Thursday, March 29, 2012

AUTHOR EVENT: Evening with Gurjinder Basran, author of Everything Was Goodbye (RECAP)

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an invite-only author event at Penguin Canada HQ.

The event was organized to celebrate the release of Everything Was Good-Bye by Gurjinder Basran, and it was organized by Penguin Canada and Chatelaine (Book Club).

After meeting up with Michele from Just A Lil' Lost, Wendy from A Cupcake and a Latte, Angel from Mermaid Visions, Christa from Hooked on Books and Andrea from Cozy Up With a Good Read at Chapters Indigo and chatting a bit (while standing in a very suspicious section *glares at Angel*), we header over to Penguin Canada HQ where we joined Nicole from Nicole About Town and Jenn from Lost In a Great Book.

A variety of delicious snacks, fruits and cheese was served, which the guests could enjoy over a glass of wine. We made ourselves comfortable and waited for the event to begin.

The piles of gorgeous-looking copies of Everything Was Good-Bye were very tempting and distracting! Thankfully, Gurjinder Basran didn't keep us waiting and, after a short welcoming speech from her publisher, the event kicked-off!

Gurjinder was absolutely amazing! After saying "hi" to us and thanking everyone for coming, she read a passage from her book (which was entirely compelling and made me want to start reading Everything Was Good-Bye ASAP). After the reading, we enjoyed the book chat (book club-style). Gurjinder was happy to answer all our questions, and she did it in the most graceful and humorous way! We all loved it! 

Best part? Each of the attendees received a copy of  Everything Was Good-Bye, and Gurjinder was awesome enough to sign them for us! 

Above: Gurjinder and I, after getting my copy signed.

My beautiful signed copy of Everything Was Good-Bye!

See these bags? :D
These goodie bags were for us, attendees, as well! Sponsored by Chatelaine and Penguin Books! Take a look at what was inside:

Overall, this was a FABULOUS evening and we all had a BLAST! Gurjinder Basran is one extraordinary lady who flew all the way from BC just to meet with us (thank you!). I felt extremely honored to be one of the lucky people invited to attend this event.

Everything Was Good-Bye sounds like a truly wonderful book. Poignant, meaningful, and heart breaking, it's a book that should definitely make it to your reading pile! Be sure to pick up a copy next time you're in a bookstore! :)

Huge thank you to Penguin Books and Chatelaine for organizing this great event and inviting me to attend!

From left: Brenna, Christa, Michele, Nicole, Andrea, me, Jenn, Angel and Wendy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Publication.Date  January 31st 2012
Published By:  Razorbill Canada
WebsiteHiromi Goto

Darkest Light - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

The breathtaking follow-up novel to the award-winning Half World.

The nightmarish adventure picks up sixteen years after Melanie’s return in Half World. With a new dark hero whose unlikely companions are a heartless cat and a self-destructive Neo Goth girl, Darkest Light is a compelling journey through despair in a desperate search for redemption.

Emptiness was good. Emptiness meant there was nothing inside that would break and shatter.
The rage that had burst from his hidden place -- it was gone. And what was left, Gee thought numbly.
Darkness unfurled in Gee's gut and he grew very still. He breathed carefully. Slowly. He did not want to become angry.

    Packed with vivid painterly settings and strange beings, Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto is a breath-taking companion novel to Half World. As much as I enjoyed Half World, with its fantastic world building, great lead protagonist, and absolutely fascinating mythological backdrop, I loved Darkest Light EVEN MORE. Hiromi Goto is an exceptional storyteller. She literally floods the pages of her book with gorgeously imagined scenes, characters and places. Think you're too old or too hip for an action-packed, anime-like tale of one boy's journey to discover himself and his place in the world? Get over it!

       Set 16 years after the events of Half World, Darkest Light tells the story of Gee, a re-born antagonist from Hiromi's previous novel. Brought to the Realm of Flesh as a newborn baby by Melanie (the lead protagonist in Half World), Gee grew up in a loving home with his adopted grandma, Popo (who you may remember as Ms.Wei). Despite all the love and affection he gets from his popo, Gee doesn't feel like he belongs in this world. He's lonely. Kids at school resent him and laugh at him, his older sister moved away to attend a graduate school across the country, and his grandma isn't much of a companion - she doesn't want to talk about Gee's past and his origins. He knows that something bad happened many years ago, but every time he asks his grams about it, she makes excuses to avoid giving him any answers. All she tells him is that he must never get into any trouble with the law. And so Gee tries his best to be good. But there's a small, dark and silent place deep inside him, a seed that needs to be contained at all costs, a voice that keeps on telling him to let go and stop pretending he's a good little boy. That he can do anything he wants. And the voice is growing in strength with every passing day. The Half World is calling to him, compelling him to leave everything and return to the Realm that was once his kingdom.

