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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top 10 Most Frustrating Characters!!

No, this is not a day late. I posted it on YT yesterday, but I didn't want to post it here yesterday because I didn't want to take away from the Scarlet-ness.

I've been wanting to do a Top Ten Tuesday vlog for awhile now, and this week's topic made for the perfect time to join in, since this is something I've been talking about a bit lately*.
If you want to check out Top Ten Tuesday for yourself, or link your own blog/vlog up, check out this week's post at The Broke and the Bookish!

*I asked everyone on Goodreads what their LEAST favorite book is, and we've been talking it over the last couple weeks, which has already got my mind primed for this Top Ten - couldn't pass it up!
That conversation is here.

3rd Annual Fairy Tale Fortnight Invitation!!

It's almost that time again!! Since I started this blog, I've always tried to share my love of fairy tales with you, 'cause frankly, I'm obsessed. For the last two years, that's meant a two week fairy tale blowout, and that tradition is continuing this year.  Like the past two years, I'll have a co-host helping me spread the fairy tale love, but this year, that co-host is coming in the form of Bonnie from A Backwards Story! You may recall Bonnie from all of the great posts she's brought to the event both years, even when she wasn't a full-fledged co-host; if anyone can give me a run for my money when it comes to sheer fairy tale obsession, it's Bonnie!

Before we get down to particulars: I've said in the past that no blog event feels real until there's a button for it, so let's start there. This year I made both a button (below) and a banner (above), and in the coming days, I'll have a post talking more about that, crediting all of the fabulous people whose work went into it. Feel free to share either or both when talking about Fairy Tale Fortnight. =)

Now, let's get down to business, shall we?

  • What is Fairy Tale Fortnight? Fairy Tale Fortnight is a two-week event that takes place once a year. The focus of the event is fairy tale retellings and fairy tale-esque works. The two weeks will be jam-packed with reviews, interviews, guest posts, giveaways and all manner of awesome things!
  • Where is  Fairy Tale Fortnight? FTF takes place here at The Book Rat and on my Youtube channel (and lets face it, it will probably spill over to my tumblr, twitter and facebook...) It will also be hosted on the blog of my co-host, Bonnie's, A Backwards Story, as well as her social media.
  • When is Fairy Tale Fortnight? This year, FTF will be taking place between Sunday, March 24th and Saturday, April 6th.
  • Can anyone participate in Fairy Tale Fortnight? YES! We highly encourage others to participate, whether it be through their own blogs, vlogs, tumblrs and tweets, or just through the comments. There will be a linky up on the first day for readers and participants to share their own fairy tale-related posts throughout the event. For those who want to be even more involved, we also invite people to guest post here at FTF HQ (ie mine and Bonnie's blogs). Guests can send us their own reviews, giveaways, Top 5 lists, etc - anything with a fairy tale slant that they think should have a turn in the FTF spotlight! There is a form below to fill out if you'd like to be considered for a guest slot!
  • Do you have to be a blogger/vlogger to participate in Fairy Tale Fortnight? NO, not at all! We welcome all comers; the only requirement is a love for fairy tales. Whether you're a full-fledged obsessive like we are, or are just starting to rediscover them, ALL are welcome to participate!
  • Can authors participate as well? Absolutely! Authors are welcome to participate in any of the ways listed above. If you'd like to do something more promotional, like an interview or a giveaway, or talk to Bonnie or I about a possible review, please email us: email Misty | email Bonnie
  • Anything else we should know? Yep! This year, Kathy from I am a reader, not a writer, has helped Bonnie and I organize a Fairy Tale Giveaway Blog Hop! I'm sure you all know how these work, and how epically fantastic they are, but if you want to know more, click on the hop button below!   You can also check out the schedules for year one and year two to get a better idea of how the events run, and what to expect from this year!

BEFORE I LET YOU GO, don't forget to fill out the form below if you'd like to be a featured guest during Fairy Tale Fortnight! And if you have anything particular you'd like to see on this year's event, please tell me in the comments!!

I have closed the form to responses, as it's so close to the event that I'd have to check daily, which is inefficient. But that doesn't mean you can't be involved!

If you'd still like to be a featured guest, but missed the chance to fill out the form, please email me or Bonnie.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ The Gruesome History of Little Red Riding Hood ~ guest post from Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles (blog tour)

The Gruesome History of Little Red Riding Hood

By Marissa Meyer

Once upon a time, there was a nice young woodsman who stumbled across a sleeping big bad wolf. Thinking surely this wolf was up to no good, the woodsman decided to cut open the wolf’s stomach with his axe—and lo and behold! Out popped a little girl in a red cape and her grandmother, both alive and well. After a fair amount of rejoicing at their miraculous rescue (and the fact that the wolf didn’t chew his food very well), they filled up the wolf’s stomach with rocks and sewed him back up. When the wolf awoke, he was so heavy that he couldn’t even walk, and he fell down dead.

Chances are, if you grew up reading fairy tales or having them read to you, your version of Little Red Riding Hood ended something like that. Heroic woodsman (or hunter). Dead wolf. Rescued little girl and grandmother.

But as with most fairy tales, the history of the story goes back farther than many of our children’s books acknowledge, and there have been countless versions of this story told and retold for hundreds of years.

In the research I did for writing SCARLET: Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles, I read my share of old versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and I was quite surprised to find that some elements of the old stories were even creepier than cutting off one’s toes to squeeze into a fancy shoe. (Yes, that was a Cinderella reference. I couldn’t help it!)

Not that popping out of a wolf’s stomach isn’t eerie enough, but even that’s pretty tame compared to things like…

In some versions of the tale, after the wolf has devoured the Grandmother (or perhaps… while he’s devouring her? I’m not sure of the logistics here…), he put her blood into a wine decanter and wrapped up her organs and put them into the pantry. When Little Red showed up and complained of hunger, what do you suppose he offered her to eat and drink? In fact, one version of the story takes it a step further by specifying which parts the girl was eating, including the old woman’s intestines, teeth, and jaws.

