Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sea Wolves Reading Circle- All things Pirate!

Between the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean and this reading circle it seems words like Scallywag and Mates have been creeping into my vocabulary a lot lately.  Even House had an episode with a Pirating back story, so maybe there's just something in the Spring air this year.  But one way or another if you're feeling the need for eye patches, swords, parrots and boots it might be time to have a look at these Pirate infested reads.
First off an exciting BEA read I picked up from author A.C. Crispin- The Price of Freedom (Pirates of the Caribbean).  Released May 17th, The Price of Freedom is about Jack in his early days.  The pre-pirate ones.  See? You're shocked already!  That's right, A.C. Crispin has not only made Jack have straight laced beginnings but she's also made him an employee of the East India Trading Company.  Expect this prequel to be tightly tied into the movie franchise's story as it's published by Disney and Beckett pops up.  The hubby started it on the plane home last night and was already snickering, I have a good feeling about this story!

The Mourning Emporium, book 2 of Michelle Lovric's enchanting series starting with The Undrowned Child, has a fabulous twist where a floating orphanage of venetian boys (the Scilla Sofonisba, which was a real floating orphanage) are forced to be Pirates by the evil and beautiful Ms Uish.  Not to mention a host of Mermaids (featured in both the books) who have learned their rather exotic blend of English lingo from pirates and sailors.  Such as:
"My gib was atwitch, I might of knowed it.  Human childer smell most peculiar, I do declare freely"
If you're not totally swept away by both the pirates and the story I'll eat my eye patch.

The Larklight series, comprising of Larklight, Starcross and Mothstorm is a full on Pirate story, of the Steampunk variety. Following Art and his prim sister Myrtle on their adventures through space, often involving the rogue pirate crew of Jack Havock's.  Victorian prissiness mixed with uproarious adventure, this series is akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean while still being it's own thing.  Not to mention it's sprinkled with great illustrations!

Finally, not to be missed, Random Magic itself!  Full of silliness, fun and adventure, Random Magic will sweep you away.  Just make sure you have tea and crumpets awaiting your return. 

Bonus: Find some cute pirate prizes: Browse prizes (DVDs, books,games) (Closes May 30)

The main Rum + Plunder treasure hunt is open internationally!
Here’s another fun way to win something piratey and cool:
Browse prizes or join the hunt…
Have fun and good luck!

Don't forget to keep the reading circle going by stopping by The Fluidity of Time next!

Message in a Bottle: visit Liana's Paper Doll Blog to see the Pirate Queen Sasha and read more about her at Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Binky the Space Cat- Feline Fridays

There are a whole swath of things I generally talk about here on Feline Fridays.  My cats (often including various outrageous photos), rescue groups around the world, fun stories, books about cats, and my personal favourite- famous people you would never have thought of as "the crazy cat .lady" but who totally were.

After only a year of doing them, I am still amazed to find new and fantastic cat things to talk about.  Though I'm sure all my good friends who think of me as only one divorce shy of the crazy cat lady, don't doubt I can find an endless array of things to talk about on the subject of cats.  Anywho, it was one of the great pleasures of my BEA experience to meet Ashley Spires and to be introduced to the greatness that is Binky the Space Cat.

How, oh how had I not heard of this fiendish devil before?

Now as an artist myself, the first thing I thought about Binky was, wow, beautiful art.  Which was as foremost in importance in a picture book for me when I was 7 as it is now. Great art equals great book (even if the story sort of sucks) because you can just loose yourself in looking at it.  But my second thought about Binky was how funny the actual story was.  To be frank, now that I've read it I'm pretty sure all the noise my one cat Baxter makes in the litter pan might actually be him attempting to build a spaceship, after all, he certainly isn't covering anything up in there.

By the time Ashley mentioned that one of the later characters is actually a foster cat, I was head over heels in love.   This series has the looks, the brains and the soul.  How often do you get that?!

To be honest, I can't wait to lug all my BEA books home and then rush out to my nearest book store and buy the whole Binky series (Binky under Pressure comes out in September!), even though I've sworn not to buy a book for at least a month.  Even more exciting is the prospect of sharing them with my two nephews who I can guarantee will love them.

And just because it's too crazy a coincidence to not mention, can you even believe that Author/Illustrator Ashley Spires lives not only in Saskatoon (not her native province even!) but in one of the neighbourhoods I lived in for years??!  The crazy line of coincidences that led me and her to the same table of Speed dating with Authors astounds me.

