Views from the Tower

Views from the Tower
Jessica Grey
Tall House Books, 2012

Remember my friend Jessica, and her totally awesome debut Awake which sets 'Sleeping Beauty' in modern Los Angeles with a huge twist? Well, in addition to working on the "sequel" to Awake, and a really awesome Austenesque novel, she has written a collection of fairy tale shorts. Thus Views from the Tower (and that amazing cover!): a selection of fairy tales re-imagined. Some are flash fiction - which is new to me, but totally fun - and others are longer, more along the lines of a traditional short story. All are delightful, impressive, and quite honestly far too short. (Maybe I'm a fairy tale junkie -- I just can't get enough!)

A few of my favorites, to whet your appetite for a bit of fun fairy tale reading, to offer a bit of post-holiday sparkle, as winter settles in for a long stay ...
In Her Service: Okay, so maybe I'm a sucker for frog prince-type stories. And I'm definitely a sucker for snark. And we all know about the Regency/Austenesque fascination. Combine all three, and you get an amazing story that had me chuckling and wishing for more-much-more!
Red: Fractured fairy tale on a new level, and with just enough creepy to make you shiver. Jessica has taken "Red Riding Hood" to a new place (without making it freaky-creepy)!
Mountain Rose: You've heard of "Snow White and Rose Red"? This is that story. And it ranks among my favorites because it features an enchanted hero -- in the form of a bear. I have a thing for bear princes. And this one is beautifully written.
Chasing Storms: Not a fairy tale I recognize, but it's a beautiful story. The dragon, the flight, the storm. This one just snuck into my psyche and stole my imagination.
Trust me, this whole collection of stories is amazing - and as short stories, they're easy reads. I can't wait to see what other fairy tale goodness Jessica has up her sleeve.

eARC provided by author for review.


Dear Jane: A Love Letter

Today is a very important day. It's the bicentennial of the greatest love story of all time. To celebrate, Alyssa Goodnight and Stiletto Storytime are cohosting a blog hop of fan letters. Swing by and check out the full list, but first give mine a read.

Dearest Jane,
My Dear Miss Austen,
My dear Jane,

Please allow me the impertinence of considering you a close, and intimate friend. I have read your words so often, I feel as if we've experienced all the joys and sorrows of life together. You've cheered me, you've consoled me, you've made me laugh and taught me that not all disagreeable gentlemen are, in fact, disagreeable. And so, on this wonderful, glorious day - the 200th birthday of Pride and Prejudice - I beg the indulgence of telling you my Jane story ...

... I met you as a wide-eyed sixteen year old, whose English professor handed over the 6-part BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. You know, the infamous "Wet Darcy" version. After being mesmerized by the story playing out on screen, I read the book. And then I stumbled across Sense and Sensibility. And then there was a gap of a few Jane-less years, until the Kiera Knightley Pride and Prejudice released, which reignited my interest. Mr Darcy walked back into my life when I needed him most, and escorted me into a world of manners and elegance. Not to mention very dashing heroes.

As the years rolled by, it's now eleven since that first encounter, I've read your novels. I've read the spinoffs and variations and paraliterature. I've seen the movies. I have quite an "Austenia collection" of my own, both book and video. I've met amazing people, and come to know myself better by visiting a more graceful time. Jane, looking back over the years, I'm not sure how I would have traversed them without your gentle humor and searingly beautiful stories.

To that end, dearest Jane, I thank you. For bucking tradition and fighting the norms, for writing. For letting your observations of human nature be distilled into such clarity, and creating heroes (and heroines) who give hope and courage. (And perchance a little romance).

Happy anniversary, Jane Austen, and a million thanks for Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley, even Mr Collins and Lady Catherine! I raise a mug of cocoa in your honor, and snuggle in for a winter's night spent time-traveling through Regency England.

With much love,
Sincerely me


A year ends, a year begins

Okay, I'm a little late getting this posted, but Life has been very ... active. In a good way. I posted my year in review, and will be adding the rest of my 2012 reviews as they go live. This post is a catch-all post of sorts: talking about challenges, blogging goals, life goals ... a little bit of everything.

Challenges ... I didn't make my 100 books goal on Goodreads, but the 83 that counted towards that challenge is impressive. (If I counted picture books, I'd be closer ... and unfinished should count, somehow. For time wasted, ha). I've set my goal for 100 again this year, considering that I started with 50 last year and bumped it up when I was cruising towards that early on.

... I also did not complete all my reading challenges. Actually, the only one I completed was the Historical Fiction challenge (surprise, surprise). The others? Um. Not so much. I got a little preoccupied with "for review" books and neglected my reading challenges. Ah well, they were fun choices, and I've got plenty of "ammo" for future reading selections now!

What about challenges for this year? I've gone back and forth about this a lot, trying to decide what I want to participate in ... and I've come to this conclusion: 2013 will be a challenge-less year. I know. I'm shocked myself. But ... I have a lot of books I want - need - to read. Both pleasure books, and some catching up on review titles (when I started this blog, I never guessed I'd end up with a backlog of review titles!). Thus, 2013 is a year of reading for the sake of reading. I'm going to read the books that catch my fancy ... I'm going to reread old favorites, and finally dive into the new treasures I've "stockpiled" ... I'm going to be a little more selective of my review titles -- picking the ones that really call to me ... and I'm going to have fun.

Other miscellaneous things of note ... I have high hopes for 2013, from a writing standpoint. I hope to get my "Enchanted Darcy" novel finished this year ((for more information on that, check out Fairy Jane Tales)). I'd love to see more non-review posts appearing here on the blog too, whether they're guest posts or memes or something ... I'm feeling out where I think the blog will evolve, and will keep you posted! I also have a growing stack of books I've labeled "for giveaway" ... so I should have one of those soon.

What else is new ... noteworthy ... oh, I know: along with a new year, I got a new job! I'm now going to be working in a library full-time, and am totally excited about the opportunity. I'll be getting to do a little bit of everything (small public library), and am especially excited about getting to develop the Teen Services programming! So it's possible there may be more YA content on this blog than normal. You might want to expect a lot of Austenesque too. And fairy tales: always fairy tales.

Hmm ... I think that's probably a pretty good little wrap-up of things. Chances are good I've forgotten something, in which case it'll be showing up soon. I do have a pre-release giveaway going on for a copy of Liberty courtesy of Rhemalda Publishing -- check it out, the first giveaway of the year!


LIBERTY Pre-Release Giveaway

Remember, back in the fall, when I featured a cover reveal for Rhemalda Publishing's upcoming sci-fi novel Liberty? Well, today I have an expanded book description and a pre-release giveaway!

First, a little bit of info about the author:
Annie Laurie Cechini is a connoisseur of every type of geekery. She writes with a sonic screwdriver pen, owns a Tribble named Nimoy, and often threatens in all seriousness to name a child after a character from the Star Wars lexicon. Liberty is her first novel. You can learn more at her website, www.annielauriecechini.com.
(A Tribble named Nimoy ... I think I might swoon! This is my kind of geekery, you guys!)

Book description:

Eternigen is the miracle drug that allows humans to travel in deep space. Seventeen-year-old space captain Tabitha “Dix” Dixon has the only vial of Eternigen in existence.

Eira Ninge always gets what she wants. She wants the Eternigen, and she’ll do anything—and kill anyone—to get it.

Since Dix stole the vial, everyone she loves seems fated to die. When young resistance messenger Jordan Berrett steals her heart, she has to decide if it’s worth risking his life to let him get close. When Dix is involved, even falling in love can turn deadly.

If Dix can get her hands on more Eternigen, she and her crew can escape the solar system, leaving her dark past behind. But getting the Eternigen won’t be easy, and the bodies keep piling up. In the end, the cost of freedom may be too high.

I don't know about you, but this sounds really awesome to me. I've got a review copy loaded on my Kindle, and am super excited about getting to curl up and read it. Are you eager to find out how this story plays out? Well the wonderful folks at Rhemalda Publishing have offered an ebook copy of Liberty to one lucky reader! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below with your email and ebook format of choice.

Fine print: Rhemalda will be distributing the prizes on February 1st, the official release day of Liberty. Since I'm requiring your email address for entry, I'll send the winner directly to them - no waiting on contact info or having to redraw winners! AND, since it's an eBook giveaway, it's open internationally! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Protecting Truth

Protecting Truth
Michelle Warren

In the much-awaited second installment of the Seraphina Parrish trilogy (check out my review of the first book, Wander Dust here), we get both the perfect story and not nearly enough! See, Michelle Warren has a knack for telling a story that hooks you and draws you in, and while the book itself is this perfectly spun story, it leaves you wanting so much more.

Protecting Truth opens a few months after the end of Wander Dust, just as summer is ending and the new school year about to begin for Sera and her cronies. Unable to stand the separation from Bishop any longer, Sera wanders to England for a surprise visit -- setting in motion a chain of events that rocks the Academy. And so Sera's second year at the Academy begins on a stressful note, made worse by the ever-increasing tension between Bishop and Turner - his fraternal twin, and Sera's secret collaborator. See, Turner has been making defense training holograms for Sera, and she can now kick some major tail on her own - which would make Bishop feel inadequate and unwanted, since, you know, he's her Protector. Crazy stuff. Plus, Cece and the Academy's enemies are back in full-force, and the stakes just keep getting raised higher and higher.

The tension and story and all the ... truths ... that are revealed in Protecting Truth are making writing the review tricky. I don't want to give anything up, because this is a story you've got to really experience for yourself. So I'll tease you a little: the tension between Turner and Bishop? It's more than just twin-rivalry. All the secrets that Sera thought she figured out last year? They barely even scratch the surface. And the ending. Oh. My. Word. There are no words. Except "wow" and "where's the rest of the story, Michelle?!?!?!" Seriously. I need the rest of this story. The characters, the drama, the amazingness of wandering (who doesn't want to be able to wander, by the way?). Yup, Michelle Warren has officially created one awesome world. And left me hanging.

eBook provided by author for review.


A Royal Pain

A Royal Pain
Megan Mulry
Sourcebooks, 2012

Bronte Talbott has loved the British Royal Family her whole life, following their exploits and tracking their choices (fashion and otherwise). Until her hotshot Texan boyfriend leaves her in a lurch, and she swears off love and other foolish notions. Determined to take all her hard-learned lessons to heart, Bronte decides to transform herself into a modern woman - able to have a no-strings-attached relationship with any hott guy she wants, without getting her heart tied into knots or shattered to bits. Enter Max, a handsome, charming - British - PhD student who agrees to go along with Bronte's "just have fun, no questions, no attachment" demands until his dissertation is completed at the end of the summer.

Everything seems to be going great - Max is the perfect "non-boyfriend" - and Bronte is pleased with the success of her plan. Until the one thing she never counted on happens, and she falls in love. When faced with the choice to go with Max to England, Bronte panics (on an epic scale), realizing too late that letting Max go was quite possibly one of her biggest mistakes. So she does what any girl does: she Googled him, discovering that quiet doctoral student Max is actually royal. No, really. His grandmother was a princess, and he's a Duke -- and subsequent highly-eligible-match -- back in merry old England. To bury her shock (and unspoken heartbreak), Bronte buries herself in work, making a successful name for herself in boutique PR. And then, Life plays a trick on her still raw heart, letting Max cross Bronte's path in NYC a year later. What happens next makes their previous quasi-relationship seem cold and impersonal.

A Royal Pain is more than a feel-good love story ((with quite a bit of sexy-times, consider yourself forewarned, as it's a bit more sexed up than I expected)), it's also a story of personal growth as Bronte learns to come to terms with the ghosts of her past. Especially the distant specter of her father, and the role he played in shaping her character. Fighting to maintain her identity of a "modern, independent woman" while yearning to give in to the romantic dreams in her heart. It's a real struggle, and Bronte is a character I could relate to -- and whom I'm sure other young women can as well. Her personal journey is a nice balance to the sparkle of the love story.

eARC provided by publisher for review.


2012: Books, Books, Books!

Whew, what a mad rush the holiday season was! Getting this posted a little later than intended, but it's still fun to see. There are a few reviews I still need to finish and post, so I'll update those links as they go live ((and, just as a matter of housekeeping, will label them "2012 reviews" to keep things tidy, even though they're going live in 2013)). Enjoy the list -- it's a little daunting -- and keep your eyes open for the other "year end-year beginning" newsy posts!

- First Date: Krista McGee
- The Thorn & the Blossom: Theodora Goss
- The Scorpio Races: Maggie Stiefvater
- Forget You: Jennifer Echols
- Taft 2012: Jason Heller

- Promise Me This: Cathly Gohlke
- Winter's Kiss: Jennifer Echols & Catherine Hapka
- Amy & Roger's Epic Detour: Morgan Matson
- Covert: Michael Kennedy

- Blue Moon Promise: Colleen Coble
- The Big Scrum: John Miller
- Awkward: Marni Bates
- Downtown Green: Judy Christie
- Edenbrooke: Julianne Donaldson
- I've Got Your Number: Sophie Kinsella

- Hearts That Survive: Yvonne Lehman
- The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind: Meg Medina
- The Wedding Dress: Rachel Hauck
- Cinder: Marissa Meyer

- The One That I Want: Jennifer Echols
- Prophet: RJ Larson
- The Selection: Kiera Cass
- Along for the Ride: Sarah Dessen

- This Lullaby: Sarah Dessen
- Cloaked: Alex Flinn
- Vixen: Jillian Larkin
- Southern Charm: Tinsley Mortimer
- Skip Rock Shallows: Jan Watson
- In Honor: Jessi Kirby
- Keep Holding On: Susane Colasanti

- For the Darkness Shows the Stars: Diana Peterfreund
- This Scarlet Cord: Joan Wolf
- Belles: Jenn Calonita
- Enchanted: Alethea Kontis
- Girl of Fire & Thorns: Rae Carson

- My Stubborn Heart: Becky Wade
- Marrying Up: Wendy Holden
- Keeper of the Lost Cities: Shannon Messenger
- Love in Disguise: Carol Cox

- Chomp: Carl Hiassen
- Band of Sisters: Cathy Gohlke
- Finnikin of the Rock: Marlina Marchetta
- A Path Toward Love: Cara Lynn James
- Graceling: Kristin Cashore

- Fire: Kristin Cashore
- The Universe of Fair: Leslie Bulion
- Bitterblue: Kristin Cashore

- The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton: Angela Shelton
- The Theory of Everything: JJ Johnson

- A Spell for Chameleon: Piers Anthony

- All's Fair in Vanities War: Elizabeth Marx
- The Merchant's Daughter: Melanie Dickerson
- Awake: Jessica Grey
- Asenath: Anna Patricio
- A Weekend with Mr. Darcy: Victoria Connolly
- Charity Envieth Not: Barbara Cornthwaite
- Lend Me Leave: Barbara Cornthwaite
- Bourne: Lisa T Bergren
- Clockwise: Elle Strauss
- Triple Threats: Airin Emery
- Chance Encounters: J. Sterling
- The Kiss Off: Sarah Billington
- Blue Sky Days: Marie Landry
- Pretty Amy: Lisa Burstein
- Written in the Ashes: K. Hollan VanZandt
- Dreaming of Mr Darcy: Victoria Connolly
- Queen's Lady: Eve Edwards
- Tributary: Lisa T Bergren
- My Particular Friend: Jennifer Petkus
- Just Say Yes: Phillipa Ashley
- Imperfect Bliss: Susan Fales-Hill
- Click: An Online Love Story: Lisa Becker
- In Need of Therapy: Tracie Banister
- The Future Mrs Darcy: Maria Grace
- Mr Darcy Forever: Victorian Connolly
- Tidewater Inn: Colleen Coble
- Absolute Liability: JW Becton
- Death Benefits: JW Becton
- View from the Tower: Jessica Grey
- Sisters of Glass: Stephanie Hemphill
- Unbreak my Heart: Melissa Walker
- The Hidden Blessing: Melissa Buell
- Romance in the Rain (anthology)
- Protecting Truth: Michelle Warren
- A Royal Pain: Megan Mulry
- Unmasking Maya: Libby Mercer

Picture Books
- Mary Engelbreit's Fairy Tales: Twelve Timeless Treasures
- Marching with Aunt Susan
- Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms Reeder?
- The Divide
- Hey Canada!
- Return of the Library Dragon 

- A Hopeless Romantic: Harriet Evans
- Death Comes to Pemberley: PD James
- Hope Rekindled: Tracie Peterson
- Between the Lines: Jodi Piccoult & Samantha Van Leer
- Mansfield Park: Jane Austen