Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Disconnect, by Imran Siddiq

Welcome to my stop on the tour for the Divided Worlds  YA sci-fi series by Imran Siddiq! Below you can find more info on the books and authors as well as my review of the first book, Disconnect, and an international giveaway! The tour has been organized by Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours.


Blurb for book 1: Disconnect
Zachary, a 16-year old Underworlder digs in waste to find anything worth bartering. That is the rule of scavenging. When he discovers footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, he’s intrigued by her sorrow and breaks the rule.

That decision changes his life, and he will suffer for it.

Zachary must overcome worthlessness, prejudice, and not let a twisted lie devour the new reason that he survives; Rosa.

In space, love had boundaries.

Blurb for Book 2: Disassemble
Zachary is a scavenger, and he’ll do anything to survive. With Rosa by his side, nothing will break him.
After the Galilei Research Base is plunged into darkness, an unexpected threat emerges.

Where Zachary was the hero before, he will become the enemy.
It’s not just about surviving anymore. It’s about saving everyone before they destroy one another, especially Rosa.

Blurb for Book 3: Disrupt
Everything that Zachary lived for has changed. There are no rewards to come from scavenging. Just memories. But even they are not enough to remove thoughts of a worthless life.

In the midst of death, a purpose to live appears.

It wills Zachary to break the divide that has destroyed many.
This fight will be on his terms.

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes&Noble


Imran Siddiq is a Law Graduate employed as a Senior Manager in the NHS. After an operation to remove a brain tumour, he decided to make his dreams real. Now, he sacrifices time to write and serve his two cats.

He’s a veteran of writing festivals, a constant on Twitter, and gobbles up all forms of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Living in Leicester, he is passionate about creating images in digital art.

Young Adult Science Fiction is his preferred genre, and he will throw a droid into every novel – literally throw.

What intrigued me most about Disconnect was the premise of two worlds sharing the same space but being separated opposites of one another. I was also very curious to meet a scavenger character.

I’ll be honest, I did have my problems with the novel but what always kept me reading is the actual story and plot because those are very strong and different from most other books I’ve read! Zachary’s life is pretty horrible. Everyone’s life is, in Underworld. Electricity is scarce, good food is nonexistent (try rat for dinner), housing is dismal and real friends are rare. Poverty and darkness abound and there are no prospects to speak of.

Zachary is a well-rounded character, just a 16-year-old trying to make his way scavenging and selling parts. Being a Scavenger rather than a Far-Waller like his father is a large part of his identity and I liked how that was visible in the way he looked at the world through that particular lense. His relationship with his father is complicated and he spends a lot of time alone or with Patch, his half-broken droid. He has difficulties connecting to people and prefers to scavenge alone. That’s how he finds an Intercom dropped with the daily garbage from Overworld. He first wants to sell it (it would fetch a big price) but wants to see what’s on it first. He manages to access the pictures and videos on it, and that’s how he learns about Rosa, an Overworld girl who recorded messages diary-style. It’s his first glance at the other side of the big space research station they all live in, but despite their different lives he feels a connection to Rosa. So when his father mentions a trip to Overworld to fix something and drops Rosa’s family name, Zachary persuades him to take him along and gets his first glimpse at Overworld. And at Rosa in real life, who is not exactly what he expected.

Rosa, unfortunately, didn’t quite meet my expectations either. Her characterization was mostly through Zachary eyes and she just always stayed a bit superficial and flat for me. I got that he connected with her – they’re both lonely – but when started developing romantic feelings for her I got a little doubtful. They kept communicating via her Intercom (risky, since it can be located) but their conversations weren’t all that deep and it was obvious she had no idea what true hardship was. I liked how they got over their misconceptions of their respective worlds, but I would have enjoyed the story more if their relationship had been a strong friendship instead of a romance and the focus had been more on the suspense and intrigues of the plot.

I also had difficulties with the writing. Some of the sentences and imagery used was very strange or didn’t make sense. I had the impression that it got better later in the book (or maybe I got used to it) but in the beginning, and at moments throughout, it really bothered me. Here’s two quotes to show what I mean: “Staggering for a second, a rapid blur sucked his breath away.” Or “whiffs of putrid rabbit meat wrung Zachary’s neck”. How can a blur suck anyone’s breath away? There were a lot of these types of constructions. I mean it’s clear what’s meant… sort of. It just doesn’t quite work semantically.

So what made me continue reading? Easy. The actual story and the really detailed, complex world building. I loved getting glimpses at the larger project and organization of the Galilei Research Base, the space station of sorts originally meant to land on the Jupiter moon Europa. There was just enough explanation in the beginning to ground the readers, and then leave them to piece things together and figure the world out without any major info-dumps via interior monologue. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish considering how well thought-out the world of Disconnect is, and it was executed expertly.

The pacing was also nice. It takes a bit to really bring all the different puzzle pieces into position but the story didn’t drag because it gave the reader time to learn about the world. Also, once the shit hits the fan it’s pretty much non-stop action and I really admired Zachary for his will to keep fighting against really bleak odds and despite the great loss he suffered.

Overall, although I had my problems with the writing, I will definitely read the next book in the series because I want to know how the story continues and I liked that it also dealt with issues of prejudice, equality, the ethics of how far science and experimentation should go and the struggle for a more just system. I was really hooked! The romance sub-plot wasn’t quite necessary in my opinion, but I can imagine that a lot of other readers will enjoy its Romeo/Juliet-esque appeal. If you’re into a YA sci-fi with dystopian elements that is set in space or into stories about a clear class-divide and the problems resulting from it, you should give the Divided Worlds series a try!

To clarify in case you are confused about my assessment: I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5

What do you think of the general premise of the series? Would you like it now that you know more and have read my review? Let me know in the comments! Also, don't forget to enter the international giveaway below :)


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Waking Dark, by Robin Wasserman

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 10, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages

Goodreads description:
They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves. 

I read Robin Wasserman's Book of Blood and Shadows a little over a week ago and I was hooked! It was amazing and I was really impressed with the writing. The Waiting Dark sounds equally atmospheric - creepy, violent, intriguing, with a cast of very different characters. The 'awful things happening in a sleepy town' thing also reminds me of Stephen King novels. I really hope this one is as great as it sounds!
What do you think of the description? Is this your kind of read? And what book are you highlighting this week?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: most memorable secondary characters

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 is all about the favorite secondary characters we can't get out of our heads

I love secondary characters. Sometimes, they actually appeal to me more than the main ones. However, trying to come up with a top ten made me realize that sometimes it's actually quite hard to determine whether someone is a secondary character or part of the 'main character crew'. Because let's face it, there is usually more than just one main character, it's just that one of them is often the narrator.

Anyway, here are - in no particular order - some of my favorites

Glenraven_27's top ten secondary characters album on Photobucket

Jenks - The Hollows series, by Kim Harrison
Jenks is a pixy with a temper and one of the foulest (and funniest) mouths you can imagine. Also, he's got a wife and over 50 children populating Rachel's back garden! As her pixy sidekick, he's ace at disabling security so Rachel can do some reconnoitering. And he's also simply a good and loyal friend.

Uncle Mort - Croak series, by Gina Damico
He's a Grim reaper and the first one to keep Lex's temper in check. Also, he's got the craziest hair, a motorcycle, and a really cool house. He's also not averse to bending laws if he sees it fit. The kind of guy you want at your side when the shit hits the fan.

Magnus Bane - The Mortal Instruments / The Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Claire
High Warlock of Brooklyn. Throws the best parties and has an extravagant fashion sense. Always getting involved in Shadowhunter business despite himself. I love his relationship to Alec (there should be more LGBT couples/characters in YA) and I think it's fascinating that he's in both series and in a way helps tying the stories together.

Sabine - Soul Screamers series, by Rachel Vincent
She's one of those cases where I'm unsure whether she'd count as a main character. At first, I hated her. But she and her blunt but honest statements really won me over. Even if she was hard on Kaylee, there was usually some truth to what she was saying. Best frenemies, I guess, but seriously - Sabine gets some of the best lines! Also, the girl is literally a Nightmare and feeds on fear. Not something you come across very often in YA.

Will - Masque of the Red Death, by Bethany Griffin
Again, is Will a main character? I can't decide. But I've always preferred him to Elliott. He's devoted to his siblings above all else, he's kind, and well... he's the type of guy I find attractive ^^' Dark, quiet, handsome, tattooed... with just a hint of danger.

Dani O'Malley - Fever series, by Karen Marie Moning
Dani's just badass. The youngest of the Sidhe-seers and the one with the highest fae bodycount. She's got superspeed, she's fierce, and she's still got that swagger that comes from feeling young and invincible. And still there are these moments when you realize that she's seen and had to deal with things that should be well beyond the scope of a 14-year-old. I really need to read Iced, the spin-off series that focuses on her.

Vlad - Night Huntress series, by Jeaniene Frost
Vlad's also got his own spin-off books but I haven't read  them yet. He's the Vlad Tepes. Dracula. Only without the cape. Instead, he can let other vamps go up in flames. Also, he's a snarky, kinda cynical anti-hero and he loves to piss Bones off. In short, he makes me laugh and he's protective of Cat, so I like him.

Adrian Ivashkov - Vampire Academy series, by Richelle Mead
Is he a secondary character? I think so, at least in the first couple of books. I'll be honest, it took me a while to grow to like him, partly due to the fact that he's constantly drunk in the beginning. However, I felt so sorry for him at the end of VA and I'm very glad he's in a way getting a 'second chance' in Bloodlines. He's a combination of genius, madness, and self-deprecation-masked-by-cockyness I find fascinating. There's a lot more to him than you'd expect at first.

Ziri - Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor
Oh Ziri. How I cried for you in DoBaS. I hoped for your happy ending against hope, and of course my hopes were dashed. For now. But I love how Laini Taylor expanded his role in this sequel! I can't say more without spoilers but let's just say Ziri has a special place in my heart.

Barron Sharpe - Curse Workers trilogy, by Holly Black
I'll be honest: I don't like Barron. I feel kind of sorry for him... sometimes. But he's fascinating, and that's more important to me in a character than that they're likeable. He can erase or alter other people's memories, but there's a backlash against himself and he erodes his own memory, taking with it parts of his personality. If he didn't write it down, he wouldn't remember who he was. There's something tragic in that, as well as something pathetic and nefarious.

So that's my top ten! A close runner-up was Jackal from Julie Kagawa's The Eternity Cure because of his sarcastic remarks and reluctant change/development of character. I love how he pushes Allies buttons.
What do you think of my top ten? Do we share any picks? And what did you come up with? I'd love to get to know some new books/series I might like based on the secondary characters in them :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: The Bookstore, by Deborah Meyler

Release date: August 20th, 2013
Publisher: Galley Books
Format: Paperback, 352 pages

Goodreads description:
A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan.
 Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.

Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.

The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.

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

The Bookstore is a contemporary novel about a 23-year-old English girl in New York working on her PhD in Art History who finds herself pregnant and is trying to make it all work out despite keeping the baby. I’ll be honest – I usually don’t like reading about pregnant characters. It just freaks me out and I often find myself annoyed when characters suddenly gets pregnant halfway through the book. However, I was interested in this book because I love reading about bookstores and it promised to have a cast of quirky characters.

I did have problems with the novel, but the pregnancy actually wasn’t one of them. My main issue was that Esme and Mitchell just never worked for me as a couple, not even one of those that are often fighting. I felt no connection at all between them, so Esme’s need for him and staying in love with him and running after him even when he treated her like crap just never made sense to me. He was playing games with her, making her debase herself or guilt-tripping her into things, and very often she didn’t even notice, or at least not until it was too late. I wished she would have stood up for herself more. I wished she wouldn’t have thought that to love a person is to submit to them. I also thought that sometimes, she was really naïve and (sorry) a little stupid for someone of her age and education. On the other hand, she was a very compassionate, thoroughly good kind of person. Still, she sometimes had doormat qualities and that made it hard for me to really empathize with her and her decisions.

Mitchell was just despicable. He made Esme feel low on purpose. He was obviously more experienced than her – ten years older, accomplished, from old money, house in the Hamptons. It was obvious his family wouldn’t approve of Esme. Almost a cliché, actually, though there were some scenes with his father and Esme where the character gained more depth. I still don’t know what Mitchell’s deal really was with her. He kept popping up and disappearing and I basically wished he’d just stay gone.

Now, to something more positive that I really enjoyed: the cast of supporting characters around Esme! I loved her friend Stella – she was really supportive and always ready to pick her up, tell her the plain truth, and encourage her. Also, the people working at the bookstore or otherwise connected to it were very unique and wonderful characters. Especially George and Luke! The store was described in all its homey details and I wish there were places like that near where I live. It was really nice, to see a bunch of virtual strangers grow together around Esme and helping her support herself when Mitchell takes off.

I’m not sure what to make of the pace of the novel. Sometimes the switch between scenes was a little abrupt. Something was said, and I wished I could see the aftermath instead of it being the end of a chapter. I also think that some scenes could have been dropped to make the story feel more dynamic. Sometimes I wondered what it was all working towards, but then again I think this is one of the books where the journey is definitely more important than the destination. Most of the time I was happy to just follow along and see what would happen.

The novel also has ambitions to be Literary, but I’m not sure how well that worked out. There were a few nice references and nods to W.H. Auden's Musée des Beaux Arts, T.S. Eliot’s Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock (one of my favorite poems) and, I think, also to the ending of Joyce’s The Dead, but it didn’t really work for me in combination with the rest of the style and subject matter. Sometimes a character would make some profound statement, but it would stand out like a monologue, or seem a little pretentious, or it just didn’t strike me as something new that had never been said or noticed before. This is just me though, and it might be different for someone else.

Despite all that, I did enjoy The Bookstore, it just wasn’t quite as great as I had hoped. The cast of characters was diverse and engaging and it captured a New York atmosphere that made it easy to imagine myself walking through the city at Esme’s side. In spite of some of her decisions, I guess she is a likeable character and many other readers should be able to relate to her even at points when I couldn’t. I also liked the stance the book took in relation to her pregnancy and her decision to keep the baby and the consequences following from that. I’d recommend The Bookstore to those looking for a nice late-summer/early-autumn type of read that takes you on an emotional journey and leaves you on a positive note.

Have you read The Bookstore? What did you think of it? Did I just miss that spark of amazing? Or, if you haven't read it, does it sound like the type of book that interests you?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: demons for free

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 slow... I only got these two ebooks. Both amazon freebies. I got Jordyn because I'd heard about it,  the synopsis was interesting (demon hunters. I'm always up for that.) and I remembered some good reviews. Kojiki because the Japanese aspect called to me.

Jordyn, by Tiffany King
Hand to hand combat training: Check
Cardio and strength training: Check
Daemon hunting: Check
Anomaly: Check

Check, check, check, check...That's all my life is. There's nothing ordinary about me. I'm "special." I know this because I'm reminded of it every stinking day. I can kick a Daemon's ass with both hands tied behind my back. I can run up a mountain without breaking a sweat. Know what I can't do? Get guys to notice me, or hang out with friends like normal people do. I can't just be ordinary because I have an Arch Angel for a mentor who is always breathing down my neck, and a family of angelic Guides and Protectors who scrutinize every little thing I do. Just for a day I want a life where I'm no longer some anomaly, where I don't have to feel like a lab rat.

And then I met Emrys. Okay, so my mentor and family hate him, but probably for good reason. After-all, he is a Soul Trader, and they aren't the most trust worthy beings. But, he is sooo hot with his green eyes, leather jacket and the sexiest tattoo you've ever seen running down his back. And-he doesn't treat me like a project.

I've got myself in quite a little quandary here. Choosing between my responsibilities and the Trader that holds my heart is something I didn't sign up for. Torn between two different worlds, I must now decide who to trust and who to walk away from. What's a girl to do? See what I mean? I am an anomaly. I am Jordyn.

Kojiki, by Keith Yatsuhashi
When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”

Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession--that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honor her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.

Have you read one of the books? What did you think? Also, please link me up to your own book haul post :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Gretel and the Dark, by Eliza Granville

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: February 6, 2014
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardcover

Goodreads description:
Gretel and the Dark is Eliza Granville's dazzling novel of darkness, evil - and hope.Vienna, 1899.

Josef Breuer - celebrated psychoanalyst - is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings - to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta's Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the 'animal people', so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed . . .

Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairytales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich. Gretel and the Dark is her first novel to be published by a major publisher.

Okay. First of all? The time & setting. LOVE. Also, the relation to early psychoanalysis, and the sheer scope of the story that is hinted at in the description. Fairytales, the war, madness, maybe magic? Count me in! Especially if the book is also published on my 25th birthday ^^

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: things that make life as a reader/blogger easier

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.

