Waiting on Wednesday: The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

The Call

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2016 by David Fickling Books
Here’s a book that I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t attended BEA16.  I had wondered over to the Scholastic booth to inquire about The Sleeping Prince, and the lady I spoke with suggested I might like to try The Call, and I’m glad I did.  (I really wish I had gotten her card, so I could thank her properly!)  At the time, I had recently finished reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, and when she was describing the “evil” Sidhe fae, I was reminded of how Maas’ fae also returned to the original tales, where the fae were petty and cruel.  No Tinker Bell’s here!
If I had any complaints, it would be that the descriptions of what the fae did to their hunt victims was just a bit too graphic.  However, these go a long way to show the reader how horrible everything is instead of just telling us.  The author did a great job showing instead of telling throughout the whole book, actually.  It was incredible engrossing, if disgustingly creative, and I finished the whole book in two sittings.  I enjoyed the fact that the main character had a physical disability, but that she was also able to hold on to hope through sheer determination and willpower.  It felt believable in an otherwise hopeless scenario.  I also enjoyed the world building.  There was so much going on with the survival schools, the students, the realm the fae live in, and it worked well together to create a fantastic whole.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I did want to talk about it a little bit.  I think the author successfully puts forth a question within a larger narrative, and this book answers that question while still leaving the larger narrative lots of room to grow and expand upon the many, multiple other questions that are raised by the answering of the original question.  (This statement will make far more sense once you’ve read the book!)
I have already started alerting friends to watch out for this book, and one friend has already borrowed my copy.  This book may not be for everyone, but anyone who has an interest in the original fae stories, horror, dark fantasy, or thrillers is bound to love The Call.

Summary:

The Hunger Games meets horror in this unforgettable thriller where only one thing is certain . . . you will be Called.

Thousands of years ago, humans banished the Sidhe fairy race to another dimension. The beautiful, terrible Sidhe have stewed in a land of horrors ever since, plotting their revenge . . . and now their day has come.

Fourteen-year-old Nessa lives in a world where every teen will be “Called.” It could come in the middle of the day, it could come deep in the night. But one instant she will be here, and the next she will wake up naked and alone in the Sidhe land. She will be spotted, hunted down, and brutally murdered. And she will be sent back in pieces by the Sidhe to the human world . . . unless she joins the rare few who survive for twenty-four hours and escape unscathed.

Nessa trains with her friends at an academy designed to maximize her chances at survival. But as the days tick by and her classmates go one by one, the threat of her Call lurks ever closer . . . and with it the threat of an even more insidious danger closer to home.

 

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Manic Monday: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Heroine Complex

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 5th 2016 by DAW
As we approach county fair season, I’ve been devoting more time and energy to creating entries, but I had to take a time out to finish reading this book!  I first discovered this book because of the cover artist, Jason Chan.  Many of you may know him from his many other cover creations, including Jay Kristoff’s Lotus War series, or from Magic the Gathering card art.  Heroine Complex starts in the middle of the scene depicted on the cover, kicking cupcake demon butt in San Francisco.  From there the snark and sass just ooze off the page as the demons racket up their obnoxious plan to take over the city.
 I really enjoyed this take on superheroes as we delved into the everyday tasks and relationships that are behind the scenes of every successful hero/heroine.  The relationship emotions were well-defined and truthful to the situations being described throughout the book.  They were occasionally rushed and maybe not quite built into the characters as early as they should be, but the emotions were genuine and matched the respective characters.  I was especially pleased with the urbanization of language and the pop culture references.  Both of these, and the hokeyness of the villain, played to many of the tropes found in superhero comics and TV shows.
The ending was quite satisfactory, but I can’t help wanting more.  These characters were very compelling, and I grew attached to them.  I don’t think there are any planned sequels, but I’m putting out my desire for a companion in the future.  Honestly, you should just put in your pre-order now.  Don’t wait!!

Summary:

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

 

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

BookCon Saturday: Day 4

The last leg of my book convention adventure!!  I was incredibly exhausted when I returned home, so this post is a bit late 😦

Saturday was full of bright spots but was also cluttered with messy planning and horrible lines.  The system for handing out wristbands for author signings was not well policed, and so I was able to only collect one wristband.  (More on that later though.)

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The morning was fairly relaxing as I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be, so I wondered the floor, listening to what people were excited about.  I got into line at the Owlcrate booth (nice long line all day long by the way) and spun the wheel to win an adorable notebook and an Owlcrate tote (so cute!).  Then, I went on a hunt to QuirkECat to enter Quirk Books’ Twitter/Instagram contest and found all four pretty quickly and took my pictures.

At the Anderson’s Bookshop booth, I found a signed copy of Dawn Kurtagich’s The Dead House, which was an amazing story.  The Blue Star Coloring booth was selling their adult coloring books at a discounted price.  There were so many things to see and do.  I sat in on several talks at the Uptown Stage, but my favorite was Truth or Dare with Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer.  They have some awesome chemistry and are a hoot to listen to.

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Which brings back to the wristband signing.  So I knew that Sarah J. Maas would run out of space quickly, so I got in line for Victoria Aveyard.  But, she was out by the time I reached the front of the ridiculous line, so I finally got a place in line to see Marissa Meyer and have her sign my bookplates!!

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She really is quite sweet, and I can’t wait to read her new novel, Heartless.  Well, first I should probably finish Winter, but I don’t want the series to end.  So soon, I will read it soon.  Immediately after leaving Marissa’s line, I went to join the line for Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann.  That line was huge.  It went on for two hours, long past the stated close time.  I guess that was partially because they were signing the sequel to Illuminae, Gemina, but I was completely unaware at just how popular that series had become.  CRAZY!

Once, I collected my signatures, it was far too late to go to the last panel on my list, so I did a little more wandering the show floor.  While doing so, several booths were starting to give away their books as they didn’t want to pack and ship them back to their office.  I collected a few fun titles for other people and a couple for myself.  By then, I was completely wiped out from the whole week’s experience and the crush of people.  And I still wasn’t finished!

Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville was hosting a signing with Sarah J. Maas, and I was going to be there.  Sarah was lovely even as I had her tearing up when I thanked her for writing such genuine representations of hopelessness, PTSD, and depression in A Court of Mist and Fury.  Truly touched my soul, and now I have a fully signed collection of her work up to this point.

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The day ended on a great highlight of the week, and I certainly enjoyed learning more about the book industry.  Hopefully, I’ll get to repeat the experience next year in New York 🙂  I wish you all the best!

 

BEA Friday: Day 3

OK, so Friday was the day of lines.  Waiting in line after line after line after line (short break) after line after line.  It was crazy but productive.  It was also a very long day.  I couldn’t sleep, so I was awake and in the shower around 5 AM, which meant I was ready to go line up for my first wait: ticketed authors.  On Thursday, I was after both Leigh Bardugo and Brandon Mull, but they ran out of Leigh before I reached the front.  Friday, I wanted Marissa Meyer and Danielle Paige.  Unfortunately for me (and many, many other fans), there were definitely not enough tickets for Marissa.  But, I snagged Danielle!  And I met a lovely mother and daughter duo in line.

Then, I went to get breakfast at Starbucks.  Line number three was for the show floor because I didn’t have any morning meetings.  I made a beeline to the Macmillan booth to gather tickets for the signings featuring Leigh Bardugo and Stephanie Garber.  After successfully grabbing those, I went to stand in line for the Black Widow drop at Disney’s booth.  (They had a sampler of the second book from Margaret Stohl, an awesome drawstring bag, and a signed limited edition print.)

Then I had a little bit of a break, so I went on a hunt for the booth with the fun looking book.  When I found it, I was in for a treat and a surprise.IMG_2653

The booth featured this little book called Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff from the series Sunborn Rising.  And not only did they have a book, but they also had Oculus setup to show off an early version of the videogame based directly off the world within the book.  I fell in love (and I hadn’t even read any of it yet).  Did I mention the full-color illustrations throughout?

Then I was ready to wait in more lines.

  • Danielle Paige
  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Stephanie Garber, which I ended up leaving early
  • Laini Taylor

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Just before lunch, I sat down to listen to the Hot Fall Fiction 2016 panel, which is when I realized that I hadn’t scheduled time for a bathroom break.  So, on my way to find lunch, I made sure to hit the bathroom and re-fill my water bottle.  I also had to go back to the Sunborn Rising booth to tell them that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and how much I wanted to share it with everyone.  (Spoiler: I told anyone and everyone who would listen to me that they should go check out the booth!)

After lunch, the lines began again.

  • Gene Luen Yang
  • Kendare Blake

I attended the AAP Annual Librarians Book Buzz Part II and learned about some of the smaller publishers’ fall offerings.  And finally, I went to the Surviving Fictional Worlds panel with Sarah Porter, Kristen Simmons, and Susan Dennard.  In between lines, I was able to pick up a few more books as well as the free signed copies.

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That’s all for tonight.  Tune in tomorrow for my exciting adventures at BookCon!

BEA Thursday: Day Two

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I honestly have no idea how people have super fun-filled, exhausting days and still find the time to blog at the end of it.  I started this post last night so I could try and stay only one day behind, but my eyes kept drooping and I had no motivation to transfer the all-important pictures from my iPod touch over to my laptop.  (I discovered how much of a pain that was the night before!)  However, I did accomplish a large chunk of my goals, took plenty of notes of the work related things, and managed to collect plenty of books and autographs.  Here are some observations from my panels:

Metadata needs to be consistent and accurate to better help sell books.  Also, the more specific, the better it can be found by the people both looking and not looking for it.

There are quite a few micro-trends happening in YA right now, but we all agree that series are still going strong with no sign of easing.

There are a lot of great books coming out this fall!

I was able to attend the cover unveiling for Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (gorgeous, isn’t it?).  I had the great pleasure of explaining the phenomenon with several passers-by who wanted to know what the small cloud of people was excited about.

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My autographing highlights for today included:

  • Brandon Mull-Ticketed autograph line
  • Laini Taylor-Found her roaming around!
  • Shannon & Dean Hale-Had a lovely discussion with them both at the Candlewick Press party
  • Sarah Porter-In-booth signing
  • Eoin Colfer-In-booth signing with portable battery giveaway

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My book haul consisted of:

  • The Call from Scholastic (booktalked as similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses)
  • Specail Preview book with pub. date of Feb. 2017
  • The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer
  • Rat Queens #1 by Kurtis Wiebe
  • Sample coloring pages from Blue Star

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Take-aways from today:

Book trade people are very polite and nice.

Publishers can be very helpful if you’ve already done a large chunk of your research or ask very general questions.

People will trample other people to get Marissa Meyer’s newest book!

It never hurts to ask.

Metadata is important to a great many people at various levels.

 

That’s all for tonight.  I’m sure I forgot something, but I need sleep.  Once I get home tomorrow, I’ll try to finish Friday and Saturday’s adventures.  Hope everyone enjoyed their day. 🙂

Traveling and SLJ Day of Dialog: Day 1

Hey Everyone,

So I definitely overestimated my ability to do everything and still come back to blog about it.  But, I still plan on sharing what I learned for each day, even if they aren’t posted the same day.

My drive up was mostly uneventful.  I did get a little worried when the skyline grew super dark in front of me, but except for some short periods of downpour, I had missed the storms.  YAY!!  Check in went quick, and I had my stuff laid out and ready to go for Day of Dialog.

The next morning shrouded the city of Chicago in mist and fog; it was almost cloying actually.  But it didn’t last past noon.  The keynote speakers for the School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog were Richard Peck and Laini Taylor.

They were fantastic!  Both of these people were a joy to listen to, and it’s no wonder that they are awesome storytellers.  I could have listened to them all day.  BUT, the day was super filled with publisher pitches and authors/illustrators speaking on several different topics.

Here’s some of my favorite moments and quotes:

  • Richard Peck attended school in Decatur, IL, the same school my husband’s aunt teaches at currently (Dennis Lab School)
  • Peck is amazingly funny
  • “Writing is introducing readers to characters they might want to be.”–Richard Peck
  • Illustrations can’t be purely nonfiction
  • Illustrations support not just decorate the story
  • “Memory and imagination are the same”–Kelly Barnhill
  • Authenticity, being true to yourself, and universal truths appeal to middle grade readers
  • Art school is the worst backup plan ever–for writers
  • “We all have this myth-hole that wants to be filled.”–Laini Taylor
  • Call to retire the adjectives strong and feisty to describe female characters
  • We just need to write human characters
  • Respect your characters and your readers
  • Kids are better at pacing stories than adults
  • Illustrators bring their storytelling to the story as well

 

I’m quite sure that I learned and laughed at more than just these bullet points, but this gives you an overview of what happened at the event.  And after all the talking was done, we had a chance to talk with the presenters and collect signatures.  Almost all the presenters were available to sign either galleys or finished copies of their upcoming works that were discussed throughout the day.  I, personally, tried not to be too grabby, knowing that there were more days of books to come.  But that didn’t stop me from speaking with authors and collecting signatures for friends and co-workers (and a certain third grade class).

It was a great day of exploration, learning, and sharing.  This was definitely a fun day!  Tune in tomorrow for my run down of today, my first day at BookExpo America.

And so it begins…

Today, I start my journey to America’s largest book convention

But first, I have to finish out most of my work day.  And then, traveling!!!  Since I’m only four hours away, I decided to drive.  Most people have told me I’m crazy for this decision, but I’ve planned it out and have very few worries about driving in Chicago.

I double and triple checked all my lists.  Packed extra socks and underwear, because you never know.  And loaded up my car before work, so I wouldn’t waste any time when I clock out.  I even decided to pack my laptop so I can blog about each day of the event (with apologies in advance for any typos or grammar mistakes as I’m sure to be dead tired at the end of every day).

Here’s a quick look at what to look forward to this week:

  • School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog on Wednesday
  • BookExpo America on Thursday and Friday
  • Candlewick Press party Thursday evening
  • Blogger dinner Friday evening
  • Nebulas mass signing Friday night
  • BookCon on Saturday

After all that, I want to do a final wrap-up Sunday night when I return home.  That’s it for now.  Hope to meet lots of new people in Chicago and maybe make some new friends.