Review - "Repulsion"

"Repulsion" (The Unbound #1) by Jeroen Steenbeeke 

I used to think I was a pretty normal teenager: I got up in the morning, went to school, did my homework, played video games, and dreamed about Karen—one of the girls in my class. When I found out she liked me, too, I thought I was the luckiest guy alive. But everything changed when we kissed. Something awakened inside of us, and now we know that we're not normal teenagers after all.

For a while I thought these powers were pretty amazing—I mean, who wouldn't want superpowers? But it stopped being fun when Karen started hearing a voice in her head. A voice that told her I was her enemy. A voice that could take control of her. A voice that was only the first glimpse of a world we never knew existed.

*I received a digital copy of this book  from NetGalley for an honest review*

Thymen is just your average teenage guy with mundane problems and a crush on his classmate Karen. But things change, when Thymen and Karen kiss for the first time. Suddenly, both of them possess strange powers - like Telekinesis and flying! But when Karen suddenly stars hearing a strange voice inside her head, that keeps telling her that Thymen is her enemy and when a shady guy in a business suit pops up everywhere near them, things get really strange. 

With about 72 pages "Repulsion" is quite a short and quick read. The dialogue is funny, but the protagonists lack characterization, in my opinion. The idea is really good and the plot okay, tho a little bit too fast. But this is just the first book in the series, so I'm positive there will be more story and characterization in the upcoming sequels. What I also liked is the fact that the story is not set in the US or England for a change - but in the Netherlands! 

Although the story was short, I quite enjoyed the story, so I'm probably going to read the sequels as well :) 

- Claire  

The Admont Abbey Library

"Admont Abbey (Ger.: Stift Admont) is a Benedictine monastery, which is located on the Enns River in the town of Admont (Austria). As the oldest remaining monastery in Styria, Admont Abbey contains the largest monastic library in the whole world! It is known for its Baroque architecture, art and manuscripts" 

(look at this beauty *ugly crying*)

Admont Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg (this dude hated King Henry IV's guts not even joking) and settled by monks from the St. Peter's Abbey (Salzburg) under abbot Isingrin (yeah we like those names). 

On April 27, 1865 a horrible fire almost destroyed the entire monastery. Unfortunately, the monastic archives burned, but the library could be salvaged. Reconstructions began a year later - but were still not completed by 1890. 

This library hall, which was built in 1776, to designs by architect Joseph Hueber, is 70 meters long, 14 wide and 13 high. And not only is it the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen but it's also the largest monastery library in the world. 
It contains about 70k volumes of the monastery's entire collection of 200,000 (!) volumes. 

The ceiling consists of 7 cupolas decorated by Bartolomeo Altomonte, which show stages of human knowledge up to the high point of Divine Revelation. 48 windows provide light that is reflected by the "original scheme of gold and white". 

The architecture and designs express the ideas of the Enlightenment - tho "The Four Last Things" by Joseph Stammel make a remarkable contrast: Death, Resurrection (also Judgement), Hell and of course Heaven. 

You can check out the stories of them here  (there're also more pics)

The abbey possesses over 1,400 manuscripts, the oldest of which were a gift of the founder (ya know that Gebhard dude) and they were accompanied by the first monks to settle here, as well as over 900 incunable ("the earliest stages or first traces in the development of anything") 

There are also a bunch of museums you can visit like The Natural History museum. The abbey also houses two major art collections of Historical and Modern Art (*internal screaming*). 

Since 1997 the abbey has also been building up a collection of more contemporary stuff, which is mainly produced by younger Austrian artists and often specially made for the abbey premises. 

The reason why I am talking about this library is not only because it's frickin beautiful and everyone who ever comes to Austria should visit it at least once, buuut because I just convinced my Dad to let us go this summer and he agreed and I'M SO EXCITED!! (seriously, we've been living here for 12 years it's about damn TIME)

I'm gonna post tons of stuff about this and take a bunch of pictures (is that even allowed??) and ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Review - "Dreaming of Antigone"

"Dreaming of Antigone" by Robin Bridges 

Every star has its own path…
“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.

Heartwrenching, smart, and bold, Dreaming of Antigone is a story about the jagged pieces that lie beneath the surface of the most seemingly perfect life…and how they can fit together to make something wholly unexpected.

*I received a digital copy of this book for an honest review*
*Thanks to NetGalley & Kensington Books*

Dreaming of Antigone is a story about a girl named Andria, who is dealing with her twin-sister's death. Andria is one of those main characters who just manages to pull you in with the first page. She is sarcastic, she is funny, she is sad and lonely, and you can't help but feel connected to her. All of the characters are dealing with things some way or another, but Bridges manages to not leave any loose strings, creating well rounded characters you simply have to like (except that one character. fuck that one. (read the book and you'll understand)). 

There is also poetry and astrology involved, a love story, drama and tragedy. But at the same time, it's not over the top or too much but simply a beautiful and well written story, that makes you feel sad but also manages to make you laugh. It makes you feel all the right emotions and makes it impossible to put down this book and simply keep on living your life. 
This is the first book by Robin Bridges I've read, but I am already so mesmerized by her world building and I'm in love with her characters and her writing style, that I instantly became a huge fan. (I already read that there's going to be another book from the same universe, about a character that also appears in this book *internal screaming*). 

I would recommend this book to everyone who likes books about serious issues, but which are witty and funny, so there's still something to laugh about. It also has a nice love story and amazing characters and great representation of grief. I just love Dreaming of Antigone and it's truly one of those books that you simply can't put down. 

PS: if you don't know who Antigone is - shame on you! you should know your Greek mythology. 
Bellamy Blake would be disappointed. 

Review - "My Brother's Shadow"

"My Brother's Shadow" by Tom Avery 

Fans of David Almond’s Skellig and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls will embrace this deeply affecting middle grade novel in which a girl suffering from terrible grief befriends a mysterious wild boy.

When I saw him that first time I screamed—a small and silent scream, all inside, in my gut. Eleven-year-old Kaia, who has felt isolated since her older brother committed suicide more than a year before, befriends a wild boy who mysteriously appears at her London school. Though the boy is mute and can only communicate with a flash of his gray eyes, he might be the friend Kaia needs to bring her through her grief.

Here’s a fascinating story, which offers a fresh and completely original portrayal of loss and renewal.

Since her brother committed suicide, Kaia has been frozen. Her father is long gone and her mother abandons her and drinks her pain away. One day, 11-year-old Kaia meets a boy in school. A wild boy with gray eyes who helps her cope with her grief. 
Tom Avery has an amazing writing style, where everything sounds so poetic and picturesque. I've read books like this before (e.g. Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls is my favorite), but Avery's story is great as well. What I didn't like about it tho, is the distance Avery keeps to his readers. Like, we are watching Kaia from afar, but we aren't really "part" of her pain. We are just spectators watching her, but unable to understand, so we aren't fully capable of relating to her in that sense. Also the ending left me quite unsatisfied, because we don't really see what happens to the boy (*spoiler* or if he's even real), or that Kaia (*spoiler* had to get in an accident to snap out of her frozen-ness). 

But I would still recommend this to people who don't mind open ending and just want to read meaningful and deep books with great writing! 

Netgalley gibt's jetzt auch in Deutschland!!!

"Die Leserplattform Vorablesen schließt eine Partnerschaft mit der US-Firma NetGalley, einer B2B-Plattform für den Vertrieb digitaler Leseexemplare. Dadurch sollen die Verlage nun auch professionelle Leser wie Blogger, Buchhändler und Journalisten erreichen können." (x)

Aufgepasst! Die englische Seite gibt es jetzt auch für die deutschen Bücherwürme! Ist das nicht total toll?!

Für alle die es nicht wissen: NetGalley ist eine Seite, wo ihr Leseexemplare beantragen könnt. Meldet euch einfach auf an und voila! Da ist für JEDEN etwas dabei!

Review - "Dust on the Wing"

"Dust on the Wing" by Parker Foye 

Captain Tam spends his life travelling through space on his beloved ship, the Paradigm Princess, and he likes nothing better than being alone with the horizon. However, when a routine stop on his favourite planet brings an unexpected new crew member, he breaks routine and agrees to take her on board—because if Tam plays this through, the powerful Marquis will owe him a favour. Surely that's worth a detour

*I want to thank NetGalley for giving me the chance to sneak an early peek into this*

Chances are, if there's a book with spaceships and alike I have to read it. Like it's physically impossible for me to just NOT read it. Unfortunately, 85% of the time, I end up being disappointed. And unfortunately, that's the case here as well. Don't get me wrong, it's an easy ready and the characters are likable, but there is just not enough: not enough characterization, not enough plot. It just seems like a big chunk is missing. The story starts out of nowhere and you have literally no idea what's going on (or was this just me?). Yeah, it's not really a long book, so it could have been longer. That was a real shame because the it could have been a great story. 
What I really liked about it tho, is Tam being asexual. That's not something you come across often. So brownie points for that :)

Foye's writing style is great too, and I would actually like to read something else by them. 

Review - "Sofia Khan is Not Obliged"

"Sofia Khan is Not Obliged" by Ayisha Malik 

"Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.' Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. 'Are your parents quite disappointed?'

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

Sofia Khan is not Obliged is the hilarious and authentic debut novel by Ayisha Malik."

Okay, before I start on my actual review, I'd like to give you some insight on my personal life: 

Originally, I was born in a small country that is located in the Caucasus mountains, in the middle of a war, the second one my people were faced with. When things got too "serious", my parents didn't know any other way than to leave their beloved home, taking their 4 children (my baby brother was born on the way) to somewhere safe. 
So all our possessions were sold, and we left with only the clothes we were wearing and some personal belongings like photos and important documents. A long and exhausting journey through many different countries started for us, we met different people - some helped, some frowned upon us, told us to go back where we came from. 

Now almost 12 years later, we are safe, but the prejudices and other people's disapproval still remain. On top of the fact that we don't belong here, we also happen to come from a place where Islam is the main religion. Immigrants + muslims = fuel for all the racist and prejudiced people. 

We integrated and tried to find our way in a place that is so different from what we know - learned the language, respect the rules and laws, etc etc. We go to school, do our jobs, pay taxes - but somehow the fact that we pray five times a day, or fast during Ramadan, or wear hijabs is a thorn in people's sides. We have been called terrorists more often than I can count. People look different at my sisters, my mother and me, when we wear long skirts and scarfs to cover our hair. It has not been easy and certain things will probably never change. 
We can't go back home, because people are still being killed there and no one is safe, but we don't belong here either. We are stuck, without any home. 

But of course, not all are like that. I have met incredibly nice people along the way and in Austria, dedicated to make us feel home and safe. Who helped us, when we needed it the most. Who smile and greet us every day. Who like to celebrate Eid with us and learn more about us. As long as these people exist, I can cope with the others. 
Because these people give me hope. May Allah bless those who are good and lead the ones who are not, to the right path. 

It was one of my friends from University who told me about "Sofia Khan is Not Obliged" and I was hooked from the very first moment. Muslim characters in media are rare to the point of being non-existent - unless there's need for a terrorist. So a book where the Muslim character is in no way related to anything to do with terrorism is a blessing. Sofia Khan gives me hope and Ayisha Malik is opening doors to a great future for us. 

The story was funny without trying too much, it made me laugh (especially at every Bollywood reference lol) and cry, sometimes both at the same time. It made me question things and learn things. Sofia Khan is relatable, to everyone - Muslim or not. It was an easy read, but still managed to cover serious issues. I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want to finish it either. The love story was great, the characters amazing. I cannot wait for the sequel and I hope many people discover this little gem and cherish it like I do. 

Thank You, Ayisha Malik for Sofia Khan, a character, I can finally fully relate to 

- Claire :)

Review - "Confess"

"Confess" by Colleen Hoover

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

So, I don't know what changed ... my taste in books or just simply my attitude towards certain issues. But I don't like things that I used to a couple of years ago. For example, I didn't mind insta-love or love triangles, or those typical YA books that were so hyped back then. 
Now, I just can't with them. Insta-love with no build-up, love triangles that aren't relatable because both guys are douchebags, etc etc... 

Unfortunately, "Confess" falls exactly into this category (at least in regards of the insta-love part) and it actually had me scoffing and rolling my eyes like 98% of the time. The only reason that I actually gave it 3 stars (although I'm tending more towards 2,5) is because of how Colleen Hoover managed to integrate art into all of this: Owen uses the anonymous confessions he gets as inspiration for his art, which I find incredibly creative and beautifully done: 

 I don't remember the artists name, who actually painted these (it was somewhere at the end of the book), but you can purchase prints of them here, which I intend to do asap.

So this book owes these 3 stars to the artist in me, not the reader. Because, let's be honest, the story was not my cup of tea at all. Maybe the 15-year old me would have liked it (but I wouldn't listen to 15-year old me, because all I read back then was Nicholas Sparks lol), the love story was too rushed, the MC a typical Mary Sue, male love interest way too possessive, the plot was meh. 

I am willing to give Hoover another chance, because I actually have a couple of her books on my TBR list. But "Confess" - not for me ;) 

- Claire 

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