Monday, July 23, 2012

Author Reply: Alethea Kontis

It's always nice when authors take the time to respond to what I send them. Alethea Kontis somehow managed to find this blog and comment on it! I thought that was pretty cool. So, if you're interested, just check out this post.

Next book: Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Alethea Kontis: "Then quit dwelling on other people's stories and make up some of your own."

I described this book to one of my friends as "The Frog Prince on steroids." Interestingly, it could also be described as "Cinderella on steroids" or "Jack & the Beanstalk on steroids" or many other fairy tales on steroids. You see, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Amazon) is one of those books that is the result of taking a bunch of fairy tales and mashing them together until a brand new story comes out. I tend to like those sorts of books. If you don't, then stay away!

The story is about Sunday Woodcutter, youngest of seven sisters (yes, they're all named after days of the week), daughter to the youngest of seven sisters and youngest of seven sons. Such a huge amount of sevens can only mean one thing: Sunday is magical and fated to greatness. However, all she knows is that she's fated to be "blithe and bonny and good and gay," for all of her sisters have followed the Monday's Child nursery rhyme predictions (Wikipedia, for if you're unaware of the rhyme). One day, Sunday meets a frog in the woods, and from then on her life is never quite the same.

Definitely a fun little tale, though not especially complex. There were a few parts I found confusing-it seemed like characters found out the same information twice, needlessly. However, overall I completely enjoyed myself. Plus, it's a another book with a pretty dress on the cover (my second in two posts!). Who could resist?

Alethea Kontis has a small form available on her website, so I wrote her a quick note:

"I just finished reading "Enchanted" and I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed it! I have a soft spot for reinvented fairy tales, making your book a really fun read for me.

Good luck with your future writing!"

I have lots more books to read, so hopefully there will be another post soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kiera Cass: "But I guessed she would never stop wanting more for me, more from me. Maybe that's what mothers did."

I am infatuated with The Selection by Kiera Cass (Amazon). I'm not even joking. I stayed up super late to read it, and then I immediately got online to check when the sequel is coming out. Unfortunately, it won't be coming out until Spring of 2013 BUT there is also a TV show in the works. So, needless to say, I'm pretty excited.

So, what is The Selection? Think America's Next Top Model meets The Hunger Games. The book is set in a dystopian future, where a caste system and royalty exist. Each time a prince needs to find a princess, a contest is set up. 35 girls are chosen to live in the palace and compete for the Prince's affections. I suppose it's actually more like The Bachelor, but I've never seen that show, so I'm going to stick with my America's Next Top Model analogy. EDIT: After my initial post, I found an article referring to the proposed TV series as "The Hunger Games Meets The Bachelor." So, I guess my analogy isn't as original as I had hoped. Oh well!

The main character is America Singer, a member of the 5th caste (the artist caste, and rather low on the totem pole). She happens to be one of the only girls in the country who doesn't want to be a princess. You see, she's already in love with somebody else-and to make matters worse, he's in a lower caste than her. However, at the urging of everyone around her, she still enters the competition.

It's hard to explain why I loved The Selection so much. To me, it really did feel like an original idea, and that is always wonderful to experience. I think it's also because the book dances on the edge of cliche, but usually manages to avoid it. Kiera Cass did a great job at characterizing the girls being selected, and America Singer's telling of her experience is believable and endearing.

To my pleasant surprise, Kiera Cass has both a regular mailing address and a web form available. I decided to send her something in the web form. Here it is:

"I just finished reading The Selection. I stayed up all night reading it (and was pleased to find my reading-style referenced in your Acknowledgments). Honestly, I completely fell in love with it. Confession: I immediately got on my computer to find out when the sequel is coming out. Imagine my disappointment when I found I had to wait another year! But, seeing the news about the TV show definitely helped to ease the blow. 

Good luck with your writing & with your pregnancy."

If you want to see more information about The Selection series, definitely check out Kiera Cass' website,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Extra Reading

Sometimes I stumble across interesting book-related articles or blogs, and so I figured it might be cool to highlight some of them here. Here we go!

Have you noticed a trend among book covers lately? This article discusses some book cover trends and the reasoning behind them.

Searching for the perfect beach book, but not interested in the stereotypical "trashy" beach novel? Check out the suggestions in this article.

Glee lover? Make sure you pick of Chris Colfer's new novel. Check out a short article about it here.

Read any good articles (or books) lately? Feel free to post below.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Holly McQueen: "This is the Look that will catapult me out of the realms of assistanthood and into the top echelons of celebrity wedding planning."

Sometimes you just want to read some chick lit. Confetti Confidential by Holly McQueen (Amazon) certainly fits that bill. It tells the story of Isabel Bookbinder as she tries to become a Top Wedding Planner. This is not the first Isabel Bookbinder book, but you don't need to read the others to understand or enjoy this one.

Isabel is an optimistic woman who does her best to not let mistakes get her down. However, if you're the kind of person who hates reading about embarrassing moments, this book probably isn't for you. But if you want to read about a likable woman doing her best to become a Top Wedding Planner, then this book is exactly what you're looking for!

No contact information for Holly McQueen, unfortunately.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Christopher S. Wren: "The cat arrived with a bottle of Scotch."

If you are a cat lover, you need to read The Cat Who Covered the World by Chrisptoher S. Wren (Amazon). It tells the story of Henrietta, a "plucky, indispensable companion" to foreign correspondent Christopher S. Wren and his family. Henrietta traveled with the Wren family for years, from the USSR to South Africa, and she had plenty of adventures of the way.

