Review: Doodletopia: Manga: Draw, Design, and Color Your Own Super-Cute Manga Characters and More by Christopher Hart

Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Watson-Guptill
When I saw Doodletopia: Manga as one of the options for review on Blogging for Books, I was reminded of my early foray into drawing manga.  Christopher Hart has contributed quite a few series to this area and has chosen to feature  several different artists in each work.  And while I don’t care for his personal, simplistic manga drawing style, I appreciate his support of the art and the young artists reading his books.
Manga Mania: How to Draw Japanese Comics

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Throwback Thursday: Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

Rose and the Lost Princess (Rose, #2)

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

*This review was part of a blog tour when the book first came to America*

Welcome to the last stop on the Rose and the Lost Princess blog tour!  I reviewed this book from an ARC through NetGalley and was contacted by the publisher to be a part of the blog tour.   I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity and would like to reward my followers with a giveaway!  The publisher will send a final copy to 1 winner, who will be chosen one week from today (May 25, 2014).  I will randomly chose someone from my followers list, so make sure to follow me 🙂

Rose and the Lost Princess starts immediately where Rose left off in the scene where Rose is trying to relax in the drawing room with the other rescued children, just before Mr. Fountain offers to take Rose as an apprentice.  She accepts on the condition that she keep her job as housemaid; however, the staff treats her differently (except Bill) and the townsfolk are scared and angry at all magicians for the actions of one.

Holly Webb did a fantastic job at carrying her story fluidly from one book to the next.  I enjoyed digging a little deeper into the life and work of Mr. Fountain at the palace while also getting to know a bit more about the royal family, and the princesses in particular.  This book was fun to read, but I think that older readers (and adults) would find it more enjoyable if sharing it with a younger reader.  Webb knows how to move the story along, and the read will be quick, so make sure you can read it all in one sitting!

June and July Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

Summer has been a really busy time for me, so here’s two months of new releases that I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

This Savage Song  (Monsters of Verity, #1)

This Savage Song and MyLady Jane were two books I probably wouldn’t have picked up if I hadn’t tried out OwlCrate after visiting their booth at BookCon16.  But they both look very interesting.

My Lady Jane

The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)

This book sounds like an interesting parallel world story, and I haven’t read any of those in a while so thought I’d give this one a try.

Julia Vanishes

After reading the sampler included in one of my FanMail subscription boxes, I was hooked on Julia Vanishes.  I should have a review of this one up soon though as I’m reading it for the #ReadThemAllThon challenge.

Reliquary

The description for Sarah Fine’s newest novel reminded me of The Magicians tv show, which I really enjoyed.

And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1)

My excitement for this book has waned now that I’ve read some reviews and learned that this is actually historical fiction (albeit alternative history) instead of fantasy as it seemed to be marketed as.  It still sounds interesting though since it’s about a female version of Vlad the Impaler.

The Shadow Hour (The Girl at Midnight, #2)

Having recently read The Girl at Midnight, I’m excited to read the sequel to see where the story and the characters go next.

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1)

I received an advanced copy of this one through the AceRocStars, and it sounds like a fascinating new take on dragons and magical powers.

The Transference Engine

There’s a mechanical hummingbird on the front of this steampunk novel.  Need I say more?

Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2)

Ink and Bone is one of my favorite library-related fantasies, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

What about you?  What came out in June and July that you’re excited to read?

 

 

Top Ten Things I Don’t Like About Covers

As promised, here’s the counterpart to last week’s Top 10.  Here I have some examples of covers that I don’t like with explanations about what upsets me.  These are definitely all personal taste/artistic reasons so feel free to disagree (without being nasty please) in the comments below.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

 

Last week, I shared how much I liked the new cover for Throne of Glass.  Well, here’s the original.  Even though I liked the synopsis, this cover really threw me off.  It’s such an awkward pose, and the knife on her arm isn’t doing anything.  I’m really glad this cover went away.

 

 

 

 

 

The Elite (The Selection, #2)

 

 

As much as I liked the cover for The Selection, I hated this cover.  This red dress looks horrible and almost looks like someone photoshopped in on a computer instead of a real person wearing a real dress.  The color is great, but that dress…

 

 

 

 

Sunshine

 

 

One of several covers for this title, the close up of a single eye isn’t that intriguing to me.  I like the color, glimmer, and swirlies, but the eye almost screams horror, which doesn’t match all the things I just listed as liking.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)

 

 

I would like this cover better if I didn’t know a better one existed.  The hardcover’s original cover featured tree branches that curved in such a clever way as to make a sinister face.  I like when covers are clever, so this key is a big let down.

 

 

 

 

 

Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum, #14)

 

 

One of my pet peeves about adult book covers is that the author’s name takes up so much space.  The second one is that adults can have awesome covers too.  We still choose books based on covers, and something like this just looks like a high schooler made it in Word for a computer class.

 

 

 

 

Whirligig

 

 

 

This cover makes me extremely uncomfortable, and I’m not sure why.  It matches the book and the title really well, but something just makes me feel weird.

 

 

 

 

 

The Peripheral

 

 

Maybe this cover matches the actual book, but I can’t make that connection as I haven’t read it.  This is just boring.  I wonder if it has a secondary cover with die cut words; however, there needs to be more cut outs to grab my attention.

 

 

 

 

Poison Study (Study, #1)

 

 

One more alternate cover, then I’ll stop 🙂

I mentioned yesterday that Poison Study underwent several cover iterations.  This one was for the YA specific release, and while I like the vines, they don’t share anything about the story or characters they’re covering.

 

 

 

 

The Night Dance: A Retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (Once Upon a Time)

 

 

I understand why publisher aren’t showing full people on covers, and I understand showing partial faces.  What I don’t understand is why they decide to focus on the front torso of young women.  Have you noticed it’s mostly busty/hourglass girls?  And when a male is shown, he’s topless?  At least this one has another image on the bottom.

 

 

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

 

 

This is an eye-catching cover, and I love the blue.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t speak much to the story.  It could be a metaphor for the characters, who all seem to be hiding something.  But you really have to dig deep for this cover to tell you about the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lotus and Thorn

 

 

Here’s a bonus cover:  I actually really like this cover.  The colors, the image, the font all work together and give an impression of the actual book.  However, and this is nitpicky, the main character has six fingers on each hand.  It doesn’t appear that the model was altered to show that fact though, and it would have been pretty easy for a big publisher like Penguin.  I guess I was just disappointed by this oversight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway and Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich #ReadThemAllThon

And the Trees Crept In

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
OK. First off, this was one of the books I chose for the #ReadThemAllThon featured by Read at Midnight.  If you remember, I picked it for the Cascade Badge as a book that might make me cry at instead of crying tears.  Well, it did both.
The story was intriguing, and the writing was well done.  However, I really struggled to finish this book.  I had picked it up because I loved Dawn Kurtagich’s debut book, The Dead House, from last year.  That book was borderline horror/thriller and was created using various media entries to draw a picture.  This book took a similar approach by utilizing poems, flashbacks, journal entries, and an unreliable/crazy narrator.
Unfortunately, And the Trees Crept In went too far down the horror path for my liking.  It made my stomach churn (physically not just mentally).  The story was enough to keep me going to the end (as well as the reading challenge), but this is not something that I will ever want to reread in the future.  It just… I don’t know, really upset my mental state, which is the exact opposite from the whole point of reading, for me anyway.
The ending was an interesting twist that, on one hand, I liked and it helped my mental disassociation for finishing.  On the other hand, it felt a little too much like a dream sequence.  (It wasn’t, in case you’re worried.)  But it did make it feel like I had wasn’t energy on the negative feelings for not a good reason.
I completely understand that these are my own feelings, and I know there are plenty of readers who will greatly enjoy and appreciate all the points I just listed as assets to the story.  Which is why I’m hosting a giveaway for an advanced uncorrected proof to one lucky reader!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summary:

A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead Houseauthor Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

 

And now for the Pokemon math!  I finished reading this book, which totals 35 CP for 352 pages + 20 CP for finishing + 20 CP for posting a review.  Add in the three Twitter posts, and I get another 6 CP.  For a final total of 81 CP, which brings my Dratini to 91 CP and on its way to evolving into a beautiful dragonair.

trainer

Next on my reading list is Sign of the Crescent by Debbie Federici and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.  I hope these go more quickly, or I definitely won’t finish the challenge on time!

Throwback Thursday: Rose by Holly Webb

Rose (Rose, #1)

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

A young orphan is chosen to become a maid in the house of an alchemist, Mr. Fountain, but as she learns her duties around the house, she becomes aware of the magic that permeates it.  Magic that the other staff can’t see or feel.  Not long after she starts work, news comes that children are disappearing off the street, and Rose soon finds herself looking for a missing orphan friend.

I received this book from the publisher in anticipation of the sequel’s release and blog tour.  (Look for my review here with a giveaway of Rose and the Lost Princess on May 18!)

Originally published in the UK, there are numerous facets of this book built towards a UK audience; however, since the story is set in a magic-filled Victorian England, there is no required fore-knowledge.  Especially since the author takes plenty of time to set up the orphanage and the world building around Rose.  The rest of the world beyond Rose is absent except for the occasional passing mention.  For example, since Rose lived at an orphanage too poor to afford magic, there is no mention of magic at all before she learns of her new master’s position, but Rose brushing this information to the side with very little concern until she discovers she might have a magical side.

The pacing for this book flowed so well, I didn’t realize I was halfway through the book the first night I picked it up.  The villain was incredibly creepy and reminded me of the Elizabeth Bathory legend, but that plot point seemed to come from almost nowhere as there was very little build up.  The climax of the story made sense though and left the reader with a sense of wanting more from these characters and this world.  I look forward to finishing Rose and the Lost Princess.

This title is especially suited for young readers who enjoyed the movie Annie or the Harry Potter series and for those who enjoy reading something light now and then.

Top Ten Things I Like About Covers

It’s been awhile since my last Top Ten, so today I wanted to talk about things I like about covers.  Next week, I’ll share what I don’t like about covers.

Covers are a fantastic marketing tool, and everyone knows the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” even it we don’t follow it.  I’ve seen plenty of lists on blogs, GoodReads, and other social media where people have discussed what they like and don’t like, and I mostly agreed with what other people are saying but wanted to share some specific examples.

Here’s some of my favorite covers with why I am drawn to them!  Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments about what you like and dislike about the following covers.

Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2)

 

This cover was just revealed TWO WEEKS AGO!  And while I liked the first book’s cover, A Promise of Fire, this one is even more striking.  The model’s pose doesn’t look stiff or impossible, and those blues really pop.  I don’t know much about Greek clothing, but this matches what little I have read about, so kudos for matching the outfit to the setting as well.

 

 

 

 

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

 

 

Here’s a cover that’s non-gender specific, so hopefully even more people will read and enjoy this story.  I like that the symmetry is actually asymmetrical because it keeps bringing my eyes back to the cover.  Plus, I have a soft spot for wings, especially butterflies & moths.

 

 

 

 

Beneath the Fall

 

 

With this cover, I like both the font and the color contrasts.  Paring warmer purples with a splash of red is visually stunning, and when you add in the interesting font of title and series, you get an eye-grabbing cover.  Also, the art style matches the 40 full-color illustrations on the inside!

 

 

 

 

Shadow Magic

 

 

Here’s another cover that features contrast and great font; however, I really like the image on this one.  The characters have enough definition to be recognizable, but the shadowy aspect of the figures still allows the reader to fill in those details while reading.

 

 

 

 

Artemis Awakening

 

 

I can’t quite describe what I like about this cover, just that it draws me in.  And I like cats. And swirling patterns.  And Jane Lindskold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

 

 

There’s a lot of hate for ballgown covers, but I think that was mostly because it became a trend and showed up on books that had no ballgown described or situations that called for them.  I do like these kinds of covers when it matches the story inside the book though.  Especially this one 🙂

 

 

 

 

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

 

 

This was not the original cover!  I was much happier with this one because it lent itself to the plot so much better.  And it’s more visually appealing.  The rest of the stories followed this example with a dressier version of the character shown on the back cover.

 

 

 

 

 

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

 

 

The like the juxtaposition and manifestation of good and evil on this cover.  The detail for both Schools is exquisite and interesting.  This book also had lineart throughout the text, which I enjoyed while reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Poison Study (Study #1)

 

 

I really liked the original cover for Poison Study back when Luna was still an imprint with Harlequin.  It gave a better sense of the setting and world building aspects.  The YA cover wasn’t terrible, just extremely vague.  And the new MIRA covers were pretty but featured the main character in long flowing dresses/robes, which never happened in the story.

 

 

 

The High King's Tomb (Green Rider, #3)

 

 

I really like all five of the Green Rider covers, but this one is my absolute favorite due to the fantastic rendering of this black stallion.  It’s such a powerful image and matches the tone and plot of the book.  Great pairing!

 

 

 

 

 

Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (Mercy Thompson #0.1, #0.6, #0.8, #1.5, #4.5, #5.5, #7.4)

 

 

The artist that creates the covers for the Mercy Thompson series does a great job with the subject matter.  I love the attention to detail and the backgrounds.  I do wish he was more consistent with the portrayal of Mercy’s tattoos, but otherwise the covers do a great job of introducing the reader to the story inside.

