Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Carniepunk!

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

This week's pick:

Release date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Paperback, 448 pages

Goodreads description:
A star-studded urban fantasy anthology featuring bestselling authors Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Kevin Hearne, whose stories explore the creepy, mysterious, and, yes, sometimes magical world of traveling carnivals.

The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed, Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic. 

I love anthologies, and I really can't wait for this one! Great authors, some I know and some whose stories I've wanted to read for a while but haven't had the chance. The carnival setting is just awesome, there is so much story potential in it and it can go so many different ways!
Have you heard of Carniepunk before? What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Ultraviolet, by R.J. Anderson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Because of the nature of today's Top Ten Tuesday (I don't like to dwell on annoying characters) I've decided to tease you instead ;) I'm writing this Saturday night and will be in Barcelona as it goes online, so bear with me if it takes me till Thursday to get back to people (I'm back from my trip on Wednesday afternoon).

I'm not that far in this book yet but I'm really enjoying both the story and the writing!
Here is my teaser, it's our main character Alison having dinner at the cafeteria and meeting some of her fellow-patients for the first time.

add it on goodreads
'Sixteen. Well, seventeen next month.'
'Ooh, I love an older woman,' said Kirk, mock-leering. 'Favourite colour?'
The colour of serenity, of feeling safe and confident and whole. On the piano, it was the B-flat below middle C; in the alphabet, the first letter of my name.
'Violet', I said.
'So what's your psychosis?'
- paperback edition, page 72

About the book:
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori—the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?


So what do you guys think about the book / my teaser? Have you read it? And what book did you choose to tease the rest of us with this week?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Know me better #2

Know Me Better is a weekly meme hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer to get to know your fellow bloggers a little better. Each week the participants answer 5 questions.

I apologize in advance for wonky formatting and typos. I'm writing this on my phone in a hotel room in Barcelona after a loooong but interesting day :)

*This Week's Questions:*

Top 5 songs on your playlist?
Um... I usually have my iPod on shuffle so I'll just give you 5 songs I really like.
Young Guns - Bones
AFI - This Celluloid Dream
Asking Alexandria - Closure
Parkway Drive - Carrion
Funeral For A Friend - The End of Nothing

I love music so I could go on & on & on...

How much time do you spend reading each week?
I don't really know. 2-3 hours a day? I usually read 2-3 books a week.

What is the last thing you Googled?
Stuff about sights and public transport in Barcelona.

Favorite places to travel?
I looove London! Ive been there four times and I'm going back this summer. I also liked Prague, Florence, and Dublin a lot. I'd love to see Tokyo and San Francisco one day!

What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day?
In my PJs, reading and sleeping late and maybe watching a movie or writing :)

Do you guys know any of the bands? How would you answer the questions? Leave your links if you're participating :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: I'm on a book diet

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to show off all the books we got in the past week. Those can be bought, borrowed, for review, print, digital... doesn't matter as long as it's a book and you can read it :)

After the rather big hauls in the last weeks, I needed to slow down a bit. I stayed away from kindle freebies. I didn't order any books online (I'll have to get in some TBD preorders soon though). It's like a diet, and it sucks. It lets me catch up with actually reading what I buy though ^^

I got two kindle books though:

Rule, by Jay Crownover
Fallen Too Far, by Abbi Glines

I had downloaded the sample for Rule, and after reading through it on Sunday I just couldn't help myself - I HAD to know how the story continues! So I bought the book and I'm sooo glad that I did because it was awesome! I hope I'll get around to reviewing it soon.
Fallen Too Far was only 1.99$ yesterday and after all those reviews I just thought "screw it, I'll buy it sooner or later anyway". I really liked The Vincent Boys and I hope this one will be equally awesome :)

Friday Night Edit: Okay fine. I said no more books.


Then I saw this post by Lisa from Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Reviews, and I just had to grab this book because it's only 99c and I've wanted to read it for a long time:

Pretty When She Dies, by Rhiannon Frater

Have you read any of the books? And what did you get in the past week?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Short absence because... city trip!

Hello my lovely readers,

I just wanted to notify you that I'll be gone from Sunday at oh-hell-no o'clock (otherwise known as 'your flight departs at 7a.m. so head to the airport at 5') in the morning until sometime on Wednesday.

'Gone where?', you might ask.

Well... Barcelona!!

