Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Monster Read-a-Thon Starting Line + Updates

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I’m participating in The Book Monsters Read-a-Thon (and later on Review-a-Thon!)
I have a big TBR pile of FTF books to get through that I didn’t finish during the Fairy Tale Read-a-Thon, as well as some blog tour books. I’m not quite sure how much I’ll be able to get through because I have a busy Spring Break, but I’m hoping to finish a minimum of four books, since I’m already a good way through most of them.
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The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (audiobook) (30% done)
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (50% done)
Stung by Bethany Wiggins (70% done)
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
DAY ONE (3/29)

I’m starting a day late, but I was able to get about 20% of A Long, Long Sleep read, and I started listening to A Kiss in Time. It’s a Sleeping Beauty party right now!

DAY TWO (3/30)

No reading ):

DAY THREE (3/31)

No reading ):

DAY FOUR (4/1)

No reading ):

DAY FIVE (4/2)

I finished my audiobook A Kiss in Time in the morning and then had a crazy day. After the Twitter chat in the evening I got some serious reading done! I finished A Long, Long Sleep and on a whim read Home Sweet Horror, a super short MG review book which I finished in less than 15 minutes. Then I read 100 pages of The Sweetest Spell.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 3

DAY SIX (4/3)
  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read:0
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 0
  • Total time read: 0
  • How I'm currently feeling:
DAY SEVEN (4/4)
  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read:0
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 0
  • Total time read: 0
  • How I'm currently feeling:
DAY EIGHT (4/5)
  • Total Books Read: 0
  • Total Pages Read:0
  • Books Read Since Last Update: 0
  • Pages Read since last update: 0
  • Total time read: 0
  • How I'm currently feeling:
Are you read-a-thoning? What are you reading this week?

Stacking the Shelves (5)

    StS

    Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

    Received This Week

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    Purchased
    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
    All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

    Library
    A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (eBook)
    A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (audiobook)

    Freebie for Kindle
    The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

    eBooks for Review
    The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (from NetGalley)
    Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (for Blog Tour)


    Blogged This Week

    • I took a brief hiatus to set my life straight before the insanity of Bloggiesta

    • I wished for Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce, a retelling of The Snow Queen

    • For Bloggiesta, I listed my goals, hosted a challenge on fixing your sidebars, and crossed the finish line, somewhat successful

    • The next thing I knew it was Fairy Tale Fortnight!

    • I reviewed the disturbing Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

    • I wished for Strands companion, The Mirk and Midnight Hour, based on the ‘Ballad of Tam Lin”

    • I reviewed the very original Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

    • I also posted a mini-review of the ‘Kill Me Softly’ short story, After the Ball


      Read This Week

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      Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
      Cloaked by Alex Flinn

      To Read

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      The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors
      A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (audiobook) (30% done)
      A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (50% done)
      Stung by Bethany Wiggins (70% done)
      Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

      How was your week? Leave links in the comments below!

      Friday, March 29, 2013

      Fairy Tale Friday: Bluebeard

      Fairy Tale Friday is finally back (even though it’s a day late)!

      Today we’re covering a fairy tale that isn’t very well known, but it’s been buzzing quite a bit lately, with a new retelling coming out this month. If you haven’t already guessed, I’ll give you some hints: It originated from France, I reviewed every single retelling of it that I know of this week (exactly one (and a half)), and the name is in the post title. If you guessed Bluebeard, then you’re right! (If not, you need to get your eyesight checked)

      What’s the story?

      Check out SurLaLune Fairytales for a very thorough annotated version of the original. Or…

      Check out The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl for a hilarious annotated version of Bluebeard!

