January 28, 2015

Review: Pacific Fire

Pacific Fire Sequel to California Bones (my review)
By Greg van Eekhout
Available now from Tor (Macmillan)
Review copy

I've gotten used to series where one book leads directly into another.  PACIFIC FIRE starts ten years after CALIFORNIA BONES ends, which is a refreshing change of pace.  In fact, the entire book is a refreshing change of pace.

First, if you haven't read CALIFORNIA BONES, please do so.  It is a heist novel wrapped up in a well-developed urban fantasy world with a generous dollop of horror for flavor.  If you haven't read it, this review will be full of spoilers.

Daniel Blackland spent those ten years after the heist on the run with Sam, the Hierarch's golem.  Both are wanted because they'd be perfect ingredients in someone else's spell.  When Argent, an old frenemy comes with news that various factions in LA are banding together to build a dragon, Daniel knows he has to leave hiding to stop it.  The point of view switches between the three men, giving multiple perspectives on a dangerous mission gone wrong.

I love the world Greg van Eekhout is developing.  It's full of sinister and helpful characters, a lovely mix of the wonder of powerful magic and the horrible things that are done to make it stronger.  Despite the fact that most of Daniel and Sam's bonding happens off page, there's never a doubt about their father-son relationship.  It is a strong emotional anchor for the novel.  I liked that most of the characters from CALIFORNIA BONES who survived showed up again, although lamented that Cassandra gets the least to do.

This is a fast-paced novel that ends in a killer cliffhanger.  It is looser than CALIFORNIA BONES, since it doesn't have the heist structure.  But as crazy as things get, they never feel like they're out of van Eekhout's control.  I can't wait for the next book, because things are going to go down.  And based on the strength of PACIFIC FIRE and CALIFORNIA BONES, I trust van Eekhout to stick the landing.

January 27, 2015

Review: Tear You Apart

Tear You Apart Companion novel to Kill Me Softly
By Sarah Cross
Available now from EgmontUSA
Review copy

EgmontUSA may be shutting down, but at least they're releasing their 2015 slate. The first one I just had to read is TEAR YOU APART, the companion to KILL ME SOFTLY.  The first book introduced Beau Rivage, the town where descendants of faerie-human unions are forced to live out curses, curses worse than living in Mississippi for the rest of your life.

One of the big differences between TEAR YOU APART and KILL ME SOFTLY is that Viv grew up in Beau Rivage.  She knows exactly what story she's living, and she fears it.  She is Snow White, which means the Huntsman Henley will either kill or save her.  If he saves her, her stepmother Regina will keep trying.  Once Viv loved both Regina and Henley.  But when Regina betrayed her true colors and Henley was cursed, Viv decided she couldn't trust anyone.  She can't keep herself from Henley, but she can't bring herself to trust him again either.

TEAR YOU APART weaves together "Snow White," "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and "Rumpelstiltskin" in a darkly romantic tale.  Viv can be an utter spoiled brat, but getting out of her comfort zone and talking to people really forces her to take measure of her life.  And even when she's in spoiled brat mode, I admire her dedication to her own survival.  I liked the romance between her and Henley, but liked that she takes a chance when her prince Jasper shows up.  Even more, I like that she grows into being her own rescuer (as much as she can).

TEAR YOU APART will satisfy fans of fairytales who aren't afraid of some rather large liberties and some of the darker endings remaining in place.  Fans of KILL ME SOFTLY will enjoy that the cast of that novel makes cameo appearances.  Also nice: a reoccurring character is confirmed as a lesbian and there is a princess and princess couple that no one remarks upon.  Little details like that help the updated fairytale concept really work.

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In other news, today is Multicultural Children's Book Day.  The sponsors are holding a virtual book drive to support First Book.

January 26, 2015

Title Twins!

ETA:  Through 2/8, you can preorder VANISHING GIRLS for 4.99!

(Today is the last day to donate to the National Book Foundation in honor of National Readathon Day!)

I always love when I spot two books with (almost) identical titles.

The Vanishing GirlVanishing Girls

I just finished reading THE VANISHING GIRL by Laura Thalass, and I have VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver in my TBR.  I think the similarity in the authors' first names makes this one even better!

It looks like if you want a book about vanishing women, however, you have to go nonfiction:

Vanishing Women

January 24, 2015

National Readathon Day

Today is National Readathon Day!  Here's the basics from the Children's Book Council:
The National Book Foundation, GoodReads, Mashable and Penguin Random House are joining forces to launch the first-ever National Readathon Day. The Readathon will take place on Saturday, January 24, 2015 from 12 to 4 PM (in each time zone), at which time readers across the country will settle down for a reading session to raise funds for the National Book Foundationdelivering books to communities in need.
  • Bookstores, schools and libraries are also invited to join the Readathon by hosting “reading parties” for their local communities. Visit Penguin Random House’s Resources section to download supporting materials and register your venue.
However you participate, be sure to share your experience online using the hashtag #timetoread
Many local bookstores are holding events, such as BookPeople in Austin.  The funds raised from the readathon pledges will go to National Book Foundation programs such as BookUp, 5 Under 35, the Innovations in Reading Prize, and the National Book Awards.

The National Readathon Day was brought to my attention by Casper Mattresses.  In one of the more unique pitches I've received, they asked me to post about my book list for the readathon.  And if you can't tell from my blog title, yes I will be reading in bed.  (Oh, the joys of lazy Saturdays!  Plus, there's nothing like piling the blankets on on a cold day.)

Here is my current reading list:

TEAR YOU APART by Sarah Cross - This is the sequel to KILL ME SOFTLY and is a twisted retelling of Snow White in modern-day Beau Rivage.  This is the book I'm currently reading; I have about 40% left.

PACIFIC FIRE by Greg van Eekhout - Another sequel! I loved CALIFORNIA BONES last year, so I'm reading for another thrilling and terrifying ride.

MARK OF THE THIEF by Jennifer Nielsen -  I love Nielsen's middle grade books, so I am very excited about the start of her new series.

SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman - That's right, the sequel to Seraphina showed up on my doorstep just yesterday.  I have so many books that are coming out sooner on my docket, but no one blames me for skipping them to read this, right?

THE WINNER'S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski - This is the sequel to THE WINNER'S CURSE.  (I know, so many sequels!)  Like TEAR YOU APART, I've already started reading this one.  Let me tell you, it is good.

So join with me in reading and donating.  You can donate at my fundraising page.  You can also join my fundraising team.

January 23, 2015

Matt de la Peña at Blue Willow Bookshop

Yesterday I went to see Matt de la Peña at Blue Willow Bookshop.  He read a little from THE LIVING, then a little from THE HUNTED after we asked, and answered some questions from the audience.  If you haven't seen him speak before, he has a lot of upcoming events, including YAK Fest in Fort Worth this Saturday.

And if you haven't read THE LIVING, you should.  It is one of the seven books on the Cybils shortlist for YA Speculative Fiction.

A few highlights:

    My True Love Gave To Me
  • Shy, the protagonist of THE LIVING, is the same character in his story "Angels in the Snow" from MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME (my review) and his One Teen Story "Passing Each Other in Halls".  He's been trying to find a good home for the character for ten years, so he kept trying him out in different ones.  THE LIVING and THE HUNTED were the novels that worked.
    The Hunted
  • THE HUNTED begins with a radio conversation, and part of it takes place at Sony's studios.  It comes out in May.
  • When de la Peña wrote THE LIVING, he wanted to stretch himself and write something different from his other books, something more commercial.  He wants to reach as many readers as possible.
  • There will be more Shoeshine in THE HUNTED and some of his mysteries will be revealed.
    The Living
  • de la Peña wrote a lot of THE LIVING while running, to make himself as uncomfortable as possible.  That way he could think of more uncomfortable things to happen to the characters. 
ETA: Here's a pic of the crowd!

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