YVO’S SHORTIES #103 – In An Absent Dream & Navigating Early

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two completely different reading experiences. One turned out to be a delightful read: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire is another excellent addition to the Wayward Children series and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Unfortunately Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool turned out to be a struggle for me. Warning: unpopular opinion review ahead!


Title: In An Absent Dream
(Wayward Children #4)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: January 8th 2019
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: May 25th 2019 
Pages: 203

“She was ordinary, She was remarkable. Of such commonplace contradictions are weapons made.”


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I loved the first three Wayward Children books, and I’ve been looking forward to another story ever since I finished Beneath The Sugar Sky a few months back. I was in dire need of a magical story, and I thought In An Absent Dream would be a good fit. I turned out being right, because book four is without doubt another excellent addition to the series. The writing style sweeps you away, makes you forget about daily chores and feel yourself part of the story. I LOVED both Lundy as a character and the fantasy world that fits her personality. Goblin Market is different from the other worlds in a way that Lundy is able to travel back and forth between the real world and Goblin Market almost unlimitedly, with only her age being a deciding factor. Goblin Market is a wondrous world of fair value, debts and birds; the description of both world and the characters that inhibit it are excellent and truly make it come alive. The message behind this story, that of fair value and treating each other fairly in general, is an important one and plays a key role in this story. And the time Lundy spends in the ‘real’ world only reinforces that message. In An Absent Dream is one of my favorites of the series and I’m already looking forward to the next installment which is scheduled to be published early 2020.


Title: Navigating Early
Author: Clare Vanderpool

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Adventure
First published: January 8th 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: May 29th 2019
Pages: 320

“Navigating Early was as challenging as navigating mysterious and uncharted waters.”


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I’ve been meaning to read Navigating Early for a while now. The mix between historical fiction and adventure sounded absolutely fascinating and right up my alley, and with so many high ratings I was confident I was going to enjoy the story as well. Somehow, I turned out to be wrong in the end. Warning: unpopular opinion rambles ahead! So… Why wasn’t Navigating Early for me? I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but there is one thing for sure and that is that I couldn’t connect with this story at all. I know I’m in the minority here since most people seem to love it, but despite the historical setting, WWII references, maths references and the promise of an adventure, basically I couldn’t care less what was happening to the main characters. Both Jack and Early were unable to win me over at all, which is strange especially in the case of Early as I normally love my quirky and complicated characters. I’ve tried really hard connecting to both these characters and this story in general, but I feel I should have just given in and DNFed it instead. In fact, I confess I ended up skimreading the last 40% or so of the story as I just wasn’t interested in what was happening to Jack and Early. It might have been the characters, it might have been the writing style, but there was just something about Navigating Early that simply wasn’t for me. The whole Pi chapters might have done something with that feeling as well, as they felt more magical realism than anything else and I tend to have mixed reactions to that. Instead of adding a little something original to the story, the only slowed down the main story for me and made it drag… Although I do appreciate what the author was trying to do. I don’t think Navigating Early is a bad story and the many high ratings agree with that, but it’s definitely true that this story simply wasn’t my cup of tea.


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WWW Wednesdays #224 – May 29th

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 still reading Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool… It’s taking way longer than I thought to get through this MG story, both because I’m not able to connect to the story or characters (do I smell an unpopular opinion review coming up?) and because I haven’t had much time to read as I’ve been baking like crazy for our niece’s 15th birthday. As of today, I’m free to read again though, and I can’t wait to properly dive into The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Especially as so many have recommended this title to me over the years!

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech (5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/05 
Call Me Star Girl left me absolutely speechless staring at that final page, wondering how long it would be before my heart would be whole again. How do I even begin reviewing this title? It doesn’t happen often that a book is able to provoke reactions this strong, but Stella’s story is one of them. The writing style is absolutely wonderful of course, but it is the characters who steal the show in Call Me Star GirlLouise Beech should receive an award for being able to create such fascinating characters that are both flawed, strong and essentially unlikeable, but are able to win over your heart anyway. This story was so so so cleverly written! More raving in my review tomorrow.

2. The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora (3/5 stars) REVIEW 04/06
Even though the blurb itself sounded intriguing enough to have my interest piqued immediately, I’m afraid the actual story ended up being not exactly my cup of tea. It’s hard to put my finger exactly on the why, but I think a lot of my lack of connection to the story had to do with the writing style. The writing and tone of The Paper Wasp was too aloof and cumbersome to my taste and it almost felt as if it was trying to hard to be overly complicated and ‘literary fiction worthy’. And between the writing style, unlikeable characters and an unconvincing plot development, sadly The Paper Wasp wasn’t for me. But I also know that the right person will love spending time with this story.

3. In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 07/06
book four is without doubt another excellent addition to the series. The writing style sweeps you away, makes you forget about daily chores and feel yourself part of the story. I LOVED both Lundy as a character and the fantasy world that fits her personality. Goblin Market is a wondrous world of fair value, debts and birds; the description of both world and the characters that inhibit it are excellent and truly make it come alive. In An Absent Dream is one of my favorites of the series and I’m already looking forward to the next installment which is scheduled to be published early 2020.

4. The Disappeared by Amy Lord (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 10/06
Look out for my thoughts on The Disappeared during my blog tour stop next month June 10th!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to try and keep reading mostly my own books, and my final May TBR title is up next: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski. I can’t wait to finally try his work! I do have a few ARCs still left to read, and next up is The Woman In Our House by Andrew Hart. Also up soon is We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. by Samantha Irby, which I will approach with care as I’ve been hearing mixed things about it. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.


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WWW Wednesdays #221 – May 8th

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 Circe by Madeline Miller, a book I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while and I’m really excited about. I’m also starting Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small as my blog tour stop is getting pretty close.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Sweetheart has definitely reconfirmed my love for this series. What a delightfully disturbing and twisted read! I always love it when we get to see a serial killer up close and Gretchen Lowell is without doubt one to reckon with. This story has twists, turns and a healthy dose of action and suspense as well as an insight in the psychological aspects. You’ll be having a hard time putting this one down before you find out what happens, and the cliffhanger will most definitely leave you wanting for more.

2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (DNF at 41%; 0 stars) REVIEW 
First of all I have to stress that I feel really bad about the decision to DNF, especially since I almost never have to resort to such a drastic decision and Middlegame is such a highly anticipated title. Trust me, I haven’t taken this decision lightly,and I have really tried to overcome my initial feelings and warm up to the story. But after a second, third and fourth chance, I had to throw in the towel at 41%. More about why I took the decision to DNF in my review.

3. Alice In Zombieland by Gene Showalter (1,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/05
Unlike what you might guess from the pun in Alice In Zombieland, this first book of a series actually has very little to do with the original story. Wait, this isn’t a retelling? Nope, I would never consider calling it that. Why? Well, apart from the main character being called Alice and a white rabbit cloud appearing repeatedly, there are no references to or similarities between the classic and this concoction. Instead, we have a story about zombies where we encounter a different kind of unread this time around; they are basically spirits and a lot more difficult to fight than your regular brain eaters. This could have been a premise for a very bloody and disturbing read, but sadly the fighting scenes and horror have been taken over almost completely by an overdose of cheesy and sappy romance scenes, a very frustrating love triangle and a whole lot of high school drama.

4. The East End by Jason Allen (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 09/05
Look out for my thoughts on The East End during my blog tour stop tomorrow!

5. The Death Of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW  16/05
Finally a story that managed to convince me again! I’ve been meaning to read more Ruth Ware for a while now and I’m definitely glad I picked up my copy of The Death Of Mrs. Westaway. What a creepy and suspenseful read! The house in Cornwall is such an excellent setting for this story filled with secrets and lies… I admit I saw part of it coming, but I never guess the full truth.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a final May blog tour book I need to get to, which is also a title I’m really excited about: Breakers by Doug Johnstone. I also need to pick up my ARC of The Vanishing Season by Dot Hutchison,  which is another highly anticipated title. And my copy of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech finally arrived! I can’t wait to read this story, so I’m probably going to ignore my May TBR and pick up this one ASAP. My latest TBR jar pick is still The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender.


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DNF ARC REVIEW: Middlegame – by Seanan McGuire

Title: Middlegame
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
First published: May 7th 2019
Publisher: Tor.com 
Finished reading: May 4th 2019
Pages: 528
DNF at 41% (217 pages)

“Numbers are simple, obedient things, as long as you understand the rules they live by. Words are trickier. They twist and bite and require too much attention.”

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

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WARNING: it’s unpopular opinion time again!

I never in the world expected to end up writing a DNF review for Middlegame. I absolutely adore the Wayward Children series and while I’ve yet to try her other work, I had full confidence this new story was going to be another winner. All those raving reviews and 5 star ratings only reconfirmed that belief… But I guess it wasn’t ment to be. First of all I have to stress that I feel really bad about the decision to DNF, especially since I almost never have to resort to such a drastic decision and Middlegame is such a highly anticipated title. Trust me, I haven’t taken this decision lightly,and I have really tried to overcome my initial feelings and warm up to the story. But after a second, third and fourth chance, I’m throwing in the towel at 41%. I’m very happy most people seem to be having a complete opposite experience from mine though. It’s easy to deduct Middlegame is able to provoke very strong reactions; either you get the story and you absolutely adore every single page, or you feel like a mighty confused heap of mess and are left clueless and lost in the woods. Spoiler: I’m part of the second group. Again, I’m feeling really bad for having to take this decision, but it is what it is I guess.

I’m having a hard time properly expressing why I struggled so much with this story, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that (especially in the beginning) I had no idea what I was reading. I was extremely confused and frustrated by the fact I didn’t understand what all those different characters and events had to do with each other, and with the fantastical elements left without a proper explanation it was mostly guesswork and question marks instead of me starting to understand the world. Middlegame can mostly be classified as urban fantasy with sci-fi elements, although some POVs are definitely hardcore fantasy. Those are without doubt the most confusing ones as no proper explanation was offered (or at least up to that point). I admit things got slightly better with some POVs, especially when we follow Roger and Dodger, as they offer an almost ‘normal’ world where things are easier to understand. I loved that Roger is all about words, that Dodger is a math genius and how they are connected. I wasn’t a real fan of the writing style, although their chapters are probably the most readable. I really disliked those chapters with Reed, but again part of the problem was that I felt information was missing and I couldn’t properly understand it. Ever read a sequel without reading the first book, finding yourself confused all the time because you are missing crucial information? That was how I felt most of the time while I was trying to read Middlegame. Again, I seem to be the exception here as most people seem to love this story, so don’t give up on Middlegame on my account. Just remember that if you do find yourself being a confused pile of mess when you are reading it, you are not the only one.


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WWW Wednesdays #220 – May 1st

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 never thought I was going to be typing this, but I’m really struggling with Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. So far I’m feeling mighty confused and nothing much is making sense… There are so many 5 star reviews already that I’m almost wondering if I’m reading the same story. I confess I’ve been picking up other titles instead… Including my long pending TBR jar pick Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, which I’ll most likely finish  first as well.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Murder On The Links by Agatha Christie (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I really enjoyed spending more time with Hercule Poirot. He is such an interesting character! I love the way he investigates by using what he calls using his grey cells, and deducts and discovers the truth by noticing things others might overlook. The writing makes it very easy to fly through this classic, and I had an excellent time trying to discover the hidden clues along with Poirot. Mr. Hastings can get quite annoying, but I tried not to focus on that and enjoy the investigation instead. I had a great time with this second book and I will definitely be looking forward to see more of Hercule Poirot in the future.

2. Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
the story definitely lived up to expectations… What a read! After a string of reads that failed to blow me away completely, I finally found myself fully absorbed in a story again and posponed all plans until I had reached the final page. Before She Knew Him is well written, suspenseful and has an enormous plot twist bomb towards the end that will leave you with your mouth hanging wide open. I love it when a story is able to mislead me so well I actually yelled ‘WHAT?!?!’ when I stumbled across the reveal. If you enjoy the genre, Before She Knew Him is definitely a story not to miss.

3. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (2/5 stars) REVIEW
There is one thing that is certain, and that is that These Broken Stars is oozing with sappy romance scenes. What I hoped would be an interesting science fiction story set in space, soon turned into a survival story on a foreign planet after only a few chapters… The survival angle could have been interesting enough once you get over the fact you won’t be getting more space actions or a true explanation behind the crash, but to be honest I was rather bored instead most of the time. For such an interesting setting, nothing much was actually happening. The story instead focuses almost completely on Lilac and Tarver and their complicated relationship. Romance fans who enjoy a forbidden romance story with a space setting will probably appreciate this first book of the Starbound series a lot more though.

4. Romanov by Nadine Brandes (4/5 stars) REVIEW
This retelling mixes historical facts and magic in an expert way and gives us a whole new take on the events set in 1918 Russia. While Romanov can mostly be considered and in fact mainly reads like a historical fiction story, there are also magical elements incorporated that give the story a little something extra. I enjoyed the writing style, although I do have to admit that the pace is considerably slow and this might be a turn off for those who don’t enjoy slower and more character driven historical fiction. Romanov focuses mostly on the characters and their development, and only gives you a healthy dose of action and magic more towards the ending.

5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (1/5 stars) REVIEW 04/05
It’s true I wasn’t sure if this one would be for me, but I needed a graphic novel for my BTB Bingo challenge and my TBR choices were limited. I enjoy reading memoirs and the idea of reading a memoir in graphic novel form intrigued me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect to the tone or writing style of the author. The many many references to classic literature for me were, instead of an unexpected bonus, rather a hint to feelings of self-importance and superiority. I wasn’t a fan of how the whole lgbt aspect was handled nor how characters were portrayed. I honestly wish I would have just taken the decision to DNF, because I had a really hard time reaching that final page. This definitely wasn’t a story for me, although I should note others have highly enjoyed it so it could have been just me.

6. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 04/05
I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while, especially since I want to watch the movie adaptation some time soon as well. The first thing that stood out for me was that this story has that The Fault In Our Stars and Everything, Everything vibe down to the terminal illness and cheesy romance. I’m still deciding whether that is a good or a bad thing, but there is one thing for sure: you will find yourself flying through this story. I literally finished it in less than a day, and a lot of this has to do with the writing style. I appreciated the focus and insight in CF and the impact of this disease on someone’s life. BUT. I’m not sure up to what point some aspects of the plot are exactly credible. More in my review, but it has to do with the unnecessary risk taking (something similar happened in Everything Everything). The romance itself was cheesy, but somehow I found myself liking it anyway. A story that will both make you smile and make your eyes water… Perfect if you enjoy the genre and don’t mind a pile of cliches and some inconsistencies.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I have a few May blogtour reads I need to get to ASAP, and The East End by Jason Allen and Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small are up first. I’m also finally picking up my copy of Circe by Madeline Miller (it’s already waiting for me next to my reading chair!). I’m having high hopes it will finally give me another 5 star read. I also have a new TBR jar pick! The Dead Girls Of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender… I have really enjoyed her books so far, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.


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WWW Wednesdays #219 – April 24th

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 finally meeting Hercule Poirot again and started the second book The Murder On The Links yesterday… I’m hoping to get through to it soon. I’m also starting Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson in the hope I can finish it in time for Janel’s Instagram @criminallygoodbookclub…

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall (2/5 stars) REVIEW
The Wolf Border was very close to getting me in a slump, and not in a good way. I literally made every possible excuse to not pick up my copy and do something else instead, and it took me considerably longer to finally reach that last page. I even thought about just DNFing it multiple times… In short, I don’t think The Wolf Border and me were ment to be.

2. The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/04
The genre is right up my alley, as I love WWII historical fiction, and I really liked the setting on Guernsey as well since I don’t think I’ve read about the Channel Islands as a setting in stories before. Not only the historical and geographical setting made this story into a success for me, but also the format that is chosen to narrate this story. The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel, where the story is told through a series of letters and occasionally telegrams written between a wide variety of different characters. While I admit it took me a little while to keep track of all those different characters, they all added their little touch to the story and I especially loved those letters set in Guernsey.

3. The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/04

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I still need to read a final book to complete my O.W.L.s for the Magical readathon… I had a different title picked originally, but I needed a little break from historical fiction so I’ve decided to read These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner instead. I also need to start making a dent in my May NG ARCs as a few are due soon… First up are Romanov by Nadine Brandes and Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. My TBR jar pick is still Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain; that one will definitely have to wait until next month. xD


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YVO’S SHORTIES #74 – Artemis & Beneath The Sugar Sky

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time two anticipated releases, one that turned out to be a disappointment and one that turned out to be a success. Artemis by Andy Weir sadly didn’t live up to expectations at all (although I was warned), something I had hoped wouldn’t happen since The Martian is one of my all time favorites. Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire turned out to be a very strong third book and definitely just as good as the first one.


Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction
First published: November 14th 2017
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: January 7th 2019 
Pages: 322

“It’s a simple idiot-proofing scheme that’s very effective. But no idiot-proofing can overcome a determined idiot.”


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Part of me already knew this was going to happen, because people did warn me about Artemis before I started reading it… But even lowering my expectations didn’t prevent me from feeling very much disappointed by Artemis, especially since The Martian has a special place on my list of all time favorites. I know it’s not right to compare the two books and I won’t be don’t that here actively, but let’s see if I can put together just exactly why this story didn’t work for me. The first mayor problem has a lot to do with the main character Jazz. Let’s just start with saying I had no clue the main character was actually female until she was referred to in that way. And that was one heck of an unpleasant surprise… Because while Mark Watney’s personality really worked for him in The Martian, having a very much similar attitude and personality implanted in an Islamic young woman REALLY gives off the wrong vibe. I don’t mind sassy, I don’t mind attitude, but what is with the constant sexism, adult jokes and sex references? And why do other treat her that way, talk to her in that way, and think that it’s okay to do so? Not only did it feel unnatural, but I also found it offensive. In short, both Jazz and the way others reacted to her really ruined the story for me. It seems that this personality that was once successful just doesn’t work for a different gender or a situation where a lot more characters are involved. The writing on its own isn’t bad and I do like part of the dry humor (when it’s not sexist); the worldbuilding is also quite interesting and I liked the idea behind the plot. This story could have worked really well, but sadly went in the wrong direction for me… As for the credibility: well, it IS a story set on the moon and sci-fi at that, but I couldn’t help start wondering about how Jazz and only a few others were supposed to do all that without getting killed in the process. Or blowing up the moon. This was only minor compared to my problems with Jazz and what she represented though, and I’m really sad to be feeling this way about what I had hoped would be a new favorite. Oh well, at least now I know for sure…


Title: Beneath The Sugar Sky
(Wayward Children #3)
Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 9th 2018
Publisher: Tor
Finished reading: January 8th 2019
Pages: 157

“There is kindness in the world, if we know how to look for it. If we never start denying it the door.”


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I fell in love with the worldbuilding and writing in Every Heart A Doorway last year, and have been looking forward to read more about the different worlds and doors ever since. Don’t let the shortness of these little gems fool you, because there is a lot to love in each story and the only downside is that it will leave you wanting for more. Beneath The Sugar Sky is already book number three and bumped straight to the top of this series favorites along with the first book. I think part of this has to do with the fact that we go back to the ‘real’ world temporarily and meet a lot of the characters mentioned in the first book again. This mixture of reality and a healthy dose of a glimpse of not one but multiple magical worlds made the story really stand out for me. Old and new characters are mixed naturally and I love just how diverse Seanan McGuire is able to make her characters without them becoming a cliche. I could really appreciate the focus on the whole body image issue through the eyes of Cora… There is so much truth in her experience and it’s sad the real world has to be this way. That said, I loved the whimsical, nonsense and basically impossible quest the main characters find themselves on in Beneath The Sugar Sky and I’m already curious about what the next story will bring us.


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