I'm so excited! :D Yes I live smack in the middle of Europe and the flight is less than two hours but I've never been to Spain before! I'll be going with my family (first time in over two years) and we'll see how that goes down, but my sister knows the city a bit and I'm honestly looking forward to some warmer weather. It's very snowy and cold here in Zurich at the moment. Brr.

I'll get to see this:
I don't own the picture, find it here.
And this:
I don't own, find it here.
Seriously, I love Gaudi's art! I've wanted to see the Sagrada Familia and the Park Güell for years :) According to my sister, there's also a great Old Town part with lots of little alleyways and boutiques and other interesting little shops. And of course the Rambla. We probably won't be going to the beach because alas, 'tis not the season. However, because of that it'll also be less crowded which is a plus in my book.

Now what does this mean for you and this blog?

I have some posts scheduled, so on that front you shouldn't notice too big a change. However, it will take me longer to reply to comments and comment back on memes. I should have WiFi at the hotel but I don't know yet whether or not I'll take my netbook and I don't feel like returning comments on my smartphone. It's just too cumbersome. I also don't think I'll do much in that hotel room besides sleep anyway :P

So... see you guys next week, unless my plane crashes *touch wood*
If anyone is interested I'll post some pictures when I'm settled in again :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Non-YA review: Thistle & Thorne ('Til The World Ends), by Ann Aguirre

Release date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Luna
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

Goodreads description:
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre

After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside-in the Red Zone-is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they'll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside...for good. 

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

Thistle & Thorne is the second story in the ‘Til The World Ends anthology. I am reviewing all three novellas separately and you can read my review of Julie Kagawa’s Dawn of Eden here.

I haven’t read anything by the author before, but I really enjoyed this short novella and I think I’ll look into her Razorland series after all, even though I wasn’t all that intrigued with it before! From what I’ve heard, Thistle & Thorne precedes the events in Enclave but features different characters. 
EDIT: Ann Aguirre contacted me and cleared up that the world in this story is not related to the Razorland series. I'm sorry about the confusion - I read in someone else's review that it was a prequel and simply believed that because I didn't know any better at the time.

Thistle & Thorne is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a sharp division is made between rich and poor. Those who are either rich enough to buy their way in (or born privileged) live in gated communities called fortresses. Their lives are full of luxury and they have enough food, clean air, actual trees etc. The less lucky ones have to try and survive in the Red Zone among crumbling buildings, backstabbing, and crime. It took me moment to get a hang of the world building but I soon found myself at home and figuring out the rules of the place. The world our heroine Mari lives in is harsh and gritty and I felt the way it was developed in the story very realistic.

Mari herself is a strong woman trying to survive in a world that is primarily shaped by powerful men. She has two younger siblings whom she is taking care of as best she can, working as a thief-for-hire to pay her way through life and to protect her brother and sister from the dangers of their surroundings. For them, she would do anything and despite her grim prospects she never gives up.

When a theft she was contracted to commit goes badly, Mari has to team up with Thorne Goodman to escape the wrath of Stavros, a crime boss threatening her block with annihilation. Together, they form a plot to overthrow Stavros’ reign. Thorne himself and his motivations are shady at first, but I really enjoyed seeing his character gain depth and grew to like him a lot. He and Mari made a killer team! Each of them could stand on their own but working together they were so much better. There was a bit of romance, too, but it never hijacked the story. There is also a cast of side-characters that rounded the story off well and showed more sides of the world Mari moves in. I loved her neighbor, Nat! That woman can make you soup and take care of your siblings just as well as craft you a knife.

The writing flowed very well and the pace built up more and more towards the resolution and final showdown. I would have read the whole story in one setting if real life had not interfered. Even though the setting is bleak, there were also descriptive passages I found very beautiful and that showed Mari’s ability to find hope among the darkness and imagine a different, better future. The ending wasn’t a huge surprise but it also wasn’t guaranteed from the beginning and there were a few twists.

Overall I really enjoyed Thistle & Thorne and actually wished it was a bit longer! I’d love to see what happens next, but as far as I know these exact characters don’t make an appearance in the Razorland series. I think there’s a loophole kept open for another story though. I can hope, can’t I? I’d be up for another team-up between Mari and Thorne anytime.
I’d recommend the story to anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic books or stories about organized crime featuring a strong heroine and layered hero. Small warning: there is quite a bit of graphic violence, hence why the story falls into the Adult category.

Have you read Thistle & Thorne or any other of Ann Aguirre's books? How did you like it? Does the premise of the story appeal to you? Let me know in the comments :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Winter Queen, by Amber Argyle

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

My pick this week:

Release date: June 19, 2013
Publisher: Starling Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 254 pages

Goodreads description:
~Becoming a winter queen will make Ilyenna as cold and cruel and deadly as winter itself, but it might be the only way to save her people from a war they have no hope of winning.~

Mortally wounded during a raid, seventeen-year-old Ilyenna is healed by winter fairies who present her with a seductive offer: become one of them and share their power over winter. But that power comes with a price. If she accepts, she will become a force of nature, lose her humanity, and abandon her family.

Unwilling to pay such a high price, Ilyenna is enslaved by one of the invaders, Darrien. While in captivity, she learns the attack wasn’t just a simple raid but part of a larger plot to overthrow her entire nation.

With the enemy stealing over the mountains and Darrien coming to take her to his bed, Ilyenna must decide whether to resurrect the power the fairies left behind. Doing so will allow her to defeat Darrien and the other invaders, but if she embraces winter, she will lose herself to that destroying power—forever.

Okay, I've got to be honest here. At first this was cover love, pure and simple. As in absolute, undying, everlasting cover love!!! o.O I mean just look at it! The colors! The blending! The model and pose! It's just breathtakingly gorgeous.
But it gets better. It's about fairies, and winter fairies on top of that! From the description I surmise this is set in another world or time, but it's hard to tell and I want to read it no matter what.

Have you hear of Winter Queen before? What are your thoughts on the cover and description? And what's your WoW pick this week? Let me know in the comments :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge: January wrap-up

Hey guys :)
I challenged myself to read 21-30 books published in 2012 or earlier this year, and so far it's going well! I've read 7 books that fit into that category, though to my shame I've only reviewed 2 of them so far. I can just breeze through a book but it takes me forever to write a review :/ I must get better at reviewing them right away!
Head over to Evie from Bookish for the offical wrap-up post and a giveaway!

What I've read so far:
  • Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I really want to review them because they are sooooo amazing!
  • Falling to Ash, by Karen Mahoney. Also awesome. Must review!
  • The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff. This one has a firm place among my favorite novels ever now. I put tons of sticky notes into the best parts, and I just can't express how much I loved it.
  • Rule, by Jay Crownover. Just finished it today and it was a really pleasant surprise! I want to review that one too.

What I did review:

So yeah basically I can already see that I'll probably read more like 50 books published in 2012 or earlier by the end of the year... but we'll see how it goes, and how I'll be tempted by all those new releases ;)

Are you participating in the challenge? How is it going for you so far?

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I'd like to see more of

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, they will post a topic on their blog that the participants draw up their on top ten list for.

Today's topic is about settings we'd like to see more of, or at all.

I actually had to think about this quite a bit. The list I came up with is about settings I'd like to read more of, which I think makes a difference because quite often there are plenty books already out there, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

  1. Russia / Prague / Eastern Europe
    I've always found the culture interesting, and after having seen Prague myself I've been a sucker for the setting! I'd also like to read more fantasy/paranormal books set there because I find the lore fascinating and I'd like to know more about it.

  2. Ireland
    I've read a few books set there, but I'd like to read yet more :)

  3. San Francisco
    I've never been there (or anywhere in the US for that matter) but somehow I think this is a city I could fall in love with. I haven't read many books set there though, so recommendations are very welcome!

  4. The North
    You know, Finland, Sweden, Norway... never been there, always been fascinated. I've read a few because it's a more frequent location in German books, but I'd like to read something paranormal set there. I think there's plenty in that setting that one could work with.

  5. Boarding School
    I know many people are sick of reading about it, but I'm not! There are still tons of series I'd like to get to. However, I do agree that it depends a lot on what the author makes of this particular location. I love the ones that make the setting integral to the novel and manage to transform it into something unique. I just like the way these schools can form a self-contained little universe with its own rules.

  6. Hell / The Underword / Wherever Demons and the Badies Live
    I know there are tons of books drawing from that tradition with angels and demons and devils and whatnot, but we rarely get to go to the place they actually come from! I really enjoyed the parts in Kim Harrison's books that play in the Ever After. I'd like to see more re-imaginations of Hell.

  7. Travel
    Road trips, city trips, interrailing... I'd like to see a bunch of characters in their early twenties travelling from place to place and meeting people and having adventures :)

  8. Tokyo / Japan
    Love the culture. If Fukushima hadn't happened, I would have been there already, but as it is it's still a destination I want to see in the next 10 years. I used to read a lot of books by a Swiss author (Federica de Cesco) set there but I think I've read them all. I want more though, and I mean good and reflected ones that don't just exploit the 'exotic' setting but actually show some reflection in the way they depict the culture. I'd like to somehow move beyond the 'Western gaze'.

  9. Completely made-up worlds
    I know there's plenty of high fantasy out there, but somehow I've been reluctant to read any in the last few years. I'd like to change that again, to fully fall into a new world and culture that just takes my breath away and comes vibrantly alive in my mind.

  10. Zurich
    I know, completely self-indulgent. But I'd like to see more books set in my own city. All I get here is books by Swiss authors and they focus on stuff I'm not interested in. A paranormal set in my city that makes it magical to me would be awesome! Or a contemporary about American teens going there for a trip or whatever. It'd be interesting to get an outsider's perspective on my own culture!

I've probably forgotten a couple glaringly obvious settings, but I guess this is my list. Do you agree on some of my settings? Are there a few among them that you're sick of? Can you recommend me a read? Please leave a link to your own list, I'm sure there will be places on it that I totally forgot about :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Know Me Better"-meme: let's give this a try...

Hey guys! I've been thinking about making a post about who I am / what I do apart from blogging for a while, but I've always been reluctant because... I don't know, what if no one cares? What if I make a post saying 'ask me questions and I'll pick some to answer' and I get zero comments... it'd be embarrassing. Also, I want the focus of this blog to be books and not me.

On the other hand, I feel like I haven't connected to the rest of the community to the extent that I'd like to, and maybe sharing a little might help with that and start a conversation.

So I've decided to occasionally take part in the new meme Kathy from I Am A Reader Not A Writer created where bloggers can answer 5 questions she usually asks in her author interviews.

Today's questions are:

10 words that describe yourself?
Favorite TV Shows?
If you could take over the world, would you?
Who was the first boy you kissed?
How do you unwind?

10 words that describe yourself?
Hm... I guess I'm made of contradictions, so: book-crazy, sarcastic, kind, fearful, non-judgemental, lazy, busy, loyal, distant, brainy. Not sure this really captures the core of my personality but yeah...

Favorite TV Shows?
This changes a bit depending what's on, but: Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Supernatural (only seen the first two seasons so far), Criminal Minds, Bones (seen up to season 5)... I think I'm forgetting some. I've been meaning to get into Carnivale, Revenge, American Horror Story, Downtown Abby, but there's no time.
There was also a time when I watched lots of anime. I really like Vampire Knight, Kuroshitsuji, Death Note, Bleach (not the fillers), 07 Ghost, the Hellsing OVAs, Wolf's Rain, and probably lots more that slip my mind right now. When I was a kid I was a huge Pokémon fan, but then they started making too many...
If you have suggestions for what I could watch to get into anime again, bring them on ;)

If you could take over the world, would you?
Haha, no way XD I have no interest in ordering others around, I'm lazy and disorganized, I don't like being the one in power (I'm not a mindless follower either. I'd be the right hand woman or something). I also don't want to spend my life expecting to be stabbed in the back. Nor do I think I know what's right for other people/the world. To each their own.

Who was the first boy you kissed?
My first boyfriend, about a week after I turned 17. He lived 2.5 hours away and I was spending some days with him at his family's house over the winter holidays because usually we could only see each other every second weekend. I think it was even on the eve of Valentine's Day! We'd just finished watching The Crow, the credits were rolling, and it was really late and we were lying on his bed staring at the screen. I was so nervous I didn't really get to enjoy it all that much and it was sort of... less... than I had hoped.

How do you unwind?
I'm a very boring person. I don't really go out much, also because I can never do it on Fridays because I have to get up at 7 a.m. Saturday morning to go to work (I tutor groups of kids on Saturdays for an organization, and I have a different job in addition to my English Lit studies during the week).
So I basically just read a lot, hang around on the internet, maybe watch TV (rare), go for coffee with my writing, a book, or a friend, sometimes visit my family, listen to music and go to concerts (I love metalcore and... you know... other genres where bands scream at you, you get awesome guitar solos, and people mosh instead of girly-scream at the lead singer).

This all came out a little more rambly than I had thought ^^'' Dunno what you guys think of it, but feel free to tell me. Is this what you expected of me, or were there some surprises? Anything we have in common? Also, if you made a post for this meme feel free to leave a link :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: the pretty cover edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to show off all the pretty book goodies we got over the past week. You can include print as well as ebooks, gifted, won, borrowed, bought, whatever...

I got quite a lot of books this week, even though I wanted to put myself on a ban. Yeah, epic fail. But I'm not really sorry, because what I got was awesome ^^ Some of it I had already ordered anyway... but now I really need to stop buying so many books!

Here's what I got for review:

The Nightmare Affair, by Mindee Arnett
Marking Time, by April White

I'm on the tour for The Nightmare Affair (stop on  February 28) and I'm excited for it! Can't dig into it right away though...
I was approached by the author about reviewing Marking Time after I saw it on someone else's blog and put it on my TBR. The description of time travel to the Victorian times, boarding school for gifted people, and Jack the Ripper really intrigued me!

Books I'd meant to order forever, finally did buy, and took ages to arrive:

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth (I'm reading it and forgot to put it on the photo)
Embrace, by Jessica Shirvington
The Faerie Ring, by Kiki Hamilton

Those are the ones I'd ordered new . I got Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson as a used book from Amazon in supposedly 'good' condition but yeah... I realized that 'good' is a very relative estimate -__-'

The Taker, by Alma Katsu
Lost in Time, by Melissa de la Cruz

These two I found in the bargain box at a local store for only 5 bucks each. That's about a third of what I'd usually pay, so yay :D I've been curious about The Taker for a while, and even though It'll take me time to catch up with the Blue Bloods series to get to Lost in Time, I'd have been stupid not to take advantage of finding it so unexpectedly.

Books I got free or cheap on Amazon:

Silver Lake, by Kathryn Knight
The Deepest Cut, by J.A. Templeton
Demon Kissed, by H.M. Ward (free on Smashwords)
Surrender, by Rhiannon Paille

So, this is it... I like all the books and hope I'll get to them soon! Which is actually fairly realistic with the print copies because I've been reading like mad lately. All the print books in last week's haul? Already devoured them. Writing reviews, especially for books I enjoyed, is so much harder though...

So what do you guys think of my haul? Have you read any of those? What should I start with when I finish Insurgent? And of course I'm curious about what you got this week, so leave me links :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Non-YA Review: Dawn of Eden ('Til The World Ends), by Julie Kagawa

Release date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Luna
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

Goodreads description:
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa

Before The Immortal Rules, there was the Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden-as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What's worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she's beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems...

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

Since this is a novella collection rather than one of the short story anthologies I'm used to, I've decided to review each of the three novellas separately.

Julie Kagawa's Dawn of Eden was the novella I was most curious about, since I've never read anything by the other authors. I loved The Immortal Rules (you can read my review here), and this novella takes place a few decades earlier, when the Red Lung virus first broke out. You’ll pick up on a few more things if you’ve read the book (as well as a cameo appearance of one of my favorite characters), but it’s not necessary and anyone can follow along easily even if this is their first encounter with the series.
It's also Julie Kagawa's first ADULT story, and the shift in tone is noticeable. That being said, I think it's one of the best pieces of prose I've read by her so far.

The story follows Kylie, a doctor in training in D.C. fighting a losing battle against the virus. The country is in chaos, electricity, the internet, and any type of broadcast media have broken down. People are looting and killing each other in the streets, hospitals are overflowing with the dead. Kylie is constantly surrounded by death as she and her two interns do their best to ease the pain of the dying. And yet, despite all the bleakness and blood and death surrounding her, Kylie never gives up hope. She does not become immune to her patients' suffering. She believes that some of them might get better, and refuses to leave them and save herself. This inner strength and determination to fight to the last really made me admire her!

Enter Ben Archer and his injured friend. Kylie feels immediately attracted to Ben, but doesn't get distracted from their very desperate situation. When her dead patients eventually start to reawaken around her as rabid beasts, Ben has to own up to what is really happening and what role his friend had in it. He and Kylie set out on an adventurous journey through a country that seems deserted but could be crawling with enemies as soon as the sun goes down, following the hope that Ben's estranged family might still be alive and healthy on their middle-of-nowhere farm.

As I’ve already hinted, the bleak and desperate, apocalyptical atmosphere of the novel was palpable. There were also parts that made my heart hammer because I just knew something horrible was going to happen, but not exactly when or how! Definitely some major creep factor here! But apart from all that, I loved to see Kylie and Ben’s relationship develop. They are thrown together, but their relationship never felt forced and there were also no attempts to make them fall in love faster than was reasonable. The scenes between them were fairly explicit but well done – however, not YA. I was actually surprised by how explicit it was because I think of Julie Kagawa as a YA writer, but I didn’t mind ;)

Overall, I really enjoyed this glimpse at a time before society in a way reestablished itself in The Immortal Rules. The scenario and the way people reacted to the world going crazy around them felt very realistic to me, and I liked the pace – it wasn’t building towards one big peak but had several smaller ones with calmer moments in between. If you love dystopian/postapocalyptic settings with a little romance thrown into the mix, you should definitely give it a try! However, if you have a weak stomach and a problem with graphic violence, you should better sit this one out…

Have you read The Immortal Rules? Are you anxious to get a glimpse into the 'before' of the story? If you've already read it, what did you think of Julie Kagawa's first non-YA story? My curious mind wants to know :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Obscura Burning, by Suzanne van Rooyen

Hey guys! I'm excited to be part of the book blitz for Obscura Burning organized by Giselle from Xpresso Tours! Below you'll find the book cover, a description, a little bit more about the author, an interview with the main character, Kyle, and a giveaway!

Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen 
- December 7th 2012 / Etopia Press 

The world's going to end in fire…and it's all Kyle's fault.

Kyle Wolfe's world is about to crash and burn. Just weeks away from graduation, a fire kills Kyle's two best friends and leaves him permanently scarred. A fire that Kyle accidentally set the night he cheated on his boyfriend Danny with their female friend, Shira. That same day, a strange new planet, Obscura, appears in the sky. And suddenly Kyle's friends aren't all that dead anymore.

Each time Kyle goes to sleep, he awakens to two different realities. In one, his boyfriend Danny is still alive, but Shira is dead. In the other, it's Shira who's alive...and now they're friends with benefits. Shifting between realities is slowly killing him, and he's not the only one dying. The world is dying with him. He's pretty sure Obscura has something to do with it, but with his parents' marriage imploding and realities shifting each time he closes his eyes, Kyle has problems enough without being the one in charge of saving the world...

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     OmniLit

First off, I think it's amazing that this book features homosexual characters! That's something that is way to rare in YA. Also, the idea of the two realities, the postapocalyptic setting, and the element of this strange planet really intrigue me! The cover doesn't hurt to look at either ;)

If you'd like to get to know our narrator Kyle Wolfe a little better - here's an interview with him:

1. What do you want to do with your life?

Which one? That’s the problem. In a perfect reality I’d be going off to Rice to study art and literature and I’d start doing my own comics and become an underground sensation and have kids dressing up as my characters on Halloween - that’s what I want; that’s what I probably don’t deserve.

2. What do you fear most?
That the world will end because of me, that it’ll be my fault that everyone will end up dead. I think maybe I fear the world not ending even more, fear me being stuck in one of these crappy realities and not able to do a damn thing about it.

3. Are you presently in love, or do you hope to find someone special?
I thought I was, thought I loved Danny but now I’m not so sure. Dan is special but I think he deserves better than me, someone who isn’t afraid to be with him, to kiss him and dance with him in public.

4. Sum up your life in the last few weeks in 150 words or less.
Can I use four letter words? No? Horrific, confusing, devastating, frustrating, unbelievable, terrifying – Do you really need another 144 words? The world’s gone crazy, man. And I think it’s all my fault.

5. If you could change one thing of your past would you? If so, what would it be and why?
I’d change everything. Change what I said to Danny, how I treated him. I’d change how I dealt with the parents too. Also, I’d like to go back to that very first fire, to that moment when I lit my first match and just not do it, just never fall in love with flames.

6. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
That’s easy, a wolf – just like my name. Why? Because wolves do just fine all by themselves. They’re badass and not afraid of anything – I wish I could be like that.

Suzanne van Rooyen:
Suzanne is a freelance writer and author from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Suzanne is the author of the cyberpunk novel Dragon’s Teeth (Divertir), the YA science fiction novel Obscura Burning (Etopia) and has had several short stories published by Golden Visions Magazine, Space and Time and Niteblade. Niteblade nominated her short story Where dreams are grown for the Pushcart Prize. Her non-fiction articles on travel, music and other topics can be found scattered throughout the Internet. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance to ninth graders or playing in the snow with her shiba inu.

Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Website     Goodreads     Facebook    Twitter 

And now, on to the amazing giveaway! It's open INTERNATIONALLY and ends on January 31, 2013. Check the rules in the rafflecopter form. Only one entry per person / household.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Belladonna, by Fiona Paul

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.

In this week's pick, the cover fairy strikes again:

Release date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Philomel/Penguin
Format: Hardcover,  352 pages

Goodreads description:
In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he’s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass’s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose—the only evidence that will prove he’s innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order’s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?
Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

I cannot wait for this book! Cannot!!! There was this thing a couple weeks ago where you could read the beginning and that made the wait even harder... I'm so curious about The Book of the Eternal Rose fianlly showing up, after all these quotes that were in Venom! And I just knew Luca wasn't all that. Doesn't mean I trust Falco any more. And it takes place in Florence! I was there a few years ago an fell in love with the city. I hope this shows up on NetGalley... I was too late when I requested it on Edelweiss *sigh*
Have you read Venom and are also tortured by the wait? What did you pick this week?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: Splintered, by A.G. Howard

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

After doing quite a few Top Ten Tuesdays, I've decided to mix things up a little and tease you guys again ;) I've just finished Splintered by A.G. Howard and it was amazing! One of my most anticipated releases of the year, and a great way to start reading them :) Since I haven't decided on my next read yet, I'll pick this book to tease you with...

Please meet Jeb:
" 'You know, you really should go to prom. Show up just like this and knock everyone on their asses. I guarantee you'll still have your dignity.' He studies my face with an expression I've only seen when he paints. Intense. Absorbed. As if he's considering the painting from every angle. Me from every angle. He's so close, I smell the raspberry on his hot breath. His gaze shifts to the dimple in my chin and my cheeks flame." - Paperback, page 27

And here's a snippet about Morpheus:
"Morpheus is not his true name. He is glory and deprecation - sunlight and shadows - the scuttle of scorpion and the melody of a nightingale. The breath of the sea and the cannonade of a storm. Can you relay birdsong, or the sound of wind, or the scurry of a creature across the sand? For the proper names of netherlings are made up of the life forces defining them. Can you speak these things with your tongue?" - Paperback, page 288

About the book:
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

What do you guys think of my teasers? Do they make you want to read the book? And what did you pick to tease the rest of us with this week?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: the Finally! Edition

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to show off all the pretty book goodies we got over the past week. You can include print as well as ebooks, gifted, won, borrowed, bought, whatever...

For review from NetGalley:

Dare you To, by Katie McGarry

I've been excited about this ever since I read the excerpt at the back of my Pushing the Limits ARC! So happy I got approved ^^


Frost Fire, by Olivia Rivers
My Favorite Mistake, by Chelsea M. Cameron

Thanks to Anatea @ Anatea's Bookshelf and Brenda @ Crazy Four Books!

Books I'd ordered that FINALLY  arrived:

Falling To Ash, by Karen Mahoney
Splintered, by A.G. Howard
The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

I've already read & loved Falling To Ash and just got started on Splintered. I've wanted that book for sooo long, and then it took an eternity to ship. But I finally have it :D I'm also excited about The Replacement. It was on sale on TBD for only a little over 3 euros, so I couldn't resist. It's my first Brenna Yovanoff book. The photo doesn't really do the beauty of all the covers justice by the way, and I'm sorry the pretty face of the guy on The Replacement got eclipsed by my flash...

Free or cheap kindle books:

MILA 2.0 Origins: The Fire, by Debra Driza
The Devil's Metal, by Karina Halle
All Over You, by Emily Snow
Wander Dust, by Michelle Warren

I breezed through All Over You, the prequel novella for Devoured, in a single setting. The other ones were freebies or books I read reviews for and then bought on a whim. I'm particularly curious about The Devil's Metal, a story about a rock band and some paranormal stuff happening and a music journalist - all of that in the 1970s!

I have too many books >.< I am putting myself on another ban. I have still books I've already ordered that are still to arrive, and lately I've been buying way too many ebooks. Hard as it is: no more books for now!!!
What do you think of my haul? And what did you get this week? Also, I have 2 international giveaways going on at the moment, click the banners in my left sidebar to enter :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: Indigo Awakening, by Jordan Dane

Release date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback, 304 pages

Goodreads description:
Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

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

Indigo Awakening was a fast-paced read about teens with powers I found very cool, but in the end I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped because of the way it was narrated.

The story starts with Lucas, a 15-year-old teen roaming the streets in confusion. He hears voices in his head, the voices of other teens. Teens gifted like him. Lucas escaped from the mental hospital Mia, his oldest sister, had him committed to when their parents died. The hospital is owned by an organization wanting to research and control people (called Indigo or Crystal children) with gifts like his, and he’s been drugged against his will and examined for a long time. One girl’s voice in particular sticks out for him among the noise, and he follows a strange pull to where he thinks she will be.

Meanwhile, his other sister, Rayne, is told about his escape and sets out on a search for him, hoping to find him before Mia and the organization do. Rayne loves her brother fiercely and hated the way her sister simply stowed him away in an asylum. When she runs into trouble during her search she is helped by the mysterious Gabriel, a boy who has a mental connection to his dead dog and is plagued by nightmares he then sketches into a notebook. One of his sketches shows Rayne’s brother, and he’s not in a pretty shape. All of this sets in motion a mad race for who gets to Lucas most quickly, as well as a bond and strong attraction between Rayne and Gabe as they try to figure out what is really going on and why Lucas is so important to this fanatical church-like organization.

I really liked Rayne. She’s a tough girl with attitude who won’t just stand by and watch the action from afar. Did I mention she rides a Harley? I also loved how fiercely protective and dedicated she was to her brother. The attraction between her and Gabe was instant, but the author gives them time to actually get to know each other before anything more transpires. The story is action-packed with a lot going on at all times, but it didn’t feel breathless.

So far, so good. However, there was one big problem with this novel that took away quite a bit of my reading pleasure. I normally don’t mind books narrated in third person point of view or stories with varying narrators. However, the way it was done here just didn’t work for me.
There are three main story strands: Rayne & Gabe, Lucas and the other gifted ‘Indigo’ kids, and the organization searching for them. Within each strands, we again have multiple narrators, all of them individuals with their own agendas.

While this wasn’t confusing because it’s always clear who is talking, it also took away a lot of the depth of character development that might have been possible had the story been told from less POVs. Some of them didn’t really feel necessary. There is also quite a lot of telling instead of showing, especially when the reader is in one of the villains’ heads. No need to tell me what a bad guy this is or how little he cares about the lives of those kids – his actions should be able to show me that just fine. Many of the villains felt rather one-dimensional to me.

Another consequence of this type of narration was that I constantly felt like I was ‘hovering’ above the story. This was a problem with the focalization, the ‘lense’ through which the story is filtered. I felt like the omniscient narrator delved down to the various characters and I was sort of hovering over their heads and getting glimpses at their interiors, but I never really felt like I fully ‘entered’ that character. I just didn’t feel connected or immersed, and that made it more difficult for me to empathize with what was happening to them.

That being said, I felt most interested and invested in the Rayne/Gabriel story strand. Gabriel was a layered and intriguing character, and I loved how the story eventually delves more into his background and also features a really cool location connected to him. I don’t want to give too much away because of spoilers, but that period in the book when he and Rayne stay in this place was my favorite part of the book. Generally, I felt like he and Rayne showed the most character development throughout the book.

The powers of the kids were, as I’ve already hinted, another plus. Each kid has his/her own individual power, and they were all pretty cool. I also liked the life they had carved out for themselves and how they were connected in a sort of ‘hive mind’ held together by Kendra, the girl Lucas feels most drawn to.

The final showdown is again action-packed, and the overall pace of the book always kept me interested even though the narration bugged me. The final revelation didn’t come as a complete surprise to me, but the ending was well-done with the story strands tied up but enough room and questions left open for the sequel.

All in all, a great idea for a story about kids with special powers with at times something of a sci-fi or dystopian feel to it. Despite my difficulties with the way it was narrated, there were also passages that were beautifully written and details that were imaginative and made the story feel fresh. I’m curious about the sequel, but I hope some of the character POVs will be cut so that the remaining ones can get a little more development.

What do you think of my review? Does the theme of the book appeal to you? I'd also be interested in the opinions of other people who have read it and whether they had similar problems with the narration...