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Friday, May 27, 2016

SECOND CHANCE BOOKS | #TheFridayFive | Book Chat

Following up (finally!) to our last Chat on bookish letdowns, today we're talking about the books or authors that were *originally* letdowns, but that were redeemed with a second chance!
This chat is also part of my Friday Five meme, so if you want to see more of those, you can check them out here; and if you missed the Bookish Letdowns chat, click here!

Oh, and bee tee dubs, there's a poll in the video about a potential upcoming chat! So be all democratic and stuff and make your voice known!*

*Unless you're Trump. Then you can just really be quiet, pls.


Ice (vs. 2 other retellings)
Drink, Slay, Love
The Raven Boys
The Scorpio Races
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies:
Beauty Queens
The Diviners

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It All Came out for the Best | guest post from Maria Grace, author of The Trouble to Check Her!

You guys already know I love me some Maria Grace. She's been a fixture of Austen in August / Jane in June since pretty much the beginning (including those interviews), and she always comes up with the best stuff to talk about or share with you! I love when people are passionate about anything, tbh, but if the thing they're passionate is Jane Austen? Well, friend for life, right? Obvs. And when that person is willing to share that passionate, spread it around, then we have a winner, folks. ^_^
Today, celebrate the follow-up to the first Queen of Rosings Parks books, Mistaking Her Character, , which I thought nailed the art of adaptation, Maria's dropping in to talk about tackling the Lydia Problem in The Trouble to Check Her, This is something a little near and dear to my heart -- afterall, I do have a habit of defending Austen's "bitches". . .
I'll be sharing some of my thoughts in a video soon, and my full thoughts in this year's Austen in August, but until then -- take it away, Maria!

Don’t ever doubt that writers become attached to their characters. We do! They spent months, even years in our heads, talking to us, teasing us, sometimes lying to us, usually bossing us around and taking joy in making us utterly crazy.
I know Lydia certainly did in the process of writing her story. Now that it’s wrapped up and out there for the world to see, she invited me to tea to talk over our adventures of the past year.
The maid showed me into the parlor where tea things were already laid out. Lydia looked up at me with that smile that everyone says looks just like Elizabeth’s.
“I am glad you are come. I thought perhaps you would not wish to, that I might have worn out your patience by now.” She gestured toward a dainty chair, certainly set out specifically for my use.
The cream and blue upholstery was pulled so tight the chair was more bouncy than it was soft, but I could hardly refuse so gracious an invitation. “I was a little surprised to hear from you. I had rather thought you would be glad to be done with me.”
“Tea? You prefer hibiscus if I recall correctly.”
“I do. I’m surprise you would have noticed such a thing.”
She cocked her eyebrow at me, knowing just how well I knew the expression. “I did just spend the better part of eighteen months, I think, in your head. Did I not? One notices things after a while.”
I took the proffered tea cup, filled with the vibrant pink tea I favor.
“I am surprised you would need to ask.”
She handed me the sugar, “I do not, but it is the polite form, is it not?”
“I suppose so.”
“Ah, no, now you prevaricate. I know well that you are most attentive to such things. Do your sons not regularly roll their eyes at you for your admonitions at the dinner table? What was the last thing you told them? Something about not taking bites big enough to feed a small tenant village on my father’s estate?”
Luckily, raising teenaged boys left me prepared for such statements and I did not spit hot pink tea out all over her pretty drawing room. “Was I wrong?”
“I said no such thing.” She sipped her tea daintily. “I merely found it an amusing way of addressing the issue.”
“Not too many people call me amusing.”
“No? I suppose they do not know you as well as I.” Lydia winked.
“Indeed? What might you find so amusing about me?”
I probably should not have asked, as Lydia would have no hesitation to tell me what I probably didn’t really want to know.
“Quite a bit, if truth be told! Where might I begin? Perhaps with your tendency to start three new projects for every one that you finish—or do not finish as the case may be. How many book projects did you write notes on just yesterday? No less than fourteen I believe it was.”
“Something like that.”
“And at least four other projects?”
“I would think you be more appreciative of that trait, considering that is how you came to be where you are now.”
“You never did ask me whether or not I wanted to be reformed.” Her eyes twinkled.
“I never asked my sons if they wanted to have good manners, either.”
“Another oversight on your part.”
“My daughter-in-law disagrees. She is quite satisfied with the results of my efforts.” I placed my tea cup on the table and folded my arms across my chest. This was getting serious.
“You imply I should be, too.”
“I did provide you a happy ending, as I recall. You gave me fits through the process, though. Most ungrateful it seems.”
“Of course I did. What else did you expect? Is that not why you were so reluctant to take up my tale in the first place? As I recall I had to perform a great deal of wheedling to convince you not to leave me a dangling epilogue, forgotten by readers as soon as they closed the book.”
“So that was wheedling? Funny, I would have called it tormenting.”
She shrugged. “It accomplished the purpose, and now we both have something to show for it, do we not? You a new book, I a new reputation. It seems it all came out for the best.”
“I am glad you are satisfied. It would have been much easier getting to this point had you bothered to be forthright with me in the first place.”
“You must be joking? Share all my secrets with you so easily? I have been written as unredeemable and ridiculous often enough. You needed to earn my trust first.” She glared at me over her teacup.
“I suppose you have a point.”
“You must admit, you painted me quite the ungrateful nit in the first chapters.”
“Was I inaccurate?” I set my teacup down.
“It was not a complimentary portrayal.”
“You did not answer my question. Was I wrong or unfair to you?”
Her lips wrinkle up into a pout—an expression she had not used since the early chapters of my book. “I suppose not.”
“Well then, you should not complain. Especially when you consider how many people are rooting for you now.”
“Truly? I had no idea.” The coy expression in her eyes begged otherwise.
“You love the attention and accolades.”
“That is not true. I enjoy the attention. I love Mr. Amberson.” Her eyes sparkled just a bit.
“I stand corrected.”
“I have heard that some are asking for more: wat happens to us, and Annabelle, Juliana and Sir Anthony in Derby…”
I winced, knowing that tone of voice all too well. “I believe I have stayed too long, it is time for me to go.” Before she started wheedling and whining and pleading.
“Must you, our visit has only just begun.” She rose and shut the parlor door, leaning against it, looking anything but casual.
Oh dear, this could become troublesome. But I do have fourteen other projects line up, right?

About the Book:
Get It | Add It
288 pages
Published March 30th 2016 by White Soup Press
Lydia Bennet faces the music…

Running off with Mr. Wickham was a great joke—until everything turned arsey-varsey. That spoilsport Mr. Darcy caught them and packed Lydia off to a hideous boarding school for girls who had lost their virtue.
It would improve her character, he said.

Ridiculous, she said.

Mrs. Drummond, the school’s headmistress, has shocking expectations for the girls. They must share rooms, do chores, attend lessons, and engage in charitable work, no matter how well born they might be. She even forces them to wear mobcaps! Refusal could lead to finding themselves at the receiving end of Mrs. Drummond's cane—if they were lucky. The unlucky ones could be dismissed and found a position … as a menial servant.

Everything and everyone at the school is uniformly horrid. Lydia hates them all, except possibly the music master, Mr. Amberson, who seems to have the oddest ideas about her. He might just understand her better than she understands herself.
Can she find a way to live up to his strange expectations, or will she spend the rest of her life as a scullery maid?

About the Author:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace
On Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mariagrace423/

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

BOOK & BEAUTY HAUL | April 2016

Welp, we're halfway through May and I'm only just managing to upload my April haul... Spring-Fever-Idontwannawork has definitely struck...
ANYWAY, here's a look at some of the goodies that came my way in April, and so far, May is off to a cracking start, so look forward to *that* haul in a couple of weeks!

Also... LAWNMOWERS. -_-

Vassa in the Night
The Sleeping Prince
Crow Mountain
The Trouble to Check Her
Rat Queens, vol One
Saga, vol One

L'Oreal EverPure vox box from influenster
Tarte Glam Goodies set (includes Tartelette Tease palette, lip paint in 'tbt' and lash paint mascara)
Tarte Make a Splash skincare set (includes Marine Boosting Mist, Deep Dive Cleansing Gel, and Drink H2O Hydrating Boost)
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though the books (from publishers) and the L'Oreal hair care products (from Influenster) were received as PR samples, for review purposes, as stated. This in no way changes my opinion of them.

MUSIC: Otis McDonald, "Scarlet Fire"

Friday, May 6, 2016

Children's Book Week: John Patrick Green Interviews Faith Erin Hicks!

It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are!  We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week with a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love.  Follow along throughout the week to see some of your favorite comics creators – and meet new ones, too!

Today, the CBW graphic novel lovefest continues on with a chat between Hippopotamister'John Patrick Green and The Nameless City's Faith Erin Hicks. You can see my thoughts on The Nameless City (amazing! gorgeous!) here, but first, lets dive in and find out what inspired this awesome comic and it's awesome-r creator!

• Where did your inspirations for The Nameless City come from? How has this project been different from your other books, like Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong?