Ew, right?

Although, cannibalism aside, I actually like this version of the tale, because after Little Red has eaten her grandmother’s flesh, she recognizes the wolf for what he is and outsmarts him by complaining that she needs to use the bathroom. As this was before indoor plumbing, she was able to run outside and get away. What can I say? There aren’t too many tales in which girls are able to rescue themselves, so this one appeals to me.

It’s probably not much of a surprise to many readers that this tale comes with a thinly-veiled warning. Little Red = innocent little girl. Big Bad Wolf = male predator. Moral = don’t talk to strangers or bad things will happen to you.

Well, one version of the tale makes the sexual connotations even more blatant when the wolf, dressed up as the grandmother, asks Little Red to come into bed with him. But oh, one can’t just hop into bed fully dressed, can they? So the tale commences with a literal strip-tease in which the reader is given an itemized account of the little girl’s wardrobe as each piece is tossed into the fire (because, according to the wolf, she “won’t need them anymore”). *shudders*

The first recorded version of this tale came from Charles Perrault in 1697, and Mr. Perrault had a knack for being, well… depressing. Although his version of the tale isn’t the most gruesome, I find the moral he includes at the end of the tale (after both Little Red and her grandmother are gobbled up and the wolf goes on his merry way) to be creepy in its own right:

“Moral: Children, especially attractive, well bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.”

He continues on to warn about how even the most sweet, gentle, kind men—er, wolves—are not to be trusted. So essentially, marry the man your father chooses and be happy about it? Hmmmm…

(To be fair, it was 1697.)

If you’re interesting in reading some of these versions of the tale, I suggest the sources below.

Or, if you want to read an all-new version of Little Red as a spaceship pilot, well… I hope you’ll enjoy SCARLET!

Additional Reading

SurLaLune Fairy Tales: The Annotated Little Red Riding Hood: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/ridinghood/index.html

Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale by Catherine Orenstein: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/114476.Little_Red_Riding_Hood_Uncloaked

Thanks to the awesome folks at Macmillan, I have a shiny giveaway for you: a paperback of Cinder and a shiny, pretty hardcover of Scarlet!! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. Open to residents of US and CAN only, ends February 5th at midnight, EST. Full rules and regulations can be found in the Rafflecopter Terms.
Good luck!!
And make sure to check out my review of Scarlet!

(You can still leave Marissa some love, too!)

Can't get enough of the Lunar Chronicles?
Check out the accompanying short stories, Glitches and The Queen's Army, catch Marissa on tour, or become a Facebook fan!
Haven't checked out The Lunar Chronicles yet? Download the first 5 chapters of both Cinder and Scarlet!

And check out the rest of the blog tour stops!

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Scarlet Blog Tour)

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer 
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Fairy Tale Retelling/Sci-fi, 464 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Feiwel and Friends
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Marissa Meyer's debut, Cinder, made my list of faves in 2011, so of course I was really looking forward to the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series, Scarlet - especially 'cause LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD ZOMG!
Ahem. Excuse me.
LRRH is one of my favorite tales for a number of reasons - not least of which is because of how really fricken disturbing it is - and I love to see what people make of it when they retell it. And though I think Cinder still has a (cyborg) leg up for sheer uniqueness,  for the most part, Scarlet was thoroughly engaging and happy-making, just like its predecessor.

I talked a bit in my review of Cinder about how I love when a fairy tale retelling can stand on its own - when the original fairy tale elements are clearly there, but the story isn't mired in them. Cinder did this really well, and fortunately Scarlet stands on its own as well. I think with LRRH this is a little harder to do; I mean, a red cap or red hair, a trip to/search for grandma, a wolf of any kind - the barest whiff of any of these screams Little Red Riding Hood to people. We're used to rags-to-riches stories, so it sometimes escapes a heavy Cinderella parallel, but with LRRH, it's harder to not be obvious. (Am I making any sense?) But I think Meyer uses the fairy tale elements judiciously (and wisely, judging from the changes she made, which she highlights in her guest post at A Backwards Story), and though the LRRH-ness is always there, it never overwhelms the story. In this version, Red (aka Scarlet Benoit) and Wolf (aka, um...Wolf) retain some measure of their fairy tale aspects, but they each stand on their own quite nicely. I really, really liked both characters quite a bit (though not always together, though I'll get to that). Scarlet is strong, smart and fierce, and I couldn't help but love her. Wolf is enigmatic, a bit dangerous, but charming, and has a slight Bad Boy tang, but without the unsavory aftertaste (Wolf he may be, and Alpha he may be, but an Alpha A-hole he is not, and Hallelujah for that). The more minor characters are fantastic as well - the old familiar ones who pop up again, as well as the new additions. Meyer crafts great characters for readers to love and/or love to hate.

The one problem I had, though, was sort of character-related: there are a lot of them. It's not that it's ever confusing, or that the cast of characters is even all that huge. The problem lies in the fact that they each have to have their time in the spotlight: there are multiple narrators/POVs, multiple plot-lines going on, and as a result, it sometimes felt like the focus was split. Cinder got an entire book to herself, but Scarlet has to share, which makes me worried for Cress and Winter. Now, this is tricky, because I love Cinder, and I would have been disappointed if she didn't have a part in this (and I liked her part in this, truly). Also, I think there would have been mutiny if Cinder didn't have a part in this, because hello? book one's cliffhanger... But it's hard to build as much tension and make readers care as much for the new characters - and any romance that may be developing - when they're giving up a lot of their screen time to everybody else. I loved Scarlet and Wolf, but as for loving them together, I think I mostly did because I was supposed to, and not necessarily because I was given no choice but to - there are some excellent moments of tension and building chemistry, but there's not enough there yet to make me love their love, or whatever may come. (Especially given the time frame of the book.)

Now, this is not in any way to say that I don't see chemistry there, or that I didn't like either of them, because that would be totally false. The chemistry was palpable, and I loved Scarlet and Wolf almost as much as Cinder and Kai - just not as a swoon-worthy couple (yet). But I can see it getting there, and I certainly liked what each brought to the story, not just in themselves, but in the way their characters and backgrounds expanded the world of the story. Each brought new pieces of information to the table that embellished the world and added to the understanding of the Lunars, their powers, and Queen Levana's endgame. The story grows nicely as a result, and Meyer has set up a strong basis for where the series is going, making me very eager for Cress and Winter, which frankly, can't come out soon enough.

And on a side note: I'd sure love to see these made into films; I have a feeling they could be pretty kickass.

Second side note: Bonnie, whose blog I linked above for the guest post, is continuing the celebration of Scarlet's release by having a Week of Little Red. She'll be having giveaways, reviews and posts of all things Little Red-related, so if you're looking for more LRRH, stop by and check it out. =)

Can't get enough of the Lunar Chronicles?
Check out the accompanying short stories,
catch Marissa on tour, or become a Facebook fan!
Haven't checked out The Lunar Chronicles yet? 
Download the first 5 chapters of both Cinder and Scarlet!

Monday, January 28, 2013

To Miss Austen, on the 200th anniversary of your beloved book...

My Dear Jane, 

Your most popular work turns 200 today; it is still going strong. That's a colloquialism that means people still love it, ardently, all these long years later. Times have changed so that you'd barely recognize the world; romance and courtship and human interaction is a far cry from what you would have been used to. 

And yet, people still find something to love at the core of a story you wrote hundreds of years ago. It's a truth universally acknowledged that draws people back to this story, time and time again, and it is more meaningful and real than any opening jokes on social status or wealth. It's a truth about love and human connection - about surrounding yourself with people who challenge you, bring out the best in you, help you grow, and always love you for exactly who you are, even when you don't think you want or need them to. 

With insight and humor and your humble pen, you struck at the core of what humans most desire in life; Lizzie, with her wit and humor, and above all, her standards, personified what we all know - that in the end, it's not about wealth or status. 

It's about staying true to yourself. 
It's about not being afraid to grow and change. 
It's about loving, and being loved.

Thank you.
~ M.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice. To celebrate, author Alyssa Goodnight and Courtney from Stiletto Storytime have organized a  celebration hop. Click on the button below to check out the other posts to/about Jane and P&P, or join in and add your own voice to the celebration.

If you're in the mood for more Jane right now, check out my review of Austensibly Ordinary or my quirky interview with Alyssa Goodnight.

Review: Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight

Austensibly Ordinary by Alyssa Goodnight
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Contemporary/Romance/Jane Motherlovin Austen Adaptation, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 29th 2013 by Kensington
Steamy, funky, and thoroughly modern, Austin, Texas isn’t much like the gardened country estates of Jane Austen’s work. But there might be a few similarities in its inhabitants…

Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties—after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But Cate is ready for a change. When she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it’s her chance. And she grabs on with both hands…

Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she’s uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. It’s a positively Austenite predicament, and Cate is sure she’ll land in hot water and heartbreak—but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her…

I mentioned at the end of my quirky little interview with Alyssa that this book is perfect for those looking for a good time.
That sounds like something you'd find written on a bathroom wall.*
I don't mean that kind of good time. (Probably.) I mean, Austensibly Ordinary is super fun and engaging; the tone and voice were excellent, the main characters were lively, and Alyssa's writing was cheeky, flirty and hilarious. No matter the plot, no matter if the word "romance" makes you cringe, I think characters you connect with are what sell a book - people will put up with just about anything when the characters are lively and engaging, and Cate absolutely is. Exactly what you want when you're looking for a good-time book. And a romance that doesn't take itself too seriously is certainly something I look for, and it's rare that I find it, so that sorta makes me want to sing its praises.

And speaking of things rarely found in romances that makes me want to dance around like a fool sing praises, this actually kept me guessing, which is INCREDIBLY rare for me in general, but especially in anything of the romance variety. It's almost unheard of. (I mean, a romance that actually surprised me on multiple occasions? WHAT IS THIS WITCHERY?)  Now, some of these surprises might stretch credibility a little too far for some readers, but really, for any absurdities or lack of believability in the story, I never - not once - cared. Like, for real, at all, couldn't have cared less because I was enjoying myself. This book is just too damn fun to be bothered by any plot points that might usually give me pause, or any obvious wish-fulfillment. And isn't that was this type of book is all about anyway? It's a Jane Austen adaptation, for god's sake - of course there's a healthy dose of wish-fulfillment. But this isn't the cheesy, eye-rolly kind; it's the mmmm, why didn't any of my teachers look like Ethan Chavez? kind - Cate's adventures as her alter-ego, Cat Kennedy,** are the pinnacle of conscious wish-fulfillment, and it was delightful.

One of the things that surprised me was that this has a tinge of magical realism to it, but not in the traditionally weighty way. There's no grandoise meaning; I also hesitate to call it paranormal, or anything like that, though those elements are there. But Goodnight uses a soft touch with these elements; they're a means to an end and a way to enhance the fantasy of the story, but they're not the focus, and so the story doesn't get bogged down in them.  At its heart, this is just a good old fashioned romance, pulling in Jane Austen's Emma to great effect, but balancing it with a good dose of pop culture and - of all things - spy fic, and tying it together with a pretty magical realist bow. It's ridiculous how well it all works. (I mean, Jane Austen and Alfred Hitchcock? And it somehow makes sense together? Again, WHAT IS THIS WITCHERY?) All of this adds to the lighthearted, quirky tone of the story, but beyond that, it makes the book appeal to a broader audience, kind of pulling everyone in along the way, and I liked that.

All in all, the book is peopled with interesting, fleshed-out characters, a good sense of place (Austin, TX), a fun mash-up of elements, and a fantastically fun voice. And the healthy dose of supah-sexah doesn't hurt, either... Highly recommended for fans of Austen adaptations, fun contemporary romance, or those in need of a good funk-breaker book.

*For a good time, call Alyssa Goodnight. Or maybe call Cate-as-Cat? Definitely call Ethan; so say the ladyparts.
** Yes, I know. It adds a whole other layer of hilarious to read about the sassy exploits of a character who shares a name with someone you know... Though I'm sure Kat would approve of Cat's sass.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Chat with Alyssa Goodnight...and then some

The scene: I'm sitting down with author Alyssa Goodnight to talk about her about-to-be-released-into-the-wild book, Austensibly Ordinary. We're cozied up to a little table, with coffee or something warm and yummy, casually chatting. There are two people seated behind her: a pretty girl dressed like a nice, prim little English teacher (because she is), but with a certain gleam in her eye that hints she's maybe not always so prim, and a man of the tall, dark, and handsome variety, nerdy but sexy - and yes, there should be a word for that.  His attention is mostly focused on the girl at his side, but he took in the whole room with quick, determined focus.  Alyssa introduced them as Cate Kendall and Ethan Chavez when they came in, and if I was surprised to find she travels with her main characters, I hid it well. (I think.) So far, they've been content to sit in the background and keep each other occupied...
But back to the conversation with Alyssa.

Me: So, Alyssa - are we going to see the Austen journal pop up again with another perplexed owner?
Alyssa: Not in the very near future. I was only contracted by Kensington for two 'Jane Austen Journal' books, so if there is another one, I would very likely put it out on my own.
Me: But who do you think the journal would find next? A Catherine-type, maybe, or perhaps an Anne? mutters: Though perhaps a Fanny-type needs the most help...
We both pause to sip our steaming drinks.
Alyssa: Catherine would be fun, Anne more serious but lots of potential. I'm not convinced that Fanny would take any advice that was offered, even if Jane herself was doing the offering.
Cate looks as if she's about to say something here, but then her attention is drawn back by a whisper from Ethan, and the moment passes.
Me: Well, if you could use the journal just once, and try to pry an answer from the ever-crypic Jane, would you?
Alyssa's eyes light up. Of course she'd use the journal - who would pass up an opportunity to interact with Jane Austen?
Me: laughs So that's a yes. What would you ask?
Alyssa ponders this, and says: Gifted with the opportunity to ask Jane of the Journal a question, I might ask for her best writing advice. I feel like I have my romantic life pretty locked in. She'd probably tell me, 'Write what you know and edit until it's utterly readable.' And she'd be spot-on.
We all nod sagely...
Me: Well, you may have your romantic life "locked in" (and gold star for you on that), but we can all agree we need to do little things for ourselves every now and then to shake things up...like Cate did with her alter-ego, Cat.
Cate blushes, but also looks fiercely proud...
Me: What would your alter-ego be like, Alyssa? What buried aspects of your personality would she bring out?
Alyssa: An alter-ego for moi? Hmmm…such a good question! If I was going to go to the trouble of creating an alter-ego, my new identity would definitely need to be more adventurous than I am. And more confident and outspoken. And she'd need to have thick, wavy hair. Looks wistfully at her own pin-staight and superfine hair...
Me: Would you base her on anyone, the way Cate did with her Hitchcockian femme fatales?
Alyssa: Maybe Emma Stone. Or Emma Watson.
Me: Thing for the Emmas, eh? I wink at Cate and Ethan, who have their own Emma connection. Then, realizing I always look ridiculous winking, I stop.
Alyssa: laughs Or Helen Mirren. In case you're wondering, blonde is not a requirement… I'm always inspired by the characters they play, and I have a feeling that they're drawing on their own personalities to bring those characters to life.
Me: On a sort of similar note, it seemed like you were drawing on your own experiences with the city of Austin when you wrote Austensibly Ordinary; Austin is a great presence in the book!
Alyssa: blushes
Me: So what's your favorite thing about the Weird City?
Alyssa, pondering: My favorite thing about Austin is its quirky, melting pot culture: the feeling that if it's happening anywhere in the U.S., it's happening somewhere in Austin. Austin is one of those cities where you feel like your options are limitless, and you can spend a weekend--or a week--on totally divergent pastimes, never running out of things to do.
Me: Sounds like Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein should move there and film a show called Austinlandia...
Alyssa: laughs I totally took that for granted when I lived there, and I regret that every time I go back.
Me: looks at Cate and Ethan. What about you two? You're being awfully quiet back there...
Cate and Ethan pull apart - barely - and look up at us. Ethan smiles; he has a dimple.
Ethan: Despite the obvious irony, I'd say my favorite thing about Austin is the "Live and let live." mentality. The city is completely 'anything goes.' And with some notable exceptions, everybody steers clear of everyone else's business.
Cate: snorts Where's the fun in that? You needed someone up in your business, Chavez. Be thankful I volunteered. My new favorite thing about Austin would definitely be how easy it is to reinvent yourself! The city is in a constant state of flux and reinvention. I decided I wanted to be a temporary femme fatale, and I made it happen--just for a few weeks, and it was fun and sexy and unexpected. Now I want to start all over again, and it almost feels like the city is spurring me on. Maybe I want to join a roller derby team… In Austin, not only is that an option, but I have my pick of teams…one week I could be a Hustler and the next, a Honky Tonk Heartbreaker.
Ethan: You do not want to join a roller derby team. And the fact that you know two team names worries me.
Cate: Why? You don't think I can bring it?
Ethan: If you were as tenacious with speed skating and bodychecking as you are with people's private lives, you could totally bring it…
Cate: All that bad grammar out there on the track? I could see it working me into a tizzy… And I already have a name picked out! What do you think of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof? Too tame?
Ethan: For your imaginary roller derby persona? No, I think it's fine--perfect.
Cate: If we still had the journal, we could ask Gypsy Jane what she thought about a roller derby alter ego.
Ethan: Given the chance to ask her one final question, that's the one you'd pick?
Cate: No, probably not. I'd probably want to ask if we'll ever work together. Like Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Ethan (choking): Whereas I'd ask if you'll ever be completely comfortable in your own skin. That's the one thing I'm going to miss about Cat--she was comfortable, almost too comfortable. I might miss a few of her outfits too.
Cate: I knew you had a soft spot for Cat, despite your grumpy demeanor every time she showed up. Variety is the spice of life, Chavez. How about I outfit my imaginary roller derby persona: I'm thinking lots of leg and not a small amount of cleavage, and then we'll see what you think.
Ethan: I can't stop you, even if I wanted to.
Cate: But you don't want to. Admit it, Ethan.
Ethan: I don't want to.
Alyssa and I, feeling like we're suddenly intruding on a private moment, finish our drinks and leave Cate and Ethan to their banter... 

