Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Release Day Spotlight: In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard


Today, I'm spotlighting In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard. Check out the gorgeous cover and find out more about the book below....




About the book...

Title: In the Vanishers' Palace
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Series: n/a
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/ Release Date: JABberwocky Literary Agency; October 16, 2018
Cover art by/cover design by: Kelsey Liggett; Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein and Melanie Ujimori

Synopsis from Goodreads...

From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast...


In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land... A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world. A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference. When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement. But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets....

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Google Play


Early Praise....

“Another stellar offering by Bodard. Her signature intensity is on display in this tale of people (and dragons) struggling to survive in the ruins of an alien conquest. Emotionally complex relationships interweave with richly drawn and deftly nuanced world-building.” —Kate Elliott, author of the Court of Fives series

“A transformative experience. With dragons.” —Fran Wilde, Hugo and Nebula nominated author of The Bone Universe and The Gemworld series

"Gorgeously atmospheric queer fantasy (…) Like Jane Eyre if Rochester was a woman plus a dragon."—Zen Cho, author of The Terracotta Bride and Sorcerer to the Crown



About the author...

Aliette de Bodard writes speculative fiction: her short stories have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. She is the author of the Xuya continuity, set in a galactic empire inspired by Vietnamese culture (The Tea Master and the Detective, The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, gOn a Red Station, Drifting), and of the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (2017 European Science Fiction Society Achievement Award, Locus Award finalist). She lives in Paris....

Photo credit:  Lou Abercrombie.




     

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Witch 2018 Repaint...

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned that I wanted to get back into making art related posts again. So, one of the things I wanted to do this October was redo some of the art I posted around this time last year. And the one that stood out to me first was the witch watercolor painting I did. I know I can do better now, and that’s the main reason why I wanted to tackle this project. Before I get into the process behind my updated version of this painting, I want to show the old one for comparison.

It’s not bad, but I can see all the places I went wrong on this painting. My layers were too dark too soon, and the colored pencils didn’t blend well at all unlike the Prismacolor ones I’m currently using.

The process…

Going into this project, I knew I wanted to take my time before I put paint to paper. I usually do some planning, but for this one I did more sketches before making a decision on which direction I wanted to go. I’ve been trying to change my process for more detailed pieces. So, I started out by looking at the original version + the old sketches and determining what I liked about them. From there, I made some new sketches for it while keeping in mind that I wanted to keep some of the key features including: the hat, the dress, and the two-tone hair. Once I was happy with the overall look, I started playing around with some of the other aspects of the sketch such as: the hat, and if I wanted to change the position of the arm and add a bird or not. However, I ended up scrapping the latter idea because I wanted to maintain some of the simplicity found in the original. I’d also decided to stick with watercolor and colored pencil instead of using a different medium like digital or acrylic paint.

Once I’d figured everything out, next was my favorite part: the actual painting part of the whole process. I enjoyed this part a lot. I had a loose idea of the colors I wanted to use, and in the end, I didn’t end up using as many darker tones as I thought I would. The purples, blues, oranges, pinks, and reds looked better when side by side with the other painting I’m going to be talking about later this month. After I was fine with where the color was at, I finished the painting off with colored pencil, bronze Sharpie, and little hints of white gel pen….

The finished painting…



Here’s a closer look at it....




Up next, I’m going to be talking about a different painting I worked on that I’ve nicknamed the Spider Bride….




Supply List...

