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Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Face Off: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I'm a big fan of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for a number of reasons, not least of which is the quirky, dark weirdness of the whole thing. It can be a tough book to describe to someone, because no description quite does justice to what Haddon captured with Christopher's voice and the journey Christopher leads us on.
But as much as I love this story, I'd never really looked into other versions of it. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since I read it, but probably it's because I've been content with the simple and iconic US paperback version (aka the red book), which captures just a bit of that quirky off-ness. But for whatever reason, I recently looked into other covers, and — since the book is an award winner, and all — there are many of them. What I find interesting is that, though the covers don't have too much in common, they all strive to Capture the Quirk, and for the most part, I think they succeed.
Below are 3 such covers, all of which use a fairly minimalist style mixed with a dash of the unsettling, to draw you into Christopher's world. Take a look, and then let us know in the comments which you prefer. Which would you reach for? Which unsettles you the most, or makes you the most curious? If you've read the book, which do you think best suited? In short,
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: The original and recently rebranded versions of Kendare Blake's Antigoddess went head to head, and...you guys were no help at all! It was an absolute deadlock, forcing me to play tie-breaker, which is something I generally don't do. I have things I love and things I don't about both covers, but in the end, the addition of the owls to the new cover won me over. I made an immediate connection with them because of their significance to the story, and know that if I hadn't read the book yet, the owls would have made me curious.
(I also like how they provide a bit of a stylistic tie-in to Blake's Anna series, even though they don't have anything to do with each other. Branding!)
Winner --------------->

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson | excerpt

Today's excerpt was a request - as I said, I've got a whole big stack of books that are coming out that I'd like to share excerpts of, to help you get a feel for the style and to shine a little spotlight on the book, and Priscila D. wanted to hear a little something from Mary E. Pearson's upcoming fantasy, THE KISS OF DECEPTION.

This excerpt is a quick one, because it seemed like a natural place to stop, but let me just say, I wanted to keep reading for you, and I DID keep reading for me before I finally controlled the impulse and got back to my planned reading. Didn't want to put this down!

Let me know what you think in the comments, and if there's something you'd like to see vlogged!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Get It | Add It
High Fantasy, 492 pages
Expected publication: July 15th 2014 by Henry Holt
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

Monday, April 14, 2014

THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst | excerpt

I promised a lot of excerpts in my last haul video, so here is the first of many. I'm a big fan of Sarah Beth Durst, and am eager to see how she makes the transition to adult fiction - and despite the fact that I have a mountain of things to do to prepare for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I REALLY REALLY want to just dive into this one.
Take a listen, let me know what you think, and if there's something you'd like to hear an excerpt of, tell me in the comments!

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, this reading is from an advance copy (which means it's not final yet), so this excerpt MAY NOT be accurate against the final version!

about the book:
THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
Get It | Add It
384 pages
Expected publication: May 20th 2014 by Harlequin / Mira
Lost your way?
Your dreams?
Welcome to Lost.

It was supposed to be a small escape. A few hours driving before turning around and heading home. But once you arrive in Lost...well, it's a place you really can't leave. Not until you're Found. Only the Missing Man can send you home. And he took one look at Lauren Chase and disappeared.

So Lauren is now trapped in the town where all lost things go-luggage, keys, dreams, lives-where nothing is permanent, where the locals go feral and where the only people who don't want to kill her are a handsome wild man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl. The only road out of town is engulfed by an impassable dust storm, and escape is impossible....

Until Lauren decides nothing-and no one-is going to keep her here anymore.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

BOOK HAUL: mid-April, 2014

Here are some of the things that have been stacking up since the last book haul - and I am damn excited about them!
I've got a number of excerpts recorded for you from this stack of books, and others from the last couple hauls, so keep an eye out for those - and if there's a specific book you want to hear an excerpt from, let me know! =)

Riot | Sarah Mussi
Shattered | Teri Terry
A Midsummer's Nightmare | Kody Keplinger
The Lost | Sarah Beth Durst
The Dyerville Tales | M.P. Kozlowsky
Catch a Falling Star | Kim Culbertson
Ruin & Rising sampler | Leigh Bardugo + box of AWESOME

Big thanks to Macmillan, Hatchette UK, Harlequin, Scholastic and Walden Pond Press for all of this amazingness!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Face Off: Antigoddess

With the upcoming release of its sequel, Mortal Gods, Kendare Blake's Antigoddess has gotten a redesign. The new cover has a more Urban Fantasy feel, and stylistically, is more in keeping with Blake's Anna duology; I have a feeling it will appeal to a whole new readership, which I'm sure is why the change was made. But when I saw the change, I couldn't help but laugh to myself, based purely on an amusing little anecdote Kendare shared about the design of the first cover — I'd imagine it factored into the decision, too...
Anyway, take a look at the original (left) and redesigned (right) covers below, as well as the synopsis below, and tell me which you prefer. Which would you reach for on the shelves? If you've read the book, which do you think suits it best? In short,
Which one did it better?

The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

Last Time on FFO: Oof. It's been a few weeks since we took a look at Charm & Strange, and when we did, we were pretty torn. Some of you were downright disturbed by the UK paperback, which is raw, aggressive, and more than a little off — which is exactly why I love it — and though many people commented on how gorgeous the US hardcover is when I showed it in vlogs, in comparison to the other 2 editions shown, you guys found it too simple and borderline boring. In the end, that left only the UK hardcover, which won the day.
Winner ---------->

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Reading from Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King | #WednesdayYA [1.4]

It's Wednesday, friends, and that means it's time to share some of this month's book club read, Please Ignore Vera Dietz!
Because A.S. King has a tendency to grab me, right from the very first page, I thought I'd record a little reading for you guys. Check it out, let me know what you think in the comments, and if you want to be part of #WednesdayYA, join us this month in reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz!


Contemporary/Magical Realism, 336 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Alfred A. Knopf BYR
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read | #TopTenTuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Time for Top Ten Tuesday again, and I really wish I'd thought to vlog this week's topic, 'cause it would have made an excellent discussion vlog. This week, we're talking about the Top Ten Most Unique Books We've Read, and I have to say, I strongly recommend each and every one of the books listed below.
Let me know if you've read these, and what your take on them was, and tell me some of your picks for most unique in the comments!

In no particular order:

The Book Thief
Narrated by one of my all-time favorite, most unique narrators, Death himself, The Book Thief is full of surprisingly gut-punching insight. The way Death sees things, the way he phrases his observations and studies humanity — and the inhumane things we do to each other — makes Death one of the most memorable narrators I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

A strong story led by another unique narrator; this time, it's 15 year old autistic boy, Christopher, who tries to logic some sense into the uncomfortably unpredictable world around him. Christopher is charming, frustrating, funny and heartbreaking, and I loved every last bit of his narration. Bonus points for having a pet rat.

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas may be the single most frustrating and the single most rewarding thing I've ever read. This was the first book to ever make me jealous I hadn't written or conceived it, and I've long since called David Mitchell my favorite living author as a result of this and the rest of his amazing body of work. Though my technical favorite may be number 9 dream, this is certainly his most impressive.

The Thorn and the Blossom
The literal telling of this book is what makes it so unique. It's printed accordion style, meaning you don't flip the pages so much as pull the front cover up up UP and let the story unravel... and when you get to the end, you flip it over and read it again from the other side, getting two sides (literally and figuratively) of the same story. You can start at either end, and each story influences how you interpret the other. It makes for a pretty interesting reading experience, to say the least.

Robot Dreams and Bake Sale*

Sara Varon man... She writes (and illustrates) these insanely unique stories with forever-memorable characters, and they are quirky and affecting and oddball. Robot Dreams is a nearly-wordless comic that made me cry a lot; Bake Sale is a comic about a cupcake who owns a bakery, and his rock-n-roll friend, Eggplant. It might be an acid trip in book form, I dunno, but unique and memorable it certainly is, and weird as they both are, I loved every last minute.
*I'm counting these as 1 because I chose them for the same reason. And yes, I know I always go over 10 in Top TEN Tuesday.  Hush.

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award, and it was a finalist for the prize, with good reason. Told in 3 separate and totally different stories that come together beautifully at the end, this is a powerful exploration of racial identity and coming of age.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
One of my favorite books for a reason. It's rare enough to get an epistolary novel these days (ie. it's told through a series of letters), Perks is the master of the slow reveal and the seeming non-sequiter. Charlie just comes out with stuff out of the blue, and you're constantly wondering just what is going on with this kid - and when it's finally revealed, you've made such a connection with him that you feel for him much more so than I think you would if it were told in a more traditional manner.

I mean... it's Chuck Palahniuk, so of course this book is totally FUBAR. It's told via 23 separate stories that are framed within one over-arching one, and I'd be hard-pressed to tell you which is the most disturbing of the pack.
Memorable, to say the least.

Pretty much anything by A.S. King
Anything. Anything by A.S. King, who seems to be on a mission to continually take my breath away or make me ugly cry in some new way. Each of her books is different from the last, but similar in that it's always going to push boundaries in some way. Can't decide which is my favorite, and can't stress enough how highly I recommend her (which is why I was so glad when Liz chose Please Ignore Vera Dietz for this month's #WednesdayYA book club pick!)

I love a story with a debatable open-ending — something that lets readers interpret and ponder and go back and forth with what they think may have happened, could have happened, and should have happened. Godmother is told in alternating timelines and styles — one present-day New York, and one some nebulous fairy tale past — and the reader is left to wonder which version of reality they're presented with is real, or whether both are. Excellent fodder for book discussions and for rereads.

Honorable mentions to Tweet Heart, a book composed entirely in tweets, emails and the like, that somehow managed to not drive me insane; and actually go so far as being a cute, cohesive story, Tin Star, which is an entire cast of unique characters in a unique situation, with fairly non-human reactions and interactions ('cause they're, you know, aliens and stuff); and along those same lines, All These Things I've Done, which gives us one of my favorite narrators, who starts out very cold and distant, and fairly atypical for a YA read.

So what are some of yours?

Monday, April 7, 2014

>>>MARCH REWIND<<< - Mini-reviews of my March, 2014 Reads!

Hey there!
This is my March Rewind, aka mini-reviews of everything I read in March, with a quick thumbs up/down and my (mostly) brief thoughts on why.
Let me know whether you agree or disagree, and what your standout books from March were, in the comments.
Thanks for watching!

(0:30) Titan Magic: Body & Soul | Jodi Lamm
(2:25) This One Summer | Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
(3:16) Ophelia & the Marvelous Boy | Karen Foxlee
(4:43) The Darkest Minds | Alexandra Bracken
(6:14) Return of Zita the Spacegirl | Ben Hatke
(7:18) Stolen Songbird | Danielle L. Jensen
(8:40) Love Letters to the Dead | Ava Dellaira

Fairy Tale Fortnight
Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow


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