YVO’S SHORTIES #20: The Last Star & With Malice

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time one series finale and a backlist title I randomly picked up… The Last Star by Rick Yancey wasn’t the best experience out there and unfortunately I was already fearing that reaction. Thankfully it does mean I have one less series to finish now! And despite the mixed reviews out there, I ended up really enjoying With Malice by Eileen Cook.


Title: The Last Star
(The 5th Wave #3)
Author: Rick Yancey

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: May 24th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 1st 2018
Pages: 338

“She was the mayfly, here for a day, then gone. She was the last star, burning bright in a sea of limitless black.”


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WARNING: possible rant and unpopular opinion review ahead. DON’T READ if you haven’t read the first two books yet! There might be spoilers.

I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t really looking forward to this one, especially since the first two books were kind of a disappointment for me. But since I already had a copy on my kindle and I’m trying to finish those unfinished series, I decided to give it a go anyway. If anything, I think having such low expectations has helped me actually finish The Last Star. Because unfortunately my suspicions turned out to be right… And I can’t say I had a great time reading this one. The first thing that went wrong was right at the beginning. Why? Let’s just say I nearly stopped reading after the first couple of pages of religious babble. This chapter was completely different in style and tone and frankly kind of ruined the introduction to this final book to me… I know it has some connection to what happens later, but I still think the story would have been better off without it. That said, I had a hard time keeping up with the many POV switches and going back and forth between 2nd and 3rd person… This slowed down the pace considerably and made it even harder to connect to the story. As for the characters… Unfortunately taking a break from the series didn’t change my opinion of them. I can’t stand Cassie or Evan and everything they represent… The icky romance scenes almost made me vomit and the constant ‘wanting for sacrifice’ just didn’t help me warming up to them. In fact, the only character I sort of rooted for was Zombie. But in general, I can’t say I really cared about what happened to them. Which is kind of important in a dystopian story where the main goal is finding out if and how the characters survive everything that is thrown at them. The ending was kind of cheesy as well… The only thing I did like was the non stop action, which at least served to take my mind off other things temporarily. But all in all, this series definitely wasn’t for me.


Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: March 6th 2018
Pages: 320

“Who we are is what comes out when shit goes bad. You can’t tell anything about a person when things are great. If you want to really know someone, be there when everything goes to hell.”


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I picked With Malice on a whim after seeing it mentioned somewhere and liking the little sample I read of the book. I had my doubts since I’ve seen mixed reviews out there, but in this case I think having let the hype die down has worked it its advantage. Because somehow I ended up really enjoying this one. I’m a sucker for a good amnesia angle plot and this one definitely ticked all the right boxes. Amnesia and aphasia played a big role in the story, and I liked how the author not only used it to keep us guessing about what happened, but also showed how it was like for the main character not to remember everything. The writing is engaging and superfast; I literally flew through this one and not just because I wanted to find out what had really happened. Some have compared this story to Dangerous Girls, and I can definitely see With Malice having the same vibe. There are a lot of twists and misinformation surrounding the accident and death of Simone, and with no reliable source of information we are left guessing about what really happened. I really liked the incorporation of police interviews, FB comments and other outside ‘sources’ into the text. A nice little original touch that also helped creating the right atmosphere. Because what the story is trying to tell is right: the truth itself is not as important as what people think is the truth. Did I like Jill? I’m not sure. Was I frustrated by how they treated her? Possibly. Did the whole Italian lover and love triangle angle bother me? Very plausible. But that doesn’t take away I found myself very much entertained while reading this one. Also, interesting ending! Although it can be taken both ways… But still, I was more than pleasantly surprised by With Malice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #3: IT & Armada


A new year and more Yvo’s Shorties! This time a true book monster and a popular science fiction read… I’ve been meaning to read both for ages and finally did so last year. I’m talking about IT by Stephen King and Armada by Ernest Cline


Title: IT
Author: Stephen King 

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: 1986
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: December 4th 2017
Pages: 1.478

“She wanted to scream and couldn’t. The screams were too big to come out.”


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IT is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never actually picked up, mostly due to the extremely intimidating size of this monster. I don’t mind reading big (read: 800+ pages) books, but IT is on a whole different level… But with the movie coming out last year, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to finally read it. I originally started reading IT in October for Halloween, but the slump got me and I wasn’t able to finish it until December. It wasn’t just the slump though that made me take ages to finish this monster. Because I truly feel it is waaaaaaaaay overlong and has way too many details, descriptions and subplots, making the story drag at points. I honestly think that cutting out at least half of the subplots and pages would have made this story that much more creepy and suspenseful… And without doubt also a real pageturner. As it is, I had a hard time making sense of all the different subplots and characters in the beginning, making it hard to actually enjoy reading it. Things did get better as I started to connect the different parts and things got more creepy, but that dragging feel took a lot of the suspense away for me. The writing was excellent and the idea behind the plot brilliant, but unfortunately the overdose of subplots and characters and dragging feel ended up decreasing the rating considerably and in the end IT was only a 3 star story for me.


Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: November 16th 2017
Pages: 384

“I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, comforted by my half-assed self-diagnosis. Nothing but a mild flare-up of inherited nuttiness, brought on by my lifelong dead-dad fixation and somewhat related self-instituted overexposure to science fiction.”


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Armada is another of those books that has been on my radar for a long time… I’ve actually been wanting to read both this one and Ready Player One ever since they first came out, but somehow I never did. Too many books, too little time sounds just about familiar right? Various fellow book lovers recommended reading Armada first, so when I was in the mood for science fiction I finally did so last November. When I first read the blurb I was 100% convinced I would absolutely love this book. I have a weak spot for geeky books and I’m a former gamer myself, so I thought Armada would be spot on for me. That’s why I was so surprised I ended up having a different reaction instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE the writing style and I can see why the right target group would absolutely love this story, but the whole war-alien gaming thing just wasn’t for me. Especially in the beginning I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story, which I found strange since I should have been able to relate at least to the gamer part of it all. Things did get better after the big plot twist bomb about halfway through, and I liked the second half considerably better. But still… I definitely feel this book has a specific target group and unfortunately I don’t belong to that group. Definitely give Armada a go though if you think this story sounds like your cup of tea! The writing will blow your socks off.


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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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BOOK REVIEW: The Ask And The Answer – by Patrick Ness

Title: The Ask And The Answer
(Chaos Walking #2)
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 4th 2009
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
Finished reading: August 7th 2017
Pages: 536

“If you ever see a war,” she says, not looking up from her clipboard, “you’ll learn that war only destroys. No one escapes from a war. No one. Not even the survivors.”

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Ask me why on earth it took me this long to pick up the sequel, and I don’t have an answer. Ask me why I always ended up reading other series instead of continuing with one I had already started and loved, and I don’t have an answer either. The fact is that it took me just about TWO years before I finally opened my copy of The Ask And The Answer (I checked). Like I said before, I really don’t know why because I loved the first book… And have had Patrick Ness on my list of favorite authors ever since. There is one thing I do know though: I won’t wait this long to read the final book. Because The Ask And The Answer has reminded me just how much I enjoyed reading about this dystopian world. True, the slang the men use still bothered me considerably (it’s probably the philologist in me who’s to blame), but that’s my only real complaint. The whole slang use (cuz, yer, thru, addishun, instruckshuns etc. etc) in Todd’s chapters was highly annoying, but I did appreciate the fact that this way it was very easy to distiguish Viola’s chapters, which do have ‘normal’ language. This sequel is quite easy to follow even if you don’t remember all the details of book one. How I can know this? It had been two years since I read The Knife Of Never Letting Go and I didn’t do a reread before starting with The Ask And The Answer; I was able to pick up the storyline quite easily anyhow. I quite enjoyed the sequel and learn about how things continue and see the main characters develop. The writing style is quite unique and apart from the slang I absolutely loved it. I had a great time reading this story and literally flew through the pages… You don’t feel it at all this book has actually 500+ pages. I can’t wait to read book number three now!

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

They thought they would be safe in Haven, but what they found was something completelydifferent. Because instead of fleeing successfully the army that was trying to catch them, Todd has carried Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy. They are separated and imprisoned, forced to see the new way if they want the other to be safe… But can they be sure the other is still alive? Will they be able to escape and be together again?

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It’s been too long since I read the first book, so I can’t properly compare the two… But what I do know is that I enjoyed The Ask And The Answer just as much as the first book. I had once again the same reaction to the slang the men use in Todd’s chapters, which I found mostly highly annoying. That would be my only real complaint though and I still thoroughly enjoyed this sequel. I’m definitely going to read the third and final book soon now!


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ARC REVIEW: Rarity From The Hollow – by Robert Eggleton

Title: Rarity From The Hollow
Author: Robert Eggleton
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: March 11th 2012
Finished reading: August 16th 2015
Pages: 354
Rating 3

“Right is right and wrong is wrong. It’s just like you know in your heart. Good and evil have always been and will always be the balance on which survival of the universe depends.”

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

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I received a copy of Rarity From The Hollow for review and it turned out to be an interesting enough read. It might not be for everyone because of the use of swear words, many sexual references and the use of marijuana, but then again Rarity From The Hollow is supposed to be ‘a children’s story for adults’. The swearing and drug use didn’t really bother me, but some of the sexual references did. Especially the way Lacy Dawn’s parents act around her and talk to her… And I wasn’t really sure what to think of the fact that Lacy Dawn is really young and constantly asks if Dotcom wants to see her panties either. That said, the story in general is quite creative and tells us Lacy Dawn’s adventures  while growing up. Especially the scenes set in Shptiludrp, the largest Shopping Mall in the universe, are quite creative and show an alternative future where materialism corrupts the world even more than the current situation… And the cockroach infestations was a nice twist as well. The pace is fast and makes it easy to read: all in all it was an enjoyable read.

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Lacy Dawn is not an ordinary little girl and she doesn’t live in an ordinary place. With talking trees, the ghost of her best friend and a two thousand year old alien named Dotcom to keep her company, she tries to escape her brutal life at home. Her dad is the violent type and her mom doesn’t know how to protect herself or her daughter… And Lacy Dawn is determined to make them better. But there is a bigger task out there for her; it has been decided many years ago Lacy Dawn is the one that must save the universe. How? There is a cockroach infestation at the Shptiludrp Shopping Mall, the central planet of the universe, and Lacy Dawn has to find a way to get rid of it. But things are not that easy and she will need all the help she can get…

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Rarity From The Hollow is without doubt an intriguing story. The adventures of Lacy Dawn are nothing less than creative and the story is told almost like a diary. I’m not sure I can truly appreciate the prose as the many sexual references, especially those related to the young Lacy Dawn, were actually quite disturbing. But the pace is fast and the rest of the story is definitely interesting. This novel might not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.


Purchase links:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-22910478.html

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow 

BOOK REVIEW: The 5th Wave – by Rick Yancey

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Title: The 5th Wave
(The 5th Wave #1)
Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: May 7th 2013
Finished reading: July 16th 2015
Pages: 592
Rating 2,5

“You know how sometimes you tell yourself that you have a choice, but really you don’t have a choice? Just because there are alternatives doesn’t mean they apply to you.”

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I have been wanting to start The 5th Wave series ever since I first heard about it last year, but somehow something always held me back. I know many people love this series and it had all the signs I would be one of them. Unfortunately, now I’ve read the first book I cannot exactly say I’m a fan. Don’t get me wrong, the first part of The 5th Wave was pretty awesome and definitely lived up to expectations. But then Cassie had to meet Evan. Le sigh. Why o why does a book like this need cheesy romance scenes?! I was completely convinced I was going to love this book, but the scenes between Evan and Cassie made me want to bang my head against the wall. Cassie is supposed to be a survivor and not trust anyone; then she meets Evan, trusts him almost immediately and even falls in love with him? Yeah right. The part where she meets Ben Parish and tries to get her little brother back is not really credible either. I guess I did like the general plot idea and the Rick Yancey‘s prose was pretty good as well. I will also most likely end up reading the sequel at some point, but I think I will have to get over my initial disappointment first…

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The world as we knew it no longer exists. When the aliens first arrived nobody knew what they were planning… It turns out it was nothing good. After the 1st wave, the whole world went dark. The second wave killed a lot of people, and the third one even more. And now, after the 4th wave, only the true survivors are still alive. Their motto: trust no one. They are afraid there will be a 5th wave and the survivors are trying to find a place to hide. Cassie is one of them. She has also a different mission: find her little brother and save him from Them. She is not sure he is still alive; she is not even sure if there are other survivors out there. Beings that only look like humans have been hunting around the countryside killing off the last living humans for a while now… And Cassie feels she needs to stay alone to survive. But is that even possible?

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I really wanted to love this book. I thought I did when I started reading The 5th Wave. But the cheesy romance scenes and sometimes not so credible plot ruined it for me. Rick Yancey writes in a way that is easy to read and the story has a fast pace, but I almost stopped reading every time I reached the scenes with Cassie and Evan. That’s a bad sign for a book I was supposed to love, right? I know a lot of people really enjoyed this series; I’m just not one of them.