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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Signed: Eliza Crewe's debut CRACKED

You know, I often read announcements about authors being signed, or new series, etc., but I don't generally do anything other than read those announcements - I don't share them until there's something more concrete (like a cover) to share with you. But this one... this one I thought I'd share, because hello! I am a sucker for a good first line.

Eliza Crewe
Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot, has signed Eliza Crewe with her debut, Cracked, and the synopsis they released definitely caught my attention:

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her “kind” is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and avoiding a bad-ass cripple that doesn’t trust her are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

Cracked will be published by Strange Chemistry in November 2013. So we've got awhile to wait, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out. How about you guys?

CLOSED Giveaway: Coveted & Kept by Shawntelle Madison (tour)

The 2nd book in author Shawntelle Madison's Coveted urban fantasy series, Kept, is about to be released from Ballantine in the US and from Piatkus Entice in the UK, and to celebrate the UK release, her UK publishers have put together a tour!  And like many a YA book blogger, my other go-to is urban fantasy (and, uh...the steamier, the better, amirite?), so of course I was more than happy to be part of that tour!

Coveted and Kept are the first two books in a funny, sexy new urban paranormal series from Shawntelle Madison: think Charlaine Harris meets Janet Evanovich. Exciting, enticing and seriously sexy, these books are perfect for whiling away those dark autumn evenings.
(via publisher)
Sounds like just the thing, right? So...
*** GIVEAWAY ***

I have a set of the books, Covted and Kept, to give away to one lucky winner!

  • One reader will win ebooks of Coveted and Kept by Shawntelle Madison
  • Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter
  • International
  • Ends November 7th
  • See Rafflecopter for full Rules and Regulations
  • Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour!

Here are the US and UK versions, and since you know how I like my Friday Face Offs, I thought it would be fun to have a mini-Face Off for the giveaway. So as a bonus entry, tell me in the comments which set design you prefer! =)

US versions

UK versions

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

This review has been a hard one for me to sit down and write. Crewel was one of my most anticipated books of this year (I mean, hello, buzzwords!), and I was all ready to be impressed and count it among my favorites. But sadly, it ended up being one of my biggest letdowns...

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Amazon | Goodreads
Dystopia/Sci-fi, 368 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Crewel lured me in almost immediately - the intro was strong and compelling, Adelice's  predicament in trying to hide her talent, and all of the chaos and confusion of the beginning chapters were really effective and interesting. The world that was set up had all of the building blocks for something cool and memorable (though I sometimes had to fight through Albin's occasionally muddled writing to see those building blocks), and Adelice's voice was engaging - basically, the elements were there, and I was ready to love the story.

But then it just kind of fell apart. Albin sets up a world that is very repressive, with very strict rules on pretty much everything, most especially gender roles and norms. There is strict gender segregation in nearly every aspect of life (especially for the young), a limited amount of jobs women can are allowed to perform, and ways in which they are expected to look while performing those jobs. Flirtation and gender-mingling is pretty much non-existent, and talk of sex and sex-related things is, understandably, taboo.  This is the world Adelice has known, so when she's thrust into the world of the Spinsters (which is still really regimented and gender-segregated), and suddenly finds herself moving about in the world of lecherous, creepy Powerful Men, she's pretty shaken. This could have been really, really cool (and sometimes was); it had a Mad Men-esque vibe that made my skin crawl, and I really liked seeing the juxtaposition of naive-in-the-ways-of-the-world Adelice (and all of the other young Spinsters and Spinster-wannabes) with the really, supreme ickiness that men brought into this world. It was reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale (which I love), and it was an element I wasn't expecting, so I was excited.
(Again, there's that but.)

But when these two worlds collided, the characters and the rules became really inconsistent. There was a lot of slang (like, our slang, not slang of the Crewel-world), and attitudes toward sex/boys/attraction that just didn't gel with the world that had been set up. It was really hard to believe that all of these girls who had been raised with strict gender segregation and hardcore rules about sex would suddenly speak very freely about sex and teh hawties, that they'd be borderline predatory - and catty, and jealous, and vapid, and a million other things that just didn't suit - and that nobody would bat an eye. I suddenly found I didn't buy the characters or how they fit into their world - who they are and how they interact, relative to the world, caused a huge disconnect, the world was weakened, and I felt cheated. Things just didn't work with the world as it was set up. They could have* - it would have only taken minor tweaks - but instead things were contradictory and discordant, and they kept shaking me out of my WSOD. I felt deprived of what could have been a really interesting world - but a world very different from our own with characters like us superimposed on it just doesn't work. It feels phony and almost lazy.

Also - this had a serious case of the Typical YA Romance blahs. A touch of romance potential (a lingering look, a fastly-beating heart, a burgeoning curiosity**) to be built up over the length of the series, pitted against the icky aspects of Mad Men-style sexualization would have been much more interesting and believable. Instead, it was all Insta-Love-Triangles™ all over the place, and again, I felt cheated of the build-up and the potential power. Add to this all the jealousies and plots and it all became a little too soap opera for me. It did have some interesting dynamics I'd like to see explored more, but I want to see them explored as I think characters from this world would explore them, and not characters from our world. If you're going to tackle sexualization, sexual intimidation, homosexuality, gender roles, etc., please, Ms. Albin, do it as these characters from this world with this set of experiences would do. That has the potential to be so much more fascinating and powerful and memorable than Crewel as it is now, which unfortunately faded pretty quickly from my mind.

