YVO’S SHORTIES #125 – Muse Of Nightmares & Hope And Other Punchlines

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition: two most anticipated books that both lived up to expectations for me. Muse Of Nightmares  by Laini Taylor is the duology conclusion and I once again fell in love with the wonderful wonderful prose. I have loved Julie Buxbaum‘s books in the past, and while Hope And Other Punchlines isn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still an excellent read and the 9/11 element is well handled.


Title: Muse Of Nightmares
(Strange The Dreamer #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: September 15th 2019
Pages: 528

“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”

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I admit I’ve been afraid to pick up my copy of Muse Of Nightmares… After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences. Muse Of Nightmares proves that the writing and characters truly can make up for a plot that is slightly bland in places and this story blew me away. I mentioned the characters, and they are definitely one of the reasons this duology is on my list of all time favorites. Lazlo, Sarai and the others won over my hard so fast and my heart really went out for them. I love that a lot of the characters are not either good or bad, walking that grey area instead of simply being described as monsters. The worldbuilding of this high fantasy world is again beautifully done and set the right tone for this sequel. I would definitely suggest reading these in order, as Muse Of Nightmares picks up right where the first book ended and you won’t be able to appreciate the sequel without the character and plot development in Strange The Dreamer. Then again, if you don’t mind a slower and more character driven YA fantasy, you will want to spend time devouring the stunning prose in both books anyway.


Title: Hope And Other Punchlines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: September 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.”

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Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though. First up is the 9/11 element, an event that has made a huge impact on countless of lives and I could really appreciate how Julie Buxbaum incorporated this into the plot. While both the town and the Baby Hope photo are fictional, I do feel they represent the aftermath of 9/11 realistically and show us just how devastating the impact of this single event is even all those years later. Then we have the main characters Abbi, Noah and Jack. While I had certain issues with some actions in the beginning (blackmailing!!!), it is still quite easy for these three characters to win over your heart. The dynamics between geeky Noah, Jack and Abbi will grow into something absolutely adorable and they are definitely part of the reason this book works. Abbi (Baby Hope) is a very interesting character and she makes you think about the impact one little photo can have on both the life of those portrayed and on many others as it becomes a symbol of hope. I personally adored the camp scenes and I thought the story was well balanced in general. Lighter moments are contrasted with not only 9/11 details, but also other heavy themes as Alzheimer and cancer. I finished this story in no time at all and while I do admit it’s not my favorite Julie Buxbaum, I can definitely recommend it to any fan of the contemporary romance genre looking for a story that is both adorable and heartbreaking.


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WWW Wednesdays #240 – October 2nd

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?

No October is complete without spooky reads, and I’ve been saving Victoria Schwab‘s newest title Tunnel Of Bones especially for this Halloween month. I’m so excited to be diving into this sequel! I’m also starting another ARC: Close To You by Kerry Wilkinson. The blurb sounds absolutely brilliant, so I can’t wait to see if the story itself lives up to expectations. His writing is great, so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy it…

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Hope And Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum (4/5 stars) REVIEW 11/10
Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though.

2. The Huntress by Kate Quinn (5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/10
I kept seeing glowing reviews about The Huntress and I love my WWII historical fiction, so I was super excited to finally dive in myself. It’s the first time I read one of her books (I have The Alice Network on my TBR though), and I was definitely blown away by what I found. Say hello to another 2019 favorite! The complex and rich plot, the writing, the different characters and settings… There is so much to love in this story and it’s without doubt one of the best WWII inspired historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date.

3. Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4/5 stars) REVIEW 04/10
Look out for my full review during my stop of the blog tour this Friday!!

4. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 18/10
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. 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!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up is another upcoming #Orentober blog tour read I’ve been looking forward to: Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen. I’ve been meaning to try his work for ages and I love the blurb for this story! I also need to read the ARC Like Follow Kill by Carissa Ann Lynch some time soon… And another #Orentober read is up soon as well: Hydra by Matt Wesolowski for an upcoming #WesolowskiWednesday post. I’m also reading my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman no matter what before the end of the month.


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WWW Wednesdays #239 – September 25th

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?

I’m currently reading one of my last pending ARCs this month and a title I’ve been really excited to pick up: The Huntress by Kate Quinn. It’s quite a long read so we’ll see how things go! I also wanted to change genres for a bit and then realized I hadn’t read Julie Buxbaum‘s newest yet, so Hope And Other Punchlines it is!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Snap by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
I admit I went in blind and it was the most fantastic surprise to find such an original plot! Snare wins a lot of brownie points for the drugs smuggling angle alone, but the interesting, well developed and diverse characters also have a lot to do with the success behind this first book of a trilogy I already know will be a new favorite. Snare is without doubt an excellent start of a Nordic noir trilogy with a original, exciting and well crafted plot fans of the genre will love. Recommended!

2. Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds (4/5 stars) REVIEW 02/10
The three different POVs and flashbacks are woven together into a coherent and moving story and the connection between the different storylines makes it really easy to just keep turning those pages. The main mystery is of course around Henry’s past and what happened to Francine, but we also have the question of the package Ariel was sent to deliver by her deceased mother. More heavy themes as the post-war era, regret, cancer and grief are contrasted with moments of lightness and even humor, turning Finding Henry Applebee into a well balanced read.

3. I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/10
I Will Make You Pay starts out as most regular psychological thrillers, but your attention is soon captured when the main character Alice receives the threatening phone call at the newspaper where she works as a journalist. This phone call marks the start of the so-called stalker plot and definitely takes the story to the next level. I did ended up having some minor issues with it, but overall it was without doubt a solid psychological thriller read.

4. Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 03/10
I already loved the first book of this trilogy, and the second book is just as good. There are so many different elements involved in this series, and together they make for one hell of a read. The international setting, the drugs smuggling element, crime, family, LGBT, the banking crisis, the characters, the plot… There is so much to love in Trap and I definitely can’t wait to pick up the third and final book.

5. Cradle To Grave by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 14/10
This is easily one of my favorite detective series and I’ve been waiting impatiently for this newest installment ever since I finished the last book… Kay Hunter is a force to be reckoned with, and Cradle To Grave is without doubt another great addition to the series. I literally read it in one sitting!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up is my second #Orentober read as my blog tour stop is getting close: Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir. I’m loving the series so far, so I have no doubt it will be another good one! I also need to read this month’s Criminally Good book club read The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup ASAP. I’m not sure if I have time for another read before the month is over, but if I do I will probably either pick up Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton or my latest TBR jar pick The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.


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ARC REVIEW: What To Say Next – by Julie Buxbaum @juliebux @DelacortePress

Title: What To Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 11th 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 27th 2017
Pages: 272

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then… you’ve met one person with autism.
So you met me.
Just me.
Not a diagnosis.”

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

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Forget the fact that the whole contemporary romance genre and me normally don’t get along. Forget the fact that normally I’m almost allergic to anything that can be possibly considered as cheesy. Forget the fact that I’m never a big fan of high school cliches in the first place. Because Julie Buxbaum has done it again and has proven to me I can actually absolutely love a slightly cheesy contemporary romance novel! I already had high hopes after falling in love with Tell Me Three Things last year and What To Say Next has only enhanced that love for her books. I do love it whenever an author is able to make me enjoy a genre that normally isn’t a right fit… What To Say Next is possibly even better than her previous story. Why? A very easy answer: because this story has David. Basically David won over my heart right from the very first chapter and he is without doubt one of my new all time favorite characters. He is just so unique, adorable and his character is extremely well developed! There aren’t all that many books out there with an autistic main character and Julie Buxbaum did a brilliant job portraying him realistically. Then again, the main characters were well developed in general and I really liked Kit’s character as well. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and the story is told in alternating chapters switching between David and Kit’s POV. Both storylines are interesting for completely different reasons, because this story isn’t just about David and his uniqueness. It’s also about Kit and how the sudden death of her father affects her, something that was again portrayed very realistically. I honestly couldn’t find anything negative to say about What To Say Next even though it has a few cheesy moments and high school cliches… Let’s just say that having a character like David makes you feel very forgiving.

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David Drucker and Kit Lowell don’t really know each other that well. Kit is relatively popular and has her own group of friends, while David is basically socially isolated and a loner. Then one day Kit decides to sit with David at lunch, unable to keep faking her feelings with her friends… Her dad has recently died in a car accident and she just can’t handle the reactions anymore. David seemed like a safe bet since he normally doesn’t really talk to others, but somehow the two connect anyway. But will this unlikely friendship last?

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Even though this normally isn’t my genre, I ended up absolutely loving What To Say Next. This story has once again proven to me Julie Buxbaum is an exception to my rule and I will be looking forward to her future books. Her writing style is very enjoyable to read and she is a master in creating the most wonderful characters. David is basically what makes this story into something special and he will stay with me for a long time, although it was really easy to connect to the characters and story in general. In short I can highly recommend What To Say Next!


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WWW Wednesdays #143 – June 28th

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?

I’m actually almost done with Quirky Essays For Quirky People, an essay bundle written by Barbara Venkataraman I’ve had pending for a long time now. I’m glad I finally picked it up. I’m also still reading Final Girls by Riley Sager, an ARC I’ve been wanting to read for months now even though the hype around it did make me a bit afraid to actually start reading it. The third I haven’t actually started yet, but with a little luck I will be able to start Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt some time today. Fingers crossed, because the review is due next Monday! (And for those who wonder: I won’t mention Little Women again until I have actually started reading Part two.)

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
My favorite part of The Merchant’s Pearl is hands down the existence of many detailed descriptions of the inner workings of the Ottoman palace and empire of that time. It was really interesting to see how things worked back then and how life was for a concubine… The pace was a bit slow, but the writing style was beautiful. I liked most of the characters as well, although some of their actions started to annoy me during the second half of the story. But that might just have been me and my aversion to anything too overly romance/drama in the first place. If you like historical fiction and romance, you will enjoy reading this one!

2. Each Little Lie by Tom Bale (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/06
There is no doubt I really enjoyed reading Each Little Lie even though it wasn’t as dark and intense as I would have liked. The writing style is very enjoyable to read and manages to draw you in straight away; the plot and plot twists well executed to the point that you really have no idea who is behind it all for a very long time. And while I guessed some things right, there were also a lot of things I didn’t see coming at all.

3. What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/06
Forget the fact that the whole contemporary romance scene normally isn’t my thing, forget the fact that this story in a way could be described as cheesy: I absolutely loved this story! Julie Buxbaum has done it again and is proving to be an exception to the rule… Because David won over my heart right from the very first chapter and is without doubt a new addition to my list of all time favorite characters. He is just so unique, adorable and well developed!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a lot of ARC publish dates coming up, so unfortunately I still don’t have time for other reads… I still need to read The Lost Book Of The Grail by Charlie Lovett, an ARC that was approved a day before it was archived so naturally I didn’t get to it on time haha. I also need to read both Court Of Lions by Jane Johnson and The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney, although I’ll probably read the second first. What’s up with all those historical fiction ARCs publishing soon just when I’m in the mood for a good thriller?! I do want to finally read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz some time soon though. I still can’t believe I haven’t picked up that title yet!


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WWW Wednesdays #142 – June 21st

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?

I’m currently still reading The Merchant’s Pearl by Amie O’Brien, a historical fiction ARC set in the Ottoman empire of the late 19th century. I can’t wait to dive into Each Little Lie by Tom Bale afterwards though. I have been reading less mystery/thrillers than usual this month and I’m really missing them! And after loving his other book last year, I can’t wait to read his newest story. I haven’t made progress with Little Women though, mostly because I finished part one last week and I haven’t decided yet whether to just review that part separately or read part two as well and review it as a whole. I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would and it’s taking longer than expected, so I’m not sure what to do…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Book Of Whispers by Kimberley Starr (2/5 stars) REVIEW 
I like stories with a medieval setting and I was definitely looking forward to The Book Of Whispers, but in the end it just wasn’t for me and not just because of the demon overload. The writing style, the demon descriptions, the characters, the romance… There was a lot that unfortunately didn’t work for me and the historical setting couldn’t make up for this. The idea behind The Book Of Whispers is very original though and it must have been a lot of work to mix both elements. There is no doubt this story had a lot of potential…

2. Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I was actually looking forward to Can’t Buy Forever as the blurb sounded quite interesting, but unfortunately I ended up having a completely different experience instead. I won’t repeat all the details I’ve mentioned above since I’ve already talked about each point extensively, but it does become clear it was far too easy to find things that didn’t work for me in the story. Was it just me or is the book to blame as well? I won’t be the judge to read the sentence, but at least I’ve put in my two cents.

3. Four Days by Jamie Campbell (3/5 stars) REVIEW
Four Days is without doubt less of a romance story and more of a road trip and sports-focused contemporary read. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the local scenery and the writing style was quite enjoyable to read. I liked the Dutch words popping up every once in a while and how sports played such an important role throughout the story. I wasn’t sure about the characters though and the steamy scenes were a huge turn off for me. But like I said before, if you don’t mind those you will probably enjoy this story a lot!

4. The Weight Of Lies by Emily Carpenter (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 22/06
I requested a copy of this story after seeing various glowing reviews and I will definitely be adding another one to the mix tomorrow. After a few mediocre reads, I finally found something again that was able to grab my full attention! I loved the Kitten chapters in between the ‘normal’ ones and the story itself is intriguing. I found myself eagerly turning the pages to try and find out what her mother was hiding and what secrets the island hides… Very good psychological thriller indeed! More in my review tomorrow. 😉

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have more pending ARCs to get to, but luckily the pile seems a little smaller now… So I’m keeping my fingers crossed nothing interesting will come up for a while so I can get to my own books instead. 😉 I need to read The Lost Book Of The Grail by Charlie Lovett, an ARC that was approved a day before it was archived so naturally I didn’t get to it on time. xD I might read What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum first thought because it has been calling my name ever since I was granted a copy! I also need another dose of mystery/thriller and want to pick up one of my own titles instead of an ARC just this once: Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton. Slip by David Estes is still high on my list as well.


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Friday Finds #121 – February 17th

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FRIDAY FINDS 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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