waiting on wednesday (53)

Today I’m participating in "Waiting On" Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Its purpose is to spotlight upcoming book releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Gail Carriger started off by writing engaging steampunk for adults.  Her novel Soulless, the first of the Parasol Protectorate series, was a hoot and a half.  Carriger is following up that success with a steampunk series for the young adult audience.  The first book, Etiquette & Espionage, introduced a school on a dirigible, a mystery, and many moments of hilarity.  I'll review it later today, as part of Girls in Steampunk Week.  The good news is that Carriger is continuing on, and the second book in the Finishing School series comes out later this year.  Curtsies & Conspiracies will be released on November 5th, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette).

curtsies & conspiracies by gail carriger book cover
Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card. 

In this sequel to bestselling author Gail Carriger's YA debut Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

What books are you waiting on?
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

top ten books dealing with tough subjects

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | | 19 comments
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where we all get to exercise our OCD tendencies and come up with bookish lists.  If you’d like to play along, check out this post.

top ten tuesday

Today didn’t start well.  First I thought it was Wednesday, and I posted my Waiting on Wednesday blog a day early.  It turns out that it is Tuesday instead.  I am okay with this, but the confusion got to me.  I may go get a chocolate peanut butter milkshake on my lunch break, because: reasons.  To get back to the subject at hand...I am very interested to see peoples’ lists for this week’s topic.  I think reactions to ‘issue’ books are personal, and I expect them to vary widely.  I know I was surprised by my own list as it took shape on the page (or post-it note, as it were).  I tend to avoid tough subjects and read for escape, but these stories have all stolen pieces of my heart. 

Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – Conor’s mother has cancer, and his grief, anger, and despair make for heart-wrenching reading.

2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Oh, this book.  It gutted me.  The racism, injustice and violence made me long for peace.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Alexie’s dark humor carries the reader through the depths of poverty, alcoholism, racism and other staples of Reservation life.

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth C. Wein – History shows us harrowing things, and the anti-Semitism and fascism of Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied France is the definition of a ‘tough subject.’  Plus, the book is just amazing.

5. The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel – I tend to think of family dysfunction as a tough subject, and this book is full of it.  And life.  And growing up (another tough subject!).

6. The Psycopath Test by Jon Ronson – Ronson investigates the darkest side of human nature and the world of mental illness.  Also, I gave this book to my mom for Mother’s Day a few years ago.  She liked it!

7. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach – This is a hilarious book with an amazing narrator.  It’s also about dealing with neglectful parents, death and growing up in weird ways.  It’s special.

8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – Urban poverty, family disappointments and alcoholism are the backdrop of one girl’s coming of age in Brooklyn, and somehow it is beautiful.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry – Lowry’s dystopian future muses on the importance of memory, the depths of pain and human ethics.

10. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – Anderson gives voice to a teenager who is the victim of rape, shame, guilt, and social ostracism. It’s an *important* book.

Are any of these books on your list?  What does your list look like?

kiss of steel and heart of iron

We all know (or at least suspect) how much cover art affects our decision to pick up a book, much less buy it.  I am not immune.  In fact, I’ve discovered that I am quite the cover snob.  That is the reason I didn’t pick up Bec McMaster’s steampunk romance Kiss of Steel right away – its cover art.  Never say that I don’t learn from my mistakes, because after seeing Jane of Dear Author’s positive review, I picked it up anyway.  Kiss of Steel and its companion novel, Heart of Iron, are unexpectedly entertaining (and steamy!) historical fantasy romances, and well worth the read.  Beware/bonus: ess-eee-exx.  Oh, and if you're looking for more steampunk with strong heroines, check out my Girls in Steampunk Week!

kiss of steel by bec mcmaster book cover
Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price? 

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal. 

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

In Kiss of Steel, Honoria Todd is desperately trying to hold her family together after the disappearance (and presumed death) of her father.  She has relocated her younger sister and brother with her to the slums, and is eking out a living as a teacher.  Unfortunately, her efforts don’t do enough to keep the cold at bay or buy enough medicine for her brother, and she must put herself at the mercy of the blue blood (a human infected with a blood craving virus but not yet a mindless, dangerous vampire) who goes by the ominous moniker of the Devil of Whitechapel.  How this dangerous character and Honoria deal with each other (and eventually fall in love) takes up the majority of the story.

Kiss of Steel’s strengths were descriptions of class structure within the alternate London, how Honoria dealt with her relationships while looking for a cure for the virus at the same time, Blade’s noblesse oblige and its effect upon a forgotten neighborhood, and (of course) the sexual tension between Honoria and Blade.  I very much appreciated how a little information was given out bit by bit, but not dumped, on the reader.  In addition, McMaster did a good job of playing with different characters’ motivations and revealing them slowly over the course of the story. 

On the negative side of things, the cant dialogue was more distracting than helpful, and there were a few quibbles I had with the world-building (things that weren’t explained or didn’t make sense within the set-up, such as how Blade or most of the Echelon actually made money).  In all, though, I thought it was a strong romance, and I was anticipating the next in the series, Heart of Iron.

heart of iron by bec mcmaster book cover
In Victorian London, if you’re not a blue blood of the Echelon then you’re nothing at all. The Great Houses rule the city with an iron fist, imposing their strict ‘blood taxes’ on the nation, and the Queen is merely a puppet on a string…

Lena Todd makes the perfect spy. Nobody suspects the flirtatious debutante could be a sympathizer for the humanist movement haunting London’s vicious blue blood elite. Not even the ruthless Will Carver, the one man she can’t twist around her little finger, and the one man whose kiss she can’t forget…

Stricken with the loupe and considered little more than a slave-without-a-collar to the blue bloods, Will wants nothing to do with the Echelon or the dangerous beauty who drives him to the very edge of control. But when he finds a coded letter on Lena—a code that matches one he saw on a fire-bombing suspect—he realizes she’s in trouble. To protect her, he must seduce the truth from her.

With the humanists looking to start a war with the Echelon, Lena and Will must race against time—and an automaton army—to stop the humanist plot before it’s too late. But as they fight to save a city on the brink of revolution, the greatest danger might just be to their hearts…

Heart of Iron follows Honoria’s younger sister Lena and Blade’s second-in-command, Will Carver, who is a verwulfen (werewolf).  Lena made the decision to return to the world of the Echelon in hopes of contracting as a thrall (someone who willingly exchanges blood for creature comforts), but she is now acting as a spy for an organization that plans to overthrow the Echelon’s social order.  While she walks this dangerous line, Will is thrust into the spotlight as one of the only verwulfen in England as a contingent from Scandinavia visits in order to form an alliance.  Lena and Will must work together, but old attraction won’t leave them alone for long.

In the first in this series, Blade was the one pushing for a relationship, rather than Honoria.  In Heart of Iron, Lena is the one in charge (regardless of how the summary makes it sound!).  This dynamic is a refreshing switch, and there’s more of a slow burn than the ‘will they, won’t they’ vibe from the first book.  At the heart of it all is Will’s werewolf virus, his superhuman control (or lack thereof), and a strong thread of nostalgia and longing for the world you knew, rather than the world you have now.  McMaster also weaves in loss of innocence along with further world-building and the dynamics within the foreign delegation.

Heart of Iron is a strong follow-up in an interesting world, but some of the same small annoyances followed from the first book to the second (historical slang, unexplained $$).  In addition, there were almost too many characters, viewpoints and motivations to decipher for a romance-centric plot.  It is to be hoped that McMaster ties off some ends in her next volume, while at the same time maintaining the compelling romance factor.

Both books recommended for: fans of Gail Carriger’s Soulless and those who like steampunk or historical fantasy mixed with romance.

girls in steampunk week calendar of events + giveaway

Welcome!  It’s Girls in Steampunk Week at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia.  All week long I’ll be featuring books that both fit into the steampunk mold and have strong heroines.  Planned activities are listed below, and will be updated with links as the content goes live.  Oh, and there’s a giveaway.

girls in steampunk week

6/1 – Review of Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
5/16 – Review of The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
5/16 – Review of Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

And now for the giveaway!  Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Caitlin Kittredge at a local author event.  She writes young adult steampunk, and was kind enough to sign copies of the first two books in her Iron Codex series, The Iron Thorn and The Nightmare Garden.  I’m offering these two books for giveaway.  Want to enter?  Simply fill out the FORM.  Giveaway open internationally, will end May 18th at 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be selected randomly and notified via email.  Good luck!

the iron thorn by caitlin kittredge book cover
In the city of Lovecraft, the Proctors rule and a great Engine turns below the streets, grinding any resistance to their order to dust. The necrovirus is blamed for Lovecraft's epidemic of madness, for the strange and eldritch creatures that roam the streets after dark, and for everything that the city leaders deem Heretical—born of the belief in magic and witchcraft. And for Aoife Grayson, her time is growing shorter by the day. 

Aoife Grayson's family is unique, in the worst way—every one of them, including her mother and her elder brother Conrad, has gone mad on their 16th birthday. And now, a ward of the state, and one of the only female students at the School of Engines, she is trying to pretend that her fate can be different.

the hero’s guide to storming the castle: blog tour & giveaway

Welcome to The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle blog tour!  Christopher Healy’s debut, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, was a middle grade book that impressed me by twisting traditional fairy tale tropes.  It was hilarious, goofy, monster-packed, and featured a great cast of characters (and villains!).  Luckily, they’re back for more in The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle.

the hero's guide to storming the castle by christopher healy book cover
Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. 

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. 

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.

One of the best things about this series is the non-stop banter between the heroes and heroines, but the villains aren’t snubbed in that department either.  Deeb Rauber is an 11-year old Bandit King, and a handful at that.  Read on for more of Deeb’s vital stats.  I think you can tell a lot about someone by their Signature Move.  Deeb is no exception! 

Deeb Rauber

Occupation: Bandit King
Age: 11
Affiliation: Leader, Bandit Army
Kingdom of Origin: Harmonia (though he won’t admit it)
Current Residence: Castle von Deeb, Rauberia
Parents: Prudence & Stanley Rauber
Longtime Foe: His cousin, Ella, who has never been able to truly comprehend the enormity of his diabolical wickedness
Likes: Crime sprees, reveling in his notoriety, candy
Dislikes: Trolls, the League of Princes, stinking trolls, mentions of his age, dirty stinking trolls
Signature Move: The Wedgie-Spitball Double-Humiliator
Quote: “I feel like a snack. Let’s go steal the cake from that royal wedding in Jangleheim.”
Little Known Fact: Dunked one of his bandits in a vat of caramel just for using the word “kid.” And the poor man had only been referring to a goat he saw.

Interested in more of the same?  To visit other blog tour posts featuring characters in The Hero’s Guide series, follow this link.  Christopher Healy will also take part in a Twitter chat with Marissa Meyer on the subject of fractured fairy tales at 9pm EST on Monday, June 3rd.  If that’s up your alley, check out the hashtag #talesretold at the appointed time.

And with that, may I introduce a fabulous giveaway? The first THREE entrants each day will receive signed copies of The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle and EVERYONE who enters is eligible to win a $200 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice. You will need this SECRET CODE to enter the giveaway: Prince Charming. Enter here.  Giveaway open to US addresses only, and will run until May 26th.  Winners will bGo back and enter each day for another chance to win!  Good luck!

Fine print: giveaway hosted by Walden Pond Press through Facebook.

book expo america, 2013 version

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | | 8 comments
Last year marked my first trip to Book Expo America.  I read a lot of helpful posts from fellow bloggers who had visited before, but I didn’t really know what to expect.  I don’t think you can until/unless you’ve been to a huge conference.  All you can do is take the advice that seems good, be prepared and stay flexible.  So how’d it go for me?  Pretty well!  I learned a lot and I posted some ‘after the fact’ BEA tips based on my experience. 

I’m attending again this year, and I’m *gasp* ignoring several of my own suggestions (and that’s okay, too).  We could probably call this next section, How Cecelia Bedelia Is Doing BEA, And Why It’s Kind Of Crazy.

1. Time commitment.  I’m only going for two days, instead of four like last year.  I’m skipping the BEA Bloggers Conference.  It’s not that I don’t want to have the full experience (I do!) – my limitations are about vacation time at the day job and saving ca$hmoney.  If you’ll be at BEA on Friday and Saturday, we should probably be friends.

2. Business cards.  I ordered two hundred mini cards a month ago – twice the number I took with me last year. I like the thick card stock and lovely printing quality of MOO cards, and I found a 30% discount code online. Tip for life/the internet: if you’re going to online shop, always do a search for discount or promo codes before you hit the ‘purchase’ button.

3. Transportation.  The train: I’m taking it, and I booked early to ensure the best fare (something I failed to do last year).  I’m taking the early train up to NYC on Friday, and the 6-something in the evening train back home the next day so as to only spend one night in a hotel.  I will probably come to regret that…

4. Lodging.  Many of my fellow bloggers and attendees will tell you that the only way to do BEA affordably is to either live in the greater New York metro area, know someone who does and has a place to crash (me last year), or share a hotel room.  Since I didn’t feel like figuring out awkward financial arrangements with an internet friend, I am staying by myself in one of the Barnard College dorms provided through the BEA hotel booking partner.  Still expensive, but not bad for NYC, and being able to shut a door on other human beings privacy at the end of the day will be so worth it.

5. Children’s Author Breakfast.  It’s on Friday morning, and it’s the first thing I’ll do at BEA.  I had an amazing experience attending this breakfast last year (Lois Lowry made me weep).  I’m excited to hear from a new crop of authors this year, and if you’re going and sitting at the nice tables, CAN WE BE FRIENDS PLEASE?  I’d love to chat with people I know.  Last year I sat next to a film rights person who was perfectly nice, but I didn’t know what to say/do.  Blogging friends, volunteer yourselves!

6. Bag check and the USPS.  Also known as genius and lifesaver.  I plan to use the concierge-attended bag checks on the lower levels of the Javits Center throughout the day to cut down on the number of books I’m carrying at any given time.  And I’ll definitely repeat last year’s Post Office lunch break to mail my books home each day – it saved me from having an enormous stack at the end, and I got a breath of fresh air (alone!) in the middle of a very busy schedule.

7. Meet with publishing contacts and blogging friends.  Self-explanatory.  Umm… anyone want to do breakfast or coffee on Saturday? *grin*

8. Extra battery/handheld charger for phone. My phone is a combination watch, alarm, reading device, calendar and the portal to the internet.  And because I have an enormous smartphone, the battery dies every 2.5 hours when in use.  Also: the BEA app is too good not to use.  Extra juice for the phone = mandatory.

9.  Books!  Oh yes, that.  I am already looking at lists of authors and signings and panels I want to check out.  I tend to be fairly relaxed about schedules (no color-coded spreadsheets), but I’ll still have several ideas and possible plans in mind.

And I think that’s it!  Tell me: what are your tips, tricks, fears and/or plans for BEA?  If you don’t plan to attend, will you look up Armchair BEA?  Your secrets, please!

girls in steampunk week

Steampunk has been one of the constants in my reading life since I started blogging.  The genre's fun meld of speculative fiction, science, and the allure of the Victorian age seemed to hit peak popularity at the same time that I was rediscovering young adult fiction.  In order to keep myself motivated to read the latest and greatest in an area I pretend to know something about, I hatched a plan.

Next week I’ll be blogging up a storm with an *event* that I created on a whim and a sugar high.  I’m making it up as I go, with some generous inspiration from previous steampink events organized by V of vvb32reads.  It’ll be fabulous.  Look out for Girls in Steampunk Week at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia from May 12-15.  I’ll be reviewing recent steampunk releases that feature strong female leads, hosting a giveaway or two, and I'll probably throw a meme in for good measure.

Best of all, my delightful (real life!) sister Ginny made a fancy button for the occasion.  If you’d like to check back here for Girls in Steampunk Week content, it’ll be in the sidebar, available at the click of a button.  From the 12th on, the image will lead directly to the calendar of events/reviews. 

If you don’t know what steampunk is, please check out this description, then come back next week for more fun in worlds both strange and fantastic.
Newer Posts Older Posts Home