YVO’S SHORTIES #18: As Dead As It Gets & Take The Key And Lock Her Up

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a double dose of third and final book of a series… Yes, I’ll be marking two more series as finished with this post! Sadly both of these weren’t as good as I hoped. As Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender is a bit stronger than the sequel, but the main character is annoying and I still prefer book one. Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter is by far the weakest book of the series and I don’t really care for the ending either… Things have been going downhill since book one. Oh well, at least it’s two series less to worry about right?


Title: As Dead As It Gets
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #3)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: May 15th 2012
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: February 1st 2018 
Pages: 448

“Find the people who treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Tell everyone else to go to hell. And don’t look back.”


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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Don’t read my rambles if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet… You’ve been warned.

As part of my promise to finally start finishing those poor neglected series, I decided to pick up the third and final book of the Bad Girls Don’t Die trilogy while my memories of the second book were still fresh. And while I still think the first book is the strongest, As Dead As It Gets without doubt makes a comeback from what I call a ‘weak-second-book-syndrome’. No more sunny and miss nice girl, because Alexis has another paranormal problem on her hand and things are quickly spiralling out of hand… And things might turn ugly. The writing is engaging and reads superfast as always, making As Dead As It Gets a fun, exciting and speedy paranormal read. The plot is darker than the second book and adds a level of suspension to the story… Without doubt an interesting final adventure, although I’m still on the fence whether I like the ending or not. Strong final words though! I do have to say I still find Alexis annoying with her whole ‘I need to do this alone’, ‘I clearly need help, but I won’t ask anybody even if they are willing’ and ‘I don’t want others hurt, but they somehow do anyway’ attitude. I could have done without the love triangle as well… But there is no doubt that As Dead As It Gets is still a solid and entertaining YA paranormal read.


Title: Take The Key And Lock Her Up
(Embassy Row #3)
Author: Ally Carter

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: December 27th 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Finished reading: February 7th 2018
Pages: 336

“There are some ghosts that live inside us, and we can never lose them, no matter how far we run.”


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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Don’t read my rambles if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet… You’ve been warned.

I was a big fan of the first book when I read it back in 2015. I liked the sequel as well, although the main character was realy started to bother me… But still I had added this third and final book to my list of most-anticipated 2016 releases. Why didn’t I pick up Take The Key And Lock Her Up sooner then? I have no idea, other than that it probably slipped between the cracks of my exploding TBR pile. I had forgotten about the details, including the supposedly enormous cliffhanger ending, by the time I was able to get to it… But it was quite easy to pick up the thread anyway. That said, it was by no means the reading experience I was hoping for. Unfortunately, Take The Key And Lock Her Up is by far the weakest book of the trilogy and it’s sad to see a series end on this note as it started out so promising. One of the biggest problems I had was with the main character Grace. I already had these feelings in the sequel, but Grace becomes almost unbearable in book three with her constant whining about just how crazy she is, how she is endangering others by just being close, that she should be punished, that she doesn’t deserve positive things happening to her etc… Yawn. Her whole attitude, dialogue and actions seriously annoyed me and it was one of the reasons the final book didn’t work for me. I wasn’t 100% convinced by the writing either, but this is probably mostly related to Grace and her dialogue. And the whole love triangle and romance put a damper on things as well. As for the plot… If you look critically, nothing much is actually happening during this final adventure, or at least I missed the intensity and suspense. It has some interesting pointers, but overall I was quite disappointed by Take The Key And Lock Her Up.


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ARC REVIEW: Unclean Spirits – by Chuck Wendig

Title: Unclean Spirits
(Gods & Monsters #1)
Author: Chuck Wendig
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror, Mythology
First published: May 5th 2013
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Finished reading: January 30th 2018
Pages: 320

“Hope, a mirage in the desert, a curtain of vapor forming for us an image of that which we most sincerly desire. Hope is not an oasis but rather, a trap.”

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

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!! Happy publication day !!

This is one of those cases where I should have investigated better before requesting a copy, because I am so NOT the target group for this one. And this had a big influence on the lowish rating. Unclean Spirits definitely feels written for the more ‘macho’ male readers who like a lot of action, graphic scenes, violence, swearing and adult content in general. AKA 200% not my cup of tea… And it showed. While I did like the short and direct writing style Chuck Wendig uses to bulldozer through this story, I wasn’t a fan at all of the constant swearing and existence of graphic/adult scenes. This has more to do with me not being the target group than the story itself being a bad one, but trigger warnings are definitely in place here. Due to the general tone and wrong target group, I had a really hard time connecting to the characters as well, but I guess this is understandable being in my situation and all. I do have to say I loved the whole mythology angle and this was what saved Unclean Spirits for me. The urban fantasy genre shows and the mix of real world and supernatural is quite balanced. Mythology played a role throughout the story and I liked how many different gods and religions were incorporated. The plot itself had a lot of potential as well. So if you think you are the right target group for Unclean Spirits, you will probably have a heck of a ride waiting for you.

This publication also includes a short story by Pat Kelleher called Drag Hunt which is related to Unclean Spirits. Unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to read past the first chapter and therefore cannot give a proper opinion of it… There was simply zero connection between the writing style and me and I couldn’t bear to keep reading. (Since the writing style in Unclean Spirits was one of the few things that made me keep going and not DNF it.)

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Cason Cole had his whole life turned upside down five years ago when he not only lost his wife and son, but was forced to work for a man who holds nothing dear and respects no law. Five years later, somehow his boss ends up dying at his feet, and Cason thinks he is finally free… But this doesn’t turn out to be true. He gets the shock of his life as he is told that gods and goddesses are real and they are not exactly playing nice. Will he find a way to free himself and be with his wife and son again? Things are not going to be easy…

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Completely wrong target group or not, I do have to agree the whole mythology angle is quite fascinating. It’s one of the reasons I actually made it to the end of Unclean Spirits… Because it painfully showed just how much this story just wasn’t for me. The graphic scenes, the adult content, the swearing, the excessive violence… It was all just too much and distracted from a plot with quite some potential. Don’t get me wrong though, because I have the feeling the right target group will probably have a way more positive experience.


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ARC REVIEW: Black Heart – by Anna-Lou Weatherley @bookouture

Title: Black Heart
(Detective Dan Riley #1)
Author: Anna-Lou Weatherley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: January 31st 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: February 6th 2018
Pages: 307

“They say you dig two graves when you seek revenge and for the most part of my life I have agreed with this statement.”

*** 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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I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Black Heart after certain bloggers (hint hint) kept going on about how great this detective thriller was… And I definitely agree for the most part. It’s refreshing to follow a male detective again for a change, even though he has the ‘usual’ complicated past baggage with him… And I do have a weak spot for a serial killer thriller. The writing draws you right in and it was without doubt a lightning-speed fast thriller ride… Just the way I like them. The plot was a bit predictable though and it was quite clear early on who the killer really was. There just weren’t all that many plot twists and surprises? There is more focus on the development of the serial killer and her background as well as some fleshing out of our new star detective… The ending didn’t came as such a big surprise either, although if you somehow manage to not see the clues you will be in for a good twist. Black Heart was without doubt a very entertaining read and has a healthy dose of creepy and disturbing serial killer. The writing is great and I’ll be looking forward to find out what will happen next… Detective Dan Riley’s personal life surely raised some questions. And while Black Heart wasn’t that intense and didn’t have the expected plot twists and suspense of a typical serial killer, it shows that the characters were the main focus of this story and fans of more character-driven thrillers will have a blast reading this one.

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When the body of a wealthy banker is found in an expensive London hotel room, it appears to be a suicide. His wrists are slashed and there is a note, but detective Dan Riley suspects there is more to the case than just a ‘simple’ suicide. His instincts are right as the pathology report confirms the victim was first poisoned… And the crime scene evidence didn’t add up either. Dan Riley and his team has to deal with a murder case that is getting more complex as they find new clues… And things will escalate when the body of a woman is found in a similar way.

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Black Heart is fast-paced and reads like a train. The plot and case are interesting, although I do feel it lacked the tension and suspense serial killer thrillers tend to have. It shows the focus was more on the characters rather than on the plot twists and the creating of false clues and a highly suspenseful read… But there is no doubt Anna-Lou Weatherley was able to great a creepy and intriguing serial killer in this first detective thriller of a new series. I will be looking forward to see more of Detective Dan Riley in the future!


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ARC REVIEW: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – by Amanda Lovelace @AndrewsMcMeel @ladybookmad

Title: The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One
(Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #2)
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry, Non Fiction, Feminism
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 24th 2018
Pages: 208

“to be a

woman

is to be

warbound,

k n o w i n g

all the odds

are stacked

against you.

 

– & never giving up in spite of it.”

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


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I know I don’t read poetry all that often, but I do enjoy reading poetry bundles every once in a while, especially if the topic speaks to me. I’ve heard lots and lots of wonderful things about Amanda Lovelace‘s powerful and feminist poems, and after a few teasers of her work, I was determined to find out what my own reaction to her work would be. And just like the bold red letters on an otherwise simple cover, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One without doubt makes a statement. Not only did I instantly connect with her style of poetry and the way she expresses herself, but I could also relate to some of the topics she discusses in her poems. Powerful, enchanting, inspiring and so well represented in both the words and format of her work! There a trigger warnings involved for a wide selection of sensitive themes, but all used in a way that will hopefully encourage women to finally stand up for themselves and say ‘no more’. The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One simply blew me away and I can highly recommend it to fans of strong, empowering and feminist poetry. I can’t wait to read more of her work now!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #16: Born A Crime & Halfway (ARC)

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time about two completely different books… The first a memoir I’ve been meaning to read for some time now: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. And just as everyone kept saying as they recommended this title to me, it was GOOD. The second was an ARC I’ve been meaning to read for ages now… Halfway by Lokesh Sharma. Unfortunately that one didn’t work for me.


Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: November 15th 2016
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Finished reading: January 25th 2018
Pages: 304

“Regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”


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One of my goals this year is to read more memoirs and international authors, and Born A Crime has been on my list ever since it was first published. The apartheid has always intrigued me and Trevor Noah‘s memoir sounded like a fascinating account during that time. Of course the many many recommendations have helped put this story on my radar as well… And I’m glad I finally got the chance to read it. Because there is one thing for sure: Born A Crime is a very powerful and thought provoking read. I already knew the apartheid was going to be an intriguing topic, and Trevor Noah does an excellent job narrating his personal experience during the end of the apartheid as well as his mother’s experience. He balances these personal accounts with a lot of background information and facts about apartheid that are relevant to that particular account he was talking about. These little chapters were both extremely helpful to those who want to learn more about apartheid and fascinating as well. His writing style, honest tone and willingness to put it all on paper, even if it might shed a negative light on his life is something I could highly appreciate. Honest, heartbreaking, funny, engaging and gripping… Born A Crime is a memoir you will not soon forget. Haven’t read it yet? If memoirs are your kind of book, you definitely should remedy that!


Title: Halfway
(Aspiration For Deliverance #1)
Author: Lokesh Sharma

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: January 29th 2017
Finished reading: Januart 27th 2018
Pages: 220

“We want others to care about us. But without feelings, nobody would care about anybody.”

*** 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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True, I don’t read a whole lot of science fiction stories, but I have enjoyed the genre in the past and I had high hopes for Halfway. It took me way longer than expected to finally pick it up, mostly due to the slump, but I was looking forward to it… Sadly I didn’t have the reading experience I was expecting to have. Unpopular opinion ahead! I went in looking forward to emerge myself fully in a new futuristic world, but I was actually mostly confused during a long time. While Halfway has a substantial amount of descriptions, I still feel the worldbuilding of Enigma isn’t really fleshed out and this made me never fully adapt to this world. The many descriptions only slowed down the pace for me… Another thing that bothered me was the lack of a proper plot. Between the descriptions and character background detail that doesn’t have a clear connection to Enigma for a really long time, I didn’t feel the story was really going anywhere. There are some hints at a war and a threat, but it almost feels as if all important details are pushed into the background as Halfway focuses more on the history of some of the main characters. The Enigma chapters and character memoires were so dissociated that I had a hard time connecting everything (again, lack of plot), and this confusion influenced my reading experience considerably. All in all a story that definitely isn’t for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #15: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo & From Bad To Cursed


Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! No more backlog reviews, so from now on it’s only books I’ve actually read this year. The first is one of the (hopefully) various memoirs I will be reading this year: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. I had high hopes for this one besides the fact I’m not familiar with her at all, but I just couldn’t connect to her writing style and her humor definitely wasn’t for me. The other title on her is the Bad Girls Don’t Die sequel From Bad To Cursed by Katie Alender, which turned out to be a disappointment as well. A shame, because I loved the first book!


Title: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Humor
First published: August 16th 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Finished reading: January 23rd 2018
Pages: 323

“If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them—like the sun.”


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I have a weird fascination with reading memoirs even from persons I’m not really familiar with. So even though I don’t really know Amy Schumer or her work, I was still intrigued enough to want to pick up The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. The fact that this memoir has been praised a LOT did also help of course. I was fully expecting to be loving this read, but I ended up feeling the complete opposite. Oh yes, it’s time for another unpopular review… Did you really think I could go that long without one? I don’t think my opinion has all that much to do with the fact I don’t really know her… It’s more that her writing style, crudy humor and sexual talk simply aren’t a right fit for me. The humor felt kind of forced-funny, but then again my sense of humor has always been a bit ‘special’ and I don’t like what most people like. What was a surprise is that The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo was actually a lot darker and self-confessional than I thought it would be, especially since it’s labeled humor. Kuddos to her for having the guts to share all this personal stuff… Although if I got it right she kind of does the same thing in her shows. I guess her humor and writing style either works for you, or it doesn’t. Unfortunately I belong to the second group, and honestly I kind of struggled making it to the last page. Oh well, we can’t like them all, can we?


Title: From Bad To Cursed
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #2)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: June 14th 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Finished reading: January 20th 2018
Pages: 442

“Stay sunny, we said to each other.
Because if you don’t the whole world will know you’re a monster.”


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I read the first book back in 2016 for Halloween, and while I really enjoyed that one, I somehow ever picked up the sequels. No longer, because I’ve vowed to finish this trilogy before the end of February. Book number two starts off quite a few months after the first book finished its story… And in From Bad To Cursed the sisters will have another dose of the supernatural. Sadly I wasn’t able to enjoy this sequel as much as I thought I would. I still love the writing style, which is engaging, flowing and makes you fly through the story. But I wasn’t so sure about the plot. The idea behind From Bad To Cursed is an interesting one and definitely involves a healthy dose of creepy, BUT I wasn’t so happy with all those high school cliches included as well as a lot of ‘perfect pretty girl’ cliches. A bunch of teenage girls playing perfect and bitching to others if they don’t dress perfectly, eat the right food and say the right things? No thank you. The way both Alexis and Kasey behaved really started to bother me as well. I’m still hoping it was just this particular ‘problem’ they had to deal with that made them unlikeable and I’m having hopes for the final book. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to like that one better!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #14: Hide And Seek (ARC) & The New Hunger


Oh yes, it’s time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! And I’m happy to say that with today’s edition I will be finishing my last pending 2017 review; Hide And Seek by M.J. Arlidge is the (un)lucky book to win that title. No more backlog, woohoo!! It was an interesting enough thriller that can be read as a stand-alone as well. The New Hunger by Isaac Marion I finished earlier this month, a zombie novella that will hopefully make me get a copy of book number two some time this year (although I saw there is going to be a third book, so I might wait until there is more news about that one).


Title: Hide And Seek
(Helen Grace #6)
Author: M.J. Arlidge

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: September 8th 2016
Publisher: Berkley Books
Finished reading: October 14th 2017
Pages: 416

“In prison it is the hope that kills you, not despair.”

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


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I kind of messed up when I requested a copy of this one, because I totally didn’t realise Hide And Seek was actually book number six of a series. Oops? Thankfully (at least for me), Hide And Seek can also be read as a stand-alone without missing too much of the background information. What I liked in this thriller is the fact that the main character is actually a cop trapped inside a prison… Call that original! Helen Grace is framed for a murder she didn’t commit and now has to survive in a prison full of enemies; more than one inside thanks to her and they are not happy. This setting and plot makes for some very interesting reading and the writing only makes it easier to emerge yourself fully in the problems Helen Grace has to face while trying to survive. And it’s not just the daily life that is challenging, because on top of that there is a killer on the loose on the inside. Hide And Seek definitely ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a thrilling read.


Title: The New Hunger
(Warm Bodies #1.5)
Author: Isaac Marion

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Horror
First published: January 28th 2013
Publisher: Atria
Finished reading: January 17th 2018 
Pages: 170

“Nothing is permanent. Not even the end of the world.”


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I read the first book Warm Bodies ages ago (read: 2015) and wasn’t aware a sequel came out last year until recently… So I thought it was about time I picked up the novella while I wait until there is more news on book three so I can read both sequels together. The New Hunger is a prequel novella and I think I actually enjoyed it better than the first book. It might have been because of the lack of romance in this one, but The New Hunger turned out to be quite an interesting read despite the fact I’m not really into zombie stories. The writing and pace make it into a superfast read and I enjoyed reading about the background of the Warm Bodies characters and how it is to survive in this dystopian world in the first place. Get ready for a bunch of zombie attacks, dystopian scenes and characters in survival-mode when you pick up this one! Short, but sweet with a healthy dose of fresh brains.


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