Endless Stories

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The stage: Convention center building–it has the most interesting escalators you’ve ever seen. Not because they’re strangely shaped or oddly placed, but because you know what lies at the top of them.

The cast: You. You are a young blogger, aspiring author, and YA addict. This is your first convention, and your marrow practically vibrates in your bones. You have on your person one The Raven Boys t-shirt, one pair of teal skinny jeans, one cart full of books, and one insatiable smile. These are your only assets.

The goal: Imbibe as many stories as possible. You have eight hours. Go.

Welcome to North Texas Teen Book Festival. 75 Authors + 1 day + You = Endless Stories.

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You have embarked on the journey of a lifetime, and you won’t be able to breathe when it ends. That much is for certain. What is uncertain is whether you will be crushed by the weight of book purchases, or by overwhelming happiness.

Begin: You have a small band wrapped around your wrist. You’re being set up with a book that will hopefully be the love of your life. You can’t wait. But you must, because just ahead is the trading post–here you will acquire the new stories that you will get magic-ed (aka signed) over the next few hours. Choose wisely.

Success! You have acquired books. These will be your most valuable attribute. Among them lies THE WALLS AROUND US–rumor has it that only the people in this building have gotten their hands on it thus far. This place is magic indeed.

Friends appear. Into your hands comes another book–a matchmaker has paired you and you have yet to find out if you can be companions or not. This is fine: adventure is the point.

Quest: Knowledge. Should you choose to accept this quest, you will find yourself placed in a room amongst other travelers. You will all listen to Authors (aka magicians), and they will impart wisdom upon you. Complete this quest and earn status as a panel attendee Do you accept?

Excellent. 11042987_565281863575229_3050325849334151450_n

The day proceeds. Your head spins with the amount of knowledge these magicians possess. You are the type of person that simply thrives off of the emotion and energy produced by crowds of people. You couldn’t be happier.

A lull happens. You catch your breath. The magicians will soon appear to their admirers. Here you have the opportunity to organize your spoils and make some new friends. There are a lot of your kind standing in long lines at this point, a lot of young hearts racing with the thrill of adventure and the promise of magic.

Enter: magicians. You’re busy waiting for one of your favorites (a witch by the name Leigh Bardugo who has captured your heart and promptly broken it a few times with her stories) when you hear a commotion across the room. Fans of a different story than yours have just seen the face of its next installment. You couldn’t be happier for them. 11018920_565282020241880_8009651293736111206_n

You meet magician after magician, adding signatures to your arsenal. This one is your hero and you’re not sure you can stand in her presence very long without exploding into a better version of yourself and possibly making a mess of starlight and book pages while you’re at it.

These are your people, your favorite people. It’s overwhelming, the scope of this place. You will never get it out of your system. You will have to keep coming back.


 

NTTBF 2015 was a major experience for me and hundreds of other people. With NTTBF 2016 right around the corner, I’m getting more and more excited each day.

This post not enough for you? You as hyped as I am? I’ve made a playlist for that. I make a playlist for everything. [click image to listen]

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The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

We’ve talked about book that are too pretty to pass up on this blog before. We’ve all but come out and said it: Linnea judges books by their covers.

There’s all that logical stuff about how the cover is the first thing you see, et cetera, et cetera. Covers are important, and Linnea picks books based on them sometimes.

The thing about ANNIE is that it was was…not what it appeared.

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The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

  • Author: Katherine Howe
  • Publisher: Putnam
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: Urban ghost story, his-fic
  • At a glance: Wes is in summer school, in NYC, filming a documentary. Annie is…Annie is. And that’s kind of a big deal.

This book has some of my favorite things in it. Ghosts, boys with personality tics, urban location, beautiful cover. Cool story. Kissing. The list goes on.

But it also has some of my least favorite things in it. His-fic, exclamation points, ALL CAPS YELLING. The lack of a consistent urban setting. Confusion as to who’s head I’m in.

Annie has it all.

Annie is a ghost story that never uses the word ghost. Which is, in and of itself, a fantastic concept. Annie is also a ghost story that uses basically every ghost line, but without the satisfaction of the eerie that’s-a-spirit-we’re-looking-at feeling. Annie is a ghost story–but it’s not a horror novel, not in the least.

