Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: in which angels fall and witches are found

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 :)

Hey guys... here's to another week of me not posting all that much, but at least I got a review up yesterday :) You can click it in the left sidebar.

For review

Witch Finder, by Ruth Warburton

The plot sounds really interesting and it's set in my favorite time period :)


Premeditated, by Josin L. McQuein

I won this one from Wendy at The Midnight Garden and I can't thank her enough! I've wanted to read that one since more than a year before it came out and it was totally worth the wait! (Yes, I've already read it... couldn't resist)


Angelfall, by Susan Ee
Lick, by Kylie Scot

People have been raving about Angelfall for forever, so when I found it for a reasonable price at the bookstore I decided I'd resisted long enough. As for Lick, the whole rockstar, waking-up-married-in-Vegas thing isn't usually my first choice but it sounded cool and I've read a lot of positive reviews... so we'll see.

That's it from me! Have you read any of them? And what did you get this week?

New Adult Review: Hushed, by Kelley York

Release date: November 11, 2013 (previously released Nov 30 2011)
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Format: ebook, 244 pages

Goodreads description:
He’s loved her. Killed for her. Yet he may not be able to save her.
Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids. Since then, he’s never stopped trying to shelter her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when skipping from one toxic relationship to another. Archer is always there, reeled in and tossed out, waiting to be noticed.

Then Evan Bishop breezes into town with a warm smile and calming touch, and Archer can’t deny his attraction to him. Evan is the only person who keeps him around without a single string attached. And the harder Archer falls for Evan, the more he sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and once she finds out Archer’s dark secret, she threatens to expose the truth if she doesn’t get what she wants. And what she wants is for him to end his relationship with Evan...permanently. 

Amazon    B&N  

The following review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you, Entangled :)

I started Hushed this morning and just finished reading. I don’t quite know what to say… I kind of knew it would be good (I’ve wanted to read it for more than a year), but I wasn’t prepared for how intense this story would be. It definitely packs one hell of a punch. It’s an unconventional and courageous book on a number of levels. I’ll just try to give you an impression without spoiling anything.

Hushed begins with Archer, our main character, forcing a guy to kill himself via an overdose. He doesn’t like it, but he also feels no regrets. It wasn’t the first time. And it made me really uncomfortable as a reader, because we’re not used to being made complicit with a murderer. The murderer isn’t usually the main character, it’s the villain, right?

It took me a while to warm up to Archer, understand where he was coming from, why he did what he did. He remains controversial throughout the book, and I liked that. He also goes through a huge character development and I loved how complex he was, how the writing never tried to apologize for him or ‘force’ the reader to sympathize/throw a pity party. The style was sparse and straightforward and that worked perfectly. Even though everything is told in the third person, I never felt distant from Archer, I was right there, sometimes closer than I was comfortable being. But I think that’s a sign of good literature – it makes you uncomfortable. I was also unable to stop reading or ‘look away’, hence why I finished the story in half a day.

Archer is a withdrawn college freshman who’s gone through too much in his short life. He keeps himself on a tight leash. His whole life revolves around Vivian, the girl who’s been his best friend and only love for his entire life. He’d do anything for her. Really anything. If she’d only notice that he was the only guy who’s never hurt her, always been there for her… At first that didn’t make me like him. I had the impression that he was the typical friendzoned guy who wasn’t dealing well, but it soon turned out that the reasons for his behavior were different and more complex. He and Viv seemed to be chained together and their relationship was very very unhealthy and co-dependent. I had to keep thinking about that quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” For Vivian apparently that meant running back to the guy who beat her up and using Archer to fall back on whenever she needed him inbetween.

Then there’s Evan, a new addition to their circle of friends. He is the only one not put off my Archer’s rather anti-social behavior. He seeks him out, wants to spend time with and listen to him. He makes him start to stand up for himself when it comes to Vivian; he makes him think he might be able to be a better person. That his whole life doesn’t have to revolve around a selfish person dragging him down and never giving anything in return. Their friendship and relationship evolves very naturally and gradually, it never felt forced or contrived and I never had the impression that the book/author tried to make a big deal out of it (the fact that they’re both guys, I mean). I really like that – that’s it’s simply two people finding each other and growing closer and not so much about Archer coming to terms with feeling something for a guy.

However, there’s the bodycount. And if you have a problem with violence, then maybe this isn’t the book for you. It’s never gratuitous, but it’s also unapologetic and at times graphic. At first I was almost shocked at how Archer just seemed to take the kills in stride… but then something changes, and he’s no longer sure he wants to go on as he did. The walls he’s built around himself begin to crumble. People get suspicious, questions are asked, lies told. How will Archer react when Viv goes off the deep end? Will Evan stay with him when he finds out what Archer’s done?

Despite the murder plot, Hushed is very character-focused, but it never felt slow. There was always a lot going on either on an emotional or a plot level. The book is perfectly structured and well-paced; never breathless, never boring. I was completely immersed. Hoping, fearing, hurting, not knowing what to think and who I wanted to get caught. There were dramatic scenes, but no ‘milking the drama’ or overdoing things in a ridiculous way to increase the tension.

If you’re looking for a dark New Adult read that deals with heavy themes and is well-written and gritty, go for it. If you want something fluffy and fun, look elsewhere. The ending was satisfying but realistic and as far as I know, there is no sequel planned. If you enjoy books that dare to push the limits a bit and have atypical characters that you can’t always root for unconditionally, I think Hushed is the book for you. It always forces you to reconsider your position to what is happening. In any case, I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read it. It was thought-provoking and cathartic and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Kelley York’s work.

Have you read Hushed? What did you think? If not, do you think this might be a book for you? Have you read anything similar?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I'm Thankful For

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 things we're thankful for, be they book-related or not. My country doesn't do thanksgiving and turkeys and all that, but I still think this is an important thing to make oneself aware of every now and again. I'll try to mix the bookish and non-bookish things up a little.

My family and friends
Because without them, I would probably drop into a hole of my own making.

All the writers
Without their stories, the world would be poorer, grayer, less diverse place. I don't know what I'd do without all the people with the courage to write and share stories and put them out there for the public to love or hate.

Creative people in general
Not just writers, also artists, photographers, film makers, dancers, street performers, musicians, designers... anyone following their dream and bringing the creative offspring of their brain into the world.

Having an apartment and a job
Finding an affordable place is really hard in this city and even though I'll have to move out again by July at the latest, I'm still grateful I've got this place for the time being. As well as a stable job to keep me afloat while I finish my MA.

The internet
Without the internet, I would never have found like-minded people as a teen. Without Myspace, I wouldn't have had an amazing time as a 17-year-old finally meeting people who were into the same music I was and lived in the same country. Without the internet, I wouldn't have found out about book blogs via Twitter and I wouldn't have met all the amazing authors and bloggers and other readers that I have, and you guys really lighten up my live :)

Netgalley / Edelweiss
Without the opportunities for eARCs, I'd be screwed as an international blogger on that front.

Book cover designers
Because of all the prettyyyy they give us to look at :) I know this is a minor thing but it makes me ridiculously happy sometimes ^^''

Bands touring...
... and not avoiding Switzerland when they come to Europe! It happens all the time (though it was worse a couple years ago) so whenever a favorite band actually stops in Switzerland, I'm a happy girl :)

This might sound sappy, but sometimes I really need poetry. I just need to get home and open my Stephen Crane or I need a certain part of that Swinburne or Baudelaire poem. Or to read Eliot's Prufrock in its entirety. It grounds me.

This goes into some of what I've mentioned above, but it's not just other writers/creative people I'm grateful for, it's also being able to sit down and write myself. It's become such a big part of my identity, I can't imagine being without it or losing the ability to do it.

I could have listed a lot of other things I guess, but these are some of the most important ones I could think of. I think I also merged quite a lot under that 'internet' thing. Oh well. What are you guys thankful for?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Shatter Me in the Space Between the Hushed and Nameless Stars

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 :)

Hey guys! I'm slowly getting back to blogging... I actually wanted to write and post my Crash Into You review today but I ended up opening Allegiant this morning and I read all day instead of doing anything else and I just finished it and now I'm... processing.
That was an awful sentence. Ahem.

Anyway, these are the books I got in the past week:

For review

Me Since You, by Laura Wiess
Hushed, by Kelley York

I really wanted to read both books ever since I first heard about them, which was more than a year ago! I wasn't expecting to be approved for either of them :)

Bought in print
The Space Between, by Brenna Yovanoff
Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi

I got The Space Between via Better World Books. It's a used library copy so it was cheaper, but it's still in really good condition. And yes, I finally gave in and got Shatter Me! I just opened it up and even on the first 5 or so pages, the prose is already gorgeous!

Bought ebooks

Among the Nameless Stars, by Diana Peterfreund
For Real, by Chelsea Cameron

Among the Nameless Stars was for free and I guess it's a good way to check out Diana Peterfreund's writing. And For Real was a spontaneous buy and soooo worth it! Really, if you want a great NA that is not just about banging the bad boy, you should read it! It was the perfect combo of fun and serious :)

That's it from me this week. What do you think of my new pretties? And what did you get this week?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: MILA 2.0 - Renegade, by Debra Driza

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: March 13, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages

Goodreads description:
There is no one left for Mila to trust. Except for a boy she barely knows.

