ARC REVIEW: The Art Of Fear – by Pamela Crane

Title: The Art Of Fear
(The Little Things That Kill #1)
Author: Pamela Crane
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 18th 2017
Publisher: Tabella House
Finished reading: March 8th 2018
Pages: 306

Everybody avoided the words the day your sister died, as if saying them aloud brought the curse upon themselves. Those words were the Lord Voldemort of my life.

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


I had added this title to my wishlist when it was originally published last year, so when I saw it pop up on Netgalley scheduled to be published last month, I couldn’t resist requesting it. I know there have been mixed thoughts about The Art Of Fear, and honestly that cover makes me very uncomfortable. Am I the only one who thinks that expression on her face should be x-rated? Anyway, despite the doubts I was still looking forward to start this one. And I was literally blown away with the intense start of The Art Of Fear. What a way to start a story! It was hook, line, sinker and I quickly cleared out my schedule to be able to read this one without distractions… Sadly, this enthusiasm for the story didn’t stay. After such an intense, dark and thrilling start, I was actually a bit disappointed by the fact that The Art Of Fear didn’t turn out to be as fast-paced as I would have liked. Sure, there will be some very messed up twists and details thrown at you, but in general somehow the plot and pace just didn’t manage to convince me. The multiple POVs and flashbacks probably had a lot to do with the slower pace and lack of connection to the story. And honestly, I was surprised to find myself not invested at all in who would be behind it all. Also, trigger warnings are in place for rape, abuse, suicide and violence in general! The writing style did make it quite easy to read, and I really liked the inclusion of the Mexican bits. But as for the characters… I felt there were too much of them, making it harder to connect to them and I honestly I don’t think I ever did. Most of the characters are broken and have a lot of potential; there is no doubt they are intriguing, but not being able to connect to them made me feel less invested in the story. I could have done without the romance as well; it went so well during a lot of time I was already getting my hopes up I would be spared this time, but no luck. I’m not sure what to think of the ending either… Although I guess it shows potential for the sequel. The Art Of Fear is by no means a bad read, but unfortunately it didn’t manage to convince me either.


Ari Wilburn’s life ended the day she watched her little sister die in a tragic accident and she was blamed for it by her parents and sent away. She has been struggling with life ever since, not really living, but as she joins a suicide support group and meets Tina, she starts to doubt her memories. Tina had been sold as a sex-slave when she was only six years old, but was able to escape and ended up where she ended up. When Tina finds her father dead, she suspects foul play and not suicide, and asks her new friend Ari to help her find evidence. But this might just be more complicated and dangerous than they would have thought…


I had really high hopes for The Art Of Fear, especially after such an explosive and dark beginning. But sadly I was never able to warm up to the characters, and the multiple POVs and flashbacks slowed down the pace considerably and didn’t help keeping the tension. Like I said before, The Art Of Fear is by no means a bad read, but I don’t think it lived up to expectations either. There is a lot of potential though, and I did like the writing style.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #19: The Good Daughter & Wires And Nerve Vol. 1

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I have been meaning to pick up for a while now… I’m almost ashamed to admit I had never read a Karin Slaughter thriller before even though she’s one of the most popular authors of one of my favorite genres. I’m so glad I finally got to remedy that! The Good Daughter made me an instant fan of her work. Wires And Nerve on the other hand didn’t manage to convince me… I loved Marissa Meyer‘s original series The Lunar Chronicles, but this graphic novel mostly fell flat for me.

Title: The Good Daughter
Author: Karin Slaughter

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 8th 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: February 19th 2018
Pages: 528

“The truth can rot you from the inside. It doesn’t leave room for anything else.”


Like I said before, I am almost ashamed of the fact I had never read a Karin Slaughter book before. And that is with her books being wildly popular and belonging to one of my favorite genres… So I really had no proper excuse not to do so. But no longer, because now I’ve tried her work I have become an instant fan. WOW! That woman can write… It was without doubt a highly intense read with a lot of complicated, disturbing scenes and elements. The plot is well developed, intense, rich and will take you on a very emotional ride. Karin Slaughter isn’t afraid to put down the ugly facts and details right there on the table for everyone to see, and trigger warnings are in place for violence, abuse and rape among other things. The school shooting scenes are also a painful reminder of what happened in Florida recently… There is no denying the story and it’s many subplots, twists and turns are brilliantly executed and I take my hat off for it. Say hello to my very first 5 star read of 2018! It’s been a while since I read such a rich, complex, shocking and well developed psychological thriller. Highly recommended!

Title: Wires And Nerve Vol. 1
(Wires And Nerve #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: February 17th 2018
Pages: 238

“I don’t think humans realize how fragil their bodies are. So many injuries that are minor annoyances to be would be fatal to my friends.”


I’m a big fan of the original series The Lunar Chronicles, so this new graphic novel series has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. So when I was in the mood for a graphic novel the other day, I remembered I had this one waiting to be read and finally picked it up. Wires And Nerve Vol. 1 takes place after the original series has ended, which is great for fans of the series as we can see how things will continue. BUT. It can also be seen as a huge spoiler for those who haven’t read or finished the original series yet. So I highly suggest not starting Wires And Nerve until you have finished reading Winter! As for the graphic novel… While it was great to visit the original characters again, I do think a lot of them felt really different from the way they behaved in the original books. Take Thorne: he was one of my favorite characters, but I seriously couldn’t stand him in the graphic novel. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the graphics in general. The lack of detail, overly simply graphics and overall blue tone just didn’t manage to convince me. Which is strange, because I normally love anything blue… The plot itself is quite interesting, as it gives us a healthy dose of action as well as some insight as to how things continue. I also loved that Iko is the main star in Wires And Nerve, since she is one of my favorites, and she seriously kicks ass in this first volume. BUT. As a whole, I do feel this graphic novel was quite a disappointment and doesn’t live up to The Lunar Chronicles.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #17: Under Rose-Tainted Skies & Station Eleven

Another day and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… This time around two Beat The Backlist titles I managed to read last month. The first, Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, I mostly picked up on a whim because I was in the mood for a YA contemporary read. I didn’t remember it had a mental health angle, which was a nice surprise, but I did feel the story was way too similar to Everything, Everything. The second title, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, is one of those books I have been wanting to read for ages, but always felt slightly intimidated by. I’m glad I finally did pick it up, because the writing was wonderful!

Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 7th 2016
Publisher: Clarion Books
Finished reading: January 29th 2018
Pages: 330

“We can assume the best, but we can’t choose how people perceive us. We can, however, chooce how those views affect us.”


I kind of picked up this title on a whim while I was browsing my kindle looking for a YA contemporary since I was in the mood for the genre. I didn’t look up the summary before I started reading, so it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered Under Rose-Tainted Skies has a very prominent mental health angle. I can always appreciate when a story focuses on this illness and helps spread the word… In this case, the main character suffers from agoraphobia and OCD, and her situation plays a very big role in the story. The main focus of Under Rose-Tainted Skies is on Norah, how she is trying to live with her illness and how it affects those close to her. I think the author did a good job portraying this element as well as addressing a few misunderstanding and cliche reactions along the way. The writing and pace made this story easy and fast to read and overall it is an engaging and entertaining read. BUT. I did feel it just all felt too similar to Everything, Everything. The girl ‘trapped’ inside her house due to her illness, the single mom, the cute neighbor… Even the unnatural ‘fast’ development of the relationship felt kind of the same. Also, I wasn’t too sure about the ending or credibility of certain parts of the plot. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Under Rose-Tainted Skies, but I do think contemporary romance fans will enjoy this one better than I did.

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf
Finished reading: January 31st 2018
Pages: 336

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”


Station Eleven is one of those books that has been on my shelf for years and somehow I just kept posponing it. One of the reasons is probably that this story by Emily St. John Mandel is such a popular one and I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype… Even 3+ years after the publish date. You can also say I was a bit intimidated by it. I’m glad I did finally pick it up though, because I ended up enjoying it considerably. I went in with no idea what to expect whatsoever and the whole dystopian setting came as a huge (but pleasant) surprise. I don’t think I was expecting the story Station Eleven ended up delivering, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it less because of it. I always love my surprises! The first thing that stood out for me was the writing style, which had me under its spell immediately. Station Eleven starts out as a contemporary and then suddenly throws the bomb (or should I say, Georga Flu) on you and turns dystopian. This ‘after’ is in fact the most dominant storyline and I really liked reading about the different characters and how their stories connect or overlap. There will be a few plot twists in story for you as well! I do have to say that, while I really enjoyed this story, I do think the plot felt a bit disjointed with all those flashbacks and different storylines. Especially in the beginning it was hard to put each storyline and character in its correct place and this might slow down the pace a little. This is only minor compared to how I felt about Station Eleven overall though, and I can recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good dystopian story with a perfect character/plot/background/action balance.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #15: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo & From Bad To Cursed

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! No more backlog reviews, so from now on it’s only books I’ve actually read this year. The first is one of the (hopefully) various memoirs I will be reading this year: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. I had high hopes for this one besides the fact I’m not familiar with her at all, but I just couldn’t connect to her writing style and her humor definitely wasn’t for me. The other title on her is the Bad Girls Don’t Die sequel From Bad To Cursed by Katie Alender, which turned out to be a disappointment as well. A shame, because I loved the first book!

Title: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Humor
First published: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: January 23rd 2018
Pages: 323

“If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them—like the sun.”


I have a weird fascination with reading memoirs even from persons I’m not really familiar with. So even though I don’t really know Amy Schumer or her work, I was still intrigued enough to want to pick up The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. The fact that this memoir has been praised a LOT did also help of course. I was fully expecting to be loving this read, but I ended up feeling the complete opposite. Oh yes, it’s time for another unpopular review… Did you really think I could go that long without one? I don’t think my opinion has all that much to do with the fact I don’t really know her… It’s more that her writing style, crudy humor and sexual talk simply aren’t a right fit for me. The humor felt kind of forced-funny, but then again my sense of humor has always been a bit ‘special’ and I don’t like what most people like. What was a surprise is that The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo was actually a lot darker and self-confessional than I thought it would be, especially since it’s labeled humor. Kuddos to her for having the guts to share all this personal stuff… Although if I got it right she kind of does the same thing in her shows. I guess her humor and writing style either works for you, or it doesn’t. Unfortunately I belong to the second group, and honestly I kind of struggled making it to the last page. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we?

Title: From Bad To Cursed
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #2)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: June 14th 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: January 20th 2018
Pages: 442

“Stay sunny, we said to each other.
Because if you don’t the whole world will know you’re a monster.”


I read the first book back in 2016 for Halloween, and while I really enjoyed that one, I somehow ever picked up the sequels. No longer, because I’ve vowed to finish this trilogy before the end of February. Book number two starts off quite a few months after the first book finished its story… And in From Bad To Cursed the sisters will have another dose of the supernatural. Sadly I wasn’t able to enjoy this sequel as much as I thought I would. I still love the writing style, which is engaging, flowing and makes you fly through the story. But I wasn’t so sure about the plot. The idea behind From Bad To Cursed is an interesting one and definitely involves a healthy dose of creepy, BUT I wasn’t so happy with all those high school cliches included as well as a lot of ‘perfect pretty girl’ cliches. A bunch of teenage girls playing perfect and bitching to others if they don’t dress perfectly, eat the right food and say the right things? No thank you. The way both Alexis and Kasey behaved really started to bother me as well. I’m still hoping it was just this particular ‘problem’ they had to deal with that made them unlikeable and I’m having hopes for the final book. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to like that one better!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #13: The Ends Of The World & The Hating Game

Ready for another round of Yvo’s Shorties? This time around I will be reviewing two books I actually read this year. Shocking, I know haha. Both are Beat The Backlist books and titles I’ve been meaning to read for a while… The first to finish a series: The Ends Of The World by Maggie Hall. The second from a genre I normally tend to stay away from, but ended up being a more than pleasant surprise: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

Title: The Ends Of The World
(The Conspiracy Of Us #3)
Author: Maggie Hall

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 18th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: January 10th 2018
Pages: 320

“You’re a survivor. I’d never wish it on anyone, but you’re just like the rest of us now. Welcome to the world’s worst club.”


I picked up this title as part of my goal to finish more series this year. I really enjoyed the first two books of this trilogy so I was looking forward to it, but unfortunately the third and final book The Ends Of The World ended up disappointing me. Why? First of all, I found there was way too much focus on the romance, significantly more than in the previous books and this took away a lot of the magic of this series. Sappy romance scenes, cliches, love triangle, you name it; this third book is coated with it and I wasn’t happy with that development. Especially since I enjoyed the first books a LOT. The spark that put this series on my radar in the first place was definitely missing in The Ends Of The World and I found there was too much focus on the political side rather than the mystery and conspiracy. The international settings saved this final book for me somewhat, but  all in all not the thrilling and explosive ending I was expecting.

Title: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 9th 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: January 12th 2018
Pages: 387

“Both love and hate are mirror versions of the same game – and you have to win. Why? Your heart and your ego. Trust me, I should know.”


Spoiler alert: I usually don’t like the romance genre, especially if it involves sexy scenes and love triangles. Was I afraid to go against my instinct and pick up The Hating Game? Hell yeah, but sometimes you just have to think outside the box, jump right in and live a little. Right? And I guess my jump into the unknown has turned out to be a right bet this time. Oh yes, I definitely understand why so many people love this book now. Because even though I’m not into romance and hate both sexy scenes and love triangles, Sally Thorne made me completely forget about that and I had a blast reading this one. Even though there are a lot of cliches in this book and the whole ‘gorgeous, gorgeous, I’m drooling’ thing can get annoying, somehow the dynamics worked and resulted in a highly entertaining read. It’s a miracle, but I here’s the proof I can actually enjoy a sexy romance read. Shocking, I know.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #12: The Rules Of Magic (ARC) & The Invisible Man

Another day, and another round of Yvo’s Shorties… Bringing more backlog reviews of books I read back in 2017. The first is an ARC I read ages ago, The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman. The second an classic I ended up enjoying way better than I thought I would: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.

Title: The Rules Of Magic
(Practical Magic #2)
Author: Alice Hoffman

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 10th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: October 12th 2017
Pages: 369

“Why is anything a secret? People want to protect themselves from the past. Not that it works.”

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


I was actually invited to read this title last year and was drawn to both the cover and the blurb. It’s not my typical genre, but something about The Rules Of Magic spoke to me and I decided to give it a go. Sadly it didn’t work out as planned. It might have been due to the fact I haven’t read Practical Magic and wasn’t familiar with the main characters, it might have been because the story simply wasn’t for me, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about it. The pace is quite slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story. I wasn’t able to connect to the characters and this lack of connection resulted in a further estrangement. It’s a shame, because The Rules Of Magic did show a lot of potential and I can see why the right person would really enjoy reading it. The writing is without doubt excellent and if you manage a connection to the characters you will love seeing them grow up and their different ways of accepting magic into their lives. Just don’t expect a lot of magical elements and witchcraft in this story, because you will be disappointed; The Rules Of Magic has more of a coming of age feel with a hint of magical realism.

Title: The Invisible Man
Author: H.G. Wells

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: 1897
Publisher: Signet
Finished reading: October 23rd 2017 
Pages: 208

“Great and strange ideas transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible considerations.”


The Invisible Man is one of those classics that has been on my TBR for ages, always getting posponed to read other titles instead. But after a mention that this classic was actually quite entertaining, I decided to finally pick it up. And they were right, because I actually found myself having a lot of fun while reading The Invisible Man. Not only is the prose quite easy to read, but the plot itself is both intriguing and entertaining as things start escalating. The character development has been really well done and shows the effects being invisible can have on a man… If you are looking for an accessible and entertaining classic to read, The Invisible Man is the choice for you.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #9: Life In Outer Space & The Bunker Diary

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time shorties of books I’ve actually read in 2018. 😉 These two books were my very first Beat The Backlist titles and here’s to many more to follow this year. Number one is Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil, a book I picked up on a whim. The second, The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks, I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages and turned out to be a very shocking and thought-provoking read.

Title: Life In Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Finished reading: January 4th 2018
Pages: 305

“I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there’s nothing either of you can do about it.”


Ever picked a book up on a whim? Well, that was what happened when I started reading Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil. I love my geeky/nerdy reads and I was so sure I was going to enjoy this one… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. First of all, I feel this book is trying too hard. Why? The geeky/nerdy element feels forced unnatural and basically didn’t manage to convince me. This is strange, because it’s normally my favorite part of this kind of YA contemporaries… The movie geek theme did at least play a significant role throughout the story, which I could appreciate since it clearly wasn’t just another box to be ticked and time and effort was put into finding all those references and quotes. I do feel Life In Outer Space has an aweful lot of high school cliches though, including the infamous ‘geek falls for popular girl’ trope. And another thing that made me struggle to love this story were the main characters. Unfortunately I never managed to connect to them, although I’m having the feeling the unnatural feel of the geeky elements were probably part of the problem. It does read superfast and fans of cute YA contemporary romance reads who don’t mind high school cliches will most likely have a better reading experience than me.

Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks

Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 7th 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 6th 2018
Pages: 268

“Fear serves a purpose. It’s not just for watching spooky films or riding rollercoasters. It’s there for a reason. It keeps us alive.”


I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long time, and when I saw mentioned in the first line of the description this was going to be ‘Room meets Lord Of The Flies’, I was sold. These comparisons to popular books can go both ways, but I think in the case of The Bunker Diary it is actually pretty accurate. Because WOW. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading The Bunker Diary and this is both an addictive, shocking, thought-provoking and emotional read. I sure wish I would have picked it up sooner! The writing is interesting and we learn about what is happening through the diary of the main character. Not only tells us about the events in the bunker, but it also shows the mental state of the character as well as how the things that happen have their effect. It’s hard to talk properly about this story without giving away too much, but The Bunker Diary will crush your heart, make you stare at the final page and at loss for words. A trigger warning for some graphic descriptions, but all in all I can really recommend reading this story. It definitely blew me away.


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