YVO’S SHORTIES #125 – Muse Of Nightmares & Hope And Other Punchlines

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition: two most anticipated books that both lived up to expectations for me. Muse Of Nightmares  by Laini Taylor is the duology conclusion and I once again fell in love with the wonderful wonderful prose. I have loved Julie Buxbaum‘s books in the past, and while Hope And Other Punchlines isn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still an excellent read and the 9/11 element is well handled.

Title: Muse Of Nightmares
(Strange The Dreamer #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: September 15th 2019
Pages: 528

“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”


I admit I’ve been afraid to pick up my copy of Muse Of Nightmares… After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences. Muse Of Nightmares proves that the writing and characters truly can make up for a plot that is slightly bland in places and this story blew me away. I mentioned the characters, and they are definitely one of the reasons this duology is on my list of all time favorites. Lazlo, Sarai and the others won over my hard so fast and my heart really went out for them. I love that a lot of the characters are not either good or bad, walking that grey area instead of simply being described as monsters. The worldbuilding of this high fantasy world is again beautifully done and set the right tone for this sequel. I would definitely suggest reading these in order, as Muse Of Nightmares picks up right where the first book ended and you won’t be able to appreciate the sequel without the character and plot development in Strange The Dreamer. Then again, if you don’t mind a slower and more character driven YA fantasy, you will want to spend time devouring the stunning prose in both books anyway.

Title: Hope And Other Punchlines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: September 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.”


Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though. First up is the 9/11 element, an event that has made a huge impact on countless of lives and I could really appreciate how Julie Buxbaum incorporated this into the plot. While both the town and the Baby Hope photo are fictional, I do feel they represent the aftermath of 9/11 realistically and show us just how devastating the impact of this single event is even all those years later. Then we have the main characters Abbi, Noah and Jack. While I had certain issues with some actions in the beginning (blackmailing!!!), it is still quite easy for these three characters to win over your heart. The dynamics between geeky Noah, Jack and Abbi will grow into something absolutely adorable and they are definitely part of the reason this book works. Abbi (Baby Hope) is a very interesting character and she makes you think about the impact one little photo can have on both the life of those portrayed and on many others as it becomes a symbol of hope. I personally adored the camp scenes and I thought the story was well balanced in general. Lighter moments are contrasted with not only 9/11 details, but also other heavy themes as Alzheimer and cancer. I finished this story in no time at all and while I do admit it’s not my favorite Julie Buxbaum, I can definitely recommend it to any fan of the contemporary romance genre looking for a story that is both adorable and heartbreaking.


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BOOK REVIEW: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – by Jonathan Safran Foer


Title: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
First published: April 4th 2005
Finished reading: June 16th 2014
Pages: 326

Rating 4

“I felt, that night, on that stage, under that skull, incredibly close to everything in the universe, but also extremely alone. I wondered, for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it? What’s so horrible about being dead forever, and not feeling anything, and not even dreaming? What’s so great about feeling and dreaming?”


Various people have recommended Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close to me over the past few months, and I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go. Some may not appreciate the way Jonathan Safran Foer told this story of a young boy and a grandfather both trying to coope with a traumatic event and a terrible loss. But for me the way we see the world through the eyes of the curious boy slash inventor slash detective is endearing. And although you might think it’s hard to feel symphathy for the ‘speechless’ grandfather, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. A great read and definitely recommended if you don’t mind entering the mind of a confused but brilliant and curious kid. I’ll be reading more from Jonathan Safran Foer in the future for sure!


I’ll make the summary short since it’s hard to explain the book without revealing too much… The main character Oskar is a young boy trying to grow up, confused about a lot of things in life and wanting to understand everything. He asks a million questions per day and is always inventing things in his mind just to try and make the world a better place. But one day his world collapses as his father dies during the 9/11 attack… Oskar seems unable to coope with his feelings, or what he calls heavy boots, and both his mother and grandmother fail in consoling him the way he needs. One day his eyes fix on a blue vase and when he breaks by accident, he discovers an envelope with Black written on it by his father. Inside he finds a key, but no clue as to what it opens. Oskar decides to go on a quest to find out more about the key, planning to visit every single person with the last name Black in NYC. He doesn’t want to accept his father is really gone, and thinks the person that knows more about the key might give him a better explanation of what really happened to his dad…

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is also about man called Thomas Schnell, who we follow in Dresden and later in New York. A man who had lost the ones he loved during the bombings in Dresden in 1945, and from then on was afraid to love or be loved. And he became a man who was slowly losing his speech. Soon Thomas can only communicate with others through his written words, and fills books and books with words and feelings used in daily life. He is the man that would be the grandfather of Oskar, but also the man that would disappear before Oskar’s father would be born… And the man that has YES and NO tatooed on his left and right hand, even though life itself isn’t that simple.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is not the typical book, but it is without doubt worth reading. I myself loved the prose Safran Foer used to describe both Oskar and his grandfather, and Oskar’s search for more information about his father is endearing. Interesting read!