Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Feyland The Bright Court


Jennet Carter escaped the dark faeries of Feyland once. Now, fey magic is seeping out of the prototype game, beguiling the unwary and threatening everyone she cares about.


Tam Linn may be a hero in-game, but his real life is severely complicated. Still, he'll do whatever it takes to stop the creatures of Feyland, even if it means pushing Jennet toward the new guy in school--the one with an inside connection to sim-gaming... and the uncanny ability to charm everyone he meets.


Despite the danger, Jennet and Tam must return to Feyland to face the magic of the Bright Court--and a powerful new enemy who won't stop until the human world is at the mercy of the Realm of Faerie.

Feyland: The Bright Court by Anthea Sharp picks up right where The Dark Realm left off. Tam is finally going back to school, but both he and Jennet are still dealing with what happened with the Dark Queen. Enter Roy Lassiter. A new guy at school who has a mysterious pull that leaves all the girls swooning over him. Well, all except Jennet.

Tam and Jennet know something's up. And after discovering that Roy's mom is one of the developers for Feyland, they're sure he's been in the faery realm. Tam and Jennet are forced to go back in game to stop Roy and save the girls at their school from his nefarious plans. But this time, the final boss isn't the Dark Queen. It's the Bright King.

This story was just as fun and interesting as the first. I love Anthea's use of folklore. This novel was inspired in part by the fairy tale Childe Rowland. If you want to check out that tale, I suggest checking SurLaLune. And her blending of gaming and faeries makes this trilogy very unique.

If you haven't read The Dark Realm, you can by it for your Kindle for less than a dollar. But I suggest buying The Bright Court with it because if you love faery stories, you'll love these. The final book in this trilogy, The Twilight Kingdom will be available next month. I'm excited!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meeting Authors: Once Upon a Slightly Different Time

Every year I got to the Baltimore Book Festival on Friday. The festival lasts all weekend, but Friday night at the Children’s Book Store stage is the greatest panel of the festival. Every. Time. This year: “Five authors and editor Ellen Datlow offer their thoughts on the recreation and retelling of fairy tales for a modern audience. Panelists include: Adam Gidwitz, Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, Sarah Beth Durst, Ellen Datlow, and Michael Buckley.”

Oh. My. Goddess! I practically jumped out of my seat and shouted in delight when I read this. It’s like they planned this panel just for me.

And because it was requested, here’s some of what was discussed. If it’s in quotes, it’s a direct quote. If it’s not, I’m paraphrasing what they said. Authors, if you see this, and I got something wrong, sorry. I was taking notes as best as I could.

Moderator: What was your introduction to fairy tales?

Ellen Datlow: I don’t remember which story, but Oscar Wilde.

Sarah Beth Durst: I don’t remember. Fairy tales were introduced very early, so I don’t remember a time before they were around me.

Shannon Hale: I had a large two-volume set of fairy tales that was beautifully illustrated. One of them was “The Goose Girl.”

Jessica Day George: I remember watching Jim Henson’s Storyteller. At 16 I found PJ Lynch’s version of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.”

Adam Gidwitz: I had a book of Grimm's tales all my life, but I only opened it five years ago. I agreed to be substitute librarian and thought hey, fairy tales are for kids.

Michael Buckley: I grew up with Disney. And I started real tales midway through the first draft of the first Sisters Grimm. The first fairy tale I read was Pinocchio.

Moderator: How did you come to start to writing fairy tales?

Ellen Datlow: Terri and I edited Best Fantasy and Horror. It was suggested to us to edit a fairy tale anthology. Snow White, Blood Red became the first of several, and it’s still one of the most popular.

Sarah Beth Durst: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild was wish fulfillment. I always wanted something magical to happen, so I made fairy tale characters invade my hometown. With Ice it was the same PJ Lynch version of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that Jessica read. I wanted a fairy tale where the girl wasn't asleep or dead for most, and I wanted to save her beast

Shannon Hale: I didn’t pick my favorite. I picked the fairy tale that bugged me the most. “Rapunzel is dumbest.” A guy climbs up her hair and agrees to braid her a ladder out of silk. Why don’t they just chop off her hair and use that. And she mysteriously becomes pregnant. “It’s useless.” My husband loves super hero comics so Rapunzel’s Revenge was born. But don’t worry… there are no mysterious pregnancies here.

Jessica Day George: I fixed the “Twelve Dancing Princesses. I have an edition in German and so does my husband. There were some inconsistencies so I wrote in details from both. Mette Ivie Harrison said she wrote Mira Mirror because she thought Snow White was useless.

Michael Buckley: I wanted to know what would happen if many characters from different fairy tales were stuck in one place and couldn’t die. I pitched a show idea about celebrities who faded from the spotlight because they were recruited to join a secret organization. I changed it into Grimm characters for this series.

Question for Michael: Did you plan out the entire series?

Michael Buckley: I knew ending and most major moments. I knew Sabrina's direction. But there were a lot of surprises.

Do you intend to keep working with faery tales?

Ellen Datlow: Terri and I want to do a new anthology at some point.

Michael Buckley: Sister’s Grimm is done. (lots of sad faces here) I’m working on young adult books with a mermaid. It’s like District 9 meets The Little Mermaid. And I have an idea for a middle grade Steampunk.

Adam Gidwitz: I have another Grimm book planned, and then I want something new. I’ve been reading up on medieval saints lives.

Jessica Day George: I have nothing planned but that doesn't mean I won't in future.

Sarah Beth Durst: I move around in fantasy genre, but I have nothing with faery tales planned. Though they often come into play.

Shannon Hale: The thing I’m working on now I not a retelling. But it’s influenced by Cinderella.

What stories would you like to fix or see fixed?

Michael Buckley: Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey

Ellen Datlow: The Goose Girl. Without giving away spoilers, the part with the beheading.

Michael Buckley: The Wizard of Oz

Adam Gidwitz: I accidentally fixed “Brother and Sister.”

Ellen Datlow: Rumplestiltskin

Michael Buckley: Hansel and Gretel. The witch has a point. They could've used stones instead of food to mark their path. Then they wouldn't have to eat the house.

Do any of you watch Once Upon a Time?

Michael Buckley: No but my lawyer does. Every week.

Jessica Day George: I love it. I never miss it. However, the best Hansel and Gretel is The Simpsons.

What do you think about staying within the lines of archetype and tradition?

Sarah Beth Durst: I don’t stay within the lines, but I’m aware of them. The reason for that is because readers often know the story.

Ellen Datlow: I don't follow to closely. It’s boring.

Shannon Hale: The importance is to change the story. These stories come from an oral tradition. Transform it into something new.

Moderator: Andrew Lang takes out a lot of specifics so you can really see how similar they are.

Adam Gidwitz: Most names used were common. Archetypes help retain an elastic emotional state.

Did you study faery tales?

Jessica Day George: I read a lot and took classes.

Sarah Beth Durst: I read a lot, too, and did lots of research.

How did you come up with the personalities for the Sisters Grimm?

Michael Buckley: I had a girlfriend who was like Daphne in personality and who had a relationship with her sister like Sabrina. My grandma was named Relda. Puck is like my brother.

How do you afford to be an author?

Shannon Hale: “I’m a kept woman.”

Michael Buckley: “I’m a kept man.”

Adam Gidwitz: “I keep Michael.”

Michael Buckley: Touring. Putting out two books a year. Having a good publisher.

Adam Gidwitz: Getting out and meeting readers. I’m like a traveling salesman.

Michael Buckley: I wanted to be a writer so I wouldn't need to be a salesman. Indie stores are best for selling.

Adam Gidwitz: Teachers and librarians.

Considering how gruesome faery tales are, what do you consider a kids story?

Adam Gidwitz: It’s the technicality. The way it's told. As faery tales move into YA, they become more brutal.

Emma (moderator): Kids love justice. The bad guy gets his.

Michael Buckley: A good book for your child is what's good for them. It depends on who they are.

Shannon Hale: Very young readers can't escape visual brutality in a movie. And they can't visualize a lot of gruesome faery tale stories because they haven't been in that kind of situation. It's beyond what they can imagine.

Adam Gidwitz: Kids know what they're ready for. And it’s easier to put a book down. Movies rush at you.

Emma: Kids get what they can get and everything else goes over their head.

Ellen: It’s great to read to kids to help them understand.

Shannon Hale: I’m a fan of talents that can't be tested for show off.

What do you do when writers block?

Michael Buckley: I never get it. I’m full of ideas. If you do, it might be because you don’t know enough about what you're writing about.

Jessica Day George: If it’s not working I take a few days off and read familiar book.

Sarah Beth Durst: I shut my brain off. Music. Chocolate. And then I write more.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Michael Buckley: Four months for a draft. Four months revising.

Sarah Beth Durst: Six months. Two years originally, but then I learned more about the writing process. I need to outline.

Shannon Hale: A year to four years

Jessica Day George: Six weeks for the last one.

Adam Gidwitz: A year to two years

Do you commission stories for anthologies?

Ellen Datlow: We assign a story. We have to herd them as time goes on. Keep on them. Always get 1/3 more authors than you need. You can only read a story the first time once, so I try not to read any while they’re being written.


This was introduced to me at another panel, but I wanted to share it with you. If you like faery tales, check out Sur La Lune.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Giveaway: Zom-B (winner announced)

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Irish.

B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn't work, B doesn't hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.

That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

1. You must be 13 or older.
2. You must follow my blog.
3. You must have a US address I can ship it to.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're the winner, please email me your US mailing address. If I don't receive an email by Sunday November 4 11:59pm, I'll choose a new winner.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: The Goose Girl

"She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, 
and she did not open her eyes for three days."

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was added to my list of books I need to read this year because it's simply been on my shelf far too long. Why it's sat there for so long, I have no idea. Because it was amazing. Beautifully written. Just... breath-taking. It's a rare novel that I love so much that I don't want to put it down, and I want to read it slowly so as to savor every word. The Goose Girl was one of those books.

"The Goose Girl" is a fairy tale written by the brothers Grimm. If you want, you can read it here. It tells the story of a young woman, a princess, who is to move to another kingdom and wed the prince. She has the ability to speak to her faithful, loving horse, Falada. Falada was to take the princess to this new kingdom, along with her chambermaid. But the chambermaid was jealous, and during the journey, forced the princess to switch places. Upon arriving at the neighboring kingdom, it was the chambermaid who was introduced as the prince's betrothed. The true princess was given a job... to work with the king's geese. She became the goose girl, working alongside the goose boy. There is much more to the story, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

Shannon Hale's version follows the Grimm version closely, but adds so much. It reads like a fairy tale. (As it should.) And while it is not fast-paced or filled with action scenes, it is simply amazing. Ani is a strong protagonist, and the friends she meets along the way are invaluable. I enjoyed the relationships Ani had with the other characters.

The goose boy, Conrad, was one of my favorites. As was Enna. So it's said with no surprise that I'm especially excited for book two in the Bayern series, Enna Burning. I'm curious to see how the kingdom of Bayern will have changed from The Goose Girl to Enna Burning, and I'm hoping old characters will show up. The Goose Girl has officially been added to my list of favorite books ever!

And because I love the cover so much, here is the Spanish edition. I want it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review: The DUFF

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I was really excited to read The Duff by Kody Keplinger. It's one of those books that I read a line or two of the premise and that's all I needed before I put it on my "to read" list. But it sat on my shelf for a while. I put it on my list of books that needed to be read in 2012.

Bianca is your typical cynical teenager. She lives at home with her dad while her mom tours. She's pretty much M.I.A. for much of Bianca's teen years. B has two best friends who are skinny and gorgeous, and B accompanies them to parties, much to her chagrin. Wesley, a boy from her school known for hooking up with a different girl every week, begins harassing her. More or less. He calls her "the duff". Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend. Wesley continues to call her Duffy and get under her skin at every moment.

I'm sad to report that I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped. And I think if I'd read the synopsis, I wouldn't have been so disappointed. I wasn't expecting the "friends with benefits" thing to happen. And I pretty much despised Wesley throughout the entire book. He kept calling her Duffy, not realizing it hurt her, and that ticked me off. You call a girl fat and ugly as a nickname, why wouldn't she be insulted. B's cynical attitude was fun at first. She reminded me a lot of myself, actually, until it started to feel forced. When life starts going good, the cynicism needs to be taken down a notch, and I felt she was more bratty than anything by the end.

The book held my attention, and I didn't want to put it down. I laughed. I cried. And I did enjoy it. But as I stated above, I had some definite issues with it. I'm excited to read more by Kody Keplinger soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Kiss of Death (and winner announced)

Too many years of killer vamps have triggered the curse of the Blood Kissed. They’ve awakened the bloodline that can alter their world, because her blood has the power to control them all—even make them destroy each other.

Jocelyn thought her troubles with vampires were over when she drove a stake through her boyfriend Max’s heart two years ago. Even though she’s engaged to Chad, she’s never really forgotten him. Now Max is back, and Chad is taking her into the heart of the vamp community—and they’re the ones trying to keep her alive. The ones who love her and each seek to claim her for their own. Because once the elders know who she is, they’re all going to want her…or want her dead.

I was so excited when Seleste deLaney announced that there was going to be a full length novel in her Blood Kissed series. I really enjoyed "Of Course I Try" and "The Ghost of Vampire Present" so I was thrilled that we'd get more.

Jocelyn thinks that Max is dead. Because she killed him. He was a vampire after all. And she's engaged to Chad. The thing is... he's a vampire as well. So when Max comes back and she finds out what Chad is, she finds herself mixed up with two bloodsuckers who band together to protect her. She's one of the blood kissed, and she's extra tasty to the vamps. And not only is she stuck with both of them, she's attracted to them both.

At the beginning I was Team Max, and by the end... I'm still Team Max. But seeing Max and Chad interact together and with Jocelyn and other vampires was fun. The world Seleste created was interesting. Her vampires aren't quite the same as those we see all over. To find a unique vampire book these days is rare. I highly recommend checking out all of Seleste deLaney's work. You won't be disappointed. But please be aware, that her books are not for teens. They are very adult. ; )

You may recall, I did a giveaway in September for an ebook copy. The winner is...

Donna S

Congrats and enjoy!