BOOK REVIEW: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 27th 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Finished reading: February 4th 2017
Pages: 343
Rating 3,5qqq

“Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.”

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I’ve been wanting to pick up another Patrick Ness novel ever since I finished The Knife Of Never Letting Go, but somehow it took me 18 months to finally do so. I’ve heard a lot of people say The Rest Of Us Just Live Here isn’t his strongest work, and now I’ve read it I probably agree. But hey, he sure sets the quality bar to an Olympic high with his other books! I was really looking forward to this one and maybe my own expectations were simply too high, but I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I would be. But like I said: he might just be a victim of his own success… The Rest Of Us Just Live Here wasn’t a bad story and I enjoyed reading the prose as always. I do have to say I struggled with the chapter introductions in the beginning (mostly because I couldn’t connect them to the actual chapters), but that might just be explained by the fact I wasn’t in the mood for fantasy. This story is kind of a contemporary/paranormal/urban fantasy story and I liked the mix of reality and fictional elements. It was interesting to read about the group of friends trying to live their lives as crazy stuff was happening around them; that’s probably the true charm of this story. It did take me a lot longer than expected to finish it though…

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Weird, dangerous things are happening, but that doesn’t mean the group of friends have to do anything about it. That’s up to the Chosen Ones. The ones that are supposed are fight zombies, soul-eating ghosts, bloodsucking vampires or whatever new is happening at the moment. But somehow the group of friends end up getting involved in the newest situation anyway. What are those blue lights exactly? And are they in danger?

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No, this book is by no means a bad read. I’ve just been spoiled by the Chaos Walking series, that’s all. It took me a while to warm up to The Rest Of Us Just Live Here and its characters, and that might just be the reason it took me longer than planned to finish reading it as well. The relation between the chapter introductions and the rest of the story was a bit confusing at the beginning… I think I might reread the introductions alone some day to see if I enjoy them better as a ‘separate novella’. All in all this one might just be the best book to start with if you haven’t read Patrick Ness‘ books yet; that way things will only get better!


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BOOK REVIEW: Rebel Of The Sands – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Rebel Of The Sands
(Rebel Of The Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: February 13th 2017
Pages: 320
Rating 4,5qqq

“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”

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Dear Rebel Of The Sands, why have I managed to ignore you for nearly a year?! I’m still kicking myself for not picking up this first book of a fantastic new YA fantasy series… But I guess it does mean I can read the sequel straight away! I admit I have heard mixed things about this story in the past, and that might just be why I was so hesitant to pick it up in the first place. I normally tend to have bad luck with popular books, but I’m glad that Rebel Of The Sands has proven to be an exception. I’m glad I finally gave this story a chance and I loved even better than expected! I’ve basically fallen in love with the worldbuilding, characters and writing style from the beginning… Alwyn Hamilton writes in a way that draws you right in and even though the whole strong-female-character thing in YA fantasy isn’t all that original, I was thoroughly charmed by Amani anyway. Together with Jin, Shazad and many other characters she managed to win over my heart and I had a blast following them on their journey through the desert. The worldbuilding is so interesting! I’ve heard complains about the ‘mythical’ being lost by the ‘western’ feel of the descriptions and some of the scenes, but I personally really liked the mix of two different elements. Great prose and characters, interesting plot and worldbuilding, lots of action, a healthy dose of action and magic: Rebel Of The Sands has all the ingredients to enchant you.

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Amani Al’Hiza lives in the small desert town of Dustwalk and basically learned to shoot like an expert when she was only a little girl. There is not much to do in Dustwalk and Amani has become a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim… But that won’t help her escape before she either loses her freedom or her life. When another bad decision brings her to a shooting contest, she meets the mysterious foreigner Jin. Amani sees him as the perfect escape route, although it won’t be easy to escape with both their lives… And she definitely didn’t imagine escaping riding a mythical horse she didn’t know still existed. And she will soon learn a whole lot more about her country as they try to find their way to safety.

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Thank you Traitor To The Throne for finally making me read the first book! I’m so glad I was approved for an ARC of the sequel, because I still feel I have been missing out by not reading Rebel Of The Sands sooner. I know this story has a lot of mixed reviews, but if you ask me it’s definitely worth the try. This series has the perfect combination of interesting worldbuilding, great characters and well written prose; the magic and mythical elements make Rebel Of The Sands into something special. I will be looking forward to read more about Amani and Jin’s adventures for sure!


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ARC REVIEW: Stake-out – by Lily Luchesi

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Title: Stake-out
(Paranormal Detectives #1)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: January 25th 2017
Pages: 128
Rating 3,5qqq

“Who would’ve guessed that, in this world, there were vampires, werewolves and specters lurking around every corner; that evil witches who lived for centuries were being burned to to death a few miles away?”

*** 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 confess I’m normally not a fan of vampire stories and tend to stay away from them, especially since I seem to dislike about 99% of them. But when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read the Paranormal Detectives series, something about the description caught my attention and I decided to give it a go. And even though I’m normally allergic to fanged characters, I enjoyed Stake-out a lot better than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the vampire element didn’t seem to bother me, which can probably explained by the fact that the vampires are properly scary without all the ‘sparkling’ and cheesiness. I found Stake-out quite a refreshing story and I liked that it had other supernatural creatures; the vampire/creature hunting is a very interesting angle as well. The story was both easy and entertaining to read, although I do have to admit the amount of question marks used can get a bit annoying. The plot and characters make up for it though, and I loved the flashbacks/past life subplot. If you like a good paranormal fantasy story that isn’t fluffy or overly romantic, Stake-out is without doubt a great choice. I will be reading and reviewing both sequels soon!

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When Detective Danny Mancini finds out the murder suspect he is following is actually a 200 year old rogue vampire, nobody actually believes him. The department put him on early retirement despite his many years of service, and things are getting worse from there. Then, two years later, the beautiful Detective Angelica Cross shows up at his doorstep and offers him to join a secret branch of the FBI. She wants him to track down Vincent, the vampire that ended is career two years ago. But Danny’s new life will need some time getting used to…

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Stake-out isn’t just another vampire story. Sure, vampires play a big role, but the plot is more about hunting supernatural creatures and following the main character Danny as he slowly comes to terms with his new world working for the secret branch of the FBI. I especially enjoyed the flashbacks and past life elements and I will be looking forward to find out how the story continues.


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BOOK REVIEW: Unhooked – by Lisa Maxwell

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Title: Unhooked
Author: Lisa Maxwell

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: January 22nd 2017
Pages: 352
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“Hers might never be calm or easy paintings, but those canvases are the way she keeps herself centered. She needs to create, or she will lose herself bit by bit to her fears and delusions.”

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I had this book by Lisa Maxwell on my radar for a long time, so I was really excited when I saw it was offered as one of the free reads at RivetedLit. I read a sample of Unhooked some time last year and remember being thoroughly impressed by the beginning of this Peter Pan retelling. I was more than excited to be finally continuing this story, but as things advanced and the revamped Neverland worldbuilding was revealed things fell a little flat for me. The beginning was without doubt the strongest part of this book even though it has a minimum amount of ‘magical’ elements. The rest just didn’t live up to expecations… It might be the hint at a love triangle, it might be the whiney main character, but I didn’t enjoy Unhooked as much as I thought I would. The writing style was very enjoyable to read in general; the pace was fast in the beginning, but slowed down considerably later on despite the action scenes. In fact, it took me a lot longer than expected to read it and I barely finished it on the last day the book was available. Such a shame, because it sounded so promising!

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Gwendolyn Allister has been on the run her whole life, all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. This time her fear has brought them to London, far away from the life she had trying to build for the last two years, but luckily she will still have her best friend Olivia with her for the summer… Their vacation won’t be what they were expecting though; both Gwen and Olivia end up being kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world that cannot be real. Has Gwen’s mother been right all this time after all? Gwen finds himself in Neverland, but it’s nothing like the original stories. Will she find a way to rescue Olivia and go back to her own world before it’s too late?

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I have to admit, both the cover, blurb and preview had me literally ‘hooked’. I was really looking forward to continue reading Unhooked, but unfortunately the story started to fall flat for me as I continued reading and discovering more about the revamped Neverland. It’s not that I don’t like the mixed up ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but both the romance and some of the main characters were really starting to get on my nerves. The ending wasn’t really satisfying either… What was a very promising and enjoyable start with a spark, soon started to sizzle out and didn’t manage to convince me in the end.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds – by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: The Darkest Minds
(The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: December 18th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: January 21st 2017
Pages: 499
Rating 4qqq

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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I still can’t believe it took me more than TWO years to finally pick up my copy of The Darkest Minds. I’ve been wanting to start this series for ages, but somehow I always ended up picking up a different title instead. But no longer. Now I’ve finally read the first book of this series Alexandra Bracken has me hooked. No more escape for the sequels, because I will be reading them VERY soon for another dose of my favorite Psi characters. I can definitely undestand what all the hype is about now… Sure, the plot isn’t all that original with its dystopian world where kids and teenagers develop a ‘superbrain’ and special powers. But it WAS written back in 2012 so I definitely kept that in mind. And more importantly, this story was just way too entertaining to worry about  the originality in the first place. I liked the main characters and their development, although little Zu is probably my absolute favorite. Ruby on the other hand can come over as a bit whiney at points, but I guess she did have some complicated memories to deal with… Another great feature of The Darkest Minds is without doubt the writing style and pace. The prose was so enjoyable to read and the story itself reads like a train. All in all a promising start of what has all the signs of being a great series!

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When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed even though she didn’t realize it at first. She found out soon enough when her parents locked her up in the garage and called the police instead of celebrating Ruby’s birthday with her. Instead, she was sent to the Thurmond camp along with all the other children who survived the mysterious disease and showed signs of having the new frightening abilities they could not control… And life at Thurmond is tough. Ruby is now sixteen and one of the dangerous ones. They put her in the wrong group when she arrived, saving her life at first but putting her in danger if the truth comes out. She has to escape, but that will only be possible with help from the inside…

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Like I said before, I feel really bad about not picking up this series earlier. As I already suspected, I really enjoyed reading The Darkest Minds and I will be reading the sequels (or at least the second book) next month without fail. Both the writing style and character are easy to like and even though the plot might not be all that original, I enjoyed diving into this dystopian world anyway. Recommended for YA dystopian fans!


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ARC REVIEW: Down The Rabbit Hole – by Julia Crane

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Title: Down The Rabbit Hole
Author: Julia Crane

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: December 3rd 2016
Publisher: Valknut Press
Finished reading: December 18th 2016
Pages: 230
Rating 2,5qqq

“No one is fully evil. You just have to try harder to be good.”

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

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I have to confess it has been 15-20 years since I last read the original Alice In Wonderland, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love reading a good retelling of the story. It’s easy to say I was especially excited to have my wish granted at Netgalley! I was really looking forward to pick up my copy of Down The Rabbit Hole, but I’m sad to say I didn’t live up to expectations. I remember how happy I was when I first found out it was a retelling, but my initial excitement slowly turned into disappointment. The story started out promising enough and Alice is without doubt an interesting character. Down The Rabbit Hole had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it fell flat as soon as Lacie’s character makes her appearance. The POV switches between the two sisters, but the Lacie chapters are weak and I could’t warm up to her character. To make things worse, there are a lot of innecessary romance scenes (including annoying tropes like insta-love and love triangle) included that that didn’t add anything to the plot. I also found the ending a little too ‘weird’ to my taste… Although the general idea behind the story is without doubt intriguing. That said, Down The Rabbit Hole wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and unfortunately not in a good way. If you don’t mind cheesy romance scenes and a little weird, you will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did though.

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Two sisteres are bound by blood, but separated by magick… Alice lives in Wonderland with her so-called mother the Red Queen, and years of pain and illusion have messed with her mind. She is quite unpredictable and can turn out to be very dangerous… She has watched her twin sister Lacie for years with great envy, although Lacie doesn’t even know she exists. Lacie has been living on Earth for all those years unaware of her destiny, but that will change soon as the date of the prophecy comes closer. According to the prophecy, only one of the twin sisters will survive… Who will it be, or do they find a way around the prophecy?

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I really liked the sound of Down The Rabbit Hole and I always enjoy reading a good retelling. The story started out promising enough, but fell flat as soon as Lacie was introduced. From that point the story was basically a bunch of cheesy romance scenes sprinkled with a little magic that wasn’t enough for me to keep my interest. The ending was a little too weird as well, and quite abrupt. I wish I could have enjoyed this story better, but Down The Rabbit Hole definitely wasn’t for me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Picture Of Dorian Gray – by Oscar Wilde

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Title: The Picture Of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 20th 1890
Publisher: Random House
Finished reading: December 15th 2016
Pages: 254
Rating 4qqq

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

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I have been neglecting my classics way too much this year, so I decided to try and make up for it in this last month of 2016. The Picture Of Dorian Gray has been one of those classics that has been on my radar for a while now, especially since so many fellow bloggers seem to have enjoyed this classic. Now I’ve finally read this novel by Oscar Wilde, I can understand why. Reading classics can normally tend to present quite a challenge, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read The Picture Of Dorian Gray even though it has been written back in the 19th century. The first part is probably the strongest of the story, as the pace slowed down considerably in the middle with the appearance of a lot of long ‘pointless’ lists where Dorian went on and on about random things. Thankfully the pace picked up again later on and the final part is almost as good as the beginning. In general I had a great time reading this classics and it is without doubt a fast-paced and well written story that can entertain us even today. Recommended!

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When Dorian Gray sees the finished portrait Basil Hallward has painted of him, he has such a fear of growing old and unattractive he decides to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Dorian seems to have switched places with the portrait; he doesn’t seem to age a day, while the portrait is affected by all he does is life… And it is something that might destroy him in the end.

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I’ve had mixed experiences with reading classics in the past, but The Picture Of Dorian Gray has turned out to be one of those exceptions. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story, and how fast-paced and how easy it was to relate to the story. There is quite a strong message behind the beautiful prose and intriguing plot, and it is without doubt one that can be connected to the 21st century as well. If you are looking for an interesting classic that mostly reads like a train, The Picture Of Dorian Gray is an excellent choice.