Friday, April 29, 2016

{Cover Reveal + Giveaway} SCEPTER OF FIRE by Vicki L. Weavil


Today Vicki L. Weavil and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SCEPTER OF FIRE, a companion novel in the CROWN OF ICE Series, which releases October 18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!

Here’s a message from the author:

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE, my retelling of “The Snow Queen.” It takes place a few years later, in the midst of an invasion by a power-mad foreign emperor, and includes most of the characters from CROWN OF ICE.

However the protagonist in SCEPTER OF FIRE is someone new—17yo Varna Lund, an ugly duckling among swans, who’s certain her destiny lies in taking on the mantle of village healer after the death of her aged mentor. But when a young soldier enlists her aid to care for his injured friend, Varna and her sister, Gerda, are catapulted into the war that has engulfed their country.
Forced to flee enemy troops with her sister and the two soldiers, Varna must also evade her mentor, Sten Rask—revealed to be a powerful mage seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former Snow Queen.

To protect the mirror, and their country, Varna, Gerda, and the soldiers join forces with a sorceress, an enchanted reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. But Varna faces a terrible temptation. Promised beauty and power by the devilishly handsome Rask, she must choose—achieve her own desires, or protect a society that has never embraced her.

The Cover:

I love how this cover matches the cover of CROWN OF ICE, and yet is different enough to set the books apart. Both feature striking young women, but whereas CROWN is glazed with icy blue tones, SCEPTER is saturated with reds, golds and other fiery hues. If you look closely, you can even see flames reflected in the girl’s eyes—very appropriate for a book that deals with sorcerers who wield fire. Although the cover model is not an “ugly duckling,” she does accurately reflect the protagonist during one portion of the book, which I will not reveal at this point due to “spoilers”! 


Title: SCEPTER OF FIRE
Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD |Goodreads

Sharp as pine needles, and twice as bitter, seventeen-year-old Varna Lund’s determined to become a healer. At least patients don’t care about her looks, unlike the young men who spurn
her for eighteen-year-old Gerda or even her younger sisters. An ugly duckling among swans,
Varna hopes to bury her passionate nature in useful work.

Sequel to CROWN OF ICE!
Her healing skills are put to the test when Varna encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who’s
deserted the battlefield to carry his injured friend, Anders Nygaard, to safety. Varna, enlisting the
aid of Gerda, cares for Anders in secret.

But a brutal betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, where Varna discovers
her old mentor is actually a powerful wizard. Seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former
Snow Queen, the wizard hopes to use Gerda as a pawn in his plan to aid the invading emperor.

Other forces ally against the wizard, including an auburn-haired sorceress, an enchanted
reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. Along with the soldiers
and Gerda, they vow to prevent the mirror from falling into enemy hands. But tempted with promises of beauty and power from her now devilishly handsome mentor, Varna must choose
between her own desires and the good of a society that’s never embraced her.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”,
SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE.



Vicki L. Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University, and a Masters in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After working as a librarian at the NY Public Library at Lincoln Center, and the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) in NYC, she is currently the Director for Library Services at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. A member of SCBWI, Vicki is represented by Fran Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY.

Where you can find Vicki: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr



1 winner will receive an eBook of CROWN OF ICE & an eGalley of SCEPTER OF FIRE (when available), International.


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Thursday, April 28, 2016

{Review} TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN by Alethea Kontis

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!



New to the world of Alethea Kontis?


I've previously reviewed ENCHANTED and HERO and DEAREST,
along with my review of her novella BLOOD & WATER,and chatted about Snow Whites role in ENCHANTED.

I've also reviewed TRIXTER, the first book in The Trix Adventures.

Alethea Kontis has also stopped by A Backwards Story several times to talk about her books, fairy tales, mermaids, and more because she's awesome like that! *loves her*

a flash fiction piece entitled "Well Behaved Mermaids Rarely Make Fairy Tales,"
a guest post on "Families in Fiction,"
and a guest post entitled "I Dedicate This Post to You!"

She's also shared two of her famous fairy tale rant videos, one about Rapunzel and one about Cinderella and how it inspired her novel ENCHANTED!
~*~
O P E N I N G   L I N E:

Trix and the Faerie Queen (Books of Arilland Book #6)    "WATCH THIS!" TRIX leapt off the branch and flew above the forest floor.
The sparrows would not have called it flying. Squirrels, on the other hand, knew exactly what he meant.

(pg. 8, US e-book edition)

Trix Woodcutter is back, but instead of causing mischief, he's growing up and trying to save the world. The brilliant thing about The Trix Adventures is the way readers grow up with Trix. He goes from being the endearing younger brother constantly getting into trouble to a young man with a story of his own. While TRIXTER had more of a "going off on an adventure" vibe, TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN is up to par with the Woodcutter Sisters series in the tone of its adventure. This time around, the Faerie Queen has visited Trix in his dreams to tell him that his horrible Aunt Sorrow managed to bind magic and it's up to him, the prophesied Boy Who Talks to Animals, to become her Emissary and save the realm of Faerie.

If you're a fan of Alethea Kontis, you will absolutely love her brand-new novel TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN. It's classically her and breathes life into the Tales of Arilland in such a way that readers will be anxious to return to the world of Arilland right away, be it through continuing Trix's journey or finally getting their hands on the next Woodcutter Sisters novel, which will finally feature Wednesday!

When I read TRIXTER, it was good and I enjoyed it, but it didn't have as much enchantment as the Woodcutter Sisters books that I loved so much. TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN, however, brought that enchantment back. I was completely enraptured the whole way through and when the story came to an end, I wanted more--and right away. It was also really cool that the book connected so much with the end of HERO and brought Saturday and Peregrine back into readers lives, as well as introducing Wednesday in a way that made readers instantly love her. The best way I can describe Wednesday? Do you remember when you were reading The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and were introduced to Winter at the end of the third book, CRESS? Winter was all sorts of crazy and such an INTERESTING character that must have been SO HARD to write. Everyone was looking forward to the release of her novel WINTER. When we're re-introduced to Wednesday in T&TFQ, we learn so many new things about her that add nuance to her character. I want to read her story just as badly as I did Winter's, and I know it will be just as complex because she's such an unusual character!

This book also makes me once again want MORE. Once on social media (her blog, maybe?), Kontis joked about a short story featuring Papa and Mama Woodcutter. We all wanted it for real!!! In T&TFQ, we hear a story about Papa and the Stag, which reminded me that....I REALLY WANT A STORY ABOUT PAPA AND MAMA!!!! I want to know how they met and fell in love and adventured. Now that Kontis is her own publisher and no longer tied to a label, I hope it will happen, even it it's just a novella. I want to know how they met, encountered a Stag, etc. How did Mama's special gift get her in trouble and make Papa fall in love with her?

I also have a new theory about Tuesday, the deceased daughter. Kontis hinted that Tuesday would also have a story. But...Tuesday is deceased, right? There's an awesome scene in T&TFQ that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon (along with the best EVER weapon that I won't spoil for you, but it's glorious!). In the scene, Trix and his traveling companion, golden girl  Lizinia, must sit in one of the Spirit Sister's four thrones. One of the thrones is reserved for Death, and another for his wife Fate, who has yet to visit. Later on, there's a throwaway line (or a clue????) that states that Tuesday has been "lost these many years to death" (Page 130, US e-book edition). Everything clicked and how amazing would it be if Kontis has a Persephone and Hades story up her sleeve for Tuesday? I hope it's true, because I'll be first in line to read such a thing!!!

I loved the adventure and journey in this novella. I loved the beauty of new ideas, such as the awesome weapon gifted by the Spirit Sister. I loved an ADORABLE scene with a baby fawn I wanted to cuddle. I loved having my perceptions changed: I totally thought a cat was shady after hearing Trix's thoughts about shady, difficult cats for so long. I loved seeing old friends again. I loved developing new theories about the series. I love how both Trix books have ended with exactly the same line. T&TFQ reminded me of just how much I love these Tales of Arilland novels, and I'm once again desperate to read more from as many of these beloved characters as I can as soon as possible! (Also, I REALLY want to go back and re-read HERO now, and it hasn't even been that long since I re-read it!)



But...can I read The Trix Adventures  
without reading the Woodcutter Sisters novels?
  
You can absolutely read The Trix Adventures without reading ENCHANTED, HERO, and DEAREST, because Trix is on his own quest and having his own adventures. If, however, you do want to read the Tales of Arilland in order, I would recommend reading ENCHANTED and HERO first. You can read all of Kontis' novels as stand-alones because they are individual stories about various members of the Woodcutter family. In DEAREST, you can see the happily wedded couple from ENCHANTED, but there is little reference to HERO because both books are occurring simultaneously in different areas of the world. DEAREST is dealing with the aftermath of an event that occurs in HERO without it being spoilery. TRIXTER balances between these two events, and Trix begins his journey here. Up until The Trix Adventures, we saw the most of Trix in ENCHANTED. TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN comes directly after HERO and features characters from that novel.

