Happy Birthday Month, Blog!

My blogaversary is this Friday, May 4th (Otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Yes, I’m THAT nerdy). It’s been a really fun two years, and I have to admit that even though I haven’t been the most consistent blogger in the world, I’ve really enjoyed the side effect of blogging, namely, the accountability I have to make progress toward my goals (writing or otherwise).

I’ve enjoyed the blogging community, and have met a lot of lovely writers, readers, and delightful nerds (and in a few weeks, I will actually meet many of you in real life!) who have become some of my closest friends. Because I believe in sharing the love and “paying it forward,” I want to celebrate the month by hosting a little giveaway.

Usually, I would normally host a giveaway for a book or two, but since there are so. Many. Awesome. Books out this month, like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities or Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, I thought it would be better for you all to pick the book you want!

So, for my Blog Birthday, I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) e-giftcard! (Winner’s preference, of course!) All you have to do is be a subscriber/follower of this blog, and comment below, and you’ll be entered into the raffle!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Michele S!

 

Also, because I want you to know how much I appreciate you, any comment on any post this month, will count as extra entries!

So, tell me…Why do YOU blog? If you’re not a blogger, please feel free to share your goals for this year! If you’re a fellow writer, anything fun and shiny you’re working on?

The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa

I don’t think I can convey how much I love Julie Kagawa’s story-telling. I honestly don’t know what it is, but whenever I pick up one of her books, I get sucked right into the story.

She captivated me with her Iron Fey series, writing a world so lush and imaginative that the words disappeared, and for a time, I felt like I actually lived in a hybrid Alice In Wonderland meets Labyrinth landscape. Even when I didn’t agree with the decisions her characters made, I was lost in the fairy tales she wove.

The Immortal Rules is no exception.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mutated virus creates Rabids that threaten the survival of humans and vampires alike, the vampires step out of their shadowed existence, creating cities where humans are herded and kept like cattle. Humans are registered to each Master Vampire, trading blood for food rations and resources within the city walls. Those who are unregistered with the vampires live in the Fringe, eking out an existence by any means necessary.

One such Fringer is Allison Sekemoto, who dreams of the long ago world without vampires that she’s only read about in books; where humans fought against their oppressors and not merely kowtowed to them. Allie hates vampires, and sees them for the monsters they are, but when she is attacked by Rabids outside the protective city walls, her overdeveloped sense of survival clutches onto the only lifeline offered to her: become a vampire, and live to fight another day.

And fight, she does! This is definitely not one of those “being a vampire will make your life easier” tales. If Allie isn’t slicing through hordes of Rabids, she is battling with her own inner monster that pushes her to feed. (Sidenote to writers: I would recommend this book just for the pacing alone!)

I know that many people may be put off with the vampire theme in this book, but please believe me when I say that vampires (or any other literary theme) don’t have to be “played out” or over done. In fact, this book is a great example of twisting up what’s already out there. Yes I know YA is the “hot” thing to do now. Yes, I know that vampires and dystopian and  post-apocalyptic themes have been done. But I promise you that The Immortal Rules is much, much more than the sum total of all those labels.

Moreover, it’s a great example of the power of storytelling. This book simply has It: that je ne sais quoi that elevates it from its various labels to create a compelling story.

* * *

As you know, I believe that good books are meant to be shared, and the authors who wrote the books (and took the time and care to craft these wonderful worlds) should be appreciated and supported. So, I’m giving away a copy of this book.

The Immortal Rules releases Tuesday, April 24, 2012. I plan on ordering the book Wednesday, April 25. For your chance* at a copy, please fill out the fancy contact form below. I’ll have it up between now till 12AM, April 25, 2012, at which point, random.org will pick the lucky winner for me, and I will announce the winner that day.

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations, Susan S!

*I will be ordering through The Book Depository, so if they deliver to your country, feel free to enter! 🙂

So, have you read a book lately that transcended its genre? Or, have you read a book that didn’t live up to its hype? I’d LOVE to know about it!

Also, if you’ve read The Immortal Rules, please share your thoughts, too!

The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green

 Six-ish months ago, I went to a little John Green reading, where I first heard snippets of his yet-unpublished-new-book. Though Green read many clever lines that I loved and noted, I went to great lengths to scribble down this conversation in my notebook:

“Literally?” I asked.

“We are literally in the heart of Jesus,” he said. “I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus.”

“Someone should tell Jesus,” I said. “I mean, it’s gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart.”

“I would tell Him myself, but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won’t be able to hear me.”

(Sigh. I knew I would love this book. He had me at the mocking use of “literally.”)

Along with sharing the first chapter of his then-unpublished-and-yet-to-be-named book (my notes referred to it as “the story after Paper Towns“), Green also shared anecdotes that related to both his author-journey-so-far, and what he felt was his responsibility as a writer to produce stories that were both helpful and beautiful.

