Thursday, January 31, 2013

...on Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Published by Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: November 6, 2012
517 Pages
Source: Library

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? -( from Goodreads)

Days of Blood & Starlight
by Laini Taylor 

My Thoughts:  Have you ever loved the first book in a series so much that you were scared to read the next book? That was exactly how I felt with this book. I fretted over it for much too long.

I was first in line at the library to check it out, then it sat in my library bag for days, and then I moved it from the bag to beside my bed, where it sat for several more days. Then I finally got the nerve to pick it up and start reading.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is one of my all-time favorites. 
I've read it several times. I've listened to the audiobook several times, which is stunningly gorgeous. I've had waves and waves of emotions that only increase every time I revisit the story. Tears even! It's one of those books that I've read and loved enough that I can pick it up and just randomly open it to any passage for a few minutes and be completely satisfied. THAT's how much I love Daughter of Smoke & Bone.

These feelings have a lot to do with Taylor's writing, of course. She has this undeniable skill to mesmerize me with her words - to draw me in and whisk me straight to her fictional Eretz or to the streets of Prague. But it's also the chemistry between Karou and Akiva. Theirs is a relationship that is so high up on my list of favorite romances that sometimes I can verbalize why I love them so much. I'm probably sounding crazy right about now, but I just love them

At the end of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I felt like "WHAT!?" - but by this time I've read the book enough to expect that ending and those feelings, and with each reading I knew that soon there would be more to the story. However, that did nothing to alleviate my fear of the second book
*This second-book fear is very common with me and books. I also have final-book fear. Perhaps I should blog about this?

The second thing you need to know is this:
I kept seeing all of these 5-star reviews...
but there was also talk about sadness and war and death. What?
So, in my fear of this second book, my mind only became more afraid! How on earth can people read a book that is supposed to be filled with Akiva and Karou that is actually filled with death and war and sadness and despair and still give it 5 stars? My brain was just not processing this. It was not. And the book sat in my library bag as a result. 

But when I finally started reading, things started to become clearer to me. I understood why everyone was so doggone vague in their reviews. And what all of this crazy talk was about. I began to allow myself to love on this book a little bit. A lot, actually. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
This IS indeed a 5-STAR book.
AND it is a book about WAR. And DEATH. And some parts ARE sad.
But I saw hope at the end, and that is what I felt overall.

Y'all, I was absolutely taken by this book. I found such JOY in reading it - every single word - even in the death and war and even sorrow. The things that happened in this book...I think they had to happen this way for the story to go on. And I am so very anxious to see where the story goes because I personally feel hopeful in the ending. 

I have no idea where the story can go from here. I have an inkling of how it will begin, but I don't know how it will end up. Laini Taylor has proven that her stories take us on wild rides. I'm not ready for the last part yet, and when the time comes for it to be published - I'm sure there will be lots of fear and anxiety and pep-talking for me. But however it ends up, I'm sure that it will be a heck of a ride getting there. She has definitely left us in a place for something special to occur. 


Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor is complete perfection underneath another beautiful cover. I read it slowly, of course, like I often do - so I could take in every detail and savor it. Every sentence is perfect, as if Taylor thought long and hard about exactly which word she would use at exactly which place. I am happy to report that I feel no second-book slump here.

These characters - the ones we know and love - feel so developed and so very real to me, even though some of them are not of this world. What is amazing to me is that somehow Taylor found it in herself to develop them even further - for example, we find out so much more about favorites Karou, Akiva, Zuzanna, and Mik. And for those of us that are huge fans of characterization (like me) - OH! the joy of learning more about some of those we barely knew from the first book! My heart soared at the opportunity to get to know more about Akiva's siblings, Hazael and Liraz. There are also more bad guys, of course, and they are really bad - but I love wonderfully written bad guys; Laini Taylor has given us just that. Fortunately the good ones are so good that my love for them triumphs my bad feelings for the bad guys. 

Once again, the world-building is fantastic and the settings chosen by Taylor are easily visualized and perfect. I especially love the castle in the sandy desert where Karou spends most of her time doing what she does. Taylor describes it so well and the scenes in this palace play out in my mind just like scenes from a movie. The pacing is interesting - there are some intense action scenes that are fast-paced mixed with slower, more character-driven scenes. I personally love this mixture because I feel like I need breaks from all of the war and the fighting (due to the depth of emotional investment I have in this series) because there is fighting interspersed fairly regularly throughout pretty much the entire book.

And honestly? The little plot twists and incredibly smart things that Laini Taylor wrote into the story? Every time something like that would come up, it would me gasp or say "Oh my gosh!" or something like that. Trust me, it happens plenty of times throughout this lengthy book. This series just keeps getting better and better.

I know that I was afraid to read this book, and I am not ashamed of being that way. My quirky fears are well-founded BUT I am happy to report that in this case, there is no need to be afraid of Days of Blood & Starlight. It is a wonderful story, even with the heartache and pain that comes with it, and I will be re-reading the heck out of it. I can all guarantee that next year, when the time comes for the final book to be released, I will be just as fearful for the end of the series and I will be going thru the exact same emotions leading up to the book's release - I won't want this beautiful series to end. Perfection, it is. 

I recommend Days of Blood & Starlight for fans of fantasy/urban fantasy, angels, magic, and absolutely beautiful writing. 

I used you so often!


Days of Blood & Starlight will appeal to fans of:

YA Fantasy/Supernatural with Magic
Beautiful Writing
Fantastic Characterization
Romance: Yes! Maybe/kinda/sorta a hint of a triangle-to-come?
LOVE the Setting, AGAIN

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
is currently available for purchase.


What are your thoughts?
Is it hopeful to you, or sad? 

If you haven't read it, is it on your to-read list?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten Terribly Frustrating Characters!

Click HERE to check out Top Ten Tuesday
at The Broke and the Bookish

Ten of the Most Frustrating Characters Ever!
Keep in mind that what frustrates me may not frustrate you!
And on a different day, these may be totally different!

1. Katsa from
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa frustrates me partly for the same reason I LOVE her. 
She's extremely stubborn and won't listen. Sometimes
this gets her into trouble. And sometimes she needs to be the best when 
sometimes she should just learn to be humble.
*But ask me any day of the week, and I will tell you Katsa is my favorite
kick-butt female heroine. So, there's that.


2. Samantha Kingston from

Before I Fall 
y Lauren Oliver

Sam is mean and she knows it. She's also a follower, a people-pleaser.
She doesn't stand up to her friends when they make fun of or harass others.
Sam's behavior frustrated me so much, and it caused me to not like this book.
(I know I'm one of the few, but I stand by my frustration.)


3. Celaena Sardothien from
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena has a lot of potential in her world to be so awesome
 - HOWEVER - she is an expert at stringing two men along.
It's very frustrating to me. 
To me, her case is worse than a regular love triangle, it's just mean.
Get it together, Celaena!  


4. Daemon Black from
Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Daemon, you're kind of a jerk.
But you're hot so my frustration factor is very low. 
(I'm shallow. LOOK AT HIM.)


5. Katniss Everdeen from
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Am I even allowed to be frustrated with Katniss?
Am I allowed to be frustrated with Katniss
because I don't like her choice in men?


6 - 8. Juliette, Adam, and Warner from
Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette, you're hot then you're cold. You're yes then you're no.
You change opinions and directions like the wind and a pair of socks.
Ordinarily this is okay, but with all you've got at stake? STOP. IT.

Adam, I'm gonna need for you to step up a little bit. 
You're hot, so find a teensy bit more confidence.
 Also, m
aybe quit moping around. Yeah, that would be good.

All of the good and all of the bad - it all frustrates me SO MUCH.

I have high hopes for you all, that toward the end of this series you can
pull yourselves together and be all I know you can be.


 9. Dez Cross from
Touch, Untouched, Toxic by Jus Accardo

Dez, you're such a butt-kicking, awesome female.
So what happened to you in Toxic?
You turned into a such an insecure, jealous whiner!
Get it together in the next book, gal.


10. Clara Gardner from
Unearthly, Hallowed, Boundless by Cynthia Hand

I'm extremely frustrated with Clara Gardner right now.
Because I'm two books into this series and she has done NOTHING to
help me decide which of part of the love triangle would be best for her.
This is frustrating for me because it is also hazardous to my health. 
Even though these books are fantastic, I have suffered from
extreme emotional outbursts whilst reading them
and for random periods of time afterward.
And I haven't even gotten to the last book yet!
Shame on you, Clara Gardner! You should do SOMETHING
to make it easier for me. So I'm frustrated with YOU. 


Which characters frustrate YOU??
Who made YOUR list?

Do you agree with any of my frustrations?
Do you think any of them are pretty silly?
Talk to me! I want to know!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

...on Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: January 4, 2011
435 Pages
Source: Kindle purchase (I also read from a library copy.)

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. 
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? -(from Goodreads) 

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

My Thoughts: I started reading Unearthly a few days ago because I wanted to have a little knowledge of this series before the Pitch Dark Days tour rolls into town in a few weeks. MAN OH MAN, I had no idea I'd find myself so invested in this story - and so fast.

The first thing you need to know is this:
It's clear from the summary that this book has a love triangle.
Oh how I loooove a well-executed love triangle!
But I believe that this one is going to STRESS ME OUT.
Reading friend and fellow blogger Lauren from Love is not a triangle has been telling me for MONTHS that I should read these books. It seemed like the perfect to start the series because the final book in the trilogy is releasing and YAY for a completed series! I also felt that if Lauren - a love triangle disliker - gave her stamp of approval to this series, it must be super great.

I did not anticipate falling for both of the love interests equally within a few chapters of the book. I repeat: I fell for both love interests. This never happens to me! I'm usually able to make a choice on who I feel is the better love interest pretty quickly after being introduced to both love triangle candidates, and I usually end up sticking with my choice throughout the series. NOT THE CASE HERE! I feel like I may be headed for trouble with my emotions as far as this series-as-a-whole goes.

As far as Unearthly goes, Cynthia Hand began her love triangle very, very well. I myself - speaking only for myself here - was not able to discern which guy I wanted Clara to end up with or even begin with, so I felt this sense of bookish stress as I began to read the book. It was sort of alarming, but it was alarming underneath the story (if that makes sense at all). 

The second thing you need to know is this:
This is one of the better angel books that I have read.
Now, please take that lightly. I love angel stories of all kinds. I do not get tired of them even when they are released in clusters. I do not moan, roll my eyes, or do whatever it is that lots of other readers do. I actually find myself gravitating toward them sometimes. Angel mythology can be really great when written well, and Cynthia Hand did a fantastic job with this book. 

In talking with some friends over this book and the angel-ness of it, I really cannot think of anything that I did not like. There were several points that really stuck out to me that I enjoyed a great deal and am anxious to see explored further in the coming books in this trilogy. Certain characters - good ones and bad ones - embody the mythology written by this author really well and I feel invested in this story thus far.

I will be doing an "Asheley No-No" and reading the next book, Hallowed, immediately following this one. (Seriously, that rarely-to-never happens.) It is unclear yet whether or not this is a good decision for me. I'll let you guys know!

The third thing you need to know is this:
I absolutely love free will vs. destiny books.
This series is a free will vs. destiny series. 
Big time. 
As Clara gets to know Christian, the guy of her dreams (basically her destiny), things start falling into place - she begins to learn tiny details that she fits together into a bigger picture that is her purpose. But as she gets to know Tucker, the rugged cowboy with the crush on her that turns into her boyfriend, she begins to think with her heart. Clara never forgets her destiny, her purpose - that it involves Christian and it is the most important thing. But she can't help that her heart loves Tucker, and some of us remember the pull of first love. Clara struggles throughout the book to make these free will vs. destiny decisions that are so very interesting to me.

There are times when her mother and brother become frustrated with her because they feel that she is losing sight of her mission. There are times when Tucker becomes frustrated with her because he feels like he is playing backseat to her mission. Clara is a girl stuck in the middle of her angelic purpose in life and what her earthly heart wants. It was hard to watch her struggle between her job and her desires, but it was certainly excellent for discussion and thought. 

When the time came and Clara had a huge decision to make - WOW, that part! It was eye-opening and heartfelt and heartbreaking and all kinds of exciting (the good kind and the bad kind). I'm pretty sure I bit all of my fingernails in those scenes, if I had any left from previously in the book.


Unearthly by Cynthia Hand is the type of book that people will either stay up late into the night to read until their eyes burn OR that people will read in small doses because it is emotionally stressful. (I'm of the latter group.) With each new stress that was written into the book, I had to stop reading, to think about what had happened, and to calm down before I could go any further, which is why it took me a few days to read this book. That is NOT saying that this was a bad book or that I didn't enjoy it - rather, this means that I thought that this book was a really great book. It gave me a lot to think about and talk about with my fellow reading friends. (And stress over, I won't lie. But it was the good stress, the bookish stress, so it was alright.)

More than anything about Unearthly, I love the angel mythology that Cynthia Hand introduced. I loved most of the characters and I'm very interested in seeing where they will be going from here. I liked Clara - I enjoyed the idea that she is part-angel and that she has a very specific pre-ordained purpose in life. I like that her mother is also part-angel, has been through this situation before, and can provide loving guidance for Clara, as this isn't exactly a normal teenage occurrance. Speaking of family, I love that Cynthia Hand wrote a wonderful, functioning family into this book because we all know that the YA market doesn't always satisfy us where great families are concerned. 

In terms of the two love interests - the love triangle - I love both Tucker and Christian a ton. I loved them both right away. I know that not everyone took to them both as readily and as easily as I did, but for some reason, I clicked to them immediately. At this point, at the end of Unearthly, I do not have a current favorite. This is interesting given that so much attention was given to building the relationship between Clara and Tucker in this first book. I have to wonder if the second book will be largely time spent with Christian? I don't know. I still have a wide-open heart for Christian, and I haven't counted him out yet. (I realize there are still two full books for me to read and I haven't counted out anything.) 

In terms of secondary characterization, I have a strange disconnect with Clara's friend Angela, which is odd. I think she has a big enough role in this book that I should feel something for her, but I just don't. I can't really give a reason why at this point. Also, I feel like Clara's brother Jeffrey is a bit of a wild card - I'm not really 100% sure of his intentions or his motives for anything, and I'm not sure that I trust him completely either. We'll see - I'll be reading Hallowed next and everything could change!

I loved the setting of Jackson Hole, Wyoming for this book. I am familiar with this area from traveling, and I have enough memories of the area that I can visualize these scenes, and I LOVED that. Between characterization, setting, and the incredible angel mythology of this book, I loved this first book in the Unearthly series. I'm eager to continue with the next book.

If you have not begun to read this series yet, I urge you to start it soon! There is no time better than the present, particularly since the series is coming to an end! I recommend it for fans of YA paranormal stories involving angels, fans of romance, and fans of books containing stories of free will vs. destiny. There is a fairly solid love triangle thrown in there as well. 


Unearthly will appeal to fans of:

YA Paranormal Romance

Romance: HUGE love triangle!
Great Setting

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
is currently available for purchase.


Have you read UNEARTHLY yet? 

If you have, at the end of Unearthly, were you rooting for
Tucker or Christian to win Clara's affections?
At this point, I still can't decide! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Thoughts On: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon & Schuster BYR
Publish Date: May 14, 2013
288 Pages
Source: ARC tour

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost may be a distant relative of Robert Frost, but she has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a mystery in her lap—one that might be the key to uncovering the truth behind a town tragedy, she decides to take a chance. -(summary from Goodreads)

Golden by Jessi Kirby

My Thoughts:  This is the first time I've read any of Jessi Kirby's work, although I've always read glowing things about her work. Verdict: I loved Golden and I'll definitely be reading the others books when I can get my hands on them.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Parker is feeling the pressure. 
17-year-old Parker is at the top of her graduating class. She's the finalist for the prestigious Cruz-Farnetti Scholarship (which she desperately needs) and her mother is pressuring her like crazy to do things her way. The problem is this: as her remaining high school days tick by, Parker isn't so sure she wants to do things her mother's way. Maybe she wants to make some of her own decisions and decide let Parker decide what Parker wants to do with her life. (Yeah! Way to go, Parker!)   

There are other pressures, too. Parker is what we tend to call a 'goody-two-shoes' - she always goes by the rules. She never breaks them. She never pushes the envelope. She never stays out late, never breaks curfew, never skips class, never flirts too heavily, never does anything outside of her perfectly planned-out life. Parker is a little afraid that one little slip-up will send all of her hard work down the drain, and certainly there is some risk to that. Deeper down, though, down in her heart of hearts - what exactly is Parker so afraid of? Is she afraid of getting her heart broken? Or is she afraid of failure? 

Parker's best friend, the fun-loving Kat, is always trying to get her to loosen up a little bit. After all, if she doesn't live a little bit now, when will she? Before long, Parker will be gone off to college, all grown up, and she'll have lost her chance to enjoy this precious time in her life. She'll have lost her chance with Trever Collins. And she won't live anywhere close to Kat anymore, because they both know that Kat is not headed down the same path that Parker is...

The clock is ticking if Parker wants to seize the day before she graduates.

The second thing you need to know is this:
Parker finds something special.

Parker assists Mr. Kinney, one of the best English teachers ever. Mr. Kinney gives all of his seniors a notebook with a special assignment: fill it up with honest answers to a question and hand it back in to him after the assignment is completed. Then, after ten years, Mr. Kinney mails the notebook back to them so they can read their previous answers and see the life they had imagined for themselves ten years earlier. The question is this:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

One of Parker's jobs as TA is to search for current addresses and mail these notebooks back to their previous owners. During this task, Parker comes across the sealed notebook of Julianna Farnetti, after whom one-half of the above-mentioned scholarship is named. Julianna and her boyfriend disappeared shortly after graduation ten years ago, and they were never found. Parker has a decision to make regarding this notebook - Should she 
track down Julianna Farnetti's family and give them the notebook with Julianna's private thoughts? Should she give it back to Mr. Kinney? Should she read it? YES! Yes, she decides to read it.

Parker cannot believe the story that unfolds in the pages of Julianna Farnetti's journal. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
Parker takes a chance! She does. 
Parker Frost decides to take a chance. And one chance leads to another chance. And before long, Parker's life is snowballing with these crazy decisions! Soon, she's involving her best friend Kat and Trevor Collins, her maybe/maybe-not crush (Parker, take this chance too! Take. It.). There are last minute decisions and bags packed haphazardly and road trips and all sorts of crazy-fun, spur-of-the-moment things. Parker Frost crams a bunch of "taking chances" into a relatively short amount of time, and it is a HUGE risk. And it is good for her. Right? 


Oh my gosh, this book. 

Golden by Jessi Kirby was like the warm, Southern sunshine in the springtime. It was not too much and it was not too little. It was the perfect amount of everything. I was reading this book and I didn't want to move an inch until I was finished with the story. I wanted to soak every bit in. And THAT is exactly how I feel everytime I sit in the Southern sunshine in the springtime.

These characters - Parker, Kat, Trevor, Julianna, and the rest of them - are expertly written. They're developed and fleshy. They leap right off of these pages and into your head and your heart. They're easy to connect with and visualize. Parker Frost is the student that we've either been or we know: she's lived her life always pleasing other people but never herself. Every one of them have all of these great things about them, but they all have these little quirks or issues, which make them so real.

Parker's ongoing struggle with the pressures of balancing high school with life outside of high school struck such a chord with me. Kirby did such a great job painting a picture of her struggle with wavering back-and-forth between staying with her regimented, routined life and living outside the lines a little bit. When the journal came into the picture, it was so much fun to watch Parker privately begin to rebel - she would read the journal for a few minutes here and there when she should be studying or writing essays (because her mother told her to), but no one would know. No one. Her mother was none the wiser because Parker had always studied and followed the rules before. As Parker became more comfortable with making these tiny decisions for herself, her periods of reading rebelling grew longer and longer until she was suddenly making these impulsive life-changing seize-the-day decisions. It was total coming-of-age, and reading it was totally just like being that age again. It was an absolute joy to read. I hope that readers can really tune into this part of the book because I think that was a huge moment for Parker - learning that part of independence privately, and then going public with it. 

Oh, and the journal! What a fantastic element to weave into the story. Of course - of course - Parker reads the journal. Of course there is information overload because those are Julianna's private thoughts (Julianna never intended for anyone else to see them!) and of course Parker doesn't really know if she can just keep this information to herself. See, the journal has a bit of a mystery in its pages. Parker kind of/maybe/sort of is thinking on trying to solve it...

The mystery element that Jessi Kirby weaves into Parker's story line is this wonderfully gentle and yet complex story-within-a-story. I fell so hard for it, and I think I'll just leave it at that. Not knowing anything about it makes it so much better when you unravel each little layer of information. (I love the direction that the journal took the story. LOVE IT so much. Like, hug the book, love it.)

There is a romance element to this book, and while it isn't necessarily subtle, it isn't the driving force of this contemporary story. Parker has to decide if she wants to take a chance on this boy that has been flirting with her for a while. She has to come to terms with the fact that she's had a crush on him, too. There is another romance story line that is - I dare say - swoony and very sweet. The thing about these romances that is so great is that they do not overshadow the other story lines in the book at all. They're there, hovering in the story, but they let Parker and the other parts of the story take the center stage, and I think that is great. 

If this blog post is sort of vague, I sincerely apologize. Sometimes I have a hard time finding adequate words to talk about the why of loving a book so much - I can only tell you that I did, and that it is wonderful, and that I don't want to spoil it for you. This is a really great coming-of-age contemporary with a mystery element folded in ever-so-gently, and the romances are gentle as well. That's all I really know to say. To some, just the name Jessi Kirby is enough - they will instantly read. To others, I say read this book because I think you'll really like it. 

I recommend Golden by Jessi Kirby to fans of YA contemporaries, fans of mystery, and fans of Jessi Kirby's work. 


Golden will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Mystery
Romance: No triangle, Slowly developing relationship,
First love (There's also a second romance!)
Fantastic Characterization

Golden by Jessi Kirby
will be available for purchase on May 14, 2013.

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. 


Is GOLDEN on your wish-list?

Have you read any of Jessi Kirby's other work?
If so, tell me about it! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

BLOG TOUR! Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: Guest Post + GIVEAWAY!

I'm over the moon to be hosting today's stop on the
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer Blog Tour!

I think we can pretty much all agree that if we've read and loved Cinder, it feels like forever that we've been waiting for it's follow-up, Scarlet. Thank goodness the wait is almost over, everyone! Like many of you, when I read Cinder for the first time, I fell in love. It had so many of the great things I love about fairy-tale re-makes, but  it was in a completely, absolutely never-seen-before new package and 

Well, you guys, Marissa Meyer has done it again. I'm not sure how she was able to top Cinder, but Scarlet is like Cinder-plus-some. This time, she's taken Little Red Riding Hood and given it a makeover. I had no idea I would be able to like this companion book as much as the first one, but I do. Cover-to-cover, it's nothing but fantastic. 

(You can read my thoughts on Scarlet HERE.) 

Author Marissa Meyer has stopped by my blog today to talk about one of my favorite elements of a book: setting! She's discussing the real-life town behind one of her settings from Scarlet.

I'm so happy to have Marissa Meyer talk about this on my little blog because you know how I get squeally great settings. This little town in Scarlet is such a cute, visual, and dreamy place, you guys!


