Sunday, January 11, 2015

[Review] The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross



Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
[Steampunk YA]

You can buy it here:
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Amazon paperback)
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Amazon eBook)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (via Netgalley)
What happens when someone you love becomes a weapon to use against you...

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling - or dangerous.

Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade — the dangerous device Jasper stole from him... for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.

From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.

More than ever, Finley Jayne will rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley...and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily — whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.

Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finley Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much...

My thoughts:
Let me get one thing out of the way: I love this series! I was reading The Girl in the Clockwork Collar on a university day and boy was I annoyed when my Kindle ran out of battery. I did not have all that many pages left and there the battery dies in the middle of a thrilling and suspenseful part. Oh my! I was very anxious to get home that day!

Finley is such a strong heroine, and this feeling did not let up in the least in this second book. She remains amiable, yet she kicks butt. She does not need the male characters to survive in a hard world, but she also does not push them away. In short, Finley rocks!

Seeing the friends in new waters was very interesting as they had to get used to new sets of rules in New York society. The characters' relationships with each other are ever evolving and kept me entertained. Their interactions remain fun in this installment and you will not be disappointed, however, the end may be a tad bit too obvious. This, however is my only complaint. Young Adult novels need stronger female leads and a broader cast, which Kady Cross sure delivered. As for me, I cannot wait to read The Girl with the Iron Touch, the next installment in this series.

Rating:
4/5


Saturday, January 03, 2015

#FitReaders



Well well! 2015... It will be the year of tiny challenges for me, but however small they may seem, a small step in the right direction is always good, right? So, for 2015 I am joining in with the #FitReaders to get fit, get moving and actually have a goal (and a little bit to be accountable). This "challenge" is hosted by Geeky Bloggers Book Blog and That's What I'm Talking About.

My goal will simply be to lose those 5-7 kilos to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Those last few kilos (two more than before Christmas - thanks, you delicious homecooked meals! I loved you, but you may leave the premises NOW!). I will try to use my step tracker every day when I am out and about.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 in review

And here it is, New Year's Eve! Another year is ending and I have been a bit remiss with my reading - and everything really. However, let me review the year, because it has not been bad really. It was just very, very busy.

My year in general was really good. It was also so incredibly busy! I am still studying and I have a toddler who started walking rather early (in May, at 9.5 months).

I spent a good chunk of my time between May and July walking around with a bent back, as he wanted (not necessarily needed) company on all his adventures. My back is now slowly recovering, but I'm still busy chasing him because he loves to run all over the place and make the biggest mess possible. To give you a tiny idea: As I am typing this, he is tearing up a a leaflet and throws each piece on the floor. As fast as the walking came, teeth-wise, we're currently at 5, so there's still a lot waiting to happen. He has been in daycare for four months and loves it a lot. There are days he will come say hello when we get there to pick him up at around noon and then he will disappear again to play some more. It is great to see him interact with other kids and he is in general a happier kid. For him, it is different to play at daycare versus home, where he is the only one under 25 (the cat excluded). At now 17 months, he is slowly learning to speak, but it's just a word here or there, which is quite natural for a child growing up bilingual. What I have noticed, however, is that he will say words either in one or the other language. Hello is the only word he says in both languages, but they are so close to each other, it might just be a coincidence. Much more fun was his first word, the German word for light! It is not an easy word to day with the German "ch" sound. His first English word was kitty. Now, you can guess whom he loves (and maybe, what that poor thing has to endure, as a toddler's affectionate behavior is not always gentle!). As this is mostly a bookish blog, let me end this on a suitable note: My son looooooves books! He hates having his diaper changed (laying down? blech!), but give him a book and most likely he is happy. He also loves to look at books (at his pace, skipping pages, and going back and forth). He received a stack of books (ten, I believe?!) for Christmas and we keep them in a separate stack in the kitchen which is the place where we all get together during the day. He frequently runs up to that stack, pulls out a book and brings it back so one of us reads it to him.

Now, I'm also still a student, even though it's slowly, but certainly coming to an end. After the upcoming summer semester it should be all exams and "big paper" aka masters thesis for me. Yikes! I took a bunch of classes this year and I am slowly but certainly working on finishing everything. The current semester ends in February and I have to finish two papers in January and another one between February and March. Additionally, I have an exam in Spanish, and two (??) presentations. I am having so much fun at the moment. It is not always easy, juggling a toddler and university, but it is well worth it. With all the papers I have to work on getting a good, manageable schedule together, so that I will finish both ideally with some time left.

Luckily, this year I also got acquainted with the broad planner enthusiast and planning community online. I have used books and the likes to write down tasks, appointments etc in the past, but with technology taking over, I moved there and it was a red hot mess for me. I cannot plan using technology and I lose track of appointments and tasks so fast! I am now back using paper and I am happy with it. I did not touch my planner for the past week and a half (I was sick and then, you know, the holidays happened!), but I will be back with it after the upcoming weekend.

Now, on to the main show: Books!
I read a whooping 34 books in 2014! Am I good or what? Pardon the sarcasm here! I used to read over 100 books per year, you know, so...
Broken up by my rating that means nine books received five stars, 19 books received four stars, I read three books that I rated three stars, one book received two stars and two books I did not finish.

The ratings make my Top Ten rather easy..(The following list is in no particular order!)

1) The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse is a great classic, a short story collection and a lough-out-loud read! Some of you may know the TV show starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. This is the original, and I can tell you the show sticks very close to the original. I love those stories and my goal is to read them all by 2016.

2) Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey is a sweet romance with lovers who are reunited. I loved how the MCs were thrown in a situation and had to make the best of it. I loved the jokes and I enjoyed how the minor characters were introduced (there are more installments in this series!).

3) Something Like Normal by Trish Doller is a wonderful story with less than perfect characters that are nonetheless loveable! This is not a sweet love story, let me tell you this, but you really want to read this!

4) Pawn by Aimée Carter is a great dystopian novel! Kitty lives in a world where everyone studies to pass one test that determines it all. Their future depends on it as you will have a job based off your score. Unfortuately, she has a learning disability, so her test does not show her results to its fullest. She is offered a way out by standing in for a member of the country's wealthiest family. Along with the latter choice comes intrigue, backstabbing and mystery (and it's the first in a short series)!

5) Rescue my Heart by Jill Shalvis - what can I say? I looooove Jill Shalvis. She is one of the few auto-buy authors for me. Her romance novels are not just adorable, but her writing transports me right to the towns the stories are set in and there are so many laugh out loud moments! (Yes, it can get embarrassing when you read these books on public transport!)

6) Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis is a novella by said favorite author. 'Nuffsaid!

It 7) Double Digit by Annabel Monaghan is the second installment in a series I absolutely love. Digit is the nickname of Farah, a math genius who first stumbled across a conspiracy that left her in the focus of a criminal mastermind (or lunatic - your choice here!). Digit is now in college and everything seems to be quiet. You probably have to suspend some disbelief with some aspects here, but I found this book to be laugh out loud hilarious and action-packed. Oh, and be prepared for some parental headshaking.

8) The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde is a non-fiction guide-style book that explains what sketchnotes are in detail and a number of sketchnoters all over the world hand out their tipps and advice in the form of sketchnotes. The idea behind a sketchnote is to gather all the information of a class, meeting etc in one sketchnote and to make it visual as most people remember visuals better.

9) Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry - oh wow, this was a rollercoaster ride book. Check out my review for the details, I cannot even begin to describe it in two sentences only!

10) Impostor by Susanne Winnacker was not rated all that high, but thinking back I have only fond memories of the book, so I believe it should be on here. And also, who can say no to Veronica Mars meets X-Men? Certainly not this girl here!

So, that's it, that was 2014 in a nutshell! Gee, I'm a tad bit sad it's 2015 already. How do you feel about 2014? Are you excited to leave it behind and have a "brandnew" start?


Happy New Year!

Wow, can you believe it? It is 2015! I'm sitting here after breakfast, my son is playing with the mega bloks he got for Christmas and we already read a Dr. Seuss book. I'm having a tea (a green tea called la dolce vita, the sweet life) and life is good. I hope you also had a sweet beginning for 2015.

Stevie woke up maybe 10, 15 minutes into the new year and he looooooved the fireworks. He was standing at the window with us saying 'boom, boom!' and 'more!' and his face! Oh I wish I could show you! He was so very, very happy and glowed! He is now 17 months old, so he really took it all in. In a way, I'm glad he got to see it as he loves light in all its forms, colors and shapes. (Unfortunately, that includes the small candle that keeps my tea warm - he keeps trying to blow at it...)

Now, it is a valued custom here to watch a short piece of comedy for the new year. You may know that everything here is dubbed, but this is the one exception. It is Dinner for One and you can just click on the link to watch it. I highly recommend it. It is not only a classic, it is a tiny piece of recent history and oh so funny! To give. You a quick backstory, Miss Sophie is celebrating her 90th birthday. She has survived all her dearest friends.

