ARC REVIEW: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past – by Paul Cude

Title: Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past
Author: Paul Cude

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
First published: October 19th 2011
Finished reading: September 29th 2017
Pages: 486
DNF at 49% (238 pages)

“The valuable lesson you should have learned, was that evil comes in many guises, not always visible to everyone.”

*** 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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It’s easy to say I have a weak spot for any story involving dragons as they are my favorite of mythical creatures. This story had me at the title, because how could I resist a new fantasy series where dragons play such a big role? I was really looking forward to start reading Bentwhistle The Dragon, and even though it took me longer than planned to actually pick it up my initial excitement was still there. That’s why it’s such a shock I had to make the hard decision to DNF this story. Because let’s face it: that almost never happens… But honestly, I’ve tried. Really tried. I’m not saying the writing is bad and it truly shows just how much time is put into the detailed and extensive descriptions and worldbuilding in general. This attention to detail is what stands out in this story and I can always appreciate when this much time is dedicated to creating a believable and well developed fantasy world. BUT. The thing is, the pace is supersuperSUPER slow and I just couldn’t get myself to keep interest. I don’t mind a slower pace if I get detailed descriptions in return, but I think in the case of Bentwhistle The Dragon it was kind of a description overdose. One superlong and extensive description after the other kind of had the reverse effect on me and instead of finding myself intrigued by a story about my favorite mythical creature, I was actually rather bored by it all. Because I have to be honest and say that nothing much really happens during the first half of the story especially considering it has over 200 pages. I definitely would have expected a lot more action or at least some suspense… I don’t think the age group would be happy with so many descriptions or the lack of action either, and I felt the tone was off for a YA story (too ‘formal’?). All in all Bentwhistle The Dragon definitely wasn’t for me, and unfortunately I just couldn’t bring myself to keep reading all those extensive descriptions hoping something exciting would happen in the second half. Especially since I found the mystery and ‘dangerous’ situation not suspenseful at all and to be honest rather lacking for what is labeled as a fantasy adventure story… I’m sad to see this dragon story on my very short list of DNF reads.

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Dragons have walked among humans for a long time, and nobody seems to be aware of them… Because the dragons are disguised as humans and live among them, infiltrating the human world in key positions to guide and protect them. They can change forms at will, although dragons are always careful to not reveal their secrets. But something is off, and it might be up to three young dragons to put a stop to it before it’s too late… Will they be able to?

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I had really high hopes for Bentwhistle The Dragon, and that’s why it makes me extra sad I had to make the though decision to DNF it. This almost never happens, but I struggled so much with the endless descriptions and superslow pace that I just couldn’t get myself to read the second part as well. I was really surprised by the lack of action as well, especially since it’s labeled as a fantasy adventure story… The worldbuilding is excellent and extensive, but in this case it might have been too much detail and the balance between plot/action and description was lost. Such a shame! I really wanted to enjoy this one.


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BOOK REVIEW: Our Dark Duet – by Victoria Schwab @veschwab

Title: Our Dark Duet
(Monsters Of Verity #2)
Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: June 13th 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 12th 2017
Pages: 533

“The world was complicated. Life was hard. And so often, living hurt. So make it worth the pain.”

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Victoria Schwab‘s books and my review might sound a bit biased or like a typical fangirl blabbering about how awesome this particular book was. Because I’m not going to lie and say that even though I finished Our Dark Duet quite a few days ago, I still haven’t recovered. I read the first book of this duology, This Savage Song, last year and completely fell in love with the worldbuilding, writing and characters. It’s true nothing can quite replace or outshine the Shades Of Magic series, but I like to see them as two completely separate stories and worlds to love and cherish. I reread the first book before starting the sequel, and this has definitely reconfirmed my love for this duology. The worldbuilding is actually quite simple and the strength of this story is in both the brilliant writing, the main characters and the constant threat of danger and monsters hiding in dark corners as well as on the next page. Our Dark Duet adds a whole different level and a new monster to the equation, and I quite liked this addition. I just loved seeing my favorite characters evolve and react to the dangerous situations they find themselves in… And even though the ending crushed me, I realy admire Victoria Schwab for her courage to do what she did. This story set in a dystopian world where monsters are real has never been a happy story, and by no means can be called just another sappy YA fantasy story. Because Monsters Of Verity is anything but. Sure, there is a dash of romance included, but there’s no love triangle, no cheesy romance scenes, no all-consuming romantic plot. No, instead you get a double dose of suspense, action, monsters and a whole lot of awesomeness in general. To say that the writing is excellent is an understatement, but then again it is Victoria Schwab we are talking about. Don’t compare this duology to Shades Of Magic, because you will most likely end up being disappointed. Instead, see Monsters Of Verity as something new and completely different, and let the characters and their dystopian world full of monsters enchant you.

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

There is no way back after what happened… Nearly six months after Kate and August first met, the war between monsters and humans has become very real. August Flynn has always wanted to be human, but knows he will always be a monster in the end. He will have to make some difficult choices now he is seen as a leader during the battle agains the other monsters. Kate Harker on the other hand is far away in Prosperity hunting the monsters the people living there don’t even know that exist… Doing what she does best until a new monster shows up and messes up everything. What will happen to the two characters and Verity in general? Will the monsters finally win?

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Error, page not found… Excuse me while my mind recovers from the blow. Because WOW. Victoria Schwab wasn’t kidding when she said this wasn’t a happy story; I admire her all the more for it even though this book kind of broke my heart… Bulldozer or not, I loved this story and how things developed after the first book ended. I’m not saying this Monsters Of Verity duology can compete with the Shades Of Magic trilogy, but I like to see them as two completely separate series that both deserve all the love. Because both have deserved a well earned place among my other all time favorite books and characters. I’m having a feeling Kate, August, Kell and Lila would make a very interesting group indeed! 😉


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ARC REVIEW: Cold Blood – by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @bookouture

Title: Cold Blood
(Detective Erika Foster #5)
Author: Robert Bryndza

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 20th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: September 1st 2017
Pages: 300

“We’re all a few pieces of bad luck away from having to make horrible choices to survive.”

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

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Those who follow my blog are probably already aware of the fact that I have become a big fan of the Erika Foster series ever since I finished reading the first book last year. Now book number five is already about to come out, and my feelings haven’t changed. In fact, Cold Blood has only reconfirmed my love for this series. Because this story yet again blew me away… There is no doubt that every new Erika Foster adventure simply delivers and will have you on the edge of your seat for the duration of the ride. Cold Blood is another serial killer thriller with a twist; it has a great plot, lots of action and twists that will keep you invested until the very end. It has been very interesting to see the main characters develop over time and it almost feels like you know them personally. Erika Foster is without doubt a very powerful character and is an important part of why this series is such a success. The case in Cold Blood is another fascinating one; you find out the who quite early on but the character development is spot on and intriguing. Also, the final scene is GOOD! I definitely can’t wait for the next installment and Cold Blood hasn’t even been published yet. If you enjoy reading crime thrillers, I can highly suggest picking up this series. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! The books are highly entertaining, well written, suspenseful, have the right amount of creepy, lots of twists and a kickass main character. What more to ask?

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

A battered suitcase washed up on the shore of the Thames, and what is inside shocks everyone. The suitcase contains the dismembered body of a young man… They are not able to identify him immediately, but as Erika and her team start working on the case, they make the link with another victim that was found under similar circumstances two weeks ago. Could it really be that another serial killer is on the move? Why were the two victims killed? Things will spin out of control fast and Erika and her team will have to do everything it takes to stop the killer. And they might be in for a surprise or two…

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I’m a big fan of the Erika Foster series and book number 5 was definitely one of my most anticipated releases. The wait was worth it, because Cold Blood was definitely everything I  hoped for and more. Suspenseful, fast-paced, a kickass character, thrilling plot, another serial killer thriller and entertaining read in general. This book has only reconfirmed my love for this series and I’m already waiting impatiently for the next one! Oh yes, I’m seriously addicted to Erika Foster adventures. They simply read like a train.


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BOOK REVIEW: Monsters Of Men – by Patrick Ness

Title: Monsters Of Men
(Chaos Walking #3)
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 3rd 2010
Publisher: Candlewick
Finished reading: August 28th 2017
Pages: 602

“Choices may be unbelievably hard but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.”

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Warning: unpopular opinion ahead. Dun. Dun. Dun. The unpopular opinion curse has punished me once again… Because behold: I didn’t love the final book of the Chaos Walking trilogy as much as I expected and hoped I would. And trust me, I am still shocked myself I feel this way as well. Despite some minor issues with the slang used in the first two books, I was actually really enjoying this series so far. Like most people who have read at least part of this trilogy, I have really grown attached to both Todd and Viola and I was really looking forward to find out how things would end for both of them. I was expecting to devour Monsters Of Men despite its whopping 600 pages… But that wish didn’t came completely true in the end. Why? First of all, I want to make clear I didn’t hate this story despite the things Patrick Ness does to make my poor heart suffer. I just don’t think it was as good as the first two books. I have been wondering if this has to do with the fact I read A Monster Calls in between and nothing will ever be able to live up to that story… But here’s me trying to explain why I gave Monsters Of Men a lowish rating compared to most. I will not take into account the use of the slang, which I have repeatedly said I didn’t like and since the use is consistent throughout the series won’t affect my relative opinion of Monsters Of Men. It wasn’t the how Patrick Ness decided to end it all or how he made us readers suffer along with the characters either. No, my mean problem with Monsters Of Men is the new POV that is suddenly introduced into the story. A new POV, would you ask? Isn’t this series just about Todd and Viola? Well, the third book is now also about ‘The Return’. This new POV and its chapters left me mostly feeling confused and instead of adding an interesting new angle to the story, I mostly struggled trying to understand what they were talking about or who/what they were referring to. Honestly, I was never able to warm up to those chapters and even confess I started skimreading them at one point. I can’t deny they are beautifully written and Patrick Ness is a pro at creating creative and unique prose, but this POV just wasn’t for me and put a real damper on the rest of the story. I just wish he would have sticked with the Todd/Viola POVs instead… But I guess we can’t have it all. I feel really sad I wasn’t able to like this final book better though.

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

Todd and Viola will have to face some very difficult decisions as the situation starts to escalate further. Not only are the indigenous Spackle a threat, but the different human leaders will also do whatever it takes to make sure they reach their goals… Even if this means others will have to suffer for it. They all will defend their own ideas at all costs; endangering the others in the process. Who will win this demostration of power? And what about the convoy of new settlers?

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I was so sure I was going to enjoy Monsters Of Men just as much as the previous two books, but I guess my instincts were wrong. It wasn’t the prose. Besides the slang I still find annoying, the writing was just as strong as ever. I still love Todd and Viola just as much as in the first books. And it wasn’t the fact that Patrick Ness is basically an expert at breaking my heart and crushing my feelings either. I had one big problem with Monsters Of Men: ‘The Return’ and his newly introduced POV. This POV is more lyrical and in a way very beautiful, but unfortunately it left me mostly confused and I had a hard time figuring out the who and what of the things mentioned in those chapters. I actually found myself starting to skimread them at some point… Definitely not a good sign. It’s the main reason I had to lower the rating considerably despite my overal positive opinion about the rest of this final book.


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ARC REVIEW: The Missing Girls – by Carol Wyer @carolewyer @bookouture

Title: The Missing Girls
(DI Robyn Carter #3)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 14th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 24th 2017
Pages: 408

“Words can hurt. They can injure as deeply as a knife can, or be as deadly as a gunshot.”

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

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The Missing Girls is the third book of a relatively new detective series I’ve become addicted to ever since I read the first book back in February. I admit it wasn’t love at first sight when I first met the main character Robyn Carter, but she has definitely grown on me since that first encounter and I’ve become a fan. The Missing Girls is just as good as the first two books and offers the same quality writing, suspense and another serial killer on the loose. Because there is no doubt about it: these books read like a train. The writing style is very engaging and the pace is fast; combined with the many plot twists you’ll definitely be on your edge of your seat to find out what will happen next. I did guess a few things about the ending early on, but fortunately this didn’t make the journey less enjoyable for me. The social media and cyber bullying theme and the dangers involved were an interesting touch as well. The main characters are well developed and it is great to see Robyn Carter evolve over time as she is trying to recover from her loss. I’m also really liking Ross both as a character and subplot, and the way his storyline also adds a little something to the main plot. And that ending! I’ll definitely be waiting impatiently for book number four to come out… If you enjoy reading fast-paced crime thrillers, definitely give the DI Robyn Carter series a go.

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A body of a teenage girl is found inside the trunk at a Midlands storage unit, and detective Robyn Carter is called in to lead the case. The body has been there for a while and it is too decomposed to find proper clues… But Robyn is determined to catch the one that harmed the girl. The leads seem to go nowhere, but then another body is discovered… And this time the clues are a lot easier to follow and Robyn starts to suspect they might have a serial killer on the loose. Will she be able to find the killer on time? Someone close to her might be in danger…

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The Missing Girls is a true detective thriller winner for quite a few reasons. Fast-paced, well written, a healthy dose of suspense, one creepy serial killer, plot twists, an interesting character… This third book of the DI Robyn Carter series has all that and more. I really liked the way the social media and cyber bullying theme is incorporated into the story and how it shows the dangers of using those apps. The story definitely ends with a bang though and I will be waiting impatiently to find out what will happen next. Recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: The Secret Of Heaven – by Felix Alexander @ReadingAlley

Title: The Secret Of Heaven
(Aiden Leonardo #1)
Author: Felix Alexander

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adventure
First published: 2016
Publisher: ForeverPoetic
Finished reading: August 22nd 2017
Pages: 311

“The truth must be understood. Not solely for the purpose of being accepted, but for humanity as a whole to achieve enlightenment.”

*** 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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Every once in a while I like to change up genres and read something different. And while The Secret Of Heaven is partly a thriller, it was the promise of adventure and ancient mysteries that closed the deal for me. I love reading about conspiracy theories and secret societies so it is easy to say I was looking forward to this one, especially since I had previously enjoyed one of the author’s stories. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way. I’m not sure if it just was me reading The Secret Of Heaven at the wrong time, but I really struggled to get a proper feel for this story. There are a lot of different characters involved and this makes it hard to keep up wih the what and who and how everything connects. More than once I had to stop reading and try to remember what the role of a certain character was and this slowed down the pace considerably. The plot also felt pretty chaotic and kept jumping back and forth between characters… Which took a while to get used to. I have to be honest here and say it took me a lot longer than expected to finish The Secret Of Heaven. The writing wasn’t bad and it really shows that the author has taken the time to investigate the historical details thoroughly. The (historical) descriptions are extensive and show just how important the so-called Lost Bible is… That said, those descriptions did also slow down the pace and while I normally love historical elements in a story, they didn’t manage to convince me in The Secret Of Heaven. As for the characters and their actions… I wasn’t really able to connect to them as there are simply too many characters in play in the first place; also, I’m not sure everything that happens in the plot is exactly credible. And while it kind of has that Dan Brown feel and sounds really promising, The Secret Of Heaven unfortunately didn’t manage to blow me away. Such a shame, because the story has a lot of potential!

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Professor of Biblical Studies Aiden Leonardo was the last person to see Lazzaro de Medici before he was murdered, so of course he instantly becomes the main suspect. The thing is: he cannot remember what happened the night before… Although he is certain he would never harm the man that took him in when his mother died. Something more complicated than just a simple murder seems to be at play though and Aiden soon finds himself right in the middle of a conspiracy, a hunt for a Lost Bible and a secret organization known as The Group. What will happen to Aiden and will they be able to find what they are looking for before it’s too late?

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I really thought I was going to enjoy this one and I’m still wondering if I picked it up at the wrong time, but the fact is that The Secret Of Heaven didn’t manage to convince me in the end. The writing isn’t bad and it shows that the historical elements are very well researched, but there were too many characters involved and the pace wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be with the extensive descriptions slowing it down. I normally love historical details so I was really surprised I wasn’t able to enjoy this story more!


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ARC REVIEW: Dead To Me – by Stephen Edger @bookouture

Title: Dead To Me
(Detective Kate Matthews #1)
Author: Stephen Edger

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 17th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: August 10th 2017
Pages: 352

“A rush of adrenaline swept over her. Nothing ever quite compared to the buzz of a new crime scene, an untouched puzzle fresh out of the box.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

I think just about everybody already knows by now just how hard I find it to resist a Bookouture thriller… Dead To Me by Stephen Edger was no exception to that rule. This book had me at the cover and the mention of a serial killer and I was initially very excited about this title. But then mixed reviews started popping up, and my excitement turned into worry. What if I didn’t like the story either? I posponed picking it up for longer than I would have liked, but finally did read it last week. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I initially found when I started Dead To Me. There is no doubt that Stephen Edger‘s writing style is very engaging and draws you right in. The plot itself is well developed and intruiging with a lot of plot twists that will keep you guessing for a long time. And that serial killer! Very twisted indeed and there were things I didn’t see coming at all. This all sounds very positive, so why the lowish rating? One word: Kate. Basically, the main character Kate ruined what could have been a great and intense thriller for me. I absolutely despised her! The way she treats her daughter, doesn’t care about her safety and even forgets she’s there at times… Not caring about police protocol, doing whatever she wants without considering the consequences, endangering others, undermining active murder investigations… And I can go on with that list if I want to. Ugh! It’s a shame one character can influence my opinion about a story that much…  But I personally found it really hard to keep tolerating Kate AND enjoying Dead To Me at the same time, especially since she plays such a big role in the story and the developments in the plot. As I said before, the writing is GOOD, the plot intense and twisty and this first book of a new detective series has a lot of potential. Unfortunately my dislike for the main character will stop me from continuing this series… I have seen others not being all that bothered by Kate though, so give this book a chance if the things about Kate I mentioned above don’t curl your toes.

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Detective Kate Matthews is called in to investigate the brutal murder of a woman, who was found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks. Kate still hasn’t recovered from her role in the death of a close colleague, and is told she must solve the case to prove she is still up for a leading role. Her team keeps hitting dead ends, until Kate discovers something that will blow not one but various cases wide open… But nobody seems to believe her findings or theory, and that leaves her with a very difficult decision.

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There is a lot to love in Dead To Me and I would probably have given it a lot higher rating if it wouldn’t have been for the main character Kate. Sadly I couldn’t ignore the fact that she is the most important character of this new series and the whole story is told around her… And it’s really hard to properly enjoy a story when you absolutely despise the main character, no matter how good the writing and plot are. The writing, plot, twists and intense feel were more than promising and I do hope there will be a ‘Kate-less’ thriller by his hand in the future.


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