Saturday, October 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Cranes and Painted Faces at the Japanese Circus

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 :)

This week was all ebooks for me... I'm still waiting for at least one hardcover that I ordered to arrive. My weeks was generally rather uneventful, but the weather was mostly nice, with a clear autumn sky. It's gotten cold though and I'm glad the heating's finally been turned on in our building. I also had a pretty fruitful writing session yesterday - my hope is to get my current WIP up to 15k words before the start of NaNoWriMo and it's looking good. Anyhow, here's what I got:

For review

Owl and the Japanese Circus, by Kristi Charish

Thanks so much Kristi for setting me up with it! In short, this book is about an archeology student turned antiques thief who has a vampire problem and makes a business deal with a dragon in Vegas to get rid of it. Obviously, this sounds awesome to me and I'm very excited to read it!

Bought as ebooks

Painted Faces, by L.H. Cosway - currently free on Amazon
Crane, by Stacey Rourke
Get Bent, by C.M. Stunich
Rae of Hope, by W.J. May

Painted Faces is set in Dublin and it's about a young woman who begins to fall for her neighbor, who is a cabaret performer - in drag. She's intrigued. So am I.
Crane is a re-writing of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, featuring a female descendant of Ichabod Crane, the Horseman, and Rip Van Winkle.
Get Bent is the second book in the Hard Rock Roots series. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with book 1, but after the way it ended I knew that I'd get to the second one eventually.
Rae of Hope sounds like a typical YA paranormal. Girl with dark family history comes to boarding school, must receive powers on 16th birthday. But it's been recommended to me and I'm still a sucker for those boarding school stories. Also, it was free on Amazon when I got it.

That's it for this week :) Have you read any of these? And what's new on your shelves this week?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: A Cold Legacy, by Megan Shepherd

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: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Goodreads description
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.

I was really reluctant to start this series for some reason, but when I did it blew me away. I love how Shepherd combines The Island of Doctor Moreau, Jekyll & Hyde as well as other classics in a tale that is set in the 1890s but still so, so relevant in today's world! I can't wait to see what she does with Frankenstein and read more about Juliet, Edward, and Montgomery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: newish series I want to start

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.

This week is all about great series that started within the past 2 or so years that we haven't started yet but would love to curl up with

My top ten are in no particular order.

Kendare Blake - Antigoddess
I loved her Anna Dressed in Blood duology and I've always had a thing for Greek mythology and the deaths of gods. I'm sure Kendare gave this one her very own spin. And aren't the new covers pretty?

Josin L. McQuein - Arclight
I actually have the first one on my Kindle but haven't gotten to it yet. I wanted to take a pass on that series at first, but so many bloggers whose taste I trust loved it, so I'm going to give it a try.

Victoria Aveyard - Red Queen
I've got an ARC of that one from Edelweiss and I'm very curious about it! I'll read it closer to release. It's a bout a world where the color of your blood (and its powers) determines your social standing. Its planned to be a trilogy.

Romily Bernard - Find Me
Can't resist the smart hacker kids from the wrong side of the tracks. I just got the prequel and will hopefully get to the series soon.

Marie Rutkoski - The Winner's Curse
I want this one so badly, and now the next one is already almost out. It sounds so unique! I loved Rutkoski's writing style in The Shadow Society and I hope that will be true for this series as well.

Shannon Messenger - Let the Sky Fall
I've wanted this one for so long and thought I'd buy for sure once the paperback is out but it never happened. It sounds like something different. I haven't read about storms and air elementals much.

Amie Kaufmann & Megan Spooner - These Broken Stars
Spaceships. Abandoned planets. Survival. A romance where the characters can't stand each other at the beginning because their lives up to then have been so different. Also, the reviews have been amazing. Definitely buying this one once the paperback is out.

Kasie West - Pivot Point
Parallel worlds. A girl who can see the different outcomes of futures depending on her decisions... and pick the one she wants. Do you know how often I've wished I could do that?

Alex London - Proxy
This one is about a dystopian society and picks up on the figure of the 'whipping boy'. When the wealthy guy screws up, the less-wealthy proxy is beaten. But then stuff happens and the two sides of the spectrum have to work together...
P.S.: Me is not happy about the cover change...

Amy McCulloch - The Oathbreaker's Shadow
This one is about a world where you tie a knot for every promise you make. If you break an oath, it bursts into flames and scars you as an oathbreaker for life. You're shunned and have to live out in the desert.The protagonist has always had one knot tied around his wrist, but no one knows what promise it represents. So when he unwittingly breaks it, it's run or die.
Doesn't this just sound like such an awesome concept?! I need this one in my life!

It was actually kinda hard to come up with a ton ten for this topic. So many series I want to start reading are older than from the last two years, and there are a lot where I've already read the first book and just never got around to continuing it. Have you read any of the series I've featured? Do they sound up your alley? Also, please link me up to your own post :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Get-To-Know-Me Sunday: 20 things you might not know about me

Hey guys, it's been a very long time since I've done one of these! But I've seen this list of questions on a couple other blogs, among others that of the wonderful Micheline at Lunar Rainbows, and I've decided to fill it out myself. I'm not officially tagging anyone, but if you've done/want to do these questions you're welcome to link me up :)

Question 1: How tall are you?
164 or 165 centimeters. I don't always measure at the same height *shrug* I guess I tend to stoop? Anyway, I think that's either 5'4'' or 5'5''.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I don't have any talent that I'd call or keep hidden...

Question 3: What's your biggest blog related pet-peeve?
Reviews that are basically a one-paragraph summary + 2 short, non-specific sentences about how they liked it. Not very helpful. Also, crammed sidebars, glittery stuff that blinks at me, lots of different fonts with different colors.

Question 4: What's your biggest non-blog related pet-peeve?
Slow-walking people who take up the whole sidewalk so I can't push past. People who don't clean up after themselves in the kitchen. And never call me 'babe' or 'baby'. You won't like the consequences.

Question 5: What's your favorite song?
They tend to change and I love a lot of songs! But here are the videos of a few that I find myself listening to a lot lately:

And if Bring Me The Horizon is a bit too metalcore for you, I can give you this beautiful acoustic Death Cab For Cutie song:

Ever since watching the movie Only Lovers Left Alive last December, I've also been obsessed with Red Eyes & Tears by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club:

... and to round it off, the new Motionless In White album just came out and I'm listening to it a lot while writing, so here's their newest single. Again, this might not be for everyone...

Question 6: What's your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?
I haven't been on Etsy much lately... when I go, it's usually to shop either for cool steampunk stuff people make or for fandom-related things that I can't get anywhere else here. There's no particular shop I buy from.

Question 7: What's your favorite way to spend your free time when you're alone?
I obviously read a lot, but lately I've also started watching more movies and TV series again (I'm looking at you, American Horror Story!). My sister and I (we're roomies) also got an Xbox early in the year and I've been kinda obsessed with the Assassin's Creed series.

Question 8: What's your favorite junk food?
I hate junk food. On some days, the smell alone is enough to make me nauseous.
That being said, I don't consider ice cream and chocolate junk food. Because here it's made of real food instead of weird processed chemistry crap.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
I don't have pets in my apartment in Zurich because I'd feel bad about leaving them alone all day and I also can't afford the food right now. But I really miss our family cat back in the countryside at my parent's house! He's such a cutie. I also grew up around my mum's two iceland ponies and was horse-riding pretty much from birth until quit at 14.

I love this little guy :)
Question 10: What are your favorite fiction and nonfiction books?
Ugh oh god I hate this question >.< How am I supposed to pick only one?! That being said, I love all of Holly Black's books, everything I've read by Neil Gaiman, and I devoured Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy earlier this year.

As for non-fiction, I don't read much of it. I read a lot of articles etc. for my studies, but nothing I'd consider a favorite. But there's a book by a Swiss author about the time she moved to San Francisco with her family for a few years before coming back that I really enjoyed. It's called Flowers in Your Hair, by Milena Moser.

Question 11: What's your favorite beauty product?
Compact powder and eyeliner.

Question 12:  When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
I don't get embarrassed that often anymore. Usually it's just small things that I can laugh off. It was bad when I was a teen though.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coke Zero.

Question 14: What's your favorite movie?
Gah >.< Same as the books. I love a lot of horror-ish, dark movies like The Crow or Donnie Darko, but I also love Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, various book adaptations, and I have this obsession with 80s teen movies like Heathers, Breakfast Club, or Ferries Bueller's Day Off.

Question 15: What were you in highschool: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
The high school equivalent in Switzerland is quiet different and doesn't form the same types of cliques. For instance there are no school sports teams, which gets rid of the jocks and cheerleaders. That being said, I guess I'd have been the nerdy emocore girl. You know, all black, band shirts, backpack full of buttons and patches of various band logos.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Tough one. I love London and during my time in the US I also fell for San Francisco. I think it's a wonderful city to be a reader or writer in. But I also really like it here in Zurich, even though I know that at some point I'll have to emigrate if I want to work in the field I studied.

Question 17: PC or Mac?
PC all the way. The only apple product I own is my iPod. I don't even have an iTunes account.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
My love life is pretty much nonexistent. Basically I just never fall for anybody *shrug*. I haven't had so much as a crush in 4 years.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Erm. Jennifer Lawrence is awesome, obviously. I also really like Tom Hiddleston. He seems like such a genuine, intelligent, and dignified person. And he still also does silly stuff and doesn't take himself too seriously.
I have endless respect for Davey Havok, the singer of AFI. His lyrics have done so much for me in the past almost 10 years and inspired me to be a better writer.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly wish you were best friends with?
Micheline from Lunar Rainbows! I really really hope we can meet some time in the future, maybe at BEA!

That's it :) Comments on anything or questions are welcome! Do we have anything in common? (Taste in music, maybe? It's so hard to find anyone I share book AND music taste with!). Also as I said above, feel free to do the survey yourself or link me up to your post if you've already done it :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: devils and stormdancers are wicked within and lie with every breath

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 do an StS last week because there wasn't much new to show off, so this is my haul of the past 2 weeks.

For review from NetGalley
 Every Breath, by Ellie Marney

I finished this one this morning and it's one of my favorite contemporaries of the year! I loved it so much, I had to order myself a pretty hardcover immediately. Review to come next week.

Bought in print
Heaven's Net is Wide, by Lian Hearn
Last Blood, by Kristen Painter
The Wicked Within, by Kelly Keaton

I read Lian Hearn's other books in this series as a teen, but this one was (I think) never published in German and thus never made it on my shelf. It's a prequel to the rest of the series and I'm looking forward to immersing myself in that world again!
The Wicked Within is another one I'm really looking forward to, especially because it almost didn't happen (the publisher had only bought the first two books and for a while it looked like we'd never get to see the story end).

Bought as ebooks

Die For Me, by Amy Plum
Lie For Me: Griff's Story, by Romily Bernard
Stormdancer, by jay Kristoff
Broken Symmetry, by Dan Rix
The Devil's Reprise, by Karina Halle
Red at Night, by Katie McGarry
Yeah, I went a bit crazy with the one-click option. But I've wanted to read Die For Me and Stormdancer for years, and both were finally on sale even from my location, so I had to have them. Broken Symmetry entranced me with that cover as well as the description: it's a sci-fi thriller about a girl who can step through mirrors into a parallel world, and it was free when I got it. I'm also really looking forward to the Katie McGarry novella! I haven't read anything by her in about a year.

As for what else is going on this week: I posted my review of The Fall by Bethany Griffin yesterday, and my giveaway for the Spooktacular Hop is still running, in case you haven't entered yet :)

What do you think of my haul? Have you read any of them? And what did you get in the past week? Link me up! :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: The Fall, by Bethany Griffin

Release date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Goodreads description
Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher

The following review is based on an eARC provided to me by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

I loved Bethany Griffin’s Poe-inspired duology Masque of the Red Death and Dance of the Red Death, so I was very excited to read The Fall, a standalone re-imagining of The Fall of the House of Usher. I ended up loving this book, but it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the structure.

The story is narrated by Madeline Usher between ages 9 to 18 and alternates between chapters during these nine years inbetween. As a reader, you see how different she is between these two points in her life and slowly begin to fill in the gaps as the story moves along and you piece together what happened. At times, these jumps between the two points in the narrative threw me because I left fifteen-year-old Madeline at a cliffhanger to then spend two chapters with nine-year-old Madeline, but on the whole it was a genius move on Griffin’s part and made it hard to put the book down.

Madeline is cursed, as is her mother and indeed most of her family line hundreds of years back. Her family never leaves the land the house is built on and they drift through it like ghosts, all lost in their own world. From early on, Madeline has felt the house like a presence. She knew what the house wanted or didn’t want. She explored it. She wanted to please it. But she was also afraid of and imprisoned by it.

The presence of the House in this book is total and eerie. It permeates and haunts everything, everyone, every relationship between the characters. And it drives a wedge between Madeline and Roderick, her twin brother. He can’t hear the house. He, unlike Madeline, is afraid of everything. And he’s the one who gets to leave and go to school in the outside world, while Madeline has never even been to the nearest town.

After the death of their parents, Madeline is all alone in the house with the doctors the family had hired years ago to tend to their many ailments and maybe find a cure to the curse. Nobody takes care of her. Roderick’s visits are few and far-between. Madeline has no one. So when a young doctor comes to the house as an apprentice and shows her attention even though his motives are questionable, what will she do?

I was horrified by the way Madeline had to live. Isolated, mostly uneducated (letters begin to move around the page before her eyes), left to her own devices. Especially after her parents’ deaths, I found her situation precarious and vulnerable. But as the tale develops, she begins to show incredible strength and initiative. She refuses to back down and succumb to the curse that has haunted the rest of her family.

There were many situations in this book that made me very uncomfortable, often not with what was said and shown but with gaps and silences, with space between scenes. The unspoken is at least as if not more important than what is actually on the page, something I already admired in Griffin’s earlier novels. The Fall was all about voices, about hauntings, about layer upon layer of secrets. Its unusual pacing develops a momentum that kept me completely wrapped up in the dark hallways of the Usher mansion.

While knowing the original Usher short story by Poe enhanced my reading experience of The Fall, it is no problem to read Bethany Griffin’s novel without any previous knowledge of the original story. Personally though, I loved how she picked up on and twisted several elements both from the content of the story as well as its narration. The tarn, the coffin, the fissure running through the house, Roderick’s friend, the overload of sensation experience by the cursed – it was all there, but had been given a new meaning. The Madeline in the short story is a mute figure, while Griffin’s Madeline finds her voice, her strength, her will to escape and live no matter what.

The Fall is an eerie read perfect for the season. Its atmosphere of doubt and dread builds up and shifts slowly until I, too, felt caught in the endless corridors of the house. As is typical of the Gothic tradition, the reader can never be sure whether what is happening is natural or supernatural, illness or curse, real or just the fantasies of an unreliable narrator. Even though I knew the Poe story, I could never tell which way the plot would turn.

With a complex cast of characters and a narrative that spans almost a decade, The Fall is a story of madness, hope, and twisted desires that will continue to haunt readers even long after they have reached the last page and closed the book.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! (INT)

Heys guys, it's October which means the leaves are turning red and gold and you wake up for your jobs and school in pre-dawn darkness (at least where I live). It also means Halloween is near! Unfortunately, we don't celebrate it here but that doesn't stop me from getting into the spirit and feeling like reading and watching creepy stuff (I'm looking at you, American Horror Story)
This is my third year participating in this hop and I hope it'll be fun this time around, too! The rules are simple and explained under 'Terms & Conditions' in the Rafflecopter. In short: the giveaway is open internationally wherever Book Depository ships, cheaters will be disqualified and all their entries deleted.
Since this is a themed hop, I've got some suggestions for you below (click to cover to get to goodreads). You can always choose another book in the same series (no preorders). If none of these appeal to you, you can pick one between 10-15$ (as seen from my location) as long as it's somehow creepy and/or Halloween related.

Note: the cover shown here may differ from the one of the edition I will eventually order for you if you win.

Okay, now fill out the Rafflecopter and have fun hopping around the other blogs! Go out and enjoy the spooky season, or curl up with a creepy book and a cup of whatever makes you happy :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway