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Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Face Off: Blood Magic

So I was buying mass amounts of books the other day... This seems to be the way a lot of our FFOs are starting lately. Hmm, imagine that. Anyway, I was happily buying books, and debating whether to get a good-condition hardcover of a book with the original cover, or to get a less-than-perfect paperback with the new cover style, which would match the sequel, which I was also buying, because apparently I have no impulse control. Make sense? Of course, as with all cover redos, I was torn - do I go with format consistency, or cover consistency? Can't have it both ways. In the end, I went with the cover I liked best, though I'm not going to tell you which that is, as I don't want to bias you — which brings me to this week's Face Off: Tessa Gratton's Blood Magic!
I thought I'd already done a Face Off of the hardcover and paperback versions of Blood Magic, but I was wrong, though I see why I'd think that. Turns out, I had done a previous FFO featuring Blood Magic, but it wasn't against 2 versions of itself; no, it was a battle between two books using the same stock photo (which, hey, may be why they decided to change the cover style in the first place...). Long story short, check out the two covers below and tell me which appeals to you more. Which would you rather have on your shelves? Which would you reach for at the bookstore, to see what it was about?
Which one did it better?

PS. You'll have to keep an eye out for my next book haul to see which cover won me over.
PPS. There are more covers for Blood Magic that I think may pop up in future FFOs... One pairing I'm especially curious to get your thoughts on. =D

Last Week on FFO:  We took a look at the US and German covers of Josin McQuein's Arclight, with many of you praising the moodiness and textures on the German cover. It was the clear winner, though to be fair, the US cover does not show to advantage on a computer screen — I and some of you voting all agreed that it's really a cover you need to see in person to get the full effect, and I highly suggest that if you do see it in the wild, you pick it up and play with it.
Winner -------------->

Thursday, February 27, 2014

BOOK HAUL | February 2014!

Here are all (or most, anyway) of the lovely new books to make a home on my shelves in February. Brace yourselves, 'cause this is a long one (lot of books), and I have AT LEAST one more haul coming soon, and more than likely, two... I just. can't. STOP MYSELF.

Nameless | Lili St. Crow
A Long, Long Sleep | Anna Sheehan
This One Summer | Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
The Kiss of Deception | Mary E. Pearson
The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw | Christopher Healy
Amy Unbounded | Rachel Hartmna
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (based on the comics by Jacques Tardi)
The Darkest Minds | Alexandra Bracken
Vicious | Victoria Schwab

Liz @ Consumed by Books
Wednesday YA book club
The WYA shelf on Goodreads
Fairy Tale Fortnight
Jillian Tamaki's embroidery art
The Fox Inheritance series
The Near Witch
The Archived

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Final Thoughts on Unspoken | #WednesdayYA [1.2.4]

Here's our final segment in this "issue" of February's #WednesdayYA! Last week we had our twitter chat to discuss Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken, and lemme tell you: it was mixed bag. Because I fell like I said everything I needed to say about this book (and because some pretty good points were raised, and good times had), I thought I'd do this non-review in the form of a twitter-ish rant-filled talk with y'all. So. Click through if that's a thing that interests you.
(And really, why wouldn't it? ;P )

Spotlight: The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

When a publicist tells me that a book is one of their favorites that they've ever worked on, I pay attention. People in the book world have a lot of stories pass through their fingers, so it's a rare one that makes a lasting impression. So based on that recommendation, I thought I would share the book with you, even though it's adult literary fiction, rather than YA, because maybe you might like to take note of high praise like that, too!
If you want to get a feel for the book, you can read an excerpt here. Otherwise, allow me to present:

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene
Contemporary Fiction, 288 pages
Thomas Dunne Books (February 25, 2014)
An immensely talented writer whose work has been described as “incandescent” (Kirkus) and “poetic” (Booklist), Thomas Christopher Greene pens a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of one couple at their best and worst.

Inspired by a personal loss, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man’s memories of his life and loves. Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges. Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.
"A truly remarkable novel, I read the second half of The Headmaster’s Wife with my mouth open, my jaw having dropped at the end of the first half. Thomas Christopher Greene knows how to hook a reader and land him." --Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Face Off: Arclight

You all likely know me well enough to know how often I feel compelled to buy books based on their cover. You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover and all that, yeah, yeah, but I have to say, in my case, it works out in the publishing industry's favor... Josin McQuien's Arclight is one of those books that I had to have because of its packaging, and when I finally saw it in person*, I didn't regret it a bit. It really is a dynamic thing of beauty.  Which brings me to this week's Face Off, as I recently came across a different (clearly German) version of the book, with a totally different approach to the cover. Take a look at both below, and then let us know in the comments which you prefer. Which piques your interest? Which would you reach for on the shelves?
Which one did it better? 

*Seriously. Take a look at this book in person, because all those little lines are made of MAGIC. Truly gorgeous in the book-flesh.

Last Week on FFO: Three different versions of Sara Grant's Dark Parties went head to head, with the more recently released US paperback coming out a clear winner — though in a (prescient?) show of unity with this week's post, we did have a write-in vote for the German version!
Winner -------->

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough | review

This was the first book you guys picked for me to read this year (in our "cover appeal" stack of five), and it feels like it's been AGES since I read it... Definitely time to get a review up and share my thoughts.
Synopsis and links are below, if you want to check the book out. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for watching!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 292 pages
Originally published September 14th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search - and the stranger - will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unspoken 1.2.3: Instagramming Unspoken + Twitter Chat Reminder!! | #WednesdayYA

Hey, #WednesdayYA-ers! Welcome to the 3rd week of February's book club read-along! This is your reminder that the twitter chat for Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken is TONIGHT at 8:30 Eastern / 7:30 Central. Liz and I certainly hope you'll drop in and join us if you've read / are reading this book, especially because both Liz and I are  t  o  r  n! We're definitely going to have some things to discuss...

But until then, I thought I'd share with you some instances of one of the things I do like about Unspoken: the humor! If there's one things SRB does well, it's quirky silliness, and it's probably the only thing that's kept me holding on. Below are some of my favorite moments of said silliness (and some commentary on why, even when silly, the book doesn't quite work for me), so click through, have a few laughs, and then weigh in with your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cover Reveal: Shattered Secrets

To celebrate the release of Krystal Wade's March 3rd release of  SHATTERED SECRETS, her team has come up with one of the coolest cover reveals I've seen in awhile - a motherloving puzzle!
Now, normally I would post the cover, but I don't want to make it too easy for you, so instead, try your hand at the puzzle, and post your time in the comments (who's got mad puzzle skillz?).
But if you're puzzle-inept or just super lazy, you can cheat and see it here.

Title: Shattered Secrets
Author: Krystal Wade
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Release Date: March 3th, 2014
Pages: 300 pages
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
After being kidnapped, hogtied, and stuffed in the trunk of a car, seventeen-year-old Abigail Nichols' boy problems seem unimportant.
She couldn't be more wrong.

The boy who saves her holds her heart.

But Derick Crawford also holds secrets.

Magical beings who guide human emotions are fighting an invisible war dating back to the dawn of time, and Abigail's one of them. The more she learns of her heritage, the less she wants to know. Armed with a very old, very massive book to teach them about their history, Abigail and Derick run away to a place where they think they can be safe and happy, only to have their troubles secretly hitch a ride.

Her history book is in a sharing mood, and it tells her to keep a secret of her own.

But has she put her trust in the wrong place?

And will the world survive if she has?

Krystal Wade can be found in the sluglines outside Washington D.C. every morning, Monday through Friday. With coffee in hand, iPod plugged in, and strangers - who sometimes snore, smell, or have incredibly bad gas - sitting next to her, she zones out and thinks of fantastical worlds for you and me to read.
How else can she cope with a fifty mile commute?
Good thing she has her husband and three kids to go home to. They keep her sane.

Website: http://www.krystalwade.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/author.krystalwade
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KrystalWade
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5773867.Krystal_Wade

Monday, February 17, 2014

4th Annual Fairy Tale Fortnight Invitation!

You guys have no idea how much I love announcing this, but trust me when I say I do:
Since I started this blog, I've always tried to share my love of fairy tales with you, 'cause frankly, I'm obsessed. I spend a disproportionate amount of my year thinking about fairy tales, and planning what I'll get to share with you in the next event. And I'm not the only one this is true of, as Bonnie from A Backwards Story will be joining me as co-host again this year for the FOURTH ANNUAL FTF!

Before we get down to particulars: I've said in the past that no blog event feels real until there's a button for it, so let's start there. Once again this year I made both a button* (below) and a banner (above); feel free to share or use any of them when talking about Fairy Tale Fortnight. =)

*I should say buttonS, 'cause I made a dark-text and light-text version. =)
All of this years buttons created with awesome stock from Deviant Artists Queens RevengeMifti Stock and Sed Rah . You guys rock!

Now, let's get down to business, shall we?
  • What is Fairy Tale Fortnight? Fairy Tale Fortnight is a two-week event that takes place once a year. The focus of the event is fairy tale retellings and fairy tale-esque works. The two weeks will be jam-packed with reviews, interviews, guest posts, giveaways and all manner of awesome things!
  • Where is  Fairy Tale Fortnight? FTF takes place here at The Book Rat and on my Youtube channel, as well as on A Backwards Story, the blog of my co-host, Bonnie (and lets face it, it will probably spill over to tumblr, twitter and facebook...)
  • When is Fairy Tale Fortnight? This year, FTF will be taking place between Sunday, April 20th and Saturday, May 3rd.
  • Can anyone participate in Fairy Tale Fortnight? YES! We highly encourage others to participate, whether it be through their own blogs, vlogs, tumblrs and tweets, or just through the comments. There will be a linky up on the first day for readers and participants to share their own fairy tale-related posts throughout the event. For those who want to be even more involved, we also invite people to guest post here at FTF HQ (ie mine and Bonnie's blogs). Guests can send us their own reviews, giveaways, Top 5 lists, etc - anything with a fairy tale slant that they think should have a turn in the FTF spotlight! There is a form below to fill out if you'd like to be considered for a guest slot!
  • Do you have to be a blogger/vlogger to participate in Fairy Tale Fortnight? NO, not at all! We welcome all comers; the only requirement is a love for fairy tales. Whether you're a full-fledged obsessive like we are, or are just starting to rediscover them, ALL are welcome to participate!
  • Can authors participate as well? Absolutely! Authors are welcome to participate in any of the ways listed above. If you'd like to do something more promotional, like an interview or a giveaway, or talk to Bonnie or I about a possible review, please email us: email Misty | email Bonnie
  • Anything else we should know? Yep! Because it was so much fun last year, we've once again paired up with Kathy from I am a Reader, to organize a Fairy Tale Giveaway Blog Hop! Stay tuned for more details on how YOU can be part of the hop, but until then, please to enjoy this pretty button!
  • Still have questions on how this whole thing works? Check out the schedules for year oneyear two and year three to get a better idea of how the events run, and what to expect from this year!

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

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Oh man. I hope you guys like hearing about book boyfriends, 'cause I definitely like talking about them... Also, outtakes and fangirling abound in this. All the derp faces. ALL THE DERP FACES.

George Cooper (meet him here)
Gilbert Blythe (fall in love here)
Fitzwilliam Darcy (prepare to fangirl)
Jonah Griggs (swooning starts in 3...2...)
Hugh of Harrowfield (aka RED - we should be together, amirite)
Tom Shaw (I'll be your old-fashioned girl, Tom!)
Stefan Uccello (undead, but still a heart-stealer)
Constantine (cuddle or run? CUDDLE OR RUN?)
the isbjørn (aka Bear - givin' the best cuddles since EVER)
Valek (back off, girls, he's mine)
Jericho Barrons (you tried to resist, but Alpha-Barrons won)
Ethan Chavez (adorkable hottie alert!)
Korbyn (getting tricksy with your heart since forever)

Captain Wentworth from Persuasion
alllllll of the menfolk in the Lunar Chronicles
Valya (he has all your Sekrets)
Tournour from Tin Star
Book Boyfriends on FB

Notice I said I was going to stop twice and then just kept going... And of course, as I was editing this, I remembered a ton of other BBFs I should have gushed about, so...there will definitely be a part two. (Henry Tilney, anyone?)

Let me know your book BFs and GFs in the comments, 'cause I'm always on the prowl for more! ;D

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski | review

And the blog tour continues with my thoughts on the awesomeness that is this book. If you haven't already done so, you should definitely check out my interview-ish thing with Marie, and enter to win a The Winner's Curse prize pack!
But, you know...read this review first. ;)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Get It | Add It
Fantasy/Historical, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

I'm really afraid I'm going to spoil something about this book for you guys, which I don't want to do at all, at all, at all, so I'm going to try very hard not to, which is going against everything in me that just wants to discuss this book. I've been seeing a lot of unreserved "this is the best thing evarrrr" reviews on the interwebs for The Winner's Curse, and I'm not quite there — there were a couple things that, well, not necessarily bothered me, but seemed less perfect in this otherwise really excellent book. But for the most part, I ate this book right up, and I feel pretty confident in saying that this series is going to be big, and you're going to want to read it now, so that when it's this huge thing everyone's talking about and there's a movie in the works with the most current incarnation of JLaw, you can be all hipster and say you read it ages ago.

The Winner's Curse reads like historical fantasy, but it isn't quite either of those things. It's very rich in the telling, with seamless, full world-building, which I think plays into the historical fantasy feel (those two genres being arguably the most dependent on truly excellent world-building and a very luxe style). You can feel the weight of history in this story; everything seems to have its place, from the clothes they wear to the food they eat to the games they play, and everything in between. You get the sense that there are reasons to everything, and that there's also more to the story — more, even, than you could ever know. That is one of my favorite things about good world-building — when you feel like, as good as it is now, you've barely begun to scratch the surface. It feels like there's so much more, that there's a history and a cultural story that the author didn't just luck into, but thought about — researched and planned and truly understood, and then  pared down to what was needed for the story being told (so that it's rich and lush without being Infodump Overkill). That is what makes for good world-building.

One of my favorite things (which you may have guessed, since it's what I chose to discuss with Marie for the blog tour) is actually the culture-building aspects of the story. The Herrani and Valorian cultures both feel very real and immediate to me; the use of culture and all its hallmarks, both as a means of differentiating (both for the reader and for the characters "living" it), and as a means of bringing together and showing how alike people really are, no matter how hard they try not to be, was really well done. The two cultures and their backstories were distinct and interesting, and permeated the entire story, building a sense of place, and of a visual, palpable world. The reader is able to really feel the pace of life and the atmosphere, and be that much more engaged in the story as a result. Rutkoski gives enough detail on these cultures and their uneasy coexistence that you're always able to visualize the world — you can see Kestrel and Arin playing a game of Bite and Sting; you can picture the Herrani-turned-Valorian households, the clothing, the market. Everything feels very concrete and — for lack of a better term — camera-ready.

Add to this that the character dynamics were just spot on, and you've got yourself a winner. The dynamics, not just between Kestrel and Arin, which could have gone off the rails SO QUICKLY and yet never did, but with pretty much everyone, were handled perfectly. Nearly all of the interactions and relationships felt believable and relatable, very real and authentic. The Winner's Curse is very much a story of shifting power dynamics, and I loved the way Rutkoski explored that. It's not always a comfortable arena to explore, as power often brings out the worst in people (even more so when 'power' in this case often means a total loss of autonomy for not just individual characters, but entire segments of the population), but Rutkoski's exploration, and Kestrel's and Arin's narration, is unflinching and real, and that's something I always appreciate. (It's also something that I highly respect, and will make a story much more memorable to me — and thus much more likely that I'll recommend it.)

Now, I referenced a couple of minor reservations in the beginning of this review, so I do want to address those. I don't unreservedly love this book, but what reservations I do have are pretty easily outweighed by the things I loved. The timeline pre-book seems a bit too compressed to me; I would much rather the political/societal state be more entrenched and further along than a war that happened a scant decade ago. This is nit-picky, of course, but from a tension level and a convenience level, I personally would appreciate it more if both Kestrel and Arin were raised in a world where the current status quo isn't all that new, as I think it'd make their internal struggles and the conflicts more heightened. I mentioned convenience — having the war be in very recent times does allow the characters to somewhat remember a nebulous before, which helps in the Explaining of the Things, so I get it; but frankly, I've never been one to respect convenience in storytelling... It can seem too much like a plot crutch.

Similarly, there are some rushed moments at the end that almost felt rough to me, and I was a touch let down by them after the rest of what I found to be a very well-paced novel*... except that somehow I wasn't all that let down? I was bothered at first that anything started to feel rushed, because I so loved the pacing and the slow-burn of this book, and I didn't want to lose that — but then, there was something about the slightly rushed aspects that made it feel immediate, made it feel almost like a sensory experience of the chaos that was going on. It suited the plot, even though it felt like a pretty noticeable shift in storytelling, and because it felt intentional and calculated, it worked.  (Some things did feel borderline glossed-over, though, when I wanted to pore over everything.)

But as I said, this is mostly nit-picking, and for anything that detracted or made me question, there were a dozen other things that made me love this. I have a feeling that my enjoyment of the world and characters over the course of the series is going to grow exponentially. It's a meaty story, and I think as things unfold, there's going to be so much for me to sink my teeth into that I' going to eagerly await further installements, and push this on just about, well...everybody.
[And this is where I'd insert an especially cheesy line about how, with a good book, everyone's a winner, or there's no curse in having a good book in hand, etc., etc.  — only, I couldn't think of one brilliantly cheesy enough...]

So seriously. You should probably pre-order this one.
Just saying.

*People who don't love this quite the way the rest of us do seem to disagree with me on this point. Instead, they found the pacing slow in the beginning, and liked how quickly it moved at the end, so I guess it's all down to taste. I'll take a book that prizes development and paces accordingly any day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Culture Clash ~ guest post & giveaway from Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner's Curse

So, you guys have probably heard me talk about the fantasticness that is The Winner's Curse, the first book in a new series from Marie Rutkoski. I've kinda been talking about it a lot. This, of course, makes me super happy to be sharing that love* with you today as part of the blog tour for the book!

I asked Marie a couple of impossible questions that show how much I really just want to sit down and discuss this book with someone, and Marie graciously played along and attempted to pick apart and discuss one of the things that fascinated me most about The Winner's Curse, which is the massive culture clash going on.

Check out her post below, and then enter to win an awesome TWC prize pack! And make sure to stop by tomorrow for my full thoughts on this fab new book!

*Get it? 'Cause it's St. Valentine's Day? Get it? ...okay, I'm done.

The Herrani are known for their Culture (music, art, etc), and the Valorians (of the story, at least) are decidedly not - they're a young culture, settling atop the remains of one that's been settled and rooted in this place for years, and because of this, the Valorians are surrounded by examples of what their culture seems to lack (something they don't much seem to prize; rooms devoted to music and a completely different style of living, rooms/uses for things they can't begin to understand, because it's so far removed from their own style of life). How did this impact how you wrote the Valorians? How does it effect them as a people, living their lives atop the remains of someone else's?
 [see? told you I asked some ridiculous BIG questions. I want to discuss the things!]
These are very well phrased questions that begin already, I think, to hint at their answers.

Kimberly F. Hall has written a wonderful academic book called Things of Darkness: Economics of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. She’s interested in a period when Europe was exploring and conquering the so-called “New World.” One of Hall’s points is that it became very important for these Europeans to display their new exotic (and stolen) wealth—that portraiture of slaves, for example, came symbolically to show their masters’ power on many levels—over people, land, and money. Some of this influenced how I conceived of how the Valorians treat the remnants of the culture they had conquered. Even if they don’t understand it, they want to display it, because it is an everyday visual sign of their power.

I think it’s very dangerous to build one’s culture on the exploitation of another.
Kestrel and Arin seem to represent their respective people's opposites - Kestrel yearns for artistic expression and Arin is rather war-like. What do they reveal in each other's/their people's characters and circumstances? How does this make them a good fit for each other (or doesn't it)? On the one hand, they're star-crossed and all that jazz; on the other, they're sort of perfect complements to each other...
I like your observation that Kestrel and Arin represent their respective people’s opposites.

I feel pretty strongly that any relationship will be poisoned by a great difference in power between the two people concerned. Kestrel and Arin are pretty perfect for each other…except that one holds all the power.

But also, too, aren’t there different kinds of power? Aren’t we moved by art? If a book makes us cry, haven’t we given ourselves over to it? Very different than the power of someone with a weapon in his hand, sure. But it’s worth considering—and I think The Winner’s Curse considers this—not just the dynamics of power (who gets to be in control when) but also different expressions of power—sometimes even nice ones. Love, for example, holds great sway over us all.
Had the events of the book not transpired, do you see the Valorians becoming more Herrani in their way of life and the things they prize? Or would they remain as they are, disdainful of what came before?
This doesn’t quite answer your question, but as I wrote the book I did think about not necessarily America versus another culture, but rather the culture wars in American society—meaning, the ways in which our one culture can be at odds with itself over big topics—the right to bear arms, military intervention in the world, universal health care, funding for the humanities…cultures aren’t uniform. We know that.

My thoughts—and this is some of what we see in Book 2—is that the Valorian culture is becoming quite divided between people who fight and those who do not.

And if the events of The Winner’s Curse hadn’t transpired? The Herrani once thought they couldn’t be conquered. The Valorians would have been like them in that way. But I think they would have kept their disdain for the Herrani, at least for many, many generations. It’s hard to overcome, I think, the self-told lies of superiority that allows one group of people to believe it’s ok to conquer another.

I know you want this book. You know you want this book. Rafflecopter knows you want this book - or it will as soon as you click some buttons!
The awesome folks at Macmillan have offered up a The Winner's Curse prize pack, including a copy of the book and some awesome swag made by Marie! This is open to US mailing addresses only, and ends March 1st, the best day of the year!* Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Good luck!
PLEASE do not leave sensitive info, mailing addresses or email addresses in the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* It's the birthday of awesome people. Just saying... ;)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Get It | Add It
Fantasy/Historical, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Friday Face Off: Dark Parties

Earlier this week, Sara Grant's Dark Parties was in the kindle daily deals, which is how I came to realize it has a different cover from the one that graces my hardcover copy. And lo, a Face Off was born...
Below are the original US and the paperback US covers for the book. I'm also including the original UK cover (right), because waaaaaaay back when I read this one, I'd intended to do a Face Off of the US/UK covers then. Apparently that didn't happen...
Take a look at the three (and the synopsis below, if you haven't read the book), and then tell us in the comments which you think best suits. Which would you rather have on your shelves? Which would you reach for in the bookstore?
Which one did it better?

Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...
Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.
Get It | Add It

Last Week on FFO: The original and redone covers for Amy Christine Parker's Gated went head to head, and though  few of you liked the old cover and found it creepy, it leaned a little sci-fi; most of you agreed with the choice to redo the cover, and the shiny new look won the day.
Winner ----------> 

SIDE NOTE: As part of #WednesdayYA this month, we had an impromptu Friday-not-Friday Face Off for Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken. Voting is still going on, so come weigh in!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Feral by Holly Schindler!

There's just something about thrillers lately that's really calling to me, and Holly Schindler's Feral promises to be just that!  I'm always especially eager for any book that promises I'll begin to doubt what I think I know about the book, so this one definitely has me intrigued.
But really - you had me at Peculiar*, Missouri... ;)

Check out the eerie cover for Feral below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments! This one on your to-get list?

Feral by Holly Schindler
Contemporary/Thriller, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 26th 2014 by Harper Teen
It’s too late for you. You’re dead.

Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.

Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .

With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.

*No, seriously. I have a thing for quirky town names; that alone was enough to make me want to read this. The fact that it sounds damn good? Bonus.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Impromptu Unspoken Face Off + Trailer | #WednesdayYA

Hey there, and welcome to a not-so-Friday edition of Friday Face Off! When I was putting together this month's #WednesdayYA introduction, I thought that the covers for this month's pick, Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken, would make an excellent Face Off - so here we have it. Take a look at the two covers and then, just like a normal Friday Face Off, let us know in the comments which cover you think nailed it (if any). Which would you reach for? Which would you rather have on your shelves, and if you've read it, which do you think suits the story better?  In short,
Which one did it better? 

UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


Trailer times! Feel free to use the trailer and/or the synopsis in making your decision.

And remember, if you'd like to join the #WednesdayYA book club, we'd love to have you! There's still plenty of time to pick up a copy of Unspoken and join in!
We'll be hosting a twitter chat next Wednesday to discuss the book, but anyone is welcome to chime in at any time, so please, come be part of our club! =D

Want more #WednesdayYA?
Click the button to see what we've done so far!

Monday, February 10, 2014

BOOK HAUL: (more) January 2014

What can I say? All the winter weather and this HORRIBLE Polar Vortex nonsense has meant a cooped-up, snowbound Misty. And what does a cooped-up, snowbound Misty do better than think about (and shop for...) books?

Titan Magic: Body & Soul | Jodi Lamm
Fire | Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
The Weight of Blood | Laura McHugh
Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow | Jessica Day George
Across the Great Barrier | Patricia C. Wrede
Glass Heart | Amy Garvey
Arclight | Josin L. McQuein
Lies Beneath | Anne Greenwood Brown
Masque of the Red Death | Bethany Griffin

Titan Magic
The Circle
Princess of the Midnight Ball
The Thirteenth Child

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Guest post from George O'Connor, author of The Olympians series + GIVEAWAY | Aphrodite Blog Tour

Anyone who knows me (and probably most of you, who internet-know me) knows that when it comes to mythology, I'm always down. From the time I was a very small child, I've just eaten it up, thanks to healthy doses of things like Clash of the Titans, Conan/Red Sonja, The Beastmaster, Hercules/Xena, etc., etc. (ie, all of the things that my dad and I watched OVER AND OVER, much to the chagrin of my mom). Can't get enough.
So of course, I was more than happy to have George O'Connor, author of the graphic novel series, The Olympians, stop by to chat with us about the latest installment, Aphrodite: Goddess of Love - and give YOU a chance to win a copy!
Enjoy and good luck! =)

Hi, all you Book Rat-ifiers, my name is George O’Connor and I’ll be your guest blogger for today. I’m making a blogcrawl in celebration of my new book Aphrodite: Goddess of Love and the good ratfolks at Book Rat have been kind enough to lend me their platform. Aphrodite is the sixth volume of Olympians, an ongoing graphic novel series that I write and draw which retells classic Greek Myth, one deity at a time.
Book Rat is my eighth stop on my Aphrodite blogcrawl, and I try to draw inspiration on what to write (because most of my hosts have rather foolhardily allowed me to choose my topic of rumination—bwahahaha…) from either the blog’s mission statement or title. Now, Book Rat, that’s pretty evocative to be sure, but of what? Rats don’t feature all that much into Greek mythology (I guess because this was in the days before the Norway rat swept over the world to its current level of prominence). The only Olympian with any sort of rat connection I can really think of is Apollo, both due to his role in bringing plagues and in protecting harvests from locusts and rats. But that’ snot fun to write, and besides we’re here to talk about Aphrodite.
So, I thought, extending my brain, what other connotation does ‘rat’ have, besides the larger mouse-like mammal? Before we go any further, I do want to say that I like rats. I have a few friends with pet rats, and they’re delightful and affectionate animals. AS a New Yorker, there are many times that I have been entertained by their antics, running around in the subways.  Rats, by which I mean the rodents, are good people. Which I say, because of course, a rat is also a term for a decidedly bad type of person.  A dis-trustworthy, unreliable, sneaky type of person. NOT THE SORT OF PERSON ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS BLOG WOULD EVER, EVER BE CONFUSED WITH.
Aphrodite is not a rat. She’s a being of pure love, literally. She has had her share of affairs and certainly that involved sneaking around, but that’s because, as a being of pure love, she has a lot of love to share. Human morality doesn’t apply to Olympians Gods. If it did, the myths sure would be a lot more dull, and I certainly would have a lot less readers.  No the ‘rat’ in Aphrodite is none other than Zeus, King of the Gods himself.
At this point I invite the reader to take an examination of the cover of Aphrodite: Goddess of Love with me. Front and center is the beauteous Goddess of Love herself, holding aloft the golden apple, her prize for winning the Judgment of Paris. Beneath her winged son Eros (Cupid), her lovely attendants the Charites give their adulation; ion the right side, Athena and Hera, her competition in the Judgment of Paris, look on scowlingly. And there, behind Hera, is Zeus himself. The dirty look on his wife’s face is nothing compared to the look on his. Additionally, he has his back turned to Aphrodite, a sure sign of his displeasure. But why?
Aphrodite, as I mentioned, is a being of pure love, a self-made deity wrought from sea foam and pure Eros, the love force, the generative power of the Cosmos. Zeus, as even someone with the most casual acquaintance with Greek myth will know, is a God who likes the ladies. His greatest love is power, but his every other love after that is every other pretty face he sees. His greatest weakness, in effect, is that he falls in love every few minutes or so. And Aphrodite, lover personified, who just to be in her presence is to fall in love, has the ability to make Zeus fall under the sway of love’s power. Over and over and over again.
Zeus is threatened by the power of Aphrodite (not the first time a man has felt threatened by a powerful woman, certainly not the last). Zeus, who loves being the King of Gods and all the attendant power that brings, feels threatened by this newcomer Aphrodite, who moments after she comes ashore after her self-creation already has the gods at each other’s throats, vying for her attentions. This goddess can cause me some problems, thought the king of gods and men. So he engineers a power play. He positions himself as a father figure to Aphrodite, and marries her off to his son, Hephaistos. And when that move still doesn’t control her enough, he engineers a contest, a power struggle between Aphrodite and the two other most powerful goddesses on Olympus, Hera and Athena.  Power struggle designed in the most degrading way possible, as a beauty contest, and one judged by a mortal at that.
And that is the story of the book Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, and the story of that book’s rat.

The folks at First, Second have offered up a copy of Aphrodite to one lucky winner in the US or CAN. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway ends February 22nd at 12am EST. Winner will have 48 hours to respond with shipping info, or a new winner will be chosen.
PLEASE do not leave sensitive info, mailing addresses, or email addresses in the comments!

And make sure you check out more on the Aphrodite blog tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Aphrodite: Goddess of Love by George O'Connor
Get It | Add It
Mythology/Graphic Novel, 80 pages
Published December 31st 2013 by First Second
In volume six of Olympians, graphic novel author/artist George O'Connor turns the spotlight on Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Look for the same thoroughly researched and wonderfully accessible comics storytelling as O'Connor tackles the story of the Aphrodite from her dramatic birth (emerging from sea-foam) to her role in the Trojan War.

O'Connor has outdone himself with this volume: the story is riveting and the artwork is beyond compare. Greek mythology has never been so vivid!

George O'Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Face Off: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

I hadn't even heard of this book until a few days ago, when suddenly it — and its shiny new cover design — were suddenly everywhere. The cover in question is for Gated by Amy Christine Parker, and the whole things was restyled in advance of the sequel, Astray (which cover I kinda love). I don't know how this one wasn't already on my radar, 'cause CULTS, but rest assured, it is now.
I've included the synopsis below, since the covers are so different, so you can use it (if you want) to help you make your decision on which cover you like better. Which suits the story best for you? Which would you rather have on your shelves?
Which one did it better?

A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths.

Appearances can be deceiving.

In the Community, life seems perfect. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited Lyla’s family to join his group and escape the evil in the world. They were happy to be chosen, happy to move away from New York and start over in such an idyllic gated community. Now seventeen, Lyla knows that Pioneer is more than just their charismatic leader, he is their prophet . . . but his visions have grown dark.

Lyla is a loyal member of the Community, but a chance encounter with an outsider boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community—everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. Her family and friends are certain in their belief. Lyla wishes she could feel the same. As Pioneer begins to manipulate his flock toward disaster, the question remains: Will Lyla follow them over the edge?

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story of the Community from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker’s beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.

Last Week on FFO: The ARC version took on the finished version of Jennifer Mathieu's upcoming The Truth About Alice, and to be honest, it wasn't really a fair fight, considering the one wasn't the final cover anyway... But it was a good cover in its own right, and it did have its share of supporters. But in the end, that wasn't enough to stop the amazingness that is the final cover.
Winner ---------> 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

JANUARY REWIND: Mini reviews of the books I read in January! [2014]

Hey, there.
This is what I thought of the sizable stack of books I read in January (good month!); because this video is on the longish side, each of the books is time-stamped below so you can jump around to the ones you're curious about, if you'd like. Otherwise, settle in, 'cause I'ma talk your face off about all the awesome books I read this month. =D

(0:33) Keturah & Lord Death | Martine Leavitt
(1:33) Once a Witch | Carolyn MacCullough
(2:00) Shatter Me | Tahereh Mafi
(4:49) Something Real | Heather Demetrios
(7:05) Tin Star | Cecil Castellucci
(9:38) Delilah Dirk & the Turkish Lieutenant | Tony Cliff
(10:39) The Cute Girl Network | Greg Means, MK Reed & Joe Flood
(11:34) The Undertaking of Lily Chen | Danica Novgorodoff

Wednesday YA: Shatter Me
Laini Taylor
Something Real review
Something Real giveaway
Guest post from Heather Demetrios
Boxers & Saints
In the Age of Love and Chocolate

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Introducing February's #WednesdayYA Book Club pick: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan!

Last week, we asked you to vote on February's #WednesdayYA book club pick, and you guys wasted no time in showing a clear preference, so this month, we'll be reading...

UNSPOKEN by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

I have to say, I'm pretty excited that this one won, because though I bought it on cover appeal I wanted it on pure cover appeal* (silhouettes!), I've heard endless good things about it, and am definitely curious! I probably should have been pulling for one of the other choices, Sisters Red, because I could have used the review in Fairy Tale Fortnight, but I don't even currr, I'm ready for this one!

But also . . . um - guys?
. . . should we be worried? O_O

Anyway, if you've been meaning to read Unspoken, or even if you haven't, but are like, Oooh, bookclub!, feel free to join Liz and I throughout the month of February as we read and discuss this book for #WednesdayYA!  And if you've already read it, feel free to chime in throughout February, and join us for the twitter chat on the 19th.

Now, before I let you go, I have one question: What would YOU like to see for next week's #WYA post? For Shatter Me, I did an excerpt vlog and an instagram quote post - would you like to see one of those, or is there some other way you'd like me to feature Unspoken this month? 

Let me know in the comments, and I'm looking forward to chatting with you guys about this Wednesdays throughout February!

*Edit: Liz bought this for me, in her ever-fantasticness. ;)

Monday, February 3, 2014

February TBR | 2014

Hey guys, this is my TBR for February. Still fiddling with the new webcam, and though I finally got it to record in the right aspect ratio...now it's not wanting to sync up in some spots of the video. See, this is why I hate webcams. Bear with me, and sorry for the weirdness!

Here's to keeping my fingers crossed that I'm actually going to be able to get through this stack...

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict | Laurie Viera Rigler
Beauty | Nancy Ohlin
Sorrow's Knot | Erin Bow
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland | Catherynne M. Valente
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy | Karen Foxlee
Plus One | Elizabeth Fama
Love Letters to the Dead | Ava Dellaira
And whichever book wins the voting for WednesdayYA (either Sisters Red, The Last Dragonslayer, or Unspoken)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Giveaway: Something Real by Heather Demetrios!

Alright, you've read my (weird, rambly) thoughts on why I loved Something Real.
You've gotten tips from Heather on how to deal.
Now it's time to try to win a copy for yourself! 

To celebrate the release of Heather Demetrios' Something Real, the awesome folks at Macmillan have offered up a copy to one lucky winner! Open to the US, ends February 15th. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. PLEASE do not leave sensitive info, mailing addresses or email addresses in the comments!
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Get It | Add It
416 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Henry Holt BYR
Winner of the 2012 PEN New England Discovery Award!

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.


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