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: Flowers For Algernon – by Daniel Keyes

Title: Flowers For Algernon
Author: Daniel Keyes

Genre: Classics, YA, Science Fiction
First published: 1966
Publisher: Mariner Books
Finished reading: September 21st 2017
Pages: 311

“How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibilty, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man with low intelligence.”

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I’ve had this modern classic on my TBR for a long time, although I admit I was completely clueless about the plot and didn’t even have a general idea of what the story was going to be about. Then again, I do like my surprises… And Flowers For Algernon turned out to be a very pleasant surprise at that. Because WOW. This is one powerful story that managed to break my heart completely by the time I reached the last page… I can definitely understand why this novel by Daniel Keyes has become a modern classic. Brilliant prose, intriguing plot, well developed characters… This story has it all. Flowers For Algernon is a science fiction read with a very interesting theme: intelligence enhancement with the help of a brain operation. This theme is very well developed with the help of the main character Charlie, showing both the before and after of this experimental operation. First of all I just loved how the writing itself was a very clear demonstration of Charlie’s mental state and how things change over time. I agree I was a bit surprised when I first encountered myself with the seemingly horrid spelling, but once you understand its significance and the fact that this story is told with the help of Charlie’s progress reports during the experiment, you will realize the brilliancy of it all. Charlie is the perfect character to help show the light on the prejudices around (the lack of) intelligence and how people treat others differently accordingly. You will become really invested in this story and will find your heart broken before the story ends. Flowers For Algernon will go straight to my list of favorite classics and I can highly recommend this one.

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Charlie is a mentally disabled man, but he has always wanted to improve his intelligence and be ‘normal’ as his mother always wanted. He participates in an experiment and undergoes a brain operation that will possibly increase his IQ and change his life. The experimental procedure starts to work and slowly Charlie’s intelligence starts to expand… But at what cost?

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up my copy of Flowers For Algernon, but I’m more than happy with what I found. The writing is simply brilliant, as both the progress reports and the prose itself give the perfect insight of what happens to Charlie during the experiment. The way others react to Charlie during different stages of the experiment is both intriguing and unfortunately very accurate as well. Hopefully an eye opener! Flowers For Algernon is able to provoke strong emotions and is utterly heartbreaking in the end.


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ARC REVIEW: Things I’m Seeing Without You – by Peter Bognanni

Title: Things I’m Seeing Without You
Author: Peter Bognanni

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
First published: October 3rd 2017
Publisher: Dial Books
Finished reading: September 20th 2017
Pages: 336

“What I mean is that nothing ever happens the way itt’s supposed to. Everything is messed up. Everything is flawed. And if we didn’t have imperfection, I’m not sure what we would have left.”

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

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I confess: this was 100% a cover-love decision since I just couldn’t say no to such a stunning cover. Things I’m Seeing Without You is a YA contemporary read that mixes romance with more serious themes as death and grief and even has a dose of humor as well. There is no doubt that the writing style is very engaging and I was able to connect instantly to the story. I liked Tess’ sassy tone and took an instant liking to the writing, making Things I’m Seeing Without You a very enjoyable read. I do have to say that the main character’s sarcasm and humor are probably not for everyone, explaining the mixed reviews out there… But if you are able to connect, you are in for a treat. The whole funeral business definitely gives this story a unique touch and adds a little something to the plot as well. I’m not sure if everything is all that credible and I had a few eyebrow-raising moments here and there, especially concerning the credibility of the final part of Things I’m Seeing Without You. Somehow I just don’t think they would ever been able to do what they did or even get there in the first place… And it’s one of the reasons I had to lower the rating. I’m still on the fence when it comes to the main characters; I liked Tess even though she is a handful, but I never really did warm up to Daniel completely. But like I said before, the whole special funeral business added a little spark to the story and definitely managed to introduce some ‘light’ moments in what is otherwise mainly a sad story about death, loss and how to deal with it all. It’s a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read I’m sure fans of the genre will be able to enjoy. The writing might not be everyone’s taste, but I personally felt an instant connection and Things I’m Seeing Without You is definitely worth the try.

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Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler hasn’t been the same after the death of Jonah. Even though they only met once in real life, they have been talking over texts and long e-mails for months and were in love… And she never saw his suicide coming. She continues to write to Jonah as a way of dealing with her grief, and also decides to drop out of high school because she couldn’t deal with it any longer. She returns to her father’s home, where she discovers his newest business: an alternative funeral business with very special clients…

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Things I’m Seeing Without You is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining YA contemporary read despite the more serious themes. The fact that death, loss and grief is mixed with humor as well is refreshing and the funeral business added a really unique touch to the story. I’m not sure about the credibility of certain part of the plot and the actions of the characters, but there is one thing for sure: you will fly through this read. I personally liked Tess with all her flaws and complicated personality; the sassy tone of the story definitely complements her character. This story might not be for everyone, but I can definitely suggest giving it a try!


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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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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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BOOK REVIEW: A Monster Calls – by Patrick Ness

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: May 5th 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Finished reading: August 19th 2017
Pages: 216

“You do not write your life with words… You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

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I was initially saving this title for last since so many people call A Monster Calls their absolute favorite Patrick Ness story… But sometimes things don’t work out as planned. The fact that I picked up my copy is mostly to blame to the fact we recently got Netflix and I couldn’t resist watching the movie; since I normally never watch the movie before reading the book, I had to remedy that and read the book straight away. (Did you guess already I LOVED the movie?) And WOW. I completely understand why there is so much love for A Monster Calls, because this story is simply BRILLIANT. It’s Patrick Ness at his best and definitely one of my new all time favorites… The writing is wonderful, engaging, enchanting and will put you under its spell straight away. The mix of reality and fantasy is very well done and I loved the underlying messages than can be applied to the real world. A Monster Calls is a very strong, powerful, scary, emotional and sad story that will manage to win over your heart in less than a heartbeat… I practically devoured its pages and loved the characters and their development. And as for the movie: I loved just how faithful the script was to the dialogue and writing of the book! It’s not seen often that you can literally read and watch at the same time and see the characters say/do the same things… Both book and movie have earned its spot of my all time favorite list and I’m already looking forward to revisit this story in the future. Have you guessed already I can highly recommend this book?

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Conor has been having nightmares nearly every single night since his mother started her treatments, and it’s always the same thing happening. And even though he knows it’s not real, Conor suffers every time he wakes up just before the dreaded thing happens… But then a monster shows up after midnight. And Connor isn’t afraid; no, he’s angry it only wants to tell stories. Because Connor has a lot more important things to worry about… But the monster is something ancient and wild, and demands to be listened to anyway. And so it begins…

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I should have known already I would love this book after seeing so many glowing reviews and after positive experiences with some of his other stories, but WOW. This is hands down my new favorite Patrick Ness story and it will be hard for any other story to live up to this one. Between the brilliant prose, characters, powerful and emotional topics and perfect mix of reality and fantasy there just isn’t something I didn’t love about A Monster Calls. Read this book if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Ask And The Answer – by Patrick Ness

Title: The Ask And The Answer
(Chaos Walking #2)
Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: May 4th 2009
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
Finished reading: August 7th 2017
Pages: 536

“If you ever see a war,” she says, not looking up from her clipboard, “you’ll learn that war only destroys. No one escapes from a war. No one. Not even the survivors.”

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Ask me why on earth it took me this long to pick up the sequel, and I don’t have an answer. Ask me why I always ended up reading other series instead of continuing with one I had already started and loved, and I don’t have an answer either. The fact is that it took me just about TWO years before I finally opened my copy of The Ask And The Answer (I checked). Like I said before, I really don’t know why because I loved the first book… And have had Patrick Ness on my list of favorite authors ever since. There is one thing I do know though: I won’t wait this long to read the final book. Because The Ask And The Answer has reminded me just how much I enjoyed reading about this dystopian world. True, the slang the men use still bothered me considerably (it’s probably the philologist in me who’s to blame), but that’s my only real complaint. The whole slang use (cuz, yer, thru, addishun, instruckshuns etc. etc) in Todd’s chapters was highly annoying, but I did appreciate the fact that this way it was very easy to distiguish Viola’s chapters, which do have ‘normal’ language. This sequel is quite easy to follow even if you don’t remember all the details of book one. How I can know this? It had been two years since I read The Knife Of Never Letting Go and I didn’t do a reread before starting with The Ask And The Answer; I was able to pick up the storyline quite easily anyhow. I quite enjoyed the sequel and learn about how things continue and see the main characters develop. The writing style is quite unique and apart from the slang I absolutely loved it. I had a great time reading this story and literally flew through the pages… You don’t feel it at all this book has actually 500+ pages. I can’t wait to read book number three now!

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

They thought they would be safe in Haven, but what they found was something completelydifferent. Because instead of fleeing successfully the army that was trying to catch them, Todd has carried Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy. They are separated and imprisoned, forced to see the new way if they want the other to be safe… But can they be sure the other is still alive? Will they be able to escape and be together again?

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It’s been too long since I read the first book, so I can’t properly compare the two… But what I do know is that I enjoyed The Ask And The Answer just as much as the first book. I had once again the same reaction to the slang the men use in Todd’s chapters, which I found mostly highly annoying. That would be my only real complaint though and I still thoroughly enjoyed this sequel. I’m definitely going to read the third and final book soon now!


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