ARC REVIEW: The Thankful – by Jamie Campbell

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Title: The Thankful
Author: Jamie Campbell

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
First published: August 19th 2016
Publisher: Eltham Press
Finished reading: January 12th 2017
Pages: 132
Rating 4qqq

“Like most everyone else in the world that day they had no real idea. What they has was a feeling. A weight in their stomachs that anatomy text books could not explain.”

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

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Confession: I’ve had The Thankful pending for way too long. I’m not sure why though, because this historical fiction ARC about the May War of 1940 in the Netherlands sounded truly fascinating. I grew up in the Netherlands myself and I’m aware of the basic facts of what happened in the country, but it’s been a long time since I last read a story with so many details. Jamie Campbell does a great job of explaining exactly what happened during those days with the help of the main character Ruth. The Thankful basically follows her story as she tries to escape the Germans, but you will learn what happened during the May War along the way. The choice to leave many Dutch and German words without translation is without doubt original, although I do think it would have been a lot more difficult to enjoy the story if I wouldn’t have been able to understand those languages myself. The geography can be quite confusing as well (even for me and I grew up there), but those are only two minor details in an otherwise excellent description of the May War. If you want to learn more about how the Netherlands ended up being invaded by the Germans during WWII, The Thankful is without doubt a great choice. A lot more entertaining than a simple history book without losing its historical accuracy!

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The twelve-year-old Ruth Imker with Jewish heritage has been running for most of her life. She had to leave Vienna because it was no longer safe, but before long she couldn’t stay in Cologne either. They sent her to Rotterdam, because the Netherlands was supposed to be safe. But even though the Dutch didn’t expect it, the Germans came during the early morning of the tenth of May 1940. Ruth will have to run again and try to find a way to get to England… And she has an unlikely protector to help her. Will they be able to escape?

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Even though the story might be a bit more difficult to understand for those who don’t understand Dutch and German due to the use of certain use in that language, I still think it is a great read for those who want to learn more about the May War. Apart from the words in foreign languages, the rest of the story is both intriguing and easy to follow; you will find yourself hoping the characters will be able to find a way out. Not perfect, but without doubt an interesting historical fiction read!


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ARC REVIEW: Lemon Sting – by Collin Henderson

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Title: Lemon Sting
Author: Collin Henderson

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: April 17th 2015
Finished reading: November 4th 2016
Pages: 119
Rating 4qqq

“And the thing about threats is that most of them are empty, nothing more than smoke in the breeze.”

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

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I was approached by the author some time ago with the question if I wanted to read his thriller novella. Although I don’t read a lot of novellas in general, the summary caught my attention and I decided to give Lemon Sting a go. And I have to say that this novella has pleasantly surprised me. For its length, the main characters are surprisingly well developed as well as the general plot itself. The story is both fast-paced, entertaining and packed with intense action scenes and plot twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Lemon Sting has a lot of different POVs for a novella, but they are well executed and didn’t distract from the plot. In fact, the prose in general is easy to read and I can definitely recommend this novella to anyone who enjoys a good action-packed crime thriller.

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Both Margaret and Lee seem to be trapped in a daily routine that never seems to end; her working at a restaurant and living life day by day, him working at an old electronics store and bored out of his mind most of the time. When Margaret breaks her routine one night and goes clubbing, she ends up too drunk to function at her neighbor Lee’s apartment. She doesn’t remember much about the night before, but it seems like her past has finally caught up with her… And Lee is dragged into the mess along with her. Things will soon spiral further out of control; will they be able to find a way out?

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining thriller novella, Lemon Sting is definitely a great choice. It reads almost like an action movie and both plot and characters are well developed, especially since we are talking about a short novella. This debut is without doubt very promising!

BOOK REVIEW: Ruler Of Beasts – by Danielle Paige

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Title: Ruler Of Beasts
(Dorothy Must Die #0.6)
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: February 16th 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: July 20th 2016
Pages: 84
Rating 3,5qqq

“You are not Wicked, dear Lion. But sometimes you put what you want over what is good for Oz.”

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Although I still think the novellas are not as good as the actual series, I do think Ruler Of Beasts is one of the most entertaining prequel short stories of the bunch. Unlike some of the other novellas, this one actually adds a whole new possible angle to the actual story. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed the Nome King will make another appearance in the actual books, because his character is without doubt an interesting one! Like with the rest of the series, Danielle Paige‘s prose turns Ruler Of Beasts into a really easy and fast read. The beginning is a bit slow and Glinda is annoying, but I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this particular novella so much is the huge part both the Lion and Ozma play in the story. Lion can become a bit whiny, but he does know how to spice up a story. If you have read the previous novella, you will surely enjoy this one as well. I can’t wait to finally start the third book though!

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When the Cowardly Lion first started his journey with Dorothy and the others, he wanted to have courage above all else. The Wizard gave him what he has always wanted, and now we find out what happens afterwards. The Lion’s wish has finally come true, but his life is not how he had imagined it. Sure, he is the courageous ruler of the forest and the beasts, but with Ozma ruling and Oz this peaceful, the Lion is bored. He misses the days of his adventures with Dorothy, the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, and now he is desperate to find something to liven up his day. Then Glinda shows up on his doorstep with a mission, and even though the Lion is not sure if it’s wise to accept, he jumps at the chance to do something exciting anyway.

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I think Ruler Of Beasts is one of my favorite novellas so far. I really enjoyed the fact that Ozma played an important part in the story and the Nome King surely is a great new character! I’m keeping my fingers crossed he will make another appearance in the future, because it will definitely add a nice plot twist to the main story. Like I said before, if you enjoyed the other novellas, definitely make time for this one as well. It’s not a must-read, but Ruler Of Beasts is without doubt entertaining.

BOOK REVIEW: Heart Of Tin – by Danielle Paige

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Title: Heart Of Tin
(Dorothy Must Die #0.4)
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: July 28th 2015
Finished reading: June 13th 2016
Pages: 93
Rating 1,5qqq

“Think about the first time you really fell in love. No, I mean, really think about it. How it was like your whole life before that moment was a black-and-white movie, and suddenly you stepped into Technicolor.”

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I wasn’t going to read any more Dorothy Must Die prequel novellas because the first three mostly disappointed me (especially the third one), but I decided to give them a go anyway before reading Yellow Brick War. And I don’t like to say this about any book or novella, but reading Heart Of Tin was simply a waste of time. I REALLY didn’t like this sappy romance story where all that happens is that the Tin Woodman pines for Dorothy all the time and tries to win her over…My feelings went between feeling annoyed and wanting to vomit, and honestly I still wish I would have just DNFed it. I will still read the next two novellas though, since various bloggers have confirmed that Heart Of Tin is the worst story of the bunch and the others are a lot better. But if you ask me, definitely stick with just the main Dorothy Must Die series and skip the novellas unless you REALLY love the series in the first place. They don’t actually add a lot to the main plot…

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The Wizard finally gave the Tin Woodman a real heart, but he didn’t live happily ever after just like in the original story. In fact, the new heart of the Tin Woodman has it bad for Dorothy. What was onces a gift now turns into torture as the Tin Woodman pines for Dorothy and she doesn’t seem to return his feelings… And he is determined to do whatever it takes to show his loyalty, win over her heart and make her his. Even if this means ignoring the fact that Dorothy seems to have a completely different agenda since the last time she was in Oz.

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Like I said before, I enjoyed the the actual series a lot better than the prequel novellas, and Heart Of Tin has to be the worst one by far so far. This novella doesn’t add anything new to the main plot and is mostly VERY annoying. There is no real plot and the story is mainly about the Tin Woodman repeating on and on how wonderful Dorothy is, hearing him pine for Dorothy and him feeling rejected when Dorothy doesn’t seem to respond to his feelings. Even if you loved the main series, I would recommend just skipping this novella and continue with the fifth one.

BOOK REVIEW: Stars Above – by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Stars Above
(The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: February 2nd 2016
Finished reading: May 13th 2016
Pages: 369
Rating 4qqq

“The first time, he had wondered why she liked books so much, and if it had anything to do with why he liked spaceships. Because they could take you somewhere far, far away.”

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As I’ve done with previous short story collections, I will write a short summary with my opinion on each of these nine stories rather than write a conventional review. The Lunar Chronicles has been one of my favorite series I’ve read last year and it is always great to revisit this world. Marissa Meyer is probably one of my favorite authors, although I did enjoy the actual series better than most of these short stories. Two of these are an exception though: The Princess And The Guard and Something Old, Something New. I loved these two, especially the epilogue! If you have enjoyed reading the series, I would definitely recommend Stars Above, although some stories are better than others.

WARNING: SPOILERS! Make sure to only continue reading if you have already read the series… I’ve tried to keep it spoiler free, but it’s kind of hard with some of the stories.

The Keeper (4/5)  This story is a prequel to the series and shows how Princess Selene first arrived at the house of Michelle Benoit and Scarlet. A really enjoyable story and I loved little Scarlet!

Glitches (4/5) REVIEW I actually read this one last year; feel free to read the full review. The story is a prequel to Cinder and tells us about how the results of the plague start to take a toll on Cinder.

The Queen’s Army (3/5) REVIEW I read this story last year as well; feel free to read the full review. This is a prequel to Scarlet and tells us more about the army Queen Levana is creating.

Carswell’s Guide To Being Lucky (3/5)  Thorne is probably one of my favorites, but I didn’t really like the arrogant thirteen-year-old version of him. Sure, it shows how determined he is to get his own ship, but I prefer the adult Thorne of the main series.

After Sunshine Passes By (4/5) This story is a prequel to Cress and tells us more about Cress ended up on a satellite in the first place. Poor Cress! A very interesting story.

