BOOK REVIEW: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe – by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 7th 2017
Pages: 359

“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”


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I still can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick up my copy of Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe. Besides the simply stunning cover and font I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this story for YEARS, so the only plausible reason for waiting this long is probably my bad relationship with hyped books. Thankfully Aristotle And Dante doesn’t belong to the so-called ‘overhyped’ group. In fact, I can definitely understand the love for this story now! What probably makes this story so interesting is its characters. Both Aristotle and Dante are wonderful and quickly won over my heart. Their character development is very well executed and it was interesting to see them evolve over time and deal with their problems. Aristotle And Dante isn’t just another ‘typical’ diverse story, but also includes characters belonging to a minority, a war veteran who hasn’t been the same since he came back, family problems and several other topics making this into a truly unique and interesting read. The writing style is wonderful and very quotable, although I do have to say there were some parts that read a bit slow. In fact, the second half of Aristotle And Dante was significantly stronger and made my love for the characters only grow. I liked the ending as well, although it did feel a bit abrupt and I would have loved to see how things continue. Fingers crossed the rumors about a sequel coming out some time this year are true! I guess me being late to the party does mean I won’t have to wait that long for another dose of Aristotle and Dante though.

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The fifteen-year-old Aristotle isn’t the most friendly teen around and his attitude means he doesn’t really have friends. Dante on the other hand is a know-it-all with an unusual way of looking at the world… When the two first meet at the swimming pool, it seems like they have nothing in common. But when the two loners start spending time together, they discover they share a special bond that will change their lives forever. And they will learn important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

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I know it took me way to long to finally read this book, but I’m definitely glad I did. Although I didn’t LOVE love it myself and some parts were a bit slow, I can’t deny that both the characters and writing style are wonderful. Things only got better in the second half of Aristotle And Dante and I really loved to see their characters develop. The ending was exactly what I wished for while reading this story, although it did feel abrupt and I will be keeping my fingers crossed we will be able to read more about these characters in a sequel soon.


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ARC REVIEW: Now I Rise – by Kiersten White @kierstenwhite @DelacortePress

Title: Now I Rise
(The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Author: Kiersten White

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 13th 2017
Pages: 496

“The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions. But your sister will destroy as much as she can before she goes out. She will go down in flames and blood.”

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

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I admit I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I was hooked as soon as I finished the first chapter of And I Darken. I had the privilege of receiving an ARC copy of the sequel early (trust me, I still can’t believe my request was actually approved!), and after finishing the first book I wanted to continue with the sequel right away. Now I Rise by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. This second book of The Conqueror’s Saga starts out strong and stays that way until the very end. The focus is slightly different than in the first book, mostly because it has two completely different storylines this time and the story switches between those POVs. I personally liked this change and it didn’t distract from the main plot at all, especially since there is still an obvious connection between the two storylines both through the characters and the plot itself. I also liked the glbt elements in the series in general, although I do have to say the love triangle bits did started to bother me as well as some of the decisions of the characters. This is probably the only negative thing I could find about this series though! Because there is no doubt I’m truly enjoying this Vlad The Impaler based series so far. Another thing that stood out for me is that there is more action and more fighting in Now I Rise, although it is balanced with further excellent character development and detailed descriptions of the worldbuilding and historical references that will make it feel as if you were back in the 15th century yourself. Because there is no doubt that Kiersten White‘s writing style is wonderful and will have you under its spell… Well written, beautiful, rich, engaging and highly addictive: Now I Rise will have you in its claws and won’t let you go until you reach the last page, leaving you wanting for more. Thankfully the sequel doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger, making the wait for book three a little more tolerable… Although it’s still going to be a long one.

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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…

Lada Dracul decided to start fighting to fulfill her own dreams, but that will be more difficult than it seems. Because she has no allies and no throne: just herself and a handful of loyal men. She wasn’t able to secure the Wallachian throne as easily as was promised, but is determined to punish anyone who dares to stand in her way and prevent her from succeeding. On the other hand, Radu is still at Mehmed’s side with a completely different goal in mind. One that will ask even more from Radu than he has already given… What will happen to them and will they be able to succeed in their goals?

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After already enjoying And I Darken I had high hopes for the sequel, and Now I Rise definitely didn’t disappoint. There is a slightly different focus in the sequel, but I personally liked these changes and two different storylines each with a lot of action, intrigue and its own web of secrets and lies. The historical worldbuilding is very well done and sets the right atmosphere for what is already an excellent story. I wasn’t a fan of some of the romance and I didn’t agree with every decision made, but those are only minor complaints compared to my love for the writing style. I can’t wait to try more of Kiersten White‘s books in the future! And The Conqueror’s Saga book three is going straight to my list of most anticipated 2018 releases. Is it June 2018 yet?


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ARC REVIEW: Enchanters – by K.F. Bradshaw @ReadingAlley

Title: Enchanters
(Enchanters #1)
Author: K.F. Bradshaw

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Wishbox Press
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 590

“We don’t get to decide what we bring into this world with us. But you have a gift, Andrea, and you should consider using it for something useful.”

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

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I enjoy reading a proper high fantasy read every once in a while and the cover and blurb of Enchanters managed to catch my attention immediately. It somehow took me longer than expected to finally pick it up, mostly because I wasn’t in the mood for the genre and I didn’t want that to be a bad influence on my experience with this story. I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go though and I have to say I really like the idea behind the worldbuilding and plot in Enchanters. The worldbuilding of the fictional Damea is extensive and I like the clash with the ‘real’ world that represents Cassie’s character. This without doubt adds a whole different dimension to the story and I like how K.F. Bradshaw portrays this difference in worlds and customs in the characters. That said, I do think the story itself is overlong and I feel it would have been more enjoyable with more focus on the action and less on the ‘insignificant’ details and dialogue. These elements slowed down the pace considerably and sometimes even distracted from the plot itself. I also wasn’t completely convinced by the characters and some of them even started to annoy me; especially the bantering between Cassie and Andrea. I did appreciate that it’s a YA high fantasy read with a proper glbt angle though; it’s something you don’t see every day. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Enchanters. The worldbuilding and plot is without doubt interesting, but I did feel the story was overlong and I had some problems with the (sometimes) forced dialogue and characters.

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The people of Damea have had access to magic for centuries, using it to improve their everyday lives. The so-called enchanters have the power to wield it and magic has been woven into their societies for a long time, but now everything has changed. The magic is dying, and Damea is slowly dying with it… Nobody seems to know how to reverse this, but Andrea is determined to find a way to bring it back. She is an enchanter’s apprentice and has been helping another enchanter for years… But it might take a stranger from another world to actually try and restore the magic. Will they be able to?

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I was looking forward to read Enchanters, but I ended up having mixed thoughts instead. While I liked the worldbuilding, plot and general idea behind this story, I still think it was also overlong and even dragged at points. That might just be because the dialogue didn’t feel all that natural and I didn’t really like some of the characters in the first place though. The pace did pick up in the second half and there was a lot more action… All in all an interesting read, although I did have my problems with it.


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BOOK REVIEW: History Is All You Left Me – by Adam Silvera

Title: History Is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: January 17th 2017
Publisher: Soho Teen
Finished reading: March 31st 2017
Pages: 320

“People are complicated puzzles, always trying to piece together a complete picture, but sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes we’re left unfinished. Sometimes that’s for the best. Some pieces can’t be forced into a puzzle, or at least they shouldn’t be, because they won’t make sense.”


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This title has been on my list of most anticipated releases ever since I first heard about it and is also a case of insta-coverlove (I’m sure I’m not the only one on both counts). It took me longer than I hoped to be able to finally pick up my copy of History Is All You Left Me, but I’m definitely glad I finally did. I can completely understand why so many people seem to love this book now! It’s true my own expectations were set just a tiny bit too high, but there is no doubt that this newest novel by Adam Silvera is a great read. The writing style is excellent as well as the character development, and it definitely would be wise to keep a box of tissues ready. Because History Is All You Left Me is filled raw, realistic emotions and talks about both grief and how to deal with the death of someone close. It might not have been the 5 star read I was expecting, but that doesn’t take away I was thoroughly absorbed by the story and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew how the story ended. The characters are realistic and have their own little quirks… And while some things about certain characters annoyed me a little, they were able to win me over anyway. Kuddos to the author for the inclusion of OCD in the plot and I loved the different relationships. True, I felt the whole story was a bit messy, but mostly a good messy. If you are a fan of the genre, realistic and quirky characters and don’t mind a healthy dose of sad, you will probably love History Is All You Left Me.

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Theo was Griffin’s first love, and also the first time he ‘came out’. He had to let him go as Theo left for California to study last year, and now Griffin lost him all over again in a drowning accident. In an attempt to hold onto every piece of the past, he wants to talk to Theo’s last boyfriend Jackson as well. When Jackson starts to show signs of guilt, Griffin starts to suspect he is hiding something… And he is determined to find out the whole truth about Theo’s death.

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There is no doubt that History Is All You Left Me is both a well written and emotional read with excellent characters. It shows a wide variety of emotions and I loved learning more about how the different relationships started and developed. Reality is added to those emotions by the fact that the author doesn’t leave out the ‘ugly’ parts. If you like the genre, I can definitely suggest giving this one a try!


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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
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“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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BOOK REVIEW: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley – by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Title: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 20th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: February 14th 2017
Pages: 297
Rating 3,5qqq

“I realize that adults are just as fucked as the rest of us. No one really grows up. No one unravels all of life’s many mysteries. They just grow up older and become better liars.”

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The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley has been on my TBR pile for a while now, and recently my TBR jar thought it would be about time to finally pick it up. I still posponed it for way too long, but I’m glad I finally gave it a go in the end. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up this novel by Shaun David Hutchinson, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. True, some of the story was a bit too weird to my taste, but in general I enjoyed reading it. The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley is part graphic novel, part GLBT contemporary romance and part magical realism (which includes all the weird parts). I don’t mind a touch of surrealism, but the whole Death thing and even the main character Andrew himself made me raise my eyebrows more than once. I also had some difficulties with the credibility of part of the plot. I mean, how on earth is Andrew to be able spend so much time at the hospital without raising suspicions? And what about the total disregard of protocol and protection of the seriously ill characters/friends when Andrew banters into their rooms and even takes some out of the ward? Health risk much? That said, I can’t deny it’s an entertaining and original read and I really liked the graphic novel bits with patient F.

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Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night his parents and sister passed away. But he survived, and he now lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, is friends with the nurses and sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Nobody knows who he really is and I tries to hide his past from everyone. Because if Death finds him, she will take him too. Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, a teenager with half of his body burned by hateful classmates. Andrew feels a strange connection to Rusty, and decides he needs to protect him from Death. Because Death is always looking for her next victim, and Andrew refuses to lose Rusty too.

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I like that The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley is actually a mix of different genres that work quite well together. The surreal elements were a bit too weird to my taste, but there is no denying they were original. The contemporary romance bit can be a bit cheesy at points, but I liked the dynamics between the main characters in general. I’m still wondering about the title though, because the supposedly ‘five stages’ weren’t mentioned anywhere… The graphic novel bits were definitely a highlight though and I liked how the pages were incorporated into the rest of the story. All in all a very interesting read!


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BOOK REVIEW: Rubyfruit Jungle – by Rita Mae Brown

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Title: Rubyfruit Jungle
Author: Rita Mae Brown

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Glbt
First published: 1973
Publisher: Bantam
Finished reading: December 28th 2016
Pages: 240
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“Oh great, you too. So now I wear this label ‘Queer’ emblazoned across my chest. Or I could always carve a scarlet ‘L’ on my forehead. Why does everyone have to put you in a box and nail the lid on it? I don’t know what I am—polymorphous and perverse. Shit. I don’t even know if I’m white. I’m me. That’s all I am and all I want to be. Do I have to be something?”

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I confess I came across this book by accident, but I was immediately intrigued by both the cover and the blurb. The fact that Rubyfruit Jungle is a coming of age story written back in 1973 and talks about the glbt theme so openly is both impressive and inspiring. I can see why so many people seem to find Rita Mae Brown‘s book that powerful… Because as we follow the main character Molly Bolt, basically every cliche involving the glbt community is included and talked about.  It’s so interesting to read about how the situation was back then and compare them to our current one! The prose is both refreshing and entertaining to read, and I was able to finish this modern classic in no time at all. Molly Bolt isn’t exactly the most ‘perfect’ character out there, but it is so easy to like her with all her flaws. She says and does exactly how she thinks and I can really appreciate that. There is some swearing involved in Rubyfruit Jungle, but in this case it is basically part of the character building. All in all a very interesting read!

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Molly Bolt is the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple who stubbornly decided to find a way to improve her current life. She has been determined not to have other people stop her from reaching her goals and dreams, even if she wants things other people might find odd. That includes Molly finding women more attractive than men, and she refuses to apologize for loving them. But will she be able to succeed in life?

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If you enjoy reading a good glbt coming of age story where the main character doesn’t shy away from saying the painful truth and you don’t mind a bit of colorful prose, I can strongly suggest reading Rubyfruit Jungle. I personally loved the unorthodox prose and I had so much fun reading this story. Molly Bolt is such an intriguing and well developed character and it was really interesting to follow her difficult journey to adulthood. It’s a very original and powerful story and even more impressive if you think about the time when Rubyfruit Jungle was first published.