YVO’S SHORTIES #38: The Masked City & Every Heart A Doorway

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two Tor books and two books belonging to a series. The first a sequel, The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman, which I enjoyed slightly better than the first book, but still didn’t manage to convince me. The second, Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire, was absolutely wonderful and I’m glad I finally did pick it up.


Title: The Masked City
(The Invisible Library #2)
Author: Genevieve Cogman

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
First published: December 3rd 2015
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: August 7th 2018 
Pages: 340

“People want stories. You should know that, more than anybody.”


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I  admit I wasn’t completely convinced by the first book when I read it last year, mostly because the whole just felt a bit too chaotic and too many different elements trying to be squeezed into one story. I picked up the sequel anyway, both because I was curious to see how things would continue and because it fitted the Magical Readathon challenge… While things did improve and the story seemed to be more coherent, I still wish more focus would have been on the Library. This element is one of the most unique features of this story, and I think any booklover out there would love to see more of it. In The Masked City, there is a lot going on: we have werewolves, dragons, fae and magic, the story is partly set in Venice… But somehow I feel the spark is missing? The whole thing actually felt a bit dull and rather slow-paced for a story about magical creatures and a plot to start a war that might destroy an alternate world or two. I did love the fact that part of the story was set in Venice, the idea of different chaos/order infested words and both the worldbuilding and plot have potential. I’ll probably end up reading the next book at some point since I already own a copy… But the first two books didn’t convince me enough to do so straight away.


Title: Every Heart A Doorway
(Wayward Children #1)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mystery
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: August 11th 2018
Pages: 176

“The duality of the phrase was like the duality of the doors: they changed lives, and they destroyed them, all with the same, simple invitation.”


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After Ali mentioned this book in one of her posts, I had no other choice but to stop procrastinating and start reading Every Heart A Doorway. I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I first heard about it, and it looks like first impressions sometimes really hit the right spot. What a wonderful wonderful read! My only complaint would be that I wish the story would have been longer, because there is so much to love and only a limited amount of pages to do so. The idea of different realities, belonging to different directions like Nonsense, Logic and Wicked is simply fascinating and I love how each world is reflected in the different characters as well. For such a short read, the character development is sublime and part of the reason this story works so well. Nancy, Sumi, Kade, Jack and Jill… I just loved the diversity of the characters, and I can really appreciate the inclusion of lgbt elements. The mystery around the deaths gives the story a purpose and direction, giving you something to hold onto while you try to absord everything about the different worlds. A shame we only get a glimpse of the worlds the characters once lived in, but as far as I can see the sequels will give us more. I’m already looking forward to see more of these characters!


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ARC REVIEW: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past – by Paul Cude

Title: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past
Author: Paul Cude

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
First published: October 19th 2011
Finished reading: September 29th 2017
Pages: 486
DNF at 49% (238 pages)

“The valuable lesson you should have learned, was that evil comes in many guises, not always visible to everyone.”

*** 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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It’s easy to say I have a weak spot for any story involving dragons as they are my favorite of mythical creatures. This story had me at the title, because how could I resist a new fantasy series where dragons play such a big role? I was really looking forward to start reading Bentwhistle The Dragon, and even though it took me longer than planned to actually pick it up my initial excitement was still there. That’s why it’s such a shock I had to make the hard decision to DNF this story. Because let’s face it: that almost never happens… But honestly, I’ve tried. Really tried. I’m not saying the writing is bad and it truly shows just how much time is put into the detailed and extensive descriptions and worldbuilding in general. This attention to detail is what stands out in this story and I can always appreciate when this much time is dedicated to creating a believable and well developed fantasy world. BUT. The thing is, the pace is supersuperSUPER slow and I just couldn’t get myself to keep interest. I don’t mind a slower pace if I get detailed descriptions in return, but I think in the case of Bentwhistle The Dragon it was kind of a description overdose. One superlong and extensive description after the other kind of had the reverse effect on me and instead of finding myself intrigued by a story about my favorite mythical creature, I was actually rather bored by it all. Because I have to be honest and say that nothing much really happens during the first half of the story especially considering it has over 200 pages. I definitely would have expected a lot more action or at least some suspense… I don’t think the age group would be happy with so many descriptions or the lack of action either, and I felt the tone was off for a YA story (too ‘formal’?). All in all Bentwhistle The Dragon definitely wasn’t for me, and unfortunately I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading all those extensive descriptions hoping something exciting would happen in the second half. Especially since I found the mystery and ‘dangerous’ situation not suspenseful at all and to be honest rather lacking for what is labeled as a fantasy adventure story… I’m sad to see this dragon story on my very short list of DNF reads.

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Dragons have walked among humans for a long time, and nobody seems to be aware of them… Because the dragons are disguised as humans and live among them, infiltrating the human world in key positions to guide and protect them. They can change forms at will, although dragons are always careful to not reveal their secrets. But something is off, and it might be up to three young dragons to put a stop to it before it’s too late… Will they be able to?

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I had really high hopes for Bentwhistle The Dragon, and that’s why it makes me extra sad I had to make the though decision to DNF it. This almost never happens, but I struggled so much with the endless descriptions and superslow pace that I just couldn’t get myself to read the second part as well. I was really surprised by the lack of action as well, especially since it’s labeled as a fantasy adventure story… The worldbuilding is excellent and extensive, but in this case it might have been too much detail and the balance between plot/action and description was lost. Such a shame! I really wanted to enjoy this one.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Library – by Genevieve Cogman

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Title: The Invisible Library
(The Invisible Library #1)
Author: Genevieve Cogman

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery
First published: January 15th 2015
Publisher: Tor UK
Finished reading: March 4th 2017
Pages: 337

“She was a Librarian, and the deepest, most fundamental part of her life involved a love of books. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to shut the rest of the world out and have nothing to worry about except the next page of whatever she was reading,”

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I actually picked up this title on a whim since I needed a break from my ARCs and didn’t realize this was actually the first book of a series. Oops?! The title spoke to me when I was browsing my kindle, and I guess I was in the mood for a book about books. What I didn’t realize either is that The Invisible Library is actually a full blown science fiction/fantasy read stuffed with magic and mythical creatures like vampires, fae, werewolves and dragons. Definitely a surprise! The worldbuilding is without doubt interesting and I loved the idea behind the Librarians and Language, but in general the inclusion of so many different elements ended up feeling a bit chaotic. I also felt the many science fiction/steampunk and fantasy elements actually distracted from the originial Library idea and in a way it’s a shame… Because those descriptions are basically every booklover’s dream. The pace in The Invisible Library is also quite slow, making it harder to properly enjoy the story. I’m not saying this book actually is a bad read, but I did feel it didn’t reach its full potential and I wish the Library elements would have played a bigger role. I wasn’t completely sure about all the characters either; while I liked Kai and Vale, Irene didn’t manage to convince me. I will most likely still read the sequel at some point though to see if the Library itself gets more attention in that one.

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Irene is a Librarian and works for the mysterious Library, which harvests books from different realities. It’s her job to find rare copies of those books no matter what, and she is about to start a new mission. But she won’t be going alone this time… Her supervisor sends her to an alternative London along with Kai so he can get some field experience. This normally means easy missions, so Irene is surprised when she finds out that their book is actually potentially dangerous. And even worse: when they arrive, it’s already been stolen… And it won’t be easy to get it back, especially since this particular alternative London is also chaos-infested. An impossible mission or simply a challenge?

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I can’t deny The Invisible Library has a lot of potential and I loved the Library/Language elements, but I felt there were just too many different elements stuffed into one story to make sense. The Library and its magic, mythical creatures, science fiction/steampunk, detective, secret societies, an evil villain… All those elements sound great separately, but when they are all thrown together they start to distract from what is essentially the most original part of the plot. All in all not a bad read, but not as good as I was hoping for.


