Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Premise

Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

My review – spoiler free

This was my first ever time reading a Kerri Maniscalco book and I was not disappointed at all! I ended up giving it a 4.25 stars, and here is my review.

You almost immediately fall in love with the magic system in Kingdom of the Wicked. It’s not the type where they have a wand and can just do basically anything without any consequences. No, in order to do a spell, a witch has to gather certain objects or things, and doing a hard spell can have consequences, just like doing a ‘forbidden’ spell. It was very refreshing to read that type of magic, it just feels more realistic in a way.

The whole demon realm/world is also super intriguing. We don’t get to know a lot about it in this book, but I’m certain we’ll learn a lot more in the next one. The demons’ magic also worked a bit in the same way as the witches’ magic, so it also had consequences and they also needed certain things in order to do magic. And that was once again nice to see, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ had the same restrictions.

The way this book is written, however, leaves you with some conflicted feelings. On the one hand it was a very well written book, that reads quickly & easily, but still didn’t have an oversimplified writing style. The balance was just right. But on the other hand, I feel like the book could have used one more round of edits (I read an arc, so maybe it had), especially the action scenes. Often times in the midst of a ‘fighting’ or action scene it was described as ‘I did this, and then this, and then this happened, and then I saw this and that made me feel this.’ Which reads a bit amateuristic, especially because you know Maniscalco can write proper action scenes, she proves it with half of the action scenes in this book.

Another ‘issue’ isthat you don’t really feel for the characters. This book deals with a lot of grief and emotional scenes. And even though the way Emilia feels about all of it is written so beautifully, with the exact pretty words, it doesn’t make you feel anything. Or at least, it didn’t make me feel anything. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why that is, but it is a pitty nontheless.

Going in to this book I was bit afraid, because it has the enemies to lovers trope. And if there is one trope I absolutely can’t stand, it’s that one. I even prefer love triangles over enemies to lovers. And just like almost every other enemies to lovers I read, I didn’t believe this one either. When the two enemies/lovers where in the middle of yet another fight, that read the same as any other fight they had, I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. Especially when then all of the sudden the main character had the urge to kiss the other character, where did that come from? Why do you want to kiss him? Why do you care so deeply about him all of the sudden? It came completely out of nowhere and thus was totally unbelievable.

The pacing of the book was just right throughout the entire thing. Except for the second to last chapter. That one was way too action pact. Too many things were happening in a short period of time, which made it all feel very rushed. Luckily the last chapter saved the day. That chapter was just pure perfection. I don’t think the ending will be for everyone, but I loved it. It didn’t have a cliffhanger, but was still quite an open ending. And now I can’t wait to read the sequel!

Whilst reading this book, I was reminded a lot of my reading expierence with Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, and that is one of my favourite books. So I definitely think that if you liked that one, you’ll also like this one!

Five Halloween book recommendations

Blog post where I list five Halloween book recommendations, or books that are perfect for around the Halloween time.

Hello lovely reader! In today’s blog post I’ll be talking about five Halloween book recommendations. So these are five books that I think fit the Halloween vibe perfectly! I’m not really someone who reads according to the season, so some of these books I didn’t read around Halloween time, but they just give me the Halloween vibe. And since I know a lot of people do like to read according to the seasons, I decided to make this recommendations post. I tried to put five different type of books on here, so there will be at least one book everyone on the list. But without further ado, here we go!

A Good Girl Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

If you’re looking for a fun YA murder mystery, than this is the book for you! This one has some creepy scenes, but even if you’re a bit faint of heart, you’ll still be able to read this one because it doesn’t have anything too scary in it. The whole murder mystery part of this book just gave me the Halloween vibes, and one scene in particular could’ve come straight out of a (soft) horror film.

Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeill

WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.

When seventeen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?

Murdertrending is perfect for fans of the YA genre who are looking for a horror film disguised as a book. When reading this book I could really see all of the scenes happening as if it were a horror film. This book does have some rather graphic murder scenes, so I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if your a fan of the horror genre, or you want to dip your toes in to it, then this is the book for you!

Sawkill Girl by Claire Legrand

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Sawkill Girls really is a book unlike any other book I read, so it’s hard to compare it to other books. However, if you’re a fan of mysteries, true crime and a hint of the supernatural, then I think this is the perfect book for you! To top it all off, this book also has some great LGBTQ+ rep!

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

When you think of Halloween, you can’t not think about witches. So if you’re looking for a book about witches, then you can stop looking now. Witches of Ash and Ruin is the perfect combination of witches and true crime. A combination that might not seem right, but is something you really need in your life!

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

Wilder Girls might not be the perfect book to read in the midst of a pandemic, or it can make the reading expierence even creepier, it’s up to you. This book is for people who like soft horror, but who are also not squimish about body gore. Wilder Girls is a truly unique book that will give you the chills.

That were my five Halloween recommendations, I hope you’ll enjoy reading these books! I had a harder time than I had expected choosing the books for this list, so I might to another one of these in about a year, when it’s Halloween time again.

I’d love to hear your Halloween reading recommendations as well!

Review: How To Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess

Blog post where I review the graphic novel How To Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess.

Premise

Brave, witty and empowering, this graphic memoir follows Rebecca as she navigates her asexual identity and mental health in a world obsessed with sex. From school to work to relationships, this book offers an unparalleled insight into asexuality.

My review – spoiler free

Since this is a review for a, rather short, graphic novel, this won’t be a long blog post. But don’t worry, on Wednesday, you’ll get a full length post!

How To Be Ace definitely offers you a personal insight on what it’s like to be asexual. Especially growing up in a time where asexuality wasn’t a well-known word and where you didn’t have pages upon pages on the Internet filled with information about being asexual.

Even though this is a very personal graphic memoir, it really applies to a large part of the asexual community. However, asuxuality is a very personal experience, everyone experiences it in a different way. It is lovely to see that, even though it’s such a personal memoir, it still shines a light on different experiences with asexuality. That was definitely a bonus point for this graphic novel.

A less good point for How To Be Ace is that it doesn’t really give you what it promises. You get promised a personal story about asexuality, but it was more the authors personal life story, with the focus on asexuality. So there were a couple of chapters where there was hardly any talk about asexuality, which was a pity.

Another pity about How To Be Ace is that it read kind of jumpy. Sometimes you had a row of comics about a certain topic, and then it jumped to another topic. That transition felt a bit weird and sudden from time to time. There were also some moments where a certain subject was introduced, to then never be touched on again. And that leaves you with some questions about that subject.

It also just has to be said that the art style in this graphic novel is so beautiful. The writing however, wasn’t always as readable as I would’ve liked. My eyes had a really hard time reading from time to time.

Nevertheless, this is a really informative and fun read. Especially for people who don’t know a lot about asexuality yet, or who might be discovering their own sexuality.

A special thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this graphic novel, in exchange for an honest review.

Themed TBR: reading 2019 ARCs!

Hi there lovely reader! Today’s blog post is my monthly themed TBR post. Now what are these themed TBR blogposts? It’s easy: for these blog posts I pick a certain theme and read books within that theme. The theme of this post is 2019 ARCs. So when I discovered Netgalley in 2019 I requested a ton of ARCs on there, and also downloaded a few of the free ones. However, I never got around to read all of them in time. So I still have three 2019 ARCs that I own, but haven’t read yet. So that’s what I’ll be doing for this blog post!

I’ll review those three ARCs for you. But, and that’s the fun part of the blog post, my reviews will be little podcast type vlogs. I will not only give you my final thoughts on the book, but also the thoughts I had whilst reading the book. So it’s a bit like a reading vlog, but it’s just my voice. Now let’s get into the books I read and their reviews!

Book 1: They/Them/Their by Eris Young

In this insightful and long-overdue book, Eris Young explores what it’s like to live outside of the gender binary and how it can impact on one’s relationships, sense of identity, use of language and more.

Drawing on the author’s own experiences as a nonbinary person, as well as interviews and research, it shares common experiences and challenges faced by those who are nonbinary, and what friends, family and other cisgender people can do to support them. Breaking down misconceptions and providing definitions, the history of nonbinary identities and gender-neutral language, and information on healthcare, this much-needed guide is for anyone wanting to fully understand nonbinary and genderqueer identities.

Book 2: Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Book 3: Not Hungry by Kate Karyus Quinn

June is fat. June also has an eating disorder, but no one sees. When she doesn’t eat, her friends and family think they see a fat girl on a diet, not someone starving herself. When June’s secret is found out by Toby, the new boy next door, she is panicked. Then she learns he also has a secret. Everyone has their own little lies.

I hope you enjoyed this themed TBR post! This is actually a monthly thing I do on my blog, so if you’re interested in any future themed TBR posts make sure you follow my blog! They’ll also always be posted on the second Wednesday of the month.

Have you read any of these books novels? What did you think of them? Or are any of these still on your TBR? Let me know!

September wrap up (2020)

My September 2020 reading wrap up. Blog post where I talk about all the books I read in September 2020.

Hello there! It’s that time of the month *again* where I talk about all the books I read in the previous month. I’ll also be giving you some statistics about my reading in September en the rating I gave to the books I read. Shall we get started with the statistics?

So I managed to read seven books in September, which I was very happy with in the end. I had hoped to read more, but up until around the 20th I had only read two books, so I’m really happy I managed to read five more in the last ten days. Quality wise I had an okay reading month, not the best, but also not the worst of this year. The average rating of September was 7.5 out of 10.

If we look at the average page count of the books I read in September, you can conclude that I read a lot of “standard” books, and not a lot of long ones. My average page count is 341 pages. Looking at the total page count, I landed on 2384 pages, which is my second lowest amount of the year, only in February I read less pages than in September.

This month I had my e-reader in my hands a lot, it seems. Because if you look at the format I read this month’s books in, I read four books completely via e-book, for one book I switched between the e-book and the audiobook and then I also read one physical book and I listened to one book entirely via audio.

Genre wise I had a vary varied month, I read one poetry collection, one fabulism novel, one non fiction book, one fantasy and three contemporaries. For the targeted age range I read six Young Adult books and only the non fiction book was targeted to adults.

That’s it for all of the statistics. Now I’ll list the seven books I read in August, which rating (out of five) I gave them and if I wrote a review, I’ll also link that.

My favourite physical read (also counting e-books) was Witches of Ash and Ruin without a doubt, I’m quite certain that one will end up on my favourites of 2020 list. My favourite audiobook was Felix Ever After, but it was not really a new all time favourite.

That was it for yet another wrap up. I swear 2020 is flying by. I hope you read some amazing books in September, and I’ll see you next Wednesday for a new blog post!

Review: We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu

Premise

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link’s close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what’s more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.

As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link’s younger sister. All three are trying to find their place—and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.

My review – spoiler free

When starting this book the first thing that catches your attention is the writing. Especially for a debut novel, the writing in We Were Restless Things is exceptionally good. The way Nagamatsu sets a scene and describes the world is very impressing. The way Noemi’s dream journal entries were written, was also spot on. It really reads like those parts were written by someone who just woke up from a dream and wants to write down everything they remember from said dream.

In the more fabulism parts of the book, the parts that take place in the forest, the writing is also so atmospherical. It really leaves a lasting impression. However, more towards the middle of the book, we get less parts in the forest, and thus the writing loses its beauty and atmosphere. Which is rather a pity. Don’t get the wrong impression, the writing is still very solid and the way Nagamatsu describes things is still impressing, but the writing does lose a bit of its ‘flair’.

Unlike what is stated in the premise, We Were Restless Things has some different plot lines. The premise really makes you believe this book is all about a weird forest and these characters who try to solve Link’s mysterious death. And the story is about those things, but it often times felt like that was not the main focus of the story. Especially towards the middle of the book the focus was on the lives of the characters and their romantic relationships. That was, once again, a bit of a pity because the fabulism parts of this book made it really stand out from a lot of other books.

Next to that the balance between the different plot lines felt a bit off. At the beginning and the very end of the book, its focus layed on Link’s death and the forest. However, in the middle Nagamatsu seemed to have forgotten she was writing a book with fabulism elements. It would have been nicer to have the fabulism forest parts spread out more throughout the book, instead of having those saturated at the beginning and the end, then the plot would’ve been less weak.

Even though the plot was the weakest element of We Were Restless Things, it was still a page turner. I was picking this book up whenever I could, on the train, at home, or even when I was walking down the pavement. As a reader you just needed to know what would happen next.

Another strong point of this book were the characters. Quite a few books with multiple point of views fall in the trap of writing every pov the same way. However, in We Were Restless Things every character had its distinct voice and set of characteristics.

What made the book absolutely amazing, was the asexual representation. Noemi, one of the main characters, is asexual. Asexuality is a spectrum, so everyone experiences it in another way. However, Noemi’s asexuality was so well written and very relatable to me. I’ve read other reviews stating that the way asexuality is written in this book “doesn’t sit well” with those reviewers. The only thing I can say to that is, that as an own voices reviewer the ace rep in this book is phenomenal and this was the first time ever I really felt seen by a book.

That being said, We Were Restless Things definitely has it flaws and could’ve used an extra round or two of edits, but it still had some solid parts and the best ace rep I’ve ever come across. I ended up giving this book 3.5 stars for those reasons.

Review: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Blog post of a book review of Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez.

Premise

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

My review – spoiler free

A contemporary novel set in Argentina, that’s always a refresher. Most of the YA contemporaries published by an English publisher are set in the US or the UK, so it’s always a lovely expierence to read a book set outside the US or the UK, in this case Argentina. By reading this book you already learn so much about Argentinian culture, and it’s always amazing to learn something new by reading a book. Another nice extra was the Spanish that was occasionally thrown in, it made the book and the story feel so much more real.

Our main character Camila is a fierce young woman, something you come across quite a lot in YA novels. However, Furia brought a fresh type of fierce female lead with Camila. She fought for her own rights by playing football, by doing what she loves to do the most. Throughout the entire book there were themes of feminism, but unlike other books that have similar feminism themes, the main character can’t speak freely about those topics. That was an interesting perspective to follow for once, instead of the girls who keep screaming what they want.

There was unfortunately also downer with the feminism aspects in the book. They were rather prominent at the beginning, and certainly at the end, but in the middle of the book it seemed like the author kind of forgot about feminism. And that alligns a bit with the whole reading experience of Furia. The beginning and the end were very good, but the middle of the book fell a bit flat. The reason for that was that the author seemed to forget what she was writing a book about. The beginning set up these clear feminism themes, the football aspect and Camila’s home life, and in the end those topics came back.

However, the entire middle part of the book was the romance plot line. At the beginning Furia really felt like a breath of fresh air in the YA genre, but unfortunately it lost that feeling once the romance became so prominent in the book. The romance was definitely still interesting and needed to be there for the plot, but in the middle it overshadowed the other aspects of the book a bit too much.

The middle of the book was overall just the weakest part. Not only the story line, but also the writing was rather weak in the middle. At the beginning the book reads really quickly and the author makes some amazing word and structure choices. However, near the middle the writing was rather awkward. Within one paragraph the book jumps from one thing to another, to another, which is never nice to read. At the same time there were some chapters that had too many short scenes within one chapter. Those scenes should have been a bit longer and then the chapter could’ve been divided in two or three chapters, which would have made more sense.

But once again, the beginning and the ending of Furia were so strong and overall it was still a very good read. It’s just such a pity that the middle of the book could have used a bit more editing to make it perfect.

Overall I gave Furia 3.5 out of 5 stars, and I still fully recommend this book if you’re into YA contemporary and want to explore a bit more from the world than just the US and the UK.

Disclaimer: I was gifted an e-copy of this by the publisher via Netgalley, but all opinions stated in this review are my own and not influenced by the publisher or author.

Blog update!

Hello lovely reader! Today’s blog post is a bit of a different one, because I’ll be giving a little blog update.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about all the content I’ve been bringing out in the last year or so. And with that I’ve also been brainstorming a bit about how I want to continue on creating content and what type of content I want to bring out. I’ll tell you all about the outcome of my little brainstorm session right now! I’ll start off with my blog and then later on I’ll also talk a little bit about my Instagram account.

Since mid-August I’ve switched from posting two blog posts a week to posting once a week on here. That is going to remain the same, and my upload day will still be Wednesday. I’ve decided to make that switch about a month ago because I want the quality of my blog posts to be high. And to be able to make high quality posts, I had to reduce the quantity of my posting, so I could spend more time on every post.

Since I create bookish content both on here and on my Instagram acocunt, I wanted to make the devide between the content I put on each of those to be clear. Of course there’ll always be a bit of a crossover between the two. However, from October onwords I’ll be working with a monthly schedule for my blog. That means that I’ll have the same type of posts every month. Now, what does the schedule look like?

  • On the first Wednesday of the month I’ll post my wrap up from the previous month. In other words: I’ll be listing all of the books I read in that month and how I rated them. I also always give some statistics regarding my reading of that month.
  • On the second Wednesday of the month I’ll post a themed TBR post. In those posts I read and review three books that fit some sort of a theme. That can be a very clear or a very vague theme. Those reviews are always in a podcast style.
  • On the third Wednesday of the month I’ll post a ‘list of five’ post. That basically means that I’ll make a list of five books. That can be a top five, or just five recommendations. Those posts will for sure always be in a certain theme as well.
  • On the fourth Wednesday of the month I’ll post a book review. I love reading reviews and find them really helpful, and I also really enjoy writing them myself, so this just seemed like a logical fourth type of blog post.

Of course me having this schedule doesn’t mean that I’ll follow it every single month without fail. Some months I might switch the posts around or don’t do a certain post. But I’ll always try my hardest to post every single Wednesday.

Also: some months have five Wednesdays. If that’s the case, the book review will be posted on the fifth Wednesday and there’ll be another type of post on the fourth Wednesday. Think: a book tag, an extra review, an extra list etc. The rest of the schedule will remain the same.

I’m also currently working on the outlook of my blog so that might change around a bit as well, but those changes won’t be very drastic.

Instagram update

Now onto the little Instagram update I have. I adore using Instagram and I wish I could be super active on Instagram every single day, however life really gets in the way sometimes. Because of that it’s going to be my aim to post around five times a week. If I post every single day some weeks, that’s even better, but I won’t be pushing myself to post every day. A little side note: I’m working hard on a new theme at the moment, and that’s the reason why I’m not posting a lot as of right now.

I’m also loving the new Reels feature on Instagram. I’m testing it out at the moment and I really want to post some more Reels. However, I won’t be saying I’ll post a Reel every x times, since I’m still experimenting with it. Something I can say, is that I’ll post my book hauls on Reels from now on.

I’m also still testing out IGTV. I adore making videos, so I hope I can start using IGTV soon, since I already have a few ideas for it. But same as with the Reels feature, I won’t be saying I’ll post a video on IGTV every x times, for the same reasons. You can kind of view IGTV and Reels as some sort of ‘extra content’ from me.

And the last Instagram update: I’m going to aim to do some form of monthly shoutouts on my stories. That can be shoutouts of my favourite posts, favourite accounts… The options are endless. And if I can do those more than monthly, I’m more than happy to do so.

That’s it for all of the updates. I hope you’re as excited as I am for the new content and ‘goals’! For the rest of September I have two more reviews planned, those will go up on the resting Wednesdays of the month.

Themed TBR: trying out graphic novels!

A themed TBR blog post where I try out graphic novels for the first time. Two of the graphic novels I read, and review in this post, are Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki.

Hi there lovely reader! Today’s blog post is my monthly themed TBR post.  Now what are these themed TBR blogposts? It’s easy: for these blog posts I pick a certain theme and read books within that theme. The theme of this post is graphic novels. I’ve always been really intrigued by comics and graphic novels, but I was never sure whether or not I’d like them. So I put a couple of comics and graphic novels on my birthday wish list and I received three for my birthday. And that’s like the perfect amount for a themed TBR post.

I’ll review those three grahpic novels for you. But, and that’s the fun part of the blog post, my reviews will be little podcast type vlogs. I will not only give you my final thoughts on the book, but also the thoughts I had whilst reading the book. So it’s a bit like a reading vlog, but it’s just my voice. So without further ado, let’s get into the comic and graphic novels I read!

Book 1: Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time.

Book 2: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her.

The day they got together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.

When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

Book 3: This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

I hope you enjoyed this themed TBR post! This is actually a monthly thing I do on my blog, so if you’re interested in any future themed TBR posts make sure you follow my blog! They’ll also always be posted on the second Wednesday of the month.

Have you read any of these comics/graphic novels? What did you think of them? Or are any of these still on your TBR? Let me know!

Recensie: Helende Bladeren van Claudia Boon

Een boekenrecensie van het boek Helende Bladeren van Claudia Boon.

Dag lieve lezer, vandaag heb ik een extra blog post voor je. Ik heb namelijk de eer om mee te mogen doen aan Claudia Boons blogtour voor haar nieuwe boek Helende Bladeren. Aangezien dit een blogtour is, heb ik het boek dus gratis gekregen van Claudia zelf, in ruil voor een eerlijke recensie. Deze recensie is dan ook volledig mijn mening en niet beïnvloed door het feit dat ik dit boek gratis gekregen heb.

Waar gaat het boek over?

De bewoners van Terram zijn opgegroeid met verhalen over de Kosmosdraak, de god van het universum. Ooit stuurde hij draken om de wereld te creëren en te beschermen. Honderden jaren geleden ging het mis en werd het portaal naar het dodenrijk geopend. Uiteindelijk wisten de draken hem weer te sluiten, maar de duisternis had flinke schade aangericht. Nu de Aardedraken bijna uitgestorven zijn, is alle hoop gevestigd op Nepheda, de laatste Aardedraak.

Eilika droomt ervan om op avontuur te gaan, de wereld te ontdekken en de draken te ontmoeten. Het blijft echter bij dromen; als meisje uit een boerendorp moet ze trouwen en een gezin stichten. Wanneer ze op een dag een aardedrakenei vindt, wordt alles anders.

Solix wordt een heilige genoemd vanwege zijn aardedrakenmagie. Zijn taak is om de laatste Aardedraak te beschermen. Hoewel hij niet in zijn eigen krachten gelooft, is hij vastbesloten om zijn taak serieus te nemen. Hij wordt flink op de proef gesteld wanneer hij merkt dat Nepheda stervende is.

Aster kan zich nauwelijks haar ouders en haar geboorteland herinneren. Haar belangrijkste regel is: laat niemand jouw magie zien en leid een normaal leven. Als ze op haar tocht een jongen ontmoet, gaat ze twijfelen. Is het wel slim om haar magie verborgen te houden?

Mijn recensie – zonder spoilers

Toen ik de synopsis van Helende Bladeren las, was ik meteen verkocht. Een boek over draken? Meer heb je niet nodig om mij enthousiast te krijgen. Maar helaas bleef ik wel een beetje op mijn honger zitten op vlak van draken. Hoewel men in Terram sterk gelovig is in ‘drakengoden’, kregen we niet echt veel te zien van die draken. Erg veel uitleg over de drakengoden was er ook niet in het boek. Daardoor was het soms wel een verwarrend boek, want dan werd er bijvoorbeeld over een bepaalde draak gesproken, maar was je als lezer niet helemaal mee waar het over ging.

Claudia Boon is dan weer wel erg goed in het schrijfprincipe ‘show don’t tell’, ze laat je de wereld ontdekken door de ogen van de personages en zegt niet gewoon de informatie over de wereld. Helaas kon er wel nog meer in de ‘show’ zitten, we kregen net te weinig te zien over de wereld om helemaal mee te zijn met onder andere de drakengoden, de wereld ‘Terram’ en hoe de verschillende soorten magie precies in elkaar zaten.

Om verder te gaan op Boons schrijfstijl: ze kan erg goed een scène neerzetten. Boon heeft een mooie, omschrijvende manier van vertellen. Waardoor het niet moeilijk is om de plaats waar de scène zich afspeelt voor je te zien. Toch kan Boon nog meer groeien in die omschrijvende manier van vertellen, want soms was er een beetje een slechte balans tussen omschrijvend vertellen en ‘het noodzakelijke’ vertellen. Af en toe werden erg onbelangrijke details tot in de puntjes beschreven, wat je dan een beetje uit de ‘flow’ van het verhaal haalt.

Nog een laatste iets over de manier waarop Helende Bladeren geschreven is. De schrijfstijl en de personages voelde erg jong aan. Het leek alsof dit boek gericht was naar elf-, twaalfjarigen, waar zeker niets mis mee is. Maar dan kwamen er soms wel scènes voor in het boek die niet goed paste bij de leeftijd van de schrijfstijl. Moesten die scènes er niet ingezeten hebben, zou de leeftijd van de schrijfstijl helemaal geen probleem vormen. Maar juist doordat die scènes er wel in zaten, was er een soort conflict tussen de leeftijd van het verhaal en de leeftijd van de schrijfstijl.

Naast de iets te gedetailleerde manier van beschrijven, haalde ook het van de hak op de tak springen de lezer uit de flow van het verhaal. Soms gebeurde er binnen een hoofdstuk (van slechts enkele pagina’s) zoveel, waardoor je als lezer echt het gevoel krijgt dat je naar een tenniswedstrijd aan het kijken bent en heel tijd met je gezicht heen en weer moet kijken. Als lezer is het dan erg verwarrend om te weten wat er nu precies allemaal gebeurd is in één kort hoofdstuk.

Zoals de synopsis doet vermoeden zijn er in het verhaal drie verschillende plotlijnen. Doordat er die drie verschillende plotlijnen zijn, duurt het een tijdje eer dat je aan elk personage en zijn of haar omgeving voorgesteld bent, daardoor duurde het ook lang voor het verhaal echt op gang kwam, waardoor het wat moeilijk was om in het begin interesse te hebben in het verhaal in zijn geheel.

Daarnaast is het ook al erg snel duidelijk welke van de drie verhaallijnen de ‘hoofdverhaallijn’ is. Twee van de drie verhaallijnen werden voor een groot deel van het boek precies genegeerd, waardoor je als lezer vaak niet meer weet wat er nu eigenlijk gaande was in die verhaallijn.

Elke plotlijn volgt dus een van de drie personages die op de flaptekst voorgesteld worden. Daarnaast zijn er echter nog een hoop andere belangrijke personages in het verhaal, je volgt namelijk niet alleen het perspectief van die drie personages. Al snel zaten we aan om en bij de tien belangrijke personages. Over het algemeen was het niet zo moeilijk om hen uit elkaar te houden, maar toch waren er nog enkele personages die ik door elkaar sloeg. Al bij al viel dat wel nog goed mee.

Wat wel jammer is aan de personages is dat ze nogal oppervlakkig uitgewerkt zijn. Elk personage heeft zo zijn twee à drie persoonlijkheidskenmerken en dat is. Verder is er vaak niet veel diepgang of backstory aan de personages. De personages die dan wel een backstory hadden, en dus wat interessanter zijn, verdwenen wat naar de achtergrond. Daarnaast was elk personages aan het begin van het boek zo goed als hetzelfde als aan het einde van het boek. Veel sprake van ontwikkeling was er dus niet voor de personages. Dat is nog wel een klein beetje te excuseren door het feit dat dit het eerste boek in een serie is. Maar dan moeten de personages in het volgende boek wel een grote sprong maken in hun ontwikkeling. Er zit dus nog een hele hoop potentie in de personages om doorheen de serie interessanter en echter te worden.

Wat ik ook een grote gemiste kans vond en dus in de volgende boeken in deze serie zeker beter mag worden is het gebruik van het plotpunt ‘deus ex machina’. Dat komt er eigenlijk op neer dat er bij wijze van spreken een god uit de lucht komt vallen om het probleem op te lossen. Bij Helende Bladeren kan je nu niet letterlijk spreken van een god, alhoewel dat in één instantie wel kan, maar toch werden problemen bijna altijd per toeval opgelost. Een probleem werd bijna nooit opgelost door een van de personages zelf. Er was altijd een extra factor aanwezig waardoor problemen verdwenen. Het is altijd jammer wanneer personages in een boek zelf niet veel moeten doen om hun problemen op te lossen.

Over het algemeen heb ik echter wel echt genoten van dit boek. Het leest erg vlot en je wil natuurlijk dat de personages slagen in wat ze doen. Terram is een erg interessante wereld en heeft zoveel potentie om uit te groeien tot een unieke en erg specifieke fantasywereld.

Hoewel Helende Bladeren voor mij dus wel nog wat punten heeft die ik graag anders gezien had, denk ik wel dat Claudia Boon zeker de mogelijkheid heeft om tot een erg goede schrijfster uit te groeien. Helende Bladeren is een debuut en is het eerste boek in een serie, dus dan is het altijd een beetje zoeken naar hoe je het verhaal en de personages gaat brengen. Daardoor heb ik er veel vertrouwen in dat de rest van de serie steengoed kan worden.