Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Historical Fantasy Jubilee comes to an end

Like all good things, the Historical Fantasy Jubilee has come to an end. Below you'll find a recap of all of the posts and giveaways. If you haven't entered the giveaways yet, don't worry! You have until December 7th to enter all of the giveaways linked below. Feel free to comment on any of the posts as well. We're all about friendly conversation and there's no such thing as a post too old to comment on!

I hope you have enjoyed the event as much as we have, and on that note we wanted to thank everyone who has made this event possible.

First and foremost, we would like to say a gigantic THANK YOU to all of the authors and publishers who have participated in this event! The Historical Fantasy Jubilee would never have happened without their contributions, enthusiasm, and support. Thank you to:

Random House Children's Books
Sourcebooks Fire
Tor Teen
St. Martin's Griffin
Simon & Schuster
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Please see the sections Author Interviews and Author Guest Posts below for a full listing of all the amazing participating authors (who we are showing with profuse thanks and lots of fangirly squees!)

We would also like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all of YOU! 

Whether you commented or quietly read, we totally appreciate your involvement. Extra hugs and thanks to those of you who really threw yourselves into this event by spreading the word through blog posts, tweets, and adding our buttons to your sidebars (feel free to keep them for as long as you'd like!) The Historical Fantasy Jubilee wouldn't have been anywhere near as magical without all of you!

We have one more tiny favor to ask of you. We would truly appreciate some feedback on our event and would be grateful if you filled out our SURVEY so we can make our next event even better (Next event? Yes. Next event!)

We'll even bribe you with an extra entry in one of our Historical Fantasy Jubilee giveaways (you can pick which giveaway)!

I would also like to thank Ruby for asking me to be her co-host. The Historical Fantasy Jubilee has been a number of firsts for me and I am honored to have shared them with Ruby. I can't laud her enough. If you are still unfamiliar with Ruby and her amazing blog (really? Where have you been??) I urge you to check out Ruby's Reads. You really can't go wrong with a princess who loves chocolate and sparkles, has a killer sense of humor, and recognizes the value of shirtless werewolves.

Miss a post in our Historical Fantasy Jubilee? No worries! Here's a complete listing of every fantastic post and giveaway--and it's never too late to join the fun! 

Author Interviews

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Small Review)
Leigh Bardugo (Ruby's Reads)
Elizabeth C. Bunce (Small Review)
Stephanie Burgis (Small Review)
Gail Carriger (Ruby's Reads)
Susan Dennard (Small Review)
Jaclyn Dolamore (Small Review)
Marissa Doyle (Ruby's Reads) (second interview) 

Sonia Gensler (Small Review)
Adele Griffin (Ruby's Reads)
Kiki Hamilton (Ruby's Reads)
Merrie Haskell (Small Review)
Leanna Renee Hieber (Ruby's Reads) 
Robin LaFevers (Ruby's Reads)
Eve Marie Mont (Small Review) 
Sharon Shinn (Ruby's Reads)
Laura Whitcomb (Ruby's Reads)
Emily Whitman (Ruby's Reads)

Author Guest Posts

Inspiration from the Road and Research by Lisa T. Bergren (Small Review) 
Photo Inspiration by Lisa Brown (Small Review)
Why Do You Hate Ancient Romans So Much? by Stephanie Dray (Small Review)
What You Should Wear on a Date with Your Zombie Beau by Lia Habel (Ruby's Reads)
All the Voices in My Head by Robin LaFevers (Small Review)
Happily Ever After by Juliet Marillier (Ruby's Reads)
Top 7 Reasons I Love Writing Historical Fantasy by Saundra Mitchell (Ruby's Reads)
My Book Boyfriends (+ Born Wicked excerpt) by Jessica Spotswood (Ruby's Reads)
Handy Tips for Looking Like You Belong in 1240 by Emily Whitman (Small Review)

Book Reviews

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore (Small Review)
Dark Passage (Dark Mirror No. 2) by M. J. Putney (Ruby's Reads)
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (Ruby's Reads)
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Small Review)
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Ruby's Reads)
Fateful by Claudia Gray (Small Review)
Fateful by Claudia Gray (Ruby's Reads)
Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (Small Review) 
Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (Small Review)
Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (Ruby's Reads)
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler (Small Review)
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers (Small Review)

Joint Review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler (Small Review)
Joint Review CONTINUED: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler (Ruby's Reads)

Book Lists

Historical Fantasy on My TBR (Small Review)
More Historical Fantasies on My TBR (Small Review)
5 Historical Fantasies I Can't Believe I Haven't Read (Ruby's Reads)
Honorary Historical Fantasies (Ruby's Reads)

Discussion Posts

Are you a genre slob or stickler? (Small Review)
If you tell me you don't like historical fantasy, I'll refuse to believe you (Ruby's Reads)
5 Reasons I Love Historical Fantasy (Small Review)
So What About Steampunk? (Ruby's Reads)
Write these historical fantasies, please? (Small Review)
Historical Fantasy Needs More of These (Ruby's Reads)

Cover Posts

Kinuko Craft: Historical Fantasy Cover Artist Extraordinaire (Ruby's Reads)
Cover Review: Grave Mercy (Small Review)
First Impressions (1) (Small Review)
First Impressions (2) (Small Review)
Historical Fantasy Books that Make Me Glad I Bought My Kindle (Ruby's Reads)

Other Awesome Posts

Why I Dare Small Review to Read Juliet Marillier (Ruby's Reads)
(Challenge accepted and MET!)

