ARC REVIEW: The Electric Heir – by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir
(Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Skyscape
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 479

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t make it true.”

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

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After enjoying the first book of this duology last year, I was excited to meet up with the main characters again in The Electric Heir. But before we continue with my rambles, can we just take a second to admire this absolutely gorgeous cover? Both Feverwake covers are simply stunning and most definitely fit this story as well, as it can be seen as a direct reference to the magical powers so fundamental to this story. Cover love aside, there are quite a few other elements that made this duology work for me.

The first thing that stands out in the Feverwake books is the dystopian setting and worldbuilding in general. While not entirely original, the dystopian world where a magical virus ravages the world, killing most and leaving the survivors with supernatural powers, is without doubt intriguing. While roughly based on actual US states and cities by name, the story has an obvious dystopian feel both because the country and government as we know it is long gone and the story is actually set in the future (2123 to be exact). The worldbuilding itself isn’t all that extensive, but solid enough to give the story the right backdrop.

One of the things I liked most about both books was the magic and the fact that there was a wide range of different supernatural powers as well as level of strength after surviving the virus. It was interesting to see the different characters develop their power over time as well as seeing the power change them… And as the blurb already states, the sudden absence of that power too. Magic is without doubt essential to the plot and definitely spiced up this story! As for the plot itself… It was interesting to see the new direction this story took. Lehrer is clearly the supervillian of this story and the main goal is to defeat him before things really spin out of control. I do admit that some parts of the plot were quite cliche and the pace can be considerably slow in points. Especially the second made the story drag in certain parts, but overall curiosity won out as I wanted to know how it would all end.

There are a lot of trigger warnings involved when it comes to The Electric Heir, including genocide, abuse, rape, mental health, suicide and addiction (full list available on the author’s website). There are a lot of deeper meanings to be uncovered while reading this duology and some parts even give off a political vibe, but I personally thought this only gave the story a little something extra. There are quite a lot of heavy elements included in The Electric Heir and if you are looking for a balanced and happy story this would definitely be the wrong place to look for it. But life isn’t all about happy endings and it made this story feel a lot more realistic because of it. I personally found the ending itself of The Electric Heir a bit abrupt, but I guess it does give you closure and all in all it’s a well rounded duology that wrapped things up nicely. If you are looking for an entertaining YA dystopia that isn’t afraid to go dark, love a good LGBT romance and don’t mind a dose of teen angst and a slower pace, this Feverwake duology is definitely for you.


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep – by H.G. Parry #blogtour @Tr4cyF3nt0n @OrbitBooks @hg_parry

Hello and welcome to my stop of the The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep blog tour! A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I admit I was sold as soon as I read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I think any booklover would love to have the power to bring their favorite characters into the real world… I just couldn’t wait to read this debut, and it turned out be a serious contender for favorite book of 2020 even this early in the year. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep
Author: H.G. Parry
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Books About Books
First published: July 23rd 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: January 26th 2020 
Pages: 496

“Nothing stays hidden. Secrets are always found out, and the world is unforgiving.”

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

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First of all I have to say that my mind is blown by the fact that this is in fact a debut, and that I will most definitely be eagerly anticipating anything that H.G. Parry writes in the future. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep literally had me as soon as I first read the blurb. I love my bookish books and I don’t think that there exists a booklover who wouldn’t want to have the power to bring their favorite literary characters into the world… Let alone reading a story about a main character who can do just that. My instincts told me I was going to enjoy this story, but what I didn’t expect was to find a story that blew me away so completely that it is already a serious contender for book of the year even this early into 2020. High praise, but 200% deserved!

So, what makes this book so special? Well, there are actually many aspects that contributed and together turned The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep into a true masterpiece. Let’s start with the beginning, and let’s talk about the worldbuilding behind this story. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep is set in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a setting in a real world with a twist. You can call it urban fantasy, you can call it magical realism, but the fact is that fiction and reality collide and this story has more than a magical touch. I personally adored this mix of fantasy and fiction and I thought the balance was just right. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has a firm foot in both ‘worlds’ and it shows in the fact that our main character Charley can in fact travel and exist in both.

This brings us immediately to the literary references and elements in this debut, which are irrevocably related to both the worldbuilding and the plot. Why? It is the many literary characters and the mysterious appearance of the Street invisible to the real world that really makes this story stand out and they are without doubt the keystones this story is built on. From classic characters like Sherlock Holmes, Uriah Heep, Dorian Gray and Mr. Darcy to more modern representations such as Matilda and The White WitchThe Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep provides us with a rich and diverse literary selection to treasure as the different characters appear and contribute to this new story. Anyone who loves bookish elements and literary references in their stories will be absolutely delighted by not only just how many you can discover while reading The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep, but also by how they are incorporated into the story itself. And I have to be honest here and say that these elements alone already turned this story into a new favorite for me.

There is more to love in The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep though. Next up is the plot itself and its many twists as things slowly evolve towards that inevitable final confrontation. Like I said before, I loved the mix of fiction and fantasy and that same balance is used to construct the plot. We have two brothers, Rob firmly planted in the real world and Charley always with his nose in books and with a very peculiar power. His ability to bring literary characters into the real world is fascinating and it was intriguing to learn more about his powers and everything it entails as the plot evolves. The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep has that hint of danger and adventure as the main characters discover a street that nobody can see… And soon their world as they know it is turned upside down forever. The plot is filled with twists and turns and you will find yourself cheering on the characters along the way… Worrying for them as they encounter danger, and keeping your fingers crossed everything will be alright in the end. Engaging, well constructed and highly highly entertaining too!

The characters themselves are absolutely fascinating as well. There are the many literary characters of course, which were a pleasure to meet and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. They each seem to maintain their original personality traits as well as adding something extra to the plot… And it definitely made me pick up a couple pending classics as well as reread old favorites! The real star of this book is Charley of course, as he is the one with the power to bring literary characters into the real world, or as they call him ‘the summoner’. He is simply an ode to bookish characters and extremely easy to connect to… Even though he doesn’t always make the best decisions. His brother is the completely opposite and in that way helps balance the story as well as keeping the story from straying into the fantasy genre completely. I also loved the mystery around the villian of this story and how this unknown identity is used to add suspense and a hint of urgency and danger to the plot.

The writing was also simply sublime, and those final plot twist reveals as well as the ending itself utterly satisfying. I loved my time with The Unlikely Escape Of Uriah Heep from the very first page until the very last and I can already see myself rereading this story in the future. It’s an absolutely brilliant debut I cannot recommend enough if you enjoy masterly crafted bookish stories with a magical touch and a hint of fantasy. And like I said before, a serious and worthy contender for Best Book Of 2020!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

H.G. Parry lives in a book-infested flat in Wellington, New Zealand, which she shares with her sister and two overactive rabbits. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English, Film, and Media Studies. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #138 – The Family & A Curse So Dark And Lonely

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two 2019 releases belonging to two completely different genres… But both turned out to be winners. I already knew I was going to enjoy The Family, as I love everything Louise Jensen writes, and my instincts were absolutely right! And I had some doubts about A Curse So Dark And Lonely, but I ended up enjoying it a lot better than I hoped I would.


Title: The Family
Author: Louise Jensen

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: October 3rd 2019 
Publisher: HQ
Finished reading: November 30th 2019
Pages: 383

“Family should stick together. Protect each other. Instead, I chose to come here.

This is all my fault.”


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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of anything Louise Jensen writes, so I guess you can imagine how sad I was when I discovered I couldn’t request an ARC this time around… I preordered a finished copy instead, and I’ve been waiting impatiently to read it ever since my copy arrived. I can now guarantee you: Louise Jensen has done it again. I started reading The Family late on a Friday night and after only a couple of pages I decided to stop before I couldn’t stop anymore… Because I already knew I was going to want to keep reading. And that is what I did the next day: I cleared my schedule, sat down and kept turning those pages until I reached the end. The Family is definitely one of those psychological thrillers you will want to read in one sitting! And between the plot, writing, character development, secrets and twists, you will find it a very easy job to do just so. The story is told using different POVs, sometimes staying with the same character during various chapters and sometimes switching rapidly between chapters and characters. These everchanging dynamics add to the overall suspense of the story and definitely gives The Family a little something extra. The plot itself is fascinating as well. The cult like feel of the Oak Leaf Farm and its inhabitants, the vulnerability of Laura and her daughter, the secrets and twists that keep you guessing… And on top of that, the plot development is simply spot on and truly enhanced the reading experience for me. The main characters themselves are without doubt interesting as well. Flawed, well developed and realistic, they form the bricks this story stands on and they help turning The Family into the psychological thriller masterpiece it is. Fans of the genre are missing out if they haven’t read The Family or her other titles yet!


Title: A Curse So Dark And Lonely
(Cursebreakers #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: January 29th 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Finished reading: December 1st 2019
Pages: 496

“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”


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There has been quite some hype around A Curse So Dark And Lonely this year, and you all know how hyped books and me tend to get along… I’ve been avoiding this first book of a new series by Brigid Kemmerer to be honest, but I just couldn’t resist any longer when I was in the mood for a little something different. I haven’t read nearly enough YA high fantasy this year, and it turns out I was long overdue for a dose of the genre. I ended up enjoying A Curse So Dark And Lonely so much more than I hoped I would! While it’s true that I’m not a big fan of Rhen, I LOVED Grey’s character and Harper was a solid lead as well. The details involving Emberfall and its curse are without doubt intriguing and well developed too. It was interesting to see fantasy and the real world collide and there was quite a some action involved as well. I also appreciated that the romance wasn’t omni-present in this first book. Instead, it’s mostly slowburn romance with only a hint at a possible love triangle… And I just loved the romance between Jack and Noah! A Curse So Dark And Lonely definitely ends with a cliffhanger though, so I’m happy the wait for the sequel won’t be too long. I do hope we’ll see more of Grey in the second book, or else I would probably end up quite disappointed…


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YVO’S SHORTIES #137: Mary Poppins & How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a children’s classics edition with two classics I somehow never actually read despite having watched the movie adaptations multiple times. Mary Poppins was a childhood favorite movie of mine, so I fully expected to love the book as well… But things weren’t ment to be. I did love the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas! story though. I so wish I had discovered Dr. Seuss when I was still a kid!


Title: Mary Poppins
(Mary Poppins #1)
Author: P.L. Travers

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: 1934
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: November 26th 2019
Pages: 232

“Mary Poppins was very vain and liked to look her best. Indeed, she was quite sure that she never looked anything else.”


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It’s easy to say that the Mary Poppins movie is one of my childhood favorites, and I have seen it countless times over the years. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke really made their characters come alive for me, and I’ve been wanting to read the original story for quite some time now… What I didn’t expect is just how disappointed I was going to be by the book. Oh yes, Mary Poppins turned out to be one of the exceptions where I most definitely 200% preferred the book. Why? One big reason stands out: Mary Poppins. And more especifically, just how vain, arrogant and plain nasty she is in the book. It seems like she only cares about her looks, she treats the children like dirt and I seriously don’t understand why Michael, Jane and the twins even warm up to her at all. Imagine the Julie Andrews version of Mary Poppins and invert her personality completely (except for the fact she likes everything spick and span), and you have some idea of what the original version of Mary Poppins is like… I really don’t get why this would be something children would enjoy, even back then. The writing itself is solid and the little adventures in each chapter intriguing, but I was so put off by Mary Poppins’ character that I just couldn’t enjoy it. I was going to read the rest of the series afterwards, but as you might imagine I’m just going to pass and rewatch the original movie once again to get rid of that bad taste in my mouth.


Title: How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Author: Dr. Seuss

Genre: Classics, Children, Fantasy
First published: October 12th 1957
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Book
Finished reading: December 4th 2019
Pages: 64

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”


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I’m probably the last person on earth to pick up How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but somehow Dr. Seuss just wasn’t all that known in the Netherlands back when I was little… Or at least I never came in contact with his books (and trust me, I basically raided the library on a weekly basis back then). I’ve seen the movie adaptation multiple times, so I was very familiar with the story already, but finally being able to read the original book was an absolute delight. I sure wish I could have read this book when I was little, and if we decide to have kids one day, I’m definitely going to get all of his books and introduce them to the world of Dr. Seuss. The rhyme, the wording, the illustrations, the deeper message that Christmas isn’t just about presents and food… There is a lot to love and it’s really made me want to watch the movie again too. The perfect read to get into that Christmas spirit and also perfect to read to children!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #121 – Smoke In The Sun & The Cellar

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around to YA reads that I fully expected to enjoy thoroughly, but failed to blow me away in the end. The first is the duology conclusion Smoke In The Sun by Renee Ahdieh, which I was expecting to be another 5 star read after loving the first book last year, but it wasn’t ment to be. And while the premise of The Cellar by Natasha Preston is absolutely fascinating, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would.


