YVO’S SHORTIES #49 – The Shattered Mountain & The Ballroom

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a novella and a historical fiction read. The Shattered Mountain was a short and interesting addition to the Fire And Thorns series. And I had great hopes for The Ballroom, especially since the setting is fascinating, but the story fell flat for me.


Title: The Shattered Mountain
(Fire And Thorns #0.6)
Author: Rae Carson

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: March 26th 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: September 15th 2018
Pages: 106

“Maybe a large, single dose of pain now is better than the slow, burning pain of withering hope.”


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I read the first Fire And Thorns novella earlier this month, and then decided to try and read the other two as well before continuing with the sequel. There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story. The writing is solid and makes it easy to fly through the pages… This novella is definitely worth your time if you enjoy the series.


Title: The Ballroom
Author: Anna Hope

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
First published: February 11th 2016
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Finished reading: September 17th 2018
Pages: 320

“Free. This small hard word that felt so cold. Could you live inside a word like that?”


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I first added The Ballroom to my TBR because of the cover as well as the promise of a fascinating historical setting and a mental health angle. It took me longer than planned to get to it, but the readathon was an excellent excuse to finally do so. There is no doubt that this historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the story sort of fell flat for me… Part of this feeling has to do with the fact that the pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story. The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more. The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Because as always with character-driven stories, being able to connect to the main characters is key. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much. Fans of slower paced and character-driven historical fiction reads with an interesting setting and a Shakespearean love story will have a great time reading The Ballroom.


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WWW Wednesdays #188 – September 19th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three more titles for the N.E.W.T. readathon… The first is Radiance Of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah, a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I read his memoir which made a huge impact on me. I’m finishing the last Fire And Thorns novella The King’s Guard by Rae Carson first though… And I’m also starting with Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Girl Made Of Clay by Nicole Meier (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 20/09
If you enjoy reading character-driven stories with flawed characters that are described in a realistic way, The Girl Made Of Clay is without doubt an interesting read. The pace is not the fastest, but the story captures quite well how the characters evolve over time. Did I think every aspect of the plot and behavior was credible? Not exactly. Did most of the characters annoy me and made me enjoy the story a lot less? Most definitely. But as one of the cliches goes: ‘it’s not you, it’s me…‘. And I really think that is what happened here.

2. City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
City Of Ghosts delivers right from the cover until the very last page. I knew I could trust my instincts when I picked up this title, but this first book of a new MG paranormal series has proven once again you cannot go wrong with anything Schwab writes. It was hook, line and sinker when I started reading City Of Ghosts and I had to put all other tasks on hold until I finished reading it. The writing, the characters and their development, the Scottish setting, the ghosts, the plot… There is a lot to love in this story, and Cassidy and Jacob have already found a place in my heart.

3. Half Bad by Sally Green (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 21/09
I initially started reading Half Bad in Dutch, wanting to savour seeing that cover waiting for me near my reading chair. I have to say, I struggled a lot. First I thought it was the language, but I decided to switch to my English kindle version halfway through and I can confirm it wasn’t. There is just something about the writing style in Half Bad that really got on my nerves. There are a lot of short and halted sentences I just couldn’t grow used to, although I admit the writing style as a whole sadly just didn’t work for me. I struggled to keep reading as some parts of the story dragged, and I have to say that for a story this promising the plot kind of lacked action and more filling out in general.

4. The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
There is no doubt that this second novella is a lot stronger than the first one. I think this has a lot to do with the main character of this short story, which is quite easy to like and root for. Mara is a very interesting and strong character and she does some amazing things along with the other characters. The romance in The Shattered Mountain didn’t bother me one bit even though some cliches were involved. I think this mostly has to do with the fact there is a lot of focus on the dire situation the group is in instead as well as the worldbuilding of this high fantasy story.

5. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (2/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
I really do think this story has a lot of potential, but instead of focusing on the more interesting aspects of the plot, All These Things I’ve Done is mostly just another teenage romantic drama with a few twists. Instead of focusing on the dystopian setting, when chocolate! and coffee! are illegal and resources seem to be limited, or the whole mafia background of Anya’s family, we mostly see the typical high school scenes with star-crossed lovers, food fights and other cliche elements. Definitely not what I thought I had signed up for. To make things worse, the main character Anya is absolutely despicable.

6. The Ballroom by Anna Hope (3/5 stars) REVIEW 24/09
This historical fiction read set in a 1911 asylum has a very interesting premise and a lot of potential, but the story sort of fell flat for me. The pace was considerably slow and it took me a lot longer than expected to read this story… The focus was on the characters and their development, but sadly there was nothing much for me to keep me focused to them or create a proper connection; instead I was mostly left both just wanting to get it over it and wanting the story to deliver something more.The fact that Charles is a very unlikeable character doesn’t really help either. Surprisingly though, the romance in this story didn’t bother me that much.

7. Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/09
I am so excited to have finally read this title by a fellow book blogger! I admit it took me some time to get used to the multiple POVs and I was confused at times how everything fit together, but there is no doubt this is a complex and very cleverly executed psychological thriller debut. I did guess some of the twists, some of the names are misleading and I was left with some questions after the final page… But overall it was still a very satisfying read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up two pending ARCs next: All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo and The Wife’s Secret by Kerry Wilkinson. I’m also dying for a change of genre, so I’m hoping Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard will be the fun read I’m looking for. I also want to read In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware soon.


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WWW Wednesdays #187 – September 12th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three more titles for the N.E.W.T. readathon… The first is a pending ARC due soon: The Girl Made Of Clay by Nicole Meier. It’s still early days, but it seems to be a fast read. I also started another physical copy and a Dutch translation of Half Bad by Sally Green. I’ve been meaning to read this series for years, so the N.E.W.T.s were a good excuse to finally do so. I have a feeling I would enjoy the story better reading it in English on my kindle, but I also know I really need the practise. 😉 I also started All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin before I realized I needed to read the ARC first.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Chaos Of Stars by Kiersten White (2/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
It doesn’t happen often that I have such an instant dislike of a character, but Isadora pretty much does the trick. What a whiny, annoying, self-centered, arrogant and disrespectful brat! Basically, she managed to enrage me on every single page, and I had to work hard on my breathing techniques to prevent myself from throwing my kindle against the wall. And no, sadly I’m not exaggerating here. Add a case of insta-love and a couple of other YA cliches and you have the gist of what happens in The Chaos Of Stars… I’m adding an extra star just for the occasional appearance of the Egyptian mythology elements the story promised.

2. Toxic by Lydia Kang (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
Even though science fiction isn’t really my genre, it was actually those elements that stood out for me. Especially Cyclo was fascinating, since the ship was almost like another character with its own development, ’emotions’ and flaws. I could have done without the more cliche romance scenes, and I wasn’t a fan of Hana, but overall I really enjoyed my time with Toxic.

3. Gone To Ground by Rachel Amphlett (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 16/09
If you are looking for a detective thriller series that keeps delivering, a plot that will keep you guessing until the very end or simply a very engaging and absorbing read, you will find all those things are covered in every single Detective Kay Hunter book. Gone To Ground is no exception and has exactly the same high quality I have become used to. I liked spending more time with my favorite team and while the case they investigate took some time to start rolling, the ending left me completely shocked. I definitely didn’t see that coming! Yet another detective thriller winner and without doubt worth the read.

4. Bang by Barry Lyga (3/5 stars) REVIEW 17/09
I have been meaning to pick up another of Barry Lyga‘s books for ages. The Jasper Dent series is one of my absolute favorites and I had high hopes for Bang, but sadly it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The topic itself is really important, but I felt it was pushed mostly into the background as there was more focus on the whole pizza baking and contemporary romance in general. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, since I’m a huge foodie myself, but the story fell rather flat for me.

5. Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (3/5 stars) REVIEW 20/09
This was one of my most anticipated releases, as I loved the first two books and was dying to find out how things would end. It might have been that it has been too long since I read the first two books and didn’t remember all the details, but the fact is that I can’t say I actually enjoyed Hero At The Fall. Amani really annoyed me, with her whole ‘I’m not worthy’ and negative attitude in general. I admire the author for not being afraid to kill of characters George R.R. Martin style, but I do feel some of the deaths were unnecessary and didn’t add anything to the plot. The plot and pace itself were rather slow, and overall I had a hard time keeping myself invested into the story. Such a shame the series had to end this way for me!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up The Ballroom by Anna Hope next as I’m trying to pass all Hogwarts subjects with at least an Acceptable grade… Afterwards I’ll probably read The Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson first since it’s a novella. Then comes Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner, which I have been really excited about. I also plan to read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman soon.


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