Friday, September 30, 2011

EARTH BLEND review & 2-book GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to today's tour stop for Lori Pescatore's official tour featuring the release of her new novel EARTH BLEND! Today's stop features a book review and 2-book giveaway!

Author: Lori Pescatore
Release Date: Out Now (July 1, 2011)
Publisher: Self-Published
Received: Review Copy from Author


EARTH BLEND is the second book in the Blend trilogy and the sequel to HUMAN BLEND. In this installment, the mysteries of the Blends and Earthlings are revealed. How can Julie live a normal life when she is anything but normal? Her relationship with Austin is complicated by emerging abilities in them both. Trust is hard to come by as lies and secrets hinder them at every turn. Is the past destined to repeat itself as the Earthlings once again rush to save them? Ensuing chaos breeds fatal consequences.

EARTH BLEND picks up right where its predecessor, HUMAN BLEND, left off. (If you haven’t read HUMAN BLEND yet, you might want to read my review of the first book in the Blend Trilogy instead, then jump past this review to the contest at the bottom. ^_^) Okay, so with that being said, the next paragraph will absolutely spoil certain elements of HUMAN BLEND for you. If you’re still reading, all I can say is you’ve been warned!

Right out the gate, all the burning questions I had about earthlings and blends were answered. The novel starts off with back story, explaining how the blends came to our world, and who exactly the mysterious earthlings are. There’s so much more going on than what initially meets the eye, and I was impressed by Lori Pescatore’s imaginative answers. The story then picks up in the present-day, right after HUMAN BLEND’s conclusion. Answers to the stunning cliffhanger are eventually revealed, and life for Julie and Austin has become much more complicated. Austin is still reeling from the truth that he is a blend, and goes down a journey that leads to further shocks that the reader never sees coming. Julie develops scary new powers of her own that will surely play a larger part in the final volume of the trilogy. While a lot from the first book comes together in this middle volume and solidifies the story, it’s obvious that a huge showdown and planetary battle are coming in what’s sure to be an explosive conclusion to this series.

I really liked the way everything came together. One thing that frustrated me about HUMAN BLEND was the lack of answers. Who were the mysterious earthlings? How did the blends come to our planet? Readers will learn all this and more. At times, it was awkward reading conversations between earthlings because the style wasn’t what I’m used to due to the fact that they communicate telepathically, but I got used to it after a while. I also got used to the lack of contractions in speech, though it made for awkward dialogue at times. The editing, however, is much cleaner this time around, making for a smooth, error-free read. Pescatore has created an interesting world and paranormal beings with unique abilities not previously seen. I loved learning more about what the blends can do and can’t wait to delve more into Julie’s new abilities in the next book—not to mention the unusual blend Austin has become. While the series is still aimed at young adults, it does contain sex and violence and should only be read by mature teens and adults.


I like that this cover features Austin. The way Austin is—or in this case isn’t—dressed actually plays an important role in this novel. I also like the fact that he’s embracing a tree, reflecting on the relationship many characters have with the earth. I also like the placement of the title on the tree bark; it almost looks like the words were carved into the trunk! This cover has much more to look at than its predecessor!

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...!

Enter now to win your VERY OWN E-COPIES of both HUMAN BLEND and EARTH BLEND by Lori Pescatore, courtesy of Lori! I've been wanting to have a copy of my own since the book was announced in 2010, and now you can have a copy, too!

All you have to do is fill out the following form. The contest is open

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: Out Now (Aug. 31, 2010/July 26, 2011)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Received: Purchased as a bargain book/borrowed
Goodreads here and here


Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

PARANORMALCY is one of those books I never intended to read, but was recommended so many times that I finally caved in when I found a copy for about five bucks. And heard there were mermaids and unicorns. Even though, you know, it has the word *paranormal* in the title…and the sequel has the word *supernatural.* Not my genre of choice. I’m still not positive what I thought about the books as a whole. I’m not one-true-loving them, but they were fast, enjoyable reads, especially the first one.

My favorite element in both books is absolutely the inclusion of a multitude of paranormal creatures. Kiersten White did a lot of research when creating the beings in her world and even put in new twists of her own. Are there still vampires and werewolves? Yes, of course (It wouldn’t be a paranormal novel without them, right?). But…they’re not the traditional sort scattered through YA right now. There’s a lot more than what initially meets the eye. I liked White’s originality when adding minor characters such as Lish (a mermaid!!), and unusual beings such as sylphs, trolls, and kelpiernix (Which I know better as a nygle , but you may know best when referred to as a kelpies or a nix…erm…or in plain English, water spirits/horses).

Every paranormal creature is twisted into something almost unrecognizable. Take, for example, the unicorn:

  ”It was ugly. Like, seriously ugly. Coat a mottled brown and gray, horn a dingy, stubby thing; hair a matted mess. It looked more like a goat than anything else, with a small, filthy beard and square pupils. Oh, and the stench? Skunks have nothing on unicorns.

~SUPERNATURALLY, page 126; US hardcover first printing edition">Wikipedia page

If unicorns were always described as such, who would ever wish to seek one? Certainly not me, and I’ve always loved horses of any type (Blame MY LITTLE PONY…I do!). But that’s the best visual I can give you for how White shakes up paranormal beings you THOUGHT you know. In her world, you really don’t.

My favorite paranormal character was probably Lend, the teenage boy Evie falls for. (Although…what kind of a name is Lend? I mean, I GET it, but still…) He was the singularly most unique paranormal being I’ve ever encountered, straight out of White’s imagination. But…I won’t tell you what he is so you can discover more alongside Evie if reading for the first time!

PARANORMALCY reminded me of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER from the get-go. Evie was a lot like Buffy (even down to her blonde hair on the cover!) and, in the first chapter, on patrol looking for vamps. Only, instead of staking them, she’s doing a “bag and tag,” adding a sophisticated ankle bracelet so that the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) can track the vampires in the future. If they try to take it off or attempt to consume human blood, the anklet shoots out holy water and kills them. Again, I really enjoy White’s originality here! This was definitely my favorite of the so-far two released novels in the trilogy. SUPERNATURALLY was missing a lot of the charm of the first book, though it had some stellar paranormal beings. It also focused on something so few YA novels do: The pains of a long-distance relationship and trying to make it work despite everything.

I think the biggest reason I didn’t connect with the two novels as fully as everyone one-true-loving them isn’t because of White or her world, but because…I’m not really sure, honestly. I loved BUFFY, and I adored the new take on so many mythical creatures in this series. Perhaps it’s just that there was a lot of focus on faeries, beings I’ve never enjoyed reading about. This still isn’t the novel that will make me fall in love with faeries (The way UNEARTHLY made me change my mind about angels). I also didn’t like the direction SUPERNATURALLY went in at times, which could also play a part in my overall impression. Don’t get me wrong: I did like the books. I just didn’t love them and I can’t be positive as to whether or not I’ll pick up ENDLESSLY when it releases in 2012 (This is one time a cliffhanger ending would have brought me back rather than infuriating me!...Well, it still might do that, too…).


These are lovely covers. I really like that the design continues around the spine and back, especially with SUPERNATURALLY, where when you look at the cover on a whole, it becomes more ominous thanks to the lightning on the back side:

At the same time, Evie’s pretty dress doesn’t really make sense on the cover of SUPERNATURALLY the way it does on PARANORMALCY, when she actually wore such a garment. I get branding a series and remaining consistent, but books like this one are the reason why people are starting to complain about all the covers with girls in pretty dresses. They should only be used when it works with the story. That being said, they’re still both gorgeous, striking covers! I like the way the title of the first book is the same shade of pink as Evie’s dress, and the way the yellow in the second title compliments the red of her gown and the orange of the flowers. I always like the fire colors best when they’re united as one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cover Art REVEALED: WAKING STORMS by Sarah Porter

The cover to WAKING STORMS by Sarah Porter, the sequel to this year's LOST VOICES is just as--if not more--beautiful than its predecessor! I first spotted it when Chelsey from Starry Sky Books revealed it on her blog yesterday! Thanks Chelsey!

...Are you ready?

I want the final design to be all silvery and flashy the way LOST VOICES is. Every time I look at the cover, the mermaid reminds me of when you look down into the water and see a flash of fin as a fish swims away. It's PERFECT!

And have you seen the thrilling synopsis? If you weren't sure you loved LOST VOICES (and let's face it, this book WASN'T for everyone, but personally, I LOVED it!!), give it one more try. Based on the synopsis alone, I think it will have what you're looking for!

(And Sarah Porter is so sweet and kind! She's done some interviews and guest posts with A Backwards Story this year, so check them out!

(Um, and if you HAVEN'T read LOST VOICES yet, do yourself a favor and...just don't read the following synopsis. It has evil spoilers!)


Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: July 2012 (So faaaaaaar away!!! Please come to NetGalley early again!)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea, by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown, till human voices wake us, and we drown."

After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn't last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. Anais, their cruel queen, wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary.

But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Luce's new friendship with an ancient renegade mermaid gives her hope that her kind might someday change their murderous ways. But how can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian?

Full of miraculous reunions and heart-pounding rescues, this haunting second installment in the Lost Voices Trilogy finds Luce eager to attempt reconciliation with humans—as long as war doesn't break out first.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HAPPY BOOK DAY to Mara Dyer, Lola, and Hazel!

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd before I forget (because I remembered this morning…and then forgot…and then remembered again while AT WORK when it was too late to post anything…

Happy Book Birthday to three amazing books this week:


This book is OMG amazing! Grace from Livre D’Amour snagged an ARC for me at BEA, which I finally got around to reading this summer. It’s made of awesomesauce and you will be seeing my review this week…as well as something extra-special!

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins

Oh, how I’ve been waiting to read this one! I’ve been wanting it so, so badly. I liked ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS more than I ever thought I would—or could—and I have been dying for this companion novel ever since. It’s finally here!!


Get ready, because my book review and a super-special interview with illustrator Erin McGuire are both coming to A Backwards Story next week as part of the official blog tour from Walden Pond Press, PLUS Anne Ursu will be stopping by at a later date along with her heroine Hazel to chat with us! If you like modern-day fairy tales or THE SNOW QUEEN, you’re going to want to pick up this middle-grade!

Top Ten Books I Want to Re-read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday! I don’t normally do this because I normally can’t think of ten things, but I was reading Harmony from Radiant Reads’ blog and really loved today’s Top Ten!

So…I’m just going to list ten books. INDIVIDUAL books. Because if it’s a series, I can’t pick one book in a series and be done with it. I consider a series to be one book split up in several volumes. So…they are all excluded from this! (Books with companion novels don’t count the same way, so titles such as GRACELING are okay!)

1) MY SISTER’S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult
This is my favorite book EVER. I could just…read it again and again and again. Actually, wait—I have. Certain *scenes* still take me by surprise every time. I always think the book won’t go in the direction it does and I’m somehow stunned EVERY time. But to read it again for the first time? That would be amazing!

2) GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
Quite possibly my #1 Favorite Teen Novel. Um…it’s just amazing and made of WIN. I love it in so many ways and get lost in Cashore’s world every time I re-read. I think one reason GRACELING and I connected so well is because The Seven Kingdoms remind me a lot of Tortall. Tamora Pierce was my favorite author for so many years before Jodi Picoult came along and…I don’t know, I just love this writing style!

3) THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgernstern
This is a new title, I know. BUT!!! As soon as I turned the very last page, I already wanted to read this book again. I felt a hole and just…wanted more. I wasn’t ready to leave this world and wanted Le Cirque des Rêves to be real so I could buy a ticket and visit again. There are so many breath-taking scenes I would like to savor for the first time all over again!

4) HEART’S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier
Everyone else says DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST and the other SEVERWATER books are their favorites by Marillier, but HEART’S BLOOD holds my heart (um…no pun intended). This is my favorite re-telling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I get completely caught up in Marillier’s world. This book made me LOVE her.

5) THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab
Another 2011 release, but this time, I just want to read Victoria’s beautiful descriptions again and again…for the first time. Because on a re-read, it’s still stunning, but there’s something special about that first time. Plus, I finished the book on a howling, windy day, and for those of you who have read it by now, that’s the perfect time to experience that climax for the first time. Oh, to have that day back again!

6) THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield
My third-favorite novel, behind only MY SISTER’S KEEPER and KEEPING FAITH (both by Jodi Picoult). Like with THE NEAR WITCH and THE NIGHT CIRCUS, the descriptions are gorgeous and consume me. Plus, it’s a book about, well, BOOKS. I love such novels, and this one is a throwback to classics such as JANE EYRE and THE WOMAN IN WHITE (my favorite classic).

My favorite “school novel.” I enjoyed this so much. In fact, in the last year, I almost bought a new copy TWICE, first when the anniversary cover launched, and then again when B&N debuted the beautiful leather-bound, gold-gilded volume. But…I already have a perfectly good copy. Why do I need THREE versions of this fabulous novel? To experience the mystery of Boo Radley all over and go back for the first time would be amazing. My love for this novel is one MAJOR reason why I fell head-over-heels-in-love with Daisy Whitney’s amazing teen novel THE MOCKINGBIRDS last year!

8) THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
Another school favorite! I read this one so many times and it was the launching pad that introduced me to the dystopian genre, though I didn’t understand that term—or the fact that I loved such books until a couple of years ago (despite the fact that I’d read several classics such as 1984 and BRAVE NEW WORLD for fun growing up and loved the UGLIES series. It wasn’t until THE HUNGER GAMES that I *knew. But that’s another topic…). I’ve been really wanting to re-read this (and GATHERING BLUE and THE MESSENGER) but have yet to do so. It’s been a while this time around, so it’s ALMOST like fresh eyes, right…?

9) ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine
This is the only book on my Top 5 All-Time Favorites List that’s YA. Granted, most of that is nostalgia talking but still. Reading it for the first time today, I know I wouldn’t love it the same way today that I do having read it for the first time so long ago. But I want to go back to that first time, to that experience of reading a fairy tale where things were DIFFERENT. Cinderella can save the prince? They knew one another beforehand? This book (and then the movie EVER AFTER around that same time) single-handedly made me fall in love with fairy tale retellings to the point where I’m so far head-over-heels in love that I’m writing my own now. To experience that very first love and awe again for the first time would be like no other.

10) SILVER PHOENIX by Cindy Pon
I connected with this novel on so many levels. It read like a Chinese fairy tale despite being its own unique story. It’s high fantasy at its finest, with lush descriptions and mythical beings that were new to me. Plus, having lived in Japan for two years, I love so many Asian things. This story in particular had so many of my favorite elements and I was so excited when companion novel FURY OF THE PHOENIX came out so I could read more about my beloved characters for the first time…because I couldn’t re-read SILVER PHOENIX for the first time!

I would love to know what YOUR Top Ten are, so please leave me a link! I’m always up for reading an amazing novel!

Teaser Tuesdays: AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Today, I began prepping for next month's tour stop...annnnnnnnnnnnnnd something special that's coming, but mmmmmm, I'm keeping it under wraps for now! ^.~

I've been so excited about AUDITION. Not only is it a ballet novel... It's in VERSE. (Actually, there are a lot of verse novels coming out now; Ellen Hopkins really paved the way for other genres!)

AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe

“I know I said I wanted this chance
To dare this dream.
Yet now I wonder how
They let me go--
Whether leotards and leg warmers
Will mask my sense of abandonment.”

(~pg. 39 [ARC edition; changes may be made before book launches in print on Oct. 13, 2011.)

Goodreads Summary here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alyson Noël Winners!!

Two wonderful winners today, bookworms!

The winner of a finished copy of DREAMLAND by Alyson Noël is…

Jennifer L!

And the winner of the two awesomesauce tattoos from Alyson's EVERLASTING tour is:

Vic from Hairnets & Hopes!

Congratulations!!! Another contest is coming...soonish! :) What will it be...!?

[DISCLAIMER: Winner chosen using]

Cover Crazy: THE HERO ALWAYS WINS by Robert Eaton

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

(Click the cover to zoom in and see a full-size image... With all this detail, you really want to click!!)

Why I Love This Cover:

How GORGEOUS is this cover? Isn't it amazing? When I saw it in The Bookish Brunette's IMM a week ago, I had to wipe away the drool. I wanted to know MORE. It's illustrated...and just stunning. It reflects (no pun intended) the dual nature that seems to be at the heart of this novel. I WANT TO READ THIS. LIKE, NOW. *drool*

First of all, that SETTING! It really sets the scene, from the rocky background to the choppy water. And then that image! Is that a kiss or what? Tongue and all. :) The image in full-focus represents the novel's title: THE HERO ALWAYS WINS. The hero is a big, strong warrior who gets the pretty girl and they live happily ever after, right? He's certainly handsome (love the hair color!) and she's the storybook image of a beautiful heroine (with GORGEOUS jewelry and silky hair that already has me hating her...). So...that should be it, right? The hero won, kissed the pretty girl, and they lived happily ever after.

Only, no. That's not the way it REALLY is. I love when stories are grittier and harder-hitting. The hero DOESN'T always win. He's expected to, but does he? No! I wish more stories went into the duality and didn't just fix things up with a pretty bow and a "then they lived happily ever after" tacked onto the end. Look carefully at the reflection in the water. Something has gone WRONG. The hero isn't living happily ever after...he's either seriously injured or dead...and the pretty girl is crying over his body. I like that while her dress and jewelry remains the same, his black shirt has opened to fully reveal the hero's is now chainmail and tunic. could be that she has magic tears that will fix everything a la Rapunzel and the above image is the "happily ever after," but...then again, maybe not. I have a feeling that there's more that meets the eye here... Either way, this cover makes me want to find out exactly what is going on!! Like, ASAP!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

IMM #3: 9.27.11

In My Mailbox 9.18.11

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren because: 

"I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved! Every week I'd share the books I received that week... ones I'd bought, or gotten at the library, and ones that I'd receive to review on the blog. That way I could mention titles that might not otherwise get some face-time on The Story Siren..."

I find the same thing happening at A Backwards Story.  I'm so backed up on reviews atm...  That's why I like these videos!

  YouTube Link

Six-Shelf Billy Bookcase from IKEA
UNRAVELING ISOBEL by Eileen Cook [ARC from author/publisher for Just Contemporary in November]
THE HIDDEN SUN by J. Lloyd Morgan(ARC from author for upcoming tour)
HALF-BLOOD by Jennifer L. Armentrout
THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell (Review here)
THE MAN IN THE MOON by William Joyce

.........and another, more finished look at my new Billy Bookcase!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mythological Mondays: THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell

Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc. Please feel free to do this with me! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. I’ve even included a Linkbox for you. It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too. ^_^

Author: Merrie Haskell
Release Date: Out Now (Sept. 6, 2011)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Received: borrowed; also purchased a copy



Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling (if silly) curse, and anyone who ends it will win a reward. Reveka, a sharp-witted and irreverent apprentice herbalist, wants that reward. But her investigations lead to deeper mysteries and a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?

You might be asking yourself, “Bonnie, why are you featuring THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell for Mythological Mondays? It’s about THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES!” This is where you’d be WRONG. Well, maybe not wrong, exactly, but not right, either. The summary of this book is very much about THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES…and if you see the book in person, the flap talks about how this classic tale is mashed up with another well-loved story, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. But nowhere do they mention that this ALSO features elements of the PERSEPHONE AND HADES tale. Yes, you read that right. If GLEE can get away with mashing up a modern-day hit like Beyoncé’s “Halo” with 80s pop-hit “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves and have it sound good…REALLY good…then why can’t a double-dose of fairy tale mashed up with a swish of mythology also do the trick? Because, bookworms, this recipe WORKS. It’s delicious and perfect, the right mix of sweet and salty. If you told me the ingredients beforehand, I would have said that such a story would have never worked…and I would have been wrong, wrong, wrong. THE PRINCESS CURSE is the epitome of a “Why didn’t I think of that?” novel.

So what, exactly, is THE PRINCESS CURSE? The novel centers around a girl named Reveka who is an apprentice to the castle’s herbalist. The castle where she works harbors twelve princesses who dance their shoes to pieces each night. There is a huge reward for anyone who can solve the mystery of where they go, but anyone caught spying on the princesses at night either “disappears” or falls into a sleep from which they never awaken. Reveka is desperate to find out where the princesses go so that she can win the dowry and go off to a nunnery to be a herbalist. For all that the book immediately sounds like a new version of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES, this story only encompasses half the book. For once Reveka manages to follow the princesses and find out what is happening, something HORRIBLE happens…something that changes her life forever. THE PRINCESS CURSE shifts gears and delves deeper, following Reveka on a dangerous journey of her own that I don’t really want to spoil for you.

I adored Reveka and think Haskell is a brilliant new writer. I want more books by her and would love to see more stories set in this world (but the publisher will only request more if THE PRINCESS CURSE sells well, hint hint HINT). I wasn’t ready to leave when the last page was turned. It’s funny; when I first heard about THE PRINCESS CURSE and saw the book’s awesome cover, it was an instant must-read. When I found out that the book would be middle-grade, I decided to borrow it rather than buy it, thinking it might be like other middle-grade fairy tale re-tellings where I’d rather own them in paperback and not pay the hardcover price. As soon as I finished reading this, however, I knew that I needed a copy of my own and had to buy it right away! The novel is middle-grade due to the fact that Reveka is only thirteen. It has a hint of teen in it, though, touching on one word in particular that a child won’t understand…and hopefully won’t look up in the dictionary. Because the book skews younger, there isn’t as much of a romantic element as I like in my fairy tales, but it’s open-ended enough that we might get a lot more in a sequel…which I want to read right NOW!


This cover…Oh, bookworms, this COVER! It’s gorgeous, is it not? I love illustrated covers. The illustration is by Jason Chan, whom I adore. He’s also done work for the Théâtre Illuminata trilogy by Lisa Manchev (EYES LIKE STARS, PERCHANCE TO DREAM, SO SILVER BRIGHT), THE GIRL WITH SILVER EYES by Willo Davis Roberts, THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY by Victoria Forester (reviewed here), THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter, and so much more! I always see a book with his style and fall in love, then realize it’s him!

I really like the way he drew Reveka, giving her an herb basket to showcase what’s most important to her. The coloring is FANTASTIC and it all blends so nicely together. Plus, there’s, you know, atmosphere. Jason Chan and THE PRINCESS CURSE for the win!

[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]

Did you do a Mythological Mondays post?

Cover Crazy: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

Why I Love This Cover:

One Choice Can Transform You...
One Choice Can Destroy You...
What choice will be listed on the cover of the third and final book in this amazing trilogy!?

The new catchphrase alone has me hyperventilating. I read DIVERGENT right around Splash into Summer, so I never got around to reviewing it (Note to Self: Review SOON!), but it was FABULOUS and I can't wait to read Book 2, INSURGENT.

The cover for INSURGENT was just revealed and has the same styling as DIVERGENT. I love that this time around, the symbol is for Amity's faction, while the first book's logo was for the Dauntless faction. I love the fractured view of Chicago and all the green going on. Blue naturally leads to green in my eyes. With the hues in this green, I wouldn't be surprised to see yellow (or maybe even a bright orange?) for the final, still untitled, volume in this amazing trilogy.

I love the metallic colors in the cover and just...everything! I loved DIVERGENT's cover, too! True, this one isn't as fiery, but it's still alive in its own way. I feel like I could reach out and grab a leaf!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

Alyson Noël: 2 Giveaways, 1 Audio Present, 1 Trailer!

Okay, so there's a LOT going on in this post today! In July, I went to a book signing for the release of EVERLASTING by Alyson Noël at a local bookstore. I brought my voice recorder and taped the lecture leading up to the signing. Alyson was really nice and told me I could share the audio with all of you.

It took me a while to decide on the best way to share it, but ultimately, I threw together a slideshow on YouTube that you can listen to. Sorry it's so plain...this was my first time doing a slideshow "music" video!


Alyson was also giving out fun tattoos at the signing, so I snagged a set to GIVE AWAY to you guys! When MacMillan asked if I wanted to do a giveaway of her latest novel, DREAMLAND, I thought this was a perfect time to share everything with you!

Author: Alyson Noël
Release Date: Out Now (Sept. 6, 2011)
Publisher: Square Fish/MacMillan


Riley's finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams.

As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer's dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it's her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who's been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.

Alyson Noël continues the bestselling story of Riley Bloom as she learns how dreams are made and tries to make contact with her sister, Ever.

Here is the book’s official trailer:


And now, the moment you've been waiting for...!

Enter now to win some fun tattoos from Alyson's 2011 EVERLASTING Tour that look like:

AND enter to win your own copy of her newest novel, DREAMLAND, featuring Ever's sister RILEY!

All you have to do is fill out the following form. Per Publisher's Request, the contest for a copy of DREAMLAND is only open to bookworms in Canada and the USA *BUT* the tattoo swag is open internationally!


Wow, a lot of people entered this one. ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE is getting great buzz, isn't it? I'm sad I only had one copy to give away! Math Goodies chose a low number--16--and are you ready...?

The winner of ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin is…

Danya from A Tapestry of Words, whom I actually mentioned on my blog yesterday because of the awesome Psychtember event she's put together this month!

Congratulations, Danya! It was so nice to see such a hard-working, lovable blogger win this contest!

But if you didn't win, never fear! A new contest is going live later today!

I'll be reviewing ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE soon, so look forward to it! ^_^

[DISCLAIMER: Winner chosen using]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interview with Daisy Whitney/PSYCHTEMBER!

Last year, one of my favorite novels was THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney (review here). I’m waiting VERY impatiently for THE RIVALS to come out next year…not to mention her 2013 novel, WHEN YOU WERE HERE, which I’m already coveting.

Danya from A Tapestry of Words is hosting a major event all month long called PSYCHTEMBER and Daisy was kind enough to do an interview with us!

Danya supplied the heavy-duty questions and I slipped in a few about her future titles, so check it out.

Doesn’t it make you want to read THE MOCKINGBIRDS…or in my case, re-read?


Debz from Debz Bookshelf has a new feature where she interviews bloggers on her blog. I was so honored to be interviewed. I love Debz; I met her during Fairy Tale Fortnight in April and love that she reviews a lot of fairy tales, because hello, so do I!!!

Speaking of fairy tales, do you know what my favorite one is? Or what the first book I ever loved was? What about why I started my blog or where the title A BACKWARDS STORY comes from? Find out the answer to these burning questions and more at Debz’ website!

IMM #2: 9.18.11

In My Mailbox 9.18.11

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren because:

"I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved! Every week I'd share the books I received that week... ones I'd bought, or gotten at the library, and ones that I'd receive to review on the blog. That way I could mention titles that might not otherwise get some face-time on The Story Siren..."

I find the same thing happening at A Backwards Story. I'm so backed up on reviews atm... That's why I like these videos!

YouTube Link

(Shown/Previously Purchased: SILVER PHOENIX by Cindy Pon & FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon...
along with a desktop background/FURY movie poster I entered into her FURY Meets MAD MEN contest:

Which, if you like it, you're welcome to download full-size, 1600 x 1200 FURY poster to use as a background image here. I uploaded it onto Deviant Art. I've never posted anything on there before, so let me know if it isn't working right!

and a painting by Cindy Pon that I won:

...pretty cool, right!?)

THE SEVENTH BLESSING by Melissa Buell [Along with runner-up goodie bag!]
DANGEROUSLY PLACED by Nansi Kunze (ARC/…Finished Copy? from Random House Australia…pretty sure it already released in Australia and is coming to the USA this November…?)
DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst (Finished copy from McElderry/Simon & Schuster)
SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs
SECOND NATURE by Jacquelyn Mitchard
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

Saturday, September 17, 2011

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern


Author: Erin Morgenstern

Release Date: Out Now (Sept. 13, 2011)

Publisher: Doubleday

Received: ARC from work; also purchased a final copy



The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per¬formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

It's kind of funny to see just how many people commented on the fact that they thought THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern was YA because *I* was reading it. Because most of the books I’ve read this year—and the ones I’ve been most excited about—have been YA, it’s frequently assumed that I only read (and review) YA. A lot of people I know were pretty shocked, which amused me because I never thought twice about it! I read whatever interests me. Come to think of it, of my all-time Top 5 novels, only ONE is YA—and it’s middle-grade, not teen. If I took the time to make a Top 10 list, I feel that books 6-10 would be much more fluid than the stagnant Top 5 that are hard to overthrow. But if I did have one, something tells me that THE NIGHT CIRCUS would be on that list.

According to the press summary that came with my ARC, THE NIGHT CIRCUS was one of the most-buzzed-about books at Book Expo America (BEA) this year. The back of the ARC mentions that despite the fact that this is Morgenstern’s debut novel, rights have already been sold in 22 countries (perhaps more now) and Summit Entertainment has already confirmed a movie deal, which IMDB is slating for a 2013 release at the moment.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS absolutely blew me away. It’s gorgeous and Morgenstern has breathed so much life and vitality into her world that I felt something missing after I turned the last page. I wanted more. I wanted Le Cirque des Rêves to be real. I’ve always been enchanted by the magic of the circus, whether watching Cirque du Soleil or last year’s six-part PBS reality mini-series CIRCUS. I have quite a few circus-related novels, too. There’s something so captivating and magical…but especially so with THE NIGHT CIRCUS. I’m having a lot of trouble putting into words just how much I loved this book. It’s about so much more than just a circus. Romance, intrigue, enchantment, betrayal, wonder… This book holds so many emotions and concepts.

The novel takes place at the turn of the nineteenth century and focuses on two illusionists, Celia and Marco. At the beginning of the novel, two men come together to re-ignite the rules of an ancient game that they’ve been playing with one another over the years to see whose student and method of teaching is best. The two men have very different beliefs from one another and what started out as an innocent game of skills has evolved into something much more dangerous. One of the men announces that his young daughter Celia will be his newest pupil, while the other goes to different orphanages looking for “the one” until he discovers Marco. The two children never meet and are never told the rules of the game, only that someday, they will be forced to compete with an unknown opponent.

They both grow up to become highly skilled illusionists, with Le Cirque des Rêves as their battlefield. Marco is apprenticed to Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre, the man who comes up with the idea of Le Cirque des Rêves. He helps implement it and bring life to a circus that comes alive only at night, where performers and the tents are decked out in shades of black and white and gray with no other colors present. Celia is hired as a perform and implements illusions. The moment Marco sees her perform, he knows that she is his competition, though Celia doesn’t realize this until much later. She only knows that her competitor has some association with the circus. The two begin breathing new novelties into the circus and making it richer and fuller…but at the same time, each new creation is a move in their game. Over time, Celia and Marco also begin to fall for one another, forming a forbidden bond that could rival Romeo and Juliet’s, since there can only be one winner and such a relationship will lead to nothing but heartbreak.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is mesmerizing from page one. The first thing I noticed was Morgenstern’s unique writing style. The entire novel is in present tense. Yes, present tense! Upon telling other people this, I’ve heard that not everyone cares for such novelty. To such people, I would say that I didn’t even notice the tense after a while, much as I was able to overlook the crazy slang in Moira Young’s BLOOD RED ROAD earlier this year and focus on the story. Another interesting aspect is that Morgenstern weaves in bits and pieces of the circus from an observer’s perspective—and uses second person so that readers really feel in the moment, as though they’re really at Le Cirque des Rêves. While consistently using third person, she does focus on multiple perspectives to give readers a fuller, richer story, though it is still centered around Celia and Marco. Her descriptions are stunning. Take, for example, Opening Night, when the magical bonfire that is the circus’ heart is lit for the first time:

At midnight, the bonfire is ceremoniously lit, having spent the earlier part of the evening standing empty, appearing to be a simple sculpture of twisted iron. Twelve of the fire performers quietly enter the courtyard with small platforms that they set up along the perimeter like numbers on a clock. Precisely one minute before the hour, they each ascend their respective platforms and pull from their backs shimmering black bows and arrows. At thirty seconds before midnight, they light the tips of their arrows with small dancing yellow flames. Those in the crowd who had not noticed them previously now watch in wonder. At ten seconds before the hour, they raise their bows and aim the flaming arrows at the waiting well of curling iron. As the clock begins to chime near the gates, the first archer lets his arrow fly, soaring over the crowd and hitting its mark in a shower of sparks.

The bonfire ignites in an eruption of yellow flame.

Then the second chime follows, the second archer sends his arrow into the yellow flames, and they become a clear sky-blue.
A third chime with a third arrow, and the flames are a warm bright pink.
Flames the color of a ripe pumpkin follow the fourth arrow.
A fifth, and the flames are scarlet-red.
A sixth brings a deeper, sparkling crimson.
Seven, and the fire is soaked in a color like an incandescent wine.
Eight, and the flames are shimmering violet.
Nine, and violet shifts to indigo.
A tenth chime, a tenth arrow, and the bonfire turns deepest midnight blue.

On the penultimate chime, the dancing flames change from blue to black, and for that moment, it is difficult to discern the fire from its cauldron.

And on the final strike, the dark flames are replaced with a blinding white, a shower of sparks falling like snowflakes around it. Huge curls of dense white smoke swirl up into the night sky.

~pgs. 93 – 94 (Both ARC edition and final product)

It is so easy to fall fully into the world of Le Cirque des Rêves and become immersed in its wonders. There are gardens made completely of ice, bottles that can bring you to another moment/place in time, and unrivaled performances.

The novel unfurls delicately, revealing more page by page. Some might call this slow-moving, but the pacing never feels off. In fact, every time new information is shared, it clicks another puzzle piece into place, even just small things like “So THAT’S why there’s all that red on the book jacket.” THE NIGHT CIRCUS delights me on so many levels and I’m already anticipating the day I get to pick it up again and come back to the circus.


Stunning. The final jacket art is as fantabulous as the novel itself. It’s all black and white and gray with a hint of red. As mentioned above, the red is pretty significant, but it’s a moment you should read about for yourselves, so I won’t mention why here. The first time I saw final cover art for THE NIGHT CIRCUS (because none is featured on the ARC), it was a small picture and I thought the hand was holding a little doll! Only now do I realize that the hand is holding the circus itself. And you know what? Maybe that in and of itself is an illusion, as so much within the book is. What is reality and what is not? All the silver foil that shimmers like a rainbow when the light hits it just right feels magical and, again, really sets the tone of the novel.

A lot of the images are raised and feel coarser than the glossy black coating the rest of the jacket. Even the spine has a rougher feel to it. I love that the book has so many textures; it really fits in with the novels theme of differences. The interior pages are also stunning…so much so that I created a video so you can see this book in all its glory!

You want to know what else is gorgeous? The UK cover for THE NIGHT CIRCUS! Check it out:

Which do you like more?

I don't know about you, but I'm having trouble deciding! They're both amazing...and both represent the book so well! I love the font for the UK cover as well as the way the silhouettes are full of illusions, plus that little tiny punch of red. But I really like the dichotomy of the US cover, too!

Friday, September 16, 2011

SHATTERED SOULS: Interview with Mary Lindsey

Today’s author interview post is part of the Teen Book Scene Tour. Don’t forget to come back and check out my review of SHATTERED SOULS at the end of October! A complete schedule of the tour can be found here. Today, Christie from The Fiction Enthusiast also had a stop. She reviewed SHATTERED SOULS, so check it out! The next stop will be on Monday with Damaris from Good Choice Reading. Alden will be stopping by GCR for a character interview!

To find out more about Mary Lindsey, please visit her website and blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.

SHATTERED SOULS has one of the most gorgeous covers of 2011. How did you feel when you first saw it? Does it tie into the novel?

Thank you! I love it too.

Originally, I was told the cover would probably be an origami rose on a shattered mirror. I was concerned because, although it could have turned out gorgeous, it also had the potential to be ten shades of lame. When my editor emailed me to confirm the length of hair for my main character, I figured they were tinkering with something else.

How did I feel when I first saw it? Like I’d won the lotto! I had no idea the cover would turn out like it did. When my editor emailed me the original mock up of the front of the jacket, I freaked completely out. I probably screamed for ten minutes—long enough for me to lose my voice for a couple of days. After I calmed down, I forwarded it to my agent, who probably screamed for a while too.

The cover is perfect. There is nothing I would change about it. The model looks exactly like I envisioned Lenzi. Not only does the art fit the mood of the book, it fits the story as well. Lenzi’s name in her past lives was Rose. The fact she’s shattering into rose petals is brilliant.
Just thinking about it makes me want to scream and dance all over again!

How did you weave together your own mythology for SHATTERED SOULS, such as coming up with a Speaker and a Protector?

I have often wished I could feel what someone else was feeling, or show them my memories. The Speaker/Protector gig is simply an extension of that.

How cool would it be to live out the old idiom “You don’t know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes”? I mean literally walk in his shoes! Alden can do that. At first, I didn’t use the term Speaker. I called them Intercessors. Speaker fit better with Protector, so there you have it.
The entire mythology spun out of my musings over what it would be like to have someone else’s soul in your body alongside your own. The first scene I wrote was the one in which Alden soul-shares with Lenzi for the first time. It was very different than the scene as it stands now—it was much more violent and frightening.

What did you like most when writing SHATTERED SOULS?

Creating the rules for how the magic worked in the Intercessor world.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a dark gothic YA for Penguin. It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem, “Annabel Lee,” and is scheduled for release Summer, 2013.

Describe your ideal writing environment.
Quiet (nobody around) with a pot of coffee, a bowl of dark chocolate, and lots of light!

Thank you so much, Bonnie, for having me on your blog today.

Mary, thank you so much for stopping by A Backwards Story. I loved reading your responses and am looking forward to your stunning debut! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Book Birthday, Sarah Beth Durst!

I'm constantly surprised by how many people think DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst is a debut novel. Because, um, no, it's the FIFTH book from this brilliant novelist. Over the years, I've embraced her as a strong fairy tale writer. I've even reviewed two of her books, ICE and ENCHANTED IVY, on A Backwards Story! Love her, love her, LOVE HER!

Yet throw in a vampire and suddenly, people are clamoring for her. Which is awesome because Sarah = Awesome. I hope everyone out there enjoying her latest book chooses to dive into her amazing backlist as well!

And for those of you like me who aren't fans of vampires...ummmmmmmm.........

1) It's Sarah Beth Durst
2) The vampire gets stabbed in the heart. With a UNICORN horn. And gains a soul (which reminds me a little of the way Angel has a soul in Buffy...)
3) Again, it's Sarah Beth Durst. With a unicorn horn. End game!

Who else but Sarah Beth Durst could get me excited over a vampire novel?

So Happy Book Birthday to DRINK, SLAY, LOVE! May your nights be full of life and your days be spent in blissful darkness!

HADES Winner!

The winner of HADES by Alexandra Adornetto is…

Kathryn R.!


There's still time to enter to win a copy of ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin! Enter HERE!

Missed my review of HADES or its predecessor, HALO? Never fear, links are here!

[DISCLAIMER: Winner chosen using]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mythological Mondays: SOLSTICE now in paperback!

Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc. Please feel free to do this with me! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. I’ve even included a Linkbox for you. It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too. ^_^

Now available in paperback for the first time...
(From Amazon for $14.99...or ebook edition for $2.99)

Where Mythology and Dystopia meet...

Piper’s world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.

But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.

SOLSTICE is P.J. Hoover's debut YA novel and is the first front-list novel to be independently published by an Andrea Brown Literary Agency author.

From Goodreads

Earlier this summer, P.J. Hoover visited A Backwards Story to share a fantastic guest post entitled DYSTOPIAN BY ACCIDENT with us. Check it out here! I also reviewed SOLSTICE and LOVED it. I was sad that some of you wouldn't get to read it because you don't read ebooks.

Now you can! Check out one of my 2011 favorites now, especially if you love mythology as much as I do!

If you did anything for Mythological Mondays,
I'd love to see it!