BTS World Tour: Love Yourself - Berlin, 10.17.18

Freitag, 19. Oktober 2018


I've been a fan of K-pop for years now, thanks to Girl's Generation and SHINee (my forever bias among all Idols is Taemin, just saying). Right around the time when Blood, Sweat & Tears came out in 2016 I noticed everyone talking about the video and BTS in general. I didn't really pay attention to it at first, but at some point I wanted to know why everyone was so obsessed.

And that's when everything was over--or began, depending on who you ask.

For those of you who might not know them, BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan/Bangtan Boys/Beyond the Stage) is a K-pop band made up of seven members, as you can see from the above picture, called J-Hope, V, RM, Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, and Suga. Since 2013 they've slowly but steadily taken over the world. They are the currently biggest boyband in the world, are on the TIME magazine cover as 'Next Generation Leaders' and have spoken before the UN as UNICEF Ambassadors. Not bad, right? 
Jimin during the introduction.
They are known for their sharp choreographies, lyrics dealing with real life issues that are rather uncommon in K-pop (for example depression), and their music incorporates several different styles, especially since four members are singers and three rappers which gives them a lot of space to play with. Fun fact: they are involved in the production of their songs and also in the lyrics, another rather uncommon thing in the K-pop industry.

So, when I heard that BTS were coming to Europe, and Berlin specifically, I knew this was my chance to finally see them on stage. I mean, how often do K-pop bands come to Europe, right? ...But then I saw the ticket prices and I felt discouraged. What kind of price? The cheapest tickets were 75€. And there was also the fact of both Berlin concerts selling out in nine minutes or less, which didn't help much either since it basically gave me no time to think about it.

J-Hope during one of the first songs.
I accepted my fate of having to rely on concert recordings on YouTube and fancams and livestreams that would happen during the concerts, which isn't too bad either, you know? Not as awesome, but better than nothing. But, because I am surrounded by the best people in the world (and have fast internet on my phone) I was lucky enough to buy a ticket (one of the two cheapest options) on the day of the second Berlin concert when last minute ones were put up on eventim. THANK YOU.

Hours later I arrived at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin with half an hour until the concert started. Luckily, as someone with a seated ticket, I didn't have to wait in line with everyone else, but could basically walk in immediately. I had no idea where exactly my seat was (since you couldn't choose) but turns out I got an amazing spot with a great view and no one directly in front of me. Perfect! Unlike during European or American artist's concerts, there was no opener, instead different BTS music videos were playing on the giant screens off to the right and left of the stage, until the arena suddenly went dark and the screaming turned basically deafening once the guys stepped on stage.
Jungkook during the introduction.

Just before the concert started an announcement was made that Jungkook was still dealing with his heel injury and thus had to sit out all the choreographies. I'm pretty sure everyone in the arena would agree with me when I say that I prefer him sitting on his stool, or just walking around, than pushing himself and only getting himself more injured. It was lovely to see though how the guys still incorporated him into everything, danced around him or stood next to him, so he wouldn't feel left out or even worse than he already was (he mentioned feeling embarrassed and guilty for letting ARMY (the name of their fans) down). 

To my surprise the setlist was different than the one for the previous day (which I only knew because of the aforementioned fancams) but nonetheless it was jam-packed with hits and lesser known songs, fast party tracks but also slow ballades, a perfect mix for the fans and the band themselves. The choreographies in their videos? Yeah they do those live as well and it's even more amazing and mind blowing. Especially when you consider the fact that they're on stage for 2.5h(!) and as former dancer I know how hard it is to just dance for that long, let alone dance and sing at the same time.

Jin during his solo song.
The structure of the concert was made up of a few opener songs, followed by an introduction (which included the band members attempting to greet the arena in German), group songs but also sections where each of the members performed a solo song (V's Singularity was my favorite from all the solos simply because of the sensuality of the song itself but also V's voice and way of performing it, simply gets me every time), and then finished off by the singers doing a song (The Truth Untold is one of my absolute favorite BTS songs ever) and then the rappers, before coming together for a 'final' song. They leave the stage and then come back for the encore dressed in jeans and casual black shirts goofing around, filming each other with a GoPro on a selfie stick, and having fun. At some point they all say a few words, thank the audience for coming, some doing it in English and others in Korean with a translator coming over the speakers. It's interesting how it's not just them saying a sentence and then letting the next person talk, but it's usually like a minute or two per member with each saying something different, relating it to themselves or the audience, the city they're at, or something that's on their mind. 

RM during his solo.
You know how Beyonce frequently changes her outfits throughout her concerts? BTS do that as well. The different group sections have different outfits, and all the solo performances, the stage and props are changing as well. All their outfits are amazing and harmonize with each other, be it gorgeous black and gold suits, all white, bedazzled shirts, or all black with leather harnesses. A funny moment was during RM's solo performance. He forgot to close his belt, which I at first thought was a planned move, but no, it was a honest mistake. OOPS. My favorite outfit, besides the one for the opening (the one you saw on the first picture of Jimin), was Jimin's (is it too obvious that he's somehow turned into my bias?) bedazzled shirt and loose red 'bow'. It's so pretty and sparkly! Unfortunately my picture doesn't do it any justice (I'm sorry). 

Jimin.
And then, before I knew what was going on, the concert was over. Never had 2.5h passed so quickly, but wow, some of the best hours I've ever had at a concert. It was completely different than any other concert I've been at before, the crowd louder than I imagined possible (at some point I saw a staff member close to me with a device that measured how many decibel it was, around 110 as far as I saw at one point), the space illuminated by so called ARMY Bombs (basically glowing snow globes on sticks synchronized via bluetooth and an app) creating different patters or, at some point, even the German flag. There were people of different ages, genders, heights, skin colors, and walks of life present, all brought together by their love for BTS, their music, and K-pop in general. A night they would never forget, many later said on twitter, the best one of their entire life, an experience they would still talk about during the weeks, months, and even years to come.
BTS backstage after the concert with the signs BTS ARMY Germany made.
A final thought: I love BTS, and I love the concert, BUT personally I think the ticket prices were a bit much considering
they have a young audience (and I don't mean just teen girls as the German press tried their very hardest to make it seem, many people in the crowd were early or mid twenties, something I count as relatively young as well) who might not have that much money because they still go to school, university, or don't have the best paying jobs in the world (which isn't to say that some of course can easily afford it, but you get the point), so paying 200€+ for GA (general admission) is a bit...much. Also, the merch prices? 50€ for a shirt? In comparison, my Placebo shirt was 20€ at the same venue a year prior. Then again, I get it, they're a huge act right now, come with a giant stage with different features, screens, backup dancers, a big wardrobe, all things that need to be paid for and I can't imagine any of the shipping and transportation costs being small, yet when you play two sold out shows to a combined 34.000 people, I'm sure tickets for half the price, or even just the merch, would do the job just fine as well.

Of course BTS themselves don't make any of these decisions, the management and organizers do, so I'm not saying this as 'hate', but rather as salty/sad fan who simply couldn't afford both tickets and merch. 


Overall, as you might've deduced from this post, I had an amazing time at the concert and loved every minute of it, spent the entire rest of the evening, and the following day, telling everyone about it and how great it was. BTS are amazing performers and entertainers, and what I got was definitely worth my money. It was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by an ocean of smiling happy faces of ARMYs singing along and just having the time of their lives. Lyrics in Korean? Easy! Fanchants? Even easier! Do I hope that BTS will return in the coming years (especially since they've just announced that they've extended their contracts by 7 years)? YES!

And that's it! Thank you so much for reading! In the comments, tell me if you like BTS, if you've ever been to any of their concerts or if you'd want to go?

Blog Tour: Interview with Lucia DiStefano

Montag, 10. September 2018

Borrowed by Lucia DiStefano
Expected Publication: November 1st 2018 by Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.
Number of Pages: 264 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

  Love, mystery, and danger collide in this new literary thriller with the dark heart of a Gillian Flynn novel and the lyrical prose of Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun.
   An triumph of authenticity, grace, and nail-biting suspense, Lucia DiStefano's ingenious debut is an unflinching, genre-bending page-turner.
   As seventeen-year-old Linnea celebrates the first anniversary of her heart transplant, she can't escape the feeling that the wires have been crossed. After a series of unsettling dreams, inked messages mysteriously appear on her body, and she starts to wonder if this new heart belongs to her at all.
   In another Austin neighborhood, Maxine braces for a heartbreaking anniversary: her sister Harper's death. Between raising her brothers and parenting her grief-stricken mother, Max is unable to ignore her guilty crush on Harper's old flame or shake her lingering suspicion that her sister's drowning wasn't really an accident. With Harper as the sole connection, Linnea and Maxine are soon brought together in fantastic and terrifying ways as the shocking truth behind Harper's death comes to light. (goodreads.com)

   Today I'm really excited to bring you an interview I did with Lucia about Borrowed. Honestly, I loved this book (find my review here) and was really excited when I got to exchange a few emails with her and also do this interview. I'm always curious to find out more about the authors behind the books I enjoy, so I hope you'll enjoy this one as much as I did. Thank you also to Elephant Book for this opportunity and to Lucia for taking the time to answer my questions!

Interview with Lucia DiStefano

   1 – Describe Borrowed with a haiku (or twitter pitch).
   The heart she carries
   --not the heart she was born with--
   will carry her home

   2 – What sparked the idea for Borrowed?
   I've always been fascinated by the topic of personal identity and how malleable it may or may not be. When I heard about the phenomenon of cellular memory in heart transplant patients (how aspects of the donor's personality might make it into the recipient's psyche), I knew I wanted to work it into a story somehow.

   3 – What was the most challenging about writing this story and which scene was the most fun to write?
   The most fun was definitely the scene between Linnea and Daniel in the bakery. I loved how Linnea was both nervous and bold, and I loved how sweet Daniel was toward her (pun intended...there were cupcakes involved, after all). The most challenging was the cabin scene in the third act. I realize there are technically several scenes that take place in a cabin, but the one that was the hardest to write will always be "the" cabin scene to me.

   4 – What do you like most and least about your main characters, Linnea and Maxine?
   Linnea: I like her perseverance most, and how she doesn't let her medical history define her future. I think at times she can be self-absorbed, though (I can say the same about myself!), so I think that's what I like least.
   Maxine: What jumps out at me most about Max, and what I like best, is how fiercely she loves her family, and how responsibly she cares for her little brothers. What I like least is that she has a tendency to be less than forthcoming, and one of the secrets she kept before her sister's death comes back to haunt her afterwards.

   5 – In retrospective, is there anything that you’d change about the story or are you happy with the way it turned out in the end?
   As happy as I was to type "the end," I tend to be one of those perpetual revisers. I would love nothing more than an opportunity to revise annually (ha...I know publishing doesn't work that way). With that said, though, I am happy with the final product. I worked hard, and Jotham, my amazing editor, worked hard, and he prepared me for the time when we'd have to stop massaging the manuscript. So if I did have the chance to keep reworking, I think it would be small stuff. Sometimes a phrase or a detail will pop into my head and I'll think, "Dang, I wish I had included that in the novel!"

   6 – How much research did you have to do to write the story both in terms of all the wonderful sweet pastries mentioned throughout the story, but also about heart transplantation and cellular memory? Was it important to you to stay true to reality, or did you focus more on using it in a creative manner to tell this certain type of story?
   Because I wanted the look at cellular memory to be more "what if?" than hard science, I tried not to get bogged down in too much research. There is much anecdotal evidence of cellular memory, especially with heart transplant patients, but because it's difficult or impossible to confirm it or explain it within the current bounds of science, it's still hanging out in that nebulous gray area. So I started with the germ of cellular memory, but I used creative license (and suspension of disbelief) to think of a scenario even more dramatic than any I'd read about.
   Oh, and the sweets: I love to bake. And eat. So that part was pure, self-indulgent fun!

   7 - What are some of your favorite books?
   Ah, my favorite question, and yet one of the hardest to answer (unless I can stay here all week!). Because it feels impossible to narrow the list of my fave novels enough to respond succinctly, I'll instead limit my choices to books on the creative life. My favorites in that category: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

   8 – Do you have a writing routine or do you write whenever creativity strikes?
   My day job is ghostwriter, so I'm always writing in some fashion (and I certainly can't wait for the muse to arrive before working on projects for my clients). I try to work on my own personal projects first thing in the morning, before I turn my attention to the work-for-hire assignments.

   9 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
   Approach writing with the mindset of 'play,' and you just may surprise yourself (and you'll likely have much more fun, too).

   10 – If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
   Ah... bionic hearing. Think of all the quirky snippets of dialogue I'd pick up that way!

Pre-order

Check out the rest of the blog tour for Borrowed:
August 1: Cover reveal at YA Interrobang
September 4: Review at Alice Reeds
September 10: Author interview at Alice Reeds
September 24: Cover reveal at BubblersRead
October 15: Review at BubblersRead
October 21: Author interview at YA Outside the Lines
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
And more to come!

Review: Borrowed by Lucia DiStefano

Dienstag, 4. September 2018

Borrowed by Lucia DiStefano
Expected Publication: November 1st 2018 by Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.
Number of Pages: 264 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

  Love, mystery, and danger collide in this new literary thriller with the dark heart of a Gillian Flynn novel and the lyrical prose of Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun.
   An triumph of authenticity, grace, and nail-biting suspense, Lucia DiStefano's ingenious debut is an unflinching, genre-bending page-turner.
   As seventeen-year-old Linnea celebrates the first anniversary of her heart transplant, she can't escape the feeling that the wires have been crossed. After a series of unsettling dreams, inked messages mysteriously appear on her body, and she starts to wonder if this new heart belongs to her at all.
   In another Austin neighborhood, Maxine braces for a heartbreaking anniversary: her sister Harper's death. Between raising her brothers and parenting her grief-stricken mother, Max is unable to ignore her guilty crush on Harper's old flame or shake her lingering suspicion that her sister's drowning wasn't really an accident. With Harper as the sole connection, Linnea and Maxine are soon brought together in fantastic and terrifying ways as the shocking truth behind Harper's death comes to light. (goodreads.com)

* Thank you to Elephant Rock Books for providing me with an 
eARC in exchange for my honest review *

   Borrowed was nothing like what I expected it to be, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is a tale of grief, life, bodily autonomy, toxic masculinity, and survival told through the eyes of fascinating protagonists in a story filled with thrill and plot twists.

   The story starts out innocent enough with a feeling of coming-of-age and a look into the lives of two girls one year after one lost her sister and the other got a second chance thanks to a heart transplant. But, soon the story begins to twist and turn, accompanied by a writing style that will capture you and won't let you go until you're done. I had a couple of guesses along the way for what would happen next or who did it, but I never got it quite right and there were many things I didn't see coming, which I always appreciate.

   Linnea and Max were great protagonists and I loved getting to know them better, see Max trying her best to keep her family alive, take care of her younger brothers and her mother, and Linnea wishing to become a proper pastry chef and go to school for it. Both had distinct voices, making it easy to differentiate between their chapters even if you forgot which name was at beginning, and sounded their age.
   Ezra, Daniel, and Chris were also very different and played varyingly big roles in the story leaving me wishing we could've gotten to know some more than others. Some were the types of guys you'd want to date, or see your sister date, and others the very type you'd never want to come across even in your worst nightmares. But, that's the reality of things, men like the monster in this story exist and they are even more horrifying in reality than a story can make them seem.

   I've read Borrowed in less than two days and I've absolutely loved it. Lucia's writing style and way with words was captivating and enchanting, simple at times yet more than enough overall without giving you multi-paragraph descriptions or on the nose explanations, instead making you see what's between the lines and putting the pieces together right along with the characters. The story also taught me something I didn't know before about heart transplantation and cellular memory, which was both incredibly interesting and creepy. 
   I'm really happy I got to read this book early and spread the word about it because it's amazing and I recommend it to everyone, though there are a few trigger warnings that probably should get mentioned for violence, and especially violence against women (psychological as well as physical), so if you're sensitive to that, please be careful or come back to it at a different time.
I give Borrowed by Lucia DiStefano 5 out of 5 stars.

Pre-order

Check out the rest of the blog tour for Borrowed:
August 1: Cover reveal at YA Interrobang
September 4: Review at Alice Reeds
September 10: Author interview at Alice Reeds
September 24: Cover reveal at BubblersRead
October 15: Review at BubblersRead
October 21: Author interview at YA Outside the Lines
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
And more to come!

ECHOES IS OUT NOW

Dienstag, 7. August 2018

   On March 21st 2017 I announced that I signed with Entangled Teen and after more than a year of rewriting, outlining, brainstorming, and waiting, the day has finally come! My YA mystery Thriller, Echoes, is finally out today and you can get it online or in stores (if you're in the US or Berlin, Germany). All the links will me at the bottom of this post.

   For a very long time I've dreamed of seeing this very story on shelves and being read by people, receiving positive reviews and just pulling readers into its spell. I'm so happy I didn't shelf this manuscript and instead gave it another chance and that it's finally here. It took over 3 years, but it was more than worth all the hours of 'lost' sleep, anxiety, nerves, and creative elation. 

   Yesterday I actually went to Dussmann / The English Bookshop in Berlin, Germany, to sign the copies of Echoes they had in stock. It was a surreal experience that I can barely put into words properly. Seeing something you worked so hard on in a bookstore just waiting for someone to pick it up and buy it, it's amazing and mind blowing. I couldn't stop smiling while I signed book after book, though I was also worrying that I might spell my name wrong or my signature might turn out ugly haha. 

   This entire experience was simultaneously everything I wanted it to be, so exciting and fun, but also extremely scary and downright terrifying. Launching a book, waiting for the release day to come, it's something I still can't properly put into words. My feelings were torn, all over the place, a wild cocktail of simultaneously wanting for the day to just finally be there while also hoping to have just a little more time, to prepare some more. But then, the day is finally here, and it feels like I signed the contract just yesterday.

   But, at the end of the day, this book wouldn't be a book without a number of people helping me along the way and making this dream a reality, and this experience so much fun despite also being endlessly terrifying, so I think it would only be appropriate if I'd say thank you:

   Thank you to my brilliant team at Entangled Teen. Everyone did an amazing job at answering all my questions (no matter how silly or long my emails), setting up interviews and guest posts, blog tours and getting ARCs into people's hands. THANK YOU for everything you've done for me and I can't tell you just how happy I am that I got to work with all of you.

   I couldn't have done this without my mom and her endless support in form of words of encouragements, an infinite supply of coffee, brainstorming with me, or just letting me talk at her until I found whatever solution I was looking for. I love you so much!

   A big thank you also goes to my CP, Mia, for her marvelous feedback and help while I was trying to get Echoes up to speed, for all her encouragements and DMs. Thank you for being a wonderful friend and making me feel like I can do it even when I wasn't so sure. The same also goes to you, Judi. You're amazing and a kickass friend and mentor. Thank you for being there for me.

   And finally, my friends (y'all know who you are you amazing beings) who didn't give up on me despite how much time I spent writing and working instead of answering texts or getting with them. Y'all are amazing and I am grateful for everything you've done for me. Cheers to more years of friendship!

   They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.

   Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.

   Something that won't let them leave alive.

Add on GoodReads

Amazon (US / UK / CAN / AUS / DE) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository



Mini Reviews #1

Mittwoch, 13. Juni 2018

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Published: May 15th 2018 by HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 432 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
   Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
   Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . . (goodreads.com)

   This story was wild, there is no other way to put it. It was also highly addictive. I was certainly intrigued by the premise of four teens befriending their favorite author (I mean that's kind of the dream, isn't it?) and things turning out not quite how they expected or hoped it would in the end. I really enjoyed the way the story was told through both interviews and excerpts from Fatima's new book, and the way you could see all the pieces coming together. It was fascinating to see how Fatima manipulated herself into the heads of those teens and made herself appear like their best friend and so interested in what they had to say and what was going on in her lives while knowing the reason why, and also how it made all of them feel and how they looked on it later on.
   This was the first time I read anything by Lygia Day Peñaflor and I really loved it. Despite my reading slump this year, I just couldn't put it down and finished it in about a day or two. I highly recommend it.
I give All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor 5 out of 5 stars.

* * *

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Published: September 7th 2017 by Walker Books
Number of Pages: 290 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

   Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
   Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
   Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
   But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
   Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . (goodreads.com)

   This book was certainly not what I expected it to be based on the description, but I was blown away by the story and how it unfolded. It alternates between emails and Romy's narration and it builds slowly, things come together piece by piece, the tension rises at the perfect pace, and it's also mixed with a bit of space science and a study on the mind when you're literally the only person in a radius of years instead of miles.
   I liked the fact that Romy sounded her age, but that her mind and knowledge also showed that she really could be someone born in space and training to be fit for the mission she was born into. Seeing her get to know J and also her love for her favorite show and even the (slightly cringy) fan fics she wrote for them, it was so much fun. But it was also genuinely thrilling, creepy, and downright terrifying, especially in the second half, even more than just thinking about being alone day and night for years on a spaceship. 
   Absolutely amazing read full of twists and turns and mind games.
I give The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James 5 out of 5 stars.

* * *

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Published: May 30th 2017 by Greenwillow Books
Number of Pages: 385 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
   In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
   Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
   But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. (goodreads.com)

   Francesca Zappia is one of my auto buy authors, though I'll admit that it took me way too long to actually pick this one up and read it. I absolutely loved her debut, Made You Up, and I loved this one just as much, though for different reasons.

“I made Monstrous Sea because it's the story I wanted. 
I wanted a story like it, and I couldn't find one, so I created it myself.”

   The idea of being someone whose art and story can spark such a vast interest, create a fandom and be something you can live off of, that's the dream of every author and artist, isn't it? So it was fascinating to actually read about a character like that, see how she sees her fame, how reluctant she is to claim it, show who she truly is, her doubts and worries, and how her friendship forms with someone who is an actual real life fan of her web comic. I loved Eliza and Wallace, how reluctant Eliza was at first to interact with him and what a beautiful thing became of it, how she didn't judge him for the fact that writing came easier to him than speaking, and all these other small things.
   The fact that the art in the book came from Francesca was even cooler so kudos to her for doing it. Both the main story, and the snippets we saw of Eliza's web comic, were absolutely fantastic and I can only recommend this book to everyone. Read it, you won't regret it.
I give Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia 5 out of 5 stars.

Review - Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton

Freitag, 11. Mai 2018

Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton
Published: May 22nd 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.
   There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.
   To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined. (goodreads.com)

* Thank you to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me with 
an eARC in exchange for my honest review *

   Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe is a marvelous read about grief, friendships, the struggles of high school and the ups and downs of life narrated with an authentic sounding teenage voice filled with pop culture references, funny but also heartfelt, thoughtful moments.

   Cliff and Aaron are fascinating and multi-faceted characters and their friendship was crazy and unique from beginning to end. Their conversations and the situations they get into together are hilarious but also scary at times, but luckily everything works itself out in the end, even if the way there is filled with twists and doubts. Their relationships with the other characters were interesting and watching them evolve over time was amazing. Cliff and Tegan were great together, the nerd squad with their love of all things geeky and debates about Apple were brilliant but also so true to life, Aaron and Lacy definitely had a lot of issues they certainly needed to work through but watching it all slowly happen over the course of the book was great. Nothing felt rushed or forced or unrealistic.

   As previously mentioned the voice of the narrator, being Cliff, was incredibly on point and perfectly represented a sixteen year old boy's thoughts and reasonings. They were a bit weird and wtf inducing at times, but that's how teenagers are, not every decision they make is perfect, or even reasonable at times. Honestly I loved Cliff as narrator and seeing him slowly grow, evolve, learn and change across the story was amazing, his character arc perfectly and realistically paced.

   I can easily say that Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe was one of my favorite 2018 releases and I'm really happy I got a chance to read it way earlier. It's one of those contemporary stories that, upon first glance, seem silly or just plain dumb, like some sort of comedy no one will take serious, but this story is so much more than that. I highly recommend it.
I give Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton 5 out of 5 stars.

On writer pressure and self care

Mittwoch, 9. Mai 2018

   Hey everyone!

   Today I want to write about something a little different. Usually I'm all about blog tours, reviews or interviews, but I recently had a few amazing conversations with writer friends about the daily pressures we put on ourselves to write more, faster, better, so I thought why not write a post/discussion about it.

   When asked, I'm the sort of person who will immediately tell you to not stress yourself out about writing on a daily basis too much, to take it easy and have fun with it. But, unfortunately, when it comes to applying that same idea to myself, it's a struggle. On certain days I feel like if I don't write 2-3k words, it's a wasted day and that I'm a failure, that I should just quit because I will never be good enough.

   That, of course, is very counterproductive. I know that, you know that, everyone does, but it's easy to get caught up in such a mindset. If I don't write XYZ amount of words, what even am I doing.

Setting realistic word count goals

   This is something I feel like is very important. A goal is something you can work toward and that will give you this feeling of satisfaction and having achieved something once you reach it. But, it's very easy to set that goal much too high and start to panic when you're having one of those days when the words aren't coming to you easily or you just feel too exhausted to write due to other things going on in your life.

   As a good friend of mine said, it's better to set a small goal that you can use as motivation and know that step by step the story will get done eventually, instead of just not writing at all because you're too afraid of not hitting your target word count goal. If you set it as 200 or 500 words, that's usually an amount that's more than doable on a daily basis. It's easy to tell yourself just sit down and write 200 words, it won't take long but you'll know you wrote something, and once you hit those 200 words, chances are you'll feel good about yourself and motivated to continue.

   Meanwhile if you sat your goal as 3k or the world will end, it will become this daunting thing looming over your head like some kind of monster. Instead of being something you enjoy, writing will become more of a chore, something you dread and that makes you anxious, and that's not good, right? Plus, compared to 200 words, 3k takes far more time. 200 words is something you can quickly write during your break at work, in public transport or even while on the toilet, quick and easy. With 3k, yeah, not so much.

Be kind to yourself

   This one can be hard sometimes, especially in the era of social media and twitter when you follow all these other writers who seemingly always write more than you do and, instead of seeing it as motivation or something to work yourself up to, it turns into only more reasons of why you start to feel like a loser compared to them. But in all of it you have to remember that everyone has different lives. While some authors write full time and are able to dedicate the better part of their day to writing, others don't have that luxury, have to work or take care of their family. Does that mean they are less of a writer because their circumstances don't allow them to write as much as full time authors? No, of course not.

   It's easy to lose yourself in this idea that you have to be like your favorite authors, that you have to be able to write X amount of books every year, but really, do you?

   It's okay to find a routine that works for you, to allow yourself to have worse days where you only write a little bit or nothing at all and not see those days as wasted. Sometimes our brain and creativity just need a break and that's totally fine. You will have better days, and not so good days, and that's completely okay. Instead of seeing a seemingly low word count as waste of time or something that makes you a lesser writer, see them as successes. You've written something, and isn't that much better than not having written anything at all?

   Maybe it will take you longer to write that first draft if you 'only' write 200 words every day but eventually that draft will be completed. Who cares if it takes longer, it's still something many people will never achieve, and if you are kind to yourself, you will feel much better along the way. Sure, writing 3k or more on a daily basis looks great as twitter updates, I would know, but putting that kind of pressure on yourself, it will only do more harm than good in the long run.

The moral of the story

   Find whatever works for you and don't compare yourself to others, especially full time authors. If you're slower than them, that's completely fine. If you 'only' have time to write for an hour or less every day, that's still amazing. If you wrote 'just' 200 words, that's still 200 words more than you had yesterday. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to see even small things as successes instead of shortcomings and set yourself goals that are achievable so they will motivate you instead of stressing you out.

   I struggle with this a lot myself and I'm trying to get better at it, so maybe, writing this and sharing my thoughts will remind me, too, that I should be kind to myself, and that every new word is one word more than I had yesterday.

   Writing books isn't a race.

Cover reveal: Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn

Montag, 2. April 2018


   As you guys know I love Pintip Dunn's writing ever since I first read Forget Tomorrow. I've loved that trilogy and everything else she wrote, so when I heard she had a new book coming out later this year and that I could help reveal the cover, of course I couldn't say no. So, thanks to Entangled Teen, I am bringing you the amazing cover for Star-Crossed:


Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn
Expected Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)

   Only one can survive...

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About the Author

   Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. Pintip's debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. In addition, it is a finalist for the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Japanese Sakura Medal, and the MASL Truman Award. THE DARKEST LIE was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other books include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, the novella BEFORE TOMORROW, and GIRL ON THE VERGE. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. 

Excerpt and giveaway: True Storm by L. E. Sterling

Mittwoch, 28. März 2018


   Today I'm bringing you a short but very exciting excerpt from L.E. Sterling's upcoming release, True Storm, which is the third and final book in the True Born trilogy and comes out May 1st 2018. Additionally, if you live in the US, check out the giveaway below for a paperback copy of True Born, the first book in this trilogy!

True Storm by L.E. Sterling
Expected Publication: May 1st 2018 by Entangled Teen
Number of pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)

   Lucy’s twin sister, Margot, may be safely back with her—but all is not well in Plague-ravaged Dominion City. The Watchers have come out of hiding, spreading chaos and death throughout the city, and suddenly Lucy finds herself under pressure to choose her future: does it lie with her handsome new friend, Alastair; her guardian, the enigmatic True Born leader Nolan Storm; or the man who makes her heart trip, her savage True Born bodyguard Jared Price?
   But while Lucy ponders her path, fate has other plans. Betrayal is a cruel lesson, and the Fox sisters can hardly believe who is behind the plot against them. To survive this deadly game of politics, Lucy is forced to agree to a marriage of convenience. But is the DNA of her will stronger than the forces opposing her? Can she turn the tide against the oncoming storm??
   As they say in Dominion, can rogue genes ever have a happy ending? (goodreads.com)

   And now, are you ready for the excerpt...? Well, here it is:

   His hands still on my face. “I’m sorry,” I manage to say, trying to control a nervous need to giggle like a hyena. “Are we fighting? Maybe I didn’t notice because it’s all we ever seem to do.”
   A wicked grin lights his features. “That’s not all we seem to do,” he whispers, seconds before he replaces his thumb with his lips.
   It’s a soft kiss at first, tentative. Like someone asking your name. But it lights me up, sending fire shooting through my body, heat curling through my belly. I must sigh because Jared pulls back for just a moment, a question in his eyes and hunger written all over him. Then he claims my lips again, holding my face in his hands as the earth spins away from me.

GIVEAWAY


Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of True Storm by L.E. Sterling today!
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About the Author

   L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an M.A. in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature – where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of two previous novels, the cult hit YA novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick), dubbed “the Catcher in the Rye of a new generation” by one reviewer, and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate. Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van with her father, a hippie musician, her brothers and an occasional stray mutt – inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.