Title: Smoke In The Sun
(Flame In The Mist #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 1st 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: August 20th 2019
Pages: 416

“Honor was a thing to hate. It drove people to act foolishly, as though they were heroes. As though they were invincible.”


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I’m still surprised I reacted this way to this duology conclusion, because I absolutely loved Flame In The Mist last year and it was one of my 2018 favorites. It might have been that my expectations were set too high, it might have been that I should have reread the first book before starting Smoke In The Sun because I had forgotten about a lot of details… But the fact is, I never felt that same love for the sequel. Even with the help of the glossary in the back, I kind of struggled to keep all the different characters, POVs and plotlines apart, and that made me enjoy the story a lot less. The writing is solid, and I liked the Japanese elements incorporated into the story, as it gives the story the right atmosphere. I would have liked to see the magic more developed though, as it would have given the story that little something extra. Instead, Smoke In The Sun focuses a lot on the relationships between the different characters. To make things worse, we have a love triangle to deal with… And I wasn’t sure if I liked the character development of certain characters. I still think Mariko is a very strong and resourceful main character, and I still liked Okami, but for me Smoke In The Sun lacked some of that special ‘magic’ that turned the first book into a favorite for me. It’s not a bad read, but sadly it wasn’t what I hoped it would be either.


Title: The Cellar
(The Cellar #1)
Author: Natasha Preston

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Finished reading: August 22nd 2019
Pages: 368

“This was a morning from a nightmare – one that I couldn’t wake up from.”


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I’ve had The Cellar on my TBR for quite some time now… When my TBR jar decided it was time to read it and I reread the blurb, I was instantly excited to finally pick it up. The premise of this story is absolutely fascinating and I’ve been looking forward to read it ever since. But somehow, I didn’t enjoy the actual story as much as I thought I would. The elements are there: a twisted serial killer, a kidnapping, a prolonged hostage situation… But somehow it was all overshadowed by just how whiny and annoying the main character Summer was. I get that she is in an impossible situation and to say that she is having a hard time is an understatement, but I really couldn’t stand her character and the chapter set before the kidnapping only reconfirmed those feelings. There was too much romance and teen angst involved for me to take the plot seriously, and the final twists were not at all credible either. Another thing about the plot: the whole ‘trapped inside a room by a twisted individual’ scenario has clearly been done before, and sadly executed better in other stories I’ve had the chance to read so far (including Room, The Butterfly Garden, The Bunker Diary). It’s by no means a bad read and the serial killer we are introduced to is without doubt seriously twisted, but somehow The Cellar didn’t manage to convince me completely despite the promising premise. I don’t think I will be reading the sequel any time soon…


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YVO’S SHORTIES #117 – The Rose & The Dagger & An Unwanted Guest

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two titles I’ve been meaning to read for a while and I both ended up enjoying a lot. The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh is an excellent conclusion of the duology and I loved the premise of An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.


Title: The Rose & The Dagger
(The Wrath & The Dawn #2)
Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: April 26th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 30th 2019
Pages: 420

“True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”


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Let’s face it: I’ve been meaning to read this sequel for years. I really enjoyed the first book of the The Wrath & The Dawn duology back in 2015 despite the slow start, but somehow I never picked up the second book when it came out in 2016… I’m glad I finally did though, because it’s without doubt a worthy sequel! While it’s true that it has been four years (whoops!) since I read the first book and it’s a bit hard to compare the two as it has been so long, I think I actually prefer The Rose & The Dagger over the first book. The annoying love triangle is still there, and it’s still one of the main focuses of the story, but I liked what the rest of the story had to offer. Between the writing, bantering between characters and the magical elements I had a great time reading The Rose & The Dagger and I had forgotten how interesting this high fantasy world was… Some aspects of the plot came a bit as a anticlimax, but overall I liked the developments of this story. War, love, magic and despair; you will find it all in The Rose & The Dagger. It’s without doubt a worthy ending to this duology and Shahrzad and Khalid’s story. Also, I adored the epilogue! If you enjoyed the first book, you will without doubt have a great time reading the sequel as well.


Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: July 26th 2018
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Finished reading: August 2nd 2019
Pages: 304

“I’ve told the truth, but I’ve found that people believe what they want to believe. I can’t help that.”


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After enjoying The Couple Next Door last year, I’ve been looking forward to try more of Shari Lapena‘s books. I came across An Unwanted Guest when I was putting together my N.E.W.T.s Readathon TBR, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally read it. I definitely enjoyed what I found! The plot of this story kind of has that Agatha Christie and And Then There Were None feel, with a limited amount of characters being ‘trapped’ in a remote location and one by one characters starting to turn up dead. I always have a weak spot of this kind of premise and I definitely loved how Shari Lapena developed the plot in this story! The beginning of An Unwanted Guest might be a tad confusing with the introduction of so many characters in such a short time, but as soon as you are able to keep them apart it is really easy to start enjoying yourself. The setting in the remote hotel in the middle of winter is an interesting one, and definitely works perfectly for the plot. And as soon as the first body is discovered, you will feel the suspense building up page after page. Was it an accident? Or is there a murderer amongst the small group? The character and plot development is really well done and helps build up the suspicion between the different characters. Plot twists and secrets are used to keep you on the wrong track, and the situation quickly spins out of control. And that ending! If you are looking for an entertaining psychological thriller with a violent twist and, like me, love the whole ‘locked room’ premise, An Unwanted Guest is without doubt a great choice.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #105 – We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (DNF) & The Confectioner’s Guild

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around I was less lucky with my reading choices… The first, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby, ended up being a DNF for me as we definitely didn’t get along. The second, The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana, started out good enough, but things soon fizzled out and the story failed to impress me in the end.


Title: We Are Never Meeting In Real Life
Author: Samantha Irby

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: May 30th 2017
Publisher: Vintage
Finished reading: June 4th 2019
Pages: 272
DNF at 42% (114 pages)

“And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just tell some more stupid jokes. Good thing I’m hilarious.”


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Give me a cat on a cover and I’m immediately intrigued, and give me a promise of a potentially funny memoir and consider me signed up for the challenge. I’ve been looking forward to pick up We Are Never Meeting In Real Life despite the mixed reviews and despite the fact I hadn’t heard of the author before. Maybe I should have checked out her blog to see if her writing style would be for me, because there is one thing for sure: her writing and me definitely didn’t get along. I love my snarky humor, but we are most definitely NOT going to be meeting in real life or getting along for that matter… I’m going to be honest here and say I just felt the author was too full of herself (see quote above) and trying way too hard to be funny and it had the complete opposite effect on me. Add an overdose of sex references to the whole self-centeredness and I had no other option than to simply throw in the towel at 42%. I never like making the decision to DNF a story, but sadly the writing style and content was such a struggle for me that I just couldn’t force myself to read the other 58% of the essays. Hereby I declare We Are Never Meeting In Real Life officially my fourth DNF of the year and it’s easy to say it wasn’t the reading experience I was hoping for. Note to self: next time, don’t get distracted by a cute cat on the cover and investigate first before deciding to read another ‘funny’ memoir. If you are able to connect to her humor and don’t mind a lot of sex-centered comments, you will probably have a better time reading We Are Never Meeting In Real Life though.


Title: The Confectioner’s Guild
(The Confectioner’s Chronicles #1)
Author: Claire Luana

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: October 23rd 2018
Publisher: Live Edge Publishing
Finished reading: June 5th 2019
Pages: 327

“Small things change the course of history.”

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I stumbled upon this series while browsing for books with a food element for a challenge, and both cover and blurb sounded positively delicious. I’ve been looking forward to bite into The Confectioner’s Guild ever since (did I mention before I love baking?), and when I started reading I really liked what I was tasting. The fantasy world, the many many baking references, the mystery around Kasper’s death and Wren’s past, the existence of the Gifted… Oh yes, there were a lot of interesting ingredients in play. The Confectioner’s Guild reads quite fast at first and part of this has to do with the writing, which starts out engaging and interactive. It’s true though that things start slowing down a bit after a while and the initial flame peeters out mostly… I think a lot of it has to do with the introduction of sappy romance in the plot, which distracts from the murder conspiracy and delicious baking elements. It also had to do with Wren, who started to get on my nerves with the whole ‘I can’t trust anyone’ and then ‘I’m trusting them anyway’ repeating over and over again. The romance itself mostly felt forced and unnatural for me, but at least we don’t have a love triangle (or at least for now). I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Confectioner’s Guild, because while I loved certain elements, there were others that failed to convince me including the ending. But there is one thing for sure: you will crave lots of baked goods before you reach the final page! I’m really tempted to make another batch of these rose buttercream cupcakes I prepared two weeks ago for a birthday party just because they match the cupcake that changed Wren’s fate so well. 😉


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