Thursday, September 29, 2016

VASSA IN THE NIGHT Blog Tour: Review + Q&A with Sarah Porter #BlogTour






Vassa in the Night
by Sarah Porter
Source: Received an ARC from Raincoast Books Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Number of Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

MY REVIEW

I've always been a big fan of fairytales and folk tales, but Vassilissa the Beautiful was a new one to me so I was very excited to read VASSA IN THE NIGHT! I thought that it sounded quirky, imaginative, and very strange...and that's exactly what it was! My first thought after finishing it was that it was delightfully weird, and I'm still standing firmly by that days after finishing it!  

The main character of VASSA IN THE NIGHT is, you guessed it, Vassa! As far as main characters go, I liked the choices that Vassa made, but there was a bit of a wall between her and the reader. She's fairly aloof. You don't really get to know her all that well, and she stays pretty mysterious, which definitely plays into the mysterious elements of the story. I'm a pretty big character reader though, so I did feel some disconnect from her, but I still really loved getting to see everything unfold around her. I also just really loved that she was always ready to embrace the strange things going on around her, and as weird as things got, she never once backed away. The quirkiest thing about Vassa had to be Erg though. Erg is a wooden doll that Vassa's mother left her when she died, but she's not just a regular wooden doll. Nope. Erg is a walking, talking, breathing, eating, and totally animate being...and boy was she interesting! I think the standout strange character for me was Dex though, but I'm going to let him be a surprise for you until you read the book yourself. Then come back and let me know if you're a Dex fan, too. ;)

For me, the best part about VASSA IN THE NIGHT was the story and the writing! The writing was wonderful, and constantly kept me guessing. It definitely had a magical, fantastical feel to it that fit really well with the folktale aspect of the story. As I said before, I'm not very familiar with the Vassilissa the Beautiful folktale, so I started off just knowing the very basics and Vassilissa and Baba Yaga, but VASSA IN THE NIGHT has me very intrigued and I think I'll have to look into the folktale a bit more! I loved getting to see Vassa, Babs, and all of the strange things going on in the magical realm of Brooklyn! ;) 

 While there were definitely moments during VASSA IN THE NIGHT where I was left a bit puzzled, it was still an extremely enjoyable story to read. It's a quirky book, and I think if you go into it expecting there to be some mystery and confusion, you'll really enjoy it, too.
 Overall, I really enjoyed VASSA IN THE NIGHT! It was a bit confusing at times, but the writing really swept me away and I couldn't put it down. I recommend this to anyone who loves beautiful writing with zany and mysterious plotlines, especially if you're a fan of folktales and fairytales. :)


Q&A with Sarah Porter!

My Question:

I've always been interested in folktales and fairytales, so I've been eagerly awaiting VASSA IN THE NIGHT since I heard about it months ago! I've also always been interested in how much folktales and fairytales evolve, yet somehow still manage to keep people interested. I'm guessing that you're also a folk and fairy tale fan, so what interests you when it comes to folktales and fairytales and the retellings of them, and why do you think we still find them so fascinating years after they originate?

Sarah's Amazing Answer:

I don’t think this is a particularly original idea—but I’d say that the fascination of folk tales comes from the fact that they evolve through so many tellings, over so much time. Each of the stories has not one, but hundreds of authors, and that multiplicity of voices embedded and hidden in every story means that in reading them we’re relating to a broader human imagination. You know, if you read a novel, you’re relating to the specific mind it came from, to one particular voice emerging from a specific time and place. But when you read a folk tale, you’re relating to an entire culture, to the psychological forces of dozens or thousands of people who contributed to that story in some way, added or altered something in the way they narrated it, over centuries. And it’s amazing the way the stories weave through each other: lots of people have pointed out the similarities between Vassilissa and Cinderella, or between Cupid and Psyche and “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” It’s as if a universal human mind, and all of human history, sat down at your fireside and started speaking.
 About Sarah Porter (Bio & Photo from her Website)

I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine.
What do you think?
Does VASSA IN THE NIGHT sound like a book you'd enjoy?
Have you read it already? What'd you think?

And do you agree with Sarah?
Why do you think fairytales and folktales fascinate us so much?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: Heat Wave by Karina Halle #CoverReveal

Hello to all of my lovely bookish peeps! 

You know me, I'm always excited to share pretty covers with you, and today I have an absolutely GORGEOUS one for all of us to enjoy! 

The fabulous New York Times Bestselling author, Karina Halle, has a new book coming out in the beginning of November called HEAT WAVE and today I'm going to share the cover!

Without further ado...here it is!





HEAT WAVE
By Karina Halle
Standalone

Release Date: November 3, 2016!!
They say when life closes one door, another one opens.
This door happens to lead to paradise.
And a man I can never, ever have.

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica "Ronnie" Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:
Logan Shephard.
It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.
What does matter is that he’s a grump.
Kind of an asshole, too.
And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.
Add HEAT WAVE to your Goodreads TBR, and remember, it's available NOVEMBER 3rd!

ABOUT KARINA HALLE

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.

Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.



If I just had to choose two things that I love most when it comes to pretty covers they would be sparkles and lots of colour, so I absolutely LOVE HEAT WAVE's cover! The gradient from the sunset that's incorporated into the text is gorgeous, and I really love the sparkly purple background! I also just think HEAT WAVE sounds fantastic and it's definitely on my TBR!
 
What do you think of the cover for HEAT WAVE?
And who else is excited to read HEAT WAVE?

Monday, September 12, 2016

LABYRINTH LOST Blog Tour: Review & Q&A with Zoraida Córdova! #BrooklynBrujas #LabyrinthLost


It's FINALLY here!! LABYRINTH LOST is now out...and you can get a copy, and you can get a copy...and I can get a copy! We can all go out and get copies of this AMAZING book!

I have been eagerly (and quite impatiently, I might add) awaiting the release of Zoraida Córdova's newest book, LABYRINTH LOST!! I am not ashamed to admit that I fangirled like crazy when Raincoast Books sent me an ARC of it, and I tortured myself a bit by waiting until it was closer to the release date, but it was soooo worth the wait! I think this is my favourite book of Zoraida's yet, and I'm extremely excited to share my review and a quickie Q&A with you all for the fantastic Canadian blog tour that Raincoast has put together!



Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1)
by Zoraida Córdova
Source: Received an ARC from Raincoast Books Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Number of Pages: 336 (Hardcover)


Description from Goodreads:
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

MY REVIEW

I first heard about LABYRINTH LOST about a year before it released...and I immediately started fangirling over it! Magic, brujas, a journey to another world, and written by Zoraida Córdova...sign me up! I've been a fan of Zoraida's writing since I first read THE VICIOUS DEEP, and I've eagerly devoured and loved everything she's written since...and LABYRINTH LOST was no exception! In fact, it's my favourite out of everything she's written so far!

Why did I love LABYRINTH LOST so much? Well, there are plenty of reasons. The first reason is the characters. Zoraida always writes amazing characters! They're dynamic, and usually flawed in a way that makes them extremely easy to connect with. Her characters have so much depth and I always find myself loving each and every one of them, and Alex was the same! She was vulnerable, and super self-conscious, which I think anyone who's been (or currently is) a teenager can relate to. Even with her doubts, Alex is so strong and determined, but what I loved most about her was her capacity for love and her willingness to grow and to forgive. I really admired everything about her, and I think she's a wonderful character to see in a young adult novel because she's definitely someone worth admiring.

Alex isn't the only amazing character though! Her family is also absolutely fantastic! From her sisters, Lula and Rose, to her mother and extended family members, LABYRINTH LOST is packed full of some wonderful family dynamics, and diversity, too! While Zoraida admits in her author's note at the end of the book that she's invented much of the belief system for the brujas and brujos in her story when it comes to the deos and their actual magic, the cultural elements surrounding them are definitely rooted in reality and inspired by research and her own background, which I really loved! It was fantastic to get to see a diverse cast of characters, and I loved seeing the importance that their ancestors and family histories played in their lives! :D

Gotta love that snark! ;D
The other two big characters in LABYRINTH LOST are Rishi and Nova, and I loved them both, too!!! I'm not going to go into too much detail about these two because I think you need to get to know them for yourself when you read the book and I don't want to spoil anything, but I really loved what they each added to the story. I loved their dynamics with Alex, and they were certainly never boring. :P

Now that I've blabbered on about my love for Zoraida's fantastic characters, I've got to tell you about the story and the world-building! I thought that they were both absolutely superb!!! LABYRINTH LOST was the perfect coming-of-age story, and it reminded me of epic journeys where the hero has to discover themselves in order to return home and become the hero that they're meant to be. The magical elements and intricate world of Los Lagos really added to whole journey element, and I LOVED getting to see the world that Zoraida created!!! It reminded me of her previous trilogy, The Vicious Deep, which I loved! The world was extremely well thought out⎯it was intense, magical, and completely enthralling!!! I was reading it far too quickly, so I actually forced myself to slow down as I read, and that made me love it even more!! Once you start this book, you definitely won't want to put it down!

If it isn't obvious already, I loved LABYRINTH LOST, and am completely smitten with the world of the BROOKLYN BRUJAS! I can't wait for more of their world, and I was ecstatic when I heard that Zoraida would be writing more Bruja books!!! So, now that I've told you all about why I loved this book, I'm going to tell you that you should definitely read it! If you're a fan of magical stories and you love complex characters, intricate world-building and an abundance of diversity in your books, then you'll absolutely love the LABYRINTH LOST and the BROOKLYN BRUJAS, too! I seriously can't recommend this book enough...read it, read it, read it!!


Q&A with Zoraida Córdova!

My Question:

The world of the Brooklyn Brujas that you've established in Labyrinth Lost and your Vicious Deep trilogy are intertwined (I may have squee'd out loud when I realized this after seeing Tristan's name :P)--did you always have plans to expand the world you first created in The Vicious Deep? If not, what inspired you? And are there other parts of the world you've created that you'd like to explore?

Zoraida's Fabulous Answer:

After creating the world of The Vicious Deep, I was left with characters who wanted their own stories. The Vicious Deep has more than merpeople. There are allies who are vampires and shapeshifters. Their stories are still to come. At that time, these brujas were still an idea. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to frame their story. Alex Mortiz and her sisters have been in my thoughts longer than Tristan and The Vicious Deep. Even though they exist in the same universe, borough, and school, I needed to tell Alex’s story completely separate from Tristan. Though, I am super glad that you caught the Tristan reference!

Going forward, I want this magical New York to have many layers. Book 2 in the Brooklyn Brujas series is going to be from Lula’s point of view. I’ve been toying around with the idea of bringing in some characters from Tristan’s book (not Tristan himself) into Lula’s story. It all depends on how well they fit into the plot line. At the end of the day, I have to be true to the worlds I’ve created.

 About Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and Labyrinth Lost. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro

Connect: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram



Yes!!! I absolutely loved Zoraida's answer to my question!!
Hearing that there are more stories from Zoraida's magical imagination to come has me so excited!!! And I'm glad to hear that the second Brooklyn Brujas book will be from Lula's POV. I was wondering if it would be Alex again, or if each book would follow a different sister, so I guess now we know! ;D

What do you think?

Are you as excited about LABYRINTH LOST as I am?
Does it sound like something you'd like to read?
If you've already read it, what did you think?
And who else got super excited to find out that Tristan and Alex's worlds are intertwined?
And what did you think of my Q&A with Zoraida?