Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week in Review: The "Of Kings and Queens" Edition

T h e  O f  K i n g s  &  Q u e e n s  E d i t i o n !

I'll get back on track this week, bookworms! :)

I love epic fantasy with its kingdoms and knights and royalty, etc.  This week's edition is dedicated to all the books I acquired this week falling into the genre!


*DEGREES OF WRONG by Anna Scarlett {Win the book and some fun swag!}
*Author Swag from the PAYA Festival!
*MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama

Last Day to Enter!

*THE SPINDLERS by Lauren Oliver
[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]

*BEAUTIFL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
*EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington
*ENTICE by Jessica Shirvington

*Hangs head in shame*  I'll make up for it this week!!

*Asking YOU About Changes to Mythological Mondays!
*{Blog Tour} MONSTROUS BEAUTY Audiobook Excerpt
*{The Scribbler} When Little Nuggets Become Big Ideas


*MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama
{Jen from Literally Jen got this signed at a recent Fierce Reads blog tour near her since the lovely Elizabeth Fama isn't coming to me during my tour stop. *cries, but also happy for having a Jen!*  I've reviewed this, featured the audiobook, and Elizabeth Fama has stopped by for both an interview and a guest post on writing!  Today is the last day to enter to win your own copy!}

*WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang
{I put together a You're Gonna LOVE Me post back in June and will be featuring this great book again on my blog soon!}

*FLOCK by Wendy Delsol
{The final book in the STORK trilogy, which features elements of Norse mythology and the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale!}

*STARCROSSED by Elizabeth C. Bunce
{I've previously reviewed another novel by Bunce, A CURSE DARK AS GOLD, based around the tale of Rumpelstiltskin.  I'm not sure if this is a fairy tale or not, but I've wanted to read it for a while and I found a copy at a bargain book warehouse shop that opened near me for only $3!!!}


*BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O'Brien
{I don't know much about this series other than that it's dystopian and the author is coming here next month for a Fierce Reads tour stop!}

*PRIZED by Caragh M. O'Brien
{I don't know much about this series other than that it's dystopian and the author is coming here next month for a Fierce Reads tour stop!}

*GATEWAY by Sharon Shinn
{This is the third or fourth time I've attempted to snag this one from the library now.  Maybe I'll read it this time? ^^;  It's about a girl whose ring takes her "through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China."}

*AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton
{Erhm, I've snagged this one from the library before, too...and started it! It was just due back before I could finish...}

*TRINITY by C.J. Bolyne
{Out now}
{Watch out for an upcoming blog tour!  This is a fantasy featuring gods, etc., and intrigues me.}
*TRINITY by Clare Davidson
{Out now}
{No, this title isn't a glitch.  TWO books called TRINITY this week! Watch out for an upcoming blog tour! This one is about a girl who is a goddess cursed to bring down her world sentenced to be an outcast.  Sounds goooood!}

*PATH OF NEEDLES by Hannah Kolleff
{Out Oct. 12, 2012}
{Watch out for an upcoming blog tour!  This one intertwines original fairy tales into the world of fae, so it sounds unique!}

*FATHOM by Merrie Destefano
{Out tomorrow}
{Watch out for an upcoming blog tour!  Mermaids and sirens FTW!!!}

*FIREBRAND by Gillian Philip
{Out Feb. 19, 2013}
{Thanks to Edelweiss and Tor! An exiled son must stop his Queen from destroying the Veil before it's too late...}

{Out March 5, 2013}
{Thanks to Edelweiss and Tor Teen! This one is about a girl who is, literally, a nightmare.  Um, WHAT!?  Who doesn't want to read that??}

*WHAT WE SAW AT NIGHT by Jacquelyn Mitchard
{Out Jan. 08, 2013}
{Thanks to Edelweiss and Soho Teen! I love Jacquelyn Mitchard.  LOVE.  She writes for both teens and adults, and her new book falls in the YA category and is in the veins of Ishiguro's NEVER LET ME GO.}

*COLLATERAL by Ellen Hopkins
{Out Nov. 06, 2012}
{Thanks to Edelweiss and Atria Books! The tag states that the book "captures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind."  I recently R&R my first Hopkins novel, TILT, and thought her new adult novel sounded like her most promising title [for my tastes] yet.}

*DOOMED by Tracey Deebs
{Out Jan. 08, 2013}
{Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury! I've interviewed the author in the past for her TEMPEST trilogy about mermaids as well as reviewed her co-written novel under a pen name, THE INTERNATIONAL KISSING CLUB.  This one is about a Greek-themed MMO game and a  girl named Pandora who opens an email attachment that brings a killer virus to our society!}
{Out Oct. 29, 2012}
{Thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press! This one is about a princess who finds herself "caught in the middle of a war between the kingdoms. Can she count on her betrothed to take her side? Or will his loyalty to his kingdom come before his loyalty to her?"}

*THE BLACK GOD'S WAR by Moses Siregar III
{Out now}
{Thanks to Netgalley and Cup of God! This one is about gods and war and kings and the fate of two realms.  Oooh, ahhhh!}

{Out Feb. 19, 2013}
{Thanks to Edelweiss and Macmillan Feiwel and Friends! This book reminds me of a series I used to love entitled FRUITS BASKET because it also deals with the possibility of a 13th Zodiac Sign, and I'm immediately intrigued by this.  "What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs?"}
What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

{The Scribbler} When Little Nuggets Become Big Ideas

I decided to retire Word Count Wednesdays because I don't often bother to post it.
I still like talking about writing, though, and decided to merge WCW into The Scribbler,
which can be for any writing topics I wish to talk about.

Yesterday morning when I was still in the land that hovers between awake and asleep, my mind passed over an idea I had earlier this year.  It's something I think about on and off, and I've been considering beginning development on it in November for NaNoWriMo, though I really hate how frantic that event is when you don't have enough free time to dole out.  Plus, it's another contemporary, and I really want to work on a different genre after FizzyPop.  Even more to the point, this one is middle-grade, which I never though I'd write, either.  Especially contemporary middle-grade.  It's the contemporary genre I read least, followed by teen contemporary.  So if I go through with this, how much harder will my internal struggle be?  But if I just play around during NaNo, maybe, just maybe...

Anyway, I was working on internal character development for the main character's mother.  I know the type of mother I want her to be, and I was thinking about how she got to where she in life, the things that shaped her.  Writers often develop full backstories for their characters that readers are never privy to.  The characters know, however, and it shapes their present.  In that moment of internal thought, I realized that if I go even deeper into her backstory on paper than I'd been intending to, she has her own story to tell.  It's possible that if I dig hard enough, I can unearth a second story, one for teens or perhaps even adults, depending on where the lines of her life wind up falling.

So now what started out as a simple story with typical character development has the potential to become more.  In a way, this scares me.  And not just because it would mean more contemporary writing. I know how hard world building is, and I've never completely built a major backstory for a secondary character before in such a deep, full style that merits  a companion novel.  If companion is even the right word.  It sort of reminds me of the way Ellen Hopkins' TILT and TRIANGLES revolve around two sides of the same timeline from different perspectives, except what I'm doing wouldn't occur at the same time, but more as a...prequel, in a way.

So for now, I'll keep thinking, keep considering.  I told myself over the summer that if I finished a rough draft of Fizzypop by the end of October, I could start developing something new in November for NaNo, not necessarily focusing on 50,000 words of story, but on full-speed development.  I only have one month left to do that, and I haven't worked on FizzyPop since I unstuck my knot due to how hard September has been on me.  Time will tell, though.

We'll see!

Monday, September 24, 2012

{Blog Tour} MONSTROUS BEAUTY Audiobook Excerpt

Want even more reviews, features, and chances to win? 
Check out Macmillan's Blog Tour Schedule!

Elizabeth Fama is part of Macmillan's Fall 2012 Fierce Reads campaign and will be going on a multi-city and multi-author tour in September. Details can be found on Facebook.

Have you entered the giveaway to win a copy of MONSTROUS BEAUTY from Macmillan? Hurry, the last day to enter is the 30th!

I recently did a guest post with Elizabeth Fama where she talked about "Weaving the Past with the Present" in writing. 

I've also reviewed this lovely novel to help you make up your mind about reading it.  Need even more incentive to read this?

Macmillan was kind enough to share an excerpt of the audiobook with A Backwards Story to feature during the tour:

 A chapter excerpt of MONSTROUS BEAUTY can be read on the Fierce Reads Fan Page and a free Fall 2012 Fierce Reads chapter sampler for e-readers is now available!
Are you Fierce enough?
Watch the trailer! Download the song!
Become a fan of Fierce Reads to find out more!

Asking YOU About Changes to Mythological Mondays!

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. Leave a comment for us all to see! 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!

So I'm considering merging Mythological Mondays into a weekly feature that allows fairy tales and other lore to be included.  I feel like I'd be able to update the feature on a more regular basis because I no longer have enough time to squeeze in mythology every single week, but if I mix it up, I can.

What are you thoughts?  Do you like/hate the idea?  Do you want it to remain as-is?

I'm also considering moving the day the feature posts because it competes with my Cover post right now, even though the Cover Crazy meme no longer exists (I'm also not sure I like my new title because revealing cover art is also limiting, but I'm still working on it.... and listening to suggestions, hint/hint!).

Would you rather have a couple of posts in one day or spread it out more?  I always feel like I'm slamming you with info....

Thanks for the input!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week in Review: The Special Edition

T h e  S p e c i a l  E d i t i o n !

There are some highly anticipated fall reads that dropped into my hands these last two weeks, which makes today's edition special.

I'd also like to dedicate today's post to a special friend of mine who has always loved reading, a friend I've had on my mind all week.

I'll try to have more posts up this week, but blogging isn't at the forefront of my mind right now, so it might take a week or two to cram your days with posts again.  For that, I apologize.


*DEGREES OF WRONG by Anna Scarlett {Win the book and some fun swag!}
*Author Swag from the PAYA Festival!
*MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama

I'll be picking winners this week!

*BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
*THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson {re-read}
*LOVE ANTHONY by Lisa Genova
[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]

*THE SWEETEST SPELL by Suzanne Selfors
*PLAYING WITH FIRE by Tamara Morgan
*THE SHADOW CATS by Rae Carson

*TILT by Ellen Hopkins
*STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff
*CURSED by Jennifer Armentrout

*Cover Art Revealed: DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers
*Smart Chicks Kick It: Tour Stop Recap


Physical Arcs / Finished Copies:

*LOVE ANTHONY by Lisa Genova
{Out this Tuesday, Sept. 25th}
{From the award-winning author of STILL ALICE and LEFT NEGLECTED.  Lisa Genova is one smart lady, a Harvard Neuroscientist, and her books all involve intense medical situations.}

*Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris by Marissa Moss
{Out now}
{Watch out for the blog tour (and my stop!) in October from Sourcebooks!}

*VESSEL by Sarah Beth Durst
{Out now}
{Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Sarah Beth Durst for the lovely finished copy.  I'll be reviewing this one as soon as I can make time to read it, as well as interviewing this amazing author!  I've loved all of her books and am so excited about this one!}


{really enjoyed THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and have been really looking forward to the sequel!  I'm re-reading the first book now, and I also read the ebook novella THE SHADOW CATS in preparation for this book!}

*BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
{I'm reading the first book, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES now.  I was lucky enough to attend the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour this past week and meet Kami Garcia!  This is book two in the series.}

*BEAUTIFUL CHAOS by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
{I'm reading the first book, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES now. I was lucky enough to attend the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour this past week and meet Kami Garcia! This is book two in the series.}

*SWEET SHADOWS by Tera Lynn Childs
{I need to read this SOON so I can give away some swag!!  This is the sequel to SWEET VENOM.}
What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour Stop Recap

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the final leg (and perhaps final stop ever?) of the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour.  Our tour stop featured authors Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Rachel Caine, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Melissa de la Cruz, Kami Garcia, and Sarah Rees Brennan.

I have to admit, I'd never read any of these authors before.  I have read authors from previous tour stops (Ally Condie, Kimberly Derting, Beth Revis, and Veronica Roth) and wish a couple of them could have been in PA as well because I own books from all of these women.

These were just too cute to resist,
especially at a mere $1.99 a pop!
I wavered over going because it's been a hard week for me and I feel weird doing anything "fun," but I'd promised my mom I'd go to the event with her because she's a huge Melissa Marr fan.  She thinks she's one with the fairies because her maiden name is Ferri.  She was upset to miss her the last time she came around because she'd been sick.  I didn't want to let her down.  Besides, I wanted to stop at Target for my Target-exclusive deluxe editions of new CDs from The Killers and P!NK, as well as grab a bottle of ORLY nail polish in "Smolder" at ULTA before my coupon expires on the 22nd, so I kept my plans. (And while at ULTA, I found these great coffin-shaped nail polishes from Wet n Wild's Fantasy Makers line for only $1.99 each and they were so cute that I had to buy three of the four colors remaining.... and yes, I know I have a problem...)

The event itself was great.  All of the authors mentioned a little bit about themselves, then did a pop quiz and gave away fun prizes.  They answered a lot of questions and also did a lightning round, opening up the floor to anything and everything, even if it was embarrassing.  For me, there were two stand-out questions and responses.

One asked the authors what it was like to co-write a book.  It was interesting to hear about a middle-grade Norse mythology series that Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr are co-writing.  Um, I want to read it right now.  You know how much I love mythology!  It was so interesting to hear about the way Melissa Marr sleeps during the day, spends time with her children in the evening, and writes overnight.  When she goes to bed, Kelley Armstrong starts writing her part and they swap back and forth.  Melissa de la Cruz talked a little bit about co-writing with her husband, and Kami Garcia touched upon the way she writes with Margaret Stohl, to the point that there are sentences with words from both of them or ones that no one knows which author created.

I loved hearing the story behind this
super-gorgeous cover!  And in person,
Sarah Rees Brennan = sooooo hilarious!
I also (obviously) liked a question asked about how much input the authors have over their cover designs (No, I wasn't the one who asked it!).  Melissa Marr has a shocking amount of control, and has since her first novel WICKED LOVELY released, which I think is incredible.  She picks out so much, even the flowers and models.  With her new novel CARNIVAL OF SOULS, she got to look at 30 mock-ups and disliked them all, then Harper turned to masks.  She found the mask she liked and it was lit on fire.  Super cool.  Sarah Rees Brennan mentioned that she doesn't have much control, but that her new novel, UNSPOKEN, was created from paper pieces when the silhouette of it was created. (And if you haven't seen the cover for UNSPOKEN, it's utterly gorgeous).

A lot of the authors are currently reading books from one another, though two of them mentioned having just purchased THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray, which released yesterday.  I was really happy when Rachel Caine brought up author Kevin Hearne in the same breath as Jim Butcher because I've heard the two compared to one another before and have mentioned Hearne to Butcher fans looking for a new read.  It also made me feel guilty because I still have three Kevin Hearne books sitting on my shelf waiting patiently for me to pick them up and read them, though I have read two Jim Butcher novels now, so there is that...

Sarah Rees Brennan and Rosemary Clement-Moore
share a funny story.
While each author was interesting to listen to, Sarah Rees Brennan really took the cake.  She's crazy over the top (in the best possible way) and acted out skits from scenes she enjoyed in new releases from Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr, and always had fun stories to tell when answering questions.  She was also hysterical to talk to in person, and Jena from Shortie Says mentioned that UNSPOKEN is fantastic.  She's written a gushing review worth checking out!  It was also fun to just listen to her Irish accent!  Seeing her in person and talking to her made me wish I had read something of hers before.

Kami Garcia, Kelley Armstrong, and Melissa Marr
sign some books while chatting with fans.
While I didn't buy a lot of new books tonight because most of the books were too paranormal (lots of vampires, for one...) for my personal tastes, I did have a copy of the ENTHRALLED Anthology (Edited by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr.  Five of the seven authors in attendance last night were in the anthology, so I got to meet them and get them to sign it.  I felt bad I didn't have more than that for most of them.  When Melissa Marr signed the page where her personal story began, I thought it was such a genius idea.  I hadn't thought of that, so the first couple of signatures are in the Table of Contents.  Sarah Rees Brennan asked me if I'd read her short story, and I honestly didn't remember.  When I got the anthology last year, I read authors I knew first, then started reading stories by authors I'd heard of.  I still haven't read anything in there and off the top of my head, I only remember two of the stories.  I'll  need to go in and check everything out now, though!

Kami Garcia checks her phone and finds out that the
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES trailer will air Thursday
while Kelley Armstrong signs a stack of books.
I also managed to dig up my copy of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl for the signing.  I bought it last year, but never got around to reading it. ^^;; I had off today, and while I'd been planning to finish re-reading THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (Which I reviewed last year here) and start my long-awaited, shiny new copy of THE CROWN OF EMBERS (released yesterday!!), I decided to crack open BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and see what I thought.  I'm only 144 pages in, but Casters have just been mentioned and Jena from Shortie Says told me there weren't vampires (despite the fact that it's blurbed for fans of TWILIGHT and TRUE BLOOD on the back...), so I decided to take a chance and bought the next two in the series for the event. 

Speaking of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, it was announced at the event that the trailer for the movie is going live today at 4:30 p.m PT/7:30 ESTon Extra and iTunes.  Check it out!  The movie releases on February 13, 2013 and stars Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emmy Rossum.  Are you excited/anxious after seeing it?

Rachel Caine and Melissa de la Cruz hand out swag
and sign books for fans.
And speaking of film rights, Melissa de la Cruz mentioned that WITCHES OF EAST END is being turned into a pilot for Lifetime.  It will star Julia Ormond as the matriarch, according to Dread Central.  The article, published yesterday, mentioned that Jenna Dewan is now on board to play one of the daughters.  At the event, Melissa de la Cruz mentioned that yesterday, it was announced that Patrick Heusinger from Gossip Girl is now onboard as well (confirmedby Deadline).

Overall, the evening was a lot of fun, and I'm ultimately happy that I attended, though it still felt weird.  Despite the fact that we had torrential rain and a tornado warning, it didn't keep everyone away and there was still a huge crowd that turned out to support the authors.  I don't even want to think about how crammed it would have been if the weather had been clear!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{Blog Tour Giveaway & Review} CURSED by Jennifer Armentrout

Happy Book Day to 
by Jennifer Armentrout!!!

Today marks the release of Jennifer Armentrout's latest novel, and Spencer Hill Press is celebrating the release of its first hardcover offering with a multi-blog blitz!  Stay tuned after my review for a chance to WIN!

(Sorry this is coming so late in the day and I haven't posted anything else this week.  This week has been rough on me, to say the least.  I'm going to try to bring you more content, though!)

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

SOMETHING SOFT AND WARM--definitely hand-sized--settled on my chest, and then moved to the right, headed uphill.  I wasn't sure why I expected to be looking into the baby blues of some hot guy when I opened my eyes.  Maybe it was because I'd just had the best dream of my life.  But I certainly didn't expect to be staring into washed-out, ghostly blue eyes.

There was a hamster perched on my chest, its white-and-brown fur covered in grime.  Specks of dirt covered my nightshirt, and bits of gravel clung to my bedspread...


...Somehow I managed a smile as my eyes fell over her [my sister Olivia's] nightgown.  Brown flakes of soil spotted the crisp cotton, and dirt sprinkled her little arms and chubby fingers.  The shoebox in her life was covered in filth.

The very same shoebox I'd used to bury Squeaky [the hamster] in the backyard last night.

I squeezed my eyes shut, mentally stringing together as many cuss words I could think of.  I should have known she'd do this.  A violent shivery went through me.

Olivia just couldn't let dead things be.
(Pages 1 and 2, US ARC edition)

Check out my reviews of Jennifer Armentrout's first two Covenant novels, HALF-BLOOD and PURE! The third novel in the series, DEITY, releases on November 6th. Armentrout also has two books out in her Luxe series with a third coming in December AND a contemporary romance novel under her pen name J. Lynn entitled TEMPTING THE BEST MAN, with a companion novel, TEMPTING THE PLAYER, out next month.

While CURSED by Jennifer Armentrout may not be my favorite of all of the author's published novels, it's still a solid, enjoyable story.  It's also a stand-alone, which is great news for anyone who has been hearing all the buzz about Armentrout, but has yet to read any of her other novels.  There's enough world-building and intrigue to leave wiggle room for a potential sequel, companion novel, series, etc., but it also works well on its own.  I felt more invested when reading the Covenant series than CURSED, but I also kept in mind that CURSED was also written before the series, which means that Armentrout has grown as an author.  Her chemistry between character sizzles more in later writing, though she still builds a strong mystery and plot line in CURSED. 

CURSED centers around a teenager named Ember with an unusual life.  She was in a horrible accident with her father and both were proclaimed dead...until Ember's younger sister Olivia touched her and brought Ember back to life.  Ever since that day, Ember's touch will kill anyone she touches, as well as animals and plants.  I will admit that at times, I envisioned Ember as Rogue from X-MEN because her skin is always covered and she wears gloves so that she can't accidentally touch anyone.  One day after Ember's touch accidentally kills an ex-boyfriend, she and Olivia find themselves in a house among others with them, everyone with his or her own unique abilities.  Ember doesn't trust anyone in the house, not even Hayden, a hot guy whose crazy about her.  When she learns that the accident that killed her wasn't really an accident, she's determined to get to the bottom of the matter and discover the truth, but someone is desperate enough to do anything to keep it a secret.

I like the way Ember doesn't fall head over heels in love with Hayden the moment she meets him.  She doesn't trust him, and she shouldn't, either.  He and his father stalked her and followed her around.  If I'd never talked to a guy who watched my every move and developed feelings through this secretive interaction, I'd be creeped out, too.  If Armentrout had created a situation full of insta-love, I would have hated it  and thrown the book across the room.  I'm so glad this route wasn't taken.  I also enjoyed the way Armentrout creates a compelling mystery that's not as predictable as other books tend to be, though I still caught on to some revelations quicker than most people might.

Overall, CURSED is a solid edition to Armentrout's repertoire, and while it's not my favorite from her so far, I would be intrigued to pick up a second book if she ever makes the decision to return to this world and create more novels.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This is my favorite of all of Jennifer Armentrout's covers so far.  The lightning is great, and so is the way the model looks so...ordinary.  She wears hoodies just like the main character and really exudes her essence.  I've wanted to read this book since I saw the cover for the first time!

From the upside-down angling (I'm sort of over the sideways sleeping covers) to the way she's against an outdoorsy background, I've wanted to know more.  Is the girl asleep, dead, enjoying the sun?  This book would make me pick it up in the store even if I'd never heard of Jennifer Armentrout before!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  CURSED
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Release Date: Out September 18, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Received: Review Copy

Dying sucks-- and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out.

However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not have been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time
And now, enter to win!
Three lucky people will win a $25 Amazon giftcard, a copy of the book, a shirt and lots of SWAG!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 16, 2012

No WIR Today...

Please excuse this brief hiatus.

a scheduled guest blog tour post will be up tomorrow for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, September 14, 2012

{Blog Tour Stop Review} STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

Check out all of the amazing blogs participating in the blog tour for
Jay Kristoff's intriguing Japanese Steampunk novel STORMDANCER!

With STORMDANCER releasing in the UK and Australia yesterday, September 13th and in the USA next Tuesday, September 18th, Jay Kristoff's blog tour is in full swing and I'm delighted to be taking part.  STORMDANCER is one of my highly anticipated books of Fall 2012 because it is Japanese Steampunk.  Need we say more?

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

AS THE IRON WAR CLUB SCYTHED TOWARD HER HEAD, Yukiko couldn't help wishing she'd listened to her father.

She rolled aside as her cover was smashed to kindling, azalea petals drifting over the oni's shoulders like perfumed snowflakes.  The demon loomed above her, twelve feet high, all iron-tipped tusks and long, jagged fingernails.  Stinking of open graves and burning hair, skin of polished midnight blue, eyes like funeral candles bathing the forest with guttering light.  The club in its hands was twice as long as Yukiko was tall.  One direct hit, and she would never see the samurai with the sea-green eyes again.
(Page 3, US E-ARC edition)

When I heard there was a fantasy novel on the horizon with a Japanese flair, I immediately wanted to read it.  Having lived in Japan for two years, I still have fond memories of the country and its rich history.  I'm new to the steampunk genre, but always willing to try something new, so when I heard that not only was Jay Kristoff's STORMDANCER going to be Japanese, but Japanese steampunk, I was even more intrigued.

The promise of Japanese steampunk wasn't a ruse to bring in readers, either.  From the first page, the world is steeped in Japanese history.  There are oni (demons) and samurai and geisha.  There is mythology and lore that will make you wonder what is based on research and what is out of Kristoff's own imagination.  While there is a lot of Japanese terminology floating about, Kristoff is good about making sure that readers are never left in the dark.  He'll use the word "tora" in one sentence, then let you know he means "tiger" in the next.  Due to all of the Japanese and Kristoff's flair for describing everything in miniscule detail, there is a lot of intense world-building in the first chunk of the book.  At first, it was hard to fall into the world, because there was so much new, shiny stuff around each corner, but once the arashitora ("thunder tiger") is introduced into the mix, the story begins evolving and is easy to fall into.  Seen through the eyes of Yukiko, a sixteen-year-old from the Kitsune ("Fox") clan, we're introduced to everything through female eyes, which is intriguing because such adventures and heroic destinies are usually left for the males to undertake.  I love that Kristoff went with a strong female heroine when introducing us to his world.  (See more on his world over at Jay Kristoff's website!)

An arashitora, or thunder tiger, is part griffin, part tiger.
The steampunk serves more as a background than it does a centerpiece in STORMDANCER, and is in fact reminiscent of the mecha so ingrained in Japanese culture.  The Japanese are always so technologically-savvy that it makes sense that they'd adopt a steampunk culture first in order to adapt in a dying world while still retaining their unique culture and history.  The story between Yukiko and the arashitora, or thunder tiger, an intelligent beast that's part griffin, part tiger, and the way they communicate and become one is epic.  I liked the way Kristoff detailed their interactions; you could always tell who was talking when, and were never confused.  There are also looks at family and the price of loyalty.  Combined with the lore of mythic Japanese roots and a new, grittier version of Japan, STORMDANCER is a unique, innovative foray into both fantasy and steampunk.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love both versions of this cover and have a tough time choosing which I like more.  The UK/Australian cover is very traditionally Japanese, while the US cover showcases Yukiko's fabulous tattoo (an integral element of the novel) and showcases the arashitora.  Plus, it's by Jason Chan, who is one of my favorite cover designers.  So there's that.

I don't know about the UK/Australian interior, but the US version is gorgeous.  Each chapter features an image of a lotus or one of the four clans, which I really enjoyed seeing.  Paired with a very Japanese-looking font, the chapter headings alone were a constant reminder that this book takes place in a very Japanese world.

I'm also a fan of the way the three segments of the novel are broken up.  With each title, there is kanji (the Japanese spelling of the same word) behind it.  Gorgeous!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: Out September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Received: Review Copy

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.