BOOK REVIEW: Heartless – by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: November 8th 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: September 28th 2017
Pages: 453 

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

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I’m a big fan of Marissa Meyer ever since I first I first started The Lunar Chronicles, so adding Heartless to my wishlist was a no-brainer. I’m still surprised it took me this long to pick up one of my most anticipated releases from last year… Although I did hear some mixed things about it that made me wonder. And guess what? Here’s another unpopular opinion coming up. Again. Because despite my initial expectations and feelings, I didn’t end up loving Heartless like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, when I started reading this I was sure I was absolutely going to love this story. The writing is wonderful and simply enchanting and had me hooked right from the first page. I dived right into this magical retelling and had a blast reading about Cath and her baking. A little warning there: this story will make you crave both baking and eating all those sweets and tarts! Seriously mouthwatering… Everything went perfect up until the love triangle was introduced. Oh yes, Heartless is yet another YA fantasy story that suffers from the dreaded romance trope. Unfortunately things went downhill fast after that and I was really frustrated by all that romantic blabbering and love triangle related nonsense. It nearly broke my heart because I absolutely loved the story before that! So it’s easy to say the love triangle business put a mayor damper on what could have been a delightful and positively delicious read. The final part was a bit of a surprise, although I’m not sure what to think of it. All in all not the reaction I was hoping to have after finishing Heartless…Trust me, I’m feeling disappointed as well to feel this way.

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Catherine has been dreaming for years to open her own bakery one day and sell the pastries everybody seems to love. She is a very talented baker, but her parents have other plans for her in store. The unmarried King himself seems to show a special interest in Cath and it is her mother’s dream for her daughter to be queen one day. Even though Catherine doesn’t agree and wants a different future for herself. And then she meets the mysterious Jest at the ball where the King is about to propose to her… And things take a different turn.

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I really wanted to love Heartless and I was sure I was going to after reading the first couple of chapters. The writing is wonderful and take you right to the magical world these famous characters live in. I just loved Cath and her baking; I’m craving to start baking something myself right now (and eating it afterwards of course!). Everything was going great until the love triangle, which positively ruined Heartless for me. After the introduction of this romance trope, the main focus was on this relation and I felt kind of betrayed. Oh well, most people seem to love this story, so I guess this will be yet another unpopular opinion to add to the mix… If you dislike love triangles as much as I do, consider yourself warned though.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Lifeboat – by Charlotte Rogan

Title: The Lifeboat
Author: Charlotte Rogan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Survival
First published: March 29th 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Finished reading: September 26th 2017
Pages: 340

“It’s my experience that we can come up with five reasons why something might have happened, and the truth will always be the sixth.”

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I had a copy of this novel collecting dust on my shelves for over a year now and the other day I decided to pick it up on a whim. I mostly read on my kindle nowadays, but it’s good to have an actual physical copy in my hands every now and then… I admit The Lifeboat was a cover-love buy, although I was also intrigued by the 1914 historical setting. To be honest, I’m still on the fence about this one. The Lifeboat is a character-driven story predominantly set on a lifeboat, where the characters have to survive after their cruiseship sinks on the way to New York. The story is told mostly in diary form where one of the characters relates what happens during that time and some of the story is also dedicated to the aftermath. While I thought the historical setting and tone were well executed and even can be seen in the way the characters interact with each other, I also felt the pace was quite slow and this made it harder to properly enjoy the novel. Honestly, nothing much really happens during the story and it’s mostly about the interactions between the characters and how they react to being is such a dangerous situation. Character-driven stories can be fascinating, especially when the characters find themselves in such a dangerous situation, but I wasn’t convinced by The Lifeboat. Part of this feeling probably has to do with the fact I was never able to connect to the characters, making it harder to care for them or what would happen to them. Grace (the narrator) actually became irritating at one point. I liked how the aftermath and trial is also discussed and how difficult it is to judge people and their actions in such extreme situations though. All in all I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Lifeboat, but fans of character-driven historical fiction novels might have a better time reading this one.

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In the summer of 1914, Grace Winter is on her way back to New York with her new husband Henry on board of a cruiseship. Then the unthinkable happens and the ocean liner suffers a mysterious explosion, sinking the ship. Henry is able to find a place for Grace on one of the lifeboats just before that… Although the survivors on that particular boat soon realize that they are over capacity. If any of them want to survive, they will have to make some sacrifices… What will happen to them? And what about Henry and the others on the cruiseship?

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I had high hopes for this one despite the low rating, mostly because I was in the mood for a proper historical fiction read in the first place. The Lifeboat without doubt had the right historical feel that was even reflected in the way the characters interacted, but I also felt that special spark was missing. Nothing much really happens during the story despite the horrific situation the survivors find themselves in. The aftermath chapters did added something to the plot, although it was mostly talk and unfortunately rather dull. Combined with a slow pace and unlikeable character this wasn’t one of my favorite historical reads.


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BOOK REVIEW: Monsters Of Men – by Patrick Ness

Title: Monsters Of Men
(Chaos Walking #3)
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 3rd 2010
Publisher: Candlewick
Finished reading: August 28th 2017
Pages: 602

“Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.”

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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead. Dun. Dun. Dun. The unpopular opinion curse has punished me once again… Because behold: I didn’t love the final book of the Chaos Walking trilogy as much as I expected and hoped I would. And trust me, I am still shocked myself I feel this way as well. Despite some minor issues with the slang used in the first two books, I was actually really enjoying this series so far. Like most people who have read at least part of this trilogy, I have really grown attached to both Todd and Viola and I was really looking forward to find out how things would end for both of them. I was expecting to devour Monsters Of Men despite its whopping 600 pages… But that wish didn’t came completely true in the end. Why? First of all, I want to make clear I didn’t hate this story despite the things Patrick Ness does to make my poor heart suffer. I just don’t think it was as good as the first two books. I have been wondering if this has to do with the fact I read A Monster Calls in between and nothing will ever be able to live up to that story… But here’s me trying to explain why I gave Monsters Of Men a lowish rating compared to most. I will not take into account the use of the slang, which I have repeatedly said I didn’t like and since the use is consistent throughout the series won’t affect my relative opinion of Monsters Of Men. It wasn’t the how Patrick Ness decided to end it all or how he made us readers suffer along with the characters either. No, my mean problem with Monsters Of Men is the new POV that is suddenly introduced into the story. A new POV, would you ask? Isn’t this series just about Todd and Viola? Well, the third book is now also about ‘The Return’. This new POV and its chapters left me mostly feeling confused and instead of adding an interesting new angle to the story, I mostly struggled trying to understand what they were talking about or who/what they were referring to. Honestly, I was never able to warm up to those chapters and even confess I started skimreading them at one point. I can’t deny they are beautifully written and Patrick Ness is a pro at creating creative and unique prose, but this POV just wasn’t for me and put a real damper on the rest of the story. I just wish he would have sticked with the Todd/Viola POVs instead… But I guess we can’t have it all. I feel really sad I wasn’t able to like this final book better though.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Todd and Viola will have to face some very difficult decisions as the situation starts to escalate further. Not only are the indigenous Spackle a threat, but the different human leaders will also do whatever it takes to make sure they reach their goals… Even if this means others will have to suffer for it. They all will defend their own ideas at all costs; endangering the others in the process. Who will win this demostration of power? And what about the convoy of new settlers?

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I was so sure I was going to enjoy Monsters Of Men just as much as the previous two books, but I guess my instincts were wrong. It wasn’t the prose. Besides the slang I still find annoying, the writing was just as strong as ever. I still love Todd and Viola just as much as in the first books. And it wasn’t the fact that Patrick Ness is basically an expert at breaking my heart and crushing my feelings either. I had one big problem with Monsters Of Men: ‘The Return’ and his newly introduced POV. This POV is more lyrical and in a way very beautiful, but unfortunately it left me mostly confused and I had a hard time figuring out the who and what of the things mentioned in those chapters. I actually found myself starting to skimread them at some point… Definitely not a good sign. It’s the main reason I had to lower the rating considerably despite my overal positive opinion about the rest of this final book.


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ARC REVIEW: The Accident – by S.D. Monaghan @bookouture

Title: The Accident
Author: S.D. Monaghan

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 26th 2017
Pages: 258

“And suddenly he had two revelations: that life is dull when you know exactly who you are, and that it is terrifying when you don’t. “

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

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!! Happy Publication Day !!

Those who follow my blog know I have a weak spot for Bookouture thrillers, and this case is no exception. I was sold as soon as I saw the cover of The Accident and read the blurb… And I have been looking forward to it ever since. There is no doubt that this thriller starts with a bang and has a lot of action involved during a short span of time. The Accident is stuffed to its limit with plot twists and new angles which basically can be compared to a crazy rollercoaster ride that will drag you along with it. Because there is one thing you won’t feel while you are reading The Accident, and that is boredom. From the moment David finds Tara in a compromised position and things start to escalate, the story just won’t let you go. There is no doubt The Accident is a thrilling read, but I almost wonder if there aren’t just too much action scenes and crazy twists involved… Because as things escalate further and further, I also started to wonder about the credibility of it all. The writing reads like a train and I managed to finish this story in record speed, but in the end I wasn’t completely convinced by it. For me, there were too many different elements involved and the plot twists started to spin out of control… While they did keep you guessing about how things would end, they also made the story less real and relatable in general. I also had problems with the characters, which I found quite unlikeable and I wasn’t sure about their actions and how they reacted to the plot twists either. All in all you can say I had mixed thoughts about this thriller of a story, but there is no doubt this will give a double expresso dose of action and suspense to anyone who decides to read it. And I’m having a feeling especially (male) action thriller fans will love The Accident.

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Tara seems to be having everything she could ever wish for: a husband she loves, a baby in the near future and a dream home she is about to move into. But something seemed to be missing, because how else to explain her temptation to have one last fling with her ex before settling down? She never imagines getting caught, but that is exactly what happens that night. Tara literally means the world to David, so when he sees what he sees he can’t let things go and confronts the man who shattered his dreams. And that is where things start going wrong… And both their lives will change forever.

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Action-packed, thrilling, suspenseful, crazy, rollercoaster ride… All words that apply to The Accident and its plot. Fans of action thrillers will devour this story and will especially love the final part, which almost reads like one of those popular action movies. That said, I personally did have some problems with the credibility both of the characters, their actions and the plot in general. It felt almost like too many different angles where squeezed into an already eventful plot and it started to have the opposite effect on me. I wasn’t a fan of the characters either, but I can also see how the right person would love this book.


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ARC REVIEW: Fierce Kingdom – by Gin Phillips @VikingBooks

Title: Fierce Kingdom
Author: Gin Phillips

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 25th 2017
Publisher: Viking
Finished reading: August 20th 2017 
Pages: 288

“Templates are dangerous. Templates teach you not to think. History doesn’t repeat itself, Rob. Every second is a new thing.”

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

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I have been eyeing this story for a while now, so when I found out it was in the Read Now section on Netgalley I couldn’t resist hitting that button. There was just something about that cover and blurb that kept calling to me… And I’m definitely glad I took the time to read Fierce Kingdom. Despite the fact I didn’t give it the highest rating on the planet, Fierce Kingdom is without doubt a very suspenseful, refreshing and entertaining psychological thriller that reads like a train. I found myself literally flying through the pages and finished it in less than a day! The writing has a way of drawing you in and I loved the setting in a zoo. Very refreshing and original! The story follows Joan, her son and a bunch of other characters trying to find a way to keep safe in a very chaotic and dangerous situation. There are quite a few twists involved and danger is never far away, but Fierce Kingdom isn’t just about the suspense. It is also about the bond between Joan and her son and how far she will go to protect him. And there is were the part comes in that made me lower the rating: the credibility. I’m not sure if the whole situation is actually credible and I wasn’t sure about the decisions Joan made either or how things developed. Some of it just felt pretty chaotic and all over the place… BUT. Somehow I still managed to enjoy reading this story anyway. This has a lot to do with the writing, the refreshing and original plot and the constant presence of danger and suspense as you keep reading to find out what will happen to them. So while I ended up giving Fierce Kingdom ‘only’ three stars, it is a very good three stars for me. And I’m sure this book will be a right fit for those who are not affected by the credibility and are looking for a refreshing psychological thriller with a healthy dose of suspense and a touch of drama.

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Joan and her four-year-old son spend a lot of time in the zoo and today is not different. The zoo is already nearly empty as they pack up their things and start heading back to the entrance… It has been a perfect day so far and the two are happy, but suddenly the mood changes. At first there are strange sounds, and then Joan sees something when they are approaching the exit gate that chills her to the bone. She sprints right back into the zoo with her son in her arms… And for the next three hours she will have to do everything to keep them both safe.

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I’ve kept the summary short to avoid spoilers, but trust me, you will want to know what is happening in the zoo and how things develop. While I had problems with the credibility of it all, I did very much enjoy reading Fierce Kingdom and I could really appreciate the refreshing plot and the fact that it isn’t just another psychological thriller. The focus on the bond between Joan and her son was interesting and added a whole different level to this story. Definitely one to keep in mind.


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BOOK REVIEW: Love May Fail – by Matthew Quick

Title: Love May Fail
Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
First published: June 4th 2015
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: July 31st 2017
Pages: 419

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

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I liked Matthew Quick‘s unconventional writing style and characters in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, so when I was desperately looking for something different I turned to his work again. I found a copy of Love May Fail on my shelves and decided to pick it up; and I definitely got what I was looking for. This book is by no means conventional! I’m still not sure what to make of this book even days after finishing it. There were things/elements I liked or appreciated and there were others I wasn’t so sure about, but what is true that Love May Fail is different. Both the writing style and tone are very unconventional, blunt, brutally honest but also refreshing. That said, there was also a lot of swearing and negativity involved… So this unique feel can go both ways. The same thing goes for the characters. Most of them earn points for brutal honesty, uniqueness and having that ‘spark’, but I don’t think I actually liked them. Portia had all those elements (she definitely has balls), but somehow I never actually warmed up to her. It is true though that at least she was able to provoke strong emotions, even if those were mostly negative. I couldn’t stand Mr. Vernon though. What is true though is that important themes as mental illness, depression, suicide, midlife crisis and hoarding play an important role in the story and seems to be portrayed quite realistically. Matthew Quick isn’t afraid to step on a few toes and says things as they are in a blunt and brutally honest way. And I don’t think I have ever read about a hoarder before! In short I can applaude the diversity. I also liked the novel writing bits and insight in the publishing world. Still, I can’t say I actually loved reading Love May Fail. It won’t make it to my favorites list, but there is no doubt there is something about this story.

A little warning: don’t read Love May Fail if you are sensitive to darker themes, adult content and swearing.

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After Portia Kane finds her pornographer husband cheating on her with a girl half her age, she decides she has had enough. She is having a meltdown; escapes her fabulous life in Florida and then returns to her mother’s house in South Jersey. There she realizes things in her hometown haven’t changed all that much and she will have to face the memories of her unhappy childhood. Her mother is still a hoarder and Portia doesn’t know how to help her get better… So when she finds out what happened to her favorite English teacher, she decides to do something to help him instead. But how to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped in the first place?

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If you are looking for something different, there is no doubt that Love May Fail will deliver. There is nothing conventional about this story and I guess it is kind of refreshing. Love May Fail won’t be for everyone since it has a lot of trigger warnings for darker themes, adult content and swearing, but I’m sure the right person will appreciate the brutal honesty and blunt, raw and ‘out there’ feel of it all. I personally ended up having mixed thoughts about this one, but I do believe this book can go either way.


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ARC REVIEW: Americosis Vol. 4 – by Haydn Wilks

Title: Americosis Vol. 4
Author: Haydn Wilks

Genre: Short Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: December 2nd 2016
Finished reading: July 25th 2017
Pages: 56

“It’s all madness.”

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

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First of all a little note: since the cover is basically a swearword, I’ve decided not to display it on my blog for personal reasons. It’s bad enough it already shows up on my Goodreads timeline as it is. xD

The quote above describes these Americosis volumes perfectly: absolute madness. I’ve read the first three volumes in the past, so I did know exactly what I signed up for… There is nothing ordinary about the world created in Americosis, the plot or the characters. And it has been one heck of a crazy and absurd ride so far! Volume four continues where the last part ended; there is almost no recap so it’s important to read/remember the previous volumes to make sense of it all. Although ‘making sense’ maybe isn’t the right phrase to look for, because I don’t think Americosis is ment to make sense in the first place. Volume four had a few very interesting elements I liked; predominantly the parts set in the future (4046). The idea of every person having a different vision of what happened since the moment in history they were snatched away is intriguing and would be a great topic for a standalone novella or novel. Just imagine the endless possibilities of famous personalities of the past getting together and share their version of the ‘future’! This new storyline added a whole new interesting level to the story and made me curious about the finale… But I do have to say there were some things that started to bother me. I don’t think Americosis Vol. 4 has changed much in tone, but somehow the EXCESSIVE and CONSTANT swearing started to get to me. I don’t mind a swearword or two as long as its use is constructive, but I felt it really crossed the line in this volume. I basically have a quote where a variation of the word ‘f*ck‘ is used no less than eleven!! times in one sentence; overkill much? Apart from the swearing, the story is also very graphic and violent in general and stuffed with adult and sex-related comments and scenes. In short there is no doubt this short story isn’t for everyone… Only a select few will be able to truly savour it and I can see why the target group would be predominantly adult (white) male. If you like crazy, graphic, messy, chaotic, dystopian, violent and all over the place stories, Americosis will probably be for you. There’s one thing for sure: you won’t be bored with this one!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  three volumes yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Things have slowly started to get out of control… The race against the clock for the Savior is real and he will have to fight hard to be able to reach his goal before it’s too late. Because America is being destroyed from the inside, and it’s winning. In the mean time, the Presidential race is going strong… And the two candidates will do whatever it takes to win.

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It might just have been I wasn’t in the right mood when I read Volume 4 and that’s why I rated it slightly lower than the previous three… But I did feel the excessive swearing and graphic scenes started to get out of control. It does read like a train and is basically an explosion of action and absurdness right in the middle of a dystopian America. The right person will probably love Americosis, but it is without doubt an acquired taste. The storyline set in the future was fascinating though!


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