Home  |  Reviews  |  Vlogs  |  Interviews  |  Guest Posts  |  Fairy Tales  |  Jane Austen  |  Memes  |  Policies

Friday, May 27, 2016

SECOND CHANCE BOOKS | #TheFridayFive | Book Chat

Following up (finally!) to our last Chat on bookish letdowns, today we're talking about the books or authors that were *originally* letdowns, but that were redeemed with a second chance!
This chat is also part of my Friday Five meme, so if you want to see more of those, you can check them out here; and if you missed the Bookish Letdowns chat, click here!

Oh, and bee tee dubs, there's a poll in the video about a potential upcoming chat! So be all democratic and stuff and make your voice known!*

*Unless you're Trump. Then you can just really be quiet, pls.


Ice (vs. 2 other retellings)
Drink, Slay, Love
The Raven Boys
The Scorpio Races
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies:
Beauty Queens
The Diviners

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It All Came out for the Best | guest post from Maria Grace, author of The Trouble to Check Her!

You guys already know I love me some Maria Grace. She's been a fixture of Austen in August / Jane in June since pretty much the beginning (including those interviews), and she always comes up with the best stuff to talk about or share with you! I love when people are passionate about anything, tbh, but if the thing they're passionate is Jane Austen? Well, friend for life, right? Obvs. And when that person is willing to share that passionate, spread it around, then we have a winner, folks. ^_^
Today, celebrate the follow-up to the first Queen of Rosings Parks books, Mistaking Her Character, , which I thought nailed the art of adaptation, Maria's dropping in to talk about tackling the Lydia Problem in The Trouble to Check Her, This is something a little near and dear to my heart -- afterall, I do have a habit of defending Austen's "bitches". . .
I'll be sharing some of my thoughts in a video soon, and my full thoughts in this year's Austen in August, but until then -- take it away, Maria!

