Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo round-up... in which I confess my epic fail

In one and a half hours, NaNoWriMo finished in my time-zone. My wordcount? 16,563. Pathetic, I know. I knew this year would be way, way harder than last year. I'm taking about 3 times as many credit points' worth of university courses, and as always I work two jobs. Plus I'm teaching a Textual Analysis (Literature 101) tutorial, which I didn't do last year. Let's not even talk about the hours of work that go into blogging and reading. All of that leaves much less time to write.

However... if I'm perfectly honest with myself I know that I could have written more if I had simply made time. If I had felt the call of the story, if I had poured my heart and soul into the work. If I had caught fire as I did last year, when I finished at a proud 66k. I expected that. I was looking forward to the rush, the feeling of being part of something bigger, those little moments when story and characters reveal themselves to you and you feel the magic. Only very little of that happened. Part of that was second-book anxiety. The first book is still so unstable and draft-y. How do you build on somehting that might change shape significantly as you go back and revise/edit? I was scared. I already had so much material. But where did I go from there? Finding my way back into those characters after a year was surprisingly hard. I started questioning everything.

Nevertheless, there were times whenI felt I was getting at something, parts where I felt the writing and it flowed. But they were rare. I felt tired and worn-out and most of the time just not like writing at all. I didn't remember the drafting to be so HARD. Because of my newly discovered dislike for rewriting, I must have idealized the drafting part and forgot just how difficult it can be.

Also, I was a lot less social than last year. I didn't go to meet-ups, I didn't post on the forum, I didn't do twitter word sprints. Again, no time. No motivation. Boo. Then, about a week ago, I wanted to at least make it to 25 or 30k... but I had to discard that idea when my family got a piece of very sad (though not entirely unexpected) news.

At the moment, my brain is just not in a creative state. I feel blocked, scared of writing anything. Scared of writing reviews. Scared of writing the two papers I have to hand in in two weeks. I really need to pull myself together but at the moment I'm just paralyzed and have no confidence in my analytical and writing skills. I just want the semester to be over.

I just realized that this is an extremely whiney post. Sorry 'bout that. Anyhow, I'm not ready to throw the towel just yet. NaNo may have been a fail, but November is just one month out of twelve. I have a head-start on my second novel, and once I have to first one in a more secure state I will definitely get back to it. I also got ideas for some short stories this month so that's good.

For those others of you who did NaNoWriMo, I hope your experience was a more positive one! I hope you caught fire. I hope you felt like you were doing what you were made for. I hope characters and worlds unfolded under your fingertips as you typed or scribbled. Whether you finished your novel around 50k or have a longer project that you're pulling on into December, I hope you enjoy it! And even if you didn't finish, I hope you had fun with however many words you managed to write! I wish you the best of luck and tons of courage to carry on with your work and see your story through to the end :)

Did any of you participate on NaNo? How did it go for you? If you made a round-up post, feel free to leave your link in the comments too :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Non-YA review: City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte

Release date: November 27th, 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback, 464 pages

Goodreads description:
Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

My review is based on an ARC I got from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

This is NOT a YA read! (Though I know a book being labeled 'adult' never stopped me in my later teens... I just needed to point that out.)

Review (no spoilers):
Where do I start? This book was a fun, crazy mixture of history, magic, alchemy, science, passion, and mystery. I didn’t really know what I was in for when I started reading it, but I soon found myself sucked into the story, drawn into the web of secrets hidden in the Lobkowicz palace in Prague. My review cannot possibly touch on all the important points but I hope it can provide some more info about what to expect. Honestly, I don’t quite know how to review this book because it wasn’t exactly… normal. And I mean this in a good way!

The novel is written in third person, mostly from Sarah Weston’s point of view. Sarah is a talented musicology student but she’s not your typical academic. She’s quite down-to-earth, partly because she’s not exactly from a wealthy background. She knows what she wants and who she wants and she goes after that without being ashamed. Right along with her mentor, she’s obsessed by Beethoven, so of course she jumps at the chance to spend the summer in Prague to help prepare an exhibition of Beethoven manuscripts in a soon-to-open museum. When she gets the news that her mentor, on whose behalf she was called there, has jumped from a window, she is determined to figure out what really happened because she doesn’t really believe in his suicide.

As soon as Sarah enters Prague (actually even before), the city is set up as a place of mystery, of blood and secrets. And Prague truly does have violent past – religious controversies, the Thirty Years War, the Nazis, the Communists… take your pick. Also, the city might be threshold to another world. All in all, there are layers upon layers of culture and history. Since I love both of those things and have always been fascinated by alchemy, I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel.

Another thing I really liked was the characters. I think there wasn’t a single person I’d consider ‘normal’ in the whole novel – that doesn’t mean I didn’t empathize and identify with them, though! The other academics at the palace were a crazy bunch and made me laugh out loud all the time. I was also constantly evaluating all they said and did to figure out who is on which side. Because are there ever so many sides… everyone at this palace is looking for something, and they are ready to take a lot of risks to get it.

So who is Sarah up against? Well, one of the most powerful senators of the US, for one. Charlotte Yates was a villain I loved to hate. Manipulative. Hypocritical. Ruthless when it comes to keeping her secrets. And yet also sentimental. You might say she was a bit overdone, but so were all the characters in a way. One of the great things about this book is that it never takes itself too seriously. I mean it doesn’t treat its subject in an off-handed way, but there’s a humorous kind of self-aware, postmodern-ish irony that permeates pretty much everything and that makes certain parts stand out even more by its sudden absence.

Another character I really liked was Prince Max, who didn’t really want to be a prince (he’d rather have stayed in California as the drummer of a rock band) but had to step in after his father’s death. I liked him and Sarah as a team and couple, even though I was aware he wasn’t to be fully trusted, and so was Sarah. I liked how they went with each other’s cup of crazy. Their encounters were often hilarious, as well as passionate. (Yes, there is sex. They’re also arrested because of it at one point. It’s not all too graphic though.)
Speaking of characters, it’s impossible to overlook Nicolas Pertusato, ‘the dwarf’. He’s a very slippery and elusive character. He shows up everywhere and apparently knows everything. I was very mistrustful of him at the beginning but I grew to like him over the course of the book.
Polly, a blind child-prodigy Sarah is in a strange student-teacher relationship with (who takes what role is not quite clear) was another one of my faves. She may not be able to see, but her other senses were superior instead and she was even something of a prophetess in addition to being a pre-teen composer and pianist/violinist. Generally I guess you could also call this a novel about the senses and perception, and about people gifted with an extraordinary amount of that in certain areas.

It’s impossible to discuss City of Dark Magic without speaking of music, and of LVB – Ludwig van Beethoven. He's a red thread connecting everything in the novel, and a perfect example of how the authors (yes, Magnus Flyte is the pseudonym for a collaboration) mix the High with the Low, often for comedic effects but also for realism. We see his letters, and through Sarah we glimpse his passion for music, his persistence to compose despite bad hearing and bad health. Through him, we are also introduced to the strange drug mentioned in the book description. I don’t want to go too much into what exactly it does but I was really fascinated by the parts in the book where it appeared! It’s the link between the music part and the alchemy/science/mystery part of the novel, and I don’t know if the word ‘drug’ is really appropriate. It sounds as if it was about a cheap high, but it’s really not. It’s about altering perception.

If my review seems a bit rambly and all over the place that is in part because the book is very long (over 400 pages) and because it shifts directions quite a lot. The plot expands, unrelated things end up being related and vice versa. Roles shift. What seemed stable actually isn’t. Details become important. The distance between real and imaginary, past and present, is blurred. Suspicions turn out to be misleading. I wasn’t surprised by all the twists in the plot, but most things I didn’t see coming or had pieced together wrongly. I read this spaced out over a week or so (I was reading something else parallelly and I was busy) so I’m not sure I can talk about pace, but I was never bored and usually found it hard to put my phone (I only have a kindle app) aside.

My final verdict? I loved it (it’s among my faves of the year), but I can see that it might not be for everyone. You may dislike the humor/irony, or the big mixture of things all thrown together like this. That isn’t to say the novel is a mess – there was an overall plot arch, in my opinion, and things were resolved in the end. If you dislike history, this might not be for you, even though the novel treats it in a very irreverent kind of way. But if you’re up for something unique and magical without paranormal bits and are ready just go with it, you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Have you read City of Dark Magic or is it on your TBR? Is my review even... comprehensible? I really had trouble getting my thoughts about it into words. Does it sound like something you guys might enjoy?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Some Quiet Place, by Kelsey Sutton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming books we're excited about.

