Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week the participants post their top ten to a specific topic.

This week is all about the topics that instantly make us want to read a certain book.

Hm... this is actually sort of hard! There are some topics I'm particularly interested in reading about and feel drawn to but that doesn't mean I instantly run out and buy All The Books. Here are some themes that make my reader ears perk though, in no particular order :)

  1. Stories about revenge
    I really need to check out some of these new books featuring the Furies! But yeah, payback is a bitch and I love to see it being served. These books usually have an edge and I like that.

  2. Stories involving road trips / travel
    Road trips in the way they are possible in the US can't be done in Europe, so travelling America in a car is very high on my bucket list! Till then, I'll live it vicariously :)

  3. Stories set in the late 19th or early 20th century
    Probably my favorite period, both in terms of literary history and/or culture. I love the state of in-betweenness, and at the point the Victorian age was crumbling but Modernism hadn't quite emerged yet. Yay for Decadence and Dandies.

  4. Stories that are loosely inspired by / based on classics (not necessarily retellings)
    I haven't read all that many of those yet but I love the general idea! I really want to check out Kenneth Oppel's books, and I love Kelly Creagh's Nevermore series! I'm not such a huge fan of fairytale retellings because you have to sort of stick to the outline in a way, but with classics you can explore the imagined childhood of a character or focus on a minor character and their story or just pick up on some of the themes.

  5. Stories with a new take on vampires
    The subgenre's sort of been done to death but I'm always open to fresh ideas about some of my favorite creatures...

  6. Stories about thieves or assassins
    Haven't actually read that many, but I have a bunch on my TBR :) Fascinating figures!

  7. Stories that feature Death as a character
    I love Death in Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels! I have a macabre mind. Death doesn't really scare me (doesn't mean I don't grieve when someone I know dies!). There's no point being afraid of the inevitable. I think Death features in the Grave Mercy books (so do assassins) so those are high on my TBR.

  8. Stories with a type of creature I haven't read much about yet
    See above... I need something new! I think there are some gargoyle books coming out so I have high hopes!

  9. Bad boys that are really bad and not just essentially good guys with a bad reputation
    Because let's face it, so-called bad boys are everywhere but they're always just misunderstood or slandered or whatever and actually really nice. I want a bad boy who has more to his name than just a leather jacket, smoking habit, and a motorbike.

  10. Haunted house stories
    Because houses fascinate me and I love being creeped out. I'd also like to see more YA horror! Think Anna Dressed in Blood.
That's it, I think! I could probably keep going if I thought a bit harder. If any of you are interested in the same things and have recommendations, bring them on! And leave your TTT link in the comments :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: With All My Soul, by Rachel Vincent

Release date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback, 377 pages

Goodreads description:
What does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It's time to kick some hellion butt...

After not really surviving her junior year (does "undead" count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She's going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she's closer to the edge than she's ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can't save everyone she loves without risking everything she has...

The following review is based on a copy I won in Rachel from Fiktshun's With All My Soul Mini-Challenge. Thanks again for hosting it, Rachel!

Review (no spoilers):
It’s been a while since I’ve finished the last book in a longer series. Final books are always a double-edged sword for me: on the one hand, I can’t wait to see how everything turns out and to find some sort of closure. On the other hand, this is the final goodbye. Although I’ve only known the characters in Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series for a bit over a year, the thought that I’ll never read about Kaylee, Tod, Nash, Sabine & co again hurts – even if I’m happy with the way their story ended!

The ending of Before I Wake left me reeling. So many dead! Emma in a new body. Her sister still pregnant. Avari and the other hellions still a threat. Well, let me say that Kaylee is sick and tired of being threatened. In this last book of the series, she is struggling with an emotion we previously don’t notice as much in her: anger. Such a wealth of it, in fact, that she captures the attention of Ira, a hellion of Wrath. Now before you think ‘great, another hellion is just what she needed’ let me tell you that Ira is quite different from the other hellions in the books. He’s dangerous as they come, of course, but I actually… liked him. I was fascinated by him. That fact that he’s described as rather handsome didn’t hurt, neither did his obvious distaste for Avari. And though his price is steep, he could help Kaylee free herself from Avari… if she is willing to pay.

Want a taste of him? There you go...
"I am the hot thrum of blood rushing through your veins. Every thud of knuckles against flesh is the cry of my true name. I am the glint of rage in your ex's eyes, the livid grinding of his teeth. My pulse is the wave of anger washing over the crowd. The swin of a corpse from the noose. The final twitch of a man murdered in revenge. I know you, Kaylee Cavanaugh. I know you very, very well, and I can give you what you want most in the world." (With All My Soul, page 82)

I really liked that we got to see Kaylee angry for once: It only makes sense. The book starts with Emma’s funeral, which Emma is attending in the body of the girl that used to be Lydia. Then there is Emma’s sister, pregnant with an incubus baby and determined to keep it even though it will probably be her death sentence. Furthermore, Avari has once more abducted some of the people that are most precious to her. In short, Kaylee has every right to be pissed and she wants to free herself and her loved ones of this hellion threat once and for all.

Yet as always, she isn’t alone in this mess, and there are a lot of discussions among the group about taking risks. I liked this because the others called Kaylee out on her sometimes a bit hypocritical habit of wanting to face all the dangers for those she loves and not granting others their right to do the same thing. The group dynamic and dialogue in the book were fantastic, as always! Sabine is of course a great addition to that, and I love how she gets so many mean-but-true lines!

Emma’s character arc was another part of the book I really enjoyed. The transition from one body to another wasn’t exactly smooth for her, and she has to face the truth that she’s actually quite a bit more vain than she thought. Instead of blond, tall, and curvy she is now rather flat and mousy. She isn’t used to nobody paying her any attention. Add to that the fact that Lydia’s body is providing her with a new set of abilities she is struggling to control, and that she has to watch her family mourning her own death. Oh, and let’s not forget that her body is technically that of an asylum escapee… and you know how hard these places are to check out of, right?

Then, of course, there’s the romance *sigh* I love Tod and Kaylee so much. They have the type of relationship I’d hope to find with someone one day. They support one another but give each other their space. I love how they’re equal to each other, able to stand on their own, but stronger together. And yes, we do get some wonderful, swoon-worthy scenes between the two of them… but also plenty bittersweet ones. Especially towards the ending, when Kaylee has to make a difficult and painful decision.

I don’t really know what else I can talk about without spoilers. Let’s just say that even though With All My Soul didn’t pack the same emotional punch that If I Die and Before I Wake had for me (I don’t know why, might just be me/the mood I was in) it is definitely a worthy conclusion to the series! It continues the great mixture of painful/gruesome scenes and fun dialogue I enjoy so much. Once it gets going, you will not want to put it down, and there’s a twist I really wasn’t expecting!

In the end, all the plot strands and questions are resolved, but there is also a certain openness regarding the futures of those who survive, which I think is a great balance. Ira is a surprising but genius addition to the series and I’m kind of sad that we only get to spend one book with him. If you’ve been scared to read this last book and see the series end I can tell you this: it will not be painless, but it will leave you satisfied, so go out and get it already ;)

Have you read With All My Soul already, or started the series at all? What are your thoughts? Any remarks on my review? Let me know in the comments :)

Promo and Guest Post: I'm With Stupid, by Geoff Herbach

Hey guys!
Today I'm part of a promo tour for the last book in Geoff Herbach's Stupid Fast series. The first two books are called Stupid Fast and Nothing Special. This is a bit different from the usual genre of books I feature here but I liked the description and the way Herbach discusses the books and high school stereotypes on his website. Below you can find more information about the book as well as an exclusive guest post about the author's own time in high school - hint: it's hilarious XD

Release date: May 8, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, 320 pages

Felton Reinstein has never been good with stress. Which is why he's seriously freaking out. Announcing his college choice on national TV?

It's a heart attack waiting to happen. Deciding on a major for the next four years of his life? Ridiculous! He barely even knows who he is anymore without football. And so...he embarks on The Epic Quest to Be Meaningful.

Which leads to:

1. Mentoring a freshman called Pig Boy.
2. The entire state of Wisconsin hating him.
3. His track coach suspending him.
4. The funniest viral video the world has ever seen.
5. A whole new appreciation for his family, his friends and what what's really important in life.


The Lover?

I was a geek and not a geek. I was a jock and not a jock. I tripped over my own feet and my ears turned red and I played the cello. Also, I turned into an all-conference football player and held the triple jump record at my school for twenty years.

When we think about jocks and geeks, we so often picture these monolithic stereotypes. We assume a gamer is a guy who sits in the basement all summer long drinking Code Red Mountain Dew, while the debate team captain reads the New York Times in the sunroom. Truth is, most kids exist in the brackish water between the extremes. I certainly did. I loved my cello. I also wanted to run linebackers over on the football field.

I’m not sure if this is a small-school deal, but no one ever said a single word to me about being an orchestra dork. No one called me names or pushed me around. I played with impunity. I wore a white dinner jacket and a bow tie. I loved Kris, the first cellist, so much. I wanted to take her curly head into my arms and kiss her hard.

Even though I played football, no one seemed scared of me or gave me any extra credit or an easier path. Football was just a game. I really loved Maureen, the head cheerleader. I wanted to take her sweet-smelling brown-haired head into my arms and kiss her hard.

I’m discovering, as I write this, that I wanted to kiss other girls. All girls. In fact, the feeling that dominates my remembrances of high school is colored, almost entirely, by how much I felt great love and admiration for nearly every girl I met. I wanted to make them soup. I wanted to cook them pizzas and mix them up some Crystal Lite.

I remember creating an air-conditioner out of buckets of ice and a large window fan for Maureen. She was hot after a day of lifeguarding at the local pool. I sat her in a chair in front of the fan and I ran to the store and bought her ice cream. I spoon fed her that ice cream.

My God, it’s possible I wasn’t a geek or a jock. It’s possible I was a love-obsessed freak jacked on hormones with random cello and football playing proclivities.

I wrote long love letters to Michelle Faherty. I never gave her a single one of them. I’d sit in the backyard, staring at her house across the block, and I would write about our marriage and our kids and our boat and our dog and how we’d make snow angels after Christmas dinner.

Thank God I didn’t have texting or messaging.

If I grew up now, I might be in jail for stalking. I rode my bike past Tracy Hallgren’s house 86 times one day. When I had a driver’s license, I drove past a giant constellation of girls’ houses. I wanted to make tacos for all of them. I wanted to give them all back rubs. I wanted to buy them all engagement rings.

If I’d had Facebook, I would’ve been so in all their businesses. If the only phone in the house hadn’t been connected to the wall in the kitchen, but always in my hand, I would’ve called them all constantly, texted them, messaged them. They’d have known how crazy I really was!

Because I had no phone and no internet, I enjoyed playing cello (next to Kris) and football, where Maureen kicked on the sideline. I never once went to jail.

I was a lover of the ladies.

What do you think of the book premise or guest post? Have you read any of the previous books in the series? Let me know in the comments :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Get To Know Me post: some favorite TV shows & the future of this feature

Hey guys :)

Since Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer had to cut back on blogging a bit and will only be doing the Know Me Better meme sporadically, I've decided that I will do my own version for the time being. To be honest, I've been planning a different Sunday feature for months now but I never seem to get around to the bits like making a banner (bad photo skills, terrified of copyright issues) and writing an intro post. And just now with having to move and all that (just yesterday my dad & sister carted three big boxes of books and CDs and DVDs out of my room to store at the family house... it felt like defeat, like there's no way I'll find a new apartment in time) I'm just not in the right frame of mind to write a topic about something I'm as passionate about as I am about the content of that feature and make it good.

So instead, the awesome Micheline from Lunar Rainbows had the idea that I could do a post or series of posts about favorite stuff. And well... since I talk about books alll the time on here and because many favorite lists like book boyfriends or whatnot can be found among my Top Ten Tuesday posts, I'd like to branch out a bit to other things in life. I guess it will mostly be nerdery like TV shows or movies or bands but maybe I could also do photo posts of cities / countries I've been to or would like to go to one day. You guys seemed to like that post about Barcelona I did in late January. I'd try to keep them a bit bookish too, if possible (I love visiting foreign book stores).
If there's any topic you'd like me to talk about or questions you'd like me to answer or whatever, just tell me in the comments or send me a tweet :)

So... for today  I think I'll talk a bit about favorite TV shows. Why? Because last night and this morning I finally started catching up on the new season of Game of Thrones. And I realized that 1) damn do I love this show and 2) damn who was that guy again and what did he do? Yeah... loads of characters. And I like to keep track of even the minor ones so I don't miss all the underlying complications and implied threats etc. But honestly I think the series is fantastic. The intro alone is epic. So many strong women characters! You have admire even the evil ones...
I don't own this image. I just thought Arya looked fab.

And of course the setting and the clothes are so realistic! And the dialogue. Not to forget the cinematic aspects of how it's all made, the angles from which they film, the switching from one setting point to another... my sister could tell you more about that, she studies film. But even I notice stuff like that because we discussed it in my English classes (film adaptations of novels) and I always appreciate great storytelling, no matter whether it's a book or film or music or just someone sitting there and really telling you the story.
Since we're talking favorites: hard to pick here, but I think Arya, John Snow, and Daenerys Targaryen (mother of dragons!). I also like how Sansa evolved! And Tyrion sort of grew on me.

Again, I don't own.
Another HBO series I love is True Blood. I wasn't a huge fan of season 4, but season 5 was a lot better again. And nope, I don't just watch it for the blood and gore and sex. I think they negotiate a lot of issues in that series that are interesting from a theoretic/critical point of view. I actually wrote a paper about season 1 once using Julia Kristeva's idea of the abject, the semiotic, the symbolic, boundary transgression etc. Can't go into too much detail here. And of course again, the way the series is made is great! I also like how it veered away from the books and is doing its own thing. And well... there's Eric ^^' I hated him at the beginning. I truly did. Then I started hating Bill and appreciating Eric. And... now I'll shut up and re-watch some favorite scenes :P

This post is getting rather long... another series I love is Vampire Diaries, but DO NOT TELL ME ABOUT IT because I'm awfully behind and I don't want to hear about any spoilers!! Why I love it: great characters, great acting, Damon Salvatore, and they cram stuff that would take other shows a season to sort out into one episode. Also, it's hard to say who's really the bad guy.

I'd love to watch a lot more series but it takes so much time and I can never stay caught up. I haven't seen any Bones past season 5, even though I love the show. I haven't started American Horror Story, or Misfits, or Revenge, or watched more of Supernatural (yet to start season 3) or 2 Broke Girls (my sister made me watch a few episodes and we laughed our asses off together). I try to watch Grimm on Mondays when it's on German TV.

Find this pic here. And read the manga, it's gorgeous :)
I also used to watch a lot of Anime, but again I'm behind. In the case of Bleach, I'm behind more than a year. Some animes I've seen all episodes of and love are Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler <333), Vampire Knight, Wolf's Rain, Death Note (watched nearly all... in 2009. But I bought all the mangas). I also liked D. Gray Man and Hellsing (only the OVAs, not the 12 or so episode version). I watched a lot more anime but I don't remember all of them at the moment. When I was a kid I loved Sailor Moon, Pokémon (until they kept inventing too many new ones that were less awesome), Digimon (up to the end of season 3), Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Mila Superstar (you know, that volley ball playing girl), and a really old show from the 90s that would translate to Planet of the Dinosaurs. It was about a bunch of kids from the marine club of their school getting into a storm with their ship and being spirited away to a medieval-ish world where humans co-existed with dinosaurs.

Sorry for another terribly long post... can't believe I confessed to all the anime :P
Do we have any beloved series in common? Did I list any you hate? Let's battle it out discuss ;)
Also, if you have ideas for future topics in this feature, let me know! Same if you're also doing something Know Me Better-ish on your blog! Leave a link, I'd love to check it out :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Confessions of Legendary Likenesses and fiery Graves in Peru

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

I got a bit more books this week :) Maybe it's because I was feeling bad so I bought myself something pretty. I don't know. This apartment-hunting stuff really grates on me :(
Anyway, here's what I got this week.

From NetGalley:

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend, by Louise Rozett
A Fatal Likeness, by Lynn Shepherd

I really enjoyed Confessions of an Angry Girl (my review) and with the way it ended I just HAD to have the sequel! Thank you, Harlequin UK :)
A Fatal Likeness caught my eye on Netgalley, I hadn't heard of it before. But the time period and the involvement of Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley intrigued me. It's also been a while since I've read a literary novel that isn't 100+ years old.


Legend, by Marie Lu

People have been raving about it for ages and I always thought it sounded interesting. I was at the bookstore and it was fairly cheap for a book around here (13 bucks for a paperback is a bargain), so I got it :)


Destiny's Fire, by Trisha Wolfe
What Really Happened in Peru, by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan
Magic Graves, by Jeaniene Frost & Ilona Andrews

I've had Destiny's Fire on my wishlist for a while. I don't remember why I got it just now, maybe it was a bit cheaper than usual or otherwise highlighted somewhere. Anyhow, I'm curious about it!
And I just had to have Magnus Bane's adventure ;) I also can't wait to see what a collabo of Sarah and Cassie reads like!
As for Magic Graves, I didn't know it existed until a couple days ago. I was reading book 6 in Jeaniene's Night Huntress series and checking for the next release dates when I saw that she's written a couple novellas I don't have in any of my anthologies yet. This is also a chance for me to finally check out Ilona Andrews :)

What do you think of my haul? Have you read any of these and can urge me to move them up in my pile? Also, please leave a link to you own haul :)
While you're here: I have 2 giveaways going on at the moment, one for Flight, a YA sci-fi with harpies, and one for Marking Time, a YA time travel/paranormal/urban fantasy which I loved and also marks my first author interview! Both of them are open internationally.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I-Am-Wowed Review, Author Interview & Giveaway: Marking Time, by April White

Hey guys :)

This is a really special post for me because it includes my first-ever author interview! I enjoyed April White's novel Marking Time so much and was super happy when she agreed to answer a couple questions. You can find that part below my review (which is very long but I'm not sorry because it's one of the best books I've read all year) and I also decided to do a giveaway for a kindle copy because I want more people to discover and love this novel  - you're welcome ;)

So what's it all about...

Release date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Corazon Entertainment
Format: kindle or paperback, 443 pages

Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything... a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between
centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time.

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life.

The following review is based on a copy provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

Spoilerfree review
This review is so difficult to write because there is no way I can convey to you just how blown away I was by this book, especially without spoiling the experience! Marking Time was even better than I hoped, though it was also different from what I expected. The summary led me to believe that it started out in the present and then did a one-time move to the past, but instead our heroine, Saira, moves between the Victorian age and the present several times – it’s a time travel book! And honestly, the best one I have ever read. But it’s more than just that, it also combines this with vampires, shifters, and other types of gifted people unique to April White’s world. Need more? There’s also a boarding school for said gifted teens, and it now has a spot among my favorite imaginary places (can't beat secret passages and awesome architecture). Still not convinced? It’s a new take on Jack the Ripper, too. And nope, these elements do not jar with one another at all! They are all well-developed and contribute to the story.

Another thing that was wonderfully developed was the characters. Saira was such a refreshing heroine! Tough, with a big heart and a smart mouth. Self-reliant – so much, in fact, that part of her journey is about learning to trust others. Determined. She has her flaws and quirks but those only made her more rounded and likeable to me. Before you think that you’ve seen that type of heroine before, let me add that she is also a graffiti artist and does free running / parkour. Saira is a great combination of brainy and street smart, something I’d like to see more often. I connected with her pretty much immediately and was involved in everything that happened to her. She hasn’t had it easy in life but she used those experiences to grow stronger instead of succumbing to them or whining. Her story is not just about adventure though, it’s also about family, heritage, and love.

Now Archer… well. The thing is, Saira actually meets him twice: in the past, where he is a student who helps her navigate Victorian London, and in the present, where he is a much more mysterious figure. As you can probably guess from the description, something develops between the two of them. But slowly, and not without complications. I cannot go into more detail without major spoilers, but let me tell you that I was fully invested in seeing their relationship bloom and them having a chance at a life together! Which is why some parts of this book were so hard to read for me. I rooted for both of them so much! Yes, me. The girl who is critical of romance. But Saira and Archer’s connection was believable and not cheapened by insta-love. And then the stakes just got higher and higher and the plot twisted, and every turn wrenched at my heart – this book was so difficult to put down I had to keep reading despite the hurt!

There are quite a lot of secondary characters, but they, too, are memorable and I never had any trouble keeping them straight in my head. There are the teachers at Saira’s school, some of them particularly awesome like Mr Shaw, Saira’s grandmother, who makes her distaste for her granddaughter’s lifestyle obvious, and the friends (and foes) Saira makes at school. My favorite among them, though, is a street kid she meets in the past - ‘Ringo’ really stuck with me and I loved his interactions with Saira! The secondary characters have their own mini-arcs of development and never felt cookie-cutter to me. They really bring new dimensions to the story and add depth.

The most amazing thing though? The world building. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know how I feel about world building. I can endure a lot of dislikes in a book if the world building is awesome. The world building here was off the charts fantastic!!! There was so much more to it than I had expected, and it is wonderfully thought-out! No inconsistencies. No weird coincidences – there is a reason for everything. The time travelling is believable, and I really liked the detail that no Clocker, which is what Saira’s people are called, can travel back into their own life time. That takes care of something that annoys me about many time travel stories, which is the whole ‘running-into-your-old-self’ thing. It’s simply not possible here. I also loved how the method of travelling ties into Saira’s other talents and personality traits. The idea of immortal personifications of ideas such as Time, Death, War, or Nature might not be completely new (it reminded me of the Endless in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series), but the way it is handled and combined here is unique. I really loved finding out about the other descendants’ abilities and histories!

The Victorian age is, again, realistically portrayed in both its light and dark aspects, and I cannot even imagine how much research must have gone into it, from customs to social norms to information about Jack the Ripper to tube lines, the map of the city, and insane asylums. Despite all that, and all the other world building aspects that I cannot mention for spoiler-reasons and that I want you guys to discover on your own, we never get info-dumped. The information comes in gradually and in a natural way. There is enough for the reader to keep up on what’s happening but never so much that it’s overwhelming. It’s the perfect amount to want to know more and keep reading and make up your own theories.

The pacing was also spot on. The action starts right off the bat, which is something I enjoy. However, Saira is not in the dark so long that it gets annoying for the reader who already knows a bit more from the description. The pace is quick and made me want to just keep reading and reading and reading, but it wasn’t too fast. There are books that just leave you breathless or that feel rushed, neither of which was the case here. I was utterly engrossed and also enjoyed the parts of the book that were less on the action side because they established the characters or the world more firmly and let you catch a short break. Marking Time is well over 400 pages long, but it never felt that way, never dragged. I would not have cut a single scene. Even if I sometimes thought I had things figured out, I didn’t.

I want to gush and say so much more, but I can’t because I would give something away and deny you the pleasure of experiencing this book for yourselves. Because I really hope that you will. It’s so original and well-written and I don’t have a single complaint! There are all these little details that are picked up on again and molded into the whole of the story and enrichen it. I wanted to live in it. I know I sound like a silly, smitten person, but I did! This book made me laugh and cry and hope and fear, which I think is all any book can aspire to do. If you are fed up with the ever-same plots and structural relations among characters – read this book. It will surprise you, and hopefully touch you as much as it did me. I am so glad that there will be a sequel, which April White is aiming to release in November. This is one world and set of characters I am so, so not ready to say goodbye to! And I am not at all sorry for making this review as long as it is.

APRIL WHITE has been variously a film producer, private investigator, bouncer, and screenwriter. She writes in the morning before her chickens wake up, follows her husband to the ends of the earth (the Yukon, the jungle) when his work takes him there, and the rest of the time, lives in Southern California with her family, their dog, and said chickens.

Goodreads     Website     Blog     Twitter


What sparked the initial idea of Marking Time, and how did the book come about? You combine quite a few elements in a really unique way – was that the plan from the beginning?

My 18-year-old niece is an obsessive reader, pretty much like all the women in our family, and I was putting together a box of books to give her, using the “I’m buying it for Alexandra so I get to read it first” excuse. I read some amazing YA books I’d never heard of like The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner, Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. These women were writing fantasy like I used to read in college, and it reminded me how much I loved the genre.

Some of those fantasy novels from college, like On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony and The Ivanhoe Gambit, by Simon Hawke inspired the mythology in Marking Time. There are certain rules for things like time travel and vampires that just make sense to me and in Marking Time I got to create a world where all those paranormal and mythological things I love actually exist.

I’m fascinated by history, especially historical mysteries. And like my main character, Saira, I love anything secret, hidden, or underground. So time travel through secret portals to the age of Jack the Ripper was exactly what I would want to read, along with a kick-butt heroine with a slightly snarky sense of humor, dad-issues, and self-reliance that borders on pathological. Basically, I put together all the elements of a story that I would want to read.

Why did you decide to self-publish, and what was your way/background as a writer?

I had wanted to be a storyteller since I was a kid, and I’ve been a screenwriter for ten years. But it was hard to work up the courage to finally write a novel. Like the old studio system in Hollywood, I felt the publishing industry had controlled content to the point where if they didn’t believe a book could hit big in the first three months, they weren’t willing to take a risk. The rise in independent publishing, especially via amazon, createspace and smashwords has definitely changed the game for writers. And with those options in my back pocket, spending two years pouring my heart, soul and dreams into my first novel didn’t seem like such a crazy thing to do.

I did try the traditional publishing route and submitting to an embarrassing number of agents, but the few who sent back personalized rejections really did me the biggest favor. “I love the original concept and your writing is great, but I just can’t sell a manuscript this long to a publisher.” In that first round of queries, Marking Time was 182,000 words long. I was able to cut it down to 151,000 words and those which were all really good cuts. But it was still too long for traditional agents and publishers to consider for a debut novel. So, after considering every possible way to slash a third of the book away, and with my self-confidence somewhere down around my ankles, I finally pulled the independent publishing card out of my back pocket. As soon as I made that decision to publish it myself, I got my confidence back, learned everything I needed to know about formatting, finally designed a cover I could love that didn’t relegate the book to the chicks-only market, and had it out on amazon within a month.

Do you have any writing quirks? (music, snacks, something that must (not) be present, location, ‘casting’ your characters…)

I am a compulsive snacker while I write, and I have to consciously reign myself in and just put a bowl of raw almonds on my desk, or I’d weigh 300 pounds. The best time for me to write is around 4 or 5am, long before anyone else in my house gets up. Then I write while my kids are at school, because after they get home I’m pretty much useless for anything creative the rest of the night.

I’m also fairly obsessive about getting details right. If the place I’m writing about actually exists and I haven’t personally been there, I do every kind of internet research imaginable so I don’t make glaring errors. If I’m not careful I can end up down internet rabbit holes for days, like when I did all the plant research for Mr. Shaw’s botany class.

What is important to you in a book, both as a writer or a reader?

I love strong characters who learn from their mistakes and don’t whine. There’s nothing worse than the totally obtuse girl who can’t believe the stuff is really happening to her. So I want to read about characters I can admire or relate to in some way, because books are investments of time and money, and why would I want to spend either on someone I don’t like?

Tell us a bit about Saira. She made it onto my list of favorite heroines! I loved that she did free running (parkour) and was a graffiti artist! Did she have these attributes from the beginning?

I’ve always been fascinated by graffiti artists and I think Parkour is about the coolest thing on the planet. It’s the way real people can move like super-heroes and it’s how I would want to move through a city if age, physical conditioning and fear were no object. The first thing I knew about Saira was that she was a time traveler. Graffiti and Parkour helped to make her a loner in the “normal” world, and get explained a bit by her unknown heredity in the world of the Immortal Descendants.

Apart from Saira, who did you enjoy writing the most?

Ringo was an unexpected surprise. I didn’t really plan him so much as have him walk up and introduce himself to me as I was writing. And Saira’s banter with Adam was fun for me too. There’s an ease and playfulness to their conversation that siblings might have that’s much different from the significance of Archer’s speech. Mr. Shaw’s classes were also fun to write because he teaches things my character and I both love to learn about.

Which parts of the book were the most difficult to write?

Action scenes are hard to write. In screenwriting the action writing is terse and direct – I can count on the stunt coordinator, director and actors to take what’s on the page and turn it into something exciting. But writing about Parkour when I’ve never been free-running in my life feels a lot like I’m just making sh*! up. I ran a lot of those scenes past my husband, who is a film and TV director, and he could always “see” how the scene would play in the movie, so I could write it more visually.

What has been your most treasured experience during the writing process or after the publication of Marking Time?

I had the opportunity to speak to nine high school English classes over two days about writing and publishing Marking Time. So I brought in every book I could think of that I loved, or that went into the formulation of the story/mythology/characters, and I spent much of the class time talking about everyone else’s books. Each of those classes, from Freshman Lit to the Senior Honors students were amazing to talk to, and the most gratifying thing of all was after every class there was a line at the front to write down the names of the books I’d brought with me. I seriously LOVE readers, and the most satisfying thing in the world is recommending a book to someone that they could love as much as I do.

Thanks so much for doing this interview, April! I loved hearing about your journey as a writer and I think your background in film really shows because there is a strong visual quality to your writing that I enjoyed a lot! Also, respect for getting up so early in the morning to write - I'm definitely too night-owly for that...

As for you, dear readers, I would love to hear your opinions on the interview, my review, or the premise of the book in general! Also, as promised you can enter the rafflecopter below to win a copy of Marking Time, to be gifted via Amazon by yours truly.

Rules: Open internationally to anyone at least 13 years of age who can accept a kindle gift via Amazon (B&N won't let me buy from them since I don't have a US address). I will email the winner and they have 48 hours to get back to me before I draw a new one. Only one entry per person/household. If you cheat on one entry, all of them will be deleted. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Discussion: what ultimately makes you pick one book over another?

Hello lovelies :)

I've decided to try my hand at a discussion post again and I want to aim at making those a more frequent feature if I can. I really enjoyed the last one, where we talked about romance.

Today's topic is something I think about quite a lot and find really interesting to compare with other poeple.

What ultimately makes you decide you want to read/buy a book?

I'm not talking about finding it vaguely interesting, I mean that moment when you really make the decision 'I am buying this instead of the 10+ others around it' at the bookstore or put it on your 'I really really want to read this' list or the moment you choose it from the unread ones on your shelves. How do you decide what to read and what to pass on?

The cover
I think that's an important point for many people. We do judge books by their covers, for better or worse. Is it pretty? Shocking? Appealing? Does it stand out because of colors/font? Quite often I need only look at the cover to guess the genre.
Personally, I love looking at pretty covers. They often make me pick up a book and turn it around to read the description. But that doesn't mean I auto-buy the book. If I read the description and I'm not convinced, I won't buy the book unless I've read some great reviews. I've heard of people preordering/buying books by virtue of the cover alone though. How do you handle it?

The description
I think that's the most important thing to me. If the book sounds like 3 other ones I've already read (very frequent in YA paranormals/dystopians), I will get bored. If it sounds like tons of drama, I'll put it away. But if it intrigues me, I will buy it no matter how ugly I think fhe cover is. So one of my absolute pet peeves is books who have a lot of review quotes on their back instead of actual info of what they are about! I don't care what these people thought, the publishers only put the positive reviews on there anyway!
How do you feel about descriptions? Do you read them? Does a book sounding similar to another one you've already read make you more or less likely to buy it?

The title
This is tricky. If the cover got my attention, I often don't read the title before I've read the description on the back. I tend to skip big, bold text and get to the details immediately. Weird, I know. I often skip newspaper headlines. However, if the book is not lying on one of those tables but on the shelf, all you have is the title on the back of the book. So then it really depends on whether it sounds interesting to me. Is it funny? Does it have some of my favorite words in it? That will make me pull out the book to see what it's all about.

Length / how 'big' the book is
I don't own this picture. Source.

Some people like huge tomes, others feel daunted by that and prefer thinner volumes. As a teen I felt that anything shorter than 300 pages wasn't worth my time. Now I get fidgety at everything over 500 pages and have learned to appreciate shorter ones. Ultimately though, I don't really care as long as it sounds interesting and is well written.

Reviews / hype
If a book got great reviews from people I trust, I'm more likely to give it a shot even if it's not what I usually read. But I get a bit weary of a book being hyped too much or compared to other, really successful books. ('The new Twilight/Hunger Games!' Even if it has zero to do wit the book that sticker or whatever is on)
How do you feel about that? Does a hype attract you or put you off?

I don't know how to properly describe this but it's actually the most important thing to me. Call me superstitious but some books just call out to me. I see them and I know 'I have to read this'. It's like a jolt. When I read the description, I just know that I'm going to love it and I am right about 90% of the time. It's happened a few times that a lot of people got all excited about a title that just made me shrug my shoulders... and then the negative reviews began to trickle in and they pointed out all the bad stuff I had feared about the book.
Does any one else get this type of hunch about books? Or, you know, for some inexplicable reason pull one from the shelf only to think 'oh my god this sounds amazing'? Call me silly but I think that for each of us, there are books we are just meant to read, and they will find their way to us somehow.

There are many more factors that I think come into play, such as having read the author's other work, read an interview, the genre, your mood... feel free to discuss those too, or anything else you think I have forgotten! I'd really love to hear how you pick your reads :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Copperhead (Ironskin #2), by Tina Connolly

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

My pick this week:

Release date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Goodreads description:
The sequel to Tina Connolly's stunning historical fantasy debut.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask. Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in the murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart.

I had the chance to read and review the first book in the series, Ironskin, which follow's Jane's life (my review). I'm surprised that Helen is now the focus, but I think she has great potential for growth as a character exactly because she wasn't all that likeable in book one. Now that war has broken out, I'm very curious about what will happen and how Helen will deal with the situation she landed herself in!
Have you read Ironskin? What do you think of my pick / the idea of a historical novel with evil fey? Also, leave a link to the book you chose to feature this week :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I thought I'd like more/less than I did

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week the participants post their top ten to a specific topic.

This week's topic is about books that we liked more or less than we'd expected before reading them. I think I'll give you some of both :)

Books I liked more than I thought I would:

Glenraven_27's books I liked more than I thought album on Photobucket

The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff
I'd heard great things about her writing but wasn't sure the topic was for me. I should have paid more attention when reading the blurb. Anyhow, I bought this one when the paperback was on sale for 3 euros or so. IT TORE MY HEART OUT. Seriously, I hurt so much when I read it! My chest tightened up. I ached. I put a ton of sticky notes into it! I savored every word! And I resolved to read all the rest of Brenna's books. And of course to re-read this one many times.

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
I heard everyone swooning over it, but honestly if I hadn't won a giveaway and the only not-yet-claimed book that appealed to me was this I might have never read it. What a shame that'd have been! It got me more interested in contemporaries again after almost 10 years of reading nearly only fantasy/paranormal books!

The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa
I know! Again, a huge hype. But I just doubted that Julie could do vampires after having read the first two (or was it only 1? Can't remember) of her Iron Fey books. Turns out I couldn't put it down and loved it even more than her Fey books! And that coming from a person who was utterly uninterested in dystopias before.

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
Again, I seem to mistrust hypes. Here it was mostly the exact subject matter that put me off though. But after reading Just One Day (sounded more appealing) I had to have it immediately. The day after I finished it I bought Where She Went and read it front to back the same day. It was just that good, and that heartbreaking!

The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting
I was actually sure I'd like this one - I'd been waiting for the paperback for forever. But I was still blown away with just how much I loved it! I was writing a paper about queens during the time and this book fit in perfectly. It's basically a manifestation of the idea of the two bodies of the queen (natural/mortal & politic/enduring --> essence).

Books I liked less than I had hoped:

Glenraven_27's books i liked less than i thought album on Photobucket

Pretty in Black, by Rae Hachton
*sigh* Yeah, I had really hoped I'd love it. But the writing was choppy, the plot at times erratic, and though I enjoyed some of the world building it all just never really came together properly. And I couldn't get behind the romance in the way I had hoped. I bought all three books as a package so I'll continue the series, but I'm not in a hurry.

Darker Still, by Leanna Renée Hieber
I liked it. I actually liked it quite a lot. But I had somehow expected... more. I also found it rather predictable and didn't click with the setting in quite the way I had hoped. Still debating whether or not I'll buy the sequel...

Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire
It was among my first NA books and I'd had hight hopes. College characters! A tattooed guy! But yeah, I'd thought he'd be the musician kind of tattooed, not some super-muscled fighter. That was my bad though, and I just had to readjust. But then their whole 'love' and the way the plot was all over the place and I couldn't get a hold of Abby's actual character and how stupid they sometimes were just turned me off. During the last 15% or so I just continually snorted and rolled my eyes, but I somehow felt like I had to finish. Never again though... *prepares for angry mob*

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick
I really liked Hush, Hush! It wasn't perfect but it kept me intrigued and I adored Patch :) I also got it signed at an author event, so yeah... but Crescendo? Nope. I was really annoyed with Nora and how little she trusted Patch and how she jumped to conclusions. Silence was better. I haven't read Finale yet...

Strange Fates, by Marlene Perez
The world building and general idea were great! But the execution left something to be desired. It started out great but then it couldn't really hold my interest. I couldn't understand what Nyx saw in his sort-of-girlfriend, who'd lied to him more times than I can count. There were aspects I liked and others that were a total let-down. I still have to review it...

So, that's it from me. I'm sure I could have picked other, maybe better-suited books, but I wanted to keep it somewhat recent. Did you have similar/completely opposite thoughts about the books I featured? And what made it onto your lists?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Blitz with Excerpt & Giveaway (Int): Flight, by Lindsay Leggett

Hey guys and welcome to my post on the book blitz for Flight by Lindsay Leggett! As soon as I saw the beautiful cover and read the description for this novel, I new I needed to be part of this! There's more info about the book and author below, as well as an excerpt and an international giveaway for a kindle copy!
The blitz is organized by Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours.

Release date: April 1, 2013
Published via Createspace
Format: ebook / paperback, 273 pages

The first rule of survival in the Underground: When you’re outside, keep your eyes on the skies. Ace Harpy Hunter Piper Madden is used to danger, but the death of her brother slams the brakes on her high-torque lifestyle and leaves her broken and confused.

On the run from the dictating Elder Corporation, she’s eventually found in the quiet undergound city of Ichton and asked to work for the Corp on contract to quell a new and frightening Harpy threat.

Enter the discovery of horrifying Corporation secrets, Harpy attacks, and a new friendship with the strange Asher, and Piper’s days become anything but boring.

Then, a chance encounter leaves Piper privy to a dangerous secret, ad as she and Asher team up in an effort to unravel the truth, the secrets they uncover beneath the ancient walls of the dead city will spark their world into a grand-scale war.

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes&Noble

Doesn't it sound amazing?! I mean, it's about harpies!!! I've never read or heard of a book about harpies before! The world building sound so unique and exciting :)

Nearly every writer struggles to put together information about themselves, perhaps because we’re so used to detailing the lives and ways of others. For the most part I am a writer, editor, photographer, and all-around artist living in the wilds north of Toronto, Ontario. I thrive on the juxtaposition of beauty and grit, enjoy urban crawls, indie everything, and time well-spent in the woods.

 Website     Goodreads     Twitter

When I enter the apartment a loud buzzing pervades the air. I feel around in my coat until I find a tiny, vibrating cell phone. Just like the Corp to plant a tracker on me while I was unconscious. I flip the phone open and bring it to my ear.

“Hello?” I say. I cradle the phone between my head and shoulder as I un-suit myself and kick my boots into the closet.

“Good afternoon, Piper,” a voice sounds. I recognize the gravelly tone instantly.

“Rupert,” I reply. I hear him exhale the thick smoke of his cigar, and it’s almost as if the pungent stink is permeating the phone and into my house.

“It’s good to hear your voice again,” he says dryly. I resist the urge to roll my eyes, picturing him at his desk, cigar in hand, feet raised up as he leans back in his chair.

“Well, I had a pretty good vacation,” I reply. He chuckles slightly.

“Listen, Piper. You took off after David died without even telling anybody. Half of Central thought you were dead. I’m just glad to find you alive and well. Now, tell me about your current situation. How are they treating you?”

“Fine. We’re debriefing tomorrow and running some VR modules. No weapons yet. Actually, I haven’t seen weapons on any of the other Hunters,” I muse. It’s one thing I miss about being a part of the team. My crossbow and daggers used to be like a second skin, sometimes my only companions.

“Too sentimental. What have I always told you?”

“A weapon is only a piece of metal to a sentimental warrior,” I repeat in monotone.

“Good. At least you still remember something. Just try to relax, and call me immediately if you see something that looks suspicious,” he mutters, then hangs up the phone. That’s Rupert’s trademark, deciding when any conversation is over. He took over Elder Corp a few years before I started training heavily, leaving his older brother Raul to a comfortable retirement in the clean beaches of Southern France. He’s one of the only Elder Corp presidents who actually did some time in the field, making him a valuable boss and ally, and sometimes an infuriating slave driver. I click the phone shut and toss it back in my bag, unable to shake his last words from my mind. Suspicious. What exactly is going on around here?

I let myself slide onto my couch, deciding that all of the big questions can wait until tomorrow, especially when I see a note taped onto the coffee table that reads Don’t forget about tonight. Dress cute—Shelley.

* * * *

The venue is at a bar called Trash. It’s a tiny hole in the wall, and one of my regular dives. I try on a few outfits in my room, even debating on raiding Shelley’s closet for something cute before I give up and slip into my favorite jeans, ripped and splattered with paint, and a simple t-shirt. At the last moment before I leave, I let my hair out and shake it so it drapes over my shoulders and dab on a bit of lip-gloss. I guess there’s no harm in trying.

With the Holo-sky glowing the frail purple of twilight, the underground comes alive with bright lights from every shop and restaurant, and as I walk along the sidewalk every door I pass carries a different scent. The food might be genetically altered, but the smell and taste is almost—almost—real. I content myself with watching the people around me; the shopkeepers haggling to sell their wares, the younger kids traveling in groups, their world centered around them for now, and the odd couple holding hands. Sometimes I think there isn’t so much wrong with this underground world. How different would it be on the surface? Eventually the wealthiest will move up to the fresh-air district, but instead of being stuck down here in filth, I wonder if the remaining population will still thrive.

“Hi there!” a light voice sounds from beside me. I whirl around to see the little girl with pigtails, the one I saw in the elevator the other day. Her eyes are bright and she carries a stuffed teddy bear in her hands. I smile at her and look around for her parents, but every adult around seems to be preoccupied with other things. I turn back to her to ask her where they are when she skips off down the street.

“Hey, wait!” I call. I pick up my pace to a fast walk, trying to keep up with her without drawing too much attention to the fact that I’m chasing a child. The way she jogs is so carefree, and she weaves through opposing travelers as if they aren’t even there. My lungs burn slightly as she finally turns off into an alleyway right beside Trash. I slow my pace before following, my mind telling me that something’s off. I look around before continuing, and everything seems normal, from the loud lineup to the bar to the slow, pounding beat coming from within.

I take a deep breath and enter the dark alleyway, but in-stead of finding the little girl, I find the guy from the other day, the one who stole from me. He leans against the brick wall, his raven hair messy against his pale skin, and his eyes are closed. I stand stock-still, just watching him breathe in and out, like he’s trying to focus deeply or push something away. His face is pained, but from here I can see the light brush of freckles across his nose, and the almost graceful way his lean body curves into the wall. I clear my throat finally to announce my presence. His eyes shoot open, but when he sees me, his lips turn upward into the slightest of smiles.

“I knew you’d find me again, Red,” he drawls. I cross my arms in front of me and raise my eyebrows. What is it with this guy? “Because you just happened to lift hundreds of dollars of merchandise from me?” I reply. He chuckles lightly and runs a hand through his hair.

“That, and other things,” he says. I exhale, letting go of the tension in my chest.

“I take it you’ve squared it with Darcy?” I ask. His eyes flicker to me at the mention of her name.

“How do you know Darcy?” he asks. I lean against the wall beside him, facing him, not too close, but close enough that he can’t just take off on me.

“She’s my runner. Said you were her client, among other things,” I reply. To this he laughs loudly, and I don’t want to admit it, but his smile is infectious. Shelley’s words run through my head: Don’t get involved with another user.

“Darcy, as it happens, is my sister, so don’t worry, things are square. I didn’t know that you were her seller, though,” he says. I raise an eyebrow, almost like a challenge.

“Well, you don’t really know me, do you?” I reply.

“Not yet, anyway,” he says. I want to call him an arrogant bastard and go into the bar to meet Shells, but a part of me is actually enjoying his pompous banter. I never said I had good taste in men.

“So what happens now, then?” I say. He moves closer to me until he’s right beside me, his body so close to me I can feel his breath on my neck and smell the rich musk of his cologne. He leans in toward my ear.

“Now, Red, I’ve got to go into that bar and play a few sets,” he whispers, sending shivers down my spine.

“You’re in the band?” I ask. He grins wickedly before walking past me and knocking on the side door.

“Baby, I am the band,” he says. The bouncer opens the door and lets him in, and all the while I stand in the alley, still trying to catch my breath.


Oh wow. I don't know about you guys but I really want to see what happens next!! Who exactly is this guy? Why and what did he steal from Piper? What is life like in this underground world?
Well, you have a chance to enter a giveaway and find out! Just fill out the rafflecopter below, and don't forget to read the rules :)


  • Open internationally.
  • Kindle copies only!
  • One entry per person / household
  • I will check ALL entries BEFORE picking a winner. Cheating on one entry means I delete you completely.
  • The winner has 48hours to respond to my email, after that I will pick someone new.
  • I will pass on the winner's information to the tour host and am not responsible for what happens after that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: The Vain Testing of Darkness

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

This week was another one with not that many books. I've just gotten the notice that I have to leave my apartment by the end of May so I'm refraining from ordering any print books (I have to move 300 of them as it is). If I can't find a new place in the next 3 weeks, and that's what it looks like at the moment, I'll have to temporarily move back in with my parents and sister. Which sucks for several reasons, mostly costs, travel length, and paperwork. I really really hope the household gods will smile upon me with the next half dozen apartment applications I'll send out...

Anyhow, here are my new books!

For tour / review:

The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau
Darkness of Light, by Stacey Marie Brown

Thank you, Netgalley and Rockstar Book Tours!
Isn't the cover of Darkness and Light a beauty?! I just couldn't resist signing up for the tour, especially once I'd read the description! My post goes up on May 10.
I actually got The Testing last week but forgot to put it in my post. I've heard great things but it sounds extremely similar to The Hunger Games to me. Guess I'll see for myself...

Won during the Book Blogger Twitter Con:

Pacifier 6: The Shadows Within, by Geoffrey Wakeling

Thank you, Geoffrey and Parajunkee!

eBook from Amazon:

Vain, by Fisher Amelie

I've had my eyes on it for a while and after reading some great reviews, I bought it when it was on sale for 99 cent.

*Latecomers I just bought because they're on sale on Amazon*

The Assassin and the Desert, by Sarah J. Maas
The Assassin and the Underworld, by Sarah J. Maas
The Assassin and the Empire, by Sarah J. Maas

These Throne of Glass prequels are usually 2-3$ from my location and were now around 1, so I had to get them :) I read the first one, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, immediately after the novel and enjoyed it. I know many people are fed-up with novellas but I like that short format - I just wish they didn't have ridiculous prices such as 9$ from my location when they're 3$ in the US. I'm looking at you, Neverfall!

As for what's been going on here on the blog, my review for the Fate War: Alliance tour went up yesterday. It's a great Steampunk romance, also for those of you who are not experienced with Steampunk. You should check it out, there's a giveaway too ;)

What do you guys think of my haul? Have you read/heard of the books? And what did you get this week?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway for Fate War:Alliance by E.M. Havens

Hi everyone and welcome to my post on the Fate War: Alliance tour! Below you can find more info about the book and author as well as my review and a giveaway of an Amazon GC and 3 ebooks. This is one of my Non-YA reviews, just to let you guys know.

Release date: February 25, 2013
Format: ebook, 270 pages

Goodreads description:
Prince Cole meets Samantha when she walks down the aisle. Though she seems like the polished women he is familiar with, there is something different. She is complicated and full of mystery. Her dowry comes with a promise of air ships and mech capable of defense against their common enemy and for his country to survive, he must unravel her secrets. It is only when each accepts their destinies can they save their people from the plans of the Fate Sovereign.

If you’re looking for a steamy romance, a strong, smart heroine and interesting gadgets, this is the book for you! Fate War is a swords and guns, love and war, Steampunk inspired story that is sure to get your pistons pumping.

Who is E.M. Havens? I’m a lot of things. The word that seems to define me most at the moment is
mom. It can be all consuming. Not only am I a mom of three (one of them is a teenager…pity me), but I also home-school (pity me more). I share this awesome responsibility with the love of my life, best friend, and soul-mate husband.

Add to that, the twenty-five chickens, twelve turkeys, ten guineas, nine pigs, three barn cats, two Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, a Chihuahua, a house cat, and a goose, it makes for one crazy, full, and certainly entertaining life.

Somewhere in there I find the time to write. I started out young writing poems, then moved on to songs. I actually have a Bachelor in Music with a secondary in Science because I can’t stand English. Yes, the writer hates English. I like to read the story for the experience of reading the story, not to nitpick each letter and comma. But I digress.

I eventually found blogging and really enjoyed sharing my life that way. When an unfortunate turn of events separated me from my music equipment, I decided to use my overactive imagination, my love of reading, and my new found hobby, prose writing, to release some of my creative energy. I wrote my first novel and loved the experience. Fate War: Alliance is actually the second novel I wrote and the first to be published. Now I’m working on my third and several sequels to Fate War!

So that’s pretty much me, sitting in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, reading, writing, collecting eggs from the coop, and being a schoolmarm. It’s a pretty great life.

Blog     Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads

The following review is based on a book copy I got from the tour organizers in exchange for my honest opinion.

I had no clear idea what to expect when I started reading Fate War: Alliance, I was just hoping for a great steampunk read and that was the main reason why I signed up to be part of the tour. While the steampunk elements are there and well-done, the book very much focuses on the romance and on how Samantha and Cole eventually grow closer to one another despite severe obstacles. I’m not a fan of cheesy romance, so you’ll be happy to know that I loved the way it was handled here! The emotional connection between the characters is well-forged and believable, which made the steamy (terrible pun, I know) scenes so much more meaningful and enjoyable.

The book begins with a prologue where we get to know Princess Sam, then aged 11, and Prince Cole, aged 18. Then it skips ten years ahead to the actual events of the book. I’m mentioning this because the fierce Sam we meet then, and the Sam we re-meet seen through Cole’s eyes ten years later when she’s about to marry him are vastly different! Neither of the two spouses really wants this marriage, but it is needed to forge an alliance between their countries against the Fate army. Neither kingdom can stand against their technologically advanced soldiers alone, so they need to unite their forces and combine the mechanic knowledge of Sam’s people with the force of Cole’s father’s army.

The story is narrated in the third person and switches between Cole and Sam. I really enjoyed being in both of their heads, and their character-voices are clearly distinguished and well-drawn! I never felt distant from them simply because the novel is not told in the first person. Both characters have secrets and dark pasts, and it is immediately clear that something has happened to Sam that completely broke her will. She has been taught to do anything her husband will desire of her and completely submit to him, suppressing her own nature. When Cole encourages her to speak for herself and share her opinion, she believes he is testing her and setting her up to fail, while Cole is frustrated that his wife appears to be a vapid, artificial airhead. Not an easy obstacle to overcome, especially after a scene in the beginning that was very hard to read and might upset some people.

A great part of the novel is about Cole trying to find new ways to get through to Sam and rekindle her spirit. He wants to make this marriage work, and unlike most nobles, he actually wants a smart wife at his side as an equal. He is the outsider at court, never adhering to its strict rules. He used to shun responsibility for anything, and I really enjoyed seeing him grow into a more focused, determined person. Once he and Sam understand one another better, the two of them are an amazing team and a force to be reckoned with. Their dialogue is honest and fun, and their bedroom scenes are well-written, but I need to point out that they very much fall into the Adult category, so younger readers… you heard me. Now proceed at your own discretion ;)

As for Sam, she remains a bit of an enigma for a long time. She skirts away from certain trains of thought, so she remains a mystery to the reader nearly as much as to Cole. The distribution of information in this novel was critical, and E.M. Havens managed to pull it off extremely well! Despite the reader’s lack of knowledge, Sam’s character is clearly graspable and fleshed-out, as the broken pieces of her slowly begin to heal and come back together and her full potential unfolds. I felt so sorry for her at many points!

So yes, as you gathered from above, there is definitely no insta-love here! The romance is slow-building and wonderful. The first part of the book is definitely more character-focused, with the war that led to Sam and Cole’s union slipping mostly into the background. That is my minor point of critique: how much of a threat the Fate Army posed was never really felt by me until much closer to the end. We were told about it, but not shown for quite a while. I think incorporating a couple more action scenes to drive that threat home earlier would have been good – even though I liked the slow romance and coming to care about the characters, there is a tiny drag in that part of the book, though I never lost interest. I promise, in the final third or so you will not want to put it down as mysteries unravel and twist and everything the characters hold dear is at stake!

Now, on to the steampunk elements. I think this novel is great for both people who are familiar with the genre as well as those who are not. The gadgets and tinkering in the book are awesome, but not overwhelming. There are not page-long descriptions of mechanisms or a ton of new words to learn, so fear not, rookies! The technology actually makes sense and really adds to the plot, both the action and the emotional part. The world building was great in general, there was enough to ground the reader in the beginning, but no big info-dump! Everything came in gradually and has to be inferred, the reader is never spoon-fed or belittled but also not left floundering in unfamiliar territory.

So, overall? A novel with wonderfully fleshed-out characters that surprise you, great world-building, a slow but passionate romance, a couple twists that will make your jaw drop, and gadgets you will want to own for yourself. The action curve is a little low at the beginning but skyrockets near the end, with multiple plot-twists, airship battles, and anything else your little steampunk heart could desire. Most things are nicely tied-up, but there are also subplots I still want answers for and that will make for a great sequel. Fans of both High Fantasy and Steampunk with quirky, strong characters will definitely enjoy this!

P.S.: by the way, this is one of the most beautifully-designed ebooks I’ve read so far! The chapter headings were so beautiful, with a cogs-and-wheels type design! A minor detail, but definitely one I loved :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway