Monday, September 30, 2013

{$50 Book Blast Giveaway} LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub

Little Red Reading LITTLE RED WRITING 
by Joan Holub

 Acclaimed writer Joan Holub and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet team up in this hilarious and exuberant retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a brave little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)... and saves the day.

Joan Holub has hundreds of pencils. Some are red. Others are glittery, sporty, or full of holiday cheer. They are all super sharp and good at writing books. They’ve helped Joan write more than 130 books, including Zero the Hero and Knuckleheads. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Melissa Sweet has illustrated nearly 100 children’s books, including the Caldecott Honor–winning River of Words and the Sibert Medal–winning Balloons Over Broadway. When not in her studio, Melissa loves to ride her bicycle and hike with her two dogs, Rufus and Nellie. She lives in Rockport, Maine.  



"A very funny picture book that, I guarantee you, lots of savvy teachers will be eagerly sharing with students as part of the process of teaching creative writing." -- Richie Partington MLIS, Richie's Picks 

"What a CLEVER, CLEVER story!" -- I Love to Read and Write Reviews 

 "This clever adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood has so many levels of creativity and learning... Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units." -- Play on Words

"Style, humor, and solid writing advice." --Publishers Weekly, starred review 

"So rich in words and wry humor-written and visual-that one reading just isn't enough." --School Library Journal, starred review 

"Every writers' group should start with this story." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

 "Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units." -- Play on Words 

 "An easy, winning prompt for beginning writers to abandon their fears and take up pencils of their own." --Booklist
Author Joan Holub:
I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children’s books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job. I illustrated my first published children’s book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts — Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee! Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children’s books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.  

Book Blast Giveaway 

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash! 

Ends 10/15/13   

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. 

Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. 

You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. 

The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. 

Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

{A Twist in the Tail} Marissa Meyer Announces HEARTLESS!

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

Have you seen the big news shaking up the blog-o-sphere this week?

New York Times Best Selling Author Marissa Meyer finally announced the book that will follow the conclusion of her Lunar Chronicles Quartet.

Are you excited? I'm excited!

Known for her unique way of retelling fairy tales, Marissa takes on Lewis Carroll's much-beloved Alice in Wonderland...this time through the "villain's" POV!

She teases,

A prequel to “Alice in Wonderland,” HEARTLESS will tell the tale of how a marquis’s teenage daughter became the infamous Queen of Hearts. It will be a story of whimsy and madness, passion and tragedy, ravens and writing desks.

She started writing this in 2012, but was only allowed to mention it this week! To find out more tidbits, check out the great Q&A on her site!

She'll mention goodies such as how Gregory Maguire's WICKED inspired her, how it may or may not be a standalone, and how the following book will likely be the first in a new series. Check it all out, like now! ^_^

Even better?

We won't have to wait a bajillion years to read this! It's projected to be released in Fall 2015...only half a year after the final Lunar Chronicles novel, WINTER, drops!

*throws confetti*

Want even MORE good news?

You can already add this book to your GOODREADS TBR!!!

If you're not reading this series, you should be. Marissa Meyer has reinvented fairy tales and created a powerful futurist fantasy series.

Check out my reviews of CINDER and SCARLET, check out a guest posts with Marissa featuring SCARLET, and check out the A Week of Cinder(ella) and A Week of Little Red events previously hosted here, which include reviews of other inspired fairy tales and guest posts, including interviews and posts with Marissa's cover designer Rich Deas and critique partner Tamara Felsinger!

Are you already as eager for this as I am!?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Announcing the Nominees for the 2013 National Book Awards!

It's that time of year again! The National Book Awards Longlists are out!

Five finalists in each category will be announced on October 16, and the National Book Award Ceremony will be held November 20th!

There are several great titles on this list that I've been hoping to read...although I haven't read any yet. So far behind... ^^;;

I own FAR, FAR AWAY by Tom McNeal and THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson...I should bump them up the list! And THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu and THE LOWLAND by Jhumpa Lahiri both came out today, so what great news to celebrate with!

And now, the list I know you want to see...

Young Adult:

{Official Cover Reveal} ROYALLY LOST by Angie Stanton

Royally Lost
A novel by Angie Stanton and Harper Collins
(Author of Rock and a Hard Place and Snapshot)
Contemporary Young Adult/New Adult
Coming May 2014

About the Author
Angie Stanton never planned on writing books, she wanted to be a Rockette. However, growing up in a rural setting with her brothers' 4-H pigs as pets, dance didn't work out. Instead she became an avid daydreamer. After years of perfecting stories in her head she began to write them down and the rest is history. She loves dipping french fries in chocolate shakes, natural disaster movies and Broadway Musicals. When not writing, Angie is concocting ways to make more dreams come true, whether it be tickets to a Broadway show or convincing her family they should rent an RV and travel the country. She's still working on that one. Angie is a proud double finalist of the 2011 National Readers Choice Awards for Love 'em or Leave 'em, as well as a finalist for the Golden Quill Awards.
Website | Facebook

What are your thoughts about the cover?
Are you excited to read this one? 

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Angie Stanton
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins


Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince. 

Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour. 

When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?

Monday, September 23, 2013

{Review} TUMBLE & FALL by Alexandra Coutts

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real end is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely. All of the goodbyes, and leaving the people she loved. The people she loved leaving her. They felt like endings at the time. But the next day, she had gotten out of bed, and maybe there was a hollow pit where her stomach used to be, maybe she didn't feel like eating or talking or seeing people for a while, but mostly, things stayed the same.
   Sienna’s last day at the House is like that. From the second Valerie knocks on the door, business as usual and passing out morning meds, Sienna is already feeling dramatic. The two plastic cups Val holds out like presents, one half-full of lukewarm water and the other rattling with tiny pink pills—-these are the last plastic cups. The congealed, microwave-flavored scrambled eggs Sienna shovels down with a plastic spork, alone in the empty House kitchen—-these are the last scrambled eggs. 
   And when Val walks her out to the porch, and they sit with the sides of their knees pressed together on the slats of the rickety swing, listening to the kind of quiet Val taught her to notice, 4 the kind of quiet that feels full and on purpose and like every-thing’s going to be okay—-
   This is the very last quiet. 
   She knows that there might be other endings, bigger endings,soon. The end of everything. The end of time. But it doesn't matter. All that matters now is that things are changing again, just when she’d started to hope that they wouldn't.

What would you do differently if the world was about to end?

Alexandra Coutts' debut novel TUMBLE & FALL follows the lives of three teens named Sienna, Zan, and Caden in the week leading up to an imminent asteroid strike. It has been predicted that no one will survive. The government has sent missiles into space to break up the asteroid, but it may or may not help. All anyone can do is wait and see. All they can do is live.

Sienna has just gotten out of a wellness center after trying to kill herself in order to spend her final days with her family. Everything has changed, though. Her dad is about to get remarried and he wants Sienna to be happy about it. When Sienna reconnects with a childhood friend, Owen, she finds her distraction...and love.
Zan is still suffering almost a year after the car accident that took her boyfriend Leo's life. When his sister gives her a book that had been in the car that day, she finds a receipt that changes everything. Was everything she knew about Leo false? Desperate to piece together his final actions, she goes on a car trip to discover the truth with Leo's best friend Nick...and discovers more than she ever anticipated.
Caden is living day to day. He loves his sister, but wishes his mother wasn't always off in a drunken stupor. When strange men kidnap him, his world is shaken up...especially when he finds out that they're his father's men. The father he hasn't seen since he was a small child is now feeling paternalistic and trying to make amends. But is that all he wants? And can Caden leave his sister and mother during their final moments?

TUMBLE & FALL is about the end, but it's also about beginnings. When all you can do is live, you find yourself in all sorts of new scenarios. What would you do if you knew you likely had one more week to live? One more day? What becomes important? Family, friendship, love. Human interactions are what connect us, and they're what unite characters together in this interconnecting story of uncertainty.

I loved some characters more than others. The chapters go in threes: First Sienna, than Zan, then Caden. Repeat. They're each living their own lives; this isn't the same story from three POVs. Sometimes, I would come to the end of a chapter and want to continue with that character, but it was always easy to keep the characters and situations separate from one another because their stories are all so unique. The novel is full-on contemporary. I dragged my feet on reading it at first because I was expecting it to be sci-fi and End of Days and dark and raw like so much of the books and movies out there about the world's end, and I hadn't been in the mood to read that sort of thing. But it isn't. At all. It's contemporary. It's about life, about living, about surviving one day at a time. It's not about getting hysterical, but about making your last days count. The focus isn't on the disaster itself, so TUMBLE AND FALL will have more mass appeal than it may initially seem to. Everyone will be able to identify with these characters, and they'll likely think upon what's most important to them.

One more note? At the beginning of the book, Coutts includes song lyrics:

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, No I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

This certainly gives a  new twist to Ben E. King's classic song "Stand By Me." It also brings new light to the book's title, TUMBLE AND FALL! I'll definitely never hear it in quite the same way again. Will you?

Needless to say, the song was stuck in my head on repeat as I read this book. Thanks for that....and you're welcome if you have this in your head now for the rest of the day! ^.~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:


I sort of really love the way the ampersand hovers over the faces of the two models and connects them together.

Let's take a look at just that part:

Ah! The way it all interconnects! I just love staring at this piece of the cover. That ampersand is placed in just the right way. It frames both faces, and his hands are on either side of it as he touches her. They are connected in more ways than one.

Brilliant, brilliant font placement. I just can't get over that!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Alexandra Coutts
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan
Received: For Review

A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings 

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand. 

Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

{Mad About Nails} Ladybug Nails

I've had quite a few people comment on my nails in the past ask what I was using or wish I'd done a close-up so they could see better, etc., etc., and had a realization: Why not do a feature on nail polish? It's not book-related (Unless you're wearing the new HUNGER GAMES-inspired line from China Glaze, but I'm not even going into how wrong that is...), but it's fun. Plus, if I do this feature, I'll be more likely to re-paint my nails this week and less likely to let them chip their way to the bare bones (which would mean that I could see my nails...and if I see them, I want to bite them!).

Welcome back to another edition of Mad About Nails! 

All right, sooo...another stagnant entry. I had no time for a video this week. Sorry!

I snapped these pictures nail art is 5 days old with no touch-ups. I think it still looks great!

It's a little more sparkly than I originally wanted, but they still came out cute!
I've been wanting to do this since last year, and figured that for the last week of Summer, I wanted my last summer manicure to be fun!

Happy First Day of Autumn!

These two are POWERHOUSES for
long-lasting manicures!  One lasted
1.5 weeks, the other for 2!!!
I started off with a basecoat of ORLY "Bonder."

Many of the professional nail studios use this as a basecoat when doing nails for their clients.  It's a rubberized coat that helps polish adhere to the nail.  It stinks, but it's great!

I finished everything with a top coat of Revlon's "Quick Dry Top Coat."

I'd heard it was a rival for the legendary Seche Vite, but with fewer harsh chemicals.  It also doesn't go bad in the bottle or shrink when used.  I was intrigued, and so far, this stuff is FABULOUS.

Together, this combo has made my nails last, on average, 1.5 to 2 weeks. They're both awesome!

I forgot to include the white...oops? Details below, anyway!

For my design:

I started with a base coat of China Glaze "Phat Santa" from its 2010 'Tis the Season Holiday Collection. It's just the right red for my ladybugs. I experimented on my toes first, and it was between this, China Glaze "Igniting Love" (which was too light), and Zoya "Pepper" (which was too dark with a pinky-purple tint against the other reds). It applied well, though it may have been slightly dark when it comes to making the black dots pop!

The ORLY Manicure Kit I scored on clearance!
For the French tip, I used ORLY "Liquid Vinyl"from the ORLY: The Original French Manicure Cosmic FX Manicure Kit on clearance at Sally's Beauty Supply.

The black is crazy shiny. It's much more glossy than the Wet n Wild "Black Creme" I've been using. I love this black! It would have popped even more if I'd gone with the brighter, lighter red "Igniting Love" from China Glaze. Oh well!

MASH Marbleizing Dotting
Tool Pen Set from Amazon
$3.99 plus Free S/H!

I used the same black for the stripe on the ring finger and for the dots on all fingers.

The white eyes on the ring fingers are done with Wet 'n' Wild in "French White Crème".

I used a couple of my MASH Marbleizing Dotting Tool Pen Set pens from Amazon and nail art pens to achieve the look.

I topped everything off with a coat of glitter from China Glaze, "Fairydust." It was a little more glitter than I really wanted because my bottle clotted a little, so the design is diluted in regular lighting. In the sunlight, it really pops, though!

 Is anyone else obsessed with nail polish? What are you wearing right now? Link me a photo; I want to see! ^_^

Friday, September 20, 2013

{Review} THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas

Happy Book Week to THE BURNING SKY,
which celebrated its birth this past Tuesday!!!

B O O K   T R A I L E R:

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

     JUST BEFORE THE START OF Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys. A sixteen-year-old pupil named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education. 
     Almost every word in the preceding sentence is false. Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb. He never before set foot in Eton. His name was not Archer Fairfax. And he was not, in fact, even a he.
     This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world has ever known.
     Expect Magic. 

There should be more buzz surrounding THE BURNING SKY than there is. It was unputdownable, a book not to be forgotten. It lingers with you when the last page is done, making it impossible to just dive into something new right away. It's blurbed by fantasy authors I love such as Rae Carson, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, and Cinda Williams Chima. It has aspects of beloved series, while still remaining wholly its own entity. When I first heard of the book, it was blurbed as Kristin Cashore meets Cinda Williams Chima, but I drew my own comparisons.The fact that Iolanthe must masquerade as a boy in order to hide out at an all-boys boarding school is reminiscent of Tamora Pierce's fantasy staple Song of the Lioness quartet. Iolanthe has mastered three of the four elements, but struggles with air, which reminds me of Nickelodeon tv series Avatar: The Legend of Korra. J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series can be seen in the way the magic realm is kept separate from the mortal realm, that Iolanthe and Prince Titus practice magic in a hidden lab or dive into the pages of the Crucible, or even, if you're really looking for it, the way the boys love playing cricket. I was first drawn to the series when I saw an e-ARC comparing the book to Cashore, had a co-worker recommend it to me when she saw the same e-blurb after I'd forgotten about it, then remembered the book a third time at BEA when in line at HarperCollins for an ARC of Amy Tan's THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT. Everyone was lined up for THE BURNING SKY, and I was like, "What is this book?" and hopped into the line as soon as I had my Amy Tan. Third time is the charm, though, because only then, looking at the summary and hearing the enthusiasm, did I become genuinely excited about this novel. I wish I'd been excited sooner. It deserves that. The buzz around this book should be bigger than it is, and I feel it may not be because high fantasy doesn't sell as well as other genres. And that's sad, because it's my favorite!

Iolanthe Seabourne is a registered Elemental Mage III, meaning she is able to control three unique elements. What she doesn't know is that she can actually control all four and is a highly sought-after, extremely rare Elemental Mage IV. Her ability to manipulate air has been suppressed since childhood, and she was never told about it. If she had been, Atlantis would have descended and stolen her away to be used and discarded by the Bane. It has been prophesized that Iolanthe will destroy the Bane and save the realm, aided by Prince Titus, who has been preparing for the moment their fates become entwined. He was forewarned of her arrival and his own destiny by his deceased mother, who had been a Seer. He knows that his mother foresaw his demise on the road to victory, but is determined to help Iolanthe, defend his kingdom, and destroy the Bane once and for all.

Action! Adventure! Mystery! Intrigue! Deception! Romance! What more do you want in a book? HarperCollins' Balzer + Bray imprint always puts out great, engaging fantasy. I often want to read a book just because it's from this imprint (And their other imprint, Greenwillow Books, is also fabulous). THE BURNING SKY is no exception. I read it with no expectations, and finished wanting more. I have a love-hate relationship with series when I don't wait to read them in one gulp, because I hate waiting. At the same time, I don't want to wait that long to enjoy something! Lose-Lose situation... Iolanthe and Prince Titus are both great characters. Iolanthe starts off as a bright-eyed, innocent girl, but quickly becomes wary and jaded. At the same time, she is still that girl at her core, and I loved watching her struggle to accept the fate Destiny had thrust upon her. And Prince Titus! He knows the mark of death rests upon him, but is determined to set things right. He has spent years developing an uncaring, arrogant persona to the public and hiding the lovable guy he truly is. He makes it seem like he has no great magical abilities, while in reality, he's extremely powerful in his own right...and he does it all in the name of Destiny. Neither he nor Iolanthe go into this planning to fall in love, but their journey promises to twine them together in more ways than one. There are some great unique elements in the novel as well. I love that steads such as the pegasus can have rubbery, spike-tipped wings. They're not just beautiful, but deadly, too. Great twist! I love the idea of the Crucible, a book that Iolanthe and Prince Titus go into when they need to practice. There are different realms, challenges and obstacles...and the fairy tale lover in me is secretly a fan of the way Prince Titus seems to favor the Sleeping Beauty tower guarded by wyverns.

I would definitely recommend THE BURNING SKY if you're looking for a great fantasy to sweep you away and make you forget everything else. It's reminiscent at times of other books, but not in a way that ever detracts. Instead, it's easy to focus on the story as its own entity, and to covet more upon reaching the final pages (But not in a cliffhanger way! Just in a "please don't be over" way).
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

HarperCollins spent a lot of time fiddling with this cover. It was originally going to look like:

Some elements are the same, like the awesome title font and the kingdom on the cover. It's the how that's changed. It's also brighter and more eye-catching now. The elements being displayed are fiercer. The cover was great before, but it's more intimidating and epic-looking now.

I love the way the elements bleed into the interior, too:

I sort of wish the lightning was striking the title to that extent on the cover, too, because it looks mad awesome, but it may have ended up making the cover look too busy, causing the idea to be nixed?

Continuing on with my interior gushing...

You see how there's a diamond between the K and Y in the title THE BURNING SKY? It's in every chapter heading, too:

I like when everything matches up like that! I also like that the number is bigger than the word "Chapter," just like how the title THE BURNING SKY gets bigger as you read it!

There's so much to like about this cover! I see something new every time, and everything is related to the book, from the mountains in the distance to the wayward feathers that are blink-and-you-miss-them surrounding the word "SKY."
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Received: For Review

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning… 

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. 

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. 

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.