WWW Wednesdays #236 – September 4th

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?

My shelf of pending Netgalley ARCs has grown way too much in the last few weeks, so I’ve decided to read a couple of them in a row to bring the number below ten again. I’m currently reading Sarah A. Denzil‘s newest title The Liar’s Sister and I hope to finish it later today. I’m also in the need for a change of genre and decided to pick up the romance title Secrets Of The Mist by Kate Ryder… I really like the sound of this one.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
I really like the idea behind the Shades Of London series. It’s YA paranormal fantasy and horror with a twist, the snarky humor giving you a break from the darker scenes. I do believe this sequel is not as strong as the first book though… This feeling has to do both with the plot itself, the characters and the romance involved. The plot, while interesting enough, did miss that spark of the first book. It might have been the simple fact that it’s hard to live up to the previous Jack The Ripper inspired plot, but I found certain parts of the plot quite slow and sometimes not all that credible. I also had issues with certain actions and the behavior of certain characters…

2. The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
It might have been that I set my expectations too high, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about this book. The first thing that stands out is that I underestimated just how dark this story was going to be… I personally didn’t mind, but I do believe The Hiding Place would be classified more accurately with a (paranormal) horror label rather than just a ‘regular’ thriller. Especially the paranormal aspect took me by surprise, as I have to be in the mood for those kind of stories and don’t always react to them positively. It really shows the author uses the work of Stephen King as her inspiration though; The Hiding Place definitely has that King feel with the horror elements, the bugs and the paranormal.

3. The Passengers by John Marrs (5/5 stars) REVIEW 26/09
I’ve read his work in the past and I already knew I was going to like it, but The Passengers simply blew me away. What a read! The writing, the plot, the near-future setting, the twists, the characters… I loved it all, found myself to be glued to my seat and couldn’t stop reading until I discovered how it would all end. Both plot and character development are well executed and there are so many secrets and twists involved that you will never guess what is going on or who is behind it all… I liked how this story was divided into three different parts, and the ending was satisfying. The Passengers is an absolutely brilliant book and hands down one of my favorites of 2019.

4. The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/09
I loved The Archived and have been looking forward to dive into the world again. And while I have to say I didn’t enjoy The Unbound as much as the first book, I can’t deny it was still a solid book. The worldbuilding is still strong, the urban fantasy feeling with a paranormal touch right there and center, and I really like the idea of the Narrows, the Archived and the Keepers and Crew using doors to move around and do their job. My main issue is with the new direction of this story and the focus shifting towards the ‘real’ world, including a lot of private school scenes, cliches and even a love triangle.

5. The Essence Of Evil by Rob Sinclair (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 07/09
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are more ARCs… The Lies We Tell by Debra Webb and Here To Stay by Mark Edwards are NG ARCs I recently received and I’m looking forward to. And I can’t wait to read Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson for my upcoming stop of the blog tour! The first two books were absolutely brilliant and I have a feeling I’ll find another new favorite here. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.


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WWW Wednesdays #235 – August 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 currently reading the final three books for #NEWTsReadathon2019. I’m hoping to have finished The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson by the time this post goes live… I’m also starting The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor and The Passengers by John Marrs; both 2019 releases I’ve been super excited about and can’t wait to finally read.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Sleepover by Carol Wyer (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 05/09
I’m a fan of Carol Wyer’s books as her detective thrillers are a garantuee for an entertaining and thrilling ride. The Sleepover is already the fourth meeting with detective Natalie Ward and she is really growing on me… Fast, thrilling and entertaining; this is without doubt another excellent addition to the series. Natalie’s personal story evolved a lot this time around as well and I really hope she will stick with her final decision in the next book…

2. The Cellar by Natasha Preston (3/5 stars) REVIEW  15/09
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.

3. The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (4/5 stars) REVIEW 22/09
Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever read Ernest Hemingway‘s books before. *hides in a corner* I’ve been meaning to pick up The Old Man And The Sea for quite some time now, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m glad I thought of this title when I was browsing for short reads to fit one of the prompts for #NEWTsReadathon2019, because I ended up enjoying it so much more than I thought I would.

4. Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (3/5 stars) REVIEW 22/09
Warning: it’s unpopular opinion time again! The story started out strong for me and I had high hopes it would be a winner for me… But I guess it wasn’t ment to be in the end. There were a lot of things I loved, but the characters and romance made me enjoy this story a lot less than I thought I would.

5. Keeper by Johana Gustawsson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/09
After so many recommendations as well as loving the first book, I knew I was going to be in for treat with this one. And this story most definitely disappoint. Shocking, harrowing and absolutely brilliant… This sequel again blew me away! I can’t wait to read book three as soon as I can get my thoughts together and finish my review for this one.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I don’t think I can squeeze in more #NEWTsReadathon2019 books after finishing my current reads, it’s back to ARC business… First up is The Essence Of Evil by Rob Sinclair as my blog tour stop is right around the corner. Then I’m changing genres and get my dose of romance with Secrets of The Mist by Kate Ryder… I also want to finally read VOX by Christina Dalcher some time soon. And I have a new TBR jar pick! The Museum Of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, a title I’ve been wanting to read for a while and will be looking forward to.


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WWW Wednesdays #234 – August 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.

I’m baaaack!! ❤ I should have known not to take a break during #NEWTsReadathon2019 month, as I couldn’t resist reading a LOT for the readathon and spending a lot of time on Twitter anyway. xD Below an update of what I’ve been reading since my last WWW post three weeks ago!

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three books for #NEWTsReadathon2019: a new Carol Wyer and sequel The Sleepover, which I will probably finish soon, the TBR jar pick The Cellar by Natasha Preston and the modern classic The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve had the last two on my TBR for quite some time, and I’m looking forward to finally read them.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/08
2. Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW  25/08
3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/08
4. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/08
5. Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/09

6. What You Did by Claire McGowan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 29/08
7. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 08/09
8. The Willow Woman by Laurence Westwood (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/08
9. Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/09
10. Date Night by Samantha Hayes (4/5 stars) REVIEW 23/08

11. The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker (5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/08
12. Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/09
13. To Drink Coffee With A Ghost by Amanda Lovelace (4/5 stars) REVIEW 16/09
14. 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/09
15. Twisted by Steve Cavanagh (5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/09

16. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/09
17. Smoke In the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (3/5 stars) REVIEW 15/09

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’ll be reading more #NEWTsReadathon2019 titles next… I’ll probably pick up Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco first, a title I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Then I’ll read Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, which I’m so SO excited about because it has Jack The Ripper references too and the first book was fantastic… I already have a feeling it will be a new favorite. I also want to read The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor. And I have a new TBR jar pick! The sequel The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson; I really enjoyed the first book so I have high hopes for this one. It’s also the third story that has references to Jack The Ripper on this list… xD


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BOOK REVIEW: 13 Little Blue Envelopes – by Maureen Johnson

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Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
(Little Blue Envelopes #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: August 23rd 2005
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: December 1st 2016
Pages: 322
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“Sometimes, life leaves you without directions, without guideposts or signs. When this happens, you just have to pick a direction and run like hell.”

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I decided to switch genres a bit and pick up a contemporary romance read. I know these kind of stories normally are not really my thing, but I remember I enjoyed Maureen Johnson‘s short Christmas story in Let It Snow and The Name Of The Star last year and the travel theme sounded great. I have to admit I had my doubts about 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but I can see why contemporary romance fans would love this book. As I already feared, this book fell a little flat for me. Sure, the travel bits are quite interesting and it is without doubt a cute and easy-to-read story, but the whole plot just isn’t believable. I mean, why did her parents let Ginny travel to Europe like that in the first place? The things happening to the main character are not exactly credible either. I’ve had my share of travel experience myself and random things can happen during a trip, but 13 Little Blue Envelopes for me crossed the line. If you are looking for a sappy, fast-paced, easy and entertaining contemporary romance read, this is without doubt a good choice. It’s probably also a perfect summer/beach read if you can forget about the credibility details. That said, I’m not sure I’m going to read the sequel myself.

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After her eccentric aunt died half across the world, Ginny receives a package that will change her life. Inside she finds thirteen little blue envelopes with messages and instructions her aunt wrote before she passed away. In the first one, Ginny finds $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London. It also said she shouldn’t open the other ones until she completed each task, and that she couldn’t have contact with the people back home. Clearly her aunt wants to show Ginny the Europe as she knew it, and Ginny is about to do a whole lot of things she never dreamed to be doing that summer…

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I know, I know, I should have known 13 Little Blue Envelopes wouldn’t be for me. I thought the whole road trip/travel theme would distract from the cheesy romance, but in the end it was the low credibility of the plot that sort of ruined the story for me. Sure, a lot of random things can happen when you travel without a fixed destination, but this story just didn’t convince me. If you are looking for a quick and easy contemporary read and don’t mind the little details, this might still be a good choice though.

WWW Wednesdays #114 – December 7th

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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 close to finishing Kill The Next One by Federico Axat. The story started out strong, but became a little weird later on… Fingers crossed the last part will make up for it. I’m also a few pages into The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I’m looking forward to continue this classic later today. Finally, I’m about to start my very first Reading Alley ARC: Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first decided to switch genres a bit and pick up a contemporary romance read. I wasn’t too sure about 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, but I remember I liked her short Christmas story last year and the travel theme sounded great. YA contemporary romance fans will without doubt love this book, but I have to admit it fell a little flat for me. Sure, the travel bits are quite interesting, but the whole plot just isn’t believable. I mean, why did her parents let her travel to Europe like that in the first place? And the things happening to her weren’t all totally believable either. It is fast-paced though and can be entertaining if you forget about the credibility details.
* I picked up Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham afterwards, and I have to admit I had high hopes for this book. Historical fiction, set during various generations, interesting blurb… It had all the right signs, but unfortunately I had a hard time enjoying this story. I couldn’t get a proper feel for the story OR characters and it was all kind of confusing. It took a long while for it to become clear what the story exactly was about, and those plot twists and suspense around the past were actually annoying instead of entertaining. It seems like a well-researched story and it has a lot of potential, but I couldn’t warm up to the actual story. Most people seem to love it though, so this might just be another case of unpopular opinion review.
* I then finally picked up another classic: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I was vaguely familiar with the story, but this is the first time I’ve actually read this classic. It took a while to get into the story, but the second half of the story was without doubt very entertaining. I don’t think it’s my favorite classic, but I definitely enjoyed it a lot better than his other story Treasure Island.
* Afterwards, I FINALLY picked up my copy of This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab. People kept telling me I should just read this one and that I would love it, and they were totally right. ADSOM is still my absolute Schwab favorite, but this one came a close second! Brilliant, just brilliant. The prose is just excellent and I love LOVE the worldbuilding. Like in Shades Of Magic, the worldbuilding isn’t all that complicated, but this simplicity just WORKS. The idea of Verity with its three types of monsters is intriguing, and I loved the main characters August and Kate. Both the dynamics between the characters and their development is very well done and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year. V.E. Schwab has definitely proven to be worthy to be in my TOP 10 of all time favorite authors!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m trying to read more books published before 2000 for a challenge, so I might read Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown next. I also need to read both Netgalley ARCs Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride and From Sand And Ash by Amy Harmon soon…. And my newest TBR jar pick is still Little Women by Louise May Alcott., which I will probably pick up closer to Christmas.

WWW Wednesdays #109 – November 2nd

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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 finally continuing with my last TBR jar pick The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, and I’m definitely enjoying it a lot better than the first time I tried to start reading it. I’ve also picked up my Netgalley copy of No Excuses Detox by Megan Gilmore, which is turning out to be a really interesting read so far and I can’t wait to start trying out the recipes.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished The Good Sisters by Helen Phifer, which turned out to be such a great and creepy read! Definitely on the top of this year’s Halloween list; if you like a well written story with great descriptions and the right creepy atmosphere (complete with haunted convent), defiintely give this one a go. It’s brilliant!
* I then read The Scholl Case by Anja Reich-Osang, which is a true crime read about the Scholl Case where a former German mayor killed his wife. It wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, as it focused more on the history of both the mayor and his wife and the murder case was forced into the background. The whole thing read more like a historical fiction story, and I’m not sure to what level this story can actually be called ‘non fiction’. The pace was pretty slow as well…
* I then picked up Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender, mostly because I wanted to read more Halloween related books. And I really enjoyed this one! Fast-paced and just the right dose of creepy; the perfect and entertaining read for the October month. I will definitely be continuing this series soon.
* I also decided to read Sanctum by Madeleine Roux for the same reason. I had completely forgotten how good this series was! Almost no romance, a fast pace, lots of creepy scenes and the photos are a nice touch. I really enjoyed this one and I’ve moved the third book right to the top of my TBR pile as well.
* The last book I finished was Love You To Death by Caroline Mitchell, a Netgalley read that didn’t turn out to be as good as I hoped it would be. I had a hard time getting a proper feel for the story and I wasn’t really convinced by the characters in general… Lucy (killer) had a lot of potential, but Ruby (detective) felt weak as a main character and I didn’t appreciate the romance or love triangle either.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Next up are two of my pending Netgalley ARCs: The Power by Naomi Alderman and Anything For Her by Jack Jordan. I’m especially excited about the first title after I read Claire‘s review not that long ago and I can’t wait to start reading it. I also want to read Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, but I need to reread Six Of Crows first so I might wait a little while longer. And my next TBR jar pick is still A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I’ve heard so many great things about this novel that I can’t wait to finally pick it up!

BOOK REVIEW: The Name Of The Star – by Maureen Johnson

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Title: The Name Of The Star
(Shades Of London #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA, Thriller, Paranormal
First published: September 1st 2011
Finished reading: May 2nd 2016
Pages: 372
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“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”

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This series has actually been recommended to me various times in the past, but somehow I never actually managed to actually pick it up… Until my TBR jar thought it was about time I started reading it. And I’m glad I did, because I ended up really enjoying The Name Of The Star even though I wasn’t expecting the whole paranormal/ghost angle. Maureen Johnson sure knows how to write a story and create an atmosphere! It shows that this first book of the Shades Of London series is inspired by the original Jack The Ripper murders back in the 19th century, but this is by no means a historical fiction novel. The Name Of The Star only ‘borrows’ the facts of the original murders and is actually set in present day London… The historical references made when a series of brutal murders in the city mimick the original Jack The Ripper murders right to the date and time. The story has a fast pace and I really enjoyed the prose. Rory Deveaux is an interesting character and her experiences as an American teenager staying at an English boarding school are entertaining to read about and even hilarious at points. Those ‘light’ moments form the perfect contrast to the thriller and paranormal elements and made me really enjoy this read. To be honest, the whole paranormal/ghost twist kind of came as a surprise, but it did make the story a lot more original. And the ending… I will definitely try to read the sequel soon to find out what happens next. Recommended!

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Rory Deveaux grew up in Louisiana, but her parents gave her the choice where to spend her senior year. Rory decides to try her luck at an English boarding school in London while her parents work and live up north. Her new life at the boarding school is nothing like anything she experienced before, and she struggles to fit in and keep up with her school work… But luckily at least she really seems to get along with her roommate. School is not the only thing Rory has to worry about though. A series of brutal murders mimicking the horrible Jack The Ripper murders more than a century ago seem to have been taken place ever since she arrived in the city. The police doesn’t have any solid leads and no witnesses, and meanwhile the bodies seem to be piling up… And then somehow Rory turns out to be the first and only person to spot the man that is believed to be the prime suspect. The problem? Her roommate was right there and didn’t even see him… The police doesn’t know if they can believe Rory, but the fact that she seems to be the next target feels all too real.

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The Name Of The Star is without doubt an interesting read and has quite a few Jack The Ripper references for those who are interested in the famous 19th century murderer. The best part about this story is probably that Maureen Johnson actually made what could have been a simple historical fiction novel into an entertaining and fast-paced YA paranormal thriller. It might not have been exactly what I was expecting, but that doesn’t take away that I really enjoyed it and I will be trying to continue this series soon.