Make sure to pick up a copy of Binky the Space Cat or Binky to the Rescue by Ashley Spires and published by Kids Can Press either directly from Kids Can Press or on Amazon.  But if you're a Binky fan make sure you enter my Splash into Summer, wish you were here at the BEA contest for a chance at your very own life sized Binky display.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Libba Bray!!!!!!!

The two words that made my day, and lets be frank, my whole trip...Libba Bray!  I walked away from the Q&A with her, Maggie Stiefvater, and Meg Cabot, and subsequent signing, with possibly the biggest smile of my life.  
She knew my blog!!! 
She was sweet and funny and she spent great one on one time with everyone. 
She signed my book with a few lyrics from the Rhiannon song (sadly for which I'm named), and for the first time ever, I think it's cool.
If I wasn't already, I am now totally in love with her.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day two of BEA day three of NYC!

The craziness has officially hit epic proportions! Not only was today the biggest book "drop" day but it was also another scorcher.  How can it get more exhausting you ask? Well, I've had some severe insomnia issues for the past week and a half or so, culminating in a mere 4hrs (if I'm being generous really) of broken sleep last night.  Seriously.  I was so desperate at one point that I started counting sheep.  I got up to 500 before I gave up.  Needless to say I was walking around in a slight daze by about 2.  The lovely Steph of Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust suggested Benadryl! What a genius.  After supper I picked some up and tonight will be the official recoup sleep.  I must, must tell her how much I love her on Friday!

All the same, the day was FANTASTIC!  There were so so many amazing books and authors (Eoin Colfer was so adorable I wanted to fold him up and take him with all the books), and the hubby kept running into amazing surprises (unlisted or unannounced signings and "drops" -brief book releases at the publishers booths).  Nothing will perk a sleepy girl up faster then strolling up to her in a boring long line and presenting her with a signed copy of Passion (Lauren Kate was only supposed to be signing chapter samplers so I quickly forgot she was even going to be there in all the other excitement), "I'm pretty sure you're reading this right?".  Have I mentioned how much I love him?

We are officially at 64 books, a scary- how are we going to pack this- amount.  So thank goodness tomorrow is pretty quiet!  And I was being really picky about what I took, unbelievable hey?

The super duper exciting thing for Thursday? The Libba Bray signing at the Scholastic book Store in the evening.

I have some super stuff to add to the giveaway as well so keep tuned late tomorrow for details of the additions.

Guest Author Post- Dreamwalk's author, Sarah MacManus! Wayward Book Characters.

About a month ago I had the great pleasure of reading Sarah's novel Dreamwalk (my review coming soon!), and I couldn't be more excited to have her stopping by today to talk about Characters taking on a life of their own.  So without further ado, Sarah!

Wayward Book Characters
Sarah MacManus

Someone asked me if the ending to Dreamwalk meant that Chloe and Shane would end up together. I had to tell the truth—I wasn’t sure.
How could I not be sure when I’m the one that invented them? A lot of writers will tell you: characters are a lot like kids. Just because they’re yours and you’ve ‘raised’ them doesn’t mean you can always predict their choices. Book characters tend to come alive and develop their own agendas, and even the author isn’t always exactly sure how or why this happens.  Maybe it’s the obstacles that the author puts in their way that affects them in unexpected ways? Perhaps it’s something seemingly innocuous that a secondary character says or does that changes, even just slightly, your protagonist and how they deal with their circumstances?
I wasn’t even sure Chloe and Shane would ever meet again, until I got to know Shane a bit better by putting him through all his struggles and seeing how he really reacted when the chips were down. He’s a bit of a flake, but he’s a loyal guy. He doesn’t make strong connections easily, but when he does, they’re solid. That’s when I realized that he’s exactly the kind of person who would bide his time and make sure that he’d be there at the right time.
I’ve had to argue with other characters in other books as well. One ultimately didn’t get written at all because the two main characters decided that they really didn’t want to go through all that angst. There was supposed to be drama and tumult. They were supposed to face cruel realities about themselves. They were supposed to tear each other apart—emotionally—and dissolve: older, wiser and much more humble. Instead, they decided to run away together to Austria and open a bookshop. In the face of that kind steadfast calm and determination, an author can only do so much.
I’ve had characters turn out to be far too unpleasant to work with and have had to fire them. When you decide to create strong, proactive characters, that’s sometimes the price you have to pay. Sometimes they turn out to be people you just don’t want to work with. Even odder is when you find that you really like one of your bad guys. It really throws the plot when you suddenly feel compelled to give them redemption.
Do Shane and Chloe end up together? They’re more mature, more settled in their careers and hopefully both more clear-headed. It’s anyone’s guess if it’ll be happy ever after or there will be a rain of broken crockery as soon as the honeymoon is over. Their chances are as good as anyone’s, and I think I’ve done my job in making sure they at least got that chance. But they’re on their own, now.
Perhaps I’m just not tough enough on them, but I’ve talked to other writers who’ve had the same problem with their characters. Setting off in odd directions. Going completely OOC with little provocation. Drawing strange conclusions from life lessons.
Rotten kids!
After the death of her mother, eighteen year old Chloe Hawthorn is haunted by terrifying nighttime hallucinations. Determined to take control of her dreams, she uses them to find Shane Anderson, a charming and troubled musician whose online videos have been holding her in thrall. She finds him in the Dreamtime, sweating out heroin detox in a run-down rehab center. 
Chloe sets out to find Shane in the waking world and discovers her dreams have been taking her into the past. Horrified, Chloe realizes Shane doesn't survive his addictions. In order to save him, Chloe must master her Australian mother's legacy — the secret of walking the Dreaming through time. But what price will Chloe pay for this Dreamwalk and will she save Shane only to lose him forever?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop- The wish you were here BEA prize pack!!!

Well I wish you were here, I really do!  And so I've decide to make my prizes all BEA loot for those of you who couldn't make it!
I'll be adding to this giveaway over the next couple of days but so far this is what's up for grabs:
Pictured is: -Binky the Space Cat display
-Signed copy of Lisa See's Dreams of Joy
-Signed copy of Original Sin (Lisa Derochers)
- Chapter Sampler of The Death Cure
-Signed Faerie Ring bookmark
-Draw the Dark, Bond with Me and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (movie) bookmarks
-Sampler for the Art of Epic Mickey
not pictured:
-ecopy of Dreamwalk by Sarah MacManus (come back later today for a guest post from Sarah!)

There will be multiple winners, so the best of luck, and make sure to come back before Thursday to see what's been added and for my BEA updates!

Don't forget to check out all the other great giveaways!

Two days, 34 books, and some insane temperatures later- BEA update!

Well I've seen Julianne Moore, Kathy Lee Gifford, Mike Holmes and a whole slew of awesome authors (Laini Taylor!!!! Really!!!! And she's as wonderful as I had hoped! We talked about Clementine and her elephants, sigh, how fantastic!).
I've discovered a whole bunch of great sounding new books and debut authors I can't wait to read (11th Plague, Aliens on Vacation, and of course Binky the Space Cat which I can't imagine why I haven't found before!).
 Oh and did I mention the beautiful Random House tea? No? Well I'm probably suffering heat stroke (83 degrees today!).
It's been a fantastic day and a half, and tomorrow is the BIG day (more then half the stuff I'm excited about drops tomorrow, oh how I wish I could split into 5 people!).  So I'm off to plan my attack and see how much I can wedge into one day.  I promise pictures and full posts soon, meanwhile stop by in just a few hours for my big giveaway!!
Wish you were here!

Die For Me, by Amy Plum- Review

Paris, oh Paris, let me count the ways I love you.

I won't lie, the number one reason I wanted to dig into this book was because it was set in Paris.  After years of dreaming of it, I finally visited gay Paris two years ago, and instead of satiating my long held longing for this city it totally increased it.  And although I have lovely little plans to visit Venice next, I can't help but pine for my next Paris sojourn.

After a car accident makes her an orphan, Kate and her sister move to Paris to be with their grandparents and try to rebuild their lives.  But it turns out Paris's rich history has more to it then Kate has bargained for, and so does the boy who catches Kate's eye. Can a girl who's been devastated by death spend her life loving a boy who Die's for a living?

An epic paranormal love story, in the Twilight vein, Amy Plum's first novel was a little more formulaic then I expected.  Obviously it's a formula that works (I mean seriously, who hasn't heard of Twilight?), but I was a little disappointed it didn't break the mould a little.