But Hunter has no idea who—and what—Mila really is. She can’t bear to reveal her secret, even though he’s unwittingly joined her search for Richard Grady, a man who may know more details of Mila’s complicated past.

Yet the road to the truth is more dangerous than ever. With General Holland and the Vita Obscura scouring the earth for her whereabouts, Mila must rely on her newfound android abilities to protect herself and Hunter from imminent harm. Still, embracing her identity as a machine leads her to question the state of her humanity—as well as Hunter’s real motives.

Perfect for fans of I Am Number Four and Divergent, this action-packed and heart-wrenching second installment of MILA 2.0 will leave readers breathlessly awaiting the series conclusion.

I really enjoyed Mila 2.0 (my review) and I'm excited to see how her story continues! I like that the problem of her and Hunter barely knowing each other will be dealt with. Also, it sounds totally action-packed with lots of secrets to rack up the tension :)
Have you heard of the series? What book are you spotlighting this week?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Get To Know Me: Zurich in Pictures, Pillow Fights, and Sirius

Hey guys, as I said yesterday in my Stacking the Shelves post... it's been a while. The reason is a combination of going to concerts, my master thesis that needs to be written in half the usually alotted time if I want to graduate this summer, general course work, and me not feeling very well. I spent last weekend in bed watching series( I wasn't sick, just listless). I also didn't get much reading done in the last two or so weeks, though I finished Crash Into You yesterday and will hopefully write a review once I finish this post (heads-up: it's amazing!).

I know I promised a shelf- and apartment tour, but I need my sister to film that during daylight and she had to work all of today and yesterday. Besides, I still want to hang up some posters etc. before I show off the apartment. So what I'll give you instead is a couple pictures I shot of Zurich, my Wahlheimat (according to my dictionary that means 'adopted home' but I'm not happy with that translation. It's more like 'chosen home'). They're from different years, and if you like them I can post many more. Most people associate only banks, fancy rich people and a stressed, unfriendly atmosphere with this city, and that's not true at all. It's a very multi-faceted place.

At about 396,000 people, it's also Switzerland's biggest city. I know this must seem ridiculous to many of you Americans, but I really like the size. It makes me feel that if there's something I want, I can get it in this city if I know where to look. At the same time, I can walk many places (or just jump on the Tram or bus real quick - you're better off without a car here) and I always know where I am.

All the following pictures are my own, so please don't take them without asking/crediting me. Click them to make them bigger.

Views from the river bridges in the summer. The Limmat river always has such a clear color then, I'm always tempted to jump right in (as some people do near the lake).

Zurich main station. It looks fairly empty now, but it's packed during rush hour and in a week or so, the space will be taken up by Europe's largest indoor Christmas market.

This is the Bahnhofstrasse. It goes on all the way to the lake. After a few hundered meters, I can't afford anything anymore. Chanel, Dior, Luis Vuitton, Armani, Burberry, Jimmy Choo... you name it, they have a shop there. The closer you get to the lake, the more people in suits and expensive cars you see.

See that store on the left? That's Orell Fuessli The Bookshop, the largest English-only book shop in town. Now you know where my money goes :P The alley on the other side is the Rennweg. I can't afford things there, but they're pretty to look at.

Lake Zurich. On a clearer day, you could see all the way to the Alps.

This is the town center. If I did a 180, you'd  see the lake again. There are a lot of beautiful old buildings to the left and right of the river. So let's go there. The following shots are from the old part of town, the Niederdörfli. There are a lot of small shops, bars, and pubs there. People live there too (if they can afford it or have been living there for decades when it was cheaper).

 The Konditorei Schober is very expensive (and yummy) and has got tradition. If you like your tea and cake - go there.

 This work of art is hidden in a side-alley.

 If you follow this alley, you get back down the river.
So... that's one side of that part of town. At night, there are parts of it full of cabarets, strip clubs, brothels. There's a small square where you've got a tiny Starbucks and a candy store right opposite a porn cinema. The seedy and the traditional and the commercial all right next to each other.

And one time, there were camels. I don't know whether they came from the circus or the zoo...

 Probably not Harry Potter related, but it made me grin ;)
 I have also participated in National Pillow-Fight Day. Everyone had a lot of fun! You could either bring your own pillow or buy one for five bucks.

On to some university life! This is the English Department building. Small, but cozy. Everyone knows everyone. The floors creak when you walk on them because it's so old. We have a 'Kafistübli' though, which is a room with sofas, a couple computers, and tables where everyone can relax, chat, or study (not many departments have those). There's even a piano. Sometimes we also have cake sales and other events there.

 Behold the library entry. It's small but it's great if you're looking for something quieter to work. I've now got my own table there, which is great because I can leave some books there and don't have to lug that many around with me.

 This little piece of lawn is next to the main building. Everyone's chilling out in the garden during lunch period in the summer. Or, you know, sometimes also a little longer than just lunch ;)
This is the Lichthof (light court). It's got a glass ceiling, so it's always light (and loud) down there. It's the heart of the main building. You can get food from the cafeteria - if you're quick enough to get a spot to sit. I like to sit in the arches with the pillars you can see on the other side. It's quiet and you can watch everything.

Winter view from the window of my old apartment. It was at the edge of the woods of the Uetliberg, but as you can see it was also close to the city. I loved watching the lights twinkle. No more of that now, but I can step out onto a court with trees now. That'll be nice in the spring.

What you haven't seen here: pictures from the Langstrasse and the Trams. I really want to shoot a couple of those. The Langstrasse is kind of a 'problem' area because of all the bars and... other establishments. In the 90s, there was also a huge drug problem. But now it's where a big chunk of the 18-25 or 30 year-olds go on a Friday or Saturday night.

Hm... I actually wanted to tuck a short story into this post, but I think it's long enough already. What type of things would you like to see in the Get To Know Me posts in the future? More pictures of Zurich / other cities I've traveled to (Prague, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Milan, Florence, Dresden, London...)? Me blathering about movies or music? I'd also kind of like to do a post about cultural differences between Switzerland and the US. It could be fun to talk about weird habits/preconceived notions (and how they're maybe wrong) but I'm also a bit scared of stepping on people's toes. An alternative would be something about weird Swiss German words - I could make a video of that so you could actually hear them.
I could also post more short stories, if people want to read them. Basically I'll try to keep these Sunday posts varied.
So what do you think of 'my' city? Do you like it? Any questions? Where are you from, and where do you want to live one day? P.S.: kudos for making it all the way to the bottom ;)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Foxes with Allegiant Adrenaline Rushes Meet Witches and Moths

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 :)

Hey guys... I'm still alive. I never intended to take a one-and-a-half week blogging break but a combination of me being very busy and not feeling well happened and I just couldn't bring myself to write posts. It also took me an entire week to read Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is ridiculous because that book has only 230 pages. There just wasn't time to read :( I hope I can pick myself up again a bit and that the coming weeks will be better.

Here's what I got in the last 3 weeks:

Bought in print
Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence

I was so mad when my preordered copy of Allegiant didn't arrive until almost a week after release day, but now I haven't had time to read it >.< GAhhhh I'm sick of avoiding reviews! Need to get to it soon.
Prince of Thorns is a book I've been staring at at the store for over a year. When I went on Halloween because I was feeling so un-halloweeny (sadly) and heard that the staff dressed up (they looked awesome), I didn't want to leave empy-handed. I wanted something violent and bloody. On the first page, there was mention of crows and war and blood and corpses, so I had to get the book.
I realize that makes me sound like a psycho. Oh well.

My precious

You may or may not know that I'm into old books. I've wanted a nice copy of Swinburne's poems for a long time, so when I found one on ebay for only 10£ plus very reasonable shipping, I was delighted! It's really very pretty. There's even gold foil along the upper ridge of the pages.
The problem: When I opened it, the front cover fell clean off >.< So I brought it to a guy in the Old Town part of the city who has a bookbinder and book restorer workshop. He can fix it, but it costs me about 60 Swiss francs (65$). *sigh* It hurts, but it's worth it. That's my lesson - no more old books from ebay.

Now, on to the digital side of things...

For review / tour:

Angelbound, by Christina Bauer
Adrenaline Rush, by Cindy M. Hogan

As I said, I don't have that much time at the moment and have decided not to accept any more tour invites or review requests for the time being, but I just couldn't resist these two...

Bought ebooks

The Witch of Duva, by Leigh Bardugo
The Too-Clever Fox, by Leigh Bardugo
The Moth in the Mirror, by A.G. Howard
Red Fox, by Karina Halle
The Iron Bells, by Jeanette Battista

I had completely forgotten about Leigh Bardugo's novellas! Witch of Duva will tie me over until Siege and Storm is out in the right paperback edition to match Shadow and Bone.
As for Moth in the Mirror, it took until earlier this week for it to be on amazon in such a way that I could buy it from my location! Rather frustrating. But it was worth the wait :)
Red Fox was on sale, and I already have book 1 in the Experiments in Terror series. Haven't read it yet, but I loved Halle's style in another one of her books that I have read, so I'm sure this series is amazing as well. The Iron Bells was a spontaneous buy because I was intrigued with the world that was hinted at in the description.

Alright, I think that was all of them... as I said above, I haven't been such a good blogger lately as in writing posts and returning comments and such, but I need to get over myself so I promise to get back to everybody this time :)