Thursday, December 31, 2015

Truthwitch Party Prep: Something For Instagram

Today as part of my Truthwitch party-planning series, I have some printable photobooth props for you. They are the perfect party activity – you can recreate the world of Truthwitch and take selfies and everyone will look at your Instagram feed and wish they could be half as badass as you.

In the printable PDFs, you'll get a ship captain's hat (for Merik, our Windwitch and sailor), two swords (one of them is slicing through a splash of water – a little nod to the book cover!), red eyes (so you too can be like Aeduan the Bloodwitch), and some colorful curse words, care of Safiya fon Hasstrel.

All you have to do is print out the PDFs on a heavy cardstock paper, cut out each prop, glue to a wooden stick (like a skewer or a dowel or even a popsicle stick), and get those cameras out.

Just a reminder – these printables are for your personal, non-commercial use only. If you share these anywhere, please include a link back to this post. Thank you kindly!

Also, if you end up using these, I would LOVE to see pictures!! You can tag me on Twitter (@codenametiffany) or on Instagram (@bookplatesforbrunch).

Check out all my Truthwitch party posts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Truthwitch Party Prep: Something To Wear

Sing with me: On the third day of Truthwitch party-planning, tattoos to wear temporarily!

Including Witchmark tattoos!

A Witchmark is the mark all witches are required to have tattooed on their right hand. It indicates what kind of magic they have (Aether, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, or Void). However, certain kinds of magic are more rare and valuable than others, so some witches choose to hide their powers so that they don't get hunted down by evil political figures and questionable mercenaries...

Not only do you get your 6 clan tattoos in this downloadable PDF, I've also included 2 friendship bracelets (because so much of Truthwitch is about Safi and Iseult and their bond as Threadsisters), 4 heart tattoos so you can declare your love for Aeduan (my personal fave), Merik, Safi, and/or Iseult, 1 gorgeous quote from the book, and "Truthwitch" (for those of you who are brave enough to declare your Truthwitchery).

The printable PDF has all the art reversed so that the tattoo looks right-side up when you apply it to your skin. All of the temporary tattoos are formatted to fit on a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. For detailed instructions on how to print and apply your temporary tattoos, check out Wendy's post at The Midnight Garden.

These tattoos are for your personal, non-commercial use only. If you end up sharing them anywhere, please include a link back to this post. Thank you!

Check out all my Truthwitch party posts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Truthwitch Party Prep: Something To Eat

It's Day 2 of the Truthwitch celebrations! So you have something to drink – coffee from Mathew's Coffee Shop – and now you need some tasty treats to eat. Luckily I have just the thing.

Susan Dennard has said that the Witchlands are loosely inspired by three ancient European empires – the Venetian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire – so I wanted to find something with a little bit of that Eastern European heritage. I landed on these jam thumbprint cookies which I love because the jam filling reminds me of blood (bwahaha) and Aeduan the Bloodwitch by association. You can use any fruit preserves you like – I went with raspberry because I wanted that deep red color and I just like raspberry-flavored things.

Bloodwitch Cookies

Modified from
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Prep time: 40-45 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.
Stir flour and salt in separate bowl. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients slowly until a soft dough forms. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Use your finger or teaspoon to make a well in the center of each cookie.
Spoon the raspberry preserves into each well halfway (about 1/4 teaspoon of preserves).
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

*No Bloodwitches were harmed in the making of these cookies.

Check out all my Truthwitch party posts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Monday, December 28, 2015

Truthwitch Party Prep: Something To Drink

In anticipation of Susan Dennard's new book Truthwitch, I'll be sharing one fun Truthwitch-related surprise each day this week! Just some little things to get you in the spirit for its release on January 5th. Not everyone will be able to see Susan on her book tour, but who says you can't throw your own book launch party to celebrate?

So come on in, relax, have a drink... how about coffee? Specifically, coffee from Mathew's Coffee Shop.

Mathew, the proprietor of said coffee shop, is an Aetherwitch and a friend of Safi and Iseult. He's a minor character, but I've inexplicably latched onto him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Mathew serves "real" Marstoki coffee, the "best" in Veñaza City... Of course, by "real" I mean fake, and by "best" I mean terrible. Definitely no hearts decorating your latte here.

In the spirit of Mathew's Coffee Shop, I've got some tips on how to make terrible coffee, the kind worthy of being served by Mathew himself.

Serve your coffee in a mug that's on-brand.

Here's a Mathew-approved mug – perfect for sipping your beverage of choice. You can buy it at my Society6 shop, the only official licensed retailer of Mathew's Coffee Shop products (currently). Wink.

Brew coffee beans that have gone stale.

Coffee is like wine or cheese, right? You want a good vintage bean for the best flavor. The older, the better.

Never wash your coffee brewing devices.

Think of your coffee maker like a cast iron pan – you don't want to wash a cast iron pan with soap and water, you want to season it with oil to keep it in good condition. Your coffee maker is the same way. The mineral buildup and coffee residue just help ensure it's working at its best.

Use any old water for your brew.

Bathwater, tap water, any water will work. Don't get too fussy with that filtered water or distilled water – who wants to drink sanitized coffee anyway? Keep it real for a nice earthy brew.

Try letting your coffee sit for hours until it cools.

You can always add some ice to make iced coffee, or pop it in the microwave and heat it back up for a different taste. Easy peasy way to keep things fresh.

Ratios are for jerks.

Just throw in a couple scoops of ground coffee and enough water to fill a cup. Remember, real chefs don't measure. Coffee is an art, not a science. (Bonus tip, in case you want to get fancy: lots of ground coffee + a little bit of water = an espresso!)

And there you have it. Coffee that will make you feel like you're right there in Veñaza City.

Check out all my Truthwitch party posts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful holiday if you celebrate (and even if you don't)! Hope you get to spend it with a great book, a dog, cookies, cake, hot chocolate, warm sweaters, clean underwear, socks with no holes, socially aware relatives, and all the people you love. XOXO

Monday, December 21, 2015

Shop Talk with Leigh Bardugo

I love Leigh Bardugo. She just spouts off wisdom like a teapot, and I always look forward to her events, Twitter chats, livestreams, etc. because I know I'm going to learn something new. It just so happens that Monica Sanz (@MonicaBSanz), Rebecca Sky (@RebeccaSky), Erin Latimer(@ELatimerWrites), and Leah Crichton (@LDCrichton) of the Wattpad4 hosted a Twitter chat with Leigh back in November and I was lucky enough to catch it.

As always, I'm not recapping what happened play-by-play, but instead highlighting what I found to be the most interesting & insightful moments. But... it was a short chat, so this is pretty comprehensive. ;D

Tell us why/how you started writing, and what inspired you to write the Grisha trilogy.

I was born of poor but honest folk... Erm, this is a tough one. Always wanted to be a writer, trick was finishing a book. I had a bad habit of starting strong and then just fizzling out. I needed to find my process (for me it's outlining). I'm going to tell you what EVERYONE tells you, banish perfection! Write a dreadful, messy, shoddy first draft but FINISH. I think we get a little too hung up on inspiration or THE BIG IDEA. The first idea is easy, first act is easy. The trick isn't falling in love, it's staying in love.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Illuminae: A Short Debriefing (Am I Not Merciful?)

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Title: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf/Random House Children's Books
Publication date: October 20, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary (via Goodreads):

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

I have a poor grasp on science fiction.

In the landscape of my mind, SF stands for San Francisco (or Saving Francesca, heyo!), a space opera is basically a musical that takes place in outer space, and a hyperspace jump drive is just another word for a USB stick.

See? Science fiction. Not really my thing. But Illuminae? It           blew me away.

A day may come when I am able to speak intelligently about this book. But it is not this day. This day, I can only describe my thoughts on Illuminae in computer-generated graphical representations.

So. That's what I'm doing. DON'T LOOK AT ME.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Killed It (And Me) In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

10 days to Christmas! 2 weeks to 2016! Where has the time gone?!? Looking back, I read SO many incredible books this year. I didn't get to all the books I wanted to read (Queen of Shadows and Six of Crows for starters... although I blame my reluctance and general slowpoke-ness on The Hype™), but I did manage a good amount of new releases, a handful of debuts, and plenty of backlist titles. (Urgh, does anyone else hate the word "backlist" as much as I do?) Out of all the books I read, these are the ones that stood out the most.

Best Fantasy: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

This book destroyed my life. I know people have mixed feelings about the middle child of a series, but Siege and Storm was everything I think the second book in a trilogy should be. Here's why I loved it...

Best Science Fiction: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I should have a label just for my Illuminae posts. Here's my fake review of Illuminae. Here's my Illuminae playlist. Here are some pictures I took of the interior. Here's my recap of the book panel and signing with Amie and Jay.

