BOOK REVIEW: The Serpent King – by Jeff Zentner

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Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
First published: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: January 5th 2017
Pages: 384
Rating 4,5qqq

“Writing is something that you can learn only by doing. To become a writer, you need an imagination, which you clearly have. You need to read books, which you clearly do. And you need to write, which you don’t yet do, but should.”

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I’ve lost count of the times The Serpent King has been recommended to be ever since it was published last year, and I still don’t know why it took me this long to finally pick it up. When I first heard about this novel by Jeff Zentner, I had actually somehow mistaken it for a fantasy story (probably because of the title)… But it is actually a very powerful contemporary fiction read I sure wish I would have read sooner. I can definitely understand why so many people seem to love The Serpent King now! This novel is without doubt exceptionally well written with an intriguing plot and well developed, interesting and highly likeable main characters. I loved all three friends, but especially Lydia and Travis stood out for me. As for the plot, I was a little worried about the amount of religious talk included when I first started it, but that soon went to the background. Beautifully written, realistic and basically an emotional rollercoaster… Warning: The Serpent King will mess with your heart, so make sure to have your tissues ready! It doesn’t happen often that a book is able to make me laugh and cry at the same time, and I’m sure this story is going to stay with me for a long time. More than recommended for fans of the genre!

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Dill has been struggling with vipers his whole life, both at home and at school. His father is a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, although after his very public fall from grace he is currently locked away in prison. At school, the bullies are after him for that exact fact, teasing him for his father’s extreme faith as well and claiming he will grow up to be exactly like his father. The only way to feel better is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But things are starting to change as they start senior year. Lydia is full of ideas for her future, but for Dill graduation is more like the end of his life as he knows it…

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When I first heard about this book, I guessed wrong it was going to be fantasy novel. And I’m actually sort of glad it isn’t, because The Serpent King is without doubt a very powerful, original and well developed contemporary fiction read. Even though the start was a bit slow, I loved the prose and the character development right from the beginning. It was really easy to connect to the main characters and the things that happen to them will have a huge impact on you as a reader. The Serpent King is basically a well written emotional rollercoaster; make sure to keep your box of tissues at hand!


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You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Bloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #119 – January 11th

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

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently almost finished with The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about this book and to be honest I was a bit afraid to pick it up, but the story has pleasantly surprised me so far. I like the main characters and the fact that they belong to different ethnicities rather than the typical stereotype ‘white-American’ main character. I guess as an immigrant in Argentina, I can really relate to some of the problems they have to face. As soon as I’ve finished it, I’m reading The Thankful by Jamie Campbell, an ARC set during WWII I’ve been meaning to read for a while now. I’m also still reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but I haven’t been in the mood for classics so I’m not sure when I will actually finish it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first picked up The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, a title that has been recommended to me over and over again and wasn’t able to pick up before the end of 2016. And boy do I wish I would have read it sooner! I can understand why so many people seem to love this story, because I’m now one of them. I was a little worried about the amount of religious talk included when I first started about it, but that soon went to the background. The story is exceptionally well written and basically an emotional rollercoaster. What an excellent way to start 2017!
* I then read a pending short story ARC I have been meaning to for too long, Americosis Vol. 3 by Haydn Wilks. I had forgotten just how weird and messed up this story is! In one word MADNESS, although you have to be in the mood to absorb such an amount of crazy action and weirdness.
* Afterwards, I picked up one of my most-anticipated-2017 releases, The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda, and it turned out to be just as good as I thought it would be. Well written, fast-paced, plot twists, suspense… Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller and my first 5 star read this year.
* I then decided to pick up Mosquitoland by David Arnold on a whim; another title I have been wanting to read for a long time now. I literally flew through the pages, and enjoyed every single minute of the ride. Another well written story with interesting characters and (road trip) plot… Looks like I have been lucky with my reading choices so far!
* Next up was another pending ARC, That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson. I enjoy reading historical fiction, especially if they are set during or around WWII, but I wasn’t too convinced by this one. It took me a long time to get a proper feel for the story, although I cannot put my finger exactly on the why. It might have been the tone, it might have been the pace, but it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.
* The last book I picked up is You by Caroline Kepnes, a book that has been on my radar ever since I found out it had a serial killer element. I was so excited about this one, but to be honest I don’t understand why so many people seem to love this book. It might just be that this isn’t for me, but I had to make the tough decision to DNF it after only 5%. Between the annoying prose and constant swearing and sex talk/scenes, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have to Netgalley ARCs pending I want to get to first: Those Who Lie by Diane Jeffrey and Missing by Monty Marsden. I’m also searching for my next fantasy read, which will probably end up being Splintered by A.G. Howard since I’m in the mood for an Alice In Wonderland retelling. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson.


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You can also find me at Goodreads. Twitter. Bloglovin’.

WWW Wednesdays #118 – January 4th

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

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have been wanting to read The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda ever since my request was first approved, and words cannot describe how excited I am to be reading this story. I’ve only just started it, but I can’t wait to continue! I’ve also finally picked up Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which was about time since I have been posponing it for WAY too long.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, a coming of age story and modern classic that had a truly unique voice. The main character Molly is without doubt one of the most interesting characters of the contemporary genre I’ve encountered last year.
* I then decided to pick up After You by Jojo Moyes on a whim, mostly to have one less series on my still-to-finish list. I confess I wasn’t too impressed by Me Before You unlike most others, and I think this sequel was quite unnecessary and a lot weaker than the first book. The plot felt forced and the daughter was REALLY annoying.
* I then finally finished Point Of No Return by Martha Gellhorn, a novel that was first published in 1948 and then republished last month. It was a very interesting historical fiction read, although it did read a bit slow and I thought there would be more focus on the concentration camps… That final part felt a bit rushed if you ask me.
* My last book of 2016 was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, an audiobook and a classic I enjoyed a lot better than I thought I would. It’s my first experience with the sisters’ work, but I’m definitely going to try and read more!
* My first read of 2017 was actually a graphic novel and ARC I was looking forward to: Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen. I had a lot of fun reading it and it was really easy to connect to the stories.
* The last book I finished is Witness by Caroline Mitchell, which turned out to be a more than excellent psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m probably going to read Bird Box by Josh Malerman next, depending on which genre I’m in the mood for. I also have the ARC That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson on my list, as well as The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. And I finally have a new TBR jar pick: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson.

WWW Wednesdays #112 – November 23rd

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

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently almost finished rereading Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and of course I’m loving this story as much as I did the first time around. As soon as I do end the final page, I’m picking up the sequel Crooked Kingdom! I’m also reading the Netgalley ARC While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft, although I’m only a few pages into that one so far. And I’m quite far into my very first audiobook experience with Secondhand Smoke by M. Louis. I have to admit it takes some time getting used to the whole audiobook thing, but this action-packed story does make it a lot easier for me to enjoy the process.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, which I had picked up on a whim after being in the mood for a fantasy read. (The fact that it’s a Goodreads Choice Nominee is a bonus of course). I loved the worldbuilding and the prose is great, but I wasn’t too convinced by the characters or the ending. It’s a middle grade read though, and I have a feeling the target group will probably love this story.
* I then finished reading The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt, which turned out to be quite a refreshing new detective series in the way that the detective the series is named after doesn’t play that big of a role nor does she have a messed up private life. It’s also quite a fast-paced read, although I have to admit the sheer amount of characters that is introduced can get quite confusing at times. I had a hard time identifying where each character stood in the story, and it made it more difficult to actually just enjoy the story. I also had problems with the credibility?
* Afterwards I decided to read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and it turns out it is nominated for Best Memoir for a good reason. This memoir is powerful, raw, emotional and simply heartbreaking… The story of a young neurosurgeon who lost the battle against cancer, a man who tried to write down the story of his life during a race against the clock. The rush especially shows in the last part he wrote himself, but that only makes this memoir more authentic. The final part written by his wife was especially moving.
* Afterwards I decided to continue with Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It’s a truly interesting historical fiction novel set in both Africa and the US and follows different generations of two initial characters. The story was a bit confusing in the beginning, mostly due to the sheer amount of characters that are introduced over time. The pace was a tad slow at times as well, but overall Homegoing is without doubt a very powerful and well researched historical fiction novel.
* The last book I read is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was my last TBR jar pick. And boy do I regret not having picked this one up earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. Fredrik Backman is able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley; I can’t wait to read more of his work soon. (By the way, am I the only one who thinks Ove sounds a bit like the old grumpy man in the movie Up?)

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m still trying to read more Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, so I have The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly on my list. I also want to try and read my very first Reading Alley ARC: Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne. Lastly, I have a new TBR jar pick: Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I have to admit I have never read this classic before nor am I that excited about it, but hopefully I will turn out to be wrong about this one. At least it’s a great excuse to squeeze in another classic before the end of this year. 😉

Friday Finds #97 – July 29th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Babs Book Bistro and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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