28 November 2012

Dear NaNoWriMo: The End is Nigh

Dearest NaNoWriMo,

Well...it's been a good year.  With still two days left until I conclude my third year, I have never been closer to actually reaching the 50,000 word goal.  Two (or three, depending on how you look at it) days left and I only have roughly another seven and a half thousand words to go.  Despite all of the frustration, the worry, the stress, the craziness of it all, I'm glad to have gone through with this month.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

27 November 2012

Venom by Fiona Paul

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself. 

26 November 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

21 November 2012

Dear NaNoWriMo: The Comeback

My dearest NaNoWriMo,

I'm not caught up yet.  And yet I've come a million miles since last week.  Today, I'm armed with a new technique that, paired with my willingness and creatively-powered mind, has propelled me to get closer and closer to getting caught up with each passing day.  Each day, I'm close the gap a little more.  I am well on my way to finishing you, NaNo, for the first time ever.  You may laugh and say, "Ah, but just wait until next year!"  But if I don't win next year, I'll be okay with that.  If I win one out of every three years, I'll be okay.

20 November 2012

Tarzan and Under the Never Sky

Made by yours truly

This has been swirling around in my head forever it seems.  At least, since I finished Through the Ever Night, the epic second installment in Veronica Rossi's equally epic debut series.  Books and music leave general impressions in my mind -- to me, they are a certain way -- and sometimes, the impressions of a book and the impressions of a song, match.

This is the case with Veronica Rossi's Under the Never Sky series and the soundtrack to the Disney movie, Tarzan.  They both left a similar impression on my mind, so as I tore through Through the Ever Night, I found myself listening to Tarzan and thinking back on the story itself.  I started crafting scenes in my head around a particular song -- Son of Man, I swear, was made for Perry.

This harmony between song and story proves one thing: Veronica Rossi has done an absolutely amazing job.  Her world is vibrant and her characters realistic.  I love it when I fall in love with a story so much, it stays in my head for days/weeks/months/years after I've finished reading the "official" story.  I found myself constructing imaginary scenes in my head with the characters of Rossi's world and my own characters thrown in the mix.

I also love it when a story I've read finds a song of its own.  To me, the harmony between the Tarzan soundtrack and Rossi's Under the Never sky series makes perfect sense.  Phil Collins uses instruments in his songs that I can reasonably construct within the rules of the Never Sky world.  (It would be hard to figure out a way to have techno music playing at the Tides' compound.)  Also, the lyrics of the songs totally apply to the plot arc of the series!  You'll Be In My Heart?  Strangers Like Me?  (And we'll throw in Trashin' The Camp for kicks.)

If you've read Under the Never Sky, just listen to Son of Man and try and tell me the lyrics don't apply to Perry.
Though there's no one there to guide you
No one to take your hand
But with faith and understanding
You will journey from boy to man

Son of man, look to the sky
Lift your spirits, set it free
Some day you'll walk tall with pride
Son of man, a man in time you'll be
The Tarzan music brings the characters and the world to life in a way that equates to the moments when I'm in the throes of the story itself.  I love that.  Thank you, universe, for this lovely demonstration of synergism and the power of creativity.

Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered.  This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland -- known as The Death Shop -- are slim.  If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will.  She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her.  Then Aria meets an Outside named Perry.  He's wild -- a savage -- and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile -- everything he would expect from a Dweller.  But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption.  Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive.  Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

19 November 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

17 November 2012

Saturday Spotlight: The Book Bender

What is Saturday Spotlight? It's where I drag bloggers onto my blog for an interview. It's not part of a hop or any organized event. It's merely a way to feature bloggers and get inside their heads a bit. Like a psych session, but fun.

