Announcing the Soshelf Distancing Club, Take 2

Time flies. I can’t believe half of the month is already over and I’m in my third or fourth week of uni already. Days seem to blur together and if you woke me in the middle of the night, I’d 1) hit you because you’re evil and 2) definitely not know what day of the week it is. There’s an exception though.

Claire @clairefy and I started off this project a little while ago because we wanted to create something inspiring during social distancing (click here if you want to find out how we found each other) and now, almost 2 months later, we have officially wrapped up our first round of our book club! (Stay tuned to read my blog post of all my impressions of this book club.)

I still can’t believe we did it. It’s honestly one of the best things that has happened to me during quarantine. We’re a jolly group of girls from all over the world that randomly met in the book bloggersphere. We love reading, talking book gossip and just sharing what‘s on our minds and it’s easily become one of my weekly highlights!

Anyways, to get to the point of this blog post, this is the official announcement that our book club is opening sign-ups again. If you feel like meeting a group of awesome girls, here’s your chance! We normally meet every weekend on Zoom for an hour and I’m not lying if I say that it’s the best way to kick off a weekend.

If you’re interested, fill in the form below and we will get back to you asap. Form closes next weekend (24 May)! For more information on our book club, read our previous announcement here and just in case, here are the key facts:

  • Who? Anyone who feels like discussing books
  • What? We came up with the idea for this book club to create a vibrant group of girls with love for books
  • When and where? At this point, we have mostly met every Saturday on Zoom to socialise during social distancing and to discuss the chapters we’ve agreed to read
  • You can participate even if you’re still in your PJs

Btw, we haven’t picked a book for our next round yet but the genre will be YA fantasy (see the options in the sign-up form). We can’t wait to hear back from you!

If you can’t view the sign-up form on my page, click here: https://forms.gle/FmyxVte3y24GdyFAA

Book Talk with Tessi: THE FALLEN PRINCE

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I am more than THRILLED to be part of the blog tour in celebration of Amalie Howard’s The Fallen Prince book release! In case you didn’t know, TFP is the second book in The Riven Chronicles, following The Almost Girl which I liked very much.

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There is barely any book out there that has left me with such mixed feelings. While the book did not exactly trigger one rollercoaster ride of emotions in me, it still left me breathless in the end. Oh, and can I just say how fascinated I am by the world Howard created?

But let me start from the beginning.

The book picks up about one year after where the story left off, but since no major changes have happened since, Riven is still on the run to find her father. Having read The Almost Girl almost two years ago already, I found it rather hard to get back into the story after such a long time. Of course there were some things that I still remembered from The Almost Girl such as Riven being a badass fighter/assassin or her inner struggles after the loss of many loved ones; nonetheless I did wish the book would have provided some memory aids especially in the first one or two chapters.
Unlike the first book, The Fallen Prince focuses on more serious themes than the first one. It revolves more around the question of how human Riven is rather than on how willing she is to save herself and her loved ones. You can tell that Riven has matured a lot by gaining more responsibility and empathy instead of focusing on her senses only. I often wished however that she would have just let her stubbornness go instead of keeping all of her anger to herself. That probably would have made the plot more exciting since the first half of the book was pretty predictable to me. There were times where she reminded me more of an unforgiving attack dog than a badass fighter but after all she has been betrayed by a lot of people.
We are also introduced to new characters who — like the other secondary characters — came a little too flat in the beginning. Maybe it is inevitable due to the book’s technology theme, but it sometimes felt that the book’s atmosphere was too clinical, leaving not a lot of space for emotions and big character developments.

On the romantic side, Caden and Riven are obviously still hot for each other (like really hot!) but again, I sometimes felt that Riven’s voice drifted too much to that of little whiny girl again. Caden is one of the few characters who can make her self-conscious, but instead of admitting to all of her feelings, she decides to let rationality run over emotions. This of course made Riven a fiercer and determined character but it also turned the book more into a one (wo)man show — which is not necessarily bad but it might have allowed more space for the secondary characters. (Note: I love badass heroines. Riven is a perfect example of why you only need yourself to be strong, but love can make you even stronger!)
Then on the other hand, I often asked myself if I would have acted differently if my DNA has been altered and changed. It always raised the question on how far scientists would go in order to create the perfect fighter.
However the book still follows a very fast-paced plot so the reader is literally thrown back into the story with no time to question small details. The last hundred pages or so are so worth of the reader’s patience. It didn’t fail to surprise me with new twists, more action-packed scenes, intrigues, new betrayals. You know what makes a good villain? If the villain has a deep motive to be evil and is convinced that whatever he does, it is for the good. The way they were shaped in the book — so three-dimensional — I couldn’t help but admire the author’s evil genius brain for coming up with such huge plot twists.

Overall, I still find it hard to give a proper review on the book without revealing too much. The book showed pieces of the best but also of the worst of humanity, making it so much more than ‘just’ a YA scifi book. Also, the world-building was the perfect blend of technology, scifi and fantasy. While there weren’t any dragging parts in the book, the first half of the book was still very predictable and foreseeable. However, the questions that were raised throughout the book — how far can science go? What makes a human human? — make up for the little ‘flaws’ in the story, adding a deeper meaning to the whole story. If you are looking for a book that is one of its kind, this one is for you.

Riven has fought for a hard-won peace in her world, and has come to shaky terTHE FALLEN PRINCE - coverms with who and what she is—a human with cyborg DNA. Now that the
rightful ruler of
Neospes has been reinstated, Riven is on the hunt for her father in the Otherworld to bring him to justice for hiscrimes against her people.

But when she receives an unwelcome visit from two former allies, she knows that trouble is brewing once again in Neospes. The army has been decimated and there are precious few left to fight this mysterious new threat.

To muster a first line of defense, her people need help from the one person Riven loathes most—her father. But what he wants in return is her complete surrender.

And now Riven must choose: save Neospes or save herself.

Get the book here, here, here, here or here.

Amalie Howard - headshot

AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national silver IPPY medalist. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

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Weekly Wrap Up #1

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Okay, so I’m going to cheat a little bit on this post since I will summarize both the first and the second week since I created this blog. As you might well know now, Cosmic Book Love is a heart project and I’ve experimented a few times with the design since then until I finally settled with the current one. Honestly, I think it’s the best design I’ve ever had since it’s sparky, in vogue and so much me. I had so much fun drafting it and it’s the love child of my imagination and books.

On Wednesday I finally received my very first bookish mail for Cosmic Book Love. 

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It’s a paperback copy of Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini! I couldn’t be more excited to finally read TTS since I’ve ogled the book since its release back in 2013. Yup, you read it correctly. 3 years since my glance collided with the book cover.
Kim also left me some sweet messages inside the book, including some bookmarks and a paper origami dove (at least I think that’s one). Cute, isn’t it? Yeah, that was my first thought too, but then I realized there are also some doves on the book cover, which in turn means the paper origami is an allusion to the story!!! (Please tell me I’m correct.)

In addition, I won a copy of rock star romance This One Moment by Stina Lindenblatt in a giveaway that was hosted by author Melissa West. Woot! I know rock star romances can be so cheesy but I trust Melissa West’s words so I hope this one will be good.

Then, in case you haven’t noticed already, I participated in the 24h readathon yesterday for the very first time. Yay!! I had so many things to do, so just like I expected I didn’t manage to read too many books. But, I did manage to pick up two books, one that left me crying at night and one that left me enchanted in the morning:

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  • The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander and
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I even tweeted about my feels when I finished TAONB and guess how surprised I was when Sarah Alexander retweeted my tweet:Bildschirmfoto 2016-04-24 um 15.35.29.pngLike wuuuuuuut!

So that’s my weekly wrap up! Oh, and I’m currently hosting a mini giveaway where you can win a copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. 

Current song: New Romantics by Taylor Swift

Current snack: Blueberry ice cream (I know it technically doesn’t count as a snack which however doesn’t mean it makes it less exciting having at least one of it per day)

Current giveaways: Aktion “Blogger schenken Lesefreude”

Happy Sunday!

Review: After Us

AfterUsTitle: After Us (Before & After #2)
Author: Amber Hart
Publisher: K-Teen
Publication date: December 2, 2014
Number of pages: 368
Source: Arc received by courtesy of Netgalley – thank you!
In a nutshell: Strong sequel to the first book

Sometimes secrets kill. Maybe slowly, maybe painfully. Maybe all at once.

Melissa smiles. She flirts. She jokes. But she never shows her scars. Eight months after tragedy ripped her from her closest friend, Melissa is broken. Plagued by grief, rage, and the painful memory of a single forbidden kiss.
Javier has scars of his own. Life in the States was supposed to be a new beginning, but a boy obsessed by vengeance has no time for the American dream. To honor his familia, Javier joins the gang who set up his cousin, Diego. The entrance price is blood. Death is the only escape.

Two broken souls could make each other whole again—or be shattered forever.

Our time will come. And we’ll be ready.

Abtrennung

I am not lying when I say that After Us was probably one of my most anticipated reads last year. If you are into books that deal with culture clashes (which are rarities in the literature world, but there has been a promising trend in the last few months/last year) you definitely do not want to miss this one. I think I almost experienced a meltdown, anxious to be rejected when I hit “request review book” on NetGalley and basically…nothing happened for the next few hours.

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What if I’m not good enough to be approved for this book? What if the peeps of the publicity team are mean sadists? These were the questions running through my head during those…I don’t know, 12 never-ending hours? Fortunately, I must have been a good girl last year since Santa decided to give me an early present — my request was mysteriously approved!

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This review might contain some spoilers if you haven’t read the previous book yet

Anyway, I jumped right into reading this book and the first word that popped up in my mind was hot. And I do not only mean Javier’s physical attraction (don’t worry, Javier has plenty of it), but more importantly, the relationship between Javier and Melissa. Because what they basically do throughout the book, is playing with fire. Decisions have to be made, but to what extend are they willing to hurt each other? Secrets overshadow their relationship, and in the end it is all about not getting burned (that fire metaphor sounds smart, right?)

The story of After Us picks up a few months after Before You. Whilst the book does not star Faith and Diego – the two main characters in the first book – the story is directly connected to the previous book. Also, it of course does not mean that the read was less intense.
We meet Melissa and Javier as two broken characters — Javier cannot get over the fact that Diego – his cousin, his best friend, his brother – was killed by a gang, and Melissa — well, that was definitely an interesting story: While she was introduced to us readers as a cheerful and always-caring character in Book 1, it quickly becomes clear at the beginning of Book 2 that she has changed throughout the last few months. We can still see lots of her happiness in the story, especially when she spends her time together with Javier, but her character is also so full of sadness this time. She is hiding a secret which runs much deeper than you would expect it, so the story also has got that emotional twist.
Javier, on the other hand, was so much more than that flirtatious guy I initially thought of. Whilst there were lots of moments in the book where he almost crossed my tolerance limit on head-over-heels-actions (I mean seriously. It can only go wrong when you join a gang in order to take revenge. It is a matter of fact that we have learned from many films and books. Decisions fuelled by anger are always doomed to failure), you simply cannot look over the fact that he is a character with a big heart. There were many obstacles in Javier and Melissa’s relationship that I definitely did not expect which mostly reflected the conflicts Latino families are facing in America. For example Javiers’s mom disapproval of “white girls”. Javier always stayed true to his character, standing by his opinion and defending his love to Melissa. Melissa and Javier complement each other, and the story was not about why they are broken but how they make each other whole again. It is not about playing with fire but taking risks by opening up to people that truly love you.
That being said, I do have to say that there were some bits and pieces in the plot that were a little bit too oversimplified for my liking, especially Melissa and Faith’s friendship. Whilst I did understand Faith’s motives for her disappearance, Melissa was sometimes a bit too forgiving and patient. Moreover, her secret could have been further explored because the pain she was going through was a little bit too predictable, if that makes any sense? But this really is just a first world problem on my behalf.

Nonetheless, Hart does not hold back in this book. Instead, she goes to full extremes – each sentence is more emotional, deeper, more powerful. The plot becomes more and more fast-paced throughout the book, and by the end, I was literally gasping from the emotional roller coaster. If you nearly got a heart attack in the first book, this time your heart will drop into your gut. With all the action scenes in this book (Javier is seriously badass), coupled with all those twists and turns of events, the book was unputdownable.

Guys, I may have fallen in love with this series. Diversity in literature is shown at its best in Hart’s books, defying norms in our society with three-dimensionality created by words. This book is different from any YA book in the YA universe, so if you want to read something new (as in unusual or extraordinary) I can only recommend it to you.
4Schmetterling

Favorite Reads of 2014

We’re coming closer to the end of 2014 so I thought I’d share my reading highlights of this year. I read about 50 books in 2014, and considering the fact that I was extremely busy this year because of school I’d say that’s a pretty okay number. Beside that, 2014 was definitely one of the most exciting reading years of my life since I created this book blog, and I feel fairly blessed having met so many new authors and fellow bloggers! Blogging has absolutely shaped my way of “judging” a book, especially in the way they make me feel. Anyway, while you’re here, don’t forget to share your personal favorites of 2014!

Btw, all books are shown in a random order. Also, click on the cover to be redirected to my review (if available).

PiecesOfOlivia

Pieces of Olivia is, hands down, one of the best New Adult books I’ve ever read, if not even the best one. It’s a book filled with emotions from the beginning to the end; it’s like Melissa West put the best parts of NA into one book, yet creating something more beautiful, unique. I didn’t expect Olivia’s story to be so deep, profound and unbelievably moving –I fell hard for West’s touching writing. Also, I had so much fun re-discovering my passion for the genre again since it doesn’t follow the usual, very predictable NA plot scheme; quite the contrary it re-ignited my passion for NA books again. Thank you, Melissa West, for writing such an amazing book!

HeartShapedRock

Just another book about cancer again, you might think? Well, not this one. I can’t say how many times I burst into tears while I read Heart Shaped Rock, and Laura Roppe is a pro in depicting the ups and downs of when being faced with the aftermath of cancer. Seize the day. That’s what the book is about, complemented by a very lyrical and surprisingly strong writing style.

Stunde der Lilie

If you happen to be a German-speaking reader, GO AND READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. Die Stunde der Lilie is set in 17th-century-France (Louis XIV plays a minor role in the book) so as a history geek and a frankophile I was instantly sold. There’s so much wit and sarcasm in this book, I think I almost pissed myself laughing. Sandra Regnier is a German YA author you should definitely look out for!

TheBronzeHorseman

This book is one of the few adult books I read this year, and although being a little sceptical towards the story at first, it quickly grew close to my heart. Paullina Simons’s writing is lyrical, simple, complex, I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.! The story is gut-wrenching, gives you the feels, makes you realize how much beauty in a single book can be. My heart broke for Tatiana and Alexander who – due to WW2 – somehow always lose sight of each other but always find their ways back. Definitely a must-read. Epic love story.

EXTRACTION FINAL COVER

I’m gonna admit this: I really didn’t expect to love this book. I mean, the plot sounded pretty decent and the premise didn’t sound too bad either, and I was in need of an action-packed book. But guess what? Exctraction was about so much more. Friendship. Failure. Betrayal. Hope. I fell in love with Diaz’s evil genius brain writing. The book is, hands down, one of the best dystopias literature has to offer.

Defy

I’ve never been a big fan of High Fantasy but Sara Larson showed me once again how wrong I can be sometimes. Not only is Defy about magic, Larson herself created some kind of magic with this book, the way I emotionally responded to the story. I laughed, I cried, I suffered with Alexa together — in a nutshell, it was an unforgettable reading experience.

TheWinnersCurse

I really hoped I’d end up liking this book but NO, I’m in LOVE with it! I was a little bit suspicious at the beginning though, since there was so much hype about it. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever met a heroine in literature as stubborn and strong-willed as Kestrel, and I’ve hardly ever encountered a writing style as unique as Rutkoski’s. Just read this book. You won’t regret it.SweetReckoning

…is one of the most awesome conclusions to a trilogy that has ever existed in the YA universe. Wendy Higgins has definitely outdone herself with this book — there was simply so much love in it; seeing the dynamics among the characters felt like a treat. It also, however, felt unreal to say goodbye to the characters in the series so I’m glad there’ll be another book published in this series next year (I guess?) but which will be from Kaidan’s POV!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Witch Hunter

WaitingonWednesdayWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine, focusing on unreleased books we are excited for!
This week I picked:

 The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

WitchHunterThe magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. When she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can track down the person who laid a deadly curse on him.

As she’s thrust into the world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and all-too-handsome healers, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Publication date: June 2, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I’m currently so into fantasy books, I don’t even recognize myself anymore. Okay, not really. But have a look at the blurb, doesn’t it sound ridiculously intriguing? And OMG, the cover!!! It’s so different from all the YA covers I’ve ever seen but I think it perfectly captures the mysterious-ness in this book, even though I haven’t read it yet (and it looks a little bit Illuminati). If you happen to have an arc of this book, feel free to send it to me LOL.

What did you pick for this week? Let me know in the comments or send me the links to your own post!