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

Top Ten Tuesday: places books have made me want to visit (fictional or real)

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.

Sorry for the lack of posts last week! I was sick and just didn't feel up to it. But I'm back this week! I want to post at least one review and I have a giveaway scheduled for later tonight :)

On to the TTT. This week's topic is places books have made me want to visit, whether they're real or not. What an awesome topic!!

Prague: Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor / Book of Blood and Shadows - Robin Wasserman
I read DoS&B before I went to Prague and it definitely influenced the way I looked at the city! It's such a beautiful, mysterious place. All the alchemy, the magic, but also the blood and violence. It was also cool to visit the place where Kafka used to live and write.

New York City: The Mortal Instruments - Cassandra Clare
I'd never really longed to go to NYC that much before I read those books. But then, I wanted to walk around Brooklyn and ride on the subway and maybe get a glimpse of that world behind the world. That didn't end up happening when I finally went, but it was great anyway :)

Venice: Venom - Fiona Paul / City of Masks - Mary Hoffmann
Renaissance Venice or Florence would be so great to visit! I've been to Florence and it was beautiful but haven't made it to Venice yet. And either way, it's different now. To be at a masquerade or drive in a gondola through the city after midnight with my beau - that would've been something! (What? I can romanticize stuff too, every once in a while)

The Hollows / Cincinnati: world of Kim Harrsion's Hollows series
This was my gateway to Urban Fantasy and still one of my favorite worlds ever. I'd love to take a trip across the river to the Hollows and have pizza at Piscary's. Maybe get a glimpse of Rachel, Ivy, Kisten, and Jenks.

Alternative world of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Seriously, a world where everyone goes nuts about books? Dodos as pets? To be able to read yourself into a book? Yes, please.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
I'd love to go there for a night. Where a read scarf. Walk the tents. See the wonders.

New Orleans: The Vampire Chronicles - Anne Rice / Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton / Drawing Blood - Poppy Z. Brite
Okay, my conception of New Orleans has been heavily influenced by vampire and horror novels. But I'm telling you, when I actually sat in Café du Monde last June, knowing that some of my favorite characters had had their coffee there, it felt great. This city is a blend of so many different influences and I loved it. I also think Kelly Keaton's re-invention of it as New 2 in her series is amazing.

Seattle: Richelle Mead's Succubus series
I didn't make it to Seattle during my trip across the US last summer but I definitely want to go there in the future. I loved the way Mead described the city and its bookstores and coffee shops in the series. Also, grunge music. Can't forget that.

Japan: all the manga I've ever read, plus books by Federica de Cesco, and Lian Hearn's Across the Nightingale Floor series
I've been wanting to go to Japan since I was about 11. Haven't made it yet, but hopefully in the next 1-2 years. I want to see Tokyo and Kyoto but I'd also like to travel cross-country and see more rural areas.

Duh. I actually didn't come up with this one, my sister did. But obviously I want to go there. When I was 9 or 10 and first reading the books, knowing that I never would was akin to a physical pain.

I'm sure I could have come up with many more places, but sometimes it's hard to tell what was first: the book, or the wish to go there. For example with Paris and London, the way I see those cities is completely tangled up with books I read that are set there, both before and after I went.
Do we have any places in common? And link me to your own post! I want to find more places to go to :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Evanescent Innocence Severed by Ravens in Silence

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 :)

My post is a bit late this week because I had ordered some books and went to the store this morning to get them, and I wanted to include them in this week's haul. Here they are:

Sever, by Lauren DeStefano
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
Where Silence Gathers, by Kelsey Sutton

I'd meant to read Sever for a long time. I loved Wither but felt conflicted about Fever, but I still need to see how this series ends. The Raven Boys is a book I should have read forever ago. As for Where Silence Gathers, I'd gotten an eARC of the first book last year, loved it, but somehow never got around to reviewing :/ I still feel bad about that. I felt too guilty to request the second book so I bought it instead because I need to see how the story goes. I just started reading it and I really love it so far.

I also got a few ebooks, many of them cheap or for free on Amazon

House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton
The Age of Innoence, by Edith Wharton

I read The Luxe by Anna Godbersen last weekend and it made me want to read more about 1890s New York. I'd always meant to read Wharton during my studies but never managed, so I thought when if not now?

Ephemeral, by Addison Moore
Evanescent, by Addison Moore

I got these two spontaneously because they were free and I remembered reading some good reviews a while back.

So, that's it from me for this week. There's an eARC where I'm still waiting for approval or denial so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. What do you think of my haul? Have you read any of them? And please link me up to your own post :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Owl and the Japanese Circus, by Kristi Charish

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 13, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Format: Paperback, 432 pages

Goodreads description
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

This one was on my list before it even had a cover. Thieves, supernatural elements, circus, vampires, dragons, mercenaries... no way I can pass this up. What do you think of it? And what are you pining for this Wednesday?