Throwback Thursday: Willow: Wonderland by Jeff Parker and Christos Goage

Willow: Wonderland

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: WillowWonderland
Script: Jeff Parker and Christos Gage
Pencils: Brian Ching
Inks: Jason Gorder
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s  Jimmy Betancourt

Reviewed from NetGalley ARC

Rating: R    Creative Must

Just months after Buffy destroys the seed of magic in order to save the world (again), Willow starts to notice changes all around her. Her friends just think she misses the power she had when magic was around; however, power is not the only thing missing.  Rainbows only have two colors, no one can hit a note, suicide rates are rising, and creativity is slowly deteriorating.  As she leaves to find a solution, Willow explores new dimensions and herself while confronting her past.  Giant worms try to eat her; she’s drugged and kept pliant; a large blue caterpillar gives her magic memory water; the protagonist overcomes the challenges that hamper her on the way to her goal–finding or creating a pipeline of magic that flows back to Earth.

Any Buffyverse fan will enjoy this side-trip that features Willow the witch and her delicate relationship with magic.  The artists rendered highly detailed comic-style graphics, which allows the reader to better visualize the fantastical landscapes, which the characters jump between during their quest.  Many of the characters play no bigger part than to reaffirm the protagonist’s inner monolog as she tries to find the root of her magic anxieties.  Fortunately, Willow didn’t come across as whiny, which is a recurring problem when other authors portray self-doubt and misery.  To best understand this iteration of Buffy, the reader needs to have a working knowledge of the seven season television program and the Season 8 comic series.  Reading Season 9, Faith & Angel, and even Spike’s side story will give the reader an even deeper appreciation for Willow’s journey to bring magic back to Earth.  By the end of this graphic novel, the reader will wonder how many hidden references were included.  The many clues about where Season 9 will take the fan base as Joss Whedon’s brain child continues to grow in unpredictable ways are fun to search out.

This book would make a great addition to any collection.  Libraries will be glad to have another strong female character as well as an adventure fantasy that features soul searching and self-confidence.  Physical battles amongst mental challenges make this a great read and a worthy addition to the Buffyverse.

The Sight Blog Tour, Interview + Giveaway!

This week I’m participating in the Chloe Neill blog tour for her newest release, the sequel to The Veil.  And while I haven’t yet read this series, I’m super excited to pick it up very soon!  At the bottom of this post you’ll find the grand prize giveaway from Chloe Neill herself with lots of cool stuff.  Check it out!

thesight

Paperback
Expected publication: August 16th 2016 by NAL Trade

AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndiebound, or iBooks

The paranormal war that engulfed New Orleans seven years ago is over.  But the battle for the city is just beginning . . .

Claire Connolly is a Sensitive, infected with magic when the Veil that divides humanity from the world beyond fell. Magic can easily consume and destroy a Sensitive, and if Claire’s secret is discovered she’ll be locked into the walled district of Devil’s Isle along with every other Paranormal left in the city.

Bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered Claire’s secret, but refused to turn her in. Together they saved New Orleans from the resurgence of magic that nearly destroyed it. But now a dangerous cult is on the rise, and it will take both Claire and Liam—and magical allies within Devil’s Isle’s towering walls—to defeat the occult threat before magic corrupts them both…

I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Chloe Neill as part of this blog tour, and I’m excited to share her answers here!

Q: What was your inspiration for the Devil’s Isle series?

A: I have always loved New Orleans, and really wanted to set a series there. I’ve also been wanting to write a book with a southern gothic feel, and to explore the idea of a paranormal prison, where it’s sometimes not clear who our enemies are. THE VEIL was the result of blending up those ideas.

Q: How do you try to set your books apart from other titles in the genre?

A: I don’t think I consciously try to set my books apart. I do try, though, to be true to the characters and the setting.  I want people to get a sense of New Orleans, even if they’ve never been there, and to relate to the characters. I always try to be true to the characters, to make their actions and fears and joys be consistent with who they are.

Q: Why did you choose New Orleans for this series?

A: New Orleans is a very complicated city–with amazing food and architecture and culture, but also poverty and crime and corruption. I love to write about complicated cities (Chicago is one, too), as they give me a lot to work with.

Q: How many books are planned for Devil’s Isle?

A: There are three books under contract right now.

Q: What other projects are you working on right now?

A: I’m currently editing BLADE BOUND, the last Ethan and Merit Chicagoland vampires novel.  I’ll start writing PHANTOM KISS, next the January 2017 Ethan and Merit novella.  Also in the works is my new Chicagoland Vampires spinoff!

Thanks for having me!

The fun doesn’t stop here. Want more chances to win? You can also enter Chloe’s Grand Prize Giveaway, which will run August 8 through August 19 on Chloe’s web site.

What’s included in the Grand Prize Giveaway?