Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ash by Malinda Lo

About the Book

Cinderella retold
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love. Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Every re-telling of faerie tales really has me looking at the stories in a different way, and I love how authors have created worlds and make the story their own. This is a stunning retelling of Cinderella that really makes me wish I bought the book rather than reading the ARC I snagged at Comic Con in 2009.

I really liked the world that Ash lives in where there is a struggle between the old ways of the greenwitch and the science of doctors, the existance of fairies and the reality of her situation. Ash lives in between these two worlds and seems to find a balance to give her the strength to survive. This pushed me forward to keep reading, captivated by her choices and reasons behind them.

The books starts out with the death of her mother, and we go along with some of the original elements of the story with the wicked stepmother and stepsisters. The item that helps her with her grief is a book of fairy tales that her father gives her. She begins frequent walks around the The Wood to visit her mother's grave and Ash finds herself caught up in her own tale, her treasured book almost as a guide at times. After the loss of her father, she is left alone with this makeshift family that treats her like anything but a member of it. Her situation is grave, and so she loses herself in stories and escapes outside so her heart can survive.

The book is split up into two parts, The Fairy and The Huntress. Ash is caught up in not only two worlds, but two possible romances. One is more of an obligation of a wish, but the other is a promise of finding her true self. They both add to the escapism that she needs to keep living, but the balance between the two is tricky and causes her more dilemmas with some of her choices and indecision. I rooted for Ash throughout the story and I knew that I didn't want her to come out of her situation as a prize on someone's arm, but able to give herself as one should.

Malinda Lo's writing is lush and magical, a perfect fit for such a story. It really transported me into a fantastical place and sometimes I had a sense that I could lose myself in her writing as Ash lost herself in the The Wood, the home of the fairies.

4 Stars-- Really liked it!

Definitely take a look at this for a map of Ash's world, blog posts, and more.

Interviews and Reviews

Natasha

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink


About the Book
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters.One good.One evil.Only one will prevail…
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become fierce enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in an age-old battle that could have consequences of biblical proportions.
Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust. They just know they can't trust each other.



I picked up the ARC of this book at Comic Con and couldn't wait to read it. The setting stuck out to me from the very beginning. It takes place at the end of the 19th century in upper New York. It really gives the whole book a different feel with the lack of technology and the feel of beauty from that age (see the trailer). I think this time period really gives the main character, Lia, more challenges than we would in this age since she won't be able to rely on the Internet or modern travel to help in the mystery her parents have left behind for her.

There are some really fun twists and turns in this book and I am really looking forward to the other two books planned in the series in the years to come. This is the author's first book and she really has started a great mystery and leaves the reader ready for the next chapter.

4 Stars-- Really liked it!

Features a preview of the book, a community, and downloads.
Features biography, blog, appearances, and more.

Interviews and Reviews

Natasha

Friday, September 11, 2009

Japanese Friendship Garden and Disneyland


Our trip to San Diego didn't just consist of attending San Diego Comic Con. We stayed with our friend Sue for about a week at her home. Here are some pictures from our visit to Balboa Park and Disneyland.








Food and tea is seriously amazing! Wait until you see
inside the garden.








Look at that amazing food and tea! Yum!









Inside the garden. The koi pond complete
with waterfall. Totally fell in love with it.









Koi! Joey and I want to put a koi pond in our future yard someday. They added two koi while we were visiting, a black and white fish and a small fish with blue-like scales. Beautiful!








More of the garden. Very inspiring!










The best shot of the tons Joey took to capture water dripping.














Standing in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland. We only spent one day there and at California Adventure. I wish we would have had another day, but guess we just have to return someday!






I have to say that the Japanese Friendship Garden really has opened my mind a bit while writing my book. I can imagine this place to help form the environment since I can't visit Japan at this time. Take what I can get! I totally do recommend visiting there if you go to Balboa Park and eating at the Tea Pavilion. You totally won't regret it!

Natasha

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Quiet Front

The big change in my life can now be revealed. Everything has fallen into place as it should (so far), and I am happy to announce that my husband and I bought a condo! We have worked hard to reach this point, and am cannot wait to have less white walls surrounding us.

What else is great about this condo? We will be living in the best part of town, close to all our favorite coffee shops (for writing and treats), comic book stores, parks, and lots of fun events that go on, especially in the summer. It has mature trees, great bus route, and easy access to our workplace. We can paint the walls (as I have mentioned) and do some work to make it more like "our" place. I love the apartment we live in now, but this new place really fulfills our lifestyle in a lot of better ways.

When I moved down here nine years ago, I didn't imagine all the wonderful things that would happen to me. I dreamed them and I have been so blessed to have met my husband, finish my degree, write a few books, and travel. Now to have a place to truly call our own really opens up another dream of creating something truly unique. I plan on not letting it get into my writing. Once we are settled (we move in October), I will sit my butt back down to do the thing that I truly love to do: write. I am thrilled to live by my favorite coffee shops if I am having troubles. No excuses now!

So here is to dreams... and more dreams!

Natasha