MINI Trailer for Come the Dark (Book 2 of the Forever Girl Series)

Gorgeous mini trailer for Come, The Dark, the second book in the Forever Girl series by Rebecca Hamilton.  Remember, I revealed the cover for this book a while ago.  If you're curious about the series, check out my review for book one, The Forever Girl.  

Book Buys: C.J.'s Picks for September 30, 2013

book buys
                    c.j. recommends


So, this may actually become a daily feature.  Basically, I follow Feed Your Reader religiously.  It's showed me the way of cheap Amazon deals and it's absolutely phenomenal.  But it's a lot to wade through and it doesn't necessarily focus on young adult stuff, which is my passion.  Plus, it often excludes deals that don't fit the blogger's market.  Which is totally fine, but that means that maybe I can step in to fill the gap.  

So daily (or as often as I can), I'll share my favorite deals of the day.  This will include Amazon daily deals as well as sales on Better World Books and from indie authors.  It will also include things I've just come across that happen to be cheap.  So check back often, because every post will have a ton of cheap deals!  I'll post a review if I have one, but a lot will be ones I want to read or ones I think young adult readers might be interested in.  

Deals are for the Kindle versions unless stated otherwise! 
$4.99                    $3.99                 $3.98                  $2.99                  $2.99

$0.00                      $0.00                   $0.00                 $0.99                     $4.99
Review                                                                                                             Review

Authors and publishers: have a deal? 
Send me the link 24 hours before it goes live (or more) and I'll post it! 

Review: The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke


title:  The Pirate's Wish

author Cassandra Rose Clarke

pages: 336

format: Paperback 

isbn/asin: 978-1908844286

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight), Tamora Pierce, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and the Pirates of the Carribbean movies.  Readers who love creative high fantasy that's more than elves and war.  Readers looking for diversity in setting and characters.  Anyone who loves a well-written, adventurous fantasy with a splash of romance.  

My Ratings Explained

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword and their wits. But Naji has unseen enemies, and Ananna must face the wrath of the Pirate Confederation.

Together, they must travel afar, defeat their foes and break the mother of all curses. With all this going on, falling in love would be such a bad idea... All of this and much, much more await, in the swashbuckling sequel to The Assassin's Curse.

the basics
If you haven't read The Assassin's Curse yet, you're missing out!  If you have, then you know how spectacular this series is.  If Throne of Glass is the champion of medieval European young adult fantasy (which I argue, it is), then this series is the champion of the Middle East.  Clarke's Arabic-inspired world is richly described and full of whimsical elements: floating islands, spoiled manticores, blood-magic-using assassins, and the formidable Pirate Confederation.  I can't love the magic system more; it's element-based but very different from the spell-chucking style of many high fantasies.  You have sea witches who commune with the water, wizards who cast unbreakable curses in riddles, and blood bonds.  

Then there are the characters.  I fell in love with Ananna immediately for her fierceness and badassery.  She's like a cruder Celaena with a dirty mouth.  Naji, the assassin, is gorgeously refined and also overprotective in a non-creepy way.  The side characters are way more than props--but we'll get to that.  Overall, this book is a worthy sequel to the first.  It has all the same adventure and a breakneck plot, but builds on the romance and the raises the stakes.  I couldn't put it down to save my life.  It's the kind of young adult fantasy that reminds me why I love reading, and leaves me feeling happy and eager for more.  

plot . 4/5
I know I just glowed about this book for two paragraphs, but it does have its weak points.  I think the plot isn't as tight as The Assassin's Curse.  That book followed pretty well from one crisis to another, with a strong central thread that kept you grounded.  This one had a few more bizarre sidesteps, so I felt jerked around sometime.  I also wondered a bit at how much development there was for one of the central plots.  However, suspend a little disbelief and my complaints end.  Pirate's Wish was fascinating start to end.  Ananna and Naji were ripped between a creepy island, a manticore's kingdom, a vengeful pirate battle, an underwater city--I won't spoil it, but there's a lot going on and Clarke really shows her creativity in every new plot turn. I think I might have said "Wow!" at one point.  And it gave me a lot of ideas about places my own book's world could use fleshing.  A book that makes me want to write is the best kind!  

concept . 5/5
This is high stakes fantasy, but with a bit more whimsy.  A little more lighthearted.  There's plenty of battles and blood, but you don't get the same dark, beleaguered feeling you get from Throne of Glass or, iconically, Game of Thrones.  It's a little more fun.  There are talking manticores who obsess over their manes.  Bubbly undersea critters with powerful magic.  Pirates!  It's a little sillier than some of your typical fantasies, and I love it for that.  Sometimes, you just want a read that isn't going to make you throw your book at the wall.  It also made me laugh, a lot.  Ananna is just clumsily funny and you get a lot of her flavor in the narrative.  It's a little more classic and fun-loving, a little more Narnia than The Lord of the Rings.  Not to mention, it takes fantasy to a Middle Eastern-style world, with a culture heavily drawn from Arabic culture (maybe Saracen-esque?).  Uncommon in young adult fantasy, and super refreshing.  Way more spices and flowing clothes than steel and fur coats.  

characters . 5/5
The characters are a huge strength for me.  First off, they're mostly nonwhite, which is tragically rare in a fantasy genre (and a young adult genre!) pretty dominated by pasty faces.  (Says the reviewer with the most vampiric of complexions.)  AND there's even a healthy lesbian relationship represented!  Yay diversity!  Also, the characters are just well-written.  I fell in love with Ananna on page one.  She's fierce, determined, clever, and has a mouth on her.  She's also endearingly insecure at times, and stubborn at others.  Her choices change the flow of the story; this isn't just something happening to her.  

Then there's Naji, the sweet and stuffy assassin bound to her.  Hate stalker-boys with hot tempers and sketchy "romantic" moves?  Look no further!  Naji is sweetly overprotective, more like a brother than a batterer, but also acknowledges Annana's own strengths and independence.  He's also mysterious, which is pretty hot.  Then there's Marjani, the badass pirate woman who takes on their cause and becomes a respected woman in a man's world.  The voice of reason and a great role model.  Did I mention a hilariously cleanliness-obsessed manticore who thinks humans are servants?  How can you not love this already!? 

style . 5/5
Clarke's style in this book isn't as lyrical as some fantasy readers may be used to.  That doesn't mean it's bad, by any means.  She's just more concise.  Pithier.  Instead of long, pretty descriptions (which she still has some of), she relies on clever turns of phrase and really innovative ways to look at things.  I got a great sense of my surroundings on every page.  The lack of flowery writing also helped keep the pace up, especially during the most exciting parts.  But there were also plenty of really pretty and clever lines for me to ogle over.   

mechanics . 5/5
Not much to complain about.  The arrangement of plot elements could have been less choppy, but the book itself was polished nicely.  Not a lot of unnecessary scenes or phrasing.  Which I hate.  

take home message
A whimsical, exciting fantasy that looks at the Eastern side of high fantasy and comes packed with adventure, romance, and pirates!   

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


Book News: Around the Internet #4 / Tips from the Pros #5

Book News
                    around the internet

I know, I know, I keep promising reviews and then I send you off to other sites with cool stuff.  Trust me, I'm not happy about it either.  But I've thought of a brilliant solution!  (And it's not just getting off my butt and writing freaking reviews.)  Maybe not brilliant, but I hope you'll appreciate it.  (:  In the meantime, check out some awesome writerly stuff on the web.  

Agents and Publishing

Jim Crace with Best Odds for Booker Prize
For the literary junkies.  Does anyone else find it funny that a prize for books is called the Booker Prize?  Anyone?  

Comic Book Industry

The state of comic books, and how to get yourself into this competitive field. 

Rook by Sharon Cameron
Sharon Cameron, author of The Dark Unwinding (which I gush about at length) just sold a young adult retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  I haven't read that either, but Rook includes a sunken city, an unwanted betrothal, and imminent death.  So I'm sold.   

Heartless by Melissa Meyer
Melissa Meyer sells a prequel to Alice in Wonderland about the rise of the Red Queen.  Um, so, I suck and haven't read Meyer yet, but she had me at "Alice." 

Goodreads' Growing Pains
CNN tackles how Goodreads' recent attempt to stop author bullying is being pegged as censorship by some, and has sent reviewers fleeing to other sites.  

Life Beyond Vampires in Young Adult
The Guardian discusses what all us bloggers figure out a long time ago: that there is life beyond vampires, and it's full of hundreds of amazing books.  Gets points for naming two UK series that sound fabulous and were previously unknown to me.  

Tips for Writers

Book Blurb Blunders

A look at some of the most annoying, cliched phrases in book blurbs.  A quirky, unflinching portrait.  

Fun Bookish Stuff

Harry Potter Proposal

Um, I feel like I should send this to my future spouse as a big hint.  How could you say no!? 

Most Evil Characters
A discussion of the 11 most evil characters in books throughout history.  I agree totally with Patrick Bateman (from American Psycho by the devious Bret Easton Ellis), but Lucifer is just cheating.  

From the Blogosphere

Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: Review

Books of Amber reviews one of my favorite books of all time!  Not young adult, but definitely essential for the more mature crowd.  

Soulless by Gail Carriger: Review
Christina Reads YA reviews a steampunky book.  Is it just me, or are umbrellas and colorful Victorian women taking over?   

25 Must-Reads with Gay Characters
A great list for people looking for diversity in sexual orientation.  Most exciting part: I have already seen many of these all over the internet!  

Movie Franchise Flops
What the recent failures of The Host and The Mortal Instruments (*crying*) on the silver screen tells us about the state of young adult.  


Book News: 15 Banned Children's Books, Again for Absurd Reasons

book news
                    banned books

Was the first list not enough?  Well, fear not!  America has plenty of examples of books banned for ridiculous reasons.  This time, children's books.  Did you know that Winnie the Pooh is a Nazi?  The author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a Marxist philosopher (oops, that one was a mistake)?  And can you guess which children's book promotes homosexual seduction?  Oh yeah.  Check out Buzzfeed's list of 15 Children's Books Banned in America.   


Book News: 15 Books Banned for Absurd Reasons

book news
                    banned books

While I don't think there's a good reason to censor a book (even the creepy ones you can find on Worst Things for Sale), I can logically understand why Christians would hate Harry Potter for supporting witchcraft or why conservative parents might fear The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for depicting teenage sex and drug use.  I still think it's dumb, but I can understand it.  Then there are the people who get more creative.  Can you guess which Puritan novel was challenged for being "pornographic"?  Or which children's book was reviled for depicting talking animals (which is just wrong)?  Check out Buzzfeed's list of 15 books banned for absurdly hilarious reasons.  


Book News: China restricts children's books

book news
                    chinese market

So, speaking of Banned Books Week, let's look at some potential censorship going on in China.  The children's book market is still blooming in China, enough to attract the government's attention.  A recent document calls for more restriction of the market.  The document targets quality and excessive prices, but also calls for special editing teams to review books.  Specifically, they want to remove children's books containing "murder, violence, obscenity, and erotic content."  It's unclear from the article exactly what counts in each of these areas, but in my humble opinion, there's a lot of danger for wide interpretation--and many perfectly acceptable, important books lost. 

What are your thoughts on this action in China against content in children's books?  


Giveaway: Banned Books Week Hop 2013 (INT)

welcome to the banned books week giveaway!

Censorship sucks.  It takes important issues that need to be talked about and tries to hide them.  But, guess what?  Pretending they don't exist doesn't make them go away.  Maybe you don't want your kids reading about them...so what do you do when it happens to them?  Knowledge is power.  Don't be powerless.   

Enter this giveaway to win a young adult book of your choice that has been challenged or banned...and go to the rest of the hop for more great prizes! 

Need some inspiration?  Check out these great banned/challenged books.

Click the covers for my review!  

This giveaway will run until September 28th. 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
<!-- end LinkyTools script –>


Book News: Around the Internet #2 / Writing Tips from the Pros #4

Book News
                    around the internet

So, I know I've been quiet lately.  That's due to (a) grad school, (b) persistent lack of sleep, and (c) choosing to work on some of my own, neglected projects.  Fear not!  I have reviews underway for your reading pleasure and they'll come next week to wag their puppydog tails. ...  But for now, here are some awesome writerly things from around the web.  

Agents and Publishing

James Patterson Gives Back
Superstar crime-writer (and everything-writer) James Patterson gives $1 million dollars in support of indie bookstores.  Go indies!  

New Book Deal: Lexa Hillyer

HarperCollins editor Hillyer inks a deal for a book about girl friendship and summer secrets.  Sounds pretty cool.  

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 
Simon Teen talks about the new sequel to Burned.  

Vicious and Others
Victoria Schwab talks her new novel, comicon, and some other fun stuff.  I can't wait for Vicious!  

Tips for Writers

Book Business Plan

Writers often have to be marketers too.  Four reasons why you should have a business plan for your book.  

Terry McMillan on Writing
Bestseller McMillan talks about how she creates authentic characters, how she writes, and how writing changes her.  

Fact-Based Fiction 
Sprinkling your stories with reality keeps readers grounded and adds some truth to your fiction.  

Your Inner Villain
Writers are nice people.  Villains are not nice people.  How to overcome your niceness to write truly dastardly villains.  

5 Series Mistakes
Writing a fiction series?  Here are five big issues to avoid.  

Emotional Frustration 
Create emotional frustration in your characters to keep the plot tense and exciting. 

How to Publish a Short Story
Short stories are a great bridge to selling a novel--and a great end in themselves.  How and where to get published.  

Flog a Pro: Ender's Game
Ray Rhamy looks at the first page of Ender's Game, whether he'd request a full manuscript, and why--or why not.  

Fun Bookish Stuff

Sunday Book Quiz

Think you know young adult books?  Miss Page Turner tests your bookish knowledge.  

YA Movers and Shakers
Goodreads looks at September's most exciting reads, including All the Truth That's In Me and All Our Yesterdays.  

September Book Covers
Vote for your favorite September Young Adult book cover!  I'm in love with 3:59. 

From the Blogosphere

Theater Illuminata: Series Review

So Respiring Thoughts didn't like this one, but the Alice in Wonderland elements intrigue me.  What do you think?  

Why Fantasy Trumps Contemporary
Christina Reads YA tackles the issue: why is fantasy so much more compelling for her?  (I tend to agree!)  

Bookish Rounds 13
Christina Reads YA gathers bookish info from ALL over the web!  Trust me, she does a way better job of it than I do.  :P 

Wordpress Tips
Are you a blogger?  Parajunkee gives you a crack list of tips to make your blog awesome.  


Musing: Suicide Prevention Week 2013

an open letter 

On this Friday the 13th, I want you to remember one thing:

Statistically, you will feel better.

I know it’s a weird thing to say when talking about depression.  When talking about suicide.  It’s the kind of thing people will tell you and you’ll smile, and nod, if you still can, and you’ll ignore them.  It sounds trite.  Impossible.  Well, humor a nerdy psych major for a moment. 

That’s right, psych major.  That doesn’t mean I have all the secrets.  That means that when I was depressed, the cry-every-day kind, I knew what was going on.  I knew I had the symptoms.  I knew the average length of a depressive episode.  And I knew that I would probably have one again.  Most of all, I knew all the things I should (and I use that word in the most glib sense) be doing.  Get regular sleep.  Go out and do fun things.  Eat regularly. 

Ha. Ha ha ha.  Knowing what I should do didn’t make it any easier to get out of bed.  Or eat regular meals.  Or stay asleep for longer than four hours.  And I wasn’t even down in the darkest of it.  Wretched as I felt, I never wanted to kill myself.  Never wanted to be dead, passively, to fade away like something already gone. 

So how can I say, “You will feel better”?  Because I know it’s true.  Statistically.  Maybe it’s silly, but it kept me going during the lowest point in my life.  Nothing stays stable forever.  No matter how low you are, you will have to regress to the mean, bounce back to average.  Not in a day.  Not in a week.  But maybe in a month, or a couple of months.  You have to, because just as happiness fades to sadness, sadness must fade back.  Math doesn’t lie. 

I told you it sounded silly.  Wait?  Do nothing?  Expect to get better?  Of course not.  Rage.  Tear pages from your journal.  Run until your legs give out.  Sleep and cry.  Try medication or therapy and do those things we know can speed up recovery.  But always, always remember that nothing lasts forever. 

Not even misery. 

And whoever you are, I love you, I hope for you, and I pray to something unknown that you find your own hope.  You cannot be replaced.  Statistically, you are unique.  And you deserve to find contentment.  Even if it takes a while.  


Waiting on Wednesday: Sacrifice by Jessica Fortunato

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

jessica fortunato


out august 30, 2013

As an immortal Sin Collector, Liliana lead a transient life of solitude for over one-hundred years.

Now with a growing family, she has found herself liking normalcy and the fa├žade of being human. However, when old friends begin to turn up dead, it is clear Collectors are not safe. The battle that Liliana thought she’d won, has only just begun.

She must save herself, her family, and her friends from the Castus, a fanatical group sworn to eradicate her kind. As Liliana travels the globe making allies, and discovering secrets, she soon learns that the threat to her safety is closer than she ever thought possible.

Will she be able to fight her fate, or will she succumb to an ancient Castus prophecy?

c.j.'s thoughts

So, are you into paranormal romance?  I didn't think I was.  Then I read The Sin Collector.  This is no Twilight.  You have death, danger, and a pretty cool heroine with a sensitive side who can still kick a lot of butt.  Don't forget mystery and a Dan Brown-esque historical conspiracy.  Plus, you know, immortals who take the sins of others into themselves to give the dying peace--at the cost of their own sanity.  I mean, do you need more?  If you do, read my review because Fortunato has a knack for twisting real legends and paranormal elements into something exciting and fun.  (It's also great if you're looking for a new adult book that's NOT about some naive college girl falling for a bad boy.  You know, one with a plot.)  And then, check out Sacrifice, sequel to The Sin Collector.  Here, we revisit Lily as she's swept off into a new adventure against the secret society killing her kind.  I'm super excited to finish reading it.  Need more Sin Collector?  Check out the novella, Thomas!  And then look for my review of Sacrifice, coming soon!