      Or you can read my summary:

      220px-BarbebleueBasically there’s this creep known as Bluebeard who marries a random girl off the street, but shortly after the marriage he has to go away on a “business trip”. He leaves her with a set of all the keys in the house, telling her she’s free to open whichever doors she chooses, except for a random closet. So what does she do? Well, she starts out by being obedient, leaving the closet alone. She invites her friends over for a party, and they go crazy running around the mansion. Soon she’s sick of her selfish friends and decides to ditch her guests and take a peek in the Forbidden Closet, and too late does she discover that it was the dumbest decision of her life (besides, you know, marrying the creep in the first place!)

      There she finds the corpses of young women hanging on the wall like they were coats or something. In shock, she drops her key in the pool of blood on the floor, and what do you know? Bluebeard returns! And when he gets the keys back, he sees the blood on the key and threatens to kill her, but she convinces him to give her a moment to say her prayers, AKA scream out the window for her brothers (who conveniently were passing by), who stop by just in time to kill Bluebeard. The girl (whose name is Anne) is left with a big, fancy house full of expensive stuff, and wisely uses that money to marry a man who was sane enough not to keep his dead wives in his closet (or not have any dead wives in the first place). Happily Ever After!

      What’s up with Bluebeard?

      I genuinely want to know what’s going on with Bluebeard. He obviously has some issues. He’s essentially forcing the girl to marry him, and then when he gets upset he pulls a Queen of Hearts

      Not the best relationship if you ask me. Maybe it’s time for some couples counseling. Of course there’s also the issue of a closet full of dead wives. Seems like he had quite the temper. I still don’t understand why he’d even give her the keys in the first place, since it’s obvious that she’d open the closet door. If he had any intent of being married for more than a week, he probably should’ve taken a better approach.

      And what’s going on with Anne?

      Anne is not my favorite fairy tale heroine, but I must admit she’s better than some. She’s forced into a marriage with a terrifying older man whose blue beard is full of secrets. Already she’s not off to a good start, but she seems sensible. But once she’s left alone with a key to The Forbidden Closet, she throws a party with her friends! If I were her, I’d run to the closet the moment he left, and flee the country once I saw what was inside. But she throws a party and tries to forget about that stupid closet. Even if the closet wasn’t an issue, that kind of husband isn’t one I want to be associated with, and I’d still run! But I guess she’s trying to have an open heart and give him a try, but if that was truly her intent, you’d think she’d be able to control herself and leave the closet alone, right? At least she’s clever enough in the end, buying some time to call to her brothers, though. And then after Bluebeard is long gone, she puts his money to good use and buys herself a nice husband. So, props to her for using some sense!

      What’s the Moral of the Story?

      These types of tales tend the have quite a few lessons in them. Hopefully I don’t have to spell this out for you, but just to be safe:

      Beware of old men with strangely colored facial hair!

      Recommendations

      13721341Retellings of Bluebeard are rather sparse, but I highly recommend that everyone check out the recent release Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson!

      ***Spoiler Alert***

      [ If you want another book with quite a few Bluebeard elements, Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross has quite a few elements of Bluebeard in it. This is only marked as a ‘spoiler’ because this revelation doesn’t come until the end of the book, though it’s plain from early on that a main character is in the role of Bluebeard (the blue hair is a dead give away) ]

      What do you think about Bluebeard? Crazy, or just misunderstood?

      {Fairy Tale Fortnight} Mini-Review: After the Ball by Sarah Cross

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      Release Date: April 10th 2012
      Genre: YA Contemporary Fairy Tale Retelling
      Source: Free Online Short Story

      "After the Ball" is a short story set in Beau Rivage, a city where fairy tales come to life, and ancient stories are played out again and again. You can read more about the cursed fairy-tale characters of Beau Rivage in my novel Kill Me Softly.

      I think I genuinely enjoyed this one more than Kill Me Softly. This is most likely due to the fact that the irritating Mira is gone and has been replaced with the awesome Dusty, the Cinderella of our story.

      It was an interesting reimagining of the classic Cinderella; the one with ashy lentils, magical trees, and severed foot appendages. I don’t think I’ve run into a retelling that managed to keep the dark, grittiness of the original Cinderella.