Rieux-Volvestre: The Real-Life Town Behind the Fictional Rieux
By Marissa Meyer

Scarlet takes place in the French countryside. Just saying the words French countryside seems to call up visions of weathered farmhouses, the smell of fresh-baked breads, and the taste of garden-fresh herbs, and—I don’t know about you—but it immediately fills me with a sense of longing. Scarlet herself lives on her grandmother’s farm and runs deliveries to restaurants and grocers in nearby towns.

However, my choice of setting posed a few problems for me when I started writing the book. Namely, I’ve…uh… never been to France. Sure, I had plenty of fantasizes of what rural European towns might be like, but it was still a bit of a crapshoot trying to choose a location that would have that small-town feel I wanted but still allow me the flexibility to be creative.

Lucky for me, my inability to travel to France and explore the countryside myself was somewhat mollified by having connections. My French editor agreed to take an early look at the manuscript and offer feedback on my setting, for which I will be eternally grateful. (Thank you, Xavier!!)

In that early draft, I was using a “placeholder” town called Bessou. I’d found it by spending way too many hours staring at a Google Maps satellite image. Bessou—a real town—seemed small enough that not too many readers would question its legitimacy, and yet close enough to the larger city of Toulouse, which I needed for certain plot points.

However, my French editor wasn’t thrilled with this choice for Scarlet’s hometown. He never explained why, but I wasn’t about to question him.Instead, he pointed me toward a town called Rieux-Volvestre. Population: 2,401.

The wonderful thing about changing the inspiration town to Rieux-Volvestre was that there was a lot more information available about it. In fact, the town has a lovely web site filled with pictures of buildings, both interior and exterior: the time that I was researching there was also a travel documentary detailing one of their town festivals, although that now seems to have been removed.)

In order to maintain distance between fact and fiction, and be able to keep creative control over the setting, I called Scarlet’s town simply “Rieux,” and of course, many of the specific businesses are entirely of my own making (such as the Rieux Tavern where we first meet Wolf, and the nameless parts store filled with everything from tractor engines to spaceship power converters).

But I was able to use the pictures and information I found on Rieux-Volvestre’s web site to get a much better feel for what small town living might be like in France. Buildings fused together, streets became narrower, concrete turned to cobblestone, olive trees spanned the alleyways over arched windows and flower boxes. These are the details that can bring a fictional city to life, after all.

Both Paris and Rieux-Volvestre are now high on my Ultimate Travel Wish List. But in the meantime, I very much enjoyed getting to explore the semi-futurized yet still adorably quaint town of Rieux, France, in the European Federation. I hope readers will too. 

Make sure you check out the rest of the Blog Tour

Monday 1/21   Alexa Loves Books
Tuesday 1/22  Alice Marvels

Wednesday 1/23  Mermaid Vision Books
Thursday 1/24  Into the Hall of Books
Friday 1/25  Supernatural Snark
Saturday 1/26  Anna Reads
Sunday 1/27  A Backwards Story
Monday 1/28  Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday 1/29  The Book Rat
Wednesday 1/30  Makeshift Bookmark
Thursday 1/31  Book Sake
Friday 2/1  Making the Grade
Saturday 2/2  Birth of a New Witch
Sunday 2/3  Two Chicks on Books

Thank you for being here today, Marissa Meyer!
I'm ONCE AGAIN on the edge of my seat for the next book
in the Lunar Chronicles Series, CRESS.

Check out these other websites

Marissa Meyer's Website/Blog 
Marissa Meyer's Tour 
Lunar Chronicles Facebook Fan Page

More Scarlet-Related Information
Have you pre-ordered Scarlet? If you send in your receipt: the first 1,000 people who do will get a Scarlet-branded lip gloss! US only! Details here:
Download the short story Glitches (Lunar Chronicles #0.5): the short story The Queen’s Army (Lunar Chronicles #1.5):
Download the first five chapters of Cinder for free onto your e-reader: the first five chapters of Scarlet for free onto your e-reader:

Author Marissa Meyer & MacMillan Publishing are offering
one paperback copy of CINDER & one hardcover copy of SCARLET
(US/Canada Only) (ends February 6)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!