YVO’S SHORTIES #133 – SHOUT & With The Fire On High

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! …


Title: SHOUT
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Poetry
First published: March 12th 2019
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: November 7th 2019
Pages: 304

“untreated pain

is a cancer of the soul

that can kill you”


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While it’s true that I’m not exactly a big fan of poetry, I do like to try it every once in a while if the subject matter speaks to me. SHOUT has been recommended to me a couple of times, and when I saw it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards I decided to give in and finally read it. First of all I have to say that I truly admire Laurie Halse Anderson for not only speaking up about what happened to her, but also inspiring others to open up and talk about their own experiences. I confess I’ve yet to read Speak, but it’s on my TBR and I’m definitely hoping to get to it some time soon. SHOUT is 100% free verse, so don’t expect clear poetry structure and elements, but I guess the structure works as it helps the author talking about a wide variety of subjects including her childhood experiences, her time in Denmark and more recent events including author related experiences. Trigger warnings are definitely in place for difficult elements as (child) abuse, rape, violence, mental illness, alcoholism and drugs. They are the main reason behind this poetic memoir though: SHOUT is all about the author wanting to give victims the right to shout what happened to them from the rooftops as well as telling about her own experiences. I have to be honest here and say I wasn’t always able to connect to the writing style all that easily, and some ‘chapters’ worked better for me than others. This is purely talking about the form, not the content, which is both powerful, heartbreaking and harrowing. This memoir might not be for everyone, but there is no denying its power.

Title: With The Fire On High
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: November 10th 2019
Pages: 400

“And I know the past isn’t a mirror image of the future, but it’s a reflection of what can be; and when your first love breaks your heart, the shards of that can still draw blood for a long, long time.”


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Elizabeth Acevedo’s books have been on my radar for quite some time now, and as I’m a huge foodie I just couldn’t resist picking up her newest book With The Fire On High first. My expectations were high after reading various glowing reviews, and I have to say that expectations were more than met. Because from that gorgeous cover to the very last page this story simply delivers. The driving force behind With The Fire On High is the main character Emoni. Strong, driven, talented and determined to do whatever is best for her family despite difficulties life keeps throwing at her… The fact that she is a teenage mom, but not afraid to fight the prejudices, show the world what she is worth and fight for the ones she loves is truly inspiring. The development of both Emoni and the other characters is thorough, spot on and really made them come alive for me. As a girl with Puerto Rican/black heritage, Emoni’s character is able to teach us more about prejudices, race related struggles as well as community and culture. I loved the introduction of not only Spanish words and sentences, but also Latin flavors, spices and food in With The Fire On High. I also loved just how big of a role food plays in the story in general, and all those mouthwatering descriptions and recipes definitely made me crave food. And as someone who has lived in Spain and visited Sevilla herself, those chapters brought back great memories. The writing itself is beautiful and something to savour on its own, but With The Fire On High turned out to be the perfect YA realistic fiction recipe with a dash of slowburn romance to sweeten it all. Recommended!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Lion Tamer Who Lost – by Louise Beech #Orentober @Orendabooks

Title: The Lion Tamer Who Lost
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Romance
First published: July 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 19th 2019
Pages: 350

“He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.

But nothing is so much harder after you’ve briefly had something.”


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After reading Call Me Star Girl earlier this year, I had no other option but to add Louise Beech to my list of favorite authors immediately. I’ve been looking forward to read more of her work ever since, although I was also a tad worried as I wasn’t sure how anything could live up to expectations after such a brilliant first impression. I shouldn’t have doubted the power of the words of Louise Beech, because The Lion Tamer Who Lost once again blew me away. It’s been over a week since I finished this heartrending story, and I’m still struggling to put my thoughts together into a somewhat coherent review. I guess it seems to start becoming the standard when it comes to Orenda titles! That said, after many days of procrastinating, it’s time to finally force myself to sit down and get those words on paper.

So, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. I’ve thought long and hard about what my next Louise Beech read was going to be and even asked the opinion of fellow Orenda readers… This seemed to be the title that was mentioned most, and while contemporary romance isn’t exactly my favorite genre, I love stepping out of my comfort zone every once in a while and let a story surprise me. And surprise me it did! I can now add Louise Beech to the short list of authors who can actually make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre… Trust me, not a small feat. This is also a thing I love of her books: just how different and unique each story is! There are not many authors out there who can successfully tackle more than one genre; Louise Beech not only succeeds in that but takes your breath away in the process.

There are so many different elements to love in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start. But I guess that with such a title, an easy option is the fact that part of the story is set in a lion reserve in Zimbabwe. Talk about an original setting! The many detailed descriptions truly made the lion reserve come alive for me and I loved the fact that the lions play such a big role in the story. I have a special love for any member in the cat family, so seeing Lucy and the others being treated almost like extra characters was a wonderful bonus for me. Likewise, I really enjoyed reading about the lion reserve in general and the different volunteers being there at the same time as main character Ben. While the main focus of the story is of course on Ben and Andrew, I loved just how detailed the character development of the other characters involved was. It added even more dept to what was already a fantastic story!

I just mentioned Ben and Andrew, and they are definitely part of the reason this story works so well. I’m not a big romance fan in general, but I can make a wholehearted exception for my boys Ben and Andrew. I was drawn towards both characters from the very beginning, and I loved seeing both their characters and relationship evolve over time. They won over my heart, made me root for them and then pulled out that very same heart and made it shatter into a million little pieces… I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot to avoid spoilers, but while I didn’t actually cry (I almost never do, so that’s no surprise) I ended up with a huge lump in my throat and in need of an emergency baking session to soothe myself. Any story that is able to provoke such strong emotions is without doubt a little masterpiece to me! Especially one that is so beautifully written and simply both heartwarming and heartbreaking at that.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost also includes other intriguing and sometimes difficult elements such as the LGBT element and the struggle to come out and be accepted as you are, family issues and the battle against cancer. All elements are respectfully and realistically developed and successfully incorporated into what is a rich and intricate plot. Different point of views are used to let us learn more about both Andrew, Ben and even his father… Instead of confusing you, these switches only help enriching this story. I also loved that Andrew writes and hopes to become a successful writer, and that we get a glimpse of what this journey is like through his character. I also loved that little snippets of his story are shared at the beginning of the chapters. It really gave The Lion Tamer Who Lost another unique touch while also given the title an extra meaning. And I loved the idea behind Andrew’s wish box as well!

I can keep rambling about the things I loved in The Lion Tamer Who Lost, but I think it’s pretty obvious by now just how much I enjoyed this story. Whether contemporary romance and drama is your thing or not, you should simply give this story a chance as the words of Louise Beech are like magic and will fully mesmerize you before you finish the first chapter. Alluring, heartrending and simply irresistible… This story will give you all the feels as well as break your heart into a million pieces before you reach that final page!


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ARC REVIEW: The Huntress – by Kate Quinn @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK

Title: The Huntress
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: February 26th 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: September 30th 2019
Pages: 560

“It was pointless trying to find evil in a face. So often, evil sat invisible behind perfectly ordinary features.”

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


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I kept seeing glowing reviews about The Huntress ever since it was published earlier this year, so I was over the moon when my request for an ARC was actually approved. WWII historical fiction is one of my absolute favorite subgenres, so it is easy to say that between the glowing reviews and the bonus of a favorite genre I had extremely high expectations for this story. It’s the first time I read one of Kate Quinn‘s books (I have The Alice Network high on my TBR though), and I was definitely blown away by what I found. My expectations were more than met and I have found a new favorite story as well as author. Say hello to one of my 2019 top reads!

With its 560 pages, there is so much going on in The Huntress that I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start with my review. For lack of better ideas, I’ve decided to keep it simple and start with the historical setting. Due to the complexity of this story, we have three different storylines, POVs and thus three different historical settings to discuss… The one I found most striking was Nina’s POV, as we don’t often see a focus on the Russian side of the war, let alone learn more about female Russian pilots and everything related to their role in the war. We see Nina evolve as she grows up in inhospitable Siberia and wants to follow her dream to conquer the sky… The descriptions of the different places in Russia are simply fantastic, and the same goes for the incorporation of historical facts about the female pilot division and everything that relates to the Night Witches, the bombings and other things happening during the war. And I have to say that Nina’s POV alone already made me want to hand out the full 5 stars for this story.

To contrast this rather intense storyline, we have the milder POV set in postwar Boston with Jordan in the lead. This is a story of a young woman with a passion for photography, dreaming about a seemingly unreachable exciting life but instead being pushed to tie the knot with her boyfriend and take over her father’s business in the future. This storyline is also focused on family and has that whole ‘possibly evil’ stepmother vibe… It was really interesting to see both this storyline and Jordan’s character evolve over time and slowly merge with the third POV: Ian. Ian Graham is a British war correspondent who is determined to hunt down as many Nazi members as possible after the war with the help of his colleague Tony. Their journey starts in Austria as they decide to track down the infamous ‘huntress’, and here comes Nina in play as well as the only witness who saw the woman and survived.

At this point in the story we don’t know about Nina’s past yet, and it was fascinating to see how all different storylines slowly evolve as the hunt continues and brings them to different places and closer to the final so-called reckoning. I especially liked how we only learned about Nina’s past in small doses, absorbing those final details just before the story reaches its climax. The three different storylines and POVs are woven together in the most expert way and basically give you three different high quality stories to follow all wrapped together into one brilliant masterpiece. I’m not lying when I say that this is without doubt one of the best WWII inspired historical fiction stories I’ve read to this date, and I’m not taking those words lightly… The Huntress left me lost for words.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what I can say is that between the complex and rich plot, the writing, the different characters, historical references and settings, there is a lot to love in The Huntress. While the pace might be slower in points, the story also has moments of speed (especially in Nina’s POV) and you will have to prepare yourself for a healthy dose of surprises in the plot. The writing is simply beautiful and draws you right in, and I loved the use of foreign words here and there. The character development is also sublime, and I loved how the different storylines slowly came together until the full picture is finally revealed as you fit the last piece of the puzzle. Most of the characters are so easy to like as well, partly because of their flaws and realistic development, partly because of their charms. Especially Nina stood out for me (I loved her bluntness), but it was great to follow Ian and Jordan as well. Even the ‘huntress’ was a fascinating and well developed character, though of course she can never be called likeable.

As you might have guessed, there is a lot to love in The Huntress and I can highly highly recommend it to anyone who loves WWII historical fiction as much as I do. Between an unique, complex and rich plot, beautiful writing, fascinating characters, detailed descriptions that really make the historical settings come alive and a healthy dose of secrets and surprises, you will find yourself having a hard time picking what exactly your favorite element of this story is.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Cage – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir #RandomThingsTours #NordicNoir #Orentober @annecater @Orendabooks

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Cage Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to read this series for a long time now, and this blog tour was the perfect excuse to binge-read all three books. I’m still kicking myself for not picking up the books sooner! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: Cage
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #3)

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 27th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: October 1st 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Búrið’)

“Life was like a game. Even with a handful of bad cards, it’s better to be the one calling trumps.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Isn’t it always the best feeling to find a new series to binge-read and love? You might have already seen me gushing about book one Snare and book two Trap during the last few days, and now it’s time to talk about the third and final book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy: Cage. Before we start with the content, let’s just sit down for a moment and appreciate just how eyecatching the titles and covers of this trilogy are. The titles instantly made me wonder what exactly is being hunted in the books or how the titles could relate to the plot, while the simple and colorful covers manage to catch your attention straight away… Top notch marketing and cover art I would say! Now before I start putting down my thoughts about Cage on paper, first a little disclaimer: The Reykjavik Noir Trilogy is definitely one of those series you have to read in order, because I don’t think the plot and character developments make much sense otherwise. So no cheating, otherwise you will miss out on all the fun that is this trilogy when you follow the reading rules!

Ready to read all about Cage? As I made clear my previous reviews, I’m a huge fan of the eclectic mix of different elements and POVs in the first two books. That is probably why Cage came as such a surprise to me, because there is no doubt whatsoever that the final book is quite different from the first two. I still can’t decide if it’s actually weaker though, but the road this third book took was definitely quite unexpected. Cage is set six years after the second book finishes (2017), so there is quite a gap to overcome as you try to figure out what happened to the main characters in the years in between. On top of that, the focus is almost fully on Agla this time around. Of course her character already played an important role in the previous two books, but she is definitely in the spotlight this time around.

Having the focus on Agla means that Cage is basically lacking the drugs angle so present in the previous two books, and I’m still not sure what to feel about that as this element is part of the reason why I was enjoying the series that much. To be honest, I was also quite surprised to see so little of Sonja and Bragi, but I guess their storylines were already exploited to the fullest in the first two books. Bragi actually almost made no appearance at all except for a short mention, but I guess he just retired from this trilogy as well as his customs officer job. Sonja herself, the so-called star of the first two books, only appears quite late in the story and has a surprisingly minor role in it all… Oh yes, this is 100% Agla’s book, with a secondary role for María. María’s character did appear in the previous books of course, although she wasn’t as present and to be honest she isn’t exactly my favorite. That said, we do have a new POV in Cage to shake things up a bit: the young Anton, Ingimar’s son. He definitely brings a dose of teenage angst into the story with his complicated relationship with his parents and girlfriend as well as all that talk about explosives and wanting to blow things up… I’m still not sure what to make of his POV, although it adds that hint of caos and suspense as you try to figure out what he has to do with the other POVs and if he will actually go through with his plans.

Like I said before, Cage is Agla’s book and we learn a lot about her situation, although you are also kept in the dark about what happened after Trap finished and how she ended up in her current situation. Not the prison part of course, which is hardly a surprise after the previous books, but let’s just say her emotional situation in those years in between (I don’t want to reveal too much to avoid spoilers). I personally thought the prison chapters were fascinating and helped restore part of the balance lost by mostly leaving out that now familiar drugs angle in Cage. Agla’s personal development plays a big role in this final book as well, with her first being on the border of desperation and giving up, then brought back by a new financial challenge… Having María also there, being forced to work together with the enemy, also made for very interesting reading material.

Another thing I couldn’t help noticing is that this story isn’t as international as the previous books. Cage is mainly set in Iceland instead, with only a couple of chapters set in the US as we follow María… Although I do admit that the whole investigation and amateur detective work by María adds some needed umph to the plot, especially when things escalate. María is a journalist now, and it is interesting to see this forced change in profession also caused drastic changes in her personal life. I’m glad the financial angle Agla has become known for is still here in this final book, and it’s without doubt the main connection with the previous two books. Her competitive spirit and need to always try beating the others with her superior knowledge, twisting any existent plan into something to her advantage, makes for some very entertaining reading.

As for the writing… The writing is just as solid as before and definitely one of the reasons I flew through the pages and finished this story in one sitting. A big thank you is in place for Quentin Bates‘ flawless translation, making it possible for us to enjoy this Reykjavik Noir Trilogy and a true Icelandic gem. While I confess I do prefer the first two books, mostly because of the drugs related elements and the fact I really missed favorite characters Sonja and Bragi, there is also a lot to love in Cage. It has excellent writing, and interesting plot and both the prison scenes and the investigation angle to uncover what Ingimar is up to were key ingredients in the success of this final book. Sonja shows up later on to tie some loose ends as well and I liked how everything wrapped up in the end. And there is no doubt that this trilogy is one of my favorite new discoveries this year! Nordic noir, crime triller and Narcos fans will most definitely have an excellent time reading Snare, Trap and Cage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes
in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning
playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare and Trap, the
first two books in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists
worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.


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BOOK REVIEW: Trap – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @Orendabooks #NordicNoir #Orentober

Title: Trap
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #2)
Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 13th 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 23rd 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Netið’)

“It was time to turn around, look fear in the face and swim back into the net. Somewhere in that tangle had to be the way out.”

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I know I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this series, but I guess it also has the advantage of being able to binge read all three books in a row without the long and painful wait for the next book… And while I was already caught in a snare with the first book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy, this sequel has me completely trapped and under its spell. There are so many different elements in play in this series, and all those elements together create the perfect Nordic Noir recipe. Trap is no exception and is without doubt a fantastic sequel. So, what turned Trap into such a success for me?

First up, we have the international setting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have a weak spot for stories with an foreign (to me) setting. My love for travelling as well as  learning about countries and cultures lesser known to me probably has a lot to do with this interest, and Trap is without doubt a little treasure mine for those who also have the wanderlust bug. Iceland, Greenland, Mexico, The Netherlands, Luxembourg… Those are only a few countries featured during this sequel packed to the brim with travel scenes and this story does an excellent job describing the different settings as well as giving little references to local culture. This aspect gives Trap a truly international vibe and it is one of the reasons this trilogy is quickly turning into one of my favorite new discoveries this year.

Another weak spot of mine is any mention of drugs smuggling, drugs related crime or the ‘war on drugs’. And guess what: you get a little dose of all three in Trap! We have the drugs smuggling angle, with how things can go wrong and escalate as well as the practical angle… We have the drugs related crime and maffia feel with a couple of very graphic and shocking scenes… And we have the ‘war on drugs’ in the form of Bragi and the other customs officers trying to stop the influx of drugs. All these different angles are expectly combined and incorporated into the plot and definitely give Trap an unique touch. And for me it was yet another reason I love spending time with Sonja, Bragi and the others.

This trilogy isn’t just another drugs related story though… With its complex and rich plot filled with a wide variety of interesting topics, this series truly has a lot to offer. Another important topic involves the banking crisis and financial investigations that come afterwards, connecting historical facts with fiction in a way that really makes this story so much more authentic. Agla is a fascinating character and I loved learning a bit more about the whole financial world through her character as well as the others involved. And it’s not Agla alone. Trap has a fascinating mix of different characters, all well developed and adding a little something unique to the story. I love that none of the characters are perfect; they have their flaws and make their mistakes, but they feel all the more realistic because of it. I really loved the development of the main characters in the sequel and especially Sonja and Bragi are quick to win over your heart.

The diverse characters also provide us with further interesting themes to enrich the plot… We have Bragi struggling to come to terms with his wife’s Alzheimer and trying to make her final stretch on earth more comfortable no matter what the cost. We have the family element, with divorced parents fighting over custody of their child. We have the LGBT angle and Agla struggling to accept who she is. On top of all those different elements mentioned, we have a number of plot twist bombs ready to be thrown at you at any moment… Creating that feeling of suspense and tension that will make you sit on the edge of your seat and will have you unable to let go until you find out how the story ends. And you won’t find relief after finishing Trap either. Because while it seemed like a happy ending, instead I was mostly left with feelings of dread and forboding… Will my intuition be right? Oh yes, the pressure is on! If you are looking for a dose of well written and captivating Nordic noir, love international settings, diverse characters and a complex and rich plot, the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy should be right on the top of your wishlist.


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BOOK REVIEW: Snare – by Lilja Sigurðardóttir @Orendabooks #NordicNoir

Title: Snare
(Reykjavik Noir Trilogy #1)

Author: Lilja Sigurdardottir
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: October 15th 2015
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: September 18th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Icelandic: ‘Gildran’)

“There was no way out. She was still caught in the snare, and the vicious beast had her in its bloody jaws, ready to rip away the most important part of her.”


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Why o why didn’t I pick up this trilogy sooner?!?! I have always loved a foreign (to me) setting in my stories and 2019 is definitely the year I have rediscovered my love for the Nordic noir genre. There is just something about the combination of a darker and mysterious story and the cold and harsh weather often present in Nordic countries that really makes my heart beat faster and the setting often gives the perfect backdrop for a blood chilling read.

The first book of the Reykjavik Noir Trilogy is mostly set, as you might have guessed already from the title, in Iceland and was originally published in that language. A round of applause for the translator Quentin Bates for giving us the opportunity to meet Sonja, Bragi and the rest of the characters with the help of his translation! The description of the setting is detailed and also incorporates two events in recent Icelandic history most people will remember into the plot: the 2008-2009 banking crisis and the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruptions that caused chaos in Europe with so many canceled flights and stranded travellers (including myself, as I was just about to go on a trip to the day it started). Snare is set in 2010-2011 and makes references to both events, although the criminal investigation involving Agla and the other important bankers plays a far bigger role in the plot. I personally loved these flashes of real historical references mixed in with the fiction, as it made the story feel even more authentic.

But that is not what I loved most of Snare. That prize goes to main character Sonja, Bragi and the whole drugs smuggling and airport customs angle. 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. Every single main character is thoroughly developed and evolves as the story continues… Each character has its flaws and that makes them feel so much more realistic: especially Sonja and Bragi won me over quickly and I can’t wait to see more of them in the sequel.

Snare is not just about drugs smuggling and the corruption investigation; it has so much more to offer… We have the broken family element, the heartbreaking Alzheimer situation with Bragi’s wife, a LGBT angle and a character struggling to come to terms with who she is… We have the danger of the drugs smuggling, the feeling of being trapped in a snare and being in a hopeless and dangerous situation impossible to escape from… On top of that, we have a box filled with plot twists ready to be dropped on you any time, and those twists are well crafted and most definitely will be able to surprise you. The plot is well developed as well and the ending definitely makes me even more excited to pick up the next book soon. The writing is simply a pleasure to the eye! 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!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #119 – The Dream Thieves & Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… The first a sequel that surprisingly enough ended up disappointing me: The Dream Thieves by  Maggie Stiefvater. Be warned for an upcoming unpopular opinion review! Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram turned out to be just as good as people kept promising though.


Title: The Dream Thieves
(The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Finished reading: August 7th 2019
Pages: 453

“All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers or keptfrom, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches – that’s what will be left at the end of it all.”


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WARNING: it’s unpopular opinion time again!!

I should have known that the unpopular opinion curse wouldn’t stay away… Because even though I did enjoy the first book The Raven Boys back when I read it in December 2015, I can’t say I felt the same about The Dream Thieves. It’s true that I’ve heard people having mixed reactions to this sequel in general, and I fully understand why now. Unlike the first book, The Dream Thieves almost fully focuses on Ronan, and reactions to the sequel will most likely depend on your reaction to Ronan’s character in general. My reaction on Ronan’s character is actually surprisingly neutral; there are some things I like (including heritage and ‘powers’) and other aspects I found rather annoying (including his attitude), but overall I don’t mind him as a character. Having the focus mainly on Ronan in this story means that the magic of the first book is almost completely lost though… Because it’s the dynamics between the four raven boys and Blue that made that story into a success for me. Apart from the shifted focus, I also found The Dream Thieves to be rather overlong and quite boring in points… I actually caught myself skimreading certain parts, and that is never a good sign. I do have hopes for the final two books, as more than one fellow blogger has called this sequel the weakest link of the series, but I think I’m going to take a little break before I actually continue with The Raven Cycle. Maybe the unpopular opinion curse will get bored and will go away that way!


Title: Darius The Great Is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram

Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: August 13th 2019
Pages: 320

“The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart.”


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This one has been recommended to me multiple times and I love foreign settings featuring places I’ve never been before, so it’s easy to see why I was really excited to finally pick up Darius The Great Is Not Okay. I have to say it didn’t disappoint at all. While it’s true that it took me a couple of pages before I fully connected to the characters and writing, once I did I was hooked. The power of this story is both in its characters and the descriptions of the setting in Iran and the local culture. Especially the second was thorough, detailed and well developed, making Iran and daily life in Yazd come fully alive for me and it really enhanced my reading experience. Adib Khorram is able to make you feel as if you are right beside Darius in Yazd, discovering more about his family and his roots. Darius made for a very interesting flawed character, his depression and issues with not feeling that he belongs making you think about what it is like to stand in his place and how difficult it can be to overcome a clash of cultures within your own family or even within yourself. Darius doesn’t feel American enough, but doesn’t think he belongs in Iran either, with him not speaking farsi and not knowing a lot about their culture… I really liked how the author developed this theme in what I think is a realistic way; as a Dutch person living in a quite different culture and country (Argentina), I found it really easy to relate to Darius and his struggles. I loved learning more about Iran and seeing the characters grow and develop over time in general…The ending made me kind of sad though. If you enjoy YA fiction with a foreign setting and both interesting and flawed characters, you should definitely read Darius The Great Is Not Okay.


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