ARC REVIEW: Love Looks Pretty On You – by Lang Leav

Title: Love Looks Pretty On You
Author: Lang Leav
Genre: Poetry, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: December 1st 2018
Pages: 224

“Don’t stay where you are needed. Go where you are loved.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Lang Leav‘s poetry bundles in the past, so I was drawn to her newest poetry bundle coming out next year as well. I know I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I like to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while and read something different. Unfortunately, I can’t say Love Looks Pretty On You turned out to be an entirely positive experience. There was just something about the writing style and tone this time around that didn’t manage to convince me completely. I found that the poems in Love Looks Pretty On You lacked proper cohesion between them and there was no absolute theme and obvious connection between all of them. Instead of the positive tone I was expecting from the title, there were a lot of negative feelings portrayed in the poems. Not bad perse, but not what I expected and somehow I wasn’t able to connect to most of the poems. I wasn’t too sure about the style and form of most of the poems and thoughts included. It wasn’t a bad read, but by no means her strongest bundle either.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #62 – The Burning World & Elevation

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two stories that ended up disappointing me unfortunately. The Warm Bodies sequel The Burning World by Isaac Marion and the ‘impossible to understand why this is horror’ Elevation by Stephen King.


Title: The Burning World
(Warm Bodies #2)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: February 2nd 2017
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: November 6th 2018 
Pages: 512

“There’s no bigger threat to the world than people who think they can improve it. “


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I confess I actually read the first book so long ago (three years) that I confused my feelings for the first book with another zombie read. Oops? It turns out I wasn’t convinced by the first book Warm Bodies, and sadly this sequel didn’t wow me either. The first thing you have to know before you start the series is that the zombies are not actually scary and they are in fact not the real enemy. That on its own isn’t a real problem, as the idea of having different kind of zombie states is actually quite interesting and original. What I didn’t expect is just how NOT scary either book is. And of course, the romance plays a big role in the story. While I appreciate the idea of a zombie and human being together and all (you can’t deny it’s a slightly disturbing but original idea), it doesn’t lend itself for the most exciting plot. And talking about plots, I found that The Burning World in general lacks a proper plot and that both plot and characters were mostly all over the place and running into random trouble instead of following a coherent line (although things might become clearer in the final book I guess). This wasn’t the only thing I struggled with though, as more importantly I wasn’t a fan of the writing style itself. Especially the WE chapters were frustratingly confusing and there were too many jumps and switches to make for a coherent story. The story was overlong for me with its 500+ pages and I sincerely hope my experience with the final book will be better.


Title: Elevation
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: October 30th 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: November 8th 2018
Pages: 160

“This was the same. Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go farther still.”


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I was curious when I saw a new Stephen King was coming out, and I’m sure we can all admit that cover is gorgeous. Even though Elevation is a novella and I don’t read a lot of those, I was really looking forward to reading it. The first thing that stands out for me is that I have no clue whatsoever why this novella is marked as ‘horror’. Contemporary romance with a hint of sci-fi and even a far-fetched urban fantasy… Maybe. But horror? I don’t think anyone would find Elevation scary unless you are afraid of hights or stepping on the scale. That was the first thing that went wrong for me. The second thing had to do with the characters. I know it’s only a novella, but the characters just felt like one big cliche for me and didn’t add anything interesting to the story for me. A big problem, as the story is mostly focused on them. I did like the huge focus on the running, but overall there wasn’t really that much of a plot to talk about. Just a guy losing his pounds until he is closer and closer to zero… Not horror, not thrilling at all, and mostly a cliche contemporary story on how one person’s doom can bring other people together. And mostly just a meh story for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #57 – Sadie & Spell Bound

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA books that sadly didn’t hit the mark for me… The first an unpopular opinion review on Sadie by Courtney Summers, the second being me suffering from a romance and love triangle allergy and those ruining the series for me: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins.


Title: Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: September 4th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: October 23rd 2018
Pages: 378

“People don’t change. They just get better at hiding who they really are.”


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WARNING: Unpopular opinion review ahead.

Oh yes, the unpopular opinion curse has struck again… Sadie has been all over the place for a while now. I decided to pick up my copy on a whim, and I was fully expecting to love it: this story gives off all the right vibes, and I still think that the story itself was fascinating. But somehow, I didn’t actually enjoy reading Sadie all that much. I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I’ll try to explain anyway. First of all I have to say that the idea of the podcast is very cleverly done, mixing those chapters with Sadie’s POV. There were a lot of different minor characters and locations to keep track of though, which can be confusing… But overall I think the format was a success. The plot development, twists and level of suspense were quite well done as well. There is a lot of mystery around Sadie and her sister, and it’s interesting to slowly figure out more and more about the past. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending though… I was left wanting for more. I also wasn’t able to connect properly to the characters, and I think that is part of the reason Sadie didn’t work for me in the end. The writing style didn’t click with me either (the same happened with All The Rage, so it might just be that her writing is not for me). Trigger warnings are in place for child abuse, addiction and violence. All in all sadly Sadie just didn’t do it for me, although I know I’m the exception and most people seem to love it. So definitely give it a chance if you haven’t read it yet!


Title: Spell Bound
(Hex Hall #3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 13th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: October 25th 2018
Pages: 337

“People are so rarely villains in their own minds.”


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I wasn’t so sure whether to read this one after my disaster experience with the sequel, but since I already had a copy and don’t like leaving series unfinished I decided to give it a go. Initially, Spell Bound went slightly better than the second book, and I started to enjoy the sarcastic kind of humor and writing style in general again. Then… BOOM! The annoying romance and frustrating love triangle was back to ruin the day again, and things went downhill from there. I hate that the romance has ruined a potentially excellent trilogy for me, especially since I really enjoyed the first book and thought it had so much potential. Sadly, the main focus is on the romantic scenes, pushing everything else into the background and making other aspects of the story suffer from lack of development. Potential not exploited for me… Although I’m having a feeling romance fans will react differently to both sequels. Oh well, at least I now know for sure what my reaction was to Spell Bound, and I won’t be left wondering. I guess we can’t like them all, can we? And I guess I’m kind of at least part of the problem here.


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ARC REVIEW: All This I Will Give To You – by Dolores Redondo

Title: All This I Will Give To You
Author: Dolores Redondo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 3rd 2016
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Finished reading: September 30th 2018
Pages: 494
(Originally written in Spanish: ‘Todo Esto Te Daré’)

“He’d lied to the only being in this world entitled to know the truth: himself.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and AmazonCrossing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This might just be one of those cases where the problem is me, and not the book… So take this review with a grain of salt. I was actually looking forward to read All This I Will Give To You, since I love stories set in Spain and the blurb sounded fantastic. It might have been the translation, since I prefer reading Spanish books in the original language as the exuberant prose doesn’t always translate well… But the fact is that it didn’t turn out to be the reading experience I was hoping for. Overlong, with difficult to read prose and a writing style that makes it really hard to stay focused as you have to read some lines over and over again… Oh yes, it’s easy to say I really struggled with this story. The pace was superslow and the story felt halted; ever had car engine problems and tried to move the car with your whole body? That’s how I felt while I was trying to make it to the end of this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love detailed descriptions and the area described in All This I Will Give To You is a perfect excuse to do just so. I just think this story took it one step too far. I truly think this story would have benefited from a brutal editor cut and at least 150 pages less. Because there is no doubt that the idea behind this story and plot is fascinating as well as the many secrets of Alvaro’s family and history. It is just buried under so many unnecessary descriptions and overly baroque prose that the intrigue ends up being completely lost. Which is such a shame, because the complexity of the plot itself, with many twists and secrets to discover about the family, is excellent.

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The life of novelist Manuel Ortigosa changes forever when he learns one morning that his husband Alvaro has been killed in a car crash. Because that is not the only shock for Manuel, as it turns out Alvaro has been keeping secrets from him. He wasn’t in Barcelona as he told he was, instead Manuel had to travel to Galicia to the place where Alvaro died. It turns out that the man he married fifteen years ago wasn’t the man Manuel thought he was… And Manuel soon finds himself to be deeper and deeper involved in the secrets around both Alvaro’s life and death.

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There were things I did enjoy in All This I Will Give To You. The fact that the main character is a novelist. The detailed descriptions of the setting in Galicia. The general plot, suspense, plot twists and secrets. The complexity of the story. But. Sadly overall I mostly ended up struggling with All This I Will Give To You. Between the very slow and halted pace, the overdose of descriptions and an overly barque prose I had a hard time to keep myself going. I felt like a potentially excellent story was buried under a pile unnecessary words and pages that prevented it from reaching its full potential.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #52 – In A Dark, Dark Wood & Without Merit

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two popular authors and two different genres. I was really excited about In A Dark, Dark Wood, but sadly it mostly fell flat for me. And Without Merit was without doubt an entertaining read, although not my favorite CoHo book either.


Title: In A Dark, Dark Wood
Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 30th 2015
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Finished reading: September 27th 2018
Pages: 339

“You’d think people would be wary of spilling to a writer. You’d think they’d know that we’re essentially birds of carrion, picking over the corpses of dead affairs and forgotten arguments to recycle them in our work—zombie reincarnations of their former selves, stitched into a macabre new patchwork of our own devising.”


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I had my first experience with Ruth Ware‘s books last year with The Lying Game, and I’ve been meaning to pick up another of her titles ever since. So when I had the perfect excuse to do so, I decided to finally pick up my copy of her debut In A Dark, Dark Wood. I’ve heard mixed things about her work in general, so I decided to go in with low expectations… Discovering I did probably well by doing so. In A Dark, Dark Wood is by no means a bad read and is without doubt as dark and menacing as that glass house in the middle of the woods chosen as a setting. The writing is engaging and the suspense is mostly handled well. I had two significant problems with this book though. The first thing that stood out for me was the fact that none of the characters is easy to connect to; most are unlikeable and overall I can’t say I really cared about what would happen to them. And then I’m not even talking about the whole fact that Nora and Clare hadn’t seen each other for ten years and suddenly Clare invites Nora to her hen? And not telling about James before? And Nora stays even after all the things that happen? So not credible to me. And that is not the only thing that made me doubt the credibility of the plot and events. There were several eyebrow raising moments involved, and not in a good way. I also did see quite a few of the plot twists coming really early on, and I didn’t like how the amnesia angle was incorporated into the story. It wasn’t a bad read, but nothing like I hoped it would be either.


Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: September 28th 2018
Pages: 385

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”


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I seem to be having a love-hate relationship with Colleen Hoover‘s books… Somehow she is able to get strong emotions and opinions from me, positive or not. Without Merit ended up belonging somewhere in the middle. While not my favorite and a bit different than I’ve become used to, there is no doubt that it is still a good story and I can understand why so many love it. It felt more YA than NA to me, but that on it’s own wasn’t a problem for me. The romance was also doable for me, which is something I have become used to with CoHo… Somehow she manages to make me forget I’m not into the whole romance genre most of the time. There are a lot of things to love in Without Merit, and I think that this abundance of different elements actually worked against the story in the end. Depression, agoraphobia, the Syrian refugee situation, lgbt elements, Honor and her boyfriends, Wolfgang and the church, family problems… Those and other elements are all incorporated into the plot, making it almost feel crowded and I don’t think each of these get the attention it deserves. I would have preferred less topics and a more developed appearance during the story. As it is, some of the more important elements are just skimmed over (suicide, the Syrian refugee situations etc) and feel more like plot fillers rather than something important to talk about. I still enjoyed reading Without Merit though and especially Sagan won over my heart easily. I like that the characters are flawed and feel realistic despite their strange names. All in all an interesting read, although not perfect.


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ARC REVIEW: The Girl Made Of Clay – by Nicole Meier

Title: The Girl Made Of Clay
Author: Nicole Meier
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 25th 2018
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: September 12th 2018
Pages: 304

“For the majority of their lives, they were two lost souls twisting in the wind.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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There were two things that instantly made me want to read The Girl Made Of Clay: the beautiful cover and the promise of an intriguing family drama with an artsy twist. There is no doubt that this story has a lot of potential, and I believe in this case the problem is me and not the story itself. I confess that family dramas are a bit out of my reading comfort zone and they can go either way for me. In this case, unfortunately my reading experience went down a negative road. It wasn’t because of the writing, which was solid and flowed. The Girl Made Of Clay is a mostly character-driven story where the focus is on Sarah and her father TR, but also on the failing relationship between Sarah and her husband. As always with a character-driven story, the connection to the main characters is extremely important and has a big influence in how you perceive a story. Sadly, in The Girl Made Of Clay, I was unable to make such connection. In fact, TR is horrible, Sarah frustratingly annoying and her husband is no good either… Little Sam is the only one that was able to bring a smile to my face. I’m not saying the character development is bad and having flawed characters makes the story that much more realistic. TR isn’t ment to be likeable, and the whole point of this book is that the relationship between Sarah and her father is broken. Still, my aversion towards the characters made it really hard to enjoy the story or to properly care about what would happen to them. I’m not sure about the credibility of some parts of the plot either… But like I said, the main problem for me was the lack of connection to the characters, which made it a struggle to stay focused and keep myself motivated to keep reading. I do think this was mostly me, and I think people who enjoy reading character-driven family dramas and don’t mind flawed and potentially frustrating characters will have a good time with The Girl Made Of Clay.

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Sarah hasn’t spoken with her father for decades, not since he left them all those years ago to live the celebrity lifeas a famous artist. But after Thomas ‘TR’ Harlow is badly injured in a house fire, it seems like he has no one else left to care for him… And suddenly Sarah is forced to care for a man who is basically a stranger to her. Being close to her father again not only brings back old painful memories, but also puts a strain on her already troubled marriage. Sarah is not so sure what to do with the situation, or if she will ever be able to forgive him…

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If you enjoy reading character-driven stories with flawed characters that are described in a realistic way, The Girl Made Of Clay is without doubt an interesting read. The pace is not the fastest, but the story captures quite well how the characters evolve over time. Did I think every aspect of the plot and behavior was credible? Not exactly. Did most of the characters annoy me and made me enjoy the story a lot less? Most definitely. But as one of the cliches goes: ‘it’s not you, it’s me…‘. And I really think that is what happened here.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #45 – The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo & Orange Is The New Black

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around not only two books belonging to a completely different genre, but also two completely different reactions to the story. Despite not being my typical genre, I absolutely loved The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo. I should have never doubted all those raving reviews! Orange Is The New Black on the other hand was a huge disappointment.


Title: The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: September 2nd 2018
Pages: 388

“No one is all good or all bad. I know this, of course, I had to learn it at a young age. But sometimes it’s easy to forget just how true it is.”


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Fact: I’ve been a tiny bit afraid to pick up this one. Partly because of all those raving reviews and you all know how I react to hyped books most of the time, and partly because it’s not my typical genre… But I should have never doubted those reviews. The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo had me hook, line and sinker. Not only was I impressed by the writing style right from the very first page, it was the story itself that fascinated me as well. The idea of the biography, the aged actress finally revealing all about her past… Everything just clicked for me. Even though Evelyn Hugo herself is not exactly likeable and has done some horrendous things in her life, somehow between the way she was portrayed in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo and the way she tells Monique all her secrets without hiding the ugly details she really grows on you. I was actually surprised by just how much I was able to connect to her character! I also loved how big of a role diversity played in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo. It was interesting to see how gay, lesbian and bisexual characters were treated in that particular era, and how the views on the lgbt community affected the Hollywood stars. The historical setting in general is very well done and I highly enjoyed fully diving into that era. I also enjoyed the way this story was told: partly set in the present as Evelyn finally tells her story to Monique, and mostly set in the past, where Evelyn gives us her life story through her seven husbands she has been with during her life. My favorite characters were without doubt Harry and Celia, and the character development in The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo is sublime. I never imagined enjoying this book so much, but this is one of those books that you just HAVE to try even if you aren’t sure the genre would be for you. Trust me, you will regret it if you don’t.


Title: Orange Is The New Black
Author: Piper Kerman

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: April 6th 2010
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Finished reading: September 3rd 2018
Pages: 298

“Prison is quite literally a ghetto in the most classic sense of the world, a place where the U.S. government now puts not only the dangerous but also the inconvenient-people who are mentally ill, people who are addicts, people who are poor and uneducated and unskilled.”


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I actually saw the first episode of the TV series based on this memoir a while back, but I decided to not continue watching as I wasn’t impressed by what I had seen. I still wanted to give the memoir a go though, mostly because I normally never watch a series or movie before reading the book in the first place. So when Orange Is The New Black fitted one of the N.E.W.T. prompts, of course I saw it as a sign to pick it up. Sadly, it wasn’t the experience I was hoping for. It seems my feelings during my supershort experience watching the TV series pretty much summed up my feelings for this memoir as well. What went wrong for me? First of all, I never got used to the writing style or tone, which of course made it harder to connect to the story. Secondly, I had a huge problem with Piper Kerman herself. She comes over as someone mostly self-centered, who sees herself as someone above the rest and doesn’t seem to want to admit what she did back in 1993 was wrong. Reading about her views on the prison world made me cringe at points, and while it was interesting to learn more about some of the inmates, I felt it lacked coherence and the story just didn’t flow for me. More importantly, I felt she was trying to be too politically correct and by saying she wasn’t discriminating, it mostly came over as the other way around. The ending was also really abrupt, and didn’t give real closure after such a detailed description of her time in jail. The story dragged at points and it was hard to keep myself interested and make it to the end… The fact that I did was more due to the other characters involved than Piper Kerman herself. All in all unfortunately not exactly a winner for me.


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