(all giveaways close on December 7th) 
(International giveaways are bolded)

Angels of Darkness by Sharon Shinn + Various authors (Ruby's Reads) 
Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore (Small Review)
Bewitching Season and Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle (Ruby's Reads)
Dearly, Departed (Ruby's Reads) 
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Ruby's Reads)
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (Ruby's Reads) 
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Ruby's Reads) 
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (Small Review)
Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce + swag (Small Review) 
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown + t-shirt (Ruby's Reads)
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown + t-shirt (Small Review)
The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell (Small Review) 
Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler (Ruby's Reads)
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler (Small Review)
A River of Time book of your choice by Lisa T. Bergren (Small Review) 
Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray (Small Review)
A Theodosia Throckmorton or Nathaniel Fludd book of your choice by Robin LaFevers (Small Review)
The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Small Review)
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (Ruby's Reads)
Wildwing by Emily Whitman (Small Review)

Prize Pack #1
Prize Pack #2
Prize Pack #3
2012 Debut Prize Pack 

Extra entry in a giveaway of your choice for filling out our feedback survey! 

You haven't seen the last of us! 
Yup, the wondrous duo of the Princesses Small and Ruby will continue to connive, collude, conspire, collaborate, and cahoot. 
About what, I can't say. 
Just know, we'll be back.

(And you can help make the next event even better by clicking here and sharing your feedback with us!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 Debuts: Two Must-Read Historical Fantasy Authors

Please Welcome Susan Dennard!

Susan Dennard is the author of the upcoming historical fantasy Something Strange and Deadly. Between the plot synopsis, cover, and snippets (and more snippets) of Susan's writing I've read from (stalking) reading her blog, I am practically dying to read her debut! Plus, she'll write for cookies and she recognizes the value of swoon-worthy rogues and puppy pictures, so you know she has her priorities in order.       

Q: Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss?

A: Oh, that's easy. Daniel Sheridan. He's a scalawag inventor and one of the Spirit-Hunters. He's meant to look like Max Irons and act like Dimitri from ANASTASIA.  My main character, Eleanor, may not see how great Daniel is, but I sure do...

Q: Which one of your characters do you most want to slap or give a verbal tongue lashing to?

A: Eleanor's mother is pretty infuriating. She's so caught up in impressing society and finding a rich bachelor for Eleanor--things she thinks are best for her daughter--that she doesn't see what's really best: a stable home life and a hug every now and again.

It's hard because Mama has the best intentions, but she's blinded by the 19th-century way of thinking: men work, women wait, and propriety means more than happiness.

Q: If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

A: Definitely the dynamite factory scenes! I don't want to give away too much of the book, but at one point, Eleanor and Daniel have to break into a dynamite factory. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and the two find themselves fleeing full-speed before the building explodes.  I've imagined that running-scene so many times while I'm out jogging that I've pretty much already reenacted it (well, sans cute-boy Daniel).

Q: Which one of your character’s brains would you want to pick the most?

A: Joseph Boyer. He's the leader of the Spirit-Hunters. Trained in voodoo, he hails from Haiti by way of New Orleans. He's seen a lot of walking corpses and ghosts--and he's destroyed them all too. When he realized he had a knack for taking down the Dead, he decided to use his skill for good. Eventually he hired on a Chinese kid with kung fu skills (no zombie stands a chance against those fists) and a ruffian inventor with a shady past (zombie explosive coming right up!), and now the team roams the earth fighting wicked spirits and nasty necromancers.

Q: Which scene do you think will surprise readers the most?

A: I can't answer this without spoiling the book, but judging by the reactions of readers so far, there is one scene about 2/3 of the way in that is going to leave you like this: O_O

But if we move earlier into the book, I think the opening scene is pretty surprising. Eleanor sure doesn't see it coming!  For one, her brother doesn't show up on the train as expected. For two, he doesn't send a telegram explaining why. For three, a walking corpse shows up at the train station. And then for four--well, I'd better not say. You'll just have to read the first chapter once it's available. ;)

Seriously? Seriously?! There's dynamite in this book! I just about melted at the use of the word "scalawag" to describe Daniel, but it was the mention of the Dimitri influence that's really making me swoon (yes, he may be a cartoon, but he's a HOT cartoon!) I can't wait to be all O_O over that scene!

If you're still not convinced (really? What's wrong with you?!) check out the pretty cover and blurb! (And if you click on the cover, it gets REALLY big so you can see all the pretty details).

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Author bio:

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but YA and MG novels with kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (she really likes swoon-worthy rogues).

She lives in Germany with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, twitter, facebook, or goodreads.

Please Welcome Eve Marie Mont!

Eve Marie Mont is the author of the upcoming A Breath of Eyre, where a modern girl finds herself sucked into the classic story and inhabiting Jane's body! Every time I see another hint, snippet, or beautiful piece of A Breath of Eyre swag, I get a little bit closer to "barely containable excitement."        