The Princess And The Guard (4,5/5) This is one of the stories I have been looking forward most, because of the characters. It’s a prequel to Winter and I really loved this story. Winter and Jacin are simply made for each other.

The Little Android (3,5/5) REVIEW I already read this one last year; feel free to read the full review. It’s a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but set in the world of this series.

The Mechanic (3/5) This is another prequel to Cinder and tells us about Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s POV. It was nice to read it from Kai’s perspective, but it didn’t add anything new to the story..

Something Old, Something New (5/5) This is by far the best story of the bunch and the one I was looking forward most. It’s an epilogue to Winter and tells us more about what happens to the main characters after the facts. It’s basically everything I wanted and more to end this excellent series!

BOOK REVIEW: Maybe Not – by Colleen Hoover

brmaybenotTitle: Maybe Not
(Maybe #1.5)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 24th 2014
Finished reading: April 23rd 2016
Pages: 130
Rating 4qqq

“The only difference between falling in love and being in love is that your heart already knows how you feel, but your mind is too stubborn to admit it.”

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I thought Warren was hilariously awkward in Maybe Someday, so when I found out this novella was about him and Bridgette and their relationship I decided to read it straight away. And Maybe Not didn’t disappoint; I think I actually liked the novella better than the last part of the original story! Those who know me are already aware that I’m normally not a big fan of the romance genre, but Colleen Hoover has shown me I can actually enjoy a contemporary romance story when it is well written and has the right (lack of) elements. In the case of Maybe Not, the romance is done just right. Warren is hilarious even though his comments are a bit on the weird side and I think he has become my favorite character after Sydney and Ridge let me down in Maybe Someday. His love/hate relationship with Bridgette is really entertaining to read about; the way they behave in front of the rest, their ‘hateful’ comments and what happens behind closed doors… This novella is by no means a cheesy, sappy romantic love story and I enjoyed it all the better for it. If you liked Warren in Maybe Someday, you will love this novella; Colleen Hoover did a brilliant job giving Warren even more funny and awkward lines and I literally flew through the pages. Recommended!

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When Warren is presented with the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he agrees thinking it would sure be an exciting change, already imagining what could happen between them… Or maybe not. Their new roommate Bridgitte turns out to be a cold and seemingly calculating ‘bitch’, and tensions start to run high in the appartment. Warren first wants her gone, but his roommates explain that won’t be an option. And even though the two can’t stand to be in the same room together, Warren now has a theory about Bridgette. Anyone who can hate with that much passion should also be able to love with the same passion… And he is a willing volunteer to test this theory. But will he convince Bridgette to start listening to him in the first place?

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If you have read Maybe Someday and liked Warren’s character, definitely pick up his novella since it’s all about him and Bridgette. I actually liked this novella better than the original story it is based on! Maybe Not has no love triangle, no complicated plot twists, enjoyable prose, hilarious characters, just the right dose of romance and feelings… All in all everything I’m looking for in an entertaining contemporary romance novella.

BOOK REVIEW: Queen Song – by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Queen Song
(Red Queen #0.1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: September 1st 2015
Finished reading: March 2nd 2016
Pages: 100
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“Fire can destroy, fire can kill, but it can also create. Forest burned in the summer will be green by spring, better and stronger than before. Cal’s flame will build and bring roots from the ashes of war.”

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Now the sequel Glass Sword finally has been published last month, I decided to do a Red Queen reading marathon this month and read both the novellas and the first two books together. I’ve heard before the novellas weren’t as good as the actual series, and now I’ve read Queen Song I can completely agree with that. To be honest, I felt that this first novella didn’t really add anything new to the main series and it was actually kind of boring. The story is mostly about king Tiberias’ first wife Coriane. The novella tells us about her life both before and after she became the Queen and how she came to an end… Coriane is Prince Cal’s mother, but other than that doesn’t really play a big role in the main story and I don’t think it’s actually worth reading the novella either. Skipping this novella won’t make you miss essential information about the series, so I would recommend to just start reading the first book straight away.

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Long before Coriane became the Queen, she had a whole different life. She’s a Silver, but doesn’t have any ‘strong’ powers and her family isn’t that important. Both her brother and Coriane want to escape the suffocating environment they call home, but her family has different plans… Somehow, the crown prince shows interest in her and slowly starts courting her. This is not how the powerful families wanted things to go; normally the new Queen is chosen during the Queen Trials. Things are going to be complicated if King Tiberias and Coriane want to go through with this wedding… Because some girls will never give up trying to win the crown for themselves.

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It looks like it’s going to be a pattern that I don’t like the novellas as much as the main series. I’ve had it happening a number of times before and Queen Song isn’t an exception… It’s actually quite a slow read and for me it doesn’t add anything important to what I already learned by reading the first book last year. In short, I would recommend to just skip the novella and go straight to the first book (unless you are intrigued by Coriane as a character).