YVO’S SHORTIES #44 – I Let You Go & Hex Hall

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two books with a similar color combination in the cover, but two completely different genres. The first, I Let You Go, is one of those psychological thrillers I’ve been meaning to pick up for years, but only just did so. Hex Hall on the other hand is not my typical genre, but I ended up enjoying it way more than expected.


Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 6th 2014
Publisher: Sphere
Finished reading: August 30th 2018
Pages: 371

“I was stupid to think I could escape the past. However fast I run, however far: I will never outrun it.”


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The fact is that I have been meaning to read this psychological thriller for years, especially since I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it. I’m not sure if it was the original hype around I Let You Go making me set my expectations too high or this being unpopular opinion time again, but sadly I didn’t end up having the reading experience I was expecting. Why? There is no doubt that this psychological thriller is well written and there are some clever twists included that will mislead you. That said, I did encounter a few problems along the way that made me enjoy the story less. The biggest obstacle was the fact that I guessed the big reveal really early on… It was just too easy to figure out the key information after the initial surprise was revealed, and this was quite a let down for me. I also had problems with the two leading detectives of the case; I couldn’t warm up to them and I always hate cheating main characters. The pace was quite slow in points as well, although it did pick up in the second half of I Let You Go. I did like the setting in Penfach and the beach atmosphere… And while at times disturbing to read, I appreciated I Let You Go shining a light on what domestic abuse can do to a person. But sadly overall I can’t say I was all that impressed by this story.


Title: Hex Hall
(Hex Hall #1)
Author: Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 2nd 2010
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: August 31st 2018
Pages: 323

“Humans are always going to be scared of us. They’re always going to be envious of our powers, and suspicious of our motives.”


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I have to admit I was a bit nervous to pick up Hex Hall, both because it’s not my typical genre and I was afraid there would be too much romance involved. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about, and this first book of a magical series was a pleasant surprise. I still can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story despite a love triangle and the presence of a vampire! There is just something about the writing style that draws you right in and makes you fly through the pages. I literally finished this story in one sitting. Highly entertaining, addictive and just enough magic and supernatural atmosphere to keep that delicate balance with the romance elements. I loved Jenna’s character and while Sophie does come over as a bit annoying at times and there were cliches involved, somehow it just didn’t matter to me. The mystery around the attacks, the magic, Hecate Hall itself, the different supernatural characters… It just all clicked in a way that turned Hex Hall into a very successful and very entertaining ride. I’m definitely looking forward to book two!


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ARC REVIEW: All Things Bright And Strange – by James Markert @tnzfiction

Title: All Things Bright And Strange
Author: James Markert
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian, Magical Realism
First published: January 30th 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: February 28th 2018
Pages: 336

“The beauty of the Bellhaven woods was like a desert mirage – an optical phenomenon inviting trouble, an illusion of light rays that disguised the truth.”

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. ***

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There is just something about the cover that immediately intrigued me, and this book has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. After I finished another book by the same author, What Blooms From Dust, I just knew I had to read All Things Bright And Strange as soon as possible. Magical realism can kind of be a hit or miss for me depending on how the elements are developed, but I really like how James Markert incorporates them into his stories. All Things Bright And Strange is another example of how I can actually really enjoy magical realism when it’s done right. The story starts out as a typical historical fiction read mostly set in the years after WWI. The main character, Ellsworth, is a WWI veteran along with several other characters, while others have lost someone during the war. I think this is probably my favorite element and the after effects of the war are very well described in the different veterans. A very important topic as well since there isn’t enough awareness when it comes to what veterans are going through! Grumpy Ellsworth really grows on you and he even reminded me a bit of Fredrik Backman‘s Ove (HUGE compliment!). The characters in general are well developed and each plays its role in the events in Bellhaven. Some of their names even have special meanings… But that is something for you to discover as you are reading it  to avoid spoiling surprises. The magical elements mix quite nicely with the historical fiction parts, and the author did a great job creating the right atmosphere for the time period. And the descriptions of the chapel in the woods are wonderful. BUT. There was way too much religious talk to my taste, and All Things Bright And Strange should be classified as Christian fiction. True, a lot of different religions are making their appearance in the story, creating diversity, but I simply feel there was too much religious talking going on and some of it sounded almost like preaching. Which is why I ended up enjoying this one less than What Blooms From Dust, but if you don’t mind a healthy dose of religion in your story, you will enjoy it even better than I did. The descriptions of the strange things that are happening in Bellhaven are simply magical.

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The people of Bellhaven have always looked up to Ellsworth Newberry, asking for his guidance whenever problems arise in town. But after he lost his wife in the town fire and he came back from the war with his hopes for a future as a professional pitcher destroyed, he hasn’t been the same old self. Then he finally sees something strange is going on in Bellhaven… A small chapel is discovered deep in the Bellhaven woods, and it seems to have mysterious healing powers. People keep returning to find peace of mind, but is the chapel really a miracle or a potential problem in disguise?

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When I started reading All Things Bright And Strange, I actually thought I was going to enjoy it even better than What Blooms From Dust. Between the WWI veteran element and grumpy Ellsworth himself, it had all the signs of becoming a true winner… I mean, I even compared Ellsworth to one of my all time favorite characters Ove (A Man Called Ove). These feelings stayed for a long time, but slowly something started to irk me. I’m not a fan of a high dose of religious elements in a story, especially when it starts to sound like preaching. And there just was too much of it in All Things Bright And Strange… Especially in the second half. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I would have liked to see a label calling it Christian fiction. The writing is wonderful though with lots of magical descriptions and a well developed historical setting.


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ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Whispers – by Kimberley Starr

Title: The Book Of Whispers
Author: Kimberley Starr

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 3rd 2016
Publisher: Text Publishing
Finished reading: June 15th 2017
Pages: 386

“I have a voice, I have words. I run to a future where there’s the possibility of using them.”

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

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I admit I have a weird obsession with any title that has the word ‘book’ or anything book-related in them, so combined with a stunning cover The Book Of Whispers was immediately on my radar. I requested a copy of this story mostly based on this obsession, and didn’t realize before I started reading it that it had such a low Goodreads rating OR the fact that demons play such a big role in the story. To be honest, now I reread the blurb I don’t understand how I could have missed that part… Because what I thought would be a historical (medieval) fiction about a mysterious book actually turned out to be more of a demon-infested fantasy read. Stories involving demons are always  a hit or miss for me, so I guess I have myself to blame for that part… It wasn’t just the demon overload that didn’t work for me though, but also the way they were incorporated into the story. Especially in the beginning this mix of historical and fantasy felt awkward and the many many descriptions of the demons and all their strange forms slowed down the pace considerably. Trust me, there were many many eyebrow raises before the story started to flow better! Luckily the book itself made its appearance quite early on; otherwise I’m not sure if I would have decided to continue this story. I liked the medieval setting and the crusade and the idea behind The Book Of Whispers is without doubt an interesting and original one. I appreciate what the author wanted to do by mixing a traditional crusade story with fantasy and its complexity when trying to balance those elements; I just didn’t enjoy actually reading it. Mind, this could have been just me and my aversion to demons… Although I had a hard time connecting to the writing style or characters as well. Apart from the awkward demon descriptions that slowed down the pace, the writing style in general didn’t flow and felt a bit like trying to drive a car that is running out of fuel. This haltered feel did fade away a bit towards the ending, but all in all I struggled considerably reaching the final page. As for the characters: like I said, I had a hard time connecting to them and some of them were quite annoying. I liked that the demons were connected to the seven sins, but some of the characters were basically caricatures of those sins and maybe not that credible. Also, the romance. Boy, did I struggle with that feature. I know I’m almost never a fan, but besides the fact that this story has a love triangle, I found the romance in general didn’t feel credible at all and mostly a cliche. I can’t go into details without spoilers, but insta-love and all those sappy and cliche descriptions and feelings? Definitely could have done without that. There were some twists though and I liked the historical elements. The ending was interesting enough as well I guess. And there is no doubt this book surprised me, although in my case not in a good way…

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Set in Tuscany, 1096 AD, Luca is the young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi. He has a problem though: he can see demons and has strange dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca is forced to keep this a secret since people either don’t believe him or are afraid of him… But when he sees his father murdered in one of those dreams, he is determined to stop this vision from coming true. This means following him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands against his wishes… But will also be complicated when his father gives him an ancient book that holds a lot of mysteries just before they leave.

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I like stories with a medieval setting and I was definitely looking forward to The Book Of Whispers, but in the end it just wasn’t for me and not just because of the demon overload. The writing style, the demon descriptions, the characters, the romance… There was a lot that unfortunately didn’t work for me and the historical setting couldn’t make up for this. The idea behind The Book Of Whispers is very original though and it must have been a lot of work to mix both elements. There is no doubt this story had a lot of potential…


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ARC REVIEW: Life Sentence – by Lily Luchesi

Title: Life Sentence
(Paranormal Detectives #3)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: July 31st 2017
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: April 15th 2017
Pages: ?

“Not all monsters are murderers. However, all hunters are. Your kind do not understand our ways. You have murdered my friends. You have murdered employees of mine. You have murdered werewolves who fight for king and country in the wars. All because you fear what you cannot understand.”

*** 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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I read the first book of this series back in January and the sequel earlier this month. Life Sentence is the third book in the Paranormal Detectives series and it will also be the last vampire book I will read. Why? I’m simply not a fan of vampires and I seem to be enjoying any story with the mention of these fanged creatures a lot less than others who don’t mind or even like them. It just doesn’t seem fair to the authors to keep reading a genre that doesn’t seem to be a good fit in the first place… So consider this review as my goodbye party to vampire stories. Only the ‘fake’ blood is missing!

Even though I seem to be allergic to vampires, I’v enjoyed this series a lot better than I thought I would. Like I’ve mentioned before, in Paranormal Detectives it’s not just about vampires: werewolves, witches and even demons make their appearance. This third book is an improvement of the second book as well, mostly because the annoying love triangle in book two is no longer in the picture. Once again the many flashbacks to the past were my favorite parts of this story and Danny’s psychic abilities are an interesting twist as well. There is a lot of action and the pace is fast; if you are looking for an entertaining supernatural read you will most likely enjoy this series!

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

After all what happened during their confrontation with Miranda, Angelica and Danny will have to adjust to the many changes in their lives… Both their personal life and at the Paranormal Investigative Division. The previous threat is still hanging above them and they will have to gather all their strength to be able to finally get rid of her forever. But will they adapt to the new reality of their lives? And can this kind of evil be beaten in the first place?

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What I like of this series is that it isn’t just another vampire story. There are a bunch of different supernatural creatures involved and they are actually dangerous like they are supposed to be. Another bonus is that there isn’t a lot of romance involved; the main focus is on the action and history of the main characters. If you like this kind of stories, you are definitely in for a treat!


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ARC REVIEW: The Good Sisters – by Helen Phifer

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Title: The Good Sisters
Author: Helen Phifer

Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Thriller
First published: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Finished reading: October 26th 2016
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“It was once a house of God, but not after  that terrible night. It changed; they let that woman in and it changed their lives for ever.”

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

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During my hunt for creepy Halloween read last year I came across The Good Sisters at Netgalley. The cover looked perfectly spooky and after reading the blurb I was convinced this one would be just right to get into the Halloween mood. And I was right. I’m not saying it’s a full-blown horror read and part of the plot was a bit predictable, but I personally had a blast reading this story by Helen Phifer. The Good Sisters has just the right dose of creepy and mixes historical chapters and horror with romance scenes to lighten up the mood. Perfect for those who don’t like heartstopping and bloodchilling horror! This novel is well written with great descriptions that set the right creepy atmosphere, complete with haunted convent and everything. My favorite chapters would be those set in the past; it was great learning more about what happened when things first started to go wrong. The chapters switch between past and present, but it is done in a way that doesn’t slow down the pace and it’s without doubt an excellent read. Recommended!

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In 1931, Mother Superior Agnes offers sanctuary to a desperate young woman fleeing for her life. They take her in, but there seems to be more to her than meets the eye. The next morning, one of the Sisters is found dead under brutal circumstances in a room locked from the inside. Nobody understands what happened, but Agnes has a feeling she did wrong when she let the woman enter the convent… And she has no idea how far the consequences will reach. Over 80 years later, Kate Parker moves into the old convent with the dream of turning it into a bed and breakfast after renovation. She just came out of a bad marriage and is looking to change her life. She doesn’t know about the convent’s dark history and is determined to stay while the renovations take place, but she soon starts to suspect she is not entirely alone in her new home.

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Sure, the plot is a bit predictable at times and the ending isn’t really a surprise, but personally it didn’t bother me it all. It’s a fast-paced, well written and delightfully creepy story with great descriptions that set the right atmosphere from the beginning. I personally wasn’t blown away by the romantic elements, but they do create a balance with the horror that people who don’t like ‘too creepy’ reads will appreciate. The Good Sisters is without doubt a very entertaining read and and excellent choice if you are looking for your next paranormal horror story.

BOOK REVIEW: Empire Of Storms – by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Empire Of Storms
(Throne Of Glass #5)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Finished reading: October 7th 2016
Pages: 704
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“The fear of loss . . . it can destroy you as much as the loss itself.”

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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead. Those who follow my blog will probably already know that I really enjoyed the first four books of the Throne Of Glass series in the past. The first book had it flaws, but the other three definitely made up for those little things that bothered me. And then I read Empire Of Storms, and I’m not sure what to think about this series anymore. I kept asking myself what on earth happened to the awesomeness I had grown used to… Because this fifth book has turned out to be a mayor disappointment. The story is overlong and most characters are basically a bunch of horny teenagers that want to sleep with each other all the time. What’s with all the romance?!?! It’s almost like Empire Of Storms is written by a different person, because the change is pretty drastic. I used to love Aelin and Manon as a character, but especially Aelin has lost my respect with all the blah romance scenes and Manon was absent for way too long. Sure, there are some pretty mindblowing action scenes and the general plot is interesting enough, but I felt like it missed the spark of the previous books. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that book 6 will be a huge improvement and that it will make up for Empire Of Storms; less romance and more epic battles and magic please! It’s going to be a long wait though, especially after that cliffhanger ending… Sigh.

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

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius… The kingdoms of Erilea are fracturing around her and enemies will have to become allies if Aelin is to protect those she loves from the dark forces that want to claim her world. War is looming everywhere and the only chance for survival lies in a desperate quest that might just destory it all. Will Aelin and her friends be able to find a way to stop the dark power on time?

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I’m not lying: I was expecting another mindblowing sequel when I picked up my copy of Empire Of Storms. Instead, I was faced with an overlong and romance-infested story that just didn’t meet the high standard of the previous sequels. The many many cliche romance scenes made me want to vomit and were basically a huge distraction from the otherwise quite interesting plot. I don’t mind long descriptions (especially since Sarah J. Maas always has excellent prose), but I kept having the feeling the story could have been a lot shorter. I will definitely still read the book 6 when it comes out next year, but I will be keeping my expectations low just to be safe…

BOOK REVIEW: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone – by Laini Taylor

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Title: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone
(Daughter Of Smoke & Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 27th 2011
Finished reading: May 8th 2016
Pages: 418
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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead. I think I have lost count of the times this series has been recommended to me ever since I first started my blog. I’ve had a copy of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone on my TBR pile for a long time, and the main reason I finally decided to pick it up was that it came out as the winner of the which series should I read next? poll. One of the things of starting such a popular series is that it can both ways; and I kind of have an ‘unpopular opinion’ reputation when it comes to hyped books in the first place. And guess what? Daughter Of Smoke & Bone turned out to be one of them. And trust me, I feel I have been nice with the rating, because I had a STRONG dislike for the second half of this book and even thought about just DNFing it. Why? First of all, let me make it clear that I loved the first part of the story. The worldbuilding is great and I simply loved Laini Taylor‘s prose and descriptions of both the different cities and the magical elements. Karou starts out like such an interesting character as well; it’s so easy to connect to her and really made the first part into something special. But then Akiva showed up… And just as I already was afraid of, he turned out to be one of those typical pretty boy male love interests. Insta-love, forbidden love similar to Romeo & Juliet, sappy romance scenes and dialogue, a strong female character falling in love with the pretty boy and completely loses her original charm… What a way to ruin a story with so much potential! I already have a copy of the sequel, but I’m really worried about actually reading it now… Because (the second part of) Daughter Of Smoke & Bone definitely wasn’t for me.

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Karou seems to be just another young art student living in Prague, but there is more to her than what meets the eye. People believe the monsters in her sketchbooks are a figment of her imagination, but is that really true? And what about the fact that she is able to speak multiple languages perfectly, disappears often on mysterous errands and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that way? Karou has seen things most humans haven’t, growing up in a hidden shop where the chimaera Brimstone collects teeth of all sizes he uses for who knows what afterwards. He never seems to want to answer questions about her past, but it seems like she won’t be waiting much longer before she finds out the truth… Mysterious winged strangers mark the different doorways to Brimstone’s world with black hand prints; marking the beginning of the end… And Karou soon has to fight to stay alife. She crosses paths with the beautiful haunted Akiva, who seems to be just as curious to find out what Karou really is. He should and could have killed her, but something makes him decide otherwise… What will happen to them?

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Like I said, I loved the first part of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone and the story was well on its way to being added to my list of all time favorites. Then Akiva appeared and the story was turned into a Romeo and Juliet spin off… And I lost my interest completely. I know it’s almost impossible to avoid romance in a YA fantasy series nowadays, but after such a promising start I was really REALLY disappointed with the road this story took. I was browsing my kindle quotes for this review, and the sheer amount of sappy love quotes made me want to vomit… I know just about everybody seems to love this series and I’m glad, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.