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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On Cliffhangers: guest post from Shari Becker, author of The Stellow Project

As we wind down the last couple of weeks before Austen in August starts [join in here], I have a number of reviews planned and some fun, non-Austeny guest posts planned -- so those of you who are not Janeites'd better soak it in while you can, because soon, it's going to be wall-to-wall Jane. ^_^
To that end, Shari Becker, author of The Stellow Project, joins us today to talk about those notorious instruments of glorious torture: the cliffhanger. 
Check it out below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

A cliffhanger is a literary device that has been used for almost as long as people have been telling stories. The very first known cliffhanger, "One Thousand and One Nights," a.k.a. Arabian Nights,traces back to the Ninth Century and is a collection of stories told by a young queen who postpones her execution by telling her husband a cliffhanger story every single night.

Some readers find cliffhanger (CH) endings annoying or frustrating after all the time theyve invested in reading the least the author could do is tell them how it ends, right? But I think CHs have a purpose. They keep us engaged, they keep us curious, and they keep us reading.

What CH haters dont realize is that all stories use CHs - even if its just to get you to read the next chapter. How many times have you read something like this?

She walked to the door and took a deep breath, put her hand on the doorknob and walked in.

(End Chapter.)

Thats a CH! Its a little CH, but its still a CH.

Many of todays popular YA books (especially series) have CH endings in one or more installments: The Golden Compass, Hunger Games, Divergent, Cinder, Delirium, The Iron King, and even Harry Potter all have endings that leave you wondering: what happens next?

The Giver (SPOILER ALERT) left me pacing for days, wondering whether or not Jonas died in the snow or found a new home. Lois Lowry deliberately left this question open, and The Giver went on to find its place in many school classrooms, where kids could ask themselves that same question and debate the answer. Lowry didnt write a sequel for six years, which suggests to me that when she first wrote it, it was supposed to stand on its own. Lowry wanted readers to finish the book wondering.

CHs are also used to keep readers reading sequels and trilogies. Laini Taylors Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a great CH example that closes one story and opens another. (SPOILER ALERT) The main character, Karou, comes to understand who or what she really is, offering the reader some closure. But then, she decides to take off, leaving behind her love. As a reader, we know (and hope) theres more to come.

In Uglies (SPOILER ALERT), Tally spends the entire book trying to avoid the very fate she knowingly walks into - by choice - in the end. The ending is totally ironic, and the reader is left shocked, mouth open. You just cant wait to read more.

This is not to say that all books need to have CH endings. A lot of novels wrap up with a concrete ending that feels perfectly fulfilling. I love those books, too.

And not all CHs make me want to read more either. Ive read plenty of first books in a series where I know that theres more, but I dont really care what happens next. I attribute that more to the writing, or a bad content match, than to the CH itself.

When a well-written book grabs my interest and leaves me with a dangling carrot, I cant stop myself from diving in again. Although shes more or less ended one segment of a story, its like the author has given me a gift by promising that there is more to come. Ive been known to obsess about CHs for months. Ill ask friends, What do you think?And then Ill debate them til I am red in the face if I think their theories are wrong. A great CH ending reminds me why I love to read; it opens my mind and my imagination, and gets me thinking. And isnt that the point?

The Stellow Project By Shari Becker
Get It | Add It
305 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Skyscape
When a killer storm unexpectedly hits Manhattan, seventeen-year-old Lilah Stellow’s dad insists that she and her younger sister, Flori, take refuge at their cabin in the mountains. But instead of joining them with the experimental drug that keeps Lilah alive, he disappears just as news reports name him as a prime suspect in an act of ecoterrorism.

As days pass without her medicine, Lilah finds herself teetering on the edge, caring for her sister, and growing increasingly certain they’re being watched. In her search for answers, Lilah is thrown into the center of a mystery involving an off-the-grid research facility and finds herself drawn in by Daniel, an intriguing boy who is the son of the lead scientist. As she dares to seek answers, Lilah slowly realizes that even the best intentions can go horribly wrong.
Shari Becker was born in Montreal, Quebec, and was raised speaking both English and French. As a child, she spent her summers in the Adirondack Mountains catching fireflies, minnows, and toads. She has an MA from New York University and has worked for Nickelodeon, for Disney-owned companies, and even for an Emmy Award–winning puppeteer. She is the author of two picture books, including Maxwell’s Mountain, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book. She now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband, their two daughters, and their dog. She loves lakes, but despises the bridges that run over them. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Next Five Books (2): Daughter of Deep Silence, The Accident Season & more!

Yesterday I shared with you what I thought of the last five books I read; today, it's time for a look at the next 5 books on my TBR/ And I gotta say, I'm pretty excited about them -- especially the one that snuck its way into the pile, which I've already started reading (and loving)!

Check out my current stack below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

First & Then | Emma Mills
Jane Austen's First Love | Syrie James
Daughter of Deep Silence | Carrie Ryan
A Curious Tale of the In-Between | Lauren DeStefano
The Accident Season |  Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Last Five Books: Rebel Belle, Silver in the Blood, Rebel Mechanics and more!