This week's pick:

Exptected release: July 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux
Format: Paperback, 360 pages

Elizabeth Caldwell has perfected the art of pretending to feel emotion, but it’s always a lie. After a near-fatal car accident when she was a small child, Elizabeth lost the ability to feel any emotion, but along with that loss she gained bizarre abilities: she can see the personified Emotions she cannot feel. Fury, Resentment, Longing—they’ve all given up on her, because she doesn't succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one. Fear. He’s consumed by the mystery of Elizabeth’s past, consumed by her.

And then there are Elizabeth's cryptic, recurring dreams, in which there’s always love, and there’s always death. Haunted by these dreams, Elizabeth paints them, knowing that they somehow hold the key to the mystery of her past.

But a shadowy menace is stalking Elizabeth. Her survival depends on uncovering the truth about herself. And when it matters most, she won’t be able to rely on Fear to save her.

This just sounds so amazing! A girl pretending to feel emotion, and personified emotions around her. I want to know more about Fear, and Elizabeth's dreams. Love and Death and Fear all tangled up - I think this will be my kind of book! And I love the autumn-feel of the cover.
Have you heard of my pick before? What do you think of it? Also leave me a link to your own WoW :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2013 Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, they post a new topic that the participants make a top ten list for.

Posting this somewhat belatedly... I have a lot of real life things going on that are very sad and rob me of a lot of my energy. Sorry if I'm not as active as usual.

This week's topic: Top Ten most anticipated books of 2013

No particular order

Have some cover-pretty!

  1. Phoenix, by Elizabeth Richards
    I just finished Black City last Friday and I'm in love with the world and characters Elizabeth Richards created! I need to know how Ash and Natalie's story continues!
  2. With All My Soul, by Rachel Vincent
    Over the course of this year I have completely and irrevocably fallen in love with the Soul Screamer series. I'm so invested in these characters it's not even funny. I just need to know who makes it and what happens and how everything is resolved, even though sometimes I'll be doing the reader equivalent of watching a movie through my fingers as I cover my eyes because I can't quite bear to look but can't look away.
  3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
    I recently re-read the short story of the same name, published in a short story collection called The Poison Eaters. A really unique take on vampires, can't wait for the full-fledged novel!
  4. Dance of the Red Death, by Bethany Griffin
    I want to go back to the world of this story, no matter how much hurt and heartbreak I might be in for.
  5. The Indigo Spell, by Richelle Mead
    I seem to list a lot of series-finals in this post... oh well. I just need more Sidney & Adrian.
  6. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke
    I've never read anything by her but the book just sounds amazing!
  7. Sweet Peril, by Wendy Higgins
     I've been pining for this since the moment I finished Sweet Evil.
  8. Splintered, by A.G. Howard
    I love Alice in Wonderland retellings and many bloggers I trust have given it amazing reviews, so I'm super curious about it! From the description it sounds awesome.
  9. There's not been a title announcement yet, but I really want the sequel to Melissa Marr's Carnival of Souls! Not sure it'll come out 2013 'already' though...
  10. Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
    I love The Infernal Devices, probably more so than The Mortal Instruments. I just want to know what happened already, and how the two series relate! I just hope the best for Will.

Much has been left out of this list. I'm also pining for Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly, Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan, the last Nevermore installment by Kelly Creagh, a new Urban Magic book by Kate Griffin. As well as lots of others I've marked as to read that aren't out yet. But I think my top ten does cover the most important ones... probably. ^^'

What's on your top ten? Are some of my books on your list as well?

Cover reveal: The Midnight Spell, by Rhiannon Frater & Kody Boye

I'm happy to be part of the cover reveal, hosted by Giselle Cormier from Xpresso Book Tours, for The Midnight Spell, a YA Paranormal by Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye. I love the description and can't wait to read this book when it comes out in February 2013!

Look at this wondeful cover designed by Phatpuppy Art:

I love it! It looks so mysterious with the lighted caldron and the foggy windows and the cat staring directly at you! The color scheme is beautiful and so are the characters. The cover promises a truly magical read.

What is the book about, you might wonder? Well, check out the description from Goodreads and don't forget to add the book to your shelves!

The Midnight Spell - Publication date: February, 2013
Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas. The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.

When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.

Find out more about the authors:

Rhiannon Frater:
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to

Kody Boye:
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the dark fantasy novel Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

Website    Goodreads     Facebook     Twitter

What do you guys think of the cover and description? Will The Midnight Spell go on your TBR? Let me know in the comments :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves: Dystopian & Steampunk Edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted at Tynga's Reviews that allows us to showcase all the bookish goodies we got in the past week. These can be print books, ebooks, bought books, borrowed ones, review books, swag... you got it, you share it.

Books I had ordered that finally arrived:

Black City, by Elizabeth Richards
Divergent, by Veronica Roth
The Infernal Devices Manga: Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare (illustrator: HyeKyung Baeck)
Parasol Protectorate Box (books 1-5), by Gail Carriger

If you've been following this blog for any amount of time you know how much I've been CRAVING Black City!! I got it yesterday and I'm already more than halfway through. You can see the sticky notes. I got Divergent today on a whim. I was feeling sad (I'll explain later) and buying books in a physical store makes me happy. I've wanted the Infernal Devices manga ever since it was first announced - I love the series and I love manga, so... perfect combination. I've also been meaning to read Gail Carriger's books for forever so when I saw a boxset (at a great price) would be out, I preordered it. I need more steampunk in my life.

From Netgalley:

Dance of Shadows, by Yelena Black
Elemental: The First, by Alexandra May


The Secret of Ella & Micha, by Jessica Sorensen

For a blog tour:

The Breakaway, by Michelle Davidson Argyle

What did you get this week?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Scorch (Croak #2), by Gina Damico

Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Paperback, 332 pages

From the back of the book:
Croak used to be the only place where Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, felt like she fit in. But after she let the murderous Zara get away - and inadvertently transferred her ability to Damn souls to her on top of that - Lex is a pariah in the little town full of Grims. Her Junior Grim friends have stood by her, but that has only made them outcasts. Meanwhile, Zara is still out there Damning innocents, and no one is safe. It's up to Lex's Uncle Mort, mayor of Croak, to protect the townspeople. But when tragedy strikes, the Grims rise up against him,too.

To escape their wrath, Mort takes Lex and the other Juniors on a wild road trip to DeMyse, a glitzy Grim city, where they can hide out until the chaos in Croak subsides. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, Lex wants nothing more than to return to her simple little town and the good graces of its citizens. Her best chance at that would be to stop Zara once and for all - but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara's killing spree? Lex needs to track down the secret book that would make Zara even more dangerous. But she has no idea of the chilling lengths her nemesis will go to in order to find it first.

The following review is based on a copy I purchased with my own hard-earned money.

Review (no spoilers):
I read this quite a long time ago but I want to review it anyway. I absolutely loved Croak and I didn’t get around to reviewing that one so I want to do better this time. I might have left out something awesome due to muddled memory though…

Scorch picks up pretty much right where Croak left off. Lex is a mess after her sister’s death at the hands of Zara, a reaper who has stolen her ability to Damn as well as one of the ‘loopholes’ that allows her to Crash (e.g. scythe to anyplace she wants and basically kill at will and off schedule). Once Lex gets back to Croak with her uncle Mort, many of the locals aren’t exactly happy to see her, blaming her for everything that’s happened and afraid of her abilities. They suspect her of basically going wherever and Damning whoever she wants – and there is plenty of Damning being done by Zara, who seems to be completely out of it. The town turns against pretty much all of the juniors, taking away their freedoms and rights and eventually forcing uncle Mort to abdicate as mayor after a terrorist bomb attack. Everything in me bristled at how they were treated and at the way certain members of the community manipulated everyone else!

Through all of those grim things there was still Gina Damico’s incredible sense of humor to lighten up the gloom and doom. When Lex finally dares to visit her twin sister in the Afterlife, Cordy is not mad at her as she had feared! Instead, she’s travelling and enjoying herself and even managed to snatch a pharaoh as a sort-of-boyfriend. Also, Lex and Driggs continue their relationship, finding ever-new places to make-out without Mort noticing. I really love the snark and dynamics between those two, they always manage to crack me up!

Mort is just plain awesome, definitely one of my favorite character (I hope we get to know more about his past! A novella-flashback thing of Mort as a teen would be cool!). He makes decisions quickly and doesn’t beat around the bush or sugarcoat his words, and he’s ready to flaunt the rules if his moral compass points him that way. When things go south, he grabs the juniors and whirls everyone away to DeMyse (gotta love those Grim town names!) which is basically a grim reaper Las Vegas – glitzy, shrill, way-out-there. It was interesting to see the different effect the city had on the juniors and how they eventually got their act back together.

The last part of the book was incredibly fast-paced as twist after twist was added, secrets exposed, things explained… and injustice after injustice was done to my favorite characters. I really hurt for them, but I also have hope. And that one final plot twist!! I never saw that one coming, I swear, but it’s plain awesome genius! I can’t really say much without spoiling it for everyone.

What I didn’t expect was to feel sorry for Zara at times. I really liked her in the first book before her betrayal was revealed. I sort of hated her then for a moment, but after what she’s been through… I could understand how she got to the place she ended up at. And the times she shows up in Scorch, she’s just so… damaged. As she gets worse and worse I really did feel for her even though she was supposedly the enemy.

Another thing I really enjoyed in the novel was getting to know more about the Grimsphere and how it works. DeMyse is extremely different from Croak and I liked comparing the two. The world-building is really expanded in this book and the problems being a reaper brings with itself (e.g. Lex’s parents, basically having lost two daughters since Lex isn’t around anymore) are not simply left out.

Gina Damico’s books are the perfect combination of humor and dark, deadly themes (don’t read this if you have problem with jokes about death!) and even though my review might make the book look quite heavy, I can’t count the times I laughed out loud while I was reading in public places! I read Scorch in a day, the writing flows really easily and the pace never drags. The characters all gained more depth than in the first book, and by the end, the whole plot is so much ‘bigger’ than I ever expected! Also, you can’t go wrong with a book that has a map in it. I need the next book, which will be called Rogue, asap! In the meantime, check out Gina Damico’s blog because it’s awesome and will give your laughing muscles a workout.

And because I like them so much, here are the trailers for Croak and Scorch:

Have you guys read either of these books? What did you think? Do you like Reaper books in general? Let me know in the comments :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Trailer Reveal: Opal, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I just finished Onyx on Monday, so I'm really happy to be part of the book trailer reveal for Opal, the next book in Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series! The cover is just gorgeous and I'm really glad release day isn't that far off anymore! The trailer recaps the first two books at the beginning before making me really curious about Opal. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did :)

Opal will be available in print and ebook version on December 18, 2012.

Goodreads description:
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.


Check out Jennifer L. Armentrout on the following sites:

Waiting on Wednesday: Sweet Peril, by Wendy Higgins

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to showcase upcoming releases that we can't wait to get our grabby book lover fingers on.

This week's pick:

Release date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, 464 pages

Goodreads description:
Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a claim. She’d been naive about a lot of things.

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

I've wanted this one pretty much since the second I finished Sweet Evil and when it was unclear whether Harper would pick up the sequel or not, I was really afraid that I'd never get to see more of Anna and Kaidan's story. I can't wait to read about how things continue for Anna and how she will try to change things for the Nephs! And what's gonna happen with Kaidan, of course ;) 
Are you also desperate to read Sweet Peril? What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors and Books I'm Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, all the bloggers participating post their Top Ten list of a certain topic.

This week's topic is: Top ten authors and books I'm thankful for.

I'm not American so I don't do Thanksgiving, but seeing all those posts on twitter and around the blogosphere always gets me in a pensive mood, too, and makes me remember what and who I'm grateful to have in my life. So I'll give this list a try... as always, no particular order.
Sorry for the lack of pictures but there would be so many and the formatting always drives me nuts if I want them to look nice in the text.

  1. Stephen King - On Writing
    I love this book and I've read it several times. Most of what I know about writing and how I approach it I've learned from here. It's written in a way that even my 17-year-old self could understand.
  2. Ralf Isau - Der Kreis der Dämmerung (Circle of the Dawn)
    This is an epic saga in 4 volumes, spanning the entire 20th century. I've read all the books at least twice. They've made me laugh and cry and feel pretty much any emotion known to man. Reading makes me remember what's important. And I just love David Camden as a character.
  3. J.R.R. Tokien - The Lord of the Rings
    Probably no explanation needed for this one... I first red it 10 years ago and have been meaning to re-read it... for the 5th time. It was part of my introduction to fantasy books.
  4. Wolfgang & Heike Hohlbein
    I'm grateful for pretty much any book they've co-written between 1982 and 2004. I don't really know their more recent work. Some of my favorites are Der Greif, Dreizehn, Krieg der Engel, and Spiegelzeit. Those were the reads of my early to mid teens and fueled my imagination. I got another 2 or so from the school library every week (yes they wrote tons of books).
  5. Kate Griffin - A Madness of Angels
    One of the best Urban Fantasy books I've ever read. Her writing blows my mind every time! It makes me see the city through fresh eyes again, and it makes me believe that maybe magic is still possible even these days.
  6. Holly Black
    Anything she's written is amazing. She comes up with such great ways to express things, and her writing is very courageous and touches on topics that I think many authors shy away from or skirt around.
  7. Poppy Z. Brite - Lost Souls
    For putting the bite back into vampires. Well, for me at least since I read it about 18 years after it was published. Great writing, though sometimes on the vey gory side.
  8. Stephen King - Dark Tower series
    Roland Deschain and his ka-tet. Their journey will be with me until the day I breathe my last.
  9. Edgar Allan Poe
    I love his poems and short stories. He's hard to grasp but he was a big influence on me, especially his way of approaching short story writing in one of his essays.
  10. Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
    I have no way to express my feels. I really love and admire this man. I even visited his grave in Paris, and I'm grateful I got there before they put this weird glass wall around it. One of my most treasured memories.
  11. John Keats, Stephen Crane, John Donne, William Carlos Williams, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, John Milton, William Blake...
    I'm sure I forgot some. A very cut-back list of some of my favorite poets.

I realized that I put a big (too much?) focus on modern authors and forgot about all the Classics I read for university, many of which have left a big impression on me. That's part of the reason for number 11. Also, poems are very underrated. More people should read and discuss them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: The Shadow Society, by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages

Goodreads description:
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

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

Wow. Even though it took me forever to actually write the review for this one, it was hands down one of my favorites that I’ve read all year! It was witty. It was dark at times, and twisted. But it was also great fun when Darcy was bantering with her friends. This book broke my heart, then mended it. The writing is outstanding It was just overall amazing!

Our heroine Darcy was found in front of the Chicago firehouse one day without any memories of her previous life. After being shipped off from foster family to foster family and acquiring a record for violence (for stopping one of her foster ‘fathers’ from beating up one of the other kids), she finally has a home with a foster mother she actually likes and gets along with. She’s starting the new school year at the same high school she was previously at. She’s got friends, who are by the way totally awesome. She’s not part of the ‘in’ crowd but of the more artsy and nerdy kids, but all in all life is going well, considering.

Enter Conn, the new guy. At first he looks at her as if she was the enemy. Then he singles her out of everyone popular who tries to get close to him to work on a project, and they grow closer. At lot. Oh how I loved the tension and chemistry between them, even though we know from the summary that he’s not being quite upfront with Darcy! I’m not gonna say what his betrayal is exactly, but it has Darcy questioning her sanity and figuring out that she is not only not who she thought she was, but not even what she thought she was.

In the ‘other’ Chicago of the world mentioned in the summary (I feel like such a spoilery person but it’s really all there already) she can’t trust anybody. Not Conn, not her own species, no one. New alliances, new betrayals, terrible secrets… there’s a considerable dystopian element in that part of the novel. The world building was brilliant! Incredibly imaginative and unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s not superficial but really thought through, and all the elements of that world make sense and fit together really well.

The paranormal element, too, was very refreshing and Darcy’s abilities were pretty damn awesome! She had to go through so much and proved to be a real fighter and a strong heroine! But she was also vulnerable. Conn really hurt her. Seeing the two of them trying to salvage the scraps of what was left of their bond after finding out about each other’s true identities kept me turning the pages. It was wonderfully written, raw and really believable. It took the right amount of time. None of the book was rushed even though lots of things happen, and the ending was perfect.

I can’t really say too much more without being very spoilery, but there are a few more things I’d like to mention. One is Darcy’s relation to art. I really loved how it wasn’t just something that was added to her character profile to make her more likeable or whatever, it was something ingrained into her very identity. It was part of who she was and how she (and since the story is written form her POV also the reader) looked at the world. She described things with an artist’s eye.

Another thing was the way this book worked with T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. When it first came up I just thought ‘Oh cool, she put Prufrock into the book! Awesome, one of my absolute favorites!’ but it was much more than just a fleeting reference. The poem is like a red thread leading through the book, and I loved to see how the meaning it has for Darcy and Conn (and also for me!) changes over time. It was brilliantly done!

Time to wrap this up. Drop-dead gorgeous, at times lyrical writing, amazing characters, romance (yes, it’s there. At times it’s also pretty hot!), friendship, betrayal, all fueled into a great story with solid worldbuilding and great imagination! This is a standalone and the ending is well rounded and just… wonderful. It’s not a cliché HEA, it’s just the perfect ending for the story and it let me close the book fully satisfied. Rutkoski’s words still linger though, and I have loads of marked passages on my kindle. I’m definitely buying a copy of this one once it’s out on paperback because I will want to re-read it.

So if you’re into paranormal or dystopian and want something truly new that hasn’t been done over and over, you really should give this one a try!

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Have you read The Shadow Society? Did you love it as much as I did, or did it not quite strike the same cord? I'd love to hear what you thought of my review.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Life on the Edge Tour: Excerpt, Guest Post, Giveaway

I'm excited to be part of the book tour for Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux, hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours!

First, some more info about the book:

New Adult / Upper YA
Title: Life on the Edge
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Date Published: 1/3/12

Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history. 
Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily’s dreams of gold.


The wind picked up, rustling the trees and sending my empty cup skittering over the table. Sergei snatched it and noticed the time on his watch.
“Oh, wow, it’s two thirty. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stay this late.”
“No worries. I can sleep till noon tomorrow.”
He rose from his chair, stretching his arms. “Do you think they all killed each other downstairs?”
“My guess is they played so hard they passed out at some point. That’s been known to happen.”
I got up and smoothed my skirt. I’d kicked off my sandals hours ago, and the weathered wood of the patio was cool under my bare feet.
Sergei took a step toward me. “Thanks again for the great meal. And the even better company.”
“You’re very welcome. I’m so glad you came.”
I stood on tippy-toes to give him a quick hug, but Sergei’s strong arms held me against him, enveloping my small frame. His body exuded warmth. I closed my eyes and breathed in the woody scent of his cologne. We’d shared plenty of hugs at competitions, but this felt so different, like we belonged nowhere else but in this embrace.
After what seemed like both an eternity and a split second, Sergei pulled away, his hands brushing down my back. He glanced downward and gestured to the door.
“I can let myself out.”
My head bobbed weakly. “Okay. I’ll see you Monday.”
“See you.” He held my gaze a moment longer than necessary. Then he was gone.
I stood paralyzed, listening to the blood pulse in my ears. My heart beat so fast I thought it might pound out of my chest. I couldn’t have imagined the electricity I’d felt in Sergei’s arms. It was too real. And I had no idea how I could ever forget it.
*sigh* after reading that excerpt when I first got it, I really regretted that I didn't request a review copy of this book! Alas, I didn't have the capacity to read and review it before the tour :( But it's definitely high up on my TBR list! Plus, it's New Adult - a category that I feel is really taking off at the moment, and I've enjoyed nearly all NA titles I've read so far.

Not convinced yet? Alright, there you are... meet author Jennifer Comeaux and read a guest post!

Author Bio
Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. While working for a Fortune 1000 company, she sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in her head for years. That story became Life on the Edge, her first published novel.

When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, travelling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see another side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing. Jennifer is blessed with a wonderful family and many friends who have encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a published author.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About LIFE ON THE EDGE

Thanks so much for visiting my blog tour! Today I thought I’d share some “behind the scenes” facts about Life on the Edge!
  1. The book started out as a serial that I wrote just for friends to read. It wasn’t until a year after I started writing that I decided to take everything I’d written and edit it into a publishable book.
  2. I gave myself a cameo in the book! You’ll have to read it to see if you can spot me ;-)
  3. The townhouse on Cape Cod where Emily and her best friend Aubrey live is in a complex where I stayed on vacation ten years ago. I loved it so much and always pictured it as a cool setting for a book.
  4. The book is set in 2000-2002 because I first came up with the idea for the story about seven or eight years ago, and even though years passed before I put it down on paper, I still pictured the big event in the story being the 2002 Olympics and didn’t want to alter the timeline.
  5. I’m in love with all things Boston and Cape Cod, so I couldn’t imagine the story being set anywhere else.
  6. One of the first pivotal events in the book is a Sting concert that Emily and Sergei attend together in Mansfield, Massachusetts, and Sting actually did play a show in Mansfield in the summer of 2000. He also played there in the summer of 2010, and I just happened to be vacationing on the Cape that week (I thought that was fate!). Of course, I had to go to the concert and experience the venue where my characters had a memorable night!
  7. The locations of the all the competitions in the book are the actual locations where those events took place in real life.
  8. When I picture Sergei in my head, I see Josh Dallas, who plays Prince Charming on Once Upon a Time.
  9. Emily’s best friend Aubrey is named after one of my favorite baseball players, former Tulane standout Michael Aubrey, who played in the Cleveland and Baltimore minor league systems.
  10. The sequel, Edge of the Past, will be released this winter!

 I like figure skating myself (gotta support my Swiss champion Stéfane Lambiel) so I was curious to see how Jennifer Comeaux became such a big fan that she wanted to write a novel revolving around it - you can find that out below.

My Figure Skating Addiction

Many people ask me how I became such a big fan of figure skating. There aren’t any ice rinks near my city, and I’ve only stepped on the ice once in my life! I grew up watching every skating event on TV, but it wasn’t until I attended my first competition that my fandom turned into an addiction.

My addiction started innocently enough. A friend from college, who is also a die-hard fan of the sport, happened to be in Cleveland during the 2000 U.S. National Championships, and she called me from Gund Arena, so excited about everything she saw. She said we absolutely had to go to Boston for the 2001 Championships. I'd always loved watching Nationals on TV, but I was thinking, who really goes to those events?

My friend brought me the ticket order form, and before I knew it, we'd plunked down a few hundred dollars for All-Event tickets. I flew into snow-covered Boston in January 2001 and had no idea what I was getting into, how many different places I'd travel to during the next eleven years for competitions.

The first thing that jumped out at me in Boston was how the skaters I'd watched for years on TV were now walking all around me at the hotel and sitting next to me on the bus to the arena. I was completely star struck! I didn't know where to look first.

The next thing that blew me away was how bright and sparkly the costumes were in person. Remember, this was before HDTV became popular. When the first group of skaters came out on the ice, I felt like I was in that scene in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy steps out of the black and white wrecked house and into colorful Munchkin Land. I couldn't believe how every sequin glinted under the bright lights of the Fleet Center.

Watching the competition live as opposed to at home, I could really feel the emotion of the skaters, and the energy of the crowd heightened the excitement even more. I enjoyed seeing skaters that never made the TV broadcast, especially the young up-and-comers. But the highlight was seeing my favorite skater of all-time, Michelle Kwan, compete. She owned the building. Nothing could compare to the frenzy she created when she stepped on the ice. Watching her skate was such a privilege.

After I returned home and told my sister all about my experience, I didn't have to do much convincing to get her on board for 2002 Nationals in Los Angeles. And from there, I couldn't stop – 2003 Dallas, 2004 Atlanta, 2005 Portland, the list goes on. Twelve straight Nationals and tickets purchased for 2013 in Omaha. Along the way, I also added in Skate America as an annual trip and threw in Worlds '09 and the 2010 Olympics (which was a dream come true!).

Attending skating events has allowed me to visit cities I never would've visited, and I've met some amazing skaters, skater families, and fans over the years. Being at competitions is so inspiring – it’s not only made me a bigger fan but it’s also given me lots of story ideas. So, I think my addiction is a healthy one! Do you have any healthy addictions?


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You can check out the full tour schedule here.

What's your impression of the novel? Did you like the excerpt? Do you watch figure skating? You're also welcome to share your thoughts on the guest posts :)