AUDIO ARC REVIEW: Bad Parts – by Brandon McNulty #netgalleyaudio

Title: Bad Parts
(Dark Parts #1)

Author: Brandon McNulty
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Fantasy
First published: June 23rd 2020
Publisher: Midnight Point Press
Finished reading: August 4th 2020
Pages: 434

Duration audiobook 10 hours 10 minutes
Narrated by Ellie Gossage

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

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I basically decided to try this audiobook on a whim as I was browsing the ‘Listen Now’ catalog on Netgalley for something to listen to while painting. I know that I don’t often read supernatural thrillers, but I can really enjoy the genre if I know what I signed up for from the beginning (I only dislike the supernatural element when it comes as a surprise)… The blurb of Bad Parts also sounded particularly enticing with the music element and the creek demon. I was hoping for something entertaining to distract me from the daunting painting task, and I can now say that this audiobook definitely delivered just that.

As you might already know, I’m still pretty new with the whole audiobook experience… But I’m quickly becoming a fan. This audiobook is narrated by Ellie Gossage, and I think she did an excellent job giving both main character Ash Hudson and the other characters in play a voice. The fact that she changed her voice slightly whenever other characters are speaking made it a lot easier to keep them apart. The pace and flow of the story seemed solid, and I had no struggles keeping track of the story and plot developments. All in all the audio version makes for an enjoyable way to experience Bad Parts.

As for the story itself… There is no doubt that the premise of Bad Parts is fascinating, and if you like supernatural thrillers you will be in for a treat with the creek demon Snare. I liked how this element was developed into the story, with the ‘bad part’ trading and developments in the plot. The title doesn’t just reference to the trading though, as main character Ash Hudson is in a band with the same name. Music definitely plays a role in this story, and I liked the music references and overall vibe.

I do have to say that I found this story to be a tad too dragged out. I felt that the story could have been told in less pages and as a result the pace did slow down. I had that feeling about halfway down the audiobook that the story was about to finish, and I found myself to be quite surprised there was so much more story left… Overall it was still entertaining, but I think I would have liked less ‘clutter’ and more focus on the plot developments and supernatural vibe. I also wasn’t able to connect all that well to the cast of characters; they are not exactly likeable and I found some of their actions and decisions to be rather unbelievable. I’m not sure what to make of that ending either…

In short, if you are looking for an entertaining supernatural thriller and don’t mind unlikeable characters, a tad overlong plot and certain aspects not being credible, Bad Parts could be a great match.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #162 – Pet Sematary & Reconstructing Amelia

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two backlist titles I’ve been meaning to read; one a dark thriller and one a YA mystery TBR jar pick. Pet Sematary by Stephen King turned out to be a great read, but I somehow ended up having mixed feelings about Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight instead…


Title: Pet Sematary
Author: Stephen King

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: November 14th 1983
Publisher: Scribner
Finished reading: May 2nd 2020
Pages: 561

“It’s like many other things in life, Ellie. You keep on the path and all’s well. You get off it and the next thing you know you’re lost if you’re not lucky.”


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I’m planning on slowly making my way through Stephen King‘s backlist and as I’ve been wanting to watch the new movie adaption I decided to pick up Pet Sematary first… And I ended up having an excellent time reading this story. While I expected the story to be more creepy and full-scale horror than it turned out to be, as a paranormal thriller with psychological horror elements Pet Sematary still aimed to please. The story has got that ominous feel from the start, and while nothing all that much is happening in the beginning, you know things will escalate sooner or later. That ominous feel of danger and the supernatural grows stronger and stronger, and especially once Jud introduces Louis to Ludlow’s secret in the woods… The horror is mostly psychological and slow-building, but well constructed and I liked how the development of this element correlated with the development of the main characters (especially Louis and Jud). There is a lot of focus on the character development in general, and it was fascinating to learn more about the past of Jud as well as the town itself. Likewise, Louis is a fascinating character to follow; especially how he changes and reacts to the different events. If you are looking for a character-driven thriller with paranormal and psychological horror elements, Pet Sematary is a great choice.


Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
First published: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: May 5th 2020
Pages: 405

“All they want to do is to put a label on you. Call you this or that. Then that’s all you are, forever.”


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So… I’m not sure if the unpopular opinion curse has struck again, but the fact is that somehow Reconstructing Amelia and me didn’t get along as well as I thought we would. My reading mood has been all over the place lately, so this might just not have been the best time for me to read this story… But the fact is that I ended up having mixed thoughts about Reconstructing Amelia. It took me a long time to get into the story, especially with all the POV changes and timehops… Keeping track of what happened to whom and when felt mostly like a chore as I wasn’t really connecting to the story in the first place. The idea behind this debut is interesting, but even though I can’t put my finger exactly on the why, I wasn’t all that blown away by the execution. It might have been the ending, which was an anti-climax and too convenient to be honest and I expected more. It might have been the high school cliches and all the bitching and bullying element. It might have been the fact that I don’t think the whole investigation is all that credible, especially with Kate being present as the detective investigates and questions people. It might also have been the fact that I never really connected to any of the characters. But the fact is that Reconstructing Amelia didn’t impress me as I thought I would… I seem to be in the minority though?


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: I Am Dust – by Louise Beech #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the I Am Dust Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I consider Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors and her stories never fail to blow me away completely. I Am Dust is no exception and without doubt one of my favorite books I’ve had the chance to read so far this year. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!

Title: I Am Dust
Author: Louise Beech
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: February 16th 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: March 20th 2020
Pages: 300

“We never forget. We choose not to remember.”

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

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Speechless. Absolutely flabbergasted. Mindblown. Oh yes, Louise Beech has done it once again, and left me a complete blubbering mess. Even though I’m a bit late to the whole party, I’ve considered Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors ever since my first experience with her work last year (Call Me Star Girl). Each backlist title I’ve had the chance to read since has blown me away, so it’s easy to say that my expectations for I Am Dust were skyhigh. But guess what? Louise Beech not only met those expectations, but stamped all over them and went to the next level! It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite among her books, as I simply treasure them all, but there is no doubt that I Am Dust is another absolutely stunning read and of an extraordinary quality. And yes, expect me to sound like a squeeling fangirl during the rest of this review, because my brain simply cannot deal with just how good this story was even a week after I finished it. That’s the Beech effect!

So, I Am Dust. I confess I knew I was going to love this story as soon as I read the blurb. I mean, the idea of a murder mystery turned ghost story turned dark psychological thriller with a theatre angle? How can that not be the perfect base for another absolutely fantastic story?! I fell in love with the story and characters even before I started reading, and that is something that doesn’t happen often. From that gorgeous cover, the blurb and the actual story afterwards… There isn’t a thing I didn’t love of my time spent with I Am Dust! I read this story as a birthday gift to myself last month to help distract myself from these dark and strange times, and I just couldn’t have picked a better read to do just that as well as making myself feel better in the process.

There are so many things I loved about I Am Dust and I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start to be honest… Let’s talk about the setting and Dust first. I personally loved the setting in a small town and the focus on the musical world as well as the Dead Wilson Theatre setting. The descriptions really made the setting come alive for me, and gave us readers a little insight in what the musical world looks like from an insider view. Directly related to this is the musical Dust of course, which plays an all important role in the plot. I love how both the musical itself and some of the songs are incorporated into the plot and its words are given a hidden meaning as well as give clues to what might happen. Dust gave this dark psychological thriller an unique twist and was also the perfect backdrop for the paranormal elements in I Am Dust.

I confess that I’m normally not a big fan of the paranormal, but I loved how this element was developed in I Am Dust. The murdered Dust actress haunting the theatre and set, the chapters set in the past with the ouija board, the things happening to the main characters… The different paranormal elements are perfectly developed and really added that ominous and daunting atmosphere to the story. I also liked the structure of the plot as a whole, and how past and present are interlaced to slowly reveal more about the past as well as give you a glimpse of what might happen in the future. Plot twists and timeline switches work together flawlessly and really enhanced the reading experience for me.

As for the characters… The main focus is on Chloe, who is an absolutely fascinating character. Flawed, troubled and somehow more open to the spiritual world, she is the perfect character to shoulder this story and take it to the next level. Jess (or Ginger) is likewise important to the plot, and especially the dynamics between Chloe and Jess and her connection to the musical world. It was interesting to see the two interact and slowly learn more about their shared past as well… The realistic and thorough character development really made them come alive for me and my heart ached for them as things were starting to become complicated. The secondary characters are likewise well rounded and each added their own little touch to the story too.

Both the plot development and writing were absolutely fantastic, and I definitely loved the direction this story took. The ending left me brokenhearted and simply speechless, unable to render a word or properly describe my love for I Am Dust. I still felt like a mess days later, and I still feel these rambles I tried putting on paper don’t do this story justice at all. In a way, I should have just kept it short and said: “do yourself a favor and just read the damn book. I Am Dust will sweep you off your feet and will haunt you even days after you reach that final page. You will be missing out if you don’t add I Am Dust to your wishlist!” I already know this story will be on my list of favorite 2020 reads even this early in the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To
Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The
Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her
previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely
reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The
Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic
Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the
Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her
husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House
Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #156 – Where She Went & Living Dead In Dallas

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a romance binge, one contemporary and one a fantasy read. It turned out to be a hit and miss round: I really enjoyed my time with Where She Went, while I was completely put off by the series after reading Sookie Stackhouse sequel Living Dead In Dallas.


Title: Where She Went
(If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 5th 2011
Publisher: Speak
Finished reading: April 2nd 2020
Pages: 297

“I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.”

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After taking years to finally pick up my copy of If I Stay, I decided to read the second book as soon as possible so I won’t forget about the details in the first. And as I was craving a contemporary, Where She Went seemed like the perfect fit for me… I’ve heard people saying that they enjoyed the sequel better than the first book, and I’m definitely joining that group now. While I liked the first book and was especially intrigued by the whole POV from an unconscious character, there was just something about Where She Went that made me enjoy Adam and Mia’s story even more. This time around we see things from Adam’s eyes, and the story takes place three years after the first book ends. Once again I loved just how big of a role music plays in the story. Not only are both main characters successful musicians, but we also get little quotes of Adam’s songs he wrote for Shooting Star’s first big album… Quotes that help show us the effects of what happened in the first book on his life, but also were a nice little touch to give the story that little something extra. I really liked the direction the story decided to take, and the ending was just right for me. If you enjoy a good contemporary romance with sad and happy moments alike, this duology is a great choice. You can technically read Where She Went as a stand-alone as well, although you will be missing out on character background and you might not fully understand their dynamics…


Title: Living Dead In Dallas
(Sookie Stackhouse #2)

Author: Charlaine Harris
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 26th 2002
Publisher: Ace
Finished reading: April 4th 2020
Pages: 289


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Wait, a vampire book on It’s All About Books?!?! Don’t worry, I’m still very much allergic to vampires, and I won’t be reading another one any time soon… I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s just that somehow I actually really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen of True Blood years ago and I remembered enjoying the first book back when I read it, so I had high hopes for the sequel as well. I guess I should have known… Sadly, the TV series is in this case so much better than the book! Apart from the almost continuous sex scenes (yuk!), I really couldn’t stand Sookie or Bill. Sookie comes over as arrogant, self absorbed, sex addicted and just oh so full of herself… The constant references to her big boobs and curvy body being irresistible made me gag and the fact she was constantly thinking about sex did the same. What happened to the more innocent and tolerable Sookie in book one? TV Sookie definitely didn’t come over this way… And Bill: I like him in the TV series, but he is one arrogant and inconsiderate bastard in the book. The plot itself wasn’t too much to talk about either… I think I’m just going to leave this series be in the future.


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ARC REVIEW: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be – by J.D. Barker

Title: She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be
Author: J.D. Barker
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: March 31st 2020
Publisher: Hampton Creek Press
Finished reading: March 21st 2020
Pages: 774

“I can’t imagine living in anything but a fairy tale. The real world can be an abhorrent place.”

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

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I’ve been a huge fan of J.D. Barker’s writing ever since I first started reading the 4MK Thriller books… I’ve been looking forward to read more of his work ever since I finished the trilogy, and as soon as I first read about She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be I was completely under its spell. The title, the cover, the blurb, the promise of another masterfully written story… I don’t tend to read a lot of books over 600 pages as they can be a painful investment of time if you don’t end up connecting to the story, but I made an exception for J.D. Barker as I already knew his writing would most likely be right up my alley. And boy, did I make the right decision!

Some stories just need more pages, and manage to keep you fully invested along the way. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is one of those stories. Somehow, even though this newest J.D. Barker book has almost 800 pages, I never felt bored and I never felt like the story dragged or could have been told in less words. No, Jack and Stella’s story needed to be this elaborate, as their history spans decades and it is necessary to go slow and thorough to go deep and fully understand their characters. I’m aware that She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be might not be for everyone, but don’t let the daunting page count dissuade you if you love an intricate and well developed thriller with a supernatural/horror twist! Trust me, you won’t regret spending time with this story.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot to avoid ruining surprises and plot twists, so I will keep my rambles short this time around. What I can say is that I loved the structure of this story. It’s not easy to take on this big of a project and tell a story that not only spans decades, but also has a big cast of primary and secondary characters… Especially without the result being a very hard book to keep up with, let alone enjoy. But J.D. Barker seems to have found the right formula. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is divided into multiple parts, focusing on the life of main character Jack Thatch as we see him growing up over the years. His POV is used to introduce the many characters important to the plot, and he helps put them into perspective. Of course he is not the only POV, as we also have the mysterious subject ‘D’ to deal with for example… I personally liked the little observation chapters featuring this character, as the mystery around both his identity, his supernatural abilities and his role in the plot added that extra level of suspense.

As you might have expected from a book this big, the character development is both extremely detailed and very well handled. The characters are both flawed and realistic, and I personally loved the dynamics between Jack and Stella as well as the other more important characters in this book. Whether you like the characters or not, you will find yourself to be invested in what happens to them either way… And the mystery around the supernatural and the secrets of the past only enhance these feelings. She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is not a full-blown urban fantasy read, but instead mostly a mix of an action and detective thriller, a dark contemporary and a story with a horror and supernatural feel. It’s a hard book to put inside a box, and I personally love a story that manages to defy genre boundaries and provide us with a new and unique story cocktail. This story has so many different elements to treasure and enjoy, and it felt like a true treasure hunt to keep turning those pages and keep reading those chapters. You never knew what direction the story would take next, and I personally love a story that keeps me on my toes.

She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be is as unique as its long title, and the right person will treasure this story as much as I did. I had a fantastic time reading every single chapter, and I never felt like the story was overlong or should have gone in a different direction. Big is in this case most definitely better! And this book has only reconfirmed to me J.D. Barker belongs on my list of favorite authors.


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ARC REVIEW: The Electric Heir – by Victoria Lee

Title: The Electric Heir
(Feverwake #2)

Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: March 17th 2020
Publisher: Skyscape
Finished reading: January 10th 2020
Pages: 479

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t make it true.”

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

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After enjoying the first book of this duology last year, I was excited to meet up with the main characters again in The Electric Heir. But before we continue with my rambles, can we just take a second to admire this absolutely gorgeous cover? Both Feverwake covers are simply stunning and most definitely fit this story as well, as it can be seen as a direct reference to the magical powers so fundamental to this story. Cover love aside, there are quite a few other elements that made this duology work for me.

The first thing that stands out in the Feverwake books is the dystopian setting and worldbuilding in general. While not entirely original, the dystopian world where a magical virus ravages the world, killing most and leaving the survivors with supernatural powers, is without doubt intriguing. While roughly based on actual US states and cities by name, the story has an obvious dystopian feel both because the country and government as we know it is long gone and the story is actually set in the future (2123 to be exact). The worldbuilding itself isn’t all that extensive, but solid enough to give the story the right backdrop.

One of the things I liked most about both books was the magic and the fact that there was a wide range of different supernatural powers as well as level of strength after surviving the virus. It was interesting to see the different characters develop their power over time as well as seeing the power change them… And as the blurb already states, the sudden absence of that power too. Magic is without doubt essential to the plot and definitely spiced up this story! As for the plot itself… It was interesting to see the new direction this story took. Lehrer is clearly the supervillian of this story and the main goal is to defeat him before things really spin out of control. I do admit that some parts of the plot were quite cliche and the pace can be considerably slow in points. Especially the second made the story drag in certain parts, but overall curiosity won out as I wanted to know how it would all end.

There are a lot of trigger warnings involved when it comes to The Electric Heir, including genocide, abuse, rape, mental health, suicide and addiction (full list available on the author’s website). There are a lot of deeper meanings to be uncovered while reading this duology and some parts even give off a political vibe, but I personally thought this only gave the story a little something extra. There are quite a lot of heavy elements included in The Electric Heir and if you are looking for a balanced and happy story this would definitely be the wrong place to look for it. But life isn’t all about happy endings and it made this story feel a lot more realistic because of it. I personally found the ending itself of The Electric Heir a bit abrupt, but I guess it does give you closure and all in all it’s a well rounded duology that wrapped things up nicely. If you are looking for an entertaining YA dystopia that isn’t afraid to go dark, love a good LGBT romance and don’t mind a dose of teen angst and a slower pace, this Feverwake duology is definitely for you.


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BOOK REVIEW: Changeling – by Matt Wesolowski @Orendabooks

Title: Changeling
(Six Stories #3)

Author: Matt Wesolowski
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: November 15th 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: November 8th 2019
Pages: 194

“It’s like an urban myth, a legend that has refused to die; this case has resurfaced again and again in my life. This case has an inexorable pull. Whether I like it or not.”


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I know I’m late when it comes to the Six Stories party, having only discovered the series this year, but I’ve become a fast and irrevocable fan. While my first experience with this series was already brilliant, the second book blew me away completely and I wasn’t sure how any sequel would manage to live up to it. I shouldn’t have doubted the writing powers of Matt Wesolowski though, because he has truly outdone himself with Changeling. It’s been weeks since I finished reading this absolutely brilliant read, and I’m still struggling to get a word on paper… My ability to review completely destroyed by this story. Oh yes, such is the power of Changeling!

I think that part of the reason that makes this series in general so unique is its format. Told in a podcast form with six different episodes and a number of guests interviewed by an impartial podcast host, each book enables us to dive into the different cold cases from the very beginning. In the case of Changeling, we are trying to find out more about the 1988 disappearance of a child as they were driving through the Wentshire Forest. The seven-year-old Alfie Marsden disappeared without a trace when his father stopped after hearing a strange sound coming from inside his car… And no trace of the boy nor his body is ever found. What happened to Alfie that night? To this date nobody seems to know for sure, but after receiving a letter our already famous Scott King decides to give in and try to discover the truth.

As with the previous two books, the suspense is build up slowly but surely. Changeling  once again toes the line with the horror genre after the introduction of the supernatural angle and hints of the myths around the Wentshire Forest. This story isn’t just another thriller and investigation into a cold case; the strange things happening in this forest definitely give this story an eerie and ominous feel. As the episodes continue, we slowly get to know more about both the case, Alfie and those close to him. Nothing is as it seems and this story definitely has some surprises for you in store… But nothing is as big as that final reveal. I almost dropped my copy of the Changeling on the floor along with my jaw when I reached that part of the story… Those who have had the chance to read book three already will know what I’m talking about. Oh yes, Changeling most definitely ended with a bang and left me both speechless and wanting to analyze everything I just read all over again to see if I should have seen the signs… And it is without doubt a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Along with the format, plot and writing, the characters themselves also play a key role in the success of Changeling. Scott King we of course already know, and it was interesting to see him interact with and react to yet another intriguing case. The other characters that play a role in this story are all realistically and meticulously developed, making both them and Alfie’s case truly come alive for me. I had a fantastic time slowly discovering the truth about Alfie and those around him, and while not every character is all that likeable and has its flaws, I found it didn’t matter at all as it only made Changeling feel more realistic. If you are looking for a well written and spine-chilling thriller with an unique podcast format and an explosive ending, Changeling (and the rest of this series for that matter) should go straight to the top of your wishlist!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #125 – Muse Of Nightmares & Hope And Other Punchlines

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition: two most anticipated books that both lived up to expectations for me. Muse Of Nightmares  by Laini Taylor is the duology conclusion and I once again fell in love with the wonderful wonderful prose. I have loved Julie Buxbaum‘s books in the past, and while Hope And Other Punchlines isn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still an excellent read and the 9/11 element is well handled.


Title: Muse Of Nightmares
(Strange The Dreamer #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: September 15th 2019
Pages: 528

“Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”

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I admit I’ve been afraid to pick up my copy of Muse Of Nightmares… After being blown away by the first book of this duology, I was afraid it was going to be almost impossible for the sequel to live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Laini Taylor‘s absolutely gorgeous prose! Like with Strange The Dreamer, I was absolutely mesmerized by the words she uses to describe both the high fantasy world, its characters and the plot itself. Things can be said about the fact that not all that much seems to be happening considering its 500+ pages, although I did feel there was more going on in the sequel. But personally I didn’t really care as long as I was going to be able to keep lapping up those gorgeous sentences. Muse Of Nightmares proves that the writing and characters truly can make up for a plot that is slightly bland in places and this story blew me away. I mentioned the characters, and they are definitely one of the reasons this duology is on my list of all time favorites. Lazlo, Sarai and the others won over my hard so fast and my heart really went out for them. I love that a lot of the characters are not either good or bad, walking that grey area instead of simply being described as monsters. The worldbuilding of this high fantasy world is again beautifully done and set the right tone for this sequel. I would definitely suggest reading these in order, as Muse Of Nightmares picks up right where the first book ended and you won’t be able to appreciate the sequel without the character and plot development in Strange The Dreamer. Then again, if you don’t mind a slower and more character driven YA fantasy, you will want to spend time devouring the stunning prose in both books anyway.


Title: Hope And Other Punchlines
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 7th 2019 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: September 26th 2019
Pages: 311

“I’m so, so tired of always worrying about our world splitting into a before and an after again.”

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Julie Buxbaum is one of the select group of authors who can make me enjoy the contemporary romance genre. After loving her first two YA books, it’s easy to say that my expectations were sky high for Hope And Other Punchlines. It might have been the wrong time to pick up this title, or it might have been that my expectations were a tad unrealistic, because while there is no doubt that this story is an excellent read, it didn’t blow me away as I thought it would. There is a lot to love in Hope And Other Punchlines though. First up is the 9/11 element, an event that has made a huge impact on countless of lives and I could really appreciate how Julie Buxbaum incorporated this into the plot. While both the town and the Baby Hope photo are fictional, I do feel they represent the aftermath of 9/11 realistically and show us just how devastating the impact of this single event is even all those years later. Then we have the main characters Abbi, Noah and Jack. While I had certain issues with some actions in the beginning (blackmailing!!!), it is still quite easy for these three characters to win over your heart. The dynamics between geeky Noah, Jack and Abbi will grow into something absolutely adorable and they are definitely part of the reason this book works. Abbi (Baby Hope) is a very interesting character and she makes you think about the impact one little photo can have on both the life of those portrayed and on many others as it becomes a symbol of hope. I personally adored the camp scenes and I thought the story was well balanced in general. Lighter moments are contrasted with not only 9/11 details, but also other heavy themes as Alzheimer and cancer. I finished this story in no time at all and while I do admit it’s not my favorite Julie Buxbaum, I can definitely recommend it to any fan of the contemporary romance genre looking for a story that is both adorable and heartbreaking.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #123 – The Madness Underneath & The Hiding Place

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two reads that both turned out to be entertaining, but still not as good as I hoped they would be. The sequel The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson and The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor


Title: The Madness Underneath
(Shades Of London #2)
Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Finished reading: August 28th 2019
Pages: 304

“They knew I would do a better job of berating myself for being an idiot than they ever could and that waiting for the punishment was much worse than the actual punishment.

 

The tick tick tick is much worse than the boom.”


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Fun fact: the first book of this series was a TBR jar pick as well, and while I really enjoyed it, it still took me three years and another nudge from my TBR jar to finally pick up the sequel. This ment I didn’t remember all the details about the events in the first book, but it was quite easy to get the gist after the first couple of chapters. I really like the idea behind the Shades Of London series. It’s YA paranormal fantasy and horror with a twist, the snarky humor giving you a break from the darker scenes. I do believe this sequel is not as strong as the first book though… This feeling has to do both with the plot itself, the characters and the romance involved. The plot, while interesting enough, did miss that spark of the first book. It might have been the simple fact that it’s hard to live up to the previous Jack The Ripper inspired plot, but I found certain parts of the plot quite slow and sometimes not all that credible. I also had issues with certain actions and the behavior of certain characters… Part of this feeling has to do with the fact that we have to deal with a considerable amount of romance and teen angst in this sequel; something I didn’t expect at all and definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. I still liked the writing though and the humor used was mostly spot on for me. The paranormal elements were likewise interesting and I liked the development of Rory’s special skills. And that mayor cliffhanger ending definitely makes me want to pick up the third book soon despite my reservations.


Title: The Hiding Place
Author: C.J. Tudor

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: February 5th 2019
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: August 30th 2019
Pages: 288

“People say time is a great healer. They’re wrong. Time is simply a great eraser. It rolls on and on regardless, eroding our memories, chipping away at those great big boulders of misery until there’s nothing left but sharp little fragments, still painful but small enough to bear.”


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I really enjoyed The Chalk Man last year, and I’ve been looking forward to try C.J. Tudor‘s second book The Hiding Place ever since. It might have been that I set my expectations too high, but I ended up having mixed thoughts about this book. The first thing that stands out is that I underestimated just how dark this story was going to be… I personally didn’t mind, but I do believe The Hiding Place would be classified more accurately with a (paranormal) horror label rather than just a ‘regular’ thriller. Especially the paranormal aspect took me by surprise, as I have to be in the mood for those kind of stories and don’t always react to them positively. It really shows the author uses the work of Stephen King as her inspiration though; The Hiding Place definitely has that King feel with the horror elements, the bugs and the paranormal. Completely original or not, there is one thing for sure: C.J. Tudor sure knows how to write. I found myself flying through the pages, both shocked and entertained by what was happening. I liked the humor used, and while the characters are not exactly likeable, it somehow works for this story. And while I can’t deny I preferred The Chalk ManThe Hiding Place is without doubt still a very entertaining albeit darker than expected read.


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ARC REVIEW: Song Of Sacrifice – by Janell Rhiannon

Title: Song Of Sacrifice
(Homeric Chronicles #1)
Author: Janell Rhiannon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Fantasy
First published: December 26th 2018
Finished reading: April 9th 2019
Pages: 426

“The more time passes, the more keenly we feel our losses carved into our very soul, even as the memories fade around the edges.”

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

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I always love discovering (Greek) mythology inspired stories and as soon as I read the blurb of Song Of Sacrifice I knew I had no other choice but to read it. This first installment of the Homeric Chronicles is set in the years leading up to the famous Troyan War (1295-1251 BCE) and includes a wide variety of myths, stories and different characters. If you enjoy reading about the Troyan war and happened to cause it, I can without doubt recommend Song Of Sacrifice! It truly shows that the author has investigated the topic thoroughly and then succeeded to combine an impressive amount of different stories and characters in such a way that it flowed in a coherent and chronological way. Some minor changes have been made, but I love how true to the original versions Song Of Sacrifice stays. Any Greek mythology fan will be able to appreciate that! The writing is more than solid and is very easy to read. And while there are many different characters and settings, it never distracted or confused me as I was reading the story (although I guess it does help having a general idea of who the main characters involved are). In fact, I loved the fact that the story doesn’t focus on just one character, but instead offers us multiple views and stories to treasure. This gives Song Of Sacrifice a multidimensional and rich feel and definitely added to my positive experience with this story. Gods and humans alike play a role in this story, and I think descriptions and historical setting are spot on. A fair warning for adult content and trigger warning worthy topics as abuse, rape and violence, but it kind of goes with Greek mythology stories as they can get pretty brutal. Song Of Sacrifice is part of a series, and book one doesn’t actually get to the point of the Troyan war yet, but reading about the (lesser known) years leading up to the war is just as fascinating. Fans of historical fiction and Greek mythology retellings will love spending time with this story.


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