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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Excerpt/Spotlight: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Hey guys! So back in April, I went to FanExpo Vancouver which was AMAZING and while I was there I met an author by the name of Iain Reading, who wrote adventure novels about a girl detective! I was intrigued and grabbed his card and then being me, lost his card. But then a couple of months later I was contacted, asking if I'd like to do a feature of his book! So of course I said yes, as I love supporting Canadian books and authors! So read on if you want to find out more about this awesome sounding adventure series!

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

Back Where The Entire Adventure Began
As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn't possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, "Empty," they weren't kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn't worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn't the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
"Exactly," the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying 'I-told-you-so' kind of voices. "What do you do now?"
"First, I am going to stay calm," I replied. "And think this through."
"You'd better think fast," the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. "If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is.  Don't forget that you're almost out of fuel."
"Thanks a lot," I replied. "You're a big help."
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
"Mayday, mayday, mayday," I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. "This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over."
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I'd had, the friends I'd made, the beauty I'd experienced, the differences and similarities I'd discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, "my epic flight almost around the entire world," in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.
"Okay," I thought to myself. "Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through." I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I'd ever flown. Every emergency I'd ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.
Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
"It's been a good run at least," the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. "You've had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime."
"That's it!" I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began.

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series. For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books People Tell Me I NEED to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.This week's topic  is: Top Ten Books People Tell Me I Need to Read.

1. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – My friend Michelle and a few of her bookish friends who work with her cannot stop talking about this book! And at one point when I met up with them, they were all telling me I needed to read it, so I'm quite curious about that!

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – I know this is a huge favourite for a lot of people, but I'm so hesitant to read it... I've been on page 40 something for ages now.

3. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – there's a girl who works at my favourite bookstore who constantly tells me I need to read this!

4. The Archived by Victoria Schwab – I know this is one that everyone seemed to love last year.

5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – Don't even get me started.

6. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare – See above. 

7. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa – I own this but haven't gotten around to it, even though everyone always says it's amazing!

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – *cringes* I know, I know. 

9. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – wowowow do I ever hear "you need to read this!!!"

10.   The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – Well isn't this book just crazy hyped. I get it, I need to read this. 

Anywho, those are some books I hear a lot of "you HAVE to read this" about! Leave me a link to your TTT and I'll check it out :)

Happy reading!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

Author: Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Page Count:  307 pages, Hardback
Date Published: May 15th 2014
Find it on Goodreads: Everything Leads to You
Source: Purchased eBook

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Nina LaCour wowed me with The Disenchantments but this book completely blew me away. Definitely in my top 3 favourites this year so far, Everything Leads to You was touching and magical and real and all of these things at once. The imagery was phenomenal. LaCour painted perfect pictures in my mind and I could see exactly what Emi was envisioning; everything was so vivid. I've always loved set design and how one piece of furniture can change the mood, so it was interesting reading about a character so passionate about this. There was also a really great girl friendship in this between Emi and her best friend which is always awesome! There wasn't any pointless girl drama, just two best friends who loved each other dearly and helped each other every day.

I loved that this book wasn't a coming out story... Emi already knew her sexuality and so did Ava, so it didn't focus on the fact that they were two girls. It was about two people falling in love. And yes, this book is fluffy and crazy romantic and all that, but it was also more. Emi and Ava's love story was beautiful, but it was also filled with painful truths, realizations about the meaning of family, and the fact that real life is a little less dramatic than the movies, but doesn't have to be any less magical. While a quick read and probably really light for a lot of people, this book got to me in a lot of ways that are maybe too personal at the moment, but I appreciated reading nonetheless. My heart is smiling but also is sad and I just loved loved loved this book more than I can describe. Absolutely a new favourite of mine and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a sweet romance with awesome female characters.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Guest Post: Censorship in YA by Jessica Verdi

Hey guys! So I had a bit of a blunder yesterday when I came across an email from May that contained a super awesome guest post that completely flew under my radar and got lost in the vast sea that is my inbox. I felt like a complete dud, so I emailed the author, Jessica Verdi, and asked if I could post it now! So here it is!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Kristy! I was hoping I could use this opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the issue of censorship in YA.

Really, this could be a one-sentence blog post: I think censorship in YA is complete and total crap. The end. Haha.

No, really, I am of the firm belief that teens are “ready” for and able to “understand” a lot more than the world sometimes gives them credit for. Today’s young people are the people who will be taking over the world—and very soon. They are people who are more open-minded than the generations that came before them. They are people who have a world of information at their fingertips and are looking for ways to make their mark. Of anyone, THESE are the people who need real, honest, diverse books to read.

This past November, I spoke on the LGBTQ panel at the ALAN conference in Boston. Earlier in the day, Laurie Halse Anderson gave a speech where she told the story of one of her biggest fans, a little boy who loves her book Chains, which is about a young slave girl in early America. As Anderson pointed out in her speech, this young reader could not be living a more different life than the character in the book—he’s male, she’s female. He’s white, she’s black. He’s free, she’s a slave. He’s living in 2014, she’s living in 1776. They have nothing in common, but he wants to understand her story anyway.

THAT’S why we need to keep writing books for young people that are real and true and uncensored. The only way for our world to become a better place is for tomorrow’s generation to have more understanding and compassion than those who came before them. And how are they going to understand other people’s lives and have compassion for others who may or may not have had different experiences than them if we don’t give them the opportunity to be exposed to it?

I think book banning is one of the worst things we can possibly do. Its only purpose is to keep information away from the people who want and need it. The book banners have no interest in helping the world become a more compassionate place; instead, they want things to remain the same. Which, in many cases, isn’t a good thing. Luckily, eBooks and the Internet exist now—even if a local library or school prohibits students from reading a particular book, they ultimately can’t stop that student from accessing the book on his or her own.

When I first realized I was going to have the opportunity to have my novels published, I knew I was being given a voice. It might be a very small voice, and not that many people may listen, but some will. And I knew I needed to use that voice to talk about things I think are important, and shed light on issues that teens are dealing with every single day, but that are going largely ignored in our media and literature. My goal is to start conversations, and get readers thinking. I want teens who may be going through the experiences depicted in my books to know they’re not alone, and that there are people who care about them. And I hope teens who aren’t familiar with these particular experiences will at least start to understand them, and feel compassion toward those who are.

Someone recently asked me if there was anything I encountered in my research for The Summer I Wasn’t Me that I felt was TOO much to put into the book. And I said no, because just as I don’t believe in censoring what teens are and are not allowed to read, I don’t believe in censoring the cold, hard facts of the worlds I’m writing about. I feel no desire to protect the people who run conversion camps; rather, I want my characters’ experiences to be as real as those of a real life teen who might be sent to one of these places. Because the only way we can really understand each other is if we’re truthful.

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, tattoos, and her dog. Jessica is also the author of My Life After Now.

Happy reading and thanks for the thoughts Jessica!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

On Feeling Guilty About Being Saddened by the Death of a Celebrity

I have a lot of thoughts and emotions going through my head right now. Sadness, frustration, guilt, confusion.... I wasn't too sure how to sort them all out, so I decided to blog. As you may know, a famous actor and comedian by the name of Robin Williams passed away on August the 11th. Now, I haven't read many articles on it, so I don't really know how it happened, (though I have heard it was a suicide,) but what I do know is how affected I was by it and then how guilty I felt after being affected so deeply by it.

I suppose I should start somewhat at the beginning.

When I was in grade 10, I had the pleasure of being in English honours. I had worked my butt off to get into this class, as it was the only honours class my school offered that wasn't for sciences or maths, and when I got in, I was ecstatic. All I ever heard was how amazing the class was and how great the teacher was, so on the first day of school, I stepped into the classroom and was greeted with Star Wars and Beatles posters, quotes plastered all over the walls, bookshelves galore, and my favourite thing: a bust of William Shakespeare. My teacher, who I'll just call Mr. J, was energetic and exuberant and a bit erratic and a few days after getting settled into regular classroom stuff, he put on a movie that would end up being an immensely important part of my history in school. The movie was Dead Poet's Society, starring Robin Williams as the inspiring Mr. Keating, an English teacher at a strict boarding school for boys.

 No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. x

 I won't get into too much detail about the film, as if you have not seen it, I strongly recommend that you do go watch it. However, after completing the movie in class, I was completely moved and astounded by how much the story and the characters had affected me and how much it opened my mind. That right there was the general theme of the entire class: opening your mind, being an individual, living life to the fullest. During this semester, I was going through some intense difficulties in my personal life due to some stuff that I haven't really ever shared on here and am not sure if I'm brave enough to, but that's beside the point. After watching it once in class, I found myself rewatching DPS over and over again and soaking in all of the words that Mr. Keating spoke. Robin Williams' voice still rings through my head with these words when I'm feeling like I can't accomplish my dreams, like my words don't matter and that I'll never be able to be a writer. And that is why I felt so devastatingly sad when I heard about his death and why I'm still feeling down as I'm writing this.

But then, I read an article talking about how a celebrity's death should not be the biggest thing in the 'world's' collective sadness when there is so much tragedy going on in the rest of the world right now. And I felt immediately guilty for my previous feelings of sadness. I was thinking, why should I be upset about this man who's passed away, I never even knew him, his death should not affect me the way it has. I should be thinking more about what's going on across the world, about the women and children who are suffering and the wars that are going on... The article made some excellent points about the way our society revolves around the lives and deaths of celebrities. But my guilt does not erase my sadness.

Yes, it is important to have knowledge of what is happening in the world, especially the tragedies and the struggles of our fellow people. I will never, ever dispute that, because it is knowledge that is power and with that knowledge we can speak out and hope to reach others. We should be saddened by the deaths of the children that happen every day due to cruelty and war and we must acknowledge the sufferings of the men and women who live every day in fear that their lives will be taken in the name of a war that they have no part in. However, we can also take a moment, or even a few, to be saddened by the loss of a celebrity that helped you in some way, or made you laugh, or starred in a favourite movie, or whatever it may be. Part of being human is connecting with people, characters, and stories and when an actor dies, it's like those connections are being torn and you must remind yourself that the story is still there, the character is still there and the effect that that it has on you doesn't have to change just because the person who brought it to life has passed away. You should cherish the feelings that the story brings to you, the laughter, the tears. It's those things that remind us that we're human, that we love, that we feel, that we connect. And we should never feel guilty about any of that. I will always love DPS and always remember it as the movie that kept me going and I will always remember that Robin Williams, comedic genius, was one of the people that kept me writing. I am constantly saddened by the events that happen in these countries that are not as fortunate as the one I live in and I desperately want to figure out if I can do something to help. But we must remember that if you are saddened by the death of a public figure, it does not mean you're a bad person or that you don't care about the world.... It just means you've been affected by this person. That's it and that is perfectly okay.

Okay, that's that. I don't know if I even wrote anything coherent at all... I probably ended up saying a bunch of stuff that I didn't really mean to, but you know what? I'm exhausted and need to get this published before I delete it all out of fear.

Happy reading everybody! And rest in peace, Robin Williams. Thank you for the countless laughs, thank you for the tears, and thank you for the infinite amount of inspiration and encouragement. Oh Captain, my captain, you will be missed.


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