Best Historical Fiction: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

If Hitler and Nazi Germany hadn't lost the war... I said it once, and I will say it again: HOLY SCHEISSE! Powerful writing, fascinating characters, and an unimaginable story imagined. Get ready for your mind to be blown. AND the second and final book comes out in 2016 – in March, I think!

Best Contemporary: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

I read this book way back in June and I still find myself thinking back on those little moments between Mac and Sydney. The Kwackers, the pizza deliveries to the middle school gym, the first time Mac laid eyes on Sydney... Here's thirteen other reasons why Saint Anything is my favorite contemporary from this year.

Best Literary Fiction: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

A+ for diversity, representation, and complex family dynamics. This is actually Celeste Ng's debut novel and it is beautiful. Read more of my thoughts on Everything I Never Told you here.

Best Debut: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Ha. Ha. Ha. This debut from Estelle Laure killed me. I'M DEAD. I can't even talk about it. Just read my sort-of-review and you'll understand why.

Best New Adult: Ricochet by Krista and Becca Ritchie

I like to consider 2015 my breakthrough year in terms of NA reads. Krista and Becca Ritchie's Addicted series is one that has really stuck with me (for good and bad reasons, which I talk about in this post). I'm slowly making my way through the rest of the books, but I loved this companion novel they published from Lily's POV. It made me cry in a public space. It also made me realize that I love Lily Calloway like she's my own child.

Best Standalone: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Oh, look! Another book that I loved. LOVED. Looooooved. The story is a delight – so magical, such an escape – and the relationships! The slow burn! Excuse me as I internally combust from all the feelings! Siiiigh. If you missed it, here's my complete review of Uprooted.

Best Novella: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

This was such a treat to read. In fact, I would like to read it again, but I'm scared of the feels. Here's my review (with Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight spoilers!).

Best Series: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I feel like I talk about the Grisha Trilogy/Leigh Bardugo/Nikolai Lantsov ALL. THE DAMN. TIME. Did I reeeeally read Shadow and Bone for the first time just SIX months ago? Leigh has become one of my all-time favorite authors, and my goal is to get progressively cooler and less awkward every time we meet.

Storytime! I always forget (or erase from my memory) the little fact that I didn't love Shadow and Bone. Fortunately, there was one little moment, one line, that really struck a chord. The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.

THANK THE LITERARY GODS FOR THAT LINE because it pulled me through the Shadow and Bone and compelled me to check out Siege and Storm (and that book was the ultimate gamechanger for me – I wrote a mini-review of it here and shook in withdrawal for DAYS), followed by Ruin and Rising (which I loved so much that I wrote about it twice: non-spoilery version here and uncontrollable, spoilery outbursts & general flailing here).

Oh, and I put together a playlist for the series here, too. It's pretty dang good if I do say so myself.

Best Female Protagonist: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

If you haven't read this book already, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR. Here. You need this list of 7 things I loved about The Wrath and The Dawn. And then you need to get yourself a copy of this book. And then we can rejoice over the amazing, sassy female protagonist that is Shahrzad. We will bond over her expensive jewelry! We will laugh about tiny cucumbers! It will be a grand time!

Best Male Protagonist: The Queen of Attolia by Meghan Whalen Turner

Yes. Eugenides from The Queen's Thief series. Not Nikolai Lantsov, the love of my life from the Grisha trilogy. It's Gen. Gen! I'm surprising even myself with this choice.

I mean, did I highly dislike The Thief? Yes. I really hated it SO much. And while I did not love The Queen of Attolia either, there were little bits of dialogue that made me think, "Hmmmm. There is something here."

So I haven't totally, completely written off this series. Plus, Gen just gives me distant Froi* vibes and let me tell you, FROI VIBES ARE NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY.

*Froi from Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles (speaking of which, I've just realized I DON'T HAVE A MELINA MARCHETTA TAG ON MY BLOG. WHAT IN THE WHAT!!!).

Best Friendship (TIE): A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith / Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I have SO MANY FEELS about Annabeth and Steven's friendship in Hilary T. Smith's A Sense of the Infinite. (Also, come to think of it, Annabeth and Ava are amazing too?!??) Friendships that last through the thick and the thin (snotty tears withstanding!) are A+ in my book. Read more about my thoughts on A Sense of the Infinite here!

And for a best friend-ship that most of you are probably already familiar with, given the rave reviews this book has received all year... Agnieszka and Kasia from Naomi Novik's Uprooted. Hooooly crap, you guys. Their friendship is powerful and magical and just #FRIENDSHIPGOALS. Here's my review on Uprooted. I go on and on about their friendship and I call it a force to behold. Because it is. BEHOLD.

So, that's my list for this year! I can't wait for 2016 – so many exciting books coming out (Truthwitch! Strange the Dreamer from Laini Taylor!), and so many great books still to read.

Have you read any of the books on my list? Do you agree/disagree? What other books would you recommend for each of these categories? I especially need more dashing male protagonists in my life!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Longest Night by Andria Williams – Like Playing a Sad Song on Repeat

Title: The Longest Night
Author: Andria Williams
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: January 12, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Summary (via Goodreads):

In 1959, Nat Collier moves with her husband, Paul, and their two young daughters to Idaho Falls, a remote military town. An Army Specialist, Paul is stationed there to help oversee one of the country’s first nuclear reactors – an assignment that seems full of opportunity.

Then, on his rounds, Paul discovers that the reactor is compromised, placing his family and the entire community in danger. Worse, his superiors set out to cover up the problem rather than fix it. Paul can’t bring himself to tell Nat the truth, but his lies only widen a growing gulf between them.

Lonely and restless, Nat is having trouble adjusting to their new life. She struggles to fit into her role as a housewife and longs for a real friend. When she meets a rancher, Esrom, she finds herself drawn to him, comforted by his kindness and company. But as rumors spread, the secrets between Nat and Paul build and threaten to reach a breaking point.

Based on a true story of the only fatal nuclear accident to occur in America, The Longest Night is a deeply moving novel that explores the intricate makeup of a marriage, the shifting nature of trust, and the ways we try to protect the ones we love.

Many thanks to Random House for sending me this electronic copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Andria Williams makes a gorgeous authorial debut with The Longest Night, a story that explores one family's complex, tangled relationships with neighbors, with friends, and with each other. Williams throws us into a sleepy town where much of life revolves around the presence of one of the country's earliest nuclear reactors. From the start, we know that something's not quite right with the ol' CR-1, and this feeling of unease grows and grows until we reach a tipping point. It's hard to imagine that The Longest Night is based on a true story: the events feel like they're straight out of a science fiction plot, and the 1950s have never felt so iconic yet, strangely, so unimaginable.

The high tension setting provides the perfect backdrop for the messy interpersonal dynamics in the story. Interactions between Nat and Paul, husband and wife, feel more loaded somehow – as though the two are dancing on shaky ground. Every observation feels sharper, more significant, more pressing. Paul reflects on his life before Nat, while Nat reflects on who she was then and who she is now; and meanwhile you're sitting there thinking about the complexity of marriage and love and friendship – how we sometimes fall into things and how, for better or for worse, time turns relationships into something you had never expected.

And so, when Nat is presented with a choice, a fork in the road, it's difficult to say which way she should go. There's no black and white answer – Williams develops the story and these characters in a way that makes it so easy to understand and justify their actions and thoughts, even if you know that they're walking a fine line, teetering somewhere between status quo and free-fall. Throughout the book, you feel as though these characters are forever playing with something, some force, that is beyond them – whether it's the nuclear reactor, or the institution of marriage, or the expectations of society in the 50s... And maybe you know what they should do, how they should respond, but if you're being totally honest with yourself, you find that mostly you just want them to shirk the responsibilities and obligations, and instead choose the path that will give them the greatest happiness.

As I reflect on Williams' story, I'm realizing that this entire book is a study in character – in people, in who we are and who we become and how people affect us and shape us over time. At its heart, this is a story of life and desire and the values we carry with us. The characters in The Longest Night are fascinating: flawed and fucked up, and still there's something that keeps you turning the pages, wanting to know more about them, even if you can't.

And isn't that just so true to life? You can never know a person's entire story. All you can do is watch and observe and make sense of actions and try to draw out meanings from things and people that are unknowable. And there's something sacred about that. Andria Williams puts it brilliantly, this pleasure of not quite knowing:

I wanted to keep that moment where he was so grown-up and so perfect that I wasn’t quite sure it was really him. I wanted to keep it like I could have it forever and ever, over and over, that feeling of recognizing.

That's what this book is. It's not knowing. It's ambiguous. It's disturbing. It's unfair. It doesn't have a perfectly happily ever after ending – but it's okay, because this book is a reflection of life and there's no such thing as a neat resolution. And by the time you get to the last page, you don't really want the disingenuous fairytale ending anyway. What you want is something that feels real – and that real-ness is what you get. The Longest Night feels a little bit like a sad song, but it's a song you want to play over and over again.