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Friday, July 19, 2019

5 Excellent Examples of World Building

Sometimes, world-building in books can be pretty non-descript, meant to get the characters from point A to point B with no real fuss or distraction. They're forgettable. But some worlds stick with you for years, and are so well-executed, you feel like you got to know a read place.
Here are 5 examples of worlds that have stuck with me.
I'd love to hear some of yours in the comments!



Side note; I'm really not sure why this is just now being cross-posted to the blog, because it went live on youtube 2 weeks ago. Sorry about that, guys! But you should really subscribe to my channel if you don't want to miss things, because I am notorious for this...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

4 YA Books That Made Me Me

This video was inspired by a twitter thread from Anne Theriault,which dovetails nicely with something I've been meaning to talk about for awhile, so: please enjoy this peek at MY soul, and let me see a bit of yours in the comments!
Inspiration for this post: https://twitter.com/anne_theriault/status/1143578066100391937

Monday, July 1, 2019

AUSTEN IN AUGUST 2019 INVITATION!

It's the moooooost wonDERful tiiiime of the yeeeeear...

austen in august, jane austen, austenesque books, jane austen retellings

It. Is. Almost. August!
That means that yes, Austen in August is coming, and yes, I most definitely should have had this post up by now. (Story of my life.)
Consider this your official invitation to the 10TH ANNUAL AUSTEN EVENT ON THIS BLOG!!

Most of you know the drill by now, but for those who don't or need a refresher:
What the Eff is AIA?
The Deets:
  1. Started in the summer of 2010 in a different month and with a different name (but still alliterative, because I'm me), Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more! WE'RE A DECADE-STRONG, YOU GUYS! [See years one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine!] You can stop by any time during the month of August and get lost in Austen. It's all very austentatious. . . alright, I'll stop now.
  2. I liked the pacing of last year's event, so once again, I will be posting at least once per weekday, with maybe, maybe a weekend post here or there. But as always, I also want to see what YOU have to say! I welcome guest posts and outside participation — though I want to change it up a touch this year. More on that below. But if you think you want to be involved, please EMAIL ME with the subject line Austen in August, AIA, or some variant of Austen / August.
  3. Are you an Austenite author who wants to be involved? EMAIL ME! I'd love to have you involved! I also want to do a very special grand prize pack this year, so if you'd like to be featured in that ---> email me!
  4. I'm undecided on whether to host a group read this year, so if you'd like to see one, let me know in the comments!

Below you'll find a form you can fill out if you're interested in participating this year, but BEFORE YOU DO, I'd like to let you know of some changes.
In the past, I've kept AIA strictly to my blog, so that everything is in one central location for people to consume. And while I know that works for some readers, it also limits other readers from stumbling across posts — they really have to know it's going on, or be sent through a direct link. And I want to spread the love of Austen to as many people as I can, which is why this year, I'm opening AIA up to other blogs!

I will still be hosting guest posts regularly here on The Book Rat, but I welcome and encourage guest "presenters" to post AIA content in an official capacity on their own blogs (or bookstagram, booktube, and face-literal-book accounts). This way, ideally, more people will have a chance of stumbling across AIA as a whole, and then diving into the various posts, as well as hopefully sending my lovely participants some well-deserved traffic. So in the form below, you will find two options: one to be a guest poster here, and one to post on your own channel as an official participant. Please consider which works best for you — there is no pressure for either option! If you're more comfortable guest posting on my blog, or Austen content doesn't really sync up with your channel/blog's brand, no worries! I will keep plenty of slots available for guests!

If interested and able to commit to completing a post, please fill out the form below!
If you are an author, or have questions, please email me directly.

Every year, you guys blow me away with your insight and passion. I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

9th #30DayBookBinge + FREE Printables!

Oh, hello there. Welcome to the ninth round of the #30DayBookBinge!




If you're new to the Book Binge, I explain what it is in the video above, but briefly: 30 Day Book Binge is a low-pressure reading challenge that encourages you to read something of your choice, purely for pleasure, every single day for 30 days. What you read and how long you read is up to you!
This round of the binge runs through July, which has 31 days — you can choose to start a day late, end a day early, or save that bonus day in case of mid-month emergencies.

I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but I have been reading every day, and I credit that almost completely with the 30 Day Book Binge! Having such a low-pressure challenge that encourages habit-building is truly — who'd've thought — actually helping me build a pretty stellar habit!

And I'm hoping the Binge will help you build or reinforce that daily reading habit, too! To encourage you (and because I love you), there is, of course, a selection of free printables in this month's theme for you to download and use during the binge!



So, in our Book Binge folder, you'll find a new a summery flower-themed printable set, including a July 2019 calendar, a set of three bookmarks, and a reading log / note & quote tracker, all on a clean, bright theme of coneflowers / echinacea / rudbeckia. I've also included a copy of the original watercolor that makes up the background of the calendar, so you can have it as a print!
Each file is available in two forms, pdf and png, so that you can either download and print, or use digitally, as you choose.
(And yes, one of the bookmarks is black & white, which you can leave as is, or color in as a bit of art therapy!)


Feel free to join in on this simple, low-pressure challenge by grabbing a book and reading every day for 30 days -- and by sharing your progress on anywhere hashtagable, with the hashtag #30DayBookBinge!


If you have requests of printables you'd like to see in future 30 Day Book Binges, please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Things She's Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina | review

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored review, though this book was sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own. Affiliate links used where possible. Thanks for helping support this site!

The Things She's Seen, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Australian fiction, Austrailan YA, Aboriginal fiction, Aboriginal young adult, mystery books, surrealist books, magical realism, book review

The Things She's Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Mystery/Paranormal/Contemporary/Surrealist/Magical Realist, 189 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.

Her dad is drowning in grief. He's also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she's got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he is still alive, that there is a life after Beth that is still worth living.

Who is Isobel Catching, and why is she able to see Beth, too? What is her connection to the crime Beth's father has been sent to investigate--a gruesome fire at a home for troubled youth that left an unidentifiable body behind? What happened to the people who haven't been seen since the fire?

As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another...

"I'm not telling you what happened to ask for help," she said.

"Then why are you telling it?"

Catcher drew her legs up to her chest and rested her chin on her knees. "To be heard."


Clocking in at less than 200 pages, The Things She's Seen can easily be read in a day. But even if it were a longer book, it'd likely still be a one-sitting read for a lot of people; once the ball gets rolling, the mystery and the dual narratives are so compelling that most readers will want to gobble it right up in one go. Especially short books — much like especially long books (or even not especially long books; I've talked before about my antipathy for books of the "I like big books and I cannot lie" variety...) — are often a risky venture. Many a micro-book has started strong, but ended up leaving me wanting, and just wishing that the author had filled the story out a bit more — after all, it's not like they are going to blow their printing costs budget on adding in those few extra pages, when you're talking about a book that comes in 100+ pages under the norm. It's a rare gem when I find a short book that packs in all it needs to economically, without sacrificing story, development, or style. The Things She's Seen is spare prose that doesn't leave you wanting. Nothing needed to be added to this. Nothing needed to be fluffed. Everything felt purposeful and fully realized, and I have to tip my hat to the Kwaymullinas for that achievement.

It's difficult to say exactly why this is or what I loved about it, because frankly, I don't want to give away any bit of the mystery or spoil any of the impact of the reveal. There were times I was hesitant in the beginning, especially with the shift in styles between the two narratives, but as a whole, the book is resonant and impactful in a way a lot of books try to be, but fail. In very short order, The Things She's Seen tackles high concept and/or tricky offerings, like surrealism / magical realism, speculative dead-MC narration, dual POVs, grief, rape culture, racism and colonialism, among others, and makes them not only harmonious, but refrains from being heavy-handed or preachy. The storytelling feels emotionally realistic, and the grief and mystery at the heart of the story(ies), while dark, is limned in hope. It's an impressive feat.

I think readers' enjoyment of the story does probably hinge on the character and narration of Catching, though. Stylistically, it's not a book to universally please. Readers may be frustrated by confusion and extensive use of symbolism, or feel there are gaps that need to be filled. But I think there also may be frustration in how her story is told, in the text itself — short, sharp sentence fragments is not a style to win everyone over (myself included, though I grew to like it in this case, and it does help to keep Catcher's story distinct from Teller's, as well as heighten the surreality of her narrative.) To be fair, the book itself is not a book to win everyone over. It pushes you and tests you and makes you second guess; it challenges you, and sinks its teeth into the shared pain of the past; it hurts you. That may make it sound like work, but it's a story that flows and drags you along with it. Most readers will probably know pretty quickly whether it's a story that will work for them, stylistically, but for those who remain unsure, I highly encourage you to stick with it and try something that may be out of your comfort zone. I think you'll find it a worthwhile push outside your boundaries.

For those reader-types who aren't put off by any of the things mentioned above, I definitely recommend picking this one up, tearing through it, and then mulling it over for a few days to come. I have a suspicion it's the type of book to be just as affecting, and maybe even more so, upon a reread, and it would also make great book club discussion fodder. And I know I'm a dork, but all of those things are good things, as far as I'm concerned.


Side note: This book is also known as Catching Teller Crow, which I don't love as a title on its own (it seems very typical), but having read the book, is sort of perfect.






Thursday, May 2, 2019

2 DNFs + 2 UN-DNFs

My DNF-hammer has been feeling a little heavy lately, and I basically Do. Not. Hesitate. to abandon books that aren't doing it for me anymore. But recently, I gave 2 of them a second chance. Did it work out?



ABOUT THE BOOKS:

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale 

Rule #1 - Never fall for a summer boy.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had - to never fall for a summer boy?



The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee

For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, Lee and his mother have served Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement. But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she'll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something's gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie's might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood. Simultaneously heartwarming and delightfully spooky, The House in Poplar Wood is a story about a boy's desire to be free, a girl's desire to make a difference, and a family's desire to be together again.




An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax

Three months has been Gladie Burger’s limit when it comes to staying in one place. That’s why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her Grandma Zelda—who is more than a little psychic-- recruits her into the family’s matchmaking business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. What’s more, Gladie is also highly unqualified, having a terrible track record with romance. Still, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has her clairvoyant “gift.” But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.

When Zelda’s neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family’s drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor’s death was murder. It’s not too long before she’s in way over her head—with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she’s unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued—either by true love or by a murderer. Who will catch her first?




Southern Spirits by Angie Fox

One simple mistake…
For a girl who is about to lose her family home,
Releases the ghost of a long-dead gangster,
And opens Verity Long’s eyes to a whole new world.

When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

Ellis Wydell is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity to put an end to the disturbances. But soon, Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms.

There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn't above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?





Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video!  All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used where possible.
Thanks for helping support my channel!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

First BOOK HAUL of 2019!

You guys. It has been FIVE AND A HALF MONTHS since we've had a book haul on this channel.
IDEK, man...
Let's make up for that, shall we?



THE BOOKS:
Last of Her Name
Walter
The Hummingbird Dagger
The Things She's Seen
Secrets of a Fangirl
Mr Darcy's Enchantment
Conceit & Concealment
The House in Poplar Wood
Solving for Ex
Captured
Truly, Madly, Royally
The Surface Breaks
Skyjacked
The Devouring Gray

Link to review of THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD to come, 'cause I definitely haven't done that yet...



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used where possible.
Thanks for helping support my channel!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Feed Your Reader: April 12th, 2019

My darlings!
It's been a hot minute since I've shared some book deals with you, which is a shame, because there have been some good ones. Fortunately, there still are some good ones!
Check them out below, organized by price bracket, and with my personal picks. And if you've come across any great deals lately, let us know in the comments!

Feed Your Reader, ebook deals, free kindle books, free YA books,


*** Click the cover of the book to be taken directly to the deal! ***

Please note, these book covers link directly to Amazon through an affiliate code. This means that, should you choose to purchase something, Amazon will kick a few pennies my way, at no additional cost to you. This money goes back into running this blog -- thanks for supporting The Book Rat!

FREE and $0.99 Books:

     

MY PICK: Aru Shah, for sure. I've heard such good things!

$1 — $3 Books:

                   

MY PICKS: I've had so many people sing the praises of Blood Water Paint to me, so this one is high on my own to-read list! Also, Geekerella was pretty damn cute.
Also, can we just talk about the lettering on basically all of these books? *swoon*

$3 — $5 Books:

             

MY PICKS: I'm not sure where to begin! Feed is great, Love Lies & Spies is quirky fun Regency, Wild Beauty has been on my list for ages, and the rest look. so. good!
Also: please note that I kinda got distracted by my audio book while putting this together, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of these "$3-5 books" actually fall under the $3 mark. Bonus!


Also, some of you may know, I've been on a romance kick lately. So, though I can't vouch for how good the following books are, I can inform you that they are currently free: and if you, too, are on a romance kick, you might wanna give them a try.

                   

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