Sakura Koi Watercolors 
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils 
Artist Loft Level 2 140lb watercolor paper 
Bronze Metallic Sharpie 
Gelly Roll white gel pen



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Mem by Bethany C. Morrow

36211478Title: Mem
Series: n/a
Author: Bethany C Morrow
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; hardcover
More Details: Science Fiction; Historical
Publisher/Publication Date:

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source ― zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault....
I was immediately fascinated by the concept of Mem by Bethany C. Morrow. It’s a story that’s centered around extracting memories that become Mems, which linger for months or even years. The Mems are trapped in a single moment of time—often the reason for being extracted in the first place. Sounds terrible, right? Well, from the perspective of a Mem, it is. The case of the narrator differs from other Mems because she was capable of creating her own memories. And that was the greatest aspect of the book. Elsie is Delores Extract #1, and her story was as intriguing as it was, at times, heartbreaking. The circumstances she had to endure because of what she was—through no fault of her own—raised a lot of interesting questions about rights and control of one’s body when others don’t recognize your agency as a person. There was also a mixture of science fiction elements—the memory extractions, and the care of the Mems—as well as historical aspects that had to do with the art deco-esque setting. Overall, Mem left quite an impression for such a short novel. And it’s likely that I’ll end up reading Morrow’s next book....

Monday, October 8, 2018

Music Monday (60): Pentatonix, Kimbra, Sting & Shaggy

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: At first, I was going to skip Music Monday today, because I haven’t been listening to anything that I haven’t already talked about once or twice. But then, Pentatonix came out with a cover of Making Christmas from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love that movie. And I love the cover and music video they did for the song.... 


Also, Kimbra released a reimagined version of Black Sky. It’s actually one of my favorite tracks from Primal Heart. And while I still love the original song—and I recommend that you give it a listen HERE—the reimagined version is just beautiful....



Andrea: Hi All, welcome to another Music Monday. Over the past week, one of the songs I've been listening to is Don't Make Me Wait by Sting and Shaggy.




Real talk though, is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween or Christmas movie? I still feel it’s both. What do you think?


Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

36896898
Title: Spinning Silver
Series: n/a
Author: Naomi Novik
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; hardback 
More Details: Fantasy; Retelling
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; July 10, 2018

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold. But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand...

Words cannot accurately express how good Spinning Silver was, or how much I enjoyed reading it. For one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2018, my expectations were already high and the story met each and every one of them on almost every level. Novik has a way with words, because she created such an atmospheric, fairy tale-esque story. And while there were many perspectives, the characters were interesting and compelling in an equally fascinating story.

First off, I have to talk about the world building, because it was gorgeous. The book was filled with layers of vivid imagery, told with precise detail. I could picture the snow and the cold, how the plants and even the Staryk road looked whenever it appeared between the trees. I could picture the jewelry, clothes, and characters. Obviously the setting was one of my favorite aspects of Spinning Silver. There were these hints of magic that were done so well that it seemed organic in how it fit naturally into the world and the lives of the characters. There was never a moment where I doubted its place in the story.

The story is what initially drew me to Spinning Silver. As soon as I heard about Miryem and her situation, how she takes over for her father after he failed to provide for her and her mother, I was immediately interested. I loved the moneylending parts in the book, because they displayed Miryem’s skills and determination. Spinning Silver was a slower moving fantasy novel. There were a lot of complicated parts to the plot. That being said, I didn’t mind, because I found all of the perspectives interesting. And the build-up to the end was solid storytelling. And while the POV switches were a little difficult to follow at first—sometimes even as many as three times in a single chapter—once I was more familiar with the characters, I knew who was narrating based off of the setting and secondary characters they were interacting with.

Speaking of the characters, they were also a notable aspect of Spinning Silver. I had my favorites such as Miryem and Irina—and a few others I won’t name, to avoid any unintentional spoilers. I liked this group of characters. They were at different stages of their lives, even though there was always a sense of difficulty, the need for decisions, and the consequences of actions no matter which POV I was reading. Out of all them, Miryem was still my favorite.

Overall, Spinning Silver is now one of my favorite books. In fact, I enjoyed it more than Uprooted. So, if Novik writes another retelling, I’ll read it....


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Quarterly Recap: July-September

It’s time for another Quarterly Recap. I’m going to skip a long intro and jump right into reviews for July, August, and September....
July Reviews:


August Reviews:


September Reviews:


Note: weekly meme labels (Music Monday & The Friday 56 + Book Beginnings) can be found on the Extras page.

Other July Posts:


Other August Posts:

Other September Posts:
I want to do more art/random type posts again. I kept up with them in July and August. However, for the past month, I’ve experienced some creative burnout and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write or read for a few weeks—and the things I did create were ones I didn’t want to share on the blog. Luckily, October is one of my favorite months, and I have a couple of different posts planned. And if all goes well, they should appear sometime this month or in November.

Upcoming posts that are already scheduled....

On Friday, I’m going to post my thoughts about Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Later, I have reviews for Mem by Bethany C. Morrow and The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory. I also have a spotlight post coming up that I’m excited to share.


Monday, October 1, 2018

Music Monday (59):Gerald LeVert and Eddie LeVert, & Angel Haze

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Breana: This week, I’m listening to music by Angel Haze. When Back to the Woods came out, I initially missed it. Recently, I was looking to see if there was any new music by Angel Haze, and there was. Back to the Woods is probably my favorite album by Angel Haze. So, today, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite songs from Back to the Woods: Moonrise Kingdom. I adore this song. Everything about it from the beat, lyrics, and Angel Haze’s vocals on the track, was perfect….


Andrea: This week, I just want to share my favorite version of Wind Beneath My Wings sung by Gerald LeVertand Eddie LeVert. Do you have a favorite version of this song?



Have you listened to any of these songs before? If not, what do you think about them?

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Friday 56 (139) & Book Beginnings: Mem by Bethany C. Morrow

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


36211478Synopsis from Goodreads...

Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source ― zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault....


Beginning: "I am a memory. Now I suppose I'll live like one."

56: "The "more" he described seemed to be people; they swam about the hotel in graceful parties, gloved fingertips touching jacket arms, bare necks bowing like swans'. They were all important, I could tell by their almost competitively straight posture and by the way their gentle laughter and delicate perfume lingered in the air."


Comments: I've been meaning to read Mem by Bethany C. Morrow for a while. Recently, my library hold finally came in. Mem was a fascinating read. I liked it. Since the book is so short, my 56 comes from page 28 instead. What are you reading this week?


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Today, Melissa Landers and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and exclusive content for Blastaway, Landers's new Middle Grade Sci-Fi which releases Summer 2019. Check out the awesome cover and excerpt below. On to the reveal!
  



Breana: I adore this book cover. I love the color choices and illustration style. It's cute....

About the book....
Title: Blastaway
Author: Melissa Landers
Pub. Date: Summer 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: n/a
Find it: Goodreads

Pitched as "Home Alone in space," a young science prodigy who runs away in his family spaceship must team up with a plucky mutant to save the Earth from destruction. Scheduled for publication Summer 2019.

Excerpt
At some point, I must have fallen asleep.

I say that for two reasons. First, my chin was wet with drool, and I hardly ever slobber on myself when I’m awake. And second, I was no longer on Earth.

I sat bolt upright and stared out the window as distant stars whizzed past in a blur. There were no planets in sight, and judging by the swirling purple nebula ahead of me, this wasn’t the way to Nana’s house. I checked the navigation screen and felt my mouth drop open. The flashing beacon that represented my ship was halfway between Earth and Fasti.

(So you see, it is totally possible to steal a spaceship on accident.)

I guess my hand hit the EXECUTE button when I fell asleep. And because it would take just as long for me to turn around and go home as it would to finish my journey, it made sense to keep going, right? Either way, my parents would ground me into the afterlife, so I might as well earn the sentence, right?

Right.

An electric thrill rushed through my veins when I thought about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Anything could happen on this trip. Literally anything. I could discover a brand-new element. Or meet a secret race of aliens. Or invent a new energy source. Or eat so much chocolate that I puked. Either way, I had complete freedom to make this journey into whatever I wanted, and once I realized that, there was no freaking way I could turn back. It was like the universe had dropped a gift in my lap, a gift I had no intention of returning.

I wiped the drool off my chin and smiled.

“Hold onto your stars, Fasti. Here I come.”

About the author...

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads





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