WWW Wednesdays #188 – September 19th

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 three more titles for the N.E.W.T. readathon… The first is Radiance Of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah, a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I read his memoir which made a huge impact on me. I’m finishing the last Fire And Thorns novella The King’s Guard by Rae Carson first though… And I’m also starting with Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Girl Made Of Clay by Nicole Meier (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/09
If you enjoy reading character-driven stories with flawed characters that are described in a realistic way, The Girl Made Of Clay is without doubt an interesting read. The pace is not the fastest, but the story captures quite well how the characters evolve over time. Did I think every aspect of the plot and behavior was credible? Not exactly. Did most of the characters annoy me and made me enjoy the story a lot less? Most definitely. But as one of the cliches goes: ‘it’s not you, it’s me…‘. And I really think that is what happened here.

2. City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
City Of Ghosts delivers right from the cover until the very last page. I knew I could trust my instincts when I picked up this title, but this first book of a new MG paranormal series has proven once again you cannot go wrong with anything Schwab writes. It was hook, line and sinker when I started reading City Of Ghosts and I had to put all other tasks on hold until I finished reading it. The writing, the characters and their development, the Scottish setting, the ghosts, the plot… There is a lot to love in this story, and Cassidy and Jacob have already found a place in my heart.

3. Half Bad by Sally Green (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/09
I initially started reading Half Bad in Dutch, wanting to savour seeing that cover waiting for me near my reading chair. I have to say, I struggled a lot. First I thought it was the language, but I decided to switch to my English kindle version halfway through and I can confirm it wasn’t. There is just something about the writing style in Half Bad that really got on my nerves. There are a lot of short and halted sentences I just couldn’t grow used to, although I admit the writing style as a whole sadly just didn’t work for me. I struggled to keep reading as some parts of the story dragged, and I have to say that for a story this promising the plot kind of lacked action and more filling out in general.

4. The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story.

5. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (2/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
I really do think this story has a lot of potential, but instead of focusing on the more interesting aspects of the plot, All These Things I’ve Done is mostly just another teenage romantic drama with a few twists. Instead of focusing on the dystopian setting, when chocolate! and coffee! are illegal and resources seem to be limited, or the whole mafia background of Anya’s family, we mostly see the typical high school scenes with star-crossed lovers, food fights and other cliche elements. Definitely not what I thought I had signed up for. To make things worse, the main character Anya is absolutely despicable.

6. The Ballroom by Anna Hope (3/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
This historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential, but the story sort of fell flat for me. The pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story… The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more.The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much.

7. Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/09
I am so excited to have finally read this title by a fellow book blogger! I admit it took me some time to get used to the multiple POVs and I was confused at times how everything fit together, but there is no doubt this is a complex and very cleverly executed psychological thriller debut. I did guess some of the twists, some of the names are misleading and I was left with some questions after the final page… But overall it was still a very satisfying read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up two pending ARCs next: All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo and The Wife’s Secret by Kerry Wilkinson. I’m also dying for a change of genre, so I’m hoping Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard will be the fun read I’m looking for. I also want to read In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware soon.


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WWW Wednesdays #187 – September 12th

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 three more titles for the N.E.W.T. readathon… The first is a pending ARC due soon: The Girl Made Of Clay by Nicole Meier. It’s still early days, but it seems to be a fast read. I also started another physical copy and a Dutch translation of Half Bad by Sally Green. I’ve been meaning to read this series for years, so the N.E.W.T.s were a good excuse to finally do so. I have a feeling I would enjoy the story better reading it in English on my kindle, but I also know I really need the practise. 😉 I also started All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin before I realized I needed to read the ARC first.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Chaos Of Stars by Kiersten White (2/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
It doesn’t happen often that I have such an instant dislike of a character, but Isadora pretty much does the trick. What a whiny, annoying, self-centered, arrogant and disrespectful brat! Basically, she managed to enrage me on every single page, and I had to work hard on my breathing techniques to prevent myself from throwing my kindle against the wall. And no, sadly I’m not exaggerating here. Add a case of insta-love and a couple of other YA cliches and you have the gist of what happens in The Chaos Of Stars… I’m adding an extra star just for the occasional appearance of the Egyptian mythology elements the story promised.

2. Toxic by Lydia Kang (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
Even though science fiction isn’t really my genre, it was actually those elements that stood out for me. Especially Cyclo was fascinating, since the ship was almost like another character with its own development, ’emotions’ and flaws. I could have done without the more cliche romance scenes, and I wasn’t a fan of Hana, but overall I really enjoyed my time with Toxic.

3. Gone To Ground by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/09
If you are looking for a detective thriller series that keeps delivering, a plot that will keep you guessing until the very end or simply a very engaging and absorbing read, you will find all those things are covered in every single Detective Kay Hunter book. Gone To Ground is no exception and has exactly the same high quality I have become used to. I liked spending more time with my favorite team and while the case they investigate took some time to start rolling, the ending left me completely shocked. I definitely didn’t see that coming! Yet another detective thriller winner and without doubt worth the read.

4. Bang by Barry Lyga (3/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
I have been meaning to pick up another of Barry Lyga‘s books for ages. The Jasper Dent series is one of my absolute favorites and I had high hopes for Bang, but sadly it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The topic itself is really important, but I felt it was pushed mostly into the background as there was more focus on the whole pizza baking and contemporary romance in general. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, since I’m a huge foodie myself, but the story fell rather flat for me.

5. Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/09
This was one of my most anticipated releases, as I loved the first two books and was dying to find out how things would end. It might have been that it has been too long since I read the first two books and didn’t remember all the details, but the fact is that I can’t say I actually enjoyed Hero At The Fall. Amani really annoyed me, with her whole ‘I’m not worthy’ and negative attitude in general. I admire the author for not being afraid to kill of characters George R.R. Martin style, but I do feel some of the deaths were unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the plot. The plot and pace itself were rather slow, and overall I had a hard time keeping myself invested into the story. Such a shame the series had to end this way for me!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up The Ballroom by Anna Hope next as I’m trying to pass all Hogwarts subjects with at least an Acceptable grade… Afterwards I’ll probably read The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson first since it’s a novella. Then comes Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner, which I have been really excited about. I also plan to read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman soon.


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BOOK REVIEW: Stardust – by Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: February 1st 1999
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Finished reading: May 15th 2017
Pages: 266

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”

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It’s basically a miracle I could even see the cover of this one with all the dust it has been collecting for years… I guess it was about time I picked it up! Now I’ve read it, I can say Stardust is without doubt another well written and entertaining fantasy read, but it reads a bit slow and all in all I didn’t find it as good as some of my Neil Gaiman favorites. Stardust is one of those exceptions where I have actually seen the movie first, something I prefer not happening because it tends to alter the reading experience. It’s probably what happened here as well, because I kept thinking of the movie as I were reading Stardust… And this is one of the rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the pace was more enjoyable in the movie and I liked the dynamics between Tristran and Yvaine better. And the Robert De Niro scenes are just priceless. 😉 Back to the book, the slower pace used to tell this story made the whole journey feel a bit less adventurous and exciting and Stardust didn’t manage to blow me away like other books I’ve read by this author. The characters were interesting enough and I really liked the worldbuilding, but I also felt the so-called ‘spark’ was missing from this one. It’s without doubt an entertaining fairytale-like fantasy read, but I’ll stick with the movie for this once.

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Like many men of the small village of Wall, Tristran Thorn is in love with the beautiful Victoria and will do anything to win over her cold heart. This even includes finding the star they watch fall from the sky one day and bringing it back to her. Tristran is determined to do so, even if he must go to the other side of the ancient wall that gives the village its name. Normally people aren’t allow to cross to the other side, but an exception is made for him because of his past… And he soon finds out all about what’s on the other side: Faerie, where nothing is what he could ever have imagined.

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I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman‘s work and I have read various of his novels, but this one was somehow always pushed back down the TBR pile. I can’t explain why, especially since I really enjoyed the movie and have seen it various times over the years… But I’m without doubt glad I finally read the original story. Stardust turned out to be one of those rare exceptions were I liked the movie better, but the book is still a quite entertaining and enjoyable read. It reads a bit slow and wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but then again it’s hard to live up to books like Neverwhere and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane in the first place.


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WWW Wednesdays #137 – May 17th

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 another psychological thriller ARC and Bookouture read: Be My Killer by Richard Parker. And as things are going, I’ll probably be finishing it later today because I’m flying through this story! I’m also just about to pick up my copy of One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus; another ARC I requested after a recommendation and a title I’m really looking forward to.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

(Doing this part slightly different this week since I already had written short ramblings/reviews of four of these titles for my Bout Of Books wrap up anyway… I like the look of it though; should I keep it this way in my next WWW???)

1. Roses Of May by Dot Hutchison (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
While not as strong or twisted as the first book, I still very much enjoyed Roses Of May. Especially the final part had a very fast pace and the writing style is very enjoyable to read. The serial killer and plot itself are both intriguing and the chapters with the killer’s thoughts added another level of suspense. I also might or might not have squealed when I saw my name mentioned in the story (doesn’t happen often, trust me!). The plot twists are interesting as well, although I did find out the killer’s identity early on. Without doubt still recommended though!

2. Liar by K.L. Slater (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
Liar turned out to be another excellent psychological thriller read full of surprises. I found myself literally flying through the pages as I kept wondering about the chapter the story started with… Because Liar both started and ended with a bang. This is unreliable narrating at its best, and I loved every single minute of the ride. More than recommended for fans of the genre!

3. Aurabel by Laura Dockrill (1,5/5 stars)  REVIEW
I really wanted to enjoy this one and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I just couldn’t. I felt like it was as if I were reading in a foreign language I could only barely understand for most of the ride and I had a REALLY hard time finishing this one. In fact, I would probably have DNFed it if it wouldn’t have been an ARC. A little note: after some investigation, I found out this is actually a sequel and it becomes clear as you are reading Aurabel that a lot of both background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read the first book. That said, I don’t think this story has convinced me enough to actually try and read the first book. Unfortunately it ended up being a quite painful experience reading Aurabel.

4. Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel (4/5 stars)
I have been wanting to pick up this collection of short stories about different characters dealing with the consequences of manipulators for a long time now, especially since I’ve seen various glowing reviews in the past. And I’m definitely glad I finally picked it up, because I really enjoyed reading them. Every story deals with a different angle and the stories are truly fascinating. My favorite story would be between the second and the third story; my least favorite probably either number four or five, but this doesn’t mean they were still good. If psychology fascinated you or you enjoy realistic fiction in general, Manipulated Lives is definitely a great read.

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (3,5/5 stars)
It’s basically a miracle I could even see the cover of this one with all the dust it has collected for years… I’m glad I finally picked it up! Stardust is one of those exceptions where I have actually seen the movie first, something I prefer not happening because it alters the reading experience. It’s probably what happened here as well, because I kept thinking of the movie as I were reading Stardust… And I think this is one of the rare cases where I actually enjoyed the movie better than the book. It’s an entertaining and well written fantasy read, but it reads a bit slow and not as good as my Neil Gaiman favorites.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

After my recent Bookouture thriller request binge (five in one week and I’m not even sorry!), I urgently need to read more NG ARCs to keep my ratio above 80% (yes, somehow I never actually dived below that mark; don’t ask me how that miracle happened xD)… First up is another thriller and sequel I’ve been looking forward to: Secrets Of The Dead by Carol Wyer. I also need to read Feel Me Fall by James Morris; I’ve read two of his previous stories in the past and enjoyed both, so I’m looking forward to it. The fantasy ARC Heartborn by Terry Maggert is also on my list… And I want to read And I Darken by Kiersten White ASAP so I can dive into my sequel ARC with time to spare. I can’t wait to finally read this series!


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WWW Wednesdays #136 – May 10th

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 about to start Roses Of May by Dot Hutchison; another Netgalley ARC and a title I’ve been looking forward to. I read and loved The Butterfly Garden last year and I didn’t realize it was a series until I saw this sequel on NG… Can’t wait to dive into this disturbing story again! I also started reading Aurabel by Laura Dockrill, a NG fantasy ARC with mermaids, but I had to put it on hold after 5%. Why? I felt like I was reading a story written in a foreign language I could just barely understand. Things just didn’t make sense at all… And after investigating, this story apparently takes place in the same world as a previous book which I didn’t know about. That could probably explain the lack of worldbuilding, but does make it extremely difficult to properly enjoy it without reading that one first (which I don’t have time for xD ).

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

* The first book I finished since last week is Anything For Her by Jack Jordan, which turned out to be an excellent psychological thriller and even better than his other title My Girl. It’s fast, it’s entertaining and it manages to catch your attention right from the first page… And the whole mystery around ‘that night’ is intriguing and definitely makes you want to keep on reading. More in my review.
* I then read All The Good Things by Clare Fisher, another ARC I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately I ended up having mixed thoughts about it, mostly because I couldn’t connect to the main character Beth. Which is shame, because she’s a truly fascinating character and I really wanted to love this story. More about my mixed thoughts in my review.
* I actually wasn’t going to continue this series after my experience with book three, but I gave in since already had a copy on my kindle and it would mean I could cross off another series. Unfortunately, The Murder Of An Angel by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro continued down the same road as book three, and the only reason I made it to the end is that the prose at least reads superfast. Want to know why I didn’t like it? Here‘s why.
* After two mediocre reads, I decided to play it safe and pick up another Bookouture thriller. And I wasn’t wrong, because I’ve now added The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite to the growing list of Bookouture winners. This story started out strong and stayed that way until the very end. Not every character is all that likeable, but you will forget all about that as you find yourself trapped in the same web of lies and secrets as the rest of the town. Many many plot twists and a surprising ending! Find out more in my review which will be posted later today.
* I then continued Enchanters by K.F. Bradshaw, a high fantasy read I had been posponing during the last few weeks due to its length and wordbuilding. I’m glad I finally continued it and I really like the idea behind this story. That said, I do think the story itself is overlong and would have been more enjoyable with more focus on the action and less on ‘insignificant’ details and dialogue. In fact, some of the main characters were starting to become really annoying; especially the bantering between Cassie and Andrea. I love that it’s a YA fantasy read with a glbt angle though; you don’t see that too often (or at least in the stories I’ve read so far…)
* The last book I was able to finish is Room by Emma Donoghue, which has been on my TBR for way too long. The worst part is that I kept hearing great things about it, but somehow I never actually picked it up… I’m regretting this now, because it was such an excellent read! I literally flew through the pages and finished it in less than a day. I love that it’s told from the POV of a 5-year-old; it makes the story that much more powerful (Think The Boy With The Striped Pajamas, which has a similar effect.)

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

After I finish my current reads, I’m planning to pick up the other titles on my Bout Of Books TBR. One of them is another one that has been collecting dust for way too long: Stardust by Neil Gaiman. It will be one of the exceptions were I’ve already seen the movie before reading the story, so we’ll see how that goes. The next ARC I’m picking up will be Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, which I’ve heard great things about and can’t wait to finally pick up. Also on the ARC list is Heartborn by Terry Maggert, which is another fantasy read. Last up is One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, which I requested after a recommendation and I’m really excited about. I wanted to pick up the thriller Be My Killer by Richard Parker first, but it doesn’t have a pagecount yet and I need that for it to count for the readathon. xD


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BOOK REVIEW: Neverwhere – by Neil Gaiman

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Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 16th 1996
Finished reading: January 4th 2016
Pages: 336
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“I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don’t want to be sane.”

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I finished this read over a week ago, and I’m still trying to get my thoughts together. What I do know is that while I’ve read and enjoyed other Neil Gaiman novels in the past, Neverwhere is without doubt my new favorite by this author. This novel starts out as a fiction story with a dash of magical realism, but soon turns into a dazzling urban fantasy story where surreal descriptions are combined with both scary and funny moments. I simply loved the prose and its underlying messages… The characters really started to grow on me as well; especially the Marquis, Richard and Door. Neverwhere is Neil Gaiman‘s first novel, and for me it’s without doubt the best I’ve read so far. What’s it about? This quote says it all:

“Dear Diary, he began. On Friday I had a job, a fiancée, a home, and a life that made sense. (Well, as much as any life makes sense). Then I found an injured girl bleeding on the pavement, and I tried to be a Good Samaritan. Now I’ve got no fiancée, no home, no job, and I’m walking around a couple of hundred feet under the streets of London with the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruitfly.”

The part in London Above maybe isn’t that interesting, but I LOVED the descriptions and plot set in London Below. Definitely recommended if you like a good (urban) fantasy story with a healthy dose of horror and humor!

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Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman who seems to have a perfectly ordinary life with a good job, a home and a beautiful fiancée. But everything changes as he sees an injured girl bleeding on the street and decides to help her. His demanding fiancée dumps him for not making it to an important dinner, but Richard wants to help the girl anyway. At home he realizes the girl isn’t just any ordinary girl, and soon his life changes forever… The next day he seems invisible and it’s almost as if he had plunged through the cracks of reality into a world of shadows and darkness in London Below. Against all odds he is able to survive his first moments there, and soon realizes he will have to find and help the girl if he ever wants to return to London Above.

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Neil Gaiman never fails to surprise you with his books; each book has a completely original feel. What I think made Neverwhere into my new favorite Gaiman is the unique mix of realistic fiction, magical realism, urban fantasy and horror. I really liked both the main characters and the prose, and once Richard started having his adventures in London Below it was really hard to stop reading. As you might have guessed from the rating, I absolutely loved this read and I would recommend Neverwhere with my eyes closed to anyone who enjoys the genre.

WWW Wednesdays #72 – January 6th

wwwwednesdaysWWW 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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Bout Of Books 15 is really helping me fly through my books! I have started All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry yesterday evening and I’m really looking forward to continue it today… And Serafina And The Black Cloak by Robert Beatty I will finish for sure today; a very entertaining middle grade read that is definitely living up to expectations!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished this year is The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. I actually really enjoyed the first part of the book, but then another freaking love triangle was introduced… And things went downhill from there.
* I then finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a book I absolutely LOVED. I think this is my new Gaiman favorite, although The Ocean At The End Of The Lane comes close…
* I was in the mood for a crime read so I picked up Dead Wood by Dani Amore afterwards. It turned out to be a quick and entertaining read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as Bout Of Books 15 is over, I’m going to start Illuminae by Amie Kaufman. I’m so excited about this read that it’s getting really hard to wait any longer! I also want to read both Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn; with a little luck I will be able to finish both before the end of the read-a-thon. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is my newest TBR jar pick, which is kind of funny because I already had that title on my January TBR anyway. 😉