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frootjoos blogs about young adult and other juvenile literature... and doesn't get much sleep, it looks like.
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1. Ballet Cat Giveaway

Greetings, lovely readers! Get your tutus on for some Ballet Cat fun times. We have a giveaway sponsored by Disney-Hyperion (US only, ends 2/15/2016), and read on to find out more about the new book from author-illustrator Bob Shea. I received a copy of the books in exchange for an honest review, as well as a plush Ballet Cat from MerryMakers Inc. and I also have a set to give away to a lucky reader! 

Alethea's Review

You may as well know I'm a big Bob Shea fan. His collaborations with Lane Smith, Big Plans and Kid Sheriff & The Terrible Toads, are a couple of my very favorite picture books. Shea's style is fun, funny, and a little funky. Just check out the retro style on these Ballet Cat book covers! Ok, yeah, so Ballet Cat is a bit bossy--er, confident and self-possessed. Whether she's trying to get Sparkles the Horse to twirl or Butter Bear to do some super-high leaps, she's determined to have a great time doing what she does best. Dancing!

Maybe her friends' ideas of fun aren't quite pliés and pas de bourrée. Maybe they'd rather make ice pops, sell lemonade, eat endless bowls of cereal, and play just one more game of checkers. Whatever their differences, these furry friends learn from each other about friendship, bravery, and how to be honest with each other.

You can check out some of the interior pages from Dance! Dance! Underpants! right here:

For Ages 6-8
Book 1: The Totally Secret Secret (in stores now!)
Book 2: Dance! Dance! Underpants! (in stores February 2)


About the Books 

BalletCat1.jpg

The Totally Secret Secret

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony are trying to decide what to play today. Nothing that Sparkles suggests--making crafts, playing checkers, and selling lemonade--goes well with the leaping, spinning, and twirling that Ballet Cat likes to do. When Sparkles's leaps, spins, and twirls seem halfhearted, Ballet Cat asks him what's wrong. Sparkles doesn't want to say. He has a secret that Ballet Cat won't want to hear. What Sparkles doesn't know is that Ballet Cat has a secret of her own, a totally secret secret. Once their secrets are shared, will their friendship end, or be stronger than ever?


Dance! Dance! Underpants!

Ballet Cat is getting her friend Butter Bear ready for her big ballet debut. "Leap, Butter Bear, leap!" Ballet Cat prompts. But Butter Bear would prefer to just point her toe. When Ballet Cat keeps pushing, Butter Bear gets hungry, then thirsty, then sleepy . . . The bottom line is that Butter Bear would rather do almost anything to avoid making a big leap. Why? Because her bottom is covered in silly underpants! This second entry in the Ballet Cat series will have beginning readers rolling on the floor with laughter.


About the Author

Bob Shea is the author of the first book about Ballet Cat: THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET, the Dinosaur vs. series, and several other picture books, including DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD and UNICORN THINKS HE'S PRETTY GREAT. He and his wife have their own design studio in Madison, Connecticut.

Learn more at the Official Site

Visit the author at BobShea.com

Follow Disney Books on Twitter and Instagram

Use hashtag #BalletCat
(if you're tweeting about the giveaway, please include #ad)

Giveaway

BALLET CAT COLLECTION prize pack

One (1) winner receives:

  • Copies of TOTALLY SECRET SECRET and DANCE! DANCE! UNDERPANTS
  • Plus a plush BALLET CAT by MerryMakers Inc.

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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2. Night Study Blog Tour

Welcome, one and all, to our NIGHT STUDY blog tour post! Read on to find out more about the sequel to SHADOW STUDY, including an interview with author Maria V. Snyder, and a giveaway (open internationally)! 

NS High Res_SMP.jpg

About NIGHT STUDY

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.  

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek... secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

About SHADOW STUDY

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.

Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger.

As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.

About the Author

mariavsnyder.jpg

Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Maria's research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow lab, Hazelnut, in Pennsylvania where she is at work on more LUNA novels. She also earned a master's degree in writing fiction from Seton Hill University.

Readers are welcome to contact Maria at the following email address: maria@mariavsnyder.com.

You can find out more about Maria here:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads

Q&A with Maria V. Snyder

RNSL: The world of the Study series is so deep and wide now, how do you keep the details (about characters, plot, etc.) straight?

MVS: I have a couple things I do to help me keep all the details organized. For each of my novels, I have an old fashioned notebook where I write down all those details for the book, including the story's timeline and all my research notes. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that has details for all my characters from the books. That spreadsheet is a wonderful resource. I can't take any credit for that as Natalie, one of my readers, put it together for me. She also did one for each of my other series as well! The last thing I do is just refer back to the book. I keep a copy of all my books next to my computer.

RNSL: Authors are so connected to social media now. How much do you let fan reactions affect the decisions you make when you write?

MVS: I really enjoy interacting with my readers, but I let the story develop without worrying about their reactions. However, I do think about them when I'm writing. I smile and think, “Oh, they're going to love this.” Or “I hope they don't kill me over this.”  :) And I did write more Study books for them.

RNSL: From your first book to this one (your 14th novel!), has your writing style or method changed, and how?

MVS: I don't think my style has changed, but I have started writing from multiple POVs in my books and doing third person because I wanted a challenge and I really like showing what's going on with the other characters in the books. My method is about the same. I still use the notebooks. However, when my kids were little, I wrote when they were at school. Now, I write at night and love it.

RNSL: We love hearing about the things that inspire you from the real world that end up in your Ixia/Sitia stories. Has Night Study added any new hobbies or interests to your list?

MVS: I've learned quite a bit about plants, including cross breeding and grafting techniques for Night Study. It's doubtful the knowledge will help me as all my attempts to grow green things has resulted in failure. 

RNSL: What's your preferred writing fuel right now?

MVS: Decaffeinated English Breakfast tea for when I'm writing and then, if I hit my word count for the evening, a glass of red wine to celebrate.

RNSL: You dropped the biggest bombshell at the end of Shadow Study! Do you think it accomplished what you set out to do?

MVS: I knew I wanted to reveal that bombshell near the end of the novel.  I really didn't plan to make it the very last line, but when I reached that point in the story, it felt right.  And I think it was fun for my readers since it's not quite a cliff-hanger—the main plot/story was resolved, but it gave them something they'd been hoping for and something to think about while waiting for Night Study.

RNSL: Will the next Study book be the last, and if so, how do you feel about the series ending/rolling along?

MVS: Dawn Study will be the last for Yelena and Valek. Yelena's journey was the focus of the first three books and these new ones are a bit more focused on Valek's journey. And that's a good thing—I think writing more about them I would have to raise the stakes so much it would be like “jumping the shark.” There are a few characters—Reema, Teegan, Fisk, Heli, and Quinn—that I would like to explore more and might write a few books about them—no plans yet as I usually like a break and a chance to do something new before I return to a world.

RNSL: The cover changes in tone from Shadow Study to Night Study--I like them both, but prefer the direction Night Study is going in. Can you discuss the changes?

MVS: Yes I can!  The reason is I had more input into Night Study's cover! I expressed my concerns about Shadow Study's US cover to my new editor—I really wished they hadn't put a model on the cover—not that she wasn't beautiful, but her makeup was so over the top, it appeared as if she had a black eye! So when they were designing Night Study, I was able to give the art department more feedback. 

RNSL: Were there any other book or series ideas percolating while you worked on Night Study? If you can't share details, can you discuss what it's like for you to have multiple ideas vying for attention?

MVS: I generally concentrate on one book or story at a time—I can't work on a short story in the afternoon and a novel at night. I have to stop one to work on another. However, I do get ideas and I write them down when they come to me. When I have time between projects, I explore those ideas. Right now I don't have any set plans for what's next, which is kind of scary! I have three different novel ideas and I'll see which one of those my publisher will be interested in (if any!). 

Giveaway Details

6 Winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT STUDY, US Only.

4 winners will receive a finished copy of NIGHT STUDY, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One:

1/18/2016- Dark Faerie Tales- Interview
1/19/2016- The Bibliophile Chronicles- Review
1/20/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
1/21/2016- The Moonlight Library- Review
1/22/2016- Read Now Sleep Later- Interview

Week Two:

1/25/2016- Seeing Double In Neverland- Review
1/26/2016- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Excerpt
1/27/2016- a GREAT read- Review
1/28/2016- Fiktshun- Interview
1/29/2016- Mundie Moms- Review

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3. Be A Friend Launch Party Recap

Over the weekend, the RNSL team was a part of a very special book event. About 8 months ago Salina Yoon, the extremely talented and prolific author/illustrator of books like Penguin and Pinecone, Penguin in Love and Stormy Night, asked if we and some of our friends would help her plan the launch party for her 2016 picture book release BE A FRIEND. As huge fans of Salina and her work, we of course said yes. We had worked with Salina previously, but this party was going to be different. Be A Friend was very special to Salina and, as such, she wanted to celebrate in a big way. (You can read more about Salina and her feeling on the book here.)  So we gathered some of our bookish and imaginative friends (you know who you are) and got to work.  Below is just a brief recap of the event. All pics are by our amazing friend and photographer Katie Ferguson.

Guests were asked to sign in at the guest table when arriving, where they received a felt heart pin and a raffle ticket. They were then welcome to help themselves to some snacks and drinks as the sounds of French music serenaded them. 

There was a full dessert table as well as a candy bar. The amazing treats above were created by Maskipops by Adri. They were beautiful and delicious!

We also had 2 delicious signature cocktails created by the amazing and adorably attired Jen. 

Once the guests settled in, it was time to start the presentation. First up was a performance by the talented singer/songwriter Emily Arrow, who creates literature inspired music for children. Her song required some audience participation, and everyone was happy to oblige. 

Salina was up next and she thanked everyone and then read Be A Friend, with a little help. There were two wonderful theater students who helped Salina with her reading.

