Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Pub date - September 2010.

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden's Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn't mean danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery - but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana'Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now the safest place for Raisa is Wien House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wien House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han's and Raisa's paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cutthroat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction. (book back blurb)

Like The Demon King, The Exiled Queen is chock full of fantastical awesomeness. Chima has a way of writing that makes the Seven Realms both sit in the background yet be full and lush, enveloping you into its world. Like Sab (YA Bliss) said in her review, I want to live in this world. It just feels so real, like something that could exist on an alternate plane that if you could just tilt your head the right way, you'd see it.

The relationships between Amon, Raisa, Han, Dancer, Cat, Micah and Fiona are flourishing, some for the good and some for the bad. They're multidimensional in this book compared to the last. I feel like what I got in TDK was just a scratch in what these characters really are. And I'm so rooting for Han and Raisa. I can't wait to see just what happens between them in the next book. And Raisa and Amon for that matter.

Speaking of, I think one of my favorite parts of these books is the way Raisa views courtship and romance. She really is a helpless romantic but the facetious way she talks about kissing this boy and that boy and this other one, and then this one in dark corners, it's just a relief. There's no guilt. No one chastises her for how she acts. It's just normal. I guess it's refreshing seeing how normal Raisa is in her dating life considering everything going on around her.

The issues between Han and Micah are coming to a head and man, I'm just waiting for it to burst. But I truly pity Han. He's stuck in a difficult spot and is basically nothing more than a tool for people to use. It's hard not to think that they're using him not only for his talents but because of the very fact that he rightly has nothing left. No one will miss him should he get gone. But really, that's not true.

I just can't help but absolutely love the world that Chima created. The more I read her books, the more the world just fits into my normal. It's both intricate yet understanding. You can feel the dangers that the cadets face traveling to Oden's Ford. The way she wrote about the mist reminded me of some horror story where the mist was alive. And it might as well been here. I feel the pain and anguish and joy and love and hate that every single character feels; from Raisa herself right down to Cat, who, right now, is little more than a blip on the greater radar. You can feel the grime that covers them, feel how tired they are, the pain they feel after training. It's such an exceptionally written book that it's hard not to get sucked in completely.

It's funny because the book is a little long. I'm sure it could have been chopped down, that some parts were overdrawn. But if you ask me what could be cut, I couldn't name a single thing. I loved it all and every sentence in the book now makes it all the richer. I really can't say much more about The Exiled Queen without completely fangirling it and I really don't have any complaints so I'm going to end this here. Just read it and join me in my pain of waiting for the next book.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Decorating Options

The closer I get to that final zero hour before I move out on my own, I'm thinking more and more about how I'd like to decorate my place. I'm really someone that leans more towards a more classic or older style look as opposed to a modern chair or sofa that looks more like a piece of artwork than anything functional. Suffice it to say, you won't be finding anything like this in my apartment any time soon -

This is more my bag -

Nice and comfy and functional. Plus I can't mix colors to save my life so my plan is to go neutral with the furniture and accent the hell out of it. That's pretty much the only way I can make my place NOT look like a box of Crayolas threw up in it.

So maybe this time around I'll review another CSN product and get to put it to good use in my new place! Here's hoping. I plan on buying quite a bit from CSN stores. They just have nice stuff and it's reasonably priced. You can't ask for much more than that!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Winner and Some Dust Biting

First, the winner of my copy of Manifest by Artist Arthur is . . .


Congratulations! I've already sent you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Now, after some semi-careful consideration, I've decided to stop my Chomper Contests post. I know a lot of you use it and check it out quite often but right now, I'm running out of time in the day for something like that. With my upcoming two week vacation, followed by my moving into my own place and a certain soldier boy coming home in November, something's gotta give.

My Chomper Contests post is the most time-consuming part of my blog and with me adding more and more blogs to my blog roll, it's taking up more and more of my time. Right now, what should take me 15 minutes to handle my blog a night turns into an hour and a half. I have to cut back. Since this is the least pivotal aspect of my blog (in terms of content), it's being put on the chopping block.

So, sorry. I'll leave the contests that I have up now and just let them run out. I just won't update the list. I know quite a few people have weekly contest updates on their blogs so be sure to hunt them down and check them out. If you do something like that, leave a comment so people know where to find you. Right now, I'd rather cut something that doesn't affect content instead of leaving something up that's an afterthought but takes up a huge amount of time.

Added to the Pile + 50

Got a few this week that closed up that dent I had made in my TBR pile.

From Flux -

From Running Press Teens -

From Bloomsbury -

Thanks to my trip up to UCONN to get a stamped copy, and no thanks to Borders as my pre-ordered copy is still hovering somewhere between New Jersey and Connecticut -

Things I've Learned from Books + 69

If your image is emblazoned on coins across the kingdom, the chances of you being able to hide in plain sight are pretty slim. Unless your world can do more to alter your image than give you a bad haircut, stay inside. Embrace solitude.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Couple Winners + Summer Blast Giveaway #6!

First some backlogged winners. The winner of Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang is . . .


And the winner of the signed copy of Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin is . . .


Congratulations to you both! I've already emailed you guys. And a big thanks to everyone who entered! Now on to this week's Summer Blast Giveaway -

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara's boyfriend Brent has been sleeping with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn't just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for three lifelong friends. Tara's training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment after being deserted by her father. Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leaves this beauty looking for her own value in all the wrong places. And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mom she's never stopped missing.

Then new-girl Riley arrives in school with her long black hair, athletic body, and her blase attitude, and suddenly Tara starts to feel things she's never felt before for a girl - and to reassess her feelings about Brent and what he may/may not have done. Is Tara gay - or does she just love Riley? And can her deepest friendships survive when all of the rules have changed? (book back blurb)

Want it? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per email address per person. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends September 3rd at midnight, EST.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 78 + A Reminder!

First, just a quick reminder that my contest for a copy of Manifest by Artist Arthur ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then. And now back to your regular 80s programming.

Oh yeah. Thank the 80s for the awesomeness that is Nerf. You know you had something from Nerf. A multi-colored football, one of those plastic guns that shot foam darts, whatever. You had something and you loved it. Until your dog got a hold of it. And then it wasn't so nice to pick up, before or after.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 78

Title: Spellbinder, Night World #3
Author: LJ Smith
Published: September 1996
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 227
In Spellbinder the plot centers on Thea and Blaise Harman, cousins who belong to the race of witches. Although they are as close as sisters, in temperament the girls are as different as day from night; Thea belongs to Circle Twilight, for the not-so-wicked-witches and Blaise belongs to Circle Midnight, for the darker ones. When the two cousins start fighting over Eric Ross there ensures an epic battle between black and white magic.
Yeah, um, no.  That's quite possibly one of the lamest blurbs I've ever read.  It's like she stopped trying or something.  I hope the whole series isn't like this.  There are a few more after this one.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Wars + 35

Anne of Avonlea just barely took home the prairie last week. This week? Let's just hope we survive it. FIGHT!

It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of "day" comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. "Besides," they tell each other, "there is nowhere but here" Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves--and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails?

Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried. They have just been assigned their life jobs--Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic "Instructions for Egress," they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way to the city of light of which Lina has dreamed. (from librarything.com)


It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History. But let's face it, that would be crap. Daisy is sent from New York to England to spend a summer with cousins she has never met. They are Isaac, Edmond, Osbert and Piper. And two dogs and a goat. She's never met anyone quite like them before - and, as a dreamy English summer progresses, Daisy finds herself caught in a timeless bubble. It seems like the perfect summer. But their lives are about to explode. Falling in love is just the start of it. War breaks out - a war none of them understands, or really cares about, until it lands on their doorstep. The family is separated. The perfect summer is blown apart. Daisy's life is changed forever - and the world is too. (from librarything.com)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Author Bites - Cinda Williams Chima on Keeping a Map of Those Murdered Darlings

I am absolutely in love with Cinda Williams Chima's The Seven Realms novels. If you haven't read The Demon King, then you need to go out right now and get it. And then pre-order The Exiled Queen. I think Cinda is an amazing writer and I asked if she would divulge some of her processes behind this series and her writing in general. She graciously handed over some words and what is quite possibly my favorite author quote ever. See if you can spot it. Thank you for stopping by, Cinda!

Publishing is a fickle and frustrating business—and nobody knows it better than writers. We always feel like we are at the bottom of the food chain. Many of us write for years and years, hundreds of thousands of words that will never see a wider audience than our friends, lovers, and long-suffering critique groups.

Even though I always say you shouldn’t be a writer unless you love the process, it seems like such a waste of our creative youth!

And yet—my first writing teacher always said, “Nothing is wasted. Everything you write makes you a better writer.”

More and more, I believe that’s true. Not only that, some of that “practice” writing can be improved, recycled and repurposed. Some of those ideas are keepers, even if the craft wasn’t there to begin with.

Be ruthless in your editing, be savage in revision. By all means, kill your darlings--but know where the bodies are buried. Recycle and reuse—that’s environmentally responsible, right?

The first novel I managed to finish as an adult was The Warrior Heir, a contemporary YA fantasy novel set in Ohio. I was so enthralled with the magical system and the characters, I wrote a second novel, The Wizard Heir. While I shopped the two Heir books, I launched into a very ambitious project—a high fantasy trilogy for adults.

It was called The Star-Marked Warder, and by the time I finished two of the three books, I had more than 500,000 words. These were giant books, even by fantasy standards.

It reminds me of a topic tag on the Editorial Anonymous blog http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/search/label/how%20to%20tell%20you%27re%20never%20going%20to%20get%20published
—“How To Tell You’ll Never Be Published.” Here’s one possibility—write a 750,000-word high fantasy trilogy for your fiction debut.

But I loved those books I wrote. I loved those characters—flawed and star-crossed as they were. I loved the ruthless politics of the warring peoples of the queendom of the Fells. I loved the magical systems—the powerful green magic of the upland Clans and the dangerous high magic of the Northern Island wizards.

I loved the world I’d created—the world of the Seven Realms. I even had a map—a lame rendering that I laboriously copied over and over as I added cities and landmarks and details to my burgeoning world. More importantly, even my endlessly-patient critique group loved my world and my characters. Years later, they still remember scenes in amazing detail. Some keep hinting that maybe I should just go ahead and finish it. What’s 250,000 more words, after all?

The Star Marked Warder got me an agent, who undertook the impossible task of selling it. After a year of trying, she said, “Um. Didn’t you have a young adult project, too?”

And so I dusted off The Warrior Heir, and revised it yet again, using everything I’d learned from writing SMW. And it sold. I revised The Wizard Heir, removing a flashback scene I knew my editor wouldn’t like. And it sold. So, I wrote a third, The Dragon Heir, that made the series a best-seller.

When I considered what to write next, I knew I wanted to write more fantasy for teens. But what? My thoughts returned to the series I’d abandoned.

I knew the Seven Realms were full of stories. So I chose two of my favorite characters from SMW—the streetwise thief Han Alister and Princess Raisa ana’Marianna—the strong-willed heir to the throne. I went back to when they were sixteen years old, to when their stories really began--to when they transformed themselves. And that was the birth of the Seven Realms series. I aimed to make these books leaner and more accessible—as all good fiction should be. The series will total four books of—ahem—more manageable size.

And if there’s ever a need for a sequel, well…I’m ready to revise.

Oh! Remember that chapter I cut from The Wizard Heir? Revised, repurposed, and retitled “The Trader,” it’s being published this fall in The Way of the Wizard, a fantasy anthology edited by John Joseph Adams. It will be my first short fiction publication.

Revise, recycle, repurpose—we call that “evergreen” writing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Added to the Pile + 49

Here's my day late Added to the Pile. Sigh. Thanks to Omnibus Press I received a copy of Lady Gaga: Looking for Fame, The Life of a Pop Princess by Paul Lester. And thanks to 45th Parallel Communications, I received When I Was Joe by Keren David and Buddy Zooka in the French Quarter and Beyond by Tracey Tangerine.

Buddy Zooka brings the French Quarter to life like no one since Ignatius Reilly. Buddy is a happy-go-lucky musician in the French Quarter until one day he goes fishing and catches an alligator, Mardi Gater, who quickly decides to take up residence in Buddy's hat. Thrown off his usual carefree routine, Buddy loses his smile and starts to contemplate his world. Buddy's journey turns spiritual as faith healers show him how man has been degrading his environment and how the secret to our salvation resides within each one of us. Buddy's story is at turns zany and contemplative, and the lesson learned is a profound one that resonates in New Orleans like nowhere else. (book back blurb)

This electrifying biography explores Stefani Germanotta's rapid rise to global stardom in the guise of the outrageous Lady Gaga.

Hers has been a triumph achieved with the help of wild image-making, infectious pop hits and a teasing strand of ambiguous sexuality that has turned her into a gay icon. At heart it's the story of a unique self-made phenomenon - a Madonna for today.

As an adoring fan of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, Lady Gaga took the essence of 80s glam and reinvented it for the digital age. Commercially successful and critically accepted she shot from obscurity in Manhattan's Lower East Side club scene to worldwide fame in just a couple of years. This is the story of her high-speed rise in the fame game, told with a mix of admiration and sharp journalistic insight.
(book back blurb)

It's one thing watching someone get killed. It's quite another talking about it.

But Ty does talk about it. He names some ruthless people and a petrol-bomb attack forces him and his mum into hiding under police protection.

Shy loser Ty gets a new name, a new look and a cool new image. Life as Joe is good. But the gangsters will stop at nothing to silence him. And then he meets a girl with a dangerous secret of her own.
(book back blurb)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just Call Me Dr. Death

I have successfully killed dead one laptop and two desktop computers this year alone. I've left 3 other laptops in my wake. I may be forgetting some.

I'm so fed the fuck up with technology I want to cry. We can put a man on the fucking moon and make a Chevy last for 65 years. God forbid we create a computer that doesn't fail after 2. Thanks, capitalism.

So aside from a dead desktop (which functioned as my main computer after I killed my laptop a few months ago), my wireless router fried after a power surge. My dad, aka the life saver, gave me the one I'm using now, which travels at the speed of sludge. But it's better than nothing. As is the 10 year old laptop I'm currently using.

Thing is I can do 98% of my internet stuff on my iPod Touch. Except blog. And graphic design. The Touch didn't come with a CD-Rom to install that software. Well, I guess technically I can blog on the iTouch but I can't link anything, I can't load pictures, I can't really format. Basically I can't do anything worthwhile. So this stone tablet will have to do.

I can feel a migraine coming on. Or my brain's just on the verge of oozing out of my ears.

I may just have to break down and go out and buy a Mac. I can't fucking take it anymore. I'm up to like 7 dead computers in just as many years. Obviously it's time to upgrade and from what I've heard, Mac's don't have these problems. I just really hate the Apple store at my local mall. It's ridiculous.

I was planning on posting an Added to the Pile but that's going to have to wait until tomorrow. Right now I need to go drink myself into a stupor. Excuse me.

Things I've Learned from Books + 68

dimitri_c, stock.xchng

You thought your commute to school was bad. At least it doesn't take you days to get there, having to sleep outside in cold mist, scaling down a cliff with the ever-constant threat of getting killed by mercenaries. Makes the school bus look tame, huh?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Winner + Summer Blast Giveaway #5

First the winner of my signed copy of Virgin Territory by James Lecesne . . .

Meredith Miller!!!

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you shortly. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

And now what am I giving away this week?

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver - deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together.

Then Avery meets the new boy in school - Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. Ben is a werewolf, but Avery trusts him - at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.
(book back blurb)

This ARC is signed! Interested in my copy? Then just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends August 27th at midnight, EST.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 77


Thank the 80s for this phrase. Whether you were a Madonna wannabe, yuppie wannabe, goth wannabe or whatever other wannabe there was, chances were you were some kind of wannabe. Unless you were the anti-wannabe, which only made you fit into their own sub category. Congratulations.

Freaky Friday :|: 77

Title: Daughters of Darkness, Night World #2
Author: LJ Smith
Published: August 1996
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 240
Mary-Lynnette, seventeen, loves to watch the stars from her Oregon backyard. Then one day, she thinks she’s witnessed a murder through her telescope. She’s wrong: it’s only three vampire sisters burying their mysteriously-killed aunt. The sisters, Rowan, Kestral, and Jade ran away from their enclave home to live the lives of regular teenagers. However, when their brother Ash is sent to bring the girls back, he falls in love with Mary-Lynnette. But will she accept him because of his lurid vampire past and can a now-repentant Ash convince Mary-Lynnette to let him atone for his former sins and be his soulmate? (from bn.com)
While I'm more interested in the chicks burying their aunt, this one could have potential. I'm not big on the romance/soul mate thing. That I could live without.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Author Bites - Artist Arthur on Books and Frozen Desserts

I felt Manifest was so awesome that I asked Artist Arthur if she'd like to donate a few words to my blog to further back up my love for her book. Yay for me, she agreed! Here Artist talks about reasons, richies and whys. Thank you so much, Artist, for stopping by!

Remember when Forrest Gump referred to life as a box of chocolates? Well, to me, Manifest is like a bowl of rainbow sherbet (I prefer sherbet to ice cream and sometimes chocolate). In my rainbow sherbet, there’s orange, lime, raspberry and pineapple—yummy! In Manifest there’s teenage angst, current affairs, fantasy and fiction—interesting.

I know that Krystal is bratty and selfish at times, just like the teenage girl that resides in one of the bedrooms in my house. In creating Krystal, I really wanted to make sure her actions and reactions were on point. I spent a lot of time wondering how I would feel if I were put in the position she was. I knew that I’d be angry and most likely not in the mood for socializing, especially not with a ghost. But the adult me knows how important it is to go through things in order to grow. Ricky was the perfect person to pull Krystal out of what she thought was her reality, because he was dead. I think Ricky’s status was the main eye-opener for Krystal.

The powers were another point of consideration for this series. I wanted them to directly relate to each character in some way. Krystal is disgusted with the living people in her life, it stands to reason that talking to the dead would not make her happy either—yet the dead are who actually save her from her own self-destructive path. Sasha seems to have it all and yet she can disappear. Why would a person who has it all want to leave it all? Jake has super strength, but is physical strength all he’ll need to fight his inner battle? There’s a method to my madness—one of my teacher’s used to say that all the time, usually as she was passing out a pop quiz.

Creating the town of Lincoln was a crucial part in developing this series. What I wanted was a small town plagued with secrets, mysteries and people in denial. Does it seem weird that Sasha is rich and going to a public school? Yes, it does and makes you wonder why, right? There has to be a reason that these really rich people aren’t sending their child to a private boarding school. Maybe she can’t go to the boarding school. Why are the rich people in this town…in this small town when they could be in the big city, living a much richer life? The “why’s” seem to be endless, I know. Did I do this on purpose…maybe. Okay, yeah, some of it I did. Sorry if it bugs instead of intrigues, I can truly understand just wanting a simple answer. Problem is, I can’t really give one without it being a spoiler!

I selected Connecticut because of its coastal region and the fact that it wasn’t that far from New York, where Krystal was just moving from, where her mother was born and raised. More details about the fictitious town of Lincoln will be revealed in the coming books. So I don’t argue what real coastal towns of Connecticut are like socially, but there’s a reason that Lincoln’s a little different. It’s that methodical madness again.

Now I’m anxious for Mystify to be released (Feb 2011) so some of the “why’s” can be answered. I’m also really craving a bowl of rainbow sherbet right now. Or a really good book. J

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Wars (34)

The Baby-Sitters Club eeked by on a single vote. If I had my say, I would have voted for them too. Now it's time to dip into the classics bucket and see what we pull out. FIGHT!

At sixteen Anne is grown up...almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job a the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else's romance, finds two orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone. (from librarything.com)


Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; "It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together.... 'No wonder it is still,' Mary whispered. 'I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'" As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin's sour natures begin to sweeten. (from librarything.com)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Published October 2009.

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister, Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can't sell. For as long as Han can remember, he's worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They're clearly magicked - as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

While out hunting one day, Han and his clan friend Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Too soon, Han learns that the amulet has an evil history - it onc
e belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of relative fre
edom with her family at Demonai camp - riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.

Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea - the legendary warrior queen who killed the D
emon King and saved the world. But it seems that her mother has other plans for her - plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for. (book back blurb)

I've always been a little hesitant about reading high fantasy because of the detachment I tend to feel while reading. The books that I've read seemed to be more concerned about dumping every little piece of the world the author created onto the reader instead of focusing on the plot. Things that functioned like normal pieces of our world were renamed and lacked context so I spent more of the book trying to figure out what was what instead of what was going on.

Not so with The Demon King. At first the entrance into this new world was a little jarring. New terminology and things can do that to a person. But after about a chapter and a half, I zoomed right into the plot and I didn't want to stop. I didn't want to stop so bad that I plowed into the next book in the series, The Exiled Queen, because I just had to know what happened next. Which only means I'm going to have to wait extra long for the next book. At least I have The Warrior Heir in my TBR pile to tide me over.

The realms that Chima created is both wholly fantastic in its new self and at the same time grounded enough in our reality that I could stay connected to the story while reading it. The bits and pieces of the world that made it unique to itself blended seamlessly with the story. There wasn't any lingering on a single piece of anything to infodump. Anything that needed to be known about anything was woven into the story itself. Everything was a part of everything else and no single piece stood out any more than the rest. There was just enough newness to the world that I felt immersed in a whole different place as I was reading but the characters, their actions, their circumstances and their surroundings held me in place for how real they were. I felt that despite the fantasy land, it could have existed.

Raisa is probably one of my favorite YA heroines I've read yet. She's so strong-willed and opinionated but not obnoxiously so. She knows her place and yet at the same time somewhat (and not-so-somewhat) works quietly to fight against that. She strives to better herself. As much as she loves her mother, she doesn't want to be an ignorant or weak queen. She pushes people to push her because it'll make her that much stronger.

And I love just how blatant her sexuality is. Usually when you end up with any kind of king/queendom type of setting, there's an air of propriety attached. While she's not allowed to have boys in her room or anything, she speaks of kissing a multitude of boys as if it were nothing. She's not a slut but she's certainly not prudish, either. She has her limits, she knows them and she sticks to them. I love it.

And one can't help but love Han. Man, did he get the shit end of the stick in life. And while his and Raisa's paths cross pretty briefly in the overall length of the story, they remain with each other. Except Han doesn't know who's crossed his path. He's not matching the girl he's thinking about to the girl he loathes in the high tower. I'm anxiously awaiting the point when he finds out the two are one and the same.

I loved the history of this world that skimmed just under the surface of the plot and subplots. It made me want to know more. There's a political divide there; treason, treachery, hatred. I'd love to grab one of Speaker Jemson's history books and just sit and read for a while. Or even listen to old Lucius since he knows the real history of the Breaking. I also love how the revolt from on high is taking place so underhandedly. Sneaky bastards, those wizards!

I just can't say enough good about The Demon King. I really can't. The world is so vivid that I could dive right into it. The characters are so real I could almost touch them. The story pulled at me so strongly that at points I wanted to yell out to help the characters and I even got misty-eyed at a few other moments. Most importantly, The Demon King has me so excited for high fantasy that I'm totally jazzed to keep working on my own manuscript and dear god, I hope it can be at least a tenth as good as this is. Even if high fantasy isn't your thing, you need to read this one. The plot alone will suck you in. The world is just a gorgeous added bonus.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Carolrhoda Lab Love

At this point I don't think it's any surprise how much I love the Lerner imprint Carolrhoda Lab. First it was Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick that sucked me into a strange boy's head and then back in time. Then it was Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang, a story told from the eyes of a girl we tend to overlook. I have two more titles of theirs to read, The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff and The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, which I'm sure will be just as amazing as the first two.

Carolrhoda Lab is about pushing the boundaries of YA. They don't publish your normal, run of the mill YA. Their stuff isn't of the norm and it's no surprise that one of their titles, coming out in Spring of 2012, is equally as unconventional.

Compiled by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton, the currently untitled book will be a behind the scenes look at how these authors write. Complete with IMs, tweets and emails, you'll be able to get a raw look, through this book, at how some of the greatest YA authors out now create, and revise, their works. Like a behind the scenes featurette of a movie, this is the book world's version.

So keep Carolrhoda Lab on your radar and look out for this book. You know you want it!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of a signed copy of The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams is . . .


Congratulations! I've already emailed you. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Added to the Pile + 48

Just two books this week. From Llewellyn I received Werewolves by Konstantinos and from Harper Teen I received Hothouse by Chris Lynch.

How does one become - or kill - a werewolf? Where do our modern shapeshifting stories come from? Are werewolves real? In this fascinating book, Konstantinos digs into the centuries-old myths and compelling scientific evidence surrounding these enigmatic beasts of literary and Hollywood fame.
  • Explore four different types of werewolves: involuntary, voluntary, otherdimensional beings, and astral
  • Find out which kinds of werewolves might actually exist.
  • Learn about the shapeshifting beliefs of the Quileutes and other Native American tribes
  • Discover lycanthropic legends from cultures all over the world.
You'll also find true, never-before-published accounts of werewolf sightings and discussions of modern scientific theories that support the existence of these mysterious creatures. Each aspect is investigated, from curses and shamanic vision quests to drug-induced hallucinations and serial-killer werewolves. (book back blurb)

In the beginning it was strange, ya know, because of all that we had lost. But there was something about it that felt so good and so right, too: "I'm so proud of you, Russ." "We'll always be here for you, man." "Heroes don't pay for nothin' in this town." It was nonstop. The mayor shook my hand. Ladies sent food. I've never eaten so much baked ham in my life.

And now? Now the phone won't stop ringing from the crazies ready to blame me. My mom has to cry herself to sleep. They take a firefighter, a man, and they pump him up so big . . . But once they start taking it away from you, they don't stop until they leave nothing on the bones.

First they needed heroes, then they needed blood.
(book flap blurb)

Things I've Learned from Books + 67

Wizards are bad. They just want to use and abuse you and then when they get what they want, they toss you to the side. It doesn't matter how charismatic or good-looking or how good of a dancer they are. They suck. Or so I've been told.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Couple of Winners + Summer Blast Giveaway #4

First I have a couple of winners from recently ended contests to announce. The winner of Middleworld: The Jaguar Stones Book 1 by J&P Voelkel is . . .

Daisy Mota!!!

Congratulations! I've already emailed you. And the winner of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff is . . .

Autumn Crochet!!!

Congratulations to you too! I'll be emailing you shortly. And a big thanks to everyone that entered both contests!

Now on to this week's Summer Blast Giveaway -

Dylan Flack never wanted to leave New York City for Florida, but his mother's death changed everything. Drifting further away from his father and losing sight of his future, Dylan stumbles through a hot summer as a caddy. But a sighting of the Blessed Virgin Mary brings hundreds of worshippers to town, including the beautiful and mysterious Angela, who leads Dylan to the life-changing realization that faith requires wanting something badly enough to take a risk. (book back blurb)

This ARC is SIGNED! Want to win it? Just fill out the form below. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends August 20th at midnight, EST.

Ban This! 2010

As you may or may not be aware, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week is from September 25th to October 2nd this year. The short of the long of Banned Books Week is basically a national, week-long celebration of those books that have been challenged and/or successfully banned across the country. This year I'm working in conjunction with Steph Su over at Steph Su Reads who's hosting a Banned Books Reading Challenge. Once you sign up here, be sure to head on over to her site and join in the reading.

People are still challenging books in this day and age, you ask? Unfortunately, yes. See, there are people out there, small-minded people that feel the need to force their feelings about certain pieces of literature on others instead of just keeping it in the family. These people are usually adamant loud mouths that, chances are, have never read the books they're challenging.

Well, how can they not like a book they haven't read, you say? Easy. They hear things. They read blurbs. Their friends tell them. And because of this you get gems like Twilight landing on the most challenged books list due to it's sexually explicit content. I'll give you a moment with that one . . . no, I'm not kidding.

So these Nazis (yes, jackwagons, you're Nazis, see photo - )

(psst . . . those people aren't waving hi to each other . . .) feel that since their children shouldn't be reading these books, no one's children should be reading these books. And it's people like Ginny Maziarka that we can thank for the awesomeness that is Banned Books Week. Ginny, without people like you, we wouldn't have such fodder and then where would that leave us? We can only blame the first round of Nazis for so long before it gets old. But thanks to the likes of this second generation, the fodder is endless.

If you were hanging around my blog last year, you'll know that I took it upon myself to extend Banned Books Week into Banned Books Month with Ban This! There's just way too much fun to cram into one week. At least for me.

The thing is, this year my vacation spans half the month of September so I won't be around to pump my blog full of bigoted housewives on steroids. So what I'm doing this year is Mr. Linky-ing it up. If you're going to be posting anything about banned books in the month of September, add your blog to this list and be sure to spread the word. Considering the relative noobness of my blog last year, Ban This! turned out pretty good. I'd like to make it even better this year.

So call in your connections with authors and publishers, fellow bloggers and even yourself. Get those posts lined up now and let's flood the book blogging community with banned books love this September! And this year I even have a pretty little Ban This! button all ready and able for you guys to grab over in the sidebar! So get your reading caps on (as if they weren't already) and stuff it to those knobs that insist on attempting to take our books away.


American Library Association - Banned Books Week
Banned and Controversial Books
Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week Proclamation

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and

WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one's interest examined or scrutinized by others; and

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and

WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and

WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and

WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and

WHEREAS, Americans still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and

WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and

WHEREAS, conformity limits the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend; and

WHEREAS, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and

WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that Bites celebrates the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, September 25th to October 2nd, and be it further

RESOLVED, that Bites encourages all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further

RESOLVED, that Bites encourages free people to read freely, now and forever.

Adopted by Donna at Bites

80s Awesomeness! ~ 76

Back to the Future is the 80s. How can you talk about the 80s without talking about Back to the Future with Alex P. Keaton, er, Michael J. Fox? I don't know a single person that hasn't seen this movie, or any of its sequels. It made the Delorean, it made Doc cool and, of course, it had skateboarding. What 80s movie would be complete without skateboarding? And time travel. We can't forget the time travel.

There's a rumor that these movies are being remade. Lord help the people that attempt to touch these.

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for a signed copy of The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams ends tonight at midnight! Be sure to get your entries in by then.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 76

Title: Secret Vampire, Night World Series #1
Author: LJ Smith
Published: April 1996
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 228
The series takes place in a world similar to our own but one where vampires, witches, werewolves and shape-shifters live among humans without their knowledge. These supernatural races make up a secret society known as the Night World, which enforces two fundamental laws to prevent discovery: 1) Never allow humans to gain knowledge of the Night World's existence and, 2) Never fall in love with one of them.

In Secret Vampire, Poppy thought the summer would last forever. Then she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now Poppy's only hope for survival is James, her friend and secret love. A vampire in the Night World, James can make Poppy immortal. But first they both must risk everything to go against the laws of Night World. (from bn.com)
Meh. Sounds like a pretty overcooked plot. Today, anyway. God save LJ Smith. There was hardly any of this back in the mid 90s so it was new and fresh. How I wish I'd stumbled upon it then. Sadly I don't know how much I'd enjoy this one now. I guess it depends on how different it actually is.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Winner and Traitorous Contest!

First, the winner of my Prophecy of Days, The Gatekeeper's Grimoire Book 1 by Christy Raedeke is . . .

Emma Michaels!!!

Congratulations! I've already send you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Now normally I like to sync up book giveaways with their reviews but in this case, I just got the go ahead for it the other day, a few days after the review posted. So it's a little belated but better late than never, right? So here's the book you can win thanks to the awesome people at Carolrhoda Lab -

An enemy is hiding in Anna's barn - a Russian prisoner of war on the run from the Nazis.

Only Anna knows he's there. If she turns him in, he'll be shot.

But if she hides him, she'll be a traitor to Germany. And for that, she could be shot herself . . .
(book back blurb)

This is another title from Carolrhoda Lab that you definitely don't want to miss. They're batting two for two with me, man, seriously. Their books are full of win. First Draw the Dark and now Traitor.

You can read my full review of Traitor here to see if it's something you'd like to read. But I can tell you, if you like historical fiction, especially World War II historical fiction, you won't want to miss it.

So you want to win a copy? Just fill out the form below for your chance. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest will end on August 26th at midnight, EST.

Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder to everyone that my contest for Middleworld: The Jaguar Stones Book 1 by J&P Voelkel ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Wars ( 33)

The Luxe and Fever 1793 ended up in a dead heat last week. Looks like we'll have to call it a draw. This week, we're doing the time warp. FIGHT!

It all began with a great idea ... and the inspiring original story of the Baby-sitters Club is back! Kristy Thomas's brilliant business plan gets off to a great start with the help of Claudia Kishi (vice-president), Mary Anne Spier (secretary), and Stacey McGill (treasurer). (from bn.com)


Will Jessica steal Todd from Elizabeth?

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are identical twins at Sweet Valley High. They`re both popular, smart, and gorgeous, but that's where the similarity ends. Elizabeth is friendly, outgoing, and sincere — nothing like her snobbish and conniving twin. Jessica gets what she wants — at school, with friends, and especially with boys.

This time, Jessica has set her sights on Todd Wilkins, the handsome star of the basketball team — the one boy that Elizabeth really likes. Elizabeth doesn't want to lose him, but what Jessica wants, Jessica usually gets... even if it ends up hurting her sister.

Meet the Wakefield twins, their guys, and the rest of the gang at Sweet Valley High.... (from bn.com)
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