Saturday, October 30, 2010

HP Trailer: It's Worse Then Being a Kid on Christmas Eve

When you were little did you have a favorite stuffed bear or blanket that made you feel safe whenever your fear of the monsters in your closet got to be to great? Is there a favorite book that you escaped to whenever reality just wasn't enough? Did you ever let yourself wonder for hours in fantastical daydreams just because you felt like it?

When I was younger I had a stuffed bear named, Bear (how original) who kept watch by my shoulder ready to alert me at the first sign of monsters but it wasn't until I read Harry Potter years ago that I finally found THAT series of books that allows me to escape whenever I feel link into a world that is so magical it takes my breath away. The books and movies alike have become my security blanket. I am 28 blah blah, there are no monsters under my bed (yes there are)......Well the point is if I haven't stressed it enough over the past nine months of blogging is that I love Harry Potter. I watch it when my husband is away on business just so I can sleep, I pick up the very first book just so I can hang with Potter as he discovers the magical world of Witches and Wizards in Diagon Alley, I dress up as a Hogwarts students occasionally just because I feel like it and I often find myself daydreaming that I grew up in that world and I am now a professor at the school or a dark magic catcher.

The entire point of this post is that I found another HPDH trailer. With just 20 days to go I am beyond excited and if this trailer in addition to the others accurately represents the quality of the film we are in for a treat. I think it may just be the best of them all. I promise you that your going to get sick of my HP posts. I just started reading the final book in preparation for watching the movie. I believe I do a pretty good job of separating the books from the movies but I still like to have a "refresher" before the movie comes out.  Either way it is my intention to do a post about how much I love the book at some point in the next two weeks. Also when the movie comes out I plan to do a (hopefully) gushing post on how fantastic it is.

Enough of me without a further waste of your time I give you the newest HP trailer (if you haven't already seen it).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Title: Immortal Beloved 
Author: Cate Tiernan
Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Published: September 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover $18.99
Age Group: Young Adult
Copy: Provided by publisher

Click here to browse inside this book


Nastasya has spent the last century living as a spoiled, drugged-out party girl. She feels nothing and cares for no one. But when she witnesses her best friend, a Dark Immortal, torture a human, she realizes something's got to change. She seeks refuge at a rehab for wayward immortals, where she meets the gorgeous, undeniably sexy Reyn, who seems inexplicably linked to her past.

Nastasya finally begins to deal with life, and even feels safe--until the night she learns that someone wants her dead.

My Review: 

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan was a captivating coming of age story but with a unique and intriguing twist.  Somewhere within the first few chapters I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the main character Nastasya or "Nasty" as she is known by her friends, is actually a 400 year old immortal not just another teenage vampire.  The concept of immortals in this novel is slightly difficult to explain but the best comparison I can think of is immortals of the likes you find in the Highlander series. 

As a protagonist Nasty is witty, sarcastic and childish despite the four centuries she has under her belt.  In the beginning I didn't find her altogether believable or likable but I was so captivated by the story that I couldn't put the book down.  As the novel progressed and I learned more about Nasty's history, I began to invest in her as a character and chapter by chapter she grew on me. 

The vast majority of this novel takes place in a rehab facility for immortals and the characters you meet there are quite interesting.  I enjoyed the magical element that is introduced while Nasty is at the rehab center and as she is taken by visions of her past and the truth about who she was/is is slowly revealed my love of Immortal Beloved solidified.

I would be remiss in my duties as a book reviewer if I didn't mention the romantic element of this novel.  Reyn is an interesting love interest in that he sends very mixed signals about his interest in Nasty a la Bella and Edward.  There relationship becomes much more complex as the mystery of their past relationship is revealed through Nasty's visions. 

My only bone to pick with this novel is the same one I have to pick with all books about immortals written for young adults. Although they may be incredibly entertaining the amount of teenage angst present in the young adult "immortal" characters is not believable because I believe that after centuries of life experience (love, loss, death, joy, pain, etc) you likely would not be an angsty childish individual. With that said without the angst what would there be for us to identify with and alas the book would not appeal so much to young adult and myself. Its a bit of a catch 22.

If you are looking for a novel that has something other then vampires, werewolves and faeries to offer this is the next book for you. The ending of this book left things wide open for the next installment.  I look forward to reading more about Nasty's unique history and if after discovering the truth about her heritage if her personality begins to reflect the maturity that should come with the life experiences she has endured.  

My Rating: 4/5

Monday, October 18, 2010

Interview With Anne Fortier (Juliet)

I am excited to post my interview today with author Anne Fortier, author of the fantastic novel Juliet.  Thanks very much to Shannon at Harper Collins for arranging this opportunity. For more information about the author please see the authors web site, for my review of Juliet click here and to brows inside the book and read the first few chapters please click here.

The Book Guru sends out a big warm welcome to Anne Fortier!

TBG:  It is my understanding that the research for Juliet was a collaborative effort between you and your mother.  With half of your novel taking place in 1340 and the other in present time I can hardly imagine the volume of research you had accumulated in addition to your own ideas for the story.  How did you keep yourself organized through the writing process?  How long did it take to write the book from the initial idea to the last revision?  Was it an emotional journey for you?

Anne: I can’t tell you how many times I have been rifling through boxes and stacks of paper in search of some important article or research note from my mother, which I knew was somewhere … It’s true that a lot of research has gone into the book, but the ratio of research that did not make it into the book is even more frightening. I would say it’s at least 20:1. I started writing the book in 2005, but most of that year was spent doing initial research; through 2006 and 2007 I wrote the bulk of it, and in  2008 I entered the editing process with my agent. So, if I got the idea in March 2005, and made the absolutely final corrections by June 2010 … that means the book was underway for over five years. And yes, it was quite emotional, especially when I had to say goodbye to characters along the way.

TBG: After reading Juliet I was struck how fluid the transitions were between the chapters that took place in the past and the chapters that took place in the present.  Was it difficult to weave together your tale of the “true” story of Romeo and Juliet with the story of Julie Jacobs?

Anne: I always knew that if I were to write a novel that went back and forth between different story-lines, it would have to be a big priority for me to make the transitions smooth, and to make sure both narratives were easily accessible and instantly appealing, so that the reader wouldn’t skip chapters along the way. I confess I am a chapter-skipper myself, and it always annoys me, so I was very determined to address that problem. What is interesting is that it was actually surprisingly natural for me to switch back and forth, probably because both narratives are set in Siena, and because a lot of the characters are “mirrored” across time. That said, I did tend to write a few modern-day chapters in a row before going back and picking up the 1340 storyline. I found it quite hard to flip from writing flirtatious banter between Julie and Alessandro to going back and describing the bloody events in the “original” Romeo & Juliet-story.

TBG:  I have read that growing up you spent a lot of time reading curled up in an armchair.  Who are your favorite authors/novels and does any of the material you have read over the years inspire the types of stories you like to write?

Anne: I always loved treasure hunts, and some of my favorite books growing up were Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and books of the “Famous Five”-variety. But I also liked alternative worlds such as the Narnia-book by C.S. Lewis. However, I think it was a very good thing that I also read very wholesome, down-to-earth books, such as “The Little House on the Prairie” and all the very wonderful books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Apart from “Pippi Longstocking” Lindgren wrote a lot of very wholesome books about children growing up in small towns and farming communities, and her stories really add to my own fond memories of childhood. As an adult, I have been inspired by books such as John Fowles’ “The Magus” and Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum”, as well as Katherine Neville’s “The Eight”. And lately I have discovered Jane Johnson’s “The Tenth Gift”, and can’t wait to read her new book, “The Salt Road”. Most of these books straddle several genres and can best be classified as “adventures” – my favorites!

TBG: The characters in your story leapt right off the page for me and by the end of the novel I felt as though the protagonist Julie was a dear friend.  Are any of your characters inspired by real people?  If so are they aware which character is inspired by them?  If not what how do your characters come to be?

Anne: There is no question all the characters are inspired by real people, but only rarely are they modeled after one person in particular. I was probably always a bit of a “collector” when it comes to people-watching; I have a pretty expansive mental archive for voices and human behavior, and this is what I draw on when I write. In my first novel, which was published in Denmark in 2005, one character was a potent mix of my mother, my grandfather’s house-keeper, and my wild imagination, and I remember my mother being somewhat disgruntled, because she could recognize herself in the character, but felt I had made her too shrill and ridiculous. It was very difficult to explain that, yes, it was her, but no, it was also not her, and so I definitely learned a lot from that experience. In JULIET the characters are such composites that I hope no one will recognize themselves, unless, of course, it is a compliment.

TBG: There is a growing trend of books being made into movies and for the most part I love watching my favorite novels come to life on the big screen.  Have you been approached by any production companies regarding turning Juliet into a movie? If you have not, would this be a direction you would like to see Juliet go? And because I am curious, if you have thought about this, is there any particular actress/actor that you have imagined playing Julie, Romeo, or Giulietta? 

Anne: Right now there is a producer in Hollywood who is trying to get a JULIET film off the ground. Her name is Cathy Konrad, and she is married to the director, James Mangold, who recently did “Knight and Day”. I am hopeful they will find a screenwriter soon, and would absolutely love to see JULIET on the silver screen! I think someone like Anne Hathaway would be a fantastic Julie, and I would love for Alessandro to be played by the Italian actor, Raoul Bova, who starred in “Alien vs. Predator” of all things. I imagine Andy Garcia would make a great Umberto, and of course, I wrote the part of Eva Maria for Sophia Loren. As for the 1340-narrative, I think it should be enacted by an all-Italian cast speaking Italian. But we shall see.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Juliet by Anne Fortier

Title: Juliet
Author: Anne Fortier
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover (29.99 CDN)
Age Group: Adult

Copy: Provided by publisher
Extra: Click here to browse inside


When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure.Soon she is launched on a precarious journey into the true history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo turned medieval Siena upside down. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse -- “A plague on both your houses!” -- is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems the only one who can save her from her fate is Romeo . . . .but where is he?

Full of sleeping potions, secret processions, and the glorious Italian countryside,Juliet is at heart an epic romance that proves that love is strong enough to conquer even death.

My Review: 

I came upon this book by chance while browsing the shelves of my local book store back in February 2009. After reading the synopsis of the novel I beelined it to the front of the store only to discover that the book had been left out by mistake and was not for resale as it was an advanced readers copy.  Upon seeing my disappointment the owner of the store told me I was welcome to take the book home if I truly wanted it.  

With a cup of tea and a warm blanket wrapped around me I began to read Juliet.  From the first chapter to the last I was ensnared in an epic story of  love, hope, tragedy, mystery, betrayal, history and magic. 

In Juliet, Anne Fortier takes the traditional Shakespearian tale of Romeo and Juliet, turns it upside down and re-tells it in an unique and modern way. The story beings in America where the protagonist Julie Jacobs discovers a family mystery that takes her across the world  to the romantic Sienna Italy where her life will be forever changed. Here she begins a journey that will uncover the truth of her family heritage and that of what really happened long ago between the true Romeo and Giuletta. 

The story of Julie/Giuletta unfolds in two centuries, Julies own and that of the original Romeo and Giuletta.  As a protagonist Julie is full of depth, heart, courage and tenacity but she truly came alive for me when she discovers her modern day Romeo.

I was impressed by how fluid the transitions were between chapters, centuries  and narrators. Her ability to weave a romantic and mysterious love story captured my heart within the first few chapters. This novel crosses genres and should be a must read for anyone who loves mysteries, love stories and historical fiction. 

Thank you to both my local book store for loaning me my first copy of Juliet and to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of my very own.

My Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Published: August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover ($18.99 CDN)
Age Group: Young Adult

Click here to browse inside the book
Copy provided by publisher


Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

My Review: 

My favorite thing about Paranormalcy was Evie.  She's genuine, honest, funny, sassy, loves pink and names her weapons.  She is also lost and a little bit flawed which makes her all the more believable and lovable as a character. My second favorite thing about Parnormalcy is Evie's new love interest, Lend the shape-shifter. For most of us paranormal/urban fantasy junkies, the term "shifter" usually refers to a person who can turn into an animal but in Parnormalcy this is not the case (I am not giving anymore about Lend away you'll have to read it to find out for yourself!). 

Kiersten White's character description has enough depth to make the characters believable and kept me turning the pages one after the other until suddenly the book was over. After checking out Kiersten White's website I may not be far off in saying Evie's sass and humour are at least in part a reflection of Kiersten's own personality.

I love the little twists that Kiersten does on "traditional" paranormal myths and I was left wanting a little more description of the world she had created in Paranormalcy. With that said a lot of readers find that to much description actually takes away form the story and they become bored with it. I on the other hand usually enjoy a thorough description of EVERYTHING.

To sum it all up, I love the plot, the characters, the flow of Kiersten's writing  and  Kiersten's twist on the paranormal but I want more of all of it. Lucky for me there are two sequels to follow with the next installment, Supernaturally due out Fall 2011.

My Rating: 4/5