Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon

I recently found out about this event, hosted twice a year by Dewey’s read-a-thon and, luckily, I was just in time to sign up. I doubt I’ll be able to make it through the entire 24 hours but I look forward to the read-a-thon nonetheless.  I will keep this post updated with the books I’m reading, how many pages I have read and how many hours I wasted sleeping. Coffee, green tea, snack food, and comfy places to read have been prepared and I am ready to tackle this challenge.

What I plan to read:

Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Mary Shelley is considered the first true science fiction writer because her story of Frankenstein is based on the scientific accomplishments and breakthroughs of her age. I can’t wait to read this book. Since we’ve never had to read it in school, I feel way behind on some of the classics. Plus, it’s very short .


READY – SET – GO!  (2pm)

Introductory Questionnaire

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Vienna, Austria.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein (see above why)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Mmh… probably my stash of chocolate. You can never have too much chocolate at home.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I’m 26, I study English, French, and Spanish and I have just enjoyed lunch with my boyfriend who is now spending time on the couch, watching TV. Which is perfect  because that leaves me the bed and my favorite chair for reading.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my first time and I’m super happy that I discovered it in time (just last week). I look forward to just reading, an entire day (if I make it), and getting done with some of my other challenges. Plus, this gives me the opportunity to grab some books that I normally would have left on the TBR pile for much longer. Or books that I have started and never finished (read GRRM here).



Pages read: 64
Books read: 0
Currently reading: Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

It’s still early afternoon so I’m awake and happily reading along. Frankenstein is a lot more interesting than I expected it to be and I am equally surprised about how quickly Victor created his “monster”. Even though we have seen very little of the creature itself, I enjoy reading about Victor’s family and the gossip in Geneva. Sinister in tone, I’d recommend this as a Halloween read.



Pages read this hour: 32
Total pages read: 96
Snacking on: Kinder Schoko-Bons
Currently reading: Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

Motivation level: Still quite high. My book is interesting, even though I can feel my weekendly afternoon slump coming on. I work so hard during the week that usually, on my weekends I spend a lot of the day sleeping, in addition to a good night’s sleep. But Frankenstein keeps me interested, especially now that the “monster” reveals his own story. And I can’t help but feel very tenderly towards him.



Pages read last hour: 30
Total pages read: 126
Snacking on: nothing
Currently reading: Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

Motivation level: I’m taking a few minutes break from reading to check out other people’s blogs and random book news on the internet. My book is getting better and better, though, and I’m curious how it will end. I am probably one of the few people who have never seen a Frankenstein movie adaptation, so I have no idea how it will end. But I suspect it won’t be very happy.



Pages read last hour: 4
Total pages read: 130
Snacking on: chilli beans
Currently reading: Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

Why only four pages? Because the latest episode of the Sword & Laser show got in the way. This time, Tom and Veronica interviewed Gail Carriger, who showed up with a parasol and tiny hat and all. I was only a huge fan of book one of her Parasol Protectorate books, the rest of the series was too repetitious for my taste, but it’s always a pleasure watching interviews with Gail.



Pages read last hour: 32
Total pages read: 162
Snacking on: nothing
Currently reading: Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

I have only a few chapters ahead of me and will finish this book within the next hour. I have participated in some of the mini-challenges (no wins so far) and am checking out other people’s posts regularly. Still reading, even though I got up at 8am this morning and can feel the sleepiness coming over me already.



Pages read last hour: 110 (includes endnotes)
Total pages read: 272
Books read: 1
Snacking on: a pomegranate
Currently reading: ???

I have finished and reviewed Frankenstein and will now browse my lists and TBR pile for my next read.This book has led me one title closer to completing my personal challenges. Mary Shelley’s novel features on NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books, is part of Gollancz’ SF Masterworks series and was even listed on the BBC Big Read. I’d say, this one’s a winner!



Pages read last hour: 0
Total pages read: 272
Books read: 1
Snacking on: toasties
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

I have spent the larger part of the last one-and-a-half hours looking for a new book. I didn’t feel like any of my choices so I read a lot of first pages to see where I get stuck. In the end, I went back to my current read, the first in the Codex Alera series, which I am enjoying as an audiobook.



Pages read last hour: 25
Total pages read: 297
Books read: 1
Snacking on: nothing
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

Audiobooks mean slow going, but it is incredibly enjoyable to have somebody else read a story to you, and read it well. Plus, I can play little browser games while listening which helps keep me awake. It’s 10pm here and while that’s way before my bedtime, I have a week of hard work behind me and my boyfriend woke me up at 8 this morning. The time for green tea and a cup of coffee will be coming very soon…

And because challenges are fun, here’s my entry for Name That Book. Happy guessing:

It’s George R.R. Martin’s “A Feast for Crows”.



Pages read last hour: 40
Total pages read: 337
Books read: 1
Snacking on: nothing
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

Yes, this kind of book is exaclty what I need now. I’ll continue listening to the audiobook in bed now, so there’s a fair chance I’ll be asleep soon. But I’ll be back for the last few hours, I promise.



Pages read last hour: 13
Total pages read: 350
Books read: 1
Hours slept: 8,5
Snacking on: nothing
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

Aaaah, I’m getting old (not really). But I do need my eight hours of sleep, regardless of awesome challenges. But I’m awake, my boyfriend brought me coffee and I shall have books for breakfast. Even though I probably won’t read much this hour as I have to catch up on all the things that have been going on while I was sleeping.



Pages read last hour: 5
Total pages read:
Books read: 1
Hours slept: 8,5
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

The last few challenges weren’t up my alley so I didn’t participate. I’m still reading, though slowly and without stressing myself.



Pages read last hour: 12
Total pages read:
Books read: 1
Hours slept: 8,5
Currently reading: Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon

I’m thinking I may start a new book. I am a bit more than halfway through the first Codex Alera adventure and while it is enjoyable, it feels a little bland. Too much generic fantasy themes going on that I’m not in the mood for right now. I might start that Patrick Ness book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, or Blackout by Connie Willis.


HOUR 24 – the End

I have started Paoli Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl and read the very long first chapter. The print is tiny, so it was only 28 pages or so.

In conclusion to this read-a-thon, I can say that it was a nice experience to really sit down and just read for hours and hours. However, I expected more from the mini-challenges and just different things altogether. The interaction with other bloggers was okay but again, I probably expected too much. It was fun and nice to be a part of. But I doubt I’ll be participating in this read-a-thon next year. Too much stress and not enough pay-off.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Creepy Books

It’s October and Halloween is approaching. We don’t celebrate this holiday here in Austria, but during the last few years, it has become more popular. Kids actually dress up twice a year now (the other occasion being Fasching in February) and I’ve had one Halloween where they rang my bell asking for sweets – as a student, I had lots at home and felt generous, so they got some chocolate. Halloween doesn’t mean anything to me personally, but I always welcome a good excuse to read a particular type of books. And being creeped out by scary books and movies is a pleasure I indulge in way too rarely.

So here are my

top ten favorite creepy, scary, nightmare-inducing books.

10. Sebastian Fitzek – Therapy

German author Sebastian Fitzek writes straight up psychological thrillers. They are pulpy, they have flat characters, but they are such page turners! Every once in a while, I want to sit down with a Fitzek novel and just read it. Most of his books can be read in one sitting – have to, in fact, because they are impossible to put down. Therapy made it on this list because it has the most atmosphere and the most convoluted and scary plot. Also, it’s worth reading just for the twist at the end (there always is one, isn’t there?) and the solution to all the weirdness that is going on in this book.

9. Katherine A. Applegate – Everworld (series)

I don’t know how I would feel about these books now, as a grown-up. But when I first read these 12 books, I was surprised by how creepy they were. Taking place in a parallel universe where all the gods and mythological critters went when humans stopped believing in them, four teenagers are stranded and just try to survive and figure out a way back home. They encounter giant gods, hell hounds, trolls, speaking boar, fairies and all sorts of other folk – almost all of them out to kill them. Book 2 in particular remains in my memory as extremely scary. Action-packed and full of humor, these are a great mix for young adults who want a bit of creepiness in their reading life.

8. Richard Matheson – I Am Legend

I didn’t expect this one to be so scary. There are plenty of creepy creatures in I Am Legend but I don’t get scared by them so much as by things that could actually happen. In this case it was the oppressive loneliness Robert Neville suffers. The thought of being utterly alone in the world – for all we know, at least – really got to me. I was hoping for him to find another human being that is not infected and has turned into a vampire/zombie. At the same time, I knew how hopeless it was. This is a very short book and you can easily read it in one night. I recommended it in my review and I’m recommending it again here.

7. Stephen King – IT

You knew it was going to feature in this list, didn’t you? As I’ve said in my review, it wasn’t necessarily Pennywise or his many manifestations that scared the living daylight out of me. It was the horror that came from humans, without supernatural help. Once scenen in particular stuck to my memory where a child tortures small animals for pleasure. Stephen King’s vivid, dense style makes this even worse. I was horrified and ended up crying. And the worst thing is – this is a horror that is quite possibly really happening in the world.

6. Régis Loisel – Peter Pan

What’s that, you say? A children’s fairy tale on a creepy books list? And didn’t I get the author wrong. No and no. This is the comic book adaptation by French writer and artist Régis Loisel who is a genius in bringing the beloved childhood tale to life in this gritty, very adult version. While Neverland is recognisable in this 6-book series, a lot of things are different. It’s dark, it’s bloody, there is sex and violence and awful things happening. I wouldn’t give this to children to read. But it’s perfect if you want a bit of magic with your horror. Here’s my review.

5. Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere

Any Gaiman would be a great pick for this list. I chose Neverwhere because it features two of the scariest villains I have ever read about. Their cold-hearted approach to reach their own ends was extremely creepy to read. At the same time, it’s so satisfying to have such wonderfully hateable evil guys. Sometimes you just need someone utterly devoid of feelings and mercy. This isn’t my favorite Gaiman by far, but Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar still creep me out.

4. Amélie Nothomb – Cosmétique de l’ennemi

I couldn’t find an English translation of this but a book that contains barely 100 pages and manages to make me want to sleep with the lights on is surely worth mentioning here. A man is stuck on the airport, waiting for a delayed flight, when a stranger comes up and starts talking to him. The stranger will not be shaken off and soon, he tells the protagonist things that will give you nightmares. And the ending offers one of the coolest plot twists I remember. Nicely written and, again, you can read this in one sitting. If you’re new to Belgian author Nothomb, I recommend her older books. They are all bite-sized and have a specific strangeness about them that will either turn you into an instant fan or make you hate her.

3. Chuck Palahniuk – Haunted

In this fix-up novel, there are many scary stories interwoven to fit into one bigger story. Some of them are more disgusting than creepy, others are even funny. But they all have one thing in common, that special kind of weird that Chuck brings to his writing, that shows us a side of humanity we’d really rather not know about. If you like your frightening novels more disturbingly shocking than monster-scare-moment shocking, this is the book for you. Also, if you’ve never read Chuck Palahniuk, do so now! Choke and Fight Club are good starter novels but if you want to go in all the way right now, pick up Haunted. Whether you love it or hate it (I don’t think there’s an in between) you’ll never forget it.

2. George Orwell – 1984

Yup, this one fits right into this list. I said it already in my review, if you haven’t read this book, no matter who you are or where you live or what you believe in, if your teachers haven’t already forced it on you, read it. There is a reason Orwell’s classic is on every Best Books list, every school at least talks about it (if it’s not required reading), and I was surprised myself at how readable it is. The scary factor here is not monsters or a plot reminiscent of thrillers. It is simply the world the story is set in. Reading about it is scary enough but if you think about it and look at where we are now in our own world, it becomes all the scarier – because we’re really not that different from Orwell’s chilling vision of the future.

1. Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho

By now, you should have figured out the pattern. This book is entirely monster-free, unless you count Patrick Bateman, and he would definitely qualify. A serial killer, yuppy New York stock broker who spends his entire life judging other people’s clothing, hair, and body, banging girls, prostitutes, his girlfriends, and going on the occasional killing spree. This is by far the most disturbing novel I have ever read. Nothing comes close to it and the movie adaptation is cotton candy compared to its literary counterpart. You need a good stomach for this book and you need to plough through a lot of pages of descriptions of clothing and accesories, with labels and brands and the price attached. But it’s worth it. Seriously, what comes out of Ellis’ mind is scary shit!

Also, if you’re interested in winning a bundle of YA Halloween reads, head over to Underwords and enter for a chance to win. There’s also a link to Neil Gaiman’s wonderful explanation of the All Hallow’s Read.

Upcomping movies based on books that I really want to see

2012 seems to be the year for book adaptations. There is a number of movies that I really look forward to, and that’s not even counting The Hobbit. I’ll include a link to movie homepages and the trailers, of course. If you’re like me and sometimes need a little visual pleasure to get into the mood, look no further. Note: If some of these movies are out already where you live, remember that everything takes a lot longer to come to theaters in Austria. Little backwater of Europe that we are…

Here’s my list of most highly anticipated movies based on books (and whether I’ve read them):

Cloud Atlas (trailer) (book review)

I’ve read and reviewed the David Mitchell book only last month, in preparation of the movie. While the idea has always intrigued me and the book has been waiting on my TBR for years, it was the amazing and visually stunning trailer that gave me the last nudge needed to finally dive into the book. I enjoyed the intertwining storylines and the structure of the novel but I believe the translation to a movie screen will only benefit the story. Especially Sonmi-451’s story looks incredible in the trailer and while the dystopian corpocracy came across really well in the novel, I look forward to seeing all of these images on screen. Also, from what we see in the trailer, I get the suspicien that my least favorite story in the book will be much better in the movie. Then again, the Luisa Rey mystery does not look so much up my alley.

That said, I look forward to this a lot.

Les Misérables (trailer)

First and foremost, I have not read this book. I own a three-volume edition in French as well a five-part version on my Kobo. But I’m too proud to read a translation (I do speak decent French, after all) and the sheer size of the story has been too daunting for me to actually start reading. Some day though…
I have, however, seen the musical and it remails my favorite musical to this day. Not only is the story heartbreaking and surprisingly interesting (one always suspects a lot of dry history) but the music is simply wonderful. It’s the kind of music I can lose myself in and if I ever do pick up the novel(s) I’ll listen to the soundtrack to get me in the mood.
The trailer looks promising, although I’m really not sure about the actors’ singing voices. Anne Hathaway, as much as I love her, does not convince me with her “I Dreamed A Dream” and I’m afraid no Éponine on the planet can hold a candle to Lea Salonga. But again, we’ll see.

The story is so beautiful, I suppose I’ll overlook any flaws and love it anyways.

Anna Karenina (trailer)

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina? With Keira, it’s always a hit-and-miss. Sometimes, she’s stunningly beautiful, other times I can’t help but stare at her enormous man-jaw. Depending on the role she plays, that can be a good or a bad thing. Either way, she is a great actress and I’m sure she’ll be a fantastic love-stricken, tormented Anna.
I’ve read about half of the Leo Tolstoy novel and loved every page. Why did I stop? Well, you know. Life gets in the way, you put the book aside, then you don’t really remember all the details and feel you have to start all over. Well, that’s where I am. But I look forward to re-reading the first half and reading the second half for the first time. The story is gripping and surprisingly readable.
I believe it will translate beautifully to the screen and the trailer raises my hopes even more. It has a musical quality to it, with brilliant costumes, a lot of atmosphere, and – let’s say it right now – an incredible cast. Lots of my favorites in this movie. I think this will be a hit, at least with me.

Life of Pi (trailer) (book review)

I am currently reading this book, mainly because the trailer put me in the right mood. Directed by Ang Lee, the stunning visuals made me all giddy with excitement. While parts of the trailer are incredibly cheesy and the colors are maybe too intense, there is something appealing in the stark width of the sea with just this little lifeboat containing Pi and a bengal tiger right in the middle.
I’m on the fence about the book. It is dealing with religion and as a non-religious person, I’m having trouble sympathising with Piscine Patel. I’m also still waiting for the actualy story to take place. You know, the lifeboat part? The style is fluent and poignant, though, so I will keep reading and hopefully finish the novel before the movie hits theaters here.

UPDATE: I have now read the book and the excitement factor has gone up a lot. I really can’t wait for this one.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (trailer)

I’ve fought battles with YA literature lately that make me shrink away whenever somebody so much as mentions a coming-of-age story. But this book being a long-loved classic of YA literature and the trailer being as charming and sweet as it is, I will definitely read the book after all.
Maybe this makes me weird, but I was never unpopular at school, despite being a geek. I love stories about underdogs and wallflowers, though, especially if they have a small group of tight-knit friends who understand each other implicitly. And that’s what this trailer made me expect. I’m especially curious about Emma Watson. We all loved her as the book-smart witch Hermione Granger but the two other movies with her that I’ve seen made me lose faith in her acting abilities. In Ballet Shoes she was ok, in My Week With Marilyn she was painfully unbelievable. In this trailer, she seems to have grown into the role and I will watch the movie with my hopes very, very high. I’ll probably fit this slim volume into my reading schedule very soon.

Curiosity factor: Has Emma Watson’s acting (other than as Hermione) improved?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (trailer)

I’m still not sure how I feel about the “Hobbit trilogy” because the story is short enough to go into one feature length movie. On the other hand, I love the Lord of the Rings movies and there can’t really be too much Middle Earth backstory. Peter Jackson is a genius when it comes to bringing Tolkien to life on the big screen. And I’ve always wanted to know just what Gandalf does when he pisses off in the middle of the story. Having been too lazy to read the Histories of Middle Earth or even the Silmarillion, I expect great things from the movies. Although the part where we have to wait an entire year for the next instalment again is pissing me off already…

Also: Martin Freeman? The perfect Bilbo. You just got to love him.

Carrie (teaser)

It wasn’t my first Stephen King but I have read it and it was, as most of his books are, excellent. I can only “judge” the movie by its poster so far and a few backstage pictures, kindly provided by the internets. So on what little information we have, I’m going to say, I really like Carrie’s look. The actress – at least on photographs – looks like a perfect Carrie and I can’t wait to watch this remake of the classic movie.
For any Stephen King doubters out there, Carrie is a great place to start. It’s one of King’s slimmer novels and gives you a feel for his writing without having to commit to 1000 pages of it.

What movies do you look forward to the most? Are you a Stephanie Meyer follower and eagerly awaiting the last Twilight part and The Host (not having read the latter and definitely not being a Twilight fan, I have to admit the trailer for The Host looks rather interesting)? Or is it Jack Kerouac’s On the Road you can’t wait for? Did I miss any essential movies? Let me know. Also, if you live in the US and have actually seen any of these movies, tell me how you liked them. Are they worth buying a ticket for or should I just wait for the DVD?

A New Look

As you may have noticed, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review has a new look. *does happy dance*

It’s not so much that I was bored with the old design but I felt that it lacked in readability. Reading grey on nearly-black is not exactly easy on the eyes and certain things were a bitch to format. I find this theme much easier on the eyes and the color scheme is totally up my alley. What do you think?

If you find anything that still looks weird, let me know – I’m working hard on fixing formatting mistakes and trying to make everything look as nice as possible.

The theme I am now using is called Retro-Fitted and it won me over for a lot of reasons:

  • black writing on white background
  • cool font type for headers and titles
  • quotes show up more clearly and I adore the little quotation mark on the left

See what I mean?

Isn’t that absolutely adorable?

  • This more conventional blog type shows the entire post instead of a featured image and just the first few lines. No more “click to continue reading” for you. I’m actually on the fence about that one and would appreciate some feedback. Do you guys prefer picking the posts you want to read from a list or a set of images? Or do you like this style better?
  • My pages are now on the top which is probably a matter of personal taste – but I like it
  • only one sidebar. I have a tendency to overload my blog and this will make sure I stick to the essentials
  • sample images and illustrations. Again, the white background won me over. Now pictures look so much nicer and cleaner than they used to.

All things considered, I am very happy with the new style so far. And maybe I’ll even play around with the css a little and customize it some more (if I ever get off my ass and learn how that works…).
Now I want to know what you think of the design. Let me know in the comment section below (ooh, that reminds me, I haven’t checked out what that looks like now) or send me an e-mail to .

Top Ten Tuesdays – Favorite Cover Artists and Illustrators

Anybody who has read a random handful of my reviews knows that I’m heavily influenced by cover art. I’ll buy a book with an ugly cover if the story interests me, sure. But if there’s a great cover, it’ll make me look twice and see if I like the premise. Covers are powerful and can help jump-start a reader’s imagination.

My personal preferences are simple. I like when a cover is made especially for a book or a series. I like series that have consistent covers (makes it look really nice on the shelf). Whether it’s a vague landscape or a character’s face on the cover, I don’t care. I love me some mythological creatures and I enjoy strong colors. I’m also a fan of simple designs but in order not to be boring here, I picked somer more  interesting and detailed works fo art.

Creative covers – such as Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey color-by-numbers hardback cover – should get a special honorable mention here.

I’ve included links to ever artist’s homepage (clickety-click on the name) and a few of my favorite covers by them. I don’t mention other art in this post (done for computer games etc.) but it’s well worth checking out.


(click the pictures to biggify :))

Jason Chan

He is a very recent favorite of mine but boy, did he take my heart by storm. I love the somewhat sweet and childlike art that suits YA fantasy novels and more serious adult epics alike. Some of his cardgame art is super creepy and there is some awesomely weird stuff in there. Also, he seems to have a thing for white-haired girls. Very pretty.

Favorite cover art includes: The Princess Curse, Stormdancer, So Silver Bright, Pegaus, Geist,

Trina Schart Hyman

She draws the best squiggly lines in the world. It’s romantic, it’s sweet and it’s georgeous – I love her sketches as well as full colour pictures. I fell in love with her art when I got a beautiful hardback copy of Peter Pan (I own about 20 different copies of that book…) and couldn’t take my eyes of the drawings. I love how sometimes, just a bit of the picture goes over the border, like Wendy’s toe sticking out of the frame the Trina drew around her piece. Adorable, gorgeous and very much fitting the fairy tales she illustrated. I was extremely sad when I learned, a few years ago, that she passed away. I would have loved to see a ton more books illustrated by her.

Favorite cover art includes: Peter Pan, Snow White

John Howe

Everybody knows John Howe and he’s an old favorite of mine. I love his Lord of the Rings art but the reason I appreciate him as a cover artist is Robin Hobb’s work. Every cover for her trilogy of trilogies shows characters, scenes, places from the novel. And while they’re not necessarily always the way I pictured them while reading, they are all beautiful. In this case, I’m not such a big fan of the sketches, more of the full-color art with epic scope and some interesting perspective.

Favorite cover art includes: Assassin’s Quest, Ship of Destiny, The Two Towers, The Once and Future King, Winter of the Raven

Stephan Martiniere

He is also a recent discovery of mine. There have been a few sci-fi and fantasy covers that blew me away because of their colors, their vivid detail and how the open up my imagination. I look at those books and already feel like I’m falling into a different world (which is exaclty what I want from a fantasy or sci-fi novel). The bright, strong colors catch your eye and the great scenery, futuristic buildings and stunning details keep them there. I love these covers, especially in series and trilogies because they go together so well.

Favorite cover art includes: City Without End, Multireal, the Long Price Quartet (especially The Price of Spring)

Dan Dos Santos

He does very clean Fantasy art, usually settled in the paranormal genre. Varied characters, usually bad-asses (yay!) and some nice colours to set them off. I like how much character he puts into faces. No two faces are alike and they’re not all conventional. I also love how much movement he puts into his pictures. And yet again, the colors just make me want to grab those books and stare at them for a while.

Favorite cover art includes: Green, Iron Kissed (probably the only instance in which I’m okay with a tramp stamp), Fire Season, Switchblade Goddess, Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues

Jon Foster

I adore all of the Cherie Priest covers Jon Foster did. They have a limited color scheme but are so evocative and original. And they make steampunk work entireyl without gears. I like it! The style is very oil paint-y and I love the crazy robots he comes up with.

Favorite cover art includes: Boneshaker, Dreadnought, Ganymede, In the Night Garden

Larry Rostant

He did the art for the (in my opinion) nicer editions of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling trilogy. Now this is photographic cover art, not drawing or painting but I felt that these covers deserve just as much credit and turned out as beautiful as some of the other artists’ mentioned here.

Favorite cover art includes: Glamour in Glass, Graceling, Fire, Sharps

Stephen Youll

Now this is kind of a tricky one and I debated putting him in my top ten. Because Stephen Youll has done some art that takes my breath away but he’s also done very, very cheesy art that may be traditional and all but that I don’t like at all. I still shudder at the Game of Thrones cover by him… But I do love me his dragons. They’re incredibly detailed and just the way I want dragons to look.

Favorite cover art includes: King of the Crags, Children of the Serpent Gate, Havemercy, The Winds of Dune

Steve Jones

An artist I didn’t know I liked. Lots of his cover designs have been favorites of mine – most of all the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn relaunch – but I didn’t know they were his work. So I went digging and found out that a lot more of my favorite covers were by Steven Jones.

Favorite cover art includes: Shadowplay, The Stone of Farewell (both versions), The Naked God, The Evolutionary Void

Reading Resolutions for 2012 – the second half

I realise it’s already mid-August and all but I feel the need to organise my reading life a little more. I’ve tried sticking strictly to a number of books I set myself and that didn’t work, and I’ve tried not making any plans at all and just reading whatever I felt like and that didn’t work either. So this is where the obsessively organised half of my brain meets the chaotically emotional half (that’s the half that picks books by cover, just so you know) and make a list that is not a plan, not a monthly theme but a sort of guideline: my reading resolutions for the second half of 2012.

The Killing Moon (read 19th September 2012)
The Shadowed Sun

I’m 100 pages away from the end of the Inheritance Trilogy by the same author and while I didn’t love all of the first book, the second one took my heart by storm. Number 3 (review coming soon) reads a bit chaotic but it’s nonetheless cemented my love for Miss Jemisin’s writing style. I am actually dreading the time when I’ve finished all of her published books and have to wait for something new like all the other people – one of the advantages of coming to a hyped series or author later than everybody else…


I like me some steampunk anytime and this is Victorian age steampunk in the north polar regions. I’ve been looking for a copy in French but either the internet has failed me completely or this book has only been published in translation. That is a sad thing for my language skills (I could have used a big novel in French again) but I won’t be picky. Plus, the cover is brilliant and reminds me a little of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.


A young girl gets sent off to an island because pink marks have appeared on her skin. Moloka’i is where the lepers are sent to be kept away from the rest of the people. I have been told this book requires a large box of tissues. I like when books make me feel strongly enough about characters to make me cry but I also find the setting appealing. Vienna is beautiful and all, but I can’t help but wish for more exotic places sometimes, with a burning sun, sandy beaches and palm trees. We’ll see if this book delivers all things promised.

BRANDON SANDERSON – THE MISTBORN TRILOGY (plus that fourth one, there)

I’ve been listening to Sanderson’s podcast for ages and I really like him and everything he has to say about writing. Also, his books (except maybe Elantris) have gotten nothing but praise and I finally want to know what it’s all about. The premise of Mistborn sounds intriguing and people say it’s got one of the most original magic systems ever. Also, compared to some of the other unread series I have standing here, this is a small one. (still haven’t read a single Wheel of Time book…)


It was McSweeney’s that drew my attention to the book, stating that it’s okay how the title spoils the book (Skippy does die, after all). I have trusted McSweeney’s recommendations for years and Dave Eggers hasn’t disappointed me yet. The other reason I’m so eager to read this is the Kirkus review of this book. They said this irrisistible thing about the book:

If Harry Potter lived in an alternate Ireland, had no real magical powers but talked a good game, and fell all over himself every time he saw a girl, he might well belong in this splendid, sardonic magnum opus.

DODIE SMITH – I CAPTURE THE CASTLE (read 12th September 2012)

I actually switched off the movie half an hour into the story because it was so good and so up my alley that I had to read the book first. Two sisters, the less pretty one telling their story, falling in love with two men while living in a castle and their dad being a writer who doesn’t write. Plus, it’s being recommended from everyone who’s ever read it and Vintage put a really pretty cover on it. (You see, the emotional half of my brain clearly has more to say in this post that the other one)


  • Finish The Dark Tower series (3 books to go, 4 if you count the new one)
  • Read 2 books in French
  • Read a few classics
  • Read 1 book in Spanish (already got a reading group set on Zafón’s Príncipe de la Niebla)
  • Read more Terry Pratchett
  • Read something by China Miéville
  • Read one book in Swedish

So what are your resolutions? Do you have any or do you go with whatever book you feel like? If you have any recommendations for my French/Spanish books, I’d be extremely welcome. My French is good enough to understand literary fiction and classics (if it’s not too difficult), my Spanish is still limited to YA and children’s books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Summer Reads

Summer is here. While I’m still enjoying the questionable pleasure of air conditioning altered with a burning sun, I am already thinking about my summer reads for this year’s holiday. Over the years I have come to re-read certain books in summer, either because I find them appropriate and they get me in that relaxing-on-the-beach mood or because they’re big, chunky books that will keep you entertained for your entire holiday.


10. Frank Herbert – Dune

I’ve only read two-and-a-half books of this series and I’m not sure yet whether I absolutely love it or think it only meh. But: The setting of the desert planet really goes well with a holiday on sandy beaches. It makes the necessity of water and the brutality of the environment all the more tangible. I’ve read the first few books safe and sound inside my apartment with water within easy reach. But I think I might just tackle the rest of the series this summer when I get to laze around on a sandy beach which will be, I’m told, completely free of makers.

9. J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter

Whether it’s your first time around or another of many re-reads, Harry Potter is the prefect companion for a summer holiday. With the seven books you’ve got enough pages to keep you entertained for a few weeks and if you know them already (who doesn’t, really?) you know you’ll get fun, suspense, magic and the Weasley twins. I recommend these in e-book format as you probably won’t want to carry 7 large books around. I’m re-reading the entire series at the moment and I can’t wait to race through them on the beach.

8. Jasper Fforde – The Thursday Next series

Following literary detective Thursday Next into well-known works of fiction is a pleasure that I can’t describe. Meet Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester behind the curtain and drive a crazy car with Miss Havisham, who turns out to be quite the daredevil (and strangely fond of bodice rippers). Fforde created his own universe, peopled with known fictional characters as well as his very own inventions. Each book in this series is distilled fun. Once you’ve started, you won’t want to stop. The first four books have one larger story arc, so if you don’t want to read all of them at once (there are currently six volumes with number seven coming very soon), just take those four. They are divine.

7. George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire

When I first discovered these books, it was, appropriately enough, winter. However, A Clash of Kings took me a while and so I ended up reading books two and both halves of book three (I got the split paperback copies) in the height of summer. Once you find a book that draws you in enough and has a lot of pages, you really can’t go wrong. I only had three volumes at my disposal at the time but I think for those of you who have only come to know George R.R. Martin through the HBO show, these books are perfect for your summer reading list.

6. James M. Barrie – Peter Pan

I’m recommending this everywhere because too few people have read the original. And the Disney version just doesn’t do it right. Peter Pan is a tragic figure, Neverland a truly amazing place and when the Lost Boys hunt for pirates, who in turn hunt for Indians, who in turn hunt for the Lost Boys, you can feal the heat of the jungle and the smile of Neverland’s sun on your back. You should read this book regardless of the season, but I think it’s a lot more fun during summer – it makes the island of Neverland come to life more easily and you almost believe you just might catch sight of a mermaid at whatever beach you’re reading this…

5. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees

A coming-of-age-story in the southern United States set in 1964. Blacks have just been granted the right to vote but the protagonist is more interested in finding out about her dead mother and running away from her violent father. She finds herself helping a family of beekeeping black sisters, discovering who her mother was, and growing up in the sweltering heat of summer. I loved this book to pieces and I’m glad I first read it in the heat of summer. The atmosphere was tangible and made the book all the more believable because I read it in sweltering heat as well.

4. Diana Gabaldon – Outlander

While Claire’s story is set in Scotland and the weather in the book is usually not too warm, the size and scope of the novel makes a great summer read. If you want 800 pages of thrill and fun and romance and action (and, I might add, men in kilts speaking with Scottish accents) then this is for you. I’m not a romance reader but this book captivated me. And if you’ve got a lot of holiday time, there’s a lot more coming after book one…

3. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice

Acutally, insert any of Jane Austen’s books here. Maybe it’s because I read my first Austen on a holiday in Spain that I think they make for perfect summer reads. Feared as classics sometimes are, these are very light reads and most auf Jane Austen’s books are pure fun and enjoyment. They also happen to be one of the very few kinds of romance I like reading. Most recommended: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensitility, Mansfield Park

2. Ian McEwan – Atonement

This book took me by surprise. It really is as good as everybody says! While I didn’t like the movie, I remember the intense atmosphere of that steamy summer day that McEwan created. If you read this in stifling weather, you’ll understand Briony all the more. Other than its perfect setting, this is some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read and tells a compelling story with an unexpected twist. The ending left me crying (I forgot to mention this in my tearjerker list) and craving more Ian McEwan books.

1. Alex Garland – The Beach

Don’t judge this book by its movie. And don’t kill me because of putting a cliché title at the top of my list. The Beach is a lot more than just Leo discovering a remote island with two French friends. It is about Vietnam and Tetris, about really making a community work and how intricate human relationships can be. It’s also very different from the movie as the plot goes. I was surprised myself at how gripping I find this book – after about 4 re-reads I still look forward to diving back into it this summer. I can not recommend it highly enough and I don’t know anybody (who I forced to read it) who didn’t end up liking it as well.

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Heroes

I probably should have done my favorite fairy tales to go with the theme of the month but, honestly, I’m already getting sick of fairy tales retold. So my favorite heroes won and shall be listed below. What makes a great hero for me is not necessarily an epic storyline and a shining, pure character. Some “heroes” I just love because they’re first class dicks. And others may not have done any great deeds, never slain a dragon nor held a gun, but they’re all heroes in my eyes because the authors made me care about them. There’ll be an extra Top Ten Tuesday for my favorite heroines, never you worry.


10. Zaphod Beeblebrox

I can’t even say why, but I immediately developed a crush on the president of the universe when I first read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur Dent is all nice and grounded but Zaphod has just the right amount of insanity and humor to take me to my happy place. I also quite liked him in the original radio plays and will always hear the description of a pan-galactic gargle blaster in his voice.

9. Howard Roarke

Ayn Rand’s philosophy may be extreme and not exactly up my alley, but she does write compelling characters. Roarke is this utterly unbreakable person who exudes strength and talent. That is something to look up to. Oh, and the sexier scenes in The Fountainhead were also quite nice.


8. Simon Brenner

The Austrian detective Brenner is a cynical, sometimes confused and yet awesome hero. Wolf Haas’ books are funny and suspenseful at the same time, all while capturing that Austrian spirit and making his novels sound like somebody is telling them to you over the table at your local bar. I’ve read all seven Brenner-novels with huge enjoyment. And I don’t even like crime fiction…

7. Heathcliff

I know, I know. Wuthering Heights is not fantasy or science fiction, but come on! Heathcliff is getting a lot of shit for turning into a major asshole. But I’ve always preferred the first half of the novel to the second and cared more about Heathcliff than any other chracter. My love for tragic storylines and heroes who get bashed left, right, and center may have something to do with it, but I am definitely pro Heathcliff. Oh, and I also love the version of him in Jasper Ffordes Thursday Next books.

6. Owen Meany

Rarely have I been touched by a character as much as I have by Owen Meany. John Irving’s protagonist, Johnny Wheelwright, left me strangely uncaring but Owen… oh, Owen has stolen my heart and played basketball with it. I still feel a sad tug at my heart whenever I think of the novel. And since the moment I finished reading it, I wanted to pick it back up and start all over, just to get a little more time with Owen.

5. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy

I first read Pride and Prejudice when i was 18 and it opened a whole new world to me. I have since turned into a Jane Austen addict and while it’s a close call between him and Mr. Knightley, Mr. Darcy will always be on a sort of pedestal. Anyone who hasn’t made it to that letter in the middle of the book should start over and read it. I can imagine that the 19th century would have been a lot more bearable for women with men like Darcy around.

4. Ender Wiggin

Not only did Ender’s Game blow my mind but it’s sequel, Speaker for the Dead, was equally as good. Ender as a character felt very strong to me and at the same time I kept feeling the urge to hug him, especially when he was still a kid. Apart from being a child genius, it is his strength and character growth that appeal to me. I just want Ender to be happy. How’s that for caring about fictional characters?

3. Harry Potter

I grew up with him, what more can I say. He was a great protagonist at first and is now an iconic figure for my whole generation. True, without Ron and Hermione, Harry wouldn’t have made it for very long but it is the dynamic of their friendship as much as Harry’s personality itself, that drew me into these stories. I am re-reading the whole series right now and it’s fascinating that I find wonderful things in them, no matter what age I am.

2. FitzChivalry Farseer

I keep mentioning these books everywhere. In my favorite tearjerkers, my favorite cover art, my favorite fantasy series. Well, I do that for a reason. Because Robin Hobb managed to hit top marks on all the things that are important to me in a great book. Fitz starts out as a little boy without even a name and turns royal assassin, user of magic, and almost by accident, savior of the Six Duchies. His character development is stunning and while he is a tragic hero, I rejoice for every moment of happiness he gets.

1. Tyrion Lannister

Do I really have to say anything to qualify this choice? Didn’t think so.

The 2011 Nebula Awards

I’m writing this post two days before the announcement of the Nebula Award winner for 2011. Having read only two out of the five nominated books, I don’t feel that I can fairly pick a winner. But Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique was such an overwhelming surprise (and Jo Walton’s Among Others the saddest kind of disappointment) that I am naturally biased.

The shortlist for best novel:

  • Jo Walton – Among Others
  • Genevieve Valentine – Mechanique
  • Kameron Hurley – God’s War
  • Jack McDevitt – Firebird
  • China Miéville – Embassytown
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Kingdom of Gods

The shortlist for best YA novel:

  • Nnedi Okorafor – Akata Witch
  • Franny Billingsley – Chime
  • Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • Greg van Eekhout – The Boy at the End of the World
  • Delia Sherman – The Freedom Maze
  • Rae Carson – The Girl of Fire and Thorns
  • R.J. Anderson – Ultraviolet

Truth is, I found Valentine’s novel so beautiful that all my fingers are crossed for her. I do suspect, however, that Jo Walton is going to make the race. Review of Among Others have been positive throughout. Except for my own opinion, I haven’t found a single reviewer as disappointed with the “fantasy element” in the novel as I was.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about China Miéville and I’m ashamed that I still haven’t read a single of his books. The Kingdom of Gods is the third instalment in Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, of which I’ve only read the first which I found both pleasantly refreshing and flawed (as a debut is prone to be). I do agree that Jemisin deserves some recognition though. So what’s left to say? I’m super curious about the winner but I intend to read all of them. (Haven’t uncrossed those fingers for Miss Valentine, though)

Oh well, we’ll all know in a couple of days, right?


So the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announced the winners. And my prediction for best novel was correct (and I’m very sad to say that).

  • Novel: Jo Walton – Among Others
  • Novella: Klj Johnson – The Man Who Bridged the Mist
  • Novelette: Geoff Ryman – What We Found
  • Short Story: Ken Liu – The Paper Menagerie
  • Young Adult Novel: Delia Sherman – The Freedom Maze
    (Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book)

I don’t want to sound like I didn’t want Jo Walton to win this award. She writes beautifully, but I just don’t see how this particular novel qualfies as Science Fiction or Fantasy at all. Yes, the protagonist can see fairies and work some magic – even though we’re never truly told how or even if it works – but the story would have worked just as well (even better, in my opinion) without the fairies as a simple coming-of-age story at a boarding school. The fact that Mor reads a lot of science fiction books does not make this a science fiction novel. That’s just my two cents, of course, and reviews all over the internets have shown that I’m in the minority, here. I’m just sad that other writers, whose work clearly is SFF did not get awarded the Nebula this year.

I haven’t talked about the YA novels at all, simply because due to some very bad choices, I’ve steered clear of the genre for a while. But The Freedom Maze sounds wonderful (as do a lot of the other shortlisted books) and I may even make it a monthly theme to read all of them.

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Tearjerkers

I’m starting to get bored with only reviewing books. And because there is so much to talk about as a bookie, I stole this idea from some Youtube book-bloggers. Every first Tuesday of the month, there’s going to be a Top 10 list of something or another. Since this blog is still pretty new  and belongs to me (me! me! me!), I’m deciding on the theme of this month’s list but once I’ve got a number of subscribers, I’m going to make it open to vote.

Also, what are your favorite books that make you cry without fail, every time you read them? Comment below if you agree with me or if I’ve missed a super tearjerker that I should read.

My first Top Ten Tuesday is on (drumroll)


10. David Benioff – City of Thieves

Benioff’s name may ring a bell. He’s one of the writers on the Game of Thrones TV show and also wrote (book and screenplay) The 25th Hour, an amazing Edward Norton movie that you should go and watch right now. This novel of his is a very quick read that balances humor and sadness perfectly. Le0 and Kolya are incredibly lovable protagonists and war-ridden Russia is the perfect place for a tragic story to happen. David Benioff stole my heart with his story only to end up breaking it.

9. Christopher Moore – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Chris Moore is a funny writer so you wouldn’t expect to find him on a list like this. But this book is the story of Jesus – or Josh, as he is called here – and we all know how that ends, so some sadness is pre-programmed. Not being religious myself, I’ve never been touched by the story, or death, of Jesus. But Chris Moore managed to make me care for him as a character so much that his inevitable crucifixion tickled more than one tear out of me. Other than that: a hilarious read that I would recommend to any person of any creed.

8. John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany

If you start reading this book, you figure out pretty soon how it is likely going to end. Hell, Owen himself keeps telling you, unfailingly, throughout the novel. And while you can’t be sure until the very end (and I wasn’t), no matter how it ends, this book will leave you sad. Either because a very sad event happens in the story, or (I’m not telling!) simply because once you’re done with the book, there’s no more Owen Meany. He is one of the single most memorable characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about and I hold him as dear to my heart as I would a friend.

7. Diana Gabaldon – Outlander/Cross Stitch

I don’t normally read romance novels but the time travel element made me pick this one up. It may be explained by my inexperience in this genre but I absolutely loved every second of it. There were scenes in this story – rather on the dramatic side – that made my heart stop for a moment. Some were so utterly sweet I wasn’t sure if I should put on my silly grin or roll my eyes. I usually ended up grinning. Which made it all the worse when something bad happened to the characters I’d grown to care about so much. Yes, definitely a bunch of moments that made me cry.

6. John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men

I started reading this book on the train and by the end of the first chapter I knew I was going to bawl my eyes out. Steinbeck sets this story up so you know it can only end one of two ways. And either way will make you cry. So like a good polite little girl, I put the book back in my bag, waited patiently for my train to take me home, and read the rest in my room. Good choice because I did end up crying like a baby. The fact that Steinbeck managed to make me care so much for his characters on so few pages immediately made him jump into the list of my favorite authors. That’s some powerful writing.

5. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

You pick up a book about World War II, you kind of expect it to be sad at some points. Even if the story’s hero makes it out alive, war always takes its toll. Now, Zusak makes his narrator (Death) cheat a little and tell us way ahead who is going to die. Knowing it was coming but not knowing when or how made it almost worse for me. It definitely didn’t prepare me and I was sobbing long after finishing the story. If you make your readers love your characters so much, you can’t be brutal like that, Mr. Zusak. This is a beautiful and unique book and as characters go, dead or alive, I will always love them.

4. Robin Hobb – The Liveship Traders

Robin Hobb must write with a magical pen that pours emotion into her stories. While I have managed to get through some of her books unscathed, at least one in each trilogy (of trilogies) has managed to make me cry as if my puppy had died. In this case, it was the ending of the second book – The Mad Ship – that had one particular scene that left me sobbing like a baby.

3. George R.R. Martin – A Storm of Swords

As gripping as the Song of Ice and Fire series may be, even when people get killed (and they get killed a LOT) I didn’t usually get emotional enough to actually cry. However, in the third instalment, so much happens and so much goes to shit. I didn’t know where to stop crying. The POV characters may all have their own problems and their own story lines going on but in this book, everything seemed to culminate. It is, to date, the most amazing fantasy book I’ve read and I beg you not to make me pick out any one scene that made me cry. There’s at least one for each character. Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister (rawr), Tyrion, Sansa, Dany, and even a bunch of side characters. That said, this was also the most enjoyable (as fun goes) in the series so far.

2. Stephen King – The Green Mile

Having seen the movie prior to reading the book should have prepared me. Yes, I also cried during the movie, but boy did Stephen King hit me right where it hurts. No spoilers, don’t worry, but if you read a story about death row, you kind of know what’s coming. It is his incredible ability to make me empathise with his characters, however, that makes it so unbearably sad. I remember not being able to continue reading because my eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t make out the letters on the page anymore. And King does this to me a lot, in The Green Mile it was just worst because… well it is a story about death row.

1. Robin Hobb – The Farseer Trilogy

It’s not just that Fitz, the first person narrator, bonds with animals and bad things happen – making somebody cry because a puppy is hurt or taken away from you is not a huge accomplishment – but it’s the sheer drama Robin Hobb puts her characters through. Watching Fitz get beaten and shunned and misunderstood and still get up every single time made me more than well up. I shed quite a number of tears reading these books. Even re-reads didn’t make me immune which is further proof of Hobb’s incredible talent and craft.