Thursday, May 21, 2015

Have You Watched Beauty And The Beat by Todrick Hall? Version 2 Just Released on YouTube!

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

I first came across Todrick Hall because he's made so many viral Disney-themed music videos online such as Cinderonce, Cinderfella, Disney Dudez, as well as musical spoofs such as Chicago's Spell Block Tango. There are so many awesome music videos on his YouTube Channel, especially if you like spoofs and/or Disney. I believe he was on American Idol at some point, too. This summer, he has a behind-the-scenes music video series entitled Todrick premiering on MTV on Monday, August 31st at 10 pm.

Two years ago, Hall produced this really hilarious Beauty and the Beast parody, Beauty and the Beat:

This  month, Hall released a new parody of the song, Beauty and the Beat: Boots:

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. I always love seeing anything related to it! I also think Hall's videos are always so fun and creative.

Both Beauty and the Beast parodies take stereotypes and turn them upside down in a way that's funny to watch. I still prefer the first video, perhaps because it was "first" and I've known it longer.

But I also think it has a whimsy and humor that isn't replicated as well in the newer one. Plus, that Belle feels a little more genuine and less like she's only half in the world she's embracing. For example, take her interaction with the "Gaston" character in both videos. In the first, she enjoys  his company and everyone is envious. In the second, she's completely disinterested (As she was in the original tale, though!) and the googly-eyed trio doesn't really comment on their interaction. There aren't as many laughing-from-surprise moments such as the interaction with the baby from the first video.

But both videos are still amusing and showcase Hall's talent for producing high-quality, captivating parodies! It's also fun to watch all of the behind-the-scenes videos on how they're put together, so I think his TV show Todrick will do well and bring him many new followers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

{Review//Design Analysis Vlog} AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

B O O K   T R A I L E R:

Some book trailers are good. Others, not so hot. The trailer for AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is really intriguing. If you're a fan of fantasy and you see this, you'll be wanting to pick this book up!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

    MY BIG BROTHER REACHES home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest. He smells of steel and coal and forge. He smells of the enemy.
    He folds his scarecrow body through the window, bare feet silent on the rushes. A hot desert wind blows in after him, rustling the limp curtains. His sketchbook falls to the floor, and he nudges it under his bunk with a quick foot, as if it's a snake.
    Where have you been, Darin? In my head, I have the courage to ask the question, and Darin trusts me enough to answer. Why do you keep disappearing? Why, when Pop and Nan need you? When I need you?
     Every night for almost two years, I've wanted to ask. Every night, I've lacked the courage. I have one sibling left. I don't want him to shut me out like he has everyone else.
    But tonight's different. I know what's in his sketchbook. I know what it means.
(pg. 3, US hardcover edition)

"You are an ember in the will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it."

This review has been a long time in the making. I started reading an advance copy of this last November, but had to put it down before I even finished the first chapter because I'd just finished reading ENDSINGER by Jay Kristoff and I just couldn't handle anything dark or gritty. (Small Spoiler: In chapter one, Laia's family is murdered, and after all the death and mayhem in ENDSINGER, I just COULDN'T go through any more heartache!) I finally picked up the book again a couple of weeks before it debuted and realized why everyone was buzzing about this debut novel. I decided to hold off on reviewing it until after I had a physical copy of the book so I could vlog about it because it's GORGEOUS, and then I held off a little longer so that it wasn't one review among 50 release week. Now, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES has been out for almost a month, and I can finally share my thoughts with you!

First, a word of advice: THIS IS NOT A STAND-ALONE. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A STAND-ALONE!

I'm a little amazed at how far-spread this misconception is. 

(Granted, I thought it was a stand-alone, too! If someone hadn't warned me in advance, I would have been SO MAD when I got to the end of the book!)
Originally, it WAS
But it was so open-ended and everyone on social media has been begging Tahir and Penguin for MORE. 

Yesterday, it was announced that Penguin officially greenlit a sequel, which will publish in 2016!!!

If you love books brimming with the best kind of fantasy, saturated in action and adventure and rebellion, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is just what you've been waiting for.

The book alternates between two worlds, the world of an ordinary girl, Laia, and the world of a deadly Mask in Training, Elias. Both Laia and Elias have different perspectives in life, and under ordinary circumstances, their paths would never cross. But these aren't ordinary times. Thanks to events started by Laia's brother, her entire family is murdered and she's forced to seek refuge with rebels, who tell her that they'll only help save her brother if she puts herself in danger and spies on the Commandant of Blackcliff Academy and discovers secrets about the upcoming Trials to become the next Emperor. Elias, on the other hand, is a student at Blackcliff Academy on the brink of graduation, but considering deserting and throwing everything away. He wants nothing more than to leave behind his Mask and the horrors it requires of him. On graduation day, he is chosen as one of four Aspirants. The two are thrown together amidst a deadly power struggle as their nation is thrown even further into turmoil.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is unflinchingly gritty. Tahir isn't afraid to get her hands dirty or destroy her characters. Events can be brutal, and the Commandant will quickly become a villain that many readers will instantly loathe and not easily forget. The characters are so human and easy to relate to as well. Laia isn't the fiercest girl out there, and she's in way over her head. But this girl has a core of steel and will do anything for her family. She goes through more than anyone should ever be exposed to and is stronger than she knows. Elias is a seemingly strong, powerful character, ranked at the top of his graduating class. Inside, however, he's conflicted, and those roiling emotions have started to spill into his daily life. His peers begin questioning his motives, and so does he. The back-and-forth between Elias, his loyalties, and the yearnings of his heart swing back and forth in a way that's very believable, and will keep readers wondering what happens next. There are other strong characters that propel the series forward as well, notably Elias' classmate and closest friend Helene. There are even love triangles at play, which I usually don't care for, but romance isn't the core of this story, and the relationships are handled well in a way that works for the story, so I found myself not minding their inclusion (It helps that it leans more heavily one way than others), despite the lack of romance in the book. It will be interesting to see how relationships fall into play in the next book.

