ARC REVIEW: Come Tumbling Down – by Seanan McGuire @torbooks

Title: Come Tumbling Down
(Wayward Children #5)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: January 2nd 2020 
Pages: 160

“For people like her students – people like Eleanor herself – belief was the rarest gift of all.”

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

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I’ve been a Wayward Children fan ever since I read the first book back in 2018, and each sequel so far has only reconfirmed my love for this series. I’ve been waiting impatiently for book number five ever since I finished In An Absent Dream last year, so of course I was over the moon when my request for Come Tumbling Down was actually approved and I was offered the chance to read this sequel a few days early. I literally dropped everything I was doing and devoured this little gem in a matter of hours after it appeared on my kindle… And guess what? I have just found a new favorite Wayward Children installment!

Oh yes, I already loved my previous meetings with Eleanor West’s students, but there was just something about Come Tumbling Down that made me love this newest adventure even more. From the very first pages to the last, I was completely under the spell of both the writing, plot and characters. First of all a disclaimer: this is definitely a series you need to read in order, because you will both be missing out on crucial information about characters and their worlds as well as finding yourself spoilers for the previous adventures otherwise. Trust me: you won’t regret reading them, as every single one has been fantastic so far in the first place… That said, in Come Tumbling Down we return to the horror world of Jack and Jill, a world we first learned about in the second book Down Among The Sticks And Bones. A selection of other students make their appearance as well as they join Jack on a new quest when she returns to ask for help. You will find multiple references to the previous books along the way, both regarding the characters and the things that happened… I personally loved those little reminders and it definitely made me want to binge reread all books together to see if I remembered everything right.

I have loved the worldbuilding behind this series since the beginning, with the students finding doors to different worlds and afterwards being trapped in the real world again. Regular fiction is mixed with fantasy and it has been fascinating to learn more about the different worlds the students once belonged to and now want to return to. Each world is unique in its own way, and the Moors Jack and Jill traveled to is without doubt one of the most brutal ones. Like the second book, Come Tumbling Down is essentially a very dark read with quite a few horror elements; those including the vampire and mad scientist references. It was absolutely fascinating to learn more about how the Moors exactly work, with its electricity and the delicate balance between the different powers at play.

As for the characters… Most characters we already know, and meeting up with them again felt like meeting up with old friends. The main characters in general are easy to like and being able to see them evolve over time has been a true pleasure. We have some new characters as well, including Alexis and Gideon, and I liked what they added to the plot. The plot itself is quite complex for a story this short, but well rounded and with an ending that is without doubt satisfying. I loved every single minute with Come Tumbling Down and I already know it will appear on my list of 2020 favorites even this early on in the year. Oh yes, it’s THAT good! Simply electrifying.


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BOOK REVIEW: Changeling – by Matt Wesolowski @Orendabooks

Title: Changeling
(Six Stories #3)

Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: November 8th 2019
Pages: 194

“It’s like an urban myth, a legend that has refused to die; this case has resurfaced again and again in my life. This case has an inexorable pull. Whether I like it or not.”


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I know I’m late when it comes to the Six Stories party, having only discovered the series this year, but I’ve become a fast and irrevocable fan. While my first experience with this series was already brilliant, the second book blew me away completely and I wasn’t sure how any sequel would manage to live up to it. I shouldn’t have doubted the writing powers of Matt Wesolowski though, because he has truly outdone himself with Changeling. It’s been weeks since I finished reading this absolutely brilliant read, and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper… My ability to review completely destroyed by this story. Oh yes, such is the power of Changeling!

I think that part of the reason that makes this series in general so unique is its format. Told in a podcast form with six different episodes and a number of guests interviewed by an impartial podcast host, each book enables us to dive into the different cold cases from the very beginning. In the case of Changeling, we are trying to find out more about the 1988 disappearance of a child as they were driving through the Wentshire Forest. The seven-year-old Alfie Marsden disappeared without a trace when his father stopped after hearing a strange sound coming from inside his car… And no trace of the boy nor his body is ever found. What happened to Alfie that night? To this date nobody seems to know for sure, but after receiving a letter our already famous Scott King decides to give in and try to discover the truth.

As with the previous two books, the suspense is build up slowly but surely. Changeling  once again toes the line with the horror genre after the introduction of the supernatural angle and hints of the myths around the Wentshire Forest. This story isn’t just another thriller and investigation into a cold case; the strange things happening in this forest definitely give this story an eerie and ominous feel. As the episodes continue, we slowly get to know more about both the case, Alfie and those close to him. Nothing is as it seems and this story definitely has some surprises for you in store… But nothing is as big as that final reveal. I almost dropped my copy of the Changeling on the floor along with my jaw when I reached that part of the story… Those who have had the chance to read book three already will know what I’m talking about. Oh yes, Changeling most definitely ended with a bang and left me both speechless and wanting to analyze everything I just read all over again to see if I should have seen the signs… And it is without doubt a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Along with the format, plot and writing, the characters themselves also play a key role in the success of Changeling. Scott King we of course already know, and it was interesting to see him interact with and react to yet another intriguing case. The other characters that play a role in this story are all realistically and meticulously developed, making both them and Alfie’s case truly come alive for me. I had a fantastic time slowly discovering the truth about Alfie and those around him, and while not every character is all that likeable and has its flaws, I found it didn’t matter at all as it only made Changeling feel more realistic. If you are looking for a well written and spine-chilling thriller with an unique podcast format and an explosive ending, Changeling (and the rest of this series for that matter) should go straight to the top of your wishlist!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #130 – The Near Witch & The Whisper Man

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two titles I’ve been highly anticipating, and both turned out to be solid reads. I still can’t believe I’ve left Victoria Schwab‘s books until last, but I’ve finally read it and I’ve now officially run out of Schwab books to read until next year. xD And I admit I’ve been afraid to actually pick up The Whisper Man because of all the hype around it, but it turned out to be a good one.


Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: August 2nd 2011
Publisher: Titan Books
Finished reading: October 29th 2019
Pages: 320

“Sometimes people need something -someone- to blame. It gives them peace until they can find the real answers.”


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It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab‘s books, and I’ve been meaning to read her debut for ages now. I guess in a way I have been saving it, because now I’ve read it I have officially run out of Schwab books to read until new titles are published next year. Not a pleasant thought, although it might give me time to reread some of my favorites in the mean time? First things first though, and let’s talk about her debut. The Near Witch shows just how much she has grown as an author since this first story! I still loved my time with Lexi and Cole of course (then again, I might be a bit biased when it comes to her work), but the story reads a bit slower than usual and if you look at it objectively there isn’t really much going on in the plot. I really wasn’t expecting the pace to be this slow and the romance, while not that present thankfully, still kind of distracted from the fantasy elements in The Near Witch. It might just have been that somehow certain parts of Lexi’s personality started to bother me though, but I did like Cole’s character and what he represented. And the descriptions of the moor setting are simply glorious! Beautifully illustrated and it made the setting really come alive for me… The whole hint at the supernatural is spot on as well; the writing putting you under its spell from the very first chapter. It’s just like magic! I still wish I could have read this debut before her more recent work though, because those titles kind of outshined what is still a wonderful story.


Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 13th 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Finished reading: October 31st 2019
Pages: 400

“Some investigations stayed with you, sinking their claws in and hanging on, so that you would always have to drag them behind you no matter how hard you tried to dislodge them.”


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I think The Whisper Man is probably one of the most hyped thrillers released this year, and to be honest I’ve been a bit hesitant to pick it up exactly because of that hype. I decided to wait for a while, but I couldn’t resist reading it during Halloween month as more than one had recommended to me it would be perfect for the time of the year. And I definitely agree! The Whisper Man isn’t just another crime thriller, as it toes the line with the horror genre and has quite a few delightfully creepy scenes included. The eery and twisted atmosphere sets the right tone for this story, and I definitely enjoyed my time with The Whisper Man. And while it’s not among my absolute top thriller reads of the year, I can also see why so many people seemed to love it. I had some minor issues with the pace in points as well as the predictability of the plot… The basics behind the plot are not exactly all that original, but I do love the development and execution of that plot. The story definitely ends with a bang as well, although I’m still not sure what to think about how things ended… I did like how past and present were connected, the different POVs helped enriching the plot and it was interesting to see things slowly unfold through the eyes of the different characters. It’s without doubt a solid read and I will be looking forward to read more of his work in the future!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #128 – Infinity + One & Thin Air

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles I’ve been looking forward to read, and both ended up being excellent reads. Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors and Infinity + One was without doubt another great read. And I’ve been looking forward to pick up my beautiful copy of Thin Air ever since I bought it, and it was just the right story for the time of the year.


Title: Infinity + One
Author: Amy Harmon

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
First published: June 8th 2014
Finished reading: October 14th 2019
Pages: 350

“We weren’t so different, Finn and I. Cages come in lots of colors and shapes. Some are gilded, while others have a slamming door. But golden handcuffs are still handcuffs.”


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I think most will be aware of the fact that I adore Amy Harmon‘s books by now… I’ve decided to make the wait for her next story Where The Lost Wander a little less painful by tackling some of her backlist titles I still had pending. I was going to finally pick up The Bird And The Sword, but my heart screamed for a dose of contemporary romance and Infinity + One sounded perfect for the job. As soon as I realized this story was going to have references to the infamous Bonnie and Clyde couple, I was sold. I’m a huge sucker for historical crime references, and who hasn’t heard about the story of Bonnie and Clyde?! This element was definitely a huge bonus for me, and I loved how it played a role through the whole story in multiple ways. Bonnie and Finn are in many way opposites, but I loved how well their characters worked together in this story. The thorough development of both characters, giving them flaws and having them making mistakes, really makes them come alive for me and I was soon addicted to their story despite the fact it kind of has that insta-love vibe going on. But between the road trip feel of the plot, the dangerous angle, the Bonnie and Clyde references, the music and the spark between Bonnie and Finn among other things, there were many elements to make you forget about those few cliches. The writing is just as wonderful as I’ve come to expect of her work, and while Infinity + One isn’t my absolute favorite of her work, it’s undeniably an excellent read fans of the genre will love.


Title: Thin Air
Author: Michelle Paver

Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
First published: October 6th 2016
Publisher: Orion
Finished reading: October 16th 2019
Pages: 240

“Up and up my eye climbs, past sweeping, dark-red precipices and glaring white ice, to those immaculate peaks, the highest trailing a banner of wind-blown snow across a sky so intensely blue that it’s almost black.

Kangchenjunga.”


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I admit this was initially a cover love buy for me, although as soon as I read the blurb I was convinced I made the right choice. Partly a historical adventure story set in the 1935 Himalayas, partly a ghost story, Thin Air turned out to have a very interesting mix of different elements and it’s a story perfect for this Halloween month. First up we have the historical fiction aspect, as this story is set in 1935… I think the author did a great job describing the historical elements and it gives us a good idea what it would have been like joining such a expedition back then. That brings us to the next element: the international setting in the Himalayas (India, Nepal), with the mountain Kangchenjunga being almost like another character. The descriptions of the setting really made the mountains come alive for me, and it’s part of the reason I enjoyed the story. Another thing that stands out is the paranormal aspect of this story. We learn about a past failed expedition and its tragic end… And with strange things happening to the main character Stephen, you definitely get that spooky vibe. But this story also almost reads like an adventure journal where you learn more about mountain climbing, what happens during this expedition as well as the other characters as Stephen sees them. Some are definitely not that likeable, but it was very interesting what the extreme experience and weather conditions do to a person. I had a great time reading this story and definitely didn’t see that ending coming! Thin Air is without doubt a great Halloween as well as a proper Winter read. It definitely makes you want to bundle up in a pile of blankets with a steaming mug of your favorite beverage closeby!


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#WesolowskiWednesdays – Hydra edition #Orentober #bookreview @Orendabooks

Today is Wednesday, which means it’s time for another dose of #WesolowskiWednesdays !! This time around it’s time for the second book of the Six Stories series, written by the talented Matt Wesolowski, to take the spotlight. All in the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month! I admit I have been struggling a LOT to write reviews for this series. YES, the books are just THAT good! You can find my attempt at writing a somewhat coherent review about Hydra below…

Title: Hydra
(Six Stories #2)
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: December 24th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 12th 2019
Pages: 320

“It’s like a hydra, Scott; every head you cut off, two more grow in their places. And we’re everywhere – hiding, waiting. You’ll never ever stop us.”


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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Orenda Books titles, but they make me feel so SO incompetent as a blogger… Why? Let’s just say that each time I finish an Orenda title, I’m left a blubbering mess and completely lost for words. These feelings were no different when I finished Hydra, a story that blew my mind and left me lacking the skills to find those words to properly describe my thoughts. How on earth am I supposed to be able to review such a cracker of a book?! Should I just throw in the ‘just read the damn book‘ one liner and leave it at that? Or link to the glowing reviews of more competent fellow bloggers and let them convince you this series in general is an absolute must-read? Trust me, I’ve been seriously tempted to do both, but in the end I’ve decided to just throw in my two cents about what I already know will be a 2019 favorite.

So, Hydra. It’s been over a week since I finished this title and my mind is still blown and unable to string those sentences together. I already had a brilliant experience reading Six Stories earlier this year, but somehow Hydra did the unthinkable and managed to outshine that first experience. Lost for words and utterly flabbergasted… Oh yes, this book made a big impact. The podcast format, the premise, the characters, the paranormal and horror elements, the writing, the suspense and plot twists… I don’t even know where to start my review as everything was just pure magic. So please bear with me as I try to explain why you should read this series ASAP.

First of all, can we just admire that gorgeous cover for a moment? So dark, ominous and simply glorious and it definitely sets the right mood for the story. Because Hydra isn’t just a crime story where Scott King investigates an infamous murder case. Instead, it also flirts with the horror genre with the introduction of paranormal elements that will definitely give you goosebumps and chill you to the bone. The so-called black-eyed children are oh so creepy and definitely give Hydra an unique touch! The lines between facts and fiction are blurred and give this story almost a surreal sensation… If you are easily frightened, you should brace yourself before you start reading this story!

Another key element that makes this masterpiece unique is without doubt the format, which really makes the series stand out. Scott King is a very interesting character, because as the investigative journalist hosting the podcast he is both omnipresent while also mostly detached from the actual story. Like he says himself: the podcasts are not about him, but about the case he investigates. This provides for a very unique point of view! Hydra is once again told in six different podcast episodes with each episode featuring a different key character who might shed some light on what really happened during that brutal night known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. We also get snippets of multiple audio files from Arla Macleod, recorded while she is a patient of Elmtree Manor Hosiptal, which give a little more insight as to what is going on in her head. I bet Hydra would make a fantastic audiobook as well, as both the podcast format and the audio files would really come alive that way.

The writing is flawless and I completely lost track of time while reading Hydra. The Macleod Massacre is an absolutely brutal case and I was hooked as soon as Scott King started dropping the first facts about that night in 2014. Arla’s motive might seem simple at first glance, but as the hints of the paranormal start popping up things are starting to get dark and tantalizing. Are the black-eyed children just the imagination of a mentally disturbed young woman? Or is something more sinister at play? This ominous feel will raise the hairs on the back of your neck and gives Hydra that spine-chilling vibe. The suspense is again build up slowly, but I do feel that this sequel is a lot more sinister than the first book. The paranormal elements definitely play a big role in this, which are expertly incorporated into what is already an excellent plot. Hydra will also have some excellent plot twists for you in store, and once again the final episode will punch you right in the gut and leave you dumbfounded. The cast of characters definitely made for a interesting bunch as well, and especially Arla was a fascinating character to learn more about. If you like your thrillers dark, unique and glorious, Hydra will be a perfect match!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #127 – The Bride Test & The Twisted Tree

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different genres, but both books that turned out to be great. I wasn’t sure whether to read The Bride Test after my reaction to the first book, but I ended up enjoying the second book better than The Kiss Quotient… I’m glad I took a chance and decided to read it. And The Twisted Tree turned out to be another perfect Halloween read!


Title: The Bride Test
(The Kiss Quotient #2)
Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Finished reading: October 5th 2019
Pages: 320

“His heart wasn’t made of stone, after all. It just wasn’t like everyone else’s.”


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I admit I took a chance when I decided to get a copy and read The Bride Test. I’m very much allergic to sexy scenes in contemporary romance reads, and after a less than favorable reaction to The Kiss Quotient I thought it would be better to just stay away. But there is no denying that Helen Hoang can write and I love how she develops her characters, so I just couldn’t resist giving this story a try in the end. I’m so glad I did, because while I found the many many sexy scenes to be cringeworthy, I somehow enjoyed the actual story a lot better than the first book. A lot of this has to do with both Esme and Khai, who are both fascinating characters and the reason this story ended up working for me. The background of Esme, a mixed-race girl growing up in the slumps in Vietnam, adds a lot of dept to the story and it was interesting to see her life being turned upside down after she is offered an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Both her personality, endurance and the big contrast with Khai’s character made for some really interesting reading. The autism rep in Khai feels realistic and thorough, and really adds to the story as well. Sure, the many many steamy scenes definitely weren’t for me (I confess I only skimread them), but overall Esme and Khai’s story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I loved the ending as well!


Title: The Twisted Tree
Author: Rachel Burge

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 27th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Finished reading: October 6th 2019
Pages: 180

“Knowing someone’s secrets doesn’t make you feel closer to them – it pushes you away. There are some thing you don’t want to know, trust me.”


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I actually ment to read The Twisted Tree last October, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time and decided to save it for this year’s Halloween month. I had that feeling that it would be a perfect read for the time of the year, and both my instincts and the reviews I read in the past were absolutely right. If you are looking for a little something to get you in the right mood for Halloween, The Twisted Tree is a fantastic choice. Norse mythology, horror and paranormal elements are mixed together with a YA contemporary story in the most successful way… Both the Norse mythology elements and the actual setting on a small island in the middle of nowhere Norway really took this creepy story to the next level. The references to Odin, his ravens and other Norse mythology elements were thorough and formed an important part of the plot. Martha’s family turns out to have a very interesting history, one you only learn about as the main character starts discovering things herself… The spooky is mixed with a healthy dose of thriller elements as well as a few nailbiting moments that will manage to creep you out. I like how the little hint of romance balances out the creepy part of The Twisted Tree, and I myself had a fantastic time reading this story. More than recommended!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #126 – Coraline & Tunnel Of Bones

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! October is Halloween month and this round of shorties features two Halloween inspired MG reads that are both excellent for getting you in the mood for Halloween. I’ve been meaning to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman for years now, and I’m happy to report it didn’t disappoint. And of course I couldn’t resist reading Victoria Schwab‘s newest title Tunnel Of Bones as it’s perfect for this month… This sequel is another brilliant read, but I didn’t expect any different.


Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Horror
First published: August 4th 2002
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: October 1st 2019
Pages: 162

“I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn’t mean anything? What then?”


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I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman‘s work for a while now, but somehow I never actually read Coraline despite having seen the movie… Until now. I thought this little book would be the perfect title to mark the start of the Halloween month with, and is without doubt a story that gives off the exact right creepy vibe. I like how the story makes you go in blind, and only starts revealing details about the alternative fantasy world as you get further into the story. This way, you discover the facts only when the main character Coraline does, and I’m sure middle graders will be able to relate to her easier this way. The writing is of the same high quality I’ve become used to of Neil Gaiman, and while it’s not my favorite story of his, I definitely had a great time discovering the story of Coraline. And with its spooky and eery vibe, it’s a perfect choice if you are looking for a quick and fun Halloween read!


Title: Tunnel Of Bones
(City Of Ghosts #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Finished reading: October 3rd 2019
Pages: 304

“Calling the Tuileries a garden is like calling Hogwarts a school. It’s technically correct, but the word really doesn’t do either one justice.”


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I think everyone probably knows by now I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab’s books, and I’ve loved every single book I tried so far. This middle grade series is no exception, and even with high expectations Tunnel Of Bones was just as good as I was hoping for. If you are looking like a fun, quick and fabulous Halloween story, you have just found your next read! Both City Of Ghosts and Tunnel Of Bones are perfect reads for this time of the year. In this sequel main character Cass and her parents travel to Paris to find more ghost stories and film another episode of their TV show. I really enjoyed the premise in the first book, and this same recipe is used more than successfully in the sequel. The main descriptions of the French setting are executed perfectly and make it feel as if you are right in the middle of Paris along with the main characters. I like how reality is mixed with fantasy and the paranormal, and how the lines are blurred between the two. The TV show, her parents hunting ghost stories and Cass knowing ghosts actually exists is a very strong base to build a story on! The idea of her near-death-experience and her being able to enter the so-called Veil and interact with ghosts is fascinating, and I loved the new twist in Tunnel Of Bones. Cass has to battle something new in this sequel, and I really enjoyed seeing the plot evolve. You will find paranormal elements, humor, friendship, a dose of forboding and a hint of danger, all sprinkled with that French je ne sais quoi that makes you love every single page of this story. Is it too soon to ask about the next book yet? I’m seriously addicted to this series.


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