I didn’t understand all the implications of his talk until I read The Fault In Our Stars, that long ago unnamed book.

Green sought to add a story that was both beautiful and helpful into this world? I’d say he exceeded his expectations. (He certainly exceeded mine!) (Also, much of his author-journey-anecdote became clearer to me after reading this book, a lesson I’m taking to heart for my own journey.)

And, here I am, left in a sort of afterglow.

I always get a quiet hush whenever I read an amazing book. Being a part of a story’s world, being momentarily linked with the author of those words, deserves a sort of reverence. Like, we traveled on a pilgrimage together for a time, and shared a holy act of worship.

Or, maybe I’m just maudlin right now since the characters in The Fault In Our Stars loved and grieved the way I would (and have) loved and grieved, and that poignancy is still with me.

I can go on and on about The Fault In Our Stars, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression of this book with my muddy words. Instead, I’ll give you the opportunity to read this book for yourself, and we can revel in the beauty together. (If we haven’t met yet, “Hi! You totally need to read this book so we can be friends!”)

I will send a copy of The Fault In Our Stars via bn.com to one lovely reader of this blog.

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED–Congratulations, Christine Myers! Barnes and Noble is processing your order as I type this!]

This book simply needs to be read, and it would be my privilege to give a copy away. I think of it as adding beauty to someone else’s life.

By the way, if you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend reading it in the privacy of your own home. Unless, of course, you’re comfortable bawling your eyes out and wiping snot on your shirt sleeve* in public. Then, by all means, do what you want.

(*I plead the fifth that this was me in any way.)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Giveaway

Daughter of Smoke and BoneI captured my initial reaction to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Good Reads, which I copied below:

“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol who was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone this week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

In fact, I believe this book is SO WORTH THE READ, that I will give away a finished copy to one lucky reader! (Besides, it’s my 8th wedding anniversary, so, I’m feeling generous!)

That’s right: I WILL GIVE AWAY ONE COPY of Daughter of Smoke and Bone because this book is ridiculously awesome! *confetti*

[Giveaway Entries Now Closed.]

This giveaway ENDED on the book’s release date, Tuesday, September 27.

(Again, all you really need to do is enter your info into that form, and you’re good to go! All the sharing stuff is for additional entries, and is completely optional!)

(Also, if you’ve already submitted entries and comments on my initial post, no need to do so again! You’re good to go!) 😉

(Don’t you love all these parentheses? It’s like we’re having a real conversation!) 😀

Congratulations to Sophia Chang, winner of this giveaway! 😀

Share the Love (this time with a giveaway!)

Cover of "The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)&...

Cover of The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

I’ve read a lot of good books since my last Share the Love post. Let’s see, there’s…

  • The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa
  • Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr
  • The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve actually read more than these books, but I list these specifically to showcase the inordinate amount of fantasy that  I’ve been reading lately. I wonder if that was a conscious decision on my part or not. I know I picked up Eon and Eona specifically to inspire me about an aspect of WIP2. And, I also picked up Ender’s Game (which I know is science fiction, but has fantasy elements I enjoy) and Among the Hidden for that reason, too. I know that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, my muses are tinkering with a post-apocalyptic fantasy, and I wonder if they’re hungry for more fantasy?

Maybe it’s a combination of the available e-galleys and ARCs that came my way, coupled with my need to read meatier works? After all, the fantasy genre does lend itself to intricate world-building, and often uses sociopolitical power dynamics to add conflict and tension to the narrative.

For example, take, The Girl of Fire and Thorns (newly released September 20). The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)This book is full of political intrigue, magic, and adventure. Set in a world reminiscent of medieval Spain, the story centers around Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza (aka Elisa), Orovalle’s second-born princess. Though she is royal, her privileged status comes less from her royal lineage, and more from being a Godstone-bearer.

Once a century, God chooses a bearer during a baby’s naming ceremony by placing a Godstone (a living jewel) on the baby’s navel. The Bearer is destined to perform an Act of Service, and the mythos surrounding the Bearer sets in motion harrowing challenges that Elisa must overcome.

What appeals to me the most is the sheer amount of terrain that Elisa covers throughout the story. I loved the big-ness of this world. I loved experiencing the lush climates of Orovalle; the seaside of Joya d’Arena; and the desert mountains of the rebel stronghold. I loved the concept that all these various countries and people groups are on the precipice of war. But, what I love most? Carson weaves these settings and power plays brilliantly through the narrative, making the countries so unique they were almost characters in themselves. (Interested in reading the full review? You can read it HERE.)

Honestly, though, now that I think about it, this year’s obsession with fantasy probably started after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. My initial Good Reads reaction to it was…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

…and, since this book is holy-crap-amazing, I wonder if I just wanted to keep experiencing that awe, thus glutting myself on more fantasies. Hmm.

(BY THE WAY, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol, that she was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone next week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

 SO, have YOU read any good books lately??

 

Across the Universe: A Gift For Me, A Gift For You

A Gift for Me.

My birthday is next week.

For at least a decade, I have celebrated a birthday week  or month.  This year, I am very honored to share a Birthday Season with Kayla Olson (Happy Birthday Season!! *glitter shower*), AND with Beth Revis’s debut novel, Across the Universe.

“Nothing’s going to change my world…” Across the Universe, The Beatles

This past November, I had the privilege of reading the ARC of Across the Universe, thanks to Melissa and Kayla’s thoughtfulness.  I remember my delight when my mail-(wo)man hand-delivered the packaged ARC because she didn’t want to scrunch it in my mailbox.  I tore that priority mail envelope open, took a picture, had dinner with The Hubs, and then  proceeded to read that story that night (and into the next day).  I was behind about 5,000 words for NaNoWriMo at that point, but believe me, the lack of sleep, and adding an extra kamikaze do-or-die writing day for NaNoWriMo, was worth it.

(To see how The Want started, read this post by Melissa; The Want intensified after seeing this tribute by Kayla.  Also, see the aftermath of the time I totally made the universe give Melissa an ARC here.  I have actual magical powers.)

In a word, Across the Universe is luminous.  It is an absolute pleasure to read.  Everything about it appeals to me, from the beautiful (purple-y!) cover, to the Firefly influences, to the fact that it is set to launch 1.11.11.  All these things (and more) made this book the perfect 2011 birthday present to myself.

Since I can’t seem to post a non-spoiler review, I invite you to click here to read the summary of the book on Beth’s site. And, you can read chapter one here, and judge for yourself the buzz worthiness of this book.

Sidenote:

Admittedly, I have come across a lot of fabulous books throughout my reading career.  But, the tipping point for me in supporting this book is the author herself, Beth RevisShe is a fantastic author role model, and constantly engages with her readers through social networks.  Also, reading about her career transition from full-time teacher to full-time novelist earned her my undying loyalty, respect and admiration. Read about it here.

A Gift For You.

So, in honor of Happy Birthday Season (*confetti*), and because I love Across The Universe, and admire Beth so much, I will run my blog’s VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY.

The prize?  A copy of Across the Universe. (have you seen the reversible cover??)

Amy's or Elder's perspective...you decide!

Because this is my VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY and since it’s Happy Birthday Season, I am opening this GIVEAWAY to international readers, too. *waves to international readers* *I wish I were multilingual*

Rules (because they’re fun!):

To enter this GIVEAWAY for a chance to receive your very own copy of Across the Universe, simply subscribe to this blog using that “subscribe me” button to the right, AND leave me a comment below!  That’s it!  You will be entered into the drawing.  (Previously subscribed blog friends are of course eligible, too! Just leave me a comment below to let me know you want to be entered into the fun!)

I will begin counting entries TODAY Monday, January 10, 2011 12:00 AM EST until January 17, 2011 11:59 PM EST (My birthday, whatwhat!)

You MUST be subscribed to this blog and comment below to enter this contest.

(Please make sure your email address is correct.  If I don’t get a reply within 24 hours of contacting you, I will move on to the next winner.  I want to send out the book to the winner no later than Wednesday, January 19, 2011, so PLEASE ensure I can contact you!)

You can earn SIX ADDITIONAL entries* by:

1. Following me on Twitter

2. Following Beth Revis on Twitter

3. Tweeting about this contest

4. “Like”-ing Across the Universe on Facebook

5. Blogging about this contest (worth 2 entries)

Maximum entries: SEVEN

*This is on you honor.  Just leave a comment below for every entry you’ve earned.  (For example, if you “Like”-d Across the Universe on Facebook, followed Beth on Twitter, and blogged about this contest, you would leave four separate comments in addition to the one telling me that you are subscribed to this blog and want to be entered into the contest.  So, in this example, you would have earned five entries, so you would enter a total of five separate comments.)

** Previous Twitter followers and Facebook likers are also eligible for your extra entries!  Just leave me a comment per entry on this post!

The winner will be chosen via random.org (which is why you should ensure that each entry is in its own comment box.)

Gratitude

Thank you for celebrating Birthday Week with me (and Kayla and Across the Universe!).  It gives me great joy and happiness to be able to give what little I can back to the reading world that has nurtured me for so long.

And, depending on the level of participation I get here, I will do more giveaways like this in the future.

Tell Me: What upcoming releases are YOU looking forward to THIS year? (I may include it in future giveaways! :D)