Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Half Bad, by Sally Green

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 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages

Goodreads description:
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

What attracts me to this one is mostly the idea of being trapped between two extremes with nowhere to go. What are those gifts Nathan is to receive from his father? How does this society work? Also, I haven't read many books about witches that had male protagonists.
I know this one has been around quite a bit, but what are your thoughts? And what did you pick this week? 
Also, I'm currently giving away 3 swag packs, many items signed! Check the left sidebar ;) Open internationally.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Worlds I would NEVER want to live in

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.

Hey guys :) This week's top ten is about book world's we'd NEVER want to live in, no matter how much we liked the actual story. Or about character's whose shoes we'd never want to walk in. I'll give you 5 of each.

World's I prefer watching from the outside

Fever series - Karen Marie Moning
After the walls come down and the dark fey enter the world, most humans die. No power, little food, lots of baddies... I'd be toast.

Blood of Eden - Julie Kagawa
Either donate blood to your local vampire or live on scraps and be backstabbed or killed by rabids? Again, I'm not the most physically fit person. I wouldn't make it for too long. And it's a very bleak and hungry kind of life.

Wither - Lauren DeStefano
To be kidnapped on the street and sold to some old rich dude to bear his babies, then die at 18? Can't imagine anything much more horrible. Pregnant over and over, then death *shudders*

Any totalitarian regime that restricts knowledge and burns books
Book burning is one of the worst things ever, and one that makes me the angriest. Destruction of knowledge, of beauty... no. Think Fahrenheit 451. Definitely not a society I'd want to live in.

Coldtown - Holly Black
I'm actually divided on this one. Living in a Coldtown is very dangerous. You can never get out. Law is barely existent.You need connections, and you need your wits. Vampire slaying skills are advisable. And yet... I do feel the allure of the place. The never-ending parties. Immortal creatures. Desire. Passion. I admit, I feel torn. In the end I wouldn't make it though.

Characters I wouldn't want to trade places with

Cassel from the Curse Worker series by Holly Black
If you can't even trust your brothers or you mom, life is bleak. Loving the daughter of the biggest crime lord around, also not good. Having an ability everyone wants to use to strengthen their own position? Yeah, better make sure they never find out...
Seriously, ma heart ached for Cassel :(

Karou - Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
The things that girl is forced to do... and her position is even worse at the end of that book than it was at the beginning!

Juliet - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Slandered, beaten, bullied, put away into asylums and detention centers, isolated, forced into electroshock therapy... there's pretty much nothing that girl hasn't been subjected to. And her touch kills. Everyone. Apart from maybe the son of her worst enemy, who used to hold her prisoner.
Yeah, being Juliet truly sucks, despite her incredible powers.

Kaylee - Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent
That girl never gets a moment of peace. Some hellion always wants her soul, or her loved one's souls, or is possessing innocent strangers... her love life isn't a piece of cake either. Though I sure wouldn't mind spending some time with Tod ;)

Matthew Swift - Urban Magic series by Kate Griffin
That dude. Always in over his head! Made Midnight Mayor against his will. Always some crazy sorcerer or fey queen or other strange personified part of the city to deal with. Not to mention the annoyingness and not quite trustworthiness of his own Aldermen. Let's not even talk about the women in his life. The guy doesn't stand a chance. I feel this strange affection for him though. Can't resist the scruffy reluctant hero type with awesome magic, I suppose.

This was actually harder than I thought! What do you think of my picks, and what/who made your list?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

SIGNED swag giveaway! Open Int :)

Hey guys, I know I promised this giveaway about a week ago but life go in the way... okay, Assassin's Creed got in the way, too. I bought an Xbox with my sister last week and we've never owned one (or a playstation, or a game boy, or any gaming device) before. So I've been busy climbing roofs and throwing knives at people :P

I love those leaps of faith from spires. Picture found here.
Ahem. Anyway, why this giveaway? First off, because I haven't done one independently of any hop or promo in quite a while. Secondly, thanks to you guys the blog just passed 68,000 pageviews! That might seem ridiculous to some of the bigger bloggers but it means a lot to me, so thank you! :) The amount of followers, commenters, and regular pageviews is something I had never anticipated a year ago! I hope I can keep posting things that will have you coming back! Sorry there haven't been many reviews, I'll try to post at least one next week! I'm also planning on a post with tips for new bloggers, though I feel a bit strange acting like I'm some sort of 'expert' in a position to dole out advice.

Thirdly, I recently looked over the amount of swag I accumulated in the past 2 years or so and realized that I don't really need all of this stuff. Of some signed bookmarks I got about half a dozen, so I might as well give a couple of them away ;)

The deets
  • There are 3 swagpacks, 2 of them containing signed things, 1 unsigned but with more items to make it fairer
  • One entry per person/household, but you may enter all 3 rafflecopter forms. You can only win once though.
  • Open internationally, items to be shipped by me. I'm not responsible for stuff that is lost in the mail.
  • All entries will be verified before I pick a winner. You cheat - you're DELETED.
  • Winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, after that I will pick someone else.
  • I reserve the right to make small changes to the rules/rafflecopter form and/or end the giveaway early.

Here are the pictures of what you can win, you'll find the rafflecopter forms below them at he bottom. Good luck!

Swag pack 1
- signed bookmark for Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for Black City by Elizabeth Richards
-iPhone 4/4S skin for Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (unsigned)

Swag pack 2
- signed bookmark for Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for Black City by Elizabeth Richards
-signed bookmark for The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
-bookmark for Adaptation by Malinda Lo (unsigned)

Swag pack 3
All of this is unsigned!!
-Dark Companion by Marta Acosta bookmark
-Dark Companion by Marta Acosta iPhone 4/4s skin
-Fierce Reads bookmark
-The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton pin/button (safety pin on the back)
-Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare cover postcard

If there is any problem with the entry forms or if you have a question, let me know on twitter! @Butterfly_Ghost

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: Scars, Death, Gargoyles and Witches have Notebooks

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

I didn't buy any physical books this week, but I forgot two in my haul last week that I'd gotten in Belgium! So here they are, along with my new ebooks.
Generally I didn't get very far with my for-fun reading this week. I delved into literature I need for my MA thesis, so I'm almost done with H.G. Wells' Island of Doctor Moreau and got some secondary literature reading done.

For review

The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos

I read some reviews of this one by a few blogger friends and when I saw it was still on Netgalley, I snagged it.

Bought in Belgium

Death: The Hight Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman / Dave McKean
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson

I'd wanted Death for a while but it's hard to find around here, so when I came across it in a comic store in Antwerp, I needed it!
The Gargoyle I got in a second hand books store in the same city. A friend recommended it to me back when it came out so I thought it was about time I gave it a try. I read the beginning on hte plane back home and I know why he wanted me to have it. The narrator isn't anything like what I've read before and the prose is both literary and unapologetically direct at the same time.


Maya's Notebook, by Isabel Allende
Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert

Maya's Notebook is one I'd stared at at the bookstore for a while, and I snagged it on amazon when it was on sale. I read one of Allende's books as a teen and really liked it.
Season of the Witch was a spontaneous buy, I saw that Lexxie from (Un)conventional Book Reviews had it in her haul last week, checked it out, read a sample, and was hooked! The mixture of hacking, mental powers, magic, and a gothic mansion... I couldn't resist.

This is it from me :) What did you get in the past week? Also, I'll be posting a giveaway for some signed swag later today, and it's international - so check back here ;)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Otherbound, by Corinne Duyvis

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: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Goodreads description:
Everyone has a theory about what’s wrong with Nolan. He has hallucinations. He has seizures. He has an overactive imagination. Or is what Nolan sees whenever he closes his eyes impossibly, fantastically real?

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every single time he blinks, he’s transported into the mind of Amara, a girl in another world. As a mute servant who’s tasked with protecting a renegade princess, Amara lives a life of magic and danger and pain; she’s completely unaware that Nolan can see through her eyes.

Until he becomes more than an observer. Until he learns to control her—and the two of them communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then furious. She’s already spent a lifetime as property and punching bag. The last thing she needs is another force controlling her.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive . . . and discover the truth about their connection.

This book seems to combine a number of elements I find interesting: the imagination/hallucinations, possibly unreliable narrators, mind-sharing, fantasy, parallel worlds, a lower-class girl who has her wits about her, a connection that could develop into a complex friendship. Yup, count me in!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Things on my reading wishlist

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.

Today is about things on our reading wishlist, meaning things we'd like authors to write about (not books we wish we owned). Books that aren't written, at least as far as we know.
To be honest this is really hard. I used to have a lot of these wishes/ideas when I was younger, but I think I've grown a bit jaded over time. I haven't thought about this in a long time, I usually just think "oh wow, what a cool idea!" when I see a book that sounds awesome to me, but I rarely actively think about what I'd like to see. Let's give this a try though.

More diversity
This is a very general wish. I'd love to see more stories with characters from non-white backgrounds as main characters (rather than sidekicks). Same goes for characters with a disability or illness, LGBT characters... you get the idea. I know these books are there but they're a tiny minority compared to the bulk of literature being written and published.

Something steampunky and magical with libraries
Yup. I want gaslight and rolling ladders on the shelves and books books books. Maybe a scientist. Zeppelins. Secret passageways. Late Victorian London and its underworld. Adventure. A dash of romance. Obviously, there are already a lot of books there but I feel like I'm looking for a very specific vibe, and so far I haven't quite found it.

Something written from the POV of the villain
If there is a villain-POV book out there that you've enjoyed - please send me a link to info about it! Villains are so compelling. And I want to read from the POV of one who is unrepentantly evil. Maybe also a tad snarky.
I might just have to write the person myself.

A fantasy set in the 'old' Japan
I know there is Stormdancer but I've read such mixed reviews about the way the author represented the culture, I don't know what to think and whether I should read it. Basically I want Japanese customs, architecture, rice paper walls, secrets, samurai, ninjas, and an awesome girl character. I want part accurate historical depiction, but also fantasy elements and magic. Something a bit like Across the Nightingale Floor, but with a different focus.

Something set in a Carnival or Circus
You know, kind of like the HBO series Carnivale meets Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. I'm not sure what I'd like to happen, it's the setting that intrigues me. Maybe in the 1890s, with some spiritualism thrown in. If you know of something like that - link me up, please!

Urban Fantasy set in Zurich
I know, I know. But seriously, there are UFs set all over the US and some in the UK, but not all that much that I know of set in central Europe (I know a few set in Prague). I'd loooove to see my own city in a new, magical way!

Written from the POV of Death
I know there already are books like that out there, for instance The Book Thief, but somehow they aren't quite what I'm looking for, at least those I've read. In The Book Thief, it's more about what happens to Liesl and the Third Reich than Death as a character/entity/perspective. I'd love unique writing and rich lore. I guess I'm looking for a specific tone in the writing that I can't quite describe.

A really great vampire novel
I know, vague and there are tons and tons of vampire books out there. But I want something new. I want to be swept away as I first was by The Vampire Lestat, or by Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls. I don't want romanticized sparkly vampires or gloom-and-doom tortured souls. I want a vampire who revels in being what he or she is. Something decadent. Something kind of like Holly Black's Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

A Modern Retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray
Has this been done? If so, link please! I love Wilde's story and I'd be very curious about a modern take on it. And very open to how it's done.

This is only 8 things but I think I'll leave it at that. What do you think of my ideas? Any books that could match what I'm looking for? And what's on your wishlist?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Get To Know Me: That time I went to Belgium and watched Christmas trees burn

Hey guys and welcome to another Get To Know Me post! I do these sporadically on Sundays to divulge some stuff about my life aside from books and share things from what I'm up to when I'm not blogging. This time, I'd like to tell you about my trip to Belgium that I got back from last Monday. There are A LOT of pictures, so I'm sorry if the post loads a bit slowly for some of you!

Why did I go to Belgium, you may ask? Well, to keep it short - my best friend fell in love and moved there to be with her boyfriend in Kontich, a small town near Antwerpen. I miss her. She wanted me to visit. I was more than okay with that. Flights with Easyjet are very cheap and only take an hour from Basel to Brussels - there you go. I flew in Thursday evening and my friend and the BF got me in Brussels with his car. Back in Kontich, we stayed in at their apartment, cooked, and watched the last two episodes of Game of Thrones, season 2. Who doesn't like wildfire and dragons?

Anyway, here's a picture to show you how I basically slept in their library:
The heap at the bottom is the pillows on my mattress. My friend is as book crazy as I am, so now the study is also the book room. Another cool thing in their apartment? They have a shelf in the mini-bathroom that is comics and manga only. My inner nerd approves.

Anyway, on Friday, we got up sort-of-early and took the train to Antwerpen. It's a very beautiful city! We did some sightseeing and shopping and later met with a friend of theirs for coffee. It was a lot of fun! There was also a used books store and a comic and manga nerd-store (also English ones!) involved ;) See?
This life-size spiderman is on the outside wall of the store.

They had a bit of everything.
You guys, I could've bought so many mangas that I usually have to order from the internet >.< But I restrained myself. Instead, I bought Neil Gaiman's Death - The High Cost of Living, a companion to his Sandman graphic novel series that I'd been looking for for a long time! Silly me forgot it my StS post from yesterday, so I'll add it next week.

Here are some more impressions. If I know what the buildings are, I'm adding it to the captions. Click the pics to make them bigger.

This one and the next 3 pictures are from inside the railway station. It was so beautiful!!

Random snapshot from one of the squares


This one is from inside what used to be an 18th century ballroom and was now restored in its gilded glory and turned into an upscale mall.

The cathedral.

Traditional shop front behind the cathedral. There are lots of red brick buidings in Belgium, and I love it! There aren't many of those in Switzerland. It reminded me of England.
After lunch (sushi, myum) and meeting up with my BFF's friend, we headed for the river and the docks and made our way over to the MAS - Museum aan de Strom, which means museum on the river. If you want to see it from afar or read more about it, you can do that here. It's a nine storey art museum and we went up all the way on escalators, which took a while. The view was amazing though! Twilight was just starting to fall and you could see all over the city and the river.

By the time we were done taking pictures and goofing around, it had grown really cold. Coffee was in order. And a quick trip to the book store before it closed.

That evening, we were really beat from all the walking, but we still decided to meet up with the boyfriend's friends in the neighboring town of Duffel (not pronounced like the duffel in duffel bag) for the traditional Christmas tree burning. Yup, everyone brings their trees to the town square, where they're lit on fire at night. It was cold, but really fun!
 Thankfully, the BF's friends also spoke English. I understand some Dutch (it's like a mixture of English and Swiss German) but not when several people are talking at once and a band is playing. The second cover band was really awesome and played all these songs from the 80s that everyone can just sing along to. It was so much fun! People were friendly and outgoing, we started dancing, and suddenly I found myself in a huge Polognese that trampled all over the square. We went home around midnight, stinking of woodsmoke from the fires.

The next day, we had planned to go to Ghent but the weather wasn't so awesome and we were lazy, so we stayed in. I watched my friends play the Lego Marvel Heroes  and Lord of the Rings games on Playstation, read a bit, watched Iron Man... it was nice. We went to bed early-ish because we had to get up early to drive 1.5 hours to Bruges on Sunday morning.

Have you ever seen the movie In Bruges? If not, you should!! It's fun (if you get dark humor), and sad, and just... crazy. It also has the highest frequency of F-bombs (usually at least one per sentence) I've ever heard used in a film, just to warn you if you've got a problem with that. But yeah. It's a lovely medieval town with beautiful buildings, shops, and awesome chocolate! Here are some impressions.

Yummie chocolates! We call them pralinés here, and they were better than the Swiss ones! For regular chocolate bars, I prefer my native ones though ;)

Lots of people took tours of the town with carriages.

Many lovely small alleys.

If you've seen the movie - yes, this is that tower!

The Grote Markt square.

I love that there's a compass / clock on top of this building!

Chocolate fountain.

This sugary colorful cones are a Belgian specialty.
Cute waffle shop :)

Allegedly, they have Jesus' blood in there. We didn't go in to check.

The façade is very beautiful though!

They also have Grachten!

We thought it was a bit cold for a boat tour...

The BFF and me :) I'm on the left, in case you don't know my face ;)

I meant to take a picture of the flowers for my dad, but ended up loving the reflection on the water!

Tree decoration.

Bruges is also famous for its lace shops.

I love foreign street signs :)
The beautiful Queen Astrid Park.

And the pavillon there. Again, if you've seen In Bruges, you know the place ;)

Lots of houses had the year of their being built written somewhere.

I love that spider web window!

This tiny Döner kebab shop stood amidst more modern buildings so I just had to take a pic.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and Bruges was a beautiful conclusion! Early the next morning, it was back to the airport for me and then off to work for my friends. At 10:15am, I landed back in Basel and a good 2 hours later I was in my Zurich apartment.
Here's a map so you can see where I was. The first one is of the bigger context (where is Belgium in relation to Switzerland), the second is within Belgium.
I live in Zurich, flew from Basel, and stayed near Antwerpen.
I landed in Brussel, stayed in Kontich near Antwerpen. Bruges is more to the left/east near the coast.
Alright, this is it :) Took me about 90mins to write this post, haha. It was great to see my BFF and her boyfriend again and see where she's living and working now! It also felt awesome to just get away from home and work and everything for a few days and see new things, meet new people, hear a new language.

I hope this was interesting for you guys as well, and that you liked the pictures! If you did, it'd be lovely if you left a comment. I also have pictures from Prague, Florence, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Budapest... but I feel a bit silly sharing them if no one actually cares to see them.
Do you ever take short trips? If so, what do you go see?