       16 years ago, thanks to Melanie's bravery, the Three Realms have been reunited, restoring the balance to the sacred cycle of life and death. Now, the balance is at risk again, and it's up to Gee and the choice's he'll make to either break the connection between the Three Realms, bringing about chaos and despair, or strengthen the link, ensuring harmony and peace. With two extraordinary side-kicks, an arrogant white cat and a badass Neo Goth chick, Gee will embark on a journey into the Half World. A journey of self-discovery and redemption that will decide the fate of the entire world.

       Visually mind-blowing, thematically ambitious, thought-provoking, moving and extremely fun to read - Darkest Light is all that and more! I can't stress enough how much I adored it. It's so rich in flavor, so astonishing in its imagery and brilliant in its creativity - it's impossible not to fall in love with it. Many books out there are billed as unique voyages into fantasy, but this one truly delivers. It has the psychological and emotional depth to match its excellent visual performance and stunning eerie atmosphere - and that is extremely rare.

       Choosing to write a companion novel about Half World's antagonist was a truly slum-dunk move on Hiromi's part. Gee's character was a very complex one, his struggles, hopes and fears - very convincing, real and just so... human. Hiromi showed us that there is no evil in this world that's beyond redemption, no villains that can't be saved with just a little bit of effort, love and faith.

       All in all, Darkest Light is a beautifully told epic adventure of smashing power, sensitive characterizations, and rare depth. It's a journey in both literal and metaphorical sense, and every fan of fantasy, horror and adventure ought to take it.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Half World by Hiromi Goto (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Horror, Speculative Fiction
Publication.Date  January 27th 2009
Published By:  Puffin Canada
WebsiteHiromi Goto

Half World - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

Melanie Tamaki is human - but her parents aren't. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World - and neither of them may return alive. Imagine Coraline as filmed by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle), or Neil Gaiman collaborating with Charles de Lint. Half World is vivid, visceral, unforgettable, a combination of prose and images that will haunt you.


She was responsible for the things she chose. That's all. She almost managed a tiny smile. It was simultaneously an incredible responsibility and almost nothing at all, she thought wonderingly.
To be able to bring change into a fixed world, [she] thought. There is power in that.
You are alive in a Realm that is not alive, that is why you create change. That is why you are capable of breaking the patterns.

    Half World was absolutely enthralling! I loved every single page of this book and ended up kicking myself for not picking it up earlier! Seriously, how did I miss it? It's such a sparkly wonder of a book! An excellent, entirely original and thoroughly enjoyable story that not only compels and entertains, but also touches your heart and makes you realize the importance of life, family, and hope. Packed with action, mythology, symbolism and fantastic creatures, Half World delivers just the right mixture of adventure, excitement and magic.

Long, long, long ago, before mortals began to inscribe mortal religions onto stone tablets and parchment, there was a time of the Three Realms: the Realms of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and Half World.

      The Three Realms used to be connected, allowing people to move from one to another, in due time, as each person lives, dies, half-lives, and eventually becomes a Spirit. The sacred cycle of life and death was very important, it ensured balance and harmony. But then someone of something divided the cycle. The link between the Realms was severed, bringing about chaos and despair. Before that happened, Half World was an intermediary place where the troubled could work through their mortal suffering before they were allowed to move on to the Realm of Spirit. Now, those stuck in the Half World are caught in a loop, doomed to relive the pain and suffering of their lives. Melanie Tamaki, a chubby, unpopular 14-year-old girl, is the only person in the whole world capable of breaking the binding and reuniting the Realms. Determined to save her mother (who was kidnapped by the evil Mr. Glueskin), she's about to embark on a very dangerous journey, and one that will change her life forever.

      And what a breath taking journey that was! I won't lie, I really enjoyed myself. Half World is extraordinarily imagined, vibrant, and engaging. It's the kind of book that will appeal not only to middle grade or young adult readers, but also to older teens and adults who will definitely find pleasure in re-discovering how fun and entertaining YA fantasy adventures can be. I really loved Hiromi's smoothly flowing, descriptive and efficient prose. This book reads more like a middle grade novel than a young adult one, but at the same time there's an air of sophistication and profoundness to it, elevating it to a whole new level. It's an intelligent and meaningful read. Above all, it's a great, fast-paced adventure book that is just so unbelievably fun to read.

