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Thursday, March 31, 2016

REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton | Review

Hey, I know a lot of you were curious about REBEL OF THE SANDS, and after seeing the strong and opposite reactions on Goodreads, I can understand why! But I sorta loved it, so let me tell you all about that... =D

REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton
Get It  |  Add It
Fantasy, 314 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

For some reason, this book doesn't have an embedable excerpt yet, but you can read it directly here.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, but I was given a review copy of the book and invited (not required) to participate in a promo by the publisher to celebrate its release.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cover Reveal: A Place of Stone and Shadow by Jane Nickerson!

I love me some southern gothic, and a good dose of fairy tale retellings (as you all know), so I'm sure it's been no surprise to any of you to see Jane Nickerson and her fantastic gothic retellings popping up here and there on the blog over the years. She's talked to us about setting Bluebeard in the heart of the deep South, shared deleted scenes -- I even used one of her titles in a bit of bookspine poetry!
So I'm thrilled today to be the one to get to introduce you to the third book in this atmospheric series (following Strands of Bronze and Gold and The Mirk and Midnight Hour), A Place of Stone and Shadow!
Check it out:

*Side note: my mom has begun collecting blue books for her bookshelf, because they are her happy place (we are a colorful family, apparently), and I can say without a doubt that as soon as this book is in my hands, she'll begin plotting ways to get it onto her shelves instead... =D

You'll be able to get your hands on A Place of Stone and Shadow in the soonish-times, and if you haven't read the rest of the series, rest assured, they are stand-alone novels that can be read indiviually -- but you've got some time, so why not start on the excellent Strands of Bronze and Gold now?

A note on the series:
The three stand-alone historical novels are set in the same place in Mississippi but at different times -- just before the U.S. civil war, during the conflict, and after the end of the war. The books are related by time and place but each has a different voice and style appropriate for the story. The first novel, STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD, is a retelling of the horror fairy tale "Bluebeard". The middle book, THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR, is based on the ancient "Ballad of Tam Lin". The final piece, A PATH OF STONE AND SHADOW, is a ghost story. Each novel is different but each could be described as a romantic, gothic thriller.

Let us know your thoughts on the cover, and on the series if you've read it, in the comments! 

About the author:
For many years Jane Nickerson and her family lived in a big old house in Aberdeen, Mississippi, where she was also the children’s librarian. She has always loved the South, “the olden days,” gothic tales, houses, kids, writing, and interesting villains. After a few years in Ontario, Canada, Jane and her husband have returned to Mississippi where Jane lives in a little old house and writes, mostly about the old days and the never-were days.

Friday, March 25, 2016

What I Look for in Graphic Novels! | #GraphicNovelWeek

Sorry that I look like the ghost of Casper the Ghost* in this one, guys... I fixed it as much as I could, but I think it was a lost cause. But eh, these things happen, and what REALLY matters is today, we're talking another topic a lot of you have asked about -- what I look for in a graphic novel!
*This is the reason it was up a day late, btw. Stupid, frustrating ghost video!

If you've missed any of Graphic Novel Week, find more here!

Examples mentioned in this video:
Zita the Spacegirl
Castle Waiting
Kaoru Mori
Sara Varon
Anya's Ghost
Roller Girl
The Undertaking of Lily Chen

(c= characters, p=plot, a=art, i=interestingness)
(a,c,p) Delilah Dirk series
(a,p,i) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
(a,c,p,i) Robot Dreams
(c,i) Bake Sale
(a) The Divine
(a) Gloomcookie
(c,p) Amy Unbounded
(c,i) Aurora West series
(a) Sailor Twain
(a,p,i) Persepolis
(a,c) works of Faith Erin Hicks

Please let me know what draws you in and what YOU look for in the comments!

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. ALL ART SHOWN COPYRIGHT OF THE RESPECTIVE ARTIST, for review purposes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Great Graphic Novels for Kids! | #GraphicNovelWeek

I mentioned that I was thinking about doing this video in Monday's Viewer's Choice, and pretty much as soon as it came out of my mouth I was like, yes. This.
So, I know it's a longer one, and I throw a LOT of information at you, but hopefully you'll find it helpful for your own children and/or classrooms -- or yourselves! There's no rule that says you have to be 12 or under to enjoy these awesome books!

Thanks for watching, and make sure to add your own recommendations in the comments!
And you can find more graphic novel goodness here!

THE BOOKS (including some I forgot to mention!):
(an * next to a title means there's probably a good educational tie-in opportunity with this story)

*The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue series
*Science Comics series
*Fable Comics anthology  (Not to be confused with Fables by Bill Willingham! That is NOT kid-friendly... haha!)
*Fairy Tale Comics anthology
Giants Beware series
Captain Underpants
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Bake Sale
(those last two straddle the gap between young audiences and older audiences -- use your judgement)

*American Born Chinese
Anya's Ghost
Friends with Boys
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
The Nameless City
Emma, Shirley, and others by Kaoru Mori

Zita the Spacegirl series
*The Olympians series
Rapunzel's Revenge series
Roller Girl
Robot Dreams
Compilations and anthologies (like Calvin & Hobbes, Bone, etc.)
Illustrated novels and graphic novelizations of prose books (lists below!)
Also, people always recommend books by Raina Telgemeier, but I haven't read them yet!

(You'll see some repeat titles across some of the lists -- that probably means it's a sure thing to look into!)
1) https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5038.Best_Graphic_Novels_for_Children
2) https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12778.Best_Illustrated_Books
3) https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/85146.Illustrated_Middle_Grade_and_YA_Novels
4) http://mentalfloss.com/article/62202/10-great-kids-comics-early-readers -- good resource for early readers
5) http://goodokbad.com/kids/ -- this is a GREAT resource, with a printable list & explanations!
6) http://geekgirlcon.com/10-great-comic-books-for-kids-under-12/ -- a great one for shorter comics that you may not have heard of.
7) http://comicbooks.about.com/od/buyingcomics/tp/toptenkids.htm -- again, kid-friendly comics.
8) http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2013/08/15-great-new-upcoming-comic-books-for-kids.html -- good list of comics featuring recognizable figures, like Plants vs. Zombies, The Powerpuff Girls, etc.
9) http://www.ala.org/yalsa/great-graphic-novels -- a list complied by the YALSA folks, so sure to have some winners (though keep in mind, these do skew YA)
10) And you can't go wrong with just about any book from First Second Books. They do have SOME titles that are definitely more adult, but for the most part, nearly everything they put out is, if not aimed directly at kids, very kid-friendly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

5 in 5: QUICK Graphic Novel Reviews! | #GraphicNovelWeek

I put my fast-talkin' skills to good use in this quick-fire review of 5 recent or upcoming graphic novels!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and which of these you'd most like to read.
For more graphic novel goodness, check out the full playlist!


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Viewer's Choice & Overview | #GraphicNovelWeek

Hey! It's time for another Graphic Novel Week! I hope you'll join me all this week in binge-reading and discussing comics and graphic novels of all sorts!
To weigh in on what's going on this week, please let me know in the comments if you'd prefer to see a Chat-type video about:
-- What I look for in a graphic novel
-- Graphic novel recommendations for different types of reader
-- Graphic novel picks for kids!

And if you have any other requests or recommendations throughout this week, please let me know!

Graphic novels & comics on the blog
Graphic novel video playlist
My graphic novel collection
Some comic favorites
Ideal summer reads (including GNs) (comics start just after the 4 min mark)
Comic nail art tutorial

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Last Five Books: Riders, You Were Here & more!

Alright, so this didn't go up "the next day" as promised in my most recent TBR, but hey, better late than never! Besides, it was preempted by something pretty neato!
Anyway, here are my thoughts on my most recent batch of reads in this, the latest The Last Five!
Also, I forgot to mention that SALT TO THE SEA was in this stack, but I did a review on it, so if you missed it, you can check that out here!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned for Graphic Novel Week!

You Were Here | Cori McCarthy
Wet Cement | Bob Raczka
Chasers of the Light | Tyler Knott Gregson
Salt to the Sea | Ruta Sepetys
Riders | Veronica Rossi
and a whole bunch of graphic novels -- but more on those soon!

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Friday, March 18, 2016

ALLEGIANT Pre-screening! | vlog + review

Hey, so no new FFO again this week (sorry!), but I had to preempt it because I did a cool thing, and my sister and I acted like weirdos in public. I thought I'd share it with you. =D
If you end up seeing Allegiant (it's out today!), or think I really DO need to read the series soon, please chat with me in the comments!

Big thanks to Lionsgate and Allied for allowing us to see the movie before the official release!

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Next Five Books: Late March / Early April | TBR

The last stack of books seems to have flown by (probably because it was FULL of graphic novels), so it's time to take a look at the current handful of books on my TBR!
Let me know your thoughts, and if you want excerpts/impressions of any of them, in the comments.
Thanks for watching!

The Love That Split the World | Emily Henry
Exit, Pursued by a Bear | E.K. Johnston
Wink Poppy Midnight | April Genevieve Tucholke
Rebel of the Sands  |  Alwyn Hamilton
??? I'm open to suggestions!

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Unread & Over-Represented Authors | The Friday Five

Hey there! This little impromptu chat is part of a regular feature I do on my blog called "The Friday Five," where I dig into the minutae of various bookish (and non-bookish) things! I'd love to hear your thoughts on your own unread but over-repped authors (even if you don't own them! It can be that you have loooots of books marked to-read on Goodreads by a certain author, but have yet to touch one!). And if you have any suggestions for The Friday Five or Book Chat topics, please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for watching!

Find more Friday Five topics here!


Probably shoulda mentioned:
and a whole host of onsie-twosies (and threesie-foursies... ;D )

Disclosure: this video is NOT sponsored. Just me chattin'!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

First Impressions: Titans and Character, Driven (plus a bonus book...)