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)
Trixter (Books of Arilland #3)Dearest (Woodcutter Sisters, #3)Tales of Arilland (Books of Arilland #5)

~*~
C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( kissing  )
Language: --
Violence: PG12 ( There's one disturbing scene at the end with a mutilated animal head, but its not too intense; there's also a Blood Court that felt a little Zombieish to me. )
Other:  --
~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:


I like this cover, but not as much as all the covers before it. It still structurally matches all the other covers in the Books of Arilland series, but it's different, too. The colors are darker, and it feels a little messier than other covers, not as clean and crisp--even the title is more muted. I do love the inclusion of a wolf if you look closely at the image, though!

~*~
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN
Author: Alethea Kontis
Release Date: March 29, 2015
Publisher: Alethea Kontis
Received: Purchased
SUMMARY:

Join Trix Woodcutter on an epic new animal-filled adventure!

Fey magic and animal magic: that troublemaking imp Trix Woodcutter has both, if not the ability to use them to their full potential. While traveling with his companion—the golden girl Lizinia—to see the King of Eagles, Trix is sent a vision of the Faerie Queen, who is in desperate need of his help. An evil sorceress has stormed Faerie and trapped all the fey magic under the Hill, leaving the Faerie Queen powerless! Trix’s talent for communicating with animals is desperately needed…but before he braves the wild world of Faerie he must arm himself, with nothing less than the bow and arrows of a god.

With the help of his gilded companion, her ghost-cat godfather, a blind brownie and a sister or two, the Boy Who Talks to Animals must befriend a mischievous leprechaun, best a wolf, and journey into the depths of Faerie to restore order and free the fey magic before the imbalance destroys the world.

TRIX AND THE FAERIE QUEEN is second in The Trix Adventures and sixth in the Books of Arilland.

 Fans of the Woodcutter Sisters: Desperate to know what happened to Saturday and Peregrine after they found Trix at the end of HERO? Here’s your chance!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The word for the April 26th New Releases.......is BLUE!!!!!!!!


Yesterday I was at the bookstore, and imagine my surprise when not one, not two, but ALL FIVE of this week's biggest YA releases.....had blue covers.


 Granted, some were more blue than others (And some of the blue didn't photograph as blue due to lighting, but it is in person! Like the Blue in the sky for HEIR and the blue in the gorgeous foil of TLB&GITW! I arranged them from light to dark for this photograph...on a blue tablecloth, of course!!!)

Even more ironically???

I had just re-painted my nails....blue. I've had China Glaze "Boho Blues" sitting out for a while with my "spring" stash and randomly grabbed it because I was in the mood for some periwinkle. 

Not only did my nails match all the books, they REALLY matched THE ROSE AND TH DAGGER!!!!


So....don your blue on the way to the bookstore this week!

Another fun coincidence:

I'm re-reading my favorite book of 2015, and I always take off the cover to protect it and chuck the book around in a book sock! I just bought a couple of new ones and the first one I opened was a gorgeous...blue! That...ALSO matches my nails! ^^;;;

I...guess I like blue!?



...The one thing my nails DIDN'T match? The beautiful ARC of VASSA IN THE NIGHT by Sarah Porter that I came home to! ....But they would have matched the three books in her Lost Voices trilogy, so......... ^.~


 Happy, Happy Book Week to our Blue Books...
HEIR TO THE SKY by Amanda Sun, 
THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD by Siobhan Vivian, 
THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh, 
THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi
and 
SOLDIER by Julie Kagawa!!!!

 ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: HEIR TO THE SKY
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: Out April 26, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

As heir to a kingdom of floating continents, Kali has spent her life bound by limits—by her duties as a member of the royal family; by a forced betrothal to the son of a nobleman; and by the edge of the only world she’s ever known—a small island hovering above a monster-ridden earth, long since uninhabited by humans. She is the Eternal Flame of Hope for what’s left of mankind, the wick and the wax burning in service for her people, and for their revered Phoenix, whose magic keeps them aloft.


When Kali falls off the edge of her kingdom and miraculously survives, she is shocked to discover there are still humans on the earth. Determined to get home, Kali entrusts a rugged monster-hunter named Griffin to guide her across a world overrun by chimera, storm dragons, basilisks, and other terrifying beasts. But the more time she spends on earth, the more dark truths she begins to uncover about her home in the sky, and the more resolute she is to start burning for herself.
  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: Out April 26, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?


While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.
 ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: Out April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers / Penguin
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."


I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Release Date: Out April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?


Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

 ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: SOLDIER
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: Out April 26, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.


That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.

Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They'll need Garret's skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.
  ~*~
AND HERE'S A SNEAK PEEK AT...
VASSA IN THE NIGHT by Sarah Porter, 
out Sept. 20th!!!
  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: VASSA IN THE NIGHT
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: Out Sept. 20, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Received: ARC for Review
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me

SUMMARY:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.


In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

 Which New Blue Books Will YOU be Picking Up???