15 November 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

14 November 2012

Dear NaNoWriMo: Constant Nagging

Dearest NaNoWriMo,

Why don't you get off my back already?  Yes, I realize that I'm behind.  Should I blame myself?  Ultimately, yes.  I didn't have to choose to go to YALLFest (which literally took up an entire day and left absolutely no room for writing) but it happened and it's over.  From my slump, I have now put myself approximately 4,200 words behind schedule.

Don't.  Go.  There.  I'm behind.  That's how it is.  We're moving on.

I don't suppose you could cut me some slack?  Oh, of course not!  It's all about you!  Fine.  Keep on resetting the target count to 1,667 every single day.  I'm going to come out of this slump so fast and furiously, I'll leave 1,667 words in the dust.  You just watch me.

Most Affectionately and Determinately,

Your Biggest Fan

For the uninformed, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to get to 50,000 words in thirty consecutive days -- the "thirty consecutive days" being the month of November. For more info (and to join in the fun!) check out the NaNoWriMo site. You can add me as a friend here.

12 November 2012

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Kitty Tylney has always lived in the shadow of her best friend, Cat.  Then Cat worms her way into the court of King Henry VIII -- and into the king's heart.  When Cat makes her best friend part of her inner circle at court, Kitty is thrust into a glittering new life of fabulous gowns, opulent parties, and dashing men vying for her attention.  But Kitty soon discovers that beneath the golden veneer lurks a world of secrets and lies, trysts and back-door deals, where the price of gossip could literally be her head.  Once you've clawed your way to the top, there's nowhere to go but down...and it's a long fall from the Queen of England's throne.

09 November 2012

There's Gonna Be An Authoress at YallFest

That's right.  This here girl is gonna be living it up tomorrow in Charleston, SC for YallFest.  I've already got my schedule planned out, but I'm not going to bore you with those nitty-gritty details.  I'm sure y'all have got so many other interesting things to do.

But since you're badgering me!

10 AM
Keynote: Literary Friendships
Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

12 PM
Stephanie Perkins signing

1 PM
Panel:  No Rest for the Wicked
Melissa de la Cruz, Cinda Chima, Caitlin Kittredge, Kimberly Derting, Siobhan Vivian, and Jenny Han
Moderator: Beth Revis

2 PM
Panel:  Dark Hearts
Sarah Rees Brennan, Kami Garcia, Michelle Hodkin, Holly Black, Caitlin Kittredge
Moderator: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Possible signings: Simone Elkeles, Kimberly Derting, Beth Revis

3 PM
Panel:  The Future of Sci Fi/Fantasy
Beth Revis, Kathy Reichs, Dave Macinnis, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Kimberly Derting, Diana Peterfreund
Moderator: Rose Brock

Possible signings: Kami Garcia, Jess Rothenburg, Margaret Stohl

4 PM
Panel: In Production 2013
Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Cassandra Clare

Possible signings: Caitlin Kittredge

6 PM

If you're headed off to YallFest tomorrow (or tonight) (or maybe you're already there?) then send me a shout out either through Twitter or Goodreads or by commenting and maybe we can chill there!  :D

Don't be afraid to recognize me if you happen to see me! :D I'll either be wearing a cream colored peasant-looking shirt or a blue shirt with wolves on it.  Haven't decided yet.  Either way, my hair is gonna be up (an important thing to remember -- I almost never wear my hair down) and I'll most likely be standing with my dad (aka: my driver).

Hope to see some of you there!  If not, check back Monday or Tuesday for a YallFest recap!

Recap: Libba Bray Event

Now before y'all bust out all Buffy on me, I just want to say that I realize this event is nearly two months old.  In my defense, there were some video mixups concerning my iPad (which is what I filmed this with) and only after I'd successfully made the Cinda Williams Chima video did I realize I could do something with the Libba Bray one.

Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of The Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winning Going Bovine; Beauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, and two sociopathic cats.

Here's Libba Bray:

Part I

Part II

Follow Friday (35)

08 November 2012

Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi

Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.

After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry's sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv's unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv's union. Normally, Roar couldn't care less about Vale's opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale's leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

07 November 2012

Recap: Cinda Williams Chima Event + Giveaway

Leaving at three thirty in the afternoon for an event that starts at seven, grabbing a small order of fries at McDonalds and freezing half to death at the sudden onset of winter to see Cinda Williams Chima was totally worth it.

Even more so when I finally got my own copy of The Crimson Crown signed and got some totally awesome swag.  (And also, I love book signings simply because you meet the coolest people in line.  Lisa, if you're reading this, you are that cool person.  Thank you for taking this awesome pic!!)  The whole evening was worth the two and half hour drive back.

So I filmed Ms. Chima's entire presentation, which was around forty minutes long, but for this video I had to condense it to a little bit under fifteen minutes.  I apologize, y'all, because I had to take out some funny parts in order to have room for the informative ones.  Hopefully you will enjoy it all the same. :D

Ms. Chima handed me a whole stack of bookmarks, and even signed a few!  On top of that, they had these absolutely awesome posters for The Crimson Crown.  I happened to grab a couple.  SO.

This giveaway will have TWO winners, each will get a signed bookmark and a Crimson Crown poster.  Apologies to my international followers, but this is a US only giveaway.  :/  My 600 follower giveaway is still open, however, so go check that out for the chance to win any YA title!

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

Dear NaNoWriMo: Be Afraid

My Dearest NaNoWriMo,

We've been going steady for a week now, and I just wanted to let you know that to me, you are transparent.  I see the things signs.  I know you're up to something.  You're thinking that my continual adherence to meeting, and then surpassing, your target daily word count is somehow a phase; it's just something I'll burn through.  Even the brightest flame burns itself out eventually, yes?

No.  "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle," said St. Francis of Assisi.  (This is a rather awkward and ironic occurrence, that I would use something said by St. Francis of Assisi in this context, but I will leave you to ponder why this is ironic.  Just know it has to do with the novel I'm currently dominating.)

I don't think this is a phase.  Every day, for seven days, without fail, I have stuck to my routine.  In the morning, I eat breakfast at my desk while I take care of blog things (write reviews, reply to comments, check emails, reply to emails, etc.), then I read a bit, break for lunch and then after lunch, I spend however long it takes me to get to add two thousand words to my story.  I'm not just rounding 1,667 up to 2,000.  I write two thousand a day.  So right about now, I'm about a day's worth ahead of your projected progress.

I'll wait while you gather yourself from the bomb of awesomeness I just dropped on you.

If I were you, NaNo, I'd take a long, hard look at yourself.  You may think you can fool me into thinking I'm gonna burn out, but you've got something coming for you.  In fact, you've got 50,000 somethings coming for you.  By this time next week, I will be standing on the bones of thousands of words that made it out of my head and onto the screen.  Yes, they may suck.  But, like Kevin Wilson said in his pep talk: I may be the worst writer in the world, but at least I'll have the evidence to prove it.

NaNo, be afraid.  Be very, very afraid.

Sincerely and determinedly,

Your Biggest Fan

For the uninformed, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to get to 50,000 words in thirty consecutive days -- the "thirty consecutive days" being the month of November. For more info (and to join in the fun!) check out the NaNoWriMo site. You can add me as a friend here.

06 November 2012

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and Graveminder, comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.

05 November 2012

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

01 November 2012

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?

Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves.

Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan's return, vowing to do whatever it takes -- even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect.

Worlds apart, Ethan and Lena must once again work together to rewrite their fate, in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series.

TBR: November

to be read pile

To compensate for my loose impulse control, this is a tentative list and will be edited throughout the month. Please stay tuned for more insanity.

* * *

Goal Books
these are the books that I'd like to read this month

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Ranger's Apprentice: Halt's Peril by John Flanagan
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Purity by Jackson Pearce

Accomplished Books
these made it through the insanity phase and got read

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Roar and Liv by Veronica Rossi
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood