April 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

This week's topic is so amazing - it's about the words in a synopsis that make me automatically buy a book...so this could be interesting :) 

1) Boarding School
Obvious right? If not - may I mention the awesome the Harry Potter books? Vampire Academy? Anna and the French Kiss? 

2) Anything Sarah-ish
Seriously? I'm starting to believe having Sara as a first name really influences your writing in some way...I mean Sarah Dessen, Sara Ockler, Sara Zarr - I'd read everything by one of them!

3) Androids
I don't even love dystopia, but ever since I read Cinder and Scarlet I'm somewhat obsessed with little robots that behave a bit too human like to be normal, but not enough to be creepy - I'd just love to have my own little waliking computer to cuddle with!

4) Asia/China/Japan
I'm so interested in one of these countries /the planet itself. Possibly because I know almost nothing about it. It's the same with documentaries, though. I could watch different news stories about China and its people and their mentality all day long.

5) Eating disorders
This one is much more serious than the rest, but being as interested in psychology as I am (I even considered studying it in college) it appeals to me as a topic.

6) True Love
As weird is this might sound,  I love contemporary novels that deal with...just that - a couple in love. There don't even has to be a lot happening...sometimes I crave a story that makes me believe in simple, true love :) 

7) London, Paris, New York or LA
Even though I live in Germany, which obviously is in Europe, I still haven't seen a lot of the rest of the continent. I'm especially exited about the big cities like Paris, London, Prague etc. Along with that, I always love to read books set in the USA as that's the one country I really want to go to (and maybe live there someday?) in my life.

8) High Fantasy
This one is ridiculous, because I'm not sure I've read more than one or two HF novels in my life. However, I love the idea of completely sinking into that other world on a rainy fall day with a cup of hot chocolate :)

9) Stand Up! - books
This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. It's one of the reasons the Dear Bully anthology is one of my favorite books ever. I think it's so important for us teens (and everyone else, of course) to know that we're not alone in certain situations and that we can - and must - stand up for the ones who are left behind.

10) YA in general
Lastly, whenever I see YA, I get excited. At least in Germany, that genre just does not get the attention it deserves. The shelves in the bookstores never show the newest titles, it's still same ol' Harry Potter and Twilight that lounge around there when you first walk in even though everyone already owns those books (or probably never will)

April 29, 2013

Who's with me? Let's ROCK Bout of Books 7.0!!!

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books Team
Don't. Judge. Okay? I know this is my fourth time Bout of Books and it's just a Read-a-thon and I could (maybe) survive without it, but - I'm still more excited than you could ever imagine!
As most of you probably know by now, Bout of Books 4.0 was my first Read-a-thon ever and it was also the one that made me love these events! So, posting this now feels like...ahhh...home :)
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I signed up for 7.0 and I hope you do, too!
Have an awesome beginning of the week, guys!

PS: Let me know when you decide to participate, too, so that I can come over there and cheer you on when it's time :)

April 28, 2013

Weekly Favorites

THIS post made my Saturday morning... sorry to all non-runners, but it's just so true... :)



I've actually had it on my computer for a while, but until this week I never used it. HUGE mistake. I cannot even put into words how much I love listening to all the music. Oh, maybe this helps - I've been listening to Macklemore's Thrift Shop more than 30 times....

How to Save a Life

...by Sara Zarr is such a beautiful book. I'm really savoring it, reading it mostly out loud to myself (because...you know, my neighbours will stare at me weirdly even if I try to act normal) - that's how awesome this story is. I'm looking forward to writing the review already :)


(as obsessed as I am with my phone, I am not - and hopefully won't ever - do that!)

Pretty much a month ago I got my driver's license - finally! Now, I'm still not aloud to drive without a parent next to me - you aren't in Germany, until you reach the age of eighteen, but still. I could drive for hours on end, listening to the radio and the sound of the engine...it could be even better, though, if my mom stopped yelling at me because she's afraid I'm going to ruin her car :)

April 26, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday

Gain New Blog Followers

Is there a song that reminds you of a book? Or vice versa? What is the song & the book?

How to Save a Life

Ha, easy! I'm just reading How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr and - of course I had to think of the song by The Fray which I love and listen to all the time!

April 25, 2013

Review: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

by Alex Flinn


Long Story Short:

While I was not too obsessed with this story - and don't think it's comparable to Beastly, which I loved - Cloaked was a different, entertaining fairy tale retelling. Flinn convinced me once again of her writing skills. The only thing that bothered me was how dragging the plot felt and how predictable it was in the end.

2/3 Smarties

Review for You:

This book could have been really good. Like Flinn's Beastly, this was a fairy tale retelling really well done.
Again, I was impressed by how she managed to intertwine the actual plot, set in the modern world while still keeping up with the fairy tale - ish vibe. It was confusing at first, because the plot consisted of a mix of various old stories and I expected it to be just one. That problem was fixed pretty quickly, though, as the story went on and I became more and more involved in it. I adored the main character and his voice as a narrator. He was a nice and intelligent guy who would do almost everything for his mother and his friends. What I did not like all that much was that - as all the really great guys - he, of course, was bullied/ignored by the cool guys because he was poor. That idea is getting a bit old, I think. 
His voice as a narrator reflected his personality quite well. Sometimes his thoughts were a bit too sarcastic, in my opinion, because that was not the way he talked to the other characters,  but I guess that is just a minor flaw - if it had only been that, the story would have been perfect.
I'm afraid, that is not everything I disliked about Cloaked. The problem was not the plot itself, but combined with the length of the book, Flinn expected a bit too much of readers.
The problem is that a book featuring a quest cannot be too long or too detailed. If it is, the reader will get bored or just run out of endurance. 
Yes, I cared for Johnny and I wanted him to win but after half of the book, I admit I lost patience and I didn't care if he'd get his princess or not. Also, I already knew. The ending was predictable -which again wouldn't have been so bad.
However, why should I be reading a book that bores me, that I don't really care for any more if I already know the ending? The characters,neither Johnny nor Meg - who turned out a bit  flat, in my opinion and whose story was way too easy - made up for the dragging plot. 
Enjoyable as in Beastly was Flinn's writing style. Very fluent and sometimes witty - it was perfect for getting into the story at the beginning.
All in all, this was a difficult book to review, because I originally thought I could give it a really good rating. As I said, the writing and general idea were great and convinced me that I should read even more Alex Flinn books. The problem I had was with the plot - it lacked variety and exciting moments. If you like journey books or quests, I can imagine you liking it anyway, and it did make for an entertaining read in the end.

April 24, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday

This morning, something amazing happened :) I was scrolling through the Netgalley Teen &YA catalog, randomly looking for some new books to get excited for when suddenly... I skimmed the title of this book and realized - this was not Confessions of an Angry Girl! It's a sequel! Yay! Up until now, I didn't even realize there'd be more books about Rose. Ha, this makes me so happy! If you have not read the first book, you really should. It's a really nice, entertaining read that I wasn't able to put down.

Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...
...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.
When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

April 23, 2013

Top Ten (good and bad) Surprises

books i thought i would like more than i did:

Reached by Ally Condie
This one was predictable, but still. I liked Matched and Crossed and I hoped Reached would turn out to be this huge, epic ending to a trilogy that knocks everyone from their seats, but sadly, that wasn't the case. 
Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles, #1)
Prophecy by Ellen Oh
The premise of this one sounded good enough, but I decided to buy it (without waiting for reviews) only because of the cover. Which was a mistake. This novel was a mix of all the different annoyances that can happen with debuts - and while I could forgive most of them, I did not enjoy the novel anyway.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
I'm usually pretty mainstream. If a lot of people love a book - especially contemporary - I don't even stop to think about it. I just dig in and expect amazingness. While this novel was...nice, it absolutely did not blow me away like I hoped it would.
Mind Games (Mind Games, #1)
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Everyone was raving about Kiersten White's books and when I saw she had a new one coming out I knew I'd have to read it. The idea behind this wasn't bad at all - but it gave me a headache and the narrators' voices were so annoying that I had to force myself to finish.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I was soo excited about this one. I cannot even put into words how long I stared at this on Amazon.com until I finally picked it up. And then? It was by no means bad. Just...not as epic as everyone made it out to be. The hype completely blurred my vision. So I'm trying to disillusion you with this. I hope it's working?

books i liked more than i thought i would

Beastly by Alex Flinn
This was a retelling so, so very well done. I could just lean back and enjoy the story and never wanted it to end. I should maybe mention that I had this novel sitting on my shelf for almost half a year and I had the serious urge to just give it to someone else - I was so convinced I wouldn't like it. Same thing is happening with Flinn's Cloaked right now, by the way. Didn't want to read it at first. Now I crave it (gotta type faster!)
Geek Girl
Geek Girl by Holly Smale
I thought this book would be okay. Funny, entertaining, but for a younger audience and therefore kind of irrelevant. Oh, how wrong I was. And, oh, how much I laughed from pages one straight through the ending. Hilarious story, guys! You need to read that book!
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)
Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
These two I didn't expect to like for the same reason -they are dystopian books. I pretty much declared my relationship with that genre nonexistent when these two came around. Both are super entertaining and addicting and  beautifully written.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton and The Violet Eden Chapters Series by Jessica Shirvington
Again a genre-prejudice. I'm not a fan of Paranormal Romance at all. I usually hate everything that comes from it. Which, of course, does not stop me from trying again and again. In Everneath I - against my will - grew so attached to the characters that I could not wait to finish. And the Shirvington's series is just all around fast paced, entertaining, funny, heartbreaking and on top of all that, not even classified as PR (like I thought) but as Urban Fantasy (which I love!)

April 22, 2013

(Not so Mini) Review: Cross My Heart, Hope to Die by Sara Shepard

Cross My Heart, Hope To Die
by Sara Shepard

Okay, so this review is by no means mini. I usually try to keep reviews to long series like Sara Shepard's short and sweet as not everyone reads them or has read as far. Anyway, I kind of had a lot to say about this book :) I hope you enjoy despite the length!
Cross My Heart, Hope To Die (The Lying Game, #5)

MINI Review:

Maybe I expected a bit too much from this book. After having experienced the amazing ending Shepard presented in Pretty Little Liars Book Wanted (review here) she kind of went back to her genius status in my mind. Frankly, with the PLL series there were some bumps along the road, but the four Lying Game books have always kept me on the edge of my seat. They usually are fast-paced, full of juicy gossip, intrigues and affairs and they never fail to surprise me.
This one...had its flaws. Cross My Heart, Hope to Die was by no means bad. It just wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be. The main reason for this was probably the plot. The story just didn't seem to pick up. Emma wandered from one place to the other, had to deal with (in my opinion) completely random and time wasting boy problems and some weird girl whose reasons for existence are still beyond me. 
Maybe everything that happened in this book was necessary for the next one. I could very well imagine some of the apparently random events in this novel becoming important in book number six - at least, I hope they will.
In addition to a dragging plot I felt like Emma's development didn't go into the direction I wanted it to go. She was bitchy and way too impulsive for her usual self for a second, and the next she turned back into the old Emma - only a much more - and annoyingly so - judgemental one. 
To keep it short: I found her annoying most of the time.
Apart from the plot and Emma herself, though, this book was still enjoyable. I liked getting to know Becky a bit more, and the Mercers, too - and getting a break from Sutton's / Emma's friends. Don't get me wrong, I like them as characters. They are this weird mix of spoiled teenagers and caring friends and self-conscious girls that makes them very realistic. It's nice to get some more information about Emma's new family, too, though.
Lastly, there is Ethan. He scores extra points for this novel simply by being that perfect boyfriend and supporting Emma no matter what. 
The ending was a bit blah for me. I found parts of it incredibly predictable and boring - and the last few pages threw me off the hook. Oh my, oh my. I can't even...it was absolutely not what I thought would happen, it caught me off guard and it also made me really, really sad  - and longing for the sequel.
All in all, I'd say this book is worth reading even if it does in no way offer the same amount of mystery, suspense and juicyness that the previous Lying Game novels came with. I hope this is a filler book, though and cannot imagine what Shepard will pull of in the next book!

RATING: 2/3 Smarties

April 21, 2013

Weekly Favorites

Another week of spring, warm, sunny weather and laziness :) I'm getting to the point where it's not even easy to pick favorites anymore, because with school being a matter only occasionally for a few hours anymore, I'm freeee like a bird :)

Bike Tours
I am the kind of person who hates biking. I'm a runner, I like to trust nothing and no one but my legs and feet. I especially hate biking with my mom, because she goes for 40+ kilometers every time and she never chooses the same route twice so that we usually end up in the middle of nowhere, completely lost and with me crying in frustration because I want to be home and my legs hurt and I hate not knowing where I am. Not this Sunday, though. I was wise enough to take my phone with me (against my mom's disapproval because she is, you know, such a genius at finding her way back home...) and we actually made it a three hour instead of a six hour tour and it was AH-mazing!!!

Drinking coffee
In the past year, I have tried to give up coffee a solid three times. I failed again this past weekend when I was out shopping with a friend. I don't regret it, though, because of my next favorite:

Life is short. Buy the shoes.
Restricting yourself can make sense, I'll admit as much. For example, I really don't need to buy more books that will end up on my shelf, unread and collecting dust. I do want to drink coffee, though. I want to enjoy a dessert from time to time. I want to be lazy for three days in a row or, you know, buy that super unnecessary, way too expensive pair of shoes. Because, you know, if today was your last day...

