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Thursday, October 31, 2013

BOOK HAUL | October 30, 2013

What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a book haul, yeah? Yeah.

Love Letters to the Dead | Ava Dellaira
Plus One | Elizabeth Fama
Something Real | Heather Demetrios
The Geek's Guide to Dating | Eric Smith
How to Be Alone | Tanya Davis, illus. by Andrea Dorfman

Thanks for watching, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Note on "Life Stuff" & where I've been

I've dreaded having to write this. I've been putting it off, and putting off thinking about any of this, frankly. But I've been absent for a few weeks now, and it didn't feel right to jump back in without an explanation, though I wasn't ready to explain, or in the mood to focus on much of anything, and then I got stuck in a guilt-loop, and... it's time to just let you know where I've been and why some things have fallen through the cracks recently.

*deep breath*

On October 9th, my little sister had a precious baby boy, and on October 17th, we lost him.

This wasn't a completely unexpected occurrence, but that somehow didn't make it any easier, so for the last month or so, between hospital visits and preparing for hospice* to descend on us, and then paying for/scraping together a funeral, on top of just normal life bullshit, I've been drained and not in the least little bit of a mood to blog, or answer emails or care, really. The extent of my caring about the appearance of normalcy extended to sporadic twitter or instagram posts, and half the time I just closed the page on those without even finishing them...

I tell you this for a couple reasons: 1) If you've emailed me or I was supposed to email you and I didn't, this is why communication has been non-existent; 2) If I was supposed to read or review your book, or post a certain vlog, or anything along those lines, and haven't... well, it'll happen when it happens, because frankly, though I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things because I think I need to, a BIG part of me still doesn't want to, so I'm sure things will be spotty for the next stretch of blog-time.

So, though I could just say, "Been gone, life stuff" and leave it at that, I thought I should explain because you guys are a part of my life, too. I've talked to you so much, and am close to many of you. Some of you knew the basics of what's been going on through Facebook, but for the rest of you that have wondered where I've been, or will wonder in the foreseeable future why I seem down in a video, or why there are stretches of time where I just disappear for a bit, I felt like you deserve some form of explanation. So this is why.

Bear with me, is basically what I'm saying.
And thank you for your support.
And hug your loved ones.


*Magical, glorious people, Hospice. Seriously. When I have enough brain cells to devote to it, I think I'm going to attempt a fundraiser to benefit hospice, because they are amazing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Introducing: EDGE | Imprint Giveaway & Cover Reveal Blast

Edge, a digital-first single-title romance line from Entangled Publishing, takes its lead from our popular Select imprint but gives its novels an edge in the marketplace by bringing great stories to readers at reasonable prices in a quick-and-easy way. Whether sexy or sweet, traditional romance or love and lust with a women’s fiction bent, at the center of every Edge book is heart. From Urban Fantasy to Contemporary Romance to Science Fiction Romance, Edge has a book for all romance readers—and right at their fingertips! As they say, all’s fair in love and war. To find out more about our titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow us on Twitter, and like our Facebook page.

Today I'm happy to be featuring Edge's October releases!! Click through to learn more and enter roughly one MIIIILLION giveaways!

(Four. There are four.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TIME SPELL by T.A. Foster blog tour | Character Interview

Today we're talking a bit about T.A. Foster, whose book Time Spell has a cutesy little cover I just couldn't resist sharing with all of you. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a silhouette. Today's guest post - a character interview revolving in part around Ivy Grace, the main character of Time Spell.
Check it out below, and make sure to leave your thoughts - on the interview, the book, or that cutesy cover - in the comments!

T.A.: I am so excited to share this character interview with everyone. A good friend of mine and former long-time journalist, Mary-Kathryn Craft, created some very in-depth and relevant questions for Jack Coleman, editor at Raven Publishing in Sullen’s Grove.

MKC: Why did you become an editor?
JC: In college I double majored in business and literature. One of my professors set up an internship for me in New York at a publishing house. It was the perfect merger of my interest in books and business. I graduated and did everything I could do get my foot in the door.

MKC: What, in your opinion, is the secret to being a successful editor?
JC: Knowing when to pick your battles with the writer and with the publisher. It’s my job to make sure we are putting great books in people’s hands, but I’m not going to do it at the expense of the writer’s creativity.

MKC: What is the best part of your job as an editor at Raven Publishing?
JC: The best part is getting to work with the authors. They are the real life force of the business.

MKC: What is the most challenging part of your job?
JC: Convincing a writer to trust me when I tell them we need to make changes to their work. They take it personally—I understand that.

MKC: What is your all-time favorite book--the one you can read again and again?
JC: The Sun Also Rises

MKC: Who is your favorite author and why?
JC: Hemingway. He was a self-editor. Each word was chosen for a precise reason and had specific placement. He was a great storyteller and a master at words.

MKC: Now a few questions about one of your more famous authors at Raven. What was it about Ivy Grace's stories that drew you in?
JC: I’ve never read a story before like the ones Ivy is able to create. She has this uncanny ability of making you believe you are there in history when her story unfolds.

MKC: Do you have a favorite Ivy Grace novel? Which one, and why?
JC: I do. I don’t want to give too much away, though. She’s working on a new novel right now that is going to blow everyone away. That’s all I can say about it.

MKC: How do you feel about the movie adaptation of Vegas Star? Does it stay true to the original vision?
JC: I think it’s about as close as you can get. There isn’t a book out there that doesn’t lose some of its soul when it becomes a movie. Overall, Ivy was really happy with the movie version, and that’s what counts.

MKC: We don't know much about your life outside publishing. What are your hobbies? What is a perfect day for Jack Coleman away from the office?
JC: Every chance I get, I go fishing. I have a little place on the lake outside of Sullen’s Grove. It’s my hideaway. But I’m not going to lie—I usually take a few books with me.

Time Spell by T.A. Foster
Get It | Add It
Paperback, 242 pages
Ivy Grace is learning that magic--and love--are all about the right timing.

Follow the adventures of this spirited young Southern woman as she embarks upon a successful new career writing novels and movies that explore romantic mysteries of the past.

Ivy, a witch who spends her days practicing her brand of good magic in a sleepy little city, often travels back in time to observe events of yesteryear and turn them into compelling stories for her modern-day fans. But as her uncanny ability to weave enthralling historic tales lands her in the limelight, she quickly finds that fame sometimes comes with a price.

Evil forces now know who she is and threaten to reveal her family’s most sacred magical secrets.

With the help of her ruggedly handsome editor and a sexy supernatural ex-boyfriend, Ivy must unravel history while fighting to keep these ominous forces at bay.

Will Ivy be able to make the ultimate sacrifice for the people she loves the most?

T.A. Foster is a Southern girl whose heart and spirit are connected to the beach. She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children and two canine kiddos.

Her long love affair with books started at an early age, and as soon as she was able, she transformed imaginative stories into words on paper. Time Spell is T.A.’s debut novel, and the first in a series about a very adventurous, clever, and magical girl named Ivy.

T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing or planning her next beach trip.

Find her on:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BOOK HAUL: October 12, 2013

Books! Glorious, glorious books!
[Book haul time... =D ]

Captive | A.D. Robertson (aka Andrea Cremer)
"Amelia Webster" folio from Alexa Adams
Holidays at Pemberley | Alexa Adams
Tin Star | Cecil Castelluci
Cress | Marissa Meyer
Sekret | Lindsay Smith
The Journeys of John and Julia | Aurelia
How Not to Be a Dick | Meghan Doherty

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Face Off: How to Be a Good Wife

A few days ago, I posted an excerpt & a giveaway for Emma Chapman's How to Be a Good Wife. As I was preparing the post, I noticed some of the other covers for the book on Goodreads, and I was quite taken with them, both individually and as a set (for how different they were from one another). I was going to include them in the post, but I figured might as well take advantage and turn it over to you, to see what you guys think. Below is a selection of the covers for the book; each has a similar ominous, trapped tone, but each is very different in its approach to conveying it. Take a look, read through the synopsis if you'd like, and then let us know in the comments, which one makes you the most curious? Which would you reach for on the shelves, to find out what it's about? Which would you rather display on your own shelves?
Which one did it better?
about How to Be a Good Wife:
In the tradition of Emma Donoghue's Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, a haunting literary debut about a woman who begins having visions that make her question everything she knows
Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.
But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

Last Week on FFO: Two very different versions of A.S. King's Please Ignore Vera Dietz went head to head, and the iconicly simple original cover blew the competition out of the water. You thought the paperback redesign was generic and not memorable, and not all that representative of the story.
Winner ------>

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lexi Ryan's Wish I May playlist! [blog tour]

A couple of days ago, I introduced you to some naughty and nice teasers of Lexi Ryan's new adult book Wish I May; today Lexi dropped in to share her playlist for the book! Check 'em out, and make sure you enter the Wish I May giveaway!
Wish I May Playlist

Gotye, Kimbra—Somebody That I Used to Know

Kings of Leon—Sex on Fire

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

FAIRYLAND Blog Tour: Reading of The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two + Giveaway!

You guys probably know by now how much I love Cat Valente's Fairyland series. Like, really, really love it.
Push it on everyone, love it.
Compose odes to it, love it.
(Okay, maybe not that last one. Yet.)
I said book 1 was a "feat of utter nonsense" (and I meant that in the best possible way), and that book 2 gave me "Happy Reader Shivers." [Also, I just realized that I said "Long may she reign" as Queen of Nonsense in both reviews. I don't believe that was intentional, so that just shows you how much I meant it...] Last year I even got to reveal the trailer for the second book (and if you haven't heard me talk about my love of the trailers -- well...)
So it's established: I love this series.
Which is why I'm happy to be getting to share a reading of the 3rd book, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, with you, as well as a chance to win the series for yourself!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

WISH I MAY by Lexi Ryan Teasers & Giveaway!

I've said for awhile now that the "New Adult" category seems designed to break YA readers into the adult sexytimes category, and judging from the cover — and one of the teasers I'm going to share with you — of Lexi Ryan's Wish I May, it's a traditional that's going strong!

Before we get to all teh smexah, here's a sweeter, more SFW teaser of Wish I May for you:

Click through for a much more steamy, NSFW teaser, as well as a chance to win 1 of 4 $25 gift cards & a signed prize pack!

Monday, October 7, 2013

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE by Emma Chapman Excerpt & Giveaway

Though I don't feature a ton of adult literary fiction on the blog, I do have a lot of it crowding my shelves. I have a particular fondness for stories that push the reader, get inside the reader's head a little. And Emma Chapman's debut, How to be a Good Wife, sounds like it does just that.
The excerpt on Macmillan's site — which I'm sharing with you in part, below  — is full of foreboding and left me feeling anxious in that haunting, suspenseful way of some books. I don't know about you, but when the days get shorter and cooler and Halloween creeps closer, I find myself more likely to reach for a book like this over schlocky horror; I want something that's going to mess with my mind a bit, and not just cheap thrills.

If you like the same, click through to check out an excerpt of How to be a Good Wife and then enter to win one of 2 copies for your own suspenseful Fall reading pile!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

SEPTEMBER REWIND ~ mini-reviews of all my September reads!

Here's what I thought of what I managed to get through in September - there were some odd ones in this batch, kinda on the fence about this month...
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for watching!

Born Wicked | Jessica Spotswood
The Real Boy | Anne Ursu
The Chaos of Stars | Kiersten White
Across a Star-Swept Sea | Diana Peterfreund
Captive | A.D. Robertson (aka Andrea Cremer)

Born Wicked review
The Real Boy review
The Real Boy giveaway
The Chaos of Stars review
Nightshade | Andrea Cremer
Sorrow's Knot |  Erin Bow
October TBR

Saturday, October 5, 2013

BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood | review

My thoughts on September's STACK OF FIVE winner, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood! Thanks to all of you who voted. If you'd like to see the two books (bonus!) that won this month's Stack of Five, check out my October TBR! =)

Born Wicked book coverBorn Wicked book cover

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
330 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Face Off: Please Ignore Viera Dietz

Though in some ways not my favorite cover design, the original look for A.S. King's Please Ignore Vera Dietz was memorable for being simple and iconic - one of those books where you can say, 'Oh yeah, that's the one with _________ on the cover.' It was recognizable and therefore memorable. But for the paperback reissue, the design went in a different (and possible more universally relatable?) direction - though both covers, I would say, don't give away much.
Take a look at the two different versions of this Printz Honor book (among many other accolades), and tell us in the comments which cover draws you in. Which appeals to you more, and makes you curious about the story? Which would you rather have on your shelves?
Which one did it better?

Last Week on FFO: Two books with similar covers (gray with a circular maze-like focal point) went head to head, and most of you were won over by the gray/baby blue color scheme of Aimee Carter's upcoming Pawn, leaving the very popular Legend in the dust.
Winner --------->

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October TBR

October TBR time!
I love Fall, I love Halloween, and I love any excuse to work it into my reading stack. Here's what I'm planning on reading this month (hopefully); check it out, let me know what you think, and thanks for watching!

Stack of 5 winner: Texas Gothic | Rosemary Clement-Moore
BONUS So5 winner: Demonglass | Rachel Hawkins
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland & Cut the Moon in Two | Catherynne M. Valente
Unbreakable | Kami Garcia
Memory | Christoph Marzi
More Than This | Patrick Ness
Relic | Heather Terrell

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu | review

 "Magic smiths didn't believe in monsters, and Oscar no longer believed in magic smiths..."

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Get It | Add It
Middle Grade Fantasy, 288 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Walden Pond Press
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

In some ways, like Breadcrumbs before it, The Real Boy is a story of disillusionment. Ursu has a knack for honing in on that transitional period of not-quite-childhood, when some of the magic of life begins to dissipate and less-pleasant realities start to seep in. Oscar's world is a very small one, and everything in it is set; it's dependable, reliable . . . Until suddenly, it's not. Or, Oscar realizes, maybe it never was. Doubt — the realization that your heroes may not be as heroic as they seem, that life may not be as simple, and your own place in it not as clear-cut — is the death-knell of childhood; once you realize it's ending, it's already over. Ursu perches her story on this precarious point, and just as Oscar realizes that things are changing, everything comes crashing in on him. This is part of what makes for a good middle grade fantasy-adventure story (child suddenly finds his/herself stepping out of the carefreeness of childhood and taking on Serious Adult Burdens), but I think it's not often realized or used to as good effect as Ursu is able to achieve.

 But also like Breadcrumbs, The Real Boy is a story of finding your place in life and letting people in. Oscar doesn't have to go it alone. There's a sweetness to the story, to Oscar and Callie and their friendship. To the dependable world Oscar's worn grooves into, with his cats and his plants, and everything in it's proper place. Sometimes "sweetness" can sound saccharine and very After School Special, but the sweetness of The Real Boy is not forced or syrupy. It's just a beautifully conveyed story of friendship and connection; of belonging, even when you feel like you could never belong. And it's aided by the fact that everything about Ursu's writing — her world-building and character-building — feels so natural and effortless. She is able to immerse the reader in this world without the story ever feeling bogged down in excess details; she helps the reader see through her characters' eyes without heavy-handed moralizing*. Nothing feels phony or out of place. It's engaging and refreshing and so very perfect for a juvenile/adult crossover - a book and a world that readers of all ages can enjoy.

Beyond the storytelling (and the story itself), I just really like the style choices Ursu made. Little things that, if done well, should be unobtrusive, can play a huge part in the overall feel of the story, and Ursu pays attention to those details. Things like sentence structure and the cadence of different characters (and yes, I know cadence is a sound thing, but you know how you can hear the characters in your head? That.), all of those little details make the bigger picture what it is. Oscar doesn't use contractions, which adds to his feeling of being off, of being distant and at a remove from those around him. He sees himself as not quite like everyone else, and his speech (including inner narration) and interactions with people subtly build this feeling of separation and isolation from others, whom he is Not Quite Like. I don't know if other people notice these choices, these teeny, tiny things, but I do, and I appreciate them. I'm hesitant to say too much more on this, because I don't want to color someone else's reading of Oscar or his story, but I just really appreciated the choices Ursu made and the way she represented her characters. I do want to talk more about it, but I'm hiding it behind a spoiler button, so if you want to go into the story with fresh eyes and your own interpretation, please don't click.

Ursu's skill as a storyteller is obvious, and her understanding and compassionate approach to her characters and stories, as well as her embracing of all the grays amid the easy black and white of life are guaranteed to win me over, and keep me thinking about and talking about her books for a long time to come. Breadcrumbs started me thinking, and The Real Boy has confirmed, that Anne Ursu has earned a firm spot on my author-to-watch list, and I'd highly suggest that if you haven't read anything by her yet, you should rectify that soon.

*There is a moral to be had - probably a number of them. And though they are fairly clearly present, the story isn't didactic or preachy

Don't forget, you can enter to win this one, as well as check out an excerpt & some of the artwork from the book, here! Bonus points have been added to the giveaway for commenting on this review. Good luck! =)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu | Artwork, Excerpt & Giveaway!

By now, I'm sure you know I'm half in love with Anne Ursu. Or her writing, at least. (Maybe her, too; she's pretty nice.) Breadcrumbs was one of my absolute favorite reads of 2011, and one of the most memorable middle grade books I've read, period. Two solid years later, and I still push it frequently.
Needless to say, I have been looking forward to her next book, The Real Boy, eagerly and for some time - and you'll hear all my thoughts on that tomorrow, but until then, I'm thrilled to get to share a scene from the book, including a reveal of some of the fantastic artwork from Erin McGuire that is sprinkled throughout.
Below, you'll meet Callie - a bold, strong, compassionate character that I think most readers will instantly love (I did!); click through to read the whole excerpt, and then enter to win a signed, finished hardcover of this excellent middle grade fantasy!
click to embiggen

The shining lady saw Oscar behind the counter and stalked toward him, pushing the girl with her. Oscar took a step backward and bumped into the wall.

“Something’s wrong with her,” the lady repeated, her voice a hiss. “I need Caleb.”

Oscar had been down this road before. You would think telling someone Caleb’s not here would be enough, but it never was. “There’s a healer,” Oscar said. He kept his eyes away from the girl. “Madame Mariel. That’s who you see when someone’s sick: the healer, not the magician.” From the corner of the shop, Callie cleared her throat and shot him a look.


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