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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci | Blog Tour



Many of you know how much I loved last year's Tin Star, which I never seemed to stop talking about. If you don't know, here's a refresher. As soon as I found out there was going to be a sequel, my fingers started itching for it, and it planted its self pretty firmly near the top of my must-haves list. So of course, I was very eager indeed to be part of the Stone in the Sky blog tour, and share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated book with you.

[And since this is a sequel, it should go without saying that there may be spoilers for the first book. I say should because it never ceases to amaze me, the things people will cry 'spoiler!' at...]

Now, it should be said, I'm always a little hesitant going into a follow-up to a book I loved. Sophomore Slump and all that, but the truth is, it's not just hard to capture the things that made me love it in the first place; sometimes it's downright impossible. I think such is the case with a series like this, because what made me love it so thoroughly the first time around was the isolation and cold-fish-ness of Tula, which is slowly chipped away by new connections and a new life forged. You can't really recreate that in a sequel, because Tula is beyond that. So the trick for a sequel, then, is not recreating what I loved, but about giving me something new to love. Castellucci does this by sending Tula out into the Great Unknown, forcing her out of the comfortable niche she's carved for herself on the Yertina Feray, and out of the arms of my favorite alien, Tournour. She's alone again, and in peril, so it echoes her experiences of Tin Star, and allows her to prove herself once again, but it's a new venue, a new set of challenges and goals, and I appreciated that.

I like exploring more of the world(s), and that there are still hard times for Tula and the people she meets. In both Tin Star and Stone in the Sky, Castellucci has not shied away from pain and heartache, and just the stark realities of trying to cobble together a life out of barren, hardscrabble worlds. In some ways, this book goes even darker in the actual subject matter, but because of the things Tula has experienced and the people she finds herself now surrounded by (no longer alone!), there is a strong savor of hope. There's a tenacity about Tula that I absolutely love, and I also love that people she meets admire and respond to it. It's a quality that would be very helpful, if not downright necessary, in such a setting, I would think, and Tula puts it to good use. Even when she's selling herself short or downplaying her own role in things, she makes things happen, she fights for what she wants to happen, and I am a big fan of that. From the very beginning of the first chapter of Tin Star, when Tula is literally fighting for her life, straight through to the end of Stone in the Sky, she never gives up reaching and growing and making things happen -- even when the odds are practically non-existent.

And at the core of the story, Tula is still Tula. I said in my review of Tin Star that part of the reason I love the book and Tula is because "I gravitate towards prickly people and hopeless situations," and Tula gives me that, both in her being somewhat prickly and often in seemingly hopeless situations, but also because I feel like she gravitates toward prickly people and hopeless situations. She doesn't shy away from daunting challenges, and she draws people to her against all odds, and by the time Stone in the Sky comes to a close, Tula has really come into her own. She's grown, but she's still her, in all of her prickly, cold-fishy tenacity that I adored the first time around.  The same disclaimers from the first book still apply, in that I don't think this is the book/series for everyone. It is slow, in a slow-burning way that I personally enjoy (so I don't really feel it's slow, but that was the complaint I saw most), and I'm sure some people still just won't connect to Tula or her world. I also felt that there were times, especially as it neared the end, that it felt a little rushed or chaotic, and I actually wished it would have slowed down and lingered over some things.  But no book is the book for everybody, and for me, I'll always gladly take more Tula Bane (and Tournour!), and this series that isn't really like anything else out there right now. And I have a feeling that these characters will stick with me for some time to come, and when you fly through things and then promptly forget them, the way I do, saying something's memorable is high praise indeed.


And with that, the Stone in the Sky blog tour is a wrap! Check out the full list of stops on Cecil's blog for any reviews or interviews you may have missed!


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci
Get It | Add It
Sci-Fi, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.



After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.


Cecil Castellucci is an author of young adult novels and comic books. Titles include Boy Proof, The Year of the Beasts (illustrated by Nate Powell), First Day on Earth, Rose Sees Red, Beige, The Queen of Cool The Plain Janes and Janes in Love (illustrated by Jim Rugg), Tin Star and Odd Duck (illustrated by Sara Varon).


Her short stories have been published in various places including Black Clock, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine and can be found in such anthologies such as After, Teeth, Truth & Dare, The Eternal Kiss, Sideshow and Interfictions 2 and the anthology, which she co-edited, Geektastic.

She is the recipient of the California Book Award Gold Medal for her picture book Grandma's Gloves, illustrated by Julia Denos and the Shuster Award for Best Canadian Comic Book Writer for The Plain Janes. The Year of the Beasts was a finalist for the PEN USA literary award and Odd Duck was Eisner nominated.

She splits her time between the heart and the head and lives north and south of everything. Her hands are small. And she likes you very much.




Thursday, February 26, 2015

Count Spatula's Guide to Baking blog tour!


I can't remember a time of my life that I wasn't a foodie. I can remember avidly watching Julia Child & Jacques Pepin on PBS as a toddler, and I can remember rushing home throughout my pre-teen and teen years to watch Daisy Martinez cook and act saucy, or lose myself in Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, and being very irritated if I missed either one. (Once again, thank you PBS.) Normal pursuits for a kid to obsess over? Can't say, but I have a feeling the answer is no. But such was my life, and frankly, still is, and I can't remember a time I haven't loved to see people prepare or talk about or savor and enjoy food.

Except for jello.

Which is why I find it moderately hilarious that for my leg of the Princess Decomposia & Count Spatula blog tour today, I have said Count talking about, of all things, jello.  Now, don't get me wrong, I've eaten jello (and had my fair share of jello shots...), so it's not a taste thing. I blame it on many, many childhood viewings of The Blob, actually, and on that uncanny jiggling. *shudder*
(But strangely enough, I kinda like jello jigglers. Go figure.)

But that said, I do understand that gelatin has a long and storied history, and there is a case to be made for the humble jello.
So I'll allow the Count to make that case...
Enjoy, and let me know if you have weird foodie quirks like this in the comments!



On Jello by Count Spatula


Jello, that colourful, wobbly delicious delight we remember from our childhood. Some chefs believe jello is best confined to children's birthday parties and is beneath their notice. I find it a remarkably flexible dessert, not only in concert with other ingredients to make trifles and (in very rare cases) salad, but in its own right. Quick and easy to make in bulk, I've found jello has remarkable properties when combined with a little bit of imagination and a touch of magic. At it's most advanced, jello work should be regarded with the same respect as sugar craft. Below are just some of my signature dishes using this enchanting dessert.


Jelly Babies. Once eaten these gelatinous treats produce peculiar effects. Firstly, once consumed, the eater loses the power of speech and can only communicate in a variety of gurgles and burbles. Friends and relatives may find this adorable or repulsive. Brief periods of deep sleep are punctuated by lengthy bouts of inconsolable crying. The tears produced are thick and sticky and share the bright colour of jello. Due to these strange effects, those who eat the jelly babies are often taken home early by a responsible adult and told that they're 'overtired'. Do not fly or use heavy machinery after eating.

Jelly Teen. These larger and slightly more mature jelly babies share a similar recipe. The effects again involve the loss of speech, although this is through choice rather than lack of vocal development. Grunts and nods replace gurgles as a method of communication. Long, deep periods of sleep are punctuated by sulking, mood swings and violent slamming of doors. Those who have eaten jelly teens inevitably end up confining themselves to their bedroom and refuse to come out for meals.

Jelly Mould. Jelly left out or in the back of cold storage for extended periods will develop this virulent bacteria. Any jelly showing signs of the mould should not be eaten. Those who consume jelly mould will exhibit symptoms of jelly poisoning, these include: nausea; uncontrollable quivering; lime, strawberry and blackcurrant flavoured mucus and, in the most severe cases, a visibly transparent complexion. A hot bath, anti-gelatin tablets and eating absorbent sponge fingers usually cure the problem.




ABOUT THE BOOK:
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson
Get It | Add It
Graphic Novel, 176 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by First Second
Princess Decomposia is overworked and underappreciated.

This princess of the underworld has plenty of her own work to do but always seems to find herself doing her layabout father's job, as well. The king doesn't feel quite well, you see. Ever. So the princess is left scurrying through the halls, dodging her mummy, werewolf, and ghost subjects, always running behind and always buried under a ton of paperwork. Oh, and her father just fired the chef, so now she has to hire a new cook as well.

Luckily for Princess Decomposia, she makes a good hire in Count Spatula, the vampire chef with a sweet tooth. He's a charming go-getter of a blood-sucker, and pretty soon the two young ghouls become friends. And then...more than friends? Maybe eventually, but first Princess Decomposia has to sort out her life. And with Count Spatula at her side, you can be sure she'll succeed.

Andi Watson (Glister, Gum Girl) brings his signature gothy-cute sensibility to this very sweet and mildly spooky tale of friendship, family, and management training for the undead.

Andrew "Andi" Watson (born 1969) is a British cartoonist and illustrator best known for the graphic novels Breakfast After Noon, Slow News Day and his series Love Fights, published by Oni Press and Slave Labor Graphics.

Watson has also worked for more mainstream American comic publishers with some work at DC Comics, a twelve-issue limited series at Marvel Comics, with the majority at Dark Horse Comics, moving recently to Image Comics.

CHECK OUT MORE OF THE COUNT SPATULA'S GUIDE TO BAKING BLOG TOUR HERE!

Dark Triumph Wrap-Up | #WednesdayYA live show

In case you missed it last night, or want to rewatch any of our awkwardness and antics, here is this month's #WednesdayYA live show!
This month, we were discussing Robin LaFever's Dark Triumph, the second book in the His Fair Assassin series, which I think it may be safe to say, Liz and I are fully in love with. It's rare that we have not one single negative thing to say, but this was a pretty glowing -- and animated -- discussion.

Check it out below and feel free to weigh in on the book, or our antics, in the comments! And stay tuned to the end or keep an eye out for next week's WYA post, for the announcement of March's group read!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FEBRUARY BOOK HAUL!

I probably should have waited on this, since I got a pretty incredible package right after uploading this, but I knew I wouldn't get another chance too soon, so here is my February book haul (not including the last 4 days or so of the month -- those goodies will just have to wait for the March haul!). Check out the video below, and let me know in the comments what you think of the books and this month of amazing surprise goodies! And of course, share some of the things you're excited to have added to your shelves this month. =)



THE BOOKS:
At the Water's Edge | Sara Gruen
Lying Out Loud | Kody Keplinger
Salt & Stone | Victoria Scott
The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise | Matthew Crow
The 5th Wave | Rick Yancey
Tear You Apart | Sarah Cross
The World Within | Jane Eagland
The Witch Hunters | Virginia Boecker

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cover Reveal: GUYS READ: TERRIFYING TALES

I don't know about you, but I was massively into scary stories as a kid. Blame it on R.L. Stine, Alvin Schwartz, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, or the many, many bad B horror movie marathons I had with my dad as a kid, but whatever it was, I just couldn't get enough of them.

And though I may not have ever been a guy, I would have been all over the latest installment from the Guys Read series of books (but secretly. Because even though I loved scary stories, I dug in my heels a bit when something explicitly stated it was for boys. Because smelly gym socks and fart jokes, or whatever. I still would have read it, but it probably would have been covert-like*...)

But that said, I think it's great when boys are actively encouraged to read (and scary stories, all the better!), and you add in the contributing authors and the fact that it's edited by the hilarious & awesome Jon Scieszka — whose name I can both pronounce and spell without googling it, BOOM — and I think we've got a winner!

And of course, I am very pleased to be revealing its cover to you today! Designed by graphic novelist Gris Grimly, who also illustrates the stories, it has that perfect blend of quirky humor and ugh, skin-crawling, bugs in the hair THERE ARE BUGS IN HER HAIR thing going on.
That thing.

Check it out below, and let me know what you think in the comments!

Guys Read: Terrifying Tales edited by Jon Scieszka, illus. by Gris Grimly 
Sept. 1, hardcover and paperback, $16.99 and $6.99, 
ISBN 9780062385581 and 9780062385574
The sixth installment in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading includes ten all-new, original horror stories from R. L. Stine, Kelly Barnhill, Michael Buckley, Rita Williams Garcia, Adam Gidwitz, Claire Legrand, Daniel José Older, Nikki Loftin and more. Ages 8-12

*That is, until someone told me that I couldn't read it, because I was a girl. And then I would have read the ever-loving out of it, in public, just to prove a point.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK, vol. 1

So, this was supposed to go up LAST Wednesday, hence the Valentine's references. Just ignore those, it's still a fun game to play any time of year — so play along and enjoy your blind date!

How this works:
I've given you 3 categories of books to choose from. You'll click on the category you want (either in the video, or below), and be taken to a new video.
That new video will give you TWO blind date options. You'll decide which book is right for you and click on it, which will take you to a reveal of your "blind date".
Have fun with it, and let me know what you think if you end up spending some time with your blind date book!



The Categories:
Reader Seeking Romance: http://youtu.be/WOhDm6oM-Xg
Down with Love: http://youtu.be/IXbBH4ICVqs
Anything Goes: http://youtu.be/VR4LI23OY1Y

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente Blog Tour & Giveaway!!

"A Changeling is a little bomb dropped by Fairyland upon the human world for fun and profit."

I'm very pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente today! I've been an eager follower of this series from the beginning, and though, as some of you know, I had a weird reading funk where the third book unfortunately got left by the wayside, I'm glad to say that with this new installment (one very different from the ones that came before it), I've fallen right back into Fairyland — or should I say, out of Fairyland, as it is invading our turf this time 'round!

I've decided to save my full review for this year's Fairy Tale Fortnight, which I announced yesterday, because these books are just too good a fit to not include, but until then, I thought I'd treat you to a little snippet of the book. This scene, just after the Red Wind has spirited away a little troll-boy named Hawthorne, to replace him as a Changeling with a human from our world, was the first scene to really make me excited. Now, there had been plenty of lines and turns of phrase before this point that charmed, tickled and delighted me, but this scene, when I realized that this new book meant that we'd get to see Valente turn her hand to bringing out the absurd and fantastical in our own world, brought a very big smile to my face.

I love a good whimsical created world, I truly do, but I think the thing I love even more is when that whimsy spills over into our own world, seeps into our history and our ways of life, and tints it all in rose-colored magic. I love the places your mind can go with the alternate universes's"new information," and I love seeing how real people and events shape the authors decisions, and then our world is reshaped by those decisions, and on and on in this intricate tangle of real and make-believe. It delights the child and the creative person in me, as well as the absurdist, and this scene let me know that Fairyland number 4 would give me that in abundance — at least for a little while...

Enjoy the excerpt below, and then enter to win a copy of The Boy Who Lost Fairyland for yourself!
And don't forget to stop back by during Fairy Tale Fortnight for my full review of the book!

from The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente. Quoted from an advance copy, so wording may not be final. Any typos likely mine (but I tried to catch them all!)
"PARCEL?" the creature barked thunderously.
"What is that?" whispered Hawthorn.
The Red Wind smiled slowly, her whole face filling up with wicked delight. "Why that, my excitable little emerald, is a human. I should get acquainted, if I were you. I daresay you'll be seeing more of them."
"Can I touch it?"
The human scowled. "I've never heard the like!" she snapped. "How would you like it if I asked to touch you?"
Hawthorn shrugged. "You can touch me if you want," he said softly. And reached up his hand.
The human narrowed her eyes. She puffed out her cheeks like a great fish. Then she gave a short, hard laugh like a stamp marking a form and touched his fingers with hers. Her skin was soft and warm. His was hard and cold as stone — but for a troll, as hard and cold as stone is just the warmest and most wonderful thing to be.
"Pleased to meet you," said the human. "I am the Postmaster General for the Commonwealth of Australia. You may call me Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Everyone does."
"You don't look like a Mr. Benjamin," Hawthorn ventured.
The Postmaster General shuffled several envelopes together and tied them with twine before chucking them behind her into a large canvas bin.
"Long ago," the Red Wind explained, "a wizard called Benjamin Franklin became so powerful, by means of a magical lightning-wand and an excellent wig and a fell familiar in the shape of a kite, that he was made Postmaster of a vast kingdom. Using his monstrous magics, he, the kite, and the wig founded the Grand Society of the Golden Postilion, of which all Postmasters are members. That is why they are called Masters, you know. Each and every one of them is a great Master of Questing Physicks. How else could a magical sword find its way to the bottom of a lake just in time for a little baby kinglet to wander by? Or a coat of many colors to a shepherd's shoulders, or a spinning wheel to a locked and hidden room, or a girl in the shell of a hazelnut to an elderly couple longing for children? The Post is how the end of a story gets shipped safely to the beginning."

****GIVEAWAY****
Thanks to the awesome people at Macmillan, I've got one copy of Catherynne M. Valente's The Boy Who Lost Fairyland to give away to one lucky winner! Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry international peeps! Keep an eye out for giveaways during FTF!), and will run through the end of the blog tour/publication date of March 3rd! Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter.
Good luck, and make sure to visit the rest of the stops on the Fairyland blog tour!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


ABOUT THE BOOK
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 256 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling – a human boy -- in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes. Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers. Hawthorn finds himself at the center of a changeling revolution--until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant.

Time magazine has praised Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland books as "one of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century." In this fourth installment of her saga, Valente 's wisdom and wit will charm readers of all ages.


Catherynne M. Valente is the author of over a dozen books of fiction and poetry. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her husband, two dogs, and an enormous cat. Visit her online at catherynnemvalente.com or on Twitter at @catvalente.

Ana Juan is a world-renowned illustrator best known in this country for her wonderful New Yorker magazine covers. She lives in Spain. Visit her online at anajuan.net.

Monday, February 16, 2015

FAIRY TALE FORTNIGHT 2015 INVITATION!!

YOU GUYS.
Fairy Tale Fortnight is turning five this year! That's right, this makes half a decade since I started filling up your Springtimes with all the fairy tale lovin' I could muster, with the help of one co-host (Ashley) or another (Bonnie).
When I started FTF, I never imagined that there were that many of you out there who love fairy tales just as much as I do (and some of you, even more!), or that throughout the year, I'd have people emailing, tweeting and messaging me about things they wanted to do for the next year's Fairy Tale Fortnight. It still gives me a giddy little thrill every time someone tells me they're planning their reading stack around it, or have eagerly been awaiting the announcement of when it will be held.
I mean, it's kind of amazing, guys.
And I love you for it.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I inform you that Fairy Tale Fortnight dates have been set, and the beginnings of the feverish planning conversations have been had between Bonnie and I; and making it even more official-er, the button has been made! I give you this year's FTF button, Whimsical Fairy Antlered Girl!


Okay, so yeah, there's probably a better way to say that, but this is what I've been referring to her as in my head for weeks now, so Whimsical Fairy Antlered Girl it is. ^_^
Thank you muchly to faestock & TinaLouiseUK for the images I used to create this year's button -- you gals rock! Feel free to share this button if/when you post about Fairy Tale Fortnight, or if you do your own FTF reading/reviewing/giveaway-ing, etc., this year.

Now, let's get down to the business of thingshttp://www.thebookrat.com/2011/04/fairy-tale-fortnight-schedule-of.html, 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 Wednesday, April 1st and Tuesday, April 14th.
  • 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 to share fairy tale-related posts throughout the event. For those who want to be even more involved, we also invite people to be featured guests 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
  • Still have questions on how this whole thing works? Check out the schedules for year oneyear twoyear three and year four 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!!

PLEASE NOTE: IF you are an author who would like to be involved or have your book featured in Fairy Tale Fortnight, please email me or Bonnie directly. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Question about Questions + Shadow Scale excerpt!

I'm writing interview questions for Rachel right now, so let me know in the comments any questions YOU have for her!
And until that interview, review & giveaway for Shadow Scale are live, you can get your Seraphina fix right now with this excerpt of Shadow Scale!

And uh...ignore the changing light - I lost some clips and had to rerecord them. Thanks for watching!



SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 608 pages
Expected publication: March 10th 2015 by Random House Children's Books
Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ares (and the rest of The Olympians...) by George O'Connor | blog tour



I mentioned in a book haul not long ago that I was asked to be part of the blog tour for the next installment in George O'Connor's Olympians series, Ares, and that when I said yes (yay, mythology!), the fine folks at FirstSecond not only sent me that book, but the entire boxed set — further cementing that they are amazeballs. And yes, I still said amazeballs in 2015.

Now, the reason for this (beyond said amazeballs), I'd imagine, is that I expressed a little trepidation at jumping into the series at book 7. Though I know it's a retelling of Greek myths, I wasn't sure what kind of retelling it'd be; so though I'm very familiar with Greek mythology, that's not to say that I'd be familiar with O'Connor's spin. I mean, Kendare Blake's Antigoddess is fabulous, but it's hardly a traditional retelling; same: Percy Jackson; same: everything else out there. But I needn't have worried — there's no spin! I mean, that's not to say there's no interpretation, or picking and choosing which aspects of which tales to highlight, because of course there is. But the series is more like careful curation; it presents these timeless stories just as they've always been, but in the fantastic modern medium of the graphic novel. It's faithful, but playful. And this may be weird to say, but it's kinda ballsy. In a time when everyone's looking to bank on their own twist of the well-known, it's refreshing to see someone say, Nope, these stories have stood the test of time for millennia now, so I'd much rather give you an excellent presentation of them than a modern, watered-down version*.
*She says, fully loving the "modern, watered-down versions" too. I'll take 'em any way I can get 'em. 

This means that you really can pick the series up at any volume. You can stock your classrooms & libraries with them, or give it to newly minted mythology buffs to fall in love with — and let me tell you, I would have adored these as a kid, when I was just getting into mythology and wanted everything I could get my hands on. And though I loved Hercules and Xena and Clash of the Titans as much as any other weirdo 12 year old obsessed with the Greeks, I was a very particular child, and would get a little grumbly about the things they *shudder* GOT WRONG. A faithful and yet lively adaptation such as these would have been an instant favorite. (And still is, now.)
Art copyright
George O'Connor / FirstSecond books

But beyond the faithfulness and clarity of the presentation, I would have fallen in love with (and have fallen in love with) the artistic and narrative choices O'Connor makes. I had a feeling from almost the first moment of Zeus that I was going to love these (and I say first moment, but actually I think it was literally the first, nearly-blank page, that gave me the love-this feeling); little touches like this recurring thematic thread (right) of having 'too much of his father in him' cemented it. Which means by page 10, I was in love.  This example might seem a little silly or meaningless to some of you, but it struck me for a few reasons: 1) it's a solid storytelling & artistic choice, to have the "father" (the stars) physically represented as being a part of Kronos and Zeus, 2) it's a striking image, and 3) it so perfectly and simply encapsulates the core of these myths, and how its actors are doomed to repeat the mistakes that came before them. So many Greek myths are about inescapable-ness and self-fulfilling prophecies, and to succinctly and strikingly capture  that aspect so simply basically immediately won me over.

But whether those little details are likely to win you over or not, the fact remains that this is a very strong adaptation of Greek mythology, both in the art and the storytelling, and I highly recommend them.


If you've read any of the Olympians series, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Or, if you haven't but are a fan of mythology, please share your favorite god/dess or myth! Personally, I've always gone back and forth between a number of the gods, but for now, let's just say I'm hoping George makes his way around to a book devoted to Artemis.  ^_^

You can find out more about the series (and the gods!) here, and take a peek inside the books, and you can catch the rest of the Ares tour here!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Vlog #4: January, part 2

Hey, and welcome back to the vlog! Here's a look at what I got up to in the second half of Jannuary, including a trip to the Henry Ford Museum! (Cooler than it sounds, I promise. =D AND it was on MLK Day, so there were cool things going on!)

Chat with me in the comments about what I got up to, and some of the cool things you did in January! And if you missed any of The Vlog, you can catch up here!



Books Mentioned:




Wednesday, February 4, 2015

And the February #WednesdayYA bookclub pick is...


For those of you who missed it, Liz and I had a liveshow once again for last month's Legend discussion (something we're going to continue, because we love how many of you drop in, and we really love that it allows people who aren't able to make it still participate); at the end of that liveshow, we held a blind voting for this month's pick! Basically, we each chose a book that we wanted to read, and we let you decide which it would be, BUT we didn't show you the covers or tell you the titles/authors. Instead, we each read a small excerpt from the beginning, and let you vote on which intrigued you most.
I said afterwards that I would have a hard time choosing between the two if I had to vote, and that turned out to be the case for those who votes, too: it was a tie. So after a coin-toss (via random.org), we have a winner, and that winner is...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence Giveaway!


A number of you have seen me talk about this book in both my January haul and my potential February TBR, so you knew this was coming (and have been waiting!), but for the rest of you, allow me to introduce you to The Zodiac Legacy, a new series of illustrated novels centered around the Chinese zodiac, helmed by the infamous Stan Lee!
The first book, Convergence, came out just a few days ago, so to celebrate, I'm partnering with Disney-Hyperion to tell you guys more about the book, and offer you a chance to win a special Zodiac Legacy prize pack!

Monday, February 2, 2015

On Winner's Curses and Getting Less Than You Bargained For... | Blog Tour


You guys are probably no strangers to how I felt about last year's The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I pretty much raved about it in my review, had Marie on the blog talking about one of my favorite aspects of the story, and basically never stopped shoving the book in your faces, so...
With the follow-up, The Winner's Crime, set to come out soon, a group of bloggers who loved the first installment are circling back to the idea of winner's curses and discussing what happens when the price is just too high...
The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price. What would you pay too much for?
Questions like this are always hard to answer, aren't they? Of course there's the surface level of it; we all have spent too much on silly stuff. I had a moment of questioning this myself when I "leveled up" in both Sephora's and Ulta's memberships programs, meaning I spent an obscene amount of money on frivolous stuff last year. Anyone who's picked through my makeup drawer(s) would probably agree with that. On the surface, I'd agree — but did those things make me happy? Do they still make me happy? If the answer is yes, well, then did I spend too much? Same for my (also obscene) book collection — if you added it all up, I'm sure MANY people would say it's a case of winner's curse. Surely it's not worth it to spend all that on all those books when you know you can get them at the library for free, right? I mean, I think anyone reading this has probably heard that argument before... And yeah, actually, it's accurate. But... is that always the point of owning? It's only worth it if it's your only option? I think all of the world's collectors, of any and every -thing, shudder at the idea that their collections aren't "worth" it, or that they should give up the pursuit because they can experience it elsewhere cheaper, or for free.

In these cases, it's not about the items' actual worth, but about the personal value, and there are a lot of things rolled up into that. All of your emotions and experiences, your personal aesthetics and peace of mind, your loving satisfaction at your collection, your personal pride, the pursuit of the thing itself...all of that is part of the product, is part of the "price." Which means, even if the price of a thing is *generally*  considered too high, if you still want it that badly, you must consider it worth it. Whether it's the satisfaction of winning, as in a bid or an auction, or it's just personally satisfying on a nostalgic level, if you're willing to pay the price, you must deem the cost 'worth it.' (At the time, at least. There is the whole "buyer's remorse" thing, and I'd imagine that's where the idea of the curse really comes in...)

There are also the times that not paying the price is worse than paying it; you know you'd regret not going all the way, more than you'd regret what it took to get there. We already know this is used against us, at least in the US, when it comes to things we have no choice but to pay whatever's asked on, like health care (and there is an excellent vlogbrothers video on the topic, which I'd suggest watching), but sometimes it's not as serious or life-altering as all that — it's just a personal choice you can't help but make. I once paid over $500 for a pet rat to have surgery. When I tell people about this, the look they give me is pretty consistent, and of the 'are you crazy?' variety. I mean, it's a teeny, tiny rat. Something that small may not even survive surgery, anyway, and besides, most people consider them disposable, vermin, to be eradicated, not saved. And though I knew chances were slim, and that the price was very steep, I couldn't not. To see this tiny creature that loved me so suffer...there was really no choice.  And though I can look at the situation logically, and know that I really couldn't afford that, and that it was probably too much, I also know that the weight it would have left on me, the guilt and sadness, would have been worse,

(And hell, sometimes it's lighter and sillier than that! My sister once paid an outrageous amount of money to go out of town for a Katy Perry concert, and when I asked her afterwards if it was worth it now that her bank account was basically drained, she said yes, absolutely, and she'd do it again in a heartbeat. The memories were worth more than the money.)

I think that's the key in the idea of the 'curse,' actually; no matter what the end product is, is the entirety worth it: the product, yes, but also the emotions, the meaning, the personal importance. So whether there's a "curse" really depends on your personal outlook, I think.

But what do you think about winner's curses? Are there things you'd knowingly and willingly pay "too much" for? Are there times that you have regretted it in the end, and fell victim to the curse? Let me know in the comments, and make sure to keep an eye out for The Winner's Crime (and read The Winner's Curse if you haven't already!)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Get It | Add It
352 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2015 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Check out more thoughts on winner's curses with the rest of the Winner's Curse blog tour!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

FEBRUARY 2015 TBR

This week's "Monday vlog" is actually going up a day early, because tomorrow, I'll be participating in Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Crime blog tour! So make sure to stop back for that, but until then...
I'm a little afraid of slipping back into a serious case of O.S.S., but basically, I want to read all the things. And am SO EXCITED about some of the books in this month's stack!

Let me know what you think of my stack in the comments, and what you're planning on reading in February!



THE BOOKS:
The Olympians, books 1-7
Stone in the Sky
Beastkeeper
The Zodiac Legacy
a MYSTERY BOOK for WYA
and then maybe 1 (or more) of these:
The Art of Asking
Skandal
Velvet
The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
Rebel Mechanics
The Heart of Betrayal
or who knows! As I said, I want to read ALL THE THINGS!
Feel free to weigh in, or let me know if you want a viewer's choice!

Also Mentioned:
Zodiac Legacy giveaway (will go live 2/3)
Olympians series tour (will go live 2/6)

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