Despite a heavy dose of slightly overkill love story (I had to keep reminding myself she was only supposed to be 16), I did actually enjoy this new form of paranormal love interest.  Revenants, though similar to Stephanie Meyer's vampires (some unusual powers, always attractive, in an epic battle with baddies of the same ilk), have an unique mission.  They live to save others, by dying in their place and then reanimating three days later.  It's an interesting premise with a lot of potential, so I'm hoping Amy will write more of these books just so I can get more of their history.

Obviously I was enthralled by all the Paris background, and I'm not sure if it would work the same way for someone who hasn't been before, but all she had to do was mention the cafes and I was immediately transported.  Because Paris is so rich in history, I also found I bought the revenants way easier then Stephanie Meyers back woods Washington state Vampires.  It just seems a likelier place somehow, I suppose because the city is almost a character in and of itself.

I think my biggest issue was I didn't one hundred percent love Kate.  She was fine, but there was something slightly off about her.  Again, I have to say her Twilight similarities were glaring (didn't think of herself as pretty, had a profound sadness as well as being considered an old soul), but somehow she seemed to have a little less spunk.  I'm not sure her character was fleshed out enough, for my tastes, before she fell head over heels for Vincent.

Overall it was an intriguing story, with a fair amount of promise in the sequel department.  The romance was a little too Twilight and not enough it's own thing, but I still cruised through Die for Me in just a couple of days.  So obviously most of it's plot was working well enough to keep me involved.  I have my fingers crossed Amy Plum will expand on this story, and now that she has her sea legs as a writer, make more of her own mark with a book 2.

Die for Me, by Amy Plum
Published by HarperTeen, May 2011
Copy generously provided by HarperTeen and Inkpop
Buy Die for Me on Amazon

Check out Amy Plum's site for fun stuff like:
The cut prologue, and
A sort of Prologue from Vincent's point of view

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rage, by Jackie Morse Kessler- Review

I love this series.  
A totally unique YA concept (ie: no vampires or faeries, can you imagine?), but not just an excuse for a romance in the paranormal trappings, Jackie's Horsemen of the Apocalypse books deal with real issues in a fantastical way.  So I was elated when the folks at Houghton Mifflin sent me Rage (it was on the top of my very long to buy list).

Book two of Jackie's Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, Rage follows Missy becoming the new War.  Like Hunger before it, Jackie weaves the story of a teen suffering through severe issues (this time cutting), with the story of the bigger world issues of war.  And in the mix she gifts Missy with the self understanding to deal with her problems.

Jackie did a beautiful job of handling a difficult subject matter (once again) and this time without the benefit of her personal experiences.  To me that doubled how impressed I was with this book.  To be fair I don't have any experiences with cutting, either myself or through any of my friends, so I'm certainly not the ultimate judge, but the emotions and drama were certainly dead on for how cruel high school can be. 

Missy was a powerful character, and I completely fell in love with her.  Teen fiction being what it is, filled to the brim with romantic trysts and star crossed lovers, it's always refreshing to have a story focused on the growth of character (and not towards the end after a couple hundred pages of melting in some hunks arms).  She's thrown into one of the worst High school horror scenarios I can think of, and the fact that she gets through it but without the perfect ending, is probably my favorite part about the book.

Jackie talks in the acknowledgements about how she was unsure how to start this book, until she had to put down her 15 year old cat.  Sunday was the one year anniversary of when I had to put my beloved 17 year old cat, Topaz down.  Needless to say I emphasize completely, and the storyline of Missy's cat Grey girl broke my heart.  And oddly enough I think that is why Jackie's books resonate with me so strongly.  She takes subject matter I have no experience with (eating issues, self injury), and she makes them real in all the little life ways (like losing a cat) so that although Missy becomes War, I get her.

I can't recommend either of Jackie's books enough, they have depth and imagination mixed in such a meaningful way.  They're escapism with meaning.  And even better, part of the proceeds to both books go to excellent causes.

Rage, by Jackie Morse Kessler
Published by Graphia, April 2011
Buy Rage on Amazon
Buy Hunger on Amazon
Check out Jackie's website
Read my review for Hunger

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox

It's the day before I fly out NYC! And among other things the kitties, the hubby and I have been weeding, cleaning and planning like mad things (seriously there are so many things to do before skipping across the border for the week!). See how tired Thurman is by it all?.  The business cards and bookmarks are ready to go, and my good friend in reading, Jenna is going to come have a staycation with the fuzzy kids.  All that's left to do is fly outta here!

But before I do I thought I'd share my exciting arrivals this week, because I got a couple of especially exciting things.

From the lovely folks at HarperTeen:
Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini

From the darlings at Tor:
The Disunited States of America, by Harry Turtledove

From the fantastic Jen of Lost in the Library (for winning her last giveaway!! yay!):
Divergent, by Veronica Roth

And a complete surprise and a super exciting one at that! From the ever wonderful Lesley Livingston and the folks at Penguin Canada:
The ARC of Once Every Never, by Lesley Livingston!!

I absolutely can't wait to sink my teeth into all these wonderful books. While you wait for me to dig in and get some reviews up, I do have some things to hold you over.

First off, INKpop is having a web chat with Starcrossed author Josephine Angelini. On Wednesday May 25 at 5pm Eastern debut author Josephine Angelini will live on inkpop to discuss this as well as her remarkable road to publishing. From leaving her job to focus full time on writing and paying her bills on credit cards, to the seven figure sale of her series!  
All I have to say about that is WOW! Seven figure!! You can bet I'll be checking into the chat.

Also on Wednesday, make sure to stop in and enter my wish you were here at the BEA contest, as part of the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop.  I know it's not feasible for a great many of you to get out to the BEA yourselves so I'm going to send some of it to you.  I'll be announcing the various prize packs on Wednesday, but suffice it to say, it's International and it will have some real goodies!  

I'll be making small updates during the week (based on exhaustion levels), with a full blow by blow post(s) starting the following week.  So make sure to stop by, it's the next best thing to being there yourself!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Link Salad

Ah the Saturday before the BEA! Our house is abuzz with activity, money exchange, laundry, prepping the cats for their stay cation with my good friend in reading, Jenna, and of course all the packing etc.  But it's also been a hugely busy news week, so let me get to it!!

-It's the lead up to book three, Passion, in the Fallen trilogy by Lauren Kate (due out June 14th),  and in great teaser tradition a small excerpt has been released to wet our palates.  I was super excited because instead of being about Luce, as I suspected the whole book would be (ugh), the excerpt was about Shelby and Miles!  Read on and enjoy!

-Speaking of teasers! There have been four this week from Cassandra Clare.  First off, Mundie Mom's had some great one liners for their City of Fallen Angels not so Mundane Moments event.  From City of Lost Souls (if you've missed some of the previous one liners like me, check out the Mundie Moms forum):

“Well, hello there, Mother,” Sebastian said in a voice like silk. “Surprised to see me?”                                               and
"Is he happy like this? Really happy? And if he is, what are you saving him from?"
Then there was this tidbit for Clockwork Prince:
"Knowing Jem would arrive next, Tessa stepped away from Will hastily, though nothing improper had transpired between them at all." 
finally the big one this week was the second Clockwork Prince teaser for May, from Cassie:

Tessa pushed the carriage curtains aside. Outside she could see the gaslights going by in a yellow blur; two children were slumped in a doorway, leaning against each other, asleep. Temple Bar flew by overhead.
“Have you ever thought of transforming yourself into one of your parents?” Will asked. “Your mother, or father? It would give you access to their memories, wouldn’t it?”
She turned to look at him. “I have thought of it. Of course I have. But I have nothing of my father’s or mother’s. Everything that was packed in my trunks for the voyage here was discarded by the Dark Sisters.”
“What about your angel necklace?” Will asked. “Wasn’t that your mother’s?”
Tessa shook her head. “I tried. I — I could reach nothing of her in it. It has been mine so long, I think, that what made it hers has evaporated, like water.”
Will’s eyes were dark blue in the shadows. “Perhaps you are a clockwork girl. Perhaps Mortmain’s warlock father built you, and now Mortmain seeks the secret of how to create such a perfect facsimile of life when all he can build are hideous monstrosities. Perhaps all that beats beneath your chest is a heart made of metal.”
Tessa drew in a breath, feeling momentarily dizzy. His soft voice was so convincing, and yet — “No,” she said, sharply. “You forget, I remember my childhood. Mechanical creatures do not change or grow. Nor would that explain my ability.”
“I know,” said Will, with a grin that flashed white in the darkness. “I only wanted to see if I could convince *you*.”
Tessa looked at him steadily. “I am not the one of us who has no heart.”
It was too dim in the carriage for her to tell, but she sensed that he had flushed, as he did when startled or upset, across the tops of his cheekbones. To her surprise, he reached out a gloved hand for her. It just brushed the edges of her curls, the kid leather smooth against her cheek — and the carriage wheels came to a jerking halt. They had arrived.
-An explosion of chatter went up the other night with the leak of the cover of the latest Entertainment Weekly magazine.  It's cover? none other than Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  As usual, the best info always comes from the Hob where they talked a little about the article and interview that goes along with the cover.  For all the pictures etc, grab your copy of EW, it went on sale yesterday. 

-While we're on the subject, they officially started filming on The Hunger Games this week! Which is both exciting and worrisome, of course.  Again, the most regular updates are over on the Hob.  But there's also a local reporter in NC who's tweeted some pic's while on set.

-As I've been mentioning endlessly, the BEA quickly approaches.  For newbies like me there's equal parts apprehension and excitement (mostly crazy excitement).  To put me at ease I've been reading endless tips posts!  I Just Want to Sit here and Read has posted a good one, and included her posts from last year as well as links to a couple other comprehensive tip posts.  Red House Books an La Femme Readers has also posted a handy one, it also has a part two with Q & A, in case you still have some niggling worries.

-There have been more public events announced for the New York Book Week (in conjunction with the BEA).  Check their sites for all the listings, there are some pretty incredible ones!  NYC is literally going to be crawling with Authors!

- For those of you who aren't going to make it this year, the Armchair BEA has announced their Agenda.  Sounds like fun, and if there were two of me I would totally partake in it as well!  

-The latest Inkpop challenge is up!  And it's based on Darkest Mercy, which is pretty cool since Melissa Marr will be at the BEA.

In Melissa Marr's DARKEST MERCY, conflict is escalating in the Dark Court. A missing King, an emerging war and a mistake that could cost one brother his life. Darkest Mercy is a novel embroiled in conflict. As every good author knows with conflict comes resolution. 
Write a short story or poem that displays good conflict resolution. While the end results might always be fair to all those involved, your writing should seek to bring peace to the troubles at hand. 
It seems like an excellent challenge and maybe more difficult then it would seem. Stretch those writing wings!
- Finally, keep your eyes peeled for my mega-stupendous BEA giveaway running in conjunction with the BEA and part of the Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop.  Running May 25th to May 31st at midnight I promise to be sharing some of the BEA goodness for those who couldn't make it with multiple exciting prizes!

Happy Saturday!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Feline Friday- brotherly love

Cheddar and Thurman were having a moment the other day.  This was what we found in the early afternoon after coming home from a run out for coffee and some currency exchange.  Got to love the brotherly moments!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group Winner!

So I have the first of three winners to announce today!  Congratulations to Kristen Haskins- you've won a copy of The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks!!  It's great fun so I hope you enjoy it.

To my disappointed non-winners, make sure you enter for your chance to win a copy of Eagleton Coven ebook with swag (ending the 20th at midnight) and for one of two copies of Vaclav and Lena (ending the 22nd at midnight).  You'll never win if you don't enter, and besides, odds are always in your favour when you're talking about smallish blog giveaways!

On a further note, I'm still fighting through insane allergies while madly prepping for our Monday flight out to the BEA!! I'm super excited and can't wait to meet some of you, and for those who won't be heading out stay tuned for updates from the show.  But enough with the online procrastination! I have to go cut out some bookmarks and business cards already.
Happy Wednesday!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vaclav & Lena, by Haley Tanner- Review and Giveaway!

Sent to me by Random House, and highly recommended by their Canadian director of online marketing, Vaclav & Lena's unique sounding story had me dying to dig in.

From the same country, but two different worlds, young Russian immigrants Vaclav and Lena, become fast friends in Brooklyn.  Getting through ESL and homework together, they dream of one day putting on a Magic show on Coney Island.  Until the day Lena doesn't come to school, and for the next seven years Vaclav worries over her fate.  The evening he finally gives up his nightly good night for Lena, the phone rings.  Together can they face what happened to her?

A debut novel for Haley Tanner, Vaclav & Lena was almost an ode to the tenacity of the human spirit, and love.  Whether she was telling a story about the immigrant experience or the story of child abuse, she told it with such tenderness and clarity that I can't imagine it not having resonance with those who've experienced these things themselves.