You can pick up Austensibly Ordinary starting this Tuesday - and if you're a Janeite, in any way romantic, or just in need of a damn good, fun book, I'd highly suggest you do.
Stop back tomorrow for my review and a letter to Jane Austen, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice!
Steamy, funky, and thoroughly modern, Austin, Texas isn’t much like the gardened country estates of Jane Austen’s work. But there might be a few similarities in its inhabitants…

Cate Kendall is no stranger to daydreams of brooding men and fancy parties—after all, she teaches one of her beloved Jane Austen novels in her English classes every year. But as for romance or adventure in her own life, the highlight of most weeks is Scrabble with her cute coworker, Ethan, and he draws the line at witty banter. But Cate is ready for a change. When she finds a mysterious journal that seems to have a link to the soul of the great Jane Austen herself, she knows it’s her chance. And she grabs on with both hands…

Before she knows it, Cate has invented an alter ego with an attitude, attended some seriously chic soirees, and gotten tangled up with a delicious mystery man. And she’s uncovered enough unexpected secrets about Ethan that her Scrabble partner has taken to brooding looks and unfathomable silences. It’s a positively Austenite predicament, and Cate is sure she’ll land in hot water and heartbreak—but maybe not with Jane herself to guide her…

Saturday, January 26, 2013

#FridayReads: The Princess Curse

I know it's Saturday, but yeah... here's my Friday Reads, woot woot!
This is one I just finished up and absolutely ADORED, so I just had to share it with you guys. All the info and links are below; if you have read it or do read it, definitely let me know what you think!

And if you're unfamiliar, #FridayReads is a hashtag meme on Twitter where people chat about what they'll be reading over the weekend. Bunny Cates decided to bring it over to youtube, (check out her video for this week here) and I decided to put my own spin on it by combining it with my previous Teaser Tuesdays. Thanks for watching!

Get It: http://amzn.to/V4LBzF
Add It: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9588207-the-princess-curse
Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling—and downright silly—curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward.

Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist's apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money that could buy her a position as a master herbalist.

But curses don't like to be broken, and Reveka's efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing. Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Face Off: A Corner of White

When the ever-awesome Renee sent me a copy of Jaclyn Moriarty's A Corner of White all the way from Australia, I mentioned that the cover reminded me of something you'd find on adult women's fiction here in the US. I had a feeling the US publisher would do something completely different, and wouldn't you know...
So here are the AUS and US versions of A Corner of White, which is out in Australia and will be coming out this Spring stateside. Once again, I'm including the synopsis below, so you can vote just on cover appeal or on which one you think is suited to the story better - whatever you'd like. And interestingly this week, the synopses take very different approaches, too. So:
Which one did it better?

from the original AUS version:
Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

and from the US version:
The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

Last Week on FFO: The US and AUS versions of Alexandra Bracken's The Darkest Minds went head to head, but unfortunately for the AUS version, heads - or at least, books with heads on them - lost. The US won, 2-to-1.
Winner ------->

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Bookaholic Tag

Awhile back, I asked people to send me any tags they wanted me to do so that I could post them periodically. This is one of the tags I was asked to do, the Happy Bookaholic tag from Sabrina of About Happy Books. (You can find Sabrina's channel and her original tag here.)
So here you have it. Feel free to leave your answers to any of the questions in the comments, or do a video response of your own! Also, if you have a tag you want me to do, let me know in the comments! =)

1. What do you love about buying new books?
2. How often do you buy new books?
3. Bookstore or online book shopping - which do you prefer?
4. Do you have a favourite bookstore?
I talk about two, this one and this one.
5. Do you preorder books?
6. Do you have a monthly book buying limit?
7. Book buying bans - are they something for you?
8. How big is your wishlist? BIG.
Amazon wishlist and Goodreads wishlist; there's no way I can find to share my BWB wishlist, so sorry!
9. Which three books (from you wish list or preorders, or ... ) would you like to own NOW?
At the time I recorded this, I said:

but frankly this is apt to change every single time I'm asked this.
10. Whom do you tag?
Errbody. But specifically, Liz and Allison!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
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291 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

This was one of my more highly anticipated books of last year (because hello? Fairy tale freak. This is not news to anyone.), and it's sort of shameful that I am just now posting a written review. (Though yes, I did have a mini vlogged one here. But still.) I feel like I've talked about this book a lot, but nothing's all official-like until I write about it. So.

This was my favorite Jackson Pearce book to date. I've enjoyed everything I've read by her, but there's always been something a teensy bit off for me, especially in her endings. As short as her books are, they seem to lose steam a bit at the end, which is disappointing on its own, of course, but more so considering how much I enjoy them up to the steam-loss. But while Fathomless isn't perfect by any means, its come the closest to being exactly what I wanted from it. It has this really good dark streak that is perfectly suited to both the original tale and to the world Pearce has set up in her retellings series. There's this quality of a car crash in remarkably slow motion, a great sense of foreboding over the whole story, that creates excellent tension, and Pearce uses that to get at the unhappiness and emptiness at the core of The Little Mermaid - and is it weird to say I was so very happy to see that? This aspect is one of the things I potentially love most about a fairy tale retelling (especially one as dark as TLM1), but it's also often one of the most disappointing and neglected aspects. Modern audiences are so out of touch with original fairy tales that retellings that make use of the actual endings and tones are considered novel and creative, rather than traditional. We've been Disneyfied, and I'm on a tangent, so I'm going to rein myself in and just wrap that up by saying, I love it when a retelling is more traditionally bleak2... Fortunately Pearce capitalizes on it, to which I say THANK GOD. This is what I wanted from a TLM retelling. It's a little off. It's a little disturbing. Perfect.

A big part of what makes this work is the characters. The sisters and the romance are means to an end, but the "3" main characters (one of them being a 2-in-1 deal...) are what make this story what it is. How they interact with/react to each other and their colliding worlds, and how they use each other to make sense of their lives - and in a desperate attempt to break away from the things holding them back - is what gives this story that car-crash feeling. It's impossible for them to all get what they want, to all have their HEA3, but you're made to care for each of them, damaged as they are. And so you know pain is coming, and it's simply a matter of degrees... It leaves you a little conflicted4 because you both see flaws and feel sympathy for each of them, which makes things excellently ambiguous. Add to this an overall dark tone and sort of desperate, lonely, magical atmosphere with not all of the loose ends tied up, and you've got a book nicely calculated to make for Happy Mistys.5

This complements the rest of the series very well, but can also be read completely as a standalone, which is excellent  for readers wanting who've been wanting to pick these up, or even just Fathomless specifically, but weren't sure about making a series committment. Though all of the stories are linked, and they will expand the readers understanding of the rest, they work perfectly as potential companion novels to be read on their own. You don't have to feel tied down by them, or obligated to read them (to know what's going on or to have closure), which is something I really like from a series of this type. So if you've liked Pearce in the past or have been wanting to give her a try, I think you can't really go wrong with Fathomless.

1. Originally, of course. I love me some Alyssa Milano-Ariel as much as the next 80s kid, but in case you didn't know, Disney changed the story a whole lot. Like, it's actually a real bummer...
2. Ok, nothing's going to keep me from sounding weird, so whatever. I like the sad, tortured feels.
3. Happily Ever After.
4. Unless you don't root for non-humans, maybe?  I'm not always Team Human.
5. 1 out of 1 Mistys agree.
What's this? A note within a note? Yeah, I only like those feels in fairy tales. Add 'em to some YA PNR and I might have to cut you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 22nd 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
One house, two worlds...

Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.

It wouldn't be a lie to say that I wanted to read this because of the cover and its obvious Downton Abbey inspiration, but it also wouldn't be a lie to say I probably would never have actively sought this out, because of those things, and because reasons.  But when its pretty self showed up* in my mailbox before Christmas, luring me in the packets of Walkers shortbread and Twinings English Breakfast tea - well, frankly it was just too tempting a scene to pass up. So picture me, curled up on the couch, dunking my biscuits in a steaming cuppa, ready to sink into a (hopefully) nice little bit of turn of the century escapism. Maybe the tea and sugar (and butter. My god, the butter in those biscuits!) did their job and lulled me after a time, because after a jarring bit in the beginning when I felt sure this book and I were not going to get on, we somehow became reluctant friends. Confidants, even.

But lets get that first bit out of the way, shall we? It's the dreaded insta-love. And I mean insta. Like, pretty sure it happened on about page 2, with two characters who'd never met, had no business being alone unchaperoned (at night. On a ship!), and both of whom acted out of character/station. It had me gasping behind my fan, I can tell you. With this, my guard was definitely up, and when you add in some of the anachronistic/unrealistic approach to the story, I was all prepared to heartily dislike this. BUT as much as I wanted to be bothered by this (and the complete lack offoundation in their sudden "relationship"), I eventually just gave in. I mean, the times, they were a-changin', and it is the lit equivalent of a soap opera, so whatever. I certainly would have preferred anticipation and build-up in the relationship - in a few relationships, actually, as they were all on the risque side; come to think of it, I would much have preferred this to be a sweeping saga that really wrenched every bit of drama out of the interactions... -  but I had to face the facts that this was just never going to be that type of story, and I could dig my heels in or I could enjoy it. And when I came to (grudging) terms with that, I did thoroughly enjoy myself.

Yes, this was heavily inspired by Downton Abbey. Not just the time/setting, but even the plot points - kind of a "ripped from the headlines" approach in some ways, which is fine so long as you make it your own. And that was sort of the point of this book, after all, and the reason I wanted to read it, so I can't really hate... Like Downton, there are a lot of characters to keep track of. Actually, if I'm being honest, there were too many characters to keep track of, especially when they're not all that distinct. There were a few times I had to flip back and figure out who someone was, where they came in, and why they were significant. This is something dealt with much easier on screen, where people have distinct looks and there are all kinds of visual clues in how they dress/carry themselves to remind us where they fit into the story. Much harder on the page, when the story is flitting back and forth between plot-lines and the reader is left to keep track of who's who and how they know each other (compounded by the fact that just about everyone in the book is just now becoming acquainted with one another...). Because of that, I imagine this would be a frustrating book for some people. Eventually I got them all worked out, though, and even grew to sort of care about of few of them (surprise!). It's also very quick-moving, and some readers may feel rushed about. (I've already mentioned I would like a little more lingering... but at least the quick pace kept things lively.)

In the end, I have to say, I enjoyed it. It's anachronistic, but fun; not for diehard traditionalists, certainly - if you like your historical dramas to be sweeping and epic and (most of all) painstakingly researched and historically accurate, this is probably not the book for you. This isn't a book that will have you building ballrooms in your mind, or feeling as if it's so lovingly rendered that you practically lived it with the characters. No, this is not that. But for those looking for something fun to tide them over in between seasons of Downton, or for a nice bit of easy escapism, a good guilty pleasure read, it certainly ticks all the boxes. And though I don't know that the series will ever be one of my jumping-eager, gotta-have-it, breathlessly-awaiting-the-next series, I'm definitely curious to see what happens next at Somerton. I'll have a nice supply of tea and biscuits waiting...

* Thanks, Disney Hyperion!

Friday Face Off: The Darkest Minds

This week, a story : I actually woke up a few days ago and realized that I'd been dreaming about this book... You see, Alexandra Bracken shared the AUS cover of her latest book, The Darkest Minds, on her facebook page, which just reminded me how much I want to pick this up. I've very nearly broke down numerous times and ordered it, but I keep reminding myself that I'm trying to save for a snazzy new camera. Resist, Misty, resist! So I keep putting it in and taking it out of Amazon carts, meanwhile dreaming that I'm in a quaint little marketplace where someone has a massive stall full of super cheap books, omg, and wouldn't you know, she's got a copy of The Darkest Minds?! (Looked nothing like either of these, though I can't quite remember what it did look like; pretty sure it was white...) I snatched it up, of course, and it was weighty and happy to be in my hands, I could tell. I looked around, paranoid as I added it to my stack, amazed that no one else had spotted it. It was my find. I was going to read it right then, as soon as I'd paid... Which I lined up to do, only to WAKE UP. It took me a number of minutes to realize that, though I'd felt it in my hands, I did not in fact own this book. And sad pandas the world 'round got sadder...
ANYWHO, here are the US and AUS versions of The Darkest Minds. They're startlingly different, which actually gave me the idea of doing something different this week: FFO started off as a pure cover-appeal type of thing; we judged the books simply on which we'd reach for, which we wanted to know more about. But this week I'm including the jacket copy below the covers, and though you're still welcome to make your decision solely on cover appeal (which intrigues you, which would you pick up and flip over, which would you have on your shelves), you're also welcome to vote based on which you think most suited to the synopsis.  (Let me know in the comments if you'd like me to continue doing this for future FFOs)
Which one did it better?

from Goodreads:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

LAST WEEK ON FFO: Updated (and possibly non-existent) versions of Maureen Johnson's Devilish went head to head, with the updated - and rather more sinister - version just b a r e l y  ekeing out a win. Though I still prefer the subtle creep factor of my own yellow version (which is the same as the original hardcover, which was shown, only yellow instead of white), I definitely see why some of the details of the updated paperback won people over.
Winner -------->

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Chat: Reading Resolutions

Since everyone's thinking about this anyway...

Share your Reading Resolutions for the coming year in the comments, as a video response, and/or as a vlog or blog post on the linky below!

If you have a topic you'd like to see on Book Chat this year, let me know in the comments or tweet it to me @TheBookRat!

And as always, thanks for watching, rating and subbing, and happy reading!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

CLOSED Giveaway: The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan!

You may remember me talking about this Very Practical Field Guide, which teaches all manner of useful things to Ladies of Quality... I reviewed it a couple of years ago during Jane in June, and interviewed its author.
Well, to celebrate the upcoming 200th anniversary of the release of Pride and Prejudice, Quirk Books has offered up a copy of this beautiful - and very practical - Handbook!
If you've ever wanted to know how to write a proper letter, identify people of Good Breeding, or any number of things a True Lady* should know, this is the book for you.
*Ok, enough of the capitals. I'm done, I promise.

Check it out and enter to win below!

The Jane Austen Handbook: Proper Life Skills from Regency England by Margaret C. Sullivan
Get It | Add It
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Quirk Books
Long before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk published this guide to life in Regency England to the delight of Austen fans everywhere. Newly published with a revised cover, The Jane Austen Handbook offers step-by-step instructions for proper comportment in the early 19th century. Readers will discover:

• How to Indicate Interest in a Gentleman Without Seeming Forward
• How to Ensure a Good Yearly Income
• How to Ride Sidesaddle
• How to Behave at a Dinner Party

Full of practical directions for navigating the travails of Regency life, this charming illustrated book also serves as a companion for present-day readers, explaining the English class system, currency, dress, and the nuances of graceful living.

*** GIVEAWAY ***
Quirk Books is giving away one lovely, hardbound edition of The Jane Austen Handbook to one lovely, fleshbound person in the US, CAN or the UK. Ends on the 200th anniversary of P&P, January 28th!! Fill out the Rafflecopter below, and see full giveaway details in the Terms. Good luck!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

CLOSED Middle Grade Giveaway: AVALON: Web of Magic swag!

Awhile back, I had a guest post from Rachel Roberts, author of the middle grade series, Avalon: Web of Magic. To go along with that (albeit belatedly...), I have a giveaway of EPIC SWAGNESS PROPORTIONS for you!

Thanks to Premier Digital Publishing, I have a whole slew of Avalon swag to give away to a few lucky winners!!

Up for grabs are:

  • 6 full size posters featuring the gorgeous artwork from the series
  • 3 rubber bracelets from the series
  • and an Avalon: Web of Magic t-shirt (child's small)
  • I'm also going to toss in some other random middle grade-appropriate swag, just 'cause!

I'm going to have 5 winners, with the prizes divided up as I see fit once the contest has run (ie, some winners will have multiple prizes, obviously, but who gets what will be dependent on a number of things, including t-shirt sizing...)  Everyone is welcome to enter, as I know there probably aren't all that many actual middle graders who read blogs, or are allowed to enter contests from strangers all willy-nilly - that being said, I do hope these actually make their way TO middle graders, so enter for your kids, your neighbors, your students, your friends' kids, etc!
Full contest info in the Rafflecopter Terms, but due to the awkwardness of shipping posters, this is US only.
Learn more about the series, the resultant manga, and the upcoming feature film, here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Face Off: Devilish

This week's Face Off of Maureen Johnson's Devilish is an interesting one for a number of reasons. One: the very particular changes between the simple original cover and the more detailed (but mostly the same) follow up intrigue me. Two: This face off actually came about when I stumbled upon the 3rd cover on Amazon - even though I can't seem to find it in existence anywhere else... No idea if this cover is something someone just made on a whim and replaced on Amazon somehow, or whether this can actually be found in the wild...
Either way, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on all three this week, as well as know which you'd rather have on your shelves. So:
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: Two versions of Matt Haig's The Radleys faced off, with most of you preferring the fresh, kitschy look of the newer cover - though at least one of you (Jen) was concerned the cover model may be about to moon an entire bat colony...
Winner ---------->

Thursday, January 10, 2013

CLOSED GIVEAWAY: Mist & Frost by Kathryn James

These fairy tale-esque thrillers are in my current reading pile, so I'm definitely happy to have a chance to share them with you! And they're so very pretty!
Check 'em out:

Midnight: a mist-haunted wood with a bad reputation. A sweet sixteen party, and 13 year old Nell is trying to keep her sister, spoilt birthday-girl Gwen, out of trouble. No chance. Trouble finds Gwen and drags her through the mist. Only Nell guesses who’s behind the kidnap - the boy she hoped was her friend, the cute but mysterious Evan River.

All those fairy stories Nell’s grandmother told her about girls being stolen by fairy folk are true. The Elven are beautiful as starlight, fierce as wolves, and cold as ice. And they want their world back. The fight has been raging for centuries. Nell’s grandmother should know, she’s a Watcher, the ones responsible for imprisoning the Elven in isolated iron-bound camps in Siberia. Only Evan, his fanatical older brother Fen, and a handful of Elven children are still free.

Fen, hellbent on revenge, keeps Gwen in their wolf-guarded stronghold deep in the mist. The price for her safe return? The release of all the Elven – but the Watchers will never agree. Only Nell can save Gwen.

Time is twisted through the mist: if Nell stops longer than a night and day, a hundred years will hit her as soon as she returns and she’ll be old and withered before she’s even lived. The clock is ticking.

Thanks to the awesome folks at Hachette UK/Hodder Childrens Books, I have a paperback set of both books to give away to one lucky winner!
This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, and ends next Friday (the 18th)!
Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter; please do not leave your email or any sensitive info in the comments!!

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Bout of Books Goals + 1st challenge

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

So, every year I see people posting on Twitter about #BoutofBooks, and every year I either have too crazy a schedule to jump in, or I catch it at the tail end. But THIS year, I happened to catch it on the first day, and my work schedule is fairly light (plus I have a huge stack of books to read, and more calling my name), so I figured might as well take advantage of the extra push and start a nice big avalanche in my to-be-read mountain.

If you're unfamiliar with BoB, here's the official blurb:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. -From the Bout of Books 6.0 team

I also need to catch up on a crap load of reviews (and I have numerous giveaways to schedule in, and meme-y stuff, etc), so I'm not going to make my pile too outlandish, but I'm hoping to at least put a nice dent in this:

Now, this pile is overly optimistic, BUT two of them are graphic novels and the bottom two would be rereads; I figured I'd throw them in because I've been craving them like crazy lately. In fact, I started Daughter of the Forest eaaarly this morning (ie the middle of the night last night), so it'll be my first read of the 'thon. So hopefully it's doable.  (In the back, behind my chosen stack, you can see Shadowlands...I may put that in the rotation too, if I'm craving it.)

My picks:
Review books:
Mist by Kathyrn James, which I need to read so I can read the sequel (gotta schedule in a giveaway, too)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, which sounds interesting, and I need to read soon, or it's in danger of slipping down the pile in favor of Fairy Tale Fortnight prep.
Siege by Sarah Mussi, which just sounds really awesome in a scary, disturbing way, and which is coming out soon, so I need to read it!
Graphic Novels:
Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid of the Hudson by Mark Siegel and  Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, both of which were Christmas presents, and both of which sound amazing. I've also flipped through each and love the art, so I can't wait to dig in.
and Rereads:
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, which I think I've said all I can really say on it, though I feel like I could talk about it forever; it was time for (another) reread
and  An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, because I've been talking about it a lot lately, and it's making me really miss the characters.

My goals in general (not just for the week, but for the year) are:

  • To close my computer and leave it closed at a set time each night, and spend the rest of the time before I go to sleep reading. (Hopefully this will serve the dual purposes of helping me read more AND not stay up so damn late.)
  • To always, always take review notes on a book when I finish, before starting another.
  • To read more of my OWN books. I own so many, and have had some that I'm realllly eager for, on my shelves, untouched, for far too long now.
And that's it, really. Simple, straight-forward, needs to happen.

So that's my stack, and I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed that I don't get distracted and give up (did I mention my crazy list of things to do? And the fact that I'm still making Christmas presents, because they turned out more complicated than I'd thought? Yeah...)

NOW. Part of Bout of Books is fun little challenges and giveaways, and though I don't know that I'll have time or the inclination to participate in each, I'm going to try, starting with todays. It comes from The Book Barbies, who want us to have a little Pretend Time session:
You have made a scientific discovery (who knew you were so good at science?!) on how to bring fictional characters to life. The problem? The method still isn't *perfect,* so you can only bring two people to life, and they must return to the land of fiction in 30 days. Who will you choose as your bestie and your love interest for that one splendid month? (Feel free to add pictures if you like, but they are not required.)
I feel like I have a different answer for these questions every time someone asks them. Fickle, fickle me... For right now, I'm going to go with:

<----- Karou for my bestie. She's got a lot on her plate right now, true, but she'd also have some pretty cool stories to share, tricks to show, and people to introduce me to (including her bestie, Zuze, who might be the coolest chick ever.)

and Reyn for my boyfran, 'cause REYN. Yum. 
Nothing more need be said. ----->


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