness and Maria's light.  There is just something that is so moving to me about Joe having been a person of absolutes who then has his world turned upside down by Maria and her introduction into his life.  To watch their relationship unfold and to see the changes both characters go through was just amazing.  Knowing that this was the first book in a trilogy, I didn't think that we would get a chance to see such character depth and development in the first book, but I was wrong and I was pleasantly surprised.

All in all this was a fabulous book.  I absolutely devoured it roughly four hours and of course I am now left dying to know what happens next.  Trevor Shane has managed to create an absolutely wonderful and engaging debut that leaves readers wanting more.


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About the Author: Trevor Shane lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. This is his first novel, and the first in the trilogy.  Be sure to visit him online!

Website
Twitter
Trevor Shane on Facebook
Children of Paranoia on Facebook


Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour!
Sunday, 23 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

Indigo Holiday Party!


So back in August I had the opportunity to head over to the Chapters Indigo HQ to attend the unveiling of their new Fall Lifestyle Collection.  It was such a great event and I posted about it here.  Well, last week on October 18 I was once again given the chance to view another collection.

This time, I was invited to attend the unveiling of the Indigo Holiday Collection.  Once again, Chapters Indigo has absolutely outdone themselves, both in terms of the event and the products.  It even smelled like Christmas in the room.  This of course led to myself and Chandra from the IndigoTeenBlog trying to hunt down the smell.  I was unsuccessful, but Chandra came through. Apparently it was the Voluspa candles gift set that smelt like Christmas.  *I have already added them to my Christmas list*

The event included Celebrity Chef Mark McEwan who provided tasty eats from his new book Fabricca, Author Neil Pasricha telling us about some of his Awesome Holiday memories, Indigo CEO Heather Reismann telling us about some of her favourite books of the year, and prize giveaways.

Mark McEwan talking about his new book Fabricca



Makes such a beautiful entrance!


Notice the down slippers in the top of the picture.  Those come in at $36.00 but
so worth every penny!



Gifts for Baby!

I think that the thing that continues to surprise and impress me is the quality of the products being produced.  The products and the quality of them is comparable to something you would find in Pottery Barn or Pier1.  Indigo is really moving away from offering novelty items and really focusing on making your book shopping experience a complete one.  From what I saw at the preview event, I know where I am doing my Christmas Shopping this year.

People keep asking me how I get invited to these events.  For the Fall Party, I received the opportunity to attend through twitter.  For the Holiday Party, the opportunity was extended to me as I had been before and I am a rewards member with ChaptersIndigo.  It really does pay off to be a rewards member :)  At the end of the evening, we were all given some gift bags to take home.

Ninja Bag!


Ninja Bag Swag!

I have to give a huge thanks to Chapters Indigo for the opportunity to attend this wonderful event and preview their new Indigo Holiday Collection.

Saturday, 22 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

In My Mailbox #23: October 16 - 22, 2011 Edition!


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren

The purpose of the meme is to highlight books that you have received in your mailbox over the past week. So let’s see what I got in my mailbox this week!






A Midsummer's Nightmare - Kody Keplinger
Kiss of Night - Debbie Viguie
The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
If Jack's In Love - Stephen Wetta
Texas Gothic - Rosemary Clement-Moore
The Lady of the Rivers - Philippa Gregory

So that is my mailbox this week.  What's in your mailbox?



Tuesday, 18 October 2011 | By: Nicole @ Nicole About TOwn

Enter to Win a Library of Jodi Picoult's Books from Simon & Schuster Canada

Have you heard?  Simon & Schuster Canada is having an amazing contest right now.  You all have the chance to enter to win a collection of books from Jodi Picoult!

Jodi Picoult is an amazing author.  She has published numerous books about family, relationships and love that captivate readers all over the world.  I myself have read several with my absolute favourite being My Sister's Keeper.  Every book is different and every book is special and is a welcome addition to any booklover's collection.

Jodi's next book Lone Wolf will be released on February 28, 2012.  It sounds like a great book and it's already been added to my wishlist.  You can check out a synopsis for the book here.

The contest runs from October 18, 2011 - November 8, 2011 and is open to Canadian residents only.  For more information and to enter the contest for your chance to win, please click on the image below!



Good Luck!


* I leave you with a picture of my own collection of Jodi Picoult books.  There used to be more, but people keep borrowing them :)*