September 1, 2014

September Dystopia Challenge Linky

It's already September! Insane. That means school already started for most people, teenagers and university students alike... I hope you have a nice start, it's not too stressful, and that you still find time to read and review dystopia books!
For those that have seen the end of holidays and are back to work, my thoughts are with you as well.

I haven't gotten anyone to ask me for a new badge in a while, so if you have a new badge to earn, email me!

Again, make sure to read the RULES and FAQ for this year's challenge, I am more strict than I was in 2013. I will be checking the links you post, so please do not waste your (or my) time cheating.

If you plan to review the books you will read, post the links to reviews into the linky below. You can post more than one, of course, but make them WORTH READING. One-sentenced reviews are a no-go, and three-sentenced aren't much better. Please, take your time and do the job properly!

Like mentioned before, rereads are allowed, but not rereading the same book 5 times in a row! Also, if you're reading a series, each individual book counts as 1 book read. Short stories and novellas (.5 novels etc.) do NOT count as one book, so please stick to that! When you read 4, I can count it as one, but definitely not before. I hope you read this because I keep getting the same questions about this. I know it sounds harsh but if I counted novellas, you'd all be done in January. Make an effort!

For more info click the header.

When you reach a new level, send me an email letting me know. I'll check your reviews (or your read pile on Goodreads or similar) and give you a badge for you to post on your blog.

September Dystopia Challenge Linky

August 31, 2014

Monthly Wrap-up: August 2014

Book haul

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Catalyst by (won in a giveaway; thank you S J Kincaid!)
The 100 by

Books read

Storm Siren by Mary Weber (★★ - review)
Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead (★★★★★ - review)
The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery (★★★ - review)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (★★★★★ - review)
Affinity by Sarah Waters (★★★★ - review)

Read but not reviewed
Click on the images to visit Goodreads website.
Other things on the blog

Top Ten Tuesday

Random Ramblings

Guest posts

Grieftime giveaway (ended)
Karen Wrighton's guest post (ended)
Casey Clubb's guest post (ended)

Book review: Affinity

Goodreads synopsis
"Now you know why you are drawn to me – why your flesh comes creeping to mine, and what it comes for. Let it creep."

From the dark heart of a Victorian prison, disgraced spiritualist Selina Dawes weaves an enigmatic spell. Is she a fraud, or a prodigy? By the time it all begins to matter, you'll find yourself desperately wanting to believe in magic.

Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870s, Affinity is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale.

Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers and common thieves, Margaret feels herself drawn to one of the prisons more unlikely inmates – the imprisoned spiritualist – Selina Dawes. Sympathetic to the plight of this innocent-seeming girl, Margaret sees herself dispensing guidance and perhaps friendship on her visits, little expecting to find herself dabbling in a twilight world of seances, shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions.

I adore Sarah Waters, so I picked this book up eagerly. I read two of her novels before - Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet - and I really loved both, so I had no doubt in my mind I wanted to read Affinity as soon as possible. It also fit right in with LGBT month in April so it was just another plus.
I started it on the plane and so I actually managed to hold my attention to it for almost two hours, which is rare for me as I get super distracted all the time while reading. So here the book had almost all my attention, but not for the story. Sadly, this novel did not pull me in as Waters' previous ones did.
I didn't understand the story at all for a long time; it took me way too long to understand what's going on, and that's never been a problem before with Waters. I have never read much (or any) historical fiction before so maybe I am just not used to it. Waters got me really into the genre only recently with her amazing stories, but I feared Affinity would not be among them. 
I honestly cannot even point a finger to what bothered me. I found the book rather plain. That's the problem. Nothing stood out too much at the start to really grab my attention, want me to read more... I had put the book on hold for over a week before I picked it up again, and even then it felt forced.
Luckily, that turned around soon. I picked the book up again after four months and resolved to finish it once and for all. After I was about a third in, it finally picked up. The story got mysterious, a little fantastical, and I instantly wanted to know more. The whole spiritual realm really interested me because I knew Waters wrote realistic fiction, so I was very curious to see where this story would take us.
I liked the main character, as I usually do with Waters' books. Margaret was a free-willed female that didn't really behave in the forms she was supposed to, and I always have a soft spot for a rebel. She was unique and quite daring going to a prison in late 19th century, to just walk freely among the locked up women to learn about their lives.
The mysteries and twists to the story were great, when things finally started to happen. The snippets from Selina's diary (?) didn't make any sense to me at first and I was really close to skipping them, but luckily I did not, because they made sense later on in the story. As is usual for Waters, she brings the story together from multiple points, but towards the end of the book you know all the angles and can connect it all into a whole.
Affinity also has some F/F romance, like previous works I read from Waters. This one didn't evolve as much as I hoped, or was used to, but there was definitely some sweet moments. Waters really knows how to write an enticing story with great twists, drama, and romance. I was loving the book by the time I was coming to the end of it. 
Waters' works are fantastic, there's all there is to it. She hold one's attention nicely, it's never boring, it's always something unusual and not very common in historical fiction in terms of topic, so I always love picking up her books. Not to mention the twist at the end. I expected it, I knew it was coming, but it still shocked me to finally come upon it and understand the entire book. She's such a master deceiver! You never ever know until the point that explains it, what will happen. Amazing! Cannot wait to read more.

Great read!

August 28, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Scariest place in the books

There is a bunch of scary places in the books, and I would be okay without stepping into any of them - Gaunt's house, the old Riddle house, the Forbidden Forest... Basically, anything related to Voldemort. Even the lake with its residents doesn't seem too appealing. Still, the scariest place has to be

The Forbidden Forest

Not only are there gigantic spiders, we also have pretty hostile centaurs and god knows what else even Hagrid may not know about. I wouldn't be too keen on the forest.

The Forbidden Forest, also known as Dark Forest borders the edges of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry grounds. As its name suggests, it is strictly off limits to students - except in the case of detention, or Care of Magical Creatures lessons that occasionally take place there. Of course, with the various dangerous creatures living in the Forest, few students would even want to venture into it. Black flowers are known to grow in the forest.

Sources: gif - text

August 27, 2014

'Mockingjay' Rebel Warriors Posters

Click to enlarge.

Author Spotlight: Bette Lee Crosby

Q & A with Bette Lee Crosby

1. What was the biggest inspiration/influence for the novel?
Cracks in the Sidewalk is based a true story, and I found the truth of what happened so heart-wrenching I knew I had to write about it. Claire, the grandmother in the story, was a friend of mine and a wealth of information.

2. How easy or hard was the writing process?
This particular novel was harder than most because of the level of emotion involved. I found that I was so in sync with the characters that I suffered through the things I knew they were feeling. The emotions in this book are at times beautiful and at times ugly, but they are always raw and open on the surface. Knowing the background as I did, it was the only way I could write the story.

3. How many discarded drafts and fixed pages happened before the final product?
It’s impossible to say. Each day when I start to write, I read what I have written the day before and in reading I also edit and smooth out the flow of words. Sometimes I will go back to re-read and re-edit 5 or 6 chapters before I move on. Until the day the manuscript goes out the door to my editor, it is still a work in progress.

4. How long did it take to get from the idea to the book?
I knew about this situation years before I even started to think about doing the book, but it was too sad a tale to tell. Only after the situation was resolved in a happy way, could I consider writing the story. From the time I started the story until it was completed was over a year.

5. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to put to paper.
I most certainly do. That’s how a writer’s mind works. Before I’ve finished one book, I’m already thinking about what I’ll write next. I’m happiest when I am working on a novel. And I have been very happy for the past ten years. My latest novel Passing Through Perfect is scheduled for release in January of 2015.

6. Your top five writers?
That’s a tough question. I like different writers for different reasons; some because of the beauty of their prose, some because of the way they create characters I can fall in love with and some because they open up a whole new world of ideas for me. That said, some of my favorites are:
1) Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of Pay it Forward) because her stories never fail to inspire me with their faith in mankind.
2) Harper Lee – because she wrote about the South the way it actually was, (although it’s hard to forgive her for penning To Kill A Mockingbird and then never writing another book.)
3) Erin Morgenstern (author of The Night Circus) for the sheer beauty of her prose
4) John Grisham because his books are the purest form of entertainment
5) The Brothers Grimm, for the wonderful fairy tales that as a child inspired me to think outside the box. 
About the book

A powerful story that is a heart-wrenching reminder of how fragile relationships can be. Cracks in the Sidewalk is based on a true story.

Claire McDermott is a wife, a mother, a grandmother... Her only daughter is gravely ill... Her son-in-law is resentful and angry... Her grandchildren are missing...

After years of writing letters, hoping to find the children, hoping to bring them back, Claire receives a reply...a dog-eared gray envelope is stuffed into her mailbox, but will it bring hope or simply put an end to the waiting?

Can a single letter change the lives of four people? Claire McDermott and her grandchildren are about to discover letters are a journey of the heart which can ultimately deliver people to their destination.

Reviews for Cracks in the Sidewalk

Reviewed By Samantha Rivera for Readers' Favorite
Elizabeth is a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother. She has no care in the world but to accomplish these goals and she works hard at them despite the treatment she is given at the hands of her husband. When Elizabeth falls ill suddenly during her pregnancy with their last child, her husband determines to have nothing to do with her. Unfortunately that means her children (including her newborn son) will also have nothing to do with her. It's almost a year before Elizabeth is finally able to see her young children again, but even then things are not what they might seem in Cracks in the Sidewalk.

Cracks in the Sidewalk is the type of book that you can't stop thinking about long after you put it down. Elizabeth is a woman that any woman would be proud to be. She is able to roll with the punches and even when people behave in a reprehensible way towards her she is incapable of truly hating them and can only feel sorry for the love they don't have. Her plight is one no mother would ever want to find herself in, but at the same time it is one that will draw you in. This is a heart-wrenching story but it is also a beautiful one of love and devotion and forgiveness. For Elizabeth's children and her mother it is also a story of miracles and of overcoming any obstacle life may put in your way. An excellent book by Bette Lee Crosby.

A moving, emotional story...when I read this book I felt so moved, I was crying at the end...writing flowed beautifully...depth of characters and insight kept me turning pages. Bria Burton
A compelling story...Well written, with a realistic, compassionate telling, Cracks In the Sidewalk will bring readers into the family, happy to be a part of it.Angie Mangino

About the author
Born in Detroit and raised in a plethora of states scattered across the South and Northeast, Crosby originally studied art and began her career as a packaging designer. When asked to write a few lines of copy for the back of a pantyhose package, she discovered a love for words that was irrepressible. After years of writing for business, she turned to works of fiction and never looked back. "Storytelling is in my blood," Crosby laughingly admits, "My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write."

Crosby's work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since that, she has gone on to win several more awards, including another NLAPW award, Royal Palm Literary Awards, the FPA President's Book Award Gold Medal and Reviewer's Choice Award and Reader's View Southeast Fiction Literary Award.

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