Teaser Tuesdays #96 – May 31st: Housebroken

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Books And A Beat. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I haven’t been able to find a lot of spare time to read lately, but I did finally start one of my pending ARC’s the other day: Housebroken by The Behrg. And so far it’s just as good as I was hoping for! This story is fast-paced, full of action and seriously messed up, but in the best possible way since it’s a horror story in the first place. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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My teaser (4%):

“Blake couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. Terribly off. He opened the door just wide enough to grab the paper, every instinct screaming at him to slam the door, throw the lock and walk away.”

What are you reading right now?

ARC REVIEW: Hero – by Belinda Crawford

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Title: Hero
(The Hero Rebellion #1)
Author: Belinda Crawford
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 21st 2015
Finished reading: May 22nd 2016
Pages: 242
Rating 4,5qqq

“All my life, everyone has used my ‘ilness’ as an excuse to take my choices away. I’ve been locked up, told what to eat, who I can be friends with, where I can go to school. They even forced those damn meds down my throat.” She paused, breathing hard. “It’s my life. Even if I’m sick, I’m the only one who should get to choose what I do and how I do it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I am becoming seriously tired of the fact that EVERY single YA fantasy/sci-fi series I decide to read seems to be having either a love triangle, insta-love where a strong female main character falls hopelessly in love with the pretty boy or sappy romance scenes in general. I like the genre too much to give up on it all together, but I have started screening my potential reads… So you can imagine how happy I was when Belinda Crawford contacted me about her novel Hero with the promise that it would be a proper science fiction story without any focus on romance. In fact, in her own words:

A large part of why I wrote Hero was because I was sick of all the female protagonists losing their brains as soon as a cute boy came along. Drives me nuts.”

How can I say no to that? Hero ended up being just as good as I was hoping for. First of all, the worldbuilding is really intriguing. The story is set on the distant planet of Jørn and kind of has a dystopian/futuristic feel with all those scientific elements and genetic engineering. The main character is interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about her in the sequel, although I do think I liked her ruc-pard Fink even better. In fact, the companion animals and the streetrace scenes are probably two of my favorite elements of this story, although I really enjoyed reading Hero in general. With its fast pace, interesting prose and worldbuilding and the promise of no romance, this first book of The Hero Rebellion series is without doubt worth reading!

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After careful observation centuries ago, the humans decided to colonise the planet Jørn on the far side of the galaxy. They arrived in big colony ships and settled on the surface of the planet, but soon found out that a native spore was slowly killing them. With the help of genetic engineering, the scientists were able to blend Earth and Jørn DNA and create new hybrids for their crops and livestock. Unfortunately, the same didn’t seem to work for humans. They were forced to leave the surface and turn their ships into cities that floated in the sky. Only trained teams can now travel to the surface and while Hero Regan’s mother is involved in the organization, Hero herself won’t be seeing the surface any time soon. To make things worse, she is special; surrounded by bodyguards and tutors all day and insulated from the outside world. Her only companion is a huge genetically engineered ruc-pard named Fink, who she can even share her thoughts with. One day her situation seems to improve as they allow her to attend school in Cumulus City. She will be having more freedom than ever, but things are getting more and more dangerous as well…

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It is not every day that you find an entertaining YA science fiction novel that doesn’t include any sappy romance scenes, insta-love or love triangle and this fact should definitely be celebrated. But more importantly, Hero is so much more than that. The worldbuilding is intriguing and I really liked the idea of hybrids, companion animals and humans living on a distant planet in a dystopian future. The prose is easy to read and the ending definitely left me wanting for more… If you like the genre, make sure to read this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Binge – by Tyler Oakley

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Title: Binge
Author: Tyler Oakley
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Humor
First published: October 20th 2015
Finished reading: May 18th 2016
Pages: 307
Rating 4qqq

“No person, no matter how important society deems their relationship to you, has the right to denounce you for who you are.”

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Is it weird that somehow I end up reading memoirs of people I haven’ t really heard of most of the time? Because that’s what happened yet again when I decided to pick up my copy of Binge on a whim. The colorcul cover was enough to intrigue me, and even though I didn’t know much about Tyler Oakley beforehand, I still really enjoyed reading his story. These essays are quirky, feel brutally honest, sometimes uncomfortable but mostly hilarious. And the photos and Tweets are a nice touch as well! I’m not really into watching Youtube channels myself, but this memoir without doubt made me curious about his channel. I’m not sure Binge is for everyone and you have to like reading these kind of quirky memoirs and/or at least know a little about Tyler Oakley to properly enjoy it, but it is without doubt recommendable for the right person. The essays in general have a fast pace (except one or two around the middle) and basically are a mix of personal, witty, serious and funny stories about Tyler Oakley‘s life. The prose is quite easy to read as well!

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Tyler Oakley tells us all about his past and how he eventually became a pop-culture phenomenon and the most prominent GLBT voice on Youtube. Binge is a collection of essays about both Tyler as an awkward child growing up, Tyler coming out, Tyler during high school, Tyler during his Uni years and afterwards; each essay revealing a mix of personal mishaps and other hilarious or personal moments in his life no matter how awkward or potentially uncomfortable.

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I like reading memoirs and it doesn’t really matter to me if I actually know something about the person in question, which might sound a bit weird. I guess I care more about if the memoir itself is entertaining/interesting, and Binge is without doubt a very entertaining and quirky read. I don’t know a lot about Tyler Oakley and I have never seen his Youtube channel, but he comes over as a very interesting person I could definitely see myself hang out with. The essays are personal, brutally honest and for some people maybe even a little uncomfortable, but the stories are without doubt entertaining to read. Binge might not be for everyone, but definitely recommended for the right person.

Cover Characteristic #1 – May 29th

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I saw this meme popping up the other day and I thought it would be a fun way to take a closer look at all those beautiful covers out there. Cover Characteristic is hosted at Sugar & Snark and has a weekly theme.

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This week officially is all about benches, but since I couldn’t find any I’m cheating a little and went with last week’s theme: ONLY THE BACK OF PEOPLE.

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5. I Was Here by Gayle Forman (3,5/5 stars, read in September 2015): I’m not sure I actually like the color combination of this cover and I wish the font of the title would have been different, since it doesn’t seem to match with the background or the rest of the text.

4. The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (4/5 stars, read in October 2015): The background is a perfect match for the story, but I don’t like the color and font of the title that much. A title in white would have worked better…

3. All Fall Down by Ally Carter (4,5/5 stars, read in August 2015): I actually really like this cover already, but I guess the red title does clash a little with the bottom half of the background.

2. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (4,5/5 stars, read in April 2015): I really like the colors used in this cover; my only ‘complaint’ would be that it doesn’t really show what this story is about.

Now on to my favorite cover of this week:

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1. Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake (4,5/5 stars, read in October 2015): Not only does this cover set the atmosphere perfectly, I also love the use of black & white with a touch of red. An easy favorite!

 

What is your personal favorite out of these 5 covers? And have you read any of these books yourself? Feel free to comment! 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: The Time Machine – by H.G. Wells

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Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: 1895
Finished reading: May 17th 2016
Pages: 104
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“We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow. With out them we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence. ”

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I normally seem to be having a love/hate relationship when it comes to classics, but since I have been wanting to read The Time Machine for a while now and I needed more classics for a challenge I decided to give it a go anyway. This story set in the year 802.701 AD is without doubt a quick read and and has an interesting vision of the future, especially when you keep in mind the story was written in the 19th century. Still, I’m having mixed feelings about this time travel story. I felt the story was a bit too ‘communist’ to my taste. Why? It almost seemed like H.G. Wells was promoting communism by showing that the seemingly rich and priviledged Eloi are actually quite weak and the ‘lower’ Morlocks are more technically advanced because of the simple need to adapt to a complicated situation. The quote above shows this quite well… I’m not saying the political theme is necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I expected and I’m still not sure what to think of it. And I didn’t enjoy the descriptions of the part where he travels towards the final moments of the Earth as much as his first time travel adventure either. Still, I can’t deny the story in general reads fast and is quite entertaining if you can get past the political theme. The descriptions of this future are without doubt interesting!

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A Victorian scientist calls himself the Time Traveller as he tries to convince his friends that he was finally able to build a working time machine. They all seem a bit skeptic and don’t believe him, until the day that his time machine vanishes from sight. It seems like time travelling is indeed possible! He takes himself to the year 802.701 AD, and soon finds out life is completely different then. The Time Traveller has a hard time communicating with the inhabitants of this strange future, but he is happy to see that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. But soon enough he starts to discover that the Eloi people are not as advanced as they might seem and are in fact quite weak. The Eloi are afraid of the dark, and with reason, because beneath their paradise live the Morlocks hidden in the deep tunnels. They have evolved in order to survive under the complicated circumstances in the tunnel, and now hunt the very people that used to control them…

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While I liked the general descriptions of The Time Machine and it was interesting to read a vision of the future that was written over one hundred years ago, I still have mixed thoughts about this read. The main problem I had involves the political theme, which I thought distracted the attention from an otherwise entertaining sci-fi time travel story. I won’t be saying this classic is a must read, but it is an interesting enough read if you like these kind of stories and quite short as well.

Friday Finds #88 – May 27th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Babs Book Bistro and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Dumplin’ – by Julie Murphy

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Title: Dumplin’
Author: Julie Murphy
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: December 22nd 2015
Finished reading: May 15th 2016
Pages: 375
Rating 2qqq

“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies, because the only way the world seems to be okay with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend. Well, I’m neither of those things.”

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This novel by Julie Murphy has been recommended numerous times to me in the past and I was excited to finally read it. But while I really wanted to like this story, Dumplin’ has turned out to be yet another ‘unpopular opinion’ book. And it’s not like I shouldn’t be able to connect with the main character, because basically I have been struggling with my weight myself during most of my life (especially during high school)… But I don’t think this story actually portrays the image body positivity it seems to be wanting to promote. First of all, the main character Willowdean is actually quite a bitch. It is one thing to accept your body and try to be immune what others might say to you, but that doesn’t mean she has to treat the people close to her the way she does. Also, the fact that her own mother consistantly calls her Dumplin was quite annoying; how disrespectful can you be towards your own kid?! Dumplin’ was also packed with stereotypes, I wasn’t sure what to think of the whole cliche Miss Clover City beauty pageant in the first place and like I said before: there was a lot of unnecessarily bullying and negative comments involved that didn’t exactly show that teenagers should just accept their bodies. To make things even worse: there was even an completely unnecessary love triangle included in this story. The horror! Having two boys pining over Willowdean doesn’t make her seem more popular or shows she is ‘ready’ to accept who she is. And I’m not even talking about they way she treats them. So as you might have guessed, even though Dumplin’ was quite a fast read and had an interesting premise, I can’t exactly say I enjoyed it. This seems to be one of those books you either love or hate though, so don’t give up on it if you think you might enjoy it.

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Willowdean Dickson has always accepted her body as it is, even though not even her own mother and former beauty queen mom might not feel the same. Dumplin had inspiration closeby: her own aunt always tried to show her that she shouldn’t let other people stop her from doing the things she wants just because of her weight. Together with her best friend Ellen things have always seemed fine, but things change when Will takes a job at the local fast-food joint Harpy’s. One of her new collegues is the attractive Bo, and to Will’s surprise he seems to be interested in her as well. She doesn’t know what to make of his intentions and starts doubting herself… And to make things worse: she and Ellen seem to be slowly growing apart. What happens next might change Will’s life forever: she decides to enter the same Miss Clover City beauty pageant her own mother won in the past to show that she deserves to participate as much as those other girls. But is it really worth it?

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I really wanted to enjoy Dumplin’, but now I’ve read it I don’t think it is actually worth the hype. The main character isn’t exactly likeable and I don’t like the way Willowdean treated the others OR the way the ‘unlikely’ contestants were treated. Add the many stereotypes, unnecessary bullying, negative comments and annoying love triangle to the mix and there just wasn’t any other conclusion possible than that I wasn’t convinced by this story. I know many people love this book, but unfortunately I wasn’t one of them.

BOOK REVIEW: See How They Run – by Ally Carter

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Title: See How They Run
(Embassy Row #2)
Author: Ally Carter
Genre: YA, Mystery. Thriller
First published: December 22nd 2015
Finished reading: May 14th 2016
Pages: 336
Rating 4qqq

“I’ve been wrong, and I’ve been crazy. But this is the first time I’ve ever truly felt like a fool.”

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I remember loving the first book All Fall Down last year and the wait for the sequel was a long one. But somehow, when See How They Run was finally published, I never ended up reading it straight away. Why is still a mystery, but I’m glad I finally did manage to read the sequel. See How They Run might not be as good as the first book in my opinion, but it was still a very quick and entertaining read. I think the wait for the third book is going to be even more painful after that cliffhanger ending… Without doubt a huge surprise! I liked the conspiracy plot in the sequel, and the prose was just as good as ever. Embassy Row is my first Ally Carter series, but I’m definitely going to pick up more of her work in the future. The story itself is fast-paced and I like the international feel and the history behind the country where the story is set (Adria). What made me like See How They Run slightly less than the first book is that the main character Grace is starting to sound more and more self-absorbed and it is getting annoying. I understand she has had some pretty bad experiences in the past, but it tiring to constantly read how broken and messed up she is and that people should stay away… And I’m not sure about Alexei either. Still, I will be waiting impatiently until the next book is published next year.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Grace still isn’t over whatever happened that day her mom died, and it seems like her past has come back to haunt her. She might be in danger yet again, and this time she won’t be the only one who will get hurt if she doesn’t stop it on time. Embassy Row is a complicated place, and one wrong move can completely destroy the fragile balance… Especially between countries with a history like the US and Russia. That one night at a party turns into something a whole lot darker, and soon Grace and her friends will have to work together to find out what really happened before people draw the wrong conclusions and others get hurt. But who can be trusted?

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Like I said before, See How They Run is not as good as the first book, but only by little and mostly because of Grace. The prose itself is easy to read and as good as ever, and together with a solid plot and many plot twists it is without doubt an entertaining read. The cliffhanger ending can be taken both ways, especially since the third book will recently be published in 2017, but it definitely leaves room for another very intriguing story. If you like a good YA spy thriller, make sure to pick up this series.

WWW Wednesdays #92 – May 25th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

Note: I’m actually out of town right now, but will be back before the weekend… Gotta love the post scheduling option! 😉

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have been seriously neglecting one of my favorite genres lately, so I decided to put all my planned books on hold and pick up a proper whodunit: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. I’m not far into it yet, but I hope to finish it before I come back! Also, I will try to read The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry during my trip. I’m ashamed to admit I have never read this classic, but better late than never right?

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I managed to finish is Binge by Tyler Oakley, which turned out to be a really entertaining memoir even though I hadn’t heard from the author before.
* I’ve also finished Hero by Belinda Crawford, a very enjoyable ARC with an interesting worldbuilding, no romance and a fast pace. Definitely recommended!
* I also finally picked up my Spanish copy of the first Harry Potter book again. I have been wanting to read more books in Spanish and it was the perfect excuse to reread this series… Because no matter what language the story is told in, it always stays magical (Although I prefer the original version). I found out while reading Harry Potter Y La Piedra Filosofal that I’m still able to read Spanish with a ‘fast’ pace, so I’m quite a happy camper right now. 😀

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Once again I haven’t been able to start any of the books I wanted to read last week…Whcih is partly to blame to the lack of time and I was in the mood for different genres as well. But I’m going to try and read them this week though! First up is another ARC: Housebroken by The Behrg. I haven’t read a good horror story in too long, so I’m really looking forward to it. I also want to read Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys, but I’m probably going to read A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas first since I’m not sure how much longer I am going to be able to resist the temptation.😉 My newest TBR jar pick is still The Opposite Of Loneliness by Marina Keegan.

BOOK REVIEW: Stars Above – by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Stars Above
(The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: February 2nd 2016
Finished reading: May 13th 2016
Pages: 369
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“The first time, he had wondered why she liked books so much, and if it had anything to do with why he liked spaceships. Because they could take you somewhere far, far away.”

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As I’ve done with previous short story collections, I will write a short summary with my opinion on each of these nine stories rather than write a conventional review. The Lunar Chronicles has been one of my favorite series I’ve read last year and it is always great to revisit this world. Marissa Meyer is probably one of my favorite authors, although I did enjoy the actual series better than most of these short stories. Two of these are an exception though: The Princess And The Guard and Something Old, Something New. I loved these two, especially the epilogue! If you have enjoyed reading the series, I would definitely recommend Stars Above, although some stories are better than others.

WARNING: SPOILERS! Make sure to only continue reading if you have already read the series… I’ve tried to keep it spoiler free, but it’s kind of hard with some of the stories.

The Keeper (4/5)  This story is a prequel to the series and shows how Princess Selene first arrived at the house of Michelle Benoit and Scarlet. A really enjoyable story and I loved little Scarlet!

Glitches (4/5) REVIEW I actually read this one last year; feel free to read the full review. The story is a prequel to Cinder and tells us about how the results of the plague start to take a toll on Cinder.

The Queen’s Army (3/5) REVIEW I read this story last year as well; feel free to read the full review. This is a prequel to Scarlet and tells us more about the army Queen Levana is creating.

Carswell’s Guide To Being Lucky (3/5)  Thorne is probably one of my favorites, but I didn’t really like the arrogant thirteen-year-old version of him. Sure, it shows how determined he is to get his own ship, but I prefer the adult Thorne of the main series.

After Sunshine Passes By (4/5) This story is a prequel to Cress and tells us more about Cress ended up on a satellite in the first place. Poor Cress! A very interesting story.

The Princess And The Guard (4,5/5) This is one of the stories I have been looking forward most, because of the characters. It’s a prequel to Winter and I really loved this story. Winter and Jacin are simply made for each other.

The Little Android (3,5/5) REVIEW I already read this one last year; feel free to read the full review. It’s a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but set in the world of this series.

The Mechanic (3/5) This is another prequel to Cinder and tells us about Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s POV. It was nice to read it from Kai’s perspective, but it didn’t add anything new to the story..

Something Old, Something New (5/5) This is by far the best story of the bunch and the one I was looking forward most. It’s an epilogue to Winter and tells us more about what happens to the main characters after the facts. It’s basically everything I wanted and more to end this excellent series!