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ARC REVIEW: Firebolt – by Adrienne Woods

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Title: Firebolt
(The Dragonian #1)
Author: Adrienne Woods
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: November 17th 2013
Finished reading: October 10th 2015
Pages: 394
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“If your mind and heart are in the same place, you can do whatever you want.”

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

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Laura at LaLa’s Blog contacted me last month with the question if I wanted to receive an e-copy of Firebolt in exchange for an honest review (with the permission of the author Adrienne Woods). As soon as I saw the blurb and read it was about dragons, I was sold. Fantasy stories with dragons are among my favorites and Firebolt turned out to be even better than I was originally hoping for. I loved the idea of dragons being some kind of ‘shapeshifters’ and both dragons and humans attending the same magic school. The worldbuilding is excellently done and with a fast pace and easy-to-read prose this first book in The Dragonian series is without doubt a quick and entertaining read. I do have to comment that some aspects of the story are a bit predictable and the novel ended with a big cliffhanger, but those were only minor setbacks in an otherwise solid story. I will definitely continue this series as I’m really curious what is going to happen with the main characters and their world. Recommended if you enjoy YA fantasy novels!

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Elena Watkins doesn’t really believe in fairy tales, but her whole world is about to change as her father tells her they have to leave their home yet again. She thinks her dad is only paranoid, but it turns out he had an excellent reason to be on the run… And that night she sees her own father turn into a dragon to fight off more of these mythical creatures. Her father was killed and Elena now finds herself in a whole new world she doesn’t really understand; she has a hard time taking it all in. Dragons and magic actually exist, those dragons can take a human form and she will have to attend a new magical school as well… And to make things worse, an evil sorcerer might be trying to make his comeback. How will she deal with all this?

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I had some minor problems with Firebolt that prevented me from giving it the full five stars, but it is easy to say that I more than enjoyed this read. I love dragons in general and I really enjoyed picturing Adrienne Woods‘ version of them. The shapeshifter element is a nice twist and I liked the fact that the humans can learn to bond and ride with them. Some parts of the plot were quite predictable (I won’t go into details to avoid spoilers), but the plot and worldbuilding were interesting enough for me to forget about it. If you like YA fantasy novels and enjoy dragon stories as much as I do, make sure to check out this series!

BOOK REVIEW: Seriously Wicked – by Tina Connolly

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Title: Seriously Wicked
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: May 5th 2015
Finished reading: August 7th 2015
Pages: 208
Rating 2

“When you’re enslaved to a wicked witch, you end up thinking fast to keep all the weird witchy things a secret. Not always good fast, but fast.”

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I decided to pick up Seriously Wicked mostly because I was in the mood for a light and easy read. The blurb sounded promising, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations. I was expecting a witty fantasy read, but the characters were quite bland and almost cartoon-like. It was very hard to relate to them and I didn’t really care what was happening to them either… The plot was both uninspiring and not credible and I wasn’t a fan of the prose. I guess this novel by Tina Connolly was quite a quick read, but unfortunately that is about the only good thing I can say about it. A girl growing up with a witch and having to do as she pleases; it has a lot of potential, but I didn’t like the execution. Such a shame, because I was looking forward to this read!

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Camellia has been adopted when she was little and her mother wants her to grow up to be just like her. The problem: her mother is a terrible witch. Cam doesn’t want to be a witch, but she is forced to run errands for the witch anyway. She is used to her adopted mother trying to take over the world, but this time it’s about to get out of hand… The witch tries to summon a demon, and things start to go terribly wrong. The demon takes control over the new kid at school named Devon, who suddenly turns into an overconfident teenager. Will Cam be able to stop the demon and save Devon’s soul on time?

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When I first read the blurb, I thought Seriously Wicked sounded really promising. I ended up being mostly disappointed by it. It is quite a short read, but I didn’t enjoy the prose, plot OR characters and it took me longer than necessary to finish this novel. I think the main problem is that the plot and characters are not exactly credible and lacked dept. The prose was mostly mediocre as well, although the general story idea did show some potential… Still, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one.