I read a lot of ghost stories, basically any I can get my hands on that aren’t an immediate turn of. I will read ghost stories until the day I die and someone can write mine. I love them. I love ghosts.

Which means that, even though Wes is a bit like my favorite character type, Annie was hands down, the best character in this book. And I think that, maybe, she should have been the only one. Lots of story elements got lost inside of Wes’ head, things that I think could have been seriously cool if we saw them with Annie’s eyes. And I understand why Wes was necessary. But towards the end–he bored me.

And then the last chapter happened, and I begrudgingly admitted that I really enjoyed this book and what it was trying to say between all the exclamation points and the avoidance of the word Ghost.

I can’t say I’ll be reading Annie again. But I’m not sad to see it on my shelf.

So overall:

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Mostly, his-fic fans, or die-hard ghost lovers like me
  • Lasting impression: Annie Van Sinderen, sitting on a bench in central park, smiling.

 

 

 

King’s Folly

An extremely exciting thing happened yesterday. Jill Williamson’s KING’S FOLLY  was released into the wild.

I’ve had the extreme privilege and pleasure to be on the promotion team for this book, and now it’s here, ready for your hands.

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King’s Folly

  • Author: Jill Williamson
  • Publisher: Bethany House
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: High fantasy
  • At a glance: The Five Realms are in danger. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and other kinds of disasters plague them, and the king of Armania is certain the gods are angry with them. But that’s not quite the case–and the princes realize that.

King’s Folly is a story about many people doing many things–some of those things are good, and some of them are not so good. Many of these people don’t know that the things they’ve done are not so good. Basically everyone in this book is misled in some form or another, and that’s kind of the whole point. Grit and hope combine in what ends up being a wonderful concoction of problems and problem solving.

Sounds great, right?

Well, if you’re not convinced, here are five realms of reasons you should read King’s Folly:

i.The Characters

While King’s Folly may be an Adult Christian Fantasy™, it doesn’t beg to be described like that, mostly because of the people that inhabit its pages. Think of that genre and you probably don’t have a character that comes to mind, right?

King’s Folly is different. Even going beyond the simple fact that many of its cast are young people, King’s Folly is a book that doesn’t rely on atmosphere or ideals so much as it relies on the morals and questions of the people inside of it.

Prince Wilek is quite easily one of my new favorite characters, and he and his brother and the rest of the crew all carry this story on their shoulders. And it works.

ii.The Depth

King’s Folly is five layers deep in everything it does. (how many Five Realms jokes can I make in one post? (a lot)) Williamson is an incredible world builder, for starters–there aren’t any detectable holes in the way thing work, and if there are, you can probably explain them away if you think hard enough.

Beyond that, King’s Folly is one of those books where you get the sense that whoever wrote it really knew what they were doing. The plot is a progression, and one that makes sense to boot. From a writer’s standpoint–the sheer amount of planning that had to go into this is crazy.

Which brings me to:

iii.The Heft

My print version of King’s Folly is five hundred and forty-four pages long, and there’s two books left to come out. But don’t let that intimidate you! There are two reasons why.

One: This book is not just thrown at your face like a brick. It is released in bite-sized e-book formats.

S E E ?

Totally doable.

Two: Hefty books are good for you. I was an epic fantasy kid–I devoured books almost this size in days. And then I grew up and found my true genre and stopped reading so many of them because, well, they just weren’t my thing anymore, right? Which doesn’t mean anything besides the fact that, well, five hundred and forty-four pages seems like a lot when you’re used to two-fifty.

But it’s good to read long books. It’s good to be engaged for that long. Your brain can handle it, I promise. And with King’s Folly, it doesn’t even seem that hard.

iv. The Colors

I mean…have you seen the cover? Red and gold never looked so good. (except for maybe in Gryffindor.)

The colors don’t stop there, though. The inside of King’s Folly is just as nice as the outside. Varied and rich, from characters, to beliefs, to places and beyond, King’s Folly is painted in shades of bronze and red, gold and blue. It has a strange sort of indeterminate aesthetic that it almost seems to not realize it possesses.

Lots of high fantasy has a not-aesthetic like this, but a lot of high fantasy takes the “not” to a deeper level than the rest of it. But King’s Folly kind of just…rolls with it.

v. This awesome playlist I made

Because what kind of book promoter would I be if I didn’t give you music to accompany your reading experience?

So what’re you waiting for? Here are picture links to help you begin your journey. (click to visit)

This is music:

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This is the free e-book of part one:

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And overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars for impressing the unimpressed
  • Recommended to: Anybody that was a high fantasy kid, and anybody that’s got a Christian Speculative prejudice (like me).
  • Lasting Impression: Prince Wilek’s bowed head; the foggy red lake. The way your heart feels when you know something they don’t.

 

 

The Masks of “Wink Poppy Midnight”

So maybe this book and this windy Barnes & Noble were a bit my fault. This is one of Sniffer’s best reviews, and one of the Best Books Out There.

Sniffer Blog

Good books surprise you. They rip the curtains away from a dark secret. They hide in your blind spot and pinch the skin on the back of your neck. They drag you through the rain and then bathe your body in sunlight.
But the great books do more than surprise you.

Wink Poppy Midnight in One Sentence
An upside down, dark, whimsical sort of tale that only stops singing to breathe.

Rating
• • • • • •
6/6

Genre: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

Why Wink Poppy Midnight?
I’ve had mixed experiences with April G. Tucholke’s books. When I read her first novel, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it took me a hundred pages until my interest peaked. Slow start, and then love. Her second novel, Between the Spark and the Burn, was a book I did not love so much. Not…

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Reign of Shadows

Certain blogger friends of mine and I periodically decide that we should act like we like each other. So Mariesa (twoamreaders) and I thought, why not do a readalong to top off the #5books7days challenge last month? And why not use a new release? And why not do it all in one night?

Long story short, we did the thing, and now we bring a joint blog post to your computer screens. Enjoy.

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Reign of Shadows

  • Author: Sophie Jordan
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Year: 2016
  • Genre vibe: Twisted fairy tale retelling, adult romance. (hear me out)
  • At a glance: Princess Luna has been kept in her tower for her whole life, ever since the day of the Eclipse–the day she was born. Then some weary and unlikely (and super attractive) travelers fall into her lap, and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Here is a twofold review. Want to see my portion? Head over to Twoamreader.

Reign of Shadows has a lot going for it. A gorgeous cover, interesting concepts, cool story world, and likable enough characters. And kissing. But in the end it comes down to books that are Good and books that are…good.

I’m descriptive.

This review is gonna be a bit different then my usual reviews, because this book is less of a book I can review objectively for whatever reason.

Let me explain.

Some books are Good. Objectively, you enjoyed it. You remember things about it. If someone were to ask for a book rec and that book met their criteria, you’d recommend it. It’s Good.

Some books are just…good, though. Nothing is particularly overtly bothersome enough for you to like it a lot. But nothing is so overtly amazing enough for you to l o v e it. It’s alright. There’s nothing bad enough for you to discuss in your review, but it’s not something you’d fling at people’s faces.

Reign of Shadows is both of those things.

Which is why it’s so complicated. It’s neither Good nor good. It’s a book. It was entertaining, well written, fun to read. If someone wanted a Rapunzel retelling, sure I’d recommend this one. But it’s not one I’d recommend to anyone as a representation of the types of books I consider Good Books.

It’s a fun book. The main character was likable. The love interest wonderful. The side characters interesting. The world building was a bit flat, but the world was vibrant. It does have its flaws, with it’s lacking climax. But it was fun. I wasn’t annoyed by anything , I wasn’t wowed by anything.

It’s got elements of both a Good book and a good book.

Isn’t this review a work of art?

At the end of the day, Reign of Shadows is a fun book that I really did like reading. I had a lot more fun reading it than usual, that being because of the fact that I got to read it with Linnea. In which we made high school au’s, made fun of drama and giggled over kisses. I will, at the end of the year, remember this book fondly because of the fun I had reading it.

Which, at the end of this review, calls to light to Very important Truth about books. Sometimes it’s not the book, it’s the memories. And it is alright to love a book simply because of the circumstances in which it was discovered and read.

And overall:

  • Rating: 4/5 stars (for cheese and fairy tales)
  • Recommended to: Fans of romance stories, fairy tales, freaking-beautiful covers, and super scary forest creatures.
  • Lasting impression: Clothing. (just read.)