Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Fated by Sarah Alderson

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!

Fated by Sarah Alderson

Release Date: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Preorder: Amazon

What happens when you discover you aren't who you thought you were? And that the person you love is the person who will betray you? If your fate is already determined, can you fight it?

When Evie Tremain discovers that she’s the last in a long line of Demon slayers and that she’s being hunted by an elite band of assassins –Shapeshifters, Vampires and Mixen demons amongst them – she knows she can’t run. They’ll find her wherever she goes. Instead she must learn to stand and fight.

But when the half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray - is sent to spy on Evie and then ordered to kill her before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy, their fates become inextricably linked. The war that has raged for one thousand years between humans and demons is about to reach a devastating and inevitable conclusion. Either one or both of them will die before this war ends.

If your life becomes bound to another's, what will it take to sever it?

This synopsis does everything right. First of all, I'm always fascinated by questions of fate. I love the promise that before this over either one or both of them will die -- is that actually going to happen? Is the author going to be able to find a way to make that not totally devastating/off-putting for readers (because, let's face it, we have expectations)? Also, anytime the word "slayer" comes up, I automatically think of Buffy, which equals "awesome". Slayers are always awesome. There are just so many intriguing questions asked in this summary! Ones I already have to know the answers to! And as an added bonus, there are several creatures I've never heard of mentioned, which means that the author is bringing something new to the table besides the same old vamps and weres. What's a Mixen? What's a Shadow? I am intrigued! Also, assassins and prophecies and supernatural wars, oh my!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tournament of Heroines: Team Mara Dyer

You've probably heard the buzz about the YA Sisterhood's Tournament of Heroines -- a month-long competition starting December 1st in which all of our favorite, fiercest heroines will be battling it out for the crown. Here's how the YA Sisterhood defines a heroine:

A heroine is a female character who is admired for her noble qualities. We think it's someone who meets the world head on. This doesn't mean she has to be a hardcore girl who can beat up anyone who crosses her path (though those girls certainly qualify). Your favorite can be anyone you admire, for any reason. The important thing is that she is extraordinary in some way or another-- be that the way she handles other people, her inexhaustible humor, or her skill with a crossbow. We encourage you to think outside the box! Search your bookshelves for the female characters who inspire you, who make you want to be better, who prove that our world doesn't have to be a man's world.

I don't know about you, but when I hear "extraordinary" and "outside the box," I think of Mara Dyer. She's fiercely loyal and always willing to take a stand. She has a strong sense of justice and more than a few vigilante tendencies. She's a survivor, not to mention smart, sassy and a little bit scary. So that's why I've taken on the role of being Mara's advocate in the tournament!

Our first challenger is Karou from The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, advocated by Enna of SqueakyBooks. Karou is great and all, but she's got nothing on our girl Mara! So be sure to come out and support Team Mara on December 16th! Word on the street (AKA on Michelle Hodkin's twitter feed) is that if Mara makes it into round 2, there will be more of THIS Noah-licious outtake PLUS an extra treat (an extra scene? the uncut too-hot-to-handle trailer? Bradley the trailer actor reading Noah passages from the book?)

Here are the tournament brackets:

Click to embiggen

You can follow all the action on Twitter:

Want to show your support for Team Mara? Grab a button and spread the love!

Twitter Background (check out my Twitter profile to see how it looks):

Blog Background:

Twitter avi/Facebook picture:

Buttons and Banners:

Because making these is so much fun, Michelle's graphic designer friend got in on the action and made these hilarious, fabulous buttons:

(Yep, that just happened.)

Help spread the word and votevotevote to make sure our girl takes the crown! Noah will owe you one ;)

Why do YOU think Mara Dyer is the best heroine of them all? Let me know in the comments! (No bashing, please.)

ETA: Mara's first match is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16! Not Thursday! Sorry for the confusion! Please alert people to the correct voting day -- thank you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMonday (5)

Word Count: 30027/50000
Day: 21/30
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Like many other bloggers, I am participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month for the first time. I thought it would be fun to touch base each week and see how everyone is progressing, as well as cheer each other on!

Well, here we are. The last Monday of NaNoWriMo. Where did the month go?! *deep sigh* I got rather behind over the holiday, but I am determined that I AM going to finish. I have a paper and exam to get through tomorrow, but once that's over, I'm devoting my Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday to finishing this thing. All the winner tweets on Twitter are making me go both "OMG YAY YOU ARE AWESOME!" and also "OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?" Is anyone else having that reaction? But it is fortunately the kick I need to keep me going. As my wonderful Noveling Club leader says, NaNoMiracles DO happen. It CAN be done! *waves pompoms* (I'm saying this as much for my benefit as for yours, dear reader.) And no matter what, 30K is more words than I have ever written on any of the projects I've started in the past, so I kind of already feel like a winner -- and so should you. *pats self on the back* *passes around cookies*

For this last NaNoWriMonday, I wanted to talk a little bit about the authors who inspire me. These are the people who made me want to try writing in the first place. Their beautiful words and worlds and insight made me go, "Hey! I want to do that!" These are the people who I think are the best at what they do, and whose writing I study to figure out what they're doing so very right.

(This might look a bit like my Top Ten Tuesday post last week...) In no particular order:

J.K. Rowling: I'm not going to say much about this, because it's pretty self-explanatory, right? Actually, I find J.K. Rowling more intimidating than inspiring. I literally cannot fathom the creative energy it took to write Harry Potter. She just wins. First place is taken, and now everyone else is competing for second.

Suzanne Collins: Even though I just finished Mockingjay and I'm kind of mad at her right now, The Hunger Games is still the most perfect book I've ever read. I didn't think it could be done, but congrats, Suzanne, you wrote the perfect book. I'm still trying to work out how she did it, to be honest. I think what I like best about THG, though, is Katniss. Katniss is the kind of heroine I want to read and write. Girls who can take care of themselves, who survive and fight and never give up. The one thing that I always come back to about the first book is how Collins put Katniss in this unfathomable situation, and made her do what she had to do, but never let her become a monster. She had to have exerted conscious effort to achieve that, and she did it flawlessly.

Franny Billingsley: Chime was beautiful. Even without the plot, the way Franny used words would have been enough to keep the reader interested. Ordinary writing seems stale by comparison. While I don't think I would want to write an entire book in that style (though I loved reading one), I do want to be more creative with my language. The onomatopoeia and the near-poetics of it makes the act of reading itself an adventure. Franny has flair, and that's all there is to it.

Maggie Stiefvater: Maggie has a way with characterization (not to mention words). She knows her characters and she makes you know them without ever spelling it out for you. It manifests in the way they speak and think and act, but the characters aren't even necessarily aware of it themselves. That's what I want to learn how to do. How to create a self-consistent character with personality and traits and hopes and wants and hates and flaws, and have these things show up naturally -- like they do in real life with real people -- without having to spell it out. I think that's the sort of thing that will only come with time and practice, though. Maggie has actually done some great posts on these things, which I will link to in a minute.

Laini Taylor: Daughter of Smoke and Bone was gorgeous in every sense of the word. Laini's writing is understated but magical, and her world-building is vibrant and rich and complex, but also unobtrusive. I was left just sitting there in awe when I finished Smoke and Bone. The kind of imagination that would take... I would love to write something so vast and epic. I don't know if I even could, but it's certainly something to aspire toward.

Julie Kagawa: Julie knows how to write an adventure. I love the structure of her novels -- with the journeys through the Nevernever, quests for something magical. Her world is incredible and imaginative, but it doesn't beat you over the head. Every stop Meghan makes, every interaction with a new creature, serves a purpose. I just love novels like The Iron Fey and The Hunger Games and Harry Potter where there's a clear narrative thrust, and there's nothing unnecessary to drag down the plot and the pacing. It's just so neat and clever and tight. Right now I feel like my NaNo is a sprawling mess of tangled roots and winding paths, but my ultimate goal is to have it be as streamlined as so many of my favorite reads.

What about you? Whose writing inspires you to learn and grow and be better?

Finally, here are the last tips of NaNoWriMo:

And for a bit of inspiration, Maggie also did a great post on Writing the Book I Always Meant To, featuring this tidbit:

Write the book you've always wanted to read, but can't find on the shelf.

I've heard this somewhere before, but I've never been quite sure what that book would be for me. Perhaps, as Laini Taylor suggested, I should make a list of the things I like. I know my NaNo features some of them -- things like fierce heroines and quests through fantasy worlds -- but I still have this lofty, hazy image of my ideal read in my mind that I have no idea how to nail down to reality. The knowledge that you can make whatever you want happen in your novel is sometimes surprising and overwhelming to me. There are so many things I would love to read -- the challenge is figuring out how to make a coherent narrative out of them.

Are you writing the book you've always wanted to read this month?

So, congratulations on making it this far, whether you're ahead or behind -- the important thing is that you're writing. If you're like me, NaNoWriMo has been the kick you needed to finally stop plotting and start writing -- and the first step is always the hardest, so pat yourself on the back for taking that scary plunge. This has been a ton of fun, and I think from here on out it's going to be so much easier to keep myself motivated.

As you strive toward that finish line, just remember:

Congratulations, everyone! *throws confetti*

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Release Roundup: November 27 - December 3, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.

November 29

The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson


An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

Legend by Marie Lu

Putnam Juvenile

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) by Jennifer Estep


Logan Quinn was try­ing to kill me. My Spar­tan class­mate relent­lessly pur­sued me, swing­ing his sword at me over and over again, the shin­ing sil­ver blade inch­ing closer to my throat every time. A smile tugged up his lips, and his ice-blue eyes prac­ti­cally glowed with the thrill of battle...

I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

December 1

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Sourcebooks Fire

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

There's been quite a bit of buzz for Legend! I'd intended to read it by now, but the end of this year has not gone as planned. (Also, OMG how is it December already?) I'll be reviewing it and giving away an ARC soon! I also need to catch up on the Mythos Academy series -- I love mythology, so it sounds like it's right up my alley.

What new release are you most excxited for this week?

In My Mailbox: November 21 - 27, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

For Review:

New Girl by Paige Harbison

Thanks to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley!

Coming January 31, 2012!

They call me 'New Girl'...

Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.

Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl
I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy.
And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.

Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.

And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

Thanks to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley!

Coming March 27, 2012!

Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.

Truth (XVI #2) by Julia Karr

Thanks to Julia Karr and Teen Book Scene!

Coming January 19, 2012!
An exciting dystopian thriller, and sequel to XVI

Nina Oberon's life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won't be anyone's stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out . . . and the consequences can be deadly.

I WoWed New Girl recently, and it is definitely one of my most anticipated reads of 2012, so I was really excited to see it on NetGalley! I'm also really intrigued by Life Is But a Dream after seeing it featured in A Tapestry of Words' Psychtember even! I can't wait to start Truth either -- I looooved XVI and Julia Karr is awesome =)

What's in your mailbox this week?

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Signed, Sealed, Delivered (4)

People have expressed an interest in turning this feature into a meme, so that's what I'm going to do! If you'd like to join in, pick an exciting book deal announcement (before there are covers or even proper synopses) and tell us about it in a post! Publisher's Weekly is a great place to see new book deals, but authors frequently announce them on their blogs and Twitter as well.

My pick this week is:

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
2012 | Simon & Schuster
Debut Author

Keeping up with the high-priced deals, Liesa Abrams, executive editor at Simon & Schuster, took North American rights to three books, in a six-figure pre-empt, by newcomer Shannon Messenger. Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary brokered the deal for the middle-grade fantasy series, and the first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, is scheduled for fall 2012. In Cities, a 12-year-old girl who can read minds, and is something of a social outcast, discovers the reason she has her abilities when she meets a mysterious boy. Rennert elaborated: “She’s never felt at home because she isn’t. There are secrets buried deep in her memory, secrets about her true identity and why she was hidden among humans, that others desperately want and would even kill for.” Messenger is in her 20s and is one of the founders of the free, online writer’s conference, WriteOnCon. (via Publisher's Weekly)

Twelve-year-old Sophie has always been different -- she's years ahead of the other kids in school and can read minds. She's always assumed there's some kind of logical explanation for her talents, but when she meets an adorable and mysterious boy, she finds out the shocking truth. She's never felt at home because she, well, ... isn't.

There are secrets buried deep in her memory, secrets about her true identity and why she was hidden among humans, that others desperately want and would even kill for. And she must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.

A mindreading alien with secrets even she doesn't know? Yes, please! This sounds like a fun SciFi adventure! There definitely needs to be more SciFi in the YA and MG genres, so I'm really excited to see where Shannon Messenger takes this series. Shannon is also a fellow blogger, which makes this doubly exciting! Congrats, Shannon!

If you'd like to participate, link up your post in the Mr. Linky below! Feel free to also grab the button at the top of this post. I'll be doing this every Thursday, so come back each week if you'd like to join in!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Masters of the Veil by Daniel Cohen

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!

Masters of the Veil by Daniel Cohen

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Life can't get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player. every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer.Sam is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who's the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot. As it becomes clear Sam's meant for power magic - the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery - people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown, but all humankind.

This sounds like a fun fantasy read -- sorcerers and sages and secret societies. I also love the part about "a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot." It sounds like there will be a bit of humor mixed in. It reminds me a little bit of The Wizard Heir, but I'm curious to check it out -- especially this mysterious Veil. Veils are generally bad news -- just look at what happened to Sirius.

What future release are you most excited for this week?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I'd Love to Host at my Thanksgiving Feast

This awesome button was made by Lindsi at BSAOT.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I'm going to think of this as "authors for whom I'm thankful," in no particular order.

1. Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games is my all-time favorite series, and I think her genius is unparalleled. She's given YA readers everywhere a strong, vibrant, resilient heroine to admire -- and that's something we could use a lot more of.

2. Laini Taylor: Her world-building and storytelling are spectacular. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is also one of my favorite reads, featuring another fabulous heroine. There's something magical about Laini's writing, and our world can always use a little more magic.

3. J.K. Rowling: Speaking of magic, right? I think she holds the credit for getting me into the fantasy genre, and giving my reading a voracious drive. I was always a reader, but it was sort of aimless and listless, until J.K. Rowling introduced me to a whole new world with her magical series.

4. Stephenie Meyer: Don't roll your eyes. It's been a couple years now since I've read Twilight, and I have no idea how I would feel about it now, but Stephenie Meyer holds all the credit for getting me into the YA genre -- which, as you can see, is where I live now. She also taught me a lot about the kind of characters who can get inside your head and make you love them and hate them and debate them and want to know more about them even after you've turned the final page.

5. Maggie Stiefvater: Both the Shiver series and The Scorpio Races are gorgeous feats of lyricism and storytelling. She's another writer who can make you believe her characters are living, breathing human beings -- and that's something that invests you in a story like nothing else can. Her beautiful, lyrical prose has inspired me to be a better writer.

6. Franny Billingsley: Speaking of incredible writing, Franny Billingsley is the master of wordsmithing. Her style is unlike anything I've ever read before, and that's a pretty rare feat. It's truly inspiring to see someone command her language like that, and it encourages readers and writers to think outside the box.

7. Kody Keplinger: Kody is young and talented and fearless. She uses not only her books but her blog to take a stand on the issues that plague our community and society as whole. I really admire her honesty and class and bravery, and most of all her willingness to intelligently tackle issues that scare off even the most indomitable veteran.

8. Sarah Dessen: Each of her books holds something for someone. It doesn't matter if the topic seems so far from my life that I need a telescope to see it properly, somewhere within its pages will be words of wisdom I needed to hear -- whether I knew it or not. She's also the sweetest, most down-to-earth superstar you will ever meet. I met her at BEA and she seemed just like the girl-next-door, which probably inspires that relatability in all of her heroines.

9. Julie Kagawa: Julie is awesome, basically. She's fierce and fearless (rumor has it she wields a mean nunchuck), and writes fabulous novels. I was a huge fangirl when I first started blogging (still am, obviously) and I asked if she might do an interview -- never expecting even an acknowledgement of my existence -- when, much to my surprise, she said sure (this was me: O_O). That was my first realization of what an amazing community the YA blogosphere is. YA authors are accessible like no other, and are always willing to make their biggest fan's day. She also introduced me to the fey, which are now my favorite supernatural creatures -- and about which I'm writing my NaNoWriMo novel!

10. Michelle Hodkin: Obviously. You wanna talk about accessible authors? Michelle is the best. She tries to respond to every tweet and email and tumblr question even when the task is daunting, if not impossible. I have no idea how this happened, but I was fangirling out over Mara Dyer before it even had a cover and now we talk on a pretty regular basis. No Thanksgiving author fest would be complete without her.

What authors would be at your Thanksgiving author fest? What about them makes you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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