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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bragging Rights: September

It's time again to get your brag on.  Here's how it works:

Think back over your month of blog posts and pick a post - or three - that you really think people should read.  Did you write an amazing review?  Come up with your own little bit of fiction?  Start a great new meme or host an awesome event?  Do you have a post you loved that hasn't gotten any comments?  We wanna know!  Share it here.
Everyone is welcome to join in at any time!

There's no real formula for linking, you can do as you please, but I would suggest doing it like this:

Blog Name (post name).
You can link up to of your favorite posts.

October TBR vlog + September Rewind

 This little mini-video over here is a look back at what I read in September, with a quick thumbs-up/down rating.  You can click it to be taken to a full-size version (or just watch me in miniature. ;P )

And here you'll find the books I'm going to be reading this month (with one exception: I forgot to list Anna Dressed in Blood!)
If you do your own TBR video (or blog post) for the month, make sure to link it up below or add it as a video response on youtube so that everyone can find it!

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Fantasy, 240 pages
October 25th 2011, Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Some time ago, I fell in love with this cover.  I was already a fan of Dolamore's from her debut, Magic Under Glass, and while I was eagerly searching Goodreads to see if/when I was going to get more stories about my darling little automaton, I came across this companion novel of a mermaid in love with a winged boy.  And I thought, well isn't that just lovely?  I mean, beyond the sheer obvious loveliness of the cover, isn't the idea of a love bridging these two contradictory worlds just lovely.  [And every time I thought of it, the bit of dialogue from Ever After would pop into my head about "A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they make their home?" "Well, we will have to give you wings!"  would pop into my head...]  So I put it on my wishlist and settled in for the long haul.  Somewhere along the way, I had a little event with an awesome person, and got to chatting with Jaclyn Dolamore, who participated.  Her lovely book that I was settled in waiting for got pushed back (because they were trying to torture us, I can only assume) - but I needn't have worried, because Jaclyn sent me a copy!

Once the drooling was over, I convinced myself to wait to read it until closer to the publication, because I know myself and I know how I will put off writing a review until I've forgotten damn near everything I wanted to say.  But eventually the time came, I was finally (finally!) able to sit down and read it.
And I was right, it is lovely.

Now, I was a little hesitant in the beginning.  The reader is plunged into this very foreign world and though I generally like that, this is a very foreign world (they're mermaids!  Things operate on a totally different level).  I liked the differences; it makes sense that their world would be vastly different, and their thoughts and day-to-days concerns, would be vastly different, than anything we're familiar with on this world.  That is as it should be.  But things were...simpler, I guess, and I was a little lost and a little meh on the beginning.  But Esmerine and her eldest sister are different, and I connected with their yearning - and the story really picks up when Esmerine leaves the water.  It's a great fish out of water story (ah-ha-ha)  [SO MANY PUNS.  I'll stop myself now so you don't feel the need to hurt me.]

I felt like there was a good struggle. Enough is built into the world-building and the situation to make you empathize with Esmerine and wonder what is the right decision for her, even while you're hoping she makes a certain one (because no matter what we say, we're all suckers for a happy ending). Esmerine's worries and her torn feelings seemed true to her character and situation; the way she has been raised and the way she, and those around her, have been taught to think and behave, contrasted with what she feels and what she wants made it a really enjoyable story.   But beyond just Esmerine, we get snippets of other characters' struggles to be true to themselves and choose happiness.  I loved the glimpses we get of Alan's struggles as the book goes on - I loved that his struggles came first, actually, long before Esmerine must come to terms with what she wants, and that he tried to be really brave about his lot in life, and kind of deadened himself in a way.  And again with Dosia and her struggles, which we never actually get to know about until we see their effects - Dosia's selfishness was interesting. It was necessary in that reckless, careless way that you have to be sometimes for your own happiness, and she overcomes her struggles and goes for what she wants boldly (if thoughtlessly).  There's this over-arching theme of sort of following your bliss, doing what's right for you and what will bring more happiness into the world.  It's this great dimension to the story, which is told very simply but slyly layered with things like this.

Another thing that I like, and this may seem silly, is that there's no real villain.  I feel like, so many times villains are a crutch. Don't get me wrong, they can be great, and I love a good villain, but the fact is, that's not always life.  There's not always an arch-nemesis, and doesn't need to be.  This was a great example of that, because though there is some opposition in some respects, there is certainly no villain, nor even a need for one - the situational tension and misunderstandings are enough.

The few things that bothered me were fairly minor, but worth noting.  Foremost, it was very brief, which is something I actually like, but -  But when something is so brief, I feel like there's no excuse not to flesh things out that need fleshing.  You're not over your word count, you're not cutting things just to keep it from being mammoth.  In short, you have the space, so there are times when I just felt like things could have been filled a bit more, could have been fleshed and finessed a bit more.  The 2nd thing is just a product of having read an ARC - there were a lot of typos and some minor plot holes that just broke me out of the story occasionally.  I would actually like to reread the book as a finished copy to get the "real" feel of it, once everything is smoothed and lovely, so I can read it without getting snarled in the errors.  But this drawback is, in itself, actually a good thing - I wouldn't want to reread it as a finished copy if I didn't like the story.

All in all, it's a solid companion to Magic Under Glass, and a solid story in its own right.  Esmerine's growth and the visual aspects of the story and the world make this one absolutely worth it.  (In fact, I would love to see mock-ups of the world!)

Friday Face Off: Touch of Power

Earlier this month, the blog The Secret Writer revealed the US and UK covers for Maria V Snyder's upcoming novel, Touch of Power.  As a big fan of Maria, I am super geeked about this, whatever cover it has, but I have to say, I am quite taken with both.  The UK cover is in-line with the covers for the rest of her UK editions (and I love those editions!), and the US cover is in the same vein as her other US editions, but with a little more oomph!  What do you guys think?  I know I'm not the only one who's geeked for this, but even if you've never read her, do either of these make you want to pick this book up?  Which would you reach for?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: Three different versions of The Sky is Everywhere faced off, and nearly everyone seemed to prefer the springy green vines of the US paperback release.
Winnah --->

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Chat: Sidekicks

I have downed interwebs at home, so this one went up a little late - this may also mean that the start to my Helluva Halloween this year is going to be a little...erratic.

Anywho, here's the Book Chat on Sidekicks. I think Sidekicks are a good bench mark for whether a book is really going to win you over or not. Sidekicks and side characters can make or break a novel.

Feel free to make your own video or blog response and link it up below!
NEXT WEEK: Villains!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Cinder and Ella

Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon
Fairy Tale, 208 pages
Expected publication: November 8th 2011
from Bonneville Books

After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.

The description is brief, but it's enough.  Well, that and this fabulous cover.  And the fact that I am obsessed with fairy tales.  And that the author's last name is Lemon.  Okay, there are a lot of reasons I want to read this book.  I'm thinking this might have to be on the docket for the next FTF.  
Anyone read an ARC of this one?  (I believe it was on Netgalley)  Anyone else wanting to read it?  Or love the word lemon?

What's on your wishlist?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week: The Perks of Being a Wallflower vlog

TBR Tuesday: Balefire

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]
On my TBR

Balefire by Cate Tiernan
After seventeen-year-old Thais Allard loses her widowed father in a tragic car accident, she is forced to leave the only home she's ever known to live with a total stranger in New Orleans. New Orleans greets Thais with many secrets and mysteries, but none as unbelievable as the moment she comes face to face with the impossible — an identical twin, Clio.
 Thais soon learns that she and the twin she never knew come from a family of witches, that she possesses astonishing powers, and that she, along with Clio, has a key role in Balefire, the coven she was born into. Fiery Clio is less than thrilled to have to share the spotlight, but the twins must learn to combine their powers in order to complete a rite that will transform their lives and the coven forever.

I bought Balefire awhile back on pure cover appeal.  Well, that an title appeal - I just thought it was a great combination.  And the title was full of too much interestingness for me to pass up.  But I really haven't got a clue what it's about or if it's any good, or when I'll ever get to it...
So, any of you read this one?  Love it, hate it, want it?

What's lurking in your TBR?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week Top 10 of 2010 vlog

I like Banned Books and I cannot lie...

Here are the top 10 most frequently challenged books of the past year. I HOPE YOU READ THEM ALL. :)

Giveaway of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler: http://www.thebookrat.com/2011/09/hosted-by-i-am-reader-not-writer-i-read.htmlEnds 10/1

ALA's Top 10 of 2010 list (source): http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged/2010/index.cfm

 More resources on bannings and things you can do: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/index.cfm

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Crime/Dystopia/Kinda hard to peg, 354 pages 
September 6th 2011 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

There has been a huge upswing in the amount of dystopian and dystopian-like books written in the past few years.  Some are excellent.  Some have excellent premises that are just not quite carried off.  And some have premises that leave you kinda scratching your head.  Despite all of the good things I've heard about Gabrielle Zevin, I was afraid this was going to fall in the latter category.  I mean, a world where chocolate and caffeine are banned, but alcohol is not?  And since that was all that was really being said about the book, it seemed like a pretty thin basis for a dystopia - hell, for a book in general.  I was...hesitant. I've been burned by a thin premise before.

But here's the thing (well, the things):
1. The dystopian-like elements of this are almost incidental.  They play a part (a big part), but it's not a dystopian story.
2. No matter how questionable elements in your world are, if you do them well, they will work.   If you build it they will come.  If you back your shit up, I'll buy in.

And I did.  So, to break it down:
This is being tossed around as a dystopia, and like I said, the elements are there.  But I am a firm believer that dystopia means something.  Dystopia - like satire - is used to highlight some aspect of society, to show us what could be from what is.  It's a magnifying glass held to our flaws, our society taken to its logical extremes, and all with the mantra that it's for our own good.  All These Things I've Done does have a smidge of that, but it's lacking the verve, the fervor, the ardency that comes with A Message.  And the reason is that it's not really about that.  Zevin's dystopian society just is.  It's not being used as a spotlight, and not even completely as a catalyst, but more just as a backdrop to the real story.  It's no different than an alien world or a fictionalized contemporary world.  It's simply a matter of 'this is what it is, and this is what we know.'  No one's fighting (yet), no one's being made martyrs - it's not about that.   It's more that this is just the world that is, and this is one girl's story in it.

This is a simple story of a girl who gets caught up in a whole lot of mess when the world starts noticing her and she starts noticing it back.  So let's move on from the dystopia into what it really is.  I've read reviews from a few friends who felt like they weren't able to connect to the characters or that Anya and the narration was really detached.  This was one of my favorite things.  The main character, Anya, is a bit of a cold fish.  She has led a really hard life and has an insane amount of pressure on her shoulders, all the while trying to get out from under the shadow of her family and what they represent (which, as the daughter of a slain mob boss, is no easy feat).  Anya's reservedness and tendency to go cold in her narration, to recap things and make less of them - I found this perfectly in keeping with her character and the world/character-building.  I understood her thoughts and reactions, and her standoffishness and fierce need to protect. I liked her reluctance and pragmatism, especially where Win is concerned.   It made her seem more real to me, and in some ways, more relatable.  Everything she is and does has a basis in her past, and that comes through palpably.

Generally, I felt this was true across the board.  I found all of the characters pretty relatable and I thought they added to my understanding of Anya and her world pretty nicely.  Yes, some are cardboard and I could have wished for something more dynamic, but in the telling, somehow it still works.  Anya's constant
"Daddyisms" - wise words from her mobster father -  made sense and helped build the picture.  The whole family unit, who they are and how they react and are portrayed, that all worked for me.  Win was a little too good and Gable a little too bad...But I do think Win is a good love interest, even if the whole thing creeps dangerously close to something that would normally irritate me (Romeo & Juliet bullshiz. Which this is, as it is essentially a retelling, star-crossed lovers and all that jazz).  But Anya's behavior saves it for me, cold-fish that she is.   I could have done more shades of gray, but that is all really in hindsight because, as I said, as I was reading, it all just worked for me.

All that said, there were 2 things that bothered me.  I mentioned the choc/caff banning as being a BIT ridiculous, but I can see a banning happening.  I can even see coffee speakeasies and black market extra dark chocolate bars.  What I CANNOT see is people getting high off of a candy bar.  I mean, we all joke about being chocoholics, but come on now.  I don't buy an honest-to-AA caffeine addict, I just don't.  But this was minimal-ish and I got over it.
The second thing that bothered me hit me like a ton of bricks and is spoilery, so if you don't want to know...

PRE-SPOILER (you can read this, it's safe)
I reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreally liked the relationship between Anya and Scarlet, her best friend, through most of the book.  I was so damn happy to be reading a book with a female main character who gets along with other female characters.  We all had a best friend in high school and for the most part, they weren't back-stabbing c*nts.  I am so beyond sick of this Mean Girl trend I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU.  So I was reading, and there was no Mean Girl-ness - even from the school gossip, who I was just waiting to turn bitchy - and I was giddy with the idea that there was going to be a healthy female relationship in a YA book.  And it wasn't even saccharine and fake - these two do have problems, they do have arguments and disagreements.  But then they do this miraculous thing where they talk about them and remain friends.  It was heaven.  And then.

And then Scarlet did something that I can't forgive, even if Anya could.  Scarlet began dating Gable, Anya's ex-boyfriend, who'd tried to date-rape her and then told the school she was a slut when she wouldn't sleep with him.
And then Aw-hellll-no Misty came out, and I was ....argh.  My Book Chat on pet peeves came out shortly there after, in which I mentioned that I am working my way up to the "douchebags and Mean Girls" rant because I can't make it past unintelligible cursing quite yet.
So no points for Scarlet.  Pissed me RIGHT the fuck off.
And they get it back on track.  There are reasons Scarlet dates him, and she's a big softy, and Anya forgives her so I guess I'm supposed to, too.


That flaw knocked it back some, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book by any means.  I'm confident Anya can take care of herself, and Gable certainly gets what's coming, and probably will forever and ever amen, so I'm good with that.  Scarlet's bad choice wasn't enough to spoil my the book for me, and Anya's voice and the overall dark tone of the story worked for me enough that, coupled with the hints of where this series is going, I'm certainly eager to see more.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In My Mailbox: 9/25/11 (aka 'In which I match my book and should not be allowed out of the house...')

Make sure to leave a link to your IMM in the comments, so I can see what goodies you got!  And if you've read any of my goodies, let me know what you thought of them. :) And as always, In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

New to my shelves:

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
Persuade Me by Juliet Archer
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Ophelia by Lisa Klein
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Soulstice by Simon Holt
The Pearl of the Soul of the World by Meredith Ann Pierce

Also mentioned:
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd)

CLOSED Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop!

Hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
I Read Banned Books!

It's been awhile since I did a hop, but what better way than to get back in than with banned books?  You know I love me some banned books and am a big supporter of Banned Books Week, so in honor of BBW and the recent shenanigans over Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, I am going to be giving away 1 copy!

For those of you who don't know what the eff* fuck I'm talking about, last year there was a big kerfuffle over some d-bag who wanted to ban a few books (Speak, Slaughterhouse-Five, Twenty Boy Summer) for absurd reasons - apparently a book about a girl coping with rape is porn, Slaughterhouse-Five is vulgar, and Twenty Boy Summer is just downright scandalous in its depiction of teens doing things that, you know, teens do...  And the school board in question caved on all except Speak. Bravo.

Recently, the school board that caved to said d-bag decided to "reverse" the decision and put Slaughterhouse and Summer back on the shelves.  In a restricted area.  Accessible only to adults.

Open-minded of them, right?

Well, when I got done saying FUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUU to the school board, I realized that I knew what I wanted to give away for BBW:
Twenty Boy Summer, a book that has been on my wishlist for some time.
(So I went ahead and bought myself a copy when I bought one for you.  Takin' one for the team. ;P )


To enter:
Fill out this form!
I generally don't like to do bonus points (math!) but in this case: +5 for leaving a comment with what you plan to do to get the word out about banned books during BBW.  (If anything. This is not required, I just love to see people's passion during BBW)
Ends 10/1 at midnight

[*Normally I would have said eff because of the cutesy factor, but then I was like, whoa whoa WHOA - I can't censor myself in a BANNED BOOKS WEEK post!!!  So there.]

You can check out the list of last year's most banned and challenged books here.  And don't forget to visit the other blogs on the hop!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Face Off: The Sky is Everywhere

A few people have fervently recommended Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere to me, but I never felt too compelled to want to own it until I saw the paperback version (middle).  I mean, I had nothing against the hardback cover (left), per se, but for whatever reason, even though the pb version is covered in vines, which are more earth than sky, I just felt drawn to it.  Looking into it, I also like the version with the roses (right) as well...
So what do you guys think?  If you've read it, which suits the story more for you?  If you haven't, which makes you want to pick it up?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  A Beautiful Dark and Of Poseidon face off, with Of Poseidon the clear winner.  I have to say, I agree 100%.
Winnah ---->  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Chat: Cover Trends

It's Book Chat time again!  This week's topic is COVER TRENDS.

I think this one is deserving of multiple video chats, too, so there will be further discussions of trends and covers in general in the future.  But for now, here's an overview of some of the dominant trends of the books on my shelves.

Feel free to join in on the coversation with your own vlog or blog post, and link it up below so everyone can see your thoughts.

[Next week's topic will be: SIDEKICKS!]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Persuade Me by Juliet Archer (EXCERPT)

You may recall all of the awesome Janeite-y goodness we had courtesy of one Juliet Archer this past Jane in June.  You know, things like this interview, this excerpt, and this character interview with a certain Dr. Wentworth - things like that.   So many of you expressed an interest (a rabid, fangirly interest) in reading Juliet's upcoming book, Persuade Me.  A modern telling of Wentworth and Anne + that cover = we all wanted it now.
Well, it is out now, so you can get it now.  But for those of you who can't rush out to get it quite right, um, now, how's about another little taste?

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Excerpt from Persuade Me, Juliet Archer’s updated version of Persuasion. This is the second book in her series Darcy & Friends and it opens with a Foreword by none other than Will Darcy:

A magazine headline, circled in black ink: ‘Never forgive, never forget’. You can tell a lot from what’s on a person’s desk …
Some years ago, just before I met Elizabeth, I took my sister Georgie to Australia for a much-needed holiday. She was going through a particularly difficult time; so, when she showed a spark of her previous passion for saving the planet, I encouraged it in every possible way.
During a brief visit to Melbourne I discovered that there was an expert in marine conservation based at one of the local universities, a Dr Rick Wentworth. I sent him an email, using the pretext of possible interest from the Pemberley Foundation in his Save the Sea Dragons campaign – although I usually avoid the ‘grand benefactor’ act at all costs. When I received a terse and somewhat begrudging invitation to meet in his office, I immediately pictured an old, cross, bespectacled nerd.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. He turned out to be young, charming and, judging from Georgie’s sharp intake of breath, very easy on the female eye. And he was English, with a northern accent that had apparently resisted all attempts at Australianisation.
He even apologised for the tone of his invitation. He told us that, with his work attracting more and more media attention, he’d become wary of requests like mine. This led to a brief discussion about the drawbacks of being a modern celebrity, especially a reluctant one.
As we talked, I realised that he was meticulous about his research – and not just on sea dragons. I’d given him no indication of my sister’s troubles and had taken the necessary steps to gag the press, although inevitably some details had leaked out. Yet I sensed he knew – and understood – what she’d been through …
So I watched in genuine admiration as he drew Georgie out of her dark shell into the wider world, if only for an hour. He held us both spellbound with stirring tales of battles against natural elements and man-made disasters, often in the form of short-sighted bureaucracy, and showed us stunning footage of the fragile creatures he was fighting to protect. Of the man himself I learned very little – until we got up to leave.
At this point he scrawled his personal email address on a piece of paper and handed it to a blushing Georgie, urging her to get in touch with any questions. That in itself made me warm to him and decide on a generous donation from the Foundation for his campaign – an unusual instance of my heart ruling my head.
But the piece of paper had been hiding something on his desk, a magazine article with a big bold headline. A headline that obviously had a greater significance because he’d drawn a brutal black ring round it: ‘Never forgive, never forget.’
They were words I could relate to completely. Except that I was thinking of the man who’d broken my sister’s heart, whereas he – as I discovered much later into our friendship – was thinking of the girl who’d broken his.
Although neither of us knew it then, their paths would cross when he wrote a book and, despite some misgivings, visited England to promote it.
This is their story …

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Persuade Me is in stores now
You can check out my thoughts on Persuade Me in the 3rd Annual Jane in June
Visit Juliet on the interwebs:

Wishlist Wednesday: Incarnate

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Dystopia/Utopia, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 31st 2012
from HarperCollins Children's Books

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

When I first read the description and saw the cover for this one, I wasn't quite sure it was for me.  Don't get me wrong, it sounds interesting and looks pretty, but it also sounds like it has the potential to be a little too saccharine for my tastes.  But then I started reading some good reviews, and some of them are from people who dislike saccharine as much as I do, so I slowly came around and started looking forward to this one.  Then I started reading some not-so-good reviews, and now I just don't know what to think...
How 'bout you?  Anyone read this, or wishlisting it?

What's on your wishlist?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Shine

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

Shine by Lauren Myracle
Contemporary, Mystery 350 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Amulet Books
When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

I kind of can't believe I haven't read this yet, as the cover is constantly in my line of sight and calls to me often.  I awaited this really eagerly (even got it from Netgalley, but decided I wanted to read a physical copy), but it's just been one thing after another and I just can't seem to find the time for it.  I'm hoping to get in a few solid chunks of reading-my-own-damn-books towards the end of this year and beginning of next, so hopefully this will be on the list.  But the lists are always longer than the days...
Have you guys read this one?  Does it deserve the hype (and the gorgeous cover)?  Should it be a definite on the shortlist?

What's lurking in behind your TBR monster?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

This review brought to you by September Zombies & Capt. PiRat
(and vvb32 reads. And Talk Like a Pirate Day)
Also, there be talk of smut.
Yeah.  All of that.

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Steampunk/Historical/Zombies and a whole lotta stuffs, 378 pages
October 5th 2010 from Berkley Trade
After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession. But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

Oh, The Iron Duke.  Where do I even begin?  I guess first I should thank Velvet for being so amazeballs and sending this to me (thanks, V!).  I overcame my loathing of "chestical" covers to read this due to its inclusion of steampunk zombies, and for all that it is flawed, I have to say I enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it.

Forgive me, then, for starting with the things I not-so-much liked.  The titular character, the Iron Duke, is...rapey.  If you don't read a lot of romance in this vein, you may not get the distinction of what I am about to say, or why it bothered me:
Romance (historical, paranormal, urban, doesn't matter) is very densely populated with "alpha male" characters.  Sometimes they work and you love them for being flawed and domineering, but ultimately protective and cuddle-able.  These aren't men you'd date in real life, but they are good for warming up a cold night. (A cold night curled up with a book, people.)
Sometimes they don't work, and you see them for the d-bags they are.  They're too cocky, too domineering, and too handsy - in a number of ways, not all of them good - to ever really feel comfortable with.  They've had one too many slices of testosteroni and they come off more skeevy than smexy.

And then there's the Duke.  The simple fact is, he takes d-baggery to a different level.  But really only where sex is concerned.  In most respects he's an interesting character - he's a former/would-be-again pirate, and sort of one of the more terrifying guys around, so you'd expect a little roughness.  But where all that is concerned, he's kind of likeable.  Despite his unhealthy and turn-offish penchant for looking at everything and everyone he values as his "possession", he actually seems to have a fair few things going for him.  He's smart, he's strong, he's good looking in a threatening, scowlish way.  He sees through bullshit, fights for what he loves or believes in, and doesn't seem to comprehend, let alone care about, deal-breaker flaws like racism, etc.  There are things about him to like.

But then Mina comes into the picture and his possessive tendencies go into overdrive.  Apparently the man cannot be gentle for more than 2 seconds; any longer and he must push Mina against a wall or threaten to shag her brains out.  And I do mean threaten; sometimes throaty growls of this nature can be sexy, but the Duke's all seem to imply "whether you like it or not" - Mina doesn't really seem to have a say in the matter; for the Duke it is a foregone conclusion.  [Also, PSA: "shag" is about the un-sexiest sex-related word ever.  And it was used SO MANY TIMES.  And then again in the next book I read.  Can we all just agree that, unless you are talking about carpet or you are this man, shag should be excised from your vocabulary.]

Ok, so lest you think I'm just being sensitive to this issue, let me make things a little clearer: Mina has been raped before, and lives her life in fear of beatings and rapes because of who she is.  She is justifiably terrified of sex.  Like, full-blown panic attacks, terrified.  And the Duke knows this.  And still with the rape-iness.
And I was even willing to kind of go with this thinking that it was going to be a bit of a redemptive story, with the Duke opening up and learning how to be a little more gentle and understanding as he learns to love.  And he does learn to love, I have no doubt of his affection for Mina.  But his sexuality takes ardent and intimidating over the line into downright scary, all the way to the end of the book.  He never really changes, and that was a letdown.

On the minor issues side, there were a lot of copy-editing mistakes for a finished book, and I couldn't help but let it annoy me near the end.  Things would be going along fine and then BAM, glaring mistake.  There were things that were really forced as well, like the fact that every one calls the Iron Duke 'the Iron Duke' to his face.  Seemed a little weird for the Victorian-ish society, which is so particular about address, since it's really a nickname, and not always one said with love.  The Duke's treatment of Mina and their doubt of each other, their constant misunderstandings, etc, seemed forced too, and were very obviously plot devices.

But despite all this, I ate this book up.  I know, I know, you're saying how can you write so much negative crap and then say "I liked it, you should read it"?  Like this:

I liked it, you should read it.

What can I say?  Like the Duke, it was flawed, but the fact of the matter is, it's still a good damn book!  Meljean Brook can write, and in a genre that's often very fluffy, this one has some definite substance to it.  The world building was just fantastic - I read the synopsis and thought "Zombies? Steampunk? Victoriana? Piracy? Politics? Smut? Racism and women's lib? Kraken and megalodons? Adventures and inspectings? Nano-technology?  There's no way this is all going to work together."  BUT IT DID.  I can't really call this book any one of those many, many things - it's each of them in nearly equal measure, and it's kind of incredible for it.  All of these potentially extreme parts worked together harmoniously to build a world that was fascinating and wholly different from ours, and yet still believable.  Each thing seemed like it belonged.  Brook understands that no matter how far-fetched your world, you still have to have rules, you still have to have stakes, and actions have to have consequences.  You have to set your limits and, though you may push them, you can never break them if you want the reader to buy your world or care at all.
I bought it and I cared.

And despite the rapiness of the Duke at times, there are other times where it's just plain good and smexy. Brook doesn't hold back,  and there is a shockingly large usage of the word 'cock' for a Victorian-ish society. And what's even more shocking is that it didn't seem all that out of place.  Brook's Victorian-like London is changed enough that there is good reason to believe people a bit more uninhibited and accepting of things like this.  But most of all, Mina is kick ass. I love her and I rooted for her and I want to read more of her adventures.  A book like this basically hinges on the male and female leads, and where the Duke was a bit of a bother for me, Mina made up for it in spades. She's dynamic and she grows throughout the story, opening up and confronting things and learning to embrace who she is. It's lovely.  And it's worth it to read this book just for the scene where Mina slides down a rope from an airship and takes on a giant effing Kraken.  I'm sorry if that was a built spoilery, but come on!  That would have made it into the teaser trailer if this were a movie, so I feel no shame in sharing.

So yeah.  There you have it.  It's not without its flaws, and some big ones at that, but for all that it may really bother some people, a lot more are going to find things to love in it.  I normally pick up a book and say "Ugh, another series?" even when it sounds interesting, but this one I'm actually glad is the first of a series - I'm eager to see more of Mina's world.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In My Mailbox: 9/18/11

Make sure to leave a link to your IMM in the comments, so I can see what goodies you got!  And if you've read any of my goodies, let me know what you thought of them. :)
And as always, In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

New to my shelves:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larson
Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost
One Foot in the Grave by Jeanine Frost
Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Undone by Rachel Caine
The Hidden Goddess by MK Hobson
Lightborn by Alison Sinclair
Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Bless Me Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya
Tempest's Legacy by Nicole Peeler
Black Butler, vol 2 by Yana Toboso
The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Vigue
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Promises to Keep by Charles de Lint
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Sati by Christopher Pike
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Dark Calling by Darren Shan

Also mentioned:
the Emma series by Kaoru Mori <--- I mentioned lots of other books, that I didn't get, but this is the only one I feel I need to link to and have you click.  SO GOOD!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Face Off: A Beautiful Dark vs Of Poseidon

I have other covers that I've been seeing around that I think would make fine Face Off material against Jocelyn Davies' A Beautiful Dark OR Anna Banks' Of Poseidon, but these two I think work best.  They are very clearly different covers, based on different pictures, but there's no denying the similarities.  And I'm not sure how I feel about either.  So how about you? Either of these inspire any cover love?  Which one would you reach for in a store?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  In what was almost a complete shut out, The Adoration of Jenna Fox pulled off a win over the puzzling cover of MetaGame (ha. ha.).  Though to be fair, a number of you confessed you weren't a fan of either, or the puzzle piece faces in general.
Winnah ---->

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CLOSED Trailer and Giveaway: Dreamland by Alyson Noël

Dreamland by Alyson Noël
Fantasy, 224 pages
September 13th 2011 by Square Fish
Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.

I've never read this series, but it has some of the prettiest covers I've ever seen.  Enchanting.

Want to win this enchanting cover (and all of its insides) for yourself?  Well then...

To enter, fill out the form below. This giveaway is US and CAN only and it ends Sept 25th.
Good luck!!

More Alyson Noël 

Book Chat: Bookish Pet Peeves (#1)

Hey KITTENS* it's time for this week's Book Chat w/ The Book Rat (<--- ^_~ ), and this week's topic is
I realized quickly on that I couldn't fit all of my lit pet peeves in 1 short video, so this is part 1.  Feel free to do your chat as you see fit.  And remember, you can get involved in the discussion at any time, and if you do, link it up below so everyone can see your take!

*an extra special "kittens" for Basically Amazing Ash.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday: Graffiti Moon

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Contemporary, 257 pages
Expected publication: February 14th 2012 
from Knopf Books for Young Readers

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.

The strength of Crowley's A Little Wanting Song, which I reviewed last year (and which made the list of my favorites of 2010!) means that pretty much anything Crowley publishes will go straight on my wishlist.  Crowley captures characters - and my heart* - so beautifully, so even though contemporary books don't often end up being wishlisters for me, this one has a firm place on the list.  I can't wait to meet Lucy, Shadow and Ed.
*pardon the cheesiness of that statement. It was inexcusable. But true.

Anyone else wishing and waiting for this one?  Have you read A Little Wanting Song?  (If not, you should.)

What's on your wishlist?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TBR Tuesday: The Iron Witch

Most of us have books we've bought with all intentions of reading (or maybe just because it was cheap!), only to have them fade away on a shelf or disappear into a stack of books, never to be seen or thought of again.
TBR Tuesday is a way to talk about the books we own but haven't read, see what other people think about them, and help us decide whether to bump it up our list or knock it off completely.
[If you're more a book borrower than a book buyer, you're still welcome to participate with the books that you've been meaning to read and haven't!]

On my TBR

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Fantasy, 290 pages
Published by Flux
Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

I bought this one not too long after it came out, and I wasn't really sure when I'd have a chance to read it.  When I started planning for Helluva Halloween, I thought maybe I'd be able to work it into that, but my list of options and want-tos just kept growing and growing, and this is one of the titles that ended up on the cutting room floor.  
What do you guys think of this one?  Have you read it?  Like, dislike, indifferent?

What's lurking in your TBR pile this week?

Monday, September 12, 2011

CLOSED Glittering Ashes guest post & giveaway

Hey kittens.  I have a guest post for you today from Kelley Smith, author of Glittering Ashes - make sure to stick around to the end for a giveaway of the book!
Take it away, Kelley!

First off, I want to thank Misty for letting me be a guest on her amazing blog! She gives such awesome reviews, and I'm really glad to be here.

I want to talk about something close to my heart, YA, and why I love to read it (and write it). Here are just some of the reasons that YA is the bee's knees to me and why it is my ultimate go-to genre for all my reading materials, given to you in the form of a poem:

An Ode to YA

Oh, YA.
I am forever wooed by you,
Your awesomeness,
And your ability to captivate both my mind
And my library account,
As well as my Amazon recommendations.
I spend my money on you,
But you're always worth it.
Your love is sweeter;
Your stakes are higher;
You keep me turning your pages
At dangerous speeds,
As I try to get more of you.
You are eternally young.
You can be edgy,
Full of magic,
Or contemporarily enchanting.
You have the best bad boys
And good boys,
And boys with crazy powers.
You have kick arse heroines,
And you keep me reading,
And writing,
For hours.

Thanks again, Misty, for having me and for hosting a giveaway of my book Glittering Ashes. Best of luck to everyone who enters!

About the book:
Glittering AshesKelley Smith
At seventeen, Roe Daniels didn’t need to believe in fairy tales, she knew they didn’t exist. But when Roe moves to Gaudium Falls to be with her aunt, she finds the elusive friend, a love triangle turned square, and the magic that she would have bet six bucks never existed.

Within a new town Roe doesn’t trust enough to call home, she’ll find a place she knows is too good to get used to and too perfect to trust, and a boy also too close to that description to fall for. She’ll survive the contact with the world that feels so foreign to her and the boy who is big enough to shake that world and her life to its core, or she’ll watch everything she’s just beginning to know and to love burn to glittering ashes at her feet.

Kelley has offered a copy of Glittering Ashes to 1 winner.  Please note this is an ebook!
Ends 9/26
All I need from you to enter is your email, but I don't like making people leave info like that in comments when I can avoid it, so just leave your email in the form below and you're entered!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In My Mailbox: 9/11/11

Make sure to leave a link to your IMM in the comments, so I can see what goodies you got!  And if you've read any of my goodies, let me know what you thought of them. :)
And as always, In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

New to my shelves this week:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolun Mackler
Red Velvet and Absinthe, edited by Mitzi Szereto
Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Gone by Lisa McMann
The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Red Glove by Holly Black
The Radleys by Matt Haig
I Am America (and So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
This Side of the Grave by Jeanine Frost (again!)
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller
Spice & Wolf vol 1 by Isuna Hasekura
House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto - giveaway is HERE
Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil by Derek Landy
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

Also mentioned:
Burning Up - the Jonas Bros book, which is not new to my shelves, but will be new to the kids it's going to =)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Halfway to the Grave by Jeanine Frost
Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Cialina @ Muggle Born
Kristen @ The Book Monsters

Remember how I said I didn't think I'd be going to any more closing Borders?  Yeah, about that...
See you next week!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...