When the Junglebook meets a cemetery, magic is created <3

Hey you all. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. No worries, nothing bad happened, in fact a lot of good happened! I participated in a reading club revolving around the Dutch YA book Falco en de gestolen Stympha’s (if you haven’t read it put it on your list 😉 ), I wrote a short story (about a girl living in the time of emperor Justinian when the Mediterranean was devastated by a plague that cost many, many lives) that’s going to be published this weekend on historischeverhalen.nl and I got a really cool offer from a well-known Dutch YA-author that I can’t tell anything about yet but that’s got me jumping all around the room and hyperventilating from stress at the same time haha. On top of all that I’m studying like crazy to pass my exam Perspectives on History and I’m trying to finish all my reading for my Ba thesis. It’s a bit stressfull at the moment, but I’m really enjoying myself with all the different projects! Of course I’m still reading for entertainment too. And yesterday I read a really awesome book called The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman. I hadn’t read anything by Neil before, but I’m putting his name on my ‘authors to follow’ list! So what’s this book about?

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

 

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I loved everything about this book! Bod is a really sympathetic and cool main character. Throughout the story the reader sees him growing up, following him from toddler to teen. Bod is headstrong, kind, adventurous, and really curious. His curiosity paired with his sense of adventure leads him into all kind of mysteries and troubles. And along the way he finds a lot of friends in unlikely places. From a human girl wandering the cemetery ground, to the ghost of a teenage-aged witch buried in unhallowed ground, from a troublesome guardianghost in a Celtic burial mound to the entrance of a world full of corpse-eating monsters. But, despite all these mysteries contained on one ancient cemetery Bod yearns to discover the world of ordinary humans. People who breathe and exist like him. Yet that is the one thing Bod can’t do because when he leaves the graveyard a ruthless clan of killers will find him and finish the job they started when Bod was just a little boy. However, as Bod gets older he doesn’t care about the consequences anymore. He wants to go to school and lead at least part of a normal life. When his guardian Silas agrees to Bod going to a normal school everything changes and the inevitable future is set into motion…

I really liked the fact that all the inhabitants of the graveyard became a surrogate family for Bod. He is adopted by the Owenses, a lovely couple from the eighteenth (or nineteenth?) century. His education is provided by ghosts from different places and times and not only teaches him basic things like reading and writing, but also fading, dreamwalking and scaring people mentally. In some ways Bod is like the ghosts that are his family and in others he is as human as the rest of us. He literally balances on the divide between the living and the dead. But, the more he is immersed in the real world the weaker his connection with the dead becomes.

Added to this wonderfully magic background is the suspense of the killers that want to kill Bod. Why was his family murdered? Why does the murderer still want to finish his job? And why is there a whole clan of killers involved in these murders? I won’t betray the plot here, but I thought the plot was geniously created and masterfully unraffled.

At the end of the book I really had to do my best not to cry. Because Bod is human he can’t stay on the graveyard forever. This also means that a farewell is inevitable. However, I never suspected how final that last goodbye would be. The ending is kind of happy-sad. The reader knows that Bod has an adventurous future ahead of him, but he also has to leave everything he has ever known and cared about behind.

If you’re looking for a suspensefull, magical story with a sympathetic main character and loads of interesting supporting  characters pick up Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book! Who knew how fantastical a Junglebook  retelling could be?!

A spacetime lovestory

Hey you guys and girls I’ve got a great new book for you! As official reviewer for Dutch Venture Publishing I get to read Dutch YA and NA novels even before they are available in bookstores. A week ago I received an email informing me that a new New Adult title was ready to be reviewed. When I read the description I knew right away that this was a book I wanted to read and when I started reading yesterday I couldn’t stop anymore! The book I’m talking about is Laat me sterren zien (translated to English: Show me stars) by Lizzie van den Ham. Let me first tell you what this book is about and then I will convince you why you have to read this one!

Tori is determined to start over, far away from her meddlesome parents. What could be further from home than a place billions of miles away? Tori spent her life as ambassadors daughter on the planet Mars, but her internship takes place on a spacestation near Saturn. The ideal place to turn a new leaf.

But starting over without dealing with the past proves more difficult than Tori could have imagined. After a horrific experience with a boy that wouldn’t accept ‘no’ she’s still scared to let any man come to close. Especially a sexy man like Alen Novak, head of security. Alen is just as arrogant as he is handsome. And his dark past makes him even more dangerous, yet alluring. 

Can Tori learn to trust and love again? 

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I don’t know if I ever mentioned this but I love romance stories that take place in outerspace! It doesn’t matter if it’s a romance between a human and an alien or between humans in space, or between aliens. I’m just totally in love with the idea of love in space (don’t ask me why, because I don’t know why haha). In this book Earth has been devastated by wars and humans have ventured to the planets in our own starsystem to set up colonies. Main character Victoria, Tori for friends, has lived her whole life on Mars but has had enough of her controlling and slightly snobbish parents. When she gets the chance to take an internship as astrobiologist on Saturn and its moons she doesn’t think twice and departs.

Tori is a real nice main character. She’s sweet, innocent, and headstrong. Even though she grew up in an environment of privilege and wealth she never became a snob and doesn’t look down on people. She hates her Elitist upbringing and the way the Elite behaves. For Tori the character of people is way more important. However strong she may be, she’s also terrified of men and love due to an experience with a boy a year ago, making her seem stand-offish.

I loved the character of Alen, Tori’s love interest. He’s a man that has had a rough life and has struggled to achieve everything he has in life. He works hard, is real smart, kind to everybody and believes in fair chances. However, he hates the Elite and their arrogance. Moreover he is haunted by his past, as a orphan and criminal.

The romance between these two troubled characters is really well-developed and thought out. Alen dislikes Tori at first sight because of where she came from and what she represents. Tori thinks Alen is cute, but his despise and his presence scare her more than she’s willing to admit. Slowly but surely Alen discovers that Tori is not the arrogant and spoiled Elitist girl he thinks she is, but he can’t figure out why she’s nice and flirty on the one hand and seems scared of him on the other. Leading him to believe that she knows he has been in prison and she dislikes him for his past. Tori really likes Alen but his mere presence is intimidating and when he turns on his charm he’s irresistable but even more intimidating. She can’t help but fall for him but be scared of everything that entails. What if she opens her heart again and she will get hurt again? After all some men are not what they seem. A game of push and pull keeps them hovering around each other but at the same time apart. Mixed messages, wrong assumptions and prejudice separate them every time they get close to one another. It will take trust on Tori’s part and a freedom of the past on Alen’s part to get them together.

Added to this realistic and well-developed romance is the intrigue of a traitor on the spacestation. While the tension between the main characters rises, a scientist starts selling information to an interested party not afraid to start a war over resources and plunges everybody in danger. Can Saturn, its moons, and all the people living on them be saved in time and will Tori and Alen finally get together? Read the book and you will find out ;).

This book has a realistic romance, two troubled main characters that are fated to find each other and a good suspense that will keep you glued to the pages! Another must read for romance and New Adult fans.