I flew through the first "The Next Five Books" stack (I actually finished these about a week ago, which means these 5 were read in a little over 2 weeks -- YAY. It feels really good to not be in a reading slump!), so now it's time to see what I thought of them!
The new stack will be up here on the blog tomorrow, but if you really can't wait, you can get a sneak peek of it here. ;)

(0:55) Rebel Mechanics |Shanna Swendson
(2:40) Silver in the Blood |Jessica Day George
(4:35) Suddenly Mrs Darcy |Jenetta James
(6:36) Mistaking Her Character |Maria Grace
(7:40) The Curious Word of Calpurnia Tate |Jacqueline Kelley
(8:25) Rebel Belle | Rachel Hawkins

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Books & Beauty & Hauls, Oh My! | Mail Bag

So, you know how I'd thought moving to a "mail bag" post rather than a monthly haul was going to be more manageable? Yeah... about that. 
(Also, those of you who follow me on instagram will know that I'm already working on a tidy little pile for the next mail bag.  Oops?  ^_^ )

So. Lots of stuffs. Thoughts? Tawk amongst yaselves in the comments (but really, talk to meeee!)

Landfall Freight box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SieLusa-XB8
Believarexic: http://amzn.to/1SEOcvy
Baby Lit: The Secret Garden (flower primer): http://amzn.to/1gQGBye
Baby Llit; Don Quixote (English to Spanish primer): http://amzn.to/1IkZcgf
Chemistry: http://amzn.to/1KmTBFF
Dreamstrider: http://amzn.to/1HM7JXT

Beauty & Stuff:
ColourPop: https://colourpop.com/
Lippie Stix in Heart On, Yazmin and Lumiere

Birchbox: https://www.birchbox.com/invite/heysexy
Stila Liquid Lipstick in "Bella"
Key West Aloe Save a Tan
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray
HAVVN Night Cream
Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner

Walmart Beauty Box: https://beautybox.walmart.com/
You & I perfume
Ken Paves shampoo & conditioner
Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy anti-dandruff shampoo
John Freida sea salt spray
Neutrogena Skin Boosters face cleanser
Nivea Soft moisturizing cream
Neutrogena Healthy Volume mascara
Jergens Natural Glow moisturizer
Aveeno SPF 30
NYC Big & Bold Precise eye liner

Sephora: www.sephora.com
Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick
CLINIQUE Turnaround Daytime Revitalizing Moisturizer
Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins™ Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream
plus samples

JustFab: http://www.justfab.com/invite/meh/
Marvin bag in the color "Orchid"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Austen in August Invitation!!

It's nearly that time of year again...

And it snuck up on me a bit this year. I mean, it always does, and even though I've been idly planning, I've mostly been distracted by Graphic Novel Week, and I realized today that it's LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY, OMG. Which means I'd better get an invitation post up, pronto!
So, that's right, Austen in August is right next month, folks! (Because that's when August is, fyi)
It snuck yes I know it's sneaked up on me so much, in fact, that I didn't even make a button for it yet, BUT GOOD NEWS, it's the same dates as last year, so last year's button kinda works. And I like it, I might just keep it...

SO, by now I think most of you know the drill (especially since I've had people emailing me for months asking to get involved... ;P), but just in case you're new 'round these parts:
What the Eff is AIA?

Well, funny you should ask...
The Deets:
  1. Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more! [See years one, twothreefour or mother-freaking five, because it's been half a decade, yo!] You can stop by any time during these 2 weeks and get lost in Austen. It's all very austentatious. . . alright, I'll stop now.
  2. It runs August 18th through August 31st, and everyone is welcome to participate. You can just read and comment on the daily posts, if you'd like, but  as always, I will also be welcoming guest posts. Wanna review or giveaway your favorite adaptation? Share your Top 5 MOJ (Moments of Jane)? Discuss why Edmund is actually totally a catch *gag*? I'd love to host your awesome post! Fill out the form below with what you'd like to do and I'll reserve a spot for you!
  3. Are you an Austenite author who wants to be involved? EMAIL ME! I'd love to have you involved!
  4. There will also be a linky up on the first day to share last minute posts, if you're inspired to jump in. :)
  5. Once again I will be hosting an Austen Read Along to coincide with the event, and this year's book is EMMA. [Astute AIAers will have figured out there's only 1 book left to do, so you can get a jumpstart on next year's read, too... ;) ]
That about covers it. You guys are always amazing at contributing your time, creativity and enthusiasm to this event every year, and I can't wait to see what you come up with. And I said this last year as well, but I meeeeeeeeeaaaan it:
I don't ever want anyone to feel obligated to contribute in any way, but if you've been on the fence and too shy in the past, I'd love to feature you this year! I LOVE pulling in new Janeites, you have NO IDEA.

So if you're interested in being a featured guest right here on this blog (or on my vlog!), or you've been burning with things to say about Jane all year, AND you can have your post to me no later than August 10th, fill out the form below and let's get this ball a-rollin'!

NOTE TO READERS/BLOGGERS: because I get this question every year: this form is just for those who want to guest post or be featured on The Book Rat. You're welcome to do whatever you'd like on your own blog or vlog, and there will be a linky to share things if you so choose. But you do not have to fill out this form to say you're writing a post on your own blog. =)

NOTE TO AUTHORS: Few things: yes, authors are welcome to participate, and if you have a guest post or something you'd like to do, feel free to fill out the form. If you want me interview you, or you want to give away a copy of your book during the event, please email me directly.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Comic Book Nail Art Tutorial | #GraphicNovelWeek

Final day of Graphic Novel Week!! (happyface/frownyface)
I hope you guys have enjoyed it -- I definitely have -- and today, for the last video, I'm doing something completely different: a nail art tutorial! I'm going to show you 3 easy(ish) ways to get some comic-inspired nails that are actually doable, even for noobs. ;)
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and whether you want to see another graphic novel week soon(ish)!
Thanks for watching!

This is the top coat / manicure-saver-of-amazingness I used.
The brand of nail tattoo I used was Fing'rs, but I'm not sure if this style is still available; however, there are tons out there: search "nail tattoos" or "nail water decals" to find them! =)

If you missed any of Graphic Novel Week, you can find my full playlist here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

DRAGONS BEWARE by Raphael Rosado & Jorge Aguirre | #GraphicNovelWeek

For the last review of this Graphic Novel Week, I'm taking a look at a fun kids title, DRAGONS BEWARE -- and also Giants Beware, 'cause my review of that went the way of the dodo...
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you want to see another Graphic Novel Week later this year!
Thanks for watching!

DRAGONS BEWARE by Raphael Rosado & Jorge Aguirre
Get It | Add It
160 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by First Second
Scrappy Claudette sets out once again with her pal Marie and her little brother Gaston to right wrongs and fight evil. And this time, it's personal. Claudette is out to get the dragon who ate her father's legs...and his legendary sword. But as usual, nothing is as simple as it seems, and Claudette is going to need Marie and Gaston's help more than ever.

Funny, fast, high-energy storytelling in an inventive and perilous fantasy landscape makes Dragons Beware! a fantastic follow-up to 2012's middle-grade hit Giants Beware!

Friday, July 17, 2015


Today's #GraphicNovelWeek is a review of THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE, which has gotta be just about the most damn fun thing I've read in awhile.
As promised in the video, here is a Sci-show episode on Ada Lovelace, so you can find out just what a BAMF she was. But now, on to the review!


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
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Graphic Novel, 320 pages
Published April 23rd 2015 by Particular Books (Pantheon in the US)
THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

Sydney Padua is an animator, story artist, and tiresome bore working mostly in visual effects in London. She started drawing comics by accident and is still trying to figure out how to stop. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is a monstrous perversion of nature, viewable by horrified bystanders at http://www.2dgoggles.com.

Music: Klungo's Arcade (Azureflux) / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris! | #GraphicNovelWeek

Day 4 of #GraphicNovelWeek brings us a book that I feel basically every comic-lover should have on their shelves!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for watching!

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris
Get It | Add It
Non-Fiction, 256 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Quirk Books
You know about Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, but have you heard of Doll Man, Doctor Hormone, or Spider Queen? In The League of Regrettable Superheroes, you’ll meet one hundred of the strangest superheroes ever to see print, complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary. So prepare yourself for such not-ready-for-prime-time heroes as Bee Man (Batman, but with bees), the Clown (circus-themed crimebuster), the Eye (a giant, floating eyeball; just accept it), and many other oddballs and oddities. Drawing on the entire history of the medium, The League of Regrettable Superheroes will appeal to die-hard comics fans, casual comics readers, and anyone who enjoys peering into the stranger corners of pop culture.

Music: "Pixel Peeker Polka - slower" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: LAST MAN vols 1 & 2 | #GraphicNovelWeek

Day 3, guys! If you're having a bit of a graphic novel / comic moment yourself, share your current reads or comic/gn favorites with the hashtag #GraphicNovelWeek! I'll be checking 'em out, retweeting, and gathering recommendations for my own list. ;)


The Last Man series by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, & Balak 
Richard Aldana is defeating all challenges in the Games, despite his outlandish refusal to use any magic, and relying solely on martial arts. With young Adrian fighting at his side, he's beginning to look like a likely contender for the Royal Cup.

But in a breathtaking twist, everything changes: this world is not what you thought it was, and Richard Aldana is certainly not who he claimed.

Bastien Vives studied illustration and animation at the Ecole des Gobelins. After movie-making classes, he dived into comics, and his first title came out in 2007.

Balak (aka Yves Bigerel) works as a storyboard artist, 2D animator and TV show director in France. He works with Marvel Comics on the new digital Infinite Comics brand, as a storyboard artist (Avengers VS X-men with Mark Waid, Guardians of the Galaxy with Brian M. Bendis, Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted with Jason Aaron and Jason Latour).

Michael Sanlaville graduated from the Emile Cohl school, and later the Gobelins, after which he followed twin careers in animation (at the Xilam studio) and in comics with Casterman Publishers.

Right Back To You (Wizwars) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


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