Haley's writing sparkles with other worldliness, and has an almost childlike sense of wonder to it.  Even the harsher elements of the story are told in a guileless way, as if retold by a complete innocent.  In the end it felt like a modern day fairy tale, albeit in the true Hans Christian Anderson style.

The characters were of course the main draw.  Vaclav and his mother Rasia are incredibly lovable, and their broken English and desire to fit in yet remain true to themselves is not the least of what makes them special.  Lena, though the tougher of the two children, is made rosy and perfect by Vaclav's perspective, and his romantic view of her is completely infectious.  Even Vaclav's lazy, fat father has his moment to shine.

I'm not sure I've ever read a story so lovingly written before, it made the world seem like a rosier place while I read it, which was very very briefly as I could barely tear myself away.  Although the two main characters are young children and then teens, this is not classified as a YA book, just mainstream fiction.  But I would confidently say this book would appeal to both teens and adults alike and I can't wait to get everyone I know reading it.  It goes on sale today, so don't wait!

Vaclav & Lena, by Haley Tanner
Published by Random House, May 2011
Buy Vaclav & Lena on Amazon
Check out Haley's Blog

Enter for the opportunity to win one of two copies of Varclav and Lena!  Fill out the form below by May 22nd at Midnight, open to Canadian addresses only.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox

It's been another awesome book week, so many books Thurman's exhausted just thinking of reading them all!
Kindly sent by Random House
Vaclav & Lena, by Haley Tanner
Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by John Boyne

Kindly sent by Houghton Mifflin
Angel Burn, L.A. Weatherly
Blood Magic, by Tessa Gratton

Kindly sent to me by Graphia
The Cellar, by A.J Whitten
Dead is not and Option

and Kindly bought by the Hubby as a surprise
The Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull

Expect a review and Giveaway for the super fantastic Vaclav and Lena on Tuesday (it's release day) and in the meantime don't forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group and an ecopy of Eagleton Coven, Amaretto Flame!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Link Salad

I bring to you, this weeks word on the street!

- Cassandra Clare celebrated a ridiculously large number of twitter followers by releasing a new scene for City of Ashes.  It was awesome fun, especially since it was Alec and Magnus for a change.

When I hit 30,000 followers on Twitter, I promised a Magnus/Alec scene to my followers — a "maybe this happened" outtake from CoA in which we see their first kiss. It's now up on my website. I called it "Kissed" (a 30 hour plane ride and ensuing jetlag will do that) and I hope you get a kick out of it. It's strictly PG-13 but it is two guys kissing so if that is not your thing, this is not the thing for you.

This scene was fun because it felt like something that really had been pulled from CoA.

- Speaking of Cassie, apparently Simon and Schuster are revealing the Clockwork Prince cover at 9am on May 25th at their booth at the BEA.  For those of you who won't be there, Mundie Mom's will have the online debut the same day at 10am!

- Speaking of the BEA, more event's have been announced for New York Book Week, and it's starting to look like a book crazed week for anyone in the NYC area.  Part of the new additions was the announcement for the Teen Author Carnival, which has a huge list that is apparently still growing.

- Finally, the latest Inkpop challenge has been posted.  Revolving around Heidi Ayarbe's latest book Compulsion they're asking you to:
 So what does it take to write from the opposite perspective? Take a chance and find out. 

Write a story, poem or essay that explores looking at the world through a perspective other than your own. Like Heidi you can write from the POV of the opposite gender or you can look at the world as an animal would see it. The possibilities are endless. 
Deadline is the 19th at midnight.

Happy news hunting! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Feline Fridays- a Pick me up

It's been one of those weeks.  I've been sick, and while sick my allergies kicked in and my face swelled up like a balloon, I've had Internet problems, there was that fun little blogger blip and on top it of all I got a super disappointing haircut that looks a little like a hair helmet.  Even the cats are bummed because I dug up the backyard and re-seeded it last weekend and so they can't go outside. Sigh.

So I'm bringing on the Calvin and Hobbes, because nothing else cheers me up the way these two do. Click on each pair of strips to enlarge so you can read it.  This is a goodie about a report Calvin has to do on bats.  The note on the top of the first strip is from Bill Waterson himself.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mermaid's Cove Music Hop - Random Magic Blog Tour

 Ahoy, me darlin', ye've found a jolly round of songs for swashbucklers.  Music is a strong theme in Random Magic -- so strong, in fact, that one of the celestial characters Winnie and Henry meet is Efterpe, the Muse of music.  So, for the love of music (and pirates), here’s a fun music hop to check out, featuring all kinds of delicious tunes piratical.

Start anywhere you like -- for each blog stop, you’ll be able to enjoy a merry tune, then just sail off to the next port for another round. Hoist the mizzen and away we go!

 You are here: #7 of 11: Diary of a Bookworm

Pirate – Jen CassListen to this song: Pirate 

Came out of dusk
With a swashbuckler’s grin
A taste of the ocean’s original sin
Followed the sextants to uncharted land
Set out to conquer
What you never could understand
You wondered what you would find
Safe in my dangerous mind
Treasure and pieces of eight
You saw the warnings too late…
It’s five in the morning
Sailors take warning
Rough waters ahead
Still you stand by the bow
With a bottle to break

Random Magic quote of the piratey persuasion:

She held the map up to the porthole, against the moonlight. An entirely different map sprung to life.‘Wow.’‘Okay,’ Winnie said, tracing a path along the surface, ‘here's where we are, and here's where we need to get to.’
Henry studied the map. ‘The quickest way looks like -- through here,’he said, pointing.
‘No way. Not for a cartful of gold.’

Set sail for a new port - check out music stop #8 of 11: Take me there

 The Mermaid’s Cove Music Hop is part of Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
You can find more fun stuff here: Schedule
 (If you enjoy a particular music pick, please consider buying the track to help support the person or group who created it for everyone’s enjoyment. (The Red Queen  is the unofficial soundtrack for Random Magic Tour: Pirates! Happy listening!)
For the impatient, here are all the blogs on the hop:
Willowdust Reviews - Tina’s Book Reviews
Diary of a Bookworm- You are here! 

BONUS: Win some marrrrrrvelous plunder! Feast yer deadlights on some great tour goodies, and if you like, join the hunt!(Through May 30):
Reader note: Do you have a favorite pirate tune? Feel free to sharesome of your top tunes in the comments, maybe everyone will find a great new song to check out. If you're playing Rum + Plunder, your comment could count towards winning one of your fave prizes, too! How to play

Monday, May 9, 2011

Beyonders, A World Without Hereos, by Brandon Mull- Review

I am a HUGE Fablehaven fan.   The hubby introduced me to the series by buying the box set of the first four books for me one Christmas or birthday or some such, and they launched a bit of a mania, to say the least.  This was compounded by the non-release of the concluding part- Keys to the Demon Prison, in Canada, which meant I had to wait an extra month before sinking my teeth into it.  So it goes without saying I was going to read The Beyonders series with bells on.

It took me awhile to get to it (so many books! only one set of eyes!), and the hubby beat me to the draw and then mocked me for it, but last week I finally started it. 

During an average day of volunteering at the Zoo, Jason takes a strange fall and ends up in another world.  While wandering around lost, he rapidly gets himself into a boatload of trouble and voila!, he's arch enemy #1 to the evil emperor Maldor.  Turns out bad luck, and fate are a mean combination.  Soon Jason must chose if he will be Lyrian's unlikely Hero, or if he just wants to pack up and go home.

I love Brandon Mulls books, I really do, but beginnings are not his forte. Although the story takes off rapidly and there's no lack of action and adventure it always takes a bit to warm up to his characters.  For whatever reason they tend to come off a bit flat to begin with.  About a third of the way in his characters seem to blossom and from there on are great (keep in mind this is only the case with a new series and not at all the case after the first book). 

Like in Fablehaven, Lyrian is populated with wonderful fantasy.  Giant killer frogs bigger than men, deadly but deliciously addictive pies, unusual races who grow from seeds or can remove body parts at will, and of course a truly intriguing bad guy.  Part way into the book, Mulls trademark humor started to appear, and if I hadn't already been totally won over, I was then.  I was in tears over an attempted torture scene where Jason was fed truth serum only to befuddle his captors by babbling on about how cute a girl was and how much he liked her.

One of the signs of a really great middle school authors, is someone who can write a book as appealing to girls as it is to boys, and Mull easily does this with A World Without Heroes.  Although Jason is the main character, he does have an awesome tough girl sidekick named Rachel who holds her own throughout. 

A fun read with a great cliff hanger ending, I can't wait to get into Seeds of Rebellion next winter!

Beyonders, A World Without Heroes, by Brandon Mull
Published by Alladin, March 2011
Buy Beyonders on Amazon