Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway (INT): Of Breakable Things, by A. Lynden Rolland

Hey guys... after a long quiet, I'm back with a review as part of the Of Breakable Things tour organized by Chapter by Chapter. Below you can also find more info on the book and author as well as a link to the tour schedule with the other stops. You should check those out because there also interview and guest post stops, and who doesn't like a glance behind the scenes ;) There's also a giveaway you can enter below.


THE BOOK
Release date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, 300 pages

Goodreads description:
A captivating debut about the fragility of life, love, and perspective.

Alex Ash was born broken. Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is like living on death row, but she is willing to fight for her frail life as long as it includes the boy next door. Chase has always held the pieces of her together, but when he dies tragically, Alex’s unfavorable fate becomes a blessing in disguise.

Faced with a choice, she finds herself in a peculiar world where rooms can absorb emotions and secrets are buried six feet under. Among limitless minds, envious spirits, and soulless banshees, Alex hardly rests in peace





THE AUTHOR
A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. She has always been intrigued by the dramatic and the broken, compiling her eccentric tales of tragic characters in a weathered notebook she began to carry in grade school. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc and thunderstorms. When she isn’t hunched behind a laptop at her local bookstore, she can be found chasing her two vivacious children. She now resides just outside Annapolis with her husband and young sons.


REVIEW
Of Breakable Things is a novel that begings with its heroine’s death. Then again, Alex, said protagonist, has been dying all her life of a rare illness that rendered her fragile and unable to do all the things she wanted to do. But through all of that, there were always the Lasalle brothers, first among them Chase. Chase and Alex shared a connection that was plain for anyone to see, though neither of them ever dared to really act on it. When the Lasalles all died in a tragic accident, Alex died inside as well. With her mother dead and her father placing the blame on her, there was nothing and no one else to live for.

Yet death doesn’t have to be the end. Souls with enough energy can choose to stay behind as spirits, and this is what Alex chooses with the hope that Chase made the same decision, that they could meet again. On the other side, Alex enters the spirit town of Eidolon, where new spirits are taught about the rules of their afterlife and how to use their powers. It’s basically like boarding school for the gifted dead, and Alex turns out to be plenty gifted. I really liked that since her body was always weak, her mind had to grow all the stronger and she now profits from that.

However, all is not dandy in the city of the dead. People stare at Alex because of how much she resembles the mother she never met… yet no one wants to answer her questions about her. Also, the other Lasalle brothers are there to take Alex into their midst again, but Chase is detained for breaking the rules. There is something more brewing in the town of Eidolon. Banshees have been sighted, which is highly unusual for the region. Things have gone missing. And Alex finds a box of old letters she feels compelled to read…

Something I really liked about the structure of Of Breakable Things is that it alternates between the present and between memories of Alex and Chase’s past. I found the beginning a bit cumbersome because there’s quite a lot of info dropped on Alex (and thus the reader) in a rather didactic way. I can see why that’s necessary because the world Rolland created is very complex and imaginative, but I was also glad for the change in pace that the memories brought with them. They made me understand the connection between Chase and Alex and I began rooting for them.

That whole ‘soul mates’ and ‘destined for each other’ stuff is not usually for me, but I could get behind it here because it’s not insta-love where the characters basically know nothing about each other. Alex and Chase grew up together from the time they were babies. They understand each other better than anyone else. However, the way their meeting again is dragged out for quite a while became a little annoying. On the positive side of it though, that gives the reader more time to get to know the other Lasalle brothers and the dynamics between them and how Alex fits into that. I really like sibling bonds in novels and that definitely came through here – the love as well as the rivalry. All four brothers have distinct personalities, and they all care about Alex in their own way.

As I’ve said, there’s a lot of world building in here. The rules for spirits are strict and there’s a schedule, but there’s also time for fun. Some of the teachers and school lessons reminded me a bit of Hogwarts, but not in a rip-off kinda way. I think it’s just hard to get around that comparison these days. Anyway, I really like how the novel plays with things we believe about ghosts, and how Alex and Chase’s hometown with its history of haunting figures into it. Also, spirit ‘brains’ work a lot faster than regular human ones, and who doesn’t wish they could devour a whole library in a few days and remember every word they’ve read?

The plot takes a while to really get going. I think in part that’s because a lot of things have to be built up and set in motion, but there were also times when I think some scenes could have been shortened to make it a bit tighter. There’s more action and twists as things go along though, especially after Alex finds the box of letters I mentioned above. I really liked reading those and trying to piece together what was going on, and how that figures into what is happening now, more than a hundred years after they were written. Eidolon is a city of secrets, alliances, and legacies. Some families have had spirits showing up there for years and form an elite. Others are shunned and taunted. All of them have plans… and spirits can still die a final death.

Of Breakable Things is a compelling story about love, death, and family. It took me a moment to find my footing in the story, but then the writing flowed easily and I found myself in tune with the characters, their hopes and fears, and their world. The world of spirits was created with a lot of care for those little details that make an imagined world real to the reader, and I found myself wishing I could spend a few hours exploring the town and the school. While the first part of the book focuses more on the relations between characters, the pacing and action pick up later on, so there’s something for everyone. Despite death being a topic, the quirky characters and banter make sure there’s enough fun among the darker and creepier side of things. The ending round the novel off nicely and without a cliffhanger, but I’m also very curious to see where Alex and Chase’s story is going in the next book!


As I've already mentioned above, there are stops with interviews and guest posts! If you're intrigued after reading my review, you can find the tour schedule here.


GIVEAWAY
This tour-wide giveaway is international and winners will be picked on May 3, 2014. Good luck!

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's Alive!

... Or is it?
Remember me? I've been gone for a month without an explanation, and for that I'm very sorry. I owe a lot of people reviews. For some I've actually read the books, for some I just couldn't get around to it.
Why have I been gone? There are a lot of reasons and quite a few excuses. The main reason is that I'm not by nature a very energetic person. Especially lately, I've been fatigued and unmotivated and have a hard time making myself do anything apart from the really necessary, like dragging myself to work. That makes me feel unproductive, which in turn frustrates me and sends me spiralling even more. I just somehow don't... feel real. I'm hiding from the future and denying myself the present.

I kind of feel like this turtle. Lots of efforts with not very promising results.

I'm also very, very worried about my MA thesis. I need to have it written in 2 months so I have another 2 weeks to revise before handing it in, and I haven't written a word yet. I've done a lot of research (reading for that rather than reading YA novels), I have notes, I have ideas... but I'm very scared of sitting down and really starting to write it. I have no idea how and where to start. I don't know how to order things and put them together. It's a big strain on me, obviously. I feel like if I do other things, especially if I write other things, I'm taking time away that could be spent writing on the thesis... even if I don't do it. Even if I play Assassin's Creed instead. Ugh -___-

I also haven't felt like turning on the computer at all. Sometimes I left it alone for almost a week and then had to deal with over 300 emails in the inbox. Yes, something is definitely wrong with me. But I just haven't felt up to dealing with stuff... with life.

Have I missed blogging?
Yes. I miss commenting on each others' posts. I miss learning about new books and checking my favorite blogs. I feel completely out of the loop. Very often in the morning, I'd resolve to write a post that day. Only then it didn't happen. After a while I felt so guilty I couldn't bear to even look at the blog or the stats or anything. I also haven't checked on any other blogs in this entire time - as I said, my computer was mostly off. I do want to return to at least checking out posts and commenting. I also want to start blogging again myself, but I don't know how often that can realistically be because now I REALLY need to crack down on that MA thesis. Really really.
Or else I won't graduate this summer, which I would see as a personal failure which would make me ashamed and just generally feel like shit about myself because I was a lazy bitch who couldn't get off her ass when it counted.
Yeah, as you guys can see I'm sick of myself.

But last night/today I came to point where I know things have to change. I just can't go on this way, hating myself/feeling sorry for myself and doing exactly nothing to change things. I have to stop the slacking. I have to become sharp again. I have to force my brain into the right channel and just get things done. How many of these things are blog-related, I really can't say. It sounds harsh, but I just can't make it a priority at this point. I don't have that luxury anymore. But I also don't want another month-long silence here.
I hope that if I start to reach out to other people again, I will feel better and more energetic and invigorated. I hope that by being in touch with the passion of others, I can rediscover my own.

This post has become rather personal and kinda depressing somehow, perhaps too personal. But I don't know, maybe someone can relate? Somehow it even made me feel a bit better just writing it all down for once. I guess we all go through stressful periods in our lives and I just have to suck it up. But if anyone has coping mechanisms they'd like to share - be my guest, the comment form calls to you! Again, I'm really sorry for the long silence and I hope that I can still write at least some of the reviews for the ARCs I got. Just... bear with me? For better or worse, by May 15th (MA thesis deadline) it will all be over and I'll be a free woman again.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Half Bad, by Sally Green

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine to spotlight upcoming book releases that we're excited about.

This week's pick:
Release date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages

Goodreads description:
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

What attracts me to this one is mostly the idea of being trapped between two extremes with nowhere to go. What are those gifts Nathan is to receive from his father? How does this society work? Also, I haven't read many books about witches that had male protagonists.
I know this one has been around quite a bit, but what are your thoughts? And what did you pick this week? 
Also, I'm currently giving away 3 swag packs, many items signed! Check the left sidebar ;) Open internationally.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Worlds I would NEVER want to live in

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.


Hey guys :) This week's top ten is about book world's we'd NEVER want to live in, no matter how much we liked the actual story. Or about character's whose shoes we'd never want to walk in. I'll give you 5 of each.


World's I prefer watching from the outside

Fever series - Karen Marie Moning
After the walls come down and the dark fey enter the world, most humans die. No power, little food, lots of baddies... I'd be toast.

Blood of Eden - Julie Kagawa
Either donate blood to your local vampire or live on scraps and be backstabbed or killed by rabids? Again, I'm not the most physically fit person. I wouldn't make it for too long. And it's a very bleak and hungry kind of life.


Wither - Lauren DeStefano
To be kidnapped on the street and sold to some old rich dude to bear his babies, then die at 18? Can't imagine anything much more horrible. Pregnant over and over, then death *shudders*

Any totalitarian regime that restricts knowledge and burns books
Book burning is one of the worst things ever, and one that makes me the angriest. Destruction of knowledge, of beauty... no. Think Fahrenheit 451. Definitely not a society I'd want to live in.


Coldtown - Holly Black
I'm actually divided on this one. Living in a Coldtown is very dangerous. You can never get out. Law is barely existent.You need connections, and you need your wits. Vampire slaying skills are advisable. And yet... I do feel the allure of the place. The never-ending parties. Immortal creatures. Desire. Passion. I admit, I feel torn. In the end I wouldn't make it though.



Characters I wouldn't want to trade places with


Cassel from the Curse Worker series by Holly Black
If you can't even trust your brothers or you mom, life is bleak. Loving the daughter of the biggest crime lord around, also not good. Having an ability everyone wants to use to strengthen their own position? Yeah, better make sure they never find out...
Seriously, ma heart ached for Cassel :(


Karou - Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
The things that girl is forced to do... and her position is even worse at the end of that book than it was at the beginning!


Juliet - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Slandered, beaten, bullied, put away into asylums and detention centers, isolated, forced into electroshock therapy... there's pretty much nothing that girl hasn't been subjected to. And her touch kills. Everyone. Apart from maybe the son of her worst enemy, who used to hold her prisoner.
Yeah, being Juliet truly sucks, despite her incredible powers.


Kaylee - Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent
That girl never gets a moment of peace. Some hellion always wants her soul, or her loved one's souls, or is possessing innocent strangers... her love life isn't a piece of cake either. Though I sure wouldn't mind spending some time with Tod ;)

Matthew Swift - Urban Magic series by Kate Griffin
That dude. Always in over his head! Made Midnight Mayor against his will. Always some crazy sorcerer or fey queen or other strange personified part of the city to deal with. Not to mention the annoyingness and not quite trustworthiness of his own Aldermen. Let's not even talk about the women in his life. The guy doesn't stand a chance. I feel this strange affection for him though. Can't resist the scruffy reluctant hero type with awesome magic, I suppose.


