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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

MARCH BOOK HAUL [2015]

Because I'm about to descend into fairy tale madness, never to be seen or heard from again (except for when I'll be blowing up yo' feeds with fairy tales...), I thought I'd better go ahead and get this book haul up now.
Added some pretty awesome stuff to my shelves over the last month, and if you're curious about the non-bookish things I got for my birthday, let me know if you'd like me to cover them in my next vlog!



THE BOOKS:
The Winner's Crime  (signed! with accompanying art!) | Marie Rutkoski
Rook | Sharon Cameron
Silver in the Blood | Jessica Day George
A Court of Thorns and Roses | Sarah J. Maas
Hold Me Like a Breath | Tiffany Schmidt
Garden Spells | Sarah Addison Allen
El Deafo | Cece Bell
The Name of the Wind | Patrick Rothfuss
Seraphina (already owned, got it signed) | Rachel Hartman
Shadow Scale (owned, but got finished & signed) | Rachel Hartman

ALSO MENTIONED:
Winner's Crime wall art
Most recent vlog
Winner's Crime blog tour
Fairy Tale Fortnight
Wednesday YA March read
Jessica Day George books mentioned
Sarah J. Maas books mentioned

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Vlog #6: Birthdays, Paintings & Bee Venom, oh my!

Hey there, and happy Monday-not-Sunday, since this video took aaaaaages to upload. Anyway, here's what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks, including impromptu naptimes, (more) watercolors, prep for a new feature, a nice long cooking montage and another installment of Weird Sh*t Misty Puts on Her Face.

Thanks for watching, and I'll chat with you in the comments! Make sure to tell me some bookish things you'd like to see watercolored!


LINKS MENTIONED:
Previous vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhRPZDvEKh8
Rachel Hartman interview: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/03/interview-with-rachel-hartman-author-of.html
Shadow Scale review / giveaway: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/03/review-giveaway-shadow-scale-by-rachel.html
Tea Chat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YKPXJaOxlI

Friday, March 13, 2015

Inspiration + Motivation | #TeaChatwithBookRat

I bought a chalkboard mug, and thought Hmm, how could I make good use of this? And thus was Tea Chat born! I hope you guys will join me on occasion in a random little tea break chat sesh, and I welcome your thoughts on topics we can talk about -- but today, we're chatting Inspiration and Motivation. See you in the comments!

(And you'd better believe when I twee.t this out, I WILL be using the hashtag #TeaChatwithBookRat. ^_^ )

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review & Giveaway: SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman!

I promised you last week, in my (*cough*awesome*cough*) interview with Rachel Hartman, that I'd be finally sharing my thoughts on Shadow Scale with you.  I mean, it's not like I haven't been telling you for months that I love this book/series/world/author, so I guess what I really mean by finally is that I'm FINALLY going to tell you why.

So check out all the whys below, and then enter to win a copy for yourself! Or, if you can't wait, Shadow Scale hits stores TODAY!!


. . . alright, so now comes the difficult bit of trying to actually put into words how I felt about this book. I've talked before about how it can be much harder to review something when you like it; if you hate a thing, you can probably go on for quite some time about all of the many, many reasons that you want that thing to experience a fate worse than death. But when you like, or even love a thing, it can be hard to capture why — at some point, you normally just devolve into some weird Gollum-like creature, tenderly petting it and calling it your preciousss.

I feel that way with Seraphina (the character), Seraphina (the book), the ityasaari (half-dragons), and the entire world of Gorredd. They turn me into Gollum, hunched over the pretty, pretty preciousss, my hair floating in greasy, whispy bits about my face... But where Gollum wants to keep his preciousss all to himself, I want the world to know my preciousss. I want to press it into the unsuspecting hands of passersby. (But, you know, their own copies of the preciousss. Not mine.) I love this world and its characters so much that I couldn't even be mad about the looong wait for Shadow Scale (lie), because I knew the extra time meant it was being done right, and that I was going to get to see more of the Gorredd and the Seraphina that I've grown to love.*

But in Shadow Scale, I'm actually getting more than that. This isn't just Seraphina retold — Seraphina II: 2 Fast, 2 Fire-breathing — and it doesn't just concern court intrigue in the heart of Lavondaville; Shadow Scale is Seraphina's journey throughout the kingdoms of the Southlands, to find the half-dragons that have populated her mind since her childhood. And in the process of discovering just who these ityasaari, her childhood grotesques, really are, Seraphina also discovers herself. There's a lot of growing up for Seraphina, and realizing that these people she has a connection to are so much more than the little boxes she's kept them in in her head all these years — and that she's also been keeping herself in a box, afraid of her heritage and talents and power, to the point that she's closed off a huge chunk of what makes her her. Shadow Scale is Seraphina's coming of age story without the saccharine connotations that the phrase normally implies. Seraphina's still smart, strong and compassionate, but she realizes how much more she can be, how much more she can give, and perhaps most importantly, how much more she has to learn.

And one of the joys of the book is that we get to learn that with her. We get to see what life is like in the neighboring kingdoms of Ninys, Samsam and Porphyry; how ityasaari are viewed and what kinds of lives they're able to make for themselves; how big the world is and how much of it is still out there, waiting to be discovered. There is a truly impressive level of clarity in the locations and characters — in what could easily become an unwieldy cast in less capable hands remains distinct and memorable in Hartman's. I'm not sure whether this is because we've had time with Seraphina's garden of the grotesques to familiarize ourselves with the other ityaasari, or because she's just that damn talented, but I'm putting my money on the latter. Like Seraphina, I loved exploring these new worlds and experiencing their cultures, and seeing the ityasaari come to life, free of the constraints Seraphina (and sometimes, the rest of the world) have put upon them.

And as with the first book, I very, very much enjoyed the intelligence and feeling with which it was all laid out. Hartman is very skilled at creating a world that feels real to me; that has characters that interact in authentic ways, and who are dynamic enough that you can picture their backstories, their reactions to things, their wants and fears — I enjoy a world that I can continue to build upon in my head, because the foundation is so solid that I feel I know its characters and likely outcomes. This is built by having a story that is itself dynamic, that has its sorrows along with its joys, its harsh realities and heartbreaking realizations along with its unexpected boons and laughs and loves. Shadow Scale feels like a complete reading experience, its world a complete world, and its ending a fulfilling and satisfying one.

If you haven't picked up this series yet, then (why are you reading a review of book 2?!) I would suggest you do so soon. (Like maybe now, while the first book is on sale!)
And if you have read it and can't get enough of Gorredd, then you should try to track down Hartman's Gorreddi graphic novels (Amy Unbounded -- I'd say I'd lend you mine, but...that'd be a lie. my precioussss), AND you should maybe read my interview with Rachel for some great Gorreddi news! =D

*I say I've "grown to love" them, but really, I loved them from the start.

****GIVEAWAY****
Thanks to the awesome, amazing folks at Random House, I have one copy of Shadow Scale to offer up to one lucky reader!
This giveaway is US only, and ends March 17th at 11:59pm EST. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 608 pages
Expected publication: March 10th 2015 by Random House Children's Books
Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?


About the Author:
As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of her award-winning debut novel, SERAPHINA. Born in Kentucky, Rachel has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. A New York Times bestseller, Seraphina won the William C. Morris Award, received eight starred reviews, and was named to multiple “best of” lists. To learn more, please visit SeraphinaBooks.com or RachelHartmanBooks.com.

Monday, March 9, 2015

February Rewind & Wrap-Up!

So, we've come to the end of another month (err, over a week ago...), which means it's time to take a look back, see what was read and discussed and loved, and bring it to a close!
I may not have read much in February, but what I read, I enjoyed (so yay!); take a look at the Rewind below for my thoughts on all dat, check out more about my month even more below, and let me know what you think in the comments!
In Books



THE BOOKS:
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversliveshow
The Olympians series  by George O'Connorreview
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci review
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente blog tour
Beastkeeper  by Cat Hellisen (still reading!)


On the Blog

I mostly stuck to my schedule this month, though I slacked a little compared to January, when I was really going gung-ho on my little schedule notebook. But I was bad about linking things up and tweeting them out this month, so in case you missed anything, some of my favorites of the month were:
  1. when I revealed that I love prickly characters and really hopeless, desperate situations in this blog tour
  2. when I revealed one of the weird things that freak me out to the point of UGHshuddersquiggleBLERGH
  3. when I revealed this cover (I promise I'll stop "revealing" things now, jeez.)
  4. when I revealed the banner for this year's Fairy Tale Fortnight, and invited you guys to participate. (I lied, I'm still revealing things. But also, we're still taking guest posters, so please join us!!)
  5. I also tried to set you up on a blind date, which if you haven't gone to meet your bookish match yet, you should totally do
  6. And though I was going to limit this to 5 things you may have missed, I was also part of some other awesome blog tours, where I talked about things like winner's curses, troll boys and Greek gods, and they were all for awesome things, so I think you should check them out.

In Life

You may have already checked out my month in my February vlog, but in case you missed it, some highlights were:

  • A puppy visitor, small enough to be able to walk under my dog (I may have died from cute).
  • A bit of a snowpocalypse, but for some reason, us weird Michiganders were loving it.
  • So. Many. Visits. from UPS.
  • Bed head!
If you missed it and those things appeal to you, a) what is wrong with you? and b) you can watch it here.

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

On the visual media front, I'm completely current now with Hart of Dixie, which I just started watching in January and have torn through -- and now it looks like it will probably be cancelled. =/

I also started watching KathleenLights on youtube, and though I'm apparently late to the game, judging by her subscriber count, I'm glad to have found her, because she's warm and funny, and had a thing called Lip Swatch Week...and y'all know I love me some lipstick.

Also, I can never get enough of TableTop, and 1 episode/wk is not enough for me, so I've been rewatching old favorites while I get ready for the day. But this recent one from the end of the month was awesome, and has a face fans of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries will recognize. =)

And lastly on the "visual" front, I can't. stop. watercoloring! I've always enjoyed it, but lately, I'm a woman obsessed!


 *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

On the music front, not a lot of new stuff, I'm listening to basically the same playlist I was listening to last month, with very few changes, but these few songs have been on repeat...







And that was pretty much it for my month! How did February treat you guys? Chat with me in the comments, let me know what you think of my month, and what all went on with you! =)

Friday, March 6, 2015

February Vlog Shenanigans!

I'm going to warn you in advance, guys: this is *definitely* one for those of you who like longer videos; if you don't, I wouldn't blame you a bit for moving along now. I didn''t have time to do multiple vlogs in February, so this is ALL of February, rolled into one!
So if you're sticking around, here are some of the things you might find:
Baking & treat making!
Puppies!
Craft-time!
Book haul spoilers!
Beauty splurges!
And a couple instances of bed head!

(And if you make it all the way through: Congrats! Your certificate is in the mail, and on it, it says I lurve you.)



Mentioned:
Blind Date with a Book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nbiCIuVwzg
Feb Book Haul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAGCVeS3gB0
WYA live show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imuKPwoksWg
Fairyland blog tour: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/02/the-boy-who-lost-fairyland-by.html
FTF invitation: http://www.thebookrat.com/2015/02/fairy-tale-fortnight-2015-invitation.html

Music from the Youtube Creator Library

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The March #WednesdayYA book club pick is...


Liz and I decided last year that as a birthday treat to ourselves, we would get total control of the book choice for #WednesdayYA during our birth month. And since I kick off March birthdays on the 1st, March is under my control  (mua ha ha).
That means, if we don't like this month's club read, it's fully on me (and the author. Actually, it'll be mostly their fault, tbh). But I have a feeling that won't be the case, because I've heard excellent things about both the author and the series that this month's read comes from, and I am SO in the mood for something quirky and crazy and memorable. Which is why, after pulling half a dozen books off my shelves and reading through the first few lines of each, I just had to go with...



The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
"Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back."
"Why?" said Tiffany.
"There's no one to stop them."
There was silence for a moment.
Then Tiffany said, "There's me."

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone....

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

Now, this is technically the thirtieth book in the Discworld series, but if you're unfamiliar with Discworld, they're basically all stand-alone(ish) books set in the same weird world, so you can start basically anywhere (or so I've been told). But further taking the pressure off of this ginormous series, The Wee Free Men is actually the beginning to its own little cycle of stories within Discworld, the Tiffany Aching storyline, which is Pratchett's middle grade/YA entry into Discworld. So have no worries, you can jump right in at this book without having read anything else, which is exactly what Liz and I intend to do.
One further note: the first cover shown is from a Wee Free Men/Hat Full of Sky bind-up, but we're only reading the first story, WFM (though that is the edition we both have - if you have it too, no pressure to read both!).

Our liveshow discussion of the book, which I'm thinking will be an animated and fun one, since these books are so quirky, will take place on the last Wednesday of March, the 25th, at 8;30EST, on both youtube and twitter (hashtag #WednesdayYA). We sincerely hope you'll join us in reading and discussing it then, but if you're unable to make the discussion, remember the video will go live the following day, and will be posted here on the blog, so you can still join in the conversation.

Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interview with Rachel Hartman, author of Seraphina!

By now, you guys know I love Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I talk about it a lot.
A lot.
And I've been promising you that I'd be talking with you about the sequel, Shadow Scale, for ages now, and it's finally time!
Well, almost.

I promise I will be sharing my thoughts on Shadow Scale soon, as well as giving you a chance to win a copy of your very own, but first, I somehow convinced Rachel to come back and chat with us a for a bit -- How she hasn't run screaming from me by now, I'll never know... -- and let me tell you, there are VERY IMPORTANT THINGS in this interview. *commence tiny freak out*

Check it out below, and then leave some love for Rachel (or your own tiny freak out) in the comments!

Hi, Rachel! Glad you could join us. Were you surprised at all by the reaction to Seraphina? William C Morris award winner, fervent fans who waited (im)patiently for the follow-up, etc? And on that note, have there been any especially weird/memorable/heady moments that took you by surprise (like fan art, etc)?

I always knew Seraphina was a good book, but I’d worked in bookselling long enough to know that good books don’t always find their audiences right away. I’m very pleased that it’s gotten as much attention as it has, and that readers are excited about the sequel. I love all the fan art the book has inspired, and the stories people tell me about the connection they feel to Seraphina’s inner struggle.

A particularly heady moment happened right around the time of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” (remember that? A million years ago, in internet time). The actor Orlando Jones had dumped bullet casings on his head instead of ice, trying to bring attention to the violent deaths of Mike Brown and others, and he was getting some flack for being political. I had quite liked his video, so I tweeted at him, “Thanks for the that video.”

He tweeted back, “Thanks for Seraphina.” He knew who I was. I can tell you, my squee was heard around the world.

[Note from Misty: Whoa.]

I've had a lot of people ask me if I thought this would turn out to be a longer series; if I thought it was open-ended, there were more book coming, potential for more set in the same world, etc. Clearly people don't want to let Seraphina and Goredd go. Though I always let them know that they can get their hands on more of Goredd's stories already, in the form of Amy Unbounded, can you dangle the worm and let us know if there's any chance of more Goreddi stories down the line, or whether they should abandon all hope? 

Goredd has been with me since junior high, and I can’t imagine letting it go. My intention all along -- pending success of these first two books -- has been to write a whole bunch of different books set there, like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Even Terry Pratchett sometimes dabbles in non-Discworld books, however, so it’s not impossible that I may want to venture further afield someday, but my heart is in Goredd and it always has been.

[Another note from Misty: funny you should mention Discworld...]

And, I know some authors hate being asked this, because they're like, I just finished this book. Let me wallow in it a bit!, but: what's next for Rachel Hartman? What glorious, amazing thing are you going to make us wait agonizing years for bless us with next? ;)

I am excited to tell you I’ve got two more books coming, set in Goredd but only tangentially related to Seraphina herself. Remember her twin half-sisters from the first book? They’re mentioned only briefly, in a single scene. Well, one of them is going to have some adventures. Seraphina will have a few cameo appearances, and I’m really having fun showing her from her sister’s point of view. Nobody sees your flaws more clearly than a sister, or loves you harder in spite of them.

[One last note from Misty, promise: WHOA.]

If Seraphina was being made into a movie and you could dream-cast any character who would it be, who would play them, and why? 

I have a terrible time with questions like this! I always suspect that the best actors for the job haven’t been discovered yet. However, there was one character who was loosely inspired by a real actor, and that was the Ardmagar Comonot. I was trying to describe his personality to my editor and hit upon the word “Shatneresque.” So yes, I would want William Shatner to play Ardmagar Comonot. I know the late Leonard Nimoy usually gets all the credit for playing the alienated alien, but Shatner, for my money, was always the one who seemed to be trying really hard to be human and just slightly missing the mark.

[Okay, I lied, because here's another note: this is the most perfect response to this question that I think an author has ever given. Shatner as Comonot. Yes. Yes.]

In a recent vlog, I asked viewers if they had any questions for you, and one viewer wanted to know both who your favorite character was to write, and more importantly, what YOU would look like as a dragon. Which I think may just be the best question ever, and I will add to it with: what would you be like as a dragon? 

Y’know, I almost hate to say it, but I really could see myself more as a quigutl (the dragons’ lizardy cousins) than a saar (the winged, flaming, shape-shifting sort of dragon). I’m just not dispassionate enough to fit in with the dragons , and I’m more of a putterer, always scuttling after scraps (of ideas) and building things (out of words) just for the heck of it. I’d like climbing the walls and hiding in crates of cabbages. That scene in Seraphina where the quigutl spin molten glass into a cobwebby lattice and then break it by sitting on it? That’s me all over.

And lastly, the last time we chatted, I was able to obtain video evidence (by the way of you sending me video evidence) of you singing Ye Merry Ole Dragon Tune. Any such silliness you would like to add to the pile of things you remember years down the line with the faint blush of, Oh yeah, remember when I did the thing?

Did you ever see the movie Singin’ in the Rain?  Towards the beginning a reporter asks Don Lockwood (played by Gene Kelly) the secret of his success, and he says, “Dignity. Always dignity.” That is my motto, too, and I reckon I’m exactly as successful at it as Lockwood was. Can’t you just feel the dignity coming off this man in waves:


WHAT.




Well, there you have it, folks, and can I just say (as if I haven't already interjected enough): I KNOW, RIGHT? Who else is super, super excited to see more of Gorredd? *raises hand*

If you haven't already picked up Seraphina, then I really don't know what you're doing with your life (look at your life. Look at your choices.), and you should maybe go correct that now. If you have read Seraphina, then I feel it my duty to inform you that next week, I will be sharing my thoughts on the sequel, Shadow Scale, and giving you a chance to get your hands on a copy, too! Next Tuesday, literally 1 exact week from today (down to the minute), I will be Gorredding in your face all over again, so be there or be...more awkward than a dragon at a rom-com!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 499 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

About the Author:

As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of her award-winning debut novel, SERAPHINA. Born in Kentucky, Rachel has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. A New York Times bestseller, Seraphina won the William C. Morris Award, received eight starred reviews, and was named to multiple “best of” lists. To learn more, please visit SeraphinaBooks.com or RachelHartmanBooks.com.

Monday, March 2, 2015

MARCH TBR

What will I be reading in March? WHO KNOWS, but it's a safe bet it'll have to do with fairy tales!



THE BOOKS:
The Wee Free Men: http://amzn.to/1K4xDdo
Maybe Lying Out Loud (http://amzn.to/1AswgKJ) or The Winner's Crime (http://amzn.to/17ICWO9)
Beastkeeper: http://amzn.to/17ID0xo
Stitching Snow: http://amzn.to/1ALhaF1
and then it's anybody's guess, but let me know in the comments if you'd like a review of:
a TRADITIONAL or NON-TRADITIONAL tale,
and a WELL-KNOWN or UNDER-KNOWN tale!

For more on Fairy Tale Fortnight, visit this post!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci | Blog Tour



Many of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don't know, here's a refresher. As soon as I found out there was going to be a sequel, my fingers started itching for it, and it planted its self pretty firmly near the top of my must-haves list. So of course, I was very eager indeed to be part of the Stone in the Sky blog tour, and share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated book with you.

[And since this is a sequel, it should go without saying that there may be spoilers for the first book. I say should because it never ceases to amaze me, the things people will cry 'spoiler!' at...]

Now, it should be said, I'm always a little hesitant going into a follow-up to a book I loved. Sophomore Slump and all that, but the truth is, it's not just hard to capture the things that made me love it in the first place; sometimes it's downright impossible. I think such is the case with a series like this, because what made me love it so thoroughly the first time around was the isolation and cold-fish-ness of Tula, which is slowly chipped away by new connections and a new life forged. You can't really recreate that in a sequel, because Tula is beyond that. So the trick for a sequel, then, is not recreating what I loved, but about giving me something new to love. Castellucci does this by sending Tula out into the Great Unknown, forcing her out of the comfortable niche she's carved for herself on the Yertina Feray, and out of the arms of my favorite alien, Tournour. She's alone again, and in peril, so it echoes her experiences of Tin Star, and allows her to prove herself once again, but it's a new venue, a new set of challenges and goals, and I appreciated that.

I like exploring more of the world(s), and that there are still hard times for Tula and the people she meets. In both Tin Star and Stone in the Sky, Castellucci has not shied away from pain and heartache, and just the stark realities of trying to cobble together a life out of barren, hardscrabble worlds. In some ways, this book goes even darker in the actual subject matter, but because of the things Tula has experienced and the people she finds herself now surrounded by (no longer alone!), there is a strong savor of hope. There's a tenacity about Tula that I absolutely love, and I also love that people she meets admire and respond to it. It's a quality that would be very helpful, if not downright necessary, in such a setting, I would think, and Tula puts it to good use. Even when she's selling herself short or downplaying her own role in things, she makes things happen, she fights for what she wants to happen, and I am a big fan of that. From the very beginning of the first chapter of Tin Star, when Tula is literally fighting for her life, straight through to the end of Stone in the Sky, she never gives up reaching and growing and making things happen -- even when the odds are practically non-existent.

And at the core of the story, Tula is still Tula. I said in my review of Tin Star that part of the reason I love the book and Tula is because "I gravitate towards prickly people and hopeless situations," and Tula gives me that, both in her being somewhat prickly and often in seemingly hopeless situations, but also because I feel like she gravitates toward prickly people and hopeless situations. She doesn't shy away from daunting challenges, and she draws people to her against all odds, and by the time Stone in the Sky comes to a close, Tula has really come into her own. She's grown, but she's still her, in all of her prickly, cold-fishy tenacity that I adored the first time around.  The same disclaimers from the first book still apply, in that I don't think this is the book/series for everyone. It is slow, in a slow-burning way that I personally enjoy (so I don't really feel it's slow, but that was the complaint I saw most), and I'm sure some people still just won't connect to Tula or her world. I also felt that there were times, especially as it neared the end, that it felt a little rushed or chaotic, and I actually wished it would have slowed down and lingered over some things.  But no book is the book for everybody, and for me, I'll always gladly take more Tula Bane (and Tournour!), and this series that isn't really like anything else out there right now. And I have a feeling that these characters will stick with me for some time to come, and when you fly through things and then promptly forget them, the way I do, saying something's memorable is high praise indeed.


And with that, the Stone in the Sky blog tour is a wrap! Check out the full list of stops on Cecil's blog for any reviews or interviews you may have missed!


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci
Get It | Add It
Sci-Fi, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.



After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star CafĂ© on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.


Cecil Castellucci is an author of young adult novels and comic books. Titles include Boy Proof, The Year of the Beasts (illustrated by Nate Powell), First Day on Earth, Rose Sees Red, Beige, The Queen of Cool The Plain Janes and Janes in Love (illustrated by Jim Rugg), Tin Star and Odd Duck (illustrated by Sara Varon).


Her short stories have been published in various places including Black Clock, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine and can be found in such anthologies such as After, Teeth, Truth & Dare, The Eternal Kiss, Sideshow and Interfictions 2 and the anthology, which she co-edited, Geektastic.

She is the recipient of the California Book Award Gold Medal for her picture book Grandma's Gloves, illustrated by Julia Denos and the Shuster Award for Best Canadian Comic Book Writer for The Plain Janes. The Year of the Beasts was a finalist for the PEN USA literary award and Odd Duck was Eisner nominated.

She splits her time between the heart and the head and lives north and south of everything. Her hands are small. And she likes you very much.




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