I really don't want to talk too much about the book itself or the world because SPOILERS. I was glad I went into this one blind, because it made the ride more thrilling. I want that same experience for you!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This book is so gorgeous, I did a Design Analysis Vlog:

I love how the words seem engraved/chiseled into the rock of the cover, and how it's like they're on fire. I love the small details you miss looking at a small image of the book, such as the three human silhouettes. I LOVE the surprise endpapers backing both sides of the book. I just lovelovelove so many things about this cover!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill
Received: For Review // Purchased

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Alternative Free Fridays + Weekly E-Book Deals (42 Titles Featured Today!)

Not interested in the weekly Free Fridays title offered by Barnes and Noble?
I'm usually not, either!

I thought about it and realized just how many free e-books I've found and downloaded onto my nook. I decided to start sharing some freebies with you!

No matter your e-reader, no matter if you get the official weekly book or not,  I hope you enjoy my alternatives!

E-Book Deals of the Week:

(I own a nook, so that's where I look for deals, but these should also be available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, etc!)

***Some of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books and Jennifer Esteps Mythos Academy books are on sale, so if you're interested, take a peek at both series!***

***Most of the books in the Fingerprints series by Melinda Metz are on sale for $2.99! Metz is the author of the Roswell series, which was a popular teen TV series.***

LUCK ON THE LINE by Zoraida Córdova
MERMEN by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
ELEMENTAL RUSH by Elana Johnson
THREATS OF SKY AND SEA by Jennifer Ellison
THE WARRIOR HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima
THE GOLDEN APPLE by Michelle Diener

AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld
UNSOULED by Neal Shusterman
THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner
STARRY NIGHTS by Daisy Whitney
ENTWINED by Heather Dixon
CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge
MAGGOT MOON by Sally Gardner
WICKED:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire 
UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker


ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando 
TORN AWAY by Jennifer Brown
YOURS TRULY (Prev. pub. as KETCHUP CLOUDS) by Annabel Pitcher 
INVASION (A sequel to The Last Princess) by Galaxy Craze
CINDER by Marissa Meyer


TRIXTER by Alethea Kontis
RED by Alyxandra Harvey
ROYALLY LOST by Angie Stanton

SNAPSHOT by Angie Stanton 
SEVERED SOULS by Terry Goodkind
AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman


DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell
FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith 
MISTBORN: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

This week's Free Book Spotlight:

Author:  Anthea Sharp

Available FOR FREE from:


So many people like books with fairies. Or books with video games. Or, um, fairy tales. The Feyland series rolls thse together into something new. For example, there are roots tying this back to Tam Lin. (Okay, stop. That's really ALL you had to say to me.) Author Alethea Kontis ( ENCHANTED, HERO, DEAREST) recommended this one, and that's also all I needed to say yes. Even though I'm not a fairy girl! (Although, Sarah J. Maas might have changed that a little with ACOTAR!). Also, a lot of my co-workers love video-game influenced novels such as READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. So, hey. Book One is FREE!!! We'll see what we think, right?
Here's a brief summary:


What if a high-tech computer game was a gateway to the dangerous Realm of Faerie?

When a game…

Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Turns real…

Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her.

Winning is everything…

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

{Excerpt/Giveaway} SPELLED by Betsy Schow

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

Today,  I'm excited to take part on the Spotlight Tour being put together by Sourcebooks Fire,
the publisher bringing us SPELLED by Betsy Schow next month!

If you're a fan of unusual retellings, you're going to want to read
this fairy tale/Oz mash-up!

First, look at this SUMMARY:

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Betsy Schow
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Now, take a peek at this excerpt:

by Betsy Schow

     Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
     Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
     Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
     The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
     I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
     “Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
     In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
     Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
     I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
     Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
     After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
     I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
     Until he opened his mouth again.
     “Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
     Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
     And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

Still curious? 
Here are what early reviews are saying!

Advance Praise for SPELLED

“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” 
School Library Journal

“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. 
 (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” 
Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” 
J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous readKick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” 
—Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

 Got you hooked?
Enter to win a copy now!

Enter to win...

A SPELLED gift basket!!!

US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway