ARC REVIEW: Unclean Spirits – by Chuck Wendig

Title: Unclean Spirits
(Gods & Monsters #1)
Author: Chuck Wendig
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror, Mythology
First published: May 5th 2013
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Finished reading: January 30th 2018
Pages: 320

“Hope, a mirage in the desert, a curtain of vapor forming for us an image of that which we most sincerly desire. Hope is not an oasis but rather, a trap.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

This is one of those cases where I should have investigated better before requesting a copy, because I am so NOT the target group for this one. And this had a big influence on the lowish rating. Unclean Spirits definitely feels written for the more ‘macho’ male readers who like a lot of action, graphic scenes, violence, swearing and adult content in general. AKA 200% not my cup of tea… And it showed. While I did like the short and direct writing style Chuck Wendig uses to bulldozer through this story, I wasn’t a fan at all of the constant swearing and existence of graphic/adult scenes. This has more to do with me not being the target group than the story itself being a bad one, but trigger warnings are definitely in place here. Due to the general tone and wrong target group, I had a really hard time connecting to the characters as well, but I guess this is understandable being in my situation and all. I do have to say I loved the whole mythology angle and this was what saved Unclean Spirits for me. The urban fantasy genre shows and the mix of real world and supernatural is quite balanced. Mythology played a role throughout the story and I liked how many different gods and religions were incorporated. The plot itself had a lot of potential as well. So if you think you are the right target group for Unclean Spirits, you will probably have a heck of a ride waiting for you.

This publication also includes a short story by Pat Kelleher called Drag Hunt which is related to Unclean Spirits. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to read past the first chapter and therefore cannot give a proper opinion of it… There was simply zero connection between the writing style and me and I couldn’t bear to keep reading. (Since the writing style in Unclean Spirits was one of the few things that made me keep going and not DNF it.)

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Cason Cole had his whole life turned upside down five years ago when he not only lost his wife and son, but was forced to work for a man who holds nothing dear and respects no law. Five years later, somehow his boss ends up dying at his feet, and Cason thinks he is finally free… But this doesn’t turn out to be true. He gets the shock of his life as he is told that gods and goddesses are real and they are not exactly playing nice. Will he find a way to free himself and be with his wife and son again? Things are not going to be easy…

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Completely wrong target group or not, I do have to agree the whole mythology angle is quite fascinating. It’s one of the reasons I actually made it to the end of Unclean Spirits… Because it painfully showed just how much this story just wasn’t for me. The graphic scenes, the adult content, the swearing, the excessive violence… It was all just too much and distracted from a plot with quite some potential. Don’t get me wrong though, because I have the feeling the right target group will probably have a way more positive experience.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #14: Hide And Seek (ARC) & The New Hunger


Oh yes, it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And I’m happy to say that with today’s edition I will be finishing my last pending 2017 review; Hide And Seek by M.J. Arlidge is the (un)lucky book to win that title. No more backlog, woohoo!! It was an interesting enough thriller that can be read as a stand-alone as well. The New Hunger by Isaac Marion I finished earlier this month, a zombie novella that will hopefully make me get a copy of book number two some time this year (although I saw there is going to be a third book, so I might wait until there is more news about that one).


Title: Hide And Seek
(Helen Grace #6)
Author: M.J. Arlidge

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 8th 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Finished reading: October 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“In prison it is the hope that kills you, not despair.”

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


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I kind of messed up when I requested a copy of this one, because I totally didn’t realise Hide And Seek was actually book number six of a series. Oops? Thankfully (at least for me), Hide And Seek can also be read as a stand-alone without missing too much of the background information. What I liked in this thriller is the fact that the main character is actually a cop trapped inside a prison… Call that original! Helen Grace is framed for a murder she didn’t commit and now has to survive in a prison full of enemies; more than one inside thanks to her and they are not happy. This setting and plot makes for some very interesting reading and the writing only makes it easier to emerge yourself fully in the problems Helen Grace has to face while trying to survive. And it’s not just the daily life that is challenging, because on top of that there is a killer on the loose on the inside. Hide And Seek definitely ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a thrilling read.


Title: The New Hunger
(Warm Bodies #1.5)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Horror
First published: January 28th 2013
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: January 17th 2018 
Pages: 170

“Nothing is permanent. Not even the end of the world.”


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I read the first book Warm Bodies ages ago (read: 2015) and wasn’t aware a sequel came out last year until recently… So I thought it was about time I picked up the novella while I wait until there is more news on book three so I can read both sequels together. The New Hunger is a prequel novella and I think I actually enjoyed it better than the first book. It might have been because of the lack of romance in this one, but The New Hunger turned out to be quite an interesting read despite the fact I’m not really into zombie stories. The writing and pace make it into a superfast read and I enjoyed reading about the background of the Warm Bodies characters and how it is to survive in this dystopian world in the first place. Get ready for a bunch of zombie attacks, dystopian scenes and characters in survival-mode when you pick up this one! Short, but sweet with a healthy dose of fresh brains.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #10: The Temptation Of Adam (ARC) @SkyPonyPress & Bird Box

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I will be reviewing two books I really enjoyed reading last year. The first is an ARC and a hidden gem I stumbled across thanks to a fellow blogger: The Temptation Of Adam by Dave Connis. The second is a book that had been on my TBR for ages and I’m glad I finally picked up: Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I read it back in October and it was the perfect Halloween read!


Title: The Temptation Of Adam
Author: Dave Connis

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: November 21st 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Finished reading: October 28th 2017
Pages: 224

“The experience of an addict has its differences, all humans are both broken and holy, and we all have the opportunity to waste our lives looking for wholeness.”

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


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Every once in a while you stumble across a hidden gem thanks to a fellow book blogger (thanks again Liz!), and this is definitely the case when it comes to The Temptation Of Adam. This YA contemporary read is not widely known and it might just be that it benefits from the lack of hype around it, because it was easy to say I was completely blown away by this story. The writing style and tone of The Temptation Of Adam had me charmed from the first page and I just LOVE the quirky, direct and blunt way the main character Adam Hawthorne bulldozers through his life. Sure, if you don’t get along with Adam, you might have a problem enjoying this story. But if you let him take over and tell his story, you will be in for a pleasant surprise. A story about addiction that had me seriously addicted until the very last page… Hilariously funny, serious, emotional, heartwarming and heartbreaking: The Temptation Of Adam will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that will leave you both satisfied and drained by the last page. If you like quirky, blunt characters, give this story a chance!


Title: Bird Box
Author: Josh Malerman

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Dystopia
First published: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Ecco
Finished reading: October 20th 2017 
Pages: 262

“It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it take you in pieces.”


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I’ve been meaning to pick up Bird Box for a long long time, and somehow I never did. Last October I finally gave in, and not just because it sounded like the perfect Halloween read. I can definitely understand the love for this dystopian horror read now. Both writing and descriptions are excellent and draw you right into the dystopian world the story is set it. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading and managed to finish it in no time at all. The whole mystery around what is really going on and the seemingly hopelessness of the situation and no knowledge how to fight it make it into a perfect horror read… There is a good mix of suspenseful moments with emotional ones and the character development is well done. Those who said it before are right: this is a perfect Halloween read. Fans of the genre will definitely appreciate Bird Box for what it is.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #9: Life In Outer Space & The Bunker Diary

Time for more Yvo’s Shorties! This time shorties of books I’ve actually read in 2018. 😉 These two books were my very first Beat The Backlist titles and here’s to many more to follow this year. Number one is Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil, a book I picked up on a whim. The second, The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks, I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages and turned out to be a very shocking and thought-provoking read.


Title: Life In Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Finished reading: January 4th 2018
Pages: 305

“I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there’s nothing either of you can do about it.”


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Ever picked a book up on a whim? Well, that was what happened when I started reading Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil. I love my geeky/nerdy reads and I was so sure I was going to enjoy this one… But I guess it just wasn’t ment to be. First of all, I feel this book is trying too hard. Why? The geeky/nerdy element feels forced unnatural and basically didn’t manage to convince me. This is strange, because it’s normally my favorite part of this kind of YA contemporaries… The movie geek theme did at least play a significant role throughout the story, which I could appreciate since it clearly wasn’t just another box to be ticked and time and effort was put into finding all those references and quotes. I do feel Life In Outer Space has an aweful lot of high school cliches though, including the infamous ‘geek falls for popular girl’ trope. And another thing that made me struggle to love this story were the main characters. Unfortunately I never managed to connect to them, although I’m having the feeling the unnatural feel of the geeky elements were probably part of the problem. It does read superfast and fans of cute YA contemporary romance reads who don’t mind high school cliches will most likely have a better reading experience than me.


Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks

Genre: YA, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 7th 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: January 6th 2018
Pages: 268

“Fear serves a purpose. It’s not just for watching spooky films or riding rollercoasters. It’s there for a reason. It keeps us alive.”


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I’ve been meaning to read this one for a long time, and when I saw mentioned in the first line of the description this was going to be ‘Room meets Lord Of The Flies’, I was sold. These comparisons to popular books can go both ways, but I think in the case of The Bunker Diary it is actually pretty accurate. Because WOW. I was intrigued as soon as I started reading The Bunker Diary and this is both an addictive, shocking, thought-provoking and emotional read. I sure wish I would have picked it up sooner! The writing is interesting and we learn about what is happening through the diary of the main character. Not only tells us about the events in the bunker, but it also shows the mental state of the character as well as how the things that happen have their effect. It’s hard to talk properly about this story without giving away too much, but The Bunker Diary will crush your heart, make you stare at the final page and at loss for words. A trigger warning for some graphic descriptions, but all in all I can really recommend reading this story. It definitely blew me away.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #3: IT & Armada


A new year and more Yvo’s Shorties! This time a true book monster and a popular science fiction read… I’ve been meaning to read both for ages and finally did so last year. I’m talking about IT by Stephen King and Armada by Ernest Cline


Title: IT
Author: Stephen King 

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: 1986
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: December 4th 2017
Pages: 1.478

“She wanted to scream and couldn’t. The screams were too big to come out.”


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IT is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never actually picked up, mostly due to the extremely intimidating size of this monster. I don’t mind reading big (read: 800+ pages) books, but IT is on a whole different level… But with the movie coming out last year, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to finally read it. I originally started reading IT in October for Halloween, but the slump got me and I wasn’t able to finish it until December. It wasn’t just the slump though that made me take ages to finish this monster. Because I truly feel it is waaaaaaaaay overlong and has way too many details, descriptions and subplots, making the story drag at points. I honestly think that cutting out at least half of the subplots and pages would have made this story that much more creepy and suspenseful… And without doubt also a real pageturner. As it is, I had a hard time making sense of all the different subplots and characters in the beginning, making it hard to actually enjoy reading it. Things did get better as I started to connect the different parts and things got more creepy, but that dragging feel took a lot of the suspense away for me. The writing was excellent and the idea behind the plot brilliant, but unfortunately the overdose of subplots and characters and dragging feel ended up decreasing the rating considerably and in the end IT was only a 3 star story for me.


Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: YA, Science Fiction
First published: July 14th 2015
Publisher: Cornerstone
Finished reading: November 16th 2017
Pages: 384

“I took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, comforted by my half-assed self-diagnosis. Nothing but a mild flare-up of inherited nuttiness, brought on by my lifelong dead-dad fixation and somewhat related self-instituted overexposure to science fiction.”


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Armada is another of those books that has been on my radar for a long time… I’ve actually been wanting to read both this one and Ready Player One ever since they first came out, but somehow I never did. Too many books, too little time sounds just about familiar right? Various fellow book lovers recommended reading Armada first, so when I was in the mood for science fiction I finally did so last November. When I first read the blurb I was 100% convinced I would absolutely love this book. I have a weak spot for geeky books and I’m a former gamer myself, so I thought Armada would be spot on for me. That’s why I was so surprised I ended up having a different reaction instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love LOVE the writing style and I can see why the right target group would absolutely love this story, but the whole war-alien gaming thing just wasn’t for me. Especially in the beginning I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story, which I found strange since I should have been able to relate at least to the gamer part of it all. Things did get better after the big plot twist bomb about halfway through, and I liked the second half considerably better. But still… I definitely feel this book has a specific target group and unfortunately I don’t belong to that group. Definitely give Armada a go though if you think this story sounds like your cup of tea! The writing will blow your socks off.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #1: Still Life With Tornado & We Have Always Lived In The Castle


Say hello to a new feature on It’s All About Books! As you all probably already know, I’ve been fighting with a rather stubborn reading and blogging slump during the last few months and it’s been a real struggle… I managed to get more or less back to reading, but as the pending book reviews started piling up the whole ‘getting back to blogging’ was getting more and more difficult to achieve. Currently the list of pending reviews is about twenty books long and while I know I don’t HAVE to review every book, I feel bad if I not at least mention a few things about each one. Hence, Yvo’s Shorties was born. Similar to my normal reviews, but with a 2×1 book bonus in each post that includes my rambles about both.

Let’s get started with the first edition! *drumroll*

Featuring Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King and We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson


Title: Still Life With Tornado
Author: A.S. King

Genre: YA, Magical Realism, Contemporary
First published: October 11th 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: December 14th 2017
Pages: 295

“I put out my umbrella and open it. There is a tornado of bullshit in our house. When it’s over, we will be okay.”

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This book has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, but the blurb sounded fascinating and I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. Fact: magical realism and me don’t always get along all that well. It’s a peculiar genre that either works for you or doesn’t, and for me it really depends on the execution if I’m able to enjoy the magical realism elements. Unfortunately in the case of Still Life Of Tornado I wasn’t convinced. First of all and more importantly, I really didn’t like the writing style, tone or main character (or other characters for that matter) and this hugely impacted my reading experience. I’m not saying the writing style is bad, but it’s definitely one that isn’t for everyone. The lack of connection to the characters and my struggles with the writing style made it hard for me to keep myself focused on the story, but that wasn’t all. Honestly, I felt that nothing really made sense to me at all and my eyebrows worked overtime while I was reading Still Life With Tornado. Magical realism or not, this book is definitely not my cup of tea. Still, I also feel the right person could really enjoy this quirky story.


Title: We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson

Genre: Classics, Fiction, Gothic
First published: 1962
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 22nd 2017
Pages: 146

“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.”

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I have been wanting to read this modern classic for ages now, and I’m still not sure why it took me this long to pick up my copy of We Have Always Lived In The Castle. I truly had the feeling this was going to be another new favorite classic, so I was really surprised when I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up We Have Always Lived In The Castle, but it definitely wasn’t what I found when I started reading. Because honestly, nothing much really happens during all those pages. The promise of suspense is there, and the mystery around what happened at the Blackwood estate, but those promises didn’t come true. Instead, I found it a rather dull story about two quirky sisters living isolated in a mansion, and I was almost bored while I was kept waiting with my fingers crossed and hoping to see something would actually happen. I’m not sure what to think of the ending either… The writing was interesting and I can see why it has turned into a modern classic, but personally I was quite disappointed with what I found. Fans of slowpaced, mostly character-driven stories will probably enjoy this story a lot more though.


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ARC REVIEW: Killman Creek – by Rachel Caine @amazonpub @rachelcaine

Title: Killman Creek
(Stillhouse Lake #2)
Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: December 12th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 10th 2017
Pages: 348

“You never understand how vulnerable you are in this age of social media until something breaks against you, and then… then it’s too late.”

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

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I first discovered this series earlier this year when I had the chance to read an ARC copy of Stillhouse Lake. I found myself being completely blown away by it and the story went straight to my list of all time favorites. The writing! The plot! The suspense! A psycho serial killer! Badass main characters! Every single element of Stillhouse Lake was perfectly executed and together they formed one hell of a thriller. I guess you can imagine the sequel Killman Creek was one of my most anticipated releases and I squeeled like a little girl when I opened the email with the invitation to read an ARC.  And not just because of the gorgeous cover; I was dying to find out what both Gwen and Melvin were up to next. I didn’t think it would be possible to reach the same level of brilliancy of the first book… But I was wrong. I was hooked from the very first page and the story didn’t let me go until the very end. Or more especifically: I was left with a huge book hangover… Because Killman Creek definitely ends with a BANG.

The sequel has a slightly different focus in general and has a lot more action and gruesomeness than Stillhouse Lake. I personally could really appreciate this escalation in violence and action and it suits the situation the characters find themselves in and their development in general. I don’t mind a little action in my thrillers either, but I can see why some would be put off by this change. Trigger warnings for those who are sensitive to gruesome and torture scenes! But trust me, this series is absolutely worth your time if you enjoy a good serial killer thriller. Not only is the story both engaging and brilliantly written, the plot is also well developed and the character development excellent. I won’t give away too much to avoid spoilers, but it was intriguing to see them react to the different (dangerous) situations. The ending was explosive and left me wanting for more… Book number three will definitely be right on the top of my 2018 most anticipated releases! And I can highly HIGHLY recommend this series to fans of the genre. Be ready to get your socks blown off.

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

Gwen Proctor might have won a battle against her ex-husband and serial killer Melvin Royal, but the war is not over. Especially since he somehow broke out of prison and is now able to hunt them down actively. And after she received a text saying she won’t be safe anywhere now, she knew she had to do something to protect the lives of her children. And Gwen will do whatever it takes… Even if this means using unorthodox methods or putting her own life in danger.

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Earlier this year, Stillhouse Lake had earned an immediate place among my all time favorite books, and the sequel Killman Creek has only reconfirmed my love for this series. A mindblowingly good serial killer thriller packed with plot twists, action and a healthy dose of suspense and creepiness… Both the writing and character development are excellent and I personally liked the increased intensity and action in Killman Creek; I feel it helped demostrate the escalation of the whole situation and all its consequences. And that ending! I will be waiting impatiently for book number three to find out what will happen next. Serial killer thriller fans, read this series!


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