2012 Favorites + Giveaway!

December 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm (Giveaway) (, , , , , )

This was going to be the weekend I got back into the full swing of things, but then life happened in a pretty amazing way. After a weekend spent crashing around Orlando with very good friends I haven’t seen in far too long, I came home to our rescheduled Thanksgiving, with lots of food, laughter, and card banter.

Cards are a blood sport, at least in my family, and the banter that flows through the games is truly inspiring.

And terrifying.

So, to make up for another lost week, I’m hosting a giveaway!

There are two prize packs up for offer. Prize pack one includes the paperback of Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, a hysterical, utterly creeptastic in the best possible way book that pits Rory, an American student currently enrolled in a London school, with a mysterious murderer re-enacting the murders of Jack the Ripper- with no one seeing him. Prize pack two has the paperback of Laini Taylor’s amazing and grogeous The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, with the enigmatic Karou, the mysterious Brimstones, and an ancient war that could destroy entire worlds, in one of the most beautiful expressions of language I’ve ever read. BOTH PACKS include a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.

And there are lots of ways to get entries.

The only mandatory one is to leave a comment below telling me what your favorite book of 2012 has been, and why. There have been so many amazing books out this year, and I want to know which ones you’ve loved. (And tell me if you have a preference for a particular prize pack)

For example, although it’s really hard to choose, I’d have to say my favorite of the year so far has been John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. That book was beautiful and shattering and uplifting and devestating, and probably the only book that’s ever made me laugh and sob simultaneously. It’s an astounding work of art, something so much more than the sum of its parts, and has become one of my favorite books to handsell at work because it’s one of the very few books that I genuinely believe EVERYONE needs to read.

But there are extra ways to enter!

For +1, follow this blog, and in your comment, tell me that you’ve done so. If you already follow, tell me that too.
For +1, follow me on twitter at @dothutchison, and in your comment tell me your twitter handle. Again, if you already follow me, just tell me.
For +1, add A Wounded Name on Goodreads, and tell me in your comment. Again, if you’ve already added it, just let me know.
For +1, like my Facebook page, link on the sidebar, and tell me that you’ve done so. If you already like me (they like me, they really like me!…okay, done now) just tell me so.
And for +1 for each medium, you can tweet about it, blog about it, mention it on facebook or what have you, and just include the links in your comment.

I’d like to stress that the only thing you HAVE to do to be entered is to comment with your favorite book of the year and why you love it. Please make sure you leave the correct email address so I can contact you if you win. All the other ways to enter are purely optional, and additional- it’s your choice whether or not to do them. If you DO choose to get the extra entries, please make sure you tell me what you’ve done- I’m not going to troll through the deep stretches of the internet to see what people have done. I’m going to trust y’all on this, so please just include the links and handles.

And it is US only, I’m sorry. International gets very pricey, so I’m going to save that kind of shipping for when I have ARCs of A Wounded Name to give you. Just a few months til ARCs!

So, enter in the comments below, entries accepted through Saturday, 15 December, and best of luck to you all!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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Cover Love: September

October 21, 2012 at 9:44 am (Cover Love) (, , , , , , , , )

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I’ve seen some covers recently that I absolutely love and want to share/talk about.

This first belongs to an author seriously blessed by the cover gods. Masque of the Red Death was stunning and eerie and dark and lovely, and its sequel, Dance of the Red Death, due out 23 April 2013 is utterly gorgeous. It takes us in a different direction than the first, shifting the color scheme to the opposite spectrum. Where the first was reds and blacks, this is purples and whites, BUT- keep in mind that in most European societies, from Renaissance straight through Victorian (from which time this borrows much of its atmosphere) lavender and white were second stage mourning colors. After the death of someone close to you, you were expected to wear black for six months, then you could expand to white, lavender, and grey for another six months. Araby Worth has made some progress in her crippling grief, but she’s still in mourning, and this cover shows that. The clothing is a little less formal, more flattering and less dramatic, and her posture is different. Rather than turning completely away from us, she’s more or less in profile, only her face still angled away and shielded by the fan, in itself less obscuring than the parasol from the first. Just as the colors are expanding from the deepest stage of grief, so her posture is also opening up, not just to us as the audience but also to the people in her life. She’s got progress yet to make, but this cover definitely shows how far she’s come.

17 & Gone, by Nova Ren Suma, is due out 21 March 2013, and I’ve loved this cover since it wsa revealed. It’s coloration is unique in YA, soft oranges and yellow, like the glow of candles, but there’s also a very CSI: Miami vibe to it. The bed frame- no mattress, did you notice?- is ominous, like an episode of Criminal Minds, and the windows beyond the girl’s silhouette don’t belong to a high-rate hotel. My favorite part, though, is how, if you look very carefully, you can see the details of the missing report underlaid in the image. Without those details, it might just be a particularly sentimental trip down memory lane, a runaway reflecting on the world she left behind, but those words, subtle but distinct, render it into something much more terrifying. We don’t know if the girl in the picture is the girl of the missing report, we don’t know if she’s simply missing by her own volition or someone else’s will, and we don’t know if something far worse has happened to her. This cover does an amazing job of capturing attention, which is exactly what a cover should always aim to do.

Another sequel with a cover as stunning as its first one, Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight, due out 6 November 2012, has the same drama as The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The mask is gone, the question of pure identity no longer a mystery, but the glamour and the beauty are still firmly in place. Rather than the blue representing Karou, we have red- Akiva’s flaming wings, anyone? And, of course, the titular blood. The contrasts are sharp- except for the red, the rest of the image is black and white, the focus just slightly blurred or hidden behind the title. Though the patterns around her eyes are delicate and lovely, it’s difficult to escape the visceral memory of war paint. This is going to be a book with a lot of violence and blood in it, but just as with the first, there’s also a great deal of unexpected beauty, probably hand in hand with the ugliness.

Oh, this one made me so happy when the cover was revealed. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers, due out 2 April 2013, is the sequel to Grave Mercy, but it’s not Ismae’s story this time. This time, we see Sybella, with a very different kind of history and outlook than her half-sister. Here we get much more somber colors than the first, darker colors. This isn’t someone who works out in the open to be seen, this is someone who prefers to work in the shadows to conceal dark deeds. Her face is sharper, her expression more forbidding, and the way the light gleams on the blade immediately brings the eye to the very real threat of that knife- and the realization that she won’t hesitate to use it. Combined with the expression on her face, you get the feeling she uses it maybe more than she’s supposed to. Where Ismae was out in the open air, Sybella is in a tunnel- confined, claustrophobic, something that can far more quickly become a trap than an escape. Sybella’s story promises to be dark and painful but- look at the soft, dull gold of the cloak. Maybe it’s not without redemption. And oh, I can’t wait.

Last one for this month is Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, out 22 January 2012. At first glance, this cover is striking but a little hard to figure- you’d have to look at the description to know whether it’s supposed to portray assassins, snipers, or spies. But, you don’t really have to know. The contrast around the eye, dragging all the focus to the brilliant blues within the iris, gives you the same narrow view as someone looking through a scope. All that matters is what you’re aiming for. The thing is, you don’t know if you should be intrigued because what’s wanted is information, or if you should be very afraid that the girl in the crosshairs is going to end up dead. Perhaps my favorite detail is actually below the eye- where the skin shifts into a curling smoke or fog, giving the impression that the person you’re looking at? Might really be nobody.

Any covers you’ve seen recently that really caught your eye? Share below!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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Cover Love: June Edition

June 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm (Cover Love) (, , , , , , , , , )

It’s been a little while since I did one of these, but there have been some FANTASTIC covers recently that I just have to gush over.

This one was just revealed today, and oh my God I’m in love. It’s gorgeous! It’s also thoroughly eerie and creepy, and inviting and intriguing and everything you want a book cover to be. The blues are soft and mysterious, colors of secrets and sadness and somehow also calm and deep, like the bottom of a lake. The key, because it’s bright and a very different color than the rest of the background, stands out, but it’s not just a symbol of secrets- keys are also authority and things that should be kept away, and also things that are about to emerge. Funny thing about keys is that they have a way of getting used. The girl’s face emerges from the smoke and fog of the key, like she’s shrouded in mystery, like her entire life is birthed from the mysteries of that key and everything it can stand for. Behind her stretches walls with what looks like names- which calls to mind the Vietnam Memorial and it’s lists of the dead- but the walls also seem to close in behind her, both protective and claustrophobic. This is a cover I could happily study for hours at a time, and it leads so beautifully into the description. The Archived by Victoria Schwab- can’t wait.

I love Rick Riordan covers. The artwork is fantastic and if I’m honest, I love the fact that he’s the only author I know that can successfully get pre-adolescent and adolescent boys to read books with pink covers. Throne of Fire anyone? And now he’s released the cover for Mark of Athena and I love it like cake (even though I hate the color pink). Obviously the most immediately striking things about the cover is the owl’s face, specifically its eyes. They’re piercing and direct, and being the totem of Athena, and given that Athena isn’t too fond of Percy, it’s hard to tell if that’s meant to be menacing or protective. Then your eye goes down and you notice the two boys on horses apparently about to kill each other. Um…problem? Even there it’s distinct, with different shirts, different hair colors, even different types of magical horses. You really want to hope the boys are actually working together against a common enemy, but…well, the Greeks and Romans don’t really get along, do they? Expect LOTS of conflict in this one, especially as it’s the middle book of the series.

It’s no seccret that I love this book. I can gush about this book for WEEKS. I’m fairly sure all my co-workers are fairly sick of hearing me talk about it. But my God even the cover is fantastic! The background is black- stark, unforgiving, and entirely devoid of comfort. But because of the way the eye travels, at first we only see it as a background for the left image: arms reaching from opposite directions, bound with twine at the wrists, clasping each other. It’s hard to know which piece makes the strong impact. The way they’re holding each other isn’t casual- clasping at the wrist is a rescue hold, a support hold. It offers more strength, does less damage- and is a lot less likely to be pulled apart. They’re holding each other, so the bonds are voluntary. Yet there’s the twine. Twine is an interesting material, coarse and uncomfortable, easy to find but leaves a lasting impact with fabric splinters and rashes and scratches. They’ve chosen to hold each other but external forces also bind them. This may be hard to see in the photo, but there’s actually writing superimposed on the skin. We hold our secrets so close to the surface; scratch the skin and the emerge. It’s a gorgeous cover that draws out the
fiercest elements of the story. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Another recent cover reveal was for Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight, sequel to last year’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It closely parallels the original cover, focusing on the eyes and the space around it. The mask- in this case the patterns painted around them- are striking and draw the attention in on an otherwise grey-scale cover. The first cover was blue- relaxing, bright, reminscent of Karou’s hair and her easy manner- but here the focus has shifted. Here we have flames and blood and the deep menace associated with that color, BUT, if you look through the letters, you can also see just a slight hint of a smile. Not much of one, and not a very nice smile, but it’s there, and it makes you remember that red is also a color of seduction and of passion. They’re exotic markings, and it’s only when comparing it to the first cover (and the first story) that you start to wonder if they’re actually painted on or if they’re somehow more inherent than that.

Any covers that you’re looking forward to?

Until next time~
Cheers

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Book Review: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

October 19, 2011 at 10:15 pm (Book Reviews) (, , , )

Karou is a mystery. Azure-haired and dark-eyed, she runs errands for the equally mysterious Brimstone, collecting teeth from all over the world, even though she doesn’t know what he does with them. Free-spirited and artistic, she floats through life with the grace of a wish- and she knows better than most what a wish is worth. What she doesn’t know- yet- is what a wish costs. But she’ll learn. When the black handprints start appearing on portals all over the world, when flames sear into her sight, when a war she didn’t know existed spills over into her world, she’ll learn all too clearly the exact price of a wish.

Oh guys.

OH GUYS.

I have been trying for DAYS to write this review, trying desperately to come up with any way to talk about this book that isn’t incoherent gushing. For days, I’ve been trying. For days, I’ve been failing. And still- even tonight, trying to tell one of my co-workers about this book, I was gushing like a moron.

But this book…oh guys!

It’s like reading poetry. Every word is an image, a texture, a snippet of song. It’s like dropping into the middle of a dance. Not one of those awkward middle school dances where everyone’s trying to dance in groups and the few brave couples are swaying at arms’ length, not a high school dance where everyone’s grinding up obscenely against each other, but a real dance where every movement is simultaneously precise and languid, where the choreography never feels choreographed, where the dance gives every human emotion across the full and vibrant range of life.

I know, I’m gushing, but seriously this has to be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Every now and then it verged on a little too much but then it would give me an image so gorgeous that I had to actually close the book just so I could savor the words that sketched across the backs of my eyelids. The fact that it was so consistently beautiful also helped with that. It wasn’t normal conversation that suddenly proke into flowery purpleness and just as abruptly reverted; consistently, effortlessly (even though I know it was far from effortless) it was beautiful.

The characters are fully realized, rounded and dynamic and captivating, even the assholes (and yes, there are one or two scattered through, sometimes even amidst the good guys). Karou doesn’t just exist within the dance- she is the dance. She’s such a captivating mixture of honesty and deception, of loyalty and new experiences. Most of all, Karou is a product of wishes, her own and others. She’s a lot of things even she hasn’t discoverd yet, and we want to learn right along with her. Her friends- and her former friends, or at least acquaintances- are equally interesting. They aren’t there just to fill out the background; they exist on their own, vibrant and rich and FUN, but they both complement Karou and stand apart from her.

And Akiva?

*drool*

Wounded with a painful history, he has this astonishing chance for healing, only it’ll probably kill him before he can actually see it through. That chance, that history and that future and that love, is like trying to hold a sun. There’s no way it can end well yet you really, really hope it will. Even when the beauty burns, you can’t help but try to reach for it. He’s deliciously complicated in so many ways, caught between blood and beauty, between history and heroics, between everything he’s been and anything he could be.

This story soars, sometimes on wings, sometimes on wishes, sometimes on nothing more tangible than hope, cobweb thin and fragile. The worlds are rich and complex, and somehow the age-drenched stones of Prague are as alien as the world of the chimaera, each every bit as strange and real as the other. The mythology bases itself in our common world but it gives it a unique flavor, a vast expanse with a culture every bit as complicated as our own. This isn’t an easy world. It’s complicated with a lot of grey areas, with ethical questions and wars and kindnesses.

There is not enough good stuff I can say about this book, so to keep from gushing even more, I am just going to say this: READ THIS BOOK.

You won’t look at the world the same way afterwards.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, out in stores now.

Until next time~
Cheers!

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