Monday, September 10, 2012

Life gets in the way... again

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up that I'll be taking a break from posting as I leave on my honeymoon. I'm off to Paris and Rome, and will have little time for writing posts (let alone reading!) as I sightsee across France and Italy. I'll be back in action in October, in time to post on something scary. I've recently discovered Stephen King...

Anyway, have a fabulous September!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin

Once, Ansul was a light of reason and education on the Western Shore. But, for the past seventeen years, it's been occupied by the Alds of the western desert. They, believing that all writing is a sin and a form of devil-worship, destroyed Ansul's library and university. The occupied population has resorted to hiding their remaining books, often finding ways to bring them secretly to the house of Arcamand, where the old Waylord of Ansul resides. Memer is a resident of the house of Arcamand. Since she was a small child, she's had the secret ability to enter a hidden room in the house, and enjoyed nothing more than spending time with the books there. When the Waylord discovers her ability to enter the room, he begins to teach her to read and write, and to appreciate the written word in all its forms. But trouble is brewing in Ansul, and subterranean whispers for liberty break the surface when Orrec Caspro, the great poet and orator, arrives in Ansul, seeking the lost books of the old university.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Contest for word nerds

I'm on the board of the Editors' Association of Canada, BC branch (EAC-BC), and we are currently holding a contest on our Facebook page. Stop by for the chance to win one of the following:

  • a free 2012/2013 EAC-BC seminar
  • a $100 Amazon gift card
  • 2 EAC-BC prize packs

$100 to spend at Amazon will get you a lot of used books, or an e-reader. Perfect for us book nerds.

So, on behalf of EAC-BC, I urge you to share, share, share this contest with your network. As of today, there are only a few entries, so your chances to win are good! The contest closes Sept. 22, 2012 at 12am EST, and is open internationally.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen has returned home to District 12, after winning the Hunger Games with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Her life returns to normal, for the most part: she's living with her mother and sister, albeit in a big, fancy house in the Victor's Square; she hunts with Gale, although their relationship is newly awkward; and she doesn't see much of Peeta, and is not sure what to think of that. But as the Victor's Tour approaches, Katniss receives a terrifying visit from President Snow himself. He warns her that her feigned love for Peeta hasn't convinced the population of the districts, and that they now stand at the edge of revolt, emboldened by her own actions during the Hunger Games. She has to convince the people of the districts that she's truly in love with Peeta, or the people she does love will suffer the consequences.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Suggested book for August 2012

Cat's Eye
by Margaret Atwood

When a gallery in Toronto wants to do a retrospective of her work, Elaine Risley returns to the city of her youth and finds herself reliving important moments from her childhood and adolescence. She revisits her trio of childhood friends and their casual cruelties. She rediscovers her teenage years and the forces that help shape her into an artist. And she reexamines her first marriage and its implications on her present. Will what she learns free her from the ghosts of her past? Or will a part of her still remain prisoner?

I avoided reading Margaret Atwood for years because of all of the hype around her as "the best Canadian writer of our times." What if I didn't like her? Or worse, what if I really liked her and suddenly became compelled to spend my scant money on her complete works or start parroting lines from her books to my peers? Well, I'm afraid the worst happened. This book spoke to me. It moved me.  The politics of childhood stay with us all of our lives. Cat's Eye is a wonderful read because it's so vivid, and it reminds me that reminiscing on the simplicity of our childhoods can be misleading--everyday wasn't just running around on the playground and seeing your favourite teacher at school. Children can be cruel, even the kind ones. But you can't have the sour without the sweet in life, and I'd definitely categorize time spent reading this book as "sweet" time. You'll be happy to know, however, that I've kept my favourite lines to myself.

View my suggested books by Margaret Atwood

Friday, July 20, 2012

Suggested book for July 2012

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

At Tintagel castle, Morgaine spends her days in the company of her mother and aunt, until the fateful day her mother is introduced to the new king, Uther Pendragon. Their meeting ignites a conflict between Uther and Morgaine's father, Gorlois, than culminates in Gorlois's death and the conception of Morgaine's half-brother, Arthur Pendragon. Follow Morgaine and the other women of Camelot, as they discover the wonders of Avalon, the intrigues of a Christian court, and the atrocities of war.

I first picked up The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley because it had the word Avalon on the cover, and a lovely picture of a woman holding a sword. When I started reading, I discovered a version of Arthurian legend told through the eyes of its women. It's difficult to adequately describe the feeling I get when I read this book: I feel transported. This story takes the reader to a world that most people consider male-dominated, and shows readers the important, even magnificent, roles that women might have played. Of course, this is a fictitious story, and I don't actually believe that the ladies of Avalon had any kind of mystical power, or that Avalon even existed. But this story has a way of grabbing you, and like Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin, forcing you to see the integrity and import of women's lives, even when they're doing such mundane activities as carding wool, spinning, or sewing.

View my suggested books by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life events get in the way

For those of you who are wondering why I've been posting so sporadically lately, here's why: I'm getting married in a few weeks. Wedding planning has sucked up a great deal of my free time over the past months.

I hope to get back to posting on a more regular basis sometime in August.

However, I expect that while I'll be posting more often starting in August, it will probably be less often than I have been posting in the past; probably 3-4 times per month instead of 5 or 6.

C'est la vie.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Leviathan Wakes
by James S. A. Corey

Life has become very different in the Belt. It's gone beyond the oddly elongated bodies of the Belters and their tolerance to low gravity: in an abandoned ship, a new lifeform is growing. Jim Holden has to watch his friends and shipmates get nuked when they stumble too close to the secret; the fall-out of which is potential inter-planetary war. And Detective Miller is on the hunt for a missing Earther with important connections. Both are on a trajectory toward a gruesome discovery, but what will happen to human civilization when they arrive?

The book jacket describes Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey as a "kick-ass space opera." Now, I don't know what a space opera is; when I imagine it, I see fat aliens wearing pig-tailed wigs and viking helmets, and somehow I don't think that's what they're going for. So, after reading this book, I would say a space opera is genre-bending sci-fi, since this book is equal parts sci-fi and noir, with some horror thrown in.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Ever since the unsuccessful rebellion of the thirteen districts against Panem's government, tributes from each of the remaining twelve districts have been required to participate in the Hunger Games. Every year, one boy and one girl from each district are randomly selected to fight to the death in a carefully controlled environment. In the 174th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as the tribute in place of her sister Prim. Katniss travels to the Capitol with fellow tribute Peeta, to participate in a televised event that will undoubtedly claim both their lives.

I watched the film version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins first, and found it to be lacking in emotional tension. I was hoping for something a little more intense in the book. Unfortunately, that didn't pan out, but reading the book did help me better understand Katniss's character. What I took for a flat plot and lack of acting chops in the movie turns out to the result of a staggeringly rational and humourless protagonist. She's naive and confused for most of the book, but her thoughts are described so thoroughly that readers can't help but relate to her.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

What do you get when you combine an absent father, a narcicistic and manipulative mother, and an innate talent for photography? Mackensie Eliot, the staff photographer at Vows, a high-end, all-inclusive, wedding venue in Greenwich. Even though Mac is surrounded by marital bliss, she's never been able to master the long-term commitment. So, when a sexy schoolteacher harbouring an old crush enters her life, she's swept up by passion and romance more quickly than she could have anticipated. But is she equipped for real love, or will she let it slip through her fingers?

Well, I managed to hold out for 15+ years, but this past weekend I finally gave in and read a romance, Vision in White by Nora Roberts. And you know what? I liked it. I suppose I was expecting Harlequin, so the focus on all of Mac's personal relationships and not just her budding romance with Carter was a relief. I must admit the greatest draw for me personally was the wedding venue angle, since I will be experiencing matrimony myself in August.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Suggested book for June 2012

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

Ayla is little more than an infant when an earthquake destroys her home and claims her family. She wanders for days without food and shelter, eventually falling prey to a cave lion, who visciously slashes her leg. Wounded and alone, she's found on the brink of death by Iza, the medicine woman of the Clan. She adopts Ayla as a daughter and raises her to be a medicine woman of her line. But Ayla is different from the rest of the Clan, and there are some who never truly accept her. She must find the strength within herself to find her place in a confusing and dangerous world.

In The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel gives readers her unique perspective on the lives of neanderthals. By making the protagonist homo sapiens, it gives readers a comfortable lens through which to view this very different and yet very similar race of humans. Ayla herself is a highly likeable protagonist: she has plenty of gumption and curiosity, and the situations she gets herself into will keep you turning tha pages. Be warned however; while Auel's sweeping exposition on subjects like cultural evolution and ecology are interesting and informative, to some readers they grow repetitive by the end of the book (or in any subsequent readings).

This book is the first of her Earth's Children series. NB: In The Valley of Horses, the second book in the series, Auel's style morphs to include elements of the romance genre, including explicit love scenes.

View my suggested books by Jean M. Auel

Monday, May 28, 2012

Suggested Book for May 2012

Sabriel by Garth Nix

After finishing school in Northern Ancelstierre, Sabriel must leave the life she's known behind and enter the Old Kingdom to search for her missing father. The Old Kingdom may be the place of her birth, but it's strange and full of dangerous magic, and of course, the Dead. Charter magic-trained she may be, but Sabriel is unprepared for the trials that face a budding Abhorsen. Chased by powerful Dead creatures and armed only with the bells of a necromancer and the advice of a Free Magic cat, Sabriel journeys north to find her father and the source of a terrible new power that threatens Life.

Sabriel is the first book in the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix. It's high fantasy at its best, in my opinion. I always find myself immediately drawn into the enthralling world of Charter Magic, Free Magic, and Necromancy, unable to put the books down until I've finished the series (usually in a single weekend).

View my suggested books by Garth Nix

Monday, April 16, 2012

Twin-Bred by Karen A. Wyle

Mara Cadell is a human scientist on Tofarn. Like every other human, the Tofa, Tofarn's indigenous inhabitants, are a mystery to her. But it's become clear that humans and Tofa are on the path towards conflict if a way of communicating and mediating disputes isn't found. She begins the LEVI project, named after her long-dead twin (who she has kept alive in her mind), in attempt to forge a bridge between species. Human and tofa children will share a uterus and be raised together, in an attempt to create mutual understanding.

Twin-Bred has an interesting premise, but that's where my appreciation of the story ends. Each chapter opens with a snippet of one of Mara's reports on the LEVI project, but Karen A. Wyle may as well have written the whole book in report-form for all the excitement it engenders in readers. The book is written in such a flat, clinical way that I was unable get excited about anything that happened. I was praying for war just so some suspense would be created.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Battle of the Labyrinth
by Rick Riordan

It's the day before Percy leaves for Camp and he's already being attacked by monster-cheerleaders. He fights them off and escapes with the help of Rachel Elizabeth Dare, a mortal who can see through the Mist. Annabeth's not happy about their new friendship, and gives Percy the cold shoulder when they get to Camp. He doesn't have much time to ponder her response before he, Annabeth, Grover, and Tyson are sent on a quest to find Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth, before Luke and his cronies do. An attack on Camp Half-blood by Kronos's army is imminent, and finding Daedalus may be the only way to save it. But Annabeth has been given a secret prophecy, and refuses to share it in its entirety. All Percy knows is that the last line rhymes with breath, and he's pretty sure its not "meth."

Thursday, April 05, 2012

When the Morning Comes
by Cindy Woodsmall

Hannah Lapp has left her Old Order Amish community and ex-fiance behind to live in the Englischer world with her aunt Zabeth. She finds the difference in culture, the moral ambiguity, and the complex demands of her new world distressing, but tries her best to cope. She finds a new friend in Zabeth's quasi-son Martin, and develops a protectiveness for Martin's nephew and niece. Meanwhile, back in Owl's Perch, Paul Waddell, Hannah's ex-fiance, is waiting for her to come home. Sarah, her sister, suffers a mental break, and Mary, her best friend, gets married against doctor's orders. Will Hannah be able to stay away when she learns what's happening back home?

When the Morning Comes is the second book in the Sisters of the Quilt series by Cindy Woodsmall. The first book in the series, When the Heart Cries, was my book club's pick for March, and I liked it enough that I decided to finish the series and find out what happens to Hannah. Until we read Heart Cries, I had no idea that the Amish romance sub-genre even existed. I was half-expecting rushed couplings in the hayloft, or lusty beaus tearing off prayer kapps and aprons in fits of passion. Instead, what I discovered was melodrama, and When the Morning Comes is a continuation of the dramatic events of the first book.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Life takes another turn for the worse for Percy during a run-in with a manticore. The manticore's target is two young demigods, and during the battle, he reveals some disturbing new information about Kronos's growing army. The hunters of Artemis turn up just in time to save Percy, Grover, and Thalia, but Annabeth disappears with the retreating manticore, and the heroes are forced to return to Camp Half-blood without her. A quest is quickly dispatched to find Artemis, who's gone awol since the manticore battle (Annabeth is presumed dead). Rejected from the quest team, Percy trails them in secret, hoping to find Annabeth on the way. It becomes progressively clearer that Artemis is in the West, and that her disappearance is tied to Kronos's gathering army and its new General.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Suggested book for April 2012

The First Adventure 
by Tamora Pierce

Alanna of Trebond wants to be a knight. But, her father intends to send her to the convent to learn to be a lady and wife. With the help of the village healing woman and her man-at-arms, Alanna trades places with her twin brother: he will travel to the convent and study sorcery, while she will go the castle as "Alan" and train to be a knight. In the first book of Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, readers will discover a spellhinding adventure where mystery, magic, and chivalry meet.

Along with The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, I can credit this book with setting me on the path to lifelong reading. Reading about Alanna not only captivated my interest, but helped me appreciate from a young age that the difference between men and women, both in their abilities and the activities they enjoy, is negligible. 

View my suggested books by Tamora Pierce

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Strange Flesh by Michael Olson

Heartache and a passion for hacking have comprised James Pryce's post-college years. Unsurprisingly, when he's offered the chance to work for his lost love, Blythe Randall, James quickly takes the job. She and her brother, Blake, need his cyber-spy services to track down their wily half-brother, Billy, who's sworn to destroy Blake, and has the cash to back up his threats. James's investigation launches him from a lifestyle of casual sex with strangers into a virtual reality of deviant sexual behaviour. But his involvement in this online world of depravity and his cover as a video journalist start to bleed into his real life when he becomes involved in a project to develop virtual reality sex toys. By the time he realizes the truth, it may be too late for him to escape his carnal new reality.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Limit of Vision by Linda Nagata

In the not-too-near future, nanotechnologist Virgil Copeland and his team are on the frontier of AI development. They've created a near-microscopic new species called LOVs, because "they exist at the limit of human vision." LOVs form a symbiotic link with their human host's brain. Because of this link and the potential power LOVs have over their hosts, they have been deemed unsafe and banished to a ship orbiting earth. But Virgil's team have rescued some LOVs from their exile, and using themselves as hosts, study the effects. The book opens as Virgil's team's misconduct is detected after a team member dies inexplicably. Her connection to the LOVs is blamed, and Virgil ends up on the run. Meanwhile, the LOVs in orbit, fearing for their survival, separate themselves from the rest of the ship and fall to earth, landing off the Vietnamese coast. Ela Suvanatat, a freelance journalist, dives to investigate the crash site, not knowing the political and martial whirlwind her actions will unleash.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Promise by Monica Hughes

Rania is looking forward to her tenth birthday. As the princess she receives many wonderful gifts, and one puzzling one: she is sent a box of sand from Roshan. Her parents explain that she has been claimed by Sandwriter, and must go to the desert of Roshan to be her apprentice. Unwillingly, she leaves her country and her family behind, and begins her new life with Sandwriter. She learns to understand the desert and her connection with it, but as years pass, Rania becomes lonely. But life as Sandwriter will always be lonely; if Rania can't learn to cope, will she be able to become the next Sandwriter?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Against All Things Ending
by Stephen R. Donaldson

Against All Things Ending opens as Linden Avery realizes that she's doomed the Land. At the close of the previous book, Fatal Revenant, she brings Thomas Covenant back to life and thereby awakens the Worm of World's End. Linden and her companions (giants, Ramen, a Stonedownor, Haruchai, and a madman) are forced to accept the aid of an Insequent named the Harrow, who takes them deep beneath Mount Thunder to save Linden's son Jeremiah, and thereby perhaps stop the Worm.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Suggested book for March 2012

 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

Genre: science fiction

Satire, space adventure, and randomness abound in this spry tale. Arthur Dent narrowly avoids extinction along with the rest of the human race when he's whisked off-planet by his friend Ford, who coincidentally is an alien. After narrowly escaping the bureaucratic Vogons, Arthur runs into the only other remaining human in the galaxy: Trisha McMillan, who never called him after they met at a costume party. Did I mention they're on the galaxy's most amazing spaceship, which moves in an incredibly improbable way? Enjoy your space travels, friends. Just remember to bring your towel.

View my suggested books by Douglas Adams

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Sea of Monsters
by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson returns to Camp Half-blood after narrowly escaping some cannibal giants. His second summer is shaping up to be as exciting as his first, since the magical barrier protecting Camp Half-blood from all the monsters of the mythological world has been badly damaged. Not to mention the fact that Chiron has been replaced as camp director by Tantalus, a doomed soul from Tartarus who seems to have it in for Percy. To top it all off, Percy starts dreaming that Grover has been kidnapped by a cyclops who has matrimonial leanings. Teamed up with Annabeth and the newest member of Camp Half-blood, Tyson, Percy has a lot to get done in a short time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Dance with Dragons
by George R. R. Martin

The ongoing battle of the many houses of Westeros to hold the Iron Throne continues in A Dance with Dragons. This book focusses on the stories of Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen, with a smattering of other characters' storylines woven in towards the end. Jon Snow is busy mustering forces to defend the Wall against the white walkers. He's forced to balance the interests of the Night's Watch with those of Stannis Baratheon and the wildlings. Tyrion is in exile, caught up in mingled grief, guilt, and pleasure over the death of his father. He makes strange allies on his journey towards Daenarys Targaryen. She, meanwhile, is fighting to keep the peace in Meereen, as the Sons of the Harpy terrorize her freedmen. She's also faced with containing the growing strength and ferocity of her dragons.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Caldarian Conflict
by Mike Kalmbach

 When his duties lead him to console a condemned pirate, Brother Mendell begins investigating a series of odd occurences within the Caldarian navy. He learns that the navy is recruiting dying and homeless men for suicide missions, and not all the sailors are aware they're leaving on their final voyage. Mendell is faced with a dangerous conundrum: help save the lawless pirates or aid the navy in murder.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Son of Neptune
by Rick Riordan

In this sequel to The Lost Hero, Percy Jackson finds himself battling his way to California, to join the Roman demigods at Camp Jupiter. Like Jason Grace in the preceding book, Percy has amnesia, but he quickly finds acceptance among the Roman legions at Camp Jupiter. He, a young daughter of Pluto, Hazel Levesque, and a son of Mars, Frank Zhang, realize that Gaea is waking and poses a terrible threat to the demigods and all humanity. They are assigned a quest to travel to Alaska to free Death and return the legion's lost eagle. Along the way, they'll each have to battle their own personal demons as they fight not only to save Camp Jupiter, but to find redemption.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Suggested book for February 2012

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Genre: young adult fantasy

February is the month of love. So, fittingly, I have selected a romanticky book for my suggestion. My recollection of this book is fuzzy, because I read it once when I was 14 or 15. But it really made an impression on me, because whenever I try to think of books that I've read in the past, this is almost always the one I think of first. I'm honestly a little afraid to try reading it again, just in case it's terrible now.

What I remember is this: teenage girl's mother is sick, teenage girl falls in love with sexy vampire boy (I KNOW, but this was written way before Twilight), vampire boy and teenage girl try to defeat evil vampire threat... you get the picture. I won't tell you the ending :P

I remember feeling a tenderness for this book; it's a melancholy, delicate romance. I hope you enjoy reading it at least as much as I do reminiscing about it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blood Red Ochre by Kevin Major

This is a guest post
by Carol Tulpar
Blood Red Ochre is a gripping story that moves forward with a sense of urgency and mystery. When Nancy appears in David’s small town high school class, he feels attracted to her. They have been asked to write an essay about the vanished Beothuk, a group of aboriginal people who once occupied the island of Newfoundland, including the fictitious town of Marten, near St. John’s, where their school is located.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Human Technology
by Erik Rodgers

Adam is a first generation clone with prescient abilities getting by on a crap job as a zone guard. It's up to him to stop fellow clones from "zone jumping" and trying to contact their identical models in other areas. After a newly-developed clone with the ability to move through time is kidnapped by a radical sect called Gertrude's Gardeners, Adam is recruited by the government to help get her back.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My interview at On Fiction Writing

If you want to meet my editing alter-ego, hop over to On Fiction Writing, an online magazine and resource for indie writers. I recently had a chat with one of their editors about working with a freelance editor and surviving in the current publishing climate. You can find the article here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lisa's Way by Robert Collins

When Earth's colony planets start fighting amongst themselves, the portals that connect them are closed. Generations later, Lisa Herbert finds herself wondering why they couldn't be opened again, and trade between the colonies re-introduced. She reactivates the local portal and decides to travel to the colony planets with the intention of sharing the knowledge she's gained from the books in the town library.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Lisa's Way book trailer

I'm currently reading Lisa's Way by Robert Collins, a young adult sci-fi novel.

To get you excited for my review (which I hope to have out by the end of the month) I've dug up the book trailer from You Tube.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Suggested book for January 2012

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Genre: fantasy

Well, it's 2012. You've got the whole year ahead of you to fill with fabulous and intriguing new books, so why not invest your time in a good series?

It's the first book in the Wheel of Time series, which is an astounding thirteen books long at this point. Robert Jordan died in 2007, sadly, leaving fans of the series in the lurch, afraid that their beloved series would never be completed. However, Jordan arranged for the remaining three books to be written by Brandon Sanderson, based on Jordan's extensive notes. Sanderson has completed two of the three books, and the finale is expected to be released in late 2012 or early 2013.

Rand and his closest friends Mat, Perrin, and Egwene are forced to flee for their lives when Trollocs attack their village. Leaving their families behind, they set out for Tar Valon for answers, in the company of an Aes Sedai and her warder. However, Rand, Mat, and Perrin are dogged by strange and terrible dreams, which singles one of them out for a future too terrible to imagine.

The Wheel of Time series is not for readers who like a straightforward, linear plot. Over the course of the series, Jordan introduces hundreds of characters and plotlines, weaving them together so ingeniously the reader has little trouble keeping track of them all. This series has it all: adventure, romance, humour, action, and loss. It's a nuanced tale whose themes can be read on many different levels simultaneously. If you're in the market for an engrossing saga, I urge you to try The Eye of the World.

View my suggested books by Robert Jordan