After a brief Q&A, it was time to start the signing line. Guests were called up in groups so they didn't spend all of their time in line and could partake of the food, drink and other fun activities while they waited. One of my favorite features of the event was the photobooth. Thanks to Eric for manning it and for the awesome volunteers for creating and procuring the props.

It was just a fantastic night filled with friend, food, and books (and one adorable corgi). Huge congrats to Salina on the publication of Be A Friend. Thanks for letting us be a part of it. Huge, huge thanks to all of our friends and volunteers who helped make this event happen. :) 

Salina's website
Salina on Tour! 
Photo album for the Be A Friend Launch Party
Photo album for the Be A Friend Photobooth

thuyrnslsign.gif


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4. Sweaterweather (& other short stories)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

sweaterweather.png

I really look forward to getting the Macmillan catalog every season, but now that I've gotten over the initial excitement of being offered review copies by a publisher, I now only request books I really, really, really want to read. I tend to go through the catalog very quickly, making snap decisions--if it didn't grab me right away, I don't request it (though I might write the title down or put it on my Goodreads TBR shelf). So when I got the spring catalog, I spun through the PDF, scrolling the mouse or trackpad like a Price Is Right contestant, and where did it stop? Sweaterweather

Not only are we actually experiencing some pretty chilly days here in Southern California (it's 54° F here in Los Angeles right now)--actual sweater weather--but author/illustrator Sara Varon is one of my very favorites. I first noticed her book Bake Sale in 2011 (I haven't actually read her breakout graphic novel, Robot Dreams). Some artists take umbrage at their art being called "cute", so I won't call it that (whether Varon takes umbrage or not). Her illustrations take "cute" up to the next level, for which I don't really have a word, or at least, not a single one. Her repertoire of animal characters and the glimpses into their lives is endearing, welcoming, comforting amusement. Themes of friendship, creativity, and community tie her stories together. Her drawing style isn't saccharine-sweet, but it will make you grin. Her stories have the cumulative warming effect of a fuzzy-soft sweater, warm socks, and the best cup of hot cocoa.

Sweaterweather was originally published in 2003--Varon's first book. She has since illustrated others, including one of our favorites by another author, Cecil Castellucci--Odd Duck! The new hardcover reissue of Sweaterweather includes the original stories plus additional content. While I all of love the short comics, I really appreciate the addition of comments and notes from Varon on each story, what inspired her, or why she drew it. There are many tidbits of technique, inspiration, and process, including short interviews of her colleagues, that make this book a great glimpse into the life of a working artist. I imagine this book in the hands of another reader, an illustration geek or budding creative, a young person just starting to develop the style that will set them apart from others when they tell stories, draw pictures, or make music. 

The knitting on the cover (and the immediate recognition of Varon's artwork) is what initially drew me in, and the Turtle & Rabbit story covers the friendship/knitting/hot tea comfort aspects of Sweaterweather very well. Not to be missed is an abecedarian about going to the local grocery store, a story about a clueless lion who reads a self-help book about fitting into the African Grassland, and a diagrammatic illustration about beekeeping. There is also a thoughtful, tender, if somewhat jarring salute to her Dalmatian, Violet.

You can find out more about the new edition of Sweaterweather at firstsecondbooks.com, and read more about Sara Varon at her website, chickenopolis.com.

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5. New Year, New Giveaway!

Hello, one and all! 2015 may have had a sad ending, but I hope you are all welcoming in the new year with hope and renewal. I spent the day re-organizing my bookshelves. Still not done--not by a long shot!--but progress has been made. Speaking of progress, if you want to win some books, make sure you read all the way to the end of the post!

Ok! It took some doing, but YA is now moved to the home office. I had it in the bedroom, but I really wasn't reading there. Now it's right next to the reading nook Jason made for me. #readnowsleeplater #bookstagram #newyearcleaning #bookshelves

A photo posted by Read Now Sleep Later (@readnowsleeplater) on

Here's what I'm looking forward to this year:

Books: You guys, a new Maria V. Snyder book comes out in February! We'll be part of the Night Study book tour, so stay tuned for that. And there are so many other things coming out, too many to name at this point with the whole year ahead of us!

Events: Ruta Sepetys is coming to SoCal! and Thuy has handily updated the calendar for the next few weeks. I will likely be at this next week.

Movies: Oh, OH so much to look forward to. Captain America: Civil War will be out soon (I have already requested the day off) and there will be a slew of Tom Hiddleston things coming up, including High Rise (March 18, alongside Elisabeth Moss and Luke Evans, and based on the J.G. Ballard novel), The Night Manager (April on AMC, based on the John Le Carré novel, co-starring Hugh Laurie), and I Saw the Light, (March 25, based on the life of country legend Hank Williams, co-starring Elizabeth Olsen, who will almost certainly make me weep my face off in this movie). 

Chills. I don't care if it's probably going to be a hot mess; I'm going to watch it anyway.

I can't even with the movie lists. I may be more excited about movies in 2016 than books in 2016.

Here's a pretty good PopSugar list of 100 books to read before they're movies* and a New Republic list of highly anticipated 2016 movies, with which I mostly agree (don't know about that Mel Gibson one, srsly).

* for the record, I don't think you should read the book before the movie if you haven't read it by the time you know the movie is happening. Read it after, if you like (the book is almost always better), but reading it before is just like spoiling yourself on purpose.

Comedy: David Cross, one of my most favorite comedians ever, is on tour for the next 6 months, and the husband bought us tickets. Much excitement.

Music: School of Seven Bells has a posthumous (RIP Benjamin Curtis) album launching in a few weeks. I must have it. New Animal Collective too! Cautiously trying not to think too hard about the previously unreleased originals and covers by the late Jeff Buckley in March. 

Things to do: Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens in April. OH MY.

So close I can almost touch it #hogwarts #wizardingworldofharrypotter #universalstudioshollywood

A photo posted by Read Now Sleep Later (@readnowsleeplater) on

I don't have resolutions, but I do have a couple of simple, and I think, doable goals this year:

  1. Organize and declutter my apartment--really, I was good at this once! And can be again.
  2. Finish knitting this thing I promised my friend I'd knit (sorry, Christina)
  3. Get A's in my next 4 business classes--I just started my first one of the year!
  4. Find a home for this kitty:

Yep, that's our sweet, nameless foster kitty who I will be very sad to let go, but let go we must--once we find her a good forever home. So if you're in the Los Angeles area and in the market for a young, well-behaved, formerly feral cat, please email me! She really is a stellar kitty... we'd very nearly trade one of our existing cats for her, except that would be really cruel (I'm just glad John Carter & Mars can't read!)

The rest of her cat colony (3 other cats) is still out there in the rain and cold :( I wish we could take them all in! If you would like to help them, please check out this fundraiser by my friend Esmeralda (who is saving up to get the remaining cats placed in a no-kill shelter).

What are you excited about or looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments!

If you're in the US, you can enter to win two of our favorite books from 2015, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

  1. Open to the US only, ends 1/31/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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6. In Remembrance of Cynthia Jaynes-Omololu

In May 2010, Cynthia Jaynes-Omololu, author of the YA novel Dirty Little Secrets, stopped by my Borders store in Glendale to sign copies of her book. I had read and loved her book, and sent her an email to let her know how much I enjoyed reading it. She was so gracious and thankful that she offered to stop by on her way down to Disneyland with her husband and sons for their annual trip. My store was in Southern California and she lived in Northern California with her family. It was incredibly generous of her to take time out of her vacation to meet me. We hugged warmly, and I got them all treats from our cafe. It was a short but unforgettable visit. I stayed in touch with her online afterwards. 

She was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, and today her family and friends mourn her passing. I hope she is free from pain and suffering. My heart goes out to her loved ones. She embodied kindness, beauty, and love, and will be greatly missed.

She also leaves behind her books, Dirty Little Secrets, Intuition, Transcendence, and The Third Twin. You can find links to her work on her website at www.cjomololu.com.

Rest in peace, Cyn.

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7. Men & Cats + All the Words Are Yours Giveaway

I have something a little different for you today--two adult gift books--prizing/samples provided by Penguin Random House.

First, you should know that both books are based off of Tumblr. I love Tumblr. I also love both of these specific Tumblrs, though I was only familiar with the second one before this.

The first one is a little serious, which would be great for someone who loves words and photographs: All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson.

http://readnowsleeplater.tumblr.com/post/132575521494/we-like-where-this-is-going-allthewordsareyours

About the book

Every day for the past six years, Tyler Knott Gregson has written a simple haiku about love, and posted it online. These heartfelt poems have attracted a large and loyal following around the world. This highly anticipated follow-up to Chasers of the Light, presents Tyler’s favorites, some previously unpublished, accompanied by his signature photographs, which capture the rich texture of daily life.

This vibrant collection reveals the intimate reflections of one of poetry’s most popular new voices — honest, vulnerable, generous, and truly present in the gift that is each moment.

Find It Here

Most of them are a little maudlin for me, but I love a few. 

“Brighter, now brighter
pay no mind to those who squint,
burn with all your heat.”

— Tyler Knott Gregson

They're sometimes inspiring and insightful.

http://tylerknott.com/post/37555991752/i-am-made-of-more-more-than-tears-more-than
http://tylerknott.com/post/98809473377/what-is-bravery-if-not-the-marching-forward
http://tylerknott.com/post/54341563877/just-keep-waking-up-dragging-yourself-out-of
Some I want to mail home to my mother.
http://tylerknott.com/post/28411534590/houses-are-not-homes-were-not-made-of-bricks

Some will calm, some will soothe, some will arouse desire. You definitely don't want to mail the whole book to your mother. Actually, probably 80% you wouldn't want to discuss with her unless you have a very, very, very comfortable relationship.

http://tylerknott.com/post/109275734672/theyre-just-syllables-but-they-carry-all-the

This is definitely something you want to give to someone you love love. 


Now we move on to my favorite of the two: Men & Cats by Marie-Eva Gatuingt & Alice Chaygneaud.

Now, this your mom might enjoy. Assuming she likes scantily clad men. And cute cats. 

About the book

A brilliant collection of photographs that brings together two of the world’s favorite things: hot men and cute kittens.

Based on the chic French Tumblr Des Hommes et des ChatonsMen & Cats presents an original collection of 50 pairs of sexy men and adorable cats. Each clever match-up shows a heartthrob posing alongside a cat in a similar pose or with a similar expression. Not sure if you want to look at sexy men or cute cats? With this book, you don’t have to choose.

Find It Here

But, before you visit Des Hommes et des Chatons on Tumblr, I have to warn you some of the pics may be NSFW. Here are some of the more tame ones (i.e. they've mostly got clothes on):

http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/133123545471
http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/133058862265
http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/131609208113
http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/130773262550
http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/128764821055

Mmm.... you get the idea.

Wait, one more.

http://deshommesetdeschatons.tumblr.com/post/127543720224

Can't promise you these are all in the book. Actually on second glance *flips through entire book again* Yup. Nope. None of these are in the book. But you get the picture, don't you?

Remember to Enter the giveaway before you lose yourself in an endless queue of des hommes et des chatons

The Giveaway

  1. Open to the US only, ends 12/05/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. Actually TBH for this one, you probably should be significantly older than 13. I'm just saying.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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8. WINTER - The Lunar Chronicles Giveaway

I mean, need I say more?

Soooo... Who wants to win a WINTER prize pack? Thanks to @penwallace I have a set to give away! I'll be sharing pics of the #lunarchronicles party (mostly taken by @adobe1kinobe) once I finish clearing up my dining table which is still a huge mess from all the baking and prep I did for Monday night! #jointheresistance #marissameyer #thelunarchronicles (these gloves are probably Cress-approved, by the way... I'm typing this whole post with my own pair on just to try out the touchscreen capability.) #winterbooktour #touchscreengloves #temporarytattoos

A photo posted by Read Now Sleep Later (@readnowsleeplater) on

Read on to the end, then enter to win! Thanks to author Marianne D. Wallace for providing the prizes.

I have to confess, I *hated* Cinder when it came out. Like, throw-the-book-at-a-wall-hated-it, except the book was an ARC so it didn't really do that much damage. It even landed neatly, not a page bent out of shape. I was at one of Marissa Meyer's very first book signings and I may have even told her so, but also said I gave it 5 stars anyway because it was so well written.

Well, a combination of restraint and lack of time/energy to read led me to wait until a couple of weeks ago to start Scarlet. I had volunteered to host (i.e. decorate and cater) Marissa's Los Angeles book signing for Winter for Once Upon a Time, and needed buffet ideas which I usually draw right out of the book. And because I was pressed for time, I chose the audiobook format so I could do work (like prepping tons of candy for the dessert bar and baking piles of sugar cookies in the shape of shoes and apples) while "reading".

OMG. 

LOVED IT. The writing was like, *facemelt*.

HOOKED. The audiobook reader? My new girl crush.

giphy (3).gif

TOTALLY ADDICTED. The characters! The girl power! Aaaaaahhhh!!!

I went straight from Scarlet into Cress, which I adored even more. Rebecca Soler really brought it to life. Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and I were in my kitchen baking cookies and laughing like crazy people for the first part of the audio. Later on when I was icing the cookies (red, of course, or as red an icing as I could make having totally botched my proportions and run out of food coloring) I got to the later part of the audio which I refer to as the "I'm not crying, you're crying!" part of the book. 

I ended up doing a Benoit Farms and Gardens salad bar (with tomatoes front and center, of course), pizza (from Domino's in Tujunga, which was excellent for feeding a crowd, btw!) and a crazy dessert bar with red and purple candy, cupcakes, lemon cakes (thanks, Danielle!) apple-shaped pretzels (thanks, Cathy!). I could not have pulled it off without a crack team of book enthusiasts helping: Nicole from The Reader's Antidote, our very own Thuy, Alyson, Carolyn, DJ, Kim, Katie, Cathy, Sam, Janet, Kate, David, and especially Jen and Marianne who helped with the candy bar signs and containers! Danielle also had the honor of introducing Marissa (in verse, no less!). 

Here's what she said:

Tonight we welcome
An exceptional guest,
Who wrote Cinder, Scarlet,
Cress, and Fairest.
She’s a bestselling author,
By any guideline.
Just ask USA Today
Or the New York Times.
She blogs about writing,
She tweets with aplomb,
And you can learn more about her
At marissameyer.com.
She takes stories we know,
Placing them forward in time,
Adding a space colony
And characters that shine.
There’s a cyborg, an emperor,
And an android who swoons,
A soldier, a farm girl,
And the queen of the moon.
Then a hacker held hostage,
A criminal mastermind,
A troubled princess,
And the guard by her side.
The Lunar Chronicles gave us
Trysts and laughter, heartbreak and fights,
And now finally with Winter
We’ll explore some new heights.
Though it’s not quite the end,
as I’ve recently been told.
With Stars Above coming in February,
The story will continue to unfold.
Tacoma, Washington is where
She and her husband reside,
Though tonight we’re lucky to have her
In Montrose, by our side.
Please join me in welcoming
A fabulous author,
The talented, the indomitable
Marissa Meyer.

You can see more pics and details on Thuy's recap post, here! Plus tons more great photos from Jose Valencia, here

Thanks again to Once Upon a Time and Macmillan for letting me help out for the big event, and I hope everyone had lots of fun!

Don't forget to pre-order the short story collection Stars Above (out in Feb 2016, more info in Thuy's recap post) and remember to check thelunarchronicles.com on Nov 30, 2015 for #CyborgMonday! I don't know what it means, but I love it already.


The Giveaway

  1. Open to the US only, ends 12/05/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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9. Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein - Giveaway

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We have a 2-book giveaway for one lucky winner who will get one copy to keep and one to share of Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer's Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein. The book is festively illustrated by Christine Davenier. Samples and prizing are provided by Penguin Random House.

I loved it right from the tagline: All she wants for Hanukkah is... Christmas. When my family first moved to the United States, I'm certain I felt a little envious of my Jewish friends during their holiday celebrations, having been raised Catholic myself. There's something interesting and alluring about other people's traditions. Even now, just thinking about Hanukkah makes me want to run out and buy some potatoes for latkes. And challah for French toast... and beef brisket, and maybe some kugel... ooh, I haven't had blintzes in a while! (Ok, maybe I was less interested in their religion than in their food. But I digress.)

In this charming picture book, Rachel Rosenstein takes her fascination with Christmas and runs with it, much to the chagrin of her family. She decorates the house and--gasp!--sits on Santa's lap to see if he got her letter requesting a special Christmas visit even though she's Jewish. The shenanigans that ensue are delightful and endearing, but also very much make us appreciate the diversity in our cultures and beliefs, our friends and our family, and all the ways we celebrate togetherness. Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein is available now!

About the Book

Actress Amanda Peet brings us a hilarious holiday drama in a story that every Jewish family will relate to and appreciate.

Rachel Rosenstein wonders why Santa Claus never visits her house. But this year is going to be different--even though her family is Jewish and doesn't observe Christmas. With hilarious and heartwarming mishaps, Rachel visits Santa at the mall with her special request, writes a letter to Santa explaining her cause, and clandestinely decorates the house on Christmas Eve (right down to latkes for the reindeer). And while Rachel may wrestle with her culture, customs, and love of sparkly Christmas ornaments, she also comes away with a brighter understanding of her own identity and of the gift of friends and family.

About the Creative Team

Andrea Troyer and Amanda Peet

Andrea Troyer and Amanda Peet

Amanda Peet is an actress and playwright. Her first play, "The Commons of Pensacola," starring Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker, opened to critical acclaim in 2014 at Manhattan Theater Club. A native of New York, Peet graduated from Columbia University with a degree in American History. She has appeared in numerous films, including "Please Give," "Syriana," "Something's Gotta Give," and "The Whole Nine Yards." She also starred in the TV series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," and the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park." Peet stars in a new comedy series, "Togetherness" for HBO, which debuted in January 2015.

Andrea Troyer grew up in Minnesota and received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young boys.

Christine Davenier is the illustrator of many children's books, including Julie Andrews's "The Very Fairy Princess" series. She lives in Paris, France.


The Giveaway

CELEBRATE TOGETHER Prize Pack

Come together with friends celebrating different holidays! One winner will receive 2 copies of Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein, one to keep, and one to share.

Giveaway is open to US addresses only. Ends 11/29/2015. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter and notified within 24 hours of the giveaway ending.

Prizing and samples provided by Penguin Random House.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter and don't leave any personal info (such as email addresses) in the Comments.

Good luck!

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10. Marissa Meyer Winter Tour Recap

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

Hello, dear readers. If you are a fan of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, then this week is a very exciting week for you. The final book in The Lunar Chronicles series, WINTER, was released on Tuesday. The fates of Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet and the rest of the Lunar gang will be decided. Will they defeat the evil queen Levana? We're all just going to have to read Winter to find out!  And don't forget to read all the way to the end of this post where we will tell you the exciting details about Marissa's upcoming Lunar Chronicles project!

I was a volunteer for the Marrisa Meyer Winter signing event held last night in Montrose, CA. Once Upon a Time Bookstore hosted the event, which was held off site at the Sparr Heights Community Center. We had an amazing group of volunteers who worked their butts off to make this an unforgettable night. Also, big thanks to Jose Valencia who was the photographer for the event and whose images I am using in this post. By the time I arrived after work, there was already quite a line outside the venue. Many thanks to all of the attendees who were very patient and endured some cold (for Southern California) weather. 

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

There was a beautiful snack table filled with Lunar themed cookies, cakes and candies. There were red Cinder shoe cookies and red Winter apples made from dipped pretzels. The cupcakes were beautiful (sadly I did not get to try one). There was also a bit of healthy food with a salad bar as well as pizza that came later in the evening. 

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

The event began promptly at 7pm and, after a lovely introduction by Danielle Behr, Marissa came out to a full house.

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

Marissa started off by talking about fairy tales and how she fell in love with Disney's The Little Mermaid when she was 5 years old. Her grandmother, seeing how much she loved the story, got her a book of fairy tales, which included the original Little Mermaid story. 5-year-old Marissa was shocked to discover that the original story was very different from the version she knew, which made her want to find out what else Disney wasn't telling her. This led to a lifelong love of fairy tales. Marissa then recited the original tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to a rapt audience.

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

Following this, Marissa took questions from the audience. When asked who her favorite character was, she said that it would be liking asking a mother to pick her favorite child. She did say that Captain Thorn was the most fun to write though. Marissa also mentioned that the film rights to Cinder had been sold to a Hollywood studio, though she had no news on whether or not it would be made anytime soon. She also said that she was honored when she found out that her series had fan fiction. Marissa said that she's only read one story because she didn't want it to influence what she wanted to do with the series. 

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

After the Q&A it was time to move on to the signing. Guests enjoyed pizza and snacks as numbered groups were called out. Again, thanks to everyone for their patience as we got Marissa through a long line of fans. Thanks to the volunteers for helping the line run smoothly.

Mmmm...snacks! photo by Jose Valencia

Mmmm...snacks! photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

Super cute Winter fans. photo by Jose Valencia

Super cute Winter fans. photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

photo by Jose Valencia

I see some amazing fan art happening here. photo by Jose Valencia

I see some amazing fan art happening here. photo by Jose Valencia

Special thanks to Marissa Meyer, Macmillan, Fierce Reads, Once Upon a Time, all of the amazing volunteers, the Sparr Heights Community Center, Jose Valencia for the awesome pics, and every single person who came out last night. To see all of the pics from the event, check out Jose's album here

While Winter is the official end of The Lunar Chronicles, fans will be happy to know that Marissa will be releasing a collection of stories set in the The Lunar Chronicles world. Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection will be released on February 2, 2016.

 

The collection will include:

Glitches: A prequel to Cinder, detailing Cinder’s first weeks after her cyborg surgery and her introduction to her new stepfamily.

The Queen’s Army: A prequel to Scarlet, telling the story of one soldier in Levana’s army who is determined not to become the monster everyone expects him to be.

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: A prequel to Cress, expanding on some of Carswell Thorne’s exploits when he was a young man with big dreams.

The Princess and the Guard: A never-before-released prequel to Winter, chronicling the friendship between Winter and Jacin and answering some frequently asked questions about Winter, her insanity, and her scars.

The Little Android: My retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” in which an android falls in love with a human boy.

A BRAND NEW as-yet-to-be-determined story! PLUS a sneak peek at Marissa's first non-TLC novel, Heartlessout on November 8, 2016

if you've read through this entire post, I commend you. Thanks for reading and don't forget to #JoinTheResistance!

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11. Voyagers Series Giveaway

FTC Disclosure: samples and prizes provided by Random House Children’s Books

Thanks to Random House Children's Books for sending us the first two books in the new multi-platform middle grade series, The Voyagers! I first became a fan of multi-platform when The 39 Clues series hit the shelves in 2008. Along the same lines, a group of authors is collaborating on this new series. Read on for more info and a giveaway (US addresses only, ends 11/15/2015).

ABOUT THE SERIES

Part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, all action-adventure.

As the young heroes in VOYAGERS journey into outer space to save planet Earth, readers are invited to become part of the story by joining the crew through the multi-platform VOYAGERS HQ. The HQ extends the adventure beyond the page, unlocking games and activities on their devices.

Each book has clues and codes that lead to world extensions to be explored, played, and shared. Your online profile tracks your progress through the VOYAGERS universe, and gives you rewards, ranking and virtually currency for each product code redeemed.

Readers become part of the VOYAGERS world, which extends beyond the books to a digital interactive experience, and downloadable pay-for-play mobile apps games.

Readers can create their own custom VOYAGERS character, follow the team and experience this space adventure through the eyes of their own virtual droid.

Free content on Voyagers HQ

Team Alpha Member Profile
Every registered user will have a personal profile page. This is where they can see their rank/level, view their achievements and badges, access their inventory and ZRK creations, as well as enter and track codes.

VOYAGERS Secret Intelligence
After players register, they will be given a project folder that contains ciphers and decoders that can be used in conjunction with the books to unlock secret content and virtual currency.

Secret content includes
Character dossiers and expanded background information, mission briefings, ship and vehicle schematics, detailed information on the planets from ZRK probes, and opportunities to test their STEAM knowledge.

VOYAGERS Bonus Chapter
In addition to the secret intelligence files, each book also has a special puzzle that unlocks a free bonus chapter. This will complement the book and fill in some additional details and storylines. It is not required reading, but they should add to the book narratives in a meaningful way.

ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM

VOYAGERS series creator and architect, Patrick Carman is head of PC Studios which has created and overseen pioneering multimedia brands including SKELETON CREEK, TRACKERS, 3:15, and DARK EDEN. He is also an acclaimed, New York Times bestselling writer of more than 30 books, and one of the first authors chosen for 39 CLUES. patrickcarman.com

42 Entertainment is the premiere online multimedia company developing the immersive, interactive universe for VOYAGERS. 42 Entertainment is a next generation studio world renowned for some of the largest online experiences in the world including THE DARK KNIGHT,THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and TRON LEGACY. 42entertainment.com

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Book 1: PROJECT ALPHA by DJ MacHale, in stores now

Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…

D.J. MacHale is the author of the bestselling book series Pendragon, Morpheus Road, the SYLO Chronicles. He has written, directed and produced numerous award-winning television series and movies for young people including Are You Afraid of the Dark?; Flight 29 Down and Tower of Terror. D.J. lives with his family in Southern California. Find out more at djmachalebooks.com (Photo credit: Gayle Goodrich)

Book 2: GAME OF FLAMES by Robin Wasserman, releases November 3 

The Alpha team has been chosen and they've already snagged the first element on planet J-16. The second is hidden on Meta-Prime, a planet filled with metal mazes, catapults of fire, and warring alien robots. But what our Voyagersdon't know is that there is another ship, the Omega team, following hot on their trail...

Robin Wasserman is the author of several acclaimed books for children and young adults, including The Waking Dark, The Book of Blood and Shadow, Hacking Harvard, the Cold Awakening Trilogy, and the Chasing Yesterday Trilogy. A former children's book editor, she lives and writes (and frequently procrastinates) in Brooklyn, New York. robinwasserman.com, @robinwasserman. (Photo credit: Sonya Sones

COLLECT THE WHOLE SERIES

BOOK 1: PROJECT ALPHA BY D.J. MacHale [out now]

BOOK 2: GAME OF FLAMES BY Robin Wasserman [11/03/15]

BOOK 3: OMEGA RISING BY Patrick Carmen [01/05/16]

BOOK 4: INFINITY RIDERS BY Kekla Magoon [03/01/16]

BOOK 5: ESCAPE THE VORTEX BY Jeanne DuPrau [03/01/16]

BOOK 6: THE SEVENTH ELEMENT BY Wendy Mass [05/03/16]

LEARN MORE

Visit Voyagers HQ

Follow the authors on Twitter: @PatrickCarman | @DJMacHale | @RobinWasserman

Tweet with the hashtag #VoyagersHQ

THE GIVEAWAY

PhoneSwagPack.jpg

Get the full Voyagers experience! One (1) winner receives:

  • The first two books in the series
  • Branded iPhone6 case and home GadgetGrip button to deck out your device while experiencing the Voyagers app.
  • US addresses only, please!
  • Samples and prizes provided by Random House Children’s Books
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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12. Spooktacular Giveaway Hop 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer!

I couldn't decide on a spooky enough YA book to giveaway, so 1 winner gets to pick their own prize (must be a spooky YA book up to $18 USD!). My giveaway is open internationally. That's right! Also, mine is open early, don't be surprised if some of the other posts aren't up yet. You can always check back on or after the 15th.

Once you enter, please leave a comment about what your spooky book suggestion would be (you get points for that, too!) and then go visit another blog on the hop. I'm sure they would love to have you enter their giveaways. Good luck!

In case you need some inspiration, here is the spooky list of which I could not pick just 1 book to give away:

As much of a scaredy-cat as Katie Alender may claim she is, she writes some creep-tastic books. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is her latest.

Pretty much anything Gretchen McNeil writes will make your spine tingle. Don't miss Get Even and its sequel, Get Dirtyin which a revenge society aimed at making bullies and mean girls suffer must find a killer before they get blamed for crimes they didn't commit.

legion2.jpg

Kami Garcia's solo books freak me out so bad, you guys. No sophomore slump for Unmarked, which followed Unbreakable. I am patiently patiently waiting for Untitled Legion Book 3. Patiently not because there are other books to read (although yeah, there is that) but because  I trust that Kami's taking the time to make it just as chilling as the first two.

I am kicking myself because I saw Ransom Riggs at a party last night and I could have bought Library of Souls there and gotten it signed, but I was shy because of course he's there with his wife and (Tahereh Mafi, doncha know) I didn't want to barge in to their conversation with friends since they'd just arrived. Sigh.

I have really mixed feelings about The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, which I will tell you about when I write my review in a little while. But from the cover alone, don't you already feel the hair rising on the back of your neck? Short pitch, girl with dissociative identity disorder loses one of her personalities--except, it's the one everyone thinks is the alter-ego who's left behind. *shudder*

I confess, I was too chicken to read Shutter by Courtney Alameda last year. But now that American Horror Story is back (with Hotel), I'm feeling a little like... I could probably handle reading this in a crowded room in the middle of a brightly lit day. Yeah.

Enough about me! What spooky book do you want to win?


The Giveaway

  1. Open internationally wherever Book Depository ships, ends 10/31/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Blog Hop

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13. The 50 States Fun Fact Blog Tour - Oregon

You already know I love books. Did you also know I love maps? I do! Whether they're for places real or imagined, I love maps because they help you visualize the shape and the history of everywhere, especially the places you've never been. 

Coming up on the holidays, I'm always on the lookout for cool bookish gifts to give to the inquisitive young people in my life. I know just the youngsters who'll be getting this from me. It's The 50 States by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sol Linero. Available now from Quarto Knows, it features a fact-filled landscape that's as fun as it's educational.

Today I get to shine the spotlight on Oregon--one of my favorite states and at the top of my list of places I'd like to visit! 

Click on the image to see a bigger version of the two-page spread.

Click on the image to see a bigger version of the two-page spread.

Here are some of my favorite facts from the book (used with permission!)

Can you guess why?

Did you know...

BEVERLY CLEARY b.1916
The “Ramona” author grew up in Yamhill: a town so small it didn’t have a library—so her mom started one!

ASHLAND SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Nearly 700 volunteers work each year to bring the Bard’s plays to life.

MATT GROENING b.1954
The creator of The Simpsons was born in Portland.

COFFEE
A recent study found over 1,000 coffee shops brewing in Oregon!

POWELL'S
is the largest bookstore in the world!

VOODOO DOUGHNUT
Here you can savor a bacon-maple doughnut bar and even get married!


Give up? They're all related to books somehow! Powell's, the largest bookstore... Matt Groening, who got his start with the self-published comic book Life in Hell... Beverly Cleary who wrote many of my childhood favorite tales... Shakespeare... who didn't write books, he wrote plays, but close enough--I'm willing to wager many book lovers have a shelf just for Shakespeare. He was just that prolific. Ok, yeah--it takes a special dexterity to drink coffee and eat donuts while reading without getting glaze all over the pages, but it's a great skill to have. I'm just saying.

That's it for our state spotlight. What other states would you like to see? Comment below and I'll try and find out who on the tour is featuring your state! (Check back for list updates!)

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14. Fairy Tale 2.0 - A Frozen Heart

FTC Disclosure: All samples and prizing are provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for including us in this Fairy Tale 2.0 giveaway for A Frozen Heart.

Between you and me, I'm not as big of a Disney geek as I was 20 years ago. I've actually missed a few movies in the last decade and had a really hard time paying attention to anything they do outside of the Marvel franchises. But I'll admit: Frozen melted my bah-humbug-Disney heart. I was excited as any Frozen fan to see this novel by Elizabeth Rudnick, A Frozen Heart, which is available now. All I need is to read the back cover, which says "Love is an open door.... be careful who steps inside." to set off a week-long earworm condition of "Love is an Open Door". (Thanks a lot, Disney. At least it did replace my previous earworm, Steven Universe's "Giant Woman".)

About the book

Told in alternating chapters from both Anna's and Hans' perspectives, A Frozen Heart takes a sophisticated look at events of Frozen, exploring the couple's backstories, motivations, and doomed relationship.

You can read an excerpt below.

A Frozen Heart chapter excerpt

Learn more on Disney Books

Follow Disney on Twitter and Instagram

Tweet #FairyTale2pt0 

Check out the other Fairy Tale 2.0 titles, A Whole New World by Liz Braswell and ONCE UPON A TIME: Red's Untold Tale.


LizRudnick_FrozenHeart.jpg

About the author

Elizabeth Rudnick has written over thirty books, including the original novel Tweet Heart and tie-ins such as Frankenweenie: A Novel; Oz: The Great and Powerful; and the best-selling junior novel based on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband and two lovable mutts, Jack and Ginger.

The Giveaway

Enter to win with the Rafflecopter below and you could win a copy of A Frozen Heart, as well as a branded FAIRY TALE 2.0 tank, notepad, cosmetic pouch & pillow. US only, ends 10/18/2015.

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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15. Poison Study Read Along (1)

I have lost count of how many times I have read and re-read POISON STUDY by Maria V. Snyder. It has been a few years since the last re-read, because I've been reading Maria's other books--there are so many! So while it's not quite like reading it for the first time, it's been refreshing in many ways. I love how it draws me in even after so many re-runs! (By the way, don't you totally want that new cover on a paperback to add to your MVS collection? I know I do!)

Thoughts on Chapters 1-8

I decided to start my read-along as a re-listen. The audiobook, read by Gabra Zackman, transports me back to 7 years ago when Fire Study came out. We sold out of the new book so fast, I had to wonder why I'd never heard of Poison Study before. I took it home and read all night. I don't think I moved from my bed until the last page was turned and the last tear wiped away.

Yelena, our main character, is sympathetic from the start, but not in a sorry way. I feel trepidation for her--I mean, she's evidently killed someone, she's paying with her life, and she's "set free" just to be poisoned? The first few chapters are a rollercoaster of hope and despair. The first time, I already knew I would enjoy the ride all the way to the end, because while she's down, she's not out. When she's offered a hand up, a glimmer of hope, she grabs it. She may not know yet what she's doing--there's a lot of self-discovery to come--but she's acting on instinct and a will to survive, and that made me love her at first sight.

Valek is a tricky one in many ways. Sure, he's in a position of power, and he's just poisoned the new poison-taster he hired out of the dungeon (so she won't run away, because she gets the antidote daily as long as she shows up for duty). He doesn't exactly inspire immediate thoughts of white-knight heroism... and that might be a good thing. He did offer her a chance to not wither away in the dungeon, but there's a lot of trust to be built if he and Yelena are going to be on the same team. 

Again, already knowing what will happen, I'm reminded how the changes in perspective really kept me hooked throughout the series. On the one hand you have the close-ups. It's Yelena and her personal troubles, trying to stay alive, trying to come to terms with the past that haunts her, and trying to gain control of her life. On the other hand you have the big picture, the Commander and his state, cleansed of magicians (mostly by Valek), trying to keep orderly peace and erase a bloody history of Ixia which had been overrun by cruel and power-hungry people.

It's going to be an epic adventure, and this is just the beginning.


There's still plenty of time to join the 10th Anniversary read-along! You can also check out thoughts on Chapters 1-8 at the other read-along hosts.

Two Chicks on Books
Fiktshun
Parajunkee
Mundie Moms
Read Now Sleep Later

The read-along schedule:
October 4th-10th: Chapters 1-8
October 11th-17th: Chapters 9-17
October 18th-24th: Chapters 18-25
October 25th-31st: Chapters 26-32 and closing post

Please tag your tweets and Instagram pics #PoisonStudyReadAlong! Link your read-along posts here:

The Giveaway

10 winners to celebrate 10 years!
Grand Prize is a signed hardcover first edition of Poison Study and Magic Study (both books).
First Place a signed hardcover first edition of Poison Study
5 winners will get a signed cover flat of the original cover of Poison Study
3 winners will get a signed original bookmark for Poison Study

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16. Poison Study 10th Anniversary - Scavenger Hunt

It's POISON STUDY's 10th anniversary and I am so excited to revisit this favorite book with fans as well as maybe get some new people hooked! In a way I have Maria V. Snyder to thank for encouraging me to reach out to authors whose work I love. Without her I probably wouldn't still be blogging about books, meeting authors, and sharing my love of reading with others on the Internet. (But enough about that, you'll get more of that story from my first Read-Along post this Thursday!)

Anyway, you're probably here for the scavenger hunt, so here's what's going on.

Ten blogs are sharing posts and excerpts from Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study, and you have the chance to win some fabulous prizes! Make sure you read the excerpts--you'll need to spot a word and enter it into the Rafflecopter widget for an entry.

Giveaway

To celebrate 10 years of Poison Study, Maria is giving away 10 prizes. You must enter using the Rafflecopter near the end of the post below.

GRAND PRIZE: SIGNED hardcover first editions of POISON STUDY and MAGIC STUDY
FIRST PLACE: a SIGNED hardcover first edition of POISON STUDY
FIVE (5) WINNERS: a SIGNED cover flat of the original cover of POISON STUDY
THREE (3) WINNERS: a SIGNED original bookmark for POISON STUDY

Grand Prize
Grand Prize

Signed hardcover first editions of Poison Study and Magic Study

First Place
First Place

A signed hardcover first edition of Poison Study

5 winners will receive
5 winners will receive

A signed cover flat of the original hardcover of Poison Study

3 winners will receive
3 winners will receive

A signed original bookmark for Poison Study

About the Book

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Choose: A quick death . . . or slow poison.

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear...

About the Author

Maria V. Snyder changed careers from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Maria's research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Find out more about her at mariavsnyder.com. Readers are welcome to contact Maria at the following email address: maria@mariavsnyder.com

Excerpt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule

Here are the links to the participating blogs. If you're just getting started, make sure you visit all the stops for more content and scavenger hunt clues!

9/28/2015 - Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Scavenger Hunt

9/29/2015 - a GREAT read - Scavenger Hunt

9/30/2015 - Seeing Double In Neverland - Scavenger Hunt

10/1/2015 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post

10/2/2015 - Alice Marvels - Scavenger Hunt

10/5/2015 - Fiktshun - Scavenger Hunt

10/6/2015 - Read Now Sleep Later - Scavenger Hunt

10/7/2015 - Mundie Moms - Guest Post

10/8/2015 - Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Scavenger Hunt

10/9/2015 - Parajunkee - Scavenger Hunt

Need a copy of the book? 

Find it at: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoogle PlayBooks A MillionBook DepositoryKoboIndiebound

More on Thursday!

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17. Poison Study 10th Anniversary Celebration Kick Off!

You can also join Maria's official GoodReads group, Study Buddies!

You can also join Maria's official GoodReads group, Study Buddies!

You guys, you guys! The Poison Study 10th Anniversary Celebration begins today! 

If you didn’t see our first post go here for the complete breakdown and to sign up, but before you click through, here is a quick recap and some important links. Our blog tour stop will be on Oct 6, and my first read-along post (about the first 8 chapters) will be on Oct 8. I can't wait to share this, one of my favorite books, with all of you MVS fans old and new!

Here are your hosts for the read-along:

Two Chicks on Books

Fiktshun

Parajunkee

Mundie Moms

Read Now Sleep Later

Check back with each of us on Thursdays in October for our read-along updates.

The Read-Along Schedule

October 4th-10th: Chapters 1-8

October 11th-17th: Chapters 9-17

October 18th-24th: Chapters 18-25

October 25th-31st: Chapters 26-32 and closing post

The Giveaway

10 winners to match 10 years!

Grand Prize is a signed hardcover first edition of Poison Study and Magic Study (both books).

First Place a signed hardcover first edition of Poison Study

5 winners will get a signed cover flat of the original cover of Poison Study

3 winners will get a signed original bookmark for Poison Study

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To join, grab a copy of the book and sign up at the bottom of our original post here

If you do not have a copy of the book, you can grab it at any book retailer (or any good library). Links to where you can find it for purchase online are below.

Find it at: GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoogle PlayBooks A MillionBook DepositoryKoboIndiebound

Make sure to stop by the blog tour stops for additional entries into the giveaway and some really cool posts! Click here for the full schedule!

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18. Poison Study Read Along Sign Ups

In anticipation of the 10th anniversary of POISON STUDY by Maria V. Snyder, we’re hosting a read-along! The read-along will take place from October 1st-31st and we will be reading a few chapters a week--see the schedule below. This is a great opportunity for those of us that are hardcore fans of the series to re-read the book and for those of you that have been wanting to read the book to finally do it!

Those of you who know me well know that Maria V. Snyder was instrumental in encouraging me to write about and promote books and literacy. I can just lose myself in the action and emotion of the books she writes. They really transport me to another world. I hope you decide to come along for a ride!

We have some amazing bloggers helping host the read-along. You can participate and follow along on any of their blogs!

Two Chicks on Books
Fiktshun
Parajunkee
Mundie Moms
Read Now Sleep Later (that's us!)

What would be required of you?

1. Just sign up in the Linky below and let us know you’re participating! (During the read-along you will be able to add your blog posts to a Rafflecopter for a chance to win one of the awesome giveaway prizes!)
2. Post once a week during the month of October (preferably on Friday or Saturday). The post can be about anything you’ve read that week.
3. Join the conversation on Twitter. There will be no set times, just tweet when the mood strikes, using the hashtag #PoisonStudyReadAlong
 

Maria will be hosting an open Q&A session on her Poison Study 10 Year Celebration Facebook Page, so if you have questions for her while reading head on over there! The characters from POISON STUDY will also be answering questions there, so feel free to stop by and ask Yelena, Valek, Ari, Janco - or anyone else you meet in POISON STUDY - anything you’d like to know. Maria will also be posting links to her website where she’ll be sharing chapter notes and hosting an exclusive giveaway!

The read-along schedule

October 4th-10th: Chapters 1-8
October 11th-17th: Chapters 9-17
October 18th-24th: Chapters 18-25
October 25th-31st: Chapters 26-32 and closing post

The giveaway

In conjunction with the read-along there will also be a blog tour the first two weeks of October. The read-along and blog tour will hosting the same amazing “10 prizes for 10 years” giveaway, and some of these prizes are very, very rare!

If you do not have a copy of the book, you can grab it at any book retailer. Links to where you can find it for purchase online are below.

About the Book:
Title: POISON STUDY
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Pub. Date: October 1, 2005
Publisher: Luna
Pages: 416
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Books A Million, Book Depository, Kobo, Indiebound

Choose: A quick death . . . or slow poison.

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear...

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19. If You Feel Too Much

Sorry we haven't been posting much lately! Alethea is just on the verge of recovering from a move that started a month ago... finally reaching the late stages of unpacking, and has found the book she started reading four or more weeks ago. Until she finishes, here's Carolyn Gruss from Kid Lit Frenzy covering If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski. Thanks, Carolyn!

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If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

Publication date: 26 May 2015 by Penguin Random House/Tarcher

Category: Young Adult Nonfiction

Keywords: Suicide, Depression, Recovery

Format: Hardcover, enhanced ebook, audiobook

Source: ARC from publisher for review

About the book

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it's okay to ask for help.

Carolyn's Review

If You Feel Too Much is a lyrical set of short essays, many of which were originally posted as blog posts. The entries are at times insightful and touching, and the honesty of not knowing what to do or how to process what’s going on was both unexpected and impactful. The entries, which read more like eloquent and candid musings than drawn-out essays, focus on different topics, often Tworkowski’s thoughts on current events, holidays, or the growth of To Write Love On Her Arms.

While hope is a common theme throughout the book, the purpose of the entries is not simply to uplift the reader or make them feel better. But I find that the complex narrative of Tworkowski’s life inherently more comforting simply for its virtue of honesty. The acknowledgement of seemingly-mundane pain of living life while struggling with mental illness is at once heartening and all too familiar. The book never feels disingenuous or contrived, and the candidness of the entries is what I found the most appealing and the most hopeful.

While some entries might be slightly too honest for some (for those who are really struggling, there are parts that could be triggering), If You Feel Too Much is a phenomenal book that I know will impact and help many people who are struggling.

Find the book on TWLOHA.com

About the author

Jamie Tworkowski grew up in the surfing world and later fell in love with music and writing. TWLOHA began as his attempt to tell a story and help a friend in 2006. Today, Jamie spends much of his time on the road, telling the TWLOHA story and encouraging audiences at universities, concerts, and music festivals. He has been interviewed by NBC Nightly NewsCBS Sunday Morning and Rolling Stone magazine. Jamie’s favorite things are his family and friends (especially his new nephews, Landon and Declan), music, surfing, basketball (#TeamKorver), and Dr. Pepper. He drinks iced coffee every morning, even when it’s snowing. Not many people know this, but Jamie is an introvert. His first book, If You Feel Too Much, is now available.

About our guest reviewer

Carolyn Gruss blogs about YA books on Fridays at Kid Lit Frenzy.


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20. Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten

Ah, back-to-school: sad but true, there are some youngsters who are already up and at 'em for another year of edumacation. But what if you've never been? Author/illustrator Marc Brown explores the first day of school jitters in this recent release, Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten. Read on, and you also have the chance to win a copy!

Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown

Publication date: 23 June 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Category: Picture book

Keywords: Anxiety, first day of school, social skills

Format: Hardcover

Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

About the Book

Marc Brown, creator of the beloved Arthur books and TV show, offers a charming new character—and a fun and reassuring story about preparing for the first day of school.
 
Kindergarten is only a week away... but Monkey is NOT ready. What if he gets on the wrong bus? What if they don’t have any red crayons? What if he doesn’t like the snacks? What if he doesn’t make new friends? There are so many thoughts running through Monkey’s head! But step by step, his family eases his worries: they get him a new backpack, help him read books about school, prepare his lunch, and make sure Monkey is excited—and ready—for the Big Day.

Alethea's Review

If you're an Arthur fan, you probably think of Marc Brown's iconic artwork as flat, flesh-toned anthropomorphic characters, most notably Arthur (an aardvark-ish youngster) and his sister, D.W. Indeed, Brown's prolificness in books and TV makes this association with humor, heart, and animals that would look perfectly at home in a minivan almost unavoidable. Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten definitely carries this signature style, without the flatness we're used to from Arthur.

Monkey is drawn in scribbles that look like crayon spattered with paint or what looks like watercolor resist (it's really colored pencil and gouache). The backgrounds are delightfully busy, riddled with letters and numbers you sometimes have to squint to see. The splotches and scratches, along with the childlike scrawl of the text, leap off the page in gorgeous bright color. You'll still recognize a bit of what we expect from Marc Brown in the roundness of the monkey family's eyes and the shapes of their heads; the cheerfully suburban outfits of Mom, Dad, and Monkey; and the playful, sweet dynamic between Monkey and his older brother, but the flatness is gone. I, for one, don't miss it.

Meanwhile, the family tries different things to soothe Monkey's anxiety about his first day of school. They go to the library and look at books, talk with his friends (some of whom have already heard about kindergarten from their older siblings), and play pretend-school, drilling the numbers 1 through 12 and the letters from A to Z. As much as they try to help, Monkey's still not ready. Will he ever be? 

Brown is known for inserting his own kids into his Arthur books, so if you look carefully, you might spot some familiar looking elements, an homage to Jean de Brunhoff--and maybe Richard Scarry, or is it just my imagination?--as well as images that look like they might have some sort of back story to them. (Look closely at the books in the library, if you get a chance.) I'd like to ask Marc for these stories, but I'd be equally happy coming up with my own ideas of what these are and why they're here. 

All in all, Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten is a good addition to that list of books to get kids excited and prepared for their first day of school, like First Day Jitters and Countdown to Kindergarten. Not just that, but I can see a whole line of books developing with our anxious little protagonist at its core (the mom is pregnant)! There may be scary times ahead in life, but with family and friends to learn from, Monkey's in good hands.

4 Stars - Stay up late

Find the book: IndieBound | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository

Find the author: www.marcbrownstudios.com

Giveaway Time!

Win a copy of Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten by Marc Brown. The sample for review and giveaway were provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

  • Open to US only, ends 8/23/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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21. Getting the Words Out (10)

Hello everyone!

