Thursday, February 26, 2015

Highlights & Lowlights: Author Events / Book Signings

Highlight: Behind-the-scenes info on your favorite books. I love hearing from authors about the writing process. Kristin Cashore's process with Bitterblue was especially interesting to hear. It's always cool to learn more about how the novel came to be, plus more about the novel itself. 

Lowlight: Lines. LINES OF PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Depending on how famous the author is, things might get a little crazy. And by a little crazy, I mean very crazy. Pushing, shoving, stepping on toes, it can get out hand and a little ridiculous (fortunately, I've experienced very little of this). 

Lowlight: No Seating. Yeah, I'll be the one standing in the back of the room awkwardly trying to hold a huge bag of books. 

Lowlight: You can't hear anything. This tends to only happen at big events, where nothing is done to ensure we can actually hear the author. Or when there's a technical issue with the microphone. 

Highlight: One-on-one time. I actually don't have much to say here. I did chat with Lauren Oliver a way back when she toured for Before I Fall, and that was fun. But even when the crowds are small, I usually have to leave early, so I normally miss out on having a quick chat with authors. But, if you can snag it, chatting with your favorite author (even for a short time) is so much fun! 

Kimberly Derting, Jessi Kirby, Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, Shannon Messenger, Morgan Matson

Highlight: Authors. SO MANY AUTHORS. Book signings are a chance to stalk and stare awkwardly at meet your favorite authors and some new-to-you authors. It's fun to be able to put a face and personality to a name, and especially wonderful if the event features more than one author. More authors = more fun.

Lowlight: Social awkwardness. Maybe it's just me, but I'm incredibly awkward at book signings. I usually only know one person, if I'm lucky, and I hardly ever know what to say to the author beyond YOUR BOOK IS SO AMAZING. I usually just stand quietly by them, and mumble something nice...*sighs*

Highlight: Meet other bookworms / have bookish conversations. You're already all there for the same reason, so the book is at least one conversation starter! It's nice being able to talk about the books I love with people who love them, too.

Lowlight: You forget to have an author sign your book. You see that picture with all of the authors? Yes? That is the event where I forgot to ask Morgan Matson to sign my copy of Second Chance Summer. Which I bought, in that bookstore, on that day. I became so overwhelmed with all of the authors, I didn't realize until I was home that I never actually handed it to her to sign. That's one of my many epic book blogger fail moments. *cries*

Highlight: Bookish swag. Author events are the best places to get awesome bookish swag. I attended a Gayle Forman + Jess Rothenburg + Nina LaCour + Stephanie Perkisn event back in 2012, and it was awesome. I went home with cool posters, buttons, and bookmarks! At another event, I received a tote bag. At a Leigh Bardugo event, I snagged some cool buttons! It's a nice thing that authors / publishers / bookstores sometimes do in order to reward people who come out and see the authors.

Lowlight: Q & A's, where you can't ask questions. Some Q&A's are great, but sometimes the questions are so boring and I wish they would allow a few from the audience.

Highlight: Q & A's, where you can ask questions. It's always nice when the audience can ask questions, especially since you never quite know what someone will ask.

Highlight: Finding out what the author's are writing next. And if you're super demanding lucky, they might even share a little excerpt, title, or some other secret information about their next novel.

What are some of your highlights / lowlights for author events? 

Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: (161): DELICATE MONSTERS

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

DELICATE MONSTERS by Stephanie Kuehn
June 9th, 2015 from St. Martin's Griffin

From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

I was sold at "twisted and haunting tale" - plus, since I adored Kuehn's debut, I'm sure I'll love this one as well.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Highlights / Lowlights: SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch (@seesarawrite)
Published: October 2014
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
POV: 1st person, present tense
Pages: 432
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss / HarperCollins
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Highlight: Secrets. MORE SECRETS. ALL THE SECRETS. Granted, I did guess one big one, but I was still intrigued from start to finish.

Highlight: Characters. Meira is stubborn, smart, determined, and my kind of narrator. And, the side characters are wonderful as well. From the good guys to the bad guys, Raasch makes everyone feel realistic and distinct.

Lowlight: Initially, confusing. Maybe it was just me, but reading the first chapter felt like I was stumbling around in the dark with a faulty flashlight and I had no idea what was happening or where everyone was. I think a map would have helped (which my ARC did not have, but I believe the final version does). I simply found it difficult to get into the beginning and to navigate the world, but once I went back and pushed forward, everything fell into place.

Highlight: World. Once I started to understand the layout and the differences in the various kingdoms, this world became quite fascinating. Raasch creates a lush world with magic, and such scenic kingdoms that I felt like I could see the ones that were described vividly. I cannot wait to explore the rest of this world.

Highlight: Adventure. Snow Like Ashes begins with adventure, and Raasch only continues to push Meira further out into her world. The search for part of the locket and goal of restoring the Kingdom of Winter drives Meira and her fellow Winterians throughout the entire story, but there are plenty of obstacles in their path.

Highlight: Fight scenes. I love a good fight scene, and Snow Like Ashes doesn't disappoint. Meira is confident in her abilities, especially with a chakram. This is a girl who does not wait around for the male characters to save her - she takes action, she argues, and she fights for everything she believes in.

Lowlight: Love triangle. I cannot wait until this stops being a thing in YA lit.

Highlight: Light + adorable romance. HOWEVER, Raasch writes it well. While there are two boys in Meira's life, one is a longtime crush with (unfortunately) little chance and the other is a an adorable, budding romance that has its own complications. Fortunately, this story kept the romance simple, sweet, and sometimes amusing. 

Highlight: Politics. It kind of reminds me a bit of Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns, where there is some focus on politics and doing whatever is necessary to create peace between kingdoms. But, of course, things do not go completely as planned. Every deal and betrayal kept me hooked, and there are a few surprises.

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf: Loved, 4+ out of 5. Once I pushed through the first few chapters, I was hooked. Snow Like Ashes is an action-packed adventure through a vivid world full of magic, secrets, and lies. Love, loss, betrayal, secrets, rebellions, friendship, evil rulers....this book has everything I love in a story, and I'm excited to have a new YA fantasy series & world to explore. 

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher for review consideration. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel.