YVO’S SHORTIES #184 – The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue & The Girl In The Tower

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a historical fantasy edition with The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and The Girl In The Tower by Katherine Arden.


Title: The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 6th 2020
Publisher: Tor Books
Finished reading: October 23rd 2020
Pages: 448

“He may be a sun, but she is a shining comet, dragging their focus like burning meteors in her wake.”


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Fangirling alert coming in!! I know that I’m a bit biased when it comes to this author… I basically adore anything Schwab writes, and I have been eagerly anticipating The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue. Especially knowing how much Addie’s story means to the author in the first place… I was afraid my expectations would be set too high, but I shouldn’t have worried as I literally devoured each and every single page. I knew I was going to love this story as soon as I first met Addie… She is a force to be reckoned with, and so easy to warm up to! The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue is part historical fiction, part supernatural fantasy and part romance, all combined together into what is without doubt one of my 2020 favorite books. The story switches back between the past and 2014, always told from Addie’s POV.  A dual timeline can always go both ways for me, but somehow in this case I loved both equally and this probably has a lot to do with Addie’s constant presence. We have her past, starting in late 17th century and early 18th century France and later jumping to different times in history as the years go by. We see Addie develop over time, learning to live with her curse and thriving against all odds. Then we have the present, where both Addie and Henry will win over your heart without fail. The writing is simply glorious, and somehow the slower pace actually did me a favor and made me slow down to fully savour each sentence. I do get why some people might find this story too slow or overlong, but I personally treasured every single minute I got to spend with Addie. Say hello to a new all time favorite!


Title: The Girl In The Tower
(Winternight Trilogy #2)
Author: Katherine Arden

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
First published: December 5th 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: October 31st 2020
Pages: 383

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”


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I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for so long now… So after finally reading and loving the first book a few weeks ago, I decided to pick up the sequel while memories were still fresh so I could actually try to finish a series in a timely matter for a change. Once again I had a fantastic time with this medieval Russian story filled with folklore and magic! True, I did enjoy the first book a tiny bit better than The Girl In The Tower, but that same magic of the first book was still there, and I already can’t wait to pick up the third and final book after that ending.

The descriptions once again truly made the setting come alive for me, and I love how the author incorporates not only Russian history, but also Russian folklore and culture into her story. It really makes this trilogy stand out for me, that’s for sure. I do have to say that I found the pace to be a tad slower in this sequel, and the plot a tiny bit less intriguing, but getting to meet up with Vasya again most definitely makes up for it. My love for her character has only grown since the first book, and there are some interesting developments in this sequel that make me wonder what the final book has in store for us. This trilogy is quickly turning into a new favorite!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #183 – The Bird Tribunal & Mexican Gothic

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around It’s All About Books has turned to the dark side with an eerie nordic noir story (The Bird Tribunal) and a piece of historical gothic horror set in Mexico (Mexican Gothic).


Title: The Bird Tribunal
Author: Agnes Ravatn

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 1st 2013
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 11th 2020
Pages: 192
(Originally published in Norwegian: ‘Fugletribunalet’)

“But here was the thing: it required willpower to build willpower.”


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I’ve had The Bird Tribunal on my radar for a while now, and after a fantastic experience with her newest title The Seven Doors I decided to simply give in and finally read it. I’m honestly a bit lost for words as this turned out to be such an odd and intriguing story! Basically there isn’t all that much happening plot wise; the focus is instead on the main characters and what is an absolutely fantastic description of the Norwegian setting. Oh yes, both the setting and the brilliant creation of that eerie and ominous vibe steal the show and are definitely the strongest asset of this piece of nordic noir together with the beautiful writing. Where the characters were a tad too unlikeable for me and I found the ending to be too predictable, it was the writing and the stunning descriptions of the Norwegian setting that swept me off my feet… And we even get a dose of Norse mythology along the way as well. Like I said, I wasn’t really a fan of the characters though, which did cause some inconvenience as this is mostly a slower-paced and essentially character-driven story. Somehow I was never able to warm up to Allis nor Sigurd… But that might just have been me. You will want to read The Bird Tribunal for the stunning writing and descriptions alone though if you are a fan of the nordic noir genre.


Title: Mexican Gothic
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror
First published: June 30th 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: October 20th 2020
Pages: 304

“The serpent does not devour its tail, it devours everything around it, voracious, its appetite never quenched.”


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I confess that I was going to try Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other story Gods Of Jade And Shadow first, but there has been so much hype around Mexican Gothic that I simply couldn’t resist trying it myself. Now that I’ve finally gotten the chance to read it, I can understand the love for it. This story is dark, this story is eerie, this story is gothic horror at its best… It’s simply glorious! I loved the 1950s Mexico setting and the ominous and gloomy atmosphere of the High Place mansion is simply spot on. Historical elements are mixed with horror and even the supernatural and the writing itself is simply exquisite. I can’t deny the pace is considerably slow in points though… And this can definitely be a turn off for those who prefer a story with a faster pace. The glorious writing mostly made up for this feeling of slowness for me, and I liked how the secrets of High Place are only slowly revealed as the main character Noemí discovers them herself. She might seem like a flighty character, but I liked how she reacted to the situation in High Place as well as her determination in doing what is best for her cousin. The plot itself is once again quite slow-paced, but does work towards a final escalation and the story definitely ends with a bang. If you enjoy the gothic horror genre, don’t mind a slow pace or a touch of the supernatural and appreciate dark and atmospheric reads, Mexican Gothic might just be the perfect match.


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ARC REVIEW: Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters – by Emily Carpenter

Title: Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters
Author: Emily Carpenter
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 20th 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: October 12th 2020
Pages: 332

“Sometimes you’ve got to tear something down before you can build it back up again.”

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

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I’ve enjoyed Emily Carpenter‘s books in the past, although I confess that I haven’t read Burying The Honeysuckle Girls yet myself. I didn’t realize this newest story was set in the same era, but fortunately Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters works perfectly well without reading that story first. I was intrigued as soon as I read the blurb; both the historical setting and Dove’s character sounded absolutely fascinating. And while somehow I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I thought I would, I can’t deny that the premise alone will make the heart of any historical fiction fan beat faster.

Like I said, I really liked the premise and idea behind this story. Especially the historical part set in the 1930s; you can clearly see that the author researched the era thoroughly and the descriptions make it feel as if you stepped into a time machine. I also liked the symbolisms and the significance of and reference to the hawthorn tree throughout the story. It’s always a nice touch when the title can be connected to the story in multiple ways! I do have to say that I found parts of the story to be quite slow and even repetitive. This haltered pace made it harder to properly enjoy the story, and the repetitions did the same… Especially the whole mention of the coin over and over again became really annoying.

The story uses a dual POV structure as well as a dual timeline. We have the part set in the 1930s with Dove, and the part set in the present with Dove’s granddaughter Eve… Dual timelines can be tricky for me, as I tend to prefer one over the other, and that is exactly what happened here. I found Dove’s POV to be considerably stronger and way more intriguing than the present timeline. Not only is her character and development that much more fascinating, it is the historical setting that steals the show and Dove just seems to be so much more important as a character in the first place. Eve came over as a bit bland in comparison, and I found the present POV in general to be quite slow and repetitive with the coin hunt and constant repetitions of how she feels about her grandmother and her having to care for her family. She definitely lacked that spark her grandmother seemed to have…

I wasn’t a fan of the whole religious angle, but I know that is a personal pet peeve of mine and I probably should have investigated more before reading this story. Luckily Dove’s chapters weren’t just focused on the religion, and boy has she an absolutely fascinating history! I definitely applaude her resourcefulness and ability to survive. It was interesting to slowly uncover her secrets through Eve’s POV in the present, although I did see quite a few of the plot twists coming. The ending was also a bit too convenient for me… All in all sadly Reviving The Hawthorn Sisters wasn’t my favorite title of hers, but that might just have been me. Most people do seem to enjoy this story better, so if you enjoy historical fiction and don’t mind a slower pace and repetitions in parts this might just be a great read for you.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #181 – The Boy On The Bridge & The Bear And The Nightingale

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The Boy On The Bridge is a dystopian prequel of an all time favorite The Girl With All The Gifts, and it was entertaining but not as good as the other story. And I still can’t believe it took me this long to pick up The Bear And The Nightingale, but I definitely understand the love for this series now!


Title: The Boy On The Bridge
(The Girl With All The Gifts #2)
Author: M.R. Carey

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: October 3rd 2020 
Pages: 456

“He had already learned to read, but now he learned the pleasure of stories which is like no other pleasure—the experience of slipping sideways into another world and living there for as long as you want to.”


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I LOVED The Girl With All The Gifts back when I read it four years ago, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up this sequel set in the same world… The bright orange cover called my name once again the other day, and I finally gave in. And even though I didn’t love The Boy On The Bridge as much as the first book, it most definitely satisfied my dystopian cravings! This story can be easily read as a stand-alone, as I have to be honest here and say I had forgotten about the details of the first book beyond Melanie and I didn’t encounter any issues along the way. The Boy On The Bridge is more focused on the science and quite a bit slower, but the dystopian world makes for an interesting setting and Stephen is without doubt the star of the show. It was really easy to warm up and love his character, and I loved the dynamics between him and Rina too. They are definitely the main reason I enjoyed this story, together with Stephen’s observations and discoveries along the way. If you enjoy a good dystopian story and don’t mind a sometimes slowish pace and a lot of science talk, The Boy On The Bridge is probably a good match.


Title: The Bear And The Nightingale
(Winternight Trilogy #1)
Author: Katherine Arden

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: January 7th 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
Finished reading: October 8th 2020
Pages: 336

“I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.”


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I still can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick up this trilogy… I’ve been meaning to ever since it was first published since I kept seeing raving reviews, and I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long now. I can understand the love for this trilogy after reading The Bear And The Nightingale, because I ended up having a fantastic time with this story. The historical setting in Russia, the Russian folklore, the magic, the characters, the writing, the plot… There is so much to love in this first book of what I already know will be a favorite trilogy, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Especially the Russian folklore references were fantastic, and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. Vasilisa makes for a brilliant main character, and I loved learning more about both her and the rest of her family. The magical elements were very well incorporated as well, and I loved how the historical and fantasical were balanced. On to book number two it is as soon as I have time!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill – by Hester Fox #blogtour @HarlequinBooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill blog tour! A huge thanks to Justine Sha for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I love a good gothic vibe in a story and I’ve been wanting to try the work of Hester Fox for a while now… So of course I couldn’t resist joining the tour for The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as the blurb of her newest story sounded fantastic. And I will definitely be coming back for more after an excellent first impression of her writing! Want to know more? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: September 15th 2020
Publisher: Graydon House
Finished reading: September 9th 2020
Pages: 384

“Tabby knew that her greatest fault was that, once won, her trust was too freely given.”

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

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I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while now, and I confess that I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill as well as the atmospheric cover. I love a good gothic story and this book most definitely delivered the perfect spooky gothic atmosphere. The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is set in mid 19th century Boston, and this historical setting is what sets the tone for a suspenseful and creepy read that packs a mean paranormal punch. The perfect marriage of gothic and paranormal with plenty of historical details to savour!

There were quite a few things I enjoyed of this story, but let’s start with the historical setting first. As far as a historical and gothic setting goes, I couldn’t have wished for something more atmospheric with the mid 19th century Boston setting and its focus on the cemetery. The descriptions and details are used to create the perfect creepy vibe and really gave the story that extra touch. Later on, we even get a bonus with the London and Edinburgh settings, which fitted right in the same gothic vibe. The setting and historical details were definitely one of the strongest assets of this story!

Another thing I loved was the paranormal angle. I confess this element isn’t always my cup of tea, but it worked really well in The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill and complemented the plot. The same goes for the whole mystery around the body snatching and grave robbing element… While it’s not the first time I see it incorporated into a story, it is an element that always intrigues me and it definitely added an air of creepiness as well as suspense to the plot. It was interesting to see both elements develop over time and I had fun figuring out how much both influence the direction of the plot.

The story is mainly told with the help fo a dual POV, with an added extra POV later on. I personally loved Tabby as the main character; both her gift itself and her character development in general stood out for me. I especially loved her relationship with Eli, but her development and reactions to the things happening in the plot were a delight to follow as well. She might seem like your typical strong female character, but she will win you over quickly with her charm and strength as well as her quirkiness. That said, I do have to say that I wasn’t too big of a fan of other main character Caleb though. I felt he was a bit too cliche and I just didn’t get a good vibe off him… This might just be because of the whole mention of the cheating and love triangle though, which is a personal pet peeve I never react well to. We didn’t see much of Tabby’s sister Alice, which is for obvious reasons of course, but I did like what I saw. Tabby is clearly the true star of the show though.

The writing itself is solid, and especially the gothic vibe and historical descriptions are spot on. While the pace was a bit haltered in points, and I could have done without the romance, overall I had a great time with this story. If you are looking for something creepy and enjoy a historical setting as well as a paranormal angle, The Orphan Of Cemetery Hill is a great option. It’s also perfect for the upcoming Halloween month!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Author Website // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

BUY LINKS

Harlequin // Indiebound // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Books-A-Million // Walmart // Google // iBooks // Kobo


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ARC REVIEW: Remember Me – by Mario Escobar

Title: Remember Me
Author: Mario Escobar
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: September 14th 2020
Pages: 384
(Originally published in Spanish: ‘Recuérdame’)

“I learned a long time ago that to see what’s right in front of us requires enormous effort, because there’s no man so blind as the one who doesn’t want to see.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to get a copy of Remember Me as soon as I saw that it was a Spanish Civil War novel. I’ve always had a special interest in Spain and its history, and I’ve studied the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath during my Uni years… I actually did hear of the Children Of Morelia already, although I had forgotten about the exact details and I thought this story would be the perfect way to refresh my memory as well as see those historical details combined into a historical fiction read. While I did end up having mixed feelings about this story, both the fact that it’s based on historical events and its incorporation into the plot were probably the strongest element of this story.

Remember Me has multiple international settings as we follow Marco Alcalde and his sisters on their journey. It all starts in Madrid, a city that has a special place in my heart after having lived and studied there for eight months… The mentions of different places within that city brought back memories of my time there and really made the setting come alive for me. I also enjoyed reading about their journey and their time in Mexico, and I loved the fact that I was able to improve my knowledge about this part of Spanish history in general.

The descriptions of the historical situation and escalating violence and struggles during the Spanish Civil War set the right tone for what should have been an emotionally devastating and heartbreaking read. And here is where things went wrong for me… I can’t deny that the events described and the struggles Marco and his family have to face are horrifying, and they do give you an accurate description of the hardships people had to face during and after the civil war. BUT. Sadly, I just couldn’t find any real character development or personality in any of the main characters. I couldn’t for the life of me describe any of the characters by their personality; it is as if they were just tools to describe what happened to the children of Morelia in general and they just lack any characteristics to make them feel unique and real. This made it extremely hard to connect to them and feel for their situation in particular. And I think that if I weren’t so interested in anything related to the Spanish Civil War, I probably would have struggled to make it to the final page. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad read, but it feels more like a summary of the historical events related to the Children of Morelia rather than a historical fiction novel with properly developed characters and emotions. While I feel sad that I wasn’t able to enjoy the story better, I’m still glad I read it for the things I learned about the Spanish Civil War alone though… So I guess Remember Me can go both ways for you depending on how much you care about properly developed and believable characters and/or if you prefer a focus on the historical details instead.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Sight Unseen – by Sandra Ireland @22_ireland @BirlinnBooks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Sight Unseen Love Books Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Kelly Lacey for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit I was fully intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb, and I most definitely enjoyed my time with this story. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts…

Title: Sight Unseen
(A Sarah Sutherland Thriller #1)
Author: Sandra Ireland
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: August 6th 2020
Publisher: Polygon
Finished reading: July 27th 2020
Pages: 256

“Stories are like puzzles, charity shop jigsaws with half the pieces missing. It’s up to you to fill in the blanks, let your mind form a version of the true picture.”

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

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I admit that I was fully intrigued as soon as I read the blurb of Sight Unseen. The promise of the 1648 flashbacks and a world of witches, scorcery and folklore to contrast the contemporary sounded absolutely fantastic and frankly simply irresistible. I had a feeling that I would enjoy my time with this first book of a new series, and my instincts most definitely turned out to be right. My first meeting with Sarah Sutherland was without doubt a success!

The first thing that stands out is the setting. Sight Unseen takes place in the fictional Kilgour, a small Scottish town with a fascinating history. The many descriptions really made the setting come alive for me and kind of made me wish the town was real so I could visit it someday… The flavor of Scotland is well represented and turns the setting into a real treat. We got to learn more about both the surroundings and the history of Kilgour through the tourist walk the main character Sarah hosts, and it was without doubt an unique way of getting to know the Scottish town.

I loved everything related to the 1648 flashbacks to Alie Gowdie and Rev. William Wilkie’s time. Alie is known as the Kilgour witch and has an intriguing history, and I loved her connection with Sarah as she is currently living in the same house as Alie once inhabited. Sarah has investigated Alie’s life for a long time, and it has been interesting to see more of the true story around Alie slowly come to light. The 1648 scenes without doubt took the story to the next level, and added more dept to the plot as well. The way the new information is comporated into the plot in different ways is a nice touch, and Sarah basically plays historical detective as she tries to unravel the truth of 300 years ago.

I also loved the hint of the paranormal and supernatural in Sight Unseen. We have the story of the witches and the witch hunt of the 17th century, the talk of the devil, the folklore elements, the sightings by Sarah’s father John… All these elements definitely have the story a hint of the haunted and they were a nice contrast with the daily life and other elements in play in the plot. Oh yes, the contemporary storyline is also packed with ‘ordinary’ elements: Sarah’s background, her relationship with her backpacking daughter, Sarah caring for her father, her work in the supermarket, her second job storytelling… All doused with a dose of mystery, romance and a hint of action to spice things up. It was especially fascinating to read more about the so-called Charles Bonnet Syndrome as part of the explanation, as I hadn’t heard of it before and I liked how this element was developed in the story.

It is true that this story could have done without the romance, as it felt forced and not naturally developed. I didn’t think the romance added anything substantial to the plot either, and only distracted from the whole situation with John as well as Alie’s story. Sight Unseen uses a dual POV structure by switching between Rachel and her father John. On top of this, we get 1648 diary fragments written by Rev. William Wilkie as well as different POV fragments which identity is revealed later. The writing is easy on the eye and engaging, and while the pace is slow in points overall Sight Unseen is without doubt a solid and very entertaining read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra Ireland was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016), Bone Deep (2018) and The Unmaking of Ellie Rook (2019). She lives in Carnoustie, Scotland.

BUY LINK


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YVO’S SHORTIES #175 – Fruit Of The Drunken Tree & The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two books I’ve had really high expectations for… Sadly, Fruit Of The Drunken Tree didn’t live up to those expectations at all, but The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill turned out to be a delightful read.


Title: Fruit Of The Drunken Tree
Author: Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: July 31st 2018
Publisher: Doubleday
Finished reading: July 21st 2020
Pages: 304

“War always seemed distant from Bogotá, like niebla descending on the hills and forest of the countryside and jungles. The way it approached us was like fog as well, without us realizing, until it sat embroiling everything around us.”

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Okay… I’m still not sure what happened here, as I really expected to find a new favorite in this story instead. I’ve always had a special interest in stories set in Latin America, and even more so if they are related to the drugs world and/or war on drugs… I thought this story with its 1990s Colombian setting would be a perfect fit for me, and the blurb of Fruit Of The Drunken Tree sounded fantastic as well, but somehow in the end it wasn’t ment to be. Even though I still believe the premise is both powerful, shocking and heartbreaking, the story itself failed to blow me away. I think the main reason I had such a strong negative reaction to Fruit Of The Drunken Tree despite my fascination for the topic had probably to do with the fact that I felt a strong aversion towards the writing style. I didn’t feel it flowed properly and I never connected to the writing, making it very hard to convince myself to keep reading as a result. I have to confess that I skimread at least half of the story; wanting to DNF, but not being able to let the story go completely until I knew what happened. This mostly had to do with the plot and the historical details rather than the main characters themselves, who in turn I never managed to warm up to either. I think this might have been due to the way they were described as well as the way they acted, or maybe even due to the fact that the writing style itself rubbed me the wrong way to such extreme. Either way, sadly Fruit Of The Drunken Tree ended up mosty definitely not being my cup of tea.


Title: The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: July 23rd 2020
Pages: 351

“She enjoyed people – she really did – she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

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I have been craving a good contemporary, and I admit that I have been eyeing The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill for a while now. I love bookish elements in my stories, and this book sounded like a perfect fit… And I definitely ended up having a brilliant time with this story. As I already expected, Nina was easy to like and relate to, and I loved getting to know her better. The characters in general are easy to connect to and I enjoyed spending time with them. Of course I love just how big of a role both books and pop culture play in Nina’s life and the story itself; with references to multiple books, the Harry Potter fandom, Game Of Thrones, The Simpsons, Friends… And we have the bookstore itself in the spotlight too of course. The plot might be a bit cheesy and predictable in points, but personally I was having too much fun to be bothered by it. The romance is quite cheesy as well, but as I liked both characters I really didn’t mind all that much either. I loved seeing Nina connect to the newly found family, and the trivia element was brilliant. The writing itself is super engaging and I literally flew through this story. Fans of the genre will most likely enjoy The Bookish Life Of Nina Hill as much as I did!


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ARC REVIEW: Opium And Absinthe – by Lydia Kang

Title: Opium And Absinthe
Author: Lydia Kang
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy
First published: July 1st 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Finished reading: July 3rd 2020
Pages: 379

“A vampire was shackled, it seemed, to the lusts and needs of his body. Tillie, too, felt her world as a closed casket, always around her, always constricting her.”

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

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I admit that it was cover love at first sight when I saw Opium And Absinthe, but I was completely sold as soon as I read the blurb. I’ve enjoyed Lydia Kang‘s books, including The Impossible Girl, in the past, and another historical setting with a medical twist sounded simply fantastic. On top of that, Opium And Absinthe promises to present us with a fantasy/horror retelling element involving Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, which had me even more excited. I know I’m basically allergic to vampire stories, but I did actually enjoy the original Dracula classic and I have to say that I really liked how Lydia Kang decided to incorporate this element into her story. It definitely ended up being one of the things that stood out for me!

That said, despite having high expectations for this story, somehow it didn’t work as well as I thought it would for me. I’m struggling to point out exactly why, but I’ll try to explain below. Part of the reason probably has to do with the slow pace as well as a bit of a repetitive plot with surprisingly dull moments. The slower pace made it harder to stay focused, and the lack of surprises and dull moments didn’t help either of course. I know that the book is set in 1899 and things were different back then (I actually enjoyed those historical descriptions), but the plot was just too repetitive and dull for me and it didn’t manage to engage me as I thought it would.

I also struggled with the constant repetition of the opium, morphine and even heroin use as well as the focus on just how dependent the main character Tilly becomes on it as it starts taking over her life and actions. While in a way realistically portrayed, I felt like it was turned into too much of a cliche and I didn’t feel like I was able to get to know the character too well due to this focus on Tillie’s spiralling addiction and the other characters both reacting to and fomenting said addiction. The characters themselves are not likeable at all (with the exception of Ian maybe) and as a result I struggled to connect to them. The main focus is on Tillie, and I found her to be too frustrating to really care for her and once again I found the focus on her substance abuse to be too much of a cliche and it took away the focus from more interesting elements such as the investigation into Lucy’s death, the medical details and the vampire element.

I confess that I saw most of the plot twists coming from a mile away, although I did manage to stumble upon one or two surprises. This wasn’t enough to make up for the things that didn’t work for me though. I liked the historical setting, the Dracula element and the investigation into Lucy’s death as well as the medical details… But the slow pace, the repetitive and sometimes dull plot and constant focus on the substance abuse instead of a proper focus on character and plot development ended up being mostly a letdown for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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