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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CLOSED Sexy One-Liners Giveaway ~ Blood of the Demon Blog Tour!

I've got something fun for you guys today: I'm part of a blog tour for Rosalie Lario's Blood of the Demon paperback re-release, and to celebrate, Rosalie and Entangled Publishing are releasing 10 "sexy one-liners" and a giveaway to celebrate!  You can find my one-liner (as well as the giveaway and the other tour stops) below, but first:

Blood of the Demon by Rosalie Lario
Amazon | Goodreads
Paranormal Romance, 352 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Entangled Publishing
Keegan lives to exact revenge on the evil demon who sired and abused him. When his father devises a plan to bring on the apocalypse, he and his three half-brothers, interdimensional bounty hunters for the Elden Council, are charged with capturing and delivering their father for punishment.

Art gallery owner Brynn Meyers has no idea that her ability to read memories embedded in objects and drain people of their life force means she has demon ancestry. Unfortunately for Brynn, she's also the key to raising an ancient zombie army, which puts her on every demon's Most Wanted List.And no one wants her more than Keegan's father.Keegan must protect Brynn from his father by any means necessary, but he'll have to learn to harness the other half of his genetics-the far deadlier, uncontrollable half-when he starts to fall for the one woman standing between him and the vengeance he so desperately seeks. The one woman he'll never be able to resist.

I'm hosting quote #7, which you can vote for in the Rafflecopter giveaway. Mine's  more sweet than steamy; you ready for it? OKAY:

Make sure to stop by the other tour hosts for their Sexy One-Liners!! And don't forget to choose your favorite quote in the giveaway!
Quote #1 - Book Flame - www.bookflame.blogspot.com
Quote #2 - Stuck in Books - www.stuckinbooks.com
Quote #3 - Once Upon a Twilight - www.onceuponatwilight.com
Quote #4 - Good Choice Reading - www.goodchoicereading.com
Quote #5 - Book Soulmates - www.booksoulmates.blogspot.com/
Quote #6 - AwesomeSauce Book Club www.awesomesaucebookclub.com
Quote #7 - The Book Rat www.thebookrat.com (you are here)
Quote #8 - I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read! www.sithereandread.com
Quote #9 - Confessions of a Bookaholic - www.totalbookaholic.com
Quote #10 - My 5 Monkeys - www.tableforseven-Julie.blogspot.com

Giveaway details:

- 1 winner will receive a a swag pack including a Blood of the Demon pen, magnet, stickers, and bookmarks. The winner can also choose between an ebook copy of For Love of an Angel or Angel's Desire from Rosalie's Fallen Warriors series.

- Shipping Requirements: US/Canada Only

- Contest ends August 21st.

- Enter by filling out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:
Formally trained as a corporate and real estate lawyer, I practiced law for 5 years before finally admitting to myself that negotiating contracts wasn’t nearly as fun as dreaming up stories. As an avid reader of romances and supernatural stories, I knew I wanted to write urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Tales of vampires, demons, and other supernatural beings ensued.
I’m currently working on the Demons of Infernum series, a series of paranormal romance novels featuring four sexy half-demon brothers and their reluctant heroines.
When not writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband and son in our home state of Florida, as well as searching out things that go bump in the night. I still haven’t found any, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
If I ever do find evidence of the supernatural, it remains to be seen whether I’ll jump around in excitement, or run screaming in terror (but I’m betting on the latter)!

Find Rosalie on:

Monday, July 30, 2012

CLOSED Trailer Reveal + Giveaway: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

If you follow me on Twitter, you may recall how completely in love I was with a trailer that debuted last year for Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Everything about it took over my brain - the simplicity, the striking illustrations, and above all, that fantastic original song by S.J. Tucker.  That trailer remains one of my all-time favorites (seriously. If you haven't watched the trailer, you should); and it holds up just as well after having read (and fallen in love with) the book.

I tell you all of this so that you understand how geeked I am to share with you the trailer for book 2, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, and Led the Revels There, as well as giveaway a set of both books!! Once again featuring striking illustrations and more fantastic music by S.J. Tucker, if this doesn't want to make you read the book, I don't know what will.

Check it out below, and let me know what you think (and if you're excited for this book) in the comments, and make sure to enter to win a copy of both books in the form below!!

About the book:
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Amazon | Goodreads
Fantasy, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 2nd 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .

To celebrate the trailer release, thanks to the awesome folks at Macmillan, I have a paperback copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making AND 1 galley of the sequel, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There to giveaway to 1 lucky winner!

  • US/CAN only
  • Ends August 7th, 2012
  • Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and leave a comment to enter!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coming Attraction: The Raven Boys

I wasn't the world's biggest fan of Shiver. I liked it okay, but not nearly as much as I'd wanted to, and the cardboard nature of a number of the characters led me to be a little leery of Stiefvater's writing. That said, I  had so many people tell me I will love The Scorpio Races that when I saw a giveaway for it awhile back, I entered it and said to myself, "If I'm meant to like this book and give Steifvater another try, the Universe will tell me so by letting me win." Because I'm weird like that.
But I did win. And then the synopsis for The Raven Boys came out, and it sounds awesome. So now I'm thinking the Universe is trying to prove me wrong. So somehow, despite myself, I find myself eagerly anticipating this book...
How 'bout you?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Fantasy, 416 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Trailer: Cloud Atlas

I've talked about the book Cloud Atlas before (and about my love of David Mitchell), and I think I may have mentioned how...leery I was when the film rights were optioned. This is a very intricate (VERY intricate) story told in the most beautifully frustrating way, and I didn't really see how anyone could try to bring it to film without making a muddle of it.
I still don't.

But now the nearly six-minute trailer has been released (six being a significant number in Cloud Atlas), and...I'm on the fence. In some ways, it really captures the book - the jarringly different styles, the atmospheres, the overall interconnectedness - but it still very much feels to me like there's no way to pull this off.

I intend to see it, for the fact that it's one of my all-time favorite books (and out of curiousity. And for Ben Wishaw, if nothing else), but I feel like this is either going to be the most stunningbreathtakingawe-inspiring thing ever, or spectacularly full of fail.

One of the two.

Check it out below and let me know what you think!

About the Book:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Amazon | Audible | Goodreads
A little bit of everything... 509 pages
Published August 17th 2004 by Random House Publishing Group
A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation -- the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’ s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Coming Attraction: The Crown of Embers

Looking at this upcoming sequel reminds me that I still need to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
#So many books
#So little time... 
Who's eagerly awaiting this one? And who wants to give me the push I need to read Girl of Fire and Thorns? If you loved it, leave a comment that makes me need to read it - I need to start working through my shelves...

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Fantasy, 410 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Greenwillow Books
In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Face Off: Monstrous Beauty

Today's Face Off is one I've been thinking about for awhile. Elizabeth Fama's upcoming Monstrous Beauty has been given a cover redo, and much like when this happened to another mermaid-y book, The Vicious Deep, I'm torn. You see, I completely get the change: the new cover (left) is more timeless, has some mystery, will appeal more to a larger audience, etc., etc.  And for all I know, probably suits the book better. But like The Vicious Deep, I had already fallen in love with the cover that graced the ARC (right). I mean, it's a little strange and a little off, but in that good way, you know? But mostly, I just love the subtle detail. There's so much texture in that rocky scene, so much fantastic shadow, all these teeny tiny variations in shade, and I just can't help but love it.   Again - like the original cover for TVD, I want to have this as a poster. Love.
But I know the new cover has been pretty well-received across the board (as was the redesign of TVD), so maybe it's just me when it comes to these mermaid shake-ups? What do you guys think?  Without having read it or knowing what it was about, which would you reach for on bookstore or library shelves?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  The old and new cover designs for Kenneth Oppel's Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series faced off, with the sleekly sinister new covers winning in a landslide. And it's really no wonder: my eyes slid right over the dark cover of the original, which would really have to be seen up close to get any kind of appreciation for the detail. But the new covers... well, I'm seriously thinking about buying them...
Winnahs ------->

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jimmy Fallon does The Doors doing Reading Rainbow. (aka Awesome)

This happened.

I approve.

Coming Attraction: What's Left of Me

I'm not going to lie, the cover is what caught my eye on this one. I mean, I guess there are probably similar covers out there (lord knows there are lots of half-faced covers, which is better than half-assed...). But the colors and the wavy cut, and those fantastic eyelashes piqued my interest, I'm not going to lie. And then the synopsis came in, and it did its part, too. I'm a fan of books that plunge you right into the world, but I'm not sure I've ever really seen a synopsis that does that. There's no "In a world..." or "Eva and Addie live in a society where...". No. Instead, you are just plunged in, before you've even begun reading the book, and I like that. I'm intrigued by that.Anyone else have plans to check this one out?

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Sci-fi/dystopia, 356 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by HarperCollins
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coming Attraction: Unspoken

I had this one on Friday Face Off awhile back (it won), but it's not just the cover that piques my interest. REALLY curious about this synopsis. I haven't read anything by Sarah Rees Brennan (I think it's because of the cover for The Demon's Lexicon; did nothing for me, and before I started reading really good reviews and posts from Brennan that I found interesting, I had sort of already written the book off. Now, of course, I intend to dig it up and read it, but that just hasn't happened yet. But tangent aside...); this might have to be my first by her. #Intrigued - you?

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
370 pages
Expected publication: September 11th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Strong Female Characters in Books "for Boys" - guest post from Jeff Norton, author of MetaWars

I vividly recall my teenage years as being marked by the wide gap between immature guys and sophisticated girls. I wanted to channel that chasm in creating Jonah and Samantha (Sam), the two lead characters in my new, dystopian action-adventure novel: METAWARS: FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE.

METAWARS is the story of two teenagers caught up in the war for control over the internet. The story takes place in a near future when we’re running out of oil and so whoever controls the web, controls the world. Jonah is a sheltered teenager living on a retired bus (with a huge population and no oil, all the London buses have been turned into flats!) with his widowed mother, while Sam is a globe-trotting insurgent, part-assassin, part-terrorist. She spends her nights blowing up buildings that house computer servers in an effort to break the monopoly that one company has over the internet (imagine a mash-up of Google + Apple + facebook + Xbox).

Sam is a much stronger character than Jonah, and I believe this reflects the reality of teenage dynamics.

I didn’t want to have a female character in the book who was just a hanger-on or love interest, I wanted someone who could do more than hold their own, someone who could kick some serious ass.

Jonah is sheltered, naïve, bewildered. Sam is cynical, worldly, and strong. Jonah and Sam have an uneasy alliance. Jonah needs Sam to stay alive because she’s ruthless and resourceful. But Sam needs Jonah, and not just because he knows a valuable secret but because his innocence and naivety tempers her killer instincts. Together, they become better versions of themselves. Jonah helps Sam to learn compassion and constraint, while Sam helps Jonah to become stronger and more confident. It’s a two way street, and frustratingly, in too many stories, the female role is only there to serve the male character’s development.

We’re living through a summer of super-heroes as the cinema. The Avengers have assembled, Spider-Man has been amazing, and the Dark Knight has now risen. Yet in each of these films, the female lead is relegated to supporting role, only there to support the male hero on his journey.

Of course, I couldn’t foresee the summer of 2012 blockbusters when I started crafting METAWARS, but this formula for Hollywood blockbusters is hardly new. There’s some amazing YA fiction out there with strong female characters in the lead, but since this would be a book that is marketed at boys, I wanted to both the boy and the girl in staring roles; showing young male readers a strong, female character and grounding their relationship in realistic teenage dynamics, giving the girl her rightfully earned opportunity to show the boy how it’s done.

Jeff Norton is the author of METAWARS: FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE, publishing August 2nd, 2012 from Orchard Books. He is also a filmmaker and the founder of Awesome, a creative incubator.

Find him on the web at www.jeffnorton.com, ‘like’ him at www.facebook.com/thejeffnorton or follow him on twitter via @thejeffnorton

About MetaWars:
Dystopia, 352 pages
Amazon | Goodreads
Expected publication: August 2nd 2012 by Orchard Books
In an unforgiving future, two warring factions - the MILLENIALS and the GUARDIANS - are locked in a brutal battle over control of an online virtual world called the Metasphere. Jonah Delacroix has always known which side he's on - the same side as his dead father. But when he assumed his father's avatar, he learns that things aren't as black and white as he once believed. He's catapulted into a full-throttle race through both worlds - but can he find the truth?

MetaWars : Fight for the Future is the first instalment in a fantastic futuristic adventure series with dast-oaced, cinematic narrative. Set in the near future MetaWars suggest a fascinating - but also scary - predicition of what might be to come, covering already topical issues such as fuel shortage, climate change and economic meltdown.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

***This review is slightly spoilery!! You have been warned.***

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton
Amazon | Goodreads
Fantasy, 346 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Hodder Children's Books
Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.

Although a perfect fit for the paranormal romance genre, A WITCH IN WINTER avoids fangs, excessive body hair and submissive female leads, and tells the heart-wrenching story of a couple meant to be together, but being forced apart. Seth is utterly irresistible and Anna is an empowered, proactive young woman with unimaginable magic inside her. This is fast-paced, sensuous writing with believable incantations inspired by Warburton's research into witchcraft legend and old English.

It took me awhile to get around to writing this review, in part because it took me forever to read the book, and in part because I just felt like I didn't have a lot to say...

It's a very typical YA. Girl moves to small town. Girl sees pretty boy. Boy has a girlfriend (and is dogged by rumors of violence and rages), but girl falls for boy anyway. And (oops) puts a spell on him that makes him lover her, too.  Did I mention the girl is a witch? No. It's okay, she didn't know either until she was able to do, um, everything, so it's cool.
We've seen this before.
It's been done.
To death.

And maybe if I was younger and was ever the type of girl to be wooed by insta-lovey swooneyness - I wasn't - this would have won me over. It's a quick read, certainly, so it's not like I had to drag myself from one swooning-and-sighing perilous encounter to the next. Though I guess that's not entirely true: I couldn't for the life of me muster up the desire to pick this up most of the time; took me ages. Partly I think this was because everything felt like a foregone conclusion, so it felt like a waste of time - I knew what was going to happen, so why waste the couple hundred pages getting there? - but I also think it may have felt like a quicker read than it was because when I did pick it up, I sometimes resorted to skimming. I just could not make myself want to read Anna's thoughts. There were times when I just had no choice but to skim through her anxieties and woe-is-mes and flutterings, and just get to the next plot point or bit of dialogue. It was skim or give up, and I chose to skim.

But it just all just feels VERY young, and very almost silly in it's emotions and Mary Sue-ness (Here comes Miss Powers Out the Ass to bungle everything up, and maybe, if she can get it together, save the day). There was just not enough development or slow-burn to anything, so I knew exactly where it was going from page 1. Everything was laid out and obvious. Yes, it's a fantasy, and yes, Winter is an interesting town with a really interesting history. And yes, Anna has powers, and now she also has questions, and those could have all made the book something special, a tale of discovery and and secrets and intrigue. Instead it was very much a book about a girl's inexplicable love for a guy she doesn't know, and then his unfortunately explicable love for her (he's under a spell - and then he's not, but he still super-duper loves her), and it just doesn't ever get past that or turn into anything more than that. I think if this had taken a different turn, if it had delved more into the history of Winter, and had a more slow-slide into Anna's discovery of things, I could have actually liked this a great deal. But it didn't.

Its one saving grace is that it does pick up at the end, and Warburton is not so flowery and sentimental a writer that she won't give her characters legitimate consequences. This is HUGE for me, because when a book has really high stakes and a ton of really crazy super-powery stuff or mega-villains or Good vs Evil, etc., and all of the characters are in danger all the time, I expect something legit to happen. If all the good guys come through unscathed and all the villains get crushed into oblivion or escape with their tails between their legs, Imma be pissed. (And no, for those of you reading this in the UK, I do not mean I'll be drunk, but after all that, I'll want to be.) FORTUNATELY, the last 1/4 of the book or so moves along at a very brisk pace, and actually had some pretty enjoyable moments, and FORTUNATELY, it does end up having some good consequences that made me glad I did stick it out and finish the book.
UNfortunately, I don't think even that is enough to make me want to pick up book 2...

But this will find a rabid, happy audience in young girls and those looking for a light throwaway read.

Monday, July 23, 2012

FINAL CALL for Austen in August!!

Click here to be taken to the
Austen in August Main Page!

Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!
We're creeping closer and closer to August, which means it's time for me to get my ducks in a row and start my Austen in August schedule!!  Before I begin finalizing things, I wanted to give latecomers and hesitaters one last chance to sign up to participate in AiA.  One of my favorite things about events like this is having guest bloggers - I love seeing everyone share their enthusiams, and getting all the different perspectives!

So if you would like to be part of Austen in August, it's not too late!  Fill out the form below to snag one of my remaining spots to guest post! Or, if you'd like a more hands-off approach, sign up to sponsor a giveaway, or something else that works for you!! [Need ideas? See what participants have done in the past here and here.]

And don't forget, there's still time to grab a copy of Persuasion and join the Read Along - the first set of discussion questions will go up soon so you can get a jump start!


Mini-Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight 
by Jennifer E. Smith
Contemporary, 236 pages
January 2nd 2012 by Poppy/Little Brown
"Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?"
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Alright, as I warned you yesterday, I have some catching up to do.  And if Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest would just leave me alone for five minutes*, I could do it...
Um. Yeah...  So I'm going to kick off the catch-up with a VERY belated mini-review of The Statistical Probability of the World's Longest Title of Love at First Sight, which I read in February and really should have talked about by now. Well, wrote about, I guess, because I actually did already talk about it.

Anyway, I've mentioned a time or twelve that I'm a bit, eh, how shall we say?...blackhearted. Though I enjoy romance in books, I really seem to need some strife in it. It can't be instant, it can't be all-consuming (unless it's sort of in a creepy way, then I'm cool), and it can't be sugary contemporary. I just - I don't have that gene. Sentimentality and sweetness are wasted on me.

So I'm always really hesitant to try any kind of contemporary YA romance. It usually only succeeds in reaffirming my cold-heartedness. But every now and then, one appeals to me for some reason, and TSPOLAFS (even the acronym is ridiculously long. Jeez.) was one of those that DID inexplicably appeal to me.
And my instincts were good. Here's why:

Smith dealt with emotion really well. Not just romance, but with the issues Hadley and Oliver were working through, and how all of that would play into their flirtation/romance with each other. The attraction had a real basis and a recognizing of a sameness with each other, of some sort of kinship. They flirted with each other and got each other through something really stressful, and the romance that developed was not grounded wholly in flirtation. They were companionable, and that made it work and seem like something more - something stable and lasting - could come of it, which is usually my problem with these types of books (and the idea of love at first sight). You really can't get more insta-lovey than this, than meeting in an airport and being pretty damn head over heels by the time you land, and yet it wasn't insta-lovey. The timeframe is instant, but the horrible hallmarks of insta-love weren't there.  This didn't just feel like lust-at-first-sight; it didn't feel precarious and fleeting; they were building a solid foundation at the same time as they built the castle walls and spires**. It just worked. And above all, it managed to be believable.

Beyond all that, it just worked as a story. It flowed and had some real heart to it, and a good dose of relatable family drama and real-life stuff. The flirtation was adorable and butterfly-making, and the characters were engaging and worked well together. And it was very, very charming.  And now, as I sat down to write this, and began writing up my notes all these months later, flashes of the story came back to me, and a sudden longing to read it again. This is not something you'l hear from me too often when it comes to contemporary. But I found myself wanting their sweetness and their turmoil, their highs and their lows, and above all, their hope. And really wanting to reread the post-wedding garden scene. That perfect bittersweetness.

And I'll leave you with my original 1-line review upon finishing the book: Well, that just warmed the cockles of my little blackened heart...Whatever the hell cockles are...

*Because it's them; it's totally them... 
**Why castle walls and spires? Because it is dreamy romance, after all... Just go with it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trailer: Once Upon a Time, season 2

By now you all know how much I love me some fairy tales. Of course I love Once Upon a Time (like others, yes, I agree that it got off to a rocky start, but then it really took over my brain! This helped.)
After the recent announcement that they've cast Sleeping Beauty and Mulan (which means that they're going to have Mulan in the show! And this, of course, means that  the fairy tale world is expanding! Oh, the place's they'll go...), now we've been treated to a preview of season 2, cluing us in to yet another new character...and in turn, another world opening up, in terms of potential tales to mine.
Check it out:

Are you as excited as I am?
And are any of you that haven't watched the show yet tempted to, now that you know about these new additions?
I'm certainly read for season 2, that's for sure.

Now, before I let you go, I have one other charming goodie: Singlebrook.
[If you haven't watched the show and intend to, don't read my comments after this video. Spoilers!]

Slightly spoilery thoughts:

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose first thought was "OMG Sheriff - does this mean he's coming back somehow?"  Because, judging by the little info-bit  (the one that didn't say "Just look at him" which, yeah) underneath his description, this video takes place AFTER his crushing*, fatal (?)  run in with Regina. So... plsplspls I can have more Sheriff nao?

*No pun intended.

Coming Attraction: Cursed

I love this cover. It's so simple, but it pulls me in and makes me curious. I'm a fan of jewel tones, what can I say? Anyway, beyond the cover, the synopsis of this really caught me. I mean, not so much what it says because there are about a million YA books that could slip into this same slot; no, it's more about how it says it.  I mean... " Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows." Seriously.Also "not've" is really underused in print. Overall, I approve.Anyone looking forward to this one?

Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
312 pages
Expected publication: September 18th 2012 by Spencer Hill Press
Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time

A quick note....

You guys.

I was supposed to do some serious blogging this weekend.  I have so much catching up to do, and so many things I want to share with you.

But then Goodreads blew the fuck up and I just...I just couldn't tear my eyes away. It was the most glorious trainwreck I've ever seen.

(Also, I drew all over a guitar for my dad's 50th this weekend, so that took some time.)

Anywhoozles-and-whatsits, I am going to try to throw a WHOLE LOT OF REVIEWS (in full and fun-size) at you over the remaining time until Austen in August, which speaking of, there's a post coming on that too.

Also, there's Super Secret Awesome coming this week.  #isgeeked

But I just thought I'd keep you in the loop, and warn you that if all goes according to plan, I'm about to flood your inbox/feedreader.

And I started a Pinterest.
And awhile back, a tumblr.
So there's that.

Love and cuddles,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Face Off: This Dark Endeavor

Well, from one redesign to another - and this time, I go against the grain (for me, anyway) and say I lurve the redesign. I actually want to buy these books now, which is why they do this in the first place. Still think they can wait for reprints, though...
Anywho, I present to you: Kenneth Oppel's Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series, This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent. Though I will say, I do like the original cover on close-up, for the longest time I had no desire to know what this was about, based purely on the thumbnail I kept seeing on Goodreads. Did.not.appeal.  [Even if it does have a keyhole.] But the new covers - I saw those thumbnails and my breath stopped. What is this glorious thing? I asked myself. My inner-Smeagol came out and I had to have it (my precioussss). Everything, from the muted colors to the heightened, almost cartoony-but-not style to the fantastic font, everything has me wanting these on pure cover appeal. I haven't read a lot of reviews on these, but I have a feeling I will be buying them at some point...
But what do you think of them? Are you a fan of the old or new, or neither? Which would you reach for on shelves?
Which one did it better?
The Original

The Redesign

Last Week on FFO: The various incarnations of US versions of the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis went head to head, with the original, glossy/galactic hardcovers easily coming out the winner. Though there were aspects of the other covers  that some of you liked (and though there were a few of you who preferred another cover), the love of the originals and hatred of the rest was almost universal.Two other points were agreed-upon as well: 1 -We're all pretty certain that at least one of the redesigns was to attract a wider audience (aka boys), which we get, but 2 - We're all sick of covers changing mid-series, and wish this would be confined to reprints.
Winnahs ------> 

Coming Attraction: Unwholly

There have been very few books in my sister's life that she has loved so much she's felt the need to push on me. She's not much of a reader (and I know you know how much it pains me to write that), so when she does fall for a book, I certainly take note. The interesting thing is, they're almost always dystopian... Hmm, wonder where she gets that from... ;)
Unwind was one of those books that she came home from school talking about - and is still talking about, years later. And um...I haven't read it yet. Sister fail. But I do have it, and I do intend to (you know how that goes). Imagine my delight when I found out a few months ago that there was a sequel. Telling her that - seeing excitement over an upcoming book - well, that just made my day week month. Definitely gotta pick this one up for her.

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman
Dystopia, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa — and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp — people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. 

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself. 

 Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

Amazon Yesterday Shipping...

Oh, the lulz I got from this...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"A Shop with Books In"


"A shop with books in" - a song inspired by bookshops, written for Independent Booksellers' Week 2012 by The Bookshop Band from The Bookshop Band on Vimeo.

Coming Attraction: The Summer Prince

It's probably a bit early to be posting this one, but I just couldn't wait. I've had my eye out for a book by Alaya Dawn Johnson for awhile now, ever since I reviewed her short story "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology. It was easily one of my favorite stories from the anthology, and one of the most overlooked, IMO; but the writing piqued my interest enough that I've been meaning to pick up a book by Alaya for some time. And then I found out about this, and knew this was the book I wanted to pick up.
The downside: It doesn't come out until March of 2013.
The upside: My birthday is March 1st, which means I now have a perfect excuse to pick this up...

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Expected publication: March 2013 by Scholastic
Four hundred years ago, the world ended. And now, on the coast of what was once called Brazil, women rule in the legendary pyramid city of Palmares Três. The city's Queen only cedes her power to a man once every five years -- to a Summer King, whose story will grip the city like a fever.

For June Costa, art is everything. Her brilliant creations -- from murals and holograms to a delicate pattern of lights in her skin -- have impressed (and irritated) her classmates and teachers alike. Her dream is to win the prestigious Queen's Award, and the instant fame and success that come with it. It's a dream she never questions -- until she meets Enki. Enki, the newly-elected Summer King, is the hottest thing in Palmares Três. But when June sees Enki, she sees more than piercing amber eyes and a lethal samba: She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will create art that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government's strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, tragically in love with Enki.

Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge
Amazon | Goodreads
Fairy Tale Retellings/Verse, 96 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Candlewick Press
Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy's clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it's like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine's cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
- he wants to whisper in your ear.

When I came across this one in my preparations for Fairy Tale Fortnight, I was immediately struck by the dark and direct tone of the cover, and took it as an indication of the tales found inside. In some ways this is what I got: the retellings are gritty and dark and very pared down, stripped of any residual fairy dust and ball gowns. Koertge plays on the original tales, in all their dark and twisted glory, but he also plays with our Disneyfied modern expectations.

But even though Koertge did sort of give me what I was expecting, it somehow managed to not be quite what I wanted. The book is very brief, tackling 23 different tales in less than 100 pages, including illustrations and title pages for each story.  This means each story averages about 2 pages of well-spaced text or free-verse, and this means Koertge only has the space of a few blinks of the eye to make an impression with each story - blink and it's over...

I will say, I think Koertge certainly tried to create memorable, concrete images that would linger with the reader, plunging straight into the heart of each with a wry, jaded style. There's also a really good mix of well-known and little-known tales, and Koertge changes up the narration slightly in each tale. But even the narration at its most different (like Little Red's vapid prattling) still has a sameness to it. Some readers will appreciate this and feel the sardonic tone running throughout is the thread that holds it all together. Other readers - like myself - will feel that what the book really needs is a shake-up. The stories, different as they are originally, blend one into the next in Koertge's hands, and in the end, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what happened in which, and how - if at all - the narrators differed.

There just weren't any stand-outs. Maybe it's because of my admitted immersion in fairy tales - maybe others who pick this up on a passing fancy, who don't read and breathe fairy tales, will find this fresh - but I felt like I'd seen it all before. This isn't necessarily bad on its own, because these are retellings, after all (so of course I've seen it before), but if you're going to put forth these "little gem" retellings, every effort needs to be made to make each and every one memorable in its own way. And when they're verse on top of that! well, every little bit of space matters. No word should be wasted; they should all serve a purpose. I know I hold things like this to a high standard, but there should be something, some turn of phrase or image or pleasing sound to the language itself that makes each story stand on its own. Instead, these felt (oh god, you have no idea how much it pains me to write this) amateurish. I cringe to write that, I really do, but the stories felt like writing prompts or Creative Writing 101 exercises. And in the end, whether because of their style or brevity, I quickly forgot them.

So maybe others won't feel this way, I don't know. Maybe people who don't eat, sleep and breathe fairy tales, and who haven't read a flipping shit-ton of short story retellings that take very similar tones and tacks to the ones in this book but do so better, will find this collection fresh and entertaining. At the very least, it's easily read in 1 sitting, so I would advise those who are considering picking it up to actually pick it up and flip through a few stories first - they're all pretty much the same, so if you like one, you'll probably like them all.

[And if instead you're looking for short fairy tale retellings with a variety of stories, styles, and twists, I cannot recommend enough the fairy tale anthology series edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. Especially Silver Birch, Blood Moon, which I adore.]

Monday, July 16, 2012

Supernatural Urban Legends...(#MMBlogTour Guest Postiness!)

Supernatural Urban Legends
Hi everyone, I’m Sherry Soule—waving from California, where it’s getting pretty foggy! Well, it’s the start of summer here, and even with the fog burning off by afternoon, I’m cranking the air conditioner and chatting on Twitter about my love of YA books.
Thanks for letting me stop by today as part of my Moonlight Mayhem Blog Tour this summer. It’s a thrill to get to be a guest and fellow booklovers such as yourself. For those of you who haven’t heard of my epic blog tour, it’s not too late to join the fun!

To celebrate the release of Sherry Soule’s new YA novel, MOONLIGHT MAYHEM coming this July, she has put together a few mysterious and intriguing urban legends that surround the eerie township of Whispering Pines, California…
Urban Legend #1
Some researchers believe that certain demon races are actually the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim. (They are also considered to be Shadow People.) The origination of the Nephilim began with the legend of an archangel named Raziel. Urban legend states that Raziel escorted a sect of angels that were to instruct humans in morality.
Unfortunately, these angels began to educate man in sciences that God had deemed to be forbidden. These subjects included astrology, divination, and magic. The tutelage went on for centuries, until the angels began to pine for the human females.
After the fallen angels, or sometimes known as the Fallen, had sexual relations with the women, their unholy union resulted in the hybrid offspring called: Nephilim, which are the direct descendants of the antediluvian Fallen. Nephilim are also known as the Grigori or the Watchers.
It has been insinuated that one of the main reasons for the great flood, was not only to punish man, but to cleanse the earth of the Nephilim created from the union of fallen angels and human women. The flood banished most of the Fallen and their offspring into a Sheol.
So, do you believe in the Nephilim? What do you think will happen if they are ever freed?

Urban Legend #2
One haunted house claim that continues to be an urban legend is the infamous, Ravenhurst Manor in Whispering Pines. Books and stories have been written based on its hauntings and its reputation as one of California's most ghostly places.
Ravenhurst Manor’s first owner was a woman and dark sorceress named, Rowan Broussard. After her death, the estate was used as an all girl’s boarding school for many years. The sixty room Gothic mansion was listed for sale with the resident ghosts. Other odd things that occurred in in this house were: doors and windows that opened or closed on their own, cold drafts, whispering voices, and some visitors even claimed to see a dark shadowy figure roaming the halls.
However, Ravenhurst is most famously linked to the disappearance of six children during the years of 1964 through 1967. (After the school was closed, the estate became the property of the town before it was sold to an wealthy, oil magnate.) After the children’s' bodies were discovered buried within the walls of the house, obviously from less than peaceful circumstances, the town buried them in Silent Hollows Cemetery.
Did these Children buried on unconsecrated ground, lead to the strange tragedy that would make this mansion so famous?

Urban Legend #3
Ah, let’s move on to the zombie apocalypse!
Another interesting urban legend states that on September 28, 1941, during an eclipse, a zombie was spotted in Whispering Pines. To make matters worse, a fire at the local mill had swept through town. As day turned to night, more zombies appeared. Many townsfolk mistook the undead for dazed mill workers. After the residents received hugs from the zombies, they were bitten by these paranormals, and soon the epidemic spread across the town like wildfire. 
To make matters worse, the roads and bridges connecting Whispering Pines to the rest of the Bay Area had burned in the fire. The townsfolk had no way to escape. Scores of people become lost when they chose to venture into the dark depth of Deadwood Grove rather than face the insatiable zombie menace.
Within days, the Paranormal Research Group (PRG) converged on Whispering Pines in a variety of aircraft. They established a base on the south side of the forest and went about the process of extermination. It took two weeks to secure the town. A total of 500 people were plague-ridden, an enormous number considering that there wasn’t a zombie vaccine available at this time.
Whatever the case, Whispering Pines’s zombie outbreak affected just under 600 people, making it one of the worst cases in U.S. history.
Are you prepared for a zombie apocalypse? What if zombies start showing up again?

Twitter hashtag: #MMBlogTour

Otherworldly Creatures. Dazzling Magic. Fiery Romance.
Shiloh Ravenwolf thought she was getting used to the strange events in Whispering Pines, until the full moon brings another surge of supernatural threats to her coastal town. Ferocious wolves, deadly necromancers, and shambling zombies have descended upon the neighborhood, so Shiloh needs to gain control of her magical abilities—fast!
It sucks that she has a crippling fear of the dark, which for a demon hunter can be an epic problem.
When her classmates are attacked by a mysterious creature and her father is murdered, Shiloh vows vengeance. Forcing her phobias aside, she forms an unlikely coven of supernaturally gifted teens to help her eradicate this menace. Except that's not all Shiloh has to worry about. She’s battling a different monster within herself and struggling not to become the very thing she fights: evil.
But with demon blood inside her—anything can happen…

Places you can cyberstalk, Sherry Soule:
Official Spellbound Series Universe: http://thespellboundseries.blogspot.com
Twitter @WriterSherry: http://twitter.com/writersherry
Book Trailers on YouTube: http://youtu.be/5uqVXKygvUs


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