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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth
by Cecil Castellucci

“We are specks. Pieces of dust in this universe. Big nothings.

“I know what I am.”

Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Yet loving the world — or, at least, an idea of the world.

Then he meets Hooper. Who says he’s from another planet. And may be going home very soon. (goodreads.com)

One week from tomorrow, I will be joining a handful of other Montreal Book Bloggers for breakfast with Cecil Castellucci. It’s going to be a sort of book club, type event, hosted by Scholastic Canada and I am so excited to be included on the guest list. Cecil is a Montreal author and has a writing style that really clicks with me. I will of course blog about next week’s event and let you know more about how I came to discover Cecil’s books!

Scholastic has made sure those of us who will be attending received a copy of Cecil Castellucci’s newest novel – First Day on Earth. For some reason I thought this book was going to be Middle Grade, I guess because it’s short (150 pages) and I don’t know… something in my brain was stuck on that.

This book is definitely not MG at all. I was actually shocked from the first page by the language used in the books. This shock was ONLY because my head said “MG” while the words my eyes were seeing clearly said “YA, yo!” As I turned each page and read this story from the YA point of view, I wasn’t shocked anymore. I was content. The dialogue and language in this book is very real. There are swear words and slang for body parts and it’s like reading something that was actually transcribed from a real teenage conversation.

The thing I loved most about this book was the short chapters. Some chapters were only one sentence. I LOVED that. I love books like that. Something about it just connects with me so deeply. It’s dark and it’s raw and it’s just so poignant. Those chapters, to me, were the most passionate. They made me think of the Ellen Hopkins novel I read late in the summer. They are poetic and strong.

I like the element of Science Fiction that’s mixed into this novel. Without it, First Day on Earth would just be a regular ol’ contemporary novel (though, one I would have enjoyed even though I am not a huge contemp fan). The alien theme doesn’t over power the story or Mal’s character, even though this is pretty much what the book is about. The Sci-Fi element is there as a sort of companion to the contemporary element. There’s a balance that I found very easy to read.

Mal’s friends are also well described so they feel like solid characters more than just secondary ones. You can truly understand their motivation throughout their actions. I liked them a whole bunch.

I did have to re-read the last chapter a few times in order to understand what it meant. This isn’t a bad thing about the book, this is me just wanting to make sure I was understanding it properly. I think I’m interpreting it correctly, but I could be wrong. I am looking forward to discussing this with the others next Sunday! I feel a little silly not getting it the first read and concerned I didn’t get it after the third. But then again, I’m cute, not smart. heh

This is the first and only book I have ever received from Scholastic Canada and I am very pleased that it was such a fantastic one. So, thank you very, very much!

Dark Souls

Dark Souls: A Novel
by Paula Morris

Welcome to York, England.

Mist lingers in the streets.

Narrow buildings cast long shadows.

This is the most haunted city in the world. . . .

Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won’t run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city. . . .

Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York’s hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy — one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York’s haunted souls?

Soon, Miranda realizes that something dangerous — and deadly — is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery — and find redemption. (goodreads.com)

People! Did you know this isn’t a sequel to Ruined? Well, I didn’t! When I received a copy of this book at the Montreal Book Blogger meet-up, I went out and ordered Ruined because I thought it was a sequel. Turns out I didn’t have to (although since Ruined) had been on my wishlist for a while I am still happy I did!) It’s the book covers that fool you!

This ghost story takes place in York, England, which is a much different animal that New Orleans. I wasn’t quite as captivated by the atmosphere in Dark Souls as I was with Ruined. The story reads the same way though, more like a flash back to YA from the 80s and early 90s. I was thinking of the revamped Nancy Drew Files that came out in the early 90s while reading this book. I liked that a lot about both books. I wasn’t worried about stupid love triangles or pining over boys to get in the way, although this time around there was slightly more pining for Nick than I would have liked. Not that I know much about Miranda, but I felt like her actions while in York for a week were very out of character for her and that bothered me.

I know I keep saying this, but I honestly really enjoyed the old-school ghost mystery feel about the story. If Paula Morris writes more stories like this I will certainly read them! The only reason these books are likely classified as paranormal is because they deal with ghosts, which is what paranormal meant to me when I was growing up. Now paranormal is a new way of classifying urban fantasy for teens. This is the former – the ghost story mystery story. Think Scooby-Doo and gang! (only with real ghosts and not Mr. Jenkins from Down the Road in a costume.)

I also like that the character in these books have normal, every day names. What is with YA these days that the names of the characters have to be so ridiculous and strange? It’s like soap opera names times a billion. Miranda, Nick, Rob.. all normal names. I like that, it makes the stories sound a little more real.

Although I liked Ruined more than Dark Souls,  I found both books to be nice, light paranormal mysteries. I also still think I should have read them in October, but either way, enjoyable all the same!

Want to Go Private?

Want to Go Private?
by Sarah Darer Littman

Abby and Luke chat online. They’ve never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn’t she care? Everyone tells her to “make an effort,” but why can’t she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she’s losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she’s his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn’t who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again. (goodreads.com)

WARNING!! If you are as prudish and squirmish about sexual content as I am, please note that this book will make you feel very shaky and disturbed.

I had to put this book down a couple of times before I reached Part II of it because I felt sick. I knew this was going to be a heavy-hitter but I wasn’t expecting quite the explicit storytelling that falls within these pages. Even now, as I write this, my breath is still choppy and my hands are shaking. This book is disturbing in many ways and although I want to shout from the rooftops that it was a great book, it feels wrong to do so.

My first introduction to Sarah Darer Littman’s works was when I read Purge which I picked up in the TAC in May 2010. It took me a long time to read that book because I was thinking it would be too much of an emotional roller coaster for me. I extremely enjoyed Purge and so I was quite interested in reading Want to Go Private  because it was an issue that I don’t think has been tackled before in literature AND because Littman’s writing is so real and true.

I wasn’t expecting to be as shaken as I am now when I started reading it. The chat scenes between Abby and Luke completely creeped me out. It started earlier than it might have for others because I was just WAITING for the creep-factor to kick in because I went in knowing Luck was the predator. (I am no good with anticipation!!) But once the online sexy times started I was freaked out and had to close the book, put it down and walk away. After drinking half a bottle of water in one gulp, I went back to the book, hands starting to shake to read more.

The joke around my family, friends and coworkers is that no one can be as prudish as I am about things. I don’t get most dirty jokes and I blush furiously over any sort of innuendo. I should have thought this book would have been a little much for me, but at the same time my brain was telling me “Go on, read it! I’m sure it’s harmless and just hinted at.”

It is not. Graphic graphicyness galore.

But not for the sake of being graphic. It is just an honest to goodness truthful depiction of what can happen without mincing words. I feel that if you stuck Sarah Darer Littman in the world of Divergent by Veronica Roth, she’d be the poster child for Candor’s faction.

This is a hard hitting, intense journey through the life of an innocent victim of an online predator and although it sort of seems like it happens very fast, I don’t think I could have read much longer.

Parts II and III of the story focus more on the different points of view of Abby’s sister and friends. I really liked this about the book because it softens the creep factor that Part I threw at me and it was a nice touch to get a feel for how others react during the investigation. I was shocked at first by the change in direction as I was certain we’d be following Abby and Luke in the car, but I was so thankful for the sharp exit from the highway of ICK! to the more gentle backstreets of Everyone Else’s Reactions.

Even though I think I will have nightmares tonight and I can’t get some of the scenes from the book out of my head right now, I am very happy that I read this book and I am extremely happy that Sarah Darer Littman wrote it. These things happen in life and how will teens and adults get through traumas without knowing there are people out there who understand. This book might resonate completely with someone out there who needs it. Sort of like myself and books on depression and suicide. I wish I had books like that to read when I was younger. I take solace from them now even though that part of me is long ago. You never truly get over traumas but you can take what you experienced and help make yourself a stronger person. I hope that this book helps someone who needs it and helps them heal.

In My Mailbox #47 – The Montreal Book Blogger Meet Up Edition!

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

People! Did you know that there are more than just a handful of book blogger in the Montreal area? Well! What started out as an innocent request to meet up with the 3 book bloggers I knew other than myself, escalated into a facebook group with 15 people! We decided to get together and discuss what we’d like to see in the Book community in Montreal and we had a great time! Almost all of us were in attendance, sadly two people couldn’t make it, but still, a group of 13 people, all with books in a restaurant is a sight to see. Even our awesome waiter was impressed with us. 😉

Photo by pk

Front row L-R: pk @ aisle b, Cindy @ Cindy’s Love of Books, ME!, Lisa @ Starmetal Oak Book Blog

Back Row L-R: Avis @ She Reads and Reads, Amanda @ Tales and Treats, Melissa @ YA Book Shelf, Jennifer @ Mrs Q: Book Addict, Cindy B. @ Tynga’s Reviews, Lucy @ Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf (who made the cutest name tags!), Donna @ Book Bound, Laura @ Library of Clean Reads, Tina @ Bookshipper (who happily ran the goup and kept things in order! Thanks, Tina!!)

Our awesome waiter took a multitude of photos for us in the end, he was really great!

In honour of our little get together some publishers sent a bunch of goodies to Tina for us. I’d like to send out a huge thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada, Harper Collins Canada, Random House Canada and Scholastic Canada (see a theme there?) In the photo above we’re showing off our various spoils, be them from the pubs or from fellow bloggers who did book trades.

Please take a moment to check out our Facebook page (which we plan to keep updated with the various bookish events happening in and around Montreal) and our website for more information!

Lucy made some really sweet name tags, and I think we all loved them to pieces!

You did a really great job, Lucy! Thanks so much!

If you didn’t feel like checking out the video here’s a recap of what I got this week:

From Simon & Schuster Canada for review (surprise!):

From the Montreal Book Blogger Meet Up from amazingly sweet publishers:

  • Dark Souls – Paula Morris (Scholastic Canada)
  • Want to Go Private? – Sarah Darer Littman
  • a ton of nifty swag like bookmarks, lip gloss, post cards and paper dolls!

Bought while shopping with Tynga, Lucy & Melissa:

I realize that pretty much all I got was YA, and that’s not all I read, but those are the books that caught my eye the most! I have bunch of books on order from Book Depository.com and they should arrive in a week or so, I am so excited! (for example, I bought Ruined by Paula Morris since Dark Souls is its sequel. 😉

Again, I’d like to thank the publishers for their support and generosity as well as my fellow Montreal-area bloggers who helped make this day possible!

And just as a note – I killed the macbook I was using, so I had to use Windows Movie Maker – which I HATE! to edit this stupid video made with my camera.  The files were huge, of course and I had to scrunch it down to get it to a size tha YouTube would even consider, so I don’t think the quality is all that fantab. My apologies… I don’t think the mac will make it, as I dropped water on it and it won’t even turn on now. We’re going to take it in to see if it can be repaired, so until then I have a hardly-working computer to use at home and I am doing most of my web surfing through my iPhone. Blech.