      Melanie was a great protagonist. She was perfect in all her imperfections. Not your usual long-legged, beautiful, charismatic heroine, but rather a quiet little mouse who went through a lot in her short life. To Melanie every day presents a new challenge. She's not the brightest kid at school. She struggles a lot to keep up. Bullied by other kids and neglected by her mother, she only finds joy in exploring the dusty shelves of a local second-hand bookstore. And don't expect any ground-shaking character transformation here. Even the quest to bring her mother back from the Half World will not turn Melanie into a tough, brave and gorgeous heroine. She'll still be the same awkward kid. Slow and easily tired. Scared, lost, desperate. And yet persistent and determined to save her mom. Always pushing through, never giving up, despite fear and pain, and not really knowing what to do next. She was wonderful. Real and convincing. And all her flaws only made me like her more. I found myself really engaged in Melanie's story, cheering for her, laughing and crying with her. I couldn't wait to find out what will happen next.

      What I loved the most about this book, though, was its rich and flavorful mythological tapestry. I loved all the Asian influences and the symbolism that Hiromi so brilliantly weaved into the plot. It was fresh, unique, atmospheric and simply delightful. From nightmarish, creeptastic creatures to unsettling gore scenes, this book is nothing like I've ever read before. I highly recommend picking it up! It's a dazzling and beautifully drawn tale that will both thrill and amaze you with its eerie scenes and totally unexpected plot developments.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing

Monday, March 26, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama
Publication.Date  February 14th 2012
Published By:  Random House Children's Books 
WebsiteKatie Dale

Someone Else's Life - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

"You are the decisions you make. The things you do. The people you love and who love you. They're the things that really make you who you are."
The truth may hurt, but lies—they're vicious. They hide coiled up inside you, ready to strike without warning, without your even knowing they're there.
That Mom died long before her heart stopped beating last Tuesday.

     Katie Dale concocts a deliciously compelling blend of personalities, heartbreak, and family drama, in a story of one girl's journey of self-discovery and finding her place in the world. Someone Else's Life is a compulsively readable novel, and one that is sure to resonate with its readers.

      The plot line focuses almost entirely on Rosie, a seventeen-year-old girl who just lost her mom to Huntington's Disease and is now terrified by the possibility that she herself might have inherited the disease. Just as she's about to get tested for it, her mother's best friend, Sarah, tells her the truth. And the truth is heartbreaking. Rosie's mom was not her biological mother. Devastated, lost and confused, Rosie decides to find her real mother, and she will travel across the continent to trace her.

      Rosie's story was a deeply moving one. From the very beginning every page is loaded with her emotions. And they are very convincing, vibrant, even gut-wrenching at times. The love she has for her mother is deeply felt, and her regrets about the past and her fears and hopes about the future are heartbreakingly real. She's a very relatable protagonist, and one that you can truly connect with. Katie Dale did a really great job crafting her character, as well as all the other fantastic protagonists in her novel - to the point that you really don't feel like you're reading a YA contemporary book, more like you're listening to a story told by your best friend. There's a very comforting feeling of familiarity to this book. The characters described in it could be people you pass by on the street every day. Their worries and dreams, all the battles they fight - they're the same worries, drams and battles that we experience every day. Perhaps that's why this story made such a huge impression on me. I was really moved by it, really glued to its pages, hungry for more, impatient to find out what will happen to Rosie, Andy, aunt Sarah, Nana, and Kitty Clare.

      Speaking of characters, I feel that I need to mention how delighted I was with Rosie's strong personality. This girl went through so much and yet there was no self-pity, no whining, no throwing fits nor crying into the pillow for hours. She was such a reasonable, understanding, patient, compassionate and forgiving character. So tough, brave and determined to find true happiness,  taking special care not to hurt anyone else in the process. I loved her. I really did. I cheered for her, and laughed and cried with her. Andy, too, was a very thoughtful character. Unlike many boys in YA literature of modern times, he was not a picture perfect. He had his flaws and that made me like him even more. It made him real. Sure, he was handsome, caring and supportive. He was also quite romantic and swoon-worthy, but at the same time he had his bad (or not-too-good) moments, when he couldn't understand what was happening with Rosie and the frustration coming from that would make him impatient and angry. And that was perfectly fine, because that's how normal people react. Like I said, Katie Dale did a phenomenal job fleshing out her characters and breathing life into them. I was completely and utterly impressed!

      The plot line itself is a harrowing one. At times it will make you sad, at times it will make you smile or even laugh. Few scenes might make your heart pound faster. Ultimately, though, it will make you think. If you're anything like me, you will be thinking about this story long after you'll turn the last page. This book does that to you.  Rosie's lively first-person narrative will inspire some long hours of pondering issues ranging from identity, self-acceptance, to family and relationship complexities, along with deciding what truly matters in life. Anyone who has ever dealt with death in family, or wondered about their place in the world, will find it really easy to relate to this beautifully-written, charming novel.

     And it will also teach a you a very important lesson: that the blood-relation does not make a family. People who truly love you, care for you, and accept you for who you are - they make a family. And the love that comes from that transcends blood.

      Katie Dale has written an intimate and authentic portrait of a teen who finds herself struggling to embrace her uncertain future. It's a fabulous read. I strongly recommend it!

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing

Sunday, March 25, 2012

BLOG TOUR: Until Next Time by Amy Lignor (Review + Giveaway)

Genre:Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publication.Date  February 1st 2012
Published By:  Tribute Books  | 
WebsiteAmy Lignor

Until Next Time - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart. (Goodreads)

Soulmate - what a dumb word. A soulmate is the eternal partner you have in every lifetime - the one created just for you. Easy concept, right? Unfortunately, what Matt and I didn't know is that when you're human, you can fail to recognize your soulmate. You can end up feeling attracted to other people. It's easy to get all messed up and confused. Hearts are broken fast that way.
Anger is the enemy. It can cloud issues and make people do unspeakable things. So can love. True love is the most powerful thing, but it can prevent a man from seeing clearly.
Their souls were one, keeping each other on the right course, oblivious to the rest of the world.

     Totally captivating, a powerful and entertaining read that will make your heart pound. Amy Lignor's writing style is engaging and full of charm, making it easy to loose yourself in the magical world she created, and connect with all the fabulous characters. Dealing with love, duty, destiny, and difficult choices, Until Next Time is a beautiful book in many ways.

      Matt and Emily are angels sent down to Earth on a mission to stop bad things from happening, all the while leading a "normal human lives" in their human shells (human bodies they're inhabiting). They've been training for that their whole lives, they have skills and unique angel powers, they're well prepared for anything that could happen. The only problem is once their souls are placed in human bodies, their own memories are wiped clean. They don't remember anything, including each other and their meant-to-be relationship. Overwhelmed by human emotions no training could ever have prepared them for, Matt and Emily will need more than faith to survive their time in human world.

      What sets Until The Next Time apart from all the other angel books I've read so far, is that the concept behind the story is entirely unique and fresh. And, let's face it, that does not happen very often when it comes to angel books. Sure, the general idea remains the same, but at the same time Amy Lignor puts a very original spin on it, giving us something exciting and new. Something that is very hard to dislike. I liked the idea of taking over someone else's body at the exact moment of the person's death, to ensure that their purpose in life is fulfilled. It was fascinating to read about, thought-provoking and very emotional.

      I found the plot line very interesting and mostly well thought out. I say mostly, because there was a couple of instances when I scratched my head and wondered "hmm.. how did that just happened?" or thought to myself "well, I'm not quite sure if that was entirely necessary". For instance, I wasn't quite sure why all the angel warriors had to train so hard in preparation for their missions, just to have their memories wiped clean before being sent down to Earth. And don't get me wrong here, it's not that I don't understand why their angel memories needed to be removed, as Amy explained all that very well (they needed to start fresh and go into their missions with open mind), I just didn't see why the extensive training was necessary in the first place.

     But that's basically all I could possibly complain about. Everything else - from the wonderful mythological backdrop that Amy so skilfully builds on and expands, to the complex, convincing, likable characters, to the incredible depth of the story and the profound messages it carries - was simply fabulous. I devoured Until Next Time. Touching and thrilling, it's an excellent angel book, and one you should definitely have on your shelf (or eReader).


Tribute Books has generously offered to giveaway one eCopy of Until Next Time!
To be entered in the draw please leave a comment on this post with your email address!

Open: to everyone
Ends: April 7

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing
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