Monday, October 31, 2011

THROAT by R.A. Nelson (Book Review)

Author: R.A. Nelson
Release Date: Out now (2010)
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf/Random House
Received: Gift


Seventeen-year-old Emma has a curse.

Her epilepsy, with its embarrassing, unpredictable seizures, has cost her friends and derailed her dreams; she can't even legally drive. The curse is ruining her life--until the night it saves her.

Emma is shocked to wake in a hospital, weak from blood loss, after a lost night on a lonely road. She pieces together a brutal attack by a man--no, monster--a vampire named Wirtz. His feeding was cut short by Emma's grand mal seizure, enabling her to escape. But the curse did more than save her. Now Emma has all the strange and amazing powers of a vampire...without the need to drink blood or fear the sun.

Is Emma some new kind of human? Or is she a neues Blut, a Freshblood, someone only recently turned? One thing is certain: Wirtz is merciless, feared even by his own kind, and won't leave a job undone. Emma must now prepare for a fight to the death--with no idea when it will come.

Acclaimed author R.A. Nelson takes readers on a supernatural thrill ride set at a NASA Space Center and filled with adventure, romance, science, intrigue--and the lore and wars of the undead.

"Another vampire book, Bonnie? And you say you don't read such things..." I know. I know. This is a book a friend passed on last year, and it's just been sitting. I figured, what better time to read it than Halloween? The thing about this book's DIFFERENT. One thing that annoys me about all these vampire books out there is that humans fall in love with the vampires, who aren't as scary and dangerous as everyone else believes...or at least, they aren't upon falling in love. Or, you know, they sparkle. Yeah, not so much. To me, vampires should be portrayed as scary, freaky monsters. They have no soul and drink human blood, after all. In R.A. Nelson's world, vampires are--get this--scary, freaky monsters. They're not romantic. They don't sparkle. They're MONSTERS. It's awesome.

The other thing that sets this book apart from other vampire novels is the fact that the main character, Emma, has epilepsy. She's attacked by a vampire and has a grand mal seizure while being turned. Because of this, the signal gets scrambled and Emma finds herself in a unique position: She's still half-human. Unlike other vampires, she can walk outside day or night. She also doesn't need to drink blood; people food still fuels her. Everything else, however, is like a vampire, from her newfound super-strength and speed to the way her eyes are now ultra-sensitive to light. In Nelson's world, once a human is turned, s/he is connected to the vampire who did the turning. Emma was turned by Wirtz, one of the most intimidating, blood-thirsty vampires of all, and by refusing to answer his call, she's provoked him. He now seeks vengeance as he attempts to reel her in, and is even willing to kill her family to get to her. Emma is forced to run away from home and camp out at an abandoned tower at a NASA base in order to escape and learn more about what she is becoming as she attempts to survive.

Nelson has a powerful way of writing. His words grip me from the very opening of the novel:

"When I was thirteen, I ran away from home because of a curse.

Mom caught up with me miles out in the country, standing in front of an abandoned grain silo. The sky was full of what looked like baby tornadoes. I had just been examined pretty thoroughly by a three-legged dog. I was sweaty, thirsty, filthy with road dust, and my heart was completely fractured" (first hardcover edition).

Emma is a survivor, and readers are hard-pressed not to sympathize with her and root for her. She forms a gradual relationship with a teenager named Sagan who works at NASA and comes to lean on him for support. She also forms a bond with three local vampires who teach her about their beliefs and the war between two factions of vampires with very different belief systems. Even then, Emma struggles with her differences and the fact that she is no longer fully of either word. I loved the way Emma truly cared for her family, even her younger sister. Too many YA novels don't have a good family unit anymore. I also liked the way the book is peppered with German, giving it an antiquated air not present in most books these days. I also enjoyed the firsthand look at a person with a seizure condition, something often overlooked in literature. I think all of these unique features combined with a strong writing style pull together to create a captivating story that is hard to put down.