Don’t ever doubt that writers become attached to their characters. We do! They spent months, even years in our heads, talking to us, teasing us, sometimes lying to us, usually bossing us around and taking joy in making us utterly crazy.
I know Lydia certainly did in the process of writing her story. Now that it’s wrapped up and out there for the world to see, she invited me to tea to talk over our adventures of the past year.
The maid showed me into the parlor where tea things were already laid out. Lydia looked up at me with that smile that everyone says looks just like Elizabeth’s.
“I am glad you are come. I thought perhaps you would not wish to, that I might have worn out your patience by now.” She gestured toward a dainty chair, certainly set out specifically for my use.
The cream and blue upholstery was pulled so tight the chair was more bouncy than it was soft, but I could hardly refuse so gracious an invitation. “I was a little surprised to hear from you. I had rather thought you would be glad to be done with me.”
“Tea? You prefer hibiscus if I recall correctly.”
“I do. I’m surprise you would have noticed such a thing.”
She cocked her eyebrow at me, knowing just how well I knew the expression. “I did just spend the better part of eighteen months, I think, in your head. Did I not? One notices things after a while.”
I took the proffered tea cup, filled with the vibrant pink tea I favor.
“I am surprised you would need to ask.”
She handed me the sugar, “I do not, but it is the polite form, is it not?”
“I suppose so.”
“Ah, no, now you prevaricate. I know well that you are most attentive to such things. Do your sons not regularly roll their eyes at you for your admonitions at the dinner table? What was the last thing you told them? Something about not taking bites big enough to feed a small tenant village on my father’s estate?”
Luckily, raising teenaged boys left me prepared for such statements and I did not spit hot pink tea out all over her pretty drawing room. “Was I wrong?”
“I said no such thing.” She sipped her tea daintily. “I merely found it an amusing way of addressing the issue.”
“Not too many people call me amusing.”
“No? I suppose they do not know you as well as I.” Lydia winked.
“Indeed? What might you find so amusing about me?”
I probably should not have asked, as Lydia would have no hesitation to tell me what I probably didn’t really want to know.
“Quite a bit, if truth be told! Where might I begin? Perhaps with your tendency to start three new projects for every one that you finish—or do not finish as the case may be. How many book projects did you write notes on just yesterday? No less than fourteen I believe it was.”
“Something like that.”
“And at least four other projects?”
“I would think you be more appreciative of that trait, considering that is how you came to be where you are now.”
“You never did ask me whether or not I wanted to be reformed.” Her eyes twinkled.
“I never asked my sons if they wanted to have good manners, either.”
“Another oversight on your part.”
“My daughter-in-law disagrees. She is quite satisfied with the results of my efforts.” I placed my tea cup on the table and folded my arms across my chest. This was getting serious.
“You imply I should be, too.”
“I did provide you a happy ending, as I recall. You gave me fits through the process, though. Most ungrateful it seems.”
“Of course I did. What else did you expect? Is that not why you were so reluctant to take up my tale in the first place? As I recall I had to perform a great deal of wheedling to convince you not to leave me a dangling epilogue, forgotten by readers as soon as they closed the book.”
“So that was wheedling? Funny, I would have called it tormenting.”
She shrugged. “It accomplished the purpose, and now we both have something to show for it, do we not? You a new book, I a new reputation. It seems it all came out for the best.”
“I am glad you are satisfied. It would have been much easier getting to this point had you bothered to be forthright with me in the first place.”
“You must be joking? Share all my secrets with you so easily? I have been written as unredeemable and ridiculous often enough. You needed to earn my trust first.” She glared at me over her teacup.
“I suppose you have a point.”
“You must admit, you painted me quite the ungrateful nit in the first chapters.”
“Was I inaccurate?” I set my teacup down.
“It was not a complimentary portrayal.”
“You did not answer my question. Was I wrong or unfair to you?”
Her lips wrinkle up into a pout—an expression she had not used since the early chapters of my book. “I suppose not.”
“Well then, you should not complain. Especially when you consider how many people are rooting for you now.”
“Truly? I had no idea.” The coy expression in her eyes begged otherwise.
“You love the attention and accolades.”
“That is not true. I enjoy the attention. I love Mr. Amberson.” Her eyes sparkled just a bit.
“I stand corrected.”
“I have heard that some are asking for more: wat happens to us, and Annabelle, Juliana and Sir Anthony in Derby…”
I winced, knowing that tone of voice all too well. “I believe I have stayed too long, it is time for me to go.” Before she started wheedling and whining and pleading.
“Must you, our visit has only just begun.” She rose and shut the parlor door, leaning against it, looking anything but casual.
Oh dear, this could become troublesome. But I do have fourteen other projects line up, right?

About the Book:
Get It | Add It
288 pages
Published March 30th 2016 by White Soup Press
Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

About the Author:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

BOOK & BEAUTY HAUL | April 2016

Welp, we're halfway through May and I'm only just managing to upload my April haul... Spring-Fever-Idontwannawork has definitely struck...
ANYWAY, here's a look at some of the goodies that came my way in April, and so far, May is off to a cracking start, so look forward to *that* haul in a couple of weeks!

Also... LAWNMOWERS. -_-

Vassa in the Night
The Sleeping Prince
Crow Mountain
The Trouble to Check Her
Rat Queens, vol One
Saga, vol One

L'Oreal EverPure vox box from influenster
Tarte Glam Goodies set (includes Tartelette Tease palette, lip paint in 'tbt' and lash paint mascara)
Tarte Make a Splash skincare set (includes Marine Boosting Mist, Deep Dive Cleansing Gel, and Drink H2O Hydrating Boost)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though the books (from publishers) and the L'Oreal hair care products (from Influenster) were received as PR samples, for review purposes, as stated. This in no way changes my opinion of them.

MUSIC: Otis McDonald, "Scarlet Fire"

Friday, May 6, 2016

Children's Book Week: John Patrick Green Interviews Faith Erin Hicks!

It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are!  We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week with a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love.  Follow along throughout the week to see some of your favorite comics creators – and meet new ones, too!

Today, the CBW graphic novel lovefest continues on with a chat between Hippopotamister'John Patrick Green and The Nameless City's Faith Erin Hicks. You can see my thoughts on The Nameless City (amazing! gorgeous!) here, but first, lets dive in and find out what inspired this awesome comic and it's awesome-r creator!

• Where did your inspirations for The Nameless City come from? How has this project been different from your other books, like Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong?

The Nameless City had a bunch of inspirations, some from history, some from stories I love and wanted to emulate. After I finished drawing Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, I really wanted to try a different kind of comic. I'd done two graphic novels set in contemporary high schools, and wanted a new challenge. I decided to draw on a certain period in Chinese history (the Yuan Dynasty of 13th century China) that I was interested in, as well as inspiration from three of my favourite stories of the past twenty years: Bone by Jeff Smith, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the animated TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. I wanted to create something that made my readers feel a little bit the way I felt when I was reading Bone and Fullmetal Alchemist, or watching Avatar. I wanted to make a comic where characters had to deal with complex stakes, and there was action and adventure, and I could really challenge myself as an artist.

• Do you work traditional 9-5 hours, or have a quirky routine? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or have the TV on, or doodle while curled up in a window nook, or work at odd hours? How does a cat factor into making comics?

I try my best to keep a regular schedule, because it allows me to get the most work done. I get up at 7:30, eat breakfast, exercise and then work until supper. I listen to podcasts, music and audiobooks from my local library while I work. If I'm inking my pages, I'll have Netflix on. I like to watch TV shows with lots of talking, so sitcoms like Friends or procedurals like Elementary or The Good Wife. I have to work at a desk; I haven't yet mastered the art of drawing comics while slouched on a couch. The cat is my co-worker, sort of. She bugs me throughout the day, and reminds me to take breaks.

The Nameless City will keep you busy for awhile, but what other types of stories or topics are you interested in tackling through comics?

I'm interested in everything, really. Comics, and especially the graphic novel format, are a relatively new medium, and I'd love to see more diversity of stories told through comics. I'd like to see more science fiction, more realistic fiction for kids and adults, more stories about different kinds of people flourish in the comics medium. I look at the diversity of Young Adult prose books, and I'd like to see that in comics. For me personally, I'd like to maybe make a comic someday that has romance in it (I've never done that), or science fiction. I'd also like to make a comic about girls and horses, because I loved riding when I was a kid. There are so many more stories I'd like to tell in comics.

• How did you get into comics? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer and illustrator of graphic novels?

I read comics as a kid, mostly newspaper comics like Calvin & Hobbes, and French imports like Tintin and Asterix. I was super into webcomics when they first started getting popular on the internet, back in the early 2000s. And now I read pretty much any comic I can get my hands on (my local library helps with this habit a lot). I started making comics for fun when I was in my late teens, but never thought drawing them for a living was something I could actually do. I knew I loved drawing and writing, but paying my rent with it seemed impossible. Even now I can't believe this is my job!

• What is the most fun thing to draw, and what is the least fun (or hardest) thing to draw? What part of the comics process do you enjoy the most?

I know it seems silly, but my least favourite part of making comics is thumbnailing. A thumbnail is a quick, loose sketch of a comic page before you start drawing it. It helps you figure out the composition and pacing of a page. It's basically the work you have to do before you start the real work of drawing the comic, and I find it kind of boring. I just want to jump in and draw the page. My favourite part of drawing comics is inking. All of the hard work is done, and I just get to sit back and make the page I'm working on look gorgeous. I also get to watch a lot of Netflix, so that's fun.

• What are your favorite children's or comic books as a child, and what are you currently reading?

My favourite comics as a kid were probably the two I mentioned previously, Tintin and Asterix. I'm Canadian, and pretty much every library in all of Canada has those comics stocked. They're a staple of most Canadian kids' childhood. They're fun comics, well drawn, the stories well told. There are also practically no female characters in them, something that has motivated me as a cartoonist: I want to draw comics with awesome girl characters in them! And I'm grateful I get to do that. Currently I'm reading A Silent Voice, a Japanese comic by Yoshitoki Oima, and I just got an advance copy of Raina Telgemeier's newest graphic novel, Ghosts, in the mail yesterday! It looks gorgeous, and I'm really excited to dive into it.

Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd  – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier

About John Patrick Green
John Green grew up on Long Island and has worked in New York City ever since graduating from School of Visual Arts for Graphic Design in 1997. He was the comics consultant for Disney Adventures magazine, and in addition to Disney has written, illustrated, or otherwise worked on comics for Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Scholastic, DC Comics, and First Second Books. When not drawing comics John creates artwork for video games, such as Emerald City Confidential, Puzzle Bots, and Nearly Departed. See more of John's work at www.johngreenart.com.

About Faith Erin Hicks
Born in the wilds of British Columbia, the young Faith frolicked among the Sasquatch native to the province before moving to Ontario at age five. There she was homeschooled with her three brothers, and developed an unnatural passion for galloping around on horseback, though never without a proper helmet (because you only get one skull). After twenty years of suffering through Ontario’s obscenely hot summers, she migrated east, and now lives beside the other ocean in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She worked in animation for a bit, and now draws comics full time. She’s not sure how that happened either.

Friday, April 22, 2016


For this Friday Five / Book Chat / Tea Chat, we're talking about our biggest bookish letdowns -- those books that you really wanted to like, or had lots of recommendations for, but all of your high hopes were wasted...
Let me know your thoughts and picks in the comments!
And if you have requests or ideas for a future book or tea chat, please share them!

Reviews of the books I mentioned:
Hush, Hush
Carrier of the Mark
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I did like the rest of the series, though! They were NOT by Seth Graham-Smith...)
Belle and the Beau

Not reviewed, but mentioned in this video:
The Da Vinci Code

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First Impressions: Amnesia! Spies! The End of the World!

Alright, we're on to the second half of my recent batch of First Impressions! If you missed the first half, I took a look at a trio of upcoming fantasies, and they all seem pretty damn promising. Today we're checking out some things romanciful and quirkiful. Take a listen to my thoughts in the video, find out more about the books below, and let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments!


KEEP ME IN MIND by Jaime Reed

Available April 26th!
A girl who doesn't remember. A boy who can't forget her. A wise, witty, and heartbreaking love story for today's YA generation.

Ellia Dawson doesn't recognize the handsome boy who sits in tears by her hospital bed. But he's telling her that he's Liam McPherson, her boyfriend. Boyfriend? Ellia thinks in shock. She has no clue who Liam is, let alone whether or not she once loved him. She remembers her family, her friends, and the fact that she wants to be a fashion designer. But Liam is a big blank in her life.

Meanwhile, Liam is devastated that Ellia, the love of his life, who suffered an accident while they were running together on the beach, has lost her memory. He is desperate to win her back, rebuild what they once had, but Ellia keeps him at an arm's length. She's much more comfortable with a new boy she meets at the hospital, who understands more what she's going through. So Liam begins writing the story of the two of them, piecing together the past in the hopes of having a future with the girl he loves.

Told from alternating perspectives, this is a lyrical, clever, and surprising novel from Jaime Reed.

LOVE, LIES & SPIES by Cindy Anstey

Available April 19th!
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Available as of April 1st in the US; originally published in AUS 2014
Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Impressions: Everland, Steeplejack & Nighstruck!

I'm back for the next round of First Impressions, and this one is a two-parter! Today we'll be looking at some reccent & upcoming fantasies that have made their way to me, and tomorrow we've got some historical & contemporary romancifulness, and the end of the world (maybe).
Let me know your thoughts and which YOU most want to read in the comments!



Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, Ang for short, repairs the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm, the ethnically-diverse industrial capital of a land resembling Victorian South Africa. The city was built on the trade of luxorite, a priceless glowing mineral. When the Beacon, a historical icon made of luxorite, is stolen, it makes the headlines. But no one cares about the murder of Ang's new apprentice, Berrit—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician, who offers Ang a job investigating Berrit's death. On top of this, Ang struggles with the responsibility of caring for her sister's newborn child.

As political secrets unfold and racial tensions surrounding the Beacon's theft rise, Ang navigates the constricting traditions of her people, the murderous intentions of her former boss, and the conflicting impulses of a fledgling romance. With no one to help her except a savvy newspaper girl and a kindhearted herder from the savannah, Ang must resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city is plunged into chaos.

NIGHTSTRUCK by Jenna Black

=It starts with a cry in the night.

Becket, walking her dog one winter evening, fears it’s an abandoned baby left out in the cold. But it is something else—something evil—and it tricks Becket into opening a doorway to another realm, letting a darkness into our world, a corruption that begins transforming Philadelphia into a sinister and menacing version of itself…but only at night.

The changes are subtle at first, causing Becket to doubt her senses and her sanity. But soon the nightmarish truth is impossible to deny: By day, the city is just a city, but at night it literally comes alive with malevolent purpose. Brick and steel become bone, streetlights turn into gallows, and hungry alleys wait to snare mortal victims. Terrified citizens huddle indoors after dusk, as others succumb to the siren song of the night, letting their darker sides run wild.

Once, Becket’s biggest problems were living up to her police commissioner father’s high expectations and a secret crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. Now she must find a way to survive and protect her loved ones…before the darkness takes her as well.

EVERLAND by Wendy Spinale

Forget the story of Peter Pan you know. Because in Everland, the only way to grow up is to survive.

London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived are children, among them Gwen Darling and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey. They spend their nights scavenging and their days avoiding the ruthless Marauders -- the German Army led by Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer.

Unsure if the virus has spread past England's borders but desperate to leave, Captain Hook hunts for a cure, which he thinks can be found in one of the survivors. He and his Marauders stalk the streets snatching children for experimentation. None ever return. Until the day they grab Joanna. As Gwen sets out to save her, she meets a mysterious boy named Pete. Pete offers the assistance of his gang of Lost Boys and the fierce sharpshooter Bella, who have all been living in a city hidden underground. But in a place where help has a steep price and every promise is bound by blood, it will cost Gwen. And are she, Pete, the Lost Boys, and Bella enough to outsmart Captain Hook?

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though these books were sent to me as PR samples, for review consideration (should I choose to).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas | blog tour

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Get It | Add It
Contemporary Mystery/Thriller. 336 pages
Expected publication: April 19th 2016 by Delacorte
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

In the very near future, I have a Book Chat video coming out about the book trend of 2016 -- dark, gritty YA -- and Kara Thomas' The Darkest Corners could not be a more perfect example of that. It's part of a new wave of crime novels that eschews the lurid crime-porn approach of previous thrillers and mysteries, and instead seeks to really dig into the idea of good guys and bad guys, and play with reader perceptions and biases in fascinating and complex ways.

Building upon a familiar scenario (creepy serial killer + pretty young girls = Very Bad Things), and then slowly and steadily picking it apart, The Darkest Corners keeps the reader constantly doubting and guessing (and I say that as someone who is rarely kept guessing).  There are lots of twists and turns, false starts and sudden realizations, but it's all done in a very believable way, with excellent pacing; things are revealed at just the right moment to keep readers on their toes, and to keep the whodunit aspect fresh and present throughout, without ever feeling overdone or cheesy. Though there are a lot of suspects -- and a lot of suspicious things -- it's not really a  "Villain du Jour,"an inexpert attempt to twist things and shock the audience. Instead, it feels very authentic, in the way that communities who are faced with tragedies like this begin to question everyone and everything, and at the same time, turn a blind eye to any answers that hit a little too close to home.

Thomas pulls in real-life crime scenarios, grounding the story even more in something the audience can relate to and recognize (the Casey Anthony case, for example), and spins those real life influences into just-distorted-enough versions to hold up a mirror and reflect the reader's biases back at them; each successive reveal or piece of doubt makes the reader examine how easily things can be distorted, and how biases and extraneous circumstances can override impartial judgement and justice. And -- as the forward from editor Krista Marino points out -- how unreliable eyewitness accounts and memory can be, especially when the damning evidence is gathered through the eyes of a child.

What really elevates the story for me, though, is that it doesn't just rest on being an intriguing mystery, well-told, but also adds in fantastic depth through the character of  Tessa, her interactions (or lack thereof) with the people in her life, and the brokenness that so many of the characters deal with that's not even necessarily related to the murders. Though much of the problems in the book of course are related to the crimes and the feeling of insecurity and helplessness that resulted, there are problems outside of that, too, and Thomas doesn't ignore that. Real world, everyday problems like domestic and substance abuse, bad family situations, poverty, mental illness, etc., are all rolled up into the characters' lives and their responses to the murders, just as they would be in real life -- we none of us have just one problem to deal with, and all other problems don't cease to exist just because one bigger one has come along. Thomas uses this to build a story that feels very real and authentic, and much more related and rooted in reality than just another mystery novel. And all of it together builds tension and anxiety in a really good way -- my heart was actually pounding towards the end.*

I have a LOT more to say on this and a number of other gritty, dark YAs, so make sure to keep an eye out for the next Book Chat discussion (which is coming up in the very soonish). Until then, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Oh, and PS: Some of you may remember might excitement when I unboxed this book & shared its contents on instagram (seriously, some of the best marketing, ever); well, it gets better! The website for The Darkest Corners contains more of the newspaper clippings I was going on about, and a whole bunch of other stuff, too, making the book a more immersive experience! I would definitely recommend checking it out, if you end up reading this. The attention to detail is just. . . 👌

*I mean, obviously it was pounding. But you know what I mean. It was even poundinger.

Find out what else people are saying about The Darkest Corners on the rest of the blog tour!
3/14 Fresh Fiction
3/15 Jessabella Reads
3/16 Book Addict Confessions
3/17 Hollywood News Source
3/18 Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
3/19 Curling Up with a Good Book
3/20 Out of Time
3/21 Supernatural Snark
3/22 Live to Read, review
3/23 Dark Faerie Tales
3/24 Ex Libris
3/25 Reading with Cupcakes
3/26 The Reader Bee
3/27 The Eater of Books!
3/28 Reading Teen
3/29 Chapter by Chapter
3/30 Winter Haven Books
3/31 Once Upon A Twilight
4/1 Intellectual Recreation
4/2 The Hiding Spot
4/3 Carina Books
4/4 Cover Contessa
4/5 Me Read A Lot
4/6 The Writer Diaries
4/7 Whimsically Yours
4/8 Hook of a Book
4/9 Reading Nook Reviews
4/10 Downright Dystopian
4/11 Such A Novel Idea
4/12 Across the Words
4/13 Reviews From a Bookworm
4/14 Itching For Books
4/15 Waste Paper Prose
4/16 The Irish Banana
4/17 The Book Rat -- you are here!
4/18 YA Reads
4/19 No BS Book Review
4/20 Serenity’s Lovely Reads
4/21 Pandora’s Books

Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming April 2016 from Random House/Delacorte. She is also the author of the Prep School Confidential series from St. Martin's Griffin under the pen name Kara Taylor. Kara has written for Warner Brothers Television and currently writes full-time on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and rescue cat.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book as part of the official blog tour, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Face Off: The Wrath & the Dawn

Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn has been all over the blogosphere for some time now, and has been high on my list of to-gets for a roughly equal amount of time -- and that is due in no small part to the cover. Cliched admonitions aside, I absolutely do judge a book by its cover, and you do too. That is why we're all gathered here today, after all...
With the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, set to come out soon, TWATD has been all over my instagram feed (again), because the paperback has just been released -- along with a cover change-up. The lovely red Moroccan-ish overlay has been dropped to reveal the model beneath, along with a bumped up font (and the most gorgeous ampersand!). Now, as far as I can tell, this is a paperback-only change; the hardcover of TRATD appears to follow the style of the the first book's hardcover, and I would imagine that means the paperback version will then follow suit and ditch the overlay in favor of a model-centric cover, too. (At least, the only versions shown on Goodreads give this impression, as there is no "updated" model cover replacing the traditional cover.)
And frankly, I'm all for having version-specific changes: it allows the book to target different audiences while still allowing those of us who are anal to have matching sets (and those of us who are shallow, shallow book-cover-judgers to choose the set we find prettiest).
But the question still remains, which do we prefer. Which would you reach for, and/or which style would you most want to have a completed set of? Which one draws you in?
Which one did it better?
(And do you like the idea of consistent -- but different -- versions of the same book? 

Hardcover on the left, Paperback on the right

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you're curious about the results of our last FFO, not a lot of you weighed in (you should! my bad for forgetting to tweet it out...), but the UK version of Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer managed to pull out a win (though as Beth pointed out, it's a little Silence of the Lambs-y). I think it's really going to come down to what they look like in person, though, because I have a feeling that gilt-stamped US version is going to be a STUNNER in person.
(You can still go check it out and give your opinion, FYI. I'm really curious about people's impressions of this one.)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Upping My Audiobook Game

It seems like I've been saying this for ages now, but I really want to try to get into audiobooks more. There was a time when I was commuting, and it was kind of the perfect solution, but now that I don't commute anymore, all of the (potentially amazing) audiobooks I have hanging out in my Audible account are just sitting there, waiting  p  a  t  i  e  n  t  l  y  for me to read them. (Or "read" them, I guess!)

So when I got an email a few days ago, informing me that there was just an audiobook released of Emma Thompson (Emma Thompson!!) narrating Henry James' The Turn of the Screw (something I've been meaning to read for ages), it just once again drove home the fact that I really need to listen to more audiobooks.
(There's a proud tradition of amazing celebs reading classics, btw. Case in point, I have Anne Hathaway reading The Wizard of Oz and Alan Cumming & Tim Curry reading Dracula in my neglected Audible account. And there are so many more, all of which I want to get my hands on, but starting with The Turn of the Screw, because Emma Thompson? She. Is. Life.)

And as I said, I have some kickass audiobooks languishing in my account. I mean, I already "read" Exquisite Captive and Austentatious, and they were both amazingly narrated, but YOU GUYS: I also have audiobook copies of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, and Yes Please by Amy freaking Poehler, narrated by Amy freaking Poehler and a whole host of People Whose Names You'd Recognize, and okay, I kind of can't believe I haven't listened to it yet. What is wrong with me?

So I've been brainstorming ways to get more audiobookage into my life.
  1. An obvious one (and one that would be the most beneficial, I'd imagine) is listening to them at the gym, on walks with Marley, or any time generally exercise-y things are going on.

     And hey, if the book is really good, this would have the added benefit of making me actually want to go to the gym.  So this is a thing I should be doing. Besides, at my gym, I always seem to end up in front of the TV that has Food Network playing, and that just seems wrong.

  2. Also, cleaning is a thing I should do more of, and audiobooks could help with that.

    I REALLY need to heed my own advice on this one, because when I was listening to Austentatious, I found myself looking for more chores to do around the house, because I didn't want to stop listening yet, and just sitting on my bed doing nothing while I listened just felt weird. I'm a multi-tasker, people! But a cleaner, I am not, so I need all the help I can get with that one...

  3. And three? Well, this is where I draw a blank, and where you come in.

    There has to be more to my audiobook routine than just a reward for myself for doing boring stuff I don't want to do (though it is a really great reward, and surprisingly effectual!). So, I'm curious, for all of you audiobookers: when and where do YOU listen to audiobooks? Are you a zone out in the bath kind of listener? (Side note: my books would appreciate the switch to audio, seeing how many have been dropped in the tub over the years.) Do you listen as you try to fall asleep at night (a grown-ups bedtime story, of sorts)?

    And if you haven't yet tried an audiobook, or have been wanting (like me) to get more into them: What do you think would draw you in? And what's holding you back from trying them out right now?  [Psst! No, seriously, what are you waiting for? You can get a free audiobook of your choice literally right this moment. We could be listening to Yes Please together. Twinning!]
Tell me all your secrets and thoughts in the comments! And if you are into audiobooks, please tell me some good titles to listen to! A good narrator is make or break, so I definitely want to know which ones have won you over!

This post was sponsored by Audible, but for realsies, it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, especially as we draw closer to National Audiobook Month. If YOU'VE been thinking about audiobooks lately, too, or just want to know what all the hubbub is about, you can get a free one-month trial from Audible, including a book of your choice from over 180,000 titles, and maybe together, we can up our audiobook game! ^_^

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible. The opinions and text are all mine.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...