Mercurial Musings

on books & life

Fiction1

Don’t know what to read this year? The amazing folks at Candlewick Press have you covered. Recently, Time Magazine, with the assistance of industry experts, reviewers, and major literacy non-profits, compiled a list to honor the 100 Best Young-Adult Books of all time. This list honors new literature as well as the classics. Candlewick Press, has SIX titles included on this list. And the best part?

Candlewick is giving away a set of of those six featured books to one lucky winner. Guys, this is a HUGE giveaway and a chance to find some new favorites. This prize pack includes paperback copies of: The Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane both by Kate DiCamillo A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & illustrated by Jim Kay The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness Feed by M.T. Anderson Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci These are some amazing titles and would make a lovely addition to your 2015 to read list. You can find out more of each of the books below. Scroll all the way down to the Rafflecopter widget to enter. (US & Canada only)  Fiction1 Feed by M. T. Anderson Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo , illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who’s savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise.

Follow the directions on the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter to win these awesome titles. Winners will be announced on January 27th. Open to readers 13 and older in the US and Canada. 

 

If you can’t see the giveaway widget please follow this LINK or the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

(Apologies while I try to get WP to play nice with Rafflecopter)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Red Queen Cover

Red Queen || Victoria Aveyard || Harper Teen || February 2015 || 400 pages

Somewhere between a Faustian allegory and Tolkienesque epic, is Red Queen. Victoria Aveyard has crafted a beautifully dangerous world full of intrigue and duplicity where “anyone can betray anyone.”

In Mare Barrow’s world, there are two classes — the Reds and the Silvers, each class designated by the color of its blood. Mare is a Red, who can look forward to subsisting until the age of conscription when she, like her brothers before her, will be sent to the front lines of a war that has been raging for over 100 years. The elite Silvers, whose blood grants them special abilities (such as the power to control metal, fire, or meld minds) are fierce leaders with little empathy for the Reds.

In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind. (Aveyard 11)

So begins Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of power, betrayal, and revolution. From page one, I was invested in Mare and her world. Aveyard wastes no time introducing readers to the brutal reality of life in The Stilts, where on First Friday, the villagers are “treated” to violent matches between Silvers, akin to the matches between Roman Gladiators. Ostensibly, these matches are to provide entertainment for the masses, but Mare knows it is really the Silvers’ way of showing their power and what could happen should any Red dare whisper of rebellion.

However, there is a revolution brewing. The Scarlet Guard, a band of Reds seeking to restore balance to the world are gaining strength. But Mare can’t be worried about that, she has family to take care of and her own conscription on the near horizon. With three brothers already at the war, Mare has resigned herself to a grim fate. Until her course is shifted and she finds herself in the middle of a power struggle she never could have never imagined. The Silvers’ have taken note of the Scarlet Guard and the dangerous Lady Titanos, both posing a threat to the monarchy’s choke-hold on the nation. In an attempt to save her best friend, Kilorn and protect her family, Mare has caught the attention of the cruel Queen Elara as well as that of the Scarlet Guard; she finds herself caught between two equally dangerous worlds with few allies.

Aveyard’s prose is careful, she unravels her secrets slowly, letting the reader think they’re a step ahead before throwing them around a bend at a hundred miles and hour. Her characters are strongly developed, multi-faceted, and disturbingly real. The double-dealing, the politics, the never-ending wars declared by the rich and fought by the poor — this is a tale told thousands of times, but never quite like this. I adored this book, and was sad to turn the last page, it has been a long while since I’ve found myself so utterly emersed in a world of fiction and so sad to leave that world behind. It’s going to be a long wait for the second book in the trilogy.

In the past, I’ve set number goals for myself (mostly as part of the Goodreads challenges) and I realized last year, much of the fun of reading was getting lost in the shuffle of trying to meet an arbitrary goal. I missed the joy of getting lost in a book and letting it linger in my mind a bit before jumping right into the next one. I was on a roller coaster of literary speed dating and needed a change.

So, this year, I’m jumping on board the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. What drew me to this challenge is that it focuses on variety of books read instead of simply logging numbers — it’s like a literary scavenger hunt.  I’ve already started my first read, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which is releasing next month. So far, I’m loving the book and am looking forward to more great reads in 2015.

What are your 2015 reading resolutions?

http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2015-36071458

21943246Synopsis from Goodreads:  Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants; but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

My Thoughts:

I went back and forth between wanting to read and not wanting to read this book. The premise sounded like the plot of a Lifetime movie; but something kept pulling me back to it, so I took a chance.  The first chapter, technically a prologue, sucked me in immediately and I wish the rest of the novel had followed more in that tone. Now, after finishing, I still have mixed feelings. There was so much about the book that I loved and so much that made me want to scream with rage.

I’ll start with the good. Fitzpatrick has put together a great psychological thriller — more made for TV movie than Gone Girl — either way it was enough to keep my turning pages late into the night. Tension abounds in this story and there were many “will they make it?” moments throughout the book. Nobody is exactly who they seem to be and everyone seems to have ulterior motives. Scheming abounds and pieces of the puzzle are laid out for the reader with perfect timing. I did figure out some of the twists ahead of time, the clues are there if you’re paying attention, but this did not diminish the experience of reading for me.

On to the negative. The characters were, for the most part, unlikable. Britt’s best friend, Korbie, is such a throw-away character, at no point was I concerned about her and was kind of happy that she didn’t take up too much of the story line. Some of the decisions the characters made were wholly frustrating, as is often the case in stories like this. Britt’s bizarre obsession with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend Calvin is infuriating. The kidnappers make some pretty awful decisions, but they are first-time kidnappers, so I can forgive this. What was unforgivable was the lack of intervention on behalf of the park rangers, police, or even the kids parents. In the end, I did like the character of Mason, not all good, not all bad — to me, he was the most believable character in the book. Overall, this is a great popcorn read, one to keep you distracted and entertained on a rainy Saturday.

Fans of Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series will enjoy this novel as will fans of thrillers like Reconstructing Amelia and Ashes.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

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(c)Shutterstock 2014. Used with permission.

I’d be lying if I said I was sad to say goodbye 2014. Last year was a year of extremes –when things were good, they were really good, but when they were bad; well, you know how that goes. Most importantly though, 2014 was a year of refocusing for me. I took some time away from the blog to focus on finding my zen and to rediscover my love of reading and remember why I started blogging in the first place. I started meditating and working on focusing on the positives in life. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the bad; especially in a year when it seemed like every time I turned on the news or logged on to FB there was another tragic story front and center. So this year, I’m going to continue the changes I set in place in 2014.

(c)Shutterstock 2014. Used with permission

One commitment I’ve made this year is to write more. Whether this takes the form of journaling or (finally) getting all those characters in my head onto paper, doesn’t matter. Writing is therapeutic and a great way to reflect. Secondly, I’m sticking with the “One Word” focus for the year. This year, I’ve chosen kindness as my word. Kindness is something I think the world needs more of. This means being kind to others as well as myself. I’m inspired by R.J. Palacio’s book, “Wonder” and the quote, “when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” There’s also a great Choose Kind Campaign that I’ll be sharing with my students when school resumes next week. Imagine the difference there’d be in the world if we each did one kind thing every day.

Another goal for 2015 is to rediscover my love of blogging. Taking a step back for a while let me figure out where I wanted to go in the future and reminded me why I started this blog in the first place. I love books. I love reading. I love talking about books I love and meeting other readers. To keep that joy, I’ve decided to participate in fewer blog tours and to expand the posts from just reviews to other bookish things. And, once in a while, I’ll talk about things that aren’t books, like video games and what’s going on in my classroom. I mean, I named the blog “Mercurial Musings,” so it sort of makes sense it would focus on a multitude of things. In any case. One of my goals for this year is to return to being an active blogger and to blog about what I want. I’ve found that when I write for myself, the writing is more sincere and I’m happier with what I’m putting out there in the world.

I’m also trying my hand at art journaling this year. I’m not an artist, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am crafty. I’ve found a great and supportive community on FB and Pinterest and am participating in the Journal 52 workshop this year. Between that and Craftsy, I’m excited to learn some new skills.

Hopefully, 2015 will be a year of learning new skills and spreading kindness. What about you? What are your goals for the new year?

Dead Wrath (Valkyrie #4)
Ragnarok is upon the worlds, and the time to fight is now. They come from all of the Nine Realms. Dark Elves, Dragons, Frost Giants, Elves … They all come to fight for Odin.
And they answer to Valkyrie Brynhildr.
While Bryn grieves, struggling to cope with Sigrun’s death, she knows too there is no time for tears. Odin is still a shade of himself and though there is no sign of Loki in all of the Nine Realms – Thor knows he is hiding in Midgard. As the Warriors gather, Bryn must head the offensive and enter the Human Realm in search of the Trickster and his henchman.
The war is silent and it rages all across the planet.
Ragnarok is here …
In this, the 4th thrilling instalment in the Valkyrie series, Bryn takes the war to home turf. From New York to London, Interpol to CIA, Bryn and her team risk their lives to save their families, to the All-Father. And to prevent the end of the world.
If you would like to sign up to be kept in the loop on the Valkyrie Series via newsletter, be sure to sign up >>HERE<<
I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognize that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practice given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each others loves – it works wonderfully…
My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.
I love talking to my readers so email me if you have any questions or even if you just want to chat…
Keep up to date with news, release dates and giveaways by subscribing to Tee’s newsletter HERE.
Book 5 in the Valkyrie series releasing early 2015Ragnarok is upon the worlds, and the time to fight is now. They come from all of the Nine Realms. Dark Elves, Dragons, Frost Giants, Elves … They all come to fight for Odin.
And they answer to Valkyrie Brynhildr.
Tricked by Loki, Bryn is now imprisoned and finding a way out is harder than it seems. Time is running out for those who fight for Odin and while Aidan’s absence is felt by all, Bryn and her team know there is no time to waste.
But Bryn is determined to find him, and stop him using every means necessary. From poisoned water to black goo, to an electronically monitored Bifrost, Bryn will use all the tricks up her sleeves to save Odin and the Nine Realms.
The war is nature and there is disaster all across the Nine Realms.
Ragnarok is here …In this, the 5th, and final, exhilarating installment in the Valkyrie series, Bryn takes on Loki with her eye on bringing him to the Vigrid Plains, the site of the final battle of Ragnarok. From all across the world, Bryn and all her teams do all they can, battling naturals disasters and murderous attackers to prevent the end of the world.
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Iron Pendulum high res Cover

IP BT Banner FinalBy now, you know what a fan of the Periodic Series I am. Megan Curd has created a world unlike any other — a unique fusion of Steampunk and Dystopia that blends mystery and romance into a beautiful tale of adventure and intrigue. Here’s a quick synopsis:

IRON PENDULUM Synopsis

Iron Pendulum high res Cover

A month ago, Avery thought the world ended outside Dome Four. Thought she was one of the few of her kind. Thought the war that brought the human race to the brink of extinction was over.

But a month can change everything.

After fighting to escape a tyranny she didn’t even know existed, Avery has had to come to grips with all the secrets she’s uncovered. But more secrets continue to come to light, revealing how little of her world she truly knew. When evidence starts to show that Dome Four might be under siege, Avery knows what she must do.

Returning to the dome she longed to escape is a challenge for Avery, but now she knows there’s corruption lurking in the shadows. A massive steam shortage leaves half the dome without power, and people are falling ill. Dying.

And they’re blaming Avery.

A month can change everything. One more month could kill everyone. The clock is ticking.

My Thoughts

This book, oh this book! Megan Curd’s story telling just keeps getting better and better. Wasting no time getting back into Avery’s story, we see a different side of the world, one where Avery is placed into the middle of a brewing civil war. She will face unspeakable loss and impossible decisions — and I still can’t forgive Megan for ripping out my heart a couple of times, but I also love her for it. Like its title suggests, Iron Pendulum swings back and forth Jax and Avery and the crew find themselves in over their heads more than once. Unafraid to explore the darker sides of humanity, Curd creates characters who are complex, compelling, and completely relatable. Even the hero, Avery, will realize there are far more grey areas in the world than we’d like to admit. Facing odds that would bring most people to their knees, Avery has to dig deep to take her heartbreak and rage and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. But, in typical Curd fashion, this roller coaster ride takes you through many twists and turns. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something unexpected pops up. It’s a brilliant mix of realism and fantasy, and one I can’t get enough of. Do yourself a favor and check out this series, you can start now with this exclusive excerpt:

EXCERPT

 Jaxon’s watch beeped, warning us we’d been gone three hours. Sari sighed, took a piece of chalk from her pocket, and put a big X on the cement wall. “Time to get back to headquarters. I’m marking this tunnel as a no-go. The Zeros will be back to hunt us sooner than we want to believe, and I don’t feel like heading into their lair.”

We headed to the labyrinth of tunnels that led to the Alliance Headquarters. After weeks of traversing them, we’d committed the turns to memory.

“I think I need a vacation from running around in crap,” Jaxon said as he took my hand in his. “We should go outside when we get back.”

My heart soared. We hadn’t been allowed outside since the day after I awoke. The UV rays were still dangerous, and we were right on the edge of Dome Four. We couldn’t risk being seen; or worse, being burned by the sun. All the same, the proposition was thrilling.

“Really? We could do that?”

“Why not? I think after being in these subterranean tunnels for a week, we deserve some sunshine. I’m sure Lexie won’t mind, as long as we don’t get turned into crispy critters in the process.”

About Megan Curd:

Author photo

Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn’t begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college. When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Photography, traveling and snowboarding are hobbies she loves, and she doesn’t turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself. Megan currently resides in Ohio with her husband and son, where she is trying to convert them into Buckeye fans.

Find Megan Online:  Website ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Goodreads ||  IRON PENDULUM Goodreads

Check Out the Other Awesome Stops on the Tour

Blog Tour Schedule:

August 26th

Book Lovin’ Mamas – Excerpt

Fabulous and Fun – Excerpt & Review

Once Upon a Twilight – Excerpt & Review

Coffee Books & Art – Excerpt

 

August 27th

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Excerpt & Playlist

A Book Vacation – Excerpt & Review

Becky on Books – Excerpt & Review

Born To Read – Excerpt & Review

 

August 28th

Adventures in Writing – Guest Post & Review

In between The Pages – Excerpt & Review

Let Me Be Fictional – Excerpt & Review

Bibliophilia, Please – Excerpt

 

August 29th

Roxy’s Reviews – Excerpt & Review

A Dream Within A Dream – Excerpt & Review

Paperback Cowgirl Reviews – Excerpt & Review

SassyCat’s Books Review – Excerpt & Character Playlist

 

August 30th

Book Sense – Excerpt & Review

Loves All Things Books – Excerpt & Dream Cast

Girl in the Woods Reviews – Excerpt & Review

 

 

August 31st

Ashley’s Paranormal Book Blog – Excerpt & Review

One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads – Excerpt & Review

deal sharing aunt – Excerpt & Interview

 

September 1st

GenGen’s Book Blog – Excerpt & Review

Resch Reads and Reviews – Excerpt & Review

Shelfspace Needed – Excerpt & Review

This Redhead LOVES Books – Excerpt

 

September 2nd

The Revolving Bookcase for Young Readers – Excerpt

Dowie’s Place – Excerpt & Review

Istyria book blog – Excerpt & Review

 

September 3rd

Addicted Readers – Excerpt

Shayna Varadeaux Books & Reviews – Excerpt & Guest Post

K.R. Grace – Excerpt & Review

Mercurial Musings – Excerpt & Review

 

September 4th

Avid Reader Musings – Excerpt & Review

Bookinfatuation – Excerpt & Review

Out of Time – Excerpt & Review

 

September 5th

Fabulous and Fun – Excerpt & Interview

A Cup of Coffee and a Book – Excerpt & Review

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

 

September 6th

The Rest Is Still Unwritten – Excerpt & Review

Write Away Bliss – Excerpt & Review

Racing To Read – Excerpt & Review

 

September 7th

Such a Novel Idea – Excerpt & Guest Post

The La La Land of Books – Excerpt & Review

paranormal book club ( PBC) – Excerpt & Review

The Book Beacon – Excerpt & Review

 

September 8th

Much Loved Books – Excerpt & Review

Life Between the Pages – Excerpt & Review

Reading on the Farm – Excerpt & Review

Shelves of Books/ Reading For Fun – Excerpt & Review

 

September 9th

Books for a Delicate Eternity – Excerpt & Review

The Bookie Monster – Guest Post & Review

Dizneeee’s World of Books – Excerpt & Review

deal sharing aunt – Excerpt & Interview

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