This cover stood out to me from the very beginning. The model is posed in such a way that she looks absolutely vulnerable and exposed. I love the lighting and think the photographer is brilliant. The cover also has a unique interior design. I like the way each chapter starts with the same design mirrored on the dust jacket's spine. Each page number is detailed in a unique fashion. Even though I think a sun would have been better suited to this book than the moon, I still really enjoy the phases of the moon down the book spine, the full moon on the back jacket, and the way the interior flaps form a full moon when placed together. Annnnnnnnnnnnd there's a hidden surprise when you take off the cover. I love the spine of this book!!!

Here's a video detailing all of these lovely aspects!


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."

This week, we not only have a Cover Crazy, but also a brand-new cover that was just revealed TODAY!

Why I Love This Cover:

The design for TIMEPIECE is as awesome and unique as the one for HOURGLASS
was. When the cover was revealed last Tuesday (Monday?) after I had already done my Cover Crazy, I was really sad. It's been really hard holding off on the reveal until today, but I knew it was the Crazy for the week.

I LOVE the way the photographer uses so many of the same things, from the same model with the gorgeous curly hair to the wallpaper, to the way the model is doing something crazy unusual. In HOURGLASS, she was walking on the wall, and this time around, she's hanging onto the door. This chick STILL has no sense of gravity.

Can you say AMAZING? I have yet to read HOURGLASS, sadly. It's actually sitting at my bedside because I planned to read it this weekend for Halloween, and then I made the mistake of picking up INCARNATE and it blew my reading schedule out of the water. It would be lovely to read it soon, though!


(Click image for a gi-normous detailed look!)

Meg Cabot revealed the cover of UNDERWORLD (the second book in her Persephone & Hades trilogy; the first book, ABANDON, released earlier this year and I did a full cover analysis HERE when I reviewed it) on Twitter earlier today.

I think this cover really matches the first quite well. I think the model might even be wearing the same dress, so maybe this is all a part of a whole. Since Hades' arm is reaching out of the ground to bring Persephone down with him, maybe he will make a full appearance on the cover of. Maybe Persephone will be wearing the same dress again and it will be more of a...tableau of images.

I like the way there are still swirls, the way the square image is still down the spine (because I like when my books are matchy-matchy) and the fact that even though the cover is still dark despite being blue instead of black. I can sort of see all the embossing being silver this time around since it was gold on the first book, but we'll have to wait and see!


I'll post the link here when it's live, but check back later for a vlog featuring the love I feel for the cover of THROAT by R.A. Nelson, which I reviewed today on the blog!

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

IMM #8: 10.30.11

IN MY MAILBOX: 10.30.11

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!


Enter to win HOUSE OF NIGHT: DESTINED by P.C. & Kristin Cast


Nothing atm. Just finished INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows and it's one of THOSE books. You know, the ones that are so good, if you read anything else right after it, it will read like a piece of trash that you would have loved any OTHER time of your life. But not after something so incredible...!


*CROSSED by Ally Condie
*THE ART OF FORGETTING by Camille Noe Pagan
*LEGACY by Cayla Kluver
*RHYMES WITH CUPID by Anna Humphrey
*EPIC FAIL by Claire LaZebnik
*INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows


*THOR (Movie Review)
*SHATTERED SOULS by Mary Lindsey
*DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst

(Also, lots of breaking news in the book world this week, so multiple posts on that front)


(The video's dark again. I filmed it when I got home around 1 am because I was still wide awake. I just couldn't stay up the extra 23 minutes to convert the file to a video, so here it is today!)
Book Loot:
*INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows [ARC for review; releases Jan. 31, 2012
(This book is INCREDIBLE!!!! One of my top favorite fantasy novels EVER! Sorry for being all gushy in the video...but omg!!)
*MY LIFE UNDECIDED by Jessica Brody [Finished copy for review; out now]
(Mentioned in video: Ashley from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing's Just Contemporary Month in November 2011)
*MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE by Anna Staniszewski [e-ARC for review; releases Nov. 1, 2011]
*TEMPEST by Julie Cross [e-ARC for review; releases Jan. 17, 2011]
*BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY by Jaclyn Dolamore [purchased; out now]
(I reviewed an ARC of this during Splash into Summer HERE as well as a fun author interview/teaser chapter HERE!]
*TALES OF THE 500 KINGDOMS: BEAUTY AND THE WEREWOLF by Mercedes Lackey [purchased; out now]
(Pictured: Spines of all the other [non-paranormal-sounding] 500 KINGDOMS novels)
*AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green [borrowed; out now]
*1Q84 by Haruki Murakami [borrowed; out now]

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: Out now (Sept. 13, 2011)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster
Received: Finished copy from author/publisher for review


Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

I love Sarah Beth Durst. I know her predominantly as a "fairy tale author," having read her four previous books (Two of which were previously reviewed on this blog [ICE (and a look back at ICE and other East of the Sun, West of the Moon retellings), ENCHANTED IVY]). When Publisher's Marketplace announced a new two-book deal revolving around vampires, at first, I was a little iffy. Vampires, really? Was Durst going over to the dark side and leaving my lovely fairy tales behind? No, not quite. As I quickly realized, DRINK, SLAY, LOVE was going to be different, unique, something that hadn't been done before. After all, how frequently does a vampire get stabbed in the heart with a unicorn soul and begin to transform? Um, never. I was immediately intrigued.

The vampires in Durst's world are traditional ones that can't go out into sunlight, can be maimed by holy water, etc., etc. The uniqueness comes into play when a vampire named Pearl goes out for a midnight snack and is stabbed in the heart with a unicorn horn. Somehow, she becomes a Sunwalker, the only one of her kind able to see sunlight. Other things begin changing, too, and Pearl becomes evolved in a way that's unheard of among her kind. Pearl's Family is about to host a spectacular event for the King and thanks to Pearl's newfound ability to walk during the day, her parents enroll her in school. It's Pearl's mission to befriend the local students, gain entrance to their homes, and bring back a feast for the upcoming event. Only problem? Pearl begins to care about the fates of the humans she never thought twice about. (Sort of the way Angel from BUFFY has a soul). When she realizes the horrible twist her Family has in store for the ensuing festivities, she must decide whether to her embrace all that is new and different or support the world she's known her entire life.

Durst's characteristic wit and humor is once again present in DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, full of laugh-out-loud moments that keep the pages turning. At times, the analogies to uber-happy thoughts such as unicorns that poop rainbows can be a bit much, but when framed from a cynical vampire's point of view, it's also understandable. The descriptions are easy to visualize; one of my favorites occurs early on when Pearl is seeing the world shimmering in the sun for the first time. I loved the whimsical flare to this otherwise paranormal novel and the new unicorn lore unique to Durst. Pearl goes through a lot of character growth and I found myself invested in her plight. I loved every scene she had with Evan, the human who takes her under his wing, as well as his friend Bethany. Watching Pearl adjust to high school with her superior attitude was amusing. This book was a fun, carefree read that stands on its own, though there set-up for a sequel, which I already can't wait to read!


I bet you're expecting me to say I hate this cover because I'm squeamish and it hints at blood. If so, you're wrong. I've actually liked this cover since the moment it was revealed earlier this year. The model's make-up is perfect. I love the color of her lipstick and the way her skin is perfectly pearly. The tall, old fashioned bottle she's drinking out of is a lot of fun, and I especially like the touch of lipstick at the edge of the straw. The title is positioned well (and I love the pun on EAT, PRAY, LOVE), and the author's name is a similar shade to the aforementioned lipstick. The edging near the flaps on both the front and back of the jacket is composed of checkboxes that utilize the various colors in teh cover and bring them all together. This is an eye-grabbing cover for sure!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Movie News: THE BORROWERS will be animated!

I just saw a movie trailer that brought me back to my childhood. One of my favorite books growing up was THE BORROWERS by Mary Norton and the accompanying sequels.

I'm also a big fan of Studio Ghibli, which brought us spectacular animated movies such as SPIRITED AWAY and HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (based on the fabulous book of the same title by Diana Wynne Jones [May she rest in peace!!]). Disney has done a lovely job translating these Japanese movies into English and sharing them with us.

I was really excited to find a trailer for the next Ghibli movie coming State-side and see that it's THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY, releasing (in English) on February 17 2012!

While I wish the movie kept the title of the book rather than use the main character's name, I'm still really excited. I believe this book was turned into a live-action movie in the 90s, but it's truly suited for animation.

I want to see this and re-visit my childhood!

And if I needed one MORE reason to rejoice? Hand-animated. Oh, how I've gotten sick of all these CG characters, stunning as they might appear...

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out the brand-new trailer:

Book Review: SHATTERED SOULS by Mary Lindsey

Today’s review is part of the Teen Book Scene Tour. A complete schedule of the tour can be found here. SHATTERED SOULS is Mary Lindsey's debut novel and launches December 8, 2011. A Backwards Story recently posted an interview with the lovely Mary Lindsey for Teen Book Scene, so if you missed it, CHECK IT OUT!!
To find out more about Mary Lindsey, please visit her website and blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Author: Mary Lindsey
Release Date: Dec. 8, 2011)
Publisher: Philomel/Penguin
Received: ARC from author/publisher for review/blog tour


Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

This is one of those books where the cover is so devastatingly beautiful that it makes you take notice. I couldn't tell whether or not I'd like this book after reading the summary. There was definitely potential, but I'm not really a paranormal person. But that cover!!! I also liked the fact that author Mary Lindsey was weaving her own mythology into the mix and when Teen Book Scene listed SHATTERED SOULS for an upcoming tour, I decided to take a chance on the title. While at times, the novel reminded me a bit of Lauren Kate's FALLEN and Courtney Allison Moulton's ANGELFIRE, it was also uniquely its own.

Reincarnation has always been a popular subject matter. People always want to believe that there's life after death and love reading about people who have defeated the odds and come back to live again. Winners of the Reincarnation Lottery, of course, are the ones who remember their past. In SHATTERED SOULS, Lenzi is a reincarnated soul who no longer remembers her past. She thinks she's ordinary until she starts hearing voices. She's convinced she's becoming schizophrenic and crazy like her father until she meets Alden. Of course, Alden seems crazier than she is. He states that he's Lenzi's Protector and that she's a reincarnated Speaker, able to speak with the dead and send them onward when they're in a state of unrest. Lenzi refuses to believe him until he proves firsthand the truth of his words. Usually when a Speaker is reincarnated, he or she remembers each and every past life. Lenzi can't remember ever being Rose, a prominent Speaker who was very good at her job. Lost and confused, she must turn to Alden for help, even as the world she thought she knew begins unraveling around her.

Tense and gripping, SHATTERED SOULS is filled with many edge-of-your-seat moments. Scenes revolving around ghosts and exorcisms are properly creepy; I wouldn't want to be a Speaker--or a Protector. The romance that builds between Lenzi and Alden unfurls slowly and in a natural fashion. Lenzi's relationship with her crazy ex-boyfriend can be eye-raising at times, and I wish she had been less wishy-washy in her feelings. I feel that Lenzi did grow as a character throughout the book and think she'll have a stronger backbone in the next novel. The novel is also peppered with interesting secondary characters that I would have liked to learn more about and hope to do so in the future. The world building is sturdy and creates a unique environment I haven't seen before, but would like to explore again. SHATTERED SOULS can stand alone, but leaves questions unanswered and various elements slightly under-developed so there will be someplace to go when and if another novel should be released in this world. I hope there will be; I'd love to watch Lenzi grow even more as she embraces her new role in life.


Hands down, there is no question that SHATTERED SOULS is one of my favorite covers of 2011. It's simply STUNNING. No ifs, ands, buts, or maybes. I love the way the model's dress is made out of rose petals---ones that are beginning to decay and blow away and crumble. It's especially poignant because the main character Lenzi's middle name is Rose. I love the way the image makes it seem as though Lenzi is shattering.

And the title treatment! It's also shattering apart. It fits perfectly with the title and the overall concept. I love it!!

Not only that, Mary Lindsey has shared the FULL JACKET ART with me to pass on to all of you, my favorite book worms. The jacket wraps around the spine and onto the back:

(Click the image for a larger, more detailed look!)

And on the back, I love that there's an origami rose (part of the original cover design concept), because it ties in to the way Lenzi is always absently creating such things when nervous!!

Love, love, LOVE this cover in more ways than I can begin to say!

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

HUNGER GAMES Movie Posters Revealed!

Character posters for THE HUNGER GAMES were revealed across various multimedia outlets today. A total of eight posters were revealed on sites such as MTV and Entertainment Weekly.

All eight posters can be found at The Hob, the official fan site for the series, including a first look at anticipated characters such as Rue, Effie, and Cinna.

You know you want to catch them all (Or is that Pokemon...??), so stop over and check out the list!

What do you think so far? Is the jury still out?

I doubt these will be THE POSTERS to hang in theaters and on billboards across the country because they're so basic, but it's something! I also like the way Katniss is facing the opposite direction from everyone else!!

BREAKING NEWS: New FINS book from Tera Lynn Childs!!

Rejoice, mermaid fans!!! Tera Lynn Childs, the author of FORGIVE MY FINS and FINS ARE FOREVER, has just announced that there will be a THIRD fins book releasing Summer 2012. The title is still TBA, but I already want it!!! I've been hoping Tera would allow us all to journey back beneath the sea since finishing the second book. I want this, I want this, I WANT THIS.

...Did I mention that I wanted this? Because I so totally do! ^.~

BREAKING NEWS: From Book to...TV Series!?

One of my favorite YA novels of the year, UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand, has been optioned to become a TV series for the CW. This doesn't necessarily mean the show WILL see the light of day, only that it's in development to become a potential series. I'm not sure whether or not I'll watch it because I love the book *so* much and I don't know if that love will translate to screen. Plus, I really don't watch a lot of TV. A lot of YA has made its way to the screen lately, from GOSSIP GIRL to THE VAMPIRE DIARIES to THE SECRET CIRCLE to PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (which, yes, I know isn't CW...). I've never seen any of these or read any of the books, so I couldn't tell you how much the network(s) got--or didn't get--right, but I do know that having a TV deal led to monster book sales. At the very least, if the series sells, there will be THAT many more UNEARTHLY fans, right? (But more people to fight over Tucker.... *mine*)

The news, which broke in The Hollywood Reporter and was mentioned on Hand's blog, also mentioned that adult fantasy author Kim Harrison's series THE HOLLOWS is also being developed for The CW.

I used to watch The CW when it was still "The WB" and "UPN." Well, mostly The WB until BUFFY moved to UPN. The channel was the staplehood of my school years, from DAWSON'S CREEK to GILMORE GIRLS. I haven't watched it since the merger until this year when Sarah Michelle Gellar returned to star in RINGER.

And finally, while we're on the subject, this may not be breaking news anymore, but Amy Holder's THE LIPSTICK LAWS is also being developed for a TV series, though there's no network connected to it as of yet. Amy Holder is another 2011 debut author.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I personally have never read the HOUSE OF NIGHT books, though I do own a few books from PC Cast's adult mythology novels. I couldn't pass up the chance to share the trailer for the latest book in the series, DESTINED, and offer up a finished copy to one lucky reader courtesy of St. Martin's and Zeitghost Media!

Author: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Release Date: Out Now (Oct. 25, 2011)
Publisher: St. Martin's


Breathing hard, Aurox stood there over the bodies of his vanquished enemies. He turned to Neferet.

"Very good," she said in her emotionless voice. "Let us leave this place before the authorities descend."

Aurox followed her. He walked heavily, his hooves gouging furrows in the dirty alley.

Weak. He felt weak. And more. There was something else.

"What is it?" She snapped at him when he hesitated before entering the car again.

"I do not know. I feel--"

She laughed. "You don't feel at all. You're obviously overthinking this."

"Yes, Priestess." Aurox got in the car and let the world speed past him.
I do not think. I do not feel. I am a weapon.

Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet -- which would be a whole lot easier if the High Council saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together -- if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia's handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there's the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more -- or possibly less -- than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there's something strangely familiar about him . . .

Will Neferet's true nature be revealed before she succeeds at extinguishing Light? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox's humanity in time to protect them all? Find out what's destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

Here is the book’s official trailer:


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

If you've come this far, you know you want to read the latest installment in THE HOUSE OF NIGHT. Enter now to win and this book can be yours! ^_^

All you have to do is fill out the following form. Per Publisher's Request, the contest for a copy of DESTINED is only open to bookworms in Canada and the USA.

You must be at least thirteen years old to enter or have a parent enter for you.
Giveaway ends Nov. 6th!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: ALLEGIANCE by Cayla Kluver

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine. This event highlights our most-wanted upcoming releases!

Author: Cayla Kluver
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Add it:


I finished reading LEGACY last night and, um, I really want to know what happens next! Nothing is heading in quite the direction I thought it would and the summary sounds like things are really about to get intense. Besides, I need my dose of fantasy!


An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn...

What are you anxiously waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mythological Mondays: THOR

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. ^_^

Last weekend, a co-worker loaned me the movie THOR to watch. I'd heard from a couple of people that the movie was really good. I've never followed the Marvel comic series and I'm ashamed to admit that I don't know nearly as much about Norse mythology as I'd like to (Maybe that will change once Rick Riordan starts releasing his next series in 2015...). So I won't be able to make as many connections in the movie as other people will. I'm not sure of all that's fact or fiction. I can, however, say that the movie was an enjoyable way to pass the time and made me curious about Norse mythology all over again.

I actually did a little googling and found this awesome article that talks a bit about the differences between the Marvel Thor and the Mythological Thor. I thought it was informative and if you're at all curious, you will as well. ^_^

In the movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lives in the beautiful realm of Asgard and is about to ascend to the throne and take his father Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) place. In Marvel's version, Thor is also related to Loki (Tom Hiddleston), though in mythology, this connection doesn't exist. At Thor's ceremony, something goes wrong and after dealing with the Frost Giants (which do exist in Norse mythology), Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him. Thor winds up on Earth in modern times and is helped by some scientists (Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings) after he is discovered. With Loki gone, it is discovered that betrayal runs deep in Asgard. Female warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and the Warriors Three [Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano)], commit treason and journey to Earth to bring Thor back.

The CG is stunning. Asgard looked like a real place. It was golden and gorgeous and I wish it existed for real. The Frost Giants were perfectly creepy-looking; their make-up was fantastic. The costumes really brought us into the world of Norse mythology, and I was especially enamored with the design for Thor, Sif, and Heimdrall (Idris Elba), who guarded the bridge portal to the other realms. I mostly know director Kenneth Branagh from the way he's able to bring Shakespeare to the screen and it was interesting to see him work with a story that has mythological roots. The movie occurred over such a short span of time that it was hard to fully believe that Thor could fall in love with Jane (Portman's character) so fast, let alone learn his lesson and fully embrace the power of his destiny. At the same time, watching him take control and wield ultimate power was captivating, and not just because of Hemsworth's beautiful blue eyes. The screen crackled with electricity whenever confrontations occurred between Thor, Odin, and/or Loki. The family dynamics were full of believable chemistry that pulls viewers in and captures their attention.

Again, I'm not sure how close the mythological roots are to the movie (or even the Marvel series), but I knew some of the Norse basics going into this movie and want to know more after having finished. This may or may not be a good movie if you know a LOT about Norse mythology or are a dedicated comic book fan (if, that is, it strays from the comic), but if you're like me and only know the basics, THOR is a fun movie worth watching, especially for the visual effects!

Did you do a Mythological Mondays post?

Cover Crazy: INNOCENT DARKNESS by Suzanne Lazear

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:

It's a STEAMPUNK FAIRY TALE, y'all! Yes, you read that right. What fairy tale? IDK! And atm, I don't care, either, because how awesome will this probably be??? I love the logo where the title rests, from the font treatment to the cogs surrounding everything!

Her hair is sparkly, despite the bleakness of all the other colors. The whole image just screams steampunk (which I still don't have a lot of experience with). I also really like the strip at the bottom with the design and author's name.

I don't know...I like everything about this one!

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

IMM #7: 10.23.11

IN MY MAILBOX: 10.23.11

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!


*THE ART OF FORGETTING by Camille Noe Pagan
*CROSSED by Ally Condie


*SHATTERED SOULS by Marie Lindsey
*LEGEND by Marie Lu
*BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack
*DRINK, SLAY, LOVE by Sarah Beth Durst


*PAST PERFECT by Leila Sales (Blog Tour Stop with author guest post)
*ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin
*AUDITION by Stasia Kehoe Ward (Blog Tour Stop with author guest vlog)


(The video's dark again. I filmed it when I got home around 1 am because I was still wide awake. I just couldn't stay up the extra 23 minutes to convert the file to a video, so here it is today!)


*Various Book Discussion Guides, a pen featuring Rick Riordan's HEROES OF OLYMPUS, and both a poster and reusable bag featuring William Joyce's GUARDIANS OF CHILDHOOD series

Autographed Books:

*WATERSMEET by Ellen Jensen Abbott [my purchase]
*THE CENTAUR'S DAUGHTER by Ellen Jensen Abbott (A WATERSMEET novel) [my purchase]
*SLEEPLESS by Cyn Balog [NOT mine but co-autographed to me...]
*FAIRY TALE by Cyn Balog [NOT mine but co-autographed to me...]
*STARSTRUCK by Cyn Balog [NOT mine but co-autographed to me...]

Other Purchases or Books/ARCs Received in Mail

FROST by Wendy Delsol [Purchased; sequel to STORK]
*SPIRIT'S PRINCESS by Esther Friesner [e-ARC for review; releases Apr. 24, 2012]
*DAUGHTER OF THE CENTAURS by K.K. Ross [e-ARC for review; releases Jan. 24, 2012]
*PEACEWEAVER by Rebecca Barnhouse [e-ARC for review; releases Marc 22, 2012]
*THE MERCHANT'S DAUGHTER by Melanie Dickerson [e-ARC for review; releases Nov. 29, 2011]
*THE MERMAID SUMMER by Mollie Hunter [From my mermaid soul twin Jennifer, who reviews books on THREE blogs, which can all be found here]
*GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers [ARC for review; releases March 7, 2012; mentioned back in January & anticipated since the books sold in 2010!!!!!!!]
*SWITCHED by Amanda Hocking [ARC for review from work; ebook out now; paperback publishes Jan. 3, 2012]
*THIS DARK ENDEAVOR by Kenneth Oppel [Finished copy for review from work; out now; mentioned: Misty from The Book Rat]

Borrowed From Library
(Because I apparently can't go to the library without borrowing books...)

*THE ART OF FORGETTING by Camille Noe Pagan
*FORBIDDEN SEA by Shelia A. Nielson (Mermaid Cinderella? Yes, please!!)
*THE SCORCH TRIALS by James Dashner
*THE DEATH CURE by James Dashner
*AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton
*MISFIT by Jon Skovron

Bi-Annual Library Book Blow-Out Sale
(Because how can you resist a book if it's $1 or less?)

*MAGIC OR MADNESS by Justine Larbalestier
*THE LIGHTNING THIEF by Rick Riordan (First edition cover!!!)
*BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
*THE DRAGON HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima
*THE WIZARD HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima
*SHADOWS OF MYTH by Rachen Lee
*MAGIC IN THE MIRRORSTONE: TALES OF FANTASY edited by Steve Berman (Authors include Holly Black, Cecil Castellucci, Cassandra Clare, Eugie Foster, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and Gregory Frost)
*CLAIM TO FAME by Margaret Peterson Haddix
*THIEF EYES by Janni Lee Simner
*HUSH by Donna Jo Napoli
*BEHEMOTH by Scott Westerfeld

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: AUDITION by Stasia Kehoe Ward (Debut Novel)

We’re about to enter the final week of author Stasia Kehoe Ward’s official blog tour for her debut novel AUDITION. Stasia has shared a special character vlog with A Backwards Story readers that really sheds some light onto the writing process! Keep reading to enter an amazing giveaway and read my review of this artistic new book!

Does Stasia’s vlog make you want to know more about AUDITION? Read on!

Author: Stasia Kehoe Ward
Release Date: Out Now (Oct. 13, 2011)
Publisher: Viking/Penguin
Received: ARC from author/publisher for review/blog tour


When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

“Dare I tell them that since I came here to dance
I have been giving pieces of my body away
To ridiculous diets,
To repeated injuries,
To Remington?
And that maybe
I think
With each bit of my body
I lose a little piece of my soul.”

Before AUDITION, I’d never read a verse novel before. Forgive the pun, but it felt as though verse was auditioning its potential for me in this debut novel by Stasia Kehoe Ward. It was showcasing that, like prose, it too could be seductive and draw readers in, bringing them closer to a character’s heart than they might otherwise get. The writing itself felt like a well-choreographed dance, each word relying on every other to pull together a whole performance.

The life of a dancer is a hard one, as AUDITION so eloquently shows readers. The main character, Sara, learned to dance in the neighborhood ballet teacher’s basement. She’s sent to audition for admittance to various dance academy’s and is offered a scholarship to the Jersey Ballet. While the school isn’t as prestigious as one other dancers are sent to, she holds onto the opportunity, having felt she might have been accepted nowhere. Her family sacrifices a lot for her expensive new life style that includes a prestigious high school and boarding with the family of ballet master Senõr Medrano. Growing up, dancing never consumed Sara’s life the way it does upon entering the Jersey Ballet. There is so much more pain and heart-ache at this level; it is a lifestyle for the truly dedicated at heart. Sara is not as experienced as others who had more prestigious teachers in the fast. She’s not necessarily as tall, as thin, as talented. She obsesses over her appearances and begins to diet in order to have something to talk about with the other girls. In a fashion that reminds me a bit of the movie CENTER STAGE, Sara falls for Remington, a choreographer in his early 20s. He introduces her to new things and opens her body to new experiences. Is this relationship a positive one, or is he taking more from Sara than she initially thought possible? Was dancing always the true holder of her heart, or was it something that she was guided toward by her mother? Is all of this pain, loneliness, and sacrifice worth it? Sara goes through so many of the who/what/when/where/why/how moments that every dancer at this level experiences and must decide the direction she wants her life to take on her own.

The addition of verse brings readers to the heart of Sara’s struggles, making it raw and more emotional. At the same time, because we so intensely feel Sara, we only see things through her eyes. The characters she cares less about are less developed, for example. I, for one, would have loved to see more of ballet master Senõr Medrano’s son Julio. He would have treated her better than Remington, in my opinion. Remington was a bit pompous, but I can see why a girl like Sara would be attracted to him. Ward’s above vlog talks more about Remington’s character and draws more light on him. I’m still not positive if verse is my first choice when reading because its nature makes it sparser than the prose I’m used to, but the style worked well for a book centered around the world of dance. Ashley from Basically Amazing Books recently did a guest post over at The Grammarian’s Reviews on why she loves verse and lists other recommendations for readers curious to read more verse. Books like AUDITION and BUNHEADS make me realize just how much my family and I might have sacrificed if I’d gotten the dance lessons I always begged for as a child. With such novels, I can live vicariously and dance without working up a sweat, getting bunions on my feet, or leaving the comfort of my bed. Being able to envision yourself in another world is the true power of the written word.


I really like the way the cover is peppered with lines from the book in the background, weaving themselves in the air like a living, breathing entity. The model’s expression is perfect. The way she’s looking at the male model portray Remington is full of so many meanings. On one hand, she looks entranced, staring right into her eyes as though she can’t look away from him. On the other, her mouth is pursed in such a way that it could be that she’s analyzing him and what he wants from her this time. I don’t think Sara ever fully trusts Remington, as infatuated as she is with him, and the model exudes that sentiment in her expression. Remington, on the other hand, looks laid-back and confident, sure of himself and once again getting his way. The dynamics work well together and create an attractive cover that hints at the story lying within.

And finally, what blog tour stop is complete without a shiny GIVEAWAY? Click the button below to shoot over to Stasia’s blog and enter to win one of three prize packs!

Enter Here!

One last thing! Upcoming Dance Event!

Marisa from The Writing Dancer and I are putting together a one-week event entitled DANCEAWAY for everyone as nutty about dance as we are! We’d love it if you featured our button on your blog or social site during the next couple of weeks to help promote our event!
<div align="center"><a href="" title="A Backwards Story" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="A Backwards Story" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

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