BOOK REVIEW: A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: May 5th 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Finished reading: August 19th 2017
Pages: 216

“You do not write your life with words… You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

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I was initially saving this title for last since so many people call A Monster Calls their absolute favorite Patrick Ness story… But sometimes things don’t work out as planned. The fact that I picked up my copy is mostly to blame to the fact we recently got Netflix and I couldn’t resist watching the movie; since I normally never watch the movie before reading the book, I had to remedy that and read the book straight away. (Did you guess already I LOVED the movie?) And WOW. I completely understand why there is so much love for A Monster Calls, because this story is simply BRILLIANT. It’s Patrick Ness at his best and definitely one of my new all time favorites… The writing is wonderful, engaging, enchanting and will put you under its spell straight away. The mix of reality and fantasy is very well done and I loved the underlying messages than can be applied to the real world. A Monster Calls is a very strong, powerful, scary, emotional and sad story that will manage to win over your heart in less than a heartbeat… I practically devoured its pages and loved the characters and their development. And as for the movie: I loved just how faithful the script was to the dialogue and writing of the book! It’s not seen often that you can literally read and watch at the same time and see the characters say/do the same things… Both book and movie have earned its spot of my all time favorite list and I’m already looking forward to revisit this story in the future. Have you guessed already I can highly recommend this book?

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Conor has been having nightmares nearly every single night since his mother started her treatments, and it’s always the same thing happening. And even though he knows it’s not real, Conor suffers every time he wakes up just before the dreaded thing happens… But then a monster shows up after midnight. And Connor isn’t afraid; no, he’s angry it only wants to tell stories. Because Connor has a lot more important things to worry about… But the monster is something ancient and wild, and demands to be listened to anyway. And so it begins…

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I should have known already I would love this book after seeing so many glowing reviews and after positive experiences with some of his other stories, but WOW. This is hands down my new favorite Patrick Ness story and it will be hard for any other story to live up to this one. Between the brilliant prose, characters, powerful and emotional topics and perfect mix of reality and fantasy there just isn’t something I didn’t love about A Monster Calls. Read this book if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.


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BOOK REVIEW: Now You See Me – by Sharon Bolton

Title: Now You See Me
(Lacy Flint #1)
Author: Sharon Bolton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: June 7th 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: July 22nd 2017
Pages: 400

“But I learned something that night. When everything else is slipping away, pride is one thing you cling on to.”

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I know, I know, I’m exceptionally late when it comes to the whole Sharon Bolton party, especially since her books belong to one of my favorite genres. It took me long enough, but I can now finally say I’ve read at least one of her books. At least, because I will definitely be picking up more of her work even though I expected to be giving Now You See Me a higher rating than I did. Because before I continue with my review, I have to make clear that this first book of the Lacey Flint series has probably suffered from the fact that I’m currently in some sort of a slump and can’t seem to love any book right now. Should I have posponed my first experience with her work? Maybe. But Now You See Me has still given me a very good idea of the sheer quality of her work and there is definitely a lot to love in this first book of a series I will continue (hopefully) some time soon. This book had me at serial killer and once I saw Jack The Ripper mentioned I started jumping up and down out of excitement. I just love how this old case plays such a big role in the story! And it surely shows just how well Sharon Bolton has investigated the original crimes and many theories about the identity of the killer. Now You See Me is a well written crime thriller in general with a lot of twists that will keep you guessing… Although I do have to say I was never able to warm up to Lacey and the whole bantering between Joesbury and her started to get annoying. Also, the whole mystery around Lacey’s character and the twists and misformation in the final part of the story sort of had the opposite effect on me and I mostly felt confused and frustrated instead of on the edge of my seat. Does something like a ‘plot twist overkill’ exist? Part of the problem was most likely me though and I’m definitely planning on reading the sequel some time soon.

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As young detective Lacey Flint is exiting the apartment complex after interviewing a reluctant witness, she stumbles onto a women who has just been brutally stabbed moments before on the parking lot. Lacey suddenly finds herself involved in a murder case, and her role as witness will soon turn into something a whole lot more complicated… Because not even twenty-four hours later, a reporter receives an anonymous letter pointing out the similarities between the case and Jack The Ripper’s first murder… And the letter mentions Lacey by name. Why is her name mentioned? Is she a suspect? And is there really a new Jack The Ripper out there determined to recreate the original murders?

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Like I said before, I’m probably partly to blame for the slightly lower rating than expected. But there is no doubt that Now You See Me is the start of what is promising to be a very interesting crime thriller series and I will be looking forward to pick up the next book even though I haven’t been able to warm up to Lacey yet. Sharon Bolton‘s writing style makes it very enjoyable to read her story and I can’t wait to pick up more of her books.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Song Of Achilles – by Madeline Miller

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Title: The Song Of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction
First published: September 20th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Finished reading: February 28th 2017
Pages: 352
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“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

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To take a little break from my ARC mountain, I decided to pick up one of my Beat The Backlist titles. Basically, I have been wanting to read The Song Of Achilles for YEARS. I still don’t know why I haven’t picked up this modern mythology adaptation of the Achilles and Troyan War story written by Madeline Miller before… Especially since so many fellow booklovers seemed to have enjoyed it and I also I read (part of) Homer‘s Iliad during my Ancient Greek classes back in high school and wanted to revisit the story. The Song Of Achilles surely didn’t disappoint; I can understand the love for this book now! Not only is this a very well written story and a lot more pleasant to read than the Iliad translations I’ve seen around, but the character development is very well done as well and I especially loved Patroclus’ character. The pace is quite slow at points, but I personally didn’t mind and I practically devoured this book. If you like mythology, good stories and want to refresh your memory on the Achilles and Troyan War facts, The Song Of Achilles is an excellent choice!

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Patroclus isn’t exactly the perfect young prince and his awkwardness makes his father very frustrated with him. When he accidently kills another boy, his father exiles him to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Against odds the two princes become friends and as they grow up together their bond grows stronger and stronger, despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother and sea goddess Thetis. One day word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, and Achilles must go to war and fulfull his destiny. Patroclus isn’t exactly a skilled fighter, but he would follow Achilles everywhere including to the distant Troy. What will happen to the two during their journey?

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I think most people are at least vaguely familiar with the details around the Troyan War and Achilles. It’s quite a popular Greek mythology story and popular movies have helped to promote it, but it is important to realize those movies have been (heavily) adapted to please the masses. If you want to have a better idea of the ‘real’ story, this mythology adaptation by Madeline Miller is an excellent choice. It reads a lot easier than the Homer translations without changing too much of the plot, and while the pace is a bit slow I had a great time reading this story.


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BOOK REVIEW: A Dance With Dragons – by George R.R. Martin

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Title: A Dance With Dragons
(A Song Of Ice And Fire #5)
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
First published: July 12th 2011
Publisher: Bantam
Finished reading: August 30th 2016
Pages: 1.154
Rating 5qqq

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

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I can’t believe I have finally finished this monster! It has been over two years since I finished book number four and I had my doubts whether to continue the series especially since I found the fourth book so disappointing. I now know what was the problem: all my favorite characters were missing. Because I think I have never finished a A Song Of Ice And Fire book as fast as I managed to read A Dance With Dragons. Blame it on my love for Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Arya, Daenerys and her dragons, but I’m pretty sure this has to be my new favorite ASOIAF book. I admit I don’t exactly remember my feelings for the first few books, mostly because it’s been quite some time since I’ve finished them. But as always the book is so much more intriguing than the TV series, and I’m glad I decided to read it before watching the latest season. And that ending! Now the long wait for the sixth book begins….

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the previous books of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

After a huge battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as the queen of a city full of death and betrayal. She has thousands of enemies and many are determined to find and destroy her. And after what he did, Tyrion Lannister is also making his way east; fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head. He has new allies that might come in handy along the way… And in the frozen north, Jon Snow has to confront  both creatures from beyond the Wall and the powerful enemies within the Night’s Watch as well. Winter is coming, and people are getting more restless by the day. The dance for power begins…

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I have to be honest and say I didn’t even remember I disliked the fourth book that much, that’s how long it has been since I finished it. A Dance With Dragons has to be my new favorite of the series and I managed to finish it in record time. It definitely had all my favorite characters in them as well… The ending was shocking even though I kind of already knew what was going to happen. But then again George R.R. Martin does love to kill off his characters in general.

BOOK REVIEW: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone – by Laini Taylor

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Title: Daughter Of Smoke & Bone
(Daughter Of Smoke & Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 27th 2011
Finished reading: May 8th 2016
Pages: 418
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“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead. I think I have lost count of the times this series has been recommended to me ever since I first started my blog. I’ve had a copy of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone on my TBR pile for a long time, and the main reason I finally decided to pick it up was that it came out as the winner of the which series should I read next? poll. One of the things of starting such a popular series is that it can both ways; and I kind of have an ‘unpopular opinion’ reputation when it comes to hyped books in the first place. And guess what? Daughter Of Smoke & Bone turned out to be one of them. And trust me, I feel I have been nice with the rating, because I had a STRONG dislike for the second half of this book and even thought about just DNFing it. Why? First of all, let me make it clear that I loved the first part of the story. The worldbuilding is great and I simply loved Laini Taylor‘s prose and descriptions of both the different cities and the magical elements. Karou starts out like such an interesting character as well; it’s so easy to connect to her and really made the first part into something special. But then Akiva showed up… And just as I already was afraid of, he turned out to be one of those typical pretty boy male love interests. Insta-love, forbidden love similar to Romeo & Juliet, sappy romance scenes and dialogue, a strong female character falling in love with the pretty boy and completely loses her original charm… What a way to ruin a story with so much potential! I already have a copy of the sequel, but I’m really worried about actually reading it now… Because (the second part of) Daughter Of Smoke & Bone definitely wasn’t for me.

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Karou seems to be just another young art student living in Prague, but there is more to her than what meets the eye. People believe the monsters in her sketchbooks are a figment of her imagination, but is that really true? And what about the fact that she is able to speak multiple languages perfectly, disappears often on mysterous errands and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that way? Karou has seen things most humans haven’t, growing up in a hidden shop where the chimaera Brimstone collects teeth of all sizes he uses for who knows what afterwards. He never seems to want to answer questions about her past, but it seems like she won’t be waiting much longer before she finds out the truth… Mysterious winged strangers mark the different doorways to Brimstone’s world with black hand prints; marking the beginning of the end… And Karou soon has to fight to stay alife. She crosses paths with the beautiful haunted Akiva, who seems to be just as curious to find out what Karou really is. He should and could have killed her, but something makes him decide otherwise… What will happen to them?

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Like I said, I loved the first part of Daughter Of Smoke & Bone and the story was well on its way to being added to my list of all time favorites. Then Akiva appeared and the story was turned into a Romeo and Juliet spin off… And I lost my interest completely. I know it’s almost impossible to avoid romance in a YA fantasy series nowadays, but after such a promising start I was really REALLY disappointed with the road this story took. I was browsing my kindle quotes for this review, and the sheer amount of sappy love quotes made me want to vomit… I know just about everybody seems to love this series and I’m glad, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

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.

BOOK REVIEW: Blood Orchids – by Toby Neal

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Title: Blood Orchids
(Lei Crime #1)
Author: Toby Neal
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: December 2nd 2011
Finished reading: April 6th 2016
Pages: 314
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“Everything has to do with everything else—you know that by now. So begin at the beginning, and it will lead to the end.”

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I have been meaning to read more mystery/thriller books as well as escaping the YA/love triangle combination, so I decided to pick up one of my kindle freebies: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal. When I first started reading this story, it had all the signs it would be a typical fast-paced whodunit read. I especially liked the setting in Hawaii and the references to the culture; it really shows that the author grew up there herself. The main character is a policewoman named Lei Texeira; her complicated past causing her to be almost too involved in the current case she is working on. I’m not sure I like all aspects of her character, but she does feel real. What did bother me though were the romance scenes and the fact that not even changing genres helped me escape a love triangle. The romance scenes distracted from the main plot and I don’t think the love triangle was necessary… They mostly made me enjoy this story a lot less. Also, I think Blood Orchids might have too many different subplots, which is distracting. I actually thought the story was already finished at one point, only to find more chapters that didn’t really add anything substantial. In short, Blood Orchids had a lot of potential and I really enjoyed the first part of the story, but I feel the story would have been a lot better without too many distracting ‘background’ plots and romance scenes.

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Lei Texeira has had a difficult past, but she has been trying to get past it and now works as a cop in the quiet Big Island town of Hilo. Being a cop in Hilo normally mostly involves petty crimes, but that changes when she finds the bodies of two murdered teenagers on a routine patrol. She knows one of the victims, and even though she isn’t officially on the case, she becomes involved anyway trying to find justice. Flashbacks from the past bring back memories and soon Lei is obsessed with the case. But she also has other things on her mind… She is being stalked and doesn’t know if she still feels safe in her own home. Lei is wondering if the stalker and the killer might just be one and the same; but can she find evidence to back that up and will they find him before he kills again?

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Blood Orchids started out as an entertaining read and I enjoyed the Hawaii setting. The pace is fast and the story sounds like a typical whodunit, interesting enough but nothing extraordinary either. Unfortunately, I felt like too many things were going on at the same time, which made the plot less credible. Also, the last few chapters felt superfluous and only made the plot look more chaotic. Still, I would probably have given this book a higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the annoying love triangle and bad romance scenes…