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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview & Giveaway with S.C. Langgle (Alice in Everville blog tour)

I know we're suffering a surfeit of giveaways here at The Book Rat lately [*waggles eyebrows*], but what can I say, I like spoiling you. So today I've got another one for you, this time for Alice in Everville. But first up, a chat with the author, S.C. Langgle! Enjoy, and don't forget to enter the rafflecopter below (it's international!).
And if you haven't already, make sure you go enter to win A Shade of Vampire, and enter my big ole celebration giveaway!

Welcome, S.C.! Alice in Everville takes place over the span of just 1 day - how hard was it for you to fit everything into that day in a believable way?
Fitting the events of the book into a single day was actually not that difficult, because the idea came to me as this one-day journey that, while it may seem small on some levels, has many different layers of meaning. In some ways, the one-day constraint actually made this book easier to write, especially in terms of Alice’s character development. Throughout the book, Alice is trying to avoid thinking about certain issues and relationships, so whenever these thoughts or memories start to slip into her head, she finds a distraction to push them out again. A lot of this book involves looking at things in fleeting, sideways glimpses, the same way a poem might. I think this element of the writing might have been difficult to sustain over a longer period of time, but for this one-day journey, I thought it worked well as a way to evoke Alice’s mental state, and to lead both Alice and the reader toward unraveling her true mystery.

The story centers around the main character trying to decode a "secret message" from her favorite poet, "Sylvie Plate" - I assume there are bits of poetry through out (if not, we can tweak or skip this question as needed) - did you struggle at all with the poetic bits, finding the right tone, etc?
Absolutely, I struggled with pretty much everything! I wrote poems to fit an exact code based on the number of words per line, which was REALLY hard, and on top of that writing poetry is just hard, period! I also wanted to write poetry that evoked Sylvia Plath’s style and themes, without actually imitating her work, both because that would be trite and because I know my poetry could never come anywhere close to the quality of hers. (More on that below.) In addition, I wanted to make sure some of the themes and imagery of the poems related to other aspects of the novel, while at the same time keeping the poems somewhat abstract and without too much of a literal connection. So yes, it was a lot of work and a delicate balancing act!

And follow up to that, were you worried about the poetic aspects of the "Sylvie Plate" side of the book needing to live up to the obvious comparison to Sylvia Plath?
Again, absolutely! But I knew from the beginning there was no way I could write poems to equal Sylvia Plath’s, and I hoped people would enjoy my book regardless!

Now, let's play a little Quickfire round, shall we? =D

This or That:
Salty or Sweet?
Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunset—I am not a morning person!
Physical or electronic?
That’s a hard one. I really like having access to both.
Cake or Pie?
Cake, although I may have to make an exception for pumpkin pie [To this, Misty says Amen.]
Spring or Autumn?
There are many, many things I love about autumn, but I prefer warm weather so I’ll have to go with spring.

Random Would-You-Rathers:
Would you rather go back in time and meet your ancestors, or forward in time and meet your grandchildren?
I’d love to experience the past and meet my ancestors!

Would you rather only be able to read books you've already read, favorites included, or only ever read new books, and never get to reread favorites?
What a terrifying thought either way…I think I’d rather only be able to read new books, because I’m just too curious about what people are reading and writing now.

Would you rather have a personal chef or a chauffeur?
Since I don’t drive, I’d have to go with a chauffeur!

Gotta say, I agree with a number of those. Thanks for stopping by, S.C.! 

A poem can seem like a labyrinth, a maze of words you can lose yourself in. The key is to find a thread to hold on to, to guide you in your reading, to lead you into and out of a labyrinth of words…

Alice Little thinks she’s read every word the world-famous poet Sylvie Plate published before her untimely death…until she discovers a coded message hidden in Sylvie’s final collection of poems--a message that may explain the poet’s mysterious demise.

All she has to do is decipher the code and she knows she can convince her beloved English teacher, Miss A, that Sylvie’s message is real. Unfortunately, she only has one manic day at Everville Mall to do it. And between keeping track of her fountain-splashing, havoc-wreaking sister, finding a new copy of Sylvie’s poems, and…oh yeah…dealing with the blue-eyed, guitar-playing, majorly swoon-worthy Jaden Briar, who keeps popping up everywhere she goes, Alice wonders if she will ever finish deciphering in time.

Make sure to check out the other stops on the Alice in Everville tour!!

February 27 – Jennifer @ My Life With Books www.jenkjovus.com
February 28 – Misty @ The Book Rat  www.thebookrat.com
March 1 – Jessica @ www.booksatruestory.com
March 4 – Kathy @ I Am A Reader Not A Writer www.iamareader.com
March 5 - Penelope @ The Reading Fever www.thereadingfever.com
March 6  - Jamie @ Writers, Write, Right? www.jmanni32.blogspot.com
March 7 – Alexis @ The Book Hideaway www.thereadinghideaway.com
March 8 – Haley @  Life and Lies www.haleymathiot.blogspot.com
March 11 – Michelle @ Book Briefs www.bookbriefs.blogspot.com
March 12 – Author post @ http://www.sclanggle.blogspot.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author of Alice in Everville:
S.C. Langgle is a lifelong lover of words and stories who has never outgrown her preference for children’s and young adult literature. A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at the University of Southern California, S.C. is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. She currently lives in Hollywood, California, only a block from Marilyn Monroe’s handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, though she spends more time at home with her computer than mingling with celebrities. Luckily, she has her two adorable dogs—a Chihuahua, Chin-Mae, and a maltipoo, Sasha—to keep her company, and she’d choose them over a gaggle of Hollywood stars any day.
Find her on:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott 
Get It | Add It
Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian, 431 pages
Published February 8th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Whyyyyyyy is this review just now going up? I vlogged about it in DECEMBER. (Well, technically January, but it was my December Rewind). OH I REMEMBER. I was going to put my review of Pure up at the same time Fuse came out...which was last week. Thanks, Brain.

Alright, so: I was really pleasantly surprised by Pure. Not that I was expecting to be disappointed by it, but there's just been such a glut of dystopias and post-apocalyptics for the last few years, and I've learned not oto expect to much... (which is really hard, as it's my favorite genre and I can't help but add these books to my TBR - even when I have suspicions they're going to be crap.) But I've begun pretending to myself that I don't have high hopes anymore (lie), and as I had heard both really, really good and really not so good things about Pure before picking it up, I was curious how I would react to it. As it turns out, it very nearly made it into my top reads of 2012 chat, so clearly I needn't have worried.

I think the first thing that really impressed me about Pure is that Baggott analyzed things the way I do. The little, seemingly inconsequential bits of everyday life, and how those would change in a post-apocalyptic setting, generally go ignored in PA books, and this bothers me. It may sound like the most absurd, nit-picky thing ever, but I have been waiting for an author to think these tiny things through, and Baggot did. Silly little phrases we use now have lost meaning for the new generation in Pure, as they have no frame of reference. So, when an older character uses one of these phrases, the younger characters are puzzled by them, or flat-out just don't know what they mean. I'm really not exaggerating when I say I've been waiting for this. It's something I've always kind of focused in on with dystopian/post-apocalyptic books, and I can't help but be irritated when a character uses a really anachronistic phrase or word that just doesn't fit with what their world is now. Things should lose meaning. This is not our world. Sure, some phrases and words will stick around even when all context for them is gone (we have those types of phrases now); but at some point, people just aren't going to say things that make no sense in their world. Because Pure has an abrupt shift in world paradigm, it makes sense that the younger characters are going to be confused by phrases they no longer have a context for. Baggott points this out (subtly) and I could have cheered/cried with the at last-ness of it. It makes the world so much more believable in a really understated, logical way.

The other thing that impressed me is that this book is really weird. It's super dark and bleak. It's really, really bleak, and not like it's trying too hard to be dark, but just like it is. This world is dark, that's just the way it is. (I mean, it's post-apocalyptic, so...) And it is hella weird. If you haven't read the premise, basically the characters live in a world where, after a catastrophic event, survivors were molecularly fused with anything in too-close a proximity. Things become a part of you, you become a part of things. There's no way to fix it, no way to reverse it. One instant, you're you; the next, you're you plus the pretty little kitty cat you reached down to pet. This is your life now... The main character has a doll's head for a hand, and she can make its eyes blink. (shudder) There's a boy with birds wings flapping on his back. People fused to other people, people fused to animals. People fused to mothereffing dust, I kid you not. They're like a human sandstorm, and it is CREEPY. All of this takes a HUGE willing suspension of disbelief, of course, but  it is totally worth it if you're able to just go with it. All of this really dark, bleak weirdness made Pure unlike anything else I've read. It's inventive and unsettling, and I really have to hand it to Baggott that she was somehow able to make this work.

I did feel, though, that it falls apart a little at the end. Most of the book is very slow-burning and almost dense; it certainly wasn't something I flew through, even though I consistently enjoyed it. But at the end, when the giant human-dustball snowball's at its apex and about to come barrelling down on you, things sort of fall apart. Baggott just can't quite handle when the shit hits the fan, and things become a little bit muddled. Everything suddenly becomes too easy and happens way too fast, and there are too many characters and motivations and things in too short a span. The storytelling is a little overwhelmed by it all - which is especially jarring after this very slow-building, very not-easy story. Also, personally, I didn't need any little bit of romance in this, but alas... At least it wasn't too all-consuming. The story is still impressive, though, and I'll certainly be reading more of the series.Though it's a little too convenient in its "local" scope (everyone needed or important is pretty easily at-hand), it is very impressive in its story-scope and its bleakness. The far-reaching breadth of the story, the way Baggott touches on the factors of our society that led up to this cataclysmic event without being heavy handed or didactic, these things all really worked. Baggot doesn't beat the reader over the head with anything, but all of these little tidbits are there for readers who like to suss them out; they're just there, they just are, and I was really impressed by that. Highly recommended for those who are looking for something different and darker than what's generally found.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trailer: Mind Games by Kiersten White

HOT DAMN, I love a good book trailer!
Came across this one today, and as it's Kiersten White, it was already on my wishlist (of course). But because it was an auto-wishlister, I can't say that I've ever looked into what it was actually about... Now that I've seen it, I have to say, there is a lot of assassin-based stuff coming out lately. And I like it.

I love the voice-over and the intense, driving music. Definitely makes me even more eager to get my hands on this one.

What do you guys think?

MIND GAMES by Kiersten White
Get It | Add It
256 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by HarperTeen
Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Siege by Sarah Mussi

If I don't shout maybe I can save myself, save the rest of us. But I don't know how I can just look on and watch a murder. Can you do that? Can you look on and do nothing? It feels like I ought to do something. It feels like all of this was because we all just stood by and did nothing, in the before time, in the time when we had every flipping day to sort out all the Connors and all the Jases and all the Lucases ever born.

SIEGE by Sarah Mussi
Get It | Add It
400 pages
Expected publication: March 7th 2013 by Hodder Children's Books
Leah Jackson - in detention. Then armed Year 9s burst in, shooting. She escapes, just. But the new Lock Down system for keeping intruders out is now locking everyone in. She takes to the ceilings and air vents with another student, Anton, and manages to use her mobile to call out to the world.

First: survive the gang - the so-called 'Eternal Knights'.
Second: rescue other kids taken hostage, and one urgently needing medical help.

Outside, parents gather, the army want intelligence, television cameras roll, psychologists give opinions, sociologists rationalize, doctors advise - and they all want a piece of Leah. Soon her phone battery is running out; the SAS want her to reconnoiter the hostage area ... But she is guarding a terrifying conviction. Her brother, Connor, is at the center of this horror. Is he with the Eternal Knights or just a pawn?

She remembers. All those times Connor reached out for help ... If she'd listened, voiced her fears about him earlier, would things be different now? Should she give up her brother?

With only Anton for company, surviving by wits alone, Leah wrestles with the terrible choices ...

I went into this with some trepidation, because I think we'd all agree, this is a tricky subject to take on. To make this powerful and meaningful, to show the horror of the situation, but also any hope - slim hope, slim humanity - to avoid sensationalism and finger-pointing...it all just seemed like too much to ask.  And briefly in the beginning, I was worried that it was going to be too much to ask. But Mussi somehow pulls it off, despite all of the times it could have gone wrong. Siege is powerful and effecting and so very, very horrific, but I never felt like Mussi was just going for shock-value or trying to fulfill a quota on bleak atrocities.

But my god, her success with Siege makes this a hard review to write. When I finished the book - in the middle of the night, mind you - I wanted nothing more than to just get up and record a vlog for you guys, a sort of impressions video, 1/2 review, 1/2 discussion. Because frankly, I needed to talk it out. But as it was the middle of the night, and as I was essentially a shattered mess, that didn't seem like the best idea.  But now I'm stuck wondering how do I write about this? How do I discuss this without being raw, and without giving too much away?

What makes this book work so well is Leah Jackson, the smarter-and-braver-than-she-could-have-ever-realized main character.  The way the story is filtered through her experiences - who she  is, her need to help and fix and save and live - and her fear that her brother may somehow be involved, is what makes the story so powerful. Mussi evolves Leah's character very well throughout the story, from the beginning panic and confusion, through her disgust and her questioning and examining, and all of her realizations and revelations; Leah grows tremendously in a very condensed time frame, and the reader is led along at break-neck speed, thinking the same thoughts Leah does at the same time she thinks them.  Leah's adrenaline practically drips off the page. This is a visceral read; it gets you in the guts. My heart pounded - literally pounded - reading this. That just doesn't happen to me. I get butterflies when something is really good, yes, but heart-pounding, physical, nervous anxiety is a rare one for me. And of course the way I felt completely gutted in the end... there was that. All of this happens through Leah and her somewhat stream of consciousness narration, and it makes for a really compelling read.

But this is part of what will make it a very difficult book for some people to read. There is no break from Leah's voice, and she is in the thick of things right from the start. There are no little side jaunts with other characters, no forays into the outside world for reactions - nothing to give the reader a break from the relentless anxiety and stress that Leah is under, both physically and mentally. Leah witnesses a lot of things no one should have to witness, and is forced to contemplate things or act on things that no one should have to face. I wouldn't call Siege gratuitous, necessarily, and I don't think Mussi descended into sensationalism and useless violence, but she doesn't flinch away from the true horrors of a situation like this. But I think everything is done with an eye to being honest to the story and the situation, and (more importantly) to the whole of the situation, all of the little things that lead to something like this. Most readers will know within pages - if not even before they start the book - whether Siege is the right type of read for them, but for those that can handle it, I think they'll find it a really compelling read with a lot of fascinating gray area to explore. And I think they'll find it surprisingly - perhaps uncomfortably - relatable.

I will say, I was really, really leery of the use of government presence in this. There came a point early on where I started to have suspicions, and as I was slowly proven right, I kept asking myself whether this weakened the story or strengthened it. I don't want to give anything away, but there's an element of the Grand Government Conspiracy here, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it (sadly, scarily) is believable for the world that has been set up. Even more sad and scary, is that there are definitely people who believe these Grand Government Conspiracies are happening here and now in relation to shootings. Seriously. Google "Sandy Hook conspiracy theories" and you'll see what I mean.  So even though this particular instance is believable and works for the story, and even though it sort of parallels the way people search to impose meaning on senseless acts, I could never really decide if I felt it was a necessary element, and whether it added or detracted from the central issues of the story. It worked in the end, and maybe even won me over; I think Mussi certainly handled it better than many would. But I think there are readers who are going to find it one thing too much in a book that already begins as a struggle for some to read.

The only other thing I want to touch on - and that, only briefly - is the ending. I really can't say much because I don't want to give a single itty, bitty thing away, but I think some readers will be very bothered by at least one aspect of the ending - and really, there are a few to choose from. Personally, I was not bothered, and it's one of the things that had me sitting up late into the night, talking myself down from the book, and thinking that it would make for a really intriguing group or book club read. In some respects, I think things happened in the only way they really could, but at the same time, the end leaves so much to talk about and think over, and - if you're brave enough - feel, and after all the stress and tension of the book, these last few twists of the knife might be a bit too much for some readers. Personally, I think feeling it is good; being bothered by it is good. This is a book to be discussed, not reviewed.

[And I'm going to be completely honest with you and tell you that, not only did I have a really good cry when I finished (an interesting book-cry, not just sad, but sort of drained and hollowed out), but I also teared up a few times writing this review, as it all came back to me. It's not just the things that happen in the book, but the way Mussi makes you feel, and the way a story like this - at least for me, an American woman who hears about these things far too often, and who for a long time intended to be a teacher - really hits home.]

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Face Off: Fury & Envy

Because it's impossible (apparently) to finish a series out on one unified cover theme, this week's Face Off features Elizabeth Miles' Fury trilogy, which got a mid-stream cover switch. The original covers: wild, evocative and memorable, IMO. The new covers: a bland Stepford Wives-meets-Lauren Oliver's Delirium cover-redos mash-up.
Not that I'm trying to bias you or anything.
But the publishers must like the new covers more, or they must be selling better, because the third book doesn't even have another option.  Both versions have pretty fonts, though...
So, which would you reach for? Would you pick either of these up to see what they were about, based on cover appeal?
Which one did it better? 

original covers
new covers

Last Week on FFO: The original US cover of Rachel Hartman's (epic, amazing) Seraphina went up against the colorful, updated (snazzy new award-medaled) version, and though some loved the purple pop, and everybody agreed that the font on the updated version is just fantastic, the old version won out in the end.
Winner -------> (but you really can't go wrong either way...)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The EPIC Quarter-Mill Giveaway!!!

No books were harmed
in the making of this gif

Soooo...if you follow me on youtube, you'll know I recently hit 4,000 subscribers there (woot!) and I've been waiting to hit 250,000 views to have a little celebration - and that time has come.

Watch the video below to see what I'm talking about (and hello there, if you clicked over from youtube!), and check out the books and rules below.

Then enter to win!!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (ARC)
Steel by Carrie Vaughn (hardcover)
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (ARC)
Fallen by Lauren Kate (paperback)
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrand (ARC)
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (ARC)
The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (ARC)
The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor (hardcover)
The Night Has Teeth by Kat Kruger (paperback)
Shift by Rachel Vincent (paperback)
How to Take the Ex out of Ex-Boyfriend by Janette Rallison (hardcover)
Soulless by Christopher Golden (paperback)
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Manifest by Artist Arthur (ARC)
Witch Song by Amber Argyle (ARC)
Belles by Jen Calonita (hardcover)
Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (paperback)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (paperback)
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen (hardcover)
SETS (must be taken as a set, if chosen)
Books 1 & 2 in the Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente:  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland... (paperback) & The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland... (harcover) counts as 2 choices
Books 1-3 in the House of Night series by PC & Kristin Cast (all paperback) Marked | Betrayed | Chosen counts as 3 choices
Books 1 & 2 in the Fenestra series by Amber Kizer: Meridian (hardcover) & Wildcat Fireflies (ARC) counts as 2 choices
plus swag!!

Potential prizes and potential swagness!


  • One winner will receive a box of books, including but not limited to 10 (ten) books chosen from the list above, if the winner is from the US.    If the winner is an international entrant, they will have the choice to pay the excess shipping to their country on the box of books, OR receive an alternate prize, chosen by me and shipped from Better World Books.
  • You do NOT have to decide your prize selection until you win. (Take your time; think it over!)
  • Open INTERNATIONALLY, where ever USPS or Better World Books ships. Winner must provide a valid, non-PO Box mailing address within 48 hours, or a new winner will be chosen. (UPDATE: Sorry, I've had issues with PO Boxes in the past. You can still enter, but if I ship to you & it comes back, I'm not paying for shipping a 2nd time!)
  • Must be legal age to enter sweepstakes for your area, or have permission.
  • Prizes subject to change based on whether they fit in the box, or any unforeseen circumstances. aka Shit happens.
  • Invalid entries will be deleted & entrants disqualified   Anyone caught trying to cheat will be barred from future giveaways.  aka cheaters never prosper, yo!
  • Neither myself, Rafflecopter, Blogger or Youtube are responsible for prizes lost or damaged during shipping.
  • The only valid forms of entering are listed in the Rafflecopter; where an entry asks you to leave a comment, do not leave sensitive info (like an email or address) along with the comment. It WILL be deleted, and the entry invalidated.
  • Ends March 5th, 2013 at midnight, EST.
A NOTE TO THOSE WHO'VE NEVER USED RAFFLECOPTER: You don't have to do every entry. Aside from the 2 easy required ones (the ones that let me know where you're from), the rest are completely optional! So don't feel pressured to do every single thing.
And no, you do not have to be a follower. Bonus if you are, but it is NOT required!! =D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Giveaway & Excerpt: A Shade of Vampire

...I've been a little off the grid lately, haven't I? I mean, I pop in, yes, but Fairy Tale Fortnight has taken over my brain, and I haven't been giving you the attention you deserve.
To make up for that, today I have a a giveaway for you! It comes from author Bella Forrest, and it's a signed copy of her novel, A SHADE OF VAMPIRE. But more on that below. First up, I've got an excerpt to share with you!

I’d been meandering along the shore for about an hour when I suddenly sensed that I wasn’t alone. Someone was approaching me from behind. My heart leapt. I was so sure it was Ben, that when a stranger showed up beside me, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.
He must have noticed, because a smirk formed on his lips. “Were you expecting someone else, love?”
I eyed him suspiciously, remembering how many times my father had told me not to talk to strangers. I looked him over, taking in his appearance. My eyes widened. I couldn’t find words to describe how fine a man he was. He was almost beautiful. The first thing I took notice of was how his blue eyes were about three shades brighter than any I’d ever seen before. It was such a stark contrast to his pale – almost white – skin and dark hair. Standing beside me, he was easily more than half a foot taller. His height, broad shoulders and lean build reminded me of Ben, but he had a presence that was far more imposing than my best friend’s.
My gaze settled on his face.
I realized that he was inspecting me just as closely as I was him. His eyes on me suddenly made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I gave my father’s advice a second thought, but quickly canceled out all notions of heeding to his counsel when I reminded myself that he stopped caring a long time ago.
I straightened to my full height and mustered all the courage I had to keep myself from running away from this stranger.
Big mistake.
The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment.
“Like what you see?”
“A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?” I scoffed, annoyed by his audacity.
He stepped forward, closer to me, and leaned his head toward mine.
“Don’t I have the right to be?”
He knew he looked good and wasn’t about to act like he didn’t.
“Whatever,” was my oh-so-brilliant comeback.
My shoulders sagged with defeat as I took a step back, unsettled by how close he was now. I rolled my eyes and did a one-eighty, not quite in the mood to play whatever game this stranger was proposing.
I would soon realize that I was about to play his game whether I liked it or not.
He grabbed my arm and turned my body to face him. This motion alone made every single internal alarm I had within me go off in a frenzy.
This man was danger and I knew it. I tried to wriggle away from his touch, but I was no match for his strength.
“Tell me your name,” he commanded.
I was about to refuse, but was horrified to find myself blurting out my name in response.
“Sofia Claremont.”
As soon as I revealed my name, his eyes lit up with a kind of sinister approval. Then he reached for my face and traced his thumb over my jaw line.
“Hello, Sofia Claremont. You’re one stupid girl for taking a walk alone at this time of night. You never know what kind of evil a pretty little thing like you could happen to come by.”
I found myself wondering exactly what kind of evil he was. But I was suddenly overcome by the sensations that were surrounding me. My senses took in everything at once. I heard the waves, felt the sand, smelled the ocean salt, tasted the flavor of cherry and saw the stranger’s manic appearance as he stuck a needle to my neck. The effect was instant. I was barely able to gasp, much less scream. I went from sensing everything to sensing absolutely nothing.
My last conscious thought was that I may never see Ben again.

I have one signed, paperback copy of A Shade of Vampire, to give away to one lucky winner. This giveaway IS international, and ends on March 5th, 2013.  Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter (full Terms and Regulations can be found in the form).
Good luck!!

Want more of a taste of A Shade of Vampire? Check out this extended sneak peek!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.

Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Film Review: Beautiful Creatures

I always intend to review book-based movies after seeing them (to the point that, on the way home from the movie, I'm drafting the review in my head, and all the clever* things I'm going to say...), but I never seem to sit down and actually write them.
Well, enough of that.
The very best Evie I know (aka my bestie) and I were each other's Vday dates for a matinee of Beautiful Creatures, and this time, you guys are gonna hear about it.

Okay, so I can't speak to accuracy from the text because I sort of haven't read it yet. I mean, I own it and was going to before seeing the movie, but then I realized that was just setting it up for failure. When does the movie ever live up? A: it doesn't. That just doesn't happen. And this would be doubly true if I were to read the book right before the movie, and then suffer through all the glaringly obvious differences or mistakes, etc. I mean, that way lies dissatisfaction, so I decided to hold off on reading the book so I could go into the movie unbiased.  So if you're a diehard fan of the book series, I'm sorry, I can't tell you how it measures up. But if you're not a fan, or you haven't read it yet, or you haven't even wanted to, then perfect! This review is aimed at you, because I'm approaching it solely on its success as a movie.

So, the story is of a teen named Ethan in a narrow-minded small-town in the South, when behold! a wild teen witch oops not that one...or that one "caster" appears and hijinks ensue. But not so lighthearted, you know. Angst, people, we're talking teen angst!

As far as it goes, the story is solid enough, (predictable, of course, but when aren't these things?); the timeline, though, is a little too compressed. Things happen very quickly, and the passing of days is shown mostly through a flip-calendar style tattoo, so some of the depth or slow-build I would have liked is kinda non-existent. At one point, almost a month had passed and I thought it was the next morning until 1/2 through the scene. But for all that, once your mind plays catch up with the characters, the story is solid enough to be enjoyable and tick all the teen romance/paranormal/Southern gothic boxes.

I mean... its got Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson in it. And Viola Davis. And Emmy Rossum. And Eileen Atkins. And the kid who played Cassidy Beaver Casablancas.
Beaver! You've grown up
...and joined Flock of Seagulls?

I'm not gonna lie when I say it was the casting that convinced me to see this movie. Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson. I figured, with those two in the movie, it's gotta be good, right?  Well, yes and no. Jeremy Irons is Jeremy freaking Irons fantastic, but Emma Thompson is (surprisingly) off on occasion. Though I think it's an intentional, loose-cannon kind of off, and for the most part I liked it.
Viola Davis & Emmy Rossum are solid; Eileen Atkins has a more bit part, but she has lavender hair, so...she wins.**

But the stars of the show are Lena and Ethan, and they're probably who you really want to hear about. Relative newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert have the job of carrying most of the movie, and for the most part, do a good job. Alden-as-Ethan was unbelievably adorkable. For serious cutes, and it is worth it for his performance alone, I'd say. Lena says something along the lines of Ethan not being able to stop himself from drooling charm, and I think Alden absolutely got that right.  I'm a little more lukewarm on Englert, who won me over much of the time, but occasionally was a little too angsty for my tastes. And her sort of pan-Southern accent wavered (as did a number of the non-Southern castmates), and I found that distracting.  But overall, the chemisty between the two is believable and the cast worth it.

This is where the movie shines.
If it isn't clear already from the way I organize my books or this month's Book Chat, I'm a visual person. The look of a movie - both in cinematography and costuming - can win me over when I'm otherwise not sold (and is in fact the reason I've come to love the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, which I originally found horribly disappointing...).

Now, the special effects were by turns awesome and atrocious. They waffled from Ooh, that was cool! to, really? is this a syfy channel B movie? I mean, it's not like seeing-the-strings bad, but sometimes it was just a bit...off. I think the good times outweighed the bad, though, and I liked the special effects in the end.

But the rest of the look. Oh man. The sets, especially the ever-changing interior of Ravenwood Manor, were packed with visual interestingness.  At one point, Evie looked at me and said she wanted to decorate a room in her house like a room in the movie.  It may have been a completely impractical house/set design, but it was prettttty and packed a punch.

But the costumes! THE COSTUMES! Oh, the wardrobe department had a field day, and I would rewatch it just to get a better look at all of that. There's a real artistic vision guiding the costume and set design choices in the movie - and the way they worked together/played off each other - and the movie is enjoyable for that alone.

Emmy Rossum gets to wear all teh things

Similar to the special fx, the scoring was by turns fabulous and jarring. Personally, I really liked it nearly all the time, but I think the scoring and  music choices will either make people fall in love or drive them completely away, according to personal tastes. Generally, the score is something you don't really notice - it's in the background, and you think of it only after the fact, or when it's obtrusive. But I think everyone will notice the scoring of this - and for some, that will jar them out of the story. Others - like myself - will think, Oooh, I like how that compliments this scene, or Ohhh, that's pretty/neat/ominous...

So for me this is a win, and I'd actually like to look into the score more, but I think for others, this will be a complete fail, just for how strong a part of the movie it is. This is not subtle background music...

It's a teen supernatural romance. There's angst. There's insta-love. There's dark, gloomy, smolderingness. This one's down to tastes, and I'll watch and love a lot of things in a movie that I'd never tolerate in books, so for me, it works. These are fun bits of escapism, and I think this one does it better than most.

As I said, I can't speak to the accuracy compared to the book, but as a movie it really worked for me, and I hope they make the entire series and don't just peter out like a lot of book-movie franchises do.

* I'm very modest.

**Note to self, must have lavender old lady hair when am old lady.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Face Off: Seraphina

Earlier today, when I was gathering links for the books mentioned in this month's Book Chat on covers, I noticed a cover switch-up for one of the books I talked about today, Rachel Hartman's (glorious, amazing) Seraphina. Three things happened: 1) I realized this would make a good Face Off; 2) I realized that I hadn't posted today's Face Off, because it is, in fact, Friday; and 3) I became a bit puzzled, because according to Goodreads this version doesn't exist (it does).
We've actually had Seraphina on Face Off before, when the US (below) went up against the UK version (where the US won in a landslide, and deservedly so, just look at that woodcut!!).  But today, we're going with a more subtle - but definitely interesting - pairing. The newer version, proudly displaying its William C. Morris Debut medal, keeps the gorgeous woodcut of the original; in fact, it keeps everything about the original, but goes for a color pop instead of subtlety, and a slight font variation. The dragon's really in the details on this one, guys (see what I did there? ;P), so I'm curious to see which you would rather have on your shelves. [And you should have this on your shelves. For reals.] So.
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  The cover redesign for Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star was up for debate, and voting was pretty split. Some of you found the new cover too muted and boring, and the font obnoxious, and some of you found the old cover to be cheesy, too photoshopped, and not an accurate representation of the book. In the end, though, there can only be one winner, and the redesign just barely - just barely - managed a win.
WINNER -------------->

Book Chat: Caving In To Covers

This month we're chatting about giving in to the pretty covers - we're told not to judge a book by its cover when the cover's not a great one, but we don't bat an eye at falling for the good ones...

If you want to join in on this month's chat, add your video as a response in the comments on youtube, and/or link up your vlog or blog posts below!

Die for Me: http://amzn.to/RUgsgq
Shattered Souls: http://amzn.to/12RUQZU
Shadowlands: http://amzn.to/14BUPIW
Sweetly: http://amzn.to/T7cUWm
Fathomless: http://amzn.to/NEdjDs
Sweet Venom: http://amzn.to/XDWGG1
Fallen Grace: http://amzn.to/XL7mqk
Soulless: http://amzn.to/YdoiBU
Etiquette & Espionage: http://amzn.to/WWNhet
Wither: http://amzn.to/RYEYxZ
Dearly Departed: http://amzn.to/RKaq0V
Of Bees & Mist: http://amzn.to/RvJ3uj
Shine: http://amzn.to/Wb0V03
Seraphina: http://amzn.to/M7S6uq
Tender Morsels: http://amzn.to/Wk6CIM
Horns & Wrinkles: http://amzn.to/Z4beFz
The Princess Curse: http://amzn.to/QALWEB
So Silver Bright: http://amzn.to/12qlOrx
The Humming Room: http://amzn.to/TYHBlC
Perchance to Dream: http://amzn.to/Uom6vu
The Kneebone Boy: http://amzn.to/15iBVqN
The Girl Who Could Fly: http://amzn.to/12qlitR
Stormdancer: http://amzn.to/LcYDnC
Entwined: http://amzn.to/14DZDxi
Burn Bright: http://amzn.to/VnmtIm

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Haul: 2/13/13 + new hair!

I've had these kinda accumulating for awhile now, so I thought I'd better share them so I can begin putting them away (ish - it's not like they really have anywhere to go...)
Also - OMG THANK YOU GUYS. For reals. More on that in the video. =D

The Handbook for Dragon Slayers: http://amzn.to/YeeIAI
Strands of Bronze & Gold: http://amzn.to/11ub32g
Fractured: http://amzn.to/VVgbdO
The Secret of Ella & Micah: http://amzn.to/12hnnId
Shadowlands: http://amzn.to/14BUPIW
Epic Fail: http://amzn.to/WFqS7l
[looks like the bargain bin copies are gone. =( But as of the day I'm posting, the ecopies are still on sale! (that's the link above)]
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen: http://amzn.to/VBjpVi
Jerusalem: http://amzn.to/11pBPNT
Hiding in Sunshine: http://amzn.to/WnnblG
(from influenster.com)
Scarlet goodies! 
The Princess Curse: http://amzn.to/XWZqyW
Slated: http://amzn.to/Yeh0zP

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bookshelf Tour: GREEN #1 (shelf x shelf tour)

Welcome to the 5th installment of my Shelf x Shelf bookshelf tour! You're watching the long version, but if you don't want to listen to me prattle for 12 minutes, the short version will be up soon. If you'd like to see the rest of the tour so far, the entire playlist can be found here.

And in OTHER AWESOME NEWS, I finally linked my account entirely with my blog (thanks, teh youtubes), so if I say I've reviewed a book, there will be a link right there, LIKE MAGIC, that will take you to the review! (Organizer-Misty says YAY!)

Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castelucci
Lies by Micheal Grant
Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales by the Bros Grimm, obvs
Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill
StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Little Children by Tom Perrotta
Shine by Lauren Myracle
The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
Spellfall by Katherine Roberts
Cross My Heart & Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
What I Was by Meg Rosoff
Sovay by Celia Rees
Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
Crewel by Ginnifer Albin
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Peter Pan by JM Barrie

Witch by Christopher Pike
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe by obvs...
Tempest's Legacy by Nicole Peeler
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

Saturday, February 9, 2013

So, I had this idea...

I should probably be writing a review right now, but:

When I'm bored, I make things.* Mostly cards or bookmarks, sometimes jewelry, just whatever. And I would like to randomly surprise people with these things.  This thought, combined with the fact that I want to make this a year of random acts of kindness (and hopefully, make it not just a year, but a habit), has led me to the idea that I'd like to give some of these things to you.
As a surprise.
Nothing big or extravagant, just a little something to brighten your day.
Because we all like getting mail that isn't bills.
And 'cause I'm warm and fuzzy and shit and I like you.

SO BASICALLY if you would like to maybe, sometime, receive a card or a post card or a bookmark, or whatever the hell I decide to send, AND if you live in the US,** AND you are comfortable giving a stranger on the internet (me, a lovely, non-psychotic stranger) your mailing address, then please do! I want to have a list of people that I can work my way through when I'm feeling all random act-y.

No catch.
No strings attached.
No expectation of something in return.
I will never share these, and will delete them at your request, no questions asked.

This is just something I've been wanting to do for awhile, and I figured, well, why the hell not, right?

PLEASE DO NOT, for the love of cheesus, leave any sensitive info in the comments! Seriously, I will delete.

*Or cut my hair, as this weekend proved. Twice.
** International peoples, you CAN give me your address, too. I just don't know if/how/when I will be able to send something to you, but I don't want to leave you out entirely. But shipping is 'spensive!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Face Off: The Name of the Star

I'm sure you guys may have noticed that Maureen Johnson's Shades of London series (ie The Name of the Star, etc), have been revamped. The second book, The Madness Underneath, is about to be released, and gone is the lurking Jack the Ripper, Victorian ghost story-ish feel. There is still some misty* ghostiness, but otherwise, the covers have very little in common. Of course, we all hate when a series changes covers midstream (now they'll never match, dammit!), but all the same - anyone a fan of the new versions? Check both out below and let me know in the comments what you think. Which one would catch your eye?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO:  The Us and UK versions of Leila Rasheed's Cinders & Sapphires (or Secrets & Sapphires, depending) went head to head, whisper to whisper, in what was a much closer match than I'd anticipated. But in the end, Cinders conveyed the time period better, and pulled off the win.
Winner ----------->

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Deportment & Disguises" ~ Interview with Gail Carriger + Giveaway!! (Etiquette & Espionage Blog Tour)

Today I have the enormous pleasure of interviewing Gail Carriger for her YA debut, Etiquette & Espionage! If you've been following me for awhile, you probably know I was a big fan of her adult series,  The Parasol Protectorate, so of course I was eager to see what she was give us when she tried her hand at YA.  You can check out what I thought of Etiquette & Espionage here, but before you go, enjoy this fun little interview I did with Gail on the topic of DEPORTMENT & DISGUISES, and then enter to win a copy of Etiquette & Espionage below!

And now, on to the business of 

The business of espionage and "finishing" can sometimes be rather uncouth; what tips should a lady always follow to conduct herself appropriately while "on the job"?

Good posture is a must, and perfume just strong enough to confuse supernatural senses. Lastly, a lady should never forget her sewing scissors, handkerchief and small vile of poison—best to be prepared.

What must a lady never do, even in the hairiest of situations? [Note: this is not a *polite cough* subtle allusion to werewolf relations, nor particularly unflattering coiffures. Though if that is where your answer goes... ;) ]

Dance with a gentleman more than twice, show her neck to a vampire without proper introduction, or faint without purpose and intent.

The Dos and Don'ts of Disguises: What rules or guidelines should a lately always follow in donning a disguise?

Consider hair in all things­–mustaches, for example, should be treated gently. No one likes looking at the underclass, the ugly, or the uncouth, so when in doubt, don all three. Also, consider the opposite direction—aristocratic children, for example, can be both unseen and unheard.

A lady should always be ready for anything that comes her way at the drop of a hat (god forbid one were to drop it, that is); what are the most useful items to have on-hand to design a disguise on the fly?

Hair ribbons, sap paste, and smelling salts.

Aside from the obvious lack of sexytimes, how did you find yourself changing or adapting your writing for a YA audience?

I worked to create a more youthful and accessible voice, and characters that would grow and change with the books. Sophronia has a different worldview than Alexia. She's private, introverted and must become self-actualized along the way by making new friends and discoveries. Her focus is on her immediate environment, which is less political and more personal.

Want more Etiquette & Espionage? Check out the book's dedicated (and quite snazzy) tumblr, or catch Gail "Live at the Lounge" via this cool video chat on February 12th!

Thanks to the awesome folks at Little, Brown, I have an Etiquette & Espionage prize pack, including E&E buttons and a finished copy of the book, to give to one lucky winner! US only, ends February 12, 2013 at 12am EST. Full terms in the Rafflecopter below. 
Good luck!!

Make sure to check out the other great stops on the tour!
2/4: Forever Young Adult
2/5: The Book Rat - you are here! Awesome!
2/6: Alice Marvels
2/7: Supernatural Snark
2/8: Mundie Moms

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Get It | Add It
Steampunk/Fantasy, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown BYR
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (blog tour)

"[Is] that wise? Having a mess of seedling evil geniuses falling in love with you willy-nilly? What if they feel spurned?"
"Ah, but in the interim, think of the lovely gifts they can make you. Monique bragged that one of her boys made her silver and wood hair sticks as anti-supernatural weapons. With amethyst inlay. And another made her an exploding wicker chicken."
"Goodness, what's that for?"
Dimity pursed her lips. "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?"

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Get It | Add It
Steampunk/Fantasy, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 5th 2013 by Little, Brown BYR
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

I have to say, I was equal parts excited and trepidatious* when my fave awesome person at Little, Brown asked me if I wanted to be part of the blog tour for this. I loved Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, but was concerned about how she would make the transition to YA, especially after my friend Elizabeth's reaction... That gave me pause. FORTUNATELY, I have to (politely, maybe) disagree with E. on this one. Yes, it was a little heavy handed at first, and was missing some of the magic that came with Alexia's narration and her fabulous personality - but it worked, and in the end I quite liked it.

I'm a pretty firm believer that you don't have to change your style/writing much (if at all) when you change age levels - there's no need to "write down" to kids (especially in this case, as the Parasol Protectorate series was a highly popular cross-over - Pretty much remove the steamy Victorian sexytimes and you're good to go).  But the beginning of the book seemed like Carriger was going to write down to her audience and point things out in a really obtrusive way (as if they couldn't possibly put things together all on their own...), and that has got to be my number one I-will-throw-you-against-the-wall-you-just-see-if-I-don't pet peeve. Even as a kid, I found it highly insulting; you've got to have faith in your audience, and faith in yourself as a storyteller that you're doing fine - you don't have to handhold, and if you do feel the need to, you're not telling it right.   But either the handholding was just a brief blip, or I got used to it, because the rest of the book slipped into the quirky, upper-crusty, hilariously Missish storytelling I'd grown to love in the Parasol Protectorate.

Etiquette & Espionage - much like the PP series, or Sorcery & Cecelia, and others of its kind - thrusts readers into a strange** world, very like ours and yet decidedly not, and then relies on an irrepressible but pragmatic narrator to guide the ship*** and draw readers along on a whisper of curiosity and charm. After Elizabeth's unfavorable reaction, I did something I generally don't do, which is look into reviews of a book right before I'm set to read it. (I don't want to be biased, so I typically avoid them - but I had to know if it was going to be a dud! I needed to brace myself if that was the case...) One of the complaints I saw most about this book was about the characters, actually - a lack of connection to them, a dislike for them, etc. And though I can see a tendency toward stockness about them, I didn't ever find myself disliking them - especially Sophronia and some of her more unlikely companions.  I loved her fearlessness-bordering-on-recklessness quite a bit, and her intelligence and composure, and I think she'd keep me entertained over the course of a series by dint of that alone. But beyond that, I found that the characters manage to be both well-suited to their AU Victorian England and to a modern audience looking for characters a little less demure and a little more spirited, and that's really all I could ask of them. I was curious, and I was charmed.

Etiquette & Espionage turned out to be a very fun, very YA-appropriate expansion of Carriger's world. Set earlier than PP, there are all sorts of little easter eggs for readers already familiar with the world (traditions, characters at a younger age, or before big events, etc.), which made it fun on a level that works without being obtrusive - readers who aren't familiar with the world won't feel confused or like they're missing anything, but will have bits of handy background should they choose to move on to the other series.  The world of Carriger's steampunky England is expanded in some ways by this spin-off, though I think for the most part, as it largely takes place in such a very insular location (a boarding school on a dirigible, for realsies), some readers may feel the lack of variation and be disappointed. Personally, I liked being able to explore a more confined world in depth, and on the few instances when they went offship, plenty of hijinks ensued to balance it out. Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality was a good starting point, not overwhelming the reader with the alternate universe, but providing a good foundation for it. And while I'm not panting for the next books, as I was with the first few of the Protectorate, I look forward to seeing where the world expands from Mlle. Geraldine's over the course of the series.

* Spellcheck needs to stop telling me "trepidatious" isn't a word. If the OED says it is, then it is.
**Both from a historical and a contemporary point of view
***I'mma just go ahead and mix all the metaphors I can, mmmkay?
[Please note: the opening quote is from the ARC of Etiquette & Espionage, and as such may be different in the finished version - or not there at all. Though I hope that isn't the case, as it tickled me immensely.]

Make sure you check out my awesome interview with Gail & enter to win a copy of Etiquette & Espionage here!!

Before I let you go, please to enjoy TEH TRAILER:


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