Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and it asks you to muse about one question each week.

  • Describe one of your reading habits.
  • Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
  • What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
  • Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
  • Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
  • Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This week I decided to answer the following:

Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s)

I have been buying book like crazy recently mostly because we had our annual book fair and I could not help myself, though I'm only sharing the most recent books I've gotten. They are:

  1. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen - I honestly didn't put much thought when I bought this. I read the backcover and that was it. It just felt right.
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I have been meaning to get my hands on this book since I found out about the movie (I haven't seen it yet, though).
  3. Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne - Immediately after finishing the first book (review coming soon) I knew I had to had the next one. 
  4. Spiderwick Chronicles:The Completely Fantastical Edition by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black - This book came as a suprise for me. I just found a facebook picture of it, thought it was a beautiful edition and went to read about the books. As it turns out it's my type of book.

Review - In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Title: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Author: Cat Winters
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: April 2nd 2013

My Rating:

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

My Thoughts

The backover of this book says:

"(...) I flipped myself over. Opened my eyes. And found a dead man next to my bed."

This was what got me into this book and to be honest I only noticed the ghost on the cover a few days after I bought it, that's how distracted I am.

'In the Shadow of Blackbirds' is an amazing book. Touching, scary and incredibly sweet. I also found it empowering somehow, mostly because the main character, Mary Shelley, was so strong that she became inspiring to me.

As I went through the book, I kept thinking 'How can she do this? How can she possibly live through so many hardtimes?'. Let's be fair though, she did give up a couple of times only to either change her mind or to be convinced by someone she loved deeply to come back and get things right. Still, I don't think I could have gone through what she did.

The flu got me paranoid, everytime I heard someone sneeze, either on the bus or on the street, I would feel a chill running through my spine... That's how well, the author implements the influenza in this book.

The plot, the characters, everything about this book is remarkable. I don't think I'll forget this book anytime soon.

Author Interview - Erica Crouch

Since today is a very special day for all of Erica Crouch's fans - in case you don't know today's the release of her new novel 'Madly, Deeply' - I decided to post some questions that she kindly answered for me.

Source: Erica's Facebook

Erica Crouch is a young author, best known for her 'Ignite' series. She's 21 years old and is currently getting a degree in English & Creative Writing. She lives in the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland.

1.    Why did you decide to become a writer?

I didn’t mean to, actually. I’ve always loved reading and writing, ever since I was younger, but I didn’t think anything would ever actually come from it. Being an author was one of those dream-jobs kids would say — like astronaut or Indiana Jones. I was going into journalism and public relations (it still had to be something in writing!), but was getting agitated with everything I was writing. It was all stiff and formal and overly factual… And I love throwing around the improbable and impossible! I’m a much better liar. So unless there was a sudden dragon or demon sighting I would need to report on, I knew journalism wasn’t my passion. Once I admitted to myself I wanted to be a writer, I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had something worth publishing. I’ll never look back.

2. Did you have any influences?

I think my influences are very vague. I’m inspired by poetry from all assortments of poets. My next novel, for example, is inspired by a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I think mostly, I’m influenced by beautiful darkness — in any form of art, literature or otherwise. I do take a lot of inspiration from Libba Bray, though. She’s hands down my favorite author and I admire her world building and imagery.

3. How did you come up with the idea for Ignite?

The characters came to me first — Azael and Pen, specifically. I just had this image of two demons, bickering over morality with one another. And it was so interesting to hear them fight with one another, to banter back and forth over what justice meant and if there was respect in revenge. The further I explored the characters, the more I was intrigued by them, and then a story just spun out behind them. Pen, in particular, was a curious character for me: a reluctant, deadly demon who wants nothing more than to have a soul again. With Pen, Michael, and Azael’s story, I was able to explore some issues and debates I find really intriguing like hope/redemption and relative vs universal morality. I’ve always been really fascinated with mythology and religious studies, especially anything that’s a little darker and twisted.

4. What can we expect from the final book in this series?

A lot! I’m really excited about Incite, and think it will be the best in the series! I have a handful of new characters I’m introducing that I’m already so enamored with — Eli, Ana, and Kala. Incite is Ignite full throttle. There’s battles, romance, heartbreak… Brother hunting sister… Pen really comes into her own in Incite, and there are a few unexpected twists. Let’s just say this: you may be looking in the wrong direction considering the central villain.

5. Is a Spin-Off a possibility?

I think after Incite, I’m stepping away from the world of Ignite. That doesn’t mean a spin-off is not possible — in fact, it might be fun to revisit some of the characters left after everything ends in Incite, but I think the conclusion of the series will be satisfying enough to the reader that a spin-off won’t be necessary. When I first started writing the series, I was considering a prequel spinoff, showing Pen’s life in Heaven before the fall, but I feel comfortable with the prequel story I gave her in Entice that I’m not sure it’d be necessary anymore.

6. You are writing a new book at the moment. What is it about and when can we expect it?

I’m writing SO many new books right now that I’m starting to question my sanity. The next story I’m releasing, Madly, Deeply, is a young adult period piece romance based off of the Edgar Allan Poe poem I mentioned above. Originally, I wrote it with the intention to include in the July PWP anthology (which I am also contributing a story to), but after some early beta feedback, it looks like I’ll be turning it into a standalone novel. That should come out early summer. I also have a new adult science fiction series, the Undying Series, coming up, which will be five books (3 full length, 2 novellas). I’m expecting to release Cut, the first book in the series, this fall or winter. And then I also have a Robin Hood retelling in the works. It’s a gender-bent Robin Hood retelling with a lesbian twist (many merry women instead of merry men); that series — the Feathered Series — will be a duology, released 2015. There are also a few ideas floating around my head that I’m still plotting out, including: a YA horror, a YA contemporary, and a YA spy/assassin novel.

7. Do you have a special place to write and/or is there a specific routine that you follow before you start writing?

I really need to put more structure into my writing, but as of now, I write wherever I can, whenever I can. Sometimes it’s on the couch, or the floor, and other times it’s at a desk. My only real routine when it comes to writing is to open up Scrivener and put on either music or a movie — I can’t seem to work in silence. Lately, I’ve been writing to the Leonardo DiCaprio Great Gatsby movie. I also have about a dozen playlists on Spotify specific to the different manuscripts I’m working on!

8. How does it feel to be so young and already have a stable writing career?

Weird. Mostly because I don’t think of myself as young or stable. I’m still really early on in my writing career, and I have lots of stress about achieving success and financial stability to be able to live. But that’s a writer’s life! I think there’s a lot of stress put on our generation to achieve a lot early on — so much stress that it sometimes feel like I haven’t done enough yet, and that I could be doing more. So that’s what I’m trying to do… More!

9. How did ‘Patchwork Press’ come into being?

Kellie Sheridan (my friend/writing partner-turned-business partner) and I got together over a writing forum. After we exchanged manuscripts and worked with one another for half a year, we started talking about our publishing dreams. There was a lot we wanted to do in publishing, and we kept thinking about how flawed the current methods of publishing can be. Writing/publishing can be a solitary experience — especially for self-publishers — and we wanted to add a sense of community. We wanted to help great stories make it into the hands of readers and help authors out on the publishing journey. We help with editing and marketing, even design, but the authors keep 100% of the royalties. It’s going great so far, and I’m happy to say we’ve gone international!

10. Plans for the future?

Keep writing stories. There are so many characters living in my head that need their voice on paper. I want to write widely in many different genres, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that. I really want to keep building my relationship with readers and bloggers who have supported me early on. I want to keep working on building up Patchwork Press, and also help establish the YAWordNerds (a group of YA writers/readers I vlog for on Youtube) as a trusted source for industry advice. Mostly though, I hope to keep writing books that make people excited to read! :)

Now with some off topic questions:

1. What’s your favorite book and why?

The Diviners by Libba Bray. I mentioned Libba Bray is my favorite author, and The Diviners is by far the best book I’ve read by her! It has everything you could ever want in a book — murder, mystery, ghosts, psychics, intriguing characters, interesting debates, and the 1920s! Really, if you haven’t read this book yet, go get it! I know it looks a bit long and intimidating, but you’ll fly through the pages.

2. And if you had to choose between a printed book or an e-book, which would you choose and why?

Printed books. I hoard paperbacks like it’s my job. It’s a bit of a problem. I just love seeing books on my bookshelves, and being able to mark up the pages with highlighting passages or writing in the margins. I like seeing paperbacks get fatter the more they’re read. You can browse my bookshelves and see which books I loved most based on how destroyed they are.

3. What’s your favorite book that is now a movie?

The Book Thief. I ugly cried SO HARD watching that movie, I had a headache for days. It was beautiful and perfect and captured the spirit of the book in a way I never expected it to. I also love all of the Hunger Games movies, of course!

I want to thank Erica Crouch for not only being an incredibly sweet person but also for being an amazing author.

P.S.: I'm currently reading 'Madly, Deeply' and I will soon post a review of it. Keep an eye out for it. Also if you wanna know more about Erica Crouch you can go to her website by clicking here.

Review - The Hunger Games

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games
Book #: 1
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: December 1st 2011 (First Published 2008)

My Rating:

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

My Thoughts

After refusing to watch the movies until I got to read the books, for about 2 years (or almost that) I decided to dive into the world of Panem.

I really liked this book. It was amazing and gripping from beginning to end!

The plot for this book is something truly unbelievable and the way Collins portrays it, is just amazing. You can actually visualize everything about District 12 and the Capitol - the regions she goes into most detail - and this to me is precious in a book.

When it comes to the characters, Katniss is one of the few young female characters I had the pleasure to meet, that is already a fighter when the 'trouble' begins. Most books depict young female characters as some fragil being until trouble arrives and they have to grow in order to survive. This does not happen in this book. Although Katniss does suffer some changes, for the good, throughout her 'adventure', or better yet, fight for survival, she already comes into picture as strong and independent.

As for Peeta, I really really liked him and I am fangirling about him and Katniss but something tells me it won't happen.

At the moment I am about to finish 'Catching Fire' the second book in the trilogy and I can say that it wasn't as gripping at first but it gets better towards the middle.

All in all it is a good book and I would recommend it to everyone who likes dystopian books.

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should be Reading and it consists of answering three little questions every wednesday. So here it is...

1. What are you currrently reading?

At the moment I am reading 'Catching Fire' by Suzanne Collins, the second book on 'The Hunger Games' trilogy. I really liked the first book of this series so it made perfect sense to read this one right now.

2. What did you recently finished reading?

I decided to read this book based on several recommendations, either from friends or from blogs/forums. I do not regret it. This book was a emotional ride, filled with suspense and kept me hooked for most of it.

3.What do you think you'll read next?

I simply adore this author. Erica Crouch's the author of one of my favorite series, 'Ignite'. I made a vow to read any book that she writes simply because she's a really good writter and always comes up with amazing concepts.

Blog Tour - Branded

Title: Branded
Author: Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Series: Sinners
Book #: 1
Publisher: Abi and Missy Books
Release Date: February 18th 2014

My Rating:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

My Thoughts

Branded was quite surprising for me, in quite a positive way. At first it was kind of difficult for me to read since it was so incredibly filled with violence that I didn't thought I was going to enjoy it at all. But, I ended up liking it!

Lexi, the main character, started as quite submissive, not because it was a caracter flaw but because she needed to preserve her life at all costs, since in the Hole all deaths are, well, spiced with a bit of torture.
When it comes to the romance in 'Branded', I found it quite predictable and cliche but in the end I could not think of Lexi without thinking of Cole and of course Zeus.

Talking about Zeus, why is it that I always get incredibly attached to the animals? Seriously, there was a moment there on which I thought Zeus was gone and all I could think was 'Oh Lord, please let Zeus be ok!'.

The plot for this book was quite interesting, even though it started kind of slow and the violence was a bit too much, as I progressed in it, it became more and more interesting and I found myself wanting to know what happened next with a very high level of anxiety.

This book was very well written and you can't tell that two people wrote this, since it all comes together so perfectly that it seems like it came from one mind and one mind only.

All in all, I liked it and I will read the future books in this series.