Awhile back, I had the idea that taking the beauty world's "First Impressions" approach to the book blogging world would be a pretty awesome move that I should do immediately. . . and then I sat on the idea for probably close to a year. Clearly, I move with urgency when an idea strikes...
But I've finally made myself sit down and impress some thoughts for to share with you firstly, and this was the result.

I explain more of the concept in the video, but if you are like, "Misty, I know what 'first impressions' is, it's kinda self-explanatory," and want to skip over my ramble and straight to the thoughts, the impressioning begins at the 2:35 mark.  But whether you sit through the ramble or not, I hope this helps you decide whether to put these books on your shelves or to-read lists. If you've already read them, feel free to share your thoughts, and if you'd like to see more First Impressions videos in the future, please let me know in the comments!


Titans by Victoria Scott
Get It | Add It
320 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Scholastic Press
From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
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409 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Scholastic Press
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Character, Driven by David Lubar
Get It | Add It
304 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Tor Teen
“Call me Cliff. By an accident of birth, I am well named for this story. Think about it. Cliff. Precipice. Edge. There you have it. I’m Cliff. Cliff Sparks.”

With only one year left of high school, seventeen-year-old Cliff Sparks is desperate to “come of age”―and find a girlfriend. But he’s never had much luck with girls. So when he falls for Jillian, a new classmate, at first sight, all he can do is worship her from afar. At the same time, Cliff has to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, since he’s pretty sure his unemployed father plans to kick him out of the house the minute he turns eighteen.

Time is running out for Cliff. He’s at the edge, on the verge, dangling―and holding on for dear life.

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video. Both Titans and Character, Driven were sent to me unsolicited as PR sample/review copies

Monday, March 7, 2016

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo | review

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Get It | Add It
Fantasy, 465 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

When I started Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series spin-off towards the end of last year, I was quasi-hesitant, for two reasons: 1) I’d found the first book of the Grisha series to be a bit slow (though I ended up loving it), and I wasn’t sure if I’d find this equally slow (I was already in a reading slump, I didn’t need anything slow) and 2) I had never finished the series and wasn’t sure how heavily Six of Crows relied on it for the reader’s understanding and/or enjoyment. On the latter count, I probably would have picked up more had I read the rest of the series, and a reader may need to have read at least the first Grisha book to have a working understanding of the magic and world, but Six of Crows mostly stands on its own, and is completely enjoyable independent of what came before. And on the former, it did take me awhile to get through it, but it was never because I wasn't interested; I think Leigh's books can be slow burners, but in a delicious way, and I found myself wanting to savor it. (Also, it was just partly my end of year mood. I wasn't reading this very frequently, but I wasn't reading anything else at all. But when I did, I was fast in love.)

Frankly, this was just very well written. Damn well written. It was taut and suspenseful, as a heist book should be, but it also had a great feel of cultural weight, which is something I judge every fantasy on. The language, the customs, the names, the behaviors -- they were all thought about, and all added a great layer without being obtrusive. This is something I noticed in Shadow and Bone, too, but I think it’s an even stronger presence now; it’s a very definite skill of Bardugo’s, and one likely to make me want to devour all of her books from here until Kingsom come. It also had heart and humor and a thousand other things that make for a good reading experience, and for a longer book, it never felt long to me; I never found myself thinking that it'd be better if _____________ was trimmed down, which is a thing I almost always do. Long books tend to bring out my (ruthless) inner editor, but this didn't.

But the biggest shock of all may be that it's a multiple POV book that didn't bother me in the slightest. I often find multi-POV narratives gimmicky at best, or muddled/jumbled and indistinguishable at worst, but each voice was distinct, memorable and added to the overall story in a way that I don't think any other method, even 3rd person omniscient, would have. And Bardugo juggled the six (6!) narrative threads masterfully.  On top of that, I loved the romantic-ish and friendly-like pairings. ALL of them. I never say that, but I honestly wouldn't be able to pick a favorite -- I have soft spots for all of them, in different ways.

In the end, I think it managed to slide into my 2015 Favorites right at the last minute, and though I was really hoping this was a stand-alone – not because I didn't want more (I did! I do!), but because I was dreading leaving off on anything even resembling a cliffhanger; I really, really didn't want any loose threads, and I wanted, against all odds, for everyone to find some semblance of a Happy Ever After – I am more than ready for book 2 and am actually Very Happy Indeed that there is another book, because that means I’ll get to rejoin these characters and reenter this strong world once again, and hijinks and stomach butterflies are sure to ensue; I’ll be (im)patiently awaiting its release.
(And until then, I should probably get my hands on Siege and Storm so I can finally finish that series... Oops.)

Want to know more about the book, or get a feel for it yourself? Preview it below!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

February Book Haul, pt 2!

As promised, here's the rest of the bookage added to my shelves in February! If you missed part 1, you can find that here. And if you'd like to weigh in on the current poll, you can find that here!


Pippi Longstocking boxed set | Astrid Lindgren
Without a Summer | Mary Robinette Kowal
Everland | Wendy Spinale
Exit, Pursued by a Bear | E.K. Johnston
Dancer's Lament | Ian C. Esslemont


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