Cover Reveal: Falling for Alice

2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. To celebrate, here’s the cover for Falling for Alice, a new young adult anthology from Vine Leaves Press.

Falling for Alice
Dawn Dalton | Shari Green | Denise Jaden | Kittiy Keswick | Cady Vance
April 24, 2015 | Vine Leaves Press

New Alice. New Wonderland. New stories ​to love. 
From ​the modern Alice dumped in the Aquarian ​Age of the late sixties, to the ​present day Alice, tormented by body image and emotional issues, to the Alice of the future, launched forward through time and space, FALLING FOR ALICE offers five fresh takes on ​Lewis​ Carroll’s classic tale. For 150 years, people all over the world have fallen under Alice in Wonderland’s spell. ​Now, follow five Young Adult authors down the rabbit hole to discover Alice like you’ve never seen her before. One thing is certain—this is not your mother’s Alice.

…aaaaand here’s the cover!!

Falling for Alice

Enter to win 1 of 5 prizes including: a copy of Falling For Alice, an e-copy of Denise Jarden’s Foreign Exchange, a copy of the Spirted anthology, a copy of Killer Instinct by Dawn Dalton and Judith Graves, or One of Cady Vance’s books in e-book format.
Enter here to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The authors each answered a little birthday questions for me! Here’s what they each had to say.

Question: What is the one party game that is absolutely essential at every birthday party?

Answers:

Dawn Dalton: It’s a terrible game, and absolutely inappropriate, but we’ve become somewhat addicted to Cards Against Humanity. For the past year, we’ve played it for every (adult) birthday in our circle of friends.

Shari Green: That game where everyone disperses and finds a quiet corner to curl up with a book for a while…That’s a party game, right?

Denise Jaden: I’d love to say spin the bottle, but I’m married. LOL. So instead I’d vote for Scruples (a morality game)—you really get to know your party guests well through this one!

Katy Keswick: Weirdly, I like trivia games so I’d probably make everyone play Trivia Pursuit. (The other games that came to mind involved quarters and ping pong balls.)

Cady Vance: I don’t actually know if anyone plays this, but I’m certain it’s essential. Harry Potter charades. Preferably played with every guest wearing a House scarf.

 

Learn more about Falling for Alice at: www.fallingforaliceanthology.com

Or check it out on Goodreads

Twitter: @Falling4Alice

Book Club No. 3

18444233Title: Gast

Author: Carol Swain

Publisher: Fantographic Books

Publication Date: July 2014

ISBN: 9781606997550

Gast

 

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Helen is an amateur bird watcher and naturalist who lives in a rural community in Wales. When a local farmer Bill tells Helen that a rare bird named Emrys killed himself at Cuddig farm, she decides to investigate. One of the dogs at the farm tells her, by way of explanation, that Emrys had no feathers and couldn’t fly. She plucks an old cosmetic kit from a dumpster and discovers it belonged to Emrys. Inventorying the kit s contents, she finds a spent .12 gauge shotgun shell. Her attempt to learn more about Emrys turns into a journey of self-discovery and ultimately a hard-fought reconciliation with the world as it is. Carol Swain’s Gast is the rare kind of contemporary graphic novel critics are conjuring when they exult over the promise of the art form a philosophically mature vision, uniquely executed by an artist wholly in control of her craft. In Gast, Helen s inner life is slowly revealed through a mixture of naturalistic detail and phantasmagoric occurrences.
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Gast tells the story of a pre-teen girl, new to a neighbourhood, who discovers the farm of a neighbour who recently committed suicide. An amateur birdwatcher, curious about her surroundings, Helen, is curious to get to understand the man, Emrys, who used to wear women’s makeup and had a strict daily routine. Helen learns about this man and his life through the animals on his farm. She forms friendships and attachments with Emrys dogs, his ram, and the birds on the farm.

The art of this story is so minimal, but so meaningful. There is very little dialogue, but a lot is said through the images and the silence. Helen discovers a lot not only her neighbour, but about the world and the society that surrounds her through her investigations. She begins to understand how people are connected, but that not everything in life is always wonderful and happy. She learns that there are people who struggle through life. She learns that things are not always perfect. But Helen also understands that everyone always has people who are there for them whether it be friends or family. Gast is a story wherein Helen first begins to understand the true complexities of adulthood.

The charcoal captures the essence of the story: quiet, subtle, grey, and full of contemplation. This story really couldn’t be told quite the same way with any other medium. There is no excess. Everything in this story has a purpose and a meaning. Gast is sad and raw, and a very beautiful story of coming of age and learning about the world.

Funky Cover Friday

Hello all! It’s Funky Cover Friday once again. As you all probably know at this point, I’m a fan of any cover that can also be considered art wort. The cover for The Things We Thought We Saw in the Water by C. Frazier Jones could be a very melancholy print. Any time I see a book cover that could be framed on my wall at home, I’m immediately drawn to it. As was the case with this book. I’ve added Jones’ collection of stories to my to-read list on Goodreads. I was drawn to the book’s page because of this cover. It’s one I wanted to share with all of you.

What do you think? Do you like Jones’ cover? Do you prefer covers that can double as a work of art or do you prefer covers that are more text heavy?

23731257Things We Thought We Saw in the Water | C. Frazier Jones | 9780984347797 | October 2014

Music Review: The Census

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I’m going to try something a little bit different here for once, so bear with me. This EP just rolled across my desk and after giving it a listen (I’m always looking for a great new Canadian band to add to my playlist), I just had to share these guys with you. Who are they? The Census.

The Census is: Aaron Beaudrow, Aaron Brown, Alex Boothby, Brad Azzano and Zach Anderson

The Midnight Bus is the first release from London, Ontario originating band, The Census. Grown in a raw, youthful, fun-loving university town, this EP stands up strong against the many indie Canadian bands. These guys make an excellent case for themselves with this newly released EP.

“Cruisin'” starts off this EP with a sound that  makes me crave for summertime. Imagine driving down through the country, fields on either side of the road, the blue sky stretched out overhead. This is the song that’s playing on that trip. The melody is catchy and the instrumentals are smooth, juxtaposing nicely with the gravelly voice of the vocalist. This song is a reminder to just sit back, relax, and enjoy. They’ve got it right with this one: “You gotta cruise to survive.”

I love “Riverboat Gambler.” It’s the perfect blend of rock, bluegrass, and blues. The melody really jumped out at me with this one. I’m a huge sucker for a good banjo (and now mandolin as well!) and this one’s actually got a slight zydeco influence as well. The vocals in this song are so soulful and a bit woeful as well.

“Greenheart” is very Irish. It’s very reminiscent of Spirit of the West’s “Home for a Rest.” It pulled at my heart strings, calling me back to the homeland (yes, there’s some Irish in me way back somewhere). As a twenty-something recent graduate trying to get my life off the ground, these lyrics one gave me a chuckle because they summed it up right, “I can’t afford a mortgage, I can afford a car, I spent all of my money, on whiskey at the bar.” This is a love song the Emerald Isle, saturated deep with whisky.

The Census has a distinct, honest, and essentially Canadian style. Their raw voices and their love of drinking brought the waves of nostalgia for university living right back to me. It reminds me of the enjoyment we used to have, the wild abandon and the search for something more. Their songs grasp the essence of what it is to be a young adult, growing up in Canada. This EP reminds me of the freshness and excitement of life, especially those first years away from home, finding friends, staying up all night, and just living life.

Check out these classy gents on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCensus

And Twitter: @theCensusBand

Instagram: @thecensusband

The price is pay what you choose. Click here to order: The Midnight Bus.

 

Review: The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

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*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada!*

Title: The Fifth Gospel

Author: Ian Caldwell

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 9781451694147

The Fifth Gospel

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 2004, as Pope John Paul’s reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome. The same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a married Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son.
When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in the robbery, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation into both crimes. His only hope of finding the killer is to reconstruct the dead curator’s final secret: what the four Christian gospels—and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel named the Diatessaron—reveal about the Church’s most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend’s death, a secretive tribunal is convened to try the murder—and when Father Alex learns the identity of the accused, he is devastated. Now he must navigate the ancient and perilous legal system of the Catholic Church, which offers no presumption of innocence, no jury, and no right to face one’s accuser. As evidence vanishes and witnesses refuse to testify, Father Alex realizes the system is controlled by someone with vested stakes in the exhibit—someone he must outwit to survive.

—–

There seems to be a lot of hype for The Fifth Gospel since it’s been 10 years in the making and Caldwells first novel, The Rule of Four was quite popular.  I hate to be the one who didn’t like it, but this book just didn’t cut it for me. It took me way too long to get through it. I’m always up for a good thriller, especially one steeped in religious conspiracy, but The Fifth Gospel, for me, moved slowly and struggled to hold my attention. Granted, I will state, for the record, that this book was given the unfortunate time slot of being read while I moved and got settled into a new apartment, so perhaps it didn’t get the attention from me that it deserved.

The mystery of the story surrounds the death of curator Ugolino Nogara and his search to prove the authenticity of the previously disproved Shroud of Turin. The facts and the exploration of religious artifacts are more than fascinating. They build a gripping story of biblical history, thievery, murder, and scandal. But as I stated before, I had a hard time staying focused on the plot and the slow points of the story seemed to never end for me. I also struggled with the character of Alex. While I admired his courage, his loyalty, his devotion for his son, his capacity for forgiveness, his dedication and devotion, and his deep love for his brother, I found his actions generally to be rash and not thought out. He rarely seems to think through the consequences, to the point where is actions may have dire impact on the murder trial taking place. I can see that he’s driven by the shock of the whole situation that’s affecting all of those close to him. However I often found his actions hard to believe.

Overall, not really my taste of book. I was hoping I’d be pleasantly surprised, but I really couldn’t get into it. I hope you enjoy The Fifth Gospel more than I did.

 

 

Funky Cover Friday

I know, I’m sorry I’ve slacked off with these fantabulous cover posts! My life has been a whirlwind these past few months. I recently moved into a new apartment so it’s been a flurry of apartment hunting, viewings, and then moving and organizing. It’s hard enough to keep up reading and reviewing consistently, but my love of books TRUMPS ALL!

But back to it! This Funky Cover Friday I want to talk about a cover for an upcoming book from RandomHouse: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant. Now those of you  who follow me on social media know that this is a title that I’m especially looking forward to. It’s been 10 years (10 years!) since Never Let Me Go. About time, Ishiguro. About time.

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Ishiguro called this story “the story of a marriage.” Axl and Beatrice set out in search of their lost son and on their journey rediscover their forgotten love for one another.

This cover is really contemplative and quiet. Ishiguro’s covers don’t need more than this. It’s simple, it’s artistic, and it’s beautiful. Plus, I love the font used for the title. It’s reminiscent of medieval  texts and brings to mind a sense of folklore and fantasy.

The Buried Giant | Kazuo Ishiguro | Random House | 9780345809407 | March 3, 2015

Review: If I Fall, If I Die

21462154Title: If I Fall, If I Die

Author: Michael Christie

Publisher: Hogarth, The Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: January 13, 2015

ISBN: 9780804140805

If I Fall, If I Die

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will’s art projects. Soon the confines of his world close in on Will. Despite his mother’s protestations, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces Will to skateboarding. Will welcomes his new world with enthusiasm, his fears fading and his body hardening with each new bump, scrape, and fall. But life quickly gets complicated. When a local boy goes missing, Will and Jonah want to uncover what happened. They embark on an extraordinary adventure that pulls Will far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood and the dangers that everyday life offers. If I Fall, if I Die is a remarkable debut full of dazzling prose, unforgettable characters, and a poignant and heartfelt depiction of coming of age.
——-
If I Fall, If I Die starts out so strongly. A woman wracked with anxiety raises her son Inside. The world is Outside. It’s something to be feared. Outside is a place where people are constantly in danger, only an instant from death. Will grows up afraid. His mother’s fears dictate what he plays with, what he sees, what he can do around the home. He trusts in her instinct and it’s only as he grows older that his curiosity begins to grow. The world Outside becomes necessary to navigate as Will grows up into an adolescent.

The story of Will’s mother’s anxiety is absolutely fascinating. She’s caught, paralyzed in a world of fear. Her anxiety overwhelms her. Christie offers us a glimpse into her mind, sharing with us the overwhelming terror and the helplessness this woman faces. She transfers a lot of anxieties to her son and as a reader, it’s captivating to observe this little boy who grows up completely sheltered and isolated. It’s sad to see him alone, yet he’s perfectly happy and innocent, and in his mother’s eyes, totally safe.

It’s quite soon after Will ventures Outside that I began to lose interest. Christie is an excellent writer. He conveys mental illness in a way that is so vivid and real. He puts you right in the heads of his characters. But for me, Wills adventures on the outside become absurd for a young boy of twelve or thirteen. He unknowingly, while searching for a boy that he thinks is his friend, gets involved in a crime ring in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The men who operate this illegal grain alcohol business seem to have no issue killing little kids all over the place. It seemed very Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys to me: a little cheesy and a kid solving crimes in very not plausible way.

I found Titus to be the most obvious character. It felt like the author was trying to make it a big mystery who Titus is, but I saw exactly who he was right from the moment he’s first introduced. The way that he’s brought into the story is very abrupt and he suddenly becomes a main character. I won’t ruin the story by giving away who Titus is, but you’ll know immediately. I wish that he’d been disguised a bit better. I like being surprised or caught off guard in a story, but you can see Titus coming from a mile away.

Overall, not a bad story. The anxiety and the way that Christie gets you inside each character’s head is quite well done. I didn’t love If I Fall, If I Die, but I didn’t hate it. It was just an ok read.