Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Asylum, by Madeleine Roux

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

Release date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Harper Children's
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Goodreads description:
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

I love stories featuring old asylums and secrets. And with a cover as awesome as this, creepiness is sure to ensue! I also love that there will be photos included - that was the case with In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters and that book was amazing! I'm glad this one is out so soon :)
What do you guys think of it, and what book are you featuring this week?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Beginnings and Endings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week's topic is about our favorite beginnings and endings of books

This is really hard because while I often think "This is an awesome way of beginning a book!" it's kind of hard to remember these things when you should put them on a list...

Here goes in no particular order:

Great opening lines

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
I love this beginning! It made me immediately want to keep reading!

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - Stephen King
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
One of my all-time favorite series. I read this sentence when I was 15 and I was hooked.

The Demon's Lexicon - Sarah Rees Brennan
"The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favourite sword under the sink."
I devoured this book. Evil magicians, demons, swords under the sink, and tons of snarky humor! And Nick is one of a kind.

Der Process (The Trial) - Franz Kafka
"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested."
("Jemand musste Josef K. verleumdet haben, denn ohne dass er etwas Böses getan hätte, wurde er eines Morgens verhaftet.")
I know many hate Kafka (at least the whole class apart from me did) but I really like his style and the way the power dynamics in his stories work, as well as the way he uses space and dimensions. This translation isn't bad, although 'wrong' should actually be something more like 'evil'.

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
"It was a pleasure to burn. It was a pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed."
Amazing book! If you love reading at all, you've got to read this at some point.

And some favorite closing lines:

On the Road - Jack Kerouac
"The evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."
Not my favorite quote from the book, but still a good way to open things up and round off the story.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
"This is what I knew: I was trapped in my body, in that bed, at that moment. But even as I looked out through the windows of my eyes, through the bars of my prison, I knew i wouldn't be trapped forever. They rattled my cage to see if I'd bite. When they released me, they'd see the answer was yes."
Go get them, Mara! This series is soooo good, after that ending I just can't wait for the last book!

The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
"I reached for Tate, feeling for the warmth of her hand, and linked my fingers through hers. The only thing that mattered was the weight of her head on my shoulder. Our lives were limitless and unknowable, not perfect, but ours. This was life in Gentry. This is just what we do."
This book has SO many quotable lines, but I just really like this ending as well. It works perfectly.

White Cat - Holly Black
"Marks think they can get something for nothing. Marks think they can get what they don't deserve, and could never deserve. Marks are stupid, and pathetic, and sad. Marks think they're going to go home one night and have the girl the loved since they were a kid suddenly love them back. Marks forget that whenever something's too good to be true, that's because it's a con."
This is an amazing ending because it's the epitome of Cassel's voice, and an important motif in the whole series. I also like it because it is bitter... which is a quote in itself.

Some Quiet Place - Kelsey Sutton
"Fear tries to snatch the keys, but I manage to jerk them away just in time. He scowls down at me. 'The world can spin without me for a few minutes, woman. Come on, I've never driven before.' I laugh, a sound that he cuts short with a kiss that tastes of strawberries and terror."
This is a pretty random choice. It's a book I read fairly recently, and I just really like the ending.

Once more, most of these choices were quite random. It was hard to actually find opening sentences because most of my books are boxed up somewhere so it's not like I can snatch them from the shelf and look up beginnings and endings. But I really like the ones I came up with! What do you think of them? And what did you choose?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Crowns, Stray Souls, and a Terrible Beauty

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 :)

Whenever I'm in London, I buy quite a few books! This time it wasn't as many as I'd anticipated, but hey - at least I could fit them into the suitcase with all the other stuff without driving myself crazy and having a panic attack ;)

So here's what I bought in several stores across London:
Shadows on the Moon, by Zoë Marriott
The Night Itself, by Zoë Marriott
Stray Souls, by Kate Griffin
Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight (ARC), by Sarah J. Maas
Sentimental Jewellery, by Ann Luise Luthi
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig

I'm really excited about all of them! I love Kare Griffin's Urban Magic books! I've wanted to read Libba Bray for more than a year, Blackbirds had me intrigued since I first saw that cover, and Zoë Marriott is an author I've had a manga discussion on twitter with but I'd never read her books ^^'' So it was about time. The book about sentimental jewellery I got in Highgate Cemetery. Victorian mourning customs are an interest of mine, as is post mortem photography.
But you guys, the Sarah J. Maas books were the greatest surprise!! I was in a used book store on Charing Cross Road and I was just about to leave empty handed when I glimpsed the white spine of ToG on a shelf!! It looks unread, no spine broken, no bent edges!! I already counted myself super-lucky and was just turning to the register when a shelf further down I saw another white spine. With red writing. And I just about died when I saw that it was an unread ARC of Crown of Midnight!!! And both books were so cheap even though they look new!! I've already read Crown of Midnight (of course :P ) and you'll get my review on Monday.


Marco's Story, by Page Morgan

I won it in a giveaway over at Publishing Crawl :) Thanks again!

For blog tour:

Steel Lily, by Megan Curd
Disconnect, by Imran Siddiq

Particularly excited about Steel Lily!


Neverfall, by Brodi Ashton
Shadows, by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Boys of Summer, by C.J. Duggan
Lost, by Nadia Simonenko
Real Ugly, by C.M. Stunich
Dream Dark, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

So that's it! Took forever to link them all up o.O I'm really happy with my haul though! Have you read any of them? Because I don't know where to start ^^' Also, please leave a link to your own haul so I can check it out :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Adult Review: The Edge of Never, by J.A. Redmerski

Release date: November 15, 2012
Publisher: Createspace
Format: ebook, 423 pages

Goodreads description:
Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?

The following reviews is based on a copy that I purchased myself.

I’ve wanted this book basically since the first time I laid eyes on the cover and read the description. It’s been on my kindle for months and when I was lounging on a couch at a hostel in London and couldn’t get into the anthology I had for review, I thought this was the time. Being kind of on the road myself, I found it easy to slip into Camryn and Andrew’s story and identify with them. It was surprisingly hard to tear myself away from the book even if it was to catch some sleep so I’d have the energy to go exploring the city in the morning!

I’ve read a couple New Adult novels so far and this was definitely among the best ones! Camryn had real problems to deal with but she wasn’t whiny. She was depressed (her boyfriend died, her brother’s in prison), couldn’t muster the energy to feel much, and felt trapped in a life she never wanted that way. So one day, she simply got on a bus and left. On that bus, she met Andrew and slowly came to trust him. The way their relationship developed from wariness to being comfortable with each other and eventually developing stronger feelings felt natural and right to me. They challenged each other and helped each other grow. They stood by each other in very difficult situations. And during their time on the road, they managed to live the spontaneous life both of them had dreamed of. But every trip has to end at some point…

I was surprised when the book first switched to Andrew’s point of view after staying with Camryn for so long, but I quickly got accustomed to the more frequent switches and appreciated getting a glimpse of Andrew’s mind. It let a few of the previous scenes appear in a new light and really added to the overall story. I also simply liked him as a person. There were moments when I thought he was too impulsive but it always remained on a level I could still understand and didn’t get too out of hand. I really enjoyed how he liked to push and tease Camryn but would never do anything that really went against her will. The two really got one another and the chemistry was sizzling.

Well. Where that would eventually lead was pretty clear from the beginning, but let’s just say that once the sex happens it’s at a point where they know each other well enough for it to mean something, which is always makes those scenes more enjoyable for me as a reader. I have to add though that even for New Adult, I thought the scenes were pretty explicit. I didn’t mind because they were well-written, but I thought I’d mention it for those who don’t like that kind of thing. However, I liked that those two were so sexually comfortable with one another.

The Edge of Never is a story about awakenings and moments that turn your life around on many levels. It’s about being young, feeling trapped, about breaking away from the routine and trying new things. I also enjoyed the significance that music had for the story and that both Camryn and Andrew’s families were so important and involved. Despite being 20 and 25, they didn’t have that ‘cut-off’ from their roots aspect to them that I often see in YA and NA.

However, I also have to say that I liked the last third or fourth of the book less than the previous parts. It was like everything disappeared for Camryn apart from Andrew, and I felt that at the end of the book, there were a couple things about her old life that felt rather unfinished as she kind of slipped into his world. Also, the big revelation about why Andrew always held something back from her and thought about leaving a few times didn’t sit all that well with me. Part of that is because it’s one of my plot peeves (and I need to add that it’s something a lot of people actually like to read about), but partly it was also because I felt like it came out of nowhere. The ending, then, was also kind of sudden and incorporated another two elements that felt clichéd to me. Nevertheless, the novel was rounded off and can be read as a standalone, though I saw that there’s a sequel to be released.

Overall, I really want to read the sequel because I loved Camryn and Andrew as characters and want to see what else life (or, you know, the author) has in store for them. Redmerski’s prose flows well and she manages to write romantic scenes without being sappy. If you’re looking for a contemporary summer read with a road trip and romance that is both fun but also treats serious themes, you should definitely give The Edge of Never a try!

Have you read The Edge of Never? What were your thoughts? What do you think of the New Adult trend in general, and now that there are so many NA books out, how do you decide what to read?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm back! Sorta...

Hey guys :)

Just a quick note to let you know I got back from my holiday in London last night! I had a great week and some much-needed time away from my day-to-day life. Thank you for your wonderful comments on my post about going away! I missed not being around for a week but at the same time, I kind of needed to be mostly off the internet as well.

Real life has me again though... after catching up on work and my work-email today, I could then go home and catch up on personal email and only just got done >.<
So no blog post on Thursday. I'm going to look at an apartment (another one...) and maybe maybe this time, after several months of going through Zurich's apartment hell, I'll actually get it. Not sure I believe in it anymore though. Amazing what I'm willing to do to get back into my country's most expensive city o.O It's also my favorite city though and I made it my home, so I want back.

Anyhow, I hope I can write a review tomorrow so I can post in on Friday and get back into the swing of things. Be prepared for my London book haul on Saturday, too ;) And Sunday I should be ready to show you some holiday pics, although to be honest only my sister brought a camera and we were so busy living, we actually didn't take all that many pictures.

Thanks for hanging around, guys! Now that I'm back and I've handed in all my essays and papers, I hope I can be more social again :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Going on holiday

Hey guys :)

Starting tomorrow, I'll be in London until Tuesday night. I wanted to answer comments and maybe even schedule a post or two, but real life intervened in the form of an essay I had to hand in to a professor before leaving. So now I have to drive to the airport in 5 hours and I haven't slept or even packed yet. We have to leave at 3am because we'll need more time there because of a strike of the security personnel *sigh*

Anyway, I have no time to do other blog-related stuff before leaving and I'm majorly stressed out. The time in London should be great though and I'll probably have a big book haul when I return ^^' I might blog from my kindle fire sometimes but that's a bit annoying usually so I might also just let things rest for a week.

Enough of my rambling, I have to go hunt down loads of stuff and pack and maybe catch like 3 hours of sleep...

Waiting on Wednesday: The Wicked Within, by Kelly Keaton

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

This week's pick:

Release date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Description from Amazon:
Ancient lore leads to present danger in the final book in the dark and sexy paranormal romance trilogy about a descendent of Medusa, set in a richly reimagined New Orleans.

Her fate is not set in stone.

Having temporarily defeated Athena, Ari races to break the gorgon curse that has plagued the women in her family for centuries. Her one lead sends her on a quest for the Hands of Zeus, an ancient relic last seen in the charge of New 2’s ruling elite, the Novem. But if there is one thing that Athena desires as much as revenge, it’s the Hands of Zeus—and Athena always gets what she wants.

Before either can locate the Hands, the statue goes missing, and a trail of blood follows those who once protected the relic’s secrets. Ari knows that her city, her friends, Sebastian—her life—depend upon her finding the statue before Athena. And with rumors an ancient power is on the rise, that may not be her only concern…

I am sooo excited about this book! To a large extent because it almost didn't happen (Simon originally only bought book 1&2) - can you think of anything worse than NOT having the final book in a trilogy?! I need to know what happens with fierce Ari and Sebastian and Violet and I'm a sucker for the world building :)
Have you heard of the Gods and Monsters trilogy? If not, you can check out book 1, Darkness Becomes Her, here. Does this sound like something you'd enjoy? Also, please link me up to your own pick so I can add to my ever-growing, scary reading list ;)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors that deserve more recognition

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week's topic: top ten authors that deserve more recognition

The tricky thing about this topic for me is that sometimes I'm not actually sure just how well-known an author is... so maybe some of my picks are a bit off? Let me know in the comments, I guess ;)

Cat Winters
Her debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, is haunting and brilliant. It made me feel anything ranging from happiness to sadness to anger or despair. I'm looking very much forward to reading more from her! I think the book has gotten a bit of coverage in the blogosphere (and rightfully so) but still I think the majority has never heard of it.

Karen Mahoney
A British author whose books I love! She concluded the Iron Witch trilogy in April with The Stone Demon and I can't wait for the next book in her series about Moth, a teen vampire. She has a great sense of humor and I enjoy the aspect of popular culture/nerdiness and snark in her books ^^ She's also really nice to talk to on twitter!

L.A. Weatherly
Her Angel series is amazing! She crafts strong, likeable characters and I love how she balances action and romance! I met her in April in the context of a writing workshop and she was very approachable and gave great, concrete advice :)

Sarah Rees Brennan
Not sure she really belongs in this list? Anyhow, I think many people know of her as Cassandra Clare's friend, but I actually read the Demon's Lexicon books before I heard of Cassie and The Mortal Instruments and damn, they're amazing! The snark! The dangerous, unique magic!

Kate Griffin
When I read A Madness of Angels, I put sticky notes all over the book because there were so many amazing passages! It will make you look at the city in a whole new way. One of my top favorite Urban Fantasy series!

Susan Dennard
Another case of I'm not sure she's 'unknown' enough for this list? Anyhow, her series is awesome! It's a great mixture of historical, steampunk, and zombies. I can't wait for A Darkness Strange and Lovely!

Kelly Creagh
I can't fawn enough over her Nevermore series! If you love E.A. Poe and creepy YA, you should definitely give it a try! She also wrote one of my favorite book boyfriends into existence - Varen Nethers. Her writing is wonderful and I love how she incorporates Poe and his work so seamlessly into the story! It's way too long until the release of the final book :(

Bethany Griffin
Another Poe-person! I love her Masque of the Red Death duology. Her writing is lush but with an unflinching sharpness to it. She's not afraid to hurt her characters but she also shows that they can find moments of beauty in despair. Can't wait to see what her next book will be about!

Gina Damico
If you like reaper books, get this one asap!! Gina Damico is hilarious - I laughed so much while reading Croak on the train that I kinda wanted to stop because everyone was looking at me all weird but I just couldn't because it was so damn good! She mixes the horrible and creepy with the sarcastic and absurdly funny and her imagination is made of awesome.

Susan Kaye Quinn
I've only read episodes 1-6 in her Debt Collector serial but I tell you, it's amazing! If you want male POV New Adult that is not a contemporary but an awesome kind of sci-fi retro-noir story - give it a shot! Fantastic world-building, mysterious characters, and very engaging writing! After reading episode 1-3 I had to get the bundle for 4-6 immediately and I read it all on the same day.

Well... I can't really stick with 10 this time around, so here are four runner-ups that I think are amazing but also well-known -ish, I think? Not sure.
Holly Black, Kelly Keaton, Kiki Hamilton, and Rachel Vincent.

So, what do you guys think of my picks? Have you heard of these authors? And who do you think deserves more recognition? Link me up :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: colliding with soul thiefs in the shadows makes for a bloody mess

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 was a very ebooky week for me! No matter though, I'm going to London next week and I already know that I'm going to buy too many books >.<

For review from Netgalley

A Really Awesome Mess, by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Delia's Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer

I loved Cook&Halpins first book, Notes From the Blender, so when this one was a 'read now' on Netgalley I just had to have it!
I'd highlighted Delia's Shadow as my WoW a couple weeks ago - the historical setting in San Francisco and the ghosts sound right up my alley :)


Dirty Blood, by Heather Hildenbrand
Soul Thief, by Jana Oliver
Collide, by Shelly Crane

I've had my eye on all of these for a while. I wanted to read Soul Thief right after reading The Demon Trapper's Daughter more than a year ago but was waiting for the price to drop. Two nights ago I decided I was tired of waiting and bought it anyway. The other two were freebies and I remembered reading good reviews, so I grabbed them :)

Have you heard of or read these books? What can you recommend? And what's new on your shelves this week?
By the way, I'm having a discussion about print vs. ebook buying patterns and there are also two giveaways going on, just check out the left sidebar :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Discussion: how do you decide in what format to buy a book?

Hey guys :) Time for another discussion!

This topic might be a bit weird, but I've noticed a tendency in my book buying patterns so I wanted to ask what it's like for other people. This mainly concerns people who buy both print and ebooks, but anyone's welcome to join!

So. I used to read only fantasy for about 10 years, but one and a half or so years ago I branched out into YA (with some NA) contemporary novels. I've noticed a peculiar trend though: nearly all my contemporary novels are ebooks!!! I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe it takes more to convince me I want to read the book, so I just put it on the TBR list and buy it when there's a kindle deal? Maybe I'll try to snag it on Netgalley instead? Another reason is that especially NA contemporaries are often self-published, so paperbacks may not be available.

Still, I tend to want fantasy/paranormal in print. I also prefer those covers to the contemporaries quite often, so that might be an additional reason. What can I say, I want the pretty on my shelf where I can look at it and pet it ;P

So what are your buying patterns? How do you decide what you want in print and what you'd rather read as an ebook? Is it totally random or do you tend to buy certain types of books in a particular format?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog tour: Review & Giveaway of Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Hey guys and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Jennifer Echols' Dirty Little Secret! Below you can find more about the book and author as well as my review and a giveaway :)

Release date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: MTV books
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages

Goodreads description:
From the author of the “real page-turner” (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.

The following review is based on a copy I got from the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d heard a lot about Jennifer Echols’ amazing contemporary novels but had never read any, so when I got the chance to be on this tour I just had to take it! Though there were some things about Dirty Little Secret that didn’t sit completely well with me, I was very impressed with the characterization and I loved the description of the music and what it meant for Bailey to perform!

Even though I am not at all well-versed in the country music or bluegrass scene, I ended up enjoying that aspect of an unknown-to-me but still familiar world a lot! When we first meet Bailey, she has a very jaded attitude to music or at least that’s how she wants to appear. After playing on bluegrass festivals for years with her sister, she feels like she’s seen and done it all. The chord successions are always the same and she thinks of musicians as interchangeable building blocks of a song. However, it’s clear that Bailey’s anger at being shut off from her sister’s music deal and from the rest of her family is responsible for her changed view.

Ever since her sister got signed and she didn’t, Bailey has had a hard time at home. The record company forbade her to publicly perform or basically do anything to do with music, and since her parents backed that, Bailey had to obey (or else). So she rebelled in other ways, trying hard to be a bad girl and just basically not caring about anything anymore, until she really screws up and is sent to live with her granddad for the summer. Despite the threat from the rec company, he gets Bailey job playing with various bands at the mall.

When she meets Sam (playing Johnny Cash’s son), there’s an attraction between them right away, which is strengthened when they find out that they actually have history. Sam wants Bailey to play fiddle in his band, and though she isn’t supposed to perform in public, Bailey just can’t resist. When their first show is a success, Bailey is in a tug of war between doing what and who she loves or obeying her parents (and thus securing her college tuition and her sister’s career).

Also, Sam’s thirst for success does not always paint him in the most favorable light. Is he only with Bailey because of her talent and connections, or does he really have feelings for her? When Bailey finds in harder and harder to keep the two lives she is suddenly juggling separate, how will she choose?

I feel torn about Sam. On the one hand, he’s cute and fun and incredibly talented, but on the other hand he is a master-manipulator when it comes to getting what he wants most – so much so that I’m not even sure whether he is always aware of it. He said and did some things that made him come across as a real jerk. Still, he was a complex character and there was definitely chemistry between him and Bailey, which made for some steamy scenes! His and Bailey’s relationship develops very quickly, but they also spend a lot of time together so that didn’t bother me too much apart from a few scenes. It wasn’t all roses, so that was realistic.

This novel is very much about family bonds, which is something I always enjoy, especially when it’s about two sisters! We learn about the changes in Julie and Bailey’s relationship gradually through flashbacks, and it wasn’t always what I expected. Bailey’s mom is a total nutjob though. I hated that woman. What she did to both her daughters is not okay at all. In a way, both Bailey’s and Sam’s families are really screwed up, just not in the same way.

This ties into one of my points of critique: is it realistic that a record company could force Bailey to stop playing music, or pursue any kind of musical career in the future? I’m sure that’s not even legal. Also, I can’t believe her parents went along with that, sacrificing the future of one child for that of the other! Bailey’s inner conflict hinges on that ban, and I just found it a bit hard to believe. Moreover, I thought the resolution and the ending were a bit rushed and too neat.

Other than that, I loved the parts of the novel where Bailey is on stage with Sam and the rest of his band! I felt like I was there myself, experiencing the crowd’s reaction and the joy of making music and clicking as a unit. I also grew to really like Ace the bassist and Charlotte the drummer as characters, though in Charlotte’s case not right off the bat.

All in all, I really enjoyed Dirty Little Secret despite its minor flaws! The writing was incredibly engaging and the story flowed at a good pace that made it hard to put down. The characters were well fleshed-out and I could relate to them even though I am in a very different situation in life. The book explores what it means to follow your dreams, be creative, and figure out who you are and where you want to go. Though I couldn’t back the romance 100%, I still enjoyed most of Sam and Bailey’s moments together. If you’re looking for a great contemporary summer read set in the music biz, you should definitely give Dirty Little Secret a try!

Some great quotes (subject to change in the finished copy):

“I was an anachronism no matter what I wore, an expert on a sixteenth-century instrument nobody wanted. I’d thought I could enjoy this job. Instead I’d been sexually harassed by one dead rockabilly, and I’d developed a hopeless crush on the son of another.” (ARC, location 518 / 16%)

“Sam was creative and dedicated, but his wasn’t the plodding bright-and-early work ethic of the morning person, like mine. It was the crazy creative burst of the night owl, long dark hours of despair before dawn.” (ARC, location 2408 / 73%)


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: City of Lost Dreams, by Magnus Flyte

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

This week's pick:

Release date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

Goodreads description:
The exhilarating, genre-bending sequel to the sensational New York Times bestseller City of Dark Magic

In this action-packed sequel to City of Dark Magic, we find musicologist Sarah Weston in Vienna in search of a cure for her friend Pollina, who is now gravely ill and who may not have much time left. Meanwhile, Nicolas Pertusato, in London in search of an ancient alchemical cure for the girl, discovers an old enemy is one step ahead of him. In Prague, Prince Max tries to unravel the strange reappearance of a long dead saint while being pursued by a seductive red-headed historian with dark motives of her own.

In the city of Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud, Sarah becomes the target in a deadly web of intrigue that involves a scientist on the run, stolen art, seductive pastries, a few surprises from long-dead alchemists, a distractingly attractive horseman who’s more than a little bloodthirsty, and a trail of secrets and lies. But nothing will be more dangerous than the brilliant and vindictive villain who seeks to bend time itself. Sarah must travel deep into an ancient mystery to save the people she loves.

I loved the first book in the series, City of Dark Magic (my review)! It was hilarious and different and I never knew what to expect. The sequel sounds even more intricate and I can't wait to meet all the crazy characters again! Have you heard of the series before? And what book are you eager to get your hands on?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: best / worst book to movie adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week's topic: top ten best or worst movie adaptations

The question what makes a 'good' movie adaptation of a book is a beast all its own and I don't really want to get into it here. Just for the record: just because a movie is very much like a book does not automatically make it a good adaptation for me. If it follows the book to the letter without offering an interpretation of its own, I don't really see the point.

So here are five adaptations that I think work well:

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien (Peter Jackson)
Those movies are a work of art all of their own. The setting, the costumes, the music, the acting... it's all absolutely incredible. Jackson took some liberties but I think he really stayed true to the spirit of the books. I'll never grow tired of watching them.

Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (Mira Nair)
Again, this adaptation takes some liberties with the book (it makes Becky quite a bit more likeable) but it's absolutely gorgeous and the acting is great!

Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling (various directors)
Well, can't simply skip those movies, can I? Some I like better than others, but all in all it was well-done. The movies also managed some things the books didn't. They made me really like Luna Lovegood. And The Halfblood Prince made me actually feel sorry for Draco Malfoy at one point, which I didn't really while reading the book. Oh, and Helena Bonham Carter is fantastic as Bellatrix Lestrange!

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Bryan Lee O'Malley (Edgar Wright)
This is originally a 7-volume comic, and especially the later volumes are quite different from the movie, but it really takes up so many comic- and video game elements that it becomes a league of awesome all of its own! It's hilarious and crazy and quirky. I can watch it a dozen times and I still think it's funny! The soundtrack rocks, too.

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk (David Fincher)
I actually prefer the movie. There's a dimension to the book it didn't quite capture but the movie is waaaay more of a mindfuck than the book is. And it drives the main points home wonderfully. Not to forget that once More, Helena Bonham Carter does one hell of a job as Marla!

I could have added a couple others that I like, among them adaptations of Shakespeare plays and Hornby's About A Boy, but let's leave it at this for now.

... And five adaptations that didn't quite do it for me:

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - Darren Shan (Paul Weitz)
I hurried to finish the first book before going to watch the movie, and they just changed so many things. Some I liked, some I found unnecessary, and some took the movie into a whole different direction. They also made the snake-boy (Ezra? Can't remember his name...) look sort of stupid and ridiculous, which he isn't at all in the book. All in all, it wasn't horrible but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Eragon - Christopher Paolini (Stefen Fangmeier)
To be honest I don't remember the movie all that well, but I think it was really reductive and just cut too much from the book. It lacked the complexity I enjoyed about it. Maybe they should have made it into a TV series instead?

Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice (Neil Jordan)
This is partly a problem with the book. I don't know how, but it's just rather dull. Louis is just soooo mopey!! I like the later books where Lestat is the narrator much better. The movie has some good scenes but over all, it just didn't do it for me.

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer (Catherine Hardwicke)
Back in 2007 when I came across the book shortly before Eclipse was released, I fell for them. Hard. I've since gotten a different perspective on what goes on in them (and I really didn't like Breaking Dawn) but let's talk about the movies. I think they're actually good adaptations - apart from that first one. What made me like Twilight back when was apart from other things the dialogue between Edward and Bella. In the movie, that's all cut in favor of shots of trees and awkward exchanges in the cafeteria. Um, no. I've seen a few of Hardwicke's other movies and liked them a lot, but not this one. Sorry.

I'm not quite sure what else to pick. Quite often I'm in the situation that I've either not read the book or not seen the movie, so I can't really compare them. I think The Golden Compass looked pretty but wasn't really much like the book. I sort of liked the first Percy Jackson, but from what I've heard it's also a lot different from the books and kind of mixes a few of them together. As for more recent films, I haven't seen Beautiful Creatures but the cast doesn't look AT ALL the way I imagined the characters. Ethan and Lena look like they belong in college, not high school.

Anyway, that's what I could come up with. What are your most loved or most loathed ones?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cover reveal: Pendomus, by Carissa Andrews

Hi everyone and welcome to a cover reveal organized by Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours!
This time it's for a YA sci-fi novel set in an advanced society on another planet.

Release date: October 10, 2013
Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy dystopian (with paranormal romance)

Humanity has colonized on a tidally locked planet known as Pendomus, a planet of extremes. Half eternal scorching desert and half perpetual arctic night. Surviving along the temperate band between the two, we've set up home in a complex known as the Helix. Within the Helix lies a highly sophisticated, highly technological society that seems to function solely on humans fulfilling their life's purpose. That purpose is determined and nurtured through a person's natural aptitudes, as read by their daily brain scans. Eating, sleeping, even procreation is handled by professionals. These basic concepts, no longer a part of society's every day norm.

Seventeen-year-old Runa Cophem longs to be more than part of the Helix machine. Her life inside is anything but fulfilling. She feels disconnected, and longs to be more than society dictates. Inside, no one socializes, no one interacts in a meaningful way. It's never set right with Runa. She would love nothing more than to reach out to her family, but not even her own mother can show any semblance of love for her. Instead, Runa has found solace in the ancient woods nearby, despite being strictly forbidden.

Runa's life takes an unforeseen turn when she's brutally attacked, and left for dead in those woods near the Helix. Rescued by a stranger with blue hair, she's immersed into a surprising way humanity has survived. Fueled by a yearning to belong, and an attraction she didn't even know was possible, Runa wants desperately to make a new life. Yet, there's much she doesn't know about herself, about the planet and the forces controlling her from afar.

What she needs is some answers.

Born and raised in central MN, Carissa Andrews has always loved books. She started her career at 15
in a bookstore, just to be able to afford her book fetish. By 19, she worked for a magazine publisher. At 22, she was working for printers to learn their trade. At 27, she went back to school for graphic design, and became an award winning designer. Little did she know all of her experiences would lead her to becoming a self-publishing power house.

At 31, a magical world on a planet far away, invaded her mind.

At 34, she's learned what she needs to make her work successful.

Pendomus (Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles) will be released OCTOBER 10, 2013.

What's your take on the cover? I love the cold colors, the font, and the other graphic elements! I also think it's awesome that the author designed it herself! The synopsis has me really intrigued as well. I want to know why Runa was attacked and who that blue-haired stranger is!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Get To Know Me: in which I jump over my own shadow and tell you a story

Is that even a saying in English, 'jumping over one's shadow'? Anyway, it means getting over yourself and facing something you fear. For me, that is sharing something I love doing. I don't know how many of you are aware of the fact that I write stories. If you were around in November, you may or may not have noticed my NaNoWriMo updates. NaNo 2012 didn't work so well for me, but during NaNo 2011, I wrote two thirds of my first novel. I still haven't really started cracking down on revisions, though, because that mass of 95k words scares me.

Anyway, I'd like to get something I've written out there to other people who are not my close friends. People who are used to criticizing stories. I just... I want some honest feedback. And who knows, maybe you'll enjoy it?
Anyway, below you'll find the first third or so of a story I've written. It probably falls into the NA contemporary category, but I'm not entirely sure. You tell me. It'd make me really happy if you took the time to read it and leave a comment. It doesn't have to be a positive comment. Just an honest one. Constructive criticism is very much welcome! (Oh, and please don't steal this, mkay? With even reviews getting plagiarized, I feel like I should add this.)

They say that every encounter starts with a spark. Mine started with a doused cigarette.
I hadn’t previously paid any attention to him. We were just both standing on the bridge, smoking, the party behind and around us still in full swing. Then he cussed and dropped his cigarette, its orange glow floating down towards the water like an unhinged, tiny star that lost its grip in the vast fabric of the late summer sky.
            I held my pack of smokes out to him wordlessly, and he pulled one out with a nod of thanks. He lit a match on the stone balustrade we were leaning against and shielded it against the night wind with slender fingers. The firelight revealed sharp features framed by dark, longish hair. His lids were lowered and I couldn’t glimpse his eyes before he sent the match flying after the previous cigarette, plunging us into darkness once more.
It felt strange to just stand there, breathing and exhaling poison with a stranger. I wondered if the feeling I had that we were somehow folded away in our own pocket of space and time was just my imagination. I wondered if this would be another one of these almost-encounters, where you feel you should be saying something but there’s only a stretch of silence; and then time is up and you know that, for whatever it was worth, the chance has passed. Time runs like a river and it stops for no one. All you’re left with is a chain of pearl-like moments. Mine was rather pathetic so far. Despite these thoughts my mind was strangely empty though, my thoughts obscured by smoke. I could find no words.
But he could. “There’s a hole in your sweater.” He pointed at it with the orange eye of what remained of his cig. I raised a brow. “How observant of you.”
Looking somewhat embarrassed, he laughed, smoke curling from his lips and half-forming shapes before they vanished in the night wind. “Sorry. That was lame.” I noticed that my fingers were now self-consciously fiddling with the hole at my waist and quickly shoved them in my pockets.
“There’s holes at the center of all of us, I guess.” The words escaped before I could really think about them. They were true, for me, but I still wished I could eat them back up. Maybe they’d feed the hole in my stomach.
The stranger’s attention was now fully focused on me though. His lean body, still slouching against the bridge railing, was angled in my direction, and I could feel the weight of his stare even though I still couldn’t glimpse his eyes in the dark. His scrutiny made me uncomfortable, and I was hyper-aware of my torn jeans, beat-up-bag, and threadbare jacket. And the holey sweater, of course.
I waited for him to stop staring, to break the tension by saying something, anything. Despite the darkness, I felt spotlighted. I clenched my fists against the feeling of being trapped. I could run – he’d never catch me in the throng of people behind us on the other side of the bridge. We were the only ones on the fringes.
“Maybe we can use those holes to escape.” Startled, I flicked my eyes back to his. I hadn’t been expecting a reply anymore. Especially one that made sense in a way.
“Escape from what?”
He shrugged, turning back to the river and taking another drag of his cancer stick. Another step closer to death. I remembered my own smoke and flicked off the long ruin of ash that had formed with a grimace. What a waste.
“Anything. Rules, pressures. Expectations.” His fingers twitched, and another used up glimstick tumbled to its watery grave. “Ourselves.” He turned to me, brow raised.
“I’m not running form myself.” Cocky know-it-all.
“I didn’t say you were.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know a badly veiled implication when I see it.”
He staggered backwards, a hand clutched to his chest. “I am mortally wounded.” His back hit the balustrade and he bent further and further over it, out into space.
“Look what you’re doing to me! My backbone is broken. My pride lies vanquished.”
“Stop it!” I said, half-laughing and half-worried he’d actually topple over the edge.
“I can’t.” He slid further over the railing, bending his back and releasing his hands. Holding himself up only by pressing the heels of his boots to the stone. Was he mad? I swallowed, caught between the urge to run and the obligation I felt towards him from our interaction that demanded I yell at him while I pulled him upright.
I stood frozen, waiting, as he hung there like an underfed bat.
“This is a pathetic attempt at finding a loophole,” I finally said, trying to keep my voice steady and indifferent.
“It is, isn’t it? I thought the change in perspective might help but my only epiphany so far is that the river is smelly and that I should work out more.”
“Why’s that?” My arm twitched when one of his heels started sliding upwards.
His voice was strained. “My abs are for shit. I really can’t pull myself back up.”
I snorted and stubbed out my cigarette on the balustrade.
“Mind giving me a hand here?” There was definitely a sliver of fear now. Served him right. I approached, eyes travelling over his awkwardly arched form. His shirt had slid up, exposing sharp hipbones and pale skin marred by a thin scar travelling up from his navel and disappearing under the fabric at the left side of his ribcage.
I stepped between his knees and looked down at him as he hung, teeth clenched, hands reaching out to me. I ignored them. His pupils were huge in the dark, his eyes trained on me as if I were his anchor.
But I wasn’t anchored. I was a drifter.
I braced myself on his knee with one hand as I leaned forward and grabbed a fistful of his shirt with the other. I pulled, leaning backwards and pressing his knee down for leverage. His torso swung up, bringing me flush against his chest, my palm covering the rapid beat of his heart.
“This reversal is a lot more pleasant.” His breath ghosted over my cheeks, and I inhaled the scent of smoke and moldy river and a richness I couldn’t place. Fear, maybe?

I breathed again. There. Heady. Intoxicating. I felt powerful; reckless and in control at the same time. Raising my eyes to his face, I noticed that his pupils were still large, his gaze wild. His breath came sharp and hurried.
Definitely fear. I felt a pull toward him, and it was hard not to lean forward, not to use my grip on his shirt to tug him yet closer. I let him go and took a step back, but didn’t break eye contact.
He released a breath, almost a laugh, and raked his hand through the tangled mess of his hair.
“For a second there I thought you’d let me fall.”
“For a second, I almost did.”
“Why?” No accusation. Just curiosity.
I shrugged. “It was your own fault. And I didn’t like the way you were looking at me.”
Like I was an anchor or a lifeline or some shit like that. I won’t let anyone tie me down with that type of look.
He took a step towards me, the easy grace back in the way he moved. “Oh? And what way was that?” He smirked, one side of his lips curling up higher than the other. His eyes had shifted slightly. Still darkened, but no longer with fear. Already back from his short stint as prey.
I stood my ground. Me pulling him up had changed things. I was no longer the awkward girl with a holey sweater and a cigarette to spare. For a second there, I’d held the course of his life in my hands. The decision was mine. He owed me. And I’d make him feel it.
“I’m not sure. You couldn’t quite make up your mind between being a drowning mariner reaching out for his mate’s steady hand and being that same mariner, in awe of the siren he’d follow to death. I don’t much fancy being either.”
He stopped an arm’s length away. “So stop singing.”
“Why don’t you stop making things up?”
“How else am I going to change reality?”
I realized we were nose to nose now, glowering at each other. I straightened.
“Words can’t make anyone do anything.”
He shrugged. “They’re all I have. I’m not like you, singing without realizing it. All I have to make you come home with me are my witty words. And my good looks, of course.” His grin was back, his posture easy and confident as he stood before me.
I made myself scoff. “You’d have to find some mighty fine words to change reality enough for me to go home with you.”
“Ah, see, I don’t think so at all,” he said, placing an arm around my shoulder and turning me to overlook the other side of the bridge. The party was winding down, people walking off in pairs and small groups, holding each other up. A few others were starting the clean-up, breaking down the bar, turning off the fairy lights. The small square looked a lot shabbier without them. Glass crunched under the feet of those still lingering. Everyone was heading home for the last few hours before dawn.
I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t go back to the old warehouse after what happened, and there was no place else to go. My stomach sunk at the thought of having to keep walking all night, careful to stay out of trouble’s way. At least it was still late summer and not too cold.
Warm breath caressed my ear, and I couldn’t suppress a shiver.
“Come with me. I can keep you off the street for the night. I could keep you safe.”
I swallowed, tempted. The last of the lights went out. Boxes were loaded into vans, motors howled, a screech of wheels, and we were alone.
“At what price?” I asked, refusing to look at him.
“None,” he said lightly. “You did save my life after all, little siren.”
I didn’t respond. It would be nice. Not to be cold, not to fear the defenselessness of sleep. And he did owe me. He was alone. I could take care of myself if it was only one guy, couldn’t I?

So... what do you guys think? Would you like the second part next Sunday? Or should I go back to talking favorites and posting pictures of European cities I've been to? Oh, and if you have ideas for a title, go ahead. I hate coming up with them.