Video: Lois Lowry’s Endorsement for The Giver

giverheaderLast week, I was given the chance to see the adaptation of The Giver a bit early to be able to share my thoughts and tell others to go see the movie. For those fans who seem apprehensive about seeing The Giver in theaters, check out author Lois Lowry’s glowing endorsement for it!

The Giver is now in theaters across the country. Go see it and let us know what you thought!

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

It’s not a secret that all of us have been waiting a long time for Isla. A long time. Despite the long wait and all the hype surrounding the book, Isla more than lived up to my expectations. In fact, she surpassed them.

Taking place in my relatively new hometown of New York, and the series’ beloved Paris, the scale of this book feels larger than the others in the series, simply because it covers more distance. But the locations themselves play less of a character in this book, and for good reason. While our two previous heroines of the series  Anna and Lola — know very much where they are and where they are going, Isla does not.

Isla is facing the choices and questions every senior in high school faces: what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What happens if you don’t know? Does my life still have value and do I as a person still have worth even though I haven’t claimed my place in the world? How exactly do I figure out who I am? Isla grapples with these things through the highs and lows of new love, the pressures of family and school, and what the rest of the world thinks of her.

While Anna and Lola stole my heart, I identified with Isla and her struggles on a whole other level. I sat down with the book, only intending to read a few chapters and read the whole book in one sitting. I finished at four in the morning, blown away by what I had just read and filled with happiness.

This book has everything fans will want and expect in the ending. Breathtaking romance, beautiful cities, heartbreak, wonder, and closure, all blended together with Stephanie Perkins’ characteristic wit and charm. If you love the series, then this is definitely the book you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for?

Review: Stalking Darkness by Lynn Flewelling

With the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation–masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai–once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.Seregil’s friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.

Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks–one of which was responsible for Seregil’s coma–but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.

Stalking Darkness is the second book in the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling, and I read it faster than I read the first one.

The events set in motion in Luck in the Shadows catch up with our characters in Stalking Darkness. The war is coming, and with it an evil force that could obliterate the world as they know it. Faced with impossible choices and life threatening tasks, the loyalty and bonds between the friends are tested. Additionally, they have a prophecy to contend with (What Epic fantasy doesn’t have a prophecy?), and there’s no guarantees that all of them will make it out alive.

In this second book the relationship between Alec and Seregil deepens. As best friends and confidantes there is a level of trust and loyalty there, but could there be something more? And if there is, is it worth risking what they have to pursue? I think that all of the relationships in this book–both romantic and not–develop beautifully in this book. They explore the complexity of true loyalty and friendship, and what it means to truly love someone above yourself in all things.

It is rare for me to like a second book in a series more than the first, but Stalking Darkness has accomplished that. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing where these crazy characters find themselves next.

Review: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.

Some friends and I were at a bookstore looking at a spinner of mass market paperbacks, when I picked up a book with a cover which was amazing in that slightly bad way. “Look! Gay pirate spy elves!” Upon investigation, we discovered that while they weren’t pirates, they were gay spy elves. Naturally, we concluded that that was amazing and that we had to read the book.

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling is the first book in this series. An epic fantasy surrounding the spy Seregil and his apprentice Alec, the book was honestly far better than I was expecting it to be. If you know and love epic fantasy, you won’t be disappointed. There is world building-a-plenty, and world shattering stakes that outreach the length of a single book.

Also impressively, this book was released in the ’90s, when openly gay characters were even more scarce than they are now. In Flewelling’s world, homosexuality of both genders is openly accepted and embraced (with an intricate brothel culture involving different colored lights and sexual preference–frankly an entire book could be written about their red-light district). As well as a highly equal society where women make up a good percentage of the leadership and most of the world doesn’t bat an eye. Sounds like our world could learn a few things from theirs, right?

With tons (and I mean that literally–500 pages worth) of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance, Luck in the Shadows is the start of a great series for all lovers of fantasy.

Blog Tour: Interview with Katherine Longshore

9780670014019_large_BrazenMary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

1. Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen are all set during King Henry VIII’s reign in the Tudor period, what is it that drew you to that specific time period and cast of characters?

There is so much raw material to work with! Fascinating characters—not just kings and queens, but strong, opinionated women and men with dodgy pasts and poetic hearts. Situations that verge on the fantastical—secret marriages, half-planned coups, executions based on trumped-up charges. Beautiful clothes, rich fabrics, thriving arts and sciences, chivalry, jousting, falcons, dancing…

I love the characters because there are so many that we think we already know—Henry VIII with his jowls and his vicious temper, Anne Boleyn with her machinations. I love being able to explore alternate possibilities and ask the big what ifs?

2. If you had to write in a historical time period, other than Tudor, what would it be and why?

I would love to find out more about the English Civil Wars. They are partly responsible for the founding fathers’ exodus to America and they mirror America’s Civil War, but we know so little about them. Again, there are some fascinating characters involved—Charles I’s consort, Queen Henrietta Maria comes immediately to mind, as does the diabolical Oliver Cromwell—and situations that rival even the most active imaginations.

3. A lot of your characters come from actual history. Can you talk about fictionalizing their stories and writing their love interests?

Most of what we know about history is “just the facts” or the opinions of those who were around at the time. We all know that what my friend says about me is going to be very different from what my enemy says, and neither one may be completely accurate, so how can we trust the bulk of those accounts? What I love about fictionalizing these characters is being able to take the essence of these accounts and trying to spin it in a way that seems believable. Anne Boleyn was described as mouthy and shrill, but what if she just wanted the opportunity to speak her mind? I also find it fascinating to look at “just the facts” and try to figure out the motivations behind them. It’s like being author, psychiatrist and police detective all at once.

4. If you had to pick a favorite British monarchy, which would you choose?

I’m quite fond of the Windsors, actually.  They showed great courage and solidarity during the bombings of London in World War II, great humanity and humility during the abdication of Edward VIII, struggled visibly with the divorces of the 80s and Diana’s death in 1997 and have embraced modernity through Harry, William and Kate.  They’re part of the great, lingering appeal of England—not just the history, but the continuation of tradition.

5. Out of all of Henry VIII’s wives, which do you think had the most interesting backstory/ tragic tale?

Poor Catherine of Aragon! A Spanish princess, raised during her parents’ (Ferdinand and Isabella—the very same who sent Columbus to discover America) turbulent reign, she left her homeland to marry Prince Arthur (Henry’s older brother) and moved to this dreary and insular little island. But her husband died young and her father and her father-in-law argued incessantly over her dowry, so she had to wait years before her fate was decided by Henry upon his father’s death. Then, after twenty years of marriage, Henry threw her over for a much younger maid-in-waiting. I have a lot of respect for Catherine—she was intelligent, passionate, steadfast and devout—and I think Henry (and his father) treated her abominably.

6. Now that you’ve completed this trilogy, do you find that you favor one of the romantic couples over the others? And if you have to pick one of the love interests for yourself, which would you choose?

I love Fitz and Mary. In BRAZEN, they have the time and the opportunity to discover love the way I hope we all do—patiently and truly and passionately. And I enjoyed writing them and their relationship because for them, everything was new and wonderful.

But if I were to pick one love interest for myself, I’d choose Thomas Wyatt. He can be a bit selfish and arrogant, but he’s so amorous. And the poetry just makes me swoon.

7. If you could be transported back to any time period (Tudor or otherwise), which era would it be?

I’d have to be assured that I could come back to the modern day, because I can think of no historical era I’d want to stay in forever! I’d love to visit the 1920s, because I adore the fashions. Dropped waists, skirts cut on the bias, lots of fringe and movement and fun. I also love it because it was a time that women were just beginning to come into their own. Most had the vote, they were shedding their corsets, asserting their rights, believing that there was more to life than kitchens and babies and that they were smart enough and good enough for anything. How exciting is that?

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more interviews and to learn about Katherine Longshore’s favorite historical hotties!

Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine
Thursday, July 10 –Perpetual Page Turner
Tuesday, July 15 –Alice Marvels
Thursday, July 17 – Confessions of a Book Addict
Tuesday, July 22 – Novel Sounds
Thursday, July 24 – Starry-Eyed Revue
Tuesday, July 29 – The Midnight Garden
Thursday, July 31 – Novel Thoughts

Katherine_Longshore_1589_CL_57_W
Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog.

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Buy BRAZEN

 

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