YVO’S SHORTIES #121 – Smoke In The Sun & The Cellar

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around to YA reads that I fully expected to enjoy thoroughly, but failed to blow me away in the end. The first is the duology conclusion Smoke In The Sun by Renee Ahdieh, which I was expecting to be another 5 star read after loving the first book last year, but it wasn’t ment to be. And while the premise of The Cellar by Natasha Preston is absolutely fascinating, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would.


Title: Smoke In The Sun
(Flame In The Mist #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 1st 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: August 20th 2019
Pages: 416

“Honor was a thing to hate. It drove people to act foolishly, as though they were heroes. As though they were invincible.”


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I’m still surprised I reacted this way to this duology conclusion, because I absolutely loved Flame In The Mist last year and it was one of my 2018 favorites. It might have been that my expectations were set too high, it might have been that I should have reread the first book before starting Smoke In The Sun because I had forgotten about a lot of details… But the fact is, I never felt that same love for the sequel. Even with the help of the glossary in the back, I kind of struggled to keep all the different characters, POVs and plotlines apart, and that made me enjoy the story a lot less. The writing is solid, and I liked the Japanese elements incorporated into the story, as it gives the story the right atmosphere. I would have liked to see the magic more developed though, as it would have given the story that little something extra. Instead, Smoke In The Sun focuses a lot on the relationships between the different characters. To make things worse, we have a love triangle to deal with… And I wasn’t sure if I liked the character development of certain characters. I still think Mariko is a very strong and resourceful main character, and I still liked Okami, but for me Smoke In The Sun lacked some of that special ‘magic’ that turned the first book into a favorite for me. It’s not a bad read, but sadly it wasn’t what I hoped it would be either.


Title: The Cellar
(The Cellar #1)
Author: Natasha Preston

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: August 22nd 2019
Pages: 368

“This was a morning from a nightmare – one that I couldn’t wake up from.”


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I’ve had The Cellar on my TBR for quite some time now… When my TBR jar decided it was time to read it and I reread the blurb, I was instantly excited to finally pick it up. The premise of this story is absolutely fascinating and I’ve been looking forward to read it ever since. But somehow, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would. The elements are there: a twisted serial killer, a kidnapping, a prolonged hostage situation… But somehow it was all overshadowed by just how whiny and annoying the main character Summer was. I get that she is in an impossible situation and to say that she is having a hard time is an understatement, but I really couldn’t stand her character and the chapter set before the kidnapping only reconfirmed those feelings. There was too much romance and teen angst involved for me to take the plot seriously, and the final twists were not at all credible either. Another thing about the plot: the whole ‘trapped inside a room by a twisted individual’ scenario has clearly been done before, and sadly executed better in other stories I’ve had the chance to read so far (including Room, The Butterfly Garden, The Bunker Diary). It’s by no means a bad read and the serial killer we are introduced to is without doubt seriously twisted, but somehow The Cellar didn’t manage to convince me completely despite the promising premise. I don’t think I will be reading the sequel any time soon…


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ARC REVIEW: Flame In The Mist – by Renee Ahdieh

Title: Flame In The Mist
(Flame In The Mist #1)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: May 16th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: May 1st 2017
Pages: 368

“Sometimes we must fall forward to keep moving. Remain motionless—remain unyielding—and you are as good as dead.
Death follows indecision, like a twisted shadow. Fall forward. Keep moving. Even if you must pick yourself up first.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I saw the cover and the mention of Mulan, I was sold. Flame In The Mist has been on my list of most anticipated 2017 releases ever since, and I still cannot believe my Netgalley request was actually approved. I read a teaser back in January in one of the Buzz Books editions, and what I saw was GOOD. So good that my expectations were extraordinary high when starting this new series by Renee Ahdieh, but somehow Flame In The Mist managed to be ever better than expected. I practically devoured its pages and loved every single minute of it. The setting, the writing style, the characters (Mariko, Okami!!!), the plot… It doesn’t happen often that I hand out the full five star rating, but I just couldn’t give this story any lower. Both the worldbuilding and the writing style feel rich, engaging and very well developed and executed. I also enjoyed that Flame In The Mist is set in Japan and talks about a culture I’m personally not all that familiar with. The characters started to grow on me almost instantly and I LOVED Mariko as a main character. A little note though: even though this story basically blew me away, I did feel my love would have been even greater without the romance… It’s not all that distracting, but there is a hint of a future love triangle I’m not that sure/happy about. It was too insignificant to influence my rating though. I just cannot wait to find out what the future has in store; the wait for the sequel is surely going to be a long one! If you like the genre, this is definitely a must-read.

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Even though Mariko has a long list of skills, she has long known her future has been out of her hands simply because she was born a girl. She is the daughter of a prominent samurai and at the age of seventeen now promised to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. Mariko has no choice but to do as her father wishes and accept this political marriage, but it seems like fate has different plans for her in store. In route to the imperial city of Inako, the group is ambushed by a gang of bandits known as the Black Clan and Mariko narrowly escapes with her life… She is believed to be dead, and Mariko decides to use this to try and find the Black Clan. Will she be able to discover who was behind the attack and will she be able to restore the honor of her family?

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If you like well developed fantasy reads with gorgeous prose, setting and interesting characters, you are in for a treat with Flame In The Mist. The only thing that would have made me enjoy this story even more would have been the exclusion of the romance scenes; otherwise this first book of a new series is simply perfect. In fact, I can’t wait to read the sequel and the first book hasn’t even been published yet… More than recommended!


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WWW Wednesdays #135 – May 3rd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ll probably finish Anything For Her by Jack Jordan later today, which has been a very good thriller read so far. I’m definitely glad I finally picked it up! And as soon as I’m finishing that title, I’ll be diving into another Netgalley ARC: The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite. I’ve heard great things about that title and it has all the signs it’s going to be another Bookouture winner! I’m also still reading Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, although it’s still temporarily on hold until I’m in the mood for (high) fantasy again.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first title I finished since last week is Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, which turned out to be a brilliant read. I’m still kicking myself for not picking it up sooner! From the writing style, character development, plot to it’s very important topic; I just couldn’t find one detail I didn’t like about this powerful story.
* I then read The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero, which I ended up having quite a lot of issues with. It took a long time for the chapters to connect, the plot felt chaotic and there was excessive swearing, but that was only minor compared to my biggest problem with this story: the main character. I absolutely despised him and it was really hard to enjoy a story involving such an arrogant, cheating, drunk, womanizing bastard. Definitely not for me…
* Afterwards I decided to try my hands at fantasy again, especially since I enjoyed the first book of The Hero Rebellion series last year. Riven by Belinda Crawford was without doubt an entertaining read and the best part is that it’s a YA sci-fi series that is actually 100% romance free. Yes, you read that right, there’s no romance in this series and the story focuses on the worldbuilding and action instead. It took me a bit longer to adapt to the worldbuilding and some of the unique features and the plot wasn’t as strong as the first book, but there is definitely a lot of potential for what is still to come. Action-packed and very entertaining!
* The last book I picked up is Flame In The Mist by Renee Ahdieh, one of my most anticipated releases this year. I still can’t believe my request was actually approved!! I had high expectations after reading a teaser earlier this year, and somehow this book managed to be even better than expected. I practically devoured its pages and LOVED it. The setting, the writing style, the characters (Mariko, Okami!!!), the plot… It doesn’t happen often I have two 5 star reads in a week, but I just couldn’t give this one anything lower than perfect rating. The wait for the sequel is going to be painful though…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Like I’ve said before, I still have a huge pile of ARCs pending so I’ve made May into another ARC month. I have the following four ARCs lined up to be read next, depending on the genre I’m in the mood for... Be My Killer by Richard Parker and The Roses Of May by Dot Hutchison are both Netgalley ARCs and titles I’m looking forward to. Heartborn by Terry Maggert is another pending fantasy ARC I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I also want to pick up the ARC Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, which sounds like a fascinating read.


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