Essentially, I was looking for impact, but I got write-by-numbers - stock characters, lack of believability, and everything built on a foundation of sand. But maybe it wouldn't be such a letdown if I didn't see potential. Then, I could just write it off and be done with it. But the fact that it sort of actively disappointed me means that I saw where it could have been incredible (especially after that strong beginning), and it was so close, that I was left feeling cheated - but also hopeful that the series can somehow get back on track and leave me feeling more fulfilled than this book did. I guess only time will tell.

If you're curious, you can read chapters 1-5 here for free.

*A case can be made that the girls - even in their gender-segregated lives - were raised to be this way. And I would buy that - if it had been shown. There are touches (like girls growing up knowing that they can be only a handful of things, or like the girlish fantasy of being a Glamorous Spinster) that would begin to make a case for...hmm, indoctrination, I guess? into this type of role/behavior. But more was needed if that's the way this story was going to go.

**But good god, nothing so purple-prosey as that. =P

Coming Attractions: Gameboard of the Gods

I'm sure there are a number of you out there who adore Richelle Mead and will buy whatever she writes without even really having to know what it's about. (I'm also sure there are others of you who think you never want to read Richelle Mead again, because such is the nature of a successful series.)

But this one sounds quite a bit different from her Vampire Academy/Bloodlines world, plot-wise (though the synopsis is quick to point out that it has all the things that made those series such "megasuccesses"), but frankly, all I needed to see was "religious extremists" and my curiousity was piqued.

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
464 pages
Expected publication: June 4th 2013 by Dutton Adult
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

CLOSED Giveaway: EARTHSEA books by Ursula K Le Guin

Recently, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Simon & Schuster worked together to repackage Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books, bringing all 6 together with striking unified designs for the first time in the series' history. These books have found countless readers in the nearly-half century since the publication of the first book, and will continue to do so for years to come.

So what better way to celebrate the release of the newly redesigned set than with a giveaway? =D

Thanks to the publishers, I have one full set of the redesigned Earthsea series to give away to one lucky winner.  They will receive A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind:

To enter:
  • Fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only!
  • Ends November 5th, 2012
  • See Rafflecopter terms for full rules and regulations

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#FridayReads: The Diviners by Libba Bray

This actually went up yesterday on the youtubes and Facebook and whatnot, but I didn't have a chance to share it here with you until, well, now. (Obvs.)

So here you go, here's my #FridayReads for this week, The Diviners, by Libba Bray. I finished it up shortly after recording this, actually, so now I'm moving on to this month's Stack of Five winner, Eve & Adam.
Let me know in the comments what you're planning on reading this weekend!


The Diviners by Libba Bray
Get ItAdd It
Supernatural/Historical, 592 pages
September 18th 2012 from Little, Brown BYR
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Coming Attractions: How to Lead a Life of Crime

Not sure how this just ended up on my radar, 'cause it sounds fantastic (and very different from much of what's out there, though there does seem to be a growing crime trend). Am I just late to the party? Are any of you planning on reading this one?

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
358 pages
Expected publication: February 21st 2013 by Razorbill
A Meth Dealer. A Prostitute. A Serial Killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Face Off: Very LeFreak vs. Flock

Y'all, this girl...this girl is a vey popular cover model. I know I've seen her on many a book, but this week we're focusing on Rachel Cohn's Very LeFreak and Wendy Delsol's Flock. There are some pretty heavy edits between the two, and they certainly give impressions of two very different books, so I'm curious which you think you'd find yourself reaching for on the shelves.
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  Stock images from Rain Village and A Blue So Dark went head to head, and for the second week in a row, we have a dead tie.

< ------ Everyone's a winner! ------ >

Trailer: This Is Not My Hat

Okay, I know this is a little different than what I normally post, but OMFG THIS IS THE BEST TRAILER EVER.  So freaking cute, I don't even care that I'm not in elementary school, I am so going to read this book.
[Besides, when has being in the target age group ever stopped me? ;P]

Trust me. Even if you're like, why the eff is she posting about a picture book, watch this trailer.
It's super quick, and super-er awesome.

This Is Not My Hat by John Klassen
Amazon | Goodreads
36 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Candlewick

A fish has stolen a hat. And he'll probably get away with it. Probably.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Haul: Octoberish

(No, seriously. Errthing.)

Always, with the books. These are the ones I've gotten within the last few weeks (unless I'm still forgetting some...). Let me know what you think if you've read them (or want to), and as always, thanks for watching/rating/subbing! =)

(0:33) Zita the Spacegirl: http://amzn.to/UF74RK
(0:58) Scarlet: http://amzn.to/QZLstj
(1:58) The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel (graphic novel): http://amzn.to/RX5Mwf
(2:58) Ask the Passengers: http://amzn.to/Swbw0J
(3:32) Stormdancer: http://amzn.to/LcYDnC
(3:56) Persuasion: http://amzn.to/RFRMrs
(4:23) The Believing Game: http://amzn.to/UF874i
(5:40) Austenisibly Ordinary: http://amzn.to/QZMG7C
(6:20) Me Talk Pretty One Day: http://amzn.to/Psfs6i
(6:34) Howl's Moving Castle: http://amzn.to/Swcx93
(7:05) Days of Blood and Starlight: http://amzn.to/SwcpGB
(7:54) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland...: http://amzn.to/P7RXbo
(8:01) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland...: http://amzn.to/P7VBSE
(8:15) Deathless: http://amzn.to/LckkZC

Legends of Zita the Spacegirl: http://amzn.to/M6GIRP
Austentatious: http://amzn.to/PTNGMT
Mortal Instruments: http://amzn.to/TWzSQy
Clockwork Angel: http://amzn.to/VGI6TF
Daughter of Smoke and Bonehttp://amzn.to/Vqc60i
Liz @ Consumed by Books: http://www.consumedbybooks.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coming Attractions: Reboot

**Before we get into today's Coming Attraction, I have a ? for you. I've been thinking about changing "Coming Attractions" to a "Book of the Day" feature, spotlighting a different book every single day (either all week or M-F). The book could be upcoming or backlisted, but the point is just to get it on your radar, see what people think of it, etc. Is this too much? I don't want to be all BARRAGE OF BOOKS but there are a lot of books out there I'd like to get out there.

I have to say, I'm definitely curious about Amy Tintera's sci-fi debut, Reboot - parts of the premise definitely sound awesome, like the fact that the length of time a reboot is dead determines their humanity and deadliness.
But then the synopsis seems to take a turn for the every-other-YA-novel-of-ever, when an attractive young mayun comes into the picture and the girl has to question errthing about her life and decide whether to give it all up for wuv.
Also: Wren and Callum.

So. I'm a bit on the fence, but still definitely enough on the intrigued side to give it a try.  How 'bout you? Are you guys going to be picking this one up, or waiting for the reviews to roll in?

Reboot by Amy Tintera
Sci-fi, 352 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by HarperTeen
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). 
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum. 
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

YALSA Top 10 Teen Books for 2012

Most of us may not have recognized the titles for this year's National Book Award finalists (Young People's Literature category), but I have a feeling we won't have any problem identifying these recently announced YALSA 2012 Top Ten books!!

These 10 books were chosen by teens for their favorite books of the previous year. YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Assoc.) is one of those groups I follow (I keep a copy of all of the YALSA long lists and bests lists, and rabidly track their Printz award winners), so if you're looking for a good YA read for yourself, a teen, or someone you know who wants to try YA, these 10 books might be a great place to start.

YALSA Top Ten of 2012:

Coming Attraction: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

It had been awhile since I'd gone through and marked books as to-read on Goodreads, so there were a lot of things I'd noticed were missing from my shelves. I figured, as long as I was going to go on a book-marking spree, I might as well dig through and see what all is coming out, right?And y'all - there is a lot of really cool stuff coming out. (See, this is why I hadn't gone through and marked in awhile. I knew it was going to make me WANT ALL TEH THINGS.)
So I hope you guys don't mind, but I may be inundating you with Coming Attractions over the next couple weeks... =)
First up, though, is one that just recently had its cover revealed, and I have to say, I am a fan.
(Also, it is not to be confused with this book of the same name...)
(Also-also: I'm really loving this trend of gothic horror in the upcoming crop of releases. Here's to hoping it's done well...)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Expected publication: August 2013 by Dial/Penguin
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Face Off: Rain Village vs. A Blue So Dark

This week's Face Off comes as a suggestion from Christina @ A Reader of Fictions who got ahold of me on Twitter to share these cover twins. Since I have a copy of A Blue So Dark, I actually have noticed it's stock-ness before, but for some reason, I don't think I ever posted about it. Musta been on the one-of-these-days pile... I'm actually glad I didn't, though, because I hadn't seen the cover for Carolyn Turgeon's Rain Village, and the way the cover has been adapted for both stories actually makes a perfect Face Off.
This one is pretty straight-forward, and you certainly don't need to have read either to vote - so, which one appeals to you more? Which would you reach for?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: The US and UK editions of my current read, Libba Bray's The Diviners, went art deco head-to-head, and I guess they're just going to have to learn to play nice, because it was a dead split.

<-------- Everyone's a winner -------->

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shelf x Shelf #1: Dark Red

A few weeks ago I shared my messy, messy color-coded bookshelves with you (overview), and because my book habit is so ridiculous (and my shelves so colorful), most of you wanted to see more. So today begins the first in an on-going series delving into my shelves.
This first shelf encompasses my darkest red books (there are links below to each book shown so you can check them out in more detail). In the video below, I show each book, talk about where I got them, and if I've read them, tell you what I think. If you'd rather see the quickie version of this shelf, go here.

Otherwise, enjoy, and let me know what you think!


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