Friday, November 30, 2012

Two Contemporary Covers Revealed Today!

I was checking out my blog feed for the day and saw just how busy the publishers have been!
DARE YOU TO, the long-awaited companion to Katie McGarry's sleeper surprise hit of the year PUSHING THE LIMITS, now has an official cover:
DARE YOU TO by Katie McGarry
I loved PUSHING THE LIMITS more than I thought I would, and am excited to read McGarry's new book, even though I wasn't initially a fan of Beth.  I love contemporary books with hard issues, which is one reason I liked this so much, and DARE YOU TO sounds like it will also be hard-hitting!
  And is it just me, or do her gritty covers look like they could sit right next to the ones by Simone Elkeles? :)
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen


"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
Leah Rae Miller's contemporary debut novel with the new teen imprint from Entangled also has a cover now:

This cover is fun and light for summer.  Can't you just see everyone picking this up?
Plus, I want her shoes.  I want her shoes!!!!!  And I don't even like red.  But I covet them!!!
I think the concept of this one will appeal to a lot of people, because the feelings of being popular, yet an inner nerd resonate on many levels!
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen


On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

What are your thoughts on these covers? 
Are you intrigued to know more?

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Joss Whedon Style! Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

©Toronto International Film Festival
Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker in Much Ado About Nothing.
Bookworms, I'm so excited!  I love Joss Whedon, and I love MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, so when I heard that Joss had secretly filmed this in his own home, I was really excited!

According to Whedonopolis, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will distribute the movie Much Ado About Nothing to theaters across the country (or perhaps start with a limited release, idk...) on June 7th, 2012.

If you've followed interviews over time with Whedon, you'll know that he often has Shakespeare readings at his house with his current cast, friends, etc.  It's so nice that he's filmed one and invited us all over to his house!

Like Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this filmed quietly, with Whedon-film alumni.  The film stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Clark Gregg, and Reed Diamond.

With a new TV show entitled S.H.I.E.L.D. that's a spin-off of The Avengers as well as a movie-sequel to The Avengers and whispers that a sequel to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is finally almost upon us, the addition of Much Ado About Nothing is sure to whet any Whedon fan's appetite...or anyone who just plain loves Shakespeare!

Check out the Much Ado About Nothing movie website!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great Ebook Deals From HarperCollins!

HarperCollins and Epic Reads always have great e-book deals going on.  Their latest promotion is no different!

Check out their latest Steal of a Deal with two e-book specials!

May I especially recommend UNEARTHLY if you're forced to make a decision?  It was beyond good.  I didn't expect to like it at ALL because angels aren't my thing, but Cynthia Hand's writing is so strong and I am so in love with this book! 
My review of UNEARTHLY

And while I haven't read THE BODY FINDER, I adore Kimberly Derting's other series, THE PLEDGE. It was a dystopian fantasy, full of kingdoms and kings and queens and all that good stuff, so a lot of people who don't like the two genres to mix gave it mixed reviews.  I, personally, love both genres, and to see them together made my heart beat a little faster.  I enjoyed it so much!  I would definitely read another book by this author, and for $2.99, how can I say no to THE BODY FINDER?
My review of THE PLEDGE

And don't forget these other $2.99 deals from HarperCollins and Epic Reads, which are only good for a couple more days:

I've been hearing especially good things about S.J. Kincaid's dystopian debut novel, INSIGNIA!
Get these great deals FAST, because they won't last long!

New Titles Coming From Lauren Oliver!

Sad that REQUIEM's release date is only a couple of months away, marking the end of the fabulous Delirium Trilogy?

Whatever will you read next?

How about...MORE Lauren Oliver Books?

In 2014, Lauren is releasing her first novel for adults, ROOMS.  Not much is known about this one yet because HarperCollins/Ecco is keeping everything under wraps.  But, uh....I already want it?  Lauren Oliver is that good of an author. 

If you're not ready to leave the world of Delirium just yet, there are two treats in store for you!  Lauren wrote two more e-novellas in the vein of HANA.

The first, ANNABEL, will be released on December 26th.  Happy belated holidays to YOU!  This novella will take a look at Lena's mother!

The second new novella, RAVEN, will release on March 5th alongside its momma, REQUIEM.

For those who don't like e-books or don't have a way to read them or, heck, just want their own shiny copies to sit alongside their print copies of Lauren's other books, you're in luck!  On March 5th, HarperCollins is ALSO releasing a paperback anthology that gathers together all three stories (and perhaps some additional treats?)!  It's currently titled: DELIRIUM STORIES: Hana, Annabel, and Raven.

Okay, I don't know about you, but even though I have HANA as an ebook on my nook, I want that paperback copy because I own all of Lauren's book's in hardcover and they'll look so pretty and shiny together!

Besides DELIRIUM, Lauren Oliver has also written the best-selling stand-alone novel BEFORE I FALL (her debut!), as well as two stand-alone novels for children, charming LIESL & PO, and creepy THE SPINDLERS!  Check them out for more Lauren Oliver love if you haven't already done so!

Monday, November 26, 2012

{Blog Tour Guest Post & Giveaway} Leanna Renee Hieber's THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART

No blog tour banner, but Sourcebooks Fire is running a blog tour through early December for THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART by Leanna Renee Hieber.  Stop back next week for my review of the book, as well as a review of the first in the series, DARKER STILL, later this week!
(And check back for a chance to win an autographed copy of DARKER STILL!)

Author, actress and playwright Leanna Renee Hieber grew up in rural Ohio inventing ghost stories.  Her debut novel, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, first in her Strangely Beautiful series, landed on Barnes & Noble's bestseller lists, was named a favourite of 2009 by 14 book blogs, won two 2010 Prism Awards (Best Fantasy, Best First Book), the 2010 Orange County Book Buyer's Best Award (Young Adult category) and is currently in development as a musical theatre production with Broadway talent on board.  DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, first in Leanna's Gothic Historical Paranormal saga for teens (Sourcebooks), hit the Kid's/YA INDIE NEXT LIST as a recommended title by the American Booksellers Association.  THE TWISTED TRAGEDY OF MISS NATALIE STEWART  is the second book in the series. 

Check out Leanna's blog and find her on Twitter.
Classic Inspiration
by Leanna Renee Hieber
Where Leanna discusses where her interest in Gothic literature stems from and the importance of loving classic novels.
The first author I can recall having a profound effect on me as a pre-teen was Edgar Allan Poe. I was entranced by his stories, enraptured by his poetry. I felt like he and I saw stories with the same eyes; his ability to weave the macabre with the beautiful defined my earliest style. I’ve been a Goth girl ever since, at least in spirit. ;) And while being a Goth girl doesn’t necessarily correlate with being a Gothic novelist (Gothic literature having its own separate definition and trajectory than “Goth” culture), there are most certainly parallels.

Books like THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, FRANKENSTEIN, and DRACULA were books that excited my keen flair for the dramatic, my interest in the supernatural and satisfied my craving for rich vocabulary. Big words are sexy. The historical context of the classics allowed for another fantasy world to be taking place; delving into another time entirely. You are what you read as a writer, and the most formative novels, the ones I connected to on the viscerally dramatic and soulful level in a way I found only Gothic fiction could really do, are what defines me today.

My books all pay homage to classic novels in one way or another. My goal in life is to be a “gateway drug to 19th century literature”. It’s my hope that sharing my love of the classics, using them as the building blocks of my storytelling as a modern Historical Fantasy author, keeps me tethered to my earliest inspirations, the closest fires to my muse.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Release Date: Out Nov. 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review

I'm coming for you.

The whispers haunt her dreams and fill her waking hours with dread. Something odd is happening. Something...unnatural.

Possession of the living. Resurrection of the dead. And Natalie Stewart is caught right in the middle. Jonathon, the one person she thought she could trust, has become a double agent for the dark side. But he plays the part so well, Natalie has to wonder just how much he's really acting.

She can't even see what it is she's fighting. But the cost of losing her heart, her sanity...her soul.
Contest Ends December 8th!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week in Review: The "So Many Free E-Books!" Edition

T h e  S o  M a n y  F r e e  E - B o o k s  E d i t i o n !

I loooooooooooove free books, don't you?  There were so many free books up for grabs this week on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I have a nook, and I have a Kindle app (that I never use, so I hate when a title is ONLY on Amazon due to their restrictions on self-published authors...).

Most of these are still free, but some are not.  I hope you get some free books, too!

I also hope everyone had a great holiday!  If you went out shopping, you were brave! :)


It's SUPPOSED to be nothing in November due to NaNoWriMo, but that doesn't include obligations for blog tours.  Plus, I've been developing a new twist and doing research in my writing time, so I have no time to write.  I think my NaNo will be in Jan or Feb now...

*SHIFT by M.R. Merrick {Upcoming blog tour stop!}
[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]

*EXILED by M. R. Merrick {Upcoming blog tour stop!}

*DARK STAR by Bethany Frenette
*AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benley {Because Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner and The Broke and the Bookish thought it rocked!}

*THE SANDMAN by William Joyce
*RISE OF THE GUARDIANS {movie review}
*SURVIVE by Alex Morel {flash review}
*THE RAFT by S.A. Bodeen {flash review}
*MAY B. by Caroline Starr Rose {flash review}

*{Cover Art Revealed} BRUISED by Sarah Skilton
*{Book Trailer Reveal} OPAL by Jennifer L. Armentrout
*Why I'm Thankful for...the Book Industry!

Physical ARCs/Finished Copies for Review:
*PIVOT POINT by Kasie West
[Out Feb. 12, 2013]
{Thank you to HarperTeen for the ARC!  This book has a GORGEOUS cover, and the summary for it is really intriguing!}

*ASUNDER by Jodi Meadows
[Out Jan. 29, 2013]
{Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins for the ARC!  I adored the first book, INCARNATE, and am so excited to read its sequel!}

*MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama
[Out now]
{Thank you to Macmillan!  This was a gift for participating in the MONSTROUS BEAUTY blog tour, which I had so much fun with!}
*READ LIKE A WRITER by Francine Prose
[Out Jan. 10, 2013]
{Thank you to HarperCollins for making writing books available during NaNoWriMo for us at $1.99!  GREAT PRICE!  I've heard many writers talk about this one!}
E-ARCs for Review:
*SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover
[Out June 21, 2013]
{Thank you to Tor Teen/Macmillan and Edelweiss!  I loved the book when it was self-published, and am so excited to read it with the newer edits!}

*SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo
[Out June 4, 2013]
{Thank you to Macmillan and Edelweiss!  This is the sequel to SHADOW AND BONE, which was so crazy good!  I'm really excited for this one!}

[Out Feb. 5, 2013]
{Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and Edelweiss!  I adore deviled eggs, but have only ever made them one way.  I'm hoping this book has some great new ideas.  It's fun that it has other things such as peeling techniques and garnishing tips, too!  Who wants to come over for eggs this holiday season!?}

[Out Feb. 26, 2012]
{Thank you to Knopf and Edelweiss!  Duncan Wall shares his journey as he lives a life working with Cirque du Soleil.  Sounds so fab!}
(There are so many this week that I'm going to just list them.
Most of these were random grabs.  I'll only "feature" the ones
I grabbed for a reason! ^_^)


*BORN OF WATER by Autumn Birt


{I've seen this one reviewed on many blogs this year, so I decided to snag it while I could!}
*RUA by Miranda Kavi
*THE FALLEN STAR by Jessica Sorensen
*EVREN: Enter the Dragonette by Marian Tee


{I adore THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and CROWN OF EMBER, and was so excited to see a novella from Rae Carson that's not a part of her series!  And for free, no less!  This book is worth mad money, people!}

*WANDER DUST by Michelle Warren
{I've seen this one reviewed on many blogs this year, so I decided to snag it while I could!  I also LOVE the cover, which if I recall correctly, the author designed herself!}

*THE IVY by Lauren Kunze, Rina Onur
*INHERITED DANGER by Brian Rathbone
*CALL OF THE HERALD by Brian Rathbone
*RIPPLER by Cidney Swanson
*ETERNAL VOWS by Chrissy Peebles
*DIAMOND EYES by Jennifer Perry
*HIDDEN GEM by India Lee
*DANGEROUS by Alycia Linwood
*ELEMENTAL by Alexandra May
What did you get in your mailbox this week?
This also posts at Tynga's Stacking the Shelves; check there for more great books each week!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I'm thankful for...the book industry!

Today, I want to reach out and thank everyone reading this post.  Thank you so much for supporting me and this blog!

I feel so proud to be a part of the book industry, from small ways to bigger ones, and feel blessed to have met so many incredible people through blogging:

* For all the followers leaving thoughtful comments and fellow bloggers sharing the love of reading.
* For every writer who has ever stopped by A Backwards Story with a guest post, interview, or word of kindness, and for the ones who share their time with fans on Twitter and Facebook.
* For the publishing houses brimming with talent who care about nurturing their authors, and the publicists who work hard to help promote these titles.
* For every person who works to put together a book, be they editors, agents, cover designers, or the many other talents that work tirelessly behind the scenes to put out the best book possible.

To all of you, I am so thankful and wish you many more productive years.  May our industry continue to blossom despite its rapidly changing environment!  May we all continue to support one another and above all else, share the love of reading.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

{Flash Reviews} The Survival Edition

Three flash reviews for you today!

In honor of today's movie release of LIFE OF PI, based on the international best-selling novel by Yann Martel, I wanted to give you even more survival books to read!
I've been wanting to re-read LIFE OF PI for a few years now.  Maybe it's finally a good time to do so in celebration?
Into survival?  Check out these three 2012 releases:

Author: Alex Morel
Release Date: Out now (Aug. 2, 2012)
Publisher: Penguin / Razorbill     
Received: Borrowed

HATCHET meets Lost in this modern-day adventure tale of one girl's reawakening.

Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.

Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.
I coveted this book from the moment I read about its unique concept.  The novel revolves around Jane, a teenager who decides to commit suicide, and winds up being one of the only survivors when her plane crashes.  Why was Jane chosen to live when she wanted to die, and others who wanted to live so desperately sacrificed?  How can she live with the guilt that comes with this knowledge?  Jane is forced to look inside herself throughout her journey and figure out what she really wants in life.

SURVIVE has more romance than the other two books I'm reviewing today, though at times it seems a little forced.  I could have gone either way with this element, though I know a lot of readers will really like the addition of romance to an otherwise bleak environment.  Jane and Paul are also more prepared and able to take care of themselves than in the other books, which allows for less tense character interaction and more ways to develop and work together.  At the same time, there's a lot of emotional growth and internal development that result in far-reaching consequences beyond the initial attempts to survive.  While there are a few plot holes, I really enjoyed SURVIVE's concept and the way Jane is forced to look at all the shades of grey and change her outlook if she wants to survive.


This cover had me sitting up and taking notice!

I also like the way the color pink used for the author's name is pulled from her lips, and a pale shade that matches the snowy colors of the rest of the color.  And all the blue!  That icy blue is one of my favorite shades of the color, and I love the way it reaches up and frosts over the model's face, making her look so cold.  I also like the way the title SURVIVE is trying to break free from the mountains and, well, survive!

Author: S.A. Bodeen
Release Date: Out now (Aug. 21, 2012)
Publisher: Macmillan / Feiwel & Friends
Received: ARC for Review
Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.
THE RAFT is the book that most closely reminds me of LIFE OF PI. There's a plane crash that leads to the main character being stranded in the water, and there are dangers such as sharks in the water.

I read this right after reading SURIVE by Alex Morel, and felt that this book was stronger in the way it represents surviving.  Robie has almost nothing on her that can help her survive the way Jane did in SURVIVE, which creates even more adrenaline as you read and root for her.  There's also more detail that brings readers into the situation, from the way salt gets into everything to the parched feeling that makes you want to keep a bottle of water at your side as you read.

While THE RAFT has been criticized because most of it takes place in the water and there's not a lot happening, this is a story of survival.  If you go into it with that mindset, you'll be golden.  If you're in the middle of an ocean or on a deserted island, there's not a whole lot happening except survival, which is its own breed of action.  I never felt bored or like the story was lacking.  There was enough action to keep me rooting for the characters, along with surprise revelations that readers may or may not see coming.  There was also a little commentary on social issues such as the way the environment is mistreated, which adds an additional layer to the story in a way that works and doesn't feel forced.l


The model looks like she'd rather be anywhere except trapped on that raft!  It's so easy to visualize Robie looking just like that.

I'm also a fan of the font used for the title, both stark and functional, perfect for a book about survival.
Title: MAY B.
Author: Caroline Starr Rose
Release Date: Out now (Jan. 10, 2012)
Publisher: Random House / Schwartz & Wade
Received: Borrowed

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again.

Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

I heard about this book a few months ago, either because it had been nominated for an award or mentioned when talking about verse novels.  I forget now; I read this a while ago!  I was intrigued by the fact that a book mixing historical fiction in a verse format had been written for middle-grade readers, which I personally haven't seen before.  Even more interesting was the fact that it reminded me of the Little House on the Prairie book series I loved so much growing up. 

I really like the way Caroline Starr Rose integrated dyslexia into her novel, especially in a time where learning disabilities aren't acknowledged the way they are today.  May B. dreams of being a teacher and works so hard to learn how to read like everyone else despite her frustrations.  She's a girl, and not as useful as her brothers, so she's sent to work for another family.  A tragic accident occurs, leaving May alone and scared as winter approaches and food grows scarce.  She's too young to properly take care of herself and frightened, but turns to learning to get her mind off everything she can't control.

MAY B. is great for fans of historical fiction and verse novels, not to mention fans of the Little House series.  It's also a great book to give to kids when teachers assign historical novel assignments because the terminology and writing style is easier to digest than Little House for many kids, yet still reveals the flavor of the prairie lifestyle.


You guys don't even know how proud I am of myself right this second.  I planned to come on here and tell you that the cover reminded me a bit of FORGE and CHAINS, both by Laurie Halse Anderson, and thanks to the internet, I just found that MAY B. cover designer Christopher Silas Neal actually designed both of those as well!  Yes, I am amazing.  Isn't he talented, though?  Go check out some of his work on his webpage

I also found a great interview with Christopher Silas Neal from Turn the Page, which shows several different concepts for MAY B. before the final cover was settled on.

Anyway, I adore this illustrated cover!  For one thing, um, it's illustrated.  I wish more adult and teen titles were illustrated, because some of my favorite covers are middle-grade!

I again love the use of the icy, snowy shades of blue, which are favorite hues of mine.  This is such a great illustrated cover, and that snowy scene is perfect for readers looking for a survival tale this winter!


{Book Trailer Reveal} OPAL by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I'm super-excited to share the trailer reveal for jennifer Armentrout's newest book OPAL!

If you haven't read anything by this woman yet, what are you waiting for?  She is SO ADDICTING!!

OPAL (The third book in the Lux Series)

Available in both print and digital version
on December 18, 2012
• Amazon  • Barnes and Noble

Check out Jennifer L. Armentrout on the following sites:
• Facebook  • Twitter
Official Website

Are you ready for the trailer? 
I hope it makes you more anxious to read OPAL than you already are!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:
Title: OPAL
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Release Date: Out Dec. 18, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Check out my review of the first book in the series RISE OF THE GUARDIANS was based on, THE MAN IN THE MOON, as well as today's review of THE SANDMAN!

I was lucky enough to score free passes to an advance 3-D Screening of Dreamworks' holiday blockbuster RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.  I've been looking forward to this movie since first hearing about it because I thought the first picture book in the series, THE MAN IN THE MOON, was brilliant and captivating. 

Interestingly, William Joyce has spent about 20 years developing his series and building the Guardians of Childhood franchise, creating picture books, chapter books, and now, movies.  Together with Dreamworks, he decided that he wanted RISE OF THE GUARDIANS to be an original movie with no book exactly telling its story.  He didn't want people comparing the movie to the book and saying one format was superior to the other, which is something often heard when books become movies.

The movie takes place after the books, when beloved characters such as Santa, the Toothfairy, the Easter Bunny, and The Sandman (all with actual names, of course) have long since sworn the Oath of the Guardians.  They were given their powers by the Man in the Moon (which isn't explained well in the movie, but looking at the ending credits, it seems as though a short film will be included with the movie upon its official release.  I'm hoping this is the case, since it adds an additional layer to the story!), and are the protectors of children across the world.  When Pitch, the Prince of Nightmares, decides to make kids believe in the boogieman and begins destroying dreams and distributing nightmares in their place, the Guardians must band together and accept a new Guardian into their midst, Jack Frost.
I think audiences will really connect with Jack Frost's plight.  He knows so little about his past, or why the Man in the Moon chose him to be a Guardian.  Children don't believe in him the way they do everyone else, and he struggles with his identity.  I loved watching the world through his eyes.  RISE OF THE GUARDIANS is truly Jack's story. 

My favorte aspect of the movie is the way beloved figures such as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are turned inside out and upside-down.  They are the characters we've known and loved over the years, yet with more depth.  When I first saw the previews, I was a little taken-aback by the fact that Santa had tattoos (though they ARE pretty cool) and seemed very angry.  Watching the movie, however, my fears were allayed.  He is still Santa Claus.  One of my favorite moments in the movie occurs early on in a scene between Santa and Jack, and the way Santa lights up and reveals why he's a Guardian is magical and heart-warming.  He is absolutely the Santa we know and love.  The reason he seems so angry in the trailers is due to the fact that Pitch is trying to destroy the hopes and dreams of children everywhere, and Santa is desperate to save them.  He's like a fiercely protective papa bear!
All of the other characters were well-designed as well.  The Easter Bunny is far from cute and fluffy (well, for the most part), with a crazy-fun way of traveling.  And I loved seeing where he lived and how he made his eggs, because how often do we see that?  I also loved seeing where the Tooth Fairy lived.  I never really thought about what she does with the teeth once she's collected them, but the answer was absolutely beautiful and captivating.  Plus, the Tooth Fairy is one of the most gorgeous-looking characters in the movie, with beautiful, colorful feathers that are almost as shiny as fish scales, and a hoarde of baby tooth fairies that remind me of hummingbirds!  I also liked the way the Sandman emoted rather than spoke his lines with his sand.  His role is integral to the movie, and I can see a lot of families buying the picture book about him after seeing this!
It's easy to see the Dreamworks influence throughout the movie as well.  The tone is more in-line with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON than it is MADAGASCAR or SHREK, with less potty humor and more depth.  There's an animated scene with the Easter Bunny towards the end that reminds me a lot of a scene with Puss in Boots.  Also, on a non-Dreamworks-related note, the little elves from Santa's workshop remind me of the minions from DESPICABLE ME, thrown in for some voiceless comic relief.
I thought the movie was adorable, thoughtful, and just plain fun.  Is it the best animated movie I've ever seen?  No.  It does, however, have a lot of heart and is nostalgic enough to bring a whimsical feeling to viewers of any age.  I'll definitely purchase this one when it comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD and house it proudly in my collection!

Take a peek at the trailer if you haven't already seen it:

What are your thoughts?  Are you planning to see this movie?

{Review} THE SANDMAN by William Joyce

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

"OF COURSE YOU KNOW THE GUARDIANS OF CHILDHOOD.  You've known them since before you can remember, and you'll know them till your memories are like twilight.  The very first guardian was the Man in the Moon, and it was he who found the others.
The Man in the Moon watches over the children of Earth.  Like a giant nightlight in the sky, he keeps nightmares away.  But when the moon is less than full and bright, who will keep the children safe at night?
(pg. 1, US Hardcover Edition)

Check out my review of the first book in this gorgeous picture book series, THE MAN IN THE MOON!

Last year when THE MAN IN THE MOON came out as a picture book, I was struck by the gorgeous cover and mesmerized by William Joyce's talent in both illustration and storytelling.  THE SANDMAN is no different, once again full of lush imagery and a captivating story of the way a childhood icon came into being.

I was really excited when I heard that DreamWorks had picked up Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood series and would be adapting it for film, and now that the movie is set to premiere tomorrow, I'm eager to share my review of the latest picture book series with you.

Check out today's movie review and take a peek at the trailer if you haven't already seen it:

THE SANDMAN and THE MAN IN THE MOON both share elements of being more complex picture books with stories that may overwhelm children too small to sit still for a story with a little more depth.

One of my favorite things about both THE SANDMAN and its predecessor, THE MAN IN THE MOON, is how gorgeous everything looks. The images are bright and complex, with something new to see everytime you look at the artwork anew. Joyce is extremely talented, and I can't wait to see what the next picture book in the series will look like!

Just look at this stunning, two-page illustration for a hint at the gorgeous, colorful, detailed illustrations:

Some of the scenes with the villainous Pitch
might be too scary for younger children!
While most of the images are fun to share with children, there are still some darker scenes that can be more terrifying. 
There are a few scary images involving Pitch that might frighten children (Though he's also pretty scary-looking in the movie!), but also a whimsical element to some of Pitch's minions that sort of remind me of the heartless villains from the Kingdom Hearts videogame franchise.
Don't these little minions remind you
of the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts?

Even the way Joyce words his story is captivating.  Everything is told in an easy, lyrical way that feels like a traditional tale.  I would have adored this series as a child. 

Here's one of my favorite passages:
"On and on Sandy slept.  And on and on he dreamed.
Until every grain of sand on his island contained a dream.

Ten thousand nights and dreams passed.  Pitch had vanished and so had the Golden Age. 

The world changed.  The island changed.  And Sandy changed."

(pg. , US Hardcover Edition)

Um, and this is is my other favorite part:

 Because, um, mermaids.  The mermaids play a part in helping Sandy sleep safely and dream!  This page along made my heart sing in happiness.

I know THE MAN IN THE MOON and THE SANDMAN look like traditional picture books, but they go so much deeper and are for children of all ages, even ones who think they've outgrown picture books.  They haven't outgrown these lush, decadent visual treats!  "Baby books," these are not!

There's also a great moral story and the Sandman is truly a Guardian of Childhood, who protects the dreams of children everywhere.  Sandy also has a great role in Rise of the Guardians, so I can see a lot of families reading THE SANDMAN together this holiday season!
Thumb through THE MAN IN THE MOON to see if it's age-appropriate for your child...or even just to read on your own!  It's a book that sits proudly on my shelf, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this imaginative series.

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover captivated me from the moment I first saw it.  Love at First Sight!  I knew I had to read this despite the fact that it was a picture book.  I was never for a second disappointed.

William Joyce's illustrations are as beautiful inside as they are on the cover; you can see all the careful detail and loving attention that went into each one.

I love the way the title is displayed and illustrated.  The moon, while in the background, appropriately encompasses most of the book's cover.  The image of two people riding on a curious looking moth/butterfly creature will make readers pick up the book to see who the people are, and what the creature is.  This cover definitely hints at the fantastic nature of the story lying within!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title: THE SANDMAN: The story of Sanderson Mansnoozie
Author/Illustrator: William Joyce
Release Date: Out Now [Oct. 02, 2012]
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Received: Borrowed

One foggy night, the Man in the Moon has a startling thought: When the moon is less than full and bright, who will keep children safe at night? He needs a backup plan! Or a backup Guardian, as it were. His keen eye falls upon a sleepy little fellow living on a sleepy little island who is a sweet-dreamer extraordinaire. Since good dreams always trump bad ones, this means Pitch, the Nightmare King, will be further thwarted in his nefarious quest to terrorize children. So Sanderson Mansnoozie seems the perfect choice. But there are two problems. Firstly, given that Sandy has never had a bad dream, how can MiM convince him how important this new role is to the happy-being of children everywhere? And secondly, how can MiM keep this snoozy ally awake long enough to help?

This follow-up to THE MAN IN THE MOON, a New York Times bestseller called “dazzlingly inventive” by Publishers Weekly, introduces us to the sleepy little fellow to whom we owe many a good nights’ rest, the second Guardian of Childhood, the Sandman.