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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ARC REVIEW: Aurabel – by Laura Dockrill

Title: Aurabel
Author: Laura Dockrill

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: June 1st 2017
Publisher: Hotkey Books
Finished reading: May 13th 2017
Pages: 304

“Even when two paths spindle off, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to meet up, once again, somewhere along the way towards the end.”

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

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I admit Aurabel was a coverlove-request, but I was also looking forward to read another mermaid story. Mermaids are without doubt underrated creatures and there just aren’t all that many stories about them out there. Aurabel sounded like an fun fantasy read with the mermaids as a bonus, but unfortunately this book turned out to be a quite unpleasant experience. First of all I want to make clear that this book should have been classified as a sequel, because after some investigation I found out most of the worldbuilding is taken from a previous publication (Lorali) and it’s almost impossible to fully understand Aurabel with out it. A lot of background AND essential information is missing if you don’t read Lorali, and I felt a bit cheated on I didn’t know that beforehand. This lack of information might have been part of the reason I basically felt like I was reading a story written in a foreign language I could only barely understand. Things just didn’t make sense as all and I had a hard time even getting past the first few pages and chapters. Things only got better towards the ending, but I have to be honest and say I probably wouldn’t have reached that point if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. It sounds harsh, but somehow not telling the truth doesn’t feel right either… Another thing that bothered me is the horrible spelling in the forum interactions bit. I get that this is supposed to portray ‘superficial’ teenage fans talking, but 1. it was really hard to decipher the meaning of their comments and 2. I literally shuddered the whole time every time the dreaded comments made their appearance. As for the characters: I like how their different personalities are refleccted in their respective dialogues and prose, but I do have to see they felt a bit forced and unnatural. Some characters were also starting to get on my nerves… Furthermore, I had a hard time connecting the different chapters and characters; especially in the beginning they seemed random and didn’t make a lot of sense. Things did improve slightly towards the ending and the general plot is interesting enough, but all in all I had a really hard time reading Aurabel. Such a shame, because I was really looking forward to it!

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It’s been two years since Rory drowned and Lorali has been living the live of a normal (human) teenage girl ever since. Her safe life on land won’t last much longer though, as things in The Whirl seem to be getting out of hand. Someone is trying to take the throne from the current king and doesn’t hesitate to use unorthodox methods to succeed. Even if that means hurting fellow Mer… And it seems that even Lorali won’t be safe.

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I really wanted to enjoy Aurabel and I still love the cover, but unfortunately I turned out having a completely different reading experience. I’ve debated various times whether to just DNF it, because I had a really hard time understanding and making sense of the story; something that doesn’t happen often. I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt like I was reading in a different language, but I guess part of this confusion can be explained by the fact that it’s necessary to read Lorali first to be able to fully understand the story (which I didn’t and won’t). All in all a promising premise, but unfortunately I couldn’t enjoy the execution.


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ARC REVIEW: Enchanters – by K.F. Bradshaw

Title: Enchanters
(Enchanters #1)
Author: K.F. Bradshaw

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 1st 2017
Publisher: Wishbox Press
Finished reading: May 9th 2017
Pages: 590

“We don’t get to decide what we bring into this world with us. But you have a gift, Andrea, and you should consider using it for something useful.”

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

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I enjoy reading a proper high fantasy read every once in a while and the cover and blurb of Enchanters managed to catch my attention immediately. It somehow took me longer than expected to finally pick it up, mostly because I wasn’t in the mood for the genre and I didn’t want that to be a bad influence on my experience with this story. I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go though and I have to say I really like the idea behind the worldbuilding and plot in Enchanters. The worldbuilding of the fictional Damea is extensive and I like the clash with the ‘real’ world that represents Cassie’s character. This without doubt adds a whole different dimension to the story and I like how K.F. Bradshaw portrays this difference in worlds and customs in the characters. That said, I do think the story itself is overlong and I feel it would have been more enjoyable with more focus on the action and less on the ‘insignificant’ details and dialogue. These elements slowed down the pace considerably and sometimes even distracted from the plot itself. I also wasn’t completely convinced by the characters and some of them even started to annoy me; especially the bantering between Cassie and Andrea. I did appreciate that it’s a YA high fantasy read with a proper glbt angle though; it’s something you don’t see every day. In short, I ended up having mixed thoughts about Enchanters. The worldbuilding and plot is without doubt interesting, but I did feel the story was overlong and I had some problems with the (sometimes) forced dialogue and characters.

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The people of Damea have had access to magic for centuries, using it to improve their everyday lives. The so-called enchanters have the power to wield it and magic has been woven into their societies for a long time, but now everything has changed. The magic is dying, and Damea is slowly dying with it… Nobody seems to know how to reverse this, but Andrea is determined to find a way to bring it back. She is an enchanter’s apprentice and has been helping another enchanter for years… But it might take a stranger from another world to actually try and restore the magic. Will they be able to?

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I was looking forward to read Enchanters, but I ended up having mixed thoughts instead. While I liked the worldbuilding, plot and general idea behind this story, I still think it was also overlong and even dragged at points. That might just be because the dialogue didn’t feel all that natural and I didn’t really like some of the characters in the first place though. The pace did pick up in the second half and there was a lot more action… All in all an interesting read, although I did have my problems with it.


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ARC REVIEW: Life Sentence – by Lily Luchesi

Title: Life Sentence
(Paranormal Detectives #3)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: July 31st 2017
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: April 15th 2017
Pages: ?

“Not all monsters are murderers. However, all hunters are. Your kind do not understand our ways. You have murdered my friends. You have murdered employees of mine. You have murdered werewolves who fight for king and country in the wars. All because you fear what you cannot understand.”

*** 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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I read the first book of this series back in January and the sequel earlier this month. Life Sentence is the third book in the Paranormal Detectives series and it will also be the last vampire book I will read. Why? I’m simply not a fan of vampires and I seem to be enjoying any story with the mention of these fanged creatures a lot less than others who don’t mind or even like them. It just doesn’t seem fair to the authors to keep reading a genre that doesn’t seem to be a good fit in the first place… So consider this review as my goodbye party to vampire stories. Only the ‘fake’ blood is missing!

Even though I seem to be allergic to vampires, I’v enjoyed this series a lot better than I thought I would. Like I’ve mentioned before, in Paranormal Detectives it’s not just about vampires: werewolves, witches and even demons make their appearance. This third book is an improvement of the second book as well, mostly because the annoying love triangle in book two is no longer in the picture. Once again the many flashbacks to the past were my favorite parts of this story and Danny’s psychic abilities are an interesting twist as well. There is a lot of action and the pace is fast; if you are looking for an entertaining supernatural read you will most likely enjoy this series!

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

After all what happened during their confrontation with Miranda, Angelica and Danny will have to adjust to the many changes in their lives… Both their personal life and at the Paranormal Investigative Division. The previous threat is still hanging above them and they will have to gather all their strength to be able to finally get rid of her forever. But will they adapt to the new reality of their lives? And can this kind of evil be beaten in the first place?

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What I like of this series is that it isn’t just another vampire story. There are a bunch of different supernatural creatures involved and they are actually dangerous like they are supposed to be. Another bonus is that there isn’t a lot of romance involved; the main focus is on the action and history of the main characters. If you like this kind of stories, you are definitely in for a treat!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Start Of Me And You – by Emery Lord

Title: The Start of Me And You
Author: Emery Lord

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: March 31st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Finished reading: April 14th 2017
Pages: 376

“In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”

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Confession: contemporary romance is not really my thing and I normally tend to avoid the genre… But I was in desperate need for a change of genre and I enjoyed Emery Lord‘s other story When We Collided, so I decided to give The Start Of Me And You a go. I didn’t read the blurb before I started and I thought it was going to be a ‘happy’ read, so it’s easy to say I was surprised when I was confronted with another case of grief instead. Although the sad part was mostly in the beginning. The writing style itself is very enjoyable to read and I literally flew through the pages. Like many YA contemporary romance novels I’ve read in the past, the plot of The Start Of Me And You is quite cheesy and predictable and unfortunately this is yet another story with one of the most annoying romance tropes possible: a love triangle. And quite a frustrating love triangle as well as the main character Paige is SO blind during most of the story! I had mixed thoughts about the characters (LOVED Max, wasn’t so sure of Paige for example), but I did enjoy all those little geeky elements that were included. Like I said before, about 90% of the story is way too cheesy for me and the plot was quite predictable, but I can see why fans of the genre would love The Start Of Me And You. I personally didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it better than I thought I would. Without doubt an easy, entertaining and fluffy read!

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Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident last year, and she is still struggling to get her life back on track. People still feel sorry for her and give her THAT LOOK all the time, but Paige has a plan this time for a fresh start at her high school. Five simple steps that should help her convince everyone she’s back to normal… Including finally getting her old crush Ryan Chase to date her. But that plan will not work out as she thought it would… And she might end up doing something completely different instead.

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If you are a fan of slightly cheesy, predictable but incredibly fluffy YA contemporary romance stories, you will probably end up loving The Start Of Me And You. Personally it was a little too sweet to my taste, but it was a rather welcome break from more ‘serious’ books… This story starts out a little sad, but is mostly about Paige trying to get her life back on track. It’s a cute read, but the love triangle did get quite annoying after a while (especially since Max is so adorkable!). All in all not the best I’ve read, but without doubt still satisfying.


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BOOK REVIEW: Never Fade – by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 10th 2017
Pages: 507

“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”

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After reading and enjoying the first book back in January, I made a promise to read both sequels as soon as possible. It took me a bit longer than expected, but I finally picked up book number two this month… And I have to say that unfortunately Never Fade doesn’t live up to the first book at all for me. While I enjoyed The Darkest Minds even though the plot isn’t all that original anymore, I found Never Fade to be overlong and at times even on the border of boring. The writing style was as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one… And that is probably due to the fact that both the plot felt a bit thin and some of the characters started to annoy me. Basically, the sequel is about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be. Which might still be interesting, but it mostly felt like a ‘copy-repeat’ plot to me instead. Warning: this feeling might also be caused by the fact that Ruby started to frustrate me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. It does have a pretty explosive ending though! All in all not what I was expecting at all and yet another series that suffers from the ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’… I will still be reading the final book some time soon though, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed In The Afterlight will make me enjoy this series again.

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

Ruby never wanted her abilities in the first place and doesn’t like using them, but now she’s in the Children’s League she is forced to use them on a daily basis. She has to go on dangerous missions and get the truth out of their enemies, and she only agrees because it’s a way to keep the others safe. But then she finds out something that will change everything… And this new secret mission might just be the most dangerous one yet.

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I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since I enjoyed The Darkest Minds that much. Unfortunately Never Fade turned out to be another case of ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. I actually struggled to continue at points as the plot just felt too drawn out; I feel that a similar story could have been told with 150-200 pages less and would probably have been a lot more entertaining. This has nothing to do with the writing style itself though, because Never Fade is without doubt well written. It’s one of the reasons I’m still hopeful for the third book!


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ARC REVIEW: Miranda’s Rights – by Lily Luchesi

Title: Miranda’s Rights
(Paranormal Detectives #2)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: January 8th 2016
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: April 8th 2017
Pages: 128

“Angelica commented that they looked like the most fucked up family in the world. A full vamp, a vamplet and a human, sitting in a bar. They were the start of a bad joke.”

*** 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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I read the first Paranormal Detectives book back in January and finally found time to continue the series this month. I have to be honest and say I’m not a fan of vampire stories, and that is probably one of the reasons I’m enjoying this series a lot less than other readers. In fact, I’ve decided this series will be the last time I read a story involving these fanged creatures, because it just doesn’t seem fair to the authors reading a genre that doesn’t seem a good fit in the first place.

That said, what probably saved the Paranormal Detectives series and this sequel for me is the fact that it’s not just about vampires; there are a lot of other supernatural creatures involved as well. Werewolves, witches and even demons make their appearance, although the main focus is on vampires as one of the main characters is a vamplet. For a paranormal romance story, there isn’t all that much romance involved (although this sequel does have a love triangle, more romance scenes and it can get a bit sappy). The main focus is on the action, revenge and fights though, and I can really appreciate that. The flashbacks to the different points in history are interesting as well; they are probably my favorite part of the story and explain more about the characters as well. Miranda’s Rights is also a fast read and fans of the genre will probably enjoy it a lot better than I did.

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

Danny Mancini has never truly come to terms with the fact that paranormal creatures actually exist, and what he would like most is just forget about the last few months of his life. But that wish doesn’t seem to come true as cursed werewolves show up at his doorstep and try to kill him. He is forced to go back to the Paranormal Investigative Division as his life is at risk… And they need all the help they can get against a powerful old enemy.

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As I said before, my experience with Miranda’s Rights and this series has probably more to do with the fact that I hate vampire stories than the actual story. The story itself is easy to read and has a lot of action; the flashback moments are an interesting way of learning more about the characters. There was a considerable increase in the amount of romance scenes though, and I’m not a fan of the love triangle. Maybe because Miranda felt a bit flat as a character? I’m still curious about what happens next and like I said, if you like the genre definitely give this series a try.


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