This was actually harder than I thought! What do you think of my picks, and what/who made your list?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

SIGNED swag giveaway! Open Int :)

Hey guys, I know I promised this giveaway about a week ago but life go in the way... okay, Assassin's Creed got in the way, too. I bought an Xbox with my sister last week and we've never owned one (or a playstation, or a game boy, or any gaming device) before. So I've been busy climbing roofs and throwing knives at people :P

I love those leaps of faith from spires. Picture found here.
Ahem. Anyway, why this giveaway? First off, because I haven't done one independently of any hop or promo in quite a while. Secondly, thanks to you guys the blog just passed 68,000 pageviews! That might seem ridiculous to some of the bigger bloggers but it means a lot to me, so thank you! :) The amount of followers, commenters, and regular pageviews is something I had never anticipated a year ago! I hope I can keep posting things that will have you coming back! Sorry there haven't been many reviews, I'll try to post at least one next week! I'm also planning on a post with tips for new bloggers, though I feel a bit strange acting like I'm some sort of 'expert' in a position to dole out advice.

Thirdly, I recently looked over the amount of swag I accumulated in the past 2 years or so and realized that I don't really need all of this stuff. Of some signed bookmarks I got about half a dozen, so I might as well give a couple of them away ;)



The deets
  • There are 3 swagpacks, 2 of them containing signed things, 1 unsigned but with more items to make it fairer
  • One entry per person/household, but you may enter all 3 rafflecopter forms. You can only win once though.
  • Open internationally, items to be shipped by me. I'm not responsible for stuff that is lost in the mail.
  • All entries will be verified before I pick a winner. You cheat - you're DELETED.
  • Winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, after that I will pick someone else.
  • I reserve the right to make small changes to the rules/rafflecopter form and/or end the giveaway early.

Here are the pictures of what you can win, you'll find the rafflecopter forms below them at he bottom. Good luck!


Swag pack 1
- signed bookmark for Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for Black City by Elizabeth Richards
-iPhone 4/4S skin for Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (unsigned)


Swag pack 2
- signed bookmark for Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for Black City by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
-bookmark for Adaptation by Malinda Lo (unsigned)


Swag pack 3
All of this is unsigned!!
-Dark Companion by Marta Acosta bookmark
-Dark Companion by Marta Acosta iPhone 4/4s skin
-Fierce Reads bookmark
-The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton pin/button (safety pin on the back)
-Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare cover postcard


If there is any problem with the entry forms or if you have a question, let me know on twitter! @Butterfly_Ghost

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Scars, Death, Gargoyles and Witches have Notebooks

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase all the books we got in the past week. Those can be bought, won, gifted, for review, borrowed, print or ebooks... no matter, just share what you got :)


I didn't buy any physical books this week, but I forgot two in my haul last week that I'd gotten in Belgium! So here they are, along with my new ebooks.
Generally I didn't get very far with my for-fun reading this week. I delved into literature I need for my MA thesis, so I'm almost done with H.G. Wells' Island of Doctor Moreau and got some secondary literature reading done.


For review

The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos

I read some reviews of this one by a few blogger friends and when I saw it was still on Netgalley, I snagged it.

Bought in Belgium

Death: The Hight Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman / Dave McKean
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson

I'd wanted Death for a while but it's hard to find around here, so when I came across it in a comic store in Antwerp, I needed it!
The Gargoyle I got in a second hand books store in the same city. A friend recommended it to me back when it came out so I thought it was about time I gave it a try. I read the beginning on hte plane back home and I know why he wanted me to have it. The narrator isn't anything like what I've read before and the prose is both literary and unapologetically direct at the same time.

Ebooks

Maya's Notebook, by Isabel Allende
Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert

Maya's Notebook is one I'd stared at at the bookstore for a while, and I snagged it on amazon when it was on sale. I read one of Allende's books as a teen and really liked it.
Season of the Witch was a spontaneous buy, I saw that Lexxie from (Un)conventional Book Reviews had it in her haul last week, checked it out, read a sample, and was hooked! The mixture of hacking, mental powers, magic, and a gothic mansion... I couldn't resist.


This is it from me :) What did you get in the past week? Also, I'll be posting a giveaway for some signed swag later today, and it's international - so check back here ;)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Otherbound, by Corinne Duyvis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine to spotlight upcoming book releases that we're excited about.


This week's pick:
Release date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Goodreads description:
Everyone has a theory about what’s wrong with Nolan. He has hallucinations. He has seizures. He has an overactive imagination. Or is what Nolan sees whenever he closes his eyes impossibly, fantastically real?

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every single time he blinks, he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl in another world. As a mute servant who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess, Amara lives a life of magic and danger and pain; she’s completely unaware that Nolan can see through her eyes.

Until he becomes more than an observer. Until he learns to control her—and the two of them communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then furious. She’s already spent a lifetime as property and punching bag. The last thing she needs is another force controlling her.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive . . . and discover the truth about their connection.

This book seems to combine a number of elements I find interesting: the imagination/hallucinations, possibly unreliable narrators, mind-sharing, fantasy, parallel worlds, a lower-class girl who has her wits about her, a connection that could develop into a complex friendship. Yup, count me in!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Things on my reading wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

Today is about things on our reading wishlist, meaning things we'd like authors to write about (not books we wish we owned). Books that aren't written, at least as far as we know.
To be honest this is really hard. I used to have a lot of these wishes/ideas when I was younger, but I think I've grown a bit jaded over time. I haven't thought about this in a long time, I usually just think "oh wow, what a cool idea!" when I see a book that sounds awesome to me, but I rarely actively think about what I'd like to see. Let's give this a try though.


More diversity
This is a very general wish. I'd love to see more stories with characters from non-white backgrounds as main characters (rather than sidekicks). Same goes for characters with a disability or illness, LGBT characters... you get the idea. I know these books are there but they're a tiny minority compared to the bulk of literature being written and published.

Something steampunky and magical with libraries
Yup. I want gaslight and rolling ladders on the shelves and books books books. Maybe a scientist. Zeppelins. Secret passageways. Late Victorian London and its underworld. Adventure. A dash of romance. Obviously, there are already a lot of books there but I feel like I'm looking for a very specific vibe, and so far I haven't quite found it.

Something written from the POV of the villain
If there is a villain-POV book out there that you've enjoyed - please send me a link to info about it! Villains are so compelling. And I want to read from the POV of one who is unrepentantly evil. Maybe also a tad snarky.
I might just have to write the person myself.

A fantasy set in the 'old' Japan
I know there is Stormdancer but I've read such mixed reviews about the way the author represented the culture, I don't know what to think and whether I should read it. Basically I want Japanese customs, architecture, rice paper walls, secrets, samurai, ninjas, and an awesome girl character. I want part accurate historical depiction, but also fantasy elements and magic. Something a bit like Across the Nightingale Floor, but with a different focus.

Something set in a Carnival or Circus
You know, kind of like the HBO series Carnivale meets Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. I'm not sure what I'd like to happen, it's the setting that intrigues me. Maybe in the 1890s, with some spiritualism thrown in. If you know of something like that - link me up, please!

Urban Fantasy set in Zurich
I know, I know. But seriously, there are UFs set all over the US and some in the UK, but not all that much that I know of set in central Europe (I know a few set in Prague). I'd loooove to see my own city in a new, magical way!

Written from the POV of Death
I know there already are books like that out there, for instance The Book Thief, but somehow they aren't quite what I'm looking for, at least those I've read. In The Book Thief, it's more about what happens to Liesl and the Third Reich than Death as a character/entity/perspective. I'd love unique writing and rich lore. I guess I'm looking for a specific tone in the writing that I can't quite describe.

A really great vampire novel
I know, vague and there are tons and tons of vampire books out there. But I want something new. I want to be swept away as I first was by The Vampire Lestat, or by Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls. I don't want romanticized sparkly vampires or gloom-and-doom tortured souls. I want a vampire who revels in being what he or she is. Something decadent. Something kind of like Holly Black's Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

A Modern Retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray
Has this been done? If so, link please! I love Wilde's story and I'd be very curious about a modern take on it. And very open to how it's done.


This is only 8 things but I think I'll leave it at that. What do you think of my ideas? Any books that could match what I'm looking for? And what's on your wishlist?