Oh, how I missed it. During our exam phase in school - which pretty much lasted four months straight, I did not go shopping once. Not even online shopping. I went on Saturday and didn't even buy much, but it felt amazing. Clearly, it's the best kind of therapy there is.

So, those where my (not exactly bookish, I'll admit it) favorite things this week. What was great about your week? 

April 20, 2013

Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Between Here and Forever

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.
Until the accident.
Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.
She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.
Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could..

Hardcover, 250 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Simon Pulse

Long Story Short:
The premise of this book did sound interesting, but overall, it could not deliver what I hoped for. I didn't like the main character, the plot was pretty much nonexistent, the big secret in the end was...not such a secret at all. Anyway, I liked how Scott pulled the strings together in the end, though.

1/3 Smarties

Review for You:
Nope, not for me. I mean I pretty much knew what to expect, having read Scott's Bloom almost one year ago, but still - I was disappointed. I guess one year of actively thinking about if and why I like a book did change my taste a little bit. Between Here and Forever was not bad at all, actually.
 I liked the storyline at the beginning, how Abby felt like she was living in her older sister's shadow and then Tess's coma and her familys's dealing with it. The story could have turned into something very beautiful and meaningful with a great message at the end.
After the first few pages, though, Abby started to get on my nerves. I mean, I get it, she is self-conscious and suffers from a serious lack of confidence BUT I understood that when it was mentioned the first time. And, you know, the second time. And every single time after that. 
This was one of those stories where nothing much happens (It's contemporary, after all) so that character development and relationships should make up for that. In really good contemporaries, they do. The first three fourth of this book were practically just about Abby and Tess and flashbacks to their past - which made it feel very dragging right at the beginning.
Even the one or two stories Abby shared about herself that were quite interesting and made her a bit more unique were overshadowed by that big theme going on in her head about how she was not worthy of anyone's attention or love.
The few developments and turns that were included in the plot seemed predictable to me, especially the big thing Abby finds out about Tess that is mentioned in the synopsis. I had hoped for something...um...bigger :)
Anyway, the ending did kind of make up for the rest. If it had only started sooner! The last fifty pages really kept me entertained, there was finally some movement in the story.
Abby changed, learned a few important lessons. Other characters, her family and a special someone had real appearences and started playing a role instead of just being there and letting Abby tell the whole story on her own.
Then again, that movement seemed rushed. I think the author shouldn't have let the reader wait so long for something to happen and then should have invested  more time (and pages) in the ending.
All in all, this book was not enough to keep me entertained. A good contemporary, in my opinion, has to convince me with its characters, their story and development and - maybe - a really happy ending. I couldn't find any of that in Between Here and Forever - sadly.
If you are a fan of Scott's work, you will probably like this book a lot - it's pretty similar to Bloom. If you are having difficulties getting into contemporary at all or like deep, moving contemporaries that transport you into that world, you probably won't be satisfied with Between Here and Forever.

I'm actually a bit desperate right now. Does anyone have a recommendation for awesome, mind-blowing contemporary? Because lately, I've just been very disappointed :/

April 18, 2013

Mini Review: Wanted by Sara Shepard

Wanted (Pretty Little Liars, #8)

There's just something about Shepard's series that makes me pick them up again and again even if I promise myself that I won't. Practically, plot-wise it's the same thing every time. It's creepy, there are a ton of questions, murder suspects and dangerous noises,voices and notes. On top of that, topical pop culture references, designer brands, lip gloss, bitchy high school girls and cute guys with definite boyfriend material.
Frankly, I dreaded the start of Wanted. I was fed up with the Pretty Little Liars series and the never ending mystery and at the beginning I was seriously thinking about just putting it back on the shelf and leave it there for good. 
Then, something happened. And I couldn't help it, I had to continue. I had to race through the book to find out how things would turn out and I'm telling you, the ending was EPIC. And there wasn't even a real cliffhanger...
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before I start raving, I wanted to quickly continue my rant where I will state that I want Kate and her court to go wherever I won't have to see them again. I hate their constant bullying. I even think that was one of the main aspects that made me turn away from the series. Hanna is not any better, though. She, too, craves "power" and "fame" in her school so much that it's not only weird, it's completely ridiculous. I even skimmed some of Hanna's chapters because I couldn't stand her whining anymore.
Anyway, Sara Shepard surprised me at the end and what she turned this series into really deserves some attention which leaves me with nothing more to say then: give these books a chance if you haven't already. Especially in the spring and summer time, they are the perfect mix of light chick lit pop culture goodness and creepy mystery to keep you on the edge of your seat :)

April 17, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday

The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, #2)

I loved The Iron King! Never expected it to be that good and fairy tale-ish. Now, though, I really have some catching up to do! All those books in the Fey Saga by Julie Kagawa...can't wait to indulge!

April 16, 2013

The Top Ten Endings That Blew My Mind

Obviously, endings are important. Writing style, character development, plot...that's what makes me enjoy a book as I am reading it. That's what makes me pick it up again and again, although there would clearly be other things I should focus on. They make me come back to the book as long as it is still on my nightstand.
The ending only gets important as soon as I finished the book - and usually way after I reviewed it. 
Einstein once said, though, that knowledge is what stays in your head after you forgot about everything else (or, you know...something like that) and that's how I feel about endings, too.
Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Let's take Lauren Oliver and her Delirium trilogy, she was the first to come into my mind thinking about this topic. She is famous for making her endings the delicious part of the book, the big showdown that you are actually hoping for in every novel - but that you only get very rarely. Oliver understands how to create an amazing amount of suspense, how to kind of and somewhat satisfy the reader, but to still let so many questions unanswered that it's totally okay to complain about a cliffhanger. For Oliver, that works out. In some other cases, I'll admit, it doesn't, but that's a whole other topic.
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)
Someone else who creates fantastic endings is Richelle Mead in her Vampire Academy Series. In the way she does it, she always reminds me of JK Rowling. All the books I've read so far have had big dramatic scenes in the end, but I never felt like there were just a few pages left out to make me excited about the next book. Mead always delivers a story that can be read by itself, which I admittedly like a lot better than Oliver's cliffhangers.
Similar to Mead's endings are both, the ones we find (or found) in the Caster Chronicles Series and the ones Marissa Meyer creates in her Lunar Chronicles. There, too, we always get one story with one purpose and one ending and if we want to, we can pick up the next book and dive into the story world all over again. 
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)
The queen of cliffhanger (really?) endings is probably Sara Shepard. Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game books usually end with the mystery kind of figured out...and then the next book comes around and we are confronted with a whole new problem all over again.
Cross My Heart, Hope To Die (The Lying Game, #5)
Another good ending was Partials by Dan Wells - a huge book with such a story to tell - but if it weren't for those last few sentences I would have considered it a standalone novel. The ending itself was epic in several ways. There were action scenes, but also very emotional ones and some major decisions that I did not expect.
Although I'm usually very petty about cliffhangers, for some reason I really liked the ones Julie Cross put in her novels Tempest and Vortex - because they were so unexpected and they made me crave the next books in the series so much.
Lastly, I always enjoy the happy endings in contemporary novels - if they are done the right way. It should not be too easy for the characters to solve their problems, but I like to see them develop a whole lot (after all, that's what contemporary is about, right?) and grow and if they go toward a bright future at the end of the novel, that gives me a warm feeling of satisfaction :) Good examples for that are Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits (of course) and almost every Sarah Dessen book. 

April 15, 2013

Weekly Favorites

Hello there! I know, I know. Long time no see. Right now I'm in a current mood roller coaster and motivation battle. My history and English exams are over which is sooo relieving, but I still have to study for Math (UGH) and Social Studies...and the studying part is somewhat suffering. As is the blog. And my reading. And everything except the Sims, really. I don't get it! I never, ever play the game - video games at all, really. It's just when I really have something to get done that I can't resist. Annoying!
Anyway, I have to apologize again for being such an inconsistent blogger - and I know there is no excuse because getting a post done would only take about 30 minutes of my (not SO precious) time. My laziness is to blame - sorry, sorry.

On to the favorites:

Okay, so maybe a German spring looks a tad bit different than this, but...almost all the snow has melted and that means something, doesn't it? Also, today is the first day in shorts and T-shirt - only now do I realize how much I missed the sun!

Yep, that's correct. Sara Shepard actually is one of my weekly favorites? Why? Because it always takes me ages to pick up the next book in one of her series, thinking every time that they're all the same anyway. Then, though, once I finally start, it blows me away every time. I just finished Wanted (PLL#8) and oh my...so GOOD. Now, I'm onto the newest Lying Game book and so far, I think I am addicted.

Inline skating! Something else I do when I should actually be inside, studying. I love going really fast on those...it's just that I don't know how to slow done...advice, anyone? Also, I'd like to learn a few tricks on them :)

And lastly, it's...early morning runs!

(okay, so there's no beach for me...but a girl can always dream, right?)

NEVER thought I'd say that. I love running, but I hate getting up really early for it when it's still chilly outside. Or, I used to hate it. Now, I'm waiting for sunrise every morning and out the front door I go. The super fresh air around 7 AMish is addicting!

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