Review: MALICE by Chris Wooding

Thanks to Nikole at Scholastic for sending me this great book to review!

First of all I have to say that the cover of this book is startlingly creepy. It’s bold red with the title and an antagonist in eye-catching relief. I love it! I’ve traced the lines of that character (Tall Jake) a hundred times while reading it!

The description on the back cover pretty well sums up the plot of this YA horror novel. It says: “Once you get into the story, there’s no way out.” Well, the truth couldn’t be any plainer. Malice is the name of a comic book but it’s also the name of the place in the comic where, if the kids are foolish enough to take the dare of presenting the specified offerings and repeating the required chant, they find themselves in a dangerous world of monsters, caves, dark corridors, booby traps and many more hidden dangers. Just when I thought I’d come across the worst evil-doer, the following page would be all the more terrifying!

To Seth and Kady, best friends since childhood the rumors of Malice are too much to resist. What follows is an adventure of a lifetime – and maybe several lifetimes. The book is full of intrepid and resourceful teenagers battling the evil lurking behind every corner in the real world and in Malice. But they’re normal teenagers too – they have arguments with their parents and deal with peer pressure. And the antagonists!

I love adventure stories and when I saw the cover of this book, I couldn’t resist reading the first page. And then the next and the next. Ok, I had trouble putting the book down. Its easy to read format and the story line drew me in completely. The book’s beautifully graphic cover extends to the inside where the story is interrupted in at least six places by a comic depicting the action going on. That was great! Sometimes it’s easier (especially if you’re a visual person) to see something rather than have it described by the written word. So the descriptions of some of the fantastical creatures were depicted in equally strange drawings.

I didn't realize until I finished the book that this is a series! I cannot wait for the next one to come out! I love having books to look forward to...I recommend this book to any kid who loves creepy horror stories (who didn’t see or hear about or read at least one book from the Goosebumps series?). And some adults too!

Watiing on Wednesday: New York by Edward Rutherfurd

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

From the Random House website, the book description reads:

The bestselling master of historical fiction weaves a grand, sweeping drama of New York from the city's founding to the present day.

Rutherfurd celebrates America's greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga that showcases his extraordinary ability to combine impeccable historical research and storytelling flair. As in his earlier, bestselling novels, he illuminates cultural, social, and political upheavals through the lives of a remarkably diverse set of families.

As he recounts the intertwining fates of characters rich and poor, black and white, native born and immigrant, Rutherfurd brings to life the momentous events that shaped New York and America: the Revolutionary War, the emergence of the city as a great trading and financial center, the excesses of the Gilded Age, the explosion of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the trials of World War II, the near-demise of New York in the 1970s and its roaring rebirth in the '90s, and the attacks on the World Trade Center. Sprinkled throughout are captivating cameo appearances by historical figures ranging from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Babe Ruth.

New York is the book that millions of Rutherfurd's American fans have been waiting for. A brilliant mix of romance, war, family drama, and personal triumphs, it gloriously captures the search for freedom and prosperity at the heart of our nation's history.

This book looks really good. It will be published by Random House on November 10, 2009.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

From page 118 of The Widow's War by Sally Gunning:

She ladled stew over the cloth and strained the liquid into the bowl, trying not to inhale the enticing smell. She returned to the little room and handed the bowl to the Indian, but when he went to take it from her, his hand shook.

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received three books last week - all from Scholastic. They are:

Malice by Chris Wooding.

The description of this book on Scholastic's website says:

Everyone’s heard of it but nobody’s read it. Luke, Seth, and Kady have heard all the stories about Malice, a secret comic about a strange, awful world full of tricks and traps, and overseen by a sinister master of ceremonies, Tall Jake. But if rumors are to be believed, the children in this comic are real? Luke is the first to fall into this trap and Seth and Kady are the next to follow. They have left our world and entered the sinister comic book. The question is: can they make it out alive? From acclaimed author Chris Wooding, a novel that’s half fact, half comic and all thrills.
I'm already well into it and should be finished pretty soon. Review should be up this week. So far it's really fun and a perfect read for this time of year.

The second book is Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor.

This book's description on the site reads:

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls:

Goblin Fruit: In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses: A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling: Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

This book has a very cool short graphic story (no words) at the very beginning of the book.

The last book in this trio is called Timothy and the Dragon's Gate by Adrienne Kress.

The description:

Timothy Freshwater has been expelled from the last school in the city. His father takes him to his office where he meets the mailroom clerk, Mr. Shen, who turns out to be a dragon. Forced to take human shape for hundreds of years, he must return to China to resume his true form. Timothy soon finds himself Mr. Shen’s keeper and stalked by a ninja and chased by a trio of black taxicabs. And then Mr. Shen falls into the wrong hands. Can Timothy help his new friend?
It looks really fun - I'm looking forward to reading it!

Presenting La BOOK-tique!

Last week I blogged about my new bookstore, Beazley Books. This week I thought I would write a post about another used bookstore in the area called La BOOK-tique. This store has been a local fixture for 20 years and the owners, Ron and Monica, are friends of mine, my husband and my daughter (who works there part-time). As a matter of fact they have been very supportive of us in our own new bookstore venture. They've let us go through their overstock and given us great prices, and lent us their ladder and other tools. Ron visited our store several times before it opened lending his expertise and advice on the best way to build our bookshelves, and even built a few! We couldn't ask for a better neighbor - not to mention friend!

La BOOK-tique carries over 30,000 books from all genres. They buy and sell good quality fiction and non-fiction. Customers have the option of a discount frequent buyer card - whereby for every $50 they spend, they will get $5 off their next purchase. New customers will leave with a free pen to jot down all the titles they've read! You can visit La-BOOK-tique in Pointe-Claire, Québec at 79 Donegani. Give them a call (514-694-5553) or email for for information about your book needs.

Here are some photos from inside the store...

Review: ACROSS THE ENDLESS RIVER by Thad Carhart

Thanks to Anna from FSB Associates for sending me this book for review.

Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau lived in the first half of the 19th century. He was born to Sacagawea, a native American famous as the translator for the Lewis and Clark expedition and to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French Canadian fur trader. Baptiste’s story begins in the wilds of America as his family journeys west with the great explorers. William Clark took Baptiste under his wing and became his guardian when his parents left to continue trapping after the expedition was complete. With Clarke’s influence and those of others in his circle, the eighteen-year old Baptiste traveled to Paris and then Germany as an apprentice to a young Duke whose life’s work was documenting the natural sciences. With Baptiste’s command of languages and his knowledge of native and non-native cultures he was able to impart much to the interested Europeans. But the very purpose of his presence in Europe also led to some difficult culture divides which further enlightened Baptiste.

Many years ago I read the huge novel, Sacagawea by Anna Lee Waldo. I enjoyed it so much and was therefore very excited when I found out about Across the Endless River. I can’t remember many details about Waldo’s book aside from the fact I liked it but I do know that Across the Endless River is quite different. It touches just briefly on Sacagawea (it is about her son after all) and his life as a young boy. It is rich in detail where it needs to be – such as the description of Clark and Baptiste bonding (page 15):

Cruzatte had begun to play his fiddle, one of the old Breton tunes the men favored and Pomp stamped half-rhythmically to the music. He gave forth little squeals, surprised and pleased at the explosions of wetness that his feet made upon the captain’s leggings. It turned into a dance as Clark lifted his feet and turned the boy back and forth. Seaman, Clark’s good-natured Newfoundland, barked and wagged his tail, striding into the water to join in the fun. Everyone laughed, Clark most heartily of all, and Sacagawea saw that more than one man had to turn away to hide moist eyes.

Clark goes on to play an important role in Baptiste’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has all the elements of the kind of historical novel that I enjoy – adventure, travel and an array of cultures. I also particularly enjoyed how the author managed to convey Baptiste as a young man encountering sights, scenes and people for the first time. It was like looking through his eyes at awe-inspiring events. From an article published by Thad Carhart, titled Imagining the Past in Paris, the author writes:

Another clear difference was the absence of cars, though factoring them out mentally also involved imagining the presence of horses...lots of horses. As I examined the numberless paintings at Carnavalet, I thought a lot about the look, the sound, and the smell of tens of thousands of horses plying the streets of Paris close to 200 years ago. Merely disposing of their manure -- and Paris was very well organized in this department -- was a Herculean task daily. And, just as in our day, when playboys often drive Porsches and tradesmen more likely use vans, the paintings reveal fancy thoroughbreds ridden solo by dandies, sturdy draft horses pulling huge wagons, and bony nags hitched to battered carts.

For anyone who enjoys historical novels set when America was young (and Europe was, well, not), this novel is for you.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

One of my favourite books is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I loved it! I read that book twice, both times over the Christmas holidays two years in a row. That must be the reason I equate it with the holidays even though it has nothing to do with them. In any case I just found out that the next book by this author will be published in January 2010.

From the Hachette website the description of The Swan Thieves reads:

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

Usually there's not much to look forward to after the holidays (aside from snow, ice and freezing rain) but now I won't be able to wait for January to come!

Book Bloggers Unite!

I've been trying to plan my blog posts in advance on weekends since I have little time during the week to devote to my blog. This led me to think of all the things I've been doing lately that would indicate, if one didn't know otherwise, that I'm a blogger. Then I thought of what other bloggers I know have said to me about their blogging habits and I knew I just had to do a post about it.

I suspect however that this meme has already been done by someone, but I've no idea who! If you recognize it, please let me know and I'll link to their blog/meme. Thanks!

You know you’re in the presence of a book blogger when s/he:

  • Has several large brown envelopes sitting in their recycling box or worse - strewn about their house waiting to be placed in the recycling box.
  • Can whip out their camera in case an author comes into the room.
  • Jumps up and checks their mail box several times an hour.
  • Jumps up and checks their blog stats several times an hour.
  • Plans their holidays and work schedules around book events and author signings.
  • Is on a first name basis with several publicists and more than a few authors.
  • Has a dedicated calendar for which books are due to be read and reviewed next.
  • Realizes s/he has already read most of the bestsellers on the day they’re released.
  • Is on a first name basis with their mailman/woman, FedEx and UPS delivery guys.
  • Has a UPS/FedEx/Priority Post (fill in your own local delivery service) delivery sticker on their front door.
  • Lives a second life entirely independent from their spouse, with a lingo they can’t understand and somewhat fear.
Ok - that last line was written by husband...can you think of any more?

Books Bought!

My friend Cindy hosts this meme of books bought during the past week.

I bought two books last week at a local used bookstore. I know what you're thinking...why would she buy books at a used bookstore when she's already got her own store where she can pick and choose to her heart's desire?? Well, the answer is simple: I didn't have these particular books and I wanted them. So there!

The first book is Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. It's a book I borrowed from a friend and I've been reading it very slowwwly over the past couple of weeks. It's not that the book isn't good, but along with being ridiculously busy I'm also reading three books at the same time. Now that I've bought my own used copy I can return my friend's book and not worry I'll forget or it'll get lost somehow.

The second book is The Revenge of Captain Paine by Andrew Pepper. I have the first book in this historical mystery thriller series and was looking out for the second. (Can you tell I'm genre-challenged??).

It's OPEN!!!

Well it took a while but it’s finally happened. We opened our store! I’ve been trying to remember to take the camera with me when I go and though I haven’t always, I do have some pictures. We are still not finished stocking the shelves but we’ve come a long way.

My husband and I signed the lease for the location in August. We only had access to the store on September 1st so there was no way we could actually open for the beginning of that month. Previously the store had been a fitness/massotherapy centre so it didn’t already have bookshelves – we would have to build them from scratch.

We also had to get the internet configured, our telephone lines connected, the hydro turned on, a debit card terminal hooked-up, and a bathroom installed. Then, we prepped and painted the walls, built shelves in the basement for storage, moved furniture in, built the bookcases and of course the boxes and boxes and boxes of books had to be unpacked, checked, cleaned, priced and shelved. Countless hours and a few splinters later we opened the doors. It’s not our grand opening yet – we still have plenty of work ahead of us – but we’re well on the way. So, without further ado, here are the photos…

Here we've prepped and painted the walls. The book shelves still have to go up. The view is looking from the front door towards the back where there is a small office and stairs leading to the basement.

Here come the bookshelves!

On the other wall:

Ok, here's Freeway helping to load book boxes.

Here we're working on getting the books onto the finished shelves. We don't yet have shelves built for the middle of the store so we're temporarily using tables to display more books.

Looking towards the front door.

I admit genres are confusing me! I think I have more genre sections than Chapters! The books have been shelved by genre and then alphabetically by author's last name. I left plenty of space between books so I wouldn't have to shift entire rows when I came upon popular 'letters' for names. Lots of authors names begin with the letter B! Or maybe I just have too many copies of the Da Vinci Code.

It's getting there!

So that's it. We still have a lot of work to do but so far feedback from customers has been enthusiastic, I'm happy to say.

I will do an update when the middle shelves are done and we have a proper window display. So far I'm very pleased with our cozy new store!


Thanks to Jane Doiron and Tracee for the opportunity to review this book!

I love cookbooks! I have quite a collection but there’s always room for one more. So, I was very happy when I was asked to review this book – cookbooks are right up my alley.

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms is a nice looking book. The cover has a photo of Italian Restaurant Chicken and the back has three more photos of various dishes. The book is organized according to type of food – appetizers, breakfast and brunch, dessert, main dishes, etc. There is an introduction as well as a section called Helpful Hints which are all geared toward saving time. At the end of the book there is a section on Measurement Equivalents and last, the Index of Recipes.

Each recipe has a short comment from the author or a time-saving tip. Also included on each page are freezing directions or suggestions on ‘making ahead’ a portion of the recipe and directions for the remaining part to be prepared at a later time.

Overall I liked the recipes. They’re simple and easy to make and most importantly for me – adaptable. I like a cookbook I can open up and know that I’ll likely have most of the ingredients on hand. And if I don’t, well, I substitute. (I wish I were more organized and plan for what I’ll need during the week but things don’t always work out that way so I customize!)

I made the Cinnamon Bread (page 29) but since my daughter likes to bring muffins to school, I used a muffin pan instead of loaf pans. They turned out to be 12 large and very good muffins and a perfect mid-day snack. Next I made the Penuche Fudge (page 91). I found it a bit sweet so I took a batch to work and conducted a taste test. My co-workers loved it! (Fudge is supposed to be sweet! Duh!)

Cinnamon Bread turned into muffins!

I next tried the Sloppy Joes recipe (page 154). Here I did some serious ingredient replacing because I did not have the called-for ‘Bull’s-Eye Original Barbecue Sauce’. I used HP sauce instead. I know, I know! But it was the closest substitute I had! Actually, I thought it was pretty good but my daughter wasn’t crazy about it. I think it was too spicy and not tomato-y enough for her. I plan to make it again with the proper ingredients.

Another recipe I tried was the Pumpkin Bread (page 45). It was delicious but I found it more like a cake than a bread. It’s made in a bundt or tube pan. The texture was definitely cake-like, denser than a loaf would be. This might very well have been my fault for not creaming the butter and sugar longer than I did and therefore not beating enough air into the batter. (Ok, I was impatient). Despite that, the Pumpkin Bread was a hit with my family.

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms lives up to its title. The recipes are fast and most have easy to find ingredients that many people already have in their cupboards. For me, the only thing missing from this cookbook are photos of some of the dishes. I like seeing a picture of the final product. Other than that, though, I have no complaints and I do think this book would make a very nice birthday or holiday gift for a favourite teacher or a friend.

You can visit the author’s website here.

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

First published in 1995, this novel is being re-released by House of Anansi this month. Quoting from the Chapters website:

Help Me, Jacques Cousteau presents the life and times of Hazel and her brother Andrew, who are born into an extraordinary family. Hazel's experiences, at once odd and completely believable, involve a diverse cast of family members who share only one thing: a penchant for eccentric behaviour. In this fascinating portrait of a dysfunctional family, Adamson demonstrates her powerful prose style, uniquely combining a scientist's loving attention to detail, a comic's unerring delivery, and a poet's sublime ear.

I think that must be the original cover. Seems dated and sort of a school-book version or perhaps small press-ish. But if this book is anything like The Outlander, I'm going to love it!

Books Bought and Blogger Meet-up

My friend Cindy hosts this weekly meme. You can see her latest Books Bought meme here.

Last week, Cindy, Linda and I went to Chapters to see Kelley Armstrong speak. She is the author of several series – the Otherworld, Darkest Powers (a YA urban fantasy series) and a mystery series.

We managed to get good seats in the 2nd row for Kelley’s talk and Q & A. She was funny and engaging and gave great answers to some pretty interesting questions. Kelley mentioned that she ‘bribes’ her audiences to ask questions and had several giveaways for audience members who did. All three of us, Cindy, Linda and myself, had our hands raised but I happened to be chosen while there were still items to give away and I received a Frostbitten t-shirt! I doubt that Kelley needed to worry about giveaways however, since people were still raising their hands after all had been given out.

Kelley Armstrong reading from Frostbitten

Before she arrived, a staff person told the audience that Chapters wanted to give Kelley a gift and a journal was passed among the audience who wrote short (well, most were short) messages to the author. We didn’t get to see the journal presented to her but I hope it brought an interesting end to the evening for her.

Cindy speaking to Kelley and getting her books signed

Linda getting her books signed

Linda, Cindy and I made our way to the café upstairs and found a table overlooking the autographing area. Kelley was still signing books well after we left our table and resumed our browsing.

We were just getting ready to leave when another blogger walked in to Chapters. Cindy had mentioned that Lucy, whose blog is Enchanted by Josephine, might drop in. It was great that we were still there and able to chat for five minutes. I took Cindy, Lucy and Linda’s picture. I’m not fond of being in pictures myself but I do like taking them!

Cindy, Lucy and Linda

These are the books I bought during our meet-up:

By Kelley Armstrong:

Industrial Magic
The Summoning
The Awakening

By Cassandra Clare:

City of Bones
City of Ashes


The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received just one book last week:

Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby. I’m really looking forward to reading this one – I love Christmas stories!

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received just this one book last week. I've been reading Out Stealing Horses but this one by Thad Carhart looked really good and I couldn't help myself - I read the first page and then the next - and now I'm well into it! Love this story!

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