Honestly, this book was completely delightful. It was vaguely reminiscent of the kind of books where cats help solve crimes, but it's written about a real cat, one who was much more concerned with making friends around the world than solving grisly murders. Sometimes it's nice to just read real stories about real animals.

I'm fairly disappointed that there isn't any contact information available for the author. I would love to write to him and tell him how much I enjoyed this book. Oh well!

I'm not sure which book I'll read next, but I'll hopefully post again soon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book List

Hello everyone! I'm really excited to be back in the swing of blogging-though I'm probably not going to get back up to my book-a-day rate of the past. However, I've been buying books like crazy and I figured I'd give you a peek at some of the books on my "To be Read" list.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Amazon)

This book has been on my list for a really long time. I was planning on getting it out of the library a few months ago, but I ended up not being able to find it.

From the review on Amazon: "But Valente's fairytale broods and seethes, and it is not always such a nice place. For every velocipede herd thundering across the plain, ridden by a marvelous fairy in aviator's leathers and jodhpurs, there's a whipped blue water-djinn who bears the emotional scars of slavery. For every autumn kingdom filled with fiery sylvan alchemists, there is a political exile in the winter country, banished and sorrowing. For every brave sacrifice from September's companions, there's an abandoned soap golem that wishes the good queen would restore Fairyland to its glory."

Really, it sounds like quite the book, and I'm really looking forward to finally reading it.

Confetti Confidential by Holly McQueen (Amazon)

Sometimes you just need some light, summer reading. Confetti Confidential, about a fashion designer turned wedding planner, seems to fit that bill. I like alternating between "guilty pleasure" reading and heavier, more serious novels.

The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean (Amazon)

This is actually an educational book. However, Sam Kean has been described as "one of America's smartest and most charming science writers." (National Public Radio Michael Schaub). To me, it seems reminiscent of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything (Amazon), a book that I read a long time ago and enjoyed.

So there you have it! A taste of the books I'll be reading over the next few weeks. These aren't all of the books I have in store, but I thought these might interest you.

Also, I updated the 'Books I've Read" page, so be sure to check it out. And remember: If you click on any of the Amazon links and then make a purchase-any purchase-through Amazon, I'll get a small portion of it. So... if you're planning on making a purchase on Amazon, click one of my Amazon links before navigating to whatever it is you want to buy!

If you have any books you think I should read, make sure to comment and let me know!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gillian Flynn: "Extra space is always good."

The back of Sharp Objects (Amazon) by Gillian Flynn has a quote from Stephen King. It is rather long, but one part particularly stood out to me. "...after the lights went out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave."

I haven't gone to bed yet, but I imagine I'll face a similar experience. Sharp Objects surprised me. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but what I got was something dark and addictive and entrancing. If you've read my blog before, you may have noticed I have a soft spot for books about small towns and their inhabitants. However, I usually tend to go for "fluffier" book. Chick lit, if you will. Sharp Objects was the exact opposite of that. It's about a reporter, Camille Preaker, who returns to her small town to cover the murders of two young girls. While that might seem dark enough, that's only the beginning. Camille is haunted by a dark past-a bad relationship with her mother, a dead sister. And before long, she begins to wonder if returning to her hometown was really the best idea.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I even thought I had guessed the answer to some of the mysteries throughout it, but it turns out I was never completely right. If you love murder mysteries or crime dramas, this book is definitely for you. However, it is not for the faint of heart. It also may be triggering for those who struggle with self harm.

Gillian Flynn has contact info available on her website,, so I decided to send her an email. Here it is:
"I just finished reading Sharp Objects, and I wanted to write to you to tell you that it's one of those scary-good books. It was definitely disturbing, but... elegantly disturbing, if you know what I mean. I was definitely impressed with the way you handled such dark subject matter. I really couldn't put the book down. I'll have to check out some of your other novels soon too."

Anyway, that's all I have for tonight. I have a few more books that I bought over the past few days, so expect another post soon.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tyra Banks: "What in the hell was that?"

 Hello everybody! I'm back! And with a hell of a book. Modelland by Tyra Banks (Amazon). That's right, Tyra Banks wrote a book. It's about an alternate reality, with thinly veiled references to the real world (Capucchina = Italy, for instance). In this world, models (known as Intoxibellas) have super powers. For instance, the power of Thirty Never means when a girl reaches thirty, she will begin to look eighteen again, and the cycle will continue until she perishes. In this world, girls are chosen to attend Modelland, where they learn how to become supermodels. Not everyone who attends Modelland becomes an Intoxibella, making it strikingly similar to a certain television show...

I feel like I'm doing a poor job of describing this book. There is really a lot to it. I think that the best description is probably Harry Potter meets modeling, with an overuse of adjectives. Now, this book is fluff, pure and simple. To me, at least. However, I could certainly see how Tookie De La Creme, self dubbed Forgetta-Girl, could be an inspiring heroine to younger girls. But there are also a few weird aspects-for instance, there is a vague anti-male tone. I think it's just supposed to teach young girls to be independent, but there are times it borders on strange.

Really, if any of this sounds intriguing to you, Modelland is actually worth a read. Though it's a bit ridiculous, the fanciful nature is addictive in the same way chick lit or trashy TV can be. 

I briefly tried to find contact information for Tyra Banks, but it was fruitless. Oh well! 

I'm going to try to start writing more frequently again. See you soon!