Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Charmed by Jen Calonita

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky contacted me last week with the exciting news that today would be the cover reveal for Charmed by Jen Calonita, and they invited me to participate!  Happily, I agreed as Flunked was one of my favorite MG reads of 2015.  This is my first cover reveal ever, so here goes…

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The Cover

  Fairy Tale Reform School: Charmed

  Author: Jen Calonita

  Release Date: March 1, 2016

  Publishers: Sourcebook Jabberwocky

 

 

 About Fairy Tale Reform School: Charmed:

Charmed is the exciting sequel to the wildly popular Flunked — second in the brand new Fairy Tale Reform School series where the teachers are (former) villains.

It takes a (mostly) reformed thief to catch a spy. Which is why Gilly Cobbler, Enchantasia’s most notorious pickpocket, volunteers to stay locked up at Fairy Tale Reform School…indefinitely. Gilly and her friends may have defeated the Evil Queen and become reluctant heroes, but the battle for Enchantasia has just begun.

 Alva, aka The Wicked One who cursed Sleeping Beauty, has declared war on the Princesses, and she wants the students of Fairy Tale Reform School to join her.  As her criminal classmates give in to temptation, Gilly goes undercover as a Royal Lady in Waiting (don’t laugh) to unmask a spy…before the mole can hand Alva the keys to the kingdom.

Her parents think Gilly the Hero is completely reformed, but sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

About Jen Calonita:

Jen Calonita has published more than a dozen novels, has seen her works translated into nine languages, and is the recipient of the Louisiana Young Readers Award. When Jen isn’t plotting, she lives in New York with her husband, two sons, and their feisty Chihuahua, Captain Jack Sparrow. Visit Jen at jencalonitaonline.com.

Website

@JenCalonita

Fairy Tale Reform School Facebook

Excerpt from Fairy Tale Reform School: Charmed:

Miri’s voice crackles through the magic mirrors in Fairy Tale Reform School. “Let the first annual Wand What You Want hour begin!”

Wands begin popping up in kids’ hands as we walk through the halls, and we all cheer. Pop! My wand arrives in my hand—long, dark-gray, and nicked like it’s seen a few battles. Hmm…what to try first… I’m just about to test the wand out, when I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Instinct tells me to dive out of the way. When I look up, I see a classmate spelling the troll next to her. The girl turns into an ice sculpture. Geez, that was close. I better stay alert.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Kids begin casting all around me. The crowded hallway is suddenly full of talking woodland creatures, toads, fireworks, and a pretty impressive cloud raining licorice. Kids are cheering and fighting, and the sound of all those wands working is enough to give me a headache. I hurry away from the spell zapping, looking for somewhere to practice alone.

Slurp!

The chaotic hallway disappears behind me, and a new empty hall arrives in its place. I happen to know this hall leads to the school courtyard so I hurry down it and head outside. Ahhh…this is more like it. The warm sun is shining bright high above the castle walls, making me wistful for adventure. I can never sit still for long.

“Pardon the interruption! We hope you are enjoying your wand experience, but remember, all wands disappear at the hour mark so choose your magic wisely,” Miri says. I’m relieved to find no mirror in the courtyard, which means she can’t see what I’m up to. That magic mirror is forever tattling on students for bad behavior. “As a reminder, flying is not advised.”

“Not advised, but she didn’t say it was against the rules,” I say to myself. I flick the wand over my stuffy, uncomfortable pale-blue uniform and turn it into a comfy peasant shirt and pants. I swap out my ugly school shoes for my beloved lace-up boots. Now that I’m comfortable, I get to the task at hand. I’m sure an actual spell would work better, but since I don’t know one, I just imagine myself flying, and Bam! I’m slowly floating up, up, up in the air. Score!

A Pegasus flies by me pulling a coach with four students in it.

Hi, Gilly!” they shout and wave.

When you save your school from a wicked fairy, people tend to remember your name. Even if you don’t remember theirs.

“Hi!” I say, lying back like I’m floating on a cloud. Wow, this is relaxing. I stretch my arms wide and—oops!

My wand falls from my grasp. Uh-oh. I begin to plummet, spinning faster and faster with no sign of stopping. Before I can even think of a way to break my fall, whoosh! I feel my body hit a blanket and bounce up, then land again on a magic carpet.

“Ten minutes into Wand What You Want, and you’re already having a near-death experience?” my friend Jax asks. His curly blond hair looks white in the bright sunlight. He casually

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Book Review: Planetfall by Emma Newman

Planetfall

I was really enjoying this book, and just had to stay up late to make a mad dash to reach the end–to finally find out what happened during the first planetfall exploration, which had only been hinted at throughout the book.  The journey was fascinating, and I liked the mystery and little pieces that were revealed throughout the narrative.
Unfortunately, I was super disappointed in the ending. It felt rushed, disjointed, and was not, at all, what I was expecting, which I usually don’t mind, if it makes sense. In this case, I felt like the last five or so chapters were almost from a different author.
Perhaps my dissatisfaction stems from a personal preference for tidy endings without ambiguity. And since Planetfall has underlying philosophical and religious themes, the ending did follow that thread, but I felt like there was not enough focus on those themes to justify that kind of ending.
The other 3/4 of the book I absolutely enjoyed! The main character is a female 3D printer engineer, who also knows about genetics, is bisexual/lesbian, and later we learn that she is a hoarder. These things make for a wonderfully diverse story in a time when #weneeddiversebooks is on the rise.  The storytelling pulled me in with the knowledge that the main character and the leader of the colony had lied about the death of the original “prophet”, and the mental stress was starting to seriously affect her.

I decided to build a list of pros and cons for this title as some people reading reviews might want the meat in a quick, easy-to-find format.  (What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!)

Pros:

Strong female narrator/protagonist
3D printing and engineering
Addresses hoarding as a mental illness
Future technology that makes sense and is cool
Emotional descriptions were spot on
Characterization worked well
Great worldbuilding for the colony & God’s city

Cons:

Ambiguous ending that didn’t satisfy many of the BIG questions set up in the narrative
Never really addresses the cult-like behavior
Would have liked to know more about the flora and fauna of the planet

The religious and philosophical overtones will fall into different categories for different people, but I don’t think they are insulting, but they are definitely thought-provoking. And, isn’t that what good science fiction does?

A big thanks to Ace/Roc for an advance copy, which I received through the AceRocStars program, in exchange for an honest review.  I chose this title to fulfill one of my November slots as part of the Pub. month challenge.  This book came out just last week, so you should go pick up a copy.  I know I’ll be sharing this with friends over the holidays 🙂

From the publisher:

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

Waiting on Wednesday/Reading Challenge

Today’s post is going to tackle two topics in one as (for me) they are tied very closely right now.

You may remember my post about forming a reading challenge for 2015 that had me reading 2-3 books published per month (read original post here).  I really like this challenge, but since I started it so late, I don’t have enough time left to finish it this year.  However, I have already started building my reading list for 2016, which is where Waiting on Wednesday comes in.  My plan is to take November and December to play catch up for 2015 while also working on January 2016.  I would like to post reviews for all the titles I read, but we’ll see how many I actually get posted in between reading, work, and the holidays 🙂

Here’s my current reading list of 2015 titles with my little annotations!

The Witches of Echo Park (The Witches of Echo Park, #1)

January-Since I just received the sequel to review, this just moved to the top of my list.  Also, the author is the actress who played Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire, #1)

February-I’m currently reading this one and loving the characters!

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

May-I was drawn to this because of its connection to the Arabian Nights, but then I heard the ending just wrecks you, so I’m holding off.  But I do have to read it so I can read the sequel The Rose and the Dagger, which comes out next May.

Uprooted

June-Also reading this one, but I haven’t made it very far yet.

The House of Shattered Wings

August-Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review, so I should work on that.  And, it’s an urban fantasy about angels.

Court of Fives (Court of Fives, #1)

August-This one just sounded really interesting, and Kate Elliott gets good reviews for her adult stuff, so this new YA series felt like it would be a good jumping off point.

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)

September-Read a sampler and fell in love with the character from the prologue, but when I actually got a copy of the book, I found myself resisting.  Must overcome that soon!

A Whole New World (A Twisted Tale #1)

September-Love the concept of an alternate Aladdin, and I have to read it before next year’s Once Upon a Dream, right?

Happily Ever After (The Selection, #0.4, 0.5, 2.5, 2.6)

October-This book kinda feels like cheating since I’ve read some of the stories already as ebooks, but since I’m behind, it totally counts!!

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)

October-I recently read The Young Elites and I must admit that I’m not sold on this series. Perhaps this book will sway me.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

November-My copy cannot get here soon enough!  Why did I try now to experience bookdepository.com?!?

And now for my WAITING ON WEDNESDAY!!

These are my January choices for the 2016 challenge, and I already have advance copies of each, so I can start them as soon as I’m ready!

The Impostor Queen

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

The Last Dream Keeper (The Witches of Echo Park, #2)

Synopsis: In the second Witches of Echo Park novel, one coven must keep the world in balance and stand against a rising darkness.

Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost.

The Night Parade

Synopsis: The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.

But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

Check back tomorrow for my review of Planetfall by Emma Newman.

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The adult coloring book fad is in full-swing, so I thought I might take a look at the touted offerings being marketed for adults.  (I’ve always just made children’s coloring books my own while wishing they were more complex.)  The Time Garden actually has a through story to explain the drawings inside; however, it is so small and flimsy that I found myself wanting more of the story to give it depth or, alternatively, for there to be no words at all.  In either case, the illustrations are the main focus, and they are gorgeously detailed.  You can tell the author/illustrator put a lot of time and effort into these pictures while leaving plenty of space for the reader/artist to create something unique.

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The book itself is printed on a heavier stock of paper, not quite card stock as there’s plenty of bend to the pages.  I haven’t tried out markers to check into bleeding issues, but colored pencils, ink pens, and gel pens worked great.  (Crayons would probably also work if you had the finer tips due to all the little areas in these drawings.)  If you want a flat surface to work on, you have three options. 1. Photocopy/trace the page before coloring.  2.  Tear out the page.  3. Risk breaking the spine.  The spine is not very thick so breakage or bending should not ruin its appearance; however, I found myself annoyed when trying to hold back the pages. There are also plenty of illustrations that have been duplicated, where one side has lots of detail and the other has mostly outlines (see image 1 above).  I liked having the option to create my own version of something the author/illustrator provided. Overall, this is a fantastic coloring book designed for adults who want to relax, be creative, or just have fun!

ABOUT THE TIME GARDEN

A dazzlingly beautiful coloring book for all ages, The Time Garden will sweep you away into a whimsical cuckoo clock–inspired world, created in intricate pen and ink by the internationally best-selling Korean artist Daria Song. Then, explore the magical world outside the clock through the eyes of a fairy in the sequel, The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book.

Journey through the doors of a mysterious cuckoo clock into its inky inner workings to discover a magical land of clock gears, rooftops, starry skies, and giant flying owls—all ready for you to customize with whatever colors you can dream up.

Cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll wonder, was it all a dream?

The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DARIA SONG is an author and artist with a master’s degree in fiber arts from the Ewha Womans University Graduate School of Fine Arts. Winner of the Kyung Hyang Arts Contest, Song has exhibited at numerous galleries and museums in Korea, Singapore, Turkey, and Hong Kong. She is a lecturer at the Kaywon School of Arts and her illustrations can be found in Amore Pacific and SK Planet. She spent five years of her childhood in San Francisco before returning to Korea, and the sense of wonder and mystery that comes from living in a far-off place inspired her internationally best-selling adult coloring book, The Time Garden.I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.Don’t forget to check out the newly released sequel, The Time Chamber.

The Time Chamber by Daria Song