      I think it would be great if Sarah Cross decided to write a series of short stories set in Beau Rivage, as there are so many characters with stories yet to be told!

      {Fairy Tale Fortnight} Book Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

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      Publisher: EgmontUSA
      Release Date: April 10th 2012
      Genre: YA Contemporary Fairy Tale Retelling
      Source: eBook via Library
      Challenge(s): Fairy Tales Retold

      Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

      In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

      But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own... brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns.

      For the longest time I was afraid to read this book. When I initially found out about it, it was through raving reviews. It sounded unique and exciting, so I added it to my Goodreads TBR. But then all of a sudden so many of my favorite, most trusted bloggers were giving it 1 or 2 star reviews, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was scared that I’d either hate it and feel like I wasted my time reading it, or worse love it and be the oddball out for loving what others thought was a piece of junk. I ended up falling into neither category, and making a new one for myself, an inbetweener.

      Kill Me Softly had so much potential. Everything about it sounds to-die-for amazing! A girl discovering her fairy tale destiny in a world of teenagers living out the lives of fairy tale character? Yes! I will say that that aspect more than lived up to my expectations. Both the well known and lesser known tales were featured throughout the book. Stories like Snow White and Cinderella were there, in their full-blown Grimm glory (with a lot more blood than Disney ever spilled), as well as more obscure ones like Toads and Diamonds and The Red Shoes. This mix of fairy tales was fun, and my favorite part was probably picking out all the different elements.

      I liked the minor characters for the most part, though they were drunk for the majority of the time. Seeing these classic characters reincarnated into modern teens was interesting. They were fresh and new, but still had their fairy tale essence intact.  

      The biggest reason I just couldn’t fall in love with this book was Mira. From other reviews I’d read, and from my initial impression of her after the first few pages, I knew I’d have a difficult relationship with her. Even though she was gifted with both kindness and intelligence, she was pretty rude and selfish and not very logical most of the time. And when it’s revealed that everybody is a fairy tale character including her, she doesn’t freak out. It makes perfect sense in her head. She doesn’t question anything at all. If I were her, I’d probably pass out from disbelief and ask a zillion questions!

      And there’s kind of a weird love triangle (square) thing going on. Mira, who’s 15; Blue, who’s 18ish (I don’t remember); Felix, Blue’s 21 year old brother; and Freddie, Mira’s “Prince Charming”. Already you can see how who wrong this sounds. Well, what if I told you that less that 24 hours after running away from home Mira (using her excellent judgment) sleeps with Felix (JUST sleep, but still). And neither of them sees any problem with the 6-year age gap, or the less-than-24-hours issue. In fact, they keep getting close to going a step further. In the mean time Blue, who can be a jerk but is nice deep down, is “just a friend” who Mira hangs out with during the day. He’s honest about his feelings with her, and she has feelings back, but she’d rather be with his sexy older brother. And then there’s Freddie, Blue’s friend who’s a super nice guy and is destined to be Mira’s Prince Charming and savior. But Mira doesn’t want to be with Freddie simply because that’s what she’s supposed to do. I can understand wanting to make your own choice, but she’s just plain awful to him!

      Okay, that was a long mini-rant.

      I enjoyed the mysterious aspects of the story. You were never quite sure exactly what was going on and who was who; never sure when Mira’s curse would begin. And the biggest mystery of all was who exactly Felix was. Some might’ve guessed it early on, but it took until the end for it to finally hit me, at which point it was so obvious I was almost embarrassed.

      I really liked the writing and actual plot, aside from the fact that we were in Mira’s head for most of the story and have to deal with her…strange thought processes. The writing set the mood for the story. It was fast-paced and did a great job of keeping me interested in a book I might have otherwise set aside. In the end I enjoyed the book a lot, despite some big issues I had with it, and I definitely recommend that you at least give it a chance to wrap you up in it’s spell!

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      sortamessy

      Moderate Language, Sexual Content, and alcohol use by minors

      [Multiple uses of S***, D***, G**, and more. Mira shares a bed with someone much older than her and wants to go further; she buys lingerie the next day; She kisses (or is kissed) by multiple boys, and most times the powers of the boys kissing her drains her physically, making her pass out (and in one case, nearly die). Near the end Mira is forcibly kissed (the intention being to kill her).

      There are several parties over the course of the book, each one including excessive use of alcohol by nearly all teens. It’s also heavily suggested that certain characters are have sex with each other, though nothing ever gets explicit.]

      Tuesday, March 26, 2013

      Wishing on Wednesday (22) The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson

      wishing

      Wishing on Wednesday is a weekly meme to feature recent and upcoming releases that I’m wishing for!


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      Jane Nickerson's second novel, also set in the "Strands" world, is based on the Scottish 'Ballad of Tam Lin,' and is set in Mississippi during the Civil War. Violet Dancey, a 17-year-old whose father has left to fight in the Civil War, is forced to confront Thomas, a hurt Union solider near her home. She must decide how to approach the enemy--and how to deal with her growing attraction to him.

      Why I Want It:

      Strands of Bronze and Gold was kind of amazing, and so of course I’m going to read it’s companion novel! It’s apparently based on “The Ballad of Tam Lin”, a story I’m not familiar with—sounds like another Fairy Tale Friday waiting to happen!

      Coming to a bookstore near you… Spring 2014 from Random House

      What are you Wishing for this Wednesday?

      {Fairy Tale Fortnight} Book Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

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      Publisher: Random House
      Release Date: March 12th, 2013
      Genre: Historical Fairy Tale Retelling
      Source: eARC via NetGalley
      Challenge(s): Debut Author, Fairy Tales, NetGalley

      The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

      When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

      Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

      Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

      Strands of Bronze and Gold was a complex, beautiful, disturbing book that excelled in every way. Jane Nickerson was able to reimagine a classic tale that sent many of us to bed with nightmares, and set it in the surprising world of pre-civil war Mississippi. This combination seems beyond strange at first, but soon it’s clear just how perfect it really is.

      The writing was so rich and vivid. I could feel the sweat dripping down my face as I read about the sweltering hot summer. I felt Sophia’s initial attraction to Bernard, despite knowing what would be coming next, and later on her unease. In many ways I was inside Sophia’s head. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a surreal experience while reading a book.

      Bernard was a terrifying character. When the reader is first introduced to him, you can tell there’s a little something off about him, but you’re not quite sure what. And while the reader is trying to figure out what the heck is up with him, he’s using his impressive acting skills to enchant Sophia, who’s slowly falling for him. But once she falls, she realizes she’s stuck in a deep, dark hole. After Bernard has ensured that she won’t leave, his true colors begin to show, and Sophia finds herself in the middle of shocking abusive relationship.

      Even through all that comes from living with Bernard, Sophia remained strong. She starts off somewhat shallow and innocent, but she quickly begins to mature and quietly begin to develop some independence. There were some points where Bernard was pushing her far out of her comfort-zone, but she still managed to keep her voice, when others would’ve gone silent.

      The book started off rather slowly, which I know can turn some readers off, but I enjoyed the slow but steady pace which provided the reader a chance to get to know the characters before the pace picks up and strands of mystery begin unraveling (I just had to do it). My only complaint is that I was able to predict the majority of what happened because of being familiar with Bluebeard beforehand, but that’s my problem. It was an extremely faithful retelling, but luckily Jane still had a few tricks up her sleeve.

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      sortamessy

      Moderate sexual content and mature themes

      [Bernard is very fond of Sophia in that way. There’s kissing, mild touching, and very close to the end he practically rapes Sophia. Beyond that, he’s a brainwashing and controlling jerk who indoctrinates Sophia with lies and falsehoods, especially revolving around what a healthy relationship is. She’s able to discern some of it, but it still takes a toll on her emotional and mental health.]

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