I wish you a wonderful 2015 filled with health, happiness and good books!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pages Read Challenge 2015

Whew, it has been a while since I hosted the Pages Read Challenge, but Book Dragon asked if I was hosting it again for 2015 and here we go! It is a fun challenge and I had a lot of fun with this in the past. This challenge was one of the easier ones, in my opinion, as all you had to do was count pages and the rules are not all that difficult.

Now, speaking of rules, here we go:

1) Pick a number of pages you'll be attempting to read in 2015. It doesn't matter whether your goal is 10,000 or 100,000. You can always up your number as we go along, so you don't need to go all up high with your page count.

2) Write a blog post about it in which you will keep track of your page count or come back here and comment with updates when you feel like it.

3) Comment here with your goal number and a link to your blog post (if you have a blog - otherwise, just leave a comment with your name and the goal number). I'll then add you to the list of participants below.

4) The challenge starts January 1, 2015 and ends December 31, 2015. Only pages read after the new year has begun count in for the challenge, but any and every page you read counts for this challenge. I don't care about re-reads, overlaps with other challenges, or e-books! Just count the pages you read, no matter what type of book you're reading :-) See, it's a really easy challenge!

5) As usual: Have fun!


Michelle @ True Book Addict had originally created a wonderful button for the challenge:



Thanks a lot once again, Michelle!

My personal goal will be 15,000 pages for the upcoming year. With a toddler and university, I think this will be challenging enough.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge

The team of Book Riot has created a challenge I cannot resist: the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge There are 24 themes that we can spread out over the year whichever way we please and I think most of the themes will be manageable for me. The one theme I may have a real problem with is the collection of poetry. I do not like poetry and I don't have any collections of poetry on my shelves. A particularly hard part for me will the number of books. Twentyfour books for this challenge alone - if I don't find books that fulfill two themes - might end up being the majority of my reads for 2015 if my reading is as slacking as this year's (I only read 32 books so far).

Apart from the occasional check in on the Book Riot website, the hashtag #ReadHarder will connect readers on Social Media websites.

The topics are:

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)

A book published by an indie press

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

A book that takes place in Asia

A book by an author from Africa

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)

A microhistory

A YA novel

A sci-fi novel

A romance novel

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

An audiobook

A collection of poetry

A book that someone else has recommended to you

A book that was originally published in another language

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)

A book published before 1850

A book published this year

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas everyone! We wish you a joyous holiday, if you're celebrating it. Hopefully, you can spend your time with loved ones, be they family or not. Are you even still reading my blog? I'm such a wuss, honestly. I'm so ashamed! Then again, this past year, I read 32 books so far, when in the past I read over 100. That's what you apparently what you have to get used to, having a toddler and being a full-time student. However, in order to get him accustomed to books and reading, he got a big stack of books for Christmas this year - and he loves them. In the picture, you can see him sitting on great-grandpa's lap.

Now, you may know we live in Germany, so we go with German customs. Baby Jesus is the one bringing the presents here, on Christmas Eve. When no one is in the room, he comes and miraculously the presents appear underneath the tree. It's a nice custom that we stick to, despite Daddy aka my significant other being American. The incredibly bright side here is, that in later years, there will be no kid awake at 4am, trying to make us get up in order to unwrap presents. The wait in the evening is bad enough as it is.

That being said, I shall go back to the festivities. We are about to have dinner here with everyone (again, Germany - presents on the 24th, and both 12/25 and 12/26 are days off for most people, so we get together and eat - and eat, and eat...)


Thursday, August 28, 2014

[Review] Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry



Jolene Perry
Stronger Than You Know
[YA contemporary]

You can buy it here:
Stronger Than You Know (Amazon hardcover)

FTC: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Netgalley):
After police intervention, fifteen-year-old Joy has finally escaped the trailer where she once lived with her mother and survived years of confinement and abuse. Now living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in a comfortable house, she’s sure she’ll never belong. Wracked by panic attacks, afraid to talk to anyone at her new school, Joy’s got a whole list of reasons why she’s crazy. With immense courage, Joy finds friends and grows closer to her new family. But just when hope is taking hold, she learns she must testify in her mother’s trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? Will she ever truly belong in a world that seems too normal to be real?

My thoughts:
This was the most heartbreaking, super emotional book I have read in a while! Joy was taken from her mother after years of every kind of abuse you can imagine, after being locked in their home and not being alowed to get out. When the police get her out, she ends up living with her aunt's and her family. I loved everything about the book! Joy slowly learned to trust people again, to feel comfortable around them and to be confident.

I first heard about the book online and a few people mentioned that they felt there was not much happening apart from her healing and dealing with what happened to her. While I see what they are saying, I have to disagree. Her healing and dealing with what happened is important. Everything else would have distracted from the story. Her healing was slow, but I felt the author did a great job of making Joy's transition seem normal, yet it did not drag out.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Joy was such a strong girl. She was brave and she survived so much. I just want to hug her long and tell her what a wonderful person she is. The same goes for her Aunt Diana and Uncle Rob. They took her in and treated her like she was their daughter. They were worried about her, they took care of her and did everything in their power to give her a happy life. They fought for her when Joy could not do it herself. Jolene Perry even portrayed Joy's cousins in a very realistic way. They were close to each other and - being teens - did not always understand why things were so different for Joy, so they acted inconsiderate at times, even rude. Nonetheless, they changed when they learned more. And that leads me to Justin and Daisy. These two are the best friends you can imagine. I loved how they both drew out different aspects of Joy.

It broke my heart to slowly understand what all Joy had to endure for the first fifteen years of her life, but what really, really moved me and brought tears to my eyes over and over again was how strong Joy was. She found joy in her life and learned how to trust people after all that had happened to her. Joy is easily one of my all-time favorite YA characters ever!

Rating:
5/5


Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (August 18, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

Last week I was hit with a bad case of a back ache. It is so bad I can barely lift and carry the baby - pardon me, the toddler! Unfortunately, it was really bad starting on Thursday, so due to a holiday I could not see a doctor until today. This really messed with my plans. I did not get much reading done or much work for university.



Nonetheless, I read Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth for my paper and I read a good chunk of Some Boys by Patty Blount. I am still undecided about this last book. I do not know what to think, but I still have a good part to go, so I will just wait and see.

I also posted a few blog posts last week. For one, there was last week's Monday post and my Top 10 Tuesday post on books I have but am now uncertain whether or not I should read them. I also reviewed Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and Golden by Jessi Kirby. The latter has a special place in my heart, so if you want to know more about the backstory with me and this particular book, check out the blog post! (And leave me a comment - do you have any books with a special story?)

Reading right now



As I mentioned earlier, I am reading Patty Blount's Some Boys right now. I do not yet know what to think of the book, but I cannot wait to finish it, so this should be a good sign. I am also still working on books for my paper. I'm getting really tired of saying that! I wanted to hand in the paper last week, but alas, the baby needed Mommy time, so he got just that. Luckily, there are a few more weeks until the official due date for the paper!

New In

I did not acquire any new books last week, I think the "haul" from last week's blog post was enough for a bit.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

[Review] Golden by Jessi Kirby



Jessi Kirby
Golden
[Contemporary YA]

You can buy it here:
Golden (Amazon hardcover)
Golden (Amazon paperback)
Golden (Amazon e-book)

FTC: I bought this myself.

Summary (via Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

My thoughts:
Now, this book has a history with me. I started reading it when I was about 8 months pregnant and finished it shortly before the boy turned one year old (now 2 weeks ago). Yes, it took me that long to finish it. But this does not mean I did not like it or that it is a slow read or anything. Mostly, I did not manage to finish it before giving birth because the last few weeks were peppered with lastminute tasks (like - moving, getting settled and sleeping) and I also just could not focus on anything. I would bring the book with me for routine checkups and that was about all the time I had to read. After the boy was born, I did not have the time to properly sit down and read for a good part of his first year. He loves having people around and he can be very insisting. So, to make it short, I did not get to read much after he was born and when about a month before his birthday I had some time alone, I brought Golden back out to finally finish it and find out what happened to the town's golden couple along with Parker.

This novel was (and still is) food for thought in my opinion. The theme here is making choices yourself and facing them. Parker is a good girl who always does what her mother tells her to do. Her life is completely directed by her mother, and any thoughts and ideas she may have about her future are instantly shot down. When she starts investigating the disappearence of Julianna and Shane, she slowly learns to make her own decisions and stand up for them in order to live life and not just be a passenger on the trip. I really loved how Parker grew as the story progressed.

The mystery behind the disappearance was really interesting as we learn more about the secondary characters and naturally about Julianna and Shane. I loved how Jessi Kirby wrapped it all up in the end. We may not know everything that happens after Parker figures out the mystery behind the disappearance, but I as the reader know enough to have my own thoughts and ideas.

If you like a mystery and a main character that really grows throughout the story, you will find gold with this book! (The pun is a coincidence, sorry if you don't like them ;) )

Rating:
4/5


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