Friday, December 23, 2011

Books I am looking forward to next year and Happy Holidays!

 For the next week or so I will not be updating my blog (not like I'm doing a great job this month anyways). The holidays are simply a busy time, and I probably just won't get a chance to relax. It's all in good fun though. I thought I'd just share with you some Christmas cat pictures and then talk about some books that are coming out next year that I am super excited about. Feel free to tell me what you can't wait for in the comments section. Happy Holidays to all my readers!

I'm going to try not to include books that I have ARCs of or have done WOWs for, because clearly I'm already excited for them. There are hundreds of books I'm looking forward to next year, but here's some highlights of that list! Click on the title will bring you to Goodreads so you can add it to your TBR list too!
Parts of series
Endlessly by Kiersten White
I don't want the story to end, but can't wait to see what happens.
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Across the Universe was one of my Favorites from 2011 and I can not wait to read this follow-up.
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Even though I didn't love Delirium, it left me wanting more.
Until I Die by Amy Plum
Loved Die For Me.
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting
Yes. I love this series and am super curious to see how this one ends.
Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel
I am dying to read this one, I loved Infinite Days and really want to know if my suspicions about the ending are correct!
Timepiece by Myra McEntire
Hourglass was fun and I want more!
Perception by Kim Harrington
I adore Clare and can't wait to see what awaits her in the next book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Yes I have already per-ordered this. No I don't want to talk about how many copies.
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony
This novel is mixed media and I am very interested to see how well it is done.
Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr
I love short stories and faeries. That title and cover don't hurt either.
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Invincible Summer is my favorite book of 2011, of course I want more from Hannah!
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
First, that cover is AMAZING, second it sounds really intriguing.

I know I'm probably missing a million, but you'll see what I'm reading in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: The Shattering - Karen Healey

Where I got it: ARC from publisher for review
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (I love the color, but other than that...meh.)  
Genre: Young Adult 
Publication Date: September 5, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 311 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

When Keri's brother commits suicide, her whole family is devastated. She doesn't understand how this could have happened. Janna's brother had committed suicide too, but she tells Keri she thinks they may have been murdered. Janna knows a boy, Sione, who's brother killed himself too, and he thinks it was murder. There's a pattern to the boys that have been killing themselves, and there's something suspicious about that. The three must come together to figure out what is going on in Summerton and possibly save another young boy from certain death.

This was a really interesting novel. There were a few twists I was not expecting, even though I had read Guardian of the Dead. The story unfolded in three perspectives. We followed Keri in 1st person and Sione and Janna in 3rd. It was interesting watching things unfold from so many different viewpoints, especially when things started to get hairy. If you like mystery and action, make sure you don't skip this one. Despite how much I enjoyed this novel though, it seemed to drag a bit. It felt like I was reading it for forever and not getting any further with the book. Maybe it was just my mood. Maybe it was because there is tons of information in this little book. I love Karen Healey's writing and the story is just fantastic. You can easily get wrapped up in the characters and the chaos that surrounds them as they try to prove to themselves that their brothers didn't really commit suicide. Ir's a touchy subject, but it's handle well and never gets to be too depressing. I can't wait to see what Healey has next for us!

First Line:
"The first time I broke my arm, I was ready for it."

Favorite Line:
"Takeshi smiled straight across the long, light-filled room, and her heart expanded in her chest like an inflatable air bed."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox #115

In My Mailbox brought to you by The Story Siren
Gift from Big Honcho Media
The people over at BHM sent me a Starbucks giftcard which is super sweet. Thanks!
For Review from Ksenia and Zoe, Thanks!
Struck - Jennifer Bosworth
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her. 
Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come. 
Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Of Poseidon - Anna Banks
Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish. 
What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

52 Reasons to Hate My Father - Jessica Brody
If she wants to receive her beloved trust fund, every week for the next year, seventeen-year-old Lexi Larrabee must take on a different low-income job. All 52 jobs have been carefully pre-selected by her father himself. 
What Lexi doesn’t know is that each job was at one point held by one of world’s most influential people. The goal is to teach his daughter a few lessons about life, compassion, work ethic, and the value of a hard-earned dollar. If each of these jobs eventually led to wealth and success, at least one of them has to work for Lexi. 
Left with no other choice, Lexi grudgingly sets off on her quest, each week being comically presented with a highly undesirable job. All of them are designed to turn Lexi into an entirely different person.

Monument 14 - Emmy Laybourne
 Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 
A huge store isn’t the worst place to be stranded. There’s food and water, bedding and books. But what if it’s not safe to leave? Emmy Laybourne had us from the get-go with her utterly fresh and fast-paced debut.  Six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids are trapped together in a chain superstore. Together they build a refuge for themselves inside, while outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapon spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

To Catch a Mermaid - Suzanne Selfors
Boom Broom doesn't think his life could get any worse. Ever since his mother was swept away by a twister, his family has gone crazy. They refuse to leave the house and Halvor, the Viking descendant who rents the room over their garage, will only cook fish for Boom and his sister Mertyle to eat.When Boom finds a baby mermaid who seems to grant unlimited wishes, he thinks his luck has turned around. That is, until his sister is hit by the curse of the merfolk and starts to turn green. Now Boom and his best friend Winger must find a way to return the foul-tempered merbaby to its mother and save Mertyle before it is too late.

Bought for Amazon Kindle App
The First Time - Various Authors

So that's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Favorites #5

This week I'm highlighting my 8 favorite book quotes from this year. Enjoy!
“I want to tell her not to speak, want to say it, but her lips are on mine again and I taste me and I taste her and I don't taste what we're saying and I don't taste Noah. I taste Camus—I owe to such evenings the idea I have of innocence.”
“In my mind I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, everything collapses.” 
“My eyes break open. Two shattered windows filling my mouth with glass.”
“Hello and good-bye are not as simple as everyone thinks.” 
“Cushions had been sliced apart and were bleeding stuffing onto the floor.” 
“I'd choked back so many tears, they'd become a lake of sadness in my belly.” 
“The story you choose to tell isn't always the story you believe.”
“Colt has the subtlety of a car alarm.”

What are some of your favorite book quotes of the year?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Mariko Tamaki

1. Which character did you enjoy writing more, Emiko or Skim? Which one did you relate to better?

It was a very different writing process for the two characters.  Skim was a character I'd had bouncing around for a while. I'd had this idea to write up a goth character that was a little less dramatic, a little less patent leather and a little more NIN t-shirt, than the goth characters I'd seen.  Also Skim was written in a diary format, so the text is a lot more subtle and also a little more personal.  Emiko Superstar was created specifically for MINX.  With ES it was more about the overall story, of a girl in this Factory performance theatre like setting, although the character certainly evolved throughout the writing process.

2. Both of your YA graphic novels are about girls that are half Asian. Which nationalities are you a mixture of? 

I am Japanese Canadian.  My mother is "white" and my father is Japanese.  I think that has certainly had an influence on the character choices I make, if only because I don't automatically assume them to be white.  Or skinny.  Or anything else really.  That said, I don't think you could say that my works provide any real cultural portrait of Japanese Canadianness.  Which may have something to do with me and my background.  I didn't even realize I was Japanese until I was in Grade 2.

3. Was your writing process any different between working with your cousin and working with Steve Rolston?

Very.  Skim was my first graphic novel.  It was also my co-creator and cousin Jillian Tamaki's first.  So we just sort of did what felt comfortable and familiar.  I had a background in theatre and so the script is very much a theatre script.  It was written in scenes and acts, the actual description of the setting was very minimal.  Mostly to give a sense of where the scene was taking place, with a few cultural references included - mostly My So Called Life and Degrassi.  My focus was really on the narration and the dialogue.  DC Comics, who published Emiko Superstar, had a very formatted version of both their script and editing process.  Their scripts are VERY descriptive, like movie scripts, with each visual described in great detail.  Everything has to be approved, page by page, by several people, which requires a lot of clarification.  So with Steve (Rolston) I sent over some very detailed pages.  I will say that for both comics, though, my focus was never on the final visuals so even with the script I handed Steve there were lots of changes Steve made throughout the editing process.  

4. What's your favorite part in Skim or Emiko Superstar?
Hmmm.  It changes.  I really like the confrontation scenes in the last act of Skim.  Skim's discussion of Romeo and Juliet, and her thoughts on the suicide/love story in that work, were pretty fundamental to the story for me.  Plus I just love the double date scene and how it's drawn.  I mean, I love how the whole book was constructed by Jillian and for some reason that particular scene ALWAYS cracks me up.

Emiko Superstar has a ton of illustrations of performance art type stuff I really enjoy.  One of my favourite exercises in that work involved me dreaming up a crazy costume and getting Steve to bring it to life.  Which he did.  Many times.

5. What is one book you've read recently that you recommend to everyone?

Let's see.  I read Tales from The Goon Squad recently and I absolutely loved it.  I think a lot of people did.  It is truly an incredible book.  Very intricate.  Complicated.  Overall I am always recommending creative non-fiction.  The collection New Kings of Non-Fiction ed by Ira Glass is my personal fav.

6. Do you have anything you're working on right now?

Yes.  I just finished edits on my next Young Adult Novel to be published by Penguin Books Canada.  It's called (You) Set Me on Fire, it's about a girl in her freshman year at college.  Jillian Tamaki and I are working on a new graphic novel with First Second (US) and Groundwood Books (CAN). The book will be called Awago Beach Babies.

7. Anything else you'd like to say to everyone?

Yes.  Follow me on Twitter @marikotamaki and you can also check out my blog at
If you do those things, you'll see I have lots to say :)

Thanks so much for stopping by Mariko!
Readers, you can click to check out my reviews of Emiko Superstar and Skim. Brief summary...go buy them and read them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: Tris & Izzie - Mette Ivie Harrison

Where I got it: AmazonVine for review
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (Just so amazing. I love it!)
Genre: Young Adult 
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Egmont USA
Page Count: 262 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

Izzie feels like she has found her other half in Mark. He's nice and funny and just an all around great guy. When she notices that her friend seems to be wishing for love too, she decides to use some magic. Izzie's mom is a witch, and no one is really supposed to know about magic. Izzie's friend Branna knows and Izzie figures a love philtre is just the thing to get her to stop moping about. Izzie meets Tris later that day and thinks he would be perfect for her friend. Tris drinks the potion, but Branna won't. Mark tries to take a swig, but Izzie chugs the whole thing so that her boyfriend doesn't fall in love with Tris. Unfortunately, this is what happens to Izzie. Not only does she have to battle her feelings for Tris, there are lots of monsters coming to get her, and she needs to figure out how to find some magic to stop them.

As a magical adventure story, the novel wasn't half bad. As a re-telling of Tristan and Isolde however, it fell a little short for me. There wasn't a whole lot of romance. A re-telling of the greatest romance that was and it was nearly void of emotion. It was just a bit disappointing. I did like all the ways Harrison snuck little pieces of the original into her re-telling. The black sails and the love potion and the names. Izzie and Branna were sort of annoying characters. Izzie was just so blind to everything that was going on around her. There were some things that were completely obvious, but she was just too stuck in her own world. Branna was sort of a back-stabbing best friend. I mean, you can't help how you feel, but she was pretty wicked about things during this book. It went above and beyond just going for what you want. Mark and Tris were sort of flat characters. You got the smallest bit of background on them and I just couldn't really make them into full characters in my head. If you go into this book expecting nothing, or at least not having read the original tales, I think you will love it. It had magic and adventure and an interesting story line. I did feel like it was going to be a series, while I was reading it, until the epilogue. There is still room for more story, but the epilogue sort of killed a direct sequel. All in all it was an interesting little read, but if you're expecting romance, seek elsewhere.

First Line:
"Mark caught me in a big hug from behind as I closed my locker."

Favorite Line:
"We kissed then, and it was a kiss full of fire and magic."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: Skim - Mariko Tamaki

Where I got it: Interlibrary Loan
Rating: 3 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (It's the same as the interior art work which is great, and the colors are eye-catching. I don't know if I would be drawn to this cover though.)  
Genre: Young Adult 
Publication Date: February 23, 2010
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Page Count: 144 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

Kim aka "Skim" is not really all that skim. She's mostly goth, nearly Wiccan and 100% sixteen. She attends and all girl private school with a really great English teacher, Ms. Archer. Ms. Archer and Kim start meeting secretly, but soon thereafter, Ms. Archer disappears without a trace. Kim feels heartbroken. This all happens around the same time that the whole school is mourning over a classmates ex-boyfriend's suicide. He may have killed himself because he was gay, but he may have just killed himself for other reasons. Kim's friend is no help in all this, she's too full of herself. Kim might just find herself drifting away and finding herself in a different friendship, something better.

Kim is stuck in the throes of adolescence. She has all these feelings and is growing in a different direction than her younger self, but has no desire to let go of things the way they used to be. This was a great story of growing up and apart. Kim is sixteen years old and sees her life ahead of her and sees her life now, and knows that the two are very different and that in order to be happy she has to make some changes. I like how you get to see a lot of perspectives of the school. There are people grieving a boy they never knew while the ex-girlfriend slowly closes herself off and then there is Kim, not really part of that world directly but still a part of it by default location. The illustrations in this story were really interesting, they sort of remind me of the traditional Japanese art you see in books. It really made the story work nicely. This was a fantastic coming of age tale and you should definitely check it out. Kim goes through a lot of emotions that are easy to relate to, so this book is totally relatable even if you aren't into Wicca or go to private school.

First Lines:
"Dear Diary, 
Today Lisa said, 'Everyone is unique.'
That is not unique!!"

Favorite Line:
"I rode the bus all the way to the end of the line and back again."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review: The Future of Us - Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It's pretty nifty. I like the vagueness of their faces, but how their appearances match the characters.)  
Genre: Young Adult 
Publication Date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count: 356 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

Back in 1996, most homes don't have a computer and no one has ever heard of Facebook. Emma and Josh have been neighbors and friends for a long time, so when Emma gets a personal computer, Josh brings over an AOL CD for internet. When Emma installs the disc though, another screen pops up with someone of the same name, but 15 years older. Emma thinks it's a coincidence until she starts finding out more about the woman's past. Josh thinks it might be a prank, but Emma knows it's real. They can view their future lives on this Facebook thing. Everything they do now will affect the outcome of their future. For some the future looks great how it is, but can they put their feelings aside for a great outcome, or do they have to live in the here and now?

This was an interesting kickback to the 90's. I was not 16 in 1996, but I hung out with a lot of teenagers, and even if you were in school in the 90's this book may bring back some memories. Oh, the days of dial-up and AOL were long days filled with the static-y beeping of the internet connecting. Nostalgia aside though this was a great story about friends and relationships. I just wish Emma wasn't such a twit. This is a classic girl is twit, guy loves her anyway because he's just swell and they've known each other forever. Many times I wanted to smack her, I wanted to smack Josh plenty too, but Emma mostly. One thing the drives me crazy is when people won't just tell the each other how they are feeling. Nothing dramatic, just something like "Hey, I hate that we fought yesterday, let's be friends again," is that so hard? Regardless this was a fun read. There's plenty of nostalgia and laughs and awkward moments. It's like being in high school and talking to friends. You'll reminisce, you'll laugh, you'll cry and the whole time you'll be enjoying it. Check this one out soon, I'll be looking forward to more stories by both these authors.

First Line:
"I can't break up with Graham today, even though I told my friends I'd do it the next time I saw him."

Favorite Lines:
"'Truthfully, his hair was the only thing that made him hot,' I say. 'Now he looks like a peach lollipop.'"


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