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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Last Book Haul...

... of 2012. ;)

Yep, last book haul of the year - last vlog of the year, actually. It's definitely been a great, book-filled year, just the way I you we like love it!

From Liz (http://www.consumedbybooks.com/):
(0:16) Seraphina: http://amzn.to/zqiexC
(0:33) The Last Dragon Slayer: http://amzn.to/VpxV0d
(and a dragon necklace)

From Ksenia (http://polishoutlander.com/ ALSO : http://macteenbooks.com/mackidsblog/):
(1:14) Same Difference: http://amzn.to/YybwPB
(1:37) Americus: http://amzn.to/VNmNJu
(1:55) Sailor Twain; or The Mermaid of the Hudson: http://amzn.to/UB8Nqz
(and a TARDIS)

From Little, Brown (http://www.littlebrown.com/):
(2:31) Etiquette & Espionage: http://amzn.to/10yLSjc

From Hachette UK (http://www.hachettechildrens.co.uk/):
(2:50) Mist: http://amzn.to/YyaQtr
and Frost: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10722525-frost

From Macmillan (http://us.macmillan.com/MacKids.aspx):
(3:25) Midwinterblood: http://amzn.to/WXj9DG
- on Friday Face Off

From Disney Hyperion (http://disney.go.com/books/index):
(3:53) Cinders & Sapphires: http://amzn.to/RkS3Dj
(and some tea & biscuits!)

From Scholastic (http://www.scholastic.com):
(4:45) The Fire Horse Girl: http://amzn.to/WRSJzs

From Holly (http://bookworminbarrie.blogspot.ca/):
(6:33) Pushing the Limits: http://amzn.to/WRSxjJ

(5:24) and an owl notebook from Renee (http://www.youtube.com/user/NEHOMAS2)!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Face Off: Mind Games vs. Mind Games...sort of

A couple weeks ago, we had a Face Off between Kiersten White's Mind Games and Jessica Brody's Unremembered. Mind Games won, and I told you to remember its cover because you'd be seeing it again. And to prove I'm not a liar:
Here is the US version of KWhite's next book, and the UK version, which beyond having a totally different cover - and feel to that cover - also has a completely different name (Sister Assassin). These two give very different impressions, so I'm definitely curious which you'd reach for.
Which one did it better?

Last Week Um, sorta 2 weeks ago on FFO: We had a non-traditional Face Off when the US and UK trailers for Marcus Sedgwick's Midwinterblood went head to head. Each trailer had a very distinct vibe and highlighted completely different aspects of the book, which was pretty interesting, but in the end, the UK's more ominous tone won out.
Winner ------------>

Monday, December 24, 2012

Better World Books Haul

As promised (though admittedly, a little late), my Cyber Monday Better World Books haul. =)
Some of these were big wishlisters, and some were pure impulse buys, but I have to say, they all make me happy-faced.
All of these came from BETTERWORLDBOOKS.COM, which I love. I know I sound like a paid advertisement for them, but I swear that's just my serious bookseller love coming through - they're a for-profit business with a soul, and I've been pushing them on everyone for years, so I love when someone new discovers them.

(1:45) We, the Drowned: http://amzn.to/VeXX9C
(2:17) Demonglass: http://amzn.to/TQn3cS
(2:39) Cate of the Lost Colony: http://amzn.to/ZuiYBe
(3:01) After Obsession: http://amzn.to/TQmJeb
(3:53) Throat: http://amzn.to/Tg90hY
(4:24) Texas Gothic: http://amzn.to/Tg8W1T
(4:52) Liar's Moon: http://amzn.to/tsYV5g
(6:02) Beauty Queens: http://amzn.to/109BMoF
(6:51) Memento Nora: http://amzn.to/Tg95SK
(7:22) The Demon's Lexicon: http://amzn.to/109ABWm

Liz: http://www.youtube.com/user/consumedbybooks
Allison: http://www.youtube.com/user/allureofbooks
Zoraida: http://www.youtube.com/user/ZoraidaLand
Kristen: http://www.thebookmonsters.com/

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Literary FESTIVE Tag

So, you may have noticed no Friday Face Off this week. I would like to claim it was intentional, but it was just holiday absent-mindedness. I figured, though, that I'd just run with it; since everyone's so busy right now,  voting would probably be low anyway.  (So if you want to vote on last week's Midwinterblood trailer Face Off, it'll be open for another week.)

But though I'm too scattered and in frenzied present-making mode to organize my thoughts for a review or five, I do have a backlog of videos to get out, and I figured I'd start with a seasonally appropriate one: the Literary Festive Tag. This was created by Renee, whose original tag you can see here.
It's pretty straight-forward; questions are below.

Feel free to leave your answers to any of the questions in the comments!

The Questions:
1. Name 5 books on your Christmas wishlist
2. A book you like to read/would like to read for the holiday season
3. Favourite Christmas book as a child
4. Which literary character do you think would give the best gifts?
5. If you could chose 3 literary characters to bestow gifts upon, who would they be, what would you give them, and why.
6. If you could give one character a lump of coal for being bad, who would it be?
7. Which Scrooge-like character do you think would be the biggest downer during the holiday season?
8. Invite 5 authors and 5 characters to a festive season party!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Shelf x Shelf: ORANGE

Welcome to the 3rd "episode" of my bookshelf tour. This time we're taking a look at (mostly) orange books, which is the 2nd least popular for a book spine, if my shelves are any indication. (The first is pink, though I have a suspicion that this may be due to my lack of pink book buying...)

Feel free to respond with your own orange books - I'd love to see them! =)

To watch the super quick version, go here.

Catch up on the rest of the bookshelf tour so far here.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares: http://amzn.to/MmMEFv
Of Bees and Mist: http://amzn.to/UUPeqw
Scumble: http://amzn.to/ULhyeT
Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls: http://amzn.to/V9MHLy
Kitty Takes a Holiday: http://amzn.to/reuo3w
The Girl Who Played with Fire: http://amzn.to/ULhBHu
A Wind in the Door: http://amzn.to/ULhFHb
A Swiftly Tilting Planet: http://amzn.to/UUPmGz
Many Waters: http://amzn.to/ULhKuw
Drawing of the Three: http://amzn.to/V9MOXq
Of Mice and Men: http://amzn.to/ULhR9j
The Catcher in the Rye: http://amzn.to/T2Rcck
Enna Burning: http://amzn.to/q5JaoP
Jellicoe Road: http://amzn.to/sMmwYk 
Bride Flight: http://amzn.to/ULi1NV
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban: http://amzn.to/UUPvtz
Why I'm Afraid of Bees: http://amzn.to/UUPupE
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel: http://amzn.to/ULieka
The Bean Trees: http://amzn.to/V9MWpU
The Empress's Tomb: http://amzn.to/ULigbT
Cold Comfort Farm: http://amzn.to/UclmHX
Sati: http://amzn.to/ULikZb (this is in the Amazon Bargain Bin right now!!)
Tales of Edgar Allan Poe: http://amzn.to/Tb7Ggm
Echoes omnibus: http://amzn.to/UT5Ez1 (Bargain. Bin.)
Green Eggs and Ham: http://amzn.to/T2U74J
Dragonhaven: http://amzn.to/Tb7tcZ
The Kitchen House: http://amzn.to/12t3Kva 
Pump Six & Other Stories: http://amzn.to/TbBY1g
Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farm: http://amzn.to/V9NtYW
Life of Pi: http://amzn.to/UT5szA
Infinity: http://amzn.to/uD7blM
Little Bee: http://amzn.to/V9Nv3c
Big Fish: http://amzn.to/ULjG6c
Stupid Cupid: http://amzn.to/V9NoEM
Silver Borne: http://amzn.to/ULjzrl
This is All; the Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn: http://amzn.to/Tb7g9L
Son of the Shadows: http://amzn.to/V9Nn3D
Every Inch of Her: http://amzn.to/Tb7eyO
Armageddon Summer: http://amzn.to/V9Njkn
Because of Winn-Dixie: http://amzn.to/Tb7bTD (another bargain binner!)
Jane Eyre: http://amzn.to/V9Nkoz (this is the copy I wish I had... so pretty)
Warbreaker: http://amzn.to/12t3hsQ
The Poison Apples: http://amzn.to/ULiSOK (also in the bargain bin)
Damosel: http://amzn.to/MmMe23 
Somehow accidentally cut the part where I talk about CANE by Jean Toomer: http://amzn.to/Tb7Lkg
I have since added THE DEMON'S LEXICON to this shelf: http://amzn.to/T2VoIX

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book Chat: Best Books of 2012

Welcome to the last Book Chat of the year!!

So, since I know everyone's busy with end of the year stuff, and you're probably thinking about or doing this already anyway, I figured we'd go with our best books of 2012 for this month's topic. You can decide how many you want to showcase in YOUR Best Of, but I'm going with my top 12(ish) of 2012.

THESE ARE ALL BOOKS I WOULD GLADLY PLUNK DOWN MONEY FOR, so if you're looking for last minute gifts for your readerly friends...these are Misty-approved. ;)

(note: I counted series as 1 selection, and am linking to the series page; order below is just the random order of the video and not any type of ranking.)
1. Vessel: http://amzn.to/M5fNZF
2. Seraphina: http://amzn.to/M7S6uq
3. Titan Magic: http://amzn.to/VJalee
4. Fairyland series: http://amzn.to/URXllE
5. Immortal Beloved series: http://amzn.to/R0tBqP
6. Girl of Nightmares: http://amzn.to/OrJCnb
7. Shadows on the Moon: http://amzn.to/P5N8jf
8. Zita the Spacegirl series: http://amzn.to/URXtBM
9. Because It Is My Blood: http://amzn.to/LHQXcH
10. Fever series: http://amzn.to/U1NflU
11. Days of Blood and Starlight: http://amzn.to/SwcpGB
12. The Duff: http://amzn.to/VIHg2P

Honorable Mentions:
Scarlet: http://amzn.to/QZLstj
Ask the Passengers: http://amzn.to/Swbw0J
Demon Trapper's Daughter series: http://amzn.to/UxOXbX (first book is in Amazon's bargain bin right now!)
White Cat: http://amzn.to/VII47N
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight: http://amzn.to/VJbGBv
The Drowned Cities: http://amzn.to/R0u7VR
Fathomless: http://amzn.to/NEdjDs
The Archived: http://amzn.to/O5Mhj8
The Diviners: http://amzn.to/NbPM8C

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Face Off: Midwinterblood

I recently came across Marcus Sedgwick's Midwinterblood, which is set to be released in the US in February. When I was looking into it, I noticed that it had already been released in the UK (last year, in fact), and that the UK version had a trailer. Wouldn't it be interesting, I thought, if the US had a different trailer? That would make a good Face Off... Well, lo and behold, it does.  So today, we're having a bit of a non-traditional Face Off. Below you'll find the trailers for the UK (top) and US (bottom) versions of Midwinterblood; they both have very different approaches, emphasizing different aspects of the story and giving a completely different idea of what may be found in their very differing covers.  Take a look at both (they're short, I promise) and then vote on which makes you more curious about the story. Which one makes you want to pick up the book? Which one do you find a better/more exciting/more intriguing trailer?
Which one did it better?

UK version:

US version:

Last Week on FFO: Kiersten White's Mind Games went head to head with Jessica Brody's Unremembered, with Mind Games easily taking the cake.
Winner -----> 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rachel's Writing Tips ~ guest post from Rachel Roberts, author of the Avalon series

Today I have a guest post from Rachel Roberts, author of the middle grade magical adventure series, Avalon: Web of Magic.
The series (and the resulting manga) have some of the most gorgeous artwork in kids books right now (seriously, so pretty!), but today Rachel is going to talk a bit about her biggest tips for writers - so all of you who just tried desperately to NaNoWriMo and struggled, take note!

And make sure to keep an eye out in the coming days for a special delivery from Avalon... ;)

Rachel's Writing Tips

Greetings mages! Here are some tips to get you writing your own story.

Just start writing: Sometimes it feels scary to look at a blank screen or piece of paper. You want everything to be perfect, but the most important thing is to get your ideas and feelings onto the page, no matter what they look like on the first try. The goal is to create the building blocks of your story, one step at a time.
You have an outline with chapters, so expand on those, filling them out with descriptions and dialogue. Start with one chapter at a time, and soon you'll have a first draft! As you go, try printing each chapter and scribbling notes all over it with a good red pen. You'll end up crossing out what you don't need, rearranging some things and coming up with new ideas. Once you input these notes back into your document, you've got a second draft that is looking more polished and one step closer to being done. Repeat the print-scribble-input process until you're satisfied that you have your final draft. Remember, working on a story is half writing and half editing - even this blog went through several drafts! - so just write, knowing that you're building your story piece by piece and will smooth out the rough edges with each draft.

Research:  Nothing takes a reader out of a story faster than feeling like the writer doesn't know what they're talking about. So if you decide that your character is going to ride a train, but you, the author, have never ridden a train, you don't know how a train feels and smells and sounds, so your description is not going to be authentic. Go to the library, research on line, talk to someone who has experienced what you're writing about, or, if possible, get on that train yourself.
Research is especially important when writing fantasy. That might sound weird - how are you supposed to research things you're making up? But fantasy is where research meets imagination. You need good, solid details to make your creatures and magical places feel authentic, no matter how fantastical they are. Creating a magical creature like a mistwolf definitely takes imagination, but without researching how wolves look, move, hunt, and communicate, Stormbringer, Dreamer and the rest of the pack wouldn't have the details that make them feel like real creatures.

How do you make your story unique?  Stay true to what you love. When you write from the heart, your descriptions and characters feel authentic, and your story will reflect your unique point of view. Whatever fascinates you - whether it's magic jewels or three toed sloths or spaceships - your excitement will shine through your writing and get readers interested and excited, too. Trust your instincts. If you think something's funny, odds are that your readers will laugh also.

It's all in the details:  Small details make a big difference. Know the details about your character and your settings, from what kind of stuffed animals are on your heroine's bed to what kinds of trees are growing in your magical forest. You don't need pages and pages of description, just a few key details to make the people and places in your story feel real. Your story will also have certain rules, from how a portal works to the layout of your main character's house. Once you establish these rules, you've got to be consistent. If your unicorn is blue in one scene and green in another, that's going to confuse your readers and take them out of the story. Try keeping a list of important details and drawing maps of your locations so you'll always know what your world looks like and what rules you've got to follow.

Choosing the perfect word:  The perfect word can turn an okay description into a wow-I-feel-like-I'm-actually-there description. It's also important not to repeat yourself and use the same words over and over. Writing Avalon, it's challenging to come up with different ways to say twinkly - there's so much magic flying around, and well, it's twinkly. If you get stuck, grab a thesaurus and start searching. And if you still can't find the perfect word, don't let that stop you in your tracks. Use a placeholder - whatever fits best at the moment - and you'll try again on the next draft.

As with any creative project, writing takes time, work, and discipline. Stories don't just pop onto the page looking perfect, and I hope these blogs have given you some tools to get from your first idea to your final draft. And remember, as you go through each step of the writing process, have fun!

Your fellow writer mage,Rachel

Find Rachel online, and find out more about the Avalon: Web of Magic series here!
And make sure to keep an eye out for the pretty amazeballs giveaway I'm going to have coming up!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Interview: Sarah Beth Durst, author of Vessel!

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Sarah Beth Durst, author of one of my favorite novels of this year (easily), Vessel! I'll be sharing my thoughts on Vessel tomorrow (they amount to GetItGetItGetItNOW), but until then, Sarah Beth is here to chat with us about building the gorgeous desert world, staying true to yourself as a writer, and what we can expect from her next!

Welcome, Sarah Beth! The world of Vessel is incredibly complex and full - did you do a lot of research into desert culture, mythology, history, religion, etc., or did the world evolve organically out of what was needed for the characters and story?

I love research! Before I had any idea what the story was or who the characters were, I knew I wanted to write about a desert. So I researched the Gobi, the Sahara, and various other deserts around the world. I like to build my fantasy on a foundation of truth.

What was the most difficult aspect of crafting Vessel? (World-building, characters, the mentality of a "vessel," etc?)

The most difficult was also the most wonderful: worldbuilding. Writing VESSEL was such an immersive experience. Every time I sat down at my computer, I felt like I was stepping through a portal. And I wanted to be sure that what was on the other side of that portal felt rich and real so I spent a lot of time crafting details, creating the mythology, and imagining Liyana's harsh desert home.

Vessel is made up of various nomadic desert clans - which clan would you most like to be a part of, and which clan would you least like to be a part of?

I'd love to be a part of Liyana's clan. Her family truly loves one another... even if they did leave her behind to die.

Err...that's a big "even if"... *blinks*
Moving on! Each of your books has been completely different from one another - is this intentional on your part? Do you actively seek to try something different each time, or do you just go with whatever grabs you at the moment?

All of my books are fantasy, but I do leap around the subgenres. INTO THE WILD and OUT OF THE WILD are fractured fairy tales (about fairy-tale characters in the real world... but the fairy tale wants them back), ICE is a modern retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon wrapped up in an Arctic adventure story, ENCHANTED IVY is about getting into college (with talking gargoyles and were-tigers), DRINK SLAY LOVE is my snarky paranormal about a vampire girl who's stabbed through the heart by a were-unicorn, and now there's VESSEL, a sweeping epic adventure about a girl who is destined to sacrifice herself so her goddess can inhabit her body, but her goddess doesn't come.

I try to write books that I want to read. Have you ever heard the cliched advice "write what you know"? I firmly believe that advice should be changed to "write what you love."

Follow-up: do you ever run into problems because of that, either from publishers or from readers who like to be able to pin people down, and want "another book like ________"?

Short answer is: no, it's never been a problem. Longer answer is: as different as my books are on the surface, they’re all me on the inside. So they all have certain things in common. All of them are fantasy. All of them are adventures. All of them have a sense of humor (though the amount varies). All of them have romance (again, the amount varies). And all of them have an overriding feeling of optimism and empowerment.

I think fantasy is (or can be) a literature of hope and empowerment. When I close a really good fantasy book, I feel like the world is a little more magical, a little more wonderful, and a little larger than it was before. And I think that feeling can happen regardless of whether the magic comes from vampires, desert deities, or talking gargoyles.

One of the things I absolutely love is that for both Drink, Slay, Love and Vessel, before the full synopsis was released, a little teaser synopsis for each was posted. Both were very short and very catchy - do you have any say in these teaser synopses, or even in using them to lead up to the full synopsis.
(Seriously, whoever writes them is genius. They are utterly compelling.)

Thanks! Some of them I wrote, some my agent did, some my editor, and some the marketing department at the publisher.

With the exception of Into the Wild/Out of the Wild, all of your books have been stand-alones. Do you ever want to revisit any of your other books and write a sequel or a spin-off?

I loved writing a sequel to INTO THE WILD. It was like visiting old friends... and then turning their lives upside down. While I don't have any immediate plans to write sequels to my other books, I'm not closing the door to doing it someday. Whenever I finish a novel, I do miss the characters, so who knows what the future will bring... :)

I am actually in the process of writing my very first trilogy, called THE LOST, THE MISSING, and THE FOUND. It's about a woman who runs from her empty life and is trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.

And another follow up, similar to the first - do you ever feel a push from publishers/readers to go the series route?

I love when readers want more! That means I did something right.

What should we be expecting from you next?

Next year, I have two books coming out: THE LOST (the first in the trilogy that I mentioned above) from Harlequin/Luna and SWEET NOTHINGS (title may change) from Bloomsbury/Walker. SWEET NOTHINGS is about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program who, haunted by dreams of carnival tents and tarot cards, must remember her past and why she has strange abilities before a magic-wielding serial killer hunts her down. I'm really excited about both of them!

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thanks for stopping by! And ooh, I think everyone here knows about my obsession with anything remotely circus-related, right? Carnival tents? Tarot cards? SWEET NOTHINGS is definitely going straight on the wishlist!!

Make sure to stop back by for my review of Vessel tomorrow, and leave Sarah Beth some love in the comments! And if you haven't picked up Vessel yet, seriously, do.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Haul: 12/10/12

Yet another book haul. You know how I do.
Makeup-free day, woot! ;)

* Please note: I get free books if you join through the above link, so if you're like, 'This b*tch has too many books already,' the plain website is just mysteryguild.com

THE BOOKS:(0:37) Just One Day: http://amzn.to/123OvbN(1:02) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making: http://amzn.to/P7RXboThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There: http://amzn.to/P7VBSE(1:29) Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen: http://amzn.to/123Nvo8(1:57) Siege: http://dft.ba/-Siege(3:36) Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: http://amzn.to/Vzsvid(3:59) The Passage: http://amzn.to/YUTKvJ(4:11) Death Comes to Pemberley: http://amzn.to/123Onco(4:16) Virago Book of Ghost Stories: http://amzn.to/VNmgNV(4:41) The Doll: http://amzn.to/RZCPov(4:57) The Wind Through the Keyhole: http://amzn.to/XLlXDF(5:19) The Weird: http://amzn.to/YUTAV7 

ALSO MENTIONED:If I Stay: http://amzn.to/YUTwVrWhere She Went: http://amzn.to/Vzsn2gSally Smith O'Rourke on the blog: http://dft.ba/-SallyRebecca: http://amzn.to/VzsdYMThe Dark Tower Series: http://amzn.to/Vzs9Za 
Better World Books haul to come!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Friday Face Off: Mind Games vs. Unremembered

* Yes, I know this is late. Why didn't someone tell me it was Friday?

This week's Face Off is a bit of a nod back to the beginning, when sometimes the books were stock photos and sometimes they were US/UK/etc versions, but most of the time, they were just really similar in some other way - some trend designers just can't seem to give up. This one nose no bounds - get it? Nose! 'Cause there is no...nevermind. Basically, an extreme close-up of a pretty face, with words right in the middle of it is a pretty popular cover design. One that gets mixed reactions, to say the least. Personally, I like these two covers. But I know many of you will not. Up for chitty-chat this week: Kiersten White's upcoming Mind Games (remember this one; you'll be seeing it again soon...) and Jessica Brody's Unremembered. Both take a pretty girls face, obscure it, and then cover over the dreaded nose with wordage.
So which of these would catch your eye on the shelves? Which would you reach for (or would they both drive you nuts)?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: The US and UK versions of Brenna Yovanoff's upcoming Paper Valentine went head to...hand, and hands down, heads won. (See what I did there? Eh? Eh? Man, I am on a roll. ;P)

Friday, December 7, 2012

SimonTEEN's 31 Days of Giveaways!

Hello, my dears. Thought I'd let you know about THIS gloriousness:

What is that, you say? Oh, that's just A GIVEAWAY EVERY DAY IN DECEMBER. Yeah. Enter here, and good luck!

TAG: Rainbow Spines

This is the Rainbow Spines tag!
I was tagged by Charley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD_51CEeIGw
The tag was started by: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzUidwOGM2Q

It's pretty self-explanatory, so here goes:

The books I chose:
R: Ruby Red: http://amzn.to/UE2L49
O: Of Bees and Mist: http://amzn.to/RvJ3uj
Y: A Red Herring Without Mustard: http://amzn.to/RvINLT
G: StarCrossed: http://amzn.to/SRsisb
I: Breadcrumbs: http://amzn.to/Vr0sBH
V: The Thirteenth Child: http://amzn.to/Ms6HXP

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Perhaps Fate laid out your life for you like a dress on a bed, and you could either wear it or go naked...

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor 
(Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
Fantasy, 528 pages
Expected publication: November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown & Company
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Y'all, why is it so hard to write reviews about the ones you love?

Okay - Last year after I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I asked Laini Taylor to marry me. She had to decline, partly because she's already married, but mostly because she doesn't know me, and both of us are straight. (Every relationship has its issues, Laini.)
So, fine. We'll take it slow.

Days of Blood & Starlight is maybe less lyrical and beautiful than Daughter of Smoke & Bone, but somehow better because of it. This isn't to say that Days of Blood & Starlight isn't still beautifully written and compelling, because I doubt anything Taylor writes wouldn't be. But there was a tendency towards being overwrought in book 1 that sometimes seemed to shove the beauty of the writing in your face. It was obviously lovingly crafted, but sometimes showy as a result. But in Days of Blood & Starlight, with this much darker aspect of war and genocide at the fore, rather than just star-crossed love, the floweriness just wouldn't have worked as well, and Taylor seemed to understand this. The story is still beautifully crafted and the writing excellent, but Taylor shows more restraint. She turns her talents to garnering more chills than butterflies; she went in with a knife instead of a quill.
And I love her for it.

I really love the expansion of the world, the new characters we meet, and the new facets of characters we knew (or thought we knew). Karou and Akiva are what one would expect, each dealing with the realizations of who they are and were, and what they and their world have become. Nothing will come easy from here on out, and the milk and honey days of their stolen courtship are a distantly remembered dream. How each deals with this, how each tries to reconcile the things they thought they knew and felt with everything that came after, every horror that has been visited on the world (and on them) since, adds a nice tension to their story and depth to their characters, but I think it's really the peripheral characters that shine in Days of Blood & Starlight. Zuzana is fantastic as always, and I love how she just fearlessly throws herself into things. But the new characters of Eretz, or the expansions of the old ones is fantastic, too. (I mean, do I actually like Liraz? I think I do. I think I might actually be rooting for her. Who saw that coming?)

It would be easy to get caught up in the star-crossed romance in a story like this; it would be too easy to swoon and sigh. Many authors would have been okay with just that, but Taylor knows better.  Karou and Akiva may have lost something powerful and beautiful, but they are not the only ones who have lost. In a war, in a genocide, in a mad power struggle, everyone loses. Everyone has lost. Taylor doesn't just woe-is-me all over the place for the fleeting lost epic love that was Madrigal-and-Akiva; she uses their story as a toehold onto the unscalable mountain that is Power and Lust and Hate and Retaliation (and Love. And Hope. And a million other things deserving of capital letters).  Akiva and Karou are forced to think beyond themselves, to see ramifications and understand the path they walk. It would be easy to give up hope, as Akiva once did; to let themselves be swept up into something "greater" than they, something that takes away the burden of choice.

And I think that's the most beautiful thing about this book, and about Akiva and Karou's story - they could choose to not choose; they could throw themselves into vengeance and retaliation and the Greater Goal. But they always choose choice. They always choose the harder path, the one that means you will do the right thing, but will suffer doing so; the one that means you may lose everything so that others can gain the chance - just a chance - at something more. This, I think, is the reason that theirs is one of the few "epic love stories" that doesn't make me roll my eyes. Theirs has always been a story of choice, and of difficult choice at that; theirs has always been a story of sacrifice and selfishness combined, and there's something painfully honest in that.

In the end, I love what Taylor accomplished in book 2. I love, love, love that she is willing to go dark, but that she always dangles hope. Her vision of the future if things continue as is, is bleak, and she lets the reader know it. Hell, things are bleak now, and she lets the reader know it. She doesn't flinch away from the potential horrors. But she's also wise not to make the book unrelentingly grim - there are always pinpricks of light in the darkness, spots of humor and love and friendship to remind the characters - and the reader - what is worth fighting for. And because of that - the intertwined dark and light - I liked this more than book 1, which I didn't think was going to happen. Equally, yes, but more? That I did not expect. And I am very eager to get my hands on book 3 and see what Taylor makes of these two worlds colliding completely...

[As a side note: I did find this really interesting review on Goodreads where the reader had huge issues with some of the places this book went, and Taylor's treatment of Akiva's character, and more importantly, of genocide. I neither agree nor disagree with her, because I think we approached this book - and maybe reading, in general - very differently, but I do really like what she has to say as a discussion point, and I'm sharing it with you because I think that's one of the beautiful things about a well-written story: it does provoke discussion. Her argument is compelling and valid, and maybe the things that bothered her will bother some of you. So for those of you interested or curious, that review is here.]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cover Reveal: ANTIGODDESS by Kendare Blake

I think by now, you all know I love Kendare (Effen) Blake. Lots. This has been established.
So I'm all sorts of grabby hands about her upcoming book, ANTIGODDESS, which now has a cover, meaning it's one step closer to being in said grabby hands.

So, let's have a look-see, shall we:

Kendare had an...amusing story to tell about the making of this cover. She says:
The cover for ANTIGODDESS went through a few versions. That was to be expected. Anna Dressed in Blood went through a few also. What wasn't expected, was the similarity between the two. Let me explain. When Anna's cover was first shown to me, it was just the base image. Anna, standing with her bloody dress, in front of her house. There was none of the fencing around my name, or much fog surrounding her legs. Just her. With blood. Dripping from her dress, down her legs. The insides of her legs. You see where I'm going here. Lady problems. Oh, you didn't see where I was going there? Then I apologize for the sudden menstruation reference.

So, when it was obvious that ANTIGODDESS wouldn't feature any of the characters on the cover, I felt pretty confident that there wouldn't be any "lady problem" issues. And then the first version came through, with a bloody feather. More specifically, a pristine white feather with a fat drop of blood right in the center. And my editor said, "Pretty sure we're going to get rid of the giant feather maxipad, but other than that, what do you think?"

Honestly, it felt like a nice way to tie the two books together.

Get It | Add It
Expected publication: September 10th 2013 by Tor Teen
Old Gods never die…

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

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

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

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

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

The Goddess War is about to begin.

So, I like I said...


And thus begins the long wait until September.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guest Post: Rhiannon Hart, author of Blood Song & Blood Storm!

Book 2 in the Lharmell series, Blood Storm
I know a lot of us in the US (and in the everywhere-but-Australia) have been having a little Aussie-related jealousy in the book department for a few years now. Yes, maybe everything wants to kill you there, but they also have been having some amazing authors, and some stellar,  p r e t t y  books come out that they haven't been sharing. Which is maybe just fair turnabout, but still. We've been a little green-eyed. (Well, I already am, but you know what I mean.)

One of those books was by one of my favorite bloggers from the very beginning of when I started blogging - Rhiannon Hart, who I was super excited for when she got her deal, only to be supercrushdeded when Random House AUS said "No book for you!" to the rest of the world.


NOW, the first two Lharmell books, Blood Song and Blood Storm, are getting their e-book releases world wide, with hard copies to follow! I don't know about you, but I iz excite.*  To celebrate the international ebook release, Rhiannon has stopped by to share a snippet and her feelings about that snippet. Check it out:

And if that wasn't enough to tempt you, how about this:
I was thinking of blood again, so I went to practice my archery.
I have often said how much I judge a book by it's first line, and that, my friends, is fanfreakingtastic.

Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
290 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Random House Australia
I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me.

When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?

Get the Lharmell series:

*If you're saying, Wait, don't you have a lovely awesome person who sent you a copy? Yes, I do. Shut up. I'm still excited for the release, so that errbody can get their hands on it, AND so Rhiannon can get her authorly hooks into as many brains as possible. So there.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December TBR & November Rewind + Linky

It's that time again, AND it's the last time we'll be doing this this year! TBR/Rewind time!

First up, my mess of a December TBR. I really wanted to be able to say, Eff it all, I'ma read whatever I want! but I do have a couple of books I really need to read, so instead I have a bit of a hodge podge.
Keeping my fingers crossed that I'll just tear through things this month, because I have a lot of things I just REALLY WANT TO READ. And they're not necessarily in this video...

Remember, you can share your TBRs for the month, or thoughts on last month's books (even reviews!) on the linky at the bottom. =)

(0:55) Dreamfever: http://amzn.to/VjNqfa
(1:34) Pure: http://amzn.to/UoBuV9
(1:55) 12.21.12: http://amzn.to/UxFt3K
(and I'll be finishing up Watchmen (http://amzn.to/U2jPWP) of course)

The Stack of Mess:
(2:47) The Believing Gamehttp://amzn.to/UF874i
(3:12) Morganville Vampires, vol 3: http://amzn.to/Tsakv9
(3:41) Frostbite: http://amzn.to/U7xBkX
(3:57) Blood Song: http://amzn.to/Tz407Q
(4:19) Summer & Bird: http://amzn.to/UeH00J
The Spindlers: http://amzn.to/OJUb7j
Monstrous Beauty: http://amzn.to/LTxlmx

And now, on to what I thought of last month's books:

(0:09) Scarlet: http://amzn.to/QZLstj
(0:48) Days of Blood & Starlight: http://amzn.to/SwcpGB
(1:41) Ask the Passengers: http://amzn.to/Swbw0J
(2:42) Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy: the Last Man in the World (again): http://amzn.to/SKuaVO
(3:31) Eternally Yours: http://amzn.to/TIYdIB
(4:12) Faefever: http://amzn.to/PKp10l
(4:53) Blackwood: http://amzn.to/PnRCBc
(7:10) Watchmen: http://amzn.to/U2jPWP

Daughter of Smoke & Bone: http://amzn.to/Vqc60i
Immortal Beloved: http://amzn.to/Ve66sT

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Face Off: Paper Valentine

Well. I have been MIA all week, so sorry about that. BUT I'M BACK BITCHES. ;P
Um... So Friday Face-Off time, yeah?
This week we're taking a look at Brenna Yovanoff's Paper Valentine (which needs to be in my hand like NOW). Below are the US and UK versions of the upcoming book, with two very different covers.  What I find particularly interesting is that in the US, Brenna's books (all stand-alones) have a sort of cover theme going, while the UK books are each their own thing (shown below the FO). But though I may find it interesting, and like the idea of a "set" even though they're not part of a series, this week's Face Off isn't about them, it's about Paper Valentine - so which do you like? Which would you reach for, which would make you curious, and which would you rather have on your shelves?
Which one did it better?

US versions of The Replacement & The Space Between (above)
and the UK versions (below), where TSB is called Smoulder.

Last Week on FFO:  US and UK versions of Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved series went head to head, and though we were all pretty decided on the new UK style being boring and generic as hell, we were tied on the originals vs the new US. So in this fantastic series, it doesn't matter what it looks like - just pick it up!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Face Off: Immortal Beloved series

I'm pretty sure I've talked before about how Cate Tiernan's Immortal Beloved series underwent an overhaul between the first and second books (going from this to what you see below); and I know in my rare gushing review* for the first book, also titled Immortal Beloved, I showed some of the other covers from around the world, including the UK edition, which is also below. But it wasn't until I finished the 3rd book a couple of days ago that I actually went through and really looked at the different editions and realized that they needed to be a Face Off.
Personally, I was a little unsure of the US redesigns (below) when they were revealed, and was quite taken with the UK editions. But now it looks as if the UK has had a last minute redesign of its own (which is bizarre, if you ask me - why not finish out the series, it's the last book, why would you keep them from matching?!), and the set together is a little jarring.  So that may throw some of you off in voting this week, but feel free to tell us which design you like best, whether US, original UK or new UK.  By now you know the drill, so
Which one did it better?

*The second book, Darkness Falls, also got a glowing review. The third will, too.

new US editions
original UK editions + new style?

Last Week on FFO: The hardcover and paperback editions of Katherine Longshore's Gilt went head to head, with the steamy revamped paperback just barely snagging a win.
Winner ------->


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