BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Lobizona – by Romina Garber #blogtour @WednesdayBooks @RominaRussell

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Lobizona blog tour! A huge thanks to Meghan Harrington for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I just knew I HAD to read this story as soon as I read the blurb and saw the mention of the Argentine folklore element. As someone who has called Argentina her home for quite a few years now, it was just irresistible… And this story definitely turned out to be everything I could have hoped for in a story and more. Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts!


Title: Lobizona
(Wolves Of No World #1)
Author: Romina Garber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: August 4th 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: July 16th 2020
Pages: 400

“Sometimes reality strays so far from what’s rational that we can only explain it through fantasy.”

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

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I knew I just HAD to read Lobizona as soon as I first read the blurb. As an immigrant who has been living in Latin America since 2010, and most of that time in Argentina, I just couldn’t resist the promise of both the immigrant aspect and the Argentine folklore element. I had a feeling this book would be a perfect match for me, and my instincts turned out to be 200% correct. I absolutely loved my time with this first book of a new series, and it is without doubt a new favorite! Trust me, that absolutely gorgeous cover matches its content perfectly.

There are so many elements that I loved in Lobizona and I’m having a bit of a hard time figuring out where to start… But let’s talk about the Argentine folklore and the influence of Argentine culture and customs in general first. As someone who has experienced Argentine life from up close during years (my hubby is actually Argentinian), I absolutely loved how important this element is in the story. The references to food, customs, culture and folklore were numerous and I LOVED just how many Spanish phrases were included. And not only that, but specific Argentine phrases as well as localisms from other countries were included; an absolute treat for the Spanish philologist in me. I do understand that someone without any knowledge of the Spanish language or Argentine culture might struggle, but I personally thought this element gave the story authenticity and made it stand out far above other books of the same genre. And with the main character Manu being bilingual, helpful translations of most if not all Spanish phrases are being included in the dialogue without slowing down the pace or flow of the story.

Another thing that stands out for me in Lobizona is that it is basically a mix of urban and high fantasy, where the real world of Miami and the fantasy world of Lunaris collide. Both worlds are thoroughly described and developed; these descriptions make it really easy to fully immerse yourself in the story. Especially the worldbuilding of Lunaris as well as el Laberinto really made the fantasy part of this story come alive… And I just loved getting the chance to learn more about the world as well as both the werewolves, witches and their powers. Some part of the story almost had that magical realism feel, and the mention of more than one famous Latin American author (including Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges) contributed to that same magic.

The Miami setting is used to help discuss the topic of immigrants and the struggles they face… Especially how hard it is for illegal immigrants to change their fate. As someone who has been an immigrant during the last ten years, this is a topic close to my heart and the way Romina Garber incorporated it into the plot is splendid. The main character Manu is a fascinating character in that way, as her struggle to fit in and exist legally applies in both worlds, albeit for different reasons. On top of the immigrant topic, Lobizona also discusses important topics such as gender discrimination, sexism and the hostility towards the lgbt community… Oh yes, Lobizona is so much more than just another YA fantasy read filled to the brim with romance; instead we have a multi-dimentional and diverse story full of dept that simply blew me away.

I also loved how the focus of the story was on Manu, her self discovery, her development and her struggle to fit in as well as her struggle to find safety. While there is some romance involved in the plot, it is mostly a slowburn romance and somehow it didn’t bother me at all. The characters themselves are well developed and easy to like in general. I loved Manu’s history as well as her development over time, and the rest of the characters were well rounded and intriguing too. It is definitely a cast I will be looking forward to meeting up with again!

The writing itself is in one world brilliant. And I’m not only talking about the writing style as a whole, but also about the many Spanish phrases as well as the flow and pace of the story… I literally devoured each page, impatient to absorb more and more of this wonderful story. I know Lobizona might not be everyone’s taste and some might struggle with the many Spanish phrases, but for me personally it was a match made in heaven. The plot development was spot on and the plot twists were also well handled; the ending definitely left me craving for more!

In short, if you are looking for an unique YA fantasy read with Argentine folklore elements, that magical feel and a healthy dose of interesting topics that give the story dept, Lobizona is simply a must-read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

SOCIAL LINKS

Twitter: @RominaRussell // Instagram: @RominaGarber

BUY LINK 


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YVO’S SHORTIES #174 – Dear Martin & Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two YA reads… One turned out to be absolutely fantastic (Dear Martin), while the other sadly failed to hit the mark for me (Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend).


Title: Dear Martin
(Dear Martin #1)
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: YA, Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 17th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: July 4th 2020
Pages: 226

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

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I already knew Dear Martin was probably have an impact on me after all those raving reviews, but I was blown away by just how much it hit the mark and left me reeling. This is such an important, powerful and absolutely heartbreaking debut and helps educate us just how real the American race problematics are even to this date. In the light of recent events, Dear Martin is even more of an eye opener and I cannot thank the author enough for getting Justyce’s story out in the world. I’m not sure where to even start describing this true gem other than with the words that this story shattered my heart into a million pieces, bulldozered right over those pieces and then left me raging at the injustice of it all in its wake. Dear Martin is a short, but immensely powerful and captivating debut and I literally read it in one sitting. The characters, the writing, the tackling of social injustice and race discrimination, the plot, the letters written to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… It makes for a real firecracker of a story everyone should read. Dear Martin and its characters will stay with me for a long time without a doubt!


Title: Broken Hearts, Fences, And Other Things To Mend
(Broken Hearts & Revenge #1)
Author: Katie Finn
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: February 14th 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Finished reading: July 9th 2020
Pages: 353

“It seems that thinking ‘things can’t get worse’ is an invitation for things to get much, much worse.”

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I confess that I have been meaning to read this one for years, and even my TBR jar ended up thinking it was long overdue. I was in the mood for a cute contemporary, and really thought Broken Hearts, Fences And Other Things To Mend was going to be a perfect fit… But I guess things weren’t ment to be. Things started out well as Katie Finn has a very readable and engaging writing style that makes it easy to fly through the pages. I initially really enjoyed this story, and was looking forward to see what would happen that summer in the Hamptoms… BUT. Things started to get really frustrating, as it was so clear what was really going on and I really just can’t believe Gemma didn’t realize what was happening right under her nose. Being able to see this ‘twist’ from a mile away as a reader was a huge disappointment, and I really didn’t like how the story and characters developed after that. I had problems with the credibility of certain aspects of the plot and the supposed ‘twists’, and that open ending was kind of a letdown too. I know this is part of a trilogy and the story will continue in the sequels, but still I wasn’t impressed when I saw the story was left hanging like that. And as I didn’t enjoy the first book enough, I don’t see myself reading the sequels and I guess I will never find out how things end between them. Oh well… Fans of the YA contemporary romance genre who don’t mind a cliche or two and a predictable plot will probably have a better time with this story though.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #171 – The Ten Thousand Doors Of January & The Switch #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two ventures into genres I don’t read all that often, but both turned out to be very successful experiences. I have found a new all time favorite in The Ten Thousand Doors Of January, which turned out to be an absolutely stunning read. And I had a great time with the two Eileen’s in The Switch.


Title: The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
First published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Finished reading: June 19th 2020
Pages: 385

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”


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I admit that this was cover love at first sight, but as soon as I read the blurb I knew I was most likely going to love The Ten Thousand Doors Of January. And after seeing one glowing review after the other, I decided to save it until I was in need of a story that could really blow me away… That time had come, and my instincts about this book turned out to be 200% on point. What an absolutely stunning and breathtaking read! I don’t even know where and how to start explaining this beauty of a story, as The Ten Thousand Doors Of January is one of those books where you should go in blind in the first place to fully explore and capture its magic. Historical fiction is mixed with fantasy in the most exquisite way, and I loved discovering more about January, the mysterious Doors, the magic and Adelaide’s adventures. This story is complex, this story is stunningly written, this story fits so cleverly together once you have all the pieces… It’s an absolute masterpiece I cannot recommend enough. I’m truly lost for words here, and will just throw in the following cliche phrase to finish these rambles: ‘just read the damn book‘. Trust me, you will be in for an absolute magical treat!


Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 16th 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Finished reading: June 21st 2020
Pages: 336

“There is no elixir for this. All you can do is keep moving forward even when it hurts like hell.”


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I know contemporary romance isn’t really my genre, but there are times when I crave a good contemporary and a select few authors can actually make me really enjoy the genre. I discovered last year Beth O’Leary is one of them when I read The Flatshare, and even the sexy scenes couldn’t put me off the rest of that story. I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Switch after that, especially when I discovered it involved an older main character as well as a life swap element. I must say that I had an excellent time with this story, and she is now officially another of my to-go-to authors when I’m in the mood for the genre. I think I might have enjoyed The Switch even a tiny bit more, mostly due to the focus on the relationship between the three generations of Cotton women and both Eileen’s more specifically. Sure, there were a couple of cliches involved. Sure, I saw the love interests coming from far far away. Sure, the story includes both the love triangle and cheating element I’m not a big fan of at all. But somehow, this just didn’t matter all that much, as I was having too much fun getting to know both Eileen’s and their adventures after the swap. This is both a fun and heartfelt story that will make you forget about your own problems for a little while… It’s the perfect escape from reality and the main characters will win over your heart in no time at all. If you enjoy the genre, The Switch is a little gem!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #169 – Kill You Twice & The Poet X #20BooksOfSummer

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around my first two 20 Books Of Summer titles belonging to two completely different genres… But both were excellent reads. Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain is already the fifth book of the series, and while not my favorite of the bunch I still had a great time reading it. And The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo turned out to be just as good as I hoped it would be.


Title: Kill You Twice
(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #5)
Author: Chelsea Cain
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: August 7th 2012
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2020
Pages: 337

“Life was a series of near misses. Car accidents dodged by quick reflexes. Railings that broke falls. Antibiotics. Seat belts. Helmets. We should all be dead a hundred times over.”

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After finally continuing with this series last month, I decided to work my way through the rest of the books ASAP so I can cross off another series on my unfinished series list. I know that technically the author promised more books were yet to come, but as it’s been seven years since book six was published I don’t think that will happen any time soon. Kill You Twice is book number five and marks the return to the spotlight of Archie’s nemesis Gretchen. After being mostly absent in book four, this sequel benefits from her strong presence once again and it has been interesting to see the dynamics between Archie and Gretchen develop further. The plot introduces us to another killer, but Archie and the rest soon discover there is a lot more going on than they assume initially and they wonder if there is a possible link to Gretchen… Especially as she is determined to make contact with Archie again. Susan makes her appearance as well, and it has been great to see the different characters develop over time. The final reveals are definitely shocking! Kill You Twice is not my favorite of the series though (which might be due to the explicit adult scenes, which are always a turn off for me), and there is definitely a warning in place for more than one disturbing and rather gory description and scene. If you like your serial killer thrillers dark and twisted, this is an excellent series though and the connection between detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell is simply fascinating.


Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Poetry
First published: March 6th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: June 12th 2020
Pages: 368

“She knew since she was little,

the world would not sing her triumphs,

but she took all of the stereotypes

and put them in a chokehold

until they breathed out the truth.”

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Wow, what an absolutely breathtaking read! I already fell in love with Elizabeth Acevedo‘s writing last year in With The Fire On High, but The Poet X has completely blown my socks off. Beautifully rendered, raw and simply stunning, The Poet X is simply slam dunk when it comes to poetry and the story itself is completely written in verse. I think the only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is because of the focus on religion, mostly because I have a personal aversion to this element in stories… I know this exploration of religion was mentioned in the blurb, but I confess that I like going in blind and I didn’t investigate before reading this one. That said, the religious element didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, as I was too busy devouring that glorious writing in verse. I love how the author gives us a glimpse of what it would be like to grow up with strict religious Dominican parents, and I loved the use of Spanish as it added an authentic feel to the story. The poem in Spanish is simply stunning! Xiomara, Xavier and the most of the others are easy to like and connect to, and while I strongly disliked the mother for obvious reasons, it was interesting learning a bit more about where her motivation came from. The Poet X is not an easy read as it covers difficult themes as forcing religious beliefs, parents pressuring their children, lgbt and not being able to come out and sexual harrassment among others. I love how Xiomara tries to find her voice through her poetry, and The Poet X is without doubt a powerful read completely written in verse I simply cannot recommend enough. I can’t wait to read Clap When You Land now as I believe it’s written in verse too!


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YVO’S SHORTIES #165 – The Queen And The Cure & The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around two sequels of two completely different genres. One, The Queen And The Cure, turned out to be a more than solid read, while the other, The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man, failed to blow me away…


Title: The Queen And The Cure
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #2)
Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 9th 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace
Finished reading: May 22nd 2020
Pages: 342

“Most of the time the obvious blinds us to the hidden.”

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After enjoying the first book The Bird And The Sword and falling in love with main characters Tiras and Lark, I decided to read the sequel while memories of this high fantasy world were still fresh. I had been looking forward to spend more time with both characters, so I was a bit disappointed when I discovered The Queen And The Cure is mostly focusing on Tiras’ brother Kjell instead. It’s not that I didn’t like his character in the first book, but I liked both Tiras and Lark more… That said, both Kjell and new character Sasha grew on me quickly and I enjoyed seeing their dynamics as well as the characters themselves develop. The writing is just beautiful, but then again I didn’t expect any less of Amy Harmon of course. I loved the new details about the magical elements and it definitely enriched the plot. The whole love triangle vibe was a bit of a let down for me though, and some of the reveals around Kjell and Sasha were just a tad too farfetched as well as too convenient. BUT. I still very much enjoyed this story despite a few misses, and while I do prefer the first book, The Queen And The Cure is still a solid YA high fantasy read.


Title: The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man
(The Hundred-Year-Old Man #2)
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: August 2018
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Finished reading: May 26th 2020
Pages: 448
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Hundraettåringen som tänkte att han tänkte för mycket’)

“The hundred-and-one-year-old certainly had his issues, but if there was anything he was good at, it was surviving.”

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared is one of my all time favorites, and as soon as I learned that Allan Karlsson would have a second adventure I knew I just HAD to read it. I’m still not sure why it took me this long to finally pick up the sequel, but in a way I’m glad as I would surely have felt even more disappointed if I had read it straight after the release in 2018. Oh yes, I feel that The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man by no means lives up to the first book,,. In fact, if it weren’t for the Allan-Julius duo and their dry humor, I don’t think I would have made it to the last page. Why? Well, this sequel is just way too political for me. The story is basically a constant critique on and satire of the recent political situation in the world, including characters such as Trump, Merkel, Kim Jong-Un and Putin… And it was all just too much for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the dry and sarcastic humor and Allan and Julius are once again brilliant, but they were kind of buried under a huge pile of political comments that distracted instead of entertain. I wasn’t too impressed by new character Sabine either… And sadly what was one of my most anticipated releases in 2018 simply fell flat for me.


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YVO’S SHORTIES #164 – Tweet Cute & The Bird And The Sword

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time a YA version, although two different genres… But both turned out to be excellent reads. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord turned out to be the dose of contemporary cuteness I was craving, and The Bird And The Sword by Amy Harmon was a wonderful mix of high fantasy and romance.


Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: January 21st 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Finished reading: May 9th 2020
Pages: 362

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.”

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After a few misses with recent romcoms, I was really putting all my hopes on Tweet Cute for one last try… And it looks like I finally hit the jackpot: what an absolutely adorable adorable read this was! Trust me, this book is gold if you are looking for a supercute YA contemporary romance read, and it’s without doubt a debut to keep your eyes on. While not without cliches and even a dose of teen angst, those were mostly forgiven thanks to the sheer cute factor of Tweet Cute as a whole. Both Pepper and Jack are extremely easy to connect to and I loved both the Twitter and the food elements in the story. Warning: this story will make you crave grilled cheese and all kinds of delicious sounding desserts though… Although for me that wasn’t a bad thing. The friends to lovers trope is a bit cliche, but Pepper and Jack make it worth it and I can even forgive the hint at a possible love triangle. There is some teen angst and drama going on at points, but overall I had an excellent time with this supercute read and any fan of fluffy and adorable romcoms should give Tweet Cute a try.


Title: The Bird And The Sword
(The Bird And The Sword Chronicles #1)

Author: Amy Harmon
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: May 6th 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Finished reading: May 19th 2020
Pages: 352

“You are what you are. I am what I am. It matters little what we want.”

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I think that it’s no secret that Amy Harmon is one of my absolute favorite authors and I basically adore anything she writes. One of the things that stands out in her work is just how diverse and unique each story is, spanning different genres and even age groups. The Bird And The Sword is the first book of a YA high fantasy duology which has both a high dose of romance and magic. And while I’m normally not a big fan of too much romance in my fantasy reads, Amy Harmon is one of the few authors who can make it work for me. Of course it’s always a blessing not having to deal with a love triangle… I loved the worldbuilding and the descriptions of Jeru; the main focus is mostly on the magical aspects of the high fantasy world, but this was more than enough for me. The writing is simply wonderful and managed to enchant me from the very first chapter. The main stars of this story are Lark and Tiras though, who basically run the whole show. They are both extremely easy to like, excellently developed and make it almost impossible not to fall in love with this story. I loved every single minute of my time with The Bird And The Sword, and while the ending is close and the book can be considered as a stand-alone, I’m already excited to return to Jeru and meet up with the characters again in the sequel. Recommended to anyone who enjoys a well balanced YA high fantasy with thoroughly developed characters, magic and a dose of romance as well as danger.


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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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YVO’S SHORTIES #160 – Woven In Moonlight & From Twinkle With Love

Time for another round of Yvo’s Shorties! This time around a YA edition… Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez turned out to be just as wonderful as the cover, but sadly From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon failed to hit the mark for me.


Title: Woven In Moonlight
(Woven In Moonlight #1)

Author: Isabel Ibañez
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic
First published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Finished reading: April 20th 2020
Pages: 384

“Catalina says that people are like books. Some you want to read and enjoy; some you hate before you’ve even read a word.”


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I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to read Woven In Moonlight as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover, but the cover wasn’t the only thing that won me over. Oh no, it was also the blurb and the promise of a YA fantasy infused with Bolivian culture and folkore… I love books which incorporate foreign cultures and as someone who has had the pleasure to get a glimpse of Bolivia during one of my travels, I was looking forward to see its customs and culture incorporated into a story. And boy, did the author do a splendid job! I know the story might not be for everyone as it’s filled with Spanish words as well as Bolivian food and culture references that might become tedious if you don’t understand Spanish (there’s a glossary at the end though!). BUT. I personally loved this fusion of both languages and the simple Spanish phrases, references to Bolivian food and culture impregnated every single page and chapter of Woven In Moonlight; making the Bolivian vibe fully come alive and taking this fantasy story to the next level. Another bonus? There is hardly any romance involved (although we do have the ‘enemy to lover’ cliche), and the story itself focuses on the development of the fantasy world and characters instead while also incorporating references to real world conflicts including the coca industry. I really liked the magical elements in Woven In Moonlight too, and most characters were easy to like. I can definitely recommend this book if you enjoy YA high fantasy with a worldbuilding that mixes parts of the real world with fantastical elements, if don’t mind the use of a considerable amount of Spanish words and phrases in the writing and love a story that is fantasy first, and romance last.


Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: April 23rd 2020
Pages: 337

“Sometimes I worry I don’t know who I really am. Sometimes I’m afraid nothing I do will ever be enough to set me apart.”


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Well hello, unpopular opinion review, I guess we meet again… I probably should have known! I really enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi back when I read it, and I’ve been wanting to try more of Sandhya Menon‘s books ever since. I was craving a cute contemporary, so I decided to pick up From Twinkle, With Love on a whim as I thought it would be exactly the story I needed at the time. I guess I was wrong! Sure, there is no doubt that this story is the typical cutesy contemporary romance read I was looking for… There were a few elements I loved, including a little insight in Indian culture, diverse characters and the whole film industry elements. BUT. There were also quite a few things that not only turned me off, but started to infuriate me. First of all, the love triangle (square?). Seriously, why o why do we have to deal with that?! It’s like an overdose of cringeworthy romance cliches, and the whole secret admirer thing was so obvious that it made me feel even more annoyed that Twinkle never suspected anything. Talking about Twinkle, I absolutely hated her attitude and behavior towards others. The whole, ‘I like him, but he isn’t popular so I can’t be with him because I need to be with someone who is’ just disgusted me and I seriously feel bad for Sahil for having to put up with her at all. Talk about warped life priorities and not respecting others! And sure, the format was interesting with the diary entries and added texts, emails and such, but there were so many things that bothered me that I just couldn’t properly appreciate it. In short, between the high school cliches, love square, despicable behavior of Twinkle and the writing sounding too forced, I really struggled reaching that final page… Oh yes, From Twinkle, With Love definitely didn’t have that spark for me.


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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: Ruthless Gods – by Emily A. Duncan

Title: Ruthless Gods
(Something Dark And Holy #2)
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Genre: YA, Fantasy
First published: April 7th 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Finished reading: April 7th 2020
Pages: 432

“It was the time when knives were unsheathed, when plans were created and seen into fruition. It was a time for monsters.”

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

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As soon as I first heard about this series last year I found myself to be in love with both cover and blurb. I was lucky to be able to join the blog tour for Wicked Saints and had a fantastic time reading what was a dark, gothic and simply glorious read. YA fantasy sadly tends to be on the sappy side, but Wicked Saints most definitely had none of that! I’ve been looking forward to the sequel ever since, and I was stoked to discover my Netgalley wish was actually granted a few months ago. I was fully expecting to fall in love with the sequel too, but somehow that didn’t happen… It might have been my own fault as I didn’t reread the first book to refresh memories or it might have been the fact that my mind simply wasn’t able to cope with high fantasy right now… But the sad fact is that I was seriously underwhelmed by this sequel. I’ll try explain briefly why. First of all I have to state that the beautiful writing is still there, and Ruthless Gods still has that dark and gothic feel. BUT. I felt the spark of the first book was missing, and I struggled to stay focused and interested in the story. There were a few elements that probably contributed…

We have the plot, or rather lack of a proper plot. I felt that there was no solid plot to follow in the sequel and the story felt more like a filler between book one and what is still to come. This made it harder to stay focused… The multiple POV structure and setting changes had the same effect, and distracted instead of enriching the plot and structure of the story. Not only do we have to juggle multiple POVs, but all those strange foreign names and chapter introductions with more foreign names and saints can become confusing and it’s a real chore trying to keep up with them all… On top of that, I wasn’t able to connect to the characters in the same way as I did in Wicked Saints. I struggled considerably with this sequel and even started skimreading at some point as the constant bickering, overdose of strange names and lack of plot really got to me. And no, even the beautiful writing couldn’t rescue that. This might have been the wrong story for me in these strange times, but the fact is that this series has lost its enchantment for me… Don’t give up on this series yet if you enjoyed the first book though, because I’m having a feeling that my reaction to this story resulted into one of those unpopular opinion reviews all over again.


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