Q: Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss?

A: Hands down, it would be Gray. He’s a swimmer and lifeguard with sad, hazel eyes and a haunted past. How could he possibly be a bad kisser? Is it weird to have a crush on an 18-year-old fictional character?

Q: Which one of your characters do you most want to slap or give a verbal tongue lashing to?

Elise Fairchild is everything her name suggests: fair and lovely and blueblood and, as it happens, a real b-----! She is nemesis and rival to my protagonist, Emma, and she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. But don’t despair: there are a few satisfying scenes in which Emma yanks that spoon right out!

Q: If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

Um, hello? Read question #1. No, seriously, I’d want to reenact one of the scenes in which Emma is stuck in Jane Eyre, wandering over the moors, falling in love with Mr. Rochester, and trying to solve the mystery of how to get back home.

Q: Which one of your character’s brains would you like to pick the most?

Emma’s best friend, Michelle, lives with her Aunt Darlene in a section of Boston that’s sort of a “Little Haiti.” Darlene practices voodoo and interprets dreams AND runs her own bakery, so I’d definitely want to spend an afternoon with Darlene talking about philosophy and religion over pastries and Cremas.

Q: Which scene do you think will surprise readers the most?

Without giving spoilers, there’s a scene at the end of the book in which two characters realize they are far more connected than they first realized. What follows is dramatic, intense, romantic, and a little bit scary. And it’s also loosely based on a scene from Jane Eyre!

Oh swoon! I love a guy with a haunted past. I agree, it is impossible for guys with haunted pasts to be bad kissers. And, oh gosh, my stomach is ruling my brain again because that bakery sounds fantastic! I'm now super curious to find out how those characters are connected and all that follows (sounds like I should really get started on reading Jane Eyre, too!)

Interested? You should be! If you still need a little more convincing, check out the cover, blurb, and gorgeous video trailer! (Click on the cover for a larger picture!)

Get lost in a good book. Literally.
Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates in her head. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn’t come close to filling the void left by her mother’s death. And her only romantic prospect—apart from a crush on her English teacher—is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre… 
Reading of Jane’s isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane’s body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she’s never known—and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane’s story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own…

Author bio:

EVE MARIE MONT is the author of A Breath of Eyre (Kensington/KTeen April 1, 2012), the first in a trilogy about a girl who gets lost, literally, in the books she reads. Eve teaches high school English and Creative Writing in the Philadelphia suburbs and sponsors her school’s literary magazine. When not grading papers or writing, she can be found watching the Phillies with her husband, playing with her shelter pup, or daydreaming about her next story.

Thank you so much for stopping by, ladies!

So, is anyone else about ready to make deals with devils in order to get your hands on a copy of these two books? Have their interviews piqued your interest?

While we don't have a copy of either of their books (still working on those devil negotiations!), Ruby and I DO have a 2012 Debut Author Prize Pack for giveaway!

Thank you to Random House Children's Books and Eve Marie Mont for providing these prizes!

The Prize Pack includes:

An ARC of The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
A Breath of Eyre signed cover plate
A Breath of Eyre signed bookmark
A Breath of Eyre magnet
A Class of 2012 bookmark
A Class of 2012 button
A Class of 2012 guitar pick

Click to make larger

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US mailing address
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on December 7th

Ruby is hosting two more 2012 authors today!

Check out our Historical Fantasy Jubilee full schedule of events and giveaways!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa T. Bergren + Giveaway! (INT)

Please Welcome Lisa T. Bergren!

You're probably familiar with Lisa T. Bergren through my (obsessive) fangirling over her River of Time series, but what you may not know is that this series is by no means Lisa's first foray into writing. Check out her links below to see all of the books she's written and read on below to hear about what inspires her to write.

 There are NO spoilers here!

Inspiration from the Road & Research
By Lisa T. Bergren

I’m often asked by people how much my research reading and trips influence my books. The answer is a lot.

A. Lot.

Siena il Campo from above. Yikes!
Way back yonder when I wrote my first historical, The Captain’s Bride, the hubs and I went out to Maine for a long weekend—and my very first research trip. In a tiny village, reconstructed to be historically accurate for my 1880s era (hello, Answer to Prayer!), on the second floor of a sea captain’s home, I met a docent. This guy was a volunteer, but he was passionate about the village, about history, about sailing. And he told me the true story of a captain’s wife who sailed with her husband, and when he became ill, actually took the helm and led the crew around the Horn. That true story became the basis of my heroine, and I even used those scenes in the book (giving credit where credit was due, of course).

I read about how a fire can turn and overtake experienced firefighters in seconds. How it roars as it comes through, like a dragon. I used that as the basis of Firestorm, in which a fire scientist has to battle her fears after such a traumatic experience, in order to embrace love.

My sister-in-law, a counselor, told me how people were using “Christmas rooms” to treat Alzheimer’s patients, because memories of the holidays are often something even the worst Alz patient clings to. They might not be able to communicate any longer, but they can sing whole carols from memory. Combined with a weekend trip to New Mexico for some setting/sensory details, I had the genesis of Christmas Every Morning (just released as Mercy Come Morning).

Castello that started the wheels turning- Chianti, Tuscany
Italy captured my heart in 2006, when we first went with friends, and has pretty much kept my mind whirling ever since. The sheer depth of its history could spin a thousand stories. But it was in visiting a small castle atop a hill in Tuscany, that I began to dream of medieval lords and their ladies. From where we stood, we could see other fortified castellos, and in the city, the remains of towers. At one point, we climbed to the crumbled remains of a castle, long gone. My mind was rolling, then. What would it be like to live in a time when you had to defend what was yours on an active basis? Withdraw behind walls? Be ready to fight for what you believed was right?

From there I dived headlong into months of research, wanting to absorb all I could about medieval life. I learned about disease and treatments, religion pre-Reformation, guilds and political power. Much of what I learned went into six books—The Gifted Series (The Begotten, The Betrayed, The Blessed) and River of Time (Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent, and soon, Tributary).

Book ideas are everywhere. In songs. In conversations. In interviews. In articles. But in my research I often find the detail, the texture, the fabric of a believable world take form. Add characters with something to learn, a goal to obtain, a crisis to resolve, mix, and you probably have a solid story.

Lisa and her family in Italy

Thank you so much for stopping by, Lisa!

Wow, that story about the captain's wife sounds fantastic! I love when fact is as interesting as fiction. 

Oh, and did you catch that "and soon, Tributary"??? Yay! Bring on more River of Time!

What about you, do you like when authors draw upon real experiences, stories, and locations? If you write, do you use this approach when formulating your own novels?

Lisa is generously providing a copy of your choice from the first three books in the River of Time series for giveaway!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL--if US winner, the book will be signed
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on December 7th

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spotlight List: More Historical Fantasy on My TBR

More Historical Fantasy on My TBR

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Release Date: 1958
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 256
Goodreads Page

This is one of those classic books that sounds fantastic, but I've somehow managed to miss.

Set in the mid-20th century, Peggy finds herself alone in her ancestral home in New York. Except, she's not actually alone. She soon discovers ghosts from the American Revolution haunt her home and she becomes a spectator in a "centuries old romance against the American Revolution backdrop of spies and intrigue and battles plotted and foiled."

Someone pull out my fainting couch, because that plot sounds to die for!

The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn
Release Date: December 26, 2006
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 272
Goodreads Page

I'm always curious about books with dual narratives, especially when they're set in two different times like they are in The Minister's Daughter (one in 1645, the other in 1692 during the Salem witch trials). It sounds like the narratives alternate throughout the book, slowly feeding the reader clues about earlier events involving witchcraft accusations to coverup a pregnancy and the ramifications of those actions.

I haven't heard much about this book, but I'm always up for a good historical set during the Salem witch trials--especially when they're real witches!

The Red Queen's Daughter by Jacqueline Kolosov
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 416
Goodreads Page

Mary trains as a white magician and, upon her sixteenth birthday, joins Queen Elizabeth's court as a lady-in-waiting. She quickly learns that practically everyone at court is vying for power, and some are even plotting against the queen. If that weren't complicated enough, Mary finds herself up against a dangerous black magician who is a threat to the queen...and Mary's heart.

HECK YES! I love court scheming! And am I sensing a little hate-turned-love, perhaps?

By These Ten Bones by Clare B. Dunkle
Release Date: May 1, 2005
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 240
Goodreads Page

An evil presence lurks in Maddie's medieval village (in Scotland!) and something is killing her neighbors one by one. Can Maddie find and fight the culprit? Looks like she'll have her hands full with the supernatural, but if the description of the "mysterious young man" is any indication, she'll be able to find a little time for some romance as well!

I don't want to spoil the surprise (I'm not even sure if it IS a spoiler, because it's clear in one blurb and not mentioned in another), but this book features a paranormal creature my co-host Ruby harbors a particular fondness for.

My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
Release Date: July 26, 2006
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 208
Goodreads Page

If you like your vampires evil and not at all sparkly or romantic, then this just might be the book for you! Vampires are attacking a 17th century Transylvanian village and it is up to Peter and his father to stop them. It sounds like Peter's father is carrying around a hidden past (involving vampire slaying, perhaps?)...and that past is catching up to him.

I really, really hope this one is scary! I've heard it's not really as exciting or frightening as it sounds, but I'm a wimp so I scare easy.

Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? If you haven't, are you going to add any to your TBR?

Today Ruby is sharing a book review with you! 

Check out our Historical Fantasy Jubilee full schedule of events and giveaways!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Author Interview: Elizabeth C. Bunce + Giveaway! (US/CA)

Please Welcome Elizabeth C. Bunce!

Elizabeth C. Bunce is the author of A Curse as Dark as Gold, StarCrossed, and its recently released sequel Liar's Moon. I ADORED StarCrossed and highly recommend it if you're looking for some great court intrigue. I haven't read the other two yet, but they're both on my TBR!      

 There are NO spoilers here!

How do you personally define historical fantasy?

I’m sure you’ve had several responses to this by now, and heard multiple definitions, so I’ll just say that for me, historical fantasy is far more than simply historical fiction with magical elements. It’s about being immersed in a fantasy world built firmly on a historical foundation, where the historical details are more than mere window-dressing, but inform the story in real and inextricable ways. This world may be our own—a genuine historical setting plus fantasy elements—or a separate fantasy world heavily inspired by a recognizable historical era—but in either case, the fantasy must be as powerful and authentic as the history.

What are your historical fantasy must-reads? (*Note: I have added Goodreads links for the titles Elizabeth mentioned so you can easily add them to your TBR!)

The benchmark for historical fantasy was set by authors like Guy Gavriel Kay, Gillian Bradshaw (The Wolf Hunt is one of my very most favorite books ever), and Judith Tarr. For younger readers, I'm a big fan of Catherine Fisher. Most readers probably know her Incarceron books, but she also has a marvelous series called The Oracle Prophecies, set in a world inspired by ancient Egypt during the Greek period.  Rebecca Barnhouse has done some wonderful things with the Beowulf story, and, of course, Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia novels are true classics of the genre. And I nearly forgot Juliet MarillierWildwood Dancing is a pitch-perfect example.

What's coming up next for you in terms of publication?

Well, right now we're pretty excited about the release of Liar's Moon, and to celebrate that, my publisher is offering the electronic version of the first Digger book, StarCrossed, at a great promotional rate ($2.99) for a limited time. It also has a huge sample of Liar's Moon inside. After that? Well, I know all of us would love to work on a third book about Digger!

What drew you to historical fantasy?

I've been a lifelong fantasy fan—I think I read my first Xanth novel when I was eight. But as I grew as a reader, and later as a writer, I found myself really captivated by the more subtle elements of world building, and inspired by the fascinating and often unbelievable details of our own history. I love the sense of realism--of the worlds being truly real--that layers of accurate historical detail can bring to a story. I loved my history classes in school, and then my anthropology studies in college, but I always found I was reading with an eye toward using those elements I was learning about in stories. "How can I spin this information for another world?" Even now I crave that authenticity as I write.

What’s your preference: Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or (gulp) white chocolate?

Prepare to gulp. However, if there is peanut butter in the vicinity, I'm not picky.

If you had to live in the world of one of your books, which book would you choose and which character would you like to be?

Dear me, what a choice! Curses and black magic and no reliable indoor heating... or a religious Inquisition in a police state. Do I choose the Renaissance or the Enlightenment? Charlotte Miller makes her living in the textile industry (and I can certainly see the appeal of that), but Digger lives above a bakery... and that's terribly tempting, as well. The truth is, I've "lived" in both worlds, and would be delighted to revisit either of them. And there are new worlds to come my readers haven't seen yet.

Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing? Why not?

Now that's a trap of a question! First, I can't criticize any genre; I think all sorts of books have their place, particularly for young readers whose tastes and sensibilities haven't been cemented yet. We need many kinds of books because there are many kinds of readers. Secondly, I know from experience that just as soon as I say, "Oh, I'll never write X," that's the precise moment I have an idea for X!  But I will say that it's difficult for me to envision myself writing a story that was firmly contemporary, without any sort of genre classification at all (mystery, paranormal, etc), simply because my own tastes don't generally run that way. But I've just recently had my first idea for a story that is strictly historical (no fantasy elements), so you never know what will happen!

Are there any other fairy tales you would like to retell?

Oh, plenty. (Insert wicked laughter here.) This is an exciting time for fairy tale fans, with all the new books out, plus two new TV series ("Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm"). I hope I'll continue to be a part of it!

Will there be any romance for Digger in Liar’s Moon?

Oh, yes. Probably all she can handle, really!

Did you draw on any real historical religions or cultural aspects to influence the development of the moon-religion in Digger’s world?

The religion of Digger's world is an old, old part of those stories, and it developed gradually, over a period of many years while I was in school. I think it's fair to say that whenever I was studying world religions, I incorporated the elements I found most compelling into that cosmology.  On the surface, it's easy to see similarities to the pantheons of the Greek and Norse worlds. I was intrigued by the idea of the evolution of religious systems--how do those beliefs change as societies change? What would a Reformation look like to a pantheistic society? What if that society embraced monotheism? What becomes of the believers of the old ways? And if you add magic to the mix--in particular a sophisticated, highly religious sort of magical system--how does that affect the conflicts such a society might encounter? It was those questions that drove me as I was working with the religious elements of these books.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!

Have any of you read one of Elizabeth's books? Which fairy tale retelling would you like to see her write? I'd gobble up any retelling, but my heart is pinned on the hopes of a third Digger book.

Elizabeth C. Bunce is generously providing a signed copy of Liar's Moon + swag for giveaway!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US/CA mailing address
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on December 7th

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cover Review: First Impressions (2)

If I saw these books on the shelves, I would totally want to read them based on their prettiness alone. But a pretty cover doesn't always tell you what the book is actually about, does it?

Initial thoughts: *Jaw drop* Beautiful! The flowers and dress are so pretty. I love how it's illustrated and almost looks like a comic book. Ooooh, look! A mummy!

What I expect: British lady, mummies, mystery, and romance. Looks like it will be a light and fun book.

Magic? Probably a little. I'm getting "magic curses" vibes from that mummy.

Historical? Totally, just look at her dress!

Reality: This was a light and fun story, but it had a much younger tone than I was initially expecting (more younger YA/MG than the solid YA I thought it was). There is a touch of magic and it does take place in England. Overall, the cover gives a pretty good idea of what the story is about. 

Initial thoughts: Love that dress! What is she running away from?  

What I expect: I don't really have much to go on, but she looks like she's running away from something, so I guess I expect persecution of some sort?

Magic? Something about her makes me think she's a witch, but other than that this cover really doesn't scream "I HAVE MAGIC!!"

Historical? Yes, this feels like an historical, even though I can't place when that dress would have been in fashion. For some reason I get a Salem witch trials feel from it all, but I don't know why because they certainly wouldn't have been wearing dresses like that then.

Reality: She isn't a witch (though she does have magical powers), she isn't being persecuted, and this doesn't take place during the Salem witch trials (though it is set in the past and in America). The tone of the book doesn't really match the movement or immediate distress of the cover, but it is a darker story and I do get a sense of that darkness from the cover.

Initial thoughts: Pink! Flower! Pretty!

What I expect: A story rich in atmosphere with lots of description. The position of her hands make it look like she's offering the flower, so maybe there is some similar offering in the book?

Magic? The bright colors seem magical, but other than that, no, there isn't anything that would lead me to think magic is a part of the plot.

Historical? Probably. Set in India.

Reality: While the cover image doesn't really reflect the central role magic plays in the plot, it does totally capture the lush atmosphere and Heather Tomlinson's immersive writing. I think it's a good match.

Initial thoughts: Swirly snow! I love stormy, wintry weather.

What I expect: Russia! Something fun, but also maybe a little serious too like the Gemma Doyle trilogy. I definitely get an "impending storm" vibe, which is exciting but also makes me wonder if there's a cliffhanger.

Magic? Maybe! That swirling snow looks like it has a magical twinkle, don't you think? 

Historical? While it's possible it could take place in modern times, my money is on historical.

Reality: The tone of the book matches my impressions (light, but also serious) and the pieces are definitely being put in place and the storm "gathering" in this installment. There are fantasy elements, but the paranormal smorgasbord of vampires, spellcasters, and necromancers is not made apparent by the cover. It does take place in Russia though (during the late 1800s). 

When you look at these covers, what are your first impressions? How do they line up with what the book is actually about?

Remember those "almost historical fantasy" books we mentioned in our discussion post? The "generic medieval village" and similar "Anything Goes-er" books? Ruby has a list of some of her favorites to share with you today! Stop by to see what she's picked and share your favorites!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Joint Book Review: Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 224
Received: ARC from publisher
Small's Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads Page

How well was the fairy tale adapted?

I'd put this retelling on the younger end of MG, and for that level I think Diane Zahler did a pretty good job. All of the basic elements of the original story were present, but this was like the Disney version of the original. I know I usually say I want the Disney version, but for this particular fairy tale I don't want sugar coating. I want the princess to suffer. Mwahahaha!

Ruby: Hm, but how young? I could see an eight year old enjoying this book, but the reading level is more nine or ten. I agree about the suffering. That's basically what the fairy tale is about. By lessening Meriel's suffering, she lessens the impact of the original story.

Small: I agree on all counts. I can see anyone from 8 to maybe 12 enjoying the story, but especially the 8-10 year old crowd.

Seriously though, I don't mean my laughter in the evil queen way it sounds. It's just, you're right, the meat of the original story is all about the princess's suffering through these truly horrible trials because she loves her brothers so much. Her suffering provides depth to the story and underscores how powerfully she loves them. Her triumph at the end (and partial failure) are made so much more poignant when she perseveres through hell to get there.

Ruby: Zahler also put too much emphasis on how much Meriel had "grown", which made her previous self sound pretty worthless. Which I didn't appreciate, because I tend to think that good heroines already have the internal strength they need to, and that their story is about finding it.

Small: I do wish her growth had seemed more gradual and building on a foundation that was already there. Instead it was sort of a flip from "selfish Meriel" to "Wonderful Meriel" and I wasn't buying it. I also didn't see anything in "selfish Meriel" to like, so right off the bat we started out on the wrong foot.

Going back to her suffering, Princess Meriel had to pick nettles and it was mentioned that her hands ended up looking pretty messed up. BUT she had friends to do half the work and keep her company and provide her with healing balms. And she wore gloves. Gloves! That's lame. She also found a HUGE loophole for the no-talking requirement and I was so NOT pleased with this cop out.

Ruby: Couldn't agree more. I kept wanting to shout, "SORCHA DIDN'T WEAR GLOVES!" and similar things.

Small: It's cheating! Her journey was hardly the torturous trek it was supposed to be, and so the destination wasn't nearly as sweet as it would have otherwise been. But this IS a middle grade book, after all, and so I guess I should give all of this a pass. (Is my grumbling petulance showing through?)

Ruby: Pft. I don't care if it was written for toddlers. She didn't have to change that part. Not to get all grandpa on you guys, but it wouldn't hurt some kids to experience some suffering, especially if it's vicarious.

Small: Hehehe, in Sorcha's day she walked twenty miles uphill both ways in the snow, barefoot and without gloves sewing her prickly nettle sweaters...


Small: They were nice. There isn't really much else to say about them. They didn't have much depth, which admittedly does sort of go along with the whole fairy tale thing.

Ruby: Nice is such a tame word! I don't want nice characters. Nice = boring.

Small: Pretty much.

Even though the friends lessened Meriel's suffering, I did like those two characters a lot. Their relationship with Meriel was sweet and served to provide the framework for Meriel's (much needed) personal growth. Their presence also helped liven up a story that can very easily tend toward the boring and overly introspective.

Ruby: There were times when I felt they were there to teach Meriel life lessons, and to show that poor people are nice and compassionate.

Small: Ha, yeah, that "poor people are people, too" message was a little heavy handed, wasn't it?

Meriel annoyed me. She did get better as the book went on, but I still never fully warmed up to her. With the exception of one, the brothers didn't distinguish themselves beyond a few labels, nor did they have any real personality. All of this combined to make it so I didn't really feel for them and their fowl predicament.

Ruby: "Fowl predicament"--HA!

Small: Thank you, thank you. *bows and grins*

The Fantasy Elements

Small: Supplementing the original story was a Diane-Zahler-original dimension with a fairy kingdom. I liked this feature and thought it provided a decent source of motivation for the queen's actions. It blended in well enough and didn't seem out of place to me, but I wish it had more depth or explanation. It felt like it should have been more of a Big Deal than it actually was.

Ruby: This being my first Zahler novel, I can't say how it compares with her other works. I thought the queen was in line with the other characters in the book--she was underdeveloped. But stereotypes (archetypes?) are a feature of fairy tales, so I wonder if that was Zahler's intention? If it was, then she's not the fairy tale-reteller for me. What I like about fairy tale retellings is the chance to see new, different, and more complex sides of those very archetypes. Retellings bring new dimension to old tales. Or, they should!

Small: I can be ok with that. I think I'm still going to give her book The Thirteenth Princess a shot, especially now that I know where to park my expectations. I do agree though, overall I much prefer a fairy tale retelling that provides more plot and, especially, character depth than the original version.

HarperCollins is generously providing a copy of Princess of the Wild Swans for giveaway!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US mailing address
  • There is an opportunity for an extra point for tweeting about the giveaway
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on December 7th

How did you like our joint review? This is the first one I've ever done, and I'm honored to have Ruby as my very first co-reviewer. 

Have any of you read this book or one of Diane Zahler's other fairy tale retellings? How do your thoughts compare to ours?

But wait! The joint review isn't over yet! Check out Ruby's blog today for the rest of our review!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Author Interview: Merrie Haskell + Giveaway! (INT)

Please Welcome Merrie Haskell!

Merrie Haskell is the author of The Princess Curse, one of my personal favorites. She has also written a TON of short stories, and you can read many of them for free through her website (I especially liked Rampion in the Belltower).      

 There are NO spoilers here!

How do you personally define historical fantasy?

That's a big question!  I see historical fantasy as falling into *at least* three separate categories, which is probably excessive, but here goes.

The first kind would be the type of historical fantasy that is real history with fantastical elements, like Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, wherein there are dragons in the world, and the dragons are fighting in the Napoleonic wars, and are crewed like sentient battleships.

The second kind would be the "secret history" kind, where a historical event is recounted, but the secret fantastical events behind the scenes are revealed, like CC Finlay's PATRIOT WITCH, with witches manipulating the American Revolution.

And I think there's maybe a third kind, which would be from the Guy Gavriel Kay school of historical fantasy, where a historical place and time are made into a second world.  I suppose George RR Martin is doing this to some extent, with the War of the Roses retold in GAME OF THRONES?

What are your historical fantasy must-reads? (*Note: I have added Goodreads links for the titles Merrie mentioned so you can easily add them to your TBR!)

Certainly anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, though I think it's A SONG FOR ARBONNE that I like best of his work, just because I love the south of France so well.  I really loved Lian Hearn's ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR because I am a dunce and it took me just forever to realize the book was about ninjas, and I love it when I'm drawn into a book--lulled into it, really--and don't realize the obvious.

But what I really like, and want to see more of is, is historical fantasy's take on the Regency romance (plus or minus the romance).  Mary Robinette Kowal's SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY is Jane Austen with magic, and Stephanie Burgis's KAT, INCORRIGIBLE is a middle-grade Regency romp with magic.  And that's what I really, really love to read--if it's done well.  I'm no fan of merely inserting vampires or zombies into Austen's text, however; that's not what I'm looking for.

What drew you to historical fantasy?

Fairy tales, really!  I love retold fairy tales, but I respond best to ones that are anchored in some sort of reality.  So when I was writing THE PRINCESS CURSE, I felt very strongly that it should be linked to somewhere and somewhen.  And 1489 at the crossroads of the Hungarian and Ottoman duel for the Balkans--well, there were times when I wished I had backed off such a robust era, because there was so much going on and I was so afraid I was going to screw something up.  And I know I did screw things up--I just found out about two weeks ago that Tsepes wasn't appended to Vlad Draculea's name until after 1500, so that's a big old anachronism in my book I didn't hit on until a week after the book was out.  But all the same, I know that as a straightforward fairy tale retelling, TPC would have felt untextured without a historical aspect to draw on.

What’s your preference: Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or (gulp) white chocolate?

Oh, dark, definitely.  Anything less than 75% cacao feels like I'm just eating Cocoa Puffs.  The exceptions here are: I like chocolate with nuts and marzipan, plus almost any chocolate from Switzerland, without prejudice to it's cacao content.  Also, the Vosges Barcelona bar with hickory smoked almonds and sea salt. Um. What was the question again?

How did The Princess Curse change from pre-to-post publication?

Well, without going *too* much into it, there is a draft where Reveka pretended to be dead for most of the book!  Or at least, pretended to be cursed.  But perhaps you are really asking about changes with my editor, and not all along the way?  With my editor, who is a freaking genius, there was some intensive streamlining, a pick-up of the pacing, and clarification of motives.  It was a big push for everything to be clearer to the reader--not that I was trying to be opaque or to obfuscate, but I had some eighth-draft-itis by that point. 

Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing? Why not?

Mysteries, or rather, cozy mysteries.  I don't really enjoy reading them, with a few exceptions (I really do like Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries, though are they cozies?--and I love Agatha Christie).  I think, though, to say you like a genre, that means you have to get some joy out of reading the average books in the genre as well as the amazing ones. A  really good book transcends genre; I suspect that's why I like Agatha Christie.  But I like things in YA, romance, fantasy, etc. that are very clearly not the best examples of their genre, so I would call myself a fan of those genres. Anyway, I'm trying to say, I don't think I could write a book in a genre I don't love, in part because any sort of research into the market would be a long, slow, painful slog, and in part because I wouldn't be familiar enough with the genre conventions to do the work well.

Reveka thinks that the 12 Dancing Princesses curse is the stupidest curse in existence.  Which fairy tale do you think is the dumbest? Which is your favorite?

Reveka thought the curse was stupid only because she was uninformed--she certainly changed her mind once she understood it and when it affected her friends. I think any time I've thought ill of a fairy tale, with a little understanding and a little research into the origins of the story I've gained new respect for it.

Fairy tales are so much beyond simple stories; they are attached down deep into the metaphorical and archetypal layers of story. I think when I was younger, I didn't get why the wife in "Bluebeard" had to succumb to curiosity--she was told not to open the door!  But as a teenager, I understood the rebellion aspect, and later, as a wife, I understood the assertion of an independent identity, the right to open the doors in my own house--all of the things that might go through a young woman's head at that point.

Likewise, even though it is very uncommon nowadays to have a book with a passive heroine, and some fairy tales have incredibly passive heroines, I have a great deal of sympathy towards Cinderella or Snow White. Their situations are sympathetic, and they are young; young and stultified is a terrible position to be in.  So I don't blame either of them for waiting for their fairy godmothers or princes to take a hand. I can't write books like that, of course, and I wouldn't want to, but we all know people who are stuck in bad situations that can't seem to get out of them, and I have patience and sympathy for them.

If you had an invisibility cap, where would you go and what would you do?

Oh, ha! Probably nowhere. I'm a clumsy person; I would totally trip over my invisible feet, do myself harm, and get caught doing whatever I might consider doing.  I would need an invisibility/soundproof floating bubble, I'm afraid; a cap would not cut it.  As a kid, I would have gotten up to all sorts of mischief, like playing tricks on people and spying, but I am older and possibly wiser now.

I mean, that's if I were invested in maintaining my daily life, which I am.  However, I always wanted to be a detective, so if I were *not* invested in maintaining the status quo, I'd definitely use it to be a really great private investigator.

In the traditional fairy tale, the person who discovers the princesses' secret is a man, often a soldier. What made you decided to turn that character into a young girl?

In part, because I knew it had been done. Even though when I wrote the first draft of The Princess Curse I didn't know of many other fairy tale retellings of "12 Dancing Princesses" (mostly, I was aware of the short story version by Robin McKinley which shows up in A Hedge in the Wall), I suspected that if anyone out there was rewriting one, they'd be going the cowherd/soldier route. (The French version has a cowherd, not a soldier.)  I was thinking, "What if there were a cowherd AND a soldier, and it was actually neither of them that rescued the princesses?" And that's how we got Mihas and Pa--and Reveka.  And I thought Reveka, as an herbalist's apprentice, i.e., a girl with a job, would be a nice foil to the princesses.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Merrie! And for making my TBR grow!

Have any of you read The Princess Curse? What do you think about Merrie's three types of historical fantasy? Which type is your favorite?

I love Merrie's response regarding fairy tale retellings. Isn't it true how a story can resonate with us in different ways depending on our own age and situation? That's one of the reasons I love re-reading books so much 
(the other main reason is my awful memory!)

Merrie Haskell is generously providing a copy of The Princess Curse for giveaway!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • One entry per person
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • I will contact the winner through email and the winner will have 24 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen 
  • This giveaway closes on December 7th

A 2012 debut author is chatting today on Ruby's Reads about her favorite book boyfriends! Wondering who she is? Click here to find out her identity and which guys she's picked! 

Check out our Historical Fantasy Jubilee full schedule of events and giveaways!

Have you entered to win our prize pack giveaways?

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