ARC REVIEW: Renegade Red – by Lauren Bird Horowitz

Title: Renegade Red
(The Light #2)
Author: Lauren Bird Horowitz

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 14th 2017
Publisher: Papaloa Press
Finished reading: March 7th 2017
Pages: 420

“Some scars are necessary.”

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

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For the longest time, I remember a few fellow bloggers including Ashley and Maren saying lots and lots of wonderful things about the first book in this series (Shattered Blue). In fact, it made me wonder why I didn’t see the series mentioned more often… I admit it took me way too long to make true on my promise to give this series a go, but I’m so glad I finally saw ‘the light’. Because this series is without doubt one of the most underrated ones I’ve read to this date! True, it does have a love triangle and lots of going back and forth between the two ‘candidates’, but somehow Lauren Bird Horowitz made me forgive the story for it. And trust me, it doesn’t happen often I actually tolerate a love triangle. How? You just have to read a little sample of the prose to get an idea. The writing style is lyrical, flows and is simply so beautiful! And not only is this series well written, it also has a fast pace and an interesting plot and main characters… I can definitely undersand the love for this series now, and I will be waiting impatiently for the third book to come out so I can read all three books together. If you like YA romantic fantasy, make sure to check out this series! It’s without doubt a hidden gem.

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

The story continues right where it ended in Shattered Blue… Noa Sullivan jumps into a collapsing Portal desperate to try and rescue her little sister Sasha. Noa and the Fae brothers Callum and Judah will have to find a way to survive, but it’s not only the different world that complicates things… Their search for little Sasha will take them to dangerous and treacherous places and even their own minds will start working against them. The battle has to be fought both on the inside and out; will they be able to succeed before it’s too late?

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This series isn’t exactly widely known and now I’ve had the chance to experience it myself I really don’t understand why it hasn’t received more attention. I’m sticking with my belief that The Light trilogy is probably one of the most underrated series I’ve read so far! The lyrical writing style will manage to put most YA fantasy fans under an instant spell and even though it does have a slightly annoying love triangle, the rest of the story will make up for it. More than recommended!


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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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BOOK REVIEW: The Song Of Achilles – by Madeline Miller

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Title: The Song Of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction
First published: September 20th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Finished reading: February 28th 2017
Pages: 352
Rating 4,5qqq

“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

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To take a little break from my ARC mountain, I decided to pick up one of my Beat The Backlist titles. Basically, I have been wanting to read The Song Of Achilles for YEARS. I still don’t know why I haven’t picked up this modern mythology adaptation of the Achilles and Troyan War story written by Madeline Miller before… Especially since so many fellow booklovers seemed to have enjoyed it and I also I read (part of) Homer‘s Iliad during my Ancient Greek classes back in high school and wanted to revisit the story. The Song Of Achilles surely didn’t disappoint; I can understand the love for this book now! Not only is this a very well written story and a lot more pleasant to read than the Iliad translations I’ve seen around, but the character development is very well done as well and I especially loved Patroclus’ character. The pace is quite slow at points, but I personally didn’t mind and I practically devoured this book. If you like mythology, good stories and want to refresh your memory on the Achilles and Troyan War facts, The Song Of Achilles is an excellent choice!

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Patroclus isn’t exactly the perfect young prince and his awkwardness makes his father very frustrated with him. When he accidently kills another boy, his father exiles him to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Against odds the two princes become friends and as they grow up together their bond grows stronger and stronger, despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother and sea goddess Thetis. One day word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, and Achilles must go to war and fulfull his destiny. Patroclus isn’t exactly a skilled fighter, but he would follow Achilles everywhere including to the distant Troy. What will happen to the two during their journey?

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I think most people are at least vaguely familiar with the details around the Troyan War and Achilles. It’s quite a popular Greek mythology story and popular movies have helped to promote it, but it is important to realize those movies have been (heavily) adapted to please the masses. If you want to have a better idea of the ‘real’ story, this mythology adaptation by Madeline Miller is an excellent choice. It reads a lot easier than the Homer translations without changing too much of the plot, and while the pace is a bit slow I had a great time reading this story.


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ARC REVIEW: Traitor To The Throne – by Alwyn Hamilton

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Title: Traitor To The Throne
(Rebel Of The Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Finished reading: February 18th 2017
Pages: 528
Rating 4,5qqq

“But then, this was what the desert did to us. It made us dreamers with weapons.”

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

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I had heard a lot of great things about the first Rebel Of The Sands book, so when I saw a copy of the sequel at Netgalley I decided to go ahead and request it. When (to my surprise) the request was approved, I hurried to read the first book. And it was love at first chapter. Both the writing style, plot and characters managed to convince me right from the beginning, and I had an excellent time reading the first book. I was more than excited about Traitor To The Throne after that, and Alwyn Hamilton didn’t disappoint. This has without doubt become one of my new favorite fantasy series! Traitor To The Throne by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-second-book’ syndrome and was possibly even better than the first book. The writing, the worldbuilding, the plot, the characters, the magic… Everything just works. The sequel has a lot less desert and is mostly set inside the palace, but I personally liked the change of scenery. And despite the fact that the story doesn’t end in that big of a cliffhanger, it is going to be a long wait for the third book… Because I sure will be missing the main characters and their world in the mean time. If you like the genre, I can definitely recommend this series!

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

Nearly a year has passed since that memorable day in Fahali… Amani has had time to get used to her powers during the months that passed, and both her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit and the Rebel Prince’s message have spread across the desert. Things are getting out of control, and Amani will soon find herself in a very complicated situation. One day, she finds herself stripped of her powers and identity, and Amani will have to rely on her desert instincts again to survive… Because the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous place. What will happen to Amani and the other rebels?

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When I start reading a new fantasy series, I’m always looking for a few key elements before I decide to continue with the sequel. The most important ones are: well written prose, excellent worldbuilding, interesting/likeable characters with a believable development and a little something extra that makes the story stand out from the rest. Rebel Of The Sands basically has it all, and the sequel is just as good as the first book. Amani is partly your typical strong female heroine, but I’ve grown to love her character and I like that she isn’t just a strong desert girl with great weapon skills, but also has her ‘special’ powers. I will definitely be looking forward to the third book next year!


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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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