Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I love reading. I wouldn't be writing a lit blog if I didn't. When a book is good, it's magic. And sometimes, once or twice a year, I read a book that reminds me why I love reading. A book that makes me gush and cry and laugh and stay up all night reading, not the last bit sleepy, not even considering "I'll read just this chapter and then I'll turn off the light", because it's so good.
"Fangirl" wasn't one of those books. It was better. It didn't just remind me why I love to read. It reminded me why I love to write. For the first time in months, I felt that thrumming pressure in my fingertips, that itch to just lay them over a keyboard and type away. 
So, if you're a writer, an aspiring one or you just like to write the occasional short story or fanfiction, read it. If you've ever been in a fandom, read it. If you don't, if you haven't, read it anyway. 
It's good. It's fantastic. The characters are great, believable, flawed in a way that doesn't make them unlikeable. I can see where they're all coming from, so I can't hate any one of them, not even the ones who hurt Cath, not even her mother.
The romance is sweet and heartwarming and I just rooted for these guys. But mostly, I rooted for Cath. 
I closed this book caring for her, for her friends and for Simon and Baz and their world, and I think that's amazing. I didn't just care for a bunch of fictional characters. I cared for a bunch of fictional character that are seen as fictional in a fictional world, that I got to know just from snippets and one single complete fanfiction. 
So, read it. Whoever you are, wherever you are, read it. Chances are, you'll love it as much as I did. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Liebster Awards: Nominations and Questions

As you've probably read in my previous post, I've been nominated for the Liebster Award. 
The Liebster Award is a way to help blogs you like with less than 200 followers to expand their audience. It's a way to give them some deserved attention so our followers can discover them as well.

The rules are:
Link back the blogger that tagged you
nominate 10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you
Ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate
Let your nominees know of their award

So firsts things first: a huge thank you goes to Mina from Mina's Bookshelf for nominating me!

My answers to her questions:
1. Best book(s) you've read this year?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. Not only couldn't I stand the idea of putting either of them down even for a second, they both reminded me of the things I love about literature.
2. Upcoming release(s) you anticipate the most? 
Allegiant by Veronica Roth and City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. Actually, I'm sort of dreading the release of City of Heavenly Fire, because I'm scared that I won't like it, since City of Lost Souls was disappointing, or that Clare will kill off one of my favorite characters.
3. Favorite author(s)?
Tolkien, Cassandra Clare, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman... and the list goes on and on, but those are the top five, at the moment.
4. Is fan-fiction something you would consider as a reader or a writer?

I used to write fan-fiction a couple of years ago, but I don't anymore. I use what little time I have to write to focus on my own characters and world. I still read fan-fiction from time to time, when I'm feeling nostalgic.
5. Would you like to write a sequel for a book you loved?

Here's a though one! I can't say for sure, but I don't think I would even if given the chance. When I loved a book I'm usually happy with how and where it ended, so I don't feel compelled to write what happens next.
6. Is there any author you would like to meet? 

I'm going to cheat and name two: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
7. What would you ask him/her?

How they got into writing.
8. Your favorite reading nook? Bed, sofa, a bench at the park?

Bed. When I read and something exciting happens I tend to twist into extremely strange positions/sit up/flop down on the bed again, so I need the space.
9. Book or e-reader?

E-reader. Before I had to give away a bunch of books every year, because I only have so much space. Now I don't have to separate myself from anything, and I can take my whole bookshelf with me every time I go on a trip.
I do miss the sensation of having an actual book, but it's not worth the hassle.
10 Which novel would you like to see on the big screen and who would you cast for the lead roles?

Clockwork Angel. Not just because I loved it, but also because it would make such a great-looking movie. The automatons alone would look awesome, and the setting, if done right, could be magical.
I'd cast Kaya Scodelario as Tessa, Gaspard Ulliel as Will and Xiaoming Huang as Jem. 

And now on to my own nominations!
The Booklicker

My Questions:
1. What made you decide to start blogging?
2. From where do you usually get your books (library, local bookstore, amazon...)?
3. What book has influenced your current tastes the most?
4.What's your favorite thing about blogging so far?
5.  Have you ever read a book that you wish you had written? If yes, which one?
6. What's the one thing you can't stand in a book?
7. Do you have any weird reading habits?
8. With which fictional character do you identify the most? 
9.  Favorite book(s)? 
10. What's your favorite book adaptation (in any media: movies, TV, theater...)?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

The lovely Mina De Caro from Mina's Bookshelf nominated me for the Libster Award! Thank you so much, I can't start to tell you how happy and honored I am!
The Liebster Award is a way to help blogs you like with less than 200 followers to expand their audience. It's a way to give them some deserved attention so our followers can discover them as well. Now I have to answer Mina's questions and nominate ten other bloggers and pose them my own questions.
I'll do so in another post either later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

This was the sixth book on my most awaited books for this fall list, and the first to come out. It was ... alright, I guess. I did enjoy it, but I was hoping for something more.
The world-building was good and somehow the combination of historical characters, fictional characters from other works, steampunk, supernatural, time travel, parallel dimension, alternate history and secret cults didn't come off as overkill.
The main characters were likable, the three guys were all swoon-worthy and regarding the love triangle I would have been happy with whoever she ended up with.
I liked the development of the friendship and would like to see more of it in the next books.
The ending was disappointing, and I hope that the huge question that wasn't answered will be addressed in the next books. One of the core points of reading a mystery is finding out who did it, and I didn't feel satisfied by the answer I got.
Other than that, my only complaint is that Dylan, the guy from 2016 sometimes talked like the rest of the characters, who are from the 19th century.
Overall, the book was extremely entertaining. I don't read many steampunks, so the concept felt new and original, even though it might not come off that way to a reader more accustomed to the genre,
But it also was terribly forgettable. I'm writing this review less than 48 hours after I finished the book and I already forgot most of the characters' names. Really. I had to look up Dylan's name and I can't remember what Bram Stoker's sister was called. And she was one of the main characters.
If you're looking for something quick and fun and entertaining, read it.


W... W... W... Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading
where you answer the following questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently read?
What will you be reading next?

What are you currently reading? I'm reading Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell and I'm really, really, really liking it. Too bad I have to put it down from time to time, for pesky, petty little things like you know, sleep.
What did you recently finish reading? Clockwork Scarab, by Colleen Gleason, which was alright, I guess. I enjoyed it, but it pales in comparison to Fangirl. I'll post the review later today.  
What will you be reading next? Likely Obsidian, by Jennifer L. Armentrout: a friend of mine recommended it and it's been on my TBR pile for a while. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Top Ten Can't Wait for Books - Fall 2013 - Part 2

Nr. 5:

Revelations by J. A. Souders
Expected Publication: 05/11/13
I read the first book in the series, Renegade, back in January and I really liked it. The Main Character, Evelyn, was likable, tough and intelligent, the romance was sweet, the world-building was great, the villain just psychotic and smart enough for my tastes. 
I am hoping for more of the same. The things I can't wait to see are how the human society on the surface works, how Evelyn will regain her memories what she and Gavin will have to face this time. 

Nr. 4:

The Naturals by Jenny Lynn Barnes 
Expected Publication: 05/11/13
Another mystery - are you starting to see a pattern? I saw that it was shelved as fantasy and paranormal on Goodreads, but the blurb didn't mention any strictly supernatural elements, just the sort of gifted people that actually exists. I'm curious as to what the magical elements in the story will be. I don't think that the classical fantasy creatures would fit the plot. Maybe their talents will actually be psychic abilities. 
I'm hoping for a cast of likable characters, an heartwarming group dynamic amongst the "naturals", a well-done love triangle and a smart, witty main character who's also capable of taking care of herself. 

Nr. 3:

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt

Expected Publication: 22/10/13
This is one of the two books that isn't a novel: it's an anthology of retellings by some of the greatest fantasy authors of our time. 
It made it to this list mainly for two reasons: the Sleeping Beauty retelling by Neil Gaiman, because every book of his I've read I've loved, and the Carmilla retelling by Holly Black, because of the source material. Carmilla was a landmark in vampire fiction, and it's firmly etched into the 19° century, so I wonder how she'll modernize it. 

Nr. 2:

The Shadowhunter's Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis

Expected Publication: 29/10/13
I am a die-hard shadowhunter's fan. This is the other book that isn't a novel on this list and it will be the only one I'll purchase on paper. And then I'll probably build a shrine for it or something equally creepy.
I don't even actually have expectations about the content of this book. Of course I hope it'll be awesome, but it gets referenced so much in the books that even flipping trough the pages and looking at the figures will give me a thrill.

Nr. 1:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Expected Publication: 22/10/13
I'm a major Divergent fan. I loved that book: it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cheer out loud. It made me think, without distracting me from the story. And that's the highest compliment I can pay to a Dystopia. No, scratch that. It's the highest compliment I can pay to any book.  
I did not like Insurgent as much. It still was a really good book. I still couldn't tear myself away from it. But it wasn't the same.
I hope that Allegiant will have the same magic Divergent had. I don't think it would be possible to expect more from it.

Sources (21/09/13) (21/09/13) (21/09/13) (21/09/13) (21/09/13)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Top Ten Can't Wait for Books - Fall 2013 - Part 1

The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning to brown and soon enough I'll have to shut my sandals in the closet until next June. 
Thank God, this fall will bring a bunch of awesome books along with it, and not just cold and rain.
Here you'll find out the top ten books I am waiting for with bated breath for during my least favorite season.

Nr. 10: 

Unbreakable, by  Kimi Garcia. 
Expected Publication: 01/10/13
Ghosts, secret societies and demons - oh, my! The blurb sure does sound promising. 
At a first glance, Unbreakable seems to have all my favorite supernatural elements in it (come on, demons! Who doesn't love demons?). And the secret society sounds really cool. 
I hope for great characters, a sweet love story, that Kennedy won't be a damsel in distress and that she will learn to fight soon into the book, and that if there is a love triangle it won't be with the twins, because the idea weirds me out a little. 

Nr. 9:

Twinmaker by Sean Williams
Expected Publication: 05/11/13
The idea of a surgery that enables people to become biologically superior but that hides a catch is not a new concept in dystopia. Scott Westerfeld did a terrific job with it with Uglies, and I can't wait to read Williams' take on it. 
I hope that the dystopia in Twinmaker will sound like a plausible take on the future, that Q will be as awesome as the blurb makes him sound, that Clair will be though and likable and for a love story that will be sweet but not saccharine.

Nr. 8:

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
Expected Publication: 05/11/13
Growing up, Andersen's "The Snow Queen" was one of my favorite fairytales, so I have high hopes for this retelling.  
I am hoping to revisit the chilling (in more ways than one) landscapes and the sinister characters that I remember from my childhood (Oh, I can't wait for the Ice Queen's castle), and that Ginny will be just likable as her character was in the original story. 
I haven't read anything by Pearce, but I've heard mostly good things about his books, so I think he'll meet my expectations. 

Nr. 7:

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Expected Publication: 08/10/13
This is not the kind of book I usually read, but the premise sounds really cool. I especially like the way the gaming works, and the government issued team of hackers is a really intriguing idea.
I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm hoping for an action-packed page turner, with great characters and just a bit of romance to make it sweeter. 

Nr. 6:

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
Expected Publication: 17/09/13
Vampire Hunters, Mythology, Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Mystery and Sherlock Holmes? Could this book tick of any more boxes on the awesomeness list? 
With such a cool blurb, the chances the clockwork scarab won't live up to my expectations are pretty high.
I am hoping for something action-packed with badass heroines, witty banter and a well-done mystery that will keep me on edge until the very end.

Sources (15/09/13) (15/09/13) (15/09/13) (15/09/13) (15/09/13)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

The concept of “Hex Hall” is wholly unoriginal; I’ve seen it done before, and I’ve seen it done better. I am a sucker for this kind of world-building, so I don’t mind it too much, but I defintely would have preferred some innovation.
The plot wasn’t better off, in fact I could see most of the so-called revelations coming from miles away. The only things I did not expect were Archer’s affiliation and Sophie’s true nature. I didn’t think the author would go there, and I’m glad she did.
On the other hand, the revelation about Archer has no build-up, and seems tacked on almost as an after-thought, just as a way to keep him and Sophie apart.
Sophie was way to naïve for my tastes, but overall I liked her. And I know how to appreciate the fact that she recognized her infatuation with Archer as such, instead of deciding they were destined to have the greatest love story ever, OMG! at first glance.
Their relationship was pretty cute, even though most attempts at witty banter fell flat.
In spite of the predictability of it all “Hex Hall” was a page-turner. I often stayed up late to see what would happen next and the pacing was great: neither too slow nor too fast.
I usually can’t stand cliffhangers, because they are a way to cheat the reader into being forced to buy the next book in order to see the plot at least partially resolved. I didn’t mind this ending so much, because the identity of the murder, which is the mystery that concerns the reader for most of the book, is revealed.
If you’re in the mood for a quick, fun read, Hex Hall is the book for you. But if you’re looking for something original or meaningful, I think you’re better off reading something else.


Sources (15/09/13)

Review: Stone's Circle by Jordon Scott

*I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* 

While the book has an interesting concept and the plot and world-building were intriguing, it felt a lot like a first draft. The lexicon and the syntax were less than fine, which kept me from enjoying it as I would've otherwise.
Aiden was a very likable, very complex character: he was impulsive, violent and sometimes he acted like a jerk, but, at the end of the day, he always tried to do the right thing and to protect his family.
I liked Kaia less that I did Aiden, mostly because she ran hot and cold: she was either too meek and shy or too bold and impulsive; scared of upsetting her parents or caretakers one moment and inviting a creepy stranger home the next.
Sadly, most of the other characters didn't come off nearly as complex, being either exclusively good or exclusively evil. Only Liam, Aunt Betha and Sean Mallory were interesting, and I hope they get more page space in the next books.
Kaia's relationship with Finn felt a bit insta-lovish. They did have great chemistry, but I felt they had to get to know each other better before declaring their love and be believable.
The novel had some great twists, especially towards the end and it left a lot of questions unanswered, paving the way for the next books.


Sources: (15/09/13)

Review: Sebastian Falls

*I received a free ecopy of this book from the author through the Group YAholics Anonymous in exchange for an honest review*

Celeste Holloway had a lot of interesting ideas for the plot and the world building of her debut novel, “Sebastian Falls”: a river that defies gravity in a way that would make Elphaba weep from envy, Eden as a school for angels in training and evil makeovers from hell - oh, my!
After her parents’ death, Meadow has been fighting for her life every night, in her sleep. The only thing she knows for sure is that the mysterious river near her town is somehow involved.
After she finds out the truth, it’s the last thing she’s ever expected: the fate of the world rests on her shoulders, and she’ll need to have faith in God to make it out alive.
The plot was full of twist and turns, and, while I did see a few of them coming from miles away, most were unexpected.
I liked Meadow: she was tough, stubborn and wouldn’t let a guy walk all over her or keep her from vital information to make her own decisions. After so many spineless heroines, it was refreshing to see one intent on thinking for herself, but capable of being reasonable.
She was a bit Mary Suish, but it didn’t get too annoying, because she did have faults, and they did land her in trouble.
The development she went trough regarding her attitude to God and Religion was well-done and touching, especially the parts where she reads the Bible.
My only problem with this book was that it should have been longer: the pace was so fast and there was always something happening to advance the plot, and that’s a good thing, but you can have too much of a good thing, and that was the case here. I would have liked the book better if there had been scenes dedicated solely to fleshing out the side characters and developing the relationships: I would have liked more insight on Kaler, Lily and Tanner, and the romance between Banter and Meadow felt a bit forced, especially seeing the traumatic events she had just gone through. It would have felt more believable if the book had covered a few months instead of a few days.
That being said, I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA and paranormal.

★★★ 1/2

Sources: (15/09/13)