The Nameless City had a bunch of inspirations, some from history, some from stories I love and wanted to emulate. After I finished drawing Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, I really wanted to try a different kind of comic. I'd done two graphic novels set in contemporary high schools, and wanted a new challenge. I decided to draw on a certain period in Chinese history (the Yuan Dynasty of 13th century China) that I was interested in, as well as inspiration from three of my favourite stories of the past twenty years: Bone by Jeff Smith, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the animated TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. I wanted to create something that made my readers feel a little bit the way I felt when I was reading Bone and Fullmetal Alchemist, or watching Avatar. I wanted to make a comic where characters had to deal with complex stakes, and there was action and adventure, and I could really challenge myself as an artist.

• Do you work traditional 9-5 hours, or have a quirky routine? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or have the TV on, or doodle while curled up in a window nook, or work at odd hours? How does a cat factor into making comics?

I try my best to keep a regular schedule, because it allows me to get the most work done. I get up at 7:30, eat breakfast, exercise and then work until supper. I listen to podcasts, music and audiobooks from my local library while I work. If I'm inking my pages, I'll have Netflix on. I like to watch TV shows with lots of talking, so sitcoms like Friends or procedurals like Elementary or The Good Wife. I have to work at a desk; I haven't yet mastered the art of drawing comics while slouched on a couch. The cat is my co-worker, sort of. She bugs me throughout the day, and reminds me to take breaks.

The Nameless City will keep you busy for awhile, but what other types of stories or topics are you interested in tackling through comics?

I'm interested in everything, really. Comics, and especially the graphic novel format, are a relatively new medium, and I'd love to see more diversity of stories told through comics. I'd like to see more science fiction, more realistic fiction for kids and adults, more stories about different kinds of people flourish in the comics medium. I look at the diversity of Young Adult prose books, and I'd like to see that in comics. For me personally, I'd like to maybe make a comic someday that has romance in it (I've never done that), or science fiction. I'd also like to make a comic about girls and horses, because I loved riding when I was a kid. There are so many more stories I'd like to tell in comics.

• How did you get into comics? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer and illustrator of graphic novels?

I read comics as a kid, mostly newspaper comics like Calvin & Hobbes, and French imports like Tintin and Asterix. I was super into webcomics when they first started getting popular on the internet, back in the early 2000s. And now I read pretty much any comic I can get my hands on (my local library helps with this habit a lot). I started making comics for fun when I was in my late teens, but never thought drawing them for a living was something I could actually do. I knew I loved drawing and writing, but paying my rent with it seemed impossible. Even now I can't believe this is my job!

• What is the most fun thing to draw, and what is the least fun (or hardest) thing to draw? What part of the comics process do you enjoy the most?

I know it seems silly, but my least favourite part of making comics is thumbnailing. A thumbnail is a quick, loose sketch of a comic page before you start drawing it. It helps you figure out the composition and pacing of a page. It's basically the work you have to do before you start the real work of drawing the comic, and I find it kind of boring. I just want to jump in and draw the page. My favourite part of drawing comics is inking. All of the hard work is done, and I just get to sit back and make the page I'm working on look gorgeous. I also get to watch a lot of Netflix, so that's fun.

• What are your favorite children's or comic books as a child, and what are you currently reading?

My favourite comics as a kid were probably the two I mentioned previously, Tintin and Asterix. I'm Canadian, and pretty much every library in all of Canada has those comics stocked. They're a staple of most Canadian kids' childhood. They're fun comics, well drawn, the stories well told. There are also practically no female characters in them, something that has motivated me as a cartoonist: I want to draw comics with awesome girl characters in them! And I'm grateful I get to do that. Currently I'm reading A Silent Voice, a Japanese comic by Yoshitoki Oima, and I just got an advance copy of Raina Telgemeier's newest graphic novel, Ghosts, in the mail yesterday! It looks gorgeous, and I'm really excited to dive into it.

Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd  – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier

About John Patrick Green
John Green grew up on Long Island and has worked in New York City ever since graduating from School of Visual Arts for Graphic Design in 1997. He was the comics consultant for Disney Adventures magazine, and in addition to Disney has written, illustrated, or otherwise worked on comics for Nickelodeon, Dreamworks, Scholastic, DC Comics, and First Second Books. When not drawing comics John creates artwork for video games, such as Emerald City Confidential, Puzzle Bots, and Nearly Departed. See more of John's work at www.johngreenart.com.

About Faith Erin Hicks
Born in the wilds of British Columbia, the young Faith frolicked among the Sasquatch native to the province before moving to Ontario at age five. There she was homeschooled with her three brothers, and developed an unnatural passion for galloping around on horseback, though never without a proper helmet (because you only get one skull). After twenty years of suffering through Ontario’s obscenely hot summers, she migrated east, and now lives beside the other ocean in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She worked in animation for a bit, and now draws comics full time. She’s not sure how that happened either.


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