So this week is about things that make life as a reader and/or book blogger easier

I joined about 2 years ago, a year before I started blogging. I can't even imagine my reader-life without GR now! How ever would I keep track of all the hundreds of books I want to read? Where would I hear about new books I might like? As a blogger, it's also where I get practically all my book cover pics and descriptions. As an international blogger, I appreciate getting an overview of all the different editions so I can decided which one to buy (I can choose between US/UK/whatever).

The Book Depository
Apart from being cheaper than (I use .de for print copies, .com for ebooks) sometimes, TBD gives me more choices between editions, ships just as quickly and also for free. Plus, I can use it for giveaway prizes and it's free wherever I need to ship.

NetGalley is an invaluable source for review copies especially for international bloggers! I don't really stand a chance at getting a physical ARC but I get lucky at Netgalley sometimes :) The downside is trying to limit yourself when it comes to requesting. Sometimes I get approved for more titles than I thought I would. Oops...

It's a great way to connect with other bloggers as well as authors! I've found a lot of great blogs via tweets that other bloggers retweeted. I must admit though that in the past few months I haven't been very active because I lack the time and because I spend less time on the computer in general. I hope that once I'm settled in my own apartment again I can slip back into my old, more social twitter habits!

My kindle
I still prefer print copies, but the kindle is convenient. I made do with the kindle app for my smartphone for quite a while, but my Kindle Fire is just so much more comfortable to read. The covers are pretty and in full color and I can also read my eARCs on it. However, I tend to buy too many cheap ebooks that sound awesome but that I never seem to get around to reading :(

Other blogs
I can't stress this enough. Checking out other blogs, their reviews, memes such as this one or WoW, has brought so many great books to my attention and I also met great bloggers through them :) If you're just starting out as a blogger, checking out how other bloggers handle things is also a good way of realizing what you think works (and might want to incorporate into your own blog) and what doesn't. Also, some of the 'bigger' bloggers have wonderful 'how-to' and 'book blogging 101' types of posts!

I buy a lot of books. I need a place to put them. IKEA shelves are cheap and easy to put together. Seriously, I miss having my books on shelves. I had about 300+ in my apartment and since I moved back to my parents', I think I've added another 50. They're all in boxes, tumbling out of boxes, stacked on the floor, mixed with CDs and DVDs... it's a mess! I can't wait to have them properly shelved again.

I enjoy having online book discussions, but it's also wonderful to meet with a friend, have some coffee, and discuss about how character X could do that and how Y could be so stupid and how Z is way underrated and omg how will it all go on in the next book?! I love having these conversations face to face! It also sometimes makes it easier to figure out what exactly I loved so much about a book or what that thing was that somehow nagged at me but that I couldn't put a finger on.

Understanding environment
Reading and blogging take a lot of time, and it's time usually spent alone. I'm glad the people in my life understand how important this is to me and give me that time, respect that I'm really lost in a book and sometimes can't hear them when they're talking to me, and just in general don't come nag at me every 5 minutes while I'm reading. It wasn't always this way, and it can make life as a reader very frustrating.

And lastly, one thing that isn't making my reading life easier: the library
Yes, you heard correctly. When I was in my teens, the library was cool. Problem: I no longer read German books. So now when I go to the library, I see all these amazing YA titles... in their German translations. Which I tend to really, really dislike because the tone, writing style etc get lost. So I'm in there but the books I want to read are the wrong language. There are usually English books as well but not the ones that interest me. So I'm not paying 30+ bucks a year for a membership (no free libraries around here...). The only thing I use the library for these days is research for me university classes. Which is a shame, really, because I love the idea of libraries!

What do you think of my list? Anything you object to, or anything totally obvious that I forgot? How does your human environment respond to your reading habits? I'm curious to here your opinion, and I'd love to check out your own lists :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Between the Devil and a Lovely 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 brought me two long pined for new releases! Also, as you're reading this I'm spending the weekend in Italy, so I'll get back to everyone on Monday :)


A Darkness Strange and Lovely, by Susan Dennard

Won from Jen at YA Romantics! Thanks again, I've been waiting for it to release for a year :)


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke

I've been pining for this since before it even had a cover! Can' wait to make it my next read once I finish Robin Wasserman's Book of Blood and Shadows!

Amazon freebie

Madly, by M. Leighton

I've seen some reviews of this one around so I thought I'd give it a try. It was free when I just looked it up on amazon, but you can check whether it still is here.

Also, I have two giveaways going on right now! Both are international and you can check them out in the top left sidebar :)

That's it, and I'm secretly glad because I have soooo many unread books and that always makes me twitchy >.< Have you already read any of these? If so, what did you think? And what's new on your shelves this week?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rogue by Gina Damico blog tour and scavenger hunt with an awesome giveaway!

Hey guys, today I am super excited to be part of the blog tour for Rogue, the last book in Gina Damico's awesome Croak Trilogy! If you love reapers, sarcasm, craziness and countless death jokes, you should definitely give this series a try! You can read my review of Scorch, the second book, here.
Also, check out the trailer!

And now I'm handing the word over to Gina Damico herself to explain to you guys how this tour is a little different from what you usually see around the blogosphere.

Hey hey Croak fans! Welcome to my blog tour / photo hunt / Roguestravaganza!

From now until ROGUE's release on September 10th, each stop on the tour will reveal an image that represents a chapter in the book - could refer to setting, plot, an important object, mood, or whatever other diabolical visualizations with which I feel like tormenting my dear readers. Each image also contains a hidden letter...though really, they're not that well hidden. (If you have eyes, you should be able to spot them.) Collect the letters every day, and at the end of the tour I'll hold a contest, the winner of which will receive signed and annotated copies of the complete trilogy. (For a complete description of the contest, tour schedule, and links to the stops you might have missed, check out the blog tour page on my website.)

So! This photo is for Chapter 4. I will let the image do the talking.

Thanks for having me! Good luck everyone!

What could this wooden fish possibly mean? Does it mark a town? Is it an omen for dinner? Is it a red herring? Post your theories in the comments and don't forget to follow the tour in order to figure out the solution to the contest!

Release date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

Plot Summary:
Teenage Grim Reaper Lex’s power to Damn souls is getting out of control. She's a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they're joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed...but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.


That's right! On every stop of the tour, Gina is giving away an awesome Croak prize pack! That's 3 signed bookmarks, 3 signed book plates, 3 magnets, and a scythe pendant! This is open internationally! Just follow the rules and enter the rafflecopter below :)

  • one entry per person/household
  • you must be at least 13 years old
  • winner will be emailed and has 48h to get back to me, otherwise I choose someone else
  • I give the winner's info to the author, she sends you the prize
  • cheating on one of your entries results in disqualification
  • please read carefully what I actually want in the rafflecopter entry box! (For instance, don't copy-paste your tweet, give me its URL!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review, character interview & giveaway: Steel Lily, by Megan Curd

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Steel Lily, Megan Curd's new YA dystopian steampunk novel! Below you can find more info about the book and author as well as my review, an interview I was lucky enough to get out of Jax, the male lead, as well as a giveaway for a t-shirt, autographed books and more!

Release date: August 12, 2013
Format: ebook
Book #1 in the Periodic Series

AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.

She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.

Or so she thinks.

That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.

…Which means digging deeper.

When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.

Megan Curd is a graduate of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. While having always enjoyed reading any books she could get her hands on, Megan didn’t begin writing until a friend encouraged her to do so while in college. When not writing, Megan enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to snowboard and travel to new places, and doesn’t turn down the opportunity to play xBox with her brother and friends when it presents itself. Megan currently resides in Stanton, Kentucky with her husband, son, and Great Dane named Dozer.

The following review is based on an eARC that was provided to me by the tour organizer in exchange for my honest opinion.

Steel Lily is set in an America of the not-so-distant future after World War III devastated the environment and the atmosphere. The surviving humans live in large domes where they try to keep things running and somehow, at some point, maybe populate the outside world again. At the moment, the air outside the domes is too toxic to breathe.

Avery Pike, our heroine, is a very gifted elementalist. At 15, she already takes classes with the 19-year-olds and her ability to transform water to steam, which powers the whole dome, is unparalleled. What I like about Avery is that her ability has not made her arrogant. She’s a very down-to-earth, realistic person and the fact that the government has granted her access to certain luxuries has not caused her to forget where she came from and what she lost.

Her parents disappeared a few years ago and apart from her childhood friends Alice and Legs she doesn’t really have anyone left. The loyalty and friendship between Avery and Alice was something I really enjoyed! Quite often in YA, the heroine doesn’t really have a good best girl friend with whom she has an equal relationship; there are often jealousies etc. and I was glad that this wasn’t the case here. The girls are their own family and they stick together when things get tough.

And in the world of Steel Lily, things get tough often. The majority of people are poor (there’s a strict class division), there is no electricity (steampower only), and the corrupt Polatzi forces keep everyone subdued. Speaking up or resisting is not a smart idea. The war may only be talked about in government-sanctioned education classes and over the course of the novel, it becomes clear that not everything Avery’s been taught is actually true. When a mysterious man called Atticus Riggs offers her the option of studying at Chromelius Academy, in another dome, she’s suspicious. But how can she say no when Riggs new her parents? When she could live at a place where she’d be less of an outsider? The decision is made for her when the Polatzi raid Alice’s place and the girls are lucky to escape alive with the help of Jaxon Pierce, who was sent by Riggs to collect them and get them out of the dome.

Jax was another reason why I enjoyed the novel so much. He’s a snarktastic smartass with a wonderful appreciation for sarcasm. He and Avery are at each other’s’ throats all the time but they are also clearly attracted to one another. Jax could have come off as a jerk but it’s clear from the beginning that his apparent confidence masks a lot of issues and vulnerabilities. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s hot in a grungy way and a genius mechanic and alchemist. Despite their mutual attraction, Avery has reason to mistrust him though and I liked that she didn’t just give in to him right away.

Chromelius Academy is in another dome and let’s just say that things are very different there… on the surface. There are dark things brewing and Avery and the friends she makes there (among them a girl hacker! I love hackers!) are right in the middle of it. But who’s trustworthy? Who is really saying the truth? Trapped between forces who have been at war for years, Avery has to choose sides. And either one wants to use her because of what it turns out she can do.

As you’ve probably gathered, the characters are what makes this novel amazing. They are all clearly drawn and have distinctive voices. The dialogue was authentic, snappy, and made me laugh a lot despite the sometimes bleak atmosphere of the world. The world building is very solid; the reader is given enough information to figure things out without being info-dumped. I’d like to know a little more about how the world became what it is, but the ending of the book suggests that we’ll learn more about that in the sequel.

The pacing is also great. After getting to know Avery’s world, the action comes in quite quickly and the balance between character-focused and plot-focused scenes works out very well. There’s always something going on but the pace didn’t leave me breathless either. I was always engaged and wanted to keep reading and making up theories.
My one complaint is related to that though. I suspected the main plot twist quite early on. I don’t know if that was just me picking up on the right vibes though, so it might be different for other people. In any case, there were a couple more twists after that one which totally blindsided me, and the whole novel ended up in a place I would never have guessed at the beginning!

On the whole, Steel Lily is an imaginative adventure set in a dystopian world relying on steam power and elemental abilities. The characters are well rounded, the dialogue is snarky and I was rooting for the romance developing between Avery and Jax. Both of them evolve over the course of the novel. The plot was a bit predictable in some cases and completely surprised me in others. I can’t wait to return to the world of Steel Lily in the next installment of the series!

Welcome to the blog, Jax! I’m thrilled you could take the time to leave your lab and come over here to answer a couple questions for us curious readers so they can get to know you!

Introductions first - describe yourself in 7 words.
Roguishly handsome devil with impossibly mesmerizing eyes. How’s that? *winks*

Let’s talk about Chromelius Academy. What is your most and your least favorite aspect about it?
I love the French toast. It’s phenomenal. And my least favorite thing is any day that French toast isn’t served. *smiles* Wait…did you want a serious answer? Okay, okay. I love the French toast…no, really. I do. And sneaking out to drive the Porsche I saved. As for dislikes…well, I would assume that’s obvious. The place isn’t what it seems. No one comes or goes on their own accord, even if that’s what they want you to believe.

The first time Avery meets you, you are driving a big steel contraption, one of your many inventions. Why don’t you tell us a little more about your abilities, and about what else you’re currently working on in your lab?
My main strength is alchemy—turning items into silver or gold. I really want to make something for Avery *glances around to see if she’s looking* when we’re not busy. Something that’ll really make her smile. Do you have any suggestions?

Oh, I think the present you gave her near the end of the book was perfect! So, speaking of Avery. What was your first impression of her, and how did it change as you got to know her better?
Well at first I thought she was a loony bin. I mean, really, who gets an entire military force chasing them around if they’re not a little crazy? But then I got to know her, and… she’s different. In a good way. Special. *looks off* I’m glad I have her in my life.

Having gone through all the momentous events and revelations at the end of Steel Lily, what are your hopes for the future?
I want to have a life that means more than just surviving. I want to help people see what potential there is… and I hope we can do that. Plus I want to get to know Avery better. She’s amazing.

Tell us something you’re proud of and something you regret?
Something I’m proud of? Designing the star mural that’s inlaid in the floor at Chromelius Academy. Something I regret? My choices at Chromelius. I want to learn from them and become someone better in the future, if that makes sense.

Thanks again for stopping by Jax! It was awesome to get to know you better!

So now that you've read my review and got to know Jax, what do you think about Steel Lily? I hope I could whet your appetite! You can follow along with the tour and check out more guest posts, excerpts and interviews - the schedule is below. And don't forget to enter the giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 12th
Into the Land of Books-Author Interview, Top Ten, Excerpt
Books For A Delicate Eternity-Review, Character Interview
Avid Reader Musings-Review, Excerpt
Enchanted Endpapers-Review, Interview
The Small Nerd-Review, Author Interview
Girl in the Woods Reviews-Review, Excerpt

August 13th
A Book Vacation-Review, Guest Post/Top Ten, Excerpt

August 14th
SassyCat's Books Review- Guest Post, Author Interview, Character Interview
Oops! I Read A Book Again- Guest Post/Top Ten, Character Interview, Excerpt
Little Hyuts-Review
BookEnd 2 BookEnd-Review, Excerpt
Momma Says Read-Review, Interview, Top Ten List (moved to 17th)
Live, Love, Laugh-Guest Post, Excerpt
Dizneeee's World of Books-Review, Guest Post, Excerpt
Faerie Tale Books-Review, Excerpt

August 15th
Upon The Wings of Greater Things- Review, Author Interview
Such A Novel Idea-Review, Interview, Excerpt
Shelfspace Needed-Review, Character Interview, Excerpt
the flirty reader-Review, Interview
Book Groupies-Excerpt, Top Ten
Chibi Reader-Review, Guest Post
Bibliophilia, Please-Guest Post, Interview, Excerpt

August 16th
TSK TSK What to Read-Review, Character Interview
Books Forget Me Knot- Review, Excerpt
paranormal book club- Review, Excerpt
Book 2 Book-Review
Book Soulmates-Guest Post, Author Interview, Top Ten
Racing To Read-Review, Top Ten List
Reads and Thoughts-Review, Top Ten List

August 17th
Life with Lesley-Review, Excerpt
Reading Rainblog-Review, Guest Post, Excerpt
Becky’s Barmy Book Blog-Guest Post, Author Interview,Character Interview, Top Ten
Paperback cowgirl reviews-Excerpt, Top Ten List

August 18th
Black Lilies Are Deadly-Review, Excerpt
Reader Girls- Review, Top Ten List
Write Away Bliss-Review, Character Interview
Paperback Princess-Review, Author Interview, Character Interview, Top Ten List
Girls With Books- Review, Guest Post
Manga Maniac Cafe-Author Interview, Character Interview
Blkosiner’s Book Blog-Guest Post, Author Interview, Character Interview, Excerpt, Top Ten
read more sleep less-Review, Interview

August 19th
My Bookopolis-Review & Excerpt
Mercurial Musings-Guest Post, Author Interview, Character Interview, Excerpt, Top Ten List
TeamNerd Reviews-Review, Excerpt
Brooke Blogs-Guest Post
JeanzBookReadNReview-Review, Interview, Excerpt
Jess resides here-Guest Post, Excerpt, Top Ten List
Working for the Mandroid-Review, Guest Post, Top Ten List
deal sharing aunt-Top Ten List
The Bearded Scribe-Review, Interview
Mercy Amare-Review
Geek Goes Rogue-Review, Guest Post, Interview
Book Infatuation-Review, Excerpt
Project Read and Review-Interview, Excerpt
Two-Tall-Tales-Guest Post
Starlight Book Reviews-Review, Excerpt
girls in the stacks-Review, Interview