Friday, December 31, 2010

Favourite Books of 2010- Adult

2010 was the year I got back into reading again, and I read a slew of incredible literature of which this list is just a taste. I fully recommend all these books (listed by preference) and I can only hope that 2011 is as amazing. 

Honorable Mentions:
-The Guernsey Literary and the Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
-The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
-After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
-Identity by Milan Kundera
-Written on the Body by Jeannette Winterson
-This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
-Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky
-Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

10. Zoli by Colum McCann
9. So Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor (Review)
8. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller 
7. The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre
6. Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis (Review)
5. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (Review)
4. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Review)
3. The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda (Review)
2. Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls (Review)
And the number one book I read in 2010 is..

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Review)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

After finding her first novel Still Alice so amazing, I was really looking forward to Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, it was actually the first book I ever did a "Waiting on Wednesday" feature on. Like Still Alice, Genova uses her background as a Harvard neuroscientist to delve into a story driven not only by the usual hallmarks of fiction-plot, character- but also involving a neurological twist. Left Neglected tells the story of Sarah Nickerson, a supermom living in the suburbs of Boston as she works as a high-ranked business executive and tries to make time for her three young children. Sarah's life is extremely hectic but when a car-accident leaves her brain-damaged she is finally forced to slow down and question what she has been rushing towards. The result of her injury is that even though Sarah has a perfectly healthy left side of her body, her brain simply doesn't recognize it, a condition called left neglect. As Sarah begins the slow and possibly incomplete journey towards recovery she is forced to accept her from those around her, including her mother who she has not seen in years, as well as reassess what exactly it is she wants out of her life after all. 

Left Neglected
is more uplifting than Still Alice- left neglect is not quite the life sentence that Alzheimer's is- but it is certainly still a book about a strong, intelligent woman struggling through neurological challenges that it is hard for somebody who has not experienced to truly imagine. What Genova does so well is her ability to realistically take the reader into a damaged mind, showing the strength that is possible. Left Neglected was particularly personal to me as my stepfather had a major stroke almost two years ago and among the deficits he has been left with is paralysis and a lack of awareness of his left side. Like Sarah, when he awoke from his injury he was unaware that anything was even wrong and like Sarah he has strongly benefited from an adapted skiing program. I spoke with him about Left Neglected and he strongly agreed with the perspective that Genova had given, a fact which likely stems from her extensive discussion with individuals who have the condition.

In addition, all the secondary characters such as Sarah's mother, husband and children all have adorable and quirky personalities which felt completely believable. What Genova does in Left Neglected, as well as her debut, she does extremely well. However I was slightly disappointed that the novel failed to surprise me- there was nothing in Left Neglected that I hadn't already come to expect of Genova as a writer from Still Alice, and for it to truly excel that is what was needed. Left Neglected is a strong and realistic portrayal of what it is like inside the mind of a woman living with left neglect. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Still Alice, as well as readers interested in neuroscience, or even simply books dealing with personal growth and challenges- Left Neglected is an excellent, if not totally surprising, novel. ****

Number of Pages: 336 pages
Published: January 2011 
Source: E-galley from publisher

Buy it

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: XVI

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases.

After reading some great YA dystopia literature lately, books like The Hunger Games and Birthmarked, I was pretty excited to learn about the release of XVI by debut author Julia Karr. I'm covering this book just in time, considering it comes out next week! XVI has a really appealing premise, and like The Hunger Games and Birthmarked it seems like the main character is going to be a strong independent female, which is something I really love to read about.
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world -- even the most predatory of men -- that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past -- one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
XVI will be published January 6th 2011 by Puffin/Speak.

There have been a lot of dystopia books being published in the YA market lately, is this a trend you are for or against? 

Personally, I'm for any trend that involves a move away from what I fondly call vampire teen porn, and as long as the books are well written and well-edited and not being rushed to press just to capitalize on the trend, I think it's great that young adult books are tackling political issues the way dystopian literature tends to. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favourite Books of 2010- Young Adult

I rediscovered Young Adult literature this year after basically ignoring it since I was in the intended audience (ie: highschool) and I'm so glad I did. Although there were definitely some duds, there is also a whole wonderful world of YA novels out there that some many adults miss out on by thinking they've outgrown them. So I've decided to share my top nine favourite YA books of the year. I realize a top nine is a little funny, but I'd rather keep it at nine than add tenth book that doesn't deserve to be there.

These are books that I think transcend the young adult border and would be excellent for readers of any age, because really, you're never too old for a good book. I have tried to discriminate in the order I listed the books, but I definitely recommend all nine. I have decided not to include my own ramblings about these books as I have already reviewed eight of them and links are available beside the titles for those interested in learning more.  

9. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
8. The Waters and the Wild by Francesca Lia Block (Review)
7. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Review)
6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Review)
5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Review)
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Review)
2. Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Review)
Honorable mention: Glass by Ellen Hopkins, the follow up to Crank.

1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Review)

Did you have any incredible young adult reading experiences in 2010? If so, definitely share them in the comments so I can make sure to pick up the books in 2011. 

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Favourite Books of 2010- Poetry

    I love poetry but I'm really picky about it. I have a fondness for vivid symbolism and bright metaphors, sharp language and confessional style-writing. In 2010 I read fifteen collections and of those four could be considered favourites- of which I only originally reviewed on, so I am sharing a small synopsis now. They are listed in no particular order, and they are all small collections worthwhile even if you consider yourself not a fan of poetry.

    1. Love Poems by Carol Ann Duffy 
    Love Poems was my first introduction to Carol Ann Duffy, and may have been a bit biased due to the fact that it's actually a selection from various other collections. This year I also read Standing Nude Female by Duffy, as well as a collection she edited, Stopping for Death. As evident from the title, Love Poems is a collection is full of poems about love. However Duffy doesn't rely on the obvious route and so instead of simply roses and candles her words are sharp with raw edges of emotion and beauty.

    2. Diving Into The Wreck by Adrienne Rich
    Following Diving Into The Wreck I read three other collections by Adrienne Rich including The Dream of a Common Language, but none of them measured up to my initial love, a fact which is especially impressive when you consider that Diving Into The Wreck (along with Satan Say and Ariel) was actually read for an English class I took and had to suffer through extensive analysis. In the collection Rich has an incredible ability to play with the idea of gender as well as language- challenging the reader's preconceptions about both. In Diving Into The Wreck Rich manages to combine the personal and the political in a way unlike any other poet I have read, and she does so with incredible power.

    3. Satan Says by Sharon Olds
    I don't have too much to say about Sharon Olds' incredible debut collection Satan Says that didn't make it into my initial review, except to note that although the shock associated with the graphic nature of her poetry- addressing topics like incest and abuse- as well as a significant amount of profanity, certainly lessens over time. What doesn't lessen is the mark that Satan Says carves into your mind, Olds' incredible ability to capture darkness and leave behind raw and unforgettable poems.

    4. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
    Along with Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems, Ariel was basically my poetry Bible in highschool and for that reason it is very difficult to review from any sort of critical perspective. What I did realize upon rereading Ariel this year though, is that the beauty and power of Plath's poetry is not restricted to bleeding heart teenagers. Reading the collection again as well as discussing it for my American Poetry class made me recognize that the power of Ariel is that there is something new to discover every time you read the book, and in Plath's metaphors and confessions each reader is able to find their own message.

    Did you read any incredible poetry collections in 2010? I am definitely interested in new suggestions as I am fairly picky when it comes to poets and could always use an introduction to new ones.

      Sunday, December 26, 2010

      Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

      I was in a bit of a dystopian mood while waiting for my chance to read the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, so I decided to give Caragh M. O'Brien's debut Birthmarked a try. Not only did I satisfy my craving for a young adult book with a powerful female lead in her fight to save her family against strict government, but I also found a novel that was really well done, and certainly more than just another author hopping on the popularity train. 

      Birthmarked takes place after climate change has left the world destroyed and two groups of humans living either inside or outside of a wall on the north shore of Unlake Superior. For those inside the wall, life is good, while those on the outside are poor and undesirable. Scarred since childhood Gaia Stone is definitely one of the outsiders, and along with her mother, she works as midwife where her job includes "advances" a certain number of infants inside the wall each month in order to meet a quota. However when Gaia's parents are arrested and she is forced to take over her mother's responsibility she finds her questioning the system as travels inside the wall in an attempt to save her parents. When she is arrested and imprisoned Gaia is forced to draw on strength she didn't know she had as Birthmarked offers some powerful warnings about what our future made hold.

      One of the things I loved about Birthmarked was that Gaia wasn't picture perfect beautiful, and that she was strong despite that, not defined by her disfigurement or exempt from normal teenage troubles like thinking about a boy and trying to fit in. Also, with so many love triangles in current YA literature including The Hunger Games it was pretty refreshing to read a book where not only is romance not the main concern, but when the subplot is introduced the girl is only interested in one guy. I admit I did find the actual stuff about the code a little silly and predictable in how it was unraveled, I was hoping for something a little more comple, but it is also not why I was reading the book and I'm happy that O'Brien is a better writer than cryptographer which is something I can't say for Dan Brown. 

      Writing this review a month and a half after I first read the book, it has managed to stay with me. Certain flaws have also become evident, it was definitely predictable at times and the ending is clearly meant to lead into the sequel, but Birthmarked was also a definite page-turner based on a well-realized premise and a plot that keeps the reader enthralled. Birthmarked is a fantastic beginning to another new dystopian trilogy and it is certainly one I recommend picking up- I'm already looking forward to the sequel Prized expected to be released in 2011. ****

      Number of Pages: 362 pages
      Published: March 2010   
      Source: Ebook
      Buy it   

      Saturday, December 25, 2010

      The Everafter by Amy Huntley

      "I’m dead. Not my-parents-told-me-to-be-home-by-twelve-and-it’s-two o’clock-now dead. Just dead. Literally."
      The Everafter by Amy Huntley is the story of Madison Stanton, or Maddy, a seventeen year old girl who wakes up in an unknown place only to realize she has died. Maddy is in "Is", a vast dark space where objects from her past glow and float around her. She soon recognizes that all the objects are ones that she lost while she was alive, and by grabbing onto them she is able to re-experience and possible even change those moments of her life. The novel alternates between Maddy's current thoughts and discovery of Is and flashbacks which tell tiny bits of her life. The Everafter is a haunting and original combination and although it is an easy read it definitely leaves a mark behind. There were a few flashbacks included that didn't really impact me, such as Maddy as an infant unable to talk, and seemed slightly unnecessary. I also occasionally wished that Huntley would elaborate more on some of the characters, because Maddy herself felt so genuine that many of the secondary characters became rather two-dimensional by comparison. I loved the premise of The Everafter so much I wish that the characters involved had been fleshed out better. 

      One thing is for sure, this is not a happy book. I found The Everafter particularly depressing due to Huntley's ability to give Maddy a very realistic and pure voice, one which makes the reader genuinely connect to the narrator. The reader clearly feels Maddy's emotions to the point that it is easy to forget the book is fiction. It was only near the end that I felt slightly jarred into reality, although I find it hard to imagine how else The Everafter could have ended, it just seemed a bit too mature for a teenage; which isn't a bash against teenagers, just that personally I certainly haven't reached the level of maturity that was attributed to Maddy even now and I am a few years past being a teen. Of course, death could certainly change your perspective on things. Ultimately The Everafter is an interesting book with a solid premise and main character but unfortunately when it comes to the details the book doesn't quite measure up to its potential. ***

      Number of Pages: 248 pages
      Published: September 2009  
      Source: Ebook
      Buy it   

      Giveaway Winner: The Next Queen of Heaven

      Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter and follow during Midwinter's Giveaway Hop. It was a fantastic experience and I am already looking forward to joining future giveaway hops- so many chances to win! The lucky winner of The Next Queen of Heaven has been selected using random and it is...

      Congratulations Heather and happy holidays to everyone!

      Friday, December 24, 2010

      In My Mailbox (December 19th-22nd 2010)

      This week was a short one as I headed back to Montreal on Thursday morning and so missed the last two days of mail. But I did have some lovely offerings delivered on Monday and Tuesday.
      {For Review}
      Elephant Milk by Diane Sherry Case (Author)
      Feed by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick Press)
      What Comes After by Steve Watkins (ARC) (Candlewick Press)
      Punkzilla by Adam Rapp (Candlewick Press)

      Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs (Autographed) (Thanks Penguin Canada and Luanne)

      My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales Edited by Kate Bernheimer

      That's it for my Alberta mailbox this week, but I did have quite a few books waiting for me in Montreal so there may be one more book post before 2011. To everyone, I hope the holidays bring you lots of time with family and lots of literature, definitely two of my favourite things in the world.

      Thursday, December 23, 2010

      Giveaway Winner: Heidegger's Glasses

      Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for Heidegger's Glasses. The winner has been selected:

      Congratulations Elizabeth!

      If you didn't win, you can still pick up the book with free shipping world at the Book Depository.

      Books of 2010 I Wish I Hadn't Read- Adult

      In 2010 I read a lot of really amazing books. Unfortunately I also read quite a few terrible ones, and so to help others avoid making the same mistake I have decided to share the top five books of 2010 that I wish I hadn't read.

      5. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman (Review)
      His novel certainly had potential, but unfortunately Chuck Klosterman, author being the quirky and enjoyable (if slightly pretentious) Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, just doesn't do fiction well. Downtown Owl felt just like Klosterman, and while that works okay when you're doing opinion pieces the end result was a novel where all the characters sound the same and the reader can never really fall into the book.

      4. Ruby and the Stone Age Diet by Martin Millar (Review)
      Remind me again of that age-old saying, never judge a book by it's cover, because I did just that and picked up the visually stimulating but otherwise completely blah Ruby and the Stone Age Diet. Not only did the title have almost nothing to do with the book, but I'm still not entirely sure what the book was about, it just rambled and didn't really make any coherent sense in a way that mostly just got on my nerves. The novel itself is fairly short but it seems to drag on forever because the reader doesn't care about any of the characters or what is going to happen to them. There was a cute little story about a werewolf girl included though- why couldn't Millar have made that the novel instead? 

      3. The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire (Review)
      I feel like I have probably berated The Next Queen of Heaven enough to last a lifetime, but that's only because I was so disappointed in it. Maguire had about twenty good story ideas- he just shouldn't have put them all in the same book. As somebody who enjoyed Wicked, although it has been about a decade since I read it, this book just lacked the polish and wit and instead left me muddled and bored.

      2. Cleaving by Julie Powell (Review)
      After only sorta enjoying Julie and Julia, I'm not sure what I decided to pick up Julie Powell's next memoir, Cleaving. The funny thing is, despite being a vegetarian, it was actually the portions about butchering I enjoyed the most. What wasn't so fantastic? The self-involved flaunting personality that Powell exhibits when it comes to her two year affair on her husband, as well as a pseudo "Eat Pray Love" journey to foreign countries to supposedly learn about butchering but really just tell the reader how attractive foreign men think she is.

      1. Anything by Chuck Palahniuk (Specifically Snuff and Tell All) (Review #1, #2)
      So maybe it is cheating to include two books under one option in a top five, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't want to waste any more of my life talking about the disgusting latest novels from Palahniuk. Besides, it's really hard to decide which book is worse. I mean, both Snuff and Tell All were so bad I honestly don't even want to write a whole paragraph discussing them, I just want to warn you to stay far far away- this coming from a girl who can pretty much quote Fight Club from memory. The only good thing I can tell you about these novels is that they are short, so at least the pain is over with quickly.

      Do you agree or disagree with any of the titles I've included? What Adult books would make your worst of the year list?

        Wednesday, December 22, 2010

        A Secret Gift by Ted Gup

        "To keep the furnace going, her brother-in-law was dispatched to collect coal that had fallen off the coal cars along the railroad tracks. The apartment was sparsely furnished. At nine, Valerie still slept in her parents’ bedroom in her baby crib."
        A Secret Gift by Ted Gup is the non-fiction account of how one man placed an ad in the newspaper during the depression for those in need, ultimately giving $5 (about $100 in today's terms) to 150 families to help them have a Merry Christmas. The book begins with an ad placed in December 1933, but manages to capture so much more than just a single Christmas, in A Secret Gift Gup manages to capture the entire spirit of the depression, and how in the midst of a time where families were starving and children were going without shoes a single act of anonymous kindness can make such a difference. The man responsible for the secret gifts was actually Sam Stone, Gup's grandfather, and it was only after his grandmother had passed on and he was sorting her belongings that Gup came across a suitcase of the letters sent to his grandfather over seventy years before.

        The amount of research Gup did in order to write A Secret Gift is insanely impressive, as he shares many of the letters individuals wrote and then delves into the circumstances which lead them to write the letters- including a refusal to rely on charity and an inability to find work. Gup follows up with the descendants of the letter writers, unfortunately learning that in many of the cases the families were never able to recover from the depression. Given that much of the world is currently suffering through a major recession, A Secret Gift provides a valuable reminder of how good we still have it. As a result of the depression, social welfare programs were put into place meaning that even when times are tough families rarely have to decide between milk or shoes for their children. It is heartbreaking to read about how many children died as a result of starvation and malnutrition in a country so often admired for its advances and technology. I particularly appreciated Gup's attention to the role that women played during the time period and how they were often the first to be let go when it came to work, even in situations were they were the only breadwinners in their families.

        The only complaint that I have when it comes to A Secret Gift is Gup's attempt to maintain suspense when it comes to Sam Stone's motives for wanting to spread his limited wealth during the holiday season. Gup makes it seem as if Stone has a big secret hidden in his past, and although it is true that his history is something that was better kept under wraps while he was alive due to legal reasons, I hardly think it provides the "ah-ha" moment that Gup seems to imply it will. Another aspect of the story I found particularly interesting was the fact that despite doing something that could be considered the epitome of spreading Christmas cheer, Sam Stone was actually Jewish. In addition to knowledge about a difficult time in history, A Secret Gift leaves its readers with strong lessons about the inner strength people have, parents going without food to feed their starving children, children going without school in order to work and help feed their families. Gup reminds the reader of the value of even a small gift to a person in need, especially one which is given selflessly and without desire for recognition, and it's ability to make a positive impact not only on an individuals life but by extension for many generations to come. ****

        Buy it  
        Number of Pages: 368 pages
        Published: September 2010

        This review was a part of TLC Book Tours. Click here to read what other tour hosts thought. For the purpose of this review I was provided with a copy of the book which did not require a positive review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.     

        Tuesday, December 21, 2010

        Waiting on Wednesday: The History of History

        "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases.
        I love it when I read a book and wonder exactly what was going on in the author's head (in a good way). There are some stories so strange they could not have been written by anyone but the person who wrote them, and one upcoming example of that is the debut novel by Ida Hattemer-Higgins, The History of History.
        A ferociously smart and electrifyingly original debut novel.

        2002. A young woman named Margaret stumbles one morning from the forest outside Berlin—hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night.

        2004. An enigmatic letter arrives from an unknown doctor, a self-styled “memory surgeon” claiming to be concerned for her fate. Shortly after, the city of Berlin transforms. Nazi ghosts manifest as preening falcons; buildings turn to flesh.

        This is the story of Margaret’s descent into madness and her race to recover her lost history—the night in the forest and the chasm that opened in her life as a result. Awash in guilt, Margaret finds her amnesia resonating—more and more clamorously—with two suppressed tragedies of Berlin’s darkest hour.

        Harrowing and provocative, beguiling in its lyricism and sensuality, The History of History tells a tale of obsessive love, family ruptures, and a nation’s grief. And it is an elegy to “the history of history”—the role of the German past in the psychic life of the present age. With this first novel, thirty-year-old Ida Hattemer-Higgins establishes herself as a bold and prodigiously gifted talent.
        Published January 18th 2011 by Knopf, The History of History will definitely be one strange book I can't wait to get my hands on.

        How do you feel about odd literature? Do you have any truly weird books to recommend?

        Every Riven Thing: Poems by Christian Wiman

        Every Riven Thing is the third collection of poetry by Christian Wiman, and it offers a stark yet humble view of the world. I loved the words but the structure of the poems, their rigid form and the fact that they often rhyme, just didn't quite click with me. Although I am not very familiar with traditional poetic forms, it seems evident that is where Wiman drew his inspiration for format if not content. My favourite poems are the ones that seems to step outside the boundaries Wiman has seemed to have set and have a stronger sense of random chaos instead of strict outlines.

        This is not a happy collection, the poems deal mostly with sickness and death, for example in "Not Altogether Gone" Wiman writes:
        "When there is nothing left to curse
        you can curse nothing
        but when there is nothing left to love
        the heart eats inward and inward its own need
        for release..."
        His portrait of the world is dismal and grave, and yet the poems are connected by their underlying faith and belief in God which at times seems at odds with the dreary images Wiman presents. Although whether or not such a God exists remains unclear, and even if God does exist, in "Hammer is the Prayer" Wiman writes that
        "There is no consolation in the thought of God."
        One of the main questions Every Riven Thing brought to my mind was, how is one to deal with the desolate world if God is not there? I found comfort in the idea of God being unknowable, such as in "Gone for the Day, She is the Day"
        "Sometimes one has the sense
        that to say the name
        God is a great betrayal,
        but whether one is betraying
        God, language, or one's self
        is harder to say."
        This stanza provides a clear glimpse into Wiman's world, one filled with darkness and confusion, but ultimately also with faith. Whether or not it is an assessment the reader agrees with is a personal decision.  For me, Every Riven Thing lacked the literary power I had hoped for, and I often felt as if the traditional formats of the poems diminished their ability to strike into the heart of the reader- the poems felt clearly structured rather than an outburst of chaotic emotion. Every Riven Thing deals with religion and faith, as well as the dilemmas those themes present, but for such a tempestuous topic the collection was ultimately a little too well-mannered for me.

        Number of Pages: 93 pages
        Published: November 2010 
        Source: Publisher
        Buy it  

        Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop: The Next Queen of Heaven

        I am offering one gently used ARC of The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire, you can see my review here. The copy is very gently used, as in I read it once and I am obsessive about my keeping my books perfect. The Next Queen of Heaven takes place during the Holiday season and was one of my recommended Christmas reads, so I thought it would be the perfect book to share so close to the actual day. However, I will only be able to ship this book early in the new year as I am visiting family as soon as this giveaway ends (sorry!). As I am paying shipping costs myself, this is a Canada/US only giveaway.
        *Note the copy is an ARC and as such the cover is different

        Summary of the book from Goodreads:
        With the new millennium approaching, the eccentric town of Thebes grows even stranger. Mrs. Leontina Scales begins speaking in tongues after being clocked by a Catholic statuette. Her daughter, Tabitha, and her sons scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus—whatever comes first. Meanwhile, choir director Jeremy Carr, caught between lust and ambition, fumbles his way toward Y2K. The ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries join with a gay singing group. The Radical Radiants battle the Catholics. A Christmas pageant goes horribly awry. And a child is born.
        Because I am paying shipping costs myself, I have decided that this time you must be a follower to enter this giveaway. To enter leave a comment letting me know something you are looking forward to in 2011- besides possibly getting this book in your mailbox! Make sure you include your e-mail address so I have a way to contact you. The winner will be randomly selected using random and due to the busy time of year this giveaway is taking place you will have a week to reply to my winner announcement. This giveaway will close when the giveaway hop ends at 11:59 PM on December 22nd EST. 

        Click here to visit the rest of the giveaways on this hop! I know I will.

        THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. Congrats Heather!

        Monday, December 20, 2010

        In My Mailbox (December 12th-18th 2010)

        At first this week seemed like it was bound to be an empty mailbox- by Friday morning only two books had arrived. Then I got a parcel notice and it turned out packages from Harper Collins and Penguin were waiting for me at the post office, woo! 

        {For Review}

        Under The Mercy Trees by Heather Newton (ARC) (TLC Tours)
        Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (TLC Tours)
        Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle (Thomas Allen)
        Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Penguin Canada)
        XVI by Julia Karr (ARC) (Penguin Canada)
        Where She Went by Gayle Forman (ARC) (Penguin Canada)

        So one of the funny (to me) things about the books I received this week is that Under the Mercy Trees actually uses a quote from McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes, on its cover. I was really unimpressed with the Under The Mercy Trees ARC copy though, it keeps falling apart and I've tried to tape it together but that hasn't really been very successful. Forget passing this book onto somebody else- it'll be going straight in the recycling when I'm done reading it, even if I love it in which case I'll buy a better copy. I was also really excited about the YA books from Penguin, as they are all titles I have really wanted to read and I was really excited to get Where She Went so far in advance. Even though the first book, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, wasn't my favourite it definitely had a lot of potential and Where She Went looks really good- that review will be posted in April when the book is released.


        Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys (Thanks to the author and Kathy!)

        Anyway this week will be insanely busy as I have an exam to moderate and then mark with 240 students in it before I get to head back to Montreal and Nova Scotia for the holidays leaving early Thursday morning. I've already packed a suitcase full of books to take with me! I can't wait to dig into all the books I haven't gotten a chance to read over the last twelve months, 2010 is almost over and it's time to buckle down. I'm particularly excited to finally read Room, it has been on my shelf for over two months now. Is there anything you are looking forward to reading over your vacation?