It's been kind of a rough summer for me--the "moving house" period is stretching into week 8 (4 weeks pre-Moving Day and 3+ weeks and counting on post-move activities) with no end in sight. Well, I'm sure other people can see an end in sight for me, but at this point, I'm too tired to see it! Every remaining pile (and there are lots of them) looks like it's going to take days to clear. We're whittling away at it.

Yesterday, we upholstered 2 more of the 6 IKEA dining chairs we got from Craigslist. 2 to go, and I can finally cross another thing off my to-do list. 

I am hoping that in 1 more week I can give myself permission to read again (instead of listening to an audiobook or podcast, which to be honest I haven't been doing that much of either). Now I'm having trouble deciding what to read first. Help me decide and you could win a book worth up to $25 US Dollars!

My top 10 choices of what to read next are:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Seriously, just look at it. I loaned it to a bookseller friend, so this decision would be more of "when do I bug her about getting the book back?" rather than what to read next. I got about 1/3 through before I was rudely interrupted by real life responsibilities :(

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The Heart of Betrayal by Mary Pearson

I've had this for a while and yes, normally I would have torn through this in a day, but it's hard to read while re-upholstering chairs. I really adored the first one.

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I'm really intrigued by the formatting of this book. Watch a teaser video below.

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Rook by Sharon Cameron

I loved Sharon Cameron's debut, The Dark Unwinding, and my bookseller friend is writing a review of this book right now. Stay tuned for further developments!

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Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

I've been trying to get back into Steampunk, and this looks like it might be entertaining. 

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Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

I really didn't bother reading about this--they had me at the cover, and I'll just discover what it's all about when I crack open the book. I've found that TV has been much more pleasant to watch when I don't have expectations before I begin viewing a particular show; I'm hoping the same is true with books.

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Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Adored Heather Dixon's Entwined--and despite its girl in pretty dress cover, this one is high on my TBR pile.

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Denton's Little Death Date by Lance Rubin

This also had me at the cover. From what I've heard, this probably fits my sense of humor to a T.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

I actually started this the other night, but am trying to be good and do some more unpacking/tidying up on weekdays. Unreliable narrators and alternating points of view? Love the cover, too.

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Lumière by Jacqueline Garlick

I'm a little wary of this steampunk title, but the cover really grabbed me and they used one of my favorite fonts for the title.

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What do you think? Suggest a book (from the list or not, up to you) and let me know what book you would like to win. Open internationally--the book will be from my local bookstore, Once Upon a Time, if the winner is in the US, and from bookdepository.com if the winner is outside the US.

Giveaway time!

Win a YA, MG, or PB book worth up to $25 USD. Just enter with the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1. Open internationally, ends 9/8/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the Facebook post if you want to Share it for another Entry. Remember to fill it out on the Rafflecopter each day that you do this for another chance to win!

All right, International RNSL fans--now's your chance! I'm giving away a book up to $25 USD and it's open to all...

Posted by Read Now Sleep Later on Monday, August 24, 2015

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22. Little Robot Blog Tour

Thanks to First Second Books for providing a review copy and a giveaway for Ben Hatke's latest title, Little Robot, due out this coming Tuesday (09/01/2015)! Read on for my honest review, and remember to check the rest of the blog tour stops along the way for more reviews and chances to win!

About the Book

When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it's all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Ben Hatke brings his signature sweetness to a simple, moving story about friendship and overcoming fears that will appeal to readers of all ages.

 

Visit the publisher's page to view excerpts and find links to purchase the book.

Click here to find out more

 

About the Author

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Zita the Spacegirl graphic novel trilogy and the picture book Julia's House for Lost Creatures. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. His latest book is Little Robot.

Alethea's Review

Even if you've never read a Ben Hatke book or graphic novel before, you're in for a treat with Little Robot. Hatke's drawing and storytelling style is deceptively simple; at first glance it doesn't seem like there's much going on--muted color palette, subtle lines, mostly wordless panels. But as you turn the pages, a deeper appreciation takes root as you get to know the characters and their quirks. 

A lonesome little girl finds a robot after it literally falls off a truck. Unpacking the Little Robot, she tinkers with it a bit as it seems unsteady and unsure. After parking the little robot in a junkyard car overnight, she returns the next day for adventures and play. Little Robot goes along with her, and for a while things are great--but then a big, mean robot from the warehouse is sent to retrieve the missing unit. As if that weren't enough to deal with, Little Robot doesn't seem to understand the difference between "alive" and "not alive", and starts to look for things that are a little more like him, and a lot less like his new friend.

Hatke deftly illustrates emotion, not just on the part of the little girl--her elation at finding a companion, the enthusiasm she puts into fixing things with her tools (she wears them on a handy utility belt), and her dismay when her new pal seems less interested in her and more interested in an abandoned pickup truck they find. He also infuses personality into everything from a beat up old truck to a perky transistor radio, and admirably does so with an economy of words. Little Robot and various other androids that appear later in the book show varying degrees of sentience, and the interplay between them makes for some funny, but also touching, scenes. Tension builds when Little Robot, Little Girl, and Big Robot's objectives clash and result in some unexpected twists. A few action sequences also liven up the plot, and the little girl has to rely on her wits and mechanical know-how to get out of a tight spot.

Aside from presenting us with spirited, playful art and a compelling tale, Hatke takes a "traditionally" boy topic (technology) and turns it on its ear with a non-white female character as the protagonist, doing so without losing the everyman (or everywoman?) appeal of a darned good yarn. 

5 stars - stay up all night

Blog Tour Schedule

Read Now Sleep Later, 8/31 http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Teen Lit Rocks, 9/1 http://teenlitrocks.com/

Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup, 9/2 https://innocencewalker.wordpress.com/

Bibliophilia, Please, 9/3 http://www.bibliophiliaplease.com/

The Book Monsters, 9/4 http://thebookmonsters.com/

Fly to Fiction, 9/5 http://flytofiction.blogspot.com/

Bumbles & Fairy Tales, 9/6 http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com/

Stacked Books, 9/7 http://stackedbooks.org/

Ex Libris Kate, 9/8 http://exlibriskate.com/

The Book Rat, 9/9 http://www.thebookrat.com/

Working for the Mandroid, 9/10 http://www.workingforthemandroid.com/

Heise Reads, 9/11 http://www.heisereads.com/

The Hiding Spot, 9/12 http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/

Fleen, 9/13 http://fleen.com/

Cuddlebuggery, 9/14 http://cuddlebuggery.com/

Giveaway Time

Win Little Robot by Ben Hatke, prize provided by the publisher, First Second Books. Just enter with the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1. Open to the US only, ends 9/8/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.

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23. Lady of Magick

Thanks to Ace for including us in the blog tour for Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick! Review copy and giveaway book are provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Read on for more information!

I really loved The Midnight Queen, Sylvia Izzo Hunter's deliciously wordy compote of Tudor alternate history stewed in a heady mix of magic and romance. Please note, if you haven't read the first book, the About section and review of the sequel contains unavoidable spoilers. If you don't wish to read spoilers, skip down to the giveaway.

About the Book

Sylvia Izzo Hunter brought “both rural Brittany and an alternative Regency England to vivid life”* in The Midnight Queen, her debut novel of history, magic, and myth. Now, in her new Noctis Magicae novel, Sophie and Gray Marshall are ensnared in an arcane plot that threatens to undo them both.
 
In her second year of studies at Merlin College, Oxford, Sophie Marshall is feeling alienated among fellow students who fail to welcome a woman to their ranks. So when her husband, Gray, is invited north as a visiting lecturer at the University in Din Edin, they leap at the chance. There, Sophie’s hunger for magical knowledge can finally be nourished. But soon, Sophie must put her newly learned skills to the test.
 
Sophie returns home one day to find a note from Gray—he’s been summoned urgently to London. But when he doesn’t return, and none of her spells can find a trace of him, she realizes something sinister has befallen him. With the help of her sister, Joanna, she delves into Gray’s disappearance, and soon finds herself in a web of magick and intrigue that threatens not just Gray, but the entire kingdom.

*National Bestselling Author Juliet Marillier

Alethea's Review

Fans of fantasy and romance need look no further than Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick for an entertaining read full of royal intrigue, daringly disobedient young ladies, and regional politics. When her husband Gray is invited to a foreign university as a guest lecturer, twenty-year-old Sophie Marshall (the recently reinstated "Lost" Princess Royal of England, Edith Augusta) rejoices, having heard that unlike Merlin, her current Oxford college, the Alban magic schools treat women no differently than men in terms of what they are allowed and expected to do. Tensions between Alba and England are at a low boil, but eventually she and Gray are granted leave to go abroad. At least she can rely on her wits and magick (and a pair of her father's undercover agents) to keep her royal identity relatively under wraps.

When an alliance is announced between their heir and an English prince, the news kicks off protests and unrest in Alba. Determined to stick it out to the end of the school year at least, Sophie relies on new friends to help her and Gray stay safe while continuing their teaching and studies. Meanwhile in London, Joanna, as an aide to Gray's brother-in-law Lord Kergabet, tries to juggle discretion in her work with the desire to keep her sister safely informed of problems looming on the horizon. Things take a turn for the worse when Gray is kidnapped, and a conspiracy starts to emerge signaling that mounting political pressures are about to erupt.

I adore the relationship between Sophie and Gray, as for all their newly-weddedness, they're rarely precious. They have interests and friends besides each other, but manage to balance those priorities with more pressing matters, like, say, the fate of several kingdoms. Those looking for clean-ish reads will appreciate Hunter's fade-to-black approach to love scenes. (And may I remind you that they're husband and wife?) That said, the novel isn't solely focused on heterosexual relationships, but introduces platonic and homosexual ones as well, however some of the latter may as yet be unexplored. I suspect we'll find out more about it in the next book (I sure hope there's a next book!)

Hunter manages to take a fairly frivolous first impression (young marrieds study magic abroad) and turn it into a thoughtful, brilliant tapestry, adding depth and a layer of seriousness to what could have been a purely escapist yarn. The author also does a credible job of weaving the intricate threads of world-building and characterization to produce a substantial, yet still thoroughly diverting tale of drawing rooms, state lines, family ties, and ancient power. 

5 stars - Stay Up All Night

About the Author

Sylvia Izzo Hunter was born in Calgary, Alberta, but now lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. Visit her online at http://sylviaizzohunter.ca or on Twitter at @sylviawritesthings

Giveaway Time!

Win Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick. Prize provided by the publisher. If you comment on the post, Alethea will throw in a copy of The Midnight Queen (or another paperback if you say you already have it!) if you are chosen as the winner!

Please use the hashtags #LadyofMagick and #ad if you tweet. Just enter with the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1. Open to US, ends 9/18/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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24. Rook

Here's Kate with a review of Sharon Cameron's Rook. I loved The Dark Unwinding and am so glad any time I see something new from Sharon Cameron. Read on!

About the Book

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she. 

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Kate's Review

I’m a fan of The Dark Unwinding series so I was very excited to read this new book. I have to say my excitement grew when I discovered its similarities in feel and adventure to one of my all time favorite novels, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy. If you are looking for a swashbuckler of a story, this book is definitely for you.

Although the story is set in a dystopian era after an event referred to as The Great Death, you can feel an historical sense of the French Revolution and the chaos that ran rampant in the streets of Paris. Just as in that time, Cameron has set up a clash between the classes separated into the Upper and Sunken Cities. This clash has created an opportunistic dictator and his loyal henchman set on destroying the upper class by any means possible, including religious fanaticism as well as political persecution. 

In this atmosphere, we met Sophia Bellamy. She has taken on the role of family savior as well as society's champion for Justice.  This is another great female protagonist to root for as she strives to save those who can’t save themselves, and possibly achieve her own happiness in the process.

As this is a Young Adult novel, there are the makings of a love triangle, but we aren’t left hanging as to what our heroine feels and who truly has her heart. We are given ringside seats as Sophia tries to reconcile her old life to the possibility of a new one and find the courage to make the changes necessary. I have to say I’m a fan of this latest bad boy rogue, Rene.  His dry wit and sarcasm really make his “fool” persona a winner in my book.

Overall, I really enjoyed the adventure of reading this book. The pacing was just right for the action and I never felt like it stalled with explanations of time, place, or atmosphere. Although the dystopian references did throw me at times, the historical feel of the story usually had me back on track in no time. There are disguises, fencing, narrow escapes, explosions and a few Channel crossings to boot. Who can ask for more?

4 Stars - Stay up late

Find the book on Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

These are not affiliate links.

About the author

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. Find out more at http://sharoncameronbooks.com and tweet @cameronsharone


Have you read Rook or any other Sharon Cameron book? If you haven't, would you want to? Let us know in the comments!

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25. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials - Interview and Giveaway

Alethea recently had the amazing privilege of sitting down for a chat with the cast of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (PG-13), coming to theaters everywhere on September 18! Read on for more from the interview with Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden, and Rosa Salazar. Make sure you enter to win a copy of the book signed by the cast (!!!) and a $25 gift certificate so you can go watch The Scorch Trials at your local movie theater*. Remember to use the hashtag #ScorchTrials when you tweet at us about this film!

*US Only, ends 9/17/2015, and if your local theater doesn't have gift cards, I'll send it to the winner some other way. Book prize was provided by, and Screening/Junket were hosted by 20th Century Fox.

Director Wes Ball again helms the cast of The Maze Runner in The Scorch Trials, with T.S. Nowlin adapting James Dashner's novel, the second in the series. The relief that Thomas and the Gladers may have felt after escaping the maze in the first film evaporates as a chopper drops them in the middle of The Scorch, a big, burning, dusty nowhere, and despite the food, clothes, and (finally!) real beds provided by their caretakers, it quickly dawns on them that they've just exchanged one prison for another. 

The second movie picks up the moment the first one leaves off, and lead actor Dylan O'Brien (Thomas) told us what it was like to get back into character. "Everyone was just like, giddy, jumping up in the hallways." Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) confirmed he'd sent them videos of himself jumping in the hotel, "'cause we were that excited". Putting the costume back on reminded Ki Hong Lee (Min Ho) how he felt at the end of the last film, and Dexter Darden (Frypan) reminisced that the cast mates have been able to know each other and feel like a family. Indeed, the group has a relaxed way with each other that makes it difficult to believe it's anything but real camaraderie.

I asked them about the stunts, which O'Brien said were pretty fun. Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt) chimed in, "It’s us traveling through this scorched, barren landscape. And so, if we weren’t kind of put to the test ourselves, then I don’t think it would’ve been as realistic." Darden added, "[Wes Ball] just allows us to throw ourselves in. And that’s what gets the real performance."

The Scorch Trials was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in contrast to the greenery of Louisiana where Maze Runner was filmed. Asked about injuries on set, the cast recounted a sprained wrist (O'Brien), a broken ankle (Barry Pepper, who plays rebel leader Vince), and a concussion (Rosa Salazar, who joins the original cast as a possible ally named Brenda). Scodelario, Lee, and Darden all ended up in the hospital at some point. Darden mused, "I think Albuquerque’s just kind of a different beast because you’re dealing with altitude and you’re dealing with less oxygen as well. And this movie was definitely more physical.... I think our bodies were just kind of running down and just saying, hey, slow down a little bit." Scodelario joked that one of them must have taken an ancient relic, but also seriously praised the health care they received, nodding as she said, "Albuquerque Hospital was, by the way, really great."

Regarding their new cast member, veteran actor Giancarlo Esposito (Jorge, a gang leader in the Scorch), O'Brien recalls their excitement and the thrill of meeting him. "Just having a guy like that treating you, treating us like, one of his... It’s so weird for us. It’s such a trip because we admire a guy like that so much. And I’ve seen Giancarlo in movies since I was ten years old."

Scodelario talked about the ease of introducing new people into the mix. She noted how different the original cast's personalities were, and that this diversity is why they get along so well. "By the second, Jacob [Lofland] arrived, he was one of us. The second Rosa [Salazar] arrived, she was one of us... And there wasn’t anyone that was like, “Oh, I’m just going to go back to my room and watch TV.” Brodie-Sangster commented, "It was nice to have new people come in, and they do just, by the nature of it, inject a new energy... it’s quite nice because it reignites your energy for the piece as well."

The group chatted on about good-natured pranks (like Will Poulter, who played Gally, putting love letters in Frypan's apron during the first film's shoot), and forming a band with Ki Hong Lee's stand-in. "We did jam," affirmed Brodie-Sangster, who plays bass. "We should’ve gotten it going a lot sooner," gushed O'Brien, who used to drum for an indie rock band. "We regretted it because we only did it the last couple weeks that we were there. And then we were like, “Oh, my gosh.  Why haven’t we been jamming like this the whole time?” It was really cool."

Next up, we talked to Giancarlo Esposito and Rosa Salazar, the newbies of the group. They both confirmed that the original cast welcomed them in as soon as they arrived. "I gotta say we were welcomed really, really beautifully," offered Esposito, who expanded on working with director Wes Ball, how open he and the rest of the cast were to ideas about their characters that he and Salazar brought to work with them.

Their characters in the film are very closely entwined, but whether they are father and daughter or some other relationship is purposefully vague. "Partners to the utmost, you know?," said Salazar, sipping a green juice. Esposito echoed, "Partners. Exactly." Salazar continued, "It was very ambiguous on purpose, and thanks to Wes, it remained that way. Not all relationships need to be explained." 

Salazar said of The Scorch Trials, "When I read the script, I got really turned on by it, so I read the book. And, you can just devour this book. It's so readable. In a day you're just through it." The book and the film version are vastly different, but Esposito said, "No matter how different the script is than the book that the script is based on, it's always nice because we have a very close family. And what I love about this movie, is that James Dashner [the author] is a part of our family as well, and our writer, T.S. Nowlin, is also quite prolific at translating and bringing that book to the screen." 

Salazar told us a little about herself which relates in a direct way to her character, Brenda. "I feel like I have cultivated this tenacity over the years.  I didn't have a very picture perfect upbringing, so that kind of primed me for life... It was not a huge deal.  I grew up in the foster system, and I emancipated myself, which is a lot better than some people have, but when they hear, like, "Oh my gosh. That's so terrible." And, I'm like, well actually the world can be a pretty bleak and lonely and sort of competitive place, and if anything, it primed me to be able to handle that."

For Esposito, it was about helping others and being part of a group. He said, "What I love about this movie and why I chose it was because we are a family.  That's really it, it's the hand that reaches out that lifts someone else up that is the truth of why we're really here... All we really have here is all these things, whether they be physical things or money, and that's just a tool to be able to help someone else to realize their dream in this lifetime."

"And so I recognized that about Jorge.  He's found a place to save a bunch of people for as long as he can, and that makes him feel good but also allows them, empowers them to be able to have a moment, to be educated, to get strong--whatever it is--to be able to fight the next battle."

Asked what may account for young people being so drawn to books and movies like The Maze Runner series, Esposito alluded to a sense of hopelessness in the world. "I think we're in a state now with young people where they're looking not only to be entertained by movies, but they recognize that there is something different about this one and something more hopeful and deeper about it because this movie allows them to feel like they can be a part of a new world. Because we're just not looking for simply revenge. We're looking for freedom. We're looking to be together, and we're looking to create it in a whole new way."


I hope you enjoyed our coverage of The Scorch Trials! Check out the links below and enter to win the book and some movie money!

Visit the Official Website

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Please us #ScorchTrials when you are tweeting!

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