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Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Face Off: Glow & Spark

This week's Face Off is kind of an interesting one, because there's not a lot of consistency across the covers of Amy Kathleen Ryan's Sky Chasers series. In the first row, we have the original US versions - and to be honest, I'm not sure that the cover shown for Spark every actually made it onto a copy - setting aside the fact that it looks like it says "Spork," the series changed art directions pretty early on.
Which leads us to row 2, where we have the current US design for the series (and it's assumedly one that will continue on, though the cover for the 3rd installment hasn't been revealed yet, so...). Below that, the version of Glow, which for some reason reminds me a lot of Beth Revis' Across the Universe - which itself has undergone numerous reworkings. Though the tagline kills me, I am sorta, kinda in love with the little details, like the nimbus of some star or planet on the O.
They all give off different vibes, and I quite like all of them, if I'm honest. Well, maybe not "Spork*"...  I'm definitely curious what you guys think of the continuous changes, and which you'd rather have on your shelves. So,
Which one did it better?

* I'm wondering if that's a fan-made cover that was uploaded to Goodreads, tbh...

On the last FFO: The recently released covers for Jay Kristoff's Kinslayer went head to head, and while the  opinions on its predecessor, Stormdancer, were more split, we all generally found the UK/AUS cover to be a little insipid and just not quite there this time around (whereas Jason Chan's artwork is as fab as ever); the US version won in a rare unanimous decision.

Winner ---------->

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lightning Rider Blog Tour: Guest Post from author Jen Greyson!

Today, the lovely Jen Greyson, author of Lightning Rider, stops by to chat about her exciting travels...via the pen. (Or keyboard. Modern Age, and all that.)
Check it out below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments! Where does your favorite book-escape lead to?

A huge thank you to Misty here at The Book Rat for having me over.

Reading is Cheaper Than a Plane Ticket

I love to travel. I’m not even picky; a scenic route home from the grocery store is sometimes enough to get my fix. When I read, I tend toward books that aren’t set on this planet, let alone Utah. And I’m a total sucker for books set in the past (and occasionally the future).

Books are such amazing portals of transportation. Within seconds I’m transported somewhere amazing and experiencing a new and exciting (and sometimes terrifying) place.

With my love of travel, it came as no surprise that my characters in my new novel, Lightning Rider, had no desire to stay in Utah. Within a day, Evy was off to ancient Spain, and I was scrambling to discover and research everything I could about life in 143 BC Spain.

See, I’m a complete panster, and have no idea how my stories are going to turn out (to me plotting feels like reading the last page of a new book). There’s nothing more amazing than writing away and realizing what’s about to happen a split second before my character dives into ancient Spain. It’s exciting and fantastical and filled with wonder. I get torn between branching off to research what they ate for breakfast in ancient Spain, or racing after my character to see what she’s up to next. Usually I just leave a blank and research it later, but sometimes I do put the story on hold so I can get a grip on the characters who are in the foreign land.

There is so much discovery in each new book I write. It’s every bit as exciting to write a new book as it is to bring home one written by someone else. Sure, there are the usual travel quibbles: lost luggage that resembles a deadline, a delayed flight that looks like the fifth round of edits, but in the end it’s all worth it. The memories and “friends” I make along the way are experiences I wouldn’t trade. There’s something so magical about visiting somewhere I’ve never been before, and since I’ll be hard pressed to visit every spot on my bucket list, I’m glad I can enjoy some of them through books.

What about you? What’s your favorite place/time you’ve visited in a book? Did you experience it so thoroughly you don’t need to go there in real life (if that’s possible) or did the story make you want to visit even more?

While I’ll never make it to ancient Spain, the current version got bumped pretty high on my list of places to see.

Another big thanks to Misty for having me come ramble about my favorite mode of transportation.

Jen Greyson, y'all.
Who else is jealous of her hair?
*raises hand*
About Jen:
From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk- takers.

Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile. Her new adult fantasy, Lightning Rider, comes out May 31 and features a Latina heroine with some serious superpowers.

You can find Jen here:
Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog

About Lightning Rider:
Heiress to a time-traveling dynasty, Evy Rivera is finally claiming her birthright as a lightning rider. Problem is, she’s forced to learn it alongside Constantine, a prickly, obstinate Roman warrior who constantly challenges her to be the woman he sees in her.

Thrown back into ancient Spain, Evy must rely on guts and instinct to wield her lightning as a weapon and outsmart Ilif, her quasi-mentor who believes time traveling should be left to the Rivera men.

During her training, Evy and Constantine battle the push-pull of their explosive relationship, aware the 2,000-year span between their lives is an unavoidable hurdle.

Caught between a centuries-old battle rife with secrets, Evy must learn whom to trust before she risks everything and the wrong history repeats itself. When the heritage her parents have suppressed mingles with the past, Evy must find answers . . .

Which history is the right one? And who is she becoming?


Available for pre-order on Kobo (for all devices) and iTunes, everywhere on May 31, 2014



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

April Book Haul, part 2

So... this is the rest of the stack of books I got in April, and man, this video has been much-delayed. I've had it recorded since early, early May, and it's just been sitting around, waiting for me to have time... Anywho, here's what I got, let me know what you think, etc., etc.

The Savage Blue | Zoraida Córdova
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong | Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks
Sweep, vol. 1 | Cate Tiernan
The Unnaturalists | Tiffany Trent
There Is No Dog | Meg Rosoff
Forgiven | Jana Oliver
Slide | Jill Hathaway

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
Get It | Add It
Middle Grade/Aventure/Fairy Tale Retelling, 496 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Walden Pond Press
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.

While I enjoyed the first book in Christopher Healy's take on fairy tale princes, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, when I read it last year, I said at the time that I wasn't sure if I was quite in the right frame of mind for it. Now, having read its sequel, The Hero's Guide to Storming The Castle, I think it was definitely my frame of mind - I noticed a lot of the same things in both books, but the things that bothered me then didn't really bother me now. As much as I liked the first book, I liked this second book more. There were still times when it felt a little long-ish for me, and times when all the non-stop jokes and zaniness felt like too much - but whether it was that I was in the right mood for it this time around or whether it just worked better, I didn't find the too-muchness of it to be too much this time around. If that makes any little bit of sense... On the whole, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Storming the Castle.

I mean, the humor was pretty fantastic. There are lots and lots of layers to the styles of jokes - combined with the fact that there are about a million jokes per page - so that there's something for all age groups to laugh about. Middle Graders reading this on their own may laugh at different things than parents or teachers reading it aloud to them, but they're all going to laugh, and probably pretty continuously. [And on that topic, I think this would be a fantastic read-aloud book; from the different characters and their over the top antics, to the more subtle or just plain silly jokes, there's a lot of material here to keep a room full of potentially wandering minds engaged and amused.] On top of the usual zaniness that comes with these oddball princes, there's an element of the classic heist storyline, and it is just such a fun aspect layered on. It allows some familiar faces to return in fun ways, and provides for plenty of hijinks. It's some of the best, most kid-friendly humor I've read in awhile, and it works in these really silly, carefree, genius ways (like the bandit king and his childlike take on being a tyrant, candy torture chambers and all...) I found myself tabbing a lot of sections, or having the urge to share quotes on Twitter or Goodreads. Just good old fashioned silliness.

Speaking of, I was really pleased to see some old favorites back  [Bandit King! Troll!], and to see how the various princes and princesses have begun to grow and change (including one of my favorite characters, Briar Rose, whose rap sheet I featured for the blog tour). I'm still waiting to see some of the pairings between prince and princess get switched up (or if not, to see how they come together in their more traditional ways, if that's what's going to happen). It's fun to see how they interact with each other, and I want to see how it all plays out, and how - if?! - they all get their Happily Ever Afters... Either way, it's great to watch these characters grow - which they did a tremendous amount of this time around.

Now as I said, it can still feel long at times, and also like there was just too much going on - I'm not sure that every last incident was necessary.  There were one or two times I caught myself thinking, 'Man, this is a long book,' but then I'd look up to realize 100 pages had passed in the blink of an eye - so, yes,  it's long, but you still fly through it.  And with so many characters to juggle, Healy did a really good job and managed to find time for the growth and development of most of his characters.  There is potential in the series, I think, to focus on a character or 2 at a time, and  adult-me would really like to see that, actually. But that's not the most Middle Grade approach to this type of story, so I have a feeling each book will always be a throw it all in, Monty Python sketch. And you know what? That works, too. Probably more so for its target MG audience. And I think it is a worthwhile one - wholesome, appealing to both boys and girls, and funny to both adults and children.
Definitely recommended for classroom and bedroom shelves.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle Blog Tour & Giveaway!

In Fairy Tale Fortnight, I featured an excerpt of The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, along with an exclusive (AWESOME) artwork reveal. Well, that wasn't the last bit of Hero's goodness comin' your way, so allow me to present to you: 
some getting-to-know-you time with the bratty petulant tyrannical lovely wondrous splendiferous Princess Briar Rose!

She may be a thorn, er, briar, in everyone's sides for much of Storming the Castle, but I gotta say, she's definitely one of my favorite characters - can't help but love her spoiled, snarky self!
Look at her. Doesn't she just scream cuddly

Briar Rose

Occupation: Princess—THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

Known Associates: Ruffian the Blue

Kingdom of Origin: Avondell

Current Residence: Avondell Palace

Parents: King Basil & Queen Petunia

Longtime Foe/Fiancé: Prince Liam of Erinthia

Hobby: Collecting maps of the Thirteen Kingdoms (and marking off which of those kingdoms she’d like to conquer)

Likes: Servants, followers, admirers

Dislikes: Goody two-shoes wimps, simpering weaklings, whiny milquetoasts

Signature Move: The Stamp-and-Scream Super-Tantrum

Quote: “Ask anyone here. They’ll all tell you how much they adore me. And not just because my guards are dangling them over a vat of hot coals.”

Little Known Fact: Once sent a servant on a two-month hunt through the treacherous Nightkill Mountains in search of a rare goldenwing falcon egg just so that, when the man returned with her prize, she could crack it over his head and laugh.

Sounds like a real peach, right? Just wait til you see her in action... ;)

But of course, you won't know just how much  of a peach she is until you get your hands on a copy, right? WELL, Walden Pond Press is having an epic amazing giveaway of epic amazingness!

All readers of this blog have exclusive access to a special giveaway for THE HERO’S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE. You will need this SECRET CODE to enter: PRINCE CHARMING.  Click here to enter.
The first THREE entrants to enter the giveaway TODAY are guaranteed to receive a signed copy of The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle! And EVERYONE who enters the giveaway from 5/6 to 5/26 is eligible to win a $200 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice!

See? Epic amazing giveaway of epic amazingness!

Want more Hero's Guide? Stop back by tomorrow for my review of Storming the Castle, and make sure to join New York Times Bestselling author Marissa Meyer and Christopher Healy for a Twitter Chat on fractured fairy tales on Monday, June 3rd at 9pm ET. Hashtag #talesretold. There will be giveaways!

And check out the other stops on the tour for more characters and more chances to win - find the full list here!


The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy
Get It | Add It
Middle Grade/Aventure/Fairy Tale Retelling, 496 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Walden Pond Press
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Trailer: The Resurrectionist

So many of you were interested in this book when I showed it in my TBR vlog for May, so since the trailer was released recently, I thought I'd share it with you.
Check it out:

The art! The atmosphere! Who else is intrigued?
But seriously, if you see this book in a shop or your library, pick it up and flip through. I defy you not to want to take it home with you...

The Resurrectionist by EB Hudspeth
Get It | Add It
208 pages
Expected publication: May 21st 2013 by Quirk Books
Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs—were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?

The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from a childhood spent exhuming corpses through his medical training, his travels with carnivals, and the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: The Codex Extinct Animalia, a Gray’s Anatomy for mythological beasts—dragons, centaurs, Pegasus, Cerberus—all rendered in meticulously detailed anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionist tells his story

Sunday, May 19, 2013

CHOICE & CONSEQUENCE - guest post from Jeff Norton, author of MetaWars

Last year, I had a guest post about the importance of strong female characters in "books for boys" (and I know all of you out there are giving "amen"s and "hell yes"es). That post came from Jeff Norton, author of the dystopic thriller series, MetaWars, and Jeff is back again this year, in time for the recent release of MetaWars: Battle of the Immortal; this time, he's taking on the importance of choice - and the sometimes troubling consequences attached...
Check it out, and leave us your thoughts in the comments!

Choice & Consequence
By Jeff Norton

I’m fascinated by the intersection of technology and morality.  There is a moral dimension to almost every innovation, from harnessing fire to the iPad.  Just because we can create something, does it mean that we should?
I wrote the MetaWars books to explore the smash up between speculative technology and human morality. On the surface, the stories are fast-paced action thrillers; but they raise challenging and uncomfortable questions. One of the questions I pose is: how far would you go for love?

My two main protagonists are naïve and sheltered Jonah and worldly assassin Samantha (Sam). They begin as enemies and become best friends. Of course, underneath that friendship is a growing love that neither character can quite name.  And that love faces the toughest of obstacles: death.

But what if death could be digitised?

I based everything in the books on real, if nascent, science and research.  I’ve extrapolated real science of memory mapping and brain digitisation to construct a story world where we can upload ourselves to the Internet – to achieve a digital immortality. Think: living forever as your Moshi Monster or World of Warcraft avatar.

The MetaWars books are about choice and consequences.   At the end of Book 1, Jonah Delacroix makes a desperate bid to save the “lives” of these digital immortals, including his dead father. That decision literally comes back to haunt him when the newly conscious dead yearn to be alive again. They begin usurping the bodies of the living – starting with Sam.  Now Jonah faces the ultimate choice between saving the person he loves and holding onto his only “living” family member.

It’s a harrowing choice and I challenge the reader to ask what they would do.  There are no easy answers, and everyone has a different moral code.  That’s what makes speculative storytelling so exciting.

Jeff Norton is the author of the MetaWars saga. The third book publishes May, 2013 from Orchard Books.  He can be found at www.jeffnorton.com and tweeting at @thejeffnorton.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Chat: Obligatory & Required Reads

Inspired by this month's Time-Crunch TBR (and by a question I get asked a lot in the comments and on twitter), I thought we'd use this month's Book Chat to talk about Obligatory/Required Reading.
Feel free to chime in in the comments, create your own video and leave it as a response, or link up vlog and/or blog posts below!

And if you have thoughts or a desired topic for a future book chat, let me know in the comments!
Thanks for watching!

Friday Face Off: Kinslayer

The covers for the second book in the Lotus War series, Kinslayer, were released this week (along with many a giveaway), and since we had a pretty lively discussion about the different versions of Stormdancer, I figured we should probably continue the tradition with Kinslayer.
Below are the US and UK/AUS versions of the book. They follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, with a strong, bold, fierce Jason Chan-designed piece of art on the US, and a more cool, calculating, muted design on the UK/AUS version. As before, there are elements I really like in both, so I'm curious to see which you guys would rush to pick up (if either). So tell us in the comments, which grabs your interest? Which would you want on your shelves?
Which one did it better? 

Last Week(ish) on FFO: I once again forgot to post FFO last week (I was out of town much of the week, so my brain was gone), but the week before, we had a Face Off between the original and updated covers of Elizabeth Eulberg's Take a Bow; though we all sort of have the feeling that the updated cover is probably more true to the book (the original looks rather drama-y, and not so much rock star-y...), that didn't stop the majority of you from choosing the original. And I can't blame you - it's so pretty!
Winner ------>

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ALL THAT JAZZ ~ guest post from Janet Fox, author of SIRENS

You guys.
I don't know if I mentioned in my Book Chat on Buzzwords and Deal Breakers that anything associated with the '20s is totally buzzworthy to me. Any combination of the words "flappers," "roaring," "speakeasy" (and any of the associated vernacular), "jazz age", and "art deco" just does something to my brain.  I have not one, but two flapper costumes in my closet. Many a feathered fascinator has graced my head.
jazz hands gif, cat picture
There were better examples of jazz hands gifs. 
I have no regrets.

It all makes me quite grabby hands.
Jazzy hands?

Whatever, the point is, it doesn't take much to convince me to take part in some flapper-ish loving.

So today, as part of the blog tour for Sirens, Janet Fox, author of the '20slicious Faithful series, has stopped by to chat about the Jazz Age - and give you guys a chance to win a copy of Sirens and some swag!

Jazz was a big part of the scene in the 1920s, especially in New York City. In SIRENS Jo Winter falls for sweet jazz musician Charlie, who moonlights as a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel. The music revolution of “the Jazz Age” is a backdrop to the Roaring Twenties and the novel.

By 1920 jazz as a musical form had already been developing for some time in the tenderloin district of New Orleans. Born as a hybrid of slave blues, West Indies calypso, ragtime, Negro spirituals, and marching brass bands, jazz was picked up by talented young artists like Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton, and transported to Al Capone’s Chicago.

Jazz infused an intense energy into the music scene; artists like Armstrong had no professional training but learned to play by ear, and improvised and collaborated with other artists. This spontaneity and creativity, and the fact that many of the talents were black, lent jazz a Bohemian aspect.

Capone owned many Chicago speakeasy clubs and he enthusiastically attended performances by these jazz musicians, supporting them financially. Jazz spread as artists picked it up and writers and poets (like Langston Hughes) found rhythm to underscore their work, and New York’s underground nightclubs – especially those up in Harlem – became renowned havens of music patrons.

Dances like the Cakewalk, Black Bottom, the Monkey Glide, and, of course, the Charleston were considered decadent and sensational – which therefore made them wildly appealing to the young white crowd that frequented the clubs. The exoticism of cavorting in a club where the musicians were black made for an even edgier appeal. Jazz was a symbol of creativity and freedom in a decade when both were emerging from the repressive decades of wartime and Victorian propriety.

Radio and the phonograph were central to bringing jazz from nightclubs into every home, but especially in the big cities. In New York one could find a radio station broadcasting black musicians playing jazz – rare in other parts of the country.

Pictorial depictions of flappers and swells dancing the Charleston were popular covers on magazines and further served to spread the influence of the dances and the music.

Langston Hughes wrote, “The rhythm of life/is a jazz rhythm/Honey,” and his words epitomized his time.

Love the Jazz Age as much as I do? Enter to win one of a bajillion (rough estimate) copies of Sirens and some awesome swag! It's the cat's pajamas.
Just fill out the Rafflecopter below! US only, must be at least 13. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And make sure to check out the rest of the participating blogs on the tour - they're the bees knees!
8th @ Alice Marvel
9th @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
10th @ Rebecca's Book Blog
11th @ Chapter By Chapter
12th @ ReadingTeen
13th @ Little Library Muse
14th @ Mundie Moms
15th @ Fire & Ice
16th @ The Book Rat
17th @ Pieces of Whimsy

And look! A trailer! It's the ....something else that sounds very Flapper-speak... ;P

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GIVEAWAY: The Lovecraft Middle School series!

You guys may have seen me talk in a couple of recent videos about receiving the Lovecraft Middle School series from Quirk books, and how I love the design of the books, and think it's something that would have been right up my alley when I was a middle grader.
Though I may not have time to dive into these quirky (see what I did there?) little books at the moment, that doesn't mean I can't share them with you guys, right?
That's what I thought, too.  SO.

THESE COVERS, YOU GUYS. These covers are made of awesome. What's shown above is just one level of the cover, because they have these awesome overlays. The spiel is that "Every volume in the Lovecraft Middle School series is fully illustrated and features an original lenticular portrait on the cover. Display them on bookshelves—and then watch the cover characters morph into monsters as you pass by!and for serious, they look so cool and seamless!
Super cool posters, y'all!

Thanks to Quirk Books, I have copies of the first 3 books in the Lovecraft Middle School series (Professor Gargoyle, The Slither Sisters and Teacher's Pest), posters and bookmarks to give away! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below, and I'd love to know in the comments if you're entering for yourself, your students/children, etc. (Doesn't have an impact on who wins, I'm just nosy curious!)
This is open to residents of US, UK and CAN, and runs through May 23, 2013.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 13, 2013

April Rewind: Mini-Reviews of my April reads!

So this is up SUPER late, but here is what I thought of what I read in April. A few of these that I was in the middle of have since been finished (and the reviews will be up soon!).
Let me know what you think of the books I read (or started, at least), how you April went, and what's next on your stack in the comments!

The Secret of Ella and Micah | Jessica Sorenson
Spies & Prejudice | Talia Vance
The Duff | Kody Keplinger  [review]
School Spirits | Rachel Hawkins  [review]
A Corner of White | Jaclyn Moriarty
First Impressions | Alexa Adams
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong | Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks
The Savage Blue | Zoraida Cordova

Also Mentioned:
Paranormalcy | Kiersten White
The Demon Trapper's Daughter | Jana Oliver

Thursday, May 9, 2013

THORN ABBEY by Nancy Ohlin Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway

During Fairy Tale Fortnight, I had an interview with Nancy Ohlin about her fairy tale retelling, Beauty. In that interview, we also chatted a bit about another retelling she had coming out called Thorn Abbey - this time of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. I think a lot of us had our interest piqued by that, so of course I'm super happy to be sharing an excerpt of Thorn Abbey with you today as part of the blog tour!
Check it out:

I am walking down the path, the one that winds through the woods by Thorn Abbey and leads down to the beach. The air is cool and wet with rain, and my footsteps are light on the carpet of brown fallen leaves as I hurry down to the place where I know he is waiting for me. My cheeks are cold, and my heavy wool sweater scratches against my skin, but I don't care, because I can already feel his strong arms around my body and his warm lips against mine.

And then I am at the bottom of the hill. The beach rises above the horizon, endless and gray. Suddenly I feel exposed. Frightened. The air is different here: bigger, less forgiving. It smells like the sea and salt and dead things.

I move closer to the water. A wave rushes up to my boots and then snakes away, leaving two identical dark stains. I shudder against the chill and look around. Where is he, and why is he late?

Another wave comes up, more imposing than the last, and I step back. But the wave doesn't retreat. It keeps rising toward me, not cresting or breaking. I cry out and stumble backward. The wave grows larger, and more menacing, finally overtaking me and sucking me into it's icy deep.

Hands, fingers, hair. Her hands, her fingers, her hair. They wrap around me, colder than death, and pull me under as I scream. Her face- her beautiful, perfect face that he loved with a passion he will never feel for me - is the last thing I see as my lungs fill with the brackish water and I black out into the nothingness, still calling out his name in vain.


And now, because I know you want to get your hands on this book after that^ (if you didn't already after my FTF interview with Nancy!), here's your chance to win it! Just fill out the Rafflecopter! Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Nancy Ohlin, and Mundie Moms for organizing the tour. =)
Make sure you stop by the rest of the tour stops for other awesome tidbits!

PLEASE do not leave any sensitive info or email addresses in the comments!

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin
Get It | Add It
Contemporary/Thriller/Retelling, 304 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Simon Pulse
Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dark Days of Summer

The teaser trailer for this summer's Dark Days of Summer campaign was realized a week or so ago, and in case you haven't seen it, I thought I'd share.
If you're unfamiliar, Dark Days of Summer is a yearly summer reading campaign from Harper Teen's "Pitch Dark" line-up (aka their hot supernatural books); along with a big awesome summer reading push to get your summer started, they have a Dark Days of Summer tour, which is currently going on (and though it's coming to MI, I'm going to be working my ass off catering to crazy scrapbooking ladies (long story), so I'm going to have to miss it - have fun for me if you go!).
You can find out more about the books and the tour here, but until you do, check out the teaser trailer below and let me know which one you're most eager for.
Personally, they all sound amazing, but I neeeeeed Reboot in my life.

The books, yo!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Prudence Shen, author of NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG!

You may have seen me posting on Twitter or Facebook in the last couple of days about my current read, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. (And if you haven't, well than clearly you're not stalking me hard enough...)
Either way, I am currently reading and loving this, which makes me super-geeked to welcome Prudence Shen, one of the awesome minds behind the book! (The other being Faith Erin Hicks, who brought her awesome art style to the story - you may remember me fangirling a bit over her art when I read Friends with Boys...)
Prudence is going to chat with us about her unexpected road to the publication of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, and soon I'm going to chat with you about why I think you should pick it up! And in between (aka at the end of this post) First Second Books is giving you a chance to win a copy!
So many exclamation points!


Somewhere on my computer hard drive is the beginnings of a profoundly terrible spec script for Leverage.

In case you've never seen the show, firstly, you should, and secondly, you should know it's about a bunch of thieves and con men who decide to leverage their particular skill sets to help people getting screwed by corporate America and other sundry villains. One of my best friends is an adept and fabulous storyteller and a screenwriter by preferred trade; she also once had an episode that convinced her I could be taught to ride that particular rodeo bronco.

The act of writing a script is the art of having sufficient emotional detachment to let other people dabble in the flawless brilliance of your idea. No matter how bad your writing actually is, like Kiera Knightly in Love Actually, to you, your story is perfect. My attempt at writing a script for Leverage was so hilariously neurotic, I had roughly two scenes, maybe three dialog exchanges, and the rest of the 20-odd pages were scene descriptions. My friend, after seeing this, had to admit defeat, and pleased with my incompetence, I put the spec to bed. Forever.

Letting other people get their fingers into your universe is a fraught and emotionally complex experience, and handing off my novel -- then a prose manuscript titled Voted Most Likely -- to be adapted into a graphic novel was hard. This was literal years ago, before we'd identified an artist for the comic and just after my agent had called me to explain First Second's interest, their plans. I remember standing in the sweeping hallway of my then-office on my cell phone feeling like a fist had closed over my windpipe.

Was I happy? Of course. I'd scammed someone into buying my book! Was this good news? Obviously, ibid. Did I want to move forward? Saying no to this sort of opportunity is ridiculous.

Even then, my visual imagination was filling in blanks: the story that eventually became Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong was always an active, farcical romp through suburbia. There were robot battles and basketball games, it would make for a fun story to look at in addition to a fun story to read.

But there's a big different in the academic exercise of imagining someone taking a pass at your story and actually having it happen.

I think it's a common experience of every writer to want to track down their bad reviewers, their readers who got it wrong, and to explain themselves, to point out this passage or that imagery and say, "See? Do you get it now? Hey, stop running away this is important!" That's as constant as the rate of gravity or my ability to be attracted to the biggest douchebag in any given group of people, and it gnawed at me as First Second talked about which adapters they were reaching out to, after we lucked out with Faith's marvelously funny art, as we waited for the condensed plot, the script, the graphic novel pages.

There was a lot of nail biting and anxiety on my end, fretting over what someone would do with my novel. Would they understand the essential melancholy at the heart of Charlie? Would they be able to depict it in images the way I hoped I'd managed to get it across in words? What about Nate, and his bombastic pursuit of his goals -- would that come off as grudgingly charming, or completely obnoxious?

But it boils down to trusting that your story got the message across, or some piece of that message. I fully believe that once you've dotted your last I and crossed your last T, the author is dead, and all your protestations otherwise are futile. Everybody brings their own experiences and biases to their media consumption, and everybody's version of a novel is different. One time I met a guy who thought The Scarlet Letter was about puritanical views on adultery; obviously that book is about rendering supernatural the concept of female agency. Despite what your high school English teachers may have written in the margins of your more creative (read: desperate) papers, both interpretations are true -- not because it's what Hawthorne wanted us to get out of the novel, but it's what we actually took away.

Lucky for Faith, by the time she was fully on board and we were looking at the adaptation, I'd talked myself off the ledge, fever breaking with a simple realization:

It is incredibly cool to see another person's interpretation of your work.

We may love our writing, but we can only ever know it in a vacuum. It's very improbable that someone will delve into its characters, its plots with anything like the thoughtfulness and time that went into its creation. As Voted Most Likely was transmogrified into Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, I was one of the rare, lucky ones to see what was most enduring about the story. It turned out to be some stuff I expected (one liners! robots!) and some things I didn't (the quietness of Nate and Charlie's friendship, their very understated support of one another). It was a privilege to know what had resonated with Faith, what had been hidden between the lines.

So was it nerve-wracking to have the novel adapted to a comic? Immensely. But it was hugely interesting and very cool, too. Plus, since I wasn't the one giving myself carpal tunnel drawing battlebot scenes, it was only upside for me.

I hope you like the book; I hope you like Faith's wonderful drawings and very cool interpretations of the characters. But far more than any of that, I hope you read it so you can get your own take, so that -- sometime very soon -- I will be seized with anxiety that someone is getting it wrong and not even know why.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks
Get It | Add It
Contemporary/Graphic Novel, 288 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by First Second
You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

It's only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club's robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!

In Faith Erin Hicks' and Prudence Shen's world of high school class warfare and robot death matches, Nothing can possibly go wrong.

The awesome folks* at First Second Books have offered up a copy of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong to one lucky winner from the US, CAN or the UK! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends May 14th, 2013 at 12am EST.
PLEASE do not leave any sensitive info or email addresses in the comments - these entries will be deleted!
Good luck, and don't forget to leave some love for Pru & Faith!!

*aka Gina - thanks, Gina!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Face Off: Take A Bow

You guys, I have legit had this Face Off sitting in draft since like early February. Clearly, it's time to share with the class.
I've had a copy of Elizabeth Eulberg's Take a Bow sitting on my shelves for some time now, and the fact that I haven't had time to work it in makes me kinda sad, because I know it will be quick, and I definitely enjoyed Eulberg's Prom & Prejudice. (I know, me and a Jane Austen retelling, who'dve guessed?) In February (hence the draft), the paperback was released with a revamped cover. I have to say, I think both are cute - and they give off totally different vibes - and while I think maybe the paperback will appeal to a wider audience, the soft glow of the hardcover is just so gorgeous in person.
But what do you guys think? Which would you reach for, and if you've read it, which one suits?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: The US hardcover and paperback looks for Brenna Yovanoff's fantastic The Space Between went head to head, and though it was closer than I thought it'd be, the gorgeous, scrollwork-laced,  richly detailed original was the winner. But no matter the cover (or title, as it's called "